Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Almost All There

It's all there: the pictures, the smiles, the memories, the horses, the kids . . . all except for Trent. It was one of those unbelievably gorgeous February days when, in the midst of paperwork and home school, I declared a fun day. Just like we used to do: pack up a picnic, the kids, and the horses and head out back. Even if everybody fought and the horses were ornery we were still together.

After my announcement I began procrastinating: we need to feed the chicks, does Micah have socks, change out of your nice pants, what kind of sandwiches should we bring, I have to put on some make-up, mascara, eye-liner, pick a pair of shoes . . .

I just don't want to do it; I don't know how to do it. When does the ache stop?

I beg for grace, and yet more grace . . . more and more and more. I think of eternity, when death will be no more. "Why not just start it today, God?" I ask Him; just start it today.

The grace trickles in. I have to go; I have to smile; I have to live. I remember that God is sovereign and Trent is in heaven after all: I know, I know. I just want to go have another picnic with him; I just want to hear him laugh again, and see him ride the short horses, and talk with him and see him play with his brothers. I don't know how to dream anymore. The perfect spot for the cabin doesn't seem so perfect anymore.

But God's grace is ultimatley sufficient, so I ride the horse, I eat the tuna wrap, I live for my kids.

The camera batteries were exhausted mid-picnic, so I couldn't hide anymore. I was forced to participate: to explore the woods looking for old bee-hives, laughing with my kids, playing games, really riding my horse, looking at the trees and the trail and the flying pheasant and the two girls ahead of me instead of looking for the perfect shot.

And I felt it, next to the ache and the pain, I felt the glimmer of joy rising.

Grief seems to force you to choose between emotions. Pain often rules and joy seems impossible because your loved one is gone. But does it have to be impossible? Is God not enough for joy in grief? For trusting His plans while you live the day's He still has you here?

This afternoon I stumbled across Isaiah 29:13 (NASB): Then the Lord said, " . . . [these] people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote ..."

The words cut deep: lip service, rote tradition, heart far removed. I don't want my life to be lip service to God. I long to know Him and trust Him with my very being.

I read once about a mother who expressed that God graciously revealed to her through her grief that her greatest desire was really her child, not Jesus. Such a fine line. One that we think we have a right to as mothers: to place our children above everything else, even God. I long to let God be God, and to be so satisfied in Him and His plans that my life reveals it fully; to be so consumed with Him that the things of this life are meaningless.

Maybe that's the real pain: what I thought was reality in this world has been lost along with my son. Somehow I have to learn how to live here the rest of my days until I get to heaven, not being of this world but in this world. I will continue to listen for that trumpet, and as I wait I'll dance before my King (Phil 3:20; John 17:14-15; 1 Cor 15:51-52; 2 Samuel 6:16).

Monday, February 13, 2012

A New Song

Sing to the Lord a new song,
His praise from the ends of the earth.
Isaiah 42:10a

My first thoughts this morning were about that last week a year ago. It was my underlying intention, I guess, to relive every moment of those days for . . . for what? Nostalgia? To question again God's plan, or attempting to have devised my own plans by asking the inevitable "what if I had only's?" Do I think that guilt would somehow have changed God's sovereignty?

I am finding out - the hard way - that there is this part of grief that insists the one left behind is held in a bondage of guilt . . . guilt for being happy, guilt for not crying enough, guilt for living. This "monster" continues it's attempts to overwhelm me. Like Traci reminded me the other day: "We were not originally created to experience death." Our very beings cannot take in the concept of death; our soul, mind and bodies are repulsed by the reality of it.

My second thought this morning was again the realization that it was not me who died a year ago. If I die along with Trent, what does that say of God? That He's not worthy to make plans greater than mine? Ummm . . . hello . . . I can barely balance my checkbook, let alone decide the fate of every soul that ever lived plus their eternal time and destination to face their Creator so that it will portray the most glory to God forever and ever and ever.

His ways are higher than our ways; higher than the heavens are from the earth; who can fathom His ways; it is better to be in heaven with Jesus than here in this world where the curse of sin still looms so heavily; I will fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, who, for the glory and joy set before Him endured even the cross; will God's grace not be sufficient today; will His mercies fail this new day, this new moment?

And then I finally remembered that I don't have to figure this all out. God has only asked me to trust Him in it. So I went to my knees in prayer; I praised the God who gives and takes away; I begged for grace, and for salvation for my children who are still here.

Little Raelynn was so excited the other day to get a new dress. In her simple child-like belief (which, I might add, Aunt Terri could learn from) she said to her Mom, "It's too bad Trent didn't die this year, I could have worn this dress to his funeral."

