Heavenly Father,

 

There was a whole different standard of delivering the news when I was younger.  It might have been more boring, but reporters knew they had to have several sources to validate their facts before publicly broadcasting something as the truth. If something was reported as news, it needed to be substantiated before it could destroy someone’s life, or cause chaos and division. The more addicted our culture has become to drama and entertainment, the more “news reports” have evolved into rapid sound bites, quick clips, tainted and slanted opinions and analysis, and half truths or full-out lies designed to grab the largest audience. Apparently bad news gets a whole lot more attention than good news so our view of the world we live in can easily skewed and feel out of control and hopeless. Of course, we really do have to deal with the reality of bad news and good news…

 

The bad news is…there is a lot of real evil in this world—people will use, kill, abuse, destroy other people’s lives for their own selfish motives.  This world is full of lies, gossip, slander, malice and manipulation that will devour others.  There are wars, movements, groups, and individuals who stir up hatred and division and trouble. Innocent lives are killed, maimed, deeply wounded from disregard for anyone else. Suicide, depression and hopelessness threaten to drown out the goodness. The bad news is that we are all part of the bad news. There is not even one single solitary soul who is without sin. That means not one of is free from the penalty of sin which is death. Not even one of us will ever be holy and pure enough to live in peace with God Almighty forever. Now, that is BAD news! The worse news ever!

 

The GOOD News is that You didn’t leave Your people to self-destruct. Lord, You made a way where there was no way. You delivered the Best News ever when You sent Your own holy and pure Son Jesus to die so our sins are forgiven! Even though He was “God in the flesh,” He was also the Son of man, fully capable of sinning and yet He did not. He knew Jesus was the only One who could walk through this sinful world untarnished, able to resist temptation so He could be the perfect sacrifice for our sin. The Good news is it is finished and we are guaranteed eternal life with You where there will never be bad news at all. All we have to do is believe and accept the BEST GOOD NEWS ever. The bad news is we stand condemned by our own choice when we do not choose the Good News. Father, I will focus on the good news and report the truth to whoever will listen and accept.

 

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“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”   Luke 2:9-11

 

“You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.”   Acts 10:36

 

“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. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”   John 3:16-19

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-

Father God,  am I still living under the bad news …or am I ready to listen and believe in the Best news ever?…

Dear friends,

When we grieve the death of a loved one, it can bring up unresolved issues, wounds and pain. Part of the grieving process is to review the entire relationship and all it has mean to you. I am posting a copy of Chapter 8 which might help you deal with some of those issues that have come up. The best way through it is to work through it. Forgiveness is often a vital piece in coming to  a healing place. I’m praying for you as you consider the need for forgiveness.

Love and Prayers, my friends.

 

Chapter 8

MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU

 

I Need to Forgive

“For 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, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

 

 

 

Sharing Our Experiences:

Unresolved lingering grief is often due to a deep hurt that was never resolved. It can haunt the griever and leaves them bitter since it appears there is no way to take care of it. Forgiveness is not for the one who hurt us—but actually for our own benefit. Carrying bitterness and anger around is like a vicious cancer growing in our spirit. It consumes us, steals our joy, robs our peace and leaks out poison. Even if we are innocent and the hurt was horrific, we still need to forgive. Every real relationship requires forgiveness. Perhaps the deceased wasn’t there for you when they should have been; maybe they abused, neglected or deserted you. Whatever they did wrong was between them and God. Whether you forgive or not is now between you and God. Even if it seems there is absolutely nothing that needs to be forgiven. It might be wise to read this chapter anyway. Perhaps some of the things people say to you upon your loved one’s death needs forgiveness. Forgiveness is always needed. There are many hard things about grieving. Forgiving is one of them.

My Story- I Need to Forgive

At the time of Steve’s death, I couldn’t think of anything I needed to forgive him for. He had been expected to die any time for about 4 years. Every time we said goodnight, or I left to take the kids to school, we both realized he could die while I was gone. Steve also had several experiences where he died and was brought back. After living on the brink of death for so long, you realize that the last thing you say or do could be your last memory. It causes you to live deeply and not leave things unfinished. We both cherished each moment like it could be the last. I couldn’t imagine needing to forgive him for anything. He had fought hard and long to stay with us. He suffered intensely yet didn’t let that rob him of living to the fullest.

