My Forever Memories of You grief blog- birth from death

January 13, 2021

Dear Friends,

On this day, twenty-eight years ago, it seemed my life was ripped in two—before my husband’s passing and after. It felt like the world should stop turning. Nothing would ever be the same. How could I possibly go on living without him? Even though we had known he was going to die for almost four years; even though his battle between life and death led to many ministry opportunities; even though he had “died” before and was brought back—it was still life-shattering when he passed. No matter how prepared you are, death can still be such a devastating shock.

 

Yet there is a birth that comes from death…

Just as in the birth of a child, there is an intense labor first. There is the pain of watching a loved one die, the pain from the trauma of how they die, the pain of the intense grief of those left behind. I remember the pastor officiating at my husband’s funeral quoted John 12:24, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” It made me think of the day my husband came out of his bedroom one morning and told me he would no longer pray for healing. Surprised, I asked him why? He said the Lord had let him know that if he was willing to suffer in this way, many lives would be helped. My young husband told me that he was willing.  Twenty-eight years later, there is no way to count the number of people who have been eternally impacted through the lives he touched and through the grief ministry that was born out of his death.

 

One precious thing that is born from the devastation of the death of a loved one is discovering what a treasure life is. The majority of grievers try to tell everyone to cherish their loved ones while they have them. So much of life is taken for granted. Death helps us to realize that the sound of a voice, holding hands, the smell or warmth of someone close, being able to share your ordinary day, watching a sunset together, or listening to the rain…all these little things are no longer ignored. They are the greatest treasures on earth.

 

One time, Steve “died” in my arms. I had time to notify family before they “brought him back.” After a month on life support, when he was able to talk, he told me he had gone to heaven. After that, all fear of death was gone. He knew what he had to look forward to. Of course, I wanted to know every single detail about our next life. Steve kept saying, “I never knew God gave so much when He gave His Son!” He gave Jesus Christ to die for us, knowing that as we believe and accept Him as our payment for sin, there is new eternal life born in us. As we are willing to die to ourselves, Jesus is born to live in us.

 

My dear friends, Steve has been living that new life. Death is not the end, it is the beginning!

Love and prayers,

Eva

 

1 Corinthians 15:54-55:

“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?”

 

Most Holy Father,

 

I wonder if it was on purpose that You created our tongues next to our teeth… These days, my teeth have had to bite my tongue, or at least grind together to keep my words from spilling out too freely! I have commented and then quickly deleted before dangerous words escaped. Even when I think I will burst if I don’t speak, or in many cases- respond to the hateful ugly words which are freely flying all over the place, wounding many in the process. Oh, Lord! I do need help taming my tongue, or even my fingers as they want to spew out thoughts. I know I’m not the only one with this issue. Jesus, help me take every thought and word captive. Let me hold back my words until I’ve held them before You and prayed. I need You to be my filter, Lord!

 

Help me use my ears to truly listen to the frustrations and thoughts others have. Lord, let me have Your ears to truly listen even to those who think differently than I do. Just as I desire to be heard and understood, I know they do, too. Instead of trying to correct, argue, or fight as they voice their thoughts, let me listen to what they are really thinking. Help me hold my tongue until I see their heart. Once they see I truly care about them and have given them the gift of respectfully listening, perhaps they might do the same for me. Even if they don’t…Even if they still hate me…Even if they believe I am dreadfully evil, help me answer with Your love. Let me respond with Your grace. They will never be open to hearing what I have to say if they feel attacked.

 

Father, through the years, You have patiently listened to my demands, my whining, my anger, my complaints, my fears, my anxieties… You are the best Listener of all. When You speak, it is always with few words of truth wrapped in love (even when You have had to correct me time and again). I cannot do this on my own. I need Your Spirit living in me to dominate and control my natural clamoring. Lord, help me be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

 

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“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”   James 1:19-21

 

“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”   James 1:26

 

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”   2 Corinthians 10:5

 

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Your prayer prompt-

Father, show me when I am speaking out of my own self and let Your words prevail….

The Light of Christ brings hope even in grief

My Forever Memories of You grief blog- facing Christmas

 

Dear friends,

If this is your first Christmas without your loved one by your side, you may be feeling more than a little overwhelmed. Even if it is your second or third holiday season without them, it can still be too much to think about facing without them. There are so many emotions are involved in the holidays with past traditions, hopes and celebrations. Your world has suddenly changed. Nothing seems the same.  There will be some like me who would like to take away your pain, but we can’t. It is something you must go through. There are others who will try to tell you in so many words to “get over it” or “go on.”

