Thursday, March 28, 2013

When You’re Struggling through Holy Week (Thursday)

I read Ann Voskamp's When You’re Struggling through Holy Week (Thursday) email devotion tonight and cried. I realized I had been trying all week to just ignore Easter. Yeah, like that was gonna work, right? Sometimes grief simply doesn't make sense and neither do the people who are grieving. *sigh*

I spent all week running at warp speed, trying to outrun the inevitable. It's been the same even with the change of seasons. I want winter to stay. I have fought the coming of spring. Stupid, I know. But the change in seasons, the warmer weather and the bright sunshine, only brings dread to my heart. Dread because those things remind me of summer, which then reminds me of when my precious son died. Again, grief doesn't make sense, but whoever said it did?

The devotion brought great comfort. I am thankful. I am thankful that God has not left me alone. I am thankful for people like Ann who allow God to use them to speak the truth. I am thankful for Jesus - the way, the truth, and the life.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The buffeting winds of grief

I cried in the shower Monday morning. I had been thinking of Matt's birthday coming up. I was picturing having a conversation with no-one in particular, only to realize that I would never be able to say, "I have an 18 year old." *sigh* It never fails to amaze me at how quickly grief throws a punch. It managed to throw another jab, as well, when I did laundry. I had had to pull out the boxes of size 12-14 clothes for Army boy, Matt's brother. I mean, I know he's going to eventually wear them. I just didn't expect it to be quite so soon. It's made me really understand people from the older generations who lost children. Thirty years ago, losing a child was never talked about. Parents and families simply refused to talk about their loss, not ever mentioning their loved one again. I get it now.

And while we talk about Matt every day, seeing his pictures and seeing his younger brother wear his old clothes is painful. It is like having a schoolyard bully, megaphone in hand, blare tauntingly, "Hey, look, he's gone! Remember!?" The bully points out the obvious. It's not a fact that's ever been forgotten, but the bully grief just can't resist the jab. Stuffing one's grief is not healthy and only prolongs the healing process, but I understand more now why people do it.

So while these grief strikes are quick, I know I have "toughened" up a bit. I can take the blow now without being completely knocked out. (At least some of them.) I try to soak myself in the truth as quickly as I can. Truths like "This world is not our home" and "This life is short even if it feels long" and, most powerfully for me, "Matt is alive and I will see him again." There are many that have been my anchor throughout this journey. Since the beginning, one truth in particular that I have clung to is beautifully expressed in the following song by JJ Heller titled "Who You Are."

I have drawn indescribable comfort (and comfort does NOT mean the absence of pain) from knowing that the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY holds me, holds my world and everything in it. How can that be comforting? It's only comforting if you KNOW Him. Do you know Him? Do you know His character? Do you know He is good and all that He does is good? How can I say that? Because I know Him. I thank God every day that I spent the last 14 years studying His word. Really studying His word. It is that Word that has sustained me through one of the darkest times of my life. I may not understand what God is doing, but I know who He is.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Swimming back to shore

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful." 
Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)

For different reasons, it's been a tough week. Been missing my son so very much. The pain is indescribable, yet I struggle continually to define it. I came across a blog the other day of a woman whose 4mo. old baby died, and I finally found the words I'd been searching for for so long. Referring to grief in a post titled, "The Battle of Our Lives," Alison Terhorst states:  
"What I was not prepared for in all of this was the endurance needed to survive this tragedy and simply live.
I am shocked at how much energy it takes just to be, just to live life, just to carry out day to day activities. 
I have come to the point, now, where I am beyond the heart crushing, raw pain of grief, but have entered a new stage of a continual state of dull heart ache at all times. It is like music playing in the background, sometimes you are conscious of it and at other times are you not cognitively aware of it, but it is always there." (Italics mine)

The analogy of grief being like "music playing in the background...always there." That's it. That's what I've been trying to describe what the pain is like now. The only thing is, the music isn't comforting. It's hauntingly bittersweet and the ache penetrates to my bone marrow. It is a constant ache. Sometimes noticeable, sometimes not. But always there.

