Navigating Grief With Your Family

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Grief is a universal experience. We all experience loss, but everyone expresses that grief in their own way. When families grieve together it requires grace and compassion.

At first I was busy taking care of the things that had to be done, trying to shield my mom from as many decisions as I could. And as long as I was busy, I was ok. It wasn’t until about a month later that I realized that the sun didn’t shine as brightly as it had before my father passed away. Sometimes panic or fear would rise up in me. The rest of the family had a good cry, but every time I could feel grief swell up in me I carefully pushed it aside. I was sure I would break in two if I let the tears come.

Dear friends, would you join me for the rest of this story over at Family Fire? I pray that all is well with you and your family, and that if you are reading this because you are grieving that God would heal you where you hurt.

Sharing a playdate today with dear Laura:

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Laura Boggess

How A Book Launch Quilted The Pieces of My Heart Together

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Healing takes time, and time is something I seem to have very little of. So when my father passed away very unexpectantly several years ago, as an only child I shifted into survival mode; checking on mom and making the necessary adjustments.  I gave myself very little time to grieve, and that was probably calculated to some extent.

Reading takes time, and time is something I seem to have very little of. So when my dear Emily asked me to be on her book launch team and read her first piece of fiction, A Promise In Pieces, part of me groaned.  Between running a non-profit, attempting to blog here and there, writing a novel, being a brand new freelance blogger at Family Fire, promoting a children’s picture book and caring for my family, the request seemed like another thing to add to an increasingly long “to-do” list.

But God…He is so good at multi-tasking!  I began reading this novel, and enjoying the strong female characters as I was drawn into their world…but as I continued I couldn’t put the book down.  What was the Holy Spirit doing here?  I wondered.  It seemed as though the last portion of the book so closely mirrored an area of my life that it was uncanny.  Soon I found myself sobbing, something I don’t believe I have ever done while reading, even the most sorrowful of stories.  And I wasn’t sobbing because the story was sad, but because Emily’s words caused me to take a journey where I hadn’t allowed myself to go years ago.  Now that the floodgates were opened, I couldn’t seem to stop the tears from falling.

And isn’t that the way God is? He gives rest to the weary, and in due time He comforts us as we grieve until we are broken. Then he sews up the scraps like the pieces of quilt in Emily’s book and creates a beautiful menagerie of brokenness, patched up and ready to bring warmth and comfort to others.

No matter how bright the light inside you, if everything around you is oppressively dark it begins to leak in through your eyes and eventually you either have to die or find a miracle.  And I found one. – A Promise in Pieces

That’s exactly what this book was for me…a miracle.  I am convinced that it is possible that God had Emily write this book, labor of love, hours of work, just. for. me.  Just so that I could face through another character what I wasn’t willing or able to face through my own character.

Healing takes time.  Reading takes time.  Death is the ultimate time taker. God used the gift He placed in Emily to patch up my heart, and I can not thank Him or her enough.

 

Emily Wierenga’s gook will be available on Amazon, April 15th. Would you consider becoming part of AmazonSmiles and choosing, Love INC of Tinley as your preferred charity? See the side bar for a link.

 

I Am God’s House – A Thanksgiving Community Poem

Before you read today’s poem, can I encourage you to come and visit me at a friend’s house? I am excited to announce that I have recorded me very first vlog! Yes, you can actually see me and hear my voice..okay now I’m nervous…I’ll be there later today at Amy L. Sullivan’s place doing the impossible…explaining my favorite non-profit organization in 60 seconds…

Welcome to our Thanksgiving play place! We are taking on a challenge as a community to write poetry together. Each day I will provide a picture and a line of poetry. Your job is to leave a line of your own in the comment section. I will provide a new prompt and picture and a poem created by all of us the following day! Will you take time for a little wordplay?

'House of the lord' photo (c) 2005, glasgow's finest - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

We are
God containers
Full of self
or full of Him

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death By Beauty

by Journey Toward Epiphany Community


Golden jewels in cornflower blue sky;
a parasol of leaves,
filtering light overhead
and I wonder, will I sparkle with one last burst of beauty before I die?

