Finishing The Race

Pursuing God One Shin Splint at a Time

Eight Years of Grieving

It’s been a long time.

But it’s passed in a slow blink.

I haven’t tried to write in a long time either. Yet here I am, something urging me to reflect each year on this date. It marks the date my whole world changed in every conceivable way. So I guess it’s worth the pain of writing to do it.

I say “pain” because it is NOT easy for me to write about real, hard stuff.

Not easy at all, it’s painful, yet so good for me to do so.

This past year has been especially tough since returning to counseling. I’ve pulled out and inspected memories I had stuffed from the day of the accident all the way to weird hang ups all in my head. I’ve read a plethora of books to help me along the journey and I feel like I had to retreat from writing and sometimes from even “peopling” this past year.

I feel the heaviness lifting. And I could cry a river of relief about it. But I don’t. Yet.

An emotional dam has been in place for so long. I’m afraid to even let a trickle out, the emotions are so strong and deep.

It’s typical for me to fall into the swirling remembering and reliving the end of 2008 and then as the “day” approaches I feel a lifting in my spirit. It’s from the prayers of those who love us. They know what’s coming and they have watched me flounder year after year at this time, but they have also been privy to the amazing power of prayer and God’s promise of being close to the broken hearted. Many of these same family and friends were there to see how God lifted me from my bed to get me to the funeral that horrible day in January. It’s bittersweet to know God provides, but doesn’t always answer the prayers we desparately cry.

But I was reminded last night as I am finishing reading aloud to Thomas, “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis, that there is a greater, glorious, plan in effect that takes time to reveal. I got choked up reading this passage in Chapter 15.

“I hope no on who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been–if you’ve been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you–you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing was ever going to happen again.”

C.S. Lewis Book 1 Chronicles of Narnia

I just went right ahead and told Thomas, and Caroline who was reading her own book next to us, “I’ve done that before, when your daddy went to heaven. And I didn’t know if I would ever feel okay again.” They didn’t say anything in response, which is quite unusual. We finished the chapter together with mighty Aslan overcoming death, stronger than ever. I didn’t tie up the story for them then. We have a couple of chapters left and perhaps I will find some words to explain how I went on living as I decided to believe whole-heartedly in God’s promises, but that I’ll never be the same. And how that’s okay, too.

Perhaps.

C.S. Lewis’s words were with me in 2009 when I was gifted his “A Grief Observed.”

“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth of falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

I feel like I have examined this question from all angles over the years and as soon as I feel peace; I’m shaken and it starts again.

But you know what? It’s okay. I’ve learned that it is part of the process of grieving and living. Spiral around and I’ll learn a “truth” on a whole new level. Fall over the edge, and I find God in a whole new light. He shows me a quality of Himself I hadn’t examined from this new perspective, wherever and however I land.

So here I sit eight years to the day my paradigm of the world exploded and He surprised me again with a  “word.”

Release.

I don’t always have a “word” for the year, but this one came without much effort or even prayer on my part.

It just settled down on me like a knowing that it is time. Release. Time to release.

It’s an interesting experience watching a “word” unfold over the course of a year and what it means each day.

Today I am releasing fear. Fear of writing.

Of the pain.

Of emotion… Oh, man that’s a hard one. Maybe I’ll save that for another day…

My motivation for living back in 2009 were my almost two year old and unborn child. I knew I could not emotionally, spiritually or physically retreat from them. They’ve already experienced enough “damage” by the death of their father.  I had to return to health and as quickly as God would allow. I also did not want to miss their precious, fleeting baby/toddler years in a coma of shock and depression that threatened to overtake me for months after the accident.

It took God Himself providing those to pray continually for us, feed us, nurture our little family back to a place of life and laughter amongst the grieving.

I propel my thoughts into the present, into 2017 and my motivation remains the same, but with more intention and wisdom. Our family is still grieving, but I want my three(!) children to appreciate the beauty of each day, to cherish relationships over things. And to know I still struggle with God, get mad at Him, and love Him more deeply each day as He reveals Himself continually. I ask to be a part of it when I wake each day.

I’ll forever live with a limp from my life experiences, but I’m finding God’s provision to be more than enough to sustain me. Praise Him.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
   and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.”

Isaiah 61:1-4

7 Years

I’ve written this sort of state-of-our-family address each January 5th since 2010 and this one feels a bit different. Maybe when I find my way to the end of pushing these keys it will be a bit clearer. It tends to work that way for me.

One thing I know has carried over each year is how I try to minimize my feelings leading up to “the day”. I try to convince myself it’s just another date on the calendar. What’s it matter?

It just does. Never mind how I try to compartmentalize, rationalize, or -ize it away, it always ends up mattering. Dates carry weight. They give context to events and cause people to connect to where they were (or weren’t) when dates are mentioned.

December 8, 1941

September 11, 2001

January 5, 2009

Depending on the proximity of yourself or loved ones to these dates it matters very differently. And each time the date rolls around again we remember. My timeline has other dates important to me and, Lord willing, I predict there will be more of those to come. But the one that flipped everything I thought I knew to be true is the 1/5/09 one.

The new normal I was forced to work through reverberates to this day. The ability to reconcile “God is good all of the time” and my husband dying before getting to meet our second child was critical to our little family’s future.

