Godwink

Heaven

 

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Yesterday I left work mid-day and headed home.  The backroads on my drive were quiet with hardly any traffic and for some reason I decided to pull over at the site where Kenzie had her accident.  I pass the site two or more times every single day and seldom pull over there.  The only other time that I can recall pulling over in my car was on New Years’ Eve a few years ago.  That New Years’ Eve I sat in the dark and considered the year behind me and wondered about the year ahead of me. I talked to Makenzie and I prayed to God.   Anyway yesterday I sat there in the quiet and listened to the wind.  It made me think about that cold blustery windy January morning when Kenz lost control of her car.  I sat there and wondered what might have gone through her mind those final moments. Did her life experiences flash before her at lightening speed?  Did she have any thoughts of heaven?  Or did she just feel fear? I have heard that people when faced with imminent death see a bright distant light and are captivated by it sometimes causing their spirit to head for it.  Makenzie always liked watching shows about this and watched one with her boyfriend the night before her accident.  I believe the program was called “Heading For the Light”. I always felt that Kenzie would be so intrigued that she would head for that great light if placed in that circumstance.  She would hope to see heaven in all its glory!

The thought of Heaven holds so much promise for me and we taught our children the same based on what we know Biblically about heaven.  I understand that in heaven there will be no illness, no pain and no tears.  It is written that we will all have perfect physical bodies although I am not sure if our physical bodies will be as we know them now.  We are told that in God’s house there are many mansions. I suppose we all have our own ideas of what heaven looks like.  I visualize amazing gardens and to see the Tree of Life first hand. Wow!

 

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So why all this talk of heaven? There have been a few deaths in our community this past week and I hope that anyone who may read my blog will be reassured of the promise that we have in heaven. God has promised that whoever truly believes in Jesus as savior, their place is reserved in heaven for eternity.

John 3:16

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For those who are grieving the loss of someone, I want to suggest that you try to flip your emotions, with the understanding that we WILL see them again and what a reunion it will be! To think that our loved ones will no longer suffer and will be in a better place than we can begin to imagine is good news.  Trust God with your heart and soul giving your grief over to Him to manage.  I hope you can begin to live your life with eyes and heart wide open!  The Godwinks are there for you.

From: Letters to Heaven

SCORE:  GOD ONE,

CANCER ZERO

           Hearts on earth say in the course,

           of a joyful experience,    

           “I don’t want this to ever end.”  But it invariably does.

           The hearts of those in heaven say, 

           “I want this to go on forever.”

           And it will.  There can be no better news than this.

J.I. Packer

In loving memory of Tim O’llari .  God is good.

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I’m Alive

Songs received as Godwinks are precious. Because I’m a  writer, words are such an important vessel to be used in communicating. Words can bless but also can hurt. I remember my husband always impressing upon our children “be careful what you say because you can’t take words back”. There is so much truth in that.

This past week I had the good(e) fortune of sharing Kenzie’s story at the Salisbury Library.  In conjunction with the book talk, I sometimes like to incorporate information about organ donation as I’m a volunteer for New England Organ Bank. The two seem to go hand in hand. Each time I share at one of these events,, I try to invite a guest speaker, an organ recipient, so that they can share their story and perspective as their’s is different than mine. They got another chance at life but then I guess that it would be important to add here that in some ways I did too. If Kenzie had not given her gifts, her story would have ended when she left us, but as I have suggested in my book, her gifts have given us an additional most extraordinary chapter to her life as we see first hand how her gifts have blessed so many.

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So at the suggestion of Jenn at New England Organ Bank, I contacted David who is also a volunteer. David is a double recipient of a liver and a kidney. His story is compelling and what is so neat is that he too has Godwink stories of his own to share as he contintues to realize God’s provision in his life with the little Godwinks; the little reminders of his donor, Kevin. One really resonated with my heart and so with David’s permission and blessing I have decided to share it here.

During the book talk event David shared with us that he had always had a dream of going to the Grand Canyon but due to his dibilitating illness never had the chance to go. After his double transplant and recovery, his parents gave he and his wife the gift of a trip to the Grand Canyon. David also shared that one of his favorite musicians is Dave Matthews and that he learned later on that his donor also loved Dave Matthews’ music. When David and his wife got on the plane to take their trip to the Grand Canyon, David plugged in his earbuds and the song that he heard first was a song sung by Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews. The song’s title: “I’m Alive and Well”. Wow! What a perfect Godwink! I wanted to share a few of the lyrics here and hope you will find and listen to the full version.

