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.

Hands (2)

 

– – –

What story are your hands telling?

A Legacy

When you cross over Jordan, all is left behind,
of wealth, fame, and fortune, nothing is taken along.
Yet, in all that which is left behind,
the thing of most value is not of this world
but the legacy written by your life.

Tris Katelyn

He was a friend.
He left a legacy of friendship where ever he went.
If you were his family or a relative, you were important.
If your interest was in tractors, jeeps, dirt bikes,
mechanical or all things greasy, he was ready to talk.
If he had nothing in common with you,
he would think of something to say to draw you out
and pull you into the conversation with him.
No one was too small, no one was too big,
each person deserved his attention and care.
He called you by name, got on your level,
and really listened to what you had to say.
He was a friend who cared.

He was positive.
He left a legacy of being cheerful and encouraging.
His outlook on life was happy and upbeat
and he was always looking on the bright side.
He was often heard singing and whistling while he worked.
His reply to a farmer with a breakdown,
“Not a problem! I‘ll have ya fixed up in no time.”
Every day was a great day to be alive
and tomorrow was sure to be a good one too.

He was humble.
He left a legacy of quietly using his God-given gifts.
No one knew how wise he was, he never told them.
There was little he could not do, little he did not know,
but few people realized how much he knew.
If you posed a question, it was never too small,
never beneath his level of expertise.
He worked with you and around you
until you were left believing you could do it all.
He never thought himself above someone,
but always on their level.

He was bigger than life.
He left a legacy of living life to the fullest.
Whether it was tearing into a motor, restoring a jeep,
or loving his little family, he gave it his all.
It was all or none, full steam ahead with excitement,
ready to take on and conquer whatever was next.
He worked and played equally hard,
late at night under a combine out in a muddy field
or playing kickball with the kids on the front lawn,
each was worth the best of his time and effort.

He was funny.
He left a legacy of spreading laughter and smiles.
He could tell the best jokes and stories
to which a crowd of people would always respond.
His family saw a side of him most people never knew.
Wrapped up like a burrito and snoozing on the floor,
whispering something dumb in your ear in a crowd of people,
slurping coffee loudly with a sigh, eating out of the bowl,
telling a story with great enthusiasm or singing with gusto,
there was always something to make us smile.

He was selfless.
He left a legacy of caring more for others than himself.
If there was work to do, he was the first to help.
If it was midnight and you called, he would come,
or he was just getting home from work, “I’ll be right over.”
He would answer his phone day and night,
always willing to let a hand because you were worth his time.

He was gracious.
He left a legacy of being considerate to all,
no matter who you were or how you treated him.
His kindness and thoughtfulness were well known.
Farmers in his world of business still remark
about his care and attention for them.
Even when he had more to do than could be done,
he stopped, listened and cared about each one.

He was steady.
He left a legacy of dependability and steadfastness.
He was a strong tower for his wife and children.
They leaned on him for his strength and confidence,
in return, he delighted in being their safe refuge.
No matter what storms of life beat around them,
they knew they could trust his quiet constancy.

He had faith.
He lived a life that built a legacy worth leaving.
His life bore fruit from the core of his heart,
his character and qualities were witnesses
of a heart which was motivated by a love for Jesus.
He was a man of unstoppable spirit,
passionately dedicated to Jesus and living life.
And when his days were ended, he had fought a good fight
and he finished his race with faithfulness.
He lived a life that built a legacy worth leaving.

When you cross the Jordan, you leave a legacy behind.
Will it be a legacy worth leaving?

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Mending Broken

I went to calling hours and a funeral.
I felt a chink in the heart walls so well-built,
a crevice began to open again,
and the tears came trickling out.

There was no comparison between him and her,
nothing about them was the same.
She was old and had lived a full life well.
He was young and in his prime.
But, old or young, a funeral is a funeral
and it pulls out all the emotions
that have been so carefully tucked away.

There are the flowers, sent for cheer,
along with photos and mementos of life filling the tables.
The long lines of people coming and going,
expressing sympathy in whispered words, stretch endless.
Hands, reaching and clasping,
arms tightening and squeezing silent messages.
The water bottles, tissues, and mints for raw throats,
clutter spaces under chairs not sat upon.
Pieces of conversation float through the air,
remember when they said this or did that,
and how we wish for one more word.
Words of songs meant to sooth,
yet they fill the air with sadness all the same.
And all the way up front
is the one lone wooden box.

You fight for control yet slowly, but surely
the heart begins to beat a faster pace,
the teeth clench and muscles tense.
Eyes dart this way and that for an escape
while the mind begins to unravel too quickly.
Tears push behind the eyelids only a blink from spilling
and the hands begin a cold sweat while the feet rush for a swift exit.
The cold darkness swallows the sobs
of the memories that come rushing back, threatening to overtake.

There is no comparison between him and her, really,
but what the mind sees and hears compels a rush of emotions,
cracking the walls so carefully built to guard the heart.

All alone in the darkness of tears,
the heart once again feels all the painful emotions.
Tears for the here and now,
mourning for the past and what was lost,
and an ache for the future and what will never be.

But with each new break, comes a new mending.
When He sees the heart walls chip and crumble,
the Mender returns and with his gentle touch
lends a few more stitches to repair and patch anew.
He speaks in soothing tones while He works,
pouring in healing oil and gently closing more gaps.
He reminds of His goodness and love,
His mercies new every morning
and whispers He has not forgotten.

With time and His touch, the heart will continue to mend,
but the scars and memories will always be a part of it.
While they look painful to most,
they also tell the story of the Mender
and his gentle touch on a heart.

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