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To the women in the Facebook “Moms Alumni” group of a now-defunct ministry focused on teens, thank you.

Thank you for not understanding.

Thank you for the tears my wife cried today because she no longer fit into your group.  Thank you for so kindly telling her that because she’s never been pregnant or even had a miscarriage, that she’s not a mom.  That she doesn’t belong in your Facebook group.

Thank you for clarifying exactly what infertility does to someone…. makes them feel alone.

And thank you for doing it just ONE DAY AFTER Mothers day.

 

To my wife, who called me today in tears, who skipped church yesterday because Mothers Day for a woman dealing with infertility is hard enough without seeing baby dedications and a celebration of something she longs for; to my wife I say

Thank you.

Thank you for responding with so much love to the words you received today.  Thank you for the grace you showed.  Thank you for calming me down and for helping me see things from their perspective and for gently reminding me

“Honey, it’s a group for Mom’s.  And I’m not a mom.”

Thank you for your strength through all of this.

Because I know this is not easy.

and finally

 

To our future little person, regardless of how long it takes for you to get here, you’re going to have a great life because you’ve got a hell of a mom.  She’s strong, passionate, Christ like, stubborn, beautiful, tall and iron-willed.  You’re will be fought for, protected, love and raised by the most amazing woman I’ve ever known.

And when you’re older, we’ll tell you the story of how long your mother and I waited for you.  How you’re a gift to us.  And how awesome you are.

 

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I believe a lie.

Unintentionally.

Or, maybe even intentionally.

I believe a lie.

Some part of me has accepted as eternal what I know is only temporary.  Some part of me has assumed that life would always be the way it is right now.  Or the way it was a little more than 4 weeks ago.

I know, a lot of folks would look at the death of a pet as just that, the death of a pet.  Rarely however, do we know the whole story of another’s life.

When you’ve been trying to get pregnant for the better part of 2.5 years and have had no success, when you see your wife go through month after month perfectly healthy cycles, when the doctors prognosis is “unexplained infertility”, a pet may take on a little more meaning.

4 weeks ago our world was turned inside out.img_2810

What was the two of us and our beautiful Bailey working through this thing called infertility became just the two of us navigating unexpected and uncharted waters.

It’s not been easy.

And it’s been harder on my wife.

She’s fought so hard to keep a positive attitude even when it seemed like every couple we knew were cranking out kids like I sneeze around cats, that losing our “little girl” hit her hard.

There have been lots of tears.  Lots of “why?”.  Lots of trying to understand how my wife, who wants to love a child with all her being would have the closest thing we have to a child taken so suddenly.

It doesn’t make sense.

But it does make me love her more.

5 years ago this month I asked her to marry me, and I can say without any doubt that I wouldn’t want to walk this road with anyone but her.

She is strong.  She is brave.  She is passionate.  She is powerful and beautiful and caring.  She is an amazing woman and an amazing mom to our four-legged daughter.  And it angers me to know I cannot fix what is now wrong.

Time doesn’t heal wounds.

Yes, it takes time for us to understand what broke, to deal with the emotions, to talk through and work through the mess, but time is nothing more than the road traveled on the path to healing.

I don’t know what lies next on the road ahead of us.  But I do know my wife will never walk it alone.

5 years ago I said “I Do”.  And I mean those words now more than I ever have.

I do love you with all my heart.  I do promise to be there through thick and thin.  I do think you’re cute even when you’re angry at me about something.  I do believe that God is still good and good will come of this.  I do know you’re so much stronger than you think.  I do know you’ve got a bright future.  I do want to wake up next to you for the rest of my life because

I do know we’re inseparable.

And with all the unknowns in life, I’m going to cling to what I do know.

I know I love you.  I know you love me.  And I know God loves us.

So wherever, whenever, anytime, anyplace

I do.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Kickstarter, it is a fundraising website designed to give those with  great ideas a platform to present their idea to the world, and then ask for funding from anyone interested in seeing that idea come to life.

Bands fund their indie albums, people create new ways to keep coffee hot, charge your iPhone or send something to space.

Recently, one idea has garnered a lot of press. The mini museum(http://www.minimuseum.com).

33 pieces of history. Pieces of the London Bridge, Abe Lincoln’s house and a triceratops horn. 33 nearly one-of-a-kind items for $299. I love it. I think it’s an awesome idea as it places things you’ve only heard about in your hands.

I want one.museum-13

But my desire goes far beyond the cool factor. And I couldn’t figure out why until now.

Stories.

