New Life

IMG_1410Last night, I tucked Nora into bed and as I turned to do the same for her sister, her face slowly contorted and silent tears began streaming down her face.

“Oh honey,” I exclaimed and gathered her to me.

“Graham.” she quietly sobbed.  Charlotte quickly slid out of bed and found Graham’s blanket from another room. She returned and gently tucked the soft memory around Nora’s small frame and we all held hands while I prayed over them both.

****

This morning our mini-van door slid open to reveal a smiling school teacher ready to receive my children.

“Good morning, girls!” She sang out.

“It’s not a good morning because my brother died!” Nora spat as she jumped to the ground.

“And it’s ok to be sad, my dad said so!” She hollered defensively.  “Sometimes you’re happy and sad, but today I’m not happy, only sad.”  Then she resolutely pouted her face and marched towards the school’s front door.

This morning she hid behind the strength of anger, even as last night she gave into the weakness of sadness. Her grief has developed new life recently – new layers – and it is heartbreaking. I’m hoping it’s also healthy.

Advertisements

Heaven Day 2015

Brothers and sisters, we want you to be fully informed about those who have fallen asleep in death so that you will not be overwhelmed with grief like those who live outside of the true hope.

Here’s what we believe: since Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, God will bring with Jesus all who have died through Him. For we can say all this to you confidently because it is the word of the Lord: we who are still alive and left behind when the Lord comes will not precede those who have fallen asleep in death.

On that day, with a command that thunders into the world, with a voice of a chief heavenly messenger, and with a blast of God’s trumpet, the Lord Himself will descend from heaven; and all those who died in the Anointed One, our Liberating King, will rise from the dead first.

Then we who are alive and left behind will be snatched up together with them into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. This is how we, the resurrected and the living, will be with Him forever.

So comfort one another with this hope, and encourage one another with these words. 

1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18

    

Just Enough

 

019991378517cd5a0b3f304c7e0ab977004d760070Our cell phone chimed with a familiar text alert.  Even though my arms were filled with dead child I managed to maneuver the phone so I could read the message from another world.  A place so very far away…

The unsuspecting text was sent to a small group of friends and was full of joyful caps and exclamation marks.  We had been partnering together to host a valentine’s day extravaganza, and were in the final days of organizing food, dancing, decorations, activities, and invitations.

I blinked at the small screen in front of me and dully realized that this group text had provided me a concise list of trusted friends – it was organized and accessible – and as the follow-up texts began to roll in, I knew our village was out there… somewhere…

My numb fingers stumbled over letters, spelling out words that I was certain no one would believe. In my utter shock I had no capacity to soften my words or give any sort of explanation or context… I was barely able to translate my tiny whimper into a text message at all:

Friends. I have no words. Graham is dead. We are at the hospital now. Please please cry out to Jesus for us!

To read those words now, makes me sick. I can taste the ugliness in my mouth, I can feel shards of pain in my toes.  I’m so sorry that those words left our hospital room and travelled into your lives.  I’m so very sorry.

I truly couldn’t think past the send button.  I knew these people were trustworthy… but I also wasn’t convinced that they even still existed, for suddenly the world didn’t extend past our ER room.  However, as you might imagine, these were some of the first people to pour into us.  I didn’t think to expect it, but within minutes they mobilized – texts were sent and phone calls made, probably much more than we were ever aware of…

Before I even realized I was empty, we were being filled up – the first wave of life-giving, sustaining love was flung at us with full force abandon…  One half of each family came to us that night without prepared words or gifts – no plan at all – they just showed up.  These precious people found us where we were and engulfed us in sloppy, ugly heartbreak. We were covered with prayers of lament, while the snot and tears of God’s people flowed out.

And so it was, that we began the first night of the rest of our lives drenched in the power of love. And so it is, one whole year later, love keeps showing up.  Over and over again.  There is always just enough.

Thank you. From the bottom of me, thank you.

994079_1424145694489246_2123730769_n
Month ten

Cultivate thankfulness.

Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. And sing, sing your hearts out to God!

Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

Colossians 3:15-17

 

27-3-DSC_1292
Month Six

2 Corinthians 4:15-16

These sufferings of ours are for your benefit. And the more of you who are won to Christ, the more there are to thank him for his great kindness, and the more the Lord is glorified. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day.

IMG_0177
Month Five

Psalm 95: 2-3

Come, let’s shout praises to God,
    raise the roof for the Rock who saved us!
Let’s march into his presence singing praises,
    lifting the rafters with our hymns!

And why? Because God is the best,
    High King over all the gods.
In one hand he holds deep caves and caverns,
    in the other hand grasps the high mountains.
He made Ocean—he owns it!
    His hands sculpted Earth!

DSCN2086
Month Three

The Eternal is the source of my strength and the shield that guards me.
    When I learn to rest and truly trust Him,
He sends His help. This is why my heart is singing!
    I open my mouth to praise Him, and thankfulness rises as song.

Psalm 28:7

Vibrant

spring 026
Month One

I’ve been preparing my heart and mind for this month, but without an overwhelming feeling of angst.  Even my sadness feels more like gentleness than fear.

The richness of peace is vibrant.

I say that carefully but honestly.  Tomorrow it may very well crash in all around me – I’m very aware of the fragility of this state – but today, well today I’m peaceful.

I talked with someone recently about the value or lack thereof in marking a death day. Celebrating?  Remembering? What point is there in honoring tragedy, wallowing in grief…finding meaning?  What do we DO with this looming day??  This person even hinted at the idea of trying to ignore it altogether…

It seems impossible to muster celebration or uncover joy… even practicing gratefulness is a foreboding task.  Is it inauthentic to try?  Are we destined for disappointment and failure?  Year after year, will death have the victory??

But, the thing is… Death didn’t win that day.  Tragedy and loss are not the end of his story… they are not the end of mine.  It was a heaven day!   I’ll be honest, sometimes it feels like nothing more than word games and semantics – heaven day, death day – what difference does it make??

But it does.  It makes huge difference.

Grief is a strange mirror to love.  So when the grief is thick, love is everywhere.  Love is the stickiness holding the pieces of my life together.  It’s ugly and dripping but it works somehow and the sweetness is rich.

I’m going to make it a day for gratefulness and love.  Maybe that’s an ambitious undertaking, but it feels right.  And if my plans crumble into despair or loneliness… if anger and fear win out – well, then I know God’s grace will be made more perfect and I can try again next year!

We will be gifting packages of cookies baked in kitchens full with love and hope.  We will be saying thank you to deserving and important people who served our family on a cold February day last year.

Want to join us?  Let’s explore gratefulness even while pondering heaven.  Perhaps you could gift a batch of your own cookies to a local emergency room or rescue crew?  I am sharing the label I plan on including with our cookie gifts, feel free to use it! I would love for you to join with us in gratitude! Graham cookie box