Dear Friends,
With the holidays approaching, extra anxiety can set in for those who are dreading going through them without their loved one. No matter how much you want time to stop, the holidays will come whether you want them to or not. Some people truly wish they could just skip over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years due to the fear of facing these special days without the one they love by their side. There are some specific plans you can make to ease your way through these special days that are filled with memories, emotion, family and the very obvious void of your loved one.

Make Realistic Plans
Even without grief, holidays can be stressful with so many things to do on your list. You may want to consider paring down your list to take some of the stress off and leave yourself extra room for grieving. Consider writing down all the ways you usually celebrate (putting lights up, sending cards, shopping, baking, wrapping…) Take a good look at the list and take some of those items off the list this year. The world will not end if you do not do everything you usually do. On the other hand, there may be some things you’ve done every year that you know are important to continue. Focus on those fewer traditions or ask for help on some of your tasks.

Acknowledge Your Loss and Celebrate Them
You do not have to act like nothing has happened. Find a creative way to honor your loved one this season. Make a special ornament; give a gift that you would have bought for your loved one and give to someone in need; set a place at the table for them; light a candle and have everyone tell something they admired about your loved one; print a card to send out to share thoughts of your loved one; give a framed photo with family members; make a pillow from old shirts to give to a family member; read something they wrote… You know your loved one and can plan a special personalized way to celebrate them during this holiday season.

Stay Flexible During this Season
You may get invited to parties and gatherings. You may want to accept them with the understanding that you have no idea how you will feel that day. Explain that you may need to cancel or leave early. Grief, as you know by now, is unpredictable. It could hit hard without warning, so leave yourself an out to leave if you need to. It may be a good idea to come up with a planned answer for those you see during the holidays who ask how you are doing. You may feel like talking about your loved one and you may not. Feel free to have an answer ready such as, “It is still very hard but I don’t feel like talking about it right now.”

Sometimes the anxiety about the holidays turns out to be much harder than actually going through them. Prepare your loose plans. Give yourself permission to take extra time to remember the special gift of your loved one. Keep a journal or have a safe trusted friend you can share your heart with. Don’t forget to celebrate the real reason we have these “holy-days” in the first place. They just might become more precious than ever before as you discover in a new way that “God is with us” through Jesus Christ.

Love and prayers,
Eva

 

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“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” Luke 2:14

Glorious Father,
There are times that suffering feels like the life is being squeezed out…when it seems more than we can handle…when pain, grief and sorrow threaten to drown us—but even then, You are right here. Lord. You are closer than anyone else could possibly be. You truly never leave us. We can count on You and Your goodness. Last night, I felt the suffering trying to overtake me once more. I knew I needed to be still in Your presence and look to You instead of the suffering. So much pain, tears, sorrow, suffering all around… I need You, Lord—and Your hope.

Less than a week ago, our precious tiny granddaughter died in her mommy’s womb. It has been so sad. I couldn’t share it with the grief group that I host until our grown children decided how they would handle it. I couldn’t ease their pain no matter how hard I wanted to. There have been so many others who are suffering lately…and yet I see how You turn that suffering into something beautiful.

Life keeps going despite our suffering. Several of us go into a neighborhood once a week to leave gospel tracts and pray with people who want it. The day after our granddaughter’s death, I asked You to use my suffering… and You did as I prayed with three different people I had never met about the preciousness of life. I believe it had eternal impact. My sweet daughter-in-law is a NICU trauma nurse. I can’t even begin to imagine how her suffering will impact her future compassion and ministry to families. I see You at work in our son and 4-year-old grandson. There are more ways You will use this suffering than any of us can comprehend right now.

Jesus was with You as You made all there is. He holds all power and authority–yet He knows all about suffering. He was willing to suffer unjust punishment, judgement, desertion, mockery, bullying, physical, mental and spiritual abuse—even unto death so we could live with You for all eternity. He knew His bitter suffering would result in the sweetest gift ever given- eternal life.

 

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Isaiah 53:3 says about Jesus “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. “

 

“And we hope in the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Romans 5:2-5

 

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:17-18

 

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Your Prayer Peek-
Father, what suffering do I have to offer to You?

