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Tuesday, November 28, 2006
How good it is...exclamation point!
“A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” Proverbs 15:23

In human relationships, spoken words are very important. Often times, actions can be misunderstood. Perhaps someone appears to act angry, but they are really in pain; or someone smiles and looks “happy” but they are in fact embarrassed. True thoughts cannot be communicated by actions alone.

An incident in the early years of our ministry here in Taiwan illustrates my point quite well. I taught a Bible lesson on the love of our Heavenly Father and wanted the children to relate God’s love to their parent’s love. I asked, “How many of you know that your parents love you?” No hands went up. “Don’t your mommy and daddy ever say ‘I love you’?” No hands were raised. Those children did not know they were loved because they had never been told! I took the time then to guide them in recognizing signs of love such as their parent’s care and provision of home, food, clothing, and so on. But what a shame that they had never been graced with the gift of three words: “I love you.”

Today I found a wonderful treasure, a gift that I had not expected to receive. In searching for some computer files saved on disks, I came across one labeled, “Sue’s voice.” I immediately put the CD into the disk drive. It was a phone conversation recorded in May, 2004…two very precious voices to me. I wasn’t home at the time and Malcom on a whim had turned on the digital recorder so that I could hear their conversation later. Before the conversation ended, Sue sang out, “Mom, I love you!” Those were words spoken in due season. One month later she was in heaven.

Many of the gifts that we give are things with no lasting value, just stuff to clutter our homes. Things are nice to have, but how much sweeter to bless our family and friends with the joy which comes from words that edify. While we are at it, let’s also remember to talk to the Lord and express our words of love and adoration. Make sure that today someone knows they are loved. How good it is!

posted at 10:19 AM  

Friday, November 24, 2006
It Takes Time
“In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge is in God.” Psalm 62:7

The emotional ups and downs in grieving are a given. It’s also a source of frustration not only to the person who grieves but to others who are trying to comfort or support in a meaningful way.

“Grieving takes time” they say. Time for what, I muse? Time in which to forget the person? No! I reject that idea since it would be impossible to forget, and besides I don’t want to forget! It is true, time is a healer. I conclude the reason lies in the fact that time allows one to process the memories, put it all into a manageable order so to speak, thus calming the fragile emotions. The more time that passes, the less chance of encountering a fresh reminder of things done, places visited, holidays celebrated. Until that is accomplished, my emotions are subject to whatever a day may bring.

This process naturally brings highs and lows. Anyone who has been reading my writings has discovered that one day I may be seemingly “fine,” courageously depending upon the Lord. On another day it seems I’ve regressed and am struggling to survive the hour. Even small reminders can knock me for a loop: the simple act of splitting a tangerine in half conjures up the image of Malcom always sharing one half with me. Suddenly I’m grieving again! This emotional roller coaster is exhausting. Private admonitions to myself to “get a grip, get over it, and get on with life” are useless. The process of grief is not like a crescendo in which you are better today, a little better tomorrow, getting better each day. No, it’s like the myriad crescendos and decrescendos of a musical piece, this one orchestrated by God and finished only when He, the composer and conductor decides.

That is why now, more than ever before, I must constantly turn to the Lord. He is my rock, my refuge, the one stable thing in my very unstable life. How precious is the thought! When I need a place to hide, a place to take shelter, regroup, and face another day, just nudge me that direction. With time, I’ll be alright.

posted at 6:29 AM  

Monday, November 20, 2006
Feeling Abandoned By God
“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying…My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?” Mark 15:34

Have you ever considered how many different types of “loss” can occur in a person’s life? There is the loss of health, job, income; loss of face, self-esteem, confidence; loss of a loved one through death, divorce or other circumstance; loss of leadership, direction, and purpose. The list could go on. Change is inevitable in life, but even with an expected change there is still a loss. My loss may be someone else’s gain. But the resultant feeling from compound losses is abandonment.

As this particular week unfolds, I feel very keenly several losses. Tomorrow is Sue’s birthday. I recall with joy the day she was born and the pleasure she brought us in her 28 years. I am still reeling from the loss, trying to make sense of it. Tuesday, the 22nd, will mark 5 months since Malcom’s home going. Not only did I lose my husband, my best friend, my confidant, but I lost my closest co-worker in the ministry. It feels like I have lost my past, present and future. I feel abandoned!

One of the hidden products of suffering is coming to a more intimate knowledge of the Savior. And so I am allowed a small glimmer of awareness and understanding of what my Lord must have suffered for me. Jesus, who knew the future, who knew the eternal plan, still felt the pain of abandonment! His desperate cry on the cross echoes centuries later in my own heart.

Was Jesus really abandoned? Yes, for a time. But there was a greater glory to be revealed. Am I abandoned? It feels that way. Lord, may I patiently endure, waiting for Your plan to unfold in my future.

posted at 11:16 AM  

Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Attitude of Gratitude
"Every good and every perfect gift is from above..." James 1:17

Here it is November with Thanksgiving soon upon us and Christmas following not far behind. This year especially I do not look forward to the holidays. The pain of loss is too fresh. But having an attitude of gratitude can focus my thoughts on what I have, rather than what I do not have. It's a wonderful idea encouraged by "Christian Women Online". So today I begin...

1. A comfortable home to live in
2. A new friend to exercise with
3. An unexpected email blessing from a friend
4. Cool, crisp morning
5. The smile of a toddler swinging in the park
6. Fragrant flowers adorning the trees
7. Orange glow of the rising sun
8. Good morning greetings
9. The smell of fresh ground coffee perking
10. The internet world to keep in touch
11. Memories of grandchildren singing "The B-I-B-L-E"
12. God's Word speaking to me
13. Cool breeze through my window
14. Family photographs
15. Gift of sight
16. Privilege of prayer
17. Chas' blue eyes
18. Abby's beautiful hands
19. Spencer's sparkling energy
20. Kyle's sweet giggle
21. Kaycia's kisses blown my way
22. Cell phone texting
23. God's love
24. A loving church family
25. The joy of serving

I will continue my gratitude list at this site: Carol's One Thousand Gifts List. I hope you'll check it often and perhaps be encouraged to write your own list.

posted at 9:46 PM  

Monday, November 06, 2006
Save that for another day
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven….a time to mourn.” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4

Once while traveling on furlough, we stayed in the home of a church family. They graciously put us in their daughter’s room, typical of any young adult’s quarters with some childhood keepsakes lying about. “Is the daughter gone off to college?” I wondered. The next morning chatting with our hosts, I was shocked to learn that she had passed away after a battle with cancer. This had actually occurred several years previously. At the time I could not understand why her room was still in tact just as she had left it. I judged that the parents were not dealing well with their grief and had not moved on past the tragedy that struck their family.

Now I view the scene from another perspective. Now I identify with the struggle those parents must have been going through. Faced with my own reluctance to begin sorting through my husbands belongings, I question my ability to “move on.” Why is it such a hard step to take? I want to force myself, but I simply cannot.

It seems there are never-ending layers to the levels of finality after losing a loved one. So many changes, so many “first” experiences to endure without his presence. These are things that assault the emotions on a daily basis and leave a person little energy to purposely initiate change. Some measure of sameness is comforting, even if it is just a group of shirts hanging in that side of the closet, a collection of books sitting on those shelves.

A wise daughter recently reminded me that mourning is hard work. So once again I give myself permission to delay the sorting of “things” and turn to the book of Matthew, chapter 11 verse 28 to draw strength from the words of Jesus: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

posted at 11:30 AM