No hope?

img_6371-hopeI’ve been listening (perhaps I shouldn’t) to spokepersons on television news stations repeat words spoken by some in authority that our nation is now “without hope.” Are these wise words? Naturally I disagree with them. After all, my post address is “Hope Is Possible.” As most of you know, I am not referring to national hope, but hope after suicide; hope for those surviving suicide, which includes hope for all who grieve. Therefore it’s no stretch to be inclusive and say that there is hope for the whole world, right?

You may agree with political mindsets who feel we are “without hope” in our nation going forward from the swearing in ceremony on January 20. The statement gave me pause nevertheless, but this is not intended to be a political piece. I won’t air my opinions, however the words got me thinking.

“We are without hope.” How does a statement like this make you feel in your grief? It doesn’t have a question mark, but a period. Is it truth? Does it apply? To be “without hope” is to be hopeless, right? Personally I am not hopeless, but my firstborn likely felt he was, causing him to end his pain by taking his life. Suicide is the prevalent next step to hopelessness. I dare say that if we, as a nation, think negatively and feel hopeless, what is the logical next step, or is there one?

Readers who have been following my blog know that I write to help other grievers feel hopeful. Yes, life is hard after loss. There is no argument there. I have it hard, you have it hard, but I do not live without hope. You don’t either, do you? We may be shattered, bone dry, sickened with grief, and feel broken beyond repair, but we are not without hope. Keep reading the devotional below for someone else’s take on this topic.

~ Hope springs eternal in the human breast ~

“The English poet Alexander Pope wrote, ‘Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man never is, but always to be blest.’

“The director of a medical clinic told of a terminally ill young man who came in for his usual treatment. A new doctor who was on duty said to him casually and cruelly, ‘You know, don’t you, that you won’t live out the year?’

“As the young man left, he stopped by the director’s desk and wept. ‘That man took away my hope,’ he blurted out.

“‘I guess he did,’ replied the director. ‘Maybe it’s time to find a new one.’

“Commenting on this incident, Lewis Smedes wrote, ‘Is there a hope when hope is taken away? Is there hope when the situation is hopeless? That question leads us to Christian hope, for in the Bible, hope is no longer a passion for the possible. It becomes a passion for the promise.’”

No one, not even a professional, can know whether or not that young man will live out the year. That information is known only to the God of heaven. It is also true that no one can tell you that you live without hope. You can choose to believe that you have no hope or that you will never feel joy again in your grief journey, but is it truth?

I will not answer this question for you, but I will answer it for me. If I did not have hope ~ hope in the next life, hope that I will see my child again ~ I would be someone most miserable (1 Corinthians 15:19). Further, I dare say, that I, (and speaking for no one else), do not see how I could survive my son’s suicide without hope . . . hope in the Eternal.

There are hundreds of verses of Scripture with the word “hope” in them. Not all of them are positive, but discerning reading gives me confidence in the hope to come. You may choose to believe otherwise, but I believe that the hope, referred to in Scripture, is the good stuff which is ahead for those who put their trust in God; therefore I choose to rise every day in the hope of being reunited with my firstborn son once more!

Is not your reverence your confidence? And the integrity of your ways your hope? Job 4:6

Quote from Our Daily Bread, December 19, 1996, (Bible “dot” org)

Verse from Job, New King James Version (NKJV)

 

Drab days of winter

f8b98457ef01e43d1b59e201dc8e4ac4-winter

“Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

The weather report says “overcast” as a cloud cover obscures the sky. We are experiencing a stint of drab gray. Winter, in our neck of the woods, is hitting its stride. Don’t laugh, but I feel frustrated enough to write about it (noting that days without sunshine can be difficult for those who are susceptible to depression), and I am more ready than ever for Mr. Sun to poke his smiling face through the gray clouds and bring a pop of color into my dreary view.

