The Healing Power of Fellowship

I spent last weekend with eleven other bereaved moms.

And lest you think, “How sad!”, let me just tell you we had a beautiful time together.

Sure there were tears-how can there not be when talking about the precious children we miss-but there was fun too.

Of course we had somber moments. 

Especially as we lit candles in honor of each child whose light lives on even as their physical presence is denied us.

anchor retreat lit candle

In between Bible study sessions we ate, talked, walked outside and got to know one another.

A game of “Two Truths and a Lie” revealed all kinds of surprises that had us practically falling off our chairs with uproarious laughter.

Even though most of us had never met before, knowing we shared the heartache of child loss drew us together and opened the door to meaningful conversation.

anchor retreat hope

For 72 hours we didn’t have to put our masks on or walk with one foot in the world of the spared and one foot in the world of the deeply wounded. 

We were free-gloriously free-to be real and unguarded.

One of the fun things we did was have a Mary Kay consultant come and do facials and makeup.  I think we kind of shocked her when she went around the circle asking, “So what are you primary make up concerns?” and over half of us said, “I don’t wear make up.”

Poor woman.

anchor retreat mary kay lady (2)

She had no idea that we had long passed the point of faking feelings or saying what someone expects just because they expect it.

I know it was a stretch for some of the moms to make their way to this place they’d never been to and walk into a room full of women they’d never met.

It was a stretch for me to facilitate discussions when I felt I had reached my limit for anything besides staying home for the rest of this year.

But it was worth it.

There is nothing as beautiful as broken hearts gathering together to love, uplift, encourage and listen to one another.

If you have the opportunity and are afraid, please step out. 

Take a chance and link arms with fellow grievers.

I promise you will be glad you did.

circle-of-women

 

Life Is Hard: Speak Courage To Struggling Hearts

We all know those folks-the ones who have a kind word, quick smile and warm hug for everyone they meet.

And we all know the other type-the ones that suck the oxygen out of the room when they walk in and effectively dim any spark of hope a heart might be trying to fan into flame.

I want to be the former, not the latter.  

I want to be a light bearer, not a candle snuffer.  

In fact,  this has become my anthem since Dominic left for Heaven. I cannot bear to think I’m heaping weight onto an already burdened soul.

A smile, a kind word, an outstretched hand may be exactly what a hurting heart needs that minute to keep holding onto hope.

And how many of us are just about to let go at any given minute?

So much of the New Testament is about perseverance. Who needs to persevere if life is full of rainbows and unicorns?

No.

Perseverance is needed for trial and hardship.   

My guess is that if you’re reading this, you know about both. 

So I pray that the Lord will send someone each day to encourage YOUR heart.  

And, being strengthened yourself, you will pass it on.  

Life is hard. Most of the time I wanted a participation ribbon just for living through another day. We don’t give each other enough credit for hanging in there during tough times, and we often criticize more than we comfort. Can you imagine what our world would look like if we spent more time encouraging people who are making it against all odds instead of criticizing them?

Paul told us to ‘encourage one another and build each other up’ (1 Thessalonians 5:11). … While God in His infinite wisdom and timing does choose to deliver some of us quickly, many of us spend years persevering before we find freedom and healing for our wounds.

~Esther Fleece, No More Faking Fine

Remembering the Missing: Four Candles

I have always loved candles.  Something in the flickering light speaks to my heart.

It’s one of my favorite parts of early evenings-watching the candles I light on every flat surface cast a soft glow and chase the darkness.

Even a small light offers hope.  

Christmas Eve is a natural time to gather with family and friends, to honor the ones no longer present, to share our love, our memories and our sorrow.

So when I ran across this post on a Compassionate Friends site, I wanted to share it.  I hope it blesses your heart like it blesses mine.  

This four candle ritual is a beautiful way to create space for tears and also invite laughter and hope into hurting hearts.  

four candles

Light Bearers and Candle Snuffers

One of the rituals I observe when the time changes and night closes in so very early is to light a candle each evening in the dark.

I’ve done it for years but now as I do it, I think of Dominic.

It is my small way of declaring the truth that darkness will not win.

It’s my protest against despair and hopelessness that threatens to undo methreatens to undo ALL of us at one time or another.

Because when I sit in the circle of the glow of that single candle, I’m reminded that no matter how small the flame, darkness cannot overcome the light.

I’m reminded that I can be a light bearer or a candle snuffer.

candle and hand

I can help others find hope or I can douse the tiny flame that still burns in their troubled heart.

Dominic was a light bearer.

After his death, the University of Alabama newspaper, The Crimson and White ran an article that said in part:

“Dominic was always very mechanically inclined and sort of became the law school mechanic,” close friend and classmate Joe Heilman said. “We are all poor college kids, so when we had questions, we would always go to him. This year alone I think he worked on five different law students’ cars and wouldn’t let them give him any more money than what it cost to replace the part.”

Heilman said Dominic’s selflessness far surpassed that of most people.

“He was one of the most hospitable people that I had ever met,” Heilman said. “I don’t have Internet or cable at my apartment, and when he found that out, he handed me the extra key to his apartment, no questions asked, and just said, ‘Come over whenever.’”

“He was exactly the kind of friend that everyone wants to have and that everyone tries to be,” Jonathan Mayhall, another friend, said.

All my children are light bearers.

They bring light and life to everyone they meet.  They encourage, help and minister to the people in their lives.  They stop for strangers, buy meals for the homeless, show up when friends are moving and put people first.

I encourage you, friend, as these nights get longer and darkness seems so very present-light a candle.

Sit in the circle of its glow and think how bright that little light shines in the black around you.

And remember that we all have the power to be light bearers, no matter how dark the night.

to-make-a-difference-only-kind