God's majesty

Hey Fitties!

The pea and I are checking in to fill you guys in on what has happened in the past week. As I write this, I’ve known I’m going to be a mama (mommy? madre? Mamacita? I’ll have to work on the title) for a little over a week.

It went like this: It was way too early to find out if The AntiRat and I had gotten lucky on our first shot of trying for a baby (we had) but I thought I’d take a test anyway. I’d already taken two tests and gotten negatives but on a whim, at 10 pm last Tuesday, I took a third test and immediately saw the plus sign faintly form. I was a bit… erm… surprised and, after the longest hand-washing in history, called Matthew in to see the results. Poor guy, he didn’t even know I was testing. 😀

We laughed a little bit and jumped up and down and I told him, “Call your mom, wake her up. She’ll want to know right away.” Now, I know some people would say you should wait until you’re further along to tell people. Me, I’m a positive thinker and can’t keep secrets for shit (plus my boobs are already gigantic so they’re pretty much announcing the news for me) so I wanted to tell everyone ASAP. So Matthew called his mom and dad, I let my family know and then took to Facebook and the blog to make it official on the internet.

16 hours later, my in-law’s house caught fire and my father-in-law died.

I can’t describe the roller coaster of emotions the family has experienced in the past week. I won’t describe what happened or how it happened because the family has been over and over it daily since the accident. Also, we really don’t have many answers right now.

I will say this:

I will be forever grateful for the mercies of God throughout these events. This baby has been a big beacon of hope. Not that a baby makes everything better or makes problems go away (babies have a funny way of bringing their share of demands to a family), but this little pea is a reminder that life does continue, we have a future as well as joy and hope. Our family will still have our share of griefs ahead, but we have many more weddings and babies and graduations and first houses and new beginnings ahead of us. I believe that the spirit of God finally gave M and I the urge to take the plunge to add to our family. I believe that God prepared comfort and hope for us in advance knowing that tragedy lay ahead. I’ll come back to that in a second.

I am grateful we didn’t wait to tell Matthew’s father. He shared the news with his mother the day he died. He died knowing that his son was going to be a dad. And his son is going to be an awesome dad. I have always known Matthew will be an amazing father but seeing him minister to and care for the family while shouldering immense burdens this past week further reveals the depth of my husband’s character. He and his brothers are truly testaments to what a family can accomplish when they stick together and I’m so proud of their selflessness , love and cooperation over the past week. They are truly special men and I am blessed to count them as my family.

Now to return to the provisions of God. I know there are people out there (I certainly would have been one of them years ago) who roll their eyes. If God is so good, why not make a provision for the house to NOT catch fire? Why not make a provision for everyone to get out safely?

I blogged once before about questions of suffering. The answer is that we don’t get to understand why God allows a particular type of suffering to enter our lives. Suffering is part of our experience as humans living in a fallen world — anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something (pardon the Princess Bride paraphrase). Jesus, the son of God, understands suffering like no other human possibly can. And sometimes, we are invited to share in some small part of that suffering. Is it so we can experience the comfort of God? Is it because we can truly appreciate the promise of a redeemed world when we recognize how fallen and corrupt this one is? Is it so that we learn to hope in the promises of God instead of our own power? I have no idea. This side of heaven, I don’t expect to know.

I do know this: Last week, my greatest sin was probably one of pride. I am extremely self-sufficient and don’t really need a lot of help from others. I’m the worst possible patient in the hospital because I resent the prescriptions, the wheelchairs… all that sissy stuff. My service to others is to handle my shit so they don’t have to serve me by helping me out of scrapes. I’m smart, I’m capable and I am pretty decent at taking care of myself.

A certain breed of Christian would think that God brought this disaster to my family to humble me. Those people are assholes. I will tell you what humbled me: It was love. The love from our community, from friends, family, total strangers, local business owners, our church and our pastor, our co-workers and neighbors… the love they poured out on us and the way they busted their asses to serve us is truly humbling. It showed me how much people need each other.

There’s a picture of the gospel there: undeserved grace and sacrifice producing contrition and fellowship. God did not redeem this world with threats of punishment and a code to keep. He sent his chosen people a code to follow to demonstrate that we will always be rule breakers, no matter how many times God delivers us from slavery or from wandering in the desert. The original sin was not behavioral, it was of loving something more than God. And a code of conduct cannot force people to love God rightly. He sent his son to die on our behalf because selfless love begets love in return. Not out of obligation, but out of gratitude. We love him because he first loved us. The change in a person redeemed by love is very different than the change in a person who is following the rules. The sacrifice of Jesus is what converts an enemy of God into someone who loves God rightly.

I’m not sure that a disaster would make me a particularly humble person, but the undeserved grace and service from those around us has certainly brought me to my knees. The sorrow people have expressed on our behalf has touched my heart in a way that a punishment never could.

So I’ll finish this long post by giving glory to God, by thanking the people who ministered to us and by sharing my favorite verse, the true picture of what redemption does in a person’s life:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.

And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 

(Ezekiel 36.26)

Good night fitties, from the Princess and her pea. <3

 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. 

(Matthew 7:24-27)