Monday, March 31, 2014



Day in and day out, I pressed into the darkness, plunging East. Trusting. Hoping. Waiting. Believing (most days) that the sun would rise. And with it, the dawn of a new day. 

I would have lost heart if I had not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)

In that darkness, there is no end in sight. Still, God's Word is absolute. It is sovereign. It is true. His Word has the authority to speak light, to breathe life, to calm storms, to create something new…

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased. (Psalm 138:1-3)


The dawn of a new day has suddenly arrived. Squinting, I seek to adjust to its light, my eyes stinging after so much darkness. In an instant I have a choice. One that my heart will instinctively choose... Do I reach up my hand to shield my face from the brilliance of the sun's sudden glow? Do I shelter myself from its hot burning rays? Or do I stand tall and brave, with arms wide open, face lifted high towards the burning fire? Do I bask in the sun's brilliance with unashamed worship, with bold and courageous joy?

I embrace the sun. How could I not choose life now? Now that the through has led me here, to this place of joy and renewed hope? When all of heaven, with Lynn at the forefront, surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses is cheering me forward, how could I turn away, and deny all that God has done? 

It is for freedom that Christ has set me free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Gal 5:1) 


So, I rejoice. But still, I grieve. My soul has grown. I embrace the new life of God's goodness and grace. But a chasm remains. A deep chasm where I journeyed in darkness, still marks my soul. But now, in the sun's warmth, in the coolness of the stream's drink, small shoots of green can come forth out of the dusty ground, blossoming into beautiful floral expressions of life, joy, goodness, and love. 

Life after grief is not regular life. It is strange. It is different. It is extraordinary. Strange, rare, beautiful flowers grow up out of a chasm of grief. Flowers not known in other areas of life...

(Brent reminded me of this quote from Disney's Mulan, about a lily magnolia, "A flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.") 

No person or thing in my life will ever take Lynn's place. No person or thing can ever fill the chasm that once nurtured a oneness with a one-and-only man. But plants can grow there. And the soul can grow to embrace new gifts, new blessings, new life…

So I am embracing life once again. In the midst of grief, I rejoice. I have come alive in the kingdom, my passions renewed and on fire. I know my path and am ready to walk in it. I am pursuing my ordination. I am publishing my first book - a compilation of blog posts through this season of grief. I would like to sing again. I would like to get my Master's degree, maybe several. And am waiting to hear about a job position... I am renovating my bathroom :). I am enjoying my amazing daughters. And I am loving yoga as exercise :).   

A few months ago, I could barely keep myself alive, such was my despair. I had no passion or sense of joy, nothing to get me up in the morning. 

Grieving may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

Praise God for the morning! And praise God for the night. Praise God for both.

What am I supposed to do now!!!!????

Ooookaaaaaay… What am I supposed to do now!!!??? Over 3,000 people read my last post about Brent, in the period of a few days.

I show up at completely random places, and there, at least someone makes eyes at me, giddy and bashful, until she (naturally, its usually a "she") eventually says… Congratulations!!! We are just so happy for you!!!

It takes me off guard for a minute, and I have to mentally talk myself through the cross-over from blog to real life..., It's ok. You're the one who wanted to share this with people. You're the one who posted it on a public blog. Now they're seeing you face to face and this is good. This is exactly what you wanted. For other people to rejoice in something good God has done…

Then, I breathe… smile, and say, Thank you so much! :)

So now I have two options… 1) Go back to writing about grief, Lynn, life, and never mention Brent again or all the personal, "private" details taking place as my life continues to move forward… 2) OR, I give you all the juicy details so you can continue to join in and be a part of the happenings of my life :) Which I love :) and which is why I blog :)

I should clarify, that there are no juicy details to be had so don't get too excited. :)

So which one??? Which would you prefer??

I guess my wrestle is this: So far, I've written to you from the depths of my being. I've shared with you as I would with my deepest and truest friend. I relate to Beth Moore in the way that she pours herself out to women around the world that she has never met, loving them, and caring for them as though she has known and loved them her whole life long… There is so much change happening in my life right now. How do I continue bringing you along for the journey, for those of you who care to join :)?? What are the appropriate boundaries?? How can God be most glorified through my writing, this blog, and in my relationships??

Well, this is me wrapping my head around the whole thing before I keep writing :). Thanks for your patience. Love you all so much :).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A story I want you to hear.

Note: I have a long story to tell you that involves a little bit of back-tracking. It's a story that really should be shared by sitting together in person, talking, laughing, and crying over tea… I have waited to share it publicly. Still not entirely sure what is going on :), but I want you to know about my life and what God is doing to answer prayer. So many of you have prayed so consistently and patiently for me throughout every step of this painful journey...

As the girls and I had been praying into God's plan for us, God seemed to speak over and over again that we were to wait for the one he had chosen. I wrestled greatly with how to move forward. What ministry would look like as a single woman and single mom? I felt uncertain about that path… It didn't seem right. It just didn't resonate with what God had put inside of me.

