Thursday, February 14, 2008

...with aching hearts and empty arms...

"A memorial service will be held to celebrate the life of Sullivan Gage Anderson at 1:00p.m. on Thursday, February 14, 2008. In helping us to celebrate our little Valentine, we kindly ask you to come dressed in colors of joy and hope."

And so we gathered to celebrate the life of baby Sully. The service was the most bittersweet thing I've experienced in a long time. It is good to see God glorified in the midst of deep, profound pain that threatens to destroy you. "But what doesn't destroy you makes you stronger," somebody somewhere once said. Well, at least if it drives you to the only possible source of comfort in the middle of it all...

And so, today, we sang, through our tears:
Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
’Til life’s storm is past;
Safe into the haven guide;
Receive my soul at last.
Other refuge have I none,
I helpless, hang on Thee;
Leave, oh leave me not alone,
Support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed,
All help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
In the shadow of Thy wing.
Thou, O Christ, are all I want,
Here more than all I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
Heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy Name,
I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am;
Thou art full of truth and grace.
Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
Let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart;
For all eternity.
Demo MP3
© 2000 Greg Thompson Music.

Goodbye, little Sullivan Gage Anderson. "With empty hearts and aching arms, we send you with a name. It hurts so much to let you go, but we're so glad you came. We're so glad you came." - from Twila Paris, A Visitor from Heaven, 1993.
A visitor from Heaven
If only for a while
A gift of love to be returned
We think of you and smile

A visitor from Heaven
Accompanied by grace
Reminding of a better love
And of a better place

With aching hearts and empty arms
We send you with a name
It hurts so much to let you go
But we're so glad you came
We're so glad you came

A visitor from Heaven
If only for a day
We thank Him for the time He gave
And now it's time to say
We trust you to the Father's love
And to His tender care
Held in the everlasting arms
And we're so glad you're there
We're so glad you're there

With breaking hearts and open hands
We send you with a name
It hurts so much to let you go
But we're so glad you came
We're so glad you came

Monday, February 4, 2008

Superbowl Monday

Well, like all good Americans, we watched the Super Bowl last night. We headed to my folks' house for some really good Super Bowl food fare (yummy dips, chili, brownies, the works) and dutifully watched - with more or less interest depending on which family member you were - the game and the commercials and the half-time show.

I found it a relatively entertaining game, and was enjoying watching as much as anyone. But my youngest child wasn't going to make it. She didn't "get it." ("When is the ball going to drop?" she had asked, and she wasn't talking about the football. It all seemed an awful lot like New Year's Eve to her seven-year-old mind.) She needed to go home and go to bed.

And so I took her and her disinterested big sister home. (In the grand scheme of things, I was still less engrossed than my husband, and so the duty fell to me.) I got her ready for bed. I read her a story. I piddled around unpacking a bit from our trip. And so I missed one of the most exciting fourth quarters in all of Super Bowl history! (Yep, we left just before the touchdown that started the fourth quarter, and missed every exciting thing thereafter!) Such is motherhood...

A little like trying to find an oportunity, and a place, to have sex with my husband today. He had taken off from work, in case we decided to take an extra day at his folks' house, and so we slept in and found ourselves home together during the day. Never do we get to approach each other with the energy of the daytime, and so we decided we must take advantage of the opportunity! Our first effort - in the shower together in our bathroom - was interrupted twice. ("Mom, we don't have any ham. Do you want me to just make the macaroni and cheese according to the recipe and skip the ham?" And a few minutes later, "Mom, we don't have any bay leaves." So much for the idea that a lunch-making project would keep her busy...)

The relocated effort - in our bedroom closet - was also interrupted twice. ("Mom, where's Dad? I want to tell him my weird dream." And a few minutes later, "Mom, what should I do with the blanket you said was too big for my bed?")

The joys of homeschooling... the joys of parenthood... the joys of married sex... I wouldn't trade any of it! Even when it means I have to be really quiet on the closet floor. (Maybe even especially when it means I have to be really quiet on the closet floor... ;)

"This is the stuff life is made of." Indeed.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Taking off my shoes...

"Earth's crammed with Heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes."
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I am struck this day with the glory of life's ordinary joys and simple pleasures...

I look around me and see my eldest daughter, absorbed in a book and lying languorously in the sun. My husband - clad in my father-in-law's borrowed overalls - enjoys the fruit of physical labor, removing limbs from his parents' trees. My youngest proudly hauls and carries the cut-up logs, giddy with the grown-up feeling of this particular "helping" job. My husband's 97-year-old grandmother devours the newest edition of the Estonian newspaper that has been shipped to her for these many decades that she's lived on this side of the Atlantic. Thankfully, for now she's been able to remove the oxygen that was assisting her breathing this morning. My middle daughter stands with a racquet, trying to find victory in getting the birdie over the net to the other side of the badminton field, where her brother waits patiently for his chance to try - and likely also fail - to get it back over again. I look around and smile. Words from an old Carolyn Arends song rush into my head:

This is the stuff - The smallest moments - This is the stuff - I need to notice - This is the stuff - Life is made of

So much glory... so much hidden magnificence of life... passes me by unnoticed. But not today. Lord, thank you that this day, I am among the blessed "who see." May I learn to live there.