Sunday, July 10, 2022

A Race Run Well

I was on a backpacking trip with my twin, three sons, sister-in-law and beloved friends. We were deep in the Colorado mountains, camping at 11,300 ft. elevation. We had been battling monsoon showers since our arrival, but this evening was absolutely gorgeous and as soon as we set up our camp after a very long hike up, I felt the unmistakable urge to hike just a little bit higher to an overlook that I love. Krista joined me and we sat and absorbed the beauty which was truly overwhelming with the storm clouds rolling above the mountains. We could hear the sound of a massive waterfall across the valley from us and the light was something only the great painter could imagine and create. I felt deep peace. 

But, I also felt an aching, a sadness I couldn't explain. Krista and I talked, prayed and cried. It was the sweetest time of fellowship and communion with one another; something I have craved for many months. I turned on my phone and there was a song paused on the screen which I hadn't looked at for a couple days because it was on airplane mode. I played it. It was a rendition of Psalm 46. 

Five days later, when I was back into cell service, I saw an urgent message from Shannon, the daughter of my beloved friend, Paula, who has been battling cancer. I knew immediately. 

Paula was ushered into heaven in peace at the exact day and hour when Krista and I were sitting on that overlook reveling in the beauty of the creation and marveling at the goodness - the unfathomable magnificence - of the painter with His palette of colors. As Paula was escorted from this broken place, my heart felt the immeasurable loss, the void of a heart that has walked alongside me for so long. I simultaneously felt the gushing joy of His handiwork, of what He has revealed Himself to be in the places I least expect it, in the grandeur of the mountains and the profound simplicity and intricate detail of the Columbine flowers scattered about the meadows.

In the past couple weeks Paula and I have shared letters consistently and she has continued to give me hope and build endurance when I have felt my human frailty fail me. 

I pray that God continues to give you all that you need to be in each moment He gives you and that He reveals Himself to you in those moments.  I pray that He blesses you and keeps you and your family with His extravagant and generous love as He leads you through each moment.


In His love,


After a grueling 9 months of one of Lochlan's worst behavioral issues, when I was filled with exasperation and fatigue and probably even a good measure of hopelessness:

Dearest Friend of My Heart,


I have no words.  I cannot begin to imagine your seconds, minutes, hours, eternities.  I hear your pain and loss and brokenness and fierce love for your family and utter helplessness to carry your burdens and grief that is beyond your heart’s ability to bear.  Our standard Christian comfort words are like chaff in the wind.  I can only pray for you  And I will hold on to you through my prayers and braid my faith with yours and stand with you before our Lord and pray to our great intercessor, His most holy Son Jesus Christ our Savior, and wait with you for His answer.  My heart breaks for you.  My heart cries with you.  My heart howls for healing and peace and stillness of mind and spirit for you and George and your sons.


With all my love,


Dear One, 

Lochlan (and the rest of your gang) live in the joy of their beings as God created them because you and George allow them to live wholeheartedly in your love and caring and desiring and even in your despair.  I love these views into your lives and your honesty and love as your present yourself and your boys to us through your words.  You always make my heart grow two sizes . . . .

Beloved friend, 

Shannon is working miracles getting the house ready for what is to come.  It is all in His time and I am in a place of wonderful peace while trying to get ready to die.  I am overwhelmed by this act of love from my Lord and His loving grace and mercy and caring.  Shannon and I are able to get ready for it all in peace and comfort.  I am tired so will close now but will try to keep you up to date as we move through this time.  Much to do while He give us time.  Who would have thought that He would take my brain and just leave me with a heart for Him . . .


Love to you and your boys,


And in response to my most recent blog entry, just days before she exited this broken world, she wrote me this: 

Oh, our Lord has been so present in our lives lately.  I find myself finding His presence in unexpected encounters and my heart is joyful. 


God is teaching me that my current journey is His and I am to rest in Him.  I am so entranced by Who He is revealing Himself to be as I move toward what will hopefully be a gentle death.


I am so glad your hill and tree have survived . . .


Paula . . 

So, this blog entry will not have Paula in the contacts list for recipients, for the first time in almost 15 years. I will continue to walk through this life, one step forward each day, without her. And in the void that she leaves in my life, I will rejoice that I was given her friendship, her sisterhood, her mentorship. My life has been altered in all the best ways because I have known Paula and because she built into my life with herself. She never hid her challenges and failures, her struggles and doubts with me. She fought the good fight in all it's ugliness, never hid her scars from me and she arose after each battle with renewed trust and hope for what is to come tomorrow, and so far beyond tomorrow. 

My heart will not stop longing for one more long conversation over tea with you, beloved one. There is no measure to describe the void you leave in my life; you have always assured me that He fills those deep voids with Himself and I choose to believe that you are right, because you have never given me false counsel. When I dance on my hill again one day, I will hold all my memories of you, I'm sure I will cry, but I promise I will rejoice too, because I know you would ask for nothing less. 

Until my race is finished... 

No comments: