Wednesday, March 24, 2010

God's Glory

About 4 years ago my brother Andy and I were driving on my parents ranch. Andy stopped our jeep at the top of one of the canyons and pointed to the other side and said "Do you see those deer over there?" and when he said over there, he meant way over there...2 little four legged specks on the horizon. I asked him how did you ever see them. He replied, "You have to train your eyes to look for movement. The landscape was still, I saw one of those deers flick its ear...its movement stood out." At the time I was preparing to lead a retreat on Elijah. I had been studying about Elijah praying and seeing a small cloud, the size of a man's fist rising from the sea. ( 1 Kings 18) I realized the only way Elijah ever saw that cloud was that he had trained his eyes to look for movement. He had trained his eyes to see even the smallest movement of the Lord.

I wanted those trained spiritual eyes for our family, for Tony and I, for our children. So I committed that each day as I buckled in our children we would talk about looking for the movement of God in our the Lord was training me to see Him, I wanted to be training my children as well...this eventually evolved into us saying, "how do you see God's glory?" Each day as we ran our errands, drove to preschool, did our every day thing, we began looking for God's glory...and we started noticing it in ways we never had before. When Payton bumped his head and a huge knot formed...we talked about God's the Lord revealed His power through Payton's body responding in that way...How when Benjamin got a stomach virus God's glory was revealed through Benjamin's body knowing when to get something out even when he himself did not know something was even in there, etc....(Certainly we have not talked about this every single day...there have been days, even weeks when we have not talked about it, (we are a million miles away from the consistency we long for in everything...our human imperfection is glaringly obvious))...But we always return to talking about it as a family. We want to see the Lord and our conversation often turn to ways we do.

On december 22, 2009 Tony and I saw the Lord moving, we saw His glory. Tony's dad had passed away just 3 months earlier...and we had been struggling, as individuals, as a couple, as life. Grief affects people differently. Sometimes it pushes people together...other times it pulls you apart. We were somewhere in the middle. We were both hurting.

On dec, 22 we got a burst of life. We found out to our complete shock and delight that Baby Brooks #4 would be arriving on Sept 1. 2010. We stood in our bathroom and for the first time in a long time, we laughed out loud at the craziness of life, we thanked the Lord for His movement, for His reminder that life continues, and for the hope this new life symbolized to both of us. We were over the moon.

I went in on January 12 for my first ob appointment. Everything looked great...until our sonogram. I measured to be 7 weeks along but they could not find a heartbeat. "But do not worry, because sometimes at this stage you cannot see one.We will check again next week." I learned right there that there is a completely opposite feeling of the elation you feel when you see your child's heartbeat....the sinking feeling of not seeing it. I was immediately devastated. My family and friends immediately fell to their knees on behalf of this life...reminding me of stories exactly like this that had produced precious, cherished babies. I begged the Lord for this child...I claimed every tear as a prayer...I recounted every Scripture I could think of knowing His power, knowing He already knew well this child we prayed for, but begging that I would get to know them on this earth.

On Sunday January 24th (I was to be 9 weeks pregnant on Wednesday) I started cramping and then that turned into more. I held onto hope through the night, even while cramping and bleeding; I recounted stories of this same thing happening to others and lo and behold the baby was fine....the Internet is filled with such hope and such despair...I had chosen during the weeks of this pregnancy to choose hope.

On Monday morning the Lord answered each and every one of our prayers. We had been asking for Him to make His will known and He did. As I was walking down the hall I yelled at Tony and my mom that I was about to pass out. (Benjamin had begun suffering with incredible abdominal pains and we were preparing to take him to what would be the first of 3 ER visits that would finally end in a hospital stay.) Tony ran to help me and as he did I felt my body let go of this pregnancy. I have never felt anything like that, I hope to never feel it again. I told my sister-in-law through sobs, "It is a crazy thing to see everything that you have hoped and dreamed for about to be flushed down your toilet." Her words were a balm to my heart as she said, "Everything you hoped and dreamed for was not in that toilet....everything you hoped and dreamed for is in the arms of Jesus." I sent out this text message to our family and friends at 9:25 Monday morning. "Our pregnancy ended this morning. We were given the unique opportunity to plead with the Lord for the life of this child and we have, trusting His will would prevail. Thank you so much for crying out on our behalf. The Lord gives, the Lord takes; blessed be His name. We trust Him. Thank you for walking this road with us."

