Monday, September 30, 2013

It's Not Fair

It's Not Fair

It's not fair I have to live the rest of my life without my child.
It's not fair my children have to live the rest of their lives without their brother.
It's not fair my children have to deal with a broken mother.
It's not fair I have to be the parent who lost a child.
It's not fair I can't have graduations with, and a wedding for, my son.
It's not fair that I will never have grandchildren of my son's.
It's not fair that grief can come unannounced and uninvited at any moment and stay for as long as it wants.
It's not fair that grief still visits two years later.
It's not fair that somehow I get to be the unofficial spokesperson for grief and how to handle it well. (HA. Isn't that a riot?)
It's not fair that I'm a part of a club I didn't want to be a part of and didn't ask to join.
It's not fair.
It's all so damn not fair.

I wish with all my heart that this wasn't true, that my son was still here. I need to know God is here with me. I need to know I'm going to make it. I need to know my kids are going to be o.k. I need to know I can count on God. I don't want to keep asking, “God, why did you do this?” I want to know that faith is real. I want to finish the race. (Though I don't see the finish line.)

I wish it were easier, but it's not. I wish I could do this myself, but I can't. I wish it didn't hurt so bad, but it does. I wish I weren't so weak, but I am.

I need help, and I got it. I got it yesterday when Tim and I went to the One Bright Star Memorial service and sat amongst a hundred other bereaved parents. I got it last week when we participated in the Angel Walk. I got it when we attended GriefShare and Compassionate Friends and met other people who understood. I got it each and every time someone listened when I talked about Matt. I got it every time someone spoke Matt's name. I got it when I woke up every morning of these past 794 days and saw my other children and heard their voices. I got it when God sent me a foreign exchange student named David. I got it every time I heard a song that ministered to my broken heart. I got it every time I read and heard God's word.

He is here alright. He is real. He knows. And though this process is painful and feels unending, His grace is sufficient, His power is made perfect in my weakness, and His strength is abundant. I am not alone. It is as Job 23:10 says, ““But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold." He is with me.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Bitter or better?

Just over two years ago I left one son buried in a grave, and Sunday night I left another *son at college. Two completely different griefs, yet both a grief of separation; one son separated by eternity and the distance between Heaven and earth, the other son separated by geographic location and budding adulthood. Whoever would have thought it possible to experience such grief, and yet such joy simultaneously?

My heart is in a precarious state. I wrestle with my thoughts, longing to unite my firm faith in God with my tentative trust in Him. My head knows that, as the worship song in church on Sunday stated, "He is mighty to save," but my heart and life experience knows that sometimes He doesn't. I am left with trying to reconcile those eighteen inches from my head to my heart.

It's all too easy to entertain bitter thoughts when these "milestone" moments arise. It's a temptation I wish I didn't have to face, but I wouldn't be honest if I said they didn't exist. I recognize them easily enough, and I know that they are really a choice to scorn thankfulness and a determined decision to focus on what I don't have. It's just another opportunity to choose between being bitter or better. 

Has your loss made you bitter or better? Getting to a place of acceptance isn't easy, but it's necessary in order to live a life that honors your loved one's memory. I've "met" many bereaved parents online through reading their blogs. It doesn't take long to know which ones are bitter. I am sad for them. Sad because they have rejected the comfort God gives. I understand this, though. There have been many times along this journey that I, too, didn't want to be comforted and pushed His hand away. But I also know that if I stay in the corner licking my wounds, not allowing the Great Physician to do His work, it also means that healing won't happen. If I am bitter, it does not honor my son or his memory. I can't live with that option. I refuse to do that.

In grappling with bitterness I have sought to find it's remedy. Bitterness is only conquered by thankfulness. Bitterness focuses on what has been lost, but thankfulness focuses on what remains. It's not easy, either, because reminders of loss remain constant. You don't get used to your loss. You learn to live with it. You accept it because there is no other choice. The searing pain that used to take your breath away and knock you unconscious eventually becomes just a catch in your throat. Scar tissue, thick and ugly, takes the place of the scab.

Giving thanks, like grief, takes work. It requires humility and transparency before God and a submission to His Sovereignty. When the hurt is overwhelming, it's not easy to do. But bitterness will never lead to healing. Bitter sees only what isn't. Better comes when we look ahead and choose to give thanks. Bitter or better? I want better.      

*son - Our Brazilian exchange student who came to live with us last year and has stayed to attend college. (He was birthed in my heart.) ;)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A glimpse of their grief

I went to correct my nine year old daughter's school work this afternoon and saw this:

Really sucks. In a split second, grief stepped in and took a seat at my table. I wish I could take away my kids' pain. Instead, all I can do is cry with them, listen when they want to talk, and pray for the LORD to comfort them.

Friday, September 20, 2013

When you don't trust God

I got this in my inbox last week. A bit of needful encouragement as it relates perfectly with the struggle I've faced lately: My Utmost for His Highest Devotion - Going Through Spiritual Confusion. Oddly enough, what came to my mind, of all things, was the quote from C.S. Lewis's book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:(The quote references Aslan, the lion, who represents Jesus.)