As gray of day turned into black of night one evening, I approached the wall of windows to lower the blinds. I stopped in my tracks and stared at the horizon. There bore the evidence that sunshine will return again as I stood, transfixed, and gazed at a strip of crimson. It looked as if shimmering liquid coral had pooled on the lackluster landscape. Just a touch. Just for a moment. Then the beauty sank out of sight, but it was enough to remind me that it won’t always be dark. Light will return. Glory will once again light up my world.

Like me, you may be on a grief journey. You may feel the seemingly endless drudgery of weary steps, and dark days don’t help. We go through the motions, day after day, living for that moment; the moment we are reunited with the ones we were forced to bury while they were still young and full of life.

I picture this expanse of grief like a conveyor belt. It keeps moving whether I move or not. With my carry-on in hand I am borne, not toward a distant destination promising great joy, but along a curvy, bumpy road that often feels like it is heading nowhere.

And yet . . . this journey of grief is taking me somewhere. Moment by moment, day by day, year by year, I am inching closer to a grand reunion more spectacular than humans can imagine.

Meanwhile, we face holiday after holiday occupied with thoughts of those who can no longer join us around the kitchen table. We miss their hugs, their smiles, their jokes, their stories we have heard so often that finishing them is automatic. They may be gone, but their memories are not.

Just as the sun will return to shine upon our upturned faces, I am reminded that my “Son-shine” will return, too. His glory will be spectacular. We will see our children face to face at last, and they will be radiant. The drab gray of pain will disappear. The darkness of our shattered hearts will be replaced with hearts that will beat in unison throughout eternity. hallelujah!

The Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. Malachi 4:2a

Version selected, GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

 

“Silent Night, Holy Night”

baby-in-manger

For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11

Strains of sweet carols floated through the open front door where my hubby was standing. He beckoned me to join him. As I drew closer, the music grew louder and sweeter. Who is singing? Was it recorded music? No, it was carolers! A group of people from church had gathered outside our front door and were singing their hearts out. I joined in . . . Silent Night, Holy Night . . .

After the group finished singing, we clapped, and I thanked them. We shared smiles and hugs. Several, knowing of my cancer journey and the surgeries involved, said they were praying for me. How wonderful that a choir of friends makes house calls!

They had no idea that this day had been a downer for me. They had no idea that Christmas doesn’t get any easier each year I don’t have my firstborn to share it with. They had no idea that I determine to write, through struggle, encouragement for the both of us, dear reader. Don’t misunderstand. I have hope. You have hope, too, but that does not mean we don’t feel the sharp pain of loneliness more acutely during the winter holidays.

It is my personal belief that, because of Baby Jesus born so long ago in Bethlehem, our hope is not in vain. Because this same baby grew to be a Man among men, and gave His life’s blood to save every one of His created, there is hope enough to go round. The Good News is that He will return, but this time as King of Kings and Lord of Lords! This will be a “homecoming” for all mankind!

Scripture shared from New King James Version (NKJV)

 

Hoodwinked . . . again!

I should have taken a picture of my cat’s latest caper. To you my readers it would be positive proof what a stinker he is. I guess I was too “steamed” at the time to think to take one. Since a picture is worth 1000 words, the crust edges left in this picture gives you a visual hint that he has an appetite for people food; he would gladly have gnawed on this pizza crust if he had been given the opportunity, for he loves bread. This meal he missed. Read on to find the dessert he didn’t . . .

photo (13)

You could call him a villain, but his name is Pippy. He sleeps all day and goes on the prowl at night. Anything with an attractive aroma is fair game. My son calls him Satan. I wouldn’t go that far, but he is full of mischief.

If I had a video camera, his nightly exploits would be entertaining. At people meals this cat will stare you down with every bite you take. He’s brazen enough to take swipes with his paw at morsels of food heading for his “tenant’s” mouth. If he gets lucky, he’ll get an unexpected morsel, and the score tips in his favor.

Recently I got reminded, yet again, that I may be off my game, but Pippy is never off his. If I get an “F” in food storage, all the better for my “shenanigans” cat. He will chew through paper bags, plastic wrap, or tin foil to reach something that smells delightful. His nose works overtime to hunt for something sweet or salty. My mistake at night means cleaning up his mess in the morning.