I’m Alive and Well, Kenny Chesney, Dave Matthews

It’d be easy to add up all the pain
And all the dreams you sat and watched go up in flames
Dwell on the wreckage as it smolders in the rain
But not me, I’m alive
And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathin’ in and out’s a blessing can’t you see
Today’s the first day of the rest of my life
And I’m alive and well, I’m alive and well
(Dave Matthews)
Stars are dancin’ on the water here tonight
It’s good for the soul when there’s not a soul in sight
This boat has caught its wind and brought me back to life
Now I’m alive and well

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I remember several years ago attending a Donors’ appreciation banquet given by New England Organ Bank and Kenzie was honored. Makenzie’s bestie Kayla along with friends Yona and Pam went with me. It was a nice event but it placed that all too familiar lump in my throat as I saw her name with picture, overhead on the digital presentation accompanied by music. “Why my daughter”? Words articulated by me all too often in those first years, and the same words thought daily even now in the sixth year following. My husband then would try to console me as he hugged me and he whispered in my ear “why anyone’s daughter”? Again, so much truth in that. So, as we drove home from the banquet, Kayla, Yona, Pam and myself, we reminisced about Kenzie. Pam started to listen to the lyrics of an unfamiliar song playing on the radio and “shhh ed” us to listen in as well. Although I cannot recall the song, the lyrics spoke to all of us in that it was telling us not to be sad because “I’m alive”. Certainly a Godwink just when we needed it.

I want to propose that you listen intently to the lyrics of the songs that you hear, especially when you need encouragement. The Godwinks are there for us if we live our lives with eyes and heart wide open.

Leaving you with this scripture verse and also a favorite child’s song:

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And the love comes a tumbling down…..

SALT LIFE

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As I read my daily ten pages of a good book, I am prompted to write here about the book that I am reading. But first I need to tell about how I first was introduced to it as it has a significant place in my story.

Traveling back to that painful weekend of January 2010, I remember a walk that my husband and I took down that empty hospital corridor. .As we frequented and paced that hallway and waited to hear of any improvements in Kenzie’s critical condition, Bob turned and said to me: “if you want to get involved in that small group now, I’ll go with you”. What he was referring to was that I had been pestering him for over a year to sign up for a small group within our church. Small groups are groups formed of 8-12 people who meet bi- weekly for social and spiritual connection. I had always wanted to get to know better the people with whom I attend church, as we share our faith, our common belief, and worship together weekly. To just smile and ask “how are you” and follow it up with ” have a great week” just didn’t feel like enough. For Bob, it was different, and this was asking a lot! He was not as motivated to spend time with strangers getting to know them better as this meant revealing his personal side too. Maybe it’s a guy thing, but I made a mental note as we walked that I would take him up on his offer.

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Losing Kenzie was devastating and talking about it, although I was encouraged to do so, was far more difficult in the beginning, than it is for me now. So our associate pastor Ron, arranged participation for us in a small group, a group of couples, hand picked to align with our interests as well as helping us find the emotional support that we needed. It took us nine months ( my fault) to finally attend one of their get togethers as I was trapped or stuck with not wanting to share with others, never mind strangers this personal journey of grief that I was on. Retrospectively I now wish we had connected sooner. This small group was a collection of diverse Christian friends to include a physician, physical therapist, police officer, law student, grandmother, nurse, teacher to mention some. These new friends were compassionate, insightful, intelligent, funny and filled with the joy and the love of Christ. What a blessing.

When we joined the group they were reviewing and discussing a video series based on the book that I am now reading entitled: ” If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat” written by: John Ortberg. It was interesting to hear others’ perspectives. We talked about those talents that we have but are reluctant or even fearful to use, in the capacity that we feel God might be calling us.  Perhaps this was all part of God’s perfect plan, as He interlocked the pieces of the puzzle to the journey that I was taking.   He was using these new connections and experiences with this small group of believers with whom Bob and I were now sharing every other Friday evening. I was in my boat and needed to get out. What I mean here is that I needed to let people into my life, as I shared our story, in order to let go of the sorrow and eventually find the joy.

So I recently found this book from which the video series was created and purchased it. What an excellent read! I wanted to share a short paragraph here by Author John Ortberg:

“I want to ask you to exercise your imagination for a moment. Imagine that your life is over, and you are led to a small room. There are two chairs in the room, one for you and one for God ( who gets a very large chair), and there’s a VCR. God puts a tape into the machine. It has your name on it and is labeled What Might Have Been.
Imagine watching all that God might have done with your life if you had let Him”.

