Thursday, May 30, 2013

Moving On

A little over two weeks later, she's been gone now from this world.  Life keeps moving on.  The world keeps turning.  Bills keep coming in.  My children still need babysitters, so we call new ones. We still need to eat, sleep, exercise--follow God.

Life keeps moving on.

And yet, when you least expect it, the sadness will creep into the crevices of the healing wound and make it sting just a bit.  I've rocked my daughter to sleep every night since Miss Savannah's funeral.  Every night her tired, worn out little mind cries for the friend she lost in that girl.  And I rock her gently, reminding her she's in a better place, reminding her that one day, if Jesus lives in our hearts that we will see her again.  Every night.  Then she will sigh and sniffle and close her tired eyes only to wake to another full day tomorrow.

Life keeps moving on.

And then I make time to meet with the girl's precious mother, and the healing wound cracks a bit deeper, only oozing not bleeding.  And we share stories and cry shared tears of remembrance and we try to offer each other comfort in our knowing of her.  We offer encouragement in the days to come.  We comfort each other and hug the hurt away for another day and leave lunch feeling lighter and less burdened and slightly more healed than before.

And life keeps moving on.

And that's the truth.  The world will not stop for one girl, one boy, one man, one woman here on earth. That's not as God intended.  Life will continue to move, and for the sake of our fleshly minds, we must find a way to move with it, or we WILL go crazy.  So how do we do that?

I talk to myself often, and I found myself thinking about why it's so hard.  Why, when we know beyond a shadow of doubt where she is, why is it so hard to let her go?  Why is it so difficult when we know she is no longer in pain?  Why do we insist on reopening the wound and feeling the pain?

For me, it's because I feel a deep sense of loyalty to the people I love.  I feel like it's wrong for me to live life as if they never existed, to keep doing the things you always did before.  Shouldn't their presence here on earth have meant something?  Shouldn't it have made a mark, left a tangible hole in the universe?  She was that important!

And we battle this fleshly desire to hold onto something that was never physical to begin with.

Did you here me?  She was never physical to begin with.  Anyone who sees the shell laying in the coffin knows this.  That is not her.  She is not there.  So if she's not there now, then what we saw on the outside, the physical person we could touch, was never really her to begin with!  It's never really any of us!

And contemplating the whys in my car one day, this is the conversation that ensued:
HOLY SPIRIT: Do you really think she's sitting around up here mourning the fact that you are all so sad she's gone?
ME: No, Lord.  Your word says there is no sadness or tears in heaven, so maybe she just doesn't think of us at all.  But no, I don't think that's true either.  I think she remembers us, maybe even prays for us, but she's whole in every sense now, and while she's not You Lord, she's seeing life from Your perspective finally.  She has no need to be sad when she knows and is feeling the truth that You will make all things right in Your time.  She no longer battles this physical flesh that weighs us down here on earth that fights with the spirit inside of us as your children.  She lives life there in complete trust, in full joy, in a true, unencumbered faith.
HOLY SPIRIT: Exactly.  So if she's moved on and is not mourning you, why won't you do the same?  Because it honestly isn't effecting her one bit at this point.

And because I'm a very blunt person, sometimes God is just that blunt with me.  I have no excuses other than my battle is with this selfish flesh.  My sadness is a normal reaction in this world because my spirit lives in a sinful body.  It's not wrong unless I indulge it.  It's not sin unless I allow the devil to leverage it in my life to justify actions that are unwise.  It's not harmful unless I dwell on it.  It just is what it is because my flesh is my flesh.

And when I come to grips with this truth, my eyes clear, my heart lightens, my step quickens, and I can breath joy again.  My God loves me just the same.  He gives grace to the weak in any definition of the word.  He knows what it means to be human.  To be bound by a flesh and emotions that fight His Spirit inside.  He knows.  He understands, and the best part is, He conquered it!  So in Him, through Him, He will conquer it for you too.

So lean on Him.  Turn to Him.  Look to His words.  Look expectantly for His presence in all things.  He is there.

He is moving life on.

And if He's the one doing the moving, I guess I can be ok with that.  I will rest in Him, and He will carry me on the days I'm really weak, when the old wound throbs deep and painful, and when it's not so painful, I get to walk with Him, talk with Him, and do life with Him because He makes my world turn, and anything but Him is just a shell of what could be, an illusion of what actually is.

Be encouraged!  There is more to life than THIS life!   And it's ok to move on and find out what God has in store for you.  Savannah Veale is smiling in heaven right now, reaping all the benefits of the treasure in heaven she stored while on earth.  I want to do the same.  I want to keep storing up treasure in heaven because the physical, worldly, fleshly things are an illusion of the devil, and moths and rust will destroy them all in time, but one day, I will dance in heaven with my sweet girl for all eternity, so I want to make sure what's waiting there for me is well-stocked=)

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Today We See Jesus

Today we say goodbye.

