Thursday, December 11, 2014

Always Learning

Shortly after Rare Bird came out, a friend from my kids' old school invited me to lunch.

We mainly knew each other from the car pool line and quick hellos at school concerts, but I knew enough about Lori to know she is a big pray-er. In Christian circles we call this a "prayer warrior." I knew she had been praying about Rare Bird for more than a year, as well as praying for our family in other ways, because I had asked her to.

You see, Lori's knees hit the floor before her feet do in the mornings. And she doesn't just say, "I'll be praying for you," she does it. It doesn't matter if you are in the Target parking lot or the aisle at church, she will pray for you right then and there, and I love that about her. She is also very real, approachable, and easy to talk to.

When we met for lunch, Lori brought her journals from the time of Jack's accident.

She had something to share, but hoped I wouldn't think it was strange. I assured her that not a whole lot seems strange to me any more. Losing a child is the ultimate in strange.

Lori opened her journal and read about how God spoke to her during her prayers one morning a few days after the accident, telling her, "Go where they found him, and I will meet you there." She knew God was talking about Jack. I asked her what that was like; did she hear an audible voice? She replied that it was a clear knowing inside of her that God was speaking to her. I like thinking about how just as a sheep knows the shepherd's voice, we, too, can recognize the voice of God, especially as we spend more time with Him and know his nature.

The problem was, Lori didn't want to go to the creek. She resisted. Our small community was wracked with grief and confusion, and she didn't want to go to the spot where Jack was found. It was too sad, too hard.

She put it off, but one day, upon driving over the road where Jack's body was found, she pulled over, parked, and walked down to sit in the (dry) creek bed, the steep banks looming up on either side of her.

"Okay, God, I'm here and I'm ready."

And she waited.

She said God showed her a few things pertinent to her own life and her family, but nothing about Jack. Then she looked up toward where she knew our neighborhood was, and the direction Jack's body had traveled. At that moment she saw a large bush hanging out over the side of the creek, in front of a big bend. In that bush were three cardinals, which to her had been signs of God's faithfulness during a very difficult time in her life. At that moment, God spoke to Lori's spirit again, saying,

"Before he was there, he was with me."

God was sharing with her that before Jack's body was trapped and stuck, he was already in God's presence. What Lori experienced that day mirrored what I feel in my heart, and what others have shared with me.

She also felt God was telling her the words, "Sacred Ground" about where she sat.

Lori didn't explain why she hadn't shared her journal with me three years earlier, and I didn't ask.

I just figured there must have been a good reason. That is one difference between the Anna today and the Anna of three years ago. I have started to embrace mystery, and let go of having all the answers.

I don't get to choose to have Jack safe and alive with us to adulthood.
I don't get to choose which prayers get answered in the way I want them to.
I don't even get to choose how and when comfort comes to me!

You see, with my conservative faith background,  Lori would have been the ideal, even expected, messenger to deliver God's comfort to me, and I would have surely put her story in my book.

But she didn't share it. Not then.

Yet still the comfort came. Through the Holy Spirit.  Through blog readers around the world. Through a dear friend whose spiritual side had seemed wacky to me. Through dreams and visions. Through symbols as seemingly insignificant as clouds, blue jays, songs on the radio, and now, three years later, the hearts I seem to find everywhere around me.

I believe that if God wants to tell us something, in this case an assurance that Jack was with his Heavenly Father almost immediately, His message will get through. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

I wonder if  this was a case of my being stretched, personally, so that when the time came for me to use my broken heart to start reaching out to many other grievers, I would be able to listen to their experiences solely with love and not skepticism, even if their experiences differed widely from my own. Perhaps it was so that I would have to trust that the examples I put in my book would be the right ones to touch readers in a way they needed.

I don't know. It's a mystery.

But I am grateful to Lori, who listens to God. I am grateful to God, who finds ways to get through to us again and again. And I'm grateful to YOU, for being here with me.


Kelly Rojas said...

So beautiful!

Elaine Alguire said...

Truly miraculous and beautiful Anna. I am grateful for these kind of people in your life and for the love of God to carry you through.


Jamie Reese said...

I love this. Grace. Comfort. A measure of peace. An awesome Christmas gift from God and your friend

Hands Free Mama said...

I am having trouble finding words, dear Anna. I hope it will suffice to say these are comforting words to me tonight. I will not forget them. I thank God for the gift of you and those who contribute to your journey that helps so many.

Meredith Self said...

May many be comforted.And isn't your sharing part of how God comforts! :) oxoxox

claire plante said...

What a beautiful post, Anna. I really loved reading it and it just makes so much sense. I am so glad she shared this and that it was a comfort to you! I pray for that for you all the time - that you feel comfort and peace.

