I can’t even imagine!

Nope. You can’t. I’ll just say it. You can’t imagine what it’s like to be in my shoes. Husband. Daughter. Son. Gone in an instant. 

But I think there are some good imaginations out there and enough pain to go around to give the thoughts some tracks to run on. Each soul knows their own pain, but it is a common language.

What I really don’t think you can imagine is …the grace. The mercy. The provision. The tenderness. The personal, intimate sweetness. 

I constantly “find grace to help in time of need.”

Here, in this place of grief, God is truly my refuge and strength and very present help in time of trouble. (Psalm 46:1). And this upside down kingdom leaves me in awe once again. Somehow the depth of the grief increases the ability to have joy. Shouldn’t the pain negate joy? Shouldn’t there be no more smiling or enjoying or looking forward to? Seems like that makes more sense than the face-splitting grins I sometimes find on my face and the joyful anticipation of the future that catches me off guard. 

And the only reason it’s possible is because I have a safe place to go with the pain. One who sees me, knows me, is aware of what I need and completely capable of providing it. 

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

And I can draw near because I have a Savior who gets it. 

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:14-15

In the midst of the pain and the things no one can imagine because each heart experiences their pain, see a glimpse with me of how big God is, how unfathomable his power, how deep and wide His mercy and compassion. His resources are endless and He looks on us with tenderness. 

And then there’s the 6th

The seventh of every month. The day the plane crashed. The day they died. That’s a hard one to swallow, of course. 

Today I am struck with the fact that the 6th is hard in a different way. On the 6th I remember that they were still very much alive. The earthquake had yet not hit us. Our world has not been turned upside down and inside out. We were blissfully unaware. And they were so very much alive. 

This one squeezes my heart too, but it is a memory of life. Life before. It was such an ordinary day. I’m not sure I have many specific memories. It just didn’t stick out. Our life was still a moving picture. After the 7th it was as if all the frames were sliced apart and the production stopped. 

I give You my heart 

Giving my heart to Jesus is not a new concept or a new phrase, but today it ceratinly has new meaning… context…gravity.

When I’ve pictured giving my heart to Jesus before it has been a vision of a healthy heart, maybe even a bit of a cleaned up, cartoon version. Either way, it was whole and it worked. 

Today? Today I’m on my knees. I see my heart in my hands and it looks bloody and beat up. I’m not even sure it works any more. It sure can’t do much. I think some pieces are missing. I’m not sure what Jesus would even want to do with a heart like that.

But it’s all I have. The widow’s mite. Given in gratitude that God can use something so small to accomplish His purposes. Another miracle. Another example of this upside down kingdom. When I have nothing, and I finally realize it, that’s when He sees fit to meet me, the show His tenderness in ways I never knew. 

Seeing into the Dark

The word that comes to mind in interacting with people in the depths of pain, maybe I can only truly speak for me, is see.

So many lists written on what to do or not do when you interact with people who have grief as their houseguest, with those who are in pain, whose brokenness can’t be ignored. Those lists can be helpful guidelines. I’ve seen some good ones.

But since all generalizations may turn out to be false they only get you so far. And quite frankly, I don’t even know what I need. There are so many times when I have just had to wait for God to tap someone on the shoulder and send them my way because I don’t know how to ask. And He does.

Some of the things you could see for me are that it’s hard to put together a meal, or that the laundry doesn’t wash itself. See that an invitation to a cleaning party is a call for help. See that everything takes herculean effort. See that it’s not flakiness or even necessarily lack of desire (though that may happen too) that keep me from showing up. See that there is laughter and joy. See that memories are always present and not to be feared.

In this place I know that my grief has a bit of an identity of its own and its cloak is over me, covering all people know of me, sometimes even all I know of myself. My cry so often has been, “Remember, I’m still me!” I think I’m reminding myself. I long to be seen.

Grief can feel lonely. 

You can feel abandoned because your heart is too too broken.” Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

I know my pain cuts other people and I am powerless to do anything about that. I see the uncertainty in people’s eyes.

C.S. Lewis says it like this in A Grief Observed. ” An odd byproduct of loss is that I’m aware of being an embarrassment to everyone I meet….I see people, as they approach me trying to make up their minds whether they’ll ‘say something about ‘it’ or not.

I’ve seen fear of doing things that will cause pain because there is already so much pain, in myself and in others. I think it’s where the uncertainty of what to say or how to engage with loss, brokenness. It makes sense. And it’s hard. 

I wonder if my part in this process is to get better at hearing, seeing, acknowledging, instead of controlling, since I can’t control the brokenness any more than you can. To live in being fully known and fully loved. To invite you in closer by exposing my brokenness willingly.

To know that there is always compassion there. For me. For everyone.

