Friday, February 22, 2013

Great Rescuer

A couple weeks ago, I was reading to Erika the story of the raising of Jairus' daughter from her Jesus Storybook Bible (Sally Lloyd-Jones). Jairus, heart-broken over his daughter's grave illness, runs to find Jesus. To beg Him to come and make his precious girl well again. Jesus agrees but stops on His way to give new physical and spiritual life to a desperate, bleeding, broken woman. And in that time, Jairus' sweet daughter slipped from life to death. It was too late.

Nope. Not too late. This man has power over DEATH! He grabbed that soft hand, and "reached down into death and gently brought the little girl back to life" (Lloyd-Jones). Imagine the state of that household. The shock, the rejoicing, the faith! Imagine Jairusfrom the depth of sorrow to the height of joy!

Erika was more attentive and still than usual while I read this story. Was it the little girl? Her loving father? Death? The picture of Jesus holding the little girl? I'm not sure what in the story grabbed her interest. But, she was listening. Intently.

I talked with her about how Jesus is our Great Rescuer. That when sin entered the world, death entered too. And Jesus broke sin's power. He beat death. So we don't have to die because of our sin. It seemed to me to be a good conversationone that she partially understood. I tucked her in and kissed her goodnight.

And then, as I was washing my face, she crept out of bed and stood in the doorway of the bathroom. "So, when is my daddy coming home then?" Jesus beat death, right? So, Daddy should be home any time now. Spiritual death is different than physical death, Baby. We still live in a broken world. So we still are surrounded by physical death. Everywhere we look. Jesus came to show us that He has power to forgive sins. Jesus, when he made a lame man walk, said, "Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise, take up your bed and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins" (Mark 2:9-10).

She didn't get it. I feel quite inept. It seems I got her hopes upthat maybe we don't have to wait for Jesus to take us to heaven. Maybe He will bring Daddy back from death for us? Like that little girl in the story. And things can be for us how they used to be.

This week, there has been news of deaths touching my family and friends. Three this week. And I'm reminded afresh of the devastation of sin. This painful, broken world. But then I remember our ONE TRUE HOPE. Jesus. Our Great Rescuer.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

It's a lovers' holiday, isn't it? And so, if you don't have a lover, this day feels a bit like there is a blinding spotlight on your single status.

I'm very grateful to my parents, though, who made the day special in our familymade it into a day to be very intentional in telling each other how much we loved them and just what we loved about them. Mom would buy us fun little gifts (and still does)socks, undies, hair accessories, candy. But best of all...we wrote notes to each other. And Dad wrote notes to each of us and left them on the breakfast table for us. The highlight of the morning was running to the table to see what he left for us. I still have a stash of those notes from my dad from 20 and more years ago. Thank you, Dad. I love you.

My family (December 2012) L to R: Mom, me, Erika, Abby (my sis), Micah, Dad, Ruthie, Jake (my brother-in-law), Alaina, Gus, Matt (my brother), Julie (my sister-in-law)

When I got married, Valentine's Day became even more fun. I had a VALENTINE. And this valentine of mine made this day pretty fun (are you surprised? He loved any excuse to celebrate!) There were the usual cards, flowers, chocolate, gifts. And an amazing dinner outusually steak. Yeah, it was cliche, I guess. But I don't care. I loved it. And I'd do anything to have it this year too. I think this whole "it's a greeting card holiday" is sort of lame. Celebrate the people you love! Do this every day, but make it really sappy on Valentine's Day! Here's some marriage advice—and it's on me: guys, your girls might say they don't care about this day, but if you made it really great...well, I have a hard time believing she would object. We are all at least a little bit romantic at heart.

Chris and I also made sure to listen to Glenn Beck's hilarious Valentine's Day show, in which he rescued guys who had completely blown it with failing to get restaurant reservations... it was really funny. And we always watched (you guessed it) the Charlie Brown Valentine episode (the classic one). And do not forget Jake calling and texing (several times) "HAPPY BALENTIMES DAY!" (just like Mr. T).

This year, I've been thinking a lot about my last three Valentine's Days:

2010our first as a family of three. I sent out valentines from Erika to her little friends.

