linvilles in fellowship

What we learn as we fellowship with other Christians.

linvilles in Love with cheerful giving

On the sidebar to your right, you will notice a convenient PayPal “donate” button that you may use to give us money. Why should you be so generous? Because we see this everyday and we want to end it:

Nope. He's not trying to give me money.

Nope. He’s not trying to give me money.

If we don't reach out, she reaches in!

If we don’t reach out, she reaches in!

What would you do if she were your grandmother?

How long can you look into her eyes without feeling?

…But who are these people?

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.” …“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me. ’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you? ’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me. ’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” – Matthew 25:31-33; 41-46, ESV.

They are the least of these. In their own way, they are emissaries of my King, and as I do unto them, so I do unto my Lord!

However, notice what the verse above does not say: it does not say “give money;” but perhaps Jesus addressed that here:

“And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Matthew 5:40-42, ESV, emphasis mine

I think it’s purposefully vague and therefore meant to be more encompassing than not, so yeah, Jesus knew we’d be faced with opportunities to give money and wanted us to take those opportunities to love others.

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’—when you already have it with you.” Proverbs 3:27-28, ESV

“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18, ESV

To be clear, the Apostle John is teaching that we not love in word or talk ONLY, but ALSO in deed and in truth. If there’s no verbal Christian witness behind my generosity then I get the glory for my good actions instead of God, and I want God to get all the glory.

When my generosity is empowered by the joy of the Lord and established in the promises of Christ, I ALWAYS have something to give, even if I have no money on me:

“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” Acts 3:1-8, ESV, emphasis mine

And this is the point:

I shouldn’t give as the world gives!

To bring this around full circle: Christ calls me to do more than just give money:

He calls me EAT with the poor; welcome the stranger into my home; CLOTHE the naked; and VISIT the sick and imprisoned! What’s terrifying is that Matthew 25 explicitly describes these behaviors as evidences of salvation!

Let that sink in a minute. Now rejoice with me for our Savior Jesus Christ!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10, ESV

Rejoice! God’s worked this out. When I don’t have the ability (or time) to break bread and dress up naked, sick, or imprisoned strangers, it’s okay. God knows. What’s important is my heart. Do I care about the least of these? Am I planning ahead to make time to serve them?

Here’s my confession: I don’t.

I don’t care about the least of these – especially not the way Christ cares for them. Those pictures above were not taken so I could share them with you. I took those pictures because it makes [most] of the least of these go away. Here’s the usual response:

Can you love him?

Can you love him?

It might be hard to tell, but the tall man was upset with me for getting my camera out. What’s easier to see is the shame/resignation in the smaller man’s downcast eyes. They were not feeling loved, and I didn’t love them–but I gave them money.

And this has been one of the most transformative realizations that I’ve ever had about giving:

“You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.” Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

After my field supervisor shared this with me, I wrote it on our refrigerator. I read that sentence everyday, and God used those words to change me. If I want to love and I want to give out of love, then I must give. What must I give?

Myself.

Money is the bunny slope of generosity. Since it’s just a means to an end, money is a 3rd party, distant, and cold gesture of pity. The lost and starving least of these in South Asia don’t need money. They need love. They need love to feed them, give them drink, invite them in, clothe them, and visit them in their distress.

Money is a curse when I use it as a shield. Money is a blessing when I use it as a sword.

Shield money is defensive, unproductive, and passive. Sword money is offensive, progressive, proactive, and intentional.

Here’s where you come in.

1. Pray for me and my family. We must be love to the least of these. We need Jesus to show us how we too were poor, blind, and naked before he saved us. In this we can relate to every broken person we meet: we’re all equally hopeless without Jesus!

2. Donate to our ministry. Yes, we need your money, but it’s not to buy name brand caffeine or kick-starter gadgets. I’ve even been rebuked and corrected for my Romans 13:8 blunder – so it’s not even to help us pay down my student loan debt. When you donate, you decide how we pay it forward. If you don’t specify, we’ll use your benevolence to FEED, INVITE, CLOTHE, & VISIT. Otherwise, here’s what’s going on:

The Deep Tube Well Project!

A tube well is like sticking a straw into the earth. The straw is PVC piping and the depth is between 800 and 1,000 feet! The wells need to be this deep to avoid the arsenic deposits that are present between 100 and 700 feet. We’re hoping to donate ten deep tube wells to villages in the southern division of the country. We’ve completed seven, and already a few have broken.

Student loans are a nightmare, but it is the only debt we have. At the time of this update (Feb 12, 2015), it amounts to $20,580.14 and it grows about $2.30 per day, but we’re currently only able to put $5 per day ($1,825/year) toward it. If you have experience in financial counseling, we’d appreciate any help you can offer, just leave a comment so we can connect with you. If you can afford to send some money our way, we would be incredibly grateful! If you understand the horrific burden of this type of debt, then please pray for us!

