Friday, January 29, 2010

The Darker the Night...


When Sara and I first met, back in June of 1998, we were camping at Garner State Park in West Texas. I asked her to dance, and that was the beginning of our journey together. After the dance that night, we spent some time together looking up at the stars in the night sky of West Texas. Fast forward to April 2003...after a 3 year "hiatus" in our relationship (i.e. Sara dumped me after I went to college in Florida), our lives reconnected and we were once again looking at the stars in the night sky outside of Austin, TX. We enjoyed looking at stars together over the course of our relationship.

After Chloe goes to sleep, I enjoy some quiet time sitting on my back porch...thinking about life and looking up at the night sky. Tonight, I was on the porch and was amazed at how bright the full moon was. The moon was so bright, that it was casting shadows. As I looked up, longing to see the millions of stars (that I once looked at with my wife), I realized that I could only see a few because of the "light pollution" from the moon. The moon has an irradiance of zero, meaning that it does not give off any of it's own light. However tonight, the moon was lighting up the earth, from it's reflection of the sun.

The thought occurred to me that "the darker the night sky, the more stars I can see...or...the darker it is, the more fully I can see God's glory."

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands. --Psalms 19:1

The weeks following Sara's death and the journey of grief that has followed, have been some of the "darker times" in my life. However, along this journey, I have truly seen God's work and glory.

As I came inside to put the latest "epiphany" on on paper, the song "Cry Out to Jesus" by Third Day was on the radio. Here are some of the lyrics...

To everyone who's lost someone they love
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
When you said goodbye

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there's nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus
Cry out to Jesus

"I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun, not because I can look directly at it, but by it I can see everything else." -Author Unknown

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Praying...

"The Sullivans"
by the Willow Tree Collection

Over the past month or so, I have been debating with myself about prayer. Let me start off by telling you that my faith has not been shaken by Sara's death, but made stronger. I feel like I have a better understanding of who God is, after going through this trial. However, as the human mind often does, I want to be able to understand and comprehend what is going on and why. This is a fruitless task, because God's word tells us that...

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts that your thoughts." --Isaiah 55:8-9

Here are some of my thoughts on prayer...

Why do we pray? If God is separated from time and knows what is going to happen in the future, what do our prayers accomplish?

Do we pray to change God's mind or to change our hearts (to put them more in line with God's will)?

Do we, as God's children, truly have free-will or are we predestined to follow the path that God has laid for us? Do our actions here have an effect on the future? If we have free-will, God knows all and is "separated from time" so, He knows what is going to happen in the future, so is it really free-will?!?

Some of my conclusions...

I pray because God tells me to. "This, then, is how you should pray: " 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name..." --Matthew 6:9

I pray because that is how I communicate with God. Relationships cannot exist without communication.

God's mind has been changed in the past by the peoples prayers and God tells us "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." --Hebrews 13:8.

So, if His mind has been changed in the past, the prayers of the people can change His mind today.

I know that 1000s of people were praying for Sara, but God did not answer our prayers for earthly healing. I have often thought, "What if more people had prayed for her...would it have made a difference?" I do not think it would have.

If I found out that my prayers would never change God's mind would I continue to pray? ABSOLUTELY! God's word tells us to "Be joyful always, PRAY CONTINUALLY; give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." --1 Thessalonians 5:17

Lastly, I do not think I will ever be able to know the answer to the free-will/predestination debate on this side of Heaven.

The following passage is what I read last night in STREAMS IN THE DESERT.

Before we can establish a new and deeper relationship with Christ, we must first acquire enough intellectual light to satisfy our mind that we have been given the right to stand in this new relationship. Even the shadow of a doubt here will destroy our new confidence. Then, having seen the light, we must advance. We must make our choice, commit to it, and take our rightful place as confidently as a tree is planted in the ground. As a bride entrusts herself to the groom at the marriage altar, our commitment to Christ must be once and for all, without reservation or reversal.

Then there follows a time of establishing and testing, during which we must stand still until the new relationship becomes so ingrained in us that it becomes a permanent habit. It is comparable to a surgeon setting a broken arm by splinting it to keep it from moving. God too has His spiritual splints He wants to put on His children to keep them still until they pass the first stage of faith. Sometimes the trial will be difficult, but "the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast" (1 Peter 5:10). - A.B. Simpson

Now, for what most of you have been waiting for...

video
"Chloe discusses her dreams with Nannie (my mom)."






Update on the Ertmers - Brad, Holly, and Ethan are doing great. Holly had a checkup with the neurologist this week, and he said things look good. The tumor was benign, but Holly will continue to visit with the neurologist twice a year for the foreseeable future.

Uncle Brady and Ethan

Thank you for your prayers for them. They TRULY appreciate them, as well. Thanks for checking up on us.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Save A Place For Me...

As the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2010, I felt a physical weight lifted from my shoulders. A fresh start to a new year. I am choosing to move forward with life. I almost feel guilty saying that, because it sounds like I am choosing to forget about Sara. That is NOT the case. I am the person that I am because of the couple that we were. At my grandpa's funeral last week, the pastor said, "...memories are God's gifts to us." The memories of Sara and I continue to mold me into who I am.

When Sara and I moved to San Antonio, we quickly became friends with the Ertmers. Holly was pregnant with their first child and when Sara was on bed rest (at home), Holly would drive her to the bi-weekly fetal testings at Wilford Hall. When Sara had her seizure at the house, I called the Ertmers after calling 911. They were at our house within minutes of the ambulance arriving, and I left Chloe with them and went in the ambulance with Sara. They were the first people that we ever left Chloe with. Since Sara's death, they have become like family. Holly always said that when we talked about Sara, Ethan (their baby) would kick like mad.

This past week, Holly started having headaches. The headaches worsened and on Wednesday morning, her vision started to blur and her left arm started to go numb. They went to the OB and he ordered a MRI. Hours later, Brad and Holly listened to the doctor tell them that their was a tumor on Holly's pituitary gland in her brain...and it was bleeding. They soon found out that a C-section was scheduled for the following morning and brain surgery would occur within a few days. As I was driving to the hospital to visit them on Wednesday night, I thought "could this really be happening?!?" Needless to say, Holly was scared.

On Thursday morning, I got a phone call before going to work. It was Holly and she wanted to tell me that she was not scared anymore. Her new nurse came in and introduced herself...her name was Sara.

Thursday afternoon, Holly had a C-section and Ethan Michael was welcomed to the world as healthy as can be.

The Ertmers

Friday morning, Holly was wheeled back into the operating room for brain surgery. I'm not very well versed in brain surgery, but after a procedure which went up her right nostril, drilled through her sinus cavity and lanced the tumor with a razor wire, the problem was solved. Hours later, she was in recovery and after one night in the Neuro ICU, the Ertmers were back together.

Sunday evening, the Ertmers arrived at home as a family of 3.

Please add the Ertmers to your prayers, as they have some more follow up appointments with the neurologists in the near future.

Chloe Grace - 4 months

This is a new song that I really like. "Save A Place For Me" by Matthew West. Click the title to hear the song.

...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. --Phillipians 4:11