Friday, January 31, 2014

Each Milestone I Need To Turn To Praise

I didn't take any pictures. 
It just didn't seem right. 
Something was lacking and I could feel it. 
But I wasn't going to give in. 
For 18 years we have gone to the farm show. 
As a family. 
Every year we headed to breakfast at the "Wayside Diner".
Sometimes we'd have a late lunch but usually it was breakfast. 
The kids missed school and we would make a day of it. 
We pushed strollers; heavy with jackets and snacks
Some years we had a stroller, a back pack and a sling. 

 It was tradition and a respite in the middle of winter. 
Each year the pictures became more outrageous. 

Each year the kids would climb on machinery and play. 
They would grow ancy as their farmer, father discussed equipment and farming trends. 
This year. 
I watched as the farmers son, neice and daughter's listened intently.

A few years ago they moved the farm show from Barre to Essex Junction. 
It's much closer and the tradition changed.

As the kids got older it was more difficult for them to take off time from school.
But last year, they all made it. 
It seems like just yesterday. 
We covet machinery we can't afford. 
We eat cheese and drink endless cartons of chocolate milk. 
The kids fill bags with pens and notebooks and other literature that clutters their rooms.
We see people we haven't seen since the fall.
Everyone exchanges stories of the winter and the hope for spring.

This year, we didn't go to breakfast. 
The older kids went to school. 
And I went on my first solo, social outing. 

We then gathered together, later for a little while at the show. 
I walked around aimlessly. 
I didn't push a stroller. The kids were off on their own. 
I felt trapped and edgy.
Something was missing, someone was missing. 
And there's just no way around. 
So I went to find the  kids. 
We bought some ice cream. 
 We stepped one foot in front of the other. 
We left that building in beautiful sunshine.
We had made it through another difficult milestone.
And somewhere in the midst of the grief and the pain, 
I remembered the good times we had together as a family and I stopped.

I thanked God right there for the treasure of the time I had.
For all the years I had with Elijah. 
For almost 18 years of memories.
I don't want to miss what God is showing me. 
It needs to start with a grateful heart. 

I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always,  pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus

I can barely stand right now.
Everything is crashing down. 
And I wonder where you are
I try to find the words to pray
I don't always know what to say. . .

Here's my broken Hallelujah

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Challenge To Change

There are 3 days left. 
We meet with the Radiation Oncologist. 
I ask her what are the next steps. 
She nods that doctor nod. 
Which means; really, we don't know. 
She tells us we need to wait because the chemo and the radiation will continue it's work. 
Then in a few weeks there will be some scans. 
But really not until 3 to 5 years can we say that it's cured. 
She then tells us the next 2 weeks after treatments have stopped may be the most difficult. 
I stare at her with a blank look and think; how?
These treatments are cumulative.
So their full effect may not be felt until a few days after the treatments have stopped. 
The other piece that may be difficult is the interruption in routine. 
Again, I stare at her: how?
And this is what she says.
Some people miss coming in and seeing the doctors. 

We have been given a scary diagnosis.
And now for almost 9 weeks we have been at the hospital everyday. 
We might miss the support and interactions. 
It might cause the patient some "blues". 
I think about this. 
It's true. 
It's bizarre.
But it's true. 
I will miss seeing these people. 
I will miss spending time with my farmer. 
This time has reminded me my marriage is important. 
If we can carve out everyday for 9 weeks time to be away from the farm; 
then we can make a commitment to once a week spending time together. 
It also makes me think about our time spent with the Lord. 
Does it affect us if we don't spend time in the Word? 
It should.
Do we long for fellowship with the Lord if we miss our quiet time
We should. 
There should be nothing more important that spending time alone, with God. 
Though it won't change our circumstances.
It will change us. 

Ephesians 5:1-2
Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father].
 And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a [a]slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance.

I want to be changed. I want to be like Christ in all I do. 
I am far from it. . . 
The sin and dirt and grime of this life get in the way. 
But that is not an excuse. 
It is a challenge.
A challenge to change.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Do You Long For The Struggle To End?

