Why? is the Wrong Question

There are so many things happening right now that make me want to ask “Why?”

  • Global threat of nuclear war from North Korea
  • National hurricanes and forest fires
  • A family in my community lost their five daughters in a house fire
  • A friend had to put down their beloved dog

All these things and so many more can cause me to look to heaven and ask “WHY?” It’s fine to ask why, it’s almost involuntary.

Why is the wrong question. It’s a distraction. It is disempowering.

Why keeps us stuck when we don’t get an answer. And when we do.

When we don’t get an answer we stay stuck:

  • trying to reason it out
  • in bitterness over not getting an answer
  • using mental energy of continuing to ask

When we do get an answer we can:

  • go back to being comfortable
  • go back to not thinking about it anymore.

While we may feel comfortable we’re still stuck.

God did not design us to stay comfortable. He wants us to be at rest in Him not comfortable in our own reasoning. Resting in Him is always on the move expanding His Kingdom, spreading peace, hope, and love.

I can and do ask why. If there isn’t something I can do different then I move on to the next question.

The better question is “What do I do now?”

  • Pray for North Korea to be saved. God wants none to be lost. Agree with Him that Kim Jong-un can be saved and lead his nation to salvation in Jesus Christ.
  • Pray, give, help. God has different answers for each one according to their gifts and situation.
  • Believe in the goodness of God. Ask for ways to shine His light in the darkness.

Do you ask “why” when hard things come?

Try asking “What do I do now?” How different does it feel?

Dealing with the Unexpected

This week marked 23 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart.

In the past year, we’ve commented many times about life not being what we expected. This week we reflected on more ways life has not been what we expected. We concluded that in many ways we didn’t even know what we expected and in other ways what we expected was not to be.

Some unexpected things brought joy.
  • Having a baby in our 40’s when we had three teens
  • Meeting strangers who become family in the grocery store
  • People faithfully giving and supporting us
  • Immediate deep connections with new friends
  • Opportunities to serve as a family
We concluded we did expect:
  • to do it together – whatever life brought our way. Here we are 23 years down the road more connected and committed than ever.
  • to love our kids and have lasting relationships with them.
  • to raise responsible adults. While we have not arrived it would appear we’re on the right track.
  • God to be faithful and He has.
Unmet expectations can derail us.

They open opportunity to accuse God or people. They also open opportunity for grief and growth.

  • Losing a son
  • Getting carbon monoxide poisoning
  • A failed business through no fault of our own
  • Strained relationships
  • Projects taking years longer than planned

Unmet expectations are really a fork in the road, a decision point.

Will we stay disappointed, hurt, or grow bitter? Or will we run to Father God with our hurts, confusion, and questions?

Growing bitter imprisons us.

Running to God opens the door for healing, grace, and new perspective.

What unexpected things has life brought your way?

When you have unmet expectations which path do you take?

My Life April


This is rough, raw. I wonder whether to post or to polish, perhaps neither.
Obviously I am risking posting, and no I didn’t polish.

Do you have a child you’ve never seen?
I do. Well never seen outside of glimpses of heaven.
No tickling toes, no rubbing noses. We only saw his tiny frame after it had been abandon for heaven by his spirit.
It has been 10 years. 10 years ago I would have recently discovered my fourth pregnancy. 10 years of Mother’s Day’s being very bittersweet.

Why am I writing today?
Because I saw him in a new way, another glimpse of heaven and it is wrecking me.

My life, at least the last 10 years could be told by songs. The song 10 years ago was Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman. I lived and breathed this song.

when I walk through the wilderness. . .
when I am found in the desert place. . .
When the darkness closes in. . .
You give and take away,
yet my heart will choose to say,
blessed be Your name.
Blessed be the Name of the Lord.
Blessed be the Name of the Lord.
~lyrics copyright by Matt Redman 2002

We sang it Sunday in church. First I thought of how the world may not be all as it should be but it is certainly brighter than when this was my song.

It happened at the end of the song.
Seeing Josiah.

I got his name driving home from the sonogram confiming his death. When I got home I had to see what Josiah meant. Names mean something to me. It means “Jehovah heals”. I couldn’t ask for a better name.

So, Sunday I saw him dancing. He was dancing a warrior dance, a dance for healing. I wept. I sobbed. I wanted to grab him and pull him close.
He had to keep dancing.
I must keep dancing.
Josiah Dances

When I told my husband I was weeping again. He has never seen him-his tiny frail body but not him. I didn’t realize the comfort I drew from my glimpses of heaven. My heart broke to realize he has no better picture of his dear son than his lifeless, tiny body. My glimpses of heaven have become even more precious.

It so happens this seasons song is Dance with Me by Chris DePrue.

I will dance.

Let the Wind Blow: Revisit and Update

Maybe it the season. Maybe it’s about dreaming.
I want to share this post again. The original portion was two years ago, updated a few months later.

