Archive | April 2013

The Cry of Our Hearts

Claude Monet, Weeping Willow (2)

Claude Monet, Weeping Willow (2) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God grieves over his children:

“My people are hell-bent on leaving Me. They pray to god Baal for help. He doesn’t life a finger to help them. But how can I give up on you, Ephraim? How can I turn you loose, Israel? I can’t bear to even think such thoughts. My insides churn in protest. And so I’m not going to act on My anger. I’m not going to destroy Ephraim. And why [not]? Because I am God and not a human. I’m the Holy One and I’m here ~ in your very midst.”  Hosea 11:7-9

King David grieves over the loss of his son:

“The king was stunned. Heartbroken, he went up to the room over the gate and wept. As he wept he cried out, ‘O my son Absalom, my dear, dear son Absalom! Why not me rather than you, my death and not yours? O Absalom, my dear, dear son!'”  2 Samuel 18:33

Jesus grieves over Jerusalem:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let Me.”  Matthew 23:37

Jesus cries to His Father:

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ ~ which means, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  Mark 15:34

The cry of our hearts:

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?”  Psalm 22:1

Dear Heavenly Father,

I get it now. Loss didn’t begin with me on earth. It began with You in heaven. Losing Lucifer and so many of Your angels must have caused You horrible anguish. I picked out just a few scriptures in Your precious word that speak of Your grief and ours, but there are many more. These especially touched a resounding chord in my heart as they have echoed and reechoed down through the ages, cried out by so many of Your children.

I can relate so profoundly to the pain of King David. I wept when I read his words, the ones he cried when he heard of his son’s death. They were the exact words I have said over and over since our son died. It is devastatingly painful to reveal that I also said them to my son before he took his life. So he knew that I would gladly give my life to save his . . . only I could not do it then and I cannot do it now.

Only Jesus can save a life. According to his words above, he agonized over his decision to save us before his crucifixion.They read with such profound pain as if they were literally ripped from his throat. What a struggle! What a gift he gives to us! And because he died ~ and lives, we can live; though we first must die.

I couldn’t save my son, but Your Son Jesus can . . . and did. What a totally selfless act! What an awesome sacrifice for love. Thank You, Father and Son for Your gift of eternal life.

~shared from “Shattered by Suicide”

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Sharing Holley Gerth

Living in Love

Fruit Tart by Holley Gerth

I stand at the kitchen counter with a spoon in my hand. All around me are messes. Surfaces covered with flour. Bowls in various levels of empty and full. Smudges across the counter. But I don’t see them. Instead I envision the fruit tart that’s to come.

And before I know it I’m praying, “Lord, when they eat this let them feel loved.”

I pause. I’ve never prayed that about a dessert before. Huh.

Usually I’m worried about what people will think about what I’ve made. Will they like it? Is it good enough? I compare the work of my hands to other bakers I know and insecurity slips into my saucepan.

But not now. In this moment I’m not thinking about me anymore. I’m thinking about bringing delight to those I love. And it changes everything. This is about more than a fruit tart. Instead it’s a divine invitation that has showed up on the doorstep of my ordinary day. God is asking me, so gently, if I would like to change the way I live.

You see I can tend to live a lot like I cook. I do something and I ask, “Will they like it? Is it good enough?” I let insecurity slip into my heart and steal my joy.

And God is telling me now there’s a better way…what the Apostle called the most excellent way.

Love. Because this life isn’t about impressing each other. It’s not about measuring up. It’s not about dishing out what we have to offer simply so we can hear the compliments.

Oh, we all do that sometimes. But we don’t have to let it stay that way. And when we embrace a different way of living, a different way of serving, we not only bring joy to those around us but also to God’s heart and our own heart as well.

I finish the fruit tarts and set them on a tray. They smile in the color of strawberries back at me. I don’t know what people will say when they eat them. But at least now I know what I want to say with this gift. What I want to say with my life.

I love you.

Three simple words that take a lifetime to learn.

Three simple words that can be said in a million different ways.

Three simple words that change everything.

Especially us.


A bridge to somewhere

God continually surprises me. Why I should be surprised I don’t know. After all, He knows everything and I know so little. Sometimes He builds a bridge when I least expect it. I have been known to make blanket statements like, “he’ll never do that again” . . . and he does, or “that friendship is over” . . . and it isn’t.

Two friends

Two friends (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Perhaps my absolutes are God’s challenges. I viewed a movie that I really liked. It was the kind of movie I wanted to share with friends, girl friends. So I bought the movie so I could enjoy watching again and again. When it came in the mail, I made contact with a friend that I rarely see anymore. Would she be interested in a girl’s night? We’d sip and snack and watch this movie favorite. Had she seen it? No, she hadn’t so we made plans to get together a couple of weeks later.

