Thursday, March 29, 2007

I watched a profound movie last night...skip over some of the unnecessary stuff, and "Stranger than Fiction." is a great movie. My favorite scene in the movie is a conversation between Will Farrell and Dustin Hoffman regarding death and tragedy. The line that stands out the most is when Hoffman's character says, "It's the true nature of a tragedy...the hero dies but the story lives on forever." I played that line over five times. I don't want to go overboard here because Noah didn't die for anyone else, like Christ did for all, but I can't help but think about his little life in relation to this movie and that line and how he changed my life forever. You see, I have said it before and will say it again, if I were given the opportunity to have Noah back today, I wouldn't take him. Of course that does not mean that I don't miss him, but I have never had more peace about eternity and the physical presence of God since knowing Noah, so to want him back would only be selfish on my part. He wants me THERE more than I want him HERE. (Chew on that...)

I have also thought about different scenarios regarding Noah's healing. Now, granted, these are limited because I'm a human without a clue of the Universe picture that God sees, but, say if Noah had been miraculously healed this side of Heaven, it would have been fantastic. Everyone would have talked about it for a while. Then, in all reality, it would have been forgotten. When meeting new people and sharing his miracle, they would see a healed kid and think, "Yeah, that's great! I didn't know what he was like before this, but that sure is great!" Life would have gone on and I'm not so sure God would have gotten all the glory that is due His name. I know I would have eventually taken Noah's miraculous healing for granted. I would have been grateful for it daily, but there would have been times that my perspective and purpose would have been too tied to life here. We get emails and letters everyday from people sharing what Noah's 7-month life has meant in their own. Many of these notes of encouragement and life change have occurred since January 12th, 2007.

I guess what I am trying to say is, here on earth, Noah was my hero. Jesus Christ saved me from an eternal death in a God-forsaken place. I have hope and have begun living abundant, eternal life because of what He did on the cross for me and everyone else. Noah didn't do those things for me. What he did do, though, was make the Word of God alive to me again. He revealed to me, for the very first time, the true meaning of what it is to store up for myself treasure in Heaven. Jesus' words of His return now have a voice in my head. I'm taking it seriously. I don't know what it all means and I know I don't do it perfectly everyday, but never before has Jesus been more real, and I've known about Him my whole life and known Him intimately almost 20 years. And, never before have I been more excited to meet Someone in my whole life! Yes, I'll get to see Noah again, but Noah got me excited about seeing my Creator! He was my little hero. Thanks, son!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

This picture was taken July 24, 2006, at 7pm. It was the last picture taken of Noah prior to entering the hospital on August 2nd.

Yesterday and today have been hard for me. Jason's out of town on business so I am single parenting. Em's got a cold, but somehow still has enough energy to run circles around me. We've had a good week together, but I'll be happy when Jason gets home. Today we went and got our toes painted. This isn't the usual for us, but I'm running out of things to do in order to procrastinate working on my real 'to do' list. So, we went to the place where I had my feet done the day before January 12th. The ladies all remembered me. I brought in a little brag book that one of Noah's PICU nurses sent us recently. It's 2.5"x2.5" and has some pictures from the blog in it, including the 'feet' picture. I showed the lady the 'feet' picture and thanked her, again, for helping that memory happen for us. She proceeded to speak Vietnamese to everyone working in the store and they all lovingly said, "So sorry".

After our toe trip, we headed home to do some more organizing in the basement. I like to sew and tackle random projects, usually stuff I make up as I go, so over the years I have accumulated 6 bins of "Oh, I could make something out of this!" or "Sure, I'll use these scraps of material one day." Anyway, needless to say, my husband will be pleasantly surprised when he sees just how much purging I did in the basement. The reality is, I know I'm not going to do those projects. Even the ones I thought would be so great at the time...I just don't feel like it anymore and it isn't as important as it was then. I feel very free just admitting that I'm not going to start or complete projects that have been hovering over my head for so long.

While I was sorting through one bin, I did come across the remnants of the materials I used for Noah's room. At the same time, my friend called and I just lost it. Em said, "Mom, don't cry! Your face is all black!" I said, "Em, I don't like waterproof mascara, so this is a look you'll need to get used to..." I told my friend it felt like a waste that I had made Noah's bedding. I remember cramming, sewing it all within the last week before he was born. Even though he only slept in his cute room for 7 1/2 weeks, I'm glad that I got it all done before we brought him home. I know it wasn't a waste because his room was perfect just for him and any time I see chocolate polka dots with cool blue and lime, I will forever think of Noah .

