Saying Yes, When All I Want To Say Is No.

I hate the word no. Maybe because I don’t understand why I’ve heard it so much, at least in the past year and a half.
Over and over again, I’ve prayed for different issues and the answer that keeps coming back is No.

  • No, that door is closed.
  • No, that door is not opening.
  • No, I’m not going to heal, I’m taking your Dad home.
  • No, you’re going to be single right now.
  • No. No. No.

With each no, especially and foremost my Dad, comes devastating hurt, and with devastating hurt comes despair…

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.“- Paul (2 Cor. 1:8)

As I wrote despair that verse came to mind. That’s how I feel most days. If this is what life has to hold, I don’t know how much more I can take.

I want to say, “You know what God, right back at ya! I’m done. My heart hurts too much to say yes again… What if something else happens? What if you decide to take another family member?”

Today, although I didn’t feel like going, I went to church. I sang as tears streamed down my face. But it was in that sanctuary that I was reminded of another time when God the Father said no.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be NO more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”. Revelation 21:4

After Jesus died on Friday and before he rose on Sunday, there was Saturday.

I like to think of life right now as Saturday. On Saturday I’m sure the disciples must have been confused. I mean they saw Jesus heal the lame, raise the dead, walk on water, and even put a man’s ear back together. But on Saturday, He was in the grave.

That Saturday had to be the worst day of their lives. They probably felt abandoned, alone, forsaken. They probably wrestled with anger at the other Jews, and possibly anger towards God. He promised to be on the throne after all and the disciples were supposed to judge the twelves tribes of Israel.

Matthew 19:28-29, ” Jesus said to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, in the renewal [that is, the Messianic restoration and regeneration of all things] when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you [who have followed Me, becoming My disciples] will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.”

Saturday must have shook them.

But Sunday came… and He was back, but not without His wounds. He fought the greatest fight of all time, and said NO to eternal suffering for anyone who accepts His sacrifice.

It is only because of that one NO that I can say yes.

  • I can say, “yes” I’ll keep going to church, even though I don’t understand what’s going on.  
  • I can say, “yes” I’ll reading my Bible, even though I’m confused and hurt, and have a foggy head when I read it.  
  • I can say, “yes” to worshiping, even when I don’t feel like it. 
  • I can say, “yes” to praying, even when I don’t want to.  
  • I can say, “yes” to Jesus, even when I don’t feel like it or feel like I have the strength.  

He overcame death for me. So even if He decides to continue to say no, for His own purpose, I pray He will give me the strength to keep saying yes to Him. I know I don’t have the strength to say it left to my own strength.

… I pray that I will be like Martha in John 11:27, before before Jesus raised Lazarus, she said “Yes, Lord” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Thank You for Being There ❤️

Next Saturday my family and I will be hosting my Dad’s memorial service. It’s hard to write that. It’s also hard to comprehend that almost a month ago my Dad’s accident happened.

Part of me is dreading the service because it’s like closing a chapter and opening another. And the next chapter will be a long hard road. I don’t know that I’m ready to start “our firsts” without my Dad: his Birthday, my mom’s Birthday, the grandkids birthdays, Father’s Day, and the other events. I’m not ready for this road, but I know God allowed us to be on this road, and I know we are not alone.

In fact, we have not been alone the whole time, and neither was my Dad. When we realized the magnitude of my Dad’s accident, my heart hurt because I thought my Dad was alone during it all. The day we found out he wasn’t, I cried out of gratefulness. Gabe and Brandi (a couple who was headed home) witnessed the crash. They stopped and prayed with my Dad until the EMT arrived. A volunteer firefighter also stopped. They couldn’t go to the hospital, but they just wanted to be there for my Dad.

Then, when Rachel first got to the hospital, she was met by her mom’s friend, Elizabeth Yizbeck. And when Tyler couldn’t get there as fast as he wanted to, a family friend, Ramon, showed up, just to be there.

Then, as Mom, Linda, Jessica, Brian & Danni, Stephanie & Justin , and the nieces and nephews were driving, I had several friends literally praying us through the night. In our hardest hours, they were there.

Then when we arrived one by one, we hugged, and went to see Dad.

But still, we weren’t alone. The morning we arrived, I got a text message that instantly brought me to tears, “We are on our way” from Sarah Zink. She and Chuck dropped everything and started the seven hour drive to just be there.

Then there was Uncle Bob and Aunt Lynn, my Dad’s boss, who have treated us like their own nieces and nephews every since they’ve known us. They showed up at the hospital after just arriving from another trip… They wanted to be there for us.

