Goodbye Ordinary

I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us. Isaiah 63:7

Lessons on Grief and God November 10, 2008

The unthinkable happened in our family on July 31, 2006.  Our fourteen year old son, Grant, died in an accident.  There was no time to prepare or to say goodbye.  Losing a child just doesn’t make sense.  That is not the natural order of life.

We were so blessed to be in a church that was a family to us.  God had given us good friends who were not afraid to be there for us through the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I have never in my life felt so absolutely desolate.  And yet, in the midst of the horrible pain was the Lord, faithful and true, waiting for us to ask Him to get us through this.  He was so merciful to be there for us that I felt an overwhelming urge to share with others what it is like to walk the road of grief and to also share how God is sufficient to get us through the darkest times we can imagine.

I have found, being into our grieving for over two years, that there are many trials that come along in our life that have similar patterns.  A very good friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months after Grant died.  She and I found so many things we both went through and could share those experiences together.  There is nothing like being able to talk to someone who has had similar emotions and circumstances.  I say this to remind us as believers that we can be there for each other in ANY kind of affliction and share the comfort we have received from Christ in our own affliction.  Don’t think your circumstance has to be exactly the same as someone else’s to be able to walk with them through it.  Be sensitive to their particular situation and don’t assume that everyone processes things the same, but don’t be afraid to take a chance and be an encouragement to them.

There is a wonderful set of articles at  Molly Piper’s  blog called, “How to Help Your Grieving Friend”, for people who are walking through grief or who want to understand what is going on with a friend who is grieving.  She says it all so well that I won’t even try to repeat it. 

The Lord was always there for us in our dark times.  These are the letters that I wrote to friends and family as a testimony of our great God and His faithfulness to us.

 

August 12, 2006 – “How Are We Doing?”

Dear treasured friends,

So many of you have reached out to us in different ways and we want you to know how much we appreciate that.  Your love, concern, acts of kindness, and prayers have ministered to us immeasurably.  You are all very special to us.  We hope and pray that the Lord will allow us to repay the “comfort we have received” to those we come in contact with in our lives.

 2 Corinthians 1:3,4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [Who is the Source] of every comfort (consolation and encouragement), Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God.

 

 The Lord has been so good to us.  He has carried us and given us a small glimpse of what it will be like to be in His presence in eternity.  Our Savior has never felt so near to us.  We cling to His word and what He has built up in us and taught us all our lives.  He has prepared us to walk this path – His glorious plan and purpose for our existence.  Do we question God’s sovereignty?  Yes, of course.  We have moments of doubt and anger.  However, the Lord has always brought us quickly back to the truth we know of His character.  His ways are higher than ours. 

 

Isaiah 55:8,9  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

 

I (Lori) have felt moments of anxiousness – something that is very common for me.  The Lord has given me many verses to ease this feeling.  Our keeping our trust in the Lord is a battle – one that we are taking very seriously. 

 

2 Chronicles 20:17  You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your positions, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord [Who is] with you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Fear not nor be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.

 

Last night before bed, I was feeling this same anxiousness and in an email from my mother-in-law was a devotion with part of a passage from 1 Peter.  I was able to read this and pray about the truth in it and the Lord gave me peace and rest. 

 

I Peter 5:8-10   Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.  Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset–rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you.

 

Our lives on earth are really a brief moment – something that we rarely think about as we scurry through our daily activities.  Our purpose for being left on earth is to live in such a way that we are lights in a dark world -that we point people to Christ. 

 

Philippians 2:14-16  Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [against God] and questioning and doubting [among yourselves], That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guiltless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world, Holding out [to it] and offering [to all men] the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may have something of which exultantly to rejoice and glory in that I did not run my race in vain or spend my labor to no purpose.

We went through some of Grant’s things today.  That was extremely hard and very emotional.  There are times when we really struggle to hold on to the truth.  We are fragile vessels.  Thank you for your prayers in this specific area. 

 

We want all of you to know that we appreciate your input into our lives.  We want to also be there for you.  Keep praying for us and look to the all knowing, mighty, just, righteous, kind, merciful God of the Bible.  (That list could go on forever!)  Yes, we grieve for ourselves in the loss of Grant in our lives.  We will miss him with everything we do that he would have shared with us.  We are so thankful for the time he was in our lives.  We would not trade the fourteen years we had with Grant to be rid of the pain we are now feeling.   Grant is now free of his earthly body with its imperfections because of our sinful world.  He is enjoying fellowship face to face with His Lord and Savior.  We can’t wait to join him!

 

All our love,

Kevin, Lori and Kelsey

 

 

 

 August 28, 2006 – a letter to a friend

 Melissa,

I enjoyed your note. I appreciate all the things you said. Some of what you said is kind of hard, but it is all true. It is funny that you mention Jacob wrestling with God because that came to me the other day. (That that was what I was doing) I always thought it was wrong of Jacob to do what he did. I don’t know if I completely understand that story. However, today in reading my book which referred to the passage of scripture in the gospels regarding Jesus going to Gethsemane to pray it made me think of Jacob.