A few days before his death, I had a fleeting thought. The kids needed new shoes so badly yet we had absolutely no money to buy any. I thought how unfair it was that Steve’s illness had taken so much from our family. That thought shocked me. As soon as I thought it, I was upset for feeling it. It was definitely not Steve’s choice to be sick. I know he felt horrible that his illness had made it so hard on me and the kids. I later realized that even though I didn’t directly blame Steve (because he was one of the most selfless people I had ever known) that I still needed to forgive him.

Another time, after his death when I was left to face some huge financial issues and critical problems with my children, I found myself tempted to get really angry at being left alone to face life without him. Anger comes in many forms during grief and needs to be dealt with quickly before the sin of bitterness sets in. I found myself angry that others got to have a longer life with their loved one than I did; or angry at things people said while I was grieving; and angry that some of our closest friends left us in our greatest time of need when Steve had such a long hard illness. They couldn’t handle it.

Though we all have the need to forgive, I have worked with people who have had to forgive far worse than I have ever experienced. Some have had to ask God help them forgive a loved one’s suicide; or the person who murdered their loved one; or a whole missing family whose remains were found five years later (but the case is still unsolved). Some have had to forgive the person who died for mentally, physically or sexually abusing them during their lifetime. Some need to forgive a parent for abandoning them when they were young. Death does not relieve us from the need to forgive no matter how simple or horrible the deed was. It doesn’t even matter that we were completely innocent and the offender was evil. Forgiveness is not for the offender; it is for us. It frees us to fully receive God’s forgiveness and love in our own lives.

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

 

 

Your Story- I Need to Forgive

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37

(This may be a hard chapter to go through, but go through it any way. It is impossible to forgive without God’s help. Our human nature wants to hold on to the pain and blame. God knows that we will only be complete and free when we accept His forgiveness and practice forgiving others. Write what you are angry about—then be prepared to forgive. There will be more on the forgiving part.)

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“Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who insult you.” Luke 6:28

 

 

 

Helpful Input- I Need to Forgive

Forgiveness is a hard teaching, not only for when you’re grieving, but in any aspect of life. It can be amplified when you are going through all the emotions that can accompany grief. We may fully have the right to be hurt and angry. In our complete innocence, we might have been somehow violated. It is true, we have the choice to hold on to our bitterness and anger. Our hearts may cry out for vengeance. God will listen to our cries. Then He will patiently remind us that we still need to forgive.

Dear friend, you may be really angry upon reading this. You may be calling out, “I have the right to be angry!” “It’s my choice to not forgive.” “I will never ever be able to forgive.”

You might be ready to skip this chapter or close this book altogether at this moment, but you always have the need to forgive in front of you. There is no way to fully receive God’s forgiveness unless we forgive. There is no way to be free from the prison of hatred, irritation, bitterness and anger without forgiving. The lack of forgiveness holds us back from the abundant life given to us through Jesus Christ. When we hold something against someone, it is like an invisible wall that blocks the complete forgiveness God gives us. It deeply affects our relationship with the Lord.

I know what not forgiving can do to a person. When I was preschool to first grade, a family friend sexually abused me. He was a grown man who purposely perpetrated vile acts against a little innocent girl. He was fully in the wrong and I was clearly innocent. I didn’t even understand, yet I knew it was wrong. I tried to tell someone but probably didn’t know how to say it. Little did I know that un-forgiveness could cause such evilness to grow in my innocent heart. I was well into my twenties before I realized what a toll not forgiving took upon my soul. I looked fine on the outside, but there was a poison flowing in my spirit. It was un-forgiveness. It had spread to include an ugly bitterness against not only the guilty man, but those who I thought should be protecting me. It caused pure hatred and a sick feeling to well up inside me at the very thought of these people. This dark vein that ran through me had a strong hold over me. I didn’t fully realize how strong until I was able to begin to forgive. I learned when you belong to the Lord, we are called to forgive those who have hurt us.

Forgiveness is much more than simply saying, “I forgive.” (Although the first few times, that is one of the hardest things to do.) It is really impossible to forgive on our own. We need to ask God to help us forgive. He is the Author and Perfector of forgiveness. His love is so far above ours that He sacrificed His own Son Jesus Christ to take our shame and blame of sin. Jesus is truly the only innocent person there has ever been. God sent Him specifically to take our sins so we could live blameless with Him forever and ever. When Jesus was dying on the cross for all our sins, He asked our Father in Heaven to forgive us, for we didn’t realize what we were doing.

