Thursday, December 29, 2011


I realized today that I am bargaining. I think I forgot that verse about God's thoughts being higher than my thoughts.*

Why, God? Not blasphemous, just why. Why couldn't people have been saved without Trent dieing? Why couldn't people have been taken deeper in their walks without it being my son? Why did I have to love him so much? Why does it have to be ten months later? Why does it have to hurt so much now? Why can't I have that peace and joy and certainty of heaven again? Why does this battle rage so hard? Why is there such an intensity to doubt? Why can't eternity just begin now~ wouldn't it be a perfect day for Jesus to return?*

I was even toying with the idea of exchanging those promised rewards*~ maybe I could trade them in for what's behind curtain number three and we could all go back to last February. Curtain number three may have been eighty years with my son whom had never gotten saved. Eighty years here or eternity at age twelve . . . Eighty billion years from now I would have gladly picked his eternity to start now.

My thoughts go to Jesus' temptation in the desert.* That separation from all that He knew, to be tempted when He was at His weakest point by Satan himself. What sustained Him was the Word of God, the ministering angels, the Truth, the hope, the joy set before Him. How revealing temptation is; I don't like revealing.

I've realized that at some point I have to let Trent go. I feel like I am in a tug of war: Trent pulling me heavenward, and everything else pulling me back to this world. Somehow I have to embrace living here again; yet the thought makes me want to puke, literally. So instead I somehow think that staying in bed, or finding a comatose state for my brain of not feeling, might help.

Every project I even think of immediately reminds me of the fact that Trent took nothing with him to heaven. Everything here is temporary, and only what is done for Christ will last. I don't have the energy to invest in temporary things anymore; yet at the same time I find myself coming back to thinking that the next temporary thing really will bring complete satisfaction and would be worth investing my time, money and energy in . . . only to know, deep, deep down, that it won't. So how do I live the rest of my life? Why am I still straining for earthly glory? Why am I not pressing into God harder?

Or maybe I am, and the pain that I feel is really the disappointment of the reality of this world which I have trained myself to be so comfortable in all my life*. Maybe the pain is because I can't lie to myself anymore and think that achieving the highest heights here matters so much. Maybe I really just want to go back to living how I was a year ago and be content by only crossing off the next project, but I know at the same time that I can never deny the truth that I have seen. Maybe I am grieving what I thought was reality for thirty-some years. Maybe I am finally being forced to acknowledge where my allegiance lies: my own selfish self, or God.

I am where I am, and that is grieving my son, as my sister reminds me if I try to justify anything. Those sisters~ they don't let you fool them. Grieving my son: I hate the words, yet I love the God he's with. God doesn't accept bargains; but He holds breaking hearts.

* Isaiah 55:9, Revelation 19, Revelation 22:12, Luke 4, 1st Corinthians 3:12-14

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Repentance and Rest

"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength..."
Isaiah 30:15

A lazy bum: that's what I've been for the past week or so. We took a vacation from school, so besides doing chores (when Cole doesn't do them before me), and reminding the kids to do their chores, and going up and down the basement steps umpteen times a day to fill the wood stove, I haven't been doing very much else. Alexis even told me one day, "Mom, you do have to remember to feed us!" I happen to not be a big eater, and "forget" to eat regularly, especially when there is no schedule to follow. Good thing there are some budding chefs around here who do remember that it's time to make something for lunch.

I miss Trent. I miss living without the pain of missing my son. And I knew it would be harder over the holidays. Therefor, I committed myself to very little else other than grieving.

Exhaustion only causes me to forget the Promises, and they are easier to forget when the pain crashes in, wave after wave. I don't want pity; I just need to acknowledge where God has me and allow myself to be there. This is tough; it's a real battle. A battle to believe, to not give up, to not grow weary, to keep going.

I don't know how to hope for tomorrow, so I just focus on getting through today. I focus on getting out of bed in the morning to be able to kneel and pray; to be real with the God of the universe and allow the tears to flow over missing my son~ trusting God, but missing Trent. I make the bed, remembering how Trent used to always come in and snuggle. I walk past his bedroom, where there is no longer a sleeping teenage boy on the bottom bunk. I start the coffee and check the wood stove, then sit down in the recliner to read my Bible. An hour later, I am still begging for the strength to start this new day.

"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength."I remember the words: the words that have been impressed upon my heart for nearly a decade. "Repentance and rest" in a world of hurry up and never take the time to stop and ponder eternal truths; they are a welcome sign to sit at my Saviors feet. During a quiet time of prayer the repentance can come, followed by the rest. The rest of a forgiven, satisfied heart, a truthful heart, a broken heart. God knows, there is no reason to pretend that He doesn't.

Quietness and trust. When the chaos is too loud I can't hear God. In the quiet He whispers, and then my heart remembers His words, and the trust comes easier. But quietness in a busy household is hard to come by. I intentionally carve it out of my days, and I guard my mornings to achieve it. The kids know my ritual and honor it as much as seven-to-sixteen-year-olds can, and my husband has long given up on asking me anything or intruding on that much needed time until I rise from my chair with a smile on my face.

"Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
Galatians 6:9

I am weary lately, so very weary. Ten months into this and I feel as if I am no closer to eternity myself. Galatians 6:9 has been my anchor verse this past week: "Don't grow weary, don't grow weary, don't grow weary . . . for at the proper time, proper time, proper time . . ." I have repeated to myself over, and over, and over again. Even a friend encouraged me with those words today. I remind myself that it is all done at God's proper time, not mine.

And then I see a picture, or a card, or a pair of boots or Trent's shorts in the hamper (it's funny how all these months later those same pair of shorts keep getting cycled through and nobody claims to know why they were on the closet floor or under a bed) . . . and the battle begins again.

On Christmas Eve afternoon I was working in the kitchen and muttered under my breath, "I just don't want to do this."

"I can tell," was Alexis' reply. The soft words were soothing, not harsh, as she wrapped her arms around me.

I was surprised that the honest thought had been said out loud rather than just in my heart. I really tried: I tried to make it a nice Christmas. I helped cut down and decorate the obligatory pine tree, I went to the parties and plays, I made the cookies for the neighbors, I wrapped the presents, I made the Eclair cake, and then I ate half of the Eclair cake. But it still showed: I didn't want to do it. I didn't want a Christmas without Trent.

So I repented and I rested. I stayed quiet and I trusted God. I kept doing the good things for my family and refused to become weary in them. I longed even more for my Savior Jesus to come and make it all right again.

In repentance and rest is my salvation, in quietness and trust is my strength. In God's strength, I will refuse to grow weary of doing good things, and will look forward to that harvest which will come in God's proper time.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

Blessed are you when men hate you,

when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil,

because of the Son of Man.

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.

Luke 6:20-23

I have been reading in Luke lately and have been soaking up the words of my Savior. Sweet words that are a balm to my soul; words that go deeper than just letters on a page.When the Lord saw her {the mother whose son had just died}, His heart went out to her and He said, "Don't cry." Then He went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. Luke 7:13-15

"Tradition says that while Christ was hanging there {on the cross}, the angels drew their swords. They announced, 'We are going to rescue you.' God said, 'No,' and the Scripture says that God spared Him not." Billy Graham

As I read that passage this morning I could just about imagine Jesus as He walked the streets of Nain, when along came the weeping mother and the coffin. I didn't have to imagine the mother; I knew her all too well. Being the very Son of God, Jesus realized what she couldn't see at the time: that her son would one day rise again. Scripture says that Jesus' heart went out to her.

Those words were said at Trent's funeral, that one day Jesus would say to Trent, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" And Trent will rise, coming forth with a glorious, imperishable body.*

How Jesus' heart must go out to His hurting children. How hard it must be to be bound by sovereignty for the sake of greater glory for our Savior to have to wait to say those words. The pain He must feel to see mother's weeping, all the while knowing Himself the depth of their pain and the joy that is coming.