It’s not 33 pieces of history. It’s 33 stories. 33 stories and the many stories that will be created talking about how cool the mini museum is.  Stories to be told around around something that holds stories already told.

I don’t want it for the cool factor, I want it for what it tells my heart. That I’m somehow more important for having it. That it somehow brings value to my existence.

It’s not that I need a piece of the Berlin Wall, but that I need stories. And part of me wants to replace the stories I do have, my past, with something better.

Because I don’t like my story.

I don’t like the pages I didn’t get to write. And I don’t like some if the pages I wrote myself.

I want a different story. I don’t want to be the son of an absentee father. The son of divorced parents. Or the son of a family that’s been through the hell we’ve been through. I’ve somehow bought the lie that something new and shiny can change the tarnish staining my past.

It can’t. Nothing can.

But it’s not the tarnish that matters. Because if you look below the tarnishing, you see the indelible ink imprinted on my soul.

“I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places… You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.” (Isaiah 58:9-12 MSG)”

Museum or not, my past, your past is unchanging.  But it is not my present.  Nor will it be my future.

The stories I live will not be defined by the knickknacks on my coffee table, but by those I chose to love, and those who love me.  My past defined a large part of who I was, but the ink on my soul defines my future.  And nothing can change that.

For the Cross – Bethel Music

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and talked with you like this.  Since I’ve come without a list of needs or desires, hopes or hurts.

Since I’ve come simply to say thank you.

Thank you for grace.  For your provision.  For joy.

For her.

I came home today and she and I just talked.

And then one of her favorite songs came on.

And we danced in the living room.

Our living room, in our little house.

Surrounded by our yard that our dog loves to run in.

Our lives, my life.

Thank you.

You didn’t have to send your Son.  You didn’t have to care so much.  You didn’t have to love me the way you do.

You didn’t have to give me her, but you did.

And secondly only to finding the grace that You so freely give, she is my most precious gift.

Thank you.

 

Angel – Martin Smith 

I spent four days in the hospital this week.  Attached to IV’s.  Healing from something I didn’t even know had attacked me.  I didn’t know how to spell it’s name until Monday evening.  And Monday afternoon, when that stomach ache kicked in, I had no idea where the week was headed.

And yes – I could sit here and question why it happened.  But I’m choosing not to.  Because I know the answer.  There is an enemy that seeks to destroy us, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically.  He attacked.  We won.  Moving on.

I spent the large part of the first two days on morphine. sleeping between doses as my body learned to deal with dinner via IV.  The final few days I was more with it as my body was healing, I didn’t need the morphine, and I was better able to deal without food.

The hardest parts were the nights.  I was exhausted.  And I’d begin to doze off around 11pm but would snap awake at 12:30 and just lay there for hours.

In the middle of the night, when you’re lying in a dark hospital room unable to sleep, you begin to question, fear, and freak yourself out.

I didn’t want more medication to help me sleep.  I simply wanted to go home.

But each night, all i had to do was look to my right, and there she was.  My Eve, my Wife, my Bride.  She stayed with me the entire four days.  Burning through all the vacation time she had and some she didn’t.  Helping me put my socks on, tie my hospital gown, sit up, sit down, use the bathroom, take a shower and anything else that gets very difficult with an IV stuck in your right hand.

She was there.  She never left.  And through those nights, her presence, and the presence of my Heavenly Father kept me going.

My Eve,

I love you more today than I did a week ago.  I am more thankful for the time we get each day, and more conscious of the precious gift you are.  I will never be able to repay you for this week.  But I will spend every day trying to show you the same love you showed me.  

You were courageous this week and you conquered something we never saw coming.  You were gracious, forgiving, kind and gentle.  In a word, you were amazing.

And you were by my side.  

Thank you.  I cannot wait to live the next pages of our story with you.

You are beautiful.

And I love you.  Forever.

This past weekend ended with my wife and I attending the wedding of a friend.  It was a beautiful wedding, simple, elegant, pure.  There were tears of joy, of laughter, and the very beginning of a brand new story.  The wedding was what all weddings should be, wonderful.

During the reception we were blessed to sit with a husband and wife in their 50’s.  A couple, old enough to be our parents.  And they have an absolute lifetime full of stories to tell.  The evening was quickly filled with stories of redemption, of second marriages and second chances for them both, and freedom from more than a decade of drug use.

But what stood out the most was that they were still in love.  Madly in love.  Sharing whispers and quiet looks, holding hands and laughing.  You could just tell.  They were just as in love now, as they were when they tied the not.  And as they approach their retirement years, it was very obvious that there is more life and energy in them now than at any other time they’ve been alive.

