By Degrees- Living and Dying

I woke slowly this morning. From my vantage point in bed, I was able to see the sunrise. My baby was curled in the stretch of my back and I could hear the crackle the fire my guy had built downstairs. I didn't have the strength to travel to his side, but I loved the comfort of hearing him- knowing he was using the quiet to speak with Jesus about our now, our story, our hearts, and our children. Their is a constant pulse of an IV the doctor sent me home with Friday. The horizon outside my window was mostly gray, soft- a snow promised in the days forecast. Then for a moment, a beautiful pink filled the horizon- then it suddenly faded back to gray. It felt like a gift to watch and see this simple moment. No fanfare simple beauty- then the return of ordinary gray. As I grieved the passing beauty, I realized there is something astounding of the soft tones that aren't showy as well.

I am thinking a lot about the living we do lately. We live by degrees and now I'm learning how we also die by degrees, and in it all their is beauty. I have spent so much time thinking on big love and wondering how we press past our own limitations we place on ourselves and love beyond our limits. How do we move beyond our comfort and into a realm greater than our understanding. We find a comfort near to Jesus, knowing His love, and begin to overflow from the bounty he has provided in our lives. It takes courage. It causes heartache at times, but there is always a return. Loving big in new corners always grows a spirit in strength- perhaps not tangible strength, but a strength that would cause the spirit to continue to try. Continue to wonder over love, wonder over extending boundaries.

And now, now I'm learning what it is to die by degrees. Parts of my body failing, parts of my abilities vanishing, and what then? Yesterday, I kept thinking- I drove for the last time and didn't realize it was the last time. I don't remember the last time in the drivers seat or the music we played.  I just realized I will likely never again drive. It's this weird event that marks the fading of a life, and I have no feeling other than wonder over the fact that it's over. That chapter. All the driving my body can no longer do will now be captured by my community, my loves, my people. And there will be other strengths that will languish, and my people will press into love and provide us the needed strength and support to manage that new edge.

I listened to my husband make the impossible phone call this morning. He called hospice. He told him that his young wife was dying, but they already knew. My kind-faced oncologist had called and told them. They were gentle and gave us a time they would be here to meet with us. The call you never expect when you are still getting your footing on living and loving and confidence in faith and who you are. But our hands have been pulled wide of our story, and peace enters. Jason walks into the room and said- I did one thing I needed to today. Needed to but never wanted to- he called Hospice because I am dying.

So, there it is. My little body has grown tired of battle and treatment is no longer helping. But what I see, what I know, what I have is Jesus. He has still given me breath, and with it I pray I would live well and fade well. By degrees doing both, living and dying, as I have moments left to live. I get to draw my people close, kiss them and tenderly speak love over their lives. I get to pray into eternity my hopes and fears for the moments of my loves. I get to laugh and cry and wonder over heaven. I do not feel like I have the courage for this journey, but I have Jesus- and He will provide it. He has given me so much to be grateful for, and that gratitude, that wondering over His love will cover us all. And it will carry us- carry us in ways we cannot comprehend. It will be a new living and trusting for many in my community. Loving with a great big open hand to my story being the good story- even when it feels so broken.

Will you trust Jesus with us? Love us today by imagining how you can press deeper into love in the place you live. Give away what was never yours to keep. Love us by extending yourself in the corners of your world in a way that shines bright the light on the strength of Jesus and His unwavering love and grace. Love us by not meeting our  story in pity, but pray that Jesus would tenderly meet us as we walk these new hard steps together as a community. Will you walk in grace with us to my last breath? Will you commit us to prayer? Will you trust Jesus that He knows the moments, He holds the moments, and He will take me away to the land of no more tears at exactly the right moment- and He will also shepherd and love my people after that last breath.

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