Blessings from the Valley

Reflecting back on these past six years has granted me the awareness of the blessings I have received in the wake of tragedy. If I were to apply general human insight in attempts to define true blessings, I would be trapped in a valley that would be inescapable.

ValleyMany times our human perception is jaded as to what qualifies as a blessed life. The masses of society whether Christian or secular are under the spell that a care-free life without trial is their reward for something they have or have not done and gives the illusion that they are blessed because of it.

In truth, there is progress to be made from the pain brought on by of the trials of life. Of course, this is an easy claim, but in the midst of tragedy, our senses become blurred, and we struggle to find clarity. It is at this time that our anguish is at full strength and our ability to realize its temporal nature is out of reach; if there is purpose behind it, we are in no place to realize it, and we are in danger of casting blame where it does not belong. Unfortunately, God is more often than not the recipient of the stones we throw.

We must understand there is a Divine plan at work in these valleys we walk through. Jesus Himself tells us “…In this world you will have trouble” (Jn 16:33). He reminds us it will rain on the just and the unjust alike (Mt 5:45), so none of us are exempt. So when we are knocked to our knees, we are humbled and must learn to look up and seek God for the strength to continue. This will ignite a change in perspective that will grow our faith beyond our own understanding, and the occurrence of beauty from ashes will emerge.

So as we encounter the trials of life, we must remember their temporal nature and that God is at work refining our faith. We will be strengthened as we look to God to bring us through and find peace. And, above all else, these trials are of this world and do not have the power to follow us beyond and into our eternal home.

So, as for me, I am blessed and I give thanks to my heavenly Father for His provision over my life. I continue to learn to trust Him more as the earth below my feet is shaken.

May God Bless You and Give You Grace!

Posted in Adversity, Bereaved Parent, bible, child death, child loss, Christ, Christian Faith, Death if a child, Faith and Grief, Grief, grieving a child, Jesus, John 16, loss of a child | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Weights We Carry

HeavyWeightMy precious Angel Girl went to be with the Lord five years ago today. It seems like yesterday, and yet it seems a lifetime ago—how can this be? It is strange how time has its own agenda when it comes to my recollection of these past several years.

In reflection, I can say with certainty, the loss of a child is the heaviest weight a person can carry, and when it is fresh, there is a crippling effect that takes over and there seems no way to lighten the heaviness caused by its suffering. I know this to be true because I have tried to carry this weight. What I have learned is that I am not strong enough to carry it alone, and the strength needed to endure, comes from God the Father. He is the source of my comfort and strength.

3All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (2 Cor. 1:3-4)

There are other burdens that fall on us that have their own weight attached to them. Others do not realize the struggle that is taking place in relationship to the burden at hand, but there is heavy lifting going on behind the scenes. I say this, because no matter what the affliction; the loss of a child; financial woes; marital/relationship issues; or career challenges, a weight is never heavier than when you are carrying it. It is how you choose to lighten it that is the key.

Through my experience I have discovered and rediscovered that God the Father is the key. I look to Him for the comfort and the strength to endure the struggles I encounter. The action I take is to realize I must surrender my self-expectation of “lifting it alone”. Without that surrender, I think and run in circles and the weight just increases. Next, I confess my shortcomings to God in relation to my struggle, and then I ask Him for help. “Help me God…” It is with the comfort I receive, that I try to comfort others in need. I do still struggle, and I still try to “lift it alone”, but the time it takes to surrender is getting shorter day by day.

The weight I feel through the loss of my Angel Girl is lighter today than yesterday, and this is only by the grace of God and His comfort.

May God Bless You and Give You Grace!

Posted in Adversity, Bereaved Parent, bible, child, child death, child loss, Death if a child, Faith and Grief, faith walk, Grief, loss of a child, Loss of a daughter | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Don’t Run Your Feet Bare…

Four years have passed by since my Angel Girl ascended to the heavens above. This time has passed in the blink of an eye, and my heart has been humbled by God’s grace. Somehow the speed of this passing time has calmed my perspective to that of a sensitive observer, and I realize how easy it is to miss the splendor of life.

The pace of life around us and the lure of the culture of the day can pull our devotion in directions that do not serve the purpose of our lives. When we are reacting at this tempo, we fail to see the beauty before us, and we are in danger of losing sight of God’s sovereign nature. What God wants for us, lies directly in front of us, we will not get to where He wants us to be by leaps and bounds, we will get there one step at a time.