Helping us eliminate this debt is giving to missions.

We earnestly desire to conform to Romans 13:8 and we believe that this is the only stipulation given in Scripture for NOT giving! We must pay off those who already have a legal claim on our income before we can do anything else. Therefore, if you are in debt, don’t give to us! Get out of debt first, then stay our of debt! I definitely need to write a whole post on this, and if you disagree, please explain why in the comments (it will enrich the aforementioned upcoming post)! In short, the faster we get out of debt, the quicker we will be free to begin wisely lifting up the financially destitute multitudes around us in the name of Jesus. But how will we do that? Freeing up $5/day doesn’t seem like much lifting power. Wrong.

Five dollars a day can make a huge difference.

Since moving overseas, we’ve learned that our charity should never pass directly from us to the poor, but should always go to them through the local church; and only AFTER we’ve prayed, shared our specific intentions with our stateside home church and church partners, prayed again, and shared our intentions with the local pastor here. Using this accountability,

  • we are able to receive wisdom several times over before giving anything,
  • we engage more of the Body of Christ in our work,
  • we shower the giving in prayer,
  • we submit ourselves to the local church to encourage its authority in Christ, and
  • we then give to the local church.

Giving to the poor through the existing local church here affirms that the local church is the vehicle for administering God’s love; not us outsiders. Your donations will be used to open doors, and through those doors we will walk, and everywhere we walk we preach Christ.

Categories: linvilles in fellowship, linvilles in giving, linvilles in life, linvilles in prayer, linvilles in scripture, linvilles in sharing the gospel | Leave a comment

linvilles in Love with Baby Showers

Hi there! Mrs. linville here for a change. I just thought I would blog a little bit about a super awesome past event that kinda took over my spare time for a few months. And by a few months I might mean like about 6 months…you know. I was excited. As soon as I found out that one of my best girlfriends was going to have a baby, my creative party planning juices began to flow…and when those juices flow, there isn’t much you can do but go with the flow.

To better understand the reasons behind such crazy long planning, I will provide some background. First off, Claire is such a sweet, compassionate, and loving friend that I just couldn’t help but want to give her and little soon-to-be-born Eli the most amazing baby shower I could manage. She deserved every bit of it. Her husband Kenny also happens to be one of my husband’s oldest and best friends, so all around, an awesome family. They needed an awesome baby shower.

Secondly, I was excited, like I stated previously. Sometimes I just get that itch…that certain “I need to throw a crazy party” itch…and it must be scratched. Oh yes. It must. I love to make things and be creative…and lets face it, there are so many mind blowing DIY things you can find on the internet these days, there really is no reason why you can’t do affordable and fun all at once.

Thirdly, I had a very small budget. And by small, I mean that my goal was to stay under $50. Food, decorations, everything. I did get pretty close to sticking to it…I think if I added up absolutely everything I bought for the shower, it probably was about $60 total..so not too bad, right? Anyway, one of the major reasons I started planning so early was because of my slim budget. I knew that the more items I could find on sale or at thrift stores would mean a cheaper event for me in the long run. Thankfully, the seminary here has a “Share Shop” (pretty much just like Goodwill except everything is free as long as you are a student, spouse, or employee at the seminary). I found the bulk of my party materials there for free (though much needed some DIY loving).

So on to the shower. I decided to do a vintage and garden inspired tea party since it seemed to fit Claire the best. She is a very feminine person and loves tea, so I thought she would like it. However, as amazing as an actual garden tea party would be, we live in an apartment and there really weren’t very many nearby options, so I decided to make it an indoor garden party. This worked out in the long run anyway, since the weather was still pretty hot at the time. Having been pregnant in the summer myself, I knew that would most likely be miserable for Claire as well. Keeping the hot weather in mind, I also decided to make it an iced tea party. Let me just say it was a good choice.

I made invitations on Vistaprint as well as some “mommy cards” and only had to pay for shipping (love Vistaprint!!!). I also bought a roll of printed kraft wrapping paper from our local Dollar Tree and made my own envelopes for the invitations. Since all but a couple of the invitees go to our church, I was able to add some cute cut out teapots and ribbon to the envelopes and not worry about them going through the mail–I just handed them out. Saved on postage too 🙂

I knew I wanted the decorations to be different than your average baby shower–Claire and Kenny decided to do a green/yellow/brown nursery with a forest animal theme, so your basic blue was out of the question. This also tied in well with the “garden” aspect of the tea party–I wanted natural and outdoorsy tempered with femininity, since the shower was technically for Claire and I wanted her to feel pampered, though I didn’t want it so girly that you forgot that the shower was also for a little boy. What a delicate white picket fence to traverse. Traverse it I did, though, and rather successfully in my humble opinion.

I should probably apologize in advance right now. A lot of the things I did for this shower were ideas I got from browsing other people’s blogs and crafts. I will give credit to everyone that I can remember, but I’m afraid I wasn’t thinking about blogging this event when I started the planning process, so I really don’t have a clue where I got most of the ideas. I am so sorry.

