Eleven Years: Lesson #8 – Grief is…

Eleven Years: Lesson #8 – Grief is…

Lesson #8:  Grief is real, grief is hard, grief is good. 

I took several spiritual gift tests when I was a younger version of myself.  And I would always score relatively closely on four of the five gifts.

But there was one gift that I barely scored any points on.  Every single time.

Mercy.

Oh sweet mercy.

My younger self would look at a problem and then just shrug my shoulders and say unsympathetic things like:

  • “God will work it for His good.”
  •  “Get over it.”
  • “God’s plans are awesome.  Trust Him.”
  • “No need for tears.”
  • “Buck up.”

Basically, I was everything you would want in a Christian counselor.

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I thank the Lord for my personal pain and suffering because if nothing else, it has caused my gift of mercy to increase (or to actually show up).

Through the hours, days, weeks and years since Daniel’s short life, I have experienced grief like I never knew it before.
And I can relate and give so much more mercy than my younger self ever could.  Oh my word.  I am so grateful for understanding grief.
Grief is hard.  It will wear you out even if all you do is barely get out of bed each day.  It can make you feel like you cannot put one foot in front of the other

Grief is real.  The feelings that you experience after a loss are so extremely real.  And hard.  And difficult.  And amazingly undesirable.

Grief is good.

As hard as it is to experience a loss on this earth, I am convinced that God absolutely can use it for His good as it promises in Romans.

Would I have chosen grief?  No way.

Would I have chosen heartache?  Nope.

Would I have chosen to bury my son on a snowy day?  Not on a snowy day or a sunny one.

But because I have been able to turn my eyes to the Lord and tell Him of my heartache and my grief and hurt, He has been able to help me through my sadness.

He has taken what was broken and has healed me.

Now there are still scars that will always tell the story of what God has been doing in my life, but praise the Lord that He has walked with me on this journey and it is my prayer that by sharing where I have been and where I am now, He may be glorified.

And that if you find yourself in the midst of grief now, you will turn your eyes to the Lord who can heal your brokenness, who wants to heal your broken heart, who loves you and never leaves you.

And if I could offer you counsel, I would remind you that God will use your story if you will turn to Him and offer it all to Him for His glory.

“And we know that for those who love God all thing work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

 

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11 Years: Lesson #5 – Girls are awesome!

11 Years: Lesson #5 – Girls are awesome!

IMG_7132One day we were standing in the line at our local Walmart, the three little ladies and myself, when a voice behind us said, “Are you going to try again for a boy?”

Never had I met this man before in my life.  I am pretty sure our circles would NEVER cross except for the fact that we shopped at the same Walmart.

While I was debating in my head what to say to this neighborly person, my Lee-Girl said confidently, “I have a brother – my brother is in heaven.”

Then her big eyes waited for this unsuspecting man to respond.

I just smile, an “I am sorry, but it’s true” sort of smile at him.

Now we had made the poor fellow feel quite awkward.   Read more

11 Years: Lesson #1

11 Years: Lesson #1

Today marks the eleventh anniversary of the day when sweet Daniel was lifted from my womb into a world full of medical providers who would monitor him closely for the 36 hours he lived on earth.

Eleven years ago, January 26th was on a Friday.  And today, being a Friday seems hard to walk through my normal activities without remembering exactly where I was and who was with me on that day.   ELEVEN YEARS AGO!

Here is a picture of me about this same time (3pm on that Friday):

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The first time I saw and touched Daniel.

While time has/does heal all wounds, there are some scars that you never can forget the story to.  I am not the same person that I was eleven years and one day ago.  And praise God that I have grown closer to Him and understand more fully His love and grace today than my 27 year-old self ever did.

Yes, I just told you my age.

And even though I have been an absent blogger for, oh say, the last three months, I want to share eleven things that I have learned in the last eleven years thanks to the heartache of my son’s home being in heaven and thanks to a Heavenly Father who never gave up on me or my emotions or my broken heart.

So for those of you who are subscribed to this blog, you will get a notification for the next ten days because here is number one:

Lesson #1: Life is a gift.

Read more

Saturday Shenanigans

Saturday Shenanigans

I cannot believe I posted NOTHING in the month of August.  Life, y’all.  It is so good and full!

Here is our last month with some pictures from my phone.

Dustin had a little foot surgery on July 26th which was much needed.  During the recovery it was fun to have him at home with us for a few days with his foot elevated.  He has much less foot pain now than he had before, so we are praising the Lord for the successful surgery!  (No pictures of this…you are welcome!)

On August 2nd, we celebrated our 14th anniversary.  Since Dustin needed to elevate his foot that night (and needed to work that day), the girls set us up a little romantic table for two and served us a nice dinner.

We have kept my niece a few times over the last month…she is so much fun and loves time with her cousins.  She even yells, “Cousins!” when she sees the girls.

