Archive for the ‘grief’ Category.

Guest Blog by Barb Christensen

Thank you, Barb Christensen, for sharing your insights with us.  Our prayers are with you and your husband during this difficult season.

Recently I have had to move my husband, my rock, my lover, my companion, my provider and my best friend to an assisted living home due to advancing dementia. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do and we are still reeling under the ongoing aftershocks of this great, life changing tsunami.

But I have finally, after 53 years of wedded bliss, figured out what marriage is all about. It’s about watching the one you love, (the one you stood with before God and ‘this company of witnesses’ and pledged to love through the good times and the bad times until ‘death do us part’), fade from you and becomes a shell of the person he was and your heart bleeds and you love him more today than you ever even knew was possible so long ago.

Through the ups and downs of life, the good and bad times, the well and ill times, the distracted and uncomfortable times, the warm and the cold………you love because you promised you would. Then one day the bottom drops out and you finally figure it out.

A warm, comfortable feeling envelopes you as you realize the fulfillment of the vow, and you have survived and, flooded with a half century of memories, you wouldn’t change a thing! God is so good and He honors vows kept with His provision and His peace. I am looking forward with joyful expectation to what God will do and how He will lead through this all consuming flood.

    “When you  pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the fire kindle upon you. For I AM the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…..”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Isaiah 43:2-3a Amplified Bible

 

Climb into my Boat

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage!  It is I.  Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.  They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. 

Mark 6:50b-52 NIV

      The fury of the tempest falls upon me. Fierce winds surge waves higher than my vessel.  Sheets of rain fall from the sky midst lightning flashes and rumbling thunder. My little boat wobbles like a matchstick in the churning waves.  I row with all my strength but feel myself slipping backwards, pulled into the dark waters.  The storm, terrifying in its strength, overwhelms me.  My courage fades and I know I cannot survive.

Through the roar of the storm, I hear Your voice. “Take courage!” You say.  “Don’t be afraid.”

Can it be?  I wipe rain from my eyes and squint through the darkness.  In a burst of lightning, I see you coming toward me, walking upon the waves as if on dry ground.  Your face shines bright as the sunshine, Your presence emanates peace.

My eyes focus on You alone, and I forget the danger in the glory of Your presence.

“It is I,” You say.  “Don’t be afraid.”

Then You climb into my boat and take a seat at the helm. The wind ceases. The waves settle.  You ask me how I’m doing and tell a story to pass the time.  Then you pick up an oar to help me navigate toward the shore.  We admire the sunset glowing red and orange in the western horizon.

My hard heart searches for logical reasons to explain what has happened.  I was going under until You came walking upon the water. You climbed into my boat and the storm stopped.

Suddenly I understand in a flash as bright as the lightning had shown in the darkness.  Just like what happened with the loaves and fishes.  Not a coincidence, not explainable, but a miracle.

Your laughter fills the space left silent after the storm.

Dear Jesus, Come to me, walking upon the churning water.  Let me hear your voice over the roaring turmoil.  Climb into my boat.  Calm my storm.  Remove the hardness of my heart and let me understand your miracles. Amen 

 

Christmas Blues

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.  Psalm 137:1

This past week brought sad news from many directions.  A cousin’s husband died unexpectedly of a heart attack.  An old friend is hospitalized. Another learned she has a year to live even with chemo and radiation.  A friend confided that increased insurance co-pays will make it difficult for her to continue necessary treatment.  We know others facing joblessness, addiction and incarceration.

During this Christmas season, you may feel alone in your suffering. The world around you celebrates—and yet the sadness of your losses and the ache of yesterday make you wish the holidays were already over.

The enslaved Israelites felt the same.  Their Babylonian captors taunted them, and forced them to sing Israeli songs for their entertainment.  The Israelites wept as they sang, remembering their old home and the way things used to be. (see the above verse). They wanted only to go home. If this describes your feelings this holiday season, know you’re not alone. Your emotional pain is real. You will not find relief in tinsel, mistletoe or merriment, but you will find solace in the deeper meaning of Christmas.  Jesus was born to rescue humanity. Turn to Him.  Find a church service, read the Christmas story in the Book of Luke, pray for yourself and someone else who struggles. As you take these baby steps, you will feel His Presence.  He will bring good things into your life as you trust in Him.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6 NIV

 Lord, we pray for each one carrying a heavy burden this Christmas season.  Lift her spirits and grant peace.  Amen.

 

Message from Mom

As the middle child in a large family, I never had Mom all to myself.  In childhood there were always older or younger children demanding her attention. Throughout my adult life, I lived several hours away and saw her only on holidays or occasional visits.  When Mom developed dementia and suddenly needed more attention, she moved to a memory care unit in my area.  It was a family decision and seemed a logical choice.  After all, I’m a registered nurse with a background in gerontology.

Even so, I worried about the added responsibility of having Mom nearby. I considered it my duty.  She was my mother and I would do my best to make her last days as good as possible.

I’d stop almost every day after work or during my lunch break. Mom loved seeing me and enjoyed extra time with our kids and grandkids. Short term memory problems made it hard for her to converse about anything except the past. We spent hours talking about old times.  Mom shared stories of her childhood, hard times from World War II and life with my dad on the dairy farm. She poured out her heart to me, telling me details that she had never shared with any of my siblings.  Her father was an alcoholic and her childhood was chaotic because of his drinking.  She married unwisely and struggled to become her own person.

I would listen until she tired of speaking and then I would tell her about my day, both the good and the bad. I was writing a novel in my spare time and often shared the struggles of writing and publishing.  Sometimes I read passages to her as she dozed on her bed. She seemed to like the sound of my voice although often she laughed at the funny parts so I knew she was listening.

It was during this time that I learned to know my mother.  She always seemed to say the right thing.  She celebrated success with me and clucked a sympathetic, “oh dear,” for the disappointments.  For the first time in my life I felt like a pampered, only child.  Though I had hoped my visits would help her, I found they became my strongest source of emotional support.

Mom died in the spring of 2010 after two years in the memory care unit. I had learned to depend on her and dreaded a future without her. My new novel was released the day after her funeral but even this achievement felt flat and listless without her.

Shortly afterward, I dreamed a beautiful and vivid dream. Its colors popped brighter than anything seen in this world. Mom, young and lovely, sat on the mossy edge of a vigorous, flowing stream against a backdrop of verdant, green leaves.  Light golden hair curled over her shoulders and her blue eyes glowed as she dipped her fingers into the flowing water.  Her face wore a delighted, astonished expression—like a child receiving a miraculous gift greater than her wildest expectations.

She looked at me and waved, calling my name in a youthful, strong voice. “Hurry!  What’s taking you so long?”

I awoke from that dream with a catch in my throat. Mom was not really gone, just waiting for me in a place of supreme beauty and happiness. I knew I would one day join her at that beautiful river.

The dream stays with me as the years pass.  When I am feeling lonesome, I pull it out and remember how Mom waved and called for me to join her.  It won’t be long.