Into an Ocean of Grief

My dad passed away fairly suddenly on Valentine’s Day. I wrote these words a few days after, in a state of shock, haze, and grief. May this be a reminder of the fragility of life and of a hope that stands even when life is hard.


In the rapid falling of dominos in motion,
A whirlwind came and dropped me in the ocean.
Days drenched in hope quickly became days of despair,
With no sight of familiar shores anywhere.

His mortal shell could take no more of the domino toll,
For it was weary from all that cancer gave and stole.
Once so strong he quickly grew so weak,
And his spirit knew that the situation was bleak.

I’ll never forget those boney limbs and yellow skin,
Screaming of the multitude of cancer’s assaults within.
Nor will I forget eyes half-open yet seemingly unaware,
And arms that kept moving until our embrace found them there.

Twenty-seven years were not enough, no number ever would be,
But I didn’t expect to find myself so soon in this uncharted sea.
Normal will never return because he is not here,
Only days in and that truth is crystal clear.

Today the ocean feels so deep and vast,
Though I may see beauty too once time has passed.
For I know that the waters will someday turn tranquil,
When I look back on memories for which I am thankful.

Planes, trains, and grins that made me smile too,
And a special sense of humor that always shone through.
The smell of hazelnut coffee reminding me of my childhood,
And all the little things he did that made that time good.

Yet even in time, I know the waves will still sometimes churn,
For mourning has no timeline and tends to repeat and return.
Now and then, I will be tossed to and fro like I am today,
For that is grief’s cruel and callous way.

Yet whether now or then, I do not dwell in stormy seas alone,
For many others have been tossed into similar oceans of their own.
And even though the sea seems too deep to chart,
There is One who knows its every single part.

When the waves roar and I find myself flailing about,
He walks on water, reaching His hand out.
Though the Great High Priest and Lord of lords,
He doesn’t hide from the hurting, but instead moves towards.

I need not hide my tears or messy feelings away,
For they do not have the power to make Love sway.
Jesus Himself knows what it means to weep,
And He is present now as I swim in emotions deep.

He gives me relief in ways I would not have asked for,
Yet still it comes, in ways I cannot ignore.
He loves us both more than I can understand,
And in that hope, I now choose to stand.

God with Us

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
And man dwelled in the garden without façade.
But sin shattered communion like glass beyond repair,
And sorrow became our inherited share.

Yet even on that day when all was made broken,
A promise of hope was firmly spoken.
For Love would not abandon His creation,
And so, He planned a way for salvation.

His promise was passed down through prophets of old,
Yet in time, the hope of many grew cold.
It seemed as if God were no longer there,
And if He was, perhaps He didn’t care.

Yet when God seemed silent and far away,
He sent messengers into the world to pave the way.
Emmanuel was coming into our mess!
Light would shine again in the deep darkness.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among the broken,
Fulfilling what God Himself had long ago spoken.
But He came in what many deemed a pitiful sight,
Not robed in royal splendor nor with weapons to fight.

Indeed, He entered in one of the most vulnerable states!
For He came to draw near to those in desperate, dire straits.
Grief and affliction were His chosen lot.
And He carried our sorrows though we esteemed him not.

By His presence, grace was made known,
And by His blood, God’s mercy shown.
On Him, our transgressions and iniquity were laid,
So our insurmountable debt could be finally paid.

Communion was restored for all who would believe,
And a promise was given that He would not leave.
Emmanuel, God with us, to the age’s end!
Our Savior, brother, and truest friend.

Centuries have passed, yet His promise and presence remain,
And He is still with us through every sorrow and pain.
God has not left us nor will He go away,
Emmanuel who was is still Emmanuel today.

Tossed at Sea

Tossed by every problem, and every word with its tone,
Anxiety has set deeply into every single bone.
My stomach is seasick, my body is tense,
And my mind is jaded from all this violent turbulence

The waves of circumstance and others’ opinions rage,
And I find myself drowning in fear’s cruel cage.
I cannot hold my pride-fueled façade much longer.
For these waves are many and all of them stronger.

My energy is finite and fading fast,
By my own power alone I cannot last.
I cannot help but fear that I will perish in these waves,
To be buried alive among the watery graves.

Yet in this desperate predicament, I’m learning I’m not alone,
There is One who has been with me for longer than I’ve known.
He is the one who even the wind and waves obey,
Who came to me though I’ve tried to sail away.

To Him, the deep waters are thoroughly charted,
And He knew my life’s journey before it had started.
He is good and His love will never fail,
So here I am now, with a white flag as my sail.

