December 20, 2011

Grandmotherless

Sorry I’ve been absent, y’all! Hoping the new year is a new start to consistent blogging. A few weeks ago I shared about loss and pain. Death and sorrow. Today, my dear friend Leigh is graciously inspiring us from a place of deep grief, and peace-filled truth. Leigh exemplifies grace in friendship and caring, and her words are beautiful! I hope y’all are just as delighted & encouraged by her as I am. Without further ado…

The first Christmas without her, Grandpa didn’t want to host our celebration in their home. Instead, we went to my uncle and aunt’s house next door on the farm. We drove down the same lane traveled for family gatherings, turning in one driveway sooner.

Presents lay piled under the tree as we ate. I can’t remember if there was freedom to say, “Grandma would have enjoyed this.” In many ways, she embodied Christmas. Our eyes carried haunted expressions in spite of the joyous occasion. It was the first time I personally understood how my beloved holiday could be bittersweet.

My cousin’s wife Heather read the Nativity story and I read a short reflection. Not our usual fare, but new traditions seemed important as we sorted through the old. We lit a candle and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus, just as Grandma would’ve wanted. Baby Kelli blew out the candle and, as the youngest, helped pass out the gifts.

Sure, there was laughter. My family can’t go long without it; but there was a somber air. She should’ve been there. All the differences testified to that fact.

At some point, I distributed my carefully wrapped gifts to Grandpa and each of his and Grandma’s children. I’d compiled pictures from Grandma’s final two months, starting with her first hospitalization and leading up to all the visitors that came to see her one last time. Everyone huddled around their book, tears in their eyes; together we remembered.

I page through that photo book now and think about all the opportunities we had to adjust to the idea she’d be leaving us. We had a chance to make memories and tell stories and say words we needed to say. And it was hard and awful, but it was beautiful and rich.

***

Now I face the first Christmas without my other Grandma. That grief is fresh, just two months between saying goodbye and celebrating the season.

There was no time to prepare. No extra chances to say one more I love you or Tell me about your childhood. I had enough time to make the 7 hour drive home, go to the hospital, and be there when she died. We may not always want to see a person’s final moments, but it is their last gift to us. Their way of saying “I trust you with this.” No matter how many deaths I’ve witnessed, I’m always struck anew by the holy reverence that descends into a room after someone passes.

My whole life, the Kramer family has gathered on Christmas Eve. The meal has changed along with the way we do presents, but we have always been together. Except there will be a glaring absence this time around.

It changes everything. Grandma won’t be finalizing dinner preparations in the kitchen when we arrive. She won’t summon us when it’s time to eat. She won’t sit near Grandpa and open their pile of presents together. We won’t get to watch her laugh when the White Elephant exchange begins. None of this makes sense to me.

But it shouldn’t make sense. Grief disrupts our natural order. We’d prefer our loved ones stick around forever and we are surprised when they don’t. Death reminds us that this life is not the end all, be all. Heaven awaits us if we know Christ as Savior.

Christmas also reminds us that we were made for more than this life. A baby born to save us. Jesus knew His happy ending would look different from what the disciples believed. He would not grow old and gray with his dearest friends. Instead He took to the cross and saved mankind.

I am comforted that someday there will be no more sorrow. Living out of state has served as a buffer between reality and denial. This will be my first holiday without my Grandma, as I was unable to return home for Thanksgiving. As I prepare for Christmas, I am uncertain how our family will respond. We may cry, we may laugh, we may begin new traditions.

I am grandmotherless now, but I still bear their impact on my life. And that’s what I choose to focus on this season, knowing that God will work all things for good. Even in times of loss; perhaps especially then.

In May 2010, Leigh Kramer intentionally uprooted her life in the Chicago suburbs by moving to Nashville in an effort to live more dependently on God.  She writes about life in the South, what God has been teaching her, and her ongoing quest for the perfect fried pickle. She is currently writing her first novel. You can follow her adventures on Twitter and her blog HopefulLeigh.

Thank you sweet Leigh!! I’m wondering… what does Christmas look like for you? Please leave a comment sharing about your holidays. Then hop over to Leigh’s blog for more encouragement. Thanks!

xoxo,
Sam

December 1, 2011

The Friendship

If you’re popping over from Melissa’s Online Bible Study, thank you! I’m just so glad you’re here!

And, I want to welcome my She Seeks friends today too. What a joy!

I am with you and will save you,’ declares the LORD. Jeremiah 30:11

My three seater couch rests only me tonight. Yesterday, four snuggled cram full, singing to that famous red nosed reindeer. Tonight though, two others lift their voices. Alone, under the warmth of my heated blanket, James Taylor and Carol King pour forth beauty from my television. {The lavish luxuries of a home, heat, electricity don’t escape me}.

Neither do friendships. Last night, time with three friends filled in the gaps. Like mortar in a rock wall.

As do the Names of God; as does friendship and time spent with Him. Holding our pieces together when we fall apart. He builds us back up when we crumble. Gives us form and shapes us when our confidence wavers. He doesn’t require us to be a certain way to restore us. Just that we are willing.

I’m wondering… which Name of God resonates most with you from this list? Would you mind leaving a comment sharing which and how it speaks to you? That’d be so sweet.

