Into Marvelous Light I’m Running

“Sin has lost its power
Death has lost its sting
From the grave you’ve risen
VICTORIOUSLY
Into marvelous light I’m running
Out of darkness out of shame
By the cross you are the truth
You are the life, you are the way.”

Marvelous Light
-Charlie Hall

We love you Warren Austin Barfield with every fiber of our being. We stretch our necks as far as they can stretch – Looking up toward that eastern sky – Listening for the sound of the trumpet –

Until that day, Dear Jesus, help us to be steadfast, immovable and always looking for ways to make much of YOUR NAME!


50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed

52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Do You SEE What I SEE?

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace


November 2017

When I was new to my grief, I felt overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. Death and its finality seemed more than I could handle. The pain was unbearable and the gaping hole in my heart left me feeling vulnerable and scared.

All I could see was all I had lost.

And yet, somewhere deep down I knew, I had to shift my focus from the things of earth to the promise and hope of Jesus. I needed a clearer vision of eternal things.

 You have said, "Seek my face."
My heart says to you,
"Your face, Lord, do I seek."
Psalm 27

Consider with me what can happen when we look FULL in His wonderful face – When we trade in our earthly lenses for eternal lenses – When we surrender and have a posture of repentance – When we realize it’s not about us, but ALL about Jesus

Now

We are positioned to experience the miracle of his presence.

And it’s in his presence we can begin to see more clearly that His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither our ways his ways (Is. 55:8-9) It’s in his presence that we are given new strength and a special grace to look up and out to see the things we will otherwise miss.


November 2016

I remember a couple years ago I decided to visit the cemetery. On this particular day, the weather was perfect and the sun was beginning to set. I knelt down on the grass with my head bowed. I don’t remember exactly, it’s possible I played a song from my phone or just sat quietly. My heart was heavy and the reality seemed especially harsh. But as I stood to leave, I looked up and could see through the trees what seemed to be a beautiful sunset. However, the trees were blocking my view. I walked quickly to my car as I didn’t want to miss it.

Driving away I smiled as I saw so clearly this visual picture God had given me as a reminder to set my gaze toward heaven. And to be mindful of the distractions that could block my “view”. I was reminded that although there is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with grieving and missing Warren-(NOTHING-He is worth every tear I cry), it’s on the other side of those trees where I want to fix my eyes. Choosing to SEE beyond the bitter tears and weight of sorrow.


"Take the whole world
Give me Jesus
Let all else fade away"
(Fade Away) Click to listen

So today, can we just encourage one another, no matter the “hard” we are facing, to trust and SEE that Jesus is better. And praise him with our lips for as long as we live. (Psalm 63:3-4)

He shall return in robes of white
The blazing sun shall pierce the night
And I will rise among the saints
My gaze transfixed on Jesus’ face

– O Praise the Name (click to listen)

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

Keeping It Simple

The one thing, we should seek after with everything we’ve got –

The one thing, we should set our gaze upon –

The one thing that is better and necessary –

The one thing where we find fullness of joy –

I recently found myself wrestling with this question:

What is my ONE thing? 

In my journey of grief and suffering over the last (almost) 5 years, what would I say is the ONE thing I have learned, experienced, or needed the most?  What is the ONE thing that has provided me the greatest comfort, peace, and brought more joy than I could have ever imagined possible?

Of course, the simple answer is Jesus.  But in my “wrestling,” I felt maybe, my answer needed to have more “depth”, a lengthier explanation.

But here’s the thing – When the “unexpected” happens , and chaos keeps our minds from being able to focus or think clearly – Simple is good.

One thousand eight hundred nine days ago, as we walked out of Texas Children’s Hospital, without Warren – My mind was spinning, and the future of uncertainty threatened my sanity.  So I desperately cried out the only thing I could think of – Please dear Jesus, we need you!

His Presence

And you know what? It was when everything around me seemed out of control that I experienced the presence of God. It was the one thing that brought chaos back to order. It was the one thing that brought indescribable peace and comfort to our painful circumstances. This one thing, is what I continue to seek after, chase down, and ultimately rest in – because I cannot imagine a single moment outside of his glorious presence.

