Saturday, January 30, 2016

Emerging from the fog

Continued from Another Vision of Heaven.

Sometimes my life seems more like a movie than real life. A beautiful, Divinely-directed Movie. The twists and turns in the plots have had me on the edge of my seat, especially for the past sixteen years. Once I reluctantly surrendered a tiny bit of myself to God, what an adventure He has led me on during  my unexpected journey of adoption. With His help, I've navigated landmines of fear.  I've soared to the mountaintop of joy, and descended to the deepest abyss of agony. I will not visit the graveyard of hopeless despair. Even in the throes of this present grief, I still recognize the Grand Journey orchestrated by God. I still count my blessings.

In the early months of 2000, God first whispered "adoption" to my selfish, stubborn, and profoundly deaf heart. Very gradually, though, in my resigned and puny surrender, God led me, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the scariest and yet most transformative experience of my life, resulting in intimate knowledge of God. And He rewarded my meager obedience with the most precious child to mother. Roma. I am still humbled by that honor granted me. Read But the Greatest of These is Love to learn about those exciting scenes of my life's Movie. In the years since that still small Voice grew increasingly louder and more persistent to where I could not avoid taking tiny and terrified steps toward obedience, God has achieved the miraculous, and my faith has become unshakable.

Roma in Idaho, July 2014
I would need that keen awareness of a powerful God when, on December 7, 2015, we lost that kind heart and joyful personality that defined our beautiful Roma. Where do I go from here? Nothing make sense without God.

 I'm left with thousands of puzzle pieces. Some are assembled and frozen into isolated still shots of my Movie. I'm trying to fit them all together.  I know there is a connection with all these pieces.

Grief writers and counselors talk about the "fog" or "bubble" where mourners  feel an initial isolation from the real world. It is true. My reaction would not have been so different those first few days following Roma's death, had someone announced that they were bringing over dinner or that aliens from outer space had landed on my front lawn.

The first couple of days, I wouldn't have been surprised if Roma, with his quick, energetic movements, had burst through the front door, his contagious laughter dispelling our heartbroken confusion.

I kept asking myself, "did ___ really happen, or was that my imagination?" "Did I have that conversation with ____, or did I dream it? " Some days it seems that the past sixteen years have been my imagination. Did Roma really come? Is Roma really dead? (I can still hardly type that word) What is real?

I keep starting new blog posts. I'll write about a treasured experience with Roma, some insight from a recent conversation with him, then switch to another. They are all interconnected, but I can't stay focused on one. Maybe the fog will clear soon. I know there is a story here to be mined, maybe a new book, but I sit among thousands of puzzle pieces sifting through the avalanche. I know where some pieces belong. Others seem like misfits at this point in the movie. And I keep discovering new puzzle pieces--were they there all along?

I hope readers will be patient while the fog clears, or until the puzzle pieces fit in a more congruent manner, revealing images that make sense. 

Making sense of the seemingly senseless. Can it be done? I don't see how. But then, when that terrible call came that dreadful afternoon, I knew instantly it would be bad news about my youngest. I knew it would be the worst news possible. How did I know?

There were clues. God had warned me that suffering was coming. I knew. So when the call came from a neighbor when we were three hours from home, that there was a police car in my driveway, an officer on my porch, I knew before more words were spoken, that Roma was gone.

I invite readers into my story. But the story is hard to tell. Not only because the loss is excruciating, but I don't know where to start these scenes, how to organize these puzzle pieces that reveal the still shots from the movie of my life.

Lovely Liana
Many people have suggested that there was enough material for another book even before this scene of sorrow. When the story of finding Roma's first family began to unfold a year ago, I couldn't write fast enough. How joyful I was to share about finding Roma's loving sister, Liana. Then other family members of integrity introduced themselves and became part of the rich and widening story. 

Igor and Lia
Puzzle pieces connected themselves into vignettes so warm and beautiful, they took my breath away. Readers confirmed the beauty of those scenes.  Read the Family Connection series from last year, when I praised God for His Goodness. I cried tears of joy, and then tears of sadness as I participated in the grief my new family members  suffered years earlier.

I've managed to piece together partial images of this huge puzzle, these scattered vignettes. In order to solve the mysteries of the puzzle, I must watch for clues. Life is a mystery.  We are all mysteries.

Saint Augustine wrote, "Men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars, yet pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought."

Our mysteries are worth exploring too.

"Why must God be so mysterious?" a friend asked me recently. "Why doesn't He just make Himself known?" That is the six-million-dollar question.

The Grand Mystery. It is a mystery too big for my ant-brain. I am presently overwhelmed with the puzzle pieces of my own life.  But I do not have to assemble them alone. I must wait on God for help. I can't move ahead in my impatience. If I could do it by myself, I'd become prideful. More prideful. I know this about myself. God knows it too.