2011my dad was at United Hospital for a procedure (on his heart, no less) and my sweet, tiny nephew Gus was in the NICU down the hall. We delivered a valentine steak dinner to Matt and Julie to eat in that little (sort of depressing) NICU family area, and we also visited my dad. When we came home, we put Erika to bed and ate the same steak for a home date for our Valentine's day. And then (this is the best part!), I sent Chris on a treasure hunt in the house. Abby helped me with the rhyming clues that led him to his Valentine's Day and 40th birthday gift all-in-one... a trip to Fort Myers, FL for Twins Spring traing. Five days at the beginning of March. He was so thrilled, and I was overjoyed to give it to him.

March 2011 in Florida

2012this one is very difficult to remember. I feared he would die on Valentine's Day. He did not. And when I left him with Aunt Sissy for a bit that day to get a card for him (I didn't want to buy it ahead of time in case I would be stuck with a card I could never give him) and some little gifts for Erika, he asked me to pick out a card for MYSELF on his behalf. How does one pick out their own valentine? How do you decide what that person wants to say to you? Somehow, it was not that hard. I knew how he felt about me. And it did not feel conceited. I felt his love deeply, and I knew what he appreciated about me. He wrote very little in that card (because he could not), and it was in very shaky handwriting. I can't quite remember what he actually wrote. Perhaps I will look at it before this day is over. And then the three of us watched Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown. For the last time together.

This day is the last "first" I will have in this year after his death. Somehow, it seems almost cruel that it is Valentine's Day. Yet, I strive to look to the Lover of my soulJesus. I pray He would fill me up on this day. That His love would satisfy me.

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore, the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the goodness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light. Ps. 36:7-9

I wish you all a very happy Valentine's Day. May you be blessed as you look to the Lover of YOUR soul and at those you love.

Friday, February 8, 2013


"Take the hardest thing in your life—the place of difficulty, outward or inward, and expect God to triumph gloriously in that very spot. Just there He can bring your soul into blossom." (Lilias Trotter)

Can this really be true? Can the heart of pain become a soul in blossom? Lord, come in and triumph gloriously in the very hardest thing in my life! Whisper Your comfort to me. Fill up this lonely heart as only You can.
This is a painful world. Filled up with sin and brokenness. I long to escape it! I feel jealous of my husband who has gone on before me...left me behind. This life sometimes feels like a very difficult battle—a deeply wrenching struggle.
And I look around. I look at the pain in your lives too. The illness. The battle against yourself. The depression. The loss of a dream. The loss of one you loved and thought you could never do without... And I desperately pray for us all that He would triumph gloriously IN THAT VERY SPOT. Love to you, my dear friends.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Eleven Months

Can it really be that Chris has been gone for eleven months? It does not seem like that. In many ways, the loss of him still seems quite fresh. And sometimes I worry that I might be the only one (or one of the few) who feels this way. Once we are past the anniversary of his death next month, will that be it? Will people stop talking about him? Will they stop missing him?

I love when people talk about him, tell funny stories about himeven if those stories aren't about a perfect saint (which he wasn't, after all). I love it when people tell me what they miss about him. And when they remind me of history I'd forgotten. I love it when my baby girl talks about her daddy. I don't want any of that to stop.

Will his memory fade in people's hearts and minds? In Erika's? In mine? I don't really think so, but I do wonder sometimes. And I wonder whether I will feel very alone in my missing of him.

Well, I have big plans for the anniversary next month... I wanted to be away from this frigid place on March 1st. Somehow, it seems the cold would accentuate the fact that my man is not here to keep me warm. I wanted space to cry, laugh, remember... I felt it would be best to not be with Erika for this (she has already had to witness her mom's swinging emotions enough, and it seems to disrupt her security).

So, here's the plan: Abby (my sister), Julie (my sister-in-law), and Maria (a friend) are flying with me to Arizonaone of my very favorite places. The heat there warms you to your bones. The sun shines on you every day. I will have sweet friends around me. The kind of friends to whom you can say anything. They will love me, hug me, cry with me, leave me alone, have dinner with me, or tell me really funny jokeswhatever I ask of them.

A very kind and generous couple, who I have never even met, is giving us the use of their condo in Scottsdale (for the second year in a rowAbby and I went here last year just a few weeks after Chris died). I am exceedingly blessed by so many.

And so, in this last month of the first year of being without him, I grieve much. I anticipate much. Sorrow mingled with great hope.