The love they have for each other was beautiful.

I was humbled, and almost brought to tears.

Because I want that.  For me, for my beautiful bride.  For us.

I want to be the type of man who will be more in love with his bride in 20 years than he is now.  I want to be the type of man who steals a glance and looks longingly at her from across the room when I’m 52.  I want to be the type of man whose wife never doubts his love for her.

And part of me is afraid that I cannot be that type of man.  Afraid because I never had that man as a father.

But I cannot hide there, in my circumstances.  Yes, the fact is, my father was never the man he should have been. But I will not be defined by the path my father forged.  I am fully capable of forging my own.

Beyond the fact that my earthly father may not have been there for me lies a truth I cannot ignore, my Heavenly Father was.

I know, it sounds like some pat answer, like I’m hiding behind my religion.  I’m not.  Because when I say those words, I don’t say them lightly.  Those words carry weight because I can testify to the love I’ve seen from my Heavenly Father.

And it is that love, it is because of that love that I will forge my own path.

And I will be the man I want to be, the man my wife deserves.

Tonight was an amazing night of friends and laughter.  But tonight was more than that, it was more than just veggie trays, games and the sounds of fun.  Yes, tonight reminded me of how rich life is, but it also reminded me of how much I chose to miss out on.

I sat surrounded by people whom I love, but I realized, these are also people whom I do not know well enough.

We weren’t just called to be friends, we were called, created for fellowship.  We were called for something more than laughter, we were called to be there through the tears as well.

I realized this evening that although I sat surrounded by friends, I couldn’t tell you what each one dreamed about.  I couldn’t tell you there stories, not the stories that made them who they are.

I realized tonight that as rich as this life is, we shortchange ourselves when we are not who we were created to be.  When we put on a false front, pretend all is well, and are not true to ourselves and our dreams, we are forced to settle for a life of muted color, stripped of its power and devoid of depth.

I realized tonight, again, that it’s in the lifelong relationships forged from the sharing of ones heart that we find true beauty.  It’s in those relationship that life is found in its richest of color, in its most brilliant of light and in its deepest depths.

I want that.  I want to see those I love in the brilliance of who they are, painted in their true colors.

I will start with the friend, companion, person closest to me, my wife.  I want to know everything there is to know about her.  Her dreams, passions, desires, her hurts, fears and longings.  I want her heart to know it is safe with me.  Safe to paint, to dream, to create.  For she is amazing, beautiful and mysterious.

Tonight reminded me of the things in this life that matter the most.  As I sat, surrounded by friends and family, and as we gathered to celebrate a brief homecoming of a solider and friend, it clicked. I realized that I have an amazing life. And that the people in that room, eating from veggie trays and laughing at inside jokes, these are the people that make life beautiful. My wife and our friends are the richest of gifts I’ve ever been given. Tonight, I am humbled and thankful because tonight, I know I am wealthy in ways money will never buy.

I may not change overnight, but I will start now.

I don’t own a wallet. Long ago I traded it in for the smaller size of a money clip. But there are certain things about a wallet that I miss. It’s hard to carry receipts, or much of anything really, in a money clip.  You cannot fit that picture of the old gang at the county fair, the stub from the big game, or the fortune from that Chinese food restaurant with the hilarious waiter.

Why do we carry such items? Do I really need to know when I saw Castaway? Or when I had second row seats to Future of Forestry? Do those little pieces of paper, stubs, receipts, pictures, mean anything?

In and of themselves, no, they do not. But they represent memories. And memories, more than anything, are what make up life.

Memories are stories to tell.

Stories of the time you stayed up until 4am at Waffle House, simply because the person you were with made it hard to say goodnight. Or that time you and your family laughed so hysterically at absolutely nothing while driving through Chicken Express that the wait staff seemed almost certain you were on illegal substances.

Our wallets, our pursues hold not only paper and plastic, but stories to tell, stories that bring depth to life and color to our worlds.

I don’t carry a wallet, but if I did, there are certain stories it would tell you about the last 6 months. Stories of love, of hard work, of doubt and uncertainty.  And stories of doubt and uncertainty swallowed up in love and grace. Stories with impossible odds and stories of the God of the impossible coming through when we saw no way.

My wallet would have pictures of 4am at waffle house, of beautiful thunderstorms and views of the city from high atop its quiet parking garages. And it would have pictures of this amazing woman who has chosen to love me, and whom I love.

I may not carry a wallet, but in its place, my heart carries memories. Memories and reminders of a God who is faithful, even when I am not. Of the love of a woman I do not deserve, but am so thankful for and memories of a life I am only beginning to live.

The thing I love the most, isn’t just the memory, but what that memory ultimately stands for.

Hope.

I have hope, faith, in a God who has come through when we needed Him. I have hope, knowing He loves us. I have hope knowing that He wants the best for us and that He is good. I have hope knowing that His heart for us is good.

I have hope, a knowing, that the God I serve is good beyond all other good. I have this hope, because He has shown it to me.

The God I serve loves me unconditionally, beyond all I could imagine.

I have hope, because He has given me hope.

Matt Redman – Holy

If, at the beginning of this year, you would have told me all that would happen before it would draw to a close I would have thought you were crazy. There is no way I would have believed you.

Had you told me that on December 24, I’d be vanquished to the guest bedroom of my future in-laws house as my fiancé tried on her wedding dress just on the other side of the door, I would have questioned our friendship. And I probably would have quietly wondered if you should be committed.

The moral of this story, of this year? To be honest, I’m not sure. But I think the lesson I am supposed to learn is that we never know. We never know what our stories will bring. We never know what lies over the next hill, or around that next corner.

I sat in church this evening, and something finally clicked. I think I finally began to understand why. Why we define our very timeline, our history, our years by the birth of One. Why it had to happen.

You see, over the past few months, my life, my heart, my soul have all changed. I’ve discovered a love I didn’t know existed. And it’s because of this love, this amazing gift I’ve been given, that I believe I’m finally beginning to get Christmas.

I am only tasting the type of love that God has for us. But through this gift, through the love that has planted itself in my heart for my fiancé, I’m beginning to taste it. And I’m beginning to understand why a perfect God would love an imperfect people as much as He does.

Why Christmas? What was it all about?

You.

You are the reason for Christmas. You are the reason that a perfect God sent His only Son to live a perfect life. You are the reason that His son died a gruesome death. You are the reason He came.

He loves you. More that you could possibly understand. And this season, more than anything, He wants you to know that you are worth it. You are worth what His son went through. His love for you was so strong that He sent His Son 2000 years ago to die in your place. This Son paid the price for your imperfect life, so you could spend eternity with a perfect Father.

You. You are worth it. And He? He can be trusted.

Whatever happened this year, I urge you to let it go. Because you do not know, and I do not know what lies beyond that next hill, or around that next corner. I do not know what 2012 will write onto our hearts. All I know is that this year, my heart grew to include an amazing woman. A woman I want to spend the rest of my life with. And all I know is that He brought us through this year. And He can be trusted.

I do not know what 2012 will bring.

But I know the Author. I know He loves us. And that, is Christmas. And that is everything

A few weeks ago while on my way home in the car with my girlfriend, I confessed something that I do my best to hide.

I confessed one of my greatest fears.

Ten years ago this past week, my life changed. While September 11 had the nation in shock and riveted to their TV sets, our family was disintegrating.  And less than three days after our nation was attacked, my family began a journey that would come to define the next decade.

I don’t think we completely understood then what the next ten years would bring.  But down deep, I think we knew things would never be the same.  I can still remember the day they left.  I remember saying goodbye in the parking lot near my job.  I remember the tears, the uncertainty, and the determination to make light of a situation that was anything but.

I remember the pain and loneliness that followed.  I remember the fear.  I remember feeling more alone and abandoned than I knew was possible.  And I remember finding places inside I didn’t know could hurt.

I remember waking up knowing I was still alive because the ache was so strong.

The Decade

It’s been a long ten years. I’m not the same person I was then.

None of us are.

And although this past week is a hard reminder of pages written, although this week brings memories of moments that changed our lives forever, there is something new.

There is hope.

There is a grace I now sense, guiding me through the coming days.

On that short car ride, I opened up and shared just a shadow of the pain that began 10 years ago.  And I told of my greatest fear, of being left behind again.

I wasn’t laughed at.  I wasn’t scolded or corrected.  I was accepted.  I was prayed for.  I was offered something I’ve been praying for, for a long time.

I was offered love.

Promises

Later that evening, I was thinking about this week, and what it would mean.

I don’t profess to hear God audibly, but as I stood in the shower, I broke down.  Because I heard Him, clearly, in my heart.

This time will not be like the last.

I was His son.  And this was His promise.  This was my rainbow.

This was my promise that my family would never have to go through this again.  There wouldn’t be any more Thanksgivings at Denny’s, or days spent volunteering at a food pantry just so there would be something on the table that night.

I am His son.  And this is His promise.

This time, this decade will not be like the last.

Passion – Healing is in Your Hands

history

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