I have a hunger that I sense my readers, my friends, share with me. Some readers have told me that they can't get enough of my ongoing story, that they "want more." Maybe this is a reflection of humanity's hunger for God. We want more God. We crave more sacred moments of God's supernatural presence. Somehow we know it is possible.

God has given us all stories to share. Consider your own.

God told me in a dream to write my stories down. So I will. I trust that He will use even my tentative words and disoriented state for His Glory.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord! (Job 1:21)

Next, Surrendering the Illusion of Control

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Another Vision of Heaven

Continued from Goodbye Kid

Another vision, in Heather's words (a Christian friend, not my daughter) . . .

If you would have asked me the morning of December 6, 2015 why I felt so out of sorts all day long, I would have not been able to explain it at the time. However by 11 pm I could tell you with a broken heart that I saw heaven come to earth that evening. As I listened to Rev. Angela Flanagan’s sermon that December morning on Luke 2: 34-36 (Prophet Simeon speaking to Mary saying)  “This child (Jesus) is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too”. I kept thinking about Mary and that prophecy not only for her son’s life but her own life too. There is pain in that prophecy, extreme pain in fact. I thought of all the mothers that have had their souls pierced in one way or another. My own mother lost her son 6 years ago to suicide for mental illness and addiction. I had even texted another one of my best friends that afternoon saying I was praying for her, trusting that because of what Mary went through we must hold onto God’s promises and know that He hears our prayers when we have a child in pain. 

Being a prayer minister at Calvary UMC I received a call that Roma had taken a bad fall and had been sent to Shock Trauma. I was requested to begin praying, it was about 7pm. I felt sick to my stomach. I had only known Roma for about the past 3 years but this young man just lit up the room. I spent some time getting to know him from a ministry at church for young adults and he was so open with his emotions and full of “light”, God’s light. I doubt Roma understood that Jesus was shining through him but everyone who knew him could see it. 

The evening I got the call I began to pray, I was back to that “please Father do not let Debbie be another mother whose soul will be pierced this day”. Yes God, I understand Shock Trauma and the severity of what that means but I also know YOU are a God of miracles and I am praying for a miracle right now. So on my knees I am  pleading for a miracle. 

As hours pass in tears and exhaustion I go to bed. I always read before I bed. I get out my Jesus Calling, I read the devotional and then pull out another book. All of sudden I hear the Lord's still small voice saying “ If this was your son in Shock Trauma do you think Debbie would quit praying to begin reading at this pressing time?”  

I felt this stabbing in my heart. Clearly God had something to share with me or He had some further healing for Roma. I’m worn out but I have no choice but to listen. By this time it’s close to 10:45pm (and I mention this in case anyone else got a revelation around the same time) and I get back to my knees to pray. After some amount of time, I begin to see white and purple lights.  These brilliant lights swirling like how I would imagine the Northern lights to look. Then I see God on His throne in all His majesty. He is large in stature but beautiful (so much light surrounding HIM) sitting there with the kindest, most gentle look on his face with His arms wide open. 

All of a sudden like a little bullet, comes running this little boy like a lightening bolt straight to God. It’s Roma, little Roma about 7 years old and he runs straight under Gods white robe and underneath Him to the other side and then Roma stops, and turns to look back at God. Roma turns his little face with this ornery little grin almost the way kids want to play hide-n-seek. I am outside of this vision, and I am trying to figure out what is going on. God is still sitting there with His arms open just waiting for Roma and it appears Roma is figuring out what he is to do. Then all of all sudden Roma runs straight back to God and jumps into His arms and God wraps Roma up into the most loving fatherly hug. At this time it’s no longer 7 year old Roma, it’s 21year old Roma, the Roma I knew. The love that God pours all over Roma is indescribable. The peace that came upon me after the vision ended was amazing. 

Debbie always said that Roma was God’s son, I truly saw that Roma really was God’s beloved son and he went home to heaven that night. 

This vision gave me complete comfort and peace in knowing when God calls all of us who love Him home to Heaven, we go joyfully, excitedly running into the arms our Father God. This vision also re-iterates what God’s word tells us just how individual we are to God that He even knows the number of hairs on our heads.  I never knew little Roma, but God surely did and He never forgot how he looked at that young age. Debbie has a picture of Roma turning his head with the same charming smile that I saw in the vision, the picture is so exact from what I saw that it took my breath away. 

Roma, during our hosting, November 2001

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16. 

Saying good-bye to Roma was painful but I trust he was placed in all our hearts to teach us all to let our lights shine, that’s what Roma did best! Shine on Roma, we are looking up and looking forward to seeing you again sweet friend! 

