The warmth of His love

There is finally a chill in the air.

It seemed as if summer would just carry on, friendly and warm. Even as I pulled the fall decorations out of the attic and filled my house with yellows and oranges and reds, the grass was still green, the afternoons hot.

In some ways it was a gift to wait. The slowing is often a treasure, because time can soften the sharp edges of grief.

But now the mornings are dark and cool. The days are shorter. And it’s time to make friends with the cold again. Time to make friends with the dark.

“Don’t doubt in the dark what you once believed in the light.”

That, friends, is our faith walk. We must believe in the warmth when we are cold. We must believe in the light when it is dark. It is not faith if we can always understand. It is not faith if we always know the way.

It is not faith if we are always warm.

God sometimes calls us deeper in or higher up. Where the air stays cold and thin and the view is filled with foggy mist. He calls us where we wouldn’t choose to go. Where we cannot find the way, and we cannot see His face. We are chilled and lonely and frightened.

But we are not alone.

Oh, the deep, deep love of Jesus. It follows us. It surrounds us. It covers us. Even in the coldest place, its warmth protects us and fills us. Its light is enough to brighten the darkest cave. It is a rescuing, pursuing love.

It brings a settling, an aligning, a comforting.

His love always finds me. It helps me wait.

It is deeper than the deepest place.

It blankets me, and I am warmed.

Light arises in the darkness for the upright. Psalm 112:4

You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

 

 

Forever 26

For Rissa

So this is the first birthday we cannot buy gifts for you, cannot celebrate another year with you, cannot spoil you with chocolate or run to the mountains with you. This is the first year we remember you instead of make memories with you.

There are so many things I want to tell you, and you are so far away.

I know how much you love fall. (Are there seasons in heaven? Do you love it still? Can you smell pumpkin and cinnamon and a warm fire burning?) I’ve been slow to pull out the autumn decorations, slow to move into this season with all of its memories.

We’re going to spend your birthday doing things you loved. We’ll go to your school and read to your children. Visit the beautiful bench and tree placed there in your honor. Go to the mountains and pick some apples. Take a few family pictures, and I’m sure we will smile.

But there will be tears behind the smiles. We will be remembering you.

In the evening, we will all walk around the block together as you loved to do. We will sit around the fire pit. We’ve been avoiding that, so it will be the first time since you’ve been gone.

We will share stories of you. We will talk about your spark, your spunk, your smile. We will laugh, and we will cry. We are putting all the stories in a memory book so we will always remember.

And we will. We will always remember.

Because your story matters, Beanie. God wrote it and you lived it well. You responded joyfully to your trial. You took what God gave you, and you ran with it. Even in the middle of sickness, sorrow, and pain, you gave Him glory. You trusted Him. You loved Him.

And that makes it one of the good stories, the kind you read over and over again.

I remember every medical test, every doctor’s visit, every treatment. I remember all the pain and bad news. I remember some very dark places, some very raw fear.

And I want to say thank you for being a faithful warrior. Thank you for walking in truth through every dark valley. It was an honor to walk with you, Rissa. It was an honor to fight beside you.

It is an honor to be your mom.

I doubt you read blogs in heaven–man’s musings are of no account there. But I hope you still know how much we love you. I hope you know we are doing ok. That God is faithfully leading us along. That we think constantly about heaven–its realities and its joys.

That we love our Savior more. That we are trudging through our own valleys with steadfast hearts. That we are still in the battle, still reaching forward, still walking by faith.

And rejoicing that your faith is now sight.

I am praising the God who formed you and measured all your days. The One who loved you and gave His Son to ransom you. The One who gave you breath and life, the One who carried you and holds you still.

Today should be a day of celebration, so I am reaching back for all of the happy memories. All of the good things, all of the pleasures of knowing you. On your birthday, I am remembering the gift of you, the joy of you. I am remembering my curly-headed sunshine.

I am remembering all of your moments.

I am remembering you.

I love you, Rissa. Happy birthday.