Archive | June 2015

Life is fragile

~ “Life is fragile, handle with prayer.” Harold B. Lee ~

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We can’t stay in worry mode all the time . . . wondering what calamity may be lurking around the bend. Life is to be embraced to the fullest, but it is fragile . . . and I had no idea how much.

We were excited. It was to be the first family gathering of its kind. Immediate family members would be traveling miles and miles from all directions to finally be together. My sons and I would finally meet my step-son’s wife. Many years before, when my boys were young, I met my step-son and my sons met their step-brother. And now, years later, we would all be together at the same time. How grand! I don’t remember which came first: the planned visit or realizing all the celebration dates falling within the vacation time. How wonderful that we would be able to celebrate birthdays, a graduation and an anniversary, my husband’s and mine.

My husband and I got there first. The boys arrived in the wee hours the following morning. They came in clamoring for breakfast, and it wasn’t long before all the youngins were joking and exchanging barbs as if they had known each other their entire lives.

I was loving every second of it. Seeing them all together, enjoying each other though strangers, put me at ease and warmed my heart. I smiled until my cheeks ached. We laughed. We played. We toured the sights. We feasted. We took advantage of the time we had together, to make good memories to cherish for years to come.

“Let’s make this an annual event,” we promised each other, vowing to not wait this long ever again. But unbeknownst to us, it was to be our first and last family gathering. In just weeks, we would gather again, but this time for the funeral of our firstborn. Never again . . . on this earth . . . would we all be together.

We just never know . . .

I wonder, am I the only one? Do other readers of my blog have similar stories? Consider sharing your story for the benefit of us all. It doesn’t hurt to be reminded how fragile life is. We know to take it slowly, which is the only speed most of us grievers can manage. We are known to say frequently on social media,”Take one step, one breath at a time.” It is a gentle reminder, particularly to new grievers, to focus on simple tasks and let the rest go for now. Perhaps it’s another way of suggesting, “Life is fragile; handle with prayer.”

Recalling my bittersweet story, I can’t help but look longingly toward heaven for hope. I know this earth is rapidly breaking down. We hear of wars and climate change and mass shootings and natural disasters everywhere. You may disagree, but when I hear about the awful things taking place around the world, I am reminded of the Scripture that says:

“You are going to hear the noise of battles close by and the news of battles far away; but do not be troubled. Such things must happen, but they do not mean that the end has come. Countries will fight each other; kingdoms will attack one another. There will be famines and earthquakes everywhere.” Matthew 24:6-7 GNT

That reads like yesterday’s news, doesn’t it? Prophecy predicted this a long time ago and yet, it has a familiar ring to it. It’s sobering. I can’t ignore it. The death of my son by suicide reminds me every day that this world, in its current state, cannot last. It appears to be rapidly “fraying at the seams.”

While we remain here on earth, there will always be sad stories to share. But I also want to share the hope and joy we can have . . . even in the midst of our pain. My joy comes in knowing that I trust God. He is the only One with power to save us from destruction. It’s His mercy that nurses our fractured earth along, not wanting anyone to miss out on the good stuff to come.

There will be an end to earth as we know it (2 Peter 3:10). But first Jesus will return! He’s coming to awaken those who have been resting in peace (RIP). All the living and our precious loved ones we have missed for so long will at last be together forever.

“Why wait?” I often ask Jesus. “Why not come today?” But He is merciful. He is waiting for everyone to choose his master. We have two choices: God or Satan. Good vs evil. It’s sobering to realize that there is not a third choice: me. We either choose God or choose Satan. If we don’t choose either, we get Satan by default. We have enough evidence to make the right choice, don’t we? Let’s choose wisely. Eternity hangs in the balance.

Listen! I stand at the door and knock; if any hear my voice and open the door, I will come into their house and eat with them, and they will eat with me.  To those who win the victory I will give the right to sit beside me on my throne, just as I have been victorious and now sit by my Father on his throne. Revelation 3:20-21 GNT

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Splashes of joy

“The love of God toward you is like the Amazon River flowing down to water a single daisy.” ~ F.B. Meyer

Puddles are magnets

Puddles are magnets to little feet

He hushes the storm to a calm and gentle whisper. Psalm 107:29 AMP

Who didn’t love splashing in after-shower puddles back when you didn’t have a care in the world? Remember doing this when you were a kid? First the dark clouds gathered, then the rumble of distant thunder grew louder and louder as the storm drew closer. Then the scary, ear-splitting clap of thunder as the clouds released their load. Sometimes the pouring rain had barely reduced to a shower before the sun came out, as if it couldn’t wait to shine once again.

As a child I could hardly wait until it was safe to get outside after the rain and stomp in the puddles. Never mind boots. Who has time for those? And splashing barefooted was the best. What joy!

