Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Healing Reign

Healing Reign

It was drizzling rain when we got to the little town not far from our women’s retreat site. I DID notice the rain—it’s never rained in all the times I have come up here. Although I was expecting God to speak deeply to my heart up here in the mountains, in my internal sadness I really did not want this grey sky to stay all weekend…causing an additional type of heaviness on my heart.

I mentioned in my last entry that God did an amazing thing while I was at retreat. I have wanted to share with you sooner, but there were a lot of personal things within my experience that I needed to stew on first. I also want to be careful within my vulnerability that what I share is not misunderstood. I will share this piece of the story today, but I want you to remember a few things up front.

When I speak about my journey, it is just that—MY journey. Just like one’s relationship with another person…it is entirely unique. No one told me what kind of “situation” to set up, nor did I conjure up any of this. I will be sharing with you exactly what happened, editing only some very personal thoughts which are parts of the paragraphs I will share…straight from my journal. What I experienced happened, I believe, as a part of the learning that God is allowing in my life as I walk with Him. Keep in mind that what I am learning is, “How much does God love me?” I can tell you how much He loves you, but I am learning to receive His love for me. It is only then that I will really understand what it is to ‘love other people.’ (And THAT was my question to God one year ago.)

I was able to be at peace regarding this time away from home…from the daily reminder of my loss…because my parents were with my children. They know loss. They give me space. I know few days go by that they don’t think of my brother who died at age 27. Besides the loss of their parents and many of my dad’s siblings (he was #10 of 11), here they are watching their grandchildren walk the process of finding a “new normal” without their dad. I am so grateful for how they loved and accepted my Michael. And, he loved them back…dearly.

I digress.

And so my experience began…

It was Thursday evening. I sensed God wanted me to go for a walk…yes, in the misty rain. I walked across some open areas and I stopped in the middle of one of the fields. I noticed a lodge there, under the tall, tall redwood trees. The lodge seemed to trust in the trees’ safety, comfort, and shade. I am to “lodge” with God now. This is a new, solo walk. I was near the “Cathedral Grove,” a circle of redwoods which formed a sanctuary with benches, a platform and a cross. I was hesitant to go in there at this moment, but I wondered if at some point I would enter in.
I wandered over by the pond where the music of the waterfall calmed my anxious heart. I leaned on the bridge railing and listened. The picture of serenity was arrested in my heart by a number of cups, some broken, some whole, floating in the water. I was saddened. As if from somewhere nearby, a voice gently spoke, “Go pick them up.” (I know I hate litter, but I reasoned that the camp staff would get them the next day…and they probably blew over there from the lounge.) Without much more thinking, I found myself ducking (no pun intended) around the end of the bridge and finding a stick to reach some of the cups. After I retrieved them all I found a can to toss them in. It was then that I heard that still and gentle voice again. There was ‘still work to be done and it didn’t matter if anyone saw…I was just to keep walking…with Him.’ I pondered, “Is it still worth it? What’s it all for? My hands may get dirty…the filth of this world…”

I walked across the open field and I heard the voice again, “Are you willing to dance with me…alone?”

“What? Right here?”

“Yes…let’s dance.” I did. Spinning and turning with the rain on my face….hmmm…the dissonance of my new dance…reflecting on a book The Devine Embrace by Ken Gire that I read last winter...Oddly enough, a friend, who read the book also, asked me recently if I was experiencing that dissonance.

Moments later I faced a choice to enter back into the world—the presence of and conversation with people. Quiet or not, the presence of others changes the ‘senses and sacredness of the moment.’ Feeling the mist beginning to bead up on my face, I asked God a few questions before I headed up the steps. “God do You cry when You usher one home? Do You cry because You know You have pried one human love from another—because it will cost pain for us to see You love us more than that heart connection?...You love us more than the creation of children… Oh how great and deep must be Your love that I can’t grasp it all. Your Word talks a lot about Your love…oh such a path to walk and things to learn…

Later that evening, a very special new friend encouraged me to not be afraid to go to that place of deep sadness. (I thought, “What does she know—intellectually speaking-- about grieving?” SMACK-IN-THE-FACE…my ugly pride…I am afraid…am I afraid?) She continued, “It is a place of love from a loving relationship. It is not a place of depression or pity—it is deep sadness for a loss of love." Profound exhortation.

A new day. Friday. Praying…what story will YOU tell today, God? The clock read 8:28. That always makes me think of the book of Romans…

A few friends and I spent a sweet morning sharing in food and fellowship. When everyone started drifting off to prepare for the afternoon arrival of the rest of the ladies, I sat for a while reflecting on some of the things we discussed…about panes and pains…but I’ll save that for another time.

