Dear friends,
Regrets or those haunting “What if?” questions are one of the things which can prolong the deep pain of grief. Some experts call it unresolved grief. It is a natural part of grieving to second guess how things could have been different if you or someone else made another choice. Yet when you get stuck in that mind frame, and it holds you captive, it is time to try to resolve it. You may think that there is no way to do that since they have left this earth, but there are definite things you can do to work through unresolved issues. You cannot turn time back and undo any choices you or someone else made; yet you can choose to find a way to work through it and go forward from this point.

Real Regrets, Wounds, and Questions

Through the years I have heard tragic regrets—not taking someone to the doctor, not spending time with them, the last conversation being a big fight, letting their child go on a trip which resulted in death, abuse, neglect, not appreciating them while they were alive…The “What if’s?” can be debilitating: What if I had gotten them help? What if I kept them from going? What if I hadn’t done this or that? The process of going through the deepest part of grief can depend on dealing with some of these issues. Some are really not your doing and others are.

Ask for Forgiveness

There is true freedom in forgiveness for even the worse possible scenarios…for even the worse possible person. It truly has to begin with asking forgiveness from God Almighty. There are a lot of things which come to the surface when we are grieving. Emotions are extremely sensitive. The only One who can truly forgive us is God. He wants to forgive us more than we will ever comprehend. That’s why He sent Jesus to absorb our sin so we could absorb His holiness. We can’t do anything to make that happen. Each of us can only accept His forgiveness in the deep love it is given by God Himself—specifically for you. What a relief when we admit our wrong and our need for a Savior who can give us eternal life.
After admitting to God what we regret-what we are sorry for- we also can ask forgiveness from our loved one (or sometimes not-so-loved one) who has died. Write a letter to them asking forgiveness for what whatever regret, hurt or deep wound you might have caused. Then you can decide to burn it, bury it, tie it to a balloon and let it go, or nail it to a cross.

Give Forgiveness

Sometimes there are real wrongs done against you. You truly might have been innocent and undeserving of a wrong by the person who has died. It is never too late to forgive them. If we are to truly live in the richness of God’s forgiveness, this is something we must do. Forgiveness truly brings freedom! Write a letter to the person letting them know how they hurt you and that you are reviewing your relationship with them. Let them know you are forgiving them. You may have to forgive them over and over until it no longer holds power over you. Then you can do the same thing with this letter as listed above.
Dear friends, this is a very short synopsis of dealing with regrets and unresolved issues. If you truly want to work through this, you will have to do more than just read about it. The book MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU I created to help people work through their own specific memories and grief has at least two chapters which go more in depth. It is for you to work through. It is your choice to accept and give forgiveness. It is a huge step in experiencing the true freedom found in Jesus Christ.
Love and prayers,
Eva

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

Heavenly Father,
Recently, my family experienced a family misunderstanding which went to a whole new level. I was fully aware of the attack and at once began praying. I also asked others to pray with me (without divulging many details). I was amazed how many people responded by asking for prayers for their own family divisions. Someone told me that they had never seen any family act like this. I was immediately reminded that as soon as You created marriage and family, the fighting began.

I also remembered that our enemy is not flesh and blood but the spiritual powers of darkness. Satan prowls around waiting for the right opening. He knows that family can hurt us more than anyone else. That’s why his favorite target is marriage, families and churches. He also knows those entities are Your design for love’s strongest ties. If he can whisper, “He always hurts you this way!”… “She always loves them best.”… “They will never understand you.”… “They don’t love you or they wouldn’t hurt you this way.”… or one of his thousand other flaming arrows that hit where it can do real damage—if we let it.

Father, I refuse to let the enemy’s attack fool me. I will fight back with love and prayer and forgiveness. You always win the fight when we hold our hands up in prayer to You through the battle. Even when I need others to pray with me; when I need them to help me hold my arms up in prayer through the conflict—keep me from telling too much about the details of the attack. Forgive me when I fall prey to the enemy’s scheme and begin to believe the family member is my enemy. I will not fall for that! I love my family and will fight for them. I love You! I am trusting You to fight this battle for me and my family. That is why I am focusing on You and not the attack.

