Q: This is too small to read!
A: That’s not really a question. But you can click on the puzzle and it opens a pdf file which can be printed on letter-sized paper.
Q: Why a puzzle for James’s first birthday?
A: It is puzzling.
Here are some photos from James’s first birthday party. The cakes were provided by our friends John and Jen, who have recently begun a new cake decorating venture. As you can see, they are insanely talented. Aside from some neighbors and friends from church, we were delighted that one of James’s nurses from the NICU days stopped by with her husband, as well as James’s occupational therapist, and a former colleague of Abby’s from Oviedo High School who also had a high-risk delivery at Winnie Palmer while we were there.
And the video recap of James’s first year… drumroll…Our Journey, Our Journey (chronological) | Comments (4)
Categories: Meditations on Scripture, Our Journey, Our Journey (chronological).
How starved must all of our faithful readers be! Well, James was 5 ounces shy of 14 pounds yesterday morning, and last week his mom and her parents took him out to get some portraits made. Here is an example of what our little man does when the camera starts flashing:
There are many more pictures, and if you want to see them all, you’ll just have to make your way to Winter Springs this Saturday and come to his first birthday party! It’s so hard to believe it’s only been 12 months. It seems like a lot longer than that for me.
Our excuse for not attending to this blog more regularly is that James is mostly doing okay (although the gas situation after his feeds seem to be worse) and we’ve been pretty busy planning for this party, as well as for an event the next day where our church is serving dinner at the Ronald McDonald House where we used to live. That should be pretty cool.
I’m also pretty busy piecing together some short little video clips we’ve made of James over the past year for a little presentation we’ll show at the party. It’s pretty interesting seeing how this little stick with a tube stuck up his nose grows into the little man you see pictured above.
The look back also reminds me of my tendency towards depression and defeatism.
I found some interesting things recently reading Genesis 32: 24-30:
And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”
This is a crazy story in a number of ways.
The first surprising thing is that this mystery man is identified as God, and God is sovereign. And sovereignty pretty much by definition is all about not being constrained to act in any particular way by anyone or anything; an attribute of God which, on the surface, seems to be relaxed in the context in this passage as Jacob pins and holds this God-man down and demands a blessing. Although a mere touch has dislocated Jacob’s hip, the man seems constrained to comply with Jacob’s demand to bless him, as well as give the name-changing confirmation that he has indeed “striven with God… and prevailed.” That’s a pretty mind-bending concept right there.
Another surprising thing, and the thing that I immediately notice when I read this story, is that Jacob maintains his superhuman hold on God after his hip has been dislocated. Maybe he doesn’t know that it’s really God at this point in the story, but I sure do think if he did, and if he were anything like me, the story would have been over right there. The place would not be called Peniel, but whatever the Hebrew is for “this is where God, who I used to think was on my team, ambushed me and dislocated my hip.” That might be a little extreme, but it sure is a difficult thing to embrace God’s sovereignty when life turns difficult corners. Because God is in direct supervision over some horrible things. James’s holoprosencephaly is just one example; I just learned yesterday that my college roommate and best man who has been through brain cancer may have a recurrance. How are any of us able to deal with these things? I know some Christians are theologically comfortable disassociating these sorts of events from the will of God, but I don’t find much Scriptural basis to their argument. (Nor, incidentally, is there much hope in the hour when deliverance is most needed, if God is not the author of the storm.)
I don’t feel like I hold a grudge against God, exactly, but it is a sort of like a complaint that resonates with Job in chapter 9:
“If I summoned him and he answered me, I would not believe that he was listening to my voice. For he crushes me with a tempest and multiplies my wounds without cause; he will not let me get my breath, but fills me with bitterness…. if it is not he, who then is it?” (Job 9:16-24)
It’s amazing that after 29 more chapters of this sort of stuff that God does actually answer Job, and remarkably in a way that demonstrates that he has been listening. But I digress, because the second crazy thing about this passage with Jacob is that he doesn’t cry out in defeat and lament the fact that his God just did him bodily injury. He keeps fighting! “I will not let you go until you bless me!” Faith fights and does not give up on God’s blessing. This is an inspiring story to me, because I’m not much of a wrestler, either physically or in this little complaint I have with the Lord. My father in law and James’s namesake recently told us he thinks James will be able to walk someday. And maybe he will. But I don’t tend to think that optimistically. I’m working on that.
And the final crazy thing is how Jacob assesses the whole encounter. He may as well have been Beowulf tearing off Grendel’s arm or Hercules cleaning the Augean stables by diverting rivers with his hands. He has just wrestled with God. And prevailed. But in the morning he does not flex his heroism, or even celebrate the fact that he has a new name, but remembers the early morning hours rather humbly: “I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”
And that’s where I’m trying to get to. There’s an aspect to walking by faith, it seems to me, that resists both pride (“check out how awesome I am… I pinned God all night long!”) and defeatism (“ouch! That’s my hip! What the heck are you trying to do to me, God?”). It holds fast to the truth that God is good, even in seasons when the bread we ask for seems to be given as stones. But at the end of the day for me, the overwhelming thing about God, in the sense that it overwhelms the magnitude of my complaint, is that he chose to look upon this sinner and clothe him with the righteousness of Christ. I would do well to frame every difficult providence in my life in the context of a suffering much greater — the work of Christ on my behalf that He took on with far greater pain to himself in his death on a cross. In the same way that Jacob (Israel) declared, “I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered,” the apostle Paul speaks on behalf of all those who have found God’s redemption in Christ:
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16)
To our dear fan base that has waited weeks for an update on James, I must apologize. Part of this blog is also about James’s parents and their own developmental journey, and one of my developmental goals is to come out of a wrestling match with a faith like Jacob’s. While doing this video project for the party did show me how far James has come, it also reminded me of a lot of pain.
Looking back over one year, I don’t think I responded to this pain with the perseverance of Jacob, although I do feel like I asked God for a blessing, and God has showed up, in a sense. In a way that does cause me to think he has heard my voice. This is a long enough post; that will have to be shared another day.Meditations on Scripture, Our Journey, Our Journey (chronological) | Comment (1)
Church folk…nurses…therapists…doctors…neighbors…old friends…new friends…all locals who consider themselves friends of James: Mark your calendars. There will be plenty of cake!Our Journey, Our Journey (chronological) | Comments (6)