Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Emotional crisis.

Almost 5 months... and still counting, every week, every day, every minute.

The month of January has been a month of long, drawn out, constant emotional crisis. I am so thankful for the grief resources that write about the complexities of emotions in grief, the accumulation of multiple losses, the strain of living in a non-grief society...  I can honestly say that this month, I have experienced just about every emotion on the Grief Share devotional's list, pretty much all the time, pretty much at the same time...

Denial, rejection, guilt, anger, jealousy, fear, pain, loss, sorrow, apathy, rage, confusion, anxiety, sadness, inadequacy, envy, dread, anguish, betrayal, distrust, loneliness, helplessness, disappointment, resentment, vindictiveness, depression, bitterness, dismay, abandonment, and lack of control.  (Not sure about vindictiveness...)

No more the five simple stages of grief!! (Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, in no specific order. *Kubler-Ross model, Wikipedia)  The list is much larger and more complex!  The emotions become entangled with each other, past hurts lumped in with present hurts, and the depths to which grief reaches continues to expand, deepen, and widen, threatening to overtake my whole being, certainly my life.

I have not coped well this month. I became "unglued" to the point of not recognizing myself, which scared me and only encouraged my emotional anxieties...

I could engage with the long list of reasons why this month has been harder than others, what factors have impacted my "emotional well-being" or lack thereof... But it would be a meaningless journey of nothingness :)  Some of them may pop up on my blog over time, but for now, it would not be "beneficial" to discuss ( use one of Lynn's words when discerning whether to confront or not confront certain issues on a more "public" level.)

In short, being the grieving person... sucks.  Can I say that?  It sucks.  And I have recognized the still small voice, calling me back into a stillness and rest, saying, Remember what I told you? Remember the year?  Stop taking burdens, heavy loads onto yourself when you are broken and weak.  Rest in me and let me be a guard around your heart.  Trust Me to bring you to healing and wholeness.  No one can do it but Me.  

The bittersweet nature of having so many loving and caring people in my life, is that they all need me to help them help me.  This is something I can no longer try to do.  It is impossible, (on a scale involving hundreds of people).  I am laying it down.  I need people, but I cannot bear the burden of helping them help me...  Perhaps I'll write more on that another time.

So, I am pulling back a little bit.  I am withdrawing from the masses I appreciate and dearly love.  I am trying to accept the fact that I cannot yet engage with the church where we were in ministry together and with the vast networks of people that Lynn and I so enjoyed growing and fellowshipping with...  This is another layer of loss for me.  Another way Lynn's death continue's to impact my life... I cannot stay connected, on my own, to so many people.  I have to choose a smaller life that I can more reasonably manage...

The snowball effect of Lynn's death continues to roll over into new layers of depth and brokenness.  I am weak and burned out.  I need my few.  And I need to rest.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The few.

I recently opened a devotional* and read, God is "a very present help in times of trouble."  (from Psalm 46:1)  This ministers to me, but not in the way it used to.  I recognize, now, the need for those around me who will make this a tangible reality in my life...  An ever present help in times of trouble...

I am learning that, in a time of such brokenness, in the midst of catastrophic loss, a person needs not only the masses, the local body, the church at large, but the few.  I needed to ask myself,  Who are the few?  Who are the few who will come alongside and be ever present in my time of trouble?  

This is not a job for everyone.  It is a different ministry than that of the masses. I cannot have 400+ people engaging up close in my suffering, no matter how loving and wonderful they are!  This is not about church ministry, it is about friendship.  It is about a deeper fellowship.  It is about a higher commitment to suffering that says, I am in this with you.  When you suffer, I suffer.  You may not know what you need, I may not know what to say, but I am here for the long haul.  I am here every day.  I am here to make sure you get out of bed in the morning.  I am here to bring you coffee.  I am here to play with your children so you get a break.  I am here to listen, and to pray.  I am here to be strong when you are weak.  I am committed to holding you up and walking you through this every step of the way until we reach the other side.  

