Saturday, May 23, 2015


They talk to me about eternal -
that "1,000 years is like a day"
or "in the blink of an eye"
or the "thin veil" that separates us
from the wonder of heaven.

But I am here, trapped, in the temporal
and every day is an uncountable number
of blinks of an eye.
A day can feel like a 1,000 years.
And the veil may as well be the Great Wall of China.
Eternity feels so very far away.

Does is it seem unfair to be stuck here?
With loved ones & promises & perfection waiting there?
Oh to see the unknown purposes of God!

It's not that there are not promises for our here & now.
(If not, I would truly perish!)
But our heart is programmed for so much more!
Here we are just pilgrims passing through.
And right now I chaffe against this nomadic life,
this transitory sojourning with divided heart.
For ever since she left us,
I've wanted to be somewhere else like never before.

Oh Lord, give me patience for the days left to me!
Fill them with love & purpose!
And please, let my longings for heaven
transform into deepening passion
to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth.

More of heaven here, Lord, while we wait!
More love, more redemption, more healing,
more salvation, more freedom, more peace...
more of You, Jesus.

Until I can get to heaven, Lord,
Please help me to be one who brings heaven down.

My two realities:

Heaven is the Face by Steven Curtis Chapman

Heaven on Earth by David & Nicole Binion, Covenant Worship

Photo by: Hartwig HKD, Tree of Life

Thursday, May 21, 2015


"Awake, north wind, and come, south wind!  
Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread everywhere."

Song of Songs 4:16

Let this crushing produce
the desired sweetness,
Not bitterness.
Let the crushing press out
all that is not worthy or useful -
For the Master Alchemist is at work.

He is consumed
with creating my Life Fragrance.
There is a plan in this madness,
in this sadness.
A "beauty for ashes" kind of ending.
To unveil the Rose of roses,
the Lion of all lions -
in all His strength & loveliness.
And He has chosen one such as I.

Meanwhile, as I feel this weight,
the pressing of life in sadness & pain,
I feel the weight of purpose, too.
The purpose of sweet tears & fragrant petals,
prayers of surrender, whispered love,
all being crushed together,
mingling, running down.
The Master Alchemist is brewing
the unique Fragrance of my life into His.

Oh let it be sweet!
Let it be beautiful & intoxicating!
Like the love of this One
who has captivated me
& allured me to this desert place.
To begin again a garden,
to create fruitful vineyards,
to make beauty from ashes,
and an oil of joy for mourning.
He is my mystical, ancient, irresistible,
creative & Love-inspired Alchemist.

After all that has happened,
He is still my Beloved.
And so I trust Him, too,
as my Alchemist.

"Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness
and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor (Trouble),
a door of hope."

Hosea 3:14,15

Photo by:  PictureWendy

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


I had been thinking for a long time about getting a 3rd ear piercing.  But the really bright part of the idea was getting it in March.  Since I had done the others years ago when I was a teenager, I really had no recollection of pain nor was I calculating the difference in age or general state of being I was in at the time of the piercing.  If I had realized that it would keep me awake at night (because I sleep on my side) and take weeks and weeks to heal, I probably would have thought differently about it (or just thought about it, period).  I was in pain for weeks before I finally realized that extra, self-induced pain at this difficult juncture of my life was not only NOT a good idea, it was a really stupid one!  I took the earrings out for a couple days´ break and then - ciao - I couldn´t get them back in without pain & bleeding.  So, I am back down to 2 ear piercings...sigh.  (But I am sleeping better! )  

This led me to think that my stupid decisions during grief might possibly benefit others...and thus, this post.  Then again, the rest of you are probably smarter than me!


1.  Piercings & tattoos and/or any other potentially painful bodily markings or changes should probably wait til you feel pretty healthy.  Just may not make your best decisions right now.

2.  Major hairstyle changes or any other major changes in appearance should also wait til you have a better state of mind for decision making!  (A hair color change on me was frightening; my hair was weaker from all the stress and I regretted it big time!)

3.  Let your husband prune the garden.  This often doesn´t go well even in the best of times, but a man with pent up emotions with pruning shears in his hands can definitely produce some ¨unhappy wife¨ results!

4.  Work on future calendar items with said husband.  Take on any major home projects together.  Make any big decisions together. Haha.  While you can´t avoid all of this, try to limit it as much as possible as your style & pace of processing grief can be vastly different, complicating your already big differences in the first place.  Sensitivities are high & capacity & energy is low so give your marriage a break and take it slow!

