Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Courageously Grieving Revisited

I recently rewatched the movie Courageous...for a third time.. and was struck again at how powerful the section on grieving is. I decided I needed to repost my post that I wrote on this section from my courageous blog series and to comment on a few areas that really reached out to me this time.
One of the most powerful moments in this movie for me came when it was time for Adam Mitchell and his family to say goodbye to their nine year old daughter, killed by a drunk driver. As you can well imagine, it was so very hard to watch and to see the raw emotions shared.
At Emily’s funeral, the pastor says words that brought me to tears… but not tears of pain but tears of hope, of renewed faith…
"At a moment like this, silence seems to be the only emotion that fits. What can we, as mere men say to a grieving shattered heart? We speak today because we have a living hope. Death is no respecter of persons. Death is no respecter of youth. Death is a painful intruder and a pernicious reminder of our human condition. But I stand before you today to declare that we have a living hope and that causes us to rejoice greatly. If your hope today is found in the fact Jesus is no longer entombed... Because He lives, the grieving broken heart has hope, and reason to rejoice."
God’s son died and in his death, we have been given the greatest gift….Hope for the human race, salvation, forgiveness of sins. Because he died and rose again, because he gave his life so we may have ours, because he lives on forever , because of this our grieving hearts do have hope. We can rejoice in the fact that our loved ones who knew and loved Jesus (and all children do, so I have been told by many, so has been documented by those who’ve come back from heaven) are in heaven awaiting us. We know we will see them again and that is reason to celebrate.
But that celebration is so very hard to embrace. How do you tell your shattered heart that the person you said goodbye to, especially when it is someone who has not lived a long life, who left us way to soon…how do you tell your heart that it is time to celebrate??? Well initially, you don’t. At least most don’t. I didn’t, heck often I still don’t embrace this fully. And finding your way after the shattering…well that is one to the greatest challenges anyone can endure. Knowing how to accept it, learning to live again… it is so painful and so difficult. And it takes great courage to do it. I am not sure I am totally there...no let me rephrase that...I am not sure I am ready to be there yet. Sometimes I want to just be angry that I did not get to raise my boys together, that I have a child who passed away before I ever met him. But I also know that his death was a gift just as his life was. I have learned more from him then I ever dreamed possible. His life truly has been not about the breaths he did or did not take but the moments he gave us that took our breath away. For this, I have to be grateful, I have to celebrate. But yeah...it really is hard somedays.
Adam Mitchell struggled too and I urge you to watch this scene
as he talks to his pastor. I encourage you to read what the pastor said….
"Adam there needs to be a grieving process, and the Lords the one who carries you through it. It takes time. It takes time for healing. I've heard many people say who've lost a loved one, that in some ways, it's like learning to live with an amputation. You do heal, but you're never the same. I would also say, that those who go through this and trust in the Lord discover a comfort and an intimacy with God that most people never experience.”
This last line is so powerful to me. I remember in the days, weeks and months…okay years after we lost Cole I knew that I was not the same, would never be the same but I slowly began a relationship with the Lord that I didn’t know was possible. I always believed but when I thought about my son sitting in our heavenly Father’s lap, rocking in a chair with Jesus I just felt such comfort. It still took me so very long though to really come to Christ. It’s funny because people will ask my husband and I how long we’ve been Christians and I just stumble over the answer because it wasn’t like it is for many born again Christians… I didn’t confess my sins and invite Him into my life and start from there. I think He was always there, I always knew I had Him in my life. But I didn’t trust my life to Him, I think I thought I could do it alone, that I was in control. And I guess in a way I was because I fought Him and his will, I celebrated free will, every chance I got. But when Cole was gone and my heart felt broken I began to look at my life and my faith differently. I took in bits at a time of a new faith, a new belief, a new relationship with Jesus. And then as I began to explore things in a new church it became crystal clear to me that I needed, desperately, to grow my relationship with God. I felt myself turn to him like he was a friend and I found great comfort in the intimacy of our relationship.
But having this relationship does not mean that the process becomes easy, it doesn’t mean you don’t question, every single day, why this is your life, why you had to lose, why you have to hurt so bad. Adam’s pastor shares that God
“doesn't promise an explanation, but He does promise to walk with us through the pain. And the hard choice for you is whether or not your going to be angry for the time you didn't have..., or grateful for the time that you did have."
And now I am crying…again, for the tenth time after watching this scene and reading these words. Because it is a choice and it is an impossibly hard, at times, choice and it takes such great courage to make that choice to not be angry but to celebrate instead. I dreamed of the things we would have done with our twins, I envisioned all those matching outfits and toys. The dreams of our matching children climbing on a school bus, packing to move to out, graduating from university, standing up as each other’s best friend at their weddings. I had planned so much and now every single thing I planned had been ripped from arms, stolen from my outstretched hands. We were so darned close, the dream was within reach. I was so very angry at times. I just seemed so unfair to not have had those dreams, those memories, that time together with my amazing identical twins. I wanted (ok I did) to scream and throw things. I wanted my life back.
But gradually, over time, I became more peaceful. I found hope in the future, in the reuniting I would have with my son. But it wasn’t until I watched this for the second time that I realized finding that peace and hope was wonderful but it was a peace and hope centered around acceptance of what I had lost. It was never a celebration of joy for what we’d had.
But what an amazing thing we did have. What an absolute blessing from God. Only 3% of all women have twins. Of that 3%, for easy math in my later stats, that’s 30 sets of twins out of 1000 births, only 15% of all twin pregnancies are identical… 15% of 3%... hmmmm 15% of 30 is 4.5 out of 1000…though other research says that identicals occur as little as 3 out of 1000 births. That is pretty amazing odds, what a blessed miracle. (now just cuz I am doing math… the chances of getting TTTS are 15% of all identicals… only .7 of those 4.5 babies or 7 out of 10 000 births… it’s like winning a lottery…though not one anyone EVER wants to win). I am one of so few women to experience the wonderful shock of finding out your body had performed this amazing miracle and split an egg into to two identical little beings. I will never, ever forget those moments….”I have some news for you Mrs. Tummers…there’s two babies in there!!!”. No one can take that moment from me and no one can take the excitement I felt at telling everyone I saw that I was having twins. I didn’t have a lot of time with Cole but I will cherish each and every memory of that time. Each and every ultrasound, each and every flutter and kick. The quick growth my body experienced, the rapid changes. The plans for my babies…what they would wear, where they would sleep, what Halloween costume I’d dress them in. I woke each and every day in wonderment of the miracle that was happening. I remember saying to Geoff atleast once a week…’wow, we’re going to have twins…that is so amazing’. I will cherish the memories of my worries and questions and of the places I turned to for support. But most of all I will cherish the memory of seeing him month after month via ultrasound… kicking, waving, sucking his thumb, hitting and kicking his brother. I will cherish those pictures and I will be forever grateful for the time I had with my son.
Grief is a journey and that journey has so many twists and turns along the way. I am so very grateful that I have the Lord to lean on as I take this journey and I am so very grateful for all the memories he allowed me to have of the times before grief became a part of everyday life. Moreover, I am so very grateful for the courage He has given me to grieve publicly, to share my heart and soul in hopes that others will find peace, to be able to look back at the whole journey with a smile, a tender heart and great joy.
In my recent studies of true beauty I have learned that being able to be vulnerable and to reveal your true self to all is one of the greatest gifts of inner beauty. Perhaps this is one step in being able to be, well beautiful and to make others feel the beauty of the love of God through me.

