Faith, grief, parenting

Shattered Hearts

The Facebook memories popped up today, memories from four years ago.

My daughter just ran through the house chasing her brother. She was carrying a baseball bat, and she yelled, “I’ve got a bat and I’m not afraid to use it!” Perhaps this game has gotten a little out of control!

My mind flashed back to that day as I sat on my bed, my kids running through the house. I smiled as I reflected on the memory, the laughter echoing through my home.

Earlier on that same day was another memory:

1 child doing gymnastics + 1 child carrying a pancake drenched in syrup = 1 big, sticky mess!

Oh, how I remember as Cassie did a cartwheel through the kitchen right into her brother’s plate of pancakes. I don’t think her brother thought it was very funny at the time, but the look on their faces was priceless.

But even as the smile crept across my face remembering those precious moments, sadness overwhelmed me.

You see, it’s been a long while since I had a “Facebook worthy” moment from my kids.

Instead of laughter and joy. Instead of cartwheels and pancakes. Instead of games and pranks.

Our lives have devolved into survival mode. We are steeped in sadness and grief. We are overwhelmed with the heaviness of life. We are struggling to get our bearings, to get our lives back on track.

This truth was hammered home when my son called at lunch time.

“Mom,” he began, “I think I’m depressed.”

We spent an hour on the phone talking about life, about the chaos that has overwhelmed us. We talked about the reality of grief, of how it can show up without warning. We talked about the different emotions, of how grief can be manifested in anger or sadness or guilt. We talked about how all three kids are handling their grief differently, unique to their own personalities.

We talked about how I will do whatever is necessary to help them get through these difficult days. If we need a counselor, I will find one. If we need a friend who has been through loss, I will find one. If we need time away, I will arrange it.

Most of all, I reassured him that I love him more than life itself, that I will be here for him no matter what.

And when we hung up the phone, I wiped the tears from my eyes.

The last year has taken a major toll on our lives. Just when we thought we were moving forward, when life was getting better, when we were getting the hang of this single parent life, the kids’ dad passed away unexpectedly. We were thrust into a new season of grief, a new twist in this strange journey. We were faced with a pain no child should face, a wound deeper than any we’ve ever experienced.

Then, before we could even catch our breath, my daughter was struck by a major life-changing diagnosis. Protective big brother was left reeling from the sight of his sister’s unresponsive body, shaking, convulsing, as her brain was gripped by the onslaught of abnormal electrical impulses.

Our home, which used to be filled with laughter and joy, has become melancholy. My previously active daughter has become withdrawn, secluded. My passionate boy, so full of life, is now full of rage. And my analytical child battles a depression, a crisis of faith.

We have been robbed of joy.

We continue seeking God, struggling to get our feet on solid ground again. But I’ve come to realize that through the chaos, through the pain, through the exhaustion, through the fear, our lives are forever changed.

Our hearts and lives shattered.

Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Psalm 90:14-15

When I first became a single mom, I placed high value on laughter, on fun, on enjoying life together. As my kids have grown, I find it increasingly difficult to find time for fun. We have activities many evenings each week, and we seem to be on a never-ending marathon. We have responsibilities, ranging from work to school activities to ministry to relationships. Our lives are full, but we are often exhausted.

And we lose the time, the energy, just to have fun.

Added to the normal chaos of single parenting is grief…massive grief. Some days survival seems like a lofty goal.

But I don’t want my kids to survive! I want them to thrive! I want them to have a mindset of abundance, abundance of grace and mercy and love that flows from the Father. I want them to look back on their childhoods—even with all of the grief and hurt and pain—and I want them to remember it fondly. I want them to walk away from our home as adults with an assurance that there is good in this world, that there is unconditional love, that there is hope even in our most painful days. I want them to remember that God always brings good out of every circumstance, even those that rob us of our joy. I want them to know that their mourning was turned to laughter, that He brought beauty from the ashes.

I want them to be satisfied with His unfailing love.

I want them to sing for joy to the ends of our lives.

I want them to see gladness in proportion to the misery they have seen.

I want them to see God replace the evil years with good.

So tonight, when I got home from work, I engaged the boys in a ping-pong tournament. I didn’t have a chance—and I’m quite certain they went easy on me—but they enjoyed the fun, the laughter, the interaction with their (lousy ping-pong playing) mom.

I found the radio, tuned it to the local Christian radio station, and turned it up so I can fill our home with praise, with songs that remind us to reflect on the goodness of our Father.

I reminded the kids how much I love them, how much they mean to me, how they saved me many years ago.

I began to talk about the good times, the memories of days past, the laughter and fun.

Above all, I began telling my kids about the goodness of my Father, of how He has been so incredibly faithful through all the difficult days of our lives. I told them of His provision, His healing, His great love for us. I reminded them that just as He has been there for me, for us, He will take these miseries and use them to draw us closer to Him, to mold us into His image.

And I pray that He takes all the pieces of our shattered lives, our shattered hearts, and fits them all together into a beautiful mosaic, a masterpiece, one created by the Master artist.

