Priorities

Browsing a book store (a favorite pasttime) I came on this selection in a collection of poems by Robert Frost:

A Time to Talk

When a friend calls to me from the road

And slows his horse to a meaning walk,

I don’t stand still and look around

On all the hills I haven’t hoed,

And shout from where I am, What is it?

No, not as there is a time to talk.

I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,

Blade-end up and five feet tall,

And plod:  I go up to the stone wall

For a friendly visit.

It pierced my heart.

How many times have I chosen to ignore a friend’s need for companionship-brushing past importantly as I pursued the day’s tasks?

I’ll get around to it when I have more time,” I think to myself.

And then one day there is no more time.  The friend I kept putting off has left this world for the next and I can’t retrieve the missed opportunities.

Nothing stings like words unsaid, hugs not given or love left bound in a heart instead of set free to bless another.

C.S. Lewis said:

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

And I think I don’t have time?

Of all the souls born on this planet, Jesus had the most important work to do.

Yet He purposed to include people at every turn.

He healed the sick.  He spoke hope to the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery.  He rebuked religious leaders who were more interested in burdening the faithful than guiding them to God.

Jesus walked everywhere-surely it would have been more EFFICIENT to let the Holy Spirit whisk Him from place to place as He did Phillip after speaking to the Ethiopian.

In walking, the Light of the World  was building relationship-He was speaking truth to the twelve who would be the foundation of His church.

And relationship takes time.  There is nothing instant about it.

It is clear from the life of Christ that after His Father, people were His priority.

Few of us will be called to great public tasks or lofty visionary ministry.  But each of us has been called to carry the light and life of our Saviour to every person we meet.

If we are to follow in the footsteps of our Master, then people must be our priority too.

So I will set aside my “to do” list when someone comes calling.  I will cross the street to meet that person I remember from school or church.  I’ll send a card to the sick relative and remind her that I love her and will pray for her recovery.

I won’t lock love in my heart and hoard it like gold.

I’ll shed it abroad so that it speaks courage to everyone I meet.

“Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”
– Mr. Rogers

A Little Extra Grace

Each day I am reminded by sights, smells, sounds and memories that Dominic is in Heaven and not here.  

But there are moments and seasons when his absence is particularly strong-when I can’t breathe in without also breathing a prayer, “Father, let me make it through this minute, this hour, this day.”

And that’s when I need grace-from family, friends and strangers.

Image result for everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about quote

Anyone who knows ANYONE that lives with loss knows that Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays and remembrance days are sure to be especially hard for those left behind.

What some may not know is that there are other, hidden, pitfalls on this journey through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

For many bereaved parents the beginning of the school year is one of them.

Even though my son  was long past school age when he left, that shiny penny newness and promise of another year of school, another step toward maturity and the rest of life, another marker on the road to what every parent hopes will be a beautiful future is a painful reminder that my child won’t be doing anything new here on earth.

And a little extra grace goes a long way toward making this season easier to endure.  

  • A bit more patience as I walk slowly across the parking lot, lost in thought and unaware you are behind me trying to get on with life or park your car.
  • A smile when I accidentally bump my cart into yours in the grocery aisle-having just passed his favorite food or smelled coffee and been instantly transported to his finicky passion for all things caffeine.

  • Calm responses when I jump to conclusions, cut you off mid-sentence or answer a query with a less-than-kind tone of voice.

Want to be especially encouraging to a parent missing their child in heaven?

  • A text or message or a “thinking of you” card can turn a dismal day into one full of sunshine.
  • Do you have a special memory or memento you could share?  What a gift!

If you see us in these next few days and weeks as thoughts and hearts turn from summer to a new semester, be patient-we are once again reminded that our child’s earthly story has ended.

It’s a hard truth to embrace. 

Every. time.

 

Move On Already!

How long has it been?  A year, two, eighteen or twenty-five?

When. are. you. going. to. move on?  

Aren’t you over talking about their birth story, their childhood, their school years, their spouse, children, moves and career?  How many funny stories or sad recollections do I have to listen to?????

