Repost: God of the Day and God of the Night

I was afraid of the dark until I was almost forty years old.

My fear was rooted in scary childhood moments and even years of adult experience could not rip it from the soil of my psyche. I never could convince my heart what my head knew to be true: there was nothing in the dark that wasn’t also there in the light.

It was fear, not darkness, that controlled me.

There is great darkness in grief.  So many unanswerable questions, so much anquish, so much pain.

Read the rest here:  God of the Day and God of the Night

A Broken Heart

The world is stunned by the  deaths of Carrie Fisher at 60 and her mother Debbie Reynolds just one day later.

And it should be.

Carrie’s death was undoubtedly hastened by a combination of mental illness that led to addictive behavior that led to physical damage that made her a likely candidate for the early heart attack that took her life.

Each of those contributory factors run amok in our society-often undiagnosed or untreated because of the stigma attached to them.  She was rich, famous and had lots of resources available to her yet was still unable to escape the clutches of addiction until late in life.

Debbie Reynolds died of a broken heart.  The cause of death may be declared “stroke” but any mama who has buried a child knows full well that the moment they told her about Carrie, her heart gave up.

Mine did when I received the news of Dominic.  I wanted nothing more than to lie down and die and make this awful, unbearable pain disappear.

But I didn’t.  And neither do so very many other mothers and fathers-they keep going.

They sweep together the broken shards and bundle them up and choose to fight.

It’s hard.  It’s tiresome.  It’s discouraging and it takes every once of energy they can muster.

It saps the strength of the strongest among us.  

I don’t wish child loss on anyone.

But I do wish that the shock and sorrow the world feels over the deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds might raise awareness of how child loss affects parents and siblings left behind.  

Look around.  

There are people in your own life living this horror.  People who are still striving to carry on when they want to give up.

Take their hands,

encourage their hearts,

help them hold on.

forgot-to-bury-me

He Will Hold Me Fast

 

I’ve mentioned it before.

I’ve encouraged others not to resist.

But I want to be absolutely clear:  Losing my son made me doubt EVERYTHING.

I grew up going to church, listening to Bible stories, hearing “God is in control”, “Jesus loves me”, “prayer moves mountains” and  (even though it isn’t true) being “good” gets rewarded.

The prerequisite, of course, was receiving Christ, being “saved”, trusting Jesus.

I did that when I was eight years old.

And I leaned in and studied Scripture, fashioning my life around the Holy Word.  My home rested firmly on the solid rock foundation of belief in Jesus and the sovereignty and sufficiency of God.

For heaven’s sake!  I spent twenty years homeschooling my kids!  We might skip a math lesson but we never missed a chance to note how biblical principles and biblical truth informed our worldview and guided our choices.

I know, I know, I know that I don’t deserve special treatment.  I know that God does not promise to exempt any person from hurt and heartache as long as we walk this earth.

But somewhere I got mixed up.  

Somehow I thought that if I did all the right things, made all the necessary personal sacrifices, read the right books, walked the right path, my heart might be spared.

I was, oh, so wrong.

So when I had to bury my perfectly healthy, vibrant, brilliant, loving son who was here-one-moment-gone-the-next, I had to take a little while to decide how much of what I used to believe I could still believe.

I had to pull out all the verses, all the suppositions, all the theological arguments upon which my faith had rested and test them against my new reality.

Is God sovereign?  Does He have control?

I decided that He is and does.

Based on His Word and my own life experience, I am convinced that God is in control.

But His control does not routinely override the laws of physics He has put in place to rule the world.  His control does not always spare someone the natural consequences of choices made by free will.  His control does not always supersede the sinful brokenness that abounds on this earth.

So, here I am.  Left with absolute rock solid faith in the few, most important things upon which my hope can rest.

Christ died.

Christ rose.

Christ will come again.

Death is conquered.

Heaven is sure.

Redemption has been paid for and restoration will be complete.

I know by painful experience that His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts.  

my-thoughts-are-higher

I do not understand everything.  

But I cling to what I can understand.

Doubt is not sin.  I don’t try to talk myself out of it anymore.

Because the One Who made me holds me fast.