 

The only expert on your grief is you. No one but you can express what you had with your loved one and what you are missing. You are the one who must work through it and the holidays often intensify those emotions. One way to prepare is to give yourself room for the onslaught of emotions which are bound to sweep over you with or without warning during this Christmas season.

 

Only you know if continuing with a certain tradition will help or overload you. So it helps to make tentative plans and lighten your load. Don’t feel like you have to accomplish all the things you did in holidays past. Make a list of what you usually do and then mark the things that are most important to you. Leave yourself room to feel the memories, to cry, to enjoy, to heal, to miss, to laugh, to have quiet time and time shared with others. I know the pandemic complicates Christmas for everyone this year, but it is even more challenging than ever for those fresh in grief.  Make allowances for yourself. Be gentle with yourself.

 

If you make plans or accept invitations, let others know, you have no idea how you will feel on that day, so you may have to bow out or leave early. All of you know by now, grief doesn’t fit neatly into our schedule. Leave some time to have an evening to look through photos, relive memories, listen to music, set by the fire, and thank God for the great gift you were given in your loved one. Don’t be afraid to feel, it actually will help you in the long run.

 

And don’t forget that God sent Jesus, His Son, as a helpless baby- born to die to take away our sin so we can live with Him for all eternity. It is the most miraculous thing to ever happen. Your loved one may have had to leave but the Lord never will. He has always been with you, is now and forever will be.

 

Love and prayers for each of you during this Christmas season,

Eva

 

 

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

 

 

PS: In the comments, name something you will not do this year…and something you plan to do to honor Christmas and your loved one…

Heavenly Father,

 

There are few things as silent as snow falling. And there is nothing like snow to cause life to come to a stop- at least here in Oklahoma where it is a rare occurrence. This year the pandemic has slowed life down in many ways… and snow slows it down even more. When I look out the window at the soft snow falling without a sound, I am reminded once again how sweet it is to sit silently in Your presence and be covered by Your pure holiness.

 

So much happens when I’m still with You. It’s not so much that You speak in a booming voice, but as I sit still in Your presence, so much takes place in that stillness. Your Spirit falls softly in my very soul to calm me in Your heavenly peace. It’s not so much that You tell me where I should go or what I should do, but You are with me. You permeate me with Your very being and restore my soul. All my fears and anxieties are covered fresh with Your peaceful Spirit as I sit in silent trust in You.

 

Lord, You are pure and holy and good! There is no darkness in You at all. All Your plans and motives are much more pure than the glistening white flakes floating down from above. When I am finally silent and still before You- when I finally stop telling You what I want- when I am ready and willing to let Your will cover me, I become as fresh and new as that pure fresh snow I see outside. Yet I need You every single day, because we all know how dirty and messy snow can get as the day goes by.  So I sit quietly in Your presence today. Fall fresh on me…

 

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“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”    Psalm 51:7

 

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”    Isaiah 1:18

 

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater…”   Isaiah 55:10

 

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Father, help me be still before You…

all things work together for good
all things work together for good

All things work together for good

My Prayer Peek/ your prayer prompt [blessings in a pandemic]

 

Most Holy Father,

 

Over and over again, I hear how horrible this year has been…and I have to admit, personally it has been challenging with the loss of dear friends and family members (two due to suicide which carries it’s own heartbreak), loss of income, not being able to accompany family members or them with me in medical crisis, not being able to gather as a family, or even to worship as I am accustomed to. Yet, oh my sweet Lord, how I see You at work with blessings overflowing in the midst of what some are calling “the worst year ever.” Having gone through my share of many trials, I have to say, once again, Lord, You make beauty from ashes, and it is definitely true that You create good out of what seems the worst when we have eyes to see…

 

                Some of the sweet blessings I see developing out of a year of world-wide pandemic include:

  • A slowing down of the fast-paced driven society that leaves little time for deepening relationships and simply enjoying one another.
  • Parents spending more time with their children with bike rides, walks, games, fishing and other non-stress activities.
  • With the real threat of death due to this virus, people are reviewing and simplifying their lives to savor the most important treasures which are relationships. Even the healthy are realizing today could be their last day. It changes the way we live.
  • More time to sit quietly and share all our heart with You, Lord, through prayer.
  • Letting go of things we have no control over and trusting You to make good come from our current situation—no matter how dire.
  • Learning to live with less since this pandemic has created a shortage of many things.
  • Holding our dear loved ones before You and realizing You love them even more than we ever could, and You want more for them than we could ever ask for or imagine.
  • Realizing You love us just because of who we are, and not for what we can do for You and Your Kingdom.
  • Believing that this dark and hopeless world needs the Light You give us through our relationship with Jesus Christ now more than ever. Our answer of hope, when we are hit with dark fear and hopelessness, does far more than we can imagine—even if we don’t see immediate results. The hope we share is eternal and stands for all time.
  • Doctors cannot save everyone, but You long to give us eternal life.
  • If and when I die from Covid-19 or any other cause- I know I will live forever with You! I am ready.

