Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day Seven Hundred Ninety-three

Day seven hundred ninety-three is the day that insanity hits. You may have thought that you were already there several times before this day, but you realize by the depth of the freshness of the emotions that you haven't been.

Day seven hundred ninety-three is the day that you switch from repeating the mantra of "I can do this, I can do this, I can do this" to really not wanting to do it anymore. The insanity part kicks in because you begin to realize that there is really only one option available: to live the rest of your life without your child.

The sun shines after a long winter, you actually smile inside and out, old plans are rejuvenated, and you even begin to dream again. Then the mere sight of the woods haunts you, annual vacations become thoughts of torture chambers, and the new spring calves make you cry. Insanity begins to sound better than the alternative.

I've heard it likened to the breaking of a colt. Until there is no fight left there is no real submission. Until I quit fighting God there is no real submission. On the outside I am functioning with the concerns of today, but my heart keeps longing to go back to Egypt like the Israelites (Acts 7:39). My heart keeps going back to two years ago instead of looking ahead.

As I wiped the dust off of Trent's picture I told him, "I'm not ready yet. Not ready to live without you."

And those pictures, the ones that drive you closer to that insanity with their beckoning questions of heaven and eternity. Constantly I wonder when mine will start and I will get to see God, then I am reminded that Trent does see God, right now.

I sit down hard, dumbfounded, trying to wrap my brain around that concept.

I open my Bible and read Jesus' words about this eternal kingdom, Paul's words about the unspeakable glory of it, and John's words about the indescribable visions he saw. Our lives are as a mist, Scripture says, so on day seven hundred ninety-four I just try to figure out what is worth living for until the sun shines and dries up the mist and I see the Son.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Prosperity Gospel

Waking up again in the middle of the night desperate. Desperate for God. Lying there acknowledging all the things that I use to replace Him, all the things that look like Christianity. Piper's words echoing through my brain, "God is enough. God is enough. God is enough." Years of falsehood shed in one YouTube video. Yet another removing of everything my flesh clings to that isn't God. The things that rise to the top surprise me, the first one I realized was my own trust in my knowledge of Scripture. What a fine hair to split in this whole heart revealing process God has brought me on. Verses are not enough, theology is not enough, fill in the blank is not enough. Only God is enough.

Friday, April 19, 2013


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

February 15, 2013. That was the date I had wrote on the calender for Esther's due date. Over two months ago. Every day she was under scrutiny. Signs, no signs? We checked pretty consistently: swelling, ligaments, udder, anything? Looking at her big belly and trying to imagine the thoughts of God as He was designing His new creation inside that caprine womb. Maybe a sign, nope, definitely no signs.
Then a few weeks ago, once we had finally given up hope on the February due date, the signs started. Maybe next week, we said. Then, maybe tomorrow. Don't leave home, don't schedule anything extra, don't live lest she deliver those kids without us. Then the tomorrows came, and the signs didn't change. The middle of the night checks waned, then the middle of the day checks, too. The early morning races to the barn soon became solo walks of enjoying the scenery. Halfheartedly now we check on her in the middle of chores. I'm sure some day she has to have those kids.

Two years after Trent's death, a date that I hadn't had wrote on the calendar, I find myself much at the same place as with Esther. The anticipation has waned. I keep telling myself that heaven will come one day. I'm sure Jesus really meant soon when He said He's coming back. The middle of the night and early morning worship services have dwindled to hiding under the covers until I absolutely have to get up and face another day. The arms haven't been raised as much and the prayers have become pathetic groans.

Weary? Yes. Like Anna and Simeon in the gospel account of Luke, I wait {un}patiently for the day that I will see my Savior. I wonder how many weary days they waited. I wonder what they did in the meantime. Then I wonder at the overwhelming joy that they must have felt when the promise was finally fulfilled.

One day we will make that trek down to the barn and, Lord willing, there they'll be – kids more beautiful and intricately formed than we could have ever imagined. We will forget the long months and weeks of waiting, and we would have gladly made those middle of the night trips all over again when we see momma with her babies.

As we stew in frustration over “when will Esther have those babies” a miracle is taking its time to form down in her stall. The pain and hard work will belong to Esther alone, the price that she has to bear for it to be possible that there is such beauty for us to behold. Like when Jesus delayed before going to Lazarus' tomb, His glory is often times seen more divinely when there's waiting involved.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Total Trust

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

The round block of wood sits in the windowsill above my kitchen sink. The words “Total Trust”engraved in it as a way to pass the hours while Trent was at a friend's house for a weekend many years ago. I see it every time I fill up the coffee pot, every time I wash a dish, every time I look out over the farmyard to make sure there are no critters running around on the wrong side of the fence.

Total Trust.

Often times it convicts me to read those two simple words. It pierces my heart and makes me ask again and again, am I trusting? Total trust? Like the challenge course at summer camp, when they ask for a volunteer for the faith drop. Stand up on this ledge, now turn around, close your eyes and just fall backward. We've got you. Don't be scared.

I was never brave enough to volunteer. I'm not even sure if I ever had any vital part in the actual catch. Nobody asked me this time if I wanted to be the one on the ledge. God doesn't call out, seeking for courageous volunteers. He chooses you. He sets you up on that ledge and inquires, “Do you trust Me?” His loving, fatherly hands held beneath us all the time as we stand there, knees shaking, doubting the goodness of the very maker and sustainer of our existence. Once He asks, the rest of our lives are spent answering that simple question.

