Thursday, April 10, 2008

Happy 3rd Birthday, Paul

Today is our first son’s birthday. We would love to be planning a birthday party, maybe with a baseball or a truck theme. I would love to have stayed up late last night putting together some ridiculously complicated toy. But instead, today we are planning to go out to dinner in order to celebrate his short life, and last night we stayed up late talking about how we miss him.

Paul Hudson Rogers was stillborn 3 years ago. He was 8 lbs 15 ounces and very cute. He appeared perfect in every way, except that his heart had stopped, inexplicably, the day before his due date. We held him for a short time and then said goodbye. We named him Paul after the Apostle Paul. We named him Hudson after the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor. We prayed almost daily that God would use him to impact the world for His glory, and that God would use Paul Hudson to take the gospel to the nations. His impact on the world seems to have been much less than we had hoped for. But his impact on Stephanie and I has been immense. I never had the privilege of teaching Paul anything, but here are a few of the things that my son has taught me:

There are a multitude of reasons to praise God which I too often take for granted.

For all of our efforts to control our circumstances, the truth is that we have no control over the most important things in life.

A newborn baby’s cry is the most beautiful sound in the world.

The goodness and faithfulness of God is not just something I believe in because things have always gone right for me. Because of Paul, God’s goodness and faithfulness is more real to me now than it ever was before. He provided and sustained us through dark times with a steady and gracious hand.

I have the most wonderful wife God could have given me.

It is always a good idea to visit someone at the hospital. They do appreciate it, even if I don’t know what to say.

Funerals are important, and I should always go if I can.

I should never complain about the difficulties of parenting. Being a dad is a great privilege and joy. It is never an annoyance, or a time-waster, or an obstacle to other goals.

God’s giving His Son to be crucified for me is unfathomable.

I should pick up the phone or write a note or take a mourning person out to lunch and ask them how they are doing.

Every life is amazing and beautiful and precious, no matter how short or broken.

My daughter throwing up on me is a great gift, not something to grumble about.

Children really are a gift from God.

God can give us true and abiding hope in the midst of unconscionable pain. Hope is not a political slogan or the result of wishful thinking. Hope is based on the great, and sure, and unchanging promises of God. This hope that God's word gives us is truly an anchor for the soul.

Sometimes all we have is hope.

The only fully happy ending will come at the resurrection.

We miss you Paul! See you soon.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mark,
Thank you for this wonderful post. What an amazing God we love and serve! Thank you for your ministry!

Thank you for sharing your heart in this matter and for giving such wonderful praise to our Savior and Lord.

May God continue to bless you, Stephanie and Hope with Himself and His amazing graces.

Happy Birthday Paul Hudson Rogers, you who dwell in the presence of our King!

Yours in Christ,

Don Adam
(Nathan's dad)

Jason P. Franklin said...

Oh Mark, thank you for the convicting post.

Last night I grumbled. Amie had a hard time going down. She was up in the middle of the night, screaming, not because something was wrong, but because she just wanted to get up.

I grumbled.

Then I read your post...and I cried (well, I'm still crying). My attitude is so far off. I am so very wrong. And I do take my children entirely for granted.

Thank you Mark, for bringing me up short and being used by the Holy Spirit to both call me on the carpet and encourage me.

May the Lord bless you all richly.

sherry said...

I was hoping you would write.

I've been thinking about your family all day today. I snapped at my students and I cried at lunch because my brain was elsewhere. I'm not sure why, but the third birthday is hitting me harder than usual. Three is a special age, and that makes me miss Paul more.

I love you guys...Thanks for being so open; it makes it easier for the rest of us, too.

Dale said...

I don't believe a day goes by, that I don't think about Paul. I think about what wonderful parents you and Stephanie are. I question why? I think about what a wonderful little sister Hope would have been, looking up to her big brother for unwavering love. I question why? I think about the lonely, unfilled void left in our lives. I question why? I think about the love that was ready to be poured out without end. I question why? Thank you Mark for loving our Stephanie, our Hope and our Paul. I know that God has a plan, I know that He loves us, I know that He will never leave us on our own, sometimes I just question why?

Dale said...

I don't believe a day goes by, that I don't think about Paul. I think about what wonderful parents you and Stephanie are. I question why? I think about what a wonderful little sister Hope would have been, looking up to her big brother for unwavering love. I question why? I think about the lonely, unfilled void left in our lives. I question why? I think about the love that was ready to be poured out without end. I question why? Thank you Mark for loving our Stephanie, our Hope and our Paul. I know that God has a plan, I know that He loves us, I know that He will never leave us on our own, sometimes I just question why?

Sarah said...

Mark and Stephanie,
We love you guys. Thank you for the blessed reminders of the blessing that children are. Thank you for reminding us that even through the difficult unexplainable things of life, we have a heavenly Father who continues to love and be faithful. You mentioned that you prayed that Paul's life would be used to share with others around the world. We are on the other side of the world and today as I read your blog I was reminded and encouraged to press on no matter the ups and downs and challenges that life presents. The testimony of his life still lives on. We love you and pray many blessings for you.

Mark said...

Mr. Adam,
Thank you for your kind words of blessing and encouragement.

Jason,
I'm glad the post was an encouragement. Loss can help crystalize just how much one does have. I remember just hours after losing Paul someone said, "This is the worst thing that could have happened." I said, "No, no it isn't," as I thanked God for my beautiful wife.

Sherry,
Thank you for caring so much about us. Your encouraging words, visit, and gifts, have been used by God these past three years to sustain and encourage us. Thank you for your friendship.

Dale,
Thanks for your words, and for thinking of Paul often. Stephanie and I were talking about how we think God gave us Hope as an extra special gift. We have truly never seen any child as happy and joyful as her.

Sarah,
Thanks for your words. One of the reasons I continue to be so open about Paul and our loss, something that definitely doesn't come naturally to me, is in hopes that God will use his life to give people greater faith and hope and strength. We miss you guys, and pray you will press on for the glory of GOd and the good of so many who need the gospel.

thetafaofamily said...

Mark and Stephanie,

I think Paul Hudson really is making that great impact you had so hoped for him to make in the world. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes marveling at the fact that just a month ago I was considering suicide. Thank you for this post! I am humbled, ashamed for my selfishness, and reminded again how greatful I am for my own beautiful daughter. May God continue to use you (and your beautiful son) to minister to broken hearts.

Tony & Jaimie said...

Wow, What a precious post Mark. You guys are so amazing in the way you remember and encourage others thru this time. Thank you for writing this. Happy Birthday Paul Hudson, you have wonderful parents.

kkbaher said...

Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. Kieran & Kari

Anna said...

Mark and Stephanie,
I was thrilled to find your blog and then to find at the top a post about your little Paul. I read it aloud to Brian and we were both blessed by your words. As we approach Josiah's third birthday I can hardly believe that it's been three years - three years! How much God has done in those years.

Thank you for sharing your heart and blessing ours.

Love,
Anna Lee Cochran
p.s. Hope is a little you, Stephaine! So precious.

Amy said...

Dear Mark & Stephanie,

You don't know me but three years ago I was visiting your Sunday School class on the first Sunday you were there after Paul died. At that time I was going through my own personal struggles and your testimony was powerful in my life, and has been since. A while back I found your blog and check up on you from time to time. I was so happy when your daughter was born! Now, as the Lord would have it, I am enduring yet another trial (as we all do at times) and how amazing it has been to be encouraged by you once again today, by this post. God has used Paul and your family in my life.