Tag Archives: loss

What now?

Isaiah5410

Like so many of you, I am still reeling from the events of last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut. There are really no words to adequately describe the horror and the sadness and there is no way I can begin to understand the depth of the mourning of those who have been directly affected.

I am praying for them. I am praying for our nation.

And I am trusting in the unfailing love of a God who has compassion for his people and who promises to never leave us nor forsake us, whose love will not be shaken, even when we are shaken to the core. Even when horrible things happen that are impossible to explain.

I believe that God’s heart is broken too. And in the midst of the terrible actions that humanity sometimes takes because of our free will to choose, He holds those of us who are hurting so deeply close to His heart and weeps and mourns with us.

I don’t know what the answers are, but I do know that we live in a fallen world where, daily, man chooses to ignore the laws of this nation. What makes us think that more laws are going to force man to make different choices? The only thing that can cause man to make difference choices is a change in his heart. Angry political rhetoric and blaming guns or blaming autism or blaming mental illness or blaming video games or blaming parenting or whatever else you want to blame, does nothing to change the hearts of men.

Only God can do that.

More important than finding answers, though, I think we need to remember that there are people out there who have suffered terrible loss. We need to focus on loving on and praying for those who are hurting—to try to encourage them and point them toward hope.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him.” ~Lamentations 3:21-24 NIV

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For when you don’t know what to say.

I have started, stopped, deleted, and restarted this post about 15 times. I’ve wanted to write, but my heart has felt so heavy and I just didn’t know what to say or if I should even say anything at all…not everyone wants their business put out on the internet, you know. But here it is.

The last two and a half weeks have felt like some kind of a weird whirlwind, a roller coaster, a strange dream…just insert whatever analogy you can dream up that applies to experiencing the heights of joy and the depths of sorrow in a matter of hours.

We had a beautiful Thanksgiving with family and then I went for a fun weekend of shopping in Atlanta with my sister-in-law and another friend a week after that. All of that falls into the joy category.

Then I got the text, at 7 o’clock on Sunday morning a week ago now. Call me when you get up—was all it said. Very unusual for my friend to text me at that time. I knew something was wrong.

I got up then, at 7, on the morning I was to return from my shopping trip. I called her. On the other end of the phone was my precious friend, my sister, my best friend for almost 30 years, telling me the devastating news that her sweet Daddy had passed away unexpectedly.

The sorrow.

I was dumbfounded—still am, really. Chatty girl that I am, I was at a loss for words. I did not know what to say. I sat there and wept for my friend, for her kids, for her mom, for myself and in my shock was only able to say to her, “I’m so, so sorry.” and “I love you.”

Somehow it just didn’t feel like enough. When you get news like this, there is always this inexplicable need to do something. To help carry your loved one’s grief in some way.

But do what?

In that moment, I could only try to imagine her pain and foggily try to process this information and then feebly try to convey my deep love for her and her family. But truly, all I really wanted to do was get in my car and go to her—two states away at the time—and hug her so tight. Fortunately, a couple of days later, I was able to do just that. Unfortunately, my time with her was so brief. Oh, but I am so grateful that I was able to go, even for a short time.

My heart is suddenly keenly aware of those who go through this season with sorrow and hurt and loss. You know, those things that you never really get over, but somehow learn to live with. And though I know that, as believers, we do not grieve for our loved ones as those who have no hope, grief is hard. Loss is devastatingly sad and painful. And grieving while at the same time trying to get back to the business of living can be elusive. We need each other’s help to do that. We need each other so much.

And so, when I don’t know what else to say or do, I sit, I weep, I hug, I text, I send a card. I try to make my friend smile. I wait to see if she wants to talk or cry or not talk at all.

I pray. And pray some more.

And I say “I’m so sorry” and “I love you.”

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 NASB

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Thank You, Mrs. T

It is so strange when I awaken suddenly from a dream and there are tears coming down my face. It does not happen often. I rarely remember my dreams, and I don’t remember the one from last night fully, but what I do remember is so vivid.

