Missing the Rainbows

Tis the season for late summer rain. The kind of intense rain that pops up out of nowhere in the midst of full sunlight. It is both beautiful and can instantly ruin any outdoor event. One of the best parts of summer showers are the almost guaranteed rainbows that accompany them. Lately, I’ve noticed several people talking about or posting pictures of rainbows. Some have even seen the lucrative double rainbow. (I know there is an entire sermon to be preached on the subject of social media and the horrendous comparison that comes with it, but that’s not what I want to write about, today.)

After seeing so many pictures of rainbows I started looking through my own pictures. Normally, I would also have my own evidence of such beauty in the skies. However, not surprisingly, I don’t have any pictures of rainbows. In fact, I don’t have many pictures outdoors lately. The only picture of the outside world I had from the last few weeks was a picture of fog. The cynic in me thought, “that seems about right.”

I’m living in the fog and I can’t see the rainbows.

Yesterday afternoon I told Robert that lately I have resonated with Job more than I did right after Jane’s death. I also echo the sentiments of Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes. “Everything is meaningless.” Please don’t worry, I’m not suffering postpartum depression and I certainly feel safe, but it has become easy to look at life through the fog and wonder what I’m even doing anymore. What am I supposed to do? Solomon tells us at the end of Ecclesiastes, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” [1]

Fear God and keep his commandments. What are his commandments? Jesus tells us, to love God and love others. [2] So I know what to do, why is it so challenging right now? Because I’m living in the fog and I can’t see the rainbows. In the midnight hours I started pondering this truth. Thought about the rainbow and what it means. A covenant. A promise. I thought of Noah and his family. [3] I wondered if maybe Noah’s wife was busy and some how missed seeing the rainbow. I wondered if they constantly looked to the skies for a rainbow in the future, looking for some encouragement of the promise God made. I wondered if when the rainbow wasn’t present they thought maybe the promise wasn’t present either.

I confess, I haven’t seen any rainbows lately, both literally and figuratively. I know Jesus is near and I know he is faithful, but a lot of his promises feel distant and invisible. But the good news is that God is keeping his promises whether or not we see the sign of those promises. Imagine the foretelling of Jesus arrival. Hundreds of years, a promised Messiah and for so long, no sign of him. Did God forget his promise? Did God change his mind? Of course not. God fulfills his promises because he is holy, gracious and just. The fulfillment of God’s promises do not depend on me recognizing them. The Word of God does not depend on my interpretation or acknowledgment. Praise the Lord!

The fulfillment God’s promises do not depend on me recognizing them. The Word of God does not depend on my interpretation or acknowledgment.

Maybe you haven’t been seeing rainbows lately either. Be encouraged friends, God keeps his promises. He keeps his promise on clear days, in the storms and in the fog. Missing the rainbow doesn’t mean we have missed the promise. Jesus is the sign and we can always look to him regardless of our current conditions.

[1] Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

[2] Matthew 22:37-40

[3] Genesis 9:12-17

The Story of the Book

On March 25th at around 4am I woke up. It had been one month since Jane passed away. I hadn’t been sleeping well for a month, so it wasn’t unusual to wake up from a poor night of sleep. I was tired and there were dried and fresh tears on my cheeks. As I looked vacantly at the wall in my quiet and dark room, I had the simplest idea for a story. I reached for my phone and started writing what would become Old and New Friends. I wrote the entire story, start to finish before 5am. I put my phone down and went back to sleep.

Later in the morning I told Robert about the story. “I wrote a short story for the kids. And myself too, if I’m being honest.” I went on to explain that our life felt vastly different than the life we had been living a month prior. The stark contrast, big emotions and confusion of it all felt overwhelming for me. I knew it was overwhelming for our children too. I desperately wanted to put words to feelings. I wanted things to be more easily understood. I wanted feelings acknowledged and validated. Most of all I wanted the reminder of who was at the center of our story and the power of his love. Robert read the story quietly and I could tell in that moment I had written the story for him too.

Over the next couple of days I asked friends and family the best way to make this story into a simple book for my children. I had no plan of publishing. God had different plans. The more people read the story, the more I received a similar response, “You should publish, this could be a wonderful book for others too”.

