24
February

Happy Birthday, Sweet Boy. Happy Birthday.

orange balloons

 

We’ve tried to celebrate the kids’ birthdays well.  Presents, cake of their choice, food of their choice, sometimes birthday parties, sometimes small gatherings, sometimes the beach, sometimes family from out of town and sometimes just hanging out at home.  I guess Boston’s birthday is no different, even though he is with Jesus for his 5th birthday.

For quite some time last year, he kept telling me that he wanted five birthdays.  He’d say, “Mom, I want five birthdays!”  My response was always, “I WANT you to have five birthdays.”  He’d give me a hug and run off and go play.  I remember thinking each time, “That’s weird.  Why does he say that?” I never told him that he would have five birthdays.  I just couldn’t.  I knew, after losing our son Eli, that life has no guarantees.  I couldn’t guarantee him five birthdays.  In good conscience, I couldn’t do that.  Jesus knows the number of our days, I do not.

Boston is five.  Tomorrow.  He is five.  This is his fifth birthday.  There has been celebration already.  Family has come to town.  Friends are coming.  Orange balloons have been lifted to the heavens.  A Captain America cake is in the works. Presents will be given, but not how we had originally expected.

Our hearts hurt so badly.  We are so so sad.  No words can even convey the sadness.

Boston, we love you. So much.  You are so missed.  We cherish you.  We feel so honored that Jesus asked us to take care of you and love you for nearly five years.  We loved your laughter, your jokes, your smile, your love of monster trucks and super heros.  We love how high you could jump on the trampoline and your toughness when you fell off your bike.  We love how you would drag your blankie all around the house and how big you were getting to leave it in the car or on your bed.  We love the curls in your hair, the smile on your lips, your big blue eyes and your sweet arms that would wrap around our necks and be as tough as the Hulk.  Your love of life was infectious.  You were a joy.  You were healing for our family and Jesus knew exactly what we needed when get lent you to us.

Until we are Home…Boston we love you.  So so so so much.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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12
February

“For we do not know what to pray for…”

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26

I had a friend, whom I love dearly, and after the accident, she was texting me frequently asking me how she could pray for us.  Many times I didn’t respond, because I didn’t know what to say.  I didn’t know what my request would be. (I still don’t.)  I finally responded to her and said, “I don’t know what to ask for.  I just groan.  There are no words.”

Even after Tullie was born, people would try to say stuff.  “You’re such a special family, since God chose you for this.” “You’re stronger then me.  I couldn’t do it.” “Wow, she is so lucky.” The comments were mostly out of trying to comfort, but I remember thinking that they didn’t comfort.  I would just get angry.  I didn’t feel like we were special. I didn’t know why God chose us for this.  I certainly was not strong. Now, looking back and who Tullie is, I would consider us the lucky ones.

After Eli passed, our favorite card said, “There are no words, we are praying.”

This is when I started reading this section of Romans 8. I mulled these words over and over.  I did not know what to pray after the whirlwind of Mike’s mom’s passing, Tullie’s birth and diagnosis, NICU stay, my bedrest with Eli and his death after his birth.  I had no words and any words that people would say seemed trite and useless.

Now that Boston is Home, I cling to Romans 8:26, because I have no words.  When people ask what to pray I point to this verse.  There are no words.  None.  No human words that would ever bring comfort.  Nothing can bring our boy back.

The Spirit is helping us.  He is.  We know he is.  He is taking care of our needs, He is comforting us.  The comfort is not like what one would expect.  It’s more like when your body is shaking with grief and tears and somehow the crying ceases and you feel better for a moment when our oldest boy comes and wraps his arms around us, or when He uses our girls to make us laugh or look at their doll’s new outfits. The beautiful sunsets out our kitchen window and the sunsets that people share with us.

I have no words right now.  All I have is groanings.  Lots and lots of groanings.  There is joy, because we know where our hope lies, but there is also a deep and aching desire for the Lord to come quickly.  He will. In His time.  When He does there will be no more aching or groaning and our tears will be wiped away.  It will be a glorious day, and a big Partay.

He will swallow up death forever;

and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces…

Isaiah 25:8a

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6
February

Dear Grieving Mom

***I was sitting down to write down some thoughts I had been thinking about and saw this is my drafts from four years ago.  I still feel the same way about the letter.  Grief looks different for all of us.  Death, expectations unmet, divorce, unexpected diagnosis’….the list goes on. So, Grieving Mamma, whatever your grief looks like, know that Jesus holds you and He has bottled your tears. (I am talking to myself, as much as I am to you)*** 

“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.  Are they not in your book?”  Psalm 56:8 

Dear Grieving Mamma,

A few months after our son passed away a friend came up to me and she gave me a small bottle.  It was filled with water.  Her mother or aunt (I can’t remember which), had been praying for our family.   She had been reading Psalm 56:8 and felt that she should give us a visual of the verse.  My friend gave me the gift hesitantly.  She wasn’t sure how I was going to react to the gift.  I thanked her for passing it on and when I got home and put it in a drawer.  I wasn’t ready to think about that.