We cannot live free from the effects of the sin of un-forgiveness until we let go of it. We were made in God’s image- with the ability to forgive, as we have been forgiven. It frees us up to live more fully with God. Not forgiving (no matter how deep the crime) stands between us and the Lord. It also affects all our other relationships.

Many people find themselves angry at God when they are grieving the death of their loved one. They drive themselves crazy asking “why?” “Why did God take my loved one?” “Why didn’t I die instead?” “How could God let someone so good die?” “How can I trust a God who let something like this happen?” God did not plan for death, suffering and disaster. He designed us to walk and live peacefully with Him for all eternity. Yet He also gave us free choice. None of us has been able to live without sin. It is sin that causes death, grief, sorrow, illness, violence. God will listen to our “Why’s?” and then draw us closer to Him through Jesus Christ. He will not always answer the why? So we have to let go of the blame, questioning and anger. When we let go of our un-forgiveness toward God, we will find the One who will never ever leave us—the one who will bathe us in eternal life with Him.

You stand at a crossroad when you face the death of a loved one. We begin to realize the shortness of life, the forever-ness of eternity, and our need for a relationship with God. There may not be a real need for forgiveness for anything your departed loved one did. You may have already forgiven for anything that stood between you. If so, you are blessed—or perhaps not being completely honest. Even the very best relationships require forgiveness. There is no way any of us can live without either purposely or unintentionally hurting those around us.

Forgiveness becomes so much easier the more we ask God to help us do it. Perhaps that’s why I felt like I didn’t need to forgive Steve much when he died. I had a lot of practice before, so it became easier to forgive more quickly. Every single one of us needs to forgive and be forgiven. I’m praying for you as you face this opportunity.

“If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness therefore You are feared.” Psalm 130:3

 

 

 

Practical Ideas- I Need to Forgive

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Matthew 18:21-22

Look back on your memories of your “Remember When” chapter. Do any of those memories spark anger, resentment, hurt? Perhaps they are things you need to forgive your loved one for?

Ask God to search your heart and let you know what things you are holding on to that need to be forgiven.

Be willing to give up your right to harbor anger and obey God in His call to forgive.

Realize it often takes more than one time to forgive. New situations will cause you to recall old hurts and you will need to forgive all over again.

You shouldn’t necessarily tell the person you forgive them. That’s between you and God. Sometimes telling them will escalate the issue to a whole new level- like “Oh yeah? You want to forgive me? Well, how about when you did this to me?”

Pray for those who have caused you pain. As you forgive them, ask God to bless them with a closer life with Him. Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. Sometimes those we love the most can seem like the most hurtful enemy.

Remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood (a person). It is against the powers of spiritual darkness (Ephesians 6:12)

Anger itself is not a sin. However, if we let it turn into bitterness or un-forgiveness, it can become a sin. While grieving, you may be easily angered by what people say or do. Pray about it quickly. Pray for the one who made you angry and forgive them so you can be free from sin.

If your anger is against your loved one who has died, you can still forgive them. They do not need to personally hear you forgive them.

If you are hurt or angry by what someone says or does as you grieve, pray for them and forgive them. They probably don’t even realize they hurt you.

Those closest to you may not grieve the same way you do. It may cause tension or hard feelings between you. When tempted to be angry, chose forgiveness and prayer instead.

Write a letter to God to tell him about how angry, hurt, upset you are. He will listen to your heart and then help you forgive the one caused it. David often raved about his anger, the unfairness, his hurts to the Lord in the book of Psalms. God helped him forgive the very ones he vented about. David was “a man after God’s heart.”

Use God as your filter to run things through before you speak or react in anger. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19)

If you are mad at God, let Him know. He already knows but is waiting for you to express it. Let go of the anger against Him and you will discover He is truly what you need.

Write a letter to the person you need to forgive…then read it out loud to yourself or a trusted friend… then shred it or burn it.

If you need to, write seventy-seven letters to forgive, read out loud and shred.

If the person continually wounds you, put some distance between you. It is easier to forgive from afar.

