Repost: He Will Hold Me Fast

I need to remind myself of this every few days.

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.

Read the rest here:  He Will Hold Me Fast

Is My Son My “Guardian Angel”?

It’s really hard to wrap my mind around what exactly Dominic is doing now that he’s not here with me.  Sometimes I try to create a narrative or a scene or a story line that gives me something to hold on to.

It’s not easy though.  

So I absolutely understand why some parents think of their missing child as their “guardian angel”.  But that just doesn’t correspond to what Scripture tells me about what happens after death.

I firmly believe that there is a heaven and that my son is there, in the presence of Jesus and the saints that have gone before.

We are confident, then, and would much prefer to leave our home in the body and come to our home with the Lord.

I  Corinthians 5:8 CJB

He’s not an angel nor has he been assigned to look out for me down here with some kind of supernatural power to intervene and make things happen-either good or bad.

He is worshiping with other believers at the feet of Jesus, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.

lay their crowns

And honestly, that brings me more comfort than the thought that he is watching me suffer his absence down here.

Dominic loved me-still loves me, I believe-and if he were aware of the deep pain his absence causes it would be torture for him.

But in the presence of Christ there is only joy.

You teach me the way of life. In your presence is total celebration. Beautiful things are always in your right hand.

Psalm 16:11 CEB

So he cannot know my pain.

It would break his heart.

It is great consolation in this journey to realize that he is beyond ALL pain and sorrow.

I am deeply thankful for that.

better is one day in your courts

 

 

 

 

 

Subtle Disapproval

I mention that today is a hard day to someone who knows my story and the words fall with a loud “thud!”  between us.

I don’t know whether to pick them up or not and she isn’t having anything to do with them.

So I move on to another topic.  Clearly this one isn’t going anywhere.

There are lots of ways to send messages of disapproval.  You can “just say NO” like kids are told to do in anti-drug and anti-bullying campaigns.  You can rant and rave and argue and rail against someone or something in person and on social media.

Or you can just ignore someone when they spill what matters to them like an offering on the ground at your feet.

The opposite of love is not hate.

It’s indifference.

The opposite of support is not opposition.

It’s looking the other way.

Strangers line streets to cheer marathoners on-offering cups of water and words of affirmation.

“You can do it!”  “Keep going!”  “You are more than half-way there!”  “Don’t give up!”

hobbling-runner

And yet many of us are running the race of our lives without a cheering section.

I get ityou are so very tired of the fact that I am so very tired.  I have worn out the welcome mat to the door of your heart.  It DOES get old when I bring the same baggage with me each time we talk.

baggage

Trust me, I’m working hard at unpacking it.  I’m doing all I can to lighten my load and what I ask you to help me carry.

But it is a slow, slow process.

And every time I need help or encouragement and don’t get it, another brick is added to the suitcase.

You might think you are helping me learn to ignore the pain by ignoring my mention of it but I don’t have that luxury.

It’s my heart wound, not yours.  

It’s my child buried, my child not here, my child gone from sight-how exactly should I ignore that?  Which of your children could you put away for a lifetime and forget was ever here?

If you want to help me lighten the load,

let me unpack my pain by telling my story.

If you want me to finish the race strong,

cheer me on.

best way you can help me

 

 

Yes, I AM a Cat Lady

I confess:  I AM a cat lady.

Not the one with the dozens living in the house and stinking up the place but the one who relies on her furry pal to get her through hard days.

I raised Roosevelt from the day he was born.  

His mom was a sickly outdoor cat that had never made it through a successful pregnancy and was not a candidate for being spayed because she wouldn’t have survived the anesthesia.

So the day I heard a tiny “mew” outside my window I hardly expected the sight I beheld. Here was mama kitty utterly amazed that she had birthed a baby, walking off the edge of the porch with a tiny black something still attached by the umbilical cord.

She could have cared less.

I grabbed scissors and a towel and rescued the little darling without much hope of his surviving.

But he did.

That was seven hospitalizations, two surgeries and one giant heartache ago.

He has become my comfort companion, my purring pal, the one who knows before I do that my RA is flaring, my heart breaking.

I am thankful for this oasis of comfort in a desert of hurt.

I am thankful that the God Who made me also made animals to bring healing in the midst of heartache.  Oh, so thankful for a husband that puts up with my crazy “save everything that breathes” personality and doesn’t mind if a cat sneaks up the side of the bed in the middle of the night to get cozy in the covers..

When Dominic died, I remember sitting in my chair as the parade of sweet friends and family came over to cry with us.  Roosevelt sat with me the entire time.  His warm body reminded me that I was still here even when my limbs seemed to float away into the ether and my mind wasn’t entirely certain that what I saw or heard was real.

I have learned to count my blessings.

And while the majority of them walk on two legs, at least one has four.

