Sunday, April 26, 2009

Free-the way we are made to live

When God created the world He created us to be free. Free to experience life in perfection. Free to dance, run, and dream. Free to reach out and touch a lion, pet a tiger, chase a bear. Freedom from distractions that now plague us. Utimately to be free from death and sickness.

The woman changed all that with one move, the wrong move. Because of that we experience things like death and sickness. Man's freedom was gone forever. And in it's place is only a longing to be free and wild. Oh to run and never have to return to any care! In that moment, the first woman experienced for the first time something all women strongly dislike: change. We hate it, we go around it, under it, over it, but it always comes back and we hesitantly adjust to it.

Out of that also God comes to our rescue with the atoning death of His Son. Once again man can experience freedom and life everlasting. No change, Jesus is always the same. He always beckons us to come. Doesn't matter how ugly we feel, how righteous we might think we are, how lost we become until we get there. He even goes as far as to blot out our sins forever with his blood, if we believe in Him.

Today in my life I feel this verse: "And you will know the truth, and the truth shall make you free". John 8:38 I always thought this verse meant the Bible - which I know it still does. But, today I realize that I know the truth. The truth is that Kira died. The truth also is that God has cared for me so well and that He is taking care of her in heaven. He is and has been so real to me, He has brought truth to me, He has worked through the people around me, He showed me Himself without me dying. I know the that I will find freedom. I will not be forever like this, I know the truth...the truth sets me free. I embrace what happened, but I know the truth...Kira was a gift. I even trust God to bless us, I know the truth...He has, is, and will in the future. It might not always be in the way we want it to be. In this I remember the prayer I prayed aloud over and over sobbing by Kira's bedside "God I want her to be happy. She was too joyful and free to suffer. God, if she would be happier in heaven, please take her there. I love her too much to watch her suffer here. But, God if she will be okay and happy here, please heal her". God answered my prayer...

The struggle is great. Satan would have us to not embrace the truth. He does not want us to experience freedom. He tries to make it seem like life will never be joyful again, that we will live with a cloud, that the cloud will follow us wherever we go. He wants us to believe that God will not ever bless us in any way. He wants us to be too scared to trust in a loving and faithful God. But, God always wins because Satan can't offer freedom! His way is full of lies and bondage-not freedom and truth. Please pray that we will continue to know the truth, embrace it, and speak it.

Merlin got his test results back this week. He still has CMV (cytomegalovirus) which is similar to mono. He had it five years ago and apparently it never left, just comes back to haunt him when he gets under stress. That explains the last two months and the last five years to us. The good part is that now that we actually know, we can try to work against it, according to the doctor. Praise God with us for that. Also pray that through his sickness too, we would trust God. Such a simple step and yet can seem so huge to us.

Thanks to all of you who have encouraged us with cards. Marlea especially loves getting cards with her name on. Please continue to pray for her, reality has set in for her as well. She is so lonely for Kira. The warm weather beckons her but it also brings back lots of memories and makes the longing intense. It comes out in lots of ways for a five year old. Pray for us too that we would have wisdom in guiding her. It wrenches our hearts.

Today I think of Kira's thing of declaring me in jail as I referred to in her memory blog two weeks ago. "Mommy is in jail, this WHOLE house jail". Yes, life in the house can be like jail, but there is a beautiful creation awaiting me outside and I am so glad it is spring. I smile when I think of that, she was so crazy sometimes.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Reality staring us in the face

Reality - the totality of real things and events. Reality is a part of our lives. The gift of shock is leaving and true life is setting in. Reality is my companion all day. Sometimes I meet it around the corner; sometimes it stares at me from an empty car seat. Or the absence of a little girl to put in the grocery cart. Reality lets me sleep, but awakes me in the morning with the feeling of a brick hitting my stomach. As a result, I find myself waking up with clenched fists, a tired heart, and knots wove around my stomach. Today it visited me in the form of hearing a three year old girl spot her daddy in church. She said "There's da-da". I turned around expecting to see Kira but alas, I was met with a dose of reality instead. Reality met me after church as I visited her grave. The stark reality of her lifeless shell, the shell that I loved and cherished, being six feet under-untouchable to my mother hands. Tonight it greeted me as I ate cinnamon rolls that had been in the freezer, the last ones I made while Kira was here. Sometimes it comes in the form as small as a sock that fit her foot. A sock she had wistfully picked out at Bass Outlet last winter with crazy penquins hugging all over it. Sometimes in a tiny clip that kept many fine hairs off her face. I grab it and stick it in my own hair, wanting to take with me something that was her's. Sometimes it comes at me when I hear Marlea say: "Daddy, hold me" - favorite words of the one I miss. Last night reality was my companion as I rocked Anna. Reality met me in memories of rocking Kira to sleep singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" softly at bedtime. Reality to me last week and probably for a while will not be kind to me. Sometimes it comes in the form of the awfulness of seeing my child slipping away in front of me with what you and I would think were flu-like symptoms. It cuts like a knife; doctors say her sickness was inevitable, but the terror is still there, the reality of the experience. I want to run, but if I would it would be there too. I cry, I pray, I trust but reality is still here. And so, I stare at it head-on. I dare it to destroy me, to fill my life with pain forever. I dare it to kill my desire to live. I dare it to make me dwell in the past for the next fifty years. When I am finished daring it, I embrace it because it is real. Because therein I find a peace that only my Heavenly Father can give me. A peace that will help me live out of who He wants me to be and not who I think I should be or what my family should be. A peace that comes from knowing that it will be okay eventually because God can bring beauty out of our ashes and rags. A peace that comes from experiencing His grace in a tangible way. Because of the amounts of grace we have experienced, we are convinced that God's other attributes are awesome as well- mercy, truth, faithfulness, love, peace. They must be flowing in abundance! To claim them as part of our lives means we are not able to live on our own...we need God-we are small and needy.