As the evening approached, another person’s name kept popping into my head. She too, had not been on my radar screen for a while. The three of us had often enjoyed each other’s company, but over time and with life’s changes, we had not kept up our friendship. I ignored the prompting thinking that one on one would be better and I would invite the other friend for a future date. But the prompting continued.  I ignored it. My reasoning was better. More prompting. My invited friend would be here in an hour. Got prompted again. Finally assuming this was God’s doing and He was not going to take “no” for an answer, I made a last minute call to the second friend. She picked up the phone. She sounded tired, but said after taking a pain pill she probably could manage.

Pain pill? What was that all about? Come to find out, she had surgery a few days before. I had failed to notice the information shared on Facebook, so I was caught by surprise. Two of us settled her in a comfy chair with drinks and food and pillows. We chatted like old times and watched the movie which all three of us enjoyed and laughed together in all the same places. It was like there were no gaps of time lost in our friendship.

Since I had already watched the movie, God took the opportunity to help me see what he had just done. He had insisted on me inviting the second friend because he knew that she could use some comic relief at a time when her body was in pain. He had built a bridge to connect old friends. Perhaps it will continue. Perhaps there are people in your life that you may be impressed to reach out to. Listen and respond. Perhaps God wants to build a bridge to somewhere in your life too.

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  John 15:15

Gift of Life – 100 verses

By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Gift

(Photo credit: asenat29)

Grace sets Christianity apart from every other religion in the world. Charis, the Greek word for grace, literally means “free gift.” That’s what God promises, a gift of eternal life with no strings attached, one that you can’t receive any other way than through the unmerited generosity of the Giver. You can’t gain eternal life through good works or lose it through bad. Faith in Jesus is the only channel through which you can receive this priceless gift.

Yet God was extending grace long before Jesus came to earth. It began in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve chose to turn away from God, he allowed them to suffer the consequences of their actions, but the depth of his love for those he had created would not let that be the final word. He extended the free gift of grace by promising to send someone who could redeem, or pay for, what had been done. He fulfilled that promise through Jesus.

Good works are evidence of a growing faith in God, and demonstrate the power of God’s grace to transform a life. Good works bring honor to God, blessings to others, and joy to the one who performs them. But they have no power to open the doors of heaven. Remembering this truth will turn any urge to brag into an occasion for praise.

When comparing Christianity with other religions, focus on God’s grace. Explaining God’s free gift to you will help others understand you don’t put yourself “above” them. Everyone is imperfect and therefore in need of God’s grace.

~100 Favorite Bible Verses

My Son, My Son

I weep for you today, my son. It doesn’t have to be a special day or even a special moment for me to weep ~ I just have to have a fleeting thought about you. But today, we are nearing another anniversary of your death and so my thoughts of you are sad ones. I miss you. We all miss you. Time may heal some wounds, but not these. These wounds we suffer are endless . . . timeless.

Losing a child is horrific; ask any parent. Our lives go on and we may have bits of joy now and then, but you are never far from my thoughts. I can’t help it; I’m a mom and that’s just the way I am wired. God gave me a heart to love compassionately, completely and my heart did not stop loving you after yours stopped beating. I suspect it will remain so until mine stops.

Perhaps through my blurry eyes, I can get a glimpse of my Heavenly Father‘s tears . . . the ones he shed when his Son died on Calvary. His Son sits at his right hand now in heaven. How wonderful for us that this is so! Even though I cry often for you ~ and heaven cries along with me, because Jesus lives, you will too! We can’t wait to see you again. I suspect I will cry then too, but they will be tears of joy!

So rest on, son, rest on. Your friend, Jesus, will call you soon, very soon. Your family will be there to greet you with arms full of hugs and faces full of kisses. You won’t know how much time has passed so we will have to give you an update . . . if you even care. Then it will be home to eternity where we will likely lose all track of time. Hallelujah!

~shared from “Shattered by Suicide” by Gracie Thompson

It’s about His love

The Missal by John William Waterhouse, showing...

The Missal by John William Waterhouse, showing a woman kneeling in prayer (1902, oil on canvas). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I will give to the Lord the thanks due to His rightness and justice, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.  Psalm 7:17

I realize that I don’t thank God enough. I owe everything to Him: myself, my family, everything. Each new day, whatever transpires, I should give thanks.  I should also thank Him for the hard stuff. Hard stuff takes me back to life changing loss. When my son died, I died in every way but physical and, like Elijah of old, I asked God to let me die. I would have gladly traded my life for his, but that didn’t happen. So how could life be of value anymore?

Somewhere around the 2-year mark . . . I have a fuzzy memory about many things in association with the loss of my son. Somewhere about this time, I distinctly heard the thought in my mind, “Why don’t you write to Me about your pain?” I was stunned. What thought was that? I don’t write . . . yes, I do have a computer. But I ignored the thought. Preposterous. What good would journaling do? It wouldn’t bring back my son so why bother?