Several years later I was packing up our house and I found the small bottle.  I read the verse, Psalm 56:8, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle…”  I thought, “This bottle isn’t big enough for all of my tears…”

But those words-they stuck.  All of those sleepless nights.  All of those tears.  He knows them.  Jesus knows them.  He keeps them.  The pain is so deep and wrenching, that no one could ever count the tossings or keep those tears but Jesus.

Mammas, we can get frustrated with feeling like we are bearing the burden by ourselves, but Jesus is bearing it for us.  He already has.  That day He died for us.  He beared all of our burdens.  All of our heartache.  All of our sin.  All of LIFE.

This doesn’t make the burden easier, it just makes it a little bit more bearable.  The knowledge that Jesus already took our pain.  He knows it.  He knows your pain.

As time goes on our heart mends, but it never goes away.  Ever.  It will be at the forefront of our minds.  It will linger and pop up unexpected, but Jesus will be there and the scar will be tender.  Always.

Those times when it starts to bleed, it’s okay.  Jesus is there.  He’s bearing our burden.  He’s felt our pain.  He’s keeping our tears.

That verse is oddly comforting.  There’s comfort in His knowledge.  In His love.  In His care to KEEP those tears.  To have the knowledge of our sleepless nights, and of our pacing the halls while the darkness shrouds our hearts. His light is still penetrating into those crevices.

Jesus is present.  He is watching us.  He is comforting us and He is gathering our tears.

Take comfort.

Love,

Michelle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1
February

Prideful Pain

This is a tender subject.  It’s a really tough one.  It’s tough because I’ve been in the pit of being as prideful as I could in my pain, and it’s a temptation to go back there.  I could go back there. Quickly.

I want you to step back in time with me for a moment.  My husband’s mom passed away quickly from stage 4 ovarian cancer.  She was diagnosed in March and passed away in the middle of May.  Our daughter was born exactly one month after her death nine weeks early and surprised us with a diagnosis of Down Syndrome.  Ten months later I was on bedrest with our second son for 3 weeks in the hospital.  He was born.  Lived for one day and passed away.  By the time our son passed away I had had enough.  Pain felt like it was just a constant companion.  It felt like no one had experienced as much as I had, and I had every right to compare with friends and carry my burden for all to see.

I had a falling out with a friend while I was pregnant with our second daughter, and our husbands met up one night to talk about the situation.  Her husband said to mine, “How can we compare pain when we are all experiencing something different?  We’re all in pain.  We live in a sinful world.  It just looks different for everyone.” There’s truth in that.

When my husband came home that night and told me that statement, I was sobered.  I had a lot to think about.

Fast forward years and learning, reading, listening to Piper, Chandler, Grudem, Tripp and Fitzpatrick and reading, Ruth, Jonah, Job, Genesis and Paul (which is 2/3 of the New Testament).  Christian classics, like, Stepping Heavenward and  Hinds Feet on High Places.  The list goes on and on.

Through all of this time, I’d wake up in cold sweats and fear of something happening to our children or to my husband.  I thought, “Jesus can’t carry me through something like that.  He’s not enough.  I can’t handle that.” When Mike was out of town or gone for a day, it was a constant breathing in and out to keep myself calm until he got home. I was living in fear.  Constantly.  I also didn’t think that anyone could hurt as bad I as did.  We had experienced more of life in a year then most people who were retired.

I had not been suffering well.  I was suffering, and my suffering was seeped in pride, because my child was born retarded, my other child had died and Jesus didn’t seem to be paying attention, nor was enough for us, everyone else around us seemed fine, but Jesus must’ve forgotten about us.

As I read, and as I started to listen to others around me, I learned something-I learned that everyone is suffering.  It looks different for each one of us, (like my friend’s husband had said).  There is so much going on in this broken world. Marriages falling apart, children dabbling in drugs, grown ups recovering from years of a abuse by people who they were suppose to be able to trust, infertility, miscarriages, friends seeped in sin, friends who had children who were chronically sick, in and out of the hospital, spouses who had spouses who were sick and so much heartache.  I began to see suffering in my friends eyes and I began to see how hard life is, not just mine, but everybody.  If you live on this earth there is something going on that hurts, and it hurts deeply.

Prideful pain is this:

  • Claiming that God is not good.
  • Claiming that He is absent.
  • Claiming that He is uncaring.
  • Comparing our pain with people around us.  That we are suffering more then the next.
  • Minimizing the pain of one and being unloving in our response to their openness to us.
  • Not listening and only talking about ourselves.
  • Constant complaining about our plight.
  • Ungraciousness to those around us.
  • Bitterness

I started to learn that Jesus was enough.  Before Jesus headed to the cross He told His disciples the greatest commandment.  The greatest commandment is to love one another (John 15).  To think of others first, as Jesus did through His suffering-His death on the cross.  For us.  For sin.  For suffering.  For death  (Philippians 2).

