Helping loved ones through Grief

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I am still very much in this world…but with the passing of several dear ones lately, it occurred to me that NOW, while I am still alive, I have the ability to do at least some small things that might bring a measure of comfort to the hearts of those I love. Were I to pass suddenly, I might even be instrumental in helping them keep their sights firmly where they ought to remain. Purposefully living, while loving fully…

My Dearest: You are a Survivor.

There is surely pain in the realization, because right now, if you are reading this, you more likely feel alone, abandoned and afraid.

But be assured, my precious one: you are not.

Whatever befell me was simply my doorway into Eternity with Jesus – and you need to draw comfort from knowing with absolute certainty that I am whole, healed and happy – and rejoicing with Jesus! I Thes. 4:13-18

Believe me, I understand how you are feeling – that’s why I am writing this reminder to you – for you to find when I am gone, that it might bring you comfort in your grief.

I love you. You must know that of all the gifts from God’s good hand, that of Family has been the very dearest to me!

And so, at this low point, in this trial, I want to linger a bit with you. I wish I could stroke your hair and dry your tears…but through these words, I pray I might offer help to your hurting heart. Oh my loved one – do not despair! We have such a glorious Hope!

As I write this, my mind fills with memories of happy times, so many days bright with promise…what a marvel, really, that in a sin cursed world there can still be JOY – Isn’t that a remarkable gift from God?? Oh honey: embrace LIFE and all it has to offer! Do not be dismayed, defeated or lose hope…Satan would love to shake your faith. Surely doubt follows pain – but you must remain steadfast in your Trust. You must see the Possibilities – what man sees as tragic, senseless, futile and Final, God in His Sovereignty has already victoriously defeated. So Death, in His hand is just a tool – to build a platform from which we can proclaim His sufficiency, His sustaining Power and His comfort. The truth is that trials and hardships ought to be used (and often are!) as a wake up call to those who have wandered, or have let their faith dim… (Yes, I know I am lecturing now – permit me this small indulgence – now that I’ve passed, it will be my last J)

Where was I? Oh yes – reminding you, my treasured one, that you must make the most of the opportunity afforded you by my passing. You will have no end of those sympathizing with you – after all, such a loss of our loved ones brings out great compassion in people.

Let their affections warm your heart; do not close yourself off from the reach of Comfort. Grieving without hope is left to those who have none – but that is not US – we have Hope!

I guess that is the crux of what I want to say…and yet, while I am still afforded time, I will write a bit more, that the looping figures on these pages might themselves bring a small amount of peace to you…like an old recipe written out by a loved one – not only does the actual dish offer a remembered joy, but the familiar scrawl as well, brings a smile to the one who misses the owner’s hand.

We have shared plenty of conversations through the years for you to be grounded in the knowledge of the Gospel. You must continue the work – the task and joy of sharing the Good News with others who need yet to hear of it. It is every Believer’s obligation to carry on the proclamation of God’s salvation through the cross of Jesus…and we – you and I together – will have Eternity to rejoice and revel in His provision, love and grace.

Together…isn’t that such a lovely word? This parting of ours is temporary – only for a while – oh, what a comfort we can have knowing that Christ bore separation from His Father while on the cross, to make possible the fact that we will be together forever! Amazing!

And so, though death holds us for a brief second, and we grieve its sting, it is a temporary pain, a necessary reminder to the fact that our sin cursed world groans in agony.

Aren’t you so grateful, my dear one, that “we have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep, in the Savior’s love”?!

You’ll be humming that one for the rest of the day, I bet. J

What more can be said? I began by calling you a Survivor – for that is what you are…I like that term – it’s not necessarily ‘heroic’, though it could be. I think I like that within it is the very essence of ‘one who rises above their circumstances’. Life is full of tragedy. Uncertainty and danger lie all around us – human beings have a tendency to try to skirt all threats and snares – and understandably so…

BUT the believer in Jesus has the steadying truth that God is IN CONTROL.

Do you remember my quote, “Do not worry…God has already measured out all the days needed for you to get done whatever He has called you to do, so take time to do things well, and as unto Him.”?  Well, I thoroughly enjoyed each day measured out to me, with the pleasure and joy of walking my journey with YOU, my treasured family by my side.

“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” II Tim 4:8

I love you. May you always know how deeply thankful I am to God for giving me the gift of you! I could fill pages more with a steady flow of praise for you! (In fact, be sure to read my journals, the baby books where I related many wonderful stories that you’ll want to remember and pass along – oh and my prayer journal, and the basketfuls of cards and notes and letters…I’ve left enough material for you to be reading for months. J)

I only hope that your discovery of this letter has brought you some healing, my darling… There is a delicious little thrill in my heart knowing that this awaits your discovery. I seal it with a prayer that you find great comfort in this, our final time ‘together’ on this side of Heaven’s Gate.

