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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Roller Coaster of Grief

The Roller Coaster of Grief

As I begin this new blogging journey with you, I suppose I should start by telling you my story and explaining that part of my mission for this blog is to reach those who are grieving a loved one, in our situation, child loss. If you are grieving a loved one, I feel it is important to let you know that even though you are experiencing immense pain, there is a reason to be joyful.

I understand that no one wants to hear this at the beginning of their grief journey. I, myself, did not want to hear anything like that! I just WANT. MY. SON. BACK. and didn't want to hear anything about joy, happiness or anything else even remotely related to any of these emotions. Believe me, I know first hand how crazy this notion of joy may sound to you right now because I have been there.

My husband and I lost our precious ten-year-old son, Riley, on April 19, 2016. It was sudden and unexpected and it left us completely heartbroken and lost. For the first month or so, we felt like we were living in a nightmare that we could never wake from. To be honest, even now I feel like that at times.

One thing is for sure, grief is not a linear journey, it ebbs and flows. One day you may be fine and the next a complete wreck. This is where FAITH can truly save us. Our faith that the Lord has promised to carry us through this agonizing journey is what my husband and I are hanging onto.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are                                crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

Fortunately, in this day and age, there are many excellent grief resources available to us. I have many of them listed here on the Grief Resources page of the foundation website we have created for our son to honor his legacy, Riley's Rainbows. I will also be referring to many articles from these resources throughout this blog and am happy to help answer any questions you may have here on our Contact page.

I do not, in any wayprofess to be an expert in the field of grief. Far from it. But I can speak to you straight from the battlefield. My husband and I have been in the trenches for fifteen months now. We have friends that have been through this agonizing journey for much longer that have given us trusted guidance along the way, and friends that have been grieving for a shorter amount of time. It is crazy how when you experience this type of tragedy (that I would, of course, wish on no one!) you end up meeting other people that are facing your same situation. This has been such a blessing to us. As one of our friends put it, "Being a bereaved parent is an club that no one wants to join."

When I mention joy in the midst of grief, I am referring to your loved one's presence in heaven. I am talking about the joy and peace that your loved one is experiencing as he or she resides with God in His Kingdom. Our loved ones are experiencing a happiness and peace that we can only imagine right now. I don't know about you, but that image helps bring me peace when I am having a difficult time getting through the day or going through a particularly rough season such as holidays, birthdays and angel-versaries.

Here's the thing, as much as my husband and I love and miss our son, and we do with every single fiber of our being, and as much as we grieve and cry and scream and shout in absolute agony, we know that he is happy and peaceful in his home with our Heavenly Father. That is the good news.

You see, it is not truly an ending for any of us. If we have given our life over to Christ, we will be reunited with our loved ones in heaven once the Lord decides it is time to bring us home. It is hard to think about experiencing any joy or happiness when we first lose a loved one, I will admit there are plenty of days that I feel like any sense of joy has abandoned me and that my "new normal" could never be one of happiness, but that is simply not true. It is not true because of this reason: The Lord will never abandon me. He won't abandon you either. He loves each of his children in a way that surpasses our understanding! Remember that and try to picture your loved one in the presence of our Heavenly Father and my hope is that you will feel peace, if even for only a few moments.

If you are early into your grief journey, first of all, I am truly sorry for your loss. Being fifteen months into this journey myself I can tell you that you will be feeling many conflicting emotions that, unfortunately, come along with the territory. I can also tell you there is no timetable for grief, so it is hard to tell for how long you will be experiencing these feelings. I have friends that have told me that with time these emotions turn into something more tolerable and that there are more moments of joy than there are of pain.

Note: If you are a newly bereaved parent you may want to wait a while before you read this post. However, I do have an excellent article that can help you at this time as well that I would like to share with you. Still Standing Mag is an excellent grief resource that I have found and their article entitled "Dear Newly Bereaved Parent" proved to be very helpful to me early on in my grief journey. I pray that it does the same for you.

"I am sure what we are suffering now cannot compare with the glory that will be shown to us."Romans 8:18

I love this quote from an article I found on the website What's Your Grief:

"Grief is hard work for so many different reasons, but one of those reasons is because it forces you to stretch your heart and mind to create enough space for all your thoughts, emotions, and desires to exist alongside one another."

It is an excellent article and you can read it in full here. I like this quote because it is so true and it speaks words that I could never explain to someone on my own. It is so difficult to talk with people about your grief. I could write a whole other post on that and probably will at some point, but here is another article from WYG to give you some perspective on the language of grief.

