January 11, 2012

Eliminating the Bitter in Bittersweet Moments

Our daughter Sarah posted this on her blog yesterday.  We wanted to share it here as well. 

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Eliminating the Bitter in Bittersweet Moments:

I just downloaded these pictures of Maya hanging out with her Opa. I love that we have captured these moments of my dad spending time with our daughter. I love how the sun is streaming in the window behind them while my dad is listening to her tales about Alyssa (her doll) and all she did that day.

Spending time with her Opa....

And laughing her head off with her Opa!

I love this picture, just love it! I love how it contrasts the bittersweetness of our life right now.

The bitter? Seeing my dads hands in this picture gets me. They are so not him. They are becoming more curled up and gnarled every day. Yet in a way they are so him. Or I should say, they are becoming him. They are becoming how I picture my dad when I think of him and I cannot decide if this bothers me or not.

The bitter? In this picture I know that my dad can just barely hold Maya on his lap still and that his days of him holding our children are almost over.

The bitter? The fact that I know that the chair they are sitting in is almost completely standing in an upright position because my dad is having troubles breathing in a regular sitting position (or in any position for that matter).

The ultimate bitter is probably the fact that this disease is showing no signs of slowing down. No signs of plateauing or easing up. This reality is present everyday, every moment. It is impossible to ignore anymore. A few months ago if my dad was sitting in a chair and chatting with you, it was not hard to pretend or imagine that he did not even have ALS.

That is not the case anymore. His voice, his slow movements, his curled hands, his puffy feet, and the way he is starting to struggle with each and every breath he takes. All reminders, constant glaring reminders that this disease is rapidly taking our dad.

But there is also the sweetness of this picture. The sweetness? The joy I can see on Maya's face, the giggles I know that were happening when this picture was taken. The way her head is thrown back in an explosion of laughter and happiness, so real and true. The sweetness? The look on my dads face as he looks at our daughter. I see his love for her in this picture and it touches my heart.

So despite the reality of the bitter, we are doing our best to live these days with joy and enjoy the sweetness of this life as well. It is my dad's desire to honour Christ not only in his life, but also in his death. And it is our desire as his family to not only support our dad in his journey, but for us to also honour Christ in all things. Honour Him in receiving blessings as well as having these blessings taken away from our lives. It is our desire to say as Job said, The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

In his book Dont Waste Your Life John Piper says "God and God alone is the only treasure who lasts. When everything in life is stripped away except God, and we trust Him more because of it, this is gain, and He is glorified. ....No one ever said that they learned their deepest lessons of life on the sunny days. People go deep with God when the drought comes."

And we read in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.....For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

You just have to read those words again to fully comprehend them. The promise of eternal glory beyond all comparison! Those words alone extinguish the bitter in the bittersweet and must leave us with nothing but sweetness and pure joy!



  1. Dear Family: this post struck a real chord with us....may God uphold you in His grace through both the bitter and the sweet times - His pathway is full of wisdom beyond our imagining, and His heart is full of love as He directs the feet of those who are His by grace....praying for you. With Christian love, John & Jen Jongerden & family

  2. This was a beatiful post! Praying for you all as you go through this journey.

  3. This brings tears to my eyes. The love that shines through each of these words. Praying that the Lord will give you strength to rest in Him in ALL THINGS!!! :) May the Lord bless you!!!

  4. These words can only be written by a daughter who is held up by the Lord through prayers.

  5. Thank you so much for such a great reminder of the journey we are all on. And when we compare this short, short life to the incredible endlessness of eternity, we can only look to the journey ahead, and while doing that, treasure the beautiful moments that the Lord gives us along the journey to our HOME. What precious pictures, what beautiful memories, but even more beautiful is your whole family's wish to glorify our Lord as you walk this difficult journey. My prayers are continually with you!

  6. Thank you for sharing...we are praying, and also praising God for His love, grace, peace and faith that is so evident in your lives...♥the Schenks

  7. May the God of all strength, guide and support you all.