A place of HOPE...where we can share our Christian beliefs freely... and encourage one another...as we await REUNION with our beloved children.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
How often we say those words…Tonight I was thinking about how Mary, Mother of Jesus, is coincidentally named along with her baby Jesus, with this famous greeting…
How fitting, (at least in the English speaking world), that the one who bore Christ Our Savior, has her name spoken, also! Mary Christmas! and to all a good night…
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
What Is Fed, DOES Grow...
What differences do I see having been on "the journey" for a long time, compared to early days? In all honesty, sometimes I feel, "What's the use?" when writing about how it will "get better"... Because I never would have believed it, had someone told me the very same thing! I am the ultimate stubborn person when it comes to what I believe and what I do not believe. And moving forward after bereavement, even if many years after, was NOT something I could ever believe would really happen to me. But it did happen! And yes, I was bereaved early (aged 28)... but everyone's on their own timetable-- and maybe you will be one to speed race toward healing! It IS possible!
Although a Christian, during that early period of mourning, I was Christian in name only. I BELIEVED what my Faith taught me...I just didn't FEEL it until much later. That depth of feeling my deep faith convictions, is definitely a huge difference for me.
I felt adrift during that early time, drowning in sorrow (you all know the feeling)... I was nearly down for the count-- after refusing to forgive myself-- for failing to be a 100% perfect Mom. I realized I had to stop being so stubborn and forgive myself… because GOD had already forgiven me! Who was I to contradict what God had said was forgiven! Didn't I already forgive the man who had taken my family out with one careless non-stopping at that highway intersection? Why could or should I not forgive myself for not being 100 percent perfect as a Mom? Allowing myself to be forgiven BY ME!…was a MAJOR turning point in my emotional recovery after bereavement.
The woulda coulda shoulda's are MUCH easier to bear, when looking at them in the light that "Hey, I am NOT 100% perfect! Not even all the angels in Heaven could stop themselves from falling!"
After awhile, the "triggers" decreased in their ability to bring me to my knees. And in later years, I realized I was facing a choice, when confronted by triggers and their lack of causing me severe pain. It was now NOT a knee-jerk reaction!
The first few times typical triggers didn't "fire"--I felt some surprise…and then that familiar "guilt"… I figured I was either becoming much more desensitized …or healing! But it was a definite CHOICE…not to go back to the familiar suffering when that "crossroad" materialized, along my journey. I realized that my lack of severe pain... had nothing to do with my love for them.
Initially, it is NOT an easy choice to make...to essentially focus on gratitude for what I HAD (and then later would cement in my mind what I HAVE) rather than (the very valid, yes)-- old and familiar-- severe suffering.
Society has strict rules and regulations about just how far bereaved Mothers can progress in their recovery!I have had to tell many people that it was alright to continue talking to me about my loss. That I won't fall apart. That now, I have gratitude for having the privilege of co-shepherding my little lambs. And that I am CONFIDENT that we will be together for eternity!
Another huge difference between then and now…is in intensity. Like with a beloved "First Love"... with my "First Loss", there was an incredible focus only on my children. EVERYTHING pointed, related, affected/didn't affect me ...only in regard to my children. My entire world--24-7--revolved around my loss of them; every thought, word and deed, was seen in the light of how it related to my children.
BUT now in later years, it's similar to a love that's borne the test of time…We are gentle with one another. We have an "understanding" that we didn't have before, between us. They KNOW without me having to tell them. We are in sync with one another now. I have confidence that they will always love me and never leave me. The "little" things, don't bug me at all anymore. I often wonder how I could have reacted so strongly! I don't sweat the small stuff in regard to them. Just as I know them much better-- with an increased, mature perspective and understanding-- I believe they similarly know me! The questions of early love/loss are gone. We have grown and matured in our love for one another.
The emotional intensity and "theatrics" of early loss may have greatly diminished... but the LOVE is even greater than before! They love me more, too! They are surrounded 24-7 with the Creator of Love Himself. Who then could be a greater teacher, about Love and forgiveness?!
Even though you may not believe a word that I have written-- newly bereaved Moms especially-- please try not to give up HOPE that you will regain a sense of balance again! That your life can be full of joy again. That the numbness to all but pain, won't last forever! Things fed will grow…SO…PLEASE do not feed the enemy of your soul that wishes to destroy all your hope.
I believe we must at least be "open", to the possibility that life CAN be good again. Because that early focus on our child's physical death, and the long time it takes to just acknowledge the truth of that…is NOT where it ends! THEY ARE ALIVE! They are MORE than alive…They are vibrantly living--RESTORED--in a place that God Himself calls Home…A place definitely worth waiting to enter into, for our own, joyous Homecoming Reunion!
Thursday, November 28, 2013
For bereaved Moms, a hearty "Happy Thanksgiving!" greeting, can cause a near meltdown--especially for the newly bereaved.
Thanks for "WHAT?" we scream inside…Christian or non-Christian alike…"Thanks be to God" is nearly impossible to voice…when our beloved children have died before us and we feel totally EMPTY. How do you give "thanks"--when you are feeling as though you possess NOTHING…?
Flash forward to nearly 30 years since initially bereaved of my children, Michael and Lisa. I can and do "Give thanks to God"--because I can now see the greater picture. I couldn't escape the pain, early on-- and my sight was limited to what was immediately in front of my face…seemingly nothing. I couldn't see THEM physically alive, and so they were just "gone"…
But now I do "see" them…aside from signs and visits...I "see" them with me in the future…at our reunion in Heaven. I practice "patient endurance" until then. If I look at the big picture…ETERNITY shared with them…I can stay in the game, until the final blast of the horn. The "game", is the competition between holding fast to the promises of God…or succumbing to the secular "They are gone forever" with no joyful reunion to anticipate.
Being a Christian includes the TRUST that God truly has the power to resurrect our children. That even though their bodies are deceased…those bodies were merely "shells" encasing their beautiful souls, which have gone to their true Father…a generous giver Who gives our children splendid RENEWED bodies... clothed in Light, Love and Forever Joyfulness…
We have much to be thankful for…God promises us reunion…One day surely coming, we WILL be able to embrace once again, the gifts our Eternal Giver has lavished upon us…
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013
My little boy Michael, all of two years old, was quite a leader for me, in hindsight. It was he that literally pointed the way one day, walking back from the local grocery store.
