Dear friends.
Another one of my precious preschool children I taught and helped care for since she was born just had to learn of her daddy’s death. I identify with her mom who had to tell her what no mother wants to tell her child. This will forever shape and define who this delightful girl is. Her devoted daddy was with her one moment and gone the next. It is so hard for adults to deal with the reality of death. It is just as difficult for kids to handle…but they do. They could use our help, though. The adults who are there for the child are usually grieving also. It is so important not to forget the kids during this time. They may look Ok, just like you do—but they need some extra care during this time as well. Besides, it gives you purpose to keep going.
My four children ranged in age from 2 years old to 17 years old at the time of their dad’s death. Several older widows told me that I was blessed to have children still at home to make me have reason to keep going each day. Even as we deal with our own grief, we need to actively seek ways to help our children express theirs.
• Expect new fears to surface—especially at night time or nap time when it gets quiet and lonely. Try to ease them into sleep by providing vitally important bedtime routines including prayer, story, the best thing that happened to them today… Tuck them in and reassure them you are there. ALL ages need this!
• Let them know you are hurting, too—that it’s OK to cry. Cry with them, hold them. Let all ages know you both need extra hugs right now.
• Give them a large huggable stuffed animal with their loved one’s photo around the neck (in a soft frame like a luggage tag. It will be cuddled more than you know. Some people make a pillow of shirts the loved one wore.
• Reassure them you will be OK. That you will be there for them and will care for them. They may never have seen you grieve and may think you will not be able to care for them.
• Let them know when you are leaving and coming back. Everyone is fearful of losing another loved one when it is so real.
• The greatest gift you can give your child is to share your faith in eternal life—that they will be reunited with their parent—that there will be no more death—that because of Jesus we can count on a joyful life after death. If you are not sure of that, perhaps this is the time to be sure.
• Talk about your loved one. Share memories—especially funny ones and pleasant times.
• Use the MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU for children to let them make their own memory book to keep forever. There are pages to spark their own precious memories to draw, write about or put photos in.
• Let them play but don’t be surprised when something will trigger a new wave of grief. When it happens, let them talk, cry or just hold them til it passes.
• Expect extreme and sudden changes of emotions. Be extra patient as they work through these. Help them find ways to express it. Let them know you have crazy emotions right now, as well.
• Encourage a regular routine to maintain order during such a chaotic time (for you both!)
• Children will reexperience grief at big moments in their life as they grow- like learning to drive, graduations, their wedding and birth of their own child. These are peak times they realize anew how much they miss their parent.
• Sometimes children do not feel open to share their hurt with you because they know you are hurting and they do not want to add to it. Keep reminding them that it is good to express their grief and you can get through this together. Reassure them you are still a family.
• For more help got to my website or join My Forever Memories of You grief group on Facebook
• For more help, get one of the MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU books available in adult and children’s versions.

Love and prayers,
Eva

Heavenly Father,
It seems like everyday I have to struggle in some form with this question. As I bring all my hurts, plans, dreams, mistakes…As I come to You in prayer letting You know how I feel about whatever is going on, I have actually found I am wrestling with the same issue: Is this part of Your will or mine?

Hurts– Lord, You know me better than anyone. You know how easily I get wounded. It is easy to come running to tell you about my latest encounter with someone who knew or maybe didn’t now how badly they had hurt me. How easy it is to spout off the pain that was wrongfully inflicted. How tempting to stay in that hurt and let it escalate out of control. You patiently listen to me spew about my very real hurts…then You remind me how Jesus reacted when He was hurt by His friends and enemies. He forgave them and prayed for them. Lord, perhaps these very hurts I want to wallow in are an opportunity You can let Your Holy Spirit show through me. Perhaps it is Your will to let my response be through Christ to draw someone closer to You…

Plans– Father, as I plan out my day and try to accomplish everything as quickly as I can, I have to fight against feeling resentful when an interruption comes. Don’t they realize what important things I have to do? When I stop to listen to You, Your Spirit gently reminds me that my plans will accomplish little, but Your plans make a difference eternally. My plans may seem critical- but Your plans are life-changing. Let me be ready and willing to drop my little plans for Yours.

Mistakes– Lord, You know I hate it when I realize I have made a mistake; when I missed an opportunity; when I reacted wrongly; when I misjudged someone’s motives…Lord, it is all too easy to beat myself up and want to quit trying so it won’t happen again. Yet, how often my mistake has resulted in a new awareness of how weak I am; how much I need You; a new humbleness before You and others. You make no mistakes, Lord, yet You take my mistakes and turn them into something new and glorious as I bring them before You.

Dreams– Father, I think of the dreams and goals I have had in my life. They seemed so great and lofty at one time. You have taken my huge visions and whittled away all the empty fluff. Lord, as I try to live by Your mission for my life (to love You and others) it is amazing what incredible power there is in doing little things with You- like enjoying You on a quiet walk, a spontaneous loving conversation with a stranger in a check-out line, dancing with children, hugging and praying with someone hurting…

Lord, it is a good fight. Help me keep dying to my own will and truly be willing to do Your will with rejoicing.

