Wednesday, November 7, 2012

He is for me

Hello Dear Friends,

Please forgive my lack of blogging! The last few months have left me in desperation.  Desperation for Jesus Christ to infuse me with His strength and to bring about His glory from my weakness.  My weakness is so real.  My prayer is that I will remain faithful to my King.  I am comforted to know that even when I am faithless, He is faithful (2 Tim 2:13).

So today, I find myself snuggled in a big yellow chair with Christmas music humming softly in the background.  I am beginning the process of sorting through the past five months of my life.  I've been home for almost a month, but I have not had a free moment to sit and...well, just sit.  But to be honest, I've been avoiding this moment.

Because with this moment comes much grieving. I'm grieving because a season of life might be over forever.  I'm grieving the many, many babies who went to be with Jesus over the summer.  I'm grieving the ones who are so very sick that each moment just might be their life.  I'm grieving the ones who are left behind, simply waiting for the day when they'll have something, anything to call their own.  I'm grieving because I'm no longer with them and my arms are simply left with the memory of their warmth and weight.  I'm grieving because my precious Granddaddy is now with Jesus and although the thought brings much comfort...I miss him more than I thought possible.  I'm grieving because life is not always full of fuzzy feelings.  Reality is that sometimes the hard days outweigh the easy ones by  a large measure.

This summer, the Lord was kind to open my eyes to His work in the details.  I watched children who were supposed to die be united with their forever families.  I heard of God providing money where there was literally no money left.  I watch Him move mountains so that a little one could receive life-saving surgery.  I watched planes be on time and lost luggage be found (which in China, is huge!).  I watched medicine miraculously be found and life be revived.  I remember sitting down one day and shouting praise to my King, saying, "Lord, you are for them!  You really are for them!!!"

And I remember one of my sweet friends looking at me in that moment and saying, "Abby, He's for you, too."  Indeed, if God is for me, then please tell me...who can be against me?  No one and nothing.

Oh, satan will try.  Yes, He will try to weasel in.  He will try to discourage and deflate.  He will twist my view so that the outlook seems bleak and dreary.  He will trick me into feeling sorry for myself.  He will convince me that my God is not as good as I think He is.  He will desperately try anything to take my eyes off Jesus.

But he simply will not win.

And in that truth, we find great hope! The victory has been won!  In Jesus Christ, there is hope for the orphan.  There is grace for the sinner.  There is victory for the battle.  There is the promise that we will meet again.  So even in the midst of tears, questions, heartache, and dreariness.  We cling and we know that every ounce of suffering is temporary.  What a beautiful truth.

Thank you for journeying with me, dear ones.  Your prayers, emails, calls, notes, and encouragement have meant more to me than you can ever imagine.  The Lord has used each of you to strength me and give me grace for the journey.

I will leave you with a few pictures from my last week with the kiddos.  Priceless memories are a Grace from our Father.

With much love,


The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?
The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
Psalm 118:6-7

Friday, October 19, 2012

Closing Thoughts

Yesterday we buried my beloved Granddaddy.  Even though we were so ready for him to be with Jesus, its still a shock to realize that he's gone.  I think we all keep looking over at that recliner in the corner half-expecting to see him sitting there.

The last week we spent together was precious.  I cannot whisper enough "thank-yous" to my Heavenly Father.  I got to sleep beside my Granddaddy the last three nights of his life.  I got to hug and nuzzle his warm neck and breathe in his scent a few last times.  I got to hear him say, "Honey, I love you so much".  Sweet Jesus did not have to give us these final moments of closure and we recognize them as His grace alone.  Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your kindness to our family.

A sweet, sweet spirit filled the room as we gathered around his bed during the last moments of Gran's life.  When he took his final breath, we didn't know whether to sob or cheer.  So we did both.  It truly is the purest mixture of sorrow and joy that I've ever witnessed in my entire life.  Dear friends, Jesus is so, so real.

