Grief has its own rhythm. Always present but sometimes silent. Sometimes still.

The sudden crescendos still surprise me.

But if I wait, I know now that it will fall again into an easier pattern. If I wait, I remember enough about morning joy. I remember how it follows even the darkest night.

So much of life is waiting, and sometimes it is the waiting that changes us most.

Is it hope that allows us to wait well? Hope–the seed sitting down in the darkest, coldest dirt. The winter bulb, dormant and unseen.

This winter feels harsh in many ways. Life goes on, but the memories gather like an unruly crowd that refuses to disperse.

It grieves me to remember. It grieves me to forget.

My heart feels cold and hard some days, like winter soil. I’m grateful for the pulsing warmth I know is there. I count on hope to remind me of spring.

I love to think of God as the Gardener. The Planner. The Overseer.

He works the soil with patient foresight. He understands the process of bringing forth something beautiful from its depths. He plants and prunes and rearranges.

Our view is darkness and struggle. His view is bountiful fruitfulness. Our view is coldness and stagnation. His view is warm beauty.

He sees the spring.

If we could only open our eyes in the winter harshness to the coming spring. If we could stop resisting the difficult, stretching work that is being done deep inside.

If we could wait. Wait patiently.

The Gardener knows. His gentle hands are not weary with the work of it. He sees in His mind’s eye all the glory of the harvest, all the lushness of the finished rows. He sees His finished work.

He makes it good.

And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:11

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. John 15:1






Fear less

The year is rolling forward.

As much as I would have liked to stay in the hazy glow of December, the January days are passing. The calendar is filling up with events and appointments. Lists are being made, and we have reluctantly started back to school and work and activities.

Life moves along and takes us with it, however sluggish we feel. Like a branch floating on the river, bumping into rocks and getting sidetracked and even stuck on the way to a place it doesn’t know.

This new year is filled with places we don’t know.

I’m always a little slow embracing it, slow to jump on the wagon of new things. It overwhelms me–the thought of improving every weakness. I am weary just thinking about lists and charts and organizational tasks–they are not my strength.

I wait awhile.

I know where my soul is going. I know what my heart needs. I know that I don’t want my time or my energy spent on things that are not eternal.

I want my treasures to be heavenly.

I know God intends to continue conforming me to the image of His Son. There is so much work to do, but there is also this staggering, encouraging truth.

That work is God’s. He has promised to complete it.

I try to have a focus word for each year. I have been resisting the word that keeps coming to me.


How can I be fearless when I know the worst can happen? How can I not be afraid of the dark places that I have known and that might come again? How can I live without fear of pain in this life?

But the word keeps whispering to me. Fearless. And in the darkness of a cold, foggy morning, it comes to me. If I cannot be fearless, I can fear less. Trust more.

And it feels like a good word. A good theme for this new year. I will not be afraid of my story. Even though it has not always been happy, and the chapters are sometimes hard to read.

Even though the monsters under the bed can be real sometimes.

Even though this last chapter has me weeping.

I can choose to trust. I can settle my heart in truth.

I can keep moving along, keep walking my path.

I can even smile at the future.

Because I trust God with the story and all of its details.

I will not be afraid.

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:13

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. Proverbs 31:25






Shadowing wings

Christmas was full of grace.

Grace can mean an enabling, a strengthening. But I think in grief it is sometimes simply a dulling of the senses. Like being surrounded by a foggy haze where nothing is outlined sharply, nothing felt keenly. Both joy and sadness muted with a mostly pleasant kind of lull.

Christmas was candle-lit and dream-like, the sharp corners of it hidden or ignored.

I’ve wondered if this is partly what is meant by being under the shadow of His wings.

I was able to think of Marissa’s joy, to picture her in an atmosphere of praise. To imagine her singing alongside saints and angels with a full realization of what the Christ-child’s coming meant.

I was able to be grateful that she is safe and happy and healed.

The end of the year brings some vivid memories and feelings. It was on this last weekend of 2016 that Marissa began the downward spiral that would end in her death at the beginning of March. A period of trauma and suffering and dark shadows. I remember a kind of helpless exhaustion, repeatedly standing up only to be struck down again.

In 2017 I remember watching my daughter die.

But I also remember a sustaining grace. I remember that always, in every moment, we were under the shadow of His wings. He was always present. He was always near. He carried and helped us. He strengthened and enabled.

He was always loving us.

This new year is beginning, and not one of us knows what it will hold. For most of us it will be a whole lot of normal with some joy and hardship sprinkled in. We will meet some goals and learn new things and live out our story.

But here is a sobering truth. Some of us will face unimagined heartache. Some will face the saddest news, the hardest day. Some of us will even breathe our last breath or say good-bye to a cherished one with tears.

How do we move forward without fear?

We trace His hand of goodness. We remember the truth of grace in hard places. We recall the refuge of His shadowing wings.

We believe in His covenant love.

We have confidence that He will make all things right. That He will redeem and restore and renew.

We trust that He will always love us, always be God to us.

We trust that not one of His words will fail.

For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. Psalm 63:7

Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in You. Psalm 33:20-22

Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. Joshua 21:45