Friday, September 28, 2007

Brilliant Bows

I've been working on a project over the last month that we are excited about! Please check out, my new website! I have enjoyed creating these bows, and have had fun creating the website. So, if you know anyone having a baby girl, or anyone who currently has a little girl, please direct them to our site! They also make great gifts :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

John Piper's Granddaughter

Six months after we lost baby Paul, we went to the Desiring God Conference on Suffering and the Sovereighnty of God, led by John Piper. Our time at this conference is very special to me. I needed so much to hear those 5 sermons on the theology behind suffering, why God allows it, ect. Some good healing took place that weekend.

This past weekend, John Piper's granddaughter Felicity, was stillborn full-term. The scene and descriptions of the events that took place, the deep sadness, are familiar. Today was her funeral, and below is what Piper said. It is sweet and a reminder to focus on the great Hope that we can have in such tragedies.

I didn’t know Felicity Margaret. My experience of her life was entirely through other people for nine months. And my experience of her death, even though it was physically immediate and touchable, has been emotionally experienced almost entirely through other people.

So at this moment, what it means for me to be Felicity’s grandfather is that I am living this loss almost entirely through other people’s experience of this loss. And because of my love for all these people, there is a powerful sweetness in this pain.

Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have tasted her loss through my daughters-in-law, her aunts Shelly, Melissa, and Lesley. The measure of her worth and the greatness of her loss have been written on your faces, and they are the more beautiful for it.

Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt her loss in the shattered expectation of her aunt Talitha, my daughter. It was not easy to go to school on Monday. But you and Mommy made a good plan with the school counselor to inform the teachers and students. And now, in a way you never expected, your heart is knit together with Dasia whose little brother Zach was killed by the dog a month ago.

Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt her loss through her uncles and my sons Karsten, Benjamin, and Barnabas. I broke the news to each of you and watched all your plans change. You are good brothers to each other. And I cannot tell you how much I love the tears and embraces of strong men.

Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt her loss through her grandmother, my wife NoĆ«l. Strange and wonderful. Your tears came slowly and have increased. Mine came quickly and have decreased. Almost the story of our lives. Thank you for knitting Felicity’s blanket, and weeping as you decided to give it to her anyway.

Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt the loss through her mother, my daughter-in-law Molly. For her entire life she depended on you more than anyone. You fed her, you cleansed her, you supported her, you protected her, you knew her better than anyone. The grace that God has given you to love her greatly and let her go is amazing. Christ is on display in your life.

Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt the loss through her father, my son Abraham. The words from Saturday morning’s phone call are cut into my heart, “Daddy, we lost the baby.” Nothing, Abraham, has gone deeper inside of me than your loss.

Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt the loss through her great grandfather, my father Bill Piper. And this experience is totally different from all the others. In this case, the loss is all gain. My father died six months and sixteen days before Felicity did. I believe the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ covers the sins of all who trust him and all who are not old enough to trust him here but will trust him later. Therefore, I believe Felicity and her great grandfather met each other early Sunday morning in the presence of Christ. And my father said, perhaps, “Hello, Felicity. I’m your great grandfather Piper. Come, there is somebody I want you to meet. His name is Jesus. He’s the reason you’re here. You don’t need to be afraid. Your Savior has led you all the way. And Jesus does all things well.”

Monday, September 24, 2007

Summer Review

We have had a great summer and I am sorry to see it end. Hope has grown and blossomed so much. She is so sweet and cuddly and brings so much joy to each day. We are so very thankful for her! She is close to walking, doing a little bit of standing on her own, but hasn't taken those first steps yet. Here are some hightlights from the summer:In April, Ma-maw, Pa-paw, Aunt Di and Uncle Terry came up to visit from Arkansas. It was special!

Mark graduated at the beginning of May.

Hope's baby dedication was on Mother's Day.

Aunt Robin graduated and Hope and I got to go see it!

While in town for Robin's graduation, we got to play with our nephew/cousin Luke!

For Memorial Day we met Greg and Jodi in Chicago. Here we are eating Chicago style pizza.

The main reason for going to Chicago was to see a Cubs game - it was great!

In June Auntie Sherry came out to visit! We took a very fun trip to Nashville for a night and stayed in the Opryland Hotel.

