Reaching For Jesus In The Midst of Sorrow

Life after child loss is full of seeming contradictions.

I am broken yet God is redeeming those fragments and reassembling a life of beauty and meaning.

The cracks are visible but they haven’t disqualified me as a vessel that can hold His love, His grace, His mercy and pour all that out on others.

I’m often scared, but am able to walk into each day brave in the knowledge I don’t walk alone.

Read the rest here: Scared and Brave: Reaching For Jesus in the Midst of Sorrow

Mountains or Molehills?

This post is for all the bereaved parents who wonder why the things that used to be easy are so. very. hard. now.

I kind of understood that the twelve months of “firsts” after Dominic left us would be difficult and draining. But I thought that having survived THOSE I’d be better equipped to do it again.

I was wrong.

Not only were milestone days and holidays just as hard, even everyday chores could be a challenge.

What used to be molehills were mighty mountains and I wasn’t in any shape to scale them.

There’s a saying in the South, “You’re making a mountain out of a mole hill”.

It’s supposed knock sense into someone who is overreacting to a small and easily resolved problem.  Most of the time it works-stepping back and gaining perspective is a good thing.

But I find that this side of Dominic’s leaving, many, many things that were mole hills before are MOUNTAINS now.  Because my faith in my own ability to handle things has become so very small, nearly any challenge feels like a never-ending ascent up the mountain.

Read the rest here: Mountains and Mole Hills

Face Toward the Son

One of the magical aspects of sunflowers is how they move through the day to always face the sun.

Like other plants, they depend on light to make their food but unlike others, they seem intent on thanking the source.

I am always encouraged when I pass a patch of sunflowers standing stalwart, saluting in unison the life-giving rays. They remind me that I am just as dependent as they are.

I can’t draw breath without the light and life of Christ in me.

Praise: The Secret to Living Above Circumstances - FaithGateway

But I forget that sometimes.

Clouds of sadness and despair obscure my vision and I’m tempted to turn away. Life gets hard and I wonder why it has to be like that. Responsibility grows heavy and I can’t lift my head.

So I lose sight of the Son-who He is, what He’s done and how He continues to sustain me even when I can neither see it or feel it.

It’s just then I need to turn toward Him.

It’s that very moment I require extra grace to look up (which He supplies) and extra faith (which He endows) to see clearly.

When I do, He always renews my strength.

“Don’t you know? Haven’t you been listening?
    Yahweh is the one and only everlasting God,
    the Creator of all you can see and imagine!
    He never gets weary or worn out.
    His intelligence is unlimited;
    he is never puzzled over what to do!
 He empowers the feeble
    and infuses the powerless with increasing strength.
 Even young people faint and get exhausted;
    athletic ones may stumble and fall.
But those who wait for Yahweh’s grace
    will experience divine strength.
    They will rise up on soaring wings and fly like eagles,
    run their race without growing weary,
    and walk through life without giving up.”

Isaiah 40: 28-41 TPT

Enough For Today-No More, No Less

If I had my way I’d store up grace like green beans-stacking one can atop the other “just in case”.

Then I could decide if and when to open it up and pour it out.

But grace isn’t like that. It’s a perishable though infinite commodity-like manna.

Read the rest here: Daily Bread: His Provision Is Sufficient

Seeking Peace/Battling Anxiety: Enduring Strength

When suffering is time-limited it is often more easily endured.

If I know six weeks of intensive though painful physical therapy will help me regain strength and use of a limb or joint, I can power through.

If restricting calories for a month helps me fit into that dress for a special event, I’m more likely to sacrifice for a short time so the pictures look good.

But if you tell me I’ll hobble around for the rest of my life because there’s nothing to be done about my bad back or crooked joints or you want me to change how I eat for good-well, that’s gonna take more strength than I have on my own.

When I realized-probably sometime near the end of the first year-that the sorrow and missing and pain of burying my son was going to be a burden I carried to my own grave, it was absolutely, utterly soul-crushing.

Read the rest here: Battling Anxiety/Seeking Peace: Strength To Endure

Wrestling Back To Trust: Appropriate God’s Strength

A little review as we get to the last post in our series: Trying to stuff or hide my pain from myself, God and others is useless and unhelpful.

I’ve got to breathe out the sorrow, doubts, angst and disappointment to make room for the life-giving breath of Truth and the Holy Spirit.

