Thursday, December 15, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Caldwells

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”  (Isaiah 7:14 ESV)
The word Immanuel means “God with us” in the Hebrew—the language in which Isaiah’s prophecy was written. Isaiah prophesied this Word from the Lord 700 years prior to Christ’s coming to dwell on earth. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
(Galatians 4:4-5 ESV)
                What is significant about the birth of Christ? Christ came to earth to live a sinless life, to die a sin bearing death on the Cross to redeem a people to Himself. He asks those who desire to be a part of His family to repent of their sin and believe in His good news. Thank you Christ, our savior and master, for saving us from hell and punishment by your death! Thank you for giving us your righteousness and eternal life!
In another sense, Halley and I have felt “God with us” this year in the loss of our son, Josh Jr. We have felt the presence and guiding hand of the Lord throughout this entire ordeal; He is an ever present help in time of trouble! We are still reeling in pain over our little Josh, but we take comfort in the fact that God makes no mistakes. We take the greatest consolation in knowing God has used our loss for His Glory, and we pray He continues this work. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord!
We hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May you take time in all of the gatherings and gift-giving to remember why we celebrate this holiday. We hope you won’t just celebrate yourself because Christmas is not about decorated trees, or family, or gifts, or an enormous guy in a red suit. Christmas is about the Gospel.
Grace and Peace,
                                                  Josh and Halley 

Monday, November 28, 2011

October 23rd

Do you remember where you were doing on October 23rd? Can you tell me what clothes you wore, what you ate for lunch, or any of the thousand minute things you may have done that day?
On October 23rd, my husband and I buried our son.  I will never forget following the hearse to the cemetery.  Josh and I decided that this was the hardest thing that we had ever done. We were mentally preparing ourselves for the upcoming funeral, and I was praying that I could hold it together.  As we turned the corner leaving the funeral home, I looked out the car window to see a young man, roughly our age, walking his dog.  Earlier that day I had seen a sign stating Marshall Wedding Ahead.  I saw a family at the park having a picnic. The world was spinning even though we were at a standstill.
The events of the day, and the ones surrounding it, shook me to my core. It changed who I am, but the majority of the population couldn’t tell you what they ate for lunch that day.  Those events made me think about all of the things that I held of such high importance that now I can’t even remember.
In our selfishness, we make ourselves more important than we are.  That sin causes us to lose our focus and treat God like our servant. I can’t tell you how many times I prayed for things that I wanted, rather than seeking His will for my life. Then there were those times I would worry myself sick over something that was completely about me.  God is not my servant, He is my master. I am His slave; a bondservant whose existence is His.
Francis Chan put it a very good way in his book, Crazy Love. We envision ourselves as main characters in the movie of life, when actually we are the extras in the background.
God used that day to glorify Himself, and He did that in many ways. That was a day of sorrow for our family, but it was a day of joy for the Marshall wedding party. For many others, God moved in their lives and they may not even be aware. But even in all of those events it is never about us.
It is always about Him. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Entrusted to His Father's Care

    It has been several days since my last post, things have been busy around the Caldwell home. For those that have been asking, Josh and I have been doing well. We still have moments of sadness that creep in and unexpected times, as I am sure will continue throughout this journey, but we are still very blessed. God has been faithful to us and shown us much grace. We continue to pray that He use this situation to glorify Himself. He has been nothing but good to us.d
    Its hard not to think about "what might have been" in our situation. I think about that I will never know what color little Josh's eyes were. I will never know his cry, or his favorite food, though I think it may have been chocolate cupcakes because I craved them toward the end of my pregnancy. When you think these thoughts on an earthly level, its hard not to get sad. But I am reminded of one very important thing, he wasn't mine.
     Even if he had lived on this earth, little Josh would not have been ours.His life was entrusted to the care of his Heavenly Father. During my pregnancy my prayer was that God would have His will done over this child. I prayed that his life be one that honored God. God is faithful! God's will was done in our son's life, it did honor God.
     Any parent that you ask will tell you they want more for their children than they were able to have. Josh and I are no exception, we wanted many things for little Josh. I am thankful that God was able to give our child more than we have. Our son is now in his glorified presence of a Holy God. His death has drawn many closer to Christ (including his parents), and above all God's will was done. I couldn't ask more for my son.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Two Weeks Later...

