Tuesday, May 29, 2012

All things beautiful in His time.............

I'm learning that just because I have purposed to handle grief in the strength of the Lord, doesn't mean I'm going to get through it any faster.  I'm a purpose driven person and thrive on getting things DONE!   I size up a situation and figure out the quickest and best way to get to the end and then do it.  The very annoying thing about grief is....I don't think you are ever at a point of being "done".  I know I'll never be done missing my son.  But honestly, what I want to be done with is the crying.  For a non-cryer, seven weeks of uncontrollable moments of tearing up seem like a life time. It's exhausting, it's annoying and I just want to be done. So how does someone like me get through this?  The only answer I have is to dig even deeper and cling even tighter to the only one who can walk me through this very long journey.

Tonight I had to dig a little deeper when I had to clean up Ryan's bedroom and make it ready for my sweet niece Libby and her friend to come live with us this summer.  Yes, it was hard to do this job but we are so excited about their visit.  Their presence will fill some of the void this summer from the absence of Ryan. Nothing will replace him, but I can see how God is taking measures to "...make all things beautiful, in His time....Ecclesiastes 3:11.

There was something about summer that put Ryan in full gear and he was always leading one adventure after another.  Last summer he and his friends painted the words to "Oh How He Loves" all over his bedroom walls.

For those that knew Ryan you might have spent some time down in his room.  On his walls he had painted and written songs, quotes and thoughts.  I laid on the bed tonight reading those words.  I was simply amazed how they represented who he was and how he lived.  Let me share some of those:

"If your action inspires others 2 dream more, learn more, do more and be more....then you are a leader"

"There is more than life after death, there is life before death"

"I am a Jesus Freak!"

"An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leads the whole world blind and in need of dentures!"

"Oh how He loves me."

"Love like a hurricane."

"In the times of trial remember, you are not alone...."

"Home is where the heart is.......I guess I haven't found my heart" (This written when he got back from New Zealand)


good morning
school food 
plastic silverware
bad luck
old news
bankrupt millionaires
military intelligence
peacekeeping missiles
just wars
smart books
friendly fire

"God is in the whispers."

"B ur self"

And much more.........

Five years ago when Ryan first wrote on his wall I think he expected we would tell him to stop and we would paint over it.  We saw that perhaps his wall would reflect his heart and this would be a good window into what was going on in his life.  It was exactly that.  During high school his walls were filled with bits of Jesus and words of frustration. When he got home from New Zealand his walls were filled with songs of worship. Tonight I told my husband I will hate the day when we have to paint over these walls. 

Each one of our kids has had the freedom to paint or write on their walls.  Amanda's room is full of color and words that speak her heart.  Luke's room has words and pictures he and his friends wrote.  I love it; a window into their hearts.

Maybe I should start writing on my walls........no, I think I'll stick to my blog.

One of Ryan's walls

Click on link above to see the other treat I found tonight

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The "thing" club...............

I'm sitting in the top of a castle in the parlor of our suite, with the windows wide open and the pines whispering to me as I allow myself to just sit and reflect; peace and quiet. We haven't had much of that in the last seven weeks. This gift our friends gave us is another example of God's provisions for us....even in the pain. Tom and I have just been amazed by God and how He has supported us on this fork in the road we were forced to take seven weeks ago today when Ryan went to be with Jesus. This is not a fork we would have chosen, but we see God's hand in it over and over. I'm so grateful that we cannot see what is ahead because we would often choose a different path; a painless path. However, I come back, once again, to His promise in Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. This fork in the road is not to harm me...but to give me hope and a future.

