Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What Happens After Christmas?


When it was first announced that the Blue service that our church was putting on together with another church would be on December 30, I did not know what would be the point. By then I would have survived Christmas and the month of December. But yesterday I knew it was just what I needed.

The Compassionate Friends Jan/Feb newsletter arrived in the mail. Renee's name being there in the list of children loved, missed and remembered for the month of February really hit me. I had submitted one of her poems in her memory to be printed in this issue. It was something she wrote in '05. It expressed how she felt and it is kind of the same as the reading from Job at the service last night from Job 23:2-13. Job looked to the north, south, west and east but could not find God, yet he knew that God was there.

In the newsletter was also an article with the title: "What Happens after Christmas?" "They can be quiet times in which we can work at our healing and growth. the healing will never be perfect, and there will always be scars, because love has the capacity to leave scars. But the scars can produce a growth beyond just survival."

Clara Hinton's quote for the week was really good too. "For every tear you shed, a seed of hope is being watered."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

We Need More Faith


In "The One Year Book of Hope" on healing miracles the author, Nancy Guthrie writes, "There is a mystery to God's miracles we do not understand." She goes on to say, " Often I see the body of Christ put so much into pursuing God for physical healing. With great boldness and passion and persistence, we cry out to God, begging for healing of the body. And in these prayers there is often a tiny P.S. added at the end where we say, 'If it be your will.' But shouldn't we switch that around? Shouldn't we cry out to God with boldness and passion and persistence in a prayer that says, 'God, would you please accomplish your will? Would you give me a willing heart to embrace your plan and your purpose? Would you mold me into an instrument you can use to accomplish what you have in mind?' And then, perhaps, we could add a tiny P.S. that says, 'If that includes healing, we would be grateful."

The reading for the next day is titled, "We Need More Faith." The author says," But sometimes I wondered, faith in what? Faith in God, or faith in faith? Submission to God or insisting on a particular outcome? Sometimes it seems as if people think they feel that they must prove to God that they have enough faith and no doubt - that God not only can but will heal them - in order for God to grant their request for healing."

She goes on to say, "Rather than giving the disciples a formula for increasing their faith, Jesus told them that it isn't the amount of faith that matters, but the object of the faith. If the object of your faith is your ability to work up enough to impress God, your faith will be as weak as your flesh. If the object of your faith is a particular outcome for your situation, your faith will be as weak as your wisdom. But if the source and object of your faith is the Almighty God, even if it the weak, mustard-seed variety, your faith will be enough for whatever God allows into your life."

What do you think? Is this an accurate interpretation of what Jesus was teaching his disciples?

The book I'm reading now is "Life of the Beloved" by Henri J.M. Nouwen. I would recommend it as a must read.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

In the bulb, there is a flower.

This is one of the songs they did at the Blue Christmas service we went to last night.

In the bulb, there is a flower
in the seed, an apple tree
in cocoons, a hidden promise butterflies will soon be free!

In the cold and snow of winter
there's a spring that waits to be
unveiled until its season,
something God alone can see.

There is a song in every silence
seeking word and melody.
There's a dawn in every darkness
bringing hope to you and me.

From the past will come the future
what it holds, a mystery
unveiled until its season,
something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning,
in our time, infinity
in our doubt there is believing
in our life, eternity.

In our death, a resurrection,
at last, a victory,
unveiled until its season,
something God alone can see.
- Natalie Sleeth

Listen on YouTube

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Walk with Me



Walk with me through my hurts
Be with me. Hold me.
Tell me it's OK to feel the way I do
Do not tell me it will be all right...
Not to be angry...not to cry.

When you tell me to understand
What has happened and to accept it
Without first feeling anger, grief or pain
...that's for you.

When you tell me to understand
The other people, or when you excuse them
For the pain they caused me
...that's for you.

If someone bothers me
Or I cry,
Hold my hand,
Be near and understand.

When you do not ask me
Or talk to me
About my feelings, my grief, my sorrow
...that's for you.

When you take my agony,
And compare it to yours,
Or make mine sound small compared to yours
...that's for you.

Walk with me through my feelings,
Let me share my joys and sorrows,
Fears and hopes, hates and loves,
Do not ignore or deny them
Understand them.

Then someday, another time,
Even tomorrow,
I may walk with you through yours....

Otherwise, we shall both be alone,
And I can think of no sorrow worse
To be alone with my feelings
And you to be alone with yours.

- Dewaine Kolbo


It is 9 months today since our precious daughter, Renee left us. The introduction in the Daily Bread devotional yesterday was about how much joy it brings to hold the hand of a child to keep them safe, to keep them from stumbling. I had one of my grief burst moments as I read that. On the weekend as I had been walking along the Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon, I had been thinking quite a bit about holding Renee's hand in the various stages of her life and at the end. Then the excruciating moment came where I had to let go physically and the process of letting go continues. Grief means "torn apart".

Psalm 73 says that even although we stumble and make mistakes, the powerful hand of God is holding our hand and will walk with us through life - all the way home. It is a comforting thought that Jesus was there holding Renee's hand throughout her life and as she "crossed over" to the other side to her glorious destiny and that she is with the One whose birthday we are celebrating.

How can it be that almost a year has gone by since last Christmas?

Thank you to all who have prayed and are continuing to pray for us. Thank you for those who have shown that you care.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Unheimlichkeit


The latest series of messages we have been listening to from redeemer.com is on the so called parable of the Prodigal son. It is actually the story of two sons and the father. There sure is a lot packed into that one story. The one we listened to this morning was on Unheimlichkeit. Reminds me of the song, "This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through."

We want everything on this earth to stay the same or at least the good parts. We wanted our relationship with our beautiful daughter Renee to continue. Ray loved his research and development work. For that to be taken away from him was so terribly painful. Now for him to start a new R & D under the circumstances of all this grief, it is so hard.

There are so many families broken as the result of selfishness, greed, and misunderstandings. Even although the process of forgiveness has started, it does not erase the pain. Family is supposed to be a place where you feel safe, but when you feel betrayed and rejected it causes so much pain. God wants us to come to Him and find our resting place in Him.

I finally got the book by Alan Wolfelt - "Understanding Your Grief". Wish I had had that book a long time ago.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Oh, this grieving is such lonely, hard work. It would be so nice to have someone come and just cry with me. But I don't do very well with crying when there are people around.

We did not do a good job of grieving our loss when Kris and Jason and Leona all died within one and half years. It was just too much to deal with. And everybody keeps saying God does not make mistakes. He won't give you more than you can handle. But we have been given more than we can handle. That is the truth of the matter.


When Lazarus died both of his sisters asked Jesus, "Where were you when our brother died?"


I'm listening to a CD right now that has the song on it, "One day at a time, Sweet Jesus." Yesterday is gone, tomorrow may never be mine. " That reminded me of when that song was sung at a ladies meeting just before Renee was born.


Oh, God, I miss Renee so much, but I'm so thankful that we were blessed to have her in our family, for all the good memories.


Now I got myself a terrible headache from crying so much. Please, help me God to get through this terrible agony. Thank you for the assurance of the promise that you will never leave us or forsake us.



Thursday, November 06, 2008

Lament or Praise


At the Grief/Share session today we learned that there are more Psalms that have complaint or lament as the main theme than Psalms that have praise or thanksgiving as the main theme. We can be honest to God about how we feel, as long as nobody else hears it. The people that wrote the psalms were an exception I guess.
The above picture I took at the silentgrief retreat. It was the only cloud in an otherwise perfectly clear blue sky. I felt like God gave it to me as a sign that He is with me. I am so thankful for the promise that God will never, ever leave us or forsake us.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Out of the Ashes


Some one made a comment about the picture I have on my blog header, that she was expecting a flower to pop up amidst all those broken and discarded flower pots. Yesterday I found this sunflower growing in the ashes and rubbish in the fire pit container in my back yard!

