Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Moments...

We pulled into the parking lot and took a space right in front of the little shop where we've been getting our hair cut for years now.  An older man was getting out of his cute little Mazda Miata to my left as my children filed out of the car arguing about who would sit in the chair first.  I was already frustrated, and it was only 12:30.

We walked in and took a seat near our stylist's chair, no one buzzing about the floor.  No one.  No other stylists, and no other clients.  Only me and the kids and the older gentlemen.  It was strange to say the least, and the gentleman and I shared a puzzled look.

One of the stylists emerged from the back and let us know they would be back out shortly.  That they were making phone calls.  That they had lost one of their stylists just this morning.  And my heart quickly sank down into my own personal pool of grief.

David looked at me.  "You're crying."

"I'm not crying."

"Yes you are.  You've got water in your eyes."

"I do have water in my eyes.  I hurt for them."

You see, in that moment, I felt it all, the loss, the confusion, the pain, the anger, the love, the longing, the grief.  Because the woman lost was not just a hair stylist with coworkers and clients she had for years, but rather she was a daughter, a wife, a mother, a friend, a sister, a cousin, a neighbor.  There are layers and layers of life lived, and layers and layers of grief to come.  So many will miss her.  So many will struggle with reconciling her death with what they know to be true, the very Presence of God in this world, and it's a tough process.  Because, really, when we think about it, what is grief all about to a believer?  It's the answering of the question, "Why didn't God let me keep her?"

I am not a believer in chance or accident.  I believe that in every moment of our lives, we are right where we are supposed to be.  I believe that if we have full faith in God, He will use every experience to pull us closer to Him.  I believe it so deeply in my bones that even in the midst of my current spiritual stagnancy, I know I was supposed to be there in that moment, to feel it in that place, and to hug a neck of someone that was hurting.  And I praise You, God, for pricking my heart and letting it pour out, for reminding me of Your Presence and Power and Purpose.

And I am reminded of a lovely Psalm.

I lift my eyes up to the hills - 
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
The Maker of heaven and earth. 
{121:1-2}


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Little Children...

I feel heavy lately.  So much going on.  So much hurt and loss and pain.  So much grief still weighing down on my soul that any other little thing that falls on it threatens to drag it down to the pit.  It's a tough world out there.

I was gone the bulk of the day yesterday and did not see the tragic events in Oklahoma unfold on television.  This morning, as I sipped my coffee, it all came down on me.  Tornados can be measured on a scale for earthly and physical damage, but the toll it takes on the people in that small town cannot be quantified.  The parents who have lost their child.  The teachers who shielded the lives of their students.  The children who lived through the terrifying experience.  The responders who are still hard at work in hopes of recovering all of those who are missing.  The lives of all these people will never be the same.

I turned on my Kindle this morning to do my chronological reading of the New Testament.  I haven't been reading much of my Bible lately.  I haven't read much in the copy of Jesus Calling that my sweet mama gave me.  I haven't been tapping into anything spiritually edifying.  Truth is, I just feel numb.  I don't feel much of anything at all.  I am settling into a life without my mother, and it still hurts too much, and I just don't want to feel any of it.  And then I see the pain unfolding on the morning news, the faces of those just beginning their own grief, and I hear that whisper... Keep looking for Me.  I am here.

This is what I read this morning:
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant.  He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."  And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.  {Mark 10:13-16}

My mind immediately went to a Bible I had when I was little.  On the front or somewhere in it was a picture of Jesus with a herd of children at His feet.  Of course, it was some mainstream caucasian Jesus with a rainbow of ethnicity around Him.  But that's not how I pictured it this morning.  I pictured a more realistic Jesus, skin weathered by the sun, long unkept hair, holes still in his hands, and children all around Him, bloodied and battered by that storm.  They were closest to Him, but I was there, too, battered by the difficulties of this world.  Resigning myself of ever trying to make any sense of this place we live in, of its losses and hurts, of its imperfections.  Still clinging on to His love for me, though it makes no sense either.  Still believing that there is Hope in Him, that He one day will take us all into His arms and bless us just as He did those children in the Scripture above.

You see, children so blindly believe most anything.  They don't need all the reasons and proof and science and fact that adults need.  They accept love and forgiveness with ease.  They let go of mistakes and hurt in an instant.  They live unbridled by pride and self righteousness.  And that's how we should be.  It's much harder to live that way when the weight of the earth bears down on us year after year.

Jesus opened his arms to a host of souls yesterday in that tornado, the number of which is still unknown.  Many we know were children.  It's the same Jesus that opened His arms up for my mother in April, 2012.  It's the same Jesus that will open His arms for me one day and for you reading my words right now.  He is the same yesterday, today, forever.  So whatever your burden may be today, take it to His feet.  Give your tears to Him.  Tell Him about it.  He waits with open arms adequate to carry the load of what you may be carrying in your heart.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day...

