Tag Archive | death

Better than a Halleujah…the melodies of life part 3

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The trip to Indiana and our return back to North Carolina will be forever seared in my memory.  Actually the choice of the song theme for this post comes from the heartache which was to yet come. Still coming to terms with all that transpired, the amazing love of our Lord, His awesome power is the real message in the melodies of life that became as real as breathing. How little did we know the demand to catch that breath as the day unfolded…

My husband and I forged a plan of how we were going to manage the zany back time travel to NC.  The great “deal” for the airline tickets came at the less than optimal time to fly.. of course all of this depends on your point of view.  My family’s home is 95 miles or so from Indianapolis where we needed to be on board at 5:30 AM.  It did not make sense to go up and stay in a hotel near the airport as we would need to still get up so early in order to check the rental car, and get our selves checked in an hour ahead of time. So we decided to get up at 1:30 AM with the car already packed except for our carry on things and hit the road north to the airport.
Right when my husband had risen because of his alarm , he was in the other room when his phone vibrated with a missed call.  Getting calls at 1:30 AM is not the norm, so my  husband was startled to see that his youngest brother had called to let him know that his mother, Verda had been taken to ICU and that all the family had been alerted. Verda, as you may recall in my other posts is using only 10 percent of her heart and has to go each Monday for treatments at the closest hospital.

We knew the Doc had told her that she did not have much more time but then amazingly a new experimental procedure was available at Charleston, SC at the Medical School.  There was a glimmer of hope for her, and for my father in law, Jim; their marriage spanning 61 years.

So we were on alert not yet quite understanding what was yet to come.

How amazing that our wake up call by the alarm on the phone to leave for a flight would come at the same time of a family emergency. We got in the rental car and drove through the cool night meandering through sleepy towns all the way to Indianapolis. Towns, I had passed through frequently while in college at Purdue University on my way up and back.  Sweet little towns like “Beehunter”, Freedom and Spencer, where one of the remaining covered bridges still holds court. Memories of these towns brought back so many memories of songs that were popular when in college.. the melodies of life. Signs everywhere letting travelers know that in Indiana the Tea Party was alive and well as was the independent spirit for freedom, Constitution and faith, Christian faith…

We made each connecting road perfectly along with the right exit to the rental car drop off and once in the airport with very little time to spare, the US Air counter already full of travelers waiting to make their way.  Having slept little we were in need of some coffee but no time till we could get closer to the gates.  The whole time, I felt a consuming need to apply the blood of Jesus to ourselves, family and for the flight crews and passengers.  Praying and glad to be heading home.

Watching the people in the airport– seeing people who seemed happy, people who seemed sad and seeing the faces of reunion and all the unknowns played out in this melody of life which included the robotic voice talking on the speaker systems telling all to not leave packages unattended, and to realize the rules as per Federal regulation.  Wondering and praying over the people passing by. Surreal this exhausting trip long gone  the little farm towns and landscape changing by the minute once airborne.

Once on board, we were looking forward to being back in Wilmington by 9 AM and at our house and our own beds.  Our little dog Quigley had been in the watch care of our son’s childhood friend; who had kindly house sat for us and watered my new spring flowers and got the mail. We spoke with David earlier letting him know we were back in town and it was okay to leave. He had shared that Quigley was okay but sad, missing us terribly and would lay whining at times for us.   So when we pulled up– he was face at the window with his favorite toy in his mouth dropped for joyous barking at our return.

We decided to quickly unpack as we had washed all our clothes before leaving and then settle into our recliners

and just relax. Quigley jumped up in my lap back and forth from my husband to me and contended after much ear stroking. We had been checking with all the family’s cell phones in SC and could not get an answer. Then upon calling the ICU were connected to Aunt Rita and told to come quickly.  Truly startled and home less than 30 minutes with the understanding that we had a 3 hour drive, we threw things into the suitcases we had just unpacked. Our little dog overwhelmed with seeing us do this– the high anxiety of my husband’s fatigue and fear of not making it in time to see his mother alive… had us in a foggy frenzy.

We were in the car, calling back David our wonderful housesitter who said he could come back that night.  Then on the phone with our daughter, and trying to connect with our son and others who needed to know.  Our prayer in the car, please Oh God, please grant us favor to see Verda alive.. praying for healing, praying and praying.  Suddenly so thankful for those crazy early flight times so that we would get this news while on the ground and able to take control of car travel. Oh Thank you GOD!

