Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Jesus and Grief

Recently, in my weekly email, I wrote about the idea of women as bearers of Gods messages to His people. I loved what I found.

In the process of that research, as I was reading/thinking/writing about Jesus' having given Mary of Magdala a message to speak to His followers, I started to notice another facet of the situation. I saw it in the account given in the gospel of Mark, but wanted to double check my theory. I read through that same section in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and also the first part of Acts, just to be sure.

Here is the thing that has been driving my eager search:

While Jesus rebuked his disciples for their hardness of heart, for not believing those He'd sent with news of His return to life, He never rebuked the disciples for their grief over his death!!

I have heard Bible teachers scorn Jesus' followers for huddling together in grief and despair, as if they really should have known better. We, with the benefit of hindsight and the whole New Testament at our fingertips could easily roll our eyes at their response. "Seriously. He told them, over and over, what was going to happen! They should have just believed Him! Sheesh!"

We've gotten it so wrong! Having walked the harrowing halls of tragic loss this past year, I have a whole new view of the situation. I have grown a deep compassion for those shocked, traumatized, devastated disciples. Of course they were huddled together behind locked doors, shaking and grieving! Of course they felt abandoned and completely at-sea.

They did not have the benefit of hindsight or a fistful of explanatory New Testament Scriptures to enlighten them. They had just seen the one they loved the most tortured and torn to pieces and brutally killed. The mob that screamed for Jesus to be crucified could very well have been out for the blood of His followers as well. They must have been terrified! And absolutely heartbroken.

Then, in came Mary, shaking and stumbling over her words, insisting that she'd just seen Jesus and spoken to Him. They brushed aside her claims. I imagine that some of them may even have been angry at her. Under intense emotional strain, people often revert to less-developed versions of themselves. Trauma does not tend to bring out the best in people. Everything in their cultural background, and in her own personal, pre-Jesus history, told them she had no right to speak and should not be believed. They refused to believe her. A few, including Peter, at least went to check out her story. In fact, it says Peter ran to see for himself.

Later, when Jesus himself suddenly appeared among them, behind those closed, locked doors, did He shame them for their shock and grief? No. He rebuked them for not believing any of the messengers He'd sent to tell them of His resurrection.

Mark 16:14 "...he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen."

Each Gospel gives the account of Jesus' life, death and resurrection differently. Not that any is right and the others wrong. They were written by individuals who were more deeply impacted by one fact of their experiences or another, and told it from their own point of view.

-Matthew leaves out this first encounter, skipping to their final meeting on the mountain in Galilee.
-Mark says He rebuked their hardness of heart and unbelief.
-Luke tells how startled and frightened they were at his sudden appearance, how he questioned their troubled, doubtful hearts and then assured them of the truth of His identity and life.
-both Luke and John say that He greeted them with, "Peace be with you." John also tells what Luke did- that Jesus showed them the wounds of His crucifixion to assure them of his identity.

He never rebuked them for their traumatized far, and, so important to me just now,
He never rebuked them for their grief. <3 <3

In some circles, grief is shamed as weakness or a lack of faith. This is not biblical! The Bible does say, in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 that we should not grieve as those who have no hope, but it never says that we should not grieve at all. The Bible does not urge this sort of forced, stoic, false "victory" over justified sadness. On the contrary, Jesus himself said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Matthew 5:4

There is no shame in grief. There is no agenda to hurry through it. Grief, in Jesus' agenda, was met with compassion and the promise of comfort.

In the same way, He meets us today in our grief, with tender love and bottomless compassion.

*Where to find those accounts:
Matthew chapter 28, Mark chapter 16, Luke chapter 24, John chapters 20 & 21
 *Soon, I hope to have my website finished, with a handy link for subscribing to my weekly emails. In the meantime, if you're interested in joining my mailing list, you can write me at kristiewrites@yahoo.com and I will gladly add you. My weekly notes are generally light-hearted, random musings, with occasional bits of deeper thought.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

I can't write it yet...

People have asked me to share what are good things to say to those who are grieving, and what are things better left unsaid.

I've tried.

I've tried four times.

I have not posted any of it.


The hurt has still been too raw and ready, and it has taken me to a very angry place. I don't get angry over most of the things that were said to me. What stokes my fire the most is the memory of words that have hurt our children and made this already agonizing road even more painful. Mama bear. She has a hard time letting go of hurt to her cubs.

