Monday, December 19, 2011
I have been thinking quite a bit about obedience lately, especially in regards to Mary. To think that such a young girl would be called to such a huge and overwhelming task is unfathomable to me. I love how God's ways are so often opposite to what our ways would be. To think that God would choose a girl - not a queen, nor a king, but a simple young girl from the long family line of a mere shepherd boy turned warrior king. Mary, descendant of David, was called to put all reason aside and just trust in sheer obedience.
Mary had a lot of reasons to disobey, and flat out refuse the call on her life. She had to endure the initial shock of the angel, then had to try to wrap her head around the mysterious and frightening idea that she would be with child which I am sure led to the panic of what others would say about her, her family, and her betrothed. I am sure she feared her for her life. How do you explain to the one you are giving your life to such inexplicable news? I can't even begin to imagine the look of pain and betrayal in the eyes of Joseph (who we know loved her enough to want to divorce her in quiet - before he knew the truth from the angel himself). Ugh - talk about a stressful situation! Yet here we see Mary in the middle of an inexplicable encounter choosing to obey. After asking the obvious question of "how can this be...since I am a virgin?" she receives yet another ambiguous piece to the mysterious puzzle. Even after this strangely wonderful, yet frightening encounter, she simply says "I am the Lord's servant...may your word be fulfilled." (Luke 1) WOW - talk about obedience.
I know if it were me, I would have had a million questions. My type A personality would have asked the angel to hold on for a moment while I grabbed for a pen and paper so I could jot down notes while he spoke. I know our own personal journey with Grace was full of the unknown. Trusting the Hand of an unseen God is not easy. Yet I knew His voice, for He had guided me all my life through ups and downs, highs and lows. He was my Shepherd, and although I did not know the path and although it often was a path I did not want to tread, I still trusted His rod and His staff. Obedience for me didn't always come easy - and perhaps it was a struggle for Mary too? There were times I fought, and fought hard against what I knew was His will for Grace. He, in His love for me, allowed me the fight - but, as Andrew told me - God is big enough to handle our anger, questions and disappointments.
So as you enter this Christmas season, I am mindful that there are some of you who are in the middle of an inexplicably painful place. Although it has been a few years without Grace, the painful reminders of life without her remain. There are some of you in this ardent place of grief this year. There are also some of you living in the unknown of whether this Christmas will be the last one with a loved one. While some are picking up the pieces of broken dreams and relationships. No matter where you are in the scheme of life this year- whether you are singing all the jolly Christmas songs with gusto because life is beautifully wonderful, or if you find yourself crying yourself to sleep longing to just feel at peace again, I encourage you to come to the rough wooden cradle of Jesus, just the same, and worship Him. For in Him true peace, joy and fulfillment can be found. In Him, the eternal hope of true healing and wholeness is available to all who call on His name. Will you like Mary, in the midst of chaos and unfathomable confusion, choose to obey even if it doesn't make sense? Will you accept the call on your life and trust that He can make beauty from ashes?
The past few weeks for me have been emotionally draining, and I found myself yet again at the foot of the old rugged wooden cross. Obedience is not always the natural choice. It is often uncomfortable and even painful. Obedience for me is constantly and willingly releasing the pain that I sometimes so desperately want to hold on to. It is trusting even when I don't have the blueprint of life ahead of me. This Christmas may my response be as Mary's, in obedience may my heart say "I am the Lord's servant."
Monday, December 12, 2011
Friday, December 02, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
I awoke to find you were the first thought on my mind
Monday, October 31, 2011
Sin is broken, You have saved me
It is written, Christ is risen
Jesus You are Lord of all
Hillsongs - Stronger
Monday, October 17, 2011
So this past week I zipped over to the island for less than 24 hours to see my lil' sis and have a Gracie Day. It was a beautiful sunny fall day and I started the day with a massage from my trusted RMT. I was once again explaining the pain in my shoulders and neck - due to the year of constant bending over and caring for Gracie, pumping, etc. The pain, years later, still remains leading to fitful nights of sleep and finally into daily morning headaches. So as I was going on about the strain in my neck she smiled and said..."you do realize the symbolism of this pain don't you? You have been carrying her still...out front and over your heart. Perhaps it's time to open up your arms, not let her go necessarily, but just move her to your back - like a piggy back. When you carry a child piggy back you can't slouch, you must stand strong. Think about it..."
