Skinned Knees

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A question was posed for discussion online recently about prayer, it ended with “….Is He incapable of moving with out man’s prayers?”

I know that we have been given prayer as a gift, a way to communicate with God, but I’ve learned a lot about prayer over the years.

And my views have shifted as I have learned to view God as “Father”.

What I do know is that God’s love for me and His ability to intervene in my life, to lead and guide, to help and care for me, is NOT dependent on the length of time I am able to devote to prayer, how spiritual my prayers are, or if I even have a clue what to say to Him. I have had seasons where prayer was active and alive in my life, where I was able to devote large chunks of time to prayer; and I have had seasons where my prayers are more like a breath or a groan, occasionally a “Help, God.”

He is a Father and He loves like a Father. He moves in our lives like a Father.

If one of my children trips at the playground and falls, followed by tears and that familiar grasp of the knee, I don’t sit by and wait for them to come to me. I don’t sit there for 5 minutes to see if they will cry out for me an appropriate amount of time before I respond. I leap up at the first cry. I leap up at the first sign of a fall.

It’s simple. That’s what any mother or father would do.

I’ve tripped and fallen, my knees are battered and bruised. They are bleeding and I am in pain.

Many of you have fallen in your own way. Many of you are hurting and in pain.

Guess what? We have a Father who comes running right away.

The minute we utter the first groan, the minute He sees our body hit the pavement.

Today God is not waiting for me to get up out of the dirt and drag my hurting self to Him.

He has come down into the dirt with me.

He is not asking me to talk, He is just here.

He is not waiting for me to explain to Him how much I need Him to rescue me, carry me, hold on tight to me.

He is just there, being a Father.

This healing isn’t going to be a quick one. I’m bleeding still.

I know He is there, even though it’s kind of quiet.

He lets me yell at him and tell Him the pain is too much.

He is familiar with my pain.

I know God loves to hear from us, loves to have us express our hearts and ask Him questions. But as a parent (and since He is a Father), I also know that sometimes children don’t have words. Sometimes children just need us to be there.

Sometimes this child just needs her Father to be present in the pain.

Grief can’t be fixed. Grief must be felt.

So here I am with my skinned knees.

And He is here.

 

 

Oh, My Son

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Holding a child’s broken heart in the palm of my hand may be one of the most difficulty parts of my journey through parenthood.

Yes, I have 6 children who are all carrying grief in different ways; and in the midst of my own pain, I carry theirs as well, yet never has the job of loving my children been a burden.

How could it be? How could I ever begrudge rubbing salve on bleeding hearts and bandaging up torn spirits.

My Aiden’s grief is like a gaping wound at the moment and it feels like there isn’t enough salve in the world to ease the pain in his heart, nor enough gauze to wrap around his torn and bruised spirit.

He speaks of his pain in simple words, “I miss Buddy”, countless times each day. But his tears and his sweet sad face speak volumes. His best friend is gone. Buddy, who knew him intimately and had the key to his heart, is no longer by his side, wrapped in his embrace; arms tangled in love, so connected that they seemed as one.

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Unspeakable really. A relationship that involved few words. Aiden would chatter away with his beautiful broken speech and be fully understood.

Mattie would answer back with his eyes, a tilt of his head, a furrowed brow, or a head fallen back in laughter.

And Aiden knew.

Aiden spoke Mattie’s language.

Mattie knew Aiden’s heart.

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And here John and I stand with a jar of slave and a roll of gauze, and it just feels like it’s not enough.

This is real.

This is honest.

This is the pain of parenting children through loss.

 

Please no advice, just please trust us that we are walking through this together and getting everyone the help and support that they need. Just keep praying and sending thoughts of love our way.

“The Castle and the Crane” guest post by Nicholas Dean Loux

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Today was our trip to Magic Kingdom and though my words are still stuck in my head, my son, Nick, shared this today.

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“I haven’t written much about my little brother Mattie, and I haven’t cried about his death for months. But  today, as I’m greeted by a parade of smiling, dancing Disney characters, and a chorus about dreams coming true, I feel a familiar pressure rise underneath my eyelids. The kindness of Mickey Mouse, Goofy’s playfulness, Stitch’s mischievousness, and the quirky gurgle of Donald Duck’s voice rush together and spark memories. Each unique characteristic sculpts a transparent image of my little brother.

I bare down and tell myself “Don’t cry, you’re at the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’.” The character filled caravan passes, and I see in the distance the ever majestic castle with an unfamiliar addition. A construction crane juts out behind the beautiful spires. At first it’s just an eye sore. Then it becomes a perfect representation of how this day feels; a beautiful and fanciful sight, juxtaposed with the reality that all is not right in our magic kingdom.

But I embrace the beautiful things with broken ones and I ride “Thunder Mountain”, eat over-priced food, see faces I’ve only seen on television come to life, and I believe that, even if all my dreams don’t come true, I have a guarantee that I’m gonna see my brother, Mattie, one day in the most magical kingdom of all.”

Perfection

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Hovering above the clouds as we travel to Florida for our bittersweet journey, I am reminded of how small our perception of life really is.

