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joe reed

Alice in the Palace

At the urging of some very dear people I have compiled, edited, and formatted the “Alice blogs” into book form, and am happy to say that Alice in the Palace is, to the best of my abilities and with the help of a few good friends, done and ready to go. As many of you know because you walked the journey with us, this is the story of my four-year-old daughter Alice from the first mysterious symptoms until her death from a brain stem tumor 8-1/2 months later. Along the way, I recorded a fairly raw account of what we were experiencing and feeling, for better and for worse, along with my own reflections on Alice, wrestlings with God’s involvement, thoughts about the prayers of his people and the fate of children who die. I also wrote an epilogue on the anniversary of Alice’s funeral, which was just last week.

Thanks to everyone who followed Alice’s story and encouraged us along the way, and if you’d like a nicely organized pretty good looking (if I do say so myself) record of Alice’s story you can get one, or it might be an encouragement for a friend who’s going through “the stuff.” I don’t know why you might want to buy one, but if you do, now you can!

For what it’s worth, I bought a copy myself and I really like it. And (far) more importantly, Michele approves. By the way, Michele drew the cover picture for a card she sent to Alice’s best friend Kenzie, and I loved it so much that I took a picture of it before she dropped it in the mail.

The book is available at Amazon.com in paperback for $10, Kindle for $5. If you purchase a print copy you can get the kindle version for free.

jr

Suck It Up

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you…
Ephesians 4:1 ESV

Once, while reading through the book of Ephesians, it struck me as a bit odd that here smack dab in the center of his letter, Paul mentions the fact that he’s in prison. I’d expect maybe that he’d do that at the beginning, perhaps at the end, but to stick it here seems out of place. Continue reading “Suck It Up”

In Which I Discover I am Immoral

I am now immoral when once I wasn’t, and I didn’t do nothin’. These are my thoughts concerning my recent, rather unpleasant, self-discovery. Continue reading “In Which I Discover I am Immoral”

My Confession: I Have a Thing for Old Ladies

Regarding the title of this piece, I must make an admission up front, which I only offer because you already know, and it would be highly insulting of me to presume you didn’t. The title is provocative; after all, that’s what I’m supposed to do in this age of cacophonous digital voices straining to stand out from the congested landscape of social media, frantically trying to grasp your attention. Then, in true clickbaity fashion, once curiosity has enticed its victim to give a little peek into this rabbit hole, what is discovered is rather mundane and boring. The lion doesn’t bite the man’s head off, the couple getting engaged don’t fall off the cliff, you won’t really be shocked at what she looks like now, and though I’ve never checked into it, I’m sure that secret the casinos don’t want you to know probably has more to do with the quality of the lobster on the buffet than the secret to victory over the slot machine. We are not fools; you and I. It’s merely a game we play, but pretend we don’t. I pretend my writing needs no suggestive title to be read; you pretend that you are immune to such juvenile tactics, yet here we are, and both rather embarrassed about the thing. Continue reading “My Confession: I Have a Thing for Old Ladies”

A few little things to note:

I added some new things to What I’m listening to for your auditory pleasure and/or edification. I particularly enjoyed (for the third time or so) Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story story about Mrs. Bullfrog, which is perhaps more relevant and culturally fitting in our day than we may care to admit. And while in my shop I was enraptured in the vision of God Sinclair Ferguson presented so beautifully, I also ignored the strain I was putting my table saw through until the motor burnt out. Still, I can scarcely recommend this sermon highly enough.

Don’t forget to register for our upcoming Spring Conference with Dr. Peter Jones. Registration is both free and required. If the registration process frightens you (entering an email address that “they” will have), contact Eric or me and we’ll register you under the name of some notorious heretic. I think the next name to be used is Marcion, unless Andy Stanley has reserved it for himself.

JC Ryle texted me from my Dad’s phone this week:
When an eagle is happy in an iron cage,
when a sheep is happy in the water,
when an owl is happy in the blasé of noonday sun,
when a fish is happy on the dry land –
then, and not until then will I admit
that the unsanctified man could be happy in Heaven.

