Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Post Christmas Blues...

The anticipation, the hype, the presents, and the day has gone and in it's absence is left a feeling not so 'red and green', but blue. The reality is that Christ's birth and gift of life and salvation is not saved for one day, so why do I feel so blue? I call it the post-Christmas let-down. Newton's third law of motion describes it as follows "for every action there is always and equal and opposite reaction." So as the high of Christmas ends, the pendulum then swings the other way and so comes the low. We over-eat and indulge, then we feel bad about ourselves. We don't exercise as there is no time between the holiday parties and rigorous schedules, leaving our bodies feeling exhausted. We spend too much money, then worry ourselves sick about it. We celebrate Christ's birth, but as we shelf the nativity and put away the tree, we also stuff away our devotion for another year.

Christmas this year was in some ways beautiful and special as it was our first Christmas in our new home and we also welcomed our new puppy, Lucy. She is such a sweetie and the joy she brings to our kids and to our home is wonderful. Spending time with family and celebrating the true meaning of Christmas was so beautiful. Yet, Christmas for me this year was also heart-wrenching as I missed my sweet baby Grace. The balance of enjoying the holidays, while trying to cope with the pain and loss is not an easy feat. I made it through the parties, the dinners, the stockings, and the gifts. With some cherished people, I could show my true emotions and feelings, and with others I put on the brave face. Some asked how I was, allowing me to share, cry and thus granting me the joy and freedom to feel the pain.

I don't want the pendulum of emotions to be stuck on the after-Christmas 'blues,' I want to look to the New Year with hope and renewed peace. I don't want to get stuck in the rut of the blues and blahs of January. The New Year is daunting as it brings with it Gracie's birthday and anniversary, yet it also brings joys unknown. I want to walk into this New Year with strength and be clothed in His grace. So today I am making a shift of heart and choosing not to dwell on the 'lows,' but rather am shifting my gaze upwards, to the only One who can take despair and transform it into joy; to the One who can balance the pendulum of extremities; to the One who can lift me from the blues and into the light. Lord, may I be able to look to tomorrow with joy in my step, hope in my heart, and a smile on my face.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Prov.31:26

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Indicative Pain, Infinite Joy!

It is nearly Christmas, and with songs like 'it's the most wonderful time of the year,' I can't help but wonder is it really?

This time of year is bittersweet for many. For some - it very well may be the joyous occasion of the 'first' Christmas milestone of marriage, birth of a baby, new home etc. For others, it may be anything but wonderful as they look to this Christmas as potentially the 'last' Christmas with a loved one. Still others remember, with joy coupled with pain, as thoughts drift back to a Christmas of old that included a beloved family member.

Joy to the world the Lord has come...the earth rejoiced, and received her King. How beautiful that night must have been!!! Surely all of nature was at it's finest as it welcomed the Creator! We hear of the phenomenon of the bright star - so bright that it marked a place in history. Creation joined in the chorus of the angels. Oh holy night indeed.

In this most jubilant of nights however, there was a sobering reality. The birth of Jesus was surrounded with infinite joy, but this joy lead to indicative pain. His birth was, and will always be linked to His death. Jesus came to the world He created, and we celebrate it just as did the shepherds long ago. Yet, we often focus on merely the fact that He came, and can miss out as to why He came. Joy and pain - such opposing words and emotions. Often our greatest joys lead to our greatest pain, and in turn our most ardent pain may lead us to a deeper joy. Losing a child is the greatest, most ardent pain I have ever experienced, but that pain was equally if not more so matched by the unsurpassed joy that filled my life because of Gracie.

So as you celebrate the coming of our Lord, remember to thank Him not only for clothing Himself in humanity in the form of a baby, but for choosing to stay and grow into the perfect lamb, the sacrifice for us all! And that is what is on my heart this Christmas...indicative pain of infinite JOY!

Why lies He in such mean estate, Where ox and ass are feeding? Good Christians, fear, for sinners here The silent Word is pleading. Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,The cross be borne for me, for you. Hail, hail the Word made flesh,The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Back to the Basics...