 What have I learned?

I will write about those things someday. First, though, it is essential that I walk the road of forgiveness over all of those clumsy, thoughtless, well-intended, damaging, hurtful words. I wrote about this in my most recent post. I have not posted anything since because I am living the journey right now.

I am doing the hard work, prayerfully, sometimes reluctantly, but committed to pressing on.

I will not be able to write in a healthy, hopeful, helpful way about the words that hurt until I have excavated the buried pain and resentment in my own heart and let it go.

For now, I'll continue to share the journey toward forgiveness.

And someday, when I can do it without fire shooting from my fingertips, I will write about the words that were spoken to us in our hardest days.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Lord, I forgive....help my unforgiving heart

"Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"
Mark 9:24 NKJV

These words give me such comfort and such hope. They tell me that it is truly okay to come to God with what scraps I have; to speak to Him from where I truly am.

It is not only okay, He invites us, calls to us, longs for us to come running to him in the middle of our confusion and mess.

"Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."  Hebrews 4:16 NIV

Jesus wants us to come straight to him in our greatest weakness and deepest need.

This is where I am.

I wrote before about my need to forgive. (Blocking the Peace- Sept. 17, 2019)
This is real and soul-deep. These are some of the greatest wounds my heart has ever endured.

At least...that is how it feels to me.

What is it that I have been clutching to my chest, refusing to let go?


That is the naked, ugly truth.

Holding onto hurt and refusing to forgive means that I hold blame to people for hurt to myself or to my loved ones.  Here's the thing: Whether these people are truly at fault (and some of them are) or whether my heart and mind have laid blame where it is not really justified...the need to forgive is the same.

Forgiving means that I will surrender my toxic emotions that are tied to each situation. It means that I will relinquish the "right" of resentment.

Whether or not my hard feelings are justified does not actually matter. Either way, I must let go of my hurt and anger. I must hand it all over to God and allow him to wash my heart clear and set my mind free. I need to give up to Him my ticket for endless re-runs of the incidents that caused hurt.

So, how am I doing with that?

Well...I have made a start. I have made a small baby step of beginning.

I have looked at each name on my list of "People I need to forgive." I have recalled why each name is on that list, and I have prayed for the grace to forgive.

I paraphrased that verse in the book of Mark to fit my own deep resistance and need.

"Oh Lord. I need you. Please help me. I choose to forgive. Lord, please help my unforgiving heart."

After many months of refusing to even discuss with God the wounds festering in my heart; after weeks of giving frowning side-eye to this list on my table...I heaved the first reluctant sigh of surrender. I took the first small, pained step on the road to healing.

No fireworks burst in the sky. No choirs sang or trumpets sounded (none that I could hear, anyway). But I know that my loving Father wrapped His arms around me and held me close as I did this first, small, hard thing. After I prayed, I felt the first, tiny, quiet easing of this tight know of hurt.

It's a start.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Blocking the Peace

"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts..." Colossians 3:15b

Having been in church since before I was born, these words have mushed into a blur; all run together into one word. letthepeaceofChristruleinyourhearts... Having heard them times beyond counting, they had almost ceased to have meaning to me...until today.

I have been feeling for a while as if there's a thick curtain between God and me. I've resurrected my practice of daily devotional and Bible reading and prayer, but it feels...effortful. It is a meaningful time, and I have been touched, moved and learned important things, but my spirit feels sort of stodgy. Recently, I have been praying about this, asking God to show me what roadblock I have put up.

A feeling of distance from God is never caused by Him pulling back. He is unchanging, and His love is poured out in never-ending, changeless bounty. If I feel far from God, or cut off from Him, it is always because I have moved away or allowed something to come between us. But what is it this time?

The light began to dawn last night, as I talked to our daughter on the phone. I think the feeling of broken communion may be tied directly to a sticky note on our dining room table.

The note signifies a move in the right direction, but it also represents the sticking-place in my walk with God. The note is a short list of names, and it is titled, "People I need to forgive."

Thankfully, because of God's deep, heart-deep, decades-long work in my life, the list does not extend beyond last year. I have been on a long journey of forgiveness, starting about thirty years ago. I have learned that forgiveness comes in layers, as a long process over time. I have learned to forgive, by God's grace, in the exact moment I am being hurt; to forgive instantly rather than carrying around the offense like a trophy of my victimhood.