The people in our life, attribute to the calling God has for us—none more important than the gift of our children. They are our responsibility and at times our greatest teachers. I recently said to my son “when I was a child growing up, time went by so slow, but witnessing your childhood is but a blink of an eye”. There are many things I wish I could have experienced with my Angel Girl. Some of these things were in my grasp, but the pace of life and the selfishness of my time trumped what was right in front of me, and now I have lost my opportunity.

Do not run until your feet are bare and your throat is dry. But you said, ‘It’s no use! I love foreign gods, and I must go after them. (Jeremiah 2:25)

My plea is that my experience will prompt myself and others to rejoice in the gifts that God has placed in our lives. We must cherish these things and not run our feet bare by chasing false securities which will not quench our thirst. The beauty of contributing to our children and encouraging their faith NOW is part of God’s agenda for our lives. There will not be time for this when you think you will get around to it later.

May God Bless You and Give You Grace!

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Stumbling into Hope

HopeThe sureness of life at its peak is comforting, but as the days trickle by, we will stumble. This loss of footing may be the result of our own actions or the life events that are tossed onto our path without warning. These pitfalls can stimulate our faith in ways that grow our relationship with God, and we place a higher level of trust in His hands—this is a good thing.

The early passion we have for this new stimulated faith often has a time limit before we begin to question the why of what has happened. The timeframe of this shaken faith can be exposed within days, to years, and even decades. The one thing that occurs in this trust breakdown is that we have unconsciously and at times consciously written the outcome on our terms rather than Gods, and the limitation of our patience is our enemy.

Once this limitation has grabbed us, we lose our footing once again and our original stumble is magnified. We begin to look for other assurances to bring our walk back into balance. We may listen to the crowd or fill our heads with our own self delusions that seem to make sense until they have us stumble even further into despair.

The man of Job experienced a stumble in life that is far beyond any of the trials that have crossed my path. Through his anguish, and constant pressure from people within his circle of influence, he was faithful. Although he wavered, he remained standing firm in his faith.

15Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face. 16This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before him. (Job 13:15-16)

As I learn from Job, my faith is strengthened by hope, and that hope is in God. Through my stumbling, I must remain patient in Him, and not allow my restless imagination, or others to carry me off course away from the purpose that God has in store for me.

May God Bless You and Give You Grace!

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The Weeds of Judgment

WheatI am not alone on this journey I walk. I am surrounded by differing beliefs, opinions and ways of life, some to the extreme and some fall to the subtle side of where I stand. Then there are the agreements in sentiment that bring my surroundings to their whole. How I react to the opposition of who I am is my choice, but there is instruction as to how I am to carry out my response or non-response.

27“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28” ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29” ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” (Matthew 13:27-30)

It is not in my control as to who crosses my path, or who is mingled into my journey. Some are placed with purpose, whether for my benefit, their benefit or for mutual gain. In contrast, I do believe there are those placed for pure distraction by a force that does not serve the greater good. No matter the circumstance I am not qualified to distinguish the person or their position for which they stand. This allegiance is reserved only for the keepers of heaven’s gate.

Within my own beliefs and actions, I will be judged. It is with a humble heart that I pray that I am deemed a good and faithful servant. For the flaw in my own conviction that I allow my own flesh to cast judgment on the bystanders within my journey, I must pause, and clearly know that I do not embody the authority to do so. So, as I go forward in observance, I pray and do my best to lift up encouragement to those that surround me.

May God Bless You and Give You Grace!

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A Precious Gift Received…

Angel3The gift of life is a gift, and there is no obligation for repayment. If willing, gratitude arises and that appreciation serves as sufficient compensation. I received a precious gift twenty years ago bundled up and anointed Angelica Rae my Angel Girl. My gratitude overflows with all that God has given me through knowing, raising and loving this cherished gift, and I give thanks to my Lord for His generosity.

God’s timing and purpose is not for me to know, so when this precious gift returned to the heavens fourteen years into her young journey, I was submerged in grief. When the sting of my anguish found its resting place, I looked to God for comfort and understanding. It is difficult to explain the depth of my confusion, but I had to come to the absolute knowing that she was gone from her earthly walk and was not to return.

It would be too easy for me to throw blame at God for things I know nothing about. In truth, He knows my suffering beyond my full imagination. God tested Abraham through the offering of His son Isaac and recognized his devotion and loyalty to Him. Greater than this, the offering of His own Son Jesus shouts to the love that God reserves for us all. It is through this that I must realize that God knows the affliction and pain of my human experience.

