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

After

Last week’s headlines were full of heartache:  first the attack in Orlando and then the tragic tale of toddler and alligator.

So many parents and others bearing so much grief.

As is the way of things, this week the mentions will be fewer.  

And in a month or so, as the nation turns its collective attention to campaign coverage, these stories will move further and further to the background.

Most mentions will be in the context of larger “issues”-individuals largely forgotten.  .

But each person lost represents others who will mourn them for the rest of their lives.

Hearts of parents grieving their child will ALWAYS require special care:

Please, please, please don’t look for the moment or day or year when I will be “back to my old self”.  My old self was buried with my son.  I am still “me”–but a different me than I would have chosen.

Read the rest here:  Loving the Grieving Heart

Signs

 

When my kids went anywhere, I would always ask them to send a text just to let me know they had safely arrived at their destination.  They honored that request (most of the time!) and it eased my mind.

My mama heart wanted to know they were OK.

My living children still send me texts when traveling.  It’s an easy way to relieve anxious thoughts and I appreciate it.

But my son, who has made the last great journey, is silent.

And that’s exactly what I expected.

I think Dominic is so enthralled with the beauty of Heaven, with the communion of saints gone before and with the fullness of joy at the right hand of his Savior that he does not look with longing at the life he left.

He is in possession of the promise.  He knows fully, even as he is fully known.

At present we are men looking at puzzling reflections in a mirror. The time will come when we shall see reality whole and face to face! At present all I know is a little fraction of the truth, but the time will come when I shall know it as fully as God now knows me!

I Corinthians 13:12 PHILLIPS

He has the ultimate assurance that God is faithful and that His lovingkindness endures forever.  Dominic (if he even thinks of it at all) has no concern that the same Savior who rescued him won’t also rescue me.

“You must not let yourselves be distressed—you must hold on to your faith in God and to your faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s House. If there were not, should I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? It is true that I am going away to prepare a place for you, but it is just as true that I am coming again to welcome you into my own home, so that you may be where I am. You know where I am going and you know the road I am going to take.”

~Jesus ( John 14:1-4 PHILLIPS)

My faith has been tested in ways I never thought it would be.  And it has been, and continues to be, HARD. 

Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]

Hebrews 11:1 AM

The same God who made a donkey speak and sent ravens to feed Elijah can use the birds of the air and the beasts of the field to encourage me.

And He does- I have found a dozen perfect bird’s nests since Dominic left us.  I believe they are signs from my Savior, not my son-tokens of hope sent to bless my broken heart from the Father who loves me.

God still speaks-He makes Himself known through His Word, through people, through nature and in still, small whispers to my heart through His Spirit.

He doesn’t answer all my questions.  But I don’t feel abandoned.  

Dominic is with Jesus and Jesus is with me.

Jesus Christ is always the same, yesterday, today and for ever.

Hebrews 13:8 PHILLIPS

I don’t feel close to Dominic at his grave. I go to honor him, to give voice to his memory but the essence of who he was and who he still is, lies in my heart and in the hearts of those who loved him and love him still.

And the witness of that enduring love is the sign to which I cling. 

Faith is to believe when you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.

~Augustine

 

 

 

 

 

Broken Hearts, Beating Still

The events of this past week have thrown my body into a tailspin-like muscle memory acquired through repetitive action-I feel the terror of parents hearing the awful news that their child is gone.

It’s as if I am the one hearing the knock on the door.

As if I am the one absorbing the terrible blow.  

And I know what they don’t yet understand-there is no wonder drug or magic pill that can erase the pain.

There is no miraculous cure for a broken heart.  

I wrote this months ago, but this week has made it fresh again: 

When Dominic was born by c-section, they placed the epidural too high and I was unable to feel my chest rise and fall even though I continued to breathe.

It was a frightening experience. I WANTED to keep breathing-because I wanted to touch this new life coming into the world and into our family.

