Hope is an Anchor

Hope is an Anchor

we have this hope
It is often said that grief comes in waves. It’s true I suppose, but seldom are they the gentle waves that lap at our feet as we wiggle our toes in the sand on the beach. No, while over time some waves of grief do not rock us with such force that they knock us off our feet, many grief waves are the violent, hurricane type that threaten the integrity of even the sturdiest vessels. These waves swell from deep within the sea of life and often arise without warning. They are towering walls of water that are unavoidable and can leave us feeling battered, broken and hopeless. When these raging waters threaten to overtake your weary soul, drop your anchor into the sure foundation found in the river of grace.

“We have this this hope as an anchor of the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrew 6:19
Horatio Spafford was a wealthy Chicago lawyer. He was a devout Christian and faithful student of the Scriptures. He seemed to have everything good in life. He had a thriving legal practice, a beautiful home, and a loving family. At the height of his success, he and his wife, Anna, lost their young son. Shortly thereafter, on October 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed almost all of Spafford’s real estate investments. In an effort to rest and recover from all the tragedy, the Spaffords scheduled a vacation to Europe. Horatio sent his wife and four daughters ahead of him while he remained in Chicago to take care of some unexpected last minute business. Several days later he received notice that the ship carrying his family had collided with another vessel. Anna narrowly escaped, but all four of their daughters drowned.

With a heart that weighed heavy in his chest, he boarded a ship that would take him to be with Anna in England. I cannot imagine the magnitude of such loss, yet when his boat came to the spot where the collision had taken the lives of his daughters, Spafford penned the words to the hymn, “ It Is Well With My Soul”. Horatio Spafford trusted his Anchor. Though his sorrow like sea billows rolled, he let peace like a river attend his soul. The tragic story of Spafford’s loss has given hope to countless thousands.

It Is Well With My Soul
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well (it is well),
With my soul (with my soul), It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

Refrain

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Refrain

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou will whisper Thy peace to my soul.

Refrain

And Lord haste the day, when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so it is well with my soul.

Refrain
The waves come, the storm rages, but we are not alone in this tempest. Our faith tethers us to an anchor of hope that is based on truth and the certainty of our salvation to steady our souls while we weather the present storms. Let your tears fall into the grace water that runs over our Anchor. Let these waters of peace be a sponge to your dry lips. Feel it trickle over you and then let it flow over you washing away the darkness. His river of grace is more powerful than the tides of destruction that threaten.

 

Jimmy Needham was a friend of our son, Taylor.  Listen to his beautiful version of this comforting hymn.

I’m praying for you!

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Father’s Day

 

I stand at the kitchen counter making a Tres Leche Cake for my man for Father’s Day. It’s his favorite dessert and it’s one small thing that I can do for this man God gave me to journey with me on this walk through life and to lead our children by setting an example as a Godly father. I am wrestling with the blanket of melancholy that threatens to smother me as we approach yet another holiday; a holiday my man calls a “made up holiday so people can sell things”.

He would rather forget about today, as if that were possible. He doesn’t want it to be about him. Instead he chooses to focus on others. He began the day by teaching our only daughter how to make his special pancakes. He celebrates his own father by dutifully wrapping the gift card (Yes, of course he wrapped it in Christmas paper!). He grills lunch for our families and tries to enjoy the banter around the table. He sits next to our college son who came home to be with the man he loves and honors. He waits for he knows the far away son will call. He puts on the bracelet that a young son made for him and holds the sign he picked out especially for him to hang in his man cave and we take a picture so we can have a memory.

I mix the cake and I grin as my mind takes me to the smile that I know will be on his face when he takes a bite and makes that “mmm umm” sound I know he will make. Yet, I still feel it tightening. The sweltering heat and irritation of the lugubrious blanket of grief wraps around me. My heart breaks as I watch the man I love so much through the window while he drives his tractor over the field. It’s his form of therapy. It’s a place he can be alone and open with the emotions that plague him. It’s a place he can cry out to God where no one can see his pain. But I know how he hurts and I watch him as he struggles with the emotions of a day that once brought joy and now brings pain.

So I intentionally shift my focus. A small Chipping Sparrow flies by and lands in the slender branches of the Taylor Juniper outside my kitchen window. The green, spindly limbs are tousled by the blowing wind. The little sparrow doesn’t seem to notice. As I look more closely I see that nestled deep inside the slender tree that we purposely planted because of its name, is a nest. Four fuzzy little heads perched on long skinny necks poke themselves up above the safe walls of the nest. They open wide their disproportionally large mouths in anticipation of a meal and mom carefully divides the feast and then flies away. All the while, there is another sparrow perched on the nearby shepherd’s hook that holds the hummingbird feeder. He seems innocuous, but as the teenaged boy appears with a weedeater, he quickly takes flight to the nest to protect the young babies while mom is in search of another course to satisfy their insatiable appetites. This is father. The babies seem oblivious to his role in their lives, yet he is integral in their survival. It is his job to watch, sometimes from a distance, so that he can protect them. He is always there, even when the young ones are unaware. When danger seems to be imminent, he sweeps in closely.  Another lesson in nature of the one true Father.