I also want to quote some things I read in the "One Year Book of Hope". "The value of a life is not determined by how long a person lives or by how much that person contributes. Every life is valuable because God himself gives life and breath. He is not only the source of life; he is also the source of satisfaction and meaning in life."

"This life is not all there is! This life is just a rehearsal for our real life, our forever life in the presence of God."

"He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is the Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn't live in man-made temples, and human hands can't serve his needs - for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need there is. His purpose in all of this is that the nations should seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him - though he is never far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist." - Acts 17:24-25, 27-28

Friday, October 24, 2008

Brokenness


I don't really have much to say as I'm thinking so much of a year ago when Renee found out that the leukemia had come back.

But we must somehow accept that there are no answers and still believe that God loves us.

Monday, October 06, 2008

It's Monday and It's Raining

Those two things aren't that bad, but having my face feeling all numb and having spent one and a half hours in the dentist chair isn't making me feel like a very happy camper right now. In a few hours it will be better. I suppose we should be thankful for dentists. If we did not get our teeth put in order, we would be going around with half of them missing. That would not be so good!

My cat is snuggling up and trying to interfere with what I'm doing.

We had a good day yesterday. We had an early Thanksgiving. Alayna and Justin each brought a friend, so we had six at the table for lunch. We had Kara on the speaker phone, so she could join us for a bit of our conversation.

After lunch we spent some time looking at photo albums of the growing up years. We had a good time of remembering family trips and outings or the kids just being silly or whatever the occasion was that needed to be photographed. Lots of good memories.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A New Day


In the book by C. S. Lewis that I mentioned yesterday, he says grief feels like fear, like suspense or like waiting, just hanging about waiting for something to happen. "Grief is like a bomber circling round and dropping its bombs each time the circle brings it overhead." "The mind always has some power of evasion. At worst, the unbearable thought only comes back and back, but the physical pain can be absolutely continuous." The pain and struggles Renee had to go through are way worse than what I'm going through.


Lewis says a mother has to deal with the fact that the maternal happiness of mothering her child has to be written off when the child dies, and that is what makes it so awfully painful. I have to hang on to my hope that some day I will get to heaven to 'glorify God and enjoy Him forever' where there will be no more tears.


Something that I read today in the grief/share workbook is that tears are God's gift to us to express the extent of our loss and not a sign of weakness or a lack of faith.


I'm thankful for the three children that I can still mother, to the extent that adult children need mothering. Right after I wrote that sentence one of my precious daughters called me for some advise. That felt so good.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Day One Hundred


Today is the 100th day since we started receiving the daily grief/share emails. One hundred days and that was just some random day that I happened to see the email with the link that had been sent by a friend quite some time before that.

So anyway the topic for today's email was the goodness of God. The daily reading from the "One Year Book of Hope" that somebody sent us, happened to be on the same theme. Yesterday I read "A Grief Observed" by C.S. Lewis. He writes about how he wrestled with that question after his wife died of cancer.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tears and Overwhelming Pain


This week was so, so very hard - just reliving all the pain and being pushed into fresh waves of pain. Maybe it was supposed to be therapeutic.

Oh, Renee, I'm just so very sorry that you had to suffer so much. This is more than I can bear, and I'm so sorry I could not do more for you. Jesus suffered way more than we can imagine to set us free and we must always keep that in mind. Renee, you desired so much to experience and practice the presence of God in your life and now you are in His presence and we cannot even imagine what that must be like.

But I wish I could at least have just one more conversation with you, Renee, make one more smoothie for you, watch another movie with you, make the leukemia go away, make the pain go away, see you continue serving the Lord, maybe get married some day, see you make all the movies and documentaries you were hoping and dreaming and planning to do. I love you Renee and I always will. I'm so sorry.

Oh God, if you can use the story of Renee's life and what you did for her and through her and in her to bring even one person to invite Jesus into their heart it will be worth it. But right now I'm feeling very sad. I don't want to just think about myself and wallow in self-pity but I have to work through my grief somehow.

The verse for this week from the book - One Year Book of Hope was about the Lord being close to the brokenhearted. I need to trust that God is close and wants to comfort me in my distress.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My All in All

Dear Jesus,

You want to be my all in all, my everything. I need to keep my focus on you.

The grief/share email for today was about how to handle the anger which is a normal part of grief and to do it before the sun goes down. The sun has already gone down many times, so I guess I'd better get to work. I don't know if this can all be done in one day and I don't think I want to do it on the blog.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Six Months


Hi Renee,

Tomorrow it will be six months since you left us. Oh, how I wish you were still with us. Now all we have is memories, pictures of you, some of your stuff, and a big aching void. I have my ipod with your music, but I would much rather have you.

I guess I'll add a nice picture to this and then maybe it won't seem quite so sad. I thought maybe the clouds would do. It makes me think of heaven.
Where exactly is heaven ? Somewhere up above the clouds? or not so far away?
I wish I could give you a hug, but rest assured, I love you very much and miss you so much. Some days I feel like I will go crazy, but I'm going to be okay, at least I hope so.




Thursday, August 21, 2008

Taking a Break

Hi Renee,

Do you like my picture of the lilies? Thanks for all you taught me about photography - I think I did learn a few things anyway. I really like the camera we bought for you last summer, which I am using now. It helps me to feel connected to you in a small way.

I was mowing the lawn and thinking so much about you. I used to complain about our lawn not being green enough, and then you reminded me that at least we had grass and that lots of kids grow up not even knowing what grass is, in places like Jordan and some of the other countries you visited. I am so thankful that you helped me get a better perspective. It is still often out of whack. It is hard to find the right balance.

I miss you so much,

Love from,

Your mom

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tears, Truth, Anger and Grace


I just listened to the message again from the Redeemer Presbyterian from the Sunday after 9/11. That is a very comforting service. Dr. Keller emphasizes how we need tears, truth, anger and grace when faced with suffering and death. I wanted to be genuine and embrace my grief, but in my desire not to be a burden, I probably kept the tears too much to myself again. Weep with those that weep. I think we need to learn how to do that, myself included, instead of just glossing it over. Jesus wept, and he is weeping with us.

The truth that we need is that Jesus IS the Resurrection and the Life. He can bring new life out of the tragedies that come our way. And apparently the verse that says that Jesus was troubled as he approached Lazarus's grave should read, he was angry. God is angry at death. And Jesus knew that by resurrecting Lazarus, he was putting himself into the grave. From that day on the religious leaders were seeking to put him to death.

And then we need grace. We need grace to know what to do with our anger and allow Jesus to be the Resurrection and the Life to us, as we continue to some how try to cope with all the multiple layers of grief one day at a time.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep

That poem is mentioned in the June '08 Guideposts I was reading this morning. I googled it and watched a couple of different versions of it on YouTube. The words are beautiful and calming, but I'm not sure what to think of it. We do need to release the tears. Maybe this is just glossing over the sorrow of death.
While I was at it I also watched several versions of "Nothing But the Blood." One was by Jars of Clay. Another one that ministered to me was their "Angels are God's Messengers - I'll Fly Away. " "I'll Fly Away" was the song we sang at the graveside on that bitterly cold March day.


More on Anger

I just read a quote this morning in Guideposts. "For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of potential happiness." I don't know what to do with all these emotions. You can't just stuff them down deep someplace, cause that leads to depression.

Another interesting quote: "If at the end of the day you feel dog tired maybe it's because you growled all day." I know this grieving is hard work and sometimes I feel dog tired before the day
has even started.

"The joy of the Lord is your strength. To have this joy you must praise for it." That is a stanza from that song I found in the hymnal at the church we went to in NYC. So I must keep praising the Lord whether I feel like it or not.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Anger

I think that if I would really express how I feel a lot of the time, maybe nobody would want to read these blogs. Some of the anger issues are probabaly better to just leave them with God. Our message at church was about Jonah and how God kept giving him second chances and about his anger issues.