But when the deputy brought the news that Dominic had been killed, it felt like I stopped breathing and my heart stopped beating-and I would have welcomed both.

I wanted to escape the pain that filled my heart, my soul, my bones.

I think most bereaved mothers will tell you they have absolutely NO IDEA how their bodies continue to live and carry this heavy burden.

I do it for those still here and, having felt the pain of being left behind, my mama heart wants to spare the ones I love as long as I can.

But rest assured, it is a daily struggle to decide to go on.

heart_640

“Broken Hearts Still Beat”

BIRTH

I’m not breathing.
They assure me that I am.
My heartbeat thumps the truth for all to hear.
A welcome wail ushers his life into the spotlight of this wide world.

DEATH
I’m not breathing.
They assure me that I am.
My lungs draw air against my will and my better judgment.
An anguished cry marks the end of his earthly life.
I am breathing.
My body refusing to keep pace with my broken heart.

melanie desimone, november 7, 2014

My Cup Overflows

“You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5b

I remember standing in our field with my husband at sundown one day, thankfulness and grace and mercy and wonder flooding my heart-and I whispered, “surely my cup overflows!”

Surely, God’s hand is in this, is on our lives-He has brought us to this place of blessing.

And that’s how I used to always think of that verse-the cup overflowing with goodness and blessing.

But what about when the cup overflows with sorrow?  

With pain?

With tragedy, trials and temptations?

jesus in the garden

Jesus knew about that cup.  That’s the cup He begged the Father to take from Him.

The cup that was bitter and hard to swallow.

He prayed three times, He sweat blood and He battled His flesh so that His spirit could conform to the Father’s will.

And in the end, He submitted Himself to the Father’s plan.

He was obedient, even to death, even to death that He did not deserve, did not HAVE to suffer, did not WANT to suffer.

I have buried a son.

And it is the most painful thing I have ever had to bear.

It’s a burden I never anticipated and it’s a burden of which I will not be free until I join him in Heaven.

There are some parents who have suffered the loss of multiple children. Or who have suffered child loss and other difficult life circumstances.

If my cup is full and overflowing, theirs is overflowing still more.

Where to take that full cup?

Where to find the strength to carry it, to drink it to the dregs?

When my heart screams, “No more!” and my body cries, “I can’t do this!”, I look to my Savior for the model of how to carry on.

Only in Christ, Who Himself bore the cup and Who drank its bitter fullness can I hope for strength and redemption.

The One Who knows my pain can carry my pain.

The One Who lives again will breathe life into my heart.  

The One Who redeems what the enemy has stolen will turn my mourning to dancing.  

cup of blessing

This cup will not always overflow with sorrow.  Around the banquet table at the wedding supper of the Lamb, it will once again be full of joy.

You make me know the path of life; in your presence is unbounded joy, in your right hand eternal delight.

Psalm 16:11 CJB

 

 

Stronger?

These past days have been harder than some.  

Many, unrelated events conspired to draw my heart’s attention more pointedly to Dominic’s absence.  The hot mid-day sun keeps me inside when I’m usually outside and working hard-which keeps my hands and mind busy.

Summer used to be the time when more flexible schedules opened wide the possiblity for barbecues and lazy evenings watching fireflies and chatting in the dark.  

Now it’s just one more season where nothing will ever be the same.

So I was reminded again that though I am stonger, I still carry a heavy load.

Read more here: Stronger

June Challenge: 12 Promises I’m Thankful For

Day Twelve of Kathleen Duncan’s  June 1-30 challenge.

The prompt: 12 things you are grateful for

Like Kathleen, the 12th of each month marks the anniversary of the accident that took my son’s life.  And like many bereaved parents, the date is etched in memory and re-etched every time it rolls around.

I love the idea of reclaiming the ground which the enemy has stolen by resolving to remind my heart of the promises of God that uphold me in the midst of my sorrow.

I am grateful for promises contained in His Word.  They are manna, bread from heaven as I walk the wilderness of grief.

