The Little Comforts

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Our Grace was saved at a very young age. It was never something she questioned much. Jesus died for her sins and that was it. No doubts about Him ever really weighed on her. It actually bothered her that people didn’t see the simplicity of salvation. We taught her that the Bible is the inherent Word of God. We might not understand all that it says, but all the it says, is true. Because of her faith, questions about where she went to be that moment in January, are non-existent. Grace is where she knew her true home was, with her Savior.

God has given us comforts, tiny buds of life on this winter tree of grief. No one can ever hurt her where she is at, a tiny bud. We have no more worries about her future, a tiny bud. We have seen how many lives she had touched, how many people she reached out to in her 17 years, a whole branch of buds. God deposits these comforts periodically, I think it helps in the “binding the brokenhearted” process He talks about.

Repairing anything broken is never easy. Binding something takes a lot of work. Right now, I think He is gathering the right utensils, prepping the area and getting us ready for the long process of healing. A process that could take years and years. And once He is done, a scar will still be there, hopefully visible to the world, a reminder of what we came through, a reminder of His goodness and faithfulness and love.

A scar that will become a testimony…

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The Little Comforts

How Could You?

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Right before the accident, the girls and I began a really annoying, but funny to us, habit of answering every question with a question. It really only worked between the three of us, because other people would quickly find no humor in what we considered hilarious. One of those things you do as a family, that only works with your family, because they are your family.

We all have them. When I was young it was family Bible reading time. My sister Lisa is slow, but every time we sat down to read our Bibles (usually in Ezekiel, my dad’s favorite book), Lisa would finish her reading in less than 3 minutes. She would close her Bible, zip it up, and then begin to watch each of our faces until one of us (usually me) got annoyed. I remember, on more than one occasion, getting mad at her because there was no way she read her chapter faster than the rest of us, and “seriously Mom, why is she staring at me again!”

Be it family meetings that are supposed to be serious, but end in laughter, family game nights, that you all find absurdly entertaining, but outsiders seem confused, or the nighttime Conga line to your bedroom (another family tradition in the Pochodaj home). We, our families, our personal, small units of tied together yarn, balled up in the same home, share secrets, joys, failures, fun and jokes that other people maybe don’t understand or maybe just don’t care about. It’s what makes each of our families distinctive.

So answering a question with a question goes something like this…

“How was your day today?”

“How do you think my day was?”

 “Can’t imagine it was better than my day. Want to hear about it?

“If I wanted to hear about your day, don’t you think I would have asked?

You can see how this could irritate people, right? But we had fun with it.

I mention all of this because, the most common question that I have heard in the past month, can really only be answered with a question.

“How can you endure a hardship like this?

“How can I not?”

As believers in Jesus, our ever present help in time of need, what other option do we have but to endure. And not only endure, but eventually thrive again. John 16:33, which I have clung to this past month, has been a scripture of healing to me for years. I have quoted it countless times. I have a beautiful plaque of it hanging above a doorpost in my home (like the Israelites were instructed to do). I have broken it down, memorized it, digested it and lived in its promise for as far back as I can remember. I actually think that my friend and I made a song to go with it when we were just kids.

“These things, I have spoken unto you, that you might have peace, in this world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome this world.”

What this verse does not say is that life will be easy, free of harm, disease, chaos, fear or worry. It won’t be void of tragedy, war, anger or injustice. Tribulation, according to Webster, can be defined in a sand storm of awful ways…suffering, distress, trouble, misery, heartache, woe, anxiety, agony and even grief.

But so often, when Jesus spoke, it was a bad news first, good news is coming, approach.

“Be of good cheer,” (or take heart, or like the Amplified Bible says, be courageous, confident, undaunted and filled with joy). “I have overcome the world.”

What is here, what is now, is suffering, no doubt, for my family, for other families, and for countless people, in countless situations, around the world. We need to remind ourselves daily (sometimes hourly or minute by minute) that Jesus overcame death, and in turn, overcame this world. The job began at the cross, but was completed with an empty tomb.

Our hope can not be in our prayers. Our hope can not be in our worship. Our hope can not be in how good we are or who we help. Our hope can only be in the finished work of Jesus Christ, who challenges us daily to live victoriously in what seems like defeat, to live joy-filled lives, in our saddest and darkest moments and to live courageous in the face of tribulation.

How can you endure this kind of hardship?

With Jesus, how can I not?

How Could You?

Senior Will

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At Grace’s school, in the final week of being a senior, the kids do something called Senior Will. I don’t know how familiar this tradition is to people, and I don’t know if it’s a normal thing that other schools do, but it doesn’t matter, we do it.

What the seniors do, if they want to, is dedicate or pass something on to the underclassmen. It can be anything from a sports survival kit (which Grace got one year) to a favorite pair of basketball shoes (which she also received from a good friend).

Grace had been working on her senior will stuff since she was a sophomore. It was so important to her that some of her young friends knew what they meant to her and had something to remember her by. I recall asking her, on more than one occasion, why it was so important, why she was preparing so far in advance, but she would just reply that she wanted to leave a legacy that wouldn’t soon be forgotten.