Anyway, today I've been asking God to pinch me because this life cannot truly be my reality...I never even had the time to picture Em and Noah as grown ups burying me and Jason as old wrinkly people...why did I assume that my life here on earth would go on relatively unscathed? On July 24th, the thought never crossed my mind that one day Noah would not be in our lives. It didn't cross my mind on August 2nd...he's still in our lives, but he's not in our arms and that is the daily ache that ebbs and flows. Today the tide was a little high...

Monday, March 26, 2007

This is Jason's version of a piercing or tattoo for Noah. He had this bracelet made that says, "NOTHING MISSING * NOTHING BROKEN" on the outside and, "NOAH STEVEN GRAVES * CROWNED IN PEACE" on the inside. It suits Jason perfectly. He got his ears pierced his freshman year of college but those grew in years ago and neither of us really see him as a tattoo guy, though he said he'd get one if I wanted him to. I said nah. Anyway, the bracelet matches his wedding ring that has black Swiss crosses around it. I have a silver necklace that I got probably 10 years ago. I'm going to have it engraved with Noah's name on it, so will post it as show and tell some day.

Anyway, regarding the meaning of Noah's name...Noah means 'peace'. Peace in Hebrew is 'shalom'. The literal meaning of shalom in Hebrew is 'nothing missing, nothing broken'. Steven means 'crowned'. This isn't the kind of crown that every little girl or boy imagines while they role play princess or king. The kind of crown this refers to is one you win at the end of a race. A victor's crown. Imagine a crown of olive leaves twisted together and placed upon the head of a person in Jesus' day. It is a reward of perseverance and endurance, finishing strong. Any royal family member may receive a crown from their reigning parent, whether they earned it and whether they are worthy to wear it. A victor's crown, however, is rightly given and at the proper time. There is no way around it. My favorite verse goes right along with this entry, "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." Acts 20:24

What's your life verse? Are we 'expecting' a royal crown like some sort of prince or princess or are we persevering for Christ to receive a victor's crown of endurance? Maybe some of you didn't know this life was a race. Let me tell you, regardless of what American life isn't the one with the most toys at the end who wins...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

This is the picture on my desktop right now. I love the sincerity of innocence and love that Em's face reveals just in the mere priviledge of holding her new baby brother. Anyway, I just wanted to share with you what pops up on my screen every time I start my computer.

Tonight we had some dear new friends over to our house. It was really refreshing to read the Word with others, share our hearts of what we desire in our walks with God, and to pray together. As stressful as the hospital was at times, it was very quiet late at night for Bible study and prayer. Also, with so many visitors everyday, we had times of prayer with other people on a regular, coming home to the three of us and "to do" lists and busyness, sitting at God's feet tonight with others who desired the same was a bit more like going back to the hospital, but in a good way.
I can't tell you how much it encouraged my heart! You see, today I spent the day organizing. A girl from church who has an organizing business (I highly recommend her!) came over to help me get rolling on the many tasks we have on our plates in order to sell our house. (Yes, Jason and I actually felt like we were going to move over a year ago and then Noah was born, so we are waiting on God to see if this is the season or not...) Anyway, my goal is to get our house to a point where we can show it and not have clutter and overflow. I'm getting rid of things, packing things, and rearranging other things so the house looks as cute as can be. So, back to studying God's Word, well, my mind was a little overwhelmed, not by the process, but by how much more I still have to do and how much "stuff" we've accumulated since we moved in here 5 years ago. It was actually very helpful to have another person's perspective and eye regarding organizing, but it was a big reminder of my ever increasing "to do" list. I was annoyed that I was annoyed with all the "stuff and things" I was even investing in organizing! Thankfully Jen understood because she's recently been to Africa and gained tremendous perspective in this area (which is why she started her, huh?) Later, I started to get really crusty and Jason informed Emily that the tension coming from me was so thick he could cut it...He then proceded to define different emotions and what thick meant and I couldn't help but think it might be a few more years before Em comprehended what the heck her dad was talking about...Anyway, I realized I had allowed the enemy of my heart a foothold today to distract my heart from looking forward to fellowshipping with like believers. Realization is half the battle, so then I prayed and felt a lot more peace. As soon as friends started coming to the door and we started sharing our hearts, I knew that satan had intended to steal my joy, as he does yours and yours and yours everyday, so I just told him to BACK OFF!