Merlin's birthday is tomorrow. A another first for us without Kira. Then yet his birthday. Please pray that we will claim God's grace for us - especially tomorrow. The girls usually helped me make the cake and we made a party out of it. Tomorrow it will be only Marlea and I and we will have fun anyway. The last cake we decorated was Kira's and we really enjoyed it! Pray that our daddy will feel God's love for us on his birthday.

A few months ago I asked Kira how she knows I love her. She replied without hesitation: "Because you give me kisses". I had asked Marlea the same question at around the same age and she replied without hesitation: "Because you read me books". Love the children God has entrusted into your care. Give them kisses if that is what they want. Be Jesus to your children...I wish too but He holds mine tonight. Every night I whisper in my tears: "Jesus, please go get Kira and give her kisses for me". I trust Him and so I believe He does.

As always, thanks so much for all the prayers, love, and care we feel in so many ways.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Kira-who she was

Kira, meaning light/sun was born on February 6, 2006. We were absolutely thrilled to have another little girl. Marlea was so protective and loved her right away. She didn't stay little long at all. By the time she was six weeks old she looked more like three months. It didn't take long until we figured out that she was going to be tall and fairly aggressive. By five months she was sliding out of our laps and onto the floor to roll to where she wanted to go - which was usually Marlea's dollhouse. She would roll all over the floor and was soon sliding and wiggling like a little snake all over the house. Her clothes were dirty from the tip of her chin down to her toes. She filled out lives with joy and sunshine. Her main object in life soon became well known which was going outside. Anytime the door went open she was right there. At eight months old she had mastered going up and down stairs with ease. Once, I couldn't find her anywhere and finally found her upstairs in the inn exploring the hallway. She had somehow pried the unlatched door open and was off to explore. When she started walking she became a nightmare to watch closely. We live right by a state route and outside our door is the parking lot for the inn. I had to constantly be right there otherwise fearing she would get run over. When I mowed yard, her favorite dare was seeing how close she could get to the road til I ran for her. It frightened me terribly and she knew it. Once I found her in the store next door just looking to see what she could find. One morning I went outside and there she was already, playing. After that, we put chains on the doors. Not to keep people out, but to keep the little people in that were supposed to be inside. She was so tall that opening doors, reaching up into drawers, and other things were no problem at all. She loved to push the stroller, not ride in it. Why would you ride when you can drive? In church why would you be quiet when you could be screaming? By the time she was two she had calmed down a lot; she and Marlea were playing together more. Marlea patiently taught her to play doll and dollhouse. They had lots of fights and lots of fun. We learned quickly to keep Kira's fingernails trimmed because they were her weapons. Kira had tons of energy and could easily keep up with Marlea. One of my favorite memories is last summer one night she pushed (ran) the Little Tykes shopping cart up and down the hill again and again, just full of life. When Anna was born, Kira was so helpful. She was always the first to run when Anna cried. She drove us nuts sometimes, but I always said she will be a good mother. She loved to play jail and would say "I put you in jail - whole house jail". Sometimes she would put chairs around me in the kitchen and declare me in jail. Kira was also very soft hearted and sometimes sweetly shy. She was a early riser and would often wake up the other two. She called herself by her daddy's nickname for her "Kiki" up until the last week. Then she proudly said "Kir-da". She was my little helper, often cleaned out the dishwasher for me, helped with wash, tried to mow lawn, helped run the sweeper. She had just started going to Sunday School and was so proud of it. She was becoming a little lady and was so beautiful. We discovered she grew three inches again in the last three months. She was easily headed for over six feet tall. The troubles of life were just starting to bother her. Whenever she heard the sirens she would run to her bed, kneel and pray fervently. She was worried when she got dressed, making sure things matched. She was crazily energized and yet organized. Her birthday cards were very important to her and she took them to bed every night and in the morning she put them in her doll stroller. When I found them they were in order of importance, ours being first. Her hair was brown with reddish highlights and shone red in the sun, living up to her name. She was a very trusting child, never second guessing her daddy. I can still see her looking up at him, drinking in every word he said.

