Up and Down

Last Monday we found out we are having a baby girl in December. Blew me off my feet, I don’t know why I did not expect this at all. We are completely thrilled and a little nervous about the new challenges a little girl will bring to the table. I can’t wait to see Malachi be a big brother and see little baby girl Adriana try to put bows in his hair.

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A few days later we received news of this terrible accident where a friend from my home church and her husband and unborn baby girl were killed in a bus accident, leaving their precious baby boy (almost 2) behind. Courtney was 4 years younger than me and so we were never super close friends but she still deeply affected me with her contagious and constant joy. We worked together in Spanish church for a short time and then she jumped in whole-heartedly to take on the task of completely coordinating all of my wedding music and being our pianist, while getting together to practice with the other instrumentalists and vocalists. I am also just now remembering that she played the piano for a song Nate and I recorded together to play on the big day, which meant coming with us to the studio and playing it over and over until it was right (not on her end, she had no trouble), never checking the time or giving any complaints. We were so greatly thankful for her. Then two years later it was her turn and she was calling me for pictures! I got to travel back down from Chicago to shoot their beautiful wedding. Here’s a few of my favorite shots from that day, but check out my blog post here for some other fun ones. ImageImagePhelps-388

Three years later, this past Saturday, God called them home. The questions are many. Reading other people’s blogs and facebook posts, seeing how many people (and especially significant, how many sweet children) they touched and are visibly feeling pain brings sadness. To see their parents and family members grieve but so very clearly rejoice that God’s promises are true and that they got to experience heaven together and meet their baby girl at the same time is overwhelming. Questions about why God gives good things and then takes them away come to mind, about how heaven could really be wonderful when you know you’ve left your sweet boy behind.. but immediately I was reminded that looking into the face of Jesus and sitting at his feet and letting him answer all your questions and worshiping him while actually being able to SEE him, all that must throw any fear and doubt and misunderstanding and confusion out the window. They are not worried about their little boy, they have faith that has been made sight, they KNOW who is in control, in a way the rest of us never will until it’s our turn. And we take comfort that the same Jesus who is now comforting them has given us so many words of hope in his word to let us know that we have been taken care of, that he has provided for us, and that his way is perfect even when we don’t understand. This morning I woke up at 4:45am so I could tune into the live webcast of the funeral from 6 time zones away. How do you take a tragedy and make it beautiful? We don’t, but Jesus does. Over and over his promises brought comfort and his name was lifted up. Then to hear that literally people from all over the world in several different continents had heard their story and trusted Jesus, just puts me in awe of how much good God can do with a few people, and he does it in ways we don’t understand so many times. It really is “sweet” to trust in Jesus.

After the “ups” of finding out about sweet baby Adriana (Audrey for short), and then the immediate “down” of losing a friend, we found out a couple days later that God’s plans for our next step with the Army were not the same as ours. We hoped to stay on an additional year here in Hawaii, but it’s been decided that we will be moving on with the rest of the class around June of this upcoming year. It was not something we had completely set our hearts on; I had decided I was happy either way, Nate was mostly looking forward to the position and not getting it just meant we really had to come up with a plan for the next step fast (and up until this point nothing seemed to fit). We were also disappointed to leave our church behind, with several other people moving and Nate having a better schedule with the new position we hoped to be able to jump in even more. But when we got the news it was a relief to have an answer and move forward, we were both completely settled with the decision and happy to move on, convinced that God had something better in mind. I am so thankful he didn’t make us wait long. I won’t go into details here in case things don’t work out but yesterday we learned about an opportunity that seems completely tailor-made to fit Nate, covering basically all the areas he has talked about for his future as a doctor, and it looks promising that it may work out. We won’t know for several more months but to have something exciting to push towards has given us a huge relief. (Side note, we are really excited for the upcoming chief and his wife who will be filling that position/staying on an extra year, you very much deserve it and we think you will make a great chief, Brian!)

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And the ups and downs continued, finishing off with a perfect 5-year anniversary celebration with my awesome husband, followed by a 5am funeral this morning, then a fun 4-year-old birthday party (complete with pool, ice cream cake, pizza and keiki dancing). We kicked off our anniversary with furniture shopping and a dresser purchase (finally!). It’s made of pure mango wood and is currently riding across the Pacific Ocean on their next shipment. A pretty beast:

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Followed by a Skype date with the lovely birthday girl, Grace Copeland, who turned 14 yesterday! (still in shock that she will be a freshman this year! Thankful for the beautiful girl God gave to be Nate’s little sister).

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Then we were able to have a date night at a restaurant on the water in Waikiki and some dessert elsewhere, while little man was with some of his other favorite people (thanks, Joel and Lela!). Thankful for God’s blessings to us, our lives have changed dramatically since we got married (three moves, two states, two children, two church families that have really been family to us, medical school, 2/3 residency, and now making plans to move again). Thankful that my husband still puts up with me and still makes me laugh!

I feel like we are at the end of two very emotional weeks, good and bad. I hope it’s the end and things settle for a bit, but I guess that’s what I’ve learned from this, is that God’s ways are bigger than mine and it’s really okay to completely trust him.. in fact it’s awesome to do so. He’s kept up his promises from the beginning of time, even though we don’t keep ours. We have so many good friends that we love who disagree with us on that point, usually because of circumstances that don’t make sense or a world that seems messed up or people letting them down or just a different idea of what God means when he says things happen a certain way. It’s okay to disagree but I will say it’s so much easier to just rest in him than to try to be the mastermind behind his ways.

I didn’t write this to be shared or really even read, I just wrote for my own clarity of thought and decided posting it would help me say it more clearly. There’s a lot more to be said on the hard stuff, I’ve thought about writing it out many times before. I’d love to hear feedback if you have any, and I’m happy if no one reads this at all. I guess I just wanted to thank God for being good all the time, and this felt like a good way to do that.

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