Stay Alive

It was about a year ago.

A series of sudden and frantic phone calls.

Call me back. We need to talk now. Something has happened.

Pulling into the ER. Parking lot – calmly – giving everything up to God.

Walking into the ER – half concussed… A Chaplain. Why is there a chaplain here? Oh God. This is bad.

Dad laying on a gurney in the ER. Heart restarted – resting – not conscious yet.  Ever.

Do whatever just to stay alive.

Begging God to intervene. Make the miracle miraculous.

Sitting bedside all day – all night. Dawn is coming…. open your eyes.

Open your eyes dad. Open them. Open them.

A series of tests to confirm lack of consciousness. Nothing. Not even control of his own heartbeat. Sure. You can say something to him. But he probably can’t hear you either.

Devastating.

Right ear on chest. Tick tock… Tick Tock… Keeping the life time clock.

Tears on cheeks. The last heart beat – heard

silence

I play back the of the rhythm of these days . The stickiness of it all. We’re stuck tight.

They choke to death. Gone. Forever.

And then the thoughts begin.

Does it make you think? It makes me think. It makes me think hard.

Can this happen to me?’

Can I die so easily?

Am I ready if it is my time?

There is a time for everything.

A time for everything under the sun.

But am I ready?

What if I were to die today? Tomorrow? Next week – Next year?

Is the trajectory that I am on today on par with who I want to be remembered by?

Epiphany in the BWCA.

How fitting – except that it isn’t what I thought it would be.

I thought [and prayed] it would be some random vision of my dad – or God. But it was this overwhelming sense to free up my life. Stop saying yes to every single obligation under the sun.

Things are so much easier in the BWCA. Physically much harder. Emotionally easier.

Focus on what is before you. Make time for real relationships.

Life at times has become shallow. In the world of technology – real meaning and conversations die.

Be the person that God invited me to be.

Connect. Stay Alive.

Be a person full of love for others. A person who has legitimate time for rest. A time for reflection on what this life is… and who God is.

Dawn is coming. Open your eyes.

Was it a call for him to open his eyes, or for me to open mine?

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Draw me nearer

I served no less than 51 months Active Duty in the United Stated Navy directly after I graduated White Bear Lake High School. I graduated on a Friday – and left for bootcamp on a Monday.

I moved back to Minnesota in April of 2005 and by May I was living with my now husband Jason. (To the dismay of my parents)

It has been a full 8 months since my dad has left this world for Heaven – and its been just enough time now that I really – really miss him. I ache for him and memories that creep up split my heart apart.

Spending those 51 months away from my parents, and then living 22 miles away from each other – we didn’t stop over every weekend, or on our way home from Cub, or church. Of course we did see each other more than just birthday’s and holidays – but those times were far and few between. I was never used to seeing my dad on a daily basis and now that a real solid, healthy amount of time has gone by I miss him.

I miss him.

I miss him.

I miss him.

Since August I have been wildly chasing him through my plans for our upcoming boundary waters trip, and I still believe that I will find part of his spirit there – because God’s creation will be so prevalent, and so untouched by human hands.  We [my dad and I] shared some of our very deepest conversations over a glass of wine, and sunsets over these boarder and boundary waters during the summer of 2013, and have felt an overwhelming desire to go back; an unquenchable desire that can only be explained by the hand of God and my dad leading me towards this trip.

When I was there with my dad I was on the comfort and safety of a houseboat. No portaging, and navigation was a breeze since we had markers every hundred yards or so which lined up perfectly with the map. This time will be a bit more physically challenging – but isn’t that what’s sometimes needed?

For boundaries to be pushed, to be kicked out of the safety of the nest?  I’m greatly looking forward to the quiet reflection and solace release that will ultimately come as well on those late nights and early mornings with deadpan silence across the remote lakes of the north woods.

I’m realizing though – this will not be a coda to my healing and grieving journey. When we get back I will still stain my pillow with my tears, and choke back the screaming that tries to be let out in the night.

