Category Archives: In Relationship to Him

Sleepless Nights: A Child Worth Fighting For

I never fully realized that the Day I Met Emma there would be so many sleepless nights to follow in my life. As every parent knows every child blessed to us will makes us lose sleep for one reason or the other.  Adopting children, especially older children, out of the foster care system guarantees restless nights.

To be sure Jake, Brandon and Piper have caused both Marie and I their fair share of our sleepless nights.  This post and these writings are about Emma: A child worth fighting for.

Emma fighting for fun

Emma Lengquist enjoying a day at Camp Barnabas.

Here I sit at 2:24 am on a Saturday. It’s been 239 days since I received the call that Emma had lost her life by her own hand.  Of all the many brave battles she had fought and won, this one she had lost. I’m different because of this event. I used to sleep like a baby knowing I had worked hard and trusting that God had a plan.

God still has His plan. I still serve him.  But I don’t sleep like I used to. My dreams are different.  My remembrances have new priorities.

Emma had her cerebral palsy to overcome that challenged her physical ability and her cognitive powers. And make no mistake, adoption was a life event she was challenged to overcome, as well.  Then, as her mental illness progressed, there were new battles to fight on top of the ones she never fully conquered, or accepted.

Simply put, it was all too much in the end.

When I wake in the middle of the night it is with those rush of thoughts that come right before your eyes open to the dark. The rush of memories can be startling; the times we fought, the times we laughed, the times we cried, the times we hugged…and the times I could have, should have done more…though I don’t know how I would have or could have.  Those raw emotions come screaming forth; anger and laughter, sadness and love, regret, all in one tangled mess.

How do you sleep through that?

I miss her. Each and every day. I know that as some read this they fight their own battles with the recollections they have of their loved ones who bravely fought and lost.  There are those readers here that are still fighting those battles.  To each of you I say to stay as strong as you can and fight each day, each hour to remember the good. Fight for that right to remember the good.  And search for purpose. We may not understand God’s will or allowances for the events we face or have experienced.  We can, however, wake up each day with a vow to move forward and to honor their memory or recognize and do our best to forgive their present.

Emma has caused me many sleepless nights since the day I met her and she still does.  Emma was worth fighting for.  The child you love is worth fighting for.  Any child is worth fighting for.

Easter and Unconditional Love

Emma LengquistToday is the day we celebrate Easter in 2018.  I’m not going to pretend it isn’t hard without Emma here.  Happily, we will celebrate this day with Jacob and Makena, Brandon and Jenna and Paisley, and Piper.  My sister Kathy and her family are coming as well.  Yes, there will be a place setting not filled, figuratively speaking.  Emma shined on days such as these where she could entertain and talk to many people.

***

A few days ago I wrote Unconditional Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness.  When it came to the “Jesus” part of me explaining my interpretation of Unconditional Love as it pertains to theology I was unsettled as to my layman’s attempt to explain.  I therefore reached out Dr. Bruce Ewing, a former pastor who holds a doctorate from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Dr. Ewing is someone I still turn to when my theology gets tenuous. I believe he has a gift and so I appreciate his input. I asked him to read what I had wrote and respond as to the soundness of what I was saying.  Dr. Ewing responded, quite beautifully,  Below are his thoughts. Since it is Easter, I couldn’t think of a better day to share.

I hope you are blessed as I am.

“I believe the total forgiveness extends beyond whether we receive it or follow Him etc.  or not. I believe when He died on the cross His unconditional love was placed in motion and total forgiveness was extended to all.  That does not mean in any way that any one person will accept or receive that unconditional love and forgiveness,…or the benefits that comes from it.  From what I understand the unconditional love of Christ is a constant whether it is received or not.  That is what makes it so uniquely different and miraculous and specific only to the Father and Jesus.  
“When we receive Christ(‘s) unconditional love AND forgiveness we then have the capacity to demonstrate that same love to another.  Perhaps an illustration might be in your love for Jacob ,Emma , Brandon, and Piper .There is no question about your unconditional love for them. They may not always want to receive it but it is there regardless.  As with us, when we like they chose to reject or not respond to that love there are consequences.  That does not mean your (our) love no longer is offered on our part ,  it stays the same,  …our love (His) is the constant .  His love is ALWAYS effective .  Most often it is this very constant to often draws back to the position of experiencing His love and forgiveness.   
“When one chooses to reject His love there are consequences which are a result of our choice. He remains consistent with that same love regardless of our acceptance or not.  
“For those who reject His love and forgiveness and do not receive it there is hell to pay, literally, but His love is still there.   For those of us who have received it and became His adopted children we will often act as if we have rejected Him but His love, forgiveness continues to embrace us regardless of our behavior.”

