When You Have to Process the Really Big Life Events {like when your father dies}

There are events in life that are beyond our control and some of those rattle our world.  It requires that we adjust to a new reality, a major change, and usually brings with it a shift in perspective.  It may be a diagnosis when the day before you felt fine.  It may be a sudden lay off from a job you’ve held for 20 years.  It may be someone saying they don’t love you anymore.  Events of this size need time, for the adjustments within us don’t happen by flipping a switch.
I recently had a new reality handed to me and the processing of that reality is requiring something of me.  My father went to Heaven after a 30 year battle with several things that had a common denominator of chronic pain.  My immediate response to his passing was one of great relief that he was no longer trapped in that body of ailments.  As I’ve processed the change this brings to my life, my brain sometimes checks out and I think of putting out an APB to find it.  I’ve dubbed it a Funeral Fog.  My husband has held me, and my friends, pen and paper, have helped.

Journal: It was like we’d watched him run an 83 year marathon, and we hear he has crossed the finish line in much weariness but great joy, and the crowd roared as he entered in victory.  I’d like a phone call to let me know he is doing well, like when you send your child to college on another continent, but I won’t get one. There’s no sound anymore.  We put on emotional safety goggles at first to protect us from what we see, and they must come off.

I realized that what I miss is the way he used to be.  Dad was an in-charge person, and I watched him run his business and run the farm, work the horses, unload trailers of hay.  He talked to people all the time, everywhere, putting deals together, selling, meeting needs.  He had a way of connecting with people that made them feel significant.  He told us stories and published some about his childhood.  He was large to me, and I feel strange that he is no longer here, like a giant tree has fallen.  In a sunrise moment 3 weeks ago, Jesus redeemed a pain-filled life for a new eternal one and the race was over!  Dad had reached the end of the earthly marathon, and those God-Arms met him like that prodigal son experienced on the road, and the King called for the best robe, a ring, and a party, and his life was celebrated.  And in this new reality, there are moments I feel short of breath, yet I feel the pen in my hand, leading the next generation of wordsmiths and story tellers.  And I live.

No matter what major change we have experienced, any sudden reality or memory of one has a way of sneaking up and striking you across the face with emotion.  We may forget who we are for a bit. That’s when we have a choice: either take how we feel to God, or try to handle it ourselves.  And the wound we may be protecting will try to hide the face of God, but we need to allow it to take us to Him.  We need to follow the example of those in the Bible who pressed through the crowd to get to the Healer.

Journal: I had such a great day, Lord, but in this moment, I can only help myself by running and pressing through the crowd, heavy with need, to grab hold of Jesus who saves, heals, and restores.  I am still, grasping His garment in both hands with an unspoken “help” on my lips, and I feel Him turn to me with such kindness in those eyes, and I’m aware that the birds light easy on the feeder, and the grocery carts are rolling in the market, and the traffic lights are changing color.   He lifts me firm and strong and I feel it right through.  Light has come and the fog has lifted.

When the fog rolls in, you can’t see very far.  It makes navigation difficult, and forward movement slow. Pea Soup, the British call it.  Like trying to walk through a mire, you get more tired with every step, and the smallest request can feel like someone has asked you to move a mountain.  Little things can be overwhelming and you can feel alone in a small boat on a choppy sea.  We all struggle to stand under the weight of major life events.  We can feel like a wet cloth twisted and not hung up to dry.
That’s a signal to rest physically and mentally without trying to figure it all out.  It’s a time to say “no” to the requests of others, no matter how worthy.  It’s a time to hand over everything to the Father.  It’s a time to be patient and forgiving with yourself.  It’s a time to share with the Father how we feel, for when emotions are poured out, whether disappointment, grief, fear, or even joy, it makes room for peace and more of Him.

