Five Years Later

“Don’t forget in the darkness what you have learned in the light.”  
-Joseph Bayly 
“Yet sometimes the darkness descends so thickly that we can barely remember the light.” 
-Phillip Yancey 

Grief, like a cloud, rolls in and fog descends 
to blanket your entire world.  
You lift your eyes and see all silvery-white,  
only a few feet before, everything else is hidden.  
You live in a world submerged, unable to observe,  
to grasp that life is moving on without the one you love.  

They say time heals the pain.  
 Time just soothes the ragged edges,  
but Jesus heals the heart.  

Slowly the morning light pours in and the fog begins to lift.  
You start to see the world around, still living life,  
but you see through new eyes. 
Grief has altered your vision,  
given a new perspective, a changed outlook on life.  
Life is not to be taken for granted,  
those closest, held dear, every day treasured.  

They say hindsight is 20/20,  
but until heaven, we see through a glass darkly. 

While blanketed in the fog, you reach with outstretched arms,  
yearning to feel His love and compassion.  
Without fail they are there, ready and waiting, always. 
When the fog has lifted, you look back and define  
beauty in the moments He gave grace,  
see His strength supplied to climb the next high mountain.  
There was comfort for the days overpowered with tears,  
mercy when we lashed out in anger, 
and peace in the middle of the storm.  

Rather than demanding God answer our “Why?” questions, 
may we instead ask “What would you have me learn?” 

Five years later, 
questions still crowd our minds, queries with no answers. 
We will live with those questions for now,
trusting God’s sovereignty. 
We live understanding that walking a fiery trial 
is not easy, it is not without pain, grief, and days of sorrow.  
Are we better for having walked this road? 
Grief has softened, taught grace, mercy, and love. 
We have learned to cherish, to hold with an open hand.   
We understand how pain and joy co-exist in life.  
Heartache made us wise, suffering strengthened us, 
and we held onto hope, gripping desperately with both hands. 
We walked the fiery trial and we learned to rest in God, 
who holds all things in His hands.  

On the foggiest night pain is real, but so is hope.

Four Years

Autumn’s beauty gives way to Winter’s chill,
Winter eventually thaws to Spring.
Spring slowly warms to Summer,
and Summer cools to Autumn’s crisp.
The changing of the seasons never cease,
each takes a turn, another year gone.

Another year of missing you each day.
Another 365 days of wondering;
what do the glories of heaven look like,
the streets of gold, the crystal river of life?
Do the walls of jasper glisten,
and the gates of pearl shine?
What does it feel like to be Home,
to gather with Jesus and the redeemed?
Another year of longing to join you in song,
singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” around the throne.

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Four years ago when you left us,
we gathered to mourn, to grieve,
and remember the life you lived.
Over and over those days
Isaiah 41:10 played across the screen.
“Fear not, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed,
for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you,
I will uphold you
with my righteous right hand.”

And true to His word,
He has done this for us.
On the darkest of nights,
He was with us in our fears.
In the deepest valleys of grief,
He sustained and strengthened us.
His strong right arm upheld us
when we were weak and worn.
We learned to lean on Him,
to trust his unfailing grace every day.

Four years of walking this road,
and not a day has gone by
that Jesus has not walked with us.
Our faith and trust have grown stronger,
we know His Word to be true,
He is the strength He promised to be.

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But still, we long for more,
every day we hope, waiting patiently.
We long for the days of grief to end
and our tears be wiped away.
We long for the day we will hear Him say,
“Well done, my child, welcome home!”

Tris, one day we’ll see you face to face,
one day we’ll praise His name together.
Until then, we miss you,
we watch and wait with longing,
walking by faith, until then.

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See you in the morning.

His Hands

His hands told a story,
a story of hard work,
greasy tractors and love.

They were rough and calloused hands.
Although cracked and toughened,
worn by work and life,
they were gentle and kind hands,
always willing to work.

His hands started working young.
They learned the art of nuts and bolts,
a wrench or pliers applied to a bicycle.
He wielded a tool with precision and
took things apart, one piece at a time,
but soon had them back together again.

His hands were ever moving,
working to bring life to an old machine.
He knew just what tools to use,
which adjustments to make,
and soon a dead engine,
was purring with life.

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He ran his hands over the hood,
along the fender and up over the door.
They pulled him in onto the seat
and gripped the steering wheel
while turning the key.
His hand pushed the Jeep into gear
and with a wave and a smile,
he was off.

His hands told a story while he talked.
How wide is must have been,
how high it stood and its strength.
They fiddled with the candle,
twirled a toothpick in his mouth,
or poked a fork into a plastic plate.
His hands pushed him back from the table,
as he said, “Alrighty then!”

His hands told a story of
love and committed to his wife.
They reached for her hand,
and led her with courage and strength.
His hands were gentle and kind,
ever-loving with his children.
They reached for his hands
and held on with full trust in their Dad.

