Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In the midst of Ashes

Once again tonight I find myself standing in the pile of ashes in my life. I had other things I wanted to write about, but I realized that the pain is too great. Today is my birthday. "Birthday Wishes" so they say. I never "wished" to stand before the grave of my oldest child on my 33rd birthday. Today was hard. It was a day quite without Ashley. You see, Ashley loved to celebrate other people's birthday's even more than her own. She worked so hard to make each person have the BEST day the best way she could. She made big birthday signs, decorated birthday chairs, made presents, cards, dances, songs, planned "together" time, hugs, and kisses, and then some more hugs and kisses. She LOVED birthdays.

I picked myself up today...rolled up my sleeves and began my day. Mom and her sister, Mary came down to spend the day with me. We had lunch, then ice cream with the kids. It was a nice time together despite the fact that I have a bad cold and can't talk. When they left I turned around and reality hit like a ton of bricks. Is this really real? How can she be gone? She was just here, we were just together. Even though my home is filled with the noise of three children, it is painfully quiet. It is a lonely, broken, and strange place to be. Death makes you feel so uncomfortable you want want out like crazy. But when you step on the gas, the wheels just spin in the mud. There is no out. You realize you're stuck in this place that doesn't feel like home anymore.

When a house burns to the ground, it's not just the structure of the house that's gone. The insides are burnt. Sure, maybe some things are left. Some furniture may be only half burnt or you might find a few things that are only blackened by smoke. But it's all touched by the fire. I've never had my house burnt down. I do not know that loss. But I do know what it's like to stand in the ashes. Unfortunately, grief likes to put me in the ash pile often. The loss for words when you stand there and look around at everything that has been scorched by the fire. Some days I see my children who don't know how to play creatively anymore, who can't figure out how to love each other, who don't know what to do with these "feelings" that grief gives they act out in ways that make me frustrated and feel powerless. The man I love...who is by nature strong and confident, walks around crushed and confused. I am lost as well. I go places and don't know why I am there. I get frustrated running my home...only to realize that I am missing my biggest helper. She and I ran this house together. And then valentine's Day and Birthday's come around and I realize that our biggest motivation for these days is no longer here. We try to do our best. We do everything we can to re-make those days...but in the end, Ashley is not here, it's not the same.

People will tell me that I am not alone. They will tell me that Joy will be restored, that it will get better. I will be told to cling to Jesus, because He will help me. I know. And I do believe. These words are words of encouragement, words to urge me onward, to lift my broken spirit. I am thankful for them. But, I also know that the things that have been scorched by the fire will always bear proof of the flame. Hope for the future, helps to heal the past, but won't take the pain away. This also makes me think about what happens when you prune a tree. The new growth comes in the spring, but if you look closely, you can still see the callous where it had been pruned. I was reading about Lazarus tonight. (Jesus' friend who died.) Jesus knew that He would raise Lazareth from the dead, but still..."Jesus Wept."

I have to stand in the ashes and look around at the devastation. I have to stand in this moment and weep. My pain is real. Beauty will rise from the ashes, but the ashes will still be there. No matter how much healing, or new growth takes's Ok for me to visit the ash pile and be sad.


  1. wendy, i can just cry. that is all i can do- your words are beautifully written, my tears are all i can give you... it feels helpless on this end. i love you and thank you for sharing your words. i'm so impressed by you- as i have since the day i met you.

  2. Precious words and a precious heart. Thank you for sharing once again. I love you.


  3. Wendy, my heart feels so sad as I read your words. I can only say "Jesus! Jesus!! Jesus!!!" May you feel the Spirit's comfort as you walk through this valley.
    We did have a house fire back 6 years ago. It was very devastating. Such a helpless feeling. You're right, you can do nothing but stand amidst the ashes. The smell of smoke lingers for a long time. But beauty does rise from the ashes.
    I recently read this: "They say time heals all wounds. ??? No. God heals wounds. Only time will tell."
    Blessings to you, dear one.

  4. Judith VanWingerdenMarch 7, 2010 at 9:59 PM

    Oh sweet Wendy! Your words just always touch my heart. I just got off the phone with my mom. And I read her some of your writings. Wendy, we are totally touched. Please continue to write your thoughts. Because God is using them to be an encouragement to others who have lost preciouse children and feel your pain. Wendy, Your words and expressions highlight your heart, of one who is trusting wholly in Christ, who knows your pain, as He gave up His Son for us His children. My mother would love to beable to compile your thoughts together, so she can share with others who have gone through it. In all my mothers years in the ministry, she has never heard anyone express her heart so openly the way you have, and so redemptively.How we rejoice that Ashley is safe in the arms of Jesus. Wendy, Thankyou! Thankyou! Thankyou! You and your family are very special to us. Our love and prayers are with you continually.

  5. Wendy, Here is a web site address for a precious song/video that ministered to my heart. Perhaps it will touch yours also. It's called "He Is With You."