5.  Attempt DIY memorial obelisks, cathedrals, monuments or other great architectural or artistic works in memory of your loved one too soon after the event.  (Unless you ARE a great architect or artist.)  You are all likely to be out of energy, patience, team spirit & camaraderie long before said work of memory is finished. You may end up with worse problems than grief on your hands!

6. Assume your way of grieving is the only way or the best way.  Each family member´s process and pace are different.  Giving space & support for each one - no matter how hard that may be for you - is vital to the family´s healing process.  Grieve differently - but grieve together.

7.  Conclude all the people who say stupid things to you (like ¨I know just how you feel¨) are really trying to be stupid.  They are really just humans trying to say something - anything! - helpful at a very difficult & awkward time.  You probably didn´t know what to say either until it happened to you.  Grieving is extremely hard - but knowing what is appropriate to say is hard, too, and we should all extend grace to each other.

8.  Get a pet.  Any pet.  A regular pet.  An exotic pet. A black market pet.  Any pet that requires one ounce of extra energy that you don´t presently have.  We tossed around many ideas in our pain, desiring something warm & fuzzy and comforting during our roughest days.  The problem is, we have had a number of pets and even though we miss them, we have had enough experience to know that in our housing situation, they take work.  Lots of it.  And our other big insight was that there is no perfect pet.  I had dreams of a dog who knew just how I felt and would quietly curl at my feet when I was writing, be energetic when I wanted to go out on a long walk and would never pee or poop, bark inappropriately or dig up my plants.  Stupid, right?  We just don´t make the best decisions when under duress.  Of course, if you already have pets,  have lots of experience with pets or you are a Pet Whisperer, by all means, go ahead.

9.  Find escape, solace or any kind of comfort whatsoever in facebook games that falsely promise to help you enhance your fragile-sense-of-self-while-grieving find meaning.  Knowing what Disney Princess you are most like, what your nose says about your personality, what farm animal reflects your temperament most accurately, what your middle initial says about you or what Egyptian hieroglyphic reveals your hidden genius are truly NOT helpful partners during grief.  

10.  Try to follow all the advice you get:   Don´t be alone too much.  Don´t hang out with crowds if you don´t feel like it.  Eat.  But don´t overeat, overdrink, overshop, watch too much tv or engage in anything that could be escapist behavior.  Talk if you need to.  Don´t talk if you don´t want to.  Be kind to yourself.  Get lots of rest (but get your work done, too).  Cry freely.  Plan times to grieve when you can be alone & give yourself over fully to it.  Find artistic outlets.  Find physical outlets.  Be strong.  Don´t be afraid to feel weak.  Take your time.  Move on with your life.  Etc., etc., etc.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

See how much I´ve learned so far?  I could write a book!

All photos from Goggle images

Sunday, May 17, 2015


"...let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 
and let them be give light on the earth."

Genesis 1:14

I am a marked woman.

It's not something that you see at a glance
or notice in a quick exchange.
It's something deeper, more profound.
Life has changed forever.
Life has marked me forever.
The well of my heart is deepening, expanding.
My mind is still actively pondering the changes,
Clarifying what they are...
and who I will become.

This journey of healing is not about
"getting better so I can get back to who I was and what I was doing"
That could never be!
No, everything has changed
 and I must change, too.

So I bring the things I am noticing and pondering
to the One who knows me and who shaped me 
and who has faithfully shepherded me so far.
He knows all about these things
And His marks on us are mysteriously lovely.

So we walk and we talk and sometimes we just sit in silence.
And I wait and receive from Him
counsel, encouragement, courage
and a deepening ability to surrender.
A surrender
to Love, to Change,
and to Who I am becoming...

I notice that there is a smile
on His lips and around His warm eyes...
And I know I must be on the right path.
The one marked for me,
the one that is marking me.
the one that has His mark.

I smile back,
Content to be a marked woman.

Your comments are welcome and encouraged.  I have tried to simplify the process so that more of you will join in!

Photo from

Sunday, May 10, 2015


I received this amazing note from a friend about 10 days before I made the Dandelion post. It is a sample of one of the ways the Spirit of God is blowing seeds around the nations! So cool!

Dear Pam,

I'm writing you from India, where my husband and I are working. I only ever had a couple of conversations with Jenna but her kindness, grace, and stunning beauty always stood out to me.

