iBelieve

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

Archive for the category “Grief”

Late Night Visitor – Left Behind


I haven’t been writing during Covid. With limited interaction with other people for a year, I did not want my blog to give voice to a pandemic that took away so much for so many. But I had to write today to let you in on a little secret.

Last weekend was Mother’s Day. I have no idea why, but nothing pushed my buttons to trigger the grief of childlessness or the reality of being an orphan. Sure I miss my mom immensely, but I have thanked God numerous times over for calling her home when he did in 2019 before all the pandemic craziness happened. I am not sure how caring for her the way my family did would have been possible. So once again, “Thank you, God!!”

The secret, then, and I feel like whispering, is that I looked around my house and realized grief is gone. Without thinking about it, I cleaned and rearranged the room he was in and I saw one of his favorite sweatshirts lying across the back of a chair. I have this weird intuition about this sweatshirt though.

Have you ever been in a relationship that just wasn’t working out? One person pines after the other and it gets to be annoying. The annoying one finds every excuse to return if only to get a glimpse of the one whom they so desperately want to spend their life. One excuse is to leave behind something important to them, like this sweatshirt, for example. My intuition tells me that grief may show up to get the sweatshirt.

Maybe it isn’t really intuition, but reality that reminds me grief could be back at any time. However, for now, I am enjoying the freedom from grief while I have the chance.

I started a new hobby; quilting. It keeps my mind occupied with creativity and learning something new. I would love to show my mom some of the things I have been creating, but have a feeling she has been around in my quiet times observing my creations and the gifts God gave me. As for the childlessness and quilting, I would love to give to my own kids or grandkids quilts sewn together, every fabric pull to match their personality and every stitch with them in mind, but instead I gift family and friends with the same intentions.

Giving may just be what turned grief away. I like this revelation.

Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
Song of Songs 2:12

Late Night Visitor – Grief Meter


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Late Night Visitor – More Visitors


When I wrote my first Late Night Visitor post on April 10, 2019, I didn’t know it would become so important in my grief process and become a series of posts. If you are grieving, I hope each entry has helped you in your walk with grief as it has helped me to get it out of my head.

In that first entry, grief came to me in the middle of the night, standing next to a large suitcase and without a return ticket from where it came.

Recently grief, ignoring the shelter-in-place orders and social distancing regulations, has invited anxiety and panic into my home. They follow me around and have been known to hold my hands, whisper lies in my ear, and wake me out of a sound sleep. So annoying.

As they hold my hands, I am not able to clasp them together to make praying hands. I cannot lift them up to the heavens to give God praise and honor He rightly deserves.

The whispers in my ears I know are blatant lies, but they are said over and over and over especially when I am alone. And during this pandemic, I am alone a lot of the time; I started to believe this negative one-way conversation. As they whisper in my ear, they grip my throat in a way that it tightens and my breathing becomes shallow.

From my experience, anxiety and panic are nocturnal too. Their most active time is around 2:30 in the morning while I am sound asleep. They poke and prod at me. They continue the negative whispers in my ear and in the silence of the night, it rings louder. I lose about 1.5 hours of sleep because of their active lifestyle.

I alone do not have the strength it takes to fight these enemies. I am weak and powerless on my own when grief and its friends, anxiety, and panic, gang up on me. But even when my hands are constrained and my throat feels tight and my breathing is shallow, I can find it within me to whisper four syllables, “Jesus, help me” and I am no longer alone.

Listen to my cry, for I am in need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name.

Psalm 142:6

Jesus brings His army of angels to fight these battles for me. They rush in and unbind my hands and they force the grip away from my throat.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Exodus 14:14

I cannot see the spiritual war going on around me, but I know angels are present and God’s peace covers me like a blanket. Suddenly my hands are lifted high as my heart and mind recall what I know about my relationship with God…

I am a child of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  I have Jesus Christ living inside of me. My God has promised to meet every one of my needs and He is right here with me at this moment.  

If you are bound by grief, anxiety, and panic, know that you too can cry out to Jesus for this same protection.  You are not alone.

 


My drive to work is a leisurely 25 mph around 7 a.m. through a residential neighborhood. Some houses along the route illumine against the dark winter morning sky. Families are waking at this hour and because they do not have window coverings, I am allowed a glimpse of their morning routine.

