Six Years.

At six years since his death, the life I had with Jon is an ebbing memory. This anniversary is markedly different than the rest; death feels like different lifetime ago. It may have much to do with hands full with a cute chunker named Hudson. At six years some memories remain vivid, but many of the mundane, insignificant days are gone. I can still watch our wedding video and hear his voice on the 30 second voicemail I have memorized. I can read his emails and listen to his sermons. But these are memories still. The nuances of our days have faded. I used to be fearful of the day when my days with Jon became less sharp, less clear in my mind. But they’ve arrived. And it’s ok.

Of course I miss Jon. Sometimes sorrow is still there. But I live in the beautiful now; I’ve been given so much joy. This is the first anniversary of his death where I have not had a strong need to process what I feel about it.

Suffering was a gift I never wanted. But I’m thankful for it—

“God has walked me through the valley of the shadow and shown me what true beauty really is. He showed me what love really looks like, and he built a depth of beauty in my story that a life without suffering would never have known.” – Kara Tippetts, The Hardest Peace

This year with our vivacious little buddy, I’m acutely aware of God’s sovereignty. I’ve said it before; if Jon had not died, I wouldn’t have David, and I wouldn’t have Hudson. And I cannot imagine life with out these two. They’re delightful. And they’re supposed to be part of the story.

Before Hudson’s birth I worried that I would have mixed emotions and sorrow because I never had a child with Jon. On that day there was sheer joy. But I’ll not lie and say that there haven’t been moments since then when I’ve missed the curly, dark headed, blue eyed copy of Jon that never existed.

Yet the imaginary baby isn’t the one I needed. My little boy with fine, straight, sandy hair was the one God had planned all along. Hudson is the sanctification I didn’t know I needed. Boy is he sanctifying! And I’m so thankful. Keep transforming my heart, Lord Jesus.

I’ll admit though, Hudson’s gorgeous blue eyes are a cherry on top.

Days with Jon may be fading, but there are fresh joys and new mercies every day. He has left an indelible imprint on my life in many ways. I will always cherish him. Jon is in part why my marriage to David is rich, deep, and strong. He taught me to discuss without shouting or slamming doors. And the work God did in my heart flows over into life with David. I think were I still as combative as I was in the early days with Jon, I might try and run right over my strong but gentle giant, David. 

God’s ways are good.

I’ve been reading Psalm 18 recently, and it’s one of those stop you in your tracks, slow down and marvel at our incredible God kind of Psalms. I can’t read it without a few tears.

“The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.” Psalm 18:4-6

“He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:16-19

In this Psalm I see a penetrating metaphor of deep grief. I see myself when death was fresh. I was there encompassed by the cords of death, some days wondering if I’d make it out alive. But God always heard my cry. He drew me out of the waters of deep sorrow, tended my wounds, and healed them by the power of the gospel and his own dear presence. He has restored, redeemed, and renewed.

But let me never forget that this Psalm is actually about Jesus. And without redemption of my soul, all other redemption is futile. Ultimate deliverance and rescue were accomplished through his death and resurrection. I’m enjoying so many blessings right now, but Jesus is the abundant place. He would still be the “broad place” even if there weren’t any other blessings. Grief was not my real enemy. Sin and death- these are the enemies too mighty for me. And Christ already and forever defeated them.

Praise God!

I’m thankful for the years I had with Jon. His passion for Jesus was magnetic. It was a spark that spread to everyone around him, and I hope it always burns bright in me.

For Everything a Season

Folding laundry may be my undoing someday. Seriously, it’s my least favorite chore. The clothes are clean, and they’re doing just fine over there in a tumbling mountain not hurting anybody, thank you very much.

We seem to produce a lot of laundry for just the two of us. My husband is a giant, so that makes a difference, I suppose. Eventually my love of order trumps the chaos.

One day it occurred to me what a privilege it is to get to fold laundry. It’s a lovely side effect of God’s lavish grace on my life. I have another husband to love, care for, and to serve. I missed the every day things of being a wife.

Here we are in the beautiful mundane, the place of dishes and laundry, of ministry, work, and cooking dinner.  I should note that upon reading the draft, David interjected “Except nothing’s ever mundane when I’m around.”  He makes me smile.

Life buzzes with the hum of daily tasks. Ordinary days. After several years of deep sorrow, waiting, and big changes, this season feels a little foreign. I haven’t been here for awhile. I don’t always know what to do with it.

But I love it.

After loss, tiny moments become treasures. Playing games, seeking new adventures, dancing around the living room together, having quality time, being held tightly,—all are things I soak in.

Oh that I could bottle up these mundane days, storing them to revisit through a trip in Dumbledore’s pensieve. And if you don’t know about the pensieve, I’m not sure we can be friends.

I’m thankful for the beauty of mundane days. I well remember how much I longed for them. But sometimes I feel guilty about this calm and peaceful season. Maybe that seems weird.

Perhaps it was easier to worship God in the midst of trial than it is in the normal, typical every day sort of days. Am I wandering away from God because something “big” is not going on?  But what about my friends who are sufferingly deeply? Is it wrong that I am not suffering also?

But the older I get, the more I see how God often deals in seasons.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die: a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and  a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

As physical seasons reflect reversal, redemption, and newness of life, so do life’s seasons. They reflect the character of our God, and His unrelenting zeal to transform.

J. I Packer put it this way.

Live in the present, and enjoy it thoroughly; present pleasures are God’s good gifts. Though Ecclesiastes condemns flippancy, he clearly has not time for the superspirituality which is too proud or too pious ever to laugh and have fun. Seek grace to work hard at whatever life calls you to do, and enjoy your work as you do. Leave to God its issues; let Him measure its ultimate worth; your part is to use all the good sense and enterprise at your command in exploiting the opportunities that lie before you… We can be sure that the God who made this marvelously complex world order,… and who compassed the even greater redemption from Sin and Satan knows what He’s doing, and ‘doeth all things well.’ even if for the moment He hides his hand. We can trust Him and rejoice in Him even when we cannot discern His path.”

