Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Roses on a Tuesday

During the week Lia was born, I could clearly feel God's continual presence. Each minute, each breath, felt guided by His hand. Every decision we made was made in confidence, knowing the the Lord was directing our steps. And in times when we would begin to move in another direction, we could immediately feel the absence and darkness closing in. Oh what a blessing in the midst of suffering to know His presence! How heartbreaking it was to find that as the suffering decreased, it seemed to me that His ever-presence began to fade.

I found myself this week suffering a new grief - the absence of my Lord. In the routine of daily life, where was the moment by moment promptings of His Spirit? Where was His comforting presence assuring me that I was moving in His steps? Where were the little miracles each day like signposts showing me His way?

Sometimes the Lord's presence in my time of need can be mistaken for roses on Valentine's Day. I love that He is there for me, I appreciate so much that I am being cared for, but admittedly I wonder if all this is only because of the uniqueness of the situation. When the suffering subsides, will the gifts of His presence subside too? When Valentine's day is over, will the roses and chocolates be no more?

I don't want to let go of His presence! I don't want it to fade away! I don't want to go through days that feel routine and void of tiny miracles and gifts of His hand! But does that mean that I must suffer continually the great griefs of this fallen world? This was my cry to Him, and today He answered - sending me roses on a Tuesday.

Today is an insignificant day. There is nothing amazing to accomplish, nothing horrific to endure, just an average Tuesday. I picked up my devotional book - Streams in the Desert - and began to read the entry. The leading verse was the first miracle - Psalm 46:5 - God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when the morning dawns. You see, I had committed this morning to memorize one verse today that would be a source of meditation and prayer to prepare me for tomorrow, and this verse is clearly the one for me! Tomorrow morning I begin a 5:30am workout program with some friends - yep, 5:30am!! Insanity! But God in His tenderness on a simple Tuesday sends me a little love note that says - Don't worry, remember I am in your midst and I will give you strength for the morning.

The devotional entry then focused in on Psalm 125:1 - Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. Here is the second gift - the big bunch of roses. Psalm 125 is the psalm we are studying today and tomorrow for bible study (Stepping Up, Beth Moore). Here I am on a common Tuesday - and the God of the universe uses a devotional book written 80 years ago to speak to me on this day! He didn't send this gift to me because I am enduring great hardship, He simply showed me His presence and that He is continuing to guide my steps - from working out in the morning to the bible study in the afternoon.

Lord, I thank You that Your love for us never fades - that You do not have to wait for a special day or a special need to pour out Your love, gifts, and presence. Thank You Lord that You are ever-present in our lives, that we do not need to wait for the stars to align or for the seasons to change, or for offerings to be made before we can know and experience You. You Lord are the great Bridegroom, wooing us with gifts every day of our lives - love notes from Your word, and bouquets of miracles from Your hand. Thank You Lord most of all that we can know You and Your love every day of our lives, not the just tough ones.

Friday, January 25, 2008

On My Side

If the LORD had not been on our side...the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away. Psalm 124

I have always known the Lord was on my side - but perhaps only in a tolerable way. Perhaps He was only obligated to "get my back" when I was surrounded by deadly enemies - often of my own making. God always felt like a superhero sweeping in to save me -the damsel in distress who once again somehow got herself tied to a railroad track by the common villain.

But in my grief I have come to understand that the Lord truly is on my side at all times. His gentle voice whispering in my ear and giving me peace. He has been the vessel of rescue when I am drowning in grief, pulling me up from the waves when I didn't even know help was there. He has been the mighty warrior entering into the dark deadly recesses of my soul where unquenchable fire of grief burned. He has been the invisible company in an empty room, gently rebuking me for my sin when I was overcome with jealously for another mother's joy. And He has been the voice of wisdom giving whispers of caution when difficult, unexpected moments are about to occur - almost like a sign on the road warning me of dangerous curves or falling rocks ahead.

A dear friend told me yesterday that she was sad for me - not sorry for me, but sad for me. She said she couldn't be sorry for me because I so clearly had the Lord in my life. With the Lord on our side, we will still have times for sadness and grief just as Martha and Mary with Jesus beside them grieved the death of their brother. But we who grieve in the Lord are not sorry souls, for in our grief we come to know the Lord who is on our side.

