Sunday, December 25, 2005


For each of us, the story, the walk—is unique. The picture is so much bigger than us. Paradoxes—the hugeness of the picture—the Plan of the Ages-- is eternal. As humans we are finite creations. As souls we are eternal. A friend, Leo L. used to say, “If you cut off my arm, I am still Leo L.” God created us…our soul…to have a relationship with Him. We can choose His friendship or not.

I like how in the book of Jude (verse 4b) Jesus is called “our only Sovereign and Lord.” It really cuts to the chase that either Jesus is God or the whole Christianity thing is a wash. To deify anything beyond God makes more than one God and then the Bible doesn’t make sense. When one is grieving, a lot of things don’t make sense. It can be kind of frustrating. It’s like having your hand in front of your face and you just can’t see what is all around you. Call it what you will…”You can’t see the forest for the trees,” or, “there is an elephant in the living room and no one talks about it.” Maybe those are 2 different thoughts. I’ll have to review that.

God chooses to be uniquely involved in our lives—just as He created us in that uniqueness…the intricate way He combined our DNA to make each of us.

Near the beginning of this grief walk I read a powerful book by Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised. He has a new book out, When God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayer. I am still in the beginning, so anything I ponder about it is not a criticism, but a conversation. I appreciate his questions because they come out of a deeply grieving heart and many times people are afraid and, yes, sometimes repulsed by the type of questions about which grieving people think.

The thought I happen to be pondering is, “Is it God’s problem or ours?” (When He doesn’t answer our prayer(s)) I was wondering if it is not really a problem that He doesn’t answer our prayers. He doesn’t have to. He is sovereign. At the same time, I appreciate where Mr. Sittser takes the argument on page 34. “I forget all too quickly how much I need Jesus, how much we all need Jesus.” He goes on in the paragraph, “I enjoy many of God’s earthly gifts, but I tend to ignore the giver. Ironically, his gifts keep me from seeing my desperate need of him.”

I’m going to try to get permission to share more of the section with you because it really ties in to this thought on perspective. I was toying with the idea (just a little kooky brainstorming) that if I ever started a ministry I might call it: A Step Back to Step Forward~~ a ministry of perspective. Right now, 7 months into my loss of my best friend and confidante, there is so much that is just NOT IMPORTANT. Some of these things, if I mentioned them, are important to a lot of, if not most, people. I don’t fault anyone for finding any of these things important. One day I will balance out to a new place. But, at the root of it all, I dread drifting away from this dependency on the Lord. When I come further through the healing, the truth is that God will NOT be further away from me. If you can hold that thought, here is where my mind went next:

If I become depressed, it will be because I have quit trusting, leaning on God. He is ever near—feeling or not. He must be or He is not God. The Bible describes God as One who is ever near. Psalm 75:1 says, “We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.” If He is ever-present, then He can’t be “ever further away.” (If my logic is faulty, my apologies to Dr. Citzler whose class I really enjoyed.) John M.--any thoughts? Is there the same equality in the promises of:
His nearness?
His promise to answer prayers?

WHEN is His nearness?
WHEN comes His answer to prayers?

Is an answer that is not what we wanted an “unanswered prayer?”

I saw a friend’s new quilt the other day. It is a water design and as one’s eye moves to the top of the quilt, one’s perspective changes as the design shifts to the horizon and into a sky scene.

I have struggled with vertigo at times. Even though it doesn’t come often, I’ve learned to manage it because it is usually caused by my incorrect perspective. For instance, am I standing on the roller coaster tracks or truly going upside down? Am I on the top of the building or in a plane looking down at it? Sometimes it takes time to get perspective.

I find I am much more weepy now. Is it okay? Absolutely! It is even okay for you to talk to me about Michael and cause me to cry. It is healing because it reminds me that you haven't forgotten him. It also reminds me that you hurt, too, and that you have memories (which I want to hear.) One request though, please don’t ask me if I am okay. No, I am not, but I will be one day. I am walking and you may walk with me—sometimes I need you to listen—it helps me gain perspective because I often answer my own questions or know that someone has heard my odd (but normal) thoughts. Sometimes I want to know about you…your family or things like what you are learning about God—or even if you want to discuss whether God is real in your life and circumstances.

I’m in Texas for Christmas, on a ‘vacation.’ Vacation: a rest or respite from something. (I wish I could take a vacation from grieving.) Or, as the British would call it, it is ‘being on holiday.’ A holy time? Yes, I would find a holiness in it. A clear chilly TX sky—and there is the constellation Orion—just like it is over my house in CA. A matter of perspective.

While I am thoroughly enjoying being here, I sometimes struggle in the times of laughter because I know Michael would be right in the middle of it...without conversation others seem to fill the roles of things he would have done...carving the meat...dueling with light sabres in the back yard...or wrapping presents for little cousins into the wee hours of the night.

It’s okay if you don’t believe in God, “yet,” I like to say. There is time, for now…but never as much as you might think. I suppose I would ask you questions if I could meet you. Honest questions like, “How could you ever explain the perfect, consistent replication of DNA?” We can do some amazing things—like enable some paralyzed people to "walk," etc—but from where do those abilities come?

I don’t have to win the battle/argument, it’s already won. I have my own battle—to learn to walk in obedience to the One who created me, created Michael…the One who had a timeline for him. The gift he was to me—the richness of life, of love. All that he gave me…I am overflowing with richness. He was so loved because he gave so much love—unconditionally.