Jesus asked God if there was any way God’s will could be accomplished without what He knew He would have to face. He asked for the cup to be taken away and yet was careful to pray for God’s will and not His own. He prayed with such fervor and distress that Luke records that he dripped sweat as though He were bleeding. I can relate to this in a small way.

I am keeping a journal. A lady at church who lost her son in law in Iraq about two years ago gave each one of us a journal. She said that she didn’t start right away, but that a grief class she had gone to said that it was a healing thing to do. Kevin and I both started right away and we write in it every day – sometimes more than once. I think it is cathartic.

I have thought of the many verses mentioning sharing the suffering of Christ. The Lord brought one of them to my attention a few weeks before Grant died. It is Romans 8:16-18.

I would love to tell you more about Grant. A recent experience was on our trip. Grant was so excited about going and we had met the “travelers” maybe twice before we left. Grant melted right into the group of high schoolers.

He never waited to be invited – he just joined in. And, he was always accepted by people because he didn’t have to be the center of attention or anything, he just loved being with them and was always the “fun” guy. Many adults would always tell me how impressed they were with Grant because he was very polite and he could carry on a conversation with them quite comfortably.

When I was vacuuming the other day and I got to the kitchen I was remembering how Grant would almost always get my cord for me from the other room. He would see that I was getting to the end of it and would just pull it out and bring it into the room I was in without my asking him. He was very thoughtful about a lot of things. He was also a very sensitive boy.

He was bothered when people were sad or upset and did his best to cheer them up or comfort them. Grant was also very serious about his relationship with the Lord. It grieved him when he had sin in his life and wanted to change it. Kevin told me that he cried when they would talk about his struggles with inappropriate girl thoughts.

Grant liked to dress up. He was so pleased with a dress shirt and tie I bought him (he picked it out) for a Christmas party last year. He bordered on obsession with personal cleanliness. He took at least one shower a day and would take two if he got sweaty or dirty. He had more laundry than anyone else in the house. His room, however, looked like a bomb went off in it. 🙂 Grant loved watching cooking shows and Alton Brown on “Good Eats” was his favorite. He also loved watching Mythbusters. That was exactly the kind of job I could see Grant doing when he grew up. I couldn’t see him at a desk doing the same thing every day.

Shirley Wilson, who tutored Grant and taught him writing for the last six years told me that she described Grant to her husband as a boy with old world manners. She was also impressed with his interest in history and when he chose topics for his writing assignments he didn’t just pick something easy – he picked things that interested him. He loved words and when given assignments to find synonyms he would always pick the ones that sounded the most exotic. He didn’t want to pick the first ones or most used ones on the list.

Our neighbor had asked Grant to water some outdoor pots while they were on vacation. He had asked Grant to water them once a day. However, it was really hot the week they were gone and Grant went over twice a day to make sure they wouldn’t dry out. He also picked up their mail and papers without being asked.

Whenever I asked Grant to do a chore, he almost always replied with respect and a “Sure, Mom.” I am not in any way, shape, or form saying that Grant was perfect! We had our issues, but they didn’t seem that big to me. My greatest concern for him was the fact that he didn’t seem to think through some decisions he made to what the consequences would be. That flaw, in fact, ended his life. It was something Kevin and I talked about how to handle and discussed with Grant whenever there was an appropriate situation.

We do our best as parents. Kevin and I felt like we were doing what God wanted of us. No, we weren’t perfect. Thank goodness for God’s grace which covers our inadequacies. There are moments when I have regrets. I try really hard to push those out of my mind and fill that up with God’s truth.

He doesn’t have any use for my regrets. The only thing He wants of me is to learn from this – be a changed person and move on making less mistakes than I did before.

I felt like God has been leading me to read to learn more about His character and to understand Him more. I think when we do this, our obedience will follow out of a reverence for Who He is and what He has done for us.

I appreciate all the ways you have shown us encouragement to us. Love and prayers, Lori

 November 9, 2006 – “What The Lord Has Been Teaching Me”

Dear family and friends,

 

The act of my writing to you is not only to give you the true status of how we are, but also to remind myself in a concrete way that the Lord is working and active and producing His good in our lives.  We can get bogged down in the pain and forget that God is showing us precious gifts that we can grab hold of and lean on.  He is so good. 

 

I want to share the words to a song with you that expresses so perfectly my feelings.  It is called “Homesick” and is by Mercy Me.

 

You’re in a better place, I’ve heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I’ve rejoiced for you
But the reason why I’m broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place
Lord, won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow
I’ve never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don’t understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I’ll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
Cause I’m still here so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place
Lord, won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow
I’ve never been more homesick than now

In Christ, there are no goodbyes
And in Christ, there is no end
So I’ll hold onto Jesus with all that I have
To see you again
To see you again

And I close my eyes and I see your face
If home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place
Lord, won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow

I’ve never been more homesick than now

  
 I would like to add to this song the fact that the One we are truly longing to be with is the Lord.  Being with our loved ones that have gone before us is certainly in our minds.  I think what it really does when you lose someone is that is makes you long for the place that you KNOW is your home.  A part of you is now in heaven and you long to be reunited with that person and the God who made it possible to have that reunion. 