The holiday rush is upon us! I love the holidays, but like most, feel the stress of all it brings. Decorations, baking, parties, practices, concerts, banquets, shopping (and who can forget the joys of finding parking) in over-crowded malls, can bring out the 'humbug' in us all. So as I enter this season, I can't help but wonder - how do I find balance? I love blessing my kids with gifts, I love the twinkling lights, Christmas trees, carols and the beauty that Christmas brings. Yet, finding that delicate balance between enjoying the holidays while NOT forgetting the true meaning in it all is a challenge. do I get back to meaning of it all? Back to the dirt floor of a stable, and the chorus of barnyard animals. Back to the shepherds abiding in the fields and the phenomenon of a curious, bright shining star. Back to a young girl harboring the greatest secret of all time. Back to the place where it all began - when the greatest became the least, when the King became the servant, when the Saviour became the Sacrifice.

I love that the story of Jesus' birth is filled with mystery, wonder and awe. I delight in the fact that the history of Christ goes beyond human logic and scientific calculations. Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophecies of old, He was the Rescuer the world had been waiting for. It is mind-boggling to think that this tiny baby had spun the world into existence with just a word. It is a wonder that this tiny little babe - helpless to survive without His mother - would one day save the world from all darkness, hurt, illness, and death. This incredible and momentous hope, rested solely on the tiny shoulders of a newborn baby boy. This is the wonder of Christmas - so complex, yet so simple. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not die but have eternal life. (Jn3:16) Eternal LIFE!

So profound - yet so simple. God loved us, so He sent us Jesus to save us. We can't think of Christ's birth without linking it to His death. His purpose was clear - He came to die for us. My sweet beautiful baby girl never experienced a moment without the love and presence of Jesus - because of His great sacrificial love. The ruler of the world came to this broken and sinful world with the intent purpose to die for me, for Gracie, for you. Is there a greater sacrifice than this? Can jolly old saint Nic and his magical reindeer even come close to such a love?

So as you are busily shopping for gifts, or being cut-off in holiday traffic; or when the commercialism and selfishness of this world is dragging you down; or when you feel like the humbug of Christmas is stealing your joy - I encourage you to get back to the basics. Back to the stable, back to a rude and lowly manger, back to Jesus.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices.
O Night divine, O night when Christ was born.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Beautiful Dreamer....

Some people have vivid dreams and can remember it the next day. I haven't remembered a dream for a quite some time. Yet, as I was getting the kid's breakfast ready, a picture of Gracie flashed in my mind's eye that I didn't recognize as a memory. I stopped, closed my eyes and waited. The dream re-surfaced and flooded my thoughts, and tears filled my eyes to the brim.

I could 'see' her. I could see my sweet baby Grace. She was in hospital, but was doing well. I was coming around the hall, turning the corner into her room, it was dimly lit. I saw her, and thought she was sleeping and didn't want to wake her but everything in me wanted to pick her up and hug and kiss that sweet little angel. As I walked closer, she turned and smiled at me. I ran to her, picked her up and held her and she snuggled in. She never spoke, but in her eyes I could see and hear what her heart was saying. Holding her felt so real, seeing her beautiful face was like seeing the most precious and long awaited gift. I gave her a bath, dressed her in a cute little outfit and we 'chatted,' not it words but in a shared love. It was beautiful.

I used to be very shaken after I would dream of Gracie. It would send me into a whirlwind of memories, and of sadness and loss. My grief counsellor suggested that I think of these dreams as a 'visit' with Gracie. Even though I know she is in heaven, dreaming allowed me a sneak peak of her again. It allowed me the luxury of imagining her presence and feeling her in my arms. I remember in my early days of grief, I would have to pretend that Gracie was in the bed next to me in order to fall asleep - I would hug her blanket and even though I knew it was ridiculous, I would convince my mind that she was there with me - allowing me a few hours of precious sleep. Dreaming allows for the same kind of luxury. Gracie's days were often difficult for her, but when she slept, she was at total peace. She was our beautiful dreamer. We often wondered what she would dream about, for it brought such a sweet countenance to her face. Perhaps she, our sleeping princess, was dreaming of the Prince of Peace that would soon awake her? Our beautiful I miss you.

Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me,
Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee;
Sounds of the rude world heard in the day,
Lull'd by the moonlight have all pass'd away.
Stephen Foster

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Reason

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

A profound thought...can one find reason to sing and worship while in the valley? It is easy to worship and exalt God when on the mountain top of life. When all is the way it should be - no one is ill, no one is sad, money is flowing, life is full of laugher and the cup of your heart is full to overflowing. It is effortless to praise God and thank Him for His blessings and favor. It is natural to praise God in the season of new life and new the 'Spring' of the Soul!!! Yet in the bleakness and quiet of winter, when beauty has faded away, and life is left bare and dormant...what then? No, it is not effortless to praise God when someone you love is diagnosed with a cruel disease, or your relationships have turned sour, or when all favor seems to dissipate in all aspects of your life. What then?

What was the reason to worship when my baby lay lifeless in my arms...when the beauty of her being had been freed from her human constraints and all that remained was a perfectly empty vessel? Ah...there in the dark night of the soul, before the hope of light returned, there in that utterly hopeless and lonely place - was there still reason to sing?
Yes, for even though my song was filled with anguish, tears, and lamenting, it was still my song to my God who knew my pain. We often think of 'worship' as happy songs filled with thanksgiving and praise. Reality is that worship has little to do with music, lyrics or a kickin' drum beat...but has everything to do with our heart attitude and our life. True worship is a reflection of what is in your heart even when the diagnoses comes back positive. True praise is obedience, albeit through the tears.

The hope of Gracie healed and whole safe in the arms of Jesus is a reason to worship. Even on days when I see a newborn baby, or a little toddler wearing the same touque as Gracie, when I see a glow-worm, or have to console my little girl who is crying inconsolably because she wants her baby sister back...I still have a reason to sing - He is still God and that is reason enough for me.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

What do you SEE?

“Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God: But only he who sees takes off his shoes” Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

We were at a Memorial Service with Canuck Place this weekend, honoring the life of our sweet Gracie Grace, alongside many other angels. We met up with a few precious people, and re-connected with amazing staff, nurses and doctors. Our dear friend Leslie came and captured some moments - our first 'family portraiture' without our sweet pea. Being at Canuck Place again, stirs up a myriad of emotion. Some beautiful memories, and some painful ones too.

As we walked through the gorgeous grounds of the garden, and as we played with our kids at the playground, I started to remember Gracie everywhere! We were blessed to have access to the elegant black pram that she used to live in while there! As one of the counsellors (with whom worked with us as a family) wheeled that beautiful carrier towards us, we saw the pram empty...and Andrew and I broke. We remembered her angelic face peeking out of the blankets, admiring the world around her. We could remember those precious moments when we would see her look at us with recognition and see her eyes smile at ours. We remember the tubes, pumps, and machines that burdened the carriage. The memories came flooding back and as they did our souls were flooded with such unbearable emotion.

Yet, as we continued on...and as the memories continued to flow I began to see Gracie more clearly. As Andrew held Olivia and she kissed his cheek, I could see Gracie doing the same - kissing her Heavenly Father on the cheek. As I saw Isaiah and Olivia playing in the playhouse, I could see her playing too, but this time she was healed and whole. As we swung on the garden swing, I could see her swinging high above the trees and clouds, high in the mysterious place of the heavenlies. As we crouched down for a family picture I could see her crouched down at the floor of heaven saying 'look Jesus...there they are and they see me...they SEE me - not only how I was but how I AM...they finally SEE!'

Gracie's countenance was of God. While in her short time here, she would quite literally shine. Her face would glow of peace, and I knew she had a pure communion with God that I could only imagine. I love the verse - "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God" Matthew 5:8 Gracie was pure in heart...and she could see God. Where we saw an empty corner of her pram, or just the twinkling of the Christmas lights...Gracie saw God. I remember at her funeral, my amazing friend Lynn told me that her sweet little one could hear Gracie singing as the piano played. You see, her beautiful Ellianna too is pure of heart - she has gone through more procedures and surgeries than I ever will in my entire lifetime. And Ellie could see God and see my sweet pea singing that day of her funeral, while all I could see was an eerily perfect white casket. Oh to be pure of see past the obvious. To see God all around us, in others, and in ourselves.

So what do you SEE? Do you see beyond the obvious, do you see what Gracie saw...the beauty of His holiness all around? That is my heart's cry, to know Him more. To be pure of heart, take off my shoes and see God!