So, in agony, we cried out to God to provide for us a man whom He had chosen... A man who would walk with us on this journey of grief and ministry, hand and hand, with a shared heart and united call.

Is it possible, I wondered?? Who could possibly fit the profile? How could a man be out there somewhere, submitted to God's plan for his life, who would happen upon us, (not be already married…), and willingly take up the call to join a grieving family in sacrificial surrender to full-time Christian ministry??

I guess I knew that if such a man arrived, it would be only by the hand of a providential God who reigned sovereignly over our lives and with whom nothing is impossible.

So… January 18th, 2014, Brent Dongell arrived at my door with a car load of student leaders from Kingswood University.  They were on PEI for a special leaders retreat weekend, and Brent had taken up the responsibility of delivering to me the "RESTORE Suddenly" painting (Restore.Sudden burst of joy.) from a mutual friend, Nicole Fitzgerald. (Thank you, Nicole.)

I had no idea who this man was, but quickly recognized him in the Spirit. My prophetic nature kicked in, and I saw him as a strong and humble warrior of God, with a heart like David, most definitely a man after God's own heart. They unveiled the painting. They prayed. It was beautiful. Then they left. Brent lingered just a few extra moments to express honour and appreciation to me for being a reputed woman of God.

This experience, lasting maybe 15 minutes in duration, set off an explosion in my inner being :). What just happened?? Who is this stranger, and why did I know him in the Spirit?? How did a "drop off" turn into such a divine appointment? How did a stranger manage to connect to my heart in a way that only my husband had? and in only a few moments of interaction??

Ultimately, my thoughts for the next day and half revolved around, Who is this man? and where did he come from? and What was that I saw in the Spirit when we met??

Eventually, I sent him a quick thank you e-mail, including a loaded question at the end which effectively instigated an intense e-dialogue, where both of us wrestled with how to make sense of our strong connection and shared heart… :) Then, I left for Bangladesh.

Brent and I continued to e-mail and text some while I was away. Our relationship was sudden and seemed to bring about this new wave of sudden restoration prophesied in the very painting he had been sent to deliver… He approached me with a sense of honour and respect, terribly careful to guard and protect my heart. He asked for nothing in return, but put himself in a position of support and encouragement, exhorting me on occasion as well, gently nudging me toward healing and empowerment. These are his gifts. He is an empowerer who activates the potential in those around him. Such a fun, special guy :).

I don't know what God is doing. I don't know what the future holds or looks like. But, I definitely know that Brent has played an important role in our healing and restoration. I know his ministry to my family has been a gift with which we are exceedingly blessed. He has filled our lives with music, joyful laughter, a breath of fresh air and renewed hope. He has entered into our world of grieving Lynn, watched the funeral DVD, read through my entire blog, ordered grief books... He embraces Lynn as a forever part of our family, is concerned about me honouring Lynn and his memory, and what this will look like for the rest of our lives.  He is concerned about me stepping into God's plan for my life, stepping into my gifts in a new and more pronounced way…

I don't know how it's possible to be blessed with so much of God's providential hand evidenced in my life. I don't know how it's possible to receive so much favour and answered prayer. I don't know how its possible to meet another man, completely different from Lynn, who still shares my heart for the Lord and for His people…

I have a lot of unanswered questions (so does he!), and a few fears about embracing a very new and different life from the one I would have lived with Lynn… But I am also at peace in God's sovereign care. He truly does work in the realm of the impossible. He truly does honour and lift up those who are bowed low. He truly does hear the cries of His people and provides for the afflicted…

I do not know my future, but I love my Jesus. I have been so blessed in Him.

And I am thankful for my new friend, Brent. :)

Friday, March 14, 2014

A grief poured out...

She had big brown eyes, set in the front of a round, dark face, framed with raven, black hair. Maybe in her late twenties? A circular red dot was positioned on her forehead. Red powder had been expertly poured along the centre line of her parted hair, symbolizing her matrimony, her status as a married, Hindu woman. Her sari was traditional colours of reds and golds, wrinkled and worn from her travels...

Leaning against the back wall, her feet pulled up under her, she sat on the worn and dirty cot. She sat and watched, heavy with fear and concern, as her husband's chest rose and fell with every breath. How could this be? What would happen to them now? Her husband had had a pain. They rushed him here. And now they waited. And she watched. He was very sick. An organ was infected. She did not know what would happen.

Is this a man she loves? In a tradition of arranged marriages and female submission, what is this woman's story? Her face tells a story of young love, and her eyes tell a story of grief… Does she have children waiting for her at home? Like many women in this culture, does she live with her husband's family? Is her mother-in-law good to her? Do they treat her with kindness? Or as a servant? As a foreigner in her new home?

I did not speak her language. I did not know her background. I did not share her religion. We could not have been more different… Still, I recognized her grief. I knew her suffering as a woman who loves and a woman who grieves. In shared grief, I sat with her. Binding my heart to hers. Praying and interceding, pouring the love of God over her in tears… A woman's grief knows no bounds. The language of sorrow is universal. The sadness and fear that accompanies death, or the possibility of death, is shared in every culture. It is one of those things that make up the human experience… It is simply human.