But I found God to be as persistent as He is gentle. Every soak in a warm bath, that question would “goad” me. He wasn’t pushy, just gently suggesting the idea over and over until I gave in and sat down in front of a blank computer screen. Now what? There were lots of hurts that needed words. Lots of rage and pain that needed purging so that my heart could begin to be reborn. And so began an off-shoot path into publishing, “Shattered by Suicide; My Conversations With God After the Tragic Death of My Son” which became the outcome of this experience with God. And I might add, it was a precious time when I never felt closer to Him. Writing was cathartic. Writing was for my healing, but God hinted that it was also intended to help others heal. It wasn’t just about me.

I have blogged about my writing beginnings before, but what hit me as I woke up this morning is that I don’t give thanks to God as often as I should. No, He did not spare my son. Yes, He knows I have pain as the result, but He has promised to never leave me (Hebrews 13:5). He has also suggested that I try to see the bigger picture ~ the one that says there are so many aching hearts who need to hear my story. I leave the details to Him, but I promised Him that I would share my story with “the world” to help others realize they are not alone. We travel our grief journeys together.

You see, we who have suffered suicide [may] think that we are exempt from healing after loss. Death of a parent or friend we may recover more easily. Death from other causes such as disease, we may recover more easily. Recover from suicide death? Impossible, you say? Yes. I agree. I don’t know if God agrees, but what I feel at this juncture in my journey is that I will carry the memory of my son in my heart until it stops beating. I will ache for him all of my days. But how I suffer and what I suffer may be a choice. You see, if I let God take over the pain, it is a game changer. It is an every-moment decision. I can so easily take back the wheel, essentially saying to God, “I’ll drive now. You can hop in the back until I need you again and then I will holler for you to drive.”

Actually, God is a better driver than I will ever be. God knows my life ~ all of my days are known to Him. I don’t know the next minute. All I know is the past ~ what I can remember. I may be able to line the ducks in a row from my past and make some sense out of it. But when I try to line up the ducks after the death of my child, I still can only speculate. That picture is not clear. Again, only God has the power to know the life of my son. Only He knows the why. I know the when, how and where. But the why . . . Don’t we just hate the “why”? We want to know what God knows. WHY DOESN’T HE SHARE WHAT HE KNOWS AND GIVE US SOME PEACE?

When I scream out these words above, I get no satisfaction. To wallow in this question makes me gulp too much salty sorrow. For me, I can’t stay there and survive. If I choose to “thrive” one day, I just can’t wallow too long. The days and weeks and months becomes years. It’s to the years that I speak, not the freshly wounded. As the years have passed, these thoughts continue to percolate. It is at the 7+ years that these thoughts came to me today to share. So take heart those of you who are “newbies”. Perhaps you can get a glimpse of where your thoughts can be in  the years to come.

Back to the idea of thanking God. Let’s share a few love texts about Him. If the Bible is not your thing, that’s okay. But it is the best source to find out about His love which I believe is reliable and trustworthy. As I read them, my hope is revived. As I ponder them in my heart, I am reminded that even as my days are numbered as was my firstborn child’s, I will see him again. Therein lies my hope and it is “this” hope that I share.

*God loved the world this way: he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. John 3:16, version

*The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.   Jeremiah 31:3

*God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  Romans 5:5

*We love him, because he first loved us.  1 John 4:19

You can add to this list. There are so many good ones.

Wake up, sleepy head!

I’ve been bugging myself to get to the cemetery, turn the flower vase right side up and start a season of bouquets. What’s the rush? It’s not like there is a deadline. But I guess my soul was longing to stop by. So I hopped in the car and drove a couple miles before slowing my speed, then a touch to the break and make the familiar turn into a place we have come to know. I felt that sinking feeling in my gut. Know that one? Not choking-back-the-tears thing or feelings of nausea like in the first of many visits. But a desire to run in and take him with me remains.

 

Winter is a long run and I haven’t been here recently. Aim for the property line shrubbery, and the telephone pole and straight back. Yep, there he is. Seeing his name on bronze still chokes me. “Get up, son!” But I have no power. I can yell and scream and beat on the ground. I am powerless to wake him up. He is in a deep sleep.

Sleeping Boy

Sleeping Boy (Photo credit: LizaWasHere)

 

My mind drifts back to another time . . .  “Get up, son.” I nudge him gently and speak softly close to his ear. His sleepy fragrance is sweet. He is deep in dreamland. But I can’t let him sleep any longer. I nudge him a little harder, “Wake up, son! It’s your first day of school. You don’t want to be late. Come on, wake up. Your breakfast is ready. Smell the toast?” His eyelids flutter. I love his long lashes. He grabs the covers as he flips over, trying to drown out his mother’s pleas in favor of just a few more winks. But mother is equally up to the challenge. Okay. Off with the covers. Let some cool air in. Now he stirs, blinks, rubs his eyes and stretches with a yowling yawn. He’s awake . . . barely, but enough to remember. Today is the first day of school! Gotta get going!