I mean, really-it’s been soooooooooo00 long since they were BORN!

Sound’s ridiculous, doesn’t it? It IS ridiculous.

We don’t expect parents to “move on” or “get over” their living children.

Why, why, why do we expect parents to move on or get over the ones they’ve had to bury?

My love for each of my children, on earth or in heaven, is life-long.  

I wrote about it here: Love: The Reason I Grieve

Can’t Hide the Ugly

Yesterday I was impatient and ugly with someone I love.

When you are hurting, physically or emotionally or physically AND emotionally, you just don’t have the energy to hide the ugly.

But the pain didn’t create the ugly-it just revealed it.

And I am sorry to say that even burying a child did not cleanse me of some ugliness I wish I didn’t have in my heart.

I keep asking God to fill me with His love, mercy and grace.  And I am more full of those things than before.

But there is still plenty of (if not hate then) less-than-love, judgement and impatience. Trials don’t automatically lead to refinement or stronger faith.

Tribulation can drive someone away from God as easily as it can drive them to their knees.

If I’m not careful-if I’m not very careful-I can use my pain as an excuse for all kinds of bad behavior.

So I’m here to confess:  I am so, so sorry.

I’m sorry that when my glass gets tipped, anger and bitterness spills out. I’m sorry that I’m not more faithful to extend grace when I hope grace will be extended to me.  I’m sorry that speaking truth so that I prove my point and wound a heart is sometimes more satisfying than speaking truth in love.

I wish every  deed I did  and every word I spoke was full of life and never full of death.

I hate death.  I. HATE. death.

It has taken enough from me. And I want no part of it.

Father, I want to be a beacon of light and life.  Lord, make me so.  Fill me to overflowing with YOUR love, YOUR life, YOUR grace, YOUR mercy.  Left to myself I have no hope.  But by Your Spirit, it can be so.

When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God—who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty—and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him.

James 1:2-5 PHILLIPS

 

Twelve Things I Love to Remember

It rolls around every month-the twelfth-that glaring reminder that on this day “x” number of months ago, I woke to the news Dominic was never coming home again.

This month is 28.  Twenty-eight months-more than 28 moon cycles-over two years.

I don’t cry all day on this monthly reminder anymore-although I used to. And I have tried various ways to redeem it.

This month I decided to share twelve things I love to remember about Dominic. Maybe some things even his good friends didn’t know:

  • Dominic HATED to lose.  When he was a little boy we participated in a monthly skate session at a local roller rink.  At the end of the skating time (to encourage kids to quickly take off and return their skates) there were foot races broken up by age and gender. Poor Dom-he was built like a gymnast not a runner and he. just. couldn’t. win.  EVERY TIME, he’d come stomping off the floor, nearly in tears because he didn’t win.  So many things came easily to him but this didn’t and it frustrated him.
  • Dominic finished his undergraduate degree in three and a half years-double major-graduated Magna Cum Laude and delivered the undergraduate address for his graduation ceremony. I love that he was so goal-oriented and persevered even when it was really hard.

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  • He could subsist on rice and broiled chicken breasts when he was trying to work on muscle definition (he rarely missed a day at the gym) but when he was a little kid he hid candy along the side of his mattress.  He remained a sucker for a good sugar binge, especially when stressed during finals.
  • Dominic was scared of needles.  His PCP finally shamed him into getting a needed tetanus shot but he hated it!

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  • He had a weakness for puppies, kittens and kids.

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  • If it had strings, Dominic could play it-mandolin, guitar, bass, banjo.  And if you could coax rhythm out of it, he could make it sing.  Never silent, never still-always making some kind of music. Boy do I miss that!

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  • Dominic never took “no” for an answer.  He would doggedly pursue anything and anyone if he thought it was a valid case or course of action.  He had an entire university policy overturned because he was able to demonstrate to the administration that its application was faulty.  That’s part of what would have made him a great lawyer…
  • He was an adrenaline junkie.  He was the one that wanted to jump out of an airplane so he did.