My husband’s face etched with the trauma of it all… my feeling sadly guilty that he had worked so hard all week and that my parents needs had taken him so far from his mother.   The time seemed endless and we kept praise and worship music on for the power of it.  My staying awake, vigilant for my husband whose fatigue was so obvious.

We got to the hospital and raced up to ICU only to find a waiting room full of family. Beloved maternal and paternal  aunts, uncles, two brothers and an array of cousins.  The situation spoke for itself and we were greeted by the rock of the family, my  husband’s aunt Rita, a retired missionary from years in Brazil, Guiana, Trinidad but not ever truly retired as she is ever a servant for the Lord. A community sub-stainer of salt, light and strength. She is a very dear sister in law …more a sister to Verda.    She is my husband’s father’s  sister  There stood  his uncle Arnold also the support and encourager to the family.  Another aunt, Verda’s sister who married his father’s brother who has since died–  there are double cousins and strong family ties.

All who love Verda.

It hit us clearly she was possibly dying. Prayers floated up — prayer for the will of God, prayers for a miracle, prayer for Jim whose heart was breaking.  Close family allowed in.. the sons, wives, Jim and with wisdom efforts by the nurses in ICU and others urging to keep so many out of the room.

Verda there trying to hold on.. cold to the touch as her organs were shutting down.  His mom hearing my dear husband say he loved her and hearing her say she loved him too and my being able to pray over her and with her. Telling her that our children wanted her to know how much they loved her. Her on 8 percent of her heartworking able to say, I love them too…
Thankful and utterly overwhelmed that he was able to see her still alive, my husband stroking his mother’s face and hair. His Dad weeping in his wheelchair with oxygen attached, which is his routine now.  Watching this play out in disbelief. The hope in prayers reflecting one of my favorite quotes:

“You can draw near to God even though you cannot say a word. A prayer may be crystallised in a tear. A tear is enough water to float a desire to God.”

– Charles H. Spurgeon

Hope being intermingled with sobs and the spoken out loud acceptance by some that nothing could be done.  Our request that no negative be spoken in the room but the word of God.  This very painful melody of life…  yet the way the Lord had gone before this .  A favorite sister in law of Verda’s who is a widow many years now losing her husband, Verda’s brother  many years ago— already coming from Atlanta, a planned trip to see  her before her health had taken such critical downturn.
Their arrival a sweet reunion and the timing with Verda’s rallying a bit, and her able to recognize and speak to them. The many conversations in the waiting room, the bravery of Jim ( James Olin ) to try not to dip into despair.

The day passing on — the waiting and finally the agreement for us to leave, so she can sleep and the plan to return early in the morning.  The drive to the house and walking in to it — Verda’s roses the Queen Elizabeth’s pink in full glory, more radiant than I had ever recalled seeing. The essence of her everywhere.  Rita, tired, managing emotions too being strong and making sure all had a place to sleep. Tony and I staying with my father in law.  Hoping he can sleep– he is utterly exhausted. The concern that the oldest brother is still traveling from Missouri and a long way to come.  Praying for him to be safe and to get there in time….

The prayers of my husband — quietly upward in fervency as hard as he can..

We are so tired we go to bed going to shower in the morning early. I cannot sleep mid night needing to use my air-card with my laptop so I can use my daily devotionals. I am hungry for this time with God, needing my daily 4th watch time with Him…

My computer “suddenly ” having a screen that is flipped so that you  have to pick it up like a book to read it… Not being able to do anything to fix this and feeling so frustrated. It was a form of spiritual warfare– I needed my Bible time and teaching.  Back to bed.The next morning very sleepy and not getting up as early as normal for me.  My husband already showered and my attempting to do that, but helping to put out breakfast for Jim.  My husband cooking eggs and all of us — joined in this ritual of family around the table , so odd she is not there.  Then the phone rings and we are told to come right now!!!

My father in law in a virtual panic, with air hoses flying heading out the door, my husband getting the van with the wheelchair lift ready. My rushing to pull on clothes wishing so much, I had taken the shower the night before. Not important now but what is… stopping to hand pull some of those roses blooming with a vase from the porch as I go by– just in case Verda is awake enough to enjoy them.

