Saturday, September 27, 2014

The best is yet to come.

It is hard to believe that this season is coming to a close. I have made vulnerable the journey of tremendous grief, my ups and my downs... You have watched me make mistakes, and then in Christ experience beautiful victories and glorious riches.

There is a lot I didn't get to write, didn't get to share, but time has brought me to this point, where I am changing position from widow to wife, from bereaved to beloved, from broken to being restored...

I am richly blessed, though a sea of grief and pain still washes over the base of my soul, and life everlasting continues to flow, overtaking me slowly but surely, making all things new...

How does one walk into a completely different life than they had once known and loved?

I count all things as loss, and I lay hold of Christ, who is my rock and my fortress, a sure foundation, my stronghold and everlasting God.

I know I am entering a new beginning... I know I am being restored... I know I am blessed and cared for by Almighty God.

My dearest Brent, I cannot wait to marry you in two weeks from today. It will be the beginning of another grand adventure. The best is yet to come...

Please note: This is the end of my journey as recorded on this blog. After the wedding, I will start something new, for a new season and a new life...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Ten Thousand Reasons

The music began as the congregation stood to their feet. The familiar tune rang in my ears and in my spirit. I thought, of course. Of course, this song. Today. 

I pulled myself up somewhat awkwardly, holding the wooden pew in front of me, seated in the second row on the left, with no one to separate or hide or hinder me from seeing and experiencing the full proclamation of this song...

The girls moved and shifted to my left, and I turned mechanically to tend to them, but Brent had already seen to it and they gladly climbed up into his arms. Brent is here. My heart tightened in my chest. It was our one Sunday in July when Brent was able to be with us on PEI, see our church, and meet our family and friends on the island. My heart churned within me as we explored what would maybe become... our new family.

The sounds swelled in the large room with high ceilings. I closed my eyes. Bless the Lord, Oh my soul! Oh my soul! Worship His holy name... 

The memories danced in my spirit, of Lynn leading the worship team in Truro, teaching them this song, seeing how it became a part of our congregational voice of praise, declaring Bless the Lord... Sing like never before, Oh my soul! I'll worship his holy name!

Then images of darkness beckoned me to the place of Lynn's funeral, where I had stood broken and bereaved, having created a funeral service of worship that would bless God and honor Lynn's heart of praise, and yet there having to stand and sing before the coffin of his dead body... Even there, we sang, with tears streaming down our faces, Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me, Let me be singing when the evening comes...

As grief overtook my life, day after day became weighted down with fears, concerns, unbearable emptiness, loneliness, and exhaustion. Still, everywhere I went, I would hear this song and in bitter agony wonder, Why on earth did I choose a popular worship chorus to be sung at my husband's funeral!?!?! But of course, I knew the answer. It was very intentional. A constant reminder of my good and great God, who was and is and always will be worthy of my praise and utmost devotion...  I knew He was with me. I listened as His word spoke to my heart. And in grace, by faith, I trusted in Him fully, that He would move heaven and earth to accomplish his purposes, for his glory, and come to my rescue.

For all Your goodness I will keep on singing, Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find!

There, in that service, and others since that day, I have stood mesmerized by the grace and goodness of the Almighty God, Holy Spirit, and Jesus my Saviour. My God who is three and one.  That he had been present in the praises of His people when Lynn and I worshipped and led... That he had been present with extravagant grace in the praises of a broken widow, a single mom, not knowing how to make everything work out right... That He had been present in the making of a new way, a new life, a new family, bringing about a new thing, making streams of water to flow in the desert, and waters to run in the wilderness (Is 43).

Sweet children of God, to exalt the King of Kings, no matter the circumstance, beckons his glory. For a child to put his/her trust in the goodness of Father God, despite death, or evil, or pain, or wickedness... this summons the supernatural provision of a fiercely loving God who longs for opportunities to reveal His heart! He cannot help Himself, but show up in an atmosphere of extravagant praise, with extravagant grace and divine glory.

Did I not say that if you believe me, you will see the glory of God? John 11:40   

Oh God, your grace envelops me. Your Presence has never left me. Your goodness has captivated my heart, and I will never bow down to any other God but You.

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore , *Matt Redman

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Two years.

My thoughts are too numerous to list these days. SOOOO much change overlapping SOOOO much memory... 
Leaving my island, embarking on a grand new adventure...
In a one-week-turn-around, we listed our home on PEI, packed up the essentials, and "moved" to Sussex, NB to be there for the beginning of the school year.
We had our super fun annual family camping trip at Mactaquac Provincial Park

Alea conquering the KU annual slip and slide
We arrived Sunday night, the 31st, to officially start moving in (meaning officially kicking Brent out...) and joining the KU family, made up of many old and new friends.

Roya was quite excited to join Esther Maskery (and others) on the annual slip and slide, but Alea would not budge without Mama! So, despite the terrible traction of wearing jeans, we did it!!

The KU annual slip and slide holds another memory when Lynn (as he later shared) had first made note of his interest in me. He was acting student council president at the time, a junior, and I was a new freshman. I often heard him tell the story of when he watched me and Sasha (Blaikie) Labonte go down with such grace and poise :) 

There wasn't quite as much poise this time... But maybe a little grace?? And this time, we were followed by "Daddy Brent" and Nathan Maskery running and sliding, competing to get the most epic air time over the bump...

Roya's first day of Grade 1 at Sussex Christian School!!
Alea's first day of Kindergarten at Sussex Christian School!!
Roya and Alea started school today at SCS! They have expertly maneuvered these last few weeks of change, moving, camping, taking in university life!! They are so beautiful and ready to thrive :) I am so proud of them!

Brent came to pick us up for the official first day of school drop off :) He was an expert Daddy, and the girls are completely comfortable and secure in his presence. We went upstairs afterward to pay and sign paperwork. Brent signed as father in all the appropriate places...

1st KU chapel service kicking off Fall 2014
After dropping off the girls, it was time for the Fall kick off KU chapel service! I tried to stay in the back and take it all in, but I couldn't quite contain the emotions of the day...

Lynn died on September 2, 2012, two years ago today. And here I am. Back in this place, where we met, dated, where he proposed, where we first lived and served as a married couple... Here is where we were nurtured together in the word and in fellowship, preparing for a lifetime of surrender and service to God, and to the body of Christ...

Lynn and I sat in on early planning meetings for the design of this chapel building, and in less than 40 days, I will be getting married here in this very room.

There are so many of the staff and faculty here who love and care for us, who have known me since I had first arrived on campus in 2001. But there are new friends as well. My neighbour, Angie, came to walk to chapel with me, keeping me company on an emotional day... Her husband Dave approached as I was seated, and without even saying hello, put his arm around me and spoke a powerful prayer of grace and glory over this day.

Oliver Locke is here :) Mairi MacPherson is here :) and others who knew and loved Lynn as we served together in Truro.

And here I am... all worlds crashing together into one... With a man of God who loves and cares for us well. A new family being born.

So many incredible blessings, and yet each echoed by a cry of loss.

My brain is mush today, while my mind stubbornly exhausts its effort to untangle the great mysteries of life which are impossible to grasp...

Time moves forward. Seasons change. Life changes forever... All things are counted loss (Phil 3:7) and yet some things are never lost... 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A tribute to my daughters.