 

Grant’s birthday was November 5.  He would have been fifteen.  This is a hard milestone for us.  Our church family has been so loving to us and planned to plant a tree by the front door to the church and have a little garden dedicated to Grant’s memory.  His birthday fell on Sunday and we were able to invite family and friends and dedicate the tree and also have a nice common meal after church.  It was a special, thoughtful way to help us get through a very hard day.

 

One huge thing that I feel God is teaching me is that we are traveling through this life – this earth is not our home.  We don’t feel right here because we don’t belong here.  We are aliens and strangers.  Our home is waiting for us when our earthly journey is through.  What is this earthly journey for?  It is preparation for an eternal existence with our Lord and Savior.  How will I present myself to my God, the one who created me and chose me and provided an eternal hope for me?  Will I be a living vessel shining forth the light of Christ?  These are things I want to make a priority as I live my life.

 

I have a lot to share with you.  God has been mightily at work in my heart.  I still struggle daily (hourly, minute by minute!) to let go of my pain and questions and allow Him to have control.  I talked with another mom this week who lost her son two and a half years ago.  She says that she still has to daily give it to the Lord.  This is an act of the will and is harder than it may sound.

 

In a book about grief that I have been reading, the author talks about the parallels of Jeremiah 29 and walking through our grief.  The Israelites are being told about their exile into Babylon.  They know that it will last a certain number of years.  They are told to:

 

“Build yourselves houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat the fruit of them.  Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not be diminished.  And seek the peace and welfare of the city to which I have caused you to be carried away captive; and pray to the Lord for it, for in the welfare of the city in which you live you will have welfare.  Jeremiah 29:5-7

 

God is telling them that even though they are exiles in a land they do not belong, they are to continue on with life.  We are like them in a way.  We are like exiles in this sin-broken world.  The things the Lord tells them to do are not filled with despair, but hope.  Many of the people going into exile knew that they would die there.  But there was still a promise to them in Jeremiah 29:11 that God had a plan for them – to give them a hope and a future. 

 

The author’s other point was that these older generations had a choice to make as their actions would influence the younger generations.  They needed to follow this command so that their children and grandchildren would follow it as well.  How we walk through a trial is a road map to future generations to know how to trust God when they have a period of darkness in their lives.

 

I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live and may love the Lord your God, obey His voice, and cling to Him.  For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Deuteronomy 30:19-20 

 

We feel and appreciate your prayers and encouragement.  Thank you for being willing to walk through this dark valley with us.  Use your time on this earth wisely.  We do not know the number of days that we have been given.  Use them for the glory of God!

 

Love, Lori

for Kevin and Kelsey too

December 31, 2006 – “Christmas and Year End Thoughts”

Dear Family and Friends,

 

I keep putting off the task of getting in touch with all of you this holiday season.  I am sure you can all understand that this isn’t an easy time for us.  We are always amazed, though, at how much the Lord comforts and holds us up in the hardest of times.  He has proved Himself faithful to us over and over.  As an encouragement to all of you, we want you to know how often the Lord has used each of you to be His physical hands, feet and mouth to minister to us.  That is our responsibility to each other in the body of Christ and you have all had a part in reaching out to us and we thank you.

 

We think that we all have a different perspective of the event of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection.  When you personally go through a loss as we have this year, it is inevitable that you will be forever changed.  In our asking God, “Why did you take our only son?”, we think of God’s giving of Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.  We are not equating Grant’s death with Christ’s.  The point is that we understand to a degree the pain that God felt in that sacrifice and it means so much more to us.  I guess we would say that we have a little better understanding of the heart of God. 

 

Let us also assure you that in our pain we are not blaming God.  We wholeheartedly believe in His sovereignty – that He ordains all that happens on this earth.  We know that He causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)  God has a perfect plan and purpose in Grant’s death just as He had a perfect plan and purpose in the death of His only Son. 

 

One of our prayers has been to learn more about God as we look in His word.  He has been faithful to answer that prayer every day.  In knowing more about God, it leads us to want to praise and worship Him with our lives.  This is our daily goal.  We desire to live our lives as if this day could be our last.  How are we using the time that God has so graciously given us?  Are we spending our energy on activities of value to eternity?  These are questions that we must continually ask ourselves. 

 

Colossians 3:1,2   IF THEN you have been raised with Christ to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead, aim at and seek the rich, eternal treasures that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.

 

Colossians 3:12- 17 

Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), who are purified and holy and well-beloved by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, and patience which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper.  Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has freely forgiven you, so must you also forgive.  And above all these put on love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony.  And let the peace from Christ rule in your hearts deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state to which as members of Christ’s one body you were also called to live. And be thankful (appreciative), giving praise to God always.  Let the word spoken by Christ have its home in your hearts and minds and dwell in you in all its richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom in spiritual things, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with His grace in your hearts.  And whatever you do no matter what it is in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him. Amplified Version

 

Something that we are also learning is that we are not individually capable of carrying out the good things listed in those verses.  In order to please God, we must be obedient to Him and allow Him to work in and through us.  Nothing good that comes from us is of our own work – it is ALL the Lord’s.

