Thursday, September 16, 2010


I'm sitting here with pillows propped behind me, legs extended, nestled all comfortable on my couch. The windows are open and there's the most perfect hint-of-fall breeze blowing in. I can see the curtains in the other room swaying back and forth, and I hear my children both singing their sleepy songs from their beds.... music to my ears. I'm ignoring the mess for a moment, enjoying the quiet, and finally... taking some time to think.
The truth is.. my words are many right now. I've noticed something about myself, can trace it's pattern back over the years. Times like this... where reality is hard, where remembering is hard, I make life so hectic that there's not a minute for quiet or rest... not  a minute for the hurt to take over. But it does anyway... It rears it's little head when I least expect it, and suddenly- I'm sobbing and can't figure out what set me off, how I went from laughter to tears without a blink. Try as I may, it finds its way in, but I don't seem to stop. I've filled every minute of our days, and the days that aren't filled, we're running here or there, just to be out and moving and busy. My usually treasured silent naptimes have been overtaken by worship music and sermons- wonderful things, absolutely... but I know in my heart it's just noise to fill the silence, to occupy my mind.
There's a fine balance that I have yet to find... How do I remember without being consumed? How do I go there without a fresh heart break? How do I walk through this... now, almost a year later, when every corner I turn reminds me of where we were last year? I remember wishing that I could just fast-forward through the pain for JD, but yet pause life at the same time... knowing what an end to pain might mean. But here we are, twelve months past... It's hard to think about those days, to consider all that happened in such a short amount of time. It shatters my heart to think of what my little brother endured... but man, what I wouldn't give to hold his hand one more time...
I went on a retreat with the women from our church this last weekend. Know what the theme was? MmHmm. "Remember." Pretty quickly the Lord was showing me all the things I talked about already- just my need to busy myself past the hurt- and it's insufficiency- and lesson after lesson they discussed remembering the faithfulness that God has shown us. So many things flooded my mind... and then I remembered the psalm that was so tremendously impressed on my heart just weeks after JD's death, and all that it spoke to my heart, and all these things, so many things were stirred up in my heart. Truthfully, even while there, I wanted to run. I didn't want sweet quiet worship at the end of the night, I didn't want to be still and wait, but God wasn't letting me off the hook. The last worship song of the last session felt as though my Jesus was cupping my face in His hands, looking me in the eyes, saying firmly, "Do you hear Me yet? Will you listen to Me?"... As we took communion and went to pray in small groups, the words, "There's a peace I've come to know though my heart and flesh may fail. There's an anchor for my soul- I can say, 'it is well'..." blared through the speakers and I sobbed. "I will rise when He calls my name, no more sorrow, no more pain..." The last time I'd heard those lyrics sung live was moments before I took one  last look at my little brothers body, before the casket was closed... but this weekend there was peace- I was overwhelmed by the goodness and faithfulness of our God.
So what now? If you've lost someone close to you, I'm sure you can relate to a fear of forgetting... Part of me wants to remember and record every last memory from this time last year, because to forgot would somehow be to discount my brothers life. The other part of me would love to just close the door and run... it is hard. A year out, I have less answers than I did. I think it's different for each one of us- as much as I'd like for there to be an outline of what normal is and how to apply it, I know that's not the case for me. For me.. I'm letting myself cry. I'm letting the unexpected catch me off guard and the tears fall. I'm choosing to drink pumpkin spice lattes and remember those long (but precious) hospital days. I'm reading old journal entries and holding on for dear life to the same scriptures that saw me through last year. I'm holding onto the memories of God's faithfulness then, and the freshness of His faithfulness now. But I'm also wasting time at Target, turning on the radio, revisiting the Greg Laurie sermons... Some days, that's just what is good and right for me.
Though I do wish to just skip this hard part, skip this time of year, skip those painful memories... I know there's much to be gained from walking through it. I want to work through this now... I want the Lord to work in me, change me, grow me- so that I can be used by Him. I want to help others who are enduring what we've endured... I want to honor JD's memory and use his story and his love for Jesus to help others. I'd miss out on all of that by just running from the hurt. I don't know exactly what it means to face it every single day, but I am ready to try.
In 'my' psalm (116) that was given to me about a year ago, there's a section of verses that speak so loudly to my heart- even more so now than then. I'll just conclude with that:

"What shall I render to the Lord for all of His benefits toward me?
I will take up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all His people.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.
O, Lord, truly I am your servant...
I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And will call upon the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all His people,
in the courts of the Lord's house, in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!"

May our hearts be focused on the faithfulness of our tender, merciful, loving God!


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  2. You are wonderful, and I'm praying for you. That's all :)

  3. Kristen,
    When my Dad died (almost 18 years ago now), that first anniversary was tough. All through Christmas I dreaded the coming January. But, my Mom encouraged me to make a new memory for that time. Something I could do to celebrate who my Dad was to me. He taught me to read whenI was 4 years old, so every January since then, I've either read a new book or taught someone else to read to remember how special he was. Now, almost 18 years later, though I still have those difficult memories--of watching him die from cancer and losing his influence in my life, I have so many, many more memories of ways I've celebrated January.
    I don't know if that helps at all. Everyone is led by God to grieve in a different way and I know He is carrying you right now. But know that how you choose to remember your brother in the grieving becomes the memories you will live with tomorrow. There are so many beautiful ways you can honor God and J.D. and I know He will lead you to the right ones.


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