Inseparable!

In the first days and months after Dominic left us I copied this verse dozens of times-in my journal, on notecards, on posterboard to plaster across the refrigerator and stick on mirrors and doorposts.

I had to remind my heart that even death could not separate my son from Him.  

That even the most wily schemes of the enemy could not rip me from the hand of my Savior and that even my own doubts or fears or questions were not stronger than God’s love through Christ to hem me in and keep me safe within the confines of His protection from eternal damnation.  

God’s Word is living and active.  

It is part of my inheritance in Christ Jesus and I can appropriate it for my own life.  When I am afraid and when I doubt, I try to repeat truth until my heart can hear it:   

“If God is for [Melanie and Dominic] who can be against us?

32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for [Melanie and Dominic]—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give [Melanie and Dominic] all things?

33 Who will bring any charge against [Melanie and Dominic] whom God has chosen?

It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

35 Who shall separate [Melanie or Dominic] from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 

37 No, in all these things [Melanie and Dominic] are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate [Melanie or Dominic] from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8: 31b-35,37-39 NIV

nothing can separate1

Words Matter

“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” ~Jesus

Have you ever had a moment when words “slipped out” before you could stop them?  

I have.  

Standing amidst the wreckage of hasty speech I would do almost anything to stuff them back inside.

I like to pretend that I didn’t mean what I said.  I like to imagine that the words don’t reflect what I really feel.

And in the wake of burying a child, I find that I am ill-prepared to keep my mouth shut. Words tumble out because my emotions are almost always close to the surface.

The truth is, a glass only spills what’s already inside and my mouth only spews what’s hiding in my heart.

I am trying hard to fill my heart with grace, love and mercy so that what comes out heals rather than hurts.

I’m not always successful-the heart is deep and my wound is great.

But being wounded myself, I long to be an instrument of healing and peace in this broken world.  

st francis prayer

 

The Hard Question of Prayer

In the wake of burying Dominic, the most difficult spiritual discipline for me to recover has been prayer.

In part because my heart just doesn’t know what to ask for or how to talk to a God Who has allowed this pain in my life.  

In part because I don’t really have a framework for placing the prayers I want to pray inside my ongoing struggle to commit my future and the future of my family to the hands of a Father Who didn’t step in to prevent Dominic’s death.

I still struggle with this.  

“When it’s not your kid you can think of all kinds of lofty, theologically correct arguments or reasons for why God answers one prayer and not another–for why one person is healed and not another–for why one person survives a devastating-should-have-killed-him accident but not another.

But when it is your child that doesn’t survive or isn’t healed or is stolen through the violent actions of someone else…well, that’s a different matter entirely.”

Read the rest of this post here: The Problem of [Un]Answered Prayer

 

Monday Musings

It’s my habit to watch the sun rise.

Even on Monday mornings.

Even when I might rather stay in bed.  

Because every time the sky lightens from black night to bright day I’m reminded of two things:  

loved by the one in control

 

 

I am not in control.  

But God IS.

I can’t stop the world turning and I can’t make the sun rise.  

 

But I don’t have to-I am not responsible for the big picture.  I am not in charge of making all the pieces fit just-so.

My duty is to be the piece I was made to be.  

To go where God sends me.  

To do what God has for me to do.

 And to leave the rest in His hands.  

There are times I want to be in control, but it doesn’t last long.  I quickly realize that I can barely keep myself in line, much less anyone else.

you are more

 

And when I let go, I am free.  

I am free to be the me God has made me to be.

I free those around me to be the persons God has made them to be.  

And that’s worth waking up to.

Rest

For the next few days I’m taking a break from creating lengthy new posts.  So I’ll be posting some short notes of encouragement along with quotes I treasure and maybe re-posting the most popular old entries.

The summer heat is on here in Alabama and I think I need a little “refresh and renew” time.

I pray that each one reading this and carrying the heavy burden of missing a child of your heart will also be refreshed and renewed-that even in the midst of heartache and pain,

you will hear the Father’s voice,

you will know the Savior’s love and

you will receive fresh wind for the journey from the Spirit of God.  

YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE. 

Love,

Melanie

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

Growing up digesting Disney fairy tales can warp your sense of reality.

There are no unblemished princes or perfect princesses out there.  The bad guys don’t always get what they deserve and the good guys don’t always win.

At least not here on earth.

Read the rest here:  Messy Lives, Merciful Savior

Changed

I’m not the same me  I was two years ago.

I no longer look with confidence down the driveway as friends and family pull away, certain that we will see one another soon.

I whisper, “Be safe” when we part, but know that they are not the keeper of their days and that “being safe” doesn’t mean everyone escapes deadly peril.

Read the rest here:  A Different Me

You Don’t Have to Pretend

It’s OK to not be OK.

If you are grieving, you are not responsible for making others feel better about YOUR pain.

