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Friday, January 27, 2012

The Horse and His Girl

Do you believe dreams can be meaningful?  Did you know that God first cut a covenant with Abraham after he "fell into a deep sleep?"  Or that he repeated the promised covenant to Jacob in a.... yup, you guessed it- a dream!  Most of us in this left brain culture would have said, "Wow!  I ate bad pizza!" and forgotten all about it!  Interesting to me that God would choose to have such tremendously earth shifting encounters with people in, of all places, a dream.  Of course there are many other dream stories in the bible, but you can search those out for yourself if you like.

I woke up this morning puzzling over a strikingly vivid but seemingly bizarre dream.  I shared it with my husband at breakfast and light seemed to wrap around his words and tears filled my eyes instantly and unexpectedly at his wise response.  Parts I will keep for myself, but the end I feel I should share.  Somewhere between early morning feedings I found myself deep in sleep and riding on a beautiful, chestnut horse.  It is not a peaceful ride...  wild animals are in hot pursuit, making ferocious noises and threatening to devour me should I be caught.  Somehow my three children are inside the horse (I know, I know, but it is a dream!), and I remember thinking that our safety depends on this sleek creature who is carrying us all.  Suddenly I am overwhelmed with panic because I don't know how to ride a horse!  We are galloping at breakneck speed with gnashing teeth just behind and looming dangers lurking ahead.   At that moment I realize I have no clue how to make this powerful horse jump or turn or go faster.  I lean forward into the whipping wind and cling to its mighty neck, weaving my fingers into the thick locks of  its sleek mane.  I am not in control.  I hang on for dear life.  I think in the dream that I have to trust the horse to carry us all to safety... trust that it knows the way without any help from me.  And then I wake up.

Driving to work.  Hot tears on my cheeks.  I whisper a prayer to the only One who can hear.  To the One in whom my children- all three- are hidden.  To the One who can carry me to safety though I don't have any idea how to navigate these tumultuous waters.  To the One whose only requirement is that I relinquish control and hang on for dear life.  To the One who is strong when I am weak.  To the One who knows the way...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Special Plans for You

I follow a crawling baby into Makiah's room where she eagerly starts to plunder through  books. I gingerly open a book that had been one of her last Christmas presents.  The Little Red Book with Big Red Letters! A Story of Discovering Your Dream.   The inscription on the first crisp white page reads: "To Makiah... God has special plans for you!A gift from her grandparents.  Before I can stop myself the thought shoots through my mind.  What kind of plans?  Plans for a gruesome death a mere ten months after these sweet words were penned?  I shudder at my own antagonism and shove such questions aside.  I tell myself to keep playing chase and stay in the moment.

Later, I am deleting old Facebook messages and see one dated January 16th, 2010.  Two years ago today and a short ten months before my baby died.  I am curious to see what I wrote back then.  I click on the message, and well, read it for yourself... 

  "January 16th, 2010- I am becoming more and more convinced that we have to decide to believe what the bible says- God is good no matter what... and that His plans for us are good no matter what. It has to be a foundational belief for us to grow in our relationship with him. When I evaluate my thinking I find that I sometimes attribute things to God that are not in line with His nature according to the bible. God is good and only gives good gifts... He has chosen to relinquish some of His control of this world temporarily so more people have a chance to use their free will to choose Him. When the author steps onto the stage, the play is over (CS Lewis wrote). So He is waiting... 
but in the meantime bad things happen this side of heaven. 
We just have to know who to attribute them to....  
      I am reading this awesome book called Strengthen Yourself in the Lord. It's about how to get out of a pit- you strengthen yourself in the Lord! That is what the bible says David did when he had been anointed king of Israel, but for 10 long years he was rejected by EVERYONE and hunted like a dog. He could so easily have turned his back on God, blamed him, and believed the promise would never come to pass. But instead, at his lowest point, the bible says he "strengthened himself in the Lord." Then he went on to become history's greatest king. I believe he could have made a different choice and forfeited his destiny. The part we have to play in God's will for our lives is so important- we have to will His will and persevere until it comes to pass... or it might not. 
This idea that whatever happens is God's will is simply not true...
     Ok, I know I am writing a book but this has all been swirling around in me for a few weeks.
My mom reminded me of 4 principles over Christmas:
                                              1. You are part of a larger plan.
                                              2. You have a part to play that no one else can play.
                                              3. There is an enemy hunting us.
                                              4. There is a fellowship that seeks to protect you 
                     (mainly God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, but also our brothers and sisters in Christ)..."

