Thursday, May 29, 2014

Prayers and Paper Plates

I got the news just a few hours ago. Another young, momma was widowed last night. My heart breaks for her as she faces a day that is different than any she has ever experienced, as she realizes her new normal has to be established.

Circumstances and the way grief plays out for people cannot be compared or even necessarily anticipated, but the one thing I know as the honest truth is that God holds grievers in a way that forever changes them and the way they approach life. I have had the privilege of being put in contact with precious new widows from all over the country. Their stories are as varied and different, but everyone wants to know the same answer to the same question voiced in as many ways as there are grains of sand: Will I be okay?

Each time I try to answer the question it always comes back to them as a different question, "Do you know God?" or "Are you willing to know Him?" Because the short answer, for most people is "Yes, you'll be okay." But I am anxious for those grieving to know a much better place than "okay." It does take some time...and it takes so many tears that I don't even want to think about and it takes understanding that living with the pain of grief continues forever (as depressing as that sounds, it's true) but if you are willing to take the long, hard work of grieving with God then you can be more than okay, you will thrive. I want them to know it is a promise from God that He will turn their ashes into beauty and their mourning into dancing. It is the God honest Truth.
 And as I type that out and know it to be true to the depths of my soul, I know that in the beginning of the grief, those first weeks and months it feels the entire world has been turned upside down and the only thing that helps are the prayers from the people that surround the griever. These people are the hands and feet of Jesus as He mends the griever's broken heart as only He knows how to do. The people that just show up without being asked with paper plates, chick-fil-a nuggets, and a hand to hold. But these people also know to not stay too long or expect a thank you card because the griever is going through a physical and mental exhaustion unlike anything they've ever experienced. The people that know to take the trash out and run the dishwasher because chores do not stop although the griever does. The people that the griever knows best can ask to take their kid(s) to the park because kids don't stop wanting to play although the momma doesn't have the energy, but has all the guilt of not being able to do it right now. No one needs to worry about flowery sentiments or the perfect Psalm to tell the griever at this point. He or she won't ever remember specifics during this time, they will remember the faces, hugs, tears shared, and being reminded that they are not in this alone.

Then one sweet day in the not too distant future, their pain turns from technicolor to black and white. They will recognize the beauty and peace provided for them, so much of it in fact they will have to share it with another new griever that comes along. The abundance of God's love is too much not to share. It has to overflow. And He uses the hearts He's mended to be the ones to do it.

"And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus" 1 Timothy 1:14

To God be the glory.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

God's Post-it Note

This year my one word resolution is "rest." It's been such a freeing time in my life to allow myself to rest. That may sound strange to some people, but to a recovering people pleaser/run to the next thing on my list type of person it isn't. I read somewhere that you know you need to re-evaluate life when you don't mind getting sick because it gives you an excuse to get rest without feeling guilty. That's where I was a year or so ago. Thanks be to God that He directs my paths to learn about these areas I need to address in my life to feel peaceful. God says He will take our burdens and His yoke is light, so when I start feeling heavy I know that it's time for some vertical realignment.
 It takes a daily, sometimes hourly, reminding that my spirit being fed first is what will keep my peaceful attitude. My friend Julie encouraged me to sign up for the IF:Equip email each day and read through Acts with the online community. It has been so uplifting and not intimidating at all. In the past I felt I had to read whole chapters or even a book of the bible each day to get my "fill." The ladies with "IF" have broken it down into a few verses each day to read and reflect on. It is amazing how much I miss when I speed read through chapters. These last couple of days it's been focusing on Acts 4 and how boldly uneducated Peter speaks to the people about the miracles he's witnessed. Peter and John are told to stop speaking or teaching about Jesus and then in Acts 4:20 they say "...we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

They can't not tell people about the wonders of God's power. And the same is true for anyone who has experienced it. I cannot stop telling anyone who will sit still long enough about the way God carried me from the darkest pit to a place where I can see and appreciate life again on a whole new level. I never would have dreamed that a nightmare could be replaced with such an appreciation for life that I fully embrace it and want others so desperately to know the freedom to be found in God alone.

Ethan is over two months old now. So young that his time is still measured in months, but this precious little boy represents the beauty that can come from ashes. His blue eyes melt me. Thomas can't quit saying "What a little cutie!" and  smothering loving on him. Caroline wants to hold him and change some diapers. We are cherishing this time together as the gift that it is.
I am about 420 months old. Wouldn't it be funny if we continued to talk in months instead of years about our age? I am painfully aware that our days are numbered, yet today several friends of mine are walking the path of being told a specific number of days are left for their loved ones right now and it has been a reminder, even to me, of how ridiculously short the time is we have together here. 420 months so far for me...Acts 4:20 speaking today to me. It's one of God's holy post-it notes He left for me today...I can't not tell someone today about God's faithfulness.