Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Resurrection Sunday.  Why such a big deal?  By the end of last week, my heart felt heavy.  Very heavy.  I do not know why.  I went to bed Saturday night thinking I could not possibly join in the celebration in the morning.  I also knew deep within me that it was vitally necessary that I participate in our Resurrection Sunday service.

Surprisingly, I woke up early feeling hope.  Something was stirring in the deep places (or perhaps the heavenly realm).  I found my heart looking forward to the celebration about to begin.  The importance of Jesus conquering death is more important to my heart this year. How can one lose a daughter with no hope of eternity with Jesus? If Jesus could not or would not conquer death, it means the rest of us have no hope of eternity with Him and all of life feels quite pointless.

The music of Resurrection Sunday triumphantly declares truth.  By the time we had started worshiping at the first service, I felt like heaven had opened up and we could all join in the celebration of conquered death. I cannot sing or play some of these songs without having my heart feel like it will burst within me with the joy of truth washing over difficult circumstances.

The song, "Great I Am" by Jared Anderson has lyrics that propel me into the glory of God.  

I want to be close, close to Your side
So heaven is real and death is a lie
I want to hear voices of angels above
Singing as one.

Hallelujah, holy, holy, God Almighty
The Great I Am
Who is worthy? None beside Thee,
God Almighty, the Great I Am.

The mountains shake before Him
The demons run and flee
At the mention of the name
King of Majesty.
There is no power in Hell
or any who can stand
Before the power and the Presence
of the Great I Am.

One of the Bible verses that Christina loved as she was moving into the presence of Jesus was 2 Corinthians 5:4  "For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling,so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life."

How often do we talk about dying as "being swallowed up by life"?  That is the way Christina started to refer to her leaving her physical body.   I wonder why we proclaim Jesus as Lord and then act like leaving here to go be with Him is such a tragedy.  Being with Jesus is life!  

"Heaven is real and death is a lie."

We learn John 3:16 as children and most of us can recite it but I wonder if we believe it.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should never perish but have everlasting life.

"Heaven is real and death is a lie."

In John 17, Jesus' prayer just before his crucifixion, he prayed, "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory..."

Jesus' deep desire is to have us with Him.  Does that feel amazing?  
He desires us to be with Him, to see His glory.  He has much to show us.  We are so earth bound and yet, He has endless Good to share with us.  

Have you ever longed for someone to be with you?  Have you ever had something that you wanted to share with those you love--perhaps a new house or a new location or a new baby.  Just multiply that desire over and over and imagine Jesus waiting for you--to show you His glory, to show you Heaven, to show you the throne room, or the River of Life.  Can you get a little excited with me?  Christina was VERY excited as this journey unfolded for her.  We saw and heard little pieces of what Jesus was already sharing with her.  The angels singing, her special dock, the window, continual access to the presence of Jesus, so many conversations with Him.  

On Sunday, we also sang "Christ is Risen" by Matt Maher.  It made me want to shake my fist at hell and raise my arms to Jesus, and motion to the church to come along--all at once!

Christ is risen from the dead
trampling over death by death.
Come awake, come awake
come and rise up from the grave.

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church come stand in the light.
The glory of God has defeated the night!
Singing, O death where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light.
Our God is not dead
He's alive! He's alive!!!

I long for my heart to be captured by this truth every day.  No matter what.  I long for the church of Jesus to be looking so deeply at Jesus that the trouble and trials of this world fade to insignificance.

Hebrews 12:2-3
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

It is so easy to lose heart when our eyes are fixed on our circumstances.  It seems that fixing our eyes on Jesus, keeps our hearts full of strength and hope.

Resurrection Sunday, 2013, Isaiah's Baby Dedication
 I wanted to share this baby dedication picture from last year, just to illustrate what a difference one year can make.  Christina was 2 months from entering Jesus' presence, our Pastor Mike was days away from a heart attack (which he survived beautifully), and Isaiah wasn't yet walking and talking.  My head spins with the reality of time passing.  We have no control over what a year will hold but we know the One who can walk with us through anything a year can bring.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Power of Friends

 I am remembering last year like it was yesterday.  In early April of 2013, after Christina was placed on hospice, we had several worship nights with Christina (at her request).  She knew she was moving quickly to the arms of Jesus, and wanted to spend time fixing her eyes and heart on Jesus.  I feel so privileged that she invited us to join her. 

