Dear Matt,

We talk about you every day. Your brothers and sisters enlighten me as to all the things you taught them, things I wasn’t aware of, things that make me smile and say, “Yeah, that sounds like Matt.” You are in a thousand memories, and I am so grateful. Just this morning as your brother was making a glass of chocolate milk, your sister laughingly said, “Remember when we believed that brown cows gave chocolate milk and white cows gave white milk?” Yeah, that was from you, Matt. You could convince your siblings of almost anything! (And the milk thing? We’re pretty sure that came from *Gale. She convinced you of a lot, too. Best of all? Her love for you. Remember the “Guess What?” game, Matt?)

It’s hard, I know, for some people to believe that we talk about you every single day. For some slightly shake their heads, thinking that we are somehow “stuck” in grief, that this daily talk of you implies we are not doing well. Oh, how I wish they understood that it is quite the contrary.

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Speaking of our loss is exactly what fosters healing. Our loved ones may die, and we bury their bodies in the ground, but love does not die. Love is what remains. Should we bury our love? Should we not speak of that which we love, of those whom we love? No, we should not make our loss or our loved one the center focus of our life, but healing does not happen by doing what many generations ago did: buried their grief, never speaking of their pain or of their loved one again. That wasn’t healing; that was denial. They did not find healing by repressing their grief.

Matt, you are missed so very much. It doesn’t mean we are “stuck.” It doesn’t mean we cry every day. It doesn’t mean we don’t laugh. It means we live life here without you, yet remember daily the hole in our hearts. Your amputated presence throbs more some days than others, but we rub the memories of you on like salve. With joy, we remember you because that is what love does: love lives on. I love you, son.

Love, Mom

 

*Gale is my God-loving, dear sister-in-Christ, best friend, and farmer woman whom I have known for 25 years. When Matt was little, he always fell for her “Guess What?” game where she asked him, “Matthew, guess what?” Inevitably, he’d always respond with “What?” to which she would reply, “I love you!” Even on his 16th birthday, she messaged him “Guess what?” To which he replied, “Yeah, Yeah. I know.” Melts my heart. She is also, sadly, a member of “The Club No One Wants to be a Part of.”

You Never Let Go

You Never Let Go was the song we chose to play at our 16-year-old son‘s funeral.

It took me years to be able to listen to this song again. I still don’t listen to it without first pushing back snapshot memories of sitting in the front row of the sanctuary at our church, staring incomprehensibly at his casket.

Music stamps its imprint indelibly upon our memories, both good and bad. It speaks a language of the soul when words fail and lips still. Numerous Christian songs have ministered to me over the past five years. And they have this in common: They point me to Christ, to God and His character, to His promises, His love, and His faithfulness.

Friends, are you going through the unimaginable right now? Is there nothing that soothes or gives voice to your agony? How are you dealing with the pain? Are you seeking comfort through alcohol, pills, or other form of escape?

Nothing comforts like Christ.

Let me say that again: Nothing comforts like Christ. No thing comforts like Christ.

I heard You Never Let Go on the radio the other day and, astonishingly, smiled softly, for what I was thinking was this: Yes. Yes, He never let go. He held me then, and He holds me now.

What a gift music is, especially when it gives words to what we can not, when it ministers to the broken places and becomes a salve to the wound, a tourniquet to bind the hemorrhaged heart.

May Christ comfort.

Blessings,

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Nothing

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Do you feel separated, friend? Alone? Lonely? Left out? Forgotten? Abandoned? Then read those verses above carefully. Nothing separates you from God’s love.

Nothing.

Not death.

Not life.

Not angels.

Not demons.

Not the present.

Not the future.

No power, no height, no depth.

Nothing.

Not addiction. Not disease. Not cancer.

You can turn your back on God, dear one, but His love doesn’t leave. Nothing can separate you from His love. Not even you. He loves. He loves you.

#YouAreLoved

Blessings,

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He holds the stars

I came across this video the other day and have been playing it on repeat ever since.

It’s powerful because it brings up so many emotions. I read the book The Shack a couple of years ago. I found it intriguing, thought-provoking, and well written. I want to see the soon-to-be-released movie, but honestly don’t know if I can. Child loss is a difficult subject to view on the big screen, but altogether different when experienced as a bereaved parent. A viewer’s perspective isn’t “This is so terrible. I can’t imagine,” but rather a “I remember this. This is how I feel/felt. I lived it.”

But what gets me about this song are the lyrics:

You spoke a word and life began
Told oceans where to start and where to end
You set in motion time and space
But still you come and you call to me by name
Still you come and you call to me by name

If you can hold the stars in place
You can hold my heart the same
Whenever I fall away
Whenever I start to break
So here I am, lifting up my heart
To the one who holds the stars

The deepest depths, the darkest nights
Can’t separate, can’t keep me from your sight
I get so lost, forget my way
But still you love and you don’t forget my name

If you can hold the stars in place
You can hold my heart the same
Whenever I fall away
Whenever I start to break
So here I am, lifting up my heart
If you can calm the raging sea
You can calm the storm in me
You’re never too far away
You never show up too late
So here I am, lifting up my heart
To the one who holds the stars

Your love has called my name
What do I have to fear?
What do I have to fear?
Your love has called my name
What do I have to fear?
What do I have to fear?

If you can hold the stars in place
You can hold my heart the same
Whenever I fall away
Whenever I start to break
So here I am, lifting up my heart
(Lifting up my heart)
If you can calm the raging sea
You can calm the storm in me
You’re never too far away
You never show up too late
So here I am, lifting up my heart
To the one who holds the stars

You’re the one who holds the stars

Written by John Cooper, Korey Cooper, Jason Ingram, Seth Mosley • Copyright © Essential Music Publishing, Music Services, Inc, BMG Rights Management US, LLC
I had to smile a bit when I saw it was by Skillet. Skillet was one of Matt’s favorite bands. Oh, my heart.

Is there something that feels out of reach, my friend? Some ache, some dream, some sorrow that has you convinced that God has left your side? Have you lost hope, lost heart, lost purpose, perhaps?

Remember this: He held you then, and He holds you now. He who holds the stars, holds you.

 

Blessings,
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Groanings too deep for words

I have prayed. Oh, how I have prayed. And yet not all of my prayers were answered. At least, not in the way I wanted.

But make no mistake about this: though my prayers were not answered in the way I wanted, begged for, and sought, they were heard.

Dear friend, have you despaired of praying? I have. Has your prayer gone unanswered? Mine have.

I have prayed and prayed until I have no words left to utter. I am at the mercy of the Holy Spirit, relying wholly upon Him.

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I am without strength, without words. I don’t know how to pray anymore. Have you been there, too?

The words from Romans 8:26 give me comfort and hope this morning. They remind me that I am not the only one groaning. I have a helper, the Holy Spirit. I can rest in peace knowing that my prayers are not dependent upon my strength. My weakness is covered; His Spirit stands in the gap.

You can rest assured, your prayers, too, are covered.

Blessings,

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