In the month of November, I usually write and send devotionals pretraining to thankfulness. This year, the first devotional of November is one that truly expresses thankfulness to God. He has done great work in my daughter's life. I am most thankful.
Many of you probably recall, Tasha lost her twenty-month-old son in August. The last couple of months have been difficult ones for all of us, especially for Tasha and her husband, Pettis.
Tasha called me Thursday and told me an amazing story of how God was showing up in a mighty way in a prayer group at the factory where she works. She asked that I type a letter for her to share with the group expressing her thankfulness to them for helping her through this tough time. I am sending the letter out to all of you to read. The words are hers, not mine. The words tell a story that touched a lot of hearts when it was passed around at the factory where Tasha works Friday. I hope it touches yours as well.
To My Friends Who Pray With Me at Work
Dear Prayer Circle,
I have never been able to talk in front of a lot of people even on my very best days. Now with me being in such an emotional state, it is even harder for me. But I do want each of you to know of the great things God has done for me as I have faced the greatest loss and deepest grief you can ever imagine.
When my son passed away I was devastated. I never felt so much pain, anger, guilt, sadness, or loneliness in my life. I didn't think I could make it, and I actually didn't want to. I've even had thoughts of suicide because I thought being here without my baby would be just too hard to bear. One day at work, I had a break down of sorts as everything seemed to hit me all at once. I was so overwhelmed.
I started praying harder than I’ve ever prayed before, harder than I ever knew I could. I cried out to God. I told Him I needed Him and I knew there was no way I could do this without Him.
I asked God why He had taken my baby away from me. He told me that he was never mine. Prett was God’s little angel and was a blessing who was in my life for a little while.
Why so soon?
God told me my son had already served his purpose and had already touched more lives in his short lifetime than many adults who live long lives.
I wondered why the accident had to be. Was there anything that could have prevented it? Was there anything more we could have done? I told God I felt so guilty, but God told me Prett was already in his arms as I first walked out the door on that Sunday afternoon.
Who Is Caring for him?
I asked God who is going to hold him and sing to him at night. Who would get his cup for him? Prett always only wanted me when he was ready for bed.
God told me not to worry. He was doing that for me now.
But is he happy?
I told God I had never gotten the battery-powered hummer that he wanted so badly. God said He had whatever color he could possibly want. Prett will never want for anything again.
After the conversation with God that day at work I found peace.
I may never know why while I am here, but I feel this unimaginable, unthinkable, heartbreaking loss has made me closer to God.
But God I miss him so bad
Even though God gave me peace, there was still the overwhelming emptiness and the need, the want, just to hold my baby in my arms. One night I prayed so hard that God would let me dream of Prett, see him clearly, feel exactly what it felt like to hold him tightly in my arms. I woke early the next morning, disappointed because the dream didn’t come. I dozed off again, just a while, just long enough to dream the dream. Prett was sitting in my lap glowing. He had his head against my forehead, smiling, so very happy. I wanted to show my daddy who was there in the room. I told Prett to look at him, but he never took his eyes from me. I awoke after the dream and had a great day all day long. I didn’t give up on praying for that dream. I had faith enough to know that God would give me just what I needed. He let me hold my baby in my dream and let me know he was very happy and content.
What I would like to say to Prett
Out of all the emotions I have experienced since you went to be with Jesus, and that I continue to experience every day, two that stand out to me are joy and peace. I have the joy of knowing one day I will see you again. I have peace knowing who is taking care of you now. I have never been more content about your safety than I am right now. I know nothing, or no one will ever hurt you. I know you will always have more than you could ever need or want, more than I could have ever given you. I will from this day forth live all my days knowing, the choices I make will determine whether or not I will see you again one happy day. I love you and I will never forget you. But I want you to know that losing you has brought me to a true relationship with God that has changed my heart.
If He did it for me, He will do it for you.
I feel so blessed to have you as my friends. You have walked with me through this day by day, praying for me, and praying with me. I think Prett is smiling down on us as he sees us standing in a circle praying at the factory where his mama works. I know God spoke to me clearly during all my conversations with Him that He wanted me to share this story with others. I want others to know just how great God is. What He has done for me He can do for others as well. My prayer is that each of you will always know God is with you through everything you face on this earth. If He can help me through this, He can help you through anything you have to deal with.
Love and prayers to all of you,
The rest of the story: Friday after this letter someway made it's way around to everyone by nine o'clock, the entire factory, even the offices, came to a halt and everyone went to the break room(overflowing break room) to join the prayer circle. There were a lot of tears. There was also a lot of peace. Tasha said God's presence fell there in a mighty way and many people found just how real God is. He is God. He can show up at a factory and shut the whole thing down whenever He gets ready to. I am thankful for that.
Like heat in drought, You subdue the uproar of aliens;
Like heat by the shadow of a cloud,
the song of the ruthless is silenced
Both Sides Now
Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all
This weekend my son and I made our first official trip to the mountains. His purpose for going was to see his ball team play. Mine was to visit my friends who moved away a year ago. Neither of us went with the desire or intent to see mountains. Actually it never really occurred to us we were going "to the mountains." We just got in the car and drove and drove and drove some more. After a while, we saw mountains and mountains and more mountains. They were beautiful stretching to the sky covered in trees covered with leaves of every imaginable shade of red, gold, orange, and brown.