Many friends and relatives had traveled long miles to say good-bye to Christina.  These wonderful guests and many local people joined in our worship nights.    Christina was exceedingly joyful and excited to have so many beloved people in the same room praising God.

Nathaniel Wilson, Adam Lamb, Doug (and babies)
One dear friend of Christina’s, Adam Lamb, spoke to me after a worship night.  Adam is a long time family friend and happens to be married to Stacey, a former roommate of Christina’s.  (Christina had quite a reputation for good match-making!) Adam’s words that night moved my heart so deeply, I asked him to write out, in my journal, what he said.

Here are some excerpts:
“My thoughts after last night’s amazing worship/prayer session—

1.  I heard prayer asking for a miracle to happen or lamenting Christina’s dying—in response to this my heart wanted to shout out that this time IS the miracle!  The fact that we are all together with a pretty (and pretty) pain-free Christina was and is a miracle!!  In a way, I felt bad for the people that were sad—we should be rejoicing FOR Christina, and we should be jealous of her situation!  How many people get to spend their last chunk of time on earth being so surrounded by family, friends, friends that are family, to love and worship our Father!?

2.  We should all be so lucky to have as great an impact on this world and for the kingdom in our “long” lives, as Christina has in hers, even if hers ends today.

3.  The impact she has had even in the celebration over this last week has been massive and likely bigger than the impact that many will have in their entire lives!  Even after people have long stopped speaking of Christina, her impact in this world will still be present and full as people continue to pay forward the gifts of our Lord that Christina continues to reflect.

4.  This time has been like nothing I have been able to share with any other friends I have lost.  I’ve never been so happy for a friend, while being so personally sad.  I cried a ton and smiled through the tears last night.  While I don’t want to say good-bye before it is time, it is great to share the hugs knowing we need to savor each one.

5.  So, while the roller coaster will be tough, we will all be worshipping together in heaven before we know it, and there’s a good chance that Christina’s amazing perspective and attitude will help a few more people meet the Lord and join us in that worship.

6.  Christina’s soul is super ALIVE and ON FIRE!  We should all be so lucky!!!

Thank you, Adam.  Christina talked about her spirit “waking up” as she moved closer and closer to heaven.  She loved hearing the Bible read out loud, and loved to pray, and loved to sing or just hear worship—even to her last day on earth.  She was feeling freedom and life coming her way.  Any earthly perspective began to feel like chains around her neck. 

Another close friend, Christy Wilson, came by during that time and left a remarkable letter with Christina.  Christy wrote the book, “The Serpent and the Sparrow” that chronicled the first few years of Christina’s cancer journey.  Christy knew Christina well and shared Christina’s eternal perspective.  I have asked her permission to share this letter.
Christy Wilson, Stacey Lamb, Christina (and babies)

 For: Christina

From: Christy Wilson

I love you!

We see through a glass darkly, and say ‘What a shame.’  But clearly, ‘What a gift!’

You are the gift:

·      A beacon to a frightened world; shining brightly here, even brighter where you go.

·      A reservoir of peace spilling onto any who dare bring their troubles near you.

·      You are friendliness, loyalty, joy. 

·      A gift.

Your life was a gift:

·      You have spent your time amongst us—loved, cherished, a sister, a friend.

·      Blessed with laughter.

You leave us a gift, in your baby boy:

·      A piece of you, you graciously leave to our care.

·      One day he will appreciate why we always look for bits of you in him.

God gives you a gift now:

·      He wants you home.

·      You’ve run your race…earned your “Well done, Good and Faithful Servant.”

·      Relinquish forever your fears and concerns for others—they don’t belong to you anymore.

·      Now you can go to a place where the energy never runs dry; where life never fades.

·      Your mansion awaits!

We see the gift.  You have completed your Holy Task.  We stay behind to complete ours, renewed for having seen you do it with such grace and strength and vulnerability. 

These tears—we are not sad for you—we’re just going to miss you!

We see the gift.  Now Go.  Accept your Gift.  We are happy for you.

