Seven Years of Sorrow, Seven Years of Hope

me and livThis is the day. Seven years ago today our daughter Olivia went to be with Jesus.  Each year I spend this season thinking about our lovely, happy brave girl. She was a gift from God. This is where my thoughts have been.

There is a time after losing a loved one when panic sets in. I read about this in CS Lewis’  A Grief Observed and I have felt it myself. It is the time when you realize you are moving inexorably away from when you were together. First it is a small gap of hours or days and then one day you realize it has become a chasm larger than the Grand Canyon which, by the way,  was crossed by a Wallenda. There is no crossing this. Not in this life.  And you want to go back to the time when it was only a day or a week since being with your dear loved one, or back farther when even though she was ill, she was there and breathing and a smile might come now and then and the loss was not so permanent.

I was sitting by the grave of our daughter a few years back when I felt this selfsame panic, the feeling of leaving behind the dear presence of Olivia. And I do think it was God who comforted me with His truth. This is not the end. This isn’t all there is. Remember the future. Look ahead.  You are moving away but you are also moving toward – toward the kingdom that shall not be shaken where God will wipe away your tears. Forever.

I thank God for making us with imaginations.  Sometimes when I run I am filled with thoughts of heaven and God and grace and majesty and my hands go up in happiness and worship. I picture Olivia in heaven. She is sitting at the feet of Jesus with her hands on the ground behind her as she looks up into his face.  She is having a marvelous time, love and laughter and light abound. And I imagine that with my hands outstretched and hers on the floor of the heavens as she listens to Jesus …..almost our fingers touch.

One day they will. In that unshakable kingdom where tears are wiped away, the chasm dividing us will be no more. My morning run today mirrored my thoughts. It is a cold, bleak day. The tears flow, but the comfort and hope God gives is present too. The winter sun shines. I know spring is coming.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Vivian Walden

An Unexpected Blessing

Friendship bracelet

Friendship bracelet (Photo credit: petr cervinka)

That’s what she is. Driving home from teaching a class almost two years ago, I threw up a prayer, pulled into a parking lot, and met a person I’d never imagined. They say serendipity means an unexpected blessing. Yes, I think they’re right. This little person with so much personality, so much character, such longing for good things…..was dropped into my life by the generosity of God.

Proverbs 31 talks about the virtuous woman, and I’ve often pondered that chapter after hearing speakers pontificate, seeming only to say that she was a sweet little thing who worked hard and was always watching out for her family. There’s so much more to it than that. She’s a wise and strong woman, who considers business dealings and buys and sells land. Basically, she knows how to ‘turn a dollar’. She’s a wise investor. She’s known in the community as a smart cookie. Her husband doesn’t worry about her because he knows she has a good head on her shoulders and he can say, ‘Many women have done well, dear, but YOU’RE the best.’ (paraphrased completely by moi). She’s not ‘full of herself’, but does her job without any fuss or bother, simply does it. She doesn’t boast of it or tell everyone how hard she worked; her work speaks for itself.

God talks a lot about honesty in relationships and daily life, but it’s awfully easy to ignore that or simply not address it. He also talks about not thinking too highly of ourselves, something we all continually struggle with. It is after all what brought about Adam’s sin—pride. God also talks about being a faithful friend. He gives us the supreme example of friendship by saying He ‘sticks closer than a brother’.

How often do we meet a person who strives to live these directives? How often do we actually meet that Proverbs 31 woman? That humble, gentle soul? That true and honest friend? Not very often, because in our world today they seldom exist.

And yet, God chose to bless me with a friend like this. How very good of Him. In Anne of Green Gables, the protagonist dreams of having what she calls a ‘bosom friend’, that close confidante who knows exactly what you’re thinking. When my sisters and I were little girls, we would sometimes find ourselves with a case of the giggles (especially in church, when one was not supposed to). And here I am, all grown up, with grown children of my own, and refraining from looking across the room at my friend because I know what we are thinking and that we shall very soon explode in laughter if we do not watch ourselves…..

A true friend will challenge you to step to a higher level and encourage you to achieve. A sister will often do that too. So, thank you, God, thanks for this sister, this unexpected blessing, this small yet strong, gentle yet firm, humble yet extremely accomplished person. This person who can fly a plane or manage a school budget with equal ease. This person who counsels with understanding, yet is ready to make hard decisions. Often our friendships are developed early in life, but God saved this serendipitous friendship for these years of my life.

CS Lewis asks rhetorically, ‘Is any pleasure on earth as good as a circle of friends around a roaring fire?’ I think not. So, tonight, as I sit by the tree and contemplate the new year and all it holds, I shall thank God for my unexpected blessing—-May we always encourage one another to good things and may we never stop laughing uncontrollably.