The simple, yet all powerful name of Jesus spoken into our circumstances changes everything…

I love these lyrics from the song Spirit Move

So like the rain, come and drench us in love
Let Your glory rush in like a flood
We are fixed on this one thing
To know Your goodness and see Your glory
We’re transformed by this one thing
To know Your presence and see Your beauty

Another November has rolled around. Of course, it always will. I suppose it’s the mental countdown to the 24th that seems to weary my heart. I just can’t help but wish it were all different. It feels natural to let my heart pause and remember, to feel the pain of loss, and to give in to the tears that I know bring relief and healing. It’s different approaching year 5 – In ways I never thought possible! Still, I find myself trying hard not to let the memories slip so far away…  

And then it happens, a picture sparks a memory, a story, laughter and more stories. We remember our son and our brother. And we are thankful.

My heart is full, and all because of Jesus.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,

That I will seek after:

That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life,

To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord And to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter In the day of trouble;

He will conceal me under the cover of his tent;

He will lift me high upon a rock.  Psalm 27:4-5


Martha welcomed Jesus into her house. She had a sister Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. (Jesus to Martha) – “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary, Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:38-42


Now, if indeed I have found favor in Your sight, please let me know Your ways, that I may know You and find favor in Your sight. Remember that this nation is Your people.” And the LORD answered, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” “If Your Presence does not go with us,” Moses replied, “do not lead us up from here.” Exodus 33:13-15

David longed for it more than anything, Moses understood without it, the journey ahead would be impossible, and Mary experienced it at the very feet of Jesus –

His presence, the radiance of the glory of God who is majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, and the one who upholds the universe by the word of his power. (Hebrews 1:3, Exodus 15:11)

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

We Believe

For years Bill and Warren labeled 
EVERY SINGLE baseball
with his initials. (making it easier to keep up with their balls during practice) 
We have buckets of worn and used
 baseballs that not only remind us of our 
Warren, 
but they also remind us …We Believe.  
We Believe Jesus is better.   
We Believe all His promises are true.  
We believe God sent his one and only son to earth.
We Believe He was crucified and died.
We Believe He rose again.
We Believe He will return.
We Believe the best is yet to come. 

All things work together

We don’t always see the beautiful, behind the scenes, God working in ALL things…the stories, the people, the ‘obstacles and the blessings’ as Carolyn called it~Sometimes we miss it because in our brokenness, our mess and in the confusion of our circumstances, we simply can’t see past the pain or imagine that in “this” God is working (for our good).

Other times, we cry out so desperately for a sign, a word, something tangible, applicable, something real..that when God, in his kindness, comes through in a way that is undeniably from heaven~ You see it and you hold onto it, study it and share it with whoever will listen…

That’s how Wednesday, December 17, 2014 was for me. My heart was broken, my whole body was weak and I wasn’t sure how I could face the reality of Warren’s death another day. It hadn’t even been a month, I was tired and felt a desperateness for Jesus….

Click here to read the “beautiful, behind the scenes” Believe Story.

Wednesday December 17, 2014 (from my journal entry)

Every day is a sad day. Sad doesn’t necessarily mean tears, it’s just an overwhelming feeling~ Something is just NOT RIGHT.

My morning started with a visit from a friend and coffee. It was nice.

Our hot water heater broke, needs to be replaced. No shower.

Need to run errands. Laundry. What I wouldn’t give to be folding Warren’s clothes. I screamed at Grace during a fight about who knows what.

Grace and I decide to get out and do some Christmas shopping. It’s so surreal. How can this be? I find myself gripping the steering wheel several times asking, out loud “Please God show us something, a sign. We need you so desperately this day…” We thanked Him for every parking spot, friendly cashier, the cool weather…

I offered to drive carpool. Surely, I can drive the girls to cheer. We pick up a sweet 8th grade girl (a friend of Warrens) She and Grace giggle in the backseat. Grace asks her about finals…I can’t help but think ‘Warren should be taking finals’…We pass the high school. Another trigger. (something else Warren will be missing out on) I push these thoughts out of my head..Not now, Julie. Pull yourself together!

