Tag Archives: grief

5 Things

5 Things

1) This photo. Summer colors and sunshine. Amen.

2) Moving has as much to do with the heart as it is a physical act. I’m still learning.

3) My blogging schedule is clearly a mess these days (refer to #2). I intend to get back to Tuesday / Friday posts soon. But giving myself a little grace through the end of the summer to get back into a good rhythm.

4) The anniversary of my little brother’s death is coming up on Monday, July 29th. It’s been 11 years. That sounds like such an anti-climactic number, but I always seem to find myself a little more contemplative in the weeks surrounding this date. I never really know how I’m going to react on the anniversary day itself. I just can’t always anticipate how grief will look, but I’m still learning to just ride the waves as they come.

5) I am a hot mess of runaway thoughts and emotions these days. And the more I try to control it, the more out of control I feel. I hate it and I love it. Hate it because it’s wildly uncomfortable. But love it because it forces me to Jesus in a whole new way. And that’s really precious.

As a words person, it pains me to not be able to exactly describe what I mean. But I just can’t. I’m not sure I even fully understand. I just know it’s like I’m walking in this deep and intentional relationship, and when I miss spending time with Him, I feel like I can’t breathe quite right. Because He’s my constant and my rest and my relief and my all. He physically calms me. Though I’m still trying to figure out how to hold onto that calm for a little longer throughout each day. And I’m still learning how to react to situations in a manner that reflects His presence well.

But I’m more desperate for Him and more dependent on Him. I feel like I’m getting life all wrong, but He’s so near. So I’m literally attempting to walk right on His heels just to stay near Him and to know where to go next. Though from that place right on His heels, all I can really see is Him. And while that means I don’t know much at all about where we’re headed, I trust it’s good.

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*07/31/13 update: I didn’t plan on using this post to link up with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky for her “what we learned in July” linky, but I realized that I repeated the phrase “I’m still learning…” several times, so I’m thinking it counts! Thanks for stopping by!*

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Tragedy & the Hope of the Gospel

This is a conversation that I would much rather have with each one of you over coffee. While listening to your story and sharing some of mine. And interjecting a healthy dose of encouragement throughout what would no doubt be a rich discussion. But although it doesn’t seem complete enough in this limited format, although there’s so much more I could say, the message is far too important to not share at all. And maybe for today, simple is best.

tragedy & the hope of the gospel

Tragedy is hard. The fallenness and sinfulness of humanity is painful.

In the wake of recent events such as the shooting in Newtown, CT, the unrest in North Korea, the bombing at the Boston Marathon, and the earthquake in Pakistan (just to name a few…), it becomes obvious that we are not guaranteed tomorrow.

But on days like today, I want to say in no uncertain terms that in Jesus Christ there is a foundation that is solid and a hope that is secure.

He is an immovable, unshakable anchor. He is the only guarantee in this uncertain world full of hurt and pain and heartache.

He alone fills the emptiness for more and satisfies the longing for different.

His victory is secure.

He’s hope. He’s peace. He’s salvation.

Eternally.

Do you know Him?

Do you trust Him?

Do you follow Him?

If you do, then would you acknowledge His presence and lean into Him even closer today? Would you pour out your heart before Him and unashamedly trust in His faithfulness, in His goodness, in His sovereignty? And would you pray for those affected by the horrors and tragedies of this world?

But if you don’t, would you pause for a moment and consider that you’re not guaranteed tomorrow? Would you consider that there is a greater purpose and a greater peace for this life? Would consider your urgent need for Jesus Christ and that through His sacrifice there is forgiveness for sins and the promise of a perfect eternity with Him? Would you consider that He’s extending an invitation for you to draw near to Him and all you have to do is call on His name?

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
– Jesus Christ (John 16:33, ESV)

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If I can answer any questions, suggest resources, or simply listen to your story, it would my privilege to do so. You can contact me via email at theinnerharbor(at)gmail.com.

His Presence, His Arms, His Love

Some things really rock your world. Losing my little brother as a teenager was one of those things.