He HAD to be.  There’s no way to make it through this muddle called, life, if He wasn’t.  I learned that through suffering there is Hope.  There is Joy.  Because Jesus conquered this mess. It is that simple.

Now.  Currently, I am (and my family) in the darkest, hardest hour.  I don’t know how long this hour will last.  I’ve wondered how long it will last, and it may just be till I breathe my last breath. It is easy to compare.  It is easy to stand in the pew at church and listen to songs about Jesus’ goodness, knowing full well that it is true, but also struggling with despair and wanting what I lost back.  Struggling with shaking my fist at God and that I have been abandoned.  I have not been.  I must, we must, constantly remind ourselves of the Gospel.  Always.  I have to stand there in church and say (sometimes out loud), “You are enough for this. I will still praise, because You are enough.”

I do not say this lightly.  I do not say it in a trite way. I say it because it is true.  I say it, because I HAVE to say it for myself.  I say it because I have to be reminded to love others.  To put others before myself and my pain, because there are hurting people everywhere around us.  Everywhere.  We are desperate for Jesus. Desperate.  When we acknowledge our need for Him, we can suffer well, and we can love others along the way.

 

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29
January

#Jesusisenough

These past months have tested this hashtag to the max.  It really is just a hashtag, but it is also holds much truth and difficult to swallow.

The day of the accident, I thought, “Jesus is enough.”  He is.  I KNOW He is and these words have been challenging for me to write at the end of each post regarding the accident on Facebook for the world to see.  #Jesusisenough  It is true for some and untrue for others, but I think to have a life full of hope and joy it can only be true for all.

Three months and nine days ago, my youngest son died in a car accident right outside my front door.  We were waiting for company to arrive.  It was sunny.  It had been a lovely morning.  The kids had been playing so nicely together.  We had gotten chores done and played. Lunch was ready and waiting for our company.  I turn around to my husband’s face yelling, screaming, distorted.  That face that you never want to see.  His arms full of our hurt and dead child, when just less then 45 minutes before our sweet boy had stopped in the kitchen for a hug from me.

It’s surreal. Even several months later, when we should be “used to” the quiet now-we aren’t.  It’s too quiet. It’s not right.

#Jesusisenough

I remember things from that afternoon, but I don’t remember everything.  Memories come and go.  When our second son passed away, it’s the same thing…I remember some things, like the nurse telling us she baptized our son, because she wanted to make sure he made it to heaven…

#Jesusisenough

He was enough then, He’s enough now.

My heart has ached before.  The loss of a child.  It has ached like no other, but it seems different now.  An ache, yes, but such severe, hard and broken sadness.  With the knowledge of our broken world and the sin that is everywhere and how even though we are His we are not out of the reach of suffering.  We are in His grip, we are His children, but we will not be  saved from the struggles and darkness of the world.  We can only live in it.

#Jesusisenough

He is enough for us to survive it and maybe, just maybe, be more mature and sanctified because of this world’s pain and brokenness, because

#Jesusisenough

I cannot survive this without Him.  Without Jesus.  This is why He died.  He died for THIS.

I remind myself of the Gospel all the time.  It’s all I do some days.  The harder then hard days, I remind myself of the Gospel.  It’s like a mantra for me.  “Jesus came to Earth for this.  He came as a baby.  He grew up.  He told people about Himself.  He died.  He rose.  He conquered death.  He CONQUERED!”

There is no brokenness He cannot handle.  He already handled it all.  There is hope because He conquered it. There is hope because He is enough.

The other day I was reading the Bible, and I don’t think anyone is more candid and raw then King David,

Psalm 6

“O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,

nor discipline me in your wrath.

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing;

heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled. 

My soul also is greatly troubled.

But you, O LORD-how long?

Turn, O LORD, deliver my life;

Save me for the sake of your steadfast love. 

For in death there is no remembrance of you;

in Sheol who will give you praise?

I am weary with my moaning;

every night I flood my bed with tears;

I drench my couch with my weeping. 

My eye wastes away because of grief;

it grows weak because of all my foes.

Depart from me, all you workers of evil,

for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping. 

The LORD has heard my plea;                                                                                                                          

the LORD accepts my prayer. 

All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;

they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.”

 

Our hearts are broken.  We are so sad.

We live in the funny spiritual place.  The Israelites were waiting for Jesus.  Waiting for the Messiah.  He came.  He conquered.  He also ascended.  He went back to the Father, so now we, His children, wait.  Wait for His return.  Wait in this broken world for Him to return and to fulfill the end of the Story.  It’s hard to wait, when we want the suffering to end.  I guess maybe it’s selfish on my part, because my days are filled with sadness, but thinking of no more tears and being with Jesus warms my heart and gives me hope.  All of this is transient.  Jesus has got this and the end of the Story.

Jesus knows the number of our days, and that day was our boy’s last day.

#Jesusisenough for us and for our family.  He has to be enough, He promised He would be.  So, it is to Him that we cling.  Tightly.

#Jesusisenough

 

 

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