And then I need to do one more thing. I must appropriate the strength and courage of my Savior-the Author and Finisher of my faith.

It is possible to endure. It is possible to finish well. It is possible to hold onto hope and follow the Light and Love of Jesus through this Valley.

My friend and fellow bereaved mom, Margaret Franklin, Ryan’s mom, shared a beautiful Dutch word with me “Sterkte” (pronounced STAIRK-tah).

It literally translates “strength” or “power” but culturally means much more.  It means bravery, strength, fortitude and endurance in the face of fear and insumountable odds through the empowering strength of God in me.

Not MY strength, but HIS.

It’s the strength Isaiah meant when he wrote:

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31 KJV

This is what it means to appropriate God’s strength:

Read the rest here: Trust After Loss: Appropriate God’s Strength

Grace for Today. That’s Enough.

After the sharp stab of loss, I think helplessness is the most frightening thing I have felt in this journey.

When I am overcome with the sense that I will never make it, that I can’t go on, that I am not going to be able to put one foot in front of the other for even one more hour, much less one more day-I cry out to Jesus and tell Him that.

I have never gotten an audible answer, or a miraculous phone call or a perfect note in the mailBUT I think in the moment of absolute surrender, the moment when I know with certainty that I can not do this without His supernatural grace, mercy and strength- HE gives it to me.

Read the rest here: Grace for Right Now

Uphill, Both Ways

Yesterday my youngest son, my husband and I unloaded a large rented box truck packed front to back with boxes, furniture and other random things.

We brought it all into the house or stashed it for safekeeping and future sorting in our storage building.

It was-literally-uphill both ways.

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A long, long ramp (which I really hated!) up into the truck and steps and stairs into the house or building. Exhausted is too small a word for how I fell into bed last night.

But we did what we set out to do.

We didn’t quit, we didn’t give up, we didn’t stop until we emptied that truck and safely deposited its contents where they would be sheltered from the rain that started falling sometime early this morning.

It made me think: How often do I stop just short of pushing through something (physical, mental, spiritual or emotional) because it’s hard?

How many times have I looked at the work it would require to dig in, dig deep and finally face a fear or a failing or even a future that looks very different than the one I’d have chosen for myself when all I see is a steep uphill climb?

If I felt the same urgency about those things as I did with a rented truck and impending bad weather I might be more inclined to press on. But usually I console myself with the mantra, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow”.

Trouble is, tomorrow turns into tomorrow into tomorrow until there’s a whole string of days gone by and not one whit of progress toward my goal.

The hills will still be there.

Time won’t change the difficulty of the climb.

Beginning and continuing and refusing to stop is the only way.

This morning I feel beat up, worn down and probably won’t get much done. But I have the satisfaction of knowing yesterday was a victory.

And victories add up over time.

Even small ones. ❤

I Don’t Get To Choose How Life Unfolds


I don’t get to choose.

I don’t get to plan the way life is going to be.

Oh, I bring out the calendar and mark down the days:  birthdays, holidays, special events and obligations.

But then one dark morning a knock stops the clock and makes the world spin faster all at once.

I’m suspended and plunged under in the same breath.

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2016/09/17/not-what-i-had-planned/

Battling Anxiety/Seeking Peace: Strength To Endure

When suffering is time-limited it is often more easily endured.

If I know six weeks of intensive though painful physical therapy will help me regain strength and use of a limb or joint, I can power through.

If restricting calories for a month helps me fit into that dress for a special event, I’m more likely to sacrifice for a short time so the pictures look good.

But if you tell me I’ll hobble around for the rest of my life because there’s nothing to be done about my bad back or crooked joints or you want me to change how I eat for good-well, that’s gonna take more strength than I have on my own.

When I realized-probably sometime near the end of the first year-that the sorrow and missing and pain of burying my son was going to be a burden I carried to my own grave, it was absolutely, utterly soul-crushing.

That’s why Habakkuk’s words resonate with my heart:

I heard and my [whole inner self] trembled; my lips quivered at the sound. Rottenness enters into my bones and under me [down to my feet]; I tremble. I will wait quietly for the day of trouble and distress when there shall come up against [my] people him who is about to invade and oppress them.

17 Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls,

18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation!