Anybody who has never grieved without the hope of God and heaven would be mortified at some of the things that have come out of our mouths this past year: there is no doubt in us believers in the family that we will see Trent again, and when we do he is in for quite a few pit-attacks, nouggies, games of tag, popping kisses, and hugs that may never end.

I continue to attempt to learn how to live without my son; I attempt to decipher what really matters in my short days here.

The shock that Trent is really gone still surprises me most days. We are getting "used" to it at home, but the odd comment, or seeing somebody we haven't seen in a while, brings it all back fresh. "Are you really talking about my son?" I want to ask them.

Everywhere we go we make people cry: my mom, my sisters, our friends, the tax guy. There are no adequate words to express the depth of what it is like to see somebody grieving over your son; grieving for us in our grief; feeling the pain on our behalf. I am a people-pleaser and want to take it away from them. I want to tell them not to cry; to tell them that I am sorry for always making them cry; to tell them that I will quit writing and talking about Trent so that they won't have to cry . . . but I have to remember that ultimately I don't write for them; I don't share for them.

I fear forgetting Trent: his smile, his voice, his eyes, his favorite dessert, his favorite pair of jeans.

I don't know how to celebrate the one year anniversary of my son's death. I don't know how to continue when the months have turned into years. I guess it will be a lot like yesterday, and tomorrow, and the first day: all by the grace of God. I keep telling myself that as the days tick by I am counting them down the other way: rather than being one day longer since Trent died, I am really one day closer to eternity myself; one day closer to seeing God for myself. Isn't that the ultimate goal for the believer in Jesus? Isn't heaven the reward? Isn't this the temporary world, and eternity is the end result?

Billy Graham once said: "I am convinced that when a man is prepared to die, he is also prepared to live. The primary goal in life therefore should be to prepare for death. Everything else should be secondary." I am ready for death, secure in Jesus Christ, therefore I am free to live.

Friday, February 10, 2012


I woke up crabby. Which soon turned into tears. Which soon turned into a headache. Which all began with an overwhelming longing for Trent to just walk down those stairs again this morning. Or to just be in the mix of kids and puppies. Or to just be around the corner to say "good-morning Mom" and give me a hug. The freshness of it hit me hard today. The intensity of missing him has been almost stronger this past week than it has been this whole past year.
Some tell me it is the shock of grief that is wearing off. Some tell me that the second year is worse than the first. Some tell me twenty years later it is still going to be hard. Some tell me that the rest of my life will involve this continuous battle.

What I've realized all over again is that this battle is a battle to believe. At the core, I am battling to gain victory over my flesh of feelings to hold on to the truth of God's Word. My feelings tell me that this hurts; my feelings tell me that I just want my son back; my feelings tell me that God can't be good in taking a twelve year old boy to heaven.

I pick up my sword and make feeble attempts to fight:

" . . . but He [God] who sent me [Jesus] is true." (John 7:28)

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my [Jesus'] word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." (John 5:24)

"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out . . ." (John 5:28-29b)

"My Father is always at his work to this very day . . ." (John 5:17b)

"The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent." (John 6:29)

As I was on my knees in tears I was reminded of Hebrews 12:1, and the great cloud of witnesses that surround the believer. Commentaries indicate that these are the believers listed in chapter eleven, the list of the "greats", who overcame unbelievable trials and have now entered God's presence; who have been in God's presence for centuries since those trials. If we, as believers, had just a glimpse of heaven, and a true vision of who this God is, would we be more willing to trust our lives, and our children's lives, in His hands? After that first moment that our soul is in His presence, wouldn't we have gladly given up more if we had only understood now Whom it was we were entrusting our lives to?

I am not belittling grief, I am not denying the human reaction to it and every right that I could claim as a mother to feel the raw hatred of this and justify every tear and the right to stay in bed and cry. But what I cannot deny is that I have no grounds, as a believer in Jesus Christ, to not believe His promises in Scripture, other than my own wicked heart. Did He not say it? Did He not lay out the path of salvation clearly? Did He not tell us enough about the Father and heaven and eternal life and His love for us and the good plans He has for us that we should doubt Him?
I have no ground to stand on when I try to pull out my "human" card to try and trump His sovereignty. This battle is a battle for belief; it is a battle for eternal souls. If I were to face God today, would I face Him ashamed that I didn't just believe?

So I fight . . . I fight to believe every word in Scripture as if I would face God today. I face Him in my prayers; I face Him with the truth of my feelings, and actions, and heart; I battle to believe.