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Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

Grief Regrets

Fifty years ago, my aunt Tena died of stomach cancer. Since she had taken care of me while I was growing up, my dad was her brother & also a doctor, it only seemed fitting that she would be brought to our home so he could care for her. 

Her abdoman would fill up with fluid and so every few days my dad would get a bucket and a tube, go into her room, shut the door and drain her stomach…..something none of us wanted to watch.

I was pregnant with my first child, went into labor & prepared to leave the hospital to stay for my sister’s house the same day that President Kennedy was shot.

On the way there, my mom (who was driving me there), asked if I wanted to stop at her house and show Aunt Tena my new baby boy. I said no, since I was afraid my baby might pick up some cancer cells.

Apparently, Tena had been staying alive long enough to make sure we were ok. I regret I didn’t take my child in to see her. She died that night. I learned later that she had cried out in her agony and pain, “Take me God, oh please take me!”  And he did. He was with her through it all. Just like He’s with us if we are his child. I know he’s with me. Everytime I reach the end of my endurance about something, he steps in & changes the situation so I can bear it.

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Just when I wondered if I had much more to blog about, God allowed me get very ill & to sleep for a week. He lifted me up in the middle of what I thought was a War Zone. I was surrounded  by people with missing limbs due to diabetes; and witnessed the patient, measured pace of a physical therapist who knew when to let me rest and when  to push me in rehab just a little further. I watched him hang a man with spinal injury, on a mechanical hanger–the man’s legs dangling, limbs swaying in the breeze—the kind of thing you don’t normally see on someone in a wheel chair: the raw truth. And there was the man who was everyone’s cheerleader; who greeted me each morning before I even wanted to be awake…with a cheerful, “How are you today?” in spite of his own severe injuries.

I hated the rehab which lasted anywhere from 3 to 4 & 1/2 hours a day.Yet I turned a corner and in spite of myself,started to see how much it was helping me. I wasn’t able to walk, balance, etc, after what the Doctors thought was a stroke and turned out to be (after 2 brain biopsies), 3 malagnant brain tumors (astrocytoma), grade 3.

Now I’m home again after 6 weeks in the hospital, finished with a combo of radiation and chemo which when combined, is supposed to be less toxic in side effects. And it is.

But I had come to the end of my own strength and God’s has taken over….as He promises. Therefore, I have hope. What is your hope in the midst of your life’s worst trial?

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,900 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 48 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Today let’s welcome Sharlene Mac Laren, author of fifteen faith-based novels, and recipient of numerous writing awards. She writes page-turner stories, woven with important truths.

Sharlene Mac Laren

Three of her books deal with grief: Through Every Storm (marriage difficulties after the loss of a child), Tender Vow (a woman left with two small children after the death of her husband), and Livvie’s Song, (a woman’s struggles over falling in love again after the death of her spouse).

).Through Every StormTender VowLivvie's Song

Sharlene is as open as her books. She lives life out loud and doesn’t apologize.

1. Shar, so many women in grief struggle with their feelings and wonder if what they are gong through is normal. You seem to accept yourself just as you are. How did this come about?

“First, thanks so much for inviting me to share on your blog, GriefWalk. I consider it a privilege. While I haven’t lost a spouse, I have known grief on varying levels, losing precious parents and in-laws, struggling and sometimes even failing at relationships. Grief is grief no matter how one views it, and it has to be dealt with even when we’d rather avoid it. It’s easy to think that we are all alone in our feelings, and yet so many suffer in their own ways, and in their own little shells. I think for me, I had to come to a place in my life where I completely gave over my deep sadness and utter sense of helplessness into the hands of the Great Physician, Jesus. Through the years He has proven Himself faithful, loving, good, kind, and ever present. I have come to trust Him as my loyal father and Someone who will never leave or fail me. I think once a person is able to come to this knowledge and put him or herself in a position of total faith in a loving God, the healing can begin.”

2. In all of your books, you follow a central theme. What is it, and why is it important?

“I would say that all my books are borne out of some sort of sorrow or sadness, some sort of catastrophe that sets the tone, and then throughout the story a thread of hope. The main character must follow this thread, which is ultimately God, and find his/her path to freedom and wholeness through trusting Christ. Throughout each story I portray the love of Jesus, though not in a preachy or overdone way. I incorporate a lot of humor, which also helps lighten things and add layers to the story. It is always my hope that hearts will be inspired to seek more of God after reading my books.”

3. What do you portray about grief in these three books?

“For one thing, we are never alone in our grief. The one suffering always wants to believe no one else has ever known such pain as what he/she is having to endure, but it’s simply not true. God himself suffered terrible grief, loss, and a sense of utter betrayal when He languished on the cross. Our greatest hope in the midst of deep pain and grief is realizing the hope we have through trusting Him to help and heal us. One key thing I have found on many occasions is that setting my focus on others puts a whole new perspective on grief. Involving one’s self in a group of like-minded people will help the grief stricken individual discover there are others out there who are hurting as well, others who need a gentle word or a comforting touch. Reaching out to others and putting other’s pain ahead of our own often allows God to accomplish great things through us.”