As I was sitting there, I believe I heard that voice again, “Let’s go for a walk.” I looked around, I looked at my watch. 11:56a.m. I was comfortable sitting where I was. 11:56. That was the time…exactly 16 weeks prior…"It’s time, let’s go for a walk.” I heard it again.

I borrowed my friends’ headphones and CD player. If I was going for a walk I wanted to bring some familiar, comforting songs…Keith Green….he’s always been a favorite…since college. I had 4 more songs on this CD that I wanted to listen to…the last one was There is a Redeemer.

I started walking…across the first field and into the second. The CD player stopped. I must have bumped it. I tried it again. Nothing. I tried it off and on for a good part of the next hour. “If only it would play the last song, I thought.”

I guess I was just supposed to listen. I felt compelled to start writing…right there in the middle of the field.

I will talk this walk…You and me
You will see…the strength of their (you all) prayers
And Your own tears
For I believe You cry, too
When You bring home one of Your own…
You want to shepherd
Those left behind.

The trees beckon the eye upward
Visible burns and scars half way up
…but ever-growing,
Reaching heavenward.

The grove of trees which I was hesitant to walk into last night seemed still too dark a place to journey, but it was calling my name. The song that was on when the CD player quit playing was Stained Glass. It quit with the words…”in the bride’s room until the groom comes shining through…”)

I walked into the “Cathedral Grove.” I didn’t wonder too long where to sit. A gentle voice spoke to my heart, “Sit there…on the end…don’t save a seat for Michael. (In church I would always sit one seat in because Michael would often have to come in late…probably due to helping someone’s child adjust to their Sunday School class.)

I thought quickly…kind of taken aback by the voice. I can’t wait for my Michael any more. I must wait on the Lord. Isaiah 40:31 came to my mind. “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.”

I sit on the end of the bench. There is an old stump next to me (no offense Hunny--). It has tiny sprouts—baby branches all over it….you’ve given me four beautiful children…marriage was not always easy…but you were always intentional…about loving me. Can I be intentional about grief?...When is it okay to let go?—to feel the sadness way down deep? … unashamed—I have wanted to be protected in my tears. You (God) have others who have been crying my tears, but I have a well that will take time to empty….little by little.

I feel the grief tattered and torn
Coming up on the day he was born
I lean and know You are there and I can’t prepare.
You have to take me
to the place that is raw
a place so deep
where only You can repair

It won’t be a fix
But a place called holy—
A place set apart, scattered and strewn
While memories of a lifetime
dart here and there…
Evidence of past trees
with their own “fairy rings”
passages of life…and other generations…

I feel stuck in drifting to thoughts of the other widows from this past year alone…but my thoughts are cut to a quick…Here it’s ME You are calling…"Come here—to Your heart…to Your face. Look Me in the eyes,” You say. “I’ve called your beloved home to these shores.”

I see my Michael standing there. It seems he led me to this grove. He stands by the side (in the aisle) and tells me he has to go. I think of the many times of holding him when he cried over childhood [situations….] and the agony of doing funerals for children. I almost can’t look at the cross. “Why did You call him home?” I look back to his (Michael’s) face. “Is that hole in your beard filled in?” I see you standing there—your beautiful eyes saying you can stay as long as I need. “Did you watch me kiss you that day?...those 19 times…?”

You were the same, but different you know—when you spoke to groups about Jesus…in classes and churches and little sanctuaries. You were mine, but His in true form. ….When you left me back 20 years ago…when you went to get your stuff from New York (to return 10 days later to San Diego)…and you said I hugged you “like there was no tomorrow” and now THERE IS NO TOMORROW on earth with you. The physical is gone.

At times I wish I had stayed longer (with his body)…

The Body…the church…members of one another working in unison—a unity. Weathering the storms, the pain…the medicines that heal…the times that seem surreal…

I jerk my head back—you’re still there. Patient. “Why didn’t you tell me you had to go or did you try but we didn’t know who—you or me?” You come and kneel in front of me…picking up my head. Your gaze goes back and forth to my eyes. I reached out and I could feel your face…your beard… You loved me and I never fully grasped why. You said you didn’t deserve me and yet why did I get the privilege of your love and tenderness……

You gave so much to them—mankind out there. You saw each of them—from the special ones to the ones you had trouble loving…the ones who would hurt the lambs you were shepherding. Yet, somehow, somewhere you saved the best for me and our kids…the conversations and the challenges…

