To Mars and the Stars

Mornings are different now.  I wake to the reality of living our lives without you.  Your parents and your sisters fill my thoughts.  I try to go about the motions of the day as I wrestle with the disbelief of it all.  As I try to put together the right words it causes me to think of your precious little face as a baby and the beautiful young woman you had grown to be.  My mind replays your dreams of the future and I weep again and again at the loss of you.

Oh Stacia, how I’ve longed to write something that would honor you.  Words that would capture even a small glimpse of what you mean to me.  What you mean to all of us.

My pen that has long helped me process and express my feelings in a way my voice never could now betrays me.  My pen is not equipped to tell of this kind of pain.  There is not enough ink in the world to convey the depth of our sorrow or the despair I feel when I look into your mama’s eyes or watch your dad walking through his grief.  Words can’t help me take your sisters hurt away or bring you back.

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How do I begin to explain the numbness that fell on me as your Uncle Jeff took the call and whispered  words I never thought I would hear and he never thought he would have to say.  A sentence that seemed……impossible.  So final.  A sentence I cannot repeat even now.

I had held you in my arms just a few short hours before.

It just couldn’t be.

We had all talked about your new school year..  Your change of career plans.  We had no doubt we would see them come to pass.  These dreams, such a perfect fit for you.  We chatted about your job and Camp Leo.  Taylor kept telling you how much she loved you and how unbelievable your American Eagle discount was.  She asked how many babies you wanted to have someday and you laughed at me a little when I asked if Diabetic people could get gestational diabetes. You patiently tried to explain sorority relationships to your Uncle again and as you told him about “Bigs” and “Littles” he jokingly asked if there were any “Middles”.

We were casual when we talked about your drive back to school and reminisced about how you had always loved to drive long distances.  It must have been the cowgirl in you that loved the open road.

Oh love, had I known what the next hours would bring I would have never let you go.  I would have hugged you in that parking lot until the sun came up. I would have told you to quit your job and stay home. I would have driven you safely back to your family and kissed you one more time. I would have sent you on your way to follow your plans and walk into your future.  If only I had known.

But that wasn’t to be…..

I have struggled with hope in recent days.  I have resisted the peace and comfort I know  is found in my Lord.  Sometimes, for no other reason than my thoughts are so scattered.  Other times for simply not wanting to be comforted.  Preferring the walls of my pain over the steady wave of Jesus’ love that promises to refresh and strengthen me.  How could I want to be comforted when your mama won’t hold you again and your daddy has lost one of his precious girls?  How can I be filled by the presence of my Savior when my nieces cry over the loss of their sister.

Is the love of my God big enough for this?  Can His love quiet this raw torrent of pain?

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Then like a gift, I remember your smile.  So bright. So true.  So ready to love and be loved in return.  I think of a little girl.  So tiny and brave when Diabetes came crashing into your life.  Your world soon turned upside down by needles, blood sugars and a pancreas that had let you down.

My love and admiration for your family grew even stronger in those days as I watched the way you took care of each other.  Courageous and real in the face of every challenge.  It wasn’t easy but you and your family are knitted tightly together and you made it through.  You kept walking it out until you became a inspiration and a role model for other kids facing the same giant.

I flash forward to a table at Denny’s one night.  You as a young teenage girl.  Reminding your big sister, cousin and your Uncle and I that if “God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.”  We didn’t need to keep talking.  You had said it all.

The fog now has begun to lift and the unwavering love of His promises has begun to make me new again as I remember that my hope is anchored securely and without fail in the love of our Savior.  His Comfort finds me as I read His words and I am relieved that I don’t have to try to make the right words flow from my pen because He has already given us all the truth we need.

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He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.  Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit. Psalm 147:3

Grief doesn’t come in pretty packages or follow anyone’s timeline.  Our lives are forever changed and our hearts will never forget.  We will walk out the rest of our days wishing you were with us to share in the moments.   We will hold your parents close and love on your sisters at every opportunity because we know that their way is longer and steeper than ours and because they are so very dear to us.

Through it all I will trust in His great promise that His love is in fact big enough to hold the chasm within all of our hearts.

“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19

As the leaves change into their falling colors and the morning air turns crisp I am reminded that time doesn’t stop to respect our loss.  I pray that as the hours march on we would all continue to hold each other a little tighter, sincerely light up when we see each others faces, that we would linger a little while longer and truly listen to each others hearts.

I pray that we would continue to hope.

Because that’s what you taught us sweet girl and we are forever grateful.

We Love you Beautiful One…

To Mars and the Stars,

Aunt Deon

 

 

 

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Precious Cargo

I decided to write this blog because I believe the Lord has led me to tell people who He is and to share what He has done in my life.  I picture it unfolding as a mixture of current day events as well as a fair share of walking down paths worn with time.