 

I Corinthians 1:8   And He will establish you to the end, keep you steadfast, give you strength, and guarantee your vindication; He will be your warrant against all accusation or indictment so that you will be guiltless and irreproachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Philippians 1:6  And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ, right up to the time of His return, developing that good work and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

 

Since we are writing after Christmas has passed, we can report how our holiday went.  Once again, we were blessed with the amazing presence of our Lord.  Yes, we all felt sadness and that there was something missing in our celebration.  However, we did not feel that sadness to the point of despair. In speaking with a lady at church I was reminded how all of us who have been through a deep trial in our lives consider it to be a blessing.  The trial is painful in human terms and the losses we experience are deep and real.  However, when you have walked through a trial you have also experienced the supernatural presence and power of the Holy Spirit as He ministers to your broken soul.  As the following verse states, we have the privilege of showing to the world the mighty power of God in our frail, broken earthly vessels.

 

2 Corinthians 4:7-9  However, we possess this precious treasure, the divine Light of the Gospel, in frail, human vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves. We are hedged in (pressed) on every side, troubled and oppressed in every way, but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair;  We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven), but not deserted to stand alone; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out and destroyed.

 

We enjoyed Kevin’s family all gathering at our home on December 23.  There are 19 of us when we are all together.  We also enjoyed a good Christmas Eve morning and evening service at our church and then drove up to La Center to spend the night with Lori’s parents.  (Lori’s grandma lives there as well)  It was nice to wake up at their house.  We had a great day with Lori’s sister and her family joining us there.  On Tuesday, we drove to Medford so that we could visit with Kevin’s two grandmas in southern Oregon who are in their nineties.  We were also able to visit with some dear friends in Medford who have been so faithful to us.

 

It is still hard to think of moving on – of doing things that do not include Grant.  Grant is such a part of our hearts and minds that we wonder if we will look back on certain events and have a hard time remembering that he wasn’t there – it will seem so natural that he was.  We went to see a movie the other day, “Night At The Museum”.  It was a funny, light hearted movie.  Grant would have enjoyed it so much.  When we got in the car I longed to hear his excited chatter as he and Kelsey would recount all the funny parts and discuss which character they each liked the most.  These are the everyday things that we are learning to live differently.

 

Our heartfelt desire is to live our lives to God’s glory and in His will.  Lori has always wanted to adopt and over the years, it never seemed the right time.  We believe it is the right time now.  We are in the process of applying for international adoption.  We will see if the Lord opens or closes this door, but we feel like He is leading us this way.  Please pray with us as we begin this journey.  If the Lord is behind this, we know that He will provide and guide us in this endeavor.  All of us are excited to see what God may decide to do with our family. 

 

Kelsey (17) had a good start to her junior year in high school.  She is taking three classes at Clackamas Community College in addition to three other subjects.  She did very well her first term.  She still enjoys helping at AWANA and is now part of the worship team.  She also helps lead music at junior high/senior high school AWANA.  Kelsey is going to be taking a driver’s training class soon so that she can get her license by this spring.  She has her permit and has been practicing with mom and dad!  She does great and is very responsible. 

 

Our house is still up for sale, but we are also leaving that in the Lord’s hands.  It is no longer as hard as it was to be living here although we all would like a fresh start, we are willing to wait on the Lord and His timing.  He knows the future and what will be best for us.   

 

Take the opportunity at the beginning of this new year to evaluate your focus and your priorities.  If the Lord sends something hard your way this year, look expectantly for how He will use this for His glory and for His plans and purposes and how He may be asking you to be a part of that.  It is a privilege.

 

 Isaiah  43:18,19 Do not earnestly remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it?  I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

 

All our love,

 

Lori, for Kevin and Kelsey

A family photo from our trip to Italy/Greece:

20060315_img_1406

February 20, 2007 – “Fear of God vs. Fear of Everything Else”

 

In our Ladies Sunday School class, we have been studying through the book of Isaiah.  Our facilitator for last week asked a question in our homework.  She said that we had recently discussed what fearing God meant and asked how we were doing in our daily walk – are we fearing the Lord (reverencing and honoring Him) or are we fearing the enemies around us?  I had an answer to that question, but we never got to discuss it as we ran out of time.  I am taking this opportunity to answer it to all of you. 

 

A few weeks ago we studied chapter 8 where this verse is found:

 

Isaiah 8:13  “The Lord of hosts – regard Him as holy and honor His holy name by regarding Him as your only hope of safety, and let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread lest you offend Him by your fear of man and distrust of Him.”  (Amplified Version)

 

When you read of the history of the Israelites you find seasons of trust and turning to God and seasons when they turned away from God and became fearful and looked for human means to protect themselves.  I see my own weaknesses in their actions.  In an instance when they chose to seek other means to assure their safety as recorded in 2 Kings 16 – see verse 7 for the way King Ahaz decided to protect Judah by paying Assyria to save them from Syria and Israel.  “So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, I am your servant and son.  Come up and save me out of the hands of the kings of Syria and Israel, who are attacking me.”  He did not choose to turn to the Lord to ask for help.  In 2 Chron. 28:20 it states:  “So Tilgath-pileser king of Assyria came to him and distressed him without strengthening him.”  So, in other words, it didn’t work out too well.  Instead of coming to help Judah, Assyria smelled the weakness and decided to exploit it.

