Below you will read excerpts from my Caringbridge journal. A year ago, the numbness and mist-like memories… revealing treasure could be found, only a few short weeks after Chris’s heaven day. As I read, I struggled to understand or comprehend who this writer was. I don’t even remember writing these entries… and am reading them with new eyes. God has been so good!
January 1, 2015
We all carry the years of our life and living with us in the form of maturity, growth, priorities, hope, peace and knowledge. All that we walk through, in life carves and molds us into the beautiful creatures God intended from our first breath. As I look back on the days and weeks and months of Chris’ battle with cancer, I can say that I saw the shaping process on Chris’ life, my life and in our marriage. Some of the most beautiful moments were in the pain and agony of being sculpted and shaped. I will admit, there are days, since Chris’ home-going that I don’t like this “becoming” process much. It is then, that I have to look back, like I am doing now, and remember the beautiful gems that have become a part of who I am and how I want to live. I want to share with you… what it is to have these gems encrusted to your heart.
The first gem, was in its rough form, when we discovered it. Though we could not of missed it. It was unusual, but didn’t seem too special at the time. But like all beautiful gems… they need to have the rough parts cut away to reveal the beautiful heart. This gem didn’t catch the light and sparkle until Chris passed. I call this gem “silent conversation.” The first chip was hammered off of this gem the day Chris was diagnosed. Neither of us knowing what to say. In time, more was said in just each other’s company, than a hundred well rehearsed conversations could have ever said. More chipping away of the gem, found a revealing of its true heart. In the days and months sunsets and moonrises reflected in its surfaces, recording the times we sat in the silent conversations before the wonder of God’s creation. God began to polish this gem to its present brilliance, Chris’ last week here with us. But it didn’t begin to sparkle until his last day. When the “silence” was broken by a brief conversation revealing Jesus was telling Chris “lots of things.” This precious, treasured gem is encrusted permanently to my heart. From rough and dull to lucid and light-catching, it has been amazing to see its beautiful memory be revealed.
In these first few days of this new year, I look forward to this treasure hunt and the stories that God will write. And… as He writes… so will I. Beginning this joyous new year, knowing that there will be treasure revealed from the fires, storms and floods of 2014.
Assurance… On Treasure Island???
Jan 3, 2015
In my quest to discover more treasured gems, I looked back at a part of the journey where we traveled to an island. The need or rather desire, to be alone often isolated our hearts and minds from the chaos of life. However, living life on an island of isolation robs you of treasure and treasure map. There is no “X” marks the spot in the lonliness of pulling in to that dock. It causes confusion and lacks much needed perspective. Much like pirates, the enemy pillages and plunders the heart once encrusted with precious and valuable treasure. Though he never steals it, this unmerciful pirate of the island, soon has us bound and walking the plank of despair. And… for a time, we are convinced we have lost what we value most. Life flashes before our eyes, in some twisted unreal way, and all we see is the darkness and hopelessness of the journey. We have been to this island void of treasure, fallen under the waves of the enemy’s lies and stood precariously on the unstable plank.
But were rescued, the Hero watched as we rowed stubbornly out to the island. The isolation I thought would bring peace, only threatened it. All the while the Hero, Jesus, was near by, knowing we needed to discover the island’s emptiness for ourselves. Always He was there to whisper encouragement and love and to remind us that the treasure wasn’t here. And we heard Him, finally.
It was in the throws of a mighty storm called cancer, that I rowed back. Oh yes, I had visited that island many times in my life, but each time found emptiness in that kind of solitude. The storm sent our boat adrift. And it was in that storm we found more peace than we ever did on the silent island. It was because we weren’t alone, the Hero, Jesus, was there and I watched him lift Chris and I from raging torrents into his arms of love. And he pointed out that we had many standing beside us, who would be close by.
We found the treasure, because we left the island. It wasn’t really a treasure island after all. The treasure discovered was… “assurance.” A gem we had the privilege of seeing brilliantly shine all through the storm. Even when I wanted to run away to the island, Jesus caused that gem to send out flashes of fire. All through cancers raging storm, I saw Chris, a daily reminder of… one who knew “assurance” well. And just before the storm broke into a pinking sunrise, Chris made sure I knew he had experienced the peace “assurance” brought. Chris passed on the treasure map, Jesus words, and I now hold the beautiful light-catching gem that reminds me where Chris is, I know where I am going someday and I know who holds my family and I up; its affects are encrusted firmly to my heart. It often takes a journey to and island to find the treasure has been with us all along.
