Encouragement through grief…

I only want to see Gods glory because my heart knows that that is the necessary key to my survival. The difficulty in special or non-special days will not outweigh my joy in the celebration of those that I love still here.. I celebrate through tears. This faith of mine says to count it all joy.  God never stops working on your behalf…not even in his silence.  .When I have an ongoing emotional circumstance that brings pain/anguish, I know that God’s word “pokes” peace back into my heart. It takes your mind off of the issue. The situation may not change…it may even get worse, but God is in control. He is just, & he is right. He is sovereign. I rejoice in who God is. Throughout this journey, there have been some pretty dark days. Endurance is key. Life is not fair & may not even be pleasant. Our perspectives are limited. We don’t always see the big picture of the plan. As I have experienced a deep loss, & as I continue to walk this journey of life, I must remember…to hold everything loosely, and never ever forget God’s presence through these times…..Grateful for grace, mercy, love, and faith

You don’t plan God’s plan.

July 4, 1996. Eliyah J. Linell was born. January 19, 2013 Eliyah passed away. 16 years on this earth he lived a wonderful life. I am blessed, and honored that God chose me to be his mother. Yes, God chose me. Through the easy pregnancy and even easier birth Eliyah was peace. God’s plan was that he would be born on this particular holiday although his “due” date was July 7th. I never thought that in God’s plan that would include him leaving this earth before me at such an early age.

Have you ever heard the phrase “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans?” I started hearing people say that from an early age. I don’t think it has anything to do with God actually laughing at you, rather God thinking ok, you can plan that if you want but my plan for your life will go as follows:  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. Although this scripture is used often to comfort, it is not a security blanket like Linus carries around with him.  If it’s looked at in that way one is led to believe that sufferings are not meant for them and prosperity will rule forever.  No, it is to know that we have a confidence and hope that God will be there to help in the midst of our suffering.

I think about those in the Bible who had plans. I’m sure many did not grow up thinking they would be great men and women of God. Look at the life of Job and what he and his wife endured. I don’t think he knew what was to happen in his life. That God would use him in that way.  I also did not know that God would use me in this way too. I did not know on Jan. 19th Eliyah would take his last breath here on earth. Our plans were to go to Disneyland that day.

What I can be confident in is that God knows what he is doing. He knows how to plan my life better than I ever could. No, Eliyah’s death wasn’t even a thought in my plan for my life nor his. I saw him growing up, graduating form high school, going to college getting his dream job and starting a family. I struggled to know that he would never get to do any of it. I prayed and asked God was this part of your plan? Is this your will for our lives? Is there any way to reverse or change what has happened? Do you love me?

It is difficult to imagine anyone loving Eliyah more than I do, but God does. He understands the depth of my love for him. He still watches over every single detail of my life. What is important to me, is important to him. All of this is true, yet I still grieve, I still mourn. I ignore those that say move on because it’s been X amount of time. I use the date of Eliyah’s passing as a grid to pass everything across.

I don’t have the luxury of planning out God’s plans. Some would get into the debate of was it his plan for him to die so soon? What is God’s role in suffering? Why did he allow this to happen? All questions of deep and painful complexity.  I know that I must engage in the realities of human life. In all its grace, and grief. The love of God still shines in my life. No matter what, God does have a plan, and it is always good. Faith in his plan isn’t believing that what I want goes. Knowing that he is Sovereign and loves me and draws us to fulfill his plan for our lives no matter what.

So, no I nor you get to plan God’s plan. We are not in charge.  Do you find yourself asking God why? when things are good, and you just sit back and enjoy, and then only ask him why when bad things happen? This is what I will end with. God’s plan for your life will never ever outstrip the grace he makes available to help us and enable us to live well. There is no promises of escape of struggles, sorrow, or pain. Jesus himself said “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. ” (John 16:33)

 

Endings and New Beginnings

2018 is ending and 2019 is beginning. A new year is upon us and for some around the world it has already entered. I’ve seen social media posts where many say, ” I’m stepping into the new year like, or I’m flying into the new year like, Or this is me in the new year” with pictures an memes to match. What are people thinking when they do this? Is a new year really a new slate wiped clean, or is it just another day after another day with a different date? Well, it means different things to different people. For many the end of the year is reflection to what was accomplished, what resolutions were completed, and perhaps what goals were made. For others it’s a reflection to what maybe was lost, a recap on failures and what goals you did not meet.  Growing up I know people who fast for a new and better self in January. Nothing wrong with that. If it will make you better and bring you closer to God then so be it. But I encourage you to do what God leads you to do.

I don’t make Resolutions. Rather I pray and write down my goals that I’d like to accomplish. I’ve had people say to me ” This will be the best year yet!” I ask how do you know? It could be my worst year yet. I sound like a Debbie Downer right? well, it’s really according to your faith. What I hope is that every year will be better than the year before. but sometimes very painful things happen to us. My faith still says it is well. It may not look like this is the best year, and may definitely not feel like it but it is well. Since Eliyah’s passing I value words more with intent. So what do I say for 2019? It will be whatever God’s will is for me. I know that I have many prayers, plans, goals, desires, will they all be fulfilled in this upcoming year? Well, I dont know. My faith says blessing will continue. I hold on to what is true. God is not absent in my sorrow. God loves me, and his word is true.