Do the angels draw their swords while the enemy appears to be conquering, while mother's cry the tears and fight back the doubts? Is the great cloud of witnesses that surround the believer amazed or disappointed for the level of our faith?*

I have often wondered what went on in the angelic realm the day that Trent headed down that ski slope: did the angels have to be restrained from rescuing this little one that they had been put in charge of*, not knowing fully, either, God's perfect and sovereign plan?

For God's ways are higher than our ways; higher than the heavens are from the earth.*

Luke reminds us to Rejoice - Rejoice! - and leap for joy. He tells the poor, and the hungry, and those who weep now that great is our reward in heaven, and that we should look forward to it; a reward so great that it's worthy of the weeping. Therefore, we go on rejoicing, trusting, and weeping day by day until we receive it and see face-to-face this mighty God who is wise enough to have ordained it all to be this way.

* Hebrews 12; Matthew 18:10; Revelation 20; Isaiah 55:9

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Was Thinking

. . . it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it.
John 11:4b

I was thinking about Lazarus today. As I was doing the farm chores, just feeding the horses some hay in the blustery cold, I turned to head back to the barn and the thought struck me: Jesus didn't come right away; He stayed where He was. His friend was sick, His other dear friends were crying, and Jesus stayed where He was. Scripture says that He knew Lazarus would die, but Jesus stayed where He was because His glory would be seen greater if He waited. My thoughts then went to ten months, ten years, twenty or thirty years . . . how much greater will Jesus' glory be then, if it was that great when He waited only two days?

I have a friend who keeps a "nothing book". It is just a book that sits out on her countertop and any family member can come along and write whatever they want to in it; a book filled with the "nothings" of life that turn into the "everythings of life". It is filled with the silly memories of everyday childhood, and being a family, from various perspectives.

Years ago I tried to write books for each of the kids about the silly things that they did: washing kittens in the sink, their little sayings, Christmas presents and traditions, and favorite foods. As they have each learned how to write they have been required to take over the recording by writing daily journals for home school. Since I enjoy words and memories so much, especially the ones written in the penmanship of those I love, I decided to start a "Trent book".

Over four years ago, when Rob, Trent and I were in India to bring Micah home, I bought a beautiful book, created with hand made paper, at an Indian shop. It has sat on my desk, in the original wrapper, awaiting the perfect purpose; never did I imagine that it would be for this purpose. All those memories, the big and the small, the "Oh, remember whens", the laughing one's and the crying one's, will now have a place to be; a place to come back to, a place to own, a place to be visited often, especially on the day's that we can't remember when.

I held the package in my hands for the longest time this afternoon, not sure just how to begin such a monumental book. What word could hold enough meaning to be the first word penned on that beautiful paper; which memories do you record, how can I do this, how can I not do this, what happens when the pages are all filled up? So, it's sitting on my cupboard friends, and aunts and uncles, and grandmas. . . it's your story to tell, too.

And talking about books . . . God is using How My Savior Leads Me in way's that I can't even begin to imagine. Our little newspaper's picked up the story, there has been minimal marketing yet sales are going well, I had a great opportunity to share {survived the interview:} on the blog talk radio show, and we had a book signing at the local library a couple of weeks ago. I see only clearer that it is God doing His work through me as I feel so incapable of attempting to minister in-and-of myself to the deep needs of those He brings to us. The stories, and the hurts, and the pain of lives that people have shared already make me see how good God has been to us and I appreciate His grace all the more. I pray daily for the words in that little book to shine God's glory and bring many to know Him.

And from this morning . . .

{Jesus} rebuked them for their lack of faith
and their stubborn refusal to believe . . .
Mark 16:14b

Sort of gave me the swift kick that I needed in the midst of my whining this morning. As far off as eternity seems sometimes, I found myself wondering if it would be a rebuke that I hear for my refusal to believe God's Word rather than a "well done, good and faithful servant." Either I believe Scripture or I don't; either I will live it or I had better give it up. But, since I do believe it, then I have no excuse to not live it. Like a friend likes to say, "Suck it up, Buttercup." God said it, so believe it, go live it, and don't quit sharing it. Souls matter; eternities matter; God's glory matters.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When Even the Coffee's Bitter

You know it's going to be a challenging day when you're grumbling before you even open your eyeballs. When it's day three of rain and drizzle and warm spring like weather, but you know it's only December and a long way off until real warm spring like weather. When you meet the youngest on the landing of the stairwell because he's up already, too, bouncing and ready to go. And the other son has been up for an hour and a half (again) and has already done his day's work and is ready to talk and practice adding suffixes to adjectives, all before you've even started the coffee pot that has now peetered out to the point that it takes twenty minutes to make a batch of black brew.

So, in my impatience and desperation, I pour a cup half-pot and settle with drinking really strong coffee. Yeesh! A morning person I am not. Well, actually I am a morning person, if this old farmhouse is quiet and my brain can finish it's God thoughts and the phone doesn't ring and there's plenty of cream and sugar.

"Only those who have known sorrow and suffering can have fellowship with those in affliction," is the quote from the book The Faith of Billy Graham that I happened to flip open to this morning. Interesting, considering that my thoughts and prayers this morning centered around this verse:
Philippians 3:10-11 "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."

I have been trying to wrap my brain around that verse for quite some time now, even before Trent died. I can't honestly say that I have truly, at my core, really, really ever wanted to endure great suffering. At my core I am really a wimp. But, as odd as it sounds, and as I have watched others suffer, and have seen a glimpse of the grace poured out on them, I have longed for that grace; especially the knowing of Christ in that way. But knowing Jesus Christ that way only comes about through the fellowship of sharing in His suffering. And this fellowship goes beyond me, all the way to God's glory, and only God's glory.

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." Romans 5:1-5

That's another verse I have been pondering for the past near 10 months, because it is not enough to suffer for only MY perseverance, MY character, MY hope, MY fellowship with those who are afflicted, MY, MY, MY. It has to go beyond . . . beyond me.

And this verse points to that beyond, all the way to Jesus; our hope is in Jesus alone. I don't know how, I can't see it clearly, but somehow the suffering we are called to in this life produces in the Christian the hope of Jesus making this all right one day; and beyond right, all the way to glorious; His glory shining in a way that we can't begin to fathom. Our eyes turn to Him in a way that they would not be able to without suffering. And His Spirit brings endurance, and grace, and faith, and mercy, and joy, and hope one day at a time, often one moment at a time.

I've found myself in therapy this week. Therapy for me is putting my hands to a pitchfork or a hammer. What I build is usually not pretty and always far from perfect, let alone level; there is a reason why I build on the back of the forty. All year I have hardly been able to even get up the gumption, let alone had the physical strength, to even pick up a hammer or a pitchfork. But this week I did. So I cleaned out the much overdue goat barn, and Cole and I mucked out the chicken coop and started preparing the kidding stalls for next month. And then Traci stopped over and we laughed and talked God and she held boards and swung a hammer with me and we built a hay feeder for the goats. And I think she appreciated the therapy, too.

And then the thought struck me . . . that last night, eons ago it seems, I was dreaming about spotted goat kids and farm plans and preparing kidding stalls and there were five kids playing in the haymow. The haymow that I can barely go up to, the thoughts that keep on coming, trying to paralyze me from trusting God and living in His good plans.

"Can't I just pitch a tent here, God, and stay on this mountaintop?" I asked Him. I've never understood Peter so well. (Matthew 17:4)

"Let's not go down, keep me in this place of safety and trust, God. Don't let the thoughts invade, or the peace flee, or let me be consumed with here and now; keep me in the palm of Your hand; delight over me again; pour out Your grace until I get there, too." If I let them, the thoughts do invade and the lies swirl and I am consumed again with the sinking of despair and I lose sight of my sovereign God's hand. "Let's just pitch a tent and stay on the mountaintop, God. I don't want to go down there."