The girls pile out of the car. The last door is shut and my heart explodes into a thousand pieces. Tears flow and I can’t do a thing to stop it.

I shouted and I asked “Why? Why? Why” As I cried, somehow the sorrow turned to fear and I felt hopeless.

I drove into the driveway, walked straight inside and headed to Warrens room where I fell onto his bed, grabbing his pillow…I cried. My entire body longed for relief. Bill came and snuggled up next to me. The pain was so deep. I asked the Lord to please just help us. I said “O Lord, we believe, but we need to hear from you. Please give us a sign that you are near and that we are going to be ok. Father please help us…Help us believe.”

It became quiet. A quiet that seemed to bring the much needed relief. I felt exhausted. I could have stayed in that moment forever. It somehow felt safe.

At some point we transitioned to the living room. This time and space seemed sacred. There was almost an unspoken feeling of embarrassment..What just happened. Have we gone crazy? Is this grief going to take over?

As if to break the silence my phone dinged. I went to check it and it was my neighbor from across the street. She told be to go outside, there was something in my front yard she wanted me to see.

I guess I had missed it when I drove up. My eyes had been wet with tears and I’d hurried into the house as fast as possible…

I walked out. It was cold and damp. I felt numb. What I saw in our front yard literally sent chills over my entire body. It was a sign. Seven red glittery letters that spelled out the word BELIEVE.

Some may call it coincidence, others a miracle. I know what I know and this was a gift from the God who weeks earlier promised to hold me. This was a word for me to cling to as I journeyed the most difficult excruciating season of my life.

He hears me. He sees me. He cares for me. He IS working…

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together….for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:26-28

I am still on the journey of what it looks like to believe when life doesn’t go as you planned or hoped. Moving from head knowledge to heart knowledge, delighting in the Lord and treasuring Him above all else. Surrendering all and fully trusting that He is who He says He is.

Another First

It seems like “firsts” are still the norm for us. As Christmas quickly approaches we have decided for the first time since Warren died to be at home…Just the 3 of us. But we are BELIEVING, fully expectant that it’s going to be ok. It just will. And, in fact, maybe it will be better than ok.

Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus..The baby boy in the manger that has changed EVERYTHING!

I Can’t Help But Wonder…

3/2012

I miss this freckled face boy every day…and my heart aches as he would have turned 17 on March 23rd

Warren went to heaven on November 24, 2014..He was 13.

Around his birthday, more than any other time, I wonder more about what he would look like and how our lives would be different if he were still here.

 

Wondering can be painful, as my thoughts drift toward the things that will never be…

Would you be dating?  Would you be playing a sport?  What kind of car would you be driving?  Would you be tall and skinny?  Would your hair be long or short?   Who would your friends be? What would you do for fun on a Friday night?  Where would you want to go to college

I also wonder about Heaven.  I wonder about you in Heaven and what that might be like.  I wonder about that day … when I will see you again…

And then I wonder….

I wonder how my life would be different?   Would I really know Jesus like I do now?  Would I undoubtedly know and have experienced true peace?   I wonder…Would I cling to His Word like I couldn’t live without it ?  Would I genuinely long for Heaven or still be trying to find contentment in this world? I wonder …..would I understand wholeheartedly the need to strive for him? Would I truly know what it means to set my eyes on things above?  

I wonder if my anthem would unquestionably be ‘Jesus Is Enough’ & ‘Heaven Is Better’?  Would my hope be in Christ alone?  

I wonder COULD I really, undoubtedly, truly, genuinely, wholeheartedly & unquestionably know the Jesus I know today outside of my suffering?

As I look ahead to Easter, the cross, the death, the burial and the resurrection…I wonder can I like Paul, consider everything else (the satisfactions of this world) worthless when compared to the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus?

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as loss, so that I could gain Christ  and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.  I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death,  so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! Philippians 3:7-11

These are Paul’s words not mine.  I want to be able to proclaim like he did, but if I’m 100% honest I  wish I could have all of Jesus AND Warren.  I wish there had been another way… A life of little suffering… and certainly not the kind of suffering that comes with the death of a child.