This summer I have been seeing a bumpersticker often which reads: “SALT LIFE”. It reminds me of a sermon I once listened to about “our saltiness”. The scripture verse was: Matthew 5 :13-16 from NIV
Salt and Light
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The sermon message included how salt is used as a seasoning and a preservative and of how important an ingredient it is in this world. The question raised: In our Christian walk, how are we using our salt ( seasoning? preservative?) in our lives and in the lives of others? So I ask myself this question, have I lost my saltiness ? Is my salt shaker closed or am I using it sparingly or abundantly to season the world. And am I hiding my light or shining it bright to share the light with others?

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As I continue to read this book about getting out of the boat and walking on water, I am struct by the notion that yes, I have gotten out of my boat since with God’s help, I took a leap of faith and started sharing our story; Makenzie’s story. Although many people like my style of writing, some people have uttered words to me of surprise, chagrin and even disapproval of the fact that I share something so personal; my innermost thoughts and deepest emotions. All that I can say is that this is where it gets REAL for me. To circumvent my feelings and only share what might be considered “politically” correct or not emotionally committed, would not be allowing God to use my “gift or talent” in His mightiest capacity. Only God knows how he will bless this blog and our book.

Hoping that you will choose to  use your own saltiness as you live out your greatest potential in life. Prayerfully consider how your gifts and talents can be used to better the world, and just get out of that boat and try walking on water. And in the end when you are sitting in that viewing room and God takes and places your DVD in His player, you will feel satisfaction and jubilation. The DVD that holds your name will be entitled “A Salt Life, Water Walking at It’s Finest”.

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“WOW”

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Last week I was priviledged to be a guest on a weekly Podcast called “WOW Tuesday”.  The weekly podcast is on radio station WSKB Community Radio and is physically located at Westfield State University.  I had the pleasure of meeting the show host, Bob Plasse, at the Westfeild Articulture event this past spring.  As we talked and I shared Makenzie’s story with him, he became fascinated with her story which is now our book “Wish You a Goode Journey”.  Being invited to be a part of his show was exciting as this was my first experience in this capacity and he and the other guys there in the DJ booth made me feel right at home.  This after I was trapped in their elevator for the longest four to five minutes as I rode up to their office on the third floor.  I wished he had warned me that the elevator was tortoise slow as my panic set in when the elevator did not move and the doors would not open!  I was not only worried about arriving late for a live broadcast where I was the guest speaker but also that I might not make it out of that elevator.  After I pressed all of the bells and alarms and no one answered, I simply bowed my head and prayed. The elevator doors opened.   “WOW“!  Why didn’t I just pray first?  Why is prayer the final action for some of us when we figure out we can’t do it alone?

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Bob Plasse prepared well for the show.  He had read the book and had dog-eared readied many of its pages and also selected several wonderful songs to play during the breaks that tied into our topic.  The first song was a jazz hit called ” It’s A Good Day”. So appropriate and an energized tune for this our 7:00 a.m. meeting.  He also played for Makenzie,  the Taylor Swift song “Love Story” as it was a song that I wrote a story about in the book.  (Kenzie named her car Romeo because of that song).  Bob was so easy to chat with and he was genuine in discussing with me my journey after losing our daughter, sister, and friend.  Little did I know that his previous career had actually been in counseling and therapy.  He is perfect in his role on this show “WOW Tuesday”.

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Kenzie with her sweet ride “Romeo”

As Bob asked the questions,  it was clear to me that he really loved Kenzie’s story.  He earnestly asked all about her greatest gifts and about the recipients of her gifts. When we got to the subject of Godwinks he was very excited to share with me a couple of his own Godwinks received following the death of his dear mother.  (I encourage you to listen in on the link to the actual show which can be found on my media/events tab above).

So I found it surreal to come back to Westfield State, as only seven years ago I had been touring the campus with Kenzie and a few of her friends as we looked at Universities.  I had hoped that Kenz would decide on an in-state school to further her education but, the boyfriend won out and she had planned on attending Plymouth University where her boyfriend Matt also attended.  As I arrived last Tuesday morning for that radio interview and parked my car, several lingering thoughts entered my mind.  For one, I had wondered if I was actually re-tracing steps that my daughter and I had taken during that college tour on that summer day not so long ago.  Never in my imagination had a thought crossed my mind,  just seven years earlier, that I would be asked to be a guest on a radio show about a book that I had just written. And that the book would be about the journey that I was given after losing my beloved daughter!  Truly life is full of twists and turns, bumps and bruises and so much more!  And I think I probably have mentioned before that it is up to each of us, individually, how we respond to what life hurls at us.