Journal: We met and wrote out the obituary from Dad’s notes, adding in the things that meant the most to us, like the 9 mile trail ride he’d marked out  for horseback riding on dusty roads.  We held a family led service with my son-in-law and older daughter speaking and remembering, and their words were like a cool breeze to me, about the life of a protector,  a dreamer, and story-teller; words of a life well lived, even in suffering.  I sat, holding the youngest of his 4 great-grands, and let my soul be comforted as my sister played piano and her son prayed a prayer, and I was  filled with a kind of food from the Father’s hand.  Even now, nearly 3 weeks later, I can still feel the support of that blessing, like a rib binder that holds a  place pulled loose and hugs good.

The new reality says, I can’t ask him any more questions.  I won’t be able to hear him tell any more stories.  He has left this life behind for something better, not earthly.  And I will keep living because I am still here.  Dad lived with purpose and so do I.   We must face reality and see things as they are, and let that Jesus-man who healed the blind, give us new sight for now.  And light reappears and the fogs lifts…. 

I have enjoyed journaling for many years, a writer like my Dad.  Journals fill cardboard boxes and baskets in my home.  Journaling with a purpose can be like a quiet counselor who lets you pour out your heart or ideas in ink on paper until it’s emptied and ready to be filled with God’s peace and guidance.  It can burn off fog so we can see the next step.

Journal: If I could hear him now, he’d be encouraging me to do all that God designed me to do – write the books, speak and teach, build others up, and share my stories, too. Sacrifice to fulfill that Kingdom purpose and enjoy life, embrace love, remembering that the life to come will be a celebration like no other, but understanding that now is important.  Now is what we have.  Now is where we find God.

I teach a workshop called Emotional Baggage.  In the West, we tend to stuff our emotions and that’s not good.  Emotions are created by God, like the other parts of us, and are part of our relationship with Him and with each other.  Meant to be expressed, emotions stuffed, tucked away, or denied don’t die.  They remain alive until released.  That’s why some of us have problems with anxiety or illness because we can become so bottled up.
The release does more than clear the air, it clears the head and the heart, and even blesses the body.  And the fog will lift and you will move forward.  Healing will come and growth will follow, and it’s OK for it to be a process.
Life has a way of knocking us off our feet sometimes, and we face our choice: do we stay there or do we get up and keep moving?  Complaining or staying stuck doesn’t keep us in one spot; those things cause us to sink deeper.  I used to tell Dad that if he was still breathing, then his life still held great purpose.  We are here to be victorious with whatever life serves up for us individually.  We get up and keep pressing into God and pressing into the life He has given us to live.

Journal: On Saturday, we will help Mom clean up what Dad left behind of his earthly life – mementos, practical and special things, stories on paper in binders.  We can hold these and know he is across a finish line, at a party, at a wedding – as he is now one with that sweet Father who first had the idea of him.  We will feel his absence, but even more we will feel God’s presence with us.  We will laugh some, eat lunch, work hard, and remember that we are redeemed ones walking here, living a good story like Dad did. We will encourage each other into the future God has for us.

When you have to process the really big things, be a friend to yourself, ask to be held, and when it’s time, get up and go again, no matter the odds.  And even now, in my own life, I can feel the lesson of the void I’ve walked through many times before.  When change brings a void, let that void become a womb where something new grows.  Let it bloom, and as child of God, live a story worth telling.
We get one life, you and I.  Don’t we want to live it well?
This post is dedicated to my Dad, the writer before me.  Now to find some fresh paper, for the next piece is calling out to be written!
With patient grace in the now,

Robin, Dad

(c) Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC, July 29, 2014

Photo: Dad and me on my wedding day last November 2013.

The Crack in the Sidewalk

flowers sidewalkSomeone once asked me, “I bet you see every crack in the sidewalk, don’t you?”

At times, this “gift” of mine has driven others crazy.  Yes, I am wired to spot the problem.  That’s easy, but working to find a solution is what is required of us who are created to repair, heal, restore, and expand life where we are.

I wrote a blog about three years ago about an old house that wasn’t far from crumbling to the ground.  At the end of a dirt drive, the paint had long been gone, probably right after the people left it, but a pink curtain still hung through the window, blowing in the breeze – a picture of what it had once been and a promise of what it could be again in the right hands.