Or will I fade slowly,
losing lustre one molecule
after another,
finally fading to nothing;
and all that remains
is cornflower blue sky.

Morning sky bluer than grandson’s eyes
Waning moon still high in west
His Word assures Springtime and harvest
As He sows, so He reaps.
We are born, live, and die.
Yet we are not annual;
We shall live forever,
perrenial,
Not just for a single season,
When we live in His love.
the grass withers
but His promises shine bright,
they never wanes.

He rides high on wings of wind
and tiptoes across the clouds
how could I not love Him so?

Sharing moments of gratitude with Ann:

296. I made it through a difficult week.
297. I have had the pleasure of editing community poetry.
298. My son treated me to a salted caramel mocha…yum…
299. My fabulous volunteers at Love INC.
300. I got to celebrate an upcoming marriage at a wedding shower.
301. Learning to trust…
302. Finished my first vlog and was featured over at Amy’s!!

Meeting with Michelle:

Learning from Laura:

Death By Beauty – A Thanksgiving Community Poem

Welcome to our Thanksgiving play place! We are taking on a challenge as a community to write poetry together. Each day I will provide a picture and a line of poetry. Your job is to leave a line of your own in the comment section. I will provide a new prompt and picture and a poem created by all of us the following day! Will you take time for a little wordplay?  (P.S. tomorrow I will be over at Amy’s place talking about my favorite charity…can you guess which one it will be?)

Golden jewels in cornflower blue sky;

a parasol of leaves,

filtering light overhead

and I wonder, will I sparkle with one last burst of beauty before I die?

 

 

Rest For the Weary

by Journey Towards Epiphany Community

'autumn leaf' photo (c) 2004, tracy ducasse - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I let go of summer’s bounty to join the fallen,

the broken fragments blown together

by the exhale of cares,

fettered by fools for the feat of forgiveness.

Leather worn leaf settles to rest for winter’s sleep

…and so do I.

Old man winter makes fragile remnant shiver

falling, twirling, spiraling down to rest among

piles of others.

Sifting with a sigh into the earth,
I leave behind the exuberance
of seasons past,
choosing the soothing quiet
of snowdrifts.

Leathered hopes sigh in the letting go

rest under the cover of grace

wait for the spring of new life.

The days shorten,

the leaves fall,
Life closes in as the cold air comes.

But this is not an end,

just a pause.

All waits, beneath snow of purest white

For that one December day,

When life and His love are reaffirmed.

Then all gather strength,

As the days grow long and warm,

And life bursts forth, everywhere,

Stronger for the rest, and for

His love.

Even though I often long for the days to match my mood or schedule,

to know that in charge I am not;

this is far more of a blessing than any kind of weather,

no matter what this world holds

I am held by the Creator.

Leaves, like hands wave

to their Maker

and in a final hurrah

they shine brilliant

against October sky.

November comes

and life is over

floating down from pinnacle of praise.

There is beauty in life

God-lived,

I have arrived.

Like weathered leaf

At last I achieved

the deep creases of life experienced.

Some joy, some angry,

but most are deep,

full lines of joy and laughter.

In My Father’s House – TOYS Linkup


It is the dawn of the second anniversary of my father’s death. It will be the third Father’s Day without him. I still remember how surreal that phone call was. I had just laid down in bed. My father had been fighting an infection, and had a doctor’s appointment day after next. He had no history of medical problems. It seemed as though it might be the beginning of something bigger…and it was much bigger and faster than we thought. He laid down that night and died.

But what his artistry created still lives. The loons trill and I am far away; far away from grown up responsibilities, new jobs and writing deadlines. Instead I am inside my father’s imagination. Because he imagined a peaceful place of solace, and it spilled forth in the form of a home.

For most of his career, this real live apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright gave the gift of his architectural skills to help non-profit organizations. His artist’s paintbrush was used on the canvas of other people’s dreams. But with one last stroke of his brush, he created a home that he designed and built for my mother and himself. It is a showcase of the artist that had been pushed aside for a lifetime; pushed aside in order to serve us with a paycheck, in order to serve others in their dreams, in order to serve God with His purposes and plans.

