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Forty Years in the Making

Benny was one of the officiates at our wedding.

Benny was one of the officiates at our wedding.

Every once in a while you encounter a moment in time that you realize will be life-altering. You know the kind? Life is just happening…when all of a sudden it dawns on you that this present moment is a bit bigger than you had thought.

I’ve had several moments like these. Most recently, was when I learned that I was carrying triplets. The world around me stopped and life as I knew it – life as I’d hoped, planned and dreamed it – was shattered. (The Good News Is – It’s Triplets)

These moments can be good but they can also be terrifying and tempt us with serious doubts, worry and flat-out fear. But I think even in these scary, life-altering moments we can be propelled towards a more Christ-honoring response as we become aware of how others around us have been carried through difficult times like the one through which we are about to walk.

Saturday night held a good life-altering moment for me. David and I were super excited to celebrate our dear friends’, Benny and Sheree’s, 40th anniversary that evening. Prior to having the babies, Benny was one of my bosses at Metro Life Church and Sheree and I worked closely on many ladies’ events for years. They were heavily involved in meeting with the two of us for pre-marital counseling and instrumental in our short post-marriage relationship. To say that we love them dearly and respect them highly would be an understatement.

But that’s only how they affected us.

Forty years of marriage to the same person is an amazing length of time in this day and age. Think about it…how many 50-60-somethings do you know who are still madly in love with the same person they married in their teens? Sadly, there are statistics that say that as much as 90% of couples will be divorced before their 40th anniversary!

Forty years is also a very long time to affect other people’s lives. And this is where the “aha” moment happened for me.

The evening began with some individuals honoring them for the way they loved God, served the church, invested in their family, made sacrifices, and loved one another. …And this theme was repeated over and over for an hour and a half. It was truly incredible to hear person after person – even some relationships from several decades ago! – sharing how affected they had been by various aspects of their lives. We’re talking kids who came to Christ because of their involvement in their broken homes. And people who chose to ignore the culture’s mocking voice that many children are tedious and impossible…and welcomed many children into their home because of Benny and Sheree’s example. And people who watched them walk through intense suffering, only to emerge bitterness-free and still trusting in their Saviour…giving these individuals hope for their own struggles. And people who saw major sacrifices later in life when many are getting comfy with empty nests. People who saw a woman following a man, laying down her own desires to see his dreams fulfilled – and finding her own desires being fulfilled in new ways. People who saw a man love his wife in the little things, both from the pulpit and with the dishes in the sink. People who saw a couple loving God more than comfort, ease, reputation and accomplishments. And their children rose up and called them blessed (Proverbs 31:28).

{Enter my life-altering moment.}

You see, the people at the celebration that night were not viewing this couple through rose-colored glasses. No. We have lived life with this couple and their family. We’ve seen the sin. The tears. The offenses. We know and have been affected by some of their flaws…as they have been affected by ours. But underneath it all, motivating them for 40 years through intense life circumstances, has been a love for God and a passion for His church.

Is all I do fueled by a love for God?

Or am I more concerned with how others view me? By what people will say about my accomplishments after I’m gone? By how obedient my children are? By how successful we are in raising three teens at once? Am I more aware of the present moment than I am of the eternal weight that this present moment has?

Do I love Him above all else? When my husband asks me to follow him somewhere, will my response be fueled by a love for God or a desire for ease? When my children hurt me beyond belief, will I respond with trust in God – as I sought to do during the fear of carrying multiples, a high-risk pregnancy?

Do I want to be more like Him than anyone? Am I willing to confess sin, exposing the hollows of my deep and pervasively rebellious heart? Are there any costs too high in pursuing Christlikeness? 

Do I view the church as the highest priority, as Christ does, outside of my marriage and family? Have I allowed my attendance to become a duty? Do I cherish the people inside that building (or in any building across the world that professes Jesus Christ as their Saviour)? Do I allow love to cover a multitude of sins?

