Reflecting on Immanuel

The last couple of days, it’s been harder to answer the question, “How are you really doing?”  The truth is, I’m okay, I really am.  And I know one day, this will all be part of the story.

But at the same time, I’m wrestling.  I’m struggling to contain the whirlwind of emotions and I’m not sure what to do when I find an unexpected leak here and there.

When we started calling and texting all of our family to tell them that Josiah had come early, my aunt shared with me something I didn’t know I needed to hear until I had heard it…and it’s been echoing in the recesses of my soul ever since…

It’s okay to cry.  It’s okay to ask God, “Why??”  It’s okay to face the wave of emotions that will continue to come.  Your tears and your questions are not coming out of a place of unbelief.  You need to ask.  You need to wrestle.  You need to process.  Because when you do all of that before the God who is full of grace and mercy, you will begin to hear His voice.  

I have declared the truth and I will continue to declare it all the days of my life – the promise of God is that He will heal Josiah.  And something immeasurably glorious is going to come out of all of this.

But some days it’s still hard.

The day before Christmas Eve, the NICU organized a toy shoppe event at the hospital where parents could come and receive toys and gifts for their child.  We browsed through the vast selection of donated items, imagining the day when Josiah will one day play with mega blocks and toy trucks.

We got back to his room to find the monitors beeping and Josiah crying in his incubator.

My heart broke.

How many other times has our little boy been crying in his incubator because his diaper is wet or his tummy is hungry and there is no mommy or daddy to meet his basic needs?

On Christmas day, we were making the hour long drive after church to the NICU when I started to replay that scene in my head again, asking myself that same question once more.

God…why?  I asked.  He’s alone right now in his incubator.  What if he’s hungry?  What if he knows that mommy and daddy aren’t there?  How is it okay that my child is 34 weeks gestation, should have been in my womb for 6 more weeks, yet he already knows what it is like to be lonely?

And that’s when I heard Him.  It was a whisper, but it was clear.

I AM with him, child.

The tears started to flow.

Immanuel.  God with us.  It was the word that I had chosen for my One Word for 2016.  It was the word that I had claimed for this year, not fully realizing just how perfectly it would come to pass.

This journey has only just begun.  Our first steps into parenthood have brought us into uncharted territory.  I know there will be more days that break my heart, but also more moments that will take my breath away and cause me to wonder how I ever could have lived any other way.  There is a whole future unfolding before us that we are only beginning to grasp.

But this I know.  Immanuel.  He is with us.  Today, tomorrow, and the next.  He will never leave us.  Through our treasured days and our dark nights of the soul, we are never alone.

Advertisements

Silence

When my parents visited us in Kansas City this past November, one of the things they kept saying over and over again was that they felt like they had come to a quiet cabin in the woods.  Everything was so peaceful and still.  Now, mind you, our house is like any other home in the suburban sprawl across America; we just happen to have real, green grass and three giant trees in our yard instead of the usual cacti and rocks my parents are used to (a.k.a. Phoenix).

But there is some truth to their statement.  Ever since I’ve moved to the Midwest, I’ve felt like my soul has done some unwinding.  It’s the first time in my young adult life that I’ve experienced something of a Sabbath lifestyle.  Sure, there is still the daily routine, working, keeping up a home, meeting friends, etc.  But something about the pace is different.  Or perhaps I’ve given myself the permission to breathe.  Or maybe I’ve realized that I erroneously placed so much value on hyperventilating through my “ultra-stressful, ultra-productive” day as if that equated to my life having real meaning and purpose.

I recently heard a speaker and teacher share about his journey with the Lord and how early on in his Christian walk, God taught him the importance of starting or ending his day with silence.  He did not “empty his mind” in that hour; rather, he would focus his thoughts on an attribute of God (e.g. His faithfulness, His mercy, etc.) or gaze upon a painting of Jesus on the cross.  And as the traffic of his soul died down, he experienced some of the sweetest moments he has ever had with the Lord.

Around that same time, I came across this article on Relevant magazine written by Jayson D. Bradley.  It’s a provoking read, but some of his closing statements resounded with clarity in the dusty caverns of my soul…

“The silence we need is more than an absence of sound; it’s a break from constant stimulus and activity. It’s about allowing the tangled cords in our spirit and mind to unravel and be stilled. It’s about stopping the constant need to control our surroundings with our actions and words in a never-ending quest to drown out the unrest in our hearts. It’s about facing the dragon of emptiness, loneliness, frustration, anger, hurt and need head on—and doing the soul-wrenching work of letting Jesus deal with it.”

Yes.  All of that, yes.  So that’s when I decided I needed to learn how to be still and silent before His presence. Read more…