Thursday, June 30, 2011

Friday's Faith - If We Ask God...?

Friday's Faith

If We Ask God...?

As I began reading the scripture today that goes with the content of a devotional I was reading,

I cried...

This is the assurance we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us -- whatever we ask -- we know that we have what we asked of Him.

~I John 5:14-15

My heart cried out,

"But Lord, we asked for her safety amidst her trials and temptations. We trusted, we believed, and we stood fast on Your promises. Yet she was killed!"

In child-loss, many of us have such questions in which our faith is sorely tried. Sometimes our questions arise from the areas in which we inadvertently have allowed ourselves to be spoon-fed (or worse, allowed ourselves to have our ears tickled with what we wanted to hear) versus solid-food-fed.

After my tears, God showed me this devotional by Amy Carmichael in Edges of His Ways, starting with this scripture:

"I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the powers of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you."
~Luke 10:19

In this particular devotional, Carmichael remonstrates:

"Our Lord Jesus said this to the 70; and yet we know that all down the ages His servants have been hurt in a 1000 ways. So the words must mean, and we know they do mean, something that goes far deeper than bodily hurt, deeper even than disappointment -- that hardest hurt the mind can be asked to bear.

"It must mean that our spirits shall tread on serpents and scorpions, and have power over all the enemy. Nothing shall be allowed to sting our spirit, to poison it, or paralyze it. It is one of the magnificent promises of the Bible.

"We cannot take it too literally. There is no need to be overcome, whatever happens."

Then Carmichael ended her devotional with a scripture (of which I will use a newer translation):

"March on, my soul; be strong!"

~Judges 5:21


This devotional reminded me of how God ensured my precious child's spirit would not be "poisoned" nor "paralyzed" as Amy Carmichael relates above by ensuring that she had the opportunity to return to Him before she was killed two days later:

One of the sweetest "gifts" I received "from" Merry Katherine after her death was a sign of the sure evidence that after our very soul-oriented talk with her on July 31, 2006 (two days before she was killed) her sweet heart and soul returned to the Lord. On 7/31, she had recorded a C.D. on our computer here at home in order to take it with her on her trip -- we discovered evidence on our computer of what she had recorded some time after her death. -- This first recording that she made had included, in essence, rebellious songs oriented around acting out with alcohol...

Later that same night, we had a soulful talk with her, painstakingly addressing her misconceptions about our disciplining of her... Two days later, on August 2, 2006 (before she went on her ill-fated trip in which she and two other teens would be killed later that evening), she came back by our house to gather some things for her trip. On that same day, Wednesday, August 2, 2006 (we found out months later), she had recorded a different C.D. -- one with some of the powerful Christian songs her older brother Rollin had given her at a spiritual turning point in her life that held great meaning for her soul. What a contrast in selection of music! What precious evidence left behind of her heart and soul softened toward her loving God!

God indeed allowed nothing to violate her soul's sure standing with Him!

Picture - thanks to Jesus Daily on Facebook
Devotional - from Edges of His Ways ~by Amy Carmichael

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thursday's Therapy - Unpackaging The Princes' Top 10 TRUTHS of Child-Loss Grief - Truth #9) Child-Loss Grief Hits Bottom Between Years 2 to 4.5

Thursday's Therapy


The Princes' Top 10 TRUTHS

of Child-Loss Grief

Truth #9) Child-Loss Grief Typically Hits Bottom Between Years 2 to 4.5

Truth #9) As bad as the first year may feel, Child-Loss Grief typically hits bottom between years 2 to 4.5 when Shock wears off and Reality sets in, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder takes on a life of its own.

In the early months, raw grief, missing her, agonizing over the tragedy that we couldn't break through to her, or she couldn't seem to hear us, questioning God is she okay now (Is she safely with You), the grief was raw, but for me there were some transcending graces that soothed me. Quick comforts would come that later would have to be processed through the grueling grief mill for more longterm resolution... comforts such as

  1. My baby was a believer of the Living God and His Son's saving grace for her, so I know she is safe in Heaven. No matter what happened to her here, she is with God, so she is okay now.

  2. If she had to die on that day, at least it was quick.

  3. We had gotten to hug her and tell her we loved her, just two nights before she was killed.

You would normally think grief would be the worst the first year, and in some ways it was. The degree of raw grief was much greater and for longer periods of time during the first year. However for us, the second and third years were harder in other ways. The finality sets in during year two that she is not coming back, and that creates a whole different set of emotions and trauma to the body.

The body cannot fully absorb the brunt of all the reality of the death the first year. As trauma specialists explain to us, early on in our grief, there will literally be internal chemicals such as opiates, adrenalin, and cortisol that help us to cope with the myriad of traumatic emotions. But these experts also explain to us, the receptors for such internal chemicals will at some time burn out, and then it is like we are physically and emotionally thrown into withdrawals. So a whole new set of problems are thrown into the already compromised systems of this grieving mother and father. And very often, this is the prime breeding ground for Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome now to further compound what the parents already considered was a humanly-unbearable load.