I was talking with one of Ryan's friends last week and we both agreed that we have this "thing" that is present in our lives now that we didn't invite and it probably will never go away. It has this presence that can cause you to weep and tear up at any moment. You don't see it coming and then, BAM! you are in tears. A perfect example was my trip to REI today. Tom and I had some time to kill before heading to Glen Eyrie so we decided to stop in at REI. This was a favorite place of Ryan's but it didn't even enter my mind that this might be an emotional visit. I found some new hiking shoes and was looking for a sales clerk to ask about the discount. I was about to approach one when she looked at me and said, "Are you Ryan's mom?" I said, "Yes!" She re-introduced herself and reminded me she had gone to college with Ryan last semester. She and a group of others had spoken at his wake. We stood and talked for a while and then she told me she was working on getting the school to agree to plant a memorial tree at the downtown campus in Ryan's memory. I just looked at her and said, "Man, you only knew him for a few short months and you were so impacted by him....imagine what it was like to know him for 20 years!" And then the tears started. She felt so bad but I simply stated that, "This is my new life. This is what happens. Tears come out of nowhere and then I will be fine in short order." I wasn't embarrassed by the tears. They have become a part of me. We hugged and finished our conversation and as I was walking away I heard my name. I turned around and there was my teacher from when I took a Sociology class at Pikes Peak over a year ago. Her son had graduated with Ryan and she and I had formed a friendship during my classes with her. I'm sure you can guess what happened. We both stood there talking for a good 15 minutes and tears were part of that conversation. But during that conversation I was able to speak of God's hope and provisions and feel His strength, even in the tears.

The entry of this "thing"  is not something that I asked for, it is not something that I really would choose; but it is here to stay. I know there are many out there who have a similar "thing". It could be a broken marriage, a chronic illness in the family, a permanent injury, a death, a victim of abuse, etc. For those of us who are now part of "The Thing Club", we have to make some choices. I've always told my kids that we cannot always choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we respond. I now have to live that out big time. When God says that His plans are ".....to give me hope and a future," then I have to have faith that this "thing" will not ruin me but give me hope and a future. I also have to take action to move in that direction. I have to "Ask and it will be given to me, seek and I will find; knock and the door will be opened to me." Matthew 7:7 I have to be taking action.

From day one of this journey I have been asking God to make it worth the pain. I have been asking him to show me the good that will come out of bringing my son home with Him. I have been trusting God to do what I ask in my pain; He has. I truly believe because I have been taking action since day one He has allowed me to skip over depression and anger in the grief cycle. I've never experienced grief at this level but it sure feels like I bypassed the really dark side of it; thank you Jesus. His Word was made for this very thing; to bring hope and a future. Why in heavens name would I want to choose anything else?

So today Tom and I will hike up to the Punch Bowls that Ryan hiked and we will probably shed some tears; but that is o.k. It is a part of my new life of feeling, loving deeply and trusting God with all the "things" of life.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

His essence........

I've always loved smelling my kids heads.  We used to play the guessing game and I'd close my eyes and guess who's head it was.  When Ryan started wearing dreads it became pretty easy.  Yuck!  You don't even want to know what is in those things.  But I still loved his smell.  His smell was Ryan.

Tonight I was going through some of his things looking for a backpack to use and I picked up one of his shirts and made the mistake of putting it up to my nose.  I was done for.  The tears and sobbing came and I just sat down and took it in.  Oh how I miss that man that went with the scent.  We walk past his car and we can smell him through the closed windows.   We walk past his tools in the garage and we can smell him.  We will not remove those scents because they continue to remind us of the son whose essence filled our home, not just with scent but with personality and character.  When Ryan entered and left a room his essence was evident.  Most of the time I think people watched him leave and enter with a smile on their face.  What an essence.

These thoughts this evening brought me to pondering what my essence is like. And, do people really think about their essence?  I think we should.  I'm sure we can all think of someone in our lives that when they enter we feel tension and when they leave we are relieved.  Conversely, there are those we love to see come into the room and sad to see leave.  Then, there are those we could care less if they come in or leave because they add nothing to our lives.  Wow, that is pretty harsh isn't it.....but I think we can identify with each of those descriptors. 

Our essence reflects our character and our personality. I think our character reflects our heart and our heart impacts our personality.  When you come down to it....our heart is the source of our essence.  I guess that makes sense since Proverbs 4:23 says: Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.  What does one do with a broken heart then?  Can you still have a good essence?

God promises in Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail,  but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  This tells me that even when I'm weak He can be my strength and portion FOREVER.  I can choose to walk in my weakness and be bitter or allow God to be my strength and get better.  I choose "better".  Even in this saddest time in my life I want my essence to be that of God's strength in my weakness, and that of faith and not doubt.  I pray my presence brings peace and not tension.  I feel like I can do this and still cry now and again for I also want to be real.  I can voice, "I miss my son immensely" and at the same time trust Jesus for why Ryan had to leave.  I can do this because  His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in my weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  II Corinthians 12:9   

May my essence be the power of Christ in me.

