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The Road Where Steven Died May 23, 2009

Posted by Theresa Madden in Bible, Counseling, Family, Feelings, Grief, Thoughts.
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2 comments

I grew up going up and down Highway 38 to the coast. So many times I’ve traveled that road, and it has always been Highway 38.

Today I realized it is not Highway 38 anymore.

Today was the first day I have traveled that road in over 2 years. I haven’t been on it since before my son Steven was in his accident. I did not go and see where it happened. I did not want to. I didn’t want to memorialize where he lost his life, to see the awful sight. I wanted to remember him in my heart.

Today on the spur of the moment we went to the coast. A few miles outside of town it dawned on me that we were on ‘the road where Steven died’. Then the turmoil in my heart and mind began. Did I want to know where, did I not want to know where?

Did I search all the way to the coast the areas where I thought it could have been from the remembered description? Yes. And on the way back did I search again? Yes. All the while not sure if I really wanted to know or not.

When Steven died my daughter in law Shyla and I requested that no flowers be put there. No markers. I feel it is so morbid. Why do that when all it brings is more grief. Then going back again and again to relive it. No thank you.

Today is a day of so many mixed emotions. Do I bust out crying or hold it in. If you know me, you know I am a master at holding it in. For over 30 years I thought that I couldn’t cry…once is enough and the mourning is over. Thankfully I did go to counseling about 6 months after Steven died and learn that is not the case. It is okay and good. I do feel a little off now, I think that is why. It’s a weird almost sick feeling, and yes I’m going to cry. Again, mourning my children; Steven and Karen who he has now joined in heaven with Jesus. I cannot say that they were taken before their time, or taken too early.  I cannot say no parent should lose a child. I cannot say no one should lose a spouse. I cannot say my children should not lose a brother. I cannot say my grandchildren should not have lost their father. Who am I to say that? Only the Lord knows if it is 1 day, 1 year or 29 years.  Psalm 139.15 All the days ordained for me  were written in your book before one of them came to be. HE knows every moment, every breath we will take. HE knows the lives we will touch, in our living and in our dying. And in that, I will trust the LORD.

The road…one of these days perhaps I’ll ask one of the people who knows where it happened and have them show me. There are only 3 in my family that know. I’m not sure yet. I’m almost afraid to know. Afraid that will become a focus when I drive down the road and I don’t want it to be. I didn’t go see the pickup either for the same reason. Why have that in my head to replay the picture.   From the descriptions at the time I already have a picture, but not so graphic and one that will fade more as time goes on.

Highway 38 is now ‘the road where Steven died’.

I think healing is taking place November 12, 2008

Posted by Theresa Madden in Faith, Family, Feelings, God, Grief, Love.
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I think healing has really begun taking place in our family. It is such a slow process. Now that our girls are living back at home temporarily we are able to really love on each other and support each other.
When our 29 year old son Steven was killed in a car accident in August 2007 Katie was 12 hours away attending college. Amanda was living at home, she moved out in December of 2007 to be on her own.
Katie really had no one to talk to, or get hugs from, or understand what she was going through. Amanda was grieving silently as well. We would talk occasionally, mostly just hugs and crying. Avoidance seemed to be the best way to deal with it. Not talking about him, because to talk meant to cry. To cry hard. We all were hanging on by a thread
Last evening we were all just being together, playing Wii and having fun, laughing. And today, sitting around visiting, comfortable. And laughing, oh it is sooo good to laugh again, freely. As a family together, I just really felt today that we are starting to heal. The girls went up to see our daughter-in-law and grandchildren for a few days last week. They had a nice visit, and she (dil) opened up with them a bit. She needs so much prayer, I don’t get to see her or the grand-kids nearly as often as I would like.

And today, I think maybe I can write to the recipient of Steven’s heart. We received a letter from him a few months ago, from the Donor Center. I have held on to it, hoping one day to be able to communicate. I don’t know what I will write yet or even if the communication will stop at this one letter. Do I know yet if I could actually meet him? If I could hug him? Lay my head on his chest? Feel Steven’s heart beating, hear it? No. If it is to be, it will be the Lord’s doing.
I know that there are others who were given a second chance, we know a bit about them, their first names, ages, states and family situations. I think in all Steven was able to help 4 people.