So, I want to encourage you...if you are having a crusty day, just know God did not intend for it, but the thief who hates your guts! He likes it when we're crusty and gets a kick out of it when we're impatient with our kids/spouses/friends/strangers because our agendas aren't being met. Tell him to BACK OFF and then, READ THE BIBLE OUT LOUD! Now, that may sound strange, but in college when I'd try to read my Bible, I'd always get distracted. I finally realized that satan hated it when I read the Bible, so, I got pretty bold and said, "Okay, devil, if you want to hang out here so badly, I'm reading my Bible. Here is what it says about me and here is what it says about YOU! Any questions?!" I call it, "Story Time for satan." Let me tell you, he stops bugging you immediately because he HATES God's Word with a passion, but not only that, he HATES it most when you not only read it but you BELIEVE it! Read on...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I'm not sure if you can make out the scripture written on the note card above, but it is Judges 6:23-24. It says, "But the Lord said to him, 'Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.' So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it 'The Lord is Peace'. I bought yards and yards of rainbow ribbon and hung scriptures around Noah's room that we had written on note cards. I wrote many that said 'peace' in them, one because Noah means peace, and two because I needed to keep reminding myself of God's peace...God's word is what enabled us to persevere through each day.

Now, I know that the Bible can seem daunting, a bit intimidating in size, downright discouraging, and unconquerable, but let me share some of my thoughts on it...First of all, truth be known, we are all very lucky that the Bible is as short as it is. I say that because it says that if everything Christ did while He was on earth was written down, the books on the earth could not contain it. Wrap your brain around that! If you've ever read a series of fiction, you've probably read more pages in those 3 or 4 or more books than fill the Bible from cover to cover. When I first started reading the Bible almost 20 years ago (my anniversary of following Christ is 1987 on Mother's day) I didn't really know where to start. But, I was at a point where if I was going to believe in God then I wanted to know Who the heck it was that I was believing in and why. My parents bought us Study Bibles and a set of 36 markers. They said, "Don't take it from us or a priest or a pastor. Read it for yourself. It's your textbook. Use these markers to mark it up, underline interesting things that stand out. Whatever you want. The Bible is your textbook." I couldn't believe I was allowed to actually write, with pretty markers, in a Bible! I felt so free:) I have that same Bible with a fancy packing tape binding and now, Noah's foot and handprints in it.

I'm not sharing this to boast about how much I know about God's word. I'll be the first to tell you that no matter how many times I read it, or how often, God knocks my socks off even on the same passage. Also, there have been many days, months, seasons that have passed in my life where I didn't hunger for God's word and didn't care if I read it or not. I am currently not in that season, thank God, and I hope to never go there again, but as weird as it may sound, March Madness reminds me of the Bible. Let me see, if you have ever played an organized sport, or participated in orchestra or band, there are play books that each member must study and know for when game day comes or for a performance. Don't think for a minute that athletes are just physically prepared for competition. They study the play book so that when something happens in a game, they know just what to do. There are defensive and offensive plays. When your season of competition hits, your breathe, eat, think and sleep that sport.

Well, the Bible is our play book. It is God's gift to mankind as a manual for how to live in a world for which we were not intended. We weren't created for earth the way we live it. God meant for us to hang out with Him in the Garden, playing with lions and enjoying His company. The Bible is God's gift of light in this dark place to expose the devil's schemes and his constant attempts to turn our hearts and eyes off the Lord. It contains rules for living, not for the sake of just having rules, but to ease the road and the reality of the consequences of our choices. It contains raw heart cries from people wondering what on earth is transpiring in their lives. It has promises of hope and healing, eternal life and salvation. It has everything we could ever need for minute by minute plays.

So, I guess with this post, I want to encourage you, and myself, not to be intimidated by the Bible, but to pick it up and read sentences, chapters, paragraphs, books, whatever. Don't try to go from Genesis to Revelation in one sitting. It's meant to be meditated on, so if you only have 3 minutes, then read a paragraph and then pray about how God wants to integrate His truth into your life. If you don't know where to start, read John. It's in the New Testament, the 4th of the gospels. It's a world rocking account of Jesus' life on earth. As we get God's word into us, deep into our hearts and minds (put on the helmet of salvation - Eph 6) the Holy Spirit will bring it to your rememberance when the enemy tries to tempt you or discourage you, or destroy you. It's our textbook for living. The course if Life 101.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

