Monthly Archives: April 2017

The Weight of the Yoke Removed

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It was only 5 1/2 weeks that she rested and grew in my arms of love.  Holding. Nursing. Sleeping. Cuddling. Wearing. Loving. And all but 3 hours of that was spent in mostly physical attachment. Her little body becoming an extension of my body.  My breasts her soft trough. My torso and arms her custom fitted cradle.  She only cried a couple of times that we recall.  I wouldn’t allow much of her needful cries. And I am thankful for that. Because I’m not haunted by her sweet cries or memories of crying. It was soft murmurs and squeaky Squeals.  The dramatic big deep breaths followed by restful sighs.   

When she lived with us, she was delightful. Please place heavy emphasis on the word light.   She put a spongy spring in our step. A bounce to the cadence of our family rhythm.  A uplifting breeze of joy that was refreshing and temperate. And the song in my heart has continued to play. 

But the weight of empty arms feels more than I can bear at times. The sheer mass of longing. The density of the distance between us.  The itch that cannot be scratched quite yet makes me restless. My arms ache with the heavy weight of nothing. And I must make an exchange because I’ll die trying to carry this load of longing. This yoke that afflicts me.  

Who would make that trade? Take this death sentence? Bear the brunt of the crippling weight? Bridge the gap? And take care of me while I wait. . . 

I’ll take it he says. I got it He repeats.  And I pause. Maybe I’ll be a martyr and wear my pain in a bitterly victorious way that actually wins me nothing. Forever. 

Hey- this is what I’m here for. This is why you love me. . . Gently He waits,  as all gentlemen do. 

But He won’t fight me for it. He won’t force me to take the crown and Give Him the crap.  He’s a servant leader not a dictator. Not a master with a whip.  But a master who took the lashes of the whip in service to me.  

And when I hold on to my pain, I make His suffering worthless.  When I reject the healing, I make the most powerful man that ever walked the earth useless.  No Lord , not I.  The pain in the offering is the truest act of worship I’ll make.  And you are worth letting go of my beloved pain.  For I love the giver even more than the gift. And oh! How I loved that precious gift! 

“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” Matthew 11:30

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The Unfolding 

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I remember the first time I heard the song “Glorious Unfolding” by Stephen Curtis Chapman. Since then, I have clearly recognized that the ” tragedies” of this world are just a slowly Unfolding masterpiece to our God. 
This week I had several folds come undone. And it didn’t look glorious. 

And it didn’t feel good. 

It was just SO VERY disappointing.  

Joyful birth announcements turned out to be Funeral Thank you notes.  

I designed a grave stone with hearts and flowers . And I confess– that’s just not what I was hoping to put hearts and flowers on. 

God gave me a vision today of a quilt. I am looking forward to the quilt that will be made from Ellis Grace’s nursery bedding. It will be a beautiful covering remembrance of God’s greatest kindness to our family.  

But in the process of making a quilt, some stitches must be ripped out. Fabric pieces that were once thought to be perfectly placed are rearranged. 

And so it is with our lives. God is indeed the master quilter. He is crafting an enduring work of our lives. No scraps are wasted. No cuts or stitches are made in vain. We are indeed being fashioned into perfection for His glory. 
“And we know that God works all things for the good of those who love him who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
“For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” Ephesians 2:10 

#EG41 #useEllis2tellus

Talking to Myself

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L822ergUxPg&feature=youtu.be

Last week was the week after Easter. I’m sure it felt rushed or short or tiring or exhausting or whatever post-Holiday weeks feel to the “normal” people who aren’t grieving.  But my daughter died last year on the Monday after Easter.  So that was Day 1 of the first 365 days in a foreign land- – a new territory given to me one tearful victory at a time. 

 It means that from now on, we’ve “been here before.”  We made it through all the firsts- – all the things we thought would kill us did not.  All the events and days we prayed that we would survive, we actually did.  We had our prayers answered, our needs met. . . The new mercies met us after each sleepless night.  The panic attacks,triggers, and big, hard lumps have all been swallowed.  

It felt amazing to have God deliver me there without the clinical depression this world promised.  But it also felt like finishing a marathon with legs of jelly and heart out of beats and having someone tell you that this finish line you begged for is actually just the start of a much longer race.  

So I’ve felt very deflated. Like I’m walking through mud and everyone else is on air.  It feels like it’s been forever and we have forever to go.  But God called this week- actually He texted me.  Actually He had one of His daughters text me. 

Could I change up my schedule to talk to a group of grieving mothers and women who may be asked to grieve the dream of ever being a mother? And could I do that next week- – the week after Easter. . . 

The week that I would struggle with the muscle memory of shattering. So on His cue, I gathered the broken pieces that He’s put together for me and I set out to try to bring some Truth and Hope to some of my sisters down the road aways. 

