Monday, December 17, 2007

The ballast of God's good sovereignty ...

Heights and depths intertwine and coexist in our lives.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.

Our family shared communion with the Goehrings and the Copelands / Archers on Saturday evening. In the same months that we've soared to great heights of celebration as we watched God's plan for a new covenant family unfold in the lives of Max and Jenny, we've watched Norman, Debra, Ariel and Caitlin Goehring struggle under the weight of Lou Goehrigs' disease (see July 22 post), and the Copeland family deal with Robert's ranch accident and brain injury and now also the failing health of Nadyne and Lorena (sisters to Robert's dad, Bill).

About 20 of us gathered at the Goehrings to sing, hear God's word, and share in the Lord's supper. Norman has taken nothing by mouth for many months now, but on Sat. evening Tim touched the bread and grape juice to Norman's mouth and tongue as we unsuccessfully tried to choke back tears and ponder Christ's sacrifice - and God's sovereignty.

I'm sure I'm slow to understand; I wish I wasn't that way. I wish I could comprehend God's ways. Then maybe I wouldn't sit with uncontrolled emotions and a throbbing head just when I want to be an encouragement and support. So I turn to His words and to others who have walked with Him and learned His ways. John Piper, in The Misery of Job and The Mercy of God, writes:

"It is a great sadness when sufferers seek relief by sparing God his sovereignty over pain. The sadness is that this undercuts the very hope it aims to create. When all forty-two chapters of the book of Job are said and done, the inspired author leaves us with an unshakable and undoubted fact: God governs all things for his good purposes...

Pain and loss are bitter providences. Who has lived long in this world of woe without weeping, sometimes until the head throbs and there are no more tears to lubricate the convulsing of our amputated love? But O, the folly of trying to lighten the ship of suffering by throwing God's governance overboard. The very thing the tilting ship needs in the storm is the ballast of God's good sovereignty, not the unburdening of deep and precious truth. What makes the crush of calamity sufferable is not that God shares our shock, but that his bitter providences are laden with the bounty of love."

It's the holiday season again - which seems to bring with it looking back and looking ahead. Last year at this time Tim conducted 3 funerals in 11 days, and Norman was diagnosed with Lou Goehrigs. Our days seemed filled with grief - but mixed with rich relationship that comes when grief is shared. Then came new rich relationships for us and displays of God's abundance of mercies. And then a day in September that brought Ashley's birthday - and her Uncle Robert's accident. I guess "there's nothing new under heaven" and this drama has played out again and again over thousands of years. But, WOULD YOU PRAY FOR OUR FRIENDS? And would you pray that God's name would somehow be praised in all of this.

"The great purpose of life is not to stay alive; but to magnify - whether by life or by death - the One who created us and died for us and lives as Lord of all forever, Jesus Christ. I pray that his sovereign goodness will sustain you in the unyielding joy of hope through every flame of pain and flood of fear." - John Piper, The Misery of Job and The Mercy of God

Willa and Bill Copeland, Robert's parents

Cheryl, Robert's sister

Debra and Norman Goehring

Caitlin and Ariel Goehring with Jenny and Kaylee at Wawona

Caitlin (in Pilgrim's Progress play) with dad, Norman. Oh to again hear the hearty laughter that accompanied that rich smile. We look ahead to that day when all is made right again.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

a little nostalgia....

I took these photos yesterday, I think...


Such happy bedtimes.... songs, stories, a few monkeys jumping on the bed...

The Indian maiden - Kindergarten Thanksgiving feast

early studies in civil engineering
neighborhood travels

and yes, weddings

Ashley and Jenny, trying on their dresses for the upcoming wedding (in just 3 1/2 weeks!)

We're in favor of early marriages. Connor's been married since he was 2.

(Kellie Flores, Connor)

by the Susquehanna River in PA

more happy days in PA

"They were brave warriors, ready for battle and able to handle the shield and spear. Their faces were the faces of lions..." (I Chron. 12:8)

Kaylee, Kaylee - white white hair and a sweet sweet smile

Jenny , ever-faithful story reader...and guardian of small (very small) animals

Kaylee and Lindsey, kindergarten graduation

Lover of small kittens (and big dogs)...
and very fond of climbing

Looking for that new perspective on life

and enjoying the company of good friends

Family, a great gift

A blessed Christmas, from our family to yours.

My son....

