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Seeing things differently

Today Brenda continues to write about her journey after the sudden death of our son Isaac in April 2011.

Where am I now?

As I reflect on the last several years after Isaac was promoted to Heaven, I have changed.  I am not the Brenda I was before.  I see things differently.  I am looking through a different lens.  One thing I can now see after several years is how the Lord provided for me:

  • Providing help from a neighbor
  • Providing hospital workers who all prayed together surrounding us
  • Providing rainbows in the sky to let me know that He was still there and a double rainbow on the first-year anniversary date of Isaac’s promotion
  • Providing mourning doves to let me know that He still heard me
  • Providing finances, even from people we never met
  • Providing a loving and supportive family
  • Providing food
  • Providing time off from work for Andy
  • Providing the many cards, emails, and flowers even from people we never met
  • Providing friends that would just listen
  • Providing churches that were willing to reach out to us
  • Providing a sister who was willing to come and stay with us
  • Providing uplifting and encouraging words
  • Providing friendships with those who have experienced the loss of a loved one
  • Providing a local GriefShare support group
  • Providing understanding and helpful neighbors
  • Providing those who would pray for us

Those are just some of the things I can reflect on and know that the Lord was with us during our time of need.

I did not always see this.  The first year and a half was the absolute hardest of anything I have ever experienced in my life.  But, the fog started lifting and I could “see”.  I began slowly to see and hear the birds sing again.  I could see the beautiful colors the Lord has provided for us to admire.  I could see and hear and experience laughter again.  But most of all, I could see how blessed I am with the family I have.

Do I still struggle and have bad days?  Yes.  Triggers that come from nowhere may send me for a loop, but I do not stay “there” as long.

(2Co 10:5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

This verse was key for me to remember to turn off my negative switch and turn on my positive switch.  I give thanks to the Lord for all that He has provided.  I have to choose to do this and I choose not to think upon those things such as:

  • What people may have said to me that hurt
  • Cards or emails I didn’t receive and thought I should have
  • or…fill in the blank with any other negative thought.

There is grace and forgiveness.  I never experienced anything like this before and most other people have not.  Many do not understand and are not trying to intentionally be mean.  I didn’t understand either.  The Lord has helped me to see this.  He gives me grace and lots of it; therefore, I should also extend grace to those around me.

Do I still grieve?  Yes.  Will I always grieve?  Yes.  However, as I look back, I can now see things that I couldn’t see when I was clouded by grief – the Lord was still with me.

Blessings,

Brenda

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2015 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

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Missing Window

OK, I don’t mean to jump on my brother John’s bandwagon, but once again his weekly devotional so greatly blessed my heart. Below is the devotional titled “Missing Window” by Pastor John Mallonee of Blessed Hope Bible Church.  I hope that you are as blessed from reading it as I was (and as amused by the visual!).

Blessings,

Andy

Missing Window

Week 48, 2012

Read: Hebrews 13:5-6

A few days ago, we were riding in the car to our church and before we got too far from home, the passenger side window fell down inside the door. We were unable to raise it back up, so we decided to just put a blanket in place of the window and bundle up. As we were driving, we laughed to each other about how ridiculous we looked driving down the highway with a blanket flapping in the breeze. As we drove, Rebekah chuckled and said to me, “You better get a devotional out of this!” Well, here it is!

Later as I thought back on the events of the day, I remembered how we came out of our comfort zone and endured the really cold wind at 65 miles per hour. It wasn’t the most pleasant ride, and surely not the warmest, but we got where we wanted to go and didn’t let a little thing like a defective window keep us from arriving. It’s times like this that you cannot help but ask, “Lord, what are You showing me from this?”

The main thought that I took from the whole situation was that we are often taken out of our comfort zone and really don’t have a choice in the matter. There are places that we need to go in life and it doesn’t always include a toasty-warm ride or a smooth walk. Life is often full of bumps in the road, hills popping up out of nowhere, and valleys that show up like abrupt cliffs. The Lord never promised us a lifetime of 70-degree days and a perfectly level landscape. He never promised us a life without pain and illness. He never said that if we were spiritual, we would encounter fewer trials and more blessings. That would be heaven, and yes, we will arrive there when He chooses to take us home. But for now, we must realize how dependent we are on Him for…(get this)…every single breath!

