BOEY WAS HEAVEN ON EARTH AND IS NOW IN HEAVEN WITH HER KING

On Dec 28th 2007, our beautiful radiant warrior princess went home to be with her King. Boey heard the words "well done my good and faithful servant" while he placed all the glorious heavenly crowns of life, righteousness, glory, rejoicing and incorruptible rewards on top of her beautiful head. Boey fought the good fight of faith until the very end and cancer NEVER took her radiant exuberant Christ loving spirit. Christ's love radiated through her and all she did. We pray that the extraordinary way she chose to live and believe will be an open invitation to living your life for Jesus and his Kingdom. 2 Timothy 4:7. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.

This web site celebrates Jenssa's brave battle, provides progress reports and invites prayers.

Dont Fear the Crucible 

February 7th, 2016

Crucible: “a container of metal or refractory material employed for heating substances to high temperatures.”

Have you ever had a crucible day? I’m having one now. Actually it’s been a series of crucible days. A “crucible day” is where the pressures of life shove in, often overwhelming us and the heat exposes the emotions of the heart.

A Hallmark of the New Testament is not only God’s forgiveness but his promises that He will refine us.

Several places in scripture it is shown that the process God uses is similar to the goldsmith who refines gold. To do this the precious metal is put into a crucible and melted. Then the temperature is heated and the metal melts. As the temperature is increased and time goes by the impurities rise to the surface for the Goldsmith to remove.

God is an expert smith. He knows how to raise the temperature and he does it with prudent purpose. It is very important to keep our minds stayed on this fact because when the heat is turned up it feels very chaotic; the stress and often pain cause the deepest issues of the heart to be stirred and the impurities rise to the surface. It does not have the feeling of purpose.

Issues and feelings that seemed to be long gone surface in different ways. Feelings of failure and depression can set in. Emotionally it can seem like taking a big step backward in life.

I deal with that in a very deep way during these times of testing. But the one thing that encourages me is the knowledge that GOD is very much a part of my life and both allows the testing and accepts me in my failures. He is refining me. Knowing that although it feels like the ultimate in chaos it has intelligent purpose and God can use it makes a vast difference.

My marriage counselor is fond of Romans 5:3 “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

To Glory in suffering sounds crazy. It would be crazy to glory in suffering and we groan often when he reminds us of this verse. But we groan with a smile because knowing that GOD is working behind the scenes in our hearts and in our life to allow the trials to change us is a key that can take miserable suffering into a different dimension. It does for me.

Sometimes it’s the only thing that encourages me. It keeps me Never Giving Up.

Another interesting fact about the refiner is that as he continues to heat the Gold it releases more and more of the impurities and as these are scraped away the less the surface distorts his reflection. The process is most complete when the refiner can see his reflection clearest in the crucible.

So, God….can you see yourself yet? Not quite? Drat… I guess I need to put my summer clothes on, its hot around here.

Grief only for a (life)time. 

February 1st, 2016

On the radio I heard the preacher deliver his sermon. He said there is a time for every purpose under heaven. He tried to explain that there is a time to grieve and then a time to move on. While I saw some validity to what he was saying, I also disagreed emphatically.

It’s been said, “Never trust anyone who doesn’t walk with a limp.” I could just tell that this preacher didn’t walk with a limp. I don’t believe he comprehends the extreme pain of losing a child. I agreed with his premise that after death life does go on and it implores us to live it. Within the depths of grief no demands no matter how legitimate call loud enough to drown out the pain to move us to action. I do agree on one hand that there is a time that ability to choose to live is reestablished.

Even that sentence is so much easier said than done. The issues that need to be wrestled with are complicated and painful.

Is it ok to be happy again? Is it ok to have other siblings? What does it mean to move on? Is not thinking about my child forgetting?

All of these questions may be easy enough to know the answer but the intense pain involved distorts and makes them excruciatingly difficult. They are only able to be individually wrestled through and answered and there really is no time limit. Some of these questions need to be answered repeatedly. I imagine that working through these questions to the other side is what the radio preacher meant and I don’t underestimate the importance of them.

On the other hand, there is a part of me that will never, ever move on.

I will never be complete this side of Heaven.

For me, as a believer it is a comfort to realize that I was never intended to be complete this side of Heaven anyway. My hearts cry for something else is accurate and in some ways helps me to be grounded in what is important.

I will always “walk with a limp.” My heart will always miss my daughter and I will always wonder what things would have been like with her here.

It just doesn’t go away.

Deep pain is the price of deep love.

I still love my daughter and I still feel pain that she is not with me. So even though I agreed that moving on is essential, I also am absolutely certain that it is simply not imaginable that I will be “over” her being gone.

She will always be a part of me as long as I love her and that will be forever.

So Yes, I am living life. Loving my wife and family in a deeper way than I ever did before, I suppose that could be termed “moving on.” But this term is just a bit offensive and inaccurate because I know that my Love for my daughter never will be extinguished and I will never try to move on.

