Two Years

Two years ago the shrill ringing of the phone
broke the silence of a peaceful night.
Quiet words were spoken and heart-wrenching sobs
came welling up from deep within.

Two years.
What are two years in a lifespan?
A minor drop in the bucket.
What are two years grieving a death?
The feeling of a lifetime.

T 3-07

Tris, we miss you still, we always will.
So much remains the same,
so much about us has changed.

We still congregate at Mom’s
because we love to be together.
We still sit around the table and talk,
catching up on each other’s lives.
We still sit around the fire outside,
but now we watch the sky, the moon,
knowing you are somewhere out beyond.

T 5-14

We still speak your name,
in a good memory, a loud story
or something we know you would love.
We laugh more, cry less,
but miss you just the same.
The ache in our hearts is still there
because you are still missing.

T 4-12

The children are growing, changing,
getting taller without permission.
They miss the kickball games, roasting marshmallows,
playing in the shop, and long bumpy jeep rides with you.
Tyson has a little girl now.
I know how excited you would have been for him
and all the advice and comments you would have had.
Your two girls are growing up, tall and sweet,
becoming beautiful little ladies.
And your son, He is so much like you in so many ways.
I know you would have laughed
and loved to see him in action like we do.

T 7-14

In the middle of missing you,
we are so grateful and thankful.
It was our privilege to have you
as part of our lives, our family.
We are so thankful to be the ones
who knew you best, the real you.
We smile when we remember your laugh
and are thankful for all our conversations.
Our lives would be so much less
if we had not had almost 33 years with you,
and for all those years, we are grateful.

T 6-15

Time keeps moving along,
often with us dragging our feet.
Some days it feels like we never move,
others we look back to the beginning
and see the far distance we have come.
We would not be where we are today
if it were not for Jesus.
He gives us grace to face each day,
courage to rise on the next,
and strength to put another foot forward
to keep walking this journey.

T 11-12

Two years ago our hearts were broken,
never to be the same again.
As we knelt at the side of that upturned dirt
we whispered, “Good-bye for now,
we’ll be there soon!”

Tris, we miss you still, we always will.

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A Galaxy

Right now it seems that every way you turn there are hurting people. People suffering losses, heartache, dealing with fears, worry for the future and so much more.
My heart goes out to you but I also want you to know you are not alone. It may feel as if you are lost alone in the wilderness and no one understands, but fear not, God is watching out for you. He is prompting and sending his messengers to aid you, care for you and assure you of his love. There are times they will tell you they’ve prayed but other times you may never know who all whispered a prayer for you. Just rest assured, you are not alone in this.

 

A Galaxy

The night is so dark.
The moon, but a thin rim.
Only a few stars twinkle.
A cloud passes over.
I lie and look and wonder.
How far does it go?
What is hidden beyond the dark?
What is just out of my view?
I see but such a small space,
a few tiny stars
and one sliver of moon.
What does the realm around me hold?
What is spread across the sky?
What beauty might my eyes behold
if I could only see past the dark?

This road I walk
so dark and lonely.
I look all around
and see nothing but pain.
The darkness threatens to choke me,
sadness, loneliness, and grief
are my companions.
I see only the rough road,
the weariness of traveling it.
Tears fill my eyes
as the pain envelopes my soul.

Yet I wonder,
what is beyond my peripheral vision
along this lonely road?
What is outside the scope of my sight?
What are the scenes God orchestrates
behind the curtains of heaven?
Of people set in motion,
of things set in place,
circumstances long foretold,
just for me.

I wonder if only I could see,
what a sight I might behold.
Knees bent low in prayer,
care-filled thoughts ascending.
Angels descending to lend
strength for my journey,
a hand for the rough of the road.
Neighbors and friends
answering God’s prompting
and whispering prayer late at night.
The Spirit of Comfort descending,
wrapping arms of love around me.
Fellow travelers around
who have traversed this pain,
stop and walk along side,
offering encouraging words.
All just for me.

My view is so small,
so wrapped around me.
How many times do I forget
what is out past my sight,
what is hidden beyond the darkness?
Not just one star or two twinkling,
but a galaxy wild and bright.
And out past those millions,
is Jesus who stands
at the right hand of his Father
interceding for me.
He sends out his Spirit
to prompt and move,
all working on my behalf.
And far beyond my imagination
are plans already in place
by the Father
to carry me through.

