Friday, March 29, 2013

A Very Good Friday

Four years ago, I experienced something of a spiritual awakening.
I had been aching with the pain of childlessness—pain that spanned over six years. That pain had soured inside of me. In some kind of self-sufficient effort to protect myself, I hardened. My heart became a rock. I saw God as a cruel “cosmic bully” (to borrow A.W. Pink’s term). He was playing around with my life and breaking my heart.
So I didn’t care for Him. At all.
And incidentally, I didn’t care for many people either. The bitterness wrapped around my heart and stole love and compassion from nearly every interaction. Relationships deteriorated.
But then! The Lord used this Word to melt my stony heart:
We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)
And He used a faithful woman who spoke the hard truth to me with great tenderness.
He pulled me back to Himself—drew me with “bands of love” (Hosea 11:4). He wouldn’t let me go. I was His, and He chased after me. While I ran the other direction. His living and active Word changed me when I was not looking to be changed.

Then Good Friday came. And the sky never looked brighter. My heart felt it might burst with joy. That mercy and grace He promised for my time of need had filled me up. And it overflowed.
I felt more profoundly than ever before the great sacrifice that was the death of my Great High Priest. And I rejoiced more fully than ever before in the great triumph that was His resurrection! Because I knew it was for ME.
And so, I celebrate Good Friday as the anniversary of my heart’s capture.  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Never Left Alone

Erika missed the hand-off. She was napping when I came home and relieved Nana of the child-caring. Then Nana left, and I knit in my room. Just next door to my girl.
When she woke, I did not hear her. She went directly upstairs in search of her Nana. She found no one—only an empty, quiet house.
Some time after that, I decided it was time to wake her or she would never go to bed that night. I found her bed empty, so I went in search of her. What I found when I reached the top of the stairs shook me.
I saw my sweet girl kneeling in the middle of the living room—sobbing desperately. She clung to her blanket and lion. Her face was red, tears streaming down her face. And fear—near terror—was in her eyes. Oh, my Baby!
"I couldn't find Nana!"
My tiny, vulnerable three-year old believed herself to be all alone. Abandoned. And absolutely helpless. 

We ran toward each other. Sobs began to shake my body then. I grabbed her and pulled her close to me. I rocked her and stroked her head and repeated—over and over—"I will never leave you alone. Never!"
And after some minutes in my arms, she calmed. I took her little face in my hands, and I told her again, "I will never leave you alone, Baby." And she believed me. She leaned into me. She rested in my arms.

What a picture! If a flawed mother can be so profoundly moved with compassion for her child, think how much more a Holy God is overcome with compassion for His child!
I can recognize that Erika's fear was irrational—not based on any past action on my part. And a result of her not seeing the whole picture. But the fear was true and real and gripping to her. And that fact stirred my love—my compassion. I ran to her. I did not tell her she was ridiculous for believing herself abandoned. I only kept repeating promises to her.
How often I find myself in Erika's place—gripped with fear that I have been left alone. Abandoned. Forgotten. Absolutely helpless. And my Father weeps with me. He soothes me. And He repeats His promises to me. He reminds me what He will never do. 

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, for The Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you or forsake you." (Deut. 31:6)
We chose this verse for Erika when she was born. Her name means "courageous, forever strong." May her strength and courage come when she realizes the forever nearness of her God! He will never leave His child alone!

Friday, March 15, 2013


One night, I yelled at Erika. I mean really yelled. I heard myself while I was doing it and thought "I was never going to yell at my child!" But things kept spinning out of control. Outside me, but mostly inside me. So, I didn't stop yelling.
Stop peeing!!! Just STOP peeing!
And she didn't stop.
The stream of urine still would have hit my leg and puddled on my toes, whether I yelled or not. The difference lies in how I made my daughter feel. And what I told her about life through my response. She sobbed big, heavy sobs.
My meltdown paved the way for hers. And it painted a blueprint for her. It's ok to come unglued when you are really mad. And Mom cares more about the mess she will have to clean up than finding out the reason why I wet my pants. 

this picture of my sweet girl seems to underscore my wretchedness
 Oh Baby, forgive me! I really do care more about your little heart and your little body than I do about some pee on my foot!
And there is grace. Forgiveness. From God and from people—the little person in this case. They both granted it so completely.
And daily, I fail like this. As a Christian. As a mom. As a friend. How very desperate would be my condition if I found all my goodness in myself! Every bit of me that is good is not me at all. And when I betray this goodness, there is still more goodness waiting. Forgiveness.

