Archive | September 2014

IV Therapy

He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.  Job 8:21, NLT

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Laughter may be the last thing you are interested in right now and I understand. At least it was true for me the first months after my son passed away when grief was so raw. And the day I first laughed it shocked me. It sounded so foreign as if I had never done it before and yet I had missed it. I don’t share this to hurt myself or you but rather to embrace what is so difficult in the midst of grief. It takes a long time ~ no deadlines ~ to begin to accept that laughter is a healing balm and it’s okay to let it out. Our loved ones would want us to embrace tears of joy even if they follow on the heels of sadness. Does that make sense?

As the years have rolled on I have often longed to be refreshed by something funny. I have written about my cat, Pipy, who has always provided comic relief and I am grateful for his antics. So this piece is intended to encourage readers to enjoy a good belly laugh and give you permission to not feel guilty about it. You have not “moved on” and left your loved one behind. We will always carry their memories in our hearts and we honor them when we can recall precious memories. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, but when you are ready you will embrace joy again.

Technically I was not ready to hear funny stories known only to his workmates, but they were ready to share. It was unlikely that our paths would cross again and in spite of the pain, my soul hungered for anything that would make him real at such a time of mourning. These people, who traveled to attend the funeral, missed my son too. They couldn’t stay away and yet they felt they were intruding somehow. We tried to put them at ease by inviting them to join us for the meal after the service.

My firstborn son worked in a hospital where he repaired all kinds of equipment needed in the care of children. I was proud of his work; I know he did his best, but I never saw him in his work environment. I never met his workmates until they came to the funeral to support us. They were timid at first, not wanting to intrude on our sorrow, but somehow over lunch they began to open up and share their love for my son. I was all ears. It was in this setting, sitting around the room with plates of food on our laps that we ate and got acquainted. As they settled more easily into their chairs they began to share stories and I was eager to hear them. My son was quite the prankster and of course I knew that. Of the many stories they recalled, there was one that I remember well and I share it here in hopes that if not today, one day you too, will begin to remember the joyous sounds of your children loving life.

It seems there was this incident ~ and they all willingly put the blame squarely on my son as the culprit. The staff worked in close proximity where they charted progress notes, made phone calls and did other office business. This particular day everyone seemed to have business to attend to elsewhere leaving one unsuspecting teammate working at his desk all by himself. Later he said that fact alone should have tipped him off, but he was intent on his task at hand.

And then he felt a drop on his head. That made him look up at the ceiling tiles where the drip had obviously come from, but nothing looked amiss so he resumed his work. Then another drop. Again he looked up at the ceiling. No cause in sight. He resumed working . . . then another drop. Okay. Now he was suspicious. He added up the math and smelled a rat. First, his teammates were conveniently elsewhere (actually watching nearby) and second, either there was a leak right above his head or . . .

He push back his chair, climbed up on his desk where he could easily reach the ceiling tiles, and pushed one aside. Yep. Some prankster had hooked up an IV pump timed precisely ~  sending a drip to drop on his head. Brilliant.

This story made us laugh to tears . . . good, refreshing tears. They laughed too, just to recall how fun our son was to work with and relieved that we enjoyed the story. They would miss him. We miss him.

When we meet Jesus in the air we will be all brand new and yet recognizable with the same characteristics of our original design. I am certain that my son will still have his chuckle. I am sure he and his brother will be up to their pranks again and this time all over the cosmos. I dare to think trouble will follow these two. Good trouble; the kind that brings a smile to our faces and doubles us over with laughter. Can’t wait.

For what is mortal must be changed into what is immortal; what will die must be changed into what cannot die.  1 Corinthians 15:43, GNT

 

 

This entry was posted on September 28, 2014. 4 Comments

Where was God?

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God’s eyes are always on his kids

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

I’m going to toss a direct question out there for those of you who are outliving a child. Perhaps you have asked the question either silently or openly: Where was God when my loved one died?

