Archive for the ‘grief’ Category

There is a lot more to write about the ministries we saw in Kenya, but it is time to move on to the Uganda portion of our trip!

20130725-133140.jpg Adventure Village
Our first stop was Adventure Village, an orphanage our church helped build and has worked with for many years (I think we’ve sent teams there every years since 2007). We spent a few days there, helping to distribute backpacks and clothes that were collected and sent over by generous folks at our church. It didn’t matter how organized we’d been in collecting the goods (life groups were assigned different homes at the village–group members all picked one child to “sponsor”). But, unbeknownst to us, there had been a bit of a shuffle at Adventure Village, with most of the children living in different homes.

So chaos reigned, as it is so apt to do in Africa, but a joyous chaos it was as children received their gifts from afar.

20130725-133331.jpg A happy camper, waiting for his new shoes!

The highlight of our visit to Adventure Village was spending time with Resty, a young girl sponsored by our oldest daughter (who met her on that first trip in 2007, shortly after Resty had come to the orphanage). We’d met Resty three years ago, when Greg and I flew over for our youngest daughter’s wedding. In fact, Resty and a teacher from Adventure Village were able to attend the wedding and join in the fun. Resty regularly sends us letters about her life at the village–she even sent a short version of her life story recently.

20130725-133707.jpg Eating my first beans and posho with Resty

Not all of the children at Adventure Village are true orphans, Resty included. According to her account, her mother and father separated when she was young. Her mother remarried, and her husband did not want the children from the previous marriage. He beat the children (Resty had two brothers that I know of) and life was so miserable it was decided that they would go live with their father. The details are a little sketchy at this point, but their father was murdered around this time. And shortly after that, their mother brought them to the orphanage.

Losing both your parents would be a terrible trauma, but my heart breaks at the rejection and abandonment experienced by Resty and her siblings. Resty has mentioned to me several times how much it meant to her that my daughter chose her, closely following the heels of her own mother’s rejection. Even though Lindsay hasn’t been back to Africa or seen Resty since, there is an incredibly strong connection there. Such power in being chosen!

20130725-134556.jpg Resty and her brother Michael, enjoying ice cream!

My prayer for Resty–and all the “orphans” of this world–is that she would know she is chosen by her Heavenly Father. And that this truth would fill and heal her heart. It hit me hard on this trip that all the backpacks, all the shoes, all the ice cream couldn’t fill the empty part of their hearts. Sometimes I wonder if the stuff we give them even makes the emptiness worse.

There is a song that we often sing at my church, “Only You can Satisfy.” Every time I hear it, I think of Resty and all the little children I met on our travels and pray that the love of Christ will satisfy their hungry souls.


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This is another post from a few years back that gets requested often:

EmptyPlaceTableI’ve written about it before, the dull ache that grips my heart right before Thanksgiving and doesn’t let up until January 1.  There’s something about the holidays that accentuates grief and loss.

Some years are better than others.  Ramona Glory’s presence ushers in profound joy, but even little sweet pea can’t fill the empty place at the table.

And she wasn’t meant to . . .

I’ve come to embrace the ache as a gift; to see the empty spot as a reminder that we are truly just pilgrims passing through.  Jonah’s place will remain vacant until we are all gathered together at the Lamb’s wedding feast.

My heart goes out to those who will face those empty places for the first time this year.  The gatherings, the traditions, the music, the gifts . . . will all feel like nails in the coffin of the loved ones lost.  The wild grief eventually subsides, the weeping stops . . . but the ache will remain until our pilgrimage ends.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Rev. 21:4

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passing it on . . .

On Mondays, I’ve been driving up the mountain to spend a few hours with a friend who is dying. His wife has to work and feels better is there’s someone in the house with K. So I hang out for a bit, make a pot of soup and chat when he feels like talking. I head back down the mountain shortly before his hospice worker is scheduled to arrive.

My friend–and his family–have thanked me profusely for this small service. But what they don’t know is that I’m truly the one who is blessed. The opportunity to serve this family in this way will soon be lost and I consider it a privilege to be part of their journey.