He got so excited…lifting his little arm as high as he could to point across the street. "Jesus!" he spoke. And again, "Jesus!" I followed the direction he was pointing to…it was a cross! The local Methodist Church was capped by a large cross, and that's what got little Michael all excited!
It was mystifying to me…how did a little tyke as young as Michael, associate that cross with Jesus?
It was very curious…
Coupled with the fact that a few days before, on Sunday while at church, he had everyone around us cracking up. Our Hawaiian priest did the usual Catholic processing down the center aisle-- passing right next to Michael, sitting at the end of the pew. Immediately Michael yelled out excitedly (and quite loudly) "Jesus!" And did that same pointing thing again. "Jesus!" Michael turned to me, almost unable to contain his delight…while all the parishioners around us tried to stifle their chuckles…
I add those two "events"-- with the constant repetition of Michael telling me "Going Home to be with Jesus!"-- which he started telling me about two weeks before the wreck happened. Oddly, Michael only said it inside the vehicle that was wrecked. And only when we were traveling on a highway, which was often, as we lived in semi-rural Wyoming. Tim, driving one day, even joked with me about how that must have meant "Death and Destruction...Ha!" And unfortunately, he was deathly right, as that was exactly what happened during that last trip to my in-laws, to celebrate Christmas...
Not only does God prepare adults before they transition, apparently young babies and children are prepared also... Many a time I felt like an intruder when entering Michael and Lisa's nap room-- after hearing them "talking" animatedly-- although it all seemed like gibberish to my ears! Kidding them about "Talking to your Guardian Angels again?!"…I now believe I wasn't far off the mark at all on that!
What a kind God we have, to come to little children and help them prepare for their sudden transitioning. How much less frightening it would be... to have someone you were already familiar with, greeting you upon arrival! Babies and little children generally have nobody that has predeceased them-- to recall and recognize when they transition.
My leader Michael's last gift to me, was his smiling at me while trying to keep his eyes open... being unable to do so because it was past nap time. Lisa was unusually quiet, having already fallen asleep. They would wake from their sleep, this time in Paradise. Ready to join the already familiar faces-- of Jesus and their Guardian Angels--their true Best Friends Forever...God is Good.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
There's no way anybody's going to heal from something they don't admit to having. Some things, we just don't want to face the reality that "it" is so. Whether that be a marriage that's no longer working, the need to live within limited means...or of course the end all be all...admitting our child is physically deceased.
I think as bereaved Moms, we try everything in our power to stave off admitting the final "reality"--our deceased child --(physically only-yet it seems 100% "in entirety" early on). We try to "find" them everywhere...often thinking we've succeeded...only to "remember"...and lapse into a kind of scattered state of mind. Our subconscious is working overtime to try to figure out how this could possibly be, since there's no way our children are really gone...All this just tires us out enormously...
How does one believe "the impossible" has happened? Slowly... and realizing that it is "a process"-- rather than a one time event. Just like forgiveness is also a process and not a one time event. They go hand in hand, I've found. I wasn't able to do one without the other...I found that Jesus often helped to soften the rock hard refusal I had, to admit to anything but not being a "good enough" mother or wife. Here and there, bits and pieces of "helping me" gifts of grace from others. And some confusing new battles from those I had previously trusted--boulders to go around...
I got along fairly well early on, with my subconscious fantasy that my children were still physically alive on this planet. There was a part of me that would not--no--could not, admit the harshest reality there can be. And not ever seeing them actually in their deceased state-- still recovering in the hospital and not able to attend the funeral--I think it was even harder to fully sink in.
They were just "away" for an indeterminate time.
I remember studying the news clippings, the funeral pamphlet, my husband's reunion booklet that listed him "In Memoriam" on the back page...all with some confusion and seeming unbelief...
I got busy, I kept myself as active as I could, believing that activity prevented excessive thinking. And thinking too much about my loss was never a good thing, always ending in tears and sadness. Truth that is seen one dimensionally-the only way I could see at that time--can often be a very bitter, painful and lonely, way to live.
I could only stave off the inevitable, for a certain period of time. When that time came for me to "hit rock(y) bottom" during my journey of sorrow --it was the height of my depth of grief. I couldn't go any lower...I was brought to the ground in the most profoundness of sorrow...finally "admitting" to myself it was true. They really were (physically) dead. All the "woulda, coulda, shoulda's hit full force at that point in time...
It was my belief in forgiveness, that God earnestly desires to offer us, that made me realize "Who am I to have the audacity to deny myself forgiveness?"...and started to truly heal from that point on. If Jesus would forgive me, how dare I not forgive myself! Who did I think I was?!
And now, after a long time on the journey, I realize that thinking of them as being on a trip "away"--for an undetermined time--isn't that far off the mark "of reality"...in fact, now I truly believe it IS reality...
My journey has evolved from dire loss, to my children's gain, to my gain of new compassions, to desiring to help others from fearing the looming future of bereavement without any "hope"...I've come full circle to feeling my children now are with me, in Spirit..until "an undetermined time"...when I will join them in their new "REAL-ity", where love is the Guiding force, permeating everything with the light and lovely fragrance of joy...There really is reason to hope for a better tomorrow!
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Sometimes-- when your children are transitioned at a very tender age-- you can feel like you're left out. My two children died young, at ages 27 months (Michael) and 9 and 1/2 months (Lisa).
Early on, I strongly felt left out of all the shared memories, that Moms of older transitioned children had shared. These Moms had... immensely more to remember.
But what about the "not so good memories" they share, too? Now I see the benefit of not having a ton of earthly memories...Life being full of tumult and jolts along with joyful moments...there's bound to have been plenty of "best NOT remembered" moments, too, that they have to deal with. Or try hard to forget...which is like trying to keep a balloon submerged under water!
I think it is easier for me to "look forward"--to "look ahead" with having fewer shared memories. Yes, the pain of feeling "cheated" is substantially and potentially much greater--all those missing moments for not only our child, but for us...
