Matthew 22:37-39

Matthew 22:37-39

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Truly Life

Something I have learned, is that grief is different for each person experiencing it.

What some do, may not work for others.

My husband was making arrangements for Gavin's funeral, and I knew I needed to help make some hard decisions too. I remember my parents and sister in the room with me as I was starting to go through Gavin's clothes the day after he died. I needed to do it then because I knew I would have their help and I also knew I wanted other boys to be blessed by these things. I didn't want to store them and keep them in the closet.
Yes it took my breath away and I couldn't even finish the task. You see I am a planner and had it all organized and even had the bigger sizes out for Gavin to grow into. So many hours I spent organizing it and making it just the way I thought it needed to be. Now I was looking at it, knowing I would never be pulling out another shirt for him from that closet. I would never be chasing him to put his clothes on him. I looked at it with different eyes, aching for my sweet boy, but also thought how much time, energy, and money was put into all these things; these things Gavin couldn't use anymore.

Materialism is something I battle all the time. Living a year in Haiti opened my eyes to how blessed and spoiled we are as Americans. We have everything we need and then some right at our fingertips, and still aren't happy; we still want more.
We have commercial after commercial telling us we need this new phone, this new car, these new clothes, these certain foods etc. to live a great life.
In Haiti we were away from all of that junk.
Instead we had neighbors who would shower outside with buckets of water as they didn't have inside bathrooms. We had students walk miles and miles to get to school and church. We were surrounded by friends and neighbors that didn't have electricity. We had students that would eat only one meal for the day because that was all they had or could afford. We saw people hungry on the streets and begging for food. And we saw time after time after time, smiles of joy and pure contentment with what they had and what they had been given. And this changed us.

We wanted to live differently when we returned to the states but found ourselves sinking right back in.
We told ourselves we needed the SUV for more space for the kids. We needed the house in the cute neighborhood with a fence. We needed thing after thing and we justified it all.

And I thought we were doing well with attacking the materialism beast.

But that day I was looking through all of Gavin's clothes, toys, etc. and I was ashamed.
Had we gotten it all wrong yet again?
I was ashamed we had so many things in our house, and in our closets as I looked around. And my heart was broken because Gavin didn't need any of it anymore. He wouldn't ever come back for it and he didn't need it because he was at the throne of God, our true home. He was seeing Jesus face to face, he was seeing truly beautiful things my mind can't even imagine.
He was living true life now.

Had I taught my children that the Lord has blessed me with, that we don't need all these things? Did I teach them everyday that Jesus is our pure joy and only in Him are we truly content.

1 Timothy 6:17, oh how I have twisted that verse to justify my materialism.
I say, God gives me these things to enjoy, its okay.
But really we forget to read all around the verses. Right after that verse it says, "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so they they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Just today I got a message from my friend saying that Gavin's clothes were passed along to some sweet little boys in St. Vincent.
How that comforts my heart and soul knowing someone else is being blessed by his little life.

All the things Gavin had on this earth, he couldn't take anything with him.
Though we are apart, my sweet boy is still teaching me and pointing me to Jesus everyday.
We can't take anything with us either, we won't need too.
So instead of buying more, I pray I give more.
So instead of hoarding more, I pray I share more.

I want to take hold of life that is truly life.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Valleys are His

I learned something from my four year old this week... kind of like to share it with you.

For one reason or another this week our family has had plenty of time in our car driving through what is called the Ozark Mountains. Now if you have never seen these particular mountains you should because they truly are amazing. Not because they are tall and snow covered like the Swiss Alps and not because they are great to ski like the Rockies but because during each of the four seasons you see God's creative covering of them. You can drive through the season of fall and see trees of every variety of color, but then the winter with ice and snow creating a vision of the resting of nature. So no matter when you see them there is beauty to be seen. It is Spring now and flowers are popping up and trees are blooming with life and we are simply taking in the Creators handy work.

Now often we see this and think wow these mountains are nice, tall, and colorful but don't take time to think on the valleys in between. From personal experience I have never driven to Colorado and said these mountains are ok but the valleys here are spectacular. And so I began to think even the valleys are created by God are they not? And isn't there beauty and life and creative design in them? And not to over spiritualize anything it came to me what about the mountains and valleys of this journey called life... We catch our breath and praise God for the mountains and try to avoid at all cost the valleys, but don't they have value and something worth praise?

Many of you know or maybe don't I am in a valley right now. Since the passing of Gavin I can still see hints of the creative nature of God but am still not able to fully breath it in like the fresh air at the top of a mountain. But I am reminded of what David sang about in Psalm 23, "even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me." I never knew the shadow of death would be my sons and not mine, it is never suppose to be this way... but that is my burden to bear and not your so I won't digress. But nonetheless this valley is here and I trust in the words of a great king He is with me. And sometimes He is with me through my daughter Lyndlee and together they taught me these two things.

1. We were driving through the mountains and valleys as mentioned before, Janna in the back seat with Lyndlee because still sometimes she does not want to sit alone. Janna was crying a little and Lyndlee asked what was wrong. Janna said, "I miss Gavin." Then Lyndlee promptly replied, "sometimes I cry and miss him too and that is ok." And you know what I felt in that moment , what I felt in this is ok. It is ok to be sad about the loss of our son or brother and God is with us saying this is ok.... I AM HERE. But this Thought leads me to another thought, is he really here? And lesson number two answers that.

2. Again we were driving through the beauty of the Ozarks and Lyndlee began to sing one of Gavin's favorite songs, Our God is so Big. Now usually this song comes and goes without a hitch but today it became like a broken record but only on one phrase. Janna and I kept trying to help her through it but without a doubt she kept repeating the same phrase which is, "the valleys are His." Over and over again this was being sung until it hit me... HE IS HERE, because the valleys are His too.

I did not choose to be here, and I pray that no one will ever have to experience this themselves... But I know just as the seasons will come and mountains will always lead to valleys this too will happen to others across the world. And when it does or if some other valley that is promised comes your way know this... God is there too because even the valleys the ones that are like the shadow of death are HIS.