impressions of new life…
December 7, 2017
I desire Tyler’s scent. His blanket brings me a flood of longing for his presence. His smell still remains, almost 8 months later. I fell to my knees tonight with the tremendous longing for Tyler, yet the beauty of God’s deep and personal love for me is where my heart landed.
I sat down to place stamps on Christmas card envelopes and as I grabbed a handful from the stack the first name to see was that of a woman who is forever changed because of Tyler’s death…He loves me so and shows me just how much everyday! My tears are offerings to Him. My tongue can only praise His Name!
And as I lay down tonight, my brother sent me this message…
“When in battle always move forward… Upside it scares the enemy… Downside it scares the enemy… That’s when trust and faith in your leader is the only difference between success and failure.”
What a mighty God we serve!
December 7, 2018
The smells of Christmas are magical…Cinnamon cider boiling on the stove, a fresh pine tree filling the house with that unforgettable scent, sugar cookies rising in the oven, and the mesmerizing look and smell of a roaring fire. Smells are proven to be associated with memory and can cause us to recall things in our past. I find it a beautiful way in which the Lord demonstrates His intentional care for us.
The blanket that we wrapped Tyler’s body in still carries his scent. I check so often that I fear my scent will taint his sweet fragrance. I would have never thought the smell of death would have been included amongst the fragrances of Christmas I just listed. Somehow, it brings about the divine magic and enhances the night when a Savior was born in a stable and wrapped in “strips of cloth.” It’s almost as if I’m allowed access into that manger scene we all know so well. I peer into the feeding trough and behold the infant King! How could this even be?! A love so beyond our understanding that He appeared in His sovereignty as a newborn, desiring that that very moment in time would leave a lasting impression on every human heart…like the lasting impression of the fragrance of my son…An impression that changes my perspective on every relationship; changes my heart to experience joy and sorrow yet the hope brought with the newborn King! A change that continues to develop and see more clearly the work of God.
“May God, the source of hope, fill you completely with joy and shalom as you continue trusting, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may overflow with hope.”
His working in our lives is often so mysterious to our ways. That night one year ago was an orchestrated occurrence of His presence. My heart was beyond heavy…I would actually describe it as beating outside of myself, and strung along just making it through the day. Ryan was out of town and I had just received a large box of Christmas cards that would share the face of our precious Tyler, and the new faces we wore without his earthly presence. I stared at the stack of cards thinking how many of our friends were going to think I was crazy for placing a picture of our dead son on the back. It was his birth and death announcement all in one. It revealed the face of a little boy, without a beating heart, our words…
“Proud to announce, Tyler James, complete in true form and home, 4/29.”
My heart raced, a battle began. Do I send these? Will people even understand the intentional use of the words we chose? Will we be ridiculed? Will people pity us? Will my most prized possession that I must patiently wait to obtain be minimalized and disregarded? A battle raged.
That’s when I reached into the pre-addresses envelopes and the first name to appear was the woman who came to Tyler’s funeral, heard the message of the gospel’s truth, and has taken intentional steps to trusting God with her life! Of all the envelopes to grab, it was divinely appointed that she would be the first for my eyes to lay hold of and redirect my aching heart to praise.
I pressed forward as I stuffed each envelope, prayerfully seeking comfort that each family that would receive it would be moved into a fuller understanding of eternity. Hopefully realizing that we are temporarily displaced from a Home that awaits us, where no heartache lives and no restlessness resides. Understanding a little more, that Jesus was temporarily displaced on our behalf from the same dwelling that is not complete without Him!
He came in the most humble of ways. Some would argue the most unlikely of methods to celebrate the arrival of a King.
“You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”
A feeding trough, not a palace. Strips of cloth, not exquisite linens. Teenage parents, not royal nobility. What an unlikely leader to arise from such humble circumstances, yet He brought hope into a world of hurt, and promised to rescue us from our temporary displacement. He became the leader of a nation that needed desperate rescuing, and in doing so He became the leader of so many nations that were seeking salvation.
“When in battle always move forward… That’s when trust and faith in your leader is the only difference between success and failure.”
Not coincidental that a brother who has struggled with so many hurts in life sent this to me after the last card had been sealed.
Each of us battle daily. But the difference in our victory or defeat is in the leader we trust. Does your leader deliver? Mine came as an infant that eventually overcame the grave of my infant son and so many others gone home. His lasting impression on the shepherds that night transformed them from hearts of fear to praise. It did the same for me.
“but the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, because I am here announcing to you Good News that will bring great joy to all the people. This very day, in the town of David, there was born for you a Deliverer who is the Messiah, the Lord…Meanwhile, the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen…”
Luke 2:10-11, 20
My leader left this earth blessing those He loved. He led them into the knowledge and understanding that just as He came into the world to leave a lasting impression on the human heart He would leave them with a lasting expression…praise.
“When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.”
I am prayerful that your offerings of praise at this time of year seem to come with greater ease. I am prayerful that the smells that remind you of memories in your past direct your attentions on the newborn King who came down in love to rescue each of us and leave us with a lasting expression of praise, “What a Mighty God we serve!”