Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Even in THIS?

A year ago on this day, we received a phone call telling us that our 2-year-old granddaughter was being airlifted to the Mayo Clinic after a tragic accident. She later died. If you want more details about the events, I wrote about that experience here.

But, as anyone who has experienced any kind of loss knows, the grief isn't done when the events are over. Not by a long shot! Any time a "memory" of Raelyn pops up on Facebook, tears fill my  eyes. Whenever we talk about Disney World (we were there at the time of her death), a veil of sadness covers the good memories. Her birthday. Christmas without her. And just random waves of sadness.

Any of these things can trigger the grief. You never "get over it." I'm sure most of you know this truth. Today I am living in the season of Raelyn's death, and memories of her keep coming to me...

Into this sadness come the quotidian events of this day: brushing teeth, going for a walk, having school, playing with friends... Each one has connections to grief. But when my daily Bible devotional said "Give thanks in all things," I rebelled. I couldn't imagine begin able to give thanks for the death of our sweet granddaughter!

I've prayed often today. I've tried to wrap my brain and heart around "Give thanks in all things" and finally I realized...

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "Give thanks in all circumstances," not "Give thanks for all circumstances."

So, I'm not expected to give thanks for Raelyn's death, I'm supposed to give thanks even though Raelyn died.

And I can do that. I am thankful that she was in our lives. She was funny, sweet, loving, sassy, and adorable. She was well-loved. Her organ donation saved at least two lives. Her family seems to be holding together and living well, even after her death.

And even though I'm sad today, I am thankful for my life, my family, the beautiful place we live, my friends... I am thankful for the faith that God has graciously given to me. And I am grateful to know that Rae is with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Joy of Jerusalem

This piece is for sale: $225
My husband and I are reading Nehemiah right now. We started the habit of reading the Bible together each evening more than eight years ago. I can't remember how many times we've read through it, but it remains a treasured tradition which brings us closer to each other and to God.

A couple of nights ago, in Nehemiah 12, we read yet another long list of difficult-to-pronounce names. Then came verse 43: And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away. (emphasis mine)

That was the last line of what we read that night:

And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.

The "joy of Jerusalem" at the time of Nehemiah was the rebuilding of the wall. But today, there is a "joy of Jerusalem" that is far, far better: Jesus.

Jesus, Emmanuel, Our Savior and Lord!

That is the joy of Jerusalem for us. The joy that overflows from knowing that we are redeemed by Jesus Christ, that we have a place before our Heavenly Father, righteous before Him by the cleansing of Jesus' sacrifice. Talk about Joy!

And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.