Friday, September 30, 2011
My little girl has two friends over this afternoon. They are having a tea party with tiny little teacups (thanks to my mother-in-law) and cookies on tiny little plates. Three dog stuffies are the honoured guests. As they pour their 'tea' (chocolate milk) they start making 'toasts.' It is taking everything in me to keep from laughing as they toast "TO GIRLS!!!!" & "TO CHOCOLATE BARS!" As they eat their cookies they say "bon appetite" in sing-song voices. They are giving names to one another such as Twila and using polite manners, and calling one another sweetie. Oh my stars...good this be any cuter?
Thursday, September 15, 2011
You meet someone for the first time, you shake hands and exchange pleasant smiles. You introduce yourself by your first name (I have to do this more than once because of the uniqueness of my name - I make a funny joke about all the ways to mis-pronounce my name and have a hearty little chuckle) all in hopes to avoid the following questions. These questions send panic through my mind in how to best answer.
What are these difficult questions? Well, they may seem like simple straight-forward questions, but they prick at the core of my heart's grief. The questions are simply - What do you do for a living? How many kids to you have?
Now flash-back a few years ago, and the answers were simple. I would cheerfully say 'Oh I am a teacher, I love teaching music, but am currently taking a bit of time off to be at home with the kids'. The conversation would continue on without a moment's break. Yet, fast-forward to present day and such innocent questions can at times, feel fully loaded to a grieving parent.
Why is it so difficult? Well, I think the main reason is that I am going through a bit of an identity crisis. With both my kids at school, and not teaching at the moment, I feel a little at a loss as to what I 'do for a living'? I am also unsure of how to answer the question of how many kids I have because I always want to include Grace, yet at the supermarket with 20 people in line do I really want to explain? Not to mention the awkwardness that comes over people as they are left unsure of how to respond. And so all this adds up to a sort of identity crisis. We all go through these times of questioning of 'who am I'? and 'What is my purpose and calling in this life'?
During my time with precious Gracie, my identity became solely wrapped in the care of my family, and because the needs were so great I basically fell out of all other roles. After Gracie passed away, I was left feeling much the same as I am feeling now. Who am I? What do I do now? The people (outside of family) that I saw the most were Grace's health care professionals, they became my close circle of friends. Those doctors and nurses knew and loved Gracie and knew all the ins and outs of our lives without a long story of explanation. Yet, when Gracie died, those relationships ended as well leaving a huge hole in my heart.
My amazing grief counsellor helped me through that identity quest the first time, and so I am recalling her words of wisdom again this morning. She explained that our shape is constantly changing, and that who I was before Grace, is not who I was after Grace, nor who I would be 2 years down the road of grief. I connected this thought as clay in the hands of the Potter. So today, I feel the Potter re-shaping yet again and it hurts. As he kneads out the bubbles of old titles such as 'Mom to a baby/preschooler' and 'Music Teacher' etc. my spirit is left a bit tender and my heart aches for the days when Gracie was with us. Yet I know, without a doubt, that He is preparing me for the next shape, and this kneading must be done in order for me to become what He sees fit. So even though I question my calling, I don't question the Potter.
Are you in a place of an identity shift? Are you in between jobs, relationships, stresses, or even grief? Are you longing to go back to your old shape only to find out that all that is left are broken shards and pieces? If that is you today, I encourage you to hold on. Although the process is painful, your new shape will be a thing of beauty. It's like going in for a massage for a sore muscle. You know the kneading is gonna hurt, but you also know that in a few days the pain of the massage will be worth it to have the deeper pain of the muscle knot relieved. So...today I am taking my own advice, I will brace myself and hang on through the hurt and trust the Potter. After-all, He sees the benefit, even when all I see is the brokenness.
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Thursday, September 01, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I have been giving some thought to 'the bigger picture' lately. It amazes me how often I get caught up in the here and now. Something relatively small will take up my whole view and the saying 'making a mountain out of a molehill' becomes my false reality. A mentor mom at a Mom's group once said - "whenever I am getting stressed out, it is usually because I have focused in too much and have forgotten about the bigger picture." Wise words. I often feel the same - sometimes I just need to 'zoom out' - just like on google map! When I zoom in things get blurry, and the background is no longer visible. We need the backdrop, the context of where we are at and what is around us to see the truth of our situation. When life is getting overwhelming - perhaps it is time to zoom out and see the bigger picture.
Monday, June 27, 2011
My husband, bless his heart, is a Lord of the Rings fan! He was a fan way before the movies came out. He would read through the Trilogy every summer, and has read all the books! Any question I have he is willing to give me thourough answers - such as the genealogy of an elf, or of a ranger such as Aragorn, or the history of middle earth, or even better pull out a map to bring clarity! What can I say - he is a nerd and I love him for it!