I don’t travel this road alone.
I have a galaxy around me,
supporting me.
And so do you.

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Walking With the Grieving

Grief-walking is a very long and lonely road. It is so long, in fact, it really has no end because as long as one lives, they will grieve their losses. As long as one lives, a part of their heart will be missing, holes left by the ones gone before.
While it is long and lonely, without fail Jesus is with us, helping to bear this burden. Sometimes he is a quiet presence you feel inside, other times he is there in a tangible sense in the form of a friend or neighbor.
Being willing to be Jesus to a hurting heart means so much to the one grieving. They see you putting yourself aside and giving time and talents to walk beside them. During my grieving, I was blessed in so many ways through the people around me. I knew without a doubt that they loved me, cared for me and while some had never walked this road, they were willing to step into my pain and be there for me. That is true friendship!

One thing to always remember is everyone is different. God created everyone unique and He loves that about us. Because of this, we will also grieve in our own unique way, each one differently than anyone else. When someone is not grieving as you think they should, just be gentle, give them time, love and encouragement.

This post is a compilation of many, many people’s thoughts and feelings. I had a very good response to my questions. Because everyone is different, there are many different ways listed to help someone. Not everyone will agree with everything listed here, so when you want to do something for someone, take into consideration what they would appreciate. Another thing to note, this list is full of things to do for anyone in need, not just a grieving person. Let’s be Jesus to someone today!

Prayer
“I would like to thank every person who has let me know they are praying for me.”
This cannot be overdone, it just cannot. There is so much power in prayer!
I’m not sure where I would be today if it weren’t for praying people.

Send a card.
This is an excellent idea because mail is always appreciated. Along with the card, write a note, a verse, a poem or something of meaning. Words carry weight!
“During the first year, I had a friend who sent a little something in the mail every month about the time my mom died.”

“I love when people talk to me about my loved one.”
This one was mentioned often. To know that the one you are missing has not been forgotten is so important. Talk about them by name, tell them what you miss or what you remember, or ask a question about them.

Babysitting
It was hard to think with the noise of small children around all the time. To have a few hours of peace and quiet alone was worth so much.

“I had church responsibilities when my loved one died. I wish someone would have offered to take my place teaching Sunday School for the rest of my term.”

Remember the important dates. Birthday. Anniversary. Date of death.
Remember with a word, a card, a text, or anything. Just remember.

Send Flowers
Not just over the time of the death, but flowers are appreciated anytime, like important dates or for no reason but to show you care.

“My loved one lived in a different community and over the time of the hospital stay and then death, we spent a lot of time and money on travel. Days off work are costly, gas is expensive. I wish someone had thought of this and if they were able, would have given towards our expenses in this way. Children are often bored while driving. A care package for them would have been wonderful!”

“A friend came just to sit and listen. She didn’t have words of advice, she just sat and listened to me cry and talk. It meant so much.”
It’s okay if you don’t have words, you don‘t need words. We are all prone to want to think of something to say, to have a beautiful reply for every problem, but the gift of sitting and listening is comfort in itself.

“I have a dear friend who stopped in about every week to chat, have coffee, or lunch or whatever. I never had to worry about how the house looked or what she would think of me. It felt so good to inhale the fresh air she brought with her.”

“When someone lets me share my story over and over, it’s therapy. It hurts, but it’s also healing.”

“Do. Not. Judge. And don’t make assumptions either. If you don’t understand, that’s ok. Likely the grief-walker doesn’t understand themselves or the situation any more than you do. Just love and give grace.”

“I wish people had not judged me for the dumb moves I made when my mind was numb with grief. I wish they would have encouraged me instead.”

“I know I am different than I used to be, I know grief has changed me. I just want people to give me grace and time to find the new me.”

“Don’t compare. I wish people would understand that everyone grieves differently. Just because your sibling died doesn’t mean you know how I feel when my Mom died.”

“After losing our baby at 13 weeks someone told me “Well I guess you just need to think about people who have it worse than you do”. Sure I get that, but when you are in the midst of hard grief, that’s not what you need to hear.”

“My Sunday School teacher didn’t put me on the spot by asking me about my loss in front of the entire class because she knew it would be too much for me.”

