A Prayer for Your Weekend

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

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We’ve come through several days together, reading and remembering.  Allowing our grief to make itself known.  I know many of you are remembering your own grief and maybe my words are helping you in some way.

For me, acknowledging the goodness of God even in the midst of my grief is a way to remember that he alone is good and he is sovereign.  I can trust him with my grief and my life.

I felt that at this point in the journey I wanted to say a prayer for you, for us. I hope it brings you comfort:

I pray that we will walk in your light, Heavenly  Father and bow our head before you.  Help us to allow your peace to radiate our inmost being and fill us with hope everlasting.

Show us how to practice Thanksgiving in everything and live, arms outstretched, palms wide open to receive your  goodness. With your help we will love others out of the abundance of love you shower on us . We seek to serve generously.

We know, God that you are good and you will be our comfort. I pray that we find the strength to trust you in all things and acknowledge your sovereignty. Help us surrender to your desires and allow you to write our story.

We rest in your arms because that is the only safe haven.  We lay our grief at your feet and ask for healing and peace.

We pray in the name of Jesus.

Amen.

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Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Click here for the complete series, A 31 Day Journey through grief.

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Christ Our Only Hope

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Isaiah 15:55

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Is Death The Victory

What is it that comes trespassing on my threshold,

Trying to seize me as its prey?

It has come unexpectedly; a peculiar unwanted guest.

It seems to be a shadow, robbing self of its rest.

Countless times it comes to scores with me

In sickness, peril, or accidents unavoidable.

It is there, this dreaded enemy;

It seems to be allowing time, yet it has no timetable.

Is there no way to escape that my spirit might be free

From this visitor who at my appointed time will join ranks with me?

To think I could escape would be pretending a farce.

I’d be robbed all joys of living; left hopeless without faith.

Ah! There is another victor stronger than death itself.

By the eye of faith, I vision everlasting life.

My faith soars upward as on an eagle’s wing

Christ’s is the final victory; O death where is thy sting!

 

Written By Letha Bernice Tackett

Fall 1975

“I do believe Christ is the only hope.” Those words were written by my Mom at the end of the above poem.  She was right.  Christ is our only hope.  If we are in Christ, death has no victory over us. She is now enjoying everlasting life. Even in my grief, I recognize that the victory is now hers and I am happy that she is soaring on Eagles wings.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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See You Later

Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.   Matthew 5:4 NIV

Recently I was with my life-long friend as she said goodbye to her sister. I knew how deeply her heart was hurting. I hugged her tight hoping that my heart would touch hers and she would feel a measure of comfort.

Several of you have let me know that you too understand how deeply it hurts to say goodbye to someone you love.

Goodbye is a word we use every day without giving it much thought. We say goodbye as we rush out the door on our way to work, or running errands. We pack for a trip and tell our loved ones goodbye.  But, when goodbye involves losing someone close to us it takes on significance. We realize that this is not a simple goodbye like hanging up the phone to end a conversation.  This is a goodbye that says it hurts to let you go, I’m not sure how to do life without you.

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I remember as we were leaving Mom after she’d passed away, I told her goodbye and that I’d see her later. Specifically, I said, “goodbye my Sweetie pie, Honeybunch, Ladybug, Bernie Lou,” pet names for her that sometimes I said all at once to make her laugh.

Leaving her behind, knowing that our journey with her had come to an end was bittersweet. We were exhausted, not just from a week in hospice with little sleep, but also from several years of facing down the demon of Alzheimer’s.  In that context, letting her go seemed the merciful option.  Still, having to let go brought a crushing blow to the heart.

A blow that at random moments crushes all over again. Yet, in spite of the crushing, I feel stirrings of hope and I know my friend does too because for us, saying goodbye to our loved ones is not a final goodbye, but more of a see you later because as believers in Jesus Christ we have the hope of eternal life and seeing them again.  That is the comfort in the mourning.

I pray that you too have that hope in seeing your loved one again.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 KJV

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Flatwoods

My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
    in secure homes,
    in undisturbed places of rest.

Isaiah 32:18 NIV

When my Mom was a child her family lived in Flatwoods, Kentucky while my grandfather worked for the railroad.  For some reason, my mom always equated living there with some of her best memories, even though she was only four at the time.  She told me that when one of the babies was born the children were sent to Preacher Cyrus’s house around the corner (Billy Ray’s grandfather).  His children played with Mom’s older siblings and it seems that when there was a birth they were sent to the Cyrus home to wait it out.

One of her memories was of an upstairs room wallpapered in newspaper print.  She remembered a skeleton on the paper, probably from an advertisement.  She also remembered walking across the back alley to the post office.  Once some cousins from grandma’s side of the family sent them a large box of clothes with chocolate laying on top.  She remembered having to help her brother Bill, lug the box home from the post office.

 

The blue house was the one Mom lived in; White house was the Cyrus house

Several years ago she and Dad went back to Flatwoods looking for the house and the old post office. The post office no longer existed but the foundation was there.  They stopped to take a look; a local policeman stopped by to see if he could help them.  They shared their story with him and he confirmed that the post office had at one time stood on that spot. They had trouble finding the street she had lived on so they stopped in at a local mart for directions.  A gentleman there remembered the Maddox’s – turned out he had played with Mom’s brother, Billy, so he knew exactly where they needed to go.  When they arrived at the house the current owners came out to talk to them and showed them around their home. Some things had changed over the years but Mom still recognized it.  It was a great day for Mom getting to revisit a place that had been lodged in her heart since childhood.