As I puttered about in the kitchen on Monday, trying not to make too much noise and wake K. from his nap, I thought about the season when Greg and I were on the receiving end of such help.

And I remembered the remorseful words from a woman who declined the opportunity to serve us . . .

After our accident in 1984, Greg and I were in wheelchairs and hospital beds (set up in our bedroom) for four months. He’d sustained two broken legs and a fractured ankle, while I had fractured my left femur, broken my right lower leg and pretty much detached my knee cap. Greg’s family took turns staying with us for the first month, but our church family stepped up took on our full care when his folks finally left.
Because of the extent of our injuries–and the fact that our two surviving children were only 3 and 6 months at the time–we needed 24 hour care for several months. I don’t know who was in charge of getting all the “shifts” filled, but it must have been quite an ordeal. (Sitting with my friend on the mountain is a walk in the park compared to caring for two emotionally and physically broken adults, two small children, a cat and a very large dog).

I can’t remember the multitude of ways we were blessed during that time, but I am forever grateful. Greg and I saw the Body of Christ at its very best as His love was poured out on us through our church family. Someone converted the youth van into a handicap-accessible vehicle so we could be more easily transported to our doctor’s appointments around town. Wheelchair ramps were built at our front door and food mysteriously appeared in our fridge and pantry on a daily basis. People came and cleaned our house, paid our bills and walked our dog. One elderly woman drove us to the polls one fall day so we could vote.
Not everyone responded to the opportunity to minister to our family during that chaotic time. I know this because I ran into a very sad woman at a Ladies’ Tea I spoke at several years after our accident. She approached me after I spoke with tears in her eyes and asked me to forgive her.

“For what?” I asked, truly puzzled. I barely knew the woman and could not imagine how she might have offended me.

“For not serving your family when I had the chance,” she replied, wiping away tears. She then explained how she’d been approached to take the “night shift” with us early on in our convalesence. Several factors figured into her refusal–her busy schedule, her unease with grief and her own selfishness.

Years later, however, the Lord convicted her that she’d missed a rare opportunity to serve–and to be greatly blessed. By that time, we’d moved out of the area, but this woman had been trying to track us down ever since . . . so she could ask for our forgiveness!

I hadn’t known any of this, of course, and had no problem forgiving her. But I’ve never forgotten how grieved she was over the lost opportunity to serve. I hope she’s been able to forgive herself.

All this to say that I am the one who benefits most from my Monday visits on the mountain. I am richly blessed in the present and will have no regrets when my friend finally sheds his eartly tent.

And I’m grateful for this opportunity to pass on some of the comfort I’ve received along the way:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of al comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have recieved from God.” 2 Cor. 1:2-4

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better worlds to come

It was 23 years ago, about a year-and-a-half after our accident, that I got my first real glimpse of heaven . . .

It was a dreary winter day, typical for Sacramento, fog-shrouded and bone-aching cold. I’d snuggled down into my favorite rocking chair to nurse Candyce and read my Bible during the few moments of quiet while the older girls napped.

My Bible was still opened to 2 Corinthians, where I’d left off in my reading. I tried to dive into chapter four, but my heart just wasn’t in it that day. I’d been struggling with depression, probably a mixture of post-partum depression and plain old grief, and I ached for some comfort that even the squirming little bundle in my arms could not provide.

I missed Jonah desperately . . . I missed the smell of his soft, tanned skin when he’d run in from the backyard on a summer afternoon. I missed his sweet lilting voice (Jonah always spoke in third person: “Jonah want a drink!”) and his gorgeous blue eyes that always seemed to look far beyond me–kind of like he knew this world was not his real home.

(In fact, I wrote a song for him when he was still very young, that was strangely prophetic about his short time on earth. Part of the chorus went:
“The world can be a cruel place, when you hear a diff’rent drum–
But Jonah, there are better worlds to come.”)
The year-and-a-half since our accident had brought a lot of healing–and a new baby–into our lives, but today I just ached. Body, soul and spirit. And while I didn’t really feel motivated to dig into the Word that day, I knew that it was the only true source of comfort I’d find.