There are a lot of things going on that should make us very angry and other things that should just slide off our backs. Anyway, I don't know really know what else to say about this right now, so I should just quit. I do know that it makes me angry that Renee did not get to live out her life and make the films that she was dreaming of producing to proclaim the truth of the gospel. I don't know if I have a right to be angry about that or not and I'm not angry at God.

Friday, August 08, 2008

This Day


Psalm 105:4 I came across this verse again this morning. "Search for the Lord and for his strength, and keep on searching." In the pages of God's Word we will discover a God who is waiting for us to find him. I know God gave me strength to get through the winter - our journey through the return of Renee's leukemia. There were so many people praying for Renee and our family. I want to trust that God will continue to be with us as we continue this journey of grief.


Suffering is universal, and there are some very crazy situations in the world, with all the war and crime and craziness. The song, "This is my Father's World" helped to bring me a sense of peace, as I was trying to get back into a routine after coming home from NYC after Renee's first session of treatments at the end of '05. "Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet."

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Proverb for the Day


It is dangerous to make a rash promise to God before counting the cost.

- Proverbs 20:25

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wisdom in Suffering

Listened to the sermon on "Wisdom in Suffering" again this morning - have been listening to that series on Job again this week as we were faced with the sudden tragic passing of Katelyn. To have wisdom in suffering, we need scary level, unconditional trust in God's love, is what Dr. Keller says. And that does not come easily most of the time, as Dr. Keller also admits.

The grief/share email today talks about how in our society we tend to gloss over grief, everything has to be so tidy and nice. "But life is not tidy and nice and pretending it is will hinder your healing process and make it even longer. "

"Realizing this, draw close to Him and listen to His wisdom. His perspective on your grief is the one you need to seek. "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts'" (Isaiah 55:8-9).

"Holy God, teach me to grieve wisely, knowing that You truly understand my hurts and my needs and knowing that Your way for me is far better than society's expectations of me. Amen."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pain and Peace


Hi Renee, How was your day? I guess you don't really have days there in heaven. I have been thinking a lot about you as I do everyday. Today we were thinking a lot about heaven as we were at the memorial service for Katelyn. It was so beautiful to watch all the balloons going up and up and up. (The picture is from your memorial service - wish I had a better picture and I want to add a picture of Kateyn's balloons.) It was such a gorgeous summer day, unlike the terribly bitter cold day when we laid your body to rest, to wait for the resurrection.

The searing pain we experienced only five months ago when we realized that your life on earth was over was all too fresh in our memory still, as we got the tragic news of our friends losing their daughter and Kara losing a friend. I imagine you and Katelyn dancing and having a blast together. Don't forget us down here, who have to continue with the struggles and battles.

I listened to the entire Mindy Smith album this evening as I went for a walk. I wish so much I had asked you about Mindy. There are so many other things I wished we had talked about and just wish we could have had one moment more, as Mindy sings. Why did you get leukemia? Why did you get that lung infection? Why? why? why? so many whys.

I have been thinking again a lot about the song that gave me courage throughout the winter, "Be strong, be strong, be strong in the Lord." I don't want to give up, but want to "keep on believing" even when things get so hard - also from Mindy - that is such a beautiful album. Renee, I can never thank you enough for putting all that music on my iPod.
More next time. Renee, I love you so much. Can't wait to see you again.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My Saturday Night Special


I like to listen to Jonathan Helser - The Awakening album on my iPod on Saturday nights to prepare me for worship on Sunday. (Thank you, thank you Renee for putting this album on my iPod - as well as all the others. I now realize my mistake - it is Helser and not Hesler as I said in a previous blog. I am so embarrassed by this mistake.) The songs about the incredible love God has for us, about heaven and being more like Jesus. I need to learn to pray about everything and trust God's love one hundred percent. I know He loves me one hundred percent - his love is unchanging - to just receive more of his love - to live as one who knows that I am loved outrageously - to be set free from despair and all those fears - to be set free from myself.
Perfect love casts out fear. Oh God, how can I ever thank you enough for all the beautiful gifts you have given me. Even although I have experienced such horrible, terrible losses that are more than I can bear, I love you, Jesus and want to live for you. (I needed to get some tissues and now I will quickly post this and see if I can get some sleep.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Silent Helper


The devotional from Our Daily Bread today was a good reminder that our list of praises should be longer than our list of petitions. Just like our white blood cells quietly do their work, yet receive little recognition if all goes well, our Lord often gets blamed when things go wrong, but seldom gets credit for all the things that go right. No one knows how many times God has protected us from harm.

One of the things that kept me going last winter was to journal at the end of every day, at least three things that I was thankful for. That helped me throughout the day to think of positive things, instead of dwelling on the negatives.
I have started doing that again, but am not quite as faithful now as my days are not quite as structured as they were in NYC.
Today I am thankful for flowers, friends and our family - the three wonderful children that are with us and the three that are with Jesus. I am thankful for friends that have been an encouragement and have been willing and able to listen to various degrees.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Growing Wings





Saturday afternoon I had the overwhelming desire to grow wings to fly away and never come back. That reminded me of the verses that we find in Psalm 55 where David says, "Oh, how I wish I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! I would fly away to the quiet wilderness. How quickly I would escape - far away from this wild storm of hatred."
This morning the song came to my mind that we sang as we said good-bye to Renee, "I'll fly away, Oh glory, I'll fly away " as we watched the balloons sail off into the bitterly cold winter sky with the sun setting behind us.
All the stress of trying to get the computers working, as a result of having the business so brutally split apart, and trying to find a shop or location to build a new one on top of trying to deal with the grief of losing Renee is sometimes just overwhelming. They say God will never give us more than we can handle, but I'm not sure if I agree with that. But if we ask Him to carry the load, I think we should be able to survive.
I have been reminded of Bugs Bunny who was repeated runover and completely flattened out. That is how we have been feeling, except unlike Bugs Bunny it is taking us longer to recover from this being run over process.
Saturday we did a little 2 hour trip. That was a nice relaxing change, meeting with some very good friends. Yesterday we had a quiet day, with a walk in Bird's Hill Park in the evening and I did find Ladies Slippers - pink and yellow ones.
This morning we listened to the first message from the new series on the Seven Letters to the Churches from the Book of Revelation from Redeemer - the Last and the First - God wants to be our Alpha and Omega.

Friday, June 27, 2008

To Be Loved


Yesterday it was four months since Renee's passing - promotion to glory - eight months since we went to Vancouver - October 25 was the day that Renee got the word that she had relapsed - three years since she was first diagnosed with leukemia. Some how by the grace of God we have made it though another day, another month, another year.

One of our coping strategies is to listen to lots and lots of those messages from Redeemer Presbyterian from NYC - they can be down loaded from their website. This morning I was listening to another one from the Easter series - about Mary who was the first witness to Jesus' resurrection - a woman being the first witness is quite significant - proving that this is not just a made up story - they would never have picked a woman to be the first witness.

Some of the things that stand out in mind from this message and others:
We need to be seek Jesus (the real Jesus - not just what we think He should be) and to be found by Him - to be known by Him and to know Him - to be loved by Him and to love. Once we truly understand that we are saved by grace alone and realize how amazing that grace is, it makes a huge difference. Once we really believe that Jesus was resurrected, we can know that the gospel is the truth and it can change us. I want it to change me, but it just seems too painfully slow sometimes. I need to remind myself often that God's grace is sufficient.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

COME TO ME

I have a plaque by the fireplace that I need to read quite often these days.