This time of year always catches me off guard as college bound students head out for the next chapter in their lives. And I realize that I still have unresolved feelings, perhaps even feelings of resentment buried deep in my soul.  Sometimes I feel Makenzie was cheated out of life as she died so young. She was suppose to go to college and enjoy all the experiences that college life brings!  When I see the posts on social media of these parents who are crying over their empty nests, I just wish they realized how fortunate they are, as what they love is not lost, just changed.  But now I feel embarassed that I shared openly my negative emotion here, as this my blog page is suppose to be all inspiring and filled with positivity!  For a fleeting moment and thought,  I digress.

As he wound up the interview Bob played a final song that he had personally selected for me.  He told me it was a Godwink. He explained that he was searching for the perfect song and started looking first at music from his all time favorite Babs (Barbara Streisand).   “WOW”!  I got goosebumps as he shared this, as she is also one of my favorite artists.  Maybe it was a Godwink!  He then jumped ahead to tell me that the song that he found was actually recorded by Jason Gould, who is Barbara Streisand’s son.  The song is called “Hello” and below I share some of the lyrics.  It is an amazing song and I hope you will actually find it and listen to it as just reading the lyrics will not do it justice here:

Hello     by: Jason Gould

Morning and night will fall, I’m holding on and letting go                                                                                            Fragile and soft your face, Still it comes to me and fills this place, again                                                    

Chorus:  You’re on the other side, I know, but I still hear your voice behind the door                                                And I didn’t get to say my last goodbye, All I can say is hello, hello, hello

Together then torn apart, The winter storm, the flowers torn                                                                                   What will these days become for you have gone, and hours alone again

Chorus

I’ll meet you where the stars and the sun rise in the sky, Where the memories of our lives collide                       Where the time will run away, where the moment never dies, forever you and I

As I sat there with the headphones on and listened to this perfect song, I connected with it, tears streaming down my face, “WOW”,  I never realized til now, that the word hello can be just as sad as goodbye.

( to listen to the podcast interview, click on the link under the tab for Media/Events above and then find it under audio).

 

 

Club W.I.I.F.M.

 

These past few days I have been considering what I should write about and then this came to me: “Club W.I.I.F.M”. I have to confess that I have lived a lot of my life in “Club W.I.I.F.M.”. For those of you not acquainted with this term, the letters stand for “What’s In It For Me”.

I am not certain where my selfish behavior is manifested. Surely it is not from my upbringing, as my parents were selfless in the way they raised my sister and I. My dad worked all his life in a job that at times probably seemed thankless, to provide for his family, in giving us everything we needed, and desired. So, I am feeling grateful, however ashamed that I failed to thank him more. I remember specifically a summer when I was scheduled to go for two full weeks of summer camp. As my dad returned at the end of week two to pick me up and take me home, he saw the look on my face and the big tears as I said goodbye to all my camper friends who were staying for week three. My dad promptly arranged for a third week of camp for me and worked some serious overtime that week to pay for it. That is an example of sacrificial living . My mother also was a very giving person of her time, talent and possessions. I feel blessed that she taught me well with regard to the importance of charity.

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As a mature Christian (yes I am almost old), I do know that it is better to give than it is to receive as I have experienced the blessings when putting others first. Yet it is our human nature to look out for ourselves, unfortunately many times first and foremost. It bothers me that the world that we live in promotes “self” over serving others. I am convinced it is the root to many of the world’s problems, including my own. Christ didn’t live this way, but lived with a servant heart and attitude.

Can you think of someone in your life, past or present that you really admire? I bet one of their characteristics is sacrificial living as they serve(d) others. Several people come to my mind including the pastor who helped me with my book. He painstakingly read and re-read each edited version with enthusiasm. He referred to the book as his Joy Project. I know that “Wish You a Goode Journey” would not have been completed without his efforts. I also recall while visiting his church that a member of his congregation raised her hand during the service to ask if anyone could drive her to the airport in the very late night/ wee hours of the morning. Pastor Rick without hesitation, enthusiastically agreed to the task. (Surely, he would have rather slept). I am convinced that Pastor Rick Blaisdell is not a member of “Club W. I. I.F.M”.

Pastor Rick and I Toasting to Friendship and "Wish You a Goode Journey"

Pastor Rick and I Toasting to Friendship and “Wish You a Goode Journey”

Years ago I learned to say no to invitations that required my time, but I recognize now my need to freely say yes with enthusiasm, and more often! I don’t know about you, but I find it’s tough to manage my time efficiently, which for me is a necessity. I am focusing on this as an area in my life that needs work, a lot of work. I will also prayerfully ask for God’s help as I look deep to examine and discern my motives in the decisions that I make, big and small. (Thinking that this won’t be pretty).