 

Thank You, Lord, for the countless rich blessings You are showering us with even in this horrible pandemic. Open our eyes to see them and thank You for them.

 

 

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“to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”    Isaiah 61:3

 

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:14-16

 

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”  1 Peter 3:15

 

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Your prayer prompt-

Father, open my eyes through Jesus Christ to see You and Your glory in the midst of ….

God's presence
God's presence

privilege of being still in His presence

My Prayer Peek/your prayer prompt [sit in Your presence]

Most Glorious Lord,

My favorite thing is to sit in Your presence and just soak up Your glory! There are times I have to work harder at leaving all the distractions, worries, to-do lists, and urgent calls upon my heart to simply sit and be still before You. The more I am still with You, the more I want to do it more. In fact, once I am sitting still before You, I can feel Your presence all around. I know You are blessing me and filling me and doing much more than I could possibly know during this precious time together. Often, I don’t even want to leave this wonderful place where we simply sit in quiet union in an eternal space where time does not matter.

 

Having been brought up as a worker and a doer, there are times I must fight against the guilty sense of what looks like doing nothing. But, oh Lord, I have discovered it is the most important thing I could ever do. There is so much that goes on being in Your presence than I could ever comprehend in this life. In Your presence, I find all I could ever need: reassurance, comfort, wisdom, complete forgiveness, understanding, direction, peace, vision, eternal hope, tender correction, renewed strength, refreshment for my weary soul…

 

There may not be many words but much happens in this quiet time I spend just savoring the mighty miraculous gift of the presence of the Most High in a very intimate way in my little insignificant heart. It seems I have all the attention of the Great I Am…yet I know You share Your presence with whoever accepts Jesus as the way. Lord, not only do I know I can sit in Your presence now and forever, but I want to walk with You, dwell with You and abide with You as I go about living out my limited time in this limited form. You can do much more when I spend more time in Your presence and less time doing things on my own. Help me to learn to sit, walk and live in Your glorious presence- even in the most mundane activities!

 

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“As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”  Luke 10:38-42

 

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”  John 15:4

 

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Your prayer prompt-

Lord, help me be still in Your presence (thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice for this eternal privilege)…

praise God
praise God

God is worthy to be praised

My Prayer Peek/your prayer prompt [power of praise]

Most Glorious Father God!

My prayers used to start out with desperate pleas to give me this or that or help me get out of another mess. There is nothing wrong with those frantic calls for help, for You most certainly answer them in some of the most unusual ways. But through the years, I have discovered the amazing power of praising You, Lord! It is not due to my eloquent or specific words. It is not about MY praising…it is because You are God and You are worthy of all our praise. When we turn our thoughts, minds and spirit to who You really are; as we seek some adequate way to praise Your greatness—something incredible happens…

 

Our pride, hurt feelings, fears, anxieties, plans, desire for control all melt away like mist in the glory of who You are! As we acknowledge Your Almighty power, Your reign over all, Your faithfulness, the fact that You govern heaven and earth and that all powers must answer to You, we are filled with the sweetness of Your joy and peace that signal our trust in who You are. ..as You call Yourself “I AM that I AM.”

 

You are far more wonderful than any words that we can express, yet we are the only ones who can express our personal praise to You- whether it be through music, dance, face down in submission and surrender. Worshipping You in spirit and truth is to recognize You know better than we do, that we belong to You forever and ever, that You loved us so much that You sent Jesus to die for our sins, that we can live with You  though we cannot see You, that You dwell in the praises of Your people, and that we can make it through whatever temporary trials this world offers as we travel in faith toward our everlasting Home with You. Then we will see You in all Your glory and our praises will be absolutely pure and a blessing to You, Lord. Help me praise You more even now- no matter what today looks like!

 

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“My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you— I whom you have delivered.”   Psalm 71:23

 

“Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!”   Psalm 147:1

 

“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’”     Revelation 5:11-13

 

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Your prayer prompt:

Most Holy Father God, I praise You for at least 10 things that describe who You are…

prayer for pruning
prayer for pruning

prayer for pruning

 

My Prayer Peek/your prayer prompt [Pruning might hurt]

Heavenly Father,

 

My husband smiles when he sees me with a pair of pruners in my hand. He knows it’s one of my favorite parts of gardening (not the picking up the debris left behind—but the vision of the beauty to come.) I enjoy bringing new life to an old overgrown specimen that someone else may even want to take out. I’ve seen it many times before. The gasp that comes when pruning occurs. The prized rose, tree or shrub is cut back to half its size. The panic on someone’s face is expected when they don’t realize the good that will come from cutting out the extra growth even though it might look healthy–even though it has been coddled, fed, watered and celebrated. In order for the plant to keep healthy and produce the fruit, blossoms or desired effect. It must undergo the cutting eye of the gardener.

