Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Power of Music

God made our bodies to respond to music in a beautiful way.  Of course, we've distorted that gift and it isn't always used for beauty, but we were created to respond to music, nonetheless.

Our minds associate music with memories.  Music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function.  Music can make you feel joyful, relaxed, impassioned...in some cultures it's actually used to ease pain.

I find that listening to music can be both joyful and heartbreaking.  Some songs are like looking at William's precious face in pictures...sometimes I desperately need to, other times it's just too painful.

For those who don't know me, I never listen to the radio.  I think I am alone in this, as all the other adults in my home have something they tend to gravitate to, at least somewhat.  Not me.  So if I hear a new song or expand my musical awareness, it's because someone has given me a song.  Usually it's Sarah. 😍

She recently had me listen to 2 songs that had a powerful impact.  The first, Just Fall by Anthem Lights.  The lyrics got me...

"I would dive into canyons to save you
And climb up the highest skyscraper as pressure would drop
If it meant that all your pain would stop.
I can see that October's been heavy
And how much you wish that the floor would be steady below.
I know it hurts more than you show.
But when it feels like nobody cares
And you're drowning, nobody's there,
And you're grasping at nothing but air...
You can just fall into me."

That one got me.  Hard.  I mean, how many people have had their world fall out from under them in October?  More than I know, I guess, but it feels like it was written for me.

But I think this other one she showed me is my current favorite: The Other Side, Colton Dixon.  I imagine William in his new freedom.  Well, not so new, I guess.  How does it still feel like he just flew home yesterday?

He sure did love being a big brother.  And a little brother, for that matter.  But he just really loved babies.  Well, I guess he just really loved people, in general.


I can't wait to see him on the other side...

The Other Side

"Everybody's dressed in black, the preacher's saying life goes too fast
The memories have turned to tears, thinking back on all the years

I know that you're in a better place, but I'm still here missing you today

It isn't easy to say goodbye, but I know it's only for a little while
Run up ahead and I will catch up, 'cause I'm gonna see you when tomorrow comes
On the other side, on the other side

I bet you feel you're finally home, running down those streets of gold
The kind of peace you can't explain looking into Jesus' face

I know that you're in a better place, I know I'll be joining you someday

It isn't easy to say goodbye, but I know it's only for a little while
Run up ahead and I will catch up, 'cause I'm gonna see you when tomorrow comes
On the other side

Where there are no more goodbyes; no more pain, no more tears left to cry
We will join with the angels singing their song, praising our Savior, all the day long

It isn't easy to say goodbye, but I know it's only for a little while
Run up ahead and I will catch up, 'cause I'm gonna see you when tomorrow comes
On the other side, on the other side
On the other side, on the other side"

Thursday, February 15, 2018

How long, O Lord?

Oh, how I miss his face!  His laugh.  His arms wrapped around my neck.  That sweet, sweet boy... My heart just aches for him.

Michael and I have been attending GriefShare meetings.  It's been good for us.  Sometimes I wish I would have had that in the beginning stages of grief, but I know the timing is right.

This week we were discussing how long the grief will last.

Of course this broken heart will last forever.  Because I will love him forever.  But it's changing, too.

I recently had one of those days...where the grief is just relentless and the missing him is completely overwhelming.  But as I cried out to the Lord, I suddenly realized something.  It's been awhile since the waves of grief knocked me down.  It's been many, many days since I had that feeling like I just could not breathe, gasping for air, grasping for a lifeline.

"How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?  How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?...But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me."  Psalm 13:1-2, 5-6

I remember very little about William's funeral.  But I remember clearly talking to my sister afterward, standing just outside the barn.  She had walked this road 8 years ahead of me.  We were talking about how acute the pain was, so severe, and if it would ever get better.  I remember that she told me that it doesn't ever really go away, but it does get softer.  What a great way to describe it.

I do not remember when, exactly, that I started seeing "in color" again, but oh-so-surely it has happened.  I still see in that dismal gray, too, but at least the ability to see beauty has not left me altogether.

Someone sent me this video clip of John Piper, discussing grief.  It's been awhile.  It's taken me some time to process my feelings on it.  I decided to post it here because I had such conflicting feelings about it.  I thought it would be better to just get it out there.

