Thursday, September 8, 2016

Better When I'm Dancing

I started going to Zumba regularly in January as part of my new year's goals. I absolutely love it and hate when I have to miss a class. Our instructor is awesome and a great leader for people new to Zumba. She instantly made me feel comfortable in the class and I've formed some fun friendships with some of the other regulars. Earlier this year, our instructor had this song in our cool down set and I loved it!

The first time she played it, I ran up after class to ask who it was. Since then, I've played it several times around the house. The Munchkin and I love dancing to it. We'll either spin around, which always induces giggles, or he'll spin himself or run around the kitchen island giggling all the way. It's fun to see him enjoy it so much and truly show that we can feel better when we're dancing :)

Enjoy some dancing of your own today!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Friday, September 2, 2016


Six years.
72 months.
2,192 days.
A lifetime ago and a lifetime to go. :)

On September 4, 2010, Dan and I said "I do" to a lifetime together.
Credit: Jason Weil Photography

1st Anniversary (anniversary trip to Mackinac Island)

2nd Anniversary (Midland Balloon Festival balloon glow during our drive to Nebraska)

3rd Anniversary (pregnant with our Munchkin, but hadn't announced it yet)

Credit: Myra Lutz Photography

4th Anniversary (our Munchkin was just about 3 months old, my mom let us escape for a night away and a visit to the Sunken Garden)

5th Anniversary (my parents let us get away to Kansas City, MO for a luxurious extended weekend away)

6th Anniversary
Credit: Myra Lutz again :)

The past six years have been filled with mountaintops, valleys, and many adventures. Here's to the adventures that still lay ahead of us. I am so thankful that God brought this wonderful man into my life and sustains us in our marriage.

Happy 6th Anniversary, My Love! Here's to a lifetime more!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Power of Story - Truth in Parable

The Power of Story – Truth in Parable
I love stories. 

More specifically, I love the way that the background and depth required of good storytelling often unconsciously showcases truth, even truth that the author may not intend to be the focus of the story. Often, when reading or watching a good story, a moment will display truth so forcefully to me that I am startled. Like a lightning flash in a dark night, the truth, once hidden, is now suddenly brightly lit and obvious.

Meghan and I went to see Pixar’s Finding Dory earlier in the summer. Pixar films are always on our list to see in theater since they have such high quality stories. We are such fans that we used a musical theme from a Pixar movie in our wedding! Since we did not see the film on it’s opening weekend, I was aware that the film would deal with issues related to parenting a child with memory problems. I thought this would not be very impactful to me. Yet, as I watched the parents diligently work to help their child (Dory) develop skills that would enable her to function in spite of her handicap in the world, I was unsettled. Something about this seemed familiar. I brushed it off, and went back to enjoying the adventure Dory and the other fish were in.  The moment when Dory is swept away and loses contact with her parents was a dark moment, but it didn’t resonate beyond the movie for me. 

At the end of the film, Dory is once again separated from everyone she knows (a call back to the beginning of the film) and she has no other support…no friends to remind her who she is and where she is trying to go. At that moment, she goes back to the reflexive skills taught to her by her parents, so long ago…and those skills lead her to a line of shells on the sea floor, which she follows, as her parents encouraged Dory to do as a baby. That line of shells turns out to be one of a multitude of shell lines painstakingly laid over the years Dory has been lost.

The storyteller shows, in a simple image of shell lines spiraling out from their home, the depth of the effort Dory’s parents spent for her. They dedicated their lives to instilling reflexes in her that would lead her home…and when she was swept away, they spent the rest of their lives building paths home from every direction. 

Lightning flash.

I suddenly understood the connection. Meghan and I have spent the last two years building into our wonderful little boy. Worrying about his safety, making sure he has the right skills, hoping that we would do the right things to help him be healthy, smart, wise, and that the evil and darkness in this world wouldn’t take him from us. Building paths in his mind that will bring him home to where he is called to go. Just like Dory’s parents, we deal with the fear of the consequences of our actions as parents every day. The effects of ‘failure’ may not be as dramatic as in the film, but they are no less real or painful even to parents of children without the challenges Dory faced. Yet I willingly embrace this responsibility because I love that wonderful bundle of toddler joy. Being his parent fills me with so much joy that I WANT to subject myself to that fear.

This spring, we found out that we were having a second child. We were excited since we have already experienced the amazing experience of welcoming new life into the world and watching him grow. We began planning for the new arrival, and dreaming of who our child might become. We went to our first ultrasound eager to get our first glimpse of this new life. The technician warmed up the equipment and started listening for the baby. If you’ve ever had the privilege of being present for an ultrasound, you know that the event is often full of noise. The technician chatters away, and your wife chatters back, eager to share her joy at the new life growing inside her. Our appointment though, was different. It was quiet, almost silent.

No chatter. No heartbeat. Just the slow, crushing realization of just how terrible silence can be. Our child was no longer alive. We buried our child on Mothers Day.

When a loved one dies, we often grieve by remembering them in life. Their mannerisms, the good times we spent with them, the way they laughed. When your child dies before birth, there is only silence. An emptiness that is suddenly oppressive. There are no memories, nothing to latch onto but the dashed hopes of what might have been.

I have been carrying that emptiness with me from that moment until seeing Finding Dory. When I saw those shell paths, I realized that while my son will require those paths to be built in his mind and in his world…my other child no longer needs them. She is already home. It is no longer my burden to serve her in that way. I can let her go, just as I will have to let my son go as he grows. I may not be able to share the joy of seeing her grow, but I will also not have to live in the constant worry that often accompanies parenting.

Of course, I would prefer the worry and joy of raising the child. How could it be fair or right that my child would die in such a way, before I could even meet her? How can I respond with joy and excitement when friends announce the imminent arrival of their own baby, when all that seems to do is remind me of my own loss?

This inner conflict within reminds me of another story, told long ago by Jesus.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity? ’So the last will be first, and the first last.” (Matthew 20:1-16 – emphasis mine)

I agreed with God that he could have my life, and he would give me what was right. There was no contract specifying number of children, or a life free from pain or struggle, or anything like that. I trusted when I gave my life to Him that he would be just, good, righteous. How can I compare what God gives me with the other laborers in his vineyard? He is doing me no wrong. Children are his gift, and he can give or withhold or take as he chooses.

What remains is that I must live and tell my story. I cannot possibly try to live anyone else’s story as well as mine. Perhaps the darkness of parts of my story will allow the lightning flash of truth to be all the brighter to the soul who needs to see it. My response to this darkness must be to take it to Jesus (who is no stranger to tears). He is the only one who knows my full story, and can give what is necessary to live it well. I am resolved, then, to wait and hope that he will grant me the strength to fulfill the full measure of the story he is writing with me.