I could go on and on but I won't, this being long already. I hope this gives somewhat of a picture of her three years, enables you to feel our pain, and gives you direction in your prayers for us. The hole we feel is so real, but God's grace is also. The way Kira lived is the way I want to be: do things with my whole heart, full of joy, without distractions, fully trusting my heavenly Father. Ironically, Anna's name means grace and she is definitely living up to it. She has already taken over cleaning out the dishwasher and actually helps! God's grace seems real to us through her.

This week was somewhat easier. We had more energy and Merlin was feeling better. Marlea is getting used to playing by herself and Anna is learning how to irritate her better. Makes more noise, which is nice. Our new normal is slowly forming and we find ourselves hating it and yet it has to come. With it comes reality and the shock is wearing off.

On the humorous side we were in the ER again this week. Tuesday night Marlea got a little ball stuck in her ear and we could not get it out. So in we went again. She thought it was really nice to see where Kira was first and where Daddy had been. She liked all the nurses and the doctor and came home happy, secure, and tired (it was 12:30a.m. by then). We just couldn't believe that we had to go there again! Maybe she needed to see it and God knew we would never take her there? You just have to wonder what He had in mind!

Continue lifting us to the throne...pray that as time goes on we will not tire of being real and again and again claiming God's grace for us. I am thankful tonight for Jesus, his gift of death on the cross means life in heaven for our daughter. I feel His tears falling on me as I bow in sorrow at the foot of the cross.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Jesus through the eyes of a child

We say we can't see God - that we trust without sight. We talk about the faith of a child, and read in the Bible that our faith should be like that of a child. The Bible talks about children coming to Jesus in absolute trust. The Bible doesn't talk about children dying. Do they just go Home with Jesus when they die? In my mother heart I fear that she is lonely for us, her parents, and for her sisters. When she was here, did she long for Jesus? When she was conceived, born, did I feel like a stranger to her? As an adult, I asked Jesus to come into my heart. Before a child's innocence is gone is Jesus just there, real and touchable? How good it must feel to a child when we treat them as Jesus does. No wonder they get hurt so easily, are so vulnerable, and say things we think are funny. A lot of things that take us hours to process takes them a moment - they are so clear and real to them. Is that because Jesus is a part of them? Can we see God more by listening to them?

Here are some of my experiences from this week:

Wednesday afternoon I was very sad. I cried and cried. Marlea was angry because she didn't have any playmate. I thought maybe doing something normal would be helpful; so I started sewing and Marlea sat beside me threading buttons, playing with playdough, all things her and Kira used to do together.

This is from Marlea's perspective:
Mommy was so sad again, with big tears falling down like raindrops. Her tears keep getting in my hair, I wish she would stop crying. I ask "Mommy, why are you crying?" "Because I am so sad about Kira" she says. I stop a bit and remember last night. Maybe I should tell Mommy about it. "Mommy, last night Kira came down from heaven again and slept with me. Her wings were too big to get into bed so she hung them on the hook where her pj's used to be. She cuddled up beside me like always. Her wings are white and she had a pink robe on again. Mommy, I miss Kira but I am glad Jesus sends her to me at night. Mommy, I had more dreams too." My mommy looks down at me hopefully. Feeling the urge to talk I go on. "A while ago I saw Jesus. He was so full of...Glory! He told me to tell my mommy not to be sad." My mommy stops and stares at me. "He said the Kira is going to come back." Then I get a funny look on my face and say "I think Kira is going to come out of the grave." Maybe if I say something a little funny, she will believe the Jesus part because I know she is supposed to. My mommy cries even more but now she looks happy. Jesus tells me that I need to help my mommy trust Him more and now I feel so happy because I finally gave her that message. Maybe now she will be happy and be able to understand that Kira is just in heaven. That's really not that far away and I would like to go there to play with Kira.

From Mom again:
Here is me, God. Here I was so worried about Marlea and You are taking care of me through her. Again I stand in awe of a God who created this big universe and put us inside. On Friday after a rainstorm, half a rainbow was visible, with our house under the middle of the arch....thanks for that promise, God! A God who is big enough to take care of broken little hearts and broken big hearts. A God who loves and knows us, His children. A God who cries with me and sends me touches of heaven through the people and things around us, especially as was shown this week through loving support.

The physical part of us was much better this week. Thanks so much for all your prayers. God obviously hears those prayers, because Sunday afternoon Merlin started feeling better and has been feeling somewhat better since. We are hoping that through this all maybe he can get to the root of his health problems that have been going on for years. Please pray that until then, he will not have any more episodes like the past one and that he will be able to function. We also continue to pray for his whole healing.

I have had this verse in the girl's bedroom since Marlea was born. "Let the children come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19:14
Merlin, Marylu, Marlea, and Anna