From my journal:  Thursday, August 15

I am taking off my shoes.
It’s holy ground time.
The decision of our Ft. Wayne doctors to move Josh into Palliative Care magnifies the preciousness of every moment.

Life and living will take on new dimensions. Attentiveness will become the norm—an attentativeness to beauty, pain, process, the Presence of God.

New ground.
Holy ground.

Pray for us as we prepare our children for this place—for the taking off of their own shoes to tread on this terrain. Pray for us as we help Josh remove his shoes to travel this road where we will walk with him until his final step. There, with pounding hearts, we will witness him walk alone across the finish line into the arms of the Living God. It’s a victory won by the beaten body and undying obedience of Jesus God’s only Son.

We don’t know.  This may be the beginning of the end — or Josh may stabilize.  There is no way to know.  There is no need to know.  Each day will be a gift, a grace poured out before us.  We will drink it t the full.

Today, my eyes sting over the thought of telling our kids.  Sam and Joe know.  Noah asks questions.  The tone in Anna’s voice is changing as she inquires about Josh and how he’s feeling.  They all know….but the saying it out loud will be the most holy territory we’ve ever walked as a family.  Pray for the work of God in each of their lives.  Pray they are not afraid.

Yesterday I told our pastor, in tears, that I was ready to say goodbye to Josh, but that I was not ready to watch him suffer.  My biggest fear — air hunger.  Will he be gasping for breath, eyes wide and wild with fear.  That is is the fear that stands before me.  It makes me cower.

“I don’t want to be afraid!”   “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear….” I John 4 shouts out.  The whole chapter is crazy on love because God is in crazy love with us.  I don’t want to be afraid.  I’ve been wrestling with it.  I want it defeated.

This morning, in the light that came peeking through our window blinds, I read a few more pages of Ann Voskamp’s book… pages 37-41.  I was blessed, challenged, touched…then 40 words from the end of this chapter — there it was.

“A word to seize…fearless dying.’

Fearlessness.  That was the focus of my prayers throughout the night.

God is here.
God is here!  Speaking.  Coaxing.  Calling.
Do you see Him?  With me?  With us?  With Josh?
Fear has lost its power today.  (It may return.  God can handle that.)  But right now, it’s been dismantled — it’s ugly, life-depleting energy sucked dry.  God’s foot is on its chest.

We embark on a journey.
Fearless dying.

Some we love are taken from us in a flash.  We are left stunned, gasping, heaving.  Life as we know it lies shattered in a thousand pieces.

Some we love embark on a journey.  We are invited to travel along to the edge of Glory.
The boat is readied.  The anchor lifted.  We set out into unchartered territory.
The sails billow in the wind.  Life as we know it slowly disappears behind us.

The voyage we take together is an intimate one.  It is unknown.  There is a vastness before us.
The waters, at times, will rage.  Wave will stack upon wave.  The wind will seek to destroy.
The waters, at times, will grow gentle and still.  In the quiet, a sea gull’s call might be heard.
Just as the sun is trusted to rise and set on the horizon each day, God can be trusted to make his presence known through whispers, wonders and great hope.
God is at the rudder.
We don’t have to be afraid.

God is very near.  He is preparing us, with tremendous care, to embark on a voyage of fearless dying, love unleashed and hope soaring to new heights.

We are Glory bound.

First time here?

16 thoughts on “Embarking”

  1. Brenda, our church is praying for you and your precious family. Some who are reading your words are gathering courage as they face the mortality of their own family members and themselves, as we all are in the grand scheme of things. Thank you for continuing to bravely look upward and point us in the same direction. All of us will joyfully unite in heaven, if not here; no more tears, all understood. It’s Friday, Sunday’s a comin’! God bless you. We’re walking with you and lifting you up.

  2. Thank you for sharing so generously a glimpse of your journey – I’m so glad I was pointed to your blog this week. You might not feel very graceful inside, but your words have taught me a lot about handling pain and heaviness with grace and a never ending grip on God. You are a strong mama and your children are incredibly blessed because of you. I pray you find some kind of comfort and rest as you walk through this with your precious boy.

  3. Oh how I hate the devil! How I hate his attacks on the children of God! The Bible says he is LIKE a lion, yet I’ve watched him kill, steal, destroy. I’ve seen his snapping jaws as they attack the defenseless ones. I’ve felt the ravages of pain and feelings of defeat. He is a mighty foe and he screams in our ears loud lies of his power and victory. I hate the devil.