“Anyone can rant in their journal or on the internet,” my friend said, “but can you find the solution and provide that for your readers?”  Can I do more than point out the problem?  That crack in the sidewalk?  Can I seek God and the wisdom of my journey to help find the solution?  Whether it’s embraced is not always my choice, but to say the answer out loud, to wave a picture of what it could become, to declare over a life or over land God’s provision can help make a way forward.  For one or many – that ripple effect of a Kingdom life.

The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were great at making rules and finding fault.  They cared not about a solution that actually was life-giving.  They cared more about finger-pointing.  They had  no eyes for possibility, only problems.  They would have missed or criticized the pink curtain.

To those who wanted more, Jesus took time to pray and offer what He had – healing, life again, words of truth that cut through the darkness, restoration, gentle teaching, and understanding about how much God loves…the things of fresh air that bless the soul with value, love, and honor.

But the crowds found out where he was going, and they followed him. He welcomed them and taught them about the Kingdom of God, and he healed those who were sick.  ~Luke 9:11 NLT

He came to solve a problem – to restore everything that was broken.  We are also created with certain problems to solve.  We aren’t just here to accept His cross sacrifice and hold onto the hope of Heaven.  We are here to live in a way that makes a Kingdom difference.  So when you see that crack in the sidewalk, or that crack in a soul, take time with God to seek a solution.  You may have an answer that blesses and changes the lives of  many.

And watch for that pink curtain, that promise of what God deposited there, what needs restoring for fullest life.

(c) Robin Lawrimore Lewis, Jan. 2014

From the home place next to tall pines on an icy day.

Leaving Spiritual Footprints

She walked carefully, stretching out her little legs to reach her Mama’s footprints.  Placing footprints beachher foot on the wet sand inside where hers had been felt good to the child.  She was growing.  One day, she thought, my feet will be as big as hers!

The way we walk has a spiritual effect on the earth.  The way we live leaves spiritual footprints that last.  With choosing to walk carefully according to how God is leading, our footprints leave blessing.  When we choose to walk against God, our footprints leave cursing.  Heaven and earth are witnesses.

19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  ~Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Abraham received God’s invitation to walk across the Promised Land, and God essentially told him that everywhere he placed his feet would belong to him and his descendents forever. Lillian's journey at 18 months with Mom close by... With each step, Abraham was claiming the land physically and spiritually.

We are here to do the same.  What kinds of footprints are we leaving?  Ones that push open doors so that the King’s love can come in?  Footprints that bring healing and restoration?  Ones that those following behind us will want to fill, too?

(c) Robin Lawrimore, February 2013

Can you change your story?

I’d like to read ahead in the story just once.  I’d like to read tomorrow’s page today.  But I cannot.  I’d like to know answers to heart’s questions that many days lie heavy and I can feel the cords that have tied around too tight.  But all I get are today’s headlines and they seem to be written by someone other than me.  Many times I don’t like the forecast.  Many times they take the air from my lungs as I am gasping to stand.  And what I think I read beginning in early morning sometimes can be changed because God is bigger than the enemy that would seek to decide my day.

Oh I can remain there as long as I like, but it only makes me sink deeper in mire that waits for the top of my head so that it can prove me wrong.

And yet, if I can glance back to the pages of previous days and remember and proclaim how God has seen me through, kept me, provided, many times miraculously so – I can name those gifts, those times of receiving Heaven’s CPR – air so needed, miracles that amazed, and give thanks and glory again to that Giver, then I am able to stand in today differently.  And the words change on the page.

I choose a different storyline every time I speak out my faith and that my strength and protection doesn’t have to be found in me, but in Him.  For I will always fail, but when I do, if in that failing I fall to my knees, then I find the One who helps me up, who helps me stand, then I have not failed, but come to rely on Him all the more.