19 The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!

Habakkuk 3:16-19 AMP

Habakkuk was a prophet in Israel just before the Babylonians came and wiped out the nation. He knew what was coming and asked God to spare them.

God said no.

No miraculous rescue coming, no divine intervention to prevent destruction, no manna raining down from heaven to stave off starvation.

Israel is going to suffer.

And Habakkuk, though righteous, will suffer too.

Image result for habakkuk 1:6

Habakkuk is not immediately infused with courage and fearlessness: “I heard [what the Lord had to say] and I trembled…” Habakkuk isn’t only afraid, he’s terrified (“rottenness enters my bones”) !!

He’s out of things to do, convinced he must simply wait for whatever is headed his way.

So he sits down and waits.

And in the quiet stillness of waiting, his heart turns to truth.

Even though he will suffer, even though everything he depends on for physical safety may be stripped away, even though destruction and devastation is coming, he begins to meditate on the faithful enduring character of the LORD.

And he rejoices!

Nothing has changed except his focus.

Instead of concentrating on circumstances he is contemplating his Creator.

I admit I focus all too often on circumstances but sometimes it’s practically impossible not to.

Image result for even the wind and waves obey him

Remember the disciples in the boat with Jesus? A storm blew up and was tossing them back and forth all while Jesus slept soundly.

Fear really wasn’t a disproportionate response to a very real and present danger.

When the wind and the waves are high around me, and I realize how powerless I am to do anything about them, fear easily overtakes my heart.

But the disciples were not alone. The One who could calm the storm was in their midst.

The One who can calm MY storm is here with ME.

Image result for isaiah 41 10

Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves and the disciples finished their journey in safety.

God did not save Israel (or Habakkuk) from the Babylonians.

The Lord did not miraculously preserve Dominic’s life and He may not miraculously (or otherwise) save me or my family from the fallout of Covid19.

Image result for el roi

But whether He intervenes or does not, I know He sees me.

I know He loves me.

I know He longs to comfort me and strengthen me.

He IS my “personal bravery and invincible army”.

QUESTIONS:

  • Often Western Christianity focuses on “victory in Jesus” and tends to associate victory with safety or deliverance from uncomfortable or frightening or seemingly impossible circumstances. Habakkuk not only suspected God was not going to avert disaster, he’d been promised disaster was coming. How do YOU interpret “victory in Jesus”? Do these verses give you a different perspective? Why or why not?
  • It’s kind of been a joke that people rushed to stockpile toilet paper during the frenzy surrounding this pandemic. Apparently having enough TP made them feel a little more prepared, a little less frightened. We all have some tangible things that help our hearts stay calm. What are yours?
  • Fear is not a sin. Doubt is not disbelief. It’s perfectly OK to voice your fear, doubt and concern. But if you rest there, if you don’t then turn to truth, you will spiral downward into despair. What practical steps are you taking for yourself and family to keep the truth of Who God is in front of your eyes and foremost in your hearts?
  • For those of us who get our groceries from Walmart, the complete devastation described in Habakkuk may not be evident. Let me paraphrase for a modern audience: “Though the grocery store shelves are empty and there are no tasty snacks left in the fridge, though the last thing I had to eat was only enough to meet my caloric needs but not enough to satiate my appetite, though there is no hope that things will return to normal anytime soon and I may suffer more than I can imagine, I am going to shout for joy because I know God is in control and He has secured my eternal destiny!” Can you take these verses and rewrite them so they are specific to YOUR circumstances?

PRAYER:

Lord,

If I’m honest (and there’s no reason not to be since You already know my heart!), I want to be rescued. I do not want to live through whatever this stupid virus is going to do to my community, my country, the world. I don’t like the thought of weeks of uncertainty, forced isolation, reduced or nonexistent paychecks, figuring out how to keep kids that should be in school occupied and learning.

I hate this!

When I read the headlines or listen to the news, it feeds my fears.

Help me to be like Habakkuk and appropriate the strength You provide so that I will not only endure, but will thrive! Speak courage to my heart when I would falter. Make me stalwart in the face of fear. Teach me to trust You when I would doubt Your lovingkindness.

Be my personal bravery.

Amen

He [Christ] said not, ‘Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be trevailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased,’ but He said, ‘Thou shalt not be overcome.’

Julian of Norwich