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Sonya Coenen

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Psalms 51:10 David's Cry

Psalms 51:10 David's Cry

Psalms 51:10 is David's cry to the Lord for a pure heart. The Bible doesn't conceal the transgressions of even the noblest of men, and many transgressions did David have! Bathsheba anyone? The sin that David committed with the beautiful Bathsheba is actually what this Psalm is about. It is David's cry out to the Lord after his sinful ways with her.

Psalms 51:10 in the NIV (New International Version) is as follows:

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." 

Psalms 51:10 in the ESV (English Standard Version) is as follows:

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." 

Let's take it a step further and look a few verses ahead at Psalms 51:7 (NIV):

"Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." 

Let's break down a couple of the words used in these translations a little bit further: 
  • Clean, used as a transitive verb in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is said "to rid of dirt, impurities, or extraneous matter " or "to rid of corruption". 
  • Pure, described as an adjective in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is said to be "clean and not harmful in any way". 
First, let's talk about the word "pure".  If I am going to be really honest, I was having a stressful day, just yesterday, and my heart and my attitude were most definently less than pure. Unfortunately, that less than pure heart and attitude got taken out on my husband a bit more than he deserved. Since I am being completely honest here, I should say, a LOT more than he deserved. He was a good sport, as always, and accepted my apology. In hindsight, I wish I had thought of this verse before I lashed out at my poor husband. 

Have you ever had a day where you may have said something that could be taken as harmful to a friend or loved one that you later regretted? Have you found that at times your heart and attitude were less than pure? Possibly even in possession of a harmful attitude? I think it is pretty safe to say, as we are all sinners, we all have found ourselves in this situation at times.

Now let's discuss the other word used in this verse, "clean". Now this one you could take a few different ways. I think everything mentioned above for the word "pure" could also apply here, but what about our language? What about the actual words we speak. Words can be harmful and they can be corrupt. 

Our pastor made a joke last Sunday in his sermon about how by Sunday mornings he likes to think he gives everyone a good "nudge" for a good start for the beginning of the next week. After going through the last Monday through Saturday we are all probably needing a good Godly nudge! (Can I get an Amen?!) Then he said, "You know you sometimes don't feel like coming to church on Sunday mornings, and you know you cussed at your kids in the car on the way to church and then said PRAISE THE LORD when you saw the parkers (parking lot attendants)"!  He was making a joke but he was also trying to make a point and make it relational to us.  Is it true that sometimes that you may have caught some "uncleanly" words coming out of your mouth? (Hopefully not in front of our kids like our pastor joked about). Language and the words we speak are so important. If we are to be good examples of our faith, the words we speak must not be corrupt, harmful or uncleanly.

Now, I do not confess to being perfect in this respect in any way! I am just as much a sinner as anyone and I know I have caught myself doing this, as much as I hate to admit it. But guess what? We have this verse and a whole Bible full of Godly truths to remind us how we should be choosing our words and carrying our hearts and attitudes. And on top of all of that, we have a merciful God that will forgive us for our sins! 

How about that? Isn't that just the greatest thing? He forgives us - just like He did David. This passage is a great example of how, when we give our life to Him, we too are forgiven. 

Keeping in mind, not only God's word, but also the more literal definitions above of words used in translations of Psalms 51:10, pure and clean, have all of your actions been pure lately? Have they been harmful in any way? I know that I have to sometimes watch that I am not acting harmful to another person in situations where I may become angry or disturbed. Hopefully, in the future, I will remember this verse and remember that I want to be a Godly example of a clean and pure heart.

Even in one of his worst moments, David is crying out to the Lord. He is demonstrating in these raw moments that he still has faith and hope that our heavenly Father will forgive his many sins. And He does. 

Let's take some time this week to take this verse to heart and truly think about the purity of our hearts, our attittudes and the words that we speak. Let's make sure they are in keeping with God's word. 

Blessings to all,


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Sonya Coenen

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Why the name?

Why the name?

The name I have chosen for my blog, Count It Pure Joy, was carefully thought out and derived from multiple versions of one of my very favorite Bible verses, James 1:2.

Here are a few examples of the different versions:
  • "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations" (KJV) 
  • "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials" (NKJV) 
  • "Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials (AMP) 
  • "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds" (NIV)
You get the picture... We are so fortunate to have so many versions of God's word at our fingertips. I love the traditional paperback/hardback Bible, but I am often found using the You Version app on one of my mobile devices. I could talk about You Version all day, but I will get to that in another post!

I am so excited to share my journey with you! It is a journey of many roads: love, grief, and faith, just to name a few. I hope you will come to visit and stay a while. I look forward to counting each joyful moment with you spreading as much hope, happiness and love as possible and giving God all the glory!
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Sonya Coenen

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