After Loss of A child – Going Through

Through –

It seems lately that the word through has been highlighted in devotionals and every birdexercisearticle and book I have been reading.

Of course you are likely familiar with a well-known and oft-repeated verse 4 from the 23rd Psalm:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

How many times must I have read that and quoted it, but it provoked much thought this past week or so.

You see, I am a great starter. I’ve started numerous (ok probably hundreds) of diets. Projects – especially those dealing with what I consider boring repetition like sorting papers, clothing, etc. seldom get finished. My sister, Marlene was here last summer and IMG_2945encouraged me to conquer the dining room table – well, actually the stacks of paper piled all over it. She sorted the papers into categories and commanded me to take one paper and do something with it. You know the drill: toss it, file it, share it with someone. It was fun for a while, but the last stack was draining. If she hadn’t been here, I’d have quit. But with her encouragement I got through. And I was rewarded to hear my husband’s pleasure and exclamation “It’s wood!” when he looked at the cleared table!

 

Since the loss of our daughter, I think I’ve not wanted to go through the valley of the shadow of death. I’ve felt this is something I have to do alone. On one hand, I long to turn around and run or bury my head in the sand and pretend it never happened. But that does no good, so I start the journey again, relenting each time when the pain gets too overwhelming. I think those days happen because I go backward in the valley, or just stop and cry because I am there, and then I see a glimmer – a light at the end of the valley, so to speak. One was a message from a soldier far away, that he loved me and was privileged to be my rod of protection. Another day it was a lovely card from one of Laurie’s donor recipients, and I realize they and their families went through that dark valley too. I hope to hear from them again soon because the messages of parents, donor families and donor recipients comfort me and remind me I am not alone.

I read and review a lot – 6 books this past week. Each one had something the hero or switchheroine had to get through. I am now reading a non-fiction book by Dr. Caroline Leaf called Switch On Your Brain. She shares how the Biblical teaching “as a man thinks, so is he” is quite literal. Using both scientific and medical research she shows how changing our thoughts can change our brain cells – in a healthy way or in a destructive manner. I believe this is the first time I have read through an introduction 3 times! The second half of the book is a 21-day brain detox. For this to work I am going to have to commit to working through some thought habits that have not been beneficial.

Friends who have lost a child tell me I will never be through grieving, and I believe it – I don’t mean to say when I get through the valley my loss will be over, but I do believe I need to make a choice to face the shadows. And to keep stepping forward.

I see hope in the rest of this verse. One – the fear of evil is not present because I am not alone. And – God’s rod and staff are there to comfort me. The rod to protect his fold from attack, and his staff, to keep me on the path (kind of like Marlene did), to break through (from the original word meaning the idea of negation; i.e. truly or yet:—but, indeed, nevertheless) until we reach our destination.

So – that is where I am – going through the valley of the shadow of death, WatchGod

BUT (God)

YET (God)

Nevertheless… (God) is with me.

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A “Mother’s Day” Without Words

All mothers were not / are not wonderful.  Many a year I’d search for hours or even days to find a card for Mother’s Day that said something good which was not a lie.

One of those years a friend challenged me to find 7 good things about my mother or life with my mother. It took a month to compile the list.

This blog is for all of you who dread Mother’s Day.  I pray it brings you hope.momnme013

This is about one of the many times I went back home with a plan hoping to restore our relationship. I usually returned in tears. This time -decades later-was worse.

I had no plan. Turns out I didn’t need one. Here’s how it began:

After a dinner out celebrating my birthday, I’d preceded my husband into the house as he parked the car, and heard the answering machine  beeping that we had a message.  Automatically I stepped into the dark room, pressed “play”, and then gasped when I heard the familiar but thready voice singing “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear daughter, Happy Birthday to you.” That was all.  The click and “end of messages” from the answering machine left me standing in mute shock.  It was as eerie as the scene from a mystery thriller and it felt like I had turned to stone.

