Why don’t we just get moving? I asked myself. Then chastised that voice. What’s wrong with me? God made him that way. He feels more comfortable if he knows what’s next.
I realized something had changed in my thought process.
I realized something had changed in my thought process. Yup….the “drugs” were beginning to wear off. Drugs? Yes. Those wonderful, dazzling, beautifully electrifying drugs that take a man and a woman on an exciting journey, when the sparks of love begin. They electrify and charge the brain, releasing endorphins that give pleasure to our heart and soul.
It was a choice and the feelings followed.
Yes, the drugs were wearing off, but love remained. The difference was in my choice. To love. Accept. Serve–even when I didn’t feel like it. It was a choice and the feelings followed. Now we’re in a period where there’s love, yes, but also commitment. Contentment. Comfortableness. Acceptance. Our drugs lasted nearly two years where both of us were blind to the blemishes in the other’s personality.
That was an attraction to both of us.
For example, both of us are planners–that was an attraction to both of us. But Jim’s planning is different than mine. He needs to take an hour by hour excursion of his day–even several times during the day. Here’s a glimpse of a morning conversation:
Jim: “Let’s think backwards and plan the day. We need to leave at 10:00.”
Me: “I need thirty minutes to get ready. Don’t forget we need to eat breakfast, too…..”
Jim: “So. We leave at 10:00, get ready at 9:30, get something to eat at 9:00, walk at 8:00. Do our devotions before that. Great! We enough time!”
In his mind, it’s all settled. He can relax. For me, it was a lot of talking and planning to just say, “We have 2 1/2 hours before we leave.”
We love each other for who we are.
But, that’s love. Letting Jim be Jim. The careful, methodical, and a bit OCD Jim–who is also very patient and kind. He needs to be, to live with me. That person who growls at the other drivers in traffic, gets all worked up when there’s a deadline, who giggles when you’re trying to be serious. Who gets impatient. That’s me. We love each other for who we are, yes. And when we wonder about the other……we choose to love. And love follows. Someone once suggested to substitute your own name where the word love is when reading the love chapter in Corinthians. Shirley is patient, Shirley is kind…..Uh oh….that isn’t me all of the time–lots of the time.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
We’ve had so much fun these past four years.
Thanks for reading my blog!
I didn’t know what to do with it.
I’ve been cleaning lately. January is a good month to de-clutter and I’m doing it. I didn’t quite know what to do with a little piece of baby clothing I came across. A little kimono. White flannel with tiny sleeves and neck. My babies used it–I can see a creamy stain by the neckline. The flannel is dotted with little balls–a sure sign it has been washed numerous times. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I left it on the counter in the laundry room. I would not use it for a polishing cloth, no, my babes slumbered in it! I didn’t want to give it away. My grands who live near me are far past needing it. Do they even use this type of garment any more?
Both were my own special dolly.
Every day as I passed the laundry room, I saw that frock lying on the counter. It reminded me of being a new mommy, sometimes not knowing what to do for a fussy baby. Mostly, I remember the overwhelming love I had for each of my two. Both were my own special dolly. They grew and they changed. Had children of their own.
They have the same soul inside.
As I contemplated that little piece of cloth I decided to pray differently for them. Though they are giant sized compared to the nightie now, they have the same soul inside. I prayed, not for the adults they are now, but who they once were. Helpless. Needy of me, their mama.
Their soul and hearts still need their mother’s prayers.
They don’t need my physical care any longer…but the little nightie reminds me their soul and hearts still need their mother’s prayers. So I think I’ll keep the precious piece of fabric to remind me to pray. Until I’m no longer here on earth to pray…..
Mamas, does seeing a tiny garment that your own little one wore, bring tears to your eyes? I’ve been weeping since I began writing this…and I really don’t know why…..I looked up mother in my concordance and came across this gem in Isaiah 49.
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
Isn’t that promise amazing? As if we mothers could forget….He promises what’s impossible for her…to ever forget. I’m resting on that promise.
I’m always glad when I get through January and early February. Why? Because there are hazardous dates in there. Reflecting back though, I can say I was never alone.
This morning I read Psalm 116, and picked out some phrases that stood out to me. That psalm could have been the song Jesus and His disciples sang after the last supper.
Here are the phrases that stood out to me:
He heard my voice
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
The LORD is gracious and righteous, full of compassion
The LORD has been good to you.
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.
I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD.
He heard my voice.