Total Trust.
Sometimes that round piece of wood changes its tactic and is not convicting, but rather encouraging. It's as if those two small words are whispering to my soul. Yes, total trust. Peace envelopes like a warm ray of sunshine, and for a moment a flooding of joy overtakes the heartache. The anxiety attacks stop and falling-off-the-ledge-trust becomes easier. Eternity feels closer. The promises are clearer. Desperate pleas turn once more into prayers, sorrow shifts to rejoicing, and a smile even forms from the inside. Eyes turned again to Jesus, towards a Savior who has this all in His hands and under His sovereign control.

Total Trust.

Monday, April 8, 2013

To Know Christ in His Sufferings

Spring is in the air. The month of April has brought with it rain showers and even several bursts of snow, but we refuse to let go of the hope of green grass and sunshine. Grace has been so happy to finally be able to get out and ride Sassy again. Jumping is her sport of choice for this year. Not so sure it's mom's sport of choice, but the smile that never leaves her face while she's riding is worth the fear of her falling off.

Sassy continues to give her a run for her money, definitely living up to her equine name, but it's a good challenge. Two stubborn, feisty girls battling it out for who's going to be in charge. At the end of the ride they're both happy, one with grain the other sore muscles. Born fighters wouldn't be happy without a fight.

Grace got her hair cut. She hasn't had it this short since she was three years old and took a scissor to it herself. She's been begging for the transformation, and was thrilled to donate the cut portion to Locks of Love, happy knowing that somebody else would benefit from her beautiful gift. She's turned into a different girl in so many ways.

Horses are one of the harder parts of grief. There is only so much emotion and strength to go around, and some things are just too hard to revisit for the extra energy it takes to live them without your loved one. Too many memories to relive, and too hard to make new ones with the same horses minus one kid. Grace informed me that I haven't rode with her for over a year. So much is lost in grief, more than just your child who is gone, the ones here suffer for it as well.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings. Philippians 3:10a

The words finally made some sense when I read again them last night. I always wondered, who would want to suffer to know Jesus? It is such of a backward way of thinking in our society of ease and pleasure. But the verse has haunted my thoughts for years, moreso of course since Trent's accident. To want to know Christ in His sufferings.

Then it struck me as I read it for the hundredth time: Without suffering we wouldn't know Jesus to the same degree as without it.

Poor Rob happened to walk in during the middle of my revelation. I sputtered at him, "You know how it was when we met Amos and Sue, and we didn't have to explain to them what it was like to lose a child to death on a ski slope? Do you remember that instant connection, regardless that we lived worlds apart? Remember the knowing, on both sides, without explaining to them what that suffering felt like?"

Yep. He knew.

That's what Paul means: to know Jesus in his suffering is like knowing Amos and Sue, or the many others parents we know who have lost a child. You don't have to explain what it feels like to receive that dreaded call, or to walk into an emergency room and see your child's dead body lying there, or how to choose what color of casket you want for the funeral. They know. They just know.

You don't have to explain tears for over two years straight. Or why you haven't answered the phone in two days. Or why riding horse might be hard. They just know.

To know Christ in His suffering is to know Christ. You can almost feel the whip He felt, and feel the shame He endured for trusting God. You know the tears He cried, and the hope He had. On some level, you set your face as flint towards eternity and the waiting glory just as He did. You begin to live as He lived, not for this world but the next, not for joy found here, but for the treasure found there.

And when you realize that it is all filtered through a Sovereign Father's hand you can even rejoice in it. The participation becomes an honor, just like it is an honor to wrap your arms around a newly grieving mother and try to point her to Christ. To repeat the promises to both her and yourself, willing you both to hold on and not lose hope. Looking forward to what's ahead, not looking behind, but trudging through the deep waters that God wants you to walk.

To know somebody in the trenches of suffering is to truly know them. There is no room for fake, no reason to talk about the weather, no Sunday smiles. There is only full exposure of the heart in sorrow. God is the searcher of hearts. He reveals through suffering, both our hearts and Himself. What a joy, then, to be sought out. What a joy to experience His grace. He disciplines those He loves. He wakes those up whom He loves.

Therefor, it is easier to say it again:

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings. Philippians 3:10a

Why? Because I know there is much more beyond the pain of today.

Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Philippians 3:20-21

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

That the Legacy May Continue

One of Trent's many joys in his young life was fishing. Often times I would find myself wondering, after observing this obvious gift from God (if fishing can really be called a gift), how it was going to be used for God's glory or for advancing the coming Kingdom of Christ. Shortly after Trent's death God revealed a bit of the answer.
Although it took nearly a year to come into fruition, once the shock of the accident started to wear off we shifted into high gear and printed a gospel sharing booklet written in fisherman language. Shortly after it arrived, we contacted our local newspapers and announced a fishing scholarship in honor of Trent. Gift cards to be used towards a fishing license, plus the books, were handed out to anyone buying a license at our local Holiday station bait store who wanted a scholarship until supplies ran out. 
With Spring right around the corner, we are planning our second year of scholarships. Our hope and prayer is that God would be glorified through the suffering in our life that has resulted in the gospel message going forth so that many would have an opportunity to hear about this offer of salvation.
Trent loved fishing, but ultimately he came to find a greater joy in his Savior Jesus Christ, which has proved to be invaluable when he died at the young age of twelve. 

Can we be a blessing to your Christian fishing program?
If so, please contact us at MoreGlory@grantsburgtelcom.net to discuss the details.