The Griever’s Secret

Jordan always did things a little differently. His life was extravagantly beautiful because he did the small and simple things in extravagance. Always honest, humble, and kind. Never drawing any attention to himself, but silently serving, giving, loving others. He taught me so much about true love. Simplicity is beauty in its most extravagant form. So many times I dream of one more second to smell him, hear him, see him, squeeze his hand or touch his face.

Now it is March and we are quickly approaching the one year mark of the day that would forever become one of the most horrifying days of my life. Watching the body I once called my own slip into eternity and out of my hands was disturbing. Death is disturbing. We weren’t made for this. But life here away from the One who created us is more disturbing. The moment Jordan left earth absolutely terrified me- but also allured me. In that single moment, I felt the closest I have ever felt to heaven but at the same time as far away from heaven than I had ever imagined.

I knew my groom was experiencing the glorious all-encompassing love that we had only tasted together here on earth. He finally was surrounded by it! We lived and breathed for our Jesus and now Jordan was finally with Him- but I’m still here.

The kingdom is filled with so many paradoxes, so we’ve heard before. To give away all is to receive everything. The highest honor is to serve the lowest. The poor are rich. The last will be first. The Most High King is here- riding on the back of a donkey.

I am daily astounded at the gentle comfort of a sovereign God. The same God who called Jordan home is the same gentle voice that wakes me every morning to tell me He sees me, He loves me, and He breaks with me.

The griever’s secret is simple and the sweet. What is the most precious gift you can give a grieving person? Grieve with them. Sit and hurt with them. Cry with them, laugh with them, be frustrated with them- just grieve with them. My Sweet Comforter takes this a step further- He bears my pain deeply, but it is more His than my own. He’s the ultimate griever of my broken heart. His grief is deeper than I am capable of feeling because the emotions I feel were created by Him in the first place. How much more deeply does He feel my pain? He loves me more than I love myself- He loves Jordan more than we all loved Him. Yet He places a new song in my heart every morning, and gives me the grace to walk through another day.

I imagine if God were to take me to His kitchen and open His cabinets, there wouldn’t be stacks of cups or saucers on the shelves. I envision His kitchen cabinets filled with countless stacks of glass jars. Each jar is filled with every single tear drop ever shed by His Beloved. As He rummages through the jars to find mine, it’s easy to see He’s deeply attached to each jar and its contents. He would take out my jar, (more like jars, I’m sure) hold it close to His chest and say, “I was this close. Every time a tear dropped from your cheek- I was right here.”

The Collector of Tears is near. He rides a donkey, and He dines with prostitutes. He sees you wherever you are.

He is with you today, and He will wipe your tears.

(Psalms 56:8; Revelation 21:4)

Miss these hugs.  "The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."  Ps 34:18

Miss these hugs.
“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Ps 34:18

I always imagine Jordan in heaven doing all kinds of adventures with Jesus.

I always imagine Jordan in heaven doing all kinds of adventures with Jesus.

Back in our dating days. So much laughter and joy.

Back in our dating days. So much laughter and joy.

When Faith Seems To Fail

Since March, I’ve been asked many times if faith seems like a failure to me. I totally get this question. Jordan and I knew we were to believe for his complete healing here on earth. There wasn’t a time when Jordan complained or doubted his healing. He used what was left of his voice to praise and declare the faithful works of the Lord during some of his final days here on earth. I knew Jordan was going to be healed… we all did. Instead, he experienced unimaginable pain and died at 23 years of age- and I got a front row seat to watch his suffering.

So what am I supposed to do now that God didn’t do what I begged Him to do?

I’ve realized that faith is more than I’ve given it credit. It is a deep well from which we must draw deeper in order to quench our thirst. When faith doesn’t satisfy our answer, we must go deeper in our faith to receive peace and wholeness.

I still believe in miracles, I still believe in healing. But for me to drop my beliefs because God didn’t do what I wanted Him to do would be cheating myself from the sweet richness of understanding that I will never understand the great depths of God. He is wild. He cannot be tamed. This wildness of God created galaxies we’ve yet to explore, breathed into dust and made man. If He did everything I wanted Him to do, then I could tame Him. And for some reason, there’s great peace in knowing that I could never put God in a cage. It’s this same cage I tried to put Him in when I didn’t think I would marry the man of my dreams because I didn’t think someone like Jordan could exist.

