Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mile Markers

I never noticed mile markers until we moved to North Carolina.  I think because on southern California freeways I was always going waay too fast to notice.  But since living here, I have learned to slow down - what a gift!  And when I drive on the highways here, I mark the time by the markers that go by on the side of the road.  When we drive down to Disneyworld, mile markers are much more significant because each one means we're closer to the destination.

And I think our journey with God has its own set of mile markers... just like driving on the highway, some markers are more significant than others.  Some bring with them anticipation and joy.  Others bring heartache and disappointment... But they all bring us closer to the destination - living with focus on things that are eternal and not fleeting; understanding God's blessing in each moment.

This week our family experienced a significant mile marker - one marked by heartbreak ...  Last Saturday, as Dustin and Kate were washing the car in the driveway and our Bichon, Chloe was on her leash in the garage, a pitbull came up to the edge of our garage door.  Before Dustin could get between them, the pitbull ran into the garage and attacked our little Chloe, pinning her to the ground and thrashing her around.  Kate ran and hid behind the bushes while Dustin beat the dog off of Chloe with a golf club and then chased it down the street with a golf club.  I called 911, got Kate inside and took Chloe to the emergency vet clinic, where she stayed for the next 4 days.  Each time we visited her at the clinic she was in worse shape than the last.  Finally, on Tuesday afternoon, Dustin and I had to make the heartbreaking decision to put her to sleep.  Chloe had literally "grown up" with Dustin and I - we brought her home 5 months after we were married, and at the time (just out of college) we joked that we felt like we were "playing house".  We were kids still, in many ways, and Chloe was right there with us as we learned what living with someone was like, learned to communicate like married people, failed and succeeded at parenting many times and moved 4 times.  Chloe had sat under my feet when my friend, Krista and I flew out here with Kate and Trent, moving everything and praying that God would take care of the details of our new life in North Carolina.  She was an awesome dog - quirky, but awesome just the same ;)

But the big lessons of this difficult mile marker have come in how we are choosing to respond as a family.  I have never really had to grieve the loss of a close family member... I know a lot of people may say " Geez, it is JUST a dog" - and I've said it before myself, so I can totally understand that.  But, in my world, this has been a difficult time for us.  I think mile markers like this are when I mostly go, "Man, I am totally ill equipped for so many of life's hurdles and unexpected curves in the road.  I sooo do not know how to respond when my daughter cries about wanting to say goodbye to Chloe just one last time.  "Why does it have to be so hard Mommy?"   It's times like this that I just get really frank and honest with my kids and say, "I just don't have a good answer sweet pea.  It is so hard to lose Chloe because we loved her so much.  And our hearts hurt.  And it's is ok to be angry and sad and afraid - God understands ALL of that.  And He CARES so much about all of the things we feel."

Mostly, I know my answers to the grief my kids feel is not going to be enough.  I am not enough for them.  The joy comes in knowing that I do know where they can turn and that Jesus will, beyond a doubt, carry that burden of grief for them.  I'm excited that we are able to feel it together, that we can honestly share with our Creator as a family and that He hears every cry.

This mile marker is not a fun one, but it is one of purpose and helping to sanctify me, through the power of the Holy Spirit, day by day.

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