well get ready because that's about to change. :-)
i've wrestled greatly with how much of these past couple of months to share - or if i should even share them at all. here are some of the thoughts that have been swimming around in my head...
"allison, don't be TOO honest with everybody. people love hearing about the happy ending, but some folks are afraid of the painful and ugly path it took to get there."
"ooh, be careful sharing that part. don't want people to think you're weak in your faith."
"YIKES -- that's deep stuff! you'd better keep that to yourself so you don't worry anybody."
but the loudest voice echoed, "if you talk, somebody out there might question the lord's goodness and love."
so i kept quiet.
here's how it happened: judah died on august 13, 2010. you can scroll back through that month to read more about what all transpired during that time, but this is what occurred with me personally. i shared a bit in the early days about how painful that was, but i felt an overwhelming desire to turn the tragedy of judah's death into a launching pad for action. GOD was tremendously gracious in allowing us to connect with compassion international to set up sponsorships for a child survival program in the city in which judah passed away, and while i was wholeheartedly joyful in that...
i was wholeheartedly broken at the same time.
i couldn't shake the image of our five-pound son's face. i constantly pictured his big brown eyes staring right into mine from the surface of my favorite photo of him. i tried to escape the vision of his last breaths as he lay in the bed of a sub-standard hospital thousands of miles of red tape and poverty away. his chest rose, his chest fell. it rose, and it fell. it rose again. and then it stopped. and as i would try to drift off to sleep at night, i would be gripped by the thought of death's stiff hold on his lifeless body.
i talked a lot about following in the meaning of judah's name -- "to praise" -- and i tried to show a strong, faithful presence when i wrote and when i talked with friends and family, but the truth is that in many ways, i felt like i was crumbling inside. unfortunately (or, perhaps, sovereignly) judah's death came during a time of questioning for me -- a sort of crisis of faith, if you will. not a "do i believe what i think i believe?" sort of crisis but rather a period of really wrestling with the truth of GOD's character and his promises. i had been deeply burdened over a particular circumstance, and when GOD didn't show himself in that situation the way i had begged (and expected) him to do, i started searching for some answers.
i remember praying this: "LORD, help me to really understand your love, your sovereign power, and your character."
shortly after that, a nasty snowball of yuck began when the kids and i were in a car accident that totaled our van. a couple of days later, we got word that judah was critically ill in the hospital -- and then he was gone. there are several factors i can see that contributed, but it was ultimately my own choices that landed me in what is decidedly the darkest place in which i've ever dwelt. eventually, my decisions led me to put my comfort and peace -- my hope -- in things outside of the LORD.
no, i don't care to share beyond that at this point. josh and a trusted friend know the story; they've bathed me in scripture, truth, and prayer. one day i'll chat -- but today's not that day.
i tried to pray, but god was silent.
i tried to sing. god was silent.
and eventually, much like the learned behavior of babies in an overwhelmed orphanage, i got silent myself. i felt so distant from him that i couldn't even muster up the words to speak to GOD; and even if i had, i truly believed at that point that they would once again be met...with silence.
i just kept reading lamentations 3:31-32, 24: "for men are not cast off by the LORD forever. though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. i say to myself, 'the LORD is my portion; therefore i will wait for him.'" i didn't know what else to do -- but wait.
ok, now that you're probably thinking i've lost my mind, heart, confidence, faith -- or some combination thereof -- let me share with you the rest of the story...
little by little, i began to feel the LORD drawing me back to himself. at that point, i had truly reached the end of myself -- there was absolutely nothing left. as the epitome of a type-A, independent gal, my emptiness made me feel, well, empty. i wasn't used to not being able to fix things, not being able to find the answers...and i certainly wasn't used to putting on a mask of "okay-ness" so that nobody knew i was falling apart.
slowly and sovereignly, GOD began to do a couple of big things in my heart and life. he gently acknowledged what i was learning, that no, i couldn't do this on my own -- not life, not death, not anything. but just as huge as that was his intimate lesson in grace. it was already obvious...i had screwed this whole thing up. but he lovingly and graciously drew me in, forgave me, and began to make me whole again.
how have i been a believer for 21 years and i'm just now feeling like i'm even scratching the surface on the amazing grace of my GOD?
hmmm..."LORD, help me to really understand your love, your sovereign power, and your character."
october 12, 2010. 60 days almost to the minute of finding out that judah was gone. we received a call from our social worker telling us about a little guy in ethiopia who desperately needed a family. yes, yes, yes! send us his information! as we opened up the email, we learned of his birthday -- june 26, 2010. judah's birthday. is this baby a replacement for judah? absolutely not. what he is is a gift and a blessing from a GOD who sovereignly chose him for our family before any of us even had breath.
and his name? it's a little reflection of something that i've been learning a lot about lately...
micah. "who is like our god?"
my ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.