April 23, 2018
This past Saturday I did readings and a book signing at Rosebud County Library. It was wonderful to have more than 40 people come and to have such support from the library, with the Director serving wonderful breakfast croissants and fruit.
My event schedule continues this week as I do readings and signing at Bicentennial Library in Colstrip at the southern end of our county on Thursday evening, April 26. I expect to see more friends and supporters there.
The subject of today’s blog is the purpose of writing a book like mine – or Christmas poems or whatever writings come along. The publishing industry undoubtedly sees many authors who write for money, but I sincerely doubt that a Christian publication could be meaningful if its purpose was mercenary.
Instead, I realize that my book began to truly come together after I clearly understood my purpose, based on a comment by a dear friend who devoted much of his life after achieving sobriety to helping others through AA. He commented that if we use what we learn from our own life’s journey to help others, then God’s grace will flow not only into their lives but back into ours as well.
By the grace of God, I have emerged from the hardest time of my life with faith, well-being, and joy, and I know above all that I could not get to this point alone. If traveling that road with me through my writing helps someone else with comfort and healing, then the book will be justified.
I have to share a little chuckle: At no time in this process do I want to be viewed as an “expert.” My father, who was consulted often on university-level chemistry and botany, said that he avoided being labeled as an expert – because “ex” is a has-been, and “spurt” is a drip under pressure!
April 16, 2018
Today is my younger brother’s birthday. Celebration of this day is mine as well as his, simply because as a child of two I wanted a little brother and that feeling has never changed.
When my son Josh -- whose life is the initial subject of my book Walking at the Speed of Light -- died at age 33, my brother mourned with us. From that point on, he has been a source of understanding, compassion, and support. The combination of being my brother and being Josh’s uncle is a major factor, of course, in his support. But beyond that, his character and his religious faith are an equal factor.
If there is one lesson that stands out as a result of my life experiences, it is that God does not intend that we cure ourselves, pick ourselves up with our own “bootstraps,” or in any other way do everything alone. Notice Jesus’ wording: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me.” This is neither a suggestion nor an offer. It is a command! His expectation of us is that we will depend on Him, follow Him, and accept His help and grace.
Then He offers us the goodness of others in our lives to further the help and grace. Whether it has been my brother’s love, my husband’s commitment, my daughter’s empathy, my best friend’s deep faith, or the outreach of acquaintances and even strangers – the combination has reflected and augmented God’s mercy. My part included belief and acceptance above the effort I made on my own behalf.
The way out of the darkness varies for each individual, but the elements of God’s mercy and others’ compassion are essential. Because of God’s plan, the only debt we owe beyond our faith is true gratitude to Him and others. Is it any wonder that I spend my brother’s birthday celebrating, honoring him, and feeling thankful beyond words for his healing presence in my life?
April 2, 2018
My family’s celebration of Easter was full of music. My son and daughter-in-law and four of their children sang in the choir at their church, and it was indeed a joyful noise unto the Lord! Of course, we in the congregation joined in for more joyful Easter hymns.
After dinner, we gathered for more singing with old favorites like “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” “Do, Lord,” and “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” How nice to do something which involves everyone’s participation and doesn’t involve a screen! Now I realize not everyone is a great singer, but most people can contribute something and children really benefit from being encouraged to sing.
When I was 12 years old and had been taking piano lessons for 5 years, my father who was Superintendent of the Sunday School decided that I could accompany the singing during “opening exercises” before individual classes. I chose “I Love to Tell the Story,” practiced very hard, and got through that first experience at accompaniment. I have loved that particular hymn ever since – and I’ve done a lot of accompaniment.
Participation in music at home and in school is incredibly beneficial. The correlation between music participation and academic achievement is uncanny; when my brother was teaching music, he used to post the honor roll and mark his band and chorus students, easily the majority. No wonder we Christians are exhorted to sing to the Lord!
Finally, I want to mention the benefit of memorized songs, Bible verses and prayers for the elderly. I am around seniors in homes a lot, and in my observation one of the most wonderful things seniors can have to cheer up their lives and prompt their memories is music. People consumed by ill health and dementia will tap toes or fingers and mouth words to familiar songs. How much better if those songs are praise to the Lord, who gives their lives purpose. Hallelujah!
March 26, 2018
This Monday following Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, that blessing- and trial-filled week which leads to Easter. Holy Week has always meant a lot to me, and I want to share some ideas which might be of help to those who bring troubles and grief to this week.
First, pain and depression do not exist only in people of this world. Imagine what Jesus must have felt, knowing that the very people who had hailed Him with palm branches and hosannas would allow the chief priests and Romans to bring about his death.
Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday) contains within it so much of what Jesus offers, including His washing of feet like a servant, His institution of Holy Communion, His grueling prayers in the garden of Gethsemane, and His betrayal. It is in Gethsemane that Jesus begs His Father to stop His inevitable suffering and death and then chooses His Father’s will because He knows that His sacrifice is our salvation.
Our personal troubles, pain, grief and depression are something we can offer up during this week, knowing that walking with Jesus means walking with Him through the painful times as well as in glory. The whole scope of human experience and emotion becomes part of the walk to the upper room, through Gethsemane, down the path to betrayal, and then up the hill to Golgotha.
I simply cannot imagine coping with death, grief, and all kinds of darkness without the Lord of Light and salvation. He brings meaning to it all and offers compassionate help in the journey.
As I learned in my mountain-climbing days, the glory of the summit is attainable only after the challenging trek up the mountain. In the same way, Easter (or Resurrection Sunday) means nothing without the journey of Holy Week, the emotion of Holy Thursday, the agony of Good Friday, and the dark time in Hell before the Resurrection.
I wish you a blessed Holy Week and a glorious Easter!
I just want to continue to share ideas about grief and life with people who long as I do for comfort and understanding.