Is this kind of fellowship possible?  Does it exist?  How many of us have longed for it?  How many of us have longed to move beyond the pleasantries, to tear down pretences, to scream and rage in our loss with someone who stands by till the end?  How many of us long for what Jerry Sittser calls, a community of brokenness, the kind of community that seems to reflect God's heart for his beloved bride...  We long for it, but we forget... that it comes at a cost!!!!!

Jerry writes: find a community of brokenness, it requires a choice on the part of those who want to provide a community for suffering friends.  They must be willing to be changed by someone else's loss, though they might not have been directly affected by it.  Good comfort requires empathy, forces adjustments, and sometimes mandates huge sacrifices.  Comforters must be prepared to let the pain of another become their own and so let it transform them.  They will never be the same after that decision.  Their own world will be permanently altered by the presence of one who suffers.  It will bring an end to detachment, control, and convenience.  It will prevent them from ever thinking again that the world is a safe place full of nice people, positive experiences, and favourable circumstances.

No one can be that for everyone.  But are you that for someone?  Do you still adhere to the belief that the world is a safe place full of nice people, positive experiences, and favourable circumstances? If so, you are missing out!  You are missing out on the fellowship of his sufferings. (Philippians 3:10)

I know that someday, when I have walked this journey to the other side, holding the hands of those who stepped forward as my few, that together we will rejoice in the depths we have seen and known and experienced together.  And we will be ready for the next journey of suffering, the next sister or brother to link arms with in a time of great need, and say, Now rest!  We will be strong when you are weak!  We will hold you up!  We will lead you, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to the other side, from glory to glory, from step to step on the narrow path through the narrow gate, in the way everlasting... FOR HIS NAME'S SAKE!!!!!!!

Be blessed my friends.

*Streams in the Desert, by Mrs. Charles Cowman, (Thank you Uncle Weldon and Aunt Brenda!).

Monday, January 21, 2013


The why question is a big one.  I try not to entertain it.  I avoid it at all costs, knowing it ends nowhere.  But some days, I cannot escape it. Like suddenly being forced to look at your own reflection in a mirror... Today, Alea was holding the mirror.

The girls are playing house again, talking about how "the dad" died.  Roya is "fake" crying for her "pretend" dad, and Alea, (apparently the Mom this time), starts comforting her.  My shoulders tense... I'm in the kitchen preparing toppings for a gluten-free pizza for supper...  The play starts moving out of "house" and into "real". I've been dreading this one... I hear Alea comforting Roya, telling Roya that Daddy will be back, just as Roya used to comfort her...  He's coming back.  I know she believes this.  She prays at every meal, and help my Daddy... At first she thought he was lost, and screamed many hours at night fearing for him, unable to verbalize her thoughts.  Later, she understood he was safe with Jesus and not lost (which I assume came from overhearing adults use the phrase lost your father).

My girls can only comprehend so much about death.  Young children are protected by their youth and gradually realize the depth and finality of their loss.  Alea had not yet understood the finality of death, just as Roya had not when it first happened.  We moved beyond this "stage" with Roya, but my 3 year old was just getting there.  I knew, with the heavy weight returning to bear over my body, as Alea verbalized her genuine belief that Daddy was returning, I had to tell her the truth...

So I take her aside and look into her eyes, and say, No Alea. Daddy is not coming back.  She hears me, as though her greatest fears are being discovered, and sobs... real cries of new and fresh awareness, new grief.  Here we are again, back to the couch, my daughters huddled on my lap, reading children's books about death and dying.  I'm trying to explain heaven, trying to help Alea understand that her Daddy cannot come back.  Why? Alea sobs. Over and over, she asks Why?  So I talk them through it again, tell them what happened, bring out the "human body" book, tell it as honestly and literally as possible so their imaginations do not imagine the worst... Alea is broken over her Daddy's broken heart. Why? She keeps asking. Why won't my Daddy's heart work!?!

Why?  My reservoir of answers is exhausted and the question remains. Why? Why does my four year old tell me she doesn't like herself, that she wants to die?  Why does my 3 year old fear her own heart malfunctioning and entering into some scary abyss called death that she cannot wrap her head around?  Why when others are celebrating their families, enjoying anniversaries, welcoming new babies... Why when fathers bend down to love on their children, is there no father for mine?  Why did God see us worthy of this higher calling called grief? Why did he see my daughters so worthy of fear, loss, loneliness, and self-doubt? Why must I bear this burden alone, when every other wife my age is complaining that their husband doesn't do the dishes, or plays hockey too much, or doesn't read her mind and understand all the feelings of her heart?  Why am I somehow worthy to be shocked into brutal awareness of blessing and loss, life and death, sorrow and grief?

There it is. Alea held up the mirror and forced me to see the question reflected in my own heart as well as hers. A question for which there are no answers... Why?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Learning to live.

Is it something about having young children?  or is it just me?  Does life really move forward this fast?

I wake up in the morning and the day says, Choose life! Choose joy! Learn to live again!  But every step forward is a step further away from the past. This grieves my soul.  Still, I am learning that to live in my loss, to stay in the past, to NOT move forward, results in a death far more devastating than Lynn's, the death of a soul that is still free to choose...

I have set before you life... now choose life! (Deut 30:15)

My understanding of loss continues to grow and expand with each new day, along with my understanding of life.  I MUST live and choose life in the through.  My loss cannot define me or my daughters, but nor can I escape it.  It will be always be there, the stump in our backyard, shaping us, changing us, bringing a depth of sorrow to our existence and a deeper understanding of life...

I am also learning that to live again requires love, requires learning to love again.  

In some ways I feel much braver than ever before.  There is a sense in which I know how short life can be and desire to live it to the full... But then I also know the risk involved in loving, the pain of loss. I physically shake over the brokenness and vulnerability such a loss brings...  I don't wonder or fear the distant, hypothetical possibility of death.  I know it.  I've lived it.  I've tasted the reality of death and know it could happen to anyone at any time.  So do I dare love again?  Do I dare pour my love into my children, my family, my friends, knowing that they too could die?  Any moment of any day?  Do I risk the devastation of another loss that could come into my life?  Do I risk love?

But learning to live again requires love.  To stop living... that is not an option.  So the risk is inevitable.  As the soul grows, love deepens.  As love deepens, risk skyrockets.  Loss becomes even more painful after death...*  

*More inspired thoughts from Jerry Sittser's incredible book, A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The stump.

Jerry Sittser writes of another profound image in his book, A Grace Disguised, about a tree stump.  He writes that grief is like a tree stump in your backyard... It used to be a tall, glorious tree, filling out the space with its lofty branches and greenery.  But now it is a stump.  At first, all a person can see is the stump in their backyard... a constant reminder of what used to be there.  But, slowly and surely, they begin to look around, plant some flowers, and other trees that blossom and bloom... The stump becomes an important masterpiece in the midst of a lush and thriving garden...

Right now, on my journey, I feel overcome with grief.  I feel overcome by death... I see the stump in my backyard, the death of all that was, that used to be, all that was lost in the death of my greatest blessing... the grand tree that stood tall and proud, and others came to marvel in its shade... :)  I feel like I am transitioning into some new stage... some unwanted "progression" that points me toward a new life... new seeds... a growing garden.

This may not make any sense, but I am committed to honesty for the sake of others, so here it goes... In this season of transition, I find my head spinning, grappling with past, present, and future, grasping for some certainty, some understanding, some comprehension...  My life is moving forward, but my world is radically different.  Lynn's life was complete, finished, no regrets or unfinished business... while my life is left undone, unresolved, in constant flux, unfinished.  My heart loves Lynn in the present.  The girls and I will hold him closely in our future.  Yet, we will only know him in our past (earthly speaking...).

As a Christian, I grapple with God's sovereignty over my life, leading me, planning and preparing me,  mixed with the shock and trauma of catastrophic loss.  Circumstances like, for years I prayed for a miracle, that God would lead us into financial freedom, I got down on my knees and begged God to make a way for us to be in His will and still be debt free... Now I am in a more stable financial position than we ever were before...  My prayers were answered?  There was a dream, not yet shared, that Lynn had as a child... We fought off the beasts that came at us from the forest, side by side, until Lynn stood back and I went on alone, conquering the final beast by myself... 

