Love Notes

Love Notes

Leah and Miriam 2005
Leah and Miriam 2005

Today I was unpacking a bag of stuff that came down from our old house and I found another of Leah’s “love notes”.

She wrote it to me in 2012, when I was very upset about something that had happened.

In it she quotes Psalm 9:9-10

The Lord defends those who suffer; he defends them in times of trouble. Those who know the Lord trust Him, because He will not leave those who come to Him.”

Then she writes some beautiful words of encouragement, regarding the situation that I was distressed about.

Of course, when I found this note, all I could do was cry and sob my heart out.

How I miss Leah’s love notes, her timely hugs and her words of encouragement.

Yet, I know it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

I am also mindful of how blessed I am to have a husband and four children.

I am blessed that I am loved.

Simon, Miriam, Rachel and Leah, October 2004
Simon, Miriam, Rachel and Leah,
October 2004

I am mindful of how blessed we are as a family, to have had Leah in our midst for sixteen precious years and 16 days.

I am so blessed by each little note that I find, that reminds me of Leah – not that I need reminding – and the part that she played in our family.

She was my flesh and blood, the one whom I carried in my womb for nine months, felt every kick, birthed into this world, fed at my breast, gazed into her Moses Basket to check she was still breathing, shopped for, cooked for, loved with a Mother’s love and reluctantly handed back to the One who loves her with a perfect love.

Parenting brings so very many challenges – no one ever said it was going to be easy. I guess I just didn’t know it was going to be this hard.

How easy it would be to give up on life, to drown in this pool of tears.

However, just as Leah’s response to her situation was “God has a plan for my life“, so it is mine.

My hopes and prayers could be summed up in the words of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

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How I’m Getting Through

How I’m Getting Through

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 The Voice

3 All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. 4 He consoles us as we endure the pain and hardship of life so that we may draw from His comfort and share it with others in their own struggles.

One sermon a week on a Sunday morning has never been enough for me. I’ve always loved listening to Bible teaching at home or in the car. In the ’80s I had an insatiable appetite for the teaching tapes produced by Francis Schaeffer and L’Abri.
Since the arrival of the internet and podcasts I’ve been spoilt for choice – all the sermons I could ever want, at my fingertips.
In late 2012 and in early 2013 I was mostly listening to Joyce Meyer, Rick Warren and John Piper Early in 2013 Rick Warren’s son Matthew took his own life. Matthew Warren died on the 5th April ’13 and I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. My reaction was to sit and cry, in solidarity with Rick and Kay’s broken hearts – just as some of you who never met Leah read my blog and cry in solidarity with our broken hearts. Then I prayed for the Warrens, as many of you do for us, which I appreciate so very much. How could we ever have got this far without the loving and prayerful support of God’s people?
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In September ’13 Rick and Kay Warren were interviewed about the death of their son, by Piers Morgan on CNN – read excerpts from that interview Here
On Sunday 28th July ’13, Rick & Kay Warren returned to the pulpit for the first time since their son died. Rick commenced by preaching a new series entitled “How to get through what you’re going through” I was really excited about this and listened eagerly to the first two episodes while in the bone marrow transplant unit, using my headphones.
However, as time went on and I was increasingly aware of how unwell Leah was, I found that this affected my concentration and attention span and I had difficulty focussing, so I stopped listening to online sermons.
A lifelong favourite pastime of mine has been books and reading. Since Leah was diagnosed last year however, I have found it very difficult to focus on the written word for any length of time. I still read, but it takes me weeks to read a book that used to take me days. I miss the pure undiluted pleasure that reading once brought me.
I’ve also lost my lifelong love of listening to the radio. I used to wear out the buttons on my portable radios – now they lie gathering dust. There’s so much ‘noise’ in my head that the additional noise of having a radio on just irritates me.
However, today for the first time since Leah died, I listened to an online sermon. I felt ready once again to listen to the sermon Rick & Kay Warren preached on the occasion of returning to public ministry after the death of their son: How we’re getting through – I found it very helpful. I also found it quite surreal listening to it again almost a year after I first heard it. The first time I heard this message I was sitting in the bone marrow transplant unit and I was looking for the strength to cope with being on my own, far from home, with my critically ill child. Now Leah is gone from this world and I’m deep in grief.

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Rick Warren describes the six phases of grief and loss as follows:

SHOCK: When your world falls apart
SORROW: When your heart is breaking
STRUGGLE: When you don’t understand
SURRENDER: How to experience peace
SANCTIFICATION: How God turns bad to good
SERVICE: How to use your pain for good

Rick does not however suggest that this is a neat process whereby you go through each stage and can tick it off and say “done that” – grief and loss is all very fluid and we can move backwards and forwards through any of these stages depending on what else is happening in our lives.
After the initial sermon, Rick then preached individual sermons on each of the above “stages” and these are available on iTunes as podcasts or via the Saddleback Church App.
Kay Warren talks about what she has done to help her hold onto hope and joy in her life. She said that she has compiled a playlist of songs to listen to, from which she derives comfort, which includes “Not For A Moment” by Meredith Andrews:

“And every step every breath you are there
Every tear every cry every prayer
In my hurt at my worst
When my world falls down
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Even in the dark
Even when it’s hard
You will never leave me”