After that terrible slew of hard core pain is dealt with though, I think it's been probably easier to now focus on what WILL be gained. What do I have to lose by focusing on that? I surely don't have enough memories to feel badly about not "remembering"...
Coupled with a particularly miserable childhood and a life story that would make good "Lifetime" movie fodder...I honestly cannot fathom desiring my children to leave their place of JOY...for this "life!"
I have experienced plenty of God's grace in action--consoling, healing and sustaining--I have no doubt in my mind that my transitioned children are in a far, far better place than here.
I "gave" them life through God...would I take it back again? Would I now take away what really IS LIFE...hauling their rear ends back to a place of tenuous peace and ample suffering? "hell---NO" is what I say...but Heaven?-- YES!!!
Loving someone "unconditionally," usually entails loving someone who has something "repugnant" going on with them... and accepting that repugnancy. "Unconditional love"-- when transitioned children are involved--means that if it is repugnant to me that they are away from me (EVEN IN HEAVEN) ...I still love them enough to sacrifice my own sense of earthly self-fulfillment.
When the shocking horror that our child has transitioned becomes more "manageable"--...the realization that our children are IN PARADISE and HAVE WON THE LOTTERY can start to "lighten" our burden...at least that's how it did work for me...And all we have to do is TRUST... that Jesus is not a liar!
Thursday, September 19, 2013
My son had the TV tuned to "The Military Channel" and the show was about tactics of war. What caught my attention, was an officer stating (in so many words) that the singular, most important thing an enemy can do, is to convince the opposition that winning the war is impossible... so he's not even going to engage...to essentially GIVE UP before even engaging in battle...by thoroughly intimidating and putting fear into his mind..."
I thought back about when I was newly bereaved. What frightened me the most about the future, was wondering if I could SURVIVE the horrors of the (who knows how long?) war that I'd just entered into...A war that threatened to destroy even my "will to live" ... putting FEAR into me by wondering if I could battle such strong feelings of sorrow, pain and angst of the like I'd previously never experienced...or even imagined were possible..
"YOU CAN'T DO IT"--that's the siren song of the enemy. Just like the officer had said on the TV show...the enemy trying to get me, to get us, to give up before even engaging in battle.
The thing is, though, that we don't fight this battle alone! Even though the enemy tries very hard to isolate us, and to make us feel utterly alone, we really aren't! God is right there with us, usually unseen...but very much a very real part of our lives every second and every step of our waking lives.
One of the things that kept me feeling weak and defenseless, was the enemy's insistence that my children were, in fact, completely "dead." Not only dead, but cheated out of the rich lushness of life's blessings...And telling me that "I" was also duly cheated. As the years rolled on, I can see how that initial kick-start punch into tempting me to despair, by twisting the truth, could have had horrible repercussions... if I'd given in to the "Might as well give up... they're DEAD" thinking...He was capitalizing on what was the biggest horror...the reality that their physical bodies no longer walked this planet...If I focused only on that...I wouldn't be able to figure out that only their shells were dead...their inner core of beauty and vitality-- was in reality-- more alive than ever!
Jesus was fond of saying someone was "asleep" rather than their being flat-out "dead." Asleep has the promise of reawakening...Not so much... does the word "dead." Our souls are still very much alive when our physical bodies are deceased. We never "really" die...just the old clothing has been shed...we're awaiting being clothed in robes anew of a beauty that we cannot even imagine now.
My late husband communicated to me (when I nearly stumbled, carrying heavy boxes of his clothing down into the basement--unable to give them away just yet)...
"I feel so free! So light!"
This wasn't so much audible as it was an "interior declaration" of sorts...but clear as a bell it was!
We should try hard not to succumb to the biggest tactic enemies have to take down those they hate...
so much fear and assurance of "losing"... that they give up before they even start! Faith in the One Who CAN truly fight and win battles (and has already defeated the enemy!) is KEY to surviving the war...
And we don't even have to know how to fight...we just have to be willing to TRUST that God is able to do what He has said that He can...and will do for us...SAVE US!...
Saturday, September 7, 2013
"For we are not unaware of his schemes" is a verse taken from the Bible (2 CORINTHIANS 2:11)...This verse has troubling text. Not only does it state that Satan is alive and kicking, but that he tries to scheme against us. And as with Jesus, so with us..."at an opportune time"...(Luke 4:13)
Having a good couple of days? Feeling re-energized with life again? Thinking you can make it...that the coast is clear and you can come out of your foxhole and finally relax and breathe in the fresh air?
That was me this week...and then BAM!!! One assault after another-- to wipe away any smile re-emerging from the prior bombardment of stress, in this battle called "mortal life"...
I have learned over the years to be "on guard"...to be careful about what I verbalize as something I am particularly fond of...Because...I couldn't deny the continuity, of my expressing a great love of something... and then...restaurants would suddenly close; favorite people would suddenly depart; stores would close their doors after years in business...only after I made a fuss of how much enjoyment I received from them! Over the years, it seems as if more "mundane" things that "I love" now kickstart the "loss of enjoyment train" rolling along... Mere coincidences? I do not believe that is the case.
I'm all for one's having great love and enjoyment of something. I personally know I have to be alert to the very real possibility-- that emphatic, outward expression of such-- MAY cause the enemy to attempt a touchdown by throwing the ball toward his own "END" goal...
St. Hilda said essentially, that Satan touched and ruined things out of his jealousy and envy. Starting with the loss of my children and husband, (my most dramatic and gut wrenching loss)...my "hold" on things in general, has been less strong than previously. I know only too well that loved ones, or just things in general, can disappear overnight. In an instant. My perspective on "holding onto" rights changed.
I started out my Christian journey not believing Satan was even a real, physical entity. I thought that evil was the result of poor choices people made. More like the rotten fruit of a ruined tree...But, a certain experience I had one depressed night, forever changed my idea about Satan not being alive. No-Satan is very much alive... and he's strong... and he is armed and ready for battle. My life experiences have certainly demonstrated that reality...
