Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sitting on the Curb...

These thoughts have been swirling in my head for a week now, but quiet time to sit and type is at a premium these days.

Last Sunday morning I drove my aunt and uncle to the airport. Between sips of strong coffee, my aunt and I chatted somewhat animatedly on the way there, with the occasional dry witted remark from my uncle. It was only 7:45 in the morning and the day before was one full of activity and excitement. Our extended family celebrated Christmas - it was beautiful chaos.
Now we were left to reminisce and look forward to what the rest of December might hold.

After dropping them off at the curb, I pulled out of Hobby airport and began the trek home, lost in my thoughts, mentally planning my day and humming along to the Christmas music from the radio. Inevitably my thoughts turned to Christmases past, more specifically, I began to count how many Christmases have passed since Kyle celebrated with us, here on the earth. This will be our 5th Christmas without him. Like scenes from a movie, memories floated through my mind - Wyatt's first Christmas, Megan's special gift for Kyle the first Christmas that the three of us were a family, the Christmas that Megan and Kyle thought they would be cool and hide my gift in the tree - a sapphire necklace and ring- thank goodness we found them before completely tearing the tree apart. The last Christmas we had as we ate dinner in a restaurant in Temple, TX and he gave me the most precious gift he'd ever given me warranted a sigh.

Lest I get too caught up in my own life, the Lord has a way of getting my attention in a hurry. I was almost to the Beltway and out of the corner of my eye I saw her. Sitting on the curb in flip flops, pajama pants, a knit top with a trench coat belted tightly, wind-blown hair and tired eyes with mascara streaking down her cheeks there she was. I tried to drive on by, but the Lord wouldn't let me. I figured she had a gun in her coat, but He knew she held a blessing just for me. I was so determined to drive on by that I even turned the corner, but quickly turned right back into the parking lot and headed straight for her.

As I got ever closer, my heart began to pound, not knowing what to expect. I am always leery of helping stranded people. I rolled down my window and asked if there was some way that I could help her. She responded that she didn't know, she didn't know what she needed - her boyfriend kicked her out of the car three hours earlier and she was just sitting there trying to decide what to do. She mentioned the cost of the hotel rooms around her and that several men had already stopped to proposition her, but that she was not that kind of girl. It was clear that she was holding onto her composure by just a thread, a thin thread at that. We continued to talk and I asked if there was somewhere I could take her or someone we could call. No, there were no friends, no family. She was just going to wait it out to see if her boyfriend would come back for her. I did tell her I couldn't afford to put her in a hotel room, but I gave her some cash. A drop in the very big bucket of her empty heart and eyes. I pointed her to a church and shared what my experience had been at that church and that I knew they would help her with arms of love and acceptance wide open, no questions asked. She didn't want me to take her there, but she did clarify that she had the name of the church right.

Before pulling away, feeling completely powerless to help her, I asked if she would tell me her first name so that I could pray for her. She kind of half smiled and said, "Miranda". I drove away with tears in my eyes and tears in my heart. Even now as I type my eyes are filling with tears.

It is so easy in this season, but really in any season, to get caught up in our own losses, our own grief, our own agendas and all around us "Mirandas" are sitting on the curb, just waiting to know that someone cares, that they matter to someone.

Not every "Miranda" is sitting on a curb outside, it could be your neighbor, your friend from work or high school or college. It could be someone from church or playgroup or your child's school. Rest assured, we are all surrounded by a Miranda.

This Christmas, may our Heavenly Father open our eyes to the "Mirandas" of the world. They're there - just sitting on the curb. Waiting.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

This morning as I was surfing different blogs, I came across one by Greg Laurie. ( He is the pastor of a church called Harvest Church and he recently lost his oldest son, Christopher. Christopher was killed in a car accident at the age of 33 on July 24, 2008. He leaves behind a wife, Brittany, and a daugther, Stella, as well as a little girl that will be born in November.

Like the mighty winds of a hurricane I was blown back to the months following Kyle's death. The heartache. The shock. The grief that takes your breath away. The fear. The overwhelmingness of absolutely everything. Oh, how I ache for that precious lady, Brittany. I remember, all too well. I wish I didn't. I wish I didn't know what it feels like to not just have life interrupted, but to have life as you know it come to a screeching halt, and the rest of the world just keeps moving. Oh how I wish I did not have this journey in common with her - how I wish both of our husbands were still here - watching their children grow and living life. How I wish they were here to laugh, to cry, to learn, to grow, to smile, to eat chocolate cake, (especially Grandmother's chocolate cake - Kyle's favorite).