You have suffered a great wound and you carry a heavy load.

heal and acknowledge

 

You are allowed to express sorrow and longing.  It’s what people do.

It’s what we have to do if we are going to make it through this dark valley.

Find a safe person and let. it. out.

 

Bottling it up inside only drags me deeper under the waves.  Hiding my tears doesn’t save me from sorrow, it only makes me ashamed and anxious.

ann voskamp love will always cost you grief

 

And there is nothing shameful in grieving my missing child.

Great grief is the price I pay for great love.

 

I’m not advocating pitching a fit in public.

It’s good to be sensitive to other people, and I want to extend the same courtesy and kindness to others I would like to have extended to me.

BUTwhen sorrow rolls over me like a tidal wave, I do not have to hide to preserve the comfort of others.

And I won’t.

mourning

 

 

 

Silence Doesn’t Serve Anyone Well

One of the reasons I write is to share my grief experience with others.

I realized when tossed into the ocean of sorrow that of all the things I had heard about or read about, surviving child loss was never mentioned.  

Oh, someone might comment that so-and-so had LOST a child, but then the conversation quickly moved on to more comfortable topics.

But if we don’t talk about it, we can’t learn to live through it.

Silence doesn’t serve anyone well.

I agree with Mr. Rogers:

Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”
― Fred Rogers

spotlight3

During the course of my lifetime I have seen many topics dragged from behind closed doors out onto the stage and under the public spotlight.

Frankly, some of them could have remained in darkness as far as I’m concerned.

But there is something still taboo in polite conversation–something hushed with awkward silence should it ever be spoken aloud in a crowded room–mention GRIEF and eyes drop to the floor or someone hastily throws an arm around you and says, “There, there–it’s going to be alright.”

I don’t blame them. Remaining in the presence of great pain is uncomfortable.

In my growing up years I don’t remember anyone speaking about death and grief for longer than the time it took to go to a funeral home visitation and stand by the grave as the casket was lowered in the ground.

What came AFTER the loss–not a word.

We need to talk about it.  We need to educate ourselves about it.  Because, like my EMT son says, “No one gets out of here alive.”

You WILL experience grief in your lifetime.

I pray the people you lose are full of years and ready to go–that you get to say “good-bye” and all the important things have been said and done so you aren’t left with extra emotional baggage in addition to the sorrow and missing.

But you never know.  Neither you nor I are in control.

And even in the one place where it would seem most natural to talk about life and death and grief and pain–our churches–it still makes those who are not experiencing it uncomfortable.

Yes, there are grief support groups.  And, yes, they are helpful in ways that only a group made up of people who understand by experience what you are going through can be.

But much of life is spent rubbing elbows with folks unlike ourselves, with parents who know the fear of losing a child but not the awful reality.

And just a little bit of openness, a little bit of education and a little bit of understanding would make such a difference.

We don’t want pity.

compassion and stay with you

 

We aren’t looking for special accommodations that single us out and mark us as “needy”.

But we long for understanding and compassion and the opportunity to tell our stories.

He Knows My Name

Grief can be isolating.  

It separates me as one who knows loss by experience from those who have only looked on from the outside.  

It opens a chasm between me and people who aren’t aware that life can be changed in a single instant.

And I can feel like no one sees me, no one cares about me and no one notices my pain.

Sometimes it even feels like God has forgotten me-that He isn’t listening, that He doesn’t care.

But Jehovah hasn’t abandoned me.  

Have you ever wondered why there are lists of names in the Bible?  Do you, like me, sometimes rush through them or pass over them to get to the “main part” of a story?

But look again, the names ARE the story. 

The God of the Bible isn’t the God of the masses.  He is the God of the individual. 

He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve.  He called out to Cain, ‘Where is your brother?”

He took Enoch, guided Noah, chose Abraham and Moses.

He anointed David, spoke to and through the prophets and He CAME, flesh to flesh to bear the sins of His people, redeem them from death and cover them with His blood.

My name is graven on His hands.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”

Isaiah 49: 15-16a NIV

My life is hidden with Christ.

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life,appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:3-4 NIV

He has a new name for me, a secret name I’ll receive in Heaven.

“To the one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death, I will feed you with hidden manna and give you a white stone. Upon this stone, a new name is engraved. No one knows this name except for its recipient.”

Revelation 2:17b VOICE

The enemy wants to convince me that God has forgotten me.

That He has abandoned me in my sorrow and pain.

That when my son breathed his last, He was looking the other way.

That’s a lie.

And I refuse to listen.

Years ago I heard this song for the first time and it touched my heart:

He Knows My Name by Israel  (listen here)

Lyrics:

I have a Maker
He Formed My Heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands

(Chorus)
He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call

Not everyone reading this has lost a child.  

But everyone has lost something or someone.

And everyone, if they are honest, has experienced moments of anguish wondering if God in heaven cares.

graven on hand

 

He does.

He hears.  

He knows your name.