Wednesday, April 18, 2007


It happened again tonight. For the first time in a month or so.

I was walking through a Wal-Mart I don't normally shop, one that has undergone a fairly major "overhaul" in the last month or so, looking for the fabric department. My oldest is in a school play tomorrow, and I needed some red felt to make ladybug spots for a black shirt she'll be wearing.

After several minutes of wandering, it slowly began to occur to me that in the renovation, this Wal-Mart had completely eliminated its fabric department. And yarn. And all things crafty. I was dumbfounded. Sure, we have a Hancock's and Hobby Lobby nearby. And yes, the quality of their merchandise is much higher than anything you could ever find on Wal-Mart's shelves. But, where in the world will I go the next time I'm staying up until the roosters crow trying to finish a baby afghan and lose my crochet hook? Or need just one more skein of white cotton thread to complete a project? Really! I can't even imagine not being able to make a 2 a.m. run to Wally World for thread.

My mother and I have whiled away many happy hours over the years sitting in Wal-Mart leafing through the Vogue and Simplicity pattern books while sipping Coke Icee's.

It upset and surprised me to the degree that I reached for my phone. "Mom's gonna be so upset!" I thought ... and then, once again, the realization that has broadsided me a million times since September 10th.

Adjusting to the sudden loss of someone dear to you is a lot like being given a pair of really small shoes and being told you have to leave them on your feet for the rest of your life. There's never any lessening of the pain. The shoes don't get bigger, nor do your feet get smaller. You may learn to block out the pain, but it is always there. Every experience you have from that moment on is clouded by the pain which ranges anywhere from a dull ache to sharp and stabbing. There's no escaping it.

Since my mother's passing, I have watched my dear friend Angie go through the same thing. And now, another friend, Lisa, is facing the loss of her mother. I've been through everything they're experiencing, and I feel as if I should be ready with some kind of deep wisdom to share. You know, words of comfort from one who has already walked through the valley.

The problem is, I'm still there. Journeying through valley of sorrow is a very long, extremely painful trek. I used to ask the question, "How long before I don't feel this much pain? How long before I can get through a day without tears?"

I've stopped asking those questions and started accepting that the grief process is much longer than I had expected. From what I've read, working through the various stages can take as long as several years and is not a process to be hurried along. It can sometimes mean two steps forward and three steps back. And that's okay.

And it can sometimes mean flipping my phone open in the middle of Wal-Mart to call Mom about the most trivial of occurrences in my life. And being reminded all over again.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

He Is Risen!

After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb. Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God's angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and then sat on it. Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn't move.

The angel spoke to the women: "There is nothing to fear here. I know you're looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed. Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, 'He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.' That's the message."

The women, deep in wonder and full of joy, lost no time in leaving the tomb. They ran to tell the disciples. Then Jesus met them, stopping them in their tracks. "Good morning!" he said. They fell to their knees, embraced his feet, and worshiped him.
Matthew 28:1-9 (The Message)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A Song for Easter

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart TownendCopyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Remembering through writing

"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.
(Psalm 77:11-12, The Message)

I love this verse. Just the idea of the psalmist giving a "long, loving look" at the acts of God brings to mind innumerable wonders in my own life of things the Father has accomplished.

It brings me great joy to remember the Lord's work and to brag on His accomplishments. When He has done something really neat in our lives, how fun it is to "go over what God has done," relishing every detail.

Why, then, is it that so many of us suffer from spiritual amnesia, letting the miraculous details of our lives fade with time?

Perhaps that's why I am so drawn to journaling and blogging. Once written, those details are set. They might fade from our memories, but if written in ink, probably won't fade from paper. They will still be there a year from now, a decade from now, a generation from now, waiting to give new hope and encouragement to whomever reads them. They become an important part of the legacy of faith we hope to pass on to our descendents.

Remember with me this week as we journey to the Cross. Remember all that He has done, and consider with me all His mighty deeds.

And then, write them down.

Monday, April 02, 2007

This do in remembrance of me

Quiet music filled the place. The elements were passed. To my right, my oldest child sat with head bowed reverently, preparing to observe her first Communion.

And with the pastor's instructions to remember all that our Lord has done for us, my mind went back 7½ years ago to the night this precious child beside me joined our family.

* * * * *

It had been a difficult pregnancy, to say the least. Around the 30-week point, my blood pressure became dangerously high, and I found myself on complete bed rest. Despite the precautionary measures, I began having stroke-like symptoms. Each time I felt one side began to numb and my speech became garbled, it became a little more difficult to have faith that this pregnancy was going to have a happy ending.

The baby and I finally made it to the 36-week mark, and my obstetrician decided that was as far as he could allow us to go. On October 29, 1999, by emergency C-section, he delivered to us a very healthy, 4-pound, 13-ounce baby girl. Still emerging from the general anesthesia in the wee hours of the next morning, I hadn't yet held my tiny daughter when I became aware that something was terribly wrong. Slipping in and out of consciousness, I wasn't even able to alert my sleeping husband to the fact that my life was in danger. I had survived the pregnancy, now a postpartum hemorrhage was about to claim me.

Incredible peace filled me, and I somehow knew that whatever happened, it would be for the best.

Some amount of time passed, although I have no idea how much. I became aware of female voices in the room. Concerned. Placing a middle-of-the-night call to my doctor to alert him of my rapidly deteriorating condition. There was talk of a rapid transfer to the ICU. More drugs given. Transfusion begun.

"I'm not going to make it, am I?" I asked the pretty nurse, when I could finally muster the strength to open my eyes.

There was a pause, as she looked at my vitals. "No. I think you're going to be just fine," she answered.

"How can you tell?" I slurred, convinced that the next time I opened my eyes it would be God's face I saw.

"Because your blood pressure is coming up," she replied.

As much as I could, I turned my head to look at the monitor to my right and was shocked to see that I had nearly bottomed out. Of course it was coming up ... it sure couldn't go any lower.

* * * * *
As we held the elements, I opened an eye and looked at my oldest snuggled close to her daddy, and contemplated for a moment what could have been. It could be just the two of them making it through life on their own right now, the younger two having never been born.
I don't fully understand all the reasons God spared my life, but I'm thankful that He did. And I'm not only filled that gratitude that He saved my physical life, but even more that He saved my soul as well.
Remembering and reflecting. As we journey through this Holy Week in anticipation of the celebration of our Lord's resurrection, let us think back on ALL He has done for us. And let us be filled to overflowing with thankfulness for ALL His blessings.