Monday, January 18, 2010

After the REST

I smile a crooked smile. A pondering smile. Most people that know me would not be surprised to see me lost in thought. When one travels the highways, there are 'rest stops' along the way. (some are coned off now due to economic times) Sometimes these rest stops are needed more than other times; traveling with little children or pregnant moms or even old ones of us. You can't stay overnight. There comes a time when you have to move on. Life is not an end in itself, but merely part of a journey.
Grief is a journey. It really does lighten up after a while, although there will be the poignant moments when our loved one is sorely missed. Like during Pomp and Circumstance. Biola University. December graduation. The robes of the professors were stunning with all the colors in the scarves. But color pales in comparison to the lives of the graduates as they made their way into the packed gymnasium. The wave of emotion hit me broadside faster than a Tsunami. If I had been alone I probably would have sobbed wildly. This evening I just gasped and smiled proudly between the rain draining quickly from my eyes. "Oh, your dad would be so proud." The magna cum laude is a great honor, but even moreso to have you as a son! Dr. B and Dr. J--what gracious words they had for you. What a praise that God would so graciously answer a mother's prayer! Meeting the men that would be God's shield and provision for you. Mentor doesn't even capture the godly and tender warrior role these men played in your life. To laugh and cry with you, to challenge and encourage you. May God grant these men, and others, grace and blessings as they continue to be servants of the Most High God; shepherding as God places particular sheep in their paths.
And then there is the faithful 'got your back friend.' All the way from the first 'rest stop' of 5th grade. Rest stop is appropriate as you certainly did NOT want to stop long in school--let's get 'er done! (and WHY do we have to go to school?) :) E.O. has been an amazing friend. Always one to know that you've had enough hugs from folks after your dad took his final earthly rest. One who is there to celebrate your high points in life and your low ones quietly along the way. Resting, if you will, nearby until the Lord sets you right on your feet for your next chapter. I will be forever grateful to those who come to your side when I am far from you. It's part of the rest of the story when you fly from the nest.
My nest is changing again. 2 have flown and another flies this spring. I am being courted by a godly man from a town nearby. He encourages a rest in the Lord. He is smart and funny and conversational. He is perfectly an imperfect man. Eventually I will share with you the rest of this blossoming story when comes the fragrance of the cherry blossoms later this month. Time for rest now. God is good.

Monday, April 27, 2009


4 15 09
Irony of it being tax day!!

After a long absence of writing (publically), I am drawn to share this entry with you called “Stop-Loss.” Why this phrase kept coming to my mind, I don’t know. My apologies to financial folks. My mind kept being drawn to the military reference of a ‘stop-loss order.’ A paraphrase of a stop-loss order is an order that is given to military members who do not want to re-enlist but are not allowed to get out of the military. Often this is due to a need to keep the present numbers in the military or a particular need for this service person’s gifting/ability. Wikipedia defines it as “the involuntary extension of a service member's active duty service under the enlistment contract in order to retain them beyond their initial end of term of service (ETS) date.”

Intro: I wrote this almost 2 months ago and I did not share it then because I was not sure of its message. Now I understand it clearer and it has been affirmed through further understanding of the grief cycle. The ‘Stop-Loss Order’ on my grief is over. While I believe I was finished my grief a while ago, I now believe I can make a clear public statement that this chapter is closed. The memories of past chapters will always be an underpinning of future chapters as Michael’s life is inextricably woven into mine. The new chapters, however, will contain me as a single, whole person. The decisions I make as a child of the King are between me and Him. I no longer base my decisions on what Michael would want. Please don’t get me wrong. Many decisions could include thoughts/values we shared, but they are now presented from me alone.

Somewhere along the line it happens. Grief Stops being self-focused. Soon after one’s own loss there are others—another church member, a terminally ill child in the community, the soldier-hero in the next town, your friend’s are sad for them but you run the loss parallel to your own. (Two friends lost parents in the last 2 days.) You understand the (what I call) “behind the veil understanding,” the connected part of your relationship with the one lost and the reality of yourself still being on this side of life. Eventually your inner being separates from the one you have lost in a way that they become “other” though a woven part of the tapestry of who you are. You can begin to address the losses of others in a ‘whole presence’ kind of way.

