Wednesday, September 23, 2015

While We're Waiting Wednesday - The Dedication of the WWW Refuge

This past Saturday, we held a dedication service for the While We're Waiting Refuge, a retreat facility specifically designed for bereaved parents.  I can't even begin to tell you what a blessing it was ... but I'm going to try!

We began planning this event about three months ago.  It was important to us to take some time to dedicate this facility to God before we got too far along in its construction.  We set the date for September 19th, not really knowing where we would be in the building process at that time, but trusting that God would have us right where we needed to be.

We invited our While We're Waiting family and our church family, having no idea how many people might actually come.  We publicized it on social media, via email, and in our church bulletin.  We thought maybe fifty people would come.

As it got closer, we realized that we may have a few more folks than that, so we prepared areas for parking and asked members of the Fearless Rock dive team to assist us with the parking.

It turns out that more than 150 people came to help us dedicate this facility to the Lord!  We were absolutely thrilled, humbled, and overwhelmed by the support we received that day.  As always, a story is best told through pictures, so here are a few taken by my daughter and her husband.

These dear folks sat through 90+ degree temperatures and blowing dust to show their support for this project.

A big shout out to the Fearless Rock dive team who helped us get everyone parked safely!

The program included parents who had attended past While We're Waiting retreats sharing what this ministry has meant to them.

After the program, we encircled the entire slab and had a closing prayer.  It was a very touching moment.

After the prayer, bereaved parents were invited to write on the walls and studs of the kitchen/dining area in memory of their precious children ... a very special time of remembrance.

Finally, just a few more pictures so you can get a feel of what the Refuge will actually be like.  This picture shows the full perspective of the building.  The slab where everyone is standing is the area where the ten guest bedrooms will be.  The middle section is the existing house, which includes our meeting area and sitting area/library, and is being completely renovated, and the far section is where the welcome center, the dining room, and the kitchen will be.

I love this view of the kitchen/dining area.  The dining room will have a high, arched ceiling.

One last picture.  This is the view out of the large dining room windows.  The pond is a bit low right now, as it's been very dry here lately, but it's a beautiful, peaceful spot.  We will be building a fishing dock on the pond, and plan to keep it stocked for our guests.

Each person who attended the Dedication Day on Saturday received a program which included a prayer list for this ministry.  We would be honored if you would join us in prayer for these specific requests.

1.  For God's will to be done in all aspects of the While We're Waiting ministry; that He would be glorified in all that is said and done.

2.  That every hurting parent who comes here will receive comfort, feel God's love, and ultimately be pointed to Jesus, the true source of all comfort.

3.  For laborers to help with the building project and to serve our families.

4.  For safety of all those involved in the building project.

5.  For finances for the building project and for the day-to-day operation of the ministry.

6.  For God's wisdom for the Browns and the Sullivans as they lead this ministry.

Thank you so much for your support and prayers for the While We're Waiting ministry!  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Throwback Thursday - "Miss Havisham"

Photo from
Another Throwback Thursday post today ... This one written November 26, 2012, about 2 1/2 years after Hannah went to Heaven.  Sometimes I still feel like Miss Havisham ...

If you're a regular reader of the blog, you know I've been reading through the classics on my treadmill in the mornings.  I have really enjoyed discovering these books.  You know, if I had been assigned to read these books in high school or college, I think I would have hated them.  But now, as an adult, I'm loving them.  The quality of the writing, the depth of the plots, and the richness of the character development completely eclipses anything being written today ... in my humble opinion, of course.

My most recent read was "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens. Yet another amazing work of literature.  I was particularly intrigued by one character ... Miss Havisham.  Miss Havisham lives in a decrepit old mansion, and requests that a young boy, Pip, be brought in to entertain her.  Pip is escorted into the mansion by a beautiful young lady named Estella, and trails behind her through several gloomy passages and up a dark staircase, with only a single candle to light the way.  Estella leaves him alone at the door of a room, which he nervously enters.  It was a dressing room, well lit by wax candles, but without a hint of daylight in it.  Sitting at the dressing table is Miss Havisham, and here is how Pip describes her...