“Even if I look like I have it all together and am handling it well, inside I still want to hear that someone cares!”

“As a widow, friends are precious that are willing to stand by and be there when times are tough and you don’t even understand yourself! -see James 1:27-
Have a listening ear and not try to fix.
Words of life and encouragement are worth a lot!
If they have children, especially boys, there are godly men needed to be mentors!
A helping hand and acts of service are huge! Outside work, washing off the vehicle has meant a lot to me!!
Be open to what the Holy Spirit leads you, HE so knows when the need for a phone call, visit or coffee shop time!”

“She put a stack of note cards on my table filled with encouraging Bible verses to read when it was hard to open my Bible.”

Be available.
Let them know that you are available, day or night, no matter what time, for a call or text. Just be there.

“I really appreciated the people that listened to me the first year after our loss. Their listening ears helped me process my grief and shock. I really appreciated the few people who weren’t afraid to help me bear this messy, unpredictable burden of grief. I know my actions and responses hurt them at times, but still, they were gracious.”

“I have never experienced grief to this extent – I’ve had friends who have been thru those hard things. I’ve been putting effort into learning how to be a better friend to someone who is experiencing this. Someone who has faced trauma and sudden death said to the rest of us “We assume that we know how we will grieve when faced with death and we expect everyone else to grieve that way. The truth is that no one knows how they will react or grieve.” This has been very helpful to me when walking alongside a friend. And also being ok with being, uhm, maybe I could say, hurt by the grieving friend. In other words, understanding that they are hurting so badly that sometimes they hurt others unintentionally. So being willing to lay that hurt aside for the sake of the friendship.”

Acts of Service
“So many people brought meals and showed their love and care with food!”

Everyone needs to eat and it is hard to think about cooking at such a time!
Another lady said, “Bringing meals WITHOUT asking. It can be hard to say yes to an offer, but when a meal just shows up or is left in the freezer at church for you, it is such a blessing.”
Or this one, “Someone brought freezer meals in tinfoil pans for me. On days when I couldn’t think to cook, I used them and never had to worry about returning the dishes.”
If you have children, this one is great. “Once a month a lady dropped off a big bowl of cookies for us.”

Do some cleaning for her.
Not everyone is okay with this so if the person you are wanting to bless is home, send a text and ask if it’s okay. There is no end to the cleaning if you have a family and I’m sure there will be something you can do.
*When my brother died I know some ladies came over and cleaned my house while we were gone for the funeral. I am embarrassed to ask who all saw it in its messy state, but I am grateful for their kindness.

Money
Funeral expenses are astounding and even the smallest donation helps.

Ask. If you don’t know, just ask.
“Would you like to go out to eat with us or would you rather I bring a meal to your house?” “Would you like for me to take your children today or stay and clean your flowerbeds?”

“The smallest acts of kindness mean so much! When someone came for the evening and brought a little snack, it was so encouraging. When they dropped off a loaf of fresh bread or came and raked my leaves. Just little things, but they took time out of their busy schedule to be there for me.”

“After our loss, we had a couple people give us groceries/snacks in 31 totes. So thoughtful and I always think of them now when I use the bags. A couple stopped in one random evening with gifts for our children and flowers for my husband and I. We also received care packages in the mail with little gifts for the kids and snacks and candy. We were also blessed by an American Express gift card, restaurant gift card and Starbucks gift card all from the same person with a card stating that we are to use the AE gift card for a getaway. This was given right around the time our baby would have been due to arrive. I found that very thoughtful as so often we had intentions of going away by ourselves but it never happened because of work/money.”

Gift Cards
These can be used at any point in time when they feel up to going out again. They can be cards for the grocery store, shopping or a restaurant.

“Take things like paper plates, toilet paper, napkins, tissues, paper towels etc. to the house of those who just lost a loved one. Someone did that for us and it was a gift.”

“Friends got me out of the house for a few hours one day. They called and said they were coming to get me. We had a good day of shopping and coffee and it gave me something else to think about for a little bit.”