But like Paul and like Jesus who set his face toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51) I want to position my eyes upward.  I want to press on, straining forward to what lies ahead -Future Glory!

As we observe this Good Friday, pondering the cross, the brutal death of our Savior…For me and for you…I wonder what it must have been like for him?  Scripture says he was greatly distressed and troubled, his soul was very sorrowful, even to death.  He fell to the ground as he prayed and asked the Father if it were possible the hour might pass from him. (Mark 14:34-36)

As I wonder… I set my eyes on the cross.  I humbly position my heart today to pray.  I can’t really answer all the questions of my wondering, but I do know this…I’m changed because of my suffering and how God in his infinite grace and mercy meets me there…. And because of Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection, I have hope.

What do you wonder?  I pray that in your own wondering, you find the beautiful Hope of Jesus Christ…

Giving Your Heart and Head Time to Catch Up…

 

Harvey 

…As I scroll through Facebook, I continue to see pictures and stories of how flood waters have violently left an unwanted mark in peoples lives.  Neighbors who have lost everything…. homes, cars, and other personal belongings.  The devastation has been unreal, and yet SO VERY REAL TO MANY!!

As heart breaking as it is, there are also stories and pictures that are a wonderful illustration of  strength, community, and redemption….It’s not going to happen overnight, and it won’t be easy, but we are HOUSTON STRONG! 🙂

There are no words to really describe what people are going through or what their “new normal” is since Harvey…because, although my heart knows loss, it’s different, and I can’t pretend to understand what people are feeling at this moment…and I’m just so sorry.

 

My Personal Storm

I recently explained to someone that on August 21,  Grace started school, 9th grade, High school, without her brother…A new schedule, a new season…Adjusting to new days without Warren.  This will be our 3rd (school) year.  With time, practice and lots of prayer, we are figuring out how to use certain “tools” to protect our hearts and push through the hard!

So, when Harvey hit….and school came to an abrupt halt, my heart and my head were thrown for a loop.  Literally a storm hit our city and my heart all at the same time. I must  confess that the storm and all the pain and suffering around me has been a trigger, and my heart misses Warren so terribly…More than usual, and its been difficult to shake..

However, I am realizing, that although it’s unique for all of us, people are hurting and trying to make sense of their current situation…and wondering when/if things will ever be normal again.

Truth & Encouragement

In a message given by our pastor after the storm, he said something that I needed to hear and wanted to share …. Not that you need permission from me, but maybe you need permission from you….

It’s OK to grieve over the loss of your “stuff”..your house, your things, the way things used to be.  

It is not materialistic to walk into your house and feel sad about the things that are ruined or dirty or missing.  It must be a terrible feeling to walk into a place where you once felt safe and comfortable, have snuggled on the couch and watched movies, raised a family, gathered for holidays, celebrated birthdays..and see such disorder.  It’s like someone came in without permission and invaded your personal space…

I’m a very sentimental person…and especially since Warren’s death, there are things and places, and memories of how life used to be (should be) that are very special to me.

Give yourself the freedom to grieve.  Allow yourself the opportunity to feel the pain that comes with loss..even the loss of things.  Remembering too, that this process is different for everyone.

I keep hearing, “this is not a race, its a marathon.”…Such Truth!!…..It’s going to take time! Your heart and your head need time to catch up…It’s not always.. “pull yourself up by your bootstraps and charge forward…”

One of my favorite texts to receive is one that a friend or family member will send reminding me ..”we are still with you..”  I’m learning that not all of us are “first responders”…but this road will be long for many and there is a lot of work still to be done.

I still Believe He Is Good and His Promises are True

The bible talks about the various trials that we will endure as Christ followers.  We are not to be surprised by them.  It is in these times of great difficulty that I pray our faith is increased …I pray that we remain steadfast.

I can’t say it’s not a little messy walking out our faith in the middle of pure exhaustion, uncertain times, and heavy hearts…but I do know that at the end of the day…Jesus is enough!

There will be days when we feel like throwing our arms in the air and shouting, “I can’t!” ..and go ahead…Do it!  You’ll feel better!  But in that moment of complete desperateness, I believe He reaches down and strengthens our weak and feeble hands and makes straight our path.