Ken came in, alarmed to find me in the dark room staring at the answering machine, my arms wrapped around myself. “What is it?  Bad news?” he asked, as he held me.

Mutely, I reached over and hit “play” letting the message repeat. As we listened, his whisper echoed my thoughts.  “Why now after all these years?”

Continuing to hold me, he prayed for me.  He’d known my story and married me despite all the baggage I brought into our relationship.   He’d been my protective knight through traumatic visits and volatile ‘episodes’.  As time slipped by, I’d thought I’d grown immune to the painful memories, yet here I was years later, trembling in fear from the sound of my past. Yet, a feeling grew. I knew I needed to go. Perhaps her call meant there was hope.  Ken’s prayer led me to the place of faith where I believed God would lead me each step of the way. I wasn’t sure if I could love or forgive Mom, but I knew with a certainty God could.

IMG_2105Her doctor confirmed there had been occasional loss of memory, and much consternation with things appearing to be missing but later found misplaced in odd locations.  The loss of memory phrase got me.  I remember questioning stories of people who said their past was so traumatic they forgot it. How many times I’d wished I could forget my troubled past.  Now it seemed, Mom had forgotten – at least some of it, some of the time.  Was it real or was it convenient? Was that good or did it mean it was too late to find healing?  Whatever the outcome, I knew the commandment to “honor” my parents, so I  prayed for faith to remember I was not facing this alone. I did not have to – spiritually, or literally.

Our granddaughter, Aimee, knew about the phone call and other parts of my story. I was grateful for her willingness to leave her job for several days and ironically spent the journey north preparing her what not to say – triggers that usually sent Mom into a rage.

Hermansvhouse069When the familiar sign announcing my home town came into view, my mind took me back. I was disappointed with myself for feeling 11-years-old again, and memories I thought I had left behind now roared over me like an emotional Niagara Falls.

My chest hurt with the pain of remembrance and my face must have showed it as well.

“Are you OK, Grandma?” “Is this hard for you?”

Leave it to my granddaughter to spot the pain I thought was well hidden. I remember questioning stories of people who said their past was so traumatic they forgot it. How many times I’d wished I could forget.

We spent the night nearby, and once my darling granddaughter dozed off I crept out of bed to pray and think.

The “fixer” in me was clamoring – what should I do – what should I say? Should I have brought a gift?  (I knew she might reject me, but hardly ever did she reject a gift.)

Like the Apostle Peter, I often spoke without thinking, filling quiet spaces with whatever words came to mind, and I grappled now with fear of what might result if I didn’t plan every word. Grabbing my Bible, I dropped onto the blue easy chair in the corner. The book fell open to the marker left from a recent Bible study, the yellow highlighting on the page ironically announcing the little phrase without words. I knew instantly that was my answer. I did not have to say or do anything; I just had to be there. I quietly chuckled at God’s sense of humor. Now THAT would be a miracle. Relieved knowing that God alone could enable that to happen, the choice was made, and I slept peacefully.

house dst003            A gentle touch and meaningful glance from my granddaughter as we approached the home softened in sympathy as the door opened and Aimee’s glance moved from my mother to me. An unexpectedly quiet and subdued little woman shuffled behind the walker, which we folded into the trunk of the car, and began our journey.
I’d purposely planned more than a day would hold, hoping there would be no empty opportunity for an “episode.”  Driving past the homes and schools of my childhood, Mom surprised us, remembering her sister lived nearby. We picked up Aunt Angie, and her Aimee in Mich 031daughter JoAnne and visited a a fancy restaurant between little drives across the countryside, ostensibly to show my granddaughter where I grew up and went to school.

 

 

 

Aimee could sense my growing tension after lunch because Mom was discovering that her idea to invite her sister, had split our attention.