For example, I pass a house with a little child pushed up close to the table in a high chair sitting to the left of an adult at the head of the table. The adult is feeding the child, which to most of you reading this is no big deal. One of those, “been there, done that” moment in life. But to me, who was never blessed with a child, this is a moment I can only imagine taking place in my kitchen.

In the morning before work, I eat breakfast alone.

20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Revelation 3:20 NIV

My house illumines the dark winter mornings as I eat breakfast. If there was a knock at my door so early in the day, I would be hesitant to open it.

But from this verse in a literal sense, I would have to open the door in case it was Jesus standing there. I would invite Him in and be awestruct that He was there How would I know it was Jesus, though? this day and age, I think I would be afraid of someone knocking at my door early in the morning. However, the light illumining in the dark winter sky had attracted someone to knock.

I do not have window coverings on the window in front of my sink, but my kitchen is in the back of my house. Let’s assume this is you in the morning going about your routine with your child and suddenly there is a knock at your door.

You are in your pajamas, or robe, and your hair is a mess from sleeping. You breathe in the palm of your hand to check just how bad your morning breath resonates. Are you going to open the door to see who is calling at such an early hour? You really cannot hide from the visitor because you have no window coverings.

What if Jesus was riding through your neighborhood and stopped at your house because He saw you eating breakfast through an undressed window?

Jesus knocks at your door.

Late Night Visitor – Unhappy Anniversary


I love life milestones whether they are mine or for someone else.  I love to celebrate and honor the moment, the achievement, and the occasion.  But this milestone coming up, I cannot decide if I want to celebrate that I made it through or cry because it has come upon me.  The milestone I am talking about is the first anniversary of my mother’s passing.

Grief has hit heavy the last few weeks as I recall just a year ago caring for my mom during the last week of her life. One part of me knew she was too weak to fight the infection, yet another part of me rallied in her corner.  None of us, meaning my siblings and I, really knew what to do, but I am confident our prayers granted us Holy intuition and the strength that only comes from God to get through caring for an elderly loved one.  My mom was stubborn and as independent as she could be at 89-years old.  She was older than what she weighed.  She had all her faculties up until the end, but the infection screwed with her ability to communicate clearly; we did what we thought was best for her without her input.

The image that best describes how I have felt this past year, and still today, is that of my television when the cable is out.  The words NO SIGNAL ricochet off the left side of the screen, bounces off the bottom hitting the right side of the screen, touching then on the top.  The connection point on each of the sides of the screen are different, but it keeps ricocheting.  No place to land.  No connection. NO SIGNAL.

I was named the executor of the living trust my parents set up before my dad passed away.  An honorable, yet difficult, appointing.  I contacted the lawyer, bankers, and an accountant.  I sent forms to the government, paid bills, and tallied up credits and debits to the account.  Probably the hardest part was selling the family home where I grew up.  Through all of this, I am sad that what once felt like a tight family bond has become a little cracked, but not beyond repair.  We all grieve differently and I am thankful I can cling to some siblings not only for the strength I need, but also for the memories we all cherish.

Grief continues its weight on my heart.  It interfers with my ability to concentrate and feel confident even with the simplest of tasks. It cloisters me and silences my screams for help.  Grief is ugly, grief is inconvenient, and grief is stickier than fresh gum on the bottom of a shoe. I wish I could call 911 to get this intruder out of my life and file a PPO against him.

Oh, but I love milestones whether they are mine or for someone else.  I cannot decide if I want to celebrate that I made it through or cry because the first anniversary of my mother’s death is near.  I love and miss you mom; I will celebrate your life and your influence on mine.

Psalm 120:1

A song of ascents.

I call on the Lord in my distress,
    and he answers me.

Late Night Visitor – Grief Brain


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Late Night Visitor – Earthquakes and Aftershocks


Did you feel that?

…and that?

……and that too?

I am talking about earthquakes; I lived through three.

The first one was in July 2009 when my dad passed away.  My life changed at the moment he took his last breath.  Parkinson’s Disease took away his mobility, strength, and his great smile.