Looking back on my January’s and the first week of February have for the past twelve years brought back memories, mostly sad, yet full of hope. During those early years, I remembered difficult times, yes, but I also remembered the closeness of my Savior. I called out in my distress–and he heard my cries. He heard my voice. (verse 1). Just as the psalmist, I experienced sorrow and distress when my loved ones left this earth, I was overcome by distress and sorrow (verse 3b). Yet, The LORD is gracious and righteous, full of compassion. The LORD has been good to you.
It is with joy….
The psalm comes full circle. God heard, had compassion, was good, and gives salvation. I will lift the cup of salvation (verse13a). He reminds me: Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants (verse 15). During the memorial services of both my parents, my husbands, I was able to give thanks for what God did in their lives and mine as well. At the time, it was a sacrifice to give thanks. Yet I know they are with the Savior in Heaven.
Precious means: of great value; not to be wasted, or treated carelessly.
It is good to look back, to give thanks.
It is good to look back at our loved one’s lives. To give thanks for them. To see how God gave me compassion, comfort, love, and salvation.
Looking back more than 25 years ago now, my dad entered Heaven’s gates. Twelve years ago, my first husband, Bill, entered those same gates. Eight years ago, Blair entered them. And Mom, nearly eight years ago, entered the gates. There are many more names I could mention, but these are the closest ones to me.
They were huge blessings to me….
Each of those people: Henry, Rose, Bill and Blair were huge blessings to me–and to others too. It isn’t a sacrifice any more to give praise. I experience gratefulness for the memories. But more than memories, I will see each of them again one day, when it is my time to leave this earth. It’s getting closer every day.
I’m reminded of the words of Isaac Watts, a renown hymn writer of the early 18th century:
I love the Lord; he bowed his ear,
And chased my grief away!
O let my heart no more despair,
While I have breath to pray.
Of great value
Take heart, those of you who are grieving still. Where giving praise is a sacrifice. In time, remembering won’t be as painful and the precious memories–“not to be wasted,” “of great value” will cause you to rejoice for their lives, no matter the time they lived here on earth.
Read Psalm 116
I suggest you pull out your Bible and read Psalm 116 and write down phrases that speak to you. They will be unique to you, but possibly, similar to mine.
Look back and reflect.
I pray you too experience the comfort and compassion that only God can give. And one day, you can look back and reflect those precious memories.
Next week, I’m going to share with you the unexpected joy I experienced…..Stay tuned!
I’m sitting here in a recliner with my feet propped up at or above my heart. I had some minor toe (hammertoe, if you are curious) surgery on each foot yesterday. I had instructions to keep both feet up above my heart for two days, then hip level for two days, and then I’m free to move as much as I like or am able. Once the stitches are out, I can wear regular shoes. For now, here’s what I’ve got to wear:
My first thought was now I can read for hours and not feel guilty! Interestingly enough, I could only read for a short time before wanting to get out of my chair and do something else. In order to heal from this as quickly as possible–and that’s my goal, I must stay down. My second action was to pick some movies from my on-demand cable and have a movie marathon. Problem is, I don’t feel like it! Isn’t that crazy? It’s a reminder to me that we human beings just aren’t that content.
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
I Timothy 6:6
What is wrong with me? Why do I want to escape from one place to another. And when I’m in that place, want to be in the other place? I would like to honestly say what the Apostle Paul said:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11
I’m learning to be content, but I’m not there yet. I have contentment about a lot of things, though. I love my husband and want our years to go on and on and on. I love our home and don’t want anything else. I enjoy being a mom and grammie, yet they aren’t in my personal care anymore–and the grandies are in their parents’ capable hands.
I know some of you would really like to not be where you are. You might have a scary illness there might not be a cure for. Your loved one might be very ill with something frightening. You might be as I once was, lonely and wanting a mate. Wherever you are and whatever circumstance you might be in, join me in learning to have at least a mini moment of contentment.
In the Bible study I’m in, we’re looking at Prayers of the Heart in the Psalms. I’m enjoying the Psalm 3 this week. Here’s a few of my favorite verses:
But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain….
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me….
From the Lord comes deliverance.
I am learning some lessons even now as I write this blog. For one thing, I have the time and help to have this procedure done. I don’t have a job to go to, children to chase after. I have my sweet man to take care of me. They told me the hardest part of this type of surgery is staying down–even though you don’t feel that bad. OK Lord, I’ll try to be content. And listen. Be thankful. And again, be content. Oh yes, I’m working on the “godliness with contentment” too.