Through this particular battle, I have been reminded how far You will go to save Your precious family—Your beloved children. You sent Jesus, who was completely innocent, to take all our blame and shame and hurtful sin against You. While we were still sinning against You, Jesus quietly and willingly went to the cross for us. He didn’t tell us we were wrong. He didn’t try to tell how right He was. He was spit on, accused, slandered, misunderstood, denied and rejected by the very ones He so dearly loved. He was left alone. In His death. The enemy thought he won. Yet Jesus gave His very life and was resurrected so we could spend all eternity experiencing the depth of Your love. Your love always prevails!

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“Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured the hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” Hebrews 12:2-3

“If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Romans 8:31

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, who do I think my enemy is? Who is my true enemy?

Heavenly Father,
There is always so much that needs to be done- work, laundry, writing, grocery shopping, cooking, care-giving, yard work… It is easy to just jump into the day and just keep going until exhaustion overtakes me at night after every bit of my energy is spent. Yet whatever I happen to do on this or any other day will mean nothing if I don’t stop to spend my time with You, Lord. In fact, I have come to discover that my time with You is crucial to anything I do with the rest of my time.
I try to jealously guard my alone time with You, realizing it affects everything—who I am, my attitude, my perspective, my relationships, my thoughts, what I see and do with the rest of my time. I need You more than the air I breathe, the food I eat, the sunlight that helps me see. I need You to live, to savor life, to guide my way, to have any kind of eternal impact on anyone else. You really are my Way! Life is empty, meaningless and nothing without You.
I dare not try to live a day without You. I know You are with me all the time, but when I stop to be still with You and take time alone with You, it is like filling up my car at the gas station, or like plugging in my dead cell phone or placing fresh batteries in my useless flashlight. When I take time to be still in Your presence, I am blessed with Your indwelling Holy Spirit which flows with fresh power through this otherwise useless life. You dwell in me fresh each day—providing me with purpose, guidance, and power that I could never produce on my own. Everything I do has Your eternal presence flowing through me as I go about Your day. You can do more through me in one day filled with You than I could spend one hundred lives doing things my own way. Yes, my favorite time of day is also my most vital time—alone with You—before You send me out.

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“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. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’” Lamentations 3:22-24

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Heavenly Father, I need to take time with You….

Heavenly Father,
My mom’s eyes still sparkle though her body grows frailer. When I take her to the doctor or out somewhere, people talk to me instead of her—thinking she can’t hear, think or speak for herself. How wrong they are. She still has that same strong spirit that I knew when I was a little girl. She could handle whatever came up. My mom seemed invincible. Just because her body is bent over and she needs a walker or wheelchair to get around…just because her hair is grey, there are wrinkles, and she requires assistance for more things does not mean her spirit or mind has grown helpless. Since she now lives with us, I’m getting another close-up view of growing older.
In our present society, where youthful beauty, strength, fit bodies and sharp minds are glorified, the elderly get shuffled to the side like their purpose is over. I have seen businesses, churches and organizations disregard all the knowledge, experience and wisdom of the older generation. Little do they realize they are building on the life-long sacrifices and input of those who have built before them. I have even heard younger leaders openly say they are trying to reach the young generation and if those who are older don’t like it, they can leave. Father, I have to wonder if they have even given thought to the fact, they will someday soon be the older ones. It happens more quickly than can be imagined.
Lord, help me to give honor and respect to those whose bodies and minds are growing older. Help me teach younger people the importance of respect for the older generation. Help me see these people who are just a couple of decades older than me as the unique incredible individuals that You created. Prepare me to grow older gracefully. And thank You, Lord, for the promise of new imperishable bodies to house our ageless spirits. You are God Almighty who never ages and is the same for all eternity… and You invite us into eternal life with You.

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“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 5:16

“Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:32

“So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raise imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, how am I treating those who are older than me? How am I treating those who are younger?

