I Will Not Let Death Win!

I’m not brave by nature.

If I have a choice, I will run every time.  But there are just some things worth fighting for.

My family is one of them.

I will not let the enemy have them.

I will not allow despair to overtake us, fear to bind us, hopelessness to sap our strength.

I will not let death win.

Read the rest here: I Will Not Be Moved

If Not, He’s Still God

It’s a hard, hard lesson to learn.

It’s even harder to carry it like a precious burden in the bosom of your heart.  

Because while it is oh, so true, it does not take away the pain when circumstances just don’t change no matter how hard you pray, how long you endure or how much you wish they would.  

God’s ways are not my ways.  His thoughts are not my thoughts.  He is not required to fit into whatever box I wish to place Him. 

Read the rest here: And If Not, He’s Still God.

He Is The God Who Stays

I’ll be sharing more soon but let’s just say I’ve had more than a few moments in the past couple of weeks when I could have felt abandoned and forgotten.

And if I’m honest, some of the people I thought would be most likely to come alongside have been nowhere to be found.

But God’s Presence has been very real to me even then.

I talk a lot about Jesus as my Shepherd King because it’s one of the most precious images I have of the One who loves me, who saved me and who carries me every day of my life.

The thing about a shepherd is that he never walks away.

He never says, “Oh, well! I’ll just leave that wayward or injured sheep to her fate. I’m tired of looking for her, going after her and tending to her needs.”

Never. Ever.

He is absolutely, positively the God Who Stays.

❤ Melanie

God is the Faithful Father watching and waiting with open arms for the Prodigal to return.

He will weave even the darkest and most tangled threads of my life into a beautiful, redeemed tapestry if I let Him.

He’s the God who stays.

Read the rest here: The God Who Stays

Until Then-Stories of Loss and Hope

I was asked awhile back to be part of a project shepherded by fellow parents-in-loss, Laura and Gary House (https://ourheartsarehome.org/).

They wanted to gather and publish stories from other child loss survivors in hopes of encouraging hearts and strengthening the faith of parents facing the unimaginable.

I don’t mind saying that in spite of all I’ve written in this space for the past seven (!) years, it was challenging to distill my thoughts about that night, the days that followed and my own faith journey since into a single chapter.

But I, and a dozen other parents, did just that.

In our own words we tell our stories. We share our struggles and our triumphs. We write honestly about how our faith was challenged and how it carried us through.

Every chapter was written by a parent who has a child (or children) in Heaven. Several chapters were written by dearly loved and greatly admired friends.

One chapter is mine in which I share Dominic’s story.

It was a long process but I’m happy to report that the book is now available on Amazon!

Eleven different chapters full of heartache, hope and help written BY bereaved parents FOR bereaved parents (and those who love them).

Until Then: Stories of Loss and Hope would be a blessing to any bereaved parent, to friends and family of bereaved parents (to help them understand the journey) and also to ministry leaders who will, at one time or another, be in a position to shepherd and counsel bereaved parents.

This is a labor of love.

All proceeds above production costs go to ministry to bereaved parents, not the authors.

Consider purchasing a copy or two for yourself or as a gift. ❤

Thankful Jesus Is The Peace Speaker

In the midst of a difficult week, we got some disturbing news that had the potential to make it even worse.

My fleshly response was to go down rabbit trails of “what if” and “why us”. But I know from experience that is a fruitless exercise.

So I literally took a deep breath, reminded my heart that in every storm we’d faced, our Shepherd King had been there. He had never abandoned nor forsaken us.

This storm would be no different.

It might be rough (probably will be). It might be frightening (most certainly). It might even end with hopes dashed or worse.

But no matter what, He is here. He speaks peace when all seems lost.

We are safe in His hands.

❤ Melanie

Life is full of storms.

Some are outside myself and others start in the secret corners of my own heart.

All of them make me wish for quiet and calm, peaceful waters where I can sail the ship of life and not worry about sinking beneath the waves.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the  world gives... - SermonQuotes

When I’m afraid I remind myself that Jesus is the Peace Speaker.

Read the rest here: Sea Of Love And Goodness

Journaling My Doubts and Finding My Way Back Home

When I was asked a few years ago to speak to a group of hospice care workers, I titled the presentation “Lifting the Veil on Grief”.

One of the topics I covered was how experiencing the death of a loved one-especially out-of-order or untimely death- can cause even the staunchest believer to doubt.

And the first thing I said was, “Doubt in the face of overwhelming sorrow and hard circumstances is absolutely normal.  But doubt is NOT disbelief.”

So often friends, family, clergy, social workers and others want to steer hearts away from doubt because they are afraid that entertaining questions or expressing disappointment in God will always lead to someone losing faith.

That is untrue.

