Saturday, July 9, 2016

Preparing a Place ... With Eager Anticipation

So, it looks like it's been a little over three months since my last post.  Believe me when I say I haven't been sitting beside a pool somewhere eating bonbons over the past three months.  No, I've been working beside Brad, Larry, Janice, and a host of wonderful volunteers as we labor to get the While We're Waiting Refuge for Bereaved Parents completed by mid-October, when we'll be hosting our first weekend retreat there.

The work, while often hot, dirty, and exhausting, is also exhilarating.  We've been spending a lot of time recently working on preparing the ten bedrooms for our guests.

First there was the framing ...

Then came the caulking ...

Then the insulating ...

Then came the drywall ...

Followed by priming ...

And finally, the fun part ... painting!  Each guest room is a different color, which makes it feel more like a home than a hotel ...

We can't wait to get furniture in these rooms (after we get the flooring installed, of course!), and then comes the really fun part ... decorating them!  We have plans for each room to have its own personality, and to feel warm and welcoming to those who will be staying in them at our retreats.  We can already envision moms and dads walking up and down the hallway, choosing the room that best "fits" them for the weekend.  Our desire is to have special little touches in each room which will bring comfort and encouragement to hurting parents.  There are times when we get positively giddy as we discuss our plans for these rooms.

The anticipation of meeting these moms and dads for the first time, of seeing their eyes light up as they choose their special room for the weekend, of watching as their burden becomes a little less heavy as they set down their physical and emotional baggage, of seeing a smile play around their lips for perhaps the first time in awhile ... These are the things that drive us as we labor in preparing this place.

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Last month, I participated in an online Bible study with several other moms who have children in Heaven.  It was a Precept Bible study called, "Heaven, Hell, and Life After Death."  It was an excellent study, and it was a great experience to discuss these truths with other moms for whom these concepts are more than just vague thoughts for the future ... they are critical truths about which they think every day.  

The last lesson of the series focused primarily on Heaven.  One of the passages we discussed was John 14:1-3:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."

I've probably read those verses more times than I can count.  But they have never struck me like they did that day.  Maybe because I've been spending so much time preparing rooms lately!

It got me to wondering ... I wonder if Jesus is preparing our rooms in Heaven with as much eager anticipation as we are preparing the rooms for our guests at the Refuge?  

As Hannah's life was nearing its earthly end, was He excitedly saying to His Father, "Hey Dad, that Hannah Joy Sullivan will be coming soon, and I can't wait until she gets here!  I've got her room all ready for her ... It's painted her favorite color and I've got some sunflowers in a vase in the corner for her.  There are some pictures of her family and friends on the dresser, and a whole plate full of Spudnuts for her to snack on.  I can't wait to see her face when she sees what I've prepared for her ... I sure hope she likes it!"  

Theologically sound?  Maybe not.  

Is it possible, though?  Maybe.  I like to think so.  He calls us His children, and what good father isn't excited about preparing something special for his children?  

Well ... time to get back to work preparing rooms ... October will be here before we know it!!

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If you have experienced the loss of a child, and would like more information about the While We're Waiting ministry and the bereaved parent retreats we offer, click HERE to go to our website.  

If you'd like to connect with us on Facebook, click HERE to follow our public page (open to anyone) and HERE to request to join our closed group (open only to bereaved parents).  

If you'd like to follow the construction progress of the While We're Waiting Refuge for Bereaved Parents, click HERE for our Refuge Facebook page.