Friday, February 29, 2008

Peter's Roller Coaster

Apparently, I am not the only Christian who has been taken on a roller coaster ride! I was thinking today about how much Peter must have felt discouraged after the crucifixion. Here he was, picking up his nets and going back to fishing. Three years of miracles, teaching, learning, being encouraged and being rebuked - he had to believe it was leading to someplace wonderful. But instead, after all the pain and sorrow of the Passover night he was back where he started - catching fish.

But that is where the resurrected Jesus came to meet him, preparing for the disciples a skillet of fresh fish! (See John 21)

Roller Coaster seasons of life can be so discouraging - finding ourselves right back where we started with nothing to show for the adventure. But how encouraging to know that Jesus is waiting there, right where we started, to meet us and encourage us. It may look as if nothing has changed, but for Peter, his heart had changed. Jesus used Peter's roller coaster to prepare him. There on the beach, sharing some fish, right back where they started is where Jesus gave Peter the great assignment - "Feed My Sheep". It was because of all Peter learned on the roller coaster that he was prepared to care for the fledgling church.

Lord thank You that the seemingly pointless seasons of life, seasons that only take us right back where we started, are never pointless for You!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Roller Coasters

About one year ago, I strapped in for a ride - the ride of pregnancy with all its twists and tummy churning dives. I assumed that the ride stopped at a new destination - the land of 3. Isn't this how rides in this life are supposed to work - you climb on board for the adventure that takes you to the next season and destination of life. But my ride wasn't a train leading to a destination. My ride was a roller coaster which landed me right back where I started.

I am addicted to change, I love change, I love growing. I go crazy if I don't feel like I am moving forward in life. I thought that this last year was going to be full of change. I expected today to be caring for 3 kids and living in South Carolina. Instead I still have only 2 and am still in Abilene, and I am still staring at the same kitchen wall that I still haven't finished painting. It looks like my year got me nowhere!

But there is much more to growth and change than just moving forward. Yes the roller coaster brings us back to where we started, but we are not the same. Our hair is mess and our faces show the joy, thrill, and fear of the ride.

In those moments when I feel like I haven't moved at all, when nothing has changed, I need to look at who I am, not what or where I am. I am definitely a different person this side of the ride.

Lord thank You that when I feel like I am just spinning circles in the sky, You are still growing and perfecting me! I am so glad that not a day is lost with You! No matter how routine or mundane, every day is opportunity to move forward with You.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Strength to Strength

Ummm... I guess God wasn't done with my fingers yet! Yesterday I was convinced that he was moving me toward a different endeavor, and while I do feel that he is directing most of my energies for a new thing, it doesn't mean that He doesn't still want me, on occasion to continue to share the hopes He shares with me.

Happy are the people whose strength is in You, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca [depth of tears], they make it a source of springwater; even the autumn rain will cover it with blessings. They go from strength to strength; each appears before God in Zion [heaven]. Psalm 84:5-7

I finished my Beth Moore bible study today (Stepping Up) and she ended with this verse. I have come to love this verse in the past few months because it is my proof that I am not insane! From the moment that I lost my daughter, I have felt a strength and a joy that at first I thought must be due to shock or dilusion. But here it is, penned centuries before, proof that those who trust in the Lord will have strength and will walk from strength to strength on their pilgrimage to Zion.

Being visual, I picture a video game... here I am, Ms. SuperMario Sister, hopping from toadstool to toadstool above a merky pit of goo. I am going from strength to strength! And to add faith to the picture, sometimes I have to hop to the next toadstool before I can even see it. But God is faithful and continues to provide toadstools - rocks of salvation - to keep me above the death of this life.

One thing Beth Moore emphasized in her teaching today is hugely relevant as I write - we are only give the strength and grace necessary to live life one day at a time. That is why we go from strength to strength - from day to day. Many of my friends have expressed that they could never handle the things I have been given to handle in my life, but I can only handle what I have been given because God has provided an appropriate amount of grace for each trial I endure. Do not be afraid of what the Lord may have ordained for your life! God will always supply the strength and grace for each new task, we just simply have to choose to receive it and use it!

