FROM MY HEART TO YOURS

tl-from-my-heart-to-yoursFebruary is a rough month for me – I’ll just admit it.  It’s a time when I remember a lot of happy times that I’ll never get back.  My mom’s birthday was the 15th and my dad’s birthday was the 21st – just a week apart!  I always baked a heart-shaped cake for my mom – and put pink or red icing on it with little red-hot candies.  We never had fancy celebrations, but we had each other and that’s what really mattered.  I can’t remember any of the gifts I gave her, but I remember the love in the room while she opened each of them.  ❤

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My dad loved German chocolate cake – and I’m not a baker – so to the boxed cake aisle I’d go to pick up a mix and some icing – although I’m not sure you can call that icing – I suppose it is…  that coconut concoction.  LOL!  Dad’s cake was a simple 9×13 sheet cake – I never made a cake that had to be stacked – I’m practical – and if that puppy had to ride in the car with me – it was going to be a sheet cake!  ❤

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Dad’s Birthday 2-21-85

I have memories recorded on 8mm film – which a few years back I had put on DVD.  There’s no sound, but I can read lips just fine.  I remember every word, even though I can’t hear their voices.  I can’t hear their voices…  but I will hear them again.  I’m not without hope – nope. 

I’ve made a sort of study out of this grief journey.  This blog is one manifestation of my grief experience.  I hope it’s made me more empathetic to others, if nothing else.  When people you love die, you don’t have anywhere for that love to go anymore.  This month I went out to the cemetery and replaced the flowers – but there were no hugs, no smiles, no warm greetings.  Thankfully, there was no snow, or it would have been colder still.  There’s nothing quite so cold and, well, dead…  as a cemetery.  Without faith to sustain, it would appear that it’s all over and there’s no hope.  Ah, but there is faith – there is hope.  I’m not without hope – nope. 

One of these days my Savior will come for me and all who have asked Him into their hearts and lives.  Whether I have the opportunity to live out a full life and die – or get snatched up and fly away…  it really doesn’t matter because I’m going to see Christ face to face.  These memories I hang on to for now…  well, I won’t need those anymore.  I’m not going to pretend to know exactly what lies ahead – but I trust God, through my Savior – and whatever it is…  it’s okay by me.  ❤

Here’s what I do know.  I will see my family again – and it’s going to be great because there will be hugs, smiles, and warm greetings – and we will never have to say good-bye again!  ❤

A Prayer for the Grieving

Lord, please come sit with me today. I need you now as I’m so sad. My heart can’t take much more. Just let me feel again. God, please heal my broken heart. In the quietness, I feel closest to you. Help me to serve others despite the pain. Let peace and love surround all who grieve today, tomorrow and always. I trust you to carry me through this long journey of grief and pain. Thank you for allowing me to share the life of my precious loved one. Please give me comfort in my pain, your love to see me through, and your strength to keep me going. Amen.

When they died, I thought I might too.  But somewhere along the way, the memories took over where the pain was once so raw I thought I couldn’t stand it.  ❤

You know, everyone in school was a bit jealous of me because I was an only child and didn’t have to “share” anything with siblings when I was at home – but let me tell ya…  there’s a flip side to being the only one – it’s lonely when you realize you’re responsible for everything.  I relied so heavily on my parents, not only for moral support, but for spiritual support.  I knew they prayed for me every day.  I miss those prayers so much.  ❤

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.  – Psalm 31:9

God has shown mercy to us more times than we can count or probably recall.  I wonder if there are times He is merciful to us and we don’t acknowledge it.  Regardless of what’s going on in our lives, we need to remember that God is good.  Life is not always going to go smoothly.  We will be distressed and feel weak with sorrow from time to time.  Grief over the passing of loved ones is a very real part of life, but we must not place blame on God for what we feel.  ❤