First, I'm so grateful for friends who love me and want to help me.  Even more than that, I'm so, so grateful for friends who have continued in prayer for me.  So, here is the video...


Second, I should admit that Dr. Piper often rubs me the wrong way.  I'm not sure why, exactly.  He has many great sermons and I agree with him much of the time...but not always.  When I first watched this video, it frustrated me.  I could not put my finger on why.  I absolutely understand his point.  We cannot live in the darkness of the valley.  There is no oxygen down there.  It sucks the life right out of you.

So I agree with him that we have to trust God and that we do not grieve without hope.  What I disagree with is the implication that there's not hope IN the grieving.  Deep grief doesn't mean you don't know the promise of eternity.  But knowing that promise doesn't just dissolve the pain of the loss.

The other thing I disagree with him on is that you shouldn't let grief define you.  It absolutely does.  And I think it should.  There are many changes in me solely because of the work God has done in my life because of my grief.  I'm not going to let go of those things.  I don't even want to.

Grief has caused me to walk more closely with God.  It's caused me to rely on Him much more than before.  It has removed my illusion of control and replaced it with a greater reliance on Him.  It has caused me to long for eternity like I never have before.  It's given me a greater compassion for others.  It's caused me to love more deeply, more fully, more passionately.  It's actually taught me how to extend grace and mercy to others more.

Before we get into strange theology, let me just say...God didn't need William to die to show me anything.  I didn't need William to die to draw me closer to God.  All too often we look for the "good" in bad circumstances.  Death is not good.  There is nothing good or right about it.  Death is purely a result of the fall and God does not use death to "work" us.

Those are my thoughts on Piper's message.  Yes, we must eventually embrace the life God has given us.  But I think the grief must also define us in a positive way.  Isn't that really the mark of those who are His?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Capitol

I admit that I thrive on busy...but I am tired!

Thursday and Friday were our first days of our Horse Tales Literacy Project.  We visited THREE HUNDRED students with horses and books!

Friday evening we attended a wonderful marriage seminar and spent some time with good friends.

Saturday was volunteer training and we trained an almost entirely new set of volunteers for our spring semester.  Titus and Andrew also came down with high fevers on Saturday, which have kept Michael and I on the low-sleep end of the parental spectrum.

Almost everyone woke up Sunday with head colds which prevented our family attending church service together.

Another training on Monday...

Tuesday was Homeschool Day at the state capitol.  We were very glad to get to go, even though we had to leave several children at home who were not feeling well.  It was nice to visit with so many representatives who are favorable to homeschooling.

Sarah went early (of course) to volunteer.  I admit, I don't even know what she's doing most of the time! 😳

Our traditional child picture on the stairs (quite small this year!)...

The girls
 The boys
There was also another event going on at the same time, which the boys were excited to watch.  The Oklahoma Sheriff's Association announced the donation of NARCAN Nasal Spray, the drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose to all sheriffs and deputies across Oklahoma.  The floor below us was full of officers and it was a neat sight to see!
We left the capitol and Michael and I headed straight into another important evening meeting...

Wednesday we were back at the capitol for OVHC-PAC's 3rd annual Capitol Day and Educational Forum with Marcella Piper-Terry as the keynote speaker.  Marcella is the founder of VaxTruth.org, which helps inform parents of their legal right to exemptions and she publishes many articles on different aspects of vaccination and vaccine-injuries.  She was a wealth of information.  I was surprised to learn how much I DIDN'T already know about vaccines.  Her topic for Wednesday was over why we need religious exemptions and why it's impossible to be both pro-life and pro-vaccine.  I'm very glad I was able to go!


Some interesting slides...


Marcella Piper-Terry:
Fun at the photo booth:


Of course Sarah wanted to go early, again, to volunteer with Dan Fisher's campaign that morning.

We went in through the basement where the representatives enter.  I had never been through there before.

Michael and I went with her and learned of the Rose Ceremony, which we attended and listened to.  At first I thought it was a great idea.  Now, I'm not so impressed.  But I'll not get into the whole political thing here...everyone knows how to contact me. 😀  I did enjoy listening to the Oklahoma Baptist Children's Choir...

