The Beauty in Death

I’m not a good hermit crab mother. Yes, you read that right. We’ve been trying to keep hermit crabs alive around here, and it’s not going so well. We’ve been through 3 in one month, making good use of that 30-day return policy at the pet store. I think they even might have recognized us last time we walked in with our limp lifeless shell to return.

(Can you find him?) 🙂

Each time, we wonder what we are doing wrong. I go researching again, asking Siri, “Why did my hermit crab die?”, and finding pages and pages online describing many people’s experiences with these little finicky creatures. I change something else about the care we are giving them. Continually. Fresher food… bigger tank… different water source… humidity thermometer… and the list goes on.

The other night I couldn’t sleep, and I lay in bed scrolling through more Internet sites, feeling as I’ve had about enough of this. Wishing I never would have said “yes” to my daughter’s desire to own these little guys and experience this disappointment. After all, she won’t even give the new one a name any more because she’s convinced it will be dead within the week.

“God, why?” I cry out in my weary sleeplessness. “Why does my precious girl just have to keep having reminders of death? Hasn’t she gone through enough at her young age? Can’t she just have the fun of having a pet for awhile without being reminded of the frailty of life again and again?”

But even in that moment, I knew that I had already found the answer. As I prayed about the act of dying, I was researching how to live. Every single death had forced me to stretch myself… to grow. For the crabs, it’s about growing in knowledge. But in life, it’s about so much more.

Awhile ago, I heard something that has unsettled me since. An acquaintance of mine who follows a different religion decided to visit a local church with Christian beliefs. After the service, she shared how disheartened she was that nothing was said about the future of the Christian… about what is still to come. This was crazy to me. After all, isn’t our future the best part of our faith? The fact that heaven awaits… that Jesus came so that we could be forgiven and our future made secure… that He is in the process of making all things new. It’s the faith to trust what awaits that helps us get through the difficulties of the here and now.

I guess it would be easy, when life is going well, to forget about this. To forget to share this good news with others in need of it, and forget to live for what’s coming, simply enjoying today. But death… but death reminds us in ways that nothing else can. It offers a slap in the face that ultimately wakes us up to the reality that this is not all there is. That life is short and nothing we can really do to change that. It is the constant reminder that this world is not our home that forces us to choose whether or not we will view it as such, or choose to live with a heavenly perspective.

And when we choose to bask in that reality, painful and hard as it is, the reminders of the future make life more beautiful. Because each hard day that we experience is one more day we can check off before we experience our ultimate future with our amazing Savior. Each day that we spend missing our loved ones that have gone on before us is one day closer to being with them again.

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next… The conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” -C.S. Lewis

So we grow stronger.

We love bigger.

We give greater.

Because death may not seem very beautiful, but the perspective it offers can be. And the life that results can be glorious. Heavenly.

Because that’s what it’s all about all along. It just takes death to wake us up to it sometimes.

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When Crickets Chirp…

If you are one of the few precious people who read this blog, you may have noticed that I’ve been quiet for awhile.  Like… pretty much since before Christmas.  Way too long.  Maybe you’ve heard the crickets chirping here. 🙂 Sure, I’ve done a few product reviews and those are always fun, but I really haven’t taken the time to express my own thoughts in awhile. 
To be honest, I haven’t really known what to say.  The Lord has had me in this “quiet season” right now.  It’s a season of rediscovering what I know to be true about Him and yet discovering things about Him that I’ve never truly known before.   It’s a season of reshaping my faith and shutting my mouth so that I can really hear His Word and His voice in new ways.  And, it’s a season of stripping… of painful pruning and trust walks, when I can’t see where He’s taking me. 
(a precious 5-year old version of Jesus coming back in the clouds) 
This week marks two years since my sweet husband went to be with Jesus.  Everyone prepared me that the second year post loss would be harder, and boy, were they right.  I’ve been faced with some really difficult trials this year, and been up against some obstacles that I’ve never encountered before and could have never guessed were coming.   Our circle of support has also grown smaller, but I was prepared for that too, thanks to wise words I’ve read from the lovely Kay Warren.  The grief pops up in less expected ways that I’m not as prepared for. Through it all, I’ve had to continually learn more and more to let Jesus be my total sufficiency, and trust Him to provide all that we need in His perfect timing.  That timing, of course, is far different from my own. 
Yet, He has been so so faithful in gently guiding me on this journey and giving me a strength I could never conjure up on my own to endure whatever each day brings.   He has humbled me greatly as I see more and more, that this life has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him.  He has challenged my faith through the lives of others who have walked this journey before me.  He has brought broken dreams to the spotlight of my prayers and has given me the boldness to bravely approach Him with my shattered heart, entrusting Him again and again with those dreams.   And when I do, He beautifully pours in me the hope, though some days bleak, to continue dreaming and trusting. 
I want to see Him continue to work, and to accomplish those dreams He’s put in my heart.   But for now, I believe it’s about being still and letting Him fight for me as I learn that in quietness and confidence is my strength. (Is. 30:15)
Pastor James MacDonald visited my church recently, and preached from James 1.   When he spoke on James 1:3-4:
“…for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
He explained that steadfastness, patience, or whatever other word your Bible translation gives, is the Greek word “hupomena”… which means “to remain under.”   This is the true challenge of trials and hard seasons in our lives.  Will we choose to remain under when all we want to do is to get out?  To stop fighting it and endure for as long as is needed, learning what our Father wants us to from it?  What a lesson learned that will help us through anything we will face in life!  When we learn how to “remain under” well, it is a funnel through which all other ministry and life opportunities will grow. 

This brought so much clarity to me and encouraged me, as I hope it does for you, that God is using the hard seasons to teach us so much.  The process of learning how to remain under will not only help me now, but in whatever seasons that are ahead.  
So for now, I choose to remain under even when it’s painful.  And remaining under may mean more quiet.  More seeking instead of speaking.   I may be quiet for awhile longer.  The crickets may keep chirping around here, but amidst the silence, a lot more can be learned than it often can in the noise.  
I honestly don’t really know what’s ahead.  I have big dreams and plans, even for this little blog, but they are all in God’s hands.  
And I’m learning that there’s no one better to hold them.  

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