I don’t know a person who has “arrived” to the point where they separate their trials and temptations with how they’re feeling; however, I do know some pretty wonderful Christians who know how to feel what they feel without losing their grasp on their faith in God through His Son, Christ Jesus.  They see their circumstances – and they see their God.  Instead of telling God how big their circumstances are, they tell their circumstances how BIG their GOD is!  Ah-ha!!!  Now see…  that’s the kind of Christian I wanna be.  ❤thankful-still

Yes there will be some rough waters – but God’s grace and mercy in your life are there to help you through them.  Ask God to adjust your sails and set you on the right course.  I’ve never sailed, yet I’m using this analogy…  interesting.  I’ve heard some folks say you have to adjust your own sails – no – ask the Father to do it.  He’s more than happy to help you with that.  Lean and depend on His wisdom and His power because – hey – He knows the future.  Do you know the future?  I don’t.  ❤

We are blessed with God’s precious grace and mercy as we travel through life.  It’s not always smooth sailing (again with the sailing) – but I’ll tell you – the ANCHOR HOLDS.  I love that song and that truth.  ❤

I have journeyed

Through the long dark night

Out on the open sea

By faith alone

Sight unknown and yet his eyes were watching me

CHORUS

The anchor holds

Though the ship is battered the anchor holds

Though the sails are torn

I have fallen on my knees

As I faced the raging seas

The anchor holds

In spite of the storm

I’ve had visions

I’ve had dreams

I’ve even held them in my hand but I never knew

They would slip right through

Like they were only grains of sand

CHORUS

I have been young but I am older now

And there has been beauty these eyes have seen but it was in the night

Through the storms of my life Oh that’s where God proved his love to me

Christ will never lie – He will never play tricks on us – He is dependable and He wants only the best for us…  that much I know for sure.  He alone is worthy of our praise.  Praise His name!  ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

BLUE CHRISTMAS

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Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  – Matthew 5:4

Blue Christmas services include an emphasis on candles, with people in the congregation invited to come forward and light a candle in memory of someone or to mark an event in their lives. Some will say words out loud, others in silent prayer. Candles are also sometimes lit as prayers or Scripture readings are recited.

I appreciate these types of outreach services for a couple of reasons.  I lost my granny LaVella on Christmas day when I was just a little girl.  Christmas is not a happy cheery time.  I miss that sweet woman every day and it’s a shame that the timing was that way, but it’s not a loss I’ll just get over and go on.  And, I may get some raised eyebrows, but I’m just gonna say it…  Christ came to earth as a baby, an infant – and most people are really cool with that.  I have a tendency to cry at all things “baby” – and it’s not that I don’t understand things on a theological level – but at the heart level – the “I’m a woman” level…  it’s difficult to sit through a traditional Christmas program.

I used to think I just had to suck it up, buttercup.  At one time I worked with children to help them with choir performances at Christmas.  There were times I thought I’d lose it.  I’d go home and cry uncontrollably.  I just thought I had to tough things out.  All I was really doing was making things worse for myself.  Did God really expect that of me?  Did He really?

I did some soul-searching and prayed a long time about it.  God did not expect me to self-inflict pain and agony.  Nowhere in my Bible does it say thou shalt inflict pain on thyself.  I’m to love and care for people – but there are other ways to do that, right?  I’ve since found other ministries that allow me to be whole.  That’s what God wants me to be…  whole in Him.  I had to find ways to serve the Lord that are less painful on my heart and mind.

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I appreciate the Blue Christmas services.  It’s especially for people who deal with grief around Christmas.  We’re allowed to feel what we feel and as we feel, we heal.  It’s not a denial of the facts of Christmas – it’s just not rubbing our noses in it – if that makes sense.  I don’t have to sit through an excruciating reenactment of the events that took place in Bethlehem.  It’s good for people with children, and I believe it’s great for children to be involved.  I just had to excuse myself from it – before it sent me over the edge.  I’m glad I did.  I’m at peace like never before.  In a traditional setting, I always felt as though nobody understood my tears except God.  When I’m sitting with others who feel the same way I do – and some who suffer recent losses…  I not only feel understood, but I’m there to understand what they’re going through.