 Next year, and every year to come tell yourself that you will apply an antidote to what ever you face. Have a hope. Stretch your faith. This year 2018 is ending ready or not. Be inspired, look for nuggets of joy, gather up and be motivated. A small step is still a step. Tell me what you think? What do you say or do in the New year?

Onward!!!!! Happy New Year to you!

Boundaries in Grief

The thing about grief is that what is true always changes.  My life since Eliyah’s passing hasn’t become easier, it’s become more complex.  I set on a search for balance, which included setting some much needed boundaries.  Friends, family have this idea of how you should be. It’s their perception of how you should grieve. For example, ” You’re too happy today, shouldn’t you be more sad? ” Or “you sure are sad don’t forget to smile it’s been almost ( insert time here).”  People unintentionally will fault you or bring guilt because they perceive it should look a certain way. I was and am determined to not fall into that trap.  Grief looks different for me than it does for anyone else. Grief is unique. I had to talk to the Lord about this often.  Smiling…. I felt how can I do this when he is not here to enjoy? I felt I was betraying Eliyah who was not here.  Sadness… does Eliyah really want me to be so sad? I searched for moments yes moments of enjoyment.  I wasn’t going crazy, I was grieving.  There are so many layers to grief. I experienced people saying extremely insensitive things to me.  It’s like did that really come out of your mouth??? You can’t wrap your mind around it. But what matters the most is not what is said to me or about me but my response. What is my reaction? What are my thoughts towards this person? They don’t understand my pain, or maybe they are trying to avoid their own pain, They speak without thinking etc.  Whatever the reason may be has nothing to do with me.  What was helpful to me was not to respond. Yep, keep my mouth shut and when necessary remove and isolate myself from the source.  You think, am I not going through enough without the extra nonsense of people?? yet God was reminding me that even in grief he will get the glory.  I had to forgive…Cry out to God to help me because this is hard.. Job said ” I have heard many things  like these; miserable comforters are you all.  (Job 16:1-2). Can you even imagine??  How frustrating it was to listen sometimes.   I had to in my anger and sometimes confusion forgive.  I could not allow bitterness to take root in my heart towards these individuals. Did I get mad? Yep…. I sure did.  I could not believe that people I knew would behave in that manner or from a different perspective those that vanished, disappeared, went ghost, that simply could not handle or face our loss did that…. I though they would be near to my family and instead they were not.  Again dealing with the many layers of grief.  Recently, I sat with a young woman who recently lost her teenage son. Part of our conversation, she told me she visits the cemetery every day. I said to her you must do what gives you peace. She said her sister asks her “Why do you go there, he’s not there!” She said she knows but it’s something she has to do for now for herself..  I told her if going to the cemetery for the last month since his passing brings you healing, then that’s what you do. You can not be pressured into grieving how your sister feels or wants you to, or anyone else for that matter. I said people mean well for the most part, but going to his gravesite helps you and that is all that matters.  Well meaning, well-intentioned people, has caused me to pray more. They do not understand my pain, and nor should I expect them too. My expectations have to stay in check and I have to focus on what is crucial and beneficial to my healing. Having and keeping my boundaries. It always points back to the Lord.  I was reminded a couple of days ago that God’s Sovereignty is over my situation. He is in absolute total control which means I can trust and lean on him through my pain. I hope and pray that you can do this as well.