I started with a couple different garlands. No crepe paper streamers here! My first was some fabric bunting. I know, they are everywhere. But so cute! How could I resist? Since I had a pretty decent stash of vintage sheets and material scraps, I dug out my pinking shears and started cutting triangles. I then cut out strips of fabric and ran everything through my sewing machine. Easy and awesome. I also cut strips of coordinating green, yellow, and white patterned fabric. I think I cut at least 3 hours if you add it all up. My fingers were not very happy, but they persevered. One green striped clothesline from the dollar store and many many many fabric knots later, I had yet another wonderful garland. For good measure, I also made some lovely paper heart garlands out of old wedding magazines. I just picked pages that were mostly in my color scheme. They turned out great, although I would suggest making them right before you intend to hang them up…otherwise they tend to get messed up, even by being set in a box for a couple weeks. Or just use sturdier paper.

Another fun decoration idea I had was to make a double tier lace “chandelier”. I made it in the style of a ribbon chandelier, so out came the pinking shears again. I did a lot of cutting for this shower.

I also made a teacup wreath. In my hunt for serving ware I ran across a handful of mismatched teacups. With just a little ribbon, hot glue, and a grapevine wreath I found, it turned into a really cute first impression for the party. Some strands of fake pearls and a cute sparkly pin finished it.

Goodness, there was a lot. Well, as this post is getting rather long, I will try to keep the explanations short…I made various chalkboards out of old picture frames to serve as menus. There was a “rose tree” fashioned out of sticks and rolled fabric roses to hang encouragements and advice cards on. For party favors I made a ton of rolled fabric rose headbands (which I am going to start selling in my new Etsy shop, Make All Things New. Listings coming soon!). I made my own cake stands and serving tiers out of vintage plates and candlesticks. There was a baby clothes clothesline full of things Eli will eventually be able to wear. I made a diaper TRAIN. Yep, a train, not a cake. It was so fun! I kinda wish I had taken a picture of it now, but I was really busy at the time. You know how it gets. In fact, I didn’t actually take any pictures myself. All of the lovely photos in this post are from my gracious and wonderful friend Adrienne Fox who is a photographer (check her out here . She does amazing wedding photography and I believe she is also branching out into family and maternity shoots as well.)

For the menu we had tea sandwiches, a veggie plate with dip, cranberry scones, deli meats, cheeses, and crackers, and fruit with dip. All the ladies in our small group brought at least one of these items–it was all so good! Thanks girls! I would not have been able to pull off that much food by myself. The fruit turned out especially well–I used 3 white teapots as my bases, then turned them into those edible fruit bouquets you see for sale. Not as hard as you would think, and it makes for a pretty cool presentation.

Dessert was the one area of the party that turned out ok in the end, but fell rather short of my original grand designs. I had planned to make tiramisu served in individual teacups, and two of my girlfriends offered to bring a chocolate cake frosted in almond icing and pie pops. Well, I had never made tiramisu before (I am notorious for trying new recipes out for events without testing them first…call me confident), but how hard could it be? I started making ladyfingers and the creamy filling…when disaster struck. In my tired state, surrounded by a very messy kitchen with very little counter space, I managed to knock the whipped cream onto the floor. It went everywhere. As this transpired around midnight the night before the shower, I almost had a melt down. Thankfully, my sweet husband and our amazing next door neighbors the Smith(s) were there to comfort and be creative with the ingredients I had left. In the end, there was no tiramisu, but a very rich and creamy peanut buttery concoction that I dubbed “Midnight Peanut Butter Insanity”. We dished it out into the teacups and nobody was the wiser. Thank you, Smith(s) !!! Apparently dessert was giving my other two girlfriends a hard time as well–the almond frosting wouldn’t stick to the cake and the pie pops didn’t appreciate being put on sticks, so we ended up with a basic (but very tasty) chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and mini apple pies, sans pops. Just goes to show you that we have plans, but God directs our steps. I’m thankful that everything tasted just fine though 🙂 God is good.

We had tea! Lots of tea. There was regular sweet tea, orange spice tea, raspberry tea. We also had lemonade, water, and lime punch. There were coffee and hot tea options as well. Mmmmm.  That reminds me of one other crafty thing I did. I got a pack of straws at the dollar store and sorted out the yellow, green and blue ones. Then I cut out butterfly shapes from some pretty scrapbook paper (thank you Martha Stewart!) and put them on the straws. Everyone wrote their name on the wings in order to tell which drink was whose.