One night I forgot to put white chocolate away. Pippy honed in on the aroma of chocolate, which he had never tasted until this caper. Fortunately for him, its consumption did not appear to have an ill effect.

A few nights later, I failed to put marshmallows away behind closed doors, and “Sherlock” was on the case. I had triple bagged the marshmallows, assuming they’d be safe, but Pippy tore through all the layers of wrapping and helped himself. Chocolate + marshmallow + hmm . . . one more item . . . ahh, graham crackers! Pippy just missed making s’mores! Sigh. Will I ever learn?

When I pause to think back to the time when our hijinks cat found us, he was a bitsy “pipsqueak”. Skinny and determined are two adjectives that best described this little kitten, who had picked us to provide home and comfort. How could we have known that just a few short weeks later, our firstborn would take his life? Wracked by grief, we were inconsolable. The only creature who could get through to us was little Pipsqueak. He was frail, but also feisty. There were so many times in those first months after losing our son that he made us laugh in spite of our hearts’ resistance. I dubbed him our “God kitty,” for who else could have foreseen our need for laughter breaks in our grief?

~ Pippy wanted to live, and in some small way, known only to our Creator, he was willing us to live too. ~

Pippy is all grown up now and still the determined stinker. If I get careless, he wins. Unfortunately, I have to admit that there is a parallel in my spiritual life. Just like my cat, I may be off my game at times, but Satan is never off his. When I don’t spend time fortifying myself with the “bread of life” in my Bible, I can feel the enemy’s hot breath bearing down on me, waiting for the opportunity to attack. He will always take full advantage of my weaknesses. He will never play fairly. Being described as a roaring lion, he’s always on the prowl to devour spiritually as many humans as possible, so he won’t die alone (1 Peter 5:8). Just as I must be vigilant with food storage, I must also arm myself with truth so that Satan can’t trip me up.

The good news for all who are interested is that Satan’s days are numbered! As soon as Jesus uttered the words, “It is finished,” on Calvary’s cross, the countdown began for the devil’s demise. The hands on the clock of time seem to move too slowly for us grievers, who are eager to see our precious loved ones again. Never fear. Satan will be destroyed forever! Death will die! No hint of sin, sorrow, or pain will ever mar our lives again (Nahum 1:9). We will be forever free to enjoy the wonders of eternity with our precious children and others we love. We will never be parted again. Yippee!

“The last hostile power to be destroyed is death itself.” 1 Corinthians 15:26 

Scripture shared from The Voice 

 

Taking a Break

I have been writing my blog and sharing it with both members and friends on Facebook for over 4 years. I feel strongly that there are those who need the particular words God gives me that week to write. I hate to take a break for medical reasons, and if it is His will, I will be back at my computer, writing again before long.

The problem which keeps me from writing now are the muscle spasms, that apparently, are a part of phase two of breast cancer ~ the expansion phase. So for the time being, I cannot type enough to fill more than a few paragraphs before the sharp, painful spasms overwhelm me. I know you understand that this life is full of difficulties. This one is to be weathered just like all the other ones we face.

Please don’t forget about me and drop your membership. You certainly have access to the months and years of posts on file. Go back and read a few for your comfort. God will lead you to just the right ones. Perhaps the archives will hold you until I can return.

I am unable to send this message to every grief site. If I could, I would try to write and send something special for you to read, but this break I must take for now, includes all aspects of blogging. I will send this message to my author page and perhaps those who read it there will pass it along to the grief sites they are members of, etc. That will help to spread the word. God bless you all.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3) Encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:12)

God willing, I will be back . . . soon.

Love you, my friends.

