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"Why is it so cold when the sun is out?"

What a profound statement. I made it myself. I know, I know, I'm just so amazing. Okay, humorless joking aside, let me tell you about this.

I went to the park. It was somewhat cloudy but there was sunshine. And yet it was freezing cold. I asked that question aloud, to no one in particular. Then its profundity and impact hit me like a ice cube down my back. (Sorry, that was a ridiculous analogy but I couldn't think of anything better.)

Why does life hurt so much when God is in control and I know that? Why do I feel pain so often when God is by my side? I should be totally happy right now, because I've been redeemed, because God is on the throne, because He's there for me and loves me and etc. and the list goes on. It doesn't make any sense, does it?

The sun is out, but somehow it's still really, really cold. Just another oddity of life.
Huh - note something interesting. It didn't make me feel any warmer to know that if the sun were not there, I would be frozen and completely dead right now, as would everything else. I'll let you fill in that analogy.

Thanks for reading.


His eye

     It hits every once in a while.

     A picture, a word, him saying "Rolling camera one"... it just hits. Hard.
     A beautiful black and white close-up of his eye. Eyes hold life only for such a short period of time. His eye, the eyelashes and skin around it, all decompose so quickly. But once his eye, his skin and bones, held a soul within them. Now that soul is somewhere else. Never again will that soul look at me through those eyes. Not quite those same eyes.

     And just knowing that, that once his soul did look at me, or speak to me, or give me a high-five... that makes the pain hit. The squeezing beneath my ribcage, deep and clenching. And I close the picture of his eye. I take a deep breath. I return to work.

     It hits every once in a while.


A bit of randomness

So I've got a nice collection of random things for you today.

1. For the Beauty of the Earth. I'd say most of us have sung the hymn before. But just this last Sunday as we sang it, I looked at the lyrics. Like really looked. They are simply incredible! I'm amazed I never noticed before... I guess that happens to a lot of hymns. Anyway, listen to the fourth verse.

        For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

And it struck me with new meaning, as a lot of things have since May 5. Friends above. Why does it say friends above? It is a cause of excitement to some degree, that I have a dear friend who is right now probably talking to Jesus! So when I'm singing that verse, I'm essentially thanking God for friends above - thanking God that Josh is in Heaven. Wow.

2. A dear friend and I discovered last night our new favorite snack. We had had penne spaghetti for dinner and the leftover noodles were sitting on the table, along with the warm red sauce. We both were thinking the same thing... and did it. It's awesome! You take a happy penne noodle, dip it into the sauce and yummm! Yeah, so maybe it's ridiculous considering we could've just had seconds on our plates... but hey. Yay for finger food.

3. Maybe this is another thing that everybody else knows and I just now figured out was awesome.... but have you ever really sat down and considered the fact that you are immortal? Yup. Everybody is. We can never cease to exist, even if we wanted to. It's almost scary. Every person you ignore at the grocery store is an immortal being. Wow. And almost more fascinating: though we all have no end, we all have beginnings at different times. So basically, Adam and Eve get to be in existence longer than me!

4. Last but not least... isn't it amazing that we have video? I have perhaps never been so grateful for the miracle of moving pictures... because it captures simple moments like THIS, that mean so much today. Can I say it again? Josh: I miss you so, so much.


The Ocean's Awe

Ah, the ocean.

What makes it so magical? So humbling? So relaxing? I've never likened the ocean to Christmas before, but my question is the same for both of them:
Why do they give us the moods they do?

Maybe the ocean doesn't give you a mood, or a feeling. But boy does it give me one. This past Sunday our family drove down to see my grandparents in California. On the way we stopped by the ocean to take ten minutes rest or so. As soon as I got out I was hit with a strange feeling. Like hidden exhilaration - it was so grand that it excited me, but so big that it quieted me. What could I be compared to such a thing as that expanse of sky and water before me?

I took my shoes off. The sand was warm and felt like a carpet beneath my feet. That is, until I dug my toes in. Ooooh. Don't we all know that feeling? I, for one, hadn't felt it for some years. It was simply delicious.