COME TO ME
When you are hurting, come to Me and
I WILL BIND YOUR WOUNDS.
When you need to be assured, come to Me and
I WILL GIVE YOU MY EMBRACE.
When you can no longer go on, come to Me and
I WILL CARRY YOU.
When you need comfort, come to Me and
I WILL WIPE YOUR TEARS.
When you are uncertain of My love, come to Me and
I WILL SPEAK MY HEART TO YOU.
- Roy Lessin
The title of the message we listened to this morning is "I AM" - the first message in the St. John's Passion series by Dr. Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC. Jesus did not come to show us the way to God, as all religions try to do. He said, "I AM THE WAY."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Someone who can Feel it when we are Hurting


Why? Why? Why? I try not to ask that question too much, but sometimes it just happens and the tears come. Children are not supposed to die before the parents. Renee had so much she wanted to do for God. Who will do what she wanted to do?


We have been having some amazing sunsets lately. I enjoy taking these photos. It helps me to feel connected to Renee in a small way.



On the way to the golf tournament in the morning, I was reading some verses from the new Lifelight Testament. Was reading from Hebrews. Came across the verses in chapter four that say, "We have a High Priest who can feel it when we are weak and hurting. We have a High Priest who was tempted in every way, just as we are. But he did not sin. So let us boldly approach the throne of grace. Then we will receive mercy. We will find grace to help us when we need it."

Yesterday morning I read some chapters from Exodus. I came across a verse that says, " And when they realized that the Lord had seen their misery and was deeply concerned for them, they all bowed their heads and worshiped."

Also yesterday in an email we received, I was reminded of those precious verses from Hebrews that encourage us to "run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus." By remembering that Jesus suffered infinitely more than than we can imagine - going to hell, taking upon himself the sin of the whole world - everybody that has ever lived or ever will - being seperated from the God to pay the price to set us free, so we could experience being made right with God, as if we had never sinned. We need to remind ourselves of that, to keep things in perspective, so we don't become weary and give up.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Christ Be with Me

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me.
Christ be with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down
Christ when I arise
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
St. Patrick
This was printed in the memorial folder Alayna and Kara put together. Maybe most of you who are reading this blog were at one of the memorial services we had for Renee and would have gotten a copy. (I read it aloud every day - usually quite forcefully - so the enemy will know that I mean business about living for Christ.)
Renee's pastor in Vancouver had shared a part of this prayer by St. Patrick with her the Sunday before she got her test results back and had told her to look it up online and print the whole thing and she did. I saw her doing it that day when we got there after she got the devasting news that the terrible leukemia had come back. She had carried that prayer with her the whole time in her backpack and then when we cleaned up her room we found it on her windowsill.
We had Renee's friend, Wade, who is a DJ and is also the assistant pastor of her church read the whole St. Patrick's Breastplate to his favorite piece of music at the memorial services. That was a very powerful.
We are so thankful that Wade and Joanna could come and lead the services and do what they did, although it was extremely hard for them. It was just perfect - the leading of the singing by Joanna, her sharing of Renee's involvement with YWAM - and everything else - brings tears to my eyes.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"Left to Blossom"

"Left to Blossom"
A Mother’s Tribute to her Daughter
"Left to Blossom" is also the title of a film Renee co-produced
while studying at Capilano College

Renee (Born Again) Amaryah (God has Promised) Lalani (Heavenly Flower), was born on March 18, 1984.She was promoted to glory 3 weeks before her 24th birthday.

Renee, we will always remember you, sometimes with tears, but also with lots of smiles, for all the beauty and joy you brought into our lives.

Renee packed as much as possible into her short time on this earth. Renee loved going to camp. She would go to as many camps as possible in one summer: Beaver Creek Bible Camp, horsemanship camp, and music camp.

Renee, I’m so thankful that you loved Jesus, our God and Savior with all your heart, soul and mind, serving Him in whatever capacity you could, working at camp, teaching Sunday School and being a youth leader. I am glad that you decided to do the DTS with YWAM and working on staff at www.YWAMVancouver.com. I’m so very happy that you got to go Jordan and Greece with YWAM, and that you were obedient to God’s calling to join the WAVE USA.

But why Renee did not get to do all fifty states, we will never know. She was diagnosed with leukemia when the WAVE USA team got to Cleveland, Ohio at the end of June, 2005. Renee only made it to twenty six states. After treatment at MSKCC.org she was in remission for 2 years.

I’m glad that you could study film production at Capilano and you got to work in the industry for a few months. You would have loved to continue, and some day start your own business, to produce all those films you dreamed about, but the devastating leukemia came back.
It was very special that I could be there for Renee in New York during treatments for six months in ’05 and then four months since the end of October ’07.
Renee, I’ll always cherish those ten months we had together, doing things together when you felt up to it, whether it was going to art museums, to the park, or going out to eat at some of the many wonderful restaurants, enjoying all that yummy ethnic food, or watching movies together and countless hours of TV. And I will also always cherish all those conversations you and I had.
It was a joy to cook for Renee, I got to make those delicious dishes she requested. Cooking our last Christmas dinner together will always be a very special memory.
Renee, I’m so happy that on my birthday, just two weeks before you were promoted to glory we could go out to a Persian restaurant, to enjoy the world’s oldest cuisine and that we could walk to Central Park together in the snow, one of the few snow days we had all winter in New York.
And thank you so much, Renee, for talking your dad into getting an iPod for me and thank you so very much for uploading all those songs by your favorite artists for me. Listening to those songs now, helps me to understand even better your passions, beliefs and desires.
And Renee, thanks a million for the CD you made for me before Christmas with some of your favorite worship music.

We played that CD over and over on Renee’s last day while we were waiting for her sisters to arrive. But Renee could not hang on long enough, because their flight was delayed. I’m so glad that Renee’s brother was there, because he had not seen Renee since she went back to New York.

I’m so sorry, Renee, that I could not do more for you. I feel like I let you down. I felt so helpless, so sorry you relapsed and had to go back to New York, and sorry that you had leukemia in the first place, sorry that you were born with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. Sorry that you got the lung infection. Sorry that you had to get more chemo.
Renee, I’m so sorry that we had to say good-bye to you so soon. The tears are about us, about our pain in losing a precious daughter, a loving sister, a wonderful friend, cousin, granddaughter and niece.

To know that Renee impacted so many people in her short time on this earth brings me comfort.
And to know God who is the God of all comfort is so precious. We experienced the power of prayer in so many ways.
We may never know the answer to our many whys and what-ifs, but we need to trust in God’s love, as Renee did. As a result of her suffering, Renee came to the conclusion that it was not so much about the answers, as it was about the questions.
We trusted God and hoped that this upcoming transplant was going to be successful, and that Renee would be able to continue with her mission of serving God "To mobilize the church into missions, and to see truth proclaimed through the arts".
For reasons we do not understand this was not to be. Renee was spared further suffering and is now in the place where we all want to be, a place with no more tears and no more pain.
I know Renee does not want to be remembered as the girl with cancer, but as a woman with a passion for justice and peace, a heart for the less fortunate, proclaiming a message of hope.
One of the countries Renee visited for the outreach part of the DTS, was Cambodia. In this place where she saw so much pain, she was inspired to get the Cambodian word for hope tattooed on her ankle. Renee’s life was a good example of what it means to serve the truth of the gospel.
I’m praying that many will step forward to carry on the work that Renee wanted to do for God.

Renee, I know you could have done a much better job of writing this, but I did the best I could. If you had edited it, you would probably have cut out at least one third of it. So now this is your mama saying, "See you later, Renee. I love so very much. We all love you and will all miss you terribly much.
Give Kris and Jason lots of hugs from me and of course Jesus too. I’ll be with you again some day."

"Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King." I am looking forward to that day when the King will return, "when those who have died will rise from their graves and then together with them, we who remain on earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with Him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words."
We want to give a special thanks to everybody who had a part in the memorial services we had for Renee. The first one was at the chapel at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre where Renee was treated as a baby and for the leukemia. We had two services in Manitoba. March 1, at Eastview Community Church and in Riverton on March 2 with internment at the Mennville EMC Church cemetery.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Had a Good Mother's Day

Our dinner with our family turned out good. We went to the Ethiopian restaurant that we had gone to in '06 for my birthday. Renee was with us at that meal. We had wanted to go there for her birthday this year, but it was closed that day. You have to wait quite long for your food there, but it is worth the wait! For a special occassion, you don't mind making it last as long as possible. You just have to know that you can't come there expecting to eat any time soon! For dessert we went down the street to Baked Expectations - the same routine we did for my birthday that year.

