Grief

Free Handout {grace}

Its dark in our tent and the air mattress whooshes whenever I turn over. There’s the gentle sigh of wind through the aspens and the quiet “oof” of the dog lying guard outside the door.

Night breezes whisper through above me and the even breathe of my husband reminds me That I should probably be sleeping as well.

Our back yard is our camp ground tonight. Its cool and comfy and an adventure of its own kind.

This blog has been a journey into my heart and now is no exception. In just a few days, our Wildflower girl will turn 8 years old. Or will she? I never know how to count years in heaven. My friend who has a son in Heaven told me, with a far away look in her eyes, that she likes to think we will be able to watch our children grow up after we get to heaven. We won’t miss out on their lives at all.

I loved that more then I can say, because to me, Kierra will always be my 3 yr old daughter with the most beautiful hair.

The past week has been tough. I feel my tension rising and my heart rate increasing. You know how it feels to face the inevitable.

Like a birth.

Like a tooth being pulled.

Like the ticket being written out in that flashing car behind you.

Like a thunder storm brewing and no place to run to.

Like a train headed your way .

And you

Can’t

Stop it.

Like the dawn .

Or the sunset.

Thats how it feels right now.

Sometimes I can hardly breathe because all I want is my little girl back. I know deep in my heart that I’d never wish her back to the brokenness in this world. But nothing can stop my mommy heart from longing for that mommy/daughter relationship that ended way too soon .

Kobe was 2 when she died.

He is 6 now. This year has been especially hard for him. Perhaps its his age and the maturity of his brain. Perhaps its because we have been adjusting our parenting method and allowing more wide open spaces and room to explore feelings of anger, sadness, fear, and rejection. Its rung me out and left me sobbing but I feel like healing is coming. Slowly but surely.

He had an especially rough day last week. It wasn’t getting better and finally he broke wide open to me and told me about the deep sadness “so black I’m afraid I will forget her” that made him miss Kierra. He sobbed and sobbed and I held him and wept with him.

Nothing breaks your heart like a child’s grief. And nothing is as healing then those cleansing tears.

I am trying to remember to hand grace around freely right now. But guys, it’s incredibly harder to do then to say.

One of the hardest people to extend grace to is myself. The irony lies in the fact that a graceless life is not likely to share grace. I’m praying for added doses this week, and I’ll take any prayers you offer as well!

I wept today when I let anger rule my response to my little Ky. This was not the mommy I wanted to be at all.

I realize again the importance of rebooting myself. I randomly shut off my phone and hit restart. It always works so much better.

Its the same way with us, my friends!The world will not fall to pieces without us. We WILL fall to pieces if we don’t shut down and reboot occasionally. Life was not meant to live in a frenzy of fear and running from ourselves.

It was meant to be embraced. It was meant to be savored. Shared. Valued.

We diminish that value when we reject our selves and our self worth.

A few of the things that have helped me :

*taking a break from social media once a week. Because of my business, this is not always a 100% break but I shoot for at least 24 hr of minimal social media. We go on drives or explore outdoors.

* writing and reading. It relaxes me.

* doing something creative that may even appear childish or worthless.

* finding a place of beauty. Like a quiet bookstore or coffee shop. A bench by the river. A tent in our back yard.

*

*sitting in the sunshine and feeling the ground beneath me.

*going on a date with my man.

Your list will likely look different then mine. But it will be Beautiful. Because it is YOU!

Grace. Hand it out freely this week.

It is so needed!

Grief

Your Face Is All I See

Sometimes it blindsides you. The slightest movement or the quickest glance. You are propelled back to a specific time and a specific place. A memory that brings back floods of memories and you nearly drown in the magnitude of it. 