Then I looked up. The wind was strong, blowing my hair around my face. Looking straight out at the water, I couldn't see the ends of it to my right or left. It was that big. Wow.
It was so powerful, so awe-inspiring that it filled me with comfort. The huge, wide sky above me, flawlessly blue... the chilly water tickling my feet... the beautiful expanse of endless water in front of me... It's hard to describe why some things just connect us to God. Perhaps it is because the ocean itself is a lover's gift. To: Ariel. From: God.

There was the sense of smallness, against the vastness of this gift. Then there was the sense of gratitude, that I should be here, looking at, breathing in, and digging my toes into this gift. And there was the sense of awe, that God, who locked these "proud waves" into place, was incalculably greater than this ocean that I could not even the measure without turning my head. Yes, God is BIG.

And I am small. But I am loved. I don't want to repeat myself from my last post, but it does not cease to amaze me. Why should He have chosen me? Just another girl walking His shores, just another pair of feet in His waters, just another human in His world....


God is BIG

I usually don't like my views about God to be challenged. No, let me rephrase that; I just plain don't like my views about God to be challenged. I want to think that I know God. That I have it down, at least as much as I can, being a puny human. However... well, my view of God has been challenged.

You know the story I'm sure. When we were at the river, in the initial panic-stricken minutes, I kept saying to my friend, "It's okay - God made the river, he's in control of it; He has Josh in his hand." As the day wore on though, I begin to grapple with the idea that maybe God wouldn't actually rescue Josh. I admit, it didn't seem to fit with my perspective of God. After all, God has always blessed me immensely - like, my whole life practically. His plan seemed to always coincided with my plan - and when it didn't, it turned out better. So I learned to trust him. Even when painful things happened (like, my kneecap problem) I knew God would bring me through because he always did.

So now, here I am, sitting by this rushing river, waiting and waiting and realizing that it's probably too late - that the person who understood me best in the whole world is most likely not in the world anymore. This didn't really reconcile with "my" God. My God doesn't do this to me. I mean, he just doesn't.

But he did.

So that left me in a quandary. The first week, I felt distant from God. I tried to pray, but it didn't feel right. God was huge, hard, and suddenly seemed disinterested in me. All around I saw evidences of how Josh's life was impacting people, how his death was furthering the kingdom of God... but my little heart screamed, "But what about ME?!"

Sure, I knew the universe didn't revolve around me. I knew that God's kingdom obviously mattered more than my happiness. But I couldn't help the feeling that God's big plan for his work through Josh's death overlooked me. Yes, poor little Ariel's world will crumble around her, but oh well - Josh's death is blessing people all over the world.

You must be cringing at my selfishness by now. It is hard to just tell you this, but I want to be completely honest. This is how I felt, and still, once in a while, feel. What I discovered was that I knew, deep inside me, that Josh's death would bless me, too. God has not overlooked me because I'm too insignificant compared to the world (even though I am) - he has plans for me that are better than I have planned for myself.

This whole thing has made God so much bigger than I thought of him before. No more does his plan always make me happy. Thank goodness! What a small view I had of him; I am ashamed. One of the incredible things about God is that he is so, so big... and yet cares for every single individual. Yes, that includes me. Wow. That amazes me.

So this has been my experience. God cares so intimately for me. Probably my favorite psalm ever, Psalm 139, speaks about God being the ultimate being who understands us. Putting this new concept of how big God is with how well he knows and cares for me simply baffles me. It is beyond words. This last December I was expounding on it in my journal. It's a little messily written, but here it is.

"Psalm 139!!!!!!!!! Officially my favorite psalm. EVER. It's the most comforting psalm. Not comforting as in gives me happy safe fuzzy feelings. Comforting as in, the world can be falling apart, but even if I suffer Jesus has me in complete control in his loving, powerful hands. God is love and justice. Not just a happy everything-goes-right God and not just a judgment-on-all God. No, either of those would be weak. The world makes him out to be the sicky sweet god. That bothers me.
Anyhow, listen to the word of the Lord. Or rather, the words I want to say.

