Today marks the 11th anniversary of my son meeting Jesus face to face. Continue reading “Tough Day”
I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. Ps 18:1-3.
I’ve loved the Lord for a very long time. He has been my rock, the one I turn to for help and guidance. He has been there every time I have ever called on Him for – anything. He has answered my prayers through Scripture, through my friends, and even through people I didn’t know. He was there when I hit rock bottom. He picked me up, dusted me off, and sent me back out restored and refreshed once again. I love the Lord. But, I never understood when people would say that they were ‘in love’ with the Lord. I just didn’t get it. I could tell there was a difference in the way I loved Him by the way they said it.
Then, my life changed. I got a knock on the door from two soldiers in full dress uniform. There is only one reason for a visit such as this when you have a child serving in the military.
“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.” Ps. 116:1-2. My cries were loud, seemed endless, and He heard each one. He caught my tears and wiped them away with His hands of mercy. He saved me from my enemies, those who live in the slimy pit of mud and mire; bitterness, never-ending sorrow, and resentment. He waited for me to get a foothold onto my new “firm place to stand”. Ps 40:1-2.
God has never left my side through this season of intense grief, most of the time, I believe, He’s had carry me. I am now totally in-love with the Lord and forever will be. Perhaps before it was a puppy love of sorts, a young immature love. Now it is a stalwart love, one that my crushed heart offers willingly to the One who constantly mends and cares for it.
My prayer for you today is that you fall in-love with the Lord and experience the difference. Be sure to share your ‘new song’ so “Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord”. Ps 40:3
Psalm 40:3a “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”
For ten years now, I have mourned the loss of my son, my first-born, my army boy. I have shared our story, helped others with their losses, and given testimony through song of the amazing healing power of Jesus’ name.
Today, there seems to be a new song on the music stand of my life. As if the Lord has scored a third movement in the symphony called Patti, a new and joyful one.
In Ecclesiastes 3, King Solomon writes of a season for all things, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. The old tune, the second movement of my symphony, has a somber melody, a slow yet steady rhythm. This new tune that I hear in the distance has a much livelier tempo, possibly offering me the chance to dance. Though I don’t believe anyone else has heard it, confirmation that it is coming keep showing up; in conversations with people I’ve only just met, in my Sunday school lessons, even when I simply flip my Bible open for a quick read, there it is.
Those of us whose usual melody is one of grief and sorrow, might be wise to listen in earnest for the song God promises as He ‘lifts us out of the mud and mire’. I believe I’m ready to turn up the volume and sing this new song of praise to the Lord, are you? Then let’s pray that those who hear us ‘will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord’ (Ps 40:3b).
Please share your new song with me and pass this on to a friend who is ready as well.
You know that amazed feeling you get when a scripture you know well is preached to a whole new understanding? Continue reading “Strong Shoulders”
Memorial Day is quite a different holiday when you have a son who is a fallen soldier. It is wonderful to have so many people take time to remember my son and all the other military fallen. The heartfelt messages are a salve onto the open wound that seems to be taking forever to heal. They are greatly appreciated as they seem to be the perfect encouragement needed to keep me successfully walking this road laid out for me.
So, today, I thought I’d share what I consider the most amazing revelation God has revealed to me through Garrett’s death. He has shown me a much clearer understanding of what it means to be a child of God. May it be just the right encouragement needed in your life.
In the first days after the news of Garrett’s death, friends and family reminded us of Scriptures that pertained to God’s will and His promise to somehow work it for good in Romans 8:28. I know this Scripture, I’ve quoted it, written it, called on it many times, but this occasion, Garrett’s death, I was fairly certain there was no “working it for good” in my lifetime. There were also many references to God’s will being perfect and that He only does what is best for His children. Well, I am a child of God and allowing my son to die couldn’t possibly be what was best for me. I was heart-broken, down to the core, broken.
When the soldiers came to my door that morning to tell me that my son, my first-born, was dead, I thought my life was over as well. So much of who I was, was tied to him, after all, I became a mother because of him. My dreams of his marriage, his children – my grandchildren, his future, it was my future, too. It was over. No hope. No joy. And this was what was best for me? How could this possibly be what was best for this child of God?