4. Your stories focus on hope. What do you see as our hope in grief:

“My hope in grief is found in the very pages of God’s Word. “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him” (Psalm 62:5). Another great verse comes from Psalm 121:2: “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Think of it. The very creator of all things wants to reach down and touch our hearts, bringing healing and wholeness. All that is ours to do is reach out in faith and accept that divine touch. Does healing come immediately? No, there are many aspects of grief that take much time to work through and even come to terms with, but I have learned it is so much easier going through these rough patches with a God who goes before me. Isaiah 42:16 says, “I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.” Another version says it this way:”I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them.” I don’t know about you, but I find that a beautiful picture – God going ahead of me in my grief and preparing the way so I don’t falter. He gives us strength for each day, courage for each new struggle, and hope for a bright future. He alone is our help.”

5. You’ve had your own experiences with loss. Is there anything you’ve learned going through this, that you’d like to share with my readers who are dealing with their own depths of grief?

“The very first work that came to mind when I read that question was the word SURRENDER. Difficult times often make me want to revert inward and then stay there. They make me want to wallow in sorrow and a sense of hopelessness. But what does this accomplish really? Not much, and it certainly doesn’t contribute to our healing or give us any sense of purpose. Surrendering to Christ and HIS purposes is another story altogether. In Him we find we can go on, we can find a brand new reason for living, we can discover new avenues we never knew existed, and there truly is life after loss. But surrender often points to sacrifice on our part. Surrender means letting go of our pain and giving it to Jesus. In your darkest night, simply say, “Jesus, I can’t do this on my own. I need YOU to help me carry this sorrow. Therefore, I give it into Your capable hands. You have walked this road ahead of me. Please take my pain and do with it as You would. Live your life through me and make me an example of Your love. Through You may I show the world that there is hope and life. Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” That’s enough for me! I hope it’s enough for you, dear friend.”

6. Your enthusiasm for writing matches your enthusiasm for living. What are you working on now? Do you have any plans for any additional grief writing?

“Currently, I’m working on a series set in Paris, Tennessee in the late 1800’s. I love writing historical novels, so much so in fact that this in my 4th 3-book series. It’s set to begin releasing later this year and into 2014. I mentioned earlier that all my books are borne out of some sort of grief, tragedy, loss, or underlying circumstance that requires healing, forgiveness, and/or redemption. I love to write about how God can make all things beautiful when we surrender to His plans for us. Romans 8:28 just happens to be my all-time favorite verse: “For we know that all things work together for good to them who love the Lord, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” In other words, surrender your ways to Him, then watch Him turn the ugly things of our lives into glorious and beautiful. He wants to do it! And I for one want Him to!”

Thank you so much, Sharlene.

Readers: What helped you the most in this interview? Did you learn anything new about grief?

To find out more about Sharlene and her books, click on any of the following:

http://www.sharlenemaclaren.com.

http://www.facebook.com/sharmaclaren

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Several Sundays ago, my “forever” pastor*, Bob Myers (http://www.covenant-church.org) preached on the difference between a metaphor often quoted to the dying (Make peace with dying), and Jesus Himself, the author and enabler of our peace.

Bob questioned whether my husband, Bill would have wanted to hear this metaphor as he lay dying eleven years ago. He claimed that Bill, if he had been told he needed to make peace with dying, would have responded with an indignant, “Don’t give me a metaphor, give me Jesus!”

I agree. Bill knew first hand, what would bring him true peace, because he experienced this when…paralyzed and with tangled speech…all odds were against him.

When he had nothing left, he learned Jesus was enough.

God’s Son saw Bill through with His peace to his very last breath on this earth. For in Philippians 4:6 & 7 we are given this direction and promise, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The closer Bill came to his death, the more I witnessed this peace in his face and demeanor.

Of course the peace of Jesus is available to those of us left to grieve on earth too. For these verses in Philippians end with this peace being for all those “in Christ Jesus.”

Who or what brings you peace in your grief?

*Bob Myers is the pastor who loved us through Bill’s illness with his near-constant presence and reassurance.

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This is what kept my late husband peaceful….radiant even…during his terminal illness:

It brings me peace now.

What brings you peace in the midst of your loss?

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Recently, I had a semi-relapse of the same fatigue I wrestled with several years ago. (See
Running With Gerbils: The Wheel of Grief, http://wp.me/pz1Df-5a).

Once again, I got myself too busy, trying to do it all as one person; no longer the couple Bill and I had been before he died.

I’m reminded of Elijah after fighting a great battle for God. He thought he was the only one left on his side (1 Kings 19).

What did God do? Did he scold him for being less than perfect, as I thought He would me?

No.

An angel of the Lord met Elijah in his need and had him sleep, eat, and sleep again. After Elijah was rested, he fled to the wilderness. There God met him. Not in the wind, not in the earthquake or the fire, but in a gentle whisper: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (v.13). God encouraged him to go back the way he came, because,”I reserve seven thousand in Israel–all those knees have not bowed down to Baal…” (1 Kings 19:18).

Elijah was not alone.

We aren’t either. Not only are there many others going through what we go through in grief, but as this God of Restoration was with Elijah, He will restore us.

Knowing this brings me peace. I hope it does you.

Where in your grief, would you expect God to not be there for you? Is this true?

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