November 26, 2018
For my blog this week, I wanted to share a story which really touched my heart because it speaks not only to Thanksgiving but to so many people’s journeys and the comfort and needs they share, sometimes by chance.
I did a program for a group of Compassionate Friends led by a longtime friend of mine. If you are not acquainted with Compassionate Friends, they are community-based support groups for parents who have lost children of any age. They are all part of a nationwide effort.
This was a good-sized group of people who are all dealing with devastating darkness and reaching out to each other to find solace. I was honored to present a program for them, because I know that my experience is neither unique nor a source of expertise. All I want to do is to share some thoughts to encourage some productive coping and hopefully healing.
After the program, a middle-aged man sat down beside me and told me that he was my son Josh’s friend, that they had met when Josh was working on his farm equipment and had maintained the friendship with a lot of visits and good times together. He came to my program because he knew that any time someone like me meets someone who values their deceased loved one, that in itself is a comfort.
The story deepens. This young man and his wife had lost their twenty-year-old daughter to a car accident two years ago. What he told me is that in the five years since Josh’s death, he never could have imagined that Josh’s story could become a source of comfort for them in their family loss.
Do moments like this happen by chance? No, I believe in what one friend calls the times when God “winks” and another friend calls “little letters from God.” Somehow, He will direct our lives so that we make a connection with someone whose story we need to hear, and both they and we will gain more understanding of His grace and His power in our lives.
May God bless you with many of these moments.
November 19, 2018
This Thanksgiving week is celebrated in a lot of different ways, hopefully with family and friends whether there is a turkey or not. But the important thing is that we heed the words of Abraham Lincoln in the Thanksgiving Proclamation: “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
The modern media/advertising habit of calling Thanksgiving “Turkey Day” needs to come to an end because no matter how much we enjoy feasting, the purpose of the holiday is not gluttony, it is gratitude. Most of us can share our “thankfuls” around the table and sincerely have something wonderful that we are grateful for.
However, the Bible puts a different slant on gratitude when we are exhorted to be thankful in “all things.” That makes it tougher, doesn’t it? We can easily be thankful when things are good by our standards, but that does not cover “all things.”
As you know, I deal often through my book and programs with grief and depression. Do we give thanks when we lose someone dear? Of course not – it would be inhuman to do so. What we need to do is to be open to the ways in which God works through all things to touch our lives and remind us of His presence and His will.
In my case, I have learned to value life and loved one’s lives more, to appreciate the effects of organ donation, to depend on Jesus’ words and presence more, and to take time to love and give more. Every one of those things are things to be thankful for. And of course, emerging from the worst of a grief journey to again see light in the darkness is something to be thankful for.
No matter what is going on in your life right now, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and many blessings throughout the holidays.
November 12, 2018
I have to share a story as a thank you for God’s grace in our lives. When I sign my book, “Walking at the Speed of Light,” for people, I tell them I will pray for them – and I do pray for all those who have the book plus all others who need healing from darkness. I also pray that my book will fall into the right hands and help people in some way – God’s way.
I have been in Nashville at a special event held by my publisher for authors whose books are published during this half of 2018. My friend and I have also had several days just to enjoy “Music City USA” including the Grand Ole Opry, which was awesome. Saturday night we were in Luke Bryan’s restaurant for supper, and while we were waiting we were on another floor for music and a cocktail.
While I was waiting for my friend, a young woman and her friends sat down next to me. She asked where I was from and why I was in Nashville. When I told her about the publishers’ event, she asked for the title of my book. When I told her, she burst into tears and through her arms around me. Her mother had bought the book online when a favorite nephew died and then shared it with the young woman because of her grief over her cousin. The daughter shared it with her fiancé, who was dealing with his grandfather’s death. They all love the book and have been helped in their grief journeys.
Then comes the kicker. I asked when she and her fiancé were getting married, and she told me June 8. That is my husband’s and my 45th anniversary!
I felt so humbled by the number of things we were sharing in our two lives – a couple of strangers who met by chance in Nashville. And I thank God every day of my life for his blessings and mercy, for giving me the opportunity to touch lives in a positive way, far beyond my human limits. I can do all the marketing I can stand, and the good Lord will continue to put the book in the right hands at the right time.
November 5, 2018
This coming Sunday is Veterans’ Day, even more significantly the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice which ended World War I. If you are not already aware, bells will be ringing across America at 11:00a.m. on November 11 to honor the armistice and, of course, Veterans’ Day.
As you know, the purpose of my book and most of my blog entries is to offer some insight or ideas related to healing from grief and depression. In this day and age, we are very aware of the trauma of PTSD, considered a veterans’ condition originally called “shell shock” and “battle fatigue.” Actually, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can occur after any trauma; I was first aware of it related to a friend’s son who had been in a horrible car accident. He survived, but he dealt with PTSD for some time.
At any rate, PTSD includes a number of symptoms but definitely includes deep depression, sometimes suicidal. We should be praying not only on Veterans’ Day but constantly for our veterans and others afflicted with this life-altering condition. Interestingly enough, many of my 1966 classmates were involved in Viet Nam, and groups of them are now meeting and working together to help each other with PTSD symptoms which many of them had never identified before as being part of that condition.
The key here is help, and I would like to return to my usual theme of the solution to darkness of any kind being centered in the Light of the World. Do clinicians, physicians, support groups and treatments help? Of course, but any kind of disorder of this kind needs not only physical and mental healing but spiritual healing as well. No one offers spiritual healing more completely than Jesus.
How ironic that in the last number of years religion has been heavily opposed in relation to the military and many chaplains chastised or even punished for using the name of Jesus. At a time when our soldiers need it more than ever! Should Christianity be pushed on those who are unreceptive for one reason or another? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean its healing and comfort should not be offered.
Let us pray for our veterans, offer them our help and the comfort of our beliefs, and hope that the horrors of PTSD will be lessened.
I just want to continue to share ideas about grief and life with people who long as I do for comfort and understanding.