Grief Upon Grief Upon Grace Upon Grace

Pier Along IslamoradaI wrote this blog last week and hadn’t posted it yet because I can’t seem to catch up with school, work, and house…well pretty much anything. I was sharing with a friend some of things that I’ve been thinking about and writing about lately. This dear friend challenged me to share a happy post I’d written…I couldn’t find one happy enough! So now I’ve been challenged to write happier blogs at least every once in a while. But I had already written this one and I’m praying that it will bless someone even if it isn’t as cheerful as I’d like! I pray you are encouraged…

This week has been a little rough.

Being gone all last week was difficult…I missed a week of being with my children. I missed walking my children through the grief of their grandfather’s death. I missed day to day. I missed bedtimes. I missed packing lunches. I missed A LOT of laundry (which was all waiting when I arrived home). I missed my little girls’ Back to School night. I missed the book fair at school. I missed chatting with children. I missed my Bible study. I missed piano lessons. I missed a lot.

Right now though, I miss my Dad.

And I’m not sure how missing him should impact my day.

I have a sweet friend who reminded me that I should give myself and my children the opportunity to grieve…that I shouldn’t just jump back into life. I totally understand and agree.
I just don’t know how to do that.

When I arrived home my children had done an amazing job of holding down the fort — everyone had been well-cared for and our home looked pretty darn good! Except for the mountain (and I do mean mountain) of laundry by the washing machine….and the fact that schoolwork had been put aside for other pursuits.

This week began with sweet time with my children, a tremendous amount of washing, drying and sorting of laundry, grocery shopping, and massive amount of catching up on school work along with all the other craziness of a normal week. I haven’t found a moment to sit down or really contemplate anything deeply. There are brief moments while driving alone when grief washes over me, but really I don’t have time to allow myself to feel anything profoundly for more than that brief moment.

I’m not sure how to walk my children through this grief. It feels like grief upon grief for us. One big and little and then big thing after another.

“Grief upon grief” reminds me of a verse I keep seeing lately…on Facebook, in a book, and on a church sign…

For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. John 1:16

In the past several years God has shown me nothing but grace upon grace. And even this week as I deal with the loss of my father and just simply living the life of a single parent, God continues to show me grace upon grace.

Grace for responding to difficult moments.

Grace for single parenting even when I’m exhausted and emotionally drained.

Grace for being content when the day doesn’t go as planned…pretty much ever.

Grace for myself…forgiveness and mercy when I fail.

Grace for others who disappoint and hurt me or my children.

Grace for my children when they mess up.

Grace for knowing that God loves messy me and my chaotic crew.

There is no doubt in my mind that God loves us and that God feels acutely the pain we feel. Jesus felt grief…He understands.

We have all suffered grief at one point or another in our lives. I was thinking of Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians where he shared about his thorn…the thing that he pleaded God to remove from his life…it was his grief-giver. And God’s response was:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)

And oh that my response to that could be like Paul’s:

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

Sometimes in my weakness…I just feel weak. Sometimes in my grief I don’t truly feel content.
How do I get contentment in sorrow?

I don’t know any particular thing to do, but I do know that God offers contentment…Paul wouldn’t have had it if God didn’t give it!

Once again I’m brought back to prayer. Once again the answer is prayer.

I know that God wants me to be content in my circumstances actually according to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 God says to:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I’m of the firm opinion that God doesn’t call us to anything He will not also enable us to do. So if I’m to continually be rejoicing that must mean I rejoice in all my circumstances whether they are good or bad. If God tells me to give thanks in all circumstances, I must be able to find something to be grateful for no matter the way things are going. And in the middle of all that God says to pray without ceasing.

So I’m going to pray…constantly…for the ability to rejoice and be grateful no matter how wonky things are. I’m also going to pray that I will be better about praying without ceasing…I want to be a prayer warrior so I believe I will pray that God will help me be one.

And I’m going to pray that God will give me His peace so that no matter what happens – whether its grief upon grief, joy upon joy, or grace upon grace – I’ll be content.

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flowers and sky

No Pretty Little Bow

I’ve been trying to figure out a good way to start this post. I just can’t think of one. So I guess I’ll just share stuff with you and hope that God uses my fuzzy thinking to bless! He’s good that way.
Yesterday my Dad went to be with the Lord.  I was blessed to spend his last hours with him and my Mom.  It was more difficult than I can adequately express in mere words.  I wanted nothing more than to comfort my father as he struggled and yet I was terrified to watch him die.  I wanted to be there for my Mom, but I didn’t really know what to do.  I felt lost in wanting to be both caregiver and cared for.  But in the midst of it all, God was so clearly there.  I felt His presence…His assurance in my confusion and fear.  I felt His peace even as I struggled to maintain composure…which I did not do well at all in the end. 

Today I opened up my email to see that a post I had written for MomLifeToday was up.  I’ve attached it because this one probably isn’t gonna be so great and maybe that one will bless more 🙂  I often have to reread what I write because I can’t remember it well…honestly, I can’t remember much well at this point…my family has been laughing at me for the past couple of days because I’m such a goof.  Anyway, I digress.  I reread what I had written in my post “No Pretty Little Bow” and God so sweetly reminded me through my own words that He can be trusted. 

See there are a lot of things I wish I could have done differently this past week.  There are a lot of things I don’t understand.  And sometimes I can be a self-beater-upper.  But if I truly believe that I can trust God with everything, why do I have to play Monday morning quarterback with everything?  I can second-guess with the best of them…my friend says I need to stop “shoulding” all over myself…ain’t that the truth. 

Today I’m reminding myself that God can be trusted.  God does love me.  There is nothing more I can do because He has done it all.  I need only rest in the knowledge that my life is in His hands…my father’s life was in His hands…my children’s lives are in His hands. 