I did a couple games as well. Both were super easy and pretty fun. The first one was “Don’t say Baby”. Essentially, everyone is given 2 clothespins at the beginning of the party. The goal is to have the most at the end. The way you get extra clothespins is by listening to the conversations around you and calling out anyone who says the word “baby”. That person then has to give you one of their clothespins. The other game we played was guessing how big Claire’s tummy was by cutting off various lengths of yarn. It was pretty entertaining to see extremely long or short pieces being cut off. The winners got a prize–one was a cute green apple teapot full of tea and cookies, and the other was a spa/bath basket with bath salts, a candle, and some other pampering items.

I also had a time of prayer and encouragement for Claire. It was so sweet to hear all the wisdom and love coming from the ladies as they prayed and fellowshipped. Such a wonderful time.

In the end, I think we had about 35 people show up. Claire and Kenny were blessed with many useful and cute baby things for little Eli, and the party was a hit. I was very blessed to be able to do something for them and am so thankful for everyone who came and contributed so much to the party. It was so much fun to create and throw for the Hilliard(s). Maybe I’ll do another one sometime. For now, however, my itch has been scratched. My husband probably thinks that is a good thing too, at least for the time being. 🙂

In Love,

the linville(s)

Categories: linvilles in fellowship, linvilles in life | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

linvilles in Love with loss

So much has happened in the past month to destroy us, our marriage, and our faith. Through it all, God prevails.

It started with a hurricane. Thankfully, hurricane Irene shot further north at the last second, so its real destructive force missed us, but was now aimed directly at where my dad lives, in Virginia Beach, VA.

He called me on Friday needing somewhere to evacuate to. Our place was perfect, being safely far enough and geographically close enough to his place. The only problem was that my wife wasn’t feeling well and her ailments seemed to be related to the pregnancy.

The plan was for dad to leave Virginia Beach on Saturday morning at around 6:00am, and arrive at our home around 9:30-10:00am. I’d be at work until 2:00pm. That’s not what happened.

Mrs. linville woke me up at around 2:20am in extreme pain. She was bleeding heavily. I called my Aunt Sandy who had been through a miscarriage. She also just so happened to be married to a doctor, and the man who had delivered five of their six children at home, my Uncle Tim.

They comforted us well, provided us with things to expect, and assured us that, based on my wife’s symptoms, there was presently no need to go to the hospital. I was relieved to hear that for Mrs. linville’s sake, as well as for the sake of our finances because we have no health insurance. The morning crept on. Mrs. linville struggled through the pain. I emailed my boss telling him that I would not be coming into work that day.

More than anything else I did, staying home to simply be near my wife did more for her than the strongest of pain pills. I can grasp that now, but at the time I wanted something tangible to fix. Something objective to deal with. So I did research on my bride’s symptoms, which kept me busy enough to satisfy my growing sense of helplessness as my wife suffered before my eyes.

Her pain came in waves. She was so exhausted that during the down times she would pass out asleep. I held her hand and prayed. A part of me felt that this simple task benefited her in no way; that praying for her was more about making me feel better. Amazingly, God had prepared me for just such a moment. Only 2 days ago I had participated in a men’s Bible Study that specifically dealt with whether or not our prayers actually affect change. I learned in preparing for this study and during this study that the Bible speaks very plainly about how our prayers certainly do affect change in the world (Matthew 6:10), in the lives of others (John 17:9), and in our own hearts (Philippians 4:6-7).

Recalling these words of Scripture was like being filled with living light. The hope that accompanied them was so needed and delightful. I may be helpless, but God is ever helpful and able to intervene (Ephesians 3:20).

So my prayers continued on earnestly. The morning finally blew in, Mrs. linville seemed to be in amiable spirits, and my dad arrived. We enjoyed the McDonalds breakfast he brought us and then the power went out. Somewhat surprised, we looked out our 15ft windows to see nothing but a windy day. Why had we lost power? There were obviously innumerable reasons, but my frustration robbed me of such helpful logic.

It was nice having Dad safe with us, even though his chosen refuge now proved somewhat lacking. The Smith(s) joined us with some snacks and games shortly after the black out. We played Apples to Apples, my wife answered the phone (many called to check on her) until it died, and everyone enjoyed the deep leisurely conversation that stems from having nothing but conversation to pass the time. Initially, it was wonderful. Eventually, it was not. If electricity were a drug, then we were addicts, and our addiction led us to abandon our place for another.

As the night approached our powerless palace, we called up the Hilliard(s). Always ready to serve, they unhesitatingly welcomed us over. The Smith(s) and the linville(s) (including my dad), headed over for a fun night of food and fellowship. Claire made a delicious meal for everyone and we all had a splendid time playing Dicecapades. By 11:30pm the air outside had cooled down, we bid farewell to our hospitable Hilliard(s) and headed home.

The night passed restlessly. The windows had remained opened all day, even while it rained; and as the sun set, the temperature dropped, and the wind blew, I awoke with yet another frustration. I could barely swallow. My throat was sore and swollen. Yippee.

Thankfully, no one else had suffered likewise. At least, not as far as I could tell. My Dad had been unable to sleep, so he packed up and headed home very early that morning. When he arrived, everything about his place was fine, even the power. The eye of the hurricane went directly over his condo, and he had power. I’m not bitter.

