May 30, 2018
Laptop repairs have kept me from making this blog entry on time – my apologies, but I guess we all know what the world of technology is like. My thoughts were related to Memorial Day, made even more poignant with being just days away from a meaningful program for church members in the little town of Dillon in southwestern Montana.
I do programs based on my book, offering ideas for healing darkness – in various forms of sadness, grief, or depression. After this program, I had some special time with a wonderful young woman who had just lost her brother and was dealing with fresh grief. Like my daughter at the time our son died, this woman was seeing the despair of her parents who lost a child but also knowing that losing a sibling is painful, too. Meaningful literature on this subject points out that parents can remember a life before the child they have lost but that siblings often have no life experience that doesn’t include the brother or sister.
My brother, my husband and I were decorating graves on Monday and noting the variations of ages – our father who was 97, our niece who was 27, a baby cousin who only lived a few days, and every age in between. We are reminded that God’s heaven is open to all who believe, no matter what age or what story is connected with death. Sometimes we are plunged into grief in a single day, as happened with our son killed in a car accident, and sometimes families go through years knowing that death threatens a loved one. A dear friend of us talked of dealing with grief with their daughter for 8 years before her death because the cancer could never actually be removed, just held at bay.
On this beautiful Memorial Day, with sunshine illuminating the white stones for the military heroes and shining on the beautiful flowers on a variety of graves for loved ones of all ages, we are reminded that the power of God stays with us. Death becomes a conduit to eternal life, and our feelings of grief become a reminder that we have loved and delighted in others.
May 21, 2018
Yesterday we traveled to the little town of Winnett, Montana, to award a scholarship in memory of our son Josh, who figures prominently in my book, Walking at the Speed of Light, because his death began my journey through grief and depression to a deeper faith. We were pleased to give two scholarships this year, both to young people who had struggled in school and were not the top of their class academically. But they both chose to go on in schooling in trade professions, one in diesel mechanics and the other in cosmetology, and we like to reward those goals because we need our trades people every bit as much as we need our academic college grads.
The commencement speaker at Winnett emphasized three things which I wish every graduate in America could be directed towards –particularly rather than political diatribes. He exhorted the students to pursue passion, flexibility and persistence. In this day and age, all three of these are essential to success, and it is interesting that at the time I graduated the one quality which might not be mentioned is flexibility, something which becomes more crucial with more and more technological change.
However, I would like to add that faith is essential. Faith in self is emphasized a lot, and of course we want our young people to overcome self doubts and failures and to continue to believe that they can continue to try and to succeed. However, faith in something greater than ourselves is fundamental to fulfilled lives. Too often young people are shown examples by their elders of people who turn to faith in God only when times get unbearable, as though Jesus serves as a triage doctor rather than a focus for real faith and real life.
If you have a teenager or young adult in your life, encourage true faith in Jesus, guidance from His words and actions, and belief that every person is worth dying for, worth saving, worth granting life far beyond a focus on the years beyond high school. That kind of faith makes for a bright future!
May 14, 2018
I hope that all of you readers celebrated Mother’s Day in a positive way yesterday, either in the “bosom of family” or in memory or just with some sort of communication. I personally had a lovely time, first with the “church family” in the little town of Hysham, Montana, and then enjoying a barbecue and fun with my son and family. Plus a great phone call with my daughter and children.
In the midst of this, I thought of my own mother. Our relationship wasn’t perfect -- in fact at times rocky because of her mental condition – but I loved her and am eternally grateful for some of her gifts to me. Among them were teaching me to play the piano, a gift I exercise regularly at the nursing home and assisted living home as well as at the church today.
I want to share a paragraph from my book which speaks of an aspect of light illustrated by a story related to my mother. I share it because it makes a point related to the Light of the World and also because it reminds me that her faith was an inspiration.
“When my mother died at age 92, her memorial requests were for the Sunday School Department of the church she and my father attended for so many years. A teacher asked that the funds be spent for Bibles for the third and fourth grade classes. When the Bibles were given out, one little boy’s reaction was something I knew would have brought joy to my mother’s weary heart. Asked why the new books had footprints across the cover, the boy replied, “Because ‘Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path’” (Psalm 119:105). Amen.”
I hope that your mother – or someone significant in your life – sowed in you the seeds of lifetime faith. It is a gift beyond measure.
May 8, 2018
My apologies for being a day late with my blog. It is ironic that at a time I had planned to slow down and take it easy, my husband is dealing with sciatica and has needed my help while I’m doing forty other things.
In case that sounded like a complaint, it is not. I rely heavily on my strong marriage and my strong husband to help me through physical, mental, and emotional challenges. And he says the same of me.
That observation brings up an interesting question related to “Walking at the Speed of Light,” in which I emphasize the importance of being yoked with Jesus and following Him. How does that work with being yoked with a spouse and walking closely with that person?
The answer necessitates Christian marriage. The Bible makes it clear that a Christian marriage involves not only two committed people but also the Savior which they are both committed to, like the symbol we have on a plaque which shows wedding rings and a cross.
Two people walking together and making their decisions based on mutual belief have an excellent chance of keeping that situation going for years, as long as they add God-given senses of humor and ability to forgive.
What happens, then, when one person is out of step? As I point out in my book, being out of step is common and can often lead to stronger faith, as we see with both Peter and Thomas.
I sincerely believe that self-forgiveness is just as important in marriage as forgiveness of a spouse. Good marriages necessitate two people capable of following Jesus’ example of loving and forgiving – loving and forgiving ourselves as well as each other.
After I wrote that last paragraph, I realized that it applies not only to marriage but to any relationship with any relative, friend, or neighbor. Jesus always provides the perfect example.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers out there! More related to that next week.
I just want to continue to share ideas about grief and life with people who long as I do for comfort and understanding.