Grief Multiplied


Writer’s Note: Losing a loved one is hard, but when you have no idea about that loved one’s spiritual condition, the grief is multiplied times infinity. I know. I’ve experienced this place of excruciating limbo with two of my loved ones so far this lifetime. I wrote about it a few years ago following the death of one of my brothers and I share it today again because its message is so important.

Whether you are the griever or the “lost,” this post is for you. I do hope you will take some time to read, comment and/or share it if you feel so led.

And, if you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior or you have, but for whatever reason haven’t shared your decision with your loved ones, please consider taking the next step today–if not for yourself, for your loved ones. Please don’t take a chance on leaving them to wonder if they will see you again. 

Lastly, if you are the one left behind to wonder, just know that God will NOT NOW OR EVER leave nor forsake you and He will help you through it. He certainly did me and my family.

May God continue to wrap us all in His infinite love and blessings and may we all feel His Presence today and everyday. Amen and Ehmen.


September 7, 2016

One year ago today, I heard your voice for the last time.

I miss you, dear brother.

Truth is, I have missed you every day since you left us, but as we move closer and closer to the one year anniversary of your death, it has been especially hard.

While the grief process continues and I have taken many strolls down memory lane remembering your life, these last few days have found me especially reflective of your death. Those were dark days, brother. Painful days. It was so hard to watch mama as she realized she had to let you go. No mother should ever have to bury her child.

It was hard to watch the interaction between you and Karen. It was obvious that she was the love of your life. As dim as your eyes became, the soul-depth love you had for her burst forth like a beacon in the darkest of nights. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time.

It was hard for all of us who loved you to say goodbye, but we didn’t have a choice. All of our days on this earth are numbered and, ready or not, one day the last day will come for all that have ever drawn breath. Still, I can promise you none of us were ready for it to be your time.

At the time, the worst part of it all, Gary, was not really knowing your spiritual condition; not being sure that you had accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Not being sure that you would soon enjoy everlasting life with our Father in Heaven. I know that it was said many times right before and after your passing that a man’s faith is a personal matter and that one doesn’t have to talk about it, but that just isn’t true. No words will ever be able to express the extreme heartache not knowing levies on the hearts of those who struggle with the thought of never seeing their loved one again.

It is the same wrenching heartache that I felt a few years prior when I, as an adult, began to deal with the tragic death of our daddy decades before. In talking to mom one day, I discovered that at the time of dad’s death, she wasn’t certain of his salvation. Like you, he was a man with a heart of gold and a man of great respect and humble attitude, but, unfortunately, they had never talked about it. Having been only eight when dad was taken from us, I never really got to know him. I can only hope for another chance on the other side.

But, back to you. Your last days were heavily laden with prayer, by me, by family, by friends and the church. Though I didn’t really get the opportunity to talk to you directly about God, our cousin Patty did. Still, we weren’t sure where you stood and that hurt more than anything. But, then something happen. I was getting ready for your memorial service. It had been an emotionally charged week and I really wasn’t thinking about anything. My mind and emotions were taking a well-needed time-out when, out of the blue at exactly 7:53 a.m. September 10, 2015, the following words floated into my mind. As clear as the spoken word I heard Him say: “I know his name, child, and he knows Mine.”

Now, Gary, that’s not a phrase that I had ever heard and I knew instantly that it was the still small voice of our ever-loving God. Powerful words swaddled in that unsurpassed comfort and peace that can only come from Him. I just knew and it’s all I needed.

I was so excited and relieved that when got to your memorial service, the first person I hunted down was Patty; and when we hugged, I excitedly whispered the good news. She, too, began to grin from ear to ear.

“Brenda,” she told me. “I prayed all night and all the way up here, begging God to show either you or me that Gary was with Him.”

Sigh. What a beautiful gift. I can’t tell you how much easier it made it to say goodbye. You know it rained during your service that day and I can just remember thinking that it was apropos. In fact, I think it was Heaven’s way of helping us mourn our loss while celebrating its gain.

Now, what about dad?

Though I have spent the last several years hoping and feeling like he is probably with you in our eternal home in Heaven, I have never received such certain reassurance as I did with you. Until this week. Enter another cousin. This one, Debbie, one of Uncle Don’s daughters. She had read a recent post about how hard it was to hear that daddy’s salvation was also unknown to those who loved him most. It spurred a memory that she shared, probably a nudge from God, if I had to guess.

As you know, Uncle Don also left this earth way too early. He died in a car accident when he was in his early 30s, leaving behind a beautiful bride and two beautiful young daughters. Daddy always made sure to stay connected to them and our families were quite close, I am told.

What I didn’t know was that Aunt Vera Lee, Uncle Don’s widow, had spent some time in the hospital visiting daddy during his last days. Debbie relayed a sweet story that her mom had shared before she passed about how they sang a hymn together and that daddy had been the one to start the singing. She also relayed how she had felt the presence of Uncle Don in the room with them, so heavy, in fact, that she said she actually spoke his name out loud.

“Brenda, Mama said that she was convinced that she felt Daddy Don’s presence so strongly because he had come to show Uncle Billy the way,” my dear cousin wrote in a note this week. “And we all know the devil doesn’t send someone to comfort and guide you on your journey home.”

