Hope to Endure

I regularly write for a blog that seeks to minister to parents who have suffered the loss of a baby due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  I have decided to post my articles here too on my blog.  I trust they are a blessing to you.  If you know of anyone whose family has been affected because of SIDS, would you kindly refer them to the ministry blog.   We seek to minister to all those we can and show that in God there is hope even in the midst of grief.  

“For I reckon the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  Romans 8:18

SIDS brings suffering to the hearts of family members touched by its sudden arrival.  It hurts.  It is unseen and nothing could prepare us for the void it leaves in our families for years to come.

When a child dies of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome it causes the parents to feel vulnerable and uncertain of what the future holds for them or other children they have or may have in the future.

Sudden death brings sudden pain, sudden suffering.

 This verse is for us.  It serves as a reminder of sorts for hope when we are hurting.  It is a truth that was penned by the hand of God to hurting hearts.  Our hearts. 

God wants us to know that He sees our sufferings; and He wants us to remember that they won’t last; but there is more!  This truth gives us more than an assurance that pain, hurting and suffering will end.  It’s so much more than that!

It tells us how great Heaven will be; and it uses our sufferings as a compression of sorts that allows us to be able to identify just how great Heaven will be. 

As much as your heart is breaking right now – Heaven is SO MUCH greater than the deepest pain you have felt since your baby died.

Think about all of the times since your baby died that you have cried harder than you ever thought you could cry.  Heaven is so much greater than that.

Think about all of the times when you felt your heart would break and the loss felt to be more than you could physically handle.  Take all of that pain – Heaven is greater than that!

Think about how many times when you have relived the horror of that day.  Heaven is greater than all of the fear we have felt since that day.

So the next time the tears won’t stop – remember Heaven waits for us – and it is great!

The next time fear seems to paralyze you - focus on Heaven.    

Heaven awaits us and all the pain, suffering and heartache that we feel here will be gone.  Done. 

Heaven brings hope.  Hope that we can endure this heartache and pain.  Hope that God is right beside us.  He has not forgotten us. 

“Let not your heart be troubled… In my Father’s house are many mansions… I go to prepare a place for you… I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there ye will be also.”

And, when He takes us Home – the glory of what He has done in us will be greater than any heartache that was endured in this lifetime; and we will have forever and ever to thank Him for His working in our lives.

I think this verse serves as a reminder:  Don’t despair.  Don’t give up.  We have a blessed hope; and we’re not home, yet!

A Race to Run

This Saturday morning started early.  Really early.

She had a race to run...

She left the house at 6:15 to get there in time to register.

It was the first race she has ever run...

The night before she had been a little anxious.  Would she run well?  Would she place well?  She had sat in my room and talked to me about what the next morning held in store for her.  I told her not to worry about the placement.  Just make sure you finish.  Always finish.

I got there in time to take pictures and make sure she was ready for the race.  It had been her exercise buddy's idea for them to do it.  Abbey had wondered if she could do it; we had told her to go for it.

She did.  Now she was standing at behind the starting line.  Waiting.  Instructions were given.  Then they took a moment to pray for the race.  The sun was shinning down and the morning air was brisk; but not cold.

Finally the moment came.  On your marks, get set, go...

She was off.  Her first 5K.

I went and waited for her at the finish line.  I watched as runner came by me, winded; but close to the finish line.  There were bystanders on the grass and when a runner would come by they would start clapping.  I am not sure what it was; but something came over me.

It was the analogy of life.  We all have a race that we are running.  Someday, we do not know when, the race will officially be over.  We will breathe our last breath and finish the last mile.  Until then we are told to run.

I watched as the runners came by.  One runner was holding onto the hand of a little girl.  They were running together.  Again I was overcome with emotion.  The picture of life.  Standing next to someone who is younger and helping them through the race.  A Dad ran along side his little girl.  They finished together.  He had run races before; he could have finished in better time - but today he ran with her.  His finish time was not as low as it could have been; but his daughter's was higher than it had ever been.  They finished together.

