I’ve been overwhelmed with grief this week & especially yesterday. Now that decisions were made & death is “done”… a sense of relief has come. But… the depths and cycles and seasons of grief continue. My dearest friend lost her father on Wednesday, September 19th. Then we put to sleep our dear sweet cat, Misty Rose on Saturday, September 22nd.
I remember after losing my brother (he was 26yrs. old) suddenly from a drunk driver in August 1995 and going to church between his death and funeral, a friend not knowing what occurred made an innocent comment, “why do you look so down, it’s not as if someone has died.” I was cut to the core by the insensitive statement. Later, she apologized profusely.
I once went to a conference just a few weeks after the death of my mother after a prolonged time in hospice care from cancer in September 1999. I attended one of the many workshops offered between the main sessions. It was entitled something along the lines of “Dealing with Death, Grief & Loss”. Granted, my emotions were raw, and why I chose this over others were mixed. However, I was completely unprepared for the opening remarks of the speaker, “I don’t know which is worse, the sudden death of a loved one or the gradual dying and death of a loved one. Having not experienced either one, I can only imagine what that might be like.” I remember promptly standing up in the middle of approximately 50-100 people and saying something like, “then what qualifies you to speak at all.” Then not waiting for an answer I walked out, sat down in an isolated corner and wept. Some friends came and silently comforted me.
I had experienced both kinds of deaths. Sudden unexpected ones, prolonged ones, and ones of elderly family members.
I had before and after that time lost others close to me, friends, family and my dear pets.
Recently, during this week of “death”, a friend mentioned “they would call and nothing would get in the way short of someone dying”. Unknown to them my dear friend’s dad was on death’s door and our cat was very ill.
I only bring these three examples to our attention because we often say things jokingly, sarcastically, or as “just a phrase or manner of speaking”. But often are “innocent” comments hurt deeply.
We should choose our words wisely and only speak truth in love. In the case of deep sorrow, even the words, “I understand” or “I know how you feel ” followed by “because I’ve been there.” Can cause intense pain and/or anger.
To be truthfully honest we truly do NOT understand nor do we know how another feels. Each death is uniquely different from every other one or other person’s perception of it.
Each person is uniquely different and each relationship with the loss of the loved one was uniquely different – this is true within families, this is true with each pet. The loss of a person or pet is felt differently and because we all process death in our own way, no two deaths will ever be the same.
Having said this, there are behavioral and psychological studies that show similarities about death – mainly that there are cycles of grief and loss that we can identify: Shock, Anger, Relief, Depression, Denial, Acceptance, etc. AND it’s not like it goes through “steps”, rather each phase can jump from one to another and then back again and then on to another.
Because grief is a process we need to be patient, kind, caring and compassionate providing comfort, a listening ear, even if memories or details are repeated. The same can be said of ourselves going through the grief: be kind, caring, compassionate and patient with ourself.
So as I grieve, I am doing one thing, giving myself permission to grieve and not “have it all together”.
I do grieve as one who has hope… my hope is in the Lord! He is the One, who truly understands ALL things, sees things so entirely clear, and can give comfort, healing and catch every tear in a bottle of remembrance. I look forward to that day, where there will be no more sorrow, death is destroyed, and every tear will be wiped away.
A good deed done in silence is more valuable – St. Nicolai Velimirovich
We have spent decades trying to deal with this immigration issue. Whether or not you like Trump or his administration this problem has been around since the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and the Obama administration and has been exacerbated by numerous elected officials on both sides of the aisle.
It was Obama (who also said all he could do was enforce the law & never signed an executive order to fix this), who militarized the border and opened the way for kids to come from the south. He created secret detention centers that housed around 4,000 kids until they age out at 18. Where was the outrage and protests then?
Here’s an investigative report by the Washington Post from BEFORE Trump took office:
I am thankful we are finally seeing the injustice and the failure of our immigration system.
We process asylum seekers from Middle Eastern, European or Asian areas of the world much differently than how we treat our neighbors south of the border.
