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suffering

God is there in suffering.

Maybe more evident than anywhere else.  Dare I say it? He is not just the God of glimmering rainbows and dew covered leaves or sweet soft little newborn babies.  He shouts his glory through those things.  He proclaims himself as the creator of all.

Yet he whispers in our suffering. Sometimes it is the still small voice that is more persistent and convincing than a shout. When we are weak and crumbling on the floor and cannot go on, it is that gentle whisper. “I am here.”

When I cannot get out of bed because the nausea of grief is too great, and all I can do it wrap myself in blankets, the still small voice says, “the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

“God,” I cry, “I cannot go on.  I cannot function. The weight is too great. The pain is too great.”

He says,

“we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 3:3-5

Being a Christ follower means embracing struggle.  Yet we have this promise:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” Isaiah 43:2

Is this life supposed to be easy?

No.

It is through suffering that we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

I see him, more than ever through my suffering.  Though my human mind and body is beaten down my soul, my spirit is willing. I will conquer.  I will glorify HIM through this.

psalm23

struggle

The struggle is real.

I am personally going through the struggle of a lifetime, the struggle of all struggles, the struggle of a million heartaches.

It is the plague of the human race.  Every single one of us is going through it in one way or another, in some shape or form. To each of us our struggles seem large and looming and sometimes unconquerable.  It does not matter what they are.  Why do we try to hide them? Why do we try to walk around acting like we are fine? We are not fine. No one is fine.

We can’t we be authentic? We do we have to be so perfect? That in and of itself is wrong, so very wrong. To pretend we are someone we are not.  What is to gain by acting like we have it all together? Do people like us more, or do they like us less? Does it matter what ANYONE thinks? When we stand before God at the end of our life is he going to ask us, “well, how many people like you? Were you popular? Sorry, only those with a high approval rating get into heaven.”

So show weakness shows humanity and authenticity and humility.  I am baring my soul before thousands because I have lost that shield of self-consciousness.  When my son was ripped away from me so were so many other things.

Imagine a world where we are all authentic.  We all shared our struggles and felt united in them.  Imagine…just imagine…if we. did. not. care. what. others. thought.

Whoa.

Share a struggle with someone today.  Open yourself up. Allow yourself to be human, imperfect, yet a beloved child of God. Allow someone else in and let them see your weakness.  In my “previous life” i felt like I was the only one who didn’t have it all together.  The only one struggling, and struggling hard.

GOD LOVES YOU KNOW MATTER WHAT. Repeat that to yourself ten times.  A million times.  As many times as it takes.

I have been reading Psalm 25, suggested to me by another incredible friend.

The psalms are beautiful. Breathtaking.

Psalm 25:16-21

Turn to me and be gracious to me,

for I am lonely and afflicted.

Relieve the troubles of my my heart

and free me from anguish.

Look on my affliction and my distress

and take away all my sins.

See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me!

Guard my life and rescue me;

do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.

My integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you.

can’t

There is something I don’t know how to do.  No one can help me do it.  It goes against the grain of everything I know.

How to accept.  That he is really gone.

How does a mother ever accept that her child that she raised and loved and felt his warm skin is no longer? It is incomprehensible.

I watched him learn to walk and throw and ball, ride a bike and play baseball, lay in the warm summer sand, play with his friends, catch frogs and minnows and crawdads….I can’t keep going.  There are too many things.

I have terrible gripping anxiety, it makes me physically ill.- it’s telling me to accept this and all my rational thought says I have to.

But I can’t.

It can’t be.

I sat in a meeting with principals and administrators and friends planning a basketball game in Lucas’ honor.  We talked logistics, dates, numbers, etc. etc. and I just sat there numb.

Do you realize you are talking about my little boy? He should have been walking those halls when I walked in the building. He had life and warmth and blood pumping through his veins less than a month ago.  He should have come home to me that day and gave me a hug and said “how are you momma?”