When I think I can't take it anymore. 

There are 4 more days. We can do this. We can make it. 
My house is out of control. Insurances are waiting for forms, tax preparations loom. 
 I couldn't sleep last night. 
The first time in 6 months. I got up to pray and read those Ancient Words

I was reminded how the Israelite's were taken from their land. They were banished;
sent into an exile they had been warned about. 
Yet they were told to prosper where they were placed. 
Even though they weren't in their homeland; they were taken into captivity; 
they still had a purpose. Jeremiah 29:4-7
Even though great heartache and grief line our path; we are to prosper where we are. 
There is still purpose and there is meaning. There is hope. 
We are in the final days of radiation and chemo. 
We need to continue to be aware of where we can serve; 
of how we can share the grace that has been given to us. 
We are tired and worn
Yet through it all there is a reminder prosper where you are. Plant the fields. 

We have purpose and meaning. No matter how hard the road. 
I watch my farmer step each morning to the barn. 
I have watched for 20 years. 
A man born of routine and deep conviction. 
He has walked that well worn path everyday; 
even through chemo and radiation. 
There is purpose. There is meaning. 
Won't you walk that well worn path? 
Won't you find the peace and joy from a life surrendered?

Even in the middle of life's most darkest moments, when we are worn and tired;
 plant and prosper. 
There is a future.
There is redemption for those who trust; and call upon the name of Jesus. 

I have cried out these lyrics to this song since Elijah was taken home. 
I want to see redemption win. And I LONG for this struggle to end. 
But until then. We will plant and we will serve. 

I'm tired, I'm worn
my heart is heavy
from the work it takes
to keep on breathing
....Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A 6 month Walk No One Wants To Take

I stand still in the kitchen. 
I have cried out to God most of the day. 
I am tired of cancer. I am tired of missing my son. 
My soul is unsettled and I long for peace.

So I stand.
In the kitchen that I hardly use any more. 
Meals continue to come.
I have little to offer. 
My soul weary from the battle. 
So I stand. 
It is quiet. 
I breathe deep. 
I sense the presence of God. 
The peace that passes all understanding surrounds me. 
For a moment the cancer is gone, the sting of death is appeased. 
I stand for a moment on Holy Ground. 
It has been 6 months
6 months since our red headed boy was torn from us.
Since I have seen his blue eyes, heard him call me mom;
since my heart was shattered into a million pieces.
6 months of leaning into a life I don't like.

6 months of walking by faith alone. 
The journey has not been easy. 
Many transitions, diagnosis of cancer, continued financial strain and dark, cold days. 
The song lyrics, What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. . .runs through my head.
Because I am only as strong as I am weak.
6 months of breathing in deep the crushing pain; the missing.
The necessity of stepping forward each moment to get to hospital appointments, to attempt to get the other parts of necessary completed.
6 months of learning my absolute dependence on God.
There is no other way.
6 months of realizing there is no more future for one.
But there is hope and there is grace for those left behind.

6 months is a long time.
And thinking of longer is brutal and stabs the heart.
But in God's timing it is but a breath.
So we will continue to walk one step a time.
I don't want a future with out my son. 
But I want a future walking God's way, more. 
I don't want a future with out my farmer.
I want a future completely dependent on God. 
I don't want to leave God's presence. Not for a moment.
I am held. He is there.
Even when it falls apart. Even when I feel alone.
And as I continue to stand.
I will breathe in deep.
I will rest, in His unfailing love. 

Draw me close to you Lord. 
Never let me go
I'll lay it all down again
To hear you say that I am your friend
You are my desire,
No one else will do
Cause nothing else can take your place
Oh help me find a way. . . .
You're all I want. . .You're all I've ever needed. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

It Is What Is Unseen, That Makes You Stronger

It is still dark. 
The rhythm of the day beginning. 
The sound of the washer and dryer.
The beat of the pressing. 
Dishes, book work, school. 
The milk pump has been running for hours. 
Soon to have completed it's cycle.
The feeding begun.
Calves fed.