Dear Friends,
No one has to tell you how real death is. You have experienced it first hand as your loved one was here one moment and then gone the next. Whether you were there with them when they took their last breath or you received a traumatic phone call, you may still be trying to process the reality of their absence. Whether their death was expected or occurred suddenly without warning, they were still physically available one second and gone the next. You are the one left behind.

Processing the Death Takes Time

Everyone has to deal with the shock of death in their own way. Even though our mind knows that death happens, we still can barely believe it happened to one we were so interconnected with. Death goes against our nature. We were created by God to live forever. Death was not part of His perfect plan. It takes a lot to absorb that fact that our loved one is gone. It can shake our world, our security…our entire life. That’s why it often means needing to see the body, know all the details of what happened, and telling and retelling our story of the trauma of their death.

Before and After

Our lives can be so deeply affected by the death of a child, spouse, parent, sibling or friend that it splits our lives in two. Everything is measured or remembered as before or after their passing. You will never be the same. Your life with your loved one by your side was already growing and changing because life is full of changes that cause us to grow. But our life is transformed in a major way by the passing of a loved one. The hopes and dreams of our future change because they will no longer be with us. Perhaps we cared for them and now we must find new purpose in life. Our lives change in such countless ways we can’t even comprehend it all at the beginning. Of course, we will never be the same.

Where Did They Go?

As we deal with their presence with us one moment and then gone the next, we can’t help but think more deeply about where they went. They left their body—so where are they? There is a whole chapter in the interactive book My Forever Memories of You which goes deeper into these natural thoughts. We all know this life will end for us in a moment; this is a critical time to make sure of where we go when we take our last breath. As we deal with our personal grief, we can begin to choose how we will live our remaining moments in this earthly life.

PS. The poem was written by my first husband before he died

Love and prayers,
Eva

 

Heavenly Father, this weekend we traveled south to Texas to visit family. We left at dusk so I didn’t notice the color changing until the next morning when I woke up. It was like a whole new world opening up. Their Spring has already begun! It always surprises me every year when we go down about this time. They are at least two weeks further along in new growth. When I left home, there were a few sprouts coming up—but most of our grass and trees are still brown. Even the daffodils which had barely started blooming were frozen in our last artic front. In fact, we were bundled in winter clothes and didn’t even think to pack for the 80-degree weather we encountered there.

I was thrilled as I kept pointing out Plum trees which were finishing their blooms and Flowering Pears which were in full glory. The grass was actually lush green and growing enough that people were out mowing. Ours hadn’t even started! It was a lovely peek at Spring. We traveled home during the day and watched it backwards as green slowly faded back to the drab winter scene. But it was too late. I already caught Spring fever! I know it’s coming! I got a sneak peek!

Spring is like a sneak peak at heaven for me. (Maybe not the mowing and weeds!) Springtime reminds me of watching the “Wizard of Oz” for the first time when I was little. It started out in the black and white we were familiar with—then it turned into glorious color! Who would think that this drab world I live in could turn into vivid colors of fresh new life! Who thought my ordinary drab life could transform into glory by having Jesus’ blood flow into me and transform me by bringing me eternal life!
Lord, how I love Spring! It is a sneak peek at eternal life with You where there will be no more dormancy, death, darkness…! Since You live in me and are always making me new, I get to enjoy Your eternal life even now because of Jesus Christ! It is the abundant, overflowing life that is forever freshly springing up from within me ready to burst out with new growth, flowers and fruit! And it is only a sneak peek!

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“Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches.” John 15:4-5

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, Is my eternal life springing fresh from my relationship with You through Jesus Christ?

Heavenly Father,

I got a phone call this morning that reminded me once again that my children (and my grandchildren) do not belong to me. I may love them with all my heart. I may have an unbreakable bond with them since they came from my womb or became part of my heart through years of investment of prayers, work and teaching. All the tears cried, dreams shared, games cheered at, meals prepared, laundry washed, prayers prayed, constant sacrifice—none of those entitle me to their now-independent adult lives. I do not have the right to demand loyalty, returned love, or gratefulness for all I did. Those years of giving were motivated by love. Love cannot demand its own way. Loving my children involves preparing and aiming them toward their full potential for Your glory, Lord.