Someone whispered in my ear at the time of my son’s death that God was with him when he drew his last breath. My first thought was ~ then he could have prevented it rather than allow it. You may have had similar thoughts. But there are always life lessons we may glean from scripture and perhaps we can gain understanding to apply to this very important question.

The story of the crucifixion of Jesus always saddens and yet fascinates me. Where was God the Father while God the Son, Jesus, was on the cross? Did He go fishing? Was He on a Cosmos Tour? Or was He present? Let’s glean some thoughts from scripture to capture what might have been and then see if perhaps there is a parallel application for our understanding.

If you are a believer and are familiar with the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, then you have probably read the story in the Gospels as relayed by some of his disciples. Luke describes events that transpired after Jesus died this way: Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. Luke 23:44-45

Matthew adds a bit more detail: Jesus again gave a loud cry and breathed His last. Then the curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split apart.  Matthew 27:50-51

Around the time of Jesus’ death, the veil was torn in half. To rip the veil (which was about 40 cubits or 60 ft high) in the temple in half, someone needed to be there to tear it. And to tear it from top to bottom, one would have to be a very tall person. Also, there was darkness on the earth as the sun had disappeared. There was darkness at the events at Mount Sinai too, when God came near the people: Exodus 20:21 says, So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was. So God hid Himself in darkness at Mount Sinai. Did God hide himself in the darkness at the cross too? Did God himself tear the veil?

Note there were also earthquakes in connection with God’s presence:  The mountains quake before Him, the hills melt, and the earth heaves at His presence, yes, the world and all who dwell in it.  Nahum 1:5

But this still does not tell us for sure where God was when his Son died or does it? What about the story in the Old Testament when Abraham was instructed to sacrifice his son? Where was God then? Could it be a parallel to the crucifixion? Let’s review the high points of this story.

It had been a long day and Abraham was bone tired and sound asleep when his head touched the pillow, but suddenly he was wide awake. Was that God? Did I hear a command or was I dreaming? O, please, may I be dreaming! Abraham pinched himself. Ouch! That hurt! No, he was not asleep and that was a directive from a voice he had grown to know:

God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”  Genesis 22:2

Not my boy, God, not my boy! I am sure Abraham pleaded and argued in a one-sided conversation, but God spoke no more on the subject. Abraham had always obeyed God even when the request made no sense, but those was nothing compared to what God was telling him to do now. This was the ultimate test. Would he fail? Was it strange that God also pointed out the obvious ~ take your only son, whom you love?

It must have been the longest three days in history as father and son made their way to the place where God had instructed. I am sure there was conversation, perhaps even lighthearted boy talk on the part of Isaac. He had often taken part in sacrifices with his dad. It was a huge part of their way of life so this trip was not unusual . . . yet.

Finally the hard question that Abraham knew was coming: Dad, “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Genesis 22:7

Scripture simply says that the father bound his son and laid him on the altar, but what a loaded sentence! Can you picture the scene? I’ve never been asked to point a gun toward my child and pull the trigger . . . but essentially this is what God asked Abraham to do. There would be fire and there would be death.

God was watching this drama unfold . . . no doubt about that. This was the severest test of Abraham’s life, the only one of its kind in Scripture and the relationship between God and Abraham hung in the balance ~ pass or fail. Give up your only son that you love and prayed for and thought he would never be born. You must kill him to serve Me. How crazy does this sound!

The Bible says that Abraham raised the knife high in the air with Isaac watching his father’s face in horror or did he have his eyes squeezed tightly shut anticipating the pain? I can’t imagine more . . . perhaps you can, but the picture in my mind is clear. The scene was horrific to be sure.

 At that moment the Angel of God shouted to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Yes, Lord!” he answered.

