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.

Simply Come

Simply Come |  "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30)

“Come to me” is the invitation spoken,
From the heart of Christ to all who are broken.
No test to pass, no need to clean up first,
Just come to Him, all you who hunger and thirst.

Come, taste, and see that He is good,
For He is now doing all He said He would.
Seek the Lord and take refuge in His loving embrace,
And live each day in the light of His redeeming grace.

His gifts of grace and mercy are abundant and true,
And I promise they are for people even like you.
No sin is too great, no burden is too heavy,
No person is too lost, and no life is too messy.

You may be a prodigal soul out on the roam,
But celebration still awaits when you come home.
You may be heavily laden and at the end of your rope,
But I promise you, friend, there is still blessed hope.

He knows your story, He knows your name.
He knows your sin, and He knows your shame.
He knows your struggles, He knows your pain,
And He knows how to break every kind of chain.

A bruised reed He shall not break,
Nor a smoldering wick will He forsake.
A broken and contrite heart He won’t turn away.
He is present now and He chooses to stay.

He is gentle and humble in heart,
Beckoning you to a daily fresh start.
I know it is sometimes hard to believe,
But this love is not earned, it is a gift to receive.

You can wrestle, you can be confused,
But His love will not be moved.
You can argue, you can hide in fear,
But even then, Hope remains near.

You may know a thousand reasons for condemnation,
But for those who come to Christ, there is salvation.
Those who come shall not be cast out from His sight,
But instead, be drawn nearer to live in His light.

So come, confess, and lay your burdens on the ground.
See, how His grace indeed does abound!
Unfailing Love is here to support and console,
So come and find rest, rest for your weary soul.

Mountain Perspective

An obstacle to overcome, a problem too great to bear,
Or an opportunity for a view to which none can compare.

What you call a mountain depends on your attitude,
And how you see it depends on your altitude.

If you want the majesty you’ll have to venture out,
And leave behind the baggage of comfortable doubt.

Then, once you’ve chosen to take the climb,
You must then take action one step at a time.

One step may seem small, but if you keep going you will see progress,
And you may even see beauty in the long climbing process.

For life springs forth from the decay and dirt on the ground,
Sometimes you just need to pause for a moment and look around.

So, embrace the journey as you continue the climb,
One step, one moment, one breath at a time.

The journey may get tiring, and your muscles will grow sore,
But in the pain is a lesson you cannot ignore.

Though your pride will likely protest,
Even the most athletic must come to a rest.

So, remember to rest, and to refuel too,
You must take care if you want to reach the top with its view.

After some time of rest and recuperation,
You can once more give the climb your full concentration.

Put one foot in front of the other once more and keep repeating,
Approaching the top and the promised view you are seeking.

In time and in steps, you will reach your destination,
With a combination of exhaustion and unprecedented elation.

And, if you look at the view of the mountains that now surround you,
You’ll feel so small but you’ll overflow with gratefulness too.

Mere words cannot articulate the beauty of what the eyes behold,
Some things must be experienced and not simply told.

As you take in the view so simply breathtaking,
Know that both the journey and this destination were of His making.

Keep your heart as open as your eyes and you’ll see,
That God was with you all along the journey.

He provided air in your lungs and reminders to rest,
And let you see hope and beauty in the quest.

He sustained you even when you did not notice His attention,
And He worked in ways beyond mortal comprehension.

He had every step of the way fully charted,
And was present in the valley before you even started.

A glimpse of what He is doing and what His hands have done,
Truly, there is no view that can be compared to this one.

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.

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.

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.

Love’s Communication

Our world is filled with every kind of mass-produced platitude,
But hollow words of encouragement yield only a hardened attitude.

Words are important but sometimes they are cheap too,
If not accompanied by some sort of follow-through.

For, I can say you are loved, I can say you are seen,
But without my presence, these words are almost mean.

Like a twisted blade instead of a carefully yielded scalpel,
The truth can be freeing or it can be just another shackle.

Nobody is helped by half-hearted, anemic words of comfort,
Shared by a desire to ease one’s own guilt and discomfort.