When my children were small, I use to remind them to think about the feelings of others and to envision themselves as the other person with respect to how they would want to be treated. I believe both of my children learned compassion. Makenzie was very bold and defensive of anyone who was bullied. I am proud of the person she was.

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So I will leave you to ponder “Club W.I.I.F.M”. Are you a member? Maybe like me, it is time to submit your resignation.

1 Corinthians 10:24

Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.
Sent from my iPad

Act of Love- A SoulFest





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As I headed to “SoulFest” this past week, I took a wrong turn and wound up on 93 south headed in the opposite direction.   Only a few miles down the highway I saw the flashing blue lights  as I was being pulled over.  Busted!  The officer asked me if I knew why I was being pulled over and I answered that I might have been going a little too fast.  He smiled and told me that the aircraft above with radar had clocked me at 85 in that 65 MPH zone.  Ooops!! I concurred as I admitted that I was speeding, and I explained that I was trying to find my way to “SoulFest” and that I had taken a wrong turn and was frustrated trying to read the directions on my navigator.  I added that I realized that was no excuse! The officer asked for my license and registration as he proceeded to give me directions to get me turned around and headed in the correct direction.  He smiled and told me that he had just attended “SoulFest”the night before.  ( SoulFest is a Christian based four-day long  event which attracts attendees from many distant places.  People come to listen to a variety of Christian bands and artists and are able to also participate in workshops and seminars alike).

Anyway, off he went, back to his cruiser,  to verify my information as I sat nervously awaiting his decision.  When he returned he said “this deserves a $340 fine, however since I myself was just at “SoulFest” last night,  I am going to just give you a warning”.  I thanked him and handed him a 4 x 6 promotional card for my blog and my book and told him perhaps he may encounter someone sometime who might be needing either or both.  I minimally explained about Kenzie’s accident and of how good God has been to me through HIs Godwinks and that I considered it a Godwink that he (the officer), was the one that pulled me over.   He took the card from me as he said goodbye. I got to thinking about his giving  me a warning instead of a ticket and consider it was an act of love”, God’s grace granted to me through him.

So I was invited to “SoulFest” this week by my friend who works for an organization called Trading Hope.  My friend Jeanne asked if I could come help her sell the clothing and jewelry created by women of Africa and Haiiti for this ministry.  She offered to allow me to share Makenzie’s story and to sell my book “Wish You a Goode Journey”, Jeanne’s  “act of love” toward me I prayed about it as I drove there, knowing full well God already knew who He would place in my path. I received blessings as I engaged with so many people that came to our booth. There are many hurting people in this world, which may or may not be apparent by appearances.  As I shared our story, many people got real with me and exposed their thoughts and feelings as they shared their personal stories.  I met a very nice man who was there with his daughter.  He told me that he felt drawn to write a book, to tell his story of loss.  He told me that he had lost his 17 year old son as a result of a hunting accident, and he also shared about the immense guilt that he had experienced and the daily visions in his head that would continue to replay.  He explained that he would not have been able to go on had it not been for the grace of God releasing him from this burden of personal guilt.  I understood what he meant. As Kenzie’s mom I have replayed those moments in my head and asked myself what I should have or could have done differently to change the outcome.  The man then asked me if I had seen the wooden cross situated up at the main stage where the bands were playing. I had not.  He explained that during the four days of Soulfest, people go up to the cross and pray and they take a nail and a hammer and pound it into the cross as they give their “stuff” over to Christ for His intercession.  The man with his daughter purchased my book and invited me to visit the cross, which I did later on in the afternoon.

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It seemed symbolic and appropriate for me to place “Wish You a Goode Journey” at the cross as I reconcile that losing Kenzie was not due to anything that she nor I did.  It was an accident.  It has taken a very long time for me to dismiss my feelings of self appointed guilt; the notion that somehow I was responsible for her accident.  By surrendering my book at the cross, I am surrendering it to His will and His purpose and I can therefore claim His grace, His “Act of Love“.  As Christians we find redemption at the cross.  After pain, suffering and death to ourselves, we can find hope and new life in Christ.  We can truly love with our lives.

I received a picture text from my new friend later that evening as he had placed beautiful memorial flowers on the cross to honor the  lives of our loved ones.  How amazing.

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I experienced many things during my brief visit to Soulfest, and just as I was leaving, there was a woman at the exit of the grounds sharing her gift.  In front of a small crowd, she created  a beautiful chalk drawing.  I asked her if she had a favorite scripture or verse that inspired her artwork. She did not say so, but at the very end provided the title of the piece: “Act of Love“.

imageHer picture reminds me of how I’ve been carried through difficult times in my life. What a gift to be able to feel secure in the arms of Jesus, through His Act of Love“.