After all the events, we walked around and spoke with our legislators and legislators from other areas.  Sarah had several specific people that she wanted to visit and we ended the day with a visit with Senator Dahm, who has some really good things coming up!

There are some exciting bills on the table!  Stay after your legislators!  They need to hear from you!  There are 15 bills up for discussion that will hopefully make it out of committee that are in support of parental rights.  We need to see these through!  There are also 2 bills, both authored by Senator Yen, which are harmful and detrimental, not only to parental rights, but even more devastating, to children!  Know what's up...make your voice heard...let your legislators know who they are representing. 😊

Whew!  What a busy week!  I'm glad that classes are starting so I can rest again...




Thursday, February 1, 2018

Closure

I think it's interesting when people use the word "closure" in regard to grief and death.  Closure is defined as finality.  But life doesn't begin with birth and it certainly doesn't end at death.  Death is not final.  And I think there's nothing final about grief, either.

You can't rush to the end of grief and find "closure."  You have to live out the hard parts.  You have to let it change you and mold you into the new you that you are meant to be.  I find myself fighting this concept often.  I don't want a new me.  I want the old me.  The one who held William everyday.  And I can't quite let go of that.  I'm not sure I want to.  But I'm finding a sort of beauty in grief, as well.  A deep-rooted longing for the Lord, for eternity, that I admit was not near so prevalent before.

"Our worst things are often our best things...there is a blessing concealed in the righteous man's crosses, losses, and sorrows.  The trials of the saint are a divine husbandry, by which he grows and brings forth abundant fruit." ~ C.H. Spurgeon

I've also found that there is a terrible, awful wisdom that I carry because I grieve William.  While others can only ponder the "what ifs," I am fully aware of them.  I know that today may be the last day, the only day, the only chance I get.  Today's memories may be all I'm left with when I reach the place that I can't make any more.
I know I've made many mistakes over these past years and months of grief.  Honestly, I've been so desperate to hold on to all things that had anything to do with William, that I held on much too tightly in some cases.  It's time to let go, to let others go on with their lives, to not hang onto relationships solely because of William.  Don't get me wrong...I am still and will always be grateful for those who remember him and cherish him as I do.  I appreciate those friends who continue to grieve with me.  I have a deep love for those who are running to us to share in our sorrows (and our joys).  But I don't feel bound to it anymore.  I don't feel the need to pursue heavily those he loved.  I'll just rest in joy with those who love me.

I don't expect to find closure.  I don't even want it.  I want to feel my grief.  It's become an odd sort of friend to me, reminding me of my love for that precious son who has flown home.  And I know that though William has passed, he is not gone.  He has simply run ahead to the land of the living while I remain here in the land of the dying*.  Praise the Lord, through Christ's work, I will join him one day!



*I did not come up with this thought.  I saw the sentiment on a bereaved parents site.  I wish I had written it down to attribute it to someone, but it stuck with me.




Thursday, January 25, 2018

Family Day

I woke up at 4am this morning and sat down to work on the blog.  But then I decided I would try to get out of that habit and get to it later in the day.  Who am I kidding?  There's just no time during the day! :)  So here I am, late at night...trying to end the day.

We've been so busy lately and there's been a lot of stress.  We decided we needed a family day with nothing but fun!  So we headed to out to play...

First stop, Chuck E. Cheese!  We haven't been here as a family since Sarah and Abby were little!  Most of the children have never been.  But when Sarah and I went with one of our wish kids awhile back, I was pretty impressed with how it's changed.  And the children had a great time!
 Wallace wasn't too sure about going when he found out it was all video games.  He said, "But we need something to DOOOOO..."  He ended up liking it, though!





 Andrew had so much fun!  He probably drove with Chuck E. a dozen times! (Which means I have a dozen of those little pencil drawing pictures!)

This was a fun simulator of roller coasters.  Titus wasn't too sure what he thought of it!






Next stop, 11 Below Ice Cream Roll.  The girls had seen this on YouTube from street vendors in NY.  I have to admit, it was really neat!  And tasted AMAZING!!!









Last, we headed over to Ted's Cafe, one of our favorites (well, some of us anyway)!


It was a much-needed day of relaxation and fun.  It was nice to break away.

Next week: something a little more personal...