Heavenly Father,
There seems to have been a flood of deaths around me lately. Some of them have been very close to me and others involve relatives or friends of those I am close to. Death is never easy- no matter the age or circumstance of the one we mourn. My forever Pastor Jerl, who just died, enjoyed teasing and called me “a grief guru” because he knew I would protest! Who wants to be associated with death and grief? I would much rather deal with life than death! Yet they go together…

Those dear ones who just left this life—the two young football players, the young man in his twenties, the little girl everyone loved, the beloved husband, and our amazing pastor friend, Jerl are more alive than they have ever been! They had to die from this life to fully experience eternal life with our Lord! Before this, they had to die to their own will and surrender to Jesus as their Lord to receive His life and all the inheritance His life offers. You sent Jesus to die for us so that we might have eternal life! Jesus’ death was the only way to give us the gift of life with You, our Father. Jesus’ death brings us TRUE LIFE which can never ever die or be taken from us.

Father, how I pray for those who are left behind; those who are grieving the death of their loved one. I know they feel surrounded by death. I realize they feel overwhelmed by death…yet I know that You are with the broken-hearted, tenderly calling them to a new deeper life with You. You will never ever leave them or forsake them. You know they must go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but You have much more life ahead for them to live—both here on earth and for all eternity.

Lord, as much as I would love to take away the taste of death from those who are hurting, I know even as I pray that You are bringing life out of death. You are the expert on birthing life from death! We wait upon You! We look to You, the Victor over death and the gracious Giver of Eternal Life!

 

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“Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves Me must follow Me…’” John 12:23-26

 

“I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:13

 

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning, or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who is seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” Revelation 21:4-5

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, help me to trust You to bring life even through death and grief…

Dear friends,
There are some new people and families on my heart today who are still reeling from the shock of a sudden death of a loved one. How I wish I could take their pain away—yet I know I cannot. Though I have had a grief ministry for over 25 years now, I am ever so aware I cannot make everything better for these dear people I love (or for those who are just joining our group that I don’t know yet.)

I can offer to be here while you go through one of the hardest things you will ever have to go through. For some of you, it is not even really real yet. You keep thinking you can call and share something with your loved one. God is so tender and close to the broken-hearted. He knows we cannot possibly bear all of our grief all at once. It comes in waves or “attacks.” Almost anything can set it off—a whiff of a scent, a line of a song, a glimpse of a shirt, that moment when you turn to share something with your loved one and you are shocked to remember they are not there…

Each of you has a one-of-a-kind special relationship with your loved one that has never occurred throughout history before because there has never been another you and them before. No one but you knows what you are missing–and you are still realizing. You are interconnected with your loved one in a way no one else was. Therefore, your grief will be very personal and unique. No one can go through it for you. No one can tell you how you feel because they don’t truly know.

There is only one who truly understands your loss and your grief…and that is our Lord God Almighty. He made you—and your loved one. He’s the one who orchestrated your lives to intertwine together. He understands you better than you understand yourself. He can help you through this painful walk through the Valley of the shadow of death.

It will take more tears, physical and emotional energy than most anything you can go through. Be gentle with yourself as you go through each day. You have been deeply wounded as part of yourself has been ripped from your very being. But you will be okay. I am praying that you will discover our Lord in a new and deeper way than ever before as He walks with you.

My deepest love and prayers,
Eva

PS. My Forever Memories of You books were written with much love so you can actually write your own book through this journey. It will be a book of your own relationship with your loved one… and a growing relationship with the Lord.

Most Glorious Heavenly Father,
Precious in Your sight is the death of one of Your saints. You see it as their ultimate Homecoming to life with You. We, who are left behind, struggle between being incredibly happy for them and incredibly sad for ourselves. Late last night my “Forever Pastor” Jerl Joslin crossed that great finish line. He, nor any of the rest of us, realized how close he was to the victory line. He was going about his race mapped out before him. He was running hard. He and his beloved wife were about to begin their annual Refresh Ministry Pastors’ Conference in less than a week. They had a revival with multiple Kiamichi churches lined up next weekend. What an eternal impact one humble loving man and his beautiful faithful wife had on so many lives! You can do great things through one or two surrendered lives, Lord!