I wanted to write to let you know I thought about your family about once a week in September, and you have come to mind in prayer almost everyday (often multiple times a day) over the last seven months. I didn't know Jenna well at all, but I wept every night for about a week after her journey into heaven and still do some days. I'm so deeply grieved thinking about what you as a family are facing in this loss. I will continue to lift you up to the Father asking him to bring the supernatural comfort only he provides.

Jenna's life and death and the words of your blog have had a lasting and profound impact on me. Thank you for sharing your heart, pain, and wisdom. Your words have a stirred in me a deeper desire for faith and trust. The loss of Jenna's life here on Earth was a stark reminder of the reality that life here is short and that heaven is home. Never before have I longed so intensely for God's Kingdom to come in fullness and for every single person to get to partake in it. I shared Jenna's story with several neighbors here in India and the Spirit was present as we talked about what our purpose in life really is.

I remember a prophetic word you shared on your blog about Jenna's passing being like the grain of wheat that Jesus talks about in John. Through death, the grain is able to produce many more seeds than if it had clung to life. I wanted to let you know that a small part of the fruition of that word is happening here in India. You wrote on another post that one of the prophetic words over Jenna's life was being a mother of all nations. I think some of that word is also being realized here.

I wrote this song after reading your blog and as I prayed for you all a couple months ago:

Anthem of Praise (Grieving Song)

Where else would we go?
You have the words everlasting
Where else would we go?
For mercy unending, for grace beyond compare

Like a river, flow
Fill our souls with this grace
Like an ocean, deep
We have known your mercy

This is an anthem of praise
In the midst of the suffering, the heart of the pain
This is an anthem of joy
For nothing, not even death, can remain

And to the broken-hearted
You've said you will be close
Come, come sweet Spirit
Gently bind us up

In faith, we will stand firm
We have yet to see all that's in store
Before we've tasted, before we know
We believe, we believe

I will continue to pray (along with hundreds of others, I'm sure) for space to grieve and for rays of hope to pierce even this darkest night. Jenna and your whole family has a legacy that reaches farther than you will probably know in this lifetime. I'd love to reconnect with you all someday.

(this friend prefers to remain anonymous)

Hopefully she can record this song & share it with us!

Photo: Amit Gupta

Jenna was in India back in 2008, helping a language arts school with her dear friend Azahar.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Can someone please tell me when and how the lowly dandelion made it to tattoo status?  My Dad used to make us dig them out of the lawn on Saturday mornings!  They used to be considered a weed but today their leaves have gourmet status, their profile has art status, their seeds have mystical wishing status and they've even achieved literary status inspiring a myriad of sayings from gothic to Hallmark.

Dandelions now grow virtually worldwide.  They spread further, are more difficult to exterminate and grow under more adverse circumstances than most competitors. *  So in addition to its step up to the art league, it is also international and has a strength & determination factor.  I like that.

I hadn't paid much attention to dandelions since childhood, frankly.  But when our close friend Amy had a vision about Jenna that involved a dandelion's seeds back in October before she died, I started paying more attention...

Amy had gone out to pray for Jenna in the countryside among some olive trees.  As she prayed for Jenna, a full-orbed dandelion was blowing in the wind and kept returning to her.  She felt the Lord speak to her heart that the seeds of Jenna´s life would be spread in the offering up of her life.  She remembered a painting of the artist Lilias Trotter who gave 40 years of her life to Algeria (Jenna would have loved that) and the sense that Jenna´s life was to be offered up for something greater was very strong.  She wept and wrote and prayed and later gave us a letter and  lent us the book A Blossom in the Desert where many of Lilias´ paintings and writings are compiled.  Amy also made copies of Lilias' painting & poem in card form to hand out at the memorial:

Suddenly the "lowly" dandelion became very special to us.

Other people had visions about seeds and her legacy and Doralicia (another very special friend) shared this verse at the memorial service:

"Very truly I tell you,
 unless a kernel of wheat falls 
to the ground and dies,
 it remains only a single seed. 
 But if it dies, it produces many seeds."  

John 12:24

Dora blessed Jenna's legacy:  "we want to bless all the relationships, conversations and all the efforts and contributions that Jenna participated in and we want to bless them so that they bear much fruit and multiply.  Our investment in the kingdom of heaven here on earth is never in vain ..."  She also prayed for this generation and blessed their lives and work for the kingdom.  Jenna would have loved that, too, for her heart beat for her generation to take up the baton and make a difference.

