Mayday

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Tomorrow begins the month of May. May used to be my favorite month. I love spring. I love the new leaves on the trees, plants emerging from their winter sleep and my flowering pear trees, that bloom white and make me smile whenever I see them. I also enjoyed the fact that May ends with Memorial Day (one of my favorite holidays) and my birthday.

After my dad died, something I wasn’t prepared for, was the drastic change I felt for holidays, special events and my birthday. I didn’t want to celebrate them anymore, especially my birthday. My dad would race the family to be the first Happy Birthday any of us would receive on our day. It kept getting earlier each year (mainly because my dad and sister were competitive) which kept us laughing. But on May 31, 2010, there was no early morning phone call, and I realized that there never would be again.

And now another loss, a greater loss….and so I am preparing myself for this month. A school play, she won’t be acting in, a spring concert, she won’t be singing in, a Mother’s Day that will be missing half of what makes me a mother, a graduation ceremony, she won’t walk in and a birthday that will be another “Happy” short.

Below is an entry from my journal a week after the accident:

“I have told a few people that I lived in a self-built city. It was a beautiful city. If you looked around you would see a house for each of my daughters, one for my husband and I, a work house, a church house and so on, in my lovely city. There were problems, where aren’t there problems, but at least I knew what they were, I could see them coming, I could deal with them. Then last Monday night, in a crippling blink, my city was attacked, my oldest daughters house fell, and as it toppled, it brought with it my entire city. I now stand in the ruins of what was a beautiful city. I stand, staring at my husband and remaining daughter, and I wonder, how am I going to ever rebuild.”

I realized this morning, while reading Psalm 31, (my 2016 chapter), that my city is still under siege. And May is going to be a month full of attacks. When I picture this in my mind, I see a “Lord of the Rings” type castle, with enemies all around the wall. In verse 22 though, David says “In my alarm or panic, I said ‘I am cut off from Your sight, Lord!’ Yet You heard my cry for mercy when I called to You for help.”

Every time something comes my way this month, every time another special event or holiday approaches, I have the choice to tell myself one of two things…I am cut off from God’s sight, He doesn’t see, He doesn’t care, I am alone, or I can tell myself…He hears my cry for mercy, He shows me His wonderful love daily, and in His dwelling I am safe (not free from sadness, but safe).

The very last verse of chapter 31 says, “Be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” My sweet friend reminded me this morning that our job is to have the courage and hope, but it’s God’s job to provide the strength, which He will faithfully do.

Then Jim reminded me that God is still God in May, and because He is, I will be safe in my city, even when it’s under attack, because in His shelter, I will take refuge.

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Mayday

Dangerous Prayers

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I have prayed a few prayers in my lifetime that I won’t pray again unless I’m really prepared for an answer. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23. I was diligent about praying this scripture years ago…and when God began to answer it, I underwent a few solid years of intense awareness of my own thoughts and how “what a man eats does not make him unclean, but what proceeds from the heart (Matt. 15:18) and that “the heart is deceitful above all things” (Jer. 17:9). It was a time in my life when I would battle internally for days, weeks, months, with unwanted thoughts, and I would ask, beg, plead with the Lord to deliver me from them, but I learned so much through those difficult days. I learned that God was, in fact, strongest when I was weakest, that His grace was and is sufficient for me and that my thought-life, although hidden from the outside world, was not hidden from my Heavenly Father, and it was something that He desired to be Lord of too.

Another prayer that should be carefully considered is the one that asks God to teach patience. Now I don’t know why some prayers get answered quicker than others, but if you pray for added patience, please be prepared for ample opportunities to practice this fruit in every area of your life. In your home, with your family, at the grocery store and especially on the road, when your running late. You have been warned.

So I am going to post below one of the prayers Grace wrote out a few months before the accident. I have read and reread it and wondered if I would have the courage to pray the same prayer. Grace’s life brought honor and glory to the Lord, but her legacy does also. Am I willing to allow the Lord to do anything with my life, as long as it’s what glorifies Him the most? Am I willing to allow this grief stage of my life to point others to Him? Or will I get stuck in what I wanted my life to look like, instead of what God is prompting me to accept?

 

My Purpose                       8-2-15

Lord,

I can’t seem to find my true God-given purpose in life. What do you want me to do to bring the most glory and honor to You? I know You have planned something great for me, but I have no idea what that is! My life lacks excitement, not knowing what comes next, spontaneity. Show me Your plan Lord, help me to bring glory and honor to You.

Love, Grace

Dangerous Prayers

Handle This…

 

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Theology is something Grace exceled at. The study of the nature of God, just came natural to her. Bible was her favorite class in school and she just understood it. She passed me up a long time ago when it came to memorizing scripture, she was able to identify false religions in small conversations she encountered, and wrong doctrine was just that, wrong. She just knew. I know part of it was her school and the time and effort her teachers put into her. I know that part of it was us, and our extended family, pouring scripture into her whenever we had the opportunity, but some of it was just Grace’s tender heart for Jesus and for others.

