Blessing The Dust, A Prayer For The Broken

There are many times in my life when I’ve felt small and unseen.

Many times when my spirit sank so low I couldn’t even remember “up” much less find it.

But there is no moment so humbling as the one when I came face-to-face with the undeniable FACT that my son had exhaled for the last time.

Walking into the sanctuary where his body lay still, unnatural and absolutely silent, my heart shattered into even smaller pieces.

So I understand Job’s cry.

I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me; when I stand up, You merely look at me.

Job 30:20 HCSB

I know what it is to fall to the ground in utter dejection, complete hopelessness and pray, pray, pray that life leaves my body because the pain is unbearable.

That’s one reason Lent is a kind of relief every year.

It’s a season when others join me in admitting that from dust we came and to dust we will return.

Image result for from dust to dust

But it’s also a season of hope.

Because while Lent forces my heart to focus on my frailty, it points me toward my Savior.

The One who made us is the One who rescues us.

The One who saves us is the One who sees us.

The One who sees us is the One who longs to comfort us.

I love this blessing by Jan Richardson:

“All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners

or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—

did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?

This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.

This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.

This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners

or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—

did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?

This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.

This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.

This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.

So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are

but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made
and the stars that blaze
in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.”

—Jan Richardson, Blessing the Dust, For Ash Wednesday

It’s no secret I am frail, prone to break-even shatter-into the tiniest bits of dust.

But that doesn’t stop my God from gathering what’s left to make something beautiful.

When I find myself face down in the dirt, no strength to lift my head, I remind my heart, “[Do] you not know what the Holy One can do with dust?”

Grief Triggers: Why Does Coffee Make Me Cry?

Oh, the early days, weeks and even years of grief!

I was a giant walking nerve.

Every sight, sound, smell or even touch that reminded me of Dominic evoked a wave of sorrow that almost always ended in tears.

I cried in the grocery store, walking past Bath and Body Works in the mall, driving down the road when certain songs came on the radio, tidying up drawers and finding a long lost and forgotten something that Dominic tucked away for later.

Sometimes I just wanted to scream, “Don’t you know my son’s not here??!!”

But of course I couldn’t do that and walk around in society.

So the triggers were an outlet for that pent up energy, angst and sadness.

It was awful.

Especially when what I set out to do was something I really needed to do. I’d leave the house with a list of places to go, things to buy and people to see but often return having done only a fraction of it.

I’m better at it now.

I’ve grown stronger and am more skilled at carrying the burden of the disconnect between my heart and other hearts who haven’t experienced deep pain and loss.

I’ve learned how to fix my eyes on some distant point if cornered by a well-meaning friend asking how I am but not really wanting to hear about how Dominic’s death continues to impact our family.

I press my fingers together hard in an attempt to stop the sorrow rising up and threatening to undo me until I can escape to the bathroom, a quiet corner or my car.

And I’ve learned not to be ashamed of the tears that fill my eyes and slip down my cheek despite all my best efforts no matter where I am.

There is a Whole Series of "Lasts"


One of the things even the most uninformed person understands about loss is that the first birthday, the first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas and all the “firsts” after loss will be hard.

But one of the things no one tells you about is that a heart will mark the “lasts” just as much.

The last time I saw him.

The last time I spoke to him.

The last time I hugged his neck and smelled the unique fragrance that was my son.

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2019/02/15/a-whole-series-of-lasts/

Loving Bereaved Families: Helpful Tips


I firmly believe that our friends and extended family want to reach out, want to help, want to walk alongside as we grieve the death of our child

 I am also convinced that many of them don’t because they don’t know how.  

It may seem unfair that in addition to experiencing our loss, we also have to educate others on how to help us as we experience it, but that’s just how it is.

The alternative is to feel frustrated and abandoned or worse.  

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2019/02/13/child-loss-helpful-tips-for-interacting-with-bereaved-families/

So Many Grief Anniversaries: A Survivor's Guide


There are more than you might think.  

Most folks would count the date of death and maybe the date of burial or memorial service.