I remember Scott closing the door behind him as he walked out of the master bedroom of our cozy garden home.  I could hear a little noise outside the door, mumblings from and almost one year old and a little rattling here and there.  When the door opened, little David came teetering through with a tiny box and a card and a smile as broad as his face.

He climbed up on the bed and gave me my first Mother's Day gift.  I opened the card first, and Scott had helped David scribble his name on the inside.  And then I opened the little box to find a gold heart with diamonds all the way around it.

It was a moment I will cherish for my entire life.

There's nothing like being a mom.  It's indescribable.  It's joy and pain and laughter and tears and hope and worry all wrapped up in a big package.  Sometimes I feel like someone has picked up the package and shaken it so hard that all the emotions are spinning out of control.  Sometimes I am quiet and still inside of my package enjoying and treasuring every moment.

What makes being a mom so incredible to me is the hope that one day my children will look at me and feel about me the way I felt about my mom.  That I am their voice of reason, their soft place, their constant source of unconditional love in this world.  If my children feel that way about me, my joy will be complete.  What more can any woman ask than their flesh and blood feeling that way about her?  I can think of nothing better.

This day... Mother's Day... they say set aside to recognize the one who gave us life... it will never be the same.  But she lives on through me.  She breathes in my motherhood as I work toward being the kind of mom she was.  Patient.  Wise.  Timeless.  Tireless in loving me.

I love you, sweet Mama!  We will be together again one day!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lazarus...

I feel as though I've hit the pause button and am merely hovering about through life right now.  I'm not reading my Bible much, my prayer life is stale, and I am emotionally numb.  I am tired of grief.  It's exhausting and all encompassing, and my mind never takes a break from it except when I sleep.  And even some nights I dream of her so there's really no break.

This morning, I purposed to read some in my chronological Bible.  There are a million things I need to be doing, but I made myself pick it up where I had last left off... at the story of Lazarus.

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  "Where have you laid him?" he asked.  "Come and see, Lord," they replied.  Jesus wept.  

He saw Mary's grief, and He felt it in himself.  He grieved for the loss of his friend and for the pain his other friends were feeling.  He knows what it feels like to grieve.

He understands.

He lived.  He loved.  He lost.  He grieved.  He has overcome the world.  I needed that reminder this morning.

I like to think of myself as Mary right now.  I am still on my knees at His feet.  I've moved past the point of thinking I wish she were still alive.  I moved past being angry and questioning.  I moved on past the crying every day.  I am somewhere now on the timeline of grief, still on my knees, head down at His feet, begging each day for the strength to face the 24 hours ahead of me.  Begging for mercy on the hearts of those of us left behind struggling to make through without her.

And I know He knows the whole picture.  How each thing fits together perfectly and how it all ends.  And I know He hurts for us but rejoices with her.  And somehow, reading this story of Lazarus, comforts me this morning.  Makes me feel like everything really is okay.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mama,

There's so much... so very, very much... going on that I wish I could talk to you about.  How I miss your voice of reason in my ear every day!

Last week marked a year without you.  Everyone is always saying, "Once that first year is out of the way, it gets easier."  But I don't think that's true.  Maybe the second Christmas and birthday without you won't be so painful, but what about the first time Madalyn goes shopping for a prom dress or the first time David gets his heart broken?  What about those firsts that will come long after the first year is over?  Those are the firsts when I will need you most, when I will miss you most, when I will long to hear your voice again.  No, I don't believe missing you will ever get easier.

I got a new cell phone, and I thought I would lose your message I had saved from so long ago.  But last night I discovered that it was still there.  Madalyn wanted to hear it, so I put it on speaker, and we relished the moment.  And then she said to keep it forever.

I think we are all doing okay.  We are all still learning how to be in this world without you, Mama.  Oh how things have changed.  I find myself so intolerant of things I was once so patient with, the trivial things of life.  I am not nearly as afraid to speak up for myself or my children.  What do I have to lose?  You showed me true courage, and so I am trying to embrace it.  I just know that my life is forever changed without you in it.

I find it hard to talk about my grief with anyone else but dad.  Truth is, I don't want to share it with anyone.  I hang on to it, this final connection to you.  A shrink would tell me that I must find a way to talk about how much I miss you, but I don't care.  I will do this my way, much like I do everything else.  You were like that, too.

I wonder what you're doing now.  Maybe you're tidying up and preparing a spot for all of us to join you.  Maybe you're planting some flowers.  I don't know.  I ask Jesus to give you a hug sometimes when I talk to him, and I believe that He honors my request.  I still see you in the birds.  I always will.

 I love you still and always will.

Forever your daughter...