Therefore, I get to enjoy the lovely early days of still being considered “newlyweds.”  Life is not about always being happy, but sometimes happiness is part of God’s grace. There is no need for guilt. God is sovereign over the ebbs and flows. His narratives are complex, and there are appropriate times for every emotion. Of course, beauty and calm are His good gifts.

A year and a few weeks ago, some of my dear friends experienced the deaths of their twins born too early. Apart from Jon’s death, being with them that night was one of the hardest things I’ve experienced. Grief was deep and heavy. But what a privilege it was to hold their tiny, perfectly formed babies, to see God’s grace surrounding them, to cry out to the Lord for them, and to weep and ache with them.

In the same week these friends remembered what would have been their babies’ first birthdays, David and I traveled for a family member’s wedding. We were in the thick of wedding preparations and all the delights that come with them. It was an exhausting, but immensely joy-filled week. What an tremendous privilege it is be in a wedding and to share in a couple’s radiant joy!

Seasons. Contrasts. Walking beside others both in joy and sorrow are God’s good gifts.  Likewise, in my life sorrows and joys are equally God’s good gifts. Though it’s not always easy to understand, both kinds of days teach me the gospel, pointing me to Christ.

  • I remember the sorrow and suffering of the cross.
  • I recall the triumph and joy of the resurrection.

Both are necessary.

As long as this season lasts, I’ll just keep soaking up the sunshine with raised hands and a thankful heart.

Thank you Lord, for good and beautiful gifts in every season.


You might also like

“I remember.” The fight for joy.

psalm42-11-iphoneRattling around my brain was a rant, a pointed tirade. Thoughts and emotions were angry, lava on the page, a written tantrum. I’ve been trying to compose it for a couple weeks. Finally, the Holy Spirit intervened, softening my heart before I hit, “publish.”

It was an extremely me-centric post complete with all the all the ways I perceive people to be careless in their words, all the ways I’m still hurting, all the ways people don’t understand, all the ways I want the focus to be about me.

But I deleted the whole thing.

Let me try again. I’ve had a blog hiatus for several weeks, not because I didn’t want to write, but because I couldn’t. It’s been a rough patch. Joy was the carrot dangling from a stick, always ahead but just out of reach. The imagery of a battle is also fitting. It’s been a constant fight to rejoice, and I grew tired of fighting. I grew weary of “talking to myself.” It was much easier to listen instead. Thoughts and emotions spiraled down. The weight of doubt began to crush. I reasoned, “Well, I’m in good company. Even Spurgeon battled this type of spiritual depression. Clearly, David and the other psalmists knew it also.”

I understand when the psalmist says “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night.” (Psalm 42:2-3) I wanted God, but He didn’t seem to be listening.

I think of the verse that says God keeps tears in a bottle, symbolizing that He’s intimately aware of sorrow. I imagine my tears fill an olympic-size swimming pool.

It’s also been a season of doubt. The same old lies snuck in. God does not hear me. God has forgotten me. “Beauty out of ashes? Well that’s just crap.”

You get the point.

I’ve set a familiar scene and delineated the rising tension. Here’s the relief.

“These things I remember…”

“Why are you cast down O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God;  for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”

“My soul is cast down within me; therefore, I remember you.” (Psalm 42)

I remember. 

My confident expectation is in the God who created me, pursued me, purchased me back, and won me through the blood of His Son. Jesus more than any other knows what it is to be forsaken. He was alone, so I don’t have to be.

I remember the joy and delight of intimacy with God. I “shall again praise Him.” Delight will come again.

I remember that He is the Rock, the stability when waves toss me about.

I change. He changes not.

My Savior provided the very thing I long for, intimacy. I have total access to the presence of God.

I remember who God is. He is good and sovereignly uses all things for my good. He empowers the impossible—“Rejoice always.”  But for grace through the accomplished work of Christ, it is a crushing command. (I Thess 5:16-18)

I don’t rejoice always. I don’t always have an abiding attitude of trust, or take pleasure that all things in my life are according to God’s will.

But Jesus accomplished what I cannot. He rejoiced always. He gave thanks in all things. He prayed without ceasing. His performance is the standard, but it is also my standing. Rather than crush me, in Christ the command allures. It brings me to dependence.

Because I know the good news of Jesus is real, I can rejoice. I can have abiding trust, overflowing thankfulness, and unceasing dependence.

O my soul, hope in God!

I remember.

“Lord I gave in to the lie that you do not hear me, that you aren’t listening. But, I remember. I actively recall and bring to mind your goodness. I remember the days of delight and abundant joy. I remember the “glad shouts and the songs of praise.” I know they will return. Let me say with the psalmist. “Hope in God!” When my emotions scream the opposite, I tell myself what is true. You are salvation. You are steadfast love. You are the Rock. You allure with lasting satisfaction. You remind me that ‘I will never leave you, nor forsake you. Know that I am with you. You will never be alone.’ Yes, Lord Jesus. This is true.”

Epilogue: 

I can’t walk this life alone. God uses His word and the community of faith so beautifully. He brings me back. I’m so thankful for a friend who pointed me to Psalm 42. Even amid his own struggle, he was an instrument of grace to me.  I’m thankful for a sermon that crushed me with the weight of “rejoice always,” but rebuilt me with the beauty that I am able to rejoice because of my standing in Christ. So, I lift my head, I hope in God and I see these marks of lavish grace!