“When asked, “How are you?” I often didn’t know what to say. I did love to hear someone tell me they had been thinking about me this week and prayed!”
“How are you?” is a common question, it’s just one that comes out when we don’t know what else to ask. It is a very hard question to answer in the middle of grief, so don’t be offended if the grief-walker just smiles and says, “Okay” when you know they really aren’t. Most likely they themselves don’t know how they are.
“Be willing then to step out of your comfort zone and reach out to them…….be it a text, card, flowers, meal. Just do something. It doesn’t matter how small it is. It will mean the world. All I wanted was a hug and a tangible reminder that they cared.”

A hug without words
Sometimes just knowing someone cares is huge. You do not have to say anything. Actions speak louder than words many times.

“I loved the people who came through the viewing who just hugged me, cried and said ‘I am praying for you.’ At a time of sudden loss, you can’t remember everyone that came, much less the things they have to say. But that warm hug you will remember.”

“Give the gift of a massage. It is so relaxing once all the stress is over with to go and have a massage. It seems like a small gesture, but one I loved.”

“When someone dies, don‘t forget that their close friends are also grieving deeply.”
Death affects many, not just family. Check in on friends grieving a loss also.

“I wish people would have chosen something to do instead of saying,
“Let me know if you need anything!”
Most people who say this mean it with absolute sincerity, I did when I said it. I really, truly wanted them to let me know what they needed. Since then I have come to realize that often a grieving person is unable to process and think like they normally would, especially in the initial stages of shock. When someone walks up and says, “Let me know if you need anything!” there will almost never be a reply to the request. The griever is simply unable to think of what they need. When they do think of something, they still won’t call you because it just feels so needy.
Next time instead of leaving your question open-ended, be specific.
“Would you like for me to bring supper on Wednesday or Thursday night?”
“Would it be okay for me to stop in at 10 today and clean your windows?”
“I’ll be by in 20 minutes and will clean your bathrooms for you.” and when you clean the bathroom, stock it with toilet paper and etc.
“I’m running to the grocery store. Do you need any staples like bread, milk, or eggs? Or would you have a list ready that I could have?”

“I have walked a different journey of grief by becoming a single mom and sometimes reading posts like this makes me sad! I didn’t lose my husband to death but grieved just like it was a death and people don’t know what to do in situations like this, so they do nothing. In that first year, I would have loved for someone just to bring me a meal, help me with my 5 kids (just to give me a little break since I had that responsibility 24/7) or just to come visit! I did have my family who took turns coming at least once a week for a year and not sure how we would have survived without that! I don’t want to hurt anyone with what I said, but just a reminder that you don’t have to lose a loved one to death to grieve! So if you know someone facing this type of grief now, please reach out to them just like you would if her spouse had died!”

“Grief is the conflicting feeling caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern or behavior.”

Grief is not always through actual death. There are many, many forms of grief that need to be acknowledged with encouragement and support. There is grief like she mentioned above, or infertility, miscarriages, abuse, and many things along that line that feel like an enormous weight on your shoulders. Sometimes a form of grief can be brought on by changes in your life, loss of a relationship or a job, or any number of things that don’t look like a big deal to us if we haven’t walked in those shoes. If you see someone grieving like this, reach out to them even if you don’t understand because you’ve never been there. You can still show them you care through words and actions.

In the end, there is no amount of anything that will take away the pain of loss. The pain always remains, but when there is care, love and genuine concern shown, it is like a ray of sunshine on a dark day. When a friend is willing to stoop low and help carry your burden, the load seems lighter and the path easier knowing you are loved.

his-comfort

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Question: How to Encouraging the Grieving

    There is something I have been thinking about for a number of months and I have finally decided to take a chance and put my question out there for you. It is concerning grief and those walking that long, lonely road.
Grief is a private journey in some ways, there are so many emotions to work through and you and you alone are the only one who can do that for yourself. Then in other ways, there is so much that can be done to help someone bear that burden. So, how do we help, encourage, carry some of their load and walk this road with them?

To those of you who know this walk of grief, I have some questions.

“What were the best things someone has done or is still doing for you on this journey?
What were the kindest words said to you, the ones you still remember?”

It doesn’t matter if your journey started long ago or just recently, think about those portraying Jesus and walking along the side of you. What are some things that have been done for you that have blessed you?

Another question.

What are some things you wish had been done for you over the time of your journey? What were some things you wish someone had said or not said to you?”

Is there something that you longed for someone to pick up on? It may have been a small thing or a large project, but just something you wished a friend would notice and come along side of you and helped? Or something said that hurt deep down inside but you knew your friend had no idea what they were saying?