I watched; and was glad I had sunglasses on because there were tears in my eyes.

Then a runner approached where I was standing.  She had run good; she was almost there.  I could see the finish line from where I was standing.  It was just up ahead. She had run long and hard; but she was tired.  Too tired.  She stopped in front of me.  She put her hands on her knees and bent over gasping for air; and as she did she kept saying, "I can't go anymore... I can't do this..."  I watched as she struggled.  She looked up towards the finish line, then shook her head again, "I can't..."

Then from the sidelines two other runners who had finished ran up to her.  I am not even sure they knew who she was.  They saw that she was tired, spent and discouraged.  One runner went over to her left side - the other runner to her right.  They put her tired hands in theirs - each hand was grasped by a runner who had already finished their race.  "You can do this.  You will finish.  We will finish together."

And, together they ran.  One on her right side, the other on her left side - the tired runner in the middle.  She did not sprint in - she slowly trotted in with help from other runners who saw that she needed help and encouragement.  I was overwhelmed.

Is this not the Christian life?  Those who are strong coming up along the ones who are weak and needing help - placing their hands in our and running towards the finish line.  As the trio approached the finish line I thought about the many times in my life when people have come up along beside and told me that I could do the task I needed to do.  I thought about the countless times when I have read either in God's Word or in a biography of a Christian who did much for God and was challenged that I too could finish.

Hebrews 11 came into clear view as I watched the three cross the finish line and heard the cheers of those standing in the sidelines.

Then, I looked back over the horizon.  There she was!  Running.  By herself and running.


I watched as she passed me.  Winded.  Tired.  But still she ran - and she finished!

I was so proud of her!  Proud of what she was doing.  Proud of the fact that she had run - she had dared to do something that she was unsure she could complete.  She did it!

I cheered as she passed me and hugged her when she passed the finish line.

Each of us has a race we are supposed to run every single day.  I want to finish mine.  I want when I go to bed at night to know I accomplished what I was supposed to do that day.  Because someday all of those little daily races will be done.  My life will be over.  I want to finish strong.  I want to help others finish their race.

When I got to Abbey at the finish line she told me that she wants me to run one with her.  Ummm...  I think, perhaps, I  just might...

Have a great weekend.  Thanks for stopping by, I am so glad you did!

Jeusus - The Grief Counselor

I regularly write for a blog that seeks to minister to parents who have suffered the loss of a baby due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  I have decided to post my articles here too on my blog.  I trust they are a blessing to you.  If you know of anyone whose family has been affected because of SIDS, would you kindly refer them to the ministry blog.   We seek to minister to all those we can and show that in God there is hope even in the midst of grief.  

An Exposition of Luke 24:13-32

Having lost our daughter to SIDS several years ago I have had countless opportunities to talk with other families who have also experienced the same loss. God has allowed my heartache to be a springboard that has allowed me to counsel other Mother’s who are walking through the deep grief that follows loosing a child.  After our daughter died from SIDS in 1997 I felt like my life had shattered right before my very eyes.  I lost my way.  I needed someone to come alongside and share with me truth – a counselor.   As the years have passed and God has healed my heart; He has placed within me a burden to be a counselor to those who are grieving and hurting.

A few weeks ago as I was in church and listening to the message a passage of scripture became so clear to me.  I saw it in a whole different light than I had ever seen before.  I saw it in the light of grief counseling.   I was so encouraged by watching the Master Counselor at work in the passage.  Clearly He was counseling two grieving hearts; and how He handled their heartache and grief was nothing short of breathtaking.   ( Luke 24: 13-32)

It was nearing Resurrection Sunday and our thoughts, and the pulpits of America were using this time of year to proclaim the story over and over again.  I love Easter; and the part of the story being told during this particular Sunday was the story of the men walking on the road after the crucifixion.  They were troubled and Jesus used the word ‘sad’ to describe their emotional state.  I listened as the pastor read through the text and then one verse stood out to me:

Verse 16:  “But their eyes were holden that they should not know Him.”