A post about a storm in my life… (read the post by clicking the link below)
 Let the Wind Blow: I originally posted this in April. I really need the reminder today as the clean up continues. God is faithful, in him I put my trust. …

April 2013
The winds of that storm rarely gust anymore. A great measure of healing has come. Most of the big trees survived and are doing well, some we’re still loving and praying for recovery. I feel we’re in a long winter. It’s hard to tell about the flowers and the gardens. I long for spring. I long for big projects and improvements, but sense it will only be a season of cleaning, repairing, mending – being faithful in small things before larger things are revealed.

New winds are stirring. I pray for warm, encouraging south winds. I know there are cold, harsh north winds. This creates the whirlwind to transform me to His image.

While I long to see the end result I will choose to be content knowing I am on the Rock that will not be shaken though all else is shaken.

Processing a Dead Dream

What does processing a dead dream look like? The process needs the right tools and the right environment for healing. Dead dreams must be dealt with so we are no longer defined by them and so we don’t stink. I’m no expert but here’s what I’ve got so far.
1. Grieve.
2. Repent if needed.
3. Refocus on God. Remember God’s promises, they haven’t changed.
4. Seek wisdom.
5. If it was a dream from God ask for a resurrection. If not ask for a new dream.
Grieve. Every dream that dies is a loss, likely more than one. Going through the process of what we lost, or perceive we lost, can teach us a lot about ourselves, our faith, and our relationship with God. Grieving may reveal people we need to forgive – ourselves, others, and even God. It may also reveal places we were off track in which case we must…
Repent. Sometimes we go after God’s dreams our way, or in our time. I’ve often told my children doing the right thing at the wrong time is wrong. It’s true for us, too. We need to repent of going on our own schedule. Maybe it was entirely our dream. Then we need to repent of going our own way. We get back on track by…
Refocusing on God: Our identity, our worth, everything is in Him alone. Deeper understanding and believing of this truth will anchor us through our healing. He is faithful. He keeps his promises. Life will not be perfect, but He is. Praise Him with a truly grateful heart for the blessings you have, even when a dream has died.
Seek wisdom.God’s wisdom can reveal ways He is working even the death of your dream for your good and His glory. Dead dreams still speak to you; or rather Satan speaks for them. They accuse us, remind us of failure. They speak lies against the character of God and His promises. They make circumstances seem more real than the promises of God. Learn from your experiences with dead dreams.  True friends and God can give you wisdom for next time.
Part of processing a dead dream is to see which part of it was God’s. Maybe God’s part of the dream was the mission and the vehicle was or own thinking.
The process of dealing with disappointment, discouragement and disillusionment is to replace them -one of the great mysteries of the Kingdom. We trace disappointment for God’s appointment. We trade discouragement for God’s courage. We trade disillusionment for God’s hope and purpose. I’ll write about how to do that next week.
I’d love to hear how you have dealt with your dead dreams.

For Me

May is a hard time for me. Mother’s Day is now bittersweet. When a child loses their parents they are an orphan. When a mother loses her child she is still a mother. I learned I lost Josiah, my fourth child, shortly after Mother’s Day 2003.

I had to go to the hospital on the 22nd. My body was as much in denial as I was in disbelief

All last week I kept thinking of an appropriate tribute. “I want to do something for him.” 

Yesterday, the 22nd, I finally came to the honest realization I wanted to do something for me.

There is nothing I can do for him, in that is the sweetness. He has no needs or wants, no pain or struggles.

I am the one with needs and wants. I want someone to understand. I want someone to know I am missing Josiah. I want others to know I see the missing part they don’t even know exists, almost every day. My quiver is not quite full, and never will be while bound in this earthen vessel.

I can do nothing for Josiah, but honor him.
His name means Jehovah heals. So I will work to rest in and embrace Jehovah’s healing. It is not the way I would have chosen, but God will continue to redeem Josiah’s death for my good and His glory.

The bitter fades and the sweet grows every year.

Josiah is in my cloud of witnesses and I hope to make him proud.

So this is for me. I love you son.

Always Remember

How do we redeem our loss?
 Where is there peace in our grief?
 How do we find comfort and hope?
May the God of all comfort
be your hope and peace.
Only He can redeem our grief. His comfort brings hope and peace

When we lost our unborn son in May of 2003 we were given many precious gifts. As I try to simplify my life and reduce the things in my home I have had to let most of them go. It’s hard for me to part with gifts of love. It’s also hard to have things around that may cause visitors to wonder questions they don’t know how to ask. One gift I have kept is a small wooden paddle with a lighthouse and Peace. We know it is in honor of Josiah, to others it is a decoration in our bathroom. It reminds me of all the love poured out on our family.

I created this gift for my brother and his family. I hope it will do the same for them.

More of Letting Go

Ann Voskamp shared this in her weekend links.
Letting go of the life I had planned. 
Letting go of dreams unfulfilled. 
Letting go of the hurt, confusion and disappointment.
Holding to the one who holds my future. 
Holding to Father God. 
Holding to the one who died for me. 
Holding to Jesus. 
Holding to the one who lives with in me. 
Holding to Holy Spirit.
Waiting for the life He has for me.