When my head is spinning with all of these details, I find myself zeroing in on the stump in my backyard.  It doesn't make any sense.  I want to understand it.  Why is there a stump in my backyard in place of my tree?  What was the sense in cutting it down?  

God is a great Gardener... He is calling me to move, just a step, beyond the stump. To look around my backyard and (at least be willing) to plant some seeds.  I see the Holy Spirit, lightly dancing/working around my yard, (like the character depicted in The Shack, by William P. Young). No matter what, despite everything, in all circumstances, God gives life to everything.

The stump is an essential part of my story.  I wish I could understand it, but I can't.  Knowing that God can use it, can bring good out of it, doesn't help.  It offers purpose, but does not ease the pain of catastrophic loss.  The stump will always be there, but my garden will grow... Someday my yard will be lush and green and thriving.  The stump will sit, perfectly accentuated by the surrounding artistry, masterfully designed by my great Savior and King...

Thursday, January 10, 2013



The winter seems barren and desolate.  I have long wondered how I would cope through the cold winter months... Now, being in them, I find myself asking the same question... How do I cope?

God has called me to this barren land, to embrace the pain, to enter in and do the work of grief...  I hear Him whisper, Remain faithful to me, my daughter.  Remain faithful to the perilous task of grieving, to the pilgrimage you are on... for I will accomplish my purposes in you. 

Yesterday, I faced the dreaded task this winter brings... packing.  I opened a drawer and sobbed into three shirts while the girls ran circles around me laughing and playing... Pretend you're the girl and I'm making rainbow soup!  No, I'm the Mom and you can be the princess.  Pretend I made the soup and now we're going to the sea!  - Mama sobbing into Daddy's shirts has apparently become a commonplace event in our "new normal" :) They didn't skip a beat!

The shirts remain on my bed. The box in my room stays empty.  How can I pack away my husband's things?  How can I look into my bedroom closet and not see Lynn's colorful array of ties and worn belts?  How can I open my drawers and find them empty of his belongings?  How can I face my front closet without the comfort of his coats hanging there alongside my own?  Ugh. Dreadful packing... I've decided that I may be able to manage the task at a rate of one sock a week... But even then, it feels completely unbearable and makes me want to scream in agony.  I don't want to say goodbye!   

There are so many ways I'd like to avoid the pain.  So many opportunities our culture affords for distraction.  That seems our typical response to pain after all,  Have some distraction!  Take a pill!  Turn on the TV!

But God has called me to the wilderness for an express purpose...

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there... a door of hope; she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth... And it shall be, in that day, says the Lord, That you will call Me 'My Husband'... I will betroth you to Me forever.  Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to me in faithfulness and you shall know the Lord. (Hosea 2:14-20)

As I look ahead toward empty drawers and closets in the many months to come, I feel like I am stripped of everything I hold dear... Paul's words haunt me, But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ... (Phil 3:7)

If I can remain faithful on this path, I know it leads to abundant life.  But to gain abundant life in Him, is to count all things loss...  to let go... to lose my life and find it in Him... to be stripped of all that I hold dear...

Can I do it?  Can I endure these long winter months?  Will winter end and spring arrive?  and a door of hope be opened?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Way.

Somehow, God's mercy has led me through another tunnel of despair.  I am back on the road of "healthy" brokenness, my feet pointed towards glory, the Holy Spirit as my guide, leading me in the Way...

The Way...  I recently watched this movie, starring Martin Sheen, about a father who mourns the sudden death of his son by finishing The way of St. James, a great pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, El Camino de Santiago. (*Google search)

Tom (Martin Sheen's character) carries his sons ashes in a box attached to his pack and pushes himself forward, doing the work of grief as he puts one foot in front of the other, walking somewhere around 200km, maybe more?

The work of grief...  The english dictionary says that grief is a noun, but I am quite certain it is incorrect.  It is most definitely a verb, requiring specific and intentional action.  It is a pilgrimage.  A journey upward towards the call to abundant life, towards the life that we are all called to live in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am struck, however, by the various characters in the story, each with their own losses, dreams, and purposes... Together they walk, and take respite in the small villages and towns along the way...