Monday, November 01, 2010


We all have them, whether we wanted them or not: Labels. Somewhere along the line of life you stumbled on, earned, or have taken on a label. What does yours say? There are some labels that are most coveted depending on your age and stage. "Pretty" "Smart" "Popular" "Successful" "Handsome" Then there are those labels which you despise. "Geek" "Loser" "Vain" "Conceited" and the list goes on and on and on. These labels can attach themselves so early on in life that a child doesn't even stand a chance of figuring out who he truly is because of what he or someone else has thought (whether accurate or not)...thus a label is born.

After talking about this topic with a few people today, it got me thinking. What is my label? I have had many disparaging labels attached to me throughout the years - "Sarcastic" (which we know is just a nice way of saying you're mean, funny, but mean) "Opinionated" (again another 'nice' way of saying stubborn) "Fat/Ugly" - I don't know many females that haven't struggled with that one. The list goes on. Some labels can be positive and can spur us on to achieve greatness, others are a toxin that paralyze us. The reality is there is only one label that should label that trumps them all - the label that you belong to HIM. That you are a child of GOD. If you truly believe that - then all other labels fade away.

I read the Max Lucado Storybook called "You Are Special" to Olivia for the first time the other day. It is BEAUTIFUL reflection of labels, and placing value in the Creator and not in the created. Here is a synopsis. Eli the carpenter creates wooden toys called Wemmicks. The Wemmicks would give each other stickers - stars for being 'good' or 'beautiful' and grey dots for for being 'chipped' or 'scratched.' One day a little toy named Puncinello meets Eli - and his world changes...

Eli to Punchinello - "I don't care what the other Wemmicks think, and you shouldn't either. Who are they to give stars or dots? They're Wemmicks just like you. What they think doesn't matter Puncinello. All that matter is what I think. And I think you are pretty special...the stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust my love, the less you care about their stickers. You are special because I made you, and I don't make mistakes." Max Lucado

God - the creator of the universe - calls us HIS own. If you believe that God is who He says He is, and that you are HIS then everything changes. For the same God who spun this world into motion with just a word, is the same God who created the intricasies of our human anatomy and physiology from mere dust, is the same God that created you and me! He knows us, and what our Creator thinks of us should mean more to us than what other 'creations' think of us. Why do we put so much value on other people's opinions of us? After-all, they are not the creator but the created. I encourage you to rid yourself of labels - all but one - the label of being cherised by the CREATOR.

Gracie taught me so much about not looking at the obvious labels that people try to convey. She challenged me to look deeper, beyond the exterior facade and to the heart. God doesn't make mistakes. Gracie was exactly how she was meant to be - and she was filled with His glory - for she was HIS. How I long to have the sweet communion with my maker as Gracie did. Her countenance shone of His love. I want my children to know that they will never be defined by what others think of them. They are and will always be beautiful, valued and cherished creations of the Creator.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Psalm 139:13

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Grief is like the Ocean...

I've been missing sweet Gracie quite a bit as of late. She's been occupying my thoughts, and her sweet face has been in my dreams the last few nights. I looked back in my journal and found what I wrote around this time last year. It still speaks truth to me today.

"Grief feels like the ocean to me. Full of memories good and bad. At times the water is calm, although there are many currents always flowing. Then, memories start to accumulate through various triggers (like wind - seeing the puraltor truck driver that used to deliver the medical supplies for Gracie) and the memories start to build - until they are a full fledged wave. Then you think for a moment or two that you can balance that wave...but then unannounced, it crests - crashes over and you are helpless to find your direction - tossing and turning - which way is up? And then, just when you feel like you will drown in the sorrow, the waters still, and you come up for air and catch your breath. You are relieved, and take a deep breath...and enjoy the calm, for you know it is only a matter of time before it all begins again."

I realize more and more than you can grieve many things...not just the loss of a loved one. Perhaps you are grieving a relationship, a lost job, a broken trust. If you have experienced loss, then you understand the concept of grief as an ocean. If you are feeling tossed by the uncontrollable waves of grief, I encourage you to remember that although we can't control how high the waves get, we do know the ONE who does. I will pray for you (and for me as well) that God will give you a safe place to stand in the midst of the chaos. That even though all around you may be pain and fear, that HE will bring peace to your heart as you draw closer to Him.