About eight years ago, this selfless humble man underwent a traumatic attack which You ultimately used to make him more determined than ever to finish his ministry strong for You. Despite hardships, trials, heartache and misunderstandings You built him up to keep on going. You gave him the most perfect life partner to share Your work with and to sing duets with. Jerl’s kindness, sincere love, wisdom, encouragement and ministry to others went way beyond his human capabilities. It flowed out of his personal relationship with You through Jesus Christ. He loved You and others with all his heart. That’s why there are so many grieving today. His genuine love caused each person he met (and immediately knew by name!) to know they were loved. There was no doubt his sincere love flowed straight from You.

Father, thank You for such a life well-lived. Thank You for the thought of him worshipping You even more fully in Your presence! Lord, it is so hard for me to imagine his wife Dani without her beloved Jerl. May she keep singing solos knowing You are with her. You formed in them a much deeper partnership than the average marriage. I have no doubt You will sustain her and their family to finish their own races strong. Jerl is just over the finish line cheering them on! He’s cheering us all on. I will forever hear Your words through his voice and writing. May we all be willing to run our race with You and finish strong—all the way to the victory line!

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“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but to all who have longed for His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8

 

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalm 116:15

 

“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory!’” 1 Corinthians 15:54

 

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Your Prayer prompt-

Father, Help Jerl’s family – and all of us- to finish strong…

Most holy Father,
Yesterday I attended the graveside service of a young beautiful 42-year-old woman. She was the daughter of a dear friend and co-worker. As I waited for the service to begin, I was thinking how short this life is. There were four drownings this weekend (two of which were four-year-old children). Whether we live just a few minutes as my nephew’s little 1 ½ lb baby did or 93 years, as my grandmother did, this physical life is short! Especially compared to eternity which is really what life is all about. That’s exactly what the humble man spoke about at the service- the brevity of this life!

Since I have dealt with living and dying all my life- but most certainly in the past 25 years as I have encouraged those who are grieving, I may be more aware of the brevity of this life. I have had the often-painful honor of hearing the stories of the broken-hearted who are missing their loved ones. It is so hard to be walking in life next to a loved one and then to have them gone in the twinkling of an eye. It can be very painful to be the ones left behind to finish out this life without them. Yet it is also a reality check of how very real the end of this age is. If we already know and trust You, Lord, we get extra homesick for our eternal lives with You and our loved ones. Even if we do not know You yet, we realize we all will die at some point and it could be today. It is an important time to struggle with what this life is truly all about. It is about You, Lord and our relationship with You!

As painful as death is on this side, I have also had the honor of seeing glimpses of life in the next chapter that never ends—people on their death beds seeing You and Your glory calling them home in one way or another! Father, You do not leave us alone as orphans to face this world. You sent your pure and Holy Son Jesus to guarantee our place with You forever. All we have to do is confess we need Him and ask Him to be Lord of our lives. Then He sends the Holy Spirit to live in us—to comfort, guide, lead, encourage, correct, refresh, and strengthen us in this life and forevermore. We can live with the joy of Your presence in us—even in this earthly life.

Life here on this present earth may be brief, but we never have to walk through it alone. We can begin our eternal life with You now and know that we will live with You for all eternity. Thank You for loving us so much that You want us to spend forever with You!

 

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“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” Jesus promising us the Holy Spirit in John 14:18

 

“You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes…” James 4:14

 

“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.” John 3:16

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, my life is nothing without You. I have sinned against You. I need Your Son Jesus to save me, live in me and give me eternal life…

Dear friends,

No one chooses to grieve, yet it is something almost every single one of us must face to one degree or another. Not one of us will get through this earthly life without experiencing the death of at least one or sometimes many people we love. Grief happens when we desperately miss the one who has left, and we are left behind to figure out how we can possibly go on without them. The pain of separation from one we love expresses itself in multiple ways, often without warning. The emotions can be so intense that they can either sneak up on us or explode without notice in the form of soul-wrenching sobs, shocking anger, paralyzing fear, anguishing anxiety, joyous memories, overwhelming feelings of being lost, horrible loneliness and so much more—alone or in a crowd in the matter of a single day. Grief actually serves a vital purpose.

