Thursday, June 16, 2011

Beyond little earth

For obvious reasons my mind is more consumed with heaven than ever before. What must it be like? What will we see and experience there? I love the bible verse in Romans 1:20. It says, " For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." What things in your mind leave you breathless when you see them? For me it's the brilliant colors in a rainbow, a sunrise, sunset or the contrasting light and shadows at dusk. ‎The soft sweetness of a baby's lips. The majesty of mountain peaks rising up from a deep valley gorge in between. A vast ocean that stretches so far beyond the shoreline that the horizon gets lost. The stillness and beauty of a woodland dripping with pieces of light through the canopy above. A sky filled with a constantly changing canvas of day and night and stars and sun and clouds. I feel like these wonders are glimpses God gives us into the indescribable perfection of heaven. I find myself more tuned into seeking out and exploring those times in God's creation, seeking to know Him better through the beauty He created.

Yesterday, church friends of Grace's gathered to paint rocks to have put in her memorial garden. They shared memories of her while painting the rocks, and after the meeting they came outside and encountered a rainbow. We saw it too! There's a picture of it below- the view from our living room window. Rainbows. A prism of color that happens at the point where storms and sunlight meet. Where life and God meet. Those kids at church saw the significance of a rainbow after time spent thinking about their friend. So did many others. Several people sent me pictures of rainbows yesterday, saying they remembered.... that thanks to rainbows they always would.

I think I mentioned this book before, but it was given to me to read not long ago and I loved it so much. It's called "Heaven is for Real", by Todd Burpo. Pick it up if you can. It's an easy read, but spoke to my heart in such a profound way because it's about a little boys experiences in heaven. It's not the bible, and for that reason needs to be read with that in mind.... but it was such a beautiful account that brought me such joy thinking about what Grace must be experiencing in her new reality. To be surrounded by our earthly glimpses of God's splendor all the time. Hollywood depicts heaven as white and peaceful. I suspect it is more colorful than anything our minds can fully conceive. The bible supports that too. Streets of gold, a crystal sea, comparing heavenly colors to rainbows, emeralds and sapphires. It's gonna be so good!

I'm off to work on Grace's Garden today getting help from my uncle and hubby to finish off the landscaping part of the project. Soon to plan flowers! I'll post more pictures in the next couple weeks. Enjoy the gifts God has given you today.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Beyond Enough

This blog entry is a bit disjointed but that is how I feel today.

Thank you for those of you praying for little Michael. He joined Grace last night and is exploring heaven today. Keep his family left behind lifted up before the God of all comfort. As they say their last goodbyes on earth and honor the short life he lived here. This world of childhood cancer is so ugly. Too many put in the ground. Too many who have won the battle for now, but at a very high price. Too many families torn up and left with questions only God himself can one day give an answer for. Please, stay on your knees for them.

Grace's garden is expanding. I added a bleeding heart given to us by a friend, and bought a rainbow of Iris' to come up next spring. (Did you know the Greek meaning of iris is actually "rainbow"? Cool tidbit.) We also put in a small water fountain yesterday. When we started it up Mae burst into tears. We couldn't decide if she was weeping or laughing, but when we asked her why she was crying she said, "It's just so beautiful!", while she clung to my leg, tears streaming. She often talks about how much Grace will like the garden. Yesterday she pointed at a cloud above the garden and said, "Maybe she can see it from there?" Bless her sweet soul. Here's a garden preview...
We try to find fun where we can and last week I took Mae and Grace's best friend to their first concert.... a boy band called "Big Time Rush". It was hilarious to see so many girls screaming and clamoring for a closer look at their crushes. I also got to introduce them to their first wave pool that day. Such little things mean so much more than they used to. A sunny day, good health, giggling girls, some music and water. The ingredients to a near perfect day.

Our little Joy is just that. She keeps me laughing in unexpected moments every day. She has the spitfire spark that was in Grace's eyes, but the sweetness of Mae too. She loves to sing and has learned how to change the words to a tune (thanks to daddy), giving a running description of the world through song. Our kids are such a beautiful gift.

I wish I could pull all 3 of my kids and Joe into another family hug. I wish I could dream of Grace. I wish I could complete a single memory of her before jumping to another and another. I wish I could cry more... and less. I wish I didn't feel at the edge of sanity in some moments and feel nothing at all the next. I wish I could stay in moments of joy for whole hours at a time. I wish I could get off this roller coaster. But I can't. I'm reminded the reason we wish for more than this life is because this is not our home. We are made for eternity. This will never be enough and that is a good thing. The longing in our souls gives us incentive to reach higher, love deeper, hold tighter and give freely.