I had the honor of saying some words at my Granddaddy's funeral yesterday.  I acknowledge that it was not my strength that enabled me to get the words out of my mouth.  I doubted that I would be able to make it through, but by His grace alone...I did.  In honor of my Gran, I want to share those words with you today.

      My Granddaddy had the strongest, most inviting lap you can imagine.  Many, many memories have been made sitting in Gran's strong lap.  I learned to drive in his red ford pick-up while sitting in his lap long before I was big enough to reach the pedal.  We'd take the long way through the pasture just so I could drive a little longer.  I can still hear him saying, "Now honey, you watch where you're going or we'll end up in the bottom of that pond!"  I was sitting in his lap when I learned how to bait hooks and be patient and wait for the fish to bite.  I never did get the hang of those squirmy worms dangling on the hooks.  And you know, I don't like boxing...not one bit.  But I'd be happy to watch boxing for hours if that meant sitting in Gran's lap eating vanilla ice cream with milk drizzled over the top.  

      If you can't tell, I've always thought that my Granddaddy hung the moon.  In my opinion, his strong lap was more like a throne than a chair.  For twenty-two years now he's been my hero and I've been his adoring grand baby girl.  It was sitting in Gran's lap after sunset that I learned about the unconditional love of my heavenly Father.   We would watch the stars and listen to the crickets while Granddaddy spit his tobacco in an old Styrofoam cup.  He would say, "Honey, Jesus Christ and your family are the only friends you really have." 

          You see, my Granddaddy was a man of God.  He loved the Lord, he feared the Lord and He was faithful to Him until October 16, 2012, when his faith was finally made sight.  Even in the midst of hip cancer, open heart surgeries, wheelchairs, and pulmonary hypertension my Gran remained faithful.  He'd say, "I don't know why the Lord let me be crippled, but I have to trust Him."  And then he'd say, "Honey, I believe one day I'm gonna walk."  Today Granddaddy is walking.  And boy, I can see that smile on his face from here.

          Gran was a man who cherished his family.  He was a devoted husband.  I've never seen a man who loved a woman more than my Granddaddy loved my Grandmama.  I can hear him say, "Isn't she pretty?  And gets prettier every single day."  He was a father who was there with his kids.  We've been looking through old picture albums this week and I can't even count the photos I've seen of Granddaddy and his kids...laughing, playing, name it.  My mom always tells me that not everyone has a Dad like she does.  How forever thankful we are.  And I can personally confirm that Gran was an amazing Grandfather.  He has always doted on us like we were princes and princesses.   

          Gran has always loved for his whole family to be together.  Last week as we were anticipating Gran's arrival in Heaven,  he gave us a series of false alarms.  He would go downhill and we'd call all the family in to gather around his bed and wait.  There we'd be singing, crying and saying our good-byes and then his heart rate and oxygen level would go back up and he would be around for a few more days.  This happened three times.  Then we started to catch on, Gran just wanted his whole family more time.

          Psalm 116:15 says, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."  October 16, 2012 was a precious day for our family as we all gathered around Granddaddy's bed and watched him be ushered into eternity.  As tears streamed down our faces and joyful sobs filled the room, all we could do was thank Jesus.  We have truly been blessed.  Because of Gran's life and example, we have a legacy to follow.  We have a Truth to behold and Hope to cling to.  And we only pray that when the end of our days come that we'll follow in our Gran's footsteps.   I pray that when it's our turn to stand before the throne, we'll hear His Mighty voice saying, "Well done my good and faithful Servant."

          If my sweet Granddaddy were here today, first he'd scoop little Ben and Emilee up into his lap and then I think he'd have two things to say to his children and grandchildren and to anyone else who cared to listen.  First, he'd say "Keep your nose clean if it takes both sleeves!"  And secondly he'd say, "Jesus Christ is the only real friend you'll ever remember that honey."  And I pray we will.

