Last week Dawn and I went on our first ministry trip since the coronavirus hit. Next week we will be traveling to La Paz, Mexico to meet with our church planters. Things are slowly opening up. At first, I was going to write a post more focused on our ministry activities and all that the Lord is doing, but this morning as I was praying the Lord reminded me that this Sunday, October 18th will mark four years since our daughter, Hannah died (or as we like to say, she moved to heaven). It is less painful when we say she moved to heaven.
It wasn’t that I had forgotten that we were coming upon this painful day of remembrance, it was more that it was highlighted to me this morning. I began to reflect, and I thought it would be appropriate to share some of my reflections with you here.
My Reflections About Hannah & Our Healing
This is what I wrote in my journal today, and I feel a little like I’m opening up my soul to you. What’s going on inside of me.
My prayer to the Lord, “this is a hard week as we remember Hannah moved to heaven. I miss her so much, and I wish that it wasn’t true. I wish there was something that I could do to turn back the clock and change it all. Sadly, that is not an option.
Life has not been easy without Hannah. We do have our hope of heaven. Our hope of seeing her again. We have the hope of knowing she is with Jesus, filled with joy. Now both of my parents have joined her.
After Hannah died I hoped that we’d get a pass on the hard things in life, but that has not been the case. Both of our boys, David and Jonathan have battled with some significant health issues over the last year. Dawn has struggled to sleep at night. It’s not been easy!
In our ministry I do believe that we’ve seen an increase and a deepening. I’m encouraged by what the Lord is doing. Yet, that’s not to say that we haven’t faced opposition and difficulties along the way.
The Lord’s Redeeming Work!
The Lord is good! He is faithful and that has gotten us through. We live between these two worlds of faith and hope on the one side and trials and difficulties on the other.
I continue to pray for the Lord’s redeeming and restorative work. I do believe that we have seen a measure of that. We’ve grown to know the Him in ways I doubt we would have ever grown to know Him. Yet, I wish it didn’t have to be this way.
I love that Jesus is called the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief this is comforting. There are passages in the Bible that I used to skim over that have become alive to me.
Confident That Jesus Will Complete What He Started
This morning in my devotional reading I happened to be reading Philippians 1. I’ve always been drawn to Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” In fact, this verse is inscribed on Hannah’s headstone.
As I continued to read through Philippians 1 today I was struck with Paul’s struggle as he longed to be with Christ in heaven, but felt it was better for the church that he stay longer.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.Philippians 1:21-26 NIV (emphasis mine)
I love Paul’s passion for Christ. I pray that I would share that burning love. Hannah’s death forced me to think about life and death in ways that I had never contemplated. There’s a sense in which it woke me up to the hope and the realities of heaven.
As I mentioned above I’ve prayed for the Lord’s work of healing in our lives. I believe the Lord has and is answering that prayer through special people who have become like family to us. I wrote about our Mija Monse in my last post. The Lord has given us some wonderful family in Mexico and Cuba. Friends who we minister with and encourage that often call us dad and mom. I don’t fully understand, but that does fill us up. I believe in many ways that these relationships are only going to grow and deepen. The Lord is going to continue to expand our spiritual family, which also extends our reach. I praise the Lord for His tender and loving mercy shown through our familia.
One way that we’ve recently experienced the Lord’s healing work of restoration is that David and Emily told us we are going to be grandparents to a baby girl! Our first grandchild! And the news came at a good time. It lightened the load in way as we head into this season when we remember when Hannah departed from this world.
David and Emily told us that they would like to name their daugther, Serafina Grace. I love all the thought they put into this name. Serafina is Italian and Spanish for Seraphim. One of the angels of God. The Seraphim or Serafina angels surround God’s throne and worship Him. They are referred to in Isaiah 6.
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;Isaiah 6:1-3 NIV
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
One of the reasons David and Emily want to name their daughter Serafina is since Hannah is in heaven it’s a way to honor her and remember her. Serafina was also the name of one of my great grandmothers on my dad’s side. David and Emily told my dad that they wanted to name their daughter Serafina just two days before dad joined Hannah and Serafina in heaven. My dad cried with them when they shared this news as he loved the idea. Just a little over a day after they told dad he joined Hannah and Serafina in heaven. I think this is one of the reasons my dad died in peace.
Serafina’s middle name will be Grace. Hannah means grace and favor. So we just love this name. We are already in love with little Serafina and we are praying for her and Emily daily. She is due on April 30th, and Hannah was born in April on the 9th.
We are very excited and we give thanks for the Jesus and His work of love in our lives and in the life of our family!
Pray & Extend Your Hands to Help Our Familia
Before I say goodbye I would like to ask you to not only remember our family as you pray for us, but remember our familia as well. We just spoke to our familia on the Big Island in the last few days, and a number of them are getting sick with dengue. We have friends that are in the hospital due to dengue. We asked them about medicine, and they told us that there wasn’t any medicine. The scarcity continues, and it appears to be even getting worse. Our familia is in need and your generosity goes a long way on the Big Island. Please, extend your hands and give to these needs. Help to provide food and basic needs for our friends and familia!
In His Grip, Dave