I have spoken boldly on the topic of forgiveness, and urged others to walk right into those deep waters, because I know the incredible healing and freedom that bloom on the other shore.

And yet, I have a list of names on my table, of people I have not forgiven.

There is a common thread to this list. It is comprised of a couple of people who have a fairly short path of influence toward the suicide of our son, people who said thoughtless hurtful things to me in the wake of his death, and people who made this already-agonizing year even harder for Lee or our other three kids. Mama Bear struggles to forgive hurt to her cubs.

God, in His infinite, gentle mercy, did not address my need to forgive for long months after Michael died. I think it was probably eight or nine months before He started, ever-so-gently, nudging the idea of forgiveness. I knew the hurts that lay behind that door, but I felt that unleashing all that wounded rage might tear my fragile self to pieces. Despite God's loving nudges, I kept that door firmly, emphatically locked, barred, bolted and nailed shut.

The first, most tiny of baby steps that I have taken forward was to write this list on a sticky note, and to acknowledge the need to forgive. I made that step, and there I stopped.

Given my decades of experience on this topic, I have no illusions over the process. I know that I can't just hurry by with a quick, "Yeah, I forgive them." For true freedom and healing to take place, I know that I need to sit still and let those incidents out one by one, honestly facing the pain and hurt and deep betrayal that are bound up with them. Before I can let go of those heavy wounds, I have to feel them, at least for a moment.

I know that the moment will be brief, if I then turn and release the people and incidents into God's hands, but I have been avoiding even that short time of feeling the pain. I'm just tired of bearing hurt and sadness. It gets really, really old.

I also know, though, that I will never move forward into healing, into peace, into many things, until I let go of these hurts and my rights of resentment.

This is why the peace of Christ is not ruling in my heart. It can't, because I have filled that space with hurt and anger and resentment. If I want to move back into God's peace, I have to clean house. I have to relinquish my "right" to hold onto those offenses and surrender them to God's much-better justice and wisdom. I need to move from my sticky-note list to the actual work of forgiveness.

The broader picture and beautiful benefits of this are spelled out in the rest of the verse I quoted above.

Colossians 3:14-15 "And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful."

- I am not acting in love by holding onto these hurts, no matter how deeply justified my hurt may be.
- It is love that creates a commerce of harmony between hearts. It is love that heals. I am not acting in love by holding stubbornly to this list. God's love is all around me, poured out to me like Niagara in flood, but I am letting it lie on the floor, not taking it up, because I am holding other things in my heart. His love heals, and makes possible the love that flows between hearts.
- Letting the peace of Christ...I used to hear that like, "May the peace..." as if it were a benedictory wish from the author to readers. Now I see that in that one small word lies a wealth of choice, determination and opportunity. I have to choose to allow the peace of Jesus Christ to operate in my heart through the avenue of forgiveness. My willingness is the key that will open the door to His peace.
- And be thankful. My eyes need to move from the hurts of the past to the face of Jesus. My heart will rest in His peace when I fill my thoughts with gratitude, rather than rehashing or clinging to past hurt.

These hurts are big, and beyond my strength. I cannot, in my own abilities, do the heavy work of rooting them up and moving them out. I just have to be willing to look at them, and then let go of them. Once I do that, God will do the heavy lifting.

Sometimes, the process is quick. Sometimes, it is a layered work that takes place over time.

I see now that I will not move out of this stuck, clotted place until I let this process begin.

One of the best quotes I've ever heard is: "Refusing to forgive is like drinking poison and waiting for the other guy to die." It is so true. Holding onto hurt and resentment, nurturing them and clutching them close...it only hurts me. It keeps me from really wonderful things that God wants to do in my heart and my life.

So, this is me, preparing to do the hard and scary thing; preparing to tear off the locks and start letting the big things out of their closet. And you know what? I'm pretty sure that God is already sitting in that moment, with a heart full of tender love, ready to meet me there. He will not leave me to face these hard things alone. He will hold me close through it all.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Beginning and Ending With Thanks

My greatest battles take place inside my own head.

The giants I wrestle with most often are hurt, resentment and a complaining attitude. It is so easy to fall into those traps. My mind can be spinning in toxic spirals without my even realizing that I've gone there, yet again.

So... how do I fight the battle for my mind?

The stock answer would be, "Just pray. That will solve it."

But it's not always that simple.

Prayer can take many tones. There are whiny prayers, and resentful prayers, and angry prayers. Praying angrily or resentfully does not help to pull my mind out of its unhealthy track. Toxic prayer does not heal.

