This Christmas morning I did not wake up to an excited smile, Santa did not bring toys, no pictures were taken, and I did not open gifts. This morning it was just me and Jesus, and a handful of sausage balls. And this Christmas, in all of my pain and grief over the loss of Noah, I have seen the true foundation of the Christmas season: a tiny baby boy filled with the Spirit of God, two parents who are filled with joy at the arrival of their firstborn, but also feel a looming cloud of sadness at the prophecy that their son must be sacrificed for mankind. What grief and sadness they must have felt, even more than I do today, knowing one day their child would certainly be taken from them.
So this Christmas has been stripped down from the commercial, happy, joy-filled Christmas I'm accustomed to, and I'm left with only Jesus, His excited yet confused and scared parents, and a promise of salvation and healing. And to be quite honest - that's all I need to keep moving forward and to live 100%. I am not living for anyone else but Jesus Christ, because He died for me. And somewhere in another dimension of time and space, wherever heaven is, my little boy is smiling because I am slowly starting to get it. This Christmas I am thanking God for the gift of eternal life through His Son, the light of the world, the baby in the manger, the boy that was "about His Father's business," the young man teaching His elders, the God-man that took my sin and shame on a cross, forever offering forgiveness and peace to my broken and hurting heart. Jesus is all we need - see that with me today, and all days.
God bless you, and I hope you have a Jesus-filled Christmas. Live 100% for Him!
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:14-21 NKJV)
I have wanted to write an update for some time now, but the words just wouldn't flow like usual. It has been very difficult to describe what I have been feeling over the past several months. Today I am supposed to be packing, getting ready for the move that will place us closer to work, cutting out our commute and saving both time and money. This move is an opportunity God has given us that actually makes sense, but emotionally it is so hard to follow through. With every room I step into, I am overwhelmed with memories of life with Noah. This home where he lived, albeit a span of only five months, is the LAST placed he lived. Taking pictures off of the walls, packing his towels and washcloths, and cleaning out cabinets housing his plastic Star Wars cups are all such emotionally draining tasks. Wherever we land from this time forward will have no memory of his bouncing, happy feet darting from room to room. There will be no scuff marks on the walls from his spastic light saber fights. It feels like too much "moving forward" for me. But nevertheless, it has to be done.
Yesterday morning during my husband's sermon, I continued to think on the word "opportunity." Throughout the bible, stories are told about people who were presented with God-ordained opportunity. Some accepted their opportunity as a chance to prove their trust in God and reveal His glory in their lives; others rejected the opportunities given that were to prove themselves faithful to the Lord, and they suffered without a feeling of purpose. As I thought about John's challenge to the congregation to accept God's will, whatever that looks like, without doubt or concern for the future, I reflected on the events that our family has experienced. I am beginning to see how much opportunity John and I have been given, opportunity to point to Jesus and His love, His mercy and grace, His eternity. I began day-dreaming about the future and how we can use our experiences to continue to remind people of and introduce people to the faithfulness of God. I began to realize that in the middle of my suffering, God is purposing and planning my pain for His good and glory. Not a tear I have shed will go unnoticed or unused for Him. As I am waiting to be reunited with Noah and meet the Lord, I am always walking in opportunity to serve Him and to show His love. If only I could look at every situation with that viewpoint...