Monday, May 21, 2012

We were chosen........

We were in the kitchen and talking with a dear friend  and he was sharing with us  Jeremiah: 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  As our friend was talking to us about "the good" that God plans for us I had this very clear thought.

God knew that Ryan was only going to be on this earth for twenty years and then He was going to call him home to make a huge impact in many lives.  That was always the plan.  Knowing this God had to choose Ryan's parents carefully.  His parents had to be able to deal wisely with his uniqueness so as not to crush his spirit and then be strong enough to deal with the loss.  And this plan was meant "for good and not disaster."  So God chose Tom and I twenty years ago to be part of this plan for good.  I can honestly say, "What an honor!"  Even in the pain, we see good.

I give you my precious son, Ryan.
Cherish him, love him, and allow him
to become the young man I designed
 him to be.
Psalm 127:3  See, children are a gift from the Lord. The children born to us are our special reward.

With our earthly perspective it would be easy to rant and rave that this isn't fair...we deserve more years with our son.  Why did He give him to us if He was only going to take him away?  But with a heavenly perspective we can trust God and are grateful that we were chosen to have such a wonderfully unique relationship as parent with this precious gift of a child God rewarded us with for twenty years.  Those twenty years with our "gift" shaped us into who we are today.  We would never trade that experience just to be relieved of pain.

So now we have to trust God for the rest of the verse, the rest of the story; "....not for disaster, but to give you a future and a hope."  That's why life isn't over for us.  We have a future and a hope and God has the plan.  We trust Him with it.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A harvest beyond my wildest dreams...........

Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.  Proverbs 22:6

Ryan didn't always show it but he was a scholar.  He was a person who had an aptitude for study.  However, Ryan didn't spend his time studying the things of this world, but rather he studied the things of God.  He wanted to know more, grow more, and as a result...live more.   I have been pondering how God wants my life to be permanently changed (not in the physical sense as that is obvious), but in the spiritual sense.  What part of my life does God want refined through calling my son home? 

I have always been one to live by faith but haven't spent a lot of time building up my knowledge. I wouldn't consider myself a scholar. Ultimately, I think faith is what is sustaining me right now through the most difficult journey of my life.  I am so grateful for that faith.  But what I feel like God is poking at me about is that I could have more knowledge to go along with that faith.  I need to be willing to do the work and dig deeper into His Word to gain a greater understanding of His heart, His love and His teachings.  I can only imagine what my life will be like with the gift of faith God has given me, coupled with a deeper knowledge and understanding.  I envision a harvest beyond my wildest dreams.

This morning I was reading Matthew 13 and it was amazing how it echoed my previous thoughts on whether Ryan's home going would generate permanent or temporary changes in people's lives;  what are the "seeds of truth" landing on and what is being produced because of where the seeds have landed?

Take the time and really read God's words......

Matthew 13:1-23 

1-3 At about that same time Jesus left the house and sat on the beach. In no time at all a crowd gathered along the shoreline, forcing him to get into a boat. Using the boat as a pulpit, he addressed his congregation, telling stories.
3-8"What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn't put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.

9"Are you listening to this? Really listening?"

10The disciples came up and asked, "Why do you tell stories?"
11-15He replied, "You've been given insight into God's kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn't been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That's why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they're blue in the face and not get it. I don't want Isaiah's forecast repeated all over again:

Your ears are open but you don't hear a thing.
Your eyes are awake but you don't see a thing.
The people are blockheads!
They stick their fingers in their ears
so they won't have to listen;
They screw their eyes shut
so they won't have to look,
so they won't have to deal with me face-to-face
and let me heal them.

16-17"But you have God-blessed eyes—eyes that see! And God-blessed ears—ears that hear! A lot of people, prophets and humble believers among them, would have given anything to see what you are seeing, to hear what you are hearing, but never had the chance.