My farmer begins the last full week of radiation. 
The routine to change; again.
This is a change we will embrace. 
One we will anticipate. 
But yet, there is still the waiting.
The waiting for the toxic cocktails and radiation to complete their work. 
Long after the treatments have stopped, these 2 cohorts will continue to leash their effects.
Unseen, they work.
Much like the work Christ is completing in each of us.
It is unseen.
But its work is powerful.
When God is silent He is most often doing his greatest work.
These are truths I embrace on this journey. 
I can not see all the work that is being done through these trials rough steps.
The work quietly being accomplished.

Philippians 1:6
being confident of this,
 that he who began a good work in you 
will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

We may not  be able to see the work God is accomplishing in us.
 But rest assured He is. 
He is at work. 
And he will remain at work.
Long after my weary soul, admits defeat.
Long after my prayers cease because I have no words left.
Long after I have collapsed from weariness from the wracking sobs of heartache.
He is still at work.

Job 19:25
I know that my redeemer lives, 
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.

"And the same gentle hands, that hold me when I am broken. 
They conquered death, to bring me victory
Now I know my Redeemer lives. . ."

Sunday, January 26, 2014

When You're Prayers Aren't Answered. . .And Life Has Taken A Sharp Turn

The intent was for summers warmth to dissipate winters cruel blow. 
For the prayers on the bales to be seen when the sun has hidden itself for days on end. 
When the dark of the day is the longest and encouragement in short supply. 
I prayed over everyone of those bales. Every single one. 
I wrote my prayers out.
I prayed for relief from the financial strain and plentiful nutrients in those bales.
I prayed for protection for my family.
For strength in the journey.

But my prayers weren't answered.
Sometimes they aren't.
As a matter of fact my prayers were not answered at all in the way I wanted. 
Sometimes God answers our prayers in the way we want. 
We just happen to have our desires aligned with him.
Sometimes his answers are, No. 

And this was a resounding, No.
Our journey on this earth, actually became filled with searing pain.
Even after spending that whole day in prayer and praise. 

It was Thursday, July 25, 2013. 
Little did I know it would be the final 72 hours I would ever spend with my son. 
But we spent it together. 
He got so frustrated with me as I slowed the wrapping process down. 
Praying, writing on the bales, taking pictures and just being silly. 
But what I didn't know, was how much that day would come to mean to me. 
I knew that in the winter months, seeing writing on the bales would be a 
sweet reminder of the warmth of summer. 
 But this. . . this, I had forgotten. 

Writing on the bales in the heat of summer. 
A message for my boy while he was stacking bales. 

Gary brings this to me on the night of Winter Ball.
From a bale he has just opened to feed.

On the night when the memories flow.
When I balance on the edge of fear as two children are out. 
And I long for them safe in their beds. 
While time marches on and new memories are made.

When my prayers were not answered in the way I expected. 
And one will never return to his bed.
The dark of winter is settled in. And the messages of hope sprawled over a few bales
 is not enough to dissipate the cold.
But it is a start. 
The light will always overcome the darkness, no matter how small a spark.
The hope that rises in us from years of a well worn path pushes us on.
I ask my farmer to save that stinky piece of plastic.
That piece of summer when all the world was right for me.
But is this not right? 
If this is God's plan; then this is the road I am to walk.
And I don't want any other. 
I want the journey that brings glory to His name.
I want the journey that He walks every step with me.
There is no other way.

2 Corinthians 5:6-8
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long 
as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 
 For we live by faith, not by sight. 
 We are confident, I say, 
and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Won't you sing with me? When you're sacred, when you just don't know the next steps to take.
Lean into the grace. Trust in Him; He know's what He's doing.

