Thursday, July 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday -- 10 Reasons Why Bereaved Parents Are My Favorite People

I'm back in Throwback Thursday mode this week.  I just haven't had the time to sit down and formulate a fresh new post.  But that's okay, because after our While We're Waiting support group meeting last night, I was reminded again why Christian parents who have lost children are my favorite people to be around.  I just knew I had to re-post this list that I originally wrote back in March of 2013.  All ten of these statements were confirmed once again last night ...

1. They are some of the bravest people I know (although most would deny that they are brave at all). These are folks who have survived every parents' biggest nightmare, and are still breathing.

2. They don't waste time with small talk. Every conversation has depth and richness to it.

3. They've learned not to judge others, because they've come to realize that they've been wrong about a whole lot of things themselves.

4. They appreciate the little things in life ... because they've learned that the little things are really the big things.

5. They understand that they are not in control ... and they've learned how to trust the One who is, even when they don't like what He allows.

6. They've wrestled with the most difficult questions of life, and have come to accept that they will never have all the answers this side of Heaven.

7. They would give anything to still have their child with them ... but they love their child too much to really want them to leave Heaven.

8. They have learned how to accept clumsily-spoken words from well-meaning folks with grace.

9. They know how to smile in spite of their broken hearts ... and they bravely do it every day.

10. They live with eternity always before them. It's what gets them up in the mornings and lays them down at night. It is the promise of Heaven that keeps them breathing every day.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thoughtful Thursday -- Stealing My Stuff Again

Photo from the Huffington Post
Brad and I went to the Wednesday evening service at our church last night, and heard a wonderful message from our associate pastor based on
I Thessalonians 5:16-18.

That passage is actually a series of three commands.

Rejoice always.

Pray without ceasing.

Give thanks in all circumstances.

Three things that a person who is grieving can find very hard to do.  Yet these three things must be pretty important because verse 18 concludes by saying, "for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

As he shared his thoughts from this passage, he asked us, "If you came home one evening and there were robbers at your house, carrying your TV, your couch, and all your other belongings out the front door ... would you just stand there and watch?  Would you let them carry off everything you own without trying to stop them?"

I thought to myself, "Of course not!  That would be crazy!"

Here was his point ...

Of course we wouldn't stand idly by while thieves carried off all our possessions.

Yet we allow Satan free rein to do just that in our hearts.  Sometimes we even unlock the windows and doors and escort him in!  We show him around and allow him to take whatever he
wants ...

Our peace

Our joy

Our hope

Our security

Our confidence in our relationship with God

The list goes on and on.

So much of the battle in grief is spiritual in nature.  As the years have passed, I've found that the times I really find myself in a deep funk about Hannah's death, it's because I've allowed Satan to get a foothold in my head and in my heart, and he's stealing my stuff again.  Usually he's not brazen enough to carry it out the front
door ... He starts slipping it out the windows and through the attic and down into the basement and I don't even notice I'm letting him do it until I'm gasping for breath and wondering what happened.

It's at times like this that I have to remember what I know ...

God is good, and He is for me  (Nahum 1:7).

He knew the number of Hannah's days before she was born, and His plan for her was fulfilled in the number of days He gave her  (Psalm 139:15-16).

I have not been abandoned by God, nor will I be destroyed by my circumstances (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Weeping will not last forever ... there is joy coming  (Psalm 30:5b).

He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit  (Psalm 34:18).

The years I have spent separated from Hannah will be restored  (Joel 2:25).

God is in control, even when it feels like everything is spinning out of control  (Isaiah 46:9-10).

I have an eternal home in Heaven  (2 Corinthians 5:1).

God loves me with an everlasting love  (Jeremiah 31:3).

One young mom who came to our last While We're Waiting Weekend for Bereaved Parents said she had made a practice of recording in her journal the lies Satan was telling her ... and then refuting each of them in writing on the next page.  What a great idea!  No way was he gonna steal her stuff!

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."  John 10:10

If you have experienced the death of a child, please check out the While We're Waiting ministry.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thoughtful Thursday -- Shutting the Door Behind Us

We said we'd never do it again.  Move, that is.

When we moved into our home in a small community in west central Arkansas ten years ago, we really thought that could be our last move.

Our girls were doing well in eighth grade and fifth grade, my husband was the high school principal, and I was working part-time for the local school district and running the girls to and from church and school events.  We loved our home and our little community.  Life was idyllic.

Then, about three years into our time there, our 16-year-old daughter, Hannah, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.  She battled it bravely for a year, and went to Heaven in February of 2009.  Life at that point changed forever.

Our perspective on absolutely everything changed.  Moving up the career ladder?  Making more money so we could have bigger and better things?  Worrying about the small stuff in life?  None of that mattered anymore.

There's nothing like watching your child battle cancer with God-given grace and faithfulness to bring you to your knees and show you what's really important in life.

And what's important is following God in obedience ... wherever He might lead you.

For about a year now, He's been leading us to sell our home, leave our little community, and follow Him.  A couple of months ago, He brought us some buyers ... special folks who will love this house as much as we have, and raise their family there.  He's provided us with a cute little rental house in Hot Springs until He shows us what the next step will be.  So we sold some stuff, stored some more stuff, and loaded the rest of the stuff up in trailers and the backs of pick-up trucks, and we moved.

Brad and I went back one final time to make sure we hadn't forgotten anything and to say good-bye to this house where so many good memories (and a few bad ones) were made.

It's strange to be in a house that doesn't have a stick of furniture in it.  It feels so much larger than it did before, and every footstep echoes.

It just feels so ... empty.

Our girls are all grown up now.  Hannah is in Heaven and doing amazing things beyond anything I can imagine.  Bethany is married and she and her husband are loving life with their canine "baby", Lady.

Life moves on, and that's a good thing.  Not always easy, but good.

We leave things behind, but the memories come with us.

As we prepared to leave for the last time, Brad put his arm around me and reminded me that the next home where we'll all four be together will be in Heaven.

And with that, we shut the door behind us and stepped into our next adventure.

"In my Father's house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."  ~Jesus, John 14:2-3