 

 

 

 

 

txt

 

 

This entry was posted on November 4, 2016. 7 Comments

Fragrant Words Fitly Spoken

“After we hugged, and I walked away, all I could think about for the rest of the day is what you will be facing the rest of your life, living without your firstborn son. Your fragrant perfume . . . ”

file1561244751077 - Perfume and Petals

“The pleasant aroma of your fragrance rises in the air…” Song of Solomon 1:3a Voice

Every time I open my cosmetic drawer and reach for a bottle of fragrance, I see a bottle which I have not touched since the death of my firstborn to suicide a number of years ago. It’s a lovely perfume by a well-known designer. Even so, I cannot bring myself to wear it. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I wore it to my son’s funeral. In spite of its sweet fragrance, the perfume is forever attached to the horrific memories associated with my son’s death.

Receiving lines. Remember the receiving line at your child’s funeral? Can you recall the names of all the people who loved your child and came by to pay their respects? For me, most faces remain blurred. A few I remember. Some friends were so choked up they could hardly speak. Others offered hugs with a few whispered words. Even though I cannot recall all their faces, I know they all came because of their love for my son and his family.

A short time after the funeral I was in the grocery store, mechanically dropping things expected to sustain life into my cart. My life seemed fractured beyond repair. I wandered from aisle to aisle, feeling overwhelmed with the sights and sounds of normal. Suddenly in front of me was a lady whom I had last seen at the funeral. We smiled a greeting. I would have preferred to keep on going so that the tears would not spill over, but instead, I remembered my manners and stopped. After a hug of greeting followed by a little chitchat, she said something I have never forgotten. A few precious words from her heart to mine, as she recalled the memory of that receiving line:

“After we hugged, and I walked away, all I could think about for the rest of the day is what you will be facing the rest of your life . . . living without your firstborn son. Your fragrant perfume clung to me. All that day and evening, every time its pleasant sweetness graced my nose, I sent up a prayer for you.”

I was touched. Her kind words stirred a deep place of pain within my shattered heart. Tears welled up in my eyes as I fished around in my purse for a tissue. We hugged again and went our separate ways, but the blessing continues. Whenever I recall our meeting . . . the sweet fragrance of her words still lingers and blesses me.

A well-spoken word at just the right moment is like golden apples in settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11 Voice

Recently I came across a little story in the Reader’s Digest entitled “The Kindness of Strangers.” Someone else had a similar experience involving a sweet fragrance:

“A woman at our yard sale wore a perfume that smelled heavenly and familiar.

“What are you wearing?” I asked.

“White Shoulders,” she said.

Suddenly, I was bowled over by a flood of memories. White Shoulders was the one gift I could count on at Christmas from my late mother. We chatted awhile, and she bought some things and left. A few hours later, she returned holding a new bottle of White Shoulders. I don’t recall which one of us started crying first.”

. . . the sweetness of a friend is a fragrant forest. Proverbs 27:9b GW

Media Stooksbury, Powell, TN, RD, October, 2015

Scripture selections: The Voice (VOICE); GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on October 14, 2016. 2 Comments

Surviving Cancer: Fight the Fight

mime-attachment (3)

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Fear is a word that fits quite naturally in company with the word, cancer. Before I could wring my hands in fear or be scheduled for surgery, I happen to come across this piece that addresses fear head on. I would like to share portions of it with you, layering it between my own words. Perhaps it will serve as a reminder, through the lens of my own experience, that fear can immobilize. (Citation is listed at the bottom.)

“A new president was about to take office. After Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in, he gave his inaugural address. One of the things he said as he tried to bolster the morale of his disheartened countrymen has become immortal. He said, ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself!’

“What a profound statement! Roosevelt knew what fear can do. Fear paralyzes us. It causes ambition and courage to leak out and leaves us without resources to face even the simplest situations. Fear is defined as ‘an emotion aroused by threatening evil or impending pain, accompanied by a desire to avoid or escape it; apprehension or dread.'”

I have something that looms large on the horizon. As I mentioned in a previous blog, it’s cancer. Should I fear it? I can’t say that it was ever on my bucket list, but then . . . neither was suicide. Surviving the loss of my firstborn to suicide shattered my heart and hobbled my soul, but I refuse to allow it to kill my spirit. I pray that cancer will not do me in either. I face both journeys in Christ.

