The miracle of beauty from ashes

Along this journey I have become more and more convinced that God wants all of me, all of you. And it’s not so He can control me, it’s so His grace can transform every part. So I can see Him more clearly. So the Gospel can give life and walk itself out.

This includes the pain, maybe especially the pain. It does not negate giving Him time and talents, worries and cares, gifts and blessings. But meeting Him in the pain is a newer journey for me, a deeper one. I find myself wondering what would happen if ALL my pain was brought to Him in trust and hope. What if I started that conversation with myself with, “that really hurt” instead of “that shouldn’t bother me”. All of it. What I deem big or small. Engage. Bring it to Jesus. Let Him use it.

Something I’ve noticed is that I now have a more sensitive radar to pain, my own and those around me. Along with that is a lack of capacity to always enter in. I know this is a season of extreme rawness and healing for my own heart, and I find I must hand other’s pain over to Jesus even as I give Him mine. I feel like my perspective on my role in the process is being put in its proper place. He may choose to use me to help bear the load, but He’s the One who has to do the miracle working.

This should have always been my response, really. To trust Him with the pain, all of it. As I’ve held up my pain before Him instead of minimizing or pushing it aside, miracles happen, miracles I tell you. There is joy. There is beauty. What?! Shouldn’t pain erase joy? Kill the capacity for hope? It should in the enemy’s scheme. It’s logical. Steal. Kill. Destroy.

And I’ve seen that in action. The pain that kills life and steals joy and fertilizes bitterness and sucks life. This pain causes one to turn inward instead of upward in awe, being hopeful of the transformation. The pain that comes out sideways toward others. I have talked with some in pain who have a hard time hearing where I really am. Often in a genuine desire to connect I feel like their journey is superimposed onto mine, my responses assumed instead of inquired about. In those moments God gives me grace to see their pain and that they see mine through theirs. My heart hurts for them. I want the pain to produce life in them, but it sometimes produces death.

What I am in awe of again today is the beauty in the ashes. It is available. How does He do that? It isn’t natural. How can there be hope for the future? Dreams to pursue? Passions being awakened? I. Don’t. Know.

But it is beautiful.

Dry run

Today the boys, well, Josh and Sam, left to go commercial fishing. It was a stressful transition, the packing for an unknown adventure, recovering from overseas travel while walking through our first Father’s Day without Scott. It was a lot all at once, to say the least. 

Photo credit: Sam Blom

They boarded their plane with their gear and were quickly underway. And I was suddenly the only Blom in town. It’s not the first time this has happened with all the comings and goings of our family. But this one feels significant. It is a glimpse of the fall when they go to college. 

The view is not entirely accurate as Katie will be here with me, and she is not home now. It’s interesting because as I thought ahead to this time it was not with fear. I don’t mind some time alone. I relish it, actually. Quiet has become a friend when it used to be only something like a vitamin I knew I needed. God graciously used being married to an introvert to show me the value of being intentionally by myself. I am grateful that in that small way I am better prepared for this unexpected journey. 

I miss that introvert. We grew so much in our 21 years of marriage. I am thankful there was growth. I remember the old yearbook saying, “Don’t ever change!” I don’t think I’d wish that on anyone. I still have so much growing to do. Always will. Maybe that’s part of us that even follows us into eternity. More to learn and discover and once done with this part of life, the kind in this shell of a body, we can do it without sin getting in the way. That will be completely delightful. 

As I began writing I wasn’t even thinking about heaven, but as I follow my thoughts I wonder if our time on earth isn’t a “dry run” for heaven. It isn’t exactly as it will be, but I think the things I do now do have an impact on just how much I get to enjoy it then. I always marvel at that. Our time here, this dot in the scheme of forever has bearing on the life we’ll live when see Jesus face to face and know Him even as we are fully known. Oh what a glorious day that will be. 

I don’t expect the analogy carries all the way through to what my life will look like once school starts since in the picture I just painted it would be heaven, but I’m grateful for the reminder once again of the eternal weight of glory that is surely beyond my wildest imagination. The weight of the sorrow here seems to have a correlation to the greatness of then, so as the sorrow increases, so does the joy. One more grace to be in awe of. 

The 7th of the month

It was the day of searching, the night of waiting. The final kiss and glimpse and touch. The phone near my hand at every moment. News? Silence. People praying. Texting. Drifting to sleep. Shallow and then back to waiting. 

I can see myself there. I remember. The closing of a book, not just a chapter. The final words written. Can’t add or take away. It just is. 

And I see myself now, living after the dying. Some joy, even some easy days. Fewer tears. More thoughts. In the next volume. Uncertain how this story will be written. 

And then I remember that I know the Author. He is love. He is a good Father. He loves me and has a plan. But this plan hurts now. My heart aches. 

Once again I bring Him my widow’s mite. All I have. My hurting heart. My uncertainty in the future. My memories. My regrets. My thoughts. My plans. I don’t know what to do with them. I trust He does. 

Treasure chest in the deep

Awhile ago as I was journaling I had a very vivid picture come to my mind. I was in the ocean on a calm, sunny day. The water was clear and warm. I felt myself sinking beneath the surface and as I looked up I could see the sun shining on the rippling waves as the distance grew greater. I had no sense of danger or panic. I didn’t go very far before I looked down and sitting on the sandy bottom quite a ways below me was a good old fashioned treasure chest. 

