Trying to see

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This week is the anniversary of mom and dad’s death. It’s been three years. It feels like yesterday. And it feels like forever.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that I haven’t been writing much. I get so exhausted with writing depressing stuff. And that seems to be all I can think or write about lately. I’ve felt like I’ve been doing really well the past six months, and then May rolls around and I realize it’s getting close to June. When June arrives it knocks the breath out of me.

So this post might be a little depressing. I’m not sorry though, because I hate living behind the lie of everything being all wonderful and rainbows and butterflies. Yes, Jesus is on the throne and I praise Him for His love and faithfulness. But as a friend recently said, this is major suckness.

One of my favorite singers is Steven Curtis Chapman. When I became a believer in college he was the first Christian artist I started listening to. You may know that his precious daughter was killed tragically in 2008. The album Beauty Will Rise came out in 2009 and many of the songs were inspired by his daughter. I’ve been listening to those songs a lot lately. One in particular is See.

Right now all I can taste are bitter tears
And right now all I can see are clouds of sorrow

We have so many good memories of time spent with Mom and Dad. And I know I should be focusing on those memories and the blessing of the years we had together. But as hard as I try, all I can see are the painful memories. The memories of that week in June.

The night of Monday, June 11 as my sister and I started to worry, just a little, that something might be wrong.

The day of June 12. The phone calls. Pacing back and forth in the kitchen. Their boat being located and for the first time knowing that something was terribly wrong. Driving to Platte. Running down to the dock, seeing the police tape. The sheriff telling us Mom and Dad were gone. Sitting on the rocks along the Missouri River, waiting for the police to get Mom and Dad off the boat.

Waking up June 13 and realizing it hadn’t been a dream. Having to tell Jim and Leana over the phone as they waited for a plane in Chicago.

Learning that Mom and Dad had died on June 9 and lay in the boat for three days, while we went on with our life, oblivious to the fact that our parents were dead. On June 10 we had a picnic in the park with our friends.

But right now, all I can say is “Lord, how long
Before you come and take away this aching?”
This night of weeping seems to have no end.

I want to look back and see the joy. But all I see are the lasts.

The last time I saw Mom. It was at Ruby Tuesday in Mitchell a week before they died. The kids had spent a few days with them at the river, and we met half way so I didn’t have to drive all the way to Chamberlain to get the kids. She ordered the salmon dinner and saved half of it to take home to dad.

The last time I talked to Dad. It was Friday, June 8. I called to asking him some questions about the garden.

The last time we were together as a family, the end of April at Cherry Berry. I hate Cherry Berry.

I think of my kids and it makes me sad that they have a mom who is so sad. I want to see. I want to see the joy. And I’m trying. I’m crying out to God to help me see Him through this grief and through whatever the days to come might bring.

That’s the heart of this song. It’s Maria Chapman in heaven saying, “See, Mom and Dad. It’s so much better than you said it would be.”

Even though most days lately I can only see the grief and sorrow and pain, there is one thing I can see that brings me joy. I can see Mom and Dad in heaven too, saying the same thing. “See Missy, Nellie, Jim, Leana, Tracy, Patricia, Angel, Caleb and Cleo. It’s so much better than we said it would be.”

And I’m counting down the days until I see
It’s everything He said that it would be
And even better than we would believe
And I’m counting down the days ’til He says, “Come with me.”
And finally, we’ll see. We will see.

I couldn’t find a video on youtube with the song See. I decided to make one and it is a little long. But the more and more I watch it, the more and more I see. Love. Joy. God’s faithfulness. God’s presence.

Thank you Jesus, for helping me see.

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Throw your burden

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“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.” — Psalm 55:22

Just a few days ago, God took a burden from me. I guess I should say I finally released it to Him, and of course he provided peace about it. Pat and I have been trying to decide whether or not to go on a mission trip this summer with our church to Haiti. We met with one of our pastors to get more details on the trip and he prayed with us about the decision, asking God to give us peace. I felt as if I had finally given God the burden of making this decision.

Later that evening I was sitting outside and I sensed God speak to my heart that we shouldn’t go on this trip. I went in and told Pat and he said that he felt the same. There was much peace about our decision – even though we really wanted to be a part of this trip.

I was reminded of how many times God has sustained me through difficult times or decisions. Back in 2006 Pat and I were beginning the process of adoption. We had spent the year prior caring for a two-year old who we had hoped to adopt. After a year it was decided that his mom was able to care for him and so we had to say goodbye.

I longed to be a mom and was ready to jump into the adoption process with both feet. However, I just didn’t have complete peace about submitting our application and fees to the adoption agency. But I couldn’t bring myself to admit that God was telling us to wait. And not just wait but to wait a year before beginning the adoption process. I knew this couldn’t be right and so I fought against what God was telling me. One night I finally cried out to God and released this burden to Him. I told him that I was done trying to figure it out and asked him to clearly tell me what we were to do. I went into the living room where Pat was and I said to him that we needed to make a decision as the adoption agency needed our paperwork. Without knowing how God had been speaking to me he said, I think we should wait a year.

I broke down crying – not because I was sad, but because I had such a peace that God had spoken to both of us, reminding us of his promise to sustain us through any burden. God also sustained that peace for us – throughout that entire year of waiting, we had complete peace about the decision to not proceed with adoption.

Of course, a year later, almost to the exact day, we began the adoption process again and a few months later, God blessed us with our precious daughter Angel.

