Gifts: Past & Present 

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Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? Every day with my children is a gift.  I continue to cherish and unwrap each moment.  Each day new, exciting, challenging and exhausting. I ADORE. My.Girls!!!! And even though Sophie isn’t in this image below, she’s included in all I am about to say, because she truly taught me […]

There’s No Place Like Home!!!!

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Our halls are decked, tree trimmed, stockings hung by the chimney with care, lights lit, sprays of garland outline our walls, it’s Christmas!!!! The most wonderful time of the year and yet we miss her, Sophie.  This is our 6th Christmas without her.  It feels like an eternity and just yesterday.  It’s rough when your […]

Say What???

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Saying anything about her truth has never been easy for Abby.  She’s always been a girl who’s kept her thoughts and words under tight lock and key.  I worried about her constantly after Sophie went to Heaven.  I knew she must be thinking and feeling things, but how would she ever communicate her brokeness to […]

Holy Miracle!!!

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“Holy Miracle!!!” Abby said, “You know how you always say, “holy mackerel? Well… I say this is a Holy Miracle.”  Tears of joy streaming down her face.  Her words were concise and accurate. My recent battle with Lyme Disease had just ended in a victorious win for myself and my family.  My restoration and renewed […]

We’re Not Professional Climbers!

So Far  (A 3 min video begins this post. Simply click the words that proceed the parenthesis),

Sophie has spent nearly 3 years living in heaven.  Her father, big sister and myself have been learning to navigate through grief.  It feels like scaling K2.  The new terrain is unpredictable, dangerous, terrifying, unfamiliar and complicates our souls.  Radically our travels are transforming our family.  We have stumbled upon courage, strength, perserverence, love and joy through the climb.  However, our progress is somewhat stilted, our visibility is randomly obstructed and intermittently we loose ground.  Travel guide authorities we have met while climbing have suggested that our climb through grief is not yet complete.   “Completed? What?  We’re not professional climbers, not even novices!  We have an 8 year old in tow!  We were chosen for this climb but we are totally untrained, uneducated and physically weakened by the circumstances and requirements of this task.  We’re barely putting one foot in front of the other.  Breathing shallow.  Chapped, bruised, bleeding, salt water stings our cheeks.  There are days we slide backwards.  Reaching completion seems totally unattainable?  or is it just unrealistic?”

I think our grieving process will never reach completion until our entire family is reunited, reaching our final destination, together in heaven forever.  Then our climb through grief will be complete.  Until then, navigating our climb through grief may be less intense, there will be moments of discovery, epiphany and success.  There already have been so many of those miraculous moments and yet for us to have to climb each day separate from Sophie whom we loved so dearly, the word insurmountable comes to my mind.

It is not the *natural* order of life to bury a child.  So I would have to conclude that climbing through the grieving process would not follow any *natural* patterns either.  Certainly, there are opportunities to be transformed along the journey.  Navigating with the pain.  We *live* each day by the Grace of God.  Yet, still there are days where we shake our fists and a whisper turns into a scream.  

 I turned to the scream of One Man who made the ultimate climb,

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Remembering the promise that was made prior to His last scream, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” One day I will be in paradise too and HE has not forsaken me!   We will complete our climb through grief, our reunion awaits!  He blew into my lungs filling me with everything I needed to head for higher ground.  Hard pressed and still learning to climb through the brutal terrain of grief tender hearted and incomplete.  Until….

 

To Be Continued…

Regret: (emotion) an intelligent or emotional dislike for personal past acts and behaviors.

Regret, like a prowling lion seeking whom it may devour in our family this past Christmas season 2011.

It caused us to question every nugget of eternal truth we have hidden in our hearts.  Everything that has brought us comfort and peace was under siege.  Regret’s questions came knocking on the all the doors of our hearts.  What if?  Why? Why didn’t we? What about that? If only, I wish I would have….  All of us under the attacks of this unwanted predator regarding our precious Sophie.

This deadly assault ravaged the tender heart of our precious 7 yr old Abigail, the most.  The constant prowling and pounding on the door of her sensitive grief stained heart was excruciating.  Regret is difficult for any person to battle (we all have them and there is an element of responsiblity and truth in each one) but, for the constant assault to be waged very strategically on a child! our precious Abigial ….was just about more than this Mama could bare.

As Abby cradled Sophie’s most precious Christmas ornaments,  an eternal living hope, spoke in truthful whispers.

Remembered with Love

I am always surrounding you, my Ab.  I am glorified and healed.  I am alive.  I am not lost.  I am not gone.  Sisters are forever.  I have no need of rest in heaven.  We will be together again.  I love you.  Our relationship continues.  The Father allows me to communicate with you through the heavenly-veil, remember our butterflies!

These precious whispers were accompanied with a fierce ROAR of darkness; it was attempting to extinguish the Truth and Light.

We prayed, waited, watched and listened as Abby continued to reach towards heaven and all its surrounding promises.  Russ and I continued to remind Abby of the most important eternal truths that have become water to our souls; hope, heaven, love, joy, treasures, alive and forever.  However, we needed God to whisper personally into Abby’s heart and bring to life every truth we knew Abby held dear, therefore silencing the predator of regret.

Christmas had passed, we packed our precious family ornaments and rang in the New Year of 2012.  Hopeful, expectant and knowing in an instant this battle could end, healing could begin and regret would flea!

