There is a Place in Grief I Can’t Allow Myself to Stay for Long

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What I am learning about grief is that there really seems to be no rhyme or reason nor any timeline it follows.  For the last year and a half or so when a memory would sneak up on me I maybe would get misty eyes, smile, and then go on.   The last few weeks the lonely feeling of missing my father is wanting to just hang around.  The way my brain works I always want to understand the “why” in everything.   There is so much happening in our country and in our world that would have deeply affected my father.  Everyday I see something on the news that I feel a thankfulness that God has protected my kind hearted father from seeing.  The day he was rushed to the Emergency Room I asked to go right in to see him.  As I entered that ER room and saw his lifeless body I felt an overwhelming comfort that God took him on home to protect him.  His face was completely relaxed, even with resuscitative tubing and wires he looked like there was no trauma, no pain, and only complete peace.  He was now home with Jesus.

A couple weeks ago I woke up feeling much like I am even again today.  I just can’t stop crying.  The desire to take a long walk and talk to my dad about so many things has been stronger than it’s been since he passed.   This particular day I actually made mention of how I was feeling on social media.  Sometimes I think we try to portray a false sense of what our lives are to the rest of the world and we don’t spend enough time being real.  Not a feel sorry for me type of real or negative.  Just a “hey I am human and life hurts sometimes” type of real.  As I sat watching our youngest daughter and her friends swim that day this butterfly kept coming around and landing on me.  It was gray underneath, but when it opened it’s wings I saw flashes of bright orange.  It kept landing on my hand and finally settled on my thumb for what had to at least have been five minutes.  I was actually able to capture several pictures using my other hand.  My thoughts were that this butterfly was a gift from God to bring comfort.  My father was always big on walking and holding his little girls hands.  He loved to hold my mother’s hand and each of his daughters hands.  This butterfly demonstrated the same gentleness.  I later posted a picture on social media and had friends who also had the immediate thought that this was my needed comfort sent straight from heaven that day.

Another reason I am feeling sad I am sure is that another chapter of my parent’s life together is closing.  Since I was the age of five my parents have gone camping in a town where they use to live in the very early years of their marriage.  After thirty seven seasons and six different campers my mom has come to the conclusion that it is time to sell the current trailer.  It is time and she has my full support, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t make me sad.  My father loved to camp, fish, loved this campground, this town, and so many people in it.  There are shadows and shadows of memories there and echoes of hours of laughter.  My family and I just spent a couple days there as one last time to camp.  While swimming in the campground pool something caught my eye.  With a closer look there on the very edge of the pool was a butterfly just like this one.  Cora noticed it too and said “hey that is the same kind of butterfly that was landing on you!”  I smiled and said “yes, that is a Papa butterfly.”  With that the butterfly took off briefly landed on a towel and was gone.

God knows our every need.  If we are paying attention to Him we will see and feel our comforts sent straight from heaven.  Everything is in God’s hands and no matter what happens in this life my hope is in the Lord!!!   Psalms 30:5b  “weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

One evening while there I went down to the dock on the lake feeling this looming sense of loss and sadness.  As I looked at the empty fishing boat my father spent hours in and the lake he had spent countless hours fishing in everything grew very still.  The lake was reflective as I too reflected on so many memories.  The silence and stillness God gave in that moment was yet again a precious gift and it was as if God said “it is ok the lake misses him too, you can miss him.”  Precious gifts sent from heaven…  One day I will get to walk with my father along the crystal seas of heaven.  Thank you God for the greatest gift sent from heaven Jesus, your Son, sent to die for a sinner like me.  He overcame sin and death by rising again!!  Because of Jesus there is hope even in sadness, loss, and death.  Joy comes in the morning!!

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A Gift From Lonzo

Lonzo

My daughter recently had the opportunity to go on a mission trip with a group from our church.  Sending your child off to another country isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do and for her birthday to be while she was gone just added to my concerns.  From the day my first child was born I have considered myself just the caretaker and that my children are first and foremost God’s.  God has just given my husband and I the honor and responsibility of caring for them.  Knowing that she was going to serve, give to others, and that she was with an amazing group of people actually made sending her off fairly easy.

Social media has it’s faults, but one of it’s good qualities was getting to see the pictures from the trip roll across my news feed daily.  Of course I did a lot of creeping on the pages of those who were on the trip to get any information I could as well.  The day of her birthday this sweet picture came across my Facebook news feed.   As I got more of the story I learned that this sweet young man had stopped and caught a fish as a gift for Michaela.  He wanted to give her something so he gave what he could and what he had.   You can see by the glimmer in both of their eyes that this gift brought so much joy to each of them as it did for the entire mission team.

Last Sunday evening our church had a service for the team to share about the trip.  The fish from Lonzo was mentioned as was the generosity of these children who have very little to give.  What is given to them they often turn around and give right back.  It was mentioned that Lonzo walked thirty minutes up a mountain to go to the Vacation Bible School being held by our group.  He had worn out tennis shoes and often wore the same clothes.   As I listened my heart was touched even more by this sweet boy’s generosity and how he put such a great smile on my daughter’s face.  We can’t bring Lonzo to our home, but the thought occurred that we can get another fish.  Michaela’s fish Jerry was unable to make the trip home.