He will guide my footsteps.  Sometimes we will go places I’d rather not, but if I keep my focus on Him it’ll all turn out just fine in the end.  It has to…that’s His plan and His plan is always perfect.

Is Life Ever Gonna Be Normal?

cool cloud“Everything is going on around me as if nothing is happening…as if my world is not crashing…exploding…imploding…”

I remember thinking those words when my marriage began its shattering.

Nobody knew. And life continued.

I recall standing up before a class of 5th and 6th graders teaching them grammar and thinking, “How do I do this? How do I pretend that this is just a normal day? That I don’t just want to crawl into a corner and weep?”

It’s such a surreal thing…trying to be normal when everything isn’t.

I’m feeling that way again as I watch my father’s health decline dramatically.

The other day I sat next to him propping him up with my shoulder, holding his hand, and leaning in to hear his soft, mumbled words. I was struck again by life’s challenges.

I’d spent the day with my children playing at the park – running, laughing, and sweating. Now I was sitting still, crying a bit, and well…sweating  …my Dad’s room is pretty stuffy.

It’s weird to walk through all these emotions. I remember that walk when my husband left. I remember trying to make life normal and fun with my children. I’d laugh with them during the day and cry when I was alone at night. It was a truly terrible walk for a season, but I haven’t walked there in a while…until now.

Anyone who has suffered a loss or tragedy or challenge of any kind can understand…life goes on.
We still need to set alarms, pack lunches, get kids to school, do school with children, go to work, make dinner, drive to soccer games, smile at people, listen to other’s share their stories, and just plain live life.

I’m finding it difficult to figure out how to be normal anymore…I mean not that I’ve ever been completely normal (LOL!)…but how do I find normal when things keep getting wonky on me?

My prayer partner and I pray each year that this will be the year without trauma or drama….so far we are 0-6. Not a great record. BUT I will say that God continues to work in me and around me despite the decidedly difficult times.
He continues to show me He is faithful before, during, and after the troubling times.

Somehow or another, even when I can’t necessarily see it or really understand it, He makes it all bearable. At the end of the day, I realize I’ve survived. And so have all my children.

And it isn’t just survival…I’ve learned so much about myself and about Him through each heartbreak and sorrow.
God loves me and my children (and you and yours) so very much.

Lately God has been showing me how very very much He loves me and my children…and you and yours. There is no limit to His love…the amount doesn’t diminish on a bad day or even increase on a good day. He loves us perfectly and completely because He is love.

I read a quote years ago by A.W. Tozer from his book Knowledge of the Holy

“Love, for instance, is not something God has and which may grow or diminish or cease to be. His love is the way God is, and when He loves He is simply being Himself.”

I’m so blessed by that…so thankful that God loves me regardless of me or my circumstances or my fears or my challenges or my difficulties or my emotions or my failures…God loves me because He made me to love.

There is hope for me in that…there is hope that even when everything seems completely out of sorts and daily life must continue on, I can trust that God has it because He loves me. I can trust that I am secure in His unfailing love.

Even when life shatters, God’s love keeps me together.

hospice, hope and healing

Daisies on white

“Momma, I don’t want grandpa to die, but I know he will feel so much better in heaven.”

My sweet 12 year old son uttered those words as we sat in an Urgent Care waiting to see the doctor for the two of us, and while my father lay in a hospital bed waiting for word from his doctor.

Today we found out that those words were not the ones we hoped to hear.  Those words included “hospice.”  Earlier in the week I had said that word, but it was in a hopeful sentence, “At least they haven’t mentioned hospice.” 

Now they have and I don’t know what to do with that word.  It strikes a pain in my chest I can hardly bear.  It brings me to tears just thinking of my dear father facing death so imminently. 

My daddy accepted the Lord about 10 years ago, but has not truly grasped what it means to him.  Oh that he could grasp grace and not let go of it.  It breaks my heart in more pieces than I can say that he hasn’t.  I can see the fear and anxiety etched on his beloved gaunt face.  I can hear it in his frustrated, angry words. 

We have all talked with my dad.  Friends have too.  We’ve tried to encourage him in his faith, but it’s hard when death is staring back so relentlessly.  I long for my Dad to see life instead of death…Life!!! 

I’ve dealt with a lot of pain and sorrow since my family fell apart 4 years ago.  There is a large part of my heart that is already in heaven.  I want to be there so badly I can taste it sometimes.  I understand Paul’s statement, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”  (Philippians 1:21)  But I am not faced with my death coming soon…at least that I know of.  I pray that my hope would not waver in the end. 

My Daddy’s hope is wavering…it’s wobbling all over the place.  I wish I knew exactly the right words so he could really grasp that peace which passes all understanding to guard his heart and his mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7), but once again, God is reminding me that I’m not the one in charge.

God loves my dad so very much.  He doesn’t want this man to die hopelessly, but rather with hope of eternal glory…of all the wonder that is heaven blissfully beckoning. 

We all selfishly want healing or even partial healing so that my dad will be around longer.  But like my little boy said, why would I want to have my dad suffer another day when he could know true and complete healing in heaven?  I know the answer but I can’t bring myself to write it because I want my dad around.  I want my children to know their grandpa even better…I want him to tell stories we haven’t heard or even ones we have. I want more time with him.

Tomorrow I will head back down to see my dad…to spend the day with him while things beep and swish around us and nurses come in and out and in and out and in out, and he tries to rest amid it all.  I will pray for the opportunity to encourage and bless my dad…and I will pray for peace for him and for all of us…and I will hope in the Lord for my dad’s eternal inheritance and mine as well.