Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Storm

A couple months ago, on my Facebook status I wrote a quote that I heard from a sermon.  It said:

 "Lord, let us not focus on the storm but rather focus on the One who calms them." 

I thought there were storms going on then, but little did I know that the big storm was just brewing.

For those of you who don't know, The Monnahans (by Monnahan's I mean, Woodwards and Morgans as well...so weird) family has been through a crazy, crazy storm lately and God has held not just me, but my whole family accountable to that profession and prayer. So as I boldly stated that quote a couple months ago, I can now say that that prayer has bled continuously out of the hearts of us Monnahan's over these past couple of weeks and God has continually challenged us to focus on Him throughout this mighty storm.

To give you a good picture of what life has been like, think of a big wave out on the ocean.

Whether its your first time on a beach or you are a  professional surfer, there is nothing quite like the thrill of seeing a gigantic wave out in the ocean beginning to form. I remember as a kid on a family vacation in Hawaii, just staring in complete aww as these huge waves formed out in the ocean and waiting for the loud crashing noise as it broke back into the sea.

Like the excitement of the formation of a gigantic wave, our whole family was so excited fo Abby's wedding.  If you weren't able to be there, you honestly missed out on an amazing wedding and by far the best one I have ever been too...and I am not just saying that because she was my sister. 

I say this because we had the opportunity to see some of our best friends and family come together and create a fairy tale princess wedding for Abby and Trent. The wedding was just like a wedding you would see in the movies and although to most of the guests, they saw pretty decorations and lights, I saw an outpouring of love over not just Abby but our entire family as our friends celebrated this occasion not just for us, but WITH us. Hours and days were sacrificed in many people's lives to put this wedding together and I cannot tell you how thankful I am and it wasn't even my wedding. We, the Monnahan's, have been so incredibly blessed to have such amazing friends established here in Arkansas, since our family is so far away. The wedding was an incredible event and memory we all shared.

But just like a wave begins to break, the wedding came to an end, and there was rush of weariness and recovery that over swept my parents. Although not one thing could have been more perfect about the wedding, it did take a lot of work. And by a lot, I mean A LOT- especially for my mom and dad. They were strained in every way imaginable...physically, emotionally, mentally. 

It took over a week to even have them just physically back to themselves but on May 25, the wave broke- and the crash came. A big crash. Lindsey, who was at the time 20 weeks pregnant with a sweet baby boy- Grayson Scott, was forced into delivery due to uncontrollable complications. For some reason, baby Grayson did not want to wait any longer and pushed his little feet out causing the umbilical cord to wrap around him. So at 9:44am, Grayson Scott Woodward was born into the arms of Jesus. He was just 10 1/2 inches long and wait 12.6 ounces.

This was without a doubt the hardest thing our family has ever been through. On the way to the hospital I had to go to Target and buy what would be the first and last piece of clothing Grayson would receive from his Aunt Jordan. Tears filled my eyes as I tried to find the smallest outfit knowing nothing would fit him. I settled for the baseball onesie that said "little brother".  He was going to be my little nephew. The little guy I would take to the park, take to baseball games, take to get ice cream, teach him how to call the hogs...so many things.

Once I got the hospital, we were told we could go in and see Lindsey. I cannot tell you how hard it was to walk into that hospital room, seeing my big sister holding her teeny-tiny baby boy, knowing she would have to soon give him away. But I can promise you that while holding baby Grayson with the sadness and the difficulty of his passing overwhelming us, the glory of Christ was still shining through.  I wish each of you could have seen...everything from his teeny tiny fingernails and toenails to his little eyelashes and forming ears made each member of family stare in awe at the intricacy of our Creator. Just look at his tiny feet print- they were so precious. Collins even got to see him and just stared in awe.

The support and love from family and friends poured in through the following days. Lindsey and Damon were so loved on, as was the rest of our family. We had a beautiful memorial service for Grayson led by John O'Leary. There was beautiful poetry both written and read by a dear friend, Stacey Hammons, a tear-jerking poem from my own dad, and then as music played, each of the family members let go a balloon as we said our final goodbye to sweet baby Grayson. We had an ice cream truck waiting for everyone to have ice cream after the ceremony because like at every little boy's birthday, there must be ice cream.  On the morning that Grayson was born, Kathrine and I declared "Home" his song by Phillip Phillips which we played while we let the balloons go.  Listen to it.