My "Show and Tell"

If you were to come over to our house, you would find the above scrapbook on display on the end table in our family room. It is a treasure that we are so grateful for for countless reasons...First of all, it was a gift! The day Jason and I got home from the hospital (the day after we gave Noah to God) we opened this huge package that was waiting for us with a return address of someone whom we have never met personally, though through blogville and email. Her name is Heather and she's from Georgia and she's pretty remarkable! She shared that God laid it on her heart at Thanksgiving to make this book for our family. Jason and I just sat in awe, reading every detail, looking at the pictures, savoring the memories and being humbled by the time and love that had been put into making this beautiful priceless gift by someone who didn't even know us! Also in the package was a wonderful picture CD set to music (an awesome Third Day song that I can't think of the title to off hand, but it starts out "Father in Heaven"...I'll try to get Jason to post it on You Tube as I'm not technical...) of all of the pictures on the blog to that point. This was made by Heather's dear friend, April (also someone I have yet to meet). Anyway, I wanted to show and tell because the keepsakes, cards, gifts, calls, visits, etc are all treasures that encourage our hearts and help us have visual memories...Also, I just wanted to say that I am forever grateful for these gifts because, one, I am not a scrapbooker, though I think it's a blast looking at other people's creativity, and two, I couldn't make a photo CD if you paid me. I know how to put pictures in frames and flip albums and I know how to type on the computer. If it's more complicated than that, you've lost me! So, THANK YOU, HEATHER AND APRIL, for these two priceless gifts!

And, as far as thank you's go, I just wanted everyone to know I am still working on them...We have hundreds of cards, have received countless packages, have thousands of emails, been treated to meals, have been given monetary gifts for Noah's medical expenses, donations in his honor to different organizations...the list goes on and we are so very grateful! One friend said that the reason she gave was because God laid it on her heart, not because she expected a thank you note. Another said she'd help me write them and another suggested I write 2 notes a day...If I did that, I would go way past timeliness as far as etiquette goes because it would take me well into 2008 or even 2009. All of this to say, my desire is to email everyone back, to write letters of thank you (though in the chaos of coming home to a house full of friends and family, many return envelopes were thrown...) and to somehow express to all of you the gratitude that fills our hearts for so lovingly walking this road with us. I know it hasn't been easy, and it gets long at times, but like I said before, if we were meant to walk it alone, God would have stopped at Adam...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

This picture was taken 3 days before Noah was born. It's a picture of what the previous 4 years had looked like, minus the extra 35 lbs on my cheeks and belly, but you get what I mean...the 3 of us. And now, here we are again, the three of us, doing life, wondering what God may have in store.

On Thursday, the 3 of us went to an appointment with my sister who is a PA-C with an ENT. Jason has bad seasonal allergies, I feel like I'm allergic to some foods, though I don't really know which ones, and Em has bad eczema. We then went to a lab to have blood drawn for food allergy panel testing. Em was so excited! The lab guy couldn't believe how brave she was...I told him that she learned bravery from her little brother. Em didn't cry or flinch or anything, and I don't know why since the guy kept the elastic pinched on her arm for 10 minutes while he searched for a good vein, then proceeded to "fish" for the vein with the needle in her arm...Jason went first and came out with a manly bruise. I was second and put the pressure on. I told the guy about the 11 pokes the nurses gave me when I had my miscarriage and then they finally called in a lab girl who got it right away. I said the best of the best is "Tony the amazing lab guy" at Children's Hospital in Denver! He hadn't drawn blood in 7 years and got my vein on the first draw and I couldn't feel a thing! ANYWAY, hopefully we'll have results to our food panel by the end of next week. I'm very curious to see what our allergies are since Noah was allergic to everything!

Incidently, since Dana's clinic is ear, nose and throat, I had my hearing tested because for a few years I've been slowly losing hearing in my left ear and I have a constant drum beat or ringing. Well, I found out, not only can I not see without some seriously strong contacts or thick glasses, but I have classic otosclerosis. It's where the muscles that contract the inner ear bones start calcifying. So, that's neat...I still can touch, taste and smell!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

