BLUE CHRISTMAS

tl-12-8-blue-christmas

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.

a-blue-christmas-prayer

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!  🙂

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART1

Sometimes the choices we make are irreversible.  Once we begin walking forward, we just have to keep going and never turn around.  Those decisions are made slowly and methodically.  Make sure you give it much thought, because you know there’s no going back.  Nothing in your life will ever be the same again.  You have to ask yourself if there may be a time in the future when you’d like for things to be the way they are.  If the answer is no, then there’s no reason to stay where you are.  That’s the only time it’s okay to take action and keep walking forward.

I’ve only done that once.  I don’t care to ever do anything that painful again for the rest of my life.

I’ve learned that there are things that go wrong that don’t always get fixed or get put back together the way they were before. I’ve learned that some broken things stay broken, and I’ve learned that you can get through bad times and keep looking for better ones, as long as you have people who love you.  – Bobby Fulks

Sometimes decisions are made for us.  Things happen in life that are completely out of our control.  Life-altering experiences occur and that’s when we are left with our faith in God.  We hopefully have people in our lives who love us, but we know without a doubt that we have God…  and yes – He loves us.  He cares and He wants to hear what our hearts are feeling.  Even if what has happened leaves us frightened and angry and alone – He still wants to hear from us.

broken-til-the-end

Life is a little like on the job training.  We are born into this world – expected to perform at a certain level through school and receive a diploma which magically leads us to the pursuit of happiness.  Right?  Hang on, Sloopy…  let’s back this truck up.

Stuff happens in life because not only are we just human, but the people around us are… you guessed it…  human.  We all have dreams and expectations once we graduate.  We’re going to meet the right person to spend a lifetime with – we’re going to have this wonderful family together and we’ll fly off into fluffy white clouds in a classic car – like Danny and Sandy did at the end of the movie GREASE.

Have you ever seen a classic car fly???  I rest my case.  Just as a classic car most definitely will not fly, no woman could possibly fit into that leather outfit that Sandy wears toward the end of the movie.  I’m convinced that’s why most men want to watch that movie so many times.  Sigh.  I dunno – maybe it is to see the classic cars… 

Yes, life is like on the job training; however, most jobs are dull compared to the twists and turns that life takes.  When it seems your life is a rollercoaster ride, just keep in mind that Jesus sits at your side.  He doesn’t need a barf bag…  but there are times when you might need one.  Jus’ sayin’…

a-roller-coaster-ride

The common thread throughout this topsy turvy ride of life is LOVE.  Find LOVE – a connection that makes it all worthwhile.  Love here on earth, of course…  but know that you are loved completely by your LORD.  He knows you better than anyone, and He loves you more than anyone here ever will.  We need human love to hang in there.  We need God’s love to make us whole and give us purpose.

Finding love on this earth is so difficult.  Finding love from Heaven is so simple.  🙂

 

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (2)Wichita has had some dandy storms the past couple of days.  There’s been some damage to roofs and a couple of fences have blown over, but we’re not in the path of Hurricane Matthew!  Isn’t it strange how when it’s put into perspective, a fence being destroyed becomes small stuff?

Hurricane Matthew has killed more than 100 people in the Caribbean alone and portions of Florida have evacuated, while parts of South Carolina and Georgia still may need to evacuate.

Today’s post is a reminder to all of us to pray for those in this devastating hurricane’s path.  I want to share two poems that Lucinda wrote.

all-needs-in-all-places

how-to-sleep-through-a-stormTo be honest, I don’t sleep well during a storm, so this advice hits home with me.  We all remember the story, don’t we?  The story is shared in Matthew, Mark and Luke, but I like the account in Matthew the best.  That, and I like the irony that the hurricane’s been named Matthew.  😉

24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”  26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.  27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”  – Matthew 8:24-27

Let’s pray.

God Who not only created this world, but Who is in complete control of it,

You already know what lies ahead for each of us.  Father, You are aware of the loss of life, the loss of property, the devastation that folks in the Caribbean have suffered.  We pray for healing and for Your comfort to be with them at this time.  Lord, touch the survivors and give them an extra dose of Your peace and love, as shown by Your people.  We are Your workers, Your hands – guide us to do whatever it is that You’d have us do.  We cannot begin to know what it’s like to start all over again, building from scratch while hoping that what you build does not get destroyed.  We pray for the kind of strength and wisdom that only You can provide.  We pray for Your peace and love be showered on them as they rebuild.  Lord, hear our prayer, for we humbly ask these things in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

There’s another storm howling outside as I’m writing this.  The winds are strong, but not hurricane force.  I sit snuggly in my recliner, trying to see through my bifocals that need a serious cleaning – lol.  But, I’m safe.  I’m warm.  I’m dry.  My house is in one piece.  For all that, I am so grateful.