It would almost be too frightful to continue of if we were faced to battle with him all alone on our own...He is a formidable enemy...much stronger than us...BUT--Jesus is even stronger! With Jesus at our side, we no longer have to fear the wiles of the enemy dragging us down toward defeat.
Here are two links-- one short and to the point, and one longer and more detailed-- that talk more fully about the tactics of the enemy and just what this "scheming" entails:
I try to always remember, as hard as the battle can get..."JESUS SAVES!"
Monday, August 26, 2013
Many of us engaged in battle, have seen "wartime atrocities". Simply explained, it is an absolute atrocity to see anything directly related to the decease of our child (or children). For some of us, these atrocities are "in the midst of battle"-we're "first responders"-- The sights of terror and destruction are such that no mother's eyes should ever behold...
Some atrocities are primarily emotional atrocities. The woulda-coulda-shoulda's would fall into this category. Experiencing these emotional wounds is every bit as painful and potentially scarring-- as experiencing physical wounds. The physical pain that accompanies our grieving response, comes as an additional surprise tactic by the enemy...
The intensity of battle and wartime weariness seems unrelenting. The sound of the battle cry is heard every day, especially during early warfare. A kind of deafness to painful auditory stimuli, or blindness to visual bombardment, though can come after a varying period of time and brings a kind of breathing relief..
After nearly 30 years of treading the grief battleground, I have developed a kind of immunity to what once caused me to dig an instantaneous foxhole...I have become used to the peripheral horrors of this war--But early on-- and fresh on the battlefield-- I felt entirely exposed, vulnerable and completely shell-shocked.
Now, my goal is to persevere...I'm not in the direct line of fire anymore...I'm not on the front lines any longer. I'm back at my Army office job...but I'm still trying to be always ready to follow my Commander's lead when a battle erupts...which sometimes takes me by surprise...but never my Commander. All- out battles are exceedingly rare these days; the battles being shorter and far less intense.
Together witnessing much atrocity through many previous battles--and much collateral damage--.my Commander and I have developed a closer relationship. I know He ultimately has my back, and has bound up my wounds and heard my wailing...He is leading me to Victory, one future day.
My duty at all times is to pay close attention and LISTEN to what He commands, following His expert lead...I know I'm in the best and most capable of Hands. He assures us He knows our whereabouts at all times...
"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;..." (NIV ISAIAH 49-16)
My battle strategy in order to persevere and endure, is to stay attentive to my Commander in Chief, and to keep my focus on the end goal...the attainment of vast riches...the riches of the spoils of war given to all the victorious in battle....Keep the Faith...It's worth the fight!
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
ON LANGUAGE BASICS...
As I was struggling to make progress on a quilt that I promised a friend (on short notice!) ...I got to thinking about all the new terms for quilting I'd learned. Things like certain fabrics having "a directional print". Getting more familiar with the world of quilting seemed like starting to learn a whole new language! It then occurred to me, that bereavement is a lot like learning a new language...
Many times I have heard newly bereaved Moms asking, "How do I do this?" The answer is...You learn-- either by booklearning or learning on your own--and then you practice and practice until it becomes familiar. A kind of comfort or ease then follows increasing familiarity. There is a learning curve to grief and we must learn our own unique interpretation of what we learn.
When learning the French language in high school, it was not something I learned instantly...it was a slow progressive learning... I was completely unfamiliar with the language. Nothing was like I was used to... I had to start from scratch-- learning how to say the French equivalent of the letter "A"...
One thing I found that I wasn't expecting...was that speaking the language would be infinitely harder for me than writing it. The spoken word was harder because I could not pronounce words that I could not hear. Hearing correctly--is of paramount importance. My further progression in learning the language stopped, because of my limitation of hearing. I finally stopped denying, and trying to pretend I was like all the other perfect -hearing students... I learned I could not change the unchangeable, no matter how much I wanted to...Not even if I'd gotten straight "A"'s on the written parts...I was "different" and "all the other kids in the class" seemed to have it "easier" than me...
There are "regional" variations with language. People that live in close proximity often sound the same. Even though they may be describing the same experience, it can be easier or harder for "strangers"to understand them...
Like learning anything new, practicing continuously is important or we lose ground. And there are certain rules of protocol that need to be followed. Following them always makes subsequent learning easier, and faster.
Some rules of "The language of Bereavement"-- like remembering to eat well and to get enough rest--are much easier to learn than others. It's harder to learn how to keep a reserve of energy, no matter what. Or how to answer --without guilt-- the "number- of -children- you- have" question when tired. And depleting ourselves of any of our basic needs -- even the willingness to eventually regain our lives again-- is seriously breaking the foundation of further learning gains...
Many times (especially when I was younger and people felt freer to say such things), I was told that I spoke "with an accent"... then was asked what it was. I used to chuckle at that! I didn't have an accent! Until I realized that I was being asked far too often and I needed to pay attention to that fact. Finally one day it dawned on me...it was my lifelong hearing loss affecting my speech! Thereafter, I was uncomfortable when certain people told me what they heard when I spoke...They had no clue of the discomfort they caused me by their innocent enough observation...
Something that is foreign to us we often prefer not to have...Sometimes, like me wanting to speak French, we just can't have in this world due to no fault of our own. Some things--even little things like speaking French-- we just have to wait until God's Restoration comes to us. And we finally all speak the same universal language of understanding.
The language of grief is the hardest language to learn. No wonder...It is the most foreign to our "mother" tongue...
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
I BELIEVE DIFFERENTLY
I don't believe some of the things die hard Christians believe. Particularly fundamentalist types, that seem to project God as a vengeful "Gonna GETCHA" type of Deity...
The thing that gets me, is that whole concept of "Jesus died to pay the price for our sins...He satisfied the righteousness of the Father...He died on the cross so that we can be made right with the Father..." and on and on ad nauseum...
I don't see it that way! I think of the parable of The Prodigal Son. What kind of father is being presented here? Only one kind...a compassionate, merciful, kind father... who holds no grudges! There's no score to settle!
But there's none of that in the parable...only LOVE to the nth degree.
I heard something on a talk show once that has stuck with me. A teen gang member was talking about who he chose to hang with...
"I want to talk to those that have bled like I've bled..."