I believe with all my heart, my Savior and Lord Jesus has kept us together. He has walked with us every step of the journey. Giving us strength when we had none, helping us to get through one day at a time, one hour at a time. The many changes that have taken place in this last year, many so hard to bear. There have been good things too, and for those blessings I am eternally grateful.

Thank you Lord for your many blessings. Father, for so much that I am not even aware of. So many ways You have protected us and loved us.

2 Corinthians 1:2-4 (NIV)
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

One year ago today… August 27, 2008

Posted by Theresa Madden in Bible, Counseling, Faith, Family, Feelings, God, Grief, Journal, Love, Prayer, Testimony.
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One year ago today our world changed. Our son Steven was in a horrible car accident on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2007. And he died one day later Monday, Aug. 27, 2007 without ever regaining consciousness. Did I pray over him, absolutely. Did I long to see his eyes open one more time, his smile? Yes, with all my heart, YES. Just one time. Was it to be? No. In that time I knew, God prepared my heart and gave me the knowledge that Steven was not going to walk this earth anymore. Is there still grief? Yes, at times unbearable. But, it doesn’t consume my life (at least anymore). I don’t walk around in a daze like I did for the first little while, thinking I was doing ok, but in reality looking like I was going to shatter into a million pieces any second.

How have we gotten along? I have no answers for the rest of the family, we are all in different stages of grief, some still very angry and confused, some have run from God because they don’t understand.

I can only answer for myself. My hope is in Christ. I am confident that Steven will be in heaven when we get there. In January I did go to counseling for about 3 months, and it was good! Good, godly counsel is so important.

And these last couple of months I have been spending hours upon hours with the Lord. Really searching my heart. Going outside, alone with Him, my journal, my bible. His Word is truth and He is drawing me ever deeper into it. He is my salvation.

This is what He asks us to do. And these are His promises.
Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. NIV
James 4:8 Come near to God, and God will come near to you. NIV
Psalms 145:18 The Lord is near to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him in truth. NIV

Psalms 73:28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge… NIV

God is so faithful, as I woke this morning I didn’t feel the sadness I had expected to feel. Just peace. His peace which passes all understanding.

Will I feel sadness today at times? Without a doubt.
Will I cry? Without a doubt, as right now testifies.
Will I dwell in that sadness? No.
Will I run to the Lord to comfort me? Yes
Will I pray for my family? Yes

Will I praise Him today? Yes – and everyday.

My Pitcher August 18, 2008

Posted by Theresa Madden in Devotions/Quiet Time, Faith, Feelings, God, Grief, Journal, Love, Prayer, Testimony, Thoughts.
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08/08/08 The day was finally here. The day for my pitcher. Since May I knew that one day I would throw this pitcher to the ground, shatter it, and put it back together again. A picture of my life, and allowing the Lord to put me back together again. In the way He desires, not I.
And if you know anything about me, I am a perfectionist (trying oh so hard not to be). To put that pitcher back together, having cracks show (uneven ones at that), glue bulging out everywhere, and that huge hole! Oh my…
Holding the pitcher in my hands, I was so hesitant to throw it on the ground. Nervous for what the Lord wanted to show me, scared for what He might show me, ready for what He would show me. Deep breath and then I flung it to the ground, CRACK! I can’t really describe well the feelings that followed; relief, calm, peace, expectant, love. But so much more in an inexplicable way.

The Lord and I spent most of the day together out on the back patio, talking, listening, learning, reading, writing. It took hours to glue the pitcher back together. I started out really smashing the pieces together hard so the seams wouldn’t show. I don’t think I was listening. Gradually, as the imperfections continued to be blatantly obvious the Lord showed me that the pitcher would not be the same size. Using hot glue, no way that was going to happen. The harder I tried to make one seam meld perfectly together, the larger the opposing seam would get. Anyway back to learning…I realized the pitcher would be slightly larger and that was okay.
So, back by the handle is where I started, and it was going to be perfectly put back together. Oh, that would be according to my perfection. So already it was a mess – because that is what my human perfection is, a mess. You can see that the closer I got to completion (the front center/spout section) the larger the seams got.
It’s like my life, trying so hard to help God when there is no need to. HE is able, I just need to be available, willing, lead-able, and teachable.