Psalm 107:28-30. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pause...Anyone? know these moments...moments you wish would step outside of the boundaries of time and space and just linger. Last night was such a moment. My sweet girl Olivia and I had a date unto ourselves as the boys went to a Hockey Game. Olivia and I went to see an animated film about wolves and it was cute. Olivia was in her glory - her giggle would pierce through the theatre and others would look and smile as if to say 'goodness...she is cute' I would smile back trying not to beam with pride "yep...that's my girl and she is even more adorable than that precious giggle." I am just in awe of her beauty, inside and out. Her heart is so kind and from the wellspring of her heart pour out her words and actions. I want to freeze in this moment. A moment where I am her first choice, and she ends the date with "I wish we could do that all over again."

Dear friends Reuben and Lisa just delivered their first child - a perfect baby boy. I remember those early days like it was yesterday. The new-ness of a precious life now resting in your hands. I remember feeling so overwhelmed with love and Andrew looking at me and saying "I never knew you could love somebody so fully and completely so instantly." People always said 'you just wait, time flies by...enjoy these years while you can.' And I tried. I would remember moments with each of my children when they were babies where I made that distinction, making a mental note of the moment. I wanted to remember those moments with each of all of the busy moments of the day as a mommy...I wanted special ones to stand-out. I wanted to savor each of them...the smells, the sounds, the light in the room, the cherub face, those wispy eyelashes, the gentle sound of their relaxed breathing, the soft glow of the moonlight through the window - *sigh* I remember these moments and I long for them again. My friend Deb would always say - the days are long but the years go fast. It is so very true. In the time of babies, and toddlers - it is a wonder we as parents survive! The days seem to drag on and the nights even longer. Yet, here I am looking back with longing for a baby in my arms. I musn't complain, I am and have been so blessed. I also know that even though I miss those days, I don't want these days to slip by either. I too want to make a mental note to enjoy today's moments that will too soon be a memory I look back on.

I know that I can't stay in this moment forever, and that the days and months and years are bound to fly by. So today, I am setting this night apart as one to remember. A night that I will look back on with fondness, as I reflect on how much my kids have grown. Gracie taught me how to be content in the moment. She taught me not to look too far behind or in front, but just to be fully present, for that is all we have been given. I want to fully enjoy the present before it becomes the past. I want to be in the moment, before losing this moment to the future.

I remember my mom singing this song a lot when I was a often came to me during the days of Grace.

One day at a time sweet Jesus That's all I'm asking from you.
Just give me the strength To do everyday what I have to do.
Yesterday's gone sweet Jesus And tomorrow may never be mine.
Lord help me today, show me the way One day at a time.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (Matt. 6:34 - The Message)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thankful for HOPE!

Three years ago this weekend, we found out the devastating news via ultrasound that our sweet baby had severe ventriculomegaly and that she may not survive out of the womb. Oh the anguish, on that beautiful fall day. I remember so clearly driving down the highway crying so hard I couldn't breathe. Andrew and I stopped at Island View beach and just tried to take in all of the info. we had just received. The cold, salty wind of the ocean seemed to numb every part of me, except the part that hurt the most.

If I only knew then what I know now. Oh how I would comfort my aching heart. I would tell myself that even though the journey ahead would be more difficult than I could ever imagine, and even though the searing pain of loss would break my heart into a million pieces, that I would look back on it with fondness and with longing. I would tell myself that God would reveal Himself to me, and meet me in a personal way. I would assure my aching soul that Gracie would be safe in my arms and never feel or know the feeling of being alone. She would never be separated from the love of God, and that even though it won't end with the healing I had hoped for on earth, that she will one day be free from her human constraints and in fullness with Jesus. I would tell myself that even though all I feel is weakness, that Christ would transform that weakness into strength. I would tell myself that God WOULD give me more than I could or would want to handle, but that He would give me what I need to get through one more day, hour or even second.

Finally, I would tell myself that in the end, Gracie would teach me so much about God's sacrificial love. After-all, God knew the pain of searing loss, as He turned His face away when His perfect, innocent, and only Son died for ME! Jesus felt total abandonment from the Father, experienced the darkness of hell and separation from His Father so that Gracie wouldn't have to. Gracie was never alone...she went straight from my arms into the arms of Jesus because God's amazing love.