It’s not just unfair is wrong and cruel and malevolent. Death is not the way God wants things.

We can NOT accept so many things- war, cruelty, abuse, hunger, poverty, violence…

But somehow I have to accept my beautiful boy is gone.

I can’t.

healing

I am blown away.

I am writing at night for the first or second time, usually it is in the morning when I am more melancholy.  Right now I am filled with the Holy Spirit and I am bursting.  Just bursting.

I think I just heard the most important message of my life.  Emerson Eggerichs spoke at a women’s event at Ada Bible.  If you have never heard of him he is an internationally known speaker on marriage among other things.  Who happens to reside right here in Grand Rapids.

How God orchestrated THIS speaker and THIS speech at THIS time- I have no words.  Add it to the list, which is a mile long, of God’s hand in my life directly and undeniably.

His message was called the Wounded Healer.

Wounded.

Healer.

Right now I am wounded beyond compare, bruised, damaged, bleeding, I can barely take a breathe without the stab of “my son is gone and he’s never coming back. My son is gone and he’s never coming back.  He’s in a cold box in the ground and he’s never coming back.”

I did not honestly think I was going to go on to ever enjoy life again.  Only struggle.  Only heartache.  Only that unfillable hole.  I did not think I could go on because the hurt was TOO BAD.  JUST TOO HARD.  TOO INCOMPREHENSIBLE. I would never be able to accept it, much less heal, much less want to live.

I am afraid of even trying to paraphrase Emerson’s message.  The most powerful part to me was when he told of a professor at Wheaton college who had lost his wife and daughter in a car accident. He lost everything and had gone on to be the most Holy, compassionate, Christ-filled, humble healer Emerson had ever known.

When there’s devastation there is always the why.  Why God, Why would you take my son. Why when he’s just begun to experience life.  Why when he was such a beautiful person and had such potential.  Why would you give me such indescribable hurt.

There is only silence.  Yet we know the very nature of God and he loves us THAT MUCH. We know that if we were the only person on earth Jesus would still have died for us. There is no greater love.  He paid for our sins.  He wiped the slate clean. The God of the universe loves us.

So I know I am wounded- I am left with Healer.  I know that when January 16 happened I felt like my life was stripped away and nothing else mattered.  Nothing else mattered but Jesus.  Jesus and the hurting world that is so, so, very wrong. a confused world that is selfish and fake, where no one really knows who they are and what they are doing here.  How can I heal when I am so broken? What can I do being one little tiny person in a great vast landscape of evil?  All I know, all I really need to know is I can be used.  Somewhere and somehow.  Instead of bitterness I choose joy.  I choose healing.

I Peter 2:24

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

Please, I beg of you to watch this Emerson Eggerichs “Wounded Healer” on adabible.org/women

rock

Since 5:30 am this song has played in my head.

“On Christ the Solid Rock I stand

All other ground is sinking sand

All other ground is sinking sand

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”

Hope.  I still have hope right? Yes. Yes I do.  Somewhere in the swirling anxious shaking agony I have hope. I don’t think I can bear this.  It can’t be true.  It can’t be true.  I am drifting in a sea of agony and torture, wanting to submerge myself and feel nothing.

“On Christ the solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.”

I lay on the solid rock.  It is smooth and unyielding.  I am not drifting.  I have a rock.  It feels silky and yet impenetrable. The coolness feels good on my face. I cannot sink.

  1. When darkness veils His lovely face,
    I rest on His unchanging grace;
    In every high and stormy gale,
    My anchor holds within the veil.
  2. His oath, His covenant, His blood
    Support me in the whelming flood;
    When all around my soul gives way,
    He then is all my hope and stay.
  3. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
    Oh, may I then in Him be found;
    Dressed in His righteousness alone,
    Faultless to stand before the throne.

I think these are some of the most beautiful words ever written.  When I feel I cannot be comforted, when I feel I cannot endure this pain, I will lay on the rock.  When there is too much darkness I am grasping for Jesus I will rest on his grace.

