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Blades of Grass – Ramblings on the Brevity of Life

“…All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of men as the flower of grass; the grass dried, and its flower fell out, but the Word of the Lord remains forever.” (I Peter 1:24)

It’s been a full week in my town. Lots of people here are grieving over lives ended too soon. It has brought up quite a lot in me and it’s been a week of some restless nights. I’m wrestling with the Lord over acceptance of some things. Here are some of my Ramblings on the Brevity of Life.

I didn’t know her. Her name was Ella. She was a sweet adolescent girl who loved to ride horses. From what I understand, she was incredibly spirited and talented and was getting ready for a riding competition. She was in the field with her horse. It spooked and fell on her. She fought and fought through surgery and was rushed to a children’s hospital where every valiant effort was made to save her life. She fought and fought until her parents finally said, “It’s okay, Ella. You go and be with your granna and pawpaw…” In…Heaven. And she gave up the fight. She should not have survived the horrific injuries she sustained. Life was forever changed for her family and loved ones. Hers is a story of a little cow girl with blue eyes and blond hair that left a legacy of courage and love for those she left behind. But there is also a trail of tears. Here’s a photo of beautiful Ella.

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And I didn’t know him either. On the same day that Ella passed, a young 22 year old man named Danny succumbed to injuries he sustained while riding a skateboard at a university. Riding a skateboard home from class was an ordinary thing. He was hit by a car. Again, life was forever changed by death for so many. My older sons knew him and said he was just a nice kid. Unassuming and kind to everyone. He fought for two days, but his parents again, had to make the decision to know that it was time to let him go. He would not survive the injuries. They let him go the same day that Ella died, the same day that I was finishing up this book, “Heaven is for Real.” The hope of Heaven and the reality of such a place, or state, was one of the only things that brought comfort to those he left behind. Here’s a photo of Danny.

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I did not even know these two courageous souls. But something about it all rocked me to the core. It brought up so many flashbacks of children lost, and of the year that we had.

For my family, October 2012 would be a month we will never forget. October 25th, 1 a.m.: My son Josh is in a car accident. He was going too fast around a curve, lost control, and the car flipped at least 6 times. At least. His car topped a tree 15 feet up in the air, and then came crashing down to land on a tree. He walked away. He had bruised ribs and deep lacerations, but HE WALKED away from this horrific accident. His uncle said the fact that the car seat flipped back was the only thing that saved him. And that was part of the story. I believe God spared him. Here’s a photo of the car after his accident. Oh, and that’s Josh, ALIVE, shaken up, but well for the most part.

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Josh was out of town when this happened. Our family was traumatized but so thankful Josh was okay. I couldn’t wait to see him and planned to leave early Saturday morning to make the trip to see him. It was Friday, October 26 th at about 1:30 p.m. I was teaching school and I can remember thinking, “I can make it through this next class, then I’ll go home, rest (hadn’t had any of that the night before), and travel to see Josh on Saturday morning. That trip never occurred, because just after my last class of the day had begun, the phone rang. A kind secretary of my son’s school let me know that I had to get to the hospital as soon as possible. Something terrible had happened to Tanner. I didn’t even ask questions. I heard the urgency. I left, and met a dear friend in the hallway and asked her to pray. She prayed. And soon a whole community would rally to pray and lift Tanner up.

Nothing could have prepared me for the state in which I saw Tanner. He had suffered cardiac arrest and had not had a heartbeat for close to 5 minutes. When they revived him, they could not stop the seizures. When he was airlifted to the Children’s Hospital (the same one where little Ella had passed), his heart stopped beating again. There are a million beautiful details of God’s provision of this story, but now is not the time for it. He was in a coma for three days, and survived. He survived. And that was an incredible gift! I knew to celebrate that gift and feel as though I try to each and every day. This photo was taken of Tanner after he was out of the coma, after so many tubes and machines had been removed.