Sweet Brittany, I don't even know you and yet, I ache for you, for sweet little girl, Stella and for the baby girl who will never see her daddy's face or hear her daddy's voice - for the days, weeks, months and years to come as you create a "new normal", as you learn how to live again. I wish I could wrap my arms around you and pour comfort onto your wounded soul.

Please join me in lifting this sweet family up in prayer.

Lamentations 3:322-23, "Because of the Lord's fatihful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The 23rd Psalm

The past few days have been surreal - with preparation for Hurricane Ike, the devastation to the greater Houston and Galveston area and the beginnings of clean-up. I haven't left my neighborhood too much - only three quick trips and right back. I'm scared to run out of gas (even though I'm still almost on full) because everything seems to be scarce - gas, perishable items such as milk, meat, other dairy items and frozen food. The lines for gas are beyond comprehension, grocery store shelves are empty and people are panicked about when they'll be able to get items that they need. I never imagined that this is what it would be like. In my neighborhood I feel safe - we have power, the kids are playing outside as if everything is normal.

While Ike wreaked havoc on the coastline, dating has wreaked a little havoc on my "heartline". It almost seems sacrireligious to write about dating on a site dedicated to the memory of my husband, as if I'm betraying him. In an odd sort of way, though, he's a huge part of my dating life. There's a small part of me that measures my dates according to what I think Kyle would think of someone. After all, in order to get married again, I have to date and if I date someone, eventually they could my kids' stepfather and they'd be helping to raise Kyle's kids. It's almost as if I want to make sure, if I ever get married again, that I marry someone Kyle would approve of. Someone that he could hang out with and laugh with. Probably that sounds odd to ya'll, but since ya'll haven't walked in my shoes, it'll just have to sound that way and you'll have to reserve judgment;)! I know, I know, I have a problem telling it like it is sometimes;)!

So anyway, I've dated some since Kyle died. Sometimes it has been fun and other times it has been downright tedious and horrid. Lately though it had been fun - I actually met someone with LTP (that's my code for "Long Term Potential" - emphasis on potential). The best news was he liked me too or so I thought, until, in the middle of all the hurricane stuff, he informed me that there were some things we didn't see eye to eye on. So I asked if he was telling me this in the context of "Here are some things I don't think we see eye to eye on, can we talk about them and see if there's been a misunderstanding or room for compromise" or was he just saying "Here are some things we don't see eye to eye on and I'm done." He's done. He and his ex-girlfriend have been talking and he'd really like to see what might happen. Great. I wish you the best. Oh, and did I mention that I started on some new allergy medicine and I learned the hard way that I can't take it on an empty stomach?? I learned this lesson as I almost passed out while he was telling me all of this. Seriously. Drop to the ground, put my head between my knees, ears ringing, lightheaded, can't talk, break out in a cold sweat, I'm totally going to pass out, be sick or both, right now. Yes, really! How fun was that??

And... to top it all off - we'd gone for a ride to see some of Katy and west Houston and taken Wyatt with us. Unbeknownst to me there was purple candy melted to the bottom of his booster seat so when I put it in my friend's car, yes, you guessed it-purple candy was left on the seat - so not only is he telling me he's done with me, not only do I almost pass out, I leave purple melted candy on the seat of his car! So today, I text him to ask when it would be possible to meet at Bubbles so I can get his car cleaned. He responded that it was already cleaned up, not to worry about it and then asked how I was.

Nice. "How are you?". Hmmm... let me see...(yes, you do hear some sarcasm) I am great - I don't know when I'm going to be able to fill up with gas or buy perishable items for my family, I've spent the past three days with an upset stomach and almost passed out all three days until I made the connection about my allergy medicine (I'm blonde - it takes me a while!), the hurricane kind of freaked me out and reminded me how vulnerable we all really are, and Mr. LTP is done with me. I am fine - absolutely fine. Wouldn't you be fine??

Seriously, I have mixed feelings. Although I do feel hurt, rejected and misled, I also had some little doubts, but was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt and get to know him better. I know all too well about jumping to conclusions and I really wanted to see what might happen. I wanted to take time to get to know him - emphasis on time - I didn't want to do what I normally do and that is, at the first sign of potential disagreement or conflict, I run. I cut things off and move on. Oh well. So, maybe it is better this way. I do wish him the best. Really, I do.

I have a ring from James Avery - I bought it when I took my wedding ring off of my left hand. My finger looked so bare, so alone, a reflection of all that I felt on the inside and I wanted something there, to cover up the nakedness. Maybe I hoped it would help cover up all that I felt as well. The ring says, "The Lord is My Shepherd". It seemed appropriate and I wore it everyday for a long time, then sporadically, and now, not so much. But this week, this week with all the craziness and uncertainty, I needed that ring. I needed the constant reminder of Jesus as my shepherd, going after me - the one lone, lost sheep. I needed to know that He was looking after me as tenderly and gently as a shepherd looks after his sheep. So I pulled it back out and put it on. (Did I mention I can't eat salt when I wear this ring - salt causes my fingers to swell and then I can't get the ring off - just a little freebie bit of info.)