 

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“Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’” Matthew 26:39

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 23:37-39

“Then He said to them all: ‘IF anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever loses his life for Me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Most Holy Father, what of my own will do I need to let go of today?

Heavenly Father,
Today I took a photo of the miracle Clematis for my neighbor. It had never bloomed before…until the day her husband was getting his long-awaited heart transplant. She ran home to get something she needed before the surgery and the vine that had never bloomed was in bloom for the very first time. The Lord used this vine in a very personal way to let her know all would be well. It has bloomed every single year since for the first time on April 22—no matter what. Even years later when her beloved husband died, it showed its first bloom on April 22…and every year since. My friend recently had to go stay out of state with her daughter. Today she texted and asked me to check to see if it was blooming. I took a photo of it in its full glory! Full of blooms and buds (as pictured)! Just in time to give my dear neighbor hope again for some hard things she and her loved ones are going through!

Father, what would we do without the eternal living hope of our Risen Savior Jesus Christ!!! There is nothing worse than hopelessness. How horrible to think this world with all its challenges and trials is all there is—that things will never get better—that death is the end.

How hopeless things appeared to every person who had put their hope in Jesus to save them they way they thought He should. Their hopes of deliverance from a ruthless government, their hopes of Jesus being the kind of king who would overthrow the current tyrants, their hopes that He would give them the best seats in His Kingdom, their hopes that He would solve all their current issues…There was never more hopelessness and darkness than when Jesus was nailed to the cross and died. The entire earth turned black for three hours with absolute hopelessness….
But You, Lord, had immeasurably greater plans for Your Son, our Savior, to rise victorious once and for all over death and the dark hold of hopelessness. Jesus is our hope! Jesus Christ is our Savior! As we bow before Him and accept Jesus as our King and Savior, we begin to see Him blooming all over the place bringing us hope in very personal ways to encourage us to not give up—to not grow weary of following Him—to not count on the way things appear but to trust He is not finished—to trust His promise that the day is coming when we will never face pain, sorrow, death any more –to have the spiritual power of Your Holy Spirit to face whatever comes our way… I want to thank You for the lovely personal blooms of encouragement You have blessed me with during a challenging time I have faced lately. Jesus, You are living and blooming with hope all around me!

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“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom…they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God…Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped, Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.” Isaiah 35:1,2,5,6

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials…” 1 Peter 1:3-6

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, help me look past my current trial to the eternal hope in Jesus Christ…Let me have eyes to watch for Your living encouragement!

 

 

Heavenly Father,
You’ve done it again! Every year as the celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection approaches, I ask You to show me something new about Jesus. Last night as my husband and I watched the movie “The Passion of Christ,” You pointed out something new. We watch the movie once a year during Holy Week. It is a very hard movie. We can only watch it once a year and that is only because we don’t dare want to ever forget what You gave us when You sent Jesus to die and be resurrected for us.
There is always a temptation to want to close my eyes when it comes to certain parts but I make myself watch. This year I saw something new. There may be a few things in the movie that have been added to what the historical account in the Bible tells, but the horror of Jesus’ torture and death is probably pretty accurate. This year’s viewing hit me in a new way starting with Jesus being led like a quiet willing sheep to slaughter. The Son of God- who helped make all there is in the beginning- the One who has all power and authority on heaven and earth, the only One ever born to live completely without any sin, the One who has the right to judge was escorted like a guilty criminal before His own creations and allowed Himself to be judged and convicted to death.
The new thing I saw was the deep look of love Jesus had for:
• the ones who swore allegiance unto death but fled at the sign of danger
• the ones who yelled “Crucify Him!”
• the ones who told lies to have Him put to death
• the one who could find no guilt in Him yet allowed the crowd to rule
• the ones who beat Him beyond recognition, spit on Him and mocked Him
• the ones He loved who deserted him, denied Him and betrayed Him
• the one who was released in His place
• the ones who drove the nails
Jesus look of love was more powerful than any personal hurt, disappointment, abandonment, loneliness he experienced. He knew why He was giving His life. He wasn’t killed—He gave His life so we can live forever with You. He knew we are each weak and cannot save ourselves. He knew we were all sinners. He knew He was taking our deserved punishment for our sin. He, who has no sin, gives each of us that same powerful look of love from the cross despite our sin against You, Lord. It is His desire that not even one should perish. I want to look at You and others with Jesus’ look of love.