To talk about the past in such a public forum is not something I take lightly as there are many people involved.  People I love.  My prayer is that God would give me the courage to share what may help someone and the wisdom to know what is beneficial and for His glory……

“God bless my precious cargo”

She prayed this over us in the car every morning on the way to Vacation Bible School.  This little lady with the thick accent and wispy hair.  Her house was kitty-corner across the street from ours but it seemed a world away.  The lovely flowers and abundant garden was a stark contrast from our house that backed up to the pond.  Ours was a place  where the only roots taking hold were ones of addiction, broken promises and loss.

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My mom loved her flowers and I am so grateful she was able to plant and tend later in her life but in this season the blooms weren’t a joy she could grasp.  Her struggle with alcohol and her grief over the loss of her child was stealing deeply from her.

It took me by surprise when she allowed me to go with the lively neighbor as she often had a great dislike and mistrust of woman.  I didn’t understand why this lady would want to take me with her, but she did, and off we went.  I don’t remember the conversation or the faces of the other children in the car but I remember her daily prayer and the way she seemed to light up when she spoke it.

“Lord Jesus, bless my precious cargo……”  “In Jesus name……” 

I thought she must be talking to the others, but something in her eyes told me I was included in her request.

During camp, I remember being by myself when we went out to play.  I was far too shy to interact with the other kids so I wandered around in the sunshine trying to look busy and invisible as I picked up a rock here and there.

At the end of the week we all sat in a circle as awards were passed around. A smiling adult gave one to me.  It was beautiful.  Hand drawn with those oil pastels that were always the envy in art class.  The ones that created the richest colors but smeared everywhere if you were careless with your sleeves. The words are long forgotten but I remember the curly letters that made me feel like someone had seen me.

Jesus made Himself know to me that week and many other times during the hidden years of my childhood.  Years that would have been lacking in God if not for His constant pursuit of my heart.

The door to door salesman with the books of Bible Stories.  I pleaded and whined loudly enough that my mom broke down and bought the book with the mustard yellow cover and the deep red letters.  The illustrations are still kept in my minds eye.

The time in my room when the light fell hazy through the dusty window and I sat on my bed; frightened and alone.  A moment in time when my heart cried out for an unknown need and my Jesus came.  It brings tears to me eyes even as I write this because I can still feel His presence in that moment.  His love and His peace; real and true, leaving no room for the fear that threatened to overcome.

Days, months and years went by and the chains of chaos, violence and alcohol wrapped more tightly around my biological parents.  My life began to grow heavy with links from the same chains.  I was too detached to notice or care and slowly they began to take hold.

My love of God was true but mixed with false teachings and I began to trade the Jesus I loved for lies.  If He was real like I believed maybe He had died.  Maybe I was wrong and He wasn’t real at all.

Thankfully, I may have been confused but my Lord is a God of truth.

He is God who saves

……..and save me He did.

Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death. – Psalm 68:20 NIV

He spoke His truth through strangers and people known to me.  Every where I turned there He was.  My Redeemer didn’t wait for me to clean up my act. He reached right into my mess; right into my darkness and carried me out.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. – Isaiah 43:1-3 ESV

More time passed, and I found myself telling my story to a large group of women at a women’s retreat.  When we returned to town I decided to stop by and see the lady who took me to VBS all those years ago.  As I walked up to her door I began to shake.  The Jesus sticker on her screen door gave me hope that she would welcome this unexpected visit.

Sure enough she ushered me in and listened to this now adult telling the story of all God had done.  She told me about the group of kids they had called to the front and prayed over that very morning.  Asking the Lord to watch over and guide their lives, and now here I was.  Oh, the sweet timing of our Savior.

She told me how the Lord had told her she was to be a conduit.  Since English is not her first language she had to look up its meaning.  She learned that it is an channel through which something is conveyed.  A means by which something is transmitted.  She was to be willing.  His love was to be shared with others.

I cried on her couch that day.  She wrapped a blanket around me.  Once again sharing the love of God with a little girl barely known to her once who had grown to be a woman she didn’t know at all.

There she was again.

A conduit for Jesus love.

~ Deon

To my surprise 

Today was one of those, don’t blink kind of days. The kind where one thing leads to the next and before you know it, it’s dinner time and you aren’t sure how you got there. The type of day where you’re left wondering where the beauty is in it all.

That’s when I found it. 

In 90 minutes of time that came to me as an unexpected gift.

I finished at work earlier than usual which allowed me to come home before we would be back in the car and headed off again.

My first desire was to take the opportunity to do nothing. To my dismay, I soon remembered my outside plants that often have to go without a drink on Thursdays. I hustled out to water as many as I could in the time given me.

While I love to spend time in the yard it felt like a chore tonight and all I could see was the dust, the bald spots where the grass was just a memory and the weeds that I had neglected in the rush of my week.

