I’ve recently been affected by friends who are facing the greatest grief this side of Heaven, the death of a loved one. My Mom and Dad both passed away around the holidays, as well as my husband’s mom, making this time of year emotional for me. I haven’t moved on from feeling the pain of the loss, but I’ve grown as a result of it.
Grief is necessary and there are no rules as to how each of us deal with it. The thing is to know what to say when a close friend or relative is facing such a loss that you’ve yet to experience. There are helpful things and hurtful things, but all mean well even if what is said brings a sting with it. This is why we often don’t know that we have hurt someone by our response to their pain. They usually don’t tell you, they just become silent and pull away.
A dear friend lost her husband last week. She has shared some of her pain on social media and many responders have said exactly what she doesn’t need to hear. “He’s in a better place”. “He would want you to move on with your life.” And so on. Instead we need to come along side those as they grieve and let them cry. The Bible provides the simplest and best advice…”Weep with those who weep.” (Period). Even Jesus did this with Mary as she grieved her brother, Lazarus’ death. And Jesus knew He was about to bring him back to life, yet Jesus paused and wept with her.
Why did He do this?
I believe He was setting us an example of how to best help someone in their suffering. Let them cry. Let them talk about their loved one. Let them continue to miss them and acknowledge that their life mattered. Even if it makes you uncomfortable, maybe even causes you to cry, this is the best we can do for those grieving.
I found this Ted Talk by Kelley Lyn titled, When Someone You Love Dies, There Is No Such Thing as Moving On. It is only 16 minutes long, but Kelley provides excellent ideas on what really helps a friend who is facing such a loss. If you or someone you know is grieving I pray this video will bring comfort to your heart this holiday season.
I kept the memory of my grandmother alive who died in 1979, by writing her story in my historical fiction novel, Through The Eyes of Grace. It is my tribute to the woman who had such a profound influence on my life and all who knew her. Doing such things let’s love live through our memory of those who have passed away.
May this Christmas season be one where you receive tidings of comfort and joy, even if joy seems far away at the moment.
Her attention to detail was barely noticed by the gathered crowd from various parts of the eastern seaboard. We were an unlikely group except we had two things in common: we were women, and we were waiting to use the restroom. This woman, employed by South Carolina’s Welcome Center, certainly had her hands full–the line wrapped around the building, yet her heart embraced her calling with joy and grace.
We talked briefly. She explained how bad she felt for the bus load of special needs adults who took extra time to do what we were all there to do as quickly as possible. She looked away speaking kindly to the old woman with the walker making sure she had a clean stall and toilet paper.
She continued, “I hope I don’t need this kind of care one day, but if I do, I’m sure someone will be there for me as I have been for others.”
“I hope so too, ma’am! And thank you for making a difference.”
“Have a blessed day!” She said ducking her head in another stall to sanitize it.
Oh I will, I thought, because of your inspiring example.
“As you did to the least of these you’ve done it to Me.” Matthew 25:40 (paraphrased)
It’s been three years since I last attempted to begin my second book. When I put it on hold, I knew God would show me when the time was right to start.
My time may have arrived.
As I mentioned in my last post, I was privileged to attend a local ladies book club in Marietta, GA, where they had chosen my book to read for the month of September. I was hopeful to hear their thoughts and questions at their monthly meeting this past Tuesday night. I was not disappointed.
I was relieved and grateful to discover the atmosphere in the group was casual and friendly. The ladies seemed to really enjoy my grandmother’s story, and to sit among all this excitement and hear their questions was such an amazing honor for me, not to mention a much needed boost.
I found out things they are hoping to discover in the next book. I was surprised that there are some characters they are hoping to hear more from that I had planned to never mention again. Imagine! Some of my fictional characters stirred enough interest to make them want to find out more about them.
So it begins…as I prepare to dust off my historical/fiction writing skills, I’m as excited to see how it all turns out as much as my readers are to read about it. Knowing there are readers who really care about my grandmother and what happens to her next is quite a blessing and one that would have made my mom proud.
Special thanks to the Ladies Book Club in Marietta, GA, for blessing me with this much needed boost!
(I was so excited I failed to take a single picture! For those of you who know me that never happens!)
I am on my way to Atlanta where I will be sharing with a book club that has been reading my book this month. I’m very excited to hear their thoughts and questions. I’m thinking this may be the jumpstart I need to begin the second half of Grace’s story.
I just re-read my book in order to help me hear Grace’s voice as I consider the next events in her life and how best to share it. Curious, do you have any questions you’d like to ask? I’d love to hear!
Mother’s Day used to be a day we celebrated without much thought. Each year our Moms were there. Each year our kids were with us. It was so routine I didn’t appreciate it until everything changed. Now Mother’s Day is more of a challenge to guard my thoughts and watch my attitude. Because it’s so easy to take the spiraling downward emotional roller coaster of self-pity and discouragement.
Within the past five years my two older kids moved to other states and my Mom took her last breath in this life. Now Mother’s Day is a holiday fraught with temptations of all sorts.
But this year is different. God has planned a very special surprise for me. I’m hosting my First Ladies retreat of 2016 beginning on Sunday, and on Tuesday I got a phone call from my mentor and friend who has been like a spiritual mom to me my entire adult life. She said God made it clear He wanted her to come to my retreat!
So, on Sunday I will be able to spend extended time with my dear friend and I am grateful to God for taking thought of me.
It was 40 years ago today that an event took place that would set the course for the rest of my life–it was Jesus 76 set up on what would become Disney property. It was a cow pasture where thousands of young people gathered to hear the Gospel proclaimed in terms relevant to our generation. We heard it preached by C.J. Mahaney, Larry Tomczak, and Jamie Buckingham to name a few. And we heard it sung by 2nd Chapter Of Acts, Barry McGuire and Lamb.