Thank you for sharing your heart and your thoughts and your questions.

Love you, xoxo

Kendra HeadlessMom said...

I am blessed to be a part of your story.... even just an observer from miles and miles away. You teach me something every single day.

Alison said...

I am glad for Lori being in your life,and now sharing this part of her faith journey with you.

Laura said...

This is lovely. xo

Jill said...

Beautiful. And they way you shared that was beautiful too.

Kerry S. said...

Oh Anna (and Lori),

This was beautiful. What a comforting gift.

A hope of mine, when I sent you the book "Life After Life" by Dr. Moody, was that it would help you believe that Jack was already out of his body and did not suffer (like the person who was out of their body after a terrible car crash in the book).

When I read this piece, I felt that confirmation.

I so wish you could have your Jack here with you. There are so many tragedies I just don't understand. But these messages and connections give something to hold on to.

Thank you both for sharing.
Sending love,

Anonymous said...

I am grateful for you, Anna. Thank you. Your words continue fill my heart. XO

Anonymous said...

I used to be big fan. It's just gotten too jesus-y for me.

Amanda said...

Absolutely breathtaking.

heather blair said...

I got on here to share this with you and beside your post it said, "23 hours ago" ...(first hug)

The reason I logged on to share, is that I was going through past Christmas posts and I read again about our last day together, specifically about Austin hanging ornaments. He paused and commented about tiny glass angels, filler ornaments at that point. I remember him commenting about how they were his favorite and of how there was such a sense of peace on him - in him - that day. As I was reading the post again, your post whispered to me, "I was with him then..." goosebumps.

Jenn said...

Wow. Just wow. You are lucky to have such a friend.

Anonymous said...

And I am grateful that you continue to witness to us. "Rare Bird" has a "Rare Mom" who continues to share with us all. You are an artist that uses words to paint the most beautiful pictures! Thank you

Julie Van Inwagen said...

Your thoughts & words comfort & strengthen so many! I read your book (loved it) & gave a copy of it to my sister, who also tragically lost a son almost 2 years ago, only days short of Christmas, which makes the "season" all the harder! I hope your book blesses her with comfort, strength & His peace. Bless you Anna~~ Julie

sara said...

so beautiful Anna

Anonymous said...

As I look at the cardinals on my Christmas tree I will think of these words -- you have been blessed to have this friend and this story told to you. We are all blessed when you share them all with us.

Shellie said...

I read all you write but comment rarely. This post gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes.
The Lori's of this world are a gift. Their faith in God strengthens our faith in God.
And to the anonymous poster - too Jesus-y?? Is there such a thing?

Anonymous said...

I believe she waited to share her story because the rush of love and support has surely slowed by now. You need to know now, more than ever that people are still thinking of Jack. You have mentioned previously that the second year was harder than the first because you started to go about your daily life and people started to move on with their own. It is nice to be reminded that people are still sharing your story and praying for you. It is the love being rationed so when you think it has run out, there is more to spare.

Anonymous said...

It is super mysterious, but you have a way of demystifying it all for me. Thank you for sharing what Lori shared.


julie gardner said...

I learn something every single time I come here and spend time with your words.

Thank you.

Meg McCormick said...

WOW. No words.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad that your friend shared this with you and that you shared it with us. Thanks so much. Sending hope and hugs.

Anonymous said...



Lady Jennie said...

This takes my breath away. I want to be more in tune to the Spirit the way Lori is. I love that it was sacred ground.

Ugh. Sometimes I feel like I'm frittering my life away when there is so much to …. do? Live?

Heidi Cave said...

I was just telling a friend that I am content to stay in the mystery of God. There is so much I don't understand and I've become more okay with that over the years. Mystery opens doors.

Thinking of you a lot lately. xoxo

Debby@Just Breathe said...

What an amazing blessing that Lori shared with you. There is a timing for everything and it fits so perfectly now. God intended for her to wait. I am in awe of your journey and God's presence in your life along the way.

You know my son Adam and his fiance Tristen are on their way to Pittsburgh this week. Her new career as an Asst. Professor starts at the University of Pittsbugh. Adam's career with Cedars Sinai on the Ethics Board will continue, he will be working from home and come into LA about once a month.

Obviously I have been feeling sorry for myself. This is a big deal to me. I never thought my children would live far away. I've cried a lot of tears but what I keep telling myself is that I must be thankful in all things and the fact that my son is here on earth! I know full well how many mother's do not have this option and that I should not feel sorry for myself but continue to keep praying for those who have children in heaven. I want to apologize for making this such a big deal. ((HUGS))

Jenn said...