Grief allows for these periods of respite.  Seasons of distraction, light-heartedness, coping mechanisms...  But how tempting would it be to camp out in one of these adorable villages, drink wine and eat with beautiful people, and lay a blanket over the past, over grief, over the pilgrimage onward...

I find that my mind plays tricks on me during my periods of respite.  It seeks to forget the pain and grief and seems to say, Camp out here for a while!  This is a wonderful life!  It will not disappoint!  Look at the opportunities ahead!  Life can be better than ever!  These words sound mysteriously similar to Satan's attempt at wooing Jesus in desert...  Leave your pilgrimage towards death, pain, and suffering!  Bow down to me and I will give you everything!!

Grief is hard, exhausting, devastating work.  It is a wilderness season to be sure... But it is the Way everlasting. And it does lead to abundant life.

Father, help me enter into this pilgrimage of grief, allowing the Holy Spirit to stretch and grow my soul so that I do not live a diluted, North American, prosperity driven version of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but instead share in the fellowship of his sufferings, invite death, pain, and suffering into my life knowing full well that Jesus will rise again in the midst of it, bringing healing and light and transformation... the fulness of salvation in Christ Jesus my Lord, the abundant life of joy and perfect love and true contentment in Him...

...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)

Father! Lead me in the Way everlasting!

Monday, January 7, 2013


Words.  Words.  Words.

I remember when my friend, Shannon, was driving me home from the hospital that night... She said,  Ummm... So, I've never done this before...  I looked at her and said, Neither have I!

Grief has been a big learning curve, to say the least.  Our society does not welcome death as a part of its culture. It does not teach us how to grieve, individually or in community with one another. Grief ends up feeling awkward, outside of our comfort zone, beyond the realm of what is familiar...

It is difficult for loved ones who don't know what to say or how to say it, what to do or when to do it, especially when I don't know either... I have touched on this before. It is an undeniable part of this process for everyone.

A very sweet couple, Harold and Rowena Boone, parents to some of my closest friends, passed along a book called, Letter to a Grieving Heart, by Billy Sprague. The first chapter is entitled, Beyond Words. 

He writes:
I am so sorry you have to face life with this kind of wound.  I don't have any answers or magic words.  In fact I would rather sit or walk with you for a silent hour than fill your ears with words that ring hollow and fall so short of real comfort.  I would rather do your dishes. Or restock your refrigerator.  Or write out the checks to pay your bills, answer your phone, or take care of other mundane details.  I would rather listen to you tell me all the things you love about the person you are missing so much.  Or light a fire in your fireplace and make you something warm to drink. Or read the Psalms to you.  Or bring you a pot of homemade soup.  I would rather sleep on the floor by your bed so when you wake up in agony, someone is there...  No one can talk away the pain.  Grief drains most words of their power anyway...

I cannot read this paragraph without my eyes filling with tears.  All of his words ring true for me.  I wish I had been better prepared for grief... I wish I had been better able to verbalize what I needed when I needed it, for the sake of my relationships.  I hope that sharing this offers comfort and revelation to someone else in grief, and understanding to others who long to express their love and care but don't know how...

Words are empty in the face of catastrophic loss.  Only the Holy Spirit can infuse a word with hope and power and life in the presence of devastating grief.  A grieving mind and heart is bubbling and boiling inside, creating pressure, a need to release, a heart desperate to be shared... heard.  When someone is speaking to me, I still struggle most of the time to concentrate long enough to hear what is being said.  I want to hear... but my mind is so weighed down, exhausted, saturated with pain, that I cannot understand what is being said to me.

As time continues to pass, as I try to keep up with society and act "normal", my heart is brimming with tears that are anxious to overflow with all of the memories, thoughts, and feelings I have about my beloved husband and his death...  I am discovering that I need someone to listen... 

I have many friends with whom I can do what I just mentioned...  I hope this post is an encouragement to others who grieve and need to know that it is okay to share your heart and talk about the person you love, and to others who want to know how to be there, how to offer comfort, how to show you care...  Listen.  Listen with your heart.  And be willing to grieve.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A time to pray.