As I read those words the preacher’s voice became distant and my heart focused on those words.  “They should not know Him.”  I saw the verse in a counseling text.  Is that not a common problem for most people having just lost a baby to SIDS?  Have they not lost the ability to see God clearly?  Has that not been the issue in my heart when our daughter died expectedly? Through the hurt and grief and pain and tears I could not see God.  I knew He was there – but I just could not see Him clearly.

I meditated upon the story and the verse.  The events that had happened the few days before this account had been intense for these men.  The passage goes on as the men explain to Jesus what they were talking about and why they were sad.  As I read this passage, I put myself in their shoes.

These men had witnessed blatant misuse of power.  The government and political powers had deceitfully brought charges against Jesus that were simply not true.  Jesus’ followers had witnessed this.  It was unfair, in human standards.  It caused them great distress to see this happening and to be in a place where they had no recourse, no defense.  They had watched the one that they loved be hurt and murdered by a corrupt system.
Jesus’ followers had also witnessed horrific trauma within the past few days.  They had seen their leader beaten (more than even most hard core criminals were beaten) for a crime He did not commit.  The trauma that they had witnessed had to have been extreme and caused them much distress.  Can you imagine seeing someone you loved dearly bloodied and physically broken in body?  They also had witnessed His death.  Watching a loved one die a traumatic death causes much distress to those whom witness such an event.  These followers were human too, and they were not an exception to the rule.

They also felt hunted.  In other passages we see that some of the followers of Jesus were hiding from the corrupt government.  They were fearful of their lives too; and who would blame them?  They had witnessed their teacher suffer unjustly and cruelly in their government and religious systems hand’s.  For all they knew they would be next.  Fear gripped their hearts and immobilized them.

As I read through the passage I realized that their emotions are often felt by us as parents when our children die unexpectedly.  We relive the horror of finding our baby; or perhaps we wrestle with emotions of blame for the person who was watching our baby when they died ( a babysitter, a spouse, a grandparent).  The fear that follows us after the death of a baby can be immobilizing; for in one instant we experienced first hand what we had known in our hearts – that life can change in an instant.  Fear follows us as we are afraid of all the things that could happen in an instant; and no amount of assurance can change our fears because we know it can happen – we’ve experienced it already.

  ‘Victimized’ by the events of life, traumatized by an event that caused them great distress, and fearful.  Most people who have lost a child to SIDS experience at least one of these emotions; if not all three of them.   Parents who have lost a baby suddenly will find somewhere in the grief journey that their baby’s death has  caused their eyes to be blinded; and just like these men who loved Jesus, they can not see Him through the circumstances that have come into their lives.

I loved reading how Jesus counseled these grieving men through them their distresses.

Verse 17:  “And He (Jesus) said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?”

The verse before that tells us that Jesus ‘drew near’ to them.  How He knows how to counsel and how much I can learn from Him as I watch how he worked.  First, He came close to them and then asked probing questions for them to be able to open up to Him and talk to Him.

These men were shocked that this ‘man’ who walked with them had not heard about all that had happened in the area the past few days before.  They ask Him about how it could be that He would not have heard about all these things that had happened.

Then Jesus continues the counseling ‘session’.

Verse 19: “And he said unto them, ‘What things?’ And they said unto him, ‘Concerning Jesus of Nazareth which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.  And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.”

Jesus walks along with them listening as they recount the events that have caused them trauma, fear, and the reality of a corrupt system that was far worse than anything they would have ever dreamed.  We watch and see that Jesus did not interrupt them; but rather kept listening and letting them talk about the things on their hearts.  Has He not called us as Christians to come alongside the hurting and help bind up the hurt they are experiencing?   I feel most assuredly, that this is what Ally’s death has allowed me to do.  I want to be able to come along side another parent who has lost their baby and point them to Christ in the hurt.  Offering a listening ear as Jesus did to these hurting men is often the first step in helping the hurting grieving parent.

  It is interesting that as they continue dialoging to Jesus about what was on their hearts they come to the core issue of what was truly bothering them!  The reason why they were so distressed.