In 2014, before Mom’s memories were completely gone and she still mentioned Flatwoods we took another drive.  By this time the street she had lived on had been renamed Cyrus Ct. after Billy Ray. The house he owned pre-Achy Breaky Heart sits next door to the house Mom had lived in. This time we had to go to the Library to find the directions because Mom’s memories were scattered, Dad couldn’t remember the name of the first street we needed to turn on and the alley behind the house had been opened so it was situated a little different.

All we had to go on was that it was around the corner from the Cyrus home, so I marched into the Flatwoods library and told them we were looking for my Mom’s childhood home that was around the corner from the Cyrus’s.  I’m sure they thought we were just curious and being nosy.  They got out the map and showed us the street and explained how to get there. So we did a drive by and took a few pictures.  It was a bittersweet day because I knew Mom’s memories were fading fast and that it would probably be her last trip to Flatwoods to walk down memory lane.

 

I’m not sure of the reason that Flatwoods had such a tug on Mom’s heart but it did. It seemed that Flatwoods represented a happy time in her life. Don’t we all have memories of those places that represent some of our greatest happiness in life?  I’m glad we took her back one last time.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Comfort

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you…  Isaiah 66:13

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Comfort is a lovely word.  A warm word.  I imagine comfort like a warm blanket shielding me from the cold. Comfort is the touch of a mother’s hand on a fevered brow.

Growing up in our family comfort was many times practical and extended when there was a need.  A warm washcloth washing our feet after we were already in bed, mending a torn item, rubbing our aching legs, praying over a hurt.  Mom had the gifts of mercy and service.  Her love language was definitely acts of service. She was a natural born caregiver and was in her element when ministering to the need of someone else.

Even after the Alzheimer’s slowed her down she still had that instinct to comfort others. Not too long before she passed away I was staying with my parents for a few days.  Mom and I were sitting on the couch side by side.  My arm was aching as it does so often with the MCTD, she reached over and rubbed my arm.  She sensed my discomfort and wanted to take care of me.  It was a sweet gesture.  Sometimes she would come near and pat my head, partly because she needed physical touch but also because she wanted to provide comfort.  That was what she knew to do.

How many times over the past few weeks have I wished for one more pat on the head, one more arm rub, one more hug, one more time to sit side by side on the couch and feel her warmth.  The last Sunday before we took her to Hospice on Monday, she had been sitting on the back porch with my Dad.  I looked out the door and she was leaning over on his shoulder napping peacefully.  It was a beautiful picture of love and comfort.

In our deepest hurt scripture tells us that just as a mother comforts her child, so God will comfort us.  I’m holding to that promise these days more than ever.

Grace for the journey

PS: My Mom was the heart of our home.  Click here to read a poem and tribute I shared a few years ago on Mother’s Day.

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Slice of Peace

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7 ESV

Journal – September 26

I am still navigating how to live life without my ladybug. The week we were in hospice with Mom my brother told my sister-in-law that I was so busy taking care of everybody else that I hadn’t thought about how I was going to handle it when she left us. He was right. I jumped right from hospice into making arrangements into helping my dad take care of business and I didn’t really process everything. On some level, I knew I was avoiding dealing with my grief. However, I just kept doing the next thing that needed to be done and pushing everything else to the back of my mind. I’m back home now with time to think and it’s hitting me a little hard today. I’ve been allowing the tears to flow and I’ve been talking to God. Both are necessary. Grief is a process and it can’t be rushed.

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In my post on Day two, I mentioned that I knew the day would come when the floodgates would open and I’d have to start dealing with my grief.  I remember September 26 very well.  It was one of the few days that I had had to myself since Mom passed away.  I was exhausted and on my own. The tears came along with a deluge of memories. The grief was almost too much to handle.  I cried and prayed.  I shared the above thoughts and a picture of Mom on Instagram and then I just sat for a few minutes.

I almost didn’t notice the slice of peace that began to penetrate my heart, a peace that I hadn’t been sure I’d feel again.  It was a start.  A few days later I knew I was supposed to write about my grief and share it here.  I’m glad I did.  It has been tremendously helpful.

I’m still not sure how I’ll handle all the grief going forward, but I trust the one who does know. We are not promised easy in life but we are promised that God will be with us and that He will give us a peace that passes understanding.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Weekend Blessing

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31 KJV

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I remember a song from my childhood youth group based on Isaiah 40:31, Teach Me, Lord.  It was one of the songs that I sang to Mom.  It was one of her favorite scriptures.  I watched her live out this scripture.  She was a doer, but in living life, she learned to wait on the Lord.  She had tremendous faith in his provision for everything including strength for the weary.  She was a prayer warrior and knowing she was praying for me was a great encouragement because I knew her prayers were accompanied by an unrelenting faith that God would answer in his time.

I witnessed her faith in praying for healing, salvation, safety and many other things on behalf of her children as well as others.  She had an expectation that God would hear and that he would provide. Even as the Alzheimers ravaged her, she still clung to her faith.  She would sometimes tell me she wanted to see Jesus and now she has.

She prayed many prayers and even though she is now in heaven, I believe that her prayers are still relevant. God remembers her prayers and he knows which ones still need to be answered and they will be in his time.

My prayer for you is that you will wait upon the Lord for renewed strength; that he will raise you on Eagles wings and that you won’t become weary in doing life but trust in his timing for all things.

Grace and Strength for the journey,

Teresa

PS – I hope you don’t mind that I combined Saturday and Sunday this week.  I am a little weary this weekend and need some extra rest.  Looking forward to the day when I can walk and not faint.

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Mom at the Henry Ford museum in Detroit, Michigan on a trip she and Dad took. She thought it would be fun to “ride” the bike. She was always up for a little adventure.

 

Come back Monday for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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