Sunday, July 28

For such a time as this...

I love these two!
My sister, and my niece

Today I wept.
It was unexpected.
I was just asked if I would say grace.
But I was not just saying grace for food that I had prepared and put on the table
I was also asking for God's grace on my sister and niece, who I have the pleasure of hosting
"For such a time as this"
Those words, from the book of Esther, have been running through my mind often lately
God knows
He knows the times
So here I was this morning, asking God for his peace
His grace
His healing
His tender mercies
over my sister, my niece and their families.

For such a time as this.
I believe that when God called 13 years ago
and spoke His vision for women's retreat ministry to me
entrusting it to me, and to us ...
He knew.
He knew that the ministry would spring out of utter despair and sorrow
when we lost Jay
it is NO surprise in retrospect
that it was in those days that God spoke ...
and that he gave more plan, more details to our kids

For such a time as this ...
I believe that when God spoke this vision to my heart
He also knew that there would be a branch to the ministry
that back in 2000, I would NOT want to hear
O GOD please don't speak to me about starting a ministry that would provide a place
for peace
for healing
for retreat
for renewal
for quietness and solitude
for those walking the journey of intense grief.
O GOD please no.

Back in 2004, one of my friends with prophetic gifting, spoke into my life.
She told me of the dream God had given to her
But back in 2012 she told me a part that was missing
A part that she said she saw, but could not share
She said "Joy, in the dream, the grief on your face - was so intense"
She told me that after I had shared with her that I felt our journey in grief, would also be something that would be a part of who comes here.
O Lord ... for such a time as this.

Back at the end of January, I was showing someone the bedrooms
And I shared with them why we called the one room RESTORE
And I said - that anyone can stay in this room, but we felt it would have a ministry of its own.
I think my words were this:  "Who knows, but perhaps women from all ages/all walks of life will find this room a place of solace, whether they have lost a baby, or a child, or a grown adult child.'
Within a couple weeks, we stood around my niece's bedside, as she was taken off of life support and into the arms of the Almighty One.
And I immediately thought about my sister.

So it was this morning, as I prepared breakfast for Heather and Melissa (mom and daughter/sister and niece) I prayed ...
I have prayed for their stay here.
It has been a deep plunge into grief, and well, life has a way of making us so busy
that we don't get a chance to step out of life, into a place where we can just be with God -
They invited me to have breakfast with them, and to say grace.
And I did
but there were some long pauses in an otherwise short prayer.

O Lord - you are the healer of broken hearts - of shattered pieces.
I know that
You are the redeemer of ashes - for joy
I know that
Your mercies are new every morning
I know that
You are faithful.  You are Sovereign.  You are in control.
I know that, even though at times, my head and my heart fought over this!

It is very special to be able to offer this space, for my sister and niece
For such a time as this.
I have thought about my niece Keri alot today
And well - I know she is experiencing the fullness, and the wholeness, and joy that we can't describe
But O Lord, how we miss her.
O Lord ... how we wish we could have given her one more hug
One more I love you
One more little bit of teasing as her uncles loved to do
One more compliment

I know that we will be together again - all of us - grandparents, parents, our grandson Jay, my niece Keri ...
I know that with God - time is measured much different
And while it feels like forever - it is merely a breath.

So, in such a time as this,
I praise you for being the God of all comfort - of all healing - of abounding love and grace
And I thank you that your mercies are new every morning
O Lord - may that be what my sister and my niece feel today ...
and tomorrow
and the next days after

And may the pieces of their hearts, and my brother in law, and nephew through marriage, and their family - may those pieces come together in a way that only YOU can do GOD
because THEY NEED YOU to do that.  WE NEED YOU!!

Lamentations 3:23

The Message (MSG)
22-24 God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.

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