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 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 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.