Wednesday, April 30, 2014

He Will Renew Our Strength

A wife loses her husband and 2 children in a tornado. Just like that. 3 members of their family gone.
How does a mom grieve for 2 children and her husband?
 Her soul-mate. 
I am familiar with the loss of a child. 
The overwhelming grief. 
I know the knee bruising prayer of pleas to spare my husbands life. 
To lose them all at once? 
My heart snaps. 
There is so much pain. 
I read the comments one of the daughter places on Facebook. 
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. 
Words I too have quoted, spoken, relied on. 
They are words from Job.

Job 1:21
And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: 
the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

A man well acquainted with grief and sorrow. 
Yet a man who persevered through his trials. 

The Lord does give and He does take away. 
It doesn't change His character.
Until His return we may never understand.
We take one step at a time
Each day, a step toward the cross. 

We are given grace for each moment. 
To rest in His promises. 
To serve Him with all our being. 
To let go of all that hinders our walk. 
To wait upon His timing. 

Isaiah 40:31
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;
 they shall mount up with wings as eagles; 
they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

He will renew our strength. We will not grow weary. 
He will equip us for His work. 
We are kept and we are loved. 

Blessed be the name of the Lord. 
When the darkness closes in Lord, 
Still I will say. 
Blessed be the name of the Lord. . . 
Blessed be your glorious name.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Step At A Time

"Every doing starts with a step."
It's the first thing I read when I get out of bed. 
I didn't want to get up today. 
Sometimes when I open my eyes the impact hits all over again. 
At least I try. 
I try to thank Him for the day. 
To begin my day with a Christlike focus. 
Lately it's been about my emotions.
I wallow in what I have lost. I cry out for it to not be. 
This morning when I didn't want to take a step.
Those first words encouraged me. 
"Every doing starts with a step."
Not a final plan. Not all the answers. 
No well executed list or exquisitely planned event. 
Just a step.

Proverbs 16:9
In their hearts humans plan their course, 
but the LORD establishes their steps.

A step towards Gods word. A step toward the laundry. 
This journey continues to be heavy. 
But a step at a time is what is needed to stay the course. 

Photo credit to my talented daughter Clarissa

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

One step at a time today toward God's leading. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

My Soul Is Well

It's the future that echoes.
The hollow emptiness that will ever be. 
It's what all parent's feel at the loss of their child; of a loved one held dear.  
It tears and pulls at the heart. 
A daily struggle to rise and count the grace given for the moment. 
It is deep anguish thrashing to consume. 
Stepping towards hope against the raging current.
Your son ripped from you in a moment. 
Searing loss. 
Moments that can never be again.
It's been 9 months.
The tears come wrapped in a cocoon of grace. 
The shattered fragments of my heart held tightly in the palm of the Holy Father's hands 
He covers us with his love.
The wages of sin; mercy extended on a cruel cross. 
Offered to you and me. 
Rising in the hope of all eternity. 
My knees buckle under the weight of all that's been. 
I cry out that it's too much to bear. The weight crushing. 
I long to be relieved from this present torment. 
As the wracking sobs subside.
My heart responds to the soothing melody.
The words permeate my soul. 
The song played at Elijah's funeral. 
Those life giving words pour over me.

It is well with my soul.
What ever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well with my soul. 

Hebrews 6:19
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. 
It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,

It Is Well With My Soul 
The story of the Hymn by Horatio Spafford
  1. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

      1. And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,

      1. The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;

      1. The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,

      1. Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Question That Begs An Answer

The doctor asks my farmer, "What do you like to do?"
And I watch my farmer.
He doesn't know.
Right now, he hates farming.
There are aspects he used to enjoy. Maybe even love. A deep satisfaction.

Now, it produces stress. Reminders of a beloved red headed farm boy;
 heading to the Marines.

He used to play music. . . we both did.
Kids and life got in the way. 
I start to think. 
What do I like to do? 
 I used to love to teach. It is in my blood.
But with 6 children, a farm, a home, working out became impossible.
My career shifted to domestic engineer. 
Now, everything seems so hard. 
Everywhere I look there is something to be done. 
A memory that pierces my heart. 
Who am I?
Who are we as a couple?
These questions beg an answer.
Who are we after 21 years of marriage, the death of a son, cancer and  depression?
Who are we?
We are God's children.
A promise.
We have to ask, "Who is God?" In order to understand those questions.
Who is God? 
The hope of all nations.
Our provider, healer, restorer, redeemer, the joy giver.
He is that and so much more.
It will take all of this life to even begin to fathom his mercy.
Who are we?
We are husband and wife.
Covenanted by marriage.
A life long commitment, strengthened by the trials that try to separate us.
Who are we?
We are parents, friends and lovers.
Our identity tied together through bonds that can't be broken.
We are united in Christ.
Bought with a price, given on the cross.
We are raised to new life; with purpose; for a purpose.
A purpose that is not yet fulfilled.
We are ambassadors on this earth with a message of hope to share.
A legacy to leave, pointing to the Creator and redeemer of our souls.
Worship in the midst of grief.
Hope known when our hearts are overwhelmed.