Because those are the people that impact the most on us, on our lives. Those that we know have walked that walk of pain... and not merely talked about the journey. Similarly to how we bereaved feel... that unless one has experienced the death of one's child...a Mom hasn't a clue just how utterly devastating that experience is. Sure, one can book-learn all they want about the topic...that still doesn't cut it. You need to walk through the fire to feel the heat of the fire...no sitting on the sidelines on this one...
I firmly believe that Jesus died not so much "for" our sins, but as a way of bringing us back to God the Father. Mankind's sinful behavior has wreaked havoc upon the world. Jesus "became sin" and shouldered the supernatural experience of all sinful actions and resultant human pain from those actions...so He can be THE consummate IDENTIFIER of our own pain. In simpler terms...He can "relate"...because He's been there and done (experienced) that!
Had a child die? He's felt the pain, having supernaturally experienced it. Had physical suffering of any sort? He knows what it's all about. Either physical, verbal or spiritually abused? He's experienced all of it firsthand. Those were drops of BLOOD that He sweated. His "Agony in the Garden" was literally that..
When all others around us have NO CLUE about whatever we're going through "pain-wise"--Jesus Christ is Whom we can turn to, to "get it" and to understand COMPLETELY. Because He's "bled like we've bled..."
Get off the bandwagon, you Fundamentalist finger waggers in my face...There's no way I'll ever believe that God our Father is anything but like the father in The Prodigal Son parable. One who joyfully RAN TOWARD his son... after anxiously and eagerly awaiting his hoped-for return...
A Father Who is more concerned about alleviating our pain, than satisfying His Own Righteousness...
A Loving God more concerned about our welfare than His own...One that doesn't turn off people because of His projected harshness, but One that turns on people, because of His Love.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
It's hard to figure out sometimes. Is it genetics or environment that persuades an individual to embark on a particular pathway--whether "good" or "bad"...
I've never been extremely ambitious. Not compared to what I've seen looking around...Growing up, my parents were hard workers...But my sister --who had severe mental illness --was considered "ambitious" if she made it to the bathroom to do number one...My only brother moved often during his younger years...from one state to another... that had the better public assistance program for low income residents...
What if I'd grown up in an overachiever type of family? What if I'd had to compete with my siblings to be bigger, better or show off more? Would I have had the time (or even the desire?) to be reflective and ponder when young, such matters as "What does Jesus really want me to be like in the world?"
Some kids have a tremendous pressure to do do do and to be be be. To "make it" in the world. Or else they are without parental approval. Parents can cause a lot of emotion and reaction in a child just by giving them "the look"...Can you imagine what it must be like if they are told repeatedly over and over again what they must do?
I used to be more judgmental. Now I look at someone and I think, "What kind of environment did he/she grow up in? Is their behavior an outcropping of a dysfunctional emphasis on the wrong things?" "Wrong things" of course, can mean whatever is different than what I believe is the "right" thing...maybe moral, maybe ethical, maybe qualitative "norms"...
Identical twins can share many, many similarities in personality. But then there's cases where they don't. Some get along famously... but some cannot stand one another. Some adore dressing alike... but some absolutely detest that.
Some things are so universal though, they are always "right"and never wrong. Like showing love and kindness to one another. I almost added "respect"...but then thought of those who think it's perfectly acceptable to stomp on another's head to succeed..to get "a-head"...Unfortunately, maybe that's a "value" taught by parents who withheld love from their child if said child didn't mimic their behavior and beliefs.
That's where Jesus is so help-FULL..When discontent finally kicks in-- and one realizes that there's nothing fulfilling about being on top if one feels low in one's Spirit--Jesus can show us The Way. The way out. And the way in... to true contentment, found only in being at peace with oneself and one's Higher Power.
Influence does play a role in shaping one's life...past, present and future. Especially a truly Loving Influence--also fondly known as God...
Monday, June 17, 2013
POEM BY HELEN STEINER RICE
FAITH FOR DARK DAYS
When dark days come--and they come to us all--
We feel so helpless and lost and small.
We cannot fathom the reason why,
And it is futile for us to try
To find the answer, the reason or cause,
For the master plan is without any flaws.
And when the darkness shuts out the light,
We must lean on faith to restore our sight.
For there is nothing we need know
If we have faith that wherever we go
God wiil be there to help us to bear
Our disappointments, pain, and care.
For He is our Shepherd, our Father, our Guide,
And you're never alone with the Lord at your side.
So may the great Physician attend you,
And may His healing completely mend you.
Helen Steiner Rice
I like the symbolism reflected in the picture I chose to illustrate this poem...each flower is beautiful...some may look alike but each are uniquely one of a kind...All are needy of nourishment from the One True Stalk of Life...The Gift of God for the people of God...helping us not only to grow, but to vibrantly thrive!
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Today is "Father's Day"...I think America tends to forget the most important Father of all...GOD THE FATHER...
Jesus often called Him His Father...and then there's the famous "OUR FATHER who art in Heaven..." prayer we all learned in Sunday School. Why don't we ever wish God a happy Father's Day? Why is it so removed from our thinking that the thought doesn't even enter into our minds?
I wished my true Father a happy Father's Day today...My biological father has transitioned, and I've told him "Happy Father's Day" today. But the one and only true Father--my Higher Power-- is right here with me, also...and should hear me voice my gratitude, too!
What more could I ask for in a father than what God has given me? ...True love forever and manifestation of all that entails in all its various forms, functions, actions and responses...Love without ceasing. Without conditions. Without any strings attached.
I think He's definitely worthy of being wished a HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Good Girl 101
It's not easy to deal with the curves that life throws us at times. I've been dodging direct hits for quite some time now and my blogging lapse has demonstrated. What I've learned through my recent trials, is how important it is for me to remember THE BASICS. Starting with A for Alpha in order to get all the way to Omega. All the way to the One who is the biggest VIP in my life...Jesus Christ.