But a mama’s heart counts it ALL.

I count the day he left, the day I was first able to view his body, the days of visitation, the day of the funeral and burial.

  • I count the day we cleaned out his apartment.
  • I count the day I notified credit card companies he would no longer require their services.
  • I count the day I received the death certificate.
  • I count the day I got his posthumous diploma.

And every year these dates roll around again to remind my heart of the pain I felt then and to pierce it afresh. 

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2018/02/12/how-can-i-survive-grief-anniversaries/

It's All Part Of The Journey: Good Days, Bad Days

Will today be a good day or a bad day?

Not sure yet.

Mainly because what usually determines THAT is something that happens (or doesn’t happen) at some point after my morning quiet time.

But whether it’s a good day, a bad day or somewhere in between, it is absolutely, completely, utterly NORMAL for my emotions to change as I make my way down the path called “Child Loss”.

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2019/02/11/child-loss-good-days-bad-days-all-part-of-the-journey/

Life Has Limits: Making Choices So My Legacy Lasts

Not every soul lives to be “full of years”.

Some are snatched away when life has barely begun while others live a bit but not long enough. Even those whose lives span decades seem gone too soon for those left behind.

Dominic died just six weeks short of his twenty-fourth birthday.  

My mother lived four days past her eighty-first.

We didn’t expect either of them to leave us when they did. Yet, here we are.

A day dawned that did not include them and there will be a sunrise that does not include me.

There is a limit to my opportunity to leave a legacy of love, of influence and of purpose to those who come behind. I want it to be one that lasts, that matters and that has eternal impact.

That’s why it matters how I spend my days. 

Because days make up weeks which make up months, years and decades and then it’s over. 

That doesn’t make me sad-because what comes next is more wonderful than what I have here-no matter how wonderful I think it is. 

But it makes me thoughtful. 

Paul reminds the Ephesians:

Look carefully then how you walk!

Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.” 

~Ephesians 5:15-17 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

While the days are often long, the years are short.

I don’t get a “do over” but I can do better.

Image result for you can't go back and change the beginning

God has prepared good works for me to do.  My responsibility is to look for them and to do them.  

I LOVE these verses in Ephesians:

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. 

Ephesians 2:7-10 MSG

Do you hear what Paul is saying? 

God saved us from sin and death.  But that’s not all! 

He saved us TO a life of loving service.  And He’s already set the opportunities in place for us to simply take advantage of as we walk on in our lives! 

I don’t have to go out of my way to find them.  I simply have to offer up myself as a living sacrifice and trade my will for His. 

God never wastes anything. 

Not even suffering. 

I’ve served in some capacity within my local Body for my entire adult life.  But when Dominic died, I found I was so broken I couldn’t do it anymore.  I had to step back, nurse my shattered heart and try to heal. 

But about a year and a half after he left for Heaven, I felt God nudging me to try again. 

So I did. 

I started sharing my struggle, my faith and my experience in daily blog posts. 

What began as kind of grudging obedience to God’s prompting has become a lifeline for me and for other bereaved parents. 

It takes time.  It takes effort.  It takes commitment. 

And there are days when I don’t want to do it. 

But I’m convinced it’s one of the works God prepared beforehand that I should do. 

There will be a day when my work will cease and the book will be closed on my earthly life.

Until then, I will strive to remember what Jesus told His disciples:  “While it is daytime, we must do the works of the One who sent Me. But when the sun sets and night falls, this work is impossible.” (John 9:4 VOICE)

What has God equipped and called YOU to do? 

What experiences in your life, gifts and talents, opportunities is God weaving together so You can do the good works He’s placing in your path?

Someone needs you to share YOUR story.

Someone needs you to help them connect THEIR story to God’s story.

Look around, they’re right in front of you.

This post is the second in a series I began writing for a presentation I gave last Saturday entitled “Don’t Grow Weary In Doing Well: Making Kingdom Work a Priority”.

If you want to read the first post, you can find it here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2020/02/07/today-is-a-gift/