Sunday, July 10, 2011

The loss of so many things... But God is still GOoD!

As a follow-up to the previous post.. this post shows a glimmer of a few feelings that were typed out, but never posted on the date indicated... It's just a glimpse of where I've been traveling on this 2011 journey's road...

April 23, 2011

So much is going on. So many things has my eyes perputually leaking; it's a continual spill, an incessant weeping. So many things has my heart bleeding from a sorrowing hurt. An ache that won't quit. A ruptured torturing. An uncontrollable hemorrhaging. There's so much we have no control over. So many "endings" to things that are hard to give up... and that are hard to imagine living life without. It's been wild. Relentless. Ravashing. An unyielding pursuit of a devouring enemy. Any one of them in itself could be a spiraling depression to most. And yet, God is still GOoD! He still fills me full! I still feel (and am) so hugely wonderfully blessed. He still thrills me, whoas me, enamors me, endears me. He's still Sovereign. He's still The Great I Am! He still has a plan and a purpose and knows what He's doing. Each day ordained for me that's been written in His book before even one of them began is still right on schedule ,it hasn't been thwarted. He still knows better than we do. And I still trust Him in all that is happening.

Two weeks ago (against all of our want-to) we lost a very dear friend to the very aggressive and ravishingly devastating disease of cancer. Two months ago our company closed to bankruptcy. And in the current moment we have a great-nephew (Asher) who's in the hospital... and a daddy that's just gotten out and went home to Hospice. (Just to name a few... some are still too tender to speak of.)

Asher was born 6 weeks early and has been fighting for his life since he's been here. He's doing better now. And things on his part look much more hopeful than they first did. But still, his mom has yet to get to hold him. And she aches not only from the want, but from the need inside her that begs her to.

My daddy's so sick. He hurts so badly. He lives in misery. He can hardly whisper. He constantly asks in the tiniest, tiniest breathless whisper, "Help me... Help me... Help me..." because of his pain. He can't eat. Can't swallow at all (not even his saliva, we're having to suction it out). He's losing blood from who knows where (normal blood count is 12, his was a 6; it's considered severe at 7). He's so swollen. He needs to, but can't go to the bathroom. His back is unbearable. His breathing so labored. His such a modest person, and yet all dignity is being robbed.

UGH, I keep thinking, THIS AIN'T NO WAY TO LIVE! 

Last Saturday they put in a feeding tube inside him, which at first he refused to have, but panic forced him to give in. He needs the tube, not just for food, but to get his Parkinson's medicine... which hopefully will make his swallowing possible again. Now he's regretting he agreed to it. He's afraid the tube will keep him alive forever in this same horrific state that he's in, but never help him to get any better... instead just prolong his agony. 

He needs open heart surgery. He needs back surgery. He has Parkinson's. And they're afraid that his colon cancer has come back. They can't do heart surgery because of his back. They can't do back surgery because of his heart. They can't do anything more than they're doing for the Parkinson's. And we don't even want to know if we want to know or not if his cancer's returned.

I don't know the answers. What I do know is that this hellish hurt is not what I'd want for myself. It's awful to watch him suffering. I don't want him to go, I can't imagine him not here, but I don't want him to have to live like he's living.

But you know, with all of the losses, I keep thinking that we've got it so backward.... we're not living for this life... but for the next one. Yet, it's so hard to let one leave! Our days are still numbered... and God, for each of us, ordered and ordained each one. He knows when our days on this earth are done. And we can't even imagine what it's like finally seeing our Savior face-to-face. Wonder what exactly it is that my friend (that just left this earth for his Heavenly Home) sees now, that we have yet to?

I keep remembering these scriptures....

"There is a time
for everything,
and a season
for every activity under heaven;
a time to be born
and a time to die,
a time to plant
and a time to uproot,
a time to kill
and a time to heal,
a time to tear down
and a time to build up,
a time to weep
and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn
and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones
and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace
and a time to refrain,
a time to search
and a time to give up,
a time to keep
and a time to throw away,
a time to tear
and a time to mend,
a time to be silent
and a time to speak,
a time to love
and a time to hate,
a time for war
and a time for peace.
What does the worker gain for his toil?
I have seen the burden God has laid on men.
He has made everything beautiful
in its time.
He has also set eternity
in the hearts of men;
they cannot fathom
what God has done
from beginning
to end."

But then, after remembering all those times, my mind keeps these particular times rolling around inside it, "There's a time to be born..... and a time to die.... a time to uproot..... a time to tear down..... a time to weep...... and a time  to mourn... "

Those are the times that I'm in.

I don't like the time.

I'm scared of it.

Indeed, there is a time for this and a time for that... but never a time to hold time back time. And some "times" are so much harder than others! Some "times" we'd all hold back and keep from coming completely if we could! We'd like to avoid them, simply skip over them, detour around them, and stop our clocks from ticking and landing on them.