I then had the sense that I did not yet have the tools or equipment to dive to open the lid. I had a sense of foreboding as if there was something dark inside, maybe it was from my past or a new area of growth to see, something I needed to know, but was very unpleasant. I decided to rest in the fact that if God wanted me to open it, He would equip me. 

Some time later, as I wrote down my thoughts as I often do, the picture came back. This time I was nearing the deeper water and the chest was within reach. I had been processing some hard things so I figured this journey would lead me to some insight. I pushed back the lid with the realization that is was not a dark or sad thing, but a chest of treasure!

I still recall the feelings of  relief and joy! I looked in and saw that there were gold and jewels. The stuff of pirate booty legend. As I looked closer I noticed there were some plastic trinkets among the gold and jewels. It was going to be time to sort through and take out the things that suddenly didn’t have value compared to the other precious things they were next to. Here in the depths with actual gold and gems, plastic didn’t hold any appeal.

It was as if the gracious hand of my loving Father was going to guide me through an inventory and I felt somewhat sheepish,  but mostly grateful. 

Fast forward to today, May 27, 2017. I have just posted an article about protection and the refuge that is available to me any time, anywhere. The first feedback I get is 

Girl. This is rich – a treasure chest in a hidden cave, jewels spilling over as you crack open the lid, rich.

And a light bulb goes on. Could my Heavenly Father have even been using this picture in my mind to prepare me for this part of my journey, in the depths, in the valley? I marvel. I am in awe. Such love! How can it be?

Jewels? Gems? Things hidden in the depths that He had to prepare me for and equip me to see? Not dark or scary, though desperately needing His presence and perspective to take it all in. Who knew the necessary scuba equipment was loss, pain. 

So I shake my head at His creativity and care and I look forward to letting go of the trinkets and digging deeper to find the treasures He had prepared and stored here for me for such a time as this. 

Continue entrusting

“When He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:23

Continued entrusting. 

The trusting was already present. Walking it out in suffering was just what came next. 

It turns out the word for entrusting is “to deliver to one something to keep, use, take care of, manage”. Placing myself and all I have and am in the Father’s capable hands. 

Seems like another example of my experience that you don’t really get to start new things in this initial season of grief. You only have the muscles that were there. I am grateful for all that God knew I’d need in my tool belt in this season. Some days I don’t feel like I remember I have them much less know how to use them, but I’ll continue with the entrusting of that too. 

Thank you, Jesus, for your example. 

Life in the new normal

Five months ago right now was a Wednesday morning like so many others. Breakfast being made, eaten and cleaned up. Showers taken. Bags packed. We were headed to town. The morning was busy but not frantic. There was not a sense of foreboding or finality. There were tasks and instructions. Quick hugs and a kiss. Mail to be mailed. Planes to catch. 

As I rode in my seat on the way to Anchorage I couldn’t help but think how much like a minivan it felt. So normal. So a part of life. When we moved to Port Alsworth I distinctly remember standing on the edge of the runway waving as the plane carrying Sam to a cross country meet took off. And I knew that at some point that would all seem very routine. I wondered how long it would take for that to happen. 

At some point it did. 

Normal: Putting up salmon each summer
Normal: spending time fishing
Normal: climbing mountains in our back yard
Normal: riding 4-wheelers everywhere

When people come to visit for the first time they sometimes ask me to tell them what special things they might need to know as they prepare to come. I do my best to tell them, with the caveat that I’ve forgotten what is different. The unusual has become routine. The shocking barely noticed. So many things that used to dismay now require no extra energy. 
I wonder if it’s a little bit the same with this new story. At some point some of the shocking things have become routine and I expect at some point those that still cause electric shocks to run through my body will become only twinges. When every part of life seems to take a Herculean effort, I look at where life has taken me so far and I find myself hoping at some there will be less effort for simple things. 

And it doesn’t mean I love less or my memories is failing. It means the God of great grace and kindness loves me and makes a way for me to keep walking in these familiar places that became a foreign land that will again become familiar. 

So today I do remember that morning again. And my heart squeezes at wishing for more hugs, more time, more “I love yous”. In the wishing I am grateful that some of the intensity is less. I realize that I am getting used to my new story. It is another one of God’s great mercies that are new every morning. 

A birthday 

Today is Scott’s birthday. His parents and my dad and my brother are here. Sam’s graduation is in 4 days. 

So many thoughts and emotions today. Another first. If I’m not careful I can find myself stressed about wanting to do this right and missing just being right where I am, right where we are together. 

Traditions feel like a necessary lifeline for Josh and Sam and I as we move forward. What kinds of things are meaningful? What is sustainable when we will mostly likely be apart for so many of the milestone days in the future? 

And I don’t know. 

And it’s ok. 

For today we had tacos and razzleberry pie. The only thing I took a picture of was the pie and that was after I’d started to cut it. I guess I was doing a good job being in the moment instead of behind the camera. 

It seemed like we should go around and share memories of Scott or something we learned or appreciated. But it felt too forced. So I let it go. 

These thoughts don’t end up being about Scott at all, but about us without him, so grateful we knew him; that he loved us and we loved him. Knowing that the pain is hard but I wouldn’t trade it if it meant I’d never done life with him. What a gift to miss him. 

And at the end of the day, here I am. We did it. So I’ll put my head on my pillow and rest with memories and smiles and tears, looking back and looking ahead all running together as they sometimes do.