Repost: Not Giving Up-A Victory Worth Cheering

It’s hard to watch since winning a medal is off the table.  They lost their place in front when they took that awful tumble.

But we cheer them on-the limping athletes that manage to cross the finish line.

And we should.

Read the rest here:  Not Giving Up-A Victory Worth Cheering

Bluebirds and Hard Work

So, what keeps my heart tied to this weary world when what it really wants is to go Home and be free of pain and sorrow?  What anchors me to the sod when my soul longs to float away?  What compels me to stay?

Last week it was bluebirds and hard work.

Washing up dishes from a morning cooking frenzy, I raised my eyes to look out the window and there-looking down the chimney of our smoker-was a bluebird.

bluebird

Unconcerned with me he rested for some minutes where I could drink in the vibrant hue of his feathers. There’s just nothing like that blue anywhere but on the back of those beautiful birds-no matter how long I look at one, I always feel it’s not long enough.  Then off he flew to join another on a branch.

It was a gift.

And I tucked it in my heart to pull out later when I needed a reminder that there is still beauty and life in a world that also includes pain and death.

About an hour later I joined my youngest son at his house just a few miles from the farm. It’s an older home on main street in our little town and needs some work before he moves in.

It was carpet day.

So for the next few hours we worked together and by the end of the day we had done it! Carpet laid.  No major mistakes.

carpet-installers

Success was sweet!

I was really just a go-fer and cheerleader but it felt oh, so good to have something work out just as planned.

It felt absolutely victorious!

We sat in the finished room and drank it in.

Someone else may have just moved on to the next task in the long list of tasks needed to finish the house.  But when life has gone terribly wrong, you learn to relish those moments when it goes right.

THIS is what I hold on to.

These slices of beauty and victory are treasures I tuck inside.

collect beautiful moments

 

Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice

Our family watched the movie “Sully” the other night.

I cried when they showed the real people whose lives were spared hugging and thanking Captain Sully for his choice to do what was necessary to save them.

Because I know that each life saved also saved lives of otherssaved them from the awful burden of grief and sorrow that would have become their daily experience.

I’ve written here a great deal about the need for friends and family and the church community to “mourn with those who mourn”.

The ones who have no choice to but to walk this Valley of the Shadow of Death need faithful, compassionate companions.

My heart has been forcibly expanded by sorrow until it literally breaks again when I hear of another family that must bear this burden.

But tonight I realized that this deep grief I carry has created an equally strong and proportional reaction to the great joy others experience when lives are saved.

Because I know, know, know exactly what it feels like when the outcome is disastrous, I can feel a joy that those who merely escape it will never know.

I know by terrible experience what they are spared.

Not only what they get to keep-

but also what they will never be forced to understand.

They rejoice because they imagine what might have happened.  I rejoice because I know what it feels like when it does happen.

When death is thwarted my heart dances.

I sing the song of victory over the forces of darkness.

 

Remember when the Eternal brought back the exiles to Zion?
    It was as if we were dreaming—
 Our mouths were filled with laughter;
    our tongues were spilling over into song.
The word went out across the prairies and deserts,
    across the hills, over the oceans wide, from nation to nation:
“The Eternal has done remarkable things for them.”
 We shook our heads. All of us were stunned—the Eternal has done remarkable things for us.
    We were beyond happy, beyond joyful.

Psalm 126:1-3 VOICE

 

Celebrating the Small Victories

This journey is a marathon, not a sprint.

marathon

If I keep my eyes focused on the miles I’ve yet to trod, I can be discouraged and tempted to give up.

But if I think about the miles I’ve covered and the progress toward healing that has occurred, I can gain strength to keep on going.

It’s hard.

That’s not going to change.

I have mountains yet to climb.  I won’t always be victorious-I’ll suffer setbacks.

But today, I’m celebrating several small victories:

I spent two hours laughing hysterically with a friend over lunch.

We were so loud and having so much fun that the wait staff was undoubtedly convinced we had enjoyed a liquid lunch although we didn’t drink anything stronger than water.  And it felt GOOD.

friends-laughing

I am teaching again.

Since I was a little girl lining my dolls up for pretend school, my heart has been inclined toward teaching.  Through the years I’ve taught Sunday School, seminars, parenting classes, speech classes and my own children from kindergarten through high school.  But it’s been awhile-a long while since I’ve had the energy to be the focus of a room full of people.  It’s just a small class on Sunday nights, but it’s a start.

I cut my hair.

Now, you are wondering how is that a victory?  But in the throes of despair after Dominic left us, I vowed that I would never cut it.  Because (this is the biology nerd in me) my hair contained the only cells in my body that would not be shed and renewed.  I wanted this physical part of me that existed when he was still here as a reminder of just how long it had been since I hugged him or heard his voice.  But the other day I knew it was time.  So before I could lose my nerve I did it.  And I’m glad.  He would definitely approve!

I baked shortbread for my mother’s birthday.

shortbread

Family celebrations are still very hard. When we are together, the hole where Dominic should be is that much more apparent. And shortbread was one of the only things that could tempt my fitness fanatic son to break training and indulge his sweet tooth.  So I haven’t made it since before he left us.  But it’s Mama’s favorite too.  And I’m learning to experience these memories wrapped up in doing things we did BEFORE as a blessing instead of only as a painful reminder that Dominic is gone.

You may be very fresh in your grief.  You may despair of ever making headway toward healing.  You may FEEL like you will ALWAYS be held under the tidal wave of sorrow.

