Matthew 6:25 - 27

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Caring People

Grief Therapy #2 says:
"Be open to the pain of your
broken heart. God---and caring
people---will enter through its

While I'm very aware that God's presence is surrounding me, comforting me, insulating me, and providing for me, I feel separated, or "detached" from the intimacy of personal relationship with Him right now. I blame myself. I haven't devoted myself to seeking Him, I haven't been putting Him "first". I know. I have been absorbed with something overwhelming; it's true, but it's not an excuse. Relationships cannot be assumed or taken for granted. Sometimes I think I take my relationship with Jesus for granted - He's so much a part of me, and I of Him; but, like all neglected relationships, attention wanders to more "immediate" things and passion cools and eventually grows cold. The "other" moves on and suddenly you feel left behind. You begin to wonder what you need to do to catch up ... to restore relationship and intimacy.

In Revelation chapter 2, the Spirit addresses this when He says: "I know your deeds and your perseverance ... you have persevered and have endured hardships for my name and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first." That's where I find myself now: remembering the intimacy I had with the Lord, and desperately wanting to find that again. And He tells me how I can - do the things I did at first ... repent, believe, seek Him, trust Him, love Him. I've lost my husband. The Lord is my husband now. I need Him more now than ever. He will enter in through my brokenness.

And caring people ... so many caring people have and continue to enter in through our brokenness and pour out their love and concern! We are so thankful for all of those who have prayed, listened, and given of their time and talents to care for us!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Somedays ... everything hurts

"How are you?" "How are you doing today?" "Are you O.K.?" We all ask that many times every day. It's the kind of question that both complete strangers and close friends ask. It's meant to be friendly, kind, concerned. But for me right now, it's a question I don't know how to answer. What is "O.K."? And what kind of a scale do I use to measure "how" I am today? What words do you use to describe something for which there are no words? Or the words that accurately describe how I "am" are words I can't or choose not to use?

Some people don't ask. They just look at me with sadness or pity in their eyes. Some people just avoid me altogether, looking away, or pretending they didn't see me. I know that they don't know what to say either. I've been there; done that to others myself. I understand. I know they care - deeply - and that they just don't know what to say.

Today, one friend gave me a CD of songs that she put together - songs that minister to her pain as she walks through her own recent loss and heartache. I know she understands how much it hurts and how very impotent words are to help, but for some reason, words set to music can pour healing oil on the deepest wounds. Thank you, my friend!

Another friend gave me a little book called "Grief Therapy" by Karen Katafiasz. It's only 35 pages long and each page is a "lesson" about grief. I'm thinking about posting one a day ... kind of a "Thought for the Day". Here's Day #1:

"Respect the power of grief.
Know that it can affect you
psychologically, physically,
and spiritually in intense and
sometimes surprising ways.
Stay gentle with yourself."

Today, everything hurts. Every thought, every memory, every glance, every part of my body. I feel like I have the proverbial elephant sitting on my chest. I don't know whether to give in to it and just muddle around in the puddle of my thoughts and emotions, or to look for some distraction and escape.

I decided to give myself "permission" to withdraw a bit and spend time alone in my room for awhile. I'm following the advice to "stay gentle with myself". I won't feel bad or guilty about "wasting" the time to get done something that needs to be done today.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

One Flesh Minus One/Half

In the book of Genesis, chapter 2, we read the story of the creation of the first woman. God took a rib from the man He had made and from it, He made woman and brought her to her mate, her husband. In verse 23, the man said, "this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." We've all heard these verses quoted at weddings. I spent a lot of my married life trying to understand what it meant to be "one flesh" (beyond the obvious, of course). I even wondered if we had actually become "one flesh". God says in another place, that He will take our hearts of stone and give us hearts of "flesh". Could it be that God, who looks at the heart rather than the outward "flesh", meant that He would make the man and the woman "one heart"?

