September 24, 2018
Today was an interesting day at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, with my college friends who like me turned 70 this year and figured it was time for another reunion. We met as college freshmen and worked with area churches to start the United Campus Christian Ministry at Eastern Montana College, including calling our first Campus Minister who remains a dear friend.
We were immersed in the history of this area, including not only Fort Laramie from fur trading post to Army fort but also Register Cliff full of carved names from as early as 1815 and the Oregon Trail Ruts State Historic Site. It is the last which inspires my thoughts for today’s blog post.
Reading about the Oregon Trail set us all to thinking about the lives of people involved in such a major undertaking as spending six months going west with a covered wagon. Death stalked them continuously, with sicknesses like cholera, infections with scarce medicines, drownings at river crossings, and of course death of babies and mothers during childbirth.
As we all know, death brings grief to the spouses, parents, siblings, and friends left behind, and grief although natural is an additional burden during already overwhelming times and situations. Can you imagine suffering from grief while you also must struggle to keep others alive, to tend to horses or oxen, to provide meals and rest, and to negotiate difficult passages in mountains or across rivers?
What kept people functioning during those times? The answer often was Christian faith. If you read pioneer journals, almost always they wrote of praying and of putting lives in God’s hands, of trusting in Him, and of looking toward a future of promise because of God’s promises. Second, these people also believed in their dreams and practiced perseverance. Third, they worked together, helping each other with everything from childcare to wagon repairs to directions to assistance with tasks for everyday living.
What a gift our faith is when coupled with true Christian community! Christianity doesn’t make life easier, but it certainly makes coping easier and more hopeful.
September 17, 2018
Today my dear granddaughter Parker is having surgery to correct a problem in her knee. She is a talented softball player who is dependent on the success of this surgery to continue her softball as well as all aspects of her young life. She is in my prayers, of course.
As I think of her today, I think of all people who are in the hospital, undergoing surgery or treatment. And I think of their families and friends who wait by bedsides and in waiting rooms or in motel rooms or other places. I remember so well “escaping” momentarily for time outside to walk and breathe fresh air while my mother underwent surgery and ICU time, realizing in the middle of a walk that I was still waiting.
Jesus has answers and compassion for those who are waiting – waiting in some cases for healing and improvement and in some cases for inevitable death. He understands the enormous stress of standing by, unable to do anything for someone other than to be there. In His ministry He witnessed so much suffering, and of course as the Healer He offered answers to many. Still, He knew that the suffering of the people, not just their own individual ills or troubles but also the injustices of the Romans and the ruling Jews, would go on.
So what do we do when can’t do anything but stand by and wait? I am reminded again of one of my favorite stories from Norman Vincent Peale, when the woman said, “At least I can pray.” His answer was “No, at MOST you can pray.”
Time at a bedside or in a hospital chapel bringing our aching hearts before the Lord and asking for His help is what He wants from us during those times of helpless suffering for others. We need to acknowledge the fact that when one family member or friend is suffering, all who love them are suffering in their own ways, worrying and wondering and at times despairing. Our prayers can bring them comfort and peace – and bring that comfort and peace to us, as well.
So today I pray for Parker – and for all who need His healing and compassion.
September 11, 2018
Today is September 11, a solemn day of remembering and mourning for those directly affected in the incidents of 9/11 and for all of us who were affected by the whole tragedy and especially by the feelings of insecurity and loss. We should all be lifting our prayers today in thanksgiving for those who were heroic and giving and in compassion for those who have lived with the death of dear ones that day.
Today is September 11, a day which is also a major landmark in my life, for today is the “launch date” of my book, “Walking at the Speed of Light.” Morgan James Publishing and I made the mutual decision to have the book release date be today, because my book deals with healing for those suffering from grief and depression. Healing is always needed, but on this day we realize how many people across our land and across the world are suffering.
I sincerely believe that a book should have a purpose, often just to entertain or to amuse, often to delve into some sort of universal truth – but sometimes to help others. At the time of my son’s death, my focus was on my own pain and grief and on the same things which faced all of our family and friends who were close to him. Little did I know then that the focus would change as I healed and the need would arise to share not only his life and death and my experiences with others but also the faith which had become my focus and had seen me through those experiences.
I sincerely believe that those changes in focus from self to helping others are a great deal of what Christianity is all about. We are not meant to suffer alone and to allow others to suffer alone. We are meant to take our suffering to Jesus, who knows more about suffering than any of us can ever imagine, and then to realize that others need not only our listening and caring but our encouragement to take their suffering to Him as well.
Today I am signing books in Fact and Fiction Bookstore in Missoula, Montana. This is a wonderful way to celebrate the launch date of this book which has so much of my heart in it. But it also is a way to honor September 11, to honor the grief we all share.
September 3, 2018
Happy Labor Day to all of the hardworking people out there, whatever your profession. I hope that you feel supported in what you do to contribute to our lives. I was so fortunate to grow up in a family with a strong work ethic and to marry a man with the same commitment. Our children continue with dedication to work done well, and they are passing that commitment down to their children – something not always the case in this day and age.
Our Christian heritage supports this strong work ethic, including the Puritan rule that those who don’t work don’t eat. Dedication to faith and family always includes working hard to provide all of the family with food and shelter and all other needs. In addition, we believe in giving part of what we receive for our work to our churches and to charities which help others who may not be able to earn all that they need.
Jesus was raised by a carpenter in a community of laboring people. He chose working men – fishermen and others – to be his Disciples. He saw in men like Peter not only the understanding and dedication to the faith but also the commitment which would lead to hard work in supporting and spreading the Gospel. When He talked to them about being “fishers of men,” he was relating their Christian duties to what they knew from their profession.
Jesus honored workers in His parables and teachings. Farmers or “sowers” and shepherds were mentioned often in His stories. The crowds who gathered to listen to Him including people who were familiar with all aspects of agriculture and other “blue collar” jobs related to natural resources. And of course, shepherds were there to see Him shortly after His birth and to recognize Him as the Messiah who would offer compassion and salvation to all. Can you imagine their excitement in realizing that they and their families would be blessed with His message and His promise?
Thank God for work and for all workers!
I just want to continue to share ideas about grief and life with people who long as I do for comfort and understanding.