Oh Lord, Maker of heaven and earth - thank You Lord for having mercy and humbling Yourself to be on my side. Thank You Lord for the many times You have defended me against the attacks of evil. Thank You Lord for the immeasurable number of times You have directed me away from danger in the moment by moment decisions of my day. You are the God of Eternity and the Lord of every minute. Thank You Lord most of all that You are on my side not just in the heat of battle but in the quiet moments of the burning soul.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Deepest Desire

What is your greatest desire?

Perhaps you have a great dream....maybe travel the world or learn to fly - is that your greatest desire? Think deeper.. think into your frustrated desires. Perhaps you have always wanted to open your own business, or be in great shape like your friend, or have an immaculately decorated home, always open for company. Do you have desires that have been frustrated by your own personality or circumstance? Think even deeper now, think about the desires of your heart that may never be satisfied. Do you long for reconciliation with your mom or dad who has passed away? Do you wish you could have said I love you one last time to a best friend before her life came to an end? Do your arms long to hold the baby you never knew? Are these the deepest desires of the human heart. Is that where our souls end - in the depths of insatiable desire?

Praise God no! Can you imagine that there is one more desire, greater and deeper than all of these? There is, there below the deepest desires wrought by the pain and despair of this fallen world, there the light of the Lord shines. You see, our greatest, deepest desire is to know God, be known by God, and glory in Him. It is what we have been designed to do from God's first thought of us.

What, are you kidding me? No, this is truth! It may seem dark and void of joy in the depths of your soul. It may seem that the deepest places are only burial grounds for dead hope. But our desire for God is there - it just may need to be awakened. Is your youthful joy of dance awakened with the rhythm of a great song? Is your deadened dream of being a singer awakened when you hear the beauty of "How Great Thou Art?" Is your desire to play an instrument aroused by the tuning of a symphony in an ornate concert hall? Is your desire to be in shape revived after watching the amazing athletic feats of Olympians? Perhaps the same is true of the greatest desire of our being - to know God. Just as our ears need a moment in the presence of virtuosos to awaken the sleeping musician within, perhaps our souls just need a few moments in the presence of the Savior to be awakened.

A beautiful and amazing thing happens as we arouse and feed this greatest desire. Imagine if you will a deep well - piled full with our pain and forgotten dreams, full of our regrets that we feel will never be repaired and our lost hopes that will never be fulfilled. At the very bottom of this well resides our desire to know the Lord and find our joy in Him. The weight of all that is within this well bears down on our deepest desire, at time crushing it into little more than a small nugget, yet it remains - dormant, waiting to be awakened. As we begin to fill ourselves daily with the words of God - we pour the water of His word down into the depths of this well. The water flows down, past the myriad of desires to the deepest one - reviving it. As our desire to know God soaks up the water of the Word, it begins to swell. And here is the amazing part... It doesn't push out the other desires - it consumes them. Spending time feeding the greatest desire of our being doesn't destroy our other desires, it doesn't push them aside in some form of holy denial, it doesn't disregard them, it literally consumes them. Your greatest desires that were truly unquenchable by the definitions and limitations of this world are consumed and satisfied by our growing love and desire for the Lord.

I know this because I have found it to be the only source of true healing. Two weeks after Lia died, I sat in my "mommy" chair feeling the heavy emotional weight of my empty arms. I longed to hold her. I believed it was the deepest desire of my being. The depression of this desire was unbearable. I could never hold her again and so the only cure for this desire was to either let it go - akin to losing her again - or die myself. How horrible that my God-given desire to nurture an infant was driving me to death. And then the Lord led me to read the first chapter of John Piper's book: Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. One line from the book instantly transformed my grieving – “The deepest longing of the human heart is to know and enjoy the glory of God.” There was the joy I longed for! The deepest, truly deepest longing of my heart is not lost in death! Instead, the deepest longing of my heart is actually a desire for life, a desire for God, a desire that can be FULLY SATISFIED!

When I feel the pain of death, and I do feel it often - I must look deeper, I must look for the greater desire for the Lord that, when filled, will also consume the pain of loss. It works, it truly does work! By spending time with the Lord, my soul is filled and somehow by His miraculous design, the deepest pain of my heart is being satisfied.