I have a long journey with this struggle, and I have learned a few things. Many would say that if you're having a bad attitude about someone, you should pray for them. That can work, or it can just be a continuation of the same destructive thoughts, dressed up in spiritual clothes. Complaining about someone in prayer is no different than complaining about them in my own head. Praying angry prayers about someone can feel like flinging sharp rocks at their head. Spiteful prayer is ugly.

Angry, resentful, complaining, whiny prayers do not help move a person to a more healthy inner space.

What does help?

Here is what I have learned:

When I am in that space of toxic spinning, the only thing that will stop it and send me in a fresh direction is to focus entirely on God. Talking to Him about my resentments does not help if my attitude still stinks. Talking to Him about the beauty of His own character helps tremendously!
Singing worship songs, even silently in my mind, helps. Recalling Bible verses about God's love and faithfulness helps also.

In my struggles with sleep, I have learned that the moment my mind goes still it will leap to upsetting places. It will either fling me into some painful place about the death of our son, or it will dig up hurtful words and dismissive actions that have come my way. Either one is sure to kick my adrenaline, which guarantees that I will not sleep for a couple more hours. Reading the Bible just before I go to sleep often helps to circumvent this cycle. I have the Bible on my Kindle, which sits next to the bed. If I put my thoughts on God's Word just before I sleep, that puts me in a better frame of mind and helps me to downshift from the day.

There is still the moment after I've put down the Kindle, when I'm settled and ready for sleep. What I'm thinking of as I drift off makes all the difference. For me, if I start praying about issues or for people at that point, it can wind me up all over again. The one thing that works is...gratitude.

The same is true in the morning. If I can plant gratitude in my mind before it has a chance to take any other tack, it sets a better tone for the entire day.

Gratitude is not fancy, but it works. All I do, as I lie in bed, slowly waking up, is to say, "Thank you," in my mind. I do the same at night. When I'm all settled, and drifting toward sleep, I simply think, "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you."  It doesn't have to be thanks for anything specific. Simply saying thank you is enough.

This, making my last and first thoughts be words of thanks, has helped me more than anything else.

I do still deal with skirmishes inside my mind during the day, but it truly does make a difference if I begin the day by pointing my heart toward gratitude.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Softening the hard ground

I recently listened to a podcast that spoke of the Parable of the Soils (also known as the Parable of the Sower). This refers to the story Jesus told in the New Testament, in Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-15. 

The parable speaks of a farmer who sowed seed on all kinds of ground rather than on carefully prepared fields. Some of the seed landed on a hard-packed path where birds came and ate it, some on rocky ground where the soil was shallow. The plants sprouted and grew but with no deep soil for their roots, they could not bear the sun and soon withered and died. Some seed fell on ground full of weeds, which grew up and choked out the good plants. Finally, some seeds fell on soft ground, on fertile soil, where they grew and flourished and produced a rich crop. 

In the parable, the seed is the Gospel, the good news of Jesus, and the different soils represent the hearts of people; how they respond when they hear about Jesus.

Being a church girl, I have heard this parable my whole life, almost to the point where the words have no impact on me anymore. I think of it as getting anesthetized to the Bible- having heard it so many times that we just don't hear it anymore. 

This time, though, the words struck me in a fresh and relevant way.

The past year has been a hard one, to put it mildly. I was already under tremendous stress before we got the news of our son's death, which drove my stress to ridiculous heights. In those early weeks, when I could hardly breath from the pain, I clung to Jesus like I never have before. I knew that He was the only way I would survive that desperate sorrow.

As the months went by, though, that sense of urgency faded. I no longer stuck to Jesus like a limpet. I was no longer faithful and deliberate about drinking in the healing words of the Bible or filling my days with the beauty of worship music. 

Grief is an extreme roller coaster of emotion, and it affected my walk with God.

How thankful I am, that my understanding of God's grace and love has grown so much deeper these past few years. I know now that God has tremendous compassion for our slow, fumbling, confused journey on His pathway. He loves us hard every moment, every step of the way. He loves us deeply and sweetly in midst of our sadness, questions, distance and anger. His love is poured out to us like the grandest, most thunderous waterfall, every moment of our lives. His love is like the softest, most fragrant and gentle breeze that cools our miserable faces when life beats hard and hot like desert sun.
Because I have learned these important things, I knew that God would not be impatient or angry with me for the place I was in. I knew that He would sit with me in love and help me gently to a better understanding.

