This past week was a blur. Mark flew to DC for a business trip so, naturally, Ryan and I flew up to the District to get a little QT with Daddy in before his final return on August 17th. We spent the last Saturday of July celebrating cousin Clark’s third birthday in what must be the best planned soiree for 3-year-old children I’ve ever attended. My sister-in-law, Kate, is an amazing wedding planner. Check out some of this stuff…
Umm…yes…in the event you’re curious…that IS a glittering chandelier made of wine corks saved by the bride and groom and beautifully assembled by Kate. This girl’s the Team USA of wedding planners and she does it with a group of other talented (and neurotically organized) ladies at Simply Chic Events. So you can imagine that when she puts together a “casual” birthday party for her son and 50 of his closest friends, it’s pretty well done. Clark’s construction-themed party even included safety cones stolen from a nearby construction site (that was me and Mark’s contribution to the decoration! Ha!). Here’s our adorable little dude enjoying the festivities:
We’re so grateful to have Scott and Katie nearby in Leesburg and really excited to watch Clark and Ryan grow up together. The rest of the week was spent meeting with potential employers, toting Ryan around DC to show him off to friends and colleagues, stealing every spare minute with Mark that we could, spending afternoons at the pool and evening walks at the National Zoo. We had fun and it was great to spend time as a family in the city we call home. During Ryan’s morning naps I focused intently on reading and prayer. I’m not saying this to appear “holier than thou” but rather to explain that what began as a practical endeavor has turned more spiritual than planned. I’ve quickly realized how much time I’ve spent reading the Bible as a chronicle of events rather than a novel filled with emotion, drama and scandal.
Take Eve, for example.
To begin, she’s the first woman ever. EVER. Can you imagine? Women are uniquely social and thrive in a web of relationships …. but all she had was God, Adam and that damn serpent to talk to. I love Mark and I love God even more, but a day without sisters or girlfriends or my mom and I’m a wreck. I need women in my life. It’s no wonder that she found the serpent so appealing. I adore that while she messed up and ate the apple, God comes to the garden and asks to speak with Adam. While I struggle with a lot that the Bible has to say about the relationship between men and women, I revel in the knowledge that God holds men accountable for their family’s behavior. (Insert evil, unaccountable laugh here)
So Eve gets married and preggo and has Cain and Abel. Then Cain kills Abel. Really!?!? What would you do? I think of my Grandma Markle and how she would have handled my father killing my Uncle Korey (or vice versa, sorry Korey, didn’t mean to kill you off like that!). While I’m sure they nearly wrestled one another to death as kids, the emotional struggle that a mother would endure seems insurmountable. The time spent playing mental games of what-if and re imagining your present circumstances with the other child present…it would become an endless cycle for me. My Uncle Mickey died before I was born, but his presence was never far from my Grandma Ryan. In every conversation we had, it was clear that the burden of his loss never left her completely. Mourning became a hidden personality trait for my Grandma, always tinting her worldview and shaping her words without ever verbally acknowledging its influence.
After the loss of Cain, Eve gets pregnant again and has another son, Seth. To this Eve responds:
God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.
My heart nearly stopped. If I lost Ryan, I could never accept another child as a gift from God “in place of” him. Perhaps “in addition to,” but not “in place of”. Ryan is not expendable. Whether this is an accurate account of Eve’s exact emotions at the time, I am not sure. Something tells me that, as a woman and a mother, she probably had more than a sentence to share with God about the whole ordeal. However her story reminds me of a deeply terrifying loss that my sister and her husband experienced when they lost the battle to adopt a little boy that God had called them to love as their own and later were granted the unbelievable opportunity to raise Maya, the coolest, sweetest and most profound woman I’ve yet to meet. Trust me: this little girl with change the world with love.
Why did our Heavenly Father sign Eve up for such suffering? Why did He sign Meghan up for hers? Why did He take away only to give again? I’m not sure of these answers, but I’m amazed at Eve’s gratefulness to God for His gifts and her complete acceptance that the One who gives can take away. The name Seth means “granted” or “appointed”.
Perhaps by channeling Eve’s gratefulness I too can be at peace with God’s blessings. When I listen to Ryan’s breaths, it is too often with anxiety rather than a grateful heart. Too often I worry about his development rather than rest easy in the knowledge that God has given me a perfect gift— and I better enjoy it today because He offers us no promise of tomorrow. Eve teaches us that a grateful heart frees us up to accept the past and live in the present thereby allowing us to endure unthinkable challenges and loss. Through her sin, we also learn that an ungrateful heart creates unthinkable challenges and loss.
Easier said than done. Gratefulness does not come easy to me. I like to attribute my successes to my own hard work. As if I captured my smokin’ hot husband on my own. I didn’t. God’s hands are all over our marriage and He’s working on us and in us every day to bring us closer together and closer to Him. I like to think that my career, academic success and family life are also the products of commitment, hard work, and self-sacrifice. That’s simply not the case. God placed people at every step to push me along, encourage me, and challenge me. He recruited my sister (the same sweet one, Meghan, as above) into His kingdom so that our whole family could be restored. While I may verbally give credit to God, it’s all too often for show. In my heart, I’m patting myself on the back with pride and a swollen head. Perhaps it’s the independent, free-thinking streak God placed in me. Doesn’t it seem that our God-given gifts and talents often provide us with spiritual challenges? I’m only one woman into this endeavor and I’ve already got a lot of work to do.
Speaking of work to do… I have some worldly commitments to fulfill this evening before dozing off. Better get to it.
Lots of love,
P.S. I looked up Genesis 4:25 in NLT, KJV and the Message. All of them use the phrase “in place of”. I’m still not certain that this one sentence can fully encompass what Eve was feeling and I’m therefore not interpreting it as a message about the replaceable nature of people.