Who’ll sharpen my knives?
and give new recipes a try?
Who’ll watch the rain and the lightning storms?
You’re up there on the other side.
Do you know I’ve cried?
I miss you so—

Different from them, but they hurt, too. I’m sad for them, but I want you all to myself in this moment here. (God, do you say that to me as well?) Michael, are you looking at the cross—saying He wants you, too?….(Michael responds) “Jesus wants all of you and if I am here you are distracted in part. No one can take our love away. It was a gift of the fibers of our very beings…it doesn’t go away.”
“BUT IT DOESN’T GROW ANY MORE” I scream in my head. Do I want the love of imperfect man to grow or the greater of the growth of knowing the One who made both of us? The HOPE (solid and sure) that is “still” (at peace) in my heart is that I will love you (Michael) more…on that shore.
…because you will meet me. You will wait for me there. Will you wait for me there? Here I must not wait for Michael but wait on the Lord—for His timing in each further event here…each sacred moment of every day….[skip]

What about your stories you wanted to write? I want to hear—who should write those? “Can I tell her?” he says…I look to the cross…You have THE story. YOUR truths…simple, but deep. The living Word, You are alive.

How do we keep the things of the world outside? How do I “keep” you in my heart (Michael)? Do I have to let him go? Do I have to let you go?

The noises are as still as the air. No sounds except birds calling to one another…
Yet I know You are near
to heal.
You bear the scars of our sin
I bear the scar of love torn within
He puts his glasses on the table…
He doesn’t need them more to see
Our love was deeper than the
depths of the sea
A place that only two can go as one
a place with Thee alone that is three
And now from the center of
that place beyond my human mind
You lead my loved one
flesh and hand
to give me Yours—
scarred and to stand.

“Yes you can!” (He says) Michael stands up.

He can see all of me now—like Jesus’ heart…my sin and my shame, my love and my name, my gifts from Him and my heart.

He wants me to meet—
The One ‘come down off the cross
to carry my loss—
to hold it dear
in every tear

For He alone knows the loss of a Son…
Layed on Him all sin
It was done.
Michael gives my hand to our King…[skip]

Until again I take this walk—to the deep place—the depth of sadness of love—a real and safe place...But a joy in knowing you, Michael, are waiting for me—in worship of our Savior and King. God, thank you for Your redeeming love that covers my pain and sin…that leads me to wholeness deep within.

I think of my life verse…once more come alive in a new and different way. “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understandings. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5,6

Michael walks down the side aisle to the front—He glances back at me. “It is not forever. I’ll bring you here to this “private place” again.” As he crosses to the platform he arrives in the center and at one and the same time Jesus is standing there with him. He turns to the “crowd” (just me) and with his memorable extended and down-turned hand says, “I take my leave for it is Him you need.” He leaves his Bible on the alter leaving the risen Savior standing there with an outstretched hand saying, “Come my beloved one, come.”

I sat there stunned…wildly wondering what I was “seeing” but realizing this was the very dream I had at least twice last fall….Jesus standing there saying “Come to Me, come to Me.” My mind shouted, “THAT WAS MY DREAM, THAT WAS MY DREAM.” Sooner than I could think any more, I was standing and walking down the center aisle. I knelt at the platform and bawled my guts out some more….

At some moment in time my tears drifted away and I stood…knowing this time was ending. I didn’t know what to do except to return to my seat and sit down. I put on the head phones and pushed the button for the last track, There is a Redeemer. The CD player played the whole entire song…ending with the familiar words…thank you for giving us Your Son and leaving us the Holy Spirit until the work on earth is done…CLICK. Whoa.

This time was done. Almost dumbfounded, I gathered my things (and my mounds of tissues) and left the Cathedral. Yet a few steps out in the sunlight…I felt …the smell of fresh rain….What does the song say? “…grace pours down like rain…”
His Reign
In my heart
In my moments
In my questions
In my pain
In the ripping of my one flesh...
letting Him be my Soul…sole One…
I gave my Bible and notebook to some friends who were moving my stuff. I still had to go back over to the house from where I left 2 hours earlier. Without a thought, I started running across the field. As I approached the steps I stopped and laughed…”… they will run and not get tired…” I didn’t plan to run. I just did. I just grieve. This is just my journey. Thank you for sharing it with me. You are an extension of His arms…of His love.

THIS is His healing reign.