But I go where He leads, and I take the good days along with the hard days. I pray more on the hard days, I know Him more on the hard days, I hold on tighter and look harder for eternity on the hard days. And on the good days . . . I smile, and my prayers turn to rejoicing, and I long for His glory to shine more, and I hold on tighter yet and look harder again for that eternity and His glory that will be revealed only greater because of suffering. And then I remember that Trent is in heaven . . . heaven . . . so I quit my whining and drink my coffee.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Plain and Simple

I am a goat farmer. Plain and simple. I find great pleasure in being in a stinky barn mucking out stalls. Big bellies, hours of assisting does in labor, and slimy afterbirth covered hands holding a new kid thrills my soul. Raising bottle-calves with that goats milk, and then watching those steers grow into large, healthy bovines is right up there with tending to the goats. And then there are the chickens: the farm fresh eggs, the cackling hens, and the job of shutting a little chicken ramp on a cold wintry night to keep them all warm and toasty inside their fancy coop brings a smile to my face like not much else can.

But I've realized that maybe I am too simple. Maybe I am too easily satisfied. I have found in the mornings that I am having an increasingly harder time trying to worship this God I love because I can't even begin to imagine Him appropriately; I can't fathom His greatness; I can't go beyond the little box I continue to put Him in to take in His grandness. I get stuck. What words could there be to describe Him?

My mind goes to Scripture to try to identify just who He is: King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the great I AM, Wonderful Counselor, Savior, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. I don't know how to encompass a God like this into my little brain and my little world, and then find words to honestly praise Him in a way that is fitting to His majesty. A God, who while sovereignly running the entire universe from time's beginning to time's end, comes down to my bedside to hear the lamenting and crying of my heart and my little pleas, and then responds by reminding me of what He says in His Word:

"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17

I think of my son being with this God, this God that I can't contain or begin to see the depth or beauty of, and I find myself not even being able to long for Trent to be back today. So I attempt to praise God more as I'm down there on my knees; to praise this God who gives strength, His strength, and mercy to His children for whatever He calls them to endure until we do see Him face to face.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Therefore . . .

Therefore we do not lose heart.
Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us
an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

I'm thinking this will be my new verse to memorize, or maybe I'll have Alexis write it out in calligraphy and put it in a frame to hang on the wall. "Light and momentary" being the key words, as well as "glory and eternal", and then there's "seen and unseen". With the holidays, and all the new firsts, those things have gotten harder to remember lately. I think these are the day's all those kind people warned me about nine months ago when the hope was still so fresh and eternity didn't seem so far away; it now seems pretty far away. So, I pray harder, cry more, and hold on tighter. In desperation I call on my prayer warriors, only to find out that they are already responding to God's urging to go to their knees to hold me up in prayer at this time; just another testimony to God's never-ending provision. So I pray for them right back. Light and momentary, glory and eternal, seen and unseen; holding on tighter to my Savior's hand until I see Him face to face for myself.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hiding in God

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the Lord. "
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8

I have forgotten that the past few days. I have forgotten the vast distance between my thoughts and God's thoughts. Somehow, I fell into the trap of thinking that I knew best, that I could control my little universe, that my plans would work better than His.

"Sometimes God comes down and asks great things of His people; God puts us on a course of His own choosing." I wrote the words down during the sermon at church on Sunday, and have come back to relish them again today. The pastor was talking about Mary when the angel came to tell her that she would be the virgin mother of the Son of God; definitely not a path of her own choosing as a young teenager. Her response? "I am a servant of the Lord, let it be as you said." Luke 1:26-38

Not sulking, not defeat, not defiance. Humble obedience. Total trust.

God offered me an invitation to the thirsty this morning by bringing me to Isaiah 55. And I am thirsty for Him; so thirsty. "Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live." (Isaiah 55:2-3)

Hope; I forgot about hope. Hope beyond today, hope beyond pain, hope for eternity. The mail-lady delivered a little book by Joni Eareckson-Tada this week called Hope . . . the Best of Things. In this inspiring little booklet, she writes about Christians being called to take up our cross daily and follow the Lord Jesus (Luke 9:23). But her cross, she says, is not her wheelchair; it is her attitude towards her wheelchair. Ultimately, her attitude towards God for putting her in that wheelchair.


My cross is not that my son died; my cross is my attitude towards God for working out His plans which included my son dieing at age twelve. "His ways are higher than mine," He reminded me, "higher than the heavens are from the earth." I can't see eternity. I can't see the ripple effects of one boy going to heaven. I can't see beyond the pain some days. But God has let me choose: my ways, or His ways. Ultimately, there is no choice, other than to see that I have taken my eyes off of the cross, off of Jesus, and that I have resorted back to trusting in my own ways.

. . . if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord . . .
Isaiah 58: 13b-14a

Jibberish to one who does not know the Lord; overwhelming peace to one who looks forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus and that day when salvation will be revealed and our King will reign, defeating His enemies, including death.

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.
Isaiah 55: 6
Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast. . .
Isaiah 56:2a

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Laying in bed expecting sleep to come, and realizing that the odds are against me thanks to that big cup of tea I drank at 4:30, I crawl out from beneath my warm covers to let the barking dog in . . . a good excuse to write and get these thoughts out of my head.

The thoughts of being content in God, and God alone. I know I am supposed to be, and I long to be, but too often I catch myself, again, looking here and now for that contentment.

I see it running rampant in my children, too, with the Christmas season approaching. For as much as we think we are not training them up to seek their treasures here, they still have their own lists of what they hope will ultimately make them happy: dolls and electronic gadgets and remote control trucks to replace the one that survived less than twenty-four hours from last week. Always more, always longing for something else. Maybe the lists are so long because, deep down, we all hope the "next one" will fulfill the ultimate satisfaction we seek on some level; the ultimate satisfaction that is only found in Jesus Christ when He reigns.

I have been pondering heaven again lately. First, the fact that Trent is there. Just that thought alone makes me pause. I have to stop what I'm doing, literally, and can't even go beyond that realization sometimes. He's there. My son, my Trent, is in heaven. He's still Trent, and he's in heaven, knowing what I can't begin to imagine, knowing what Jesus looks like, knowing God spirit to spirit, in heaven. He made it, he's there.

What I have been pondering, after I get over that fact, is that even in heaven our souls are incomplete. Better, by far, with no sin and being in the presence of your Savior, but still incomplete. As our pastor pointed out, and as I read in Revelation, the saints are crying out "How long, Oh Lord?" We were created to be complete with both soul and body: there are no bodies in heaven for those who have died. They, too, are waiting for Jesus to return to make all things right again; including receiving their resurrected bodies. "How long, Oh Lord?" we cry with them as we wait for Him, too.

In the past nine months I can hardly get my thoughts off of heaven and God. One foot here, one foot there; loving my children here, loving my children there. Trusting God for all of it. And the sweet Word of God, oh, the sweet Word. I feel the need to marinate in it, to soak it up by my whole being. It is powerful, and convicting, and life changing.

Eternity. Just imagine: eternity. There is no end to that word. There is an end to our lives here, but not to eternity. We put so much stock into this life, so much is invested here, when really, we should be investing there. What would it look like if Christians lived with eternity constantly on their minds? If we lived wondering, even expecting, what if today was the day we would enter that eternity, and see our God?

I feel like I am just waiting . . . waiting for eternity, or for Jesus to come back and make it all Right.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Tears of the Saints

. . . and as she stood behind {Jesus} weeping,
she began to wet his feet with her tears.
Luke 7:38a

How many tears would it take to wet a man's feet? To wet them enough to require the need of wiping them dry? And how humble must one be to bow and dry them with your own hair? And how great must be the sins, and the awareness of them, to cause all those tears in the first place?

I've cried; but never enough to wet more than my own face. I've wept over my sins; but never before a room full of mocking men. I've knelt before my Savior; but never have I kissed his feet.

"Now which of them will love Him more?" Jesus asked.
Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
"You have judged correctly, " Jesus answered.

I weep this morning because my debt was cancelled. I weep this morning because I haven't wept enough before. I weep because I have never seen it so clearly; because there haven't been enough tears shed; because my debt is the bigger debt; because my Savior chose to cancel my son's debt.

Who will love Jesus more?

The one who had the bigger debt canceled.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Just Stand

And after you have done everything; just stand.
from Ephesians 6:13

Just stand. Or lay. Or get on your knees. Sometimes there is nothing else to do. And as a "doer", doing nothing is the hardest thing in the world. So I {fitfully, anxiously, nervously} just stand.