 

In contrast Hezekiah, (2 Chron. 32) heard that Judah was surrounded by Sennacherib, king of Assyria and had encamped against fortified cities in order to take them.  He made preparations for the invasion and gave a message to his people, 2 Chron. 32:7, “Be strong and courageous.  Be not afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there is Another with us greater than all those with him.  With him is the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.  And the people relied on the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.”

 

Do you know how things turned out with Hezekiah for trusting in the Lord?  His call to God for protection and help was answered.  The answer from God is recorded in 2 Kings 19:34-35  “For I will defend this city to save it, for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake, And it all came to pass, for that night the Angel of the Lord went forth and slew 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when the living arose early in the morning, behold, all those were dead bodies.  So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned and dwelt at Nineveh.”  In 2 Chron. 32:22 it says, “Thus the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and He guided them on every side.”

 

Another king of Judah was faced with invasion – this time it was the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Meunites.  His first response was fear and yet what he did with his fear is what is important.  In 2 Chron. 20:3,  “Then Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself determinedly, as his vital need to seek the Lord; he proclaimed a fast in all Judah.”

 

He called together all of Judah and here is part of his prayer, 2 Chron. 20:6, 9, 12b  “O Lord, God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven?  And do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations?  In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand You.  9  If evil comes upon us, the sword of judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You – for Your Name and the symbol of Your presence is in this house – and cry to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.  12b  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

 

God answered Jehoshaphat’s prayer by giving words to Jahaziel in 2 Chron. 20:15b  “The Lord says this to you:  Be not afraid or dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”  Then he proceeds to give the Lord’s instructions for how they should go out for battle.  Verse 17 says, “You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your positions, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord Who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem, Fear not nor be dismayed.  Tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”

 

I am convinced that the words “do not fear” are in the Bible so many times because God knows we will face fear often.  It is how we respond to that fear and Who we put our trust in that counts. 

 

I have continued to be spiritually attacked by the deceiver in recent weeks.   I know that he does not want me to live a life in right relationship to the Lord and he does not want me to obey God’s will for my life.  God has strengthened me through the attacks so that I more quickly realize that the battle is already won (an eternal perspective) and that I have the power of God on my side.  It does not mean that I have no more fear.

 

Psalm 27:14  “Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring.  Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.”

 

Jesus said in John 10:27-30  “The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never lose it or perish throughout the ages. To all eternity they shall never by any means be destroyed.  And no one is able to snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater and mightier than all else; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are One.”

 

Another thing I have learned in the study of Isaiah or any other place in the Bible is to have an eternal perspective when I look at events and how they work out.  Just because God promises to save and protect us does not mean that He will carry out that promise in the way that I expect.  When Hezekiah is told that God will save the city he says it was, “for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.”  That refers to God keeping His promise to save a remnant of the line of David that would produce the eternal King of Israel – Jesus Christ.  

 

I want to encourage all of you who read this note to search the scriptures for yourself.  Find out Who God is and what His promises are.  Diligently seek to have the mind of Christ as you look at and react to the circumstances in your life.

 

 

All my love,

Lori

 

May 4, 2007 – “Our House Plans”

Friends and Family,

Well, the “where are we going to live” dilemma is partially answered.  We signed a contract yesterday with a builder to build us a new house.  We are excited about this and have chosen the lot, but are still deciding on the floor plan.  It is just five minutes or less from the interstate.  It will also still be an easy distance for Kelsey going to the community college.  It is a small subdivision with larger lots – ours is 13,000 s/f – and has a lot of trees on the side and back.  There will be more building going on around us in the years to come as the builder has bought some more land around there.  But, for now it is a small, quiet place with a country feel.  It will be a good place to raise the girls.

 

The one drawback is that we will need to rent a house until November when our new home will be completed.  We have talked with the social worker who is helping with our adoption and she said that this could be a good thing as the girls should be in our rental home for a month or two and then we will all be moving into the new house together.  It will be a fresh start for our new family. (If you are interested in our adoption story, click on that link in the “Background” section.)

 

As you can probably imagine, there is a bittersweet aspect to all of this.  I suppose that everything that we do for the rest of our lives will have that component.  We wish with all our hearts that we were planning all of this with Grant as part of our family.  It is painful to think that we will be living in a house that Grant never lived in.  It breaks my heart to realize that the girls will never know him personally.  I spoke with a mom last night at the AWANA awards night and she told me that her son had been in Grant’s group for an overnighter AWANA handbook camp.  We spent some time with their family recently to talk about adoption as they have three daughters from India.  She told me that her son had told her after we had been at their house that Grant would have been such a good big brother.  It is true.  He would have been.  It was good of the Lord to prompt this mom to tell me what her son had said.