Annie B.

p.s. It was sunny for the rest of the retreat.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Words. On a page. One can intend them for one meaning and they can carry many others. At times there are no words in one’s language that can truly express a feeling…so how does one communicate what that feeling means. I had an amazing time with God up in the mountains this last weekend. I knew I would. That is where I really feel connected to Him. I want to share some about that time, but tomorrow--September 15th-- I am taking a “pause.” Tomorrow I am celebrating my sweetheart’s birthday. No party I could have would compare with the party HE is having! (Can you imagine the guests????) And yet, I feel compelled to celebrate…a life that brought so many memories. I’m digging through some of his stories to share with you. In the meantime, would you celebrate with me by having some Oreos? I wanted to share his “10 Commandments of eating Oreos,” but they are in the abyss of my piles of pictures and cards and financial stuff…among other things. I do remember my favorite (for all you “dunkers” out there.) “Thou shalt only dunk on days ending in ‘y’.”

What ever happened to “Alpha bits” cereal? That was a fun way to create words. I’m glad God gave us His Word. Check out Philippians 1:19. I can relate to Paul when he says, “For I know that this (his circumstance) shall turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ…”

I sense I am being walked through my circumstance by the provision of your prayers (words and tears?) and the Holy Spirit. When I seem to be ‘so strong’ it really is so contrary to my natural tendencies…so I know there is something Bigger going on….and I just don’t have the words to explain it.

Have an Oreo Day,
Annie B.

Oreos—accept no imitation. :) Surely you have Oreo stories…walking in the “snow,” stacking, double dunking…but I don't think two Oreos would have the same result as a cucumber eye soother...maybe the stories, though, do something to soothe our hearts...My kids reminded me that in the Princess Diaries the hairdresser says (use an accent here Michael's memory), "I tell you secret, the cucumber does nothing."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Stoic serene day without a cloud in sight. "Doing okay" right now. In the distance, a lonley siren. My mind is at once and immediatly catapulted to a different time. Adrenaline fuels my mind. Just as one marriage is now in two places at one time. HELP! I'm NOT helpless. I can do things. We get the laundry done pretty routinely. I actually like that job--it gets DONE! I have a sick mind--I like cleaning up after Thanksgiving--whether it's my folks' house or the Veterans hall. I also like "big picture" meetings.

I haven't written an entry in a few days. My thoughts were so scattered and on about half of those days I felt a little helpless inside. You see, in my world there are a lot of "me's." I can't really find the right words for this one. Grieving, for me, feels so incredibly self-centered. Many of you help by listening.

There's the me that's looking for Michael--the oneness that we had--the synergy of parenthood and trying-to-sort-out-how-God-wants-us-to-live-in-a-culture-that-is-so-"stuff centered." The togetherness of being at home but working on different projects. We called it 'being together separately.' It made my heart happy...when he was working with wood and I was in the garden....or just reading separate books together. Over the years he built toy dinosaurs and cut-outs that I tried to paint...pigs and cows and pull-toy bees with flapping wings...reindeer with lightbulbs...(Our entrepreneurial adventure with friend Ron--"Mic-Ron.") And then there was the tv cabinet that Jim helped him build...good bonding time...but I think we still need to build another cabinet.

Sometimes Michael used wood to protect in April when he used old redwood deck planks to keep the dog next door from coming through the fence. Why did he use the good redwood??? ...and then there's the compost bin he built when we moved here 61/2 years ago. (We'll discuss the rats later.)

Michael's not in the garden. I've looked for him there...but I see his handiwork and gifts...the fountain whose motor gave out mere days after Michael's be sure, I quickly bought a new motor which a good friend put in...wish there were other things I could buy renewed... Some dear friends come at different times to help in the garden...some on the sly (L.W. M.W. J.K. M.M.) They help me not feel pulling weeds and chatting and even enduring finding wasps. (Thanks B.A. and K.Y.) I know there are others...and it all helps my heart more than you will ever know this side of heaven. I was 2 weeks into Joni's book on Heaven when Michael went there.

In the garage (I'm back to the woodworking), the giant dresser sits. Michael was building it for our room. It was a finish-this-summer project. Some other buddies are teaming up on it now. I know they have jobs and families and health issues. But this Michael of mine...His journey ROCKed their world, too.

That's another "ME." The me that feels helpless when it comes to being able to help Michael's friends to grieve. I want to know...