Aimee in Mich 026We’d seen the ice-cream parlor on the way in, and Aimee teased Mom with the idea of a treat and seeing if she would recognize the old songs on the jukebox.

joanndeloresdance101Her clever antics and dancing with JoAnne restored the peace.

 

 

 

 

Aimee in Mich 028After we returned my aunt home, Mom wanted to see the farm where she was raised, and directed us down the country roads. It was treacherous emotional territory, but Aimee kept up innocuous chatter comparing cars, clothing, and school days “back then” enabled me to remain quiet.

There were no life-changing conversations or heavenly reconciliation scenes, but there was opportunity to show honor as the little tour helped her find some good memories of her past.  Through it all I was wondering  how my unusually silent behavior would be interpreted. The day’s end told all.

“Before you go,” Mom asked, “would you help me change to my slippers? It’s hard to bend down anymore.”

Folding one knee down before her, I reached to slip off a shoe. I felt her hand on my head like a benediction, her soft voice noting with surprise that her little girl had silver in her hair.   Kneeling there, pictures flashed in my mind, of how Christ knelt to wash the feet of the apostles. Barely restraining the tears, I swallowed and looked up. Our eyes met and held.

Aimee in Mich 052            “Thank you,” she said, cloudy blue eyes glowing with a response to words I hadn’t had to say, and voicing greater tenderness than I’d heard in my lifetime. The greatest gift, I’d finally realized, was nothing I would ever say, do, or buy.

It was the gift letting her see Christ, instead of me – no words needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After Losing a Child – Remembering Gifts from my Child

Yes, there are particular gifts – birthday, Christmas, Anniversary, Mother’s Day, etc. that  laurietwomy missing child, Laurie gave to me that bring special memories, as do the gifts from my other children, Cheri and Kevin.

 

As Mother’s Day approaches I am thankful for some intangible gifts from Laurie –

 

Mostly involving time . . .

Asking for time as a little one, putting her hands on each side of my face and making me look at her and listen…

Meeting in Fond du Lac at the library for Bible Study and prayer…then shopping at outlets

 

Women’s conferences in Wautoma, and hosting her sister Cheri and I each time.1-laurieplant

 

Pre-reading and reviewing many a story, article or column.

 

Teaching about herbs and teas and creating specific salves, teas and kitchen gifts for me.

 

 

Welcoming me for lunch at her worksite several times, and together planning gifts and treats for her co-workers.

 

Painstakingly knitting an extremely fine yarn shawl for one of the grandkid’s wedding.

 

macklaurKeeping up communication with the parts of family at a distance and gathering family for our anniversary

 

Asking for and respecting her mom’s opinion for her college reports and independent American Indian studies.

 

 

 

Supporting my mission trips and keeping in contact with her dad while I was gone.

 

IMG_6146Encouraging her dad and I to accompany her across the country to meet great-grandchild Henry.

 

Talking almost all night each time her family came for an overnight, and when I visited her home, tucking me in on her sofa when we could no longer stay awake.

 

Encouraging me to attend her conference in Chicago so we could spend evening hours together.

 

1-LaurieAngieAccompanying me to Michigan several times to visit my difficult mother and driving me across Michigan for several days to “deliver my Mom’s memorial service on wheels” to her remaining elderly family.

 

You get the picture. If Cheri and Kevin read this they will inevitably picture themselves supporting me in some way at each of these events and others personally spent with them. It is revealing that although I’ve received many lovely gifts of flowers, clothing, dishes, unique jewelry, and special books, all of which I treasure, but the most precious is still – time.

 

LauriegreetingmeI want to encourage you all with this reminder that the time you spend will last even longer than what you spent.

 

I’d love to hear how you make memories with your children. With your parents. With those who have been a special part of your life, and I leave you with a chuckle”

 

Years back Gloria Gaither wrote a book, Let’s Make a Memory, that influenced me, as a young mom, to treasure simple moments for the great memories they would be someday (and now are). The kids loved to watch for the first warm day they could go out without a coat or wear swimsuits in the rain. To end the daily begging, we created a chart by the thermometer that showed appropriate outerwear according to the temperature.

