I love words!

This past Sunday, I sang in our church’s ensemble. We sang a paraphrased version of Psalm 42 set to an Appalachian folk melody. It was beautiful. Way too high for me to sing well, but beautiful:-) One of the members of the ensemble noted that two words were flipped in the third verse. As I studied the text, I disagreed with him and we started a discussion that continued on and off throughout the morning (and that we both relished).

See what you think. Here’s the text… (emphasis mine)

As longs the hart for flowing streams
So longs my soul for You, O God;
My soul does thirst for the living God.
When shall I come to see Your face?

My tears have fed me day and night
While men have said, “Where is your God?”
But I recall as my soul pours dry
The days of praise within Your house.

Why do I mourn and toil within,
When is it mine to hope in God?

I shall again sing praise to Him,
He is my help, He is my God.

My friend thought the text should read: “Why do I mourn and toil within, when it is mine to hope in God?” In other words, “Why do I mourn when my hope is in this amazing God?” His view is theologically sound… But I agreed with the text as written. The Psalmist asks two questions… “Why do I mourn and toil within? When will I be able to hope in God again?” He encourages himself with the truth that he “shall again sing praise to Him, He is my help, He is my God.”

I fought back tears as I thought about this text. I know how it feels to mourn and toil and wonder if I will ever have hope again. I know how it feels to encourage myself with the truth that this season of grief will pass and I will again sing praise to Him, because He is my help and my God. I know (like so many others) all. too. well.

What’s interesting is the portion of Psalm 42 this text is based on… Check this out:

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God (Psalm 42:11).

I would suggest that neither of our interpretations is correct! The Psalmist (David) is indeed mourning, but he doesn’t ask when he will be able to hope in God again, and he doesn’t claim to already have hope in God. No, he tells himself to hope in God because He is his salvation! A subtle difference, but so important.

My friend’s interpretation focused more on God’s character and failed to give adequate weight to the psalmist’s mourning. My interpretation was too focused on the toil within. David got it right. His soul is downcast. What is the answer? God (period).

I love words!

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Testing a theory…

I realized during Spring Break that I might be pushing Anne too much.  Yes, her seizure medicine makes her tired, but I also think her packed schedule is a factor.  SO…  I’m keeping Anne home every Friday from both school and therapy to give her a long weekend to recover.  I’ve loved having her home this morning.

We listened to music and sang together. We even waltzed to Third Day’s, Born Again.  Anne said, “Hee Hee, this is fun!”   But since I got to spend time with her during her best time of day (right when she wakes up), I wanted to test a theory…

I believe Anne can read…  She knows all of her letters and sounds.  And she has the ability to blend sounds together.  For example, if I said to her, “Anne – what is this word…  ssss    uh   nnnnn,”   (and I put lots of space between the sounds…) she’ll answer, “sun.”  So I’ve been thinking that it might be her visual perception that’s preventing her from reading.  Anne CAN see, but sometimes she has a hard time interpreting what she sees or focusing on small details on a busy page – like letters…

So, mixing a few ideas from both her OT and SLP, I got a cookie sheet and placed three chunky magnet letters on the sheet.  Holding it vertically, so the cookie sheet was right in front of her face, I asked her to touch, and name the sound of each letter.  Then I put them in order, and Anne said, “buh…   ah…    teh  ….  bat!”  YES!!!  She went on to read: sat, mat, fat, jug, tab, bam….  well you get the idea. 

Anne's first word

Anne is so proud of herself.  As I put her down for a nap, she looked up to the butterfly painting above her bed and said, “Guess what butterfly?  I can read!”

I can read, butterfly!

Tonight’s service for Anne…

What a difference a year makes! This time last year, people were gathering at church pleading for God to spare Anne’s life. Tonight’s celebration service was a stark contrast!

Anne climbed the stairs to the platform at the front of our sanctuary (with the help of her former PT) and said into the microphone, “I made it!” She went on to answer questions from both Pastor Paul and Pastor Pete. She stayed on topic and seemed to really enjoy being on stage in front of everyone. She asked at one point, “Wow, can they hear me all the way in the back!”