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So, our family had dealt with some serious physical traumas in a short period of time. Fast forward a few months to February, and we had yet another emergency to face. My daughter was on her way home from a night class. She came around a curve and swerved to miss something. Turns out, it was four deer that were running across a road. A man driving the other way saw them and stopped to call for help. Hope flipped the car and landed upside down. She called, hysterical, and when we drove up, she was covered with blood and her face was swelling terribly. People would not have recognized this beautiful girl. But she was alive. She was spared. We were spared. After a number of stitches, and instructions on how to handle the wounds, she came home and recuperated for a month. Here’s a picture of her car.

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Grief grips. So does fear. When I heard about the deaths of these two precious lives, Ella and Danny, in one day, I was experiencing a mixture of both fear and grief. It showered me like a downpour of emotions, and I couldn’t shake it. I didn’t even know these precious kids, but their lives ending tapped into something deep in me. I think I had unfinished business with processing all that we had been through in the past year. So often as moms, we deal with trauma and go in the caretaker, survival mode, and that overshadows our ability to really come to grips with the emotional side of it all. Well, the deaths of these two precious people brought up all the emotions that I had put by the wayside. I was feeling fear, grief, and…..guilt? Yes, it was so in there. Guilt that my children survived and that two other moms had lost theirs. I know all the mental arguments and rationalizations that there was no need to feel guilt. But I still felt it.

It brought a grief up in me that just washed over me and felt all-consuming. And again, I didn’t even know them.I found that the tears would flow as I was driving down the road, or washing dishes, or sweeping the deck. Unexpected showers of grief kept coming in waves. And I let myself grieve…not just over these children and families, but over the fact that any given moment, any given day, we could breathe our last. I prayed for the families and friends letting go of their loved ones. I thanked God for the life that we have. And once again, I came face to face with the fact that is both terrifying and beautiful: we are here but for a short time, and no one knows when their last day will come.

So here’s the thing. We are but a vapor, a blade of grass, dust in the wind. We are incredibly significant, and incredibly small all at the same time. Our moments matter. They so matter. We are not to live in fear, but to face each day with faith to make an impact and love well. We don’t know how long we or someone else has. Moments Matter. The father of little Ella wrote a moving letter. He ended by saying to be sure to tell others you love them. Life is short and can be forever changed in an instant. Fearing would only rob us of our moments. Loving well, keeping short accounts, forgiving and being forgiven, being intentional about making a difference where we are at this moment in time…this can help us to flourish for the time we are given. Our time is a gift we’ve been given.

The legacy left behind by these two lives will forever be a blessing to those that knew them. Even to people like me who didn’t. That’s what lasts. What we do counts and no one can take it away.

One last thing. We spent two weeks at the Children’s Hospital with Tanner. There were many sleepless nights full of beeping machines,nurses running in, and us trying to deal with our new reality. But then…then came the morning. The bright beautiful morning. As a believer in Christ, I relished in the beauty that we have a fresh start each day. It was a picture of hope to me…to know that there are some things we can always count on; the sun will rise, morning will come, God is faithful period. Here’s a photo taken from Tanner’s room one morning. Seeing this view that morning encouraged me more than words can say.

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I love the Roy Lessin quote that says, “Victory is not found in the ease of our circumstance, or in the strength of our own resources, but by the presence of the Lord who is with us.” He is present through the loss of a child, present through financial struggle, present through whatever we may face. It is ours to choose to invite Him to walk alongside us. The beauty of it is, that for the believer in Christ, this is only the beginning…and eternity with Christ is on the other side…where Ella is, where Ella’s Granna and Pawpaw are, where the ‘cloud of witnesses’ (Hebrews 13) are.

So, this week of struggling with the deaths of these young souls has ended, and I’ve drafted this all week trying to work through my fears. Once again, my ramblings have lots of tangents. But here’s the heart of it all. I choose faith. I will trust a God who I cannot see in a world where what Is seen is often incredibly disheartening. I will feed my faith, not my fears. I will try to love well those around me and make my moments count. I will not lose heart. 💜

Green are the blades of grass. Fields of green are we. Let’s grow. Let’s flourish. Let’s not fear, but stretch out to cover barren places. One blade of grass standing alone doesn’t appear to make a difference, but oh the beauty of blades of grass side by side. There’s nothing like seeing the browns of winter turn to the greens of Spring. Let’s “Go green”.

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2 Corinthians 4:16-18
“6 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”