    To those of you who have not walked this road of grief, but have a close friend or relative walking it, I also have a question for you.

“What have you done, or seen someone do, for a grief-walker in your life that you know has been Jesus to them?”

How have you poured into the lives of the grieving and hurting around you? What was it you did that you know was a nudge from Jesus to help and encourage?

    I want to compile a post of ideas and things that will help friends bear the burden of those walking this long, lonely road. I will list ideas and comments in any particular order with no names attached. I want it to be something you can come back to, look over and pick something to do for a friend who is hurting.

    Write a comment and tell me how you have been blessed or been a blessing in a time of grief. If you wish to remain anonymous, send me a private message on facebook or email me at ericshan26@ymail.com
These ideas will by no means take away the stinging pain of losing a loved one, but in tangible ways, we can be Jesus to someone when it happens.

Share this post or ask your friends and family for their thoughts.

Isaiah-43-2

Our Silent Companion, Grief

Things are different now. We are missing a family member, one has gone before us leaving an empty spot in our home and hearts. Yet, we have gained an extra member, one that we are not so excited about having along side us for the rest of life. Our new family member’s name is Grief.

Grief likes to reside in the corners and at the most unexpected moments, he will tap you on the shoulder to make sure you know he is still around. He is not a friendly sort of fellow and he chooses the least appropriate times to show up. He likes to come along to church and torment you in public. Sometimes it’s the oddest places, when you pass a certain vehicle on the road or when you see an item in the grocery aisle. He is especially bad when you think you are home alone and in his quiet little way he will usually come around. Grief follows our footprints everywhere we go, at home or abroad.

With the changing of seasons, Grief always comes to life. Christmas is just around the corner and you can expect that he will appear for that too. When we pull out the boxes stuffed with decorations and lights, Grief will sneak up behind us and remind us of the one we are missing who loved Christmas so much. Grief digs up the memories of years gone by, reminding us that Christmas will never be the same again.

When the carols start playing, bells begin ringing and a quiet Silent Night is heard, Grief begins to play his own tune in our hearts. He stirs in the soul reminding us of the love of singing and carols. A tear makes its way down our cheek because singing just isn’t the same anymore, the carols have lost their sweet chime.

The names have been exchanged and we are off to do shopping, but sure enough, he sneaks along for the ride. Sometimes we could almost forget that he‘s there, then we glance at our list and wonder, “Why are there not enough names?” And there is Grief, tapping our shoulders to make sure we remember there is nothing to buy them this year, all of our gifts for them have been given.

We cook and we bake and all the while we are thinking about which person likes these desserts and who likes those sweets. Pretty soon Grief starts stirring and our minds go to those special cookies, the ones he loved so well, and the desire to bake anything just disappears.

Members of different families gather and happy chatter fills the room, people calling hello and catching up. We look around and wonder who is missing and suddenly Grief reminds us, it will always be this way, there will always be someone missing.

We call our family together, the children rustle and squirm in their seats. We look around the circle and each one is there, save one empty chair. Grief wails loudly, bringing attention to the spot, the one who is missing, yet forever in our hearts.

This member called Grief is like a needy child, constantly wanting our attention, crying to be heard and acknowledged. At times he hangs out in the background, quietly allowing some peace, but relentlessly he will surface, unable to let much time pass without a reminder. We can refuse to listen to him when he starts calling, or tell him to be quiet, but he will eventually become persistent enough that we have no choice but to acknowledge him.

Grief is now our ever-present companion, always tagging along. Not only is he with us over the Holidays, but we will live with him for the rest of time. Each time the season changes, every birthday and each beautiful fall day, he will be there. With time, we will get used to having him around but we will always carry Grief’s weight. Carrying him is the price of love, all because someone we loved so very much is missing from our life.

grief

One Year Gone

One year ago, early in the morning,
had one stood still and listened,
they would have heard
the whisper of angel’s wings
passing through the dark clouds.

You were awake,
ready and waiting,
pacing back and forth,
wondering what it was
you were feeling.
Something was happening,
you felt a tug, a pull,
a pounding heart,
but what was it, really?

Suddenly you realized
it was the voice of Jesus calling,
“Come home, my son!”
Lifting your face to the sky you replied,
“I’m coming, Jesus, I am coming!”