 

My imagine can play countless events and scenarios with my children. I love letting my mind take me back to happier times. It didn’t start for a long time. I can’t even remember when some sweet memories entered into my mind where the plate was heaped high with bitter ones. But they did come . . . gradually. Now they sit front and center and I enjoy their recollection. Yes, there is a bitter taste that comes after, but I must let the good outrun the bad.

 

Wake up from your sleep, climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light!  Ephesians 5:14

 

Go Tell

I have been slowly blogging through my book, Shattered by Suicide: My Conversations With God After The Tragic Death Of My Son. Original material has also been included along with special writings of others on occasion, but I know this book has blessed others on their grief journey because they have told me. God’s Spirit rules the Universe and He puts things in our path that He knows will encourage us in our grief. I am sure there are many books out there that encourage and this is simply one of them in my humble opinion. No one need read further if you have not yet fallen in love with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Each page in my book has His thoughts in it. I am just His scribe. Read on if you are interested. I love you all.

Oh, thank God ~ He’s so good! His love never runs out. All of you set free by God, tell the world!  Psalm 107:1-2

My Dear Daughter,

Thank you for allowing Me to accompany you on this

leg of your journey through grief.

How disappointed I would have been had you not invited Me!

Now go tell what you have learned; share your story with

hurting families everywhere.

Tell them of My great compassion, comfort, and undying love.

Tell them My arms are long enough to encircle all of them.

Tell them My heart weeps along with theirs . . .

Tell them how you are finding what you were searching for . . . in Me.

Remember, the more you share your story,

the more you, yourself, will be comforted . . . it’s a win/win.

So take Me with you wherever you go.

Go tell the rest of My hurting children that I am coming soon

and only through Me, can their hearts be truly set free to enjoy eternity.

We are almost home for good.

Love,

~God

~Gracie Thompson

Hair

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  ~Reinhold Niebuhr

You would probably not want my hair. It too easily takes on a life of its own and I have spent most of my life trying to make it into something it is not. My hair has curl. I want straight. My hair is fine and thin. I want thick. I am naturally drab brown. I want to be naturally blond with all the beauty and highlights in a child’s hair. Dream on, old girl.

"Cheeeeeeese"

“Cheeeeeeese” (Photo credit: Ani-Bee)

Poor beauticians.  They’ve tried everything in their experience to shape my hair into a current or even old style to no avail. Some have left me with a bubble head ~ some of you may remember when that style was popular. Some have tried, with my coaxing, to get it to grow out long enough to straighten, to no avail. One guy (had the nerve) to loudly proclaim that my head was covered with annoying “cow licks” and he had no idea how to cut it. Needless to say, I have been there twice ~ first and last.

When I was little my mother would curl my damp hair around her finger and my head would be covered in long curls, much to my sister’s annoyance. She was stuck with rag curls (sorry if you are too young to know what those were) and she hated them. I guess if pulled too tightly they hurt. My hair has returned to naturally curly. Call it hormones? Call it returning to childhood? I could hate it still or learn to accept it. Since I am learning to accept many things in my life, perhaps hair can be scratched off that list. Besides, I love my dad and I got my natural bent from him. He had a beautiful wave right above his widow’s peak hairline. So I choose to accept my curls. After all, no perms are necessary. I get it for free.

Our personalities are as different as our hair is in styles, textures and shades. Our lives are stacks of building blocks that we have added and tossed throughout our lives which has shaped us into what we are today. Not perfect, but growing. Not stationary, but moving. ~ evolving if you prefer. This process is not bad, in fact it is spiritual and I choose to learn and grow into the child God has called me to be. He’s patient with me, so I guess that means I should be patient with me . . . and you too. And learn to accept the things I cannot change.

 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  Luke 12:7

Seek After Me

Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek (Photo credit: shannonpatrick17)

~Sharing a devotional by Sheri Rose Shepherd

I will wait for you as long as it takes. There is nothing that pleases Me more than when you, My princess, seek after Me. Like a lonely traveler seeking shelter from a storm, come to Me. 

Take comfort under My roof. 

Find security within My walls.

Let Me be your hiding place.

That is what I created you for.

You were never meant to wander the cold, lonely streets of life alone. So seek Me in the morning, and seek Me throughout the day and into the evening. Pursue Me with all your heart. When you do, you will find more than shelter. You will find a place to lay down your burdens and rest. You will also discover that I have been pursuing you all along.

Love,
Your King and your Shelter