Six years passed, yes, it was six years before I was able to comprehend God’s love for me in this tragedy. While visiting with a group of dear friends, one of them said, “God only does what’s best for His children”. Yes, the same truth I’d known all along but that day they were new words. This time the focus was on Garrett being the child of God, not me. My whole perspective changed. Garrett was His child and had been since he made his decision to accept Jesus as his Savior when he was only seven years old. With new eyes, I could finally see that God indeed did what was best for his child, Garrett.
Taking Garrett home was the kindest, sweetest thing God could have done for him. Garrett loved being in the army, he loved his ‘brothers’ and he loved his job but we could tell it was taking a toll on him. He was a sweet sentimental young man and he was also fun-loving daredevil. His dad and I wondered if Garrett would have been able to come to grips with and overcome the memories of his duties as a soldier at war. We believe God showed his beloved child mercy and brought him home to live forever in peace.
I hate that Garrett is not here with us, laughing and living out a great life, but we can rest knowing that he is in heaven and we’ll see him again someday. Now that I can see God’s love and mercy for him, I can see in my own life how God fulfills His other promises. He is ‘working it for good’ (Romans 8:28), he has ‘never left me’ (Matthew 28:20b) and as He comforts me, He leads me beside others that I may comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:4-7)
Being a child of God can be quite an adventure. And remember, that those precious children you are raising and are leading to the Lord, they are His and He does what is best for His children.
Maybe I do have something to say, after all.
Before my son, Garrett died….[ wow!, that still makes me pause – writing my son’s name followed by the word ‘died’ will forever make my heart hurt. Those are words that should never be together in any sentence.] Well, before, I served God in any way He led me, I led the women’s ministry at my church, taught Bible studies, substituted in Sunday School whenever asked, sang in the choir and praise team, and spoke at women’s events around the state. I always had something to say or to sing about Jesus.
But, after Garrett was killed in Iraq, everything changed. The pain was beyond intense, the impact completely devastating. I didn’t sing. I didn’t lead. I didn’t speak. The joy of those things seemed to have been buried along with my son.
One Sunday, during an attempt to attend church and be ‘normal’, a friend of mine caught me in the hallway and asked if I’d come give a little testimony in the Bible study she was leading. I will never forget the look in her eyes when I replied, “I’m sorry, but no. I have nothing to say.” The loss of my son had stripped me bare and I no longer had it in me to share, anything.
God had already begun my healing process, but it wasn’t until He led me to write down the sorrow, the pain, the loneliness and the loss did I begin to see a bigger picture, His picture, which is when the true healing began. It took me about five years to get to a point where I was ready to share again, but the miraculous healing that God had done in me had to be shared. We are now at ten plus years and He is still working on healing me. I don’t think it will actually be complete until I’m in heaven with Jesus and Garrett.
I do think however, that I have something to say again. No matter the pain, the trials, the heartbreak we experience, I think we all, at some point, have something to say. I’ve survived the death of my son, so I have comfort and encouragement to give to those who have suffered that kind of loss. My sister survived breast cancer, she has comfort and encouragement to give to those who are in treatment or dealing with the aftermath of treatment. And she does, every chance she gets.
Christ has brought us through the toughest, most devastating times of our lives and I believe He wants us to do as the Scripture says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
Whatever trials you have faced, whether in health, death of loved ones, financial, or something else, as you heal and are comforted by God, be listening for His voice or His nudge as He leads you to comfort those in trouble with the same comfort you received from Him. Maybe YOU have something to say, as well.
A dear friend of mine recently suffered the loss of a family member, her sweet mother-in-law. Though Opal was 89 years old and ready to be in heaven with Jesus, it was still a huge loss of someone dear. I’d had the privilege of meeting Opal and visiting with her several times over the past few years each time she came to visit. Her love for her family and the Lord was evident in every conversation.