 

The other day, my neighbor came to me worried about how the small tree she had watched grow looked after her new tenant “cut it back.” I sympathized with her concern but knew it was the best thing. It was what I would have done. As I got to know her new renter (my new neighbor), I discovered he grew up on an apple tree farm and knows all about pruning. There is a lot to be said about trusting the Pruner.

 

Lord, You are my Master Gardener! You have been doing some extra pruning on me lately. I don’t have Your vision for my life. I don’t know how You are using me in Your landscape. I may wince under the knife as You cut out this activity, or that attitude, or even what seems a healthy-looking ministry…but I have learned to trust You. I submit to Your excellent pruning and Your knowledge of me and what You are needing me for. I will not yell or complain or doubt Your vision.  Here I am. Prune me. I love the pruners in Your hands even better than in mine.

 

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“For, before the harvest, when the blossom is gone

    and the flower becomes a ripening grape,

he will cut off the shoots with pruning knives,

    and cut down and take away the spreading branches.”   Isaiah 18:5

 

““I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”   John 15:1-2

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Your prayer prompt-

Lord, do I trust Your pruning in my life?…

Help grievers with eternal hope
real help with grief

Eternal Help with grieving

Thoughts to Help Someone Grieving

  • Hug them and cry with them, limiting your own words
  • “I love you” and “I’m praying for you” are never wrong to say
  • Share your best memories of their loved one (in person or in writing)
  • Share a photo or video you have of their loved one (they are priceless)
  • Send cards, texts or messages on a regular basis to let them know you are thinking and praying for them (even months after the death)
  • Listen to them without analyzing or giving advice. They need to talk out their grief.
  • Follow their lead. At times they might not want to talk. They might need a break from grief for a bit.
  • Be gentle with them. They have incurred a major injury and it takes time to recover
  • Invite them for dinner or a movie but realize they might be experiencing a wave of grief at that time and may back out. Let them know it’s ok and you will ask again.
  • They might be open to practical help like fixing a car, mowing the yard, doing some laundry- things that must be done but seem incredibly overwhelming at this time.
  • Try not to interfere when they wrestle with God. Grief brings up anger, doubts, regrets, unfinished business in their relationship. Trust God to help them work through these issues.
  • Give them a copy of My Forever Memories of You interactive memory book available in adult or children/youth versions (paperback or ebook)
  • Commit to pray for them as they work through grief.
  • Resist urge to correct them or advise them
  • Listen to their brokenness and then give it to God so He can help them
  • Encourage them to participate in a grief group like My Forever Memories of You group on Facebook
  • Gently point them towards the eternal hope that God offers
  • Know that each person travels through grief differently. Be willing to stand by them for the long haul.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  Galatians 6:2

 

Galatians 6:2

realize weakness
realize weakness

When I am Weak

Heavenly Father,

 

I have discovered what a great thing it is to be weak…like when I am faced with a gigantic situation that I have absolutely no idea how to get out of…or when the job looming in front of me requires much more talent and strength than I could ever muster…or when my exhausted body cannot take even one more step…or the problem standing in my way requires more brain power than I possess. Those situations that highlight my weakness used to frighten me, but I have a whole different perspective now. It is wonderful to realize my weakness. That’s when I am finally ready to acknowledge Your strength, Lord…

 

Too many times, I have relied on my own strength—my own will power—my own ideas. They might even appear to work for a while, but sooner or later, I will be back at the place where I am smacked in the face with my weakness. It’s happened enough times now that I have come to see that realizing my weakness is a good thing. The sooner I get that and believe it, the more quickly I can rely on Your strength, Lord.

 

So here I am again today, realizing and acknowledging my complete weakness and dependence upon You. Lord, I can’t even breathe without Your help, let alone know the best way through today. I am so happy to be weak and needy. Lord, I bow before You asking Your strength (which manifests itself in amazing ways) to flow in and through me. I’m so glad it doesn’t depend on me but on You. I’m feeling incredibly weak today so I know Your strength through Jesus Christ will give me all I need.

 

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“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”       Isaiah 40:29

 

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”    Romans 8:26

 

“’But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”   2 Corinthians 12:9

 

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Your prayer prompt-

Father, I feel so weak due to…

I need Your strength…

 

evajuliuson