 

It has been hard to think of leaving our current home.  Although there are sad and painful memories, there are many more good ones.  We placed the selling of our home in God’s hands and prayed for His will and His timing.  We believe that He has answered.  This is going to be a very emotional couple of months for us.  I am sure that the Lord will use this experience to further heal us and to continue to show us His grace and mercy.  He has been our Shelter, our Rock, and our firm place to stand.

 

Isaiah 40

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not faint or grow weary; there is no searching of His understanding.

29 He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength causing it to multiply and making it to abound.

30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and selected young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted;

31 But those who wait for the Lord who expect, look for, and hope in Him shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up close to God as eagles mount up to the sun; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.   Amplified Bible

 

Psalm 27

8 You have said, Seek My face, inquire for and require My presence as your vital need.  My heart says to You, Your face (Your presence), Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require of necessity and on the authority of Your Word.

11 Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain and even path because of my enemies.

13 What, what would have become of me had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living!

14 Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.   Amplified Bible

 

The Lord has been faithful to show Himself to me in His Word.  He has never failed to provide an answer when I am struggling with a question.  Psalm 25:14  “The secret of the sweet, satisfying companionship of the Lord have they who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its deep inner meaning.” 

 

I am glad that I do not need to be strong, because in my faintness and weariness, He is my strength.  In our weakness, the light of God’s strength and power can be seen.  I still need help trusting in Psalm 27:13, 14.  I am learning that to wait for the Lord means to be expectant – hopeful – knowing that He will answer.  In this too, I need His strength.

 

Thank you for continuing to pray for us.  Although this will be a busy month with moving, I am thankful to have finished the paperwork for the adoption and will be sending it off to the agency in Maine.  This is a huge load off me to have this completed.  I am praying that I followed all the instructions and have done it correctly.  The adoption and its timing is also in God’s hands and we are thankful to know that He will work out all that goes along with that in His wisdom.

 

Lori, for everyone

 

 

My verse for the year:  Isaiah 43:18, 19  Do not earnestly remember the former things; neither consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

 

July 23, 2007 – “Back From Alaska”

 

Good Monday morning to all of you!

 

We had a great time in Alaska.  The first half had great weather and we enjoyed the scenery and life on the ship very much.  You start to get used to being taken care of, so it is good to get back home to reality. 🙂  Our ship docked in Seattle early Sunday morning and we were off the ship by 8:30 a.m. and on the road.

 

The two things in nature that make me think the most about God and His majesty are the ocean and mountains.  Being on the ship and in open water a couple of times where you could not see the land, really makes you think about how big our God is.  We also watched a movie on the ship about sea life in Glacier Bay and seeing all the creatures that live under the water that most people never see, is also a testimony to a God who created all things well. 

 

There was plenty of time on the ship while traveling that you could use your time however you wished.  There were lots of places you could find a comfortable chair by a window and watch whatever was going by and read or pray in relative solitude.  There have been some issues I have been struggling to understand in my Christian walk and the Lord used some of those times to speak to me.  I have been pondering obedience and God’s power in my life to make me obedient.  God showed me that there is more to obedience than an act of my will.

 

I am reading a small book by John Piper called “The Dangerous Duty of Delight” and his statement in the book is that we are not only to obey God, but that to completely obey we are to have joy in knowing and obeying God.  Psalm 16:11, “In your presence is fullness of joy; in your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”

 

The book talks about how we are commanded to many emotions in the Bible such as joy, love, hope, fear, peace, grief, desire, tenderheartedness, brokenness, contrition, gratitude, compassion, etc.  And yet, often our heart is not where it should be.  He said that in answer to the question of what a Christian should do if the cheerfulness of obedience is not there they should: 1) Confess the sin of joylessness (“My heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I,” Ps. 61:2)  Acknowledge the coldness of your heart.  Don’t say it doesn’t matter how you feel.  2) Pray earnestly that God would restore the joy of obedience. (“I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart,” Ps 40:8)  3)  Go ahead and do the outward dimension of your duty in the hope that the doing will rekindle the delight.

 

Piper states that the experience of joy in God is beyond what a sinful heart can do.  It goes against our nature.  We are enslaved to pleasure in other things (Romans 6:17).  The act of delighting in knowing God is a miracle of sovereign grace.  (Aha!)

 

What I am taking away is this principle:  God asks for my obedience and my delight or worship of Him.  It is my duty to obey and to pray that the Lord will give me the attitude to go along with the obedience.  I come to Him in obedience and He supplies what I need to complete what He has asked me to do and fills my heart with the joy of doing it.  It isn’t just a coming to Him in prayer and obedience though.  It is that deep desire to KNOW Him.  It means getting my fulfillment from Him and not from what the world may offer.  It means being thankful for the cruise and the beauty I saw and the time spent with family, but being thankful and delighting in the Giver more than in the gift.

 

It was hard to celebrate my birthday without Grant.  It was hard to enjoy the cruise without thinking of how much Grant would have loved it.  In Juneau, Kelsey saw a fur Russian hat for sale in a store.  She commented that Grant would have wanted to buy that hat and would have worn it without worrying what anyone thought of him.  We laughed together at the thought of that and then we cried a bit.

