Posts Categorized: faith

Grieving with Hope: Painting my son’s room

Turn the Page:

Today is a hard day to turn. I don’t feel particularly sad, just unsure. Lord reveal your purpose for today. Amen

This is one more large day without Jonathan. We are painting Daniel’s room today and maybe that is harder than I originally thought it would be. We will be honoring Jonathan’s place in Daniel’s life in some spectacular ways. . . Ah, there are the tears. Jonathan’s presence will still be there. I kept their growth chart in their room. I’m going to take a picture of it before we paint over it.

Oh my there is the depth of my ache. I miss you so much my sweet man! “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always . As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be! ” I used to sing that to Jonathan from the book I’ll Love You Forever. He loved it, and sang it to me not long before he died.

Many of you may be familiar with the story. I remember my first read through I was a bit disturbed by the mother climbing through her adult son’s room and rocking him in her arms as she sang her song, but I understood the heart of the image. As Jonathan pulled away from me towards the end I held him in my heart, and prayed for him, and longed for security for him.

What I was not familiar with was the fact that the author wrote the book as a memorial to two still born babies he and his wife had. Even as we grieve, love, hope, life and celebration can occur. Even if we have but a moment, or no moment at all to say goodbye.

Isaiah 66:12 For thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,
and bounced upon her knees.
13As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
14You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bones shall flourish like the grass;
and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants,
and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.

Knowing God: What Job learned about God’s character.

Job 42: 1-3, 5 Then Job replied to the Lord: I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. . . My ears have heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.

At the end of the book of Job, Job’s reply sums up all he has learned about the God of the universe.

1. God’s plans will not be thwarted!
2. There are simply some things God does that I will not understand.
3. God is not distant, he is personal!

I am convinced that the God of the universe wants us to know him. Don’t be afraid to ask God the tough questions. Here are some of mine.

1. If your plan for me is good, then why do bad things keep happening?
2. Do I have free will if you are up there calling the shots?
3. If you are a just God, then why is there so much injustice in my life?
4. What is your purpose for my life?
5. Where are you in the midst of a world that hurting and in need of you?

My heavenly father has take the time to answer each of my questions! He has not been intimidated by, nor upset that I asked. Sometimes he has answered directly and quickly. At other times he has taken years in answering me. He spent a lot of time working through my very off notions of what His justice is. If he had not taken the depth of time to reveal his identity, then I would have thrown in the towel when Jonathan died! What has happen instead is that the enemy has made me dependent upon Christ!

Don’t be afraid to ask God questions. He wants you to know him, and accept him for who he is, not who we want him to be. Blessings upon you today!

Suffer Like It Means Something: Allowing God’s purpose to be revealed in my seizures

Turn the Page: Sunday Edition

2nd Corinthians 1:3-7 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

What an amazing passage! We do not suffer alone. What an precious gift your friendship is to my family and I. Learning to comfort in our affliction means that we look beyond our circumstances to God’s purpose in our sufferings. I share in Christ’s sufferings, but I also share in his comfort. As an added bonus I get to share that comfort with you.

When the seizures started yesterday morning I begged God to take them away. I thought that they had stopped completely several years ago and their return was more then I could bear. “Even in this, I have a purpose.” Was God’s answer to me. I have to decide if I trust him with that purpose. Do we look at our weaknesses as afflictions or God’s opportunity to work in and through us?

One of my favorite women is Joni Eareckson Tada. At tie age of 17 she broke her neck in a diving accident and became a quadriplegic. Does she suffer? Definitely! But oh what she is allowing God to do with that suffering. Painting with her teeth, ensuring that others get the wheelchairs they need, speaking, singing, writing, and serving God in whatever way he calls her to.

So God has a purpose in my seizures! May Jesus comfort you in my affliction that you may not grow weary in your own sufferings. Hugs and encouragement to all of you. I’d much rather give those hugs in person, but will be staying home to rest. I love you dearly!

Keeping Secrets: Living for the pleasure of God not Man

Matthew 6:5 And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

What is just between God and I? Developing the sacred, in a world where it modeled day in and day out that everything is lived out in the open, can be difficult. I’m not sure that the Kardashians have much that isn’t public. Because of Jonathan’s death, I am getting the opportunity to share my faith a bit more publically. But, to truly value God and our relationship with him, there must be things that are shared only with him.

So why should I develop the sacred, even as I am being transparent with you as I walk through grief?

1. Am I looking to please God or man? (vs.1)
2. Where do I want my reward to come from? (vs. 6)
3. The enemy is unable to penetrate this bond! (Lord’s Prayer)

When the enemy comes to attack us, and he will, we stand firm because there is nothing that separates us from God’s love! When Satan offers earthly rewards they will seem like nothing, when he offers me food I can say the food I eat is to do the will of my father. When the enemy tries to stir up unforgiveness, I can state that I forgive because I am forgiven! I declare to you that is possible to know the will of the Father, just as Jesus did. Jesus was spelling it out in chapter 6 to us.