It's weird.  I feel like I said goodbye on Tuesday, holding her hand in that hospital bed.  When I kissed her forehead, that was suppose to be it.  I know I need today, but I've been dreading today.

My daughter has asked to see her one more time.  I wish she could have held her hand warm in the hospital and said goodbye there.  But there's something about laying eyes on the fleshly shell that tells the mind, 'She's really gone.  Look she is not there.  That's not her.  It never was.'

No.  The essence of who we are is the light inside, the spirit God fashioned in our mother's womb.  I don't know how anyone can face death and not see it otherwise.  The light and life and joy and being of a person is the spirit inside them that shines in the eyes, is tangible in their touch, and resonates in the ear at the sound of their unique voice and tone.  The Spirit is what makes us alive.  And for those who have accepted the Spirit of the Holy God into their lives, it's Jesus who really makes us shine.

Burying people dates back to the days of Abraham in the Bible when Abraham lovingly bought the first piece of the land God promised to him and his descendants to bury is beloved Sarah.  He buried her in a cave in the side of a mountain, and laid her to rest.  God records many a burial in the Bible, so it must be important.  He must know that it gives us the closure to move on.

So as much as yesterday felt like the calm before the storm for me, as much as crawling out of bed this morning felt like a weight around my body and mind, I know today is needed.

It is good to mourn AND celebrate with the body of Christ.  Other believers.  Other people who loved her.  It's kinda like the red blood cells of the body of Christ all merging together to cover the wound, clot together, stop the bleeding, and heal the wound.  Of course this started days ago with text messages, Facebook pictures and condolences, hugs, prayers, and shared tears.  Today's services are kinda like taking the band-aid off, letting the wound breath and begin to harden, so healing can continue underneath the scab, and movement--albeit however stiff--can continue without pain.

And that's what will happen today.  We will all get to breath not just the air of shared sorrow, but more importantly the air of shared joy.  Savannah's joy.  We will celebrate her life together.  Her sweet, joy-filled days here on earth.  And we will sing with tears in our eyes knowing that she is no longer in pain.  No more sore joints.  No more burning, itching skin.  No more blindness.  No more struggles to breath. No more warts to remove.  No more watching what she can and can't eat.  No more loss of hair.  No more stress.  No more suffering--at all.

And when the fresh air of that realization washes over us, the body of Christ, we will feel the weight lift, the wound uncovered.  We will feel a peace as we come together firm to support each other.  Underneath in each of our hearts, the wound will still be tender, but healing will continue in time.  But for today, as one unit breathing fresh air of a new life in God's Home, realizing that in Christ this is NOT the last time we will see her, praising our God for being good and claiming the truth that He will do right by His people.  Together, we will begin to move forward from this day.

And because we clot together, when we move forward it will be with less pain.  A little stiff maybe.  A little tender underneath, but not as painful as the hole ripped open less than a week ago.  No.  After today, Jesus will bind us all together in one hope, one joy, and one peace.  Unity in Christ will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and we will have each other to remind each other that He holds us close that He is our Strength, our Help, our Refuge.

And when we lay her in the ground, we will let her go.  Ceremonies are necessary to help us remember, to help us move on.  How many piles of stones marked significant blessings and words from God in the old testament?  How many ceremonies were meticulously described in the books of Moses to help people remember and continue their lives in covenant and celebration?

Today will be a good day.  As much as we may dread all the emotion we are about to experience one more time, today will be a good day.  We will see Jesus in her life.  We will see Jesus in each other.  We will see Jesus in the music.  We will see Jesus in her remembrance.  We will see Jesus in the unity of our love for one another.

Today will be a good day people!  Look around and don't miss it!  Camp out and stay and watch!  Today WE WILL SEE JESUS!  If you're looking, even through bleary eyes and weary souls, you will see Him.

And today will be a good day.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

For Those Who Grieve

It's day two.  She's been gone for two days.  The pictures have stopped being posted online.  The condolences have stopped coming in.  The phone and computer are silent.  The world is still turning.  People are posting pictures about end of school activities, graduations, fun times with the family, and she's only been gone two days.

My world stopped.  Why didn't everyone else's?

And my sister-in-law reminded me, it's my pain that I feel.  It's not everyone else's pain.  Everyone else's life keeps going.   The world keeps spinning.  And that irritates me.  It rubs me raw like sandpaper.  It makes me want to get mad at people for no good reason.