Know that I’ll be looking for you when your time comes ~ and we will delight together, forevermore! Now dry your tears ~ LIFE Awaits you! And it’s a wonderful Gift from our Father’s loving hand! Live it out fully, for Him and you won’t regret a moment…

All my love,

Sarah

Wife, Mom, Daughter, Sister, and Friend, but mostly,

Follower of Jesus Christ, my Savior

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The Fruit of the Spirit in Action

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In this red-hot environment of political debate, both “sides” have fallen into pits of self-righteous indignation, having ‘clays of opinion’ that quickly harden, without allowing outside thoughts to permeate that might soften the jagged edges that have formed.

The subject matters are more numerous than there are Olympic sports; stretching from Immigration, Abortion, Taxation to National defense, Cabinet picks, Supreme Court justices and beyond. Everything’s up for battle.

The methods of dissemination vary as well: protests, arguments via volatile comment threads, op-ends, Facebook posts, Twitter jabs, late night TV skits, University rallies and, far too rarely, discussions over cups of coffee. (Best not choose Starbucks for now)

Worn and stale labels are slung like so many horseshoes, each side hoping for a ringer, while both are guilty of assumptions of understanding, without actually communicating anything fresh.

But the truth is, no one understands fully the vast majority of the problems that beset us. The issues have become far too complex and complicated; cloaked in controversiality and beyond human reasoning.

Oh sure- I can say that I stand on God’s standard when I stand against such a thing as abortion. (And frankly, I do believe that). But my friend, with equal claim to the grace of God through the blood of Christ, stands just as adamantly for the legitimacy of organizations such as Black Lives Matter, citing past wrongs that caused the formation of such a group to begin with.

Who is “right”, and who is “wrong”? And who gets to decide? And what to do with the umpteen other topics, some that intertwine like bowls of spaghetti, confusing and chaotic? On principle I believe we all have the right to our opinions on many matters if based on the framework of God’s Word. But where does that get us as far as actually persuading anyone?

Certainly I would like to think that every human being could agree that a recent example, a woman, a teacher of pre-schoolers, no less, who was recorded screaming racial epithets and demanding that “all white people give up their @!$& homes and money and give it to black people now!” would be unanimously given a thumbs down. That it wasn’t is highly disturbing, and a clear sign of our times.

The fighter in me wants to insist that “the liberals had 8 years of policies enacted that conservatives had to cope with, and it’s our turn to show them the wonderful good that conservative principles can do for all, if only given a chance.” However, that just inflames the already heated atmosphere.

The weary part of me wants to pass along non-controversial pictures of funny pets and dinner recipes, and hide away from the raging debates. But if Christians won’t engage in the public discussions, are we ceding our voice of reason, and the ability to fight against our nation’s cultural and moral decay? Passivity and apathy are avenues to usher in tragedy, as seen in plenty of world horrors where good people did nothing to fight evil.

But, I wonder if there is another option?

One that invites differing opinions to be heard in an arena of open, respectful discussion; where labels are prohibited (as well as name calling and nasty language). Where thoughts are presented, with the underlying belief that everyone participating has our nation’s best interests at heart, and that one’s allegiance to and love of Jesus Christ isn’t debated, even if perspectives might be challenged, with kindness and cordiality.

That such a board of banter and thought, diverse yet fraught with – dare I say it?: Love, could exist, gives my heart a tug of hopefulness.

Perhaps, by adding a “water” such as Love to our clay, our opinions may form more gently, giving a chance to smooth those jagged edges away with which we have been slashing at one another, preventing the cuts that wound deeply, and instead, helping one another arrive at conclusions based on truth, justice, respect and love, as well as a willingness to wait patiently and prayerfully for one another as we walk this journey of life together. In fact, evidencing the fruit of lives that are controlled by the Holy Spirit –  of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

In this age of rages and rants and rampages, imagine how much better it would be, how mutually beneficial and edifying (let alone, providing a model for our children!) to come up with a better way to conduct public discourse that is solidly built on a platform of respect, kindness and love.

Is it possible? I don’t know… but I am willing to try it and see.
I Corinthians 13:1-13

What do you think? Let’s talk – you know – between friends.

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Words of Wisdom

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A letter I wrote recently to my children (edited for length). I pray it is a blessing to you, as well. If you have some words of wisdom you’d like to share, I would love to hear from you! Let’s talk – you know – between friends. 🙂

My precious children ~

This world is confusing. Noisy with congestion of thought and opinions that make it hard at times to know truth from falsity. The newest revelations demand to be hailed; but ground your understanding in God’s truth, and it will guide you always.

You will make mistakes. That’s part of life. Learn from them, and they won’t have been wasted.

Water the flowers. Enjoy God’s beauty. Be wary of your own. Do not let vanity be your downfall. Do not get too caught up in pleasing yourself, but lavish on others.

Love. Like. Avoid. Never hate, unless it is directed at Sin, not Sinners. We all have need of compassion, forgiveness and second chances. Be sure to offer all.

Find comfort in knowing that God knows the truth. Always. About everything. It will free you from the urge to fix everybody and everything.

Spend time more carefully than you would gold – money can be earned, Time alone is parceled in lots that cannot be purchased.

Swift is the Unexpected – it comes rushing in… don’t fear, but make the most of what you’ve been given.