You can't get to the end of the alphabet unless you start with (or the equivalent of) "A"-- So--why do I feel as though I can zip through my troubles by taking what seems to be an express route? I have needed to remember recently, that "I" cannot do anything bearing fruit, without Jesus helping me with the gardening. I THINK I can manage my life doing it "my way"--but even after countless flops at that, I still keep trying to go it alone. At first. When I finally stop long enough to take a few deep breaths to quell my growing anxiousness, I hear the Lord telling me as He did to many in the Bible..."What are you so afraid of? Why so troubled? Where is your FAITH?..."
Giving up control of my life doesn't come easily to me. I tend to equate spirited fighting back, as the first step in the taking of action. Why do I wait until I'm worn out to remember to let God in to arrange things to His liking?
I want what I want when I want it, that's why! If I can just get things done quickly, maybe God will just go along for the ride on my desired ends, I'm figuring. I'll take the steering wheel first God, and drive where I want to go. Sadly, that never works out for me. It's only when I let God in to take over the steering that I get to where I best need to go. I don't have the road map in front of me like He does.
Somehow I think a shortcut will get me "there" faster. But by doing that... I often get lost...completely needing His direction to guide me where I need to be. Not necessarily where I would have chosen at first, but always best in the "end" for me.
Dear Jesus, thank you for taking me back to basics and being patient with me when I stubbornly think I can do it all alone. Thank You for gently holding my hand, guiding me back the right way. Going back to You, always means continuing forward with me! "A"men to that!
Sunday, May 5, 2013
The Problem of "Why?"
The question that kept surfacing wasn't so much "Why did they have to die" BUT "Why didn't You intervene?" I've always held firmly to the belief that God is completely omnipotent, omniscient--and also that "Nothing is impossible for God"...So why then didn't You intervene? Why the deaths of these most innocent, precious children?
I'm reminded of a saint that once reportedly lamented to God saying: "If this is how you treat your friends...No wonder you have so few of them!" I like her spunk and knowing that God can take our frail mortal jabs without reeling from the impact.
For me, it all came down to- bottom-line- a matter of whether I truly trusted God or not. Whether I truly believed He really is all those things He's said He is, can do and will do on our behalf. It really is a "make it or break it" time when our children die, in regard to our Faith. We soon find out whether we've built our faith foundation on rock or sand. But whichever it is...God can still patch us up where where our weak areas are. He never gives up on us, even if we give up on Him.
When I'm up against the wall with matters causing unrest in my soul...it's time for me to renew my trust in Him. I find that's easier when I recall how He has overcome obstacles for me in the past...often in the most creative of ways. And completely personalized, too . Who knew there was a non-smoking, rice-cake eating former nurse--widow of an Episcopalian priest- with three sons and no daughter who's personality and mine so meshed she became a treasure to me! She answered a request from God to visit her son earlier than planned. She was asked by a family friend to visit me because, well, she was "in the area" and this stranger's home (that just happened to have one bedroom currently vacant) became my new home after I left the hospital. She quickly became one of God's greatest blessings to me. And I became the initiating member of her "surrogate family"-- as she later called us, after I remarried.
I answered the question I pondered over and over, of "Why" and also "Why not Intervene" with the answer of-- "In this life-- I cannot know...but I trust that God had a GOOD reason for allowing the tragedy to unfold." When I return to God, then I will know. (but God does have some 'splainin to do!) He'll clue me in by enlarging my ability to understand. Like a little child I am now...unable to figure out the complexities of why this shot hurts so much...but trusting in the One Who loves me more than anyone else in the world...One that only has "my best" interest at heart...And in that Love and Trust I take my rest...
Thursday, April 18, 2013
SUCCESS AND ISOLATION
It can be "lonely at the top". When first bereaved...loneliness is a given. How could it not be? The physical loss of our beloved child strikes us right between the eyes.
But it can also be lonely in the future-- when you finally feel a great sense of "healing" and the return of joy. Many other bereaved Moms will not stand with you at that point. You are on your own again to navigate the now lonely waters. Spiritually, we always have the Lord Jesus with us to comfort and support. But physically...the absence of one's sisterhood of the bereaved, is sorely noticed and missed.
"You can't heal in isolation" is commonly told those in 12 Step programs. I agree completely. But after gaining healing from intense bereavement pain...I again feel isolated... but there's no 12 Step group for Successful Grieving Transitioning...
How does this happen? Bereaved Moms often believe that feeling the healing; experiencing the joy of life again, is equal to forgetting our child. Equal to not being a good Mom... because good moms don't feel happy again EVER, after the death of their child. Their sense of "betrayal" or or of being disloyal, is too intense to handle.
Feeling good again has been so long in coming for so many bereaved Moms, that it feels just plain foreign. And unfamiliar. And unfortunately...unacceptable. It's easier to stay with the old "I'll never feel...(insert word here)"... i.e. better/ normal/ the same (now that one's just plain common sense!- but doesn't necessitate feeling always miserable!) And our minds have a way of convincing our bodies that the mind is right! Even when it's wrong.
It's hard to look past the quizzical looks I get when asked and then talking about my children. The longer I talk about my deceased children without breaking down, or at least choking up a bit in the retelling--often gets me looked up and down. People have a hard time believing what happened and I frequently will need to repeat certain key points. Yes, all three died at once. Yes, it was someone else's fault. Yes, I was the only survivor. Yes, my husband died along with my children.
Sometimes a fleeting look comes and goes as if they're wondering whether in fact, they should believe me. It sounds too horrendous to be so casually conversing about. And I "get" what they are feeling. Because I, too, have a brief moment of near disbelief hearing someone talk without deep, sad emotions if speaking about tragedy. Something doesn't seem right. Their tone is off. Normally people are broken up over the retelling of this kind of thing, my subconscious tells me. The first time that happened to me and I realized it...I felt like such a hypocrite! All those years complaining in my mind about others not seeming to "accept" my story...and hear I was, feeling the same way when I heard someone else's monotone tragic-story delivery.
Why is it so hard to believe that God can heal grief completely? When the blind were made to see, they didn't have blurry vision. The deaf now heard perfectly. The lame leaped around--not hobbled on only one healed leg--
When God healed my grief, He healed me completely. That doesn't mean I don't miss them anymore. That doesn't mean I don't "have my days"...What it does mean is that I no longer face near despair over the perceived loss of them. Because they aren't lost--I now understand in my heart-- as well as my head. Heart knowledge was gained with miles traveled... in addition to Biblical beliefs (head) knowledge.