Voices -#3

I had thought I was done with my posts on the voices and messages that I have been hearing from God about how lovely he thinks I am, how beautiful I am to Jesus and how he loves me. Then this weekend I heard this song like 5 times and knew it was another one of those messages that He wanted me to hear. So I am posting the words and a very few comments and then I wanted to repost another post I wrote awhile ago on grief because I...well I need to and I'll get to that in a few minutes...or later, or whenever time allows LOL!

To Make You Feel My Love - Garth Brooks

When the rain's blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I would offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love

When the evening shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love

I know you haven't made your mind up yet
But I would never do you wrong
I've known it from the moment that we met
So no doubt in my mind where you belong

I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue
I'd go crawling down the avenue
There ain't nothing that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love

The storms are raging on a rolling sea
And down the highway of regret
The winds of change are blowing wild and free
But you ain't seen nothin' like me yet

There ain't nothin' that I wouldn't do
Go to the ends of the earth for you
Make you happy, make your dreams come true
To make you feel my love

I know this song is a love song from a man to a woman but to me, when I last heard this song and today still it is a love song from the one who desires my love most, Jesus. What a thing to have the Lord say to me... There ain't nothing that I wouldn't do To make you feel my love. To think that there is someone who would dry my tears, offer me an embrace when the world is on my case, go black and blue for me, crawl down the avenue... to think someone would do this for me is...well I guess it's something I've known since I became a Christian but I never really thought of it much until I started this women's study on the book I mentioned earlier, Captivating and began thinking about the ways God 'romances' me, the way Jesus tries to show his love for me, how much he desires my love.
What a message God has given me!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Voices - #2