With one of the nationals, we sat and prayed. Through translation, body language, and emotional eyes, I shared with her about my husband's death. My great sorrow. The heavy grief. I shared about my Jesus. How he is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Ps 34:18). With my hands, I showed her. With one hand representing my heart, in great pain and heavy grief. The other hand representing Jesus, in compassion and perfect love. Lacing my fingers together, I showed her how we can grieve with Jesus who is perfect love, and in Him find healing and comfort and peace. How are soul can grow to bear many sorrows when we have His strength and His love living within us… She wept and clung to me as we prayed. I felt as though grief was the open door through which the Holy Spirit was pouring out His love, His loving embrace reaching into the very depths of her heart.

She met Jesus that day, I am sure of it. He was there and she could see him in my eyes, and as He ministered to her own soul. He knew her, and saw her, as he saw Hagar on that appointed day (Gen 16:13). Through Him, I too could see her soul, her agony and desperate need for peace. I admonished her, Do not forget what you saw here today, my sister. When you go back into your life, when you go back with your family, when you worship in the temple… Remember Jesus. He is your Peace. When you need peace, seek Him and you will find Him. 

Walking away from this woman tore my heart in two. What a life she must live. What a journey she is on. Holy Spirit, remind her of Your presence with her... 

I could live my whole life being blessed by women such as she. How easy it was for me to pour myself out as a drink offering, pouring out my grief, so that others might see and know of His love…

*This is a story of a real couple. One whom I had the privelege of praying with. One whom, if my sources are correct :), has since committed to Christ… which means the alteration of their lives in often extreme measures...

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Head down. Heart heavy. Eyes weary of tears.
Knees raw from the bending, the praying, from fears.

Shaded circles beneath her shadow,
Where tears fell to the ground.

A valley of death, despair, and sorrow.
A barrenness with no birth to be found.

Eyes fixated on loss. On an empty tomorrow.
Brought low to the dust, to the ashes that follow.

Silence. Stillness in the atmosphere.
A world, her world… is no longer here.

Waiting. Wanting. Hoping. Praying.
One flame burning, tenacious and strong.

Begging. Pleading. Sobbing. Breaking.
One flame glowing the whole night long…


For behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it...?
(Is 43:19)

A noise is heard off to the right.
So sudden. So foreign to this ever quiet night…

She's caught off guard. Confused. Concerned.
Her head lifts up… Her grief deterred.

Suddenly, she's grasping. Desperate to hear.
Life. It was life. Beckoning her nearer!

Calling to her. Beckoning her. Lifting her head...
Wooing her. Enticing her. Holding every tear that was shed.

Is this what she heard in the black of night?
In the wake of death? With her one flaming light?

Broken by death, by life suddenly lost.
Now broken in Life, by such grace at such cost...

Being wooed and restored, her head lifted up,
With her eyes, she can see… Life is filling my cup.

This flickering light, always burning, so strong,
Was changing her life, making right what was wrong…

She sees now the sun. It's radiant light.
It's warmth offering strength after the long hard winter night.

When did it rise? Was it there all along?
For she did not see it. She did not hear the song.

But there it is singing… A song of new life.
Of springtime and summer, so much joy and delight!

Therefore thus says the Lord God, “Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name. (Ezekiel 39:25)

A few more pics… And please watch the video!

There are so many experiences I long to share as I am home and settled, greatly renewed and built up by my trip… It is somewhat difficult to share out of my "pastor's heart", however, because Bangladesh, while being democratic, has very strict laws concerning religion. It is acceptable to be a Christian in this country, but illegal to promote ones particular faith. Therefore, the work of the hospital and the schools must remain within a particular framework of service… They are an incredible asset to their surrounding regions through excellent medical care, dedicated service, and leadership in both education and translation projects...
 I was renewed and built up as I served with these beautiful women in the hospital. They are my forever sisters and I will pray for them always. 

More tourist-y pics from our getaway into the hills...
 The sky was hazy and unclear, but still the view was astonishingly beautiful atop this viewpoint in the Chittagong Hill Tracks. 
Mine and Holly's sleepover in the cabin at the Hillside Resort! Purple mosquito net and all!
 Morning hike and boat trip...
 Fields and fields of banana trees!!
 The bananas taste at least ten times better there! But they can also have big black seeds in them that may need to be spit out :)

 Jon and our boat man.
 So enjoying the peaceful ride...

I have not yet figured out how to write about the deep impact of my trip, in words and language that is acceptable and honouring to the servants there, but without wandering into the "out of bounds" area... So please watch this video!!! This is where I was. This is one of the three doctors working in this hospital, serving for over 17 years, much of that time, being the only one… And this is where my cousins are serving, as engineers, working to build the new hospital that will be better equipped to care for more Bangladeshis. 

I hope to write more soon :)