And that is what I am most thankful for this for the HOPE that came only through the sacrificial love of Jesus! A hope that this life is not the end, hope that one day I will see my sweet pea in fullness. A hope that Jesus will make all the sad things untrue. Hope that He will right ALL the wrongs, and hope that His return is coming. May this hope warm your heart as you sit around your table this Thanksgiving. We do have much to be thankful for...I know I do.

"Amazing love, how can it be? That you my King would die for me? Amazing love, I know it's true and it's my joy to honor You, in all I do, I want to honor you." (Newsboys)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Remember it no more...

I miss the days of yore when a simple 'I'm sorry I took your crayon' fixed all. In those early days there were no grudges, for once those words 'I'm sorry' were spoken it was like a big eraser would come and it was remembered no more. The older I get, the harder it is for me to take the risk and make new friends because it means putting myself out-there again. If you've ever been betrayed in friendship, you know just how hard it is to trust again. Hind-sight is in fact 20/20. I can now look back at the most painful relationships in my life and can now see with clarity where things went wrong, but while in it - I just couldn't see it. Looking back, I can now see where I placed my trust in imperfect people. I now am able to see my part and my wrong - and that too is a jagged pill to swallow!

In ministry especially, it is easy to become hardened and cynical. Yet, the reality is we ALL make mistakes and fall short. I remember coming to this realization - that God still uses people who hurt us. We want justification, we want to hold our fist in the air like Jonah did in anger. We cry out to God and say...didn't you see that? He/She totally lied, or betrayed me etc. to which God responds "Have you any right to be angry?" Jonah 4:4. I have any 'right' to be angry. Am I perfect? Goodness no. Am I innocent from ever hurting others? Most definitely not. Does God still love me and choose to use me? Absolutely. So is it any wonder He is gracious with others? The answer is no. God chooses to use us as humans, knowing full well we are imperfect. Yet, the reality that He still works through us is humbling to say the least.

Since Gracie, my view of life in general has changed. I have learned that life is too short to hold on to anything too long. I want to be quick to forgive and I can tell you what a freeing feeling it is to truly release such pent up hurt and anger. I know there is wounding that goes far deeper than what I have described here, horrible realities of living in such a broken world. I don't want to sound flippant, and if you do have such a deep wounding I pray that God will show you how to release it to Him. I'm sure you have heard it said before that unforgiveness destroys the vessel that holds it. It is toxic, and forgiveness is the antidote. Does it mean we forgive and forget...hardly. No, we forgive and release ourselves from the toxin of hatred and unforgiveness and we do all that we can with the strength that only comes from God to remember it no more.

To remember the wrong against us no more, is what our Heavenly Father does for us. When we come to Him with a repentant heart, He is faithful and just to forgive us and remembers it no more. Oh to have more of His grace and compassion!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Shepherd's Voice...

Don't you love that feeling of knowing someone so well that you can tell who it is on the phone with just a simple 'Hello?' Or that familiar 'laugh' of someone you know so well, that allows you to spot them in nanoseconds even in a over-crowded church foyer? To have such an intimate relationship takes time, trust, and faith. Once you find this treasure in someone you realize oh so quickly what a remarkable gift it is! It is such a blessing to know someone so well, that you can tell how she is really doing just by listening to the intonation of her voice. You can sail past the 'I'm fine' and delve into the heart of the matter.

How well do we know our Shepherd's voice? Do we know His promptings and if we do, do we listen and take action? I have often been asked 'how did you find time to do devotions during the busy time of Gracie?' My answer? I believe God cares more about our hearts than the legalistic rules of our minds. 'If I just wake up early and read and pray for 30 mins a day....if I go to every event at church...If I force myself to read a chapter a day....etc.' I had so many of these rules - 'If I pray this many times a day then surely Gracie will be healed' 'If I say the name of Jesus and declare her healing 100x a day then she will be healed.' 'If I do this, or that, then God's Hand must move.' These legalistic rituals if done in a spirit of guilt/obligation are not pleasing to the Father.