I like to read the part of the St. Patrick's Breastplate that we printed in the memorial folder for Renee every day. It helps me to keep my eyes on Jesus. Maybe I need to read it many times a day.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

I am the mother of six children - three that dance with Jesus in heaven and three that are with us on this earth. My prayer is that we will also all walk with Jesus while we are still on this earth with the help of the Holy Spirit.

(I got the following poem from a friend whose mother passed away recently.)

You can shed tears that she is gone

or you can smile because she lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back

or you can open your eyes and see all she's left.

Your heart can be empty because you can't see her

or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she's gone

or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty, and turn your back


or you can do what she'd want:

smile, open your eyes, love, and go on.

- David Harkins

This is the struggle that I am finding myself in. The last few days, especially as mother's day was coming up and as I was trying to clean up all the stuff we brought home from NYC, I was feeling very overwhelmed with regrets, sorrow, grieving, etc. The desire is there some days, because the pain is so relentless and emormous - to close my mind to that and try to forget everything, but I don't really want to do that.

Last night as I was struggling with this, I picked up the "Daily Grace for Women" book I got from my "bowling sisters" - opened it at random and read a devotional based on 2 Cor. 4 : 17 & 18 - good reminder - to keep focused on things eternal and not on the things of this earth. The caption on the bottom of the page goes like this, "God has not abandoned you to face your struggles alone. He will give you the strength that you need to overcome any hardship."

This morning as I was getting ready for church two hymns came to my mind which ministered to my wounded heart. "Standing on the Promises" - which also came to me at a very critical moment in my journey last winter. The other one was, "On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand." I want to keep standing and not give in to the temptation to give up hope and fall into despair and depression.

I don't actually think there is any thing wrong with letting the tears come. It can actually be very therapeutic. It takes a lot of energy - this grieving - whether it is letting the tears come or trying to hold them in. I think it is impossible to always be as positive as the poem suggests, although that might be the goal. God gave us emotions for a reason. To suppress them all the time is not healthy either. There has to be a healthy balance.

When Job was grieving all his losses, he tore his robe in grief, fell to the ground and in all of that he did not sin by blaming God. That is the wisdom we need in suffering - not to blame God.

The songs we sang at the worship service today, also really ministered to me - thanks to the worship team. The first one was "Mighty to Save" - which had become very meaningful to me over the winter. It was sung at the church we attended in NYC and then I found it on Integrity Music's website and played it a lot whenever I needed a boost - along with "Hungry (Falling on my Knees).

We also sang a new song today - new to me - that I really liked - about how amazing God is. It brought the tears to my eyes.

For those of you reading this, you can say a little prayer for our family - that all of us in our grieving process will realize that God has not abanoned us - that He is with for us and will never leave us or forsake us, as the promise goes. Thank you.

It is very nice today, for a change, so we want to go walking in the park and later go out for dinner with the three wonderful children that are still with us.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I Love You, I Love You, I Love You


I have been listening a lot to the songs on my iPod - the songs that Renee uploaded for me just two weeks before she left us. One of the songs by Jonathan Hesler talks about how much God loves us - outrageously much - one hundred percent - all the time - all the way. There is nothing we can do to make God love us more and nothing we can do to make God love us less. Amazing love! How can it be that my God would die for me - go to hell for me?


It just makes me weep to think that He loved me that much. All I can do is say, "I love You, I love You, I Love You." And pray that my life will show that I really truly do love Jesus with all my heart. Too often I get all twisted up with the little petty things that don't really make any difference.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Grief & Pain

I am still working on this book which is a study of grief and pain in the plan of God, based on the book of Lamentations.

The focal point of the first chapter - Coping with Grief is that we must always confess that the Lord is 'right', 'just' and 'righteous' in all His ways taken from verse 18 of Lam. 1. Four elements of coping with grief are given in this chapter.

1) In its Loneliness - "We are taught to pour out our complaint, sorrow, anguish to the God in whose presence we not only live but also suffer."

2)In its Causes - "It is not always necessary or even desirable to probe one's past for all the root causes of pain and suffering, but when we come to realize that some forms of suffering are retributive and are connected with previous sin nothing will assuage our pain or allow us to cope with grief until we acknowledge our guilt and repeated transgressions."

3)In its Purposes - One of the purposes of grief as given in this chapter is to turn us back to the Lord - a total reversal of one's field - a 180 degree turnaround to face God and His purposes.

4) In its confessions - That God is in the right and we are in the wrong. We instinctively seek human sympathy, but there is no help from men. We must appeal to our Lord to witness our great mental and emotional state of agitation and to turn to Him for comfort.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I need you, I need you, I need you

Heavenly Father, I need you, I need you, I need you. I need you to be my strength. I feel so weak. I need you to be my joy. I feel so depressed and sad or something, not all the time, but it comes and goes. I need you to be my all in all. I need you to be the reason that I live.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Regretting the Past

In talking with some friends over the weekend, I was encouraged to go on with life and the grieving process. It was very helpful to have somebody to talk with that would help me to understand that I need to get over all those regrets.

It was very nice to visit with our friends in Boston, that we had not seen in 13 years. Their son had a transplant in '89 . Was not doing very good the last time we saw them, but had another transplant in '97. It was nice to see him doing so well, but that opened up a whole new set of questions and regrets.

That is why I needed to talk to someone, because the burden was getting too heavy.

I had a glorious time on the beach Friday morning, taking pictures of the ocean in the fog. It was so beautiful, as you see in the pictures. I had met a lady on my way back to the hotel. Her daughter had cancer and she herself has a form of cancer. We were talking about the power of prayer. We sure felt that power during our time in New York this winter.

Thanks again for praying. The battle is not over. Ray is having a very hard time with the thing that he loved so much, the R&D aspect of the business being taken away from him, and so much more. He can always start a new R&D, but is is very hard to start from scratch again. Please pray for him.

I listened to #6 message in the series on Job again last night. He talks about how just because we can't see a reason for our suffering, doesn't mean that there isn't a reason. And sometimes it is not so much about us knowing a reason, as to just learn to trust God more.

This morning I came across one of many papers that I keep in my Bible. This one I have read over many times and found encouragement in it again.

"I AM"

I was regretting the past

and fearing the future

Suddenly my Lord was speaking

My name is "I AM". He paused

I waited. He continued.

When you live in the past

with all its mistakes and regrets,

it is very hard. I am not there.

My name is not I WAS.

When you live in the future

it is hard. I am not there.

My name is not I WILL BE.

When you live in this moment

it is not hard. I am here.

My name is "I AM".


I think I actually posted this already once before. But is was a good reminder to me again. When this lady I met asked me what I was taking pictures of, I said I was just trying to see the beauty around me and to see things the way Renee had in her many photographs. There is so much beauty here in St. Simons Island.

Saturday we went to see Old Savannah, that Renee was so anxious for us to see. She had suggested we should do a road trip to Savannah in spring. I would love to call her and talk to her about it.

We are going again today. There is a Gospel Riverboat Cruise on the Savannah River that we want to do, and we want to do and see and experience more of the historic part of the city, the largest historic section of any city here. So much of that was all destroyed during the war, but for some reason, Savannah was spared.

