Messy Lives, Merciful Savior

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.

I want the scales to balance, I want the last chapter to wrap up all the loose ends and expose all the secrets.  I want to know what happened and why-oh, to know WHY!

But that’s not how it is.  I live a messy life with untidy edges.

So do most people.

The Bible doesn’t gloss over the hard places of life.  God’s Word doesn’t hide the faults of God’s heroes. His Spirit directed the men who penned the holy pages to tell it all-the good, the bad AND the ugly.

I think sometimes in our desire to demonstrate the power of Christ in our lives we want to tie things up into a perfect package.

I know I do-I want desperately to be able to say that I can see the good in Dominic’s death. I long to be able to point to a finished monument of redeemed pain and restored joy.

But I’m compelled to tell it like it is.

And it is just plain HARD.

But God uses the broken things of this life to display His glory.

Because then there is NO DOUBT as to the Source of strength.  He leaves no room for boasting.

He declares His power and faithful love by taking those of us who are weak and stumbling and leading us home, redeemed and victorious.

For look at your own calling as Christians, my brothers. You don’t see among you many of the wise (according to this world’s judgment) nor many of the ruling class, nor many from the noblest families. But God has chosen what the world calls foolish to shame the wise; he has chosen what the world calls weak to shame the strong. He has chosen things of little strength and small repute, yes and even things which have no real existence to explode the pretensions of the things that are—that no man may boast in the presence of God. Yet from this same God you have received your standing in Jesus Christ, and he has become for us the true wisdom, a matter, in practice, of being made righteous and holy, in fact, of being redeemed. And this makes us see the truth of scripture: ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.

I Corinthians 1:26-31 PHILLIPS



More Time

The other day I needed to get something in the room where we have Dominic’s things stored-not the boxed-up-not-dealing-with-them-now things-but the personal things that bear his scent, his mark, his personality.

And the warm spring air had concentrated the odor that is him just behind the doorway.  It caught me by surprise-that I could still smell him, still feel his presence, still be so certain that he had just passed by this very spot.

My mama heart cried, “More time!”

Just one more minute,

one more hug,

one more “I love you”,

one more breath.

But it would never be enough.  One more would only feed my longing for the next minute.

There is no earthly cure for this heart sickness.  No words to make it better.  No medicine strong enough to numb the pain of missing him.

So I wait.

I wait for my heart to heal enough so that I can focus on something other than healing.

I wait for passion to return to my soul.

I wait for a day-just one day-when joyful moments outweigh sorrowful ones.

I wait for the promised beauty from ashes.

I wait for faith to be made sight.

And while I wait, I turn my heart and mind and strength toward the One Who is Faithful and True.

Nothing that has cursed mankind shall exist any longer; the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be within the city. His servants shall worship him; they shall see his face, and his name will be upon their foreheads. Night shall be no more; they have no more need for either lamplight or sunlight, for the Lord God will shed his light upon them and they shall reign as kings for timeless ages.

Then the angel said to me, “These words are true and to be trusted, for the Lord God, who inspired the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must shortly happen.”

“See, I come quickly! Happy is the man who pays heed to the words of the prophecy in this book.”

Revelation 22:3-7 PHILLLIPS



Still Wrestling

If you’re looking on from the outside you might well think that I’ve laid most of my questions to rest; that I’m no longer wrestling with trying to comprehend both the sovereignty of God and the goodness of God;  and that I’ve figured out how to reconcile verses that seem to promise protection for those that love the Lord and the reality of death and destruction of some of the very same people.

But you would be wrong.

I do experience the peace that passes all understanding.  I do rely on Jesus to be the Arbiter of Truth and the Umpire of my questions:

Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always].

Colossians 3:15 AMP

.I am trusting fully in the ultimate redemption of my pain.

Yet there are moments when I am overwhelmed by the “whys”. Thankfully they don’t come as often as they used to.

Still, I refuse to pretend that I have it all figured out.  Five months later I continue to identify with what I wrote here:  Wrestling With God


Slow Fade

It would be easier, in a way, if it happened all at once.

If the vivid memories of his voice, his laugh, his body language, his sense of humor just disappeared-POOF!-now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t. Then I could make a single adjustment.

But that’s not how it is.  Instead, the living proof of his existence recedes like a wave from the shoreline, only there’s no returning surge to remind me of the force that was Dominic.

