Monday, June 30, 2008


My In-laws are the "keeper of the grave." Let me just tell you, they do a really good job of it too. Every holiday, there is a thematically coordinated set of flowers that satisfy my appreciation for aesthetics and also look surprisingly real. Christmas is especially spectacular with the tree and ornaments and grave cover. And there is no doubt that they are singularly responsible for the grass that grows where there had been nothing but dirt in the days and weeks after the burial.
Me? Not so much. And it's my son's grave! I'm sure they wonder who is going to give theirs the same devoted attention when they eventually die. But it probably won't be me. I'm sure they have resigned themselves to that by now.
I know people have different needs and different ideas of what is helpful in their grief, but the truth is, it makes me incredibly sad to go out there and stand over his earthly body and read the dates on the grave marker. All I can think about is his body being in a cold, wet grave when I know his spirit is with the Lord.
And I think about the day we lost him when all I could do was sob, "My baby, my baby, my baby, my baby, my baby over and over again. I couldn't stop saying it and I couldn't stop sobbing. I was inconsolable. We all were.
I think about that most grievous of moments at other times, but for some reason it is especially fresh when I stand at his grave. When I'm not there I don't dwell on the excruciating pain and loss. Rather, I wonder what he is doing, what indescribable sights he is seeing and who he is talking to. I delight in thinking about how he is helping the Lord decorate my mansion because they both know my taste. I smile when I think about him waiting expectantly and being the first one to meet me when it is my turn to cross the veil.
When I am engulfed in grief and loss and missing him so much I think my heart will simply stop beating, I make myself think about God's greatest gift to me this side of salvation. It happened the day he died. We were driving back from Norman where we had picked up Jacob and told him his brother, whom he'd just seen that morning, had survived the emergency surgery only to die in "recovery. "
It was late at night as we headed back to Tulsa and thunderstorms were raging. There had been a couple of tornadoes up and down the turnpike. I sat in the back seat of Jay's best friend's truck with Jacob's head on my shoulder trying to comfort him. When he finally stopped sobbing I turned and stared out the black window that was being pelted by an angry storm. Suddenly, there flying an arms length from the truck, I SAW JORDAN! His spirit, I mean. But I saw him! Oh my gosh. There is almost no way to describe it! He radiated the shekina glory of God. I know what it looks like, folks, and it is brilliant and golden and translucent and it radiates from within your entire being ! He radiated pure joy. None of us, in our best moments, have expressed what I saw at that moment. As he flew alongside the truck, arms stretched above his head, he gave me two thumbs up. His spirit spoke to mine as I'm sure we will all communicate in heaven and said, "Can you believe this mom?!"
And he was so happy! I have never seen that kind of joy. I laughed because he was so happy and free from his poor, tired body. I looked at him with tears running down my cheeks and pressed my hand against the window and said, spirit to spirit, "I love you, Jordan!"
He looked at me like I had just told him the sky was blue and said, "I know mom! I love you too!" There was the shared amusement of stating the obvious. We looked at each other and laughed. It was so unbelievable. And memorable. And healing.
And do you know what? The best part about it all is that I know it was real and not just the hallucinations of a grieving mother. How, you ask? Because he looked just like he would have looked if he had never had the transplant! His face was lean and smooth. There was no puffiness from the steroids. His hair was soft and thick and curly just like it was before the drugs made it course and dark and thin. He was ALIVE. Radiant. Oh my gosh! He was more alive than any living soul on this planet!
So I don't like to go out there. I can't stand to think about the physical reality when I have seen the spiritual reality. Ah! And the latter is much more comforting!
I miss him every single day. More as time goes by. It is often the moments of remembering his present reality that get me through the unspeakable loss.
(I love you son!)