Why is there still so much destruction going on around the world, where so many historic buildings are being destroyed? and so many people's lives being snuffed out? These are just a few of the questions of peace and justice that need an answer.

video

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Blue Sky


We had beautiful weather all the way to NYC, the sky was blue with some interesting clouds.
I couldn't remember why I had felt the need to write the previous blog, but it came back to me yesterday. After listening again to the first message in the series of messages on Job,Pastor Keller talks about how we need so much to stay in relation with God when we go through suffering.
When I read that devotional about Jesus always standing ready at our door, waiting to be asked in for some fellowship with us,I was wondering why are we often so hestitant to do that? He just wants to meet with us, weep with us, put his arms around us and hold us close. He loves us so outrageously much. Why are we afraid to let Him in? Maybe because we might have to give up some "secret sin" or be held accountable for every word we say, and every thought we think. This was mentioned during the confession time at Redeemer yesterday, that so often our words and thoughts are nothing at all like Jesus, too often very foul.
I know I have already today spoken some very foul words. Why do I think I have the right to say these things just cause I am feeling angry? Is it supposed to make me feel better? Does it help? Well, maybe we just need to vent our feelings sometimes, but we have to be careful that we don't hurt other people in the process.
There was something about this in the Psalm we read this morning - But I have to go now.

Behold I Stand at the Door

I took the sunset picture on the way to Fargo on Thursday, also the one Ray has on his blog.

This morning I listened to Jonathan Hesler on my iPod - one of the albums that Renee put on it for me. I listened to it for the first time, the morning after the memorial service in Vancouver. Why I had never listened to it before that, I don't know. The songs are all very powerful. I've Seen I AM - "because I've seen I AM, I know who I am." The one after that is called I See. It talks about God's outrageous love for us. We need to realize that we are God's beloved, that there is nothing we can do to make God love us less, and that He loves us because that is who He is.

Now I'm listening to Jason Upton, one of Renee's favorite artists. He is very passionate about being in the will of God, which is the bondage breaker. That we would follow hard after Him, instead of hard after sin, because he is the only one that can fill the void in us.

That reminds me of the devotional we read yesterday from Our Daily Bread, which I now see is actually for tomorrow. It is based on Rev. 3:20. "Jesus does not play hide-and-seek. You can find Him at the door of your heart - the core of your existence - waiting to come in. He doesn't just want to meet you at the church door, or to be kept at bay on the outer edges of your life. Rather, He longs to be in the center of your dreams, deliberations, and desires. He wants a real relationship with the real you."

I started reading a book called, "Grief & Pain" by Walter C Kaiser Jr. I'm hoping to write more about that in my next blog.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

It looked so Christmasy today - the fresh snow and sunshine.

We had to sign more papers again. When will it ever stop? This stuff we had all signed in Vancouver already, in the midst of trying to have the memorial service. Right now I am feeling very angry. I am so angry, I would like to hurt somebody, but that is not my job. Ray is so tired of having to deal with this crap! There are lots of other things I would like to say, but don't know if it would do any good. I just don't understand how someone can feel so justified in treating their brother like this. I don't know what else to say. I'm sorry, but this is just too hard!

Father, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who tresspass against us. Lead us not into tempatation, but deliver us from evil.

Thank you Jesus, that you were made sin for us, so that we can stand forgiven at the cross.

We didn't get away today, on account of dealing with this crap and just being too exhausted. Thanks guys for praying, really appreciate it. Don't know how we could possibly survive without that!

A double dose of grief does not mean that you can be more efficient and get it over with quicker, just takes so much longer to deal with - how can we ever get back to any kind of normal life?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Darkness Reflects the Sun


"Darkness reflects the sun. Blackness reflects nothing. Between grief and nothing I will take grief." - The Wild Palms by William Falkner

I found the paper today on which I had scribbled this quote from one of the exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art when Alayna, Lynne and I were there in February, which seems like so many, many ages ago. I don't know if it makes any sense, but that is kind of how everything feels nowadays, like nothing really makes any sense.

After I posted the blog this morning, I started feeling more peaceful. Thanks for praying. The nice thing about blogs is that it allows us to be more open and honest about our feelings. It is very hard to do that in person, because you are always expected to have it all together.

We are now planning to drive to New York City and maybe spend some time at a beach house the second week of April. Does anybody know of a nice beach house we could stay at in West Virginia or Georgia? or some place along the eastern coast?

We are not sure yet what we will end up doing, but if we take a car, there are more possibilities - more flexibility as to what we can do, if we feel like it.

It is snowing again, would be nice to get away from the snow.

Ripping Emptiness

The jungle image of being choked by the vines is gone. In it's place is just a big empty void, with two big chunks ripped out of our life at the same time. The one was so totally unnecessary, the business one. It just makes the other even more painful, almost completely unbearable. If we had not been so consumed by our grief about the business, maybe we could have been more on top of things with Renee's situation and they maybe could have done something sooner. I don't know why we are blaming ourselves now, but it just seems like somehow it helps to blame someone.

We need to go to NYC to clean out the apartment and meet with the doctors. The question is should we drive or fly. We don't really want to be anywhere, not here nor in NYC.

Pray that God's name will be glorified in our grief, that we will continue to see that God is the God of all comfort, and that I won't spiral down into the pit of despair and depression.

God's love is unfailing. He went to the pit to save us. Thank you, Jesus!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Gut Wrenching Pain

Even although it might look on the outside that we are doing "fine", on the inside there is heart wrenching pain, or gut wrenching pain.

It is never a good idea to ask somebody who has recently been torn apart from a family member by death, "How are you?" Human being are so complex, that you can't answer a question like that with a simple "fine" or "good". Even although you might be doing fine spiritually and physically, you are probably not doing so great emotionally and then there is the grieving stupor, that prevents you from connecting a lot of your thoughts one to the other. That it makes it difficult to accomplish even the simplist of tasks. In that department I'm doing a lot better than at first, but it is still pretty crazy sometimes. Especially since we have these two strands of grief that are threatening to choke us, the grief of losing a big chunk of our business and the grief of losing our daughter. It is hard to tell apart which emotions are related to which grief. Oh, it is all so crazy. Oh God! Keep me from drowning in my grief.

I want to post my tribute to Renee that I did in Vancouver, but I have not had the energy to do that. And I don't if it would be helpful.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Blessed Assurance

I forgot to mention something in my previous blog, so I will quickly write another one.


The sunset picture was taken on March 2, as we were on our way to the Mennville Church where we would say, "See you later, Renee, our precious, lovely daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece and friend, waiting for the day when we will see you again."

Till then we must do all we can to spread the message of hope.

While I was preparing lunch, on the 18th of March, a song came to my mind - "Blessed Assurance", one of the many hymns written by Fanny Crosby. This was a hymn that I sung and played on the piano a lot when I was pregnant with Renee. As a result of hearing it so much before she even was born, it was also one of her favorite hymns.

Why did it come to my mind now on her birthday? The Holy Spirit does those kind of things.

This hymn became one of my favorites, among others such as "I Have Found a Friend in Jesus" during all the grief we went through in losing our first two children. "Blessed Assurance" is the one that kept coming back to me more than any of the others. God even arranged for the worship team at Eastview Community Church to include that song in the service when Ray and I were accepted as members. Wow! is that awesome or what!

We read Psalm 36 this morning. Verses 5, 6 & 9: "Your unfailing love, O Lord is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteouness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Renee!

Happy Birthday, Renee!

Now I finally have time to write this birthday letter. Hope I don't have to go off to the lawyer in between to sign more papers, on account of that buy/sell agreement, which makes us feel like we have been cut into a million pieces with a machete knife, or like there are so many strands of vines, wrapping themselves around us, choking the life out of us, and we need a machete knife to chop our way out of the thick darkness of the jungle before all life gets sucked out of us. Like you said, maybe a good old fashioned prophet could have come in handy here, but I'm sure nobody knows what that was supposed to mean, except your dad and I, and maybe a few close friends.

I started this day off by listening to Jennifer Knapp's version of the Lord's prayer, "Hallowed" which was also one of the songs I played for you on my iPod, that Monday afternoon when you wanted to listen to some music, when you were feeling so anxious. I also listened to some of the pieces from the Jonathan Helser album, which for some reason I had overlooked and had not listened to till the day after the memorial service in Vancouver. It was such a powerful experience that morning. Wow! I can't even describe it! It felt like you were speaking the words of the songs to me. "Likeness of Jesus" and the instrumental Prelude is what I listened to this morning.