Interview with Author Sherry Riffle

 After reading Sherry’s book Where did Mommy Go? I wanted to know more about her and her book. I invited Sherry to share her thoughts here.

Tell us about yourself

I am just a small town girl who loves Christ. He is my EVERYTHING! I was born and raised in a rural area in southeast Ohio situated along the beautiful Ohio River. I married my high school sweetheart and have been happily married for 20 years. I have 5 children in which we have adopted 4. I am a HUGE advocate for adoption through foster care. Every child deserves a loving home!

What is the story behind Where Did Mommy Go?

On June 3, 1999, I awoke to news that my only sister had been killed in a car accident. At the young age of 23, she left behind a very scared and confused little boy. He was only 6 years old.

My husband and I took him into our home and tried to help slowly patch the broken pieces of his life back together. Each time that he would ask questions, I added to his confusion by giving him half-truths. In the mist of my own grief, I realized that he was so innocent about death. I was the one that was uncomfortable talking about it. I knew he needed answers but I didn’t know how to answer him. 

One evening I sat down and wrote this story for him. I believe this story to be divinely given to help him understand and heal. I wanted a story where he would be able to associate without being associated. I wrote it to be real with Sarah speaking as a child would speak with broken and improper English. He loved it! It answered many of his unanswered questions and helped him to move on with life.

This story sat in my basement for approximately 10 years then I felt a push to send it to a publisher. This past spring, my story was released to the public. Little did I know that God would take this tragedy and turn it into a tool to help not only my new son but other children as well.

What has been helpful to your family in times of loss?

Prayer has been essential to getting us through our time of grief. I feel at times that we weren’t in control but Christ cradled and carried us through those overwhelming times. He sheltered us when it was too much to bear and then gave us peace. Christ is with us always!

How do you teach children to accept comfort from Jesus?

I believe that if you teach children to pray then they will open themselves up to an intimate relationship with Christ. He is always there for us and prayer is a direct way to communicate with him. Something so simple yet so powerful!

Have you written other books?

I have written a total of five children’s books. Each one was created with a specific purpose in mind and has morals woven into the story. Where Did Mommy Go was my second story and the only one that has been submitted and published. I have started a biography about adopting through foster care in the US. At this time, it is several months from being finished. 

Can you tell me more about your passion for adoption through foster care?

We knew when Christ placed adoption on our hearts that we wanted the kids that “no one wanted”…the so called “damaged kids”. All kids deserve a home! I would hear people talk about wanting to adopt from other countries. That is great but we can’t forget God’s babies that are here. All they want is for someone to spend some time with them and love them.

Every step of getting set up for adoption through foster care was so easy. God walked with us in every step. After we received our homestudy, we submitted for our daughter. Within a couple months, we received word from her case worker of our match. God worked so fast! That was the first of our four adoptions. We probably would have adopted more but we ran out of room in our house and car.

If I ever have a hand at leading one person in the direction of adoption through foster care, I know that I have done the will of my Savior. I will rejoice because a family is a special gift. If God has placed it on your heart to adopt, please contact your local Department of Job and Family Services to take your first step in adopting through foster care.

How do people get Where Did Mommy Go? Where Did Mommy Go is available at numerous websites including www.wheredidmommygo.com , www.Amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com and www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-61739-720-2

Contact Sherry: wheredidmommygo@yahoo.com

My post about Where Did Mommy Go?

Where Did Mommy Go? Book Review

Where Did Mommy Go? 
by Sherry L. Riffle

After reading the book with my children I asked what they thought. They said:

I like it because it talks about heaven in a way kids can understand. I like the pictures. It teaches to not be just sad when someone dies because they are going to heaven. It’s okay to be happy. I liked the illustrations. I could relate to the little girl because I lost my Grampa.

Death is a hard concept for children to understand. To make matters worse the adults in their life are often too busy or so involved in their own grief they don’t take the time to find out what the children’s questions are.

This summer my children lost their Grandfather. We lost a mentor and friend.  It’s hard to deal with the emotions. The ups and downs.

Where Did Mommy Go?is a good reminder to slow down and get my children’s perspective on what has happened and what they are struggling with.
Sherry Riffle shares wonderfully how the things adults say make no sense to children. In trying to get ourselves off the hook with tough questions we can cause more confusion for our children.

Jesus is always our comfort. Loss is a time to model and teach our children to find comfort in him.

My one caution would be to be very sure your children understand God requires us to accept his gift of salvation. People do not simply go to heaven when they die, no matter what. For young ones this can be as simple as ABC. Admit we are sinners in need of a Savior. Believe Jesus did all that was required for us to be right with God. Confess Jesus as Lord.

If, or when, your family goes through loss Where Did Mommy Go? may be a helpful reminder and discussion starter for you.  

Tomorrow I’ll share an interview with Sherry.

Contact Sherry: wheredidmommygo@yahoo.com

Where Did Mommy Go is available at numerous websites including www.wheredidmommygo.com , www.Amazon.comwww.barnesandnoble.com and www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-61739-720-2