Friday, June 13, 2008


For some reason I keep thinking about that madman in Austria who kept his own daughter prisoner under his house in a sealed dungeon of sorts and repeatedly raped her for 24 torturous years. She had seven children by her own father, six of whom lived, and three of whom his inconceivably unsuspecting wife raised.
The story is horrific beyond belief and that alone would be enough to keep it on my mind long after it has left the pages of the newspapers.
But it was his statement to the police that undid me. He said, "I'm not a monster! I could have killed all of them any time I wanted to, and I didn't."
When the story first broke, all I could think about was how long the abuse lasted. He was 74 when he was arrested and it had gone on for an unimaginable 24 years. That means it began when he was 50. I kept wondering at what point in his life the first thought occurred to him. And I wondered what he did with it. Did he reject it? Was he horrified by it? Then I wondered at what point he began to embrace, encourage and entertain what obviously became a recurring thought.
James 1:14-15 lays it all out pretty clearly: "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust is conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death."
That is exactly what happened. His unbridled, untamed thoughts led to fantasies, which led to plans, which at some point he carried out all for the sake of satisfying his depraved lust. I'm sure there was a moment in time when all he could think about was "the plan." What I can't figure out is how he began to justify it all to himself in his own mind.
And now he tells the world he isn't that bad of a person because he didn't kill them? Is that what deception does to people? Yes. That's exactly what deception does to people. It leads them to justify their behavior and minimize their sin, at all times, at any level.
And the Lord had the audacity to tell me I do the same thing! Not only do I minimize my sin in my own mind, even when I do acknowledge it, I often presume on His grace! "Here we are again God, I was wrong, You'll forgive me, no need to make a big stinkin' deal out of it, right? Besides, I'm really sorry."
If I truly believed, even with the incomprehensible gift of grace extended to those who believe, that on the other side of every sin--every sin--lies a just hell punishment meted out by a fair and righteous Judge, perhaps I would look at my sin differently. We know the believer is not going to suffer the punishment of hell. Our sins are forgiven. What an awesome gift! But if we don't treat our sin as hellishly serious, we are presuming on grace. And if we really understood and believed that, how much differently might we treat not only our sin, but His grace?
In various verses in the book of Proverbs alone, our hearts are described in these tragic terms: wicked, cunning, perverse, deceitful, evil, unwashed, disloyal, straying, stubborn, dull, foolish, proud, crooked, raging, envious, destructive, heavy and hard.
Wow. How utterly tragic. That's what God has to say about all of us, not just that wacko in Austria.
But there is hope, and it comes from God, who is the only source of hope. He leads us into paths of righteousness for His name's sake. He renews our mind. He tells us the truth. He IS the truth! How desperately I need Him!
Here is my prayer for myself and my prayer for all of you in abbreviated form from, "The Valley of Vision: a Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions:
"O Spirit of God, If Thou seest in me any wrong thing encouraged, any evil desire cherished, any delight that is not Thy delight, any habit that grieves Thee, any nest of sin in my heart, then grant me the kiss of Thy forgiveness, and teach my feet to walk in the way of Thy commandments.
"Deliver me from carking care, and make me a happy, holy person; help me to walk in the separated life with firm and brave step, and to wrestle successfully against weakness; teach me to laud, adore and magnify thee, with the music of heaven, and make me a perfume of praiseful gratitude to Thee.
"I do not crouch at Thy feet as a slave before a tyrant, but exult before Thee as a son with a Father.
"Give me power to live as Thy child in all my actions, and to exercise sonship by conquering self. Preserve me from the intoxication that comes with prosperity; sober me when I am glad with a joy that comes not from Thee.
"Lead me safely on to the eternal kingdom, not asking whether the road be rough or smooth.
"I ask only to see the face of Him I love, to be content with bread to eat and raiment to put on, until I can be brought to Thy house in peace." Amen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Well, I turned 50 today. FIFTY! I can't believe I'm actually as old as it seems like my parents aught to be, and I can't believe I got here so quickly. I think I might have skipped a decade somewhere along the way, but when I look back, they all appear to be present and accounted for. It's a mystery...
My husband says he can't believe he is sleeping with a fifty year-old woman and, quite frankly, neither can I.
It's been an interesting ride, and like all of you and everyone who has ever lived, no doubt, it has been filled with unexpected delights, unexpected heartache, thrills, chills, spills and a hint of Vaudeville.
In it all and through it all, whether I knew it or acknowledged it at the time or not, there was one constant. God was there. Not one moment of my life, not one thought in my mind, not one attitude of my heart, not one desire or ambition or need or hurt or longing or anything about me escaped His omniscient awareness. Not one!
There is a Scripture the Lord has brought repeatedly to my mind today through various means. Because it has been brought to my attention over and over again, I am convinced He wants me to absorb it and meditate on it and understand it and embrace it and breath it and believe it in the very core of my being. It is Psalm 139:7-18 and it reads:
"Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Thy hand will lead me, and Thy right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, 'Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,' even the darkness is not dark to Thee, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to Thee.
"For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.
"How precious are Thy thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand."
Wow! And the best part is, it's all true! The great God of all creation, the maker of heaven and earth, the immortal, invisible, incomprehensible, eternal One loves me with an everlasting love! It will probably take all of eternity for me to properly absorb it, it's so unbelievable!
I marvel with David, shake my head in disbelief, when he asks in Psalm 8:4, "What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him?"
And yet God declares over and over again in a hundred different ways that we are, "the apple of His eye." Amazing. Beautiful. Incomprehensible. Healing.
There is more on my heart. Much more. There always is! But I think that will be all for this particular therapy session. 'Till next time.....