Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Hurt and the Healer

I feel like such a fraud. I get up and do the things that need doing.  Well...to an extent. I go to the places that need going to. I try to invest in the lives of others. I put on a smile and try to pretend that I'm not living in the shadow of death. The Shadowlands. And all the while, my heart is broken, my spirit is crushed, my drive is gone.
I am different. I have long been a pilgrim on this earth, but now I am a stranger. I am not likely to care about things in the same way others do. When I see people putting forth effort, it means a great deal to me. Grace comes easier for me now. I find myself more likely to walk away from an argument than participate in it. I have a hard time "connecting." Conversation is more difficult for me than it has ever been. I crave and cherish quiet, or at least white noise. Meaningful is hard for me to get to. I am never rested. I wake up exhausted. The brief moments of joy do not pull me from the Shadowlands.

"So I wait.
I wait for my heart to heal enough so that I can focus on something other than healing.
I wait for passion to return to my soul.
I wait for a day-just one day-when joyful moments outweigh sorrowful ones.
I wait for the promised beauty from ashes.
I wait for faith to be made sight.
And while I wait, I turn my heart and mind and strength toward the One Who is Faithful and True."
(quotation borrowed from my friend, Melanie, at thelifeididntchoose.com)
Lyrics:
Why?
The question that is never far away
But healing doesn't come from the explained
Jesus, please don't let this go in vain
You're all I have, all that remains

So here I am, what's left of me
When glory meets my suffering

(Chorus)
I'm alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I fall into your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

Breathe
Sometimes I feel it's all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord, take hold and pull me through

So here I am, what's left of me
When glory meets my suffering

Chorus

It's the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood

When mercy takes its rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of weakness we must bow
And hear you say "It's over now"

Chorus

Jesus, come and break my fear
Wake my heart and take my tears
Find your glory even here
When the hurt and the healer collide
(X3)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

When You Come Back

I feel like there's not much I know anymore.  Everything is so uncertain.  I want to once again believe that everything will work out and be alright eventually, but it's hard to get there.  I despise living in fear.  But it's so hard not to.  Impossible actually.  I can only control my reaction to it.  Sometimes, it's just too much to let go.  I want my children to be free and fearless, but I also want them to be safe and secure.  The other day, Michael told me that he thought maybe they could ride their bikes to the pond and back, but then he realized that I would never go for that.  Do I over protect to a detriment?  I can't bear the thought of an accident.  I need help to trust.

Lyrics:
I don't know how to follow you
Without losing my way
Jesus, come and take me by the hand
I don't know how to trust that you
Will do the things you say
Spirit, teach me how to understand
That your love can heal
The wreckage of my soul
The beauty of your light shining in me
I don't know when you'll take me home
To paradise with you
The day when I will finally be free
Oh, the day when you come back for me

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Laughter is Good Medicine

Another mother on a bereaved parents site I am a member of posted this.  It gave me a great laugh.  In fact, Sarah and I watched it several times and laughed so hard we had tears.  Maybe it was just the moment or the day or the need, but I thought I'd share it.  This is a classic response to the question of, "How are you doing?"
video

Monday, April 18, 2016

6 Months

It has not gotten easier. The tears still come everyday. My arms still ache to hold him. It is still just as unbelievable that life just continues on, unfazed by such a great loss.

I have been surprised by my grief. So much about it truly caught me off guard. I always thought of myself as a "strong" Christian and I believed I would come to terms with my grief quickly. Boy, was I wrong. I am the weakest of the weak. It is nothing but the pure grace of God and prayers of the saints that keeps me from turning back, losing my way, or giving up entirely. I've found that I have no strength, no skill to fight this looming dragon. But the One who fights for me is faithful. Though I am weak, He is strong.

I miss William with everything in me. Time has not eased the pain of loss. But maybe I am growing stronger to bear it. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Holding On

Some days I feel like I might just make it after all. Like this new life won't absolutely crush me. Other days I think I'm just kidding myself. But He is faithful and He is carrying me. I do not know how but I truly hope that one day I will again find it easy to rejoice, easy to see goodness, easy to be thankful. Those things only happen now out of rote habit.