Knowing I had a vision of her while praying holding her little boy Myron who had died in her arms at age two from Leukemia.  Knowing but hoping…

Tony’s ( my husband)  brother and wife along with Rita all rushing to get to the hospital about a half- hour away. Tony going on ahead with his Dad and my following behind his brother. Prayers and prayers while driving and trying so hard to find a Christian station while looking  for one– a song from long ago comes on ” The Mother and Child Reunion by Paul Simon. I am listening to this song remembering the vision of Verda with Myron while praying thinking how remarkable this song would be on now…

Mother and Child Reunion

Words & music by Paul Simon

No I would not give you false hope
On this strange and mournful day
But the mother and child reu-nion
Is only a motion away, oh, little darling of mine.
I can’t for the life of me
Remember a sadder day
I know they say let it be
But it just don’t work out that way
And the course of a lifetime runs
Over and over again

No I would not give you false hope
On this strange and mournful day
But the mother and child reu-nion
Is only a motion away, oh, little darling of mine.

I just can’t believe it’s so,
and though it seems strange to say
I never been laid so low
In such a mysterious way
And the course of a lifetime runs
Over and over again

But I would not give you false hope
On this strange and mournful day
When the mother and child reu-nion
Is only a motion away,
Oh, oh the mother and child reunion
Is only a motion away
Oh the mother and child reu-nion
Is only a moment away

The day was glorious — picture perfect with no humidity and the streets of Camden SC dressed in spring finery, birds singing the melody of life…

Arriving at the hospital a full parking lot– then praying for a space, getting one and all us moving fast- my father in law and Tony already inside. Seeing the nurses in ICU looking at the roses in my hand looking kindly at me when I ask if I can use their sink to fill the vase with flowers.. they exchange glances.

Stepping into the room and realizing she has already died and my husband and James did not make it in time by 2 minutes..  my seeing my husband and his brother in tears, my dropping to my knees and holding my father in law’s hand while he is saying he cannot make it without her.  He is so fragile, looking at me saying,” what am I going to do “… my praying with him and saying you will make it only with Jesus then seeing my husband who needed me..

Her passing on April 27th at 8:30 AM to the arms of Jesus walking the streets of Heaven. The mother and child reunion only a motion away.

The love, tears and shock of a waiting room of multi generations.  Our own children who were on their way to tell their grandmother goodbye.. getting the news and realizing they needed to turn back home, with their children , her great grandchildren with Asher never have met her. Our last shot of her with Olivia ( daughter ) holding Eila ( great granddaughter ) and Erica ( daughter in law ) and me with them and Verda. This was taken on Christmas Eve for their 60th Wedding Anniversary in 2008.

The rest a blur — the sadness, the reality, the emotions of the ICU staff who loved her too. The sister breaking down.  The young Pastor who was did not know Verda but had been asked by her brother to come in and pray with the family.

The final goodbyes in her room and James not wanting to see her like that again, but waiting to leave.  Going back to the house, where he says ” Oh my girl , you are everywhere.”  Comfort and pain rolled into the range of emotions…

Food, family, decisions, funeral plans  the ebb and flow. The missing brother who will find out when he calls his wife to check in. He does not have a cell phone and has physical challenges driving and driving.  We later learn that he was driving about 10:30AM the morning she died and suddenly he hears music and is puzzled as he does not have a radio on. Then pulls over shuts off the engine and hears music “singing ” for a few minutes.  This brother saying it had to be angels.. and I like to believe in my spirit that Verda was among them comforting her son … the melodies of life.

My husband and I decide that we will go home to get our clothes and he will come back in the morning and I will stay at home for a day, and follow on the morning of the funeral with our children and grandchildren.

We leave Kershaw, SC to go back to Wilmington. Tired, sad and when almost to the Cape Fear River bridge.. we both see it at the same time– eyes in the sky. I try to take a picture but it is gone. Then we turn on Christian Radio and hear this haunting melody “Better than a Hallelujah ”  and we both are captivated by it  A love touch of grace, mercy and compassion all in a series of events.  As we grow closer to Wilmington we see the burst of great light the prism of a bright colored rainbow just behind the clouds.  He is showing His covenant with us and for us…

Arriving at our house to our waiting children who have dinner ready, our happy dog, loving grandchildren and the news that there were triple rainbows out in the front of our house which were captured by camera. One brighter than another… His love coming down..