 For God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a good mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 NLV

“Fear is part of our Creator’s loving provision for us. Properly controlled, fear protects us from harm and motivates us toward positive action. If you were to see a bear in the woods, you wouldn’t go up and pet it—you’d flee as fast as you could. Your sensible fear protects you. Uncontrolled fear, however, can lock us into an emotional prison and stunt our personal and spiritual growth. Unrestrained fear darkens our lives; it colors everything we do. It is a great obstacle to our spiritual growth.”

Now I face surgery to remove the cancerous tumor. A portion of my feminine curves will be removed. That fact is certain. How this will impact me emotionally is uncertain. I assume that I will deal with it as I go along. But first, the scalpel in the hands of an experienced surgeon, who entrusts her work to the hands of my divine Physician, will remove the “enemy.” Then the long healing process can begin.

In this day and age one can look at anything on the internet, including breasts. In fact, did you know that you can look at hundreds of before-surgery and after-reconstruction pictures of breasts, and it’s not considered in poor taste? I am learning that the World Wide Web is yet another way to gain knowledge about my cancer surgery. I am both amazed and grateful to other women, diagnosed with breast cancer, who are willing to reveal their private selves to inform patients like me. I suppose I am also attempting to desensitize myself to my new reality. Actually the after pictures look quite normal. Perhaps I have nothing to fear, and in part, I have these brave women to thank for it.

“Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the most common type of noninvasive breast cancer, with about 60,000 new cases in the United States each year. About one in every five new breast cancer cases is ductal carcinoma in situ.” (Cancer Treatment Centers of America)

“If God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear and we know that He loves us perfectly, why are we still afraid? How can we be freed from the paralysis this kind of fear generates? We must learn to fight fear with fear—another kind of fear that is the antidote for our uncontrolled fears. It’s called the fear of the Lord.

“When we have the fear of the Lord, it means we look upon God with awe or reverence, an attitude accompanied by obedience, knowing, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10a NIV).”

I appreciate all the prayers from my readers as I embark on this new adventure into the unknown. Perhaps I will give an update in the future (at the one-year mark if not before), as the shock of surgery wears off, comfort returns, and I begin adjusting to yet another “new normal.”

Quotes from Lesson 5, “Nothing to Fear But Fear” in the series entitled “Facing Your Feelings” (“Bible dot org”)

Scripture quoted from New Life Version (NLV); New International Version (NIV)

This entry was posted on September 30, 2016. 4 Comments

Surviving Cancer: Riding Tandem

I was powerless to change the course of my precious child’s life. I am not powerless to change the course of mine.

My grief journey has taken a companion. The fire-breathing “dragon” has struck again. I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. It feels foreign to type a sentence that begins with “I” and ends with the dreaded “C” word. Perhaps the more I type it, the less foreign it will sound? I’m in good company as you will note in the current statistics for 2016 from the American Cancer Society:

  • About 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 61,000 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 40,450 women will die from breast cancer.  

Some of my readers may be waging their own battles with cancer or other diseases. Maybe if we continue to share our struggles ~ no matter what they are ~ inspiring and encouraging one another to keep moving in the right direction, we will diminish the power that disease seems to hold over us. After all, God says in 3 John 2 that He wants us to prosper and be in good health, so He’s is on our side, too!

For years now I have awakened remembering that my firstborn will never come home again. Sadly there is nothing I can do to change that fact. With the new diagnosis, I wake up not only remembering that my son will never come home again but also  knowing that I have cancer. Death is a fact I cannot change. I am fortunate that this type of cancer has given me a choice. I can choose to succumb to fear and do nothing, or I can take action and continue to live.                                                             

To share or not to share. (I would not want to embarrass any of my male readers.) Okay. Maybe in the sharing I am reminding all of us to search for humor in even the most humorless situations.  

Most of us have likely experienced the dreaded mammogram. The results of mine suggested that further testing should be done, and I was scheduled for a biopsy. At first glance the set-up for the biopsy appeared similar to the mammogram, except the ratio of clinician to patient was 4 to 1, not the usual 1 to 1. There was the doctor, three clinicians, and me. Instead of standing, like one does for a mammogram, I was allowed to sit. Piece of cake, I thought.