I received this simple, sweet message today:
"Cling tight. He loves you. He makes all things new."

I know that is true.  I don't feel it, but I know it.

We saw a family counselor today.  We really wanted to do something that would help our family through the suffering, but even I had to admit it was a complete bust.  Granted, she had a pretty tough crowd to begin with, but the moment she said, "William would not want you to be sad," she lost the ear of at least 7 people.  There is more than one person in my home who hears that like fingernails on a chalkboard.

I know it's hard.  I know people want to help.  But the moment that phrase is used, the walls go up.  Especially from someone who has never even met William.

The thing is, William did love life.  He was joyful.  He loved to have fun.  Almost always.  But he was also one of the most compassionate people I've ever known.  If someone was hurting, he hurt for them.  If someone was crying, he stopped whatever he was doing to check on them.  He might even cry with them.  He was so tender and he never tried to rush anyone through their grieving.  He just grieved with them.  I think William would be the last person to say, "I do not want you to be sad."  I could more easily picture him saying, "Take as long as you need.  I'm here for you."

Thursday, April 14, 2016

No More Night

I have been complacent in my life.  I got used to happiness, goodness, and living.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it can become so.  I did not long for eternity the way I did when I first surrendered my life to Christ.  It is the night, the darkness, the pain of this world that makes us truly appreciate what eternity has to offer.  I do not know exactly what that will be, but I know what the Bible promises...no more pain.  No sickness, no death, no separation.  THAT my heart longs for.



Lyrics:
The timeless theme, Earth and Heaven will pass away
Its not a dream, God will make all things new that day
Gone is the curse from which I stumbled and fell
Evil is banished to eternal hell
No more night, no more pain
No more tears, never crying again
And praises to the great, "I AM"
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb
See all around, now the nations bow down to sing
The only sound is the praises to Christ, our King
Slowly the names from the book are read
I know the King, so theres no need to dread
No more night, no more pain
No more tears, never crying again
And praises to the great, "I AM"
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb
See over there, theres a mansion
Oh, thats prepared just for me
Where I will live with my Savior eternally
No more night, no more pain
No more tears, never crying again
And praises to the great, "I AM"
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb
All praises to the great, "I AM"
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Be Mighty Shirts

The shirts are in! We'll be sending them out next week, but if you're around before then, go ahead and grab yours. Can't wait to see everyone being mighty! My favorite one so far has been at the trampoline park! ;)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

William's Birthday

I have thought over the past few days about what to say regarding William's birthday.  It is difficult to find the words.  It was emotional, joyful, sweet, and heart-wrenching, all at the same time.  We were so very blessed by all the pictures, gifts, words of encouragement, and prayers.  Give Kids the World sent our family a special gift, Ice Cream for Breakfast t-shirts, just like William's.  They also posted a sweet birthday message...

https://www.facebook.com/gktwvillage/photos/a.63793412990.70269.35697977990/10153678032882991/?type=3&theater

We were so overwhelmed by everyone's thoughtfulness.  It makes me think about all of the areas I fall short in.  I pray that God will open my eyes to others.  That He will give me a heart that reaches out to their hurts and needs.  So many people did things that I would not have ever thought of, but they reached out to us and reminded us not only that they love us, but that they are still mourning the great void that is left, as well.  One friend said that she had a hard time celebrating, but her daughter reminded her that William was joyful and it is what he would have wanted.  So true.

I cannot believe my little boy is gone.  Everyday I am reminded that he is no longer here.   I am still trying to find the place where it is not a daily fight to give in.  There are glimpses of joy, but they are so overshadowed by darkness, sadness, apathy, and guilt.

Yesterday I pulled up my bootstraps and switched out the boys' winter clothes to summer.  I was not prepared for it to knock the wind out of me.  It was an all day event as I trudged through, moving like I was stuck in tar.  It was so hard to pull his clothes out of storage...clothes he will never wear again.  Oddly enough, the hardest sizes were Knox's.  I don't know why his brought more memories than the rest.  Every shirt I pulled out had some memory attached to it.  Difficult day.

