February 25, 2013

Giving Birth to a Manasseh

Genesis 41:51-52

And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house.

And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.

Last year, I read a book that shared the above verses.  At that time, the word Ephraim, being fruitful in the land of my affliction, really touched my heart.  It gave me a longing.  That is what I wanted, to be fruitful after having such pain.

Last night we had a visiting preacher preach out of those same verses.  He said, "Before you can ever give birth to a Ephraim, you must give birth to a Manasseh."  Before you can be fruitful from your tragedy or pain, you must do some forgetting and forgiving. 

Oh, and as we know, the birth of a child is not easy or without pain, but what joy comes after it has been delivered.

One of the stories he shared was about a poor wife who saved feed sacks to make a new dress.  She sewed it beautifully so she could wear a nice dress to look beautiful for her husband.  When she showed it to her husband, he mistakenly thought she had took the little money they had left and spent it on the dress.  He took it angrily and tore up.  She gathered up the shreds and put them in a bottom drawer.  But the marriage was in shreds too. She looked at it daily and became so bitter with her husband.  One day she heard a sermon on forgiving and forgetting.  She hurried home and took that torn dress she had put her heart into and put it in the wood stove.  Her husband caught her and when asked what she was doing she said, "I'm getting rid of the evidence." Healing came to her heart and healing came to their marriage that day.

"Get rid of the evidence." 

It is hard to forgive and forget when you keep hanging on.  Sometimes it isn't something you can touch.  Sometimes it is a memory that you dwell on.  Hurtful words or feeling abandoned or unloved.  Sometimes it is disappointments.  Sometimes it is our own selves we need to forgive and stop dwelling on.  We've all done stupid things and then done them again.

Forgive & forget......................
But it is hard!  All the Lord asks is for us to be willing. Be willing, then HE will give you the grace to forget. 

The Lord spoke to me about a couple areas of my life where I am doing that.  I want to be fruitful from affliction that comes my way.  I want beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, I want my life to be a testimony of the glory of God.
But first I must give birth to a Manasseh.
Only then can I give birth to Ephraim.


February 22, 2013

The Ship Poem

After much searching,
I finally found a poem I heard read at a funeral several years ago.  It was a vivid reminder that even while we are watching someone we love slip away from us, that others who love them dearly too are watching their coming. 

"Gone From My Sight"
by Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says;
"There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?"
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, "There, she is gone!"
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad
"Here she comes!"
And that is dying.

February 19, 2013

Holding a Bit of Heaven

I held a baby today,
the son of a dear friend,
a precious little boy who the doctors said wouldn't live this long. They were wrong.
They didn't factor in what the LORD might have planned. Instead of the little fellow having heart surgery, the LORD has used this difficult situation to work on the hearts of hundreds of others. 

As I gazed into this little bundle of miracle, I was captured by his eyes. They were the eyes of the wise.  What sweet secrets had the Father whispered to him?  His eyes seem to have a message to tell, yet God hasn't planned for him to grow up to preach it. For the LORD has chosen to show us that message instead, yet it is not just one message, it is a thousand personal messages to a thousand different people. Each one loved so grandly by the LORD. Just like He loves this little bit of heaven.

Christian parents all have the ultimate goal for each of our children to do two things: Point others to Jesus and live with Jesus in Heaven.  This little baby is fulfilling the first and will soon do the second.  The Lord in His tenderness is giving this family a special time to make treasured memories.  He is giving them days full of grace moments to store up in their hearts for the days ahead when the tears will flow like rivers and their arms will be aching and empty. 

The Lord is giving them extra time to hold their son.  It is a miracle.  Yet another miracle goes by unseen.  For the LORD, the Creator of all, the Almighty God, is holding them. Tenderly, Lovingly, Securely holding them all.....

I held a little bit of heaven today.  It was a blessing I shall never forget.

February 12, 2013


Every soldier is trained in survival.
What to do if you find yourself alone behind enemy lines.
How to stay alive and get out.

That is much how I feel about grief.
It is survival, especially at the first heartbreaking blow.
You do feel all alone, no matter how many others are around you.
And the only way out, or to healing, is to press through.

Recently, I once again shared with a grieving family my survival tips.
I don't think I have shared them on here before so here they are:

  • B-R-E-A-T-H-E  I found that it hurt to breathe at times or that I would almost forget to breathe deeply at times.  For the children's sake, I knew I had to keep breathing. There were times that I felt I had so much to do and it overwhelmed me.  I would tell myself, "All I got to do is breathe."