 

One day I heard the three of them scampering into the kitchen to check the temperature chart. They were all chatting, sharing their hopes and plans for the day. I knew I had gone too far with my Let’s Make a Memory focus when I heard Laurie warn her siblings, “Oh, no – it’s nice out, Mom’s going to want to make a memory – run!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Keeps You Busy?

I’ve been reviewing C.S. Lewis’ book Screwtape Letters, again.  1-screwtape

The lessons in this little book are so simple, evident and immediately recognizable.  If you haven’t read it, the premise is that Satan and his helpers meet up to discuss ways to sidetrack various Christians who might be a danger to God’s kingdom.  We should all know the enemy’s power is limited—he cannot MAKE us do anything. But temptations that feed our weaknesses (they are observable whether we like to believe that or not!) will distract us and keep us too busy either trying to conquer the weakness or enjoying it (one last time) to turn to the Lord for help.

Too busy to have time for others or to write that letter they meant to ages ago.

Too busy to listen to their child or spouse or friend…

Too busy to eat properly (and quickly distracted from the good they were going to do by finding a piece of cheesecake in the back of the fridge— or for me a chunk of chocolate or bag of chips

Too busy to get out into nature where they commune with God

Too busy to pray, certainly.

You get the picture.  Then I found this piece, surely based on this book that draws out some of the excuses we use – some of the distractions discussed in this little book.

Enjoy and then take the challenge. What is one thing you can DO or stop doing to redeem the time and make that connection with Jesus?

Satan called a worldwide convention of demons. – Author unknown

In his opening address he said,

SS09001“We can’t keep Christians from going to church.”

“We can’t keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth.”

“We can’t even keep them from forming an intimate relationship with their savior.”

“Once they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken.”

“So let them go to their churches; let them have their covered dish dinners,

BUT steal their time, so they don’t have time to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ.”

“This is what I want you to do,” said the devil:

“Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!”

“How shall we do this?” his demons shouted.

“Keep them busy in the nonessentials of life and invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds,” he answered.

Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow.”

7044“Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6-7 days each week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their empty lifestyles.”

“Keep them from spending time with their children.”

“As their families fragment, soon, their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work!”

“Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still, small voice.”

“Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive.”

“To keep the TV, VCR, CDs and their PCs going constantly in their home and see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical music constantly.”

“This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ.”

Fill the coffee tables with magazines and newspapers.”

Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day.”

Invade their driving moments with billboards.”

Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, mail order catalogs, sweepstakes, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services and false hopes.”

“Even in their recreation, let them be excessive.”

“Have them return from their recreation exhausted.”
2258
“Keep them too busy to go out in nature and reflect on God’s creation.

Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, plays, concerts, and movies instead.

“Keep them busy, busy, busy!

“And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences.”

“Crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Jesus.”

“Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause.”

“It will work!” “It will work!”

It was quite a plan!

The demons went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busier and more rushed, going here and there.

Having little time for their God or their families.

Having no time to tell others about the power of Jesus to change lives.

I guess the question is, has the devil been successful in his schemes?

You be the judge … does “BUSY” mean:

B-eing

U-nder

S-atan’s

Y-oke?

 

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Am I a Slave?

A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.  — 2 Peter 2:19

 

– Mastered or Overcome (NASB) comes from the Greek word katagonizomai, – to judytablesmstruggle against, to be overcome by, subdued

 

“How many excuses did we have on hand for allowing sin to continually master us? “I have a weakness,” “This is my thorn in the flesh,”           “I just have a big appetite,” or “I’m just a big
person.” But the truth is that the evil one was slowly devouring us, and sin was mastering us.” – Mary Nettles

 

What has mastered me?

 

Is mastery equal to slavery?

 

Rom. 6:14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under   Eastergrace.