One of my new favorite sayings is "God has not brought you this far, just to bring you this far." There is always a further plan. 

This time, He spoke to me through the long-familiar parable of soils and seeds. In that story, He showed me the state of my own heart.  The story was suddenly not about a response to the Gospel, but a metaphor personally tailored to my own struggles.

I saw my heart hard-packed and dry, with tough, stringy weeds and sharp rocks stuck fast. A wave of despair swept over me at that. I was overwhelmed at the thought of all the work it would take to change soil like that to something soft and alive and ready for good things. 

But...another version of the idea in that saying- "God has brought me this far, but He loves me too much to leave me here." 

He quickly changed my view, bringing other verses to mind, tying them to a parable of my own life, to real things happening that very day. 

For weeks, storms of lightning and torrential rain had rolled over us every night. Vigorous weeds had sprung up with all that nourishment, making the spot where our travel trailer is parked look a little shabby. I miss puttering in my yard, so I decided to do a little weeding. It's not my job to make it neat. The people who take care of this park do a good job, but I wanted the physical activity and the satisfaction of the work. 

I put on gloves, took a sack with me and went out to pull weeds. It felt so good. I enjoyed being outdoors with a fresh breeze blowing, easing the weeds out of the soil. Though this ground has been compacted by years of tires driving over it, and though it is covered with a blanket of packed gravel, the weeds came out easily...because the soil had been softened by the steady, daily rains.

Ah. That is when the lights started to dawn. 

When faced with a patch of dry ground with a heavy crop of weeds, what does a gardener do? What did I do, in my flowerbeds back home? I did not start by trying to pry those tough weeds from the brick-hard ground. 

No, I started by softening the ground, by putting water on it to mellow it and loosen its grip.

I did not need to throw exhausting effort at trying to fix the state of my heart and force it back into line. All I needed to do was to put water on it, to let the water gently soften that hard soil. God will do the work of pulling the weeds and digging out the rocks. I just need to get my heart ready for His gentle, healing work.

But how? How do I "pour water" on the dry ground of my heart? I can't set a sprinkler and let it run. What does that even mean, to water my heart?

The verses that God brought softly to my mind as I worked at pulling weeds were these:

Romans 12:2a "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind..."

Ephesians 4:23 ..."and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds"...

Ephesians 5:26 ..."that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word"...

God connected the dots of these ideas to show me a beautiful picture. The thoughts bumping against each other in my head were about renewing my mind (refreshing it, giving it new life) and the phrase "washing with the water of the word."

When I called a halt to my weeding project, I came inside to do some digging in the Bible. I don't have Bible verses and their references all neatly filed in my brain. Often, I do an internet search with the bits of a verse that I recall, which gives me the reference for the verse. Then I look it up so I can see what it actually says.

The picture God gave me with those few words was so beautiful.

The heavy work is all His. All I need to do is to soften the ground. How? By filling my mind with the living water of His Word. My job is only to get into His presence, by reading my Bible. His job is everything else.

That is so beautiful, and brought deep relief to my soul. Instead of heavy labor, all I have ahead of me is to rest under the shadow of His wing, close to His heart, and read His love letter to me.

He will do the rest.


Saturday, July 27, 2019

God loves me with quarters

Sometimes, when we're too lost in our own pain or numbness, we can become a little blind to God's attentive love for us. Sometimes, when this happens, and He knows that we especially need to be reminded of just how loved we are, He does something a little out of the ordinary to get our attention. He did this for me this week, with a handful of quarters.

Remember those state quarters, one for each of the United States? I loved those. I diligently hunted for them, putting together a set for each member of our family. I got the special pasteboard folders for them, and felt such satisfaction when every divot was filled with its proper coin.

And then came the U.S. territories series, and the parks and monuments series. I truly enjoy both the search and the quarters themselves. Many of them have beautiful artwork.

I didn't start collecting the parks and monuments quarters until a year or two after they started being issued, so I missed a number of those early ones. I've kept a list of what I'm missing, and over the years I've found many of them. There were a few, though, that I had never seen. Yosemite, El Yunque and Acadia were the final three that I had never found.