18-19"Study this story of the farmer planting seed. When anyone hears news of the kingdom and doesn't take it in, it just remains on the surface, and so the Evil One comes along and plucks it right out of that person's heart. This is the seed the farmer scatters on the road.

20-21"The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.

22"The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard, and nothing comes of it.

23"The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News, and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams."

God's word never disappoints me.  It is the backbone of my faith and my life.  It is what soothes and comforts me as God's words and promises fill me with love, hope, peace and confidence.  But there is still so much to learn.  I am permanently committed to studying God's word more; becoming that scholar who knows more, grows more, and as a result...lives more.

I wish Ryan were here so I could thank him again, in person, for modeling to me a life of passion and living large.  But I know he has an awareness of how my life has been altered because in Luke 15:7 Jesus says 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.   So there IS rejoicing and there IS an ability to see what is taking place down here on earth.  I pray Ryan becomes exhausted dancing and celebrating with Jesus and others that have gone before us over all the changed lives.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Permanent, or temporary....................


On April 7, 2012 the world was altered for many.   For many this alteration was permanent....for some it was just temporary. 

I cannot tell you how many FB messages, emails, texts and conversations I have had with people who have said that Ryan's death and/or my blogging have altered their lives.   Most days these stories are what help Tom and I move forward and keep the perspective that if Ryan's death has brought hearts closer to the Lord, then we get it.  I say most because some days when the pain is so great, we sure wish there had been another option.  But overall, we feel honored to have had a child that made such a positive impact on other's lives through his relationship with his Lord.  Could a parent want anything more? 

 After nearly six weeks we recognize that for many the emotional experience might be fading.   It is at this point people are faced with the reality of how Ryan's death REALLY DID impact their lives; was it temporary, or was it permanent?  Was it a rush of emotion, or a rush of reality?

As I drive home from work I usually find myself thinking of Ryan.  The other day I was looking up into the blue sky as I was driving and found myself asking Ryan, "How was your day?  What did you do today?" I was amazed I didn't get that vice grip on my heart.  And then something strange happened, I felt as if Ryan was whispering to me, "Mom, it's time.  It is time to stop being so sad and move on and use the momentum of my death to help bring others to a deeper knowledge of Jesus and help make the alteration they felt, permanent.  You can do it mom."   At that moment I felt this surge of renewal.   I thought this renewal was here to stay........ but this week has actually been kind of hard.  It appears on this sixth week others have begun to feel the reality of their loss of Ryan and a surge of new pictures have cropped up on FB.  As much as I LOVE to see the reflection of his life, it has been hard to see so much of him again.  But, I will never run away from his memory. 

I still look at his pictures and can't really fathom that he is gone from this earth forever. I still tear up.   But, at the same time, I find myself walking with this sense of urgency that time is running out; none of us knows when it will be our last day.  None of us dreamed Ryan's life on earth would be over at the young age of 20.  So what makes any of us think that we have time to do our own thing a little while longer, resist a little longer, and THEN allow change to take place in our lives?  I can't imagine if Ryan had died living with that perspective.  It would have been so much harder to see him go.  I know he wasn't perfect.  None of us will be until we are living with our Savior....but Ryan lived with the purpose of making Christ first!   Ryan didn't have the corner on the market for living boldly for Christ.  We all have that ability. It's a choice. The time is now.  Each of us knows those areas in our lives that we are reluctant to give up control. I pray no other "tragedy" has to happen to get our attention.

So, the question we have to ask ourselves is if we are going to allow our lives to be impacted by Ryan's death temporarily or permanently?  I choose permanently.  I am ruined for Christ forever and the constant reminder of Ryan's life on earth will help me keep that perspective, not in a morbid sense, but in a life giving way.  I pray Ryan's home going will have been worth the pain as others allow God to PERMANENTLY change the areas that He has been beckoning.

Ryan will always be my son that is living in heaven, but his memory will be carried on earth as we allow his home going to impact our lives permanently.  How awesome will it be to say, "When Ryan, my son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, friend, acquaintance, stranger died....it really impacted my life and that is when I started truly living for Jesus!"