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We went to the beach with said niece a few weeks ago and had a great time enjoying some sun, the solar eclipse and a quick trip to Charleston to see my cousin and meet her daughter.  My aunt and uncle were in Charleston for the week also so we got to visit with them also…I tried to get a picture of the children together…but it was dark and I lack photography skills.

We started school earlier in August and I tried my hand at first day pictures…

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We learned about Snapchat (I know…we are so behind the times).  I like being behind the times, thank you very much!

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And last, but not least, Dustin and I were asked to help facilitate a class in our area for families who have lost a baby.  It starts in a few weeks, but there is still some room if you know of someone who would like to join this class.

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I am so grateful to God for so many things right now.  My cup overflows.

 

B & D

B & D

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We have this little friend who I will call “B.”  He comes and hangs out with us two days a week or so.  He has since he was eight months old.  Now he will tell you he is a BIG boy at his four years of age.

And this little guy is awesome!  His favorite thing to do as of late is to help me with everything.

A few days ago “everything” include dusting with sock puppets and wrapping birthday presents and making sure the gift had lots of tissue “hair.”  (Isn’t that what everyone calls the extra tissue paper we feel obligated to put atop each gift bag?  If it has a name and you know it, let me know in the comments below.)

So in our cleaning with sock puppets (mine ate more dust than his), he came across a round box.  And being the fabulous little gent that he is, he asked if he could open the box before he removed the lid.

I gave him permission and watched him open Daniel’s box. It was given to us at the hospital when Daniel died.  In it I have put things that remind me of him over the years.

Blue knitted caps that were given to us.

Blue and white stones used in a flower arrangement at his funeral.

An ultrasound picture.

B was thoroughly confused when I told him that the ultrasound was a picture of my baby Daniel in my belly.

Lets be completely honest:  ultrasound pictures are not the clearest.  I remember thinking one of my children looked like a primitive dinosaur at one ultrasound…

Anyway, I could tell that B was a little confused and he always desires to understand everything in the world around him.

So I offered to show him Daniel’s baby book.  B absorbed every picture into his brain as I explained that Daniels’s body could not survive here on earth and he had to go to heaven to be healed.  And I reminded him that we would see Daniel in heaven one day!

But B kept looking at the ultrasound pictures asking if this was an eye and that a foot.

Then he looked at me with all the honesty of a little fellow trying to figure out this great big world around him and said, “When I was a baby, I was in….” and he looked like he could not find the words to articulate what he wanted to say.  He looked at me a few minutes longer and I realized he could not remember her name.  I said his birth mother’s name out loud.

He said, “Yes, I grew in her tummy.”

And I realized that there are two little boys in my life who live apart from their birth moms.

Daniel lives in heaven with Jesus.  And B lives with his aunt who is all he has ever known as a mother.

And in both cases it is good.  God’s plans don’t always make sense to us here on earth but we can trust that He is always at work and we are never alone on our journey.

I praise the Lord for providing shelter and protection to my little buddies B & D!

The Lord is the strength of his people;
    he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
 Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
    Be their shepherd and carry them forever.” Psalm 28:8-9

 

Our Day

Our Day

Today I found a new mission in life.  I had never even thought this would be on my radar, but alas, today I needed drugs and I had to travel far and wide to find them.

Yesterday, I woke up with my left eye a little irritated.  I got ready like normal and even put in my contact lenses, but soon discovered that my eye needed a break.  So I took them out and opted for my new glasses.  I thought I would just rest my eye for a day or two and all would be well.

This morning I looked at my eye and realized it was really red.   While it did not have a thick mucus like I had had at a younger age when I had the dreaded pink eye, it was not normal.  I read online and found that if you have a bacterial infection in your eye, it could clear itself up, but it could also cause permanent eye damage.

No, thank you!

I also read online some home remedies for pink eye or a bacterial infection.  Let me just amuse you with these.  If anyone has tried any of these, please let me know how it felt to do this home remedy and if it helped.  But I’ll be honest, as soon as I read these, my eye was hurting more than it had before.  Just read what the internet will tell you to try at home!:

HOME REMEDY #1:  Mix apple cider vinegar with distilled water and squeeze a soaked cotton ball on your eye.  

No way, Jose!  Not me.  I believe in all things with Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar…but only on my skin or in my tummy.  Lo siento, amigo.  

HOME REMEDY #2:  Mix baking soda with distilled water and apply to the eyelids.  

No, sir!  I will not be trying that at home!  

HOME REMEDY # 3:  Mix milk and honey and create an eye rinse.  

Really?!!??  Do I need raw milk or organic milk?  Should it be pasteurized?  Homogenized?  Will my eye stick together?  Do I follow-up this treatment with a warm water rinse?  

HOME REMEDY #4:  Brew a cup of chamomile tea and remove the tea bag.  Let cool and then apply to the eye.

I would be more willing to try this.  It seems almost like a normal idea 🙂  

HOME REMEDY #5:  Dilute fresh lemon juice with cold water and use as a rinse.  

