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.
Maybe you have come to a place in your life that feels like a dead end, you’re going nowhere, life seems hopeless. Maybe you think that you have sinned one too many times, failed too many times, keep doing things you don’t want to do but you do them over and over again. Maybe you feel you’re at the end of the rope, the stress, the worries, about money, health, family, children, the state of the world, or the area you live in. You’ve tried to “get it together”. You’ve tried to have a “stiff upper lip”. You’ve tried will power or “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps”. All your efforts have been ineffective and you have realized you can’t change anything on your own or in your own strength. It’s beyond your capabilities.
I have some good news! If we could fix, rescue, save ourselves, we would not need a Savior, a Deliverer, an Advocate, a Rescuer, a Redeemer, a Great Physician, a Comforter.
If we could live up to all that is right and have good health, with plenty of money to spend, we would probably be so high-minded and so full of our own self-righteousness, with our homes full of material worthless possessions. We would not hear the cries of the broken, let alone be aware of them or understand them.
It is when we are broken and humbled, brought low and become weak, finally hearing and seeing, and hoping that someone will hear and see us, it is in this state real Love steps in.
God knew we needed Him. Before we asked, He had the answer. Before we looked, He was standing before us. Before we knocked, He was in our midst. Before we died, He died for us so we could live. Before we went to hell, He descended into hell, broke the gates, and set the hostages free, breaking the chains, and overcame the demons.
As a Christian you may know all this in your head, but getting it to sink deep down into our hearts is another matter. Just by being honest with God, knowing we can’t change ourselves, is the first step. This is where God’s mercy and grace comes in to transform our lives. This is what Easter is all about.
Perhaps Easter is not a big celebration because we are still focusing on pain, sin, suffering, death and all of our dreams and hopes have been buried at the bottom of the sea or in a mile high mud slide. We are stuck on “Good Friday & Great Saturday” and we can’t see anything “good or great” about it. Except we can’t just stop there.
Yes, there is a time to deal with our sins and failures, life’s disappointments and tragedies. We need to remember the “Via Delarosa” the road to Christ’s crucifixion; how Jesus carried the load if humanity’s sins, failures and tragedies to calvary and then was nailed with all of this to the Cross.
We need to remember how the Lamb of God loved us, was slain for us and died for us, even while we were still at war with God and still God’s enemy.
We need to be reminded no matter how perfect or good we might think we are, even then we are filthy rags compared to the perfection and holiness of God. We are never going to measure up, will always fall short. We are set in our own selfish ways, no matter how close we get to God, we will still tend to be selfish and self-willed.
This is why we need God. This is why Jesus died. We need a Savior.
But then… God was not content to leave us at the cross. God was not done with being buried. God, Himself triumphed over death. He has conquered hell and the grave. “Oh death where is your sting? Oh grave where is your victory?”
As it was for Christ God, we too must go through death… death to our own ideas of somehow earning our way into God’s presence; death to our own works of righteousness and good works; death to our own ways, our own dreams. We also need to let Jesus take our sin, even when we can’t give it to Him. Only in dying can we obtain new life. Jesus trampled down death by death.
Having died with Christ, it is time we remember we are to live in Christ. Let us no longer linger in death and burial. Let us visit the empty tomb. Let us see the guards as dead men. Let us hear the Angels proclamation, “He is risen, just as He said.”
Easter is about Jesus conquering death, not us conquering death, but God. Only by hiding in the shelter of His wings, coming under His robe, being washed in His blood, losing ourself in Jesus, will we too conquer death.
God has been faithful through centuries of generations of individuals who have put their trust in Him. God is faithful even when we are not. The steadfast love of The Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. We can take Him at His Word.
Right now, our lives may be full of stress and very topsy turvy. I know that better days are ahead if we put our trust in the Lord. I also know things might get full of trials and tribulations and temptations.
The Spirit of The Lord will come upon our lives to comfort us, walk beside us, live inside us, will be our strength, will pray for us when we don’t know how.
God will give us a peace that passes understanding, a joy overflowing, a hope everlasting, a trust that is faithful and a love all fulfilling. More than what we can ask, think, or comprehend.
He opened the way to Life and not an ordinary one but an abundant life. He gave us something stronger than “happiness”, He gave us JOY! He loves us unconditionally with an everlasting love. He takes as we are and transforms us into what we were destined to be.
I truly am blessed and I do mean blessed when I remember the people, friends, family, even strangers who have come into my life. God had sent all of them, even those who have meant evil, all we’re sent by God. All have helped me in so many ways to bring me closer to God; to find enjoyment in this life; see things through the eyes of a child; to see the wonders of the world around me and so much more to discover. To truly pray “Our Father, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
Now everyday I ask myself, “In the light of Eternity, what does it matter?” It puts into perspective what is eternally important and what is going to pass away. I want to know Christ in the fellowship of His sufferings, that I might know Him in the power of His resurrection.
“Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death. And on those in the tombs bestowing life.”
Christ is risen! In Truth He is risen! He is risen indeed!