As we began going through her room in the days following the accident, we started to find notebooks filled with prayers, letters, poems and words she felt God was speaking to her. I think we all have been a little overwhelmed by just who she really was. It made it that much harder dealing with her loss, in some ways.

I am going to be completely honest, I can’t handle this. A loss of this magnitude is not something anyone should have to handle and yet, almost of a daily basis, I hear the phrase, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

I’ve known a great amount of people that have been “given” more than they can handle. A marriage that feels cold and lonely, a child who refuses to get their lives on track, a diagnosis that leaves little hope, an alcoholic father, or a mother that has lost the ability to nurture. All things outside of what we can handle.

This well-meaning saying has no scripture to give it validity. Without digging too deep into what the Bible actually says, just know two things….God, most likely, was not the one that gave you the item to which you are struggling with, and you can’t handle it, but He can.

Paul, arguably the greatest missionary of all time, talks about struggles, items to which he felt under qualified to deal with, areas in his life that he pleaded with God to remove, but he resigned himself to the storm by a quick look at his reality. A reality that becomes our same reality if we have a relationship with Jesus. Paul says, “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong, because of Christ’s power that rests on me.”

We need to learn that we can’t handle all that this life throws at us. If there were a shipwreck, and you were in the water, when the rescue boat came pulling up, would you yell “I can handle this, thanks though?” Of course not, you would receive the help, because without it, you would drown.

Let God rescue you through Jesus. He desires to carry your burdens, He desires to unload your backpack of doubt, fear, worry and pain. He loves you.

Almost daily now, I am up at 5:00 AM. I don’t know why, but it gives me time to pray, read and write. It gives me time to cry and sometimes tell God how unfair this all is. It gives me time to say to my heavenly Father “I can’t handle today, I can’t be the wife and mother I need to be. I am in a million broken pieces and I feel unfixable. BUT YOU, O LORD. You can handle today, because You have gone before me. You can help me be who I need to be today, because Your mercies are new every morning, and You, my Savior, can take this broken heart, bind up the many shattered pieces, and make it whole again.”

I can’t handle this, but God, You can. 

Handle This…

Renovations

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My best friend and I have often joked about how different our ideas of a clean house are. She is a deep cleaner. She enjoys the floors scrubbed, the sinks spotless and the rugs washed. Often times, a stack of magazines will need to be moved in order to scrub the floors, or a pile of clothes might need to relocate for the rugs to get soaked, but the deep cleaning is important to her. Now in my house, deep cleaning is something that happens only when my sweet sister-in-law comes over to help. But I hate clutter. When I clean, I don’t get the floor wax out (I honestly don’t even know how to use that stuff, sorry mom). I get boxes and garbage bags out, so I can throw stuff away. I don’t like piles of dishes, piles of clothes or piles of anything visible to my eye. I like the kitchen counter cleared off (even if the dirty dishes are in the sink), the living room floor has to be free of stuff, and my room…well even if the clothes are not hung up, they are off the floor and on a chair. She and I have often laughed at how we, combined, would make the perfect housekeeper.

My mind works best with order. Everything has its place. I will survey a room and see what still needs to be kept and what can go to the curb to make my life simpler.

Before the accident, I had most of my life clutter free. I knew where things belonged, everything had its place and if something seemed to be taking too much space, I would remove it. I didn’t take on tasks that I couldn’t complete with excellence, I didn’t say yes to requests, unless I knew I could carry them out. Now, living in a post-accident, state of mind, my answer to most everything is “I don’t know.”

I don’t know what a good day looks like.

I don’t know how I’m living without my Grace.

I don’t know why I’m not angrier.

I don’t know who is to blame.

I just don’t know.

Right now we are in the middle of a minor renovation. A small office area outside of Evie’s room is being transformed into a lounge area. She wanted somewhere to watch movies with her friends, hang out, and she also wanted a bench that could be made into a bed, so that her friends could have a place to sleep.

Because of that renovation, my house is cluttered. There are boxes filled with DVDs in the living room, piles of papers on the desk, and everything that doesn’t have a spot to go, is sitting on Evie’s bedroom floor.

But my house resembles my heart right now. Nothing has a specific place, everything is out of order and I desperately want to declutter, but I can’t. I’m learning, even though it hurts, that there is no order in a house of grief, there is no cleaning up piles of tears, I can’t throw away memory’s, even the tiniest ones, because memory’s are all I have now.

These are the moments that God reminds me that He has a perfect plan. He will clean things up, in His time, and He will teach me lessons in the midst of the clutter, if I will listen. Even though I want to fix this, I can’t, but He can. Daily I hand my clutter back to Him because I just don’t know what else to do with it, but He does.

God is good, in my best friend’s house, where the floors are clean; and God is good, in my messy, cluttered, house. My house is in the middle of a renovation, but so is my heart, and nothing is where it should be, but God is still good.

 

Renovations