One of the items that she had been working on was a notebook for a friend of hers in the 8th grade. A young lady that she really loved, and really wanted to impart some wisdom to. We only found this notebook after the accident, but it is filled with one-page, one-paragraph, snippets of wisdom concerning life topics like peer pressure, love, boys, God, trials and growing up.

Because today is an important day in basketball and because basketball was one of the most important things to Grace, I thought I would share one of her entry’s.

Entry #11 – Passion   9/27/15

Having a passion is the most amazing thing in the world. One of my passions is basketball. When I go out on the court I feel unstoppable. That is how a passion should feel. Like no matter what, nothing could dull your love for what you are doing. I write sometimes, purely for myself. I know that I would never get published, but that doesn’t stop me from trying! I would never stop something because someone said it wasn’t “cool.” Who are they to say what’s cool or not?! Don’t quit on something you love. Pursue it.

Love, Gracie

(-let passion be your drive)


I found her list of senior will items, tucked under her bed, just the other day. I am going to try fulfilling each of them, because she worked so long and hard on them. She wrote a saying on her notebooks, her chalkboard and pretty much anywhere else she could

“Dream Without Fear, Love Without Limits”

This was her life motto, and she lived it, to its fullest.

Senior Will

My Psalm

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Just as David was a man after God’s own heart, I often felt like David was a man after my own thoughts. Some of the words that are recorded in the Psalms by him, could have been words that I had written over the years (minus the incredible poetic talent).

Psalm 13:2 records a struggle that David and I share in common. A struggle to maintain a God-honoring thought life. There have been days, in my 37 years, that I have desperately searched for an off button. My mind can race a thousand directions, sometimes all at once, leaving me feeling exhausted, drained, and like I wrestled a fierce opponent.

In Psalm 22:1-2, David confesses his frustration at the silence of God, a silence that, I am sure, most honest believers have felt. So many books have been written about where God seems to go when we are at our lowest point. Why does it seem like He is so far away, when we clearly need Him the most?

Psalm 68:5 turned into my life verse 6 years ago. The protection and covering that, only a father can provide, was snatched away from me so quickly. I can recall sitting on the stairs at my mom’s house, just hours after my dad took his final breath, and one of the only thoughts I could muster was, “I will never hear my daddy call me beautiful again.” (quick note, dads tell your daughters they are beautiful, if they are little, if they are teenagers, if they are adults, they need it. You have no idea the impact that those words will carry throughout their lives.)

So I decided to write my own Psalm. It’s important to keep in mind that David’s Psalms often began with the trauma that he felt, but almost always ended with the triumph he knew he had.

Psalm 1.25

O Lord, brokenhearted only begins to describe the place I am in, but You already know that.

I yearn for her touch, her smile, her laughter. I ache for her joy, her hugs, her comfort. Lord, I am jealous of You for having time with her, jealous of You for walking hand in hand with her, talking with her and enjoying her.

I second guess every emotion I feel. Is this too much pain, not enough tears, am I revealing too much of my broken heart to people who can hurt me?

I sit here in the darkness of night, unable to sleep, with streams of warm, sticky tears, leaving permanent roads of sadness, as they create a map of grief on my face.

I close my eyes and create scenarios in my mind where none of this is real. She really made it home that night, and right now, I can run upstairs, as I so often did when I was afraid or overwhelmed, and I can crawl in bed with my security blanket baby, and she will scoot over and warm me up, with her love and extremely high body temperature. Really, Lord, she had been that for me from the time she was born.

These scenarios are such a waste of my time though. They leave my face covered in runaway mascara, my eye lids puffy and my nose runny.

But You O Lord…

You hear my moans, my sighs, my breaths in, that I hold until I remember to exhale.  You cover me with Your wings, and safety flows through me. You create solid steps for me to walk in. The lamp You use to light this dark path of grief, is often shining with words that bring healing to my brokenness.

I have nothing besides You Lord, everything has been stripped away, everything I held on to, God, has crumbled into dust around me, but You are my strong tower. As I look around at the heap of rumble that I am standing in, I know that my only option is to put my weary steps to use, and begin to run to You, my hiding place.

I love You, Lord…hug my baby for me.

My Psalm

Prayers That Cease

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I have a Tupperware container neatly tucked away in the garage. In it are all sorts of memories, my memories. My first rose from a boy, pressed in the pages of one of my many teenage, angst-filled, journals. Ticket stubs from countless movies covered with the names of who I went with and Birthday/Christmas/Thank You cards from years of important people. I know most people don’t save cards, most people don’t write more than their name in a card, but I have every card that anyone has ever given me. A fact that became extremely important to me months after my dad passed away and I began a frantic search for his handwritten words. I’m happy to say that I have at least 10 cards that my dad wrote directly to me. His handwritten words (so important to see after a person is gone) special just to me, with his love written at the bottom. I look at them whenever I need a reminder of how much my daddy loved me.

Tucked under all the cards, the countless diaries, the carnival stuffed animals and the notebooks filled with poetry, lies a red folder. A folder filled with pages and pages of a book written by me, to Grace.

