Finding Joy in Him

Through Every Season

Month: February 2016

Precious Gifts: Sweet Purfume

I have been privileged to meet and hear the stories of many bereaved parents since losing Joel. Although I would have never have willingly chosen to join their ranks, I am thankful for the bond we share, the friendships we’re forging and the things I am learning from each of them.

Weeks ago I ran across a quote that said, “A friend hears the song in your heart and sings it to you when you forget the words.” I thought it perfectly described the small group of bereaved moms who have been meeting me at Panera for a little over two years now.
*Panera MomsOur friendship has been a safe place to be honest about hard days, to discuss how we can keep moving forward, and to seek prayer. Sharing our stories has been healing and helps dispel the isolation of being a bereaved parent.

We understand each other’s struggles and have patience for each other’s grief because we know we need it ourselves. The humble words of wisdom we offer each other is hard fought for and easier to receive.

The most healing thing for me this year has been the laughter we’ve shared. We each know the cost of and the deep sadness in the laughter. There are no expectations whatsoever that laughter is a sign that we are “over” the deaths of our precious sons. This deep knowing we share makes the pain and the laughter more bearable and frees us to laugh more deeply and more often.

Having a group of moms who are committed to following Christ and encouraging each other through such a difficult journey has been a lifeline for me. Their influence has made me stronger and wiser. I am forever grateful for them.

Two of our little group are moving to different states this year. 🙁 I created this little multi media art canvas as a small memorial depicting how God has worked through each of us to encourage the others. I hope that it will help us remember the words to our songs.
DSC03526I dressed each mom in boots because the road bereaved moms walk is hard and dark and requires a determination and commitment to travel.

Our arms are linked showing the steadied, strength we’ve found in traveling this road together. The crowns on our heads depict the joy that we bring to Jesus as we hold tenaciously to His promise that although the road is dark and hard now, one day it will end with a crown of joy:

“The LORD’s ransomed ones will return and enter Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: joy and gladness will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Isaiah 35:10

Each of us brings different gifts to the group; each sings a different song. One offers a candle of hope; another, a voracious reader, the admonition to keep trusting in the Lord; a third shows us by example how to hold on tightly to God’s faithful love towards us and a fourth has girded herself with the truth that this road we are traveling requires faithful perseverance.

The words on the faces, arms and knees of each mom are the verses that each gift embodies:

Hope: 2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Trust: Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Faithful Love: Psalm 143:8 Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

Perseverance: Hebrews 10:23-25 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.. encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

These three friends have shown me how to be an alabaster jar, broken at the Lord’s feet, bringing sweetness and healing to others not despite their brokenness, but because of it. Their transparency has been a healing balm to my heart. Proverbs 27:9 is the verse to the right of the canvas:

“The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and fragrant oils.”

Thank you, Jill, Lisa and Cyndi for giving me so many encouraging gifts in the journey. I love you all.

Jenny

Seasons Change

DSC02767 I have a folder full of half written post from last year. My brain has not been very cooperative. I’ve had so much on my mind and heart that I find myself easily overwhelmed and unable to process it all.

I lost a dog, 7 friends, and had two friends lose children in the past 16 months. So many that it’s felt like I am missing the rapture. But the real rapture won’t be experienced in this slow painful way. It will be in a “twinkling of an eye.”

1 Corinthians 15: 51- 54 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed -in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Then” it “will come true.”

For now, death still stings.

I have heard many “cliches” meant for comfort since losing Joel.

One of my least favorites is to look for “a new normal.”

I don’t want what I am experiencing to be “normal.”

My new normal is that at any moment one of my children could be murdered.

That my world can be turned upside down again and again.

That there is an empty chair at the table,

An empty bed.

And an empty place in our hearts.

I don’t want murder to be considered normal.

I don’t want losing 5 or more friends a year to be normal.

And how is labeling living in the wake of  death  “normal” supposed to help heal my wounded heart?

When you minimalize real pain, it goes under treated and can grow into something much worse. Minimized grief can cause complications such as suppression, guilt, anxiety, anger and depression.

Jesus didn’t come to minimalize our grief. He came to experience it with us, to weep with us, and to give us hope and joy in the midst of it. That is how you heal a wounded heart.

I recently found a word I like better: a New Season.

Seasons change.

Season speaks to the temporariness of it all.

Season allows for a season of healing,

Season allows for a much greater season of Heaven.

This life is temporary. It’s a vapor. Here today gone tomorrow.

There is an eternal life that waits ahead where there is no more death, no more mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4). Our real pain can be legitimately minimized by the much greater glory it is producing in Heaven. (2 Corinthians 4:17).

A new normal on earth isn’t something I can stake my hope on.

The unspeakable joys of Heaven – that’s a New Normal I can look forward to.

This hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure, reaches through the veil into the inner sanctuary; where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5

Joel so enjoyed newness. He loved learning and exploring and discovering new things; whether it was art, music, history, nature, math, science or innovation. Each new day held a sense of wonder for him. He must be overcome with joy in the face of all the beauty and newness of Heaven he is experiencing now.

For now, in this season, on this planet, death still stings.

But I can grieve with hope in the promises of a new season in Heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13).  I can hope, trust and obey as I am enabled by the One who has gone through suffering before me to our Heavenly Sanctuary.

Love,

Jenny

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