Walking on water, His agápē love

What a splendid morning at the seashore.  The water sparkling and calm as I sat out on the rocks mystified.  I remember as a kid my grandfather telling me that these waters connected with Europe in the horizon.  I use to daydream about who might be on the other side sitting similarly, they too,  wondering about who might be on the western side of the water.  My mind wandered to how truly small we are in this world, just a speck but considered so much more by our creator.  The thought of Christ “walking on water” has always intrigued me as I recalled the story of how Jesus told Peter to get out of the boat and to come and meet him as He walked on the sea ( and He didnt have a paddleboard).

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( from Matthew 14:22-31)

22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.

23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?  

I started thinking about my own faith and if I would have the courage to step out of the boat into the turbulent waters to meet Jesus as I trusted Him.   I would like to think that I would but then I recall so many times in my life where I have taken matters into my own hands and have failed miserably.

The word agápē has stuck with me this week.  I can’t explain it but knew that I had to write about it.  Every working day, I pass a church with a sign out front that has agápē in its title.  Not being familar with the term, I needed to look it up.  This is what I found for a definittion:  “It comes from the greek word agápē,  its verb from agapao and is used in the Bible defined as selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional love that is always”. (taken from compellingtruth.org).  Wikipedia’s definition is: ” love: the highest form of love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God”; “His agápē love”  Not to be confused with “phileo” love- brotherly love- agape embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends, that serves regardless of circumstance. Wow! That is immeasurable!

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So I was thinking about the love that I have for the most treasured people in my life and the love shown to me by my parents and then also the indescribable love that I feel for my children.  And of how this pales in comparison to the love that God has for me, ( and for you).  When circumstances of tragedy strike, it is a question that comes up often: ” where was God and His unwavering love in that”?  I am reminded many times  that He and “His agápē love”were smack dab in the middle of it as He walked on the turbulent waters, along side of me, hand outstretched asking me to meet Him in the midst of it and to trust Him as we were “walking on water” .  It is never easy to see His face and outstretched hand when we are struggling, treading water in unfamiliar many times terrible circumstances but, I believe He is there just waiting for us to call out. And if we search expectantly for His image we will find it, many times in people and places least expected and even retrospectively we may even see His image in ourselves.

And so I recall a moment in time when I honestly can say I experienced “His agápē love”.  It was not long after Kenzie passed.  My husband and I were in our family room watching a movie and my husband placed the movie on pause to take our dog Grace out for a quick walk.  As I sat there in that room, I looked around and remembered the very last evening that I spent with my daughter.  As I recalled the words and the laughter that we shared the tears started.  My tears became deep heaping sobs so deep, so much grief; just overwhelming despair.  The pain that was coming out of me sounded like nothing that I had heard before.  Gut wrenching grief.  All of a sudden I felt this immense feeling of love encompass me; “His agápē love” for me.  It was something that I can honestly say that I had never experienced before.  I felt immense love, deep love as it washed over me and through me.  I sat still as I didn’t want it to leave.  It was so powerful.  I believe that our heavenly Father feels what we feel and cares for us so deeply as He watches and waits for us to call on Him for mercy. Jesus is there with us with His outstretched hand “walking on water”.

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I wanted to share a favorite verse here about “His agápē love” for us:

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
—Ephesians 3:17-19

 

 

 

 

Sweet Caring Gesture



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SUNRISE OF HER SMILE

There are many summer mornings that I wake up to this sunrise. Instantaneously it makes me smile.  It was created by Kenzie years earlier, I think she was around the age of 14, and vacationing with Kayla’s family in Rhode Island.  They were staying with Kayla’s Aunt and Kenzie decided to give her this piece.  I never even knew it existed until after Kenzie left us.  Tricia  had had it framed and it was hanging in her office.  She asked me if I would like to have it.  I believe she has no idea how much I treasure this and her “Sweet Caring Gesture”.   It now hangs on the wall overlooking the foot of our bed at our summer camp. I love you to the moon and back, Kenzie.  What a glorious sunrise to wake up to; my daughters simple reminder of her pure energy and happiness.  A great way to start my day.