Rev 3:2-3 
"Up on your feet! Take a deep breath! Maybe there's life in you yet. But I wouldn't know it by looking at your busywork; nothing of God's work has been completed. Your condition is desperate. Think of the gift you once had in your hands, the Message you heard with your ears—grasp it again and turn back to God.
"If you pull the covers back over your head and sleep on, oblivious to God, I'll return when you least expect it, break into your life like a thief in the night.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Touchable Grace..............

The day I dreaded is almost over and I can honestly say, "God is good!"  I am so grateful I did not stay in my bed balled up with tears.  I actually contemplated it this morning.  As I started getting ready for church I was already tearing up and knew church was going to be difficult.  I thought it just might be easier to let my family go to church and  stay home with my emotions.  I am so glad I didn't.  I would have missed an incredible day of watching the Lord comfort me through others.

I am so grateful I have chosen not to stay on an island with my emotions.  My relationships with family and friends have become stronger and richer because of this choice.  My first Mother's Day weekend without Ryan actually had much more joy than sadness.  I had gifts, flowers and meals dropped off, my house cleaned from top to bottom, numerous text messages from all over wishing me a Happy Mother's Day and expressed extra prayer, and so much more.  So many touches from the Lord. 

I read somewhere that as Jesus walked the earth He out-touched his talk. He did more than talk the talk, He lived the talk; He loved, touched, blessed and comforted the broken and needy. He modeled touchable grace. Touchable grace is unmerited favor that meets a person right in the area of need. Through others God has been showing my family touchable grace as we walk this difficult road of grief.  Today alone His touch through others was so evident.

I was stopped by friends as we walked into church and when I finally found my family I saw that we were sitting surrounded by friends on all sides.  I felt so enveloped in love.  Worship was bitter sweet.   The first song was "Blessed Be Your Name".  I whispered to Tom, "Oh shoot!  I don't want to sing this!"  There is a line in the song that says, "He gives and takes away...."  I knew it was going to be rough.  Tom asked if I wanted to leave but I felt I needed to stay. Tom and I ended up clinging to each other in tears, yet offered our lives up together in surrender.  Loving hands touched my weeping shoulders from behind and beside; touchable grace.

Amazingly the sermon at church today was, "Why does God allow suffering?"  Talk about God's timing.  It was as if Matt Heard, our pastor, was speaking directly to us. I sensed he could feel our pain. His words affirmed what I've known:  I am being refined, fine tuned and strengthened.  God's words are my promise for healing.

Habakkuk 3:19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.

John 16:33  I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Revelation 21:3-5  I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: "Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They're his people, he's their God. He'll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone." The Enthroned continued, "Look! I'm making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.

I was right, Matt Heard knew we were there....he sought Tom and I out in the last worship song and hugged each of us tightly and spoke God's promises in our ears; touchable grace.

After church we went to lunch with a couple wonderful families and then off to Luke's basketball tournament in Denver with our dear friend Isaiah, one of Ryan's close friends.  It was an afternoon of laughter, sweet conversation and some awesome yelling at the refs (one of my favorite ways to blow off steam)....although today I was quite subdued as I just didn't have much fight in me.  Luke did awesome and his team came in 2nd.  It was a beautiful day.

Thank you to all of our friends who touched us in such a special way today through your touch, your smile, your prayers, your words, your acts, your love; touchable grace.  You out-touched your talk.  We love and appreciate each one of you.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Has my life turned upside down?.........

My dear friend, Shen,
 capturing my heart, once again.

Five weeks today....it seems like just yesterday Ryan died, yet so much has happened in five weeks, how could it only be five weeks?  I'm tempted to type that my life has been turned upside down in the last five weeks.....but has it really?

Yes, my beautiful son is no longer living on this earth.  But I haven't "lost" him, which is common terminology for when someone dies.  I know exactly where he is, with his Savior. And, I know he is happier than any other time in his life.  Yes, we have a hole in our hearts and in our lives that will always be there because of his absence.  We will probably tear up easily the rest of our lives when thinking of Ryan.  Those tears will be a spackling of sorrow and joy.  Yes, this is the hardest journey I have ever been on.  Yes, I've never cried so much in my life.  But I have to wonder at whether those tears mean my life has been turned upside down?  I think I can honestly say, "No!"  Please hang on as I explain.

