Three of my Favourite Words

Three of my Favourite Words

I currently have three words that I really like.

They are – in no particular order – HOPE, JOY, and GRACE.

I don’t claim to exemplify the qualities inherent in the concepts that these words embody, but I would like to think that by focussing my thinking on them, they will then become more evident in my life.

Wikipedia describes HOPE as an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.

Kay Warren describes JOY as the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.

John MacArthur defines GRACE as the free and benevolent influence of a holy God operating sovereignly in the lives of undeserving sinners.

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Some people criticise modern worship songs and choruses by saying that they are too simple, with not enough depth to them.

I accept that some of the traditional hymns contain an amazing depth of theology, that is lacking in some of our modern worship songs.

However, I think that there’s a place for both.

When I’m in a place of very deep emotional pain, it’s usually not deep theology that I need. Sometimes I need to very simply be reminded of the basic truths of the Christian Gospel.

On several occasions since Leah has died, we as a family have attended a church other than our own, in the hope of being able to worship God, without being engulfed in the inevitable emotion produced by attending the church where our daughter was so involved and where our children have grown up.

It really is impossible however to avoid “grief triggers” completely, so on these occasions I usually find myself crying in whatever church we’re visiting.

On one of these occasions not long after Leah had died, the church where we were visiting was having a family service. The hymns that they sang were very simple – of the “Jesus loves me, this I know” variety. Instead of a sermon, they showed a children’s DVD that taught a simple Bible lesson.

I came away feeling that I had met with God. A full blown sermon could have left me feeling discouraged by my inability to connect with what I was hearing. I was exhausted from grieving and my attention span was very short. Their simple service, aimed at the younger members of the congregation, had been exactly what I needed.

I just needed to be reminded of the basics:

God loves me.

Jesus died for me.

Some day all who love the Lord Jesus will be reunited for all eternity.

Listening to modern worship songs, with their beautiful words, helps me to hold on to these truths on a daily basis.

One of the songs that I’ve been listening to a lot lately is simply called GRACE by Martin Smith:

I was lost when you found me here

You pulled me close and held me near

And I’m a fool but still You love

I’ll be your fool for the King of Love

You gave me wings so I could fly

And gave me a song to color the sky

And all I have is all from you

And all I want is all of you

It’s Grace, grace

I’m nothing without You

Grace, Your grace

Shines on me

And there’ve been days when I’ve walked away

Too much to carry nothing left to say

Forgive me Lord when I’m weak and lost

You traded heaven for a wooden cross

And all these years You’ve carried me

You’ve been my eyes when I couldn’t see

And beauty grows in the driving rain

Your oil of gladness in the times of pain

Your Grace, grace

I’m nothing without You

Grace, Your grace

Shines on me

Grace, oh grace

I’m everything with You

Grace, Your grace

Shines on me

 

Back to Reality

Back to Reality

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Painting of Daisy Lodge by Anthony Hughes

The week we just spent at Daisy Lodge as a family of five was truly amazing. We were waited on hand and foot and completely spoiled from we arrived until we left. Our large family room was absolutely beautiful, with patio doors opening onto a veranda overlooking Tollymore Forest Park.

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The food was better than any hotel, very plentiful and always served with a smile.

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Nothing was too much trouble. Staff were on hand 24/7 to support families in whatever way was needed. There were family activities available every day, either at Daisy Lodge or in Newcastle, door to door transport was provided when required. These are copper pictures that our family made in a group activity during the week:

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Spending a week in the company of other bereaved families was also beneficial. We could laugh or we could cry, no explanation was ever needed.

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I feel like we were emotionally and physically nurtured.

Coming home again was a different matter entirely though.

We went via Belfast. Our eldest daughter will be resuming her university education this autumn and we went to see her new accommodation. It’s lovely.

Then we cut across the Boucher Road to head onto the West Link via the same roundabout with the big silver ball that I negotiated every Friday when I took Leah to her outpatients appointment at Belfast City Hospital.

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Silently I recalled being blue lighted around this roundabout with Leah on Thursday 16th January ’14 on our way to the N.I. Children’s Hospice. I write here about how Leah died in the Children’s Hospice, surrounded by love.

I hadn’t verbalised my thoughts, I hadn’t uttered a word, but a few minutes later my husband pointed out the outline of the hospice to me, over to our right, above the motorway. I could feel my grief and loss like a physical pain in my chest.

As we got nearer home after our week away, it somehow felt to me like the day we returned home from the hospice on the day that Leah died, when I hadn’t been home for two and a half weeks. I could feel that same emptiness in my heart.

Initially after arriving home yesterday I busied myself with routine tasks. Then eventually I faced Leah’s empty bedroom. I needed to see her empty wardrobe, to prove to myself once again that my daughter was gone and never coming back.

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On walking back up the hall from Leah’s room, I glanced into another room and caught sight of a pair of Leah’s old Babycham trainers, worn to within an inch of their life. She kept them for rough wear to run about outside in. They were just sitting there, mocking me, as if any minute Leah might walk through the door and put them on.

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I had a desperate urge to scream at my husband to come and lift them and put them somewhere that I couldn’t see them ………… but I never uttered a word.

It’s enough for me to be upset, without distressing everyone else unnecessarily.

Instead I went upstairs to where I keep Leah’s bear hat beside my bed. I buried my face in her wee hat and inhaled my daughters scent.

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There I cried my tears of loss and grief.

For cry I must, because grief has no shortcuts.

The Bible says that God records our tears and preserves them in a bottle – I think some of us must have crates of those bottles stacked up in heaven – like a whole load of milk crates!

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Something else I know, is that I have One who walks with me and that He is the friend who walks closer than a brother Proverbs 18:24. His grace is sufficient for my every need, 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Grace – how I love that word – His grace is not the light at the end of my tunnel; it’s the light that will guide me through this tunnel.

One of my favourite Christian books, read several years ago is What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey. If you want to gain an understanding of God’s grace I highly recommend this book.

“Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see”

Leah and I loved listening to the modern rendering of “Amazing Grace” by Chris Tomlin. I first heard this version when it was the backing track for the film Amazing Grace which was released in 2007. This film tells the story of William Wilberforce and the abolition of slavery. Leah watched this film in the cinema when she was 10 years old and she loved it. She then bought the DVD as a gift for her brother and watched it again.

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The City of Bristol earned it’s wealth from the slave trade. The abolitionist movement subsequently became very active there. While we were in Bristol, Leah and I snuggled up in bed together and once again watched the Amazing Grace DVD. We were inspired by the tenacity and courage of William Wilberforce.