Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sinatra Preacher Man

Today is my brother's in law birthday. My sister was asking me to put a video up of him singing. I never got around to it, but figured his birthday would be a good time to finally do so. He is known as the Twin Cities Frank Sinatra, or as I think of him, and I'm sure many many others think as well, the next great preacher of his generation.

He is my pastor at Redeemer Bible Church in Minnetonka, MN.

I'm so thankful you're my brother(-in-law) and pastor to me, Bob. Just like your mom's card, even if I had had a choice in the matter, I couldn't have chosen a better brother(-in-law). And I don't think I would have survived the past few years without your faithful shepherding through your gospel preaching, the effect of your ministry on your congregation, and your personal ministry of the Word to our family as well.

So grateful for your shepherding and, yes, that you have incessently made fun of me since I was 12. Love you, Bob!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"Beloved, If You Could Actually Read This over My Shoulder..."

So, I know I haven't blogged in awhile. I guess there is a certain self-consciousness that has set in, since the one year anniversary of Andrew's death back in February. Like a fear that if I mention how I still grieve Andrew that some might be like, "Oh come on, get over it already."

I only blog when I feel compelled to. I seem unable to say much on this blog about the day to day, how much joy the kids bring me, how well they're doing, or what life is like as a single mom. I seem only to be able to blog about Andrew and usually only when I'm feeling saddest. Blogging may be my verbal version of crying (and eventually preaching to myself). So perhaps this year, maybe it's a good thing that a lot of time passes between blogs, because maybe it means there are longer stretches between intense sadness.

I guess I should mention that there have, indeed, been victories. Victories, where in the midst of the hurt, the Lord has brought great joy through His fellowship and all that He has been teaching me through my sufferings. There actually was one month or so following the injury the one year anniversary of Andrew's death inflicted upon my heart, where I experienced greater joy and greater peace than I have ever experienced in my entire life, completely independent of circumstances and totally because of the Lord. I actually wrote a really long blog about it, but for some reason, haven't published it yet.

Very soon after Andrew died, I started reading the book, Heaven, by Randy Alcorn. I've picked it up recently again. Alcorn says that most evangelical views of heaven, such as the view that we will be disembodied spirits unconscious of each other or our previous lives on earth is influenced by neo-Platonism rather than the Bible. He says that there will be far more continuity between our lives now on earth and our lives in heaven, and especially our lives on the New Earth after Christ returns.

So, if you find anything I write in the following as appauling, please just blame it on my recent readings or just laugh it off. Ahem...so I thought I would share with you how I felt today in the form of a letter I wrote Andrew tonight. (Cough).

"Beloved, when I asked you once what I should do without you to confide in about everything, you suggested I could write a letter to you. I laughed, thinking it was silly, since you wouldn't see it anyway. I tried once last year, but felt too silly to take it seriously, so it ended up being just like another journal entry. So this is only my second letter to you. I suppose if you could actually read this over my shoulder, if you're aware what happens on earth the way God is, then you already know how I'm doing. I miss you like crazy. CRAZY. I hope not to discourage you by being honest about my feelings, but I'm pretty certain that you're incapable of being discouraged in the presence of Christ, and if you have any concerns about me, you probably speak face to face to our Highest Beloved concerning my well-being.

Beloved, did you see me from heaven today? Emotional and worn out. You were always so steady and would speak truth to me. And when I lost my mind to panic and feeling overwhelmed, and couldn’t think, you would tell me the reasonable plan, the next step forward.

Beloved, I don’t know what happened to all our dreams to live our lives together, to serve the Lord together, how we thought we made each other so much more effective, balanced each other. We thought we better glorified God together as a couple than as singles. We wanted to be a triangle where we sought the Lord and at the end of the day came together to convene about the things He had revealed to us. It was always so amazing that when we actually functioned like that, His Holy Spirit made us so like-minded.

Beloved, remember how you had confessed your feelings for me while I was in the Philippines for six months? We were uncertain where our lives were going to take us next or how we were going to be together. During one of your phone calls to the Philippines, you told me that you had been praying about it, as well as listening to a bunch of Piper sermons at that time in your life. And to use a phrase of his, you said, all we had to do was stand under the “waterfall of God’s grace” and just stay under it wherever it went, and that's how we would know where to go. I can’t remember if I ever told you that I loved that you said that. I loved that you just wanted to follow Him wherever He lead. His waterfall of grace moved me back to Los Angeles to you. I never imagined that once leading us together, His waterfall of grace would lead us apart; you to Christ, while leaving me behind.

