Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why I Don't Want To Say Good Bye. . .Again

I don't want to say goodbye to 2013; 
at all.

One might think, why? I should be ready to kiss 2013 Good Bye forever. 
But I can't. 

It holds Winter Ball in January.

A cruise in February. 

Mother's Day and every other day when Elijah walked this earth. 
When he was alive and his future full before him.
 Where his hopes and dreams were held tightly in the future that was to his. 
It held boot camp and life. 

2013 holds Lacrosse,  Memorial Day, Prom and Graduation. 

It holds the last days we were together. 
The last moments I heard his voice;
 looked into those blue eyes. 
The last song we heard together. 
How can we move on? 
How do we move away. 
I don't want to say Good Bye. . .again. 

2013 also holds our sweet Pemmy. 
It holds my farmer healthy unscathed by the demon of cancer. 

2014 and every other year after that won't hold our son.
We will place his stone at the grave with the permanent reminder that 2013 is where his life,
 here on this earth, ended.  
 Every step toward the future is a step away from him. 
Away from my child. Away from all that was supposed to be. 

There is no choice. 
No matter how I will the clock to stop or cling to what has been. 
Or pray for this all to be a dream. 
The clock will tick on and the New Year will commence. 
Each moment in this life, we are given choices.
 Choices to seek Truth. 
To stand firmly on that which is called hope.
 It is here that I stand. 
It is here where all that has happened;
all that has made me who I am, and who I am becoming in Christ becomes my future. 
There is new life to celebrate. And I don't want to miss it. 
I don't want to be so stuck in grief that I can't see the beauty emerging around me. 

A precious bundle of joy. 

Other children edging toward graduation, their journey not yet finished. 

Each step away from Elijah leads us closer to home. Closer to where we really belong. 
Yet, we are still here on this earth. 
Our work is not finished. 
I do not know what that work looks like. 
But I don't need to. 
God does. 
He has it all. 

Hebrews 13:14
For this world is not our permanent home; 
we are looking forward to a home yet to come.

We are not home yet. This is not where we belong. 
Take this world and Give me Jesus. 
There is something better coming. 
And there will be a sweet reunion. 
Oh so sweet. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sometimes I Just Can't Pray

Sometimes I can't pray. 
There are no words.
I try.
 The enormity of all that has happened
and is happening stifles almost all my being;
and prayer can not happen.
 I know others are praying.
 I can feel it; 
There is a sweet peace that permeates. 
Being still before God is hard to do when your son lies deep beneath the sod of this earth.

When you wait for toxic cocktails and radiation to work their miracle on your husband.

Grief transcends words and emotions.
And I sit to pray and I can't.
I walk to pray, and I can't.
Words don't come.
Usually the tears do.

Yet through each step of this torturous journey, I have been able to Praise.
It hasn't left me.
Not once.
 I can lift my hands to the Father in sweet surrender and sing Praise to His glorious name.
I am able to cry out with hope.
My soul yearns for God's presence moment by moment.
 I long for His comfort and strength.
I long for the day He will return and make all things right.

Psalm 68:4
Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; 
rejoice before him--his name is the LORD.

When we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to the One who knows the journey well.
He meets us there.

And He will never let go. . .ever.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sometimes I Just Want The World To Stop

5 months. 
Half the time I carried you. 
Long enough for your niece to be born, seasons to change,
your father to have cancer
 and our hearts to break.

Each step forward feels like an eternity;
a conscious effort; 
an act of the will to live without a piece of you.

The desire for the world to stop; because something is so dreadfully not right.
5 months.
Almost half a year.
It doesn't seem possible.

Sometimes in this life we are called to hard steps. The journey rough and unforgiving.
 Finding sure footing is imperative.
As we walk this journey of deep grief and cancer; being aware of our footing is critical.
We are navigating a business, additional appointments, grief and the unknown.
At times I feel as if it could all unravel at any moment.

