Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tears in a Bottle

The dying process is not an easy one.  The end of the story is unknown.  It is a "one day at a time" existence.  The limits of energy and endurance are all too apparent.  No one knows which walk is the last one or which word is the last spoken until the last breath is taken.  Those helping and watching cannot predict the time or day that the journey will end.  It feels like the world is holding its breath and waiting...just waiting.

I remember my sister, Loralee, with tears in her eyes as she took a picture of Doug and Christina out on an evening walk. She wondered if she would ever photograph them again.

Each word Christina spoke was noted carefully.  Would it be her last coherent thought?

Each visit with her might be the last.  Should we say our goodbyes now?

In the midst of all these uncertainties, we talked about what was certain.  We talked often about Jesus' care for her--that He was right by her side.  Psalm 23 was quoted often.  Knowing that Jesus was walking through the valley of the shadow of death with her brought her great comfort.  

Near the end (May 30th), she asked about the Bible passage that talked about Jesus carrying her.  I read out loud Isaiah 40:11.

"He tends his flock like a shepherd;
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young."

She said, "I am a lamb so He is carrying me.  I can feel it."  And then, "I have young.  Isaiah.  So He is gently leading me."

I was amazed that she put that all together.  Her mind functioned best when she focused on Jesus.  She said, "I am so weak.  Maybe if I raise my hand up, Jesus will gently lead me."  She asked me to help hold her hand up.  I, of course, wondered if Jesus was going to take her at that very moment.

The next day she grabbed my hands and asked me if I could feel "both".   She said that she wanted me to feel "both".  I believe she was talking about being held by Jesus and being led by Jesus.  She knew that Jesus had spoken to me 5 years earlier about leading me (as a mom) through this cancer journey with my "young".   Truly, what He was doing for Christina, He was doing for me.

On June 1st, she said, "Tell everyone that I am trying really hard, even though it doesn't look like it."  Christina was making a supreme effort to stay conscious.  She had multiple tumors eating away at her brain and she fought like a warrior to keep her thoughts from becoming muddled.  Scripture, worship, and prayer always brought her back from the edge of confusion.  What a great gift to our hearts.

That night, I prayed through many things and I asked, "Lord, are my emotions OK?  Too much?  Not enough?"

There is no handbook for appropriate emotion in situations like this.  The next day (June 2nd), I was sitting on the bed next to her.  To my surprise, she began to try and move herself closer to me.  She eventually managed to sit up and lean fully against me with her head on my shoulder.  I wrapped my arms around her and she began to massage my arms.  (She was always a giver.)  I began to recite in her ear all the scripture we leaned on so heavily.  And then I began to sing the worship songs we depended on.  
I sang "There is a Redeemer" by Keith Green.
I started with
There is a redeemer,
Jesus, God's own Son
Precious, Lamb of God, Messiah
Holy One.

When I got to the chorus,

Thank you, Oh my Father
For giving us your Son....

I burst into tears.  I could not stop crying.  I began to worry that this would upset Christina terribly.  
Christina said calmly
, “He wrote that prayer for you.”
I said, “What prayer?”
She said, “The one you just sang.”
 Then she reached for something and said, “I am supposed to gather these up.”
I said, “What?”
She said, “These tears.”
I said, “Oh.   Jesus gathers our tears in a bottle.”
She said, “Yes. And He said these ones are special.  Be sure to gather these up.”
I said, “Jesus, told you that?”
She said, “Yes. We have little conversations now.  This is new.  I can talk to my daddy.  In a little while, we are going to have convos (conversations) all the time.”

I was astounded.  God answered my prayer from the night before through Christina.  My tears were not only noticed.  They were special.  They were gathered.  Jesus sees and knows and cares.  Even today, as I cry, I know He sees and knows and cares.

Psalm 56:8
"You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?"

Revelation 21:4
"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying."


  1. The journey you have taken and shared so openly continues to reach those who've never met either you or Christina. A chance encounter in the cancer waiting room, led to telling a struggling family about your journal and Christina's blog.

    As we know there are no "chance" encounters, and God is certainly using your words and Christina's precious thoughts and words, to help others cope, and to have hope in their own situation that seems so hopeless.

    As I observed them later, they were still at the computer reading the posts you both shared. May God continue to work His good purpose.

    1. Thank you, Karen, for the kind words. And thank you for sharing our journey with others. Though no two journeys are the same, our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If He can meet me in this difficult place, He can and does meet others in their own struggles. That is my hope--that others will find Him faithful.
      Jo Dee

  2. I am amazed and overwhelmed by this Jesus who cares. Your testimony is rocking my little world! Thank you for sharing such intimate moments that could so easily and understandably kept to your self. Love you!
    Cassie K

    1. Thanks, Cassie. There are many things that I am keeping to myself but some of these things I believe help the whole body--not just my little body. And when God moves into my heart and starts me writing--I write. It's as straightforward as that. His purposes are beyond mine and I pray that He will accomplish more than what I could ask or imagine.
      Much love,
      Jo Dee

  3. There are no words- simply beautiful.

  4. Speechless right now, which rarely happens to us overly communicative types. :) xoxoxo, dina

    1. Dina, you make me smile. By the way, Jesus has your tears bottled up also:)

  5. smiles and tears. tears running into rivers of peace. love you.

    1. And kept in a bottle--He knows.
      Love you, Stacy

  6. Jo Dee - you probably won't remember... but I met you years ago at a women's retreat in central asia with Ruth and some other amazing women. I recall vividly the kindness in your words that penned the welcome note for the retreat. Each person in the group had someone from a home church praying for them leading up to the retreat, and I was a last minute joiner - so I was sure I wouldn't get a note, but there it was, a note of encouragement and prayer from you. Sometime after that retreat, I met Stacy G., and I have been reading about and learning from you and Christina ever since. Thank you for sharing these times of your life and for sharing Christina with all of us. Your words continue to reach my heart and encourage me in my walk of faith. Many blessings, Kathleen

    1. Yes, Kathleen, I remember. Actually, your note jogged some great memories. I had forgotten about the notes but I do remember writing yours:) Thank you so much for writing and for keeping up on our story. I am thankful it has been an encouragement for you. It makes this long journey feel valuable in great eternal ways. Much love to you, Jo Dee

  7. As I am quite emotional, I do believe the Lord gathers our tears in a bottle...A song also close to my heart goes like this....tears are a language God understands...
    Emotions are reflections of our innermost feelings...we should never hide them...


    1. He knows exactly what we are feeling and why:) There really is no reason to hide our emotions from our God.