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


Moments...you 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 them...in 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 kid...it 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 Thanksgiving...is 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.

Hmmmmm...do 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 angels...it will be the voice of my angel welcoming me home.