I love that pictures allow us to go back and relive moments.
I looked at pictures that let me once again see the sweet faces of my great niece and nephew. To hear again the laughter of Ethan and his cousin Dan.
To once again taste my brother-in-law's delicious crab cakes and my niece's unbelievably good salad. To once again sense the majesty of God's creation in a storm hovering over Mobile Bay.
A picture of a song, on a screen at my mother and daddy's church, once again reminded me that I am a part of a family that isn't defined by blood or marriage, but by faith in Jesus Christ.
I scrolled to a picture of something Ethan had asked me to photograph so he could send it to his brother.
The picture hurt.
"This?" I questioned.
"Lord, is this all that Ethan has to take a picture of?"
I fell across my bed and grabbed my prayer shawl.
I poured out my tears with my face buried in the shawl.
I thought about all the pictures I wanted for Ethan to be able to send to his brother and to his friends.
Pictures that would be posted on his Facebook page.
Pictures of trips that Ethan would have taken.
Pictures of him horsing around with friends. Pictures of him holding a big fish caught out of the Gulf of Mexico with a big smile on his sunburned face. Pictures of the love of his life, and maybe, pictures of a new baby that looked just like him.
I don't remember when the pouring out stopped, but it must have, because I woke up early the next morning ready for the new day.
While Jim and Ethan were still sleeping, I read several chapters in a new book about the heart of Jesus and several chapters from the Gospel of Mark.
It was sweet time.
With an extra cup of coffee in hand, I picked up my phone to check my e-mails.
There I found a message from a dear friend, sharing with me the news of a special gift God had given to her family.
The message was sent with pictures.
The same kind of pictures that I had wanted Ethan to be able to send. The same kind of pictures that I had poured out in tears the night before.
One of the things that I had asked God for, after Ethan was first hurt, was the ability to rejoice and celebrate with others in the middle of my loss. I have never wanted anyone to feel uncomfortable talking to me about the lives of their children.
I believe God has answered that prayer.
I've been to showers, weddings, and all types of celebrations. I've held babies and smothered them with kisses.
To be able to rejoice with others, even while my heart is broken, has been a gift from God.
The friend that sent me that e-mail loves me. She doesn't just love me, she really likes me. I know she has prayed and prayed for me and for Ethan.
And I love her. Her heart is good and kind. I looked at the pictures and rejoiced with her. A good gift from God. A gift they had thought they might not ever have.
But the tears began to flow, and I couldn't stop them.
They were coming faster than I could breathe.
I put on my shoes, grabbed my big dark sunglasses, and walked out the door.
I've learned that God always redeems whatever hurts that much.
I didn't want to miss what He was going to do, or what He was going to say.
So I walked down to the park to sit on my prayer bench.
With each step, I cried harder and harder. I couldn't stop the pouring out. It was as if I was no longer doing the pouring out, but that someone else was doing it for me.
I got to the park, and the city workers were cutting the grass, so I turned the corner and continued walking along the water.
My crying became louder. I wondered what I would say if someone asked me what was wrong.
I decided I would tell them the truth.
I was drowning in the extreme emotions of being thankful for my friend's gift and of the possibility of my child never being able to experience that gift for himself.
I was convinced that it had been no accident, that I had come across the picture that had begun the pouring out the night before.
I believe God wanted me to find that picture, and to pour out my hurt and pain, and to deal with any bitterness that might take root, before my friend's message came.
He wanted me to be empty so He could pour into me.
But what did He want to pour into me?
I continued to walk.
And to cry.
And then, louder than my crying, I heard Him say, "I've got this, Cheri."
"I've got this."
He was pouring in, and what He poured in was enough.
It always is.
The crying stopped as I repeated to myself with each step back home: He's got this.
He's got this.
Isn't that what we all want to know when our world falls apart, when we think we just can't make it?
Isn't that what we want to hear above the sounds of a heart breaking, and a world shattering?
Isn't that what we want to know when it is dark and we can't find our way?
My sweet friends, that's what I want to share with you today . . . that no matter how big it is and no matter how much it hurts . . . He's bigger.
He's got it for me, and He's got it for you.
And He's got my dear friend, and her new gift.
"My big enough God, to You I gladly yield.
I trust You to carry all that I hold dear.
My big enough God, capable to heal.
Ready to deliver, waiting to reveal . . . more of you."*
*To hear the song, "Big Enough God," click here.