And I think what's frustrating me the most at this point is my world keeps turning too.  The laundry keeps piling up, the dishes keep filling the sink, the kids still have parties at school to attend, end of year performances to perform.  My world keeps turning too, and it beckons me to move forward with it.

But it feels so wrong to move forward without her in it.

It hurts to try and line up another sitter for the wedding we have to attend in two weekends.  The air in my throat tightens every time I think about the fact that there will be no more random text messages, tweets, or stop-in visits.  She'll never come knocking on my door again and make my children squeal with delight.  We will never throw our arms around each other again in this life.

And the pain singes deep and lingers.  I hurt because she's gone, and there are moments when I can move on with life and clean my house and make my plans like she never existed.  And then I hurt because something--a song, a smell, a memory--will remind me she did.  She's only been gone two days!  And the tears surge and pour again, just when I thought I had run dry.  And it hurts.  It hurts that I can even think about moving on, but it hurts to not try as well.

And then I get mad because she wouldn't want me to be acting this way.  She would want me to keep moving on, to keep moving forward, to live life.  Because she loved to live life! And she'd be mad I was trying to stop it on account of her.  And that anger hurts.

And then, then I feel ashamed.  Because she's not my child, not literally.  And my heart reaches out to her family, and I want to wrap them in bubble wrap and protect them from all these emotions because if mine are overwhelming theirs have got to be five times as penetrating.

And then, the peace of God will flood my being, and He will remind me of His command to me, to pour out my heart to Him.  To let Him be my refuge.  And so despite the hesitancy to put word to paper, despite the fact that it seems more prudent to stay inside my head, I can't.  If I do, I'll sink.

Faith in God keeps us from sinking like Peter walking on the water.  Keep your eyes on Him.  Take every thought captive.  Never take the spiritual eyes of your heart off of Christ.  He will keep you on top of the water.  Looking at the waves of emotion instead of Him will only cause you to sink.

The truth is God IS my refuge.  The truth is God is good.  The truth is God is just.  The truth is God does right by His people.  The truth is the starting point for my emotions.  The truth is from where my emotions should stem, not the other way around.  But to think this way is not normal.  Normal is for your emotions to mold what you believe to be true, but that's not God's way.  He says I AM the truth and the life.  So if I start there, and believe that, and sink my anchor on Him, my emotions cannot carry me away.  They cannot sink me into the darkness.  That's an unchangeable fact.

So, life moves on.  I have to move on.  And to move forward, I have to let go.  I feel guilty and wrong for letting go.  My emotions tell me I am letting her down.  I feel deep sadness every time I realize an hour has gone by, and I didn't mourn her passing.  I can never forget her, but I've been down this road of loss before.  You never forget, but their presence in your life begins to fade, and time soothes the wound, and healing begins.

It's just at this point, two days later, I'm not ready to feel the healing.  Isn't that silly?  I want to stop time, stop my world, sit and do nothing but think about her because if I think about her and dwell on her, then she's still here.  The pain makes her life seem real.  The tears seem to keep her alive.  I feel like if I begin to heal, then I'm dishonoring her, I'm dishonoring her family, I'm not holding her memory in esteem.  Because when I stop feeling the hurt, then she's really gone.  So it's almost like you make yourself hurt.  You make yourself dwell on thoughts that continually reopen the wound to keep it fresh.

But that's not good. That's how scars happen.

You see, the wound has already been treated with the healing ointment of God's presence and truth.  It has been covered with the powerful protection of prayer.  It may only be two days later, but it's already beginning to heal, and that's not a bad thing.  That's a good thing.  That's God's design.  We need to allow the healing and stop picking at the scab.

And today every emotion just makes me want to pick the scab, so I'm pouring out my heart to my God, the One True God, the God who made heaven and earth, who knit me in my mother's womb, who ordained my days here on earth before I was ever born, who did the same for my sweet girl I miss so much.  That is truth.  And in Truth I can find my strength.  I will see her again.

Life moves on, and I guess--after sitting to write all this--I am overwhelmed by my Heavenly Father telling me, "That's ok.  Healing is a good thing. Let Me heal your heart.  Stop picking at the scab."

So I will rejoice, for He has made me glad. Even just two days later, He is making me glad.  I think that would make her glad too. post signature

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Savannah Joy Veale

Yesterday she died, and we wept and mourned and cried and sorrow wracked our souls.

Today, I'm simply numb and the selfish sadness of this life echos inside the hole in my heart.  The onslaught of pictures of her online break my heart.  I'd give anything to see that smile again here on earth.  To watch her sweep my children into her arms one last time.  To tangibly feel the joy she brought them and the joy they brought her.  That moment when she came to our door and my kids realized it was her--that's the moment I keep reliving in my mind.