Honestly, I didn’t want to publish. It felt too personal. I knew the path of publishing is incredibly difficult. But I heard from people who had lost children of their own, people who had lost parents or grandparents, people that had gone through a divorce, people who were facing difficult health diagnoses and even some that admitted they had faced the loss of dreams and ideals that never came to fruition. The book resonated with them and encouraged them.

I knew that the idea, the story and the very words were all from the Lord. This is not my talent or fantastic creativity, it’s from the Father. I also knew that if he gave me the story to write I should let him use it in any way he saw fit, even if it meant publishing.

The story of Old and New Friends is a simple story about a family that loves to entertain and spend time with their friends. But when the family experiences a great loss their old friends, like Happiness and Comfort, stop coming over and they find that new friends, like Grief and Anger, start arriving. But no matter what friends are around the family finds that they can always count on their oldest, most faithful friend, Love.

It is my heart’s desire that this book would encourage and point many people to the love of Jesus. I never imagined I would write a children’s book, but I also never imagined to experience our profound loss either. It is our aim to suffer well and comfort those as we have been comforted. I truly believe this book is as much for the heart’s of grown ups that will read it to children as for the little hearts that will listen. In all situations that this book is read, may God be glorified.

This book has been a gift from the Lord, a labor of love and an enormous learning curve. I would love for you to share this with friends, family and anyone you think could be encouraged by this book.

1000 Words

A picture is worth a thousand words. That’s the saying.

Since having our first baby eight years ago we have tried to choose certain traditions that we thought we could maintain no matter how many children we had. I’ve made baby quilts, kept a (sometimes sparse) baby book, and had newborn photos made of each baby. The traditions have undoubtedly become more difficult to maintain with the addition of each child, but we have managed to complete them all.

We scheduled newborn photos of Lucy when she was one week old. The nursery was clean, the kids were bathed and outfits were carefully chosen. I knew the entire experience would be difficult. Pictures are a harsh reminder that someone is missing. Our photographer was incredibly gracious and the photos are beautiful, but Jane is not in them. I didn’t know how I wanted to handle including Jane in the pictures. To leave her out completely felt wrong, but other ideas seemed superficial and unnatural. At the last moment, we simply put Lucy in her crib next to one of our favorite pictures of Jane. Robert had to leave the room. I swallowed tears.

A couple of days ago, we received the first sneak peak of pictures. The first picture I saw was the one of Lucy next to Jane’s picture. I sobbed. “Why is this the picture I have of my daughters?!” I lamented to the Lord. It’s not the picture I wanted. I wanted to be teaching Jane how to hold her hand under Lucy’s head. I wanted to be reminding Jane to use her inside voice because she would have been so excited she wouldn’t have been able to control the volume of her voice or squeals. It wasn’t my plan. I wanted something so different.

It’s not the picture I wanted. I wanted something so different.

Today marks five months since Jane passed away. I now hold Lucy in my arms, and Jane only in my heart and memories. In a way, the pain of losing Jane has actually grown with the arrival of Lucy. When we found out we were expecting last November, I was pretty confident this would be our last baby. I anticipated, then, that the arrival of this last child would make our family feel complete. So we have been waiting for Lucy. Even since losing Jane, we still anticipated this blessed baby’s arrival. We are overjoyed with Lucy, but now that she is here it feels we are still waiting. Our family does not feel complete.

So I lament.

Lord, why is this our story? What wretched pain and suffering we are enduring. It feels like there is no end in sight. All of our children are such beautiful blessings. It hurts that one was taken away. I fear the loss of more. Sorrow billows and overwhelms us daily. Exhaustions permeates our home. Yet, you O Lord are near. You are with us in our pain. You are with us in our sorrow. You bring peace and rest to our weary souls. You know our story completely. Your ways are higher and I trust you. When words fail, your Spirit intercedes. I can stand on the promises and principles of Scripture because you are holy and your words are true. When we feel incomplete, we can find healing in you.

A picture is worth a thousand words. That’s the saying, but this picture of sisters, the picture of our life seems to need thousands and thousands of words. We need more words to express our heartache, but we need even more words to tell of God’s faithfulness.