My Sons’ Death was a Springboard: Part One

My sons’ death was a springboard into the deeper understanding of three important things:

  1. The human condition
  2. The power of relationship
  3. The gift of a day

Today, I share #1 with you…

Open my eyes, to see people as you see them. This was a daily prayer of mine… little did I know that my sons’ death would precipitate God answering that prayer for me.  Until my son died of a drug overdose in May of 2018, I believe I was living in somewhat of a naïve, idealistic bubble in quasi-pursuit of living the American dream: the, have-jobs-got-house-got-car-got church-got-kids-and-the-proverbial-golden-dog mode where only the really bad stuff happens to those “other people.” My circle of influence and camaraderie was with like-minded folk. After my sons death, I was catapulted into another circle, the wider circle of people who suffer, struggle, and who have been broken by circumstances of life and I could never have been able to see them, unless I was first broken myself. You know the childish sassy-come-back of, “it takes one to know one”… well that’s true, I’d say, it takes being broken to be able to truly see the broken, with your heart.

Broken, is the human condition. Broken, is what God sees and it’s the entire reason why Jesus was born in the manger and nailed to a cross.  The beginning to seeing how God sees, means seeing the brokenness of the human condition.

Truth is, we are all broken in some way – so be gentle with each other and take the time to really see people underneath their brokenness.

Ephesians 4:2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holidays: Not a Time of Cheer for Everyone

Expecting one, who has lost their legs in an accident, to get up and walk like they use to, is ridiculous. They cannot do it – even with all the best wishing in the world – because life for them has been altered forever.

The same is true for every.single.person. who has suffered a tragedy, no matter what it was, or when it was; time makes no difference. Loss from disease or accident, expected or sudden – it does not matter – it’s all the same terrible.

For me, my tragedy is the sudden, unexpected death of my son to an overdose, eighteen months ago. I am altered for life – not just for a time, or a season; Life for me will never be the same. I walk around with a weight that bears down and a hole that has blown through my heart.

The trouble with holidays is that the expectation for everyone to be of good cheer, be happy, and enjoy the season is rampant.

And for some, it is very hard to embrace the holidays where “family all together” carving turkey at the proverbial Norman Rockwell table is thrown in our faces by ads, movies, and the general chatter of the holiday season.

While I am blessed to have a large, living family still gathered around, my momma’s heart weighs heavy… there is still one empty chair, one forever missing in the “family” photo, and one less child eating the traditional Christmas cookies – specifically, the butterscotch ones.

WHAT. TO. DO……?

That’s a question with a two-fold answer.

What to do if you are the friend, or family member, of someone who is not full of cheer and suffers with a broken heart this holiday season: 

  1. Be patient and do not judge when they do not want to attend a christmas tea, or the cookie swap, or even put up a tree.
  2. Extend the offer of conversation, a listening ear, and willingness to just be there alongside; try to understand; allow their feelings to just be.
  3. Do a practical help if possible – doing life is hard under normal day-to-day circumstances when a heart is broken – even more difficult during the holiday season, getting out of bed, some days, might be the total accomplishment for the day.

What to do if you are the one suffering from a tragedy, the same or different, as me:

  1. Have faith, God knows your pain and heartbreak; Trust He will provide all you need.
  2. There’s no way around the holidays – we just have to go through them;  even if you have nothing but tears – let yourself feel what you feel – be true to yourself, but be kind to those around you – it’s no ones fault.
  3. Don’t turn away from well intentioned acts of love; allow God to work in you, as well as in the well intentioned.

 God has not forgotten me, nor has he forgotten you;

“God is close to the brokenhearted.” Psalm 34:18a

So yeh – Holidays: not a time of cheer for everyone – but I tell you the truth, there is something even better than good cheer, it is knowing that you are loved by God with an everlasting love, no matter what…and in that, there is  HOPE – there for the taking, for everyone.

Be authentic in this season of holidays, Jesus loves, you just as you are.

Are you suffering with grief of one sort or another?

Are you local to the Pioneer Valley?

If so, I invite you to “SONGS for the NIGHT”

(click above, on Songs for the Night, for details)

 

My calendar is marked, is yours?

WHY GOD?

This is my question; WHY GOD?

I have whispered it, wailed it, and wondered it over and over and over again.

On my knees, with tears that fall gently and slowly, and in my tears that run non-stop, down my face and into my lap as I spew trembling, devastated words.

Why my son?

Why this way?

Why weren’t my efforts enough?

Why didn’t you answer my prayers?

Why. Why . Why God?

Each WHY I cry seems to define the hole that has been blown through my heart a little more each time; a haunting, emptiness is created and its name is void. In this void I wait; like a pleading child that wishes things are not as they are, and I wait for my Father’s answers.

Audible answers do not come.

God is sovereign.
He doesn’t have to answer me at all; who am I to question God? But, because I am His child, He is patient with all my hard questions and loves me still.

The grief period has gone and I stumble like one groping in the dark, looking for the light switch; I am in mourning.

Hope is my mantra; I stand on the Rock and recall all I know in my heart; I mourn with hope.

Over time, as I still whisper, wail, and wonder, I consider these answers:

Why my son? Why in this way? I answer, why not my son, because God uses each of us for His purpose, even if we do not understand the reasons; maybe our son, because God knew I am his mother and I would be willing to tell our terrible story so that others may be spared this trauma and maybe another son or daughter might not die?