If you are looking for a life with no problems and no sudden surprises that will take you out of your comfort zone, you are not going to find it in this world—even as a believer. But when you are a genuine believer who is walking with the Lord, you will feel His peace in the midst of every war; you will feel His hand holding on when you are about to fall over a cliff; and you will hear His voice when you feel like everyone in your world has forsaken you. That’s the beauty of having the Lord as your Savior. If there were no problems in your life, then I guess you wouldn’t need to fall into the arms of the One who told you to cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you!

Now, don’t get me wrong. God does bring plenty of blessing, plenty of sunshine, and plenty of happy days. But He often takes us out of our comfort zone just to see if we trust Him as much in the trials as we say we do in the good times. He will never leave your side—especially when life gets uncomfortable! A missing window is a good reminder of our ever-present God.

© 2012 Mallonees

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2012 in Christian Studies

 

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Another Look at “Blessings”

As part of this year’s home school curriculum, we are reading through the book of Matthew during our morning family devotional time.  Taking a few verses at a time allows us to digest and discuss the words of life that we read.  We just finished reading through the first several verses in Chapter 5, where Jesus describes the “beatitudes” at the beginning of His famous “Sermon on the Mount”.

In a previous post, we examined the nature of blessings and the fact that sometimes God can use trials in our life to draw us closer to Him – blessings in disguise.  As we read through the beginning of Chapter 5, we noted that Jesus considers the following to be blessed:

  • the poor in spirit;
  • they that mourn;
  • the meek;
  • they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness;
  • the merciful;
  • the pure in heart;
  • the peacemakers; and
  • they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

Jesus concludes by saying that we are blessed when men revile (insult) us, and persecute us, and say all manner of evil against us falsely, for His sake. We are even to rejoice, and be exceeding glad!

Wow.  Would you consider yourself to be blessed in mourning, meekness, persecution or any of these other conditions?

Why are we blessed in these characteristics or circumstances?  Let’s look at what Jesus says in entirety throughout the passage:

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
  • Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
  • Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
  • Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
  • Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Mat 5:3-12)

I don’t believe the world would consider us to be blessed in these conditions, but in God’s economy we are blessed.  We have every blessing we need in Christ Jesus, for:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (Eph 1:3)

Therefore, for the Christian, we are blessed in every circumstance.  While the world may consider the conditions above as weak or even cursed, God considers them as blessed.  Let’s take some time to meditate on the words above, especially the eternal rewards that await us in these conditions.  May we prepare our hearts and minds to truly see our circumstances filtered through Heaven’s lens.

Blessings :-),

Andy

 

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Clouds Are Breaking

I hear the birds sing.  I see and smell the flowers as they bloom.  I admire and appreciate the plants that grow in our garden.  I appreciate the blue sky and sunshine.

One year ago, I could not comprehend these things.  I was surrounded by a thick cloud of darkness.  My senses were dulled, my eyes were heavy and my ears were stopped.  My body was dry and my emotions were numb or raw.  I could barely comprehend what was happening around me.

But now, praise the Lord, the clouds are breaking.  We are still recovering and healing.  There is still a wound in our hearts and a hole in our family.  They will always be there, at least this side of Heaven.  The wound will leave a scar as it heals.  We will never forget our precious son and we miss the life that he brought to our family.  But we have a new identity and we are different people.  We have a new appreciation for the frailty and brevity of life.  We have a greater hope and longing to be clothed in our eternal bodies.  We hold lightly to the things of this world.  We feel more sensitive to the needs of others and we look forward and appreciate the opportunities to reach out and help others.  We haven’t moved “on” but are moving forward one step at a time (plodding along as our pastor said this morning).

Because we loved Isaac so much, we miss him terribly and can’t help but to be changed through this experience.  To not let it affect us would be to deny our love for him.  His absence leaves a void and a pain that change how we respond to life.  If we ignore or try to dull the pain, we prevent ourselves from moving forward.  As we cry out to God and lay our hearts before Him, He reaches down and comforts us right where we are.  He reassures us of His love, mercy and grace.  He gives us the strength to move forward.

I thank God for this break in the clouds and appreciate this season.  I do know that all things are in His hands.  I don’t know how long this season of refreshment will last, but I will enjoy it day by day.  I pray that my heart will continue to be set on Heavenly things.