Something as simple as a red binder with a yellow paper sticking out of the top, tucked under a lady’s arm at Barnes and Noble. The exact color of your daughter’s ISFP binder. And the yellow paper sticking out the top…so familiar. A lady’s laughter in the coffee shop, and you see in a glance that her life is anything but typical. A man (presumably her husband since she has two kids with her) follows haltingly behind, his hand on her shoulder. The children talk and do the little childish skips and quick, carefree movements only children can do, and they are perfectly comfortable and at ease with the strange sight of their mother leading their father and the mother laughs freely. Happiness and ease exude from them. And they look like a wonderful family in a complex world and you realize that was you…happy and accustomed to the strange grunts and unperceived noises issuing from the one you loved. 

Maybe I noticed these things today because my heart was tender. This morning in church, a lovely couple found seats a few rows in front of us. Their daughter was beautiful and her hand was turned at a strange angle as they walked in. No one else (except maybe a therapist ­čÖé would have noticed that the hand and forearm were turned outward slightly. My heart started pounding and the music around me just faded into the background as I stared at that sweet girl. When I looked closer, she  actually wasn’t so remarkable. Just another cute little girl. To her mommy she was everything though. Just a daughter should be. As her mother turned her around to adjust her in her lap, her arm turned also and the backward looking twist disappeared. 

But that one glance was all I could see. My eyes were glued to her, although I politely tried hard not to stare. I can nearly guarantee that girl is perfectly healthy, but that one strange position took me back to another girl and another day that seemed a  life time ago. My little Kierra. 


I wanted my daughter with her underarm showing. I wanted to have to sit in the back of the sanctuary because she didn’t enjoy crowds. I wanted her wiggles in my arms and her beautiful hair falling around her face and smooth and soft under my fingers. I stood in silence through the song, tears welling up from the bottom of my heart. My eyes filled slowly. And finally, the tears leaked out and ran down my face. 

I looked at the little girl in front of us again and knew in my heart she didn’t resemble my daughter at all but some strange longing and attraction drew me. Her mommy held her close and loved her so sweetly and the little girl snuggled close and relaxed. And while I missed my own little girl so so much, a strange thing happened. I had never felt like this ever before. Not in this context. Not this strongly. Not in this way. 


My heart was bursting with thankfulness. Thankfulness to the beautiful Loving Heavenly Father who had given me Kierra to love. To call my daughter. To hold and cherish. To laugh and cry with. She taught me to be a mother. She taught me what a daughter is. She taught me the joy of color and pretty things and soft music. She taught me to love to stay at home and the wonderful gift of family. She taught me so much. She taught me what love means. Unconditional love. Love that lets go and still keeps loving and never dies. My heart was so thankful to God. So thankful for the gift He gave me when He gave Kierra. There are no words to explain the depths of how her short three years have changed me. Unraveled me. Elated me. Healed me. And loved me. And it was and still is all a gift from God. 

As I sat, with all these emotions of aching for her, and thanking God for her, and tears running down my face, the music gently changed and the beautiful words washed over me and around me as people throughout the church sang ….

Lord, your beautiful!

Your face Is all I seek

And when your eyes are on this child,

Your grace abounds to me…”

And somehow, the words rolled into a lovely picture in my mind, the beauty of the Lord, the joy on His face as He gazes at beautiful Kierra in Heaven….

the joy and the beauty

th joy and the beauty

And the grace.

As the song ended, one of the pastors got up to speak and spoke of the loving heart of God to us…His children. How He delights in us and keeps His eye on us. How He LOVES us. I can’t remember the words, but I remember the meaning deep in my heart. He is our Father. He loves us tenderly. Gently. Completely. He would never ever allow us to be hurt without something good in mind.  He weeps through our pain with us. And He holds me. Just as He holds my daughter. 


Thankyou, my God! Thank you for the GIFT of KIERRA RAINE!

Grief

Hearts At Home

I lay this morning in that quietness between sleep and fully awake and I held as still as possible and willed myself to stay there. 

I had been dreaming of my daughter, and I was holding her again. 


We were in the hospital, and she was very sick. So sick that she lay in the hospital bed, with lots of tubing and she was restless. I scooped her up, and held her, her back against my chest, her sweat little head under my chin, and she calmed down and relaxed and rested so sweetly and I wanted to sit there forever.