Faith is not a band-aid. It’s a way of living. Faith is standing alone at the end of the day with your husband’s wedding ring in your hand. It’s wretched and deep, it requires more from us than we are comfortable. The more we explore its uncharted terrains, the more we realize what we were created for. Admittedly so, I am glad He’s destroyed all the cages I’ve attempted to put Him in. If I could tame God, I would be heartbroken.

So now here I stand, ready to believe again. If I had to re-walk this journey, I would choose to walk it in bold faith again and again, because this journey exposed me to the most tender love of a faithful Father. He showed me He is wild and boundless, but stooped to my side to hold my hand through the hardest nights. I have seen the gentleness of God that has left me in complete awe. And through this faith journey, He gave me a rare and precious love- He gave me the gift of Jordan.

Faith has never failed me.

Beauty and strength. Fearless and gentle.

Beauty and strength. Fearless and gentle.

Good Grief

My Dear Community, 

Thank you for your love and prayers. Thank you for the encouragement and support. Thank you for standing with me during this time of grief. 

Two months ago from today, I held the hand of my first love and kissed his lips as he breathed his last breath. Jordan walked bravely into the arms of the One whom he lived to serve and love. If I could describe the final moment of his life, I could only paint in such a way: I watched his spirit slip out of the beaten, earth-ridden body and walk into an everlasting life. I felt his life leave his body as I kissed him one last time. He fought with everything and loved everyone intentionally through the most morbid experience of death I have ever witnessed. 

God, my heart is heavy. My heart is torn. I’ve been hit. But You are the Lifter of Heads.

I had almost 9 months with my bridegroom. Every moment was so rich in love and life that it seemed like we truly were married ’75 plus years.’ God let me be with His precious lamb for almost 9 months, and although it didn’t seem long enough to me, I still got the depth of a pure and fearless love that one would get in 75 years of marriage. I got my dream, but in a different way than I had hoped. 

If there’s one thing that I have realized in this journey, it is this: we were not made for death. The original plan was not to experience death. He never intended it to be this way. I often think of what went through His mind as He walked through His perfect garden alongside the first man He ever breathed life into. So in love with His creation, but still fully aware of the ominous future looming ahead. He knew we wouldn’t choose Him- we would choose death. Death so dark and disturbing, we didn’t even know what we were signing up for. But He knew. Yet, He still made a way for us to have life with Him in the end. Because He loves us that much, and He just does stuff like that- redeems broken, twisted, and ugly things. I understand a piece of the relentless love with which He stalks us, always at our heels, breathing at the back of our necks. We can’t escape His love because He already knows what we are going to do anyways. We can run all we want, but we will only run back into His infectious love.

Jesus revealed a piece of His love to me through Jordan. I believe He gave me Jordan to show me parts of Him that I was never exposed to or able to grasp. What a gift. And again I realize, He’s into redeeming broken things.

The hope I have through this time of grief is that in the life Jordan now lives with Jesus. I’ve begged for Jordan to come back so many times. But if Jordan were to come back now, I would stagger to believe heaven was then real and that great of an experience. No, Jordan is full and whole, with the Great Hope, the One whom we are living for in the first place. 

So to you, my dear family in Christ, I want to share with you what I shared in both celebration ceremonies of Jordan’s life. When I look at the community surrounding me during this time of heartache, those of you I have met and have yet to meet, I see soldiers covered in battle wounds. Our armor is battered and torn; we have blood on our bodies, dirt from fighting in the depths of a war.

But we won. We won my friends, because we fought in faith and we all watched Jordan walk into eternal life, completely healed. I look at what seems broken in my life and I see that it is to the desperate attention to a Savior who will redeem. What broken parts are in your life that make absolutely no sense? Redemption is on its way, in some surprising shape or form. Though sometimes, we have to force ourselves to look for it. The great thing about Jesus is that He doesn’t defend Himself, He defends us. He lets us look for that piece of redemption during our grief when we can breathe enough and are ready to see it.

