Truth, Love and Praying Hard

And I Pray Hard

 

I’m in a mood today. Not even gonna lie or pretend it’s not so.  So many things in this crazy world boggle my mind and make me angry.  Why can’t we just all get along.  That is a rhetorical question so no need to answer unless of course, you have the final answer. Which I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist seeing as how we are all people with opinions.

As my husband often says, opinions are like belly buttons everybody has one. But, you know what?  God’s opinion is the only one that matters and we better be paying attention to what he says.  

Bombs sent in the mail, a shooting at one of our local Krogers, Politicians trying to out-yell each other, unborn babies being killed, people changing who God created them to be, and whatever else you want to add to the list.  I usually go about my day acknowledging that these things exist and that we live in an imperfect world and I understand that we will not see perfection this side of heaven.  I am thankful that I don’t have to school the world, that is God’s job.  And he will in his time make all things right.  I hope we are ready.

So, most days I take it in stride, trust and carry on, knowing that God is in control. But somedays, like today I’m just not in the mood to keep it to myself.  So, you dear friend, are getting to see the flip side.

I know this thirty-one days of writing is about grief, specifically the grief of losing my mother.  But, in the midst of grieving my loss, living in the world does go on and I can tell you that this world certainly causes me grief too.  I hope it sometimes causes you grief as well. That’s how we know we care. That’s how we know we need to search for God’s truth and stand on it. That’s how we know that sometimes we must speak even if it’s not popular.

One thing I remember well about my Mama.  She would not tolerate injustice. She did not make excuses for sin And she would tell you the truth and put you in your place quicker than you could scat out of her way. Ask me how I know.

She always told the truth and she didn’t pat you on the back and tell you everything was ok if it wasn’t. If you were setting yourself up for consequences she would tell you to build a bigger barn for all that you were about to reap. But, she did it in Love.  Oh, she might be heated in the moment; she might be in a mood and she might rant a little and cause you to roll your eyes and sigh real deep, but she always made sure you knew you were loved. That’s how we knew she cared.  She cared enough to tell us the truth and raise us right. And we better honor that teaching and make her proud.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.      3 John 1:4 NIV

So, today in the spirit of my dearly beloved Mama I come to you in a mood. I am telling you that it is time to get your house in order and get your priorities straight. It is time to quit making excuses for the injustices of this world and our own sin because if we keep making excuses we are going to need a barn the likes of which we have never seen before. 

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 1 John 1:6 NIV

I hope you read between the lines and know that it comes from a deep place of passion for people to see the truth from God’s viewpoint.  I do have opinions; it is more than possible that my opinions are not always right. But I do know that God is sovereign, he makes many things crystal clear in his word and I think it’s time we wake up and listen to what he says.

It is also possible that all I’ve been through the past couple of months has made me realize that life is too short to hide behind weak excuses for making wrong choices and eye winks of acceptance at things that are clearly out of sync with God’s precepts. If we are Christians like so many of us say we are on social media, then it’s time we step up to the plate and do it God’s way.  It’s time we ask him what comes next and then listen for him to tell us. That is how my Mama lived; she spent a lot of time on her knees crying out to God.  She wasn’t perfect, but she was his and she lived her life standing on truth.

And by all means, Love should always be the foundation.  We can have our mood moments, but at the end of the day, we need to make sure those we are in contact with know that Love is the foundation it is all built on. Not a love that waters down the truth but a love that comes along beside and walks together in the right direction. A love that does not shrink from standing on the truth.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18 NV

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

 

Postscript:

I have not slept well the past few nights and that sometimes puts me on the dark side.  Also, in the spirit of confession, I was quite put out today because my mail person stuffed a book in my PO box so tight I couldn’t get it out.  It made me angrier than it should have considering the circumstances and in light of so many other things that are more important.  Thankfully, I have put that in perspective and am ok.  Tomorrow all will be made right on that count and I’ll have my book. At least I hope.

In the spirit of further confession, after reading this post I waffle between posting or not because it might come off a little harsh and preachy.  But, I think I’ll let it stand as it is; raw, authentic emotion that erupted in the middle of my grief journey.

Two things: one, after reading it back I realize I need this sermon as much as anyone else, so maybe it is God’s message to me to not be complacent. Two, I am not meaning to offend anyone because “as much as possible I try to live peaceably with all men” (women too).  I apologize if  my words offend you, but if they do, I would ask that you ask why? Maybe I have hit a nerve that requires further examination.  I know I have hit some of my nerves.

As always thank you for reading.  I love all of you and wish you well.

One more thing.  Today’s post is not exactly pretty, so I thought maybe the words don’t need a picture.  Then I remembered the picture of a graveyard I took and the graphic I made that says And I Pray Hard.  I decided that picture or at least the message was just the reminder we all need. To pray hard.

 

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!

Blank Square Pin (1)

Advertisements

Spread Happiness

The most simple things can bring the most happiness.  ~~ Izabella Scorupco

One of the things that my Grandmother, Mom and  I have in common is the love of rocks and other bits and pieces of nature. When organizing Mom’s antique secretary after she passed away I ran across a bowl of leaves.  I left them there.  I inadvertently threw away a dried up piece of twig that she had brought in from the yard just a few days before she passed away.  My father was looking for it but I had already cleaned the sideboard and thrown it away not realizing what it was or that he wanted to hang on to it.

My niece remembered as a child that she and my nephew would pick the little wild field daisies and dandelions and bring them to my mom.  I remember many times seeing them in little containers on the sink or table as a reminder of a happy day well spent with the grandkids.  In honor of those memories, they sent a beautiful wreath of daisies for her memorial service. Those flowers then and now are far more precious than diamonds or rubies.

