Manger Alter

Ramen Noodles were a mothers desperate attempt at feeding her child who could not keep food down. It was a favorite food. I did not understand how much my heart was entangled in this simple pleasure until my husband asked if he could donate it to the food bank. He had no idea I had purchased the unopened package for Jonathan until I choked out the words.

It sat in my Lazy Susan for two years. How my heart aches! To give voice to my pain, to identify my sorrow, is an opportunity to let go of anything that hinders me from pressing forward. I have been deeply hindered this Christmas. The constant abscess of grief is wearing my spirit to rags.  So, after having Brian check the expiration date–do Ramen Noodles ever expire? –I offered it to my king (laughter is good medicine) and asked that it may bless the belly of the hungry soul who receives it.

What is sitting in your Lazy Susan this year? Can you let go?

 

Too much

I’m angry today. Angry that you aren’t here laughing with me.

Lord, I cry out to you! Fill my heart with your love. I need you, the heartache is too much!

45 MINUTES OF MISSING YOU

Blue Men and Women

conducted a BOLD LETTER search

for the little sheep hiding amid the pride of lions

while the mother feared she had been devoured

Layers of loss struggled to hope

Squawks of Marco

Polo volleyed

Until the hunters exhausted of the game

Silence

ticked by until the question must be asked

Is it time?

Almost, the faint reply

The vibration of a kindred searcher woke

the mother from her fears

“I have her”

relief rushed to restore order

She was laughing amongst lions

Oblivious of danger

Nor fragile with fear

Hope Planted in the Soil of Grief

Children’s laughter

echoes Spring into

the window of my wintered heart.

Never quite thawed, never

shaking myself of the death that keeps my hands

cold.

I cannot bring to life that which I long for

I resurrect dreams until they are nightmares

and hold tight, until Edgar Allen Poe is not quite

so frightening.

Yet, I cannot spring to life that which I long for

Not quite a year since you were planted in

soil that would bear no fruit.

Yet I refuse a baron field

Death is filled with stubborn seeds of potential

I tend the garden of my grief

until Winter loosens its grip and I reap a good harvest of hope

that will warm my soul.

Jarritos Memories

A bottle of memories

Sparkling with your laughter, sipped

slowly by my broken heart.

Silly sombrero on your head,

Inviting life with your dimpled smile

as cheeks puff to blow out candles.

I walk by the Mexican soda at the grocery store

and you make my sorrow smile.

I Don’t Need Fifty Shades Of Grey: Just Give Me One-Of-A-Kind Black And White Love

I have had enough shades of grey in my life, it has left me lost, confused, afraid, and depressed. Seems to me that our world keeps trying to sell us cheap grey imitations of love when what we crave is black and white love! I have only found that kind of crisp, clear love in one place–the arms of my heavenly father. It may have involved a cross, but that was his choice for me, and again added depth and dimension to my life that is like nothing I have ever felt before. Agape love is unconditional, and it is something I can count on for a lifetime! Jesus’ love enables me to reach beyond my grief, to hold you, encourage you, and to keep writing my story no matter what. God’s love is not stored in a “room” for only a select few, but is sewn into the very fabric of creation. Look around you, it isn’t hidden!

Are you craving some black and white love? Check these verses out:

1 Corinthians 13

1If I speak in the tonguesa of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,b but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Romans 8

37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,k neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 John 1

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to
do with punishment.

Romans 5

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Jonah 2

8 Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.

Psalm 52

8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.

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.

Heaven: Keeping my eyes fixed on the finish line

2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens

Today I have to attend the funeral of my great aunt. Knowing that her death was coming soon, I declared that I could not stand to lose one more person in my life right now. But loss comes no matter what we declare. We cannot hold so tightly to anyone that we forget that our days are numbered. We have to love deeply, care deeply, but hold onto relationships with our hands open.

My cousin is celebrating that his mother is with Jesus! He reminded me to long for heaven more than I long for earth. How do we grow to the place where we engage our earthly life to the fullest and yet yearn for heaven at the same time? I have been close to friends who have accomplished this. I can see clearly that they walk this earth with one foot already in heaven.

As my friend faced cancer, yet again, she shared her struggle with seeing God for a moment and feeling his presence with her. She could not face the cancer again without knowing that her best friend Jesus was by her side. As we studied scripture she found comfort and his close presence was restored.

Do you and I love God so much, live in obedience to him, and are so familiar with heaven that we find ourselves longing to be released from the confines of sin? To go home. Scriptures say that we are foreigners here when we become princes and princesses of his kingdom. He adopts us! Just saying those words stirs my longing.

I want to live this life to the fullest! Every person that I have observed, through scripture and in my life who have accomplished living as Christ have had their eyes fixed on heaven. It is the finish line! They have served, given to others, forgiven deep transgressions, built up others with the goal of heaven in mind. My eyes have not yet been fully trained, disciplined to keep my eyes on Jesus. Jesus endured the cross because he had his eyes fixed on heaven!

Lord, grow me to this point that my longing to be with you, trumps and motivates everything that I do in my earthly body. Amen!

Remembering My Son: Because he lived I am changed

John 16:20-24 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Today our church celebrated All Saint’s Day by remembering our loved ones who have passed away this year. I have stood in remembrance for friends, but this year friends stood for my loss. Throughout the morning we were surrounded by hugs, tears, and love. While my husband and I sobbed we were not isolated in our grief. We knew that today would be hard, but no matter how much you brace yourself for the emotions you know are coming, grief is exhausting.

So how do I keep this moment from just being another day the band-aid is ripped off my healing heart? I take in a deep breath as I type this post and truly, deeply, remember my son. Because Jonathan lived I fell in love with Christ, and became a stronger person. Because he lived I returned to school. Because he lived I took better risks. Because he lived I found love I never knew existed. Because he lived I gave friendships a chance to blossom. Because he lived I took a chance again on dating and found my soul mate. Because Jonathan lived I write to help others. Because my son lived I ride rollercoasters! Because my son needed protection, I am learning to boldly advocate for those who have no voice. Because Jonathan laughed I laugh more deeply, and because he wrote, my writing became deeper.

Because my son lost sight of hope, I cling to it, nurture the hope in my heart and allow God at those places that I never have before. Because Jonathan has lived I want other teens to know their value. Because Jonathan suffered, I advocate for others who suffer illness. Jesus told us that we would have grief and loss, but because Jesus was with us, we are able to do amazing things! So, because Jonathan my beloved son lived, I take in another breath . . .and keep turning my page!

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.