Anxiety hits hard, and at unexpected times, like at 5:30 a.m. after Rob has already gotten out of bed and the dark is dark and the thoughts won't quit. What if God isn't there? What if eternity never comes? What if I am swallowed up today by this reality? What if the whispers of the enemy are true? Why can't I remember the rest of that verse about God being faithful and that Jesus is really coming back one day?Just stand.Although I feel withered, and beat, and tired and bent, I will still stand.

Just stand.

Stand firm in the Word, firm as the battle rages, firm as the shame heaps from within and my arms and my whole being feel weak; I will stand firm in my Savior's tight grip.

As Elijah (1 Kings 19), I resort back to simple rest. Food, coffee, a bed and a book. A needed respite from the world that continues to invade with it's never-ending demands. Rest for my weary soul, rest to fight the battle again, rest to remember the Promises.

I wait for the peace again, the calm in the storm. I wait to be renewed. I wait for the comforting whispers from a voice not my own. "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you."

But as for me, I will always have hope.

I will praise You more and more.

My mouth will tell of your righteousness,

of Your salvation all day long,

though I know not its measure.

I will come and proclaim your mighty acts,

O Sovereign Lord;

I will proclaim Your righteousness, Yours alone.

Though You have made me see troubles,

many and bitter,

You will restore my life again.

My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to You~

I, whom You have redeemed.

Sweet Promises from Psalm 71

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Letting the Hurt, Hurt

Today, again, grief just hurts. I don't know why I am so stubborn and refuse to realize that and so often try to stuff it instead. I just want to fight it, as if I could fight the pain. It just hurts. We were not ultimately created to know death; it is the deepest, darkest taste of sin. Death is too much reality of the world we live in; so much proof that this world is in need of a Savior to make it all right. Oh, that Jesus would come soon and make it right.

Some days I wonder why I had to be the one to experience this, to feel this, to live this. Why couldn't I just go on with my rose colored glasses living my merry little life? But then other days I praise God for waking me up; waking me up to reality. And I praise Him for showing me the brevity of life, and for showing me the way of salvation, and for showing me Trent's salvation, and for giving me hope beyond this pain.

God asked me if I trust Him. Do I really believe what He says? Do I really believe His plans are best? Do I really believe in eternity where all will be made right? "Yes, Lord, I do" is my weak reply as I lay in my bed trying to figure out how to get out of it this morning. Then let the hurt, hurt.

The tears come when I go to my knees to try to worship this Creator God; this God with His perfect plans of pain. He is good; so good that I can't even fathom how good. My words are not sufficient, only tears are. Tears that will one day be wiped away. Tears over sons, and lost souls, and faithful prayer warriors.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Love You More

If I love you more, will you love me less?
2 Corinthians 12:15

"I love you more." It's been a regular saying around our house for years. I think it started out with a little bunny book nearly a decade ago when we didn't know what tweens or teen-agers were. "I love you more." The battle still continues today, especially at bedtime, especially with a little tween girl. It's a good battle.

I heard God whisper it today as I sat in my broken recliner, drinking my hazelnut flavored coffee, looking out over the frosty yard, hair uncombed, listening to four kids (who were supposed to be) quietly working on school books, or lost in their own little world with God. "I love you. I love you more."

My morning rejoicing over Trent being in heaven has gone to a morning contentment lately; one can only stay on the mountaintop so long. Even rejoicing becomes exhausting. After nearly nine months I find (I know, I know, duh) that I keep coming back to the same reality: this is still real. It's not going to change. Trent is not here. Graciously, God continues to constantly point my eyes to Him, to His truths, to His joys, to eternity.

But it's a battle. A battle that becomes ferociously intense at times. So I praise the Lord that He made me too stubborn deep down in my genetic core to refuse a good fight. My husband can attest. As can my sister who is too much the same way.

God is the author and perfecter of our faith. What He uses to grow me may not be what He uses to grow you. But are you growing? Are you fighting? Have you bowed to Jesus as Lord?

This trial leads me to recite over and over and over again the promises of Scripture. I put no confidence in the flesh; my God is sovereign; it is God's will that I should be sanctified, therefor I put my hope in God alone; I will strive to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer because I know that this present grief and suffering won't even be worth comparing to the glory of Jesus Christ that will be revealed; throughout it all God is refining me and proving my faith (and Himself).

Salvation, and God's word, and Jesus Himself continue to be my greatest joy. I mostly look forward to eternity: not to next week, or next year, or when the goats are due, or the mortgage is paid off. I have never prayed "Lord, let your Kingdom come" with such a fervency and longing before this trial.

I stop often and look up at the stars and the moon at night. I have been known as of late to even stop on my walk up from the barn and just lay down in the cold grass to look up. Two kiddos looked at me odd the first time I was laying there, but soon found a comfortable spot of their own to gaze upon the heavens. One day I will know what the face of the God looks like who made those stars, and the sun, and the moon and put them in their place. Genesis 1:16 almost makes those little twinkling lights seem like an after thought when God was creating the universe. If the stars are the after thought, what then is the creation? What, then, is the worth of salvation? Especially considering that salvation cost the Creator His own Son?

It's as simple as "I love you, too, God." I think He wins. He does love me more. I'll just bask in that knowledge today.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Do You Think there are Tomato Schmears in Heaven?

"And I know this man . . . who was caught up to paradise.

He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell."
2 Corinthians 12:3-4

Do you think there are tomato schmears in heaven? Do you think boys will still want to kick box with their moms? Do you think they will make that popping, kissing noise when you tuck them into bed at night? Do you think there are mud hills so I could slide down with my son, rather than ewe-ing about the dirt and just standing back and taking pictures? Do you think I could cover myself with mud and dive into the pond to rinse off? Do you think there will be duck boats so I can just sit back and enjoy the ride again with my boys at the oars?

Will there be mornings of breakfast in bed, with pudding and cool whip and a cherry on top? Will there be stairways so I can take a turn riding the mattress down? Or forts to build, or trees to climb, or homemade boats to sail, or short horses to ride, or four wheelers to get stuck? Will there be tents to pitch or squirrels to chase? Pheasant's to mount or big fish to catch? Rivers to explore and lakes to enjoy?

For an eternity I will be able to look out into a crowd and spot those ken-doll locks and expect a young man to walk up and put his arm around me and rub my lower back just because he loves his mom and knows I need him close. I will see the twinkle in his eyes again, the sparkle reflecting from his Savior, as we go forth without the fear of death. If mud hills and duck boats and silly boys were this good this side of heaven, what must the other side be like?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cat Tails in the Pond

There were cat tails in the pond this summer. I just noticed them today. A whole season has nearly passed and another one will soon begin. And I feel as if I have finally looked around to realize it. The pond is a mess; the grass is shoulder high, the green moss is thick in the water, and the other half of the dock still hasn't found it's permanent home. I can't recall if I even sat under the little arbor on the island to enjoy coffee and my Bible once this past summer. And the cabin sight . . . it looks a lot the same.

I took a walk and hid today. I know~ mother's probably shouldn't do that, but my kids are old enough that I can hide once in a while. I just sat and watched the world go by. And took pictures. I can usually gage my emotional/spiritual well being by how many pictures I take and if I am writing or not. Even grocery lists and school schedules count; goofy, happy stuff is even better; lamenting is healing and rejoicing in Jesus is the best.

As I sat in the weeds I wondered why projects and ponds ever mattered so much anyway. And then I realized why as I recalled and treasured the memories of this pond: the day that we laughed {and grumped} so hard hauling supplies in the little duck boat to build the arbor with five kids; a full dock that sat in my driveway for months as a special anniversary gift until it was cut in two and put in place so I could walk over to my island; planting blue flowers that never grew in a "victory over death" garden for a son I love and miss; ducks laying on rotten eggs for months; Canadian geese flying in for a landing; catching and releasing entangled wild ducklings; big brothers carrying little sisters across near-frozen water before there was a dock just because she wanted to stand on the island with the big kids; ice skating and shoveling snow; mud slides and a dozen muddy kids; treasure hunts and swimming, smiles and friends and dreams.