So today I remember these lines from past days and speak out thanks for…

107.  Wanting a fresh glimpse of anything that reflects God.

116.  Strong stands of Pines that give shade.

190.  God’s patience with my realizing again that He alone truly satisfies and refreshes.

258.  Sea Glass earrings loaned for dinner invitation.

283.  A sister’s funny stories of a home being filled with joy.

299.  Being held tight.

348.  Boxes full of my life; contents tell a story of me.

371.  Choosing hope that dispels discouragement.

429. Warm corn chips in a basket like slices of Mexican sun.

442. Bathing an old dog, faithful companion 13 years.

443.  Realizing that the call on my life doesn’t depend on how much I can do, but on the God who loves me.

453.  Allowing love to come in and how it always replaces fear and rights the heart.

459.  Mom’s laughter loud.

469.  Building of trust, healing of heart.

476.  Loving touch that meets a need way deep.

483.  Honey dripping into cup, an amber thread.

496.  Walking forward to deal with problems as they arise, holding onto the Father’s hand for guidance.

502.  Phone call of encouragement right when needed.

These are the pages of past days.  These are things noticed in moments that were not always easy to find, but once that “giving thanks” begins, it changes things.  Always works like God’s best formula for peace.  My eyes return to Him, and when I see Him looking back at me… well, it is with that look of love, grace, and acceptance – like He is so glad He made me, and so happy that I am alive and looking to Him, that my heart is always stilled in peace and my lungs are always filled with fresh air.  My pulse slows and the shoulders relax and I remember that He gave all so that I could feel this now.

Thank you, Father, for restoration, for helping me live out today choosing Your version of events and Your storyline for me instead of one that is lower and weaker.  And thank you that I don’t have to be strong enough, because You already are.  You are the “Author and finisher” of me.

(c) Robin Lawrimore, Sept. 2012

Linking today with A Holy Experience that counts God’s gifts.

Dear Inner Song,

I can hear a few of your notes and the melody is one I already love.

I can hear a few places that are a still a bit out of tune, like an old piano who needs a visit from the man with the tuning fork.

I trust you to the One who created your lines, the Composer whose heart birthed you and placed you inside me.

Let your strings be stretched and tightened or loosened to provide a full sound.  Some strings are way too taught.  The One can loosen these before they break so that all your notes are heard.

You are a masterpiece of sound, with colors flowing and overlapping, bringing joy to the hearers nearby, many who are part of a Heavenly band.

So sing on!  Sing out!  With full lungs, let yourself be heard for your true audience is One who will never criticize or roll the eyes.  Your true audience is sitting in His seat straining to hear you… waiting to hear those first notes roll through Heaven’s atmosphere.

Your sound, your melodies are created to flow in harmony with others around you who lift their voices – in love, in war, in weakness and strength, voices that speak Heaven’s words bringing that Kingdom here.

And if the song seems to change or you don’t remember the words, just open your mouth anyway and follow the Conductor’s lead.  He is very present and carries your sound throughout time and space, your song a prayer whose influence rolls through centuries.

So don’t worry about a squeaky voice.  Heaven will give strength to your diaphragm.  Your song, your voice is ready “for such a time as this.”  Sing!

(c) Robin Lawrimore, March 2012

Miles of Ink

I see light suddenly bounce as it comes in low through windows – a message, an announcement.  Suddenly tables, chairs, and cups glow, light and shadow, reflecting on my page, yellow with lines.  The Barcelona cup sits like a stained glass window with a handle.  The earth is continuing to turn and all things are held together by Him.

I write and attempt to describe what is flooding my cornea.  My page is an entire world.  Upon it anything can become real, exploding with color, sharp and distinct, and be brought into light.  The sun at that angle reveals where I pressed my pen to create.

How many miles of ink does it take to say what needs to be said, to say what waits to be said?  How many hearts wait, spirit ears open, for the pen that translates heavenly language to that of earth?

I bounce ideas off Robert, who keeps my cup filled, like the sun bounces off the walls of the coffee shop, hoping to find something that lands well. What others can hear and receive.