The ladies were nice, and the doctor was gentle, but they pulled and pushed and squeezed the stuffins’ out of my, ah, piece of meat” in order to guide the doctor to the spot in question, so she could insert a needle. The needle would munch little tissue samples from the lesion, which would be sent to the lab for examination.

Suddenly I felt a familiar touch of wooziness. Oh, no! Surely I won’t faint! Apparently I had been pushed, prodded, and told one too many times to keep my eyes closed so I would not see what the doctor was doing, and yep . . . I fainted. I’m sure it was only seconds later when I opened my eyes. My chair had been tilted back, and I was looking up into a “sea” of faces. A voice asked me to state my name and birthdate, the usual, “Do you know who you are?” drill. Apparently I passed. lol

There was chatter about calling it a day and rescheduling my appointment, but I had already been numbed up, which was no picnic, so I asked if there were other options. In response they suggested that I roll unto my side. They wanted to find out if they could do a biopsy with me lying in that position, which translates to “guinea pig.” There was more pushing, pulling, and taping the other “girl” out of the way. Thankfully there were no pictures taken to mark this event, and the doctor was able to complete the biopsy. The staff expressed their relief that the “trial and error” worked. Me, too.

Two days later my doctor gave me the results. It was cancer, but caught early. The next step would be surgery. I have always tried to be fully honest and transparent with my grieving readers. With your permission I will add my cancer story to ride tandem with my continued journey into grief. It will be a part of the path that meanders where it will as I embark on this new unknown.

Day after day there is the temptation to quit, to succumb to the pain: pain from sorrow, disease, or chronic illness. Each day I choose life, I may also choose to face the pain with courage.

Just like every day in my journey thus far, I choose life. I choose to do whatever it takes to continue living, and if that includes surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, so be it. Wow. Do I have a choice? Absolutely. I could take a chance with my life. I could face each day knowing an “enemy” has invaded my tissues ~ uninvited and unannounced, and do nothing about it. But I’d rather fight this enemy. Actually, I want God to fight this enemy with me.

I would love for you to add my name to your prayer list. We are in this mess together, you and I ~ this mess called life. We lift each other up, and, hand in hand, we take new steps forward each and every day.

My simple prayer to God is tucked in the pages of His Word:

When struck by fear, I let go, depending securely upon You alone. Psalm 56:3

Scripture from The Voice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on September 16, 2016. 6 Comments

Have No Fear

Grand Teton Afternoon - Mountains

I look up to the mountains ~ does my help come from there? Ps 121:1

Do we dare trust the words written under the picture above? They were obviously written a long time ago by a man named David. Not only old, they are outdated, right? How can they apply to us, today, in a world which seems to be going mad.

Sometimes I feel like our world is careening out of control, teetering precariously on the cusp of a cliff ready to hurl off course into the vast unknown. Ever think that when you close your eyes at night, you may awaken to the end of the world? Some of you may enjoy movies which have frightening titles like: Armageddon, Doomsday, or World War Z. The titles, alone, suggest gloom and doom to me, even if the substance is more silly than scary.

What are we to make of all the horror and havoc going on within our blue planet? From outer space, it may look pretty, calm, and serene, but civilization as we know it, seems to be running amuck. You agree? Not a day goes by without the nightly news blaring that, somewhere in the world, someone has donned protective or explosive gear, gone to a place teaming with humanity, and blasted the innocent with bullets, killing many instantly. Police quickly rally, return fire, and either kill the gunman, or he blows himself up. The carnage is sickening, horrific. If this is not bad enough, we now have to be on the lookout for crazy truck drivers who intend to plow into crowds of celebrating people, mowing them down like grass. It’s too much.

This world is full of sick people, who think nothing of killing others just because they are different. Almost daily now, bad guys are picking off good guys in blue, who put their lives on the line to protect Americans.

Not long ago we watched our televisions as videos captured the people of Dallas running away from the sound of gun fire while police ran toward it, risking their lives. Five of those brave men never arrived home that night.