And I wonder if God has me right where I’m supposed to be. Silently crying out to God in the middle of the night and begging him with a tear stained face asking him to draw near to me, and cover me with wings like an eagle – as a fragile child who is terrified and afraid of what this world will bring, and what has already been brought.

I’ve never been closer to God in my entire life. Depending on him like life support to help me face each day. That His promises are true. That through my dad’s faith – I WILL see him again. And ultimately I will see Him.

When my emotions are especially raw and fragile at times, I listen to this song and repeat to myself what James says in James 4:8 “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” I’ve said so many times that verses and Gods promises are so true – but this one has been one of the truest for me. God has kept me in the comfort and safety of his wings as a majestic eagle holding its eaglet in the safety of His wing.

Is there honestly any other place that is more desirable than in the wings of the Lord? Close enough to feel His strength, His heartbeat.

I can honestly say, there is no other place I’d rather be.

Here’s My Heart Lord

I stated early in this process that my cousin said to me, “Lindsey… these are the times that your faith either grows unimaginably stronger, or you loose it all together”. She was so right. I suppose you could continue on in your faith as usual, but I am a person of deep feeling, and emotion. Maybe its because of that genetic makeup of my being, or because I have been inviting the Holy Spirit into my life in such a deep and powerful way, but the blinders have been lifted off my eyes.

Of course I’ve always always believed in Christ as my savior, but now its not just believing, its seeing, and feeling.

When everything else is taken away from me, I am reminded that God is more than enough, He’s all I have, He’s everything.

He’s the life link between me and my dad, who I know is standing beside him. I can’t imagine if my dad was not a follower of Christ – and I would be unsure if he is in heaven, but I know with all of my being that he is.

In all of this – my heart has been so fully surrendered to God. I trust so deep to my core that he is sovereign in all things. How couldn’t I?

One area in my life I have been shoving down more privately however is the subject of my birthday – a birthday whom I share[d] with my dad. Even when I was in the Navy I shared my birthday with our physician/LT so I’ve never really really had my birthday be my own… Anytime I allow my self to think about it too much I feel a full blown panic attack approaching. My mom, bless her, asked what I wanted for my birthday dinner and cake since it would be all up to me now…

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Frankly I guess I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to pick a cake by myself or a meal for dinner. Initially I think that maybe I just don’t want my birthday at all anymore, I don’t care. The thought of it is inconceivable to me… but a thought crossed my mind – that maybe picking my own cake, or my own birthday dinner feels like I’m taking advantage of the situation. My dad and I are supposed to battle it out. I don’t want swiss and cranberry pork tenderloin and he doesn’t want chipped beef… I want 7 up Bunt Cake, and he wants Keys House Cake. Of course I have the options to myself now… but I don’t want to. It feels all so wrong, and stings.

Its also a blinding reminder that it is true that my dad is gone, and maybe that’s the hardest part, or maybe a combination of the three.

Several years ago my prayer for my life were the lyrics of the song Oceans. Oh how I prayed for those lyrics to come true. God has faithfully lead me to this place of deep wonderment. Of course it was NOT the way I supposed it would happen, but nonetheless I am here trusting God without boarders.

I heard this song during worship a few weeks back and have been listening to it nearly every day since. It is my new prayer.

Father I am ready and here upon the waters as you’ve called me – the great unknown where feet may fail. And there I find You in the mystery In oceans deep My faith will stand.
And I will call upon Your name And keep my eyes above the waves When oceans rise My soul will rest in Your embrace For I AM Yours and You ARE mine.

Father I have felt your beautiful presence in my life so strongly these past four months that I see you Lord. You have shown me your mercy, and love, and holiness in a way I never would have seen otherwise. Though my feet feel like they are FAILING ME whenever I think about my birthday – the moment in time when you created me, created my father, and joined us together with You – I know that you will be with me through this. Though this marks strongly reality for me that my father is with you Father let me be in prayer that I am comforted by you and your grace once more.