Last Valentine’s Day, my husband Jim gave me a beautiful necklace and earrings. He always does his research and carefully chooses a gift for me. I feel special nearly every day by the kind and thoughtful things he does. Last Valentine’s was no exception. He knows I like red and will spend lots more on a jewelry item than I would. I loved the set–especially the earrings–but it was mostly because my sweet husband picked them out for me.
I didn’t think it could be replaced…
Last December I had a busy day of cruising several stores including Costco, shopping for last minute items before Christmas. After I put everything away, I was dismayed when I glanced in the mirror and noticed one earring was missing! I was so disappointed! I didn’t think it could be replaced and was upset with myself that I’d lost it. It was a special gift after all. I hunted around the house, checked the car to see if it had come off there. I called some of the merchants. Nothing. When Jim came home, I confessed my loss. He was gracious and commiserated with me. I didn’t think it would ever be found. After all, it could be anywhere. It was gone.
A couple of weeks later, Jim gave me a little box to open and there nestled in the box was another set of gold tipped earrings! “Now you have three. A spare in case you lose another one,” he said. I was grateful and put them in my jewelry box.
It’s second nature to do it.
One of our cars is a hybrid and we plug it in to the electricity every time we come home. It’s second nature to do it. Just last week, I got out of the car to plug it in, and I glanced at the floor and here’s what I saw:
It lay there like a treasure…
It had been there for weeks and neither of us noticed it there. We’d worked in the garage just the week before, cleaning and organizing–even sweeping most of the floor, but there it lay there like a treasure, waiting to be discovered. Of course I was delighted and ran into the house to tell Jim. We returned the extra set of earrings and I put the found earring into its rightful place.
It was waiting to be discovered for weeks…
How many times do we mechanically put things away and not notice what’s right under our feet? That earring sat there waiting to be discovered for weeks.
And when she finds it….
I’m reminded of the parable of the woman who’d lost a coin and looked and swept until she found her coin. I confess I gave up–and we had the means to get another set. How often do we give up? Here’s the parable:
Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbors: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God. (Luke 15:8-10 The Message)
Look for the Treasure
I don’t know what you’re looking for today. Maybe you haven’t lost anything. Perhaps you’re discouraged about something or someone. Look for the treasure. It’s there even though you may not see it now.
We’ve been gifted
In the past five months, we’ve been gifted with some extravagant gifts from the sky. The first was the Solar Eclipse in August. Although we only saw 90% of the total eclipse, it was amazing. In a few moments, the warm summer sun turned into a cool evening twilight. The birds stopped their chatter and the light turned from brightness to a cool, buttery light. Soon it was over, and the soft light began to lighten with a return to a warm August afternoon.
Just a few days ago, we experienced the Super Moon. “Ohhhhhh!” Was all I could say. It dominated the sky.
The next morning was just as magnificent with the setting moon, gleaming in the western sky.
I believe God gives us these glimpses of the vastness of His creation to give us just a pinch of Who He is. I love the Psalms:
When I consider thy heavens,
the work of thy fingers…
which thou hast ordained;
what is man, that thou art mindful of him?
David the shepherd was awestruck by the night skies. His question “what is man, that thou art mindful of him?” is comfort to me–because it reminds me that God is mindful of us. How do I know? From my own experience. He’s been there in the dark hours. In the times of joy. In the ordinary times. He provides me with the treasure of His word, the Bible so I can know Him better.
I like what Tozer, a mid-twentieth-century pastor and writer from Pennsylvania said about where God is:
God doesn’t have to ‘come’ to help us
because there isn’t any place where God is not.
That gives me comfort. God has given us the skies to gaze at His wonder and creation. A reminder of His presence.
Bare branches pierce the sky
Often January is thought of as drab and colorless. The deciduous trees have dropped most of their leaves and their bare branches pierce the sky. The grasses are brown and tumbled. And for some of you, there’s probably white snow on the ground.
On January 1, we had a Super Moon–meaning the moon is the closest to the earth as it ever will be in a year. We were rewarded with fairly clear skies that day. I nearly forgot about the full moon until we were driving down the street. I snagged a couple of shots while we were moving, trying to avoid the power lines and buildings along the way, for I knew it would soon be out of my view on the horizon.
I usually wake up before dawn and Tuesday morning was no different. There was that super moon glowing brightly in the western sky.