The farmhouse has been full this week.
Daughter and son in law and the sweetest of babies, cousins, my dad and my brother's family.
It's been such a nice distraction.
But is it a distraction; or is this how we should really live?
Should our doors be flung wide open?
 Flung open to family, friends. . .and yes even strangers?
Because God meets us in these moments.
 Because we have been told:

Hebrews 13:2
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, 
for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

I want to be open. I want to see and hear where God is leading our family.
 It is hard because grief overshadows all we do.
It permeates my soul and clouds my thinking.
Yet amidst all the grief, there is a still small voice.
He beckons for us to:

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

and the for us to:

Matthew 16:24
Then Jesus said to his disciples, 
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves
 and take up their cross and follow me.

There is another change in our journey.
Today is the last Sunday of our Pastor Shepherding our flock.
It is yet another step onto an unknown path.

God knows well these paths.
 He has walked them before the foundation of time.
He will lead us and guide us.
He will strengthen us.
And we will keep our eyes focused.
Our strength will come from One who gave all so we might live.

As we live in community; meeting needs, hearing the stories
that make us who we are, we are being Jesus to a broken world.
We are able to breathe life into deep hurt and pain.
There is freedom in repentance, grace in giving and healing in community.
As the winds of change once again enter our lives, I will cling the rock.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Radiation And The Bat Cave Wall

They put on the mask and clip it to the table. 
He lies there so still. 
I touch his leg and pray. 
Red beams emit from the wall as they align the marks. 
The radiation is very specific. 
I swallow as they get everything prepared. 
We leave the room and a door closes; almost like the bat cave wall. 
Thick; protecting us all.
But what about him?
We are able to see him on the monitor.
And I choke back the sobs that threaten to come. 
How can this be?
Why do parents have to watch their kids endure this? 
Why do I have endure this? 
There is a child advocate with us. 
I breathe steady breaths. 
The kids are with us today. 
I need to be strong. 
But really there is nothing strong in me. Because I am weak. I am tired and frankly; I am worn. 
We head over to the infusion center. 
Now that he has had radiation that needed a thick wall to separate us, we're going to have toxic cocktails leeched into his system. 
And I ponder the alternative. 
The child advocate stays with us for awhile. 
She lets us sit in a room and it's nice to be together as a family.
The kids laugh and play with play dough. 
And I think it could be so much worse. 
We could have to be in Boston, like a friend of mine. 
How would we survive? 
I thank God right there for the blessing of having us all together. 
And I march down to get myself a Latte; 
because a friend has made sure we have access to food at the hospital. 
(is coffee considered a food?)
The 2 little girls spend all day with us. 

They are so good. 
I tell them so; repeatedly. 
They want to go home. 
I tell them, sometimes we have to do hard things. 
Right now, it's just about being here for dad. 
Just being present. 
Ana gets it. She looks at me with those big blue eyes and smiles. 
She understands. 
Sometimes it's not about us. 
We head home to a messy house, laundry, dirty dishes and family. 
To a wonderful step daughter and her husband. 
Her husband that puts up with so much and brings such encouragement. 
To the sweetest of babies;
and to extended family who bring food and laughter.

Psalm 119:25
I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Instead Of Drinking My Coffee In Front Of The Fire, I Will Drink It At The Hospital

I don't want to leave. I want curl up by the fire with my coffee and read. I want to hold that sweet Lilah and listen to her coo. I want to bake or do anything than deal with cancer and living without our son. I pack the bag to have ready. Snacks, water. The bag a dear friends thought about to
meet our needs. It will be a long day.

 Radiation and chemo. . .every Friday.

The kids are coming. They will see the radiation and infusion areas. I prepare for their questions and the impending side effects. The nurses assure us, this will be the week. He is far enough in. 

I have already seen the effects. I see it in his eyes. He's tired. One of our helpers showed up very late for work this morning. Work. The farm. Our only source of income. I step into fear. It blinds me. How will we survive? How will Gary be able to rest if the farm is not cared for. . .But this is not the journey I need to take. I have grace for the moment. Not for the moment that comes after. Just for the here and now. 