And of course, I had to have a good cup of coffee, at least as good as it could be with the brand of coffee that your dad bought. This brand he got was about half the price of Kicking Horse, and it was such a huge package. Will just have to drink lots of coffee. The sooner it is used up, the sooner I can buy something better. It is not too bad though. I don't know what you would have to say about it.

Back to that Jonathan Helser album. I sure would like to know what you were thinking about, when you put all this music on my iPod two weeks before you were promoted to glory, like the "Peering from Heaven" one, a beautiful instrumental piece. The one after that, "I've Seen I Am" is the one that really got me going. I was crying so hard.

And I don't really care if this makes everybody cry, all the people that read this. It seemed like my thoughts were being blown in the wind when I wrote my blogs those four months when I was in New York. It doesn't really matter. It was mostly for therapeutic reasons that I wrote the blogs.

This is is a beautiful day, because you brought so much joy and beauty into our family and this is the day that the Lord has made. We are left here to carry on the work that God has for each of us, to proclaim the truth of the gospel in whatever way God has called us to. There is so much to do and it is so urgent. We don't know when our time will be up.

I want people to be able to say of me when I am gone that I lived a full life, as they did of you. I know I wasted many years, feeling sorry for myself. I am very sorry, but I am so thankful for God's mercy and grace and I want to make the best use of all the remaining years that are allotted to me.

"Only one life, twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last."

I made Beef and Cabbage Stir-fry for lunch for Kara and I. That was one of the recipes, I printed off at the hospital, before we had a printer at the apartment. I never got around to making it for you. We happened to have a head of cabbage in the fridge here. I don't know how or who or what. But I am sure it is not the head of cabbage that Justin bought in New York. Dad asked that last day what you were hungry for and you said cabbage soup, but not to make the pieces too big. I was feeling kind of woozy from donating stem cells, but I was planning to make the soup for you later. But it never happened. I didn't even eat supper. We were all getting very concerned when you were starting to have trouble breathing. I eventually ate three packages of crackers, when I realized that I hadn't eaten supper.

I felt so helpless. I wish there was something we could have done. Maybe suggested a lighter chemo protocol or something, or started treating the diarrhea sooner. It was so hard to leave the hospital, when we realized there was nothing else we could do for you. You had been promoted to glory and didn't need us anymore. You are now safe in the arms of Jesus.

Your brother and two sisters still need us. I hope that the five of us can go out to remember your birthday today. We have not had very much time to be together, just the five of us. Now it will always be just the five of us. We will miss you terribly.

It doesn't matter how much people say that it was just your time to go, and even although we want to believe it, there will always be a big empty spot in our family. There will be tears because of the pain of missing you, but also smiles because of all the joy and beauty you brought into our lives.

You loved life and the lives of everybody you met, as one of your friends said. You had such a passion for the homeless and less fortunate. A passion for justice and to mobilize people into missions and to proclaim the truth. To know that you impacted so many people in your few short years helps to bring me some comfort in having had to say good bye to you so soon.

How is it up there or wherever heaven is? It might not be up. I hope there are llamas (inside joke), beautiful kitty cats, puppy dogs and lots of really good ethnic food, if that is what you need to make you happy there. Though your flesh failed you, nothing can stop you from praising the Lord you loved you so much and the One you loved with all your heart, soul and mind.

I'm sorry that you were born with SCIDS and I'm sorry that you got leukemia and that you relapsed. Sorry that you got the infection in your lung and sorry that you had to get more chemo. Sorry that I did not just cry with you when you were feeling so overwhelmed when you found out that you would have to get more chemo before the transplant. Why did I have to preach at you? I am so sorry. My intentions were good. I just wanted to remind you that the Lord is our Shepherd, but you knew that. I wouldn't have had to remind you.

I am so thankful for all the people that prayed for you. I am thankful that Pastor Gordie shared part of the prayer of St. Patrick with you. That you got it printed and kept it with you. I don't know whether you thought about it a lot or not. I wish now I had asked you about it. Your friend Wade did such a good job of presenting it at the memorial services we had for you.

It was nice to get to know some of your friends a bit better, although the circumstances sucked. It is good to know that God's love is measured, not by circumstances, but by the cross. I am also thankful that God's love is more powerful than all the evil in this world. There is so much of that. Seems so hopeless sometimes. That reminds me of your tattoo - the word hope in the Cambodian language. I am thinking of getting a tattoo with the word hope in one form or another. That is maybe a bit crazy, but I will really think about it. I was going to do it in Vancouver, but that was a bit too soon. Maybe in New York, if I can find out where you got yours done. I will just get Justin to design it.

The sun is shining so beautifully today, making the snow sparkle. Reminds me of you, always bringing a sparkle with you wherever you went. Like Monique said, you are like a diamond, with so many different facets. People saw you in many different ways, a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, niece, friend, fellow YWAMMER, fellow WAVER, ESL volunteer, student, class mate, employee, and on and on. And for the doctors and nurses you were a patient, never complaining. Your quiet strength was evident to all. Your writing and photography was an inspiration to everybody. Why someone, who had so much she wanted to do, had to go so soon, we will never know. It doesn't make any sense.

Renee, we will always miss you, and look forward to the day when we will see you again.

With love, from your mama.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Mother's Tribute to her daughter

“Left to Blossom”
A Mother’s Tribute to her Daughter
“Left to Blossom” is also the title of a film Renee co-produced
while studying at Capilano College

I am quite sure that everybody who is here would rather be doing something else, but you came because either you knew Renee, or her family including Niki. Last night, I was feeling very overwhelmed about the whole thing and I was wondering why we had ever thought that this was a good idea. We will get through it somehow. It would help if it wasn’t be too long and drawn out.

It would have been a lot more fun to visit Renee than to have this memorial service. Coming to Renee’s beloved Vancouver and Renee not being here feels very wrong. But I feel like she is saying to me: “Mom, it is okay. I want you to enjoy a cup of good coffee and I want you to enjoy shopping and eating at some of the many wonderful places along The Drive. It is okay for you to love Vancouver, because I loved it so much.” It’s like she is saying, “It’s okay, because I am now in a place that is much more beautiful, more beautiful than you can imagine. I am with Jesus now and with Kris and Jason. There is no pain here, and no tears. Don’t you just wish you could be here too?” “Yes, Renee, I do, but it’s not my time yet.” “It is okay, Mom, you just keep doing what God wants you to do.” “Okay, Renee, I want to do what I can to proclaim the message of hope.”

One of the things that I feel God wants me to do is to let go of the pain. After Kris and Jason died, I felt like I needed to hang on to my pain. It was as if the pain was all I had, and if I would let go of the pain, I would have nothing left. I was trying to find comfort in my pain. In that case, pain can take the place of God. God wants us to find comfort in Him. That doesn’t mean the pain will go away. It will still be there, ebbing and flowing through everything we do. I don’t want to be consumed by it.

We experienced many answers to prayer and we experienced God’s presence with us every day during those four months in New York. Thank you to all of you for holding Renee and us up in prayer. God made it so evident to us that He is a God of comfort and that He cares. But we have to always remember that we can’t measure the love and goodness of God by our circumstances, but by the cross.

I am the mother of six children, three who are walking with us on this earth and three who are soaring with the angels in heaven. I already mentioned Kris and Jason. Kris went to be with Jesus, after being in and out of the hospital for three years. That was back in ’77. Eighteen months later, Jason also went to be with Jesus when he was only 8 months old. The three that are still with us, are Renee’s brother Justin, and her two sisters, Alayna and Karalee. I feel honored to be the mother of this beautiful, unique family.

We are here today to remember the life of Renee, the third one of the three in our family that soars.