Only was actually the one who needed to think about the truth. To write it down,  further anchoring it in my soul. . . To think about how to package it so that people received it sweetly and properly. To pray for its power, my strength, His message. . . The parts of my story that He could make into a ladder for someone else to get out of the pit. 

Testifying of His greatness and speaking His Truth – – you cannot do it without finding yourself bolstered and renewed in The Good Life He Gives.  It’s  like trying to hug someone you love without feeling any love yourself. 

So I wondered when I left that Parlor Room if I “did it right” . . . Did my story help anybody else’s see theirs  in the light of His love and grace?  And I realized that while I hoped for that, it did not matter. What mattered is that I agreed with God on the hardest matters to walk in harmony with Him on. What matters is that I will not be moved in what I believe about Him. Everything I see,  hear, feel and experience around me can serve as compelling evidence that He isn’t good and I will insist with all that I am that. . . 

As for God, His ways are perfect. His law is flawless. I am shielded as I trust in Him.                 ( Psalm 18:30)

Even if they are ways I would never choose, laws I would never write, and shields that are totally unnatural to rest behind.  Even then. . . 

So I went to minister to a group called Glory Babies and I was the one ministered to the most. What perfect timing and deliverance.  What crazy blessed kingdom economy that the one who prepares is the one who feasts, the one who gives – gets, the one who travels finds herself home again, and the one who longs for her daughter actually feels her purity and presence in the power of ministry. Only God.  

Blessings of the 28th

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On the morning of March 28th, I put my two older boys on the bus. Before busying myself with some tasks of the day, I decided I should check on my newborn daughter. It had been 3 hours since she had last nursed and that was a LONG stretch for her. She was pale and had no breath in her. I did everything humanly possible to restore her life while activating EMS and begging God for her life. EMS and hospital workers continued to try to restore her for over an hour. It was not Gods will and we remain focused on accepting His will and doing His work. A member of my tribe lovingly reminded me that God says we are to thank Him and bring glory to Him in all circumstances. . . I AM SO THANKFUL THAT:
1) this happened the day after Easter so my heart was set to know that the grave holds no power . . . just as life is temporary, so is death to those who believe.

2)the boys were safe on the bus and were spared the perception of any danger or memories of trauma in their home. 

3) I was able to reach everyone I needed that day and that God provided a way for everyone to join us on Holy Ground.  

4)that there was a friendly face of a beloved friend at the hospital .

5) I am thankful that God gave my mother immediate clarity of TRUTH and that she was able to “mother” me from a place of strength in the ER

6)that my sister Ange was able to minister to us continuously in the first hours, first days, first week. . . 

7)that my boys were picked up by a loving uncle and their ears and hearts were protected so they could hear an honest and loving truth from the people God used to create and nurture them 

8)that first responders were so very kind and God even provided family during that time 

9) that loving family members kept little Grayson’s day light and joyful and familiar to him. 

10)that I was alone (from an earthly perspective) and the rest of my family was spared trauma in our home. And as well that we returned here immediately and that I was given power to quickly reclaim my home in every way. 
It’s not easy to praise or give thanks through intense pain. In fact, at times it can seem cruel or ridiculous. But God doesn’t ask us go to do it because it adds to our pain.  

No. Certainly not. 
He knows a grateful heart is an open heart that sees more clearly. 
“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

When Truth Hurts

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Life Verse for Today: 

” I came into the world to testify to the TRUTH. Everyone who BELONGS to the TRUTH listens to MY VOICE” John 18:38
The Truth About the Truth. . . 

This verse sounds all well and good, but what if the truth of your life puts the hurt on your soul. Sometimes the truth isn’t all Roses. Sometimes the TRUTH is that you only have Roses where Rosy cheeks used to be. . . or that your memory of a joy-filled time may be as close as you’ll get to JOY today. Sometimes the truth of your life doesn’t feel like something you want to BELONG to at all. It can feel more like a prison than a purpose. . . and we want to escape the truth instead of listening to its voice.  

For the TRUTH has a name and that name is JESUS. Let us not confuse Him with the One who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Whatever our pain, He is our peace and purpose. Whatever our prison, He is powerful to set our captive hearts free. 

Walking in truth is very difficult for me right now. A simple question like “how many kids do you have” or “how have you been” is complicated by my new truth that is sprinkled with pain. . .my CURRENT truth doesn’t change the ETERNAL truth of Jesus. 

He is the Prince of Peace, not disappointment. He is my wonderful counselor, not my source of confusion. And He is the real WAY, the only TRUTH, and THE source of LIFE. He came to reSTORE, rePURPOSE, and reCLAIM. So I don’t like the TRUTH of my story right now — and that’s OK, because I like the AUTHOR. . . I’ve read a lot of His stuff and it’s all been truly good. . . 

He speaks the truth.