A year and a day ago, if you would have told us that Anne would be on stage – talking into a microphone – and enjoying it…. Well, we wouldn’t have believed it. This is the girl that refused to sing in children’s choir because she was too afraid to stand up in front of everybody – and who cried in Sunday School because she had to go to the bathroom, but was too shy to tell her teacher… Wow!

The church staff did an amazing job putting together this service. The music was awesome, and the words shared were extremely meaningful.

Thank you to everyone who came. We had friends and family come from hours away to celebrate Anne. The Sanctuary was full of people we love and who love Anne. It was a glorious time.

I’m doing better…

This week has been a good week for all of us. The more relaxed pace of spring break has been rejuvenating. Thank you for praying for me. I’ve been more aware of God’s mercy and faithfulness, and I’ve been encouraged by several friends this week. I’ve received uplifting text messages, fresh tulips delivered to my door, and one friend even came over to clean my toilets and fold my laundry. That’s love!

I think most encouraging is that lots of people are remembering April 13th. From close friends to casual acquaintances, I’ve had several encounters this week of people telling me that they are praying as the 13th approaches.

God has lifted the weight of grief (at least for now) and given me a single focus for the good He’s accomplished in Anne this year. We have so much to be thankful for! So when our pastor asked how they could best minister to us on the one year mark of the accident, I decided I wanted a celebration service to thank God for the blessing of Anne’s life and miraculous recovery. The details are still being worked out, but my prayer is that the service will be an encouragement to Anne and to those who have prayed so faithfully for Anne. I pray God is glorified as we acknowledge the work He has done in our midst!

Miss Debbie was over tonight watching our kids. Anne loves Miss Debbie! She made me a care package for wednesday… Lots of chocolate, diet cokes, candles, etc. But the coolest thing is a cd she made for me. On it is Laura Story’s new song Blessings. Miss Debbie says that every word reminds her of Anne. I agree. Listen to it if you have a chance:-)  And here’s the story behind the song if you’re interested…

I’ll post more about Anne’s service when I know details. It will be this Wednesday evening at our church, ChristChurch Presbyterian. Anne will be there, and I hope it will be a blessing for everyone :-)

Miracle of music

I’m thankful for music and Anne’s ability to sing along.

In the days after the accident, a new song by Josh Wilson entitled, Before the Morning, was released on the radio. This song ministered the most deeply to me in those early days. After one of my most discouraging days, I was driving home from the hospital just crying and praying. After much talking with God, I meekly asked, “God, would you just let me hear that Josh Wilson song…” So I turned on the radio, and his song was playing…

Would you dare, would you dare to believe,
That you still have a reason to sing,
That the pain that you’ve been feeling
Can’t compare to the joy that’s coming.

So hold on, you gotta wait for the light.
Press on and just fight the good fight,
Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling,
Is just the dark before the morning.

Now Anne knows all the lyrics and sings along in the car. That’s a stark contrast to the dark days in the hospital, and a poignant gift from God…

Holdin’ On

We received a good report from Anne’s neurosurgeon yesterday. Her CT scan showed many positive indicators including the decrease of fluid on her brain. The bad news is that Anne’s injury has caused significant atrophy on the right side of her brain (which is a loss of neurons and the connections between them.) We’ll just have to pray that Anne learns to compensate!

Dr. Reisner is such a kind and compassionate man. He genuinely cares for Anne and will probably follow her for a long time. But for now, she is stable from a neurosurgerical view and only has to see Dr. Reisner yearly.