Thank you for standing with me now. Thank you for fighting that long and rugged battle with us. 

Good grief. Have we been through a journey or what.Image

 

Day Three, Tear Free

I got my typical morning routine down to an art. We probably have very similar morning rituals: start out by waking up, washing your face, brushing your teeth, then hitting up the kitchen for some breakfast, stand there holding your box of cereal weeping uncontrollably, get dressed for the day… wait a second.

Weeping? While pouring cereal? Yes. This is me. Except not this morning, nor the past two mornings. Today is day three of being tear free, and I am proud of it! (Honestly, I am proud of my tearful days too.) Crying is such a foreign thing to me. I consider myself a pretty happy person, I take joy out of celebrating things, and I love life. But lately, I have been crying 1-5 times a day. NBD. Just pass me the greens, and I’ll start weeping.

Jordan has been stone-faced during this entire race. Eyes set on the prize, he wakes up every morning ready to fight. He knows this is only the beginning of his long and happy life. Though I see him flinch every now and then because of the sharp pains in his head, he has his complete gaze set on the hope that comes from the Love that has walked with us every step of the battle. Not a single complain or word of doubt has come out of his mouth. And oh how I admire his strength! He literally is like the action-movie hero that goes out and whoops all the villains, without even cracking a single “Ouch Joker, that really hurt me!”

These days, I have a mind full of questions I ask God daily. Sometimes I get angry with Him. Sometimes I ask Him questions that could make someone cringe (even myself). But after every single time we have a flavorful conversation, I feel loved more than I did before- even with my fists shaking at the heavens, “WHY?!”

Psalms and Job have some great emotional one-liners. Raw feelings right there. No sugar-coated, “Hello God, I feel as if I am currently experiencing a bit of angst because this situation is rather challenging.” Nope. Now with these people, I can relate.

Then I am reminded of My Great Love. He actually started loving me before I even knew He existed. This One has been carrying us through our real-life nightmare, and now I am yelling at Him while He carries me over the shifting seas. I am reminded He has felt what I am feeling, only deeper. Yet I speak to Him with clenched teeth, hoping to make Him flinch. But He holds me closer. I am reminded of what I read about Him: tattered body, barely breathing, He lifted His sweet head to cry through his bloody lips, “My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?

The ultimate emotional one-liner. He knows me and He feels my pain deeper than I do. My tears have been counted, my prayers have been heard. It may sound cliché; everyone says this to everyone who has ever experienced grief. But it sounds the best from the One who is listening.

I am excited for our future because I have made quite the tear-investment as of late:)

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
    we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
    and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;
    we are glad.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,

    like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears
    shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
    bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
    bringing his sheaves with him.

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Snow days on the ranch. 

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I was looking at Jordan’s head one evening, and realized there is a bald spot where I kiss him every night and every morning! Oops.

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There was a lot of giggles during our wedding ceremony. I love Dr. Steve Greene’s (our pastor, mentor, loved role model) face in this photo. 

Normal is Different

It’s been way too long since we’ve last posted, and we are so grateful to everyone who has been bearing with us while we went a little underground for a bit while Jordan took the time to rest and recuperate from the surgeries.

Jordan’s 2-day surgery went spectacularly. Our doctor was able to remove 80% of the tumor in Jordan’s head. As a result, there had to be a lot of “creative reconstruction” inside Jordan’s head to aid in tumor removal. Reconstruction of Jordan’s jaw, eye orbit, and his sinus cavities were cleared out and re-patched.

As a result, the recovery process has been hefty and long. For this past month we have been making big decisions about what our next steps should look like. Jordan is still healing from all that was done, and every day we are so grateful that the Lord used our surgeon’s hands to, and I quote, “scoop tumor out of Jordan’s head.”

