Thirsty Thursday: Beyond Death

This is my second year reading through the Bible. I’m not reading it for the second time. I’m not even halfway through the Bible. I’m slowly but surely reading through the Bible while still getting the most out of my reading.

The past several days I’ve been meditating on a phrase from the final verse of Psalm 48:

that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever. Psalm 48:14 emphasis mine

He will guide us forever.

Isn’t that beautiful?

Forever is such an interesting word. For me and my finite human brain, the word forever is ethereal and poetic. It is almost like a pretend, made up word. What does forever really mean? What does forever feel like?

There was a reference beside the word forever in the text, so I had to look at what was written about this beautiful phrase. The footnote read: Septuagint; another reading is (compare Jerome, Syriac) He will guide us beyond death

Beyond death!

Now that really resonates with me. I am no stranger to death. I have had numerous loved ones die. I see death in the changing of the seasons. I also see death in more banal ways such as light bulbs going out and the blackening of my phone’s screen.

God will guide us beyond death! That is exciting. That gives more meaning to our life after this one. It also gives us reassurance that our trust exercises in this life on earth will help us in the next. God will be guiding us through it. No matter what we’re going through in this life or the circumstances we meet in the next, God is leading us. Jesus told us He would always be with us even to the end of the age, and it is even more comforting to know that God is guiding us from this life into the next.

A Birthday Letter to My Son in Heaven

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!

One year ago today, you were born into heaven. I wish I could be there to celebrate with you. I know you are celebrating with our Father and my grandparents, Daddy’s grandfather whom he misses dearly, my uncle, your great uncle also born into heaven, my friends’ children born into heaven, and most recently a baby girl named Evelyn. You are so loved there. I want you to know that you are loved here as well.

After I lost you, one of my friends asked me what your name was and I didn’t have an answer for her. I asked Daddy and he didn’t have a name for you in mind. I looked at a calendar and noticed that the first letters in the months from July to November spelled “Jason.” I thought that was interesting and I immediately looked up its meaning (name meanings are important to your father and me). It means “Healer.” Even though at the time I was completely broken from losing you, “Healer” seemed to fit. I had no idea why at the time. Your Daddy liked it and we agreed: Jason Harris.

Months later, I spoke to a woman who needed to talk to someone. I listened to her. She talked to me with an air of contempt. How could I understand what she was going through? How could I realize the depth of her hurt? Did I even know pain? I told her about you. I told her that I almost died losing you. I told her that there were times I felt the crushing weight of guilt for surviving. I told her that I didn’t understand why you had to die and I got to live. I told her that I was confused and lost and ached almost continually. She cried. I told her that even though I didn’t understand, I KNEW God loves me. God has a plan. I told her that God’s love for me, what He did for me by sending Jesus to die on the cross, was the only thing that got me through the day. She cried harder. I prayed with her.

God used you to bring healing to that situation.

I don’t fully understand the cloud of witnesses and I don’t know if God allowed you to see that moment, but I wanted you to know. I am not holding a five month old in my arms. I am, however, holding you in my heart. You will always be a part of me. I know Cupcake will be so excited when she meets you in heaven. She wanted me to have another baby so badly. Your brother is too little to understand, but I know he will be happy to meet you and have a best friend waiting for him in heaven.

Thankfully, I asked God to give me a vision about whether or not I was pregnant. I took a pregnancy test that confirmed it before God gave it to me, so I wasn’t expecting one from Him. He gave me one anyway. He showed you to me. A baby with brown hair the same shade as his Daddy’s, with a smushy face, wearing a blue onesie. Just like the first time I saw Cupcake and like the vision God gave me about being pregnant at your uncle’s wedding, I will always treasure the vision of you in my heart.

I love you,

Mommy

Thirsty Thursday: A Word on Pain

Hunny and I have been through more hardships in the almost six years we’ve been married than the average person experiences in a lifetime. There have been times when I wondered why God kept allowing pain into our lives. I wondered why God did not intervene on our behalf.

But He did.

By allowing pain in our lives, God has shaped Hunny and me into more compassionate people. We are more loving people. We are more forgiving people. How could we be reflections of our Father in heaven without being loving, forgiving, and compassionate? It would be impossible.

Paul wrote to the Romans:

For I consider the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us! Romans 8:18 (Amplified Bible)

Paul knew a thing or two about pain. He was shipwrecked, stoned, beaten, and jailed. He felt like his sufferings were nothing compared with knowing Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:8).