If lemon juice on a cut hurts as much as it does, what would that feel like in my irritated eye?  Who wrote this list of home remedies?  Did they try them out?  

As you can tell, my internet research was not helpful.  If anything, I realized that if my eye had any bacteria in it, I could have some potential long-lasting effects so I called my eye doctor this morning and was so thankful that they had an appointment this morning!  I was praising the Lord all the way there!  (Sorry/not sorry for the comic…it made me laugh!)

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After he did all of his looking at my eye, the doctor determined that I had a bacterial infection and he would treat it with prescription eye drops.  His assistant verified our pharmacy and we headed there.

Upon arrival, I noticed a missed call from our pharmacy so I listened to the message only to find out that they did not have the drops in stock but could get them in a day or so.

Hmmm.

Then I pulled up to the drive-thru window to discuss my options with the pharmaceutical assistant.   She looked on the computer and said that they had at the drops at their other branch about thirty minutes away.

Here is where I will just confess my laziness:  there were four other (Maybe more) pharmacies within walking distance of our regular pharmacy, but because my insurance is on file with them and I don’t mind a little drive (and actually had another errand near the far away pharmacy), I just opted to go to the other same-brand pharmacy.  The assistant said she would transfer my prescription and call to make sure they had it ready for me.

How delightful, I thought!

When I arrived at the other pharmacy, the staff there looked at me like I had a third eyeball and quickly let me know that they did not have the eye drops in stock.  What?!?  How had that happened!?!  But this pharmacy offered to call all the other pharmacies in the county and see if anyone had them.

They did not.

So we tried one more pharmacy back in Boone and alas, they had them.  The only problem was that I had four children in tow who I had taken to Boone and then up to Ashe county and I was not about to make them ride back to Boone to get these drops.  I would just have to wait until Dustin was heading home for him to pick them up.

And he did.  Not only that, when he got home with them, he opened them and has been administering my eye drops so that I don’t have to try to navigate the eye drops in the eye without touching the eye scenario.  He knows me well.

But as I was thinking about all of this, I realized something.  I think we all are searching for something.  Running from place to place to find what we think we need.  Today I needed medication for my eye and I went all around the High Country to make sure I had what I needed.

But how often do we go out of our way and all around the town to get what we think we need.  Acceptance by a certain group.  Approval by that one person.  Love (in whatever love language you speak).

I am thankful that I got these eye drops today – my eye is feeling better already after two treatments!  But I hope that instead of running after personal gain all my days, I run after Jesus and seek Him because I need Him.  Every Hour.  Every Day.

Nothing else can fill the void left when we do not pursue Him.  I want to run after Him every day of my life and encourage you to seek Him and find Him!

But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”  Deuteronomy 4:29

(And if you see me in the next two weeks, just remind me how nice my glasses look since that is all I can wear until my follow-up appointment!  Thanks!)

Our VBS week

Our VBS week

IMG_2756Last week we had planned to participate in a local VBS.  Ruthie and I were to be crew leader and helper since she is officially too old for attending VBS (cue the tears).

Earlier in June, Ruthie and I attended two training meetings, got our matching crew leader t-shirts, and began praying for the crew that would be assigned to us.

Monday morning we met the seven sweetest children who were in our crew!  Ruthie manned the clipboard taking attendance and giving out name tags as I met each child.

We learned the new VBS songs complete with movements and we had the greatest Monday!  Ruthie and I went home praying for our crew and looking forward to the next few days.

Then Monday afternoon, Ruthie laid down on the couch and almost fell asleep. When she woke up, I knew something was not right.  Feeling her forehead, I began to realize that our week’s plans might be changing.

By Friday afternoon, she was feeling back to normal, but VBS ended on Thursday evening.  Ruthie missed the last three days of it!

Thankfully, the VBS directors had volunteers ready to be substitute crew leaders in case a crew leader had to miss unexpectedly.  VBS went on without us, much to our dismay.

But on the second day of being home, Ruthie looked at me and asked me, “Why would God allow me to miss this?  Why would He allow me to get sick when all I wanted to do is help these little children understand how much Jesus loves them?”

That is a hard question to answer.

Why would God want us to miss an opportunity to share God’s love?

I held Ruthie close as the tears streamed down her face.

I explained to her that sometimes God allows things that we don’t think are best, but we have to trust that He is at work even when we do not understand what is happening.

There are several situations in my life like that right now.  Maybe you can relate – you cannot understand what God is doing or why a situation is as it is.  But we can take our frustrations and our desire for wisdom and understanding to Him and ask Him to fill our cups.  And He will.

Maybe not as quickly as we would like.  But He is always there working and our job is to acknowledge Him and to trust Him…that is what faith is, right?

This week I have asked for wisdom and understanding in the midst of situations I cannot explain.  I may not understand (or like what is going on), but I know God is with me and He will make my path straight.

For that I am eternally grateful!

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6