Or do we simply leave it to the Christian Missionary to carry on the often thankless work (but rewarded by God) in these places where they’ve even endangered their own lives and families for the sake of others. But after all, Christian Missionaries are horrible with their ideas of right & wrong and morality. Never mind that they build homes, drinking wells, schools, teach literacy, help with clothes, food, farming & medical care — all through donations and volunteers.
Wouldn’t our millionaires & billionaires, politicians, sports heroes, music stars & acting artists of Hollywood consider putting their money where there mouth is? Shouldn’t these “talking media heads”, go to these countries and try to implement creative solutions to help these people be able to stay in their home country instead of just taking pictures and interviewing these people in their pain? How can someone film this stuff and NOT give, do, act… give up even 1/4 of their salary and contribute to a solution. It’s so easy to gripe, so hard to labor in the fields.
Now that Trump signed an executive order, people are still griping because the situation still exists. Do these people really expect a massive re-unification of families to happen over night? Many are critical that Trump changed his mind… who cares? At least he saw the problem, the protests and the outrage and he changed his mind and DID at least something. It takes guts to change a position to attempt to make things better.
People are just letting their feelings run wild without knowing the facts and the complexities, pointing fingers and pontificating, including religious leaders and politicians spouting Bible verses to justify their various positions.
Unfortunately we have officials trying to follow the law and congress has yet to fix our broken immigration system.
Did you know that thousands of children have been sent to the US borders by themselves, with no parent? What are we to do with these children, just release them into the packs of ravenous sex slave traffickers & work slave traffickers just waiting to snatch them up. It’s going to take time to pair up parents with children. Yes, it shouldn’t have happened but it did, and it will not be an overnight solution.
This recent video from ABC News talks about how big the complexities of this problem have become.
I hope we will look at ALL the facts before we begin to protest and judge others so harshly and publically shaming them. You may not agree with what you read but it all comes down to enforcing our laws. There is no justification here at all for what’s going on. So our elected officials continue to kick the can down the road or play dodge ball, or catch me if you can, or “oh no, not me, it’s not my fault.”.
As in politics and religion everyone has an opinion and everyone feels theirs is the “right” of it. I do agree that the system is broken. I do believe in enforcing our laws. I however also believe in COMPASSION. I personally don’t see anything wrong with children staying with parents until they are deported. Many refugee camps allow families to stay together. Must our detention centers look like prison?
I am not looking at it from a political stand point, I am looking at it as a compassionate, Christian, human being. I want us as a country to do the right thing but still have heart. Is that so hard? Why can’t there still be compassion? Remove politics & religious rhetoric and imagine the trauma of children missing their parents. Imagine the trauma of you not knowing where your child is and barely getting any answers? Yes, it’s risky & terrifying traveling from a war torn, or crime riddled, or leave your home because of persecution for whatever reason. As a parent it is a huge undertaking to uproot one’s family from a home often from roots that go back generations, to SAVE your family from starvation, kidnapping, rape, drug lords, murder, & other atrocities. To entrust your family & pay a smuggler who promises help & freedom. Some come in cargo boxes or trucks. If they make it here alive, they hope they’re not left to die, crammed, suffocating in 100 degree weather, packed like human sardines.
Then to finally arrive to America, land of the free, home of the brave, land of endless opportunities, and then they face what we now know as a horrifying situation… separation of families, parents deported without their children, and the children left in squalor conditions that resemble cages.
I don’t care which party is to blame. Let us truly treat others as we would want to be treated if we were in their shoes. Once again, let’s remove politics out of this situation and let’s have a heart. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Blessings on you.
In the Christmas carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”, the first verse stars out with a positive note, but as the verses progress, the author grows discouraged with the condition of the world. However, the final words are ones of triumph and rejoicing. This Christmas carol reminds me of a book in the Old Testament of the Bible called Habakkuk, which starts with the current gloom and destruction surrounding the prophet but later ends with words of comfort and hope.
This article is one that goes along the same line of thought. Bear with me, for it too will end with: “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep… the wrong shall fail, the right prevail…”
The more I know about abortion, the more my heart grieves not only for unborn babies but the women and mothers burdened by situations with seemingly no way out. Bruised, wounded, broken women. Life snuffed out. Life killed — both women and babies!