Matthew 6:25-27 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

One day while exploring gifts to give to Lilah, I came across these plush rocking animals. One just happened to be Elijah the Elephant. I am serious. Crystal, Elijah's girl friend, loves elephants. Ok, she is obsessed, in a very healthy way, with elephants. So, when I saw this rocking horse, I thought it was a fitting gift. 

I look at Lilah and I think, she will never know Uncle Elijah. She will never feel  his hugs, or climb on him like a jungle gym. She will never crawl in his lap and hear his deep voice read a story - so animated. But she will know him. Because we will not forget. She will rock on Elijah the Elephant until she is too big. Then she will hear the stories of his life. She will hear about the grace extended to this hurting family over and over; and she will know. 

Isn't it that the way of our Faith. We want to share. We want this hurting world to know the Peace that is offered so freely. The peace that came as a child. The peace that passes all understanding. The gift so overlooked and passed by. 

We will spend the day at the hospital. I will have my coffee and I will read. It just won't be in front of the fire. We will spend time together as a family, making the best of the situation. And the house will not get cleaned and I will still be wrapping presents in the wee morning hours to celebrate Christmas with my dad and brothers family.
 Because that's just the way it goes. 
So, I will step into the grace for the moment
And not worry about any other. 

How do you deal with worry and the unknown? 

Would you share with us your experience? 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Grace That Visits Your Door, When Your Heart Is Breaking On Christmas Day

I don't want to say we made it through the day. 
But we did. 
How do you celebrate Christmas with your 17 year old son buried deep beneath the winter snow?
How do you breathe in and out missing a part of you?
How do you look at stockings and open presents;
 when your heart is shattered into a millions fragments. 
My boy is gone. And I miss him so much. 

But he has gone where Angels trod.
The same Angels that proclaimed the birth of the Most High, 
The same Angels that declared that He is Risen. 
His work finished, here on this earth. 
And no matter how I want to change that.
 I can't. 

So on Christmas morning we do what we know. 

We head to the manger, while the stars still shine and all is still. 
Before the presents are opened;
 we gather to celebrate the only gift that really matters. 
Our hearts are full.

We arrive home to open presents and finish chores.
And then this family heads to the movies. 
On Christmas Day. 
We pack up. 
We do something we rarely do. 
And it was wonderful.
"Saving Mr. Banks", is fabulous movie. It is well done. 
I don't know why it's PG 13.
 It was the perfect movie for Christmas Day. 
Themes of redemption and not letting your past drive you down, but up to something meaningful. 
It was full of hope. 

From there our day continued to be memorable. 
We headed to the airport to pick up a dear cousin. 
Once upon a time ago, I spent all my Christmases with this cousin and his family; his brother too lies deep in the earth. 
Memories swirled in my head thinking back to those times. 
Presents, and happy child glow.
 Music. Always music. 
From the airport we return home to find that the sweetest of step daughter's 
and her family have come a day early. 
They too finding this day out of sorts.
I hold that precious baby.

I haven't finished wrapping or cleaned or made any preparations.
I thought I had another day. 
But it doesn't matter. 
Because sometimes the greatest gifts can't be bought. 
And sometimes God blessings come so unexpected. 
 Childhood memories dance through my head and the treasure of a cousin here in town are what I think about as the day closes on Christmas 2013.

I think about the grace that has visited this farmhouse today.
When it was least expected. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

His Stocking is Empty, But the Manger Isn't; Finding Christmas Joy

His stocking is empty. 
The stocking I made to match with Cedric's.
 A stocking I have filled for 17 precious years. 
Stockings that were 4 and then became 8 and this year would have been 9. 
 But after 17 years.
It hangs limp, while all the others burst from the seams; awaiting their precious owners.

But it's not about the stockings, or the tree.

