happy birthday Kelley

Today would have been Kelley’s sixteenth birthday. Naturally, this is a day of deep reflection for me. I decided that I might as well share some of my thoughts with you, my online friends.

As I sit here at my desk, I have had the pleasure of watching multiple Western Tiger Swallowtail butterflies flitting around just outside my window. (Yes, I had to look up the official identification so I could impress you all with my knowledge of insects.) There are many more than I am used to seeing. I’ve decided to take this as a special gift from God today. He is so kind and generous to me. Butterflies reveal life transformed. This is how I think of Kelley. She is alive in a way I have yet to see, beyond my imagination. She now exceeds any man-made beauty or cleaver costumes one could design.

These thoughts bring me hope and even a small smile to my lips. Yet I still grieve. I mourn the loss of this day as it should have been. We had talked of an elaborate sweet sixteen party with a white tent in the back yard, Eiffel tower vases with white ostrich feathers on the tables, music and friends. I love all the friends Kelley and I made together through the years and I am truly happy when they have opportunity to celebrate life and its milestones. However, it is still painful to see all the birthday parties and proms and graduations posted on social media. I mourn the lost times that never were.


Kelley’s 15th Birthday

I know there is no earthly celebration that compares with her joy in Heaven. There is no dance performance that matches the exhilaration of dancing before the throne of God. But there is one thing lacking in these experiences, the ability for me to share it with her. The lack is felt only by me as there are no tears in Heaven. I have not been able, no matter my efforts, to put aside my selfish desire to be with her. I miss her smile and her laugh. I miss getting up early and driving her to school for jazz band. I miss singing in the car to the radio. I miss making up dance moves to songs while playing board games and I miss twirling around the dance floor at weddings or wherever the opportunity arose. I eagerly anticipate the day when we will dance together again in Heaven. Until then, Happy Birthday Princess.


Our Last Dance

spiritual nutrients

I have not written in some time. Truth be told, since I last wrote I have not done most of the things I had planned to do to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I have not been well. Despite my best efforts to face my grief in a “healthy” way, it seems there is no scheduling the grieving process. Grief refuses to be confined to time slots on my calendar. It will not be crafted or controlled. It seizes me at the most inopportune times. I cannot get around it or short cut it. Oh I can tuck it away at times. Other times it proves too strong an adversary. Perhaps “adversary” is the wrong description.

Logically, I know that grief is a necessary companion to me right now. I know this process is both normal and healthy. I have been told that the grieving process should take a “normal” person six to eighteen months and that the death of a child is not something anyone ever truly, completely “gets over”. This knowledge helps a little in making me feel slightly less frustrated with myself and my lack of progress. I am re-examining my approach to the “life-giving activities” I talked about in my first blog.

Those planned parts of my days are good. My legalistic approach is not. Keeping track of success and staying accountable is useful, but judging myself for failure is harmful. When wise plans and principles are used to guide my path, it keeps me on course, keeps me moving forward. When those same principles become law, it restricts my freedom, suffocating my ability to be creative, to be led by the Holy Spirit. It crowds out spontaneous encounters with God meant to bring back both rest and joy to my life.

So what does that mean for all my carefully laid plans? It means I hold them loosely. I will continue to pursue them when I am able, and will let them go when I am not. I will press in to the Holy Spirit, asking him to guide my day. This leads me to the one area of health I haven’t yet written about, spiritual health.

In order to cultivate a healthy spiritual life, I need only to nurture a deep and meaningful relationship to God. I am so grateful that Jesus made possible reconciliation between me (a deeply flawed and sinful being) and my beloved Father in Heaven. I am so grateful that he is even now interceding on my behalf, working for my good. I would be lost without his presence here with me, lost without the Holy Spirit that he gives to all who call him Lord and who accept his forgiveness. But that is what He has done. How do I contribute to the development of this relationship?

I grow my relationship with God in the same way any relationship is developed, through talking. In other words, I pray. I could write a million blog posts and still no human being will ever fully understand me. But my God knows me.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. (Psalm 139)

There is something about being truly known that makes this relationship so special, so intimate, so edifying. Talking to God and listening for his quite voice with the ears of my heart is life for me. Feeling His presence and solicitous touch comforts me and quiets my spirit. And when I feel too wrapped up in myself and my pain to hear him, I enter into worship. It is difficult at first as Self attempts to monopolize my attention. Eventually though, worshipful song lifted as a sacrifice to Yahweh opens the door of my consciousness to allow a two-way flow between me and the God I love and by whom I am loved. Worship and Prayer together are the nutrients that feed my spirit and bring back health and vitality.

While I do schedule time for this on my calendar, it is often most rewarding when it is interwoven in the fabric of the ordinary activities of daily life. It pairs well with physical exercise as well as mundane errands. It is threaded into times of journaling and Bible study. I invite his conversation to my writing times and praise him for his contributions to the words. My spirit needs these interactions as my lungs need air.

So I will continue to pray and offer up worship as an element of “life-giving activity”. I will continue to pursue the other activities I have previously described. I will continue to use my calendar and daily schedule to direct my path for the days ahead. But I will do so in a mindful state of grace and pliability, ready for the Holy Spirit to mold and shape my days and my development as He sees fit. I invite you to join me. Let’s be healthy together!