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Adult/ Last Section

11 Jul

DSC_0849What Jay said at Isaac’s memorial service:

Hello, I am Jay Miller, Isaac’s Dad.  To all of you who are Isaac’s friends, I invite you to our home.  Stop in and talk any time in the weeks, the months, the years ahead.  Deborah and I would love to hear your stories about Isaac, and about yourselves. You also come with beautiful  purposes  written on your hearts, written on your souls, with possibilities only you can hold.

We spent years loving and raising Isaac and awoke last Saturday to news of his death.  Immediately devastating.  Long-term life changing.  The precious, the irreplaceable—gone.

The law of sowing and reaping works even if one ignores it. Like gravity, it does not care if you are a Christian.  My hope is in God’s word: that in everything God works for good for those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.

The death of a young person tests our convictions.  His death forces our real beliefs into the open.  What is the meaning of life?  Can Isaac’s death fit into it?

I serve a God of love and mercy who raised Jesus from the dead.  Isaac’s whole life with us, and even before he came to us, was surrounded with grace and with God moving powerfully on his behalf.  The loving merciful God kept our boy from an early death in Bolivia and placed him in a loving family.  God gave him many friends, great experiences and opportunities, and meaningful work.

Our culture says that Isaac’s life was cut short, that his life was incomplete.  Those thoughts assume we are masters of our own destiny.  It assumes we can fix ourselves rather than God fixing us.

I will not let Isaac’s death erase the joyful memories of years gone by.  God’s word says not one sparrow falls to the ground without our Father’s notice.

To find our own meaningfulness we must acknowledge our Creator.  It is good for us to know we can do nothing.  Why should we think death stumps God?  It stumps us, not him. God does not make mistakes.  He decided Isaac completed his purpose here on earth.   Who is like God?  Not one of us.  God had a good plan for Isaac.

As a childless couple we waited and suffered for years before Isaac came to us. We had him with us twenty years.   We believe we will all be together again in our far home.  Our best wishes for you would be that you would be there, too.

__________

1 Corinthians 15

35 But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” 36 What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. 37 And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. 38 Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. 39 Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.

40 There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. 41 The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory.

42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die,[j] this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.[k]
55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?[l]

56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Adoption/Ransom

5 Jul

10

The following is the text of what I shared at Isaac’s memorial service, Saturday, 29 June 2013.  The bits of poetry are excerpts of lyrics from Sarah Groves’ “Add To The Beauty“, which played while the photos for this section were shown.

Scripture readings:

Isaiah 61

61 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek. He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound,

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn,

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.”

Daniel 4

New Living Translation (NLT)

1a “Peace and prosperity to you!

“I want you all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God has performed for me.

How great are his signs,
how powerful his wonders!
His kingdom will last forever,
his rule through all generations.

_______________

God’s love and intervention in the lives of three people rippled out to include all of you. It is an adventure story full of suffering, delays, plot twists, mysteries:

  • The same week I mournfully defiantly wrote of trusting God’s goodness and grace in our suffering, our barren childlessness, a boy baby was born in a far away land
  • God sent us dreams that changed a man’s mind and gave hope to a woman that she had not been forgotten
  • How in the world did we get the information and contacts needed for all this to happen before the age of computers, cellphones, the internet?
  • How did that boy get in that orphanage?
  • How did we choose “He laughs” (Isaac) as our son’s name before we ever met him?
  • In what way was Isaac the first and the last in Oruro, Bolivia?

 

We come with beautiful secrets
We come with purposes written on our hearts, written on our souls
We come to every new morning
With possibilities only we can hold, that only we can hold

 

God had a beautiful secret for Isaac. He brought Isaac from a far off land to set him in a family. Being his Mom and Dad was one of the purposes written on our souls.  It was not easy.  Until his death, walking the road to the day of his legal adoption here in the US was the most difficult time of our lives.

 

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

 

December 17th, 1992 we arrived at a poor, run-down state orphanage in Oruro, Bolivia. There was no glass in the windows. There was nothing but abject poverty.  Children slept on mats on the floor and were fed potatoes.

 

Eventually we were handed a small, ugly, sick Aymara Indian/Hispanic boy. He was severely malnourished and covered with pox scars.  Three weeks shy of two years old he was 29 inches long and weighed 19 pounds. He had a lung infection. He could not walk or speak. There is no doubt in my mind he would not have lived a year in that orphanage.

 

And I want to add to the beauty
I want to tell a better story,
Shine with the light
That’s burning up inside

 

He was named Misael Rodrigo Patino.   I have never met another living soul named Misael.  Misael was the name of one of the three faithful boys taken with Daniel into Babylon to be trained as administrators. Renamed Meshach, he was one of the young men who went into the fiery furnace and then walked out alive. Misael means:  Who is like God?

 

Beauty comes in helping a soul find it’s worth.

 

God gave us a tremendous gift.  He chose our son for us.

 

You are invited for the weeks and months and years ahead to call, visit, write if you wish to know more and share your story with us.

 

We thank the Almighty for His love, mercy and grace to Isaac and to us, for opening the way to him, and forging us as a family through the trials it took to make him our son.