I always knew he had a heart problem. And I knew open heart surgery was a big deal. But I was young and never fully understood (or cared enough to recognize) the seriousness of his condition, so his death seemingly came out of nowhere.

Life as I knew it was interrupted and in many ways ceased to exist altogether. Normal was no longer a word with any meaning. Family was a term that needed redefining.

Everything needed redefining.

But eventually, I settled into a new rhythm. It took a long time to label it anything closely resembling normal, but the acuteness of the initial grief faded. Things that became different overnight eventually became less different. The deep ache that made it hard to move let up every once in a while, and then more often. And then quietly intertwining and invading without any fanfare, a new normal began to seep into the everyday.

It’s now been years since I’ve lived under the weight of just-get-through-one-moment-at-a-time fresh grief.

But some days…

His presence, His arms, His love

I didn’t expect simple things of no consequence to trigger such deep emotions. Grief can be so unexpected and beyond all rational explanation.

Ten years later, it can still break in with a vengeance and then fade just as soon as it swells.

Often completely unprepared for it, all I know to do is ride the wave of overwhelming emotions so deeply felt that I’m sometimes left knocked down and gasping for air. So I ride. I let it happen. I sit with the grief and allow myself to just be in that moment. To let the wave hit and break and crash and drift away. To experience the torrents of emotions as they come and then ease.

Yet even though it’s uncomfortable, even though it’s painful, there are few moments such as these where I sense a more immediate need and know a more intense desire to just sit with my Heavenly Father … in His presence, in His arms, in His love … allowing Him to speak truth over me and listening with a ready ear as my mind goes back there. To that night, to that hospital, to that hallway, to that room.

But at the end of the hallway, there’s the embrace I’ll never forget. The arms of strength that still give me permission to fearlessly collapse and release. The words that still echo in my heart. Not of empty promises or meaningless platitudes, but quiet whispers of love and grace and a sure promise of His presence.

Arms that weren’t letting go. Love that wasn’t going anywhere.

And in the arms of this Abba Father who so intricately orchestrates every detail of this life for His glory, who loves this child unconditionally, who sees the worthiness and righteousness of His perfect and blameless Son when He looks at this face, there is peace. there is calm. there is freedom.

Because even in the midst of the tears and ever confusing grief that ebbs and flows, His presence is strong, His arms are solid, His love is fierce, His embrace is secure.

Because in these moments He’s as close to tangible as I sometimes suspect He’ll ever be in this life.

Because I know this ever present Holy One knows, sees, and understands the deepest parts of my grief.

As I sit with Him, as He draws me near, as He holds me close, He grieves with me. We cry together. He is faithful to His promise. He is the God of all comfort and He is close to the brokenhearted.

And though it doesn’t make it easy, though the grief still runs deep and the loss will not simply be written off, there is hope in the midst. This world is not the end, this life is not all there is, and this earth is not my home. Because in the arms of this Father, through the sacrifice of His Son, there is the assurance of eternity in His presence without the earthly pain and grief. An eternal reality that far surpasses this momentary one.

I still find rest in His sovereignty and His goodness.

Grief doesn’t change that.

Yes, grief is hard and makes my humanity painfully obvious. But the Father’s promise to be close, to bear the load with me and for me is unchanging.

And in the sitting with Him through it, as He draws me near and holds me close, in the wake and the aftermath of the moments of poignant grief, the release and collapse into His presence, His arms, His love is strangely sweet.

“…and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:3-4 (ESV)

There Are Just No Words

There are just no words

There are just no words.

I’ve written so many of them this weekend as my human and fallen mind has done its best to attempt to process such an unspeakable horror and tragedy. Yet through all the brokenness and the heartbreak and the tears shed, the words all come up short, hollow, empty.

This reality, this evil … it’s too overwhelming for words.

All that’s left is sitting with the suffering, sharing in the sorrow. Not in their physical midst, but with a prayerful heart that aches alongside.