Back in August I was invited to a retreat with a sweet friend. The Lord introduced me to a picture of my life that I hadn't realized before. Here is what I journaled that weekend:
"I find it interesting that for my journal time I thought it necessary to sneak away to the lake, which is in a little valley between a few small hills up
here in north Georgia. The house up the hill behind me has balconies that overlook the lake, but I felt I needed to be closer and follow the path down to the bottom, (which leaves a good climb back to the house). At the bottom, near the waters edge, the lake is muddy, with cloudy water and dead limbs floating around, and just pretty gross by my standards, as lakes tend to be. But from the balcony outside of my room, it looks pristine, glowing, and beautiful as the sun reflects upon the still water. "For the past 2 ½ years of my life I have lived in the valley of sorrow and
suffering, watching my only child fight to live, doing everything I could to help him survive. Being in the valley has become my safety and comfort. If I attempted to make the climb to the top of the hill, something would knock me down to the valley once again: tumor growth/recurrence, miscarriage, loss of a home, surgeries, my son’s decline….and eventually death. Suffering doesn’t surprise me anymore; in fact, I expect it. I have determined that life is a constant struggle, an inherent wrestling of flesh and spirit, with sorrow and joy intertwined and indistinguishable at times. I have felt that my purpose has been to just crawl down to the valley and sit, waiting for sorrow to find me. This place in my life looks gross to me, just like the lake. It feels dirty and dark, like this muddy water I see, but I’m not viewing my life in the valley from the 'balcony.' From the balcony of my room the water is beautiful; there are boats enjoying the calm waters and cool breezes. The sun causes the water to shimmer and sparkle. From where I am sitting on the bank, I’m not seeing things from the balcony perspective. This valley perspective I have of my life is
comfortable to me, even though it is painful - feeling alone, feeling defeated, just doing God’s work in order to find a purpose for each day. I feel guilty for wanting to seek out happiness, because my son is gone from me. It seems like I feel the need to be defeated and struggling so I can show how much I miss him and how unfair it is that he is not here. Noah was where I found purpose for our years and three months of my life. Almost everything I did was based on what he needed, and how he needed to be cared for. Every decision John and I made together affected Noah, and he had to be considered through it all, with his best interest in our hearts. Things are so different now and in the natural, it
feels so wrong. "So, I have to be redefined. I need to be remolded and reshaped, with the Lord being my definition and joy. Just like walking back up the hill on the path to the house will bring my body physical discomfort (my lungs will need to work a
little harder and my heart will pump a little faster, my muscles will be stretched and pulled), so will climbing up the figurative hill to the high place
(where victory is seen), with sorrow and suffering at my side, be incredibly uncomfortable. But if I want to reach Jesus in all of His glory and see His purpose for me I must begin the climb. If I sit and wait on Him in the valley, I won’t get to see the amazing view He has of my life from the balcony perspective.
"Jesus give me strength and endurance for the climb, while I dust off my joy, covered by the ashes of pain and death. Restore to me the joy of my salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit (Ps 51:12).
"…Yet (despite my circumstance) I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation (victory). The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills (my “balcony view“). - Habbakuk 3:18-19 (italics are my own interpretation)."
So, if you've ever read the book "Hinds Feet in High Places," you'll know I was making a lot of reference to that. There is so much about this life that we will never understand, and if we are constantly focused on the struggle and the pain, we will never see what Jesus sees. I am desperate to see my life from God's perspective, up on top of that mountain, where He sees the big picture. I trust that He works all things in my life for HIS good and for HIS glory. Every step that I am taking up each steep hill bring discomfort and even pain, but the end result of meeting the Lord in all His glory is worth every heartache and trial.
The preparations John and I are making for the move are difficult, and we would appreciate any prayers you could give on our behalf for some grace to get through it. I am looking forward to the ways God is going to use Noah's life for His glory and I can't wait to see how he will utilize John David and myself to facilitate that.
I have a few more prayer requests, for those of you still reading and praying: Three little guys I have grown to love dearly, though only having physically met one, have each been given a grave diagnosis from their doctors. I live in reality of those diagnoses, but I also walk in faith and hope of God's healing power. Please pray for Ehrrhen, Ryan, and Joel, all precious boys battling brain/spinal cancer. It is so hard to watch children suffering and feel helpless to change their circumstance. The organization "The Truth 365" created this 50 minute video to inform of, through all types of social media, the dangers and realities of childhood cancer. Please watch this video and forward it as much as you can. If you would like to know how and where to donate, visit www.thetruth365.org.
Once again, John and I, along with our extended family, appreciate your prayers. God is still good, no matter our circumstance. Never forget Noah, and live your life 100%, making the most of every opportunity. God bless.
These posts are written by Noah's parents Jessica & John David Crowe. The default author is Jess, and those written by John David will be noted.