The word master here is from the Greek word kurios, that means supreme authority

 

So, according to these scriptures

 

  • Although from time to time, I may struggle against emotions (anger, jealousy, etc) or things (food, shopping, habits, etc.) and allow these things to subdue me, or overcome me (believing I must have that or do that or think the craving is part of my DNA)

 

  • It (the sin, craving, weakness) will never be the supreme authority for one who belongs to and submits to Christ.

 

Sin can only control me if I choose it in defiance against God my supreme authority, and  its power and term are subject to my choice of master.

 

PrairieandMisc2014 1340Josh. 24:15 “And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve:

 

Choose – from etheleo – to wish for – to incline toward

 

Serve – strateuomai – to execute the apostolate (complete service as military or religious commitment) with its arduous duties and functions), to contend with carnal (physical – of the flesh) (urges) or inclinations

 

What masters me? Whatever I lean into, think on, focus on, becomes my consuming desire or craving, and that is what masters me. Whatever I feed the most.

 

What motivates my choice:

 

Craving of the body -Eccl. 6:7 We work to feed our appetites; Meanwhile our souls go hungry.

 

 

Craving of the soul – Gal. 5:16 My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness.

 

Tomorrow when you awake which do you choose to feed first?  PlannerHooley

 

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POSTPONED – Today’s Interview Postponed – Internet Down

Thanks for all the warm support, but the blog radio’s internet is down so there will be no  7043interview today.

The host may be able to reschedule or the interview may be postponed until June.

I’m disappointed, but thankful y’all let me know you are in my corner.

Delores

 

POSTPONED-   blog radio interview with Patti Shene – 9:00 Wisconsin time.    http://ow.ly/LSHJ2 (a re-run will take our spot today)

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After Losing a Child – Creating a Living Memory

Imagine hearing your neighbor died. You went to his burial so you know it was real. And Laxexpthen you hear: Lazarus is back. He’s alive!

Our Lazarus Experiment group is revisiting the Biblical story, and from Easter on out, for 40 days experiment how to live a resurrection life.

If that were my experience, would I live differently?

You know I would.

I would have a new normal.

 

Major experiences in my life changed me to have a new normal.  kendee001

 

When Ken and I fell in love – we had a new normal.

 

 

 

 

 

When we understood that Christ’s sacrificial death was personal – we had a new normal.  TombCalvary

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our3kidsWhen each of our three children was born – we had a new normal.

 

 

 

 

When our grandson, David, was diagnosed with cancer and 5 years later when we lost him  DavidWorkout– there was a new normal.

 

When I became guardian for my abusive mom, there were lots of new normals…Mommeapart

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now, with the loss of our daughter, Laurie, live has again radically changed.

Each of these changes caused me to look at others’ lives with new understanding and empathy.

Before our recent tragic experience, I used to wonder when I visited others who had lost a   laurieflowerchild, why most had some kind of a memorial spot, or a tribute, some so elaborate they resembled a shrine. I never knew what to say, and sometimes the displays made me feel uncomfortable.

Grief is a foreign language until death or sorrow come to translate.

Now I am beginning to understand.

And  other parents now understand why I searched my files and collected Laurie’s emails into a notebook. They get why I long to gather all our pictures of her into a book….and why some of her possessions like a plaque of “It Is Well With My Soul,” her Bible, and music she listened to on the way to work and things she made have become extra precious. Because they all newly remind me of what she found touching and meaningful.

Friends and family have given treasures including photos and a video I didn’t have, a silver flute charm now on my keychain, a rose from her garden, a meaningful necklace she treasured, and stories about Laurie to add to my own.

All of these are healing and comforting and though I no longer have her physical presence, bring confirmation that although some parts of our life have changed, several remain the same such as our children always being embedded in our hearts and lives. That will never change.

 

An American Indian saying is “They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind.” MiniGardenIf you have lost a child and have not yet created some type of living memorial, there are many ways you can treasure and honor their memories.