I often remind people that we cannot ever compare losses-each one is unique like a snowflake. We do, however, run similarities and feel the comparisons. Grace growing in our lives begins to release us to love and hurt for others. I’m still pondering how one processes memories. I missed Michael’s presence today. It is better for one to allow this. If not, then we feel we have to cover it, fix it, or hide it. I appreciated the things I missed and enjoyed the feelings the memories evoked. (I'm actually entering this on what would have been our 23rd anniversary, April 26th.)

My boss’ sister took her journey to Jesus a few weeks ago—cancer took her body but joy and praise radiated from her being I’ve been told. Grief can be like cancer—it can destroy us bit by bit. Or, we can embrace the effects of grief and grow in obedience and trust. It will change things in our life but God will lead us one step at a time to the new normal—a place where we begin to have purpose again; where we can see fruit in our lives based on who we are in Jesus (minus one type of identity). We even enter opportunities to comfort others “as we have been comforted (II Corinthians 1:3-5). It is a humbling and rewarding experience. Do we ever imagine we could be in this place or role?!

Maybe that is the ‘stop-loss.’ God keeps us in a certain place of grief until HE designs us to transition into the ‘shift change’ of the new chapter of our lives.

How is God using the circumstances of YOUR life? I met a new friend this week. Her name is Debbie. I am so proud of how she is serving as an ambassador for the King of Kings in the workplace...never a mission field she would have planned for herself. Go God!

Today...His day.
He is worthy of praise. His loss--my gain. Humbling.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kicking Up Sand

I was at the beach recently and observed a mom intertwined with her child as they playfully were kicking up sand at each other’s feet. The giggling gleeful joy is unmistakable. I think it is separate from time. It embeds a memory of connection, playing, and intentional relationship.

I’m sitting here observing the light beginning to change at the end of the day. The shadows are increasing, but still the brightness pervades as the last bits of sunlight try to skate along the landscape that will pick up the beams left above the horizon. There’s a part of grief that can be hard to let go of…a shifting of the memories…some moving me from sadness to rejoicing that they were a part of my life.

I spent some time reflecting. Reflection is light bouncing off of an object. Sometimes it is an event or a person that so impacts our life. When we lose a spouse, especially, there is a knitting of the souls that has happened and now is torn apart. I’ve always loved the miraculous picture of Psalm 139….we were known BEFORE we were knit together in our parents’ womb. Marriage knitting takes place after much is formed in a person’s life. Grief doesn’t unravel it, although it feels like that at times!!! Grief just defines the borders. There are no new rows, no new pearls. There is, however, the looking back over the fabric, the weaves and colors. It will take a lifetime to see all the colors as sometimes they change with the light of the seasons. There is an appreciation of some (colors/events) in ways we can’t imagine; they heighten or bless new memories. The colors show up in children as they grow and take on the shades of the one departed.

The knitting that happens through a relationship becomes a part of who we are. Michael and I shared likes and dislikes with even some of those changing through the years as we learned to appreciate what the other person enjoyed. Still never got the mushroom thing…maybe that was the stitch that kept dropping.

Now as a single and learning contentment in that role, there is a fascination to embracing who I am as a “knitted person.” I can’t take away what Michael and I learned together, but I also am not visible as two, but one. Friends don’t treat me as “two” but as an individual, whole person, such as each of us are. Some knitting is in the hidden mysteries and heart of God and some is visible in His placement of people in our lives or external events…like the neighborhood where we live, where we work, or the life action that happens around us.

New people who we meet now see a knitted person (but not without holes!) They maybe never met Michael or your loved one. I have grown and blossomed as a person because of the ‘knittedness’ in my life, but how do I think of that...ponder that without staying stuck there? For me I think I am seeing new colors in the knitting because I am allowing memories to surface and enjoying the effect the colors bring to my life now. I am enjoying the spectrum of the lights as they illuminate the new normal and add richness to life.

My youngest just shared that he may be being called to be a Children’s Pastor. Hmmmmm. It is so wildly wonderful to see him maturing and processing relationships, especially with his heavenly Father. His earthly father will always be knit into his life.