"O Lord, you have searched me and known me!" This first sentence just caught me. He has searched me? He HAS known me. Meaning, when I was a little snotty kid, he knew me. Just let that sink in.
 "You discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether." Okay, so I know he knows my thoughts. Obvious, right? But think, I say! All my ways. He's like, the ultimate person who really can predict me. Even if he didn't know the future, he could totally take the words out of my mouth because he knows me inside and out. He knows how I react to situations, what I'm prone to do. Nothing I can do will ever be a suprise to him. Amazing. I'm wrapped in a cloud of deep, deep comfort. 
The psalm goes on to describe all these far-reaching places, heaven, the sea, Sheol even - everywhere. He IS everywhere. And if you think about it... that means many things. When I'm struggling with ANYTHING, he is there. He totally understands. "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me." How true!!
 Then he talks about my inward parts, in my mother's womb. "In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." Wow. Okay, just wow. Every single day is "written" - he knows all about. He knew I'd be sitting here in the Goodrich's living room by the stove, on my laptop, writing this. He knew that while Esther stood before the king. That boggles my mind. Boggles. Just crazy. He ends the section about knowing by saying "I awake, and I am still with you."

That makes me want to cry!

I awake and I am still with God. Still! He is so, so, so, present. So RIGHT THERE. So ... inside me! He's never ever going to be even just a hand's reach away. I cannot be separated from him. PRAISE THE LORD!!!!! I can't say it enough. Crazy. Crazy."
And last but not least, a picture. Putting those beautiful, bright red roses there was such a comfort. It makes it look loved. As it is.


Burying a precious dream

Photo by Tianna Eddy

How can I describe to you what it was like to be there? Can I describe the way my heart sank deeper and deeper within me as Josh's casket was lowered lower and lower into the ground? Can I describe the sharp, startling shock of pain as the first shovel of dirt hit the metal? Can I describe the deep, numb, crushing feeling that has not left me since May 5th?

But it is not about me. So it doesn't matter if I could describe those things. Although I feel I have lost much, I am still doing better than I deserve. This is the miracle. I need to thank all of you who have lifted me up in this time. You mean so much more to me than you know. Thank you. Someday I hope I can repay you.

I have been realizing the difference between happiness and joy. I have always considered myself an extremely happy person. My life has been very close to perfect. But now I would not consider myself necessarily happy. However, I am really joyful. You might think that I choose to be - but I don't feel that way. I don't wake up and say "today I am going to be joyful." I wake up and all I can do is say, "God, please get me through today. I have nothing." And he does.

This is joy: Jesus. Perhaps my happiness has been taken away for a time, but deep down inside I have joy. I have a reason for living, and a purpose for working. This has been really encouraging to me, knowing that even if much of my happiness was in Josh, my joy was in the Lord. It has not been taken away.

I'm memorizing Romans 8. Paul talks about how creation is groaning for restoration. When I visited Josh's grave on Sunday, all I could think was how very wrong death is. How much we have lost in our fall. Sitting by a mound of earth that holds the old body of a loved one is such a stark reminder that this is not how it was supposed to be. Yes, God uses death to accomplish his purpose, and yes, God is sovereign, and yes, in a sense Josh was "supposed" to die... but death was not a part of God's original creation. It is wrong. Revelation 21, one of the most beautiful passages in Scripture, says:

"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." Death shall be no more. What an incredible thought. I cannot wait for the day

God is not powerless over death. He could destroy it right now. He could have prevented it from coming into existence, but he didn't. Because he knew the plans he had for us, plans for good and not harm. Though it seems backward, death, suffering, pain and all these things are part of God's beautiful drama.  

I apologize for the aimlessness of this post. I feel kind of rambly. I guess all I have left to say is, I can't believe it's been a month. One whole month since I've seen Josh. I suppose that isn't a very long time, but it seems like forever.

And yet God is still good. He is so good. Joy is mine.