When I found out I was pregnant, I knew two things for sure, it was a girl and her name was Grace. I also knew that I had 19 years of life that I wanted her to know about, so I began writing. I wrote often, about her dad and how we met, about his family, my parents, sisters, grandparents (what I remembered of them), my eventful childhood stories. I wrote and I prayed. My intention was to give it to her on her wedding day. Not sure now why I waited. Hindsight.

So a book called Grace, filled with stories and random facts, will sit in that memory box now, forever. I am going to pull it out at some point to let Evie read it, but I don’t think it will hold the same sentiment, considering the title is not Evelyn.

If a parent were able to fill Tupperware containers with the prayers they have prayed for their children, what would that garage look like? How many containers would line the cement floor? Boxes with words etched on the outside like, desperate prayers, joyous prayers, pleas for mercy. Prayers for safety, health and salvation. Prayers for future spouses and children.

We are to pray without ceasing, and believe me, I am, but my prayers have changed. More often than not, they are filled with tears, sometimes anger, often both. I pray for Jim’s heart, his ministry and his desire to accomplish more for the Lord. I pray for Evelyn and her future, as she carries with her a heart that will never be without deep, visible scars. I pray that God would use her to reach the masses, other people with scars. I pray for friends and family, big issues and little situations. I bend the ears of God for so many things, but my prayer list is missing a bullet point now. Thousands of Tupperware containers that will never be filled. My prayers for Grace have ceased, they have abruptly come to an end. It takes the mind a little time to adjust to that. It’s like what amputees feel when they have lost a limb. The phantom sensation that what they had is still there.

I woke up early the other morning realizing that I no longer needed to pray for Grace’s future husband either, something that I actually prayed for often, but then I decided to pray for him anyway, at least one more time. I prayed that his life would be filled with joy and peace. That he would still meet a woman perfectly suited for him, and that he would be the leader God charged him to be. Although he will never marry, who for the last 18 years, I have been praying would fit him perfectly, he will never realize what he is missing out on. He won’t get to read the letters she wrote about him, that she was saving for her wedding day (sound familiar)? But he won’t know. God is good like that, revealing just what we need to know and not the whole story.

So my prayers for Grace have ceased, my prayers for her future husband are no longer needed. January 25, 2016, I closed the lid on my last Tupperware container for her and I scribbled on the outside “beauty for ashes.”

Prayers That Cease

The Fight

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The Fight

Here we are in the dark hallway of grief, past the week 5 marker, and I feel like I’ve entered a fight. A battle of sorts, with an invisible opponent. Although, if you knew me a month ago and looked at my face today, you might be able to identify the invisible. Names like grief, loss, bereavement or mourning could each label my adversary.

The fight though. The bell rang about two weeks ago, once the fog or cloud of “what just  happened” lifted and now it feels like every day I am fighting.  Worst thing about this fight is that there are no rounds, no white towel to throw in, no chance of winning, but I have to keep fighting. If I don’t go through this inevitable battle, if I avoid it, I know I will have to fight again later. It physically drains me, my arms hurt, my head is sore, my eyes are puffy. It emotionally exhausts me, my laughter has disappeared, my tears fill God’s bottle daily, and the anger can well up in a flash. But worst of all, my soul is tapped out. I want to give up, I want to hide, I want to lay down and pretend that this fight isn’t real.

The only thing that keeps me fighting is my spirit, well The Spirit. “If the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in me….” That’s a verse we always told Grace and Evie to recite when they weren’t feeling good or they came up against something they didn’t think they could handle. Something like a fight.

So I fight on. When will it end? Ask the experts. Six months, one year, never. There will be different kinds of battles, some say. Depression, anger, bitterness, fear. Some say it will make us better people, we will grow from this battle, just allow it to come. Whatever the enemy looks like, whatever its name may be, just let him hit you until you feel swollen, bloody, bruised and worked over. I often wonder how many of these experts have been in a ring like this.

“He will quicken my mortal body.” I know something that most of the books don’t tell me, though. I know that this fight I am in, this battle that is raging on, is not something I battle alone. Of course I realize that Jim is in his own fight, so is Evie, so is everyone that loved Grace, but they have their own rings, their own final bells. I know that in my ring, standing behind me sometimes, standing next to me often, but mostly standing in front of me softening the blows, is the Spirit of God. He fights with me every day, and when I can’t take anymore, he pulls me in the corner, cleans my wounds, fixes my swollen eyes and puts Vaseline on my cheek bones, to help some of the blows slide off. Then I am ready to stand and fight again.

I have no final bell in my foreseeable future, but I can fight this fight, I can battle this adversary, I can withstand every round. Not because I think I will win. I don’t see there being a clear winner in this one, but because I don’t fight alone. I have help fighting, I have help in my corner and I have help in the crowd. They cheer me on, that great cloud of witnesses. And if I look closely, between the punches, I can spot one particular witness. She’s about 5’10” (at least that’s what she told people), she has beautiful blond, bouncy hair. She has blue eyes that shine bright with joy, and a big smile, with a clear gap between her two front teeth.

I’ll fight any battle with that kind of help.

The Fight