I stop and thank God for my man who is such an amazing father. I thank Him for the lesson of the Chipping Sparrow, an often overlooked part of His creation. I thank God that I can call him Father and that He is always watching and protecting. For now, I lay aside my blanket of melancholy and allow this moment to be woven into a warm blanket of security that provides much needed comfort.

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A Picture of Hope

“Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?”  Matthew 2:26

cardinal in tree live photo

Pretty little red birds sitting in the branches of a naked tree whose narrow trunk and spindly branches reach from the earth’s frozen ground as if lifeless- you are so gloriously unaware of the harsh realities of winter that surround you. Your very presence seems so unlikely in this scene in which you unknowingly play such an important role. Your beautiful coat of protective red feathers is such a stark contrast to the grey, dreary sky that hangs heavy with snow that promises to soon cover the prickly winter grass. The wind bites with sharp teeth that cut to the bone. Yet, you gather with three of your friends and sing a song. Perhaps it is a song to your Creator in whose security you know you can trust to cover you as you wait for the promise of spring.

You are a picture of hope! Hope that we so desperately need to survive from one day to the next. A hope that was proven by another tree that seemed to hold death, yet brought New Life through a resurrected Savior. A gift from an unchangeable God who takes care of the cardinal we take for granted, but who loves us even in our natural self-centeredness enough to care for our well-being at any cost to Himself. This unchangeable God of hope is the same yesterday, today and forever. Heb 13:8

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What “Redbirds in a Winter Tree” is all About

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My name is Kristi Prince.  I have been happily married for 31 years to my husband, Tim.  We have 6 children on earth and a son who has been worshiping in Heaven at the feet of Jesus for two years now.  This is my first experience with blogging, but I feel as though God has led me to share our story with others who have lost children so that together we might intentionally seek hope through our tragedy.

Some have said that life is a journey.  Rarely does a journey take you on a straight path from point A to point B without a few unexpected twist and turns.  “Redbirds in a Winter Tree” is about intentionally seeking hope while struggling with a very unexpected and unwelcome part of our life’s journey.  On April 24, 2013 we lost our oldest son, Taylor.  For those of you who have experienced the loss of a child, no matter the age, you know that this is a hurt like no other. You have been thrown on a path that seems arduous and unending; a path of chaos, confusion and obstacles that seem insurmountable as you struggle daily to just put one exhausted foot in front of the other.  I wish that through this blog I could provide you a road map for your journey, but the truth is that I don’t know the best route for you to travel.  Your odyssey will have detours and road blocks that are unique.  My purpose in the blog is to be honest and transparent about our personal battle so that you might be better able to fight your own.There is only One who can direct your path as you trust in Him with your whole heart.  There is no understanding on your own.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

He is our only Hope and the only way to find our way through the darkness is walking beside the Light of the World.

“Redbirds in a Winter Tree” came about as I literally cried out to God on one of my darkest days.  One dreary January morning while my other children were still safe in their beds, I stood at my kitchen island with tears running down my face and told Him that I just couldn’t do this!  I pleaded with Him to give me some glimmer of hope to hang onto even if just for the day.  As I looked across our front lawn, sitting in the branches of a group of trees whose winter bare branches stretched out like gnarled arthritic fingers stiff from the bitter cold, sat four beautiful cardinals and two bluebirds.  God’s voice was almost visible like the puffs of vapor that rise from speech in the chilling winter air.  He spoke His peace over me, showing me that in the midst of winter there is the promise of spring.  I knew then that I had to be intentional in seeking this hope everyday.  This would help me to focus on Him rather than on my pain.

There are few days when I find this an easy thing to do.  When your feet hit the floor in the morning after a restless night’s sleep, your first thought is of the exhaustion of facing another day of pain, tears, fear and anxiety.  You would much rather crawl back in bed, but it’s not an option.  Stop now and begin the day in prayer.  Ask God to show you hope even in the small things. We must be intentional in our quest for hope and allow the river of grace to pour into our dark, hardened places, washing away our anger and depression.  Let’s try to stay focused on the finish line as we navigate this obstacle course of grief.  Of one thing we can be sure, that while our lives have been forever changed, the author of life is “the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.” Heb 13:8.  “He is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end,” Rev 22:13.  He knows how the journey ends!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

I may not know each of you personally, but our Comforter and God of Hope does! I promise to lift you up in prayer before Him daily.

In His Love,

Kristi

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