Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Little Off

It's Sunday night and our small group just left our house. We have been so blessed by this new group of friends. Their friendship has been so meaningful to us, especially in the last few weeks. Most of all, they have been a picture of God's grace on us as a young couple.

Several weeks ago, we were back in GR sending off another family to the other side of the world. In addition to wishing them safe travel in their new adventure, we visited most of our favorite GR spots, including Jen's former church, KCC. It's no secret that Jen has missed her old gathering spot, but this time, the longing was a little more intense. As we talked about it, we realized that as much as we have enjoyed being part of our house church in Canton, we longed to be part of a larger community. Being at KCC that weekend crystallized our desire. We had been visiting a church in Canton, but after a time adjustment with our house church, it had become more difficult to attend regularly. We realized that we felt something was missing if our weekend didn't include a Rivertree service.

When you attend a large church, it can be fairly easy to slip out and away. When you attend a small house church, the decision to worship elsewhere is more difficult. It's hard to articulate a sense of being called away because it feels like a personal rejection of those we love. We began to pray in earnest that God would give us clear direction that our desire to make Rivertree our church home was God's leading.

God answered loud and clearly. One weekend, our house church participated along with Rivertree in a project called iServe. Rivertree closed the church doors one Sunday and instead organized work projects throughout the city. Rather than talking about serving the community, we served.

Our group met at a local park with some others from the church. We weeded. We planted flowers. We mulched. We picked up trash. And we painted a swingset. Niels and I were especially excited about the event because our biggest apprehension about joining Rivertree is that we didn't know anyone there yet. In fact, the house church was everyone Jen knew in Canton! We prayed that if God wanted us at Rivertree He would show us by provided us with some new friends that Sunday.

As soon as we got there, we were asked to fill out some paperwork. Jen made a comment that she didn't know Niels' cell phone number because it's saved in her cell phone as "Sweetie." A young couple nearby heard us and laughed with us. They introduced themselves and we ended up working together most of the morning. Before they left, they told us about their small group (Thrive groups, in this case). We promised to check them out the next night.

The next night we visited the group and met some others. We felt immediately welcomed and at ease. Niels really hit it off with the tech guy from the church, which answered a prayer we've had for him to find his place to serve. This same guy casually mentioned, without knowing anything of my background, that the church library/bookstore was looking for someone "very, very part time." Niels and I looked at each other and smile. We were home.

Since that night, Niels and I have spent many nights with our new friends, watching movies, worshipping, and serving together. Niels is now the master of lights on the tech team. Jen is now EMPLOYED at the bookstore. Two of the women have been especially good friends in the last two weeks, going to the doctor with Jen and checking in on her, especially in the first few days after the miscarriage.

Because the group is very tech oriented, they made a video of themselves. They showed it to us that first night. Jen's previous small group, in GR, had a tongue-in-cheek name, The Zeros. This group is a little off. They are. we are. We're home.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What Makes a Mother

Last night I was looking at a site for others who have experienced miscarriage and found this poem. Niels and I are doing pretty well emotionally, but this had us both in tears:


Written by Jennifer Wasik
In memory of Zachery Wasik.

I thought of you and closed my eyes
And prayed to God today
I asked "What makes a Mother?"
And I know I heard Him say.

"A Mother has a baby"
This we know is true
"But God, can you be a Mother,
When your baby's not with you?"

"Yes, you can," He replied
With confidence in His voice
"I give many women babies,
When they leave is not their choice.

Some I send for a lifetime,
And others for the day.
And some I send to feel your womb,
But there's no need to stay."

"I just don't understand this God
I want my baby to be here."
He took a deep breath and cleared His throat,
And then I saw the tear.

"I wish I could show you,
What your child is doing today.
If you could see your child's smile,
With all the other children and say...

'We go to Earth to learn our lessons,
Of love and life and fear.
My Mommy loved me oh so much,
I got to come straight here.

I feel so lucky to have a Mom,
Who had so much love for me.
I learned my lessons very quickly,
My Mommy set me free.

I miss my Mommy oh so much,
But I visit her every day.
When she goes to sleep,
On her pillow's where I lay

I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek,
And whisper in her ear.
Mommy don't be sad today,
I'm your baby and I'm here.'

"So you see my dear sweet ones,
your children are okay.
Your babies are born here in My home,
And this is where they'll stay.

They'll wait for you with Me,
Until your lesson's through.
And on the day that you come home
they'll be at the gates for you.

So now you see what makes a Mother,
It's the feeling in your heart
it's the love you had so much of
Right from the very start

Though some on earth may not realize,
you are a Mother.
Until their time is done.
They'll be up here with Me one day
and know that you are the best one!"

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Love and Loss

Niels and I are approaching our three month anniversary! We love being married and are so happy that God has brought us together, though it would have been nice if He would have done it about a decade earlier! We've become homebodies, with hardly any of the travel that defined our courtship days.

We view our first year of marriage as sacred as we are learning what it means to be one and develop our own family rituals and traditions. One of our favorite rituals happens at bedtime. Niels' dad gave Jen a Dutch children's Bible, mijn eerst bibel. Each night we've read a chapter in the Bible, allow Jen her daily Dutch lesson, as well as ending the day with God's word. Then Niels gives Jen a top 5 list of things he appreciates about her. (Jen's friends will recognize this exercise as she has often asked them to list a few things they appreciate about their spouses). And then we pray together and share our day. Last week, we finished the children's Bible and started the "real" Dutch Bible. With Niels' parents coming in December for their first American Christmas, I'm hoping to be able to carry on a more significant Dutch conversation than "hello" and "good night!"

This past week, we've also faced our most difficult challenge as a married couple. Before we had a chance to formally announce our pregnancy, Jen miscarried on Monday, the 15th. It's been a painful week, both physically and emotionally, with some additional complications that are still being addressed. We were looking forward to our June baby, but we trust that God is taking good care of baby DJ for us.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Goodbye Tabby

Yesterday we received the very sad news that Tabby, the much , four footed best friend of Jen's nephew, CJ, was put down. He was 13. My brother, Chris, had Tabby, a chocolate lab, when he met his wife, Kelly. Kelly had a chocolate Cocker Spaniel, Tyler. My first memories of Kelly revolve around the love she had for those dogs. She would make them little outfits for each holiday (and even some just for fun). She taught them the greatest tricks. Never mind the basic shake, roll over, and army crawl. They had a little treat apparatus that they could manipulate--on command--to get their own treats. They were so well behaved.

When Chris and Kelly's miracle son was born, Tabby and Tyler greeted this newcomer lovingly and graciously took a backseat in the family pecking order. Soon they because his best friends, patiently let him pull on their tails and cuddle with them for nap time.

Niels had a chance to meet both Tabby and Tyler this spring when we were in Minnesota for our wedding shower. As soon as we walked in the door, CJ pulled us by the hand to introduce us to his friend. "Ta da! This is Tabby and this is Tyler," he said proudly in his best cowpoke drawl. Niels knows he married into a family where pets are family, not just dogs or cats, and he has adjusted well, with his new second best friend, Bailey.

In honor of Tabby's passing, Bailey and I had a special day. I took her on a car ride to run my errands. She got extra treats and extra tummy rubs, and we took a nice long nap together. I know that if Bailey was in Minnesota, she would give Chris, Kelly and CJ a big kiss to try to cheer them up. Tabby will be missed.