Below is the scientific explanation for much of what I discussed above. It was on my blog previously, on 3/25/2010:

Your Brain and Stress

This article explains so much of what I see going on in my body amidst my traumatic and complicated grief! Let me know what you think in regard to what your own physiological responses to grief have been...

Those aggravating things that go wrong in the day and those irritating things that go bump in the night – disrupting routines and interrupting sleep – all have a cumulative effect on your brain, especially its ability to remember and learn.

As science gains greater insight into the consequences of stress on the brain, the picture that emerges is not a pretty one. A chronic overreaction to stress overloads the brain with powerful hormones that are intended only for short-term duty in emergency situations. Their cumulative effect damages and kills brain cells.

How Your Brain Responds to Stress

Did you know that the emotional and physical responses you have to stress are set in motion by a series of chemical releases and reactions? Find out what is really going on inside your body and why not all stress is bad.

"Attack of the Adrenals" – A Metabolic Story

The ambulance siren screams its warning to get out of the way. You can't move your car because you're stuck in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam that reaches as far as the eye can see. There must be an accident up ahead. Meanwhile the road construction crew a few feet from your car is jack-hammering the pavement. You are about to enter the stress zone.

Inside your body the alert goes out.

"Attention all parasympathetic forces. Urgent. Adrenal gland missile silos mounted atop kidneys have just released chemical cortisol weapons of brain destruction. Mobilize all internal defenses. Launch immediate counter-calm hormones before hippocampus is hammered by cortisol."

Hormones rush to your adrenal glands to suppress the streaming cortisol on its way to your brain. Other hormones rush to your brain to round up all the remnants of cortisol missiles that made it to your hippocampus. These hormones escort the cortisol remnants back to Kidneyland for a one-way ride on the Bladderhorn. You have now reached metabolic equilibrium, also known as homeostasis.

Inside Homeostasis

When a danger finally passes or the perceived threat is over, your brain initiates a reverse course of action that releases a different bevy of biochemicals throughout your body.

Attempting to bring you back into balance, your brain seeks the holy grail of "homeostasis," that elusive state of metabolic equilibrium between the stimulating and the tranquilizing chemical forces in your body.

If either one of the stimulating or tranquilizing chemical forces dominates the other without relief, then you will experience an on-going state of internal imbalance. This condition is known as stress.

And it can have serious consequences for your brain cells.

Parasympathetic and Sympathetic Nervous System

The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) turns on the fight or flight response. In contrast, the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) promotes the relaxation response.

Like two tug-of-war teams skillfully supporting their rope with a minimum of tensions, the SNS and PNS carefully maintain metabolic equilibrium by making adjustments whenever something disturbs this balance.

The strongmen on these teams are hormones, the chemical messengers produced by endocrine glands. Named after a Greek word meaning "to set in motion," hormones travel through the bloodstream to accelerate or suppress metabolic functions.

The trouble is that some stress hormones don't know when to quit pulling.

They remain active in the brain for too long - injuring and even killing cells in the hippocampus, the area of your brain needed for memory and learning.

Because of this hierarchical dominance of the SNS over the PNS, it often requires conscious effort to initiate your relaxation response and reestablish metabolic equilibrium.

The Emotional Brain – Limbic System

The primary area of the brain that deals with stress is its limbic system. Because of its enormous influence on emotions and memory, the limbic system is often referred to as the emotional brain....

Whenever you perceive a threat, imminent or imagined, your limbic system immediately responds via your autonomic nervous system - the complex network of endocrine glands that automatically regulates metabolism.

The term "stress" is short for distress, a word evolved from Latin that means "to draw or pull apart." The Romans even used the term districtia to describe "a being torn asunder." When stressed-out, most of us can probably relate to this description.

Distress Signals from Your Brain

Your sympathetic nervous system does an excellent job of rapidly preparing you to deal with what is perceived as a threat to your safety. Its hormones initiate several metabolic processes that best allow you to cope with sudden danger.

Your adrenal glands release adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) and other hormones that increase breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. This moves more oxygen-rich blood faster to the brain and to the muscles needed for fighting or fleeing. And, you have plenty of energy to do either, because adrenaline causes a rapid release of glucose and fatty acids into your bloodstream. Also, your senses become keener, your memory sharper, and you are less sensitive to pain.

Other hormones shut down functions unnecessary during the emergency. Growth, reproduction, and the immune system all go on hold. Blood flow to the skin is reduced. That's why chronic stress leads to sexual dysfunction, increases your chances of getting sick, and often manifests as skin ailments. With your mind and body in this temporary state of metabolic overdrive, you are now prepared to respond to a life-threatening situation.

Getting Back to Normal

After a perceived danger has passed, your body then tries to return to normal. But this may not be so easy, and becomes even more difficult with age.

Although the hyperactivating sympathetic nervous system jumps into action immediately, it is very slow to shut down and allow the tranquilizing parasympathetic nervous system to calm things down.

Once your stress response has been activated, the system wisely keeps you in a state of readiness.