The Treasure Chest
Jan 8, 2015
Map in hand, setting out on another quest. The map is worn and bears the names of many who have gone before. Not really a map made by traditional rogues and miscreants…. though one never knows exactly, they were once sinners, who became new creations and now walk in heaven. The words and pictures that are beautifully painted by them, are definitely inspired. The map “writers” are in reality, scribes. Of whom??? The One whose love created the stars and set earth in motion. One who painted the wings of butterflies and fashioned the branches on trees. One who knit you and I together. To be the scribe of the most high Creator and Savior of the world, that would be humbling indeed. God spoke and breathed into each one the intricacies of this great “map” of life. Its readers will find treasure each time they go looking for it. The treasure to be found there is never exhausted, always available.
I purchased a memory box for the treasuring of Chris’s things. Placed items in it, but the most treasured if all treasures is his Bible. This treasure chest holds a greater, treasure chest. The book was Chris’s map, journey and treasure wrapped up in one place. In Chris’s last month, I daily found him pondering over this treasure, counting its many blessings and sharing them with us and others whom he came in contact with. In His last couple of weeks he spent time in a hospital bed, I know he felt like a prisoner. But he read his bible everyday. And shared its treasures with visitors. That memory is a valuable treasure. This treasure chest of precious gems, became his heartbeat and every breath. And in sharing, brought great joy and unimaginable peace, to our hurting home. I often open the chest and read God’s words, and hear Chris’s voice deep and low, “I know where I am going.” He held a gemstone that was so brilliant, it glows still and will not be contained in his memory box.
Chris, was a messenger of the God he loved. Though he had many bad days and discouragement was often at his door, he took out the gems one by one and rolled them around in his hands. Gems like, “my peace I leave with you,” “I am your rock and foundation,” “my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” “I rest because He makes me dwell in safety,” “seek first the kindom of God” and the gems he held are the same for us… should we choose to take up the map and gather them in our hearts and minds. These gems will be ours to keep and share and will never be stolen or lost. Chris poured out his treasure into my lap. Now I hold gems I have held before, in a new light, heaven’s light.
The Jewel of Provision
Jan 11, 2015
While sailing the unpredictable seas in a storm called cancer, we found an amazingly precious jewel. Description of this gem would be difficult, but how it scattered its light, now that is its greatest beauty.
Many times since May 2014, we found ourselves nearly overwhelmed by the storm’s aggressive waves. On these particularly rough days at sea, it was all we could do to huddle together and hold on to keep each other from going overboard. On our first of these storms, we found ourselves washed up in an unknown place. At first we didn’t consult our map, we just laid there in the sand thirsty and starving. No words could describe the weariness and pain that storm had left on our hearts and minds. After a day or two, we decided we needed to look at the map and send out a distress call. Even though we were sure that the Map maker was the reason we were in this devistating mess in the first place. We were sure we had been following His direction, yet here we were, stranded alone (or so it seemed) in an unknown place, starving and thirsty with a broken boat. The first thing I read in that map was this, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Well, at first we were hurting too much to fully grasp the meaning of those words. And it was bout then that we saw a familiar face. Our distress call had reached him and he graciously responded. We were informeded that this was not an island, void of family and friends and we were reminded that there was no need to be thirsty or starving or lonely, the Map maker had made provisions for that as well. His map/words were never misleading. This wonderful familiar face and loving heart showed us where on the map to look, and reminded us of the many who were aware of our situation and who were willing to walk beside. It was then, sitting on that beach, we discovered the first of many precious jewels, bearing distinct color and shining in a way no other jewel could. After that encouraging encounter with a loving and familiar face, we recognized the gem he left behind was called “God’s provision.” The One whose map we carried, knew we would need that encouragement to carry on after such a devastating wreck. So He made sure the storm didn’t destroy us or wash us up where we would be alone. After many days, we found the Map maker had marked another passage in His map. And it read, “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” Gems of His provision began to pile up and we were able to use them to re build our boat, continuing our journey.
Trusting the Map maker, in every storm. We held fast to the directions, and the gems of His provision. The storms have rolled in one after the other. Pain, discouragement, doubt, self-pity, heartache, anger, weariness, devistation and frustration; the storms were and often are still, daily. And now, our boat holds one less, Chris was second in command, the captain, being God. We miss his strong lead and steady steering skills and his commanding instructions when things got difficult. But… we know he is a part of a cloud of witnesses, interceeding on our behalf. We know he loves us still and even more God has us in His hands. Truly He is the One who loves us and graces us through the storms.
I still find those precious gems when I am walking and rowing through raging storms of tears and grief. Those provision gems glow like beacons all around me. The most brilliant, being the fellowship and friendship of those God has given so I am never alone.