where is your faith

prayerCSlewisYesterday my family lost a great man, a man who was married to my Nana and fathered my mother.  I’ve struggled for the past 24 hours trying to decide how to process this loss, and honestly I have been unsure about sharing it on this blog.  However, I decided that my grandfather deserves a tribute from me in the best way I know how, and I’m sure my family would like to know how much I cared.  I’m not always great at expressing myself face to face, and I certainly deal with death differently on some levels.  So even though this blog is a public forum, I hope my family and friends who read this will understand that this is my way of coping.

For the past several years I have watched my grandfather struggle with dementia and the inability to fully take care of himself, so it’s hard for me to not feel joy knowing that he is beginning a new life, fully healed and whole.  Of course I am sad for myself; I am sad that my family has to suffer such a great loss.  Yet, I couldn’t be more happy for my Papa Sr.  I know that’s not the typical outlook, and I’m not entirely sure what that says about me.  I hope though, that it says I believe in a God who keeps his word, and that I’m confident that He is in control.  I believe that He grants eternal life to those who have believed in Him.  I believe that even though death is hard on the living, God draws near to the brokenhearted and brings peace to those who draw near to him.  The psych major in me knows that these beliefs do not significantly alter the grieving process.  I know that grief is very real, and honestly I’m still waiting on that part to sink in.  For right now it seems that the best thing I can do is to be there for my family, knowing that they and God will be there when my grief begins to set in.

psalm347Anyway, my grandfather was 81, and passed away from a heart attack  and general health complications.  He served his country as a Marine for 20 years in Korea and then Vietnam, twice.  He was the kind of guy who wanted to pay for my schooling and a brand new car and a new house, but he would complain about a twenty-dollar steak or a forty-dollar shirt for himself.  Even if he was having a terrible day, he always seemed happy to see me.  He maintained his sense of humor and quick wit, which was always very entertaining.  No doubt there were struggles, and though he didn’t always express it well, I am certain that he loved my grandmother and my family very much.  He will certainly be missed.

On a distantly related note, I am very thankful that my trip to China has been delayed for an undetermined amount of time at this point.  God definitely knows what He is doing because there is absolutely no way that I could have gotten on a plane tomorrow afternoon for Beijing.    I believe the earliest I will hear something is around the 24th of February, but I fear that too much of a delay will prevent me from going at all.  (Going for 5 months allows me to receive a monthly stipend for working there, but a delay would mean working less time, which could mean losing the stipend.  I would be unable to stay there for a few months without the extra income.)

I trust that God knows what  He’s doing though.  I mean he kept me  here to support my family in this time of need, which I am very grateful for.  So we will see what happens in terms of the China trip, but I think I can honestly say that while I would still love to go, I believe that God would use me to do equally great things here if I was unable to go.  I know that His plan is greater than any I can imagine, and I have already seen so many personal transformations just through preparing for this trip.  The lessons God uses to prepare your heart for the things to come don’t disappear if the future changes.  The lessons and the transformations remain, which I am thankful for.

until the dawn appears

mpjdawn

I’ve been listening to Matthew Perryman Jones on repeat for days.  There’s something so soothing about his voice, and his lyrics speak straight to my heart.  This one song resounds in my mind long after I’ve turned the music off.  The first two verses of Until the Dawn Appears reflect the past year or more of my life, but the song reminds me that the struggle isn’t the end result.  There are far better eternal days ahead than the fleeting ones of the past, and that truth brings hope in light of worldly despair.  I mean, how awesome is it to know that we are justified by our faith in Christ and promised life eternal, free of sorrow and tears?  “And my heart will hang on until that dawn appears.”

Check out the song and tell me what you think.  I’m thinking about making another print for the last few lines of the song, but I thought I’d go ahead and put this one out there.

I’ve been turning up the stones in my own discontent,
And I’m finding out where all my hidden sorrows went.
They’ve been laying there for years;
I kept them out of view,
But it’s time I dust you off and take a good look at you.
Oh, how long?
Oh, how long?
Well it’s easier to clench your fists and grind your teeth
Than to look into the sadness that lives underneath.
Well you can kill off all those feelings,
They’ll just turn to ghosts;
They’ll take over your house and become the host.
Oh, how long?
Oh, how long?
Well a man of sorrows walked the shores of Galilee,
And his eyes were cast with joy towards the Crystal Sea.
Well the shadows will be gone and all these bitter tears,
And my heart will hang on that until the dawn appears.
Oh, how long?
Oh, how long?
Oh, you, you won’t let me go….