As I was writing this devotion, I was reminded of something I read from Beth Moore’s blog. She was reflecting on this scripture and I want to share a little bit of her post:

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This morning I opened up The NET Bible and read a large portion of Psalm 55. When I got to verse 22, I sat tight on the NET translation:

“Throw your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain you.

Maybe you’re visual, too, and right about now you’re picturing throwing. Like hauling off and throwing something as hard as you can. And maybe getting a little frustration and madness out of your soul while you’re at it. Maybe crying while you’re doing it. Even out loud.

Throw.

Before you’re tempted to hold it to your chest and suffocate yourself nearly to death with it.

Throw.

Then something else spoke to me. A footnote focused on the word “you” at the end of the phrase “Throw your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you.” The footnote said:

“The pronoun is singular; the psalmist addresses each member of his audience individually.”

Individually. We EACH have the invitation to throw our burdens upon the Lord and let Him sustain us. Not the “we” of us. The “you” and “me” of us. We also each have the responsibility. In other words, no one can throw our burden on the Lord for us. We can’t call in a relief pitcher. Don’t misunderstand. We can certainly call upon people to pray for us and with us and the New Testament adamantly tells us to carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) but listen. There is a difference between a burden that is entrusted for us in a season that we are to partner in sharing and carrying. Say, for instance, a long term illness or thorn in the flesh. But the part of the burden that we are inadvertently – even accidentally – playing God over needs to be THROWN. The part we’re suffocating under because we’re no longer walking, we’re laying down with it on top of us, needs to be thrown.

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I hadn’t read this post of Beth’s since she first posted it back in May, 2012. Of course, I had no idea at the time how many burdens God would want me to throw to Him the past three years. There is such an overwhelming peace when we acknowledge this gift of throwing our burdens to God. I just love the visual of that.

In fact, it brings me back to my track and field days during high school.

My brother was an All-American cross-country runner and if you’ve read my blog, you are probably familiar with his success as a college coach. Unfortunately, I did not inherit the running genes. I have run before (in fact Pat and I recently started running again and it makes me so happy!), in fact I’ve run a half-marathon. However, my time for the half marathon was almost the exact same time as my brother’s time for a full marathon.

I couldn’t let my inability to run fast keep me from the track team, so I decided to join the weight team and throw shot put. Of course, I didn’t throw it very far, but all I really cared about was being able to go on the road trips and hang out with my friends. Even though I was probably the worst shot putter in the history of the world, it was pretty exhilarating throwing the shot put. I think about that now as I imagine heaving my burdens to God. There is a joy and exhilaration in knowing that I can completely release them to God.

I am also thankful that there is no burden too heavy or too light. It’s maybe a little easier to throw the real heavy burdens to God – but the so-called light burdens – the burdens we think we should just be able to handle – it’s often hard to humble ourselves and release those to God.

I encourage you to reflect on this scripture and ask God to reveal to you what burdens you need to throw His way.

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Throw your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you.

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We interrupt this unofficial bloggie break to request a vote from you!

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Hello all.

I obviously haven’t been writing much the past few weeks. I’ve been working extra hours at work on a big project and also co-directing a dinner theatre for the past two months. Now that our project is close to completion and the dinner theatre is over, life will hopefully get back to a sense of normalcy. Ha, who am I kidding, right!?

Anyway, I have a lot of thoughts to share, but until then, I’d like to ask you to please vote in the Secret13 writing contest.

I am a finalist and voting opened today and will go through Sunday, April 26th. You can vote once a day per IP address. My essay is titled Bigger Than Overwhelmtion.

Here is the link to cast your vote: http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2015/04/21/secret-13-essay-contest-final-voting/

Thank you so much!

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Resurrection weekend

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It was a beautiful Resurrection weekend. And not just because the weather was nice.

Friday night Pat and I were able to go on a long overdue date. We went to Fast and the Furious 7 and it was so good. I might have cried at the end. OK, I did cry.

Saturday we helped Pat’s niece and nephew move in the morning and then I had drama practice at 1:00. Pat continued to help them move and I took the kids home. We had some planting to do!

I saw on Facebook or Pinterest a cute idea. Have the kids plant jelly beans, and then before they get up plant suckers. I wanted to connect it with the Resurrection message and so we talked about what happens when we plant Jesus in our life.

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I have no idea what we did Saturday night. I think I cleaned and Pat slept (he’s also been sick). Oh ya, we made a little progress on going through Grandma’s Barb’s things and got some of her furniture moved into the house.

Sunday morning I was up bright and early to get ready for church. And to plant suckers.

The kids (especially Angel) were a little suspicious of how the suckers got there.

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I was a part of a drama at church and it was such a blessing to be able to share about God’s love. I’m not sure if they recorded the drama, but if so, I’ll post it when it’s available.

At church I was reminded of how cool my friend Christa is. :)

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Grandma made an amazing lunch for us, Pat’s sister and our niece and nephews. It was then time for the Jesus Basket Scavenger Hunt.

Mom would have been proud that we did a scavenger hunt. She would not have been proud of how lame my clues were. Oh well, it was last minute and the kids thought it was fun.

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I convinced the fam to take some pictures, although the sun wasn’t quite in the right spot.

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This was my view as I walked to church Sunday morning.

The sun had risen. And so had the Son. I’m so thankful.

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