Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Living through Grief

From a Mother's Heart to her Daughters

Dear Girls,

Grief seems to be our main "something" these days. Losing two grandfathers in 5 months is difficult. No, it is more than difficult, it's painful! One grandfather fought death to the end, the other peacefully gave in to it. One death unexpected, the other expected. Both a man after God's own heart. How lucky we are to have had them in our lives.

Disease is like a sin. It can creep up on us and suddenly attack and destroy like the unknown virus your Grandpa Durnell had. Or it can come to you almost innocently and hide itself in your soul and quietly erode at your core until it can take over like the heart failure and COPD your Grandpa Arnold died from. But no matter the grip of sin in our life, we ultimately have the final control over it if we have God on our side.

Death did not kill or destroy your grandfathers. Death was only the means for them to enter into eternity where they are promised that perfection of living with their Jesus in a new world and in a new body. A promise they have always since that first time when they called on God and said "I believe. I want you in my life". Sin and death can take away our earthly body but it cannot take away our eternal body.

But death leaves us with grief. There is such a sadness and void in our hearts and in our minds. Yesterday my morning devotion took me to the story of where Jesus was praying on the Mount of Olives right before he was to be taken captive and crucified on the cross of Calvary. Remember that story? Remember how Jesus was praying and he would come to the disciples to ask for their support and each time he did they were sleeping? Well, I read Luke's version of the event and Luke cast a new light on it for me in this season of our grief. Read it...

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” (Luke 22-NIV)

Did you catch why the disciples were sleeping? They were exhausted from sorrow. Jesus had warned them that they were losing Him, their friend, their mentor, someone they loved very much. It was so painful to them that it stressed them to the point of mental, physical, and spiritual exhaustion. Their mind could not comprehend why death had to happen. Their bodies were drained of any strength from the sadness and depression of this loss. Spiritually they could not even pray.

Death does the same thing to us today...if we let it. As I have walked away from the death of my most precious father and your grandfather, I experienced all three of those effects. Mentally and physically I withdrew. It has been hard to formally pray but I determined to keep talking to God, to keep in His Word knowing it would carry me though. Losing my precious father-in-law is no different so I am even more determined to talk to God and allow Him to carry me through this. In that determination I still grief but that grief is met with a peace that can only come from God.

Your grandfathers would want you to do the same. Jesus was important to them. They sought God in their living and they pass that legacy down to you. Embrace that legacy. It will get you through the toughest of times. I know. I want you to know this. Experience this.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Your Life is Like a Leaf....

From a Mother's Heart to Her Daughters

Dear girls,
To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven...~Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV)

 This week I am in Michigan as I begin this post. It's Oct 1st and I have been driving North. It is such a beautiful drive. The changing colors of the leaves in red, oranges, yellows, & browns mixed in with the greens are beautiful. I was told today that the next two weeks will be the most colorful but I find this weeks canvas of fall colors just perfect. This picture from the car really doesn't do justice to what I was seeing:


Your life is like a leaf...with changing colors in seasonal adaption. Life gives us seasons of joy, of sorrow, of growth, of death. There is the season of infancy to childhood to youth to adulthood  to the advanced years of aging-each adapting and changing colors.  

With each of these season we mature. For some us we will age back into a resemblance of infancy through illness and diseases. For others life will be cut short. Seasons of color. Seasons of adaption.

We have seasons of success and seasons of failures. There may be season of sins, seasons of selfishness and there may be seasons of sacrifice, of giving, of redemption. Seasons of color. Seasons of adaption. 

All of the colors found in our life are under the watchful eye of the Eternal One. Whether we want Him to be or not, God is in control and He does have a purpose for the colors in our seasons... 


And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. ~ Daniel 2:21


Fall can have a two-fold significance. The changing colors can represent hope or the changing colors can represent impending death and loss. But without the hope, without the loss there would be no re-birth, there would be no growth.  

The trees lose their leaves and go dormant for a season only to be rebirth to even bigger foliage in the next season.  Spiritually we can be like the leaf with seasons of colors, seasons of dormancy, seasons of change, seasons of rebirth and growth. What your mother has learned is that it all means nothing unless I keep focused on God. 


You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. ~ Isa 26:3 (Amplified)


No season is beyond what we can endure. In the good times and in the bad, there is always a hope that can bring us through and it only comes from looking to God.


[God's] hope is real and true, an anchor to steady our restless souls, a hope that leads us back behind the curtain to where God is... ~ Heb 6:19 (The Voice)


So no matter what season you are in, no matter the color of your life, take it to God. Praise Him no matter how hard it gets. In the end you will find peace.


Trust in, lean on, rely on, and have confidence in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us (a fortress and a high tower). Selah ~ Ps 62:8 (Amplified)

God is our safe place. Many times in my difficulties, in my grief, I wish I had gone to Him sooner. For when I did, I was able to experience that peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7). I want that for you.