  • Run and cling to JESUS.  This wasn't always easy, the pain was so great.  But just like a parent responds to a newborn's cry, our loving Lord responds to our deep groanings.  Many times I cried out for the LORD to just hold me up. He did. I would curl up in a chair and ask the Great Comforter to hold me all night. He has been faithful.
  • People told me to take it one day at a time.  Are you kidding me?! A day is full of minutes, 1440 minutes to be exact, and each minute can be agonizing.  So I made my own saying, "One moment at a time, one breath at a time, one prayer at a time." And I told myself this often.
    These three basic survival tips helped me through those first hours and days and even weeks after my husband died. Then as a grieving parent with children who were grieving, I learned more survival tips:
  • I asked the LORD to give me, from scripture an answer I could give the children when they asked why. Again He was faithful.
  • The LORD also showed me how helpful it was to the children to have journals to draw in.  It really helped me to understand what was going on inside them.
  • He also showed me that it was comforting to them and to me, to have me read books to them. So we read tons of books.
  •  I clung to promises from the LORD and shared many with the boys. For over half a year, I read the Psalms. And I was given promise after promise to help me, comfort me, give me hope, and help me feel understood.
  • I made us go to church.  I will admit.  It was a battle some days.  But once we got there, I felt strengthened.  Even when we had bad days and I was in the nursery more than I was in the church services, we kept going. 
  • I journaled.  To me, writing helps me sort out the tangled twine of emotions and thoughts.  God knows me and He knows I needed to cry and write, write and cry.  These two things were essential to my personal healing. When I didn't journal or cry for awhile, when I stuffed it all down inside, it would make me easily angered or upset or almost paralyze my thinking. Writing would unbury those feelings.
  • We filled the house with music.  We played it all night and left music playing while we were gone.  It filled the emptiness with something soothing.
So there you all have it.  My brief but necessary survival tips of grief. 

February 05, 2013

I Stand in Awe

7 years.

It has been 7 years since I touched my beloved's lips with mine.  Seven long years since I stroked his beard and looked into his eyes and see that mischievous twinkle. Seven years that I haven't heard his strong, tender voice in my ears. Seven years since I laid my head on his chest and felt his strong, comforting arms surrounding me with peace. 
Seven years of learning to breathe again, learing how to live like an emotional amputee, learning to trust God at a deeper level, learning how tender God's mercy can be, learning to be content as a widow in a couples' world.  Learning...............

I stand in awe of what the LORD has done with me.
That HE would work so carefully and diligently on me.
Me--who fails most of the time and seems to never get what He is trying to teach me.
I am a living, breathing, miracle.  A testimony of His mercy.
For I am alive, only one who has had their beloved tragically torn from their side,
understands how amazing it is to be alive, when the hurt used to be so strong, it took great effort to breathe.  A hurt so heart wrenching, so physically strong, death seemed certain.

I stand in awe of what the LORD has done in our boys.
They all love the LORD!  They aren't perfect but they have a love for God that amazes me.  They still miss Daddy, but they are learning to trust God, learning better than I am, I dare say.

I stand in awe of what the LORD has allowed us to go through since then.
There has been many more tears and desperate cries since that cold February night.
Many fears overwhelming us, many emotional wounds, many unthinkable events....
The LORD allowed each one and HE sustained us through each one.
I stand in awe.

I also humbly fall on my knees when HE gives me a glimpse of what He didn't allow.
When I am shown what He kept us from, when I realize that even the pain He did allow He limited.  I cry tears of gratitude again for His mercy.

7 years......those words bring awe, fear, and encouragement. In some ways, it seems like just yesterday when the police car pulled in our driveway and my heart stopped beating. I never thought I could live this long with out my beloved.....  It is frightening how much I have forgotten, how much my life with my beloved is like a wonderful, but distant dream. It is encouraging and strengthening to recall how the LORD provided and protected and guided us through these 7 years.

I don't know what lies ahead.  But I know my LORD is already there.  He has a plan.  I just need to listen and keep my eyes on HIM.  And to never forget how tenderly loving He is.  How He understands each tear and understands me like no one else does.

He loves me more than I could ever imagine. 
And He loves those that I love even more than I do.
For He IS love.