I sat outside on my front porch, hot ginger tea in hand, with a thick blanket around my legs... Watching the water, the sun going down. Waiting for the car to arrive... I LOVE this season when the air gets a little cooler, the sun is still warm on our faces, but we need to wrap up a little tighter in a cozy sweater and a warm blanket for the evening. :)

Finally, Mom and Dad come around the corner and turn the car into the driveway, with two tired fussy girls crying out from the backseat... Mommy! Mommy!

Oh, my daughters!!! After a week apart, (while they were in Moncton at VBS and staying with Aunt Melissa), nothing could keep me from celebrating these little hands wrapped around my neck and shoulders, both little bums sitting up on either hip and in my arms, their sweet high-pitched voices pouring out all their earthly woes (as life is so terribly difficult for a spoiled 4-year old...) :)

It was only last week that I worried I might throw them out a window and lock all the doors, so incredibly weary I was of all the fighting, and the wining, the messes, the disobedience, etc, etc :) But all I need is a couple days to unwind and be ready to go again... This was longer than I had intended... I am so accustomed to having them with me!

My mothers heart is overflowing with emotion as we pack up to leave this island home. This is a place of great nostalgia for me, the place of my own childhood paradise, where as cousins we played on the farm from morning till night, enjoying the beaches, the hay bails, the animals, each other... 

But even more than that... This is a place where I bonded with these little munchkins in a deep and profound way. Where we learned how to live and function as a family unit of three... Three grieving women. Emotional. Dramatic. Intelligent. Princess warriors... Each unique, and yet secure in our bond as one. 

These girls of mine have seen me fall completely apart, dissolve into uncontrollable sobs. They have seen me weep and grieve, unable to get out of bed. They have witnessed the torrents of stress and pressure come pounding on my head so that I fall to my knees and break out into screams of pain and agony. AND, we've had "fights" where all three of us end up losing it, stomping off to our bedrooms, and all three of us slamming the bedroom door. :) Yup, it's true. If you can't beat 'em. Join 'em :) (That's not actual wisdom, by the way... Just a sorry excuse for my very bad, childish behaviour!)

They have cried and been scared. They have taken advantage of my grief at times, and played into it to get their own way. And they have also comforted me. Even taken care of me at times. Alea loved to play the caring doctor while I was resting in bed. She would come in about every 30 seconds with a new concoction of play dough medicine, take my temperature, check my heart beat... And just last week, Roya being the grown-up that she is, said in a calm and kind voice, "Momma? I think Alea understands how hard this has been for you. Do you think that maybe you need to take a time out? Maybe, when we get to Aunt Melissa's, she'll let you take one?"

We have had countless snuggle times. No matter how good or bad the day had been, we leaned on each other, shared a Bible story before bed, tried to pray together but it didn't always go well... We sometimes built (we as in Roya...) nests in the living room where we would crawl into mounds of pillows and cushions, gathered from all over the house, to snuggle and read stories, or watch a movie... And our personal favourite is the rare occasion when we get in our jammies, crawl into the car, and drive to the beach for Bible Story and hot chocolate by the water. 

Sunday evening, I brought the girls to Camp Seggie, the Baptist Campground right around the corner from us, and registered them for Day Camp. They've only been home a day, I thought, I'm sure they'll want to sleep in their own beds for a few days before the move, and have some mommy-time. Oh no. No day camp for my girls. One look at those cabins and they were staying put. Mommy, it's a REAL camp!! It's my FIRST time!!!! Of course I didn't want to admit it, but right now I'm so emotional about this move, that everything in me wanted to get down on my knees and beg them to come home with me! :) I didn't want to be alone for another night. And I wanted time with THEM! These were our last few days to be together on the island... To be three... And I felt such a sadness to say goodbye to those bittersweet days of bonding together, such a longing to be near them... 

But, of course, I was also thrilled for them, am SO glad they're growing and secure enough to enjoy times without me, and went back in to pay more at the registration desk. I drove the 30 seconds home to get their sleeping bags, pillows, blankies, clothes and such, and yes, even the oversized pink stuffed unicorn that goes with Roya wherever she goes... :) Went back to get their beds all set up while they were out playing a game. 

My girls are growing up. They are both starting school. And they are soon going to have a new daddy. This of course is amazingly and miraculously wonderful. And yet, just in this moment, in these few days actually, I am so sad. I am so sad to say goodbye to this season of being three. As Brent put it, we've basically lived a life of girly sleepovers every night...! I feel privileged and honored to have had this time with them, in all its darkness and woe. Not all (North American) mothers get to witness their babies blossom and grow in the context of grief and adversity... 

I cherish these girls. I have never felt the urge to cling to them as I do now. Knowing that life will never be the same and in some ways, I am losing them forever... But I will not grab hold. They are the Lord's. They must learn and grow and blossom. They must embrace a new life with a new daddy. They must discover all that they are and can be in the Lord. 

I will let go, and I will cherish my memories with them here :)

As I have prayed over them each night... (in various paraphrases) God may you bless and keep these treasures of mine! Make your face to shine upon them, aglow with the light and warmth of your perfect love! Be gracious to them, Father, and kind. Turn your face toward them, looking on them with favor and mercy... And speak peace to their hearts. Lead them in your salvation, help them find the way of peace...

In Jesus name, Amen. 

Saying goodbye and hello.

Everything in me wants to go numb. Too much too fast!! say my heart and mind. And yet there's peace... Peace that passes understanding. 

He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:2

The plans have changed so many times, as we've pondered how to do this transition with the girls, school, and the busy schedule... We had finally settled on everything staying the same until the wedding, me and the girls on PEI, starting school here, not listing the house yet, and then moving over to Brent's house after the wedding. But then just last weekend, feeling led by the Holy Spirit, we re-evaluated the plan again, wanting what's best for the girls, (also aware of my almost instant depression as soon as I am back on the island by myself), and felt the Lord reveal another option we hadn't yet considered..

Now, within a few days, I have listed the house, had a showing the next afternoon, and am packing up the necessities to move over to Sussex for the girls to start school right away on the 2nd.

Which, by the way, is the 2nd anniversary of Lynn's death.

I am overwhelmed by this quick change of seasons... ON the very (2nd) anniversary of Lynn's death, we say goodbye to our season of quiet and isolation, we say goodbye to our season of grieving by the ocean, we say goodbye to our island, to our precious friends and family here, we say goodbye to our season of being three, being "the girls", bonding as we live and love in grief and without an earthly husband/father... a bitter time, but with sweet melodies of grace and provision and intense moments of love and bonding as we leaned on each other through tremendous struggle...

And ON that very anniversary, we say hello to everything NEW. We say hello to a new location, a new home, a new school, a new church family, new (and old!) Kingswood family, new (and old!) friends... We say hello to a new ministry, a new life, a new way of living and being in the world, a new partner... We say hello to a new husband and a new father... We learn how to function as a unit while being in actual close proximity to one another... (Something that may be very humorous to watch, indeed!) We learn how to once again function as four, no longer three, but four... a different four.

I have come to view my time on PEI as my chrysalis. It was like crawling into a cocoon, entering a season of dark isolation and painful metamorphosis. I went in one way, and lo and behold... I am coming out the same being, and yet somehow, entirely different.

I have been afraid. Afraid and anxious. Both afraid of stepping out and embracing a new life, while also anxious to get going... To explore it for all its possibilities!

He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:2

If it were not for the rock of Jesus Christ in my life, my house would never have stayed standing through the stormy weathers of grief and pain since Lynn's death. I would never be still standing and ready to start walking forward again...