 

Another thing I read while on the cruise was a daily devotion by Charles Spurgeon.  The devotion was based on Ephesians 1:13, 14, “In Him you also who have heard the Word of Truth, the glad tidings of your salvation, and have believed in and adhered to and relied on Him, were stamped with the seal of the long-promised Holy Spirit, that Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance – the first fruits, in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring complete possession of it – to the praise of His glory.” One of the statements Spurgeon made in the devotion was that we have but a taste of Christ’s preciousness.  The taste that we have gives us a hunger to know more.  We groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption to be final. (We can relate to that statement in more ways than one!)  What really struck me was this:  “Although we have learned the first letters of the alphabet, we cannot read words yet, much less put sentences together.  But as one says, “He who has been in heaven but five minutes knows more than the general assembly of divines on earth.”  We have many ungratified desires at present, but soon every wish will be satisfied.  All our powers will find the sweetest employment in that eternal world of joy.  O Christian, anticipate heaven for a few years.  Within a very little time you will be rid of all your trials and your troubles.  Your eyes now suffused with tears will weep no longer.  You will gaze in indescribable rapture on the splendor of Him who sits on the throne.”

 

I am sure you can guess what that made me think of.  It has a double meaning for me.  I want to be joyful for Grant to be in the Lord’s presence and yet I am still longing for him to be on earth with us.  However, Grant is where he is most happy.  We also long to be fulfilled by being in the Lord’s presence.  Heaven is something we think about often.  And yet, I want to desire heaven in the right way – not just in grief for my son. 

 

We are all feeling very tired – having all that fun wears you out!  We had a lot of late nights and early mornings.  I am feeling a cold or something coming on as my throat is very irritated.  I am overdosing on “Airborne”.  As I sit here to type my body feels like it is rocking with the waves.  I thought that would have gone away by now.  Kelsey missed a week of her summer math class and has a lot to make up.  Please pray for her as she does this and for Kevin as he goes back to work.  I know he really enjoyed a week without the stress of work. 

 

Things are moving along great with the house.  We will have the electrical walk-through next Wednesday where we will tell them where we want switches and lights.  The house is all framed and has the roof sheeting on.  It really looks like a house now!  It is exciting.

 

I had an email from the adoption agency, but quite frankly the message was confusing so I am hoping to talk with them this week.  We are praying that the Lord will guide the papers and the hands of those who touch them and that all will happen in His time.  I find myself laying this all down before the Lord and yet picking it back up again to fret a bit.  I know that God will use this time in our lives to further refine us into Christ’s image.  Pray that we will be receptive and thankful for that!

 

We missed contact with all of you, and we really missed being at our church for two Sundays.  We are glad to be home.  We are looking forward to hearing from or seeing all of you. 

 

Love and prayers, Lori

 

My favorite verses I read on the cruise:  II Peter 3:9-14

9 The Lord does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some people’s conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will vanish (pass away) with a thunderous crash, and the material elements of the universe will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.

11 Since all these things are thus in the process of being dissolved, what kind of person ought each of you to be in the meanwhile in consecrated and holy behavior and devout and godly qualities,

12 While you wait and earnestly long for (expect and hasten) the coming of the day of God by reason of which the flaming heavens will be dissolved, and the material elements of the universe will flare and melt with fire?

13 But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to His promise, in which righteousness (uprightness, freedom from sin, and right standing with God) is to abide.

14 So, beloved, since you are expecting these things, be eager to be found by Him at His coming without spot or blemish and at peace in serene confidence, free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts.

 

 

July 28, 2007 – “What Can Happen In A Year”

Dear Family and Friends,

 

What a difference a year makes.  I wouldn’t have believed it if someone had told me – actually some people did tell me – that I would have moved out of the shock and completely overwhelming pain and grief I felt almost a year ago.  I would be lying if I didn’t say that I still pray asking God why it had to happen or that I wish it didn’t happen.  How I would love to wake up and find that it was a bad dream.

 

I was talking with a friend this week and was reminded of a psalm that I had read last August while in the deep, dark valley of pain.  It was Psalm 13.  I could so identify with the first 4 verses.  I felt forgotten and forsaken by the Lord.  I wondered why He had burdened me with so much.  I didn’t think that I could endure the pain that I felt pressing on my heart.  It was Sunday, August 13, 2006 when I read this psalm and when Lori J asked me how I was that morning I told her to read that chapter.  She cried with me and told me to think about verses 5 and 6.  I told her that I couldn’t do that right then – I wasn’t ready.

