The House of Mourning & Feasting
Since considering shifting gears into this "Hope Heals" site, Katherine and I have had many conversations about what it would mean to share our lives in this particular, new light. After the overwhelming response to our journey following Katherine's stroke, we knew that this story would be used in people's lives completely above and beyond anything that we could have created of our own accord. Many wonderful people experience horrific suffering and oftentimes, no one hardly notices. We take this opportunity that the Lord has blessed us with seriously because we know that He has graciously given us a platform to share who He is and what He is doing in our lives, which offers redemption for our suffering and comfort and encouragement to those who hear it.
From the beginning, on April 21, 2008, many of you have given us your time, your prayers, and your compassionate tears and laughter, as you have journeyed with us. Taking that into deep consideration as we launched "Hope Heals", Katherine and I have never wanted to take away the true focus that so many people found from the updates posted on www.katherinewolf.info--that life is short and unknown but God is in control of every moment.
As you have seen, Hope Heals echoes many aspects of the story we have shared over the past 3 years of our lives because it is still our story, and we still experience many of the issues that resulted from Katherine's stroke. However, the thinking behind this new site was to share how our lives look after the survival mode has faded a bit and things are more settled into this "new normal" version. Nonetheless, we have worried, are we presenting aspects of our lives that are going to seem trivial or distracting to our readers? Does anyone care about parties or food or traveling or our home? Are we somehow watering down the depth of the story with some of the "happys" that we have introduced into our daily lives?
I recently listened to a phenomenal sermon by Rankin Wilbourne, the pastor at Pacific Crossroads Church, in Santa Monica, CA (a plant of Tim Keller's church, Redeemer, in NYC), where many of our friends attend. This sermon is entitled "We Make Our Plans" (listen to it and all of these great sermons!),with the central theme being how we as humans give ourselves too much credit for thinking that the way in which we plan out our lives has much of an impact on the actual outcome. Even as Christians, we shouldn't be saying, "If it's God's will, I will do _______", but rather, in James 4:15, "Instead you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live...' ".
How is it that we so often forget in this life that we are just a vapor, a mist, that appear here for a just a little while, then is gone? Even after the perspective-giving, life-altering experiences of our past 3 years, how is it that the brevity of my time on Earth still eludes me, every day? As humans, we have to humbly admit that we are always fighting the uphill battle against what we are in our flesh versus who we desire to be in Christ, so we need lots of reminders of the hope that we are striving towards. Ecclesiastes 7:2, says "It is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart". But Lord, we love to eat! Are we truly losing sight of our inevitable mortality when we go to that house of feasting as well?
A few days ago, I was putting up some pictures in our house (more on this interesting little project later) after having been thinking about all of these things. Purely by accident, I positioned these two pictures next to each other....
The photo on the left was from Sprinkles Cupcakes, a perpetual favorite in our house, taken in 2006 (it did and still does embody our "house of feasting"). The picture on the right was taken by our dear friend Ryan Dobson on Katherine's last night at UCLA before going to Casa Colina. We literally set up this picture in Katherine's original ICU room (a "house of mourning", to be sure), which was completely vacant as the hospital had since moved to the new building across the street. The bed is strewn with collected "stones of remembrance" (1 Samuel "ebenezers") from around UCLA's crumbling medical building, to signify that "thus far has the Lord helped us". Truly this picture symbolizes that journey that many of you took with us, starting in that bed and moving to a whole new life today.
I think www.katherinwolf.info had such a large consistent readership because we all know deep down that we need reminders from houses of mourning to give us perspective on the time we have in this life. However, what is even more meaningful is to also find hope in where God has delivered a person from and where He is taking them.
The pairing of these two pictures together struck me so deeply. This is a picture of the dual nature of our Christian lives. We don't dare stray too far from the knowledge that we are not more than a vapor, that life is extremely short, and we must use it to the best of our abilities; however, that knowledge also gives us the motivation we need to seize and to celebrate life's moments as we are never promised any of them.
We pray that our story, as currently told through Hope Heals, can continue to be a place of encouragement in your faith, as well as a reminder to celebrate life since it so often shorter and different than we would like to think. Thank you for showing us your deep love and support on the continuing journey, one that is perhaps shaping up to look a little more like a progressive dinner between these two houses.