In my own strength, I do not feel the capacity to trust. I do not feel the capacity to endure more pain, to move and adjust throughout change. I do not feel the capacity to pour out and serve others sacrificially. I do not feel the capacity to heal, to be restored, to walk into something new... I do not feel the capacity to love and live beyond myself...

BUT, I am in Christ :) Which means, that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. He is my Rock. The very same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is alive in me also! I am in Christ, which means, that all things are possible! It means that I will trust. It means that I will endure more pain and move through change. It means that I will and do have the capacity to pour out, to serve others, to love others well, to heal and be restored, and to be a minister of God's healing and restoration for others... Because he has set my feet on a rock, and given me a firm place to stand, I am able to stand firm, to live and love well, and to see God glorified.

2 Corinthians 4:7-12
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Shifting seasons.

Good morning, Lord. There is nothing more important to me than being able to hear your voice. I sit in the quiet of the early morning, with rain drops falling and making melody on the earth...

In this season of sweet engagement, there is a great "shift" happening within me. It is the closing of an old chapter and the birth of something new. 

And yet, this something new, has been brewing inside of me since my teenage years. Not so new at all. God has been sovereignly preparing me for all these life events that I could not have known or planned. But with it, still comes a loss that is most significant. Embracing something new requires a letting go of something old...

With every gain, there is loss. With every loss, somewhere, there will be great gain!!

Subtle nuances of loss are experienced in the underneath of all of the beautiful gains... Receiving new wedding rings requires a putting away and storing of the old ones. To tell a new story and embrace a new relationship requires a filing away of the past stories and relationship, to be brought out at times, but mostly stored. To embrace a new man with a new call and new (extraordinary) giftings requires a letting go of an old united mission under a different covering of call and ministry.   

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:25)

In all honestly, I have found it so difficult, (though less and less so...), to openly celebrate the incredible gains I receive in the gift of Brent. Though, I am increasingly aware of how divinely hand-picked this man was for me and I for him and what an unsurpassable gift we are to one another. (And I will continue t write about it, more and more in the days to come!) It still feels inwardly wrong for me to rejoice in something new... As though it means that I no longer cherish the something old...  I still long to uphold the memory of what was lost, of who was lost... While also letting go and moving forward and receiving this great unfathomable gift...

I see this same struggle in Roya. She truly loves Brent and is so happy to have him as a new daddy, but doesn't quite know what that makes of her old daddy in this situation... She wrestles through the letting go and embracing just as I have, wanting to hold to on to the daddy that she loves so much and never intended to live without... but also desiring and loving the new...

A few days after we returned from our trip to North Carolina, I found this letter in Roya's bedroom: 

(In case you can't translate 6 year old spelling, Dear Daddy, I miss you and I hope you come back.)

Someone wisely mentioned that it's like a parent is getting ready to birth her second child... She often wonders, How could I possibly love this child as much as I love my first child? I love my first child wholly and completely. How will I have enough love to love the second in the same way?? Quickly, every parent learns that their love knows no bounds when it comes to their children. It multiplies and grows to a capacity far greater than what they knew they were capable of! 

In a similar way, we find this struggle... How can we fully and completely love a new husband/daddy without taking away from the love we shared with the first one? Do we have enough love to embrace our beloved Daddy Brent, while still fully and completely loving our beloved Daddy Lynn?  And is it okay to love them both? Are we somehow dishonoring one by loving the other?

These are all subtle questions, asked in the underneath... Not truly dampening our obvious joy, but quietly present as we shift...

Only a very strong and secure man of God could allow me and the girls the freedom to love and grieve Lynn fully and openly, while still offering himself fully and trusting in God's plan...

Brent is a already an amazing covering over us of blessing and spiritual leadership, hope and encouragement, freedom and releasing... I saw in him that first moment of meeting an unparalleled heart after God's own heart. It was like seeing a place of refuge and healing and freedom for my family. I have yearned to be with him, and rest under that covering, since that day. I can hardly wait to enjoy that gift and spend my life giving and serving and pouring out for the purposes of God's kingdom alongside this man I deeply love and trust. 

The good news is, that in Christ, in his great sovereign mystery, what we gain will always outweigh the cost of what has been lost. 

Through this season of "shift", in the very busy days ahead, I am leaning into God's voice. As oceans move beneath my feet and seasons change and the world turns a different color and it speaks to me a new language of living and being... While Alea bounces up and down asking again and again why we're engaged but not married yet, and while Roya slowly processes and grieves and learns to navigate her own shifting season... While I scramble through the busyness of these August weeks, house stuff, school stuff, family stuff, my brother Joel's wedding tomorrow!!! :) AND, throw an amazing wedding celebration together in now less than two months!!!!!!! :) I hold steady and secure in the secret place of His love, in the stillness of his voice and the fullness of redemption he offers to those who would see him and know that He is God...

All authority is found in the still small voice of the Most High God, who happens to be our dearest and closest friend. No matter what may come, no matter the loss, we rest assured in the security of His goodness and majestic sovereignty. 

He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rockAnd established my steps. (Psalm 40:2)

Abide in my love, daughter. Hear my voice. I am your Good Shepherd. You will never be left wanting. Come into my Presence and find pasture here. I am with you. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Such a mystery!

I find that I am speechless.

Presently, I am home after a long and radical July... I am miserably sick with a useless head cold. There are fleas in my house that my cousins keep trying to help me get rid of. I am terribly annoyed at myself for allowing these creatures into my home! We are all tired and somewhat out of sorts...

Still, there is no mistaking the ring on my finger... I am engaged. I am engaged?? I am engaged!!! :) Not just engaged to anyone, but to Brent. A man with a heart after God's own heart, that I trust impeccably to lead and love our family well, and will be delighted to serve in ministry alongside...

God is a mysterious being. Through one lens, I look back on the last two years and see a horrific nightmare. Through another lens, I look back and see an unfolding of miracle after miracle and the evidence of all things good.

When Lynn died, in those early moments at the hospital, in which time stood still... my human mind and heart were in shock. But my spirit was so alive and active! I saw Lynn dancing in the heavenlies. I had such a profound peace and inspired knowledge that all was well. God spoke so clearly to me that His timing was perfect. HE was not in shock. HE has been fully prepared and aware of what was coming. And HE had prepared me and was equipping me with everything I needed for the journey... He has led me each and every step of the way. He spoke and I obeyed.

Keep up with me, He said, Keep in step with my Spirit. Grieve now, but it will not be for long. You are needed for the harvest. I am bringing someone to you. You are still called and belong to Me. Heed my voice. Keep in step. And I will take care of the rest. 

I wrestled with financial pressures. I knew I had not been released from a call into ministry, but also saw the practical truth in needing a workable career for a single parent home. Many times I spoke very firmly to the Lord, I AM PUTTING ALL MY EGGS IN ONE BASKET, SO YOU BETTER COME THROUGH!

And did He? Did my God forsake me? or lead me astray? Did He abandon me to my own efforts or let me wallow in my own sorrow?

My God has been completely faithful, in every imaginable way. And I exalt Him as the One true God, who reigns in heaven, on the earth, and under the earth. He has absolute sovereign authority. He is not asleep, or without power. He is not unloving or uncaring towards those who suffer. He did not kill my husband or cause sin and suffering...

There is great mystery in the details of my life. My human mind cannot contain it.

