Archive | March 2014

only believe.

Every year, I am amazed at the transformation that takes place from winter to spring. Ice and snow seem ripped away, exposing scarred lawns of dead grass.  Lifeless trees look ghostly against the sky.  And mud is everywhere, making everything look dirty.

But then, it happens.

The prelude begins with fresh, green shoots poking out from beneath dead leaves. Delicate buds form on the tree limbs. The mud disappears. And the gentle rain washes everything new.

Life is like that.

There are seasons of waiting, wondering, and yes, even weeping. Times of feeling like everything has been stripped away, leaving you exposed.

It won’t last forever.

God figured hope in the equation. And just like the hope of spring is a certainty, whatever you are going through will change – for certain.

Tomorrow is a new day. A new season awaits you.

Only believe.

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photo credit: Moyan_Brenn / Foter / CC BY-ND

scripture friday.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

what is mankind that you are mindful of them,

human beings that you care for them?

Psalm 8

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photo credit: herbraab / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

a new day.

Spring is coming. It always comes. It never misses. Ever.

Jesus said the natural world helps us understand spiritual things – those things pertaining to God.

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You may be in the “winter” of life with many concerns that are covered with a blanket of uncertainty. Maybe you feel stuck between where you were and where you are going.

Whatever it is, spring will come. Just when you least expect it, something will change.

Wait for it with hope and anticipation!

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Photo credit: mjhccl / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

a mother’s grief.

Since my son died, there is a part of my heart that is numb.

It was fractured . Just like a broken bone, it mended.

But it doesn’t look the same. It doesn’t work the same.

Did you ever cut your hand? Even though it healed, there is a scar? Or it feels numb in that area?

It’s like that.

A part of my heart lost its feeling. I can’t remember the last time I felt that down deep, warm feeling about someone or something.

I want to. I so desperately miss that feeling. But it’s gone. It just doesn’t work.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not walking around like a shell. It may not be noticed by others.

But I notice.

I don’t dwell on this. That’s the key. You have to live with it. It doesn’t define who you are, but it definitely affects who you are.

And this is the hidden part that frustrates people because you are not who you once were.

If this describes you, you are not alone! We’re going to make it. We have to. There’s life to live and people to love!

But it’s a choice. Just like the person who is told they are unlikely to walk again, they do not focus on what they can’t do but what they can do…or might do!

And for me, I know God has covered that part of my heart, and protects it from further damage.

He wants to do that for you, too.

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photo credit: @Doug88888 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

scripture friday.

Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength;

They will mount up with wings like eagles,

They will run and not get tired,

They will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 40:31

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Photo credit: Moosealope / Foter / CC BY

waiting.

Waiting is not easy. Not in the world we live in today.

A watched pot never boils.

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Life is like that.

It seems like forever when you’re waiting.

Just as that water will not boil until it reaches 212*F, no matter what you do to hasten it along …

… you cannot hasten along your situation.

Settle down.

Breathe.

