Saturday, August 30, 2014

Grandpa's 92nd Birthday

Last weekend we headed up to Warm Beach for the annual summer picnic, held in honor of my grandpa's birthday. He turned 92 this year. That's ninety-two years old, people!
My grandparents were part of the local Model A club for many years, so some years they still join us to celebrate my grandpa's birthday.
Headed up to Warm Beach, we found ourselves behind this little car also headed to my grandpa's house... 
Drew watching the Model A club arrive
Party guests watching my grandpa welcome the Model A club
Gang's all here!
Drew and I spent some time on the old swing out back
And the bars...

And then he wanted to check out the cars.

He took some exploring liberties...
Have a seat, buddy!
My cousin's husband with their two beautiful kiddos
Beach time!
So. much. open. space.
Drew really likes dogs!
Miss Avery, off exploring
Drew immediately found a stick and got to work dragging it around
Avery showing Drew how to pat the mud and make it splatter
Back up at the house, the men were gathered around chatting
Kyle and I found some time while Drew was napping to pick fresh blackberries!
The guests just enjoying the beautiful day!
Sweet little Cooper!
The kids did a lot of playing inside, out of the heat
(and that's me, in my happiest of happy places, surrounded by babies!)
After the Model A club left, the family hung around for a dinner and cake!
Look at these two!
Total lovebirds!
Gramps got a little help from Avery with the candles.
Hip hip hooray!
After dinner and cake, we gathered for a family game of Watson rummy
Not a bad view for card playing!
And this was the sunset as we packed up to head home - glorious!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Raised in Glory

Miscarriage used to be something I couldn't discuss, I was so fearful of it. I couldn't even think about miscarriage because of what it might do to my relationship with God. And then it happened: I suffered a miscarriage last week. And like I feared, I couldn't handle it. I cried until I felt ill. It temporarily shook my relationship with God right down to the core. I felt that I would never be able to reconcile my intense hurt and sadness (and ANGER!) with what I knew to be true about God: that He is always good, and always in control.

I don't know what it was specifically about miscarriage that I was so fearful of, because there are plenty of other events that would be more devastating than miscarriage. But I do know that most people have a similar fear(s) in their life, some area of their heart that they refuse to let God in on.

Kyle and I were on family vacation in Oregon when we found out we were pregnant. We've been trying for another child since March, so this was welcomed and celebrated news! But the pregnancy test wasn't very strong, and I began to doubt. Blood work a few days later revealed that I was no longer pregnant, and was going to experience a miscarriage soon. And that's what happened.

But something else happened, too. Jesus, in his perfect grace, showed up to meet me in the dark place I suddenly found myself. In fact, I'm sure He was there all along, waiting for me. Waiting to tear down this fear in my life that had formed a wedge between us.

When I got the phone call from my OBGYN about my blood work, I burst into tears. Big, messy, heartbroken tears. Kyle and I went back to our room, put Drew down for his nap, and then we just cried. I began formulating endless "why" questions: why would God do this? Why here? Why right now? Why is He making me go through this? We had no answers, we just cried and prayed.

In the midst of the tears and praying, I heard God clearly say to me: I wanted him home with me. I immediately felt a weight was lifted off my aching heart: God wanted our baby home in heaven with Him. How could I argue with that? A joyful laugh even fell out of my mouth. Because after all, as Christians, that's precisely what we want for our children above all else: that they would be spending eternity in heaven.

The Bible says that our bodies are buried in brokenness, but will be raised in glory (1 Cor 15:43), and that's exactly what had happened to our little life. Raised in glory! How could we not rejoice in that?!

Sitting in that room in Cannon Beach, I suddenly felt accomplished: my work for that baby was done. And Jesus' work for that baby was done. He is now in heaven with Jesus experiencing a joy we have yet to know here on earth. I couldn't stop smiling. Yes, my arms ache to not be able to hold that baby, but my heart rejoices knowing Jesus is holding him in heaven.

And I no longer felt angry, I no longer felt fear. I just felt content, and a little homesick for heaven.

That night Kyle and I went to the evening service at the family camp we were at. During the opening worship, they played Blessed Be Your Name. Part of the lyrics read:

You give and take away
You give and take away

My heart will choose to say

Lord, blessed be Your name

I was bawling, and meaning every word I was singing. I was starting to see that in the midst of me shaking my angry fist at God earlier in the day, He met me in that tender place and showed me that I had been grieving as if I had no hope.

But as Christians, we do have hope. Romans 15:13 says "may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." I have hope in the goodness and perfectness of God. I have hope in His tender comforts. I have hope in eternity, because of Jesus. And that's what makes is possible to praise God in the midst of a heartache. That's what makes is possible to still seek God, in the midst of a heartache.

John Piper recently wrote that "God’s design for suffering is that it magnifies Christ’s worth and power. This is grace, because the greatest joy of Christians is to see Christ magnified in our lives." After this experience, I wholeheartedly believe this to be true.

God answered my prayers through this miscarriage. Had that baby lived to be born, we would have prayed endlessly (just as we do with Drew) that he would come to know the Lord and spend eternity in heaven. God has already answered our prayer for that baby.