Then our daughter writing a beautiful tribute to her grandmother called of  ” Songs and Shells” at her site ” A Work in Progress “http://livadair.wordpress.com/

Upon reading it that next morning and calling my husband to alert him, I was forwarding it and perhaps they would want to consider it as part of the funeral. Later our lovely Olivia reads it after Rita does a wonderful eulogy reminding us of what we already knew. What a special woman Verda was.  While reading, the very personal memories, the sharing touching the other granddaughters and it hits their emotional core and the tears are flowing. Her memories echo theirs too…  A video played  of family during the visitation. Oh how we remembered.

We then gather this family that Verda has left behind, this amazing legacy on earth of her life as a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, great grandmother, role model .  She had 5 boys, now one she is reunited with and the the ones remaining giving her and James 13 grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren.
The family eating together afterward at the house  of Rita  where there is food and more food shared by 4 generations.  Our granddaughter Eila grace playing with another little girl Ella who matches her in age and verbal skills both being held at one point by their ” Papa’s ” my husband and his cousin who is a double cousin and whom both look so much alike..

The swapping of stories, recipes,  among the low hum of the best of family conversation in the worst of circumstance while gallons of ice tea and the love offering of the ladies of Buffalo Baptist Church in food graces the tables put up where space allows.
We see her everywhere. This amazing lady — Verda in the faces of those left behind, my husband, my family …. the melody of life.. knowing she is saving a place for us . The fleeting smell  of her roses drifting across the street and across our memories…  the melodies of life.

We will miss you …

Psalm 139

For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
5 You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;[b]
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.

19 Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God!
Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men.
20 For they speak against You wickedly;
Your enemies take Your name in vain.[c]
21 Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting
.

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Better than a Halleujah.. the melodies of life part 1

The last two weeks have been a collage of memories that have collided with things past.. things now and things future. As I sit here trying to put these events into words.. the full moon is beaming in my window and the pure night air drifts in and it is a comforting feeling. The comfort needed due to the utter weakness felt in my spirit and soothed by the ritual of the night sounds and His creation sounding a much-needed lullaby for my soul.

Maybe it’s the overwhelming realities of life confronting me and my family at this time.  It’s been a time of conflicting emotions running around in my head bumping into the feelings long buried in my heart, awakened now for so many reasons.

Last week  found me being in the rolling farm land of Southern Indiana where the weather is the most important topic of conversation because it links to crops going in ( and coming out ) to not only be the provision for the farm families involved in planting them but for the livestock to be feed, and the literal breadbasket that we enjoy abundantly in this country.
Mornings where 5:30 AM is the expected rising time and the sound of cows lowing and roosters crowing blends with birds melodies coming in an open window or banging screen door.

Mornings begin where my once agile parents “shuffle ” into the kitchen. The sync of coffee, and breakfast over the “farm report” turned up so loud that my husband got a pair of earplugs to endure the blaring noise of it. Tough way to ease in the day but since they are becoming hard of hearing, it sounds just right to them.  So we patiently explain that if you hit the “mute ” button on the remote.. they would not have to keep trying to get the volume to come down but one “hit” and it would be back where they like it.  A compromise we sort of negotiated while there. Days when my childhood memories came tumbling back as we drove around the large land townships which make up the county where I grew up.  A drive on my father’s 1000 plus acres where instead of the beautiful Holstein dairy cows, calves, heifers and steers there now are natural gas wells and mini gas plants pumping and they are everywhere. They are in-between the hollows , lakes and ponds mixed strangely beside fields where rich dirt is being cultivated and planted. Gone the solitude of these areas now with strangers in trucks who come with this new industry. A new melody in the best of my childhood. North of town the coal mines have taken out the 4th generation family farmhouses built by the German immigrants who came to build the most beautiful of barns, homes and gardens here in the heartland of America.  The house of my mothers childhood mowed over by the vast underground mine development and left are the ghosts of hedgerows and a rare grove of trees, or fence running along the lanes.  The loss of what used to be there was strong and on a day when my fragile mother wanted to be taken on this ride, she mentions the places and whose family farmhouses and farms are no longer recognizable to the extreme.  The melody of the land different now and patched here and there are the places that remain.  Back to our small town, where the local restaurant is full of the old and new generations that come for real fellowship.  The regulars there swapping stories, political commentary, jokes and the comfort of folks who come in their “work clothes” shoes covered with dirt, the uniform of  overalls,  and hats advertising the local agricultural vendors covered with dust from plowing. Where when one man or woman gets up, another comes in sits down to join the group eating like family members.