As we were watching The Fellowship of the Ring, it came to the part where Frodo is tired of bearing the weight of the ring...
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil."
I was next to tears. I have seen this movie a few times, and it never fully hit me as it did the other day. The word 'ring' could be substituted for illness, infidelity, abuse, pain, betrayal, etc. Our world is full of such pain. This week my heart was greatly troubled and burdened with some incredibly sad news of a friend. This amazing woman of God is now facing the fight of her life. I couldn't help but think of her as I heard these words.
We don't get to decide what tragedies come our way, but all we do have is the TIME given to us. Even when it seems that evil prevails in this world, we are reminded that there are other forces at work. GOD is still at work in our world today. He still has the power to heal, comfort and restore. And though He promised that in this world we will have trouble, He also promised that HE has overcome the world.
In the grand scheme of life - what is our most valuable possesion? A mansion, an SUV, designer labels? Of course not -I believe it is TIME. Time is our most precious gift. Yet, time slips through our fingertips like sand. Do we really appreciate each moment? When I walked through the deepest valley with Gracie, every day was gold. I understood the importance of time. Yet, when crisis ceases, we often forget this precious gift. Each breath we take is given to us. We are living on borrowed time.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
This weekend I had the honour of sharing with some amazing women at LinwoodHouse in Robert's Creek on the beautiful Sunshine Coast. From the moment I stepped on the gorgeous grounds it was as though all the weight and stress I had been under seemed to trickle away. Water in a creek is always changing, always flowing and this place, LinwoodHouse, is a reflection of this thought. Gwen & Ron open their beautiful home as a get-away and retreat center for those who are in need of refreshing. They serve not only ministry-minded folks and church groups (like our group this weekend), but also to the forgotten and the 'least' of these. They are passionate about reaching out to the women on the East Side of Vancouver. They began a ministry meant to bless the most vulnerable, and seemingly unlovable women with an encompassing and lavish love. The love of Christ reigns in every inch of that home and grounds and the home is drenched in peace and tranquility.
My sweet friend Jodie invited me to be the Guest Speaker at her church's Ladies Retreat and even though I was the 'key-note'speaker, I left feeling spoken to, blessed, challenged, and refreshed! The lovely group of women were fun, friendly and were so ready to hear from the Lord. Their hearts were primed and the Spirit moved as I shared my journey of Gracie. It is amazing to think that Gracie is still challenging lives. Sharing her journey, our amazing journey of Grace, truly makes this grieving heart sing!
I shared on how we all hold preconceived ideas of who Jesus is, and how challenging these misunderstandings can lead us into a closer communion with Him. How do you reconcile a God that has unlimited power to heal, yet chooses not to? How do you serve a God who does not work in linear fashion? How do you look into the face of fear and still trust an unseen God? My journey with Gracie touched on these questions and more. In the end, choosing to obey even though I did not understand allowed the Spirit to bring revelations of His love and will. Once you catch but a glimpse of Him and how great He truly is - you will never be the same. Your vantage point shifts. Instead of zooming in on the problem at the time, you zoom out and see the grander scale. When you become heaven-minded and Christ focused, you can't help but see through the lens of eternity - and once you do...everything changes. This life here on earth is but a vapor. When you truly understand that you are living on 'borrowed' time, you sense the urgency to live each day to the fullest, sharing His love with others.
My personal goals have changed so drastically since losing Gracie. No longer is the big fancy house, beautiful vehicles, and a comfortable 9-3 teaching job my 'be-all-end-all' life goal. Loving my family and teaching them the ways of Jesus so that we can make a difference for Him in our world has become the greatest goal and challenge of our lives. Is there anything truly more important as a parent that solidifying Christ in your child's heart so that they too will one day be with Him, dancing at His feet for all eternity? Do I want my kids to do well in school, get a good job and marry and have a wonderful family? YES, of course I do! Yet, that is not what spurs this heart everyday. The desire of this Mama's heart is to show Jesus in all I do and proclaim His love, sacrifice and forgiveness so that my kids will not only learn to follow Him, but also to know His voice, and take that life-changing love to the broken world around them.
There is such a blessing that flows when we press pause on this busy life and take the time to listen and be still to the Spirit's call. My spirit was re-acquainted with rest and tranquility this weekend, and once again learned the unforced rhythms of grace.