It does seem that way for a very long time-longer for some people than others and definitely longer than we would hope.  

But please be encouraged!

Your victories will look different than mine, but they will come. If you face the pain and do the work grief requires, you can begin to heal.

No, you will never be the same.

I’m not.

I don’t want to be.

Burying a child has taught me many things for which I am grateful and the pain I carry is a testimony to the love I have for my son.

But I am learning to live again.

One small victory at at time.

hallelujah1

Where is Victory in Death?

I first learned my son had been killed in the dark hours of morning.

I made phone calls.

I had to be certain there was no mistake in identifying the accident victim.  I assured the officer on the other end of the phone I was not in denial, I was just confirming what I knew was true.

That was a lie-my ears heard it as true.

Some part of my brain was acting as if it were true.  

And I was passing the information along as true, but it was not until I saw his body that my heart embraced as absolutely undeniable what I had been told.

He was gone, gone, gone.  No coming back.

That’s when I knew:  Death is awful.

It is hard to have patience with people who say, ‘There is no death’ or ‘Death doesn’t matter.’ There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn’t matter. ~C.S.Lewis

Death was not part of God’s perfect plan for the people He made and the world He created.

But sin marred that perfection and we are left to walk this wounded world in bodies that, at best, wear out, and at worst, plunge headlong into darkness due to illness, accident or violence.

Where is the victory in this defeat?

Where is the happy ending to this sad chapter of life?

Victory is declared when I trust in Jehovah-Nissi-the LORD my Banner-to uproot the evil that the enemy seeks to sow into my life.

desimones uab family

Victory is displayed in my surviving children who have chosen to lean in and labor on and love and laugh even while grieving the loss of their brother.

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Victory is demonstrated when my marriage does not crumble under the heavy weight of sorrow, when my family is made stronger- not weaker-and when our story breathes courage into the hearts and lives of others facing devastating trials.

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The ultimate and eternal victory lies in the finished work of Christ.

 I need to emphasize, friends, that our natural, earthy lives don’t in themselves lead us by their very nature into the kingdom of God. Their very “nature” is to die, so how could they “naturally” end up in the Life kingdom?

But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:

Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?

It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!

With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.

I Corinthians 15:50-58 MSG

Jesus has redeemed and restored what the enemy has stolen.

I will not enjoy the fullness of this victory until I embrace Dominic in heaven.

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But I can live confidently in the promise that it has already been decided.  

I can walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death without fear, because Jehovah-Nissi-the LORD my Banner (my Victory) is with me.  (Psalm 23:4)

I am not alone. 

 

New Year’s Resolutions

The funny thing about New Year’s resolutions is that they are pretty much the same, year after year.  We all have particular struggles and the turning of the calendar seems like the perfect moment to commit to action to try to overcome them.

But most of us fail miserably and find ourselves back at precisely the point from which we started, regardless of our best efforts to change.

Truth is, we are terrible at remaking ourselves.  Habits wear ruts in our thinking and in our behavior.  It requires more strength than most of us possess to climb out and start fresh.

But God has promised that those who trust Jesus will be “made new”–they will be changed dramatically, like a caterpillar to a butterfly.  From the inside out and no turning back.

“Therefore, if anyone is in the Messiah, he is a new creation. Old things have disappeared, and—look!—all things have become new!”

I Corinthians 5:17 ISV

In the five years before Dominic died, I had slowed my Bible reading to a crawl–limiting myself to one chapter a day and writing it out in my journal.  After decades of church attendance, I realized that the stories had become too easy to rush through, the verses too familiar to resonate deeply in my spirit. I had just finished my journey through God’s Word in this way when my son was killed.

No one is prepared to bury their child, but God did lead me in the years before Dominic’s death to commit to reading Scripture in a slower, more deliberate way.

Having those Bible verses in my heart and in my head gave me a safe place to land when I received the awful blow.

So may I suggest that this New Year’s, choose the one resolution that can truly transform–if you don’t know Jesus, ask someone who does to introduce you to HIm.

If you are a Christ follower, commit to reading His Word. Store it in your soul. Write it on the tablet of your heart.  You never know what a new year will bring…

And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy—the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you.

Romans 12:1-2 TLB

 

Waiting On Someday

It’s been said that children are a mother’s heart walking around outside her body–mine certainly are.

And now part of my heart is in heaven.  That makes the promises of God so much more personal.

So I hunt for, cling to and chew on every word like it really is the bread of life–because while I walk the valley of the shadow of death this is the food that sustains me.  

Today  my heart is broken, but someday it will be whole again.

Today I walk in shadow, but someday I will walk in bright light:

“No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the LORD your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.” Isaiah 60:19 NLT

Today all creation groans under the curse of sin and death, but someday everything will be restored, renewed and redeemed. 

On this mountain [Zion] the Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples [to welcome His reign on earth],
A banquet of aged wines—choice pieces [flavored] with marrow,
Of refined, aged wines.

And on this mountain He will destroy the covering that is [cast] over all peoples,
And the veil [of death] that is woven and spread over all the nations.

He will swallow up death [and abolish it] for all time.
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
And He will take away the disgrace of His people from all the earth;
For the Lord has spoken.

It will be said in that day,
“Indeed, this is our God for whom we have waited that He would save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
Let us shout for joy and rejoice in His salvation.”
Isaiah 25:6-9 AMP