Besides, I am not the only person on the planet going through a hard time. The Bible says that as Christians, we should bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). How can we help someone else if we’ve never been through difficulty? How can we support someone, how can we show God’s love to someone, how can we encourage someone if our lives are always perfect? Who would be able to relate to us? No one.

You may be going through a difficult time in your life. Look at it as the blessing it truly is, because when this storm is over, you’ll be able to help someone else through their storm. God will use you to be His arms to hug, His feet to go, and His mouthpiece to speak life and truth and love.

Thirsty Thursday: The Lesson

Sometimes the lessons we think are for others are actually for us.

Cupcake disobeyed and had to be punished. We were in the car and I explained that when we were home, she would be punished. As we were approaching home, I felt like God wanted me to punish Hunny in her place.

Wow! What a great picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross! I thought.

Once home, I whispered to Hunny the plan and he loved it. Pointing people to Jesus is such a thrilling experience. Especially when you know that it is something out of the ordinary.

Cupcake understood that Hunny was receiving her punishment. She didn’t seem moved when Hunny explained that Jesus took our place on the cross. She did not seem effected at all. But that lesson wasn’t for her. It was for me.

It was excruciating to punish Hunny. He had done nothing wrong. Cupcake disobeyed. As he was being punished, I was torn up inside. Afterward, I just cried and cried. Punishing Hunny instead of Cupcake was a picture of what God went through when Jesus died on the cross. Because Jesus was the sacrifice, we always look at it from His perspective. He was beaten beyond recognition, He was flogged, He was spat upon, He had a crown of thorns hammered into His skull, and He was hammered into the cross. But what about God?

Imagine you’re at a trial. A criminal broke into your house, beat the person you love the most within an inch of their life, stole all your possessions, burned your house down, and left your beloved for dead in the burning house. The judge says this person is to be executed. You stand up. “Execute my beloved in their place.”

That isn’t the half of what the Maker of heaven and earth went through so that you could have the chance of an eternal life with Him and freedom. He went through the pain of losing a part of Himself for you.

God loves you.

He wants you.

He went through literal hell for you.

You are worth it to Him.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa

My Grandfather is 89 years old today. That may not seem like a big deal to you or anyone else for that matter, but it’s a huge deal to me.

While I was waiting for Hunny to pick me up from Jury Duty (Yeah, I had Jury Duty and didn’t tell you. I don’t tell you everything, you know!), I saw a World War II Memorial. I read the names and saw a familiar one, William Harris. William Harris gave his life for our country. Another William Harris, my Grandfather, fought overseas and survived. It blew me away. My Grandfather survived, came back home, took a government job, met my Nana, married her, raised a family, and currently lives in Florida.

What if he hadn’t survived? Who would my Nana have married? Would she have married? Would the child she had instead of my father marry my mother? Who would their children have been?

Not only that, but consider this: my Grandfather’s younger brother lied about his age to join the armed forces and fight in World War II. He felt he had a better chance fighting overseas than fighting at home with their alcoholic father. Enlisted in the Navy, as was my Grandfather, his boat was bombed by the Japanese Air Force. There were no survivors. Robert was only 16.

My Grandfather’s youngest brother is no longer living. He died years ago. He warned my grandparents that his wife and her family were trying to kill him. He died the next day.

Something else that makes my Grandfather’s long life an insanely huge deal is that he has Alzheimer’s Disease. He was diagnosed over ten years ago. He lives alone and his closest family members live ten to twelve hours away. He has an active social life. He recently wrote to me saying he finally wants to move from a house into a condo. Alzheimer’s hasn’t seemed to slow him down, even though it slowly and maliciously tortured my Grandmother for years.

My Grandfather and I aren’t close. He never remembers my birthday. He obviously doesn’t know I have a blog. But if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be here. If he had died after my father had been born, I wouldn’t be the same person. He helped mold my father who helped to mold me. Since the incident, I am acutely aware of how precious life is and how tomorrow is never promised. Whether or not I see my next birthday, I am so thankful that my Grandfather turns 89 today.

The Incident

I’ve been watching The Apartment recently. It was co-written and directed by my birthday buddy Billy Wilder, and it is one of my favorite films. It addresses multiple issues with frankness and heart. It takes place during the holidays and there’s an attempted suicide. They should play this movie on TV on a loop during Christmas so that people can see suicide is not the answer.