Yeah ok so doing a 'series' of posts at the end of the school year during report writing and end of year wrap ups was a dumb idea... alas, the year is over and now I finally am getting to the next installment on the topic of voices, messages, words and communication.
I had, initially, intended, on writing about our words and how we can use them effectively sometimes and ineffectively so much more often. And I have lots to 'say' on that subject, I think I might be an expert on the later part of that theme!!!
But I have had a few more moments with God's messages to me lately...well actually it's the same message but He just keeps reminding me so I guess maybe I oughta listen!
So this message goes back to my last post and how, when up at Camp Kahquah and also when doing the women's ministry study, 'Captivating', we were asked to pray and ask God to show us how he sees our beauty, what makes us beautiful, precious, special etc. in his eyes and to ask him what his message to us is. The first time we spoke about this subject was at the women's ministry breakfast back in early April and we one of the examples that was given by the women in the video we watched was hearing God's message of how he sees us through music... both worship and secular examples were given. A few days later my friend Miriam posted a few lines of a popular song, the words were obviously what a man was singing to the love of his life and spoke of his adoration for her and how he felt about her beauty and even her body. I joked with her at first but then realized that these words could so much be what the Lord thinks of the beautiful women he has created. It got me to thinking about what God must think of me, what he must find beautiful about me and what he sees as my best qualities. And so I prayed and spoke to God often over the next few days, hoping he would show me, tell me...something, anything. And as hard as I listened, nothing seemed to be there.
Dejected, I stopped thinking about it, stopped playing worship music looking for messages and kind of gave up on the idea that I would ever hear a message from God about my beauty. One day, on the way to work, after listening to my bible app read to me, specifically all the amazing acts of encouragement that Elijah committed in 1 Kings, I turned on the radio...which is rare for me to do as I most often just listen to worship music. The song, I Won't Let Go, by Rascal Flatts was playing right at this point in the song....
I will stand by you
I will help you through
When you’ve done all you can do
And you can’t cope
I will dry your eyes
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
And I won't let go

ANd I thought, hmmmmm, that's interesting that I would just hear about Elijah and then hear that song. I didn't think about it too much until I got home and again was sort of thinking of this theme from Captivating of searching for what God's message to me is and turned on the home radio and heard this....
It hurts my heart
To see you cry
I know it’s dark
This part of life
Oh, it finds us all
But we’re too small
To stop the rain
Oh, but when it rains

I will stand by you
I will help you through
When you’ve done all you can do
And you can’t cope
I will dry your eyes
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
And I won't let you fall

And realized that I was hearing His voice after all...thanks God. Now some may read that song in various ways. And I have blogged about that song before and how I was so grateful to those who held me up when I needed it most. I also wrote about how I realized that song was how I viewed God's loving embrace of me when I needed him most. But this time it was so much different of a message...it was a message to me about what I do for others, that was very clear in the context of my days at that time and who I had connected with online and what I had done. And so I thought, 'ok, God, I get it. You see me as a someone who gives that support, who is meant to give that support, to others. And, of no surprise to me, I have heard that song many times over the last few months on days when I've been bogged down with the support I give online. I get it, God, I get it!
But still I had yet to get a message about my beauty, of how God finds me beautiful and lovely, of how he sees me.
And so I began to think about that as I ran, as I concentrated on the beauty around me one morning in May I began, again, to ask God, just what was lovely about me, how was my beauty shown, what was beautiful about me.
And I got...nothing...I know it's not always that easy but really... I was getting abit, well, discouraged.
The next run I went on was on the trail in a town a few minutes from our house. The trail goes out in farm land, across fields, through bush areas. And as I ran and pondered this beauty question, I saw this lovely bird

It's a goldfinch and I have always been fascinated with them. I am not sure if they have always been present in the area I live in but I remember when I first saw one. I was likely 8-10 and I remember asking my mom about them...I think I thought it was a caged bird on a jailbreak! She told me it was called a 'wild canary' or a goldfinch. I have always had a love for these lovely creatures and that day, when I was running, was no different. I remember this line coming into my head as I saw the bird..'what a diamond in the rough that bird is. It's just an ordinary bird, there is nothing special about it really and yet it is extraordinary in the beauty is shows sometimes. It just shows how you can be ordinary and extraordinary all at the same time'
And on I ran. And then I began to talk to God again about this beauty message thing. And I said, right out loud,'ok God, just give me a sign of how you see my beauty...what does it look like to you, what do I look like to you?'. And then a whole little group of goldfinches swooped down and around me and then this song came on....
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
And I will sing again

And I thought 'ok, I get it..I think' but to be honest, I wasn't sure. I mean this is all pretty new to me and hard to really grasp and absorb. That God would speak to me through various means is just hard to believe. I mean why would he want to to speak to little ol me, what could I possibly mean to him. But that day I saw one or more goldfinches seven different times in the 30 minutes I was out running.
And just in case I didn't get it, I saw 3 more that day on my way to and home from work with the same song as above playing and this song too...came on right at this point in the song.....
Lovely, there is none more lovely
In all the universe, there is no one lovelier
Worthy, there is none more worthy
I try to find the words, there's so much more Your worthy of

And since that day I have seen more of these lovely birds then I've ever seen and almost every time they show up I am either feeling down and questioning what God could possibly find beautiful about me etc. I see this lovely bird.

Voices... sometimes we just need to be quiet to hear them....