Please do not think I’m somehow diminishing a traditional Christmas program.  I’m not.  I would, however, encourage more congregations to be more inclusive of people who feel deep sorrow at Christmas.  I understand that it’s basically what a Christmas Eve candlelight service & Lord’s Supper is for…  but there’s something about being allowed to say your loved one’s name out loud.  Here in America we’re not very comfortable letting each other talk about a loss – or say the name of a loved one out loud.  Why IS that?  I’m just saying, you know that when someone loses a loved one – that person is going to be the only thought in their mind, right?  So, why not have one extra service at Christmas just for those who are grieving?  Why are American churches so afraid of doing that?  I guess I just don’t understand.  I would invite more churches to consider a BLUE CHRISTMAS service.  Yeah – it’s a bummer – but guess what?  Speaking as one who chooses to attend the Blue Christmas service…  it’s healing.  God smiles when His children have needs met by the church – which, if I remember right, is to be the hands and feet of Christ in ministry.  I think I remember that being the case.

Father God, Your heart beats for the vulnerable and for those who are alone. Help us to love Your people as You love them, for we are made in Your image.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

This is for my granny.  She liked Elvis.  If Elvis is in Heaven, maybe they’re singing duets, who knows?  🙂

blue-christmas-prayerWhile my family is in Heaven saying Happy Birthday to Jesus…  I’ll just stay here and say Merry Christmas to you!  🙂

MATTHEW 10:28 ON 10/28

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Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  – Matthew 10:28

Several friends and acquaintances of mine have recently been diagnosed with terminal illness.  I feel such sadness and heaviness in my heart for them – but I never know the right words to say.  I think back to the time when my dad had terminal pancreatic cancer.  He was dying and we all knew it.  I tried to remember what it was like to be on the other side of the situation – as a family member.  I don’t remember a lot of what people said – but I remember more of what people did.  It was the same thing when my mom passed.  People shared of themselves – they shared light and love when I was a mess.share-light-love

Everyone was kind and encouraging to me – but a few people actually DID things and I remember that.  When my daddy died, a sweet lady in our church not only sent flowers, she included a little ceramic pumpkin for me to keep after the flowers died.  I let her know I thought that was real nice of her.  When my mama passed, even though there were not that many people coming to our house, our pastoral family went above and beyond the call of duty to provide sandwich stuff!  Oh my we did not go hungry!  I remember my sister-in-law and brother-in-law washing dishes and thinking that was so kind of them.

If our loved one knows the Lord, we know they are going to be alright.  We know that they are going to Heaven where everything is just right.  The soul does not die – but lives on – but the family that is left…  well, they are left here to figure out how to begin a new “normal”.   I always ask God how I can help them do that.  I ask God, “What can I DO for them?”

When families suffer loss and are at their lowest, isn’t that when Christian folk can shine the light of Christ in their lives in a very real sense?  Words are fine, but actions are better and make more of an impact on their lives.  After a loss, everything is fuzzy when you’re trying to listen to kind words.  Most of the talk just flies over your head.  You hear what people are saying, but you’re just so grief-stricken, you can’t process what’s being said.

So – how do you avoid hell and make Heaven your eternal home?   Open the closet door where you keep the secrets and sins.  It’s not easy to show God what is inside your closet.  Think about this though – He already knows about it, so…  who do you really think you’re foolin’?  We are so human – but the good news is…  He is so GOD!  If you ask God, through His Son, Christ Jesus, to forgive you of your sins – He is faithful and just to do it.  Trust Him for the rest of your days – and for the time when this life is over.