 I belong to the truth and I follow His voice. . . 
#EG41 #useEllis2tellus

Postcard from God

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It had been almost 3 weeks since my daughter left this earth and took flight for eternity.  I was walking through Target while praying for the strength to buy a baby gift for a dear friend. I was trying to figure out how to stay in the baby section long enough to buy a gift without becoming a spectacle. What if I saw the wrong rosy onesie and started weeping and the weeping turned into a panic attack or what if the lady inside me who was constantly screaming ” No!No! No! “. . . what if I lost control of her and she got out somehow? 

What if I just had to leave weeping and I couldn’t do this thing that needed to be done because it’s consistent with who I have always been and I was somehow still alive deep inside the layers of shock and grief.  

I was lapping sporting goods and electronics. I would edge towards that baby section and then meander back when the big bump of needles pricked my soul and swelled my throat. And then I saw it. Out of the corner of my eye. The rosy backpack and I knew I had to have it.  For the contents of my spiritual ICU that consisted of a bible, 3 devotional, cards, my new soothing adult coloring equipment. But something whispered. . . Also for a journey. . . 

What journey? I was having trouble leaving my house. It cost too much and was worth every penny and it’s presence in my cart gave me enough joyful courage to regain the territory of shopping in the baby section. Now sure , I could Only buy very  unemotional items like a stool with some baby meds stuffed in it but sometimes victory looks like a practical baby shower present. 

I got home,  exhausted from climbing  that grueling emotional summit with no awareness that God would be transporting me to one more mountain high for the day.  The mail.  I would get a little depression-fighting vitamin D by walking out to the mailbox.  

I wasn’t expecting any correspondence from the King.  After all, He and I were still in a nasty disagreement over his idea of perfect planning and my experience of unbearable pain.  You see, losing my daughter was both unbearable to me and perfectly planned by God. And He and I were supposed to be on the same page. I was sore at Him and He knew it. I was disappointed in myself and He knew that too.  

So he affectionately flirted with me in a gesture He knew I would not be able to resist.  Ten years earlier I had told Him how it would thrill me to receive a note from Him in the mail. And then I dismissed it as impossible. 

Until this day. Day 20. I was counting the days without her to let  Him know how hurt I was.  On this day, in this mail, it was sticking out and it stopped me in my tracks. 

I knew it was from exactly Him to specifically me and I couldn’t believe He had actually done it.  He wanted me. He believed in me. He still had good surprises for me and most importantly He wasn’t disappointed in me .  The card was addressed to “My Fellow Adventurer.” And that was how He thought of me. . . As a brave and worthy friend that He would like to Road trip with.   It was unreal and yet so very real. I was holding it in my hand and it felt like promise.  

It was indeed the promise of more to come . . .the hope of a guy who finishes what He starts. . . With every path paved with good and every invitation . . . To be accepted with the love and excitement it is Given in. . . 

There would be more. It would be worth it. I should buckle up for the great adventure. Thank goodness I had the perfect backpack for that kind of thing. Maybe He does plan perfectly after all. 

 

The Spiritual ICU

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I am no longer in the spiritual ICU but my tribe is just as faithful today as they were a year ago to keep me out of the unit and in the battle.  But a year ago today . . . I was in critical condition and wrote the following: 

When you are in the ICU, you are unable to function normally. In most cases, you will be dependent on a person or a device to do what you cannot do for yourself. If you cannot breathe, it may be a ventilator. . . if other major organs are compromised, it might likely be medications and continuous nursing care. . . my spiritual ICU is no different. There’s so much I cannot do for myself right now because my spirit is weak. My hearing is drastically affected . . . and both truth and the enemy of truth call out to me. My own voice and ability to pray is compromised as well. . .
But, you know what else is true about the ICU? It never closes. Those who toil there never rest. One shift may end, but not without a new one beginning.  
My spiritual ICU is no different. The staff there is specialized and well equipped. Their protocols for my care are written by God himself. They are relentless about capturing the perfectly prescribed scripture at the most crucial times. When I see truth dimly, they shine their lights brightly. When I think I hear Him, they echo His promises until they are resounding and bouncing through each hallway in my soul. They will go on the warpath for anything I need – – whether it is sleep or the perfect bench to go where a crib once was. . . they are audacious, relentless. . . praying when I cannot muster a prayer of my own. . rallying me with a battle cry that is new every morning. They look like normal women but Oh! World Beware — they are MY TRIBE. . . daughters of the King yes but also WARRIOR women who battle on my behalf. . . no man left behind and no woman left unRESTORED. . . the tribe has spoken and their words aren’t just encouragement. . . they are Prophecy.
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14 
“As one piece of iron sharpens another, so does a group of warrior woman keep each other sharp.” Proverbs 27:17
#EG41 #useEllis2tellus #lovemytribe