He got to spend one calendar year in the home he dreamed of.

Looking out of windows he watched leafy shadows dappled on green grass, and he saw everything explode into golden yellow like autumn fireworks.

He delighted in the heaviest snow in years as he viewed a real winter wonderland. He got excited with expectation when green pushed through rocky soil…but he never saw that summer’s life even though he fully expected to.

The light falls across the room, just the way he planned for it to and time stands still. In the freeze frame I am able to take inventory and really see what my life amounts to. Most of what I thought was important a moment ago, seems unimportant. All that matters is now, this holy moment. A holy moment provided by my both my fathers, both of whom are in Heaven.

And it’s a little heaven on earth. A preview of mansions to come.

When my parents married, he went on ahead of Mother, from Omaha to Chicago, to prepare a home for her. Before my father died, he prepared a beautiful dwelling for my mother to live in for the rest of her years in beauty and comfort. Now he has gone on before us to the Heavenly country, and I am certain that he and Jesus are preparing a place for us there as well.

It is frightening how a person can be here today and gone tomorrow…but my father has left a piece of himself that will be remembered for years to come, even after we are long gone. It makes me wonder about every house, who built it and why? Was the house built for love? My father’s house was.The walls were built with love and the life lived within them was built in love. And it all makes me wonder, what will remain of me when I am gone?

Won’t you join me on Fridays for a new series and linkup called, “Take Off Your Shoes, You’re On Holy Ground!”? Each week a post will be shared about the significance of a place and you will be able to share as well!! Just 1) Write a post about how a place has ministered to you. 2) Add your post to the linkup. 3) Add the button to your post. 4)Visit and encourage your neighbors!

JourneyTowardsEpiphany

<a href=”http://journeytoepiphany.com&#8221; target=”_blank”><img src=”https://journeytoepiphany.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/holy-ground1.jpg&#8221; alt=”JourneyTowardsEpiphany” width=”125″ height=”125″ /></a>

Poured out. empty.

Poured out.
empty.
my words are spilled out on page
or screen.
whichever two dimensional tablet I choose.

Poured out.
empty.
His insides are spilled out on ground
or me.
whichever lifeless surface I choose.

How do I make my words count?
They are only sounds spelled out
by letters.
I throw them into the air
speak life to them with hot breath.

How do I make His death count?
Blood has fallen on dead flesh
and bones.
He’s splattered it everywhere
and sighed last with death rattle.

My words
in me.
His Life
for me.
and I pour out my words infused with His life.
It was His life for mine.
His Words for mine.

An excellent exchange.
for me,
dontcha think?
What about for Him?
Was the trade good for Him?
aside from obedience?

Make my life count, Jesus
Who lives forever.
Make my words count, Lord
Word-giver.

photo courtesy of Dustin Blay

Counting with dear Ann:
232. Easter brunch with my Bible Study girls!!

233. Gifts from neighbors…

234. Coloring Eggs with little ones…

235. A surprise in the parking lot, a sponge painted sky…

236. An out of time moment…

237. A day to write to my heart’s content.

238. Beauty in chaos.

239. Standing at the door of my weekly place of grace.

240. Bluebell, cockel shells, Evy, Ivy over!

241. The path to Narnia…

242. A makeshift clothesline.

243. The yeasty smell of bread raising…

244. My children inviting people to Easter brunch…:)

245. Getting to see the batmobile in action!

246. Leftover muffins to give to neighbors as Easter treat!

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

…hanging out with L.L.: On In Around button

 

shared over at D’Verse Poets

Great Expectations at Hope’s End – A One Word 365 Post

cheerios2
Remember when

in your youth,

each day was fresh

with no mistakes

and no consequences?

Only dreams waiting to be captured.

And every day was rosy,

full of life

the way a florist shop smells green

and greener.

Then disappointment comes…

but not enough to kill your

Great Expectations!

You won’t be so easily discouraged!

and time passes and another comes…

and you smile and say,

“If at first I don’t succeed,

I’ll try, try again.”

Then life starts to happen.

and one day bleeds into the next

with the blood of murdered hopes and dreams.

