that girl…

June 10, 2014

look at her. .. . . … just look at her. full of confidence, the world by the tail… no fear. I had forgotten about her until I recently found this picture in a shoebox containing the most random of precious images from my life. my heart just leapt when I first found it. I adore this picture of us… from so long ago when we were so in love. we were just inseparable. … and he loved me like that. just looked at me with young and hungry love … he still loves me like that… .. . .. like that and so much more tenderly. tenderly because she has become more fragile. where once stood a girl who had her life planned out perfectly, not expecting any glitches in all she imagined, now stands his wife who knows that life seldom goes according to plan. and while the things that she thought would be the end of her, either by mental fracture or suicide, have actually come to pass, she is still here. still standing. still holding on.

I hurt for her. thinking of the things she couldn’t have ever even dreamed of that were coming down the pike. … standing next to a hospital bed with her oldest baby boy, over and over and over and over and over and over and over…. trying to sing sweet lullabies and nursery rhymes to comfort him while he was put under again and again and again… holding the warm, soft, brand new pink little hand of her fourth for just a few seconds before he would be whisked away by an entire mob of doctors and nurses who would try with all they had and all they knew to keep him here.. . .. and then being handed that swaddled little boy just hours later, when there was no breath, no kicky legs, no life… . . … .. .. .

even though it hurts, I know it is good. this life. and I am thankful for all of these things. because ultimately, these things brought that head strong girl, the one who was going to do it all on her own, to her knees and lead her to salvation. her and many others in her family, in her circle of friends. she realized along the way that doing it on her own wasn’t going to work and she would need to carried. she would need someone who knew what it was to lose a son, someone with overflowing mercy, grace, compassion, strength, patience. she would need the sure and steady hands of God and his son Jesus. and it was really only in being sweetly broken that she, .. .. . I.. realized my need for him. had the hard things never come along, it is difficult to imagine where I would be… mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I fear I would still be doing it all on my own, quite possibly succeeding by all worldly standards. But would I be secure in knowing my name is graven on his hands like I am today? Would I know that there is nothing that can snatch me away from him? Would I know this love, this peace, this unexplainable joy that is in my life?

I keep looking at her… that girl from so long ago. and even though I hurt for her, I wouldn’t spare her the trials that she would face. they have made her a better person, a more compassionate soul, a more empathetic being.. .. . they have brought her salvation, which is a treasure beyond compare. the thing that I miss about that girl is the confidence. . .. ….. … . . ….. I think it may be time to start bringing some of that back into my character. now that priorities are better aligned.. .. . I think it is time for that girl and this tender soul to merge, that confidence, married with the empathy, could be well used for the good of the kingdom to come.

it’s your funeral…

February 2, 2014

sometimes death comes slowly… the lingering illness, the hospice, the disease.  other times it comes quickly, unexpectedly … the heart attack, the accident, the just. stops. breathing.  but this is sure for all of us.  death comes.  we will all die.  we will all lose someone very special and important to us … the mom, the husband, the baby boy. … … …  here’s the thing, we can relieve some of the sting, some of the pain by talking about it a little now.  now.  before it has to be decided without you.

is there a special song you want played?  you know… that one that sums it all up for you.

are there special people who you think should be your pall bearers?

who will deliver your eulogy?  what will your eulogy say?  what do you want it to say?  what is the one thing that you would want to tell everyone when you have all the attention for one last time?

where will you be buried?  cremated?

do you want to have the prayer service the night before or just the funeral or both?

how bout those picture slide shows?  seems like those are pretty popular.  will you do that?  what pictures?  how long?