In the midst of our "die" time (because whether we want it or not, or admit to it or not, it is what "time" our clocks are reading), it's comforting to know that whether we like the time or not, the time is still controlled by The Time Holder. And He still "makes beautiful" in His time! And in our time, we "cannot fathom what God has done (and is doing) from beginning to end." His plans are GOoD! He has purpose and reason. And our minds cannot imagine what our God is doing in the midst of our dark!

I think that my mom after dad's death knows that she'll feel much like the psalmist said in Ps 39:7, "But now, Lord, what do I look for?...", "Now Lord, for what do I wait?"

And then, even when being able to know her answer, "My hope is in You".... "My hope is in Thee".... her hope is focused on him (little "h"...not the Big One). 

God IS our Hope! Ultimately, only Him and Him alone. With no better hope to be had. And that being so, when we're in the midst of our wearing it, we can ask ourselves what another psalmist asked, (Ps 42:5-6; 77:1-15), "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember You......... I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered You, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint. Selah. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart mused and my spirit inquired: "Will the Lord reject forever? Will He never show His favor again? Has His unfailing love vanished forever? Has His promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has He in anger withheld His compassion?" Selah. Then I thought, "To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High." I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy, what god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; You display Your power among the peoples. With Your mighty arm YOU REDEEMED Your people...."

And she longs (again) for His miracle!

But expects and dreads that it won't be in keeping him here. Deep down inside she already foresees that our God has plans to take him Home.

But! He does redeem! He heals our hurts! He mends our brokenhearts. He puts our pieces back together again. He makes beautiful from the ashes that burn. He makes a Display of His Splendor in all that we go through after He's worked it ALL out FOR good!

It's not easy. But our God's good. And though our spouses might, He's not left us. And He's not forsook. And in all that He takes and all that He's took... in all of His sifting and refining... He has something when finished splendid to reveal in us! Jesus! Simply Jesus!

Oh Lord, when it boils down to it, it's all we need and all we want. Though You slay us, yet will we still hope in You! Our Redeemer LIVES... how our hearts yearn within to SEE Him and the redeeming He's specifully got planned!


Since writing that, my daddy's left this place and now lives in the presence of the Lord that he's lived his life loving. He left here and moved there on my sweet son's 18th birthday. Boy, that was hard! We're happy for him, thrilled for him, but miss him greatly! He's stayed on our minds. As my mama said, "It doesn't matter if we're talking about the whales in the fartherest oceans, the blackbirds in the far away lands, the missionaries in Tibet, or three-legged animals in Africa's animal kingdom... it all goes back to him. Every thing said or every thought thunk... everything comes back to Sonny." And yes, it is that way for her especially, isn't it? Everything now pivots around him. Her thoughts are separated, he envades each one..

My youngest daughter was cleaning the other day and found a poem she once wrote in a class. It was beautiful! I felt it perfect! It's what I'll end with. It's about tears. Her last line's my favorite!

A Taste of Sadness
by: Sabrina Wynn Lee

Cold. Wet.

Is the way that it feels.

Running down,

Hitting the ground.

It brings out pain.

Pain that no one would ever know.

A secret between it and I.

Most times it's because I'm sad.

Other times could be because I'm glad.

A sweet and bitter taste it brings.

Running down.

Hitting the ground.

So much pain.

So much hurt.

A tear is all but words.


Friday, July 8, 2011

The Lord gives.... and He takes away

It's been a challenging 2011.

I have a friend in the throes of the frustration of trying to sale her home (I do not envy her, it is its own hard); and while they are trying to sale theirs, my mama is trying to figure out how to keep hers (She more than likely (unless God performs a great miracle ~~ which He so very much can if He wants to) won't). She's so alone, so scared, so overwhelmed, so uncertain, so "lost" (as she puts it).... so has no idea what's she doing or what to do. She misses my daddy so very much and the security that she had in him. She hates that he's gone when she needs him so! But then again, it's not really our daddys or our husbands or our (whoevers) that is our security at all. Only God. But, too, it sure is nice to sometimes have someone with skin on to do the scary things in life with, rather than feeling so all by yourself alone when the scary things are happening.

There's so much that I've yet to write about concerning my year. This has been such a hard one... for so many reasons! Daddy's death tips the top of the scale... but there are loads more lesser hards that are daily ones all still affecting our worlds. The main reason I've not blogged about it is because it's been too hard to speak of. I suppose if I could have hidden daddy's hurt (the hurt feelings felt in his sickness and death) under the rug, I would have failed to speak of that too to all those who knew. I would have held the hurt all by myself longer. I would have rocked it and nursed it not telling a soul, and cried in my stilled insaned-yet saned silence, cocooned in hurt's hole and sadly sorrowing alone. I didn't have that option, it was too open, too loud, too exposed, too 'everybody knew'.... But I probably would have if I were given the alternative. It's what I do... ball up in solitary muteness, weeping unaccompanied in my lone-confinement, travailing quietly in my labored detention all by myself inviting no one else in with me... until I've healed a bit and its hurt is less tender.

