What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
(Isaiah 53 and What Child is This)
I was listening to this song on the radio this morning (What Child is This) and two things struck me: 1. The irony and sadness of the honor Jesus deserved and the honor we actually paid Him and 2. Mary's response as a mother to Jesus' crucifixion (that we don't know much about it).
My baby, June, has been sick the last few weeks with a cold and an ear infection. I've had lots of time to hold her at night and rock her and also to think and pray about her future (after I finally remember in my sleepy state that Allen is working and will not be getting up with her as he usually does!). It's in the moments when my children seem the most innocent and helpless that I sometimes look with fear into the future. I won't be able to protect them forever. Lord, please keep them from pain and suffering and harm.
But, in my heart of hearts I know He won't. Whom of us has been spared any pain or suffering or harm? Whom of us hasn't had our hearts broken, ignored, or "held in low esteem." If we are honest, we all have been hurt and harmed by other people, whether intentional or unintentional. It is the sad state of our hearts. We all have been tainted by sin and we feel the effects of that.
So, once I admit that my children have and will inevitably experience pain and suffering and some degree of hurt I wonder what I should pray next? I can't protect them forever. I couldn't keep Joseph with us forever or keep cancer from ravaging his beautiful life. Just the thought of it is too much to bear.
Where do we go with this unspeakable fear and sadness? As a mother, how do we fearlessly entrust our children to God's hands, knowing full well it won't be a bed of roses? How did Mary accept the beautiful gift of being the mother of God, knowing His life would be full of rejection and pain and that He would be taken from her and crucified on a cross?
I have looked through the Bible and I just can't find much about Mary in Jesus' later life (I am no Bible scholar, so if I'm missing it please let me know) or how she responded to His crucifixion. But I can imagine the intense pain, horror, outrage and anger. This child, this perfect son, whom she nursed and held and raised, treated as a lowly criminal and killed publicly for all to see. With no honor or respect or glory. The King of kings and Lord of lords, her own son.
The only thing I can think of is that she knew He was God's Son first. That yes, He was her son, entrusted to her for a short while, but ultimately His purposes were so vastly beyond just the short while she had Him in her home.
I know it is not really accurate to compare our own children to Jesus, because He is the Savior of the world and our children are not, but I think the idea still applies. That our children are gifts given to us for a short while, but their purposes and lives are God's and He is trustworthy to keep them safe. And not safe as we imagine safe, but safe in His love and safe for eternity in His hands. That Emmanuel, God with us, applies to all of us. Even in loneliness, sadness, and fear, God is with us. In the midst of a sinful, painful, fallen world, the beauty of Jesus can shine into our hearts. He is with us if we confess our need and open our hearts to His forgiveness and grace.
This Christmas season, (and every Christmas season) I find myself distracted by buying gifts, getting to the post office, checking everything off my "to do" list to be "prepared" for the big day. I am not focused on Jesus and I truly feel my heart "is deceitful above all things and beyond cure." But the Good News is that we do have a beautiful Savior who sacrificed for us and lived a perfect life in our place (by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.).
In our busyness and distraction He still calls to us. He is Emmanuel, God with us. May He be with you and me this Christmas season.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 9:36 AM
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
***P.S.*** My sister is doing a giveaway for a beautiful new stamper here. It ends Friday, Dec. 3.
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 12:33 PM
Thursday, October 21, 2010
The girls and I have been blessed lately to spend time with some wonderful people we call "the sweet people." My dear friend Holly nicknamed the residents at a nursing home this because she said they were so sweet. She took her children to see them every week until she moved away a couple of months ago. My friend Beth and I decided to fill in for her since "the sweet people" loved seeing children every week and missed Holly and her kids (but I don't think we will ever compare to the famous Holly at this place).
We have only gone twice but I just can't describe the impact these women have had on me already (there are some men, but it's mostly women). For one thing, many of them are as sharp as a tack. There is one lady I'll call Shelley who has become my favorite. She is a beautiful woman of 90 years old who is bedridden. She really never leaves her bed, except maybe to bathe. But she is full of encouragement and kindness and compliments. I am amazed that in a short visit of 5-10 minutes I come away feeling like a million bucks. We'll just be talking about the children or her grandchildren or something, and she'll slide in a compliment somehow that leaves me a little befuddled. (Aren't I here to encourage her? I neeed to focus more.)
Today she revealed her age to me and I honestly was shocked. Aside from being unable to walk around she has great mental acuity and her face looks young and happy. When I said, "Wow, you do not look like you are 90," she quickly came back with, "I thought you might say that. That's why I told you." Then I said, "I would have guessed 55," with a little smirk. She then asked, "Can it go a little lower?" I confusedly asked, "The bed? I'm not sure I know how to move it..." and she said, "No, no, the age. Can't it go a little lower?" That made me laugh out loud. I guess I need to work on my compliments!