There was a deep deep peace in my dream and it should not have been there. When do you feel deep peace in a hospital room with a critically ill child? 

The peace I felt in my dream….I can explain it in only word. HOME.

My heart was at home. Everything else seemed to fade. And it was Kierra and I….our hearts together, and not time or death or medical intervention or white sterile rooms could destroy that peaceful feeling of HOME. 

My words are so tiny and course to describe that epiphany. 

(Epiphany : a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience ) 

It reminds me of this verse: Romans 8:38,39 (caps mine)

And I am CONVINCED that NOTHING can ever separate us from Gods love. Neither DEATH nor LIFE, neither angels or demons, neither our fears for today, or our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from Gods love.

No power in the sky above, or in the earth below- indeed nothing in ALL creation will EVER BE ABLE to separate us from the LOVE of GOD that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

My heart was so at rest, that I could have stayed there forever and been perfectly content. That’s the feeling I got. There was stress and hard things all around me. My husband and Kobe were very alive in my heart, but they were not Kierra and holding her at that moment in my dream made my heart feel  HOME , because that is what I had been missing so much in my life and at that precise moment, that was all that mattered. My whole body relaxed and my heart rested. It was where it was meant to be. 

I didn’t know what I had been longing for….there was a hole in my heart that I didn’t realize was affecting me in so very many different ways. It literally touched every area of my life. Like a fragrance you could not see but was all around you, every moment  of every day. An ache I knew was there, but was oblivious to the completeness it brought me when it was filled. And I never wanted to leave. 

Isn’t that the longing of our hearts for God- our Father. And that aroma an example of His grace and Love  that fills every single moment of our life. At the same time,  I can’t wait to get to Heaven and have that COMPLETENESS He has promised that we don’t even really understand that we are missing. 

I think God gave me that dream out of His loving Father heart. A picture of how it will feel when we get to Heaven and are enfolded in His loving arms. I know He is a High and Holy God and we will bow at His feet in awe and worship and adoration. But I think we will also feel like we have finally come HOME. He has not promised to be our Father for nothing….I will be their Father and they will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD ALMIGHTY.

He longs for the day when He can take our hurt, broken, earth sick hearts into His arms and make them whole. We will never want to leave His arms. He delights over us. He longs to hold us even more then we long to be held. ( how is that possible?) He knows our weakness. The pain that we cannot express to anyone. Just as my Kierra had no words to tell us of her pain…we have no words adequate to speak of our own brokenness and deepest hurts and longings. But that doesn’t matter to God. His love engulfs us. His arms surround us. His heart is for us. And someday, I want to reach out, and be embraced by the One who created me. The One who alone can make each of us whole again. Who can give us what we have no idea that we are missing. The one who shows us what Home really means….for all Eternity. 

Please understand, that Kierra is not my whole life. My Stephen, and my Kobe, and my Wee One in Heaven, my family and friends here, they all matter incredibly much. They each have a place in my heart that would leave a huge hole if they were gone. But today, I can hold my Kobe, I can hug my Stephen. I can physically reach  out and feel their love. That soothes the longing within me. I think someday, though, in that HOME, we will actually see clearly…face to face and my love for them (and all my friends and family) will take on new dimensions that I have no idea even exist today. 

And the best part…..we will be HOME as in perfect peace, never leave, stay forever, heart at rest, satisfied and loved and held. Honoring, praising , worshiping and glorifying our Father and King. 

We will NEVER want to leave. 

And there will be no waking to having it all a dream. 

We will be LIVING -ACTUALLY LIVING the DREAM!!

Grief

The Mountain Cemetery 

We went to the mountains recently one Sunday afternoon. Since we moved to Great Falls last fall, the closest mountains are The Little Belt Mountains. They are known for their great ATV trails and they are certainly a gem! We had only been there once before and access to the spot we wanted to explore is unmarked, so we went in hopes of finding it and also stumbling into more serendipity. 