Not Forever

Grief helps transition us from a chapter in our lives we truly do not want to leave—to a new unknown chapter without the presence of the one we love and has shared so much of our lives. They are here with us one moment and gone the next. It is impossible to just go forward like nothing has happened when their life has been so intertwined with ours. We are not designed to grieve forever, but we do need to review the special gift we had with our loved one. It takes time and effort to recognize all they meant to us and how they impacted our lives. It is also a critical time to realize that life here is short and eternity is forever. It is a time to reach out to the Lord and realize that He is the only One who truly never leaves us in this life. He is the one who “gets us,” comforts us and leads us through grief and everything else. The best way to go through grief is to turn to the Lord for help. Jesus is described in Isaiah 53:3 as “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.” He will personally lead you through grief when You ask.

Right Now

We cannot get yesterday back (no matter how much we want to). We may be tempted to skip over grief by running away from it through excessive travel, keeping extra busy, using pain killing substances, not talking about or hiding all evidence our loved one lived or jumping too quickly into another relationship…None of those will keep us from grief. In fact, it often intensifies it. It is far better to face your grief and go through it. There is purpose in looking back through photos, visiting places you loved, and writing out your emotions and memories. By working through this time, with the Lord’s help, you will come out with a healthier view of the immense gift He gave You in your loved one. There will never be another person just like them. By facing your grief and working through it, you will see that you haven’t actually lost them; they are still with you. You can carry on some of the traits you appreciated most about them as you slowly step into the next chapter of your life.

Forever
Though we are not meant to live in the deep grip of grief for the rest of our lives, we will have times throughout the rest of our lives when we miss them. Yet it is also possible to look forward to eternity spent with them—with no more goodbyes. God promises us what is coming in Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” We can go forward in confidence after working through our grief. We have an unimaginable future ahead of us. Our loved one has already begun their new life with no grief. We can work through our grief with the true hope of eternal life given to us through Jesus Christ.

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Jesus promises us, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18)

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of the widows, is God in His Holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5)

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

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Love and prayers,
Eva
PS. MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU book is a great way to work through your personal grief in a healthy way.

Dear Friends,

I haven’t posted anything lately about the two books I wrote after twenty plus years of standing with others as they grieve. These books —My Forever Memories of You (one for children and one for adults- available in ebooks and paperback) were designed to actually give you a way to voice your own story, grief, memories, regrets, gratefulness, loneliness, fears, and thoughts of going forward. Here is a link to get a little preview. This is a book written by me–and you. It is actually YOUR story with memories of your loved one. Every single book will be different because of what you put into it! This is one of the most important times of your life. It is a crossroad between this earthly life and eternal life.

These are written out of much compassion, my own grief, my love for the Lord and the broken hearted, my experience as a Grief Recovery Specialist. What makes this book different is that it is a mixture of me sharing excerpts from my own personal journal as I grieved and places for you to share your own personal thoughts, practical and spiritual encouragement and the eternal hope that is found in Jesus Christ. What other hope is there?

A Gift of Eternal Hope

It is my hope that churches, friends, family members will get these books for their friends who are grieving. We can’t and shouldn’t take their grief away. It is vital to go through it. This book allows and gently guides people to work through their own personal grief. It draws them toward the only One who can truly say He will never leave them or forsake them.

Most grievers are not going to get this book for themselves. It is all they can do to make it through the day. These books will actually give them prompts to work through their own grief and find ways to express the jumbled overwhelming emotions that come with grief. It is my hope and vision that churches and believers will use this book to give grievers the ultimate hope as they go through the most devastating time in their lives- whether it is the death of a spouse, child, sibling, parent, friend–whether it is a peaceful or violent death due to old age, tragic accident, suicide or illness.

This book will never be a best seller but it could be a book that will offer real eternal hope to those walking through the valley of the shadow of death…but it will take those who care getting these books to those who need it. They are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, or through me. It is not one that lends itself to many reviews because those who it will mean the most to are not even considering giving it a review (which is so important in getting it out to more people in today’s world.) This ministry also includes My Forever Memories of You grief group on Facebook (churches, pastors, friends can add grievers and pastors to this group for extended encouragement) as well as me speaking to groups.