My favorite scene (at this point in my life) is a pivotal one for the story. Baxter asks Fran what she thinks of his hat. She claims to like it, but her thoughts are elsewhere and he doesn’t believe her. Fran hands him her compact to prove that it looks nice. When he peers into it, he sees that the mirror inside is cracked. The cracked compact reveals to Baxter that Fran is in a secret relationship with their boss. She notices the dismay on his face and asks about it. He tells her it’s because the mirror is broken. Then she utters a line of dialogue that echoes my current situation:

Yes, I know. I like it that way. It makes me look the way I feel.

I feel broken. I feel ugly. I feel fat. I feel like a failure and a loser. I feel incompetent and untalented. I feel depressed. I feel these things in part because of the incident.

In case you didn’t know, I lost my second son on January 29th and I almost went with him. I don’t want to talk about it, because I don’t want to relive it. I will never completely get over this, but I know that over time, I will hurt less. Maybe I’ll be able to share it with you. Right now I’m dealing with survivor’s guilt and it is taking all that I have to even write this post. But I am going to force myself to move forward, to allow myself to grieve, and to check in with you guys more often. Here is a piece of cinematic genius until then:

A (Slightly) Morbid Valentine

I had planned on posting about making sugar cookies for my snowed in neighbors. I had planned to blog about Random Acts of Kindness and how kindness is needed. But my father-in-law called. Hunny’s Aunt is in the hospital. She may or may not be having a heart attack. His Aunt has five children and has been their sole parent since being widowed this past summer.

My maternal Grandmother died suddenly in September 2009. I never got to tell her goodbye. I was unable to attend her funeral. Despite these grim facts, I know she knew that I loved her. How do I know this? I was the only grandchild who sent her a Mother’s Day card that year. I know this because my mother told me she made a big deal about it in a phone conversation they had.

I almost died this year. On January 29th, I started bleeding. I bled so much that I passed out in the bathroom at home. I bled so much that I lost Yeeyum’s brother. I bled so much that I passed out in the ER. I bled so much that I needed more than four bags of fluid. I almost bled to death. But I didn’t.

When I thought I would die, I did not have any regrets in regards to my relationships. My husband knows I love him. We don’t have the finances to go on lavish trips, regular dates, or buy each other nice presents, but he still knows that I love him. Yeeyum is almost fifteen months old. He knows, as much as he can, that I love him. Cupcake and the rest of family know that I love them. My friends know that I love them, too. Even people I don’t care for know that I love them (Because I do love them. Because God loves them.)

No one is guaranteed tomorrow. If there is anyone in your life who you haven’t told you love, tell them. If you haven’t told someone you care for them lately, find a way to show it. Someone you love may need the encouragement. Someone you know needs to hear this. Maybe you need to hear it:

You are LOVED.

 

Sometimes Drama is Not Always Where You Think It’ll Be…

Other than Hunny’s former crush wearing stripper heals and constantly tucking herself back into her dress, the baby shower was not the treasure trove of material I was expecting.  When crazy party people have baby showers, you don’t expect it to be a low key, quiet kind of event.  But it was.

Something else happened.  Hunny’s Uncle had a heart attack and died.  I immediately cried upon hearing the news.  Cupcake, being three, had no idea what was so sad about a person dying.  I hope she doesn’t understand why death is sad for a long, long time.

The funeral was taking place eight hours away, and I knew Yeeyum couldn’t handle the drive.  He barely made four hours in the car and that was seriously pushing it.  So Hunny went alone with his siblings to be with extended family.  We drove forty five minutes to meet the siblings.  On the way there, Hunny told me that he was too worn out to drive on the way there and he hoped to only drive on the way back.

Hunny and I have never been apart.  Except during the day when he was gainfully employed.  Being gainfully searching for work allows one to be home on a regular basis.  I’m used to him being around almost 24/7.  You would think being around a person that much would drive you absolutely insane, but it hasn’t.  Yes, sometimes I want to run screaming.  But I never do.

A terrible thunderstorm broke out on the way back home.  The black clouds made the rain gray and the wipers going full speed made no difference.  I had to stop in a neighboring city to wait it out.  Hunny and I are texting back and forth.  Then I get back on the road home and let Hunny know that we made it home ok.

I keep getting “Love you” and “Miss you” texts without any indication that these might not be from Hunny.  Do you see where this is going?  So I text back how much I miss him and love him and that I made a mistake and I should have gone anyway because I couldn’t bare to be without him.  I got “Cool” back.  I thought that was odd, but he’s not the most astute texter and I overlooked it.  After sending a prelude to an amorous text I get, “Sorry this is Broseph cuz Hunny is driving…”

WHAT THE HECK?!?!?!