I had trouble sometimes sleeping at night during the times I taught crisis intervention counselor training or when I discussed the various types of abortion procedures. I have vivid pictures in my mind of pieces of aborted babies from D & C’s and suction abortions. I have vivid pictures in my mind of burned babies from Saline abortions, I have a very vivid picture in my mind of the Partial Birth (D & X) abortions and scissors puncturing a baby’s head and brains being sucked out, and the skull collapsing. The unheard cries of terror, fear and pain of the unborn child. The unseen scars and wounds that women carry in the deepest recesses of their heart.
A woman, who was a former abortion clinic worker and had routinely examined the fetal tissue, one day while waiting for her pregnant daughter in our office who was receiving a free ultrasound, said to me, “I know for a fact that it is just tissue up to about 12 weeks.” She said, “there is nothing there but tissues, maybe a hand or foot but it’s just tissue. It’s not a baby yet, after 12 weeks it becomes a baby.”
“A hand… a foot… just tissue???” I thought, “how could she be so blind?” I thought about the conversation for the next several days. My thoughts kept going back to my brother, who died in a car accident.
I went to identify the body. Looking at the dead body, in a very real sense, it was no longer my brother. It was not the brother who I loved and adored. It was an empty shell, it was a dead body, it was just tissue.
I then understood. Looking at aborted babies is truly just tissue, by then death has occurred, the baby has gone on, thankfully, to be with the Lord. Of course it would look like just tissue after it was in pieces.
Death has a way of making us blind to reality. Corruption has a way of pulling a veil over our eyes. Evil has a way of making death seem so normal, so ordinary, “that’s life, that’s the way it goes.”
Satan and his pawns have been trying for centuries to pull the death veil over our eyes. Satan tried to kill the newborns and prevent Moses from being the deliverer of the people of Israel.
Satan tried to kill the infant Jesus, and hundreds of babies died as Herod went on his killing rampage.
Hitler killed thousands of Jews, elderly, handicapped and babies. Not to mention all the ethnic cleansing and other atrocities committed against another human being. Once upon a time, in the USA, people of color were not counted as a “whole” person.
Today, the killing continues. In many other countries in our current world, where humans can be “rated” as”less than” because of religion, class, caste, gender, race, or whatever the “powerful” declare as less than themselves or a threat to their ideas or status.
The death veil is now upon our elderly, our handicapped, the unwanted, the unlovable.
Society calls it just tissue.
The question comes back to me, “What is life?” Is it material things we can see or feel or touch? “What is life?” Jesus posed this question, “is not life more than the body, what we shall eat, drink or wear?”
What is so heinous about killing a person more than pulling a tooth, or removing our tonsils, isn’t it just tissue? We know that killing people already born is not just killing tissue. Words like “freedom of choice”, “right to privacy”, “my body, my rights”, are the death veil being pulled over our eyes, and we buy into the politically correct way of thinking that “this is life”.
NO!!! Life is not like that! Life is breathing, moving, loving, caring, touching, reaching. Life is reality. Life is living. Life is not just of flesh and blood.
Science tells us that when sperm meets egg, a human being has begun it’s journey of growing, changing and ultimately ends at death.
Science, however, cannot tell us when that mass of cells becomes a living soul, when it can think, when that mass of tissue has “life” with personality, character and compassion.
Our hearts would tell us when “life” begins if we would only listen. More than our hearts — the Bible tells us that God is the author of life and God has said that “life” begins at conception. Man becomes truly a living being at that miraculous moment… when sperm unites with egg…when the two become one… a new life is created in the image of our Creator.
Christmas is a time to remember the awesomeness of the miracle called conception.
The miracle of Christmas is the incarnation when God, Himself, became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word became flesh, in all ways, all of God, became fully human — the incarnate Christ, Jesus, fully God and fully man.
If he was not fully man at conception then, exactly who was John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb responding to when Mary entered their home. Was John, a 6 month old fetus, truly human or “just tissue”? Did John truly herald the arrival of his Lord and King? Elizabeth acknowledged the Lord’s presence, was she acknowledging only “tissue” or was this “tissue” the living Messiah?