Just as if a friend feels forced to spend time with you, it kinda defeats the purpose. Time with our friends should be treasured and if it is done out of obligation, the friendship is most defintely headed for failure. I think it is the same with God. It is when we want to get to know Him, to truly be able and willing to identify His voice and separate His voice from all the others calling out to us that we find our lives become devoted to Him. Our whole LIVES become a devotion. We must learn to get to know Him, not just know ABOUT Him.

Once I realized that my life was to be in constant devotion, the pain of failure dissipated. There was nothing I could do to heal Grace. The burden was not mine to carry. I stopped seeking the 'miracle' and began seeking Him. What joy and peace are for those whose hope is in the name of the Lord! Those who know His voice and are led by His rod and His staff can rest in the knowledge that He is the good Shepherd. One day His voice will call me home, and there will be another sweet voice heard as it breaks through the surrounding thousands of will be the voice of my angel welcoming me home.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Shape Changing.

Our lives as clay in the hands of a Potter means that our shape is in constant change. I have been thinking about this quite a bit as of late. I realized so fully how my shape had been changed after Gracie passed away. For the first time in my life, I realized I didn't know who I was. Things that would have normally 'rolled off my shoulders' would bear me down to the point of knocking me out! I remember going to a play-date at a park with a friend shortly after Gracie passed away. I didn't know many of the moms that would be there, but the 'Nelia pre-Gracie' had no troubles fitting in and making friends.

So off I went with Olivia and Isaiah. I was the first one there - so I started playing with my little ones on the swings. Then slowly the other moms and their healthy babies and toddlers arrived. I was watching them from the other side of the park and just felt as though I did not fit in. I could see them laughing and enjoying that lovely spring day - and I felt like hurling. Literally - I felt sick to my stomach...and experienced what I found out later was a panic attack. I scooped up my 4 and 2 & 1/2 year old and left. By the time I got them in their car seats, it was taking everything in me to keep the tears from raging and that lump in my throat from taking over my windpipe. Once home and the kids were safe with Drew I went up to my room and released all the pent up held back raw emotions. Who was I? Where do I fit? How do I continue life without my baby? How do I enter a conversation where moms are talking about late nights, or the constant diaper changes? Question after question after question.

Looking back now I can see this was the beginning of my greatest re-shaping. I had experienced the pain of the break - Lord only knows. But this was the kneading, the molding and it was so uncomfortable. The knowledge that I would never be the shape I was before brought a pain all of its own. Yet, as I leaned into the pain, leaned into the kneading, I started to realized this new shape was a better fit. I was softer, more patient, and this new shape has given me the gift of living a more missional life, a life that is more heaven minded.

I chose to name the blog "Beautifully Mended" for there came a beauty that was only born from the pain. But in order to be mended you must allow the pain, you must lean into it instead of running away from it. You must allow the Potter the freedom to do as He chooses. There were times when I thought...yep I'm feeling good I am on the verge of the final product here - my shape is looking good. Then out of the blue - whamo! The Potter started again. Yet each time He started again, the clay was softer, more palpable and was ready for the next stage. For this life is in constant motion, as will our shape continue to be.

I chose the word 'mended' carefully because I am not completely healed, nor anywhere near complete. My final shape will be completed the day I meet my Maker face to face. Once I see how perfectly I fit in the hands of the Potter - my final shape will be will have withstood the fires of hell, refining it to my finished state. Finally my shape will go from being beautifully mended to beautifully healed and perfected. My prayer is that the Potter will look at me His beloved creation and say - "Well done my good and faithful servant."

"So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him." Jer. 18:3-4

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Gift of Balance.

One of the lessons I have learned through my grief journey is learning how to be both happy and sad in the same moment and have both be true. Before Gracie, I don't think I could have believed such a statement as I thought you can not be fully and truly happy or have joy in your heart if you are just as equally sad. Yet, my lovely counsellor Margo helped me see that, yes in fact I could be both, at the same time and both be true.

In the early days of my grief, Olivia or Isaiah would inveitably do something or say something silly, or cute as little ones so often do and I would catch myself chuckling and immediately a wave of guilt would hit. 'How can you be laughing when you've just lost your sweet Gracie?' Then other times, I would be having a 'down' day, and those around me were laughing and enjoying life, and again, guilt would rush over me like a wave. 'Your family needs you to be 'up' and enjoy life...they don't deserve to lose you too.' So I was stuck in this dichotomy and feeling very tossed by the waves of guilt.