Thank you, Christy.
These two friends, along with many, many others, have shared this intimate journey in such significant ways.  Never underestimate the power of a shared path.  We help one another along and remind each other to look up.  Look into the eyes of Jesus.  He is not far from each one of us.  He is the power, the love, and the encouragement that we need to keep going.  To Him be the glory forever and ever. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

It Was a Year Ago...

One of many worship nights.

This time last year, Christina had just had her one and only grand mal seizure which marked the beginning of hospice care.  Memories are flooding my heart and I spend much time thinking, reading journals, remembering and contemplating what this year has brought. 

This morning, I reread her last journal which began January 25, 2013.

She began, “I love this journal!  Thanks, Lord, for finishing my other journal at the perfect time so I would be ready to start completely fresh in this huge new chapter in my life!  I’m ready to dive in with you, Jesus.  I sense brand new challenges coming—beyond just health, beyond even marriage and motherhood although these will always be in the obvious mix every day.  Some days they will be the focus, but some days you will call me to plunge so much deeper into the scary areas of the heart…
So, please help me, speak to me, and have mercy on me, Father, as I walk through this with you.  I will fail, on a consistent basis, but I ask always for strength and prompting to confess my failures, not take for granted your forgiveness, and have the faith to put my faith and your lessons into action.  Help me know also, Lord, always, that your strength truly is made known and perfect in my weakness.  When I surrender my weaknesses, which feel miles long, to you and let you walk me into them teaching me to say “NO” to fear, that is when your glory can be made known through me.

And that is my biggest desire for my life lived on this earth…

I need you, Jesus, every moment.  I can’t wait for this next journey with you.  Difficult, sweet, and rich!!”

Time with Isaiah.
Reading back, it seems prophetic.  She knew something big was coming.  Maybe she knew she was facing the end of her days on earth.  Her pain was intense and her brain was acting up on a daily basis.  Maybe she knew these struggles were leading to her transfer to the presence of Jesus.

A few weeks after being placed on hospice care, Christina’s journal reflected her strong desire to spend time with Jesus.

April 16th, 2013
“Lord, thank you for today, thank you for the sunshine.  Thank you for getting to go to Isaiah’s little check up, and thank you for the BEAUTIFUL sunny day once again.  Feels like a special gift just for me, although I know what a beautiful gift it is for others as well. 

I just need time with you Jesus.  Craving it, starving without it.  Please, Lord, teach me how to take time to just sit with you—not worried about entertaining, visiting, or missing out on anything.  I love people and value the time they are choosing to spend with me more than anything!  But NOT over time with you, Lord.  Help me to do that…
Oh Lord, I need you, every second, every day.  Teach me to do this—quiet and writing, sitting in solitude at your feet.  It’s my absolute favorite thing.  Teach me how to do it in its own special way as this new schedule, life flow develops.  It feeds my soul.  Teach me how to enter in again.  In any environment it can and does happen, but there’s something about me deciding to STOP and separate myself to you.  Sit alone with you because I want to and need to.  I love you, Lord.”

I am astonished that someone who knew she was about to meet Jesus face to face is still solely focused on spending intimate time with Him—every day, all day. 

How much more do we, who might have many more days, need to saturate ourselves in His presence.  Christina was battling fear and despair and knew that both were dealt with in the presence of Jesus.  The source of Christina’s joy was Jesus.  The evidence of her life with Jesus was the joy that was present in her words, her countenance, and her conversations.  The very end of this entry in her journal was,
Jesus, thank you for your joy. 
I never expected or even knew that I could experience it now
and in this powerful way. 
You are so kind my Jesus.  So kind.
I love you.”

Always laughing with Linsey.
Christina’s life continues to instruct me—to focus on Jesus, to spend time with Him.  It is true that He is the answer to fear and despair. 
He is joy.  

He is truth. 

He is hope.

 He is life.

I hope in this sampling of pictures taken in Christina's final weeks that you can see evidence of the beautiful joy of Jesus radiating from her.  I know that these pictures always make me smile.
Nothing like a latte and a husband:)
Special walks with Doug and Isaiah.
Playing with Isaiah.
A hug for her brother.