“Get rid of your bitterness, hot tempers, anger, loud quarreling, cursing and hatred. Be kind to each other, sympathetic, forgiving each other as God has forgiven you through Christ.” Ephesians 4:31-32

 

 

 

Interactive Work page- I Need to Forgive

Forgiveness doesn’t just happen. It is a choice. Be willing to relinquish your right to be angry; and instead choose to forgive as God has forgiven us. You will be greatly blessed with the peace of Jesus Christ and a freedom from the sin of un-forgiveness.

As you review your relationship with your loved one, what comes to mind that needs forgiveness?

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Is there someone who played a part in your loved one’s death that requires forgiveness? (a doctor, a drunk driver, the person who sold them drugs…)

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List those who need forgiveness who have said something hurtful since your loved one’s death (“It’s OK. You’ll have another baby.” “God needed them more than you.” “I know how you feel.” “You can marry again.” “You should be over it by now.”…)

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What about those who try to tell you how to grieve? Or think they know what activities you should be doing? Or how long you should take to grieve? Write down those names and choose to forgive.

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Have there been family arguments and misunderstandings over possessions, money, property or the care given to your loved one? Write down what needs to be forgiven in these circumstances:

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“Make sure no one ever pays back one wrong with another wrong. Instead, always try to do what is good for each other and everyone else.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15

 

 

 

Prayer Journal- I Need To Forgive

“Try to live peacefully with everyone, and try to live holy lives, because if you don’t, you will not see the Lord. Make sure that everyone has kindness from God so that bitterness doesn’t take root and grow to cause trouble that corrupts many of you.” Hebrews 12:14-15

 

My Prayer Journal- I Need To Forgive

(Once again, these are excerpts from my prayer journal—pieced together over several occasions.)

Heavenly Father,

Help me with this anger! Someone started a fund which a lot of wonderful people gave money to. I know they all wanted to help a young widow with four children. It was a pretty good amount of money, but it made me so mad! I was shocked how mad I was. Where were those people when Steve needed them so badly? I don’t want the money! I want Steve back! Even as I pray about this, I realize, these people were there the best they could be during Steve’s illness. They couldn’t have paid his medical bills. They couldn’t save him. They couldn’t bring him relief or peace. Only You could do those things. Father, I realize they want to help the kids and I. I forgive those who didn’t know how to be there for us. I truly am grateful for the generosity and compassion of all those who gave. Help me grieve with grace, knowing You are with me. Give me wisdom to know how best to use the money they are giving us.

Lord, the momma bear in me came out growling today. My mom meant well. She was going to help with the kids, and started making choices for them that were not her choices to make. She probably assumed I was too upset or weak to care for my children. From my usually soft voice came a strong and powerful explosion. I let her know these were my children and it was my family and she will not take it over. Father, I know my mom likes to take the lead, but I needed to set that boundary loud and clear right away. Steve may be gone now, but I will do whatever it takes to keep my family together and care for my children. Father, I need to forgive my mom for wanting to take over, yet I’m so glad You gave me the strength to make it clear that I will care for my children. I am trusting You to help me. Lord, as time goes on, show me how I can let my mom help—without taking over. She is part of our family, too—just not the head! With Steve gone, I know You are the head of our family.

Father, today I need You again. My daughter is having such a hard time with her dad’s death. I thought she would—since she struggled with his illness so much. She’s making poor choices and causing great pain. I know she doesn’t mean to. She is fifteen and losing her dad at such a critical age has shaken everything in her. Father, it’s easier to forgive her for the pain she causes because I understand where it’s coming from. I know her heart. I know she won’t always act this way. The real challenge for me is to forgive the people who give me every kind of advice you can image about my daughter. I’ve had some infer that she is a bad girl and that I am not a good mom. I absolutely know that both of those are not true. Father, help me forgive those who give well-meaning advice. They are not living our lives. Help me be patient with them as they try to tell me how I should raise my daughter. Help me choose wisely who I speak to about what’s going on. Put someone in my life who loves her, believes in her and knows that the way she is acting is not who she really is. That’s You, isn’t it, Lord. You love her even more than me.

“Whoever forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever keeps bringing up the issue separates the closest of friends.” Proverbs 17:9

 

 

 

Your Prayer Journal- I Need To Forgive

“We love because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” 1 John 4:19-21

(Ask God to help you forgive your loved one for anything that was left unsettled; to forgive those who hurt you now, and to let go of any anger you hold against the Lord.)