Ugh, I don't know that I do very hurt well. :)

I cannot tell you how much I've thought of Elisha and his feelings on the day that he knew that Elijah would on that very day be taken by God (2 Kings 2). Over and over everywhere he went the prophets would remind him, "Do you know the Lord is going to take your master from you today?"... and his reply each time was always the same, "Yes, I know. But do not speak of it!" There are things "I know" too.... that I don't feel ready to "speak of." Things that God has already took.... but things, too, that He is going to take from us that He's not taken just yet.

My daddy was taken.

And that's how I felt about him. On the very day that the Hospice nurse gave him 24 to 48 more hours to live, I heard her saying as Elisha did, "Do you know that the Lord is going to take your daddy from you today?".... And I wanted to tell her, "Yes, I know. But do not speak of it!" Another version, "Be quiet about it!" Another, "Yes, I have knowledge of it: say no more!" Another, "I also know it. But be silent!"

I knew. But I wanted her to hush. I didn't want her to verbalize it. I didn't want to hear the words. I wanted to be childish and sing, "nah nah nah nah nah nah..." with my hands held tightly over my ears. I wasn't ready to hear them. The vocalizing of it was harshly too painful.

Yet even in our sorrow of my father being "taken", we KNOW that he was "taken" from here only to be taken to a better Home! Still, the loss is hard! The being left behind is devastating! The knowing of where he is pampers our feelings tremendously... but the knowing of where he is not, and the one that is here left without him, is an excruciating agony daily that won't quit its anguishing.

Before my daddy, earlier this year, our company (my daddy's construction company of 35 years) was "taken."

But woe... not without a fierce fight!!!!!!!! We did everything that we possibly could to keep that boat afloat. But the storms that raged against it, the continual winds that wouldn't fail in its blow, finally succeeded in huffing and puffing and puffing and huffing until finally knocking that house of ours down. We mourn its loss! It was a financial security to many (though we've established earlier that our only real security only is in God). Due to the recession, the lack of jobs available (might we say NONE!), the spiraling economy, we couldn't keep it living. For months (as we fought) we watched the organs slowly shutting down. It's death was a devastation to many. What it once offered, it offers no more. And with its ruin, like the sinking Titanic, it took so much more with it than just its hull when it went down.

So many faithful employees that we'd grown to love lost their jobs, their income, their way to make a living. I lost mine. My daddy (before his death) lost his. My sister. My brother-in-law. My uncle. Our friends. And, adding to that loss for my sister and her husband (vice-presidents in the company), they lost their house, as well. Might I say, it's been a humbling season!

Daddy's sickness prolonged the devouring destruction for my parents. But now that daddy's not here anymore, the jaws of that post-poned lion is reaching out to my mom trying to devour her. Like I said, she'll probably lose her house too. Not only that, when the company went down, it took with it any and all of the insurance policies that my daddy had. Meaning, my mom at dad's death was financially left with nothing.

Talk about hard! She not only doesn't know how to do life without her husband anymore... but she's also wondering how in the world to now do life without a living?

Earlier still... before daddy, before the company.... my husband and I (due to a quick "short-sale gone bad" on a Gatlinburg cabin) filed bankruptcy (Chapter 13). Ugh, how I hate that word! Never have I imagined that I would be wearing it! In order to keep our house, we were basically forced into it. The saving grace of that one is (like all of the others), is that we didn't have to decide, because of the circumstances it couldn't be helped and thus was basically decided for us. Still, I don't know that that makes it any easier. It was another blow, a huge hit from the enemy, I feel like we've been in the fighting ring.... our bones (bones we didn't even know we had before) have been broken, our noses and lips are profusely bleeding. Someone get us a towel, some water, some bandages... but don't forget to stitch us up first! Be tender! Because we hurt!

Another one of my sisters, her  husband is threatening divorce... which if that happens would leave another sister without a home. It's my feeble mom though, that's been hit the hardest. Newly widowed (after 56 years!), soon to be homeless, and basically broke... there's not much left in her bank. We're studying the Book of Ruth in class on Sundays. I see my mom when I look at Naomi. Or, I now see Naomi, when I see my mom. She's not Job, though she resembles him. It could be worse. But she's feeling a greater compassion for Job, and she's feeling a little as if she's walking in some of his shoes.