These wonderful amazing adults I see before me were never mine to begin with. There is no way I could create them out of nothing, You, Lord, are the One who made each one with an incredibly unique personality and gifts to bless the world. You placed them individually in my life either through birth, marriage or foster/adoption. They each have enlarged my heart and spirit with the ever-growing love as each season of life that has passed. You simply placed these special souls in my life and gave me an assignment to love them, care for them, teach them Your ways and prepare them to be sent out into this world. That’s why I can handle this morning’s phone call.

As one of my adult children considers the possibility of moving far away, the very best thing I can do for them is to pray with them for that decision. Is it Your will for their life? (I truly want Your will as opposed to mine for Your children’s lives, Lord). You are the only One who knows how this decision will affect generations to come. You are the only One who knows how each soul involved will be impacted by such a choice. I dare not tell them they need to stay close to me to fulfill my wants. Their lives are not about me. Their lives belong to You. After all, You loaned them to me for a season. You have let me share in Your love for them. Lead them, Lord. They are Your children.

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“Sons (and daughters) are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons (and daughters) born in one’s youth.” Psalm 127:3-4

“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, do I realize that my children belong to You? That they are Your children? That I am responsible for Your children You’ve placed in my care?

 

Heavenly Father, today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent- the season approaching Your priceless gift of Jesus’ death and resurrection for our eternal salvation. For years, I didn’t know what Ash Wednesday or Lent were since the church I grew up in didn’t always observe these traditions. I am all for anything that helps us realize who You are, Father…and who we are. Ash Wednesday was established to help us realize and admit we have sinned against You, Lord. That is true. Those who observe Ash Wednesday, have ashes placed on their foreheads often in the shape of a cross with a spoken reminder that our bodies will return to dust. That is also true. Yet, as I was contemplating what to give up for Lent this year, You placed “enjoy” on my heart. What a surprise!
Realizing I am a sinner and giving up something I really like usually doesn’t immediately spell enjoyment! But as I think about who You are, Lord, and all You do for me, I am humbled as I think of the ways I have disappointed You, not trusted You, rebelled against You, ignored You, argued with You, been prideful in front of You- in all Your majestic glory! Oh yes! I have sinned against You. Yet, I know that as soon as I ask, because of Jesus, I am forgiven. I also fully understand that my body will return to dust. I have buried far too many loved ones to not realize how real that truth is. So where does enjoyment come in?

The surprise for me came this morning when You pointed out that I was created for Your enjoyment! I wondered how I could possibly bring You enjoyment… I thought of my children and grandchildren, and though they made mistakes and might have rebelled against me, I enjoy who they are, who I know they are becoming. Their feeble young attempts to show me love in their limited way and watching them grow and mature has brought me immense enjoyment in my life!

Then You placed on my heart that I need to enjoy You! I can only truly enjoy Your very real presence in my soul when I confess and turn from my sin; when I realize I cannot be holy enough to dwell with You without my Savior Jesus to completely do away with my sin. It is done! I also realize I still need to cut out things that want to sneak in and take priority in my life. How can I truly enjoy You, Lord, when I am focused on other things? So yes, I am ready to admit I need Jesus, and I will give up things which threaten to come between us. But I will fill those areas that are taken away with the rich enjoyment of Your presence that I can savor for all eternity long after this body has turned to dust! You enjoy me so I can enjoy You! Sounds like love!

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This prophecy about Jesus in Isaiah 61:1-2 is how much the Lord enjoys us and the only way we can truly enjoy Him:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:3-4

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, How can I bring you enjoyment….


Heavenly Father, I have vivid memories of my professional growing dad sitting in the house when I was young pouring through seed/plant catalogs with beautiful photos of flowers, vegetables and even more permanent flowering/fruit and landscape trees and shrubs. This happened most often during the cold winter months, as he prepared for his spring crops. It was a rare sight to see him sitting during the rest of the year as there was always work to be done in the fields or greenhouses. He always had some reoccurring orders of standard varieties which proved to be successful at growing in our Oklahoma drought-prone summers. He knew to steer clear of selections which looked appealing but wouldn’t grow well in our state. But every year, he took a little risk to try some new varieties, as well.  Over his 50 years of professional growing, he was responsible for bringing all kinds of new plant material to a state that had little to no choices before. He was a true pioneer of horticulture- a modern day Johnny Appleseed.