Lord thank You that You apportion to us for each day exactly what we need to be strong and victorious in You. Thank You Lord that You do not leave us to flounder in the midst of our suffering. Thank You that with each day You provide a firm place for us to plant our feet on the broken and twisting road of our pilgrimage. Lord I pray that today, for those who are enduring sufferings they could never imagine, I pray that You and Your strength would be abundant and real. Thank You Lord that You came to Earth as a simple human, weak like us, in need of strength like us. Jesus, you lived day to day, strength to strength on the bread of the Word and on the fellowship of prayer with the Father. Help me today to live like You - depending only on the strength of God.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Thank You

I want to say thank you to those who have been reading my thoughts over the past 2 months. I am so thankful that God provided me words for my often seemingly inexpressible thoughts and emotions. I have enjoyed writing and allowing God to work in me and through me as I write.

I believe that the season of this blog is coming to a close. I hope that God allows me the opportunity to write again someday. I will continue to keep this blog online - my prayer is that in months and years to come, others who are grieving may find the hope of Christ here.

O Lord, Father in Heaven, I thank you so much for giving my fingers a place to pour out what my lips couldn't always find ways to speak. Lord I pray for the multitudes who have experienced the loss of a child - O Lord I pray that You would become so real to them - that they may hear Your voice in the silent absence of their child's cries. May they see You and come to know You. May they know the goodness of Your ways and the gentleness of Your voice. Lord surround them with Your loving, comforting presence just as You have surrounded me and all others who suffer grief in this fallen world. I love You Lord, thank You for being Lord of my life and for helping me find life in the midst of death.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Holding What I Have Not Seen

From my marriage, I have learned a lot about God's love for His people. From military deployments and waiting for my husband to come home, I have learned a lot about waiting for Christ's return someday. From Lia, I have learned about Jesus.

For years I have struggled deeply with wrapping my head around the concept of Jesus - fully man and fully God, walking around here on earth. I often wished I was one of the disciples, thinking that somehow being in the daily presence of Jesus would help me believe. I have struggled with this one thought - How do I believe in, talk to, hold to someone I have never seen?

My love for Lia is helping me learn how to love and hold to Jesus. I have never seen Lia's smile or the light in her eyes. I have never heard her voice, her tears, or her laughter. But I know them. I know as any mother would. I hear and see in my heart and in my spirit what my flesh has never and will never know. And my love for her grows each day.

Because of Lia, I feel I am coming to know Jesus better too. Just as it is enough for my heart alone to know Lia, it is enough for my heart alone to know Jesus. I don't need to see Jesus and hear Jesus to love Him because I can come to love Him as I have come to love Lia - with my heart. Yes, my eyes wish they could see them both here on this earth, but with faith the eyes of my heart see clearly.

When I think of Lia, when I see her with my heart - my joy is overflowing. Oh Lord, let me see you with such clarity. I long to see and know you as intimately as I know my own sweet Lia.

I Peter 1:8
and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sharing a Day of Sunshine

My thoughts while listening to one of Lia's Songs (from my pregnancy CD).....

Sunshine -- John Denver

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high

If I had a day that I could give you
Id give to you a day just like today
If I had a song that I could sing for you
Id sing a song to make you feel this way

If I had a tale that I could tell you
Id tell a tale sure to make you smile
If I had a wish that I could wish for you
Id make a wish for sunshine all the while

There are many days I wish I could share with Lia, today being one of them. It is simply beautiful here today, bright sunshine and all. I think of the songs I would teach her, the stories I would tell her, the games we would play. But if I did have just one day with her, I am sure I would wish for a thousand more.

Lord, thank You that Lia is with You, hearing the songs of Your angels and the stories of Your glory. Lord You know that there are days when my heart aches in missing her. But I thank You Lord that the brightest day of sunshine here on earth is only a shadow of the light of heaven! And I thank You Lord that Lia will know your Sonshine all the while.

