Category Archives: peace

An overflowing cup . . . a full heart.

Jason

Four years ago today, we were planning a celebration.  It was a home going celebration, a celebration of a life well lived. Four days earlier we were planning a different kind of party, a birthday party. A celebration of 30 years on this earth.

What a difference one moment in time can make. In the blink of an eye, in one breath not taken, the world as we know it shifts.

These last four years have been indescribably difficult yet they have been filled with such and out pouring of love from family and friends. I have heard people say over and over that just a few months after a death people disappear and grow weary of the grief. That they are told to buck up and get over it. (As if there is a chance of “getting over it”)

Today on Jason’s birthday I want to thank my family and friends for not being the norm. Not one time have I felt like you just wanted me to get back to “normal”, “to get over it”, to “move on”. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.

I love that you have let me experience my grief how I needed to experience it. I love that you have never left my side. How you have accepted this new me, because the old me will never be again.

Thank you for speaking of Jason, for reminding me of fun times you had with him. Thank you for telling me how much he meant to you, for telling me stories about him that I had never heard. Thank you for telling me you miss him too. This means more to me than you will ever know.

Thank you for being Jesus’s arms that have hugged me, his shoulder to lean on. Thank you for showering God’s love on me.

There are so many I could name here, but I won’t try and name names, there are too many. Two exceptions my daughter, Chelsey, and husband., Tim They have been my rocks, my heart.

My heart is full, my cup is overflowing.

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13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. I Thess 4

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Time. Grief. God’s Goodness.

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Today I am sitting in Jason’s garden.  I have not done that much this year, it has made me too sad. This has been a difficult season for me, I am still trying to put my finger on why. Maybe I need to stop trying to figure out why and just let it be. The sadness is deeper this year, harder to shake off. Maybe there is no why maybe it just is.

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Psalms 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds

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Psalms 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Tomorrow is the 4 year anniversary of the day my world changed forever.

Time is a funny thing, it can seem like forever while feeling like it just happened yesterday.

Grief is a strange companion, mostly polite and staying in a distance so as not to bother life’s everyday. But some days it is demanding and will not be pushed away. (Read more about my thoughts on grief here)

But this truth I hang on to, God is good all the time.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.   Psa 27:11

Jason

 

I remain grateful and feeling blessed for the privilege of mothering this boy turned man. I thank God for the time we were given the last month of his life.  I praise God knowing I will see him again.

And then I smile at the mental picture of Jason, praising God for eternity.

What I have learned about grief

flowerGrief is sneaky. Out of the blue grief sneaks up on me. I do my best to prepare for the anniversaries, the times I know it will be hard. But it pops up, unwanted and unexpected.

Grief is strong. When grief hits it can take me down to the ground. Swiftly, I am out of breath and drowning.

Grief does not play fair. I make deals with grief, it can come when I am prepared, when I am ready to take it on, we have an agreement. Grief does not always abide by that agreement.

Grief is a thief. It sneaks in, uninvited, like a bull in a china shop, breaking our agreement and tries to steal my joy.

This is what I have learned about my grief. I say “my grief”, because everyone has a different grief visiting them, not all griefs are the same.

I have learned to give grief a time limit, especially when it shows up unannounced and bullies me into a puddle of tears. I give my grief  time and attention but with limits. I give myself permission to cry, a lot if I need to. I give myself permission to be sad, very, very sad, if I need to.

And then I invite grief to leave.

These are some ways I encourage my grief to leave; I go outside and soak up some nature. I listen to praise music, I read the psalms. I take a walk/run to get some good brain chemicals active. I count my blessings. I do something creative. I feed my soul. I pray.

I don’t always feel like I want to do these things, but I do them. I am persistent, I keep at it until grief finally gives in. Until it packs up it’s baggage and leaves.

So today, I am being persistent, grief swooped in yesterday and knocked me to my knees, but today I am standing. I am inviting grief to leave without taking my joy with it. Having cried myself to sleep last night in the wonderful arms of my understanding husband, I am sitting in my garden this morning. Worship is music playing, I watch the birds drink from the sprinkler, and the momma and poppa swallows try to keep up with the feeding of the littles. I am preparing for a prayerful walk/run with psalms of praise running through my mind.

I will not let grief overtake me. I have so much to be grateful for, I love my life, I will not let grief rob me of my joy.

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The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Ps 23

Calling all fathers . . . .

Story time

Are you a father or a dad? There is a difference, I read once that just about any man can father, but not all fathers are dads.

Below is a paper written by my son, Jason. I found it when going through his notebooks after he passed. (You can read that story here). I ran across it again this week and I have to tell you my heart hurt and still hurts for this boy turned man who came to realizations that no child should have to. Before I give too much away, here are Jason’s words:

Why did I come? The first woman he made those vows to was my mother. This was where I finally realized that I didn’t want to be like my dad, the man I used to idolize.

