Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How The Best Birthdays Can Be Altars

After reading birthday cards in bed from my Joey and my treasures.

After my Joey gave me a machete (yes, a real machete for all those lovely snakes making way through our farm fields) for my birthday.

After lunch with one of the godliest women I know.

After pizza and friends and candles and cake on the farm.

After an already most lovely day...

My Joey and I, we tucked the kids in their beds. We gathered the stones that we had been collecting into the back of his rusted -old pickup and drove the pickup into the thunder-storm sky, a mere 100 yards from our front porch onto the north field. In the center of it lies a sole tree stump... it's dead but still towers far above our heads.

He set up two red chairs (walmart specials:) in the bed of the pickup. The view was glorious, we could see the dark clouds shifting and beams of light making themselves known through the fog as the sun set over the mountains.

As the weeks have past the kids and I have been reading through the Old Testament. We've shunned at the horrific things that they had to go through... looked into our own hearts and seen ourselves in those doubting Israelites... sat in wonder as the words unfolded the details of our God parting the Red Sea, raining food down from the heavens, quenching their thirst by bringing forth water from a rock of all things.

And my Joey and I, we've been reminiscing of all the times in which God has been faithful to us. Talking about how easily we forget. How the story of the Israelites just might be parallel to the story of our own lives. And throughout the whole old testament the Lord has His people building these altars, places of remembrance. Tangible evidence of His faithfulness.

So with the sunlight disappearing behind the hills, we sat in the back of that old pick up and with a permanent marker we took each stone and remembered. We wrote down things He's walked us through in our 11 years together... the way His presence surrounded us in that hospital room when our first two boys were born. The way he united us, showered peace upon us, taught us to surrender our deepest desires to Him. The way He was with us just the same the day that we met our Siah, the way the room filled with a baby's cry and both our eyes rained with tears of truly unspeakable joy. The way looked at each other in complete awe and gratitude, this time knowing that our little boy was pure gift, 100% miracle. We remembered the way He blessed twice in a year and brought us our Hal. We remembered His financial provision through every season. The times He's brought checks in the mail and food to our table.
We wrote them down and one by one we put them under the towering trunk in the field, our field, the field that to us represents the miracles of Him in our lives.

Once all the stones were laid bare and open under that tree, he took my hand and prayed gratitude... thankfulness for what Christ has done... thankfulness for what he will do... thankfulness for me, his wife for life.

This morning I opened up the Bible at breakfast to where we had left off the previous morning with Joshua leading the Israelites into the promise land and this is what it said...

"When in time to come your children ask you, 'What do these stones here mean?' then you must tell them, 'The Lord our God dried up the water of the Jordan for us here, so that we passed over on dry ground.' And this monument will remind you that the hand of the Lord is mighty and you must fear your God forever." Joshua 4:22

We might not yet have seen the Lord dry up the Jordan so that we can walk over it, but we have for certain seen His faithfulness continuously in our lives. Lord willing we will be on this farm for some years, and now in the center of all that He's provided for us here, there's an "altar." A place where we can continue to write a few words and a date and remember that He permeates this place, these hearts, this family. A place that for years to come, our kids will have a visual tangible reminder that God is trustworthy in all things. A place that we hope will help us never to forget. :)

When he was done praying over us by the tree in the field, he held me long and I whispered with my face up against his,
"This just might be the best birthday yet."