Before we moved...two times ago...we lived in the same town for 15 years. We loved it. It was small enough that if we didn't know someone, we knew someone who did.
My husband says there are just two degrees of separation in Arkansas. :)
We lived in a small 3 bedroom house and had 3 kids...and were expecting one more. Getting the mail was a big deal. We had a clear storm door, so I left the big door open a lot so the kids could see out. They loved to watch for the mail-man.
Also...side note: during the Christmas season, whenever we saw a UPS truck out anywhere, Logan would point at it and say, "they bring presents from Santa."
Whatever it takes, man.
And, side note: Logan is also the one who would only eat chicken strips for...oh...8 YEARS or so...and when he was little would go berserk whenever we saw a Tyson's truck on the interstate.
ANYway...we had several different mail people...two older men and a lady...I would usually watch the truck come and then let the kids walk out there with me to get it.
I don't remember really talking too much to the mail-person, other than a "hey, how ya doin'" type of thing.
When Clark was born at 12 1/2 weeks early, Jim and I stayed at the hospital until I was discharged...several days after Clark was born. While I got to come home, Clark had to stay 7 weeks in the NICU. Jim's mom came to our house to stay with the other 3 kids. People sent balloons, and decorated our mailbox with blue ribbons. It was so sweet to see when we got home, but it made me cry. Leaving the hospital without a baby...after HAVING a baby...was so hard.
The next day, the door-bell rang, and it was our mailman...standing there...holding our mail...delivering it to our front door. He said that he'd noticed the balloons and there were several days of mail in the mailbox piling up...he wanted to say "Congratulations." I told him about Clark being born so early, and he was genuinely concerned. He brought our mail to the door every day for the 7 weeks that Clark was in the hospital.
He would ask about Clark's progress each day, and each day I would update him. I would share about God's faithfulness and how the members of our church were ministering to us during this time.
On the day after Clark finally got to come home, I watched for the mail truck. When I saw it coming, I picked up Clark and waited by the mailbox. Mr. Mailman was SO EXCITED to see Clark. I let him hold Clark and it was such a sweet moment.
After that time, I tried to take Clark out periodically to see the mailman. As he got older, Clark knew to watch for him, and would wave and laugh.
When Clark was 2 years old, I discovered a lump in his abdomen that turned out to be cancer...a malignant mass the size of a man's fist in my baby's tummy. I felt sick...like I'd been kicked in the stomach.
The day of our appointment...we were in our little town and things were routine. But that afternoon, we had again called in Jim's mom to stay with our 3 older children...and by that night, Jim and I were in Arkansas' Children's Hospital with Clark, preparing for surgery...chemo...and an unknown future.
We got home a few days after Clark's surgery and his first chemo treatment...it felt like those days had been a dream. A bad dream. I saw the mailman coming and I walked out to the mailbox. He noticed that the mailbox was full, and asked us if we'd been out-of-town. Through tears, I told him about Clark...about the cancer and the surgery. I told him we were sad and scared...and hopeful...and that God had never left our sides.
The mailman got to see Clark during the whole process: after his surgery...after his treatments...and when he lost all of his hair.
It was some time after this...can't remember how long...when Mr. Mailman joined our church. He said he had lost touch with God, but had come back. I don't know if Clark's story had a direct impact on his decision, but I like to think it did.
You know, Jesus died for us when we were still in our sin and so undeserving of His grace and mercy. The Bible says in John 3:16 that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life." God willingly gave up HIS SON...for ME.
And for you.
I couldn't do it. Even tho we saw people come the Lord as a result of Joshua and Clark's life and testimonies...I wouldn't willingly put my kids through the struggles they've had to endure...for someone else. It's not that I don't love people...it's just that I love my family more. That being said, seeing how God used our situations with our children, it made it more bearable. Because we are always taught that God wants good for us...that He has a plan...that suffering is not without a purpose...that He makes beauty out of ashes.
So many times, I think we look at the trials that come our way and ask, "why me?" or "what did I do wrong?"
I believe that while God never wastes an experience and will use it all for His good...sometimes, it's not about us. It might not even be our lesson to learn or about anything to do with us...but He will use all of our circumstances, good and bad, to mold in us a heart like Christ's and to bring others to Him. God sees the big picture. He knows the plan. He will accomplish His purpose, and if we are willing, He will use us.
I alone am GOD! I am God, and there is no one like Me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish...I have said what I would do, and I will do it." Isaiah 46:9-11