Thank You Lord that from the beginning of time you designed Man to desire You. Thank You that in my seeking You, all the desires of my heart may be satiated. Lord continue to draw my heart toward you, continue to reach deep within the well of my being and draw up my desire to know and enjoy you. Continue to fill me with Your love and Your presence in a manner that all my pile of desires, and hopes, and tears, are satisfied in You. Thank You Lord that in designing us to worship You, to desire You, You also desired for us to be filled and satisfied. You are glorious and worthy of all my desire.

John Piper: http://www.desiringgod.org/

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Hardest Question

We all dread those certain questions - ones like - "So, what have you been learning in your quiet times lately" when you haven't opened your bible in weeks. Or the "How are you?" questions on a Sunday Morning when you just spent all day Friday and Saturday in your pajamas eating popcorn and don't want to admit it. Or the "Where are you from?" question when you have lived in 3 different states and 15 houses before the age of 18. Each of those questions can leave us without a clear answer. I thought those were tough questions, but now I know the hardest one:

How many kids do you have?

My husband was the first to field this question. At bible study last week, the men all introduced themselves and told about their jobs and families. "I am married to Anissa, and have 2 daughters, Kaiden and Jordan...." Mark shared with me later how difficult it was to say he has 2 daughters. Don't we really have 3?

What does an elderly mother with grown children say when one of her 3 children dies - does she now only have 2 kids? If Lia had lived and instead we lost her as a youth - would we then count as having had 3 kids? Where do I fit? I have 3 pregnancy and birth stories, but only 2 stories of rocking infants to sleep at night. I have 3 little girls I have held in my arms, but only 2 with social security numbers. Where do I fit?

I have not had to answer this question yet - I am surrounded by people who know me and know my story. But how will I, in years to come, as we continue to move around and make new friends in new cities, how will I answer the most basic question of motherhood - How Many Kids Do I Have?

Oh Lord, I thank You that nothing with You is ever forgotten. Though years may come when none know of my little Lia and the short life she had within me - she is not forgotten by You. Thank You Lord that the story of our lives are not etched on earthly stones but instead in Your book, kept forever in Heaven. Thank You Lord that my identity is not in how many children I have - instead my identity is in You.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Meaning of Lia Grace

The following was written in October and was to be included in her birth announcement.

Lia is a variation of the Hebrew Leah meaning “weary”

While traveling in China ten years ago, I learned much about the importance of names—specifically the new and more powerful meaning when two separate names are combined.
Lia and Grace both communicate what this season of life has been for us—a time of great trial and weariness, but also a great time of learning of the grace of God. It has been challenging with Mark deployed during this pregnancy—but through the challenges and sufferings we have each faced, we have experienced God’s grace and presence as never before. For when we are at our weakest, it is then that God’s abundant grace carries us through. And we do not fear the times of trial, for we rejoice that through those times, we come to know our Lord all the more!

The more the flesh is wasted away by affliction,
so much more is the spirit strengthened
by inward grace. Thomas à Kempis

Lia's name meant so much to us as we anticipated the arrival of our little girl! Now in the great suffering of our loss, her name is even more special to us. In the weakness of our grief we have truly come to know the strength of the Lord.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Climb Every Mountain

I am at a low point today. Having completed my first week of "normal" life, I am emotionally and physically spent. I have spent the past 2 days in pajamas longing for mounds of carbohydrates laced with sugar. Mark kindly took the girls with him to a friend's house this evening to give me some time alone. Despite the additional rest I have had, my spirits are not lifted, instead, I find myself more desperate for something to lose myself in ~ but I am reaching the point where nothing satisfies. I wanted to absorb my mind in something - but books require too much thinking and we don't have a hundred channels of cable to surf. So I turned on my rabbit ears, hoping to lose myself in the Packer game.

Instead the Lord spoke. On the TV was a choir singing, Climb Every Mountain - a song which I have always loved but which has great significance after our vacation. My three year old, who has my ambitious spirit, loved our time in the mountains. "Can we go to the top of that mountain mommy?" Her request echoed from the backseat of our van every day of our time in Colorado. The vistas from the city were not enough for her. She wanted to conquer every mountain - she wanted to see the world from the top, not admire the mountains from the valley below. I thought about the song and how perhaps it should be her theme!