We skipped church since my bride was still experiencing some relatively serious pain and I was now sick. Unable to really prepare any food, we rested around the apartment until our hunger moved us. Craving breakfast food, we visited the new Waffle House in Wake Forest for lunch. Delicious.

Not wanting to return to our uncooled dwelling during the hottest part of the day, we ventured forth to public places with AC, namely, the Triangle Town Center Mall. We tried to walk around, but that proved to be unhelpful for my wife. So, we sat around, got some Dairy Queen chocolate dipped cones, watched people, laughed, and headed home.

We host one of the many small groups that make up Treasuring Christ Church. Even if we don’t make it to church, we always try to keep our home available as a meeting place. Thus, we headed home to get everything ready for the evening. It was only after we had cleaned up that we remembered that everyone was meeting at Joyner Park. We were okay with that. It’s always nice having a clean home, especially when no one is feeling well.

Checking the cooler that was preserving our perishables, we realized that we needed to find a working refrigerator fast. The Hilliard(s) were happy to oblige, and, before I hung up, I remembered to inquire for the Smith(s) as well. After speaking with the Smith(s) I called the Hilliard(s) back to inform them of Ross’s desire to prepare them dinner with some chicken he needed to cook. The Hilliard(s) were delighted and we all headed over…again.

Desiring to increase my cooking skills, I helped Ross prepare the chicken. I’d never before taken a whole chicken apart and took this opportunity to let loose my inner butcher. It was fun, albeit messy. Ross took over once the dirty work was done and seasoned away, creating an incredible gastronomical masterpiece out of some rather poorly butchered poultry. The final result was scrumptious.

Hunger temporarily assuaged, the Smith(s) took to studying and everyone else took to watching Tim Burton’s movie: Corpse Bride. I’d already seen it and consequentially spaced out through it, thinking about whether to take the Hilliard(s) up on their offer to stay the night, or deal with another muggy night at home. If my wife was suffering, she hid it flawlessly; so I was planning on going to work the next day and knew it would be more convenient to do so from my own dwelling. But, I also knew that I’d get a better night’s sleep in the Hilliard(s) artificial atmosphere. Twas a pickle.

Fortunately for me, the pickle was eaten, for shortly after Corpse Bride, our power returned. Yay! Getting ready for work would be so much easier now! So, with a final farewell from our hilarious Hilliard(s), we returned to our wonderfully wired homes. Everything seemed to indicate that this ordeal was over, but nothing could have been further from the truth.

At first, Mrs. linville sounded as though she were far, far away, down a long tunnel. Something about her voice was wrong. Danger! My tired exhausted mind dropped a huge dose of adrenaline into my system. My hearing sharpened. I jerked upright, taking in a huge breath. Reaching out to find her in the darkness, it felt like my hand passed right through her since I had aimed in the direction of her voice. Then I realized I had reached over her, seeing now that she was doubled over on the bed.

Danger! My heart was racing. I began to ask her if she was okay when I was suddenly interrupted by a heart shattering sob. She rocked back and forth weeping. I put my hand on her back to let her know I was awake and there for her. The next sob was worse, deeper, almost guttural, and much louder. It hit me that she’d been holding back to keep from waking me. My darling wife, suffering in the darkness in unimaginable pain, was still putting herself last.

I fought my own tears back. Controlled my voice. Spoke with assurance. I let her know that everything would be okay. I held her. But something was different. Saturday mornings episode seemed to be painful, but this seemed to be excruciating. Cold sweat covered her body. Tremors passed through her frequently. Her cries were like those of someone dying. My heart stopped. Was my bride going to die?

She seemed in a trance and I needed her to communicate with me. She spoke in short broken sentences, but she confirmed my initial thoughts immediately: that this was different from before. There was so much blood! It didn’t take long to see that she needed to go to the emergency room. The Cooper(s) lovingly agreed to sit in our place while baby linville slept (and to feed him once he awoke), so off we went.

My wife had delivered baby linville at Rex Hospital and her OB/GYN office was there, so that’s where we ended up. By this point it was 2:00am. Telling the attendant at the check in desk, a total stranger, that my wife was bleeding profusely and was probably having a miscarriage was harder than I thought. Saying those words hurt my heart. Everything became concrete, cold, and undeniable in hearing it. I had to accept this. I was not dreaming in a nightmare. I was living in one.

The nurse behind the desk assured me that she’d take care of my bride and that I should go park the car. When I returned my wife had been moved behind the ER doors and into a hallway. When the nurse buzzed the doors to open, I gasped. my wife’s head was completely back, eyes closed, lips pale blue, and beneath her wheelchair was a pool of blood. I’d only been four minutes! As calmly as I could I screamed, “Why is she still sitting here!?” The nurse came around to quiet me and assure me she’d be helped as soon as possible, but when she saw my wife, she quickly turned, muttering a surprised, “oh-my-gosh,” and hit a button. My wife was in a room in seconds.

