Friday, April 25, 2014

I Will Praise You in This Storm

                                           I cried myself to sleep last night.

    When I laid down I was not ready to fall asleep.  My mind immediately went to Kyle.  Oh how I miss my baby boy.  It amazes me how I can so deeply miss someone I never truly met.  Yes, I carried him.  Yes, I held him and sang to him.  But he was not there.  He did not hear me.  I never got to see him smile.  But oh how my heart still aches when I think of him. 
    I've heard over and over again, "You are so strong." I understand why people say this. I've "handled it pretty well" considering what I've lost.  I can not, however, take one ounce of credit for any strength you've seen in me.  You may have read my encouraging posts on Facebook, or seen my smile when I mention him in public.  Some of you have heard me give God all the praise for the life and death of sweet little Kyle.  While these things are true and sincere, that is only a part of it. 
    While it is getting easier every day, and my "moments" are fewer and farther between, I am still in the midst of grief and healing.  I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression.  I want to be real and I want you to understand the whole picture.  I still lock myself in my room, clutching his picture to my chest, sobbing.  Sometimes in restaurants I have to fight the tears.  I've even excused myself to the car to pull it together, because even though we're all there, I'm overwhelmed by the fact that a very special person in our family is missing and the people around us don't even know it.  I have to force myself to not let my mind go to  "what if" territory.  What if Kyle had lived?  I would have a 7 month old baby today.  Wow has it really been 7 months!  Has it only been 7 months?  It seems like yesterday....  It seems like a lifetime ago. 
    In the middle of these moments I always wish that my doorbell would ring and that a friend would just happen to stop by and be able to share my moment with me.  Or maybe my phone would ring and someone could cry with me and listen to me and tell me it's okay.   To date that's never happened.  And though I physically have no one to hug me or soothe me I am always pulled out and brought to a place of praise and thanks.  Without even trying, these moments always send me to prayer.  I believe that's because of the ever growing relationship I have with my Savior.  He knows what I need.  He can bring me there even when I don't think to go there myself.  I wrote a few entries in a journal in the weeks after Kyle's death.  I titled one of them "Prayer is my Pain Medicine".  Drugs took care of the physical pain, but nothing could touch the emotional hurt.  Nothing except prayer.  One of my favorite hymns is "What a Friend We Have in Jesus".  The line that always gets me the most is:
"Oh what peace we often forfeit.  Oh what needless pain we bear. 
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer."
    It is so true.  God is faithful to hear us and help us when we admit we can't do it without him.  God DOES sometimes give us more than we can handle!  But he promises he will never leave us and that means he'll handle it with us and sometimes for us.  We just have to ask Him!  If He were not holding me and helping me and speaking to me and if he had not prepared me for this, I would be confused..... helpless....... angry....... hopeless.  But in those moments when I can't do it, I'm sobbing, I don't know how to make the hurt stop, I call out to him begging him to help me.  And He is always faithful.  He begins to speak to my heart.  He reminds me of these promises.....    He's got my baby boy.  I'll see him again.  We'll spend eternity together.  Kyle's life and death has great purpose for the kingdom of God.  He will never leave me to deal with this on my own.  He's just a prayer away. 
    I woke up with the song "Praise You in This Storm" on my heart.  I thank God over and over for Christian music.  Sometimes I don't know what to say, but a song can be the perfect prayer for a situation that I'm dealing with.  Not only a praise to God, but a reminder and encouragement for me.
    I want you to know that I'm not sharing this for sympathy.  I don't want you to feel sorry for me.  I just can't help but share because I feel like God is teaching me so much through this experience.  I don't believe he set out to teach me a lesson, but rather the things I'm learning are just some of the blessings that are coming from an extremely difficult trial that I've had to endure.  I could choose to ignore them.... the good things that are happening during this heartache.  I could selfishly focus on how much this has hurt me and how unfair this has been.  But I would be missing the blessing of God's goodness and mercy and grace and presence in my life.  I will choose to praise God in this storm!  And I know He will be faithful to show up in the midst of it!           