Stress is Not All Bad

Bear in mind that an appropriate stress response is a healthy and necessary part of life. One of the things it does is to release norepinephrine, one of the principal excitatory neurotransmitters. Norepinephrine is needed to create new memories. It improves mood. Problems feel more like challenges, which encourages creative thinking that stimulates your brain to grow new connections within itself.

Stress management is the key, not stress elimination. The challenge in this day and age is to not let the sympathetic nervous system stay chronically aroused. This may require knowledge of techniques that work to activate your relaxation response.

Statistics for Child-Loss Grief bottoming out, from Kay Talbot's book, What Forever Means After the Death of a Child: Transcending the Trauma, Living with the Loss

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wednesday's Woe - Time Stands Still

Nathan with Merry Katherine, August 2004,

two years before she was killed

Wednesday's Woe

Time Stands Still

Nathan had been visiting his cousins down in Georgia, staying with one cousin's family of four girls. He said the visit had the impact on him of getting to be an "older brother" again, and it felt so good. Nathan said getting to be like a big brother again felt like a little bit of Heaven on earth. When he returned home to Tennessee, he dreamed about Merry Katherine, that she was alive again! In this dream, he didn't try to talk her out of her existence as he had done in other dreams by explaining to her that she is dead, so is she really back now, and if so, they had better contact all her friends to tell them she was alive. No, in this dream, he just began celebrating with her that after "16 months," she was resurrected! It has actually been 59 months, but to his subconscious it must seem much closer in time that almost five years now.

Though it has been almost five years since our precious 19-year old daughter was killed, somehow it seems like her death happened just last year. It's almost like time stands still amidst our deep grief. Sometimes it feels like I'm back on day one. And then again, when I am suddenly shocked once again with the stark reality of her death, it feels like I am facing her death all over again for the very first time - like I haven't been processing it or dealing with it for all these five years which I have!

I think a reality like a child's death, whether by the parents or by the big brother of the child, can never be fully accepted here on this earth. It's just too unreal, so it seems our minds play games with us of going in and out of that stark reality, but never really integrating her death into our everyday existence. I guess it's like trying to mix oil and water, trying to mix our life with her death. It just can't happen.

Pictures thanks to Karen's Quote Collections

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tuesday's Trust - Wait???

Tuesday's Trust


Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;

Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.

I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .

And the Master so gently said, "Wait."

"Wait? you say wait?" my indignant reply.

"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!

Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?

By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.

"My future and all to which I relate

Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?

I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign,

Or even a 'no' to which I can resign.

"You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,

We need but to ask, and we shall receive.

And Lord I've been asking, and this is my cry:

I'm weary of asking! I need a reply."

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,

As my Master replied again, "Wait."

So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,

And grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting for what?"

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .

and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.

I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.

I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

"I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.

You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.

You'd not know the depth of my love for each saint.

You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

"You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;

You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.

You'd not know the joy of resting in Me

When darkness and silence are all you can see.

"You'd never experience the fullness of love

When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.

You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,

But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

"The glow of my comfort late into the night,

The faith that I give when you walk without sight.

The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask

From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

"You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,

What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.

Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,

But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I'm doing in you.

"So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see

That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.

And though oft My answers seem terribly late,

My most precious answer of all is still . . . 'Wait.'"

~Untitled Poem by Unknown Author

Poem (untitled) found by an email friend on a Potters' Syndrome mom's site
Picture: Thank you to grieving mother/friend, Yvonne Shiplett

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Monday's Mourning Ministry - O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus ~Selah / Love's Fount: When God loses a child...

Monday's Mourning Ministry

O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus



Love's Fount:

When God loses a child...

My baby's not an "angel," though

she's in God's skies above~

An angel is God's helper,

but not His child He loves.

What an amazing miracle,

that God makes us His child...

To love her M-O-R-E than I could love ~

I-n-c-o-n-c-e-i-v-a-b-l-y wild!

And yet, if God loves us that much ~

as deep-wide-high His love,

that means His grief goes deeper still

than ocean's depths from skies above.

How can God function with such grief?!

My eyes tear up at such...

If He loves e-a-c-h and e-v-e-r-y child,

His tears must fill oceans with such!

If God loved us so, to give His Child,

How can I doubt His love?

Between Jesus' blood and God's tears,

Love p-o-u-r-s from skies above!

If loss of my child rips my heart out,

God's tears for e-a-c-h child of His

must fill Love's oceanic fount!


O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus!


Sung by

Todd Smith, a grieving father,


Nicol Sponberg, a grieving mother

O the deep, deep love of Jesus!

Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free;

Rolling as a mighty ocean

In its fullness over me,

Underneath me, all around me,

Is the current of Thy love;

Leading onward,

Leading Homeward

To Thy glorious rest Above.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus!

Spread His praise from shore to shore;

How He loveth, ever loveth,

Changeth never, nevermore;

How He watches o'er His loved ones,

Died to call them all His own;

How for them He intercedeth,

Watcheth o'er them from the Throne.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus!

'Tis a Heaven of heavens to me

and it lifts me up to Glory

for it lifts me up to Thee.

Poem - Love's Fount: When God Loses a Child - Angie Bennett Prince - 6/25/2011
Video -