Be aware that jumping out to frighten people can come back to haunt you.

Laugh deliciously… the kind where you roll on the floor in tremendous mirth feels the very best.

Tears are not to be feared. Nor scorned. In fact, tears can release pent up emotions … allow yourself a periodic cleansing, if needed.

Don’t skimp on good sleep nor good food. They are the fuels that drive the human body.

Use wrinkle cream.

Regrets are best avoided by applying wisdom and good sense.

Having said that, don’t let past regrets dominate your present or your future. It’s a tremendous waste of time and energy. Learn and move on. God can use both good and bad to shape us, if we let Him.

Balance is best achieved by putting God first, and letting everything else fall into line behind Him.

Good dental and hygienic care will never be out of fashion. If they are, don’t you participate.

Learn to do activities you don’t think you’ll enjoy: spending time with those you love is worth sacrificing your own pleasures. And who knows? You may discover a new interest.

Take up a new hobby periodically… the world is spilling over with a magnificent array of activities to enjoy, and you will be a more interesting person.

Appreciate diversity. God in His glorious splendor made people unique… we all bring a fresh perspective.

Listen with a heart that aims to please God and love people.

Discussion is best done by listening well, then speaking if you have something worthwhile to add.

If you’re not sure if you should say something, go with that impulse. It’s easier to stay silent than to take back a hasty word.

Read good books. Enrich your mind.

Kindness is never wrong.

Don’t worry… it does no good and robs you of joy.

Live cleanly, but partake in small indulgences – denying all delights will not help you embrace the understanding of God’s lavishness. He made the cocoa bean just as He made broccoli.

Do a thorough clean out periodically- just give stuff away. It blesses others and releases you from the burden of having to care for so much.

Gain wisdom from God’s Word. Gain empathy from observing those hurting around you. If you are able to, alleviate the suffering of others. But recognize that God has His purposes in allowing pain in life, as well. His Sovereignty should be our comfort.

Be charitable, hospitable, loving and loyal.

Walk humbly.

Develop a few skills that you can quickly employ to bless others – a meal, a dessert, a Bible verse memorized, a stash of cards to mail- think and plan ahead.

Trust is a precious gift: do not trample any given to you.

Never be too rushed to see the beauty around you. Loveliness in all its forms come from God’s good hand. Let His poetry speak to your heart and the richness of His beautiful creation dazzle your soul.

Never be afraid to sing out loud and let your voice mingle with that of the angels.

Cultivate a myriad of interests that express your uniqueness and you will never be bored.

Keep an eye out for the lonely.

Simple action is better than eloquent emptiness.

Kindness to animals is a must.

Never harm others on purpose.

Live purposefully. Set goals. Aim for some things and don’t let naysayers deny you your dreams.

Embrace whimsy. It is a light hearted innocence that can turn dreary days into delight.

A sincere apology is quickly done. Asking forgiveness is the best way to discover if your apology was accepted.

Look people in the eye when you speak to them, but do not stare at those who are different from you.

Learn to see people’s hearts from their actions, before you judge based on their outside.

When you fail, do not quit. Attempting and failing is part of the human experience, and it brings more of a thrill to finally Succeeding.

Ask God’s guidance before you rise, for His mercy and loving kindness. Spend time daily with Him and marvel in the awesome fact that The Almighty wishes to have a relationship with us!

Wipe your feet at the door and save yourself unnecessary work.

Only find shortcuts that don’t jeopardize quality. Remember – Excellence in all you do- do not hasten. Don’t worry, God has already measured out all the days needed for you to get done whatever He’s called you to do, so take time to do things well and as unto Him.

Remember back to those who have helped you and acknowledge with affection all who walk alongside you. Take time to say Thank You. We are all on the journey- be patient.

Learn a few good jokes that can be pulled out as needed.

Make your bed each day. It will get you started in the right direction.

There is a difference in Being and Becoming. Being is how one is; becoming allows for growth and change… Be someone who is Becoming more like Jesus.

Use the time you’ve been given to share with others — if you’ve found something that brings a smile, or relief, hope or help, a joy or a sweet encouragement – share it. Keeping something for oneself alone can never bring the soul satisfaction that God designed that sharing can.

My final hope is this: knowing how much I love you and treasure the gift that parenting each of you has been, will you show me this last kindness and forget anything I may have said or done, that didn’t line up with these words here? My prayer is that you would see my heart for you, and forgive my foibles and shortcomings, remembering only the deep love I have for you, and that in your mind, you might preserve just the good, and with a gentle puff of breath, blow away any hurts that may linger from past foolishness on my part. Know this – I love you. I say to you now, if I could go back and do it all again, I would, with a hearty “Amen!”, and with great delight for such a chance as to relive this life with you, my precious ones.

Keep your chin up and your eyes fixed on Jesus, do not forget what you’ve been entrusted with – a heritage that points to Jesus as our only hope and Savior. Do not squander what you’ve been given. And remember this: we will glory in heaven together forever.
All my love to each of you– Mom

For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face. Psalm 11:7

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