"She was dressed in rich materials -- satins, and lace, and silks -- all of white.  Her shoes were white.  And she had a long white veil dependent from her hair, and she had bridal flowers in her hair, but her hair was white.  Some bright jewels sparkled on her neck and on her hands, and some other jewels lay sparkling on the table.  Dresses, less splendid than the dress she wore, and half-packed trunks, were scattered about.  She had not quite finished dressing, for she had but one shoe on -- the other was on the table near her hand -- her veil was but half arranged, her watch and chain were not put on, and some lace for her bosom lay with those trinkets, and with her handkerchief, and gloves, and some flowers, and a Prayer-Book all confusedly heaped about the looking-glass.

It was not in the first few moments that I saw all these things, though I saw more of them in the first moments than might be supposed.  But I saw that everything within my view which ought to be white, had been white long ago, and had lost its lustre and was faded and yellow.  I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes.  I saw that the dress had been put upon the rounded figure of a young woman, and that the figure upon which it now hung loose had shrunk to skin and bone.  Once, I had been taken to see some ghastly waxwork at the Fair, representing I know not what impossible personage lying in state.  Once, I had been taken to one of our old marsh churches to see a skeleton in the ashes of a rich dress that had been dug out of a vault under the church pavement.  Now, waxwork and skeleton seemed to have dark eyes that moved and looked at me.  I should have cried out, if I could."

Have you got the picture in your mind?  As Pip looks around a little more, he notices that Miss Havisham's watch has stopped at twenty minutes to nine, and that a clock in the room has stopped at twenty minutes to nine, as has every other clock in the house.  He observes that the shoe on the dressing table, though yellowed, had never been worn, and that Miss Havisham's silk stocking on that foot had been trodden ragged.  On a subsequent visit, he enters an adjoining room and discovers a long table with an object upon it so covered with mold and cobwebs, it was unidentifiable.  It was crawling with spiders and black beetles ... and Miss Havisham explained to Pip that it was her wedding cake.

You can probably guess what happened.  Miss Havisham had been jilted on her wedding day, at precisely twenty minutes 'til nine ... and she had never moved forward from that moment.  Her life basically ended right there.  She was alive, but she wasn't living.

I guess Miss Havisham's character intrigued me because I could so totally relate to her.  I "get" her.  I remember when Hannah left for Heaven, it felt like time had completely stopped.  As if every clock in the world had stopped at 2:31 p.m., never to be re-started.  As we made the drive home from Little Rock on that day, it was so surreal to see all the other people just driving along the interstate, going about their everyday activities, as if nothing had happened.  Didn't they know that life as I knew it had just ended?

I can't tell you how tempting it was to just sit at my dressing table wearing my wedding dress in the weeks and months after Hannah's death.  I'm not a naturally social person anyway, and it was hard, so hard, to step back out into the world again.  It's still not always easy.  Good thing my husband is such an extrovert and tends to drag me along with him most of the time, or I might still be sitting there with one shoe on and one shoe off.

As the story goes along in "Great Expectations", we find that Miss Havisham is a bitter, angry, pathetic character, who has spent her miserable life manipulating people to do her bidding.  Her life is a complete and utter waste.

And that's exactly why we can't just stop the clocks when a devastating loss happens in our lives.  How would that be honoring to our Lord, or even to the loved one whom we've lost?  Do we really want our suffering (and our child's suffering) just go to waste?  Or do we want to grow from it, learn from it, and become a better person because of it?  We have to decide what we're going to do while we're waiting ... sit at the dressing table and gradually turn yellow from lack of use ... or put on that other shoe and get busy for the kingdom of God?

Can we do that on our own?  No, it's only through the grace of God and by His strength that we can brush away the cobwebs, sweep the moldy cake crumbs off the table, and step back out into the sunshine.  The Bridegroom is there and He's patiently waiting ... We just have to be willing to reach up and take His hand.