As adults we are more serious, and laden down with responsibilities. Then a monster storm of tragedy strikes and turns our world upside down. It shatters us, leaving us numb and mute for a time. And even after years on our grief journeys, we can still feel the effects of that horrific storm. We shudder to think there could be more storms in our future. Where do we find shelter?

My grief journey has been stormy. There has always been a rumble of distant thunder when another anniversary date rolls around. I feel like taking cover under a layer of blankets that day and staying huddled in the safety of my bed until the day is over, but I don’t do that.

Instead of huddling under blankets, I am learning to ask God to carry the load of grief while I walk beside Him. With my little hand in His big one He holds the umbrella over us both. Sometimes He carries me when I feel too weak to walk on my own. Together we weather the storms.

I have a friend who is a mom, like many of us, on this life-long grief journey. Her story includes the loss of two sons. She lost one in an accident and the other to suicide. I cannot fathom her pain. I’ve lost one child to suicide and that is enough, but she is outliving two. And she is not alone. There are others out there, perhaps even readers of this blog, who have lost more than one child, or who have lost their only child. My heart goes out to my friend and to all of you. I am so sorry for your unspeakable loss and pain. We have a time of it, don’t we? Is it possible to feel joy again? Can we be encouraged in spite of the storms?

I would like to include some words from my friend, who has given me permission to share. Our stories are all different and uniquely our own, but in sharing, we learn and grow in our understanding of this giant storm of pain that envelopes us. Here are the words from my friend:

“How does one find joy again? To fully understand, you would have to live inside my skin and walk my path, but I would not wish for anyone to experience the losses I have had in my life. I still walk with a heavy heart, and I don’t expect it will ever change while living on this earth.

“Do you feel like your sorrow is taking over your life? Keep hoping, keep dreaming, keep praying, and God will see you through. Just be patient. He will bring back your joy. How do I know this to be true? He has done it for me, in spite of the loss of two of my precious children. If I focus on Him, instead of myself and all the pain I carry, He enables me to live beyond the pain.

“Trust me when I say ~ living after losing not one, but two children, is impossible without God. I miss my children every day, but God walks with me through the storms, and even carries me when I am weak and the pain is too great.

“One can experience the blessings of following God without tragedy, but to rely on God alone, after tragedy strikes, is a life-changing experience. It’s not an easy road. There were times when I just wanted to fall by the wayside or jump off a cliff and end the pain. But instead, God slowly revealed Himself to me. He came along side me and we are walking together as He heals me day by day.”

Dear reader, are you encouraged to believe that joy is possible in spite of your sorrow? It’s unlikely that joy will come in river-sized portions, but more likely in small quantities, like splashes. Unexpected, cooling splashes. And for a few moments, we are refreshed. And for a few moments, we experience joy.

“In the shadow of your wings, [O God], I find protection until the raging storms are over.” Ps. 57:1 GNT

“Yes, it is God who raises the humble and gives joy to all who mourn.” Job 5:11 GNT

 

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on June 12, 2015. 4 Comments

He’s our calm

Calm, Roy Lessin, Photo by Marina Bromley

Dear Readers,

I am sharing a devotional by Roy Lessin because it touches me deeply. Perhaps it will leave its mark on you, too. I apply most everything I read to my personal circumstances. Even though Lessin’s message may not be written about survival after loss, I believe there is healing in the words he shares. How often we liken our loss to being in a storm, frightened out of our wits, and needing guidance. Read about the storms and the only One who can calm them.

I recently read this…
Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths; the sailors cringed in terror. They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits’ end. “LORD, help!” they cried in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as He brought them safely into harbor! Psalm 107:26-30 (NLT)

Which led me to read this…

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.
Mark 4:37-39 (NKJV)

Which led me to this…

Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, but when they saw Him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking He was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw Him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” He said. “Take courage! I am here!” Then He climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, Mark 6:47-51 (NLT)

Which brought me to this…

How are we doing in our little boat of life—as we sail upon the sea of culture’s changing tide, upon the strong winds of adversity that batter against our sides, upon the coming and going of people’s views and opinions that seek to redirect our course, upon the highs and lows of the world’s pressures and demands that put stress upon our sails, upon the churning waters of rebellion and discontentment that seek to overturn us, upon the undercurrents of opposition and persecution that want to push us back, upon the riptides of the devil’s schemes that want to keep us from advancing, and upon the choppy onslaughts of misunderstanding, misrepresentation and false accusation that want to sink us before arriving on the other shore?

Let’s pray for one another and encourage one another to stay in the boat…and always remember that it is not our boat . . . it belongs to our Captain. His hands are on the wheel, He has set the course, He has trimmed the sail and knows how to use the winds for good. His compass is true, His bearings are right. The boat won’t sink! He will never abandon His post, and He will safely bring us to the other shore.

Do you find yourself battling against a storm of emotions or opposition that is beating against your soul? Ask your Captain, Jesus, to speak to the storm…He still has the power to quiet the winds and calm the storm.

~Roy Lessin

Photo by Marina Bromley