Song of Eternity

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This morning we sang one of my favorite hymns.

155 years later and it’s still wonderfully powerful.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.

Holy, holy, holy! though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

As we repeated the words “Holy, holy, holy” there was a stillness in the room.  It was the sort of stillness that feels too big for the space you’re in.  It was vast and quiet and beautiful.

It was peace.  There was peace in the room as we joined together and called out, “holy, holy, holy.”  It felt like I was singing this song for the very first time.  I know the words and I love the melody, but today was different.  Today my voice joined the vast stillness of Forever, singing a song that Eternity already knows.  Isaiah and John describe their visions of the angels singing, “holy, holy, holy” day and night without ceasing.

For three minutes, we joined that song.  Our voices broke through the walls of the space and met those that have and will sing this song forever.  It’s an incredibly peaceful moment when you join the song of eternity.

Maybe you’re sitting by the grill all day, maybe you’re recovering from a long week, maybe your greatest plan today involves a nap.  My hope is that you can find time today to enter into the vast peacefulness of God’s holiness.  Join the voices of Eternity and sing, “holy, holy, holy”.

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Plans and Steps

Most of my time spent the last 9 months of not writing on this site has been spent making plans and taking steps.  As some may know, my family and I realized last Fall that our time in Southern California was swiftly coming to a close.  We made a plan for a clean exit of Orange County and the Lord directed our steps to the Central Valley – Porterville, CA to be exact.

Since then we have tried to work out what the next steps are.  In that time I have renovated a home, completed a Master’s degree, moved my family to Idaho, raised 6 chickens, bought a dog, and lost a job.    Other than knowing I will have 2 fresh eggs and a wagging tail to greet me each morning, there are few certainties about our future.  The loss of a job was a hard kick in the shins for our financial situation – and my emotional situation – so needless to say, it’s been an straining few months.

Because I grew up in a “pull up your boot straps and figure it out” sort of family, I am determined to make plans.  I love making plans.  While I drive, I think through odd circumstances and how I would respond so that I can have a plan someday.  Each night I mentally check off where a flashlight and my shoes are in case I need to get my family out of the house in a jiffy.  I notice the quickest exit to every room I’m in, just in case.  I plan out what I am going to say before I say it (sometimes to my wife’s chagrin) and I always check my engine fluids and tire pressure before a long drive.

My next big plan, get a job.  The question is: where?  Our ultimate plan is to continue to move north to the Treasure Valley in Idaho.  We’d love to land in Meridian/Eagle/Boise area next summer so we are planning accordingly.  But the plan is only half the battle.  The other half is the excruciatingly painful practice of waiting and trusting on the Lord to direct our steps.  Proverbs is smart like that: a man makes a plan but the Lord determines his steps (16:9).

So what now?  Look for a job in Porterville to get by for half a year and then look for another job in Idaho to continue the move North?  Or….look for a job in Idaho now and make a temporary, solo move, a few months ahead of my family.

“Adult-ing” is difficult.  It demands far more emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical investment than we imagined when we were young.  The good news is that each of those investments are supported by the Lord.  If we allow Him to help us make a plan, we can trust that the steps we take are of His direction.

So I plan.  After I eat my 2 fresh eggs, pet my dog, and stir in a giant dollop of faith in my coffee each morning, I plan.  And hopefully the next step we take will not be mine, but His.

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silent suffering

Sometimes a great plan becomes a great reality.  I’ll never forget the day that Brittney and I realized we were ready to grow our family.  On a chilly December night our friends had just delivered a beautiful baby girl.  Through the magic of FaceTime we were able to join them in the recovery room – seven states away – to celebrate and meet their tiny human.  That night we had one of those multi-hour life-changing conversations and came to the conclusion that we were ready.  It wasn’t long afterwards that we were able to FaceTime with our friends yet again, only this time we were sharing the news of our soon-to-be tiny human.

There is an incredible amount of excitement and joy that comes when we are proclaiming life!  We made Pooh picture frames for the grandparents, the siblings jumped up and down on the couch, grandparents cried, it was such a wonderful season.  Yes, there’s nausea and a myriad of body changes…yes, there’s odd evening cravings that as a husband you just need to deal with regardless of how many beers you’ve had…but throughout it all you are joyously, loudly, and likely obnoxiously proclaiming life!  Nine months of singing the same song, but it never gets old.  It starts out slow with immediate family and friends, but then grows louder and louder as the weeks pass until it feels like the whole world is singing along with you.  There will soon be a new human in the world!  It’s nothing short of extraordinary.

Years later, thousands of diapers, hundreds of sleepless nights, and more laughter than we ever thought possible, Brittney and I had another one of those life-changing conversations.  We felt like it was time for another baby.

Not long ago we had those same magical FaceTime calls, excited texts, and surprise visits to sing that song we loved so much.  And like last time it started out slow with just immediate family and a few of those might-as-well-be-family friends.  There will soon be another tiny human in the world!

Our great plan was a New Year’s proclamation of life!  But sometimes a great plan becomes a crushing reality.  We went to the doctor on the 30th and his words still scream in my head, “I’m afraid there’s no heartbeat.”  The weight of losing this tiny human felt like all the air was sucked from the world.  Our proclamation of life suddenly became a silent suffering.

There is no way to convey the brokenness of miscarriage.  It’s a soul-crushing, world-flipping moment when you realize you’ll never get to meet one of your kids.

In our first pregnancy we were able to proclaim life to every person we met.  There’s nothing like the first time telling somebody you’re going to have a baby.  It’s a uniquely magical moment when you get to proclaim life and invite somebody into your joy.  But this time that moment is marred.

Death is not something we want to invite others into.  So now we sit silently.  How do you share death with somebody else?  What do they do with that?  And when we get the obligatory question, “How were your holidays?”, we’re forced to choose: do we share death or suffer silently?

Honestly, I don’t have an answer.  I don’t know what to do.  I know that writing is therapeutic for me and somebody will inevitably read this, but how do we work through the suffering if we can’t share it.  Why would I want to invade people with our suffering?  So we sit and cry, or write, or draw, or pray quietly because it is our suffering.

But I’m done suffering quietly.  It hurts too much and I’ve realized that I’m not strong enough to bring all the air back into the world.

Each day is a little better.  We all process death differently.  Some days have been good.  Today is not one of those days.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading and seeing how other couples process through this and I came across one of those sappy quotes that I hate to love: “…and to think, the first thing he saw when he opened his little eyes was the face of Jesus.”  Reading that made me realize, the last thing our baby heard was the steady, beautiful beat of my wife’s heart.

Tonight my song is of those two realities.  You’re welcome to sing along with me.