What's it like to ride into the wind with no scout in front or drag rider in the back? sing songs about the Big, Big House without that crazy guy with the beard?...Or, how's the little girl with cancer at the mall who got to hear Michael tell stories like 'The Belly Button Monster?" not have a daddy when you're tryuing to learn to drive a car and your mom has pushed her feet through the floor board....when you're playing water polo for the 1st time and getting a back brace to wear for 2 years... very thankful I am for gutsy driver trainers who cover that role...

You see why it feels so self-centered? "Poor me!?"

Then there's the "me" that feels awash in foolishness by complaining...all the while looking at pictures of Metarie, Slidel and New Orleans. I've heard the names of those towns...acquaintances over the years who have called those places home. My friend Mark hails from there--his parents live there...and family...and ministry supporters. I feel HELPLESS. I'm able-bodied. I can help!?

Another "me"--watching people try to help me. I've been on the other side. How does one help someone through the crushing blow of loss? There are stages to be sure. After a while people help less. I don't mean that as a bad thing--it's just the normal cycle. It kind of has to be that way. A grieving person is tired...and life has to go on. I know pride gets in there, too....not wanting to feel helpless...

Remember I told you about the rats.--one reason to be married--no offense guys, but that's a man's job. :I They like our garage and the mouse traps just provide them appetizers. My dad's here and he's going to talk to the local feed/ag people.

I got sidetracked. I didn't mean to gloss over the pride thing--it's pretty real. somettimes it's an "I guess I've got to learn to learn to do it sometime" attitude. Or, "She's single and she doesn't have help either, so why should I ask for help?" Granted, sometimes it's just being too tired to pick up the phone-- to make a decision.
Then there's my friend Job. I don't have those kind of friends like he had. My friends have been real. Near. Helpful. Feeling helpless. (We all are, really,...Jim says...when we boil it all down...we're all helpless....then again, why did Jesus die?)

"God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

"But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace,... " Ephesians 2:13-14a

He puts back together things that are torn--
Hopes and dreams for the here and now
He mends them with HOPE FOR ETERNITY
And dreams of sharing His life with more people...

Because really it's LESS about me and more about His help.
How does He help YOU through this time? Please know I am praying for you especially: The "other" Golden Retriever, Sonny, Ken, Pizza Guy's gal, There's-a Way, Sunflower, and...the New Kid on the'll figure out who you are!!!
Thankful for His help...and it is time to REST...
in Him,
Annie B.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

War and Peace

I suppose I should have the picture of the books on this entry. I actually started writing these thoughts a couple of days ago and I wondered if they would make sense and then today my mind filled with all these reflections on our time of dating that made the first thoughts make sense. Make sense?

My heart has such a that passes understanding...but the ache rubs the heart with a sandpaper-like block.... My dad is reaching out to me in this time. He's definitely not an extrovert, so this is pretty special. This is where my entry began the other day. For me to get married, I had to make a choice. I said, "yes" to walk a the path of life with someone. I did not choose to end that walk so soon. My wedding video made me feel like I just got married a couple of years ago...except today's brides would choke on my colors. In looking at the 'bigger picture' I am now still walking a path...and God is walking with me. These were the fast thoughts that invaded my head:
  • Now a sole relationship with God
  • My soul relationship with Michael is different
  • I am now wholly His
  • Holy
  • God's holiness
  • Raw wound of my sin
  • Raw wound of my heart
  • Singles...physical hugs
  • Widowed--no more physical hugs with life partner
  • Raw

In most marriage ceremonies, the pastor asks a question early on, "Who gives this woman to this man?" My daddy said, "her mother and I do." Then he put my hand in Michael's. (He actually sort of forgot, but I kind of helped him... :) ).

God, You offered Your hand to Michael on May 14th. He didn't have time for a choice. But on that day it wasn't for him to choose...his life is 'in Christ' now. Would he have chosen me? But that is not what "is." He is with Your hand. I realize all this time You did not let go of my hand. So, You have separated our hands here on earth, but You hold each of our a different place. Is that the oneness of souls that never goes away...that makes physical death on earth hurt so much? There is comfort knowing Michael is in good Hands...and it's not Allstate. I, too, am in good Hands. Thank you for holding on to me and for the love You are showing me through my church family and the community at large. My emotions are just "out there" right now and yet I struggle with not wanting the attention. I want to talk to people when they ask how I am, but I don't have the time or energy much, so I sometimes say, "okay." But this week has NOT been okay. I caught myself doing this tonight and fessed up with this friend. I'm not okay, and I'm glad she asked.

I actually got to take a long nap today. I wanted to stay busy, but I overruled my current tendency and slept. I needed it.

