Friday, December 10, 2010

On Eagles Wings

It's with very mixed emotions that I share the cause behind the interruptions to my post schedule. It surprised us to learn that we were in the final battle with my son's mitochondrial disease. Though the disease conquered his physical body on December 2nd, due to the amazing love and grace of our Savior, it did not defeat my son or us, his parents. We rejoice in Peter's peace, but now face the hard challenge of living without him.

We celebrated Peter's homecoming on December 8th. I shared the message below at his ceremony. Thank you for your continued prayers... posts should resume after the New Year.

For those of you who’ve had any part in Peter’s life these most recent years, you know the importance of his being a Philadelphia Eagles fan. His love of the Eagles provided a fun doorway to interact with him -a way to experience his orneriness, his laughter, his competitiveness and his killer smile. In spite of your allegiance to other teams, he converted many of you to at least followers of his team, cheering them on his behalf.

But today I wanted to take a brief moment to ensure that you didn’t miss the deeper significance of the eagle in Peter’s life. I find it no coincidence that Peter loved the eagles. Isaiah 40:31 says those who wait upon the Lord will soar on wings like eagles. And that is what Peter did.

I read a Karen Kingsbury story awhile back that shared interesting details about the eagle that always stuck with me. I revisited that book this weekend and several important points stood out to me.

The story shares how eagles are unlike any other bird in a storm. When storms come, they do not seek cover but fly to a rock and wait for the thermal currents of the storm. They then use those currents to soar above the storm. Once the storm passes, they return to their nest below.

Peter did this all of his life. The storms have raged and been plentiful in his 13 years. But time and time again Peter did not allow himself to be battered and defeated by the storms. Instead, he used them to make himself better, stronger, more determined and more committed to life. He used the storms to go higher. He knew he could not do it himself, but relied on the wind of God’s Holy Spirit to lift him above the storms. Like an eagle, he soared above them.

An eagle only has two natural enemies- storms and serpents. But he handles them each differently. He embraces storms and uses them to go higher. He never fights a storm. Instead he saves his energy to fight the serpents, especially when protecting its young.

Peter recognized his serpents. As he continued to grow and mature into an independently minded teenager, his body continued to decline and fail. That triggered understandable emotions of anger, frustration, fear and discontent. But Peter chose to fight those serpents. Daily the past two years, he started his day with prayer, asking God during our Bible time together to help him make the right choices, for the strength to stand strong, and the insight to become the person God wanted him to be.

Peter knew that to deal with those things in his life, he could not defeat them alone. Again, he paralleled the eagle. An eagle only eats life-giving food. If he eats something poisonous, he knows he can’t deal with it by himself. Instead he finds the highest rock that he can find. Unlike other birds in distress, he does not flap and flop around, but spreads his wings on the rock and lays there patiently still. He stays that way until the sun draws the toxins out of his body. Then, once cleansed, returns to the other eagles.

Peter followed that same pattern. He knew he could not account for his poisons himself. Instead he sought the highest Rock that exists and submitted his life to the Son of God, trusting his cleansing to make him whole and ready to fly again. When we dedicated Peter as an infant, we gave him Isaiah 26:3-4 as his life verse. It says “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the rock eternal.” Peter means rock, but our Peter knew that God is the highest Rock and that is to whom he turned.

As the storms in Peter’s life increased significantly the past few years, we had the privilege of watching our baby boy become a man. It is a parent’s greatest gift. This past year in particular Peter internalized his faith, making it his own, not just what Mom and Dad do. He turned to God, like the eagle, for the cleansing and the strength needed to soar through life. This summer he publicly declared himself to be God’s kid through water baptism. In his final week he displayed a peace and readiness that boggled our minds, yet encouraged our hearts. We are so proud of the man of God he’s become. Although left empty, we rejoice that he’s now home enjoying his reward. December 2nd became the first day of the rest of his life. For now he is truly living. He is soaring on wings like eagles, running and no longer weary, walking and never again faint.

I pray you grasp the significance of the Eagle. We pray, like Peter, you will not let the storms in your life batter you or defeat you. We know they will come, but challenge you to use them to go higher. We pray that you will find the highest Rock and submit to the Son. As you watch Peter’s Eagles play the rest of this season (we’re hoping they’re Superbowl bound) remember the lessons of the Eagle, the way Peter lived his life, and in God find the courage to do the same.


  1. God is just so amazing! Thank you Juli for sharing. What an inspiration to watch another walk triumphantly through a situation that few can fathom enduring let alone continuing to praise the King!! Peter was used by God in the years that he lived on this earth....and will continue to do so in his passing. I tear up thinking at the magnificence your young "man"is experiencing now!!!WOW, how he must be soaring!!! Love you friend!!

  2. Juli,

    I came to your blog after reading the Keepers e-mail this morning. I am so touched by Peter's story and yours. I recently lost my sister to cancer(a very short fight, thank God), and know she is soaring on angel wings. I admire people, like you, who have the gift of the written word. Thank you for your inspiration--Peter must have been a remarkable person! I will continue to read your blog, and draw strength from your beautifully written words. I am so very sorry for your loss, and will keep your family in my prayers.


  3. Hi Juli,

    I just reread your post. It is so beautiful, and you did a wonderful job delivering it at Peter's service. Peter's service was amazing, it was just perfect for your boy. Cam and I agreed that Mark's analogy of falling asleep and waking up "at home" was wonderfully hopeful, and we left Peter's service with just that - hope.

    Thank you for sharing Peter with us - I so enjoyed the pictures of both your handsome boys. You were so correct when you said "didn't God do a great job?" He did, and so have you and Jeff.

    With much love and understanding and hope,