Grief Clock

Matthew 4:Matthew 4:11
Then the devil left Him, and angels came and ministered to Him.
Luke 22…42“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done.” 43Then an angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him. 44And in His anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.…

I am finding, even when I’m not consciously aware of the dates, my soul is. The past two days my heartache has swelled and I didn’t register, just like last year, that the 7th seems to be my absolute hardest day of the year. You would think that the 1st would be it, but it is the day I buried Jonathan. Maybe it is because it the very last physical act or contact I have with his body on this earth. In any case I have dragged myself through the past two days.

I know the depth of this heart ache will end soon. There are simply days when we hurt to our core, whether in depression or grief. Days when the intensity of what we feel is almost more than our physical bodies can handle. Jesus came to a place where the burden he bore was so great that angels ministered to him, just so he wouldn’t die early. It is telling that the two times Jesus was ministered to are two times the enemy came to sift him; Satan attached when Jesus was at his weakest.

So Lord, as I cry out to you today. “This is more than I can bear!” I look for your comfort and provision to minister to me. May your will in my life be a testimony to the strength you offer to all of your adopted children.

Fireworks in my Grief

Today is my wedding anniversary. Losing Jonathan on the 1st could have overshadowed our anniversary if we had not been intentional about turning our pages from the beginning. Each year brings new delights for our anniversary because we took those first painful steps to celebrate our marriage. We both felt numb, but we made it to the baseball game we had planned to see for our anniversary. Last year we returned to West Virginia to visit family and friends. We celebrated our anniversary with homemade peach cobbler, the delivery and reading of the Declaration of Independence and exploring our friend’s farm and museums. This year we celebrated with friends and family around food and fireworks. Next weekend we head to D.C. for a rally on The Mall.

There will always be difficult days in grief, things are not as they should be, but there is still a lot of life to live. I choose to watch with awe, the spectacular fireworks of God’s love and maybe even squeal with delight as he surprises me in my grief.

 

How Can I Keep From Singing (Reworked)

My brother reworked the hymn “How Can I Keep From Singing” to honor and remember his nephew Jonathan. It mostly draws from Unitarian and Christian versions, with a couple of lines written by my brother.

My life flows on in endless song Above earth’s lamentation.

I hear the real, though far off hymn That hails a new creation.

Above the tumult and the strife, I hear the music ringing; . . .

 

What though the tempest loudly roars, I hear the truth, it liveth.

What though the darkness round me close, Songs in the night it giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm While to that rock I’m clinging.

Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, How can I keep from singing?

 

With each new day my story grows, the pages ever turning.

And through it all I always hold This flame of hope still burning.

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, A fountain ever springing;

All things are mine since I am his–How can I keep from singing?

How Can I Keep From Singing Enya

 

 

Grief Tug-of-War

Grief is two lovers yanking you in opposite directions.

The Past, pulls out his photo albums showing off his plump family of memories. Inviting you to warm yourself by the faded fires of yesterday; still snapping and popping in your mind, until you realize that you are freezing to death . . . And the Future sucks you into a black hole of regret, threatening to crush you over and over with what will never happen.

Get to know the Present, he is your daily companion. He walks beside you and sustains you; pulling the curtains closed on yesterday and introducing you to new brilliant mornings. He holds you tight as you sob, and reveals the unknown in quantities you can handle. He will always be here with you, while the Past never stays, and the Future may never come.

The Importance of Laughter in Grief

It is so vital to our wellbeing to laugh! I believe that God in heaven laughs. He named Isaac (laughter) because Sarah thought it was impossible for her to be pregnant. I believe that he takes joy in us, and laughs deeply. Can you imagine standing close to the throne of heaven and hear God laugh.

In this season of grief I need laughter, to water my soul with joy. Sewing seeds of joy in a desert. If you have a funny story to share, or a humorous author that you like, feel free to share in the comments. Jonathan loved to make me laugh. In fact, if something got me really tickled, it was his goal to get me to laugh like a hyena.

Brian: Natalie, what do you think about 3 more days of school?
Natalie: Just 3 more days and I can go back to being nocturnal!

 

 

Valley of the Shadow of Death

(A post from the first days after putting Jonathan in the ground.)

