Monday, July 26, 2010

My present...

The hardest part about my journey of sorrow is being in the present. It's the here and now that seem utterly hopeless and unbearable most days.

My past is full of sweet memories of my love. My future, though hard to picture, holds tiny glimmers of hope that God will use my hardship for His glory. But, my present, my now, holds darkness and tears and overwhelming odds and pain. It is in my present that I find myself just wanting to give up. It is in my present when I ask God, "Really?"

The sermon I heard this Sunday addressed this very topic - how quick we are to praise God for what He has done in the past and believe Him for the future, yet, we almost become unbelievers when it comes to trusting Him with the present.

I am reminded of the verses in Exodus 3 when Moses asks God His name. He responds, "I am who I am." He answered Moses with "am" not with "was" or "will be." His name is present tense. He is the God of the present.

And He is the God of my present, no matter how dark it seems to me.

The pastor went on to encourage us to live and to trust God in the present. My Tony was the master of that. He would often pull me aside just to dance for a moment together. He would sit and watch the birds out our back window even when we were pinched for time. He would eat every single one of my prized (and expensive) gluten-free cookies, laugh and say, "Melissa, sometimes you just have to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. We can buy more cookies." My husband learned from his past, dreamed big for his future, still he mastered living in the present.

So I practiced this life lesson yesterday (a Monday, of all days) and I spent the majority of the day in tears. That is what greeted me in my present so I let them flow. Just about the time I wanted to give up, I had a knock at my office door and in walked my colleague with a Zaxby's birthday cake milkshake that I had been eyeing on TV for weeks. She had seen my weary face and thought I could use a "pick me up."

And the great I AM said hello in my present...through my sweet tooth and my love for all things chocolate and ice cream and icing...

Dearly loved, in the present,


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Not What but Who

About once a week I find myself going about my day like my life is actually normal, then out of nowhere I am slapped in the face with the reality of my tremendous loss. I shake my head as I ask myself, "What happened to my life?"

I still find it hard to believe that the entire trajectory of my life changed in a matter of seconds. I have often asked God these past 4 months, "What are You up to, God? What are You doing? And, what am I going to do?" Lately, I have also been been bombarded with that last question from well-meaning folks, "What are you going to do now Melissa?"

My honest answer is "I don't know."

A gentle voice reminds me, it's not "what?" that I need to focus on, but "who?" This is a nugget of truth that I gleamed from my dear friend's father who lost his wife last fall. He encouraged me to continually ask the question "Who is God?" in the midst of my pain and grief.

So for the past week, this has been my prayer:
"Lord, help me to focus on who and not on what. God, when I lash out with 'what?' answer me with the Truth of who You are. When others ask me questions of 'what?' remind me of who I am in You."

It is quite fitting that I am finishing up Isaiah in my daily reading right now. I love this story of redemption for the Israelites. I love how God reveals His compassion, His strength, His unfailing love, for His chosen people. It is such a perfect picture of who my God is.

As it says in Isaiah 54:10, "Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you."

I don't know what my future holds, but I know Who holds my future. And so, I will continue to look to the One who cares more about who I am than what I do. Who I am, not what I do.

Dearly loved,

Saturday, July 17, 2010


My last entry was about the sunset. And after every sunset comes the dark, black night over the earth.

I have just returned from travels where I witnessed amazing sunsets on both the East and West Coasts. They were breath-taking, awe-inspiring, God-ordained glimpses of heaven.

Yet, they cannot divert my nightfall. I have walked into my sunset and darkness is all around.

It is dark. It is black. It is night. And I find myself surrounded by sorrow.

I so badly want the sun to come up again. How long, oh Lord, must my night last? How long? How long?

The Lord promises in Isaiah 42:16, "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."

Yes, I am confident that God and His Word is a "lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Ps. 119:105). Yet, my grief is so dense that I can only see enough to take the next step in front of me.

And I am scared (though God says to fear not).

And I feel alone (though God says He will never leave me).

And I dread each step (though I have an unshakable hope in Christ).

I dread walking through life without my Tony by my side.

Though I am like a child afraid of the dark, I must drum up enough courage to trust that the night will not harm me, that the One who created both night and day sees me in darkness and in light.

And where He leads, I will follow.

Dearly loved,


Friday, July 9, 2010

Into the sunset...

My blog comes from beautiful Seattle - my first visit here without my Tony. He absolutely loved this place, loved it, and has such dear friends here. It is bittersweet to see them and be surrounded by people and things so close to Tony's heart.

My flight over from Atlanta departed around 8 p.m. so I flew most of the way into the sunset. Toward the last hour of the flight, I sat in complete awe of God at the breath-taking colors of yellow and orange enveloping the dark blue earth below. How majestic is our God that He gives us a glimpse of heaven as the day meets the night. Tears welled in my eyes as we made our decent, the bright warm colors fading into darkness. All that remained was a small beam of light on the wing of the plane, guiding us to our destination.

This, all too well, describes my very journey into my sorrow. The first book I picked up after the accident was "A Grace Disguised" by Jerry Sittser, a journal of his grief after major loss. I only read the first two chapters because it was just too much too soon. However, I gleamed a nugget a truth that became a guiding principle in my own grief. He talks about how he was faced with a choice early on whether or not to intentionally walk into his sorrow. He described it as walking into the sunset. Either he could face his darkness head on or run the opposite way and have it hit him on the other side. His grief was unavoidable, but it was up to him whether he confronted it or delayed it, only to have it manifest in other ways later.

I, too, made the choice to walk into my sunset, and the darkness that quickly ensued. It was one of the most painful decisions I have ever had to make. As much as I want to escape into the daylight, I continue to walk straight ahead. And just like that tiny light on the outside of the plane, there are glimpses of light along my journey to give me enough hope to carry on. It is God reminding me that He alone is my guide, my shepherd, leading me safely to the morning light.

As Psalm 30:5 says, "...weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning..."

My morning might not come soon, but I must trust that dawn will one day break through. Until then, I'll think on the beauty of the sunset from that plane high above, for that is the God-sized view that I cannot see from the earth below.

Dearly loved, from a sunset,

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Freedom and Fireworks...

Call me un-American, but I don't like fireworks. I say that as I hear them pop just down the street. As a child I was so terrified, I would force my mom to hold my ears every 4th of July when the fireworks started. I'm not sure what was worse, the fear that they would come down and burn me, or the obnoxiously loud noise.

Tony used to laugh at me as I cringed at the sound of them, and I would joke about making him hold my ears too. It's another holiday without him. I decided to forgoe the 4th festivities all together this year (with the exception of my mom's yummy ribs). I don't need festivities to celebrate what the day is all about - freedom.

I would make a terrible soldier. The sound of gunshots and explosives are way too much for my sensitive ears. That makes me all the more grateful for the men and women who do put themselves in harms way. They fight for our freedom and protect our country so that I don't have to.

Thank you, soldiers, thank you. Those words seem insufficient for the tremendous sacrifice you make day after day.

I stood in church this morning and thanked my God for the freedom we have to worship Him in this country, and for the freedom that we have in Christ. Galations 5:1 says, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery." Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for our sin by dying on the cross. Just like our soldiers, He paid the price for freedom so that we didn't have to.

Thank you, Jesus, for setting us free.

Dearly loved, and free,