Growing up there were rare occasions when I got to spend time with my dad. I knew all those times, he was an important person. My dad would get us into video game arcades where the machines were rigged to let us play for free. He knew the owner of the slot-car track in South Salem, so we wouldn’t have to pay to race. We could go to stores after hours so we were the only ones shopping. My mom would tell me, “your dad knows a lot of people,” and I’ve come to realize that was all there was to it, but it seemed like more when I was younger.

The wedding was in my father’s back yard. It was western themed. My dad along with the groomsmen all wore suits and cowboy hats. There were barrels laying around. Torches illuminated the yard. As impressive as the wedding was, the only thing I could think about was the fact that my dad had gone through this same ceremony with my mom over 20 years ago.

The first thing I remember is going to the park with my dad. He was pushing me on the swing and I, being the AD/HD 3 year old I was, started wondering what it would feel like to let go. It hurt, a lot. The whole way home I was crying and my dad kept saying, “if you don’t shut up I’m never taking you anywhere again.” It turned out that my collarbone was broken. He’s told me since that he feels bad about yelling.

As my dad stood at the altar, he was slightly taller than an average man and slightly more muscular than the average gorilla. His suit and cowboy hat in stark contrast to his normal gym shorts and t-shirt with missing sleeves. The sleeves were ripped off out of necessity rather than any sense of style. Nicely polished cowboy boots replaced his normal sandals. His straight brown hair stuck out just under his hat, and his beard and mustache were shaved off.

Several years back, just after he divorced his fourth wife, my dad called me. He asked me if I thought he could make money as a computer technician. Three months later he was a licensed computer tech. In another month he know more about computers that anyone I’d met. He’s always been like this. Whenever he gets tired of what he is doing he moves on to something else. About a year after the computer job he took a job repossessing cars. About six months later he called me and asked if I wanted to help him fight forest fires on a helicopter for the summer. He didn’t end up fighting. He tore his Achilles tendon while leg pressing something over 1800 lbs.

The minister performed a traditional wedding ceremony. So, despite being outside, in cowboy hats, the normal vows were read, “Through richer and poorer, through sickness and health, till death do us part.”

My parents got divorced when I was 4. I vaguely remember my dad driving away. I didn’t see him or hear from him much after that. After he married his third wife and moved to California, I only saw him two weeks out of the year. He always seemed to work nights, no matter what his job was. When I did visit I’d play Nintendo and wait for my dad to wake up. He would always have something to do before work, so I’d only get to see him for a few minutes. When he’d get home from work early in the morning, I’d always be awake to greet him. All he’d say was, “I’m beat son, I’ll see you when I wake up.”

His bride’s family owned a catering company. There was rice pilaf, chicken, turkey, spaghetti, punch, soda, wine, beer. The food was as aesthetically pleasing as it was plentiful. In the middle of the cake there were three covered wagons with a working waterfall.

He would miss birthdays. He wouldn’t call for months. He would seem to completely forget about me. But when he did call he somehow made me feel like I was the most important thing in the world to him and I sincerely believe, even now, that at that moment I was. We’d talk about my grades, what I was reading, the latest video games or the computer I was working on building. Whenever we would talk about computers the conversation would end with my dad saying, “well s*** son, I’m impressed.”

The reception, still in the backyard, included dancing. The D.J. played mostly country music. I was expected to dance with my grandmother, the brides mother, the bride. “I’m so happy to be married to your dad.” So was my mom. “He is such a great man.” I used to think so too. “He’s so good with my son.”
(Written by Jason Taylor, September 2009)

I ask again, are you a dad to your kids? Married or single, are you a daddy? I get it, being a single non-custodial parent is hard, it is really hard. Just being a parent is hard, but, they are worth the effort. Our kids deserve the effort no matter how hard it is.

I can’t say that often enough or loud enough, your kids deserve the effort, no matter what the effort is. Don’t let it be too late. Start over, do better, don’t say you’ll do better, do it. You can do it, it will be hard, there will be hard stuff, your kids may act as if they don’t want you. Keep at it, keep trying, your kids are worth your effort. They are worth your best efforts, over and over again. Never give up. Love them with actions not words, not stuff.

In these days before Fathers Day, I am pleading with you, from this momma’s heart, be the daddy your kids deserve.

 

The day before THE Day – Revisited

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Good Morning – On this day before “The Day” I want to revisit my blog from last year. On this day especially since the death of my son, I think of how Jesus’ closest friends and family must felt, how sad and hopeless. And then there was Sunday!

We celebrate Good Friday, we worship in eternal gratefulness Resurrection Sunday, but there is a day in between. This morning I was thinking of this day in between. What was that day like?