At the first opportunity I went to the pet store and purchased a small fish bowl and fish as a surprise.  My one request was that we name the fish Lonzo.   The look on my daughter’s face said it all as she saw the fish and heard its name.  Our eyes connected for what seemed like minutes and her look said it all.  It was a heart warming momma moment that seems more and more rare the older she gets.

We have done well caring for our turtles and our dogs.  Fish on the other hand, we have a few things to learn so we will most likely have Lonzo 1-100, but it is the thought and the memory that is the true gift.  Lonzo’s actual gift was short term, but his thoughtfulness, generosity, sacrifice, and joy he gave is eternal.  The little boy who wanted to give so he gave what he had and all that he really had to give.

Eternal gifts and treasure in heaven…

Matthew 6:19-20 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Just Praying that my Pants Stay up

As God continues to answer my prayers on a daily basis I had to blog about a very minor prayer request He answered today.  Of course it really could have been a huge distraction to His praise and worship!!!

In our second church service today as the choir finished it’s song I folded my music folder and started placing it on my choir chair to head down to sing with the praise team.   As I did my folder hit the top of my pants.  This pair of pants does not have a button above the zipper.  This pair of pants merely has two hooks that just slide to secure my britches.  Somehow my folder released the hooks from their secure placement and I felt a release at my waist line.  A feeling of paranoia set in as I became fearful that the zipper would now work its way down and my pants would fall while singing…ON STAGE…ON LIVESTREAM!!  Now that would not be glorifying to my Lord and Savior at all!!!   My prayer was “Dear Lord please keep my pants from falling down!”

My pants did  stay up Praise the Lord!!!  My youngest said the last song was so powerful today with the last chorus sung acapella. I told her I felt the same way in both services.  Such a beautiful sound of all those voices singing God’s praise!!  We raised the roof to God’s glory and… my pants stayed raised!!

Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

How Should a Christian React?

Now more than ever I have been praying and asking God what He needs me to say and do in the times we are living in.  My life’s perspective comes from growing up under the love and care of a Bible believing God fearing Preacher and his wife.  I chose to follow Jesus at the age of five.  Through my mid teens to mid twenties I definitely tested the boundaries and truth of God’s word only to come to the realization that I am so weak, God truly loves me, the Bible is 100% truth, and God wants the best for me. My career for the last twenty years has been that of a non-judgmental nurse.  During my career I have cared for convicts in shackles that have committed rape and murder.  There have been people under my care from every lifestyle, skin color, ethnicity, and religion.  There have been multiple infectious diseases and horrific smells I have been exposed to.  People have hit me, spit at me, cursed me, and harassed me.  I have cleaned every nook and cranny of the human body of complete strangers.  My co-workers that I work and have worked alongside as a team are from many lifestyles, beliefs, and back grounds.

With new man-made laws and people shutting out God and His Word more than ever I feel at such a loss as to what to say and do.

There are people I love with all sorts of life styles.  I don’t always agree with the choices of people I truly love.  It doesn’t mean I don’t love them, but I feel a strong conviction to never say sin is ok or to encourage it.  When I have a patient that is diabetic I discourage them from eating a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates.  When I have a patient who smokes I encourage them to quit for their well being.  When I have a patient dying from alcoholism I am not going to encourage them to go to a bar. You get the picture I hope.

Even the meanest patients I have cared for had a story.  There is always a reason behind behaviors and choices.   Only by praying for God to help me look at others with His love can I make it through the day.  There are ways to speak kindly and in a non judgmental manner, but I have to rely completely on God providing the right words and tone of voice.   As soon as I don’t look to God and His word for guidance I mess up, say things the wrong way, and react in ways that I really don’t want to.

There are two specific examples of the life of Jesus from scripture that keep coming to mind as I wonder how I should react in a world that clearly hates the faith every last ounce of me fully believes in and knows to be true.  Jesus stood up for His Father’s house that was being misused.  The sacred house of worship and prayer had been turned into a place for money making and thieving.  Matthew 21:12-13 “Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.  ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘ my house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.’ ” (John 2:15 and Mark 11:15-17 are further references)  There will be times when God and His word are clearly being disgraced and I pray that God will give me the courage to stand up and stand firm.

When the time came for Jesus to be arrested, tried (unfairly), beaten and crucified he was silent.  The few words He spoke were very purposeful and not defensive. He knew the greater plan God had and silently allowed what was happening because He knew it was for the greater good of those who would chose Him.   Matthew 26:62-67 “Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?’ But Jesus remained silent.  The high priest said to him, ‘I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God. ‘  ‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied.  ‘ But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’  Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has spoken blasphemy!  Why do we need any more witnesses?  Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.  What do you think?’  ‘He is worthy of death,’ they answered.  Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists.  Others slapped him.”

Isaiah 53:7 prophesied “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

There are times the Holy Spirit tells me to be silent.  The bible tells us that Christians will be persecuted and that the world will hate followers of Christ as much as it hates Jesus Christ.  My prayer is for God to show me the times to stand up and stand firm and for Him to show me when to be silent and allow His plan to unfold.