I got sucked out to sea this week. Swimming back is beyond exhausting, but I hold on to the truth of God's word. It is the lifeline that draws me back to shore. He is faithful and some day my hope will become reality when I finally see my Savior. Until then, He is my strength, my shield, my comforter, my redeemer, and my very great reward. 


Saturday, March 9, 2013


I will cry to God Most High,
To God who accomplishes all things for me.
Psalm 57:2 

After losing a child, fear seeks to establish itself. It becomes a follower, lurking in the shadows, stalking. It waits for opportune moments to ambush. Moments like when one of your other children gets sick, or undergoes surgery. Moments like driving in the vehicle and encountering accident scenes. Moments when you think of the future, of certain situations or scenarios, and wonder how you're going to get through it. (Whatever it is.)

But the LORD does not intend for His children to live in fear. I've heard that the Bible says, "Do not be afraid," "Fear not," and "Do not fear" an estimated 365 times. Interesting, huh? Whether the number is a hundred percent accurate or not really isn't a big issue with me because I tend to be a "big picture" person anyway, and what I get out of that is this: God does not want His children to live in fear.

I think it's accurate to say that fear is conquered by courage. Courage is acting in spite of fear, not the absence of fear. Courage is "taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."(2 Cor. 10:5) Courage is refusing to let your mind go where it wants to go. Courage is choosing not to believe fear's lies. It's choosing to replace fear with the truth.

But I think there's more to it than just courage. I think it boils down to trust. Trusting that the LORD has not left me. Trusting that He is still good. Trusting that He purposes good and not evil for my future and for the future of my family.

I had a 2 1/2 hour drive yesterday with the three youngest children along for the ride. Passing a cemetery, I heard our five year old comment to his three year old brother that cemeteries are for people who died. It broke my heart to hear the conversation. It sucks that my five year old knows what death is. It sucks that he knows what it's like to see a casket lowered into the ground with his big brother's body in it. IT SUCKS!!! What five year old needs to know this or have conversations about it?????? I catch myself at times wondering what the death of my son is doing, or going to do, to his siblings. But I know that is fear talking!

Fear robs a person of peace. Fear does not come from God. God is love, and perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:8,18)  Death and grief have already robbed my family of so much. It is destructive and decimates numerous lives. BUT GOD...But God is my redeemer. He makes all things new. He binds up the broken hearted, saves those who are crushed in spirit, and brings beauty from ashes. This is the one that amazes me the most; beauty from ashes. Have you ever made anything beautiful from ashes? Really, can anything beautiful be made from ashes? Hmm. Makes me think. If this is what God says He will do, then am I going to believe it? Am I going to kick fear in the face and allow the LORD to work on my sorrow-filled heart, to bring healing and beauty from what looks unsalvageable and impossible? These moments of fear bring me to my Redeemer. For that, I am thankful. I certainly have no idea what it's going to look like, BUT GOD does.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Comfort for the weary

I've said from the beginning of our grief journey that I refuse to believe God will not bring healing. How that healing would look like and what shape it would take, I did not know. The journey is dark and there is no road map. But there is a guide. A guide who has gone before you, who knows the way. I have spent many days being carried along the way. Other days spent dragging myself along. And still others crawling slowly, painfully up the trail. Days where I wobbled along, stumbling like a toddler. Days spent falling down, but picking myself back up, the guide always right beside me, lending His hand. Long days limping along, stepping gingerly. Finally, days of careful, steady walking. The journey is most assuredly, as GriefShare says, much longer than anyone anticipates.

It's a road that imparts lessons along the way, as well. Learning that some people are just too uncomfortable with your loss, thinking that maybe your "bad luck" will rub off on them. Knowing that still others just don't get why you're not "over it' already. Grief is more than messy. It's also lonely. Feeling a bit weary lately of walking this road, I opened my inbox to find the following email. What a blanket of comfort and affirmation as I read. I pray I am not the only one blessed by Ann's post.