We often give Jesus’ followers a bad rap, we talk about how they did not believe, how they hid away. This day in between must have been so confusing. Their King, friend, teacher, Shepard had died before their very eyes. I’m sure they all had stories in their heads about how Jesus’ capture and crucifixion would go. Think about it, if you walked with him every day and saw the incredible miracles how would you imagine the end? I think I would imagine Jesus’ saving himself, or God’s army of angels giving those soldiers what they rightfully deserved. I know I would have been in that room with all the others trying to make sense of what I just saw. How can you make sense of that with our earthly bound, finite minds. We often can’t make sense of the death of a loved one who was not God, how could you make sense of God in human form dying?

I don’t blame them for hiding out, for being confused. At the very least taking time to re-group. Grief is a strong powerful thing to our human minds, sometimes it takes hiding out, returning to the familiar to get our bearings.

On this day in between I wonder, what was happening? Was Martha making sure everyone was fed? Was Mary sitting in a corner of the room weeping? What were the disciples thinking? Were the discussions amid their grief centered around what’s next? Were they feeling left behind, a little betrayed? Were they wondering if the last few years were real? This just did not happen like they thought it might.

If we are honest would not we have reacted in the same manner? I know I would have gone to the familiar to re-group, maybe even hide. I know I would have been wondering if I had just given the last few years of my life to a dream that just blew up. I think about the things of so much less magnitude that shake our faith, make us doubt, Jesus’ followers were human with feelings like ours. Let’s give them a little grace this season, understand how confused and grief stricken they were.

Take a minute, try to imagine what this day in between held, what you would be feeling and doing. Then celebrate with all of creation for the next day, the day that brought unbelievable, uncontainable joy to all.

Have a blessed Resurrection Day!

How does God put up with me?

 

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We live in a world where complaining is just part of our conversation. We whine “this line is too long”, “it took so long for that waitress to bring my food”, “why is this taking so long?”, “I don’t have . . . ” It goes on and on. It has become just how we communicate, we whine, we complain.

I have had a week of listening to just that, there is a lot of change happening where I work, good exciting things, but the path to get there is a little painful. And then there is me complaining about their complaining. Whew, no wonder I am so tired when I get home.

All the while we lose site of the fact that we have a job, a good job. We lose fact that we should count it a privilege to sit in a nice clean waiting room to see a doctor. It should be counted a privilege to wait to have food served to us. We should count it all a privilege.

There is so much we should be grateful for, I have a saying that is a little joking but so full of truth, when I am met with a lot of complaining. “At least you aren’t sleeping under a bridge tonight” This statement is as much for me as anyone. What an abundance we live with.

There are people in hospice that are grateful for just that next breath, there are people living under bridges that are grateful for the sandwich a stranger gave them, there are people who are grateful to have any job even if it is working a field.

How can I be so brazen before God to complain about anything. Anything at all. All that I have is a gift, straight from the hand of God. How is that not enough? How would I feel if I handed precious gems to my children and they complained because it was not gold, or it was not enough. How does God put up with us?

Eve did it, “why can’t I eat that?”. Adam did it “why did you give me this woman to tempt me?”  The Israelites did it “why do we have to eat that?” From the beginning of time God, who has showered us with blessings has had to listen to our ungratefulness.

While thinking about this I wondered why God created us this way? If it were me I sure would have taken that module out, I would have snipped that wire that went to the complaining component. Then I realize complaining isn’t the problem it is a symptom. The problem is that we were created with a longing for something more. We were created with an empty space, We look around for something to fill it. Things, action, anything but what was meant to fill it. How ridiculous we must sound to God.

There is a very real reason we feel unsatisfied. It is a God sized hole. Only God can fill it.  God created that in all of us, I need to remember to fill my complaining corner with God.

I have been sitting here thinking of all the things I tend to complain about, I am ashamed.

Instead of complaining about being stuck in traffic I want to thank God for the ability to travel so easily. Instead of complaining about waiting on the doctor again, I want to thank God I have medical care. Instead of complaining about waiting for my food, I want to be grateful that we can sit in a nice warm space and have food served to me. Instead of complaining about cleaning the bathroom, I want to be thankful that I have a nice warm home to clean.

Do you find yourself in the habit of complaining? How will you show your gratitude today?

Overflowing

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There are some days that I just wake up grateful, so grateful. Not that I am not always grateful, but some days it just feels like it will just completely overflow my heart.

Today is one of those days, I am so in love with my husband that I can hardly contain it. We are coming up on 7 years since our first date. Seven years, so hard to imagine that is was that long ago but it also feels like a life time, in a good way.

I love where I live, I love where I work, I love my family – my heart is full to overflowing.