The thought to share about the act of caring kept revisiting me this week.  It started with a conversation that  I had  had on Sunday, with a little girl by the name of Abby.  Abby along with her mom and brother were passing by the camp as I was hosting yet another rock painting party.  I invited them to come paint a rock with us. I had met them a few weeks earlier at the playground when I was there with my grandson. Anyhow, as we sat and chatted I mentioned the idea of gifts and talents and asked Abby what she thought her gift was.  Was she given the gift of art or music or dance in her life? We all have been given a gift in life to be used to bless others.  Abby, my very wise for her years seven year old friend, did not have to think on this at all.  She told me she has the gift of caring for others.  Wow!  I did not expect her answer but followed it up with encouraging remarks about how important a gift that was and that the world needs more people like her to use their gift of caring for others with their “Sweet Caring Gestures”

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Later on in the week I received a tear-filled call from my awesome friend Pam.  Pam told me she missed me and expressed sorrow in allowing busy times to prolong our getting together this summer. Pam’s tears stemmed from her realization that there are monumental things that I will never get to experience with my daughter Makenzie. One, being shopping for college dorm stuff as her daughter Yona prepared to leave for her first year in college.  I have to add here that Pam’s intuition was spot on.  I explained to her that indeed one of my saddest memories was standing in a check-out line at Staples observing a college bound girl with her mom laughing as they unloaded their shopping cart of all sorts of dorm room treasures.  I had the biggest lump in my throat as I held back buckets of tears saved for my car.  My Murano became my sanctuary at times that first year.  So the intent of Pam’s call that morning was to invite me to go dorm room shopping with she and Yona.  What a “Sweet Caring Gesture”.  

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Another significant experience this past week occurred on Wednesday evening at my book signing event in Portsmouth. First, I had the pleasure of my friend Joanne there to share her story.  Joanne and I met at the Transplant Games of America in Houston two years ago.  She is a double lung recipient and has an amazing story.  What a “Sweet Caring Gesture”, to drive an hour and a half to support me and share about the importance of organ donation.  I also must mention how grateful I am to the friends that came out to support my book signing event.  They did this out of selflessness and care for me, their friend.  Also Thankyou to all who have purchased my book to support and encourage me emotionally on my journey. If we all could have friends like this, the world would be such a better place . I had pure delight in also receiving a very special Godwink that night.  My friend Lynda whom I met six years earlier attended and gave me a little handwritten note as she left.

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Lynda’s note said:  “Dear Marcy, I picked up your book to bring it. I read the back of the book and flipped through to see some pictures of Makenzie. And as I was thinking of her and you, this song came on -“MOM” by Meghan Trainer.  I think Makenzie wants you to hear it. It’s from her “Thankyou” album”.

What a cool Godwink as I had not heard of the song “Mom” by Meghan Trainer. Of course as soon as I got back home I had to check it out.  Here are some of the lyrics:

Mom”
(feat. Kelli Trainor)

You might have a mom, she might be the bomb
But ain’t nobody got a mom like mine
Her love’s ’til the end, she’s my best friend
Ain’t nobody got a mom like mine

See we go way back, oh, I remember
All the times that I cried, she made me feel better
She loving me, loving me, loving me, loving me, love
She love me like nobody else
I’m telling you, telling you, telling you, telling you all
She taught me how to love myself

You might have a mom, she might be the bomb
But ain’t nobody got a mom like mine
Her love’s ’til the end, she’s my best friend
Ain’t nobody got a mom like mine
Oh, how she loves me to the moon and back
That’s what she told me
Her love never ends, she’s my best friend
Ain’t nobody got a mom like mine

I was just wanted to call you to tell you I love you
Aww, I love you, too
I miss you already
Aww, that’s so sweet, what’s going on?
Just writing songs, my mom song
Aww, I love you to the moon and back
My heart hurts, I love you so much
I love you more
Her love’s ’til the end, she’s my best friend
Ain’t nobody got a mom like mine
Oh, how she loves me to the moon and back
That’s what she told me
Her love never ends, she’s my best friend
Ain’t nobody got a mom like mine
Ain’t nobody got a mom like mine
Baby, baby, ain’t nobody, no
Ain’t nobody got a mom like mine

What a “Sweet caring gesture” from my friend Lynda and my best friend, Kenz.  I love you to the moon and back Kenzie!.

 

 

 

 


 


A Choice to Rejoice

imageFor a Child in Heaven    

  By:  Betty W. Stoffel, John Knox Press

He ran lovingly to life,  Heart-wide, all joy abounding. Lifting love in fragile hands and hearts surrounding.

He ran lovingly to Christ, Arms wide, joy unconcealed, His weakness moved into God’s mighty strength, Forever healed.imageTo love with your life is to live Christ minded.  I am reminded of this often as I witness how some people respond to the strife in their lives. They make the “choice to rejoice”.  

This blog post is dedicated to my friends known and unknown to me, in an attempt to share how I survived the loss of our daughter, Makenzie.  A thought came to me that perhaps anything that I can share with regard to how to exist and actually thrive after losing a child might be of value to someone.