But God has been showing me instead that perhaps it is to be my theme. Since Lia's passing, I have been consumed with renewed ambitions - a desire to play piano, a desire to learn sign language, a desire to study His word intensely. Unfortunately, in the struggle of this last week, among children screaming over puzzle pieces and coveted christmas toys, I have lost my ambition. Rather than strapping on my boots for a hike up the mountain, I have succumbed to the comfort of the couch in the valley.

Yesterday, in my bible study (Stepping Up, Beth Moore) I read, "You and I have places to go. People to meet. Dragons to slay. Foes to defeat. If God had already taken us everywhere He intended, we'd be at His glorious feet by now. That you and I are still here drawing terrestrial breaths tells us that God still has appointments for us."

I am so thankful that God interrupted my pursuit of earthly empty fulfillment (tv) with words to remind me that He does have something for me. I am alive and must pursue life!

Climb every mountain, search high and low
Follow every by way, every path you know
Climb every mountain, ford every stream
Follow every rainbow, till you find your dream
A dream that will need, all the love you can give
Everyday of your life, for as long as you live
Climb every mountain, ford every stream
Follow every rainbow, till you find your dream

Friday, January 11, 2008

My Snowbaby

We had a big snowfall here in Abilene on Thanksgiving day. That night Lia passed away. As I drove to the hospital Friday morning to confirm what I already knew to be true, I took solice in the beauty of the snow covered city. Abilene in the winter is usually brown, dry, and desolate. But that early Friday morning was one of the most beautiful mornings I have seen here. As I laid in the hospital bed, the heart monitor silent, I stared out the window at a large pine tree covered in snow. I thanked God for the beauty of the morning. Little did I know that the peaceful shroud of snow would follow us in our grief throughout this season.

On Sunday, my first day home without Lia, we again were blessed with snow. Big beautiful thick snowflakes - the kind I remember from years ago in Nebraska. Once again, my grief was peacefully shrouded in snow.

Lia was buried the following Saturday in Mark's hometown. And - guess what - snow! Well, actually, a lot of ice and snow, so much that the roads were empty and the town quiet. It wasn't harsh enough to do damage, just enough to bring the world to a pause for a while.

We traveled to Mark's hometown for Christmas. A white Christmas isn't common in Southern Nebraska - you might have some remnant piles from previous storms, now brown with dirt, but fresh snow is rare. There had been an abundant amount of snow since Thanksgiving, and the cemetery was covered in white. The flowers and red pointsettia we set for her were stunning against the brightness of the snow.

And Christmas night, those big beautiful snowflakes began to fall again. The town was silent and peaceful.

Our winter wonderland continued for another week as we enjoyed mornings of frozen fog causing the trees to shimmer in the early sunlight. All the winter joys of my youth - frozen shimmering trees, big snowflakes, fields so white with fresh snow that the sunlight hurts your eyes - all of them surrounded me for our entire time. While my family there was growing weary of the long winter, my heart was encouraged, thinking of Lia and the first snow in Abilene.

For Christmas, Mark's aunt gave me a SnowBaby - "Love is a Baby Girl"
A SnowBaby - how appropriate! I love how her face is hidden, snuggled into her blanket. Lia's baby blanket is the same shade of pink, and Lia's face is hidden from us now, her joy and smile known only to the Lord.
It is almost 70 degrees in Abilene today, and no snow of course. But my heart still feels the peace and calm of a quiet night of snowfall as I remember my precious snowbaby.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Shut Up Stupid Head!!

the spiritual battle of grief

Here is a news flash for you - Satan doesn't take a holiday. Mark and I used to joke about this when churches take "summer breaks" from Sunday School or fellowship. Satan isn't taking a break so why should we? Even though I knew that Satan never takes a vacation, I was still shocked when I realized that Satan doesn't take a break when I grieve. Instead, he goes on high alert - looking for an inroad into my exposed and wounded heart.