My birthday was this week. Spent much time thinking about last year’s birthday – Alice on my lap laughing opening my presents and blowing out my candles (picture of that here), the first little signs of her tumor’s recurrence were showing up making it somewhat miserable for me as I tried to soak up all the good and properly ignore the bad I couldn’t do anything about. I think much of eternity, and in a way, yesterday I turned 40 but kinda wish I’d turned 70. I’d look good for a 70yr. old. Anyway, itching to see her again, itching to get on with the business of eternal life. God give me patience to endure to the end.

(Almost) Too Hot to Handle, and Another Thing Not as Hot as You Might Think.

My family and I spent a very casual and relaxed Christmas dinner with my sister and her family, and somewhere in the mealtime conversation she asked me, “So what are you going to write about next?”

I said something like, “I don’t really know. Something other than suffering, for a change.” Granted, for us it’s been a year that has had a lot of suffering in it, and unlike the inimitable 17th century theologian/writer John Owen who was able to endure the death of ten children and hardly pen a public word about it, I’ve hardly been able to think or write about anything else. It’s probably getting old to hear the same thing over and over. So it’s time for a change. Continue reading “(Almost) Too Hot to Handle, and Another Thing Not as Hot as You Might Think.”

Merry Grown-Up Christmas!

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:3-4

Some of my fondest Christmas memories involve lying stretched out beside my siblings in the back of our ’79 Caprice Estate wagon, seats laid down to make a bed, Mom lying across the bench seat, asleep with her head on Dad’s lap while he drove all night through yet another Upper Michigan snowstorm. He promised to wake us up to see the Mackinac Bridge, and if we begged him, he’d drive on the grating in the middle lane so we could pop a door open and stare down at the water hundreds of feet below. Mom never really understood the joy of that gift. Never for a moment did I consider even it a possibility we wouldn’t arrived at Gramma’s safely. There’s not a blizzard in the world Dad couldn’t drive through, so when we hit one that was so bad he pulled off in Marquette to spend the night at the Super8, I still think it was probably more because he wanted to let us swim in the pool. Of course, we didn’t pack swim trunks, and ShopKo in Marquette doesn’t sell them in December, so as I recall we bought boxer shorts, swam in them. Good memories, happy days. Continue reading “Merry Grown-Up Christmas!”

How Alice Entered Wonderland, or What Happens to Kids when They Die?

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Mark 10:13-15

I wasn’t sure I’d ever get this written, but it really is the only additional thing I wanted to write concerning Alice, so after a few attempts, here goes…

I believe Alice is in the Palace, or if you like, she is truly Alice in Wonderland. What I want to do is attempt to explain why I think she’s there. And in doing so, I want to be an encouragement to the many other parents who have lost little ones. One thing this ordeal has taught us: we are not alone in our sorrow. If I have wondered about Alice’s whereabouts, perhaps others have too. Hopefully this helps, it’s helped me. At Christmastime, we need something to be cheerful about, because there seems to be more tears than smiles in our house this year…
Continue reading “How Alice Entered Wonderland, or What Happens to Kids when They Die?”

Alice: Missing

On the seventh day the child died… David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 2 Sam. 12:19b-20

The record of King David losing his infant son was never too far from my mind during Alice’s final weeks. The passionate prayers and sorrows before death, followed by a seemingly immediate return to “normal” life sort of laid out a simple pattern for me that I hoped to follow.

The night Alice died, after I’d lifted her lifeless, already stiffening body off our bed, carried her through the kitchen, out the front door, and set her in the back of that shiny black minivan, laid her on a cot that was far too big for her little body, kissed her cool forehead one last time, pulled up the zipper of that adult size bag – after all, this ride wasn’t designed for kids – I walked back into the house where my Dad was seated at the table, and with reference to David that I knew he’d understand, I said to him, “Time to take a shower and eat something.” Continue reading “Alice: Missing”

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