My oldest is in Asia with a friend I’ve known for almost 25 years. He had to go to the copy store the other day with only the language of the locals. My other college son is showing his last pig this week for 4-H (postscript: he took 8th in a showmanship class of about 30) and getting ready for a tour to Southern CA with his band, Dice in the Icebox. How pigs and bands relate, I have yet to discover, but I’m not doing the knitting. My girl is turning 16. The little girl I used to dress up in frilly dresses is now putting together outfits for me! She has her own relationship with Jesus and is knitted forever to His hand. She celebrates what her daddy gave to her and pours out that love on the children she works with and the friends she listens to.

The dog continues to be a sweet part of our lives, though not with frustrations…never mind the hair…but maybe we could knit a beautiful golden blanket someday soon.

Do we ever ponder the end of Psalm 139 and how it fits with the beginning?? Maybe I’ll ponder that for next time. “Clean knitting?” I’m so glad God knows my heart and is responsible for all the knitting in time!!

I am entwined in the heart of my Father…kicking up sand and giggling with glee…it comes out of connection, playing, and intentional relationship. Have you kicked up a little sand with someone lately?

Knit one, pearl two…
p.s. Thanks for your prayers for the missions class I took. God graced me with an A-!! I wonder if Michael had something to do with that? Encouragement from friends for sure! Prayers for our community with recent tragedies affecting many people, but definitely opening doors for Jesus' love to be shared and embraced. Quite a difference when a family that is left behind has an undergirding of the in Jesus...who loved us so much he paid the price for the ickiness in our we can have the sure hope of heaven. A hope to hang onto that can be real today...forever.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Thin Black Line

May I ask you a question? If you decide to keep reading, I guess you have given me permission.

Let me set the stage. I was up at Daffodil Hill last week and there was a bird cage there with 4 beautiful doves. They were light-colored, with a barely perceptible pink tone to them. Their feathers made them look cloud-soft. Not until they would tuck their heads to preen themselves could one see the black ring around the back of their necks. I’m not sure if it went all the way around or not.

Reflect on that picture…the hidden black line. Anything come to your mind? I know people are wired differently and there would be all kinds of answers if I actually got written or spoken feedback. The line—just a thin black line. Hidden. Beautiful soft pink feathers…almost like fur…attracting the real attention. If you bat an eye, one might even miss the ducking of the head which reveals the line. I love God’s creativity. Sparing you any more contemplation than you can bear…

I have been stewing on that thin black line for a week now. Thin ice, the fine black print on the bottom of the document…thin things; not really important until it breaks/breaks through…The thin black line. Where one stands? There’s a huge chasm of difference on one side than the other. Grammar just kind of goes out the window right now.

I’m taking a missions course called Perspectives. It’s an apt name because it is all about different perspectives on missions…part of our mandate as a Believer. Tonight the speaker impacted my heart and soul in ways that I have not been impacted for many years. It was not about being moved through emotion, it was about the spoken Word, the Word of Truth…bringing together many thoughts and ideas that together form a step….once taken…causing the forward movement in one’s journey in Christ. I thought I could keep writing right now, but I seem to have to let it stew…

Okay, back at it. When one loses someone, especially a spouse, as that is what I can relate to presently…I have a number of dear friends with parents in their last days…there is a tearing of a oneness that leaves the one left behind in sort of “two worlds.” Maybe it’s even something a mom feels when she loses a child. It is like standing by a veil. I had my body on one side but my heart was on the other side. There are things there that one can’t explain. I could look people in the eyes but part of me was behind this veil. Words can’t even explain the feelings of finding the veil running right through my heart and soul. It wasn’t about wanting to die (although that does go through one’s mind)…it was more about trying to see and not knowing what I was really focusing on. “Was it okay to have my feet on one side? Can others see this torn flesh? Do they see the veil?” The veil is private, but it felt like it was a neon light. I know these words don’t even do justice to what I experienced.

Last night this veil reappeared. I saw it through the word pictures of our speaker. I saw it in the understanding of trying to share the grace and love of Jesus cross-culturally. I saw it especially woven into the fabric of the false religions…Islam…words so many can’t even express because they live hopeless lives or in false hope that they can’t even see beyond. My heart is aching that I can’t even express what filled my heart.

