June 25, 2018
I visited a dear friend in the hospital last week. It was one of those warm visits where you appreciate every word and are glad for the friendship as well as the spirit of the person. She was dealing with the last stages of cancer, and on my way home, I prayed that the Lord would take her home quickly. The next day I received word that she was gone.
Every time I think of her, I remember a special smile and a positive attitude. In addition to deep faith, she had a real community attitude and contributed much to the lives of her family and of everyone around her. From her church to the Rosebud Cattlewomen and many other groups, she was hard working and instrumental in outreach and success.
Of course, I miss her and feel she died too young, even if mid 70's is a good, long life. But I go back to Rabbi Harold Kuchner’s thoughts in “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” What he said is that life is like a tapestry, where we see only the back – the loose threads, the knots, the obscure picture – and God sees the finished side. We do not know His plan, only that He is in charge and that we need to trust in Him.
I rejoice in faith that enables us to rejoice with loved ones who are in Heaven and at peace at the same time that we celebrate their lives here on earth. Pictures are a major way to enhance that celebration, for in pictures someone like my friend is young, eager, smiling and enjoying life.
When our son died, pictures became a way of celebration and of healing. My daughter’s children each have a collage of pictures of Uncle Josh, and every time I am in their rooms I find myself chuckling over the fun pictures and treasuring all of them. Josh again comes alive in those pictures and my memories.
I know that among my readers are people missing loved ones. May God surround you with His love, His assurance of Heaven, and warm memories to wrap around yourselves like a comfort quilt.
June 19, 2018
Normally, my blog posts are Monday, but this week my Monday was packed full. A dear friend and I were visiting another friend at Glendive, Montana, in middle Eastern Montana near the North Dakota border. After our visit, we spent time hiking in Makoshika Park, a beautiful state park full of badlands.
Makoshika has dinosaur remains and other fossils as well as very interesting formations in the badlands. This verdant spring of heavy rains has also encouraged all of the wildflowers to put on their best finery. We enjoyed everything from fields of sego lilies to prickly pear cactus in bloom with their lovely pinks and yellows to huge white yucca spikes.
I think there is a lesson in the loveliness of a place like Makoshika Park. Our Creator formed our world with much variety, and all of it is beautiful in its own way. I love the mountains of western Montana, but at times the impact of so many people changes the landscape and interferes with relaxation and appreciation of beauty. In our area of sparse population, we have time to be alone and to drink in untouched and unique places.
Some environmental groups put down ranchers because a small minority of ranchers overgraze and abuse the land. The truth is that good ranchers know that they are dependent year after year on the quality and condition of the grasses and other vegetation, and they have to respect it and take care of it in order to continue their livelihood.
My husband works for a large ranch, and he has had experiences like riding a horse onto a hill overlooking a game trail and seeing a mother badger with three baby badgers waddling along behind her down the trail. What an experience! The badgers live well in the protected areas of the ranch and help to keep down small rodents. Their homes depend upon people’s respect for the land.
This is our Father’s world – and we are an important part of it. As with so many things, it just depends on our faith and our respect for all creation.
June 11, 2018
Music is on my mind today. It has always been part of my life, from the days when my brother and I would fall asleep to our folks’ records of the great classical symphonies through my years of piano lessons. Those lessons were followed by learning to play violin and later viola for school orchestras in junior high and high school.
In college I was part of Campus Ministry, and we met in a room without a piano and wanted to sing. So I bought my first guitar and learned to chord for our singing, from hymns to folk songs.
During my teaching years, I also gave piano lessons and thoroughly enjoyed accompanying for the music department concerts, music festivals, etc. Through all of these things, the music was important but the relationships with people was even more important.
Being part of music ministry in church has been a love of mine ever since I began playing for hymns in our Sunday School when I was 10. This past weekend, I did music with my dear friend Jan for our church service and found my heart singing as it always does.
The Bible tells us to make a joyful noise onto the Lord and to come into his presence with singing. The reason for this is praise, but the results are much more. Blessings flow from music.
First, endorphins fill us from music, making us more joyful and cascading out to everyone listening. Second, music requires mental agility, which is always good for us and becomes even more so as we age. Third, the focus required to do music well is good for everything about us, and it discourages bad thoughts, anger and sadness.
Whether you are a participating musician or a listener, be sure you enjoy music ever day. And praise our God with joyful noise.
By the way, this evening I’m off to an honor band concert combining three school bands who will soon be traveling to Orlando. Hooray for music!
June 4, 2018
This week my husband Doug and I celebrate our anniversary. Forty-four years of marriage, not always easy but definitely filled with wonderful moments and made stronger by the hardest times we have experienced.
Marriage is a difficult topic in our time, so often entered into without mature decision making, so often exited – sometimes for very good reasons like abuse or infidelity and sometimes because people don’t get the concept of “for better or worse”
We still have our wedding gift from my parents hanging on our bedroom wall: a cross with wedding rings in front of it. It fits with our priest’s comment that Christian marriage as a sacrament includes not just the couple taking their vows but the Lord Jesus walking with them and blessing their union.
When I wrote in my book Walking at the Speed of Light about truly walking with Jesus, that walk was meant to apply to every aspect of our lives, including relationships. Relationships need enlightenment, need the blessings of commitment and grace, and need Jesus’ example of loving each other as ourselves.
Like so many things in our Christian lives, relationships are not easy – in fact, Jesus’ emphasis on forgiveness stems from the fact that human relationships are subject to human error and therefore demand the presence of forgiveness. But I wonder if relationships like marriage would really be worthwhile for us if they were easy. From the time that Adam and Eve left the garden, they were given challenges which required hard work, struggle, and often suffering to lead to success by God’s definition.
So as I think of friends and relatives, including our children, grandchildren and siblings wishing us a Happy Anniversary, I realize that we’re witnessing God’s joy once more, that joy which extends beyond temporary happiness. I need to remember every day to thank God for Doug and our marriage.
I just want to continue to share ideas about grief and life with people who long as I do for comfort and understanding.