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“And what I have forgiven- if there is anything to forgive- I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:10b-11

Most High God Almighty,

Today is an election day in America. I recently went through some training to be a precinct official at a local voting place. I was newly amazed at the great value placed on each and every single vote. Every single vote is treated with the upmost care and privacy. There are so many safeguards in place to ensure every single vote is counted and verified. For a long time, I have not taken this right to vote for granted. It brings me to tears to think of how many lives have been sacrificed throughout America’s history to make sure my vote counts. I’m certain my views did not perfectly match up with all those who were killed defending my right to vote. It was given to me at a high cost. Through the years, I have learned to not place my vote according to mailers received, signs seen, ads paid for, or how someone speaks or looks. This is too important. So, I research, ask people who might know the candidate or issue, study and pray over all I can find. Lord, I ask You to guide me for I know it is ultimately You who places certain people in authority at specific times. I pray for my vote to line up with Your choice.

More than once, I have voted for a candidate who seemed clearly to line up with Your Spirit and character. More than once, someone else was elected than the person I voted for. And yet, I always trust Your ultimate authority. You have designed us to be Your people, for You to be our King…and yet we want our own way. We want to choose our own earthly leaders… so You allow us to do that. Then we must live with the human authorities that we choose. Yet, You never leave us alone. You still work within our choices, always trying to lead us back to You. You even use our poor choices to draw us to You.  You, alone have our best interests in mind at all times. You, alone, have no selfish agenda. You, alone know what’s best for us-even when we don’t believe that, trust You or submit to You. You rule with Your almighty power, yet loosely to allow us to make our own choices, to cast our own vote, to live with those choices…and yet You still are always at work in those circumstances hoping we will choose You as our King. You created us with free will though You know we will never be complete without You.

When You knew there was no other way for us to belong to Your Kingdom, You sent Jesus, Your very own Son, as a willing sacrifice, to open up Your Kingdom to all who accept Him, the only One worthy enough to give Himself so we could all choose eternal life with You. The price was great, but Your LOVE was greater. You are my choice. I vote for You above all others. Out of all my votes, this is the most important decision! It is so simple, too good to be true- that You would be willing to give so much to have us in Your holy Kingdom that offers so much more than this earthly life could ever offer. I’ve done my research. I have read Your platform and what You stand for. I trust You, Lord, with my life, my loved one’s lives, this country, this world, and for an eternal future filled with You. I vote for You as my King. I am honored to serve You, worship You and live for You!

 

 

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“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.”        1 Timothy 6:11-16

 

“Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us[a] from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!’”           Revelation 6:15-16

 

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”      2 Peter 1:10-11

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-

Lord, have I fully chosen You as my King?….

Dear friends,

Some of you are new to grief (and this blog or group). Some of you have learned to gracefully carry your grief over a longer period of time. Some of you are grieving the death/passing of a longed-for baby or an adult child. Some are grieving the deep loss of your soulmate, sibling, friend, parent. Some saw their loved one peacefully slip into the next life. Some are still traumatized by a murder, suicide, tragic accident. Some were able to say “goodbye” while others did not get that chance. Some have no regrets as they know their loved one absolutely knew ow much they were loved. Others have to face unresolved disagreements, last harsh words, wounded or dysfunctional relationships. Our hearts are broken and it seems our world has ended. There’s no way around it, grief is hard! So how in the world can we grieve with hope?

 

There is no way around grief—we all have to experience it, each in our own way. The HOPE can only come through our ultimate relationship with God made possible by Jesus Christ. He is the ONLY one who will never leave us. Death can never separate us from His love and care. He created us to love Him and others. He created us to have an eternal love relationship with Him and others who love Him. Sin separates us each from Him, yet He has an eternal plan to share all eternity in love with Him. All we have to do is accept the fact we need Him and cannot be reunited without accepting Jesus—the way God provided to bring us back to Him for all eternity. Even when we share that life united to Him through Jesus, we still grieve the deep loss of our loved ones.

 

As Jesus walked this earth as both Son of Man and Son of God, He knew the eternal plan. He knew when his friend Lazarus had been dead three days that He was going to bring Lazarus back to life. Yet when Jesus saw his friends’ deep grief, “Jesus wept.” Jesus knows the pain of grief. He cries with us. There are no tears or sighs or anguish He doesn’t see in each of us…and yet He also knows that no matter how deep our anguish is, it is only momentary when compared to the joy set before us—the joy our loved ones are already experiencing at this moment and for all eternity.

