Monday, September 28, 2015

You Live Here

First, thank you for your prayers for our retreat. It was the best one to date, mostly I think because we have had so much practice by now. Couples came and shared their grief with us and we hopefully lead them closer to Christ. 

I walked away from the weekend still feeling a little heavy, a little overwhelmed. September has brought in a flood of pregnancy loss outreach/educational events. In the last month I have:

-Attended a new support group, met other women, shared and listened to more heartbreaking stories
-Planned and led our own pregnancy loss retreat for couples
-Done two radio interviews sharing Caleb's story
-Spoke at a local parish to their Elizabeth Ministry Group to help them develop a pregnancy loss ministry
-Spoke over the phone with another parish across the county trying to help them start up a pregnancy loss ministry

And thats just formal stuff, not to mention the every day here and there of speaking with someone over email or Facebook that has had a loss. Recommending books or other resources to friends trying to help thier friends suffering a loss. And as I was praying this morning and "complaining" to the Lord about how hard it is to live in two worlds-the land of the living and the land of the dead- He spoke these words in the my heart "You Live Here."

I knew instantly what He meant. Four years ago when I felt Him calling us to start this ministry I had a vision (not like I actually saw it, more just in my imagination if that makes sense?) of Nathan and I moving out to a far off place. One that was very dark and very rocky. I felt the Lord ask me then "Will you stay here and build a town?" And I screamed "Yes!" Because at the time, that is what my heart longed for- a community of bereaved believers. Somewhere I could rest in my grief and be understood. And so in my mind Nathan and I built our home there-in the darkness of grief. We leaned into grief in our own lives and in a metaphorical sense we started to "build a home" in the land of the dead and dying. We started tilling the land to see if there was anything that could come from our brokenness.

About 1 year ago I felt the Lord telling me in prayer to look up. In my "vision" of creating this place or community for the lost we had been working hard to cultivate the land, so to speak,  to grow something out of our own brokenness. We had kept "our hand to the plow"  that we hadn't noticed the people, more like refugees, flooding in. And so when He said "look up" I had this vision of hundreds of people coming to our little "city for the broken." This was about the time that we had real life breakthrough in our ministry and were able to take our retreat to Chicago and go on national radio. For the first time I saw this ministry actually growing beyond our own parish and town and again I cried "yes Lord!" because that is what my heart longed for.

And now 4.5 years into this grief, my heart still longs for this city of the broken, but I just don't want to live there. Lately I've been trying to leave and thats where I feel the "burden" the most. Trying to live a normal life and getting "annoyed" with all this grief stuff that comes flooding in. And thats why God reminded me today "You live here" As in "You live here, in the town of the broken, the lost, the lonely. Please stay, please help these people, please show them the Father." He also told me that in the land of the living He doesn't really need me all that much-He can find others for that work-but here in the land of the darkness is where I live-not visit-but LIVE. 

And I had absolute peace after He revealed this to me. I get burnt out/stressed out/stretched when I try to go back and forth between the two worlds. But knowing that my mission and mission field are here-in the land of the dead- that gives clarity and simplifies things. And once again I cried out "Yes Lord," because I knew my heart was made for this-I was made for this. 

I will leave you with this from Isaiah. Nathan and I pray this often and really see it as a road map for our ministry.

Isaiah 61

The Mission to the Afflicted

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me
because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly,
to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners.
To announce a year of favor from the Lord.
and a day of vindication by our God, 
to comfort all who mourn.
To place on those who mourn in Zion, a diadem instead of ashes.
To give them oil of gladness in place of mourning,
a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit.
They will be called oaks of justice.
planted by the Lord to show his glory."

Dear Lord, please continue to make us "Oaks of Justice, planted to show your Glory" Amen!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The heaviness of grief ministry

"Cold is the night without you here
Just your absence ringing in my ears
Hard is the heart that feels no fear
without the bad the good disappears

Long is the road that leads me home
longer still when I walk alone
bitter is the thought of all that time
spent searching for something ill never find

take this burden away from me
and bury it before it buries me

Many are the days Ive wanted to cease
lay myself down and find some relief
heavy is the head that gets no sleep
we carry our lives around in our memories

so take away this apathy
bury it before it buries me

Steady is the hand that's come to term
with the lessons it has had to learn
Ive seen the things that I must do
Lord, this road is meant for two
So I am waiting here for you

So take my hand and set me free
Take my burdens and bury them deep
Take this burden away from me
Bury it before it buries it buries me"

This song has been playing in my head non stop for about two weeks now. I feel like it sums up not only grief, but also what grief is like now that I do a grief ministry. The stories I have heard recently from new support groups and couples registering for our retreat leave my head spinning. There is so much heartbreak and sadness in this world. I spent my holy hour this past Sunday pouring my heart out to the Lord, telling him much like the prophet Elijah "Enough oh Lord." Sometimes I wonder if I am strong enough to do this ministry, to continue to carry these stories and the hearts of these people with me. It all feels-heavy. And it often leaves me feeling unbalanced and not sure how to walk between two worlds-the land of the living and the land of the dead. And just when I wondered if God understood, or if he had really called me to this ministry I opened the book of Timothy and began reading my assigned Bible Study readings for the week.

"I am grateful to Him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry." 1 Timothy 1:12

As I read the words I felt God's smiling down on me saying ,"see, I did call you to this-you can do it-you were made for it." I left that hour of adoration feeling renewed and capable (or at least capable in knowing God is with me!)

This weekend will be good-I know that. Please pray for the couples seeking healing and for my husband and I as we lead them and train others to do this ministry.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Couples Retreat

There is still time to register for our retreat. Please spread the word to those in need.
 No cost for the couples.