On January 4th, Em said she wanted to hug her brother. I said go for it. She said, "No, mom, I want to SQUEEEEEEZE him! I just LOVE him SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much!" I knew the kind of squeeze she meant and I knew it could possibly hurt Noah a little, but I also knew in my heart he was going to be with Jesus soon, and well, she needed to have that kind of hug memory, so, the second picture is of Em squeezing the tar out of her little brother! I know we as parents tend to shelter the new baby from the older sibling to "protect" them, but it's not like Em had the ability to actually crush Noah's head, and I knew that every time she saw this picture, she would know the love she was feeling that day. So, HUG AWAY, people! Don't let the day end today without squeezing really hard! Whenever I hug, I'm rarely the first one to let go...And, DON'T do one of those pat on the back hugs that my old roommate in college used to do! They were very patronizing. If you're going to hug, if you're going to love, if it's a kiss for friendship or one for love, MEAN IT AND DO IT RIGHT!
And, if you're married, hold the 10 second may seem long at first, but you can't be mad in the midst of it! Jason and I hold the 10 second kiss pretty much every day. I highly suggest it!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Psalm 13
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, O Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
for He has been good to me.

Today I'm mad. I'm mad and I'm sad and I'm hopeful at the same time. It's frustrating the range of emotions and thoughts that soar through my heart and mind on any one given day. One of my best friend's that lives out of town asked me if I ever cry. I told her that I cry every day, some more than others and always for different reasons. Last night I was crying because I missed him so much and because staring at his pictures, I honestly cannot fathom how beautiful and perfect he was...Noah was the most handsome little man I have ever seen. This morning, I'm sad and mad at the same time...I'm mad that Noah ever got sick! I am frustrated that the doctors tried their best but it wasn't good enough to save my son! I'm ticked off that nobody listened to me at the hospital about his diarrhea initially and just stuck a feeding tube in him and offered him O2, then, 3 weeks later, there are dead mice at the CDC that had been injected with Noah's stool AND NOBODY KNOW WHY!!! I am angry that the very thought of getting pregnant again isn't blissful but filled with anxiety and the foreknowledge that it will have to be a big fat step of faith, and if this all happens again, I will still know that that child will be safe in the arms of Jesus...though I'll want it in mine. No, I'm not pregnant, but Jason and I don't want Em to be an only child. Yes, there are so many ways to "get" a child, all of which we pray about and are open to if God leads, but I won't lie and say that if we choose pregnancy again, I'm not going to wonder every day for 10 months if that kid has whatever the heck it was that Noah did...and then, every day after it's born...

I am grateful that no one had a diagnosis, I've said that before, because I don't like labels, and that would have named something that was not good which would have deterred us from having another child. It would have been pretty cut and dry. It would have been easier...But, that's the other's not that straight forward. We have to have FAITH in order to get pregnant again. It can't be one of those things we as humans so flippantly say, "Oh yeah, we're going to have 2.5 kids and a dog." It's HARD to live by faith! Since Noah was 1 in 6 billion, there is not a test to do while I'm pregnant to tell me if kid #4 has what #3 did, and if there was, IT WOULDN'T MATTER because I wouldn't end the pregnancy! Jason and I have already talked that we would do it again, though if it all did happen again, we would walk into the hospital and call the shots!

Arrrrrghhhhhh! I'm feeling better already just spewing on the computer, but the reality is, I know I'm not ready today to get pregnant again because in my heart of hearts, I would want that baby to be Noah...I want to know him when he's 5, when he's the most handsome guy in college, when he's an adult. I'm not mad at God, though if I were, He could handle it...I guess I'm just mad because that will never happen and that's the emptiness I am breathing today...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Today would have been Noah's 9 month birthday. I don't think I'll count his birthdays by month, because even with Emily, after she hit one year I would just round it down or up for people who asked...before I was a mom it would frustrate me to have to calculate math when I'd ask a lady how old her baby is..."Oh, she's 22 months....Oh, he's 29 months..." Oh really, I'm 422 months. Do that math! I guess I just looked at the calendar and realized that it was the 10th and he would have been 9 months today. I think of him every day, obviously, but on Saturdays because he was born at 6:57pm on Saturday, June 10th. On Sundays I think of him because we took Noah t0 church the last Sunday of July before we checked him into the hospital on Wednesday...and of course, every 12th because it will always be the anniversary of the day we laid him before the Lord...

Anyway, that's not the intent of this post...

The other day I was at the gym and I was praying for all of you guys. I know that's quite broad as I don't even know all of you, but I was praying in general and the idea popped into my head that it would be neat to show Emily pictures of all the people who have prayed for us and continue to pray. Maybe we'd print off the pictures and put them in a prayer book of people around the world that we pray for, too. Anyway, when I got home, there were 3 emails from people that had family pictures attached, none of which we know personally.