Unconditional Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness

goodnessLast evening I was at a Celebration of Life event for an 80 year old who had definitely made his mark on the world.  His wife had preceded him by a few years and she was someone that would welcome Emma in to her home, as a friend of her granddaughter’s.  Emma’s attraction to the woman?  Well, she made the most fantabulous chocolate chip cookies.  But, I digress.

One of the people that stood up and spoke was someone who was the age of the man’s children and yet was not a “biological” child, rather the child of his brother’s.  I could piece together a pathway, though I do not know the details, of how their bond was created. She spoke of the “unconditional love” this man had provided her over the years.  Still another came up and spoke of a circumstance that certainly twenty plus years ago would have, and still today, could have brought judgement.  Still, “unconditional love” was displayed in the eyes of the speaker.

And here it is, 4:32 in the morning of Good Friday, and the term “unconditional love” simply keeps rattling around my brain.

Unconditional Love
A quick Google search of the term Unconditional Love will soon show you over 17 million results. That’s a lot of results and thus, a variety of interpretations. I zoomed in on this…

According to the book Real Loveunconditional love is, in essence, true love — so different from the kind of love most of us have known all our lives that it deserves a definition of its own. Unconditional love is caring about the happiness of another person without any thought for what we might get for ourselves.”

How often do any of us find unconditional love?  Are we able to provide this love to anyone? As I write this I cannot help but think of the love that Christ showed us on that Good Friday a couple thousand plus years ago.  And yet, that love is conditional, is it not?  For Jesus requires us to profess our faith and belief in him.  John 8:12 (“follows me”) John 10:9 (“the gate”) John 11:25 (“believes in me”)

acceptance, forgiveness, love

What a fabulous love of sacrifice our Christ showed us though there is the requirement, at least I believe that I believe so, of a relationship between myself and He.

WRITER’S UPDATE: To see more on the theology of this please visit Easter and Unconditional Love

Acceptance
Setting aside judgement of others, as best we can, and accepting them for who they are is a Great Love.  Is this what is meant by unconditional love?  I know this may seem like the rantings of a mad man however, words matter to me and I like to choose them carefully. Splitting hairs is fun though probably a sickness of mine.

It seems that we, as humans, become more accepting of others as we begin to accept ourselves.  For some this may happen early in life.  For myself, and I think most others, it seems to begin in our thirties and really picks up steam the older we get.  Why?  The mistakes we all make allow us to gain perspective as time increases the distance between the day we made a bad choice and decreases in time to the day we will stand and be judged.

We, as a people, need forgiveness from others and, with time, learn how to offer it to others.

We, as a people, want acceptance from others and, with time, learn how to accept others for who they are.

To live a life that offers love, forgiveness and acceptance while striving to achieve the Standard He asked us to work towards, well, that is one heck of a life.

Thankful Living

I believe in Thankful Living.  Why?  Because Thankfulness is a state of mind.  If I’m not counting my blessings then what am I focusing on?

Dianna Kokoszka teaches us in her KW BOLD training that “What we focus on expands.”  When all we concentrate on is the problem it seems the problem gets deeper and more complex.  When we focus on solutions it seems there becomes a choice between multiple variables.

I’m not advocating a Pollyanna way of life that refuses to recognize and then navigate the challenges each person’s life presents. I am saying that at times like this when I am still healing from my daughter’s passing (Emma Lengquist) that I can either focus on what stole her away from us…or I can focus on the blessing she truly was.  Yes, I am going to go to war over how mental health is handled in this country.  That doesn’t change how thankful I am for having known Emma.

living with hope

As a Christian, I also have the following commentary.  If you do not yet believe, feel free to stop reading here.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (New American Standard)
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

This is a great verse to remember.  It is a tough verse to carry out.  And in fact, I have failed here over and over and over again.  And yet, I know that it is correct.

I don’t believe this means we cannot grieve.  And it doesn’t mean that grief is a bad thing. Grief is a perfectly normal human experience that until now I had not fully understood.

But here is the deal; I have the Hope of Christ.  The late Billy Graham said “For the believer there is hope beyond the grave, because Jesus Christ has opened the door to heaven for us by His death and resurrection.”

I’m fully cognizant that Billy Graham isn’t in the Bible.  He did come to this conclusion through these following verses;

  • 1 John 5:13-14
  • 1 Peter 1:3-6
  • Ephesians 2:8-10
  • 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
  • John 4:13-14

I’m thankful for that hope.  I’m thankful for the time I got to spend with Emma.  I’m thankful for so very much in my life.  Please, take a few moments today and count your blessings.  Focus on that and each day is changed.