                When those seeds or tiny starter plants were shipped to us in boxes, they had absolutely no resemblance to those gorgeous photos in the catalogs. Time was of the essence to get the starter plants potted, watered and placed in the proper growing environment so they could flourish. The seed packets were full of the most ordinary-looking seeds. If you didn’t know better, there is no way you would ever believe those miniscule shapes would ever produce what those lovely photographs promised. Yet my dad (along with his crew of employees and captive children followed in faith that he knew what he was doing) sowed, planted and watered those promises which came in tiny packages. They really grew!

                The Oklahoma landscape is still full of trees and shrubs that began with his faith in investing in those tiny seeds. There is no way I could ever count the number of mouths fed, souls nourished and shade provided by the seed of a vision You, Lord, planted in my dad. There is no way I can measure the lives which have been impacted by my parents’ hard work, faith and seed-sowing in people’s lives and yards, in thousands of children whose interest in plants was perked, by employees whose lives were invested in…Oh yes, and by investing in their children- including that little girl who watched her dad order seeds in the middle of winter. Help me be a seed-sower for You, Lord!

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“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.  Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”   Matthew 13:3-8 (Jesus taught in a parable)

“He (Jesus) told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32

“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

 2 Corinthians 9:10-11

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Your Prayer Prompt-

Lord, what kinds of seed am I sowing?


Dear friends,  sometimes I wonder who in the world wants to deal with so much grief…Why spend most of my adult life seeing, hearing, feeling such devastating sadness and loss through a grief ministry? Believe it or not, I am actually a very hopeful, joyful person. How is it possible to live life so fully and abundantly with such brokenness and grief around me all these years?  Let me tell you what a difference HOPE makes…

HOPE is What Helps Us Hang on

                When my young husband died at the age of 37, I knew I desperately needed help to keep going with four children to raise. There was a Grief Support group at a local hospital. Grief support was not so available as it is today.  We met once a week. This mixed group included those who had lost spouses, children, parents, friends, siblings from all types of deaths. It was a very informal group and not necessarily a Christ-centered group. As you can imagine, it was a pretty sad room of people. As I journaled and hung on to the Lord through my grief, I eventually thought about quitting the group but was hit with the sad thought of where hope would come from in this group if I left. So I stayed—holding out HOPE to those who were drowning in grief.

What HOPE Looks Like

                To one who is reeling from the reality of the death of a loved one, at first hope can seem like a tiny fragile thread to hang on to. Little do they know how precious and mighty that tiny strand grows as they hang on through the crashing waves. Hope can appear out of the darkness of the valley of the shadow of death through a hopeful friend who is consistently there yet doesn’t try to take their grief away…through a quiet hug that says I am with you through the pain…a simple yet profound promise of God like “I am with you always”…a very personal reassurance like through a dream, a bird, a song, a flower blooming, finding a note from your loved one (I’ve heard so many through the years). Hope can come out through an unexpected laugh or genuine smile when you thought it would never happen to you again…

HOPE Leads You Home

                After 25 plus years, I have watched the sweetest individual stories unfold before me. I may have started at the chapter of broken hearts and devastation, but I have had the honor to just be there, holding out hope, until a new joy is born. I know I did nothing but be there through a weekly group, and now–through an online group and an interactive book—all which point to HOPE. It is when people hold on to that fragile appearing HOPE that I get to see new life begin to bloom again. Jesus is the strand that leads us home. The more we hold on to Him, the more we realize that strand of hope is unbreakable. Jesus is our Way. He leads us through the valley of the shadow of death to a lovely bright road all the way Home. Then our HOPE is no longer needed for we will live in the reality of God’s love for all eternity. There is nothing more joyful to hope for.