His favorite attack on me is guilt. In the middle of enjoying a dinner date with my husband, the voice creeps in - you wouldn't be hear if Lia was alive. How dare you enjoy yourself. Today, I went to the first day of the women's winter bible study and the voice creeps in -- you wouldn't be in this study if Lia were alive. Last night while watching a football game cuddling up beside Mark, the voice comes again - if Lia were here, you would be caring for her tonight, how dare you enjoy time with your husband. This is just the first line of attack. True to his nature, Satan has no limit to the evil he can devise: This morning, as I slowly awoke from a rare full night of sleep the voice spoke again - how dare you enjoy this moment, you are actually glad that she is gone, you wouldn't be able to sleep in if your baby were here - maybe you never wanted her in the first place, you are such a horrible woman.

It is moments like this that I am thankful to know the truth - Satan is the author of lies and there is no condemnation for those of us who know the Lord. With that knowledge Satan's attacks are easier to spot. Anything I hear that drives me to depression, condemnation, and shame is not of the Lord. The Lord has used my grief to show me areas of sin, but His voice is gentle and directs me to the hope of repentence. Satan's words only drive me toward death.

When the voice of death comes to condemn me, I remember a favorite phrase of a young girl named Madison: "Shut up stupid head!" Madison refers to satan as stupid head, and in those times when she hears the voice of temptation she says outloud "Shut up stupid head!"

I can get too caught up sometimes in the battle for my mind, wondering if there is any truth to Satan's words, wondering when the attacks will ever relent, wondering if there is any such thing as spiritual ear plugs to block out his words. But perhaps I need to approach this like a child and not over think it - I just need to say aloud - "Shut Up Stupid Head!!"

The Void

the comfort of being busy

Mark is back to work now, and my days feel strangely empty. Oh, there are plenty of tasks to do - laundry, cleaning, sorting, organizing... but I am struggling with a feeling of purposelessness today. (is that even a word??) I keep thinking of what I would have been doing - holding a little baby, nursing her, rocking her to sleep. I think of her in a sling around my waist as I do my chores. I think of all that I would have been balancing at this moment and when I compare it to what I currently need to do - I am left feeling empty.

I look at who I was supposed to be on this day - a supermom raising three little girls and preparing my home for a big move to South Carolina. My life seems strangely easy compared to what I was planning to face. As a result, I am filled with too much time. 3 months ago, the last time life was "normal" I was hugely pregnant and raising 2 energetic girls - praying every night for daddy to come home soon from his deployment. The days are so much easier now that today for the first time in memorable history, I was actually running early.

Sounds wonderful doesn't it? But this extra time leaves me with a void in my life - a void in which I am often left sitting and contemplating my pain. Oh how I wish life was hard. How I wish that I were a pioneer woman who cannot take a day to rest, who must toil all day just to finish basic chores and put food on the table. Or I wish I had a job outside the home to occupy my time and my mind. I wish I could overload myself with volunteer jobs and other acts of service. But instead all I have at this moment is a house of small mundane tasks and two children with unending requests.

A friend prayed for me today. She prayed that I would fill the voids in my life with only the Lord. As a mommy, I find comfort in being busy - it keeps you from thinking and feeling too much. But in our busyness it can be easy to ignore the voids of our hearts. So the challenge I face right now is in making wise choices with my time - rather than filling my free time with new projects, am I willing for life to be a little less busy? Am I willing to have some down time and not fear the grief that may rise to the surface in the moments of silence?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Two Kinds of Grief

I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life~ Deut. 30:19-20

I have found that there are two kinds of grief - a grief that leads to hope and life, and a grief that leads to death. 13 years ago, I pursued the latter. Faced with much grief and sorry in that year, I did not choose to seek God. I did not choose to believe his promise that all things he works for the good of those who love him. I did not choose to hold fast to God. Instead I chose to be angry. As a result, I found death - I faced a year of depression that deepened with each additional sorrow that came into my life. I thought I was allowing myself to grieve. I tried sleeping - hoping that in my sleep somehow my sorrows would find respite. I tried beating my body through exercise and diet - attempting to control the one thing I felt I had power over. Both of these endeavors were vain self-centered attempts to appease my flesh. Oversleeping led to skipping class, missing work, avoiding friends and loved ones. I would hide for days at a time in my dark dorm room waiting for the the latest storm of grief and depression to pass. Exercising and dieting led to self-obsession and binge eating. Food became my solice and my enemy. All of my grieving and the attempts to satisfy it were choices of death.