If you stare at earth, you see earth.  If you let Me bring you higher, you will see higher.  Your vision has to adjust.  You are to bring the language of Heaven to earth in such a way to enable the hearer to move and walk differently, to come up higher and rise above where they are.

Father, I need Your words.  Be my translator so Your language, and Heaven’s atmosphere, fills a room like the afternoon sun.

(c) Robin Lawrimore, December 2011

Espresso Shots & God

Some days are like coffee shop orders where they always know your preference.  “You want the usual?”  “Yep.  The usual.”  For me that would be a spiced chai latte.  And life flows in the usual way.  The last few days have been more like double espresso shots.  Not that it was fast paced, but unusual, concentrated and powerful, that required a dedicated focus of spirit, where the King helped me along by taking my face in His hands and directing my gaze towards the assignment.

The days when God moves and speaks and instructs in more than one direction are not the usual for me, but I am sensing they will become more common.  I enjoy it immensely, but somewhere in there, like all obedience, it costs me something.  I have to submit even at the cost of being misunderstood.  I must obey while wondering what the outcome will be.  I have to follow the King’s explicit instructions to the letter and trust Him, even when nobody else in the whole wide world understands.  Some God projects require speaking and others just praying.  When I use my words or what I have learned from the King,  sometimes I think I frighten people just a bit.  But that’s OK, too.

I’ve always loved the idea of being a spy.  When I was growing up, it was my favorite game with my cousin as all summer we would sneak around and watch family members from hallways, windows, or from behind bushes.  We used the Buster Brown gadget that would allow us to look around corners.  We talked about plots that would have challenged Jack Bauer!  And we loved every minute.

I find that walking out my life with God is not unlike a Sydney Bristow or Jason Bourne kind of life.  While it may not involve kick-boxing or knowledge of Paris streets, it certainly involves focus and attention with an intimate relationship with my Handler.  There have been many a Bible story that intrigued me as God planted people within a situation to carry out His purposes.  I think of Esther who was positioned “for such a time as this” and saved the Jews from literal destruction, or Daniel whose obedience and dedication to God changed the worship focus of a nation by just being faithful in his prayer times.

I can think like a disappointed idealist, always hoping, but spending too long at the stops of earthly reality in the lives of the people I love.  The Lord gave me a few sentences this week that greatly encouraged me towards focusing on outcomes He can bring.  He said, “Sometimes delivering My word is hard, but celebrate what it will bring about.  Pray as I direct and then go ahead and be happy.  Have a happy faith with expectation that I will bring My best from Heaven to earth and touch each one, bringing about what all your best wisdom and concern over them could never do!  Hallelujah!  What do you say to that?” 

I could only respond with “Yay, God!  Yay, Papa!”

I choose to put my focus more on Him and the eternal outcome, enjoying His smile, and letting it all bring me up higher in my thinking.  Heaven understands the problem, but always provides the solution – if we will take it.  This daughter of the King loves being one of those “hidden ones in Him” sent on secret agent espresso prayer assignments.  I am learning to keep my focus on what HE can do as the Originator of all, the grace-provider that enables me to follow.

When need is great, it is hard to see above it, but that is where He resides – always above, always higher.  If we stare at earth, we see earth.  If we let Him bring us higher, we will see higher.  He is adjusting our vision to see and receive what is needed, the joys, plans, strategies, and language of His presence.

When we are teachable and dependent and willing, He will direct us in ways that are different from the earth-usual, for we want the Heaven-usual where it is higher, better!  We are to speak, pray, and teach with the challenge of the Spirit that is always calling us higher, to rise above where we are, to live as Kingdom people, to come forward into “positive numbers” in our gifting and calling.  We don’t want to be satisfied with just healing and cleaning up, but to increase the Kingdom and give glory to the King.  With what the King can give, more is possible.  The time is near for greater increase.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you on your journey, in the visible and hidden times.  These are exciting days.

(c) October 28, 2011 – Robin Lawrimore