Beloved, remember when we were engaged and how we never wanted to be away from each other, and I was out with one of the girls in my small group one night? Esther and I got bubble tea. You called me in the middle of my time with her and sounded like you were trying not to sound disappointed that I was still going to be a little while. Your voice was strained as if you were doing your best not to make me feel pressured to cut my time with her short. Esther and I didn’t return to her apartment until after 10pm. I thought it was too late to stop by your apartment and didn't want to bother you, knowing how seriously you took your sleep, but since you only lived upstairs from her, she kept encouraging me to knock on your door and see if you were still awake.

When I knocked, you immediately answered the door. You looked so relieved and happy to see me. You told me you had missed me so much. You told me that one of your roommates had seen you exercising earlier and had said, “What, since Grace isn’t here you can finally breathe?” And you had said, “No, since Grace isn’t here, I can’t breathe. So I’m just exercising instead.” Beloved, that’s how I feel. I can’t breathe today. I miss you soooo much.

I keep trying to tell myself that it’s just because I’m generically lonely and it’s just because my life is hard being a single mom that I feel so sad, but you were not generically lonely that time you waited for me to return. I try to suppress it or deny it, butwhen I'm honest with myself, I realize, simply, I miss you. You are my life-breath, beloved. Or, we were each others' lungs, and it's still a struggle to breathe with lung-halves.

Beloved, we had so many dreams together. How could I have been so wrong to have thought we would spend our lives together? How could I have been so crazy? So stupid? So wrong.

Beloved, last week I took my first road trip without you to my cousin Amanda’s baby shower in Wisconsin. I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling so sad while I was packing up the car, considering I’ve packed up the car so many times to go to the airport and was always excited about mine and the kids’ trips the past several months.

And then I realized, this was different. This was a road trip. And road trips were your thing. I used to think road trips were unbearably boring, but you taught me to enjoy them. You loved to drive and I loved all our undistracted time together in the car.

Oh Lord, I need You.

I know the Lord feels my pain. Perhaps more deeply than I do. In fact, I think He died for my pain. He died to get rid of the sting of death and do away with death forever.

Beloved, what will it feel like to see you again? To think, we will be far more overjoyed at our reunion than that time that I knocked, and you opened the door to me. And there will be no death or uncertainty that could spring upon us to ever disappoint us or tear us apart again.

Sometimes, eternity seems so near, I could practically touch it. What shall it be like to touch Christ? To see His face? For Him to greet me and rejoice over me with love as my Husband? How amazing is it that that actually can be? Only through His death and His resurrection has He made it possible to cleanse a sinner so He could rejoice over her.

'He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.' (Zephaniah 3:17)

Sometimes, love, when I see old pictures of us, our love was so beautiful, it almost seems like a fantasy, like it couldn’t have really happened. It felt so real at the time, yet so beyond my dreams, that I kept thinking I was going to wake up any moment.

I’ve woken up. And now you are gone.

It is interesting to imagine that how our dreams on earth to fall in love and how they were fulfilled in each other are a pale shadow compared to how seeing Christ face to face will infinitely exceed all our hopes of what heaven shall be like. It is amazing that you are experiencing that right now - your hopes infinitely fulfilled all in Christ. You must be so psyched. All the time.

Babe, I love you. I miss you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for asking me to marry you. Thank you for giving me the privilege of being your wife. Will you ask the Lord about some things for me?

1. That I would honor Him in my mothering and how I spend my days. That the children would exceed us in their ability to glorify God all their days.

2. That somehow I would be able to enjoy each gift of today and my daily responsibilities as Ecclesiastes says to.

("It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage...to rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart" (Ecclessiastes 5:18-20)).

3. That I would be able to finish and publish our book like you said to do in your letters. The one year anniversary of your death was the most excruciating time of my entire life, and arrested the momentum of writing our book, and I have not been able to bring myself to work on it since.

I love you, Andrew. I’m so thankful for the beautiful man God made you, both in form and character.

I’ve always been convinced that it made the Lord laugh with pleasure when he brought us together. I’m convinced that the beauty of our love glorified His amazing lovingkindness that takes pleasure in bringing joy to His children.”