Wait.

~~~

Photo credit: Vélocia / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

grieving the death of a child.

Rick and Kay Warren lost their son to suicide last year.

The following is a recent Facebook post from Kay.

I am adding it to my blog because I believe it will help so many who have lost a child. Many of us are “lost” with how our culture deals with grief. Her comments are strikingly similar to all grieving parents.

Please understand – the tone of her comments, along with how many grieving parents feel, is not bitterness.

It’s to help us understand grief, but especially with the death of a child.

As the one-year anniversary of Matthew’s death approaches, I have been shocked by some subtle and not-so-subtle comments indicating that perhaps I should be ready to “move on.” The soft, compassionate cocoon that has enveloped us for the last 11 1/2 months had lulled me into believing others would be patient with us on our grief journey, and while I’m sure many will read this and quickly say “Take all the time you need,” I’m increasingly aware that the cocoon may be in the process of collapsing. It’s understandable when you take a step back. I mean, life goes on. The thousands who supported us in the aftermath of Matthew’s suicide wept and mourned with us, prayed passionately for us, and sent an unbelievable volume of cards, letters, emails, texts, phone calls, and gifts. The support was utterly amazing. But for most, life never stopped – their world didn’t grind to a horrific, catastrophic halt on April 5, 2013. In fact, their lives have kept moving steadily forward with tasks, routines, work, kids, leisure, plans, dreams, goals etc. LIFE GOES ON. And some of them are ready for us to go on too. They want the old Rick and Kay back. They secretly wonder when things will get back to normal for us – when we’ll be ourselves, when the tragedy of April 5, 2013 will cease to be the grid that we pass everything across. And I have to tell you – the old Rick and Kay are gone. They’re never coming back. We will never be the same again. There is a new “normal.” April 5, 2013 has permanently marked us. It will remain the grid we pass everything across for an indeterminate amount of time….maybe forever.


Because these comments from well-meaning folks wounded me so deeply, I doubted myself and thought perhaps I really am not grieving “well” (whatever that means). I wondered if I was being overly sensitive –so I checked with parents who have lost children to see if my experience was unique. Far from it, I discovered. “At least you can have another child” one mother was told shortly after her child’s death. “You’re doing better, right?” I was asked recently. “When are you coming back to the stage at Saddleback? We need you” someone cluelessly said to me recently. “People can be so rude and insensitive; they make the most thoughtless comments,” one grieving father said. You know, it wasn’t all that long ago that it was standard in our culture for people to officially be in mourning for a full year. They wore black. They didn’t go to parties. They didn’t smile a whole lot. And everybody accepted their period of mourning; no one ridiculed a mother in black or asked her stupid questions about why she was STILL so sad. Obviously, this is no longer accepted practice; mourners are encouraged to quickly move on, turn the corner, get back to work, think of the positive, be grateful for what is left, have another baby, and other unkind, unfeeling, obtuse and downright cruel comments. What does this say about us – other than we’re terribly uncomfortable with death, with grief, with mourning, with loss – or we’re so self-absorbed that we easily forget the profound suffering the loss of a child creates in the shattered parents and remaining children.

Unless you’ve stood by the grave of your child or cradled the urn that holds their ashes, you’re better off keeping your words to some very simple phrases: “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Or “I’m praying for you and your family.” Do your best to avoid the meaningless, catch-all phrase “How are you doing?” This question is almost impossible to answer. If you’re a stranger, it’s none of your business. If you’re a casual acquaintance, it’s excruciating to try to answer honestly, and you leave the sufferer unsure whether to lie to you (I’m ok) to end the conversation or if they should try to haltingly tell you that their right arm was cut off and they don’t know how to go on without it. If you’re a close friend, try telling them instead, “You don’t have to say anything at all; I’m with you in this.”

None of us wants to be like Job’s friends – the pseudo comforters who drove him mad with their questions, their wrong conclusions and their assumptions about his grief. But too often we end up a 21st century Bildad, Eliphaz or Zophar – we fill the uncomfortable silence with words that wound rather than heal. I’m sad to realize that even now – in the middle of my own shattering loss – I can be callous with the grief of another and rush through the conversation without really listening, blithely spouting the platitudes I hate when offered to me. We’re not good grievers, and when I judge you, I judge myself as well.

Here’s my plea: Please don’t ever tell someone to be grateful for what they have left until they’ve had a chance to mourn what they’ve lost. It will take longer than you think is reasonable, rational or even right. But that’s ok. True friends – unlike Job’s sorry excuse for friends – love at all times, and brothers and sisters are born to help in time of need (Prov. 17:17 LB).The truest friends and “helpers” are those who wait for the griever to emerge from the darkness that swallowed them alive without growing afraid, anxious or impatient. They don’t pressure their friend to be the old familiar person they’re used to; they’re willing to accept that things are different, embrace the now-scarred one they love, and are confident that their compassionate, non-demanding presence is the surest expression of God’s mercy to their suffering friend. They’re ok with messy and slow and few answers….and they never say “Move on.”

Kay Warren