The miracle of the incarnation is that Jesus was present in that room in the fullness of God and in the fullness of humanity. John a six-month old baby in the womb, not just tissue, was leaping for joy at the arrival of Jesus the Messiah.
Life was rejoicing over LIFE… NOT just tissue.
As you hear the bells this Christmas day, remember the incarnation and birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we celebrate the coming of the Messiah, remember that His human life began before his birthday, it began in the womb at conception.
Remember that before the angels announced his birth, John the Baptist, still in his mother’s womb was announcing the arrival of Immanuel, God with us.
Then, may you also think about the millions of unborn babies yet to be born. The millions of women who need a support system of others reaching out in compassionate, active care. Millions of people in poverty, prejudice, and persecution needing to be recognized as human beings made in the image of God, worthy of “Life”.
Even as the shepherds were sharing the good news of Jesus’ birth and the wise men offered gifts, Satan tried to snuff out the life of the baby Jesus. Remember how Satan continues to try and snuff out lives today.
Our Lord is looking for this generation of shepherds to share the good news of Life, and God wants to use this generation of wise men to offer gifts and protection to those who have been given life.
Life is more than just tissue, more than just flesh and blood, more than the body. For this little baby, grew to be a man and poured out His blood and allowed His flesh to be crucified, killed and buried.
Then this man, Jesus, proved that He, alone, is the One who is worthy and has the power and the keys to life and death, because He conquered death and openly displayed that life is more than what we can see or touch.
Let us join with the angels, the shepherds, the wise men in sharing the good news that the Author of Life has come, Immanuel, God is with us, has dwelt among us, the Prince of peace, wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Almighty God is come to offer LIFE, LIFE ABUNDANT, LIFE ETERNAL.
Christmas… the celebration of the birth of the Christ child.
An enchanted season caught up in a winter magic moment that “heaven and nature sings” “peace on earth, good will towards men”, repeated with “sounding joy”.
There has been so much said about various facets on the birth of Jesus, what could I possibly add. I prayed, “God, give me fresh insight, something new to say, a revelation I haven’t seen before in the Christmas story.” It was almost like I heard the Lord reply, “repeat the sounding joy”.
“…I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body…” (II Peter 1:12-13)
I love the Christmas story, it fills my mind with wondrous questions; it fills my heart with an abiding peace; it overwhelms my soul with a revelation of His abundant love.
To think that God in all His omnipotence, His omnipresence, His omniscience, would be confined and contained in the form of a newborn baby.
To think that God would humble Himself, take on the form of a human being is too incredible for my mind or heart to comprehend.
To think that God, Ruler of the universe, King of kings and Lord of lords, Master and Creator of all things, would become a servant, to be served but to serve is almost incomprehensible for me to understand.
To be reminded of the obedience of Joseph and the yielded pureness of Mary in the face of accusations, assault of character, and the accepted cultural norms… all this encourages me to walk in integrity, faithfulness, and a willingness to be obedient.
To be reminded of the wisemen, the diligent, patient, pursuit of worshipping in spirit and truth… no matter how long the search, how far the miles; how instead of returning to one who is a destroyer and usurper, they chose a path of integrity and avoided betrayal… all of this inspires me to continuously pursue and seek the Lord, worship, give things that are precious, and to not give up.
To be reminded of the shepherds, being faithful to the menial task of minding sheep, and be blessed with a glorious and wondrous revelation of good news, to not be content with just seeing angels or messengers of heaven but then to actually follow through and seek out the meaning and source of the visitation, to not only bow, worship and be filled with wonder, but then to spread the Word… challenges me to not be content with revelation, or just sit forever in contemplation, but to go and share the Good News.