 We love you, Gran and we'll be seeing you soon

Sunday, October 14, 2012

From the Homefront

Hello Dear friends,

I've feel the need to post a little update, but I'm at a loss for what to say.  Life has been an emotional whirlwind since my plane landed in the good ole' US of A.  I was at home for approximately seven hours before we loaded up in the car to be at the bedside of my very sick Granddaddy.  We drove through the night on Monday night, which proved to be the longest five hours of my life.  By God's grace alone, we made it here to get those much needed hugs.  Nothing compares to a hug that just might be the last one this side of Heaven.  I am beyond thankful that sweet Jesus brought me home with only hours to spare.  He is good.

It's been a long week.  Gran is still hanging in there, but life is being sucked from his body with each breath he takes.  We have had a sweet week together as a family.  I don't think we've all been together for this long...ever.  We're thankful for these last moments together, but we're all ready for Grandaddy to be home.  I've seen more suffering and death during the past five months of my life than ever before.  And there's still the part of me that wants to kick and scream, "This is not how it's supposed to be!!" 

A few weeks ago as I was snuggling sick babies and singing songs over them, I had no idea I'd soon be singing the same songs over my beloved granddaddy.  As much as it pains me, there's something sweet about knowing that my Granddaddy will soon meet some of the little ones that I recently said goodbye to.  And soon my Granddaddy will meet Jesus.  And in that truth, no sadness can be found.

We love you, Gran.  I can't wait for you to see Jesus.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Saying Goodbye

 Saying goodbye to these precious ones is painful to say the very least.  I feel as though my heart is being ripped out and trampled underfoot.  With each last snuggle I remind myself that He loves them more than I will ever be capable of loving them.  He is their Daddy and He means that in a very literal sense.  I can trust Him with them.  They do not belong to me, and the days that I've spent with them have been nothing more than a showering of Grace and a divine privilege.  And even though I know its time to go home and even though I know they will be fine without me here.  I'm just going to miss them.  And that's all there is to it.

Little ones to Him belong
They are weak
But He is strong.

He loves them. He does.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Low Days

Yesterday was one of those days, dear ones.  A day where giving up seems like the best option.  A day where the tears will not cease to flow, despite the sunshine outside.  A day where the faithfulness of God seems like a theological concept rather than a reality.  At the time, these days seem like monstrous clouds looming overhead threatening to drown you at any moment with a flood of grief.  Its hard to know where to go or what to do.   Its in these moments when a tiny utterance for "help" almost seems like too much. 

Its at these moments where all we can do is crawl up in His lap and know that He is there.  Even when our hearts may not feel the imminent Presence.  In my darkest hour of pain and doubt and weeping, He is there and He is still God.  In my moments of ecstasy and celebration, He is there and He is still God.  Even when my lips question and my soul grows faint, He is there and He is still God.  And He alone can sustain a weary soul.

Yesterday was a breaking point.  I was questioning all I know to be true.  I was doubting my ability to move forward at all.  I felt paralyzed, like I could just give up. I felt like its just too hard and I don't have the ability, nor the will power to keep going.  It was an awful, terrible feeling and a scary place to be.  But necessary.

Why necessary?  Unless I continually come to the end of myself, the end of my ability to keep going, and to the end of all confidence in myself, then I can never experience the fullness of His Spirit's power enabling me to do what I feel is impossible.  My weakness is His springboard for infusing me with strength.  And then He Alone gets the glory...not Abby.  Praise be to Jesus--the lifter of my head, my Savior, Protector, Provider, and Most High King. 

May we not be afraid of following Him to our places of utter weakness.  And may be not be afraid of those moments of tears and despair.  For it is in these moments of tension, pain and confusion that He sometimes speaks most clearly.

