Permission Granted: Please Share

I’m not the most tech savvy individual and I freely admit it.

Dominic was our resident tech advisor and among other things I lost when he was taken from us was my own personal “help” desk.  Now I muddle through the best I can.

I’m also not too excited about exploring popular Facebook posts that purport to give you insider information. But I did check out a recent post making the rounds and discovered that FB DOES hide some of my messages.

I have no idea what kind of filter they use to decide what messages I should see and what messages should be sequestered into the “filtered messages” folder, but I wish they would just stop!

I found messages from MONTHS ago from mamas trying to contact me about my blog and many asking permission to share a post or to print a post and pass it along to another grieving family.

I was heartbroken that I didn’t receive these requests in a timely way and I pray that in each case, they decided to share anyway.

So, since I have no idea how to stop FB from filtering messages, I would like to make this plain:  PERMISSION GRANTED to anyone who finds these posts helpful to share them.

As long as you make no changes, share them in entirety and cite thelifeididntchoose.com as the source, share away.

You can share one of several ways-there are buttons at the bottom of each post for FB, Twitter, and Reddit.  You can copy and paste into an email or email the link.  Or you can print them for physical distribution.

If you want to sign up to receive the posts in your own email, there is a link on the right side of each post inviting you to “follow blog via email”-this makes it easier to share a post via email.

If you have a WordPress site, you can follow through your own site as well.

Finally, at the top right corner there is a “contact” button-you are welcome to contact me anytime through email.  I try to answer within a day.

I cannot bring my son back-but I can honor his memory by sharing faithfully what God is teaching me as I make this journey.

I am thankful and humbled that others find my words helpful. 

If you know someone that might also find them helpful, please pass them along.  

 

 

 

How the Church Can Serve Grieving Parents and Other Hurting People: Loving Well Series

When I first shared this post,  I received a lot of feedback from readers and much of it went something like this:  “I wish my pastor would read this.” or “I’d love to share this on my own FaceBook page but I’m afraid someone might be offended.”

I didn’t write this post to point fingers but I did write it to drag into the light a hidden place of pain and division within churches.  

There are so many hurting people in our pews and we cannot continue to ignore our responsibility to minister to them.  So to you who are timid, I say, “Be brave!  Share! There is no shame in sharing the truth in love!”

“I am a shepherd.  My goats and sheep depend on me for food, for guidance and for their security.

And every day I am reminded that a shepherd’s heart is revealed by the way he or she cares for the weakest and most vulnerable of the flock.”

Read the rest here:  Loving Well: How the Church Can Serve Grieving Parents and Other Hurting People

Understanding Acceptance: Loving Well Series

There is a lot of misconception around the notion of “acceptance” in the grief community. Sometimes among the very people counseling those walking this valley of loss.

It’s not a once-and-done realization or commitment or decision.  It’s a process…

Sometimes those that walk alongside the bereaved are biding time, waiting for that “final” stage of grief: Acceptance.

And some therapists, counselors and armchair psychiatrists are certain that if the grieving mother can simply accept the death of her child, she can move on–that she can get back to a more “normal’ life.

But this notion is as ridiculous as imagining that welcoming a new baby into a household doesn’t change everything.

Read the rest here:  Loving well: Understanding “Acceptance”

Just Say His Name: Loving Well Series

As a bereaved mother, I long desperately to know that my son is still remembered and that he still matters.  Of course, he matters to me-but it is a great gift to know that he matters to others as well. 

Death is scary.  Even for us who trust Jesus.  And the death of a child just trashes the notion that we are in control, that we can fully protect the ones we love from all harm.

But you are frightened of what you cannot comprehend.

I am living the reality of your greatest fear.

Read the rest here:  Loving Well: Just Say His Name

Transitioning from “Good-bye” to Grief: Loving Well Series

I wrote this post in an effort to help the nonbereaved understand that funerals and memorials and other outward symbols of “good-bye” are only the BEGINNING to our sense of loss and sorrow.  And that while everyone else walks away and goes back to the life they had the day before, we stand on the threshold to a different life we are unprepared for, know nothing about and do not want.

“A funeral or memorial service seems like a final chapter.  We close the coffin, close the doors and everyone goes home.

But for bereaved parents and their surviving children, it’s not an end, it is a beginning.

Much like a wedding or birth serves as the threshold to a new way of life, a new commitment, a new understanding of who you are, burying a child does the same.

I walked away from the cemetary overwhelmed by the finality of death–not in a theological sense–I believe firmly that my son lives with Jesus–but with the undeniable fact that he is no longer available to me on this earth.”

Read more: Loving Well: Transitioning From “Good-bye” to Grief

Extravagant Love-Tales of Friendship and Encouragement After Losing a Child: Loving Well Series

I asked other bereaved parents to share from their experience the things that were helpful and not so helpful to them after losing a child.  I was amazed by the answers!

What follows is a combination of their words and mine–blended together to help others in this journey.

If you are a bereaved parent, and have wanted to gently remind amily and friends what is helpful and what isn’t-sharing a post to Facebook can be a non-threatening way to let them know using someone else’s voice.

“When I asked other bereaved parents to share the things people did that blessed them in the wake of losing a child, I didn’t expect so many stories of extravagant love–of acts surpassing anything I could have thought of or imagined.”