 

So go ahead and grieve for the loss of your dear loved ones’ presence. Thank God for the rich gift He gave you through sharing however much time you had with them. No, it was not enough. But grieve with hope- knowing You have all eternity with them ahead with no more death or separation, misunderstandings or deep wounds.  Grieve with hope- knowing the Lord is with You and will never ever leave you. Grieve with hope- knowing that this life is painful but our eternal home with the Lord will be pure love, joy and peace.

 

Grieve with hope, dear friends!

Eva

 

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind who have no hope.”  1 Thessalonians 4:13

Dear friends,

I’m writing more as a griever today than a “grief guru.” That’s the humorous nickname my forever pastor/friend gave me. I’m still missing Jerl’s place in my life—he’s only been gone 9 months. I didn’t think I would ever publicly use that title, because I try to just be a friend who encourages grievers, but it seemed fitting today because I am fully aware there can never be an expert on grief except for God who helps all who will let Him. I lost two brothers within hours of one another four days ago- one from a week-old diagnosis of cancer—and the other by suicide. These two men have been my brothers for 50 years. They were the last two brothers of a gang of four boys, from my late husband’s family who have all gone on to their glorious home and left me behind. I have officially moved into the matriarch position.

Here are a few things “the grief guru” is rediscovering about grief:

*Death can come softly and tenderly (I was singing to one brother when he peacefully passed) or violently (by suicide). Most of my family missed the peaceful blessing because they had to leave to deal with the other death just before. The brothers are still gone either way. I have no doubt God was with them both…and they are more alive than ever with Him because of Jesus Christ.

*The effects of suicide last for generations. The first brother to die was from suicide. Praying for it to STOP with this generation!

*Photos provide snapshots of memories with incredible life stories that need to be told.

*Pictures provide proof there were happy times—even if someone couldn’t see that in the end.

*Death lasts an instant but lives are eternal. They slip from their flesh into a glorious spiritual world that we can only imagine.

*Grief brings out powerful and shocking emotions- of fun memories, hurt feelings, deep wounds, past grief, unresolved issues, the deep need to express forgiveness and regrets…

*It is the most important time to listen, and be there for one another, as every single person is grieving in their own way and needs to find ways to express it safely without correction.

* The storm is ripe for further misunderstandings, hurts and miscommunication because every single person is so very wounded and vulnerable. The need to listen to the hurt underneath the words is vital.

*We cannot grieve in a healthy manner without the hope, help, love, strength of God, who understands us each better than anyone else possibly could. HE knows all the hidden scars that go into each of our reactions. He understands when others cannot.

*God is also faithful to use these times of grief to heal each of us in amazing ways as we keep asking Him to. I have been praying non-stop over all my family…and I have witnessed God at work in incredible ways through heart-breaking circumstances.

* I can’t help but cry when I thank God for the gift of family- that includes adult children, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great nieces and nephews, my 88-year-old mom, church family, neighbors and friends. Hugs, tears, messages, and most of all prayers- help more than we can ever know!

*Each of my relationships are eternal. I have an ever-growing heavenly cheering section urging me on. Suddenly, I feel like singing that last song I sang to my brother again, “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King!”

*I love you, Larry and Wayne. See you soon!

This so-called “grief guru” is still learning that true healing can only come through reaching out to the Eternal Counselor who knows us better than we know ourselves and loves us anyway.

Love and prayers,

Eva

Most Holy Father God,

I do not trust my eyes. They tend to wander in their gaze. Something catches my attention and can lead me off course. My sense of balance depends on where I fix my gaze. I am one of those who, if I’m not careful, when I’m driving (or even walking), if I start looking at the scenery—my feet tend to follow the direction my eyesight is wandering to. I can easily trip or drive off into a ditch. If I watch worldly news, I can get caught up in the hopelessness of how things appear. If my eyes soak up too much social media, I began to see and believe what the enemy wants me to. Oh! But, Lord, when I look to You….

When I look to You, the dark clouds roll away! The problems of this life which completely obstruct my vision begin to vaporize as I gaze at Your glory! The funny thing is that I can’t truly see You with my weak human eyes; I have to look through faith at what my fleshly eyes can’t see. Yet I see so much more clearly when I do! Everything becomes much more clear and real—even more real than what I think I see in this world. But it is up to me to look towards You. Some days, I have to physically fight myself to turn my face back to You. I recall once, when I actually felt Your hand lift my gaze from despair toward You. But You want me to train myself to do it on a regular basis.