Take time in your busy day to pray for Hurricane Matthew victims.  May they find a supernatural strength to keep going forward.  May God bless those who lost loved ones especially.  May God bless those who lost property.  Many prayers being said for them today.  🙂

PREGNANCY & INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH

tl-october-is-pregnancy-infant-loss-awareness-month

into-our-future

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.

images8tm0ts2n

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.

images-42

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.  🙂

 

MOTHER’S DAY

MOTHER'S DAY

There are times only when a mother’s love can understand our tears,

Can soothe our disappointments and calm all our fears.

There are times when only a mother’s love can share the joy we feel

When something we’ve dreamed about quite suddenly is real.

There are times when only a mother’s faith can help on life’s way,

And inspire in us the confidence we need from day to day.

For a mother’s heart and a mother’s faith and a mother’s steadfast love

Were fashioned by the angels and sent from God above.

I’m at the point in the grieving process where I look at this day as a day of tribute to my mom.  It’s taken a long time to get to this stage, but I’m finally figuring out that my life will go on – it will just be so very different without her in it.

Last year, Lucinda wrote a poem for a lady who lost her mother.  She asked me to make a design for it and said this lady referred to her mother as her diamond.  I wish I could say I had a lovely name for my mother, but I didn’t.  My mom was my best friend, my confidant, the one I trusted more than anyone – but no, I didn’t have a pet name for her.

My first thought was, HOW PERFECT IS THAT?  It says it all, doesn’t it?  Diamonds are the most precious gem (and happens to be my birth stone)  😉

MY DIAMOND

If I could give you diamonds for each tear you cried for me;

If I could give you sapphires for each truth you’ve helped me see.

If I could give you rubies for the heartache that you’ve known,

If I could give you pearls for the wisdom that you’ve shown;

Then you’ll have a treasure, mother, that would mount up to the skies.

That would almost match the sparkles in your kind and loving eyes.

But I have no pearls, no diamonds as I’m sure you’re well aware;

So I’ll give you gifts more precious, my devotion, love and care.

10362864_274671026065852_953066682943297670_n

                                         Mama said this is the night daddy proposed.  Awe…  what a precious photo for me to have!

I know that when she entered heaven, it became a brighter place.  God provides the only light that is needed in heaven, but I believe it gets brighter every time a saint goes inside – each saint sparkles like a diamond.  I believe that she was so happy to see my daddy again.  Based on information from the book “Heaven is for Real”, I also believe that they are both 20 something and feel fantastic!  I imagine they look so happy together like this photo.  I hold it close to my heart because it brings me comfort.

My mother no longer has arthritis and has been made whole – she doesn’t need her 2 total hip replacements and will never have to take any medicine.  Bliss for eternity… how can I mourn that?  I can’t.  If and when I cry these days, it’s for myself.  I still miss them. 

 

I WILL MISS YOU…

TL I WILL MISS YOU

Doris Roberts was born Doris May Green on November 4, 1925.  She was a very talented actress, receiving five Emmy Awards and a Screen Actors Guild award during her acting career, which began in 1951.  She’s best known for her role as Raymond Barone’s mom on the popular sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, which ran from 1996-2005.  Doris died on April 17, 2016 at the age of 90.  I have seen her through the years on several programs, including a role as Jessica Fletcher’s cousin on my favorite show, Murder, She Wrote.

https://youtu.be/lR0J17LSra4

Does it crack anyone else up that the interviewer didn’t know what a SECOND BANANA was???  Sheesh…  even I know what that means.

In my opinion, Doris Roberts was not a second banana!  If she was in a movie or TV show, you knew it would be a good, wholesome, clean, funny program.  It would be something that you would not have to watch with the kids in the other room.

Here’s a filmography of Doris’ movies:

  • 1970 – NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY
  • 1970 – THE HONEYMOON KILLERS
  • 1971 – LITTLE MURDERS
  • 1976 – A NEW LEAF
  • 1976 – HESTER STREET
  • 1979 – THE STORYTELLER
  • 1979 – ONCE IN PARIS
  • 1979 – THE ROSE
  • 1989 – NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION
  • 2001 – MY GIANT
  • 2001 – ALL OVER THE GUY
  • 2003 – DICKIE ROBERTS:  FORMER CHILD STAR
  • 2006 – GRANDMA’S BOY
  • 2006 – KEEPING UP WITH THE STEINS
  • 2009 – PLAY THE GAME
  • 2009 – ALIENS IN THE ATTIC
  • 2012 – TYLER PERRY’S MADEA’S WITNESS PROTECTION

I think even more than her commanding presence, I will miss hearing her unique voice.  She had the kind of voice that was so recognizable – if I heard it on TV but was not in the room, I knew immediately who was speaking.561px-DorisRobertsApr2011

By Angela George, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15088513

There were funny women in her generation for sure…  she mentioned Thelma Ritter in that interview.  Also Mary Wickes comes to mind.  There were several “second bananas” back then – but to my way of thinking, they are funny top bananas!  Thank you, Doris Roberts, for leaving us funny moments on film because real life can be so very sad.  I will miss you!  🙂

 

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.

Click image to enlarge

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.

https://youtu.be/mz10SNKxblg

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!  😦