What I didn’t realize was that “hitting the button” had a down side: you get the sleepy nurse who was just about to go home. It was good that Mrs. linville was finally on a bed and hooked up, but this nurse was so sleepy that she had to get two pairs of gloves three times (she kept dropping them). Furthermore, she seemed more put off by all the blood than I did, making Mrs. linville change twice before she realized, “oh, this girls just gonna keep making these gowns bloody.” When she knocked an entire tray of supplies over, I began to get a little frustrated.

Nevertheless, she was relieved shortly by someone on the other end of the spectrum, Julie (RN), who did a wonderful job taking care of my wife and getting her prepared for the doctor. Dr. Segal was also excellent: very forthright with us about what was happening to my wife, what it meant, and what our options were in proceeding. He gave us his professional opinion, but didn’t pressure us to do anything. In the end, we can look back and know that our decision was our decision.

As Mrs. linville was taken away for an ultrasound, my own emotional pain set in. “Still a family of three,” kept running through my mind, usually followed by a deafening ‘why!?’ despite my deeply rooted knowledge of God’s sovereignty. I’m amazed I didn’t pass out standing right there. I was sick, mind-numbingly exhausted, and spiritually spent. In short, my flesh had free reign over my soul, and by my sinful heart I was beaten down with every horrible thought imaginable. “You didn’t pay attention.” “You missed the signs.” “You could’ve prevented this.” “You’re stupid.” “You’re the worst husband ever.” “You failed your wife.” “You killed this baby.” “You’re such an idiot.” etc.

Well, I’m quite familiar with self abasement. Growing up believing that God only loved me when I did good things, I became oh so ever aware of my innumerable faults and endured years of self depreciating thoughts. As I studied the Bible and learned that I cannot be saved by good deeds but only by Christ, I was liberated from such thinking. I continue to battle these thoughts, but I have the grace of God to overcome them as I walk in the power of the blood of Jesus Christ. At 2:30am, however, I wasn’t walking in His power. I was trying to sprint in my own, but I was falling. I mentally folded and I couldn’t  pray or recall Scripture. I just couldn’t fighting back, and that lead to a much more horrific train of thought.

“It’s her fault.” That was the next thing I thought. It entered my mind and it felt as though the lights dimmed and the temperature (which was already freezing) dropped. Inexplicably, despite my complete exhaustion, I found the energy to get angry. Anger towards her and towards God, filled me. But how could I be angry!? How, knowing my precious wife’s fight for life raged on in the next room!? How could I feel anything but worry and desperation for her life?! The answer was clear, for it hung over me. It was painful, dark, and demonic. I wanted to scream. I wanted to connect my fist with something. I wanted it to hurt. Any pain would be better than the pain I presently felt,  consuming me from within.

But I was too weak to even stand, let alone pick a fight with an inanimate object. I could barely hold in a deep breath, let alone scream. A migraine pounded away at my brain, a sore throat burned inside my neck, and my raging emotions were trapped within my breaking evil heart. No matter how great the emotions became, I couldn’t release them. My beloved wife was being ripped from me by anger, and I found myself being inexplicably tempted to be mad her. What!? Impossible!

My sweetheart, my bride, the woman I love more than my own life, was enduring unimaginable physical, emotional, and spiritual anguish! How could this temptation be!? What was its source!? I proclaim to all the world that I love my wife wholeheartedly and cannot even imagine being angry toward her! But there the temptation lurked! Darkness overshadowed me and I was powerless before it.

Then God stepped in.

Please forgive my crude comparison, but this is the best way that I can describe what happened next:

I was sitting in this cold room, still as a statue,  but with this chaotic angry temptation whirling inside me, when something that felt like a rolling pin rolled over my mind. The words I had been thinking to form these emotions disappeared. I couldn’t think in words. All I had were images and feelings. No words. My wife’s face was before me. The anger in me wanted her. My wife’s face turned apologetic, sad, tearful. The anger changed into pure grief, but the chaotic angry temptation held on.

Please note: I am describing existentially metaphysical concepts of feeling that are never as substantial as the conveyance of such into written form makes them. What I’ve written is but the brightest facet of said feelings and is by no means meant to perfectly or entirely depict what was felt. One thing must be clear: thanks to God’s intervention, I never hated my wife in this.

The migraine pounded, my throat burned, my body ached. I was so very tired. I could still feel the temptation: that I was about to think that hatred towards my innocent wife when it happened again!

My mind was touched and felt like it was being rolled over. I couldn’t think in words and this time all thoughts of my wife disappeared along with my ability to “see” images in my mind. Instantly, I was alone in a cold room, my mind silent and dark, with this incredible anger churning inside me. I wept. The pain had to go somewhere, so it came out my eyes in tears. But crying didn’t assuage the anger and it made my head feel like it was going to explode and restricted my sore throat even more.