In June we also went to Northern California to see Mark's family. Here is Hope with some 1st and 2nd cousins and her Great Grandma Franklin.

At the end of July Mark got to go see our new nephew Andrew, and our "old" nephew Luke. Not to mention Phil and Jill and a whole lot of other people too.

Hope turned one on August 3rd. We already put up pictures of that so I thought I'd share this one - she's so sweet!

In the beginning of September we took a trip to Orange Beach, Alabama. It was so fun to take a trip just the 3 of us. The beach there is perfect. We did a lot of relaxing. Hope did not like the sand or water so we didn't have to chase her around too much :)

We love it when she makes this face!

My favorite picture from the beach :)

And finally, Hope's first little pig tail. Thanks for looking at our pictures and to all of you who helped to make this a great summer!

Monday, September 17, 2007

My Dad the Pastor

My dad has been pastoring since he was 25 years old. He has been at the same church for 29 years. This month he is retiring as pastor of First Baptist Church, Dunsmuir. 29 years in one church is remarkable in this era. It is even more remarkable when you consider that my dad has been a bi-vocational pastor for all those years. He left a full time pastorate in the bay-area that was an awful situation. He went up to a small church in a small town in the mountains of Northern California. There were 5 people attending when my dad arrived. He worked hard, built a Sunday school, got to know the community, preached the word, and the church grew. Dozens were baptized, many people have gone out from that church and blessed others. While other churches in Dunsmuir have closed their doors, and the town has shrunk, FBC Dunsmuir continues to go strong.

Last night the church held an appreciation dinner for my parents as my dad prepares to retire. I was not able to be there, but here is the letter that Stephanie and I sent. I think it expresses a bit of the blessing my parents have been to me and to the church they love.

To First Baptist Church, Dunsmuir:

We wish we could be there today to honor my parents as my Dad retires from the pastorate at 1st Baptist Church. Even though I am absent I wanted to share a few things.

Before I talk about my Dad I want to say thank you to my Mom. While she never got paid, and was rarely recognized I know how much she served and blessed the church these past 29 years. She did not try to fit into a certain image. Instead she sought to faithfully use the many gifts God has given her and to be faithful to Him. Her support of my Dad, love for the people of the church, ministry to women and children, and generous hospitality blessed the church in immeasurable ways. You may be able to find a pastor as good as my Dad, but I think it will be impossible to find a pastor’s wife that matches my Mom.

Now about my Dad. For 29 years he pastored in Dunsmuir. As his son I was there for 18 of those years and got to hear the preaching as well as see behind the scenes. As I watched I learned a few things about him and his ministry.

First, he preached the Bible because he believes it is God’s word, and he thinks that God’s opinion matters more than anyone else’s.

Second, he preached the word diligently. He didn’t just preach his opinion, or talk about the same things every week. He worked hard to grow and learn more about God and His word. I remember how there was always a book or two sitting next to Dad’s chair. And I remember many trips to the Christian book store in Redding to buy a new book or commentary. He didn’t preach on the same thing every week or repeat old sermons. He worked hard to prepare, then he stood each Sunday morning prepared to explain and apply God’s word. His desire to learn and grow helped give me a hunger for knowledge and blessed those he ministered to.

Third, he preached the word reverently. I don’t remember him ever eating breakfast on Sunday mornings. I do remember him pacing the floor each Sunday as we prepared to go to church. I think he was always at least a little nervous as he got ready to proclaim God’s word. He took his task seriously. Every Sunday was a big event, and every time he stood to preach he knew it was important. He never got used to the privilege and calling God had given him. I learned a lot from my Dad’s reverence for the preaching of the word.

Fourth, my dad loved ministry. He wasn’t just a preacher, he was a pastor. He loved Vacation Bible School and Children’s Camp. He enjoyed teaching children about Jesus, and meeting with them before they were baptized. He thrived in small groups leading discussions about God’s word. He loved the people in his church. My Dad taught me that the church isn’t just an organization to lead; it is a family to love. I know he loves you, and I know he loves God. I saw it first hand.

Mom and Dad: Thank you for serving Jesus, thank you for loving His church, thank you for preaching His word. I am blessed to be your son.

Mark and Stephanie and Hope Rogers