When we lost Lia, I knew that I did not want to grieve in the manner I had before - a year of pain and depression that drew me away from God and into sin. I knew there had to be another way. My first inclination was to not grieve at all. To dismiss my pain, pack everything away and move on. Obviously this was not God's way either. Even Jesus, knowing he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead took time to grieve - so clearly denying pain is not the answer.

God was faithful to show me another way - grief that leads to life. Our grief is real. Our disappointment and sorrow in losing something that was never meant to be lost is real. But our God is the great Redeemer. He is capable of redeeming anything and anyone. I have learned that God-honoring grief is a process of crying out to Him, telling Him what it is that we have lost, what it is that has been marred, and then allowing Him to redeem it (restore it). God truly is able to restore what has been lost or destroyed by the sin of this world. Death of any person, whether natural or through catastrophy is a result of sin because death entered our world with the first sin. And as with all other effects of sin, the pain and anguish of death can be redeemed. The sting of death has been eliminated through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. Not just the sting of death for the one who died, but also the sting of death for those who remain.

I could spend the rest of my life listing all the things I will never be able to experience with my daughter. All the joys I will never see. I am sorrowful for the things I will miss, but rather than being angry at God, I am challenged to cry out to Him, telling Him my pain and demanding - yes, demanding - that he redeem it. Then God, in His infinite wisdom will work all of my pain for my good. He will turn my mourning into gladness and my dispair into praise (Isaiah 61).

Grief that leads to death is any form of grieving that takes my eyes off of the Lord, that seeks to satisfy grief through the ways of this world. Grief that leads to life looks to the Lord for healing and restoration, surrendering to His ways acknowledging that He alone has the power over death and its sting.

When we choose to grieve in hope and life, a great battle is awakened. Because Satan is defeated and death has no sting his plan of attack now is to deceive and ensnare us with lies. I have battled many times these past weeks to cling to the hope and joy of the Lord in the midst of Satan's attack. I can hear the barrage of lies saying that my joy is really just denial and that my hope is really just delusion. Satan's mission is to disable me from living for God, disabling me in my grief to the point that my life is essentially dead. Satan's strongest attack is in convincing me that life was in my daughter and now that she is gone, my life is gone. But this too is a lie. The Lord is my life. By listening to His voice and holding fast to Him, my grief though great, will not destroy me. Instead, by choosing life, by choosing the Lord, I am able to conquer the death that grief desires to bring.

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life~ Deut. 30:19-20

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Ringing in My Ears

Grief's constancy

Two months ago, I had a severe cold and blocked up ears that made my right ear start ringing. It was a mild frustration throughout the day, but that night, the ringing was so extreme that I could not sleep. It wasn't that the ringing became worse, it was that all the distractions and noises of the day were gone and I was left with only the constant sound in my ear.

I have found my grief to be much like a rining in my ear, especially during the holidays. I go through the day, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the season - but always hearing the undertone of grief. And then, when the distractions fade, either with a quiet moment in a hallway, my car, or in the calm of the night, I become consciously aware of the grief that has been humming in my mind all day. In so many unexpected moments, I am left only to hear my grief - the pause between songs on the radio, a lull in the conversation - and a dozen other moments throughout the day calm the noises enough to make me aware of grief's constant presence. But at night, the awareness can become almost unbearable. Occasionally I will wake at 3am, the house completely silent. Surrounded by quiet, my mind is overwhelmed by grief's ringing. Thoughts, feelings, and emotions of my grief flow unabated. Some nights I have laid awake for several hours, my mind unable to control the train of grief burrowing through me.

My unintended solution for this has been to wear myself down to the point of exhaustion. That way I can sleep through the night. My two toddler daughters help emensely with this endeavor! But what about those who grieve who do not have the distraction of caring for others? I have been thinking a lot of parents who lose their first child. How much louder the ringing of grief must be for those who do not have other children in the house to fill the void with laughter and playing.

However, exhausting myself is not how God intends for us to deal with our pain. "Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest." What does this look like in the silence of the night? There are times when I have come to the Lord with my grief, sitting on His lap and letting the tears flow. But there are other times when I come to the Lord in the night asking him to fill the silent void. He has given me songs and prayers to fill my mind - a respite from the ringing. I am thankful that our Lord never rests! Instead, just like my grief - I find that I am more aware of Him in the stillness of the night.