    But….we have a God Who is our victory. He is our comfort, strength, and hope. Though deth may come and steal a piece of us, God brings victory to the very act. Death a victory? God, help us see. The enemy is a liar and a fraud. Yes, victory as we walk into he power of Easter for ourselves. Resurrection. No more healings. New life. Bursting out of the shell that has failed us. Bursting forth into…what? I don’t know…eye cannot see…but it’s glorious. We cannot begin to imagine the wholeness and freedom and joy. This life…this world…is too small to contain it. This life? A mere shadow. The next? True reality. Joy unspeakable. Peace. Pleasure. Understanding. True love.

    My friend, you have shown your children that love we will all soon know. Easter is coming. Lets die the eggs and pull out the baskets. For us all….Easter is coming.

  4. Brenda and family,
    How my heart aches for you yet rejoices with the certainty of Josh’s victory in Jesus. Your faithfulness, strength, and weakness is such a witness for all. So many will continue to pray you through.
    “Strengthen the feeble hands,
    Steady the knees that give way;
    Say to those with fearful hearts,
    Be strong, do not fear;
    Your God will come,
    He will come with vengeance;
    With divine retribution
    He will come to save you.”
    Isaiah 35:3-4

    Kat (Mills) Gridley

  5. Each day The Lord washes over me another incredible memory of Josh. Was thinking this morning of when he first arrived; what a long awaited gift that has continued to reflect the perfect love of Jesus to everyone that has crossed his flight plan:). “Mrs. H.”

  6. Mark Murphy sent me the link to your blog the other day. I’ve not met you but I’ve been thinking of you, feeling heavy in my heart for you, praying for you. Thank you for sharing here ~ may God Himself keep your fear away. Praying with groans that the Spirit will intercede…

  7. Praying for you Brenda and Josh and the rest of the family. Praying for Gods love to surround you, Josh, and the family. For perfect love cast out fear I am praying Gods love surrounds you all as you all embark on this journey together.

  8. Words are few . . . Thoughts and prayers are many! May you feel God’s PEACE and PRESENCE guiding you!

    Beth (Deanna’s sister)

  9. how fittingthis was posted on 23aug, delia’s birth/heaven day…we read that verse from 1 john at her funeral.

    such a comfort. praying…so hard, for those fears to be released.

    we love you all

    • Shel,
      He is if faithful beyond compare. Wipes our tears. Bestows great hope. Takes us to places we never knew existed.
      My love to you on Delia’s 2nd year birthday / heaven day! Josh has always wanted to be a dad. He’s catching the vision that there will be little ones to love and cuddle.
      Love, Brenda

  10. Dear Brenda,

    It’s not been uncommon for the Lord to bring you to mind over the years since we met. Typically I thank Him for you, pray His watch over you, ask for His breath to help you breathe. But lately, He has had you forward in my mind, in the center of my heart, so I came looking for you the night of the 25th. I found you here, whispering your fears, experiencing the nearness of God in the difficulty of your days. God showed me. He has a way about Him, doesn’t He? He sent me that night to hug you. The knowing kind of hug, before I knew how very much you needed it.

    The note I left that night got hung up and never posted, but that didn’t keep me from praying for you, the mom, the wife, the friend. My sister heart aches for you. I see you sitting with your boy, holding his hand . . . holding his world in your hand . . . leaning in to let him catch the rhythm of your breath. I’m praying now for Josh, life-giver, joy-lover, wonder of wonders, Abba’s delight. His light carries hope. Throughout his years, he has loved, he has worshiped, he has been the apple of your eye, the apple of the eyes of his family, his community, your community.

    Tonight, I stood in the neighborhood pool, this warm South Carolina evening, holding a 16 year old girl with cerebral palsy, among other special needs . . . and my heart spilled tears. She doesn’t belong to me, Abby Girl. But the Lord has given her to me on special assignment, a shared guardianship, if you will, as my closest friends have temporary protective custody of Abby. I couldn’t stop thinking how deeply the Father must love me for allowing me to hold such a precious little lamb, to care for her, to love her. And I couldn’t stop thinking of you.

    So I came to find you again, to tell you how much you are loved. I’m praying for you, for your precious family, for your love, Josh. I pray He catches the rhythm of Abba’s breath, as he’s seen his mom do throughout the years of his life.

    Brenda, you are loved.

    May the Lord’s strength be yours,


    (robinstanleycoaches@gmail.com, cell: 407-221-0954.)

    • Robin. Robin.
      You, too, are never long out of my thoughts and prayers.
      Oh how the Lord works, to bring us to the forefront of your heart and mind at this time.
      It is good.
      Good to reconnect.
      The blessings continue.
      Catching the rhythm of Abba’s breath.
      Delighting in Love. In joy. Tears. Abby Girl’s love and life.
      Onward dear friend.
      Love and prayers.


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