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  • As an undergraduate he had a part-time job as a  lifeguard at the student recreation center.  He loved the job  but hated swimming. He was an amazing athlete.
  • Although he was an excellent orator, he didn’t really talk until he was almost three and had a speech impediment until he was into second grade.  You would never have known it if you met him as an older teen or adult.

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  • Oh!  Dominic was stubborn!  I remember one afternoon when I had given an assignment to draw a leaf in his nature journal.  He sat, without drawing, for over an hour because he insisted he couldn’t draw, wouldn’t draw and didn’t see the point in the assignment.  I finally caved and said he could trace the leaf.  I still have that picture as a testimony to his mulish side.
  • Dominic had a great sense of humor and nothing was out of bounds if it made someone laugh.

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I am so thankful God made me his mama.  I love every memory I have.  I really wish we could make more…

 

 

Prayers I Still Pray, Last Installment

Months ago, in my first post about prayer,  I spoke to the difficulty of praying while experiencing great pain.  In Praying Through the Pain I wrote:

I am thankful that before Dominic died I had a habit of praying and reading Scripture.  I am thankful for the many verses that are so ingrained in my thoughts that they come, unbidden to my mind.

So I have continued to pray each morning, opening my journal and my Bible.

Even when I cannot feel the connection, I know God is there.

Today’s post is the final in a short series where I am sharing the prayers I still find easy to pray even after burying a child.

If you comb through the New Testament looking for prayers, you find that they don’t look like the ones we hear most often in church-most New Testament prayers focused on expanding a believer’s knowledge of who they are in Christ and Who Jesus is to them. 

Based on Scripture, I can ask in faith, speaking God’s words back to Him.

THESE are prayers I can still pray, I hope they are helpful for others in similar circumstances.

II Thessalonians 1: 11-12

God, I pray

  • that You will count____worthy of Your calling,
  • that by Your power You may fulfill every good purpose in ___’s life and every act prommpted by their faith.
  • I pray this so that the name of our Lord may be glorified in ___and they in You, acccording to Your grace.

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I Thessalonian 1:2-9

I always thank You, Father, for ___, as I bring them to You in prayer,

Continue to stir up in them

  • work produced by faith,
  • labor prompted by love, and
  • endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Cause ____to know that they are loved by You and especially chosen of You.

Cause the gospel to take root in their lives and go forth from them

  • not in words only,
  • but also with power,
  • with the Holy Spirit, and
  • with deep conviction.

Cause___

  • to keep their eyes on the Lord Jesus and become imitators of Him,
  • to have joy as only the Holy Spirit can given, and
  • to model Christ with their lives to a wathcing world, that their faith in You might become known to the ends of the earth.

Keep ____actively serving only You, the living and true God.  Keep ___’s heart turned to You so that they will recognize the snare of idols and conciously choose to have noting in their lives that rivals You.

i Thessalonians 1_2

 

 

 

 

 

Prayers I Still Pray, Part II

As I mentioned yesterday, prayer after loss is complicated for me.  I wrote a post months ago The Problem of [Un]Answered Prayer that addressed this.

But I AM able to pray Scripture-especially the prayers of Paul, which are centered on asking God to strengthen others and to expand their understanding of His love, compassion, power and grace.

Here are two more that I find helpful:

Philippians 1:9-11

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I pray

  • that ___’s love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,
  • that___may be able to discern what is best, and
  • that____may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ,
  • that___will be filled with the fruit of righteousness through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God.

 

Colossians 1:9-12

Father, I pray

  • that You will fill___with the knowledge of Your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
  • that___may live a life worthy of You, Lord,
  • that____may please You in every way,
  • that___will bear fruit in every good work,
  • that___will grow in the knowledge of You,
  • that___will be strengthened with all power according to Your glorious might,
  • that___may have great endurance and patience,
  • that___will joyfully give thanks to You, Father, who has qualiied them to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

Today by Your Spirit make real all their inheritance in Christ Jesus.

col 1_9