And I wondered how to begin feeling again. How to live again. How to find joy here again. I realize joy here is so temporary. It's not the things of this world that we should focus on or invest in to find our joy; it's the people, the occasions, the relationships, the eternities changed and the God who changes them. I realized, also, that this is a time to work; a time to work for the coming Kingdom. All that we see here will pass away, maybe sooner than we think, and our opportunities will be over. As like the fleeting days of childhood, that seem some days as if they will never end, and then do end; all too quickly. Soon, our days will end, or Jesus will return and there will be no more opportunities. What is done for the Kingdom now will be done; there will be no second chances to live this life again.

The other day we were discussing the importance of salvation, obedience to the words in the Bible, the joy found in repentance,the reality of eternity, how Jesus lived in His time here, and how grateful we were that God is sovereign and that He has opened our eyes to the brevity of life when we are still young enough to change our focus. Don't you discuss those things at your dining room table? We were also discussing the millennial reign of Jesus. The thousand years that Scripture says Jesus will reign on this earth before the final judgement.

Can you imagine it? I barely can. I realized that I will get to do what I love, all the things God made me to love, forever. Even goats, and kids, and ponds, and cabin sights. But it will all be without the curse. There will be no more draining spiritual battles to fight, sins to repent of, or children who die. The things unseen will be seen; I will walk face to face, hand in hand with my Savior.

But this is still the battle zone. So I fight; even it's by just hiding for a while and taking pictures.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dance Before Your King

My little sister sent over some pictures of Trent the other day. They came on a good day, a smiling day. I didn't even cry over them, until I saw Brenda and tried to thank her.

Grief is such an unpredictable monster; silently sleeping some days, roaring other days, lying under the surface threatening to burst often times, paralyzing to the whole mind and body when it wants to be. We were discussing the other day the physical pain of grief itself. There is a literal aching in my arms to feel Trent again, and my chest is constantly sore, probably from trying to hold it all in, and then finally letting it out. The exhaustion is overwhelming as well. I try to protect from "extras" as much as I can so that I can just commit myself full time to this process.

I strive to remember that it is God Himself who has ordained the pain, the ache, the memories. Maybe the pain is just a taste of the curse of sin that I have spent my whole life getting used to, and now am seeing just a touch of the reality of that fatal first bite (Genesis 3).

Pappa Murphy's about did me in the other day. It should not be that difficult to walk in and order a family size Canadian Bacon with black olives and a cinnamon wheel. But after the young man took my order I had to turn around and study the menu lest the tears start. And then the stuffed pizza options taunted me even more. I've never ordered alone at Pappa Murphy's. There was always a young boy, with his swagger and Ken-doll locks, who opened the door and stood by my side as they made our Cowboy pizza. I didn't let the tears fall until we were driving down the freeway in the dark, with the radio turned up, with a teen-age girl by my side holding the pizza on her lap instead.

But then an hour of sweet conversation followed. Promises amongst the pain. Hope through the tears. Eternities ahead to forget these struggles. A Savior to look forward to. A God who ordains all things perfectly.

I've smiled the last two days. Smiled for a son in heaven. I take the days as they come; one at a time. I can't live them any other way. Deer hunting opener and big, hungry guys in orange suits will come when they come. And if they all sit around my table eating chili, but not taco soup, this year and we all cry~ so be it. Big brothers have big shoulders. They loved him, too. When Thanksgiving comes and there's an extra seat at the SPOONS table, and nobody is on that end to catch the flying silverware, and we all sit and cry~ so be it. Maybe we'll laugh, too, and pretend that he's teaching David and Gideon how to play. I can't go so far ahead as the annual "Wisconsin tan/tattoo revealing" December swimming party, either, or the following Christmas celebration at Grandma's house. That day will come when that day comes.

I was paralyzed by the fear in the middle of the night last night. Sheer panic. What if I wake up one day and God's grace isn't sufficient? Prayers, pleas, and promises go through my mind. And then God answers a specific request, and Rob rolls over and holds me. Maybe he was scared, too. Maybe he was reaching, too.

But then there are days that I dance. Like David, with all my might, I dance (2 Samuel 6:14). It doesn't matter who's watching. It doesn't matter if they understand the dance or not. The music is playing triumphantly; maybe there's even a trumpet I hear in that band. A choir of angel's are singing. So I dance; I dance before my King.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Longing All the More

This is what the Lord says, He who made the earth, the Lord who formed it

and established it~ the Lord is His name:

"Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."
Jeremiah 33:2-3

My eyes are focused on heaven today. At the same time my mind and my hands are here to love and nurture those that God gave me to love and nurture. A gal commented to me the other day that we will eventually get over this period of grief where all we think about is heaven and being there ourselves one day. She assured me that I would live enjoying this world again. I'm not sure that I want to get back to that point. If that is the desired goal of grieving, just to live here, then I rather prefer to stay where I'm at.

The temptation to consider every day of the rest of my life nearly overtook me. From this perspective of the still fresh pain of grief, I was almost consumed in the pain of considering how to fight this fight every single day that I wake up here without Trent. I almost ran ahead, worrying about tomorrow, forgetting what God has already done in the past every single day that I have woke up without Trent here. God brought me back to here; to this very moment, to this taste of His grace, to this overwhelming peace. He assured me that it would be there then, too, but not until I got there and needed it.

I look around and watch others living, grieving, seeking God. I observe the similarities of how God works, as well as the diversity of it. God has narrowed my "window" down to the immediate: my family. He's closed me in, so to speak, and shown me the importance of these little souls. This is the "world" that He has called me to. Not to a foreign land; He has brought the foreign land to me. This is my mission field. If I fail here, I am no good "out there". When I am faithful here, He let's anything that's left overflow to touch lives. And He has blessed me in the overflow; I am daily praising Him for that overflow.

At times, my "window" opens a crack and I rejoice in the glimpses of the good works I see Him performing. For friends who encourage and pray, for lives that are touched when all I want to do is hide on my little goat farm, for grown men who repent, for teen-age girls He has allowed me to watch as He transforms their lives, for little hearts who are grieving, too, and the mother that cries out to Him to give her the grace and wisdom to keep on loving.

And then I long for heaven even more, and the day I will see clearly all of His good works.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Smiling Again

Praise the Lord, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is His love towards us;
and the faithfulness of the Lord
endures forever.
Praise the Lord.

Psalm 117

I woke up smiling this morning. A smile on my lips and from my whole being, inside and out. I had almost forgotten what that felt like; the beaming, the joy, the freedom. I had dreamt about Trent. I woke up with him still in my arms. And then I remembered that he was in heaven. And I praised my God for it. I praised Him for a son in heaven while my arms clung to my empty chest and the smile stayed, inside and out. Then I went to my knees and praised God again; for his sovereign plans, for the good works still left for me to do, for an eternity to look forward to, for another day to trust Him, for more opportunities to share about Jesus, for children and a husband still here to minister to, for a son in heaven. The sun beamed through my bedroom window, as if to celebrate with me, and to announce the glory of God in the coming day. It feels good to smile again.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

To Smile Again

I don't know, anymore, how to delight in the simple joys of this life. I can only vaguely recall what it felt like to get out of bed with my only thought being that of looking forward to coffee, and sneaking down the stairs before the kids or the dogs woke up to enjoy the quiet of the morning curled up with my Bible in the recliner. I can't remember what it felt like to just play with my kiddos who are still here without this dull ache in my chest, or the fear of loving them so much, or enjoying them too much, or praying such big things for their lives. To all curl up on the couch with a good book used to be a treasure, now the thought brings tears. Pizza-and-movie night often finds me avoiding looking at the corner of the couch that Trent always claimed. I can hardly remember what it used to be like.

Or maybe I can, and that's what scares me.

I'm smiling on the outside, but the inside still hurts.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I've Seen Their Faces

I spoke to a young man this past weekend about Trent's death. A young man, a teenager, who did not know God when he was allowed to be a role model in my son's life without even realizing it. A young man, whom I am not even sure if he knows my God yet.