I know it’s sentimental really to hang on to such seemingly trivial bits and pieces but sometimes it is the small things that invoke a tender memory or happy thought of our loved ones.

My mother has two large rocks that belonged to her mother.  One of them came from a long-ago trip to Arizona and I’m not sure where the other one came from but it is large, round, brown and smooth.  I remember seeing that rock at my grandmother’s when I was a child, leaning against a door to prop it open. My mother almost gave it to me once, but then changed her mind. I’m glad she kept it to enjoy, I’m sure seeing it reminded her of her mother and her love of rocks and other bits of nature.

One of the days we were at Hospice  I found a painted rock that had been left outside near the front entry. It was painted in shades of green and blue, colors that Mom would have loved. It had a message painted on it that said spread happiness. A  fitting message for someone who had spent her life spreading happiness to others. I brought it inside for her room.

I don’t know If you have heard about the painted rock sensation that has been around now for a few years; it is a group of people that paint rocks with messages and leave them in public places for others to find. It originated with a woman in Massachusetts who started the Kindness Rocks Movement. She started a trend that has gone worldwide and there are several smaller groups that have cropped up as well, all doing basically the same thing.  There is a group in the community where our Hospice was located, called Maysville KY hidden rocks.

The premise is that you find a rock, enjoy it and then rehide it for someone else to discover.if you decide to keep the rock that is ok too.  But you are encouraged to paint your own rock to hide.

Knowing my mom’s love of rocks my Dad put it in her hand and told her about the rock. He let her hold it for quite a while and then he placed it on the table beside her bed. When I told him about the history of painted rocks he decided he wanted to keep this one since it was the last thing that my mom held.  When he got back home, he put it on the back porch near where they would sit as a reminder of her.

Moms painted rock, picture takne by Pamela Smith and shared on Maysville rocks FB page
Moms painted rock, the picture was taken and shared on Maysville KY hidden rocks Facebook page. The lady who took the photo had seen the rock and took a picture, but left the rock for someone else to find. So glad she did as it brought happiness to our day. It was leaning against the trash can just before the main entrance to Hospice at Kenton Pointe.

I guess we are a sentimental bunch and many would roll their eyes at keeping rocks, leaves, wildflowers, also known as weeds, and other bits of nature, but that’s how we roll. It’s not the expensive things or material possessions that mean the most in the end.  It’s the simple things, more often than not from nature, that spark our greatest sentimentality and spread happiness.

Happy are the people whose God is the Lord! Psalm 144:15

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Moms painted rock, picture takne by Pamela Smith and shared on Maysville rocks FB page

Postscript:  I had a conversation on FB earlier with the lady who posted the picture of the rock we found. Turns out she had seen my Mom back in February when Mom had been on a Hospice respite and had talked with her. She told me she would lead her back to the nurse’s station when Mom seemed confused.  That was a blessing to find out that someone had been so kind to her. I would never have known that if I hadn’t decided to look for the origin of the rock. God always sends us the blessing we need at the time we need them. How’s that for spreading happiness!

Blessings!

 

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!

Blank Square Pin (1)

Complete

and in Him, you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;

Colossians 2:10 (New Am. Standard)

scan0009.2
My beautiful Ladybug as a young woman dressed in her Sunday best.

Edited from thoughts I put on my phone app October 10, 2018:

I know from a scientific standpoint that it probably wouldn’t make sense to say that a person with Alzheimer’s could, in their final days, be cognizant or whole again. But, I would like to think that the week we spent with Mom in Hospice that she did have an understanding of the things we were telling her and even though she wasn’t completely alert that somehow she was comprehending.

I know when Dad told her he loved her she responded and tried to tell him she loved him.  I know when my brother’s family were with her she tried her best to sit up and engage with them.   And, when my Aunt Jenny’s name was mentioned she reached up her arms as if to hug her.

I know that she knew when my sister was by her side. It wasn’t until after my sister arrived that she slipped deeper into a sleep state, so I know she was waiting for my sister.  We all had moments with her and I know she was comforted to hear our words of love and affirmation.

The day I was telling her how beautiful she was and how I  was going to see that people read her poetry I know she perked up and understood what I was saying.  I also told her that I was going to do my best to see that all of her family made it to heaven. I feel that she was not just hearing me, but that she was understanding the way she would have before the Alzheimer’s. I think she was fully aware.

I just need to mention that even in the final stages of Alzheimer’s she responded well to us but there were facts missing.  She recognized love, and that we were familiar, but she didn’t always know exactly who we were.  There were many things we’d talk about, but complete comprehension of facts and details was missing.  Those are the things I think God restored to her that final week.  Knowledge of exactly who we were and full comprehension of what everything meant.   Those details that made the love even more special to her.

I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2 NIV

Science knows a lot, but there is much not known as well.  God knows all things including what science doesn’t know. With him all things are possible and his purpose will be accomplished. So, to me, it makes sense that in my Mom’s final days he could restore her mind and give her those moments of clarity as her loved ones told her their final goodbyes. I’d like to think it was God’s gift to all of us.

She is now completely restored and basking in the Love of her heavenly father. And that is the greatest gift of all.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1 NIV

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!

Blank Square Pin (1)

 

scan0009.2

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

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

backlit clouds dawn dusk
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

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

Christ Our Only Hope

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

Isaiah 15:55

clouds
Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

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!

Blank Square Pin (1)

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.

art beach beautiful clouds
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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!

Blank Square Pin (1)

 

 

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!

Blank Square Pin (1)