There’s just nothing else to do.

Even precious promises on the pages of Scripture don’t seem to be enough.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5

Oh, I have certainly turned towards them often over these past few days for reminders of absolute truth, for reminders of the Everlasting Father’s faithfulness, for reminders that this world is not the end, but still, all that’s left is sitting at the feet of Jesus, in His presence, knowing He hurts with us, knowing He hurt first.

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…” Isaiah 53:4

And at His feet, there is mostly silent prayer, trusting that the Holy Spirit knows the words, because even these words brought before Him – a cry for His mercy, a plea for His peace and comfort on the community of Newtown, CT, a desperation for Him to come quickly – are inadequate. Even these cries are insufficient.

But I know that the inadequate and the insufficient can be laid on the all-sufficient One.

Lord, be our Emmanuel, God with us, with them, this night, this weekend, this life. Be the God of all Comfort, the Prince of Peace, the Light in this darkness, the Savior of the world. Heal us, restore us, draw us near. Wash over Newtown, CT with your overwhelming presence in their overwhelming grief.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

We stand in such desperate need of a Savior, of untold mercy. And this sin, this wrong, this evil can be overcome by none other than the Messiah Himself.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

When the weight of sin and the depravity of man are just too great, He is greater still.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of this Savior, this Messiah, in the midst of our “How long, O Lord?” and “Come, Lord Jesus” pleas, we cling to Him with greater resolve, we hold fast to Him in greater desperation.

And we sit with the suffering, we share in the sorrow.

There are just no words, no answers, but one:

His name is Jesus.

“Freedom’s calling, chains are falling. Hope is dawning bright and true. Day is breaking, night is quaking. God is making all things new. Jesus Saves.”

– Jesus Saves (Travis Cottrell)

Dear Russell…

In memory of Russell Wade | March 31, 1988 – July 29, 2002

Dear Russell (I’m sorry, I still just can’t call you Russ…),

It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years.

Over 10 years since we’ve had to put up with (ok, and be amused by) your mischievous ways.

Well over 10 years since you made me so mad that I kicked a hole in the wall. And I don’t care what Mom and Dad say, that was absolutely all your fault!

A little over 10 years since I bribed you into riding along to Dairy Queen on a random summer weekday with me and you got that crazy blue ice cream slush … but in all fairness, I did say you could have anything you wanted (my treat) as long as I didn’t have to go by myself. And we just won’t mention how I asked you to steer the car while I ate my ice cream … I mean, sure it was a manual, but I would have shifted if the need arose.

Just over 10 years since you told me that yes, I did look a little silly doing dizzy bat for my team at the Mega Relay on the M-Fuge rec field.

And 10 years since you’ve been here with us and we’ve heard that infectious laugh.

Sometimes it feels like so much longer and other times it feels like just yesterday, but although it’s been 10 years…

We still think about you often.

We still know someone is missing at holiday and family events.

We still bring up memories of you … sometimes in the wake of those memories, we cry. Other times, we can’t help but laugh.

We still think of our family as one with 3 siblings.

We still feel a little jealous that you got to see Jesus face-to-face first.

We still miss you.

We still love you.

Your Sister Always,

Emily

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Psalm 73:26 (ESV)

Help My Unbelief

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said,

“I believe; help my unbelief!”

– Mark 9:24 (ESV)

Last Saturday as I was cleaning out some old files, I came across a journal entry from the day after my younger brother’s unexpected death.

At the end, I wrote this prayer, the only complete sentence in the entire entry:

“Lord, help me to love you and trust you more.”

That’s it. Nothing spectacular. Nothing eloquent. But with all the words I could manage to express from the very depths of my grieving 16-year-old self.

In the midst of circumstances far different than 10 years ago, but requiring every bit as much faith and trust in His Sovereignty, how I long for that prayer to never be far from my heart, to mean more today than it did then, to draw me even closer to the Faithful One.

“I believe; help my unbelief!”

“Oh, my hope is in the Lord, forevermore…”