I can say, "No", my life hasn't been turned upside down because the security in my life did not hinge on Ryan.  Oh my, did he fill my life with joy and love and things only Ryan could fill it with. And I will miss those things forever!  But over the years when I have sung the worship song, "My heart will sing...no other name....Jesus,  Jesus,"  I haven't been putting Ryan in the blank.  I have not been singing, "My heart will sing, no other name, Ryan, Ryan."  It is so easy to fill in those blanks with people, things, jobs, marriages, hopes, dreams, accomplishments, etc.  But when we have Jesus in those blanks and the circumstances of our life become excruciating, our life does not have to turn upside down! I've always thought I believed this and now that I have walked through these dark shadows, I still believe it.

I've always known that my moment by moment choices will be what impact the outcome of my life.  All those years ago when I gave my life to Jesus, it was a choice, every day since then it has been a choice to leave my life in His hands.  Not every moment has been a successful release of my life to Him, but overall, I've had an unshakable TRUST in releasing it all to Him.  As I walk through this grieving process there are times when my feeling of pain has overshadowed my feeling of God's presence in my life.  But it has been at those times that I have chosen to claim His promises to override what I don't feel and what I don't see.  I do not doubt that this is why at five weeks, on Mother's Day weekend I am not curled up in a ball on my bed, drowning in my tears.  Tears will come, but they will not override God's presence in my life and they will not turn my life upside  down. I am amazed at God's goodness and faithfulness to me as I CHOOSE TO TRUST HIM DAILY!

As I was driving home from work yesterday the song, "Whatever You Are Doing", by Sanctus Real came on.  This is my cry for me, my family, others grieving and those who want more from their walk with Christ.  I know so many in a tug of war of control with Jesus.  Yet, is he really tugging? I see Him standing with open, loving arms, waiting for us to give up all ends of our rope.  We are so often tugging with ourselves.

It's time for healing, time to move on
It's time to fix what's been broken too long
Time to make right what has been wrong
It's time to find my way to where I belong

There's a wave that's crashing over me
And all I can do is surrender

Whatever You're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but somehow there's peace
And it's hard to surrender to what I can't see
But I'm giving in to something heavenly

Time for a milestone, time to begin again
Re-evaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow Your will,
Or just climbing aimlessly over these hills?

So show me what it is You want from me
I give everything, I surrender to...

Time to face up, clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I've wanted to say for so many years
Time to release all my held back tears

Whatever You're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but I believe
You're up to something bigger than me
Larger than life, something heavenly

Whatever You're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but now I can see
This is something bigger than me
Larger than life, something heavenly
Something heavenly

Ryan has achieved the HEAVENLY.
Now I look to God for what He wants to do in me in the "aftermath",
 that is bigger than me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Others have gone before me....................

I am not the first to cry out and be comforted

Psalm 77:1-15 

I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might, I yell at the top of my lungs. He listens.

 I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord;
my life was an open wound that wouldn't heal.
When friends said, "Everything will turn out all right,"
I didn't believe a word they said.
I remember God—and shake my head.
I bow my head—then wring my hands.
I'm awake all night—not a wink of sleep;
I can't even say what's bothering me.
I go over the days one by one,
I ponder the years gone by.
I strum my lute all through the night,
wondering how to get my life together.

Will the Lord walk off and leave us for good?
Will he never smile again?
Is his love worn threadbare?
Has his salvation promise burned out?
Has God forgotten his manners?
Has he angrily stalked off and left us?
"Just my luck," I said. "The High God goes out of business
just the moment I need him."

Once again I'll go over what God has done,
lay out on the table the ancient wonders;
I'll ponder all the things you've accomplished,
and give a long, loving look at your acts.
O God! Your way is holy!
No god is great like God!
You're the God who makes things happen;
you showed everyone what you can do—
You pulled your people out of the worst kind of trouble,
rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph.

Psalm 107:13-16

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. And He saved them from their suffering.  He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death. And He broke their chains.   Let them give thanks to the Lord for His loving-kindness and His great works to the children of men!   For He has broken gates of brass and cut through walls of iron.

No friendship, relationship, book or act has the ability to comfort me like His Word.