In this storm, like every other, He chooses to stay,
He will not abandon, give up, or betray.
He leads me and helps me navigate the ocean by His grace,
And in time, I forget all about my attempts of saving face.

He sometimes even calls me walk on the waves that should swallow,
To do what I thought was impossible before I began to follow.
He calls me His daughter and tells me I am now free,
I no longer need bow to the whim of the fickle sea,

The sea around still seems so deep and vast,
But only when I take my eyes off of Him who is steadfast.
Storms will still rage and my mind will still sometimes tire,
But He is with me now, no matter what may transpire.

A peace I do not understand descends,
As I grow in the One on whom my soul depends.
Slowly, I know it will set deeply into every single bone,
I will not be tossed by every problem and word with its tone.

Threadbare

I am weary, faded, and worn,
Like a threadbare cloth almost fully torn.
The threads of the warp and woof lay bare,
From the friction of the world and inner despair.

My heart is heavy from all that I see,
And the voices that scream so loudly within me.
Some days I feel so anxious and frail,
And overwhelmed by suffering’s massive scale.

How many times can a garment be repaired?
Is there hope that a worn one might still be spared?
Sometimes I feel like I’m just too far gone,
And I forget the promised hope of dawn.

My words are feeble, and I fear to speak.
But Lord, help me believe even when things look so bleak!
Don’t let me settle for mismatched, unshrunk patches,
Nor abandon myself to destructive fire and ashes.

Please don’t let these fragile threads break,
But oh, if they do, surely You can still make.
For, in Your skilled hands, nothing goes to waste,
Even holes and stubborn stains can be wholly erased.

You promised to finish every good work You ever began,
So help me to trust that You still have a plan.
You are still working, making like only You can do,
Making even seemingly hopeless things new.

Remember to Rest

We rush, with fear-fueled precision and strife,
Trying to accomplish so much in this fleeting life.

We are Sisyphus under the cruel taskmaster of Pride,
Slaves of busyness, afraid of downward spiral and slide.

We pursue so much, and some of it is good,
And so strive for those things, indeed we should.

But so much of what we chase is mere glittering pyrite,
Empty of all substance and value though pleasing to our sight.

Like a thirsty body drinking salt water will never be satisfied,
A rushing soul will only find its troubles multiplied.

Doing it all is too heavy a burden to carry,
Letting go is hard but sometimes it is necessary.

Our resources are measured and our strength is finite,
We all have an end to our strength and our might.

But maybe that’s okay, maybe we don’t have to do it all,
And maybe there is freedom in not answering every call.

Even the fastest runner trained to run a race,
Cannot maintain a forever fast and steady pace.

Rest is necessary for both mortal shell and soul,
Neglect of it will, in time, take a deadly toll.

But, there is hope in acknowledging the need to rest,
When we look to Him and step away from our pride-fueled quest.

His yoke is easy, His burden is light,
Not because of its contents but because of His might.

We are not alone, nor can we do everything on our own.
But we are fully loved despite our weakness being fully known.

A runner at rest is still a runner indeed,
And so, we are cherished even when we lower our speed.

In Him, we can rest and trust that His grace is beyond all measure,
And when we work, work for things greater than fake or fading treasure.

Like a Tree

Roots must grow first in the darkness of the earth away from the eye,
Before a seedling sprouts out of the soil and reaches upward towards the sky.

And even when the tree starts to grow above the dirt for all to see,
The roots must keep expanding to support the growing tree.

Not all growth is visible to our incomplete vision,
Nor can all be measured and quantified with scientific precision.

You may not be able to see the steady growth under the dirt and decay,
But in time, you’ll see the proof of it in the light of day.

A tree grows upwards and out and eventually bears fruits,
Which only further proves the growth of those hidden roots.

So we, too, grow in some ways that are invisible
But even slow and hidden growth can lead to something visible.

Like a tree planted by the water is the one who trusts the Lord on high,
With roots growing steadily away from the human eye.

In the heat of the day, its leaves remain green,
Nourished by living water and supported by roots unseen.

In its season, it blooms and bears fruit like He designed it to,
For He was and is faithful to seeds planted and hidden from view.

He saw the result before the process had even begun,
And what He’s promised to do is as good as done.


Like this poem? Check out Growing Still! Keep growing, friends. And remember, God is faithful and will complete what He began.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6 ESV

New Days

Often, I dread the dawn on new days,
For they come already heavy with the weight of yesterdays.