Then there was the Millers, the Fontaines, the Barrys, the Swift, and a few other friends that changed travel plans to came and prayed for my Dad and us; because, they wanted to be there.

My Uncle Stu wanted to be there for my mom and us kids, so he stayed overnight at the hospital. That allowed us siblings to all be together to discuss the next steps.

And how could I forget our employers and co-workers? My Mom took a leave of absence with the full blessing and support of her supervisors. They had to shift things around, I have no doubt, but gave her their devoted prayers and support, and offered to help in many ways to show they were there. My brothers station offered financial help, shift trades and found out ways to help our family. They wanted to show him they were there for him. My brother in law’s employer let him have time off and then gave him financial help. My employer, his wife, and my coworkers all worked extra hours so I could be there for my family. They even sent cards, from the kids, to show me that although we were hours away they were there for me and my family.

Then there were the seven churches- literally. There were seven different denominations that heard one way or another about my Dad’s accident. They offered housing, brought food, brought gift cards, and prayed for us. Because they wanted to be there for us.

And back at home, we had Lydia, another family friend, find things at the house that we needed. And because we left in a rush, I still had laundry in the washing machine. She and her mom rewashed my laundry, cleaned the house, left flowers in every room and had food waiting for us when we got home. Because they wanted to be there for us.

And then another family friend drove the items we needed up so he could be there for us.

And the donations, text messages, calls and prayers from so many left us stunned and overwhelmed. You gave and prayed because you wanted to be there for us.

The list goes on and on and on. But as we saw this beautiful picture of the church coming together on our behalf, I was reminded of the message my Dad gave at ACMI (Association of Christians Ministering among Internationals) this year. It was on “unused parts” of the body of Christ. In the middle of My Dad’s PowerPoint Presentation is 1 Corinthians 12:26, “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it…”
One of my Dad’s slide said this:

All the member suffer with the one member that is suffering! The whole Body hurts!  

After my Dad passed, so many people said, “we are weeping with you”. In all honesty, it was hard to weep. I don’t know if it was shock or numbness, but I wasn’t able to cry for nearly a week after my Dad passed away.

But on our long drive home my Mom and I got to talking. We talked about how it felt like someone else was carrying our burden. I am now in tears as I write this, but it felt like each one of you took a piece of our pain and cried the tears we were unable to cry. It’s like God allowed our hearts to break in a thousand pieces, but then called each one of you to gently carry a piece of our heart; until we are able to carry it again.

So, I know I’m still forgetting some, like the doctor who knew someone who knew someone who knew my dad that prayed for him. Or for the money that randomly showed up in several of our bank accounts, or the dinners that were provided from Josh and Jen Chancey, Sarah Watson, The Stebners, Jaye Sousa, our neighbors across the street, and Jamie. Or, the ones who have had to walk this road before us like the Storey family and the Zink family that reached back and linked arms to help us navigate the way forward.

The processing and the words for me have been slow to come, but tonight I want to say, from the very bottom of my being: thank you.

Thank you for being there. Thank you for carrying our broken hearts. Thank you for crying our tears. Thank you for suffering with us, so that we are not alone.

I love each one of you so much, thank you for being there!

A Hallowed Out Life

Life, It hits you like a flash flood. No warning, just chaos, confusion, grief and pain.

For me, grief has been coming in waves. When it comes, it tumbles me hard. My feet desperately searching and straining for the rock I once had a firm stance on.

Another wave, and I get thrown together with debris. In the midst of the tumbling more wounds ensue.

Several times in the past few weeks I have felt I lost my footing. Is this really happening or is this just the longest dream known to man? But then I sit at my Dad’s grave sight and see William Harold Perry 1952-2017 set right next to my Grandpop’s plot.
Why 2017? As I looked at the year, I was reminded that God knew this would be the year my Dad would go home, just two years and a month after my Grandpop, and a year after my life felt ransacked. So much can happen in such a short amount of time.  

While I was thinking about the past few weeks, and the past few years I had a picture come to mind.

The picture was of the Grand Canyon. I have never been there, but it’s on my bucket list.  

I thought about suffering , loss, and our unbelievable and incomprehensible times that God allows. Life cuts pieces out of our hearts.

Just two days ago, my heart hurt so bad it felt like I was having a heart attack. There was a physical pain because the emotional pain is too much for my heart to endure.