Our speaker shared about years of his boyhood when he would sit outside under a lamppost in the evenings because he was afraid of the dark. It was a picture God used to teach him when he traveled back to Lebanon as an adult. He could have missed it. God had a message there for him. That image is burned in my heart. Later we heard a testimony of a Muslim who has come to Jesus. Amazing. This verse screamed across my mind, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” I Peter 2:9

God returned me to the image of the veil…a time when life and death were so real and excruciatingly raw. Do many lost people walk that thin line where they don’t know what side of life and death they are on? Do they have that stare in their eyes that they wouldn’t even know what to say, let alone ask? Contemplating grace. How does Jesus…How does Grace come to a person. It is not about me bringing it…it is a surrendered vessel.

I am faced with the thin black line. Hidden. I know and accept that I may make little, if any, sense at all. I pondered Romans 1:20…releasing “worry” for those who don’t have a witness of Jesus among them. Releasing this worry not in respect to setting aside those people, but allowing my heart to see this whole plan is God’s story of redemption and He will do it…His heart wants to draw all men unto Himself. Now as an individual I stand with my hands open. I’ve come to the cross alone, but yet God puts me in a family…the Body of Christ. How then is this Body of Believers useable for Him? Do I help the Body be most useable for Him by operating in the gifts He has given me? Do I hinder the Body? I know we cannot show love as a Body save that we EACH know how much God loves us. Do we know…can we begin to grasp the immense love He has for each of us?

I’ve seen it (love) in death, because death here, for a Believer, means life in its fullness there. His Presence…true love…the veil is torn…by Him. We see because He is present with us. He goes ahead…the same way He will as He leads us in this journey called ‘life.’ This closing paragraph isn’t done. It’s in process. I’m in process…
Journeying with you,

p.s. I should have thrown the snowball.
p.s. Our new teenager is a sweet blessing to our family. She is 1--a Golden Retriever

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Cinderella...a perspective?

I'm sure it was the wicked step-mother that was making me iron all those clothes. Where do they come from? Can I just say...I have nothing weighty to say...

I went running today. It's good to be out. The creek along the trail tells its story along the way, sometimes louder than at other places. It always amazes me what one will find in the creek...a skateboard helmet, a frisbee, and of course the obligatory trash. Today an older lady on a scooter showed me the ducks that are back. They looked like they were dancing around one another between dives under the water. Further down the trail I was privileged to watch the egret soar over the creek and gently glide in to settle down for a rest. They are quite unique with their 's-shaped' neck. I don't know who was watching the other more--me or the egret.

The bulbs are all blooming and I feel almost overwhelmed to try to take it all in. That's been a small victory of late...not looking at the whole list of things that need to get done...just doing an extra thing here and there. Maybe one day the list will blow away in the wind. So who says daydreaming is wrong? My daughter finished Singing in the Rain today. Oh how I love to walk in the rain. One son returned from a conference and the other left for one. My oldest just started his own radio program at his college. I'm sure he will ruffle some a good way. All 4 kids have hinted at really missing their dad this week. Appreciate your prayers for them.

The pumpkin (from the fall) is still on the front porch. It's a Charlie Brown pumpkin and it hasn't rotted yet. I haven't seen the mice that will turn it into a coach, but we do have a cat that thinks it lives on our front porch. Would you PLEASE tell it to go away. My daughter told it our dog would eat it. (Yes, we're getting a dog.)

There are so many adjustments to finding one's new normal. It seems there is a real need in our area for a widows group. It is exciting to see what God is starting. I have a feeling He wants to use our group to bring hope to new widows we are meeting. It is so comforting to see other faces of ladies who are on the same journey. It's a balm...unlike the ironing pile that just laughs at me weekly. I think if I was Cinderella I would twinkle my nose and have all my clothes ironed as soon as they came out of the dryer. (My friend said just buy things that don't need ironing). Burlap gets itchy and polyester...ick.