As a teenager, in the early 1980s, I lived in a very small North Carolina town. How small was it? One stop light small. At the time there was probably a population of about a thousand people in that town, most of whom were related to one another in some way. Having moved there when I was 11, we were kind of the outsiders who had come late to the party—related to no one.

We attended the Methodist church in town and my brothers and I were very active in the UMYF (United Methodist Youth Fellowship) there. Our leaders were a couple by the name of Jim and Holly T., who had a young family of 4 children, and then they added one more during my youth group tenure. These two graciously volunteered their time to work with us kids. I have always had a close relationship with my parents, but there was also something incredibly special about Miss Holly. We all called her Miss Holly, as is the Southern tradition some places, or Mrs. T. Some kids even called her Mama T, as she was a mother to all the youth. All the youth group kids loved her and Mr. T and we all knew we were welcome at their home any time. It was a safe place. My time in UMYF and with Mr. and Mrs. T is filled with wonderful memories.

Mrs T, her kids, and Me October 1986

After my junior year of high school, my family moved out of state. I didn’t see Mrs. T for a few years until I was about to get married in 1989. She attended my bridal shower and she brought me a cast iron frying pan and an apron. Not just any old apron she had gone out and bought, but an apron that was hers, from her kitchen, from her heart. It was nothing fancy, but you could tell it had been handmade and used by her and worn in her kitchen as she went about lovingly preparing things for her family and her “other kids”, like me and so many others. I still have that apron and I use it occasionally and every time I put it on, I think of that sweet woman. It is like having a piece of her.

I was married and moved away and her family also moved from that town and we lost touch after that. But she has always held a special place for me.

Then, in early 2007 , when we were living in Iowa, I received word that Mrs. T had passed away from pancreatic cancer. It had taken her quickly, as pancreatic cancer often does, and I learned of it after the fact. Sadly, I never got the chance to tell her how much she meant to me and that I loved her.

I had not thought of her in a long time but recently, I reconnected with Mr. T on Facebook. And maybe that is why Mrs. T appeared in my dream last night.

In this dream, I was standing in a convenience store parking lot. It was no specific convenience store from my past, just a random one, and standing with me were a couple of other kids from the youth group days. And then suddenly, there was Mrs. T standing in front of me with that wonderful smile of hers and that throaty laugh. I grabbed hold of her and hugged her so tight. As I hugged her, I said, “I miss you” and tears began to stream down my face.

And then I sat straight up in my bed, awake, and crying.

What I remember most about her is her infectious smile,  her joy for life and her always open arms. And her always loving on all those kids. And I miss her.

Thank you, Mrs. T. I know your reward was great when you met Jesus face to face.

Thank You by Ray Boltz

I dreamed I went to heaven
And you were there with me;
We walked upon the streets of gold
Beside the crystal sea.
We heard the angels singing
Then someone called your name.
We turned and saw a young man running
And he was smiling as he came.

And he said, “Friend you may not know me now.”
And then he said, “But wait,
You used to teach my Sunday School
When I was only eight.
And every week you would say a prayer
Before the class would start.
And one day when you said that prayer,
I asked Jesus in my heart.”

Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am so glad you gave.

Then another man stood before you
And said, “Remember the time
A missionary came to your church
And his pictures made you cry.
You didn’t have much money,
But you gave it anyway.
Jesus took the gift you gave
And that’s why I’m here today.”

Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am so glad you gave.

One by one they came
Far as the eye could see.
Each life somehow touched
By your generosity.
Little things that you had done,
Sacrifices made,
Unnoticed on the earth
In heaven, now proclaimed.

And I know up in heaven
You’re not supposed to cry
But I am almost sure
There were tears in your eyes.
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord.
He said, “My child, look around you.
Great is your reward.”

Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am so glad you gave.

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