I am making a memorial herb garden.

For Mom I made a memory video that Laurie and I drove around and showed to her elderly relatives. We made a gift of a  memory book for David’s parents. But there are so many other ideas —do a memorial release with balloons or birds, or butterflies, — create a card or token such as a pin or locket that can be shared with others — buy or create a special candle to light on holidays — write out memories or stories to review from time to time — or do something specific for others in their memory that they would have loved to do themselves (one friend gave a birthday party in her child’s memory for children who would not otherwise have such an experience).

But getting back to Lazarus, I realize he was a Christ follower as well as a friend, and I find comfort in the assurance that Laurie was too.   I think Lazarus had a new thoughtfulness as he might have attended burials of friends or family. I also know what my daughter thought tender and appropriate and what she termed “woo-woo.” I don’t mean these thoughts and ideas to be macabre or depressing, or suggest that we idealize our loved ones memory in unrealistic ways. But we do want to remember memories and qualities about those we’ve lost in ways that bring honor and thankfulness for what we had with them.

 

Throughout the Bible, God and people designated or created memorials to keep alive  gardenartcrossremembrance of a particular event or person.  The cross reminds us of the hope Christ gave. Laurie helped me design this garden cross made with nails by a friend in MI. It is now painted and stands by a floral bush she planted for me one Mother’s Day.

Certainly without these things we will still remember our loved one, but creating a living memorial can remind us in the craziness of life to look about and mark the times and places that love was known and love was shown. It is a way to honor and respect to keep their memories alive.

 

What types of memorials have you found touching and meaningful?

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A Dozen Ways to Listen

Most people do not listen with the intent to    OS02027understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Stephen R. Covey

How should we listen?  How do we like to be listened to?

  1. Esteem (respect) the other and react (live) in peace with them – I Thessalonians 5:13

  2. Listen without interrupting and consider your response before verbalizing it James 1:19

  3. Pray for them while they speak – Colossians 1:9 2038

  4. Don’t argue (with the one speaking or with God as He speaks to you)       Acts 9:15

  5. Tell the truth with love and grace – Ephesians 4:15

  6. Thank God no matter what you hear before you answer – I Thessalonians 5:18

  7. Curb reacting so that no unwholesome words 7034come from you – Ephesians 4:29

  8. Listen for whatever is pure or right or good – Philippians 4:8

  9. Look for the ‘speck’ in your own eye – Matthew 7:3

  10. If you must admonish, do so with patience – I Thessalonians 5:14

  11. Pay attention and keep silent – Job 33:31

  12. Hear with a tender and forgiving heart – Ephesians 4:32 Mombling

 

Are you listening?

 

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After Losing a Child – Lessons from a Storm

I wonder if I will ever be done saying goodbye to our daughter. Perhaps not.  Laurie (12)

 

Last night I drove through some scary storms. Rain pelting down so hard that even leaning into the windshield and squinting, I could barely see the road. Wind blowing from the side. Lightning all around.

Just keep on. Slow down if you have to, but don’t stop.

Phone calls (thank God for in-car calling) warning of tornadoes heading our way. Other calls assuring of prayers.

Storm watch station giving constant warnings.

More calls from friend in car behind us with quiet encouragement.

I’ve got your back. Just keep going. With God’s help we will get through it.

Muscles bunching. Stiff neck, sore shoulders, back aching. Hands white-knuckled on the wheel.

Tension building.  1-carflood

Prayers flying upward. Oh God, help.

GPS says go that way – water looks unsafe – go the other way instead. Now try this way – but warnings and detours abound.

Get to higher ground. Get counsel. You do NOT have to do this alone.

We pulled off, turns out, just above a badly flooded area. Called our son and got a new perspective. Struck out again, but feeling

Hopeful. I believe I will make it to the other side of the storm.

We arrived home safely, yet feeling totally wrung out. A 5 hour drive had taken 7 but seemed like forever.