 “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” 

The past several weeks have been spent wrestling with the question, "Do I still trust God?" After being taken through things I don't understand (the loss of my son), I'm left feeling afraid. Afraid of God. Afraid of being hurt like this again. I'm just not sure I can trust God any more. He's hurt me so deeply. Yet He is Sovereign. He is good. He is my Savior. My faith is in Him, though my trust has been shaken to the core. I've been afraid to admit it, too. But He beckons me to come to Him with these fears, these doubts, and this difficulty. I don't understand why the LORD, in His Sovereignty, has allowed such a deep, devastating hurt.

It's been many long, strenuous-filled weeks, but Sunday was a step forward. I sat in church listening to a group of about 30 men sing and tell their stories of how they're overcoming drug and alcohol addiction through being enrolled in the MN Adult and Teen Challenge program. These are brave men who have faced their past honestly, and who, with courage and hope in the LORD, are moving forward. They're trusting God to redeem some pretty horrible choices, mistakes, and abuses in their lives. As these men were sharing their stories, I was hit with the realization that they, and their lives, will show others what God can do. God is taking the broken, ugly, horrific circumstances of their lives and creating a breathtaking mosaic. Then it struck me. That's what He can do with mine. If I let Him. If I trust Him.

Hebrews 10:31 says, "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God." The question now is, "Am I going to ruled by fear or will I trust Love?" ("...God is love." 1 John 4:8) Jesus Christ, who died for me, is waiting patiently with outstretched arms for me to trust Him. Tragedy can cause even a righteous man like Job to question God. It's not wrong to question the LORD, but it is wrong to not submit to His authority, and to put ourselves in His place.

Job starts out well by saying, "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”(Job 2:10b) But as Job's trial continues and he grows weary of pain and grief, wishing he had never been born, God reminds him of who He is. He puts Job in his place and basically tells him that He is God and Job is not. He reminds Job that He is the Creator and Job is the created.(Isaiah 29:16, 45:9) He is God Almighty, and I am not. 

I don't know how God is going to redeem this sorrow or how He can bring beauty from ashes. But that's okay. Because all I have to do is bring Him the pieces and trust Him to create a masterpiece. Praying that I would trust the Creator.

Friday, September 13, 2013


I've been really struggling again, but it's not with the question of why or how. It's with the question of what. What's true? What is the purpose of life? What is the point of all this? What if it's (heaven, eternity) not all true? What if God's promises aren't real?

Whew. Talk about doubt. Grief's first cousin is doubt. It's one thing I didn't do much of before. Doubt. My trust in God used to come so easily before. Now, I'm not so sure. It's much more of a battle to defeat doubt, and faith is much more of a fight to keep. Yet, I am so relieved that none of it matters! None of my doubt changes God at all. He is still who He says He is. He can still do what He says He will do. I am still who He says I am.

He says He is able. He says He is trustworthy. He says He cannot lie. He says He is love. He says there is purpose. He says He knows. He says He sees. He says faith is believing without seeing. He says He is faithful. He says I am redeemed. I am chosen and dearly loved. He says I am sealed and no one, not even myself or my doubt, can take me from His hand. When I don't have the strength to hold on, He does. He upholds me. He restores me. He forgives me.  He is with me.

I heard this song for the first time this week, too. Perfect timing.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Just not a good day

The water heater went out last night, so I didn't get a shower this morning (or any hot water, for that matter, for anything else). I also woke with a sore throat (always due to lack of sleep). On top of that, within one minute of his rising this morning, I had to tell the four year old to go back to bed until he was ready to come out cheerful. And if that's not enough, grief decided to stage an ambush. Then, to mess things up even further, I had to be out of the house to take Sweet Stuff (15yo.) to her french class.

On the way home from dropping her off, I heard the song "Never Let Go" by the David Crowder Band. I pulled into the driveway as it played and gave in to the wave of grief, crying for the almost five minutes it took for the song to play. The repetition of the lyrics was something I didn't realize I desperately needed to hear.

I'd had a heavy heart since last night when Matt's 6yo. brother came to me and said he missed his brother. While I am so thankful that 1) he remembers his brother and 2) he's secure enough to come and talk to us about it, seeing him hurt, coupled with the fact that I can't take it away, pains me deeply.

I was greeted by a cheerful 4yo., however, when I walked back in the door, all due to the amazing 13yo. sister he has. She was making colored pancakes for him. There is grace and mercy and blessings on this road of grief as well...and for that, I am thankful. He never lets go. 


Friday, September 6, 2013


I wonder how I can still be so surprised every time God speaks to my heart. It just makes me love Him all the more. Last week, just when I wondered how I could go on, Ann Voskamp's blog post came to my inbox. This time, she shared the words of Joni Eareckson Tada. I cried through reading it. Once again, the message of courage. Courage to go forward. Courage to run to my Abba Father with every one of my hurts. When we are courageous and step out in faith, He steps in.