Advent for the Brokenhearted: By the Holy Spirit

The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.

While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term:

Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;
They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).

 

Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25 MSG

I’m not the first person on the planet God has asked to walk into the future without understanding exactly what the plan is. 

When Joseph found out his bride-to-be was pregnant, of course he suspected that she had cheated on him.  That’s how babies are made, isn’t it???

Yet he was noble and kind and hesitated to expose her to public ridicule, or worse (the Old Testament penalty was death) so he waited a bit, deciding what to do.

As he waited, God spoke to Joseph’s heart, assuring him that this was no natural conception and that Mary had done nothing wrong.

God also gave Joseph a commission:  to raise His son as his own.  

Joseph received this word and did as God commanded.   

Now God hasn’t spoken to me in a dream, or in clouds across the sky or from the mouth of a donkey or any other supernatural phenomena.

BUT He has spoken to me by His written Word.  

It is plain to anyone with eyes to see that at the present time all created life groans in a sort of universal travail. And it is plain, too, that we who have a foretaste of the Spirit are in a state of painful tension, while we wait for that redemption of our bodies which will mean that at last we have realised our full sonship in him. We were saved by this hope, but in our moments of impatience let us remember that hope always means waiting for something that we haven’t yet got. But if we hope for something we cannot see, then we must settle down to wait for it in patience.

Romans 8:24-27 PHILLIPS

It’s hard when life seems to be going terribly, terribly wrong to trust.  

It’s understandable to look at what I can see and assume that is all there is. 

But I don’t want to do that. 

I can choose, like Joseph, to embrace the command to wait, to be patient, to step confidently in the direction of tomorrow because He is already there.

I want to stretch my faith-receiving God’s promises, holding onto them, and walking boldly into the future trusting they will be fulfilled.  

he is faithful who has promised

 

 

The Reality of Ongoing Grief in Child Loss

 

One of the most difficult things to explain to anyone who has not buried a child is this:  I didn’t just lose Dominic ONCE, I continue to lose him.

dom looking up with camera

I lose him every single time there is a moment when he SHOULD be here but isn’t.

I lose him when his friends graduate, get married and have children.

I lose him again on Christmas morning when HIS face isn’t around the breakfast table and HIS name isn’t on the presents around the tree.

I lose him when I need to call and ask a question about my computer or need his opinion when trying to make a decision.

I lose him when everyone else is making their way home for the holidays or a birthday or just a visit-his car never rolls up the lane, his smiling face never emerges, his arms never reach out to wrap me in a bear hug.

I lose him when his siblings line up for photos-the space where he SHOULD be but ISN’T looms large.

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I will never know the joy of standing at his wedding.

I will never be able to congratulate him on his first court victory.

I will never see his children

I won’t have his companionship in my old age.

He is gone-out of reach.

Untouchable.

Lost.

 

i will always wonder what you would have been

Repost: Dealing With Anxious Thoughts

As a follow up to the repost a couple days ago:  Why is Anxiety Part of Child Loss?, I wanted to share this entry.

Here are some practical ways to deal with anxious thoughts, take them captive or redirect my focus so that they don’t rule my heart.

Please feel free to add any helpful tips in the comments section below.  We learn best from those that share our journey.  You may have the very words that will encourage another parent’s broken heart!

I no longer have to imagine the worst thing that could happen in the life of a mother-I know exactly how it feels. 

And if I allow my heart to ponder that too often or too long, it consumes me.

So I am learning to take those anxious thoughts captive, learning to make them live in only a small corner of my mind instead of taking it over completely.

It takes effort and discipline, but it’s possible.  

I don’t have to live the rest of my days a quivering mess-

Read the rest here:  Dealing With Anxious Thoughts

Unafraid

I’ve never been really big on fear.

I jumped from the high dive at three years old-that belly flop hurt but I survived and it fueled my adventurous spirit.

I rode horses other people didn’t like-was bucked off a time or two but no broken bones so that didn’t slow me down.

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My dad had an open cockpit biplane and we flew aerobatics over Colorado Springs-fanny pack parachute strapped to my butt “just in case”-upside down and round and round. We never needed to jump and landed safely every time.

great lakes biplane

Never been afraid of speaking in public.

Never been afraid of strangers.

Never been afraid of heights.

UNTIL.

Until I had children and then I was afraid of nearly EVERYTHING for them.