Pray like God’s voice and his will are the only that matters. Serve others like they are Christ before you. And know that heavenly treasures are far better than anything we could be given on earth. We develop a relationship with God in secret so that our focus is on him, and that he is a source, not man.

Just The Right Words: Learning to Tame the Tongue

Turn the Page: James 3:7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.

Have you ever had guests come to the door and greeted them with the most pleasant of words when moments earlier you were screaming at your kids? Or gossiping with a neighbor about someone that you don’t like and when the person shows up you are suddenly so happy to see them?

I confess to you that I have had these moments. I don’t like this sinful part of me! Scripture calls the tongue a rudder, directing the rest of our body. And Paul declares that I can’t tame it! “It is a restless evil filled with deadly poison.” (vs. 8) So what hope is there for us if we cannot tame our tongues?

Paul states: 17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Just like the disciples went from using their tongue unwisely to using them for good, we can become wise with our tongues. The disciples spent three years hanging out with the God of the universe who chose to limit himself to be with us! What flowed out of the heart of Jesus was what Paul is describing in verse 17 and 18. “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:45) Controlling the tongue does not mean that you have to stop talking; it simply means that your tongue is directed by your Christ developing character. Wisdom is gained by focusing on what is pure, loving peace, being considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. So at this moment I take inventory of what is in my heart and I spend time with Jesus allowing him to fill me up with his love, grace, and mercy. Only Christ can tame our tongues by filling our hearts with his love for humanity.

Guided by the Comforter: Learning to listen to God’s voice

Acts 4:31And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.

Daniel wanted Jonathan to be a part of Halloween. So we took the huge poster that the funeral home created and stuck it in the window with a talk bubble. I had to smile at Daniel’s insistence, and that my spirit so readily agreed to it. I’ve had more of those moments this week. A calmness has infused my being that certainly wasn’t there a week ago. I have no illusion that I am no where near the end of grieving, but what is happening is that I am having more and more moments of genuine joy. It was a pleasure to take the kids trick or treating.

Even though the disciples had Jesus back for forty days, they still had to grieve the loss of their friend after he ascended to heaven. But boy the difference in how they grieved. They went from locking themselves in a room and hiding away to praying together, celebrating the resurrection and waiting for the comforter (the Holy Spirit) to come. They didn’t have to wait long before things began moving and shaking. The Comforter had arrived!

In my previous posts I have mentioned that I am allowing the Holy Spirit to lead me. This isn’t rocket science, but it also isn’t simple either. Just like the disciples we need to spend time with Jesus, get to know his voice, his character, and his love for humanity. Otherwise, we will may find ourselves being guided by our own selfish desires or the voices of others who do not have our best interests in mind. These voices will always lead us away from God. I love the song of Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns, it describes the struggle we have with knowing the Shepherd’s voice. Since I was a little girl I’ve had a lot of voices in my head (don’t laugh, unless you’re my siblings) and the loudest was my overpowering, obnoxious critic. Nothing I did or ever could do was good enough. It got to the point that I stopped trying and quit a lot of things I actually enjoyed.

A couple of year ago I really began asking, ‘How do I know God’s voice?’ My question sprung from John 10:27 Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” I began discerning what the Holy Spirit sounded like and practicing stepping out in faith and acting upon that voice’s direction. Amazing things began to happen, and a power that I had never been able to tap into began surging through my spirit. Following the direction of the Holy Spirit takes practice and a solid knowledge of the other parts of the Trinity. I’m still learning and growing in this area, but since Jonathan’s death, the fear that had once held me back from trusting the Holy Spirit’s direction and acting on it is getting kicked out.

I had a bit of fear when I approached a complete stranger on the prompting of the Lord. I held back, but the urging became even stronger, and she kept looking at the books I had on the table as she waited for her coffee. I felt awkward, but managed to introduce myself and a new connection was born, very much in line with the previous connections that God has been forming since Jonathan’s death.

Here is the criteria that I follow:
1. The voice of the Holy Spirit will never contradict the other parts of the Trinity (revealed in scripture).
2. I will never have to rush in, or be impulsive, the Lord is not limited by time.
3. The Holy Spirit will always be affirmed. (Example: The woman at the coffee shop thought that we might be in the same field)
4. Pray and be open each day.
5. The Holy Spirit always has humanity’s best in mind. He will strengthen us and bring the resources for us to help others.

Building Connections: Placing ourselvers where the action is!

Mark 5:28For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.”

Once again the coffee shop has proven to be a place of connection. I go there once a week to make myself available to anyone who needs to talk to or pray. I’m not normally there on Wednesdays, but had to switch days. A friend met me and as we talked and prayed the woman behind us was listening. We got up to leave, but our booth neighbor stopped us and asked for help with her own family situation. We prayed with her and exchanged contact information.

Are we putting ourselves in places where synchronicity can happen? Synchronicity, is defined as: the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection. I define it as those moments when we make ourselves available to the will of God and all of heaven moves to meet us! Since Jonathan’s death I have had many of these synchronicity moments. There has been a consistent theme in my life of children’s homes, horse therapy and counseling training. I do not know what God has in store for all of these connections, but he most certainly is bringing the outline of my path into clearer focus and brought heavenly resources to me.