Read the rest:  Extravagant Love: Tales of Friendship and Encouragement After Losing a Child

31 Practical Ways to Love Grieving Parents: Loving Well Series

I asked other bereaved parents to share from their experience the things that were helpful and not so helpful to them after losing a child.  I was amazed by the answers!

What follows is a combination of their words and mine–blended together to help others in this journey.

If you are a bereaved parent, and have wanted to gently remind amily and friends what is helpful and what isn’t-sharing a post to Facebook can be a non-threatening way to let them know using someone else’s voice.

“When Dominic died, I didn’t get a manual on what to do.  I didn’t get an orientation into how to be a grieving parent.  So when some people asked how they could help me and my family, I really didn’t know.”

Read the rest here:  31 Practical Ways to Love Grieving Parents in the First Few Days

Replay: Loving Well Series

Beginning today and through the next week, I will be sharing again a series of posts written to help those journeying the valley of grief and those walking with them on the journey.  I asked other bereaved parents to share from their experience the things that were helpful and not so helpful to them after losing a child.

Many of these insights are useful for blessing anyone in any difficult situation–we can all use a little help from our friends.

If you are a bereaved parent, and you have wanted to let family and friends know what’s helpful and what isn’t-sharing a post to Facebook can be a non-threatening way to let them know using someone else’s voice.

“No one is prepared to bury their child.

But some of us have to.”

Read the rest: Loving Well: Meaningful Ministry to Grieving Parents

Choosing Transparency

I’ve had two conversations in as many days that revolved around how hard it is to be transparent in relationships.

And it seems that the difficulty lies not only in our own desire to present ourselves in a way that casts a positive light on our actions, thoughts and feelings but also because of an unspoken rule in social transactions that demands (and I don’t think “demand”is too strong a word) we conform to the “I’m doing just fine” standard that is prevalent everywhere you turn.

All around me, people are faking life.

They are acting as if there are no hurdles, no burdens, no wounded places in their own hearts.  They run around proclaiming, “this is my best life now!” somehow convinced that if they say it loud enough and long enough it will be true.

But everyone sees what we think we are hiding.

Many know what we think we’re not saying.

And we all walk around, seeing and knowing but never acknowledging the truth:  we are not as strong or as perfect as we wish we were.

All this fake life is costly.  It’s costly to us who try so very hard to keep up appearances-it robs our lives of energy that would be better used in loving and serving others.  It is costly to the people around us because as long as we play the game, they feel like they must play along too.

And everywhere, hurting people hurt alone.  Scared people remain isolated in their fear.

That is not the life Jesus came to give us.  That is not the way to build true community among His called-out ones.  That is not the way to teach our children how to lean into and hold onto the strength and hope that Christ died to bring.

When I lost Dominic, many feelings overwhelmed me-sorrow, pain, disbelief-and, to my surprise, humility.

For the first time in my life it made sense to me why in many cultures bereaved people sit in the dirt and tear their clothes.  Because I remember saying over and over, “I am cast to the ground, and ashes are my food.”

And while that feeling is no longer as strong as it once was, it still echoes in my heart and mind.  I carry it with me wherever I go.  It has freed me from the game of “let’s pretend” that held me hostage to other people’s expectations of how I should act or what I should hide from public view.

Let’s just STOP.

Let’s be honest.

Let’s refuse to hide our scars, our tears, our fears and our failures.

If those of us who love Jesus refuse to acknowledge our weakness, how do we expect others to acknowledge their need for a Savior?

“The Christian often tries to forget his weakness; God wants us to remember it, to feel it deeply. The Christian wants to conquer his weakness and to be freed from it; God wants us to rest and even rejoice in it. The Christian mourns over his weakness; Christ teaches His servant to say, ‘I take pleasure in infirmities. Most gladly …will I…glory in my infirmities’ (2 Cor. 12:9)’ The Christian thinks his weaknesses are his greatest hindrance in the life and service of God; God tells us that it is the secret of strength and success. It is our weakness, heartily accepted and continually realized, that gives our claim and access to the strength of Him who has said, ‘My strength is made perfect in weakness”

― Andrew Murray, Abide in Christ

Making Space for Brokenness at the Table of the LORD

As we enter the week on the Christian calendar when most churches celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I am reminded that often we race past the road that lead to Calvary and linger at the empty tomb.

But to understand the beauty of forgiveness and the blessing of redemption, we MUST acknowledge the sorrow of sin and the burden of brokenness.

When our sacred spaces draw boundaries around what we can bring to the Lord’s Table, we exclude the very ones who are desperate for the bread and cup.  When we treat the path as unimportant and only acknowledge the destination, we discourage those that are struggling to keep up.  When we welcome only the triumphant, we exclude those that are trying.

Let’s throw open the doors to the church and

Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness [remove the obstacles]; Make straight and smooth in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3 AMP)

Let’s invite the outcasts, the limping, the hurting and the broken to the table.

Let’s declare to the wounded that in Christ there is healing!

As I’ve written before: “The truth is that none of us escape hardship in life.  All of us have hidden heartache.  We all have cracks in our polished persona.”

Read more:  Beautiful Broken