Sunday, 1 April 2012


"We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."
Hebrews 6: 19-20 (NRSV)

I know many people with "life verses." I've never chosen one specific verse and labeled it as such, but I have found that in the last few years of my life that there have been specific verses that I have clung to in difficulty, have come back to again and again; verses that hold me down in times of trouble. I think of them as my "anchor" verses. They keep me tethered where I need to be, so that I can ride out some of the storms that have rumbled through my life.

I feel like the storms have been more serious and more frequent in coming over the last seven or so years. This blog began in the midst of one of them, but I think the periods of turmoil truly began a few years before that when Jeff's Dad was diagnosed (at the age of 59) with an unusual and aggressive form of dementia. He passed away in May of 2007, and walking my husband through his grief was the hardest thing I had ever done. I had no idea what was in store in the coming years.

At the time, my anchor verse was,

"He said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.'"
Job 1:21 (NRSV)

I loved being reminded that everything and everyone I love ultimately belong to God, and that as He gives and takes, I could rest assured that because they are His, He loves them even more than I do, and He will shepherd each of us according to His will.

A year passed, and in May of 2008 we experienced the deepest grief when we found out that Leah would not live past birth. The pain, oh the pain. Getting through the next weeks of pregnancy, the burial, the mourning, the moving forward, and eventually riding the ups and downs of Tommy's adoption process in the midst of grieving eclipsed any difficulty Jeff or I had ever previously experienced. Hope kept us going. Specifically, the hope of the Resurrection, the sure knowledge that our baby lives with Christ, that she has a new body and new citizenship in heaven. The verse we chose for her headstone captured our conviction:

"But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself."
Philippians 3: 20-21 (NRSV)

Directly following Tommy's adoption Jeff had a serious injustice done to him in his work situation (this is not related to his current job, just to be clear), in the midst of this we ended up beginning the adoption process again, which started us upon yet another wild emotional ride. Between the helplessness on the home front with Jeff's job, and the utter lack of control we had of the timing of Nic's adoption and his health and safety during that period, I repeated the following verses many times a day:

"But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands, the helpless commit themselves to you; you have been the helper of the orphan. Break the arm of the wicked and evildoers; seek out their wickedness until you find none. The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations shall perish from his land. O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed, so that those from earth may strike terror no more."
Psalm 10: 14-18 (NRSV)

Then Jeff and Nic got home from Congo. Things were amazing and calm for one whole week before we got the call that Nic's routine blood work showed abnormalities. He was diagnosed with a probable case of SS sickle cell disease. Once again, we faced turmoil as we waited for further testing and for Nic's blood to either stabilize or continue to change. A few months into this process, a friend sent me a card with a Psalm in it. She wrote that when she read those verses she thought specifically of me, and wanted to pass it along.

"For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs; you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place."
Psalm 66: 10-12 (NRSV)

At the time, I was pregnant, but she didn't know that. These verses reminded me that no matter what the outcome of our pregnancy (as the baby's health remained unclear at that point), God had brought us through times of trials before, and he would do it again. Then, as Nic's health continued to be stable and we received confirmation that our next little boy did not have a lethal condition, fool that I was, I thought maybe I was done with trials and had hit that spacious place.

The time between the decisive ultrasound (December 20) and mid-February was pure bliss. Our lives abounded with joy. It was a time of rest and incredible peace for us. Our Christmas break home was amazing. We had wonderful times with our family, and especially with my mom. In retrospect I see what a special gift that was, and I know we will be treasuring those moments and memories of peace and happiness in the coming months. In mid- February we found out that Nic did indeed have sickle cell disease. It was hard, because we were praying for that teeny tiny chance that he didn't, but we were well prepared that he probably did. Then, just a few weeks later, on the day that I was officially downgraded from "high-risk" to a "normal" pregnancy, a day we were celebrating, we got the worst call from my parents. That same day my mom had gone in for some tests because her stomach was bothering her, and they found a big old tumor growing out of her pancreas.

All of our plans have been thrown topsy-turvy, and our lives have been horribly shaken. In all of the hard things that Jeff and I have faced, Mom has been there to support me and hold me up. Now it's my turn to do that for her. As I go home to serve her (as best as a huge pregnant woman with two kids can), and support her through her pain, I will be desperately clinging to the promise that no matter how hard the suffering, no matter how great the trial, a spacious place, a place of abundance, awaits me on the other side. God has brought me out of the pit before, and He will do it again.

This year when I chose my theme word to focus on (something we do in my bible study), I chose abundance. At the time, I thought that meant focusing on counting my blessing in the midst of minor discomforts and uncertainty. I know now that choosing to rejoice this year, to focus on God's abundance to me, is going to be much harder than I ever imagined. The events in the last few weeks (it hasn't been even a month since mom's diagnosis) have altered my imagined course for this year in ways I could never have anticipated. This is going to be one rough year. I am still flailing and trying to regain my bearings. Maybe that's why God placed these verses on my heart, and in my life. Verses to provide hope, and remind me that my hope in Christ anchors my soul in any storm.


Joline said...

Amy . . . I have been working on a blog post about abundance for 2 days now . . . and that was BEFORE I read this. I'm not ready to debut it, but I thought it was worth sharing with you because I love that we are both hearing the same word . . .

Haley said...

Beautiful beautiful words. Praying for the anchors to hold firm.

Christine said...

Amy - An amazing post. We're keeping you all in our prayers.

Also, we're just down the road in San Diego. If you need anything, let us know. We're happy to take the kids for a Saturday to give you a break and let you have time with your mom.