You go on and live until you feel alive again.
Call the MidWife, a television series about midwives helping women in east London, an area of poverty near the Thames River. We’ve been watching the series for several years. Nonnatis House is where several Church of England nuns and other midwives live together and assist the women in the district when they give birth and advise in care for their little ones. There is life and death on these streets and humble flats, near the docks where ships converge. All episodes have at least one birth and often there is death. Kind of like our lives, isn’t it? Life and death every day.
Our souls are settled.
This past week, someone of renown died, Barbara Bush, at age 92. I’d never met Mrs. Bush, but I admired her spunk. I always enjoyed seeing she and her husband together. They seemed to share love and affection for each other. I like what her oldest son, President George W Bush, said: “our souls are settled because we know hers was.”
He is walking streets of gold.
There’s another death in my area of acquaintances. A young man of only twenty-two years. He died of leukemia. His mother wrote this about him: His body is buried in the Garden of Faith next to Gordon (his father), but he is walking streets of gold in heaven with his dad.
There can be hope.
Both families express faith and hope in seeing their loved one again. That’s not to say they aren’t grieving, yet they have hope. I heard a phrase on an episode of the midwife series that resonated with me. Perhaps it will with you, too.
You go on and live until you feel alive again.
That’s really how grieving is. Your life goes on–even though you’d like it to stop. You make the necessary arrangements. You plan the service. You find something to wear appropriate for the service. You do the numerous tasks that must be done. You keep on living. Then the funeral is over and life goes on for everyone else. Yours too, though so vastly different than it was before your loved one died. You go on and live…..until you feel alive again.
It will get better.
I’ve been through the painful loss of a close loved one several times. I can tell you–especially those of you who are experiencing loss now. It will get better. You won’t hurt so badly as you do now. I promise. Lean onto the hope that our Lord and Savior gives us. I like what I read this morning, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. That really is our only hope.
Are you ever wordless?
Have you ever been so excited, you couldn’t say a word? I have. What about the women–who were the first to go to the tomb of Jesus–and discovered the stone was rolled away and the tomb empty?
Sometimes we forget what we’re celebrating.
Don’t we often take Easter for granted? We get so caught up in the now of Easter Sunday, we forget what it is we’re celebrating. I admit I do. Should we have ham or leg of lamb? We must dye eggs. Make sure we have my favorite Cadbury eggs at each place. I set the table in anticipation of the meal after the Easter morning service.
We wordlessly got ready for bed, knowing the end of the story wasn’t complete.
We watched The Passion of the Christ two weeks ago on Easter Eve. It wasn’t easy, watching the travesty of Jesus’ trial, the beatings He endured. I confess, I hid my face while the soldiers laughed and beat and beat him. I couldn’t watch when they pounded the nails in his feet and hands. We wordlessly got ready for bed, knowing the end of the story wasn’t complete. That would take place the next morning.
It’s appropriate at Easter, too.
This Easter morning, we were treated to a choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus which is more often sung at Christmas, but totally appropriate at Easter too. The primary word in the chorus is Hallelujah, which means, “God be praised”.
Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah!
Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah!For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!
Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah!The kingdom of this world is become
The kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ!
And he shall reign for ever and ever!
King of kings and Lord of lords!
King of kings and Lord of lords!
And He shall reign forever and ever!
Forever and ever!George Frederick Handel
Two men in dazzling robes…
He is risen!
It was six years ago I received stunning news. Just five weeks before our wedding, my fiancé called–not-face-to-face–mind you, and told me the wedding was off.
I needed to be alone and think.
I was shocked to my core. I took off that Easter weekend, not wishing to hang around and pretend things were fine, for they were not. Instead, I drove to the Oregon Gardens to be alone and think.
I sat still.
While reading in my room by the fire, I came across a verse in the Bible I’d not noticed before. Their strength is to sit still. That’s what I did. I sat still. Thinking. Praying. Reading.
I realized I was not alone.
Later, I strolled among the few flowers that were blooming at the Gardens and as I sat in the spring sunshine, I realized I wasn’t alone. Jesus was walking with me in my sadness and shock. He knew and He cared. I drove back home, knowing I’d be alright. Just not right away.
I was wrong. I needed to sit still for awhile.
I didn’t know the future, just like all humans don’t. But if I did. Would I be surprised! Just a few miles south and east of my home, lived a man named Jim, who was mourning the loss of his wife. He needed another year to work through his grief and be ready to meet me. Though I thought it was the other guy, I was wrong. I needed to sit still for awhile.
It was good to sit still, though that is not my ordinary response to most anything. I’ll share one stanza of a poem that fit my situation and perhaps yours today, too:
O Soul, keep silence on the mount of God,
Though cares and needs throb around you like a sea;
From prayers, petitions, and desires unshod,
Be still, and hear what God will say to thee.
Mary Rowles Jarvis
What will He say to you?
What is family?
What is a family? I once saw a sign up sheet for a potluck with the term “family of one”. How can you be a family of one? I guess it’s possible, for bringing food to a potluck, but really? I can’t imagine what it would be like without my family. My husband. My children. My grandchildren. I’m also talking about the family I was born into; my parents who are now gone, and siblings. We siblings are getting older and one day, we will say goodbye. I don’t like to think about that and often deny that I will, but know it is in the future.
We shared our past, talked about our future.
We had a sibling rendezvous last weekend. We spent four nights together, sharing meals, playing dominoes—our favorite game to play and chat together–with long talks about our past, our future.
They accept me as I am.
