Thank you for the outpouring of encouragement, kindness and prayers.
You’ve breathed new life into this old and weary soul.
I can’t really walk away. Writing is what I do, it’s how I process life-the good, the bad, the sweet and the bitter.
But crafting posts is more than stream of consciousness journaling not meant to be read by another soul. It’s sitting with an idea long enough to be able to present it to others in a form they can understand, appropriate and use in their own lives.
It takes time.
So for the next two weeks (maybe longer) I’m going to recycle old posts and give my heart space to do some of its own processing and healing.
For many of you, they will still feel new because you joined us recently.
For some of you, they will be old and tired and not worth your time. Feel free to skip them.
I promise to alert you when I’m writing new things again.
P.S. If anyone has ideas on which topics might be interesting to gather and repost all in a row, add them in the comments. I did this once with *Prayer* and folks enjoyed it.
One year ago today Hurricane Michael came ashore at Mexico Beach, Florida packing more wind and damaging power than any hurricane ever recorded hitting there.
What’s more, it held every bit of that strength and smashed trees, houses and power lines for miles and miles inland including the rural county where my folks live 60 miles away from landfall.
My parents and aunt were trapped and unable to leave due to downed trees across the driveway, “yard” and the road leading out to safety. No electricity, not enough fuel to run the generator to power my mom’s oxygen and no running water (well water provided by an electric pump).
They didn’t evacuate because in the 100 years family had been living on that plot of land NO hurricane had ever made it that far inland with more than heavy rain, some strong wind and temporary power outages.
Thankfully, a neighbor had a bobcat tractor and he plus others with chainsaws and tractors were able to clear the dirt road to the main road. Thankfully, my youngest son, Julian, was able to find a way through the downed trees and power lines between our house and theirs and reach them with more fuel, more chainsaws and another set of strong arms to help them evacuate.
Thankfully, the trees that fell around the house didn’t smash it or hurt anyone.
My family had survived the frightening but escaped the truly awful.
It felt like pure grace that no one we loved was killed that day although our hearts broke for those for whom that wasn’t true.
Once power was restored and my parents were able to return home, there was so much to clean up, so much to do and so many repairs to make.
Who could have guessed that less than a year later another kind of storm would sweep across our lives, taking Mama with it?
This time there was nothing left to do.
There never is when death comes knocking and steals a person you love.
I am so grateful for the extra almost-year with Mama. I am so sad there won’t be more.
And today, when I’ve finally stopped long enough to let my heart begin to feel what that feels like, I find my longing for her is folded into my longing for Dominic.
Two deaths, one broken heart.
I’m thankful and confident that death is not the end of their story.
Mama and Dominic and all the people I’ve loved that love Jesus are together in Heaven and waiting for the rest of us to join them.
Unlike the broken trees and broken homes left behind by Hurricane Michael, there will be no tell-tale signs of repair when on that glorious Day our hearts are made whole again.
Every sad thing will come untrue-as if it never happened.
Every tear will be wiped away.
Every promise kept, every stolen thing redeemed and restored.
And Mama will be dancing while Dominic plays his drums.
Even if my lifeblood is to be poured out like wine as a sacrifice of your faith, I have great reason to celebrate with all of you.
~ Philippians 2:17 VOICE
In many ways I feel like this season of my life is a drink offering-poured out on the ground-unrecoverable except as a sacrifice lifted to the throne of grace.
But my story is not only loss and pain, it is also life and love.
I have to be careful to remember that.
… you may reformulate your story in terms of sadness and pain. Because you lost a child, or experienced a divorce, or killed someone in a car accident, you will never be happy again. Or even worse, you are never allowed to be happy again.
In all of these cases, we must remember that our stories fall under Christ’s story of redemption. Your life is but a chapter in God’s greater narrative of restoring the world. Your Worst is merely a chapter in your own story. If we allow God to write our stories and to carry us through the season of darkness and despair, he will ensure that redemption constitutes the central progression of our stories.
~Cameron Cole, Therefore I Have Hope
Redemption is the overarching theme of my story, of all history.
It doesn’t mean I have to deny the pain and darkness. In fact, if I try, I diminish His glory in redeeming what would otherwise be nothing but brokenness and loss.
I can lift those feelings to the throne of grace as a drink offering.
I can pour them out at Christ’s feet and trust that even though in the natural there is no way to recapture and restore what has been lost, in His power and love it is never, ever wasted.
And I heard a voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Today I decided for one day to ignore the clock and my own internal tick, tick, tick tracking minutes and hours.
Today I did or didn’t do whatever I wanted.
I refused to check my list.
Instead of optimum efficiency, batching chores and trips upstairs or down, I meandered in and out of rooms. I picked up one thing and passed another. I didn’t “clean as you go” when I made my salad. I started something and didn’t finish. I stared. I hummed. I listened to wind chimes tinkle away the hours.
My big fat cat jumped in my lap and I let him stay there even though it means I can’t do anything else because my arms don’t quite reach around him.
People tell me all the time, “Don’t worry! It’ll be there tomorrow!” But that is precisely what usually worries me-it WILL be there tomorrow.
Today, though, I gulped those words, chewed them and swallowed. Gone.
And you know what?
It was fine.
I doubt this will be a trend. Fifty-five years of task-oriented, time-conscious living can’t be swept away by one glorious day of living minute to minute.
Sometimes it’s because others have shamed us into covering up. Sometimes it’s because our hearts have been stomped on by folks who might mean well but really don’t understand what it’s like to live every day with a messy and unfinished story.
But there’s no shame in being broken.
And we have no obligation to pretend for those that are uncomfortable with our wounds and our sorrow.
In fact, there is no greater invitation to the good news that Jesus came to redeem and restore than a person whose life makes plain that they are depending on Him for that very promise.
I’ve thought often of what good, if any, can come from child loss.
I do not think for one minute that God “took” my son to teach me a lesson or to mold me in some way.
But I do believe with my whole heart that God can USE this circumstance to conform me more closely to the image of Christ Jesus.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.
Romans 8: 26-30 MSG
I also cling firmly to the conviction that there are things I can learn, truths I can understand and depths of love and grace I can fathom that are not available to hearts who have not walked the road of sorrow and trod the path of grief.
There are things I know because I have been forced to travel the Valley of the Shadow of Death that those who are spared will never know.
I truly believe this is some of the “hidden manna” Jesus promises to those who persevere under trial, who resist the lies and lure of the evil one and who persist in holding onto hope in spite of all evidence that screams, “Let go!”
Let everyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: Everyone who is victorious shall eat of the hidden manna, the secret nourishment from heaven; and I will give to each a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one else knows except the one receiving it.
Revelation 2:17 TLB
My testimony is not flashy. But it doesn’t have to be.
You won’t find me doing a victory lap around a defeated foe.
Instead I cling tenaciously to the truth that God’s faithful love endures forever and that death is no longer the last word.
I swallow every bit of strength the Spirit offers me.
Resurrection, redemption and resurrection are coming.
And I wait, in hope, and with assurance that my story does not end in ashes.
The resurrection of Jesus was a hidden event. Jesus didn’t rise from the grave to baffle his opponents, to make a victory statement, or to prove to those who crucified him that he was right after all. Jesus rose as a sign to those who had loved him and followed him that God’s divine love is stronger than death. To the women and men who had committed themselves to him, he revealed that his mission had been fulfilled. To those who shared in his ministry, he gave the sacred task to call all people into the new life with him.
The world didn’t take notice. Only those whom he called by name, with whom he broke bread, and to whom he spoke words of peace were aware of what happened. Still, it was this hidden event that freed humanity from the shackles of death.