Heather Fox Fowble

Explaining visions are difficult.  I have been studying God-given visions and dreams since our healing prayer team saw John Paul Jackson 3 years ago. Most nights before I go to bed I ask the Lord to send me dreams and visions from Him and ask that He keep any dreams from the enemy away. I never saw the younger picture of Roma until after I emailed Debbie with my condolences and told her the vision from the Lord. I will also note that John Paul Jackson says that white color in dreams is the Spirit of the Lord/ holy power and purple color is royalty and authority. I typically don’t see colors in my visions, which is what makes this interesting. 

Thank you Heather, for sharing your vision of Heaven! It comforts me. 

Continue here with Emerging from the Fog

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Goodbye Kid, Taylor's words

Continued from Visions, One

When Roma burst on to the scene at our week-long hosting in November, 2001, Taylor, twelve at the time, was caught off guard. We all were. We were accustomed to gentle children who read books and drew intricate pictures and built complicated castles with Lego blocks, children who played quietly in calm, imaginary realms. 

Taylor and Roma 2002
Roma was no such kid. He was loud– his voice was loud, his expressive sound effects for play (usually exploding noises) were louder, his laughter was loudest. He was very active. He was bossy assertive and cocky confident! He didn't sit still long, and if a sport didn't involve a lot of people and a ball of some size or shape, he quickly lost interest. Roma immediately joined clubs at school, before he could speak (or understand) English well, because they might be having fun without him. He didn't want to miss anything! 

As his new family, we were trying to keep up with his high level of maintenance and demand for action and attention. He was not the little brother Taylor had imagined he would be. Taylor had enjoyed the coveted baby-of-the-family role for twelve years. Suddenly his secure realm had been usurped by an independent, confident, and precious little dictator. 

In the past year, and weeks, when Roma thought we were unreasonable about house rules, he would storm to Taylor's apartment in our lower level, threatening us with, "I'm going to talk to Taylor." Taylor would take him for a walk around the block and Roma would come home a little more reflective. Taylor had a calming affect on a 21-year-old who thought he was too old for rules.

Taylor bravely stood at Roma's service on December 14, to honestly share his reflections. Not a sensitive eye remained dry in the church. Many people in attendance have asked him for a copy of his tribute to his brother. So, with his permission, these are Taylor's words . . . 

I’ve been wracking my brain for a good moment from my brother’s life to talk about. He affected so many people in his short life, but I don’t have that one good moment. The truth is I didn’t know him that well.  Most of you knew him better than I did.  I’ve spent this last week trying to get to know him.  And, as awful as this week has been, it’s also been enlightening, getting to know this kid that through fate became my brother.  
We were very different, Roma and I.  He was loud, and he needed people.  I always felt like I thrived in the quiet and solitude.  And he could be frustrating.  I was a very angry young man, and when I made the choice to come down from that, I did so largely by distancing myself from a lot of the things that triggered that aggression.  To a large extent, it worked, but one of the casualties of that decision was Roma.  I didn’t have that sibling relationship I did with my sisters with him.  I remarked recently, before his death, that he only ever called me when he needed something, ignoring the fact that I never once called him.  I didn’t think I needed anything from him. 
Anyways, the moment I landed on to talk about today, may not seem like such a great moment.  Last year, I’d gotten a used snow blower from some friends.  It only needed a belt replaced, but I was proud of myself for fixing it up, and I was looking forward to using it.  We got that one big snowfall last year, and I go out, ready to fire up my snow blower, and I find that the gas can in the garage was empty.  I’d filled it up earlier in preparation for this, and I knew immediately what had happened.  Roma had filled up his car with it.  And it made me angry.  Like, really angry.  And I let him have it. 
And as I thought about what had really upset me, I mean, this was par for the course for Roma, and I’d robbed the gas can before, in high school. I realized that I was angry because I cared.  When I lit into him, it wasn’t for the gas, but what I felt he was doing with his life.  So much potential I thought he was wasting.  I was mad at him because I cared about him, and I was even angrier that I cared. I didn’t want to care about him.  It was much easier when he was just the kid my parent’s adopted, that I wasn’t emotionally invested in.  
But somehow, despite all my efforts and the walls and barriers I erected, he’d slipped in.  He always did, in everyone he met.  And he let everyone in, too.  
This week, as I’ve been amazed by the outpouring of caring that this community has shown in the wake of his death, I’m fully realizing something that I’ve been suspecting for awhile.  Roma had it right.  He was by no means perfect, but he lived every day experiencing everything that came his way.  You can’t cut out the pieces of life that are inconvenient.

For all those years that I never called him just to talk, I’d love one last chance to just call him up, see how he’s doing, and just tell him that he was doing something right, and I’m going to try to live a little more like him.  And that I love him.
Goodbye kid.

Continue with Another Visions of Heaven, the night Roma died.