Jesus put himself smack dab in the middle of the action! He was at the docks where the fishermen were casting their nets, he was in the village square where the Samaritan woman drew from her well at an unusual time of the day. He was in the garden, where God himself met with him through prayer. He was in the Jewish temples where the teaching occurred. He was at the parties, at the tables, and available in the middle of the needs of the people. He moved ever closer to Jerusalem as he ministered, ever closer to his death, and ever closer to providing for the entire world its need for forgiveness and hope.

Maybe synchronicity is occurring because I refuse to let fear stop me. Or, maybe it is because my mission is to offer hope, and turn around the suicide rate. Whatever God’s purpose, I am hopeful and in awe of his storehouse of resources! Jonathan loved the movie A-Team. Hannibal, the leader of the team says, “Love it when a plans coming together!” Even though all of the events seem random and impossible.

When we make ourselves available to God’s plan, he’ll move all heaven to equip you! No, you may not be trying to drive a tank in the sky, like the A-Team, but you may walk on water!

Questions and Doubts

Luke 7:20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’”

Yesterday was a particularly rough day for Daniel at home and at school. As we began trying to dig past the bad behaviors to what was going on in his heart Daniel started blurting out a series of doubts and deep questions. The same questions and doubts I still struggle with. If Jesus took all our sins away why do we still sin? If I love Jesus why can’t I seem to do good? If you and the adults in my life love me, why do you punish me. If Jesus loved Jonathan, why did Jonathan die? He concluded, “It would be easier to obey, if Jesus was here and I could see him.”

John who had been preparing the way for Jesus to come asked “Are you the one, or should we expect someone else?” He’s sitting in prison, awaiting execution because the wife of Herod wants John dead. It would be a natural question for someone who has spent his entire life preparing for Jesus. At its core, if I obey God, why am I facing death?

Many of us have these very same questions. We wonder why do bad things continue to plague us, we wonder if God and those around us really love us. If you struggle with depression, you wonder why living is so hard. I struggle every day with why Jonathan took his own life. I see it as so preventable and sometimes I too am overwhelmed by my questions and doubts. So what hope is there when we have so many doubts and questions?

Luke21-3 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” John the Baptist, took that hope and did not give in to his doubts as he faced death. Even if that path leads through dark places like Jonathan’s death, I still see him laying a foundation for me to offer healing and hope to others who are grieving. Am I going to be offended by who Jesus is? He is patient with my questions and doubts. Do not lose heart Daniel, do not lose heart dear reader!

What the Woods Teach Me

Turn the Page:
Matthew 6:27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

My writing retreat was yesterday. Problem is, when I attempted to start my computer all I had was a blank screen. Now what? I pulled out my notebook to write and managed a page, but then crickets. Has it seriously been that long since I’ve written on paper that I have forgotten how?

I decided to take a walk in the unusual October warmth and read scripture as I walked. The retreat center has a twelve step prayer walk, so I decided to head into the woods and walk the path.

My brother, sister, and I spent a lot of time in the woods at my grandparents home. The sweet fragrance of Fall as I crunched through the leaves beneath my feet and the breeze through the trees took me back to childhood. The woods were a place of stillness for me. I was aware of the sounds around me, but time, well that was another matter. Time only existed as the sun began to set.

Now as an adult the woods have a calming effect. All of the anxiousness that I was feeling as I began my day, slipped away in the perfect provision of Christ. The deer I heard off to my right is provided for. The soil is replenished with the leaves the tree gives up. Seeds are planted to hide away during winter and wait for their reveal in Spring. The breeze prunes the dead branches and I stood at each prayer station aware of God’s provision for me.

God has a storehouse ready to supply my daily needs. He replenishes my soul, and he prunes the dead parts of my life. He sits with me in the woods and teaches me to just be.

Lashing out in Anger

Things are a bit raw between my husband and I right now. When struggling with grief it can get easier to slip back into old habits or lash out at those you love. So how in the world do we keep perspective in our hurt and anger, and remember that the other person is in grief and process too? Here are some verses that may help:

Proverbs 16:32
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that rules his spirit than he that takes a city.

Ephesians 4:25-31 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and give no opportunity to the devil. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Ephesians 4:1-3 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

If we have unity of the Spirit then when we hurt others in that unit we also are hurting ourselves. In the military a unit fights as one. If there is strife, and anger towards one another then your guard is down to the real enemy.

Brian and I learned early in our marriage that as long as we looked at each other as the enemy that we would get no where. But, as we began allowing Christ to be the center of our lives and marriage we began to become a unit, placing the problems outside of each other and crushing the devil’s schemes together.

Thank you Lord for giving me these verses to calm my wounded soul and give me a renewed focus on who I am fighting. The devil wants to crush both Brian and I. Give me the strength to guard his heart and mind as he heals from the wounds of losing Jonathan. Keep my tongue from coming into agreement with the devil. Amen

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