Why am I reviewing all of this?  Because God keeps speaking through the lowly dandelion!

One day in November I found this little treasure at an art stall here in Málaga.  It was like God spoke confirmation over the truth of the dandelion for us. The music and the birds of peace & hope were such a gift to me:

Then, just this week I was out on a walk and was stopped short by the biggest dandelion I had ever seen!  It was as big as one of Jordan´s balls!  The dandelions keep speaking...

Months had passed since my last ¨dandelion encounter¨ (although I had noticed their growing popularity in general) and this time God spoke clearly to my heart:  ¨I have NOT forgotten that promise.  The seeds and flowers of Jenna´s legacy will be far bigger than you can even ask or imagine!¨

You can imagine my love affair at this point with the lowly dandelion.  What was once a weed to me is now transformed into something extremely precious.

Sometimes I wish I could save some of the blessings of this legacy:

But I´m pretty sure God wants them floating freely...landing where He has sovereignly destined them to be:

But...I might just have to get me one of these:  ;)

May God release more and more fruit through this generation - and all of us - for the kingdom of God through our stewardship of Jenna's legacy...through the one seed that dies to produce "many seeds".

You can read more about the vision of seeds and Jenna's legacy (including videos from the Memorial) at:

*quote from Steve Brill's book A Meddlesome, But Toothsome Weed, Dandelion

Photos by (in order of appearance):

Lilias Trotter
Pam (4)
Dandelion Wishes Pictures
Dandelion Breeze
Dandelion Tattoo (Google Images 14235)
Dandelion AirMech Forums

Monday, May 4, 2015


Loss has left me bereft of love -
Or so it seems.
Not for her - my heart aches for her -
but of love for others.

It seems I have lost my capacity to love
And I am so distressed!
There is no energy, no passion,
no motivation, no will power.
I desire - yet cannot - comprehend my friends´ problems
or my neighbors´ chatting.
I so want to care!
But there is no room, no place to put
the concerns of anyone else...
All my love spaces, my concerned places,
my rooms of compassion, the shared sanctums of my heart,
are full of grief.
They are too full to hold more.

So I sit at coffee listening like a tomb
to my dearest of friends.
I cannot understand her sharing -
Today it is a foreign language.
My brain defensively blocks her out,
subconsciously setting a protective limit for me.
I fight against it & try to refocus -
But I have no memory of what she just said.
I am undone by my own guilt & dysfunction -
I want to engage...but cannot.

Later I am in the stands at my son´s soccer game,
surrounded by other parents who happily chat.
I am overwhelmed by their loudness,
by their superficial talk.
It reverberates in my head like a migraine.
I say enough to let them know I´m there
But not enough to engage or truly ¨be present."
This outing exhausts me.

What is wrong?
I try to get out, for instinctively I know I need to.
Yet it takes a colossal effort to enter in.
I am painfully aware 
Of the inadequacies of my heart,
of my own impotence to wrap my arms around any more
than what they already carry.

Oh to be able to bear the burden of love!
Oh that love would be weightless!
Oh to find joy in listening intently!
Or laughing loudly or chatting with friendliness!

Some friends say I must be
"kind to myself, patient"
But today I am impatient with my weariness!
Impatient with my frailty around others.
I don't care or don't want to care or can't care
because of this emotional love-depletion.
I find myself just trying to survive the day.

Oh! Author of love!
Please hasten the day
when my heart,
carved up by grief & then healing,
has slowly drained some of its sadness,
& expanded in its capacity to give again...
To love again,
to care again,
naturally & unfeigned.
Love will be back -
sweeter & deeper than before.

The Love Author Himself whispers to me:
"Be kind & patient with yourself as I am.
I am with you & am guiding your journey.
You are on schedule."

I breathe a sigh of relief.
I am human.
I will love again.

Where did the love go?

It´s just very busy holding me for a little while -
it will soon be back.

Photo by:  Kiz BadArt Team

Comments are welcomed & encouraged.  I have tried to simplify the process so that more of you can join in! If you are unsure about how to leave a comment, just choose ANONYMOUS USER under "Comment As" and leave your name with your comment within the comment box.

Saturday, May 2, 2015


Sometimes there are no words...
Just silence.
Or tears.

Time has stopped &
the world around you 
is muffled, dream-like.
You see things, people
and hear them -
but not really.
You want to wake up,
to shake off your trance,
Yet there is a certain safety here.
So you stay in the fog
and wait for words.