I was there with my husband and parents on “catfish” Friday, when it was all of it you can eat and pies dotting the counter.  A true deal of food including the drink and pies with your meal for $6.50.  Older ladies who squinted to see me and came over extending hands and hugs of welcome.  To them I am the hometown girl come back and embraced with my childhood nickname spoken which made my husband laugh out loud. A community who tipped hats and greeted my mother who made this public visit back into the circle with my husband and I steadying her from the car her cane in toll and seeing her sway as she reached the curb. They had taken up a collection to send flowers during her stay in the hospital. She had a remarkable 25 arrangements sent to her while in the hospital .. this melody of life played out before my eyes through the sound of clinking glasses of tea, forks on pie plates and voices of people I had not thought of for so long…

We travel my husband and I in the car across Amish country which is a county over and the place I remember well. There too are the gas wells but the generations of farms, barns and houses are intact. They comfort me as we pass them, neat as can be.  We go to the Amish restaurant where again, I am welcomed for family maiden name, older folks who remember me and one relative who finds out I am speaking at Bethel Church on Sunday and they come to Sunday School just to  hear me share. Do I feel like crying about it all , yes I do. Because not only of failing parents who cannot do all they have done but because of the era of America vanishing from the landscape but not the spirit of the people who for the most part don’t lock their houses when gone all day because they know each other near and far…

Then to the cemetery at our family church ” Bethel ” where the carillon bells play at sundown on Saturday night.

A tribute in gift from my parents a melody of life where this rings across the land for a 26-year-old son who died in an accident in 1981 on a picture perfect June day. My brother Doug who is still so beloved.. suddenly  is bigger than

life in my memories of him as we see his grave stone among those of family all the way back to 1847 when early family settlers lost loved ones to yellow fever, and hard times.

Roses grace the cemetery, wild roses and the sound of birds chattering in the maple trees that tower in this place.

My Dad is out and about in his pick up truck driving to see what crops are coming up and what fields my older brother had not yet planted. Going without a cell phone nor often telling my mother who is still quite sick where he is going but driven all the same. A sadness in him that was not there before because of the age changes in his body that have changed too his light- hearted personality.  He hears a different melody of life now and is interested most fervently to hear the sound of the trumpet — of our Lord. He measures each day with one closer to the rapture.  His hope to see Doug again in heaven ever-present daily.

So I rise in the quiet of the house while there .. which has floors that creak and is filled with dust of a much needed cleaning, washing of almost everything in it because my parents cannot do these things anymore.  I sit in the moonlight with my laptop and my air card to pull my devotionals and the online Bible.  The stillness of the night comes like a friend where my ritual of rising in the 4th watch has me talking to God about the melodies of this life and feeling so out of sorts. I sit and pray for my mother, Dad, folks back home, online friends, staff and children at the ministry in NC that I lead and our own children and grandchildren. Thanking God for the legacy of life and the childhood filled with fields where among the wildflowers and cows.. I knew Jesus as my friend and later as Savior and the Son of our Almighty God.  Praying too for my husband’s mother whom was struggling with a body that was becoming weaker and in this night watch knowing He knows my every thought and need. I worship Him there in the moonlight which cuts a shadow across the grain bins standing tall with a harvest to come. The hallelujah of it all resounding the  wonder of His ways…

Psalm 5

1 Give ear to my words, O LORD,
Consider my meditation.
2 Give heed to the voice of my cry,
My King and my God,
For to You I will pray.
3 My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD;
In the morning I will direct it to You,

And I will look up.

01 Better Than a Hallelujah

To be continued….

Seasons of strengths amid seasons of sorrow

Today has been a wrangling process with this particular post… maybe it’s the topic which has taken me to a ” selah ” time for about two weeks.  Having seen dear people I love, know and know of… lose loved ones, or relationships, their lives forever changed has put a “quiet, be still now in my spirit”. Anyone who knows me well, will understand that itself out of character for me to be so “quiet”.