Lord Jesus, it’s been a tough year, a long journey. We have grown weary, irritable. We are lost in grief, our hearts shattered. We need you. We need you to satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love. We want to sing for joy to the ends of our lives. We want to see gladness in proportion to the misery we have seen, to see you replace the evil years with good. We know you are able. We know your heart toward us is good, loving, kind. We know you will take all of the pain and make something beautiful of it. Take our hearts and fill them with joy. Show us how to laugh again, to love life, to thrive instead of survive. Take the pieces of our shattered lives and make something beautiful. In Jesus name, amen.



25 thoughts on “Shattered Hearts”

  1. Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought Dena and her children thus far in this journey. This past year has been sodden hard!! Please empower her with your ever lasting peace and assurance that all will be well. Flow your cooling , refreshing waters of grace and life over her. May she feel the tender love of a child at her mothers breast and know beyond any possibility of doubt that she is your cherished daughter, and as such all will be well. May she breathe in deeply the fragrance of your presence and may that bring her to Her core, her center where you reside. From that center may strength and wisdom and trust Turn her sadness into dancing!

  2. Praying for your family during this time of grief. Our family has gone through the grief of the loss of a parent. Continue what you are doing and his grace will carry you all.

    You write that ” I want them to have a mindset of abundance, abundance of grace and mercy and love that flows from the Father”. He is giving them and you abundant grace each day though there are days that it may not seem like it.

    Thank you for sharing your grief so we the body of Christ can pray. He hears and answers.

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Yes, He does pour out His abundance on us. In many ways, it’s a matter of guiding them to see the blessings, to focus on God’s grace instead of our grief. Thanks for your prayers and yours wisdom as I know you have walked this path.

  3. Hi Dena.

    Have you heard of “Glutathione”? – The Master Anti-oxidant?

    I believe your kids would benefit from this food supplement.

    It’s available in the US under the brand name – MAX-1 or CELLGEVITY.

    It’s particularly useful for neuro-degenerative conditions so I’m pretty confident your little girl and boy with depression would do well on this – in fact, all the family would.

    Please go to to read more about it.
    Also check out That’s the company’s website with videos & educational stuff, etcetera.

    Do let me know how it goes.

    The Lord bless you and keep you.

  4. Amen,
    Dena those words in your most recent email regarding your family , your Son, and God crafting a Masterpiece Has been and will be a blessing in my life now and for times to come , like yourself me and my family have been merely in survival mode for the past year after one trauma after another. .when is it going to end? What’s the plan for our lives? A plan to prosper not harm , restore the years that were stolen ? We struggle to make sense , but we just need to make the connection with our Father in Heaven , God bless you and your family. Victoria Crompton

  5. Dena, You and your children have now been added to my regular prayers. My heart breaks for you and I most certainly in awe of your strength in handling life as it is now. My hope is that your life will continue to be a testimony of faith and my prayer is that you will come through rescued and victorious with thriving self and thriving children.

  6. Thank you for sharing and your faithfulness! Your message really helped me. I have been recently divorced and separated for a year. My seven year old and I are living day by day. I am heartbroken and grieving. I stumbled upon your blog somehow. I just pray God blesses you all and heals your hearts. Thank you again!

    1. Thank you, Barbara. And I will keep you in my prayers. Cling to God! He will faithfully carry you through, and one day you will look back in amazement at all He has done in you and through you.

  7. Dena, my heart and prayers go out to you and your precious children. You are such an encouragement in this to me and many others by your example of standing strong with expectant hope in our Jesus. God bless you and yours abundantly, and may He soon bring peace, comfort, healing and consolation in your shattered broken lives. We know He can’t be far off too, because His Scripture in the Psalms states that He is near to the brokenhearted and whose spirits are crushed. And we know too, that when we draw near to Him He draws near to us. I pray you can feel His presence in your hearts today.

  8. Dena, my heart goes out to you and your children during this difficult time of grief. May God carry your burdens, heartache and pain. May God give you comfort, strength and peace.

  9. Our Lord and Savior has blessed you not just inside your own family and your story but He has blessed me by finding you. You show such a sense of strength and “fight” because of your amazing faith making me KNOW that peace is achievable. Yet you also are not afraid to show your human vulnerability, fear and honest heart.

    Like I mentioned when you posted this in the divorce care forum, the Facebook memories for me brings a different kind of hurt. When I see things that I posted that I know now were clouded in untruth, betray and lies, well I’m still struggling. I am still trying to sort the real truth from the facade and honestly it rips my heart to shreds. More for my kids then myself. I also know that as long as I continue to give into the firey darts of satan, allowing him to implant untruths, dragging me into his evil playground that I will stay in the frozen state of my life and never know God as He intended.

    It’s a blessing to know that through your pain, your story, I have found a woman, a sister in Christ, a kindredship so-to-speak that I know I can get through this, this hell on earth, and be ok as long as I put the Lord first. As long as I surrender my humanly heartbreak, my questions and weaknesses, that He will always be by my side. That I might be lonely but never alone.

    “Thank you Lord Jesus for placing Dena into my life. Thank you for showing me it’s ok to feel weak and broken, but reminding me that I am truly strong. Thank you for continuing to teach me that sometimes I have to accept the unacceptable. You are my Father, I am your child, please continue to guide me through your true mercy and grace. Thank for your blessings that are revealed more to me everyday. Thank you for making me see that through my heartbreak, I am drawing closer to you, so Lord, thank you for this pain. Thank you Lord for placing people like Dena into my life so that I don’t feel alone. In your precious name I pray, amen.”

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