Sunday, January 13, 2008
I have all of these things—trinkets people have given, flowers from the memorial service, the blanket and clothes she wore, all of the many pictures that were taken—and each one of these items is special because they all have one thing in common: Poppy. We knew that each moment we had would be a gift, so I planned as much as I could to make sure there would be tangible items that we would be able to remember her by. I know that ultimately they are just things, yet they are her things, and it is their ability to help us remember that gives them their significance.
As I was thinking about this, a story came to me that reminded me of the importance of refusing to forget. I thought about the Israelites, as they were just about to enter the Promised Land after 40 years of wondering in the wilderness. They stood on the brink of the fulfillment of generations of promise, yet even there they were faced with the formidable obstacle of the Jordan River. The banks of the river were overflowing, effectively preventing the thousands of Israelites from crossing to the other side, until God stepped in and once again miraculously provided for His people.
God instructed Joshua to send the priests with the Ark of the Covenant ahead of the people into the Jordan River, and once they obeyed, God showed Himself faithful. The waters of the Jordan River piled up on top of each other, allowing the people of God’s promise to walk across what should have been watery territory on dry ground. It was a miracle, and it was something that God didn’t want the people who had witnessed it to ever forget.
This was so important that God had Joshua bring 12 stones from the riverbed of the Jordan River to set up on the other side to serve as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to the people of Israel. It wasn’t enough for the people to just talk about it every once in awhile, or reminisce in the years to come about the exciting adventure they were a part of on the eve of entering into the promised land. Instead, God wanted a physical reminder to stand for generations to come as a symbol of His strength, power, love and faithfulness to the Israelites.
Because of this, I decided that what I wanted was a physical place in my house that was set aside to honor Poppy, but even more importantly to remind us on a daily basis of God’s faithfulness to us. With the help of my mom, I was able to set up a beautiful spot in my living room that serves as “Poppy’s Place.” On it I have a candle that contains the poppies from her graveside, several crosses and statues of angels holding babies that were given by friends and family, and an angel’s wing with a verse that speaks of being hidden under the protection of God’s wing. In the drawer of the table I have stored her clothes and blankets, the clay molds of her hands and feet, and the other sweet reminders of her time with us.
It may come across to some as a shrine of sorts to our little baby, but this isn’t what my heart’s motive is. My desire is to keep this out so that I never have a day go by without stopping to think about what God did through the miracle of Poppy Joy. God redeemed something ugly (disease and death) and turned it into something more beautiful than I have ever experienced. I am changed, and I want this spot to be my Stones of Remembrance in the years to come to keep me from ever forgetting what God did in this time of our lives.