Grace Upon Grace

The many painful memories of June 8th, 2017, are a daily presence. Among them is a heart-rending image forever etched in my mind of Sarah’s sisters shattered and huddled together after their dad told us she was gone. I vividly remember the weight and urgency I felt in that moment to comfort them and assure them we “would be okay.” In my spirit I knew Scott and I would do everything within our power to make into reality what in that moment seemed like a hollow promise. But in that moment I was also acutely and excruciatingly aware of how very little power we actually have.

But God and His infinite grace have been ever so faithful. In the midst of darkest days and deepest sorrow He has faithfully heaped grace upon grace on us. Yesterday was another demonstration of His lavish grace.

Our oldest daughter, Katelyn, married yesterday. The weather was perfect for her dream outdoor ceremony. It was a beautiful wedding and reception that I hope held many precious memories for her.

As the bridesmaids stood before me prepared for her to make her entrance, I sat relentlessly taking captive thoughts of Sarah’s absence among them. As Katelyn and her dad made their way down the aisle to the front, my eyes were on her groom, Phillip. I saw God’s overflowing grace there. Phillip loves Katelyn so well. As she moved toward him he was captivated by her, and I was captivated by his love for her.

God has been so indescribably faithful and gracious to our family. He has taken that shattered huddle of my remaining children and carried them, Scott and me on Eagle’s wings. He has tenderly loved us, compassionately sustained us, and faithfully led us.

Scott and I gained another son last night. A son we deeply love and appreciate because we see how well he loves our daughter.

We gained our first son less than a year ago when Kristen and Austin wed. We feel reasonably confident we will be gaining a third son in the not so distant future as our youngest has been loved and cared for so well by her boyfriend over the past three years.

As I watched our girls with each of their guys last night I couldn’t help but be reminded of God’s blessings for Job. God has allowed us to walk the indescribably painful path of Sarah’s earthly death and absence. He has not filled, and will not fill, the void of Sarah’s absence this side of heaven. But He has undeniably blessed us with the priceless gift of an expanding family through sons who love our daughters well.

Through the years I’ve said many times that I wished we had six children instead of just four. Last night we gained our sixth. This side of heaven our family will always remain incomplete, the sting of Sarah’s absence ever-present. But even so, through God’s outpouring of grace upon grace our shattered hearts rejoice in His abundant goodness and faithfulness.

“This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. [They] are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23 [NASB95]

A precious gift to us from Katelyn. Us with all four of our girls on her special day, along with a perfectly appropriate quote from Sarah’s favorite book, Little Women.

7 thoughts on “Grace Upon Grace

  1. I so appreciate you continuing to put words to your grief for others to learn from. I love the analogy to Job and how He has given you more “children” in your family. That reminder at the end of Job’s life is such a reminder of God’s graciousness… and like you are experiencing.. Grace Upon Grace. My heart aches with you as you miss her presence in your family. What a sweet celebration you all had yesterday!
    I LOVE Little Women. That picture is such a treasure. That line really does capture so much.
    Thank you again for your honest, grieving, growing heart that you share!!

  2. This was Heaven sent to me today!!! I have one of my four sons getting married in 5 weeks. I have been so concerned about how will I make it through that day….
    My third son, died 18 months ago and he was supposed to be the best man. With such fresh pain I am concerned about what’s missing feeling so much bigger than what is.
    Reading your article on Gods beautiful grace upon grace has opened a door in my heart this morning. I do not want the devil to steal the beauty of Gods grace on what should be a special day for our family. Please pray I am able to keep God’s presence front and center!!!
    I am also sad about having to take family photos… how will I smile.

    Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Vee, I am so sorry for the belated reply, I was waiting until I had time to thoughtfully reply and pray for you.
      I am so sorry for the loss of your son, it is so hard. I’m thankful God used this to comfort and encourage you. Thank you so much for sharing that it did as that actually comforts and encourages me as well.
      I am praying for you now, just as you asked, that you will keep God front and center, and that God will comfort your aching heart and strengthen you to fully celebrate the marriage of your son, even in the midst of grieving the absence of your other son.
      Praying that God will comfort you as you take those family pictures, it is hard on the heart not having our missing children in them, but what a treasure to be able to capture more precious memories with our remaining children.
      I wrote about our other daughter getting married in July last year, I don’t know that it would necessarily offer anything different than what I shared in this one, but you can read it here if you’d like: https://listeningtohim.com/2020/07/18/joy-inexpressible/
      Stopping to pray for you right now. 💙

  3. I was thinking of the girls, Scott and you this morning. God is so faithful and He blesses me in how you have shared (honest, transparent, real, not prettied up) your grief in the wake of the loss of Sarah. I knew He was continuing to heal your hearts broken by her tragic end here on earth.
    I opened my email and saw your bittersweet yet JOYful news of another beautiful wedding and the gaining of another son. Then the gift of the painting with all four of your lovely daughters. You will see Sarah again at that wonderful wedding in Heaven when we join Jesus in our glorious new bodies in our white robes. I want to see the JOY on your face when you introduce me to Sarah at the wedding feast. What a day of Rejoicing that will be!
    And not to rush anything as we know there is a time and season for everything God has planned for us. Even so, I do look forward to the addition of the NEXT generation to your family. Grandchildren are everything they are rumored to be AND more. Much love to you Karen and your growing family 🌸

  4. Thank you so so much for sending that Laura I think of karen a lot I signed up to get her blogs but i don’t Maybe they go to my junk Ugh Back when I used to be on Facebook a lot I would see them posted on Facebook but I have missed them for many many months now. Her writing is so encouraging to me I have even considered when I am in Huntsville calling her and having lunch to be encouraged by her. You are so helpful to me 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼

    On Mon, May 31, 2021 at 8:48 AM Listening to Him wrote:

    > Karen Harmening posted: ” The many painful memories of June 8th, 2017, are > a daily presence. Among them is a heart-rending image forever etched in my > mind of Sarah’s sisters shattered and huddled together after their dad told > us she was gone. I vividly remember the weight and urg” >

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