Wednesday, February 25, 2015

This is NOT a Disney World...

We just got back from Disney World. Every child's dream vacation. We went to The Magic Kingdom multiple days, met every princess in the book (and movie!), and rode Splash Mountain at least five times. Our eight-year-old daughter has been dreaming about this trip for months, and she was a dynamo, racing for rides and chances to meet princesses. We also went to Epcot, Sea World, and Gatorland. Whew! A lot of fun in one week!

Against the gorgeous backdrop of Disney, I got a phone call from my son. He told me that his two-year-old daughter (who doesn't live with him) had somehow gotten out of the house the night before into the bitter Wisconsin winter. She had been airlifted to Mayo in Rochester and attempts were being made to revive her.

As the perfect princesses visited and the groundskeepers maintained the spotless grounds... As we waited in line for highly-anticipated rides, and the never-ending panorama of sweets and delights paraded by...

We waited to hear whether our granddaughter, who is also the half-sister of our daughter, Kat, was showing any positive signs. We waited to hear if the CT scan showed any brain activity. We waited to hear if her life-support was going to be removed. We waited to hear that she had passed into the loving arms of Jesus.

Of course our hearts were breaking. Our son's heart was breaking. Raelyn's mommy's and her fiance's hearts were breaking.

And yet, we were at Disney! We were on the dream vacation of our eight-year-old! We were 1500 miles away from the hospital... and we had driven...

So we experienced Disney's Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Gatorland, and Sea World, under the storm cloud of a distant tragedy. We caught ourselves crying over silly things, like hearing a toddler crying or eating something that Rae would love.

 Once, both our daughter and I started weeping while in line for a muffin. A man behind offered assistance, and our wee one blurted out, "My baby sister died yesterday." Instead of being shocked, he knelt down beside her and said, "When I was seven, my big brother died. It really hurts, doesn't it? You will always remember your baby sister, and you will always love her. But she would want you to have fun, too. So you have fun, and when the sad comes, you remember how much you love her." Smart man, and kind, too.

Another time, I couldn't find a restaurant we needed to find. I asked about 5 people, and they all gave me directions that I couldn't follow. I finally found a different restaurant and asked if they could provide the wrist bands we needed so we could eat at Sea World. When the man said, "Sure, but not until we open in an hour." I began to cry. I was just overwhelmed with sadness, helplessness, and frustration.

What a juxtaposition: Disney World and tragedy! The perfect princesses and blemishless beauty of Disney, and the cruel reality of hypothermia, organ donation, and cremation.

We would all love to live in a Disney World, where everything and everyone are clear-cut and perfect. The "bad guys" are always caught, and the problems always solved. Someone else picks up the litter and delivers our snacks.

But this is NOT a Disney World. It's a world where two-year-olds make terrible mistakes and pay with their lives. It's a world where each of us has tragedy, in one form or another.

                                                             But isn't it supposed to be a Disney World?

No. It's not. In the Bible, we are told repeatedly that we will have troubles in this world. Psalms 88:3 says, "For my life is full of troubles, and death draws near." 2 Corinthians 1:4 says, "He comforts us in all our troubles..." There are many more verses which refer to the difficulties we will undoubtedly have here on Earth.

We cannot live as though this world is supposed to be a Disney World. Instead, we seek God and His comfort in all the troubles of this world, in all the tragedies that find us here. We do not deny these tragedies, Jesus himself wept. I took comfort in that thought while I wept in the line surrounded by people having fun. Jesus himself knows our family's sorrow.

So let's live like it's God's world. Knowing that in a fallen world, there will be trouble... and tragedy. But also knowing, deep within us, that God is in control of it all, and that it will, in the end, come out right.

We who so desperately miss Raelyn already can take comfort in the fact that we know she is with God. She is in no pain, has no anxiety, and is in a place way better than DisneyWorld.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Ring, A Knock, A Cry

We never know when the phone will ring with tragic news, an invitation, or a desperate need. If you have ever lived in a parsonage, you know what I'm talking about.

There are days when I am unequal to the task of welcoming such phone calls, or at least their callers. Thankfully, I don't have to meet the needs; God does that. He strengthens us to overflowing with what is needed.

Here in Dulce, it is just as often a knock at the door that alerts us to a need. Sometimes, I am able to help the person with scheduling a party in the church's gym, providing some food and drink, or just an arm around and a prayer. Many times, the need is for the pastor, my husband, and I am thankful that God provides him with the patience, strength, and grace to meet these needs.

We are blessed, here "in the trenches" of God's work. Thank you to each of you who pray for the ministry here in the Jicarilla Apache Nation.