Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor... Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.
Mother Teresa

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sometimes I look at myself and think how strange and unlike myself I now am. Who is this woman? Will I ever be *ME* again? Yet, the Lord does not make mistakes. This change in me is who I am now. It has forced me to live transparently. I want to learn to live more compassionately and  love more fiercely. I am finding a better grasp on my boundaries and limitations. I see more clearly the important things in life.

 I never wanted my child to die. I never wanted to be sitting here staring at her picture, hard grieving the fact that I will never hold her again this side of Heaven. I never wanted to have to visit the grave of one of my children. I did not plan this. This was not supposed to be in my life, was it?

In our humanity, we plan out our lives in our heads. It looks just right with all the pieces in place. There is nothing missing or scattered. At least not for long. It is serene and beautiful.

...But, really, our plans are like a house of cards.

More than likely, we all  face a time in  life when what you see before you resembles something more like the aftermath of an explosion rather than the beautiful scene we had envisioned. One day, you may wake up and say, “Is this my life? How did I get here?”

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’”

I don't  think the Israelites looked around at their situation and thought, “What a great life! It is all so beautiful!” No, probably not...
 But, yet the Lord is adament that His plans are for their welfare. They are plans of hope. There is a future there. It just doesn’t look exactly as they thought it would look.

His Word tells me,... “The ways of the LORD are right.” (Hosea 14:9b) The loss of my child is somehow “right.” That is hard to say. There are times when I beg the Lord to give her back to me, just for a moment. I promise Him that I will hand her right back to Him. But, if I really think about it, would I truly want my little girl to leave the beauty of Heaven and the comforts of being in our Lord’s presence just so I can hold her during this vapor of a life I live? No, I would not. It would be all selfishness on my part and not at all in her best interest.

 The Lord had our whole family's welfare in mind when He took Quynh home. To ask Him to go against that perfect plan, would be going against His authority,and ultimately, the Future and Hope and Bigger Plan that He has in store for each of us.

“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you.” (Jer 29:12-14a)

I have never sought Him, longed for Him  and felt Him when the waters were still ... like I do in the torrent.

Losing Quynh  was not in my plans, but the Lord held every moment of her little life and her mama’s life in His hands. So yes, this is my life.The Lord knows all this about me. He is not oblivious to my fears. None of what we have gone through was an accident. None of what we are going through now is an accident. It is all within His almighty will and all part of the Refiner’s fire. 

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

 Every horribly-overwhelming grief-filled moment I endure in this life is serving a purpose, all within His perfect will for me, and it will lack in nothing! I am not going through this trial for no good reason. It is not some random thing that just happened. My faith has been tested…and if I lean into Him, it will  produce endurance…and will eventually have a perfect and complete result.

Our entire family is different. There is no denying that we are forever changed. But, I know in my heart that the Lord has something for us in all of this. It may not be revealed to us today or tomorrow or the next day, but “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in [us] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6)

And so, I accept these emotional days and the change in me as part of His plan. And in my human frailty, I cry out to Him. In my affliction,... He comforts me.

and I remember again...

This life  is but  a vapor of breath on a cold morning in light of eternity...We will see our beautiful baby again.

Hope is confident expectation in God to be faithful to fulfill each and every one of His promises.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Marvin often shares his definition of faith as... "If I was God, and knew all that He knows, I would do things exactly as He did." 

 That's a hard one when you lose your precious little girl. 

 But it is true. We would not be able to breathe without the full hope and assurance of a God who is all knowing, wiser than we can comprehend, understands all, who counts and kisses our tears dry. 

... And so we enter a new year with anticipation of His goodness. It doesn't mean we don't feel tremendous loss, sadness, fatigue, afraid and lonely, even sometimes abandoned. Those are real human emotions of our being... 

BUT WE KNOW. He is bigger than our emotions, He calls our name softly though our pain and reminds us over and over that He will be enough for those emotions. In our feeling them, He will show us more of Himself. He will restore our broken hearts, and though they will not fully mend until heaven, the cracks will remind us to care about another's heart cracks even more. 

 A New Year stretches out in front of us — and most of us have no idea what’s ahead. The possibilities are endless in the coming months — countless possibilities of great joy or immense sadness. Which way will it all go? We don’t know what might derail our lives … or what beautiful surprises might sweep us off our feet. Life is a marble cake — with joy and sadness all mixed in to the batter, to make the pattern of our days. But thanks be to God, He is the one who has designed each one.

Our Tyler encouraged a family hike. It was strenuous. We saw stark. We saw beauty in the midst. A waterfall appeared after a long dry creek. The hike to the top was steep and rocky and caused us to lean on one another. Tears came freely in the vastness of nature. His majesty was everywhere, even in the bleak. We could only be still and Praise Him...