Spurgeon writes this:
You, seeking sinner, with all your sin, will be received. “Only return”—those are God's two gracious words—“only return.” What! Nothing else? No; “only return”... Return, return, return! Jesus is waiting for you! He will stretch forth His hand and pull you in--in to Himself, your heart's true home. (Morning and Evening, 3/13 PM) 
Yes, I will return.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Make Us Glad!

I spent the first anniversary of Chris' death away from home. I was in Arizona. And as I sat on the sunny balcony early that morning, I was so relieved that I had planned it the way I did. The sun streamed over my legs. I held my coffee and my Bible. The tears came freely. I recounted the days and hours leading up to his departure--and the days and hours following. I was a bit fearful to conduct this recounting, but it seemed very important for me. And, as I expected, it was extremely painful. I remembered things I hadn't thought on for a very long time. But when I was done, it felt a bit like a heavy weight was lifted.

And both the sun and the Son seeped into every pore, bringing warmth and healing. 

And then my sweet girlfriends and I ate delicious food and soaked in more sun at the pool. Thank you, my dear friends, for being with me in this! The day that started in tears ended in laughter. I prayed that somehow this may be a metaphor. That in life, abundance of laughter may come after abundance of tears. Beauty from ashes. Joy in the morning.

I pray with the psalmist: "Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us!" (Ps. 90:15) Spurgeon (in his Treasury of David) says about this verse: "If we have fierce affilictions, we may look for overflowing delights, and our faith may boldly ask for them."

And so I boldly ask, "Make us glad!"

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Chris would have been 42 years old today. Wish I could celebrate with him. Instead, I'm wrapping up a fantasic vacation in sunny Arizona. Without him, though. He loved it here—hot and dry—and have I missed him very much.

I've entered my second year without him... I've already not celebrated a birthday with him. This feels strange, yet a bit relieving I suppose.

Happy birthday, Chris.

The last birthday I celebrated with Chrishis 40th (2011)

Friday, March 1, 2013

One Year

I made it. A whole year without him. A whole year of “firsts”—learning how to do life without my man. And I’m enormously sad. I haven’t felt this sad in several months. I can’t really believe it’s been 12 months. 52 weeks. 365 days.
The separation feels dreadful.

I miss you Chris! I miss your passion. Your excitement about your God, your girls, your life. I want to hear your explosive laugh just one more time. I want to dance with you in the kitchen and have you badger me to say or do something utterly ridiculous just so you can laugh at me. I want to hear you tell me to loosen up and not care how dumb I'd look. Have fun!
I want you to see our girl. Oh Chris, she’s amazing! She’s smart and beautiful and talkative and outgoing and winsome. You would be so proud of her. You'd still be showing videos of her to everyone we knowand even people we don't know. She talks about you, you know. She wonders when we will get to see you again. I wonder that too.

Remember the way we would look at each other after you came out of Erika's room when you put her to bed? We would smile at each other and wonder just how on earth we got to be parents to this fantastic girl. I want to co-parent with you. Co-marvel at our great gift. Each time she does something hilarious or kind, I want to be proud with you. And when she is a pill, I want to talk with you about how we should deal with her. I want to raise her with you. Isn't that what we planned?
I want to ask you questions again. You knew a bit about everything and had a lot to say about it. Sort of like an encyclopedia. I miss that brain of yours. I miss hearing you teach Erika the Hebrew alphabet. I can’t give her that. But you will be happy to know that your Netflix cue is intact. I may not have watched any of your selections thus far, but they are waiting for me should I get desperate for some Deep Sea Detectives or history of ancient Rome.
I want to feel your arms around me again. Be kissed by you. Look into your handsome face. I want you to look at me again so that I feel that I’m the most beautiful, interesting, treasured woman in the world.
I want to admire you as you talk with people who want to talk with you. People who want your advice, your encouragement. I want to see the care you have for their souls. And I want to pray for you as you preachand be uplifted by your words.
Oh Chris, how blessed I was to have walked some of this life with you! How blessed I was to have been loved completely by you—one of the very best men I have ever known.
I made this video for you. Remember this song ("The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson)? You used to turn it up when it came on the radio. You knew I loved its sweetness. You loved it too, I think. Thank you for taking me "the way I am." For living this life with me. For helping me and letting me help you. And for being the best daddy ever. I miss you, my love.