So, I will tell the story over and over and over again… the wonder of a virgin conceiving a child, the wonder of God becoming man, the wonder of the angels, the wonder of the star, the wonder of the wisemen and shepherds, the wonder of His salvation, the “wonders of His love”.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
“…and He shall be called Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.. and they will call Him Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’.” (Matthew 1:21,23)
Perhaps in sharing the Christmas story, someone might really hear with their heart and come to know the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
Perhaps someone will be set free from the bondages and wages of sin. Perhaps someone in the midst of struggles and hopelessness will come to know Immanuel, that God is with them. Perhaps those walking in darkness and shadows will have the Light of the world bring light to theirs.
Speaking of lights, Jesus told us to “let your light shine before men” (Matthew 5:16) This is our time of year to ring out the message of hope, peace, and love. This is our time to “repeat the sounding joy” and for all to “receive our King”. This is our time to “Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere that Jesus Christ is born” so that others might become born again.
Join with me, as “I’ll tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.”
(This is a revised version of an article originally previously published in the Christian Quarterly approximately the winter of 1997)
(Note: this was originally published on my other blog site… which I’m gradually moving all things over to this blog.)
I love the “holidays”. Especially when Thanksgiving comes. For me it signals the beginning of the circle of the seasons. Beginning with Giving Thanks, the height of the fall/autumn/harvest season, the beginning of Advent, the soon coming winter Solstice the “darkest, longest night” of the year, followed by the birth of the Bright and Morning Star, the Sun (Son) Eternal, followed by Epiphany, the Lenten Spring, culminating in the Feast of Feasts, Pascha, the Resurrection of the Son of Man and Son of God, with the blessings of Pentecost where out of many tribes, tongues and nations we have the opportunity to become united in one Body, healing the divides between human beings and God, and between one another.
Tied up in Thanksgiving, I’m once again bothered by the “political correctness” that grips our American culture to the point of guilt, strangulation and making us prisoner to hide our desire to celebrate. This year’s disturbance caused me to jump on my “soapbox” because of reading a Facebook post which referenced another blog by Kathy Escobar, which you can read hear, A More Honest Thanksgiving.
I must say I do agree with much of what Kathy says,
“I don’t feel guilty for celebrating.
Gratitude is usually always a good thing. It heals. It helps bring light into darkness. It binds us together. It’s a spiritual practice.
But I also think it’s important to be more honest about the roots of Thanksgiving.
I read the Doctrine of Discovery a few years ago and the words have been embedded in my mind every since. Papal decrees in the 1400’s, it laid some of the tracks for what we live with today—oppression, discrimination, separation, and prejudice. All in the name of Jesus. The destructive roots of Christian colonialism are deep and strong.”
As many of you know I’m not one to keep quiet… (okay, you can stop laughing now). I did make my comments on both Facebook and her blog.
However, I thought I would post my more lengthy thoughts here…
But remember it was a time of those in power to conquer or be conquered. It was s time of state formations and migrations of large people groups.
Much of the lands of Christiandom had just come through an assault by the Saracens/Turks/Islam with the bulk of Christians martyred and killed for their faith and the ancient lands of Christianity and Judaism, much of North Africa and into a large portion of Europe were overrun by the Saracens.
Unfortunately it was also a time where Eastern Christians had already split with the West and unless they bowed to Rome they could expect no help with the Saracens. It is in this climate where Christians began to make protests against the abuses in the church by those in authority and often in collusion with Rulers of other countries (the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation), thus sojourner/pilgrims began traveling from one country to another to freely worship God yet they were ignorant that they were still slaves to a “superiority” mindset over “barbarians” engrained from the culture in which they were raised.
On to North Americans…
I finished reading a book called “1491” by Charles C Mann (2nd Edition) based on the most current archeological artifacts and narratives of the Americas. It has a very different point of view that I had not heard in this dialogue and may upset some of the “politically correct” narratives. His follow-up book 1493 is also fascinating.
It mentioned there was quite a bit of tribal warfare between opposing tribes along with disease wiping out entire tribes brought by European traders & slavers.
The basics of the back history to the Thanksgiving story is Chief Massasoit had been playing a political angle for better positioning and protection from an opposing tribal group. And there were two rival interpreters Squanto and another man (I can’t remember his name at this time) playing rival factions which all erupted in violence.