whats-in-your-closetI pray that you know the Lord as your personal Savior.  This life is brief and these bodies are so very frail and fragile, aren’t they?  I also believe we are living in the last days (I see some of you rolling your eyes) – yeah, I know I’ve said it before – but I’m going to say it again.  Be ready, for you know not the hour.  Did you know that Jesus doesn’t even know?  He’s waiting for the Father to tell Him when to come get us outa here!  It would be selfish for me to say I hope it’s soon because many are not ready – and He doesn’t want any to perish in hell.  He wants everyone to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and ask Him into their hearts and lives.  THEN – only then will the peace of God wash over you and your life will never be the same.  The peace of God surpasses all understanding.  I hope and pray you know HIS peace in your life.  🙂

PREGNANCY & INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH

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After 5 miscarriages in the first 10 years of marriage…  I had some pretty heated conversations with God.  You know what I learned?  I learned that when you are in pain and you’ve suffered loss, God is a very patient companion.  He never judged me for being hurt.  He never judged me for being angry – even at Him.  He just kept loving me.  It was a loooooooooooooong road through the anxiety and depression, but with God’s help – I’m better.images14xaj8uo

Is it easy to see the women my age posting photos of themselves with their grandkids?  Oh no, it sure is not.  Sometimes today I still ask God why I wasn’t “GOOD ENOUGH” to be a mom – and apparently all my friends from school were.  I know that isn’t really how it works, but it sure feels like it is the way it works sometimes.  It feels like a punishment, to be honest.

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The proverbial lightning struck me…  ZAP – you’ll never be a mother, a grandmother, or a great-grandmother…  etc.   BOOM!  I felt done and I isolated myself on purpose from grandparents everywhere.  It was too painful to be around the fortunate ones.  Does anyone understand this?  If it really was a REAP and SOW type of deal, wouldn’t a lot more women be in this situation?  Jus’ sayin’…

imagesl0sp8xt1As awful as it was to experience disappointment x 5, I cannot even imagine the pain of a woman who has given birth and that child is stillborn.  I can’t fathom the pain.  I’m so very sorry to all who have gone through that.imagesy75lazb9

People say loss is loss…  not true.  I never met my children, so I suspect my life got back to “normal” much more quickly.  I know they are in Heaven being spoiled rotten by their grandparents.  I have a lot of hugs and kisses to give when I get there.  I’ll be very busy for a long time.  But I know they’re okay – so I’m going to be okay too.  I will.  God is good all the time.images-41

I’m not mad at God anymore.  That’s a losing battle anyway.  I got tired of feeling angry at my Creator for something I simply don’t understand and never will.  It stings to see all the grandma pictures on facebook – I won’t lie.  But it’s simply not God’s plan for me, I guess.

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1 in 4 women experience the loss of a child.  This month, let a grieving mom know that she’s loved.  Let her know that God’s sent angels to surround and protect her.  Remind her that God still loves her and is not punishing her even though I’ll bet a few still feel as though it is a punishment.  It’s not.  It’s really not.images-43

As strange as it sounds, it makes me feel better to know that my kids are with their grandparents – but especially that they are with Jesus.  We’ve all seen the sweet artist renditions of Jesus with the little children.  He loved them the best because they are the most innocent humans.  He loves them because they have not learned how to lie or steal or do bad things yet.  They speak only truth and although sometimes the truth they speak can be hurtful (I know, I taught Sunday School)…  they mean what they say and they won’t sugar-coat it.  That’s why Jesus loves them, and that’s why I respect them so much.images-44

We’re supposed to be training them up – but I think there’s a great deal we as adults could learn from them, don’t you?  🙂  images-45

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  – 1 Peter 5:7

Be sensitive to other women.  You may not have all the facts about the path they walk.  Don’t be so quick to judge them or dismiss them.  A childless woman has moments of jealousy because she wants what you take for granted.  When that happens, try to overlook it, but the best thing you can do is just pray for her.  🙂

 

PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORD

TL 12-1 PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORDAre you a griever?  Do you know another griever?  Maybe part of preparing your heart and mind for the birthday of Christ should include a conversation with another griever.  It really does take one to know one, and we feel so much better if we can share a Christmas memory.  Some memories make us laugh, others make us cry – but they are all so very precious and we hold them close – especially during the Advent season.