God also answered another prayer of mine. If you've been reading along, you know that I was doing a little study on 'fear of the Lord' a while ago. That's the only proper fear the Bible instructs us to have; the rest of the time we are instructed to fear not.

The ESV translation of Isaiah 41:10 says:
"fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; 
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." 

The Message translation reads: 
"Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you." 

When confronted by my fear of miscarriage as a reality, I had panicked. I had forgotten that God was with me. I feared suffering, because I had forgotten who my God is. He's a God that gives strength. He sends a helper, Jesus. He holds me steady when I'm drowning in my own conceited despair, and the holy spirit keeps a firm grip on my heart despite my doubting thoughts.

Psalm 34:4 says "I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears." Miscarriage was something I held too close to my heart, and God knew that I needed to be freed from that specific prison of fear. When I found myself praising God in the midst of the miscarriage, I knew with confidence that I no longer feared miscarriage. Do I want it to happen again? Surely not. But do I fear it? Definitely not. That's freedom. 

I shared this because I hope it might be a relief to someone else going through something similar. I've been so comforted by God and the truths of the Bible, and I want that for others who find themselves grieving as I was: falsely without hope. Let it be known: God is good, He is in control. He loves His people. He is faithful, always.

As for what's next: we are waiting patiently on the Lord to see what the future holds for our family, and rejoicing in His goodness!


My friend sent me this blog that was really helpful for me and may be a comfort for someone else specifically grieving a miscarriage:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Family Trip to Cannon Beach

Last week we took a family vacation to Cannon Beach, Oregon. The Hansen family has been vacationing in Cannon Beach for generations, so I was very excited for my first official Hansen family Cannon Beach trip. Cannon Beach is home to the Cannon Beach Christian Conference Center, which hosts conferences almost year-round. Summer is when the family camps happen, which is what we were participating in. The conference center does a wonderful job putting together an exceptional week, including great food, abundant (and free!!!!) childcare, great preaching, and endless family time.
Packed the Jeep to the BRIM! But, we did end up using everything we brought,
except for the beach chairs. I'd say that's a packing success!

We did a caravan to CB from Seattle with Kyle's parents and his sister's family.
We stopped for lunch along the way...
And once more before crossing the Colombia River.
First morning breakfast in Cannon Beach. That's Drew wandering off in the background!
He just darts off now, without a care in the world...sigh... 
On our way to the beach! The beach is one block away from camp.
Drew, with Haystack Rock in the background.
Some of the nights we'd meet up at the Coach House after the evening service.
Papa Peter sharing his rootbeer float with the boys.
One of the nights we signed up for the free in-room babysitting service!
Heather, Adam, Kyle, and I enjoyed some late night drinks and snacks,
and then had the town to ourselves walking home!
Midweek the weather turned crummy, so we piled the kids in the car and headed to the
Tillamook Cheese Factory. Now that we've been, I can't say that we'll go
again - but the free cheese samples were enough to make it worth the drive.
Drew didn't quite understand the concept...
Some of the afternoons additional childcare is offered (did I mention it's FREE?!),
so we would check Drew in and then enjoy an afternoon date in town
("town" is one block over from the conference center grounds).
The picture above is Kyle picking out his haul from Bruce's Candy Kitchen!
Then we just sat and people watched for a while...
Kyle got to ring the bell for dinner one night; he was pretty amped about that.
Breakfast and dinners are provided for all family campers, and the food was
always yummy. At dinner, the food is brought out to you at your table, and they
clean up everything after you. Pretty great!
More fun at the beach!
This wagon saved us from having to carry Drew everywhere (or chase
him as he runs away).
Drew loved having a whole week to spend with his dad!
And it was really fun for all the cousins to get to play together!

But mostly, Drew just followed Kyle around everywhere. 

On our last morning, Kyle and I checked Drew into the nursery,
but then we skipped morning service and went on a morning
date walk down to Haystack Rock.

At the rock!
The cousins got in lots of play time together - such cuties!
Lots of wagon rides...
Drew's first visit to Pizza a Fetta!
One of the days the conference center hosted a big carnival for the kids.
Drew loved (LOVED!) the obstacle course. They tried to tell me he was too small
for it, but once they agree to let me go with him they saw that he was indeed
NOT too small for it. He may be small, but he's strong - and FULL of energy!
Playing in the ball pit.
Our room situation was a little funky because we booked late in the year.
We weren't able to get a family room (which has a bunk bed room inside the main
room for kids to sleep), so we had to put Drew in our bathroom to sleep. It actually
worked great for him (he slept perfectly the entire trip - thank you Baby Wise method!!!),
but it meant long trips down the hall to the community bathroom for us. (Oh - and he
hates it when you put him in the pack n play for play time. This kid hates being confined!)
Family pic at the beach. That's the best shot we could get; Drew refused to stop playing in the sand!
We can't really blame him though :-)
Cannon Beach is a really neat town, and the Conference Center does such a wonderful job making families feel relaxed and taken care of. The preaching at the morning and evening services was wonderful; it's so nice to get to hear from other great pastors from time to time. We had a wonderful week, and I already can't wait to go back next year!