"God can never make us into wine if we object to the fingers He chooses to use to crush us."
-Oswald Chambers

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Day Jerry Came to Class

For the past four months, I've had the precious privilege of attending MBH preschool.  It is such a joy to come to class each morning and hear excited voices and pitter pattering little feet coming down the hallways.  For these kiddos (and for the teachers!), preschool is the highlight of the day.  Its one more way to add a sense of normalcy to their not-so-normal lives (then again, what is normal anyways?).  My dear friend and preschool teacher, Rebecca is amazing.  I am blown away at how she can take kids from all different ages and developmental stages and engage them in learning.  They are learning the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, animals, insects, body parts, name it.  The kids even take the liberty to correct us if we sing a song wrong or use the wrong sign language to say a certain word.  Each day, I feel like a proud parent, watching these little ones blossom and do more than anyone ever expected of them.

Yesterday, we had quite an eventful day in preschool.  It was the day Jerry came to class.  And by Jerry, I mean Jerry of Tom and in a mouse.  Yes, that's right.  We were in class, minding our own business and carrying along as usual when Mr. Jerry decided to make his grand entrance into our classroom.  Rebecca began to scream and point, thoroughly speechless and unable to utter a word.  I began to scream and wiggle too, although I wasn't quite sure what was going on.  It all happened so fast.  He scurried across the room as we jumped and squealed.  We scampered onto the top of the chairs, too mortified to move.  The kids stood speechless...wondering why their teachers had suddenly gone crazy.  Shaking and too afraid to come down, we sat in silence.  We sat.  We sat.  We sat. 

We decided that for the sake of our hearts and of course, for the children (cough cough), we should move preschool class outdoors.  We alerted Lao, our faithful handyman, of the recent mouse invasion.  The staff was quick to move to action as the news of our friend's arrival quickly spread throughout the first floor.      When we returned to the classroom after outdoor class we found Lao sitting in a preschool-sized plastic chair with the door closed...holding a fly swatter. 

Oh Jerry, you caused us quite the panic.  Although we like to think of ourselves as quite hospitable, you are not welcome to come to preschool class anymore.  For the childrens' sake :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Amazing Grace

How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now I'm found. Was blind, but now I see. 

I can't tell you how many times I've sung those words during my lifetime.  They seem to fall off my tongue with no effort at all, they seem to be etched into the very core of my being.  I've known them since I was a little girl barely able to understand the meaning of such a phrase. Here I am a young adult, but I still feel like a little girl when I ponder these magnificent words.  Amazing Grace. 

During the past month and a half, those words have taken on a fresh meaning for those of us living in the big blue house.   On August 5th, a little boy entered our home, our arms, and our hearts.  He came to us because he would be going to his Heavenly home very soon.  The days until he met his Daddy were clearly numbered.  His caretakers had been praying for a place where he could die in peace--warm, pain-free, and loved.  The situation with Aaron, our amazing grace baby, was unique--just like every child that enters our care is unique.  Because of the nature of the situation, the doctor and nurses felt it was best that Aaron continue to be visited and held by some of the foreign staff members (normally the children in our critical care unit are off-limits for those of us who are not medical staff).  We have had the privilege of walking closely with this precious baby boy through his last weeks on earth.  Amazing Grace.

When Aaron arrived, his caretakers provided us with some photos of him along with a list of some of his favorite toys, activities and songs.  His favorite song?  Amazing Grace.  We have each spent hours cuddling this little one, singing this song of Truth over him and to him.  And while we have been holding him, God has ministered to us.  Amazing Grace.

Through this little boy, I have learned that God alone is in charge of life and death.  Each one of our days are numbered before one of them comes to be.  The end of our days will not come one moment too late...or too soon.  I have felt the urgency of time, realizing that time is fleeting whether we realize it or not.  I have been reminded that God is good.  Even when I do not understand His ways.  I am awestruck to see first hand how every life is a vessel for His glory.  Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace Baby, you are forever etched into our hearts. We miss you on earth and are not ashamed of the tears that flow in your absence. But we take delight in looking forward to the day when ten thousand years will be a single moment in His presence.

When we've been there then thousand years
Bright shining as the Sun
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we first begun.