I know only this: that I am blessed beyond measure. That I rejoice with some strange awareness of Lynn's freedom and happiness. That God knew all along about Lynn's lifespan on this earth. That God knew all along about Brent. And mysteriously, for many years, God has been preparing me for a life of ministry, much of which will be realized not with Lynn, but with Brent...

It is an awesome mystery.

And I am awesomely privileged to take part in that great mystery. To have loved and been faithful to a great man of God, whom I continue to love and appreciate more and more... And still to have the opportunity to embrace all things new. To embrace a new life with another great man of God, whom God stood before me as a pillar of strength and a model of redemption...

I am honoured.  I am privileged. Such a mystery.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Leaning into Love.

I close my eyes and see him, sitting tall, back straight, a slight sway forward and back as he moves in rhythm with the Spirit, maybe a hand up to his chin, a position of prayer and intercession as the service moves forward... Then his hands come down and his fingers press into the keys, his touch full of sensitivity and control, as the piano sings his song...

Last weekend, I returned to Truro to visit mine and Lynn's church family, where we had served in ministry for ~6 years. It had been over a year since my last service there, and our family welcomed us with such love, some tears, and lots of joy.

Lynn came alive to me again in that place, in the service that he used to plan, lead, prepare... with the people we loved and served... His presence was everywhere. I could see him, smell him, hear him... almost as though I could reach out and touch him.

I sat in his empty office. I walked where we had walked. I worshipped with those we had worshipped with... And this time, I was there with Brent.

I find it unbearably difficult to embrace such a mixture of emotions all at once. My soul groans as it continues to be stretched, to a greater capacity for pain and a greater capacity for love... I worry about others and how they will feel or experience these changes...

I find loving in the midst of sorrow to be... difficult. Unnatural. Excruciatingly vulnerable.

Typically, we tend to deal with emotional pain by building walls, setting boundaries, learning new coping skills... But to love fully as Jesus loves... To love with a love that covers a multitude of sins, that lays down its life for his friends, that is patient and kind, that rejoices with the truth, that always trusts, always protects, always hopes, and always perseveres... the kind of love that never fails (1 Cor 13) embraces pain.

This is the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. This is perfect love. Love that never pulls back and hides to protect itself, but always reaches out beyond its own realm of comfort to protect someone else. Love that grows in the midst of suffering, instead of withholding itself in the midst of pain...

I believe this kind of love is only possible when we have hidden ourselves in God, are resting in the secret place of the Most High (Ps 91). I think this is the true definition of boundaries. When we live in the shadow of His wings, in the fortress of His peace, we don't have to withhold love to protect our own heart. It is being guarded and hidden in Him, in that place of living water and eternal life. Sin and brokenness cause tremendous pain, but we can keep loving knowing that we will not perish. Love will overcome. Love will never fail.

I feel excruciatingly vulnerable stepping into this new relationship. Stepping back into old relationships, with people and places where Lynn and I were one, stepping now as someone new or changed... Daring to love again has been just about the hardest part of this whole journey. Building up walls of isolation is destructive long-term, but easier. Letting one's heart grow cold and hard... causes deep despair, maybe life-long depression. But still, its easier isn't it? Easier than suffering?

For me, love is a part of living. God is life and God is love. These two are inseparable.

Still, even now, I work to "choose life in the through". Presently, this seems to require a willingness to expose my heart to more and more love, which feels like more and more suffering...

Through excruciating pain comes immeasurable joy.

This work that God is doing in my heart is supernatural. It is not humanly possible. I am incapable of this kind of radical change and transformational healing...

I am leaning into Love.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

When gravity lies.

(Disclaimer: This is raw. Not perfectly written or perfectly expressed...)

A moment hung in the air... Everything was silent.

What did he say? I didn't hear that right... I couldn't have. It just doesn't make sense. What did you say?

I said, the marriage is over. We're getting a divorce. 

There are moments in life that launch us beyond the realm of "sense". Beyond the place where feet are able to touch the ground and feel its surety.  Where hands are able to reach out and grab a hold, expecting not to fall... Where the "laws of life" that we think are real and true, as real and true as the laws of nature, collapse...

The marriage is over. We're getting a divorce. 

His heart stopped. He stopped breathing. He died. 

I'm sorry. She's gone.

I was raped.  And I'm pregnant. 

She will never be able to have children. 

Your son has cancer. 

These moments launch us into a new realm we did not know existed. Of course we'd read about it. We saw shows about it on TV... We knew of someone else it happened to...

But to me? For me, in my own experience, it's real. I didn't know this was real.

Then "they" say, She's gone off the deep end. We're worried about her choices. Why is he with someone else so soon? She should be selling the house. She needs to see the doctor. They should be happy to adopt. He should get his affairs in order. 

People speak often times of what they do not know.  "They" speak to the bereaved as though "life laws" still apply. That the normal expectations of life should remain intact after a life has been brutally launched into the realm of catastrophic loss. They see in simple systems. Do this. And get this. This = this. Naturally.

It is sometimes as if the church is calling to the bereaved, come back into our system and everything will turn out for good. You'll see! It says right here in Scripture! (Here, "they" typically quote Rom 8:28 or Jeremiah 29:11, both very true and powerful verses I might add.)

But these "systems", man-made systems, did not hold fast for the one to whom they speak!! The bereaved is lost in a world where systems collapse, with no consistent or predictable outcome... He now finds himself in a world where gravity lies. Where someone can be alive and then suddenly be dead. Where life can be done "right", and still end up in shambles, in shame, in unbearable pain. There is no longer an up from down. There is no specific protocol to follow that will result in specific consequences. The systems that the world puts in place lie...

I did everything the right way, and this is where it took me. I married a Christian man. I was faithful. We served the Lord... I worked so hard and overcame so much... 

Like a cruel trick, her world disappeared. The world she once reached out and grasped had somehow vanished. And then watched as she fell on her face.

I lost so much... my life, my identity, my entire sense of being...

The church tends to say to broken people, Do this! and you will have this! Come to church, sit in the pew, make the right choices, and everything will be fine!!!

But Jesus looks at these broken people, people who've been thrown beyond the "system" of the church into a realm of true soulful brokenness, where a person knows his shame, she can see her sin, he can feel is fear...

And Jesus waits... This is VERY important.

Because in the waiting... Jesus is wooing.

The realm where earthly systems have collapsed is the exact place the living Jesus longs to meet us face to face. It is a place of intersection. Where the laws of the Spirit, of the kingdom of heaven, take over where the systems of this earth have failed.

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven... Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:3-10)

These are points of intersection where Jesus meets us in Person. No earthly system qualification necessary.

A broken person doesn't need the church to "fix" her with their earthly systems and how to's...

She needs help to stay exactly where she is, in a fiery furnace so hot she can hardly stand to be in her own burning and chaffing skin, and WAIT for an encounter with the living Saviour. 

This is the hardest thing for the church to do. For the bereaved to do. WAIT. Wait in excruciating pain and emptiness??? Impossible!? Excruciating. WAIT. And trust that goodness will come. Not because of an earthly system of do's and don'ts, but because our Jesus is ALIVE. And he is still in the business of healing and restoring broken lives.

If you are uncomfortable with another person's grief, than you cannot be Jesus to them in that place. You will try to bring them out of the realm of brokenness into your "system" of "life laws" in which you are much more comfortable. Not understanding that your job is not to take them out of it, they are in the exact right place, a perfect place, right where Jesus wants them... Your job, the church's job, is to comfort and support them as long as it takes, in and through the fiery furnace. Wait with them. Help them to wait in their brokenness for an encounter with the living God. 

