[Originally published March 3, 2016. Deserving of an edited “reboot” for so many reasons…]
When contemplating today’s post, I knew it would be challenging for me to write. It was a year ago yesterday my 34 year old sister lost her courageous battle with cancer. FYI: I don’t like the word “lost” in that sentence. Nicole has always been beautiful and brave. Now, though, I fully trust that she has a far better eternal perspective than any of us here. That doesn’t equate to “losing” to me.
That said, knowing the emotional hurdle necessary to pen any post about anything lesser (which includes all that small stuff we still seem to sweat and the mole hills we make into mountains), I pulled out last year’s post, entitled “That’s My Sister” — a heartfelt tribute to Nicole in how she sharpened me and many… encouraging us to focus on what’s most important… on powerfully showing by example how deeply our faith matters… and on how we can hold onto hope regardless of circumstance.
I get that such is easier said than done. It also would have been easier for me to run with the previously penned post.
Yesterday morning, however, I noticed something. Alone in my quietness — wrestling with the weight and awareness accompanying this sobering anniversary — I heard a single sound…
I heard a bird outside, singing.
Then it donned on me… I know it takes time to grieve — lots of time. And I’m not certain my heart will ever fully be the same; it’s not. But I never want the pain on this planet to keep me from hearing the bird outside, singing.
I believe that those who’ve faithfully gone before us — those who now have that unprecedented, unspeakable, unparalleled, eternal perspective — would encourage us to quit sweating the small stuff… to quit getting bogged down in the daily crud of life that causes us to be so demanding and self-focused… to quit dividing us… to quit encouraging the shouting and the hating and the looking down on someone… to quit being so awful to one another. I believe they would instead encourage us to…
Keep the focus on what’s most important…
Grapple with your faith…
Come near to God…
Hold onto hope…
And never be so bogged down with the messiness of life that we miss the bird outside, singing.
Nicole, too, had a blog in which she sometimes chronicled her experience. In one of her final posts, she shared the following:
“As this journey may be tough for me, I know that many others are struggling with something in their life and I just ask that you take a moment and say a prayer for them. This weighs heavy on my heart, feeling like I have it pretty easy compared to so many others out there…”
Crazy, that from her vantage point, she was still so focused on others. Not self.
“That being said, I would like to share……
‘… I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold
And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding
God’s plan from the start
For this world and your heart
Has been to show His glory and His grace
Forever revealing the depth and the beauty of
His unfailing Love
And the story has only begun…’ ”
I hear her voice. I hear her hope. I also believe with all the wisdom Nicole has now she would encourage us to not get lost in the current events, emotions, and circumstances that threaten to pierce our peace; she would encourage us to trust God… and to always hear those birds…
With truth in my tears…