Monday, May 7, 2012

I want to be done with this.....but.......

 Last week Steven Curtis Chapman closed out the CAFO convention on Friday night.  I love his singing but I was so wiped out from four days of worship twice a day that I could hardly enjoy him.  I left after a few songs.  Worship simply wipes me out as the words carry such great impact in my life since Ryan's death.  But during the songs that I stayed for I couldn't help but look at him with jealousy that it has been four years since his young daughter was killed in an auto accident.  I wanted to be where he was....beyond the shock, beyond the excruciating pain, beyond the first mother's day, birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.  I know his family still grieves her, but they are beyond that gripping sorrow.  They have seen the strength that has come and they are living in true joy, not just promised joy.  I wish I could rush this grief garbage, but I know I can't.  

I know the impending Mother's day this coming weekend is what is causing me to just want to be done.  I've been racking my brain trying to figure out how to get through it without the pain I know will come.  I still have beautiful children to celebrate with and I am so grateful for them and love them deeply.   But I know that the loss of my first born, my flesh, my son that I celebrated 20 years with, will bring unavoidable pain and tears.  My tears are already falling.  Every time I read that sentence they fall harder. This is my reality, this is my truth.

Even though this pain is my reality and some days it is about the practice of just "getting through".... I know that His promises are true and I will be on the other side of this grief in God's timing.  His promises are what is caring me through.  

..for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut. 31:6b

The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting armsDeut. 33:27a

I [God] have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee. 2 Kings 20:5b

The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving towards all he has made.  The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves themPsa.145:17-19

He [God] heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.Psa.147:3

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.Psa. 46:1

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Yes, I want to be done.....but, I am trusting God for His timing because I have complete faith that if I do this then I will come out of this pain stronger and with a deeper sense of joy that only God could put in my heart.  And, I do this because if I do not grab everything out of this that God wants for me, then it will not have been worth the pain of Ryan's death and his death will have been in vain.  I want Ryan dancing in heaven next to Jesus as he watches his mom draw nearer to God through her pain. 

Oh, that no one would waste this opportunity my son's death has brought as it has brought the reality of Christ into our lives, front and center.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Shared Grief................

I read that Grief is the aftermath of significant loss and that it is more than sorrow, but a rawness you feel at the center of your being.   I'm very aware of this aftermath and rawness they are talking about....it is after the shock of the loss and smack dab in the middle of the reality of the hole left in your life.  The hole is so visible in the eyes of those left behind.

My writing this blog has been a reflection of my personal journey through pain, loss and sorrow....grief.  Others have asked how the rest of my family is doing.  They are on their own journeys and I have not wanted to speak for them....but their hole is deep and raw, just like mine; each of us trying to push through this grief in our own way.  It takes effort to understand each other's journey as we are often in our own secret place of grief and unable to formulate our thoughts.

I came home from a four day convention last night and became very aware of the individual journeys my family are on.  It was easy for me to go away and focus on my own journey for four days.....but I left behind my loved ones who are journeying themselves.  Taking myself out of the pit of grief and then coming back in helped me see the acute pain we are ALL working through.  My last journal was cautioning myself about getting stuck out on emotional islands.  As a family grieves it would be so easy to focus on our individual islands of grief and not be there to pull each other back to the mainland.  The best way I know how to do that is to keep encouraging one another to speak and feel our emotions.  When we can express our emotions and force ourselves to verbalize and not "stuff", the healing process can begin.

Pray for us as we allow individual journeys, but actively work through our grief and not hide it.  We must do this as we try and live our normal lives; graduation, end of school,  planning for the future, work, ministry....LIFE!   But as Charles Swindoll said, "A teardrop on earth summons the King!"  I'm so grateful that through this journey we have the Great Comforter going before us and coming behind us.

Rob, Luke, Tom, Gail, Amanda, Ryan

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Matthew 5:4

It is a promise, and I believe it!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Living on an Island of emotion............

Today I woke with the thoughts of how easy it would be to live on an island of emotion.  There is a certain comfort and familiarity with emotions that we feel so intensely; fear, anger, sadness, isolation, un-forgiveness.....  These emotions can almost seem like a "best friend".