The eyes have seen in our world  and culture, I fear too much death, tragedy , and devastation of historical  magnitude “right up and personal ” in their home, office, or coffee house peripheries . My concern is around if this will ( does )  lead to a  a kind of de-sensitization.  I am pondering this.

In the last couple of weeks, via the technology of our day ….great tragedy has been presented in our view on either the internet, on our radios, cable news or in our daily reading about the horrific events in Haiti.

Such magnitude of loss, grief and suffering touches all of us in some way unless one no longer has a heart that can be touched by such events.

Can that be happening too? Concerned for a bit then head down not looking, hearing anymore?  Believe me, I know people who are not doing that but unfortunately there are many more things taking center stage and missing what this “shaking ” means for the believer…  ( more on that later here )

It became real for us through many who are closely tied to those in and around Haiti. The connections to many ministries are vast and the blogs of the daily suffering that I have read touched me to tears and gratitude for those who are alive giving testimony.

It led me to prayer for the Christians on the ground in the trenches who are in their greatest hour of walking out their faith. It makes me ask myself.. how would I do there? Would I stand in strength? Oh Lord … would I? Someway, I know this is an altar call for the “remnant ” bride of Christ to internally see if we are intimate with Him to be ready.

This great cataclysmic tide of sorrow has rolled in with a reminder of the strengths of people who manage to show a testimony of survival against all odds. For those who prevail …their faith seems to rise amid the seasons of sorrow. For faith is the sustainer of those who reach for Him in the midst of so much pain. ” The Lord is near the brokenhearted and those crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

It takes me to a song by Addison Road… “Everything rides on hope now, everything rides on faith somehow… when the world has broken me down, Your love sets me free.”  You’ve become my hearts desire, I must sing your praises higher”… Could I sing my praises higher when my family is buried under rubble?

How about if, the only hope in the “camp” is the Bible verse that is my head when all is shaken? Or there is such surreal incoming of events that the mind is swamped. What would I do? I am asking myself that while being in the real company of people who  have in a different set of circumstances battled grief, sorrow, loss and shaking all around in another sort of way.

The first time loss really hit my life was on Christmas day during my early childhood when our little dog “Pepper” crawled up on my lap. It was while I was looking at a new gift in the form of a book… he simply died. It shocked and stunned me. At age 4, it broke my heart.

This was a great sadness and came with a sense of betrayal and injustice since I had prayed for Pepper. A tiny dog who had gotten into a scrimmage with a German Shepherd who grabbed him by the neck.   My early encounter with deeply talking things over with God grew from this moment.

Walking in farm fields when bringing up the Holstein cows.. much time to talk to the Lord.
There was no shortage of these types of things .. beloved animals that would perish on our dairy farm.  Early life lessons about death and the feelings of loss when a cow, lamb, cat or another pet was  no longer part of my daily joy. Baby calves who did not make it in the cold winter barns or a favorite cow who was struck by lightening when drinking from a pond. These were events of life on a farm that is based on seasons.

I lost my grandparents and my dearest adopted grandmother whom  I deeply loved and held on to the fact they knew the Lord and were in His place now.

Fast forward.. to my early young adulthood. Now a mother of an 18 month old, I get the word ( the dreaded phone call )  that my younger and beloved brother was killed instantly in an accident on a beautiful June day … my parents world blew apart.  We traveled quickly home to the family, farm, funeral and the questions that would come.

My question was to God, as I was not sure if my dear brother was saved. My husband and my last conversation with him in our North Carolina home was about Jesus and a candid discussion about Him as Savior but I still did not know.

So I prayed and prayed for God to show me the answer to that question and in His grace and mercy, He did.  Two weeks later in the quiet of my home, our little girl had woke up in the middle of the night and I said to God ” Oh please let her go back to sleep because I don’t want to think about Doug ( my brother ) because it hurt so much.

Then it happened the feeling of going into a warm room from a cold one.. it felt like it lasted for a long time and a voice said to me

” Do not let your heart be troubled, he is in a safer place than you can imagine”.  I was awake during this time and I woke my  husband to ask him if he had heard it.