 

 

 

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Who Can See the Wind?

I’m a stickler for accurate theology.

While that might make for interesting and lively debate with fellow believers, force of habit limits my imagination when it comes to what I believe with certainty about Heaven.

So on the other side of sending my child ahead of me to live with Jesus, I find I wish I were more free to make up scenes of what he might be doing there.  But I cannot, no matter how hard I try, create a movie-style narrative that includes him and the saints that have gone before.

And that leaves a gaping hole in addition to the unfillable abyss in my heart of where Dominic used to be.

I also do not believe my son sends me signs from heaven.  I wrote about that here a few months ago.  Although I do believe that God Himself can and does use the natural world to encourage my heart and give me hope.

And approaching the third anniversary of Dominic’s leaving, I need a little encouragement to hope.

So a few weeks ago I did something for myself that I probably should have done long before.  I bought six beautiful sets of windchimes-different lengths, different tones-and hung them all around my house under the porch eaves where even the slightest breeze sets them swaying.

They help me remember what Jesus told Nicodemus, “The wind blows all around us as if it has a will of its own; we feel and hear it, but we do not understand where it has come from or where it will end up. Life in the Spirit is as if it were the wind of God.” ( John 3:8 VOICE)

They help me remember that God drew Dominic to Himself by His Spirit when he was a little boy in ways I can’t see or fully understand.

They help me remember that God was present and working on the day He called him Home.

They help me remember that God is working right now to hold my heart steady and help me rest firmly on His promise that we will be together one day for eternity.

God has not abandoned me.

Every tinkling sings hope to my heart.

fatih sees the invisible sun and flowers

 

 

 

No Condemnation

I had no idea that the last time I spoke with Dominic would be the LAST time I spoke with him.

How could I?

He wasn’t hanging on to life by a thread, threatened with a deadly disease nor involved in risky behavior.  So I wasn’t weighing my words like I might have if the last time I saw him was in a hospital bed or after springing him from rehab.

No, it was just another casual evening “check in”, another random exchange that ended with, “See you tomorrow.  Love you.”

Except tomorrow never came for Dominic even though it surely came for mewith claws and fangs and growling horror.

For some bereaved parents the last words they exchanged with their missing child were awful.  They may have been angry or dismissive.  They may have been distracted and forgot to say, “I love you.”  

And even for us whose words were kind, there is this nagging sense that if we had only known (but how could we?) we would have said something profound, something that would be worth hanging onto if they were hanging onto anything in those last moments before breath left their bodies.

But  I honestly believe that our children-in the Presence of Jesus-are not reciting anything that happened before they reached their beautiful eternal Home.

ALL of my mistakes and sins were nailed to the cross.

gods-grace-through-christ_edited-1.png

That is why there is therefore NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I know it doesn’t take away the feelings of condemnation or guilt, but if Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient (and it IS) then my feelings are lying.  

My relationship with Dominic was filled with love, laughter, affirmation and acceptance.

He knew that then and he knows that now.

I have to remind my heart of the facts until it can hear and embrace them.   

And when it forgets, I remind it again.

hope-and-heart

 

 

New Eyes for an Old Story

I’ve studied it many times over a lifetime-beginning with fun “coat of many colors” crafts in preschool and ending with an emphasis on remaining faithful in trials.

Joseph’s story is typically told from his point of view.  

But I’ve never considered it from Jacob’s perspective.  Until now.

Because on Jacob’s side of the door, Joseph was gone, gone, gone-beyond reach, out of sight,  nowhere to be found.

All the while Joseph was very much alive, God was working and Joseph would (ultimately) flourish and Jacob would (ultimately) be reunited with his son.

There was no way for Jacob to know this so, of course, he was heartbroken:

Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.  Genesis 37:34-35

Jacob’s grief was real.  His loss was devastating.  His heart was shattered and there was no substitute for the son he was missing.

I understand that now.

I glossed over these verses in the past-rushing to the “happy ending” promised a few chapters later.

But Jacob didn’t have that option.

He was living these years-one day after another, one foot in front of another, one sunrise, one sunset-never knowing he was making his way toward reunion with a living son.

I share Jacob’s heartbreak.  

My son is out of reach, out of sight, unavailable to my arms and eyes.

But I have something Jacob didn’t have-I know the end of the story.  I have the Bible and it’s promise that this life is not all there is, that while this body dies, the soul lives on eternally.

And for those who choose Jesus, the soul lives for ever and ever with Him.  

Hallelujah!

While I too, mourn deeply for Dominic, there IS comfort.

I cannot ignore the pain of separation, but I will hold steadfast to the promise of reunion. I cry for what has been lost, but cry out for faith to cling to what will ever be.

This earthly journey is dark, but there is assurance that light will triumph.  

john-1-5