The expanse of the sky is enough to remind me that this life is a vapor. We come, we live, we leave our imprint , and then as we leave this life, we become transformed into a life that is Perfection, never ceasing, full of beauty, Eternal.

But within the confines of this life, it is hard to wrap our heads and hearts around the Eternal.

When life and love leave us, and journey into Perfection, it’s not that we would ever dream of asking them to travel back to imperfection; but our finite hearts cry out for that love that filled a place of perfect beauty in our  imperfect world.

We ache. We long. We suffer because of the ability we each have to leave a mark of love on those we touch. When we who remain have been touched by the love of another, we grieve. Grief is love lost. Grief is a hole that the love of another used to fill. Grief is deep when love is great.

Maybe I’m just weak, but even my strong belief in an Eternal reality does very little to ease my pain. “He’s in a better place” doesn’t change the fact that he’s not with me. “He’s perfect and complete” does nothing to alleviate the agony in my heart that I wasn’t the one to see him take his first steps, graduate from high school, ride a bike, climb a tree, get a job, kiss a girl.

And so it is.

And so I grieve.

And I kind of assume that until I one day enter Perfection, I will never understand why.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

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All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
J. R. R. Tolkien

I cannot imagine facing this kind of trauma without having a season of wrestling with God about issues of faith and love.
Because surely this thing called death feels so wrong.
Losing a child is all sorts of backwards, twisted, messed up, WRONG!

Today it makes me angry. I’m mad that my son died. Just mad.

I’m shake my fist at the sky mad, and guess what, that’s ok! (no trite words or platitudes please)

Thankfully David understood, and his words remind me that it’s ok to ask God hard questions.

Psalm 10:1
Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

Psalm 22:1
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me
so far from the words of my groaning?

Psalm 42:9
I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”

So I will wander through this, and I am certain to find my way.

I am not lost, but surely I am a wanderer.

I will ask questions. Some that will have no answers.

I will read words and ask “God is this true? Show me that You really are Who You say You are.”

I will hear words memorized from years past echo in my mind and ask, “What does this really mean?” or “Where are You in the middle of my pain?”

And at the very heart of it what I am really asking when I cry out is, “Dear God, I hope You are who You say You are!”

And part of me knows that He is.

The other part of me wants Him to show me.

The Weight of Grief

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Sometimes the weight of grief is soft and comforting like a gentle presence that soothes my soul.

But sometimes the its weight is crushing, pressing my spirit to the earth.

I am grateful for the gentle moments, and I am learning to surrender to the heavy ones when they press in.

I think one of the best analogies to explain grief is to imagine your live in an ocean.

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It surrounds you. Touches you continually.

Sometimes with peace, and you float in the stillness. But still it is there, touching you, even holding your body in place.

You breathe and are so aware of the presence of it, yet you are able to float, looking to the sky, marveling at the beauty around you.

You feel your heart beat, you are aware of the rise and fall of your chest as you surrender to the crystal earth below you.

The sunsets, you smile. You allow warmth to cover you, as the water gently suspends you above the depths.

The song of birds serenades you. You give thanks.

But the depths are just a breath away.

Sometimes you feel the stir of the waves beginning to start and you brace your heart for the turmoil.

This is when grief forces you to focus only on staying afloat, you can’t look at the clouds; the gentle song of birds is unheard.

It’s just you and the waves, enduring the tossing and turning.

It’s the reality that you’ve been floating in, but it is slapping at your skin, pressing you down, even filling your mouth with the salty taste of it.

And then the times when without warning an intense wave comes out of nowhere and crushes you beneath its weight.

Filling your lungs with the salty sting. You gasp for air and fight for it.

You are pressed under and wrapped in it. Every fiber of your being feels it.

You are capably of containing nothing else.

And the waves come.

And then they go, and you find your rhythm and catch your breath and surrender to the peace of floating.

You rest in the moments of rest and joy and strength.

You are thankful for the things that surround your life with strength and beauty.

You soak in life.

Until the next wave…..

And you are ever grateful that the One who created you is with you in the ocean, or surely you would drown.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast. -Psalm 139:7-10

Tell the Truth

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Everyone has a story. Not everyone tells the truth about the story they are living.

I believe that there is power in telling the truth about the story that is your life. This is why I write. My story is my truth. It’s a truth people need to hear. It’s a truth that has the power to teach, the power to comfort, the power to encourage. My truth has the power to invite the lonely into the warm place of being understood.

I’m about to get even more honest here because I believe there is power in an honest journey.

And I hope in my journey to tell the truth, to live an honest life before you, I will give you courage as you live your own story. And maybe, just maybe you’ll find the words to begin telling your own truth. Maybe not on paper, maybe in the quiet of your living room with a trusted friend, maybe with that lonely soul you encounter at a coffee shop, maybe with a mother in tears at the park, maybe on the phone with someone you’ve been hiding from. I don’t know how or when or where you will find the courage to share your truth but I pray that you will.

And as we all find the words to our story may we each be brave enough to open our mouth or put pen to paper so no one ever need to feel alone in their own story.