Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Monday, July 7, 2014

Permission to Grieve

As I stood in the recessed archway of the now empty dining room, the memories came flooding back.

This was the spot that sold me on this house 28 years ago. 

I had been 8 months pregnant with my first child when we first walked through the front door, so I knew time was of the essence in finding a place bigger than our one bedroom apartment.

Still, I really didn't want to buy a semi, or as some call it, a duplex. And I definitely didn't want to buy in the city. But when I saw this perfect little alcove for my piano, it made me change my mind.

The plan was 5 years, then sell the house and move to someplace in Suburbia.

But plans rarely go, well, as planned, do they? 

We had a second child, money got tight, life took over, and time just flew.

So there I was, 28 years later, once again looking at the alcove, thinking about how much everything has changed.

The baby who was born just 2 weeks before we signed the mortgage papers is 28 now. Married last October and considering a family of her own. The second child is almost as old as I was when we bought the house. I'm divorced-almost 4 years. And my piano? Given away to a friend because there was no place for it in my new apartment.

Yes, I've moved. After a year of ups and downs, court papers and prayers, it seemed clear that God's plan was for me to leave this house.

But it's been more than just a move. The past year has been one of loss. 

I hadn't thought of it that way at first. I mostly thought of it as change. 

But the truth is, there have been many losses, large and small. The house, the piano, the many things with sentimental attachment that had to be sold or given away because there's nowhere to store them.  The neighbors who have cared for me cutting my grass, shoveling my walk, keeping a watchful eye on my home. My space and my privacy. It is much harder to be undisturbed in a 4 room apartment than a 7 room, 3 story house. Even the loss of sleep as I try to acclimate to a smaller, less comfortable bed.

I've wrestled with God over a lot of this. Asked Him lots of questions. I'm not angry. Just kind of confused about how and where He's leading in all of this. And kind of sad about all the loss.

I love Ephesians 3:20, but this current circumstance is certainly less than I've asked for or imagined. 

So I have to ask myself, does that make the promise any less true?


God still loves me. He's still in control. Still working things together for my good. Still able to do abundantly more than I can ask or imagine. 

But I can still mourn that which has been removed.

Yesterday's sermon was on renewal. The pastor closed by quoting Ephesians 3:20 and said "The altar is open. If you have a burden, come forward and leave it here." It isn't something we do every week in my church. I didn't know the invitation would be given when I got there.

As I went forward and knelt, I couldn't pray. Tears began to flow and they became unstoppable, silent sobs. I stayed kneeling until the singing began again, then quickly slipped into my seat down in front. I sat in the sanctuary until most were gone, not wanting to-not even sure I could-explain my tear-stained face.

My pastor came over and asked what was wrong. I blurted out a mish mosh of everything, nothing, and I just don't know. That's when he said to me "you've been through a lot lately Toni. It's okay to give yourself permission to grieve."

I can't tell you how freeing that was. 

I'd been looking for the bright side in all of this a long time. And when friends encouraged me with "it's an exciting new chapter" I knew it was true, but couldn't always feel it. 

My pastor's words spoke such comfort to me. We don't have to have it altogether all the time. Life isn't tied up with a bow. Sometimes, we experience loss. And sometimes, we just need permission to grieve before we move on to those new chapters in life. 

And that's okay.


  1. Oh what a beautiful, honest and transparent post....you are an encouragement friend!!

    1. Thank you Kristin - and thanks for sharing it. I'm just trying to work through it all knowing, as the song says "my future is a memory to God".

  2. Dearest Toni, I so identify with what you and your heart are going through. Permission to grieve is a HUGE thing for a believer. We've been taught and encouraged to smile and claim the positive view for so long that we feel guilty if sadness or true grief creeps up on us. I am so glad your leader was able to say those simple words to you.

    As you have seen, I've been in a "transition-"New Adventure" place also and it is NOT fun. Hubs and I had 3 years of pain, questioning everything and loss. Jobs lost, parents passing, serious motorcycle accident and food stamps....and all along trying to see what or where God was in all of this. It really helped to be honest with my questions. And when I was, it was interesting to see the responses. Some were trite cliches and others were permission to ask and grieve.
    As you have read on my blog, I am now in the middle of that light at the end of the tunnel place and it is so good, so much better than expected. I pray that you are nearing that place too. That there can be a pretty bow to wrap up your story. I am convinced that God relishes our raw and real questions and emotions. He is not afraid of them, even though many believers are. Keep asking, keep finding small ways to trust Him. He has not forgotten you Toni. You have my continued prayers Dear One. Susie

    1. Susie - thank you for this. I need to confess that when I read your last post, I wept. I asked God how it was that I could trust him too and have such a different outcome from yours. I know better than that, but in the moment, while thrilled for you, I had a bit of a pity party. And this is why we need to be real - I didn't know about the losses you had endured. I only knew about the supernatural way God had moved in your life in the past few weeks. Still, we should never compare ourselves to one another because we never really know the whole picture. Nor do we know the different ways God will use us and our own unique stories. Thank you for your prayers and many blessings in your beautiful new Texas home!!

  3. Toni, I plan to give a link to this post tomorrow, 7/27, in the morning on my blog: jean-oathout.blogspot.com