The biggest lesson of all? The huge hole in the side…I found the large top piece and thought I would snug it right in there, I knew there was one below but I was sure it would go right in later. So, I snugged that big one in. Then I really looked at the hole…and thought, ‘oops’. I found the piece that went there and spent the next 1/2 hour trying to make it fit. Oh did I try, and finally I thought I would just sort of push it in as much as I could which was about 1mm and then glue around the edges for protection…U.G.L.Y. Man was it ugly, it looked like this huge disgusting growth. Well, stubborn that I am, I left it on until the pitcher was completed…I thought it was telling me something. And it was, only not what I thought. I tried to reason that it was a picture of the bumps and turns, that I’m not perfect, everyone else knows I’m not perfect and I’m bumpy and rough sometimes. The big ugly bump has smooth edges now with all the glue surrounding it. Even in the bumps God loves me. Really? The only part of that whole scenario that is true is the very last line ‘Even in the bumps God loves me.’

What was the Lord telling me? Again, I was using my own strength, my own desires to make it fit where it no longer belonged. I cannot move forward in my relationship with God when I try so hard. I cannot do what He has called me to do if I am still holding on to something else. I had to remove it, and so for the next hour I struggled to pry it off. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to remove something in our lives we know does not belong there? It takes perseverance, the strong desire to place the will of God before my will. It takes time. When I finally got it off, the relief and sense of well-being was almost tangible. And it was the end of my struggle with God, of me trying to be where I wanted to be. I thought it was the right place, and for a time it was. Maybe it will be again. Only the Lord knows, and I am content.

What happened to the piece of pottery that I pried off? I thought I would keep in in the bottom of the pitcher, as a symbol of my surrender to God. Of His lordship. I cleaned up everything and placed my pitcher on the table. About an hour later I thought ‘Oh, I need to look at the pitcher.’ I picked up the pitcher and immediately looked inside for the ‘symbolic’ piece. It wasn’t there. Panic! Where could it be? I must have accidentally thrown it away. As it thought I’ll go find it, another voice came to me. Not audibly, but in my spirit. ‘Do you think it was really an accident that it was thrown away?’ And I realized it was not, it was the Lord’s purpose. His will that I not hold on to it. He knew I would look at the shard, pick it up and think of what I gave up, desire to have it back, maybe even try to place it in the hole every now and again. He wants me to remember the sweet surrender, the filling of my heart, mind and spirit with Him. His love, His forgiveness, His mercy, and His grace. He wants me to look at the hole and see Him, see His love pouring out. So, in the trash it remained.

Cracks of all different sizes, some almost hidden, others large. This world has hold of us in many ways, as we have hold of it. Some is held tightly, some loosely. I believe for me the smaller cracks are the things I gave up willingly, easily for the Lord. The larger cracks…those that I struggled more with. And the huge hole? A turning point in my life. Where does it lead? I don’t know. But He does and I will follow, in His time.

Lord, only you know the deepest recesses of my heart. Only you know if there are any more ‘shards’ needing removed. I pray Lord that this process would not hurt anyone else. Change is most always painful in one way or another – but in doing Your will it is so worth it. I have learned You are so much better, living in Your will, walking the path that only I can walk.

Where did this journey with My Pitcher begin? Here, with Angie Smith.

Where will this journey end with My Pitcher? When Jesus returns for his bridegroom – all who have acknowledged Him as the Risen King, the One True God, ALL who have asked Jesus into their hearts. Kneeling at my Saviors feet, praising Him for all eternity, thanking Him for all He has done for me. Good times, bad times. Yes, even the trials, the sorrows, for without them I would not be able to see how much He truly loves me. Flawed…yet made whole in Christ.

p.s. My pitcher sets in my family room. I look at it often. I pick it up and thank the Lord for His great love. It goes to my table with me when I go outside in the mornings to spend time with the Jesus. Sometimes the light of a candle shines through the cracks, through the hole. Again I am reminded, the more He works in me, the more shards or cracks there are, the more His light will shine through me. From every angle Lord, let Your light shine!

p.p.s. Just before I threw it I looked at the bottom, it said ‘English Staffordshire China’, and briefly thought “I can’t break this!” Then the thought came to me, ‘What better to break?’ Aren’t we to give our best?