The turn of the calendar seems to have had a substantial impact on me emotionally. As my friend said, A page has turned.  And with it, a blanket of despair was laid over my soul.

I remember in one of Beth Moore's Bible Studies, learning the difference between brokenness and demoralization.  Brokenness always leads us to intimacy when demoralization keeps us on the couch watching TV...

The heavy blanket of despair that covers my soul feels demoralizing and debilitating.  It carries with it a sense of hopeless loss, with no motivation for tomorrow.  What joy lies in tomorrow?  What joy lies in the present?  The blanket of despair would seek to isolate me in my loneliness, cover me in darkness, and fill my soul with hopelessness.  The enemy would use despair in loss to re-install the veil that lies between me and the intimate presence of my Saviour and deepest friend, the veil that was torn when Jesus died on the cross to rise again and conquer death and shame and all hopeless losses...

I am deeply wounded over my loss.  It gets harder, not easier.  My reality gets uglier, not prettier.  My dreams are erased, hope seems dashed among the rocks, and waves tear at my soul...  I feel brutalized, even vandalized.  There is a terrifying randomness to loss*, a harsh reality of isolation.  Even in the light of Christ, death has the audacity to mock, sneer, and lurk in the doorways and hallways...

The time to pray has come.  Before now I have been carried.  I have prayed with no words, with little to no ability to speak out the anguish in my heart.  I have prayed the name of Jesus.  Jesus.  Jesus...  My faith has been firm and unshakeable... But my heart...  Faith must lead to healing, but healing from catastrophic loss does not come easily.

To have faith is one thing.  To be healed is another.  

The time to pray has come.  I am a worshiper.  I am an intercessor.  I am a warrior princess in Christ, a daughter of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  I WILL storm the gates of heaven.  I WILL pray when I want to slump.  I WILL beat my body into submission... (1 Cor 9:27) and force my feet forward, one step at a time.  

I can no longer ride the storm.  Today, I am drowning.  It is time to pick up the oars and get to work.  I have no strength.  Little to no motivation.  Little to no hope, except the notion that God's Word is true and does not return back to Him void... He WILL accomplish His purposes in my life. (Jer 29:11f)  He WILL complete the work He started in my life. (Phil 1:6) He WILL lead me in the way everlasting for His name's sake... (Psalm 139:24)

So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.  (Isaiah 55:11)

*A Grace Disguised, by Jerry Sittser

Friday, January 4, 2013

Open eyes, the gift of faith.

I can still picture him, standing tall in his leather jacket, hands stuffed in his pockets, the warmth from his breath mixing with the bitter cold night air, a night sky landscaped in the background...

I don't understand, Lynn.  Your *** is dying.  How are you so calm?  Why don't you seem more upset?  Are you sure this is faith?  Are you sure you aren't just in some kind of denial?

In those first few months, when I was just beginning to know the man I would love and marry, I remember searching his heart, his face, his eyes... Is this real?  Is it possible to have that kind of faith?  To approach life with such calm assurance and confidence that God is good and in control.  To be so steadfast and enduring, always seeing with eyes of faith, always lifting his eyes up to the hills, where he knew his help would always come... (Psalm 121)

For 11 years, I wrestled with my faith as I battled fibromyaligia, was prayed over and anointed with oil, and heard all kinds of opinions about faith and healing and God... Lynn stood beside me as a constant.  He wasn't dramatic about faith.  It was no big deal.  He just believed and lived and trusted.

The Lord keeps in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3)

There was one particular season of our college choir days, after we were married, when we stood in the back together, side by side.  I was very weak physically.  Lynn would cup his hand outward towards me and I would put my fist into it, literally leaning on him, being held up by him, so I wouldn't faint in the middle of a concert.

His faith was always like that for me.  A strength.  A support.  I still questioned it at times, and was maybe right on some occasions... Are you dealing with this Lynn?  Is this really faith?  I remember challenging him one time in particular and he shouted at me, You think you know me better than I know myself?!  (There was nothing Lynn hated more than being told what he thought or was or meant...) Of course, I said, Yes, Lynn.  I do.  I'm your wife.  (Even though I was probably wrong...)