But I saw his face.

I saw his jaw clench. I saw the words penetrating his very soul. I saw the fight between his pride and the tears stinging behind his eyes. Then they started . . . one by one. Tears dripping down a handsome face of a young man being broken by God. A young man that saw too clearly everything his parents diligently tried to teach him all these years was true. A young man who sin not very long ago threatened to rule, who was steeped in that sin until the stench filled the very church he has attended for years; the very church that embraced him and forgave him and loved him still when he repented. I saw his face. It revealed his heart.

Then I saw another man.

A stoic man, a man that refuses to have his heart revealed. A man who preaches it, but is not allowed to live it. A man that cannot bring himself to reveal the tears, or feel the touch of an embrace, or let the hurt run deep enough to be shattered. I fear for this man; the man with the Bible in his hand, the man without tears.

Light And Momentary

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake,
so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.
2 Corinthians 4:10-11

We forget that the men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit to pen the New Testament were Jesus' friends. Flesh and blood, walked by His side, ate with the Savior, watched Him bleed, friends. Two-thousand-and-some years later it is pretty easy to pour a cup of coffee, with extra cream and sugar, and curl up in our recliner's and read these words. But this was their friend. Death is cruel; crucifixion crueler yet. It was under that vivid memory that they walked their walk and preached their gospel.

It is written "I believed; therefore I have spoken."
With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak,
because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead
will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in His presence.
2 Corinthians 4:13-14

You cannot live the same after experiencing death. And after experiencing a resurrection . . . it goes without saying, your life would change. I know that Trent will rise again one day because of what Scripture says (2 Cor 4:14). I know that my life has changed because of experiencing his death. I can no longer live as if this world matters and will last forever, when right before my eyes there is too much evidence that it does not. There is more. Jesus is the "more". God proved it by raising Him from the dead.

For our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Do you live for the "seen", or the "unseen"? Do you groan, longing to be rid of these mere earthly tents that we live in, longing to be clothed with your heavenly dwelling (2 Cor. 5:1-2)? Do you long to see that glory? The eternal glory that far outweighs anything here?

We live by faith, not by sight.
We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body
and at home with the Lord.

So we make it our goal to please Him,
whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,
that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body,
whether good or bad.
2 Corinthians 5:7-10

I feel the shame creeping in even writing these words. I fear that "man" will not be pleased to hear them again. I fear for the deaf ears that they will fall on, for the hardened hearts that will refuse them again, the dull souls that will ignore them. The warning has gone out; the choice is yours, the choice is mine. This day . . . yet again this day, there is still hope, there is still time to call on the One who can change your heart. His name is Jesus.
Be reconciled to God.

God made {Jesus} who had no sin to be sin for us,
so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

Do you even understand that? Do you understand the depravity of sin? Your own sin? I cannot begin to see the depth of it, yet it is simple enough for a child to understand. We have sinned, Jesus paid the penalty of an eternity in Hell for us somehow through His death on the cross, and proved the power of God when He was resurrected from that death, and He said He is returning one day in judgment. Sound the warning, shout it in the streets, repent and be saved! Beg God to open your eyes, live for Him who matters.

As God's fellow workers we urge you not to recieve God's grace in vain.
I tell you, now is the time of God's favor,
now is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:1 and 2b

I have seen death. I have felt its sting. I have known it's reality. I have seen the hard faces that refused to be changed by it; I fear for those souls. Be changed. Let God change you. Give up whatever you are clinging to here in this world. Turn to God. Surrender today; the day that He is still offering salvation.

Monday, October 31, 2011

All too Real

So often lately I wake up in a panic that Trent isn't here. And more so because I can't remember him vividly being here, and "here" now means no Trent. I woke up this morning in the middle of some dream that he wasn't in, and I couldn't get my brain to figure out how to put him in it. I couldn't figure out how he would fit even if he was in it. I gasp for breath as I cry for my son. I raise my hands as I praise my God. I tell God I want to shut this blog off. I don't want to be real anymore, God. I just want to go hide somewhere. He says No. I don't know how, God, I can't lead; but He still says No. Grieve real, Terri. If you quit you'll only stuff. Walk it real. Fighting brothers still here make it all too real. Eternity will be real quicker than any of us can imagine. They're not ready. Have they forgotten that they can never get the morning back? Have they forgotten that even kids die and face judgement before God? Cherish each other; give your little brother the stupid whatever it is, help him button his shirt and find his Bible for church. Sitting in the church pew the tears threaten, both over the song and over reaching out and only finding four kiddos. Not remembering, and then remembering all too well. My outstretched arm reaches for God. Come now, Lord, come now. Some days I can't reach high enough.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Joyful, Patient, and Faithful

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:11-12

It has come to my attention that there are certain people out there who have been waiting with much anticipation for a rip-roaring blog post after an amazing God conversation. Or maybe such person just wanted to butter me up for a free Aunt Terri babysitter. Either way, my brain could use some sorting. So, here we go, just some thoughts and observations from the past week on this bizarre walk of grief.

What keeps coming to my mind over and over again, after having several conversations about Trent's accident, is the thought: "You don't have to apologize for my Sovereign God." Right, wrong, politically correct or not, that has been where my brain keeps returning. Next week it will probably come up with another theological nugget to turn and polish and find God's glory in, but this week it is the observation of the lack of joy (or trust, or belief, or plain-old not knowing) in God's good plans for His children.

I can count on one hand (well, probably, my brain doesn't work so well these days to remember stuff) the number of people who were happy to hear the news that Trent died, even those who knew he was saved and therefor in heaven. And I know all the "we're sorry for you, we're sad for you, we're crying 'cause Jesus cried when Lazarus died" lines. They are the nice words to say, they are a natural response, and we should cry when somebody dies. But hardly anybody smiles and says, "Hooray for God's sovereign plans! Hooray for Heaven!" Even eight months later.

I'm scared of getting bitter. I guess that would be considered the required Anger Step that everybody who experiences a tragic death is supposed to go through. "Be mad at God, He can take it." The problem is, tho, I am having a really hard time finding that verse in my Bible. Doesn't that sort of turn the tables and put us right back on top of being in charge of the whole intricate workings of the entire universe rather than God being the one in charge?? It screams that my ways are better than His, rather than what Scripture says, that His ways are better than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).

As my sister Traci reminded me in my whining the other day, "Have you forgotten you are a daughter of the King?"

Well, yes, actually I had, and a good swift kick in the behinder was what I needed. My Heavenly Father is the King. The King of all Kings, actually. He said so in His book, the Bible. And somewhere there is another book that has my name written in it. "Terri, my precious one, the one I love, the one I have good plans for; plans not to harm her but for her good. Plans to reveal Myself in her, and through her. Plans to reveal Myself in a way that she could never know Me without. Plans to give her hope and a future. Plans to answer her prayers for her son's salvation."

Grief is exhausting. The battle is real, the soul is weary, the mind can't handle much extra. This world is a distraction as of late. It's trinkets don't charm me anymore. I barely notice it's glimmering attraction. But God consumes me. Somebody mentioned the other day how sorry they were for me, how I looked like I had lost so much weight, was it the stress she wondered?

"My dear Christian sister," I wanted to tell her, "don't you know this God of ours is greater than even death? Have you not tasted of Him and found Him to be better and bigger and greater? Do you doubt that He would carry His children?" But as words so often fail me in speech, I could only gather my eight months of experiencing the tip-of-the-iceberg of God's glory being revealed before my very eyes by saying, "Food hasn't mattered so much lately. I have been consumed by God." She looked at me strange. "It's a good thing," I assured her.

And you all thought you were watching me in my little fishbowl. The observation of grief, especially in Christians, is just as interesting on this end.

And here's another thought . . .