A couple days went by and support continued to pour in as Lindsey, Damon and the rest of us tried to get back to "normalization".  So like after the crash of every wave, it seems as if the worst of it is over. We thought it was.  We all thought Lindsey and Damon had all they could handle. But then a sickness over took her body- probably due to the weakened immune system caused by stress and fatigue.  Just a week after the crashing of the wave, the undertow came and grabbed them both. one. more. time. Because of Lindsey's diabetes, getting the flu is not just a 'sick-in-bed-for-the-day' thing. It includes hospitalization. IV's. 24-hour care. This time it was not just one night, but three.  My mom and dad, still recovering from the wedding and Grayson, then stepped in like the amazing parents they are and become full-time parents again to Collins (the busiest one-year-old on the planet) while Damon and Lindsey stayed in the hospital. 

The undertow pulled at every thread of their being. They were mentally exhausted. Physically exhausted. Emotionally exhausted. Financially exhausted. Relationally exhausted.

It wasn't until this past weekend, that the undertow let go and the smooth tide finally rolled in.  Except for Landon who had to work, we all got to be together as family and "re-group". We were able to go out on the lake and just try and have some fun together again. Unfortunately, a storm like this can really create a disruption in not only our physical lives but also spiritually.  Each member in our family was spiritually affected in very different ways.

Each day was and continues to be hard and each day the pain feels brand new because this sort of pain isn't a pain that turns numb after a while. As an aunt, I only experience a part of what Lindsey, Damon, and all the other parents out there who have been through a tragedy like this- and I know, the pain stays real, raw, and fresh. Every morning when you wake up, you feel it. When you go to sleep, you feel it. When Lindsey and Damon hold Collins, they wonder what kind of a big sister should would have been. When other babies are being born, the desire to celebrate is stung by the memory of their own loss. When they go to bed, they hope when they wake up the next morning, it will all just have been a bad nightmare.  It hurts. I have to watch Lindsey go through and wrack her brain about what could have been done differently. Seen Damon try and support Lindsey as a strong supportive husband but so heart-broken over the fact that he had to give up his first son.  This is a storm. And this is our storm.

But here is the thing. Although we were all caught in this big storm-

Lindsey and Damon who's faith and spirit were rocked the hardest did not waverer one bit.

This past weekend Lindsey was talking about a book she said had read before Grayson was born and how it challenged her to give her children to Jesus. She said "I did. I promised God he could have my children and He actually took him."

Just like my prayer to focus on The Calmer of the storm instead of the storm before the storm every came...God will challenge us.  He will hold us to our professions and to our words.  When I think of Lindsey and Damon, I think of Luke 16:10: "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much...". Over the past couple of years, I have seen Lindsey's faith grow stronger and stronger. As a big sister, I have always looked up to her but seeing her steadfast faith through this storm has been absolutely incredible, admirable, and humbling. She is the strongest person I know and God has created her this way.  She always has been. He sees her strength and by taking her and Damon through this storm, He is only strengthening her by making both of them more dependent on Him. And I think I know why and I think this could be why, you, reading this, have gone through the storms of your life. 

Because God is doing and will continue to do incredible things through each and everyone of His children as long as we are faithful in both the little and the big.  God is using Lindsey and Damon and their storm for the glory of their kingdom in ways that none of us could ever imagine.  Although we can't see it now in the midst of this storm, we will be able to look back and see a beautiful sunset stretching across the sky, over the waves, and know that the Creator has it all under control.  He always has had in under control and He always will. 

Lindsey and Damon have fully managed to do exactly what I prayed for. They have focused on The Calmer of the storm instead of the storm- something very few people could handle with as much grace, understanding, and peace as both Damon and Lindsey have. I am honored and humbled to be a part of their family and to watch them on this journey. 

I only hope that as you have read this and as I have witnessed, that when God brings storms into our lives, that we will be as faithful, steadfast, and trusting and Lindsey, Damon, and my whole entire family has been. Because you know why? Because God is always up to something and my desire is to be a part of that something because whatever it may be....it is going to be oh so good. I don't want to miss out. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"We didn't have this 'green' thing back then..."

So I know after a long period of time, this post is not that exciting. However, my Uncle Rod sent this to my dad who in turn sent it to me and I found it pretty insightful.

I myself get pretty sick of this whole "green generation" thing...gah, even the picture above annoys me... not because it is bad but because everyone who does not "go green" outwardly is viewed as bad or like they have a scarlet letter hanging around their neck.... Read on. And the ending remarks...just typical of my Uncle Rod. I love him. :)

Being Green

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty (this is something I strongly encourage you NOT to do because nowadays there are way too many toxins things in our water included traces of mercury and fluoride) instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young person...

We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us off.

I can see both sides of the fence- but I think this side is often hid under the passion turned pride of our generation. Just some thoughts.
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