5“Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
9“Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.”
23 For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.”
Living along the Missouri river, we are no stranger to flood waters these days.
The text above sites, in part, the story of how Joshua led the nation Israel across the Jordan River, it was harvest and the river Jordan was at flood stage. I'd ask of you to try to envision this day. For those of you living surrounded by the raising and fast flowing river waters I do, it may not be so difficult a stretch of the imagination.
Maybe your imagination will take you to a more loose interpretation of flood waters. Maybe the raging furry, the crushing power of those waters will take you back to a time in your life when it seemed there was no hope. A time when you felt God had abandoned you in the midst of the crushing waters of loss and heartbreak?
At least that's where my mind takes me...
I have often thought it must seem a bit odd from the outside looking in that I "celebrate" the milestones following the loss of Amelia.
No doubt it would seem strange to anyone that has not lost a child, to mark the months that pass, to throw a birthday party for a child that only lived on earth for a few short hours...or maybe never took a breath at all.
Maybe it does seem strange to you that a grieving mother would gather keepsakes such as a bit of hair, foot and hand print molds, keep blood stained baby clothing in Ziploc baggies, or purchase a duplicate of the outfit their child is buried in.
But as I read again this story of the crossing of the Jordan I am reminded of why these mementos are so very special. They are indeed treasured keepsakes of our precious and loved children. But they are more than that to me. Maybe I am not alone in this...
I have stones similar to the stones of the tribes of Israel.
They are memorials of my daughter. They are reminders of her, but even more so they are reminders of what the Lord has carried me (us) through. They are a testament to His mercy and His steadfast love for me in the midst of the raging flood waters.
And when I see these "stones,"
I remember so much more that the heartbreak of losing her.
I remember the gift of having her.
I remember how He carried me.
I remember the peace that filled the room on the day she was born.
I have a Moses Basket sitting in my basement.
I have often thought to myself (and aloud to Tim)
"What should I do with it?"
It is a painful reminder of our loss.
It carried her body to the funeral home.
It carried her casket to her grave.
I put her in the basket;
more to the point, my body failed her
and put her in that basket.
Thank heavens the basket means more to me that just that.
I chose that basket because it reminded me of Moses mother;
her trust that God would protect her child,
that He had a future in mind for him that was bigger than she could ever have imagined.
Through Amelia's life and death, God taught me to trust in that same way.
God gave me the strength to put her in that basket.
God gave me the strength to hand her back to him.
God let me put all my trust in him.
He did that.
We crossed our river Jordan
and find ourselves on the opposite shore looking back
knowing full well
he has not left us empty handed.
He left a pile of stones,
precious keepsakes, photos, blankets, jewelry...
so that in the future,
when my children ask me, ‘What do these stones mean?
I can tell them all about her, smile and say, He carried me.