Tomorrow I will be picking up some of my daughter’s clothing to bring to a dear friend   IMG_2812who offered to make a couple lap robes from them. I anticipate another storm, but head there having heard the lessons. The Lord has my back and I am fixed to the rock. Two friends are coming along. I am hopeful that with His presence, and their help and counsel, I will make it through the storm.

Matt. 7:25 Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but it did not fall.

It was fixed to the rock.

 

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After Losing a Child – Birds, Dimes, Dreams and Life

We who have lost a loved one longs for that missing presence, and I believe God sends us Laurie at Ikeacomfort regarding our loved one. Several have told me stories of their after-experiences:

 

A child shared the comfort of a precious dream of a sibling who had died. In the dream she walked toward him smiling, healthy and whole, but curious at his sadness. She assured him that she was fine, that all was well, and when he said that their mother was devastated she appeared surprised and told him not to worry – that the mother also would be comforted.

Author friend Susan Mead, who experienced several losses in her family, wrote in her book Dance with Jesus – from Grief to Grace – how her dream of her son breakdancing with Jesus brought her peace.

Dimes – one mom asked her daughter to leave a dime so she would know of a visit and over a decade later she continues to find dimes in unexpected ways and in “weird places.”

Birds – several people claim that a visit from a cardinal is a sign from a loved one. A IMG_5820recently married couple –both widowed – have had multiple cardinal sightings. They find the birds to be a reminder to treasure life and to keep alive the memories of those who passed on.

 

I also had several experiences – one was the flute. Just before Christmas I was anticipating the difficulty of getting through our traditional music time as our daughter Laurie played the flute, son the guitar and daughter-in-law the piano. I dropped off a young lady to an appointment at the hospital, promising to wait for her in the foyer after I parked the car. A short handsome African man appeared from between cars in the parking lot, and walked alongside me, asking how we kept warm in WI.

He was here from Florida to see his mother who had depression as her third son had died. I sympathized and explained I’d also recently lost a child and before that a grandchild. I carry a card our grandson requested before he died, with his spiritual journey. I offered the fellow one, and He commented that David was a spiritual man and said he and his mother both were spiritual too. We then parted and I’d sat to wait when he reappeared at my side 1-FamilyJam2010saying, “I think you need a song today.” “A song?” I asked, and he pulled a wooden flute out of his jacket and played an old hymn. He seemed distressed when I began sobbing. I told him my daughter played the flute and I turned to get a Kleenex from my purse. When I looked up again, he was gone.

 

These unique experiences (a minute sampling) are comforting for the moment but what do we cling to the rest of the time? The important thing I believe all our stories is that they point to a scriptural truth in the story of Lazarus. (John chapter 11) Remember when Martha was telling Jesus that her brother would have lived if Jesus had come sooner? Jesus was trying to tell Martha that while her brother’s body had died, his soul still lived. Martha thought he referred to the body’s resurrection and Jesus told her “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.”

 

Wow. Jesus acknowledged that our bodies die, but also challenged our understanding that  our essence or soul never dies the way the body dies.

 

We have been given these words to be assured and certain that what God says in His Word is true. He says

 

He is not the God of the dead but of the living  Laurie (12)

And

To die is gain (while we are in the body we can only walk by faith, not by sight)

 

Believing those words, it’s come to me anew that though her body is gone from me, my child is totally alive – more alive than I am as she is totally in His presence.  Totally in His presence.  Totally and fully alive.

In honor of those truths, and the scripture that says when we are absent from the body we are present with the Lord. Alive. I’ve evidence from my daughter’s life that she believed that and wanted me to fully grasp it as well.  Thus my prayer, while I am still here is to be

Fully alive in Your Spirit,
Lord, make me fully alive.
Fully aware of Your presence, Lord,
Totally, fully alive.

 

Lyrics to Fully Alive by Bill Gaither

 

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