Lynn lived with eyes open to see God in all people, places, and circumstances.  I watched him wrestle through many challenges.  We struggled in ministry much more than we let on (I hope).  Lynn was rarely open about those struggles, but they were there and real.  And I saw, especially in the last year, his steady endurance, planting his feet into the ground, over and over remaining faithful to the call, using self-disciplne, choosing integrity...  I was so proud of him in our last year together and felt that we were just starting to rise above some of the inner struggles and spiritual battles...  He was just starting to step into his true calling with assurance, awareness, and anointing.  His eyes were always looking up, seeing God, choosing life, and because of that, he went from glory to glory to glory...

There is so much peace in the shadow of God's sovereignty.  There is so much freedom in truth.

Just months before Lynn's death, Lynn did something he had never done before.  He sent me a song that he had come across and felt that God was speaking it over our family.  He was specific and intentional about us receiving this message as a family from the Lord.  I came across that e-mail again after his death and felt a rush of supernatural joy wash over me.  Even now, I cried, you are lifting me up, holding me up, leading our family in the Way the Truth and the Life.  It was one more example of the Lord knowing and preparing and taking care of us through this time of loss...

Soveriegn Over Us, by Aaron Keys

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A New Year.

It's a new year.

Four months ago, my world exploded. I saw and touched my husband's dead body, called and told his mother her son had died, talked my children through the news of their father's sudden death, planned and celebrated his "celebration of life" service, hosted many of Lynn's family members and other family friends, spent hours being kicked and screamed at by my scared and confused daughters, met with lawyers and bankers about all kinds of "after death" details, spent hours on the phones changing account after account...

In the last month, I have pushed through too many firsts.  I have had my 29th birthday, our 9th anniversary, Christmas services at our church, Christmas Eve (though I didn't make it to the service and sent my brother and daughters on without me), Christmas Day, all the post Christmas family gatherings, and now... New Years.

A new year...

How can I possibly comprehend the changes in my life over the last four months?  December was like riding in the back of a truck, feeling the bumps, the wind on my face, trusting the driver, but keeping my eyes closed.  Now that I am home and away from family and all the diversions they bring during our visits, reality is a like a firm punch in the gut.  A cold burning...  The canon ball has dropped once again into the pit of my stomach.  I no longer have the sacred bubble of grief those first few months afforded.  I can no longer linger in the comforting warmth of denial.  I find myself standing in the middle of nowhere, in the dead of winter, snow covering all that was once familiar and warm, bitter winds tearing at my face and arms and legs...

A new year...

I have tried to be hopeful and positive about the year to come, to rejoice with the world as the calendar turns once again, unveiling a clean slate, an empty canvas, a new today.  I have meetings to book, schedules to make, budgets to create for 2013. There are goals to set, words to write, songs to sing, and progress to be had...

But I feel stricken to my knees at the brutal awareness of Lynn's absence.  What is a clean slate when it is empty of any hope of seeing my husband ever again?

How do I cope with a new year?  With all that is lost?  The terrifying canvas before me laughs at me with its gleaming whiteness.  It mocks me with its limitless scope of possibility... What will you do to me, 2013??  Where will you take me?  Will there be anything familiar or comprehensible or good?

If there was any way for me to avoid taking the path that God has put in front of me, I fear that I would take it.  I would shy away, cower at the pain that lies ahead, in every step, in every breath, in every change.  O Father, if it is at all possible, let this cup pass from me! (Matt 26:39)  Before me lies a great death.  A death of myself, of all that I was, all that we were, of all that we had hoped and dreamed.  Planning a new life in a new year is like burying my husband in the ground, one shovel of dirt at a time.

I am angry.  sorrowful.  grieved.  bereaved.

But You are the author of my story.  You hold the paintbrush that touches my canvas with heavenly strokes...  My bottom line is, and (by God's mercy and grace) always will be... Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.

Oh, God help me.