Sweet Stanza

Last night we sang "God Moves in a Mysterious Way" with our church family. It comes from the Scottish psalter, music by William Cowper. The fourth stanza stuck out to me, especially in light of our baby Kali, whose name means rosebud and who never got to see the light of the sun here on earth, but who is blossoming quite beautifully we believe where there is no need for sun because the Light of God's presence shines there. (See "Rosebud Reflections" for more).

Here are the words:

"His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding ev'ry hour:
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow'r!"

God is using each taste of bitterness to yield sweet beauty.

"I cry out to God Most High,
to God Who fulfills His purposes for me!" Psalm 57.2, ESV

book review: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Micah wanted me to post this book. It's his favorite (along with the Focus on the Family's Radio Theatre unabridged recordings of this novel).

You will love Christian Birmingham's illustrustrations and the careful abridgement of the text.

Title is linked.

book review: A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms

(Click on the title to go directly to the Revive Our Hearts store. I'm sure you can find it other places online too, but the Revive Our Hearts is the ministry site of Nancy Leigh DeMoss and has other helpful things as well, so that's why I chose this link!)

My husband was marketing Christian products in the CBA and would bring home samples from time to time. When he brought this one home, I was thrilled. Our ladies at church were getting ready to use this book for the weekly Bible study time and I have liked what I've heard of Nancy's ministry.

For me, this devotional came at just the right time. I started the study on February 6, not knowing that later in the day I would find out that I was having a miscarriage (See "Rosebud Reflections"). At times like those, it's so important to keep our eyes on Jesus and having a guide to walk through especially that beloved book of Psalms kept me in the Word and putting one foot in front of the other.

Each lesson follows the same, progressively deeper approach to the particular psalm: observation, followed by interpretation, and then finally application. The psalm closes with the reminder to pray, not only for yourself but also for someone the Lord would lay on your heart, then a hymn text, and place to record your "take-away thought" for the day.

There's nothing fancy about this study guide, really nothing you couldn't do on your own, but sometimes when trying to decide what to do next in your Bible reading when your world is already spinning because of crisis circumstances, a pre-laid plan is exactly what you need.

It's what I needed. And now I have a record of all those things God taught me as he carried me through the past month, and I am so thankful!

book review: Easter In The Garden

I originally picked up this book (by Pamela Kennedy) because of its beautiful illustrations (by David Wenzel) and because of the Easter theme. But when I opened the first page and saw the main character's name was Micah (my first son's name), I had to get it!

Micah has two concerns: that the eggs he has found in the garden will never hatch and that Jesus is dead and he will never see Him again. As the story unfolds, Micah watches the Roman soldiers march through the street. The family's faith is tested. There are tender moments with his mother, the practice of the Passover/Sabbath supper, and the revelation of the angel in the Garden. As Micah watches from his perch in the olive branches, he hears that Jesus is alive and then sees the eggs hatch. He runs home to tell the most exciting news...not that his birdies have hatched, but that Jesus is alive!!

A sweet book to discuss with your kids. One that you'll want to prompt reading comprehension with. I hope you'll enjoy it!

Rosebud Reflections

No heartbeat. It was supposed to have been a routine obgyn check-up. I felt fine. I almost cancelled, in fact. But God in His sovereignty and kindness didn't allow me to do that. And even before the doctor looked at the ultrasound monitor to confirm the technician's findings, I knew the truth: There was no heartbeat. Our baby was gone. In that moment, as I lay on the medical table, my swollen belly smeared with gel, a quiet Voice echoed in my heart: "It's all right, Michelle. I have her, right here in My arms."

The next morning I sent out the following email to close family and friends:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

5.30a Subject: Prayer Request!

Dear Family and Friends,

Would you please pray for us today. Some of you may not have heard that we were expecting a new little baby in July. Before you get too excited for us, let me just continue the story. We found out yesterday that our baby passed away a couple of weeks ago in utero (14 wks gestation).

