Peace Wrapping Around Us

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

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I’ve been wearing my mom’s socks; it makes me feel close to her. It is one of the ways I am navigating through grief these days and finding moments of peace during the Advent Season.

I’ve also been seeing her in my dreams. she usually doesn’t say anything; she’s not even necessarily a main part of the dream and I don’t remember all the details. it’s like watching a movie and there are people walking down the street or in the background. you see them but they’re not part of the main movie.

When she does show up in my dreams she looks like she did in her fifties. She’s dressed stylishly with her hair pulled back and she’s walking with confidence and purpose. She looks happy and peaceful.It’s seeing her like she was before the Alzheimer’s. I think these are little gifts that God has been giving me to reassure me that all is well. To remind me that she is whole now and complete in him. I still miss her terribly but I wouldn’t bring her back even if I could.  She’s dancing with Jesus and I would not take that away from her.

A few nights ago the funeral home that handled her arrangements hosted a memorial service for those who had lost loved ones this year. It was a sweet simple service that began with singing Joy to the world, followed by a message that allowed us to acknowledge our grief and accept it while encouraging us to find comfort and peace in laying our grief at the feet of Jesus.

The service ended with the song I can only imagine. When they sang the line about dancing or standing in awe I told my husband and father that I’m sure mom was dancing for Jesus. She was full of life and laughter and even in the most horrible ravages of Alzheimer’s that still Shone through.

Sitting in the sanctuary of the local Baptist Church hearing the scriptures read, listening to the words so aptly spoken, hearing the songs of worship, I began to notice that there was such a sweet spirit of peace wrapping around us. It was a peace brought on by the presence of the Lord among us but also a peace brought on by the collective grief of those present and the knowledge that we are all walking the same journey.

Even though our grief manifests itself in various ways it is still a common thread that binds us together. We know how the others feel and we know that God is our only peace.

I am thankful for that service and the reminder that it gives to me during this season of celebration.

A reminder that even in our grief we can still celebrate happy times, we can embrace our loved ones, live life fully and honor those we have lost by remembering them and making room for the grief. Joy and sorrow are not an either-or choice; they are allowed to reside together in our hearts and bring us peace and comfort.

whatever grief you are feeling during this season of Advent I pray you are leaving your heart open to be filled with God’s peace.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)
Grace for the journey,
Teresa
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We Hold On To Joy

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.

Lamentations 3:22-23

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When last we spoke, well when last I wrote and you read which is still a conversation between friends, I shared with you that I wanted to do a recap post of the 31 Days of Grief Journey.  I wanted to share what I had gleaned.  I had planned to do that sooner than now but last week proved to be a week of needing extra rest. I’ve learned, due to the MCTD, to hold on loosely to plans and go with the flow.  I think, too, that I needed some extra time to let the writing settle before revisiting.

So, earlier I sat down and read through the series to see what stood out to me.  To discover what wisdom there might be that I could take away. To see what helped me and how can I summarize that for all of us as a take away to remember; knowing of course, that the journey is not over and there are more stores, memories, and lessons in the process. And of course, the ever-present grief will ebb and flow. Below is a list of 12 truths that I received from this journey.

  • Writing through my grief was designed by God; It was a calling he put on my heart (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
  • Grief is a process and it can’t be rushed. There will be times it will crush your heart (Psalm 31:18).
  • Even when we feel betrayed by God, he loves us and understands our hurt. He will make all things right in his time (Isaiah 55:8-9).
  • We can never truly lose our loved ones, they will always live in our hearts.  Remembering is necessary.  Our memories of good times with our loved ones is a source of comfort (Philippians 1:3).
  • Having a community of friends and family for support in our grief is important (Proverbs 27:9).
  • In the midst of our grief life does go on.  We can still find joy and laughter.  We can find peace in ordinary days (Psalm 23:1).
  • The floodgates will open sooner or later. Our tears are sacred and Jesus cares about them; they are collected in his bottle (Psalm 56:8).
  • Reading Scripture can be a source of strength. Remembering his promises can sustain us (Isaiah 40:31).
  • He will be our comfort (Isaiah 63:13, Matthew 5:4).
  • If we sit in the stillness we will feel his peace (Philippians 4:7).
  • we have to live in the reality of heaven’s sweetness in order to truly be at peace in this life (Hebrews 13:14, Psalm 30:11-12).
  • Christ is our only hope (John 3:16).