When I got home from "the conversation" during which I almost passed out (seriously -how embarrassing!!) I pulled the ring off, sat on the edge of my bed and just rolled it between my fingers, contemplating. Contemplating all that had been said, all the questions I didn't ask and all the things I wanted to say (if you've been dumped, you know what I mean) and I felt my Shepherd put out His staff and use it to pull me close, to whisper in my ear that I am His beloved and that He is the real knight in shining armor. In those moments the 23rd Psalm became new to me all over again. Oh, the comfort that is in those few short verses, the promise that is woven throughout.

In this time where things are upside down and I'm stressed out by many different things, my Shepherd and your Shepherd is right there beside us. Pulling us close with His staff -Whispering in our ears, reminding us that He is all we need, gently leading us forward, preparing a place for us, and loving on us.

Psalm 23 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

"The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; He leads me on the right paths for His name's sake. Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff - they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You annoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live."

Aahh...the beauty of it - the Lord is my Shepherd - I will lack for nothing. He is your Shepherd too and you, too, will lack for nothing. In this time of hurricane recovery, may you feel Him pulling you close too! Blesssings.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

When Emotion Threatens To Trump Belief

Every so often, I have a really bad evening. An evening that would seem to topple any "progress" I've made on this journey of grief and faith. I say grief and faith because grief feels like a never-ending journey, one that defies faith and logic. Yet, it is through my faith that I am able to experience healing and an attempt at wholeness. My belief system, my faith are the glasses, the lenses through which I view the world and try to make any sense of it. This belief system helps to bring order to the chaotic world of grief. And yes, four years later it is still a journey. Knowing in whom I believe and what He has planned for me gives me a concrete block to stand on. Although, some evenings, I fall off of my concrete foundation and land backwards headed nowhere good fast. Yesterday evening was one of "those" evenings. There is nothing in particular that quantifies one of "those" evenings, in fact, I would wager that we all have "those" evenings from time to time. "Those" evenings where life seems larger than my God, where life seems to have little that is good, where everything seems to be going wrong.

It is on "those" evenings that I find myself doubting my beliefs, doubting that God sees me, that He knows what I'm feeling and that He's working on giving me a break. I know that James tells us that...
"when troubles come my way, I need to consider it an opportunity for great joy. For I know that when my faith is tested, my endurance has a chance to grow. So I need to let it grow, for when my endurance is fully developed, I will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." (James 1:2-4NLT). I know that in Romans, Paul tells me "to rejoice when I run into problems and trials, for I know that they help me to develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. Fo I know how dearly God loves me, because He has given me the Holy Spirit to fill my heart with love." (Romans 5:2-5NLT)

I know that in Jeremiah I am promised that God has good things in store for me - Jeremiah was written as Israel was spiritually moving away from God and he, Jeremiah, was pleading with the Israelites to return to their first love - his (Jeremiah's) message is one of urging - he passionately and poetically speaks to the Israelites reminding of them of their Heavenly Father's deep and abiding love and of the amazing, unspeakable things He has for them, if they will just rest in Him, return to Him. I know that all that is written in Jeremiah is true for me too - that if I will just rest in my Saviour, He WILL take care of me, He WILL bring about an amazing plan.

You see, I know all of these things. I have scriptural promises highlighted throughout my Bible. And then, there are "those" evenings, when all that seems to be
out of control, out of whack, threatens to overwhelm and undermine. Yesterday was one of "those" evenings. I went to church, listened with rapt attention to how I am God's chosen and beloved child and I walked out of the church doors, sat down in my car and began to cry. I know that God chose me, redeemed me, loves me, but there are "those" moments, when everything I want seems just out of reach and others' lives seem to be working out perfectly and they don't seem to have any struggles and they lose weight easily and they have perfect skin and they have a great car and they have this and they have that. Sound familiar? All evening my vision rested on what was wrong with my life - bemoaning my struggles, my hardships and all evening my heart felt broken and alone.

Notice I the last few lines are written in past tense. So, what changed? When emotion threatens to trump, to upset my belief system, to send me flying backwards off of the concrete foundation of my life, what happens - how do I find firm footing again? How do I dry the tears? How do I begin to look upwards and not downwards?

I make a choice. A simple, yet so complex choice. I choose to believe. I choose to believe that even though my emotions are wreaking havoc in my heart, Jesus is still on His throne. His word is still true and although at "those" moments I feel pulled, stretched taut and hopeless, I am not. He hears my cry. He loves me. He comes to me in my moment of weakness and stays right by my side, just where He's always been...