Those He saves are His delight
Christ will hold me fast
Precious in His holy sight
He will hold me fast
He’ll not let my soul be lost
His promises shall last
Bought by Him at such a cost
He will hold me fast

~He Will Hold Me Fast, Getty Music

 

 

 

 

Healing Comes In Its Own Time

I’ve lived with invisible chronic disease for a decade.

From the outside looking in, you’d hardly know that I am often in great pain.  I make daily choices about what I will do and what I won’t do based on what I can do and what my body refuses to do.

I take medication.  I do all the things I’m supposed to do to help my body heal.

But I cannot MAKE the healing happen.

No matter how hard I wish it were different, no matter how carefully I manage my treatment, healing comes (or doesn’t) in its own time.

I’m pretty sure that most people have experienced something similar if they’ve broken a bone or had a bad bout of bronchitis or pneumonia.

Other than following the advice of your doctor and taking your meds on time, resting and eating well, there’s not much you can do to force your body to get well.

A broken heart is just the same.

All I can do is place myself in the path of healing.  I can feed my soul with truth and drink living water from God’s Word.

I can lean in and rest in the promise that Jesus will redeem and restore.

I can do the work that grief requires.

And working on healing takes energy, effort and timelots and lots of TIME.

I cannot hurry the healing.

Please understand that as inconvenient, uncomfortable and disconcerting it may be for YOU, it is immeasureably more so for ME.

Please be patient with my heart.

I’m really trying.

grief is love unfinished

 

 

Repost: Chasing the Darkness

There are so many people struggling to find hope and light in this world.

Especially at this time of year, when it seems that everyone else is having a “holly jolly Christmas” those who can’t find even a spark of joy in their hearts feel abandoned and alone.

Read the rest here:  Chasing the Darkness

He Has Filled the Empty With Good Things

After two days of eating, eating, eating, I’m hardly hungry.  

But no matter how full my stomach gets, how snug my pants may fit, my heart longs for more than this earth can provide.  

Even before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven I knew that this world was not my home.  I was well aware that nothing here could satisfy the deepest ache in my soul for a place where justice reigned and death no longer ruled.

Now that longing is magnified.  And I cling to the hope that Christ gives.

Mary didn’t understand everything about the baby she carried in her womb.  She (I pray) was unaware of exactly how He was to usher in this new kingdom of God.

But she knew enough.

She knew that because of Jesus-The LORD saves-things were going to be different.

So, like Mary, I lean in and trust.  I hang on and hope.  I reach out and reassure my heart that the Mighty One of Israel will fill the empty with good things.  

Even the empty places in a grieving mama’s heart.  

     And Mary said:

    My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abaham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.

Luke 1:46-55 NIV

He Didn’t Have To Do It

Invincible made vulnerable,

Lord made lowly,

Not above me

Not below me

Beside me-

EmmanuelGod With Us, God with ME.

Love took on flesh to walk among us barefoot over the broken shards that bruise our hearts and make our feet bleed.

He knows my pain

He knows my frame

He loves me.

He didn’t have to do it.  He could have decided that it wasn’t worth the cost. He could have wiped the slate clean and begun anew-He made the world the first time, He could have made it a second time just as easily.  

But the God of the universe chose-He CHOSE-to purchase the broken and battered, the weary and worn, the wounded and limping for His treasure.

He’s still here.  As near as your next breath.

Are you empty?

He will fill you.

Are you broken?

He promises to restore.

Are you weary?

He will give you rest.

Open your hands, open your heart and receive the Real Gift of Christmas.

christ-in-christmas

 

 

Listen. Love. Repeat.

Today and tomorrow families will gather around tables and trees and television sets.

Some folks together for the first time in twelve months and maybe a few for the first time in years.

family-reunion

All the cheesy Christmas movies promise that reunion is sweet.

They roll out the fantasy that old wounds are easily patched up and the smell of turkey and apple pie casts a spell on broken hearts and broken relationships.

But that’s not usually how it goes in real life.

Instead of sweet release and precious moments, many families will experience rising tension as one person tries to bite her tongue and another fuels his anger. Politics, religion, personal lifestyle choices and old slights work to raise the temperature of the room to boiling.

And then it happens:  He storms out, she leaves in tears and another “Hap-Hap-Happy Holiday” is in the books.

angry

It doesn’t have to be that way.

It can be different.

If, instead of letting words hit our ears only long enough to form a quick rebuttal, we choose to listen-really listenwe can change everything.