His hands turned the pages
of his Bible as he read.
They put into action what he learned,
and told the world of Jesus.
He loved well with his hands,
always the first to help others,
lift someone’s load,
and reach to care for a brother.

His hands told a story,
a story of hard work,
greasy tractors and love.

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– – –

What story are your hands telling?

I Am Jehovah

When the road before you looks dark, long and lonely,
Jesus whispers, “I am Immanuel, God with us.
I will be with you every step of the way.

I will hold your hand, I will guide you and lead you,
I will never forsake you.”

When the mountain to climb is steep and wrought with trenches,
Jesus says, “I am El-Roi, the God who keeps watch.
I will climb by your side, I will not allow your foot to slip.
Even in your darkest hour, I will be with you. ”

When the stress and worries of the day threaten to overwhelm,
Jesus calls, “I am Jehovah Shalom, the God of peace.
Give me your fears, lay them at my feet.
I am the bearer of all burdens and I will carry yours.”

When worry of the future and for your family overtakes you,
Jesus replies, “I am Jehovah Jireh, I will provide.
I will care for your needs in ways you cannot imagine if you trust in me.”

When the long nights swallow up your lonely cries,
He whispers, “I am Jehovah Raah, your Shepherd.
I care for you and will be a friend and companion to you.”

When the questions go unanswered, time after time,
He says, “I am El Shaddai, the Lord God Almighty.
I have heard your cries, I know my ways are hard for you to understand.
Put your trust in me, rest in me, even when life seems unfair.”

When no songs of praise fall from your lips,
Jesus speaks, “I am Jehovah Nissi, I will give you a new song.
I will revive your spirits and bring life to your soul once more,
put your hope in me.”

When your heart is broken and nothing will mend it,
Jesus calls softly, “I am Jehovah Rapha, the one who heals.
I will heal your broken heart and bind up your wounds.”

No matter the problem, no matter the hour, Jesus is there.
“My Child, I am El Rachum, the God of compassion
and I feel your pain because you are so precious to me.
I hear your cries and collect your tears in a bottle.
I know the number of the hair on your head,
I care more for you than you will ever know.
You are my beloved and I love you with an everlasting love.”

sunset

Musings

I stare at this blank page like I stare at the vast empty months that will fill 2019. I know, I know, we have already finished the 987 days of January and are moving along and leaving the words ‘New Year’ behind.
A lot of you love to start a new year, set up goals for the future, and dream of all it will hold. I have realized lately that a new year scares me. I don’t like surprises. at all. The thought alone makes me twitchy. I want to know what is coming, I like to plan, plot and organize things. To look at 12 empty months is too much. I have to do 1 week or 1 month at a time to hold off the panic of the unknown.
I wonder sometimes, was I always this way or have the last few years changed me? Or does this simply come with increasing age? I am not sure. The older I get the more I try to figure myself out and the more I try, the more frustrated I get with the subject I am figuring out!
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Looking back, the holidays were hard months. With God’s grace, we survived. Christmas especially triggers many emotions and we end up enduring December instead of enjoying it.
When Christmas finally arrives, we enjoy time together immensely, but there is always the niggling thought in the back of our minds that he is missing. Along with that thought, we are extremely grateful for every minute we spend together and try not to take it for granted.

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Many December evenings when the dusk started turning dark, I would flip the light switch up and stare at the star hanging on the porch. It was gifted in memory of Tristan and every year I hang it again in his memory. Christmas was his favorite.

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Christmas day was mild and beautiful. We had fun hanging out at the cabin.

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When the sky glows red with the setting sun, you will find us outside watching.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

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“Christmas is the best but it’s not because of presents. It’s because of the birth of Jesus. Then see that cross by the star on my tree? That is for Jesus too.”
-Kennedy

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Philippians 4:14 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
John 15:5 for without me, you can do nothing.
2 Cor. 12:9 My grace is sufficient for you.

  When you face deep waters or deal with a thorn in the flesh, God has two ways to work in the situation. He can either remove the thorn or strengthen your shoulders.

The grace of God is sufficient to help you carry the load he has called you to bear. No matter what you face, no matter what waters God calls you to walk through, you can. Not on your own, sheer willpower will get you nowhere. Recognize your own insufficiency and draw from His. Only He gives the needed strength and sufficient grace.

“Great tribulation brings out the great strength of God. If you never feel inward conflicts and sinking of soul, you do not know much of the upholding power of God; but if you go down, down, into the depths of soul-anguish till the deep threatens to shut her mouth upon you, and then the Lord rides upon a cherub and does fly, yea, rides upon the wings of the wind and delivers your soul, and catches you away to the third heaven of delight, then you perceive the majesty of divine grace. Oh, there must be the weakness of man, felt, recognized, and mourned over, or else the strength of the Son of God will never be perfected in us.” (Spurgeon)

My grace is sufficient for you.
My: Jesus
Grace: God’s favor and love in action
Is: right now. not later. now.
Sufficient: plentiful. more than enough. more than we can imagine.
for you: Not just Paul writing this. but you. me. everyone.