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5b

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Joy resides deep in our soul.  Grief is not the absence of joy, but the realization that even when we grieve we hold on to joy.  Joy is not crushed by our grief but rather sustains us in our grief.

The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

Thank you for coming along on this journey with me.  I hope it has touched your heart and brought you encouragement.  If you have not read the series you can click here to be taken to the table of contents page.  Once there, clicking on each title will take you to that day’s post. I will continue to share updates on the grief journey and share stories about my Mom from time to time as well as sharing other writings.  I hope you come back. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

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Linking up with Emily for What we Learned.  Click over to read what others’ have learned.

The City That Is to Come

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.       Hebrews 13:14 ESV

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VISION

My heart is overwhelmed with sadness and grief

My soul cannot bear it alone

Lifes storms are too great for my steadfast feet

My spirit is sinking – I’m almost gone

But someone is reaching to take my burden away

He has a spirit of kindness and love

His touch has vanished the night into day

I’m light and free as the dove

He draws me nearer and nearer to his heavenly throne

and let’s me see visions of that city fair

I fancy I see loved ones perfectly at home

Basking in the sunshine of his presence – God’s son!

Written by

Letha Bernice Tackett

April 3, 1982

I wrote on Day 3 That Heaven’s Sounding Sweeter All the Time. I remember the night I first had those thoughts.  I was cocooned in the upstairs room that my Mom had wallpapered so beautifully.  I was waiting for sleep to come and thoughts flooded my mind and I spoke them into my phone app so I wouldn’t forget them.

In those moments if Jesus had said come I would have gone gladly.  Honestly, I think in those moments the reality of heaven spread over me in a way it never had before.

It is beginning to dawn on me that we have to live in the reality of heaven’s sweetness in order to truly be at peace in this life. We don’t really belong to this world if we are in Christ; We are just pilgrims passing through.

Click to hear the song, Heaven’s Sounding Sweeter All The Time

 

Grace for the Journey,

Teresa

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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POSTSCRIPT:

Thank you so much for reading along with me on this grief journey.  I have many more stories to share when the time is right, but for now, if you will grant me grace, I am going to stop shy of the 31 days.  I will be spending the day Saturday with a dear friend and then going home to spend a few days with my Dad.

I will probably take next week off, then when I’m back home I want to do a recap of what the past few weeks have taught me about my grief journey.  I am not naive enough to think that I can write for a few days and be over the grief.  Grief is an ongoing journey and once you have had a great loss it will always be with you, so I’m sure there will be many things to discover going forward.

I will be back to share more stories of my Mom, family, and other things.  I hope that you will stick around and continue reading.  I hope you have found hope and encouragement during this series.  I know you have been a tremendous encouragement to me.  Many of you have been gracious to tell me and that has been a blessing.

I hope you have enjoyed the poems of my mother’s that I have shared with you.  If they bring you comfort you are free to share but please make sure you credit them to her.  I’m hoping to find a way to publish all her poems in a collection.  I think that would please her very much.  She was a wonderful, creative, caring person and I want to pass her legacy on to her family and friends.

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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.

Just Enough

Most of the Christmas decorations are still packed away in crates and drawers. And I don’t have any plans to dig them out.  For some reason I wanted small trees this year and peace. I had ordered a set of small trees on a whim from an online retailer.  I put them on my mantle with some greenery and pine cones. I visited a local shop where the proprietor had small trees (the largest is about two foot) at a great price and bought five so my Byer Christmas Trio would look like they were standing at the edge of an evergreen forest.  Then I purchased a bag of inexpensive bottle brush trees to display with a couple of small box houses, making a tree farm of sorts. I added a trio of small trees and a bowl that belonged to my great grandmother, full of small pinecones that I found in the mountains on a long ago trip, to my little desk. I added old brown crocks into the mantle display, put a single candle surrounded by greenery on a small stand, hung jingle bells on the front door, placed a sprig of berries on a doorknob, put out a few of my Christmas books and called it a day.