As I was walking June out, I chatted with her roommate a bit and mentioned how quickly time goes by and how I can't believe June is already one. I didn't even think Shelley was listening because her TV was on the news and it looked like she was watching it, but she piped up without even looking over at me, "Time to have another one!"
Already telling me what to do. I love it!
Aside from being really amused by some of these sweet people, visiting them has also made me ponder my own life and what I value most. These women have a few pictures of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and maybe a few books and paintings in their rooms. After a full life of marriage, raising children, careers, and whatever else they accomplished in their lives, this is what is left: a small room and a few precious belongings.
It would make me cry just thinking about it if they didn't seem so happy and sweet. This nursing home looks like a four star hotel. The residents are well cared-for and are given lots of little luxuries. If I ever need to be in a nursing home I want my name on the list here.
But there is something that seems to mark every person we have visited: They are hungry. They are overjoyed that we have come. They want us to come again. They offer us little candies and little gifts. Every single room visit ends with a pleading, "Come back."
Today June toddled over to a lady eating her lunch and put her arms up for her to hold her. The lady eagerly threw her fork down, reached for June and held her like she would never get to hold another person in her life. That interaction almost did make me cry. She was so thankful to hold a baby and so happy that June reached for her. I could tell she savored every moment of that sweet embrace.
Every person we encounter is hungry for love and conversation and interaction. This is what they value most. They have all the time in the world and no-one to share it with. All of their possessions and achievements and jobs don't mean much to them now. What they want is to hold someone and love them and feel important.
I think I have mentioned before how I tend to be a doer. A busy person. I like to have projects and things to do and see. Maybe you can relate? I do love people and I love my children but I often find myself putting my "to-do" list above the people in my life.
But God seems to constantly be driving home this point to me to cherish the people and the days I have. I know one day I will be old (if I don't die sooner). That is a certainty. I'm not getting any younger. One day my children will be grown up and living lives of their own and I will be hungry to have time with them. I already know the ache of longing to hold and be with a beloved child.
Right now they are hungry for me. They are little and need me for just about everything and I'm tired. But for this day I'm praying for the grace to enjoy the life God has given me and the precious people he has entrusted me to love.
"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness!"
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 12:46 PM
Monday, September 6, 2010
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Just wanted to remind you all that "The Big Day" at Chili's is Sept. 27th. On that day Chili's donates 100% of its profits to St. Jude's. Pretty amazing. So, eat at Chili's!! Not only are they extremely generous but they also have the best strawberry lemonade this side of the Mississippi.
If you feel like eating at Chili's just isn't enough for you, we've come up with a few lesser-known places we feel are pretty deserving of donations:
Give Kids The World: This is the resort where we stayed when Make A Wish sent us to Disney World. They provide beautiful comfortable accomodations for children and their families who are battling cancer. It is also a mini-Disney World in itself, with many fun activities for all ages of kids, along with free ice cream any time of day, pictures with Disney characters, and an indoor play castle.
Rally Foundation: This organization, through volunteers across the country, raises awareness and funds specifically for childhood cancer research to find better treatments and cures for childhood cancers. We did the Joe P. Rally Run with them last year and raised $20,000 for childhood brain cancer research!
Aflac Cancer Center in Atlanta: Recognized as one of the top childhood cancer centers in the country by U.S.News & World Report, the Aflac Cancer Center treats more than 350 new cancer patients each year and follows more than 2,500 patients with sickle cell disease, hemophilia and other blood disorders. Joseph was treated here after he was diagnosed.
Another way of giving is simply donating toys to the children's hospital in your city. This is a great activity to do with your kids. They can help pick out the toys and imagine how excited a child will be who is sick in bed and can't get outside to play.
We also wanted to let you know that the Joe P. Rally Run has been postponed until April 16, 2011. It will be in Nashville again.
Thank you for all your support last year. Because of you, we were able to send $20,000 to the University of California San Franciso. They are testing new drugs to treat pediatric malignant gliomas (including glioblastoma multiforme) and are showing some promising results in the early stages of testing. We were so excited to hear this as very little is being done anywhere to research pediatric high-grade gliomas. Let's help to keep this research going! We will let you know when the website is up and you can sign up for the race.
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 9:34 PM
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I had the honor of guest posting on my friend Missy's blog (It's Almost Naptime) today. She is actually a friend I have never had the pleasure of meeting in person, but I discovered her blog a while back and it soon became my favorite. We started emailing and it turned out she had followed Joseph's story and had been praying for him for months. Missy is one of the funniest and sweetest people ever. If you don't already read her blog you really should!
