Month: June 2018

Where is the joy?

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On June 16th, 2012, I wrote this:

Dear Mom and Dad,

The mornings are the hardest.

Every morning as we wake up, we are reminded again that you are gone. The realization of losing you is paralyzing and it feels like our lives will forever be filled with sadness.  I wonder where the joy is.

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5”

Despite the sorrow and despite the heartache, I know that joy will come.  I know because it’s a promise from God’s Word. And right now that’s all we have.  All we have is our memories of you and of the faith that you lived. You lived the promises of God’s Word and you would continually remind us of God’s love and of the joy that we can find only through Him.

We looked through your purse today Mom. It was good. And it was horrible. Jim found a note that you had written:

“God who began will finish. My daughter made a remark on her blog the other day. She said something about how she has a penchant for not finishing things. I never really considered that as a trait of hers, but what I found odd, was the next day the Lord led me to these verses in His Word.  “God who began this good work in me WILL finish it.” Period. What good work will that be? I’m not doing anything for Him right now. But I think I’m getting “works” mixed up with His good work. HE SAID HE WILL FINISH!”

Mom, you wrote this last fall and it now brings us great comfort.  The only thing that can bring us joy now is to cling to the love of God and to remember that good work that He has done and is doing in you and Dad’s life. We know that one morning, probably a very long time from now, we will wake up and find joy in the morning. Find joy in the love of our Savior and of the legacy you both have left for us.

It’s amazing how grief and joy can live intertwined in our lives after experiencing a loss. God did not leave us on that day and neither did His joy. But I think sometimes we can miss joy.

On Monday we went fishing and it wasn’t the best weather so we were the only ones there. Until two older people came over to where we were. They had their two grandchildren with them and as I saw them, the first thing I thought was, “why.” That should be mom and dad with Angel and Caleb.

But if I would have allowed myself to sit in that thought, I would have missed the joy of seeing Angel and Caleb fish and swim in the freezing cold lake and bury themselves in sand. I would have missed the joy of sitting in peaceful silence on the side of the lake with Pat. It is not easy, choosing joy, but it is something I know I can do with God’s help.

As I look back over the past six years, there has been a lot of grief, but there has been so much joy too! Even days after we found them, there was joy in the celebration of their life and encouragement and love from family and friends.

There is joy in seeing Angel and Caleb grow up and being able to tell them all about their Papa and Grandma Susie. There is joy in seeing my dad in Caleb. There is joy in laughing at the memories of mom and dad. There is joy in making new memories with my siblings and baby blue eyes Cleo. There is joy in the anticipation of our first grand-baby.

There is joy in knowing that mom and dad are with Jesus.

I wonder if part of the meaning of Psalm 30:5 is that in this life there will be weeping. So much weeping and pain and questions and grief. But in the morning – when we leave this world and join Jesus in heaven – there will be nothing but joy!

Oh, I can’t wait. What a wonderful promise to cling to!  And so that is what I will do. When I don’t see or feel the joy I will trust in God’s word and know that my joy is in Jesus and the many gifts He has given to us.

Friends in low places

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Just like Garth Brooks, I’ve got friends in low places.

I’ve always struggled with friends. Well, not always. I think it started after I left my first husband and abandoned my faith. Through all of that I also turned my back on my closest friends. So it’s been a struggle to allow myself to be a friend and accept friendship. I think I’ve been afraid that I would fail again or hurt them.

Thankfully, over time, God has healed that part of my heart and has brought kindred spirits into my life. Friends who have walked with me through the lowest of lows.

Yesterday I was looking back through Facebook and blog comments from June 12, 2012. And the 13th and 14th and so on. I came across a post on the 13th where I asked if anyone could take the kids for a couple hours. The offers were endless and we were given some time to try to sort through everything. One of my friends who had the kids for a couple hours sent me these pictures:

Oh it made my heart happy to remember how well my kids were cared for on one of the toughest days of our lives. And how all of us have continued to be cared for.

And seriously, how were my babies so little!?

Over the past six years, I have been so blessed to have friends and family who have encouraged us and prayed for us and allowed us to heal through with the pain and grief we experienced and continue to experience.

Friends who text or call for no reason other than to say hi and that they are praying. Friends who allow us to be truly real and honest about our struggles…and love us just the same. Friends who send gifts for no reason, just to let us know that we are not alone. Friends who we can laugh with and cry with. Friends who don’t accept “I’m fine” as an answer to the question of how we are doing. Friends who when I try to cancel plans because I’d rather just stay home alone, tell me too bad, you aren’t staying home alone (not in those exact words, but close 🙂 ).

Friends who are the hands of feet of Jesus, even when I am at my lowest and not the best friend in return.

I am also reminded that as loved and cared for as we have been these past six years, there is only one friend who is my rock. Only one friend who will never fail me or leave me. Only one friend who brings complete healing and peace. Oh what a friend we have in Jesus!