This blog entry probably makes little sense, but some days are just like that. They are a little unplanned, drifting here and there. I'm learning about faith and being stretched in waiting...for direction and timing on ministry stuff and dog stuff and finding time to write. The stars are beautiful in the night sky and God is on His throne. I'm half way through a course on missions called Perspectives. Isn't that what we all need? To keep the right perspective. I read a lot and ponder a lot. I absolutely love the Bible study I get to facilitate with a bunch of young moms (and a few other ladies who have joined us :) ). They are seeing that God can teach them from His Word all by Himself. They read and ask questions of what they are reading and they find cross references and they share with their children. There is nothing like seeing the lightbulb come on in someone's face when they discover God's love letter to them; a letter personal and intimate.

It is almost Cinderella's hour, that time when reality returns. The dance is ending but the ducks will keep swimming. I do hope you have remembered to turn your clocks forward. Love your families, laugh a lot and pray hard. May you be a blessing and be blessed.

Don't know if I'm missing a few marbles...or just a shoe.
I appreciate you in my life.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Laundry List

I actually like doing laundry. Call me sicko. I guess there is something about getting the sorting right or being able to complete a whole project. Or calling it 'a wrap' and knowing it's really done—for this week. Laundry list—is that the list that keeps on giving? Living? Being? Is it the list no one wants to do? Is it the everything list?
I haven't blogged in a while—except the last short one...yes, I've journaled and I'd love to show you my journal but sometimes I just have to tuck it away. Lots of good things, eh, regular? You know, the regular loads...white, lights, darks, extra dirty...
I don't want my entries always to be about hard days. It's been over 2 ½ years now—at some point we do embrace that a new memory has to be made without our loved one. That's hard. Most often it goes unspoken, too.
The other day I was squeezing in a load of laundry before work—knowing I just came off of a '1,000 hr power weekend' (exag) with a women's event held 4 x. I knew I had a little grace time about when to go in.

When I was a little girl I was fascinated by watching front-load washing machines...okay, even as an adult I could get hooked at the laundry mat watching the washers or dryers. The washers are more fun with the suds. I digress.

Back to the other day...”I'll just fold a load and be off to work,” I thought. I was pulling the warm jeans and slacks out of the dryer. I was a little chilly so I planted my face in the laundry as I pulled it close to me in order to carry it to the living room. As I did, I caught sight of a pair of khakis as I pulled the rest of the clothes out. "Were those Michael's? Are the boys already that tall?" I don't ever have to/get to do Michael's laundry again. I liked doing his laundry. He appreciated that I learned to fold his clothes the certain way he grew up folding them. The khakis—my son has his own he bears wearing to church. They're almost M's size. All my kids are now taller than moi'. (The bricks didn't work.)
I carried the warm pile to the living room and buried my face in it. I burst into tears and found myself 2 hours later in a pile of damp jeans.

(a few days later)
The night sky has been breathtaking, albeit one of those early winter cold breezy nights. One can't help stopping and staring. God's amazing placement of the stars...and He knows them all by us. Hmmm...We said, “see you later” to a young navy man tonight...just 21..called Home to join his grandma. The chill in the air resembles the 'edge' of emotional damns that are present in many hearts at memorials. I passed by rooms where large Christmas parties were happening simultaneous to the memorial. My mind was whirling like the wind outside as I braced to walk across the plaza once more. The brisk wind was blowing the last of the fall leaves into the breezeway of the building. I contemplated the road of my healing...the cold winds that can't always be fixed; the kind that find their way right to the bones..pondering little children in other places in the world who are shivering from the wind and cold; without a building to enter; struggling to sleep and only drifting there due to exhaustion.

I've felt pretty exhausted of late—though not so much from my trial but one of just keeping up with the 'laundry list.' It still gets overwhelming if I read the whole list at once, but we're tackling the list one by one. (And learning to not look at the list all at once!) Healing doesn't mean forgetting. Healing is about hope—healing means it's (my grief) not all-consuming any more. The reality just is. The laundry keeps needing to be done. There's still the occasional load of 'hand wash' or brand new reds that bleed.