I’m here Lord. I’m in the waters, and they are a scary place to be. I feel myself sinking, but then I see that you are with me. While I am here Lord – speak what you need to, and want to. The blinders are off, my ears are listening and tear filled eyes are pointed and focused towards you. Through this season I am found, I am Yours I am loved, I’m made pure. I have life, I can breathe I am healed, I am free. You are strong, You are sure, You are life, You endure. You are good, always true You are light breaking through. You are more than enough, You are here, You are love. You are hope, You are grace YOU’RE ALL I HAVE, YOU’RE EVERYTHING!

– Here’s my heart Lord – Here’s my life Lord – Speak what is true.

A is for Attitude

I was going to originally title this post A is for Anger.

Ever have one of those mornings where you wake up on the wrong side of the bed? I definitely did today.

I was having an incredible dream, though at my father’s funeral I kept seeing him crystal clear… He was talking to me and I felt a sense of calm wash over me… But each time I looked deeper at him it was not my father at all, but instead was my uncle Buck or my uncle Joe… I would push through the crowd looking for my dad but I couldn’t find him….

Our eight month old dog woke me up whining uncontrollably to be let out at 5:30 this morning… I was so angry that he woke me up that it put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day. Soon I was barking my own orders around the house to the dogs and to my daughter, and was slamming the doors and stomping around in the process.

After I dropped little Miss off at school, I experienced what seemed to be a never ending series of events that happened one after another. And incompetent cashier that declined a check that shouldn’t have been declined, a gift registry that kept flashing error and wouldn’t print and another cashier who couldn’t help me at all. I was feeling fully deflated and annoyed by the time I actually got to work.

Once I finally got to work fully annoyed at my morning I broke down after several envelopes got stuck together in the mail room. I thought to myself why is life pissing in my Cheerios? I stood there sobbing and hoping nobody would walk in on me. I pulled myself together and went back to work.

Later on I was affixing this letter “A” sticker on to something else and kept repeating to myself, “A is for anger” “A is for anger”, which was actually making me more angry and deflated. A few coworkers noticed I was quite taciturn today and asked if I was alright. I lied and said I’m fine…

But later on in the day when I was facing towards my wall coworker asked if I was okay and I silently shook my head “no”. I grabbed my purse and went to my “Secret Garden” to regroup. I cried out to the Lord, “Help me. I’m so sad today Lord. I have such a bad attitude of anger and I’m so sorry that I yelled at my daughter and my pets. I’m angry Father. I’m angry and so sad that my dad had to die so stupidly. Its STUPID God…. He wasn’t old, he wasn’t caught in the crossfires of a drunk driver, or diagnosed with cancer or heart disease…. its something that could happen to anyone, and I hate it. I feel so helpless, and so scared God that I could die any day… any moment… and oh life seems so muted. All the life has gone out of everything, and it all just looks so stupid. I haven’t given up hope Lord in life… no, but the wind has been let out of my sails…. I feel as though I have lost my navigation map and compass… where do I go from here Lord? Help me Lord. I have so much to do these next few weeks… help me. Restore my soul and lift me up Father. I need your help. Return in me a joyful and patient heart. Father I ask that nobody asks me when I go back why I left so abruptly… please let me re-enter as if nothing happened at all. Maybe nobody even noticed, but if they did Father I ask that they let it go… or wait for a better time. Please God… help me get through these next few hours, days, and weeks…. 

And He did.

God is so great in that way. Soon I felt a complete calm rush over me that is so unexplainable that my only explanation can point towards the God of all comfort. I retuned to work feeling happy and content, and ready to face whatever it threw at me. I was able to think more clearly, and was even cheery again.

This is such a hard road I am going down. I know that there are people in this world suffering far worse than I am right now, but this is my plight. It hurts and stings and on the eve of my grandfather’s (would be) 100th birthday. I cant help but think of my own birthday. I’m so scared and sad. I know it doesn’t have to be a scary or sad day…. but so far even the mention of it, or thought of it sends me into sheer anxiety.  I take a deep breath in, and push it all away.

I know I will have to confront it soon… but for now I am content… I still feel the sharp edge of sorrow waiting and the world feels completely out of balance, but my hope is in the Lord. I will lean on those who love me, and not be afraid to show emotion when the train of sadness and anxiety hits. I need people right now. Please pray for me…  I am absolutely NOT in a dark and scary place where anyone needs to feel concern… but I am absolutely sad and disappointed in how things turned out for my own selfish gain.