"They" say to the "lost", You have to trust God!! But I am asking the church, Do YOU trust God?? Enough to let Him actually show up???

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The finale after a day of great wrestle...

Catastrophic loss... 

Those early months after Lynn's death were supersaturated with the sense of total devastation and loss, the aftermath of a powerful bomb that leaves nothing but dust and ashes... catastrophic loss, as Jerry Sittser called it.

I had stood and looked around me. All was lost. Nothing was left but the ruins of a once prominent and beautiful city.

Interestingly, says this of the widow:  a city stripped of its inhabitants and riches is represented under the figure of a widow.

The vulnerability. The shame. The emptiness. The loss. So clearly depicted in the profound depth of this image.

Right now, my heart throbs for broken women. What label are you wearing?? widowed? divorced? single? barren? adulterer? harlot? The heart of God pounds within me, pressing to come forth in fiery passion. My God is jealous over these women!! He has been over me. For I am His Bride. You are His BRIDE! 

Will the God of everlasting love, of absolute goodness and sovereign power, the God who set this story in motion with the beginning of creation, the God who patiently and diligently drew Israel back to Himself again and again, ultimately to send forth His own Son, His Word becoming flesh, taking on the form of a man and being obedient unto death, even death on a cross, to be raised again to new life, to conquer hell, to overcome this world of death, to make a way of salvation, to ascend into heaven victorious, to sit at the right hand of God, having gained the authority in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and to pour out His very Spirit upon all flesh, the same Spirit that rose Christ from the grave to dwell in us...

Will this God, leave His Bride stripped of her inhabitants and riches??? Will He leave her vulnerable? Will He leave her in shame? In scorn? In emptiness? In woundedness? In fear? In lack? In poverty?

My God, the God of the universe, the One I know and love and serve with every breath, each belonging to Him... This God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Great I Am... He will not.

I am the Bride of Christ. Are you? Are you His? If you are His, if you are in Christ, then you have a rich inheritance, a sure and secure inheritance of a heavenly kingdom that you hold right now in your hand.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11:1).

God allowed me to stand in total devastation and loss, in ruins, a city stripped of its inhabitants and riches, in utter darkness and despair... And in that place, He is teaching me about the riches of His Kingdom. He is teaching me about my identity as a child of God, a daughter of the King. He is teaching me about my inheritance in Christ.

Because of catastrophic loss, I am learning to live in the supernatural. It is not some hyped up experience of super-spirituality. It is rather a knowing of who I am and what is true.

Am I ruined? Am I shamed? Am I empty? Am I abandoned to darkness and despair for all of eternity? Is God no longer good? Is unfaithful or unworthy of my life and devotion? In my natural self, I would have said, Yes. But as a BRIDE, as a daughter of the King, as new creation in Christ Jesus, born again of the Spirit into a kingdom, a family, that is super-natural, that supersedes this realm of depraved humanity... I am rich. I am clothed in white. I have been given every spiritual blessing under heaven. I am anointed. I am beloved. I am His bride, and He has betrothed me to Himself in righteousness, in justice, even in faithfulness, I am His. I am bought with a price. I am not my own. Therefore I stand, confident in His goodness. Confident in His faithfulness. Confident in His ability to make change and power to bear on my life*.

Every day, I must work to believe this. I labor to rest in His trustworthiness (Heb 4:11). I look at my feet. Where are they standing? Are they standing in ruins? In dust and ashes? in a depraved humanity, poor and in lack? Or are they standing in a wide and spacious place (Ps 31:8)? Are they standing "in Christ"? Are they standing in a realm where human feet can walk on water, can know joy, and can be contented in the Perfect Peace of His Presence?

This is an incredibly difficult "job" that my Father has assigned to me. To stand in absolute lack and devastation, wretched "widowhood", declaring His Kingdom come, and His will to be done, here on earth as it is in heaven. I am not in lack. My cup is full. Therefore, I can give and love freely. For I, too, am jealous over His Bride. I, too, long to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Ps 27:13). I long to take the hand of each and every woman who resides in ruins, and gently guide her into His glorious riches (Phil 4:19), to be healed and restored in His everlasting love, as I am being restored, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute...

Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29)

*Graham Cook

Friday, June 13, 2014

Empty spaces

I am woman.

In my heart of hearts, I secretly carry... empty spaces.

What do I do with these empty spaces?

A woman's empty spaces are longing to be filled. Deep down they know, that once upon a time, they were filled.

A woman's inner soul was designed and created as filled, always to be filled, and never to know emptiness.

When God created Eve, the mother of all living, it was as though he was forming me out of the dust, all of her children, all of the generations to follow... Somehow intrinsically present on that day of glorious creation... In my heart of hearts, I am the same as my ancestor. I have her frame. Together we were made in His image, formed out of the dust of the earth, with a rib taken out of my counterpart, Adam.

But unlike Eve, I was born into a broken world, a world of separation, isolation, and loss. I was cut off from the Breath of Life that so pervaded Eve's being, filling her to completion, saturating her with His Presence of Peace and Perfect Love.

My soul is not pure and blameless as was our Mother, the newborn Eve. My soul is filled, but not with the pure and pervasive Breathe of the Living God. My soul is filled with junk, with baggage, with anger, woundedness, bitterness, and regret. These are as rocks to my soul, heavy stones that take up space and weigh me down, leaving gaping holes, empty spaces... Empty spaces that are longing to be filled.

These stones of sin and regret make me feel ugly and unlovable. They make me question my worth, my ancestry, who I am and what my purpose is. They send forth cascading shadows of doubt and fear, that pervade my empty spaces with darkness instead of light, shame instead of love, and death instead of life.

I am woman. Whether I am married or single, old or young, widowed or divorced, with children or without, in my heart of hearts, I secretly wrestle with this question...

What do I do with my empty spaces? Who will love me there?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The One and the One.

On Lynn's birthday, I indulged myself in the past. I leaned back and sank deep beneath the waves of sorrow and loss, allowing memory after memory to wash over me...

In that place, I wrote these words... I still feel like your [Lynn's] wife.

It is important to me that I provide more context to the struggle that gave expression to those words... It is a simple struggle. One between past and present... A struggle of letting go, and living in "TODAY" (a prophetic proclamation, Heb 4:7).

"TODAY" is where I am fully present in the Presence of the Most High God, living and breathing in His rest, His perfect peace... "TODAY" is where I am alive to Him, keeping in step with His Spirit, steady and faithful, in tune and aware of His voice of guidance, wisdom, and truth... "TODAY" is where my girls are living and breathing, feeling and thinking. They are not living in the past. They alive to the present... Our breath is in "TODAY". And "TODAY", is where I am not Lynn's wife, but I am, in time, preparing to be someone else's.

There are so many people who knew Lynn and I together. Who recognize Lynn as such a huge part of my past... So many people honour him and honour me by keeping his memory alive...

I am torn right now. Remembering the "deceased" is so crucial and important to the bereaved. But still, it is not supposed to bind a living person to the past, a hindrance or bondage that keeps them from stepping fully into "TODAY"...

This has been my wrestle. "TODAY" I am dating towards marriage with Oliver Brent Dongell. I am absolutely falling in love with him and see God's hand all over our relationship. It is complicated. I am still grieving. In some ways, it is very "soon", though there is no acceptable or "normal" timeline. 

When I married Lynn, he was "the One". I always said it was like two puzzle pieces fitting perfectly together; we were so "meant for each other". We were bound in the oneness of marriage and call. This is an intensely deep union, for anyone who knows it. Oneness in marriage and oneness in call...

If (when) I marry Brent, he is "the One". We will be bound together in the oneness of marriage and call. An intensely deep union that echoes the many harmonies of God's redemptive plan, the fullness of our salvation in Him, His perfect love and never-ending grace...

I am in transition. I was with "the One" and now I am preparing to be with "the One". Two completely different men. Two completely different unions.

Some days, it just leaves my heart and mind a dizzy mess.

I am learning how to be at peace with a life that I cannot understand. There is nothing I can do about it. I didn't mean to be in this predicament. I didn't ever imagine that Lynn would die, so stubborn he was about our 75 year marriage contract... But here I am, being called into "TODAY", down a new path, into a new union, with a same/old and new call... but with a different man. My future "the One".

Lynn was the One, and Brent will be the One. And right now, I love them both.

I am somewhere in the middle.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Someone tell me how to feel...

Good morning, Lynn.

Happy birthday… This is the second time since your death that the world has turned, the days and months have passed, and lo and behold, another year gone by. It is May 26th again… Your birthday seems to bring out in me a very deep, bitter grief. It seems so unfair that time keeps moving forward after you've died. It seems so incredible bitter to face a day when we should be celebrating your life, but you're dead. Birthdays seem to bring out in me the bitter anger that death wasn't supposed to happen, especially not so soon.

I wish I could talk to you face-to-face today. I wish you could tell me how I'm supposed to feel… Do you want me to celebrate you today? Can I celebrate that you lived, that we loved, and that you died? Am I happy that you're happy in glory? and that I'm here trying to move forward without you?

I have a mixture of odd and happy memories of when we used to celebrate your birthday together. Even then, we didn't know how to feel! You wanted to be celebrated, to be loved and valued, but you were very sensitive about your birthday... We would invite friends over, who all knew they were there to celebrate you on your birthday, but because they loved you, tried to pretend it wasn't :). You didn't want anyone to draw attention it. You didn't want people acknowledging it. This had nothing to do with aging, or a ridiculous sense of pride/insecurity that couldn't handle the attention. Your birthday was the day you grieved. You grieved for your family. You grieved for your childhood. You grieved for the happy memories, the way things were, when your birthday was privately cherished in your own American home, sitting around the kitchen table with loving parents, happy siblings, a mom who would make you a chilled lemon dessert instead of a birthday cake, because you hated cake…

Your last birthday with us was definitely our favourite. The girls were so excited to crown you as their king with the homemade, construction paper crowns they had made. We were so happy to give you your runners belt, which was something you had really wanted/needed for your runs. And it was a special treat, a blast from the past, to give you the first season of the Muppets. Did I make you an Indian meal that day?? Yes, I think I remember it took me hours to prepare!! We were very happy May 26, 2012.

I seemed to go through my many emotions of grief throughout the day yesterday. I was so blessed at church, but really struggled in worship. When they started singing "Blessed Be Your Name" I wanted to scream. I felt like I was spitting some of those words out of my mouth, not singing them, so bitter they tasted to me. I did not feel like rejoicing in my trials, or celebrating God's goodness. I felt instead like, Naomi, "Please call me Mara, for the Lord has dealt bitterly with me." (Ruth 1:20)

Everyone keeps on congratulating me on meeting and dating someone new. They want it to mean that there is no more pain. They want it to mean that we can wipe away the pain of grief and celebrate something new and good. But to wipe away the pain is like taking your memory away with it. Meeting someone new doesn't erase the 11 years I spent with you, loving you. Doesn't make your death make sense. Doesn't lessen the grief of losing you in any way. It is a blessing to begin something new, to plant a new tree in my garden*, but the stump is still there, and always will be… I don't like being congratulated because I feel like its supposed to mean that I don't remember you anymore.

So true to tradition, this birthday holds again a mixture of emotions… How do I honour you today? How do I celebrate you when you're gone, when others expect me to be "moving on" out of grief and into something new and good? They seem to forget that in this world there will be trouble. That in this world we have both, simultaneously, grief and sorrow and loss, and blessing and goodness and joy.

I want to celebrate the blessings, but not when it seems to encourage others to forget about you…

I still feel like your wife. I don't really know how to do this. I wish you were here to talk to me, to tell me what to do or how to feel…

Happy birthday, my beloved.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

My heroic day of lawn mowing...

Ahhh… Spring. The snow has melted away and behold… Grass!

Grass…? Oh dear. Time to face that mower...

Last year, upon moving to PEI, there was quite a bit of drama around cutting my grass. It seemed to be of utmost priority to my fellow Islanders, but was WAY down the list for me. That was Lynn's job. I was moving into a new house, being a single mom to two traumatized daughters (and 5 baby kittens…), lost at sea in the foreign waters of finances and real estate… and had just left the home and church family where Lynn and I had shared our lives together. REALLY?? Is the length of my grass really that important?? I just didn't get it.

Fortunately, I had kind family members, sometimes neighbours, who would mow my lawn for me when they could. But by the end of the summer, I was feeling a little defensive. Well, certainly I CAN mow my own lawn. Naturally… I just have too much else on my plate right now. And who would watch the kids? And when would I make the time between all the other errands and to dos??? But, I couldn't escape the fact that, "normal people" seem to mow their own lawns.

So the snow melted and spring arrived and with it, a new/old challenge. I'm not going to lie... My pride was at stake! There is no excuse this year. I am now "supposed" to be a normal functioning single mom… I cannot accept the embarrassing defeat of not mowing my lawn!! I pulled out Lynn's old push mower... I do something with the choke…? Push this handle down…? Now pull to start the engine… Pull once. Pull twice. A half-hearted third… There's no way I can start this old clunker! I don't know if I'm doing it right and I'm probably just not strong enough!!!

I left the mower where it was, walked inside, and sat down in pathetic defeat.

Mom?! What are you doing? Alea asked.
Well, I was going to mow the lawn, Hun, but I can't get it started. 
Of course, you can! she chimed.
Honey, I'm not strong enough. I need a man. 
Well, we don't have a man. 
Yes, honey, I know. 
Then, I'll do it. 

Alea, a bundle of confidence and tenderness towards her mother, waltzes out to that mower without a single doubt in her mind that we'd get it going. She started to pull on the handle. Here, honey, I'll show you how. I think you do this, and then this, and then you have to pull this really hard and fast… See…

To my very own amazement, I started the lawn mower with ease :) I had genuine glee and delight! But the best part, was the awe and amazement in my daughter's big (humongous actually), blue eyes. Mom!! You did it!!! You're so strong!!! You're my hero!!!!

Of course, I knew that it was perfectly normal for a human being, male or female, to mow their own lawn. There was no great achievement here… But still, I revelled in Alea's pride. :) I drank in her encouragement.

I mowed the front lawn, all the while remembering Lynn, thinking how appalled he'd be at the job I was doing. :) He was quite meticulous with his lawn mowing… But how proud he would be all the same. A couple walked by and I both cringed and laughed inside. I smiled and waved, looking as natural as possible, thinking, Please don't notice that this is my very first time ever mowing my lawn!!!