William's school books are gathering dust on the shelf.  I haven't even touched them.  I look at them sometimes and wonder if I should move them or store them or get rid of them.  I just don't know.  Somehow I just can't bear to do anything with them yet.  I did finally move his toothbrush off the counter, though.  It's now up on the shelf with mine.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Lord's Army

I was given a dream.  Beautiful and glorious and too magnificent to describe properly.

William always loved this song.  He loved to "watch" the Cedarmont Kids sing it.  He loved to act it out with his brothers and sisters.  He loved the idea of being a soldier and being strong.  He would often say that he was going to be strong when he grew up.  He wanted to be a police officer, like Officer Persaud, or a soldier.  He would talk about what it means to be in God's army and what would happen when Jesus comes back.

In my dream, there he was.  I'm not going to call it Biblical or accurate or a vision, but it was so sweet.  It was what it was...a beautiful dream.

William was, in fact, in God's army.  Not only a soldier, but a leader.  Strong and stately and absolutely...breathtaking.  He was riding a white horse and everything was kind of hazed over, like a fog or softness was over everything.  He was in a long, flowing white robe and looked regal.  He never spoke but he smiled at me.  His eyes were so tender, yet they gleamed of strength and wisdom. He rode toward me with a "knowing" in his face that was incredible.  I could hear this song playing quietly in the background, although it sounded much more majestic and the words were slightly different. There were no "I may never" words but instead it was "By His power" with more of a "I have conquered" tone. As he got closer to me, I felt such joy and peace like I have never known.  He reached out his hand to me...I'm not sure why, but I felt it was to help me, maybe to lift me onto his horse.  Right before our hands touched, I woke up.

I miss that beautiful boy.  I imagine he is now fully mature and ever so joyful in his new work for the Lord.

And now, I'm off to celebrate the day that God gave him to us...for just a little while.  Thank you, Lord, for the precious gift, that sweet soul that you loaned to us 9 years ago, now your soldier.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Shirts

If you ordered a Be Mighty shirt, I apologize, but they haven't come in yet. The gentleman doing them is doing it as a blessing to us because he loved William so and he's had some things come up. He'll have them Monday. He felt bad that they won't be ready for William's birthday tomorrow. So sorry! If you're having ice cream for breakfast, you'll have to wear something else, but you can always take pictures in your shirts later. We'll still be super excited to see them!

Broken Hallelujah

The guilt is getting to me.  It's overwhelming.  I can't get away from it.  My head and my heart are at complete odds.  My head tells me to rest...I have long believed in and trusted in God's sovereignty.  His purpose.  His plan.  The fact that He numbers our days and there is nothing we can do to add to or take away from that number.  I know His plan will not be thwarted.  He never looks for a Plan B.

My heart is a whole different story.  It brings up all the "what if"s until I just want to scream.  What if it was his doctor working on him and not paramedics?  What if I had not listened when he said he didn't need to go to the hospital that Saturday night?  What if he had been in the hospital when he stopped breathing, when his heart stopped beating?  Would it be different?  I don't know...But my heart screams at me that it would be different.  That he would still be here and I would be holding my little boy instead of grieving him.

I have difficulty breathing.  My heart feels as though it's being squeezed.  I never would have guessed the extreme physical pain that comes with grieving the passing of a child.    I've seen this meme on Facebook that makes me sigh with an understanding, "Yes."

It is not my intent to minimize anyone's loss or the grief that comes with it.  Every heart knows it's own sorrow.

This week has been excrutiating.  William's birthday is tomorrow.  He's been gone nearly 6 months and I hate it.  It bothers me that my youngest children already have a hard time remembering him.  Will I forget, too?  How long will it take?  A year?  Ten years?  Twenty?  The thought breaks my heart and it suffocates me.  I can't stand it.  I long to hear his sweet little voice.

Some of you have asked what you can do for us on William's birthday.  For those who knew William, the best gift we could receive is for you to jot down a memory of him and send it our way.  We would treasure that.  And I hope you're having ice cream for breakfast...