Blessings,

Andy

 

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Ray of Light

Have you ever asked God for a sign, just a little reassurance that He still cares (which of course He does, but I sometimes begin to doubt)? When you receive a sign or blessing, do you see it as from the Lord or are you tempted to dismiss it as just “coincidence”?

Last Sunday, we decided to attend the Easter/Resurrection Day sunrise service at our sister church. Never having attended a morning service at this church, we selected a pew on the left side and a few rows forward from the back door (and secretly hoped that we had not “stolen” somebody’s seat). Through the first part of the service, we sang and listened to the choir sing beautiful songs about the resurrection of Christ (I hope that I never tire of singing “Christ Arose”).

As the service progressed, I began to feel warmth on the back and right side of my neck. Then, I felt as if my head was engulfed in reddish light. I turned my head to the right and was partially blinded by sunlight that shone through a red pane in a stained-glass window and projected a ray of light onto our family. I felt like we were in the spotlight.  After the service, a church member asked me how me how I felt to have the light shine upon our family. I was actually startled by the question and was at a loss for a proper response.  Was the light really shining directly on our family?

So, should I choose to see this as merely a “coincidence” or as a blessing from the Sovereign Lord, reminding us of His presence with and favor on His children?

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. (Isa 60:1)

Still trusting and hoping,

Andy

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Family Updates

 

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‘It didn’t destroy us’: Clouse family approaches painful anniversary of fatal Perry County fire | PennLive.com

Below is a link to an inspiring and heart-breaking article written by John Luciew of the Pariot-News.  This article recounts the tragic loss of seven of Ted and Janelle Clouse’s children in a house fire.  This tragedy occurred over one year ago in the county immediately to the west of ours’, across the Susquehanna River.

‘It didn’t destroy us’: Clouse family approaches painful anniversary of fatal Perry County fire | PennLive.com.

I experienced anguish in my spirit several times while reading this article.  We’ve lost one child and cannot imagine what it would be like to lose seven children at one time.  I could relate to the suddenness and surprise of the event, the second-guessing, the tormenting memories, the temptation of guilt and despair, the outpouring of community support, and the ultimate faith and trust in our loving God.

Blessings,

Andy

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

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“Blessings”

It is almost difficult to believe that this past Tuesday marked six months since Isaac passed away. After about the first month, any date with 18 or any Mondays seemed no longer distinguishable from any other days. Everyday we seem to miss Isaac just as much and remember the day that he left this earth.

Ever since I began to hear Laura Story’s beautiful and poignant song “Blessings”, I have found the tune and lyrics to be rolling through my mind at any given time. One of the first times that I really comprehended the meaning of the song is when my cousin Donald posted a YouTube video in a comment to the post titled “Fellowship of Suffering”.

How can trials of this life be blessings and God’s mercies in disguise? I believe it is possible because these trials purify our hearts and draw us closer to God, if we respond appropriately to them. As we groan in our hearts towards our Heavenly Father and struggle to find sufficient words to express our emotions, we find a new intimacy with Him. These prayers turn us to our Heavenly Father for comfort and strength and set our hearts on heavenly matters. The alternative would be that we become so bitter through trials that we seek comfort in worldly pleasures and harden our hearts toward God.

Some days we find it difficult to see the “good” in what happened to us. (Death is not “good” on the surface, for it was an enemy that Christ Jesus conquered. Someday the defeat of that enemy will be completely realized on this world, but for the time being its defeat is only evident on the “other side”.) We experience pain because a piece of our heart has been ripped away. That pain is present no matter what we meditate upon. But we can experience joy and peace if we shift our focus from ourselves to the promises of God and towards others. I don’t believe this is denying or “stuffing” our pain, but rather turning our pain into productive and fruitful energy.

So, by allowing these trials in our lives, is God blessing us and showing us mercy by providing the opportunity to draw closer to Him so that we can more fully know and enjoy Him in the present reality and in eternity?

Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old. (Mic 7:18-20)

Perhaps it would be better just to let the song’s author and others speak for themselves. This video can be found on Laura Story’s Website. I encourage you to view it and read the testimonies of others who have been “blessed” by clicking here.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on October 20, 2011 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

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