As in most things, there is a mingling of joy and sorrow. I was happy to be where I was, out in the sunshine, finally, after a long winter, overlooking the sparkling blue ocean, with my 4 yr old as my biggest fan :). But, still carrying the deep sadness that comes with every change, every new day, every first, second, third… Lynn died. And that will never make sense.

But at least I can mow my own lawn. And my 4 year old thinks I'm her hero. :)

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Be still and know… Know that I am God. 

Alea and I spent some time out in the early morning sunshine (while my Roya girl was sleeping in…) And I found myself arrested by these words...

Psalm 46:10
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
These words resonate with each and every sand stone at the base of my being that shakes and trembles at the sound of His Voice. These words call me to align myself, my life, my thoughts, my words, my beliefs… and order themselves accordingly.

No one is God, but He alone.

Both before and after Lynn's death, I have wrestled with life and ministry and faith. I have wanted to fit in, to be "normal", to succeed according to normal social standards of success. And God would close every door in my face and say, No, my daughter. Not this path. Typically, I would respond, Okay, than which one? Show me the way to go. Then He would say, Wait. Be in My Presence. Breathe in My living Word. Put your whole being at rest in the palm of my hand. Be still and know that I am God. Typically, I would then respond, Well that sounds all well and good, almost romantic even, wistfully spiritual... But how exactly does that pay the bills??? Others would say, You are wasting your gifts. What are you waiting for? Why are you hesitating?? Are you so spiritually minded that you are no earthly good??

No matter what else I might like to call it, the wrestle is this: How can I "succeed" in the Spirit, according to God's kingdom and plan, and still "succeed" with man here on earth.

Ahhh. Therein lies my downfall. Wanting both. Godly success and success in the eyes of man.

Seek first His kingdom, and whatever follows, follows!!

I acknowledge today that I have been called to walk an "abnormal" path. Life doesn't happen normally for me. It is just not God's plan. Instead, he chose me as His least likely representative. Like Gideon, I am the least of the least of the least… Humble, little, lowly me is anointed to live an abnormal life that exists fully and completely for the purpose of releasing His heavenly Kingdom, His truth, the power and healing of His word. Humble, little, broken, little me is called to walk in the supernatural, which does not lend itself to a "natural" kind of life…

Goodbye normal life. I don't think I ever really wanted you anyway… (except secretly I do.. :)) It's just not as good as life in God.

I may never have "success" in the eyes of man. I may never have the ministry credentials I've always wanted. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't. But first things first… An UNDIVIDED HEART. This is my measure for success. Will it pay my bills? I'm not quite sure. But, alas, my God is the Sovereign King who reigns over the whole universe, the heavens, and the earth, and all that is under the earth. At His Name, every knee must bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Today, I rejoice, for I am immeasurably successful. I trust God to show me the path of life, to fill me with joy in His Presence, and with eternal pleasures at His right hand. (Ps 16:11)

I choose His Kingdom first. Above all else. NO matter the cost. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

The prayer of my heart for today.

Dear Jesus,

This morning, today, I turn my eyes toward You. I turn my heart toward You, with all of its ugliness and beauty, all of its fullness, and its depravity. Shine Your face upon me, Oh God. Let Your light reach the deepest, untouchable crevices of my soul with Your perfect love and healing grace… My whole being belongs to You.

This morning, today, I offer myself to You, as a living sacrifice. I lay down my life for You  and You alone. You are my God. There is none beside You. I will not chase after other "gods" in my life today. I will not give my heart over to them, as though they could fill me, or satisfy. You alone are my God. You alone satisfy. In You I put my trust.

Search me and know me, today. Be my closest Friend, my most intimate companion. Walk with me through today and into the night. Let each moment be filled with grace. A grace that acts as an open door to your kingdom storehouses… Remind me of all you have available to me "today".

I forsake the lie that You are not present with me in my day, today. There is not a single breath that I can breathe in my own strength. Every breath is enabled by Your life flowing through me. You are my strength, my sustaining power. You never leave me or forsake me. Teach me to rest in Your presence, no matter what comes my way. You are an ever present help in times of trouble (Ps 46:1)! Teach me to rely on You, to depend on You to the uttermost. Teach me to let go of control, to lay down my pride, and to test my fears before the Sovereign strength of Your eternal Word.

Teach me to enjoy the blessings of this world, without letting them rule over me. Teach me to rest in You as my All-Sufficient One. Teach me to see the troubles of this world through your eyes, and to accept them as stepping stones, that lead me further into Your grace and a to a greater awareness of Your Presence with me.

I am Your child, a daughter of the Most High. I walk in grace and favor, as one who has been washed in the blood of Jesus. I walk in communion with the King of Kings who reigns from everlasting to everlasting, in whom lies the authority over heaven and earth, and under the earth.

Today, You will make known to me the path of life. You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)

Heb 4:6-7
So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So... “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Here are some thoughts as I wrestle, grieve, and celebrate through the transition of being in relationship with another man…

Lynn is still here. I love him just as much as I always have. How is it possible to love and honor two men?? To keep the memory of the one and embrace a new and different life with the other? One being in heaven and one here on earth, but both men of God in the Spirit?

I feel no shame or hindrance in moving forward, in regards to Lynn being displeased or something like that… I feel like he is complete. He rejoices in what we shared. But most of all, he rejoices with a pure and complete heart, fully satisfied and glorified in the Lord. He perfectly desires God's perfect will.

My brother Robbie felt that Lynn would be honoured, not displeased, to have someone come alongside and take care of his family… Brent does this very well. Intentionally seeking ways to honor Lynn and come alongside in caring support and with godly wisdom.

In the last few weeks, I have been greatly humbled, my heart just now adjusting to caring for another man, my mind just now adjusting to the idea of possibly stepping into a new and different life with a new and different man. A man also called of God. A man also of integrity and wisdom. A man also full of mission and passion for God's kingdom... God's hand was so providential in bringing us together, that it was impossible to ignore. I want to trust God's timing, but admit that I've definitely been in over my head. It definitely felt like too much, too soon, while at the same, it was like a gift that was saving my life. Looking back, (only a few months!!!), my emotions were so all over the place… I wish I had been in a better place to have better awareness and control over my emotions.  But, quite honestly, without Brent's support in the last few months, I don't see how I would have been capable of climbing the mountains I have in my own strength. I was growing weak, needing a push to keep me going, to get me up in the morning, some direction from God that was more than an elusive vision about the future… Something tangible to take my hand and pull me up and on in life… I needed help. Brent is a "catalyst" that tends to thrust people forward towards God and into their calling and fullest potential in Christ. Perhaps that is exactly the sort of man I need… :)

There are a lot of things about this relationship that I can't wrap my head around... For one, if this is God's plan and He continues to lead this relationship forward, than the very vision that brought Lynn and I together, about being up on a platform teaching and serving as one ministry team under heavy anointing (is that okay to share??), could actually be realized with Brent. What is that about?!?!?!? How does a woman's heart grapple with God's providential plan in such a circumstance?? Another, is the dual anointing I used to struggle with, for both teaching and music ministry. I felt like almost two completely different people, but equally called and passionate about both ministry expressions… Now, I look back and see the beautiful oneness Lynn and I shared musically and how that was our primary shared passion in ministry together. And now with Brent, it would be my heart and passion for teaching  the Word and writing, that would be our shared heart and passion in ministry together. Both have always been a part of me…

Do you know the movie, The Inn-Laws, with Michael Douglas and Ryan Reynolds?? Well, near the end, after the wedding day has been ruined, the reception tent flooded by a massive, post-explosion ocean wave, the groom (Ryan Reynolds) looks to the bride (Lindsay Sloane) and nervously asks, How ya doing? Are you ok?? Being the kind, gentle type who typically buries her emotions, she replies sweetly, Well, I have a few questions… Like, WHAT THE HE** IS HAPPENING?!?!?!?!?!?!