The miscarriage started naturally this morning and we were scheduled for "surgery" at 12:30, which we will continue as planned unless something progresses more rapidly, but I kind of hope it does. I would really like to have the miscarriage before the surgery.

The Lord has been so gracious to us to allow us to be prepared and last night I was able to talk extensively with (a friend who also recently had a miscarriage)....

We're both doing well and know God is in complete control. The verse I've claimed this year has been in Psalms: "God's lovingkindness lasts forever!" I know He loves us and I've seen in so many ways his gentleness. I'll share just one.

He graciously allowed me to go to my scheduled OBGYN appt yesterday. I almost cancelled b/c I've been feeling fine and just frankly wanted to save the out of pocket. I'm so glad I went. If I had started the miscarriage this morning and not gone yesterday and found out, I probably would've panicked. As it is, I was mentally prepared and can only thank God for that.

In God's sovereignty, my second devotional book went to press this week. The title? "No Matter What--you can rejoice!" That is my testimony now I think more than ever.

Here are my specific requests:

1. That "God grant me the serenity..." and keep my mind thinking things that are true and righteous.

2. That the baby miscarry naturally without any complications and that the procedure later today goes smoothly.

3. That the kids would be able to respond well. We have not told them yet, but Micah's the one who prayed for this baby in the first place, so it may be somewhat difficult. Thankfully, again, their friend's mommy just went through the same thing and so we have talked about how God sometimes brings babies home to be with Him when that's what's best for the baby.

I have never been more convinced of that in my life than I was immediately when they could not find the heartbeat with the ultrasound yesterday. God's grace blew in as powerfully as the gails outside were blowing yesterday, and with a calm serenity. Well, I'm going to go lie down for a while. But I do appreciate each of your prayers.

In His always loving care, with love, Alan and Michelle

Some dear friends kept the boys for the day, and by the time I came home from the hospital, my "inbox" was full of loving emails from friends who were praying. The following are subsequent email that I sent out letting those friends know how their prayers were answered:

February 7, 2008, 4.15p

Dear Family and Friends,

You all are so precious to me! Thank you so much for praying for us. I am home now and doing so much better than I could've imagined.

The Lord graciously allowed my water to break just as I was arriving at the hospital (10 am). I believe it was a direct answer to prayers and just a testimony of God's lovingkindnesses again for me that He allowed the miscarriage to occur naturally before the procedure.

The surgery went very well and everyone at the hospital (St. Francis Women's) was so loving and kind. I was asleep for the whole procedure and have had very little pain, etc.

Please, do not pity our circumstances. I know that the death of God's loved ones is precious to Him because He is welcoming them home to His arms. I know that my heavenly Father loves us and our little one and that He is watching over this precious little life that He created. I keep thinking, our child is right now praising Him perfectly. That is an amazing thought to me.

I have never felt more wrapped in His arms myself. He has been so gracious to answer our prayers so specifically and to give us so many loving friends.

We still have to tell the boys in just a little while when they come home and so we appreciate your prayers for them as they loved this baby quite a bit already. I know God will give them His grace too.

Well, I'm going to go lie down now, but I just wanted to say thank you. I am so thankful to be a part of God's family. I could tell so many of you were praying for me.

Again, please feel free to forward.

In His love,
Alan and Michelle and family

Friday, February 8, 2008, 6.46a

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you once again for your prayers. We saw God answer each of the three original requests so sweetly! The final request was for our boys.

After a delicious pot roast prepared by my sister, the four of us sat on the rug in the living room for some family circle time. We started by singing their favorite song: Jesus Loves Me. I think it's worth refreshing some of the lines--

"Jesus loves me-- This I know for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones, to Him belong.
They are weak; but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me!!!..."

We talked about who little ones and to Whom they belong. Then we were able to tell them that our baby belongs to Jesus, etc. They had a few questions, but responded in true child-like faith. What an answer to prayer!

Later as they were rocking in the chair with Daddy, I came in and sat at their feet. We talked just a little more.

(As background to what's next, let me just say that Micah seems to have come to what we believe to be true faith and repentance. He at several times has talked about really wanting to go to heaven and see Jesus and we've told him that Jesus will call him home when he's done here on earth, but that since He hasn't yet, He still has more for him to do.)