My brain felt foggy as I slogged through the first part of the chapter. When I got to verse 18, however, the fog lifted and the light of truth broke in. As the words penetrated my mind and settled into my heart, the Lord gave me a brief foretaste of heaven.:

” . . . we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporary; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

I didn’t actually see heaven, like the folks who’ve died and are heading toward the light, but God opened the eyes of my heart. As if the veil that separates heaven and earth had been temporarily rent, I could “see” Jonah, the light of eternity glistening on his golden hair as he grinned at me, and I knew that he was more real–more alive–than the baby I held in my arms! In that moment, the Father assured me that even though I’d never hold Jonah in my arms again on this planet, I would enjoy him forever in heaven.

And that changed everything for me . . .

The things that are not seen are eternal! This world is just a shadow of what’s to come–Heaven is our real home, and such a glorious homecoming awaits! To this day, I can’t sing songs about heaven without weeping. Not from sadness or heartache (although that used to be the case), but from good, old-fashioned homesickness.

Not sure what prompted me to write about this subject, but the promise of better worlds to come comforts me as much today as it did then.
And I pray it will comfort you.

For now, we see through a glass dimly, but then, we shall see Him face to face . . .

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(This is a post I wrote two years ago, and it gets more hits than any other blog I’ve written. Desperate people around the world google words like “what will Christmas be like for my child in heaven?” and other poignant phrases, trying to get a glimpse of eternity. Please know that if you’ve stumbled upon my blog in a search for comfort and hope, I am praying for you! I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me: salyne@hotmail.com)

Christmas is a bittersweet time for me. To be perfectly honest, a mild depression sets in right after Thanksgiving and doesn’t let up until the Christmas decorations are safely packed away until next December. I’m not the Grinch . . . I just really miss my son this time of year.
Jonah was born on December 6, 1984. This may sound cheesy, but I couldn’t help thinking about Mary and her newborn son as I nursed my baby boy in the glow of the Christmas tree lights that first year. All the Christmas carols about the infant Jesus held new meaning for me as I tenderly cradled my first born child.

Four Christmases later, I sat in the same rocking chair, mourning the loss of my son. Jonah had been killed in a car accident in late August. My body had pretty much healed from the injuries I’d suffered, but my heart was still hopelessly shattered. In my head, I knew that Jonah was with Jesus, perfect and whole and happy. He wasn’t autistic anymore. But my heart ached because my arms would never hold him again–not on this planet, anyway.
Greg and I numbly went through the motions of getting a Christmas tree and decorating the house that December. We baked cookies and bought presents. But it all seemed so hollow, so pointless that year. I found it difficult to celebrate the birth of Jesus as I deeply grieved for my first born son.
My manger was empty . . .
I think it was during this dark period of my life when I began to write. Paper and pen became my therapist, a channel for my soul to wrestle with its loss. One night, when the pain had become unbearable, I tried to imagine what Jonah was doing–how he was celebrating Christmas in his new home. This poem emerged as I tried to capture my imagination in words:

What’s Christmas like in heaven?
Will you hear the angels sing
Of Jesus birth–how He came to earth
As a helpless infant King?

What’s Christmas like in heaven?
Will He let you touch the star?
That shone so bright, with heavenly light
and led wise men from afar?

What’s Christmas like in heaven?
Will the wonder ever cease?
To see Him as He really is–
To know, at last, His peace?

As I visualized Jonah, sitting on Jesus’ lap and hearing Him tell the Christmas story, I was comforted somehow. I was given a new perspective–the joy of celebrating Christmas in the very presence of Christ–and it gave me a peace that quieted my heart. And got me through that first Christmas without him . . .
Twenty-two Christmases have come and gone since Jonah died, and that thought comforts me still.

To see Him as He really is–and know, at last, His peace . . .

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