A Poignant Reminder May 31, 2008

Posted by Theresa Madden in Faith, Family, God, Grief, Love, Prayer, Testimony.
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7 comments

It is time to pull out the poem that was given to me when my daughter Karen died unexpectedly at 1 1/2 years of age in 1977. I myself had just turned 18. I don’t read it often but remember many of the lines. They have been a huge comfort. Although I was not walking with the Lord, I did know Christ. He held me together even though I did not know it, even though I did not grieve as I should have.

When my son Steven died in a car accident last August at 29 years of age I couldn’t read this. I kept it in my heart for Karen. I have been walking with the Lord for many years now. About 10 years ago I fully gave my children Steven, Katie, and Amanda over to the Lord. The kids were 19, 9, 8 respectively. I realized I could not always keep them safe, nor make decisions for them. We are told not to worry in the bible, but to pray. So pray I did, surrendering them completely to the Lord’s will for each of their lives. I could only teach them, and show them the Lord, most especially through my walk with Him. And love them, no matter what, love. And the love I pour out to them is so worth it, so worth the cost. Unconditionally.

This poem is by Edgar Guest.

“I’ll lend you for a little while

A child of mine,” He said.

“For you to love the while he lives

And mourn when he is dead.

It may be six or seven years, or

Twenty two or three,

But will you ’til I call him back,

Take care of him for Me?

He’ll bring his charms to gladden you,

And should his days be brief,

You’ll have his lovely memories

As solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay,

Since all from earth return,

But there are lessons taught down there

I want this child to learn.

I’ve looked this wide world over

In my search for teachers true,

And from the throngs that crowd life’s lane,

I have selected you.

Now will you give all your love,

Nor think the labor vain,

Nor hate Me when I come to call

To take him back again?”

I fancy that I heard them say,

“Dear Lord, Thy will be done.

For all the joy this child shall bring,

The risk of grief we’ll run;

We’ll shelter him with tenderness,

We’ll love him while we may,

And for the happiness we’ve known

Forever grateful stay.

But should the angels call for him,

Much sooner then we’ve planned,

We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes

And try to understand.”

My prayer is that as we read these words we are comforted, we understand these children are loaned to us for a time. They are not ours, they are really our Fathers. We care for them, love them, treasure them and give them to the One who loves them the most. For His glory alone. Unconditionally.

Life is HARD!! April 12, 2008

Posted by Theresa Madden in Faith, Family, God, Love, Prayer, Testimony, Thoughts.
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14 comments

This has been a really, really, really, really long and hard 18 months. I left the kids worship ministry, my mom-in-law died, my oldest daughter moved away to college, I left a band, a new grandchild was born (my 3rd), my son died (the second of my children to die), my cousin whom we cared for for 15 months died, my youngest daughter moved out on her own, and this morning our cat Mindy, who we’ve had for 16 years (since she was a baby) died. It truly is just the two of us at our home now.

I’m not one to elevate our pet to the category “person”, but still that’s a long time. We buried Mindy up on the hill behind my husbands sisters house. And on the way home it just really felt different. That there really is no one home to rely on us, if we are together – that’s it, us. We truly are in a new place in our lives.

I am soooo thankful I know the Lord, and He knows me. I know there is no way to make it through it all without Him. Thank you Jesus. There is nothing I can go through that He has not already experienced. When my son died, I didn’t question God, I knew that it was his time. As I was praying – I was about to say that You don’t know Lord what it’s like. As the words were starting to leave my mouth – I stopped. YOU DO! Oh Lord, You do know what it is like to lose Your Son. Many times I’ve heard “there is nothing that I can go through that He has not already gone through. It was so driven home to me here. THAT is my comfort, that is what I think upon, He has already been there. He DOES know what I’m feeling. He alone is my shelter, my comfort. He alone is my rock. Without Christ I think by now I’d be a lunatic.

I love the old hymns, I’ve sung them since I was a small child. I’ve been singing a couple of them all day.

Through it all, through it all
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus
I’ve learned to trust in God
Through it all, through it all
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

My Hope Is Built

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.