Grace: the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in salvation of sinners and bestowal of blessings.  His grace is my anchor.

When all around my soul gives way, He is then all my hope and stay.

On Christ the solid rock I stand.  Or if I cannot stand.  I will lay on it and know that there is a foundation under me. I will not sink.

rocks

infinity

In the early morning hours before I finally climb out of my cozy cocoon is when my mind really races.  Today it was in so many places, so many painful places, and yet glorious places as well.

I started thinking about the accident.  For the 40,000th time.  I feel nausea.  I wonder strange thoughts like “what did they write on his attendance record at school?”

I try to distract myself with thinking about how big God is.  My pain feels so big its crushing me.  I pray, “God in your infinite greatness take this pain away.”

How big is God? God cannot be measured.  He does not fit in a category.  There is no number or scale that can begin to quantify the God of the universe.  Yet he knows every hair on my head.  He knows every tear that falls from my face. As I ponder an infinite all creating God, I think of nature.

“I have lived pain and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on summer humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives.”  -Ann Roskamp

Lucas loved nature. To love nature is to love God. That is why Goodwillie was his happy place. This quote by John Ruskin could be his mantra:

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”

God is BIG. God is GREAT. God hand created the tiniest flowers to the mighty oak trees. My pain though very real and visceral to me pales in comparison to WHAT GOD IS.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”

Isaiah 40:28

yosemite

tears

I wake up and my eyes are wet.  I have been dreaming of him, for the first time since the accident.  I don’t remember much about the dream except he was smiling.  Of course he was smiling.  This is the first time I have woken up crying.

Oh the sorrow, it envelopes me. The pain soaks into my bones.  That constant, constant, ache of something that will never be again.

I have been able to picture his face again with out the stabbing pain, just a gentle ache.  His beautiful face.  So strong.  I would touch his cheek sometimes.  I remember how his skin felt.  He had blonde hairs on his chin he would shave every once in awhile.  I would tease him about it, look how long your chin hairs are! We would laugh about it.  I would tell him how handsome he was and he would say “no way Mom”, he would laugh, “I’m a 5.” He always hated how his eyes weren’t perfect and he had a little acne and his hair was rarely how he wanted it.

He was gorgeous. Just gorgeous.

From his hard earned biceps to his quick running feet he was a masterpiece. His long fingers could pick up any instrument easily, shoot a bow and arrow like an expert, write an articulate essay.  They would rub my back and change his brothers diaper.  He would shoot his BB gun and hit a squirrel from like, a bajillion feet. Throw a baseball at over 80 mph.

This was two years ago. I swear he owns shirts.

shooting

This was him on December 30. Just before his 15th birthday.

lifting

His brain, oh his brain.  He was so brilliant.  He could beat the pants off anyone in trivia.  He had such perserverence after his infection left him with some little issues that became more and more apparent as the work got harder.  Some things came so easily to him.  Other things that should have come easily did not.  I would ask him about a grade and he would cry.  I studied so hard Mom, he would say.  He was that passionate about his grades.  His was going be a doctor.  He just couldn’t always keep it all together.

In my dream he was smiling. If I could only see that smile one more time.

Feel his face one more time. Feel his arms around me one more time.

I wish, for one minute that someone else could feel THIS inescapable pain. THIS ever present agony. THIS endless torture.

I know the answer before I ask it.

Isaiah 53:3 “He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”

Jesus weeps with me.  He knows my pain.  He will wipe every tear from my eyes.

tears

stripped

Why didn’t I see God before?

I thought I did. Yet i didn’t.  I wasn’t really opening my eyes to him.  How life could have been different had I opened my eyes.  I didn’t think I really NEEDED him.

I woke up this morning with a sense of peace.  I think I accepted for the first time that Lucas wasn’t coming back.  Now to type that it hurts so much but when I first woke up I God saying, “I have him now.  I’m sorry he can’t be with you.  He is standing in the sun with me. My loving arms are wrapped around him.”