These are my rambling thoughts for today.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Beyond Goodbye

It's been a long time since I posted anything new. Sorry. My heart just hurts so much sometimes it's easier to try and avoid the pain. Our Grace has been gone almost 6 months. Are you kidding me? It could have been yesterday. Most people would think the pain would be better by now, and truthfully in some ways it is and in other ways it's worse. I don't feel like I'm being torn in two every second of every day anymore, but with each day that passes I miss her more deeply. She feels farther away and I feel a little panicky if I let myself go there. I tear up unexpectedly when I catch a glimps of her on someones past face book pictures, or see a picture of a rainbow, or stumble across something of hers under the couch or behind a closet door, or in a bathroom drawer. I always leave those things there. Even though it makes me sad to see them, they are constant reminders that she is still a part of us and always be. I don't want to put any more of her away in a trunk or closet or garage. When I miss her too much I start to worry about her. The worry is like little weeds growing among beautiful flowers planted by God. They try to make their creeping roots deeper and take over the soil of my heart. They want to choke out the good God wants for me and destroy the joy God intends me to experience in life. I have to keep going back to the truth God has laid out in his word... that she is safe, and well, and happy, and healthy. Her body is buried under several feet of dirt in a quiet place where the wind whispers secrets and the sun shines full on her sparkly blue stone, but her spirit is free and living loud with the heavenly hosts. I feel myself relax and find air able to enter my lungs again. I'm beginning to fully realize we will never get over this, and pray for God to walk us though it the rest of our days here on earth.

In the last several weeks we have done many things as a family to remember our girl. We attended a memorial service with too many other families also going though the grief of loosing a child this last year while at Children's. Mae (our 7 year old) cried at the service. She's only cried a few times since Grace died, and I imagine it was good for her to see other brothers and sisters who had lost a sibling this year. To know she's not alone in her feelings and loss either.

We recently made a purchase in memory of Grace for our family. The last benefit blessed us enough to nearly break even financially after a very difficult time during Grace's long illness. Thank you again to all of you who were a part of that event. We felt so loved and even though it was a bitter-sweet day as she had just joined Jesus a few weeks before, it was such a testament to the many lives her life and story touched. Since our financial needs were met by the benefit, we used what was left of her life insurance after paying Grace's final expenses to buy a camper for our family. When Grace had first talked to the Make-a-Wish people she knew what she wanted. A camper. For ALL of us to enjoy and to be able to spend time together. That girl loved everything about camping. The camp fires, the getting hot and dirty then jumping in a cool lake, watching movies when it was raining, running in the woods, climbing trees, and sleeping "outside". The Make-a-Wish people talked her out of a camper and into a Disney trip, which was such a good thing. Had we gotten the camper at that time she never would have gotten to use it. Instead, we went to Disney World and she had the time of her life just 3 short weeks before she took her final earthly breath. So.... recently we honored Grace and bought her camper and took our family out for a trial run on the Memorial Day weekend. It was painful and wonderful. We should paint her name on it... and there will be more pictures of her on the walls in it soon too. We have several camping trips planned for the summer, and each time will thank Grace for such a beautiful gift.

We've been working hard on a garden in our backyard in memory of Grace. The money for all the flowers and shrubs was given to our family from Grace's 4th grade friends mom's specifically for a garden. I continue to stand amazed at peoples generosity and compassionate hearts. It will be beautiful but has been a ton of work and there is much still to do. So far it includes "Happy Return" Day Lillies, a "Superstar" Spiria bush, "Wine and Roses" Wigelia bushes, Miscanthus Flame Oriental Grass and a "Paul's Glory" Hasta. Most of the flowers will be in the pink/ purple/ blue hues as those were Grace's favorite colors... but all the colors of the rainbow will be represented somewhere too! The retaining walls are up and an angel statue is seated in her new garden home. I'll post some pictures here soon. My God-daughter celebrated her 10th birthday today. Grace and her were just a few months apart in age. Being the sweet heart she is, instead of donating her birthday money to the food shelf this year she wanted to give the money from her party to us to buy something for Grace's garden. Such a beautiful gift from a very special girl. Happy Birthday, honey. We love you and there is no doubt that your Mom and Grace had cake together today in honor of your birthday and were very proud of your generous heart.

Thank you to each of you for your continued prayers and for continuing to follow our journey of finding some measure of healing. I ask that you also pray for a little boy named Michael and his family. He is a 5 year old with the same cancer Grace had. Short of a miracle, he is nearing the end of his earthly journey and it just crushes my heart. Pray for his mom and dad and brother too. They will need God's tender love and comfort in the weeks or days to come and for the lifetime of healing following. I know that prayer makes a difference. We felt them during those darkest days walking Grace "home", and I know people from all over the world read this blog. The USA, Estonia, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Austria, United Kingdom, Guatemala, Denmark, India, Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany and others... please join us in lifting this family to heaven as they walk through and go beyond goodbye.