So, I wanted to pose this to you...if you would like to share your family picture with us (you can add your names or leave them out for privacy reasons), we would love to see them! The two pictures above are the only two we have of the four of us between the time Noah was born and August 2nd when we took him to Children's Hospital. The first one is of us the day we came home from the hospital. The second at Noah's favorite restaurant, Hacienda Colorado, 2 1/2 weeks later (I say that because he went there in my belly, out of my belly and that's where we had a big dinner on the 15th of January after his service). We had so many adventures during his 7 1/2 weeks at home, but we were taking pics of one another with Noah or Em individually. So, to help take the sting out of my regret, go grab your cameras and start snapping full family photos! It may seem you have too many, but years, or maybe just months, later, at least you will have them...And, if you feel like sharing, send one our way. We'd LOVE to put faces to prayers, and names if you don't mind sharing...

(You can go to my "profile" and there's a link to my email if you want to send a pic. Also, please downsize them if you know how to so my inbox doesn't take 12 years to upload)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

P.S. The picture below is the one we had printed on the CD...
Noah’s play list…
For those of you who have asked about the CD we made in memory of Noah, we do have extra copies, but short of you emailing me your street address and sending me shipping, I thought I’d take some of those with me when I do speaking engagements…below, however, is the play list if you wanted to go through your own collection and compile your own…

“40” U2 (War)
“You are the reason” YWAM (Dreams of God)
“God of Wonders” Vineyard
“Sweetly Broken” Jeremy Riddle
“How Great is Our God” Chris Tomlin
“Oh praise Him” David Crowder Band
“Knowing You” One Day
“Wonderful Maker” Chris Tomlin
“Everything” YWAM (Dreams of God)
“Amazed” Jared Anderson
“Treasure” Jared Anderson
“Like A Child” Jars of Clay
“If You Want Me To” Ginny Owens
“Kind & Generous” Natalie Merchant (Ophelia)
“Yahweh” U2 (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb)
“Walk On” U2 (All That You Can’t Leave Behind)
“Beautiful Day” U2 (All That You Can’t Leave Behind)

There are reasons we selected each song, which are obvious when you hear the lyrics, but I could have added a million more, probably every U2 song, though not legally, because so many songs speak clearly the sentiment of my heart. I hope you enjoy listening to these songs and are challenged in your life by the lyrics.

Monday, March 05, 2007

What's so offensive about grace?

"What is so offensive about Grace?"
This thought has been a “title” in my head for several months now. Seriously, why is Christ so offensive to some? I got my hair cut the week before we laid Noah before the Lord, and with any great haircut, there is great conversation. I guess I set the tone when I sat down in the chair for the “preview” and the person asked what I wanted done. I very plainly said, “Well, in one week my husband and I are taking our son off life support. We’ll be having a photographer come in to capture our last day together, so, can you transform my hair to look good for the pictures?” We spent the next hour talking of nothing trivial. It was refreshing and encouraging to speak to a stranger about life, death, and hope…a captive conversation for the both of us.

This person told me of their upbringing, that their father was Muslim and mother a Catholic. Neither were practicing either faith. Growing up, they never spoke of faith or religion, it was a forbidden topic. They shared some things that were gut wrenching and then basically said that they believe in God but has yet to find a religion that works for them. I told this person that was good because religion is dead. Religion is man’s attempt to get to God but that grace is God reaching out to man through His son, Jesus Christ. I told them that whether they believe it or not, whether anyone believes it or accepts it, Jesus Christ died on a cross 2000 years ago to forgive us of our sins and renew our relationship with the living God who created all of us. I told the person that when I grew up, I had always believed that Jesus was my Savior. I knew what He had done for me and anyone else who would believe, but that I never allowed Him to be in charge of my life...There is a MAJOR DIFFERENCE. I said that at one point I realized I didn't have it all together and that if I really believed God was who He claimed to be, then I was pretty safe to entrust my life and will into His...Then, I said, "I realize this probably sounds crazy..." They said, "Actually, what you said makes more sense to me than anything I have ever heard in my entire life."