Then the thought of learning how to balance both opposing emotions was presented to me. At first I scoffed (because I like things to make sense) and goodness gracious, this did NOT make sense to me. Yet as I meditated on scriptures, journaled and prayed I realized that perhaps both emotions could be true. For when I was enjoying watching Olivia and Isaiah ride those crazy tea-cups at Disney and could see their bright shiny faces, free from the grief of their little lives, I could not help but feel happy. Yet there was a piece of me that missed Gracie and wished she was there with us. Happy AND sad...and finding that balance of allowing myself to be both of those emotions raised me up from the oceans depth and gave me a safe place to stand, and eventually learned to balance. Afterall, King David knew the balance. He would cry out to God in his angst and despair, yet he never stayed there too long. He wrote the Psalms in this way - the whole book is this delicate balance. Psalm 27 - is a Psalm that brought a great deal of peace to my soul in my days and nights despair. Verse 1 - the Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? Verse 3 - though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear. Last verse 13 - I am confident in this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. The balance...yes you may be afraid of what your circumstances may be, but learn from David and be confident that you will see the goodness of the Lord even in the midst of the turmoil.

Some days the balance comes easily, others days it still feels next to impossible. Yet, no matter how tall the wave, or how hard the crash, I know that God will always bring me back to a place of balance. One day though, I will not have to 'balance' anymore for everything will be perfected, for all eternity. Oh how I long for that day...but for now I am thankful for God's gift of balance.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rain, Rain You Know My Pain

There is something about the rain that actually soothes my soul. I know we get a lot of it here on the West Coast, and I do admit it can be a bit much after months and months of grey skies, yet I do enjoy the rain. When it is raining, I feel like the whole world is feeling my pain and loss. I feel like the whole world is crying along with me. After a long, hard, pounding rain the earth is cleansed, refreshed and fragrant. Similarly, I feel the same after a deep and painful cry, I feel refreshed and released of the pent up sadness and ready to go take that next step.

It has been two years this Sept. 11th that I was standing alone in the hospital hallway of Children's Hospital as the Pediatric Neurologist looked at me and said "I'm sorry but, there is nothing more we can may want to call your family in to say their good-byes." The world came to a complete halt as I tried to compute what she was saying to me. I cried out to God - "please Lord...not yet...I haven't held her enough" Later that evening we were in a hospital room surrounded by our family relaying the unfathomable news that the Drs. had done all that they could for our sweet Gracie. A room was booked for us at Canuck Place as they anticipated the end of life was near for our sweet one. But the Lord heard my gut-wrenched plea for more time to enjoy my baby - for more time to just be her mama and not her doctor or nurse, or pharmacist. More time to hold her more, kiss her more, study her every smile and twinkle of eye. Jesus heard my cries, turned His face to me and answered my most painful plea. I will forever be thankful for those extra months with Gracie. They were difficult, but each moment was a gift and I would continually hear Him whisper to my heart - remember...take the time just to love her and I did...I loved her knowing that one day I would miss her but I would know that I loved her with no regrets. I am forever thankful for the clarity given to me that day, and for Jesus meeting me in the valley and guiding me through the darkness.

So today as it rains, I too allow the tears to flow, knowing that with each tear that falls, some of the pain is released, cleansing my heart from the deep wounds that reside there. Knowing full well that one day when I stand before my Saviour, there will be a sweet fragrance borne only from allowing the pain of the rain.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

A Return to a New Beginning...

After a LONG drought from blogging I have returned! I feel the need to write - not necessarily so that people will read my words and thoughts (but I am more than happy if they do) but the need stems from a longing to express the emotions and thoughts of a grieving mother who has learned to live in spite of the pain.

My heart has been broken. Into too many pieces to count. I thought I would never live to see the day where I could say it was mended. The process was painful, the result nothing short of miraculous. My broken heart is and forever will be beautifully mended. I hope to tell the story of my sweet baby and the lessons she has taught me through this venue and share with you the journey to a beautifully mended heart.