Friday, July 26, 2013

With Wide Open Arms

Yesterday I met with a friend I hadn't seen in over twelve years. We had once been very close, not only in distances from our homes, but also from our hearts. Time sometimes pulls people apart and relationships are not forgotten, but become memories.

Through Facebook, we reconnected and recently made plans to meet for lunch. When she stepped out of her car in my driveway, we hugged and tears flowed. The love in my heart had not diminished.

Over lunch we shared pictures and wove together the strands of our lives during the years we'd missed. Just like a needle weaves threads into something whole and beautiful, we did the same with our words. We laughed over old memories and cried over new ones and created something lovely and whole. I have no doubt our meeting was orchestrated by God.

Yesterday reminded me how much God loves us. We may sometimes stray away from His love, but when we return He greets us with wide open arms. There is no amount of time or distance that will separate us from our Father's love.

Luke 15:20 "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him."

My dear friend and I are reconnected. We will not let time or distance separate us again. This was only the first of many times together in the future. God has blessed us richly!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Reaching for a New Normal

"...He leadeth me beside the still waters, he restoreth my soul..." (from Psalm 23)

These are the words of comfort that have kept me strong in these days since saying my farewell to my husband and soul mate. The Lord is with me. He calms my fears and brings hope to my soul.

I attended Church services last Sunday, just six days after burying my beloved. I needed to go. Where else would I be? And God reached out and blessed me.

During my Sunday School class, our leader, a dear friend, shared something with not just me, but with the entire group. He was choked up and fighting tears as he said, "On Monday, I prayed for forty five minutes. And God spoke to me. He said, 'Ron has received my promise.' "

Oh, what comfort that brought! Although I knew in my heart Ron was with Jesus, the joy that filled me with the confirmation is beyond words. Losing a loved one is difficult, even if you think you are prepared. It's the time after the funeral, after everyone has gone back to their normal lives and you are left alone to try and learn a new "normal."

I begin each day with a prayer of thanks and a plea for strength and guidance. One day at a time. As He leads me beside still waters and restores my soul. I don't know what my new normal will be. I only know that the Lord will provide and I stand on the promises He has made through his Word.

I found a marker in my husband's Bible at this scripture. Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I find no pleasure in them" -- before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home; and mourners go about the streets. Remember him -- before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

May the Lord bless you and keep you, may he make his light shine upon you. Amen.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Peace that Passes All Understanding

If anyone were to ask me my favorite verse of the Bible, I think I'd choose Philippians 4:4-9
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or see in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
Never have these words meant more to me than during the past few weeks. When my husband was rushed to the hospital, my life spun out of control. The long days and nights at the hospital ran one into another. Time had no meaning. My prayers were constant, both silent and aloud. I sat by his bedside while he was on a ventilator and read from the Bible, prayed with him, and told him how much I loved him. He couldn't respond, but he could hear me. Occasionally, he would open his eyes and nod. One such occasion was when I was talking to my Pastor and I said I knew where my husband was going and that one day I would go there, too. My hubby nodded his head.
There were many answered prayers during this time. Many small blessings which deepened my faith that Jesus was with us every moment, holding us close, crying with us, comforting us. During the last hours, as I sat by my husband's bedside watching him struggle to breathe, I prayed for God's mercy. I prayed hard, cried, and kept reassuring my love that he was not alone. These were the hardest hours of my life, and the most difficult thing God has ever asked me to do.
My love, my soul mate went to be with Jesus in the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. No longer is he suffering. He is walking on streets of gold and he has no more pain, no more need for oxygen tanks and hoses, breathing medications, and heart medication. He is not grieving, for he is rejoicing and singing praises to our LORD.
The grieving is for those left behind. As a Christian, my grieving is not the same as a non-believer, for I know the truth. I know that my love has not died. Only his earthly body died, but his spirit lives on and he has a new body, a new life. I miss him terribly, especially in the quiet hours of the night. God gave us 33 1/2 years together...the most wonderful years of my life.
Now I must move on and follow the path God leads me upon. He has deemed my life here is not yet over. He has things for me to do. And I continue to pray ceaselessly and am filled with the peace of God.