Saturday, February 26, 2011

"11" in 2011

Here is another letter that the kids received from Anastasha yesterday:

Dear Ariana, Charis, Adoniyah, Amalyah, Corban,
Caelan, Cale, & Caius~

Guess what? I got to play with Gabriel again today.
He had another message of something amazing God had to say.

Tucked away in Mommy’s tummy safe, and cozy until the growing is done….
Are TWO new tiny, tiny souls…not just one.

Your Father in Heaven heard your hearts’ pleas for not one but TWO…
He says for you to WATCH closely now and see ALL He’s going to do!

God is mighty…the strongest ever in power and love.
He has given you my big brothers and sisters not one, but TWO amazing gifts from above.

I can feel your joy, hear your gratefulness, and rejoice in your excitement
At these TWO glorious miracles that God has sent…

I love you so very, very much,

Isn't God good!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How We Told the Kids

A lot of you asked how we told the kids about the baby, so I thought I would share.

We drove to the cemetary on a sunny, but cold Saturday afternoon.  Snow was melting on the ground from the day before.  Tonya went there earlier in the day and had tied 10 helium balloons on Anastasha's headstone (and placed the letter there too).

When we pulled up and could see the balloons from the car, the kids were so excited.  I told them that maybe one of my patients had tied the balloons there for the kids since they knew they would love them.

When we got out to look closer, we "found" the letter.  We told them the kids to read it to see who the balloons were from.  Ariana (age 11) took it and started reading it.  As soon as she realized that it was written as being from Anastasha, she started sobbing.  I (Craig) held her (now crying too) and passed the letter to Charis (age 10).  He read the rest of the letter and stopped when he got to the "big sister" part and said, "Are you kidding me?".  When they all figured it out, the kids were SO excited.

Then we cut each of the balloons off and let each child write a message (or color a picture) with a sharpie marker.  Then they released their balloons to the sky.  Except for Cauis, who hung on to his balloon for dear life until he accidentally let go.

We are excited, as you can imagine.  But it is a strange dance of joy mixed with grief that is still fresh in our hearts.  God the Father has had us on a journey of surrender for the last 10 months or so.  We feel like this is a continuation of this journey.

We always give our baby in the womb an acronym - BIB (baby in belly), BIT (baby in tummy), BOW (baby on the way), BCS (baby coming soon), etc.  This one we are calling B.L.T., short for Baby Living in Tummy (or baby living in Texas!).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Letter from Heaven

My Sweet Brothers and Sisters--
Ariana, Charis, Adoniyah, Amalyah, Corban, Caelan, Cale, and Caius,

I can’t wait for you to see everything that God has put here….
To play with thousands and thousands and thousands of children, to feel God’s hug that is not far away anymore but so, so near.

I am laughing and playing on the roads of gold with a royal blue sky above and rainbow sparkle colors floating all around me.
Gabriel, God’s messenger angel, came to tell me he had a message and a gift for me to see.

I thought for a second that maybe one of you were coming to play with me,
But I knew only a very short time has gone by since I got here, so that could not be.

O guys, Gabriel is very big and so brave to carry messages for your Shepherd up here down there to you, His little sheep.
Just wait till you see Gabriel’s huge wings and Michael’s big, big sword that guards you from the devil and protects you guys when you sleep.

I saw Noah, David, Elijah, Sampson, Peter, Luke and Paul too.
They told me all the amazing stories about their lives that Daddy & Mommy read to you.

Ariana, Adoniyah, and Amalyah, I can’t wait to show you all the colors of pink diamonds here that sparkle and shine--
And the tiara that your King has for you, His princesses, just like mine!

Charis, Corban, & Caelan Jesus showed me the pretty, white snow and the fort-walls that you made.  I could see your smiles and hear your laughter below.
Wait till you see the snow we have here that is so soft and sparkly.  It makes the bestest snowballs, and Jesus even made one for me to hold.

I saw Cale and Caius licking their snow in cups…so, I licked mine too.
It is so yummy and sweet, and it made my tongue tickle.
When you come, I will give all mine to you.

Gabriel played on the slides and pushed till my feet could touch the clouds on the swings. 
My toes could feel them.  I touched them, and they are as soft as the angels’ wings!

The clouds tickled my toes.  They made me giggle.  Gabriel asked me if I knew what a big sister was—I said, “Yes!  I have three!”
He took a tiny gift from under his wing and sat it in my hand—a message from God.  What could it be?

I pulled the silky, golden ribbon so slow as Gabriel watched with a grin.
Inside was a note from God that said, “Anastasha, today you are the big sister!”  My eyes asked him, “When?”