Sigh. Another beautiful gift. We will see you both again! And Uncle Don, who I never knew. And Grandma. And Granddaddy. And our beautiful aunts, Aunt Hazel and Aunt Vera Lee. You are all there waiting for the rest of us and celebrating every moment with our Awesome and Beautiful Creator. I can only imagine, but boy oh boy do I enjoy imagining that day!

But, until then, I still miss you. And, yes, there are still tears, but they are no longer all sorrowful. They are also intermingled with tears of joy knowing you are enjoying everlasting life and that one day we will meet again.

Until then, to you and all of our loved ones previously departed, much love from earth to heaven.

Amen and Ehmen.

A shadow without a soul, BUT GOD…


Her foundation was cracked, damaged almost irrevocably; my friend’s young life cradled not by warmth and safety as it should have been, but instead rocked by the abusive hands and harsh words of an angry and drunken father; a man that not only cursed God, but who sat himself upon a self-made throne and ruled with an iron fist.

His family lived scared of him and later scarred by him. For, even after his reign ended in death, the roots he had planted continued to haunt and hurt; to break through and crack almost every inch of the foundation upon which they had landed. Over the years, she lost both her brothers to tragic circumstances and she also seemed destined to continue traveling a dark and cursed road, her choices and current lot in life often colored by her distressed upbringing. She says she often felt like a mere shadow without a soul.

But, God…

My favorite word combination in the Bible, two words used together 43 glorious times in Scripture and a phrase that is definitely cause for jubilant celebration. God’s unbending, unchanging response to satan’s relentless challenges. The bottom line. The last word.

Two words that speak life instead of death. Yes instead of no. Can instead of can’t. Will instead of won’t. Do instead of don’t.

Two words that create freedom instead of imprisonment. Victory instead of defeat.

“But, God” is a game changer. A Holy and glorious intervention.

Below is a poem that my friend, Denny, wrote after God lovingly intervened in her life in the late 1990s during a trip to a Women of Faith Conference in Seattle, Washington. She doesn’t know I am reprinting it and I am praying for her forgiveness in advance. It’s just too good not to be shared; the beginning of her new story—one that has still been filled with chapters set deep in the valley of the shadow of death, but with one HUGE difference.  This time she is accompanied by the Father that loves, guides and protects her just as a father should and who punctuates every stormy, tumultuous chapter with the same happy ending. Two words: But God….

Thank you God for saving my friend and for saving me…for introducing us almost a decade ago over an internet scrabble board…and for etching and intertwining a divine purpose in both of our hearts. May we continue to follow You into this purpose and create works that will grow Your Kingdom and forever glorify You and Your Name.

I also pray that each of you reading this now will recognize  your own “But God” moments. If you are in a valley, I promise you that He WILL see you through. Don’t give up. Look up!

You are prayed for…today and always.

Amen and Ehmen.

 

praise God girl and cross in sky

Photo from crosswalk.com

 

Twelve Disciples Plus One

By Denny H.

Twelve disciples plus one boarded a van one day,

Embarking upon a pilgrimage, we were traveling far way.

Headed for Seattle, to praise and learn and pray,

We didn’t know each other well, but they had much to say.


Sharing testimony, their convictions wound in tight,

It bound them all as sisters as we drove on through the night.

They joined in prayer; they shed some tears; they sang with great delight,

They came to know each other well; they whet my appetite!


Women of Faith is what they were, as we joined, the ebb and flow

Of throngs of comrades joined as one to hear the Word and grow

But I was anxious, I had no right, to think that God would care

What am I doing with all these women, “God, why am I in this chair?”


 I’m not like all these Christians who know the love in bloom,

As brides in their relationship to a God who is their groom;

I’m not a daughter of our Lord, I could never call Him Dad

The God I know is an angry God, a God who is always mad.


The God I knew when I was young, my father proclaimed to be

An irate, furious and abusive drunk, the Lord of our family.

Mercy, compassion, love and hugs were not what we were shown,

But vicious, mean and callous words were all we’d ever known…

Both my brothers and myself were rock, not precious stone.


I recalled our childhood lost to scorn and also so much shame,

How we as children yearned for God, but were deluded by his name.

I mused on the brother that still lived and to the one—discouraged—died

If they in spirit had known a Dad, they’d embrace the love denied.


I thought of me, the years misplaced, a shadow without a soul,

Reaching for wrongs to right my life, to govern and control.

How tired I was of drifting along to a future without a goal,

I felt, if I was to truly live, somehow I must be whole.


So here I am, I’m in this seat, and wearily I began to pray,

While I listened to the gentle speakers, and to all they had to say,

As they shared their lives—their griefs and sorrows—yet held firmly to their trust

That God is there through thick and thin; that God is not unjust.


Then something happened while I prayed; I softly, slowly died,

I doubled over in that chair and I cried, I cried and cried.

I cried for me, and for my brothers; I cried for all the years

That we had lived not knowing God; I cried such healing tears.


I prayed for me that blessed day; how I prayed to be God’s child;

I prayed for Him to be my Dad and through GRACE, I finally smiled.

For in my mind, I saw a girl, brand new and she was me,

Finally now I could embrace my promised pedigree.


I joined my sisters in that van, the twelve of us plus one,

Now thirteen disciples heading home, my new life just begun.

How I sang and shared and prayed as I extolled my Dad above

That I am of His family conceived from His own love.


A soothing balm restored my heart, a spirit set me free.

And I am here to testify, I’m His daughter, yup that’s me!

I searched, I asked, and I received; received His guarantee

That I shall live, because He lived and because He died for me.