I know some day I will move UP. Perhaps then, when we are reunited I will truly be able to say that I have “moved on.”

Until that day. I am NEVER GIVING UP.

Running the Race of Life 

January 15th, 2016

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

This last weekend I raced my first run in decades. To be more precise, I finished the race without giving in to exhaustion and walking. I ran successfully in High School and obtained a scholarship in college so running is something that I have a history around, but that was many miles ago.

Life has had many obstacles in the decades since my college running days. Responsibilities and life have taken precedence over training and health. The fight against cancer and then the passing of my daughter have made food a support for me emotionally. Inevitably I gained me some pounds.

This last year I have been fighting to get back in shape. I have lost several pounds and dropped 7% bodyfat but I had not really tried to compete in a distance race. My mental strength for distance running is very untested. Ok, It is quite weak. We ran the color race where they threw colored powder and squirted color gel on you as you ran so it was lighthearted. Though it was fun, I was serious.

I was determined to keep pace until the end. My first mile went well. However, when I went up a slight incline the defeating thoughts began. They started as a thought of just a little rest. Then they blew up into a constant gnawing to just stop. The pain in my quads and in my lungs joined in to attempt to convince me to just take a break but I kept going. I reasoned that I could stop if I still wanted to,” just up this hil”l, then “Just down this hill.” etc

I had my music playing in my ears and when I was headed into the last ½ mile a song about the crucifixion of Jesus came on my headset. It spoke of the pain Jesus endured on the cross when the nails were pierced through his hands after he was beaten and set up there to die.

At that moment when I was in my self imposed pain I knew I had a choice to stop and I recalled that Jesus had that choice as well. The Bible says that Jesus could have called upon the angels to deliver him from his pain but he chose to endure it in all its agony for me.

For YOU.

Faced with this realization I focused on my small burden of pain and pushed myself to the finish line. The scripture came true that said, “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” Consider in the greek is aporao which means to turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on something. When I got my focus off of my pain I was able to endure more. It just clicked on this day.

Isn’t that the story of my life. The pain of child loss has often left me in a state of disability that has hindered me from life. In the beginning it was all I could do to just leave the house. The pain pushed me to just hide. Endurance and dealing with the pain has been an ongoing lesson on how to continue on in this life to, “finish the race.”

Lately I have been challenged to take on many things that are not comfortable for me. God has used working out and pushing my physical body as a training ground to teach me about other areas of life. I see how what I though was impossible (enduring more pain) was a product of bad thinking and focusing on my pain. In college I used to be able to overcome this but I am learning to do this all over again.

I am learning to do a lot of things in life again. Traumatic grief changes the emotions in profound ways and I am stumbling to learn new ways of living. But this day I won. I accomplished the goal. I focused on my Lord and how he endured. I learned a new tool that keeps me going.

I know I will be in pain again. I will be in pain and I will focus on my Lord and how much he endured, so that he could get the payoff; the salvation of all those He loves. Pain has a way of making you give up on dreams. On people. On life.

I am determined today to Never give up. I will focus on Jesus and what He endured so I will not grow weary or fainthearted.

God can handle ugly 

January 1st, 2016

Last week’s blog was entitled,” the mourning need love not logic.” This week’s blog could be a companion piece of sorts. I received a message after reading that blog and asked How I kept my faith through it all. I thought about it for a bit and the most obvious answer to me was that God honored and respected each of my feelings, including the “ugly” ones.

When you grieve your loneliness, shame, anger, sadness, all of it overwhelms your senses. When you lose a child it involves your hopes, dreams, and security for the future. When you have prayed and trusted God for a healing it feels like a betrayal.

I was in this predicament 7 years ago when I found myself yelling, screaming and yes even cursing at GOD. I’m not going to tell you what I said but it was ugly. I felt so abandoned and I was angry and I let GOD have it. It was gut level, loud, angry and I am certain I would be embarrassed if anyone saw it. It was also very true and real. I was very angry and very stuck. But the thing about it was that I believed that I was still accepted exactly in that place.

I believed that my reaction was sinful but that was ok. God sent his son to get me out of that sinful place. Forgiveness and Love was his department and if anyone was in need of a Savior it was me.

When I yelled at him and vented my very genuine and ugly emotions however I felt afraid. Wasn’t now when a lightning bolt was supposed to hit me in the head with judgment from on high? So as I was in a heap on my office floor I said to God, “It doesn’t even make any sense but I still want and need you so bad.”

Then I remembered the time when Boey was still with us near the end. The cancer had invaded her hip bones and caused fractures so she stayed in her big brown chair and mostly slept. The time came when we needed to bathe her so I ever so carefully scooped her up in my arms and began to carry her to the bath. This caused an extreme amount of pain and my little girl shrieked with agony and proclaimed, “I hate you…I hate you..” as I carefully walked her to the bath. In that moment, as her daddy, I knew exactly what was happening. She was in such intense pain and she needed some sort of outlet and so she spoke those words that were not even the essence of what was in her heart but she needed some release.