A few weeks ago she asked if I would write a little something about how to help a friend who has lost a child, so if you are interested you can hop over there and take a look.
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 5:21 PM
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
This is the slideshow we made last year of Joseph's life. We've added one more song that Allen wrote, called "Back Home." (This isn't the official polished version as it is still in production, but the slideshow distorts so much of the music that you can't tell.) Thanks again to John Moessner who worked for peanuts.
Happy Birthday, Joe P.! We miss you more than words can say. One day we'll all be back home and what rejoicing there will be!
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 10:23 PM
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 10:42 PM
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Well, I'm not sure where the last 9 months went! Having a baby can be pretty all-consuming, I guess. But June is almost 9 months now, Holly is 4 and summer is here. I am so thankful for summer and pool days and lots of sunshine. Here is Holly going to her last day of school:
June playing with her "schoolhouse":
Both these girls continue to bring us lots of joy. It is hard work but oh-so worth it. June's little personality is really coming out and it is so interesting to see how every child even within one family is so unique. She is very sensitive and loves Holly. If Allen and Holly are playing and Holly screams laughing, June cries. She thinks Holly is hurt and gets very upset. We keep telling her, "It's okay, June. And we smile and say "yay!" but she still cries if she thinks Holly is hurt. And Holly is equally as protective of her (most of the time). I think she cannot wait till June is walking and playing with her on the playground. She is really careful to pick up tiny little parts to her toys "so June won't swallow them" and showers her with hugs and kisses. Many times these hugs have ended with June toppling, but the intention is sweet.
We still miss Joseph a lot. I was really distracted for many months after June was born and just didn't have time to grieve and be sad. But I think now it's hitting me again how much I miss him and wish he could meet June and be Holly's big brother, etc. Holly also misses him a lot. The other day she was saying how much she wanted to go up to heaven and bring him back and then he could never leave again. We finally decided she could draw him a picture and put it in an envelope with some candy and send it up with some balloons "to heaven." This really made her happy and she did enjoy doing it. As she's getting older she asks many many questions about heaven and dying. One book that has helped so much is "What About Heaven?" for kids. If you ever need a resource for children who are dealing with death and eternity this one is great. It asks a bunch of questions at the beginning of the book, then at the end answers them. Holly thought it was great that it never was night and always is day! She saw in one of the pictures that there was a bed in a kid's room and she asked a great question: "Why do they need a bed if it's never night?" She's always thinking!! If any of you have other good resources please let me know. I know she will continue to ask questions and we are going to need wisdom!
We are drawing close to Joseph's birthday (and the day he died) and that brings so many memories and emotions. I will sometimes go back and read through this blog to look at pictures and be reminded of certain things and I'm always blown away at how loved and prayed for we were throughout Joseph's illness. I have no idea why God caused so many people to care for Joseph and our family. We were (and are) so blessed. Thank you to everyone for showing us God's love in a very dark time.
Allen and I will celebrate 9 years of marriage tomorrow. I simply cannot believe what all life has brought us in our 9 years. We were looking through our honeymoon photo album and we were marveling at how young and carefree we looked (and skinny!). We had no idea what lay ahead of us. Lots of fun and great memories, but also a lot of sadness. But I am so grateful and proud to call Allen my friend and husband. He has been God's good gift to me throughout all the ups and downs. He has made wise and sacrificial choices for his family and I'm so thankful for that. We have had our fair share of struggles and hard times, but I have to say I'm still pretty fond of him. :) And he's still the funniest person I know.
This is how we feel at the end of each day (and after Holly's birthday party :)).
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 7:41 AM
Friday, May 14, 2010
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 7:26 PM
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Well, my sister has again generously offered to do a giveaway, folks. She has gone back to school and has been busy acing organic chemistry (Yes, she's smart and beautiful...I try not to let it bother me) and other such classes, but I have begged her to not forget her first love: stationery. I think we can all agree that having beautiful stationery is a luxury a person should really try to not live without. :) And if it's free, it's even more beautiful!
So, here is your mission, should you choose to accept it:
Go to Lynn's newly designed website and pick out your favorite product and design and leave it in the comment section by Friday evening, May 14th. Please include your email so that I can contact you if you win!
The lucky winner will receive 25 of these beautiful Whitney English notecards (you may pick the design and personalize it):
There is also a section with personalized notepads for $4.75 in case you just need some or know a teacher who needs some. And, one more great deal is these personalized notecards for just $12 (They are listed as 50 for $60, but if you click on a card you will have the option to order 10 for $12).
