Just wanted to post some pictures from our time in Washington for Hope's Memorial Service... last summer when we visited it was cloudy and rainy everyday (we didn't even get the opportunity to see the mountains once) but incredibly it was sunny EVERYDAY this time :-) I'd like to think of it as just one more blessing from our precious baby Hope!
I have experienced a whirlwind of emotions this last two weeks. My heart has physically hurt with heart break, I have cried until I was numb and yet there have been moments of laughing so hard with my family that I couldn’t even speak, much less breathe. I have been amazed at the capacity of the human heart to love and let go, submit and surrender to God’s sovereignty, and forgive and give grace freely.
I have spent the last several months studying the book of Esther through a study by Beth Moore called “Esther- its tough being a woman”. About a week before baby Hope passed away, one of the day’s homework dealt with fear and in particular what we feared most. Beth encouraged those doing the study to safe to voice our worst nightmare to God and to trust Him. Not necessarily trust Him to let us avoid what we fear most but to trust Him no matter what, even if our worst nightmare becomes reality. We were asked to fill in the blank with our great fear. If (insert greatest fear ) then God’s going to demonstrate His sufficiency to me. Without even thinking, I filled in the blank with one of my biggest fears… losing someone I love. Little did I know, that one of my biggest fears was about to fall into my path. (After talking to a few others doing the study that also had their worst fears realized after doing that activity, I strongly suggest Beth Moore place a disclaimer on that day’s homework warning that if you may indeed be tested in this…) But over the last few weeks, as we have said goodbye to our precious 21 day old niece, God has been faithfully and proven that He will take care of us, He has a plan, desires/ purposes to accomplish something monumental in us, and He has definitely demonstrated His sufficiency even in the midst of severe suffering.
As much as I cherish God’s word, there are parts of the bible that really just annoy the crap out of me at times. I never fully understood how James could honestly say “consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:2-3) I have never been at the place in my faith journey where I can honestly say that I would welcome trials, testing, or suffering. Hindsight I can usually admit that what it developed within me made the suffering worth it. But I can’t say I am at the place in my life where I welcome testing and suffering with joy…. And yet the bible is full of examples of people who responded to suffering with joy and praise. I have always been amazed at a passage in Acts 16, where the apostle Paul had been stripped, beaten, flogged, and thrown in prison. Yet in the face of severe suffering (deeper than any I have ever known or probably will ever know), his response was one of PRAISE.
“They brought them before the magistrates and said, "These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice." The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose.”
Reading those passages many times, I have always wondered “really? Who does that? Who in their right mind can be in the midst of suffering singing praise?” The night before Hope’s memorial service I saw a living example of that kind of praise filled response to human suffering. My brother had asked two worship leaders to lead us in some worship songs at Hope’s service. These guys (both ironically serving as worship leaders at churches in Wichita named HOPE) had never met so Aaron invited them over to his apartment to meet each other, pick out songs, and practice the night before the service. And for literally HOURS, these guys sat in Aaron’s living room just singing praise to the God who had given us baby Hope and who had also chosen to take her away from us. And there was my little brother who was about to lay to rest his precious baby girl, just SINGING HIS HEART OUT!!! We were working on the final arrangements/details for the memorial service (ironing clothes, writing the Eulogy, putting the finishing touches on Hope’s shadow box and painting) and our background noise was heart filled worship from a hurting father about to say good-bye to infant daughter. When most parents would be questioning God or just grieve stricken, my brother chose to instead respond with praise to our good God, which was eerily similar to Paul’s response in Acts. I have never been MORE proud of someone than I am of my brother right now.That night before Hope’s service, I literally feel asleep ABOUT MIDNIGHT listening to several Godly men PRAYING AND SINGING HYMNS TO GOD! That night, I slept like a baby for the first night in over a week and I will cherish that night for the rest of my life.
“About Midnight” lyrics~ Sarah Kelly At about midnight I'll call At about midnight I'll call out your name I need you beside me Through these seasons of change
At about midnight Awaiting the dawn I'll find contentment Singing your song
Here in the valley Shadows lead the way Where the past meets today Where the past meets today
Seasons come and they go Seasons come and they go like the night Because you are with me Things will turn out alright
At about midnight Awaiting the dawn I'll find contentment Singing your song
Here in the valley Shadows lead the way Yes I know that you're with me now
I don't understand this path I'm on Like I'm looking down at the sun All turned around again All turned around again
At about midnight Awaiting the dawn I'll find contentment Singing your song
So at about midnight I'll call At about midnight I'll call out your name
I love Easter and being reminded at this time of the year of the resurrection power of our God!! In Philippians 3:10 Paul says, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in death“ I think most believers (myself included) are all about taping into the power of the resurrection yet none of us REALLY want to sign up to share in the suffering. But as someone who has been living in a season of suffering the last few weeks, I can honestly say that there is great joy, contentment, and even fellowship filled moments of belly laughs in the “about midnight” moments of life!!
• Entered our world on March 1 2009 at 3:57am. Entered heaven March 22 at 7:10pm (the dash on a tombstone represents the life lived by that person). Hope’s dash lasted a short 21 days but she impacted the world more in just 21 days than most people do in an entire lifetime!!
• Throughout Hope’s journey she has referred to as our “warrior princess” and that is EXACTLY what this little girl was, she was a warrior princess! A warrior is defined as one who is engaged or experiencing a battle. Hope and her precious parents were in a battle from the time of Hope’s diagnosis until she went to be Jesus. They lived 24/7 in the most intense battle of their lives for her life for the last two months. I CAN NOT EXPRESS HOW PROUD I AM OF THEIR EFFORTS AND THE WAY THEY FOUGHT THIS BATTLE WITH SO MUCH GRACE, SO MUCH COURAGE, AND SO MUCH FAITH! Aaron is the baby of our family and he takes a lot of teasing as the baby, but he demonstrated more strength and more steadiness than any man or Daddy in his shoes could ever. Throughout the process, our family stayed in close contact through phone calls and such. And after each phone call, we all were blown away at Aaron and Sara’s strength. We would call them hoping to encourage and build them up and hang up being completely humbled because usually they were the ones encouraging us instead!