I began to see pink-ness
I sipped my coffee wondering if the sunrise would be as beautiful. It was. With my back to the eastern sky, I began to see pink-ness, bathing the walls generously with an ethereal glow. I quickly snapped this photo–not changing the exposure.
The scarlet branches command their presence
Each day I am rewarded by something in God’s creation that I can get excited about. First the Super Moon–at night and early morning. And then, the stunning pink sunrise. On our morning walks, I see a scraggly blackberry branch with a few leaves clinging that are a crimson/orange color. Sometimes I see white berries on bushes, giving contrast to the brownish grasses below. My favorite is a type of maple tree that has scarlet branches. In the summer they look like any ordinary tree draped in green leaves, but in the winter, it commands its colorful presence. Yes, there is color and beauty even in January! If you are able, get outside, try to find some unexpected color or beauty. I think you’ll find it.
I’m looking forward to a new year. I don’t know what’s in front of me, but I know what’s behind me.
Hope for the future.
As you may know, Jim and I are facilitators for GriefShare and often the grieving one will say, “I can’t wait for this year to be over. Next year has got to be better!” They’re looking at it from the perspective of getting past the pain of grief and loss, but also hope for the future.
Ninety-five hundred miles and barely scratching the surface of our great nation.
Today, I’m looking back over the year 2017. We did a lot of traveling, but what stands out the most, was our road trip through our United States. We had a marvelous opportunity to see our beautiful and varied country close up. Even though we traveled 9500 miles, we barely scratched the surface. I look forward to seeing more sometime.
Our country is beautiful.
Our country is beautiful. We gazed at the beautiful Badlands, the unending cornfields of the mid-west, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Lakes–that are like the ocean, the farms of Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana–I could go on. We were awed by the mighty Niagara Falls, the steep contours of Vermont and Maine, the Atlantic Ocean. We drove on roads near New York City and saw the Freedom Tower in the distance, we gazed at the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Plymouth Rock. We wandered through a cemetery where Paul Revere was buried, gazed up at statues of the freedom fighters for our nation’s independence. Heading west, we enjoyed the rolling hills of Missouri, the craggy Rockies in Colorado beckoning us from the plains. And then. The wonder of Arches and Cayonlands in Utah. Heading homeward, we returned through more familiar territory in Idaho, Oregon and finally our home state, Washington. Feast your eyes on some of the sights we saw not in any particular order:
I probably left something out from our journey, but I must say, what impacted both of us the most, were the people we met. We visited cousins in Montana, reacquainted ourselves with a former pastor, and worshipped with them in their church in North Dakota.
It was the people I remember the most.
We visited my last surviving aunt and cousins in Nebraska, visited family in Illinois–and worshipped with them where my stepson, Greg, pastors. We headed north to territory we’d never been, and visited more family in New York state. We still think about the conversations we had there. On to Vermont to visit an old friend. Now it was time to meet new people who’ve become our friends. In Maine, we were treated to wonderful hospitality. Lovedy made sure we tasted ice cream only made in Maine, hot dogs, lobster–Maine lobster–mind you. She took us to Portland and Kennebunkport, we enjoyed good food and conversation. We traveled down into New England where we met more new friends and stayed in charming Connecticut where more hospitality was shown to us. We met family in Branson, and though we live in the same town, we look back on that time as a wonderful reunion. Then on to Colorado where more people shared their homes with us. Yes, it was the people I remember the most, though the sights were unforgettable!
This morning I read the words of a wise man.
In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the LORD establishes their steps.
I’m looking forward to a new year
I don’t think I need to add to those words. I’m looking forward to a new year. To new experiences, yet I know I can trust the One who establishes my steps. Happy New Year!
We went to a Festival of Lights last evening. The lights were beautifully placed on every tree and bush in the beautiful area called The Grotto. Once a rock quarry, a priest saw the potential in the wild and woodsy spot, found a way to purchase the land, develop it and since and almost 100 years later, is a place of peace and refuge. At the dedication in 1924, this was said:
Let this be a sanctuary of peace for all peoples of the earth and surely in this day a sanctuary is needed. Torn with differences, strife, and grief, the world needs sanctuary where the human spirit can seek peace and consolation.
Many people do come to enjoy the peaceful surroundings where in the winter there are beautiful lights belying the dark and rocky terrain. In the summer, it is a cool and quiet refuge to think and pray. People of all faiths or no faith come to this haven of peaceful surroundings.
People seem to be more cheerful and giving this time of year.