THANK YOU

Thank You to the churches and people who have already shared a book with those who need it. Pray for these books and the My Forever Memories of You grief group on Facebook to continue to share eternal hope!

Love and prayers, Eva

Book Award Winner

Dear friends,
Today my son-in-law speaks at his long-time friend’s funeral…and I think of his mom. Another friend posted a note that her ten-year-old son died 17 years ago. I think of the moms in the grief group I host who are forever missing their children who left this life either very young or even older. A mother’s heart is forever missing part of herself with the loss of a child. I “just happened” to run across this poem written by Steve, my first husband who wrote a lot about death and life…

A Mother’s Grief

In the womb of a woman a life began
And she felt the new life grow.
She put the child within God’s hands
And she loved her new child so.

As the breath of life touched his lips
She held him in her arms.
She thanked God for the gift He gave.
Please keep him safe from harm.

But as the child grew in his years
Sickness closed in on him.
As the mother realized her deepest fears,
Why had God done this to them?

As she knelt down to pray
She felt a gentle hand.
The light was brighter than the day
And beside her God did stand.

“I cry the tears just as you do
And I feel the pain you feel.
Though your child’s life here is almost through
My love for him is real.”

“You see I do not take him from you
For the bond you have can’t break.
As I say these words are true,
I save him from the snakes.”

“Yes, by My side he’ll walk today
And his pain will be no more.
In My arms, he’ll find his way
To the road to heaven’s door.”

“I also say he’s in your heart
And beside you he will be.
Just as he was when his life did start…
Now he walks beside of Me.”

“There will come a day when you’ll touch again
And you’ll hold him to your breast
For your child is only with a friend.
He did not die, he only rests.”

By Steven D. Hall

God’s love for us is described in Isaiah 49:15: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”

Dear Friends,
Yesterday, I stopped in a store to look for a pair of shoes (At least that’s why I thought I was there). A friend saw me before I saw her and practically attacked me with one of those long I-really-need-this hugs. I hadn’t seen her in person since her mother was killed in a car wreck two years ago. She just got through honoring her mom’s birthday—and now she was dreading Mother’s Day this weekend. I never found any shoes but I believe God sent someone she knew would understand. I didn’t have any words of wisdom just a long understanding hug…because Mother’s Day can be hard.

I personally know and love many mothers and children who are dreading Mother’s Day…a mom who never got to see her young son reach true manhood, another mom who has had to watch both her children die on separate occasions but will be honored by her delightful surviving little granddaughter who will know her as mom the rest of her life, another mom who lives with the trauma of watching her strong adult son who was married with children waste away from cancer, another mom whose son died in a freak bicycle accident 19 years ago at the age of ten, lots of moms who lost babies before they were born, moms who lost one twin at birth but delivered a healthy twin, older moms who thought they would go first but have had to bury their grown children, mothers whose children are alive but lost to drugs, mental illness or “Who knows where they are,” moms who are forgotten in a nursing home…

Mother’s Day is hard for children and husbands who are still learning to live without their beloved moms/wives (the one who held them dear, cared for them, prayed for them and kept record of memories). Mother’s Day is hard for those who made a decision to abort a pregnancy and live with regrets that only God can heal. It is hard for women who gave their child up for adoption or had them taken away. Mother’s Day is hard for children and moms who have severed relationships.

Mother’s Day is hard for women who struggle with infertility or have never had children, for those who foster or adopt children with trauma, for those who have children with special needs which demands their lives. Mother’s Day is difficult for those who are raising children without their dad.

There are a lot of reasons Mother’s Day can be hard, but there are a lot of reasons to be thankful for the blessings of being a mom or having a mom (even if she has left this earth—or never lived up to your vision of what a mom should be). There are blessings in knowing mothers or even being a mom-figure to others who need a mother’s love in their lives.

This Mother’s Day may be hard—but I encourage you to focus on the blessings of having the chance to love like a mom or be loved by a mom. Thank God for making mothers and women who love like moms. Some of the greatest blessings are found in the hardest circumstances.

Love and prayers for a blessed Mother’s Day,
Eva

God’s word in Isaiah 66:13: “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you…”