… … …. …..  .. …… …. …. …

I am not trying to be dark or depressing.  I am just being honest.  maybe you don’t have any specific requests.  it would be reassuring to the ones you love if they even know that.  if you trust them with all the details, let them know.  the conversation doesn’t have to be so awful.  in fact, brian and I were just talking about who we should ask to be pall bearers at our funerals, and we laughed and laughed talking of all the possibilities.  maybe you just talk about little bits here and there.  maybe you just type up a couple of things and let someone know there is a ‘file’ with your funeral plans on it, just in case.

a neighbor and good friend died almost a year ago from cancer.  she knew it was coming.  she had a remarkable faith, which took away the fear of death for her, and gave her the courage to talk about it.  she wrote her eulogy, looked up the number to the paper she wanted it in, wrote something meaningful to be read to everyone, decided some plans and requested a nice sit down meal for afterwards.  and even though she knew death was coming, it still came quicker than she had hoped.  having all of those things done, made it so much easier for her husband to handle the funeral part of it all.  she was making it easier for him and her son even in her death.  she inspired me to get things a little more in order for myself.

you might even want to think about your kids.  I know that is awful.  the unthinkable. .. .. I also know it happens.  I had to pick the songs for my own sweet boy. and I know other people who have had to pick the verses that seem appropriate for their own small ones… cancer comes…  stop signs get missed…  sometimes… …. I believe . … .. God just calls our sweet little loves home, for reasons we may not know on this earth.

maybe you don’t want to talk about it because you are unsure of what will happen to you .. … your loved ones ….  this seems like all the more reason to spend some time thinking about it now.  because as sure as I know death will come, I know that Christ all ready came.  He came and paid the price, your ransom, your loved ones ransom, that we can be with him in paradise forever.

think about it.  talk about it.

..  ….. .. . … …… .. ….

I just hope in asking you to think about it, to talk about it, your loved ones will have a bit more time and space to grieve more fully when the time comes, rather than trying to figure out all the details in that moment.  after all, it is your funeral.

play this one for me.

 

words won’t come…

December 31, 2013

all this … hurt, sorrow…  confusion has been rolling around in my head for days.  days.  not the raw, burning pain from years ago.  something different.  something I really want to get out of my head and into words on paper, daring to hope that the act of sitting and searching for the right words will alleviate the busyness…  the scatter of what is in my head.

but the words don’t come.

I read another chapter of Heaven, another piece of the Problem of Pain,  another book on suffering.  so many, many good things in there. so much that I believe, so much that I am betting ALL THAT I AM on.

but the words don’t come.

laughter comes so much easier than it did 5 years ago… 4 years ago… 3 years ago.  the kids bring me joy and my friends make me laugh ’till my sides ache and happiness turns liquid and comes right out my eyes and down my cheeks. …  I know peace.  I know peace that is beyond my understanding. … I love the moment. all the little moments.  I try so hard to take it all in because I know that tomorrow it could be gone.  whether another of my babes, or the man I love or my sister in Christ or any. one. of my family and friends could be taken Home in an instant.  the heart attack, the stroke, the car accident, the allergic reaction, the cancer, … …  the lungs that just can not take in one more breath.  and I want to have this mad dash of words to apply to the broken hearts, even my own … a healing balm, a cooling compress … all strung together quickly with sound theology, deep compassion and a solid measure of tears that express “I know” .. “I understand”.

but the words don’t come.

so often there are not words.  there just are no words for the deep and aching pains of this world.  and some how trying to fix it all with words often ends with saying the wrong words.  the words that were meant to help actually hurt.  they add  little slivers to the all ready bleeding and broken heart.  … I know this.  I have heard these words.  … … but I just can’t keep my mind from scrambling to have something to say. … and I read, and I wonder, and I pray, and I stare off into nothing, and I sleep on the couch, and I read, and I still long for the words to come.  and then… I read it, I hear it, I see it.

“Jesus wept.”

… … …

“Jesus wept.”

He came to his friends.  He hurt too. and for awhile, He just wept.  He didn’t tease them for crying.  He didn’t say there is nothing to worry about here.  He didn’t just storm in and fix it all in that moment and laugh at their sorrow.  He just wept with them.  Even knowing that Lazarus would soon enough walk among them again.  He was just there with them, weeping.  Maybe this is the way to handle these things.  Maybe being present for the trails, being His Presence in the wake of the tragic, just. being. there.  is enough.  maybe allowing others to be His Comfort, His Healing, His Love is enough.  Being present is the present.  the knowing look from a friend, a long embrace, a quick text of ‘thinking of you’, a card, a flower.  maybe this is why the words won’t come.  they aren’t as needed as we think. a friend sitting with us and crying too is sometimes just what is needed.