Matthew 11:28-30 - The Message (MSG)
28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
Monday, May 30, 2011
I love how God ministers to me through song. The other day I as I turned on the radio, I heard this song by Laura Story titled Blessings. Most people when they hear the word 'blessing' think of good things, joyous things, gifts. This song challenges that thought and asks...can blessings come in raindrops? Can healing come through tears? It got me thinking. Can pain be a blessing?
Gracie's life was nothing but blessing to me...even through the sleepless nights, the seemingly unanswered prayers, and the veil of tears. She caused me to question all that I had once believed. My Sunday School answers were being shaken to the core - and it was unsettling. Trying to reconcile that even though God was strong enough and had the power to heal Gracie on earth, but was choosing not to was an excruciating reality to come to terms with.
Yet, through my journey of Grace, I came to know the heart and will of my Father. As I pressed on and delved into His Word, His truth, love and light were revealed to this breaking heart through the Spirit. Did things end the way I wanted - no. Did she receive the perfect healing I so longed for - yes. Did this 'blessing' come without cost - most definitely not. Yet, here I am over 2 years later, still breathing, still moving forward - if that is not a miracle and huge testament to Jesus and His love...I don't know what is.
We know Jesus never promised life without hardship, in fact He promised the opposite. We can expect that in this world we WILL have troubles. But the good news, the news that keeps me moving forward everyday, is that we know how this ALL ends. We know who holds the keys to life and death, it is He who holds Gracie even now. He has overcome the world. SO, if we know that eternity awaits, then doesn't that make this life and all of its trials seem a little more bearable, knowing that this is just a blip on the timeline of eternity? This is not our final destination, this is not our home.
Blessings - Laura Story
Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home...
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise
Monday, May 16, 2011
I just want to thank all of you who have joined us on this journey. To those who were there in the valley with me and took time to read my updates and shared words of comfort and love. To those who still walk the path of grief with me and read my blog entries and comment with words of hope and encouragement! You have been a part of my healing journey, for the Potter has used each comment and word of encouragement to help smooth out the cracks of grief on my heart.
I know I don't walk alone, and for that I am so incredibly thankful.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Today I will walk into our neighborhood school, with my sweet little boy in hand and attend 'Ready, Set, Learn.' This program is geared for 4 year olds who will be entering Kindergarten in the Fall. It gives the children (and parents) a look at the school, introduce them to teachers and staff, as well as enjoy fun little engaging activities. I can't believe my boy will be going to Kindergarten in just a few short months. I have been trying all day to suppress the well of emotion that is brewing within. There is something difficult in allowing your children to grow up. I know it sounds ridiculous, it sounded ridiculous as I typed it, but that is how I am feeling. Time seems to be my enemy. Days fly by at a super warp speed, leaving me dazed at times to truly see how quickly my children are in fact growing. They are growing not only in physicality, but emotionally, socially, mentally, and spiritually. I get so wrapped up in the calendar that I lose sight of these precious moments of growth. I am so busy folding laundry and wiping down counters that I am guilty of missing opportunities to just get down on the floor and play Polly Pockets or Toy Story. One day I will be folding laundry and wishing I had the choice of a clean house or a tiny hand to hold. So why, even when I have already learned this lesson, do I find myself back here? Why is this balance of keeping a clean house (cause let's face it I do not want to end up on TLC's Hoarders) and also making time with my kids a priority so difficult? As these life markers appear - first day of K, riding a bike with no training wheels, play dates without me, etc. I need to see them as a positive tool, a way to re-focus on what is truly important.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
- Elizabeth Stone
I love this quote, it rings so true in my own heart. We have our first child and we realize fully how we will never be the same. We look into the eyes of this precious, little one and realize that she is no longer safely nested within us, but has been introduced to this cold, and sometimes scary world. God instills in us, as mothers, this mama bear protection switch. This switch is usually on stand-by until the moment we realize that we are responsible for our baby. The moment we hear that newborn cry - the switch is set and locked to 'ON.' That is why we wake from a deep sleep just moments before we hear the baby's cry for milk. Our bodies were created to protect and care for our children. So what happens when we can't be there to protect? As our children grow and go to school, or to a sports class, or Sunday School what then? We lose a sense of control.