Why weren’t my efforts enough? I answer, because I am not God. I answer, maybe it actually has nothing to do with my efforts at all… enough is a way of beating myself up and I should not go there. I know I did all I could because I am his mother and I loved him more than anyone else. Except God. God loved him more and that brings me to my last cry.

Why didn’t God answer my prayers? I answer, He did… just not the way I asked Him to; God loved Caleb so much, that he spared him anymore suffering on this earth; God freed him of his daily pain and struggles and He saved him right into heaven. What more peace can I have, than to know my son rests in the arms of Jesus?

Yes. I will mourn til the day I leave this earth and that is when I will have the audible answers.

For now, I leave you with two things:

  1.  A telling of our story
  2. A song that is fitting

IF you share a similar story, I encourage you to have Hope and run to God, even with all your WHY GOD questions; May you know the bigness of God’s love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is How I Endure Suffering

No one wants to suffer. No one chooses to suffer. But, it surely seems, none of us can escape suffering. And, suffer… we all do.

Some might say, I have had more than a fair share of suffering and perhaps you have too…?

My son, who died of an overdose also suffered daily, in many ways.

This is his art work – his hands drew this from his heart. He could draw the pain because he knew pain well. Suffering is always painful.

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I do not know how you deal with it, but this is how I endure suffering:

I look in the garden; I don’t mean at the flowers.

I look toward the hill; I don’t mean the rolling green ones.

I look at the thorns and the torn flesh and the nails and the blood.

In Gesthemene; Toward Golgatha.

I look directly at Jesus praying, then on the cross dying. He is my example for how to endure suffering.

Weeping, crying, nauseous with grief, whispering and wailing, praying. He suffered, and  I suffer. Most times, the pain is more than I can bear.

I endure suffering by calling out to the One who suffered more than any one of us has; because, He knows.

There, at the foot of the cross, I look beyond the cross, at what held Him there, and I see the Hope that is promised.

  • Hope of a future that is good (“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11).
  • Hope that this suffering will pass (“You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away” Job 11:16)
  • Hope that there will be joy in the morning (“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” Psalm 30:5b). .

It’s simple actually.

I just look at Jesus, face to face, and I am held too.

My pain may not dissipate, but it becomes bearable.

The suffering may continue, but I am not consumed by it.

Here I stand. At the foot of the cross. And I have hope.

Will you come stand with me?

 

 

What the Church has over the AA/NA Meetings

PART TWO:

Following up from What AA/NA has over the Church ….
To be fair,
there is something the Church at large has over the AA/NA Meetings; there is something the AA/NA meetings can learn from the Church…
But,
they need to come up from the basement fellowship halls and enter the Sanctuary, to see and hear it for themselves.

AA/NA books containing the 12-Steps allude to it, but don’t quite come out and stand boldly with it, because it might keep some people in recovery away from entering thru the doors of a Meeting.
And yet…
As I was privy to listen to so many heart stirring stories at the meetings, I could not help but think about the one thing that the Church and it’s Book has over these meetings and their 12-step support book, even though similar themes run throughout – both books encourage:
• Surrender
• Personal inventory
• Humble repentance
• Call to making amends
• Call to living peaceably
• Engagement with prayer
• Sharing the way that works , with others
• Believing in God
Admittedly, I am surprised at how many similar themes there are between the two books. One might be as good as the other…

Except, Jesus.
The Jesus factor is the one thing that the Church has over the AA/NA Meetings.

I have witnessed the speaking about God in the meetings and in the Serenity prayer that is often a closing ritual for these gatherings. I understand that the majority of people in recovery are referring to God as an entity who is a power greater than themselves, an acknowledgement that they are not in control. And this is so very great!
God is in control. HE is all powerful, all present, all knowing and is the Creator of our very beings.

BUT,
it is not the whole story and I am afraid that this is where some people in Recovery are missing out.

Except Jesus; God’s Son, Jesus.
The Jesus factor makes it all personal and where victorious living begins.

I can tell you so, because I know, because I am personal with Jesus.
Did you know that when you believe in the name and person of Jesus and all He did for you, you are:
• made a new creation
• given a new identity
• given power over death

How is this possible? What did Jesus do for you and for me?

Like a regular hero – He jumped in front of the bus and pushed us out of the way!
Jesus was born, in order to die; He took the punishment of each of our sins upon himself and willingly sacrificed His own life for ours by dying a criminals death on a cross.

But that is only half the story!
He then was buried in a tomb, typical for those days…… but not typical,

God, the One who has all power, caused an earthquake to open the tomb and Jesus rose from the dead and spoke to his women friends, telling them to tell his other friends that he is alive, just as he foretold them days ago.

Best of all, and the key point here: Jesus then rose to heaven and now sits at His father’s side… well, that would be God… the one we all mention in the Serenity prayer

These events are known as the Good News, and we, church-going Christians, who love Jesus, are here to proclaim and share it with everyone who will listen.

Just like Step # 12 in the 12-step book mandates, share with others the way that works.

This is my moment to invite anyone in Recovery to consider the Jesus factor
He is the Way that works the best.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life… John 14:6a

I believe true and full recovery is possible and sustainable through the power that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ power is stronger than addiction of any kind.

I heard someone in a meeting say, anything can be your higher power,

…“like that rock over there”…
I am here to tell you,
the only Rock that has higher power over you to aide in the full and final defeating of your beastly addiction is
Jesus Himself – the Rock of your Salvation.

SO, I invite you, who are in Recovery, if you have not already, please come up from the basement fellowship halls and enter the Sanctuary; local? Visit my church.