And as it were, God was near, rapidly working all things together, wasting nothing;

January 11, 2012

Russ and I tucked Abby in bed.  We read a devotion together, here is part of that excerpt

“Share Your Blessings”

Jesus told us that we should be generous with other people, but sometimes we don’t feel much like sharing.  Instead the things that we have, we want to keep them all to ourselves.  But God doesn’t want selfishness to rule our hearts; He wants us to be generous.

Unbeknownst to Russ and I as we concluded regret came pounding on the door of Abby’s tender heart.  Suddenly, tears began streaming down her face,

“I didn’t share with Sophie.  I didn’t know she was going to heaven, I didn’t want her to go.  I didn’t share with her while she was here.”

an outpouring of regret…

Wide-eyed, I bit my lower lip to keep it from trembling, tears accumulated, my breath left me.  I couldn’t speak.  (Oh dear God!  This is what she remembers? a fleeting moment of their time together? torture for Abby’s tender heart)

Russ, (the other half of my heart) very gently and calming spoke, “Abby, you are a wonderful big sister, the best.  Sometimes, we don’t share when we are little.  We have to learn how to do it.  You are the perfect big sister for Sophie.”  Abby looked at her father and said, “really?”  He nodded and said, “and you know what Sophie would say?” Abby shrugged.  “It’s ok Ab. it’s ok.”  Upon hearing these words, exhausted from battling, Abigail collapsed into her father’s arms sobbing.  Hearing, “It’s ok Ab. it’s ok,” words of forgiveness that Sophie would extend to her without hesitation in conjunction with the breath of God; freed Abby!  Regret fled, questions dissolved and Abby fell deeply asleep, peace.

God wanted to highlight this moment of life giving freedom; exceedingly and abundantly for Abigail.  He wanted eternal living and restoration to manifest itself to Abby in a tangible way.  God wanted Abby to know her relationship with Sophie is different but, it continues in extraordinary ways; indestructible, incorruptible and forever.

So….4 nights later

January 15, 2012

Russ tucked Abby in bed.  She said with utter confidence, “You tell me about any dreams you have about Sophie and I will tell you mine.

“Interesting Russ thought and noted…..not “If” but “When.”

That following night,

January 17, 2012

I woke Abby for school.  She proceeded to tell me of a dream she had of Sophie that night.

Abby said,

I was at the dance studio with Samantha.  We were working on stuff.  Both of us, kept seeing bright twinkling lights shinning around the room.  The light began to makes letters and spell, S O P H I E.

And then… I SAW Sophie, she was there dancing with us!

Then she gave me a hug!

“and I felt her physical body! I felt her physical body!!!!!” Abby squealed with excitement.

A personal visit from Sophie, in Abby’s dream!  I cradled Abby in my arms and began to thank God for replacing regret with truth of every eternal whisper!

The truth is Abigail spent every moment of her time patiently teaching Sophie each one of her dance recital routines; while Sophie was on the earth.  The precious gift they shared helped Sophie refocus her mind off the pain that Williams Syndrome caused her on earth.  It united two sisters together before the Throne of God!

They continue to present their gifts of worship to God together, Abby’s dream confirmed it.  One sister dances on earth and one in heaven, always together; bound by His promises, forever!

Chicken Pox for Christmas!

Today, December 8, 2011 I celebrate Abigail Grace Henkel, my first born gift.  Her school, Grace Christian Academy performs, “Dude, You hear what I hear?” and I continue to stand in broken awe of how God is working to make beauty for ashes.

Our 1st Christmas with Sophie in heaven

We returned home to Jacksonville from an extend vacation with friends and family in California; just in time for Abby to participate with her (Dance Theatre of Jacksonville) class in this adorable Christmas dance entitled “Chicken Pox for Christmas.”

The day of her Christmas recital December 13, 2009, had been a dark day.  As we put up our tree and started hanging the ornaments.  She would say, “I miss my baby sister.”  Abby would see an ornament with Sophie’s picture or ornaments from the previous couple of years that were Sophie’s and her broken heart was evident.  My heart joined in her pain.

In a moment of reflection I realized, I have been blessed with two extraordinary girls.

Abby; my first born, very shy on a regular day to day basis however, she LOVES to sing and dance.  (Kind of a walking contradiction in my mind.)  But, I had repeatedly witnessed her gift first hand.  If Abby was given a song to sing or steps to do (from the age of 3) she would remember, participate and begin to beam.

Sophie; never shy within our family circle.  She sang and danced from the moment she was able.  These two sisters were synchronized in their love to sing and dance.  It truly was their bond.  They danced every second they were together on earth, it was their love language.

This is Abby’s first recital performance since Sophie went to heaven.  (Abigail is the one in the middle of this video, big red bow, glitter skit and top.)  I wasn’t sure if her love for dance would reappear, had the brokenness of her heart, shattered her love of dance, stolen that which gave her so much joy?  Would the courage of the young boy David arise and cause the enemy to flee??  I was nervous for my Abigail.

And suddenly; the glory of God shown around her as the music began.  Sophie was there as well, I know it.

I was so blessed to see her love every second of this performance.  Something she’s been gifted at and truly loves to do!

Reminder:

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable!!

Not even our devastation, broken hearts or anguish can remove what God has deposited!  His destiny and will for our lives can not be stolen!