It's not about the presents; but His presence. 
And as I stepped outside this morning, the heavens declared their Majesty. 
The moon and the stars in all their bright, glory rang out the song that Jesus is born. 
He came, He walked this earth, He suffered and died for you and for me. 
But today. 
We celebrate His birth. 

Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

We celebrate the joy and the greatest gift he gave; himself. 
So while Elijah's stocking is empty, the manger isn't.
It is full. 
Full of life and joy all for you and me. 
Embrace the gift so freely given. 
We can lay down all that troubles us and leave it in the manger.
We can pick up that baby boy and carry him with us.
And the funny thing is; he will carry us. 
That is grace and mercy. 

Psalm 23:6
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, 
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

We continue to receive blessing from friends and strangers.
A beautiful Christmas bouquet to adorn our table.
A barn full of help this morning so my farmer can get back to the house for awhile.
The presence of Christ in your life and the presence of your life in another's are the beginnings of understanding this journey.
May you know the untold joy from the presence of Christ in your life.

Merry Christmas from The Davis Farm to all of You 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Birthday On The Holiest Of Nights

It was such a clear, cold night. 
The stars shone brightly. 
I couldn't sleep. 
Moon beams streamed through the window.
I wondered what Mary, the mother of our Savior, thought about. 
How did she feel? 
Did her feet swell on the way to Bethlehem. How did she make that journey, so with child?
What was she thinking?
 I pondered these things as I was heavy with child;
as I mourned the loss of my Mother in Law.
I pondered these things during Advent as my time grew near. 
I wondered. 
On the night before the celebration of the birth of the Savior of this world. 
My time came. 
And at 12:48 on December 24, 2002, we were blessed with a beautiful baby girl. 
She was so pink.

And so soft.

I had resigned from teaching.
I was going to be a stay at home mom; for the first time. 

And this sweet girl has grown.

And now she is 11. 
I wonder where God will send her on this life journey. 
How will he use her gentle ways?
Her dimpled smile?
This child we weren't expecting. 
This gift.  
Even now;
as we mourn and walk a deep journey of grief and unknown.
She brings us great joy. 
She snuggles and loves to be held. 
This child loves to clean. 
So different from me.
She prefers order in the midst of all our chaos. 
She born on the holiest night of all. 
She is graceful and elegant. 

Happy Birthday our sweet Ana.
Christiana Shirley.
Named after the Grammie she never met.
But who we say kissed that sweet face before she was sent down. 
Because there is a shadow of Shirley in that Christiana. 
Thank you for the lessons you have taught us about slowing down. 
About breathing deep and treasuring moments.

And I wonder what Mary thought.  

Luke 2:17-18
 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Mark Lowery wrote this song and sings it here. 
I pray on this holy of days that we ponder all that was given; 
all that was sacrificed when the Incarnate came as a babe. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Are You Overwhelmed By All The Christmas To Do's? Why Don't You Lay It All Down. . .Just For A Moment?

I sit on his bed. 
It's been 20 weeks since God called Elijah's name. 
I breathe in, hoping for a change in circumstances. Hoping to catch a scent. But there's nothing. 
He is not here and what remains is fading. 
It's been 20 weeks since I have seen his face or touched the child I bore down to bring life.
Longer than he would have been gone to boot camp; and it's only the beginning of the "longer thans". 
Each time the girls remember something about him. I ask them to tell me more. 
Describe to me in detail what they saw or were feeling. 
I don't want them to forget. 
I want them to remember. 

Remember Large hands and the sound of his voice.

Remember his love and commitment to this country
It takes work to remember. 
If we are to hide God's word in our heart we memorized scripture over and over. 
We spend time in the Word. 
We remember.
We share family history through story telling year after year; story after story; to never forget. 
And I want to remember how in this journey; when death has knocked at the door, when the farm hangs in the delicate balance of failure or success and cancer threatens to destroy our peace; I want to remember. . .