As my friend said, who I immediately freaked out about it to, “That is not cool.”  Um, hello, I don’t love my Broseph.  He’s cool and all, but no.  Why did Hunny have Broseph text me?  After that I haven’t really text him ‘Love you” today because I don’t know who is reading it!  After one such lovey text, I just wrote, “Ditto.”  Yeah.  That’s all you get from me now.

By the way, Hunny has let Broseph the Sequel answer his phone when I’ve called him & I’ve said, “Hey {Insert Embarrassing Lovey Nickname Here} only to hear, “This is Broseph the Sequel.”  Both Hunny and Broseph the Sequel laughing hysterically.  Then I had phone calls from Hunny that were actually Broseph the Sequel trying to pretend to be Hunny.  Dude!  If Hunny weren’t so cute, I’d never answer his calls or texts.  But I can’t.  That would be like ignoring this:

It’s not Yeeyum, but still AH-Dorable!

Seriously, though.  Who puts up with stuff like that?  I love Hunny too much.  I need to go to Mean Wife School or something.

Thirsty Thursday: What is Fair?

My Uncle died last year.  It’s hard to believe that last year at this time, he was with us.

My Aunt’s brother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer.  He went through chemotherapy and it worked for him.  His hair is growing back and he seems to be healthy.  My Aunt said that she didn’t think it was fair and my mother agreed.

In my limited understanding, it is not fair that someone who loves his family, works hard, and does his best dies before he ever gets to see his granddaughter.  In my limited understanding, it is not fair that someone who uses and deals drugs recovers from chemotherapy and gets to see his family another day.  It does not look fair from this angle.

From an eternal perspective, it’s still not fair.  My Uncle knew Jesus as his Lord and Savior.  He is basking in the unimaginable glow of God’s presence as we speak.  The brother-in-law has a second chance to know the truth and to have the same eternal comfort my Uncle and Grandmother have.  Why does he get another chance?

The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  2 Peter 3:9

Contrary to what some would have you believe, God wants everyone to spend eternity in heaven.  God wants all of us to love Him and know Him.  But we have to choose Him.

Jesus told a parable (Matthew 20:1-16) about workers in a field. The Master told the workers that at the end of the day they would each receive a coin. All day people were hired to work until the day was over. At the end of the day, the workers who showed up last were given a coin.  All the workers no matter how long they worked each received a coin.  The workers who had been there since the beginning were mad that they had worked so hard all day and got the same pay as those who showed up later in the day.

It doesn’t matter when you decide to follow Christ. You can follow Him early in life or you can follow Him from your deathbed. Either way, you will spend eternity with God. God wants everyone to come to know Him. He wants all of us to repent from our sin and follow Him. He gives us chance after chance.  It’s not fair.  We don’t deserve it.  And I am so thankful and appreciative that God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:15).  If He weren’t, I don’t know where I would be.

Thirsty Thursday: Today is All You Have

Death surrounds me.

Steve Jobs’ death is not as impacting or profound in my personal life as the death of my Uncle.  But it is still a harsh blow.  Steve Jobs was born the same year as my parents.  In recent years, he has been a huge inspiration to me, not as the co-founder of Apple computers, but as the guy who helped Pixar become a company when George Lucas was willing to let it die.  Thankfully, like my Uncle, Steve Jobs is no longer suffering under cancer’s cruel reign.

My friend and fellow blogger Daniel wrote a post about Steve Jobs’ death.  He said that he always thought Steve Jobs would get better and keep creating innovative products.  That’s the problem many of us have (including and maybe foremost myself).  We incorrectly assume we have an unlimited amount of time on earth.  We don’t.  Our days are numbered.

O LORD, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!
Selah                  Psalm 39:4,5

This is meant as an inspiration to live today at its fullest.  Here is an inspiring look at life from Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”

It’s so true.  God gave you a purpose.  God gave you a specific job to do on earth.  Aside from knowing Jesus Christ as your personal savior, there is nothing more important than fulfilling God’s will for your life.  I remember hearing a pastor say, “God is not going to ask you why you weren’t more like Moses or more like your successful neighbor.  He’s going to ask you why you weren’t more like you.”  You are the only you God has created or will ever create.  You are it.  If you die today, there will never be another person with your abilities, passions, appearance, and opportunities.  Make the most of what you’ve been given, where you are, right now for His glory.

Today is all you have.