“This is God’s fault” came the thought, but not in words, just in unspoken, unvisualized concepts. My evil heart was blaming God. Like attempting to hurt a brick wall with ones bare hands, I was trying to beat on Him. The futile effort made me even angrier, to the point of almost screaming out my indictments against the Almighty. The breath to do so filled my lungs, but fell short by the most amazing thing yet.

Another rolling pin. Another touch to my mind. But this one was different. When it hit me I gasped; both hands flew up to my head. For a moment I couldn’t tell if I was experiencing incredible pain or incredible relief. As my anger inexplicably faded, as the migraine disappeared, as the sore throat vanished, the relief was obvious; but this was a secondary thing.

I didn’t notice these physical reliefs until later. What I noticed first was God’s overwhelming love. It filled me and pushed everything else away. I was loved! In the midst of this anguish, I was not alone! The emotional and spiritual relief was far more satisfying than anything else. Images of my wonderful loving wife filled my mind, untainted by the rage that oppressed me only moments before. I loved her with God right there, and prayed that she too would have this peace that cascaded over me.

Words of thanksgiving and praises to God flowed through my thoughts. It was while praying and thanking God, and thinking of things to thank Him for, that I realized my physical relief. I sat in that cold room, warmed by God’s presence and care, fully aware that I had done nothing to deserve this, in fact, I had done everything to deserve the opposite. So I sat and waited for Mrs. linville in the bliss of my heavenly Father’s mercy.

The ultra sound confirmed what we already knew: that little Linville was with Jesus. Dr. Segal explained to us my wife’s unique situation, which was that her body wouldn’t pass the tissue naturally due to the uterine septum. He therefore advised us that the best course of action was for my wife to get a D and C (dilation and curettage). They left us to talk it over. After considering the pros and cons, we decided that the safest thing for my wife was to get everything cleared out now.

As they moved Mrs. linville to surgery, I followed closely behind, offering words of comfort. With a final kiss, they took her away from me again. The difference in how I felt this time compared to how I felt when they had taken her for the ultrasound was incredible. This time I was filled with the peace that passes all understanding, for my heart and mind were being guarded in Christ Jesus. In the surgery waiting room I prayed for my wife until I passed out asleep. The next thing I saw was Dr. Segal. Like a caring father he gently woke me up and patiently waited while I got my bearings. He then explained to me that everything had gone perfectly and that we had made the right choice to go with the D & C. That was comforting. Shortly thereafter I was taken to see my wife in the post-op recovery room.

When the nurse pulled back the dividing curtain, there sat the love of my life, my wonderful wife: the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She would’ve described herself as showcasing the “just hit by a train” look, but nothing could change my mind. My wife was alive and giving me the most welcoming smile and she was absolutely beautiful. Hugging her gently took a tremendous effort. I just wanted to hold her.

It was all downhill from there. A nurse sent me for the car and we made it home alright. It had been the longest eight hours of my life, but it was over, and, in the midst of it, God had richly lavished His blessings over me, and He wasn’t finished.

Later we learned that Rex Hospital has a benevolence fund for the uninsured and that Mrs. linville’s pregnancy medicaid might also cover the expenses retroactively. Furthermore, we received so much love and support from Treasuring Christ Church that my wife was able to truly rest and heal and grieve (as was I).

I know it’s not over. The loss is ours forever, but we do not bear it alone; we bear it in God, who is love.

So, we are the linvilles, and we are in Love with loss.

Categories: linvilles in fellowship, linvilles in giving, linvilles in life, linvilles in scripture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

linvilles in Love with new friends

Our adventures with the Smith(s) have continued unabated. After my previous entry about them in ‘linvilles in Love with neighbors‘, I had a twinge of concern that my first impression was a little idealistic. My concern, however, was unfounded. After spending what some might consider an appalling amount of time together (from breakfast to dinner…and beyond), the Smith(s) continue to bless us with their wisdom, humor, and love for Christ.

It was also a pleasure to meet Sarah Smith’s little brother Samuel. He is an incredibly intelligent, observant, and intuitive kid. Mrs. linville and I met him because he had been invited to spend a few nights over at the Smith(s). Once again, we were flabbergasted. The Smith(s) have only been married  13 days! Most couples are still on their honeymoon. Not the Smith(s), they’re opening up their doors to family. That’s something most newly weds avoid until year two! They are so awesome (in Christ)!

On Wednesday the linville(s), Smith(s), and Sam enjoyed a delicious breakfast followed by some relaxation. Eventually, the guys went out to inspect Veder (our 1996 Volvo station wagon) and do some job hunting. On the way we picked up Tom, a hitch hiker. We made it clear to him that we only did so because we are Christians, but at the “C” word he theretofore deflected any further comments. Later, Ross revealed that he had actually spoken with Tom once before in downtown Raleigh. It made me hopeful for Tom. God is continuously putting believers in his path.