Why I Needed a Mentee

I wrote the following testimony for our women's ministry newletter this month

In a mentoring relationship, we often think of the Mentee as the one in need...the one needing a listening ear, the one needing wise counsel, the one needing a prayer warrior. But in this unique season of life, I, the Mentor, was the one in need.

It was clear in October why Katie and I were matched for a mentoring relationship - both with cute little round pregnant bellies (although hers a bit cuter than mine since it was her first). Our ambition was to explore biblical motherhood together as we brought our new babies into the world. But on November 23rd, our relationship took and unexpected turn with a silent ultrasound. My 3rd daughter, Lia, had gone home to be with the Lord. Given the difficult situation, me with no baby and Katie due in just one month, I could have surrendered my responsibilities as her mentor. But I signed a covenant - and as I had just learned in my Covenant bible study (Kay Arthur), we are empowered by God to keep our covenants! I was committed to continuing the relationship through God's strength.

Having Katie in my life has been a tremendous source of healing - from visiting her in the hospital to finally holding her precious son in my arms. Mentoring is often though of as one-sided: you pouring your life into another. But I am so thankful to the Lord for the way He has poured blessings into me. I needed Kaite as my mentee so that in a time of intense grief I could praise the Lord for the miracle of life! My heart was ready to welcome and love my own daughter - and though my daughter has gone home to heaven, God has not left me empty. In His abundant wisdom and goodness He brought Katie and her beautiful son into my life.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hold Me Jesus - miracles #3

For Lia's Memorial service, I designed the programs. It was one of my first ways of finding words for my emotions. I felt great about the layout (I tend to be a perfectionist with design work) but I just couldn't figure out what to do with the front page. I stayed up for hours trying different design ideas, but nothing seemed right. So I left it in the capable hands of our church secretary. I did not see the design until the day of the service, but it was perfect. On the front cover was a watermark pencil sketch of Jesus holding an infant.

Lia was buried in Mark's hometown, and over Christmas we went to her grave for the first time. The funeral home in Nebraska placed a temporary marker at her grave. It included her name, date, our names and....the same sketch of Jesus holding an infant. The funeral home secretary said that it just seemed like the right picture to include. Seeing that same picture gave me an amazing sense of peace. Both here in Texas during the memorial, and there in Nebraska at the grave God was reminding me that she is safe with Him.

I have a "pregnancy and labor" compilation CD full of great music to help me relax. I listened to it daily in the week leading up to what I expected to be a normal birth and I listened to it numerous times after Lia was gone. Included on the CD is one of my Rich Mullins favorites: Hold Me Jesus. Thank You Lord that You held Lia while I held her in my womb. Thank You for carrying her home to be with You.

Hold Me Jesus, Rich Mullins:

Well, sometimes my life
just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

So hold me Jesus,
'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

So hold me Jesus,
'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

So hold me Jesus,
'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Before a miracle was even needed, miracles #2

Friday November 16th was my last normal OB appointment. All was well, Lia's heart beating strong - but the Lord was already preparing a miracle to meet our need in her death. On Saturday the 17th, my friend Carolyn was at a wedding and visited with the photographer. They shared with her a ministry they are involved in - bereavement photography. They go to hospitals when infants are stillborn and take professional, beautiful, respectful photos of the infant.

On Friday November 23rd, Carolyn was sitting down at her computer, looking up information about the bereavement photo ministry when she received the email that Lia had died. God laid it on Carolyn's heart to arrange for a bereavement photographer to come to the hospital on Saturday. Carolyn attempted to contact the 2 members of that ministry living in our area, but neither were available.

Friday night, as I attempted to sleep in preparation for the morning induction, a thousand wishes raced through my mind. One was that I wanted to capture pictures of Lia, but I have never been pleased with my camera, and I didn't want to take 70 shots just to find a good one! I thought about how much I wanted my friend Steve, a professional photographer in our church, to take pictures for me. But I couldn't ask him. How could I possibly ask someone to do something so difficult? Though I couldn't ask him, God did....