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 8:11 AM
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
June bug turned 6 months this week! I know every mom marvels at how quickly their child grows, but I have to say it: I cannot believe she is 6 months old. I know the next 6 months are going to go even faster.
She has followed in Joseph and Holly's footsteps and is already crawling. She has become so full of personality lately and giggles and laughs at Holly nonstop. She is so happy. I picked her up from nursery the other morning and the sweet nursery coordinator said, "Is she always this happy? I'm sure she's not." But, most of the time she is. Here are some pictures of her royal cuteness :
All decked out!
I like my thumb, but my toe will do.
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 2:36 PM
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Ah, the brewing post. I'm not exactly sure what that post was going to be about. A lot of times I will have a thought going and think, "I need to write about this..." then 2 days later it's gone. So, I'm sorry to have led you astray. I did have one brewing but you are getting another one. :)
As you know, we were so very excited to be pregnant with June. For a while before Joseph died I was longing to have another child but for various reasons it seemed wise to wait. Then after he died the longing increased. Very shortly afterwards God answered our prayers and we were blessed with a baby growing inside me. In many ways this was my hardest pregnancy. I was already tired from all we had been through, then being pregnant just seemed to suck all the rest of the little energy I had left. I think I also just felt older and less resilient and then she ended up being a very big baby so I was pretty uncomfortable towards the end. But, none of that seemed to matter compared to the reward I was promised at the end: a precious little baby that we had waited for and prayed for.
We weren't very busy during that time. Allen was waiting tables and I was taking care of Holly but had lots of help from grandparents. I had a lot of time to myself and had time to grieve my loss but also anticipate this new baby. I dreamed of what he/she would be like and couldn't wait to find out what he/she was so I could start decorating the nursery. Then when we moved to Atlanta we had (have) a small room for her---one just begging to be transformed into "all girl."
I'll be honest. I went a little nuts decorating this room. Maybe it was part of my nesting process or maybe I was excited to test out my new hobby: sewing. But this girl got more handmade things from me than Joseph and Holly combined. I sewed blankets, burp cloths, pillows, chair covers, really anything I thought I might be able to do. The thing I love about sewing is that you can have a finished product within a couple of hours in many projects. Patience is not my forte so this definitely appeals to me.
We also painted the crib, the room, put up curtains, got out the sheets and blankets and somehow everything seemed to go together even though it was mostly a hodgepodge of things we already owned. For many weeks before June was born, she had a place waiting for her. And I mean, diapers, wipes, burp cloths, sheets, clothes. Everything was ready. (Which is so not normal for me, by the way. With my other two pregnancies I was not even close to being this prepared and I don't anticipate ever being this prepared again.)
So as I sat in that room the other night with my almost 6 month old, I looked around the room and remembered when she wasn't in there with me. I would love to peek in and think with excitement that soon there would be a baby in the crib; soon there would be clothes in the laundry hamper and toys on the floor. But more than that, this room was full of June before she was even there. All those things I made or picked out or laid out were all there with her in mind. I was picturing her in that bed, her in those clothes, her in the rocking chair with me (boy, I hope she likes the colors!). She had no idea what all I had done for her before she was born. She was not aware of the stuffed animals or blankets or burp cloths that were all there for her. She was just born, and all this stuff is hers.
Which finally brings me to the thought I had (thanks for bearing with me!): God does this for us. For us, who are so often oblivious to the work He has done on our behalf, the sacrifice he has made, the joy he feels that we are His children. He carefully made each one of us, thought about what we would look like, be like, sound like. And He goes ahead of us and prepares a place for us in heaven. If I (and so many mothers), in my limited, sinful, human state can put loving thought and excitement into decorating a nursery, how much more skill and love and preparation must God put into the place He has prepared for us. I, for one, cannot wait!
This is purely my own imagination, but I started thinking that maybe this life we have on earth is just the "womb." God knits us together, teaches us, forms us to be more like Him, then death is our real birth into real life where our real room is ready for us. Not to minimize the life we have on earth. We all know how delicate and important the formation in the womb is. Our life here matters, but maybe it's just as C.S. Lewis says "the title page." The real story is yet to come.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 12:00 PM
Monday, February 1, 2010
Hey! Remember me? Joseph's mom? The lady who occasionally used to update this blog? It's okay if you've forgotten...it's been a long time. I do have a post brewing in my head but it may have to wait till next week.
Today is Holly's 4th birthday. Very hard to believe. We are so grateful for this little bundle of joy and look forward to another wonderful year of Holly! Here's a little "through the years" of Holly bear.
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 2:48 PM