Do you know loss? Is your heart heavy?
Do you long to know who you are?
We're going to rephrase the question the doctor asked.
What is it God wants us to do? 
We are going to seek that answer.
Where is he leading us through this time?

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 
 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, 
fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Trusting Is All I Have

It's the tears that come today. Not the words. 

Elijah's Baptism here on the farm. 

Psalm 100:5
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; 
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

First day of Senior year

Psalm 39:4
"Show me, LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; 
let me know how fleeting my life is.

Winter ball Senior year
Psalm 139:16
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
 all the days ordained for me were written in your book
 before one of them came to be.

The memories overpowering.

Jeremiah 31:3
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: 
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; 
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
my birthday 2013

Isaiah 54:10
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
July 28, 2013

I can only trust. There is no other way. 
Strength comes through the journey. 
Holding on to what I know.  

Because I will trust you. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

When Trusting Comes Hard

 I have a confession to make. I don't trust Him enough. 
At all. 
I get a call from a friend. 
She says I am not trying to be a nosy neighbor but I wanted you to
know your tractor and manure spreader were stopped by the police. 
I start to shake. 
I tell her thank you. I can't stop shaking. 
I call Gary. 
I hang up the phone. 
I sit at the desk and shake.
The tank could have flipped.
My mind races.
I relive the accident night over again. 
I hear God's voice.  Do you trust me enough?
 My shaky voice answers, No.
I don't trust you enough. At all.  
I am weary from this walk. 
My soul fragile. 
And a phone call can leave me undone.
I breathe deep until the shaking stops.

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 look out the window.
 Memories of children running through the yard flash through my mind.
I can hear them calling to each other.
I want to go back. 
I long for the days when the kids were younger.
When they were all in my care.
When I met their needs and cooked and we all sat at the table together.
No candle for a space holder.

And I stop.
 No marriage and a son in law.

No sweet Lilah Rose.

These are not my decisions to make. 
Long before the dawn of time these days were known.
I say so to my farmer when he comes in.
He says not me. I don't want to go back. 
I don't want to lose any ground. Heaven can't come soon enough.
Is it possible to stop living while you're alive?
To become so heaven focused that you're no earthly good?
I think the answer is somewhere in between.
I can't go back. 
There must be beauty in this new journey.
This new family structure.
Cedric pulls the tank and tractor up to the house.

He is so happy. Pure joy.
A farmer friend has blessed us with the use of their equipment.
And our boy is thrilled.
He needs this.
This is the reality now.
I can trust God with all of it. Even in the heart stopping moments.
I need to.
Another unexpected tragedy may happen. We are not immune. 
God is reminding us to;
Be assured that what ever does come our way it has passed through the hands of the Father first.

Jeremiah 31:3
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love;
 I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

He loves us. Nothing can ever change that love. 
He pursues us with a passion. 
We need to respond. 

Micah 6:8
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, 
but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

There will come a time when everything will not pass through the lens of an accident.
Of Police Officers in my home telling me of a terrible loss.
I won't tremble at the sound of sirens.
It's a new day. Won't you join me in starting fresh?
Seeking God; trusting that each moment of today is aptly in his hands.
Resting in the hope of His promises.

"This world has nothing for me 
This life is not my own. . .
I know you go before me and I am not alone.
I know you go with me and I will never fear.
I will trust in you.
Whatever may come our way. . . . we won't be shaken."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Seeing The Wonder

I walk onto the field. 
It's the first home game. 
The first time I have walked onto this field since Elijah played. 
My friend is with me. 
She who has walked with me and supported me. 
Surprisingly, a sense of peace washes over me. 
I was blessed. 

I loved watching his team play. 

I think back to the day Caleb brought those sticks to the house. 
I didn't even know what the sport was. 
The kids loved it. 
Lacrosse became their game.
 I smile remembering. 
I look around. 
If I don't embrace the holiness of this moment and see the wonder
 I will miss the gifts God's is longing to send. 

Isaiah 30:18
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; 
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. 
For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

I allow myself to remember. 
Slowly. There is an ache, with a sense of peace; with longing. 
I look at my friend. 
She knows. 
Each one so precious. 
I stand up straight and watch as Cedric's team gets ready. 
I glance around. 

