My teenagers are almost finished with spring soccer games. It’s been a hard season for them in many ways, but it’s been good for them to play. It’s been good to be outside, to work hard, to let grief energize.

Sometimes it’s just good to run fast.

There’s a rhythm to the game that is joyful to watch. At the beginning of the season, they were out of shape and out of sync with their teammates. But now they know each other and work well together. Some games are full of synchronized vitality, and the rhythm of the game is a thing of beauty.

Life hums along with its springtime rhythms. The sun is rising earlier and there is more light. More color. More beauty. The daily rhythm is a comfort, and some days I can slip into it without much effort.

But some days I cannot find this new rhythm. Some days I resist it.

I think about how God put rhythm in every part of creation–the tide, the moon, the seasons, the living. How every day is different and yet the same.

And how He made us to long for both.

In many ways, my days are the same as they always were. In many ways, I am the same. Yet all is different. All is changed. The empty chair and the lingering memory of death’s shadow changes everything.

But God is there. He provides a surrounding rhythm, and the pulse of life stays steady. He provides goodness in this land of living and a continual call to look upward.

I wonder about the rhythms of heaven. The Bible tells us that there is no night there, and so I wonder about the meter of days. I’m certain there is a pleasing hum to glory-living, a beautiful pattern of time-less being.

And no darkness. No pain. No sadness. A perfect balance of peaceful light.

The beauty of rhythm is the returning pattern. With every change, you work to find the new rhythm. The pattern sings to you like the breaking of day, reminding you of order and beauty and the goodness of God.

Eventually you do not resist the returning meter of the song.

Eventually the rhythm hums inside of you–a thing of beauty.

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11










It’s meant to be hard

I find myself reaching back for before-cancer memories. The joyful skipping on the easy path before sorrow hitched a ride like a too-heavy backpack.

I always thought I would write funny stories. I thought that maybe someday when life slowed down I would write about the hilarity of life with nine children. I thought I might capture some of the joyful beauty of chaotic, noisy days.

My story–I thought it would be different than this.

Marissa thought her story would be different, too. Even after her cancer diagnosis, she thought God would heal her and use her journey. She had plans to help people struggling with physical needs. She had a list of people she wanted to bless with gifts of encouragements. She wanted to go back to teaching her preschool children with new purpose. She was always pushing through until she could get a bit of good news, until she could move on with the rest of her story.

I remember the day we found out the cancer had spread to her liver, and she understood it would be the thing that took her life. She understood that hers would be a dramatic short story instead of a long and lovely novel.

She understood that she would not be walking out of the valley.

She wept with sorrow, and there was this grievous knowing. No going back to the easy path. No normal life events or length of days. No escape from the battle.

I think she would want you to know that she struggled. That in those last weeks when things just kept spiraling downward, she was sad. She was in pain. She was weary.

As it turns out, she was right then dying, and none of us really knew.

And it was hard. It was hard because it was meant to be hard.

The curse of sin and all of its leading-to-death ramifications–it is grievous to God and impossible for us. Without the sin-bearer, God’s Son, we would be crushed and destroyed.

Dying is hard. This grieving–it is harder than I thought. And sometimes living is just very hard.

Our hard is meant to be hard. It is meant to be a glorious, eternal work. It is meant to establish us and grow us and make us like the Son of God!

And how could that be easy?

We can do the hard thing He’s called us to do. We are right now doing it, and with His help we can finish it. Farther along we’ll know all about it. Someday soon we’ll look back and marvel at the grace and recount the blessings of the story.

Someday soon all the hard will be done. We’ll see His face.

Let the risen Savior lift your weary head. Don’t be discouraged with this dusty, treacherous path. Look to the One Who leads you on. The One Who will shepherd you and carry you when you stumble. The One Who knows the way.

It’s meant to be hard.

It’s meant to lead you on to glory. It’s meant to make you like the Son of God.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. Romans 8:28,29 



A time to mourn

Sometimes in the dark stillness, I can feel my heart beating fast, remembering. And how can it be that the remembering hurts so much?

I am finding that memories can heal, but they also bruise. Some days I am drawn to remember like a moth to flame–no matter that my wings begin to wilt as I draw nearer. I look at pictures, and there are never enough of them or enough of her in them. I sort through her things–a note saved from her daddy, a pressed flower, a ticket stub. And they seem so inadequate. As useless as my words to describe her life.

Not enough. A constant ache that feels like there is not enough.

I suppose that is where grief takes us. To a place where there is not enough of her and the knowing that we will not get more. No more pictures, no more phone calls, no more sweet reunions. No more of her in this life where we thought she would walk beside us, where we thought there would always be more.

New layers of sorrow uncovered every day.

Severe storms are heading into our area this afternoon. You can smell rain and some fear in the air. There is no predicting them–who they will impact or what they will damage. There is just this waiting. And for those who have been touched before, fear.

I can feel this vulnerability now. As if my storms have taught me that I need to be afraid. But fear is not a good predictor of outcome. Fear only keeps you from moving forward, and it stifles the gift of joy.

Better, far, to remember safety. To remember all the times you have been spared. To remember the fiercest storm with the perspective of experience.

I am always surprised by the joy that reaches me.  A joy that springs up from the deepest place and catches me even here. And isn’t that the paradox of the Christian life? We are called to rest and a cross. Called to joy and to suffering. Called to healing and to pain, to peace and a battle.

And a season for all of it.

So I will mourn in this season of mourning. I will cry with the sadness of missing my girl, and I will always feel the ache of not enough.

But I will remember that He was there in the storm. I will remember His words and His promises. I will remember Him lifting my head and the deep joy untouched by sorrow. I will cling to eternity in my heart, the hope of it and the realization of it. I will not let fear cripple me.

I will remember the Creator of the storms.

I will remember that in this world of not enough, He is.

He is enough.

But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. Psalm 3:3

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2, 4