Yes!  I really still believe this ..and I do not pretend to know or understand your personal journey…and I certainly don’t make light of it, but I do trust that the only Hope worth holding onto is Jesus.

Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.  Psalm 62:8

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

I have set the Lord before me, because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope!  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”  Lamentations 3:21-24

 

Living With Brokenness For 827 Days…

How I wish things could be…

Living with brokenness for 827 days, 118 weeks, 27 months is challenging and time consuming.  It’s exhausting.  Missing Warren and wishing I could go back…Wondering how I can possibly do this for another day or week, much less another 800 days.

I want to hear his voice, I want to feel his arm around me, I want to smell his “scent”.  I want him to be here for Grace.  I want him to give her advice about high school, boys, and all the other things her big brother  would do.  I don’t want her to be an only child, wishing for her brother to still be here.  I don’t want the “handshake” they had together to be something she now does in the air…alone.  I hate when she goes down the street to shoot hoops all by herself.

I want Bill to have his son.  I don’t want Bill left alone at the house while Grace and I do cheer.  I want them hunting together or playing baseball.  I want Bill to be having grown up, mature conversations with his boy about driving and dating and college.  I don’t want Bill getting ready for baseball season…alone, without Warren.

I wish I was posting a picture of him and a date at the formal from last weekend or getting ready for the Sweet 16 dance.

I struggle with the realization that Grace has now passed him in age.  Her older brother is now younger than she is.  It’s like all of a sudden we have no frame of reference.  Everything is new for us…graduating 8th grade, high school, driving.  It’s weird and hard to explain.

On one hand it’s like we are leaving him behind.  As we leave middle school and the memories of the last couple years behind, I feel like we leave a part of us as well.  Although going back was so difficult after Warren died..it’s all we’ve known and it almost brings me comfort to be where he last was..A new school, means new memories that don’t include him.

IMG_0581

“various trials”

As time keeps ticking and we wake to face another day..we are forced to face many other life issues…

We are not immune to life’s other “various trials”.

I remember thinking right after Warren died that surely we would get a “break”…We did not, and have not.  I could list major obstacles and challenges that have come our way just in the last 6 months.  Parenting and marriage is hard when operating from a very broken place.  Juggling time and responsibilities bring stress and sleepless nights.

In the beginning we gave ourselves a bit of a break, knowing people would understand (or hoping they would)…But now, it’s just different

I don’t know if the statement “Time Heals” is accurate, but “Life Goes On” certainly is!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Not the Only One With Stuff…

I have found myself on my knees praying and asking God to “please help us”!  That may sound a bit dramatic, but the truth is I can’t face any of this alone.  Not the “normal” stuff, not the hurt, not being a mother, not being a wife…and on and on!

In my weakness, the above paragraphs of “how I wish things could be”…would always take over and despair would set in (and believe me it happens)

But as I have cried and worked through some things..I also know I’m not the only one with “STUFF”

I’ve been reading and following Katherine and Jay Wolf and reading their book Hope Heals.  www.hopeheals.com 

Katherine suffered a massive brain stem stroke and lives with many physical disabilities.  She is paralyzed on 1/2 her body and is in a wheelchair.

Even in her own suffering she realizes… just because you’re not in a wheelchair doesn’t mean you don’t face seasons of life where you feel stuck or paralyzed with no way out…

Oh, how often life has not turned out the way we planned.

All of our suffering is unique and cannot be compared..However, no matter the specifics of our circumstances there is only one answerone hope and that is Jesus.  We all might journey differently to land here, but no matter your hurt, or fear, or the unbearable situation you face….there is ONE Hope, One salvation, One Jesus and He cares about YOU and me!

So, as I scrolled through Instagram earlier and saw a precious newborn facing certain challenges his sweet momma never dreamed they would …I am reminded of the one thing that most often connects us ~ our pain and brokenness.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.  (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Why are you downcast O my soul and why are you disquieted within me?  Hope in God.  For I shall again praise Him.  He is my help and my God. (Psalm 42:5,11 43:5)