War and Peace....that's the kind of book Michael would have put in his line-up for casual reading. I suppose over 19 years of marriage I have seen him read...oh, 12 X 19...or 52 X 19...almost a thousand books. Some of the early books/material we read together...Christian Single Life...and as if that wasn't enough, Family Life Class material in Dr. Howard Hendricks' class (Campus Crusade for Christ Institute of Biblical Studies). We took that class but we weren't even dating--or not so Michael would ever admit it. We were just "hanging out" (every day) between classes--not that I minded--walking across the field to classes...flying kites...talking about everything--but NOT dating....courting maybe. Yeah, that's it...courting. But, his "cards were not on the table." I didn't know his full intentions...until about 20 years ago. (Early September) His card was on the table one month later on my birthday. Michael cooked breakfast for me and then did a card trick for me. I ended up with a card that read "Will you marry me?" Obviously, I made the choice to say yes.

Some of the books Michael read along the way were seminary books. Although he admired and appreciated most of his professors, he didn't always like those seminary books. ("have-to-reads") He adored his teachers perhaps becuase most of them were passionate about their material. One in particular, Dr. John Hannah, taught history at Dallas Theological Seminary and would come out and teach the class for Campus Crusade for Christ staff when they would meet in Colorado in the summer. There was more to this class than history. Dr. Hannah would always open with a hymn and sometimes would share its history. There was a realness and vulnerability about him that Michael respected. He wasn't just present with his material, he was present with the people in the class.

I think theology and church related books stayed on Michael's list by default . He read everything. He could converse with just about anyone. When a new friend would come to church, especially one with a disability, he would want to read material about their situation so he could better minister to them. It also helped him to help teachers learn how to minister more particularly.

The war and peace in my head continued to battle as the day went on.

I'm leaving another month behind. NO! I can't believe it's been almost 1/3 of a year. It doesn't seem right or fair!? Right? Fair? Right that time flies? It doesn't do anything different today (time). Fair. What is fair? We can't compare our circumstances, you and I--the pain is different in each; the relationship is different as well. The band Mercy Me sings a song, "Undone." One line says, " the cross I run..." That is the only place I know to run. In my head I run down my street looking for Michael.

How do we fill time? If I wrestle with the void I feel because of a missing relationship, time still marches. If I take time to sit and be still--everyone else marches ahead. What about others (friends, community) who are dealing with new losses in their own circles of friends. I feel somewhat void of having sadness for them...because I am so in my own exhaustion...or how about trying to "feel" for the people who are dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane Katrina? I liked what Job said today, "Yet if I speak, my pain is not relieved; and if I refrain it does not go away." Job 16:6 When I speak (watch out if I get going! Thank you to those who have been able to listen!!) I feel like some of my questions get sorted out, but the void still feels present on the shores of my heart. And, if I refrain from (the pain) does not go away. To be sure, I can make it appear that way--that all is well...sometimes it is a matter of survival. I DO feel a peace that I cannot explain. It doesn't "fix" things but it affords me a quiet soul so that I can think rationally for a few hours or so....war and peace.

The peace sometimes is like a limo ride--not knowing why it's here to pick me up...a surprise....feeling guilty for a few moments? :) I can have some 'new normal' times...but eventually I am delivered back home once again--we can't be out forever. Grief doesn't fix in quick trips....or short events. But, like the limo ride, parts of this peace "that passes all understanding" can be magical.

Thank you, God, that You are holding my hand...and that You have Michael's hand as well. I can celebrate that he is with You because You hold me up here. I know he has 'gained.' It makes sense now that one of my favorite verses as a new believer was Philippians 1:21. "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Michael has gained. I have a great human loss, but I am gaining daily in the knowledge of Your love and grace. And, it is only in knowing and understanding that love more fully that I will EVER be able to love others the way You want me to. I know You want them to see Jesus in Your children, but I feel so far from that....maybe that's where some of those earlier thoughts came from in the past days:

  • Raw wound of my sin
  • Raw wound of my heart

Oh that my heart would be completely His....preparing to be His bride. (This is what the Bible calls the church--the bride of Christ)

On a side note, I so deeply appreciate knowing how Michael specifically ministered to you or your children...was it a "high five" or pulling their pig-tails or holding them while you left to go to worship? Was it the way he told stories so that anyone could remember them?? All of your reflections help me to capture pieces of a (treasured) life that are a part of HIStory. He was by no means perfect, but neither am I. More to learn in Philippians...about joy and 'pressing on...'

Peace to you,

Annie B.