We can trust our God, He knows what He's doing
Though it might hurt now, we won't be ruined
He is with us, He is with us
always, always

We believe there is purpose,
 there is meaning in everything

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What I Learned From The Movie, Frozen

It happens later.
 After I have watched the film 
After I have been home; had a night's rest. 
While the farm house is still quiet. 
I ponder the movie. I always do. 
What themes are there? How could this be used in a classroom? 
What can we learn from this film?
It's probably why I rarely go to the movies. 

This strikes me as I get my coffee. 
(I promise I won't spoil the movie)
It's fear that drives her away. 
Fear of what she possesses and what will happen. 
Fear of the gift she possesses paralyzes her. 
It is what keeps us from realizing our greatest potential in Christ. 
I am not a risk taker. 
I don't even move furniture around unless the kids want to. 

In the movie Frozen, even when she unleashes her gift and realizes it's power;
 it's not until she uses it for the intent it was given,
 that she has any peace or can live a life without fear
It trapped her and held her prisoner. 
How many of us live in fear? 
Fear of the unknown. Fear of change. 
I know that every day that leads away from the accident; 
each day we live with cancer; fear crouches at my door. 
I fear what Elijah felt when he died.
I wasn't there; to be with him. He is my child. 
I fear the future and what it will hold. Will this cancer really be gone? 
How will these side effects permanently affect Gary? 
How are we to keep running this farm?
My farmer is tired. 
I have already lost a child. . .will I lose another?
Each time the kids go out. It's there; fear.

I am grateful for God's word. 
It is the guide to help us out of fear. 
God speaks often about fear. 
Even those grown men, who walked with God, 
who saw the very essence of and heard from God through the Prophets, stepped into fear. 
But God was there. 
And He left much in His word for us to cling to in this area;
 to walk in the fullness of Christ as He intended. 

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.

When we see our gifts as from the Lord; to be used and given as He intends;
 our life takes on purpose and fulfillment. Our fear is replaced with firm steps toward the goal which we have been called heavenward.

Philippians 3:14
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me
heavenward in Christ Jesus.

So, learn a few lessons from an animated movie; from the Giver of life. 
Let it go. Give that fear to God. 
Step into the fullness He has created for you. 
Do not fear.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity,
 but of power, love, and self-discipline

Friday, January 24, 2014

Even Before The Day Dawns. . . Much Work Has Been Done

Even before the day dawns much has been done. The farmer rises at 3 even through chemo and radiation. The cows need to be brought in, milking machines set up and milking started. Most of this happens while the rest of the world slumbers. Including me. It is not until 5 that I crawl out of
bed. These cold mornings it is more of a leap. I grab coffee and the Word to begin my day. Always coffee. Always God's word. 15 years ago, when I was in the thick of working and book work for the farm; an 11 year old step daughter, 2  children and one on the way, I prayed. I asked God to help me find time to be quiet. The noise and bustle of the day were overpowering and I would fall exhausted into bed each night. I had nothing left over. Each day full of the race to daycare, teaching, chores, and household upkeep. I began to rise a little earlier each morning. Praying that the kids wouldn't decide to awake early as well. And that morning time became my sanctuary. I filled journal after journal and spent time in the word. As the years passed. I longed to read the bible from cover to cover. Our pastor suggested a plan and I latched on to this method. It was a perfect match for this easily distracted soul. And so began my yearly reading through the bible.

I have maintained the discipline for more than 15 years; 
and this year begins my 6th year through the bible.

My refuge when I wake. 

My thoughts as I live out the daily grit and grime.

It has been my light in the darkest hours of my life. 

And it will sustain me through the trials that continue to be our companion.

It also leads us to joy in the midst of all the sorrow. 

We will continue to seek wisdom as we farm.
 I will continue find the time to be quiet. To listen for God's leading. 
To embrace the peace that is mine in the journey. 
Because I am weak; this journey is trying. 

As my cousin Dawn posted on her facebook;

The journey's difficulty has no affect upon God's strength. -- 
A thought you can carry through the day from my time with God in my kitchen this morning. It's good enough for both of us.