I didn’t want any harm to befall these tiny humans carrying my heart outside my body.  I wanted to protect them, to cushion them, to wrap them in a bubble so that nothing bad ever happened to them.

As they grew, I learned to let go- a little at a time.  I learned you can’t prevent the scrapes and bruises and heartaches and disappointments of life.  And I learned that a little “harm” made them stronger.

IMG_1977

I forgot most of my fears and was again unafraid.

UNTIL Dominic was killed.

And all the old fears came rushing back.  I wanted to lock my surviving children in a room and slip food under the door.  I HAD to keep them safe.

Only I can’t.  It is not possible for me to keep. them. safe.

All I could possibly do is make them afraid.  I could make them afraid of choosing their hearts’ desires in an attempt to prevent more pain for mine.

I won’t do that.

I will not allow part of Dominic’s legacy to be that our family lives afraid.

NO.

I choose to release my children to make the best choices they can and to live boldly and unafraid.

 

Tomorrow, Tomorrow

It took me nearly two years to hang a wall calendar again.  It took that long, plus some, to add anything to it besides close family birthdays and doctor’s appointments.

I would record what I did AFTER the fact, but I just couldn’t let my heart make plans.

Because I had made planslots and lots of plans-before Dominic ran ahead to heaven unexpectedly and wrecked them all.

There’s another reason looking forward is hard on my heart:

No matter how wonderful the event, no matter how anticipated the birth, or wedding, or graduation, or party-there will always, always, always be one person missing.

I still find making plans difficult.  

I don’t make many and the ones I do make I hold lightly.  I warn friends that I may get up the “morning of” and decide that I just cannot do it.  The closest ones (the only ones I really have left) totally understand and never pressure me otherwise.

But as I have rounded the corner of three years, I am beginning to be able to look a little bit further in the distance.  

I am able to pencil in some fun things more than a week in advance.  I’ve even started looking up ideas on Pinterest again-ideas for birthday gifts months in advance, for dinner table decorations and for craft projects to occupy the hottest parts of summer days.

And I’m learning to take Dominic WITH me as I walk into tomorrow after tomorrow without his physical presence.  I’m finding ways to keep him close, to have him near, to share him with others so that the vibrant man he was (and still IS-in heaven) is remembered and honored.

The fact is that tomorrow comes whether I am dragged kicking and screaming into the new day or whether I go willingly, with purpose and with grace.

I am trying to choose purpose and grace.

Sometimes it’s really, really hard.

But when I do-it’s worth it.

sometimes helps me wake up brene brown

 

True That

In a family full of  young adults on the brink of life, of love, of making dreams come true, you never expect to hear these words, “It is what it is.”

But in a home where loss has taken its toll, I do.

Oh, how I long to restore the unmarred joy we used to know-when everything was possible, positive attitudes could overcome any challenge and the horizon beckoned with welcome instead of warning.

Our watchword used to be “Failure is not an option”.

failure-is-not-an-option

I even had a cute little magnet on the fridge that proclaimed, “Another day, another disaster”.

That was BEFORE.

Before the dawning sun brought real disaster to our doorstep.  Before the thing we had to face could not be overcome by more elbow grease, greater resolve or stronger faith.

Before death became very, very real to us.

We are not struck down in despair.  

We are not fatalists.  

But we do acknowledge the fact that this life is filled with things we cannot change.  We understand by experience that some things must simply be endured.  We embrace the truth that we depend on the mercy of God in every way.

So now we live this motto:  It is what it is.

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And we take one another’s hand and walk on, through whatever it is.  We call courage to our hearts that no matter what happens, we will survive together.  

We keep loving and living and leaning.

Because that’s what we do.

My Choices Reflect My Focus

My daughter is a quote collector like her mama.  

Here’s the one she has taped to her dashboard:  

choices-reflect-rainbow

That is challenging for me.

When the one thing happens you think will never happen, well, that opens a whole chest full of fears you thought you’d locked inside.

But when I wake up I get to choose:  will I give in or fight back?

I’m learning that while I can’t stop the thoughts that fly around in my brain I can choose which ones I invite to make a nest there.

When fear threatens to undo me, I resist.  

I refuse to react to what MAY happen.  I choose to hold onto what IS happening, right now.

Truth is, either way, I have no control over the future.

I will not lose today because of what tomorrow might bring.

corrie-ten-boom-empties-today-of-strength