Twenty comes and goes

with extra tiny fingers and toes,

and Cheerios in places you never thought you’d see them.

Thirty comes and goes

with extra pounds and rolls,

and your jeans create a nuclear mushroom from your belly.

Now at forty, panic strikes! You realize that

those things youth loftily planned

are out of reach and out of hand.

But then…

Jesus  poured out His hopes and dreams

of a long life well-lived

as a drink offering

for a blood thirsty ground.

His dreams in exchange

for the dreams of others.

And you realize that all is not lost,

because you’ve made beds and sack lunches

paving the way for those you love

to accomplish God things.

God whispers in your ear.

“Will you hope in Me now?

now that you have spent yours?

Now that your pride and confidence

in your own goals

have fallen like Babel?

Will you let Me create in you

an expectation anew?

A fresh future full of Me

now that there is less of you?”

Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. John 12:24-25 Message

It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, I Peter 1:3

We all arrive at your doorstep sooner
or later, loaded with guilt,
Our sins too much for us—
but you get rid of them once and for all.
Blessed are the chosen! Blessed the guest
at home in your place!
We expect our fill of good things
in your house, your heavenly manse.

Psalm 65 Message

I shared this with d’Verse Poets

Counting gifts with Ann:

117.  Glitter in old lady’s hair

118.  Friends who think that I can do anything.

119.  For great priceless treasure in my home…

120.  A child’s laughter his delight in simply taking another breath.

121.  A task completed. 

122.  The perfect fast breaker! 

123.  Seeing God everywhere!
Sharing with Michelle:

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

….finding heaven with Jen:

…hanging out with L.L.: On In Around button

Deathdays and Birthdays – New Glarus Road – Saturday Morning Linky

If you need to catch up on All Road Lead To New Glarus click here.

The next couple of months were a blur. I kept myself busy. I didn’t think I could deal with this; the slow dying of my friend, the brave living of her husband, the exhausted clinging of the children. I threw myself into work and “other things.”

Finally my friend J. called and asked me to go to the hospital with her. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience. A woman in Sue’s body greeted me, like a sunset, red hair glowing like dying embers.  She didn’t look sick.

“Hi!” Her voice was an octave higher than it normally was.  This had happened after her previous brain surgery from the dirt bike accident, and it made me wonder, “Is this my fault?  Did she get this cancer because she had that accident?  It’s kind of strange that she would have cancer right where she had an injury.  If I’d never invited her to my parent’s house, would she by dying now?”

Sue was smiling like a schoolgirl.  Giggling and silly.  She didn’t seem to understand.  She seemed to understand more fully.  She played with now four year old E. not as mom, but as a peer.  There had been some damage Steve said.  They couldn’t get it all, Steve said.  Things would change quickly, he finished saying, eyes darting around the room.

“At least she has this time to be happy first,” his voice caught in his throat.  “The kids have missed you.”

It was my turn to avoid eyes.  “It’s been crazy at work,” the words fell empty at my feet.

Soon after my visit, Sue was brought home to die.  I prayed for a miracle.  I couldn’t let this happen, but it was happening despite my pleading.  A few weeks later I went to see her.  She moaned in pain, groaned in agony.  Gone was the little girl in a woman’s body that I had seen in the hospital.  Now she couldn’t put three words together.  Her legs twitched.  She cried out.  Her eyes opened.  She tried to say something.  I held her hand.

That was the last time that I saw her.  She died the next day.  I was broken.  I was relieved.  I was angry.

A few days later, my son and I were in the front row at church for her funeral.  I was seated with family and tried to keep E. quiet.  She had gotten bored and was coloring a picture for her mom, but her mom would never hold the picture in her hands.  Her brother looked ancient and tired in a grey suit as his father spoke.  He spoke about what Sue would want us to know now that she is in Heaven.

How could Steve stand up there smiling?  How would they survive; he and the kids?  I wanted to shake them, make them realize.  Sue was gone.

She died in their living room a few days before S.’s sixth birthday.  Even though she had a death day, he would still have a birthday…and life does that.  It goes on.  One way or another, it goes on.  With or without you.

 

To continue on with this series…click here.