Carolyn contacted Steve and told him about the bereavement photography. Steve was able to contact one of the experienced photographers who over the phone gave him some suggestions for how to best capture the pictures. I received a call just shortly after Lia was born that Steve and his wife were available to come and photograph our baby.

No one knew my prayer -- I hadn't even told Mark about my desire for Steve to come and take pictures. Only God knew. I am so thankful that God spoke to Carolyn and to Steve, prompting their hearts to serve.

While I cherish my photos of Lia, I am even more overcome that God began this miracle on a day when Lia was still healthy and strong. Yes, we all know and agree that God is in control of all things and knows all things - but sometimes, in our greatest moments of suffering, we need to see that it is true. God knew what was to come and set into motion a miracle before a miracle was even needed.

Lord Father in Heaven, thank You so much for loving us beyond time! Thank You Lord that from the beginning of time You have numbered our days and set forth the path of our steps. Oh Lord, when I see the goodness of Your hand, a hand not bound by the limits or diminsions of this earth, I am strengthened. My feet step surely on the Rock of my Salvation - a rock set before the beginning of all, a rock to climb upon above the crashing waves. My mind cannot contain or even begin to contemplate the enormity of You Lord! Thank You for the simple gift of beautiful photos of my daughter, and Praise You Lord for the miraculous way in which You provided them. You truly are a wonderful Daddy, giving good gifts to Your children.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lia's Feet - miracles #1

"There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world."

Lia is a dancer! I know that because she practiced nearly every fancy step on the inside of my tummy. At about week 34 I was daily in severe pain because her kicking was so intense. It was in the midst of a kickboxing session that I cried out to God to make her stop. He gently said to me, she's not kicking, she's dancing.

Oh how I longed to see those dancing feet of hers! I knew they were big, you could often see the outline of one pressed against my tummy. But when I finally saw them - oh how beautiful! Definitely the feet of a dancer, long, slender and elegant. As I held her little feet in my hands, I longed to hold them forever... I wished I had more than just a picture and an inked footprint, I wanted to place my hand against her toes and feel their shape. As I held her I silently whispered to God how badly I wanted to have an impression of her feet. Just a short while later came the answer to my prayer. A friend from church had a "first handprint" kit delivered to the hospital. The nurses took care of the whole thing for me and now forever more I have Lia's feet and hands to hold in mine. This is just one of several amazing and immediate answers to prayer that we had. I can almost see it clearly in my mind, our sweet Lord, waiting there in my room at my beckoning call, waiting for the next moment of need and then running out to make it happen. But the truth is even better than that - He knew my needs and desires before I even spoke them and was setting out to make my wishes come true, laying on the hearts of others things they could do to serve me. How can I ever be angry with a God so good?

At Lia's memorial service, we closed with the song Fields of Grace by Big Daddy Weave. Yeah, it may seem a little fast paced for a traditional funeral, but it best reflected the truth. As Christians - praise the Lord - we can celebrate, truly celebrate, when one of His children is taken home. Lia is in heaven today, with her beautiful elegant feet, dancing with the Lord in fields of grace!

Fields of Grace:
There's a place that I love to run and play
There's a place that I sing new songs of praise
Dancin' with my Father God in fields of grace
There's a place that I lose myself within

There's a place that I find myself again
Dancin' with my Father God in fields of grace
There's a place where religion finally dies

There's a place that I lose my selfish pride
Dancin’ with my Father God in fields of grace
I love my Father, my Father loves me

I dance for my Father, my Father sings over me
And nothing can take that away from me

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I need a nap

Return to your rest, O my soul,For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. Psalm 116:7

I have been working a little too hard lately - not on my kitchen, or on the den (the carpet will speak for that) - I have been working a little too hard lately in communicating with God. I keep looking for the walls to shake and the booming sound of His voice as He bellows forth wisdom and commands. Oh how I have loved these past months, pouring out my heart before God to a depth I have not known before - pouring out my agony, tears, screams, and cries. I have been speaking, He has been listening. And then there are days when I am overwhelmed with His voice, as he shows me things I have never even contemplated. He has been speaking and I have been listening.