Gabriel told me the most amazing way God put a tiny new soul in my Mommy’s tummy, and how He cares for the baby each day.
And that my big brothers and big sisters will hold the baby soon--and with them it will stay.

So rejoice my sweet brothers and sisters! 
Dance around like crazy! 
Shout for joy as loud as you can! 
He is giving your world a life to show His love
and to glorify His name again!

Gabriel said you guys would teach her all the big sister stuff since I am here, and God says you are the best ones for the task. 
The Holy Spirit will help too until we play hide-n-seek in Heaven and are together at last.

I am the big sister in Heaven—O, I am dancing and spinning round and round holding Gabriel’s hand.
Jesus wants me to tell Daddy and Mommy that like God’s love for them, His children’s praises will outnumber the stars and all the beaches’ grains of sand.

I am something new—the big sister now!
Tell of Gabriel’s message and tell of God’s sovereignty! 
Proclaim He is good in all things!
I am so grateful that God gave this gift to us!
From your lips may God’s heart for children ring!

So rejoice my sweet brothers and sisters! 
Dance around like crazy! 
Shout for joy as loud as you can! 
He is giving your world a life to show His love
and to glorify His name again!

I love you so much my big brothers and sisters,
Anastasha—the new BIG sister!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Grandma's Poem

Craig's mom wrote this sweet little poem that she sent on a Valentine's Day card to Anastasha:

Sweet Lil Lady of heavenly birth.
Your short life on earth (though too brief),
Is of infinite worth.

Kathleen DeLisi

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sorrow Is Better Than Laughter

Ecclesiates 7 states:

"A good name is better than fine perfume,
and the day of death better than the day birth.
 It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of every man;
the living should take this to heart.
 Sorrow is better than laughter,
because a sad face is good for the heart.
 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
 It is better to heed a wise man's rebuke
than to listen to the songs of fools.
 Like the crackling of thorns under the pot,
so is the laughter of fools."

This verse penned by the wisest king in history, King Solomon, certainly flies in the face of the wisdom of our age.  For us, our happiness is often the highest virtue. We seek pleasure, fun, toys, "stuff".

But it appears the Lord sees things differently.  It seems He is more concerned with our humility and obedience more than our pride and happiness.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Trusting in Hard Times

Like anyone who is honest with themself, I have numerous opportunities daily to trust God.  Whether it is an encounter with a difficult patient or safety in travel, for as long as I can remember I have believed that "God is in control".  Being a parent allows for so many "extra" opportunities to trust Him.  Tonya and I have to trust the faithfulness of God's Holy Spirit to draw our children's heart toward Him.  We trust that in season we will see good fruit in their hearts and lives from our consistent discipline.  And, as the parents of 5 young boys, we have to trust (seems like daily) that they will literally survive another day. (I'm remembering as I type this that just TONIGHT, Cale (3) was going down our large wooden staircase riding...a sit-n-spin wrapped in a blanket...sheesh!).

As I've thought more about trust lately, I realize that it has never been particularly hard for me to trust God the Father.  I presume this is mainly because I've always known that He is Good and Loving.  But, if I'm honest, I must admit that the large majority of the time I am "trusting" Him for things when life is really going well...smoothly, if you will.  It isn't hard to trust Him when I don't have any real financial "needs" per se.  Or when all my kids are well.  Or when I drive a car that runs smoothly and the house is in good repair.  Or when I have a great job.  In fact, I'm really not sure how much I am trusting Him most of the time and how much I am running on "autopilot".

But what about when that is not the case?  As 21st century Americans, my family and I are beyond blessed.  We don't even know the meaning of the word "need"...we really don't.  But what about when our children are really, really sick (like when Ariana had leukemia)?  Or what about when they are given a terminal diagnosis and then die (like Anastasha)?  What does trust look like then?

Well, I realized the other day that trusting God, truly trusting Him, in hard times is....well, hard.  Really hard, in fact.  Suddenly I wonder if His goodness is really that good.  Or if His promises are true.  It is painful, almost physically, to really wrestle to that place of trust when life is hard.  To totally surrender to Him.  To really believe that "God is good" as we've proclaimed so many times.  But you know what?  He really IS still trustworthy and good. 

Even during the difficult times. 

Especially during the difficult times.

And whether or not we can trust Him during those times, I believe, is a test of what we TRULY BELIEVE.  But I can also say from experience that it is during the most difficult times that our trust in the Father is the most rewarding and satisfying.  Knowing that the One Who made the heavens and the earth is the same loving God who knows and controls every little detail of our life is simply awesome.  He is a trustworthy and good Daddy.