And it’s a part of our story. How His grace really does reach me, the way He lifts me from the ashes with new mercies every morning, and the overwhelming urgency I have to tell others about our loving God.

It’s not that I’m “healed” from what happened to me. I still grieve, fear, worry, and have many questions left unanswered, but I’m learning to use those feelings as a catalyst to pray. Continually.

Before this date 7 years ago I didn’t appreciate daily comings and goings like I do now. I look at life differently. It is a gift to be alive, free to make choices. And as I study Jesus I find not death, but life. In abundance.

I am crazy grateful for all the support our family has been given. I am praying today this post will be a reminder of what a good Father we have. And to remember this earth wasn’t ever meant to be heaven, or our final destination, but there is a lots of joy to be found here while we fulfill our purposes and finally get called home!

Christmas 2015

Beginning January 11th there is a free study happening right in your inbox on the “Names of Jesus”. Sign up here to join thousands of others learning more http://www.ifequip.com/

From Tears to Joy in a Day

if we can remember the hope will be there when we are ready to receive it, (1)

Yesterday I saw a lady crying in her car as she sat at a four way stop. I’ve wondered for years why I don’t see more people crying in their cars because this was definitely a “safe” place for me to cry.

When my husband passed away I had a 30 minute commute to work so with my two year old daughter safely away with her grandmother I’d drive crying the whole way, suck it up to teach for a few hours, and then cry all the way back home. It was exhausting…the crying. Grieving is physical work.

But now I realize why we don’t see more people crying as they drive. It’s not that it isn’t happening.

It’s the sunglasses.

Man, it felt so safe behind my sunglasses to let tears flow and strangers in their cars wouldn’t be the wiser. No one would be uncomfortable or weirded out by me.

But yesterday this sweet lady didn’t have on her sunglasses. I could see her tears and you know what–it didn’t weird me out or make me uncomfortable in the slightest bit. I wanted to yell “Me, too!! I’ve been there!” But through our closed windows it would be useless so instead I prayed out loud. In the safety of my quiet car I could call out to the One who can and does help. I know first hand what prayer does and it’s nothing short of a miracle. I prayed for the peace that surpasses all understanding for this lady. I have zero doubt God heard this prayer and helped her.

And it helped me.

It’s reminded me that just because we can’t “see” people crying very often, they are. It’s not just me. And often it’s hidden because of those sunglasses shielding us from the light.

We think we can hide there, but obvious to the world or not, God knows our pain. When we let down our guard and bring the pain into the light, hope is able to fill the darkness.

I know this can take time to get there. Lots of time.

If only we can remember the hope will be there when we are ready to receive it; it can help us hang on until then.

The lady may have been crying because Rick’s bakery canceled her big order of holiday cookies or a diagnosis was received . Either way prayer helps. On any given day either of those circumstances can feel overwhelming.

My busy day ended with a celebration of answered prayers and hope. Some of our girls gathered to shower our friend who is the proud foster momma to a precious baby and to see another dear friend before she moves away with her family to spread God’s kingdom even further. As they finished sharing just the tip of the iceberg of God’s goodness in these life changes, another friend announced her pregnancy, a rainbow baby for this family. No kidding, we barely finished exclaiming our excitement when someone shouted in disbelief, “It’s snowing!!” I truly thought someone was playing a trick on us as I saw the flakes falling outside the door.

The story goes I knocked down no less than four children running to open the front door, but who’s counting? Most of us were able to rush outside to witness this amazing surprise, as it has been about 60 degrees for over a week.

I am still marveling, as I type this, at how well our God loves us. Earlier this same day I had remarked to the lady checking out my groceries (just moments before seeing the lady crying in her car) “My kids are praying for snow, but it will take a miracle with the weather we are having!” She agreed . And then just a few hours later, the biggest snowflakes I have ever seen…the picture is blurry but the joy is clear:

snow1

God sure put an exclamation mark on the day for me. “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

This crying stuff may not apply to you, but it might be the anxiety of the season or fear or some other emotion that takes control under stress.

Last night Jen Hatmaker’s emailed newsletter came through and it speaks to this season for all of us trying to survive…and I believe it applies to all four seasons.

“Finally, a short word to those of us who…endure some stuff during the holidays. This is a time to dig deep for grace and patience and forgiveness, no doubt. In the name of Jesus who came for the love of people, we too can use this time to be radically merciful toward those who’ve hurt us, who are hard, who aren’t sorry, who still struggle.

But it can also be a time for healthy boundaries, safe spaces, hard but productive conversations, and the word no. You have permission to make your home a sanctuary. There is no amount of crazy you are required to bear the brunt of. You do not have to go to everything, help at everything, host everything, or do everything. You can set your own odometer. Whatever takes you further away from Jesus and love and generosity and goodwill, shelve it. The earth will not spin off its axis and you will not retroactively prevent the birth of Baby Jesus. Be healthy, be merry, and may this season be wondrous all over again, because unto us a child was born.

Joy to the world.” –Jen Hatmaker  (emphasis mine)

Good to know.

Lower your shoulders, breathe deeply and remember no matter what happens–we can’t retroactively prevent the birth of Jesus!

Love and blessings to all of you! -Bonnie

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