Certainly, having all these things in place does not guarantee me a stellar 40th anniversary celebration, thrown by three children who want their marriages and families to reflect ours. It doesn’t guarantee that everyone will adore me and that I’ll be as cute as Sheree was this night, dancing with her high school sweetheart. =) But it does paint a picture of a life that has eternal effects. It pulls my view from “the daily” – the endless tantrums and diapers, dishes and laundry – and pushes it towards heaven and the realization that I have the opportunity to affect people (as do we all!) in ways similar to Benny and Sheree.

Benny & Sheree Phillis

Benny & Sheree Phillips

David and I are just starting out. We could barely be more “starting out” than we are with these three 18 month olds. We have the pitter-patter of feet, the grubby hands and the long-but-short childhood and teen years before us. Benny and Sheree have the pitter-patter of grandchildren’s feet and can look back on raising their family with both regrets and happiness…

My hope is that in 37 years, David and I will both be able to look back and see, more often than not, a marriage fueled by a passion and love for God.

Benny and Sheree, happy, happy anniversary. We love you. Like family. ❤

Vote for us? Pretty please??? 🙂

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For Such a Time As This…

On March 6, my friends, Aaron and Crystal, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl: Esther Grace Law. I have been deeply affected by the brief time this sweet baby spent on this earth. I know many have been, as well; we all look forward to meeting her One Day. This post is in honor of her life.

Tiny hands, tiny feet
Have left an impression so large.
With us a moment, the moment is gone,
Now in the Father’s arms for eternity.
Aching dreams and throbbing thoughts,
Are left unfulfilled.

But there is One Who planned them out,
Your days before you were born.
There was a purpose, a plan,
For each of your days on this earth.
Not one of them was happenstance –
All were ordered by Him.

Your life is a beautiful melody;
Our love, the flowing harmony
That points us up,
Our gaze towards Him, the Perfect Sacrifice.
In our grief, His grace reminds,
“I love her more than life.”

So now we hold a memory
In hearts that yearn for One Day,
And hold onto Him, with trusting tears
That all of this is true:
His plans are being accomplished,
“For such a time as this.”

Please pray for Aaron and Crystal and their family as they walk through this incredibly challenging loss. They will celebrate her life tomorrow:

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Posted by on March 15, 2013 in Family, Our God is Faithful

 

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How Many Times…How Many Tears?

grief2I started this post more than six months ago and just never felt it was the right time to share.Today, it is…

This song came on the radio the other night as I was driving alone (yes, alone!). As it began to play, especially through the chorus, I could hardly continue driving. It struck a chord so deep within me. I have experienced very few tragedies in my lifetime, for which I am VERY grateful. But there have been moments where the breath has been knocked out of me. And I’ve gone through seasons where I feel like every time I try to surface for air, I’m pushed back under. Moments of utter sadness and alone-ness. The deep aching and gnawing of pain in my heart that seems to extend to every fiber of my body.

The source hasn’t always been the same. Sometimes my agony is from the consequences of my own sin. Sometimes it’s been hurt and grief for another. Sometimes it’s just that life is plain HARD. And, more often than not, I’ve had to fight tooth and nail to trust Him. Many times I’ve felt like Jacob wrestling with God (Genesis 32). I’ve longed to be free from the fear, confusion and anxiety. Most recently, I’ve emerged from a very self-focused and limited view of my life and His plan for me. In the midst of it, I wondered where He was – why I couldn’t “see” His hand moving. I’ve thrown temper tantrums (oh yes, it’s true – complete with throwing things). I’ve sobbed in the shower, hoping the water would wash more than the tears from me. I’ve begged God for something to materialize in front of my eyes, to help me make sense of the seemingly senseless.

For all my friends who are walking through a place of suffering and shadows, He hears you. He is near.

Oh, God, thank You for being near us. Thank You for walking with us. Thank You for a Hope that our suffering will one day end and we will see the meaning in all of this.

(How Many Times from Plumb’s latest album, NEED YOU NOW)

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2013 in Our God is Faithful

 

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