Each new day marks one more rotation of the earth, one more sunrise and sunset that places me further from the last time I saw him, the last time I heard his voice, the last time I hugged his neck.

And there is no cure for time marching on.  There is no “pause” button that I can push to let me catch my breath and allow my heart to comprehend the reality my body and mind must embrace.

Small mementos that are insignificant to those around me crumble to dust between my fingers.  Eventually I’m forced to sweep them up and put them away forever.

His friends find jobs, get married, have children-wonderful life events, things I celebrate with them-but they also remind me that he will never do those things.  I will never hold his child, relieved the labor is over, thrilled to see his eyes or nose in a tiny face looking back at me.

The subtle and constant change keeps me off-balance.  As soon as I think I have found my footing on this new plateau of loss, the earth moves beneath me and I’m stumbling once again.  

I came across this quote not long after Dominic left us.  When I first read it, I didn’t really understand.

But now I do.

“When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time—the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes—when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever—there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.”

John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany



Nothing Left Unsaid

I happened to be traveling recently and saw that Anderson Cooper, son of Gloria Vanderbilt, has filmed a documentary about his mother titled Nothing Left Unsaid.  I don’t know much about him or the film, but the title immediately struck a chord in my heart.

I am learning so much through grieving my son.

I am learning by hard experience that we may not have tomorrow.  

And I am learning that what weighs most heavily on my heart is not the things I said or did but the things I didn’t say or didn’t do.  The brick wall of regret is built of things unsaid and undone.  

love the ones god gave you

So I try to be more faithful and timely in telling people, “thank you”.  I strive to demonstrate my love and gratitude in ways that others find meaningful and helpful. I refuse to be embarrassed or shushed into silence when strong emotion wells in my throat begging to be released.

Not everyone is woken from the stupor of assuming there will be a tomorrow as violently or suddenly as I was-but everyone will have a moment when they realize the opportunity to express love to a particular person has been snatched away.  

  • What grudges are you holding?
  • What anger or bitterness keeps you from reaching out?
  • What fear binds you to your chair, preventing you from making that call or visit?
  • What words of blessing do you need to speak over the bowed head of someone you love?

When I leave this earth, I want to leave knowing that I have said it all– nothing left unsaid.




A Different Me

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.

I don’t have the luxury of emotional distance when I read the newspaper anymore.

I can’t watch the text scroll by on CNN or FoxNews and allow my eyes and heart to glaze over as numbers representing lives flash by.

Burying my son has tenderized me.

My mind drifts effortlessly and immediately to the ones left behind any time there is mention of a murder or a suicide or an accident.

And my spirit rejoices  when a heroic rescue uncovers someone buried in the rubble or a passerby stops to help a person who otherwise faced certain doom.  Second chances make me cry happy tears.

I have higher tolerance for the failures of others and lower tolerance for hatefulness and unkindness.

Maybe I’m just tired, but I find it easier to extend grace than to fuel anger.

I don’t care what latest or greatest movie, TV show, fashion fad or IPhone App has just been released-ads for a better, bigger, newer anything don’t entice me.

Don’t try to draw me into drama or worry or hand-wringing over politics or social media or foolish disputes.  There is no part of my heart with room for that.

I will exhaust myself loving others but not on loving things.

I’m a pilgrim and a stranger on this earth. I’m walking a path in a foreign land, looking forward to my heavenly home.  

By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God.

Hebrews 11:8-10 MSG





Learning to Grieve With Hope

One of the things I am learning in this journey of child loss is that while I can work hard to frame my experience through the Truth of Scripture, I cannot deny my feelings.

I cling to and copy down and recite Bible verses on a daily basis.  I feed my heart and soul and spirit with heavenly manna and trust that it will sustain me.

But if I ignore or distract myself from acknowledging the feelings raging within me, I am only delaying an inevitable confrontation-they will not be put aside forever.

Paul didn’t say, “don’t grieve”.  He said, “grieve with hope”.

Hope gives me something to hold onto. Hope gives me courage to keep going.  Hope grants me vision so I can look forward to a time when pain will end.

But it does not end the pain.  It does not remove the ache of longing.  It does not erase the sorrow.

Read more:  Grieving With Hope