Chief Massasoit (smaller/weaker tribe) actually gave land with promised conditions of “my enemies are yours” so when another tribal group attacked, (a set up by one of the interpreters) the “pilgrims” were obligated to kill the opposing party. War broke out, and as in all wars there is decimation and devastation on both sides, but ultimately the settlers were the victors.
Long story short, rival tribal groups continued to play opposing sides with various European factions all the way up to the war of 1800’s. England was hiring one tribe to fight the newly formed United States of America who hired other native tribes to fight back.
Both European Americans and Native Americans were making promises that went unkept.
Along with European Americans having no idea that they brought diseases that native Americans had no immune system to fight against. They had a presumptuous false belief that God was blessing their “superior race” and punishing the heathens. Although many white people died from the small pox and influenza that swept through the colonies it did not wreck the devastation as it did on the natives.
As I mentioned before, we often forget this was a time period of European colonialism which spread across the globe. New political States/Countries we’re forming and boundary lines new constantly being redrawn.
Very different mindset and culture than we have today. The rise of Feudalism and “landed” people vs. “peasants”. It’s easy for us to slip into judgement of how “evil” the Western Caucasian Europeans were. But we should be cautious to label one “group of people” as the sole blame for “colonialism” when around the world it was s time of great upheaval and migration.
Let us also remember the conquests of the Asiatic cultures throughout Asia of one warring faction against another… names like: the Mongols, Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, the Sultans of the “tribes” of Central Asia, the Saracens, Turks & Islam conquests eventually known as the Ottoman Empire.
Maybe let us go all the way back to the various warring tribes since the time of Cain and Abel, the Tower of Babel, “Ishmael against Issac”, Africans warring against and enslaving each other, all over the world where differing tribes try to conquer other tribes, including Europeans against Europeans (English vs. Irish, Catholic vs. Orthodox, French vs. English, etc.) up to the present day where we have Shiite’s vs. Sunni’s, Zulu’s vs. Hutu’s, and more.
Us against Them… we are still fighting over resources and differences.
Thanksgiving is a reminder we all are part of, in some way, a guilty tribe of one or the other.
Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity and a time to lay down our “arms” and open up our “arms” to “embrace the other without loss of the self” as Miroslav Volf would say in the latest book I’m reading, “Exclusion and Embrace” (given to me by my sister, Dr. Deborah Dunn, PhD, professor at Westmont College, Santa Barbara).
Thanksgiving is a time to remember how one “tribe” (Native Americans) decided to help another starving “tribe” (European settlers fleeing persecution, exclusion or annihilation) to survive.
At that time and place, having a meal together to celebrate and give thanks, was to recognize the benefits of the mutual survival of both tribes, a time of peace and diversity and sharing a common table and giving thanks.
Perhaps we can still learn from the “first thanksgiving” and not just about the food, and football and Macy’s parades.
Perhaps we can still seek the image of our creator God in the face of the other person, including one we would deem as our enemy or “not like us”.
Truly, each individual is made in His image, each one has unique gifts, talents, skills to enhance our own lives as much as we have to enhance theirs. Their is a universal law of the Sanctity of a Human Life.
Let us remember, let us repent, let us forgive, let us let go of the pain, let us embrace, let us heal, let us give thanks for each other and the God who created us all and longs to embrace us into One Body… His Love!
Let us celebrate and give Thanks for each other, our blessings, our God. Happy Thanksgiving
I am a Dog Trainer, Singer, Inspirational Motivational Speaker, Writer.
I truly enjoy being a conference speaker, workshop speaker or just plain public speaking… the best part is sharing my heart, being real, being passionate about eternal values and caring for human beings then making that connection with the audience. Each speaking opportunity, each speaking moment is a unique moment in time, with unique individuals, never to be repeated again in time and space. What an awesome privilege to be part of the process of growing and sharing in this way with people.
I play the Guitar, Flute, Recorder, Irish Tin Whistle. I love to read, love history, love theology, love Celtic Christianity. I enjoy birdwatching, camping, houseboating, gardening, reading, music and fishing. I LOVE THE TRIUNE GOD!
I have a wonderful family and faithful friends… I love them so deeply. God has truly blessed me!