During this month we prayed about what would be our next step in Jordan’s healing. After some crazy God-incidences, and seeing doors open left and right, we decided it was time for Jordan to really invest every single day wholeheartedly into his healing. A then-acquaintance invited us to stay on his ranch where he provides all organic meals for my husband as well as some other healthy and beneficial treatments. Jordan is on a very intense eating protocol, and he is sleeping about 10-12 hours a day. Every day is entirely devoted to healing spiritually, physically, and emotionally. The entire community is 100% convinced that Jordan will be completely healed. That, in and of itself, is extremely healing (especially to this wife’s soul!) Our friend who invited us to stay on his ranch went through this same protocol after he was diagnosed with cancer, and now he is cancer-free. We arrived at the ranch on Friday, the 22nd and plan on being here for at least 40 days.

My favorite thing about the ranch is that faith is a way of living- not a gigantic leap to take. Every day I see the Lord unravel parts of me that I never knew I was clinching tightly, with white knuckles and sore fists. Jordan and I are so excited for this new adventure together. We know he will be healed. We always say to each other, “seventy-five plus more years baby, hope you’re ready.”

I look back at these past 5 months and have to chuckle when I think about what normal means to us now. We’ve learned that our normal just looks a little different and that’s okay, it’s our normal. When we signed up to follow our Shepherd, we didn’t want normal anymore. We wanted Him.  Can’t wait for the new “normals” up ahead with my super hero and the ultimate Author, writing our new adventures at every turn.

Sweet friends, and dear family, I thank you. I thank you for all of you who have prayed during this past month, and those who continue to pray for us. To all of you who have given, prayed, encouraged, or even thought of us… thank you. I never knew how much community could heal a person until now. It’s powerful and electrifying, yet warm and encompassing. You have given that to us. Thank you so much for being the body of Christ to us and surrounding us with your love. When our hands were too weak to hold, you lifted our arms to fight. When our legs were to weak to stand, you carried us with prayer.

We love you and we thank you.

Jordan 2 days after surgery

Taken October 28. Of course, smiling after surgery and thanking every nurse.

The Cutest Christmas Elf

Celebrating Christmas at our apartment with dear loved ones before heading to the ranch.

Our new view from our front door.

Our new “normal” neighbors- our lovely cow friends!

Round two of Christmas decorating! My fave! (We have 4 Christmas trees in our one-room bunk!:)

Then and Now. The difference in one month. 

Can’t Flip the Pages Fast Enough

Jordan is having the first part of his surgery today. After a very long and chaotic morning, sweet Jordan’s surgery was running over 2 hours late. Of course, he is all smiles and positivity. 

I have been receiving hourly calls from the nurses letting me know that everything has been going smoothly. We are thinking he will be out of surgery after 8-9 tonight. 

Meanwhile, me, my sweet in-laws, and my mother are passing the time by rotating waiting rooms, snacking on Pop Rocks, and drinking cups of coffee… Remaining occupied is one of my first lines of defense I use during my fragile-hearted seasons in order to guard my mind from going down too dark of alleys. Perhaps that is why so many times my sweet Father encourages me to “be still.” For me, this almost seems like a dare. If I dare to be still, I may hurt or wander, but He quickly steps in the clouds of my mind and reminds me of His promises.

In these still moments, I am reminded that He is writing mine and Jordan’s story- not the doctors. The ultimate Author has had His pen in hand for 23 years now, carefully developing every intricate piece of our story… and so far, He’s written a pretty incredible story -if I do say so myself!  

When I was in middle school, I asked the Lord to write me a beautiful love story. One that would turn heads and show others the Love is real. Four months into marriage, and I am still breathless at the fairytale He has given me.

Thank You Dearest, for being my Author.

I was talking to my lovely mother-in-law about how I feel like Jordan and I are at the beginning of our story. I told her how I can feel our happy ending brewing richly right around the corner. I just can’t seem to flip through the pages fast enough to get to our happy ending! 

Later, I felt Jesus say to my heart: I just can’t flip through the pages fast enough either

I love that He not only writes my story, but He waits for me at the happy ending and is eager to see me read every page He meticulously worded and pieced together. It’s like He’s excitedly waiting for me to discover what is in our next chapter. 

 

Waiting rooms are brutal. But I know this is just a page. The next page has something sweeter.

 

 

II Chronicles 20

“…For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” – Judah (vs. 12)

“Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” - The Lord, in response (vs. 15)Image

Prince Charming ready to slay the Dragon. See ya cancer.