Prior to the 14th, the 10th also filled my calendar with my middle son, Tucker ('s), senior prom. Each March I'm filled with various emotions anyway because of their birthdays within five days of each other and then the prom four days before that stirs more emotions and memories inside my mind! God knows what's best though. He's already designed each day with me in mind (and you) and where He wants me to be (and you). I'm glad He fills days with many exciting, happy times to counterbalance the sadder more lonely times filled with lost dreams, regrets, and distant memories (and longings for Clark David).
I thought this birthday may be the one I don't post anything. Nothing had really come to mind to write. Well, nothing in particular. Unendingly I'm reminded of his absence by countless thoughts that I want to get out, however I don't want them to be forced just for the sake of writing. I want God to initiate and use it as He sees fit. As I've mentioned, my passion is to write the story God has put in my heart as to what happened to Clark David through my eyes, but it just hasn't come to ink yet. It seems God keeps saying "wait."
A couple of days prior to March 14th this year, as I reflected on that day, a picture came to mind. My family's long time friend, Wendy, met us at one of Clark David's favorite restaurants this time last year to help celebrate and remember his life. Little did I know she would show up with a cake in his memory. I quickly noticed the Bible verse of "2 Corinthians 1" written on it. Upon returning home and settling in I looked up the verse. I had read it and heard it many times before and even recited it to others, but it wasn't until the cake picture popped in my thoughts did I think to read the chapter more closely. This is what I felt the need to write about. As previous posts have mentioned, God continues to send blessings (messages) through my trial to reveal Himself and this time it was delivered on a cake. As I meditated on the text and pondered all God has done in my life and what He is still teaching me, His plan and purpose became more clear...
So, my plan was to share what God was showing me through that Scripture and post it on his birthday, but God had other plans that day...
I was glad to have the privilege of having breakfast with Michael, one of Clark David's close friends on the 14th. It was a special time and blessing! The rest of the day was devoted to other obligations, then dinner with my husband, Tess, Tucker and his friend Maddy in memory of Clark David's birthday. Later, as I was thinking of retiring for the night, I mentioned to Tess that I just didn't think I would have time to do a blog post for his birthday. She looked disappointed and I could tell had been looking forward to it.
Tess didn't know it at the time, but she encouraged me with her words and spurred me on. I started writing that night and now as March is coming to an end, I've literally had an ongoing post in my head as God keeps revealing things to me to this day. That's nothing new though; my whirling thoughts aren't just reserved for March. They usually stay at the forefront of my mind since Clark David's been gone. I guess that's why I want to get them out. Though therapeutic for me, my intent in writing any of these posts is to journal my faith journey. God has reminded me several times, it's not the length of my life that matters, but the impact I make and the legacy I leave behind. As I write what God reveals, and I know He puts those thoughts there, He will use them. If I write for an audience of One, or two (my daughter) it's worth the time and effort. I trust He will take care of the results. I keep thinking it's really too late for all this this month. March of 2018 is almost gone! My mind says,"You repeat yourself too much, you can't stay focused, you're too detailed, you share too much, people have their own lives and don't care, you aren't good at articulating your thoughts, it's too difficult, it takes too much effort and oh, with the length of your posts you're breaking blogging rules (I don't know if there's such a thing, but I'm guessing there is), but God keeps prompting me and saying trust Me, listen to Me, it will be right and right on time. By the way, I just happen to mention to Tess the negative thoughts I had and she said, "Mom, those are just all lies from the Enemy." She's right, they are. She has seen the powerful force of the Enemy. That's where all the battles start and rage on, in the mind (which reminds me of Clark David's story that prayerfully will culminate one day).
I stayed up late writing and the next morning as I flipped over one of my daily devotional calendars, Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman, it read: Christ is building His Kingdom with the broken things of Earth. People desire only the strong, successful, victorious, and unbroken things in life to build their kingdoms, but God is the God of the unsuccessful--the God of those who have failed. Heaven is being filled with Earth's broken lives, and there is no "bruised reed" (Isaiah 42:3) that Christ cannot take and restore to a glorious place of blessing and beauty. He can take a life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it a harp whose music will be total praise. He can lift Earth's saddest failure up to Heaven's glory. --J.R.Miller
The above devotional inspired me. It's all the more reason I felt compelled to write.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 Paul was writing to the Christians in Corinth. The Living Bible states it this way, 'What a wonderful God we have -He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does He do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we undergo sufferings for Christ, the more He will shower us with His comfort and encouragement...in our trouble God has comforted us -and this, too, to help you: to show you from our personal experience how God will tenderly comfort you when you undergo these same sufferings. He will give you the strength to endure. I think you ought to know, dear brothers, about the hard time we went through...we were overwhelmed and feared we would never live through it. We felt doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves: but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us, for He can even raise the dead. And He did help us, and saved us from a terrible death; yes, and we expect Him to do it again and again. But you must help us too, by praying for us. For much thanks and praise will go to God from you who see His wonderful answers to your prayers..."