We found it, our surprise for the day, on the outskirts of Neihart, MT, a small town that last had a gigantic census of 51. Although it wasn’t what we imagined discovering, it was delightful and amazing and a bit heart breaking. An old cemetery interwoven across  a hillside of pine trees. 


Some of the stones were reset with newer versions and some were old original slabs of wood. The  gentle whisper of wind through the pines and the burble of water in the nearby stream spread a restful sensation over the graves. I felt the presence of God as we wandered through the scattering. I wandered how many hearts broke here. How many gallons of tears were cried, or if the folks back then were stoic and calm. 

This mother buried two of her children. They were only 5 and 6 years old and died the same day.


Another family plot had three children buried. I wondered if the two boys died of an epidemic in a hard  winter. 


Then there were these amazing plots that made you pause in reverence and respect. Somebody loved these people. Somebody grieved their death. Somebody erected a fence to mark their resting and memory here on earth.


Though overgrown with brush and weeds, love still shone through the years of weathered boards.


I wonder if this lady was a pioneer in her day. She must have been very courageous and brave.


And this stone….since I couldn’t put flowers at my little girls grave for Mother’s Day, I placed some here. Imagine my heart feeling so hugged when a friend in Pennsylvania placed some at my own daughters grave! Elsie and Kierra were born a day apart in July, but in two different centuries. Isn’t that amazing!? I mean….God just blows me away with His little love notes He drops my way!


  

 Perhaps God let them meet in heaven on that Mother’s Day Sunday. I like to think so.


So many of the graves were babies and young children. It was astonishing to me. Even teenagers and thirty year olds were not uncommon. It was a hard life they lived….these brave people that carved their mark into the history of Montana. There were two stones that seemed to sum it up for every one.


We saw the most glorious sun works on the way home and it reminds me of the song…” The hills are alive with the sound of music…” And I could nearly hear the joy of spring bursting from the green country side. 


It was a wonderful day, and heaven felt a bit closer. Kobe was totally overjoyed with his first roasted marshmallow of the season and I felt refreshed in body and spirit!


Heaven opened and shone us some love. Thank you, my Jesus! Give Kierra an extra hug for me tonight! 

Grief

A Child’s Grief

Kobe is four.

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A little over two years ago, he sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at his older sisters bedside and kissed her for the last time on earth.

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Three year olds are too young to die and two year olds are too little to understand. But spring comes. Always. And Gods grace blooms In hard places.

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The past two years have had lots of seasons in our lives. I’ve heard that when kids turn 4 years old, they seem to suddenly be little people. I wasn’t so convinced. Kobe still seemed plenty little boy to me. Not that I want him to suddenly be a little man. I just didn’t see the grownup little man slipping in like I thought I would. Until recently.

Another friend told me that four year olds start making a connection with their heart and their brain. They become more aware of what they are feeling and actually start thinking through heart issues like fear, grief, happiness, birthdays….they start connecting the dots without realizing it.

It all makes much more sense. One of Kobe’s favorite sentences right now…
“So Mom,” settling into a chair beside me, face all serious and pleasant,”what was your favorite part of this day?”
He even asked the gentleman that we do lawn care for ­čÖé

But the other day he was really struggling. Nothing was going right for him. I was cleaning up his grand jumble of toys and treasures in his room and finding items that reminded us of Kierra. He was having meltdowns over stuff that he never even notices usually. Finally I took him to the kitchen and asked him what was wrong.

He literally was too overwhelmed to talk. He just shook his little shoulders in frustration and spread his hands out and buried his face in his hands. ” I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I…I…I…”exasperated sigh and more burrowing into hands.

I got out his big pad of paper and grabbed a pen. “Here,” I said, setting him on my lap. ” draw me a picture of your heart.” Then I waited a bit while he got his bearings. He drew hard and quickly.

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“There are tears in my heart.” He said.
“Why are there tears?”
” Because I miss God.”
So he drew a person with wings that could fly up and

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meet God.

After we talked some more I realized he also missed Kierra. He was upset that she got to be in Heaven and he wasn’t. He drew arms on his heart to reach up to heaven. Then he wrote this. ( with a bit of help with spelling:)

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We took it over to the window and held it toward the sky and asked God to let Kierra see it. Kobe was still not all sunshine but it seemed to help him to communicate what he was feeling.

