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This blog has been lovingly created in honor of our precious Brady Benjamin, who was born and died on August 6, 2010. He was not ready for life in this world, but will forever live in our hearts. We love you Brady.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Is Heaven a Pipe Dream?

By nature, I am a very analytical person.  It suits me well in my job... as an auditor, I take the work that someone else has done and test it every which way I can to make sure it was done correctly.  Not only am I looking for simple errors, but also making sure that any assumptions relied on in preparing the work are valid, and perhaps more importantly, reliable.  I realize I often unconciously apply this "testing" to other parts of my life.  As I type this my first year English professor's words pop into my head, he always said "question everything!".  I guess that about sums it up.

Anyway, my point is... this habit has proven very difficult lately.  When I was young (early teens) I was very involved in youth groups, etc and it was easy to go to church camp for a week and come back feeling energized and satisfied with what I knew about God.  I didn't really dig deeper and "question everything" like I do now.  My life over the last 15 years has not revolved much around God.  I went from student, to wife, to mother before I had any real self-confrontation with my beliefs. 

In getting older, I noticed how most of the truly "religious" people I knew were either old (by my standards anyway) or had suffered some sort of tragedy that drove them into the arms of God.  As to the former, I couldn't help but wonder if it wasn't merely because the elderly were afraid to die, and thus bought into this pipe dream of eternal life.  After all, what could it hurt?  If they believed they were saved, and they were right, they got their reward.  If they were wrong, and dying really meant the end of every part of their being... then they would never know or care anyway because they would be gone!

This was my thinking, back and forth, back and forth, until my tragedy came.  All of a sudden I was part of that group.  I found myself turning to and leaning on someone that I hadn't acknowledged daily in years.  Was I just a coward?  Was I trying to make myself feel better by buying into the same pipe dream of Heaven, believing that I would see my son again one day?  I started going to church again regularly and it seemed like this time around, everything I learned... I questioned.  I didn't want to, I wanted to get back to that childlike faith that we are supposed to have, that I used to have.  But it simply wasn't there.  Was it because as an adult I was not as susceptible to the teachings of a cult's way of thinking? (It hurts me now to even use that word, but that is honestly how at odds with myself I was).  This tiny little voice kept telling me that as much as I wanted to believe in my faith, it was much more logical to believe that it was just some fantastic story that gives hope to the hopeless.

It was literally months of bible studies, Sunday schools and sermons before another tiny voice whispered "seek and you shall find".  It was as simple as that.  I turned it over and over in my head.  It wasn't the tragedy itself that fueled my faith, it was the fact that the tragedy had caused me to seek God again.  No wonder I had gone 15 years without a daily acknowledgement of Him... to all of a sudden praying and studying his word... I actually LOOKED for Him.  I am ashamed that I hadn't done it in so long, but it makes perfect sense to me now.  True believers are not just running scared into a sea of false hope, they are realizing the blessings and comforts He has to offer... because they sought after them.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." - Matthew 7:7-8

So to anyone who has ever felt the way I felt, or that simply has trouble buying into God's word, the fact that Jesus died for our sins, or that Heaven is a real place, I would simply say... have you asked God if it's real?  Have you ever really, truly tried to seek His presence?  It shouldn't have taken me so long to figure it out.  I am being guided and filled by his love again, and believing in His promises again... simply because I looked for Him again.     

Friday, August 5, 2011

One year ago today...

One year ago today our lives changed forever.  Cody and I met our baby boy for the first and last time here on earth, and Rayley and Karley lost a baby brother that they never got to meet.  This past year has had its ups and downs, but not an hour has gone by that I haven't thought of Brady and what it would be like if he were here watching Rayley's tee ball games with us or snuggled up with us on the couch watching the corny America's Funniest Home videos that we like so much.

Rayley thinks and speaks of him often, the embodiment of that "childlike faith"... thinking Heaven is a place like California and not understanding why we haven't been there to visit him yet, or why God wouldn't let him come down for Karley's birthday party a few months ago.  I hope my smiles and nods are assuring enough for her because they are not for me.

I can't believe it has already been a year.  If I have learned anything it is how to have a closer walk with the Lord, even when your most pressing questions cannot be answered.  Pray anyway.

When we held him in the hospital my mom wanted to take a picture of his hands in mine.  I wouldn't let her.  Why in the world they allow a woman in that time of the most extraordinary physical and emotional pain to make ANY kind of decision I still do not understand.  I wish I had let her do it.  I am sorry for that.

On this day, his first birthday, we will write messages on our white balloons and tell Rayley we are sending them up to Heaven for him.  We will remember him, just like we do every other day, and hope the coming year brings just a little more comfort than the one before.  We will appreciate the precious time we have together and the wonderful family that joins us in our love for our children... all three of them.  We love you Brady Benjamin.  Happy Birthday <3