With the exception of Jim, I feel safest with my siblings. Just like my husband, they accept me for me—no matter what. They might not agree with me. They may even strongly disagree with my choices—relationally or politically, but they still accept me as I am.
I cherish our family get-togethers.
I cherish our sibling get-togethers. Where we accept each other unquestioningly. We remember long family road trips from our Portland home to the midwest where our extended family lived. The four oldest divided the back seat in half, Joyce and I on one side, Roger and Eileen on the other. Betsy was up front, because she was the baby. There was her long-awaited birth, waiting for Dad to pull into the driveway so he could tell us if we had a brother or sister. We remember different people from our past, food we loved, friendships we had. I remember my brother teasing me unmercifully—which helped me cope later on with things challenging.
We laughed at each other’s remembrance comfortably.
This year we celebrated Eileen’s birthday. Each of us described an event about the two of us and she had to tell us where and what happened. She filled in the blanks. We laughed at each other’s remembrance comfortably. That’s sibling love.
There was birthday cake for the birthday girl.
Best of all, we were together.
We ate. We sipped wine. We played dominoes. We laughed and cried. We prayed. Even read poetry. Best of all, we were together. That’s family.
What are your memories?
What memories do you have of your family? Are there ones you want to recall? Are they loving ones, yet honest with real conflict that happens in every family and relationship? Let me know! I’d like to hear your story.
Old hymns with a new twist on the melody and rhythm.
We’ve been on a road trip. I found I love road trips–probably a throw-back from my childhood. A road trip for me is a time to think, look out at the scenery, and listen to music. “Let’s listen to this one,” I said, pulling a Jars of Clay album out. It was an album I’d listened to over and over after my second husband, Blair, died. I listened to it nonstop–no other music would do. Jars of Clay are contemporary Christian music artists. This album featured old hymns with a new twist on the melody and rhythm.
Amidst the sorrows of the way
Lord Jesus, teach my soul to pray
Let me taste Thy special grace
And run to Christ, my hiding placeYou know the vileness of my heart
So prone to act the rebel’s part
And when You veil Your lovely face
How can I find a hiding placeHiding place, hiding place
Strange how music brings back memories.
Take heart dear ones. It will get better.
Amidst the sorrows of the way
Lord Jesus, teach my soul to pray
Let me taste Thy special grace
And run to Christ, my hiding place.
It’s still in the birthing stage…
I’m working on a new book with the help of my husband, Jim. We’re combining our stories of previous marriages–the highs and lows—and our story. Today I’m going to give you, dear readers, a sneak peek at a portion of the story. It’s still in the birthing stage…..
I wish I could say our marriage was perfect in every way, but I can’t. We were young. Neither of us had ever lived on our own. It was our pattern of communicating that started out so wrong…….
I had the heartbreak of being a part-time dad and a full-time step-father. I’m a family man and always have been. I love my three kids, and I never dreamed I’d be a step father, let alone, a divorced father. When I pledged wedding vows to her, I meant them. It’s true, we were practically kids on that March day in 1969. I was not even twenty years old…….
There are many pluses in remarriage. We are settled. We don’t need to prove anything to the other. We learned from past mistakes that some things just aren’t important enough to argue about. Our relationship is unique. Jim’s background is similar, yet different than mine. Both of us were raised in religious homes—but the difference lies in denominations—his, Catholic and mine, Baptist.
That’s it for now. What do you think? Do you want to know more? I’d love your comments.
We looked alike…
I can’t remember life without her being in it–she’s younger than me by 22 months. We looked alike–at least to those who weren’t family–and our names got mixed up, too. She was sometimes called by my name, sometimes they called me by hers.
We shared secrets and sadness…
She was a ready playmate. Always there. Growing up, we shared the same room and often the same bed. She makes me laugh. We were “the girls”. Our mom dressed us alike and later we borrowed each other’s clothing. We still like to shop together–she’s always finding good stuff for me. She’s my beauty consultant. There were some tussles as youngsters, but I don’t recall any fights or arguments past our teens. There was loyalty–and still is. We shared secrets and sadness–then and now.
She’s a gift!
Eileen is beautiful on the outside and inside too. She is fiercly loyal and a patriot, and smart, too. I’m proud of her. Best of all though, is our shared faith in Jesus. If I need prayer, she’s the first person I call or text. What a gift my sister is. I love each of my other four sibs, but today, Eileen, I honor you! I don’t want to think about separation in this life–I can’t imagine life without you, but I know this isn’t the end–we’ll share eternity together in Heaven!
Happy Birthday, Sis!
The Unbeginning End
I’ve been contemplating that title for weeks now and still cannot take it in. Unbeginning End.
He is so much bigger than our finite minds can imagine.
I’ve been focusing on the character of God the past few months and the above mentioned title keeps arresting my thoughts. He is so much bigger than our finite minds can imagine–but try to focus on just one of God’s character traits, the Unbeginning End. A hymn writer–can you tell I enjoy old hymns?–expressed these words that I can’t fully comprehend, but also cannot forget:
Thou hast no youth, great God,
An Unbeginning End Thou art;
Thy glory in itself abode,
And still abides in its own tranquil heart:
No age can heap its outward years on Thee
Dear God! Thou art Thyself Thine own eternity.
Frederick W. Faber (1814-1863)
There is so much to God that we don’t understand.
There is God. He has no beginning and no end. He is His own eternity. Wow. There is so much to God that we don’t understand, our finite minds just cannot comprehend. I suggest you focus on that one phrase. And know you can trust the God who is: The Unbeginning End.
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.