Read the rest here: Doubt Is Not Denial: Journaling My Way Home

Holy Week 2022: Living Between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection

It is tempting to forget that there were three long days and nights between the crucifixion and the resurrection beause the way we observe this season rushes us past the pain to embrace the promise.

But it’s not hard for me to imagine how the disciples felt when they saw Jesus was dead.  It was neither what they expected nor what they prayed for.

There were many points in the story when things could have gone a different way:

  • When taken by the religious leaders-surely, they thought, He will explain Himself, they will let Him go.
  • When taken before Pilate-Rome will refuse to get involved with our spiritual squabbles, Pilate won’t authorize His death.
  • When presented to the crowd-no Jew would rather have a wicked murderer released instead of a humble, healing Rabbi.

At every turn, every expectation they had for a “happy ending” was dashed to the ground.

Read the rest here:  Living Between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection

Lenten Reflections: Making Space For Vulnerability

I picked this book up on a whim sometime last year not knowing how wonderful and insightful and helpful it would be as I hurtle toward the eight year mark of Dom’s leaving for Heaven.

Yet every single day when I turn the page to the next discussion and reflection there is a fresh awakening in my spirit to something I need to explore.

I understand how a heart wants to wall itself off after prayers go unanswered (please don’t regale me with, “But they are all eventually answered”); plans fall apart; others’ sinful actions pound a soul to dust; and lives sacrificially poured out on the table of service are abruptly and unceremoniously cut short.

Why hope if hope is never realized (on this mortal plane)?

In this, Jesus’ actions, words and attitude during Holy Week help me choose another path.

The crowd that welcomed Him turned against Him a few days later. The apostles that promised fidelity unto death ran away. Judas ate the sacred meal with betrayal in his heart.

And yet Jesus remained present to the moment. He accepted events as they came. He welcomed people as they were.

And He trusted His Father even when the cup was too bitter for Him to raise it to His own lips.

I have had to make the choice again and again to hold tightly to the Hand that could have saved my child but didn’t.

There may be some among my friends who never share this struggle-I’m genuinely happy for you.

But that’s not me. Some days I can pray with confidence.

Some days I can’t pray at all.

But I’m working hard not to let go.

Crazily enough, favor is not what frees us from self-protection: suffering is. Not suffering itself, but the choice within suffering to trust, to hope and to love….Today, ask the Holy Spirit to alert you when you are shrinking back from God.

Alicia Britt Chole

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

Lenten Reflections: Letting Go of Avoidance and Choosing to Engage

Uncertainty is quite revealing. The unknown triggers different reactions in different hearts and exposes our souls’ defaults. Ambiguity reveals where we instinctively go to feel the illusion of security again.

Alicia Britt Chole

Wow! Can I identify with this!

One of the things I’ve learned in this life I didn’t choose is that the earthquake of child loss revealed all the weak spots in my character and my faith.

When faced with uncertainty and lack of control, I desperately want to bring order to my wildly disordered world.

But faith (real faith) requires I be willing to embrace mystery.

I have got to face the FACT that I do not understand everything God is doing or allowing. I can’t pretend it’s not happening.

I can’t ignore the discomfort the unknown births in my soul.

Avoidance is never a long-term solution in any relationship-not my relationship with the Lord or my relationship with others.

Today, pay attention to avoidance mechanisms that surface when you face the unknown, unknowable, uncomfortable, or unavoidable…Ask God’s Holy Spirit to sensitize you today to the existence of avoidance defaults in your life. Prayerfully consider what beliefs might underlie any avoidance that emerges when you are facing uncertainty.

Alicia Britt Chole

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

Wrestling Toward Trust: Access the Truth

Have you ever walked away from a conversation and thought, “My goodness! I talked WAY too much”?

I have.

I can become so wrapped up in sharing my own experience, spilling my own feelings, trying to communicate my own point of view that I don’t leave space for the other person to get a word in edgewise.

Sometimes I do the same thing when talking to God-I can’t stop chattering long enough to hear what He wants to speak into my pain.

When I choose to listen, He is faithful to remind me of truth. He is faithful to lead me to the green pastures of His word where I can feast on His promises and be filled with hope.

❤ Melanie

“I wake before the morning light.  Every. single. morning.

I get my coffee, sit in my chair and wait for sunrise.

I never worry that today it might not happen.

I’m never concerned that after all these years of faithfulnessthis day may be the one where daylight fails to make an appearance.

There is no fear in this darkness because I know it will not last forever.

Morning is coming.

Morning. Is. Coming.

And that’s the hope I cling to in this longer darkness of the Valley of the Shadow of Death-no matter how many years it may bethe Valley has an end.

Read the rest here: Trust After Loss: Access the Truth

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