I just wonder why I didn’t see God before. Hear him speaking to me.

Now he is everywhere, in everything,  I also had a picture in my mind when I woke up of a beautiful, colorful, intricate mural that represents God.  I had sunglasses on before.  I wasn’t really seeing all of the mural, in its brightest colors.  What could I have seen if I had really looked before, if I had taken the sunglasses off? I know he was there before.  I know he is here now. I know he will be tomorrow.

A beautiful mural is the way I think about seeing God right in front of me when I wasn’t really looking.  However his hand has been in every. single. thing. since January 16.  The deluge of support.  My friends that surrounded me and we bonded like superglue.  They were there, just waiting, for God’s whisper to go into action. God’s hands and feet have been scrubbing my floors and toilets. Reading to my kids. Making me the most scrumptious meals imaginable.  The way my family has been my stronghold. There to keep me away from the edge. The way certain people are always in the right place at the right time.

The stories that have pouring in about my son teaching me so much I didn’t even know.  I knew how much I loved him before, I just had no idea how many lives he had touched.  I do feel like I lost I bright shining star, but that light will not go out.  We won’t be able to see him but his light will lead our way.  I always thought Lucas was too good for this world.

I was right.

I cry out to God, why didn’t I see you before? Truly see you? It took being stripped bare. Experiencing a loss so colossal everything else just fell away.  I felt there was nothing left of me. Nothing but bare broken skeleton.  What’s to live for when you lose your firstborn son? Your treasure? Your golden boy? Your beautiful baby…?

Now I have nothing to live for but Jesus.

crucified

gift

I am so glad that God (and I think Lucas ) are propelling me forward to write.  It is so therapeutic for me.  I wake up thinking of something and immediately I feel like I must type it out, it’s bursting out of me.

Lucas was such a gift.  Such a blessing to everyone.  I knew it from when he was little and his kindergarten teacher described him as kind. So kind. Then his first grade teacher fell like love with him (I know because she’s my friend) and saw things in him maybe I didn’t recognize yet.  He was different.  She told me “he’s going to be homecoming king someday.” That’s the kind of thing a mother never forgets.

Then he went through a terrible illness where we nearly lost him.  He came out with a big piece of skull missing.  He never complained.  He didn’t complain when he had to stop snowboarding and ice skating and sledding.  He couldn’t play baseball or basketball or really anything.  He could bowl. So he bowled.  He was awesome at it.

He was just happy to be alive.  Happy to be at Goodwillie where he could enjoy nature to its fullest.  Immersed in trail guiding, leaf collecting, canoe building, drawing with Woody, eating outside in the snow. He loved everything they did there.  That he made it into Goodwillie is purely amazing- he simply soaked it up.  During a time in his life where he could have been upset and angry he was simply full of joy.

I’m not going to do his entire life bio here.  Mostly because I have a two year old next to me who needs a diaper change.  All his life I knew he was a gift.

In the book Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff he describes not knowing how much he loved his son until he was gone. I knew how much I loved Lucas.  I knew with every cell in my being what I had.  Something one in a million.  One in a hundred million.  A parent could not POSSIBLY love a child more.

Does that make it harder that he is gone? I want to say yes but it is also no.  Every parent that loses a child has a huge hole in their heart.  It is terribly horribly painful.  Remembering Lucas as a physical person right now is like putting my hand in a fire.  Picturing in my head him holding his baby brother or at the baseball mound or walking in the door from school – just cut my arm off instead.  I can type about it but I don’t really see it in my head.

Loss is loss.  However I am just so grateful.  That God gave him to me for a little while.  That he could make an impact on so many people.  That God blessed me with this child that I always knew was too good for this earth.  The person that he was is the person that will be remembered.  His legacy will make an impact on this earth if I have to stand on the street corner handing out LIVE LIKE LUCAS bracelets.

He was too beautiful just to be just lost.

gift2