They're not lost, they're "found"...Found in the loving arms of our wonderful God who gives light and life to their eternal days. And given us the assurance that there is Reunion awaiting us--and an increase of The Holy Spirit within our souls that assures us this is true. A foretaste of Heaven, as Scripture tells us.
God can be trusted. Man...not so much. "In God We Trust" should not only be inscribed on our coinage, but deeply etched within our hearts, as well.
Monday, April 8, 2013
OLD HABITS VS NEW WAYS
It isn't easy for me to give up my old ways of handling life's problems. I grew up in a family that seemed to equate "worrying", with actively working out a problematic situation. I would often be beside myself with anxiousness. My Aunt once told me I was "a worrywart"--I wasn't even in my teens yet...Attempting to "relax" and relinquish "control" at any time during a personal crisis was just not done...Feeling any peace would mean I wasn't caring enough to worry! And this was with both parents being Christian. Guess there's a difference between being "Christian" and being "Christ-Centered"...
To be Christ-Centered during a crisis means (to me), to give up an incessant control of the situation that is troubling me. I still vitally care about whatever it is--But-- I realize that God alone-- has The Big Picture. Like a tot getting a vaccination. It hurts and that's all she understands... not knowing that future hurt is being averted by going through a time of trial now...
This relinquishment isn't something that comes automatically to me. The old and familiar is easier. Something as wonderful as "Letting go ... and letting God" I experience physically as such a different feeling...this not being required to be anxious. Feeling that all's going to be "OK" now that God's in the focused picture, is not that easy for me to do, even though I consider myself completely in love with my Savior...
When things have been completely horrendously beyond my control...i.e. when my husband and two children were killed...it wasn't difficult to let go of Worry Central Command. The deed had already been done. It was ALREADY beyond my control. I had to trust that God knew what He was doing and that He had a valid "reason" for allowing this tragedy to unfold the way it did being Omnipotent as He is...The sad outcome was already known...
But it's the day to day life struggles...recent "issues" with relatives and actions I do not condone, that has me feeling that old, familiar, jittery feeling again..."STOP!" I tell myself...RELAX...GOD IS IN THE BOAT...
I don't want Jesus asking me, like He asked His fearful disciples at that time, "Why are you so fearful? Where is your Faith?"
Deep breathing does help as I have that very common tendency to take shallow breaths when stressed. And stress happens to us all...When we become Christians, we don't have an automatic reduction in feeling stress... Old habits really are hard to give up...we're so much more comfortable with the familiar old ways of doing things...Prayer can help...actively turning to God in prayer causes an inner calm in me whereas before, I had none...
If I remember Who it is that I trust--who has never failed me yet-- and who has been with me every step of the way-- helping me to get up when I've become mired and stuck--whose promises I can believe will come true because being Truth Himself-- He cannot lie--All of this "grounds" me and renews my decision to choose a different way of responding to my stress...A choice involving Faith in the One who loves me beyond anything I have ever known...And who assures me it's "OK" and desirable to be at peace and to feel safe...
Sunday, March 31, 2013
CHRIST IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD
For bereaved Moms...Easter is the most "celebratory" of all religious celebrations in my opinion! What other day celebrates being risen from the dead...thus assuring us of our children's well-being? Christ was deader than a doorknob and yet rose victoriously to herald in the life that is truly "Life"--
How blessed we are to have a glorious future to look forward to...and being in communion with the rest of the redeemed!
The other day I had a misplaced piece of mail in my new mailbox. It was an Easter card from an Orthodox Church...written in Greek. I found the image on the front of the card rather interesting...
It was all pastel colored, showing a rather lonely pastoral scene...with nobody around in sight! I find that slightly daunting...the portrayal of Heaven as "solitary"... I believe that Heaven is far from solitary!
I envision it as a place where we are in constant contact with loved ones...both old and new...with never a dull moment to spare! With no physical need to "rest"--why would one presume we are "inactive"--
"Eternal Rest" has always had a spooky evocation to me...It always made me feel isolated and alone. Something I want nothing of when I'm "upstairs". Being free of all physical limitations to completely understand my friends (I've struggled with being completely deaf to speech in my left ear for my entire life)....I'll want MORE of people...not less... when I'm finally, truly able to "be" with them-- without strain!
I have dismissed from my mind any association with Heaven that has anything that's the opposite of
and of course the all-encompassing
~~ Alleluia, Christ Has Risen...Christ Has Risen, "IN DEED"! ~~
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
PENNIES FROM HEAVEN
"Pennies from Heaven" seems like an old, trite, old wives' tale or just plain outdated form of communication from our transitioned ones...BUT...it does happen repeatedly to many bereaved Moms...and I am one of them.
When I am feeling most down...this is when I will see them... And it's not as if they are way far away from where I'm at... but one thing they have in common is they seem to appear out of nowhere or are EXACTLY where I am at that moment in time.
Examples are: Finding one in my locked up gym locker where no penny was there before. Finding one in cabinets where there was none to be found prior. Finding one on the wooden picnic table immediately in front of where I randomly sat...and just the other night.... I was walking in the grocery store and suddenly I hear a little clang in my left ear (the one that is deaf) and look down. A man's foot had apparently kicked up a penny immediately where I was standing in the aisle. He was oblivious to it and I was smiling inside!
One time I was at church and kneeling down and "Wait! What's that? It was a perfect replica of a penny (made by some stain) on the floor..I actually reached for it...thinking it was a real penny! Regardless, I was comforted.
That seems to be the purpose of the God sent "Pennies from Heaven"--COMFORT for us...
In Heaven, there is no need for monetary devices whatsoever...perhaps my beloveds feel an empathy with our constant striving financially...thus the "penny" being chosen as a sign that they care. Or perhaps it's the "In God We Trust" motto on each coin...?
Next time you're gifted with a sign from your beloveds (and it needn't be a penny-it can be whatever speaks specifically to you!) Tell them (and God!) "Hi there!" and offer Thanks for the gift!