Do we create yet another idol when we seek God's glory, or ways to glorify Him (as if we could bring Him any more glory by our mere deeds), rather than seeking just Jesus? Does our striving to bring glory to God through what we are trying to do for Him really become a works based faith that we have mastered to try to win our Father's loving affection? Somehow we have been duped to think that He doesn't love us enough to pry our fingers off of this world if He causes pain. I have seen just the opposite: the pain is the love of God. Pain is how He sanctifies His children, and how He shines His glory through them (Zec 13:9).

Just splitting some more hairs between the sinful nature and the God of the universe and finding myself revealed more of a sinner than I thought I was yesterday.

I don't know where this post will find you today; saved by Jesus, not saved, seeking Him or running away or not even knowing that you really don't know Him. I can't even begin to fathom where God chooses to bring these rambling words of mine. But I pray for you often, dear reader. I pray that the Holy Spirit moves how He said He would move~ through the Word, through honesty, through shattered lives.

Since it will all reveal God's glory someday, it is under God's sovereign hand, and if it means eternities will be changed, then "Here I am, Lord. Shatter me."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

As A Child

For the wages of sin is death,
But the gift of God is eternal life
In Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

Micah and I were working on memorizing Romans 6:23 yesterday. I found that I really don't know how to clearly present the gospel to a six year old, let alone explain to him how our bodies can stay here when we die, and yet we can still live in heaven until we get our new ones. I couldn't quite find the words to explain the depravity of the human soul before salvation, either. Trying to explain sin and the offenses so great against a Holy God that an eternity in Hell is the only just punishment? Ummm . . . hitting your brother?

He listened, and the wheels of his little brain were spinning. He could connect sin, it turns out there wasn't much that needed to be explained. That squirming when I first mentioned the word revealed his heart. "For the wages of sin is death." God only owes us punishment for what we've done, like when Mommy has to discipline you when you've been naughty. He got that part.

And then the gift . . . "But the gift of God is eternal life." His birthday is coming up, so he understood gifts. But trying to put the glorious gift of salvation into simple terms, a gift that would last for eternity, a gift that I can't even fully comprehend, was challenging. To try to explain to him how God gave Trent that gift, and yet Trent is gone, and to six year old boys disappearing and never coming back home is a scary thing. But this is a good gift, Micah. The best gift.

I tried to explain (tried, because my brain has a hard time processing it fully) how we can be in heaven with God, and that's a good thing, fabulous thing, yet it means being away from Mommy and that's okay because you're with God. It's even okay for Trent. It's even okay when we all miss him so much because God said it was okay.

And then I tried to explain eternity . . . forever, and ever, and ever, and ever. And how important it was to decide what we were going to do with this gift from God now because it would make a difference throughout that forever.

The best news of all is that it is a gift from God that is only found "in Christ Jesus our Lord." Now, if trying to explain sin and depravity, and eternity and salvation to this kiddo was hard, imagine trying to explain the very Son of God without misrepresenting Him.

But I think he got it. On some six year old level, he got it. Jesus is good, sin is bad, eternity is a long, long time, and salvation matters.

For the wages of sin is death,
But the gift of God is eternal life
In Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

The Father has sent His Son
To be the Savior of the world.
1 John 4:14

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

And Then Came Facebook

I was doing okay. I was breathing normally. I was content to wait on God. And then came facebook. Just a couple of goofy pictures on somebodies sister's facebook page from two years ago that somebody else thought I would appreciate. And I did. And than I showed Rob. And he had to leave before we all saw a grown man cry. And I stuffed it, because people were watching and best friends of twelve-year-old boys shouldn't see a grown woman cry~ it scares them, believe me. Do you know how hard this is? Some days it's harder than others. I miss that goofy kid so much.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Just Sustain Me, Lord

For you were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light and find out what pleases the Lord.
Ephesians 5:8-10

I woke up again barely able to breath this morning. Panic attacks, anxiety, grief, womanhood; give it whatever label you want. My flight response wants to escape, but there is no where to run.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then,
I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Ephesians 4:1

I have no choice, the Holy Spirit continually yields my heart back to God. I am constantly forced to check my heart, check my motives, line them up with God's Word. I am constantly found wanting. My flesh screams out the injustice of this life and the pain it brings. My greed longs for it all to be about me; for it all to be my way.

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
Ephesians 4:7

After the tears, I can begin to feel the grace. The things I can't say, I will have to trust the Spirit to relay. The real hurts, the depth of that pain, even if it's only the pain of my pride being exposed, are washed clean in the presence of my Savior Jesus. My fear of rejection is forgotten as my eyes are turned back to Christ and the Cross. He said I am His. He said to follow Him how He leads. He has called me precious.

Surely you heard of Him
and were taught in Him
in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life,
to put off your old self,
which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires,
to be made new in the attitude of your minds;

and to put on the new self,
created to be like God
in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:20-24

I am not called to follow Christ as an imitator of how others are. We have all been given gifts, we have all been created in God's image to reflect Him in who He made us. He has prepared us individually for our very own works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:11-13). When I stray from who He made me, how He has called me, how He leads, and try to copy somebody elses walk, then I have successfully failed to bring God any glory; I doubt the very intricate making's of the soul that He has made me.

I do doubt when the pain rises, and I feel the hurts and the rebellion in my heart, that God will use it for good. But somehow He does. After the tears I can hear His sweet, soft voice comforting, leading, admonishing, rebuking, loving; clearly perfect in exposing my deceitful heart. The Word that never fails, the hand that always leads, my God who always loves me and forgives.

Today, I am just broken. And broken is okay, because I know the One who fixes "broken".

Thursday, October 20, 2011

This is Grief

The thought dons on me regularly: Trent is still Trent. And then I begin to wonder for the umpteenth time where he is. Where heaven is. Where God is, where God dwells face to face with His children. And then I miss him, again. And then I wonder about what heaven is like, and what he's doing and experiencing, and about the things that he knows but I can't even begin to imagine.

And then the fear sets in.

I read that the first year of grief is covered by so much denial that you can't really even feel it; that the reality barely begins to sink in. The second year is harder, they tell me. And then this week I met a couple who lost their child several years ago. The tears still rose in their eyes and the day at the hospital was still vivid as they told me about it. But then they looked at me strange when I began to talk about my joy of Trent being in heaven.

I fear that I am missing something here. Aren't Christians supposed to be excited about going to heaven? I fear that doubt really will sneak in. I fear that one day I, too, will begin to think that God is not good and sovereign and that this world really is the only forever. Where are the stories of those who believe in the Promises of Scripture during times of deep suffering? I can't find them. I don't want any more nicey-nicey faith stories. I want the warriors. Those who stood fast to the Word of God. I barely even see the Word of God in those grief stories, let alone the gospel, or sin, or eternity. Where are you Christians? Who is fighting this battle with us?

I fear seeing God for the first time only to have not believed whole-heartedly every single word that He said. I fear being so content with what I can see here that I quit lamenting over my son being gone, because ultimately it was sin that lead to death, and I was able to somehow find that normal.

"Do you see him now?" Lucy Pevensie asked Trumpkin in Prince Caspian when they all stood on the shore of that river before the great Aslan himself. Yes, he saw him now.

I want to stand before God proclaiming that I never doubted His plan. That I did fight. That I did believe. That I knew He only did things for my good and His glory in my life. That I did trust His hand that was leading. I want to stand before Trent, holding him in my arms, telling him of what God did with his life and death, how I missed him, how I always knew he was in heaven and was rejoicing that he made it. That because of it I fought the fight harder. I long to let go of all that hinders here so I can run the race well, for the prize that matters.

I don't want to be entertained anymore, world. I don't want to be comforted by the only hope being that grief gets easier with time, or that my faith is so "nice" and it's good to see that I think there's a god somewhere out there. I don't want my tears to be in vain. I don't want to become apathetic. I want to live with my eyes wide open to eternity that will come only too soon.

I want to live smiling because my son is in heaven and I trust the God who was gracious enough to bring him there to be gracious enough to pour out His mercies in my life until the day that He chooses to bring me there. I want to feel the depth of the raw pain that God ordained. I want to know Him in the deeper parts that can only be known through this suffering. I will not trade perishable rewards for eternal ones. I will settle for nothing less. No tarnished wordly trinkets can compare.