Last August, God led me to a blog post by Vaneetha Rendall Riser (danceintherain.com) titled, "What it Means to be Held." She talks of how a song by Natalie Grant, "HELD," written about her son (who happened to die on the same month and day as Clark David), was so instrumental in "seeing purpose in my suffering was more redemptive than I ever imagined. Though it didn't take away the pain, it did take away its sharp sting. Knowing that God was using my loss made it a little easier to endure." It helped her see how God uses all of our suffering for our joy and His glory. She says God has also met her as she talks to others who have experienced their own suffering. She is often tempted to shy away from sharing because she doesn't want to relive the agony. It's often less painful to stay on the surface with struggling people. It's easier to remain detached. But inevitably when she does that, she leaves emptier and more burdened. She says I know how much it meant to me to talk to others who had walked similar paths...She went on to say, just talking to them gave her hope for the future. What I loved was the following paragraph that summed up 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, "God uses us to comfort one another with the comfort that we ourselves have received from God. It is both a privilege and a responsibility. And as we tell others of God's faithfulness in the midst of trial, it reminds us afresh that God will never forsake us. Though we may walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we never walk alone." I also found a post with the same title dated 3.27.14 which said, "At the same time, when I am willing to shoulder another's burden, my own load lightens. Perhaps it's because Jesus is carrying both of us. So when I meet someone who is in the midst of a storm I've weathered, I need to be vulnerable. To initiate the conversation. To share my experience and listen to theirs. I can offer hope. Show them that God is sufficient. Offer evidence that they will heal, survive, and even thrive. I hear others asking the same questions I did: Will I make it through? Will the aching ever stop? Will I laugh again? The Lord has held me in my grief and comforted me through all my trials. And because of His tender care, I am able to encourage others who are suffering. And when I do, I myself am healing. I get stronger. I gain courage. I feel joy again."
From reading 2 Corinthians 1, I recalled the above journal I had written down in November of last year and went to find it. Those words tied in so well to what God was speaking to my heart already and what I felt He wanted me to share. I too want to see redemption as it relates to his death, in a big way, but God is teaching me that redemption is in so many small things. I am seeing that more and more. I am to DREAM SMALL. I heard that song by Josh Wilson just this week and was amazed again by how God speaks to me through lyrics, "There's nothing wrong with bigger dreams, just don't miss the minutes on your way to bigger things, 'cause these simple moments change the world, so dream small, don't buy the lie you gotta do it all, just let Jesus use you where you are, one day at a time, live well, loving God and others as yourself, find little ways where only you can help, with His great love, a tiny rock can make a giant fall, so dream small." A perfect song to go with this post and prom story below ;) I see differently, to what my suffering and growth is producing. God is comforting me, is strengthening me, is helping me, is making me strong, and is making me brave. And with that comfort, He enables me to bring comfort to others. I am receiving God's comfort and hopefully giving it in return.
As I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, God has given me a more compassionate heart, a heart that tries to encourage others, or just be available for someone, to reach out a helping hand, or share in their sorrows. Sometimes I'm prompted to initiate a conversation to share parts of my life story. On the outside all might look fine, so I know it's encouraging for others to see God's faithfulness. As I share, hearts are eager to hear how God is carrying me through and they are open to share what's going on in their lives. The conversation gives me an opportunity to remember them in prayer too. It's the prayers of fellow believers that continue to help in my healing. I am forever grateful for that! God has shown me as I reach out and do life together we're both encouraged which spurs us along in this journey of life.