Renee was in New York for a total of ten months, since she was first diagnosed with leukemia on June 26, 2005. It was my privilege as her mother to be there for Renee, on this journey. It was so hard to see her suffer, but I will always treasure this time we had together. Renee’s enthusiasm and joy in living affected me very deeply. During this time I was with Renee in New York in ’05, where she was treated for the leukemia, Renee told me that she was sure glad she had been born!

The title for this tribute is “Left to Blossom”. It seemed like a fitting title. It is the title of a short film Renee co-produced while studying at Capilano College. A song that was sung at both of the memorial services for our first two was about “blooming forever in the Master’s bouquet.”

Renee, the first of our three daughters was born on March 18, 1984. After being with us for 24 years minus 3 weeks, Renee left us on February 26 to continue blossoming in heaven. The photo birth announcement card we made when Renee was born said, “There is a little bit of heaven beneath our roof”.

The name we chose for that little bundle of joy was Renee Amaryah Lalani – Renee is French for “Born Again”, Amaryah is Hebrew for “God has promised” and Lalani, a Hawaiian name meaning “heavenly flower”. There seems to be a bit of a heavenly theme going here. In my baby name book, for the name Leilani, of which Lalani is a variant, it says, “Was it the wild ginger blossom or bird-of-paradise flower for which this girl was named?” (For the memorial services in Manitoba, we chose wild ginger and bird-of-paradise without realizing the significance. I can only explain it as the leading of the Holy Spirit.)

Renee, we will always remember you, sometimes with tears, but also with lots of smiles, for all the beauty and joy you brought into our lives.

I’m so grateful for all the wonderful memories we have of Renee and for all the people that had a part in her life.

Renee always packed as much as possible into every day. “Much to say, and much to see, On the go dear, child of three”. Those are the words on the little bell we gave to Renee on her third birthday. It was almost scary at times. Renee loved going to camp. She would go to as many camps as possible in one summer: Beaver Creek Bible Camp, horsemanship camp, and music camp. Trying to fit family time into her busy schedule was rather difficult.

Renee, I’m so thankful that you loved Jesus, our God and Savior with all your heart, soul and mind, serving Him in whatever capacity you could, working at camp, teaching Sunday School and being a youth leader. I am glad that you decided to do the DTS with YWAM after graduating from high school and later being on staff at the Vancouver base. I’m so very happy that you got to go Jordan and Greece, an outreach with YWAM, and that you were obedient to God’s calling to join the WAVE USA.

But why Renee did not get to do all fifty states, we will never know. On account of being diagnosed with leukemia when the WAVE USA team was in Cleveland, Ohio. Renee only made it to twenty six states.

Renee, I’m so thankful that you were in remission for two years, although if you would never have relapsed that would have been even better.

I’m glad that you could study film production at Capilano and you got to work in the industry for a few months. You would have loved to continue, and some day start your own business, to produce all those films you dreamed about, but the devastating leukemia came back.

It was very special that I could be there for Renee in New York during treatments for six months in ’05 and now during her last four months, even although the circumstances sucked.

Renee, I’ll always cherish those ten months we had together, doing things together when you felt up to it, whether it was going to art museums, to the park, or going out to eat at some of the many wonderful restaurants, enjoying all that yummy ethnic food, or watching movies together and countless hours of TV. And I will also always cherish all those conversations you and I had.

It was a joy to cook for Renee, although there where many days after chemo, when she did not know what she was hungry for or was just not able to eat at all. But once her appetite was back, I got to make those delicious dishes she requested. As a result of her taste for ethnic food, I ended up with quite the collection of herbs and spices. Cooking our last Christmas dinner together, never once thinking that it would be our last, will always be a very special memory.

Renee was quite passionate about coffee. Apparently that is what happens if you live in Vancouver. So thanks to Renee, I am now also somewhat of a coffee snob.

Renee, I’m so happy that on my birthday, just two weeks before you were promoted to glory we could go out to a Persian restaurant, to enjoy the world’s oldest cuisine and that we could walk to Central Park together in the snow, one of the few snow days we had all winter in New York. That you were feeling well enough to do this was the most special birthday gift I could have ever wished for.

Renee talked her dad into getting an iPod for me for my birthday. Thank you, Renee, and thank you so very much for uploading all those songs by your favorite artists for me. Listening to those songs now, helps me to understand even better your passions, beliefs and desires. You will be happy to know, that I am actually starting to appreciate Jason Upton, now that I can understand the words better.

And Renee, thanks a million for the CD you made for me before Christmas with some of your favorite worship music.

These songs have been such a blessing to me and that CD will always be one of my most treasured possessions.

We played that CD over and over again on Renee’s last day while we were waiting for her sisters to arrive. But Renee could not hang on long enough, because their flight was delayed. I’m so glad that Renee’s brother was there, because he had not seen Renee since she went back to New York.

I’m so sorry, Renee, that I could not do more for you. I feel like I let you down. I felt so helpless, so sorry you relapsed and had to go back to New York, and sorry that you had leukemia in the first place, sorry that you were born with the Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. Sorry that you got the lung infection. Sorry that you had to get more chemo.

Renee, I’m so sorry that we had to say good-bye to you so soon. The tears are about us, about our pain in losing a precious daughter, a loving sister, a wonderful friend, cousin, granddaughter and niece.

To know that Renee impacted so many people in her short time on this earth brings me comfort.

And God is the God of all comfort.

We may never know the answer to our many whys and what-ifs, but we need to trust in God’s love, as Renee did. As a result of her suffering, Renee came to the conclusion that it was not so much about the answers, as it was about the questions.

We prayed and asked lots and lots of people to pray. We trusted God and hoped that this upcoming transplant was going to be successful, as was the first one Renee had when she was four months old and Renee would be able to continue with her mission of serving God “To mobilize the church into missions, and to see truth proclaimed through the arts”.

For reasons we do not understand this was not to be. Renee was spared from further suffering and she is now in the place where we all want to be, a place with no more tears and no more pain.

I know Renee does not want to be remembered as the girl with cancer, but as a woman with a passion for justice and peace, a heart for the less fortunate, proclaiming a message of hope. Her visit to Cambodia where she saw so much pain inspired her to get the Cambodian word for hope tattooed on her ankle. Renee’s life was a good example of what it means to serve the truth of the gospel.

I’m praying that many will step forward to carry on the work that Renee wanted to do for God.

Renee, I know you could have done a much better job of writing this, but I did the best I could. If you had edited it, you would probably have cut out at least one third of it. So now this is your mama saying, “See you later, Renee. I love so very much. We all love you and will all miss you terribly much.
Give Kris and Jason lots of hugs from me and of course Jesus too. I’ll be with you again some day.”

“Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King.” I am looking forward to that day when the King will return, “when those who have died will rise from their graves and then together with them, we who remain on earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with Him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words.”

Please take a copy of The Living LifeLight with you tonight to share with someone who needs it. I took the picture on the cover in Central Park NYC during one of my many meditation times there in 2005 during Renee’s 1st hospitalization.

Thank you so much for coming.

WHEN HE COMETH
When He cometh, when He comethTo make up His jewels,All His jewels, precious jewels,His loved and His own.
Like the stars of the morning,His brightness adorning,They shall shine in their beauty,Bright gems for His crown.
He will gather, He will gatherThe gems for His kingdom;All the pure ones, all the bright ones,His loved and His own.
Little children, little children,Who love their Redeemer,Are the jewels, precious jewels,His loved and His own.
Monique called Renee a multi-faceted diamond. She was a daughter, sister, friend, cousin, a passionate leader, and she showed various facets of her strength to different people. We appreciate hearing the facets of the diamond you saw in her.

I saw her as very intelligent, compassionate, artistic, organized, etc. She used both sides of her brain, while never drawing attention to herself. She wanted everyone to learn to appreciate her Savior and Lord, Jesus.

What can you do to further her ministry? What can we do? Print her pictures in a book? Her writings? Your tributes?