Two years ago I was struggling with secondary infertility.  Today I continue to face the death of my child- my only child at the time.  Such irony.  I read my own words, and I cannot believe the coincidence.  That I would stumble on them today.  Exactly two years later.  On a day when those very questions have plagued me. That those very issues were "swirling around in my mind for weeks" almost as if in preparation...

And I think of God's plan.  How could his plan for her be good?  Her life was so short.  Then it dawns on me.  Perhaps she missed out on things still to come on earth or maybe God didn't bother to plan more for her here because He foreknew her death before she was born, but that is unknowable and not the point... I realize something.  Perhaps God's plans for us don't end with the death of our bodies! Hope rises slowly in my heart.  Could it be that when we cross heaven's threshold, His real plans for us have just begun?  Could it be that He has a purpose for her and things for her to do even now in heaven?  Why is it so hard to imagine that life there is a continuation of things here... only nothing is tainted by sin or sickness or death or decay of any form?! 

My antagonism from earlier melts away as I glance up at a beautiful piece of art, an intricately detailed cross stitch of Jesus holding a small child, that graces my bookshelf.  A dear friend began the project in early 2010.  Mysteriously drawn to the pattern and giving countless hours to its perfection, she had no idea who it was for.   Until  she fell weeping with the news of Makiah months later.  Now her work of  love for Jesus and unknowingly for us reminds me vividly that Makiah is safe with Him this day.  And she is happy.
And He has plans for her still...

Anne Horne is selling a variety of things (including copies of this same work of art) at   The net proceeds from this picture and a portion of every sale on her site will go towards Makiah's Well Project.  And the wells are multiplying!  More info on that coming soon...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A New Year... An Old Race

Almost exactly two years ago today…  Makiah and I stand pressed tightly in a line of people waiting to get off the airplane.  I glance nervously at my watch.  We have been sitting on the runway much too long.  Our next flight leaves in 30 minutes… on the other side of the Atlanta airport.  As I wait, I am picturing myself hauling a protesting three year old and luggage through the crowds in a panic.  I think we need a plan so I say, “Sweetie, we are going to play a game.  We are going to pretend that we are in a race.  We are a team, and we have to help each other run.  But the most important thing is we can’t let go.  No matter what we have to hold onto each others hands.”  The scene flashes through my mind and I wince.   I didn’t want to lose her.

Then in my mind’s eye I see us running breathlessly to the next flight.   I had envisioned dragging a screaming child through the airport, but instead she is dragging me!  I am covered over in bags, and she is gripping tightly to my hand.  My breath comes hard, and I think my lungs will surely explode.  I decide my new year’s resolution will be to join the gym!  “Don’t stop, Mommy!”  Makiah cheers me on.  “You gotta keep going!  Come on, Mama!  Don’t quit the race!”

Her little voice echos in my mind.  Reverberating in my soul.  That day seems almost prophetic now.  Some days I think I cannot breathe.  The pain in my chest threatens to burn through me.  I peer down at my empty hands.  I let go.  I wasn’t able to grip tightly enough.  I thought the most important thing was for us to stay together.  She was ripped away from me, and the shards of my shattered dreams have pierced my grasping, empty hands.  Almost like a stake being driven through.  Almost.  But then I think of One who did have the stake driven through rough hands.  That engraving of flesh has carved out more than skin.  It has carved out a way for me.   A way so that my bleeding hands and heart won’t always be empty.

And maybe I was wrong.  Maybe the most important thing is not being together.  Maybe it is finishing.  The Race.  Strong.  “Don’t stop, Mommy!”  Makiah cheers from heaven.  “You gotta keep going!  Come on!  Don’t quit the race!”  I can hear her.  Almost. 

I think of Max Lucado’s words from his book Just Like Jesus.  My mom read them to me recently…

     “The word race is from the Greek agon, from which we get the word agony.  The Christian’s race is not a jog but rather a demanding and grueling, sometimes agonizing race.  It takes massive effort to finish strong.
     Likely you’ve noticed that many don’t?  Surely you’ve observed there are many on the side of the trail?  They used to be running.  There was a time when they kept the pace.  But then weariness set in.  They didn’t think  the run would be this tough…
   By contrast, Jesus’ best work was his final work, and his strongest step was his last step.  Our master is the classic example of one who endured… He could have quit the race.  But he didn’t.”

I am Broken.  Humbled.  Awed.  Challenged.  And  Relieved.  Relieved that I get to finish the race in His strong arms.  My last step will be with Him.  In Him.  And His last step was his strongest…