It was a time like no other in the church. Our parents weren’t sure about it, but they liked the results, young hearts captivated by the love of their Savior.
We didn’t know the Bible well, but we had met its Author and we were changed. While many of our friends in school were experimenting with free sex and drug use, we were finding a different kind of high and we wanted to tell everyone about it.
It was an amazing time in history.
Looking back I can see how God arrested my heart. It began when our Baptist Youth Pastor loaded us all up on the church bus and took us to Wilmore, Kentucky, for Ichthus 75. I didn’t know it then, but I was being introduced to the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit. I saw people my age and a bit older completely sold out to live for Christ. They raised their hands to God in worship. They took notes. They marked up their Bibles. And they talked about what they were learning. It was contagious!
So Happy Birthday, Jesus 76. How I thank God for the celebration you began in my heart 40 years ago. Oh, and thank you for introducing me to my future husband as well. My, how God has used you in my life! And I’m eternally grateful!
I had the privilege of speaking to a group of ladies at Bethel Fellowship Church in Minneota, MN, a couple of weeks ago. Because I’ve journaled for years it has helped me connect the dots allowing me to sometimes see the bigger picture of what God is doing. As I shared this I realized what a gift it is when God allows us to see this.
In Genesis 50, the account of Joseph provides a great example of connecting the dots. Listen to what he says when he gets it:
I love how Joseph humbly weeps realizing how good God was to him through all the pain, hardship and years of waiting with unanswered questions.
Writing Christian historical fiction is like this. It’s telling a story that is set during a time in history that connects the dots of God’s faithfulness to the characters portrayed. What lessons we can teach; what examples we can set; what a privilege it is to do this.
Before we can write about it it helps to experience it for ourselves, writing with the voice of one who has been there.
How have you connected the dots of God’s active work in your life? If you’ve never considered this–ask Him to show you. He loves to make His name and presence known in all the circumstances we face. Those who are looking for His hand will find it was there all along pointing the way.
My husband and I just returned from a trip to Minnesota where we were asked to speak to a church on marriage and other topics. I was asked to share with their women’s ministry about my life–the field was wide open. I decided to talk about how journaling became such a significant part of my life.
Journaling is easier now than ever–at least the decision to journal is made easier because the plethora of beautiful journals available make keeping a personal journal inviting–but buying a journal and keeping a journal are two different things.
How many journals have you purchased and never used? How can we go from wanting to journal to actually doing it?
I think the answer comes down to how you answer the why of journaling.
“Why, then, do I set before You an ordered account of so many things? it’s certainly not through me that You know them. But I’m stirring up love for You in myself and in those who read this so that we may all say, great is the Lord and highly worthy to be praised. I tell my story for love of Your love.”
― Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
I have found that after decades of keeping a journal it helps me connect-the-dots of God’s faithfulness in my own life. He accomplishes what He sets out to do. All.the.time. Yet we often miss it because we forget. Journaling helps me remember dots I’ve previously lived and connect them to today.
I have a personal conviction from God to keep a journal. And this is what fuels my discipline in this regard.
It’s this way with all things of a life-changing nature. We set out to do something new because we’re compelled that it will make a lasting difference in our lives. Consider the conviction it took for us to…
Choose who we would marry
Start a family
Accept Christ as our Savior
Move to a new city/state/country
I realize that journaling is a much smaller decision to make than the ones listed above. Journaling won’t change your life in the way these bullet-points will, but it will change how you view your life. I’ve found that when I think with my fingers it helps my mind not only remember my thoughts, but it gives me a different vantage point from which to consider. I change as a result.
When was the last time you sat and considered your life and the circumstances currently challenging you? Why not take that beautiful journal off the shelf and write what’s on your heart? Your fingers may have a lot to say.
I think with my hands–which means I have to write out my thoughts to fully understand what’s going on in my heart and mind. This is one of the reasons I blog. It helps me stay focused on a certain aspect of my life and also helps me sort through the noise of my often cluttered mind.
I want to introduce you to my new blog.
While this one is focused on my writing and the importance of knowing your family’s history, my newest blog is focused on living far away from my 7, soon-to-be 8 grandchildren. It’s titled, The Faraway Nana, a phrase which made me cry for the longest time. I avoided this label until I realized that this was God’s choice for my children, and I know that they’re where they’re called to be. Who am I to question God’s wisdom? So, instead of avoiding the title, I decided to embrace it by starting a blog by the same name, sharing my journey in this new, long-distance role.
I would love for you to check it out and let me know what you think!
This week we were watching The Tonight Show with host, Jimmy Fallon, when he did something that brought tears to my eyes. I don’t want to spoil it for you, so take a moment and listen in as he shares this special bit of his family’s history…
Honoring our parents for the sacrifices they have made for us is fitting, and it’s Biblical.
“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”
(Ephesians 6:2-3 ESV)
Do you know stories about your parents’ or grandparents’ that are worthy of honor? If you don’t, why not ask them a few questions and find out. Most of our elders don’t like to talk about themselves, UNLESS they know we really want to hear it. Starting the conversation with a good question is the best way to convince them of our interest in them. Not sure what to ask? This is why I’ve provided a list of questions in the back of my book, Through The Eyes Of Grace, to help you in discovering their stories, which are ultimately your stories.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
Did you ever meet anyone famous? How did this come about?
Did you serve in the military? If so, what is one thing you’ll never forget about that time in your life?
Have you ever received any awards or commendations for service in the military or elsewhere? Tell me about it.
Everyone has a story to tell, but for them to be remembered someone has to take the time to listen. I encourage you to do so before there’s no one left to ask.