Since we started living in our travel trailer last December, we now frequent laundromats and the laundry rooms of RV parks, which necessitates a stead flow of quarters. I often take a few minutes to sift through each new roll of quarters, hunting for buried treasure. I have found a few to fill gaps, but still, those few early ones eluded me.

In the process of all the shuffling in our moving process, some state quarters had fallen out of our folder, and Michael's as well. I was so frustrated to see that. Too late, I thought to put each one in a large plastic zipper bag. I did that, sighed, and started searching for replacements for the missing coins. I'd been able to find all but two, by the time July rolled around.

In addition to the frustration factor, there is also the emotional element of having lost anything remotely related to Michael. That nerve is raw.

This week, we passed the thirteen-month mark since we learned of our Michael's death. He took his life on June 24th, and was found by a friend the next day, which is when we got the news. Every month, those two days are just hard for me. My heart hurts, and every one of my nerves is on edge. This loss of our beloved child is like no other pain I have ever experienced. The days that mark the count of how long I've lived without him carry an especially heavy weight.

One of the ways I survive those hard days is to intentionally carry on with basic tasks of daily life. This week, that meant laundry. I could have done my laundry on another day, but I decided to do it on the 24th. I thought it would help me to get through the day in a healthy way. The laundry room is a few dozen yards away, so doing laundry gets me out the door, walking back and forth in the sunshine and fresh air. It's good for me, and does good things for my heart.

I had schlepped the first bag over and started the first load, scanning the quarters as I dropped them into the slots. There was nothing I needed, so I started the machine and walked back to our trailer. I thought that, rather than checking each quarter as I used it, I should probably make the effort to check all of them at once.

I sat down at the dinette and emptied the baggie of quarters onto the table. I pulled out the wrinkled little paper with my list of long-sought treasure, and began the search. On the second handful, I smiled. There was the last state quarter I needed to refill our folder. A few coins later, I smiled again. There was the last one I needed, to fix Michael's folder. I whispered, "Aww, thank you," and continued my search. That comforted a small sore place in my heart, being able to replace what was lost.

I dropped each handful back into the baggie as I finished checking it. In all, we had about one or two rolls worth of quarters on hand. On the third or fourth handful, I turned a quarter and my eyes grew wide. There was Yosemite, from 2010! I smiled so big! "Oh, thank you!"  I set it aside with the others, turned over a couple more coins, and froze. There was El Yunque, from 2011.

I sat and stared at that quarter with misty eyes and said, "Are you kidding me?!" Goosebumps prickled my arms as I added it to the pile of "finds." I turned over a few more quarters and there it was: Acadia, from 2011, the last of the long-sought quarters. I looked at that silver coin, buried my face in my hands, and cried.

It might seem silly, but I had been searching for these specific quarters for seven or eight years. Every pocketful of change, every time I emptied my coin purse, I checked every quarter, looking for these missing few. All those years...nothing.

Until this day, when my heart was sad and sore, and my loving Father reached down from Heaven to send a precious message to me. It wasn't really about the quarters. It was about my heart. Finding every single one of the coins I'd longed to find in one small pile, all together, sent me a very clear message.

It said, "I see you. I see your heart. I know you. I am with you. You are so loved."

The odds of those specific, hard-to-find coins all showing up in one single batch are beyond any measure of coincidence.

But God.

He wanted to speak love to my hurting heart, and He did it in a way that I could not miss. He did what He has promised to do, and what we have seen Him do over and over this past year: to love me, to hold me close, to be tenderly with me in the broken middle of my pain.

He is here, holding me close. He sees my aching heart and catches every tear.

I see His hand in the beauty around me, and when I revel in an exquisite sunset I often think, "He paints the sky with glory." But that is not something He does for me alone. I am blessed and uplifted by the majestic, fiery beauty of it, but it's not just for me.

This, though, was about as personal and pointed as it could be.

My God, my Abba (Papa, Daddy), my Heavenly Father, reached into my world and showed me His presence and His love with an unmistakable flourish.

Some might think of this as a sign from Michael, but I've never known what to think about that idea. It never sat comfortably with me. I read an article a while back, where the author talked about these things not as signs from the departed loved one, but as signs of love from the One who loves us most. That felt right to me. That spoke peace to my soul.

So, this week, when my heart was a small sad thing, hurting and tired, Jesus reached out and sent me a love note, spelled out with common coins.

Jesus and Grief

Recently, in my weekly email, I wrote about the idea of women as bearers of Gods messages to His people. I loved what I found. In the pr...