Today, I am purposely turning my eyes back to You! You are the Great I Am! You are true when lies abound. You are Beauty, Glory and Majesty. You reign above all else. You are the Beginning and the End because You are Eternal. You are the Light in utter darkness. You are Life and Love. You make life purposeful, full of goodness. You restore my soul. You are patient and tender-hearted towards my weakness. Everything changes when I look at You. I see You, this world and even all those around me through the loving eyes of Jesus Christ. One day, I will no longer need these weak unfaithful eyes to see You for all eternity…but for now, I will keep practicing turning my sight towards You. I love You, Lord!

 

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“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”   Proverbs 4:25

 

“Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.”    Psalm105:3-4

 

“Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”    Jeremiah 29:12-13

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-

Father, forgive my wondering eyes. Help me turn to seek You…

Heavenly Father,

You created every single person that lives. You love variety, colors and differences. It is all part of Your glorious design. And yet You knew that our sinful nature causes us to distrust, dislike and sometimes view those who look or do things differently than us as an enemy. The world will always find some kind of difference to cause conflict between others. It could be the shape of our noses, the language we speak, the foods we eat, what political party we affiliate with, our body shape, what type clothes we wear, the tone of our skin, how educated we are…in fact, there are so many differences, the list is endless. And, if we let any one of those differences cause us to hate, we are part of the problem.

Lord, it looks like there will always be prejudice and racism in this world in one form or another. Having grown up in the 1960’s where rioting and bigotry ran ramped, even as a little girl, I knew racism was wrong. When I went to high school during forced busing meant to achieve integration in schools in the 1970’s, I thought we, as a mixed-race idealistic young student council, could bring everyone together. I found out in very harsh terms at the very first social gathering we worked so hard to plan, that was not going to happen so easily. It takes living together, facing life together, and most of all, living for You, Lord. It takes praying together, worshipping together, crying and laughing together, and accepting one another as we are. It means being willing to get to know one another.

There will always be prejudice and racism in this life, but there are ways to fight it. Instead of being afraid of the differences, Lord, let us love each person with your love. I may not be able to do that with my old sinful nature, but I can with Jesus living in me. He willingly died for every single person even when we were each at odds with You, Father. His love unites us with all our differences and makes us one through Jesus Christ. Whenever I might be tempted to hate, dislike or misunderstand someone who is different than me (which is every single person), remind me that You sent Jesus to die for them—just like you did for me. They are worth loving and treating with respect- even if they don’t look or act like me- even if they look at me with hatred or racism. Father, Your love overcomes prejudice and racism one person at a time. Let Your love work in and through me to make Your Kingdom come here on earth as it is in heaven.

 

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“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”    Galatians 3:28

 

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

 

“Salvation belongs to our God,

who sits on the throne,

and to the Lamb.”    Revelation 7:9-10

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-

Father, show me how to love others with Your all-inclusive love…

 

Although the last Monday in May has long been designated in the USA to decorate graves of veterans who lost their lives in battle, it can evoke a lot of emotion as many go to cemeteries to honor their military and non-military loved ones with flowers, flags and other special tokens this weekend. My thoughts and prayers are with you—no matter how you choose to celebrate Memorial Day this year.

It can certainly change how you view this holiday, depending on what’s going on in your life. As a young girl, I recall making hundreds of Memorial Day Baskets for our family greenhouse business for people to set out on their loved ones’ graves. I can also remember exciting Memorial Day parades. Now, I can see why not everyone feels like a parade, a cookout, or day with family and friends at the lake. It may still be too painful for some to visit a grave, while others need to go almost every week for a while.

I visited my first husband’s grave today to place some new flowers on it. As I stood looking at his headstone, I wondered what he’s been doing for 27 years in glory. So many years have gone by- though compared to eternity perhaps just a minute. I have since remarried and share life with another very good man—and have been for more years than I was married to Steve. (Before he died, he told me I would marry a good man, and he was right.) We have grand children and even a couple of great grandkids that Steve never got to meet. Two of his kids are now older than he was when he died. Every Memorial Day since he has left, has been a different experience…and that’s OK.