Verse 21:  “But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel…:

Ah Ha!  Here it is.  The heart issue!  Yes, the events of the past few days had caused the distress, fear and trauma; but what had caused the most problem had been that what they had believed about Jesus suddenly appeared to be untrue.  God had not responded to the events of the past few days in a way that they thought that He would.  Here was the main issue!  Their view of God was wrong and causing serious problems with their grid of faith.

Is that not what is so hard for us as grieving parents?  The issue that causes us the most distress is not the trauma of finding our baby not breathing or the fear that comes suddenly almost choking us.  No, the issue that causes us the most distress is that God did not do something to cause our baby to remain with us.  He did not work it out the way we thought He would.  Our fervent prayers we prayed when we were watching them trying to get our baby breathing again seemed to go unanswered; and if we’re honest our most heartfelt prayers felt like they fell on deaf ears.  Somewhere in the grieving process we have to sort through the reality that the God who spoke the world into existence has the power to bring life back into the shell of our baby.  He could have in a moment brought breath back into the little lungs that were housed inside our baby’s shell; but He didn’t.  He had the power; but He had not used it the way we had begged Him to.  We find ourselves disillusioned with the silence of God during the tragic moments and days following our baby’s death.

This is exactly how we find these men.  They too were disillusioned with how God has chosen to respond to Jesus’ death. Then we watch the Master Counselor work.  I loved this! Jesus listens to their distress and their heartache and pain and He does what every counselor should do when brought to the heart of the issue.  He presents to them Christ.

Verse 26-27: “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” 

He showed them HIMSELF!  Perhaps you are reading this wondering how you can help someone who has experienced the death of a baby.  May I challenge you to do what Jesus did for these grieving men.  Show them Christ!  Show them their Redeemer.

Jesus assures them first of God’s sovereignty.  He assures them in verse twenty-six that all of the events they had witnessed in the past few days were supposed to have happened.   He, with the authority of the Word of God points them to the fact that the events they had witnessed were not out of God’s control and did not take God by surprise.  He took history (‘starting at Moses’) and showed them how everything in the Old Testament had pointed to this one event.

Is this not what we have to be reminded of after our baby dies?  God is still in control.  The events of that day did not alter God’s plan for us.  They did not take Him by surprise.  He knew before our baby ever was born the day that he/she would die.  It was all part of His plan.  What comfort we can receive from this fact.  God is still in control.  Just like the crucifixion was horrible and traumatic God had a plan for it all that was so much better than the pain of death.  Jesus points us as grieving parents to Himself and assures us that He has everything under control and that He has a plan for our lives that is so much greater than the hurt and grief that we are experiencing now. 

Then, in our text we see that they reach the place where they are going and the two men ask Him to stay with them because of the hour of the day.  Jesus agrees and ‘abides with them’.  He was not willing to just share truth with them; but also fellowship with them and build a relationship with them.  This fellowship time was key in allowing these men to be brought out of their state of despair.  Jesus sits down to eat with them, breaks the bread and blesses it and when He gives them to eat suddenly they see it!  The light bulb comes on.  They realize that this is Jesus!

When they see Jesus right in front of them suddenly they understand all the events of the past several days!  It was not a corrupt political system that brought about these injustices and left them all victims.  The trauma of the horrific death they had witnessed suddenly did not seem quite so horrific.  The fear that had filled their hearts for the government that was coming to get them and had taken Jesus’ body – suddenly did not even matter because HE WAS THERE!  When they saw Jesus all the events that had caused such distress completely changed.

May I challenge you that Christ is with you right now in the hurt.  Perhaps the hurt is new.  He is with you right now.  Perhaps the hurt is something that you have carried for years since your baby died.  He is with you!  He reveals Himself through His Word and the promises of His Word.  When you open it up you will find Him; and when you see Him there is an understanding that He has everything under control.  As you draw close to Him in your grief He will draw close to you.  In the nearness you will experience just what these men did that day.  You will know Him.  You will understand His heart and His love of you and in this understanding you will find that He is all you need.