44

 

 

Friday, June 21, 2013

3 Jul

Tuesday morning the dog and I took our usual morning walk.  A wet dragonfly with a gold racing stripe down its back condescended to be picked up from its wet grassy site and carried perched on my fingers for a ways until the sun dried it off and it flew away.  A few enterprising young spiders had built lovely intricate webs across the pathway that we have made up through the meadow, it is a great runway for catching insects, too, so I veered around them further into the tall grass.  In the hedgerow along the lane two adult turkeys and I startled each other.  They ran out into the corn field on the other side of the hedgerow.

Tuesday mid-afternoon T. and I watched a large tractor fitted with three large mowers—one in front and two on either side in the rear—quickly cut all the lower meadow.  Once the tall grass was down it was easy to see the patches of ripe wild strawberries and graze on them.  We went on an errand.  By the time we returned, both upper and lower meadow had been shorn. The tractor was gone, all was quiet again.  Numerous long, wide, neat, flat rows of the cuttings lay on the short stubble, quite the manicured look.

When Hawthorne and I took our walk the next morning, I spent most of my time walking around the fields finding patches of wild strawberries, snacking.  The rest of the time was spent watching and wondering if the Bobolink broods had fledged prior to the destruction of their nests. I counted at least eight birds feeding and landing, some of which were smaller and had the needy gestures of young birds and some of which were larger and noisier and acted like parents.  So I am hopeful.

Late Wednesday morning another large tractor returned, this one outfitted with a machine which swept and turned the rows of grass into large windrows. Only four for the lower meadow.  Then later in the afternoon a truck and tractor with a chopper came and chopped the vast windrows into the trucks.  The haylage was taken to feed cows at the large dairy which rents these fields.

In such short periods of time so much can change.

Around here Jay has been ill for a week with a fever and severe head and neck aches.  By this morning he had lost 5% of his body weight and was in pain even with analgesics.  We had gone to the doctor Monday; this morning the Dr. sent us to the ER where we spent about ten hours.

________________

It is now Wednesday, 3 July 2013.

I wrote the last sentence above after returning home late; Jay was admitted to hospital Friday night, tentatively diagnosed with Lyme disease.  Too tired to explain to finish a blog post, I got ready for bed.  Isaac called at 11.20 to ask about his father and planned to visit Jay in hospital Saturday afternoon.

Saturday morning, June 22nd, I woke at 5.45AM to the sound of a vehicle driving in the driveway and Hawthorne barking madly.  State troopers were at the door.

Our son Isaac, 22, was killed in a motor vehicle accident at about 2.30AM Saturday morning.  He drove into a tractor trailer.  His BAC was 0.23%.

No Red Efts

13 Jun

 

The restless wind woke me up early, due in part to a mirroring, echoing turmoil inside me.  This time of year it really is light enough to walk at 5.30AM, so out Hawthorne, Pounce and I went.
The year my brother became ill was when I first really noticed the red efts.  They appeared any warm mid-May  morning in the northern edge of the corn field from the woods.  Damp encouraged, rather than deterred them. Their numbers swelled to a couple dozen eft individuals for a few days, then gradually dropped to single digits, disappearing for another year by the end of June.
My brother’s birthday was June first.  Since his death, it has seemed to me that peak numbers of efts occur around and on this date.  They are tiny blazing bits of color; living, moving, breathing exclamation points.  ”  I am here.  Small, insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  Beautiful.  Dutiful.”
Efts , for me, exude hope and beauty.  They are a blessing-  they bring happiness and joy.  They indicate our lives have purpose and meaning.  God has given me life.  How shall I spend it?
A line in one book  read over a few months this winter still has me thinking: ‘We tend to forget that time is linear, that a new day will come.”
This is so true of me.  Most days it seems time is not marching on, but dragging baggage into today from the days before.  Or from months ago.  Or years gone by.
It may be a new day, but the worries come from a series of yesterdays.
What could I have done differently so we would not find ourselves in this hard place?  Could I have done anything?
We did the best we could, we put one foot in front of the other: how did we come to this bog?
It is now mid-June. There has not been one red eft out in the field-woods boundary.  Nor in the woods.  Each day I scout the ground for one.  I forget to look up at the running clouds and twirling sky, at the newly-dressed trees massing like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in their finest before a concert.  And they are waving to get my attention.
Where are those little sparks of hope?  I keep looking for them thinking they may be what can buoy my spirit with beauty.  And each day almost miss the meadow grass, now blooming and hip deep, or the elderly cat coming through those green waves to be carried and cosseted, or the first poppy popping.
God brings new blessings, new beauties and hopes as time marches on. They may not look like last year’s.  The blessings may come disguised.
At the far end of the field, as I pondered all these things, something caught my eye: a living red-orange exclamation point, a blazing beauty mark  glanced back at me from the dark soil.

 

The Light of Christ

20 Dec

An Advent piece I wrote in 2004.