Maybe you read this and think, “I don’t have a friend like that.” Let me encourage you first, that yes, you do have a friend in Jesus! He loves you!

But also I want to encourage you to be that friend that someone needs right now. Regardless of what you receive in return, be the hands and feet of Jesus. Maybe you don’t even know this someone that well but that’s ok – love them, pray for them, ask them how you can help. Jesus wants to use you and through your love and friendship, Jesus can change someone’s life!

Thank you Jesus for the friends you have put in my life. And thank you Jesus that I can lay my burdens down at your feet and forever and ever your heart is my home.

God of even this day

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This day. Six years ago.

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012.

I never could have imagined a heartbreak so painful or a grief so profound. The questions. The worry. And when the answers came, they of course, weren’t the answers we wanted or prayed for.

But God was still there. Even on that day.

He’s been there every day since.

2,190 days.

Every day I’ve doubted. Every day I’ve cried out in anger and confusion. Every day my heart has ached to see mom and dad one more time. Every day we’ve laughed at a memory. Every day we’ve made new memories. Every single day.

He’s been there through the joy and the sorrow. Through the healing and the pain. The seasons change and time goes on. And He’s still the God of every day.

Do you have a day? A day you dread. A day that brings painful memories. A day that reminds you of failure.

God is the God of even that day.

On this day, June 12th, I look to Him. My tears of grief are mixed with tears of joy knowing that I can put my hope and trust in the God who walks with me each and every day.

We interrupt this lunch break to search for a rat

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I went home for lunch today and decided to check on our rat Oreo, aka Roger.

Yes. Yes we do have a rat. A rat named Oreo, aka Roger.

Here’s the rat story before I get to the rat lunch story.

Last week I stepped outside and out of the corner of my eye I see a white and black thing scurry away from my flowers. He ran around the building but I couldn’t find him anywhere. I thought he was a hamster but I also thought maybe I was imagining things.

The next day our neighbor knocks on the door and tells Pat he found a rat. Since Pat is the maintenance man of our apartment complex, he gets all sorts of calls and knocks on the door. The rat had been on our neighbor’s patio but ran off. Me, Pat, the kids, the neighbor and his wife start looking for Mr Rat and I find him around another corner. Pat and the neighbor thus begin their quest to capture Mr Rat. After about an hour they give up – Mr Rat is a smart rat and knows not to trust Pat when he tells him to come out from under the patio, it’ll be ok.

Fast forward to Sunday, we were all outside and our neighbor comes around the corner and says the rat is back. Pat had gotten some traps from a co-worker and so the neighbor takes the trap to set it up by his patio. Ten minutes later the neighbor returns with Mr Rat.

We believe Mr Rat was purchased by another neighbor who happens to own a very large snake. Neighbor who caught Mr Rat gave him to Pat as Pat said he would give him to a co-worker. I guess snake neighbor didn’t want Mr Rat anymore. But then Caleb convinced Pat that for some reason it would be a good idea for US to keep Mr Rat. Because that’s what we need, along with rabies. And then of course since Caleb has a rat, Angel needs a hamster so it’s fair because after all life is always fair. And Pat’s wife, aka me, for some reason decided this was all ok.

This is all so confusing.

I guess I should have just said, we now have a rat.

Which sounds much more sane than, we decided to keep a rat we found outside, but it’s ok, really.

So, I go home for lunch today and decide to check on our rat Oreo, aka Roger.

Oh ya. Caleb originally name him Roger. Which I love. Roger the rat. Come on, how great is that!? But then last night he decided Roger was going to be called Oreo. And I said that I’m still going to call him Roger. Because when I was growing up we had a dog named Ed. But I called him Mickey because I collected Mickey Mouse stuff. And he knew both names. It was awesome.

His sign says Epic Oreo. How cool would it be if he was named Eric Oreo Roger!?

So, I go home for lunch today and decide to check on our rat Oreo, aka Roger. Who will now be referred to as Roger.

Unfortunately, Roger is not in his cage. Someone left the top off his cage which was on top of a table in Caleb’s room. So Roger first did a little mountain climbing and then a little sky diving. Thankfully Caleb’s door had been closed so we were pretty sure Roger was still in his bedroom.

Pat was home for lunch too so the four of us proceed to tear apart Caleb’s room looking for Roger. Caleb is crying and in between sobs asking if he can get another pet. After about 20 minutes we decide to let Jake – our black lab golden doodle – come into the room and see if he can sniff out Roger. No luck.

I then ask Pat if Roger could fit under Caleb’s door. Pat says probably. So then the four of us proceed to tear apart our entire apartment looking for Roger.

Pat decides to give Jake another try and while me and the kids are out in the living room we hear Pat cheer. Jake found Roger! He was in or under or something with the heat register behind the bed. Pat took apart the heat register and pulled Roger out and Jake got about 15 treats for having such a good nose!

The moral of the story?

If you happen to find a rat and keep it and give it two names and then lose it and then your dog finds it… you are not alone.

Hello? Anyone?