But communication takes effort and sometimes I guess I work a little too hard at it. I stare at the blank page of my journal feeling I ought to write something. I dig through my bible reading feeling I ought to hear something. I fear the silence of not hearing God. I fear the silence of having nothing to say. But maybe, rather than fighting to find a conversation topic He simply wants me to climb into His lap and take a nap.

It's 12:58 here, 2 minutes to our daily quiet/nap time. I could read my bible, my devotional book, or my bible study. I could pour words onto the pages of my journal. But I think today I am going to curl up with my mommy blanket in my mommy chair and simply take a nap. As a friend told me today - take a rest Anissa, you deserve it.

Lord, help me not be afraid of the silence. Help me know that the intimate moments of resting in You are just as vital as the deep moments of conversation and contemplation. Lord calm my mind from wrestling with questions You have choosen to not answer. Lord help me to rest.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Unveiled Joy

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

When Moses went up the mountain to receive the law, the people saw the shroud of cloud and fire - a horrible and frightening sight. But inside the storm, Moses saw God. The same is true for us.

I have a friend who has been diagnosed with arthritis. She is an amazing woman of God and does so much to further His kingdom. Seeing someone so willing to live their life for the Lord suffering and in pain just makes me angry. It makes me question God, question His wisdom for allowing it in her life, question His goodness and protection for those He loves. I see the storm from the outside. But inside the storm, she sees God.

When Lia left our lives, many of my friends expressed shock, anger, and fear at the storm that had decended upon us. But inside the storm, like the eye of a hurricane, we had peace and we saw God. Just like Moses, our faces were shining with joy from experiencing the Lord's presence. It is a great temptation to veil your face, believing that such joy is inappropriate for grief so deep. But the depth of the grief - the intensity of the storm - only intensifies the beauty and glory at the center of it. We must not veil our joy! For the sake of our friends watching from outside, filled with so many questions, begging to know that God is still at the center of it all, we must not veil our joy. When we come forth from our suffering shining with the light of God, it is then that our suffering not only strengthens us but also all who see us!

Watching my friend suffer now is heartwrenching. I cry out to the Lord, begging Him to take her pain away. But on Sunday, she showed me her shining face as she shared the joys of the Lord they are experiencing in the midst of suffering. I needed to see that. I needed to know that God was still at the center!

Lord, God of our storms, thank You that You truly are the center of all things, even our suffering. Thank You Lord that in our suffering we can come to know You because You surround us with an increased measure of Your presence. Thank You Lord that through our suffering we can bring joy and hope to others by sharing with them the shining light of unveiled faces! Lord do not let us be deceived by a culture telling us how we ought to conduct ourselves in grief and in suffering. Let us leap for joy, let us dance in Your presence. For in the center of the storm the songs of heaven drown out the thunder! Thank You Lord today for my friend, for her tender heart, for her willingness to credit You for her strength. Thank You for the testimony of her shining face! Thank You Lord for once again proving Yourself faithful and being the Center of her storm.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Choosing Life

I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life... Deut 30:19

I am surrounded! Babies, babies everywhere! I can't think of a window of time when more friends had babies! Since the end of October, five close friends have had their first babies - my maid of honor, a bridesmaid, a groomsman, an usher, and my current mentee! Whew! Oh, and another friend from church - 6 little babies in just 3 months.

Though in my grief it can be challenging to see and hold little ones, I am so thankful for them! It reminds me that life is a miracle. In this fallen world, death is the norm - it grieves us terribly but that is the end of all things. To see life, to see a little one enter into the fallen and twisted world healthy and thriving lifts my eyes upward to the joy and hope of heaven where all things will be as they should and death will forever lose its grip.

God sets before us choices of life and death each day. One way for me to choose life is to embrace with joy the little babes I see. Because I view babies as life and hope, to hold them does not bring me sorrow. Instead, the moment I touch them, a warm soothing presence comes over me, holding me and healing me. Because I choose life, God grants me life!