I don’t like calling our attention to the current state of play, but it’s hard to ignore. Those of us who are living the worst pain ever, having lost children to suicide, can’t absorb more tragedy. We are bursting at the seams in sorrow already. Is there no safe place to lay down one’s head without dreading tomorrow?

We know that our country is poised for change in Washington DC as we approach an election this fall. I don’t envy those who are actively campaigning to be our next President. That person’s plate will be heaped high with trouble before the first day in office. Who is best suited to put on a hard hat and attempt the impossible? Can either candidate promise peace and safety? These last three words, “peace and safety,” bring this text to mind:

They give assurances of peace when there is no peace. Jeremiah 6:14b NLT

Today “there is no peace.” I have come to realize in my own mind, that there is no leader in Washington DC, or in the world, present or future, who can keep me safe; one who will have my back before he protects his or her own. Even those closest to me don’t have the power to keep me safe. The way I see it, no one but God has the power to protect me. Only He can keep me safe. When I read my Bible, considering it as a whole, I get the distinct impression that God is more focused on keeping me safe for eternity rather than safe in the here and now, and I’m okay with that. The concept makes sense to me.

Some readers may agree that we cannot rely on a human being to carry us to safety. I look up to the mountains, and higher still, from where my help comes. Jesus has promised to return, wake up those who loved Him, and wing us to heaven where it will be peaceful forevermore. The bad stuff of earth will become a distant memory.

While others are crouching in terror and fearful of what may come, those who put their faith and trust in God don’t need to fear. In fact, the last book in the Bible tells us not to fear (Revelation 1:17). I know. It’s easier said than done, right? But think of it this way: if I take Him at His word day by day, trusting Him to keep His promise to comfort me in my grief, I will soon learn that I can lean on Him completely as He carries me forward step by step. He is reliable and trustworthy. And why should I trust Him? Because there is no one on earth who loves you and me more than God does. Not one. Nada.

You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything. Colossians 2:10 MSG

Is there hope? You expect me to say, “yes,” and I won’t let you down. I have good reason to hope. I don’t have to rely on a single person to carry me to safety. I rely on Jesus Christ to take care of me now and wing me to heaven when He returns. Like a popular gospel song promises, “I’ve read the back of the book, and we win.” Yes. I’ve read the last book of the Bible, Revelation, “the big reveal” if you will, and He does win! Jesus Christ wins!

Therefore, friend, let’s not worry about the future. There will certainly be more trouble. Scripture has promised it (John 16:33). But there are also plenty of assurances that, no matter what happens, God will see us through until Jesus returns. So why should we fear? You and I have experienced the worst . . . we are surviving the worst, are we not?

Scripture shared from the New Living Translation (NLT); The Message (MSG)

 

 

This entry was posted on September 2, 2016. 6 Comments

The Swift Goodbye

 ~ Sorrows come to stretch our places in the heart for joy. ~ Markham

_DSC4790 - Candle on log

In Honor of My Son ~ Gone Too Soon

August 21, 1974 ~ August 11, 2005

Nancy Reagan died in March, 2016 at the age of 94. She outlived her President husband by 12 years. Now she is buried beside the man she adored for 52 years. During the twilight of their lives, “Ronnie” became ill with Alzheimer’s disease. Nancy took care of him, as his mind slowly faded. The former First Lady called it “the long, slow goodbye”. I understand that statement. It is aptly named. My mother lost herself in the same disease. It slowly took her mind and shriveled her body. All the while my dad lovingly cared for her until her death 18 years later.

It was sad to lose first my mom and then my dad five years later in 2001. It was sadder still to lose my firstborn son to suicide four years after my dad died. Thinking about Ms. Reagan’s description of her husband’s slow fade from life, I felt the opposite was true with the death of my son. For me his death was more like “the swift goodbye.”

