Tuesday, June 30, 2009

he does not forsake

When life hits you full force, in unexpected ways, fear and discouragement will not be far behind. When you are tired and physically depleted, fear and discouragement can overwhelm and overtake. I am learning, though, that God’s promise in Deuteronomy 31:8 is for me, and it is for me forever:

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

It is encouraging to me that God has gone before me, none of this surprises him…he knows it…he has faced it…he has conquered it through his death…AND he will not leave me alone.

Building 429 has a song entitled “Always,” and it is about some of what life can throw at us. I’ve been hearing it the last month, and it always reminds me that God will not leave or forsake me…he will be with me always, and that in him is all the hope and promise that I will ever need.

“But I believe always always
Our Savior never fails
Even when all hope is gone
God knows our pain and His promise remains
He will be with (us) always”


Friday, June 26, 2009


On this day, one year ago, Kathy said her last word. She breathed her last breath, on her own. Her eyes closed for the last time. She had her last earthly worry. She formulated her last plans. Then it was over.

A Bebo Norman CD was in Kathy’s car CD player. The song, “Always,” was probably one of the last songs she listened to. It speaks to me, in this sad place I have found myself. These are some of the words:

“Friend I don't know where you are
And I don't know where you've been
Maybe you're fighting for your life
Or just about to throw the towel in
But if you're crying out for mercy
If there's no hope left at all
If you've given everything you've got
And you're still about to fall
…hold on, hold on, hold on
(because) I believe always always
Our Savior never fails
Even when all faith is gone
God knows our pain and His promise remains
Always, Always
He will be with you always.”

I believe that God was with her through all this…and I believe he ushered her into his presence and gathered her to him with the love of all eternity.

As Psalm 73:23 says:

"Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand."

I believe God is with us now, in this pain, and He is with us always.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

what would you do on your last day?

One year ago, right now, our Kathy was living the last of her “normal days” on earth. Among all the things she did in her busy life that day, she took Brooke to music camp, shopped for MeMaw, and baked brownies. She said a goodbye to PawPaw and MeMaw over her shoulder, as she left their house, and went home. Normal, everyday actions…no one realizing that we would never speak to her again. She became unbearably ill later, and we all began this painful journey.

What would you do on your last day on earth?


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

those who come after

In Walk with Jesus, by Henri Nouwen, he writes:

“We all must die. And we all will die alone. No one can make that final journey with us. We have to let go of what is most our own and trust that we did not live in vain. Somehow, dying is the greatest of all human moments because it is the moment in which we are asked to give everything. The way we die has not only much to do with the way we have lived, but also with the way that those who come after us will live.”

I have thought a lot, in this past year, how important our living is to our dying. I’ve thought a lot about how our Kathy would have never, in a million years, been able to see how her choices, her actions, and her faithfulness affected so many around her.

In Hebrews 11, Paul retells the stories of the lives of the people, of the old testament, who were faithful to him. He makes it clear that none of these people ever realized, in their lifetimes, all that God had promised to them. He also makes it clear that it is the combination of their lives and the lives of all of God’s people that will ultimately show the whole work of God. As he writes in verse 40: “…their faith and our faith (will) come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.”

Wow! So, it’s not my perfection but my faithfulness that God will use, and he will use it for generations to come…all the way to eternity.

As Michael W. Smith sings, “may all who come behind us find us faithful,”

Monday, June 22, 2009

just a year ago today

Just a year ago today, Kathy posted this message on the CaringBridge site of a friend:

“And just remember that God is adding this to the list of ways you can help him. He equips us, through our trials and struggles, to help others traveling on our same (or a little different) journey. You have been, and continue to be, strengthened in ways you could never have imagined. And God will continue to use you for HIS glory.”

I have trouble getting my mind around the fact that Kathy had about five days left of conscious thought in her earthly life when she wrote this.

It was so “Kathy” for her to write these words, because she truly tried to use what she had learned, through all that they went through with the twins, to help others through similar situations.

When the friend gave me a framed copy of these words, it was like Kathy was talking to me…telling me what she thought about our situation without her. No, she didn’t tell us what to do at her funeral. She didn’t give advice on the continued care of her children. She didn’t explain how to keep going without her. She did, though, remind us that, as Paul writes in Romans 8:28, God works through everything that happens to us for our good…and through that good, we can share our stories of hope and trust in a God who loves us and always gives his best for us.

Just a year ago today, Kathy was emailing a friend with encouragement. She was also helping with VBS, and shopping, and cooking, and planning, and caring for her family. What a difference a year can make.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

celebrating the paradox

In Creative Ministry, Henri Nouwen writes:

“When we speak about celebration we tend rather easily to bring to mind happy, pleasant, gay festivities in which we can forget for a while the hardships of life…. Celebration is only possible through the deep realization that life and death are never found completely separate….Celebration is the acceptance of life in a constantly increasing awareness of its preciousness. And life is precious not only because it can be seen, touched, and tasted, but also because it will be gone one day….We can indeed make our sorrows, just as much as our joys, a part of our celebration of life in the deep realization that life and death are not opponents but do, in fact, kiss each other at every moment of our existence.”

In America, we have been so careful to make death separate from living. In fact, many view death in a frightening, horror-movie kind-of-way. God, however, sees it as a normal part of life…a part that is coming to all, just a surely as birth. He even says in Ecclesiastes 7:1: “…the day of death (is) better than the day of birth.”

At first, when I thought of Kathy’s death, I thought of it as “untimely,” and abnormal…a thing that happened that was really not supposed to happen. I have come to think, though, of the day of her death as much a part of “the truth of her life” as the day of her birth. It was a day that has been known since the beginning of time…but that we, in our finite thinking, have trouble coming to grips with.