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

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sometimes He Does; Sometimes He Doesn't

Just one. That's all she asked for. 
An impossible situation.
She was a prisoner in New Guinea during the war.
A missionary placed in a prison camp. 
Then accused of being a spy. 
Faith like a mountain. 
In the cold hard cell, Darlene Deibler Rose  gave thanks for the tile. 
It meant she was out of the dirt. 
A blessing. 
She counted her 1,000 gifts right there in the prison cell. 
A woman alone.
Her husband taken from her and gone the way of the saints. 
She was starving and diseased. 
She longed for a banana.

Ephesians 3:20
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, 
according to his power that is at work within us,

Her diet consisting only of rice. 
The God of all creation sent not one banana, but 92. 
He didn't have to. 
Sometimes he doesn't.
And sometimes he does.
He is good either way.

Psalm 100:5

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; 
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Our desire is to serve; to seek and be changed.
He uses the circumstances in our lives to mold and shape us.
To encourage others along this journey.
We may not like all we go through.

The way hard.
It is all for His glory.
Many of us have never had to suffer.
We have had much at our disposal. We lack for little.
So when hard times come we shout how unfair it is.
All the while our character is being shaped and likened unto the Father.

We have been told there will be trials.
We have been told how we should respond.

James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 
 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Persevering requires dying to oneself; daily. 
Casting off all that hinders our walk. 
We long for peace, and ease this side of eternity; yet are promised trials and tribulations. 
As our troubles increase, he will all the more pour his grace out in abundance. 
He does it each day. 
His mercies sweet. 
Have eyes to see. 
Have a heart willing to yield. 

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.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Laughing In The Graveyard

The boy leaves me undone. 
Most days are difficult. 
Each word is poison and I can't begin to help him. 
He's lost a brother. Dealt with his beloved father being so sick and he's 14. 
I would come unglued. 
He's still fragile in the faith. 
And he's lashing out. 
But sometimes there are glimpses of what is to come. 
The veil pulled back and the blue eyes shine. 

There is humor and there is a sensitivity, so like his fathers. 
But this growing and stretching is hard on me. 
So when there is a calm. I embrace it. 
When he leaves me undone. I count 1,000 gifts. 
I leave Lilies at Elijah's grave.

No headstone marks his space. . . yet. 
The Lilies a marker. Something to do. 
Some way to serve.
I place them. 
That blonde haired, blue eyed boy hollers. He shouts it out loud;
Mom! What are you doing? Elijah hated those things. 
They stink. 
And right in the middle of the graveyard. 
In the deep crevice of missing and longing; I laugh. 
I cry. 
And I am sure I made other noises that are not becoming. 
But the grace that fills the heart when the laughter comes is warm. 
That boy has left me undone. 
Oh to be a people that can laugh and find joy even when the hurt is crushing. 

Psalm 30:5
weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

I left the stinky Lilies at the grave. 
One for my mom, one for my son.
I brought the other home. 
One for my in-laws. 
I will plant that stinky Lily somewhere here. 
I haven't been able to grow anything; but this, I will try. 
Maybe I will see it grow. 
If we can't bend and yield to the Savior's leading, we will be left behind. 
We miss the grace he longs to pour out on his people. 
Even in a graveyard there is hope. 

I am reminded of the "Dance In The Graveyard" song Ana sang at her concert in the fall. 
The drumming brings me to my knees missing my redheaded drummer. 
He would have loved this song. 

For me, it showed the joy of the sweet reunion we all long for. 
Someday we will be reunited with our loved ones. 
If you have surrendered and bowed low to the giver of life, this gift is yours. 
We will laugh, and we will dance. 

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

Monday, April 21, 2014

When Each Step Taken, Is On Solid Ground

Easter. A day of great joy. 
Also my birthday. Another new path forged. 
Days I didn't want to walk through. 
Yet the beat of time relentless in its march. 

(Easter 2013)

(Easter 2013)

Then, the realization that your first born is residing in Glory on this Resurrection day. Oh the joy he experiences on a continual basis. We, a people, just trying to understand with limited minds. I made it through most of the service with out crying. It's the first service since Elijah met Jesus and Gary was diagnosed with cancer, that I haven't dissolved into a weeping mess. There were 3 additional lovely ladies with us. We took up 2 pews. And I was so grateful. Even though I was minus one, I was also plus 3. God saw fit to surround me with those that I love. It is continually counting 1,000 Gifts.  Having eyes to see. Stepping onto solid ground. The service was beautiful. A trumpet descant on almost all the songs. Music soothes my soul. It reaches deep to the unseen places. To the places of searing pain. I close my eyes as we sing. . . I am so weary. My mind is filled with memories of years gone by. They come flooding forward.  The pain comes at will. Never when you expect it. It is then I shed a tear. The Hallelujah Chorus is being sung. I breathe deep. Last year Crystal went with Elijah to sing. My tear is for gratitude. I have been held. We have been carried. We will never be let go. We are fiercely sought after.

Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness

Even though I don't feel it. Even though my heart cries for the one I miss; we are kept.

 I want to shake the memories. Crystal heads up to sing again this year. She is a strong young lady. She seeks the holy. Not understanding all this. But trying. Searching. 

Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

This has been a long week. I am left with so many questions. A Saturday to a Saturday. . . life changed in a moment. I seek to yield to the will of the Father. I echo our Lord's cry, not my will but thine.  I don't know what is expected of me. Everything still so out of sorts. So raw. So I stay with what I know. I rejoice in the resurrection. The tomb could not hold Jesus. He has conquered death. He can break the bond of sin that holds us. He can fill our longing hearts. He is able.

There are small buds on the trees.  New life. It is rising up; hope in every moment.  May you step into that hope this Easter Monday. A day of remembering in Boston. A new Marathon. Stronger people.
We are a people who "will not be shaken,
Our feet are placed on solid ground. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Best Birthday Gift. . . Ever

Each year I would begin calling my dad around the end of March.
 The countdown to my birthday had commenced.
We played this game for years.
Well into my adulthood.
Long after I should have stopped. 
I loved it.
Mom had a knack for making birthdays and holidays magical.
It wasn't anything she bought.
It was her excitement. It was catchy.
She singled you out.
For worth. For purpose. 
My birthday meant Spring.

The end of the cruel winter.
Each birthday wonderful.
Spent with family and friends.
It didn't matter what we did.
I just loved being together and celebrating.
Mom is gone now.
Called to Jesus. Her Eternal Home.
And now too, my son. 
Last year we went to dinner.
Because we live in such a techy era we have a memory.
A picture.
It was so fun.
God knew we would need these lasting imprints from these final celebrations this side of eternity.

Today I don't really feel like celebrating. 
It's hard to do life when part of you is missing.
But God has other ideas.
Right in the Middle of Holy Week we attended a funeral.
Another heart wrenching, unbelievable loss.
It has left me with questions; trying to make sense of this journey.
The thought of celebrating a birthday while my son resides with the King of Kings has been troubling.
Years of cards and memories.
Yet God, in his infinite wisdom, did not take this lightly.
My birthday would fall on the pivotal day of all days.
The day the stone's been rolled away. 
Friday is gone. 
And we are the Sunday people.
A people born into rest.
We are a people that have been set free. 
We have been redeemed.
For worth. For purpose. 
There is nothing we can do to earn this love.

He paid it all. 
It is the greatest birthday gift I could receive.
I think about the cost.
His life. . . for me. 
The grave is empty. 
He is Risen.

Matthew 28:6
He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. 
Come and see the place where he lay.

And because of that gift, eternity is mine.
It is yours. 
One day I will see my son again.
Until then, may I be found faithful.
May you all become a Sunday people. 
Lay down those burdens and take up the cross.
Let God take all that ensnares you.
Let Him fill you with His grace.
Thank you Jesus for the best gift ever given.

Living, He Loved Me
Dying, He Saved Me

Saturday, April 19, 2014

He Did What He Had To Do. . .For Us

It's not about the candy or the Bunny. It's not about the Eggs, the baskets or the Ham dinner. 
But it is. 
And One less basket leaves me weak.

There are so many little things that add up to shattered dreams and a broken way. 

And I wonder. 

What was it like in Heaven when Jesus returned?

God had sent his son that star lit night long, long ago.

Sent the babe to Bethlehem. 

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: 
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

The Savior of the world wrapped in love; destined to die. 
For you. For me. 
He knew what would befall his Son. 
His one and only Son. 
Still; He sent Him. 
My sight was limited. 
 Unmarred with the knowledge of the future cut short. 
But God. 
He knew. 
And He gave.
All the while aching for His Son. 
He didn't withhold.
What a gift. 
We are so limited in our ability to see. 
But our God. He can see it all. 
I bet there was great rejoicing in heaven when Jesus returned. 
And as we wait this side of eternity for His return; All of creation groans.

You see, we are all part of His Kingdom. 
He longs for us all to be gathered. 
The time is not yet fulfilled.
There is still work to be done. 
Until then, we will remain in hope. 
Hope for a day when the tears will be wiped away.   
We wait in between Good Friday and the Resurrection. 
God's wrath spent on One; deserved by all. 
Grace poured out. 
Holiness made perfect.

Acts 2:24
But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death,
 because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

Death has been overcome. 
The grave can not hold him. 
The victory won. 

Death WILL NOT have the final say. 

I Corinthians 15:55-57
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?” 
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
 But thanks be to God! 
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is sweet victory. 
The story is not complete. 
Jesus will return. 
He is coming.