Psalm 40:1-3 "I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, the pit of hopelessness, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord." (NLT)

Oh, what an amazing thing - out of the pit of my emotions that try to overwhelm me, to pull me off of my foundation and point my vision to this world - He pulls me up. He puts my feet back on that solid foundation. And then, and then I know, once again, my belief, my Saviour is bigger than any emotion. He's bigger than any situation, than any hurt or any sorrow or anything that stands in my path. I am so glad I know in Whom I have believed.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I welcomed today early - in the very late hours of the night or the wee hours of the morning - I guess it depends on your perspective. At any rate, today has arrived. Albeit with no pomp and circumstance, no fanfare, just the ticking of the clock reminding me that time stands still for no one. I've been dreading this day for some time now. I dread each June 26th actually. It marks one more year since the moment that my husband, Kyle, left us for Heaven. One more year since the moment he was in our presence, not His. One more year since we could all hear his voice and look in his eyes.

I have to confess that often, more often than not, I am not a very good "pray-er" - don't get me wrong, I pray. I just don't do it the way that I think it should probably be done. In the back of my mind there is a running conversation between me and my Heavenly Father. A constant bantering back and forth if you will. Sometimes it is more forth - me telling Him, but there are moments that my spirit quiets within me and I listen to Him tell me. So in the very early hours of the morning as I buried myself under the covers of my bed, the conversation went something like this: "Hey Lord, it's me and it's today. You know, June 26th. Four years since You took Kyle home to be with You. I'm not very happy about this you know." And I heard: "Celebrate." Me again - "Ummm... not to be disrespectful God, but really - celebrate - I don't understand. How can I celebrate? This is a somber day, a day marking loss, not a little loss, mind you. But a huge gaping loss, for Megan and Wyatt, for Kyle's family and friends, and for me. I'm going to sleep for a few hours and when I wake up, I'm sure you'll have a different word for me. G'night, Lord."

Fast forward to 6:00am - the alarm is beeping in my ear and I really want to ignore it, because to get up, to get out of bed, means that today is more than coming over the horizon, it is truly here. The stars have slipped back into their celestial spots, the moon has faded and the sun is flooding the sky with bright light and again, I'm reminded of the date. June 26th. 2008. Four years. No easy thing. And again, I heard, "Celebrate." With a little more indignence in my voice, perhaps even almost audibly, I question - "Celebrate what? My children are fatherless. His parents, his siblings, his friends are all missing him. This hurts Lord~ this cuts deeply and while we're all learning to live with it, it is still a stab in the gut and a pain that, at moments, is unbearable. So enough with the celebrate." Then, almost audibly, I can hear His sigh of frustration wondering if I'm done throwing my little fit, wondering if I'm ever going to get how to climb into His lap and let Him comfort me. Wondering if I'm going to be still long enough to hear.

To hear that Kyle is home. Kyle is walking on the streets of gold. Kyle is face to face with the one who created him, who knew the number of hairs on his head and the number of tears that fell from his green eyes. Kyle is hanging out in the very throne room of our Lord - probably with the baby we lost in one arm and his granddaddy next to him with his grandmommy close by. To hear that he is whole. To hear that his chains are gone - he is free from all that he endured while walking in the seen, the here and now. He is in what is unseen to us - he is in eternity, never to hurt again. Never to experience disappointment again. Never to face tough stuff again. Never to set foot on this broken earth again. He is in perfection. He is with the Heavenly hosts and Jesus is in his sight. Celebrate.

I needed to hear the word celebrate. It is so easy to fall into the trap of downcast vision. To focus on what is gone, what is lost, what hurts. Don't misunderstand me - I'm not saying that I don't hurt today and that tears haven't slipped down my cheeks, because I hurt and tears have definitely formed paths down my cheeks and dripped off my chin to the keyboard below.

But I am celebrating. I am celebrating Kyle's life - all that he was and all that he inspired and influenced in me and our children. I have spent hours over the past several days going through pictures. I haven't gone through the pictures that are "before Kyle died" in a very long time - at least a year or two. It was painful to look at them. It was painful to be reminded. Today, those pictures have been like a warm blanket on a drizzly day - they have wrapped around my wounded soul and been a healing balm. They have helped me to celebrate. Oh, I still miss him. I miss all that could have been. I miss the dream of what I thought life would be like. I hurt for what Megan and Wyatt are missing, for what Kyle's parents and brother and sisters are missing. But I am celebrating. I am moving my vision up- up to the Heavens - to where he is - to where He is - to where they are together. Creator and created one worshipping, celebrating.