As softly as a feather
they lighted beside you
lying prone on the floor.
Lifting you gently into their arms,
with a soft flutter of wings
they took flight,
rising through the clouds,
whisking you away
to meet the One
who had called your name.

It was at that moment,
time stood still.
For you and for us.

I have no doubt the last year for you
has been so much better than ours.

Yours has been a day that has only begun.
Beginning with that flight on angel’s wings,
bursting into the golden light surrounding the city
and passing through the gates of pearl.
What a beautiful sight
your blue eyes must have beheld.
The streets of gold, the mansions glorious,
such beauty of which has never been told.

And there before you stood Jesus,
his nail pierced hands outstretched,
waiting for your entrance.
He had been watching you,
waiting for the moment of your arrival.
His eyes shining with love,
He reached and with a single touch,
you were made whole.

Falling to your knees,
you worshiped in praise and adoration,
in a way our finite minds cannot imagine.
Your day of glorious praise has only begun.

On that morning,
our day began completely different.
Bent low with grief,
our hearts were racked with pain.
Our beloved Tris had flown away
and we were left behind.
We cried out in anguish,
“Why Jesus, Why?”

We have spent the year
fighting for breath,
wondering how we will be able
bear this pain another day.
Tears have flown freely through
many sleepless nights,
we lie wondering,
“Will we live to see the dawn?”

We have spent the year
in awe of our faithful God
and his ways of carrying us through this.
The comfort and prayers of friends,
calls and whispered words.
Sweet peace in the middle of the storm,
which one knows only comes from above.
Days of weary battle
end with a beautiful rainbow in the sky.
Quiet moments, verses of Scripture,
a message just for us.

We have spent the year
missing you dreadfully.
The ache, the hole,
just gets bigger and bigger.
So many memories you have missed,
so many family times
when we longed to see you walk in.
Birthdays, anniversaries, Father’s day,
all passed by missing you.
You lived life so big,
so loud, so full,
and you are missed
in the very same way.

If I imagine you today,
it’s standing on those golden streets,
dressed in a glorious white robe,
praising Jesus.
Your arms lifted high,
you sway from one foot the other,
singing at the top of your lungs.

I imagine when it is our time to come
you’ll be right behind Jesus,
waiting at that gate to welcome us home.
Until then, we’ll keep fighting.
See you soon little brother.

He has achieved

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A Powerful Refuge

Driving long and late into the night,
black as ink all around
except where the headlights
pierced the darkness.
Suddenly far in the distance,
a flash of light streaked across the sky.
“Could that be Jesus coming?”
No, just a flash of lightning.

The wheels kept rolling, mile after mile.
The darkness crowded in close,
feeling a little bit like life.
Tears slipped down my cheeks
as I allowed my mind
to re-run last year.
Suddenly another bolt
ripped across the sky,
breaking up the darkness
in the split of a second.

I watched as I drove,
amazed to see the power and might
of God’s hand in the storm.
White flashes, red and blue bolts,
in jagged arrows, zipping to the earth.
Storm clouds were illuminated
with light flashing behind them.
It was majestic to watch,
to see the awesome display of light
and power in the sky.

With every mile,
we grew closer to the storm
and soon we were in the middle of it.
Bigger bolts and brighter flashes,
booming thunder along with
torrential rain pounding.

It was breathtaking to watch and see
this Almighty God,
so high in the heavens
powerfully displaying his hand
in such a majestic manner.
He sent bolts of lightning
flashing to the ground,
claps of thunder and rain pouring down,
and with a quiet word,
He controlled it all.

It was overwhelming
to imagine a God such as this.
Could this all-powerful really care
about the pain of my little heart?
Does one who controls
the universe really stoop
to my level?

ligtning

Yet there in the dark,
as the tears slid down my cheeks,
I knew even in all his greatness,
He heard my whispers
about the darkness of life,
I knew He listened to my weeping.
With peace, God quietly reminded me
that although He controls the raging storm,
He also cares about
the hurting heart still beating.
And there in the darkness,
amid lightning and thunder,
He gently covered me with His feathers
and under His wings, I found refuge.
Who better to care for me
then the One who holds this world
in the palm of His hand?
Who better to trust
than the all-powerful
such as He?
Who better to heal
a broken heart?

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