•When one loses a spouse, they are called a widow or widower. When one loses a parent, they are called an orphan. But there are no words to describe the grief of losing a child. Unfortunately this is not the first infant our family has buried long before we felt it was their time leave. Part of the grief we feel as Aaron and Sara’s family and friends is the loss of what might have been though Hope’s life. Knowing what amazing and beautiful people Aaron and Sara are, Hope was destined to be do great things but God had other plans and He REALLY used her short 21 days on earth to minster to her world in ways that will last lifetimes.
• But although baby Hope has left us, Hope has not left us. Hope is defined as a confident expectation. Those who are believers in Jesus and the power of the promise of the cross, we grieve differently than the rest of the world… simply on the foundation of Hope in the promise of the cross and the promise of a faithful God who has told us that one day we will be reunited with Him and our lost loved ones.
• The day after Hope passed away, I had a long conversation with Aaron and he was so full of Hope it amazed me. We talked about Jesus the night before his death (Jesus prayer). When Aaron and Sara received Hope’s diagnoses, they were determined not to let her illness be in vain. They wanted God’s glory is to be on display in Hope’s life. I was 100% confident in that the fact that God knew how many curly brown hairs were on Hope’s head and that He knew how to fix her heart and He was going to bring complete healing. We all wanted God’s glory to be displayed through healing Hope’s heart! Yet God choose to reveal his glory not in her healing but in her death and we are ok with that!
• As we learned about Hope’s death, we eventually came to a place of submission. Although the end result wasn’t what we asked for and planned, God’s fingerprints and faithfulness were all over this entire journey!! From the way, he provided for Aaron and Sara’s needs at every juncture on this journey to the way in which He brought us comfort and peace in the midst of walking thru the valley of the shadow of death. God’s glory has been on display throughout the entire story of Hope Elizabeth Maus life and even in her death.
• Shortly after Hope condition was diagnosis, Aaron had a dream one night with Jonah playing and dancing with his sister Hope…. I thought we would see that dream become reality on this side of heaven but I was wrong! We will see the two of them together dancing one day; we are going to have to wait just a little longer than we expected.
• I know many of the family were not able to meet Hope in person but that the fact they never met her doesn’t reflect the amount of love and affection they held for this precious baby. I know in the first few days after Hope’s passing, we struggled with the fact she just wanted one opportunity to hold her. Hope had two loving aunts, three uncles, and LOTS of great aunts and uncles and cousins who loved her to pieces! One of my favorite things about being an aunt is the ability to hold and cuddle our nephews and then hand them over to mom when they get fussy or tired. One of my favorite things about being an uncle is our ability to spoil the crap out of them, get them loud and obnoxious toys, and then send them home to Mom and Dad when the party is over. In some ways, as family is natural to feel cheated out of those fun family moments. But even though we were not able to hold Hope on this side of heaven, we have assurance that one day we will and we can eagerly look forward to that precious day!
• In that phone call with Aaron the day after Hope’s passing, we always talked about the concept of time to us. (2 Peter 3:8). I am thankful that the God we serve is SO BIG that He can not be bound by time as know it. Today we grieve because we didn’t feel like we had enough time with Hope. But as believers in eternal salvation, we KNOW that we will spend eternity with her and that our time here on earth WITHOUT her doesn’t even compare to the amount of time we will spend WITH her in eternity! When we lose a loved one, its human nature to want to question God and ask “WHY?!” “Aaron and Sara love you with their entire beings God, why would you choose not to heal their innocent precious baby? How can a loving God allow suffering?” But I have not heard Aaron and Sara ask God “why” once! Psalm 115:3 says “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.” So today or tomorrow or next month, if you feel surrounded by grief and want to question God…Remember the answer to our questions of why is ALWAYS simply this: because He’s God and we are not! His ways and his thoughts and plans are always higher and better than ours. This question remains.. “can you worship a God who isn’t obligated to explain His actions to you? Could it be our arrogance that makes us think God owes us an explanation?” Aaron and Sara love and serve a God that is so big and so great, our puny little brains can’t understand him at times and we only limit God when we insist on making Him small enough for us to understand.
In Christ alone my hope is found He is my light, my strength, my song This Cornerstone, this solid ground Firm through the fiercest drought and storm What heights of love, what depths of peace When fears are stilled, when strivings cease My Comforter, my All in All Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone, who took on flesh Fullness of God in helpless babe This gift of love and righteousness Scorned by the ones He came to save 'Till on that cross as Jesus died The wrath of God was satisfied For every sin on Him was laid Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay Light of the world by darkness slain Then bursting forth in glorious Day Up from the grave He rose again And as He stands in victory Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me For I am His and He is mine Brought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life, no fear in death This is the power of Christ in me From life's first cry to final breath Jesus commands my destiny No power of hell, no scheme of man Can ever pluck me from His hand 'Till He returns or calls me home Here in the power of Christ I'll stand
I am a nurse and most importantly mom of 6 precious children( 2 are homegrown, 1 on loan,& 3 are hand picked). Drew (age 15) Ashlyn (age 13) We have adopted 3 Haitian miracles Jimso (age10), Jackson (age 13) a&Jedone (age 14) We also have a foster daughter who is a constant source of joy!We are passionate about orphan/ foster care. My husband is the lead pastor at Cherokee Hills Christian Church in Oklahoma City.