I will continue to rise early.
(Not as early as my farmer, there can be disasters when that happens,)
I will continue to trust no matter the struggle. 
And I will seek the joy.

Psalm 30:5
For His anger endureth but a moment, and in His favor is life; 
weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

To everyone who has lost someone they love, 
long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye
There is hope for the helpless
rest for the weary. . .

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Question I Don't Want To Answer

I know the question is coming.
It always does.
It is how we converse. But it is the question I don't know how to answer.
One I don't want to answer.
I meet a new friend.
Our daughters standing next to each other in the concert.
While we sit next to each other.
Since we have been homeschooling, there are a fair amount of students and families
we do not know anymore.

How many children do you have?

I pause.

I don't know how to answer this question.

Sometimes I just say 6;
the oldest is married and we just had a grand baby.
And the conversation moves on; because babies are cute and safe.

But what do I do with the question?
How do I answer?
How do I stuff down the searing pain, the tears that threaten to overflow.
The memories that come flooding forward.
The sinking feeling, the reminder;
he is gone. 
I stumble through the answer and share; We have 6 and one is with the King of Kings. 
Taken this summer.
The conversation ends.
It really is a stopper.
What do you say to someone who has had a child torn from this world?

Ironically the last song of the concert is Dance in the Graveyards.
Musically this song is a masterpiece.
The harmonies spectacular. The drumming uplifting and inspiring.
Elijah would have loved it.
Maybe he already knew it. . .but I can't ask him. 

They got so much right in this song. 

"All of us meant for the fire"

We are sinners. Bought with a price through the blood of Jesus
destined to live with Him forever.

"And when I die, I don't want to rest in peace, I want to dance in joy, 
I want to dance in the graveyard"

So while I don't know how to answer the "question".
I do know that I want to dance in the graveyards. 
That one day death will be conquered. That Christ will return and
He will take us home to live with Him Forever. There will be no more pain and sorrow.
All our tears will be wiped away.
And this is a promise.

Revelation 21:4
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or 
mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

And we will dance for joy. 

Psalm 30:11
You turned my wailing into dancing; 
you removed my sackcloth 
and clothed me with joy,

Our reunions will be oh, so sweet.
Longing for that day with all my heart.

And we will:
"dance on the streets that are golden, the glorious bride and the great son of man,
From every tongue and tribe and Nation will join in the song of the lamb"

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Even When The Darkness Closes In. . .We still Need to Praise

Psalm 17:1
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
his love endures forever.

photo courtesy of Mallory Burritt

Psalm 118:28-29
You are my God, and I will praise you;
you are my God, and I will exalt you.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
His love endures forever.
So often, those who have gone before us, have given praise to our God. 
Through the storms that rage and the blessings bestowed; they praise. 
The lessons learned through the Ancient Prophets cause us to continually turn back to praise. 
When we walk roads that are wrought with pain and sorrow; praise seems so far away. 
Yet, for me it brings sweet relief. I fall to my needs and words escape. 
I lift my hands to One who knows all my pain and I am held. 

Even though he has allowed this deep agonizing pain. 
He allowed Elijah to return to the dust from which he came. 
He has allowed cancer to invade the earthly body of my farmer. 
We have hope.
We do not despair.

My heart will choose to say, 
Blessed be your Name
You Give and take away. 
My heart will choose to say;
Blessed be your Name. 

No matter your walk today. No matter how hard the struggle. 
No matter how plentiful.
Choose to say "Blessed be your Name"
Because He is in the struggle. 
He is in the very moment. 
Even when the darkness closes in. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How To Make More TIme In A Day

I look into those beautiful blue eyes. 
His sons inherited them. One still growing, the other, his eyes closed for all of eternity.