Here are 12 I savor:

1. One day there will be no more tears because God will restore and redeem every hurtful thing:

rev 21_4

2. A single day in the presence of my Savior is better than a thousand years here on earth:

Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.

Lord Almighty,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you.

Psalm 84:10-12 NIV

3. I can trust God to finish what He started-in me AND in Dominic:

began a good work

4. The Lord is good and He is my stronghold, even in this trouble:

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust Him.

Nahum 1:7

5. The Lord will restore the years the locust has eaten-He will give back what the enemy has stolen:

I will restore to you the years which the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.

Joel 2:25

6. God will carry me, even to my old age-as long as it takes-until I am in His presence and with my son:

carry you old age

7. My Shepherd is with me in the Valley of the Shadow of Death:

 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4 KJV

8. This trial will refine my faith and it will shine as pure gold on the day Jesus is revealed:

Their purpose is to prove that your faith is genuine. Even gold, which can be destroyed, is tested by fire; and so your faith, which is much more precious than gold, must also be tested, so that it may endure. Then you will receive praise and glory and honor on the Day when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 1:7 GNT

9. Death is defeated because Christ is risen:Romans6-8-9

10. I am struck down, but not destroyed or abandoned:

We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

11. Even as I walk through the Valley of Weeping, God turns my tears to springs of life:

valley of baca

12. God will turn my mourning into dancing.  He will fill my mouth with songs of gladness:

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing. You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness. That my soul may sing praise and not be silent. O Lord my God I will give thanks to You forever.

Psalm 30:11-12

 

greener pastures

 

 

Changed

Advertising works on a simple principle:  exposure.

The more exposure a person has to the product, the more likely that person will want to buy it.

My eyes lead my heart.

I go where my gaze rests.

What I stare at changes me.  

In the first moments, days, weeks after Dominic’s accident, it was very hard to lift my eyes from the reality of pain and sorrow that began like a hard kernel in my heart and grew to a mushroom cloud of destruction that took over my whole body.

But even then, God broke through to remind me all was not dark, all was not lost, and, in the end, all would be well.

See that I am God. See that I am in everything. See that I do everything. See that I have never stopped ordering my works, nor ever shall, eternally. See that I lead everything on to the conclusion I ordained for it before time began, by the same power, wisdom and love with which I made it. How can anything be amiss?

Julian of Norwich

As the cloud began to lift, I was able, by degrees, to choose where to turn my eyes.  I could read and write and focus on truth, or I could fill my gaze with deception, darkness and lies.

aslan

I am going to stare at SOMETHING-I have to decide what or Who will fill the horizon of my days.

In my sorrow, I can stare down the black hole of death or I can lift my eyes to the Hope of Heaven.

I can linger long at the grave or I can point my face to the sky and look for His return.

 

My gaze can rest on the emptiness of today or it can rest secure in the promise of tomorrow.

I can sit at the feet of Jesus and let His Presence fill my eyes and guide my heart or I can turn away and let despair overtake my soul.

I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet.

Psalm 27:4 MSG

When Moses came from God’s Presence, he glowed.

His face was transformed because he beheld the glory of the Lord.

He was sustained in the dry season of leading the Israelites through the wilderness by the abundant life he received in communion with God.

This season of grief is hard.  

It is DRY, and if I focus on the sorrow, it will suck the life right out of me.

I feel the sorrow.  I feel the pain.  There is no escaping reality.

But I can fix my eyes on the truth that this world is not all there is.  

I can focus my gaze on the finished work of Christ and the promise of reunion made possible by His blood.

Wearing Michael Jordan’s shoes won’t make me a basketball star.

But spending time in the Presence of Jesus will make me more like Him.

As I expose myself repeatedly to His grace, mercy and  beauty , I am transformed.

Our faces, then, are not covered. We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him. This change in us brings more and more glory. And it comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18 ICB