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Losing Makenzie was the most horrendous experience of my lifetime.  In a blink of an eye she was gone and her departure left a gaping whole in so many hearts.  The shattered moments turned into hours, days, weeks, months and now years.  She is missed so much.  There was initially the fear that she would be forgotten and I decided early on that that would not happen.  So I got busy with stuff.  Arranged a butterfly launch, got a butterfly tatoo, changed my license plate to a “Kenzie” plate too.  There was journaling, scrapbooking, establishing a memorial scholarship in her name, fundraising for the scholarship, and volunteering endeavors for New England Organ Bank and Compassion International.  Eventually to my surprise, a published book as well as this weekly blog that I now write. The truth of the matter is that all of the above were useful as components to keep me occupied and focused on the positive as well as to shield the saddness and void in my life.

Many people have asked me to reach out to others; to those parents who suddenly have found themselves stumbling along the same twisted path, following the death of their child.   Do I have the secret to surviving such unequivocal pain?  Yes, I do.  To lose a child is to lose the self that you once knew; changed forever.   But, faith in a loving God who sustains us is the reason to make the “choice to rejoice”. I admit that thoughts and emotions were  a part of my grief which included but were not limited to guilt, anger, doubt, depression and even at my lowest point a desire to quit life!   But I knew better. My life here is not my own, i belong to my creator.  To question why me or why my child is not a question that I have the right to ask.  There is tragedy abound!  This is not heaven, not even close. But, thankfully I realized that my daughter’s life was purposeful and so now is mine.  I have  come to my own personal conclusion that we are His masterpiece, each and every one of us. We are all here for a reason, to live purposefully as we are given the “choice to rejoice” in all things. 

If we allow Him, God will use us in His unique fashion, perhaps as a trajectory for others, as we become a part of their lives, their walk and their journey.   I have learned and grown so much in these past six years.  To say it was difficult is an understatement, but God is bigger and greater than any challenge we have.  I believe that  to honor the memory of our children, we should strive to be strong and courageous.  I know Makenzie is proud of me, To approach each day as a new day, with no expectations other than to get through the day living purposefully and in alignment with His will is my aspiration.  And, if I can help one individual or many to find their way, His way, this will be enough.

So this is for everyone:  whatever your trial or circumstance:   we all have the “choice to rejoice”. Just know that YOU can find the diamonds in the ashes if you look.

And in the end we will rejoice.

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Rejoice Always, Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances:  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessolonians. 16:18

Sharing another poem here by:                            Betty W. Stoffel,  John Knox Press

When sunlit skies fall full upon success,           When heart, in tune with life, is overflowing         When lips are free to laugh, and love to bless, These are the splendid moments of our knowing.

But there are other splendid moments too, No longer tip-toe tall, but on our knees, When in the darkness God’s own stars shine through, When, in fear’s blinding tears, faith sees;

When out of desolation and defeat,             God moves in upon our broken way,                 And weakness finds His strength more than complete, And pain finds courage to live another day.

His nearness, when the cup is overflowing,        Is even nearer as the soul is growing.

By:  Betty W.Stoffel, John Knox Press

The Luna Moth and a Radio Podcast

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I had the pleasure of podcast  interview the other day about “Wish You a Goode Journey” and Makenzie’s story.  The woman interviewing me had a Godwink just five minutes before the interview.  This luna moth          (pictured above) came calling on her at her kitchen window.  She told me that she felt like it had significance!  She explained that luna moths have a very short life expectancy ( like maybe a week at best once they emerge from their cocoon),   I told her about the significance of butterflies in our lives since Kenzie left us; sharing about the butterfly launch that we had had at their high school graduation in Makenzie’s memory.  A very fun memory that her friends shared with me was of a luna moth that showed up at their  graduation party that night and kept landing on these friends.  The kids even referred to it as Kenzie as they felt deep in their hearts that she was still with them and celebrating right along side of them.  With Kenzie there was never a dull moment and she still is the life of the party even now right before my podcast interview.

Pictured is Leah with the luna moth that was keeping everyone entertained at the graduation party.... " life is Goode"

Pictured is Leah with the luna moth that was keeping everyone entertained at the graduation party….
” life is Goode”

I am including a link to the podcast where Kenzie’s story about her accident and some of the beautiful experiences in the days and years following are shared along with a couple of the fun Godwinks.

Marcy Robitaille Speaks Up About Her Book and ‘Godwinks’

Hoping you may be intrigued enough now to get a copy of Wish You a Goode Journey … My biggest why in this life …. sharing my daughter’s story, blessing others as I have been blessed.