A Little Whisper of God to my Soul

A Little Whisper of God to my Soul

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I’ve been very tearful these past few days. I think that this has been triggered by my birthday – family events are invariably a time when the ’empty chair’ is at its most conspicuous. Thankfully I now have a few days off work where I can just relax, read, eat and sleep – and catch up on some housework. I haven’t been sleeping well recently, so catching up on sleep is definitely high on my list.

A few months ago a website called HOPE SHACK (Finding Hope in the midst of Life’s Struggles) contacted me to say that they would like to feature excerpts from my blog on their website. I willingly agreed to this. I visited their website today and saw that they had featured excerpts from my blog on the 26th May – the very day of my birthday – that’s a lovely encouragement for me. It’s like a little whisper from God to my soul that says “I have not forgotten you.

N Guthrie Quote

I especially love the fact that the song they chose to feature alongside these excerpts is “How He loves us“. This is one of the many songs that Leah and I used to enjoy listening to together. However Leah and I couldn’t agree on whether we liked it best sung by a female voice or by a male voice, so I remember us sitting in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit in Bristol, first listening to a version by Kim Walker-Smith and then one by David Crowder and debating (in a good-natured way) over which one sounded better! I favoured the David Crowder version:

“How He Loves”
(originally by John Mark McMillan)

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way…

That He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us…
Oh, how He loves us…
Oh, how He loves us.

Facing the No-Go Areas

Facing the No-Go Areas

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Tomorrow Tuesday 29th April ’14 Horace and I are going to the Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital to meet with Leah’s Belfast haematologist and her Bristol haematologist – two very compassionate men, both of whom were adored by Leah.

They will give us the results of the mini post mortem of her lungs and this might give us more of an understanding of some of the medical factors involved in her death.

The mere act of walking through the doors of BCH will take a lot of courage, never mind the conversations that will follow. We hope to meet with some other members of the team who were very special to Leah also.

The appointment with our Bristol haematologist Dr C, has been in place since before Christmas, as it was originally made for Leah to see him and to have her ongoing recovery from her transplant assessed.

Leah planned to make some tray bakes as a gift for Dr C on this occasion. She had discussed with me what she would make – “fifteens’ (without cherries) and malteser squares.

Yesterday Miriam and I did this baking in Leah’s memory – it’s what Leah would have wanted us to do. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to make Leah’s favourite fifteens.

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We used the Waitrose chocolate chips (for the ‘fifteens’ ) that I had bought when we were in Bristol for Leah’s transplant and we were saving for a special purpose – Leah loved these Waitrose chocolate chips.

Delving into the baking cupboard again was emotionally painful – it’s been one of my no-go areas since Leah died.

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If I had a choice, I would roll my life back to a time when I didn’t know my way around the ground floor of Belfast City Hospital, to when I didn’t know exactly which sandwiches in their coffee bar I liked best, which of their buns were the nicest and which of the hospital toilets had a hook on the back of the door to hang my handbag on……………. but I don’t have that choice.

I can only go forward, I can’t go back. I have to live life in the present, and that isn’t always easy, just as it isn’t easy for so many other people either, for a variety of different reasons.

I have learned that a lot of people are carrying heavy burdens, some like me carry the visible burden of grief while others carry secret burdens involving shame and fear.

God knows all about our burdens – evidenced by verses like this in the Bible –

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If I can find the strength, I want to visit the Bridgewater Suite tomorrow, where Leah had most of her outpatient appointments. I also want to visit the ICU where Leah spent her last days on this earth, as I don’t want to have any no-go areas in my life.

Who knows what circumstances in life may result in my having to visit those places again in the future and I would like to have these “firsts” behind me.

Our TYA (Teenage and Young Adult) cancer nurse specialist will be by my side supporting me wherever I decide to go.

Obviously, this day is going to be laden with emotion and with some incredibly difficult memories. The two and a half weeks that Leah spent in ICU were the hardest two and a half weeks of my entire life.

The majority of the most traumatic (for me anyway) outpatient appointments during Leah’s illness also occurred within the walls of Belfast City Hospital. Please can you pray for Horace and I tomorrow and keep us close to your hearts.

Painful though all of this is, I believe that it’s very necessary on our path to healing.

Not that we will ever be fully whole again – we will always bear the scars of losing our precious daughter – and so we should – as our four children are part of who we are.

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I have always said that my children are my most precious possessions in life.

I don’t wish Leah back, because her body was broken and she has now received the ultimate healing and is rejoicing forevermore with her Saviour in heaven.

However, the person we have lost is precious to us beyond words, as each of our children are, so our grief and pain will continue.

Another song that Leah loved was “Like a lion” by the David Crowder band and it was one of the ones that we played quite a lot when Leah was in ICU –

“My God’s not dead
He’s surely alive
And He’s living on the inside
Roaring like a lion”

The image of His strength inside of me being like a lion, when I felt – and continue to feel – so very weak, is a helpful thought.