Neurologically, however, we are just getting started. Anne will visit her neurologist on Monday. He will address her seizures (which are still present) and eventually her attention/impulsivity issues. I’m sure we’ll become well acquainted with the neurologist’s office :-)

I’ll share a glimpse of our morning with you all… After breakfast, as I was sweeping up crumbs and mopping up spills, we were listening to Toby Mac’s Holding On – very loudly:-) I dropped my mop and picked up Anne. Canon and Kate danced around me as I was spinning with little Anne. She was squealing with delight. Then the doorbell rang. Yup, the Orkin Man. So he just joins in the fun. He takes Anne and dances with her. I pick up Kate. Canon is in the middle doing his 8-yr-old boy dance (use your imagination). The Jacksons and the Orkin Man dancing to Toby Mac. Good times. Great song…

We’re holding on over here ;-) kathryn

Ensemble

It has been almost a year since I sang in the worship ensemble at church. Even though I’m mediocre at best, singing brings me so much joy.

Yesterday we sang Chris Tomlin’s “God of This City” …which for anyone who faithfully follows Anne’s CaringBridge site knows – is one of “Anne’s songs.” We change the lyrics in the chorus to say, “Greater things are yet to come, and Greater things are still to be done in our Annie-B.” Thankfully, I sang the correct lyrics and didn’t cry during the song :-)

But I did cry during “Our God Saves.” It’s my deepest cry for Anne – that God would give her a saving faith. That somehow her tragedy would be used for her future glory…

Chorus:
Our God saves, our God saves;
There is hope in Your name;
Mourning turns to songs of praise;
Our God saves, our God saves.

Glimmer of relief

We have struggled a little more lately with the amount of service required to raise little Anne. Sometimes we have just felt tired. We pray that Anne continues to grow and learn and sharpen because we want what is best for her. But selfishly we also ask God for some relief.

Then a tiny glimmer of relief comes in an unusual way to
me. The scene in our Honda van traveling around town: everyone singing loudly to Christian radio, with Kathryn teaching us to insert a few lyrics of our own to some well known songs. . . . Anne grinning ear to ear:

Brandon Heath’s “Wait and See”

There is hope for Anne yet
Because God won’t forget
All the plans He has for “me”
I have to wait and see …He’s not finished with Anne yet

Chris Tomlin’s “God of this city”

For greater things are yet to come,
And greater things are still to be done in our Annie-B
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in our Annie-B

I get a giant lump in my throat when I sing that Chris
Tomlin song with Annie-B inserted. God is so personal and close to give us these songs, to give us Kathryn who can ‘see’
to change these songs for Anne, to give little Anne back to us, and to give us the chance to wrestle with him as a family through this difficulty which molds our character a little more to His likeness.

-eric

Happy Birthday Anne!

Little Anne’s birthday was yesterday – she just turned 6!! Her favorite gifts are the magnadoodle and the purse with bracelets. She keeps asking me: “Daddy, help me write my name!” i help hold her hand, and she makes it through the letter “A” . . . then gets distracted. Pray that she will soon be able to make it through her whole name on her own.

We have been reminded at how much Anne loves music. Every other thing she says seems to be the words of a song that Kathryn sings to her or that she has heard on 104.7 (local Christian station). For some reason she remembers these words and is able to concentrate or focus on music longer than on other everyday or academic activities.

-eric

“…that saved a ranch like meeeee”

Before the accident, I sang in one of our church’s worship ensembles once a month. I always looked forward to Wednesday evening practice much more than singing on Sunday mornings. There’s just something sweet and simple about a handful of people gathered around a piano singing three-part harmony. Not being one of the stronger singers, sometimes I would just stop and listen…

I went back to practice this past Wednesday. There was one moment when everyone was singing that I realized that I didn’t feel any grief – that I was just having fun singing and listening. Of course, when I realized it, the grief flooded back :-) But in that moment – there was sweet freedom and joy. That moment was a gift.

We sang Chris Tomlin’s version of Amazing Grace that night, and it’s been stuck in my head ever since. I guess I’ve been singing it alot around the house, because Anne’s picked up on it…

I need to work on my pronunciation though… As we were entering the church lobby this morning, Anne started singing (loudly), “Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound, that saved a ranch like me…”

She does have a knack for making us all laugh!

-kathryn