1538R-61348

If, instead of jumping to conclusions we commit to lavish love,  we can undo the knots that form in stomachs and smooth out the furrowed brows.

If instead of making a point we choose to make a friend, we will endure fewer arguments and foster greater compassion.

Listen.

Love.

Repeat. 

As many times as it takes to wash the worry out of a room.  As often as necessary to weave a web of welcome.  

Listen.

Love.

Repeat.

love-covers-a-multitude-of-sins

 

 

 

Of Flying Geese and Calling Courage!

Geese flying over my place form a wobbly “V”.

They call out to one another as they go and remind me that we all need help to hold it together.

geese_0

I imagine that the stragglers in the flock want to give up.

Even instinct is not enough to overcome exhaustion.

I see it in my goat herd too.  Wandering from weed to weed one or two inevitably miss the cue to move forward because their heads are down when the rest move on.

My favorite doe looks up and realizes she is alone.  She bellows, begging the others to let her know which way to go.

img_0900

Alone is hard.

Alone is scary.

And alone leaves me vulnerable to attack.

Every one of us, even the introverts and the boldly solitary, need to know that we are not really alone.

Left to myself, I’d give up. But with help, I can go on.

I’m so thankful I am not alone in this journey.

Not thankful that others know the pain of burying a child, but thankful that in our mutual loss and sorrow, we come together and cry “Courage” to one another.

I know when my race is through the ones who journeyed with me will be a huge reason I made it across the  finish line.

That’s why I’m here.  

That’s why I keep showing up.  

Writing every day is a challenge.  Sometimes the words are hard to find.  But I’m committed to continue calling out as long as I have breath.

You. are. not. alone.  

courage-dear-heart

 

 

 

Christmas Cards-Yes? No? Maybe?

Getting Christmas cards out on time was always a challenge in my busy household.  

So for the last years of kids at home, we transitioned to sending New Year’s greetings.  It was easier to get a family photo with everyone home for Christmas, there was no artificial deadline to send them and we could include a “thank you” or respond to news in their Christmas letters.

I haven’t sent anything for three years.  

What could I say?  

And a family photo was out of the question.

But faithful friends and relatives keep sending us theirs.  

As I was looking at them this past week, I decided to make a go of it one more time.  I sat down and pecked away at the computer keys until I composed something that felt right.

HERE’S WHAT I WROTE:

“Hello from the DeSimones!

For anyone counting, it has been three years since our last Christmas/New Year’s update.

I just could not figure out how to send greetings when our hearts were so very wounded and sore.  I’m still not sure how to do it-but am plunging ahead. 

We are learning to live with the absence of Dominic.  We are learning to carry the weight of grief and sorrow that burden our hearts.  We are managing the necessary tasks of life.  We are moving forward in careers and education.  We live and love and even laugh.

It’s not the same.

It will never be the same. 

And that’s a testimony to our enduring love for Dominic and his lasting impact on our lives.

We look forward to heaven, where everything that the enemy has stolen will be redeemed and restored. 

I’ve been reading The Jesus Storybook Bible-it is a remarkable way to re-imagine and re-engage with God’s Story.  My very favorite part is a paraphrase of Revelation 21:4:

‘And the King says, “Look! God and his children are together again.  No more running away.  Or hiding. No more crying or being lonely or afraid.  No more being sick or dying.  Because all those things are gone.  Yes, they are gone forever.  Everything sad has come untrue.  And see-I have wiped every tear from every eye!”‘

[Here I inserted updates on each of us under the title “newsy bits”]

We are thankful for each one who has encouraged us, loved us and stuck with us in this journey.

It’s our prayer that this Christmas season the Saviour will fill your hearts-hurting or happy-to overflowing with His love, grace and mercy.” 

You may not be ready to send Christmas cards. Maybe next year, or maybe never and that’s OK.

I’m sharing so that perhaps my words can help you find a way to tell your family’s story.  

Christmas for those of us missing a child we love will always be different.  It will always be tinged with sadness.

But we are stronger together.

We can hang on harder when others hang on with us.

I appreciate each person who reads this blog and takes time to comment.

Thank  you for encouraging, loving and sticking with me in this journey.  

May the God of all hope fill your hurting hearts with hope as we wait together for our faith to be made sight.