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Posts Tagged ‘death’

Sacred Moments

Sitting on the love seat with my mom; we talk about her fears for the future … whether she will have more strokes; whether she will suffer cancer the way her mother did; how long she will be able to live independently.

She lays her head on my lap, like a child.

She tells me I really don’t know how much she loves me. I tell her that I love her, too, and that we’re blessed to have this time together.

We sit like this, her head on my lap, for a long time, neither hurrying to leave.

Sacred moments.

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11 years ago today my dad was born into eternal life.

Today my brother-in-law’s dad is in hospice. He has been suffering for four years as his mind and his health have declined. He is ready to go … the family is ready to release him and yet it is still so painful.

I know a gentleman who is 80 years old now. His father was a hard man and never kind to him. When the father was near death, his son asked, “Did you ever love me?” “No.” was the curt reply.

I can’t even imagine that.

As I reflected I had to wonder … is it harder to lose someone who has loved you so well in this life, or is it harder to lose someone whose love you tried to earn but never really fully experienced? I’m sure there’s no real answer to that.

Today I pray for my 80-year-old friend who never experienced his father’s love.

Today I pray for my brother-in-law’s family as they walk these last miles with their father.

Today I pray for my family, so blessed by our father who was exceedingly kind and gentle and missing him terribly.

11 years ago today my dad was born into eternal life.

Happy birthday, dad.

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My aunt Diana is living out her last days on this earth. Later this week – maybe tomorrow – the doctors will remove life support. Two of her daughters will be with her, and her second husband.

I was thinking of a poem someone sent to my mom when their mother died. I remember how much mom liked it, and I liked it too. As I read it again today, thinking of aunt Diana, I realize I like it much more, now. When my grandmother died, I really didn’t have any image of “who” might be waiting for her on the other shore; I didn’t know her parents or siblings.

But I sure do know faces and names of people who will be welcoming aunt Diana; uncle Al, my dad, her sister-in-law Pat among others.

But my grandmother is foremost in my mind.  I can see Grandma Sybil on the shore, watching … and then calling out to my grandpa, “Oh, Earl, look! Here she comes!”

“I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky mingle with each other. ship

Then someone at my side says “There, she is gone.” 

“Gone where?” 

“Gone from my sight. That is all.”  She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port. 

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at that moment when someone says “There, she is gone” there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout  – “Here she comes!” 

by Henry Van Dyke

 

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Sometimes life events really stink – some in large ways, some in small ways. And these can be very revealing … about ourselves, about others, about what we see as silver linings, and about what we hope may come of it all.

Life Stinks #1: Friday morning I learned that my boss’ wife, who is also my friend, was in a very serious car accident. She fell asleep while driving her brand new Highlander, hit a guard rail and was deflected into a concrete bridge support. She had to be cut out with the jaws of life and cracked a vertebrate in her neck. She is bruised and battered from head-to-toe and in a lot of pain … but wow, I think it is a miracle she escaped with only those injuries.

Revealed: a great deal of wonder and gratitude at how she was protected; her family’s faith and support for her and for one another is evident and amplified; my hope is that God will use this in very positive ways especially for their son who was just released from prison and is trying to build a new life.

Life Stinks #2: Friday evening my cousin Julie called with news that my aunt Diana had suffered a brain aneurysm Tuesday evening. Julie had just arrived in Phoenix to be with her and was trying to reach my mom. It’s not known whether Diana will survive. I located mom and gave her the news; I found a ticket for her to fly out of Omaha to Phoenix; I tracked her flights yesterday and know she got in late and was hoping to spend the night in Diana’s room. I’m waiting for a call this morning to find out what’s going on and I’m sure second-guessing myself, whether I should have traveled with her. Diana

Revealed: I am reflecting on the fact that no matter how weary I am of this world and ready to go home to the LORD, death still stinks. I feel so bad for my mom and for Diana’s four daughters; I think of how I will feel when it’s my mom, or my sister. Jesus understood this; he tried to withdraw to be by himself when he learned of his cousin John’s death. As he approached his friend Lazarus’ tomb – even knowing that he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead – Jesus wept. My hope and prayer is that during this time of worry and fear and sorrow, my cousins turn to God for comfort and for answers and receive Him in amazing new ways.

Life Stinks #3: I opened Facebook this morning and saw photos from the yearly office holiday party last night. Only, I had never received an invitation.

