Thursday, January 29, 2009


This is the season of the year
when I am painfully aware of brokenness.

It was 13 years ago that my son’s body was broken beyond repair. Hit in the face with a piece of wood that spun out of control off the lathe in his wood shop class, Scott’s body crumbled to the cement floor on impact.

It was 13 years ago that we sat with countless friends and family to keep a 30-hour vigil, hoping and praying for a miracle that would allow Scott to survive. I remember bringing a picture of Scott to the hospital to show the doctors what Scott really looked like . . . before he was broken.

It was 13 years ago when we returned home to an empty house after hearing two neurologists declare our only son brain dead. I remember thinking . . . our family, our home, and our lives will never be whole again.

During this season of the year, I am reminded that God is the Master Potter. With gratitude, I read and re-read Jeremiah 18:1-4. This passage tells about God's desire to transform brokenness to wholeness.

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.”

Spoiled in the potter’s hand; those words have such deep theological meaning for me. You see, I am held in The Potter’s hand. Scott was held in The Potter’s hand. Our family, your family, all of creation is held in The Potter’s hand. Sometimes events of this world and our choices in life spoil, even break us.

How sad it would be if brokenness was a terminal condition like the shattered pot in the picture above.

But the promise of redemption is so clear in these verses. “He reworked it (the broken pieces of the vessel) into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.”

For Scott, his transformation meant healing in Eternity. It meant what seemed good to God was to use Scott’s death to draw others into the Kingdom.

For me, it means that God lovingly gathers
all those broken shards
laying around the floor of my heart,
and transforms the brokenness of my life,
my dreams, and my emotions –
into a vessel that is useful and whole.

I hope you noticed the tense of the words above. God gathers, continually gathers, my brokenness, and lovingly transforms it into something new. As one who has lost a precious loved one, I know all too well that there is no such thing as closure. My grief and brokenness come upon me at various times of the year, at family events, or when I find objects that link me back to my precious Scott.

That is why I love God's example of broken pottery.

My cousin Dave, and his wife Rachel, are missional artists living in Germany. I appreciate how Dave's work at his potter’s wheel embodies the message of Jeremiah 18:1-4. Dave takes the broken pieces of pottery - the shards of broken clay laying on the studio floor and the excess pieces cut away by other artists, and reclaims them (his word) - redeems them (my word) - transforming the broken pieces into something beautiful.

Dave says, Nothing here is wasted. Even the mistakes and broken pieces can be restored into something beautiful.

It is my prayer for myself, and for you, that we will continue to trust The Potter with the shards of our lives, and trust Him to bring transformation.

Click here to visit Dave’s blog to see his process of redeeming brokenness.

Friday, January 23, 2009

If you choose to love . . .

"If you choose to love, you choose to grief."
~ Dr. Alan Wolfelt, Center for Loss

February, the month set aside for those who love, brings meaning to the quote above for me.

For in my 56 years of life, I chose to love - my parents, my husband, my children, pets, and many friends and extended family. And as the quote expresses, because I chose to love, I will also experience grief when those I love are gone.

February, with its brief 28 days, holds more sorrow for me than all the other months of the year. February marks the death of my mother, the death of my father, and the death of my only son, Scott. As this shortest month of the year approaches, and I see the many signs of LOVE displayed in the stores, I feel the weight of grief taking up residence in my heart as I anticipate the approaching days.

I visualize what I may be doing to mark these days. I think about how much I miss each one. I remember the times we shared and the love we experienced. And, perhaps most importantly, once again, no matter how painful, I will give myself permission to feel the grief and mourn my losses.

I think the words of Jesus are most fitting for these days of February.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

Jesus is saying, blessed are those who do not deny their grief or stuff their sorrows. Blessed are those who embrace the love, who acknowledge the loss, who express what is on the inside and who mourn.

As I studied for my certification in Death and Grief Studies with Dr. Wolfelt, I learned that grief is an emotion we feel on the inside. But mourning is the outward expression of our inner grief. As Dr. Wolfelt says, "Mourning is grief gone public."

Yes, blessed are those who mourn, for they bring their pain to the outside. Blessed are those who mourn for they allow themselves to release their grief, to make room in their heart to remember the love once shared. Blessed are those who mourn, for you will receive the comfort of others.

And, I want to say, with February coming in a few short days, that if I had to do all over again, I would . . . and I do, choose to love.

Those who would have nothing to do with thorns
must never attempt to gather flowers.

~ Anonymous

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Life's Game

I suppose you need to be a certain age to remember video games with those awkward, chunky joysticks. Originally, joystick was simply a slang term for the lever used by a pilot to control the up and down, and side-to-side motion on the airplane. When video games first arrived on the market (how many decades ago?) many came with only a joystick to attempt to move the characters around the screen to earn points, move another level, and avoid destruction. I have to admit here that it's kind of funny, but we have a PacMan game that attaches to our TV, complete with a joystick. The grand kids love to teach us how to do it!

As AWANA kicked back into full swing after the holidays, the leaders asked me to share with the children about making the most of their time. The theme for the night was "Beat the Clock". So, last night, I shared with those tender young ones about time - one group of Kindergartners through second graders, and another group of third through sixth graders - the brevity of life and the importance of knowing where you will be when time runs out.

I know the Spirit of God was truly present in both the words I spoke and in the softened, opened hearts of the hearers as the room full of wired and wiggly children came to a hush as I shared about Scott's short sixteen years of time here on earth (see Scott's Story in sidebar). I used Scott's story to illustrate a couple of lessons to impact their use of time and guide them toward an eternity with God.

Most children play some form of electronic games these days, from Leapster to PlayStation to Wii. I shared with them that when we play these games, we make mistakes, we lose points, we even die. And all that happens is a blinking screen that tells us GAME OVER. To get another chance and even come back to life, we just have to push the START button again. Life is NOT like those games. When Scott had his accident, there was not light flashing "GAME OVER" and definitely no "START" button to give him another chance to do life over. We need to decide now how we will spend our time, and who will be the Lord of our life.

The second lesson I shared was more about where Scott was now. It could have been a mystery, I told them, but he left clues . . . evidence of his eternity in heaven. The way Scott lived his life helps us know we will experience a glorious reunion with him. I challenged the children last night to live their lives in such a way, that when they are gone, whether they live many years or only a few, there will be evidence for those who remain to know exactly where they will spend eternity - who was Lord of their life, what was important to them, how they spent their time.

UPDATE: Once again, it was a blessing to know what Hebrews 11:4b states about Abel is also true for Scott: "though he be dead, he still speaks." The life Scott lived and the young age at which he died continues to draw young people into the Kingdom. Two children gave their lives to the Lord last night, and will have a chance to meet Scott.

UPDATE: We were notified that the following week, more children talked with their AWANA leaders about Scott's life, and a total of 8 children have received Christ as their Savior. Thank you, God, for redeeming our loss with the joy of seeing these young ones gain eternal life.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Resolutions . . .

. . . through the eyes of my beagle, Maggie!

• Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride.
• When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
• Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
• Take naps, and stretch before rising.
• Run, romp and play daily.
• Bond with your pack.
• Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
• On hot days, drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree.
• Never pretend to be something you’re not.
• If what you want is buried, dig until you find it.
• Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.
• When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close and nuzzle them gently.
• No matter how often you are scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout . . . run right back and make friends.
• When you are happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Happy New Year to all!