When I consider the times in my life where I have craved the most peace it has been when I felt most out of control of my life or the happenings around me. Exactly 6 months ago today my dear friend lost her mom in an accident walking in the heart of our town. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of Janet as I drive down Main St. to take our kids to school. My soul is still stunned by the reality that our community doesn’t get to daily interact with a woman who mothered 4 beautiful children into early adulthood with a wild+free spirit and intentional love. She danced like no one was watching and renewed my love for it as well. Her contagious smile penetrated the hearts of every family in our town as she entered many homes as their dog-walker, plant waterer, but most of all, friend.
Why did our Creator allow this precious life to end here on earth when it did?
It has been a heavy half a year for my friends’ family, and for us, her extended family. While she aches, I ache. When she is angry, I feel angry. As she smiles, she reminds me of her mom, and I smile even bigger. The part though that doesn’t make an ounce of logical sense is the genuine peace we feel tucked beneath the battered hearts we carry. In the first few days after the accident we sat in my living room with her closest friends sharing tender and hysterical stories from childhood. What a gift it was to hear rich memories flowing from the mouth of my beautiful friend. This conversation has continued over time through the ups and downs, and even though everyday is understandably hard, it is evident the Lord has been in constant pursuit of His brokenhearted daughter & her people.
This summer I had the gift of spending 2 weeks of our month away serving at a Young Life camp in Colorado with this sassy, yet sweet, sunset -loving, wild + free spirited friend of mine. Every morning we had breakfast together, wrangled my 3 kids out the cabin door into the beauty that is having rocky mountains in your backyard. We listened to John Lucas’ song Time, chowed down gooey omelets and vanilla Noosa yogurt, wiped tears, and leaned hard into our Maker in those still silent moments where no words sufficed. Watching my friend Summer surrender to the love of Jesus in the midst of losing her mom has brought this deep peace in my heart that His promises are indeed true. She won’t sugar coat any of it & I wouldn’t want her to, but she will confidently tell you the One who made us has been near.
He will never forget us. He tends to His people. He comes close when we want to run.
One night at camp I was tucking the kids in so we could sneak out to watch the hundreds of teenagers hear about the Hope we have in the club room. A green glow poured through the dusty blinds of our cabin as I turned off the light. I knew there was a gift awaiting us! I pulled all of my exhausted kids out of their beds, flung open the door, and out we ran! There was a double rainbow so crisp and vibrant I felt as if I could run through the field and grasp it’s fullness. Summer was more giddy than I have ever seen her for any sunset! She grabbed her camera + bolted into someone’s car to head up to the adult guest lodge to snag these pictures before it began to fade. We all stood, mouths agape and wide eyed as we beheld the wonder before us. We had no idea how much we needed the gift of that rainbow! Eventually we got the kids back into bed, and sat together stunned by His light in the midst the dark + heavy. He knows just what we need in the moment. He is present in our suffering. Our earthly pleasures may fade, yet His promises remain. His provision always comes in tailored ways our hearts crave, and that night it came in rainbow form.
We didn’t have to say much to share in the JOY that came from being reminded that in our mourning, there can be dancing! In His nearness, our grief and loss can sting a little less. There is a constant comfort in knowing we are not alone. Since He walked where we do, He aches with us and gently walks beside us through every emotion, question, and doubt. His tender care doesn’t let us be overcome by the fear or anxiety that arises, He calms us.
While I continue to share in the ache that results in walking through this tension of life and death with my friend, I also share in the underlying, familiar peace she has. I would not trade either. This life is full of paradoxes, tensions, both-and. This kind of peace we share doesn’t even seem real at first because it is so powerful and beyond us. It serves as a firm anchor in the storms of this life. It supernaturally eases our fretful souls moment by moment. Many moments of the day my heart hurts for my friend and her family and I want to shake my fists and cry and run and hide from the reality. Thankfully though, in the next breath I remember moments like we had in CO that have followed us home. The season has deeply increased my love for life and beauty, and dancing and singing feels more vibrant than it did before April 1st, 2016. May we savor each day we are gifted, fully! May we relish in each breath we take + hunt for the beautiful gifts along our broken paths!
Summer, thank you for showing me the way, the path to peace in the chaos, in the midst of grief + loss. Also, thank you for taking these priceless pictures so I can treasure our Colorado commune for years to come. As Numbers 6:24-26 says: “the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
So crown Him in your mourning
And crown Him in your laughter
And crown Him when it all turns dark
Crown Him when you bury
And crown Him when you marry
And crown Him when your faith finds a spark
The beauty that has come
And the beauty yet to come
And the beauty that is yours and that is mine
And that death produces life
And that we are made alive
By the King who paints beauty with time