 

Psalm 13 (Amplified Version)

 

1 HOW LONG will You forget me, O Lord? Forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?

2 How long must I lay up cares within me and have sorrow in my heart day after day? How long shall my enemy exalt himself over me? 3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; lighten the eyes of my faith to behold Your face in the pitchlike darkness, lest I sleep the sleep of death, 4 Lest my enemy say, I have prevailed over him, and those that trouble me rejoice when I am shaken. 5 But I have trusted, leaned on, and been confident in Your mercy and loving-kindness; my heart shall rejoice and be in high spirits in Your salvation. 6 I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Do you know what I have learned this past year? (Well one thing I have learned!)  I have learned that verse 5 and 6 are not suggestions – they are a command, a choice.  Had David’s circumstances somehow miraculously changed from the beginning of this psalm to verse 5?  I don’t think so.  He knew what I am learning; that you cannot keep your focus on your grief or your trial – you have to make a decision of the heart and mind to trust, lean on, and be confident in the Lord.  Why?  Because of His boundless mercy and his overflowing loving-kindness!  Because the Lord has dealt bountifully with me I will sing to Him!  The sum total of my life is not the death of our son.  I am a child of the King!  I belong to Him and will one day join my son in His presence.  I do not deserve this gift He has given me – salvation.

 

May I take a moment and remind you of the verses that we had placed on Grant’s grave marker.

 

1 Peter 1:3-5, I love how the Amplified Bible expresses it:

 

Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  By His boundless mercy we have been born again to an ever-living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, born anew into an inheritance which is beyond the reach of change and decay, imperishable, unsullied and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, who are being guarded by God’s power through your faith till you fully inherit that final salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

 

These verses are meaningful to us because we have been given a hope and an inheritance through Jesus Christ that we could not earn.  These verses are a promise to us.  We cling with fervent hope to them.

 

God has been amazing to us this last year.  We have sought Him and He made Himself known to us.  We have earnestly looked for His truth and understanding and He is imparting it – a little at a time (which is all we can handle!). 

 

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4  If I delight myself in the Lord the desires of MY heart will be the desires of HIS heart!  What does God desire for my heart?  He desires for me to worship Him, to delight in Him, to want ONLY Him, not the things of this temporary world.

 

I was reading 2 Peter on our cruise in my reading through the Bible.  In chapter 3 Peter is writing to warn this group of believers to remember what the prophets had predicted, the commandments of the Lord to them, and the teachings of the apostles.  He wanted them to be prepared that there would be people who would say that the things they had been taught were a lie.  These scoffers would ask them “Where is the promise of His coming?  For since the forefathers fell asleep, all things have continued exactly as they did from the beginning of creation.”  Verse 5:  “For they willfully overlook and forget this fact, that the heavens came into existence long ago by the word of God, and the earth also which was formed out of water and by means of water.”  Verse 7  “By the same word the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly people.” 

 

2 Peter 3:9-14

9 The Lord does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some people’s conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will vanish (pass away) with a thunderous crash, and the material elements of the universe will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.

11 Since all these things are thus in the process of being dissolved, what kind of person ought each of you to be in the meanwhile in consecrated and holy behavior and devout and godly qualities,

12 While you wait and earnestly long for (expect and hasten) the coming of the day of God by reason of which the flaming heavens will be dissolved, and the material elements of the universe will flare and melt with fire?

13 But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to His promise, in which righteousness (uprightness, freedom from sin, and right standing with God) is to abide.

14 So, beloved, since you are expecting these things, be eager to be found by Him at His coming without spot or blemish and at peace in serene confidence, free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts.

 

This earth is a stopping place – a life we are journeying through.  This life prepares us for eternity.  We need to make sure that we aren’t placing too much of our heart and desire in this temporary earth that will one day be destroyed by fire.  What will survive that fire?  Only what we have done in this life that has eternal significance.  I already spoke of our devotion and worship to God.  That will last forever.  That will prepare us to worship and delight in God for eternity.  What else do we do in this life that will last forever?  Our relationships with our friends, family, church body; as we treat each other with love and lead each other into truth – this will last.  Jesus, personally, while on earth gave us a “new” commandment to “love one another as I have loved you.”  How did Jesus love us?  It was a sacrificial, unconditional, humble love – a complete giving of Himself for us.  That is certainly something to work on as we journey on this earth.

 

2 Corinthians 3:18 And all of us, as with unveiled face, because we continued to behold in the Word of God as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.

 

We “continue to behold in the Word of God as in a mirror the glory of the Lord” thus we are constantly being changed into His own image!  That is what we are doing on this earth.  We see God in His Word and we are changed by it.  Don’t waste your time on this earth!  It really is just a vapor.

 

We love all of you!  So many of you have been an amazing source of love and encouragement to us.  You have shown us the love of Christ and we thank you.  Keep talking to us about Grant.  We long to hear his name spoken and remembered as it will always be in our hearts and minds.  Keep seeking the Lord and His desires for you in His Word.  He is faithful to show you what you need to know.

 

Lori, for Kevin and Kelsey

 

Psalm 13:3-6  Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; lighten the eyes of my faith to behold Your face in the pitchlike darkness, lest I sleep the sleep of death, Lest my enemy say, I have prevailed over him, and those that trouble me rejoice when I am shaken.  But I have trusted, leaned on, and been confident in Your mercy and loving-kindness; my heart shall rejoice and be in high spirits in Your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.

 

One Response to “Lessons on Grief and God”

  1. Tara Livesay Says:

    I read this tonight … wanted to tell you that I am so sorry you lost Grant. I am glad you have come through it with so much faith and strength. I won’t forget the July 31 date … I will pray.

    T.


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