The Fixer

Good morning.  Have you ever called someone to come and fix something in your home? Or maybe took your car to the mechanic to have something fixed? Maybe your like so many I know including myself that can fix stuff around the house, and with channels on you tube you can just do it yourself.  There is a cartoon called Bob the builder.  His motto is “Can we fix it? Yes we can!”  I work in television and film and on a sitcom all the problems are solved in 30 minutes right? It’s quick.  As a mother I have fixed many of things. I’ve hemmed pants, sewn buttons on, solved problems around the house, super glue at times has been my best friend. I have fixed “boo-boo’s” with band aids, I’ve even as some say fixed dinner.(laugh)  Yet, on Jan. 19, 2013 as my son laid lifeless his bed,  I couldn’t fix him. I couldn’t change what had already happened. I couldn’t reverse this.  I wasn’t able to sit him on my lap and tell him everything will be ok.  I couldn’t fix this tragic, terrible, thing. I was no longer the fixer….. I could not wipe the tears away with a tissue and make this ok. No amount of super glue, crazy glue, gorilla glue, tape, band-aids, nails, putty, or any other adhesive was going to hold my heart from the billions of pieces it had broken into.  Honestly, I’ve never felt such pain in my life. Several times after his funeral I found myself at the Dr.’s  office and the emergency room once because of the physical chest pain I had. I thought I was having a heart attack or something. The tests results came back each time as negative, EKG was nice and normal. The doctors could not fix my broken heart. There was a pain there that could not be detected with machines. It could not be detected or helped with medication to make it feel better or go away.  As a child, I used to hear the term “Jesus will fix it” someone even made it into a song. When you are facing a monumental challenge what does that mean? What does Jesus will fix it really mean? I needed real answers. I could not focus on my hurt or my problem in order to get these answers. I had to rely on my faith.  I could not leave my faith behind. I had to trust that God would show up.  I was suffering, in pain, and needed help.  What I had to understand was that even the most damaged, broken, unimaginable situation that I or anyone else could go through including the death of a child was not to hard for Jesus to heal.  Who is God in character? He is for me and this is the truth. So it means that with my sorrow and pain I can’t be the center, he must be. Eliyah’s death had to be looked at from a different set of eyes. Yes my heart was bleeding out, but I know that God is persistently consistent and apart from him I could fix nothing!!!  This is how my healing would be. This wasn’t going to be a neat little pretty package that all works out just fine and dandy, and end in a fairytale happily ever-after.  In this “fixing” of it all would require me to know that my faith must continue to render that God is always Good. Always.  This wasn’t going to be a sitcom fix as mentioned above. It was going to be a lifelong journey.  A journey of remembering who God is through my faith, knowing that he cares for me. I didn’t have to be a fixer any more. I can quiet the sound of the hurt and let hope and faith resonate the loudest.  His power alone can handle and manage it all.. What a healing to my hurt to know this.    Love Always Wins!!

An Empty Chair

I remember the first day of school for all my children. Since preschool I’ve taken that first day photo like many other parents. Now, over the years I’ve watched parents get elaborate thanks to fantastic websites like Pinterest.  Eliyah passed on a Saturday morning just shortly after returning to school from a 3 week holiday for Christmas break.  I know the first Monday after his passing, was extremely hard for his friends, peers, and teachers. The school did a very special memorial over the PA system. He was the anchor and the face in the morning  for GVTV. They too did a special announcement for their fallen friend. That was the first day of his empty chair. Each class he was in had an empty chair and a very real realization that he was gone….. An empty chair in Band, English, Math, History, Lunch, etc.

          I also had empty chairs.  I remember looking back in my driver’s seat in my van and seeing where he sat most of the time. I had to walk by my dining room every day and see the dining room chair that he would no longer sit in. The couch, his bedroom on his bed, my room, everywhere that I ever saw him sit would now be empty……It took a while to not see his face looking back at me while I stood in the kitchen and watched him eat. I remember funny times where he would eat the biggest bowl of cereal and I’d ask did he save some for the rest of us and we’d just laugh!!!

          Eliyah was a Junior in High School.   The first day of what would have been his Senior year, I was a wreck. My daughter was going to be a Junior now and my other daughter Second Grade. Once again faced with the agony of sadness for one and joy for the 2 others. It’s the craziest feeling.  Smiling while crying.  That year was the hardest for me. The place where he would’ve taken his back to school photo was empty…. All of his friends/peers were participating in Senior activities. Homecoming, Prom, and all else that comes along with it.  I dropped off my oldest daughter at school one day and saw the seniors in cap and gowns outside prepping to take their senior photo… I lost it. I don’t even know how I drove home. My heart felt that missing piece!!!! I did not attend what would’ve been his high school graduation but many told me they honored him and gave a moment of silence.   It was so difficult and sometimes heart wrenching to see birthday announcements, and graduation announcements from others. I know they didn’t send to be vindictive towards me but dang, didn’t they know how much I was hurting? The truth is no. They were doing what most do, go on with their lives.  I told people that he had already experienced the greatest graduation that one day all of us living for Christ will. He is in Heaven and nothing would ever top that. That’s what my Spirit celebrated. That’s what my faith shouted to me. But my human, motherly side said this sucks…..

          Many parents that are grieving are seeing the empty chair for the very first time.. This is the time of the year which we call back to school and many kids didn’t make it over the summer to enter this school year.   If you know someone who has or is experiencing the empty chair give grace. A listening ear is encouraged. No one is looking for you to be the hero, just be present. It’s a challenge to see other kids grow, change, have new experiences, develop, while you will forever miss those milestones. Be gentle, and show kindness. To my fellow members of the club no one wants to be in,  continue to celebrate the memories. Honor your child the best way you can.   Acknowledge all of the beautiful moments you shared. Healing is taking place. Be kind to yourself. There is no timeline, no manual.  Say your child’s name and express the love within!!!!! Amen!!!!!!

 

Morning Inspiration

Throughout the Bible God has taken broken people and raised them to a higher place to illustrate his power, his love, his grace, and his mercy. We do not know the level of our faith until it is tested. We must believe and trust that God will deliver you from your current circumstance. And with the understanding that he will deliver you on his time not yours. Peace will come. I will say it again, Peace will come!!!  Let go of your circumstances and let God address it. Your responsibility is to keep the faith, stay positive, work towards achieving your goals, and be an example for others.   Amen.