Wednesday, April 3, 2013

10,000 Reasons

There's something about Matt Redman's songs that speak to me deeply.  I remember the first time I heard "10,000 Reasons" I choked up as soon as we sang "For all Your goodness I will keep on singing/ 10,000 reasons for my heart to find."  And every time I've sung it since, that line strikes a chord deep within my soul.  It always makes me think of Samuel -- of how thankful I am to be his mom, of how faithful God was throughout Samuel's short life, of how God has grown us and blessed us through Samuel's life and death, of the rich blessings of loving my third son and of handing him over to Jesus, of how grief has refined me and shaped and made me more like the woman God wants me to be, and 10,000 other Samuel-related reasons.  My heart has so, so many reasons to praise God -- ones connected to Samuel and ones that aren't -- but it's the Samuel ones that always spring to mind when I hear this song.  It's the goodness of God in the desert place that unearths such gratitude from me -- the way He turned a desert into fertile soil and grew beautiful things from our sorrow and brokenness.  Only God can do something like that, and I am so thankful.

Lately Anna (who is now 21 months old) has learned parts of this song.  She requests it every time I put her to bed.  She tries to lay her little head on my chest, but my now seriously protruding belly has her sitting on my knees and her head barely reaching the top of my wriggling, kicking belly bump.  Poor kid has no lap to sit on anymore and bedtime rockings are often accompanied by a chorus of ouches from Anna Pea who simply cannot get comfortable.  Once she settles on a position (which never last more than 30 seconds due to that pesky baby sister of hers :) ), Anna lifts her head and asks, "Sun come up?"  So I start singing the opening lines of the song, and Anna chimes in with me, asking, "Anna sing too?"  She sings in this high-pitched squeal with absolutely no sense of the rhythm, but many of the words are correct.  It melts my heart, and I grin my entire way through the song, struggling to hang on to the melody and tempo as Anna is so completely off.  It's priceless: praising Jesus with my daughter.  It is hands down one of my favorite things ever.  And when we get to that line, I am flooded with gratitude for Anna's big brother, for Anna our little healer, for "Belle" who will soon add even more layers to that healing, and for how God will someday redeem the hard parts of Anna's life as He has redeemed the hard parts of mine.  It's a washing joy that pours over me as Anna I together declare the Lord's goodness. 

As I approach the end of this pregnancy (I'm 35 weeks, and we are still nowhere near ready for Belle's arrival), there have been numerous times when my memories of Samuel have reared up unexpectedly.  In general people tend to give me weird looks when they see me with the big boys, Anna, and my huge belly.  I think people believe I'm crazy to be having another child.  Honestly, it's been a little shocking and unsettling to Bryan and I to see how often people judge us for having another child.  There is some mental line between 3 and 4 kids, apparently.  It's on the bigger side of normal to have 3 kids, but 4 is just plain irresponsible.  Or at least that's the message we often get.  I keep thinking, "If they only knew that this is really our 5th!  What if Samuel was alive and walking with us.  What kind of looks would we get then?" 

And then there is the frequent question: "Is this your 1st?" if I happen to be alone, or more often when I'm with just Anna and they've already asked me if I'm having a boy or girl, "Two girls, huh?"  I have not yet found a satisfactory answer.  In one day I tried three different responses, and none of them really worked.  "Actually it's my 5th" is almost always followed by, "what are the ages of the other 4?"  And then I make the stranger feel visibly uncomfortable when I say, "7 1/2, 5 1/2, our third son would be 3 1/2 but he is no longer living, and 21 months."  Not 10 minutes later I tried, "Well, we had three boys first, then a girl, and now this one", but it lead to the same line of questioning.  After trying more variations of this answer in one day and making every single inquirer squirm, I broke down and said, "Well, there are two older brothers as well", but it sat terribly with me, and I felt just wrong about leaving Samuel out for convenience.  It's such a simple question, but there is no simple answer.  When all the kids are with me, and it's obvious that I'm having at least my 4th child, I just smile when people say "Two boys and two girls.  How perfect."  I don't mention that there's another brother in the family, and I'm ok with it, but I do wonder how it feels to Caleb and Joel not to hear me acknowledge Samuel.  And though 2 boys and 2 girls is pretty wonderful, it's not perfect.  Someone is missing.  Strangers can't possibly know that, of course, and I don't blame my friends and acquaintances when they say the same thing because I know that they mean well and are rejoicing in "Belle."  But it does always tug at my heart because I miss that middle child of ours, and we are not complete without him.

Despite the hole Samuel's absence leaves, more than anything his life gives me cause to declare with joy and gladness "10,000 reasons for my heart to find! Bless the Lord, oh my soul.  Ohhhhh, my soul.  Worship His holy name.  Sing like never before.  Oh, my soul.  I'll worship His holy name."  Our God is good and great and worthy of every ounce of praise in my heart.  And His overwhelming kindness in bestowing Samuel on us -- that alone generates 10, 000 reasons for my heart to praise His name.

(If you haven't heard the song, you can listen here:

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