I am in awe of how Jesus Christ ceaselessly pursues His Bride!

So, onward we went to what businesses seemed like plausible places of employment. I had a great time with Ross and Sam, gallivanting around Wake Forest, hanging out at the Wake Forest Coffee Company, pranking my wife and Sarah while they grocery shopped, and talking to potential students for the North Wake NU-Acoustic Music Academy!

The linville(s), Smith(s), Sam, Cooper(s), Trell, and Gary all enjoyed an incredible meal cooked by my lovely wife Wednesday night. Some stayed for ice cream, and some stayed even longer to watch The Adjustment Bureau (Trell [which was pretty good]). Some even stayed for coffee after that (the Smith[s]), but, alas, Wednesday soon had to end. (Smith[s], Cooper[s], and Gary shown below)

I compensated for it by waking the Smith(s) up to some guitar music and singing at around 9:30am Thursday morning (Sam let me in unbeknownst to them). The music started softly, but it didn’t end that way. I blame Ross for joining in and musically calling down the Holy Spirit who anointed our praise with loudness.  I later caught wind of a complaint from one of their neighbors … fail. Nevertheless, the Smith(s) forgave me and onward we went.

Thursday balanced Wednesday in that not a great deal happened … outwardly, that is. Inwardly, a whole lot was happening. Inwardly, Mrs. linville was struggling with some overwhelming feelings and couldn’t stop crying. Inwardly, I was feeling convicted for having failed to take my honey out on a date in a whole month. Inwardly, Judah digested magic. Inwardly, Ross metabolized cosmic harmonies. Inwardly, Sarah found humor in uncommon places. Inwardly, Sam invented pedagogic paradoxes for discontinued LG cell phones. Inwardly, there is no Endwardly!!! (…and I digress…)

Speaking concisely, Thursday was ultimately about “talks.” You know, the kind of “talks” that sometimes involve loud words. The kind of “talks” that often precede or follow tears and snot. The kind of “talks” that make men and women feel like different species and best friends. Yes! The kind of “talks” that make marriage possible.

Talking, however, cannot last forever (hallelujah), and Thursday ended with some things happening. First, the linville(s) watched the movie Priest (a futuristic cowboy vampire movie…yeah) while the Smith(s) had a “talk.” Then, the Smith(s) lovingly volunteered to watch Judah while I got to (finally) take Mrs. linville out on a little date (to Olive Garden). It was awesome. Upon returning, we lounged around with the Smith(s) until it was time to bid farewell once again. Moments before that happened, we surprised the Smith(s) with some of God’s love and ended the day sprinting down the hall away from Ross, locking the door and going to bed. We really do love our new friends.

in Love

the linvilles

Categories: linvilles in fellowship | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

linvilles in Love with neighbors

We met some amazing people yesterday. Meet the Smith(s):

They are AWESOME! They got married one week ago, but show incredible maturity. The Smith(s) are known separately as Ross and Sarah and have one spectacular life story going. We had them over for ice-cream on Friday night and enjoyed hearing some of their story, which went well into the morning. Stories about people who center on Jesus Christ are like that: captivating.

Ross is inspiring, spiritually and musically. Spiritually, he is a man of great faith, following wherever God leads, even if practical wisdom scorns it. Musically, because he can make magical things happen with a guitar (especially with his Batson guitar. I’ll talk about that momentarily). Sarah is encouraging, spiritually and relationally. Spiritually, because she showed such great trust in God as she waited for Him to work out the second biggest decision of her life (who she’ll marry). Relationally, she also displays incredible faith in following Ross as he braves the course God has set for him, blazing a trail that very few women that I know could follow. I mean, they are both just so awesome!

In addition to the amazing time we had reveling in the beauty and greatness of God, Ross blessed me with one of the greatest musical experiences of my life: getting to play a Batson guitar. This is no overstatement, and I play a Taylor 410-CE daily. I know what playing a good guitar feels like…and I got to play a GREAT guitar yesterday. This guitar is so different, so much better than what you see everywhere else, that a few months ago, Ross traveled to the headquarters of the Batson Guitar Company in Nashville, TN and asked the founders (the Batson brothers themselves) to sell him a franchise! They took him seriously, heard him out, and now Ross is taking steps here in Wake Forest, NC to introduce the South East to the best guitar in the world. Amazing fact: Ross is 20. Yeah, amazing. Nevertheless, ventures of this magnitude come with huge obstacles and the Smith(s) sincerely welcome all the prayers they can get.

Please check out the Batson Guitar Company website: here.

You can also see the Smith’s company, North Wake Nu Acoustic, here. It is totally awesome.

We look forward to seeing what amazing things God is going to do through Ross and Sarah Smith. Stay posted and watch with us!

in Love,

the linvilles

Categories: linvilles in fellowship | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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