Day 5

Psalms 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

A spur of the moment trip yesterday afternoon to Coco Key Resort, produced a valuable image for Daniel and I to hold onto as we walk through the darkness of Jonathan’s death. Daniel is tall enough to ride the four big slides, and this summer his confidence in the water has skyrocketed. He and I tackled the first one on a two-seater inner tube. After that he was ready to tackle it alone and then moved onto the body slides.

But, he declared from the beginning, that he would not go on the two slides that did not let light in. I have to admit, I had no intention of going on those either. Later, I’m not even sure what prompted me to go on the dark body slide alone, but I did. Maybe I chose the tube because I am already walking through the darkest place imaginable. The slide was as dark as the inside of a cave cavern. I could not see the twists and turns and I didn’t know how long the ride would be, but I knew the light was at the end.

Just before leaving, Daniel grabbed the two-seater and declared that he wanted to ride the dark slide. As soon as we started down I could sense his fear. I declared that I was still beside him, and that the light would greet us at the end. When we exited the pool I told him that this how I feel with God right now. I don’t see him, but I hear his voice, and I’m trying to stand on the truth of his character. In the car the kids asked to listen to their Music Camp CD. One of the songs was “You Never Let Go”. As Daniel listened he exclaimed, “That is like the dark slide! I couldn’t see you, but I knew you were there. I know God is there, and that he won’t let go of me.”

Yes Daniel, and yes reader, God will never let go of you! Through whatever storm or dark place in this life you are going through. Our part is to know that he is here. For me, the only way to obtain that knowledge has been to read about his character in scripture, to pray, and to practice walking in faith. I can’t see where this devastating dark twist will lead, but I won’t turn back, because I know you are here.

Goals:
1. Let others help me today.
2. Work on my song.
3. Find a new copy of Barbra Johnson’s book. (Meet me at half-priced books anyone?)

Hearing God in the Silence of Grief

Romans 8:31What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”j

37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

 

It’s the silence, after a house full of guests, that threatens to undo me. In grief, you brace yourself for the days of deepest memories, but the days that would have been routine, those are the days that crush bones. In these difficult days I grow best if I listen to what the new aspects of grief want to tell me.

I hear God calling me.

I am here, in this season of depression, to shout that God makes a way through. I am being stretched and prepared to love more deeply than I ever thought possible, so that you know, beyond a shadow of doubt that God loves you. He has chosen you since before the beginning of creation! There is not a single second of your existence that does not matter to him.

Lean in and listen to the silence of your circumstances. Allow God to teach you more about both loss and gain than you knew before. Grief can widen our hearts to love God and our neighbor more deeply or close us off. Perspective is the only difference. Do I fix my eyes on the evil of losing Jonathan, meant to harm me (which it was), or allow God to transform my loss into good, for the salvation of many? Even typing these words are hard. I grapple with the untamed nature of God most when ask this question.

But, then I look at the son God did not spare. Was the cross evil. Yes. Was Jesus innocent. Yes. Did God spare Jesus. No  What kind of God operates this way? I have heard again and again from people suffering the horrid torment of cancer that they felt God’s presence, and were able to love more deeply than before their cancer. What kind of God determines what is evil as being for the good of the world?

A God who is not limited by evil!  A God who sent his own son to the pits of hell to save us. A God who gave us over to ourselves, but made a way for us to be better since the beginning of time. My God isn’t tame, he is dangerous to follow, but he is good! How glad that I am that God has never fit into my box, or been limited by what evil men do!

Listen to God’s call on your life and walk through the flames if that is where he leads. He may take you out of the furnace, he may take you through the furnace, or he might take you by the furnace, but one thing is certain, others will see him standing with us as we walk in obedience to his will.

 

April Tears bring May Rainbows

The rain fits me right now, I am cloudy. As May is on my doorstep, so is Mother’s Day and my son’s birthday. I have had such an amazing year, but the heaviness of my heart is overwhelming today. So what do you do when pain and grief are so heavy they threaten to flood your soul?

I look for the rainbows. Lord, even grief carries the seeds of your healing. May I grow stronger as I remember my child. Amen