Saturday morning my friend and I drove up into the mountains to get a closer look. It was amazing. Since my friend lived there I assumed she knew everything you ever wanted to know about a mountain but were afraid to ask. I noticed dark places on the mountains that kind of looked like soot, where something had burned. I thought it must have been a fire there recently. I asked my friend. She said that was the shadow of clouds. I looked above and sure enough, above the dark place was a cloud with the exact shape of the dark spot below. It was a shadow of a cloud. I had never seen that. I asked, "Why?"
Why do clouds not cast shadows like that on the ground? I know clouds cover the sun and do shade it's light from shining through, but I had never seen the exact outline of the shape of a cloud on the ground before. My friend said she didn't know, she had never thought about it really. She said I reminded her of her granddaughter who is always full of questions about everything. We drove on leaving the shadows of clouds behind us and my unanswered question.
This morning I once again thought of those shadows of clouds on the mountains. I found a verse in Isaiah that speaks of shadows of clouds, so apparently, someone beside me has noticed the shadows made by clouds. I also thought of the old song, Both Sides Now. I thought of the lyrics and thought I had actually lived out those lyrics. I had looked at clouds from both sides now and I really don't know clouds at all.
I tried to find a scientific answer but only found what type of clouds cast shadows.
Cumulus (Cu). Dense clouds of vertical development. They are thick, rounded and lumpy and resemble cotton balls. They usually have flat bases and the tops are rounded. They cast dense shadows and appear in great abundance during the warm part of the day and dissipate at night.
This morning is now beginning to dissipate into the afternoon. I have a lot of things I need to be doing instead of trying to find out why clouds cast shadows on the mountains. Now I know someone with a scientific mind, or maybe just a plain old good mind, who reads this will say, "Duh, how dumb can you be? Hellllooooo....clouds casts shadows because they are in between the sun, the great source of the light, and the mountain." As I thought of that very easy answer to my question that I thought would have a complicated answer, I decided that indeed was the answer. If something comes between an object and a source of light a shadow is created.
As for the verse in Isaiah, I think it tells us that God takes care of things, such as the ruthless, that come between Him and the object, or people, such as you and I, that He is trying to shine down on.
As for the Joni Mitchell song, I think it tells us, there are indeed two sides to many things. Many things that we think of as things of beauty when they first appear may bring problems and questions into our lives. There are always going to be some things that we just can't understand, things we will never find the answer to.
There are many times in our lives when we are suddenly faced with mountains and clouds casting shadows. We are usually just traveling along smoothly with plans to enjoy life with no intention or desire of visiting many of the problems we encounter. Suddenly they just appear
Why are there mountains in our lives that seem to be unmovable? Why do things sometimes cast dark shadows on things of beauty? Sometimes instead of asking why we just need to know who we need to look up to find the answer to our questions. Look past the dark clouds on those tall mountains in your life to the source of great light.
He is the ANSWER.
Cast all your cares, concerns, and questions on Jesus.
Small Working Parts
Cell phones, so small, so convenient, so unappreciated. How did we ever survive without them? Yesterday I dropped my phone for the 144,768th time. I usually just pick it up and just like the Timex watch commercial, it takes a licking and keeps on ticking. However, the 144,768th drop was one too many lickings for my cell. Right there in the middle of Wal-Mart of all places, my cell phone died. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't put my Humpty Dumpty phone back together again, and I had a foreboding feeling that all the king's men and horses couldn't help either. As I tried to push and line up and snap the back on the front, a teeny tiny little round silver object rolled out. I picked it up and put it in my pocket as if I could ever in a million years find where it went.
The ending to this heartbreaking story is kind of a happy one, with some scotch tape and some brainpower, my son got my cell back together. I can dial it. It rings. I can talk. The only problem is all the names and numbers that were once in my phone disappeared. So as I carefully use the patched up phone I have to rely on my own memory to call those who were once lovingly stored in the memory of my cell. I suppose that one little teeny tiny round object that rolled out must have contained the list of numbers. So now I do know what it was for but have no idea where the tiny, but important object belongs.
Now, this is the part where I am supposed to relate this humdrum everyday life story to God. How can I do this one? I could say God makes all things new. But I am afraid that isn't happening with the cell. I could say, ask and ye shall receive, but I don't really think with bills due, and people starving in third world nations, I should ask for a new cell phone, even though His word does promise He will grant me the desires of my heart. But, I got to say, in all honesty, a Blackberry would be kind of nice.
What I really got from this from God, other than Him telling me I don't fully appreciate all the small things I have, is this. I think of how small the cell phones are and I think of all the things they do for us. I then think of all the teeny tiny working parts within the cell phone that make them function as they are intended to. The one small silver round object lost caused me to lose a lot of information. Small things truly make a difference. Small things can change the world.
With Christmas fast approaching. I thought of Jesus today. We went to the nursing home this morning and sang the Christmas song, "Joy to the World." AJ, Michele's six-year-old, very observant son went with us and sang. He said to me as we were leaving, " You know those old people aren't really shrinking. They aren't going to get as small as they were when they were babies. They just get all scrunched over when they get old, and that makes them look really small."
As I write this I think of small things. I thought of each of us as teeny tiny working parts within this Body of Christ. If we lose even one small part, one small person, who knows what will be lost because that person isn't performing the function he or she was intended to perform. Yes, there are billions of us worldwide, we all grow old and scrunched over at some point in this life. As AJ said, we don't really shrink, we just appear small. We were all very small babies when we were born. Jesus was a very small baby when he was born. He changed the world. We are called to be like Jesus. Let's each find out where we belong. Let's go change the world this