I  am amazed at how much he misses Kierra right now. Its been over two years and somehow in my naive adult brain I thought he might be forgetting her. I actually feared he would.

But the heart never forgets. A mommy and daddy heart never forget and neither does a child’s.

I thank God for our beautiful complex brain. For our hearts that never forget.

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He wanted a picture of himself holding his ‘Bible’.
Oh! And one last funny four year old moment….
I was trying to teach him about personal space with ‘staying in your own bubble’. When we ride three in the front of our old GMC it can get a bit elbowy.
“But mom, ” he explained, ” I popped my bubble.”

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Grief

When You Feel Blindsided

It isn’t ‘just life.’

  
It isn’t ‘just the way things go sometimes’. It isn’t ‘just heartbreaking’. It isn’t ‘just this broken world’. 

Well, honestly, it IS all those things, but not JUST those things! It’s so very much more! Take a look at Calvery.

All that heartbreak, all that pain, all those aching questions. It wasn’t a surprise to Jesus that He would die. It didn’t take Him off guard when wicked men fulfilled prophecy and whipped Him and took His clothing and killed Him. It was horribly heartbreakingly sad.

 But life was not out of control. I’m sure it seemed like it was to Jesus’ mother. I’m sure she wanted to stop time and rescue Him from the worst nightmare she was forced to watch unfold.

She couldn’t stop it. She couldn’t take the suffering or the weight of the world away from Him. Did she understand that she was the one being rescued while her entire heart was breaking?

He saved others by NOT saving Himself. He brought hope by submitting to the worst pain and bearing the sins of the world. 

Recently, I have been reading Next Door Saviour by Max Lucado. His chapter on Jesus’ death brings out this glorious truth in much more detail. The bad things that happened to Jesus? They didn’t blindside Him. The wicked men that hurt Him with words and spikes and spears? Even  their wickedness was used to fulfill prophecy. 

God was still in control, when the entire world seemed to be spinning out of control. It didn’t make any more sense to the disciples then our own tails pins in life do to us. Hurt sends us reeling. Terrists rip apart families and horrendous things happen every day in this broken world. We are touched by the ooze of sadness and hurt and grief. It colors our minds and messes deeply with our emotions. 

  
It makes us gaze into the face of death and know we are helpless against it. My friend, your pain is not too much for Jesus! 

Just remember  that glorious day, three days later, when the tomb ripped open. When the angel appeared. When the Jesus who had cried, “It is finished,” spoke again.

Those life giving words,

 ” Greetings.” ( it’s root word means Joy! And hints at Peace)

 “Go.  And tell my brothers. ” 

I think He wants us to know, just as He wanted them to know…..

There was LIFE!

There was a whole world of hope about to open before their eyes. There was new life, new perspective, healing. There was a plan. The sadness would not win.

  
(Compiments of Michelle Beachy photography.)

It gives me hope. I do not understand why there is pain and death and suffering. But I know one thing…..it doesn’t blindside my Father. And as long as He’s not blindsided, He’s still in control. He is Always good. Always. He cannot change that ALWAYS GOOD. Ever. 

I praise God with Paul, ” But thank God! He gives us victory over….death through our Lord Jesus Christ!  So my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable! …..for you know that nothing you do for The Lord is ever useless!  (1Cor. 15) 

Wading through pain, holding a dying hand, listening to a heart break, loving when life doesn’t make sense, it is not useless!!

“I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born,” says The Lord.” Isaiah 66:9

Hold onto hope, my friend! Embrace that resurrection Son in your heart.

Come alive. Breathe in deep and slow. Dare to embrace your pain and feel the warmth of His promise. 

  

Grief

Heaven’s Light

So when your wonderful friend from nearly 3,000 miles away texts you on the day of your daughter’s second anniversary in Heaven and asks if you would like to Face time at her grave, how can you say No!? 

