Friday, November 1, 2013

Sermons from Stones

Five days after my daughter was born, I sat in her NICU "stall" and cried. Kind of a lot. She held my finger while she slept and I pumped milk from my sore, tired body. I didn't know how to be her mom or what to do to love her, so I sat there and gave her my finger and pumped milk. The NICU is so serious, but it is also very boring and eventually, I pulled out one of the books that my husband kept there to read to her when he visited. Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb, the book features several of Shakespeare's plays in story form meant to be read to and by young children. I am by no means a Shakespeare scholar (though my husband is on his way to being one), but I decided to read one of these stories while I sat with my daughter. I know little enough about Shakespeare, in fact, that it took me several tries to find one that seemed to be a "comedy" -- I was not in the mood for tragedy that day. I landed on As You Like It, and things got interesting.

When my daughter was born, we knew right away that something was very wrong. We learned later (after an ambulance ride at only three hours old and a week-long NICU stay) that she was born with a congenital viral infection. She overcame so many obstacles, but she was so very sick. I believe in a God who made the world and everything in it. Who, as my husband likes to consider, not only made something out of nothing, but first made nothing. I believe in a God who continues to be intimately involved in His creation, who calls His children to Himself and walks with them daily. My daughter's illness was not outside of this. God didn't mess up with her. He had purpose, and I believe He meant for us to learn from our experience.

All these beliefs had been brought up and challenged, some sharpened, some dulled, some confused and lost, some strengthened and built up. All of it was still kind of swirly on that fifth day until I read this: "In this manner did the patient Duke draw a useful moral from everything that he saw; and by the help of this moralizing turn, in that life of his, remote from public haunts, he could find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything." I stopped and read it again. "Sermons in stones," I told my daughter. "That's what we're doing here. We're finding the sermons in the stones." I sat, struck by this and felt a clarity that I had not before. Then I started to giggle. I can't explain it, but suddenly, everything we were facing had a purpose and a reason and my heart filled with joy to think of it. I did my best to suppress my giggles and told my daughter, "Get ready for some preaching, little girl, because we sure have a lot of stones."

Twenty weeks have passed since she was born, and after ten days in the NICU, 42 more in Pediatrics, and a very tumultuous home-coming, God has given us plenty of opportunities to find those sermons. I have felt all along that these truths were not just meant for me or our little family; they are meant to be shared. Through this month of November, my goal is to write every day and share just one thing that God has taught us on our journey. I very much want this to be a dialogue, to know what you think and to be challenged in what we've learned. I would love for you to share your questions and push back against the things that don't seem to make sense. Every grain of clarity also carries with it a new mystery, and while I believe we are not meant to know everything (we aren't God, after all), I believe we are meant to explore and learn what we can. The more we know about our lives and how God works in them, the closer we draw to God Himself. That is something for everyone, not just me! Come back tomorrow for the first "real" post. It will either be "God and Suffering" or "The Gift of Life" ... or something else entirely (though I will eventually write about both of those). Stay tuned!


  1. Looking forward to this series, Aleah. So grateful you have your sweet baby home with you and I thank the Lord for her life.

  2. Wow, Aleah... God has certainly given you a gift of writing! Seriously, though, I was very touched by this post. As you may remember, my mom and I started calling the hospital room our classroom and God used that time (and every time since) to teach us many Life lessons. Your blog seems to have a similar theme. Also, our church's small groups have been doing a 12 week study on 1 Peter. So, when I read the title of your Blog, I couldn't help but think of Peter. ;-)