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I’m fortunate to have many friends who are grieving the loss of loved ones.  I’m even more blessed to have the freedom to talk about the loved ones I miss this year.  More importantly, however, I try to be a good listener as well – and let them talk about their loved ones.  Sometimes we tell the same stories over again, but that’s okay.  By repeating those tales, we keep them alive in our hearts and minds.

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It took me a long time to come to terms with this, but even though my loved ones have gone to heaven, it is still the same Spirit that watches over us.  Of course, they know God in all His beauty and splendor now – and I still see as through a glass dimly…  but the day will come when we will both be in His presence.  That is the hope we hang our hat on, isn’t it?

THE SAME SPIRITGrieving people don’t mind if their grieving friends shed a tear or two – and usually they both shed tears in empathy.  There is no shame in that…  we got so used to certain traditions and happy times with these people – and they’re now gone.  It hurts – that’s just the heart of the matter.  ❤

God of compassion,

There is such a hole in my heart!  Today should be a day of joy, but I feel only the emptiness and loss of someone so beloved.  While the world celebrates around me, I remember Christmas celebrations of the past and I long to have my loved one with me.  I bring my sorrows to you, Lord, like some odd gift of the magi and dump them at your feet.   In my blind tears I wonder if anyone can possibly understand the depth of my sadness. Yes, you can.  You sent your son to be with us in our deepest sorrows and I know that even though I might not feel it at this minute, you are here with me, grieving with me, caring for me in my sadness and loving me.  Dearest lord, help me to turn to the one I miss so much today and speak.  Help me heal the loss of our parting and help me not to regret the things I didn’t say.  Sorrow tears at my heart, but today I ask that my loss soften my heart and make me more compassionate with everyone I meet.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

CELEBRATION IN HEAVENWe’re blue when our loved ones are not around at Christmas time.  We can’t help but think of the past – old traditions and fun times with family that will never happen again.  I know heaven is a beautiful place and would never wish for them to come back here – but by the same token, I really miss them!  😦

I WILL MISS YOU…

TL I WILL MISS YOU

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WHAT DID KATE WHISPER

Maureen O’Hara passed away on October 24th, 2015.  She was 95 years old.  The spunky green-eyed, red-headed actress was best known for playing fiercely passionate but sensible heroines, and often worked with director John Ford and longtime friend John Wayne. She was one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

O’Hara was born in Dublin, so when she played the role of Kate in “The Quiet Man”, it was a genuine and sincere performance.  It’s tradition in our house to watch the popular movie every St. Patrick’s Day.  Rarely do you see a true connection between actors – but in this film, you can tell that Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne have a true connection and worked well together.

Have you seen “The Quiet Man”?  If so, you are probably just as curious as I am to know what Maureen O’Hara whispered in the Duke’s ear at the end of the movie!  At the film’s conclusion, after the credits, we see Kate and Sean standing in their garden waving good-bye. Maureen O’Hara turns to John Wayne and whispers something in his ear, evoking a priceless reaction from Wayne. What was said was known only to O’Hara, Wayne and director John Ford. In exchange for saying this unscripted bit of text, O’Hara insisted that the exact line never be disclosed by any involved parties. In her memoirs she says that she refused to say the line at first as she “couldn’t possibly say that to Duke”, but Ford insisted, claiming he needed a genuine shock reaction from Wayne. The line remains a mystery to this day.

I’ve tried to find out – I’ve searched and googled it…  it seems she took the secret with her – sadly.  Whatever she whispered to him – it definitely got the desired shock reaction from him!  I won’t say it’s my favorite part of the movie, but I will say – it’s the most interesting – just because I’m nosey and want to know what she whispered.  Oh well…

I miss movies that have a bit of mystery.  Ones that hold a little back and make us want more.  Nowadays – everything just hangs out, leaving us in a perpetual state of TMI overkill.  The Golden age of Hollywood is gone.  I will miss Maureen O’Hara.  🙂