In the midst of the pain I want you to be able to see glimpses of the grace I get to see all the time.

There is beauty that if God chooses not to send anyone, even if I think I probably REALLY needed it, I can trust His complete provision for me and I can rest in that. I do trust that He knows what I need and is able to provide it. So if no one shows up, I needed alone time with Him. Truly remarkable how that works when I can see it and accept it instead of pouting or striving. Quite frankly, there’s not much energy for striving. Being satisfied in God’s provision is something He’s been doing in my heart for the past 4-5 years. What a gift. More grace.

Please see your own grief and pain and remember how God meets you there. You can beat respond to others in pain by first seeing your own. My loss does not negate your pain. He’s the same God and He’s meeting me too. See. Look. Listen. 

For my part I would rather you say something. Acknowledge the loss. Share a memory. I may cry. You may cry. Don’t be afraid. There is no perfect answer. And it’s no one’s fault. It’s a messy business, this grieving, the losing, the keeping on living.

Don’t be afraid of hurting each other in our brokenness because God is an adept enough healer to bind up those wounds too. He is enough. His grace is sufficient and I am applying it to you even as I soak it in for myself.

Living in the broken 

“Help me to trust You, Father. I do believe you think thoughts of compassion for me and You also know what is best.

The uncertainty is real, and necessary. Here I am in it. Help me to turn to You in trust instead of giving in to fear and anxiety. My history of avoiding pain and discomfort has been and is being rewritten, redeemed. I am now someone who leans in, does hard things, doesn’t shy away.”

And this is a miracle. A long standing pattern of avoiding the lament is being broken, maybe even has been broken. I have witnessed a miracle.

In the death of my precious ones I no longer even have the option of avoiding the pain and uncomfortable. I suppose I could still hide and anesthetize, but the options hold no appeal. The only thing that used to appeal was the escape, the getaway, the break, the rescue, the diversion, the opt out. In this place I have been given the ability to see God’s faithfulness in the pain, not just when I get out the other side. I see there is change, and I am in awe.

And I hate the cost. This loss to realize that my poor choices, the soul “junk food” I would settle for will not sustain me here. I need bread and meat from heaven to survive in this wilderness.
More grace. My loving Heavenly Father once again not only knows what I need but provides it generously, lavishly even. The muscles He’s been working on for years, the discipline of “flabby” results when I chose the fluff the world has to offer instead of the life giving sustenance that is available.

“Maybe I had finally come to the place where I could see myself, my brokenness, my fear of brokenness, with the same tender compassion with which Jesus sees all of me.” Broken Way pg 204

I see fruit. I see change. What a gift.

Out from behind the camera

I am so very thankful for all the everyday moments I have captured over the years. It is good to have snapshots of life in different stages and places. My journals are kind of like that too, snapshots of my heart in different stages and places. I value both. 

Sometimes I get so caught up in capturing the moments, recording them so I can remember or retell, that I forget to live them. To look up and just be in them. 

The last few weeks I left my journal unopened, sometimes I didn’t even know where it was. I was getting so wrapped up in a desire not to miss anything that I was missing just being. Every emotion and experience was put through a grid of how I could communicate it and what I was learning. And it was too much. I was falling under a cloak of performance and expectation put on me by no one but myself. 

So I paused. And I was. And I thought a little less and just did. I’m glad. As I find myself back to writing on the lined pages of that spiral bound journal it is again refreshing or at least familiar and not forced. I’m thankful for the break and also thankful for the option to express myself there too. 


Those first few weeks I had an almost tangible sense of being covered and sheltered. I was so thankful since I didn’t have the energy or the words to figure out what I needed. The measure of God’s grace was palpable. 

Since those days I’ve been aware that I have more “normal”, every day sorts of struggles- pride, getting out of bed, making a meal, cleaning up a mess, taking my thoughts captive. I have moments of thinking that it doesn’t seem fair that I have to struggle with sin or the wiles of the enemy while I’m bearing the weight of grief. Really?! 

So I went down that road with the Lord. And here’s where I ended up. 

I am only as unprotected as I choose to be. My refuge and strength are always available. I only need to ask. To notice. To choose. 

“But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.” -Psalm 59:16-17

And if my heart’s best place is depending on God, and I believe it is, then needing to ask is just what my heart requires to keep me in my right place and God in His. 

And I see that it is His grace to me in this as well. The asking. The seeing the answers. The sensing His presence. 

Those first days and weeks were unique. I am glad to not be there. But I do cherish the sweetness of being held so close. No words. Just presence. Breathing. Being. 

I choose to go there now. My heart needs it and it is ever waiting for me because my Heavenly Father not only knows what I need, but has all the power to provide it.