So…I’m trying to learn to better appreciate life as the most precious gift God has given me, and to also accept death as the other half of the truth of my life…to embrace it all…to celebrate the paradox.


Friday, June 19, 2009


I’ve been thinking a lot about brokenness. What a broken world we live in; what a broken person I am. I’ve been reading the writings of Henri Nouwen lately. He speaks so confidently, that you would never think that he considered himself broken. With the help of God’s redemptive grace; however, he was able to see through brokenness to completeness. In his writing, “All is Grace, “he writes: “The call to be grateful is a call to trust that every moment of our life can be claimed as the way of the cross that leads us to new life.”

What a bitter-sweet thought…new life by the way of the cross….I like the sound of “new life,” but I don’t like the “way of the cross” business. That speaks of pain, humiliation, sacrifice, and ultimately, death. It’s that whole “to have life, you have to die,” paradox. This is the way Jesus saw the way to complete life…it’s the way God sees the way to completeness.

In Colossians 1:18-20 (The Message) Paul says:
“(Jesus) was supreme in the beginning and-leading the resurrection parade-he is supreme in the end….So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe-people and things, animals and atoms-get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the Cross.”

As Henri saw it, it is through our gratefulness and trusting-no matter what comes our way-that we will be put back the way we were created to be.

So…thank you, Jesus. I’m trusting you,

Friday, June 12, 2009

how to say goodbye

In a couple of weeks, we will be at the one year…what do you call it…anniversary…death day (like birthday)…of our Kathy? How can we even begin to think about, verbalize, or express what has transpired in the past year? My heart is feeling heavy again…I haven’t been feeling that way latetly, but I suppose I have more time to think about it, since school is out, and I feel like I’m suffocating again.

I have heard Michael W. Smith’s song, “How to Say Goodbye,” several times lately. It is actually talking about when a child grows up and moves on with his life, but it reminds me of the goodbye I’m still trying to say to my baby sister (she was actually a lot like a daughter to me)….These are some of the words:

“Tell me how to fill the space you left behind
And how to laugh instead of cry
And how to say goodbye
Here I stand
Arms open wide
I've held you close
Kept you safe
Till you could fly

Tell me where the road ahead is gonna bend
And how to harness up the wind
And how to say goodbye.”

How do you say goodbye?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

be still my soul

Today is our 32nd anniversary. How can time pass so quickly?! It seems like yesterday that we were preparing for our wedding and life together…what a life it has been!

One of the songs sung at our wedding was “Be Still My Soul.” What a strange song for a wedding…but what a good, truthful song for a wedding. I had no idea, when I was just twenty years old, what life would hold; and how, in all of it, just being still and waiting for God would be the best strategy for life.

"Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to they God to order and provide.
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still my soul, thy best, thy heavenly Friend.
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end

Be still my soul, thy God doth undertake.
to guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake.
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still my soul the waves and winds still know,
His voice who ruled them while He dwelled below.

Be still my soul, the hour is hasting on.
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment grief, and fear are gone.
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still my soul, when change and tears are past.
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last."

Life has held many beautiful and joyful times for Loyd and me. But it has also held some dark, and unimaginably painful days. It is easy to love God and thank him in the good times, but it is much more difficult to praise in the hard times. It is in the hard times, though, that I have learned to cling to him… to trust him… to believe that he is still with me, and that he still controls the winds and waves.

Psalm 46:10 (New International Version)
"Be still, and know that I am God…”

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

strong faith/great trials

I know several incredible women who are going through horrific trials at this time. George Mueller said, "The only way to know strong faith is to endure great trials. “ It is a beautiful thing to see so many embracing God and his promises in the time of pain and uncertainty…it gives me faith…it gives me hope.

I really believe that bad things happen to all of us on the human journey. The only difference, as Christians, is that we have the God of all hope traveling with us. We still become sick, dismayed, hurt, grieved, and abandoned (at times by those we love the most), but our hope endures…because God is with us.

I have blogged about the song, “Our Hope Endures,” by Natalie Grant. It has spoken to me time after time in the past year:

“You would think only so much can go wrong
Calamity only strikes once
And you assume that this one has suffered her share
Life will be kinder from here….

…Walk a mile with a woman whose body is torn
With illness but she marches on

Sometimes the sun stays hidden for years
Sometimes the sky rains night after night
When will it clear
But our hope endures the worst of conditions
It's more than our optimism
Let the earth quake
Our hope is unchanged

Emanuel, God is with us
El Shaddai, all sufficient
Emanuel, God is with us
El Shaddai, all sufficient
Emanuel, God is with us
El Shaddai, all sufficient

We never walk alone
This is our hope
Our hope endures, the worst of conditions
It's more than our optimism
let the earth quake
let the earth quake
let the earth quake
Our hope is unchanged.”

So…let the earth quake…Emanuel, "God is with us"….


Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I read this quote today:

“Life will not always be what I expect. Sometimes it will be more and other times it will be less. For me, the main thing is to set realistic expectations and then let go and let God (do what he knows is best).”

We just got Emily and Jon’s wedding pictures, and I was thinking what a wonderful day it was for our family and me. I dreaded it, because I thought it would be sad, but it wasn’t. It was a beautiful day of celebration of love and family. It was a time that was “more…” so good after several “less” times, in the last year.

The past weekend, we celebrated Baker’s graduation from high school. We felt Kathy’s presence all through the weekend, because we heard her favorite scripture repeatedly. Guess what??? It mirrors the main thought of the quote, above. The scripture is:

Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version)
“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

So…thank you, Lord, for the times that are more AND for the times that are less. Help me to keep my eyes on you…knowing that you always have plans for my good…for hope…for a future with you.