We just passed an important milestone in our house.  
September 22 we celebrated one year since Annie went to Heaven.
Celebrated?  I’m not sure that’s the word I would use.  But when I told William and Kate, William immediately replied, “Oh we should have a party!  And we should sing her song!”
There have been many days when my tears have been for my kids and the grief they’ve had to experience so early in their lives.  But as we travel on this journey, my thinking has changed.  I need to learn from them.  So often, they’ve got it right when my grief is all jumbled and irrational.  How I praise God for those days when a comment or hug from them sets me back on the right path.
I wrote about “Perspective” a few weeks ago and how Jesus has slowly been changing me.  And as this milestone approached, God gently gave me yet another new perspective.  He changed my thoughts from the dreaded approach of a year  . . .  to thankfulness that He brought us through the first year.  Though it’s a bit grainy, I remember those first months of desperateness– wondering how in the world I would live this life I’d been handed, without my little girly.  Those days still come, but don’t you see?  Jesus has been faithful!  I made it!  And now, NOW, I am one year closer to heaven!  
My relationship with Jesus has become such a precious, precious part of my life in these past months.  Over and over a verse has leapt off the pages of my Bible, bringing me a peace that I never knew existed a year ago.  I’m not a super-Christian by any means, but the fruit of my time with Jesus over this past year has been my lifeline.  
Will I elaborate?  Why, yes I will.  🙂  Here are a few of my lifelines from the past year: 
You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  
You have recorded each one in your book.  
Psalm 56:8
This may be my life verse for this chapter of my life.  What a comfort to know that Jesus has made a collection of my tears!   When I feel alone and overcome by my grief, I am not alone.  And as I’ve pondered this verse, I have to wonder– why does God collect them?  Does He use them to cultivate something in my life?  Will I see those tears someday?  What a deep relief to me to know that my tears matter to Jesus.
Our hearts ache, but we always have joy.  
2 Corinthians 6:10
We went to a viewing for the father of one of our good friends this week.  William was a crying mess all the way there because we wouldn’t tie his shoes RIGHT NOW, but pulled out of his funk just in time for Kate to be a hyper mess while we were there.  I questioned our wisdom in bringing them with us, until I watched them go up to the casket, unafraid and, dare I say, joyful?  They touched his skin, declaring it not to feel right, because he had his new skin.  Our family lives with one foot in Heaven.  
My heart physically aches for Annie.  I feel so sad, much of the time.  But one of Jesus’ great paradoxes is the ability to have joy in the midst of it. . . to know that I can be content in His hands.  It doesn’t make sense.  But it is possible.   Joy gives me confidence that I can face whatever comes my way.  Joy makes me content in the loving hands of my Father.  It is a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit. 
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.
  All these things are gone forever.  
Revelation 21:4
I’ll never forget looking at this verse years ago and realizing the progression.  Not only will there be no more death, there won’t even be sorrow.  And not only will there be no more sorrow, there won’t even be crying.  Furthermore, there won’t even be such a thing as pain.  All of them– gone.  It’s inconceivable to me.  Nancy Guthrie says in her “One Year Book of Hope”, “‘No more’ encapsulates some of heaven’s sweetest gifts.”  I’d never thought of it that way, but I love it.  No more.  
You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy when you see me again.  
You have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, 
and no one can rob you of that joy.  
John 16:20, 22
Joy takes work.  Grief takes work.  So many days over the last year I’m not proud of– days when my prayers are simply, “I’m tired of being brave” and “Please, Lord, help my kids not to remember the kind of Mom I was today”.  My joy gets robbed so easily and it’s hard work to get it back.  But someday, I will rejoice!  I will see Jesus and He will restore my full joy.  
My life is an example to many, because You have been my strength and protection. 
 Psalm 71:7
Somehow, some way, God has used our family to be a light for Him.  Somehow, Annie’s short little life has brought others closer to Him.  It isn’t because we are better-than-average.  It isn’t because Peter is a Pastor.  It is because Christ has been our strength.  I often feel so insufficient to this life He has called me to.  THAT, my friends,  is when His power turns up in my life.  So many tell me they could never live the reality I live each day.   But when He calls you to something you know is impossible for you, watch Him work.  Watch Him use you.  He will give you gifts beyond yourself.  
It’s been a year.  A year of sorrow, yet there is hope.  A year of grief, and yet there is joy.  
And so we celebrate.
Thank you, Jesus.
P.S.  Peter and I spoke together on our reflections over this past year.  You can listen to it here.