God allows debris to chip away at us, and He allows the tumbling to soften our edges.

When I was younger my brother would tumble rocks. He would put several rocks and pour water into it. Several hours, sometimes days, the rocks would come out as smooth as silk.

So in the suffering, God is digging out and refining us, so that we become like the Grand Canyon.

No one can look at the Grand Canyon and credit it’s majesty to human. When you look at the Grand Canyon it shouts the existence of God.

In the same way the Grand Canyon echoes, our lives also echo. We can echo bitterness, or we can echo the greatness of God.

Another aspect to this picture is the depth of the Grand Canyon. There is a depth that suffering gives you. When you meet someone and they have an understanding most people don’t, you can almost guarantee that they have endured some kind of suffering.  

I once attended a church service where this young, hipster guy was speaking. It would have been easy to assume that he hadn’t spoken much, or had had much life experience. But almost as soon as he started sharing, I thought to myself, this guy has been through something… Sure enough, by the end of the message, he shared about his son being severely disabled, and not able to speak… This man said he longed for heaven, not only to see Jesus face to face, but also to hear his son finally be able to call him Dad.

I think God must have known I needed this picture because quite frankly in the midst of the tumbling, flash floods of grief, and loss, it’s hard to hold on. Grief and loss take you to dark places. Being so close a love one dying is a very dark place to be, and I have not been able to process it still…

But if I remember that God is creating a masterpiece, and that when He has His say and done His will in my life, I pray that it screams His greatness, because I cannot walk through this in my own strength. Life too often is just too hard to bear without God… And for now, this is what I am holding onto.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5

Song For Today: King of My Heart , by Sarah McMillan

The night the devil tried to drown me

⚠️: This is a dark post, but it helped me process some things going on in my heart. 

I was grabbed so fast I got whip lash. I was dragged through hellish landscape that seemed to go on more than I could endure.

Rocks, thorns and glass worked their way into my fragile skin, and into my wounds dirt began to fill. I was soon covered in blood which soon turned into mud. 

I could not get free of his death grip. I could only hope that, for some reason, there was a light at the end of the road.
Suddenly when I thought a break was coming, I felt a sensation that for a bit felt like a way out of my misery. Water! Maybe I can clean out my wounds.
Just as soon as I had the thought, the strong evil hand grip had me once again. I was plunging downward into the water which was now growing so dark I couldn’t see anything in front of me.

My head took a hit, but the pressure didn’t leave. It stayed. I was pinned. The death grip was gone but I heard tormenting whispers, “hate him”, “he abandoned you”, “it’s not worth it”, “if a break is what you want shallow the water”.
I lay there feeling my open skin waving in the water. I could feel the pressure rising in my lungs as they burned for oxygen. My body lay broken pinned under the weight of a stone. Water and sinister words spewed out of a hideous and maleficent creature. 
It all seemed like too much to bear. I was pinned. I had no way out. I had hatred burning in my heart that no amount of water could put out. I had a choice: Fight or flight. Suck in the water, or give it one more shot, for hope.
I chose to cry out knowing I have very little breathe left. My feeble cry even quieter under the water. No one could possibly hear my tiny bubbles that attempted to be a cry for help. 
I nearly gave in, but just as I went to suck in the water, the rock pressed against my head shifted. I prayed for strength and was able to lift my torn up arm to free myself. The boulder moved. My lungs still burning, and my mind wondering when I might pass out, but I started to see the light.
I had no time to think about getting pulled under, I just had to make it to the top. My head felt the rush of a cold  breeze as my head popped above the surface. I gasped for air, and floated, until I could regain the strength to swim to the shore. 
Each stroke felt like I had a ten pound weight on it, but I had to keep swimming. I started to fear that I may be taken under but for whatever reason I wasn’t and the devil that was out to destroy me had somehow lost interest in me as his catch.
I set my feet down and felt the ocean floor. I had made it, but how? 

No immediate answer came from my call. 

No one came to lift the rock off my head, no one intervened as my limp body was drug through that horrendous landscape. 

Why and how am I on the shore which was soft on my skin? 

Grace doesn’t intervene as we expect. It doesn’t punch anyone in the face in our defense. But it does cause things to shift. It gives us the strength when we have nothing left. Grace does not intervene in during times we are being battered, but it somehow still holds us together despite of bloody and wounded bodies. 
The moment grace shows up the enemy is silenced. He hates the presence of it’s existence. 

So although in this hell hole called life we may not see the rescue we are looking for, we have grace we are saved by.