Yet, I am beginning to see that control is not the same as protection. I am learning that hovering over each step my child makes, lining pillows on the sidewalk as she learns to roller-blade may not actually help, but in fact may even hinder. We always want our kids to succeed, be number one and always feel happy. I think a healthier stand point is striving for safety, boundaries, love and security - these are at least attainable. This yearning for safety for our children is so deep wired, which is so good, but we must be careful to allow some freedom and room to fail. Our small group is reviewing a DVD series and in it was this concept of failing. Our kids need to be allowed the grace to fail and learn the tools of restoration. We are ALL in desperate need of such grace. So, when our child falls from the playground structure even after we told him that the monkey bars were too high, what do we do with the guilt? I know for me, guilt is always right under the surface of almost all I do. I can't protect my kids all the time, nor could I stop the process of what happening to sweet Gracie. We are commissioned to set boundaries for our children, set the stage of God's love and provide security, but really the scope of control ends there. I had such little control when it came to Gracie, which was devastating to my type-A, controlling personality. Learning to trust an unseen God in the face of my deepest fear was the hardest lesson I have ever had to learn. My journey of Grace taught me more than ever before how children are but on loan to us for a very little time. What we do with that time is precious. We must be intentional in all that we do, even intentional in allowing our children to fall. Now don't get me wrong, I am not speaking about neglect. Neglect is different. Neglect is willful and selfish. Rather, I am speaking of intentional grace.
Allowing our children room to fail is intentional grace. When we see our child fall off his bike and skin his knee and help him back up again, we are teaching him about hardships and the perseverance needed. This will give him tools down the road when he wants to quit the sports team cause practices are too demanding. When we allow our child to work out her friendship fights, we are giving them the tools to working with difficult personality types. Taking a failure and turning into a lesson of grace and restoration is our Father's heart. Life can be so overwhelming. And if you, like me, feel the lack of control bogging you down, I encourage you today, rid yourself of guilt...and replace it with intentional grace. This life can get you down, but He is there offering you reprieve. After-all, you are HIS child too and He is calling you to learn the unforced rhythms of intentional GRACE.
The Message - Matt. 11:28-29b"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace..."
Thursday, March 03, 2011
It is hard to differentiate Gracie's birthday and her heaven due date - for we grieve both and celebrate both. It is a bittersweet time of year, and always will be. The last two weeks of February and the first week of March have been painful. It was our first 'go' at getting through this time of year in 'real life'.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Ever get the feeling like you are in a stand-still, stuck somewhere. Neither here nor there, just somewhere in between? Why is it when life is grand, life flies by at a warp speed? Yet, when you are in a rut - it feels like an eternity passes with each passing moment.
Friday, February 11, 2011
We are coming up to three years, when our most beautiful little Valentine entered our lives. She showered us with love, joy and memories that are too numerous to count. Her 'dates' are so special to us. She was actually scheduled for a C-section on the 12th of February 2008. We went in to the hospital that morning fully anticipating the birth of our Gracie. I dressed in the beautiful blue paisley hospital gown, allowed a nursing student to play pin the tail on the donkey with an IV needle and my arm, and waited 5 hours just to be told that there were no available beds in the NICU. We were anticipating the 12th as her birthday, we had set in our minds that it was to be the day we would finally get to meet this little one that we had been agonizingly praying over. So, when we were sent home, we were confused as to why God would have allowed that? We had people praying literally all over the world for us on that day, why would He let this happen? Two days later we received a call, it was Valentine's Day 2008. Looking back now I am in awe at how God cared SO much for me, that He orchestrated Gracie's birthday to fall on Valentine's Day. He knew that I would look back each year on Valentine's day in thankfulness that He gave me Gracie on this day of LOVE.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Today the rain is not just falling...it is pounding! The air is cold, the sky is grey and so is the tempest within my heart. For this time of year, winter, is a mirrored reflection of our grief season. We are in the bleakest, darkest, most barren place of our grief as we remember the lasts and the firsts. We remember the last time Gracie smiled, the last time she looked at us with recognition. We remember her dedication service, her birthday and then her heaven due date. We remember the pain she was in, and the pain we were in and the pain we still are in. We remember...the brokenness.
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me
Break my heart from what breaks yours
Everything I am for your kingdoms cause
As I go from nothing to eternity
Thursday, January 20, 2011
A song I heard on the radio "Dancing in the Minefields" (by Andrew Peterson) while driving to Costco, had me in tears. It speaks of a couple married young and now are looking back on 15 years of marriage. He could have been singing our story as we are just a year and a bit shy of 15 years married. He sings that it was harder than they could have ever imagined, but that is what the promise is for. Isn't that true? We often start out married life wanting to be at the 'end.' We want the compatibility, the friendship, the devotion and love that we see in couples that have been married for years and years. In our naivete we do not fully understand - it didn't just happen, it was hard work.