Communication is truly more than the words I am speaking,
So let me communicate with all of my being, following Christ’s leading.

Jesus saw the ones society tried to hide,
He spoke their name, calling them to His side.

He cherished the ones society abandoned to their transgression,
Giving them a clean start and the unmerited gift of redemption.

He ate with those known only by their shame,
Never condoning their sin but instead giving them a new name.

He took on a humble role of servitude,
Giving His life as a ransom for a multitude.

He cared for even the one who would betray,
For that is true Love’s chosen way.

He loved us with His life and loves us still today,
And calls us by name to humbly follow Him along His way.

To go to Samaria even when there is a way around,
Showing and telling of His grace that does abound.

To reach out to the weak, the sick, and the downtrodden,
Reminding them that they are not alone nor forgotten.

To love thy neighbor as thyself,
Serving without thought of praising self.

To bow down like our Savior did to wash His disciple’s feet,
Extending care and compassion to all that we meet.

To believe that the God who has plans for us has plans for them too,
Knowing that He can make even hopeless things new.

To speak life and not just words devoid of genuine care,
Pointing to the God who loves and came to repair.

He loved us first, and so by His Spirit we can love each other,
And not only by the words our lips can utter.

Words are indeed a vital tool of communication,
But true love speaks with both words and their application.

The tongue of the wise can indeed bring help and healing,
But only if it follows true Love’s council and leading.

Through It All

Through It All

Through every hour of every day and every night,
Even in the moments I do not have the strength to fight,
You are present, holding me in Your capable hands,
And fighting for me, leading according to Your perfect plans.

Through all the tumultuous storms of this life,
And every kind of mortal earthside strife,
You assure me that You are still in control,
And You draw near to comfort and console.

Through the endless stream of man-made turmoil too,
And all the hurt us mortal beings to one another do,
You promise that Your way will prevail in the end,
And until then, You lead the way to love, reconcile, and mend.

Through the times I am overcome with fear,
And all the moments I cannot feel You near,
You say to cast my anxieties on You because you care for me,
And tell me that feelings do not always correspond with reality.

Through every tear I have ever cried,
And all the times I have come to You tongue-tied,
You listen and understand all that I need,
And when I have no words, Your Spirit is there to intercede.

Through all the moments when all hope seems gone,
When I am weary and not sure I can continue on,
You offer me the rest my soul does yearn for,
And remind me, once again, that I do not walk alone anymore.

Through all the dead ends I find myself stuck in,
By my action and inaction, that is, by my sin,
You make a way where there is no way,
And lead me out, never leading me on or astray.

Through all the walls I have built by my pride,
And all the times I have tried to run from You and hide,
You break through to reveal my transgression in loving conviction,
And bring me back, redeeming me from my terminal condition.

And through the valley of the shadow of death,
Even on the day that I take my last breath,
You declare that I am not alone,
And assure me that You will bring me home.

Through it all, You are faithful and true,
And You see things from a much higher view.
No circumstance here can thwart Your plans,
And even now in the chaos, I am in Your steady hands.

Continue

Three, two, one, another year is said and done.
The earth has made another revolution around the distant sun.

We’ve passed another quantitative marker on life’s journey,
Thanks to His provision and abundant mercy.

Nothing has really changed but the date,
But it marks another chance to love, serve, and create.

Life is not a sprint; it is a marathon.
And so, with the stroke of midnight, we must still continue on.

Continue to walk the narrow road and follow our Savior,
And grow in love for Him and our neighbor.

Continue to listen to the words He is speaking,
And believe those words even when they don’t match our feeling.

Continue to believe when doubt threatens to overtake,
And remember that He promised to never forsake.

Continue to acknowledge Him in all of our ways,
And know that He will never lead us astray.

Continue to embrace new mercies for new days,
And trust that His love for us continues now and always.

Continue to continue on only by His mercy and power,
And rest in Him and not our own resolve or willpower.

Each moment is a moment closer to dawn,
And so, as long as we have breath, we can continue on.

God is still working in us and He is not yet done.
Three, two, one, another year has begun.