As we strolled though the grounds last night, I reflected on this holiday season. Of the beautiful time of year whether people believe in Jesus or not seem to be more cheerful and giving than any other time of the year.
Traditions don’t work well when you’re the only one.
Jim and I work with those grieving the death of a loved one and every week we are reminded of the extreme sadness the envelopes one who has lost a spouse, a child, a sibling, a parent or grandparent, a friend. In the early days of grief, these happy holidays are like salt in a wound, music that sounds out of tune. Fortunately, if they work through their grief, they are able to sing again, and enjoy the happy times. I was reminded of what it feels like again to be alone. If you don’t know me, you may not know that I’ve had to say goodbye to two husbands in death, so I know what I’m talking about–this grief. A friend of mine who lives a very solitude life was widowed less than two years ago. They’d been married for fifty years. She said a few days ago, “This is kind of a hard time. Traditions don’t work so well when you’re the only one.” She’s right. I found something that helped me when I was in the depth of grief and alone. The presence of my Savior. He was my constant companion during those lonely days of eating dinner by myself. Going to bed by myself. Getting up in the morning by myself. An English 17th century poet and hymn writer, Philip Doddridge, said it well:
Hear the glad sound, the Savior comes, the Savior
Let every heart prepare a throne, and every voice a
He comes the broken heart to bind, the bleeding
soul to cure,
And with the treasures of his grace to raise the
He comes the broken heart to bind, the bleeding soul to cure
So whether you’ve a broken heart and you need it to be “bound” or your soul needs “cure,” give it to the healer of broken hearts–Jesus. We celebrate Jesus’ birth every Christmas, but do we really think about what that means? I wish I could say I always do, but this year I am. What a treasure we have.
There’s only One who can give peace.
It is my hope you have placed your trust in the only One who can give peace, Jesus, the Savior of the World. Wonderful Counselor. Almighty God, The Prince of Peace. If you haven’t attended church in a long time–or ever, this Sunday might be the perfect time to start. Read the Christmas story. Start in Luke at the beginning where Mary is told she’s to be the mother of Jesus. Her reaction is amazing and beautiful.
Merry Christmas everyone. And though you may not feel like being merry because of great loss in your life, focus on the gift God gave. His only son.
Perhaps your grief is new and you don’t know how you’ll get through this holiday season….
This week I’m writing especially to someone who is grieving the loss in death of a loved one. Perhaps your grief is new and you don’t know how you’ll get through this holiday season without that person–a parent, a sibling, a spouse, a child, a friend. Truly no one person can be replaced–but we can replace that sorrow and loss with comforting memories–it takes time and work. Both are necessary.
Why are people so happy when I’m so sad?
I understand your grief, for I’ve been there too. I remember wondering why the people around me were so happy when I was so sad. Didn’t they know my world was turned upside down? My first major loss was near Christmas time fifty years ago now. My best friend was in a car accident and was killed instantly. I was shocked when my mother told me the news. I cried buckets of tears, knowing I’d never see Karen again. She was my bestie. My confidant and partner in crime. I taught her how to drive a car that had a stick shift. I loaned her lipstick on the school bus. She helped me with math when I didn’t understand it. We sang together. Stayed overnight with each other countless times. Cheered our team at school. She lived only a block away so it was convenient to be together. We shared the many things friends share and most of all, we shared our faith–and hope in eternal life.
There is a God of all comfort.
My husband Jim and I facilitate a grief group and we hear many stories of loss. We do our best to give comforting words to them, but the best thing we can do is direct them to the God of all Comfort for their relief from their terrible loss. Death is stark. It is final. And permanent. But those who put their trust in Jesus have hope of eternal life with Him in heaven. I like what this Psalm says about Hope.
Hope in the Lord;
for with the Lord there is
and with Him
is abundant redemption
Even though the loss was recent, I had the hope I’d see her again.
That Christmas so many years ago now, I remember having the hope I’d see Karen again. I missed her so much, but I reminded myself many times that I’d see her again. That is true with others in my life who have entered eternity. I know I’ll see them again.
It’s hard to be comforted sometimes….
If you’re grieving the loss of someone and it’s so fresh, it’s hard to be comforted with the hope you’ll see that person again. You just would like them to be here on earth–with you.
When I sign one of my books, I usually sign it with a verse. It’s one of my favorites. I hope it will give you strength today–especially if you’re facing a recent loss.
My prayer is you turn to the God of hope this Christmas season. That you place your trust in Jesus, the Christ Child, born to save us.