My grandparents and great grandparents, along with others, are buried at this same cemetery. There is also a memorial to veterans nearby. Each headstone represents someone’s daughter, son, husband, wife, baby, friend…Some graves are highly decorated and some may not have anyone alive who remembers them. Every single one is a reminder of how short this life is and how permanent eternity is.

I’m fully aware that every single person reading this, is experiencing something unique this Memorial Day. No matter what you are going through, it will not always be the same as this year. Even though a whole life ahead may seem incredibly long without your loved one, it is shorter than you think. Perhaps the most important way to deal with Memorial Day, is to make sure you are ready for eternity with the Lord. You never know what will happen before next year.

 

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“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

“For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 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. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’” 1 Corinthians 15:53-55

 

 

Most Gracious Heavenly Father,
This world is so noisy and full of chaos. Non-stop news consistently tries to rattle our nerves. Continuous conversations on social media and cell phones clamor for our attention and response. Deadlines, arguments over issues, conflicting reports, background noise, and earphones always filling our thoughts with subliminal messages. In fact, it seems most people are so used to noise, they feel uncomfortable with silence, but it can be soothing to the soul.

Even prayer can be so crammed with requests and words that we leave prayer before being still and ready to hear You, Lord. Forgive us for always be too distracted to sit and enjoy Your presence, for being so busy talking or writing our prayers that we never stop to listen to You. It is good to sing songs and praise You with loud cymbals and music, but we also need to just be quiet and still sometimes.

It is so sweet to simply sit outside in the quiet of the day and bask in Your glory, to soak up Your goodness, to savor Your company, and just know that You are God. I can spill out many words and when I slow down to take a breath, You can say so much in the silence.

Your peace pours over me and Your tender presence reassures me. You restore my soul as I simply revel in who You are. All the fears, worries and trials of this noisy life melt away in the stillness of Your quiet presence. All that vital information everyone else is screaming at me dissolves in the wisdom found in Your quiet presence. How I love You, Lord. You are the Maker and Sustainer of all. You know all things and have all we need. Help us be still and quiet so we can hear You above all the noise of this chaotic world.

 

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“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior,” 1 Timothy 2:1-3

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23:1-3

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’” Psalm 46:10

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Lord Jesus, help me be still…

Most Glorious Heavenly Father God,
I’ve been sheltered-in-place for about eleven weeks. I’m usually going places, working hard, and interacting personally with a lot of people. During this pandemic sheltering, my life has slowed to what would appear to some as a standstill, but my roots in Christ are growing deeper once again. I was called away from the world for a long period once before. It was a different kind of isolation at that time in my life, but I recall the deep growth that took place during that particular period, as well. It was definitely a more stressful time with a terminally ill husband, four kids to raise and the licensed in-home childcare. Though there were plenty of people around me in that other isolation, I looked to You to help me in that desperate time. And You were so faithful to help me.

Now, here I am again- closed away from the world, with much more time to not be rushed in the quietness of Your shelter. How I love being still and quiet with You- praying in much more depth and with a greater peace, knowing You are at work in the sheltering-especially in those who turn to You during this time. For one who grew up with hard work woven deep into my DNA, it is still taking a lifetime to understand that the greatest, most powerful work is done in this quiet time in Your presence. This is when I learn that You love me for who I am- not for what I do. You can use me for Your eternal purposes when I get my own plans, schemes, ambitions out of the way. This is where I learn to hear Your still small voice which instructs me what You want me to do. When it is Your will, there is a sweet peace and rest –even in the “work.” Perhaps, it’s because I know it is Your work and does not depend on me- other than to obey and trust You will give me all I need to do it.

Yes, I do love sheltering under You, learning to trust You more, follow Your lead, love You more deeply, and simply enjoy who You are and the miraculous gift You give us through Jesus Christ that allows us to live with You even here on earth. Who am I—with all my quirks, faults, mistakes, sins, and rebellious attitude that wants to sneak back in—that You would make a way for me to come freely into the Holy Shelter of Your Presence? Who am I—that You would sacrifice Your own Son Jesus Christ—to give me that honor and privilege? Who am I—that I would not take the greatest opportunity ever given—to find every way I can to shelter in Your Holy presence?

 

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“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” Psalm 91:1

 

“For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” Psalm 61:3-4

 

““Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Jesus in Matthew 23:37

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, help me be willing to shelter in You through Jesus…