He had not but I knew that I knew that our Lord in His great mercy and love had told me what I needed to accept my brother’s death. I called my mother and father but my mother instead of being happy to learn this said to me ” why would God tell you and not me”?

Exactly .. because I was desperate for the knowing and I believed Him when He told me. This was my first really true  voice of God experience of Him speaking to me audibly.  ( I have only had two out loud ones , the rest are to my spirit ).

This grace of this revelation I see now was also preparation for how I would learn to experience a relationship with God in a growing way.  When we are weak, He is strong.

Fast forward again to the present where it seems that the walking out of ones faith is evident in the lives of so many around me and yes even the strangers on TV or the blogs posted where believers in Haiti are pouring their hearts out.

For those around me, our dear receptionist at my work ministry has been an incredible testimony of strength in sorrow. For those who have read my blogs.. her mother,  ( whom we were praying for ) Dianne went on to be with Jesus on January 8.  Not only did she lose her mother but a little over a year ago lost her son to a great tragedy and has fallen on her faith in Jesus Christ to come through these hard times.

It was this “season of sorrow” that has fashioned a great woman of faith. She humbles me. When at her mother’s wake, she absolutely glowed in the peace of the Lord. Not to say there was not sorrow but the triumph of the joy of the Lord being her strength was her countenance, manner and speech. A testimony in an offering of faith in sorrow.

Then there is my friend via email ministry who lost a relationship that was hard to walk away from. She has done it, is doing it and is faith in motion as she daily adjusts to this loss. Strength I can feel through heartache on the pages.

Then there are the children who are healing from abuse, neglect and a childhood of loses who are receiving residential care and treatment in our ministry. The children who get up each day with a smile on their face but not yet in their eyes.. those who long, crave, need to belong to an adult, a family who is just over the moon for who they are.. but they are not in sight. So they are holding on to the Word of God in scripture . Jeremiah 29:11 ” For I know the plans I have for you , not for evil or calamity but a hope and a future…

That they are “fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalm 139 and they slowly transform through childlike strength in seasons of sorrow. They amaze me each day.. these tiny towers of strength wrapped in the arms of staff, with songs of deliverance from Christian radio to be the lullaby in their heads.

One little boy broke my heart this past couple of days as his sadness was enveloping him to a place of despair… not unlike the children anywhere who are suffering.  Just a mission field ( stateside ) in my daily life instead on the news or in the lives of missionaries I know. He is floundering in deep sorrow trying to find the inner strength to hold on. We are praying!!

Corrie Ten Boom

Perhaps one of the best examples of strength amid seasons of sorrow is the life of Corrie Ten Boom who found the strength to be an encourager of her faith in Jesus Christ despite the loss of her sister Betsy and much of her family in Nazi Germany’s death camps.  I had just read yesterday her account of the following.

When I was in a concentration camp during World War II, we had to stand every day for two or three hours for roll call, often in the icy-cold wind. Once a woman guard used these hours to demonstrate her cruelty. I could hardly bear to see and hear what happened in front of me.

Suddenly a skylark started to sing high in the sky. We all looked up, and when I looked to the sky and listened to its song, I looked still higher and thought of Psalm 103:11: “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him” (RSV).

Instantly I saw that this love of God was a greater reality than the cruelty I experienced myself and saw around me. “Oh the love of God, how deep and great, far deeper than man’s deepest hate.”

In His mercy, God sent that skylark every day for three weeks, just at the time of roll call, to give us an opportunity to turn away our eyes from the cruelty of men to the ocean of His love.

God’s love is both a protection and a weapon. It guards us against impatience, against bitterness, against gloating. It is also a very strong weapon in the battle to win souls, for it never gives in.

It looks for a way of being constructive, it is glad when truth prevails. Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope: It can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that stands when all else has fallen (see 1 Cor. 13).

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Are we being prepared as we journey in this life as a believer to be able to have the strength to tell a suffering world of His great love?

I believe the Lord is crying out to His children in these events to arise and come closer.  Coming closer now, daily, deeply is going to make all the difference.

When we are weak He is strong and is its our abiding hope to share with a broken world. Oh Lord help me to grow in you so I maybe a witness.

04 There Will Be a Day

By Jeremy Camp who has found strength in seasons of sorrow…

Selah~