I am copying this from a post from Josh. I could not be more thankful that God has given me such an awesome guy to walk through life with. He is my best friend on this earth. I am grateful that God has given us the strength to go through this trial. I pray that He continues to use this for His glory alone. 

It has been two weeks since October 20, 2011, the day that Halley and I found out we lost our child. I have been reliving the events of that day and my emotions have swelled and burst the wounds I thought were beginning to heal. I remember the medical workers not being able to find a heartbeat, and then driving Halley to Dr. Ghearing’s office. I remember what songs played on the radio on the car ride over. Most vividly, I remember the moment when the doctor told us he couldn’t find a heartbeat during the ultrasound. I was holding Halley’s hand tightly when I felt a dread like flames explode inside my body. I felt everything, but in a way I was numb. I suppose I was in shock. I remember calling my mother and mother-in-law and telling them the sad news we had just received.
From that point, the next three days were a blur of sadness and important events. Halley and I hugged and cried a lot and laughed a little. For the 30 hours we spent in the hospital, we were blessed with excellent care from our nurses and our doctor. I thank God we were also surrounded by the love and support of our family and friends. At last, Halley delivered our little boy. What a bittersweet experience! I was so happy to hold him and dote on him, but I was sad to know that he wasn’t alive for me to teach or play with. In a way, this made the short time I was graced to spend at his side all the sweeter.
            Since then, God has used the death of our son to manifest the glory of His name. How I hope God will use his death to touch the lives of more people!
Halley and I have been enveloped by the love and prayers of the people in our area. What a comfort it is to know there are people who care for us! Most of all, Halley and I are comforted by knowing that God is using the loss of our son to bring people closer to Himself.
            Many people have asked how Halley and I are doing and at this time in our grief, the heights of joy are higher, the valleys of despair are lower, but overall the grief is becoming more manageable. As I reflect on the events of October 20th, I realize I had no idea how significant the occurrences of that day would be to the rest of my life. I am still laid low by thoughts of the person my son would have grown up to be. I would love to be able to sing with him and play toys with him! I miss him so. How is it possible to miss a person as much as I miss my son, though we never met?
The greatest challenge Halley and I face now is knowing we must begin again the process of becoming parents. We were so close. Halley was due to deliver this Sunday. Though I am forever little Josh’s father, I long to care for and parent a child in a conventional way.
But amidst all of the pain and sorrowful thought, I humbly submit to the Sovereign plan of a Good and Almighty God. The Lord has given to us graciously, and at this time He has chosen to take our son away from us. I am not mad at Him; He knows best. I only bow and say, “Blessed Be Your Name.” As the wounds of my grief fester I am renewed by the power of Christ and the hope of the resurrection. I have a peace in Him who is the fountain of salvation, Jesus Christ.
            I would encourage all who let their eye fall on this letter to cling closely to Christ in the midst of suffering. Though you may not be suffering now, make no mistake that those who walk upon the earth for even a small amount of time will find themselves in pain. My wife and I would be without hope or peace if we didn’t have Christ from which to gain strength. I wouldn’t desire any of you to meet a manner of trials without the power of Christ to sustain you. In fact, I don’t know how anyone could endure without the power of Christ! I encourage you to repent and believe the Gospel; If God has not already saved you by His grace. Through Christ you can have this peace—the peace that surpasses all understanding.
            Though Halley and I are still in a great deal of anguish over the loss of our child; the source of our strength is Christ. We see more clearly as days go by that God is using our affliction for His glory. God has also bestowed a good gift on little Josh and his parents! Little Josh has bypassed the sorrows of this world and is in in the arms of the Savior. God has brought this trial into our lives to teach us, make us steadfast, and make us more complete for Christian ministry. In this, we rejoice! (James 1:2-4)
Thank you once again for your prayers, and please message me if you have any questions about the Gospel.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Chief End of God and the Chief End of Man

