"He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm,
and carry them close to his heart, and shall gently lead those that are with young." Isaiah 40:11

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Questions about Prayer

Our trip to Manitoba went well. We were so glad that we could all go and spend time with Val and Ravi and Isaiah. Thank-you so much for praying, and for your expressed concern for them. They named their babies Thomas and Teagan. We looked at the memory boxes that the Hospital made for them. Tiny bunting bags that they used to dress the babies. One pink. One blue. Ribbons showing the length of each twin. Val went back to work on Monday. Ravi went back earlier. Of course, it is so difficult. Please do keep praying for them....  

Rachel would have been 22 months today. It's so hard to imagine her as that old!  Oh I wish I could see her toddling around and learning to talk and trying to keep up with her siblings. I find that I don't want to see pictures of her these days. It hurts to remember and it is easier to throw myself into projects and activities. I still feel cautious about spending alot of time with people yet, but that is slowly changing. 

Abigail though, has been crying in her bed more lately, because she misses Rachel. Sometimes she'll cry in the van driving to her Dance class...when she sees someone pushing a baby stroller.....or at bed-time...or while playing with something that reminds her of Rachel. She has been sleeping with her sheep that she got at the funeral. Sometimes I have found her cuddling it in the middle of the day. We have had alot more snuggling time as result. And I don't mind that:) It is so good for my heart to hug them and be their mommy. Ethan and Abigail are great at comforting each other too! I think that as result of our experience with Rachel, they are much more open and caring towards others who are hurting. (Ethan especially did a great job caring for his cousin Isaiah who also has a sister in heaven now, and a brother too. I can't remember his exact words but I thought he was pretty sweet...) I am glad for that....

With all those hours driving to Manitoba and back, I had lots of time to read.  (the kids are GREAT travellers now).  One book that I devoured is called "When God Doesn't Answer Your Prayers" by Jerry Sittser. I felt that I could identify with so many of the questions about prayer.  I have read other books about prayer but I think this is the first one that truly connected with me. Jerry Sittser's mom, wife and daughter died in a car accident (he was also in the vehicle, along with three more of his children) Because of this, his questions are intensely personal and honest.  He goes beyond the usual easy answers that I have heard before... 

Dave and I have been wrestling with a pretty big decision these past months. Or at least I am wrestling and Dave is a good listener! There have been days when I am pretty much focussed on just this one thing, and yes, as some of you noticed - this is bordering on the obsessive;) I am glad in the times when I am able to remember and know that it won't always seem this Big. But as result, I have spent more time praying for direction, for wisdom than I have in a long time...

....and in the waiting, I have begun wondering about prayer too. I wonder why God doesn't make Himself more real. Why is prayer so hard? Why should I pray at all, when it seems that God will just do as He wills anyway? How do I know that I am asking for right things? Or how long I should persist in praying the same thing? I asked God that Rachel would be born healthy. I asked Him to take away her suffering (and He did, although not in the way I would have chosen). I ask for a life partner for someone I care about, who is wondering if she will always be single. I have prayed some prayers for years with seemingly, no response. In Sittser's words, "What should we do and how should we respond when our prayers - prayers that seem right and true and good - go unanswered?" 

So, if you wonder these things too, I encourage you to read this book. ok, that's all for today. I wish I could write more sometimes but I can't seem to find time. oh, how do you mothers do it? Blog and care for your kids? How did I ever write as much as I once did, with Rachel? 

Here's a few quotes from the book:

"Prayer seems truer to me when it spits and mutters and cries."

 "I want life to be nice, safe and secure. But as C.S Lewis put it, God does not want to make life nice for us because he wants to make us new. That is his will. When we pray, we should keep that end in mind.  It is enough to make me think twice about praying at all.  I pray with greater caution than I used to.  Or if not with greater caution, then certainly with greater sobriety.  I realize what I am in for."

"The grass resolves to grow again, receiving the rain to that end, but my disordered soul thirsts after something it cannot name." Jane Kenyon "August Rain, After Haying"

"We pray because what we really want, above all else and in the deepest places of our being, is to know God."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Our Time in Berlin

I don't think I ever did get around to writing about our time in Berlin, (last October!) it was such a crazy time....but David recently wrote an article for our church newsletter. Thought I'd share it now...(with a few pictures of my own added)

"Sabatical Highlight: Our Time in Berlin" by David Funk
As part of my sabbatical we had the good fortune of being flown out to spend three weeks with my sister Jen and her husband Paul in their home in Berlin. Here are some of our favourite things (and pictures) from that trip:  We loved biking and walking everywhere! Germany (or at least Berlin) seems to be a much more physically active culture than here. Most people commute to work via foot, bike, and the excellent public transit system. Every day we would choose a destination, get on our bikes, and pedal for an hour or so. The bikes were perfect for getting around some of the amazing parks and enabled us to stop, go, and take detours to whatever caught our eye en route. Parks and the Zoo!

Berlin is a city made for kids. Playgrounds are everywhere, many of them so imaginative and fun they put our metal and plastic monstrosities to shame. Most of them would probably never pass the safety requirements we have for playgrounds here, but were they ever fun!

Berlin is also a city with many parks, many of them historic and huge. We spent hours pedaling through them on our bikes, stopping to let the kids play in the trees or on a playground, and just enjoying the fresh air and exercise. We also went to the Berlin Zoo two times. It covers 84 acres and is home to about 17,500 animals of more than 1500 different species, making it the most comprehensive collection of species in the world.

History, history, history. Everywhere we went in Berlin we were reminded of the events of the past - much of it very sad. We went to go see the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Jewish Museum, a huge memorial park for the Soviet soldiers who died in the battle for Berlin in World War II, and two museums about the Berlin Wall. How is it that a people who made so many advances in technology and industry and art were at the same time able to engage in genocide, justify it to themselves, and then ignore the facts of it for decades after the end of the war? How is it that a culture that was so thoroughly "christianized" could continue their religious observances while pretending that somehow the mass killing of Jews, homosexuals, the developmentally challenged and other minorities was not just ok, but good? It was a disturbing reminder of the depths of human depravity.

At the Berlin Wall

Old Train Station - also the place where 9200 Jews, mostly elderly men passed through,
on their way to their death at concentration camps
We also spent quite a bit of time in Berlin's historic cemeteries. Each plot is owned by the family of the individual buried there, and it is theirs to do with as they like. Many were planted with shrubs and flowers or enclosed by hedges. Many included a small bench so that visitors could come and rest and think - or pray. They were oases of quiet and beauty. This was good for our grieving hearts

Friday, March 9, 2012

Awhile back I asked you to pray for my sister in law and husband. They had so many ups and downs in their pregnancy - things were ok, then not, then ok again. But for the last while, everything looked good again and they began to hope and allow themselves to dream about really taking home two babies. 

A few days ago they lost both babies. She was five months along. Later, she gave birth to a boy and a girl, perfectly formed. Precious.

Please pray for them....and their son who won't get to play with his little brother and sister. 

I hardly know what to write. I feel so disappointed....and being parents who also know what the death of our child is like, we ache so deeply for them. I think I feel the taste of bitterness....

"He shot his arrows deep into my heart. The thought of my suffering and hopelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.  Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The unfailing Love of the Lord never ends! By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction." Lamentations 3:13, 19-22