All that...and still.... though this year has been unspeakably hard, the wonder and awe of God's blessings have been threaded all through. We couldn't have done life without Him! We've seen His sweetness. We've experienced His GOoDness. We've sustained on His mercy, His love, His compassion, His grace, His shepherding, His provison every day! He's shown up in corners and crevices and in cracks and crannies that we've never seen Him before. He's done the most precious things. He's been all over the place. Through it all, He's not hidden His face. We've seen Him! And we've been whoa-ed too many times to number in so many things that He's done! Little things! Big things! And all kinds of in-between things! The list is endless! And still it continues. How can we complain, when He's loved us so?

It's been hard. It's hard still. But "Fear thou not... I will strengthen thee... I will help thee...." And I believe Him! He has. And He will.

My wonders of Him never cease... even in our "take away" season.........

In our "I don't know"s... He does! And that's how, at night, I can lay my head down peacefully to sleep. He gives me songs in the night, songs of deliverance... and, again, as I said before, I hear Him whisper (for me, but also very much for my mom), "Fear thou not... I will strengthen thee... I will help thee.... I will strengthen thee... I will help thee.... I'll help thee.... I'll help thee... I'll help thee.....  I will ..... I will..... I will........ I will.............."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is your love "real"?

A Wedding Blessing for Blake & Savannah – Dec 30, 2006

~ By Margery Williams ~

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stic
k-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "But when you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get all loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Savannah & Blake, may you both be committed to love each other till and when and after
 you’ve become very shabby, your hair has been loved off,
you’ve become loose in the joints, and your eyes begin to droop.

May you realize that “real isn’t how you’re made,” but “it’s a thing that happens” to you…
when you’ve been loved for a “long, long time,”
not because you’re fun “to play with” any more
nor because you’re cute,
but “real” happens after loving through the good times and the bad, the hard times just as well as the easy… till you “become.”
Sometimes “real” is hard, sometimes it hurts, but may you really love to really become Real.

Know that seasons will come…… AND they will GO! (God says that there is a time and a season for every thing).. note the keyword “season” here… for seasons come… but they only last for its season.
May you weather the wind and the rain, the storms, the heat, and the drought
until you get past your season… for God makes everything beautiful in its time… if you’ll let Him.

Blake, just as you are a soldier in the army, serving your country and fighting for its freedom; may you and Savannah both be soldiers, mighty warriors in God’s army. Serving Him well and knowing that He is with you and fights for you in the battle. Realizing the truth that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against an evil darkness and its powers. Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. When things get hard - fight for each other, fight for your marriage, fight for your sons, and for your daughters. Life is a fight… may you win its battle!
May God be able to say of you two as He once said of King David that you both are men after His Own heart. 

May you be blessed with a home filled with children… sharing God’s story from generation to generation.

May everything that you undertake to do be in service to God and in obedience to Him.
Seeking Him and working wholeheartedly to bring Him Glory.
May you live together building the sanctuary of your home into a temple built for His name.
May God Himself be “a wall of fire around it, and may He be its glory within.”

May you both be God’s Lights in a dark world.. and a Hope for those that don’t know Him.

May you see in each other the song that waits to be sung and seek to bring out its music.
When you talk about your spouse, may you color your pictures of each other as beautiful, and frame them, share them with others, and look at them often.

May you:
And Forgive
……… A LOT!

It takes the bigger man to say “I’m sorry” first… may you BOTH be BIG!

May you always be partners in the same dance... committed to writing your stories in the same book.

The Skin Horse in The Velveteen Rabbit story was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, most of the hairs on his tail had been pulled out, as he explained to the Rabbit what "Real" is.  "The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always." May you both be committed to becomingReal”… and may your “Real” last together for always.

Savannah & Blake, you two together… with God first… Three in One acCord. 
(Click to read: The Velveteen Rabbit in its entirety online. It shows a good description of what "real" is and what true "love" is supposed to be.)

This is old... something written for a friend years ago... but after my previous post about my parents, this has been resonating inside my mind. Finally, I thought I'd just share it........

And Bridget, if you are reading this, I'd thought you'd love to see it yourself to remind us all again of that precious moment.... watching and witnessing as your child vowed "to love and to cherish" from this day forward! And woe! "Cherish" is its own precious word!!!!!!!! One worth pondering and meditating upon! All that have previous taken the vow should ask themselves, "Do I still C-H-E-R-I-S-H the one that I've wed?"! Woe... so love it!

  • Cherish: to feel love for; to care for; to treasure. To be fond of; to be attached to. To hold dear; to embrace with interest; to indulge; to encourage; to foster, to promote; to treat with tenderness and affection; to nurture with care; to protect and aid. To keep or cultivate with care; to entertain or harbor in the mind deeply and resolutely... savoring, loving, adoring.