…“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)

God knows all that I am, and has afforded me all that I have. He has allowed my walk to take shape in the direction I have set and waits patiently for me to recognize His will and to continually merge back onto the path that he has paved for my good. The gift of my Angel Girl was His to give and it was His allowance that permitted her to depart this earth when she did. I will not understand this fully until it is my time, but I accept that God understands and will continue to expose the blessings birthed from the precious gift He gave to me twenty years ago.

It is with this I bid Happy Birthday to my Angel Girl!

May God Bless You and Give You Grace!

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It’s Been 3 Years…

AngelSketchAs I sit here, I reflect on these past few years and the culmination of the years that brought me to the great divide—that unmistakable point in my journey when everything changed. This review exposes the man I was and the man I continue to transform into. This is not a story of flawed to perfection; but rather one of presumed perfection to humbly-flawed.

When this review settles on me as a father, I pause and think of my Angel Girl. I loved her as any father loves his daughter. With Angel, I was taken by her gentle confidence. She appeared shy, yet had a strength that grounded her in independence and her caring spirit was her gift.

I was blessed that God prompted me to write her the following letter to fulfill a school project of hers. This was written just one month before that fateful day…


God’s providence allowed for the timing of this letter and my heart is humbled by His foresight. I am truly thankful that I was able to share these heart felt words with my precious Angel Girl.

It becomes my challenge to embody a transparent heart in all that I pursue, and none more essential than in the relationships that surround me whether intimate or casual. This is to take what God is teaching me through the loss of my Angel, and putting the gentle heart He has given me into action. This new perspective has slowed my perception into patience through the love He has comforted me with. It is with this patience I experience all that He shows me and my character gains hope, and with this hope I am receptive to receive His eternal blessing.

3And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom. 5:3-5)

All that I would give to be the father to Angel as she lives and breathes today with this new perspective and faith, but it is just not to be. I pray that I embody this Godly view with my boys even though they have grown beyond my immediate guidance. It is my responsibility to remain intentional in their lives and be the change I encourage them to be.

My dreams and memories contain my Angel for me here, but I long for the heavenly reunion that will come to me one day, and that will be only in God’s time.

As I write in my journal every night, “Hey you my sweet sweet Angel Girl, I love and miss you with all my heart and soul” and with that I say Amen.

May God Bless You and Give You Grace!


Posted in Bereaved Parent, Bereaved parents, bereavement, bereavment, child death, Child loas, Christian Faith, Faith and Grief, Loss of child, Mourning a child, Salvation, shadows | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments

My Restored Gift…

My Spiritual Walk with God

As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. (2 Cor. 6:1-2)

There was a time when I strolled along this journey of life distant from the wonder that it is a gift from above. Minutes turned to hours; hours to days, days to months and then the years would accumulate without a second thought. I now find time is precious and unimportant all in the same breath. I know this to be true, because in the blink of an eye my existence can change course without warning. This was the case almost three years ago when the gravity of heaven lifted my sweet Angel Girl to her eternal…

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Crucified with Grace

41We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:41-43)

Many young Christians struggle with the gift of grace. I know this as I reflect on my own early resistance to a relationship with Christ.  My battle in those dawning days stemmed from a false need to buy salvation in some way. This transaction included the so-called works of faith or the good deeds performed to prove I was worthy of such a Divine gift.

This passage concludes the account of the two criminals that were with Jesus in His final hours, one full of pride and self, and the other penitent and humble. The humble man acknowledges his sins and realizes his punishment is just. He then accepts Jesus as the Son of God by asking for his memory to remain alive in the Kingdom of heaven. By this acceptance, Jesus assures him “…today you will be with me in paradise.”

We do not know the history or even name of this first Christian, but we know his salvation unfolded in an instant. There was no time for good deeds to be performed or perfect prayers to be recited. He confessed his sins and accepted Jesus as his savior. He was then awarded the Divine grace of the Lord and a passage into the paradise kingdom of heaven.

We must come to know that Grace is a gift through our acceptance of Jesus Christ. As this acceptance takes hold of us, our heart will yearn to perform the works of faith in and around this temporary home out of willingness not of obligation. It is through this same acceptance that we are awarded the door into our eternal home in heaven.

May God Bless You and Give You Grace

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Newtown Tragedy

My prayers go out to the children, families and all that have been effected by this tragedy, and as a bystander, I am deeply effected. As I think of these events, it is impossible for me to wrap my head around them, so it is with my heart that I ache. I pray for peace to find its way through the devastation that remains. There are no answers, only prayers. So with a heavy heart, I will pray and know that God’s grace is sufficient.

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