And so my perspective on love continues to be defined. My favorite picture of this season is one, I think, that came over email. It is of a little toe-headed boy maybe all of 3 years, dressed in his Christmas best, who is looking on tiptoe over the edge of the manger with a look of awe and the wonder of amazement on his face. “Do you see what I see?” he seems to say. Can you hear Michael? I bet he is saying, “Do you see what I see?”

It’s all about perspective.


p.s. Please don’t feel sorry for me. You can walk with me by praying and helping …if…IF God calls you to do that. If He does, then you are an “agent of grace.” It is a call to sacrifice, an adjustment to your routine…the sacrifice of things that are important to you. Perhaps through your life it is to many others that you are an agent…oh, and there are MANY others all around who are grieving….so many different types of losses. Perhaps God calls you to be an agent of grace for them. Likewise, if you see me able to minister in one of these ways to others then I am being an agent of grace. I do not know how I have the strength (especially) in this time, but I know the One from whom grace comes. Today may we remember together His GRACE…that came to us through the birth of a baby…Emmanuel…God with us. Please pray for someone who doesn’t know Jesus…’yet.’ If you have questions about Jesus, please let me know.

A perspective.

Merry Christmas and thank you for being “agents of grace” in my life. I do feel your prayers.

Friday, December 02, 2005


The Griefshare ministry is so very helpful. If one wants an education on their own grief walk ("what does it mean to grieve?") or on grieving in order to help someone else, then this is the material with which to be familiar. I haven't been to the Griefshare class yet, but I receive a daily email devotional. Short, but profound.

I'm not really sure where I am. There is saddness I carry, but there have been some neat things in the past couple of days. Nothing like starting back to work and the first day is the first of 3 days (4 seatings) of our biggest women's event of the year. Some ladies bring family, some neighbors, and some bring people who have blessed their lives. They bring them to say thank you, to share Jesus, to give their time and share fellowship at a wonderful evening. I think the guests could easily feel like stars.

I feel so loved right now. I walked out of the building and into the chill of the clear night. It was almost like God didn't want anything in the way of Him and me. The lighted cross on the Worship center appeared almost separate from the building itself and part of the night sky. Other stars shone at different points above and beyond the cross. One sparkled with a blue that makes me feel like a kid inside, "Hey, look at THAT star!" Pause. "Why is it blue?"

Earlier in the evening I had the privilege of seeing an old friend, ladies who helped paint my house, and some young ladies attending their very first Christmas Extravaganza. I watched a group of men serve the ladies with grace and joy. I had ladies talk to me about Michael. (Hmmmm...long thoughts about him serving the ladies last year.) Sometimes people apologize about not having talked to me sooner, but the more time goes by I see that their timing is actually the right timing. If they need to learn a different way, God is big enough to show them how to be the next time. Sometimes they are dealing with their own stuff and lack the strength to say anything's in His time. I suppose it is much like my own inability in these days, to remember other people's birthdays or remember that they have losses which envelop their hearts right now.

When I arrived home and got out of my car I looked to the sky. There were those same stars that I saw over at the church. Still there, still shining bright, no power cord...still in the same order. I can't help but see the cross intersecting those stars...bridging the gap some how. A touch of the Creator deliberately reaching out to His creation.

An intersection. Like a cross. At an intersection one must make a decision. Either go through it, whether that is straight, left, or right, or, take a detour. It reminds me of that...ick...grieving process. In any case, one has to go THROUGH the intersection. You can't really go around it. I suppose one can take a detour, but he or she would eventually have to come back to the intersection. Detours just delay the process.

If stars were a road map we'd be pretty safe with their direction because they are always the same. I said in the beginning I didn't really know where I was. The thing I am confident about is that on this vast earth, I feel connected to the God who created all this around me...the people, the heavens, the cross. Ah, what will we do with the cross? How does it fit with the God in the heavens...and then with us here on earth. Could it be love? Beyond the facades of the man-made lights, the shiny displays in stores, the lights and decorations going up on houses all around...there is a truth that one has to come back to...

An historical truth. A spiritual truth. A baby. A baby Who brought LOVE into the world. One day we will all have to come back to this intersection. If we detoured at the "intersection" at some point in our lives...we have to come back and make a choice.

I'm choosing to embrace the love. The God Who IS love. He comforts the pain. He covers a multitude of sin. He restores my perspective of life beyond this daily glaring reminder that my best friend no longer walks this earthly road with me. Michael made me feel like a star. He built bridges in our relationship when we felt we were at different places...he crossed bridges with me when we went to new places. Beyond the bridges he built in our relationship, he was a bridge-builder for others. He connected children to the Creator, to laughter, to relationship. He connected our children to unconditional love. He connected adults to the One who could help them through tough times, to the child inside them, to the One who could bring peace to their out-of-control lives. A special bridge he built was to the heart of a cancer patient when he had her shave HIS head...a connection of 'sharing the road'...sharing the with the people he 'shared the road with on bikes.' (Both in the gym and out in the country or riding for the Diabetes foundation.) For now, in this time and space, the only bridges he can actually build are with the stars...they continue to "twinkle in our world."

It's late...I guess my thoughts have crossed into the "infinity and beyond zone" and some of you may be wanting to call the funny farm. I'm sure there is plenty of grammar I could fix but I'm getting a little cross-eyed. Smile. I appreciate you so much. I don't know who all of you are, but I know you're out share with me along the way...STARS in my life...sharing some direction and sparkle when the days are dark.

p.s. just remembering my's been 18 years to the day when he took his journey...