The light hurts my eyes that are accustomed to the night,
And I feel too tired to give much of a fight.

My strength is depleted by carrying so many fears,
And the baggage of regrets from over the years.

I long to remain in the dark comfort of my blanket cocoon,
But my alarm screams that I must arise from it soon.

And that alarm is not the only sound I hear,
The adversary is already speaking to my groggy ears.

My body may be at rest but my mind is quickly in full gear.
And I begin to doubt that Hope remains near.

Even with the glory of the rising bright sun,
It sometimes feels as though the darkness has won.

But the darkness is not dark to Him on high,
Even in the night, He remains present and close by.

He knew me before this tired mortal shell came to form,
And He will not abandon me in this tumultuous storm.

Amidst these waves that seek to drown me,
Hope stands firm and steady on the raging sea.

He calls my name again and reaches His hand out,
And shows me grace despite my fearful doubt.

Even in the uttermost parts of this raging sea,
Hope is still with me, along with new and abundant mercy.

His steadfast love continues on and does not come to an end,
He is the rock on which I can build and depend.

I don’t know what this new day holds in store for me,
But He who is with me can clearly see.

And so, with the arrival of this new day,
I choose to hope and trust, come what may.

I cannot carry the weight of this day on my own,
But He is with me; I am not alone.

Growing Still

Watching the grass grow gets a reputation quite jaded,
For if you watch it for an hour, you will have an hour wasted.

There is no difference to the inpatient eye in that short time,
Yet it keeps growing, embarking on its upward climb.

Give it a few days’ time away from your eye,
And my, oh my, you will notice it grows high.

Uninhibited and in the right conditions, it reaches higher towards the light,
Just not at a speed that can be perceived by our partial sight.

It was always growing, even in that seemingly wasted hour,
By the strength of the sun and a little rain shower.

We don’t see it growing but we can see its growth in time,
And maybe that is true of us too, here in this lifetime.

If we look inward and try to see growth in a short time frame,
We will find ourselves weighed down by frustration and shame.

But by the power of the Son and God’s careful leading hand,
We are growing too, according to the ways He has planned.

And in His patience, He watches us grow hour by hour, day by day,
For He is the one who brings about our growth and leads us along the way.

He sees the growth we cannot perceive in our current state,
And in His mercy, He continues to create.

In time, we will look back and more clearly see,
What He saw all along, the good works He has done in you and me.

And He will complete every good work He began,
All according to His will, and His perfect plan.

Words on Prayer

He beacons me to come to Him in prayer,
But so often I am lackadaisical.
Sometimes I’m tired and sometimes I just don’t feel Him near,
Sometimes I’m too paralyzed by my pride and my fear.

And what words can I bring and say to the Word?
Before I’ve spoken, He has already heard.
And He knows the true motivations of every thought,
Even the words that come from a place of spiritual rot.

Sometimes it seems I have too many,
And other times, I don’t have any.
Sometimes I mean them with all my being,
And other times they are just words my lips are speaking.

There are some words I can barely articulate,
They feel like a burden of crushing weight.
Others feel like I’m just saying what is expected,
Even though I feel quite disconnected.

But thank God almighty that He understands what He hears,
Even when I have nothing but uncontrollable tears.
He hears the words that my lips do carry,
As well as the ones I seek to hide and bury.

And if I’m honest, that gratitude is often combined with a bit of dread,
For He knows all I’ve said and all that I’ve left unsaid.
Yet somehow though He fully knows me, He still loves me.
And beacons me each day to taste and see.

He is patient and kind with me and my attempts at prayer,
My brokenness is never too much for Him to bear.
He is teaching me what it means to pray without ceasing,
As long as this heart in my chest keeps beating.

I do not know what to pray for as I ought to,
But the Spirit intercedes and follows through.
I am broken and I am weak,
But by the Spirit, still I shall speak.

Constant as the Sun

Constant as the Sun
The sun remains fixed in the sky at all times,
And even when we cannot see it, we can see its signs.

For every tree, shrub, and flower,
Is a testament to the sun’s power.

And while every sunny day must come to an end,
The sun is not gone even when darkness descends.

For when the sun sets in one place it rises in another,
And night comes to both the first and the latter.

You may not see it from your place on the earth,
But no matter how long the night, a new day will come forth.

Hope is present like the sun is present,
For in every moment, hope is existent.

We cannot always see it because of our perspective,
But sometimes our thoughts and feelings are subjective.

Hope remains fixed and true, and beckons us to continue on,
The darkest night of the soul will end with the coming dawn.