When she was done with the bath and I returned her to the comfort of her big stuffed chair I could hear her words, “I LOVE YOU…I LOVE YOU…I LOVE YOU…” as she trailed off to sleep. In those moments I knew that my daughter trusted me that she could be who she was and act how she needed to act just to make it through the moment. She trusted me and my love for her to be real.

In this moment, as I was shrieking in emotional pain and proclaiming my hate for GOD I was comforted greatly by this picture of me and my daughter. Matt 7:11 came to my mind, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” GOD accepted me just the way I was, warts and all, Hate and all, with the same heart of love and full knowledge that I had for my daughter.

GOD and his love is not limited by my hate or my sinful condition. He is a good parent and he stands unchanged by my immaturity. He is who he is and my feelings and struggles don’t change him. He really is an unchanging rock. A rock of love.

That was a powerful revelation and one that was crucial in my wanting to stay close to HIM. If I only believed the sinful part of the equation, that I was a sinner and needed to repent. Forget it. I would not be able to stand before God. I actually had hatred for him. I would reject him.

But I had enough experience with GOD to know he was not like that. The story of the NT is that GOD sent his son to save that who was lost. When they didn’t know or love him, when they were in rebellion against him Jesus was sent and He gave. Love does that

The bible says we are ambassadors of his. As Gods ambassador I want to invite those parents who have lost children and are grieving to not be afraid of your darkest emotions. I know these emotions. God knows these emotions. He can take your emotions. He knows you have no other way of acting. He is well aware you can’t change you. He wants to love you. Period. Even more than I loved my daughter He longs to love and comfort you. Knowing this is crucial. This will transform you. It is transforming me. Know that GOD can take ugly and that is why he sent his Son.

HE UNDERSTANDS. HE LOVES. PERIOD.

Messy 

November 15th, 2015

he other day I was at someone’s house when they said to me, “Sorry about the mess.” I laughed and said, “That’s ok. You should see my relationships.”

I made a joke but I knew that what I said was serious; some of my relationships have been cluttered and messy. When a house is used things get left out and stuff gets messy. Relationships are the same way for everyone. Misunderstandings and issues arise just as part of life. Once in a while a living room, as well as a relationship needs to be tended to and things put away.

When a parent loses a child, relationship’s are one of the things that can become awfully difficult. This comes with the territory. Many of the families that I have spoken to that have lost children share the same struggles with relationships. The great sadness that descends when the child is gone seems to somehow re-wire the brain.

Grief is isolating by nature. No one really can relate unless they have been through it. The prolonged nature of it (As in the rest of your life) creates many situations where expectations can be disappointed, beliefs can create chasms and misunderstandings can abound.

I heard a statistic that somewhere over 95% of marriages where a child has died end in divorce. I can understand why this happens. The desire to escape the pain can be great. Not knowing what to do can often cause a person to look to the other person. To place expectations on the other person to meet needs is a problem for all marriages. The need for relief can push that temptation to new levels and when both partners are feeling so weak it can be devastating.

People are not meant to be used just to meet needs. This is true of spouses, friends, family, children, everyone. When my needs and wants are not met this is fertile ground to be offended. The hard thing to admit is that in grieving, the need to be whole can NEVER be met by people. Peace cannot be found by others doing things different. Pain cannot be quelled by anyone. It just needs to be endured, felt, and processed by the person.

In this time 1 Peter 5:8 is quite true; “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” In nature, a lion will hunt for the weakest of the flock to kill and devour. The same is true, Peter says, of the enemy of our souls. I have seen his handiwork found in many grieving parents. His favorite trap in one word; Offense.

We build walls around our hearts when we become offended. Love stagnates and nothing comes in. This results in selfishness, betrayal, and hatred. Offended people justify their behavior rather than repent of unforgiveness. Jesus did not take revenge on those who did Him wrong. He repaid evil with good and trusted in God to judge righteously. We need to follow His example.

I did not notice that these patterns were found in my relationship with my wife, that is until we sought counseling and it was pointed out to me my own selfishness and efforts to get my wife to meet my needs. The last year and a half we have been unraveling the ways in which we placed unfair expectations upon each other and the funny thing is that as we have let go we have found that we both naturally meet those needs much easier. It has been an amazing process of transformation that we unravel a little bit more each day and each day we both feel freer.

In listening to sermons this week on offense I am recognizing a heart of offense in other relationships. I did not realize that I was offended because it doesn’t look like I expected. The signs that pointed to it was how I avoid engaging with anyone and keep to myself. I think I have used the fact that I am grieving to justify my heart. You know, saying, “They just don’t understand.” This is true, they don’t understand, however God did not give me the license to harbor offense toward anyone, even though I am grieving.

So soon I will be contacting a few people to work through a few things. I will pray for a few days first and talk about and release my feelings to GOD. I’d do it right now, but I’ve got to get my jacket and shoes out of the living room..they’re cluttering this place up.