I am not afraid of emotion.  I welcome the emotions that have become such an integral part of my life in the past four weeks because they remind me that I am alive!  The loss that amplified my emotions has forced me to feel more deeply than ever before.  Some might be tempted to run away from these emotions, some might hold on to them much too tightly.  I feel like God is teaching me to receive them, feel them and then allow Him to replace them with Himself.

I go through my day and all of a sudden an emotion grabs hold of me.  The other day Luke and Tom and I were in the car and Luke was driving.  (No, I'm not going to talk about the emotion, FEAR!) I was in the back seat enjoying the "normal" bantering back and forth and all of a sudden the memory of the police coming to tell us Ryan had died came rushing through my mind.  It was a dart out of nowhere.  I immediately teared up and started sniffling.   I found myself being carried out on an island of sorrow with no warning.   I closed my eyes, took it in and cried out to the Lord silently for comfort.  I felt Him saying, "I'm here.  I'll always be here.  It is o.k. to miss Ryan....but he is right here by me.  He loves you."  It took me about 5 minutes to let this all wash through me.  I then came back to Luke and Tom in the front seat and felt thankful for my beautiful son and strong husband.  Their lives and God's comfort brought me back off the island and onto the mainland.

I'm no expert but it feels like this is a good way to handle these emotional storms that land me on an island by myself.  I let them come, spend some time on the island but then allow God's healing touch and the here and now to bring me back to the mainland.  Some days it might take longer than other days to get back, and that is o.k.  Some days I might need my husband or family or friends to help bring me back.  I am so blessed to have friends and family that allow me to experience my pain and my emotions and are there to hug me and bring me back onto the mainland when I am ready.

What I don't want to happen is to be stuck on an emotional island, not because feeling emotions are a bad and weak thing, but because when I am on an island by myself, I am on an island by myself.  I am alienating all those around me.  I've known others to camp out on islands of fear, anger, sadness, un-forgiveness, etc. and as they clung to their island you could see the destruction take place around them.

I don't want to be best friends with my emotions....I want to be best friends with Jesus and with the family and friends He has put in my life.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.  
II Corinthians 1:3-5

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I'm being fine tuned..................

It has been a couple days since I have had a chance to write down my thoughts.  I've been at the CAFO Convention in Orange County, CA.  I miss my family but it has been good to have a change of environment to give me an opportunity to focus on something different.  Try as I may, the events of the last 4 weeks seem to find me wherever I go.  Sorrow, continually trying to call me back.

It has been gray and cloudy .  The weather kind of fits with the murkiness of my life right now.  My intention was to come to CA and find sun and warmth and instead it has been cloudy and cool.  I purpose to find strength in the day and yet the sadness of Ryan's absence still finds me.  But, both of these failed attempts are o.k.  Even with gray clouds overhead and a chill in the air and the sadness that grips my heart I am able to experience moments of laughter with friends and joy in my life passion of helping kids in crisis.   I wonder at the ability to "feel" so many different emotions all at once.  This is new for me. I feel as if God is fine tuning me.  Yesterday in my "Jesus Calling" devotional it said, "You are learning to appreciate tough times, because they amplify your awareness of My Presence." Boy is that true. Those words just JUMPED off the page at me.

I have such a keen sense of God's presence in my life.  I was thinking the other day about whether I would alter things if I could.  If I would have known I would only have Ryan for 20 short years would I still want to go through this pain?  Without hesitation I can say, YES!  Ryan gave us so much laughter and fun, but most of all, Ryan is the reason I have such a solid faith.  Because of how God wired Ryan I had to learn years ago to put my kids in God's hands and entrust Him with "The Bigger Story".  I feel so blessed to have been chosen to be Ryan's mom 20 years ago.  His life and death have brought me to a place of surrender to the Lord and trust in the outcome.  Yes, there will be sadness....but that sadness is wrapped in God's peace and comfort.

So as we move into the 4th week without our son, "My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen me by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in me as I open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, I'll be able to take in the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live a full life, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, I know—far more than I could ever imagine or guess or request in my wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing me around but by working within me, his Spirit deeply and gently within me." Ephesians 3:14-19