Final Goodbyes – New Glarus – Saturday Morning Serial Linky

If you need to catch up on the New Glarus Series, check out the New Glarus page

It was a Sunday morning and I was busy running to and fro in the church building answering to the beck and call of a half dozen people. Steve, Sue and the kids had just returned from Minnesota where they had attended Steve’s mother’s funeral. I wanted to express my sympathy, especially since Steve had just lost his father a little over a year previous. I couldn’t even imagine losing a parent. I shuddered at the thought.

The hall was jammed with people, chatting after service, making lunch plans. I saw the back of Sue’s head in the distance and headed in that direction. I was in luck. They were picking up the kids from their classes. I would be able to see all of them without hunting them down.

Sue turned to face me. Her right eye was swollen shut.

“What happened?” I gasped.
“The doctors say it’s a brain tumor. I’m going in for surgery Tuesday.”

I was stunned. She’d only been gone ten days. We’d been garage sale-ing the Saturday before they had left and I had to talk her out of buying me a couch. Looking at Steve, or “Mr. Positive” I was sure I’d find reassurance and confirmation that Sue must be exaggerating. Instead, I found a slight nod and a pained glance.

“Tell your parents that I love them,” she said.

“Sue, you can tell them yourself when you’re better,” I forced a smile.

She paused, “And talk to my kids about me.”

Tears tumbled down my cheeks, “Don’t talk like that, Sue. You’ll be just fine.”

She hugged me, and that’s all I can remember.

Click here for the next installment…

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Blogging Neighborhood Bible Study – The Importance of Words – Genesis 1:1-25

I’ve recently started a ladies’ Bible Study in my neighborhood.  So…I thought, “Maybe we should have a blogging neighborhood Bible Study!”  Won’t you join us each Tuesday?

Reading textGenesis 1:1-25

Meditation Verse: Psalm 19:14 May the words from my mouth and the thoughts from my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my defender.

How in the world do I get that verse from reading about the Creation story, you wonder?  I’m glad you’ve asked!  Genesis 1  is full of clues about the importance of words.  After all, it was because of the power of God’s Word that He was able to create everything from nothing.

Hebrews 11:1-3 (MSG) 1-2The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.  3By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see.

Psalms 33:6-9 (GNT) 6 The Lord created the heavens by his command,
the sun, moon, and stars by his spoken word.
7 He gathered all the seas into one place;
he shut up the ocean depths in storerooms.

8 Worship the Lord, all the earth!
Honor him, all peoples of the world!
9 When he spoke, the world was created;
at his command everything appeared.

God’s Word is powerful!  Hebrews 4:12 & 13 (Mess) – God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.

Proverbs 18:21 – 21 Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.

The question I must ask myself is, “Whose words will I put in my mouth today?  Mine?  The world’s? or God’s?”

The Spoken See-Saw

God spoke His Word.

The world became.

He said.

He saw what He said.

He named it.

And called it good.

Light.  Dark.

Water. Land.

Sun. Moon.

Air. Flora.

Sea creatures.

Land creatures.

By His Word.

Spoken.

He made them.

Made us.

In His image.

Like Him.

Do we dare think we look like Him?

We know we do not think like Him.

His thoughts are higher than ours.

But we can speak like Him.

We can create

with our words.

Or destroy.

Our choice.

We can bring life

or death

by our tongue.

Kind words heal,

Angry words cut.

Patient words encapsule

faith

in the waiting.

We speak.

We see.

What do we see?

Do we see children growing

strong in Him,

with confidence in who He’s made them?

All because of our words of life?

Do we see a man knowing

he is honored

and respected as the high priest

and leader of his home?

Because we’ve chosen His thoughts,

His Words?

May the words of our lips,

and the meditation of our hearts

be acceptable

to You

Our Lord.

What kind of world are you creating with your words today?

Prayer and Practice:  This week ask God to put a watch at the door of your lips (Ps. 141:3) and commit to speak the Word only. Say God’s Words over your life, your family’s life, your home, your health.  Apply your life to God’s Word.   Mark 8:8

 

Linking with lovely Jen at Soli Deo Gloria