For My Friend

I lost a friend this week.
Showers.Nursery 105
She was one of the most beautiful women I have ever known.
She has suffered for too many years, enduring pain and sorrow, kidney transplants and countless hours of dialysis. Ever since her second transplant failed, her agonies had seemed even worse.
Yet through it all, her heart remained fully God’s. She was selfless, compassionate towards others while she was the one in pain. Even when the limitations of her body sent her emotions spiraling, she still knew and would declare unequivocally that emotions can play you false and that Love was true regardless of how you feel.
When I got the word that God had taken her home, my first emotion was relief. Relief on her behalf that she is finally free at last. Free from her physical body that so limited her spirit.
Yet as I think about this initial reaction of mine, I wonder why I don’t feel this way with everyone.  Surely, as Paul said, to depart and be with Christ is better by far, so why did I feel such sadness when Kristina died, when my Papa died?
Analise, Natalie and Papa
Surely I don’t want to bring anyone back here to this earth, to this broken world. Surely I don’t want to carry them away from God, away from being free from pain and sorrow.
I search my own heart and finally realize that what I really want is to join them.
I am not sad that they are not here, rather I am jealous that I am not there.
It is not a desire for everyone to stay here with me but a longing for everyone here to be there. With God.
What I really want is for God to come back now. I want Him to make everything right again. Perfect. New.
The Church often gives confusing messages when it comes to death.
We seem to bounce back and forth between the medical view that death is an enemy to be conquered by medical technology and the Ars moriendi view that death is a friend to be embraced because it moves us from the hated physical into the desired spiritual.
It seems to me, rather, that the Christian view, the view that comes from watching how Jesus Himself died, is that death is an enemy, but one that has already been defeated.
This allows for the reality of the sadness that we all feel when someone we love dies and at the same time acknowledges our hope for the future, our hope in the power of Jesus’ resurrection and in His grace that will let us share in that resurrection…that physical resurrection.
I am saddened by death. I hate death’s power to destroy and bring loss.
And I long for the day when God will make our world and our bodies new again, perfect and free from pain, sorrow, and death.
And so, as I mourn the loss of my friend, I embrace my weeping.
I weep for myself, for my brokenness and for the years in which she will not play a part in my story, and I weep with a profound yearning for Someday when all of our stories will finally reach
Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
Last Battle

Art credits: The Resurrection painting by Luca Giordano; final quote and illustration from The Last Battle written by C.S. Lewis, illustrated by Pauline Baynes

In Which I Hate

I see bombs going off, clouds of fire rising over a town, and I hate the brokenness of this world.  
I see women devalued and shamed, children murdered, and I hate the pain of life that can so easily be weighed down with darkness.
I see a sermon topic of parenting after divorce and I hate this sin-disease infecting all hearts which leads to the necessity of such a lesson.
I see my girls’ faces after I have yelled ugliness and I hate the struggle that wars inside of me.
I want this all to end. I want our world and our hearts to be healed and made perfect.
Yet I think about Joseph and about Daniel, stories that tell about ugly, horrible things that turn out to be part of God’s overarching, glorious plan.
If I could, I would convince God that He should come back right now and make everything right again.
Yet deep down, I know that God does have purposes and He does have plans, and I trust what He is about.
Sometimes, though, it is difficult to raise my eyes above the fray. I hate this sin that has broken our hearts and our world with such passion that it is difficult to look away.
My heart is divided between hope and despair.
What do I do?
I could sit and fix my eyes on the ugly squalor of the sin and brokenness and fall quickly into despondency.
I could stand and fix my eyes on Him who has already begun the healing by His blood.
I could raise my hands in awe of One who could change all with a word and yet allows us, instead, to help in the restoration.
I could ask God’s Spirit to show me ways to hasten the healing of our world.
So I open my arms and hold my family close. I roll up my sleeves and look for ways to work.
Just as these did:
(click on the photograph to read about some who responded to horror with courageous mercy)


The mother of a newborn child with
Shadowed and heavy eyes
Struggles to do the next thing.
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The soldier on his third tour with
Gear and pack and weapons
Gets up from his foxhole one more time.


The husband of a cancer-ridden wife with
Small child needing his love
Sits and weeps for lack of strength.
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Mike and Ethan on slide


The Christ carrying the cross with
Sins of the world on His back
Stops and looks into their eyes.


They are tired.

 hand holding bird

He carries them all.


art credits: French Troops Cross a Frozen River by Charles Rochussen; Mortar Men photo by Ustinov; cross photo by Asta Rastauskiene; Three Crosses sketch by Rembrandt; bird photo by SP Veres

Our Miracle

I witnessed a miracle on Easter Sunday.
A miracle of a cold stony heart melting into a heart of flesh under the ministering of the Spirit.
My brother, once bowed low under the weight of tragedy and grief, now standing tall, glowing full of the peace and love of God.
A face once lined with bitterness and anger now dripping wet with holy water.
Eyes that once saw only darkness now open once again to the light of grace and joy.
Fists once shaken in defiance at the face of God now raised toward heaven in victory.
It has been a long journey. Three and a half years.
Nothing has changed.
Kristina is still gone from this earth. Ethan is still motherless. Mike is still a widower.
Everything has changed.
As we spoke, this strong, ever-seeking brother of mine said that he still had questions, doubts, things that he doesn’t like about how things happened.
So do I. Don’t we all?
And yet.
Underneath all of those questions and doubts, underneath his dislike of the pain and suffering, there is peace.
The peace of knowing that there are answers. The peace that someday he will be reconciled to those years of heartache. The peace of knowing for certain that God is good and God is love and God is working toward the best for all of us.
As long as we know what it’s about, then we can have the courage to go wherever we are asked to go, even if we fear that the road may take us through danger and pain. ~ Madeleine L’Engle in Walking on Water
The peace of knowing what God is about.
I got to be there as he chose once again to give himself over to the love and care of God, his Father.
I watched hard as he went down under the water
I wept unashamedly as he rose again, his fists raised high in triumph, his face shining with water and tears.
Those of you who have grieved with us over these past few years, will you also celebrate with us?
My brother has come Home.
This is my revelation
Christ Jesus crucified
Salvation through repentance
At the cross on which He died
Now hear my absolution
Forgiveness for my sin
And I sink beneath the waters
That Christ was buried in
I will rise, I will rise
As Christ was raised to life
Now in Him, now in Him
I live
I stand a new creation
Baptized in blood and fire
No fear of condemnation
By faith I’m justified
I will rise, I will rise
As Christ was raised to life
Now in Him, now in Him
I live