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“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely, He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:3-6

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Lord, open my eyes to see Your look of love for me from the cross…

Dear Friends,
Several of you just faced the year anniversary of your loved one’s departure from this earth. My thoughts and prayers were with you though I might not have been able to fully express that. (My son-in-law is still in the hospital recovering from a 20-foot fall through a skylight in a roof. Praise God! He is broken but alive! I thought I would be adding my daughter to the young widow list) There is a surprising amount of emotions that you may go through approaching or on that particular day. Perhaps it is the fact that it has been a full year—not the grueling days or months you’ve been enduring—but a whole year. Here are various thoughts and statements on that “year anniversary” I have experienced or heard others express through the 26 years since my husband’s death and encouraging others through grief:
• Congratulations—I made it through the first year.
• A year is nothing compared to how long I will have to live without them.
• Anticipating that year mark is worse than the actual day.
• I just want to sleep through that day.
• I made that day a special celebration and it was so precious.
• I am not the same person I was a year ago.
• I will never be the same as I was a year ago (I’ve heard the previous two statements in both positive and negative connotations).
• They will stay forever young and I will grow old.
• A year! Now my grieving is over, right?
• I am just now beginning to grieve.
• I’m beginning to have hope for my future.
• I will never get past this.
• I just keep reliving their death.
• I want to carry on the best of their life for the rest of my life.
• I can never love again. Loss hurts too much.
• Life is short. Relationships are precious. It is important to me to let others know how much I love them.
• I will never see them again.
• I can live fully because I know I will be reunited with them… and the Lord is with me and will never leave me.
Wherever you are on that “calendar of grief,” I am praying for you as you truly will not ever be the same. The reason I keep doing this? No one understands your personal grief more than God; and Jesus makes all things new.
Love and prayers,
Eva

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…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 gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:1b,3

 

Ps. If you or someone you know is having a difficult time in their grief, the book I designed to help people work through their own grief is MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU (available in adult and children’s versions)

Heavenly Father,
Just like that, my son-in-law fell through a roof! Life can change just like that- in a split second! Eight days ago at work, a faded and aged skylight which was flush with a metal roof was hidden from view as he simply crashed through and fell 20 feet, landing on some barrels below. The fall didn’t kill him, leave him paralyzed or with brain injuries but his body is broken in so many places, it is now held together with all types of metal, plates, pins and screws—oh… and stitches, tape and bandages. Every time I look at him, I see a miracle! A bionic miracle but a miracle just the same!
Lord, I know You take what is broken and make it new. I am witnessing Your supernatural power at work again in this situation. Here are just a few signs of Your new work coming out of a broken situation:
• A supernatural healing that is surpassing and surprising even the trauma doctors!
• A supernatural determination to push hard to get through this by a very active man!
• A supernatural attitude which I have not heard complain but have certainly heard many of his famous one-liners delivered with that little smile.
• A supernatural team of newly wed husband and wife growing stronger in their marriage
• A supernatural gathering/bonding of family and friends praying in unity
• A supernatural perspective of how frail and fragile our earthly lives are and how powerful and victorious our spirits are as we trust You.
• A supernatural outpouring of selflessness all over the place
• A supernatural selflessness flowing from this broken man who has a supernatural love for every single person who comes to comfort him. He ends up comforting us!
• A supernatural perseverance to push his limits to get better—for his wife, family, friends, medical team and all of us.

Lord, we pray that You keep on taking this broken man and making him new in more and more ways! In fact, make us all new! Give us eyes to see and spirits that can’t help but give You the honor and glory!

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“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” Revelation 21:5

“But He (Jesus) was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

“Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know…Nevertheless, I will heal My people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.” Jeremiah 33:3,6b

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Lord, I surrender my life to You. Make it new!

Heavenly Father,
I cringe when I think how long I let unforgiveness have a foothold in my life. Almost twenty years is too long! It’s true that according to the world’s standards I was innocent and had every right to be angry, and those who had hurt me had no right to expect my forgiveness. Yet one day I realized a horrible poison was causing a deadly cancer to grow in me. It was unforgiveness. The symptoms caused bitter sickness whenever the offender’s name was mentioned or the sight of them. It was eating away at my peace and joy. It was interfering with my freedom to live fully in Your forgiveness, Lord.

One day I read Jesus’ warning. “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins against you, Your Father will not forgive your sins.” Ouch!! Lord, You were speaking to my very soul. It was Your deep desire to heal me from this deadly disease of unforgiveness. You knew I was innocent of the wrong in the first place, but I had let my pain and bitterness get a dangerous foothold deep in my soul. I was in critical spiritual health.

Lord, it took repeated times of forgiving. I didn’t mean it as much when I first began. Yet the more I prayed for those who had hurt me, the more I meant it. Each time I forgave them, it became a little more sincere. What a relief! What a burden lifted! How I praise You for helping me to forgive like You did me. The more I practice forgiveness, the easier it becomes. Father, forgive them as You have forgiven me. Let us all live in the freedom of forgiveness that is only possible because of Jesus Christ.

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“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13

“…Forgive and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Heavenly Father, I forgive….