It’s been over ten years since my son died. Years of reflection have afforded some charity, however there will always be questions without answers. One comes to mind out of the pain of ongoing grief: “couldn’t I have done that?” Meaning, couldn’t I have done all those final tasks to honor my son which others did in my place? At the time total exhaustion required many helping hands, and I will always be grateful for them. It’s now, after years have gone by, that my hands ache to do more than put flowers on my son’s grave. Readers can tell that this is very personal for me, but I share it with you in case you, too, find your reflections fraught with questions. One should be allowed the freedom to ask them, even if only in the quiet of one’s mine, don’t you agree?

After the sudden, shocking death of my son, I remember feeling so rushed. If I had a choice, I would have preferred to slow the process down, so that my mind could attempt to catch up, (which, of course, IS impossible). It happened as if I was living in a blur and out of focus. Someone alerted my other children. I don’t even know who called them. I think now, couldn’t I have done that? Perhaps someone thought they were “sparing” me added grief. Why spare me? There is absolutely nothing from which one can be spared after death by suicide.

From a safe distance now I look back at the rush of activity which followed my son’s death and think, I would have preferred to be involved in every scene, every decision no matter how miniscule, for each was important. I was present in every scene at his birth, so why not at his death? I was notified of his passing, but not summoned to identify him. I have no recollection as to why not. Was it because I didn’t think to ask? People hurried us here and there to make decisions while we were dazed and shocked to the marrow. We agreed to arrangements no parent should ever have to make. We signed documents no parent should ever have to sign.

I don’t remember putting any thought into selecting his casket . . .  having never shopped for one before. (Is one supposed to shop for such a thing?) I have only a vague memory of that awful display room. I probably pointed at one through eyes brimming with tears, and hurried back out of there. Thoughtful friends offered to buy my son’s burial clothes. I agreed at the time. Years later I think, couldn’t I have done that?

It seemed like an eternity before we were allowed to see him at the mortuary. I had been praying, “God, if possible, please let it not be my son.” Unfortunately, there was no denying that this young man, with his short, sandy hair, fine handsome features, and beautiful hands, was mine. This man-child was once a bitty “bump” in my belly. This man-child, from the first tiny flutter, had my heart. Nothing bad could ever separate us. Isn’t that the hope of every parent?

Even though I am forced to accept my son’s death, I still love him with all my heart. I could never stop loving the baby I struggled to bring into this world ~ my mind already filled with the hopes and dreams I planned for him. May I never forget each detail, each nuance, each memory of him, all tucked inside my heart. Although I rage against it, somehow I must accept that this is all I have left of him . . . for now.

It seemed to me that there was little time allowed for closure before the final service. Why the rush? Does death have an expiration date? There is no prior planning like one may do for aging parents. Losing one’s child to suicide is shocking, numbing, and so brutally final. Preparations were made quickly and plans finalized. Now I look back and wonder, could I have requested that we slow it down a bit? Why the rush? I would have the rest of my life to process, grieve, and reflect.

All that remained of our sad, swift goodbye was to lower the heavy lid, and shut out daylight forever from the light of my life. Again, why the rush? Could I have asked everyone to leave, so that I could be alone with my son? Perhaps I could have eased into the shock of it all if I had been allowed to sit by him a little longer, touching him, studying his features, and crying more buckets of tears.

Would I have been allowed to stay until I was ready to leave? I doubt it, but I never thought to ask. Perhaps such a request would have been considered irrational behavior. We grievers are easily labeled by those who don’t have any personal experience with losing a child. I know the mortuary personnel were just doing their jobs. For them most funerals are business as usual. Naturally they want to close up and go home, but my heart was screaming, I’m not ready to leave! Can’t I stay by my son just one night? I can’t bear to part with him yet!

I know I will see this man-child again one day. He will look just like I remember him when he was alive, only better. We will squeeze the stuffins’ out of each other in a giant embrace. He will smile his awesome smile again. He will throw back his head and laugh for the sheer joy of being together again, forever this time, and forever free of pain. What a reunion it will be!

God will take away all their tears. There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All the old things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

Verse from the New Life Version (NLV)

This entry was posted on August 19, 2016. 8 Comments