So anyways, they were sitting there in the chair and we were talking about the baby being in heaven, and Micah said, "She's all done here on earth?"

"Yes, Micah." And as the next words came out of my own mouth their reality hit my heart: "Our baby did everything God wanted her to do. She accomplished her assignment and so God let him come home." (Though I can't remember the exact words, that was the gist.) And that thought so amazes me: how God can use an unborn child, so small, so innocent, for His glory and to accomplish His perfect work! Our baby completed her course!

I can not tell you how many people we were able to share our faith in God's sovereignty and love with as a result of this, and I'm sure that His work will only continue till He has accomplished all that He will do on this earth with each of us and call His beloved Bride home. There is a resurrection! And we are SO looking forward to that.

A few little things that have been so encouraging to us:
* Emails filled with love and Scripture from you all,
* Randy Alcorn's book called Heaven, and
* SoundForth's recording A Strong Tower,

* a phrase from the Wilds' recording My Son, Give Me Thine Heart: "to His Father's will conformed" speaking of Jesus at Calvary. (I've had this CD playing in the boys' room this week and the night we found out about the baby, this phrase just really stood out to me. What Jesus submitted Himself to for me was awesome and horrendous. This was definitely "not my will," but it was His, and to that we both conform and rejoice knowing His outcomes of even heart-wrenching events are for His glory and our good.)

Well, this is the end of our little email trilogy, but I wanted you to know how truly awed we are at the specific, individualized answers to prayer.

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable/pleasing in Your sight, O LORD--my Strength and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14.

With love, Alan and Michelle and family
Our family verse: Psalm 48:14, "This God is our God forever and ever! He will be our guide even unto death!"

We found out that our baby was indeed a girl and that she had trisomy 18. (See www.trisomy18.org/ for info.) We wanted a beautiful name for our very special baby girl and decided on "Kali Grace." Kali (pronounced "kay-lee") means rosebud.

A rosebud--that's just what she was, our little rosebud. It was God's grace to her, His very kind and special grace, that brought her home to Himself just as she was beginning to bud. But she is very precious and beautiful to us and we believe she is a fragrant aroma in the nostrils of our wise and loving heavenly Father.

The verse I have claimed for Kali Grace is Psalm 71:6, "Upon You I have leaned from before my birth; You are He Who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of You."


If you or someone you know is going or has gone through a miscarriage and would like to "talk" please feel free to email me: ps48.14fam@gmail.com. I will pray for you.

The Girl in the Mirror

The Girl in the Mirror is my first book (published through JourneyForth, 2006). A devotional Reflections for Teens, this book helps girls take a close-up look into the book of Proverbs and examines the two types of women described there (the "praiseworthy" and the "problematic").

Each of the twelve lessons includes the following elements: Opener, Focus Passage, Facing the Facts (fact-level, face-value questions), A Closer Look (more questions, but a little deeper level), Time To Reflect (personal application), Additional Study (optional suggestions), and Memory Verse.

You can view the first chapter and table of contents at http://www.bjupress.com/ or http://www.christianbook.com/.

matthew henry on psalm 128.3

"Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table." psalm 128.3, esv

The wife...not only as a spreading vine which serves for an ornament, but as a fruitful vine which is for profit.... The vine is a weak and tender plant, and needs to be supported and cherished, but it is a very valuable plant.... The wife’s place is...by the sides of the house, not under-foot to be trampled on, nor yet upon the house-top to domineer..., but on the side of the house, being a rib out of the side of the man. She shall be a loving wife, as the vine, which cleaves to the house-side, an obedient wife, as the vine, which is pliable, and grows as it is directed. She shall be a fruitful vine, not only in children, but in the fruits of wisdom, and righteousness, and good management....

The children shall be as olive plants...though wild by nature, yet grafted into the good olive, and partaking of its root and fatness...straight and green, sucking in the sap of their good education, and likely in due time to be serviceable.” —Matthew Henry