My friend shared with me how difficult it was on their family, going through all of the belongings, dividing them up with the other family members and closing up the house. Afterward she was struck at the result of Opal’s long life being condensed to a single box of things for each of the grown children, one of which was now at her home.
Of course it reminded me of when my son died and all of his belongings were shipped to our home. First it was four trunks from Iraq, and then a big crate and two more trunks came from Hawaii where he had been stationed during his army career. Some things were easy to go through, beat up single-guy furniture and surfing magazines – no problem. It took some time and many tears to go through the personal items but we managed to go through them all. His brother took the things he wanted and we gave a few items to a cousin or two. Most all of it we kept, but we did get the number of trunks down a couple and probably could do more, but the willingness to do so has not come as yet.
When we step back and see that our loved one’s whole life whether 23 short years or 89 long years, the question is the same. How can someone so amazing be whittled down to a box or two? It doesn’t seem possible, yet if we step back a bit further, we know that the box is not the person, it is just a box full of stuff. Granted, full of our loved ones’ stuff, but it’s still only stuff.
Opal was much bigger, much more precious than any box could hold. Her memory is too. My son’s life, though only 23 years long, was so much bigger and far more dynamic than any trunk could hold. Thank goodness we can’t put our memories in a box and store them away.
Thoughts and memories of Garrett, funny things he said or did, come to me daily. I really never know what will bring a memory to mind, but they are always welcome and cherished. I’m fairly certain that is the case with my friends’ family as well.
There have been quite a few more families in my community experiencing this very thing lately. Losing a cherished loved one, going through and boxing up their things. We all have to face this from time to time in our lives.
Thankfully, we hold their memories in our hearts and that can never be boxed. Because the truth is, the boxes hold their earthly treasures and we know our loved ones, as believers in Jesus Christ, are in heaven where the real treasure lies.
Matthew 6:19–21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
My God can take anything that I need to say to Him. I don’t have to sugar coat it, think it through, practice it, I just need to voice it. There is nothing I can say that will change that He loves me or how much He loves me. Nothing can take me from His hand (Romans 8:37-39) including my own words spoken while in the pain of a heart breaking moment. He loves me that much, enough to allow me, even encourage me, to speak up and let Him know my thoughts and feelings, my deepest hurts and disappointments, and what I’m angry about.
I learned that God can take anything I need to say to Him during the darkest, most difficult days of my life, when my precious son Garrett was killed in action.
The anger hit and it hit full force. I came to know an even more loving God than I’d known before. There were lots of “WHY?” and “Why MY son?” “Out of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, you let MY son die!” I would scream and cry and scream some more. I accused Him of not listening to me or answering my prayers. Many, many people had prayed in agreement for Garrett’s protection and safe return home. But NO, God had to take him home….home. Why?
Some days it helped me to go out to the backyard, pull weeds and talk to God. I would rip those weeds out of the ground with a vengeance and pray for answers. Other days, I would throw clay pots on the concrete drive in the back of the house and talk to God. There is something about breaking those pots that proved to be a great stress reliever. (I highly recommend it!) Some days our talks grew pretty loud. I’ve wondered and laughed at what my neighbors were thinking when they heard me.
I have to admit, a few times I wondered if I had overstepped the boundaries with God. How could I, this filthy rag servant, be so bold to speak to the King of Kings and Creator of Everything this way. But every time I wondered, I would hear Him say, “It’s okay, darlin’, tell me everything. I know you’re hurting and you don’t understand. Just keep talking to me.” If I had stopped talking to God, I’m certain that I would not be here today. But since I did keep praying, I’m certain that is the reason why I am healthy and have come this far in my healing.
He is so good, so faithful. So when you have the thought that you need to pray a certain way or you worry about how to say what you need to say, stop right there. Know that He wants to hear from you, however it comes out. Just talk to Him.
The Word says in Hebrews 4:16 to, “Come boldly before the throne of Grace”.
He means it.
And in I Peter 5:7, “Cast your cares on Him for He cares for you.”
He means it.
He’s a big, big God. He can take it. Talk to Him and be blessed.
If this spoke to you today, share it with a friend, it may speak to them as well.