Friday, March 1, 2013
FROM NINE MONTHS TO 29 YEARS
|I love the green, growing decorations surrounding the supportive cross. The pink rose reminds me of Lisa's remembrance spray of pink roses, that were left on their casket...Allegedly they stayed intact... despite a very windy snowstorm that hit...|
My daughter Lisa's birthday was today...she would have turned 29 years old. Older than me, at the
time of the accident. It is hard to fathom that so much time has elapsed...where did it go?
There have been "times of refreshment" over these years...but so much heartbreak too. One thing I know for sure... is that this life is incredibly "tough". And Lisa has been spared from all of that-- from everything that causes pain and suffering.
But the "good stuff"--the life that is really life-- shared between my daughter and I, is that which I focused on today...not her death. It really serves me no purpose to remind myself of all life's "unfairness"when thinking of Lisa. So much on earth depends on circumstances, that it is hard to say anything accurately other than she died before I was ready... Before I was ready to receive her physical loss. I had to "receive" her loss...The funny thing about loss is that when you finally get to accept it...you realize you never had a true loss of them to begin with! The physical body may not be present... but the Spiritual body certainly is! They live! And when faced with death...that's the only thing that really matters.
Only through the grace of God, go I along this long and sometimes lonely journey...Loving Savior Jesus, walk with me...and break down the walls of separation between myself and my beloveds. Let the light of Your understanding illuminate any darkness of misunderstanding in my heart....Help me to stay single minded on my journey toward reunion--with You and with my children who are with You... Thank You Heavenly Father, Son and Holy Spirit for the great gifts of my children and of course, their Dad, Tim. Kids!... Lisa, Michael (and Kevin)... I LOVE YOU!!!
|Last photo of Lisa...about 2 weeks before she transitioned.|
Friday, February 15, 2013
WE'RE NOT ALONE
We're not alone as a species... when it comes to "disaster" striking. I watched a short film the other day all about whales. The mother and baby whale make a long migration that is fraught with peril along the way. Film was shown of one baby whale becoming all tangled up in fishing nets--nearly dying--the mother nearby for hours... and helpless to free her child. It ended well though...men were able to carefully cut free the baby whale and he swam away with his likely relieved, mother.
This led me to think about something I'd never thought about before. The fact that what we view as "unfair treatment"...can be also be experienced by other species! Why did this one baby whale get caught up in the nets and not the hundreds before him? Why did his mother have to suffer through the horror of witnessing his near death?
The film showed another baby whale that wasn't so lucky. "Fortune" hadn't intervened for the one that was trapped... and not able to have been cut loose. Why did that baby have to die? So many migrate...some make it...some don't. Where's the "fairness" in all that?
We're not alone when we feel cheated. Other species are having the same experiences. Maybe they don't "feel" it as we human Moms do...but the narrator describing the actions of the mother whale during her baby's distress- sure did make it seem as if Mama Whale too, was very much stressed.
What is it about Maternal Instinct... that makes a mother whale stay by her struggling baby's side? Why didn't she just swim away and not care?
Mothers are hard-wired by God to especially care about their babies' well being. No wonder we suffer so much when they predecease us...even biology has a hand in our untoward suffering...
I saw a documentary years ago that was all about meerkats. One of the meerkats was separated from his family and was about to become prey unless he could become part of a pack again. An unusual occurrence happened when another meerkat family sort of "adopted" him--something not typically done the show explained--thereby saving his life. That TV program got me to expand my view of God's Sovereign Power. And how He cares not only for US--saving and comforting--but for ALL His creation...What an awesome God we have! And power-"full" too!
I find comfort in the fact that God's "specialty" is in Rescuing...so vastly different than the world's view of stepping on one another to get ahead...they get ahead perhaps...but they never get a heart.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
We all need the input of others to find our way through the dark times in our lives.
GoodTherapy.org has selected the best websites that, in their opinion, offer the grieving the most comprehensive solace.
I listed them all as active links to each site in the latest offering of the "LINKS" page, here on my site. If you'd like to-- check them out!
I tell myself that no injustice, rather real or imagined, escapes GOD'S notice...That is something Scripture seems to indicate that God almost snickers at...thinking that anyone can do anything without Him being aware of it. The Giver of Consciousness itself...NOT being aware of what's going on? I remind myself of His incredible power and I breathe a sigh of relief. The burden is off of me and onto Him to "get me out of this" whatever is ailing me...after I do my own part by taking as much action as is judiciously needed on my own behalf.
Some people have almost a "laissez-faire" attitude about "Letting go...and letting God!"...I feel that we're still expected to try within our capabilities to use our minds and bodies to help to resolve whatever it is...and then leave the rest up to God to assist where needed. Sometimes, that means He gets to deal with the whole enchilada, as the problem is just too big or we are just too humanly frail and wounded to get in there and do battle. "Our part" in those situations is to actively take the problem to God in prayer. God, being Compassionate and Omniscient, is right there assisting us-- setting things in motion even before we ask or are aware of the need.
Last night I was reading how the disciples worked hard all night long fishing, and didn't catch a single darn fish. Then Jesus entered the picture and spoke a few words...and their nets were so full...they were bulging with fish after floppin' fish!
I remind myself of Whom I am dealing with, when I am feeling overwhelmed. As it says somewhere (!) in Scripture; "Is anything too hard for Me?" also, this time paraphrasing, "Why do you go about worried, as if you have no Saviour?"
I start to relax after I think on this and feel that by continuing to"fret"--it is almost like saying to Jesus...
"I don't really trust you...that's why I am so worried 24-7 about this...You have limited power, and obviously cannot be trusted to fully deal with my problems..."
What the heck??? This same Jesus who died for us, suffering an incredible amount of very real physical, emotional and Spiritual agony..."doesn't" care to save us from what is severely troubling us?
I can't believe in His power if I can't believe He can "get me through/outta this!"
Prayer is so essential to reconnect to the Power of Worry Relief. Results may not come immediately, but even then, we trust that, for whatever reason only He knows, it "is" the way it is supposed to be/happen/occur/feel...at this point in our lives... knowing that Jesus is always by our side, never deserting us...
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