You struggle to come up with something that
even comes close to expressing 
the profound chaos of emotion inside.
At times, you don't even struggle
for there are certainly no words for This.
for This Reality that exploded into your world
 & crushed you,
& broke your heart.

For This,
there is only silence
and tears.

Some days I really want words & I painfully piece some together.
Some days other people want words from me & I am sadly mute.
I cannot explain this coming and going of expression
Any more than I can explain or predict
the surging & retreating rhythms of grief.

Please be patient with me
and find an ok-ness with this reality.
Because for This,
there is only silence
and tears.

Photo by:  Ozge Gurer Vatandas, Silence

Comments are welcomed & encouraged.  I have tried to simplify the process so that more of you can join in!

Friday, May 1, 2015


After a long silence, it is with a fair amount of uncertainty that I write this post. 

Uncertainty about blogging, uncertainty about if anyone is going to care to read this anymore, uncertainty about lost momentum, uncertainty about writing on such a melancholy subject as grief, uncertainty about how to unblock the dam in my heart and put unimaginable emotions into words, uncertainty as to how to do justice to a journey as deep & uniquely personal as losing a loved one - and uncertainty about writing about various griefs at once.

The words were flowing for a while...and writing does me good...and people were grieving with us and interested in how we were getting on.  But my Dad´s unexpected death on March 4th caught me off guard & stirred up other emotions & losses.  It thrust me backwards, into the beginning stage of grief again.  I sat numb from the disappointment of not being able to say good-bye to him and of having been just weeks away from seeing him and spending a week with him.

This happened concurrently with our last couple of weeks with Daniela and assisting her in her preparation for her return to the US.  I was committed to doing everything possible to accompany Dani in the process of her return to university life.  I wanted to be happy for her, to be helpful, to be a blessing & support.  But suddenly, I was physically & emotionally exhausted again.  And we began to realize that we were "mourning" her leaving us again after having been home for a year.  It was the right thing for her, and therefore, for us, but it was not easy.

Thankfully, the Lord gave us much grace and Dani is resettled at school and is happy with friends, dance and her international relations studies.  Although she is still grieving (as we all are and as she would be wherever she finds herself), it has been the right thing for her to begin to rebuild her own life.  I am so grateful for some of the really special things God has done for her in this transition.

Since then I felt blocked.  Life was either so busy, so emotionally overwhelming or I was just so exhausted that I felt numb & paralyzed for words.  Perhaps that was shock protecting me.  I just couldn´t find them or seem to get them out.   I was going through the motions of doing what was needed, putting one foot mechanically in front of the other without the luxury of time & energy to craft it into writing.  Now that I've been back from my trip to the US, recovered from jetlag & a cold & a sciatic lower back flare up, I am thankfully being flooded with words in my head!  Now if I can just have the courage to put them out there...

I have continued to process, to question and to struggle with the rise and fall, the ebb and flow of emotions.  But as you can well imagine, another death complicated my journey and pushed me into other places of grief and longing - mostly for my Dad and brother.  I daily ask God to ¨encapsulate¨ these areas, shield my heart and  to open them a little bit at a time when I can deal with it a little more.  It feels like I was at a certain place with Jenna and then BOOM! - another explosion of pain & grief exploded, demanding attention & delaying my advance in my process of losing her.  Now I have multiple, complex layers of loss with their own timelines, issues, memories, regrets, bittersweetness and unique pain.  While losing Jenna is the ¨coup de grace¨, each loss is still huge and deserving of it's own unique journey. 

We have hit the 6-month mark since Jenna´s passing and externally, life has somewhat "returned to normal":  Daniela has gone back to university in the US, Bruce is traveling again and Jordan is busy with school & exams, soccer and friends.  But me?  I feel like the wild card.  My roles changed last year as I stepped out of various projects & roles to care for Jenna.  I am fortunate to not have to rush back into anything...I need time to heal and regain my strength & capacity for activity, people, deadlines, etc.  But what should I be doing now?  Discerning that is kind of the next step for me...continuing to heal and beginning to move forward into a new and different life.  I wonder what that will look like?

If this post seems a bit disjointed, that´s because it is!  Life often feels like that right now and my heart moves back and forth between the different losses, emotions, implications & multilayered processes.

If you are still reading this post...I thank you for your support in this stage of uncertainty!

Photo by:  Francis Rowland