I only want Jesus and all that He promised.

Just Breathe

Grief is like a vice. I feel it squeezing in too tight sometimes. I feel it wrapping itself around my chest, then crawling it's way up into my throat, the dull ache and the too common stinging in my eyes until the tears are barely contained. I try to shut off the thoughts that bring it on, then I realize that it's no use. I might as well think them and go forth. I might as well feel the pain and cry the tears. And when it's over, then I can just breathe. In, out, in, out. Just breathe.

Another first today. The first day of going back to work in eight months. My employer has been so generous to allow me as much time off as I needed, and I probably wouldn't have had to even gone back today. But it was time. Time to just face it, do it, cross off another first. To feel the love and the hugs, to answer the dreaded "how are you" question, to drive the same drive, pray the same prayers, park in the same parking lot, punch the same time clock, walk the same halls as the day the phone call came. And all those ladies . . . if only they didn't have to be so wonderful, if only there weren't so many mother's with their arm's open wide who have been broken, too, for us the past eight months. Who have lifted up prayers and well wishes and really wanted to know how I was. Some smiled, some cried, some know my God, some don't, some agreed, too, that the world should have stopped when my son died.

I didn't realize how much I was stuffing until I turned back onto our road heading home after my shift and realized that I would walk in the door this time and hug all of my children who are still here. This time wouldn't be like last time. This time when I walked in the door I wouldn't have to ask if my son was dead or not. I wouldn't have to call my Mom or Traci or Jerry or go to Duluth. I could delight my children with fudgsicles instead and go play outside in the sunshine with them. I could live. If I could just stop crying. Just breathe, just breathe, just breathe. One. Breath. At. A. Time.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Better Than a Hallelujah

The honest cry of a breaking heart is better than a Hallelujah
Amy Grant, "Better than a Hallelujah"

Writing is a release for me. Freedom, in a sense, to let things go. A record to see where God has taken me. My struggle with blogging has always been to write for myself, with the glory going to God in it, without the fear of man. So I shut the comments off, again, and allow myself to be where God has me. It's good to lay these thoughts down. It's good to stop carrying them, thinking them, trying to remember them, to quit being scared of forgetting them . . .

Lately I have found that the high of rejoicing is turning to a stoic contentment, contentment to steadfastness, and steadfastness to a hope that is still full of much underlying joy, all tinged with a deep missing of Trent and the sorrow of grief. It's always there, and I assume it always will be. I feel a deep resolve setting in. I refuse, in my genetic stubborness, to let God's glory get out of sight as the days, weeks, and months pass by. I refuse to let this become normal. How is it normal that your son dies? Do we not get used to sin being normal, then, if our only hope is to strive to learn how to function normally after losing a child?

The reality of eternity is already losing it's impact, though, as much as I thought it never would or could. It has barely even been my first thoughts the past few days. I woke up this morning and realized that already eternity wasn't as vivid as it was eight months ago.

Eight months. It's been eight months today. I can remember when it hadn't even been eight days. I remember sitting in the front pew at the funeral looking at Trent's body beside me in the coffin, thinking, "It's been six days already, Trent's been in heaven for six days." I am sure when it's been eight years, and more, I will be thinking, "It's been eight years already." I don't want eternity to lose it's impact. I don't want to live without heaven being my forethought in everything. I don't want to live as if death is normal.

God said,
"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am HE, I am HE who will sustain you. I have made you, and I will carry you. I will sustain you, and I will rescue you."
Isaiah 46:4

I went to my knees again this morning, down on the floor, face to the ancient wooden boards. I went in obedience. I long for obedience, and I detest myself for being so dull to hear and obey God's voice. What did He say? Am I really being faithful? Have I really listened? I long to see the grand plan of all of this. I don't know how one twelve year old boy, one night of talking at the dining room table and one changed heart after many years of prayers, then one skiing trip followed by {probably} many more years of tears can result in God's glory. I don't know how the Holy Spirit moves to cause repentance through that, let alone salvation.

Salvation occured yet again under our rooftop over the weekend. As I slept in my bed upstairs, God was doing His work dowstairs. Teenage girls sat giggling while deciding which movie to watch next, and then the topic changed, and an eternity changed. I am baffled. I am amazed. I stand in awe to be a vessel of that kind of work.

I spent the day lamenting. Uncontrollable tears for years of pain that I can't understand, tears for the fear of people that I can't do anything to change, tears that wouldn't stop. Tears for people that I can't reach, souls that I am not even sure that God wants me to try to reach, as odd as that seems. People where I have no ability to even minister when I am in their midst.

I lamented for the trappings of their lives, the trappings of their own choosing in a way, and the blindness that sin causes. I cried because I have felt the pain of that trapping, and because I long for their freedom, and because I am terrified that I am being trapped as well. As polite Christians we don't say names, we don't point out each other's sins, we barely even dare to call sin, sin anymore. But it's still sin, and sin still traps, and God does not bless disobedience. Until there is open repentance and confession it will continue.

Events of the past eight months have been rolling through my brain. Faces of teenage boys come to mind. One young man at the funeral, who had been on the skiing trip with Trent, crying uncontrollably, admitting to me that he knew he would be in hell if it had been him. His mother, looking on, praying I am sure, as she must long for salvation for her children as much as I long for salvation for mine. I haven't seen him since. I don't know if God chose to save him or not.

Another young man, another friend of Trent's that had been on the trip that Friday, who was also at the funeral. I have seen him several times since, I have asked him repeatedly where he would be, where he is with God, and I have gotten the same answer. And still he refuses to accept grace and salvation. He can't accept grace and salvation until God grants it to Him. So I keep praying for him, this boy whom I could love as my own. Why some, and not others, God?

I think of pastors, four of them and their wives, who have not had the time in eight months to ask how I am, who have not allowed us to share our joy with them, to share God's good work with them. Then there's the church lady who has only cared to ask about who my sister is dating now than how severe our hearts are breaking, how God has moved, how He has sustained.

Cousins, friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neices, nephews, fellow teen-age football players: their faces come before me. I wonder where they are spiritually. I wonder if they remember the songs, the sermons, the power of that day. I wonder if they have considered their own eternity.

I think of the people who continue to search for Trent's name nearly every day on the world wide web and find the blog. I wonder about others that are sent here by some simple search for making soap or feeding calves, and find the gospel instead. I wonder if I present the gospel clearly. I wonder about how God moves. I wonder how my breaking heart makes a difference. I long for God to use it to make a difference.

There was a missionary who spoke at our church the other day. One thing, especially, that he said has stayed with me. He talked about mission minded churches, and stated that the only way that a churches light {of the gospel} could shine all the way to the other ends of the earth was if it shone strong and bright at home, which is the source.

I thought about how easy it is to "shine" our gospel across a pretty computer page. Or to send money to the orphans in India. And then I wondered if I shine bright close to home. More and more God has revealed my "missions" field as my children and husband. The day will come, Lord willing, when again I am called to sign up for every project at church, but for now I am called to shine where I am at home.

Days without the distraction of a computer has left more time for prayer and for visiting. I have been inducted into a group of women in our community who have lost children. There are too many of us in our little town. God has renewed my heart for them in these past couple of weeks.

Grief is lonely. Sometimes lonely is easier than awkward, though. Who else could understand (well, besides aunts, and a few certain other's)? To overhear two mother's who have lost children discussing phone calls and hospitals and funerals and month's of grief would be an odd conversation for an outsider. Especially mother's who are happy that their son's are in heaven.

Now I'm rambling, which must mean that it's time to go make some peanut butter cookies with my little dumpling's who are still this side of heaven.

God loves a lulluby
In a mother's tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

God loves the drunkard's cry
The soldier's plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

The woman holding on for life
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

The tears of shame for what's been done
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

Better than a church bell ringing
Better than a choir singing out, singing out
We pour out out miseries
God just hears a melody

Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts

Are better than a Hallelujah (Better than a Hallelujah sometimes)
Better than a Hallelujah (Better than a Hallelujah sometimes)