Jill, a friend of mine, recently asked me to join a 13-week video GriefShare (griefshare.org) group. She and I became friends after I reached out to her when her son was killed in a car wreck. Her son and Clark David actually graduated together so it hit close to home. Upon receiving my letter, she shared that she had prayed God would send someone that would understand. I happen to be that one. Not to say I don't still struggle, I definitely do, but I joined the class to be an encouragement to Jill and the group because as the verse on the cake reminded me again, the God of all comfort has comforted me in all my troubles and because of that I can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort I have received from Him. It was a blessing to meet others who are walking a similar road and hear their stories. It was beneficial for all of us. Though heartache is not a happy topic, much joy comes out of sharing your sorrow with those that have a heart to understand and listen. Tears sometimes flow, but God gives us tears for a reason, just like laughter, and by the way, there's no reason to apologize for those tears. The tears that fall, many times when least expected, are a source of healing and make my vision clearer. One thing I've heard more times than I can count since my experience is that people don't know what to do to help a person going through a difficult time. This is not only a great resource for a grieving person or someone experiencing any type of loss, but helpful for someone in understanding what a grieving friend or loved one is going through and how to minister to them.
I am hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).
These words have comforted me in my grief and made me think of a question I've been asked many times, "How are you?" I know it's a cultural thing, but when you're grieving it hits you differently. This question is heard many times a day whether going through grief or not. We've all asked it and still do, but I've noticed (maybe you have too) it doesn't matter your situation, sometimes people ask that without even really meaning it or aren't even aware of what they've asked because they keep on walking or attend to the next thing never intending for a reply. Our culture has grown so accustomed to that question and many times it's just a form of a rote greeting, but it's those few people that know you're in a trial or still struggle that ask, "No, really, how are you doing?". I don't get that much anymore, life goes on and my life should be about pointing others to Jesus and drawing attention to Him not me. I must decrease and He must increase. Some people, however do genuinely want to know how does one deal with the death of a child and want to know how's life going? I've been asked twice this month, "How are you really doing?" I appreciate those genuinely concerned and would say, "With God's help through His Word and the Holy Spirit, He alone comforts, sustains, and supplies me with strength and abounding grace. Through my deepest grief, He has been the nearest and has taught me the most. Therefore, I want to extend that same comfort He has given me and point others to the One that can be their Helper and OVERCOMER. I am hard pressed on every side, but I am not defeated because I have hope. ALL MY HOPE IS IN JESUS. I have a way of escape because with my last breath I will be FINALLY HOME. I am perplexed, but definitely not in despair because I know all God's promises are true and He is coming to ransom His redeemed. I am persecuted because I share in Christ's suffering, but I am never abandoned. He never leaves me alone. I am struck down, but not destroyed. It's Christ who picks me up and gives me a firm place to stand and makes my steps secure. I will not be moved. I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN. Because I have Christ I am able!
These verses also reminded me of prom night and what happened when time came for the group to head out to dinner. Tucker and his friends were leaving the photo shoot area and his friend, Josh, unintentionally bumped up against a knee-high tall hurricane glass globe that stood over a candle on the walkway; right in the way! I was standing right next to Josh as it fell over and crashed and broke into many pieces and slivers. He looked up and said, "They shouldn't have put that there!" I couldn't help but laugh and shake my head. Thankfully, Barbara, a friend of mine was standing close by and she and I started trying to clear the area. While she went to get a broom people were walking by unknowingly stepping on the glass, not paying a bit of attention or even seeing the shattered glass until the crunching of the sound underfoot caught their attention, but then kept walking right on by. I helped as she swept up all the broken glass and discarded it into the trash...
Which reminds me of today, Good Friday, the day Jesus was broken and spilled out for us.There was not one thing "good" about that day (Matthew 27:32-56; John 19:1-42; Luke 23:26-43; Mark 15:21-41). But God....uses all the evil and broken! It was "good" because three days later, He would rise and appear to many (Matthew 27:53; Mark 16:9: Luke 24:1-8; John 20:1-30). He is risen. He is alive! And He is coming back soon...it's not over (Revelation 1:7)...
|Prom 2018 - Tucker & Maddy|
|Tucker & Maddy|
|Happy Birthday, Tess!|
|Prom - March 2013|
Alex & Clark David
|Prom- March 2013|
Alex & Clark David
I miss you so much!
The Lord is fair in everything He does and full of kindness. He is close to all who call on Him sincerely. He fulfills the desires of those who reverence and trust Him; He hears their cries for help and rescues them. He protects all those who love Him, but destroys the wicked. I will praise the Lord and call on all men everywhere to bless His holy name forever and forever.
If you are battling with depression, addiction, or suicidal thoughts, please know YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You are not weak for admitting your need for help! You are not a burden to anyone! Don't believe the lies in your head! YOU ARE LOVED, but more importantly, you are loved by God, your Maker. Help IS available. Choose to talk to someone, share your feelings and get help!