I know that people who are offended or jaded by Christ have not met Him. I say that because to study the life of Jesus Christ would reveal a man that is daily misrepresented here on earth by His very own...I do it. Do you? Do you judge your neighbor or love them, regardless of your opinion of them? Are you only surrounded by people like yourself? Is everyone in your circle of life a believer and follower of Jesus Christ? Do you only go to "christian" dentists, ob/gyns, chiropractors, grocery stores, hairdressers? I pose these questions because if everyone and their dog that surrounds you is only a christian, how on earth are you loving and living the way Jesus did? He wasn't mutually exclusive. He hung out with anyone and everyone, except the pompous, arrogant religious leaders that were legalistic death traps.

No, you don't have to become a prostitute, staunch theologian, heroin addict, murderer, an elite intellectual, or thief to truly "hang out" with people who do not know the truth of Christ. Jesus didn't become a prosititute or legalistic religious priest. He was humble. He was powerful. He was and is Grace. A free gift. I know that the true offense is that I, or you, might actually have the audacity to not only believe it, but to tell of this Gift of Grace...

I can testify that if we hadn't walked this road with Noah with the Grace and Peace of knowing Christ, I personally would have been suicidal and hopelessly destitute. I am grateful that was not the case.

(p.s. Jason liked Em's hair...though it took him the weekend to get used to it)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

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So, have you ever done anything crazy while your spouse is away? I mean, something that isn't bad, but will be a BIG surprise? Well, when I got home this morning from working out (my parents are staying with us for a few days so Em was not alone...) Em greeted me at the door and said she wanted me to trim her hair. A "trim" usually means we play beauty parlor on my bathroom counter and I literally trim 1/4" off her ends, just to keep them healthy. She told us a while ago she wanted her hair to go down to her buns. Well, today we sat up on the stool in the kitchen to play beauty parlor. Em said she wanted it really short. I asked her if she was sure. She insisted she wanted me to chop it off! So, I did! I wanted a cute angle, short in back, longer in front, so I proceded to chop. Well, after a six inch piece of her golden locks dropped to the floor, I got a huge smile on my face and asked her if she wanted to go to a real hair salon for a real haircut. (Are you kidding? I know where my gifts lie, and I'll be the first to admit I'm no stylist!) We got an appointment for 2 hours from the time I hacked off the first little section, so we had lunch and painted fingers and toes. Em was so excited and all I could think was, "Oh man! Your dad's coming home in a few hours from Utah! What on earth is he going to think?!"

We went to the salon where I got my last haircut before we laid Noah before the Lord. They don't do kids, but he saved my hiney! Em was a perfect little client. She sat still and smiled HUGE the whole time. She loved it! She actually keeps walking around the house saying how much she loves her hair...Thank God it wasn't a horror haircut story! Anyway, Jason will be home in about an hour and a'll be a surprise, but a good one. When the cat's away, the mice play!

My youngest sister, Dana, married a wonderful man named Thomas who loves the Lord and her with the purest of heart. They were married Saturday and it was one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever attended because it was all about the marriage and the celebration and not the hectic details. Dana called me around 8:00 that morning (the wedding was an 11:00 brunch) and was crying because she missed Noah. I said that I was sorry that she missed him. We both thought he’d be there, throwing food and making noises babies shouldn’t make at a wedding. I thanked her for thinking of him because as his mommy, I think about him just shy of the 86,400 seconds that are in one 24hour period. She told me that she thinks about him all the time…

Now, I know other people love Noah (hello, strangers have fallen in love), but I guess I never really know how frequently anyone thinks of him. There will be a chapter in Noah’s book about our last 24hrs with him prior to laying him before the Lord and the 24hrs that followed, but besides the fact that she was his aunt and loved him, we asked Dana to do something for us that’s not quite the normal in regards to an aunt’s “role”…She is currently a P.A.-C for an ENT. However, one of her rotations in school was with one of the best plastic surgeons in Colorado. Dana loved that rotation because she is particular and precise and learned plastic stitches and was quite good at it, in fact. When she had an orthopedic surgical job after school, the “Frankenstein” surgeons didn’t quite know what to do with her perfect stitches, since, it’s apparently cool to have 6 inch long earthworm scars when someone can actually take the time to make them a bit more presentable. Anyway, we asked Dana if she would stitch Noah’s tracheotomy after we removed the Shiley. She told us she would be honored and with the most tender of care, she helped a mom and dad know that their son had nothing missing and nothing broken…We all have ways we remember Noah, different pictures that pop into our heads, but it occurred to me that morning that perhaps Dana’s memory wasn’t from one of the many times she’d come sing him praise and worship and play with his fingers. Maybe it was stitching up her nephew a month and a half prior to the second most important day in her life?