Revealed: I know it was purely oversight (no malice or intentional slight) so I’m happy to observe within my self no anger or blame as I might have felt years ago. On the other hand, I’m surprised at how bummed this has made me feel. I think too much pride and too little humility is being revealed in my own heart. While I’m not glad about that fact, I am happy that I very often pray that God will search me and reveal to me the things He wants to work on with me. I feel that I am seeing that prayer answered and am more than happy to turn to Him, to trust Him, and to walk with Him on the path of His choosing.

When my dad died I had just studied this small passage and I have reflected on it often in the years since. I guess this morning is one of those times when I’m able to step back and to review my progress. I’ve come a long way, thank God! But my journey will continue until the LORD calls me home.

Rejoice always.
Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians, 5:16-18)

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Thinking of graves …

… and centuries of individuals who lie in them.

A few generations of people can still be remembered as unique individuals: someone living remembers the sound of their laughter, the color of their eyes, their spirit and style and personality.

Most have no one to remember what made them unique; what made them loved.

How startling would this have been to witness?

And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:51-53)

Who were these saints? Prophets of old? Were they in body, or spirit, or in the “resurrected body” we will all have? Did they talk to people? Were they aware, or confused? Were people frightened, or fascinated?

I love that little nugget of information tucked into the bigger story. It raises more questions than it answers, but it’s both a promise and a glimpse.

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Ruth & Simba

My heart is aching today for a very dear lady. Ruth is one of those people who simply glows with her faith and love of God. She is retired and one of her many ministries involves her trained therapy dog, Simba. Together they visit residents at area nursing homes. Ruth has shared many beautiful stories of Simba and his interactions with residents.

Ruth & Simba

Ruth learned this week that Simba has an aggressive lymphoma — he has cancer. He will probably only live for another four to six weeks.

I know Ruth will be “ok;” I know this is the cycle of life.

But I also know she will miss Simba’s presence, and purpose.

Pets are such a gift to us. I still miss Dixie more than 7 years after she died, and I treasure Joe’s little Cappuccini each and every day.

I pray for Simba’s comfort, and for Ruth’s.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights (James 1:17)

Thank you, heavenly Father, for the good gift of our pets who so wonderfully reflect your love to us. Thank you especially for Simba and the blessings you poured out through him, to Ruth and to the people they visited together. Please embrace Ruth now with your presence and your comfort and your peace. In Jesus’ name I pray.

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On this date in 2002, the Lowell and Patricia Aldrich family spent the day together for the last time on this earth.

Nine years. It doesn’t seem like it could possibly be that long ago. We were all together at Creighton hospital in Omaha with my dad. He was awake; he was talking; we had hope.

On that day I was alone with him when the LORD came to take him home. I was able to honestly hold my hands open and release him to God’s care; and I heard God’s voice: “Lori, I am so much bigger than all of that.”

What blessings. What sorrow. What a gift to have had that man as my father; he was quiet, gentle, kind, peaceable, and had such a wonderful sense of humor.

About a month ago I was driving across Iowa to visit my mom. It was a beautiful afternoon and the crops were just starting to grow well – corn and soybeans at early stages across the landscape. I thought about how much dad loved to see a pretty field; how he liked to just drive and look. As soon as I thought how neat it would be if he was driving with me that day, I knew that he was.

I couldn’t see him, of course; and I don’t imagine the spirit of our loved ones spend a lot of time driving with us. But I just felt such a strong sense of God giving me a gift for a time. It really is inexplicable so I won’t spend time trying to explain it, only to say that I know it was real and I burst into tears of wonder and joy and gratitude to God for that gift. It was wonderful.

What have I learned since this day, nine years ago? I knew on that day how greatly God had answered an earlier prayer of wanting to know Him more, to trust Him more, to have a faith that would carry me through dark valleys. He has built on that, bringing me through a long dark valley of depression; forgiving me and guiding me away from a time of deceiving myself and sinning against Him; He has shown me what a wonderful life I have been given from the very start, and I am amazed at how truly blessed I have been.

I have learned how much God desires prayer from me, and He has taught me how to pray better; how to dedicate myself to praying for those He gives to me. I have learned how to accept the mystery of prayer, that I really don’t see or know very much at all, but to simply trust and “just do it.” I firmly believe this is a purpose and a ministry God desires to lead me into more deeply.

I’m all ears … I pray for more. More of Him; more Wisdom; more of His power; for His glory.

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