Lord thank You for Emily, RG, Andrew, Tyler, Samuel, and Duke! Thank You Lord for allowing me to be overwhelmed and surrounded by life! Thank You Lord for reminding me that You are still in the business of making little miracles that coo and cry. May their tiny voices learn to sing Your praises. May each of their parents turn to You and seek Your face and Your ways. May each of these children bring the life and light of Your Good News to a lost and dying world. Thank You Lord for the miracle of life!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Before and After

We all have markers in our lives - days so pivotal they become our means of recording time. One we all share is September 11th. Almost everything in American life in this generation can be defined as being before or after that date - for many people, 9-11 has become a defining element.

September 11th was a significant turning point in our family. As I sat beside Mark that evening in our suburban Denver home, the Lord made it clear to me that soon Mark would be going into the Air Force. Ten months later we sold our home, left our well paying Denver jobs and entered the military world. In our marriage, we have "before Air Force" life and "Air Force" life. But the date that defines it for me is Sept 11.

Now we have a new date in our life - November 23rd. Prior to that date, we were a typical family - 2 girls with another on the way. And despite the hardships of military life, we felt that life was relatively smooth and normal. We were in the baby stage of life - late sleepless nights and cold dinners were expected and we anticipated another 2 years of them. But with a silent ultrasound on November 23rd, everything changed. Plans made prior to November 23rd, plans that included 3 girls, plans that made room for a little baby, were now all void and even seemed foolish to have ever been made. It is as if I have walked through a one way door that slammed shut behind me, into a dark strange room filled with puzzles and mysteries. Every hope and expectation I had is locked away on the other side, now forever out of reach, behind a door labeled: Before.

In the first 2 months following Sept 11, everything seemed out of sorts and surreal. We lived near Denver International Airport and were used to plans flying low over our house on approach. But no plans flew overhead except for the occasional fighter jet high in the sky on patrol. Policies and plans were pouring out of DC to make sense of the new era, and the news each day was constantly filled with updates on the fledging war in Afghanistan. Even my work felt different - going to work each day as a teacher and dealing with the petty complaints on teenagers seemed so futile.

The time since November 23rd can also be described as surreal. Nothing is as it was supposed to be and each day is full of choices, sounds, activities that would not have been before. Each day is now filled with discussions of how to make sense of this new place we find ourselves - questions we never planned to discuss so soon...what do we do with the extra bedroom, will Mark start grad school this spring, do we want to have more kids. Stranded in the middle of this strange new room I am often overwhelmed by all the new decisions to be made. But even more overwhelming is a sense of futility knowing that this room, this new place, this season of life only exists because we walked through the one way door of tragedy.

It has been 7 years since Sept 11. The first year of "after" was the toughest. We suffered broken relationships with those who did not agree that Mark should enter the service. We suffered lost friendships in leaving behind our church and life in Denver. We struggled with many decisions that seemed to take too long to come to fruition. But once we got our bearing and began to move forward, I fully embraced our new life. I have loved Air Force life and would not wish to be anywhere else - but my joy is sometimes tempered when I remember that this new life exists because of the tragedy of 9-11.

It has only been 2 months since November 23rd and I am still waiting to get my bearings in this new season of "after". I wonder when I will feel like I have a grip on this new life. I wonder when I will stop being bothered or amazed when I find myself in a place I didn't expect to be. I wonder when I will stop banging and kicking on the door of "before" in attempt to open it and run back to what I knew. I wonder when I will embrace this season and say okay.

Oh Lord, you are above all things, even time, yet You grant us the time to heal and be restored. Lord You know that I am fighting this place in which You have set me. You know the silent anger with which I beat against the door trying to return to before. But Lord Jesus, You are the creator of all things - even seasons of time. This place, this season of life, was created by You. Lord it is dark and frightening and confusing here - nothing is as it ought to be. So Lord, shine Your light into this darkness. Show me around, guide me. Show me the wonderful things you have created for me in this place. Show me what makes this room unique and special. Lord, cause me to love this place as I have come to love the other unexpected seasons of life. Lord I do not want to spend this season with my eyes shut tight cowering in the corner and waiting for it to pass. Show me the beauty of this place - a unique beauty found nowhere else.