Bleeding. The thought usually sends me to communion. Remembering. Blood is about sacrifice. Christ's sacrifice is about our sin. Funny, we wouldn't even need clothes if it wasn't for sin. What a tie in! I didn't even see that one coming. And now we have clothes...all kinds. It's become about the kind now; not that we have to cover our miserable souls because of sin.
We're staying home for Christmas this year. We need to. Praying for bonding and moving ahead together. Praying for you and enjoying the pictures, cards, and letters. Hoping to get a family letter out fairly soon. Just consider it your first Christmas letter for 2008. Had a neat opportunity to go to a Christmas concert by Natalie Grant, Daniel Kirkley (check out his website, my space and music), and Mandisa from American Idol. I got to sit front row, center. It was so encouraging to my soul. Daniel's song, “My New Dawn,” came out 5 months ago and moved my heart through a low point. I'm grateful for God's Word and songs through His people.

Natalie, Daniel (, and Mandisa
FYI--Sylvia Lange has a new Christmas CD out...along with her singing partner, Billye Sleuter. "Crimson Bridge", their group, has also put out a new one. Anyone with a new baby needs to check out Billye's! Sylvia's has a beautiful Celtic fav. sound. I'm sorry I didn't share this earlier....but order those Christmas CDs for this December and you can be that much ahead. I heard a great idea from a church: get all your Christmas shopping done before December 1 and Sabbath through the month. Be radical.

If you would like copies of any of Michael's Children's Ministry workshops, I could list them and you could request them. Just let me know.

Happy New Year,

p.s. Shelly--you always make me smile. Thanks for the feedback. Should we develop a support group for 'closet introverts?' Maybe we could advertise it to feel better, but be glad no one goes because 'us people :)' wouldn't want another group to go to anyways. Does that make sense? Guess it's late. Time to sit by the fireplace to watch the last few a giant maltball and thank the Lord for the day...even amidst the storm, rain, and wind. He's pretty creative.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Dog food...Raw meat

I am sharing this journal entry from last month because it shows how we can be "all over the map" in our journey. Even though we have bizarre days in our grief, it does not mean we are not moving forward in our growth/healing. I have another entry to put up in the next couple of days that shows another side. I am getting more used to my routine and this year do more of the school car pooling.
Today is a wonder of a day. Easy, confusing, real, full of emotion. Talking with Pastor D tonight, it is almost as if there are two halves of me. One half is rational and understands all the right Truths and is passionate about them. The other is feeling disconnected from people. Not unloved or uncared for...just separate from. I know I don't need to understand or fix this feeling, but it is hard when the two halves feel so far apart.
A few days ago I thought of the term I've heard, “dark night of the soul.” PD brought the term up tonight. He encouraged me to feel the feelings and let them be what they are. I know there is a lot more writing I could do to process these feelings, but there isn't time or energy. The emotional release is good, but so very tiring.
I know discipleship is important and vital, but I don't want to do it...not out of rebellion or ? ...just need to walk in the fall forest by myself...

Wondering if I am an introvert at heart...and not really an extrovert.

Step by step God will lead me through this season.
How does one respond to people asking how I am? Ask them to pray. In certain instances, let them know there really isn't definition to how I am feeling. For now I must close. I actually typed, “clothes.” It makes me think of buying clothes tonight with my mom who is here from out-of-state. She has a 30% off coupon...and my daughter found some fun clothes in clearance for both of us (I would wear sacks if I didn't have family or friends that were fashionistas in some way)...combine that with mom's coupon...yipee.
Trying on clothes is humbling...sometimes defeating. God wants us to clothe ourselves in certain ways. “Clothe yourselves...” We are so often drawn to just worry about the outside. My personal struggle feels almost paradoxical. I am content with who I am...confident in my God...I see this as the “outside” stuff. It's the inside that bugs me. It's not that I don't want to be real or let people see the's that it is my struggle, not theirs. It is okay. God is at work. How can someone else grow from knowing this struggle that I can't explain?
God, thank you for Your arms of grace...that in the midst of the internal war, I see Your face. No answers to the questions, no lightening of the dark, but a hand to hold on to and the genteel? Intimate? comfort of Your presence.
Undeniably real, undeniably True,
The light of the world, the eyes in our darkness.
Saints of true possession, an inheritance of grand proportion. (see Ephesians chapter 1)

Gotta run. No, gotta sleep.