So, now that my husband is gone, I've been asking the Lord this question: "Does that mean that I am now 'one-half flesh'? One-half of a living heart/spirit? Have you heard it said that a surviving spouse has died of "a broken heart"? I can understand how this could be true now. My head tells me that the question itself reflects the loss I feel, the emptiness, the sense of lost identity and direction. Today I read this:

"You are not exactly who you were. The person you lost was part of your identity. You were someone's mother or aunt or spouse or brother. You continue to be that person in your heart and memory, but there's a vacant place where your loved one stood. And the loss of this person has subtracted from you part of who you were. Eventually you will take steps to move from the old to the new identity." (Footnote: from Beyond Grief by Carol Staudacher) The author goes on to say, "This may be hard to grasp at this time, but someday...." - Experiencing Grief by H. Norman Wright.
Someday.... but not today.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Through the Shadows

In the weeks before Tom died, the Lord ministered to me from Psalm 23 about walking through the valley of the shadow of death. At first, I knew we were walking together, Tom and I, hand in hand. Death loomed over us on both sides and cast it's shadow on us, but the valley through which we walked was peaceful and quiet. As we neared the "end", I could see a great, warm light at the other side of the valley. It was the destination to which the valley led. A few days before he died, the Lord showed me that I needed to put Tom's hand in His for the rest of the journey and release him to his Shepherd. That was so hard to do, but he was so weak and so far "gone" that I wanted him to move on quickly and be free of that body of death; so I prayed and saw myself put his hand in Jesus', almost like a father hands over his daughter's hand to her betrothed. In Ezekial 47:1-12, Ezekial had a vision of a river coming out from the temple of God...the river of life. In verse 5, he says that "...the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in - a river that no one could cross." The Lord showed me that Tom had to cross that river and that I couldn't go with him; only the Shepherd Himself could lead him across into Life. And so, on March 12th, just after midnight, Tom and Jesus crossed over that river into Life and death no longer had any hold on him!

Psalm 23 is about going "through" the valley - implying a passage that is entered and exited. It hit me suddenly and hard that only Tom was going to pass "through" and come out the other side ... the kids and I would remain there - in the shadow of death - for quite some time. And so, here we stand in the shadows - our memories.

Last night, I began going through the many cards that others have sent or that were brought to the Memorial Service on Saturday. So many kind and comforting words, memories and sentiments were shared, and again, I was blessed by knowing how much Tom meant to so many people! The printed sentiment on one card, though, seemed to sum up this time and my experience of it. I'd like to share it with you today ...

"The time comes when those whom we have loved the longest and the best will travel far ahead into a place of joy and rest...
And we must walk a lonely path through the shadows for a while without a certain kindred voice, a dear, familiar smile ---
Yet each day brings us nearer to horizons yet unknown and even when the way is dark, we never walk alone,
For memories travel with us toward the happy destination where we will join our loved ones in eternal celebration."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

At the Crossroads

Today is the First Day of Spring. I woke up this morning to the sound of the male cardinal's call outside my bedroom window. My next thought was "it's over". My beloved husband went to be with the Lord a week ago - just after midnight on March 12th. We had his Memorial Service yesterday. Today, I stand at the crossroads of my life. I can't go back, and that hurts. I can't go forward, yet. There's so much to be "done" - notifications, thank you's, going through his clothes and possessions - but, today, there's just immobility. I feel frozen in time and space. I wander around my house, moving things from one location to another, and then move them again. I still feel like he's coming back any minute. I see his face and feel his presence and I miss him so much ... I'm so lost without him! Who am I now? Where am I going? What am I going to do? How can I continue the future of our family without him? I can't see through my tears... No, I can't move from here. I just stand and turn around in circles, looking back ... looking forward ... and every direction in between. I have to go on. My children need me to go on. I have to lead them now. I have to define our life now. What would Tom tell me now? Somehow, I need to remember his heart for us, his direction.

I know I am not "alone". God has been there for me, for us, and He will continue to carry us, and lead us in the plans He has for us. That's what Tom would tell me now ... follow the Lord. And that's what I will do.