"I learned when I was a boy that the chief end of man was to glorify God and enjoy Him forever: but I hear now according to the new theology that the chief end of God is to glorify man and to enjoy man forever, yet this is the turning of things upside down. " 

     On my husband’s desktop wallpaper there is a picture of pastor Charles Spurgeon with the above quote. I have seen that wallpaper every time I have entered the office. Each time I have viewed it I thought I knew what it meant, but I was wrong.
     The Westminster Catechism teaches that the chief end of man is to glorify God enjoy Him forever. We glorify God. What does that mean?
If you had asked me two weeks ago, I would have given you a much different answer than I would now. I truly thought that glorifying God involved how much I did for Him. My focus involved judging others regarding their views on life and theology. I pompously placed myself on a different playing field because in my mind I felt I had something figured out that others did not. It was almost as if God had let me in on a secret that the rest of the world wasn’t allowed to understand. But thankfully we serve a sovereign God who exercises grace; even to me in my arrogance.
     I realized that no matter how many books I read or what I did for others, God is still God. We are not saved by our works, but we do work because we are saved to further the kingdom and to honor the will of the Father. Believers are saved by grace that we cannot attain on our own merit, and that grace continues our growth. We don’t do anything, God is everything.
     The Bible compares people to sheep (Isaiah 53:6). For lack of a better term, we are stupid, insignificant, and full of iniquity. We tend to think of ourselves as more important than we truly are. Many of us tend to think that God owes us something. I myself have stood before the Throne of the Almighty with a list of things I expected from God. God does answer prayers, and my life is an example of His mercy, however, just because I pray for something doesn’t mean my prayer will be answered in the manner that I expect it to be. 
     There is a big point that we tend to forget, even Christ in his earthly body did not pray for His own will to be done, but the Father’s (Luke 22:42). This life is not about us. Even in our own lives, God is still the main character. We are to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What God taught me through delivering my son.

I laid in a hospital bed for 30 hours in labor. I was mentally preparing myself for giving birth to my first child that had already passed away. I dreaded that moment, picturing in my head the heartache and pain that would come with delivery. The labor continued on and on with no progress.
I was alone in the hospital room –writhing in pain from a contraction-- wanting to be anywhere else than where I was. I felt as if I was going through all of this pain for nothing. I would have no baby to bring home or dote on.  No announcement, no outfit to bring my child home in…I would get nothing. Still, I felt it needed to happen. Although I knew my child would never take a breath, he needed to be delivered. He deserved an entrance into the world. His life in the womb was significant enough to deserve a delivery. Then it hit me. I thought to myself, “Now I get it!”  
The sacrifice on the cross was very similar, but holds an infinite amount more significance than my small offering to him. That sacrifice put in motion the course of eternity, and redeemed us from the grip of sin. There was no reward at the end. His heart hurt witnessing the sacrifice, but it had to be done.  In order for Christ’s church to be saved, it had to be done.  When Christ said, “Into thy hands I commit my spirit”, there was death --no joy, no praise, only death.  But, through this act of sacrifice, Christ conquered death and claimed victory for His children. That includes Joshua Jr.
When the time finally came to deliver my precious boy, I was overcome with a surprising emotion, one I had not prepared myself for: joy.  God received the glory when he took Joshua Jr., but he also provided the comfort and the promises I need to get through this affliction. He was glorified in our son’s death. Many people have questioned God in a similar trial and there is nothing wrong with questioning God if done in a healthy way. The Psalmist continually questioned God with humility. But I don’t feel the need to question God.  He decided this was best for Josh and I. He decided this trial would bring Him honor and glory.  I can rest knowing that God can take my son from me because He gave His as a sacrifice. I don’t need any other explanation.  God has never been anything but good to our family. His mercy and grace come over us like a flood and He has given us more than what we deserve.
I am thankful that God allowed me to go through this. I have been able to receive a better understand of the gospel that previously I would have ignored, or carried on in complacency.  Josh and I have been called out to greater and higher things, for the sake of the gospel. If God wants our son, then so be it. No explanation required.  I will not ask why my son was called for a different purpose than others, I will only be grateful that God allowed me to witness my little Josh, fulfilling the will of the Father. I couldn’t be a happier mother for that.