 

Isaiah 9:1-2, Matthew 4:12

 

Let’s walk out and meet the morning.  It is an hour or more before dawn.  Wear lots of layers — it is cold outside. How dark it is!  We can distinguish the dark grey of the road, the black trees, the lumps of houses, and the midnight blue night sky — impenetrable save for the diamond stars.  Careful — stay on the road — without a light it is easy to stumble in the dark.  There are countless stars shining their feeble light like shiny bits of glass on dark velvet.  And up above us is the Milky Way.  The Incans thought it was the road to heaven. They did their best to find a path to God in the dark.

 

If we keep moving we will eventually warm up. You probably know that most ancient nations believed the sun was a god.  Many myths anticipate some aspect of Jesus’ coming.  The Aztecs thought only human blood sacrifice would keep the sun rising each day. The Incans chose special children to be messengers to the sun.  The Greeks have the story of Helios daily driving his chariot of the sun through the sky dragged by fiery horses.  Though his father tried to save him, Phaeton, Helios’ human son, wanted to be just like Dad and tried one day to drive the sun chariot.  The result was chaos and destruction for earth and death for Phaeton.  All peoples were walking in darkness, longing to know God.

 

Look– the eastern sky is becoming pale.  The dark and the stars fade.   Truth is stranger than any fiction.  From time’s beginning the Triune God planned the death of His only begotten son to bring mankind redemption through a new covenant.   Jesus stepped off His throne and came to us robed in flesh as a human baby.  The road to heaven is through Him–God’s messenger to mankind.  He came not as an equal to His Father, but as a servant, laying down his life. He fulfilled man’s longing.  The sky displays the majesty of a god coming: just above the horizon is a pale butterscotch; the clouds overlaying it are bright fuchsia and an incandescent orange.  All stories were swept away by the True Son’s coming just as the veil of night is swept away by the sun’s rising.  Jesus, the Great Light,  came to all who live in the land of the shadow of death.

 

Wow–Look at that sky!  Dark rose and pink now spread high up into the clouds in the eastern sky, and are reflected even in the west. A scarlet thread of light is seeping, bleeding across the dark horizon’s edge. Each dawn is a symbol of the mercy and forgiveness available to all through the blood of Christ. The sun shines on all people.  It gives light and heat even if hidden by stormy weather.  Just so, God’s redeeming love is available to all, regardless of circumstances.   Now we people of the Light prepare our hearts anew to celebrate the coming of our King of Light.  Let us shine His glory upon those around us who still walk in darkness and live in the shadow of death.  Dawn has come; God Himself came to be with us.  The sky is turning golden– here comes the great light once again.

 

Angels We Have Heard

19 Dec

There are quite a few scripture passages about people being afraid when they see angels.  And the angels are not described, so we assume

they look human-like. Winged messengers from God.  But what if:

There are giant chicken angels over the one small nativity we have out so far this year.

One of the visiting chickens, a Red Comet, accidentally stayed outside Thursday night when there were high winds.  Jay found her Friday morning wandering by the side of the house and returned her to the coop. We think she spent the night in the giant rhododendron. Chickens are not meant to spend the night out-of-doors in the cold winds. There were small spots of blood on the snow where she walked.  Her back end was icy.

Yet she seemed OK until Saturday  late in the day when Jay noticed she was not eating and was hanging apart from the other hens.  She was very light.  He moved her into a pen in the basement, warmer, dry.  Jay coaxed her to start drinking; she was interested but kept falling asleep–or was very hypothermic.  Eventually she started drinking, then drinking with gusto, then eating again; wheat, corn meal, apple.  I put her out with the others this morning.

MSG and emotional volatility

10 Oct

For some time I have suspected that the emotions of our daughter may be influenced by MSG.

She really likes ramen noodles.  The taste of them, rather.  Those little flavor packets containing MSG high up on the ingredient list.

Myself, I get migraines if too much MSG is ingested.  Since I cook most of our food from scratch, that leaves only snack-type stuff.  Which we do not routinely have in the home.

The girl didn’t think MSG had any impact.  So Saturday lunch we ran a little test.  She had ramen.  I added a half cup of homemade salsa, and a bit of onion and carrot.  She complained that they did not taste like they should.  It seems she uses half the water the recipe calls for.  Hmm.

In nine hours time she was saying things she should not have.  Then bedtime.

The next morning (Sunday) the extreme emotional volatility continued until about 6.00 PM.  It was a day of hell.

My few minutes of research on Pubmed this morning indicates 1)L-glutamate is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS).  This paper indicates that if the glutamate removal system is impaired, your retina (ergo your eyesight) will suffer.  Not to mention the neurotransmitter will just keep those neurons firing.

2) MSG is used to induce metabolic syndrome (obesity and its attendant characteristics) in lab animals.

3) Exposure to glutamate in young lab animals can induce seizures (think epilepsy).  Makes sense: an exitatory neurotransmittor set loose in a young, still  forming brain…

4)MSG is used as the agonist (stimulator) of choice where measurements of specific brain activity in research mice where measurements are needed.

 

Today, it must be noted, she was sweet as pie.  And she seems more amenable, at this time, about watching the contents of what she eats.

 

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