I know for fact that my dad is in a better place. He loved Jesus with all of his heart. I know he is absolutely in heaven rejoicing right now. I know that this time that we are separated is but a breath to him now that time doest not play a factor in his new life, but it plays such a huge factor in mine. I thought it would be YEARS upon YEARS before we would be separated…. and even that thought was unbearable…  The only thing that brings me comfort is to know that he is praising Jesus face to face and that he is experiencing a sense of joy right now that only I read about in the Bible.

I realize that this is a different kind of post tonight. More open and honest and raw than ever before. Truth be told my feet almost failed me today. I almost stood in those waters and just let the tide wash over me, and drown me. But Jesus was there the whole time, with his arm out saying, Lindsey… take my hand… take it… let me help you. This does suck…. but I am here… I am with you. I AM. I reached out to God, and am in his arms.

Love came down and rescued me today… Love came down and set me free from this anger that was siring up inside of me. I heard this song on the way home tonight, and it was so perfect, and so fitting that I just had to share it with you all.

I hope you enjoy this song as much as I did tonight.

Take me DEEPER than my feet could ever wander

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This past week has been hard. Reality is starting to sink in and I realize I need to cling to our sovereign Lord  tighter than ever before. Each night when my head hits the pillow and I go to finally shut my eyes I just find a flood of tears rolling down my face. I think this is okay and I find it healing.

Sometimes its just good to cry, and let it all out. I’ve been finding myself, when feeling choked up to choke it back down. Not for any particular reason like not wanting my friends to see me cry, because I’m a pretty “wear my life on my sleeve” kind of gal, and I’m not trying to be, “A strong christian woman” who never cries, because as we know from John 11:35 “Then Jesus wept”; God cries too.

We have a God who loves us, and empathizes with us and weeps openly with us. Perhaps I hold it in because I know once I start I can’t stop, or perhaps I’m not in the mood to grieve, or I’m having a good moment. This past week though, involuntarily as soon as I shut my eyes at night I too weep.

My Shepard is leading me DEEPER than my feet have ever wandered before. To a place that is the holiest of holies. The lyric in the song by Oceans says, Take me DEEPER than my feet would ever wander, where my faith would be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior…

I feel closer to God than ever before and today at the spur of the moment I decided to go back to Eagle Brook Church for worship and I’m so glad I did. I was treated to Pastor Steve’s last day there. He is the worship pastor and his musicality is unlike anything I’ve ever heard in my life. Today of all days was his last day as Worship pastor at EBC. I’m disappointed that he is moving on, but I was so lucky that I chose today of all days to worship with him to worship the God of the universe.

During the message we were invited to memorize our key verse which was so fitting for this season of my life, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – my Savior and my God!” ~ Psalm 42:56

I was locked in with God this morning, and will praise Him again and again. I do know why I am discouraged and why my heart is so sad, and I will still praise him again and again and again! Because of what He did on the cross, He broke the curtain that separated us from Him. My father is worshiping with my heavenly Father and someday I too will join them! There is a tender loving reason to celebreate.

He brought me deeper into worship than my feet would have ever gone by themselves. During the song posted below I drunk in each word, and the tears flooded down my face as I could barely sing any of the words aloud.

My Lord is my first, He is my last, He is my Future, He is my past.

I’m so thankful down on my knees that I’ve known Jesus my whole life. He is my first and my past because of my dad [and mom] who faithfully lead me to church every Sunday growing up. My dad pointed me towards this loving God of the universe, and through his own life imiated Christ. He showed the world what it really meant to love one another, and extend mercies beyond all understanding.

I’m no closer to having any answers, but I’ve leaned into God more this week than I have ever before, which is exactly where I think God wants me to be. He is my Future and always has been, but i just see it so much clearer now.

I invite you to listen to this beautiful song that in the words of Pastor Steve, made my eyes sweat today!