Later that day, after getting Benjamin somewhat settled I headed to my dr.'s office so they could do a sonogram to make sure their were no remnants of our baby still in my body. As the sono tech came in she smiled and asked if I had any questions, anything I was needing to talk about. I was concentrating on trying to talk without sobbing. It was not working...When all of the sudden I felt a peace I cannot explain come over me and I was able to say through tears, "I saw the Glory of God today. It was a way I never hoped I would see it, but in the craziest of ways it was beautiful. He reveals His glory in His creation and I saw with my own two eyes He was creating something in me. I saw His glory." The sono tech began to cry and without saying a word walked over and embraced me. We cried together over Tony and I's loss. She prayed for me...and then she took a step back and said, "I know the Lord and He never takes something away without giving you something else. Your baby is gone from this earth, but He has placed within you a testimony. "

We had never shared with our boys that we were expecting. They still have no idea. We had purchased a big sister shirt for Eden and were planning on bringing her out one morning in it. Our broken hearts of that day and our tears fit into the coming days of sleepless nights and anguish of watching our 5 year old wrestle in pain while his doctors tried to figure out what was happening. In the quietness at the hospital one day when Benjamin had been given enough morphine that he could sleep my mom said, "someday you will begin to cry and not know why, your grief has had to be pushed aside so you could help Benjamin, but it is still there, and it will rise up."

This past Sunday night it rose up. I woke myself up crying. Aching to feel a baby inside that left a long time ago. I got up and wandered around our house, checked on all our kids then went back to Eden's room. I picked up her little sleeping body and rocked her while I cried and prayed...asking the Lord to take every tear as a prayer of thankfulness for the 3 children I have been given here on earth, and the one who I will someday meet. And I thanked Him that in His sweetness He reveals Himself not just through giving, but also through taking away.

My sweet children (p, b and e)....this blog is for you. Someday you will read it and you will know this pain we have experienced. But that is not all you will know, your dad and I hope you will see that in the pain we saw the Lord...we love seeing Him in the daily joys of watching all 3 of you stumble down the hall rubbing your eyes in the morning, in watching you all laugh out loud through out our days, in watching you run across the yard with the wind in your face...but joy is not the only place He is found. He is there in loss...perhaps He feels even closer because we are so desperate for Him. Continue to look for His movement...and remember that every time He takes something away, He gives you something else. May His glory continue to be revealed in each of our children...all four of you.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Baby and Balance...

First off...You cannot imagine the joy in our hearts that Andy and Jessica are expecting their first baby on September 27th...We are beside ourselves to meet the newest little Jeffrey. It is a sweet gift from the Lord to watch people you love so dearly begin a journey that you know to be filled with such great depths of emotion...Being a parent makes everything come alive in a whole new love deeper, cry harder, celebrate the simple and rejoice more in the realization that apart from the Lord we really can do nothing. Andy and Jessica are beginning this journey...and they begin it centered on Jesus. It is beautiful to watch.

This is a picture of all of us last weekend at the FWC dinner with W (not pictured). And yes, Jessica is 3 months pregnant and wearing a skirt that pleats from the waist. How is it possible to be that cute? She is one of my all times favorites. (Though I have given up the dream that we will ever share clothes.:))

I cannot make this announcement without telling one of my favorite Andy stories...Just recently we were out at our families ranch and Andy was washing his hands in the bathroom. I saw Eden follow him in there so I said, "Hey Andy make sure Eden does not get into the toilet." Thinking he was watching her, I did not go get her. A few seconds later Andy called back, "Hey what was it you wanted Eden to get out of the toilet?" That's right, under her uncles supervision she was fully immersed, digging like nobodies business in the toilet bowl. Hilarious (and a bit disgusting) I have since explained that it is a rare day that you send your 18 month old in to dig anything out of a commode.He is going to be such a great dad! I cannot wait!

Our small groups at church are doing a series on being balanced...It is a series by Andy Stanley on the Lord and your finances. As a result of this we have been tracking our spending to see where our passions are...And here they are...The Lord, a good meal, medical bills, Sonic, sporting goods and hair bows*...and not necessarily in that order(based on our checkbook.) We (Tony and I) are longing to see some differences played out in our life in the coming months and years. We recognize it is all His. And we are calling ourselves back to living in that way. We want to free ourselves to be His hands and feet when He calls. We are longing to see Him lifted up in our finances. We want Him to change our hearts and change our desires. We want someday when we are gone for our children to be able to look back and say, "they really did love Him." and have that confirmed when they look through our finances. Lord, we are weak and worldly... be magnified in that weakness...

"To you, O God, belong the greatness and the might,
the glory, the victory, the majesty, the splendor;
Yes! Everything in heaven, everything on earth its yours;
the kingdom all yours! You've raised yourself high over all.
Riches and glory come from you,
you're ruler over all;
You hold strength and power in the palm of your hand
to build up and strengthen all.
And here we are, O God, our God, giving thanks to you,
praising your splendid Name."
1 Chronicles 29:11

* hair bows are not a massive part of our budget...but it was a tad shocking to myself how much has gone to the cuteness that is our daughter. But might I add, in defense of Eden, the journey to having the Brooks boys look like baseball perfection at the ripe old ages of 5 and 7 was eye opening as well.