It’s just enough to honor the season without taking away from the true meaning. It’s just enough to remind me that making a home can be a blessing, but not so much that I’m exhausted. And, if I decide that I’m too tired to put it away and it all hangs around for awhile, it still blends in as winter decor, leaving me the freedom to put it away gradually without stress.  It’s all pretty low key. it’s all just enough peace to keep me grounded and help me find my sense of place. You can see it in pictures below.  Welcome.

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Hope your Christmas is filled with just enough peace and grace,

Teresa

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Linking up with the Nester for the Christmas tour of homes.

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I Won’t Lose You

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I look out my window and see you standing there, all forlorn in your red jacket and shoes.  My heart breaks into a million pieces as you look around lost in another world.

I’m helpless to fix you. I wish I could take you in my arms, hold you tight and make the pain go away.

Memories of things said in haste flood my mind; things I wish I could unsay because I didn’t know. I didn’t know you couldn’t always help it; I didn’t know how bad you were hurting.

How we were all hurting.   Walking around in a fog trying to make sense of the new normal.  In many ways we are all ill – it has changed us.  We dig deep trying to find answers; trying to hold onto hope, but failing in so many ways.

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I don’t want you to leave before you go.  I want you full and present while you’re still with us.  I know it’s not about me, it’s not about any of us really.

We’re the burden bearers reaching out to you to offer comfort, accepting the reality that it’s never enough.  I stifle screams for mercy and laugh with you over whimsy and words that have no meaning.

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The laughter is the mask that helps us live, otherwise, we’d cry tears unto death.  We won’t give in without fighting.  I won’t lose you.  You are still you.,

I wait for a glimmer of your essence and thank God for you..I blink away tears as I watch you walk away and I pray for mercy, strength, and peace.

Later, I’ll cry those tears and hope they wash everything new again.

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Hoping in grace,

Teresa

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postscript:  a few years ago my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  It has been a long painful journey, but it has also had pockets of joy and gifts.  I don’t write about it much because it is so painful.  I have begun to realize that in the writing, a bit of understanding and healing lurks in the words, so today I shared some recent thoughts.  I didn’t do much editing, letting the words speak for themselves they way they were felt.  

Joy?

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Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.   –Romans 12:12

This was one of the verses included in my devotions this morning.  I had to chuckle a little as I read that verse, in light of what I’ll be going through this afternoon.

In a little while I’ll be sipping a lovely “cocktail” in preparation for a routine procedure in the morning.  I have not looked forward to this at all.  I remember well the nastiness of the drink and how I couldn’t finish it the last time.  I also don’t like it when I’m not in control of a situation, so these things usually make me more nervous and fearful than your average person.

So, I’ve done a lot of praying for peace and protection and for good results.  The normal types of prayers.  I also have prayed in hopes that somehow the taste could be blocked.  Seriously.  Not to gross you out, but I almost gag at the memory of five years ago when I last drank from this gutter drink.

I sat with my mother for a while last evening and while we sat quietly in her living-room I spent some time in prayer and was reminded of God’s faithfulness to bring us peace and I knew he’d be with me through this ordeal. And he will.

You can imagine my chuckle this morning when I read that verse in light of my prayers and upcoming procedure.  So, I am doing my best to be joyful in the hope that I won’t taste or even have to drink all of it.  I am trying really hard to be patient with my current ‘affliction” (I think that word is very appropriate for the insult of having to drink the dreaded concoction) and I think faithful in prayer applies here as I’ve done my share of asking for strength to get through this.

I know this verse is to remind us of our hope of heaven and that our suffering or afflictions are nothing in light of that hope.  I also realize that what I will be experiencing this afternoon and tomorrow morning is nothing in light of Christ’s suffering, or even the suffering of one who is facing life threatening illness. I don’t take these things lightly.  But reading this verse this morning, reminded me that Jesus loves us and he cares about us.  He understands our fears and he will be with us in all things, even the minor things that can make us apprehensive.  He also sends us the right scripture at the right time to drive home the point.

Whatever you are facing today I hope that you take hope, practice patience and pray faithfully.

Hoping in Grace,

Teresa