I waited expectantly for that call and sure enough, just like she promised, her beautiful face popped up on my screen and there she stood in the middle of a huge expanse of dazzling white….in front of a pink stoned grave. 

  
She had brought pink roses and her kindness to this frozen bit of landscape in Pennsylvannia and it did my heart good to see the unbroken beauty, the teddy tucked in, and the little rocks that Kobe painted for his sister.

My heart had been in all kinds of places over the last week. Anger at God for ‘robbing ‘ me of so much. For taking my husband’s little girl and my Kobe’s sister. I had told Him plenty. About how I felt and how unfair it seemed and how I didn’t know what He expected me to do with such strong emotions. Since then, I found the most wonderful little book (on the very anniversary of her second year in Heaven!)full of verses and lovely photos that seemed to clinch in my mind again that we are human and God is God and He is always good and He never robs us. We might not understand, but that doesn’t define who He is or how much He loves us and weeps with us and gives us amazing miracles. I’ve had long talks with Him and long talks with my husband and coffee with my friend, and prayers of family and I feel like I can say,”You’re  a good good Father.” Again. 

Now back to this day. We Facetimed and Kobe stuck his head in front of me and asked all kinds of four year old questions and made four year old comments and had Sadie and I both laughing. The snow was all gorgeous and pure looking, and suddenly without warning, like a glorious dawning, my friends face was haloed in light. No, this does not do justice to the beauty. It was simply breathtaking. But this proves it was real ­čÖé

  
We were both so amazed we could scarcely speak. The Heaven’s seemed to open and illuminate everything into a sparkling dazzle that took my breath away through the screen. It felt like if I started walking, I could walk straight into the Light and Warmth of that golden path and straight Into Glory.

  
And somehow, the moon above it was even touched with it’s brilliance. It felt like a hug from Kierra. Like she had asked God to show us a tiny bit of what she is experiencing right now. That God wanted me to know I am loved and cared about beyond my wildest dreams. Because it had been overcast and the sun was nearly setting and He wanted me to know He had amazing plans for us. 

Later, I got a card from Sadie and she wrote that her prayer for me on that very day was that I would see a glimpse of the beauty of Heaven where Kierra is. Your prayer came true, my girl! Thanks for obeying that nudge from God to Face Time me at that particular time and for allowing God to show us both His Unfailing Love!

Then I saw it! As if that glorious light had not been enough….God gave us this yet too….

  A cross. 

On my sweet daughter’s grave. I was so amazed and overwhelmed, I couldn’t weep. I just asked Sadie to show me the grave again and we alternated between that glorious sun and that glowing grave. 

  
And the shadow of the cross. 

It wasn’t until later that I cried. And thanked God and a dawning crept over my heart. Without the Sun there would be no light. Without the obstacles in life, there would be no shadows. And without the shadows, there would be no Cross. 

I am in tears now, just thinking about it. My God gave His Son for me….so I could live. He loaned us our daughter for three and a half short years. We gave her back to Him. He knows the pain of watching a child die. He knows the cost. He knows His Son is the only light that illuminates our darkness and finds us. I bow in worship. In the shadow of the very Cross where “Love Ran Red” as Chris Tomlin sings….

//There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies

There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide

Where all the love I’ve ever found comes like a flood

Comes flowing down.//

I felt emotion in my deepest of hearts just like he writes in the chorus…

// here my hope is found

 Here on holy ground

Here I bow down….

I owe all to you….Jesus!//

  
This morning, the hard didn’t seem so hard. Because just before I fully woke up, I dreamed for a few short moments that I was in ICU, holding Kierra on my lap, and we were about to be discharged. She was so happy about going HOME. A nurse walked in the door and she turned her face toward the nurse and giggled. The she gave a clear, thrilled, happy laugh. It still echos in my mind. I think that’s the laugh she is using in Heaven today. Pure blissful delight. She laughed. I can’t wait to hear it in Heaven and to see her smile break across her face and into my heart with it’s own glorious dawning…..

Because of the Cross!