I had eyes focused on the ugly. Eyes focused through the dim lenses of complaint.

As water began to pool around the hydrangea my heart began to soften. The delicate cream flowers are beginning to give way to their late summer wardrobe change. I caught the slightest blush of pink as the stress of the day began to fall away.

The next thing I knew I was watching water bead up on the hosta leaves like merry little gems that hopped and skipped to the center of the plant and I began to imagine what a giant this new garden beauty would be the next time spring comes around.

I grinned as I went from plant to plant. Gratitude replaced weariness as I found hidden strawberries ripe and ready under tattered leaves. Dahlia blooms tilted their heads back as if to laugh with the sun as I made my way among them; snapping pictures as I went.

The weeds are abundant. The grass is long dead. This is not a scene from any respectable gardening magazine, yet the beauty and the joy overcame me as I began to recognize the hand of my Lord in it all.

Not only in the color and graceful beauty of His creation but in the tender keeping of my heart.

As I write this tonight I found my way to Psalm 107:8-9

Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man! For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.

There, in the hurry and routine of my day, He quietly called me to be aware of His presence, filled by His Spirit and tended by His mercies.

There among the weeds I found the scattered blooms of hope.

~ Deon

He remains faithful

Written March 14, 2016

I’m so thankful to have time to spend with Jesus today.  Due to circumstances in our life I have been praying without ceasing lately.  Truly battling for the ones I love in prayer.

However, as the Lord has been doing great things in these situations, I have done what I so often do when things start looking up.  I’ve relaxed. Stopped praying.  Stepped out of His word for a few days.

Surely God would understand if I just want to watch television, eat ice cream and dare I mention the mountain of Girl Scout cookies that have found their way into my pantry.  Sweet little bite sized morsels of goodness.  Why wouldn’t I kick back and indulge?  Haven’t I earned it?

After all, I have been so faithful lately in my study time and prayer and on top of that I have gotten so much accomplished at home.  It makes perfect sense that I would want to look at Instagram a little longer.  What will it hurt if during my time of Bible reading I choose to instead pick up my phone to play one more game?  Let me tell you, those bubbles need to be popped and I feel like just the person to do it.

Never mind that my husband has a very important meeting today that will greatly impact him and our girl is going to job shadow for her potential new employers.  Then there’s our son and his sweet family who just packed up and moved into a new place with our daughter in law being 8 full months pregnant and their three little ones having to move from the only home they remember.  What about the young man we know who is waiting in obedience to hear from the Lord and is walking out his faith in a brand new way.  Or have I mentioned the fact that my husband was able to walk and work around the house this weekend when his disease has been stealing more and more of his strength and hope in recent days.

It seems silly as I write this, that I would have chosen counterfeit pleasures over prayer.  That mindless activities would seem more appropriate than praise for the One who is moving mountains on our behalf.

Now before I lose you, let me assure you that this is not about self condemnation, or earning our way into God’s good graces.  Neither is it an endorsement to stop praying and pursuing Jesus when the whim strikes us out of the knowledge that He will be continuing to work in our lives even when we aren’t seeking Him with our whole hearts.

Instead,  I want to praise Jesus for something new He is showing me.  As I sat with Him today, I was tempted to focus on what I can see as failure.  An opening for the enemy to whisper to  me all the ways I disappoint, all the ways I fall short.  I toyed with the notion that I couldn’t dare ask Him to meet with me this morning when I had chosen by an act of my will to not be with Him.

To my joy and surprise my Jesus didn’t accuse me of letting Him down at all.  He reminded me of how much He loves me.  Rather than condemnation, He showed me that when I am unfaithful He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13 ESV).  I was tempted to not pray because I am not worthy of Him, yet He gently led me forward.  I asked His forgiveness for not paying much attention to Him the last few days and He invited me to rest in the fact that He does forgive me.  That He in fact died for my forgiveness and the power of His shed blood on the cross saves me and makes me new every day.  He then began to reveal to me all the mighty ways He is actively working in my prayers.

So today I praise Him for a new victory.  I thank Him for being faithful in the lives of the people I’m praying for because each one is precious to Him.  I’m grateful that He doesn’t call me to prayer by guilt but rather by His great love and my desire to be in His presence.  I am humbled by His goodness and His tender care for my wavering heart.

My hope is that this would serve as an encouragement the next time the accuser would try to keep you from Jesus based on your own ~ did or did nots.  Remember my friend, we are able to come boldly before the throne of grace because our Jesus has made the way for us.  He is the only one worthy.  The ONLY one worthy.

As the rain pours outside my window it feels like the washing away of the lies to make room for His truth.  It feels like a call to be made new and to start fresh.

It feels like love.

~ Deon