I realize I sort of just swore… But sometimes, that just IS how I feel!! There is mixed sense of being responsible for the decisions and steps I take, moment by moment, that will decide my path in life, while also recognizing this totally out of my hands providential God-story that my life is being woven up into...

Around our table, there used to be 4 chairs. The one empty chair always reminding us of the husband and father that once sat with us as a family of 4… But in life's happenings and the shifting around of chairs, we ended up with 5 chairs at the table one day. I thought nothing of it, but nothing gets past those girls…! Their dinner conversation (a condensed version) went like this:

Alea, That chair is Daddy's chair. If Daddy was here, that's where he would sit. But there's another empty chair? Who is that one for?
Roya, This other chair I think could be for someone else… Like a visitor or something.
Alea, Yeah! Like Addison, or Jewel… (referring to cousins)
Roya, Or MAYBE… Mr. Brent!!
Alea, *heavy sigh, I really hope he becomes my new Daddy… 

Adding another makes us 5. Sort of mind-boggling.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Part 2: A Hinge.

A hinge, or turning point...

There are many who live with this awkward humanness of the heart. Do you agree? It leaves us floundering in our faith, questioning, doubting, fearing… Unsure of what we need, or what we want? Who we are or who we want to be? It leaves us, as Paul attested to, doing what we do not want to do, and not doing what we do want to do. (Rom 7:15)

Consequently, living with tragedy and loss or a broken heart, or various other forms of suffering, seems to result ultimately in two life options… 1. A confused life, orchestrated around our human ability to cope. 2. Or a life that embraces poverty of spirit, which is the pathway to eternal life, that ushers in the kingdom of heaven.

God is teaching me about the hinge upon which swings the door of eternal life, spiritual transcendence, life in the Spirit, the whole kingdom of heaven being ushered in. 

The hinge is this: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)

Could anything be more plain and simple?? It is the most plain and basic truth of the gospel story. How can it elude so many of us who suffer through various trials and testings?? How can we profess a faith in Christ, but miss the hinge upon which swings the door into the fullness of our salvation and freedom in Christ?? 

I do not believe in a prosperity gospel. I am much more partial to a Jesus who was called the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Is 53:3). But I do long for the fullness of joy and salvation in Christ Jesus my Lord. I do long for life, joy, abundance, happiness, blessing… I long for:
  • The comfort in my time of mourning (v.4)?? 
  • The favour and inheritance I desire on the earth (v.5)?? 
  • The fullness and satisfaction of my soul's hunger and thirst (v.6)?? 
  • The mercy I long to receive from others (v.7)?? 
  • The ability to see God through the sinful pollution of this world, to know and understand that He is, and rewards those who diligently seek Him (v.8, Heb 11:6)?? 
  • The honour of a life lived as a son or daughter of the most high God, the most intimate fellowship with the Father, and the authority due His name (v.9)??
  • To receive the most precious treasure of all of eternity, the rich and abundant kingdom of heaven, that reigns from everlasting to everlasting… (v.10)??
I used to think that God was calling me to embrace pain and suffering, that this would grow my soul. I believe this to be a part of the process, to join in the fellowship of His sufferings, but is a partial truth. God is teaching me rather to embrace the spiritual posture of the poor in spirit, whether in good times or in bad. For this posture is like a hinge that turns from our own strength and life of earthly limitations, and opens the door into a pathway of life… and life everlasting. 

…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:3)

Thank you, Father, for your faithfulness in teaching me and leading in the Way everlasting!!!

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

(Psalm 16:11)

For me, this is part of learning what it means to transcend suffering and loss, to find redemption in suffering To discover how God can and will continue to lead me in healing and wholeness when my heart seems to declare that it cannot be so, that it will never be so?? 

So lead me, Father, as You have and will continue to do… Lead me in the Way everlasting. (Ps 139:24)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Pushing Pause

"Good Friday is like pushing the pause button. When we pause and remember the cost…" 
maybe paraphrased, Pastor Tim Guptill, Good Friday service, Moncton Wesleyan Church (#Mdubs)

This is what Christians MUST do on Good Friday. And this is what grievers must do throughout their lives. No matter how much time has passed. No matter how fast or slow life is changing or moving forward. There are times when the heart cries out for a moment. A pause. A moment of silence, not orchestrated by an outside force during some memorial service, but a call from an inner voice that beckons us to push the pause button in the midst of life. To be still. And to remember.

In this moment, extended over several days, I push pause to sit in the memory of the love I shared and lost. The man I knew and held. The friend I laughed with. The companion I lived with…

In Lynn's death I lost:

  • my husband
  • my best friend
  • my lover, intimate companion
  • my safe haven
  • a brother in Christ, spiritual fellowship
  • my co-laborer in the gospel
  • the man who fathered my children 
  • the other parent of my children
  • the fourth member of our family, the one who filled the fourth chair
  • my source of joy, delight, and tremendous laughter 
  • my fellow inquisitor and deliberator
  • the other part of my "when two or three are gathered" (Matt 18:20) or "when two or three agree"(2 Cor 13:1), my prayer partner
  • the co-leader of our family
  • the spiritual leader or male covering over our family
  • the one who loved food, cooking new things, and helping me with my diet
  • the one who loved running errands for me no matter what time of day or how big or small the list
  • the one I would sit and watch movies with on a quiet evening
  • the one who would be coming home at the end of the day
  • the one who listened to my deepest thoughts, fears, hopes, dreams
  • the one who loved to travel and plan trips, who pulled me out into the world
  • the administrator who filled out forms and helped with financing 
  • the one who flattered me constantly and encouraged me on a consistent basis
  • the one who romanced me with endless flowers and cards, usually over-the-top, well-planned dates and vacations
  • the one who tried to help around the house and take care of outdoor jobs
  • my social buffer, the one who carried the conversations of social networking
  • my driver, who always loved to be the one behind the wheel. 
  • the one I admired for his energy, integrity, and excellence in all things
  • the one who told me every day that it was the best day of his life
  • my helper in hospitality, the one who entertained
  • the one who challenged me and pushed me forward
  • the one who challenged my conservative understanding of God, church, people 
  • the one who shared my love for music and worship
  • my musical partner and accompanist, fellow artist

  • the honorable position of being a wife
  • being in society as a married couple and family, being invited to "couple" events
  • the ministry we shared together
  • the blood connection to Lynn's family in the US
  • the excitement and experience of being "Lynn and Natasha"
  • the connection and mediator between me and the local church
  • the connection to many musical networks throughout the Maritimes
  • the "couple friends" we enjoyed together 
I feel like that barely scratches the surface...

Plunging East looks different now. As life changes and unfolds, grief is not as much 100% of my time and energy. But it happens on an ongoing basis, as I discipline myself to push pause, to take moments, maybe each day, maybe each week, maybe each month, and sit in the memory of a beautiful man that I loved and lost. The world may keep turning, time may go forward, and life may continue on… But when I push pause, I grieve. I remember. And I honor my beloved husband Lynn.