A Boy's Responsibility

The calf has become part of the family.  He was born on the week of Valentine's Day and has a white spot on his head shaped like a heart.  Those are the reasons he got his name - Romeo. 

James' mornings were already full before the new addition.  He works for a local farmer doing their morning chores.  When Romeo came to live here he had to get up earlier so he could get the calf's bottle in before he left to do the chickens.

The minute the lights come on in the kitchen in the morning Romeo starts talking to us and telling us he wants James.

The morning feeding.

I love how his tail wags when James is feeding him his bottle. 

During the days Romeo has gotten big enough and well enough to be able to feed out on the grass in the back yard.  It is kind of odd doing my work on my computer and feeling something watching me.  Romeo loves to watch us through the window as we do our school work and afternoon routines.

It has been a delight to see James work with this little calf and to watch the bond that has developed between the two.  I think every boy should have to raise something that is complelty dependent upon him in order to survive in the world.  What a responsobility - what a rewarding challenge this has been so far.

James' summer will be filled with getting this calf fattened up for the state fair this fall.  The local farmers tell us that the hardest two months are behind us.  For that we are thankful!

Preparing to Go

She is leaving in four weeks.  One month.  Our lives will be completely different from anything that we have ever experienced before in our life.

Our oldest daughter is leaving home for a year.  A whole year.

I spend some of my time wondering where the time has gone.  It seems like just yesterday we were walking the hallway with a crying baby wondering if the days of colic would ever come to an end.  That was just yesterday, right?

I wonder if I have completed the job that I was supposed to do with her.  Did I teach her everything she needs to know?  Is she ready for life?  Have I instilled in her the character that she needs to do what God has called her to do?  Should I have spent more time teaching her to cook better or bake better?  Will she know how to keep her apartment clean and tidy?  Should I have spent more time teaching home skills?

I wonder if she will do OK navigating a forgein culture and learning a forgien language.  I wonder if she will safe as she travels, make all her connections and get through customs and the border without incident.  I hope, beyond hope that she will be able to call me from across the ocean and tell me that she has arrived safetly.  I am sure that I will not sleep really well until I know she has made it to Germany.

Mostly, I wonder if her relationship with God is as strong as it needs to be to accomplish what God has given her to do.  Does she understand the Christ life like she should?  Is her faith strong enough to handle lonliness, depression and dissappointments?  (I know life and I know they all will come!)  I wonder if she has a correct ministry view of the task that God has given her.  Is she viewing it as a mission field to which He has called her?  Has God put within her heart a heartbeat and heartcry for the people to whom He is sending her to minister? 

My thoughts can go on and on.   Time continues to tick by and one month seems like it is right around the conrner.  The closer it gets the stronger the lump in my throat feels.  The longer one year seems; and Germany sounds like it is farther away than the moon!

Some things have become clear to me:

* Time goes by faster than I ever dreamed.
* You can't go back and do overs.
* You get to say "I'm sorry".
* You can't keep them with your forever.  God gave them to you to prepare and send out for His work.
* The same God that I meet with every morning is going with her to Germany.  (Somehow that makes it      
    seem a lot better!)
* God has more invested in her than I do.  
* Her life is His - not mine. 

So, I am spending everyday thinking about how soon we will miss her smiling face at our table in the morning; and I am spending as much time as I can being with her and building some really great memoires that we will hold onto when she is away.  We will be taking a current family picture and looking at the olds ones wondering how the time could have gone by so quickly. I will post our new one when we get it done.


 I am taking comfort in the fact that God is going with her.  I have poured into her as much as I could in 20 years.  What I have missed and failed in can not be redone in the few days we have remaining; but God can shore up my shortcoming and He can teach where I have failed. 

However, just because she is leaving us for a year does not mean that I can not invest in her any more.  I can pray for her every day.  I can intrust her to His capable hands to protect and guide and teach.  What a comfort that is to this hurting heart.  So thankful my God can be trusted with those for whom I hold so dear.

Thanks for stopping by - I am so glad you did.