but how you carry it.

That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.
Surely God
had his hand in this,

as well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel,
(brave even among lions),
“It’s not the weight you carry

but how you carry it –
books, bricks, grief –
it’s all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down.” So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?

Have you heard
the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?

How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled –
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep waves,
a love
to which there is no reply?

—Mary Oliver

woman's fall woman girl

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days like this.

Sometimes, when I think about my life, it has felt like a roller coaster of unpredictability, guided by an unseen force which doesn’t compliment my orderly mind, always looking for bottom lines.

But then, there are days like today – humid, still, and with a light rain (the kind you don’t mind getting sprinkled with). The kind of moment when we allow ourselves some meandering because we are not in demand. I don’t wear gloves pulling weeds. I want to feel the damp dirt and don’t mind it getting under my fingernails. And all the while I think, it doesn’t get old – the earth gives us food. This is amazing. How can someone not believe in God when his presence is everywhere?

Since working in a garden is slow, quiet work, it made me think about meditating on the scripture. We are accustomed to the quick read or sound bytes of information. That’s like a quick rain storm that doesn’t penetrate to the roots.

God wants us to be deliberate in meditating on how he sees things (which almost always contradicts how we see things), allowing truth to penetrate our easily distracted, misdirected, and confused thinking.

I don’t think it matters where we live or what challenges we have. God says his word guides us and lights the way for every single human being. It is the daily bread, feeding our mind, will and emotions. Without allowing it to settle in and take hold, how do we perceive things? God’s perfect way? Or our imperfect way?

One leads to peace and contentment despite circumstances. The other is unrest, fear, and worry.

Even the really bad stuff will have an answer when we meditate on trusting the Lord with all our heart, believing what he tells us about the day when he makes everything right.

God is in the power of the universe and in the tiniest seed.

If God can do that, how much more can we patiently wait and trust him with our lives and all of the sorrow?

garden 6

Between a Rock and a Hard Place – After the Death of a Child: Trying to figure out how keep on living

A blogger friend of mine posted this today. So much resonated with my own personal experience. I wasn’t alone. You are not alone. Just knowing others have similar feelings is half the battle.

Additionally, may God open the eyes of Christians to go the extra mile.

Grief: One Woman's Perspective

3ba6f4816f1b8a7144239926911e1bc9I recently got a text from a friend whose co-worker’s daughter committed suicide. When I told my husband about it, he said, “I don’t understand why anyone would commit suicide. Why would someone not want to live? Why would they want to die?” Joe is a very black and white person, while I have always been a person who sees both sides of a coin. When Joe was a young boy, his grandfather (the person for whom Joe was named) committed suicide. Suicide has never been something that he could get his head around.

After sitting there for just a moment, I told him that I could understand why someone wouldn’t want to live any more. Sometimes the pain is so great that it reaches a point where it seems no longer bearable. I told him that, right after Jason died, there were a few times when I just wanted to drive…

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God created us to look ahead, to anticipate, and to hope.

We make plans and look forward to an event, a completion of a project, a vacation, retirement – even the end of the day when we can rest.

It takes more effort to take a step back and think about life beyond death, but it is attainable.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

God put it in our heart to think about eternity. Even though we cannot possibly grasp all that God has done since the beginning of time – or the beginning of our lives for that matter – doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

When we are hurting and life is difficult and confusing, God wants us to remember eternity.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Perhaps, never before has life been so full of “seen” things that distract us. Our lives are full and overflowing with temporary comfort and satisfaction.

When something goes wrong, those things are reduced and God gets our full attention.

Whether your body is hurting physically, emotionally, or mentally, it is possible to be renewed within (peace, hope, joy). How? Seeing beyond and anticipating eternity where God promises us he will make it right.

Remember, countless numbers of people throughout the centuries who have endured. You can, too.

Earth is our temporary home. Live it, enjoy it.

But always live with a view of eternity and the culmination of perfection yet to come!

 Sunset with mountains and clouds

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On June 23, 2018, my father died. He was 89 years old.

I helped care for him the month of June in between working at a nearby school. June came and went – hard to believe.

The days seemed long but looking back, everything happened so quickly.

And now, reality sets in. He’s gone.

From here.

This prompted me to re-read a book I read 13 years ago, Imagine Heaven.

The reason I chose this book is because the author, John Burke, spent over 30 years researching the topic of near-death experiences from all kinds of people and all kinds of religions along with what the Bible has to say about Heaven.