Some of us are facing times when friends are scare. Maybe feeling the friendship of God is scarce. Though we may not ‘feel’ Him,  we can know and trust this: He offers warmth and longs to pour forth beautiful songs and lavish love on you. Call on His Name as a remembrance of who He is. Always faithful. Always near.

http://youtu.be/osBn9RRjmzE

xoxo,
Sam

November 8, 2011

When the Pain is All Around Me

If you’re visiting from P31, come in. We’re taking a few days to share conversations about grief… of all sorts. Please welcome my friend Jane, who graciously is guest posting today. To know Jane is to know her family dresses up in 80’s garb and has dance parties. She threw me and her baby Noah a duo-birthday party {delighted we share the same birthday–30 years apart}. And Jane listens and laughs and cries and talks and dreams with the best of them. I simply love her,  her husband and their children… all eight, including David and Ruth. I do so hope you’ll connect with Jane on her site, Over the Cobblestones.

Here’s Jane… I just put a cake in the oven. No big deal, really. It’s the first day of school and I’m planning a special dinner to celebrate. I look forward to sitting around the table listening to stories of the day. My favorite way to celebrate just about anything is with a good meal. I love to cook and I love even more cooking for my family and then sitting down to share that meal. The smells, the warmth and laughter and yes, even the occasional fights around the table. It’s all real. It’s something I can hold onto. Something I can see and touch and taste.

It’s the 20th anniversary of my twins birth and death. David and Ruth. They were our firstborns. I’ve been thinking for a while now that I wanted to somehow mark this day, to set it aside as special and remember them.

I haven’t been able to think of anything. My dream would have been to be at Wrightsville Beach on the dock where we held their memorial service. I would have sat and watched the water, smelled the salt air, listened to the birds and remembered the words our pastor spoke as he talked about heaven being closer, now that a part of us was already there. Steve and I held each other and wept as we thought about David and Ruth. It was only the beginning of a long and painful grief.

The grief has had a way, like the ocean, of ebbing and flowing. There are days where I felt I would drown under the weight of it, like a huge wave crashing over you and spinning you over and over under the water. You come up gasping for breath and feeling like you’ve just wrestled with the wave and lost.

Your nostrils burn from the salt, your bathing suit is twisted and in places it shouldn’t be. You’re left to take the “walk of shame” out of the ocean, praying no one saw you get completely thrashed by water.

Then, gracefully the days come where the grief recedes like the tide going out. You can safely play on the shore with no fear of losing your balance.

The best days though have been the days when the pain is all around me, lapping at my feet. I’ve stood at the edge of the grief and just let it slowly rise as I take baby steps deeper and deeper, slowly feeling it engulf my body. In the distance I can see mercy and grace so I walk towards it. I’ve always loved sandbars at the ocean. They seem so magical to me. You go into the water and before you know it you’re swimming because you can’t touch the ocean floor, then you can! I love that. Those are the good days. The days when the grief is real but somehow, magically, like a sandbar you’re standing on the waves.

Today, as I put the cake in the oven I thought about how I never made a birthday cake for David and Ruth. I thought about how today has been a day of slowly being engulfed by the grief and honestly not seeing the sandbar, not yet anyway.

I miss them. I miss who they would have been and I miss celebrating them.

From where I’m sitting at my computer I can see our dining room table. I can see the chairs around it, ready for our family to fill them. Perhaps this is my sandbar today, my moment of grace and mercy? I think it is. I think this is the best way to remember them today, to sit with my family, their family around a meal and celebrate the new.

Happy Birthday David and Ruth.

Thank you, Jane. Your bravery and honesty are lyrics in a beautiful song of hope and healing. We appreciate you letting us in to your story, and encouraging us to let our guard down. Friends, read more {and make sure to ‘follow’ for updates} from Jane in her journey of healing at Over the Cobblestones.

We’d love to connect with you. Feel free to leave a comment here or on the P31 or Jane’s blog.

xoxo,
Sam

October 14, 2011

Seasons Will Change

If you’re popping over from His Table for Two or Encouragement Cafe’… c’mon in! It’s an honor to guest on both!! There’s a community of prayer starting at His Table for Two. Join in now! And don’t miss out on my co-guests on EC, Leah Gillen and Carol Davis.

Underlying both guest topics {Weariness in feeling alone} {Singleness} is this nag, the wait will go on forever. I can’t face that.

Extended waits are like treading shallow water. Tattered knees scrape the bottom too often. Each pain laments, “I can’t do this any longer.” The shore beckons and giving up hope for change seems inevitable.

Should you give up? Or should you keep chasing the dream? That answer is between you and the Lord, sweet friend. Ask. He’ll let you know.

For me, I’m not yet ready to release my white clutch on hope, even when things are bleak. Suppose I’ll need a buoy tossed to me soon {hence my post at His Table for Two}.  Hope today will be the last longing for a warm hand to hold; waiting for a yes; treading in knee deep water {difficult task, yes?}

The promise of marriage has been so close, yet drastically far away. Perhaps you too have had a desire within reach, run far off? Again and over and again once more. If you’re hoping praying begging, may I encourage? Hold on.

Friend, I’m trying to view my wait as a day. The first promise of hope is a flaming fiery sunrise: pregnant with promise. Time wanes and the sun burns high noon, depleting my strength. Then the hope is realized, cooling evening shades with relief at last.

Remember, the sun rises and sets earlier and later as seasons change. Hold out hope.

You never know what hour of the wait you’re in or when seasons will change.

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
~2 Thessalonians 3:5

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

xoxo,
Sam