Trust in the LORD with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3: 1, 5-6

(Can you tell a wedding's coming up?! My walks down memory lane have been sweet, with so much for which to be thankful. Thanks for sharing a bit of the walk with me here. Time has a way of moving on -- but with the Lord guiding our paths, and Him at our right hand, there's fullness of joy and great anticipation for all that's ahead.)

- Lori

Monday, December 3, 2007

HAPPENINGS! condensed for review (add 3 cans of water, stir briskly - enjoy!)

Spike and Myron

Scary, but true -
my future son-in-law and dear husband
having the time of their lives(And there are more such pictures, but I've been told that one is painful enough.)
ah, Max back to normal, with Jenny as Eliza (My Fair Lady)
Our fall retreat's talent show brings out those theatrical inclinations.

Perfect, just perfect! The finer points of marshmallow roasting, by Kaylee.

Some guys, some girls - a happy weekend at Wawona with friends.

Connor's unfortunate run-in with a wolf at Magic Mountain.

And then there's........ "A time to dance...."
Max and Sally and the swoosh of a skirt.Lovely girls taking a break from swooshing.How Kaylee decorated her hair.

How Lilly decorated hers.Ah, the love of "the littles"

(Connor and Jacob above, Jaelyn and Grandma Sandy below)Uncle Simon with Jaelyn

And on a different day -
Brothers, friends, soon-to-be "son/father".
A blessed event as Max was baptized and also became a member of
First Reformed Presbyterian Church, Fresno.

Many reasons for great thanksgiving these days - and we did have a
GREAT THANKSGIVINGScott Parish, Master Turkey-Carver
(Heinz did not pay us to advertise here. Tho I love Heinz above all ketchups, I don't recall any of us using it that day, despite it's prominence here. It was NOT the reason for the lovely red below.)Exquisite beverage - with raspberries and spices.

And that glorious Parish tradition that finds the men at the kitchen sink. Such things can soften hearts of stone, bring tears to the most arid eye, and in general give the ladies a much appreciated break.

And there was "Grandma time"and then time for a walk around the orange grove.
Jenny, Max, LillyThe great gift of "sisters" (maybe not by law, but certainly in their hearts)
Kaylee and Sallyand more "sisters"
Jenny and KendraIn training for that big day. Dress-up. Probably a universal pastime for little girls.
JayniAnd don't forget the games! No, this was not a serious study of the Book of Psalms for Singing, tho it makes a great shield for those whispered team conferences.Tim and Simon surveying the land and Simon's fence-building.

"Such delightful times were had by all!" (at least that's how we interpreted Olivia's grins)

And another November highlight:

The annual trek to THE LICHTI'S CABIN (well, actually Kim's parents' cabin)
Kellie, Kaylee, Katie, Jenna, Melissa, Samantha
Friends since they were just little. Wow. Time passes.
And then, in need of a more compact tree than the cabin's property yields, we head to the tree farm, where we soberly pledge ourselves to the task of finding that perfect evergreen.
Jenny's Bridal shower!
What?! Is our firstborn truly getting married? In less than a month now?!
Yes! And tho' nostalgia and sentimentalism settle in and bring tears as we sort through her belongings and take a moment to read those first books again (Goodnight Moon, The Goodnight Book -- guess what we were praying for in those days... a good night of sleep!), we thank God for His faithfulness and His timing in bringing Max to us.
And tho this doesn't look like a bridal shower below, it is.
Our church was decorated beautifully, under the planning and direction of Kaylee and Sally, with the help of Kendra, Sandy - who cut greens for us at the lake - and Simon, Connor, Tim, and Jacob Holly, who graciously moved all the pews and set up tables and chairs. HOWEVER, the pictures of the lovely decorations didn't turn out very clear. So, here's what you get to see: Kaylee handing Jenny yet another piece of gum for her incorrect answer to another question about Max.
Delighting in that fresh minty taste.
And the lovely home that will accomodate the many gifts Jenny and Max received from generous and loving friends:
(Thank you to our friends, Paul and Gayane Atmajian, for offering this special little cottage to them)Doing some moving in and setting up after the shower.
The delights of organizing a kitchen. It just warms a girl's heart.
Well, there you have it. A quick summary of many delightful days. Maybe it wasn't so "condensed" after all -- but it's awfully hard to leave out fun pictures for the sake of brevity.
We pray that you all are encouraged by the goodness of God, and His great kindnesses. And may you know His peace and His great care even if the path you're walking right now is filled with more distress than delights. May you find Him faithful.