I turn away. Tears threaten to spill over. 
I hate to see him like this. 
It breaks my heart. 
I have no control.
The outcome unknown.
The toxic cocktails supposedl, targeting the cancer that threatens to consume his life.
Yet the journey there, leaving him tired, and weak.
Stepping each moment in faith and hope.
Grace met us once again as one of the nurses prays with us. 
We are strengthened and encouraged. 
These glimpses of grace are such gifts and do much to spur us on.
My farmer is half way done with his infusions.
He has 10 more radiation sessions.

I ponder on how we are finding time to head into town everyday and spend the entire day on Fridays, when we struggled to find time to be together before this.
I don't want to go back to that old way of living.
 Finding time to be with your spouse is so important.
Intentional time.
 Holding hands and laughing.
We do that every time we go to the hospital.
Even when what we are heading towards is not fun.

It can paralyze us.
Motivate us.
It passes at the same rate year after year, moment after moment.
Yet some of those moments are fleeting and some drag on.
There are moments when I wish time would stand still. Like the night of Elijah's accident.
I long for more moments. 
My clock flashing for weeks because I did not want to change the time.

It's all we have.
God has given each us a certain amount of time.
The same amount in a day. . .just different lengths of days.
How will my life count? How will I listen to what God will call me too?
The laundry and dishes scream for attention.
Fatigue permeates most of our lives and the energy to put into our marriage is often displaced.
There are games, concerts and meetings. Emails to check and Pinterest boards to view.
We find time for things that matter.
And I want my marriage to matter.
It is a sacred vow, we took.
 In plenty in want, in sickness and health. . .until death due us part.
My heart cries for time. 
That the death due us part; will be far in the future.
But we know all too well, that is not for us to decide. 
The time we have is now and we need to be intentional.
How will my life count? What will I let scream at me for attention?
When our steps are surrendered to the one who orders them, our time will be used for his Glory.
As we let him write our "to do list" the important things become clear.
And time will be His.

Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

So make the time you have here on this earth count. Seek a to do list, that matters.

1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, 
do it all for the glory of God.

"I've grown tired of earthly things
They promise peace but furnish pain
All of life's sweetest joys combined
Can never match those in another time"

Monday, January 20, 2014

No Matter The Hurt, Or Pain; See. . .He Is Doing A New Thing

I am restless.
The pain searing today.
The missing overpowering. 
The unknown of cancer lingering.
Will the treatments work?
How much more will they affect my farmers body? 
The future unknown and looming before me. 
My soul longs for relief. 
Relief from the constant pain, the constant longing for my son. 
Longing for family time all together. 

That which will never be. 
Sometimes I think my heart will shatter into a million pieces.
Other times, I think it already has
This is all too much to bear. The weight is heavy and His burden does not seem light. 
The steps ordered for me seem a bitter path. 

Isaiah 43:19
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
 I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

I can not see what God is doing. He is doing the new thing. He and He alone will make the path straight. He gives light to that path. He illuminates the part we need to see. 
Even in the darkness, he is doing a new thing.
He wants us to wait for him. 

Psalm 27:14
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.

Waiting is hard. We have a need for immediate gratification. 
Frustration is bred as we wait; in lines, in traffic, for our technology. 
I confess, I am terrible at waiting. I am easily angered or annoyed by slow vehicles, by crowds or lines. My heart becomes hard and venom is known to spew from my lips. 
Yet this waiting is given by the Lord. 
He tells us to be strong and take heart. 
These times of waiting are moments to find grace. Moments to pray for those around you. Moments to seek whom God will place in your path. To prepare you for the race of the day. 
God is doing a new thing. 
We need to be ready. We need to prepare to run the race he has planned. Our lives need to reflect the well worn path to the cross. The daily practice of taking up his cross, laying down our burdens, quietly being in his presence and spending time in his word. 

 Even when I can barely take a breath, he is working his will and his purpose for our good. 

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, 
who have been called according to his purpose.

For He is good. 
He will always be good. No matter how I am feeling, no matter the ache or joy. 
He is always good. 
Step into that goodness today. 
Let him take your pain.
No one is beyond redemption. 
There is grace for all. 
For He is so good.