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Letting it Go

   This past weekend we enjoyed dinner with some friends and our new pastor and his family.  At one point in the conversation we were talking about incorporating popular songs into the Sunday service.  The song "Let it Go" from Disney's Frozen was mentioned.  I'm sure it was a joke (maybe), but it did make me wonder.  Today I decided to listen to it again, choosing Demi Lovato's version, as I had never heard it before.  Imagine my surprise when I heard what could very well be my testimony in the words to this very popular Disney tune.  My story of letting go of the things that were preventing me from finding true freedom in Christ.
    Now I know this may sound crazy to many people, but to make sure I wasn't reaching too far I listened to it again and again and again.  Every time it was there.  I think the easiest way for me to explain this is to break it down for you.  Below are the lyrics, as sung by Demi Lovato, and I'll insert my interpretation of how the lyrics speak to me.  (I've deleted the repeated lyrics.)

 "Let It Go"

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight,
Not a footprint to be seen.
A kingdom of isolation and it looks like I'm the queen.

(I don't know about being a queen, but I've spent years feeling isolated from the church family I was sort of, kind of a part of.  For years I really didn't feel like I belonged.)
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside.
Couldn't keep it in, Heaven knows I tried.

(I secretly had a spiritual battle raging inside of me. The time came when I could no longer ignore it.)   

Don't let them in, don't let them see,
Be the good girl you always had to be.

(On the outside I tried so hard to be the good christian girl I was expected to be.  Being a preacher's kid from a "good" family comes with a lot of pressure.)
Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know.
(I was afraid for people to know the questions I had about spiritual matters.  I didn't want them to be misunderstood for doubt or unbelief.)
Well, now they know.
(The secret's out!  I have many different beliefs and convictions than some of my friends and family.)

Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore

(I can't hold back this new found freedom in Christ!)
Let it go, let it go
Turn my back and slam the door

(God opened a new door for me and I had to walk through and slam it behind me.  The past is in the past!)
And here I stand and here I'll stay
(I'm not going back to the way it was!)
Let it go, let it go
The cold never bothered me anyway

(This is what I tell myself since I always claimed to hate cold weather and I now live in Colorado.  Ha!)

It's funny how some distance makes everything seem small
(Being far away allows us to put aside our differences.  It's not important.)  
And the fears that once controlled me can't get to me at all.
(I'm no longer afraid of the fact that I don't have the exact same beliefs and convictions as the people in my past.  I'm free from the expectations!)
Up here in the cold thin air I finally can breathe.
(Yes the air is cold and thin in Colorado, but oddly enough I feel more myself here and more at home than I did "back home.")
I know I left a life behind but I'm too relieved to grieve.
(I did leave many things I loved behind, but the pros in this new life outweigh the cons.  I can not dwell on the things I left behind.  I choose to anticipate the things God has in store!)

Standing frozen
In the life I've chosen,
You won't find me.

(I refuse to stand still and be comfortable.  I love this new life, but I'm available to go where ever God sends me.  No matter where that is.  He brought me here and it's been an amazing, life changing experience.  I'm not going to deny myself what He has in store for me by refusing to move!)
The past is all behind me
Buried in the snow.
Let it go

    I'm not trying to turn this song into something it's not.  It's great all on its own.  I was just struck by how closely it told the story of events in my own life.  It's just a glimpse of what God has done in my life during the past few years.  A taste of my testimony.  To share everything He has done for me would take way too long to write in a blog post.  But I love to share in conversation.  God seems to have given me a desire to tell people what He's doing in me.  Where He's brought me from, and where He's brought me to.  Why did I share my Disney princess song testimony interpretation with you?  Honestly, I don't know.  I guess it just spoke to me, and I love to share.
Take a minute to listen to Demi.  See if you can find your testimony in the lyrics.