In a world desperately searching for joy, that moment was joy.  Real joy.

And now she's gone.  And my heart is desperately searching for joy again.

Some out there might think I'm a bit over the top.  But she wasn't just "one of the girls in my small group" so many years ago for 6th, 7th, and 8th.  From the moment I laid eyes on her in 6th grade, I felt connected to her.  I loved everything about her instantly--even then.  Even in all the early years of snotty, sarcastic middle schoolness, even when she tried to give me the cold shoulder, I loved her until she let me in, and then I could never let her go.

Her freshman year, when I met with her every week while she was suffering and home bound, we did what I thought was a useless Bible study on joy.  I watched her suffer week by week for a full year.  I listened to her stumble through the study questions, so many of which I really couldn't give her an answer.  For a year we searched for joy together, and I never thought we really found it.  In my mind, it had alluded us in the midst of all her misery.

Come to find out, five years later, in that year of suffering, she found joy.  She found it in our friendship, I think.  She found it despite her pain and itching and misery.  She found it in Jesus alone.  And so she told me, it's not just her middle name tattooed on her right hip, it's the Joy she found that year we met together.  That year when she ingrained herself on my heart, and I knew I'd never let her go.

So I let her in my life.  She started babysitting for me every week.  We paid her more than I should have because I loved her deeply, so I guess she kept coming back=)  She started helping me raise my children.  Over the next five years, she helped me set boundaries for them and make life fun.  They loved her deeply.  Over those years, our friendship grew as she grew into a beautiful, confident young woman.

She would come to our house and tell story after story of what God was doing in her life, all the adventures she was experiencing, all the hurts from friendships and relationships.  And I would listen and laugh and love and cry with her, and we let each other into each other's hearts.  Not much was ever said, but she understood me, and I understood her, and we just simply wouldn't let each other go.

When she left for college, we all cried the last day she babysat for us before heading off.  She made sure the "Miss Savannah" bag at our house was always full of candy, so my kids would never forget she was the best babysitter ever=)  Then she would text me before the weekends she came home, and we'd always work her into our date night schedule, mostly just so we could see her, hug her neck, and listen to her stories.  She took light and laughter and joy with her everywhere she went.

It wasn't long before I realized she was coming over even when we weren't paying her=)  She stop by when she was in town just to chat and catch up.  She'd stay for a dinner, watch a football game, come to a party, or just stop in to say hi to the kids.  She had helped me enjoy three family vacations by coming with us, and she was simply part of our family.  Bottom line, she was part of our family.

She was a sister, a friend, a child in the Lord of mine.  And I had plans to never let her go.  I had envisioned my children as flower girl and ring bearer at her wedding one day.  I had plans to never let her not come on family vacation with us.  I was going to pay her to spend time with my children for a full day, every day this summer mostly because I know they love spending time with her more than me=)  I was never going to let her go.

And yesterday, I had to say our earthly goodbyes.  I had to let her go.  I'm still letting her go.  Today I can't let go.

So for those who don't understand my tears, my hurt, who think I'm the crazy girl who's over the top about a girl who wasn't even part of my family.  Let me tell you, she was.  She was a part of our family as much as any older adopted child is a part of their foster families.  She was loved, and she will be missed.  And there is a hole where she once was in my life. A hole that only Jesus can fill.

Sunday night, He gave me this verse:  Psalm 62:8 "Trust the Lord in all things, Jennifer.  Pour out your heart to Him, and He will be your refuge."  And so that's what I'm doing.  I'm pouring out my heart every chance I get because I will not fall into the trap of my mind.  I won't slip into the darkness that beckons in the bottom of that hole.  I will do as my God has commanded and pour out my heart every chance I get!!!  Only Jesus can fill that hole.  Only Jesus.

I penned this in my journal to my children yesterday, and I think it has helped comfort me the most, "I'm dreading going home and telling the two of you (Weston and Savannah).  I have no idea how you will react, but at the same time I know that with you two is where I need to be.  Life goes on, children.  Miss Savannah's time on earth is done.  Ours is not.  Mine is not.  God still thinks there's more left for me to learn--not to do though.  No--I think Miss Savannah had a whole life left of greatness ahead of her--things she could have accomplished for the Lord.  I think maybe, she didn't have a whole lot left to learn.  She had truly learned the secret of having joy and giving thanks in all circumstances, of becoming all things to all people just to lead some to the Lord.  She knew Jesus.  She got it.  She figured it out.  She was in the perfect place in her life to go Home and love Him--her Bridegroom.  So that's where she went.  She went Home." post signature