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I want to remember the community that stops me for a hug at the bank and I don't know 
who it is until yesterday when she tells me. I was so distraught. 
I want to remember grace poured out as an offering by so many;
so we can have the basics through these tough months. 
I want to remember the notes and scriptures scratched out to encourage us.
 I want to remember to fall to my knees in humble submission before the greatest King ever known. 
And to remember that it is He, who will bring about the events according to His will and his plan.
 I don't want to forget. 

Our little corner of the world is encased in an icy display of wonder.
 It is a treacherous beauty. 
It shimmers and glitters with an ethereal effect.
Yet, cracks and pops with destruction in it's wings. 
All is frozen just as it is. Tree's bending with the weight. 
Threatening to yield to the burden it carries.
May we bend with the burdens of this world; but not be broken.
May there be beauty even in the treacherous. 
And may we never forget when the Holy touched the earth;
even the expanse of the sky declared it's presence.

Matthew 2:2
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea 
in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying
and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? 
We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."

As you listen to this very familiar Christmas Hymn.
 May you, even for a moment, lay down all that burdens you;
 all that threatens to overwhelm and discourage you; 
all that distracts you from this season; 
all the preparation, wrapping, shopping. 
Just for a moment. . .stop. 

Come and Adore Him.
Give Him all the glory. 

Chris Tomlin
O Come All Ye Faithful

Sunday, December 22, 2013

What Cancer Cannot Do and What God Has Already Done; The Angels Brought Tidings Of Great Joy

He had just sat down to rest.
Lately this rarely happens.
There are so many fires to put out that resting has not been a luxury.
 After two days of radiation and one day of chemo,
 my farmer was sitting down. 
 Cedric brings in a package.
 There are always parts and supplies being delivered. 
Yet, this was from our long time friends Donna and Harold. 
Elijah's God parents. 
Donna had sent a note early on when Gary was diagnosed and
 found he needed chemo and radiation. 
She thought he might like a quilt. 
A quilt to wrap in when the chemo toxins leave you cold; from deep within. 
When the radiation has left your throat raw and barely able to swallow. 
A quilt to hold you tight, remembering you are loved. 
And it came in the mail; right when he sat down. 

And it says what Cancer Cannot Do.

I feel like this has become the mantra for my life.
What (fill in the blank) cannot do.
What Cancer Cannot Do to my mom and now my husband. 
What Alzheimer's Cannot Do,What the Death of Your Son Cannot Do and  
What Financial Stress Cannot Do. 
None of these will take away our joy. 
None of these will change, not for a moment,
 the deep love the Father has for each one of us.
Marital problems, financial stress, wayward and rebellious children, over crowded schedules, even the day to day normal, will all threaten to destroy our joy;
 to destroy the holy that we seek. 
It is no wonder that God sent His son as a baby. 
A humble child who grew into a humble man; 
seeking peace through acts of service. 
He became flesh so we might live. 
He offers us the greatest gift.
Yet why do so many shun? 
Why do so many pervert and change the intent. 

Isaiah 40:28
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, 
the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

Religion and politics have become the battling grounds for dueling opinions. 
It appears that the speakers opinions or delivery become more important than the 
Truth laid out in the Ancient Promises. 

Life threatening illnesses, devastation on the farm, the loss of our son have beat us down. They have threatened to steal our joy, to threaten our marriage and our ability to live day to day. But with strength and hope in the LORD. 
We will be victorious because of that small babe.
 Not because of any power within or any strength that has been given
 but that which is from the Father. 
So, take heart all you who are weary; who are burdened by the season, overwhelmed with financial stress, who are facing dark days ahead. 
The One who came as babe, The One who conquered death on the Cross longs to bear the burdens you carry. 
And so on this 20th week of missing our son, yearning with all our heart for things to be different; we lay the burden down again. 

The Angel Came bearing Good News.
Hope for all Nations.
May that hope be yours today. 

Luke 2:10-11
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: 
for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

He has not left us.
And He never will.