Lyrics:
I can barely stand right now
Everything is crashing down
And I wonder where You are
I try to find the words to pray
I don't always know what to say
But You're the one who can hear my heart

Even though I don't know what your plan is
I know You're making beauty from these ashes

I've seen joy and I've seen pain
On my knees, I call Your name
Here's my broken hallelujah
With nothing left to hold onto
I raise these empty hands to You
Here's my broken hallelujah

You know the things that have brought me here
You know the story of every tear
‘Cause You've been here from the very start

When all is taken away
Don't let my heart be changed
Let me always sing hallelujah
When I feel afraid
Don't let my hope be erased
Let me always sing hallelujah

Hallelujah
I will always sing
Here's my broken hallelujah


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

He Loves Me

"Loss can consume us, becoming the central focus of our lives, chipping away at our hearts until we feel as if our own death would be a welcome relief.  The enemy of our souls would love to convince us that physical death is a viable alternative to life riddled with loss.  When our hearts are dying, we are often tempted to let everything else die as well...
Part of the journey of recovering from loss is finding meaning and purpose.  When that meaning and purpose is yoked together with the will of God, the journey becomes about more than making us feel good about life again.  It transfers knowledge and growth into a vision for the kingdom.
What dreams lie buried beneath the surface of your heart?  What steps could you take to begin the journey toward reinvestment?" ~ Rita A. Schulte, Shattered

This morning I got up and looked at my "I WILL..." chart.  For this day it said, "Lord, with Your help and by Your power, today I will be cheerful and enthusiastic."  Hmmm.  I know that's needed.  It's difficult.  I find peace only in solitude.  Being cheerful is real work.  And while it's worthy work, it's not always work I can do.  Everyday I wake up and think, "Can I do it?"  Can I face the day, the responsibilities, the newness, the sameness?
I wrestle with so many questions, doubts, fears but at the end of the day, I know...I may never have answers...I may never feel whole...Things may even get worse.  And yet, the creator of the universe called me.  He knows me.  He carries me.  He holds me.  He loves me.  Eventually, He will help me dream again and in the end, it will all be alright.

Lyrics:
I was lost
I was in chains
The world had a hold of me

My heart was a stone
I was covered in shame
When He came for me

I couldn't run, couldn't run from His presence
I couldn't run, couldn't run from His arms

Jesus, He loves me, He loves me, He is for me
Jesus, how can it be, He loves me, He is for me

And it was a fire
Deep in my soul
I'll never be the same

I stepped out of the dark
And into the light
When He called my name

I couldn't run, couldn't run from His presence
I couldn't run, couldn't run from His arms

He holds the stars and He holds my heart
With healing hands that bear the scars
The rugged cross where He died for me
My only hope, my everything

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Happy Birthday, Sherrod!

We celebrated Sherrod's 15th birthday this week.  It is good to have a little light-heartedness...

You can always count on Sydnee for a few laughs...

The evil eye...
Oh, come on, give me a kiss...
Yeah, right!

What? No goofing?

 This was my favorite!  Sarah got Sherrod the new Chuck Black book, which was only released a couple of weeks before Sherrod's birthday.  They had all been watching for it and Sherrod started asking for it as soon as it was released.  We had actually preordered it to be sure that we got it as soon as possible, but she didn't know that.  She was super excited!
Oh, my! Light of the Last!!!!
Oooh...I get to be the first to read it!
Actually, let me be the bearer of bad news...
Sydnee is on chapter 9!
Are you kidding me?! That sneaker!
Well, at least I get to read it!
It was nice to have a few laughs.  I worry about my children.  The older 6 girls are really struggling to find a new normal.  In fact, I look at them and see simply a reflection of my own grief and heartache.  This week seems to be especially hard, as we lead up to William's birthday.  Tears flow for seemingly no reason, frustrations flare at little to nothing, grace seems so hard to find, defeat is looming.  Suddenly, this house where we've had so much happiness, joy, love, and laughter seems too small, too confining, too deafening.  As much as I struggle within myself to find peace, I'm scared for them.  I've been walking with God longer than they've been alive and I feel like I am on shaky ground, barely holding on.  I know He will see me through, I know He carries me, but I don't feel it as often as I would like.  I know they have their own struggles.  And I can't help them.  I can only pray for His grace and mercy to hold them...