It got me thinking about how little I have heard about Heaven. I’ve been in church for over 30 years and I do not recall a sermon or teaching. Is it because the Bible has little to say about it? Maybe. But since it is our forever home, I would think God would want us to know something about it.

Because to live well here, don’t we have to know something about life there?

One common thread with those Burke read about and interviewed, was the intensity of love the departed individual experienced. With their life displayed in a kind of panoramic view, the good, bad, and ugly – the love was still intense – no matter what. No shame, no guilt, no condemnation. Just love.

Granted, this is difficult for us to grasp but so is the enormity of the universe. Yet, we believe.

*Side note: all to often in Christian circles, morality seems to have replaced the love of God. Usually, Christians lean to one or the other. God does not condone sin, but his way of drawing us is with chords of love.” Holding morality, Christian values, and/or character up as the standard is missing the point. Time and time again, God has chosen men and women in the Bible who would not meet the criteria in conservative, traditional, Christian thought. Are we holding the Law up to the world of morality? Or are we holding up the Light of the world?

Each day, I watched my father dying. Death is ugly. And if God is good, and if Newton’s 3rd law is true, then there has to be something far greater in power than death.

We have all seen the beauty around us. It is only a foretaste of what is waiting for us.

Have you lost a loved one? Are you hurting? Suffering? Live with the hope and confidence of Heaven.

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

-Revelation 21

 Tree in meadow under dramatic sky

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God understands on Mother’s Day.

“Mother’s Day is difficult for many. But scripture portrays a Father who knows our plight.”

Please clink on the link highlighted above for a wonderful article for mothers who are hurting on Mother’s Day.


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the pain of disappointment.

Being disappointed doesn’t rank up there with the big hurts of life. Somehow, we just move on.

But disappointment has a way of taking up residence inside of us. It waits for the next disappointment so it can grow.

I’ve thought a lot about my life and the disappointments along the way. Some feel very big to me. Some not so much.

Let’s give disappointment its rightful place by acknowledging its ability to hurt. Don’t dismiss it by thinking it’s no big deal.

When I would be disappointed, my initial response would be to think: at least I am not this poor person going through this or that or it could be worse.

This is a good thing because we do have to remind ourselves that disappointment happens to every single human being in some way, shape or form. Knowing this will help us to be thankful for the good in our lives and being thankful does have a positive affect.

But even this will only carry us so far. Have you ever felt disappointed even when things were going good?  Have you heard of people who have attained a goal and found themselves still not feeling completely satisfied and disappointed?

That’s because it is human nature no matter who you are, where you came from, or what you have accomplished (or not accomplished) to feel disappointment.

Disappointment lodges inside of us because we are either trusting in another person or an action that failed.  Sometimes it is because we aren’t feeling satisfied, fulfilled, or happy.

The good news is this: God has a remedy for disappointment.

I have been a Christian for 40 years. When I think of God, I am not disappointed.

That’s not to say I haven’t been disappointed with God. It took many disappointments, anger, and wrestling with whether I wanted to accept and trust him. This might be especially difficult if you know you’ve worked hard at doing the right things to attain a particular outcome. Talk about disappointment – when a Christian follows God and does things his way – only to come up empty handed.

It is human nature to go off in our own direction. Our will is very strong. If a good, imperfect, earthly father directs his children, how much more will God guide and direct us? If we don’t like what God says or we have another way, we will take it. Just like that stubborn toddler or defiant teenager. This is part of our broken and faulty condition that requires a whole and perfect God.

God made us to respond to him. But he gave us a free will. We can take him or leave him.

When you surrender your will to God, it will always mean taking your hands off the wheel and trusting him. He will give you a peaceful mind. This shatters disappointment in a million pieces.

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

I think having peace of mind is far better than getting what you wanted or what you thought would happen (or not happen). Peace is a steady calm that is developed over time. It is not fickle depending on the circumstances. It feels the pain, sorrow, and even angst, but decidedly and willingly returns to the peaceful disposition only God provides.

The culmination of life is this: eternity. I have this hope deeply embedded. Not a human definition of hope, ” I hope there is eternity in Heaven”, which makes you feel uneasy or anxious.

Hope that means assurance. Looking forward to what has been promised.

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Life is full of joys and sorrows. We have to know how to navigate through the ups and downs or we will live in disappointment. One day everything may be perfect, only to have it all come crashing down the next day. God doesn’t want us to live with fear of tomorrow’s disappointments. He wants us to have peace in an unpredictable world.

This only happens when we trust him with our disappointments.

butterfly away from hand