And He said, Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear and revere God, since you have not held back from Me or begrudged giving Me your son, your only son.  Geneses 22:11-12

Can we combine these two stories from both Old and New Testament and apply them to our question for a possible view of God’s relationship to His children? I think we can. A parallel story to the crucifixion is the story of Abraham ordered to sacrifice Isaac. Father Abraham was with his son the whole time, even up to the point where Isaac was about to die. Likewise, isn’t it possible that the God was with his Son during his agony and death? There is an obvious difference in that once Abraham passed the test, God supplied the sacrifice, but there was no substitute sacrifice at the cross. Father was forced to watch the agony and death of his only Son, for it took Jesus’s blood to wash away our sins. What a heart-wrenching scene for God the Father to watch!

So how does this help me in my struggle? Here’s a possible angle:  God loves each one of his kids. He hates the sin and cruelty we endure, but he gives us total freedom to choose. The enemy pushes and prods and goads us to sin. The more kids he kills, the more he hurts God’s heart. This planet is a war zone with spiritual consequences. Do you agree? There are bound to be casualties because we live with death and destruction all around us. But it is so entirely different and much worse when it happens too close to home, to our family.

God says all things will be made plain one day. It’s hard to wait. But when we are finally able to hug the ones we have loved and longed to see for so long ~ with all of us brand new ~ some questions may slip from mind.

God says he never changes. He’s always been loving and kind and good and has our best interest at heart. Just as he was with Abraham through the extreme test for his obedience, I have no doubt that God, the Father was by his only Son’s side as he suffered and died. You couldn’t part them, not even in the struggle to save humanity.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!  Psalm 36:7, NIV

This entry was posted on September 13, 2014. 10 Comments

Up close and personal

My Love

Pipy look alike. I cannot claim the same. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yep. That’s Pipy. I see you sitting there on the floor beside my chair, big guy. You’re going to jump up here any second now. . . and oomph, there he is, right in my face. He does the head bump to my nose, sniffs to see if I’ve had anything interesting to eat lately that he missed out on, and tickles me with his whiskers as he settles down close enough to reach his paws up to knead my neck. Every ritual up to this point is tolerated because I love him, but we both know that kneading my neck is off limits, although he patiently and persistently tries.

Another anniversary is on the horizon now and I can see the “snow-capped peak” of pain rising up like a mountain in the distance. Pipy is a reminder. You see, he was but a pipsqueak a few years ago. Tiny, frail and probably 1 or 2 meals shy of death when he popped out of a soybean field as we strolled by one day. He’s far from skinny now and many meals could be skipped, just like his mama, but looking into his big, almond-shaped soulful eyes reminds me that I had asked my firstborn son, who was visiting us one summer weekend, if he’d like to take him home, but he said, “No”. Probably because of his allergies or maybe already he was thinking . . . planning. . . and he didn’t want the responsibility. Within days he died by suicide.

Flashbacks. Triggers. We all have them. Some may be mildly sensitive, but most are sharp as a tack, especially for me as the months tick off and another anniversary looms up ahead. My heart beats faster, my palms sweat. It’s anxiety, Lord. Do you feel it too? I am relieved when the month of memories passes, but up until then . . . it’s as if there is a distant rumble of thunder, a sense of foreboding as boiling, frothing, raging waves roll towards me threatening to capsize me, sending me into a tailspin as I struggle to give birth to new words, in an attempt to soothe away the pain. Haven’t I done that over and over already? But there is more . . . always more.

I am reminded that Someone else desires to be up close and personal. It’s Jesus Christ, my Savior and Friend. I like the way He talks about the importance of friendship with His disciples in John 15 and shares it with us.

“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.”

“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.”  John 15:9-15

I desire Jesus to be my Best Friend. I desire to love others the way he loves you and me. We humans are often a challenge to love and I am far from his example. I have often thanked Jesus for sending Pipy at just the right time. He allows us to love him and he loves us right back. When he wants to be right in my face I try to understand that he is communicating with me in his love language. And I know that many of you have pets who show you extra love when you need it most. I would love to read your stories.

Thank You, Jesus, for  your loving friendship. Thank you for sending Pipy to give us comic relief and love. Thank you for being both loving and persistent in wooing us into a heart-to-heart relationship with you.