…and the aftershocks.  I miss him asking me, “So what’s new?” I miss his laugh.  I miss racing him to figure out the mixed up letters of the Jumble puzzle in the newspaper; he always won.  I miss playing horseshoes and lawn jarts; he had such great aim.  I miss watching baseball with him.  I miss sitting in the back yard on lawn chairs listening to Polka music in the summer.

The second one was in December 2016 when my niece Jill died in a single car accident with a tree.  She left behind 3 young children, parents, a little brother, and a new boyfriend.  Word was that she was at the happiest point in her life and she had been going to church and loved the song Amazing Grace; my dad’s favorite song too.

…and the aftershocks.  I am sad that I do not know her children – my great niece and nephews.  I miss the twinkle in her eyes and dimples in her cheeks when she smiled.  She was quick-witted and kind.  She could light up a room during a power-outage.

The third one in March 2019 when my mom passed away.  A tough little eighty-nine year old weighing less than her age.  Her mind was sharp, but her heart was weak.

…and the aftershocks.  I miss calling her just to say “Hi!” and to check up on her.  I miss watching her sew.  I miss watching her decorate cakes, helping her bake zucchini bread and cupcakes, and making Christmas sweets.  I miss helping her plan and make Thanksgiving dinner and setting the table together.  I miss Sunday afternoons listening to Polka music on the radio; she loved Polka music.  I miss driving in the driveway of her home and seeing her fuzzy little head sitting on the back porch in the summer; she loved the warm sun shining on her through the windows.  I miss doing things for her that she could no longer do for herself.

I will not see my dad, Jill, or my mom this side of heaven.  The aftershocks, otherwise known as grief, come in waves; some light and some strong.

My world has been rocked and torn apart.  Please go away grief; I am tired of you showing up as an aftershock.

Psalm 75:3 (NIV)

When the earth and all its people quake,
    it is I who hold its pillars firm.

 

Late Night Visitor – When the Clock Chimes


My dad gave my mom money to shop for her own birthday and Christmas presents from him. I can attest to this fact as I was the one who always went shopping with her. Dad must have learned sometime early in their marriage that it was easier for her to buy what she wanted. Smart man.

Dad surprised mom on their anniversary one year. He bought her a gold clock covered in a glass dome. It offers three optional melodies at the top of the hour, but mom, being a structured sort of person, kept the same melody on the clock since she got it.

The clock was kept in the center of the buffet in the dining room just outside their bedroom. There are four balls connected to a center post under the face of the clock that spin right and left for a mesmerizing visual effect. Some years ago, the clock stopped playing the melody at the top of the hour. Somehow it slipped and chimes eight minutes after the hour.

On the early morning when mom passed away, we all looked at our watches and cell phones to note the time of her last breath; 12:36AM. Since she was under Hospice care, we called the Hospice nurse who either lived minutes away, or was visiting a family nearby, because she was in our presence rather quickly.

We watched as she placed her stethoscope in each ear and upon placing the sound piece on mom’s chest, she pronouced her death at 1:08AM just as the clock was sounding the melody mom picked out. I was in the doorway of her bedroom nearest to the clock and mumbled under my breath that she really passed away at 12:36.

I inheirited the clock. The melody mom picked out sounds eight minutes after the hour. Not knowing how old the clock is, I believe its parts are fragile as I cannot get the four balls connected to the center post under the face of the clock to spin in their mesmerizing motion.

In time, we will all lose functionality.

In God’s time, we will be reunited with Him and those we loved on earth.

Romans 13:11 (NIV)

The Day Is Near

11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

Late Night Visitor – Gone Fishin’


When I was a child, my family spent summer weekends at our cottage and fishing was a popular activity. At dusk on Friday night, dad held a shovel in one hand and my little hand in his other, and we made our way to a specific spot in the yard to dig up worms to use for bait in the morning. The worm-hunting excursion brought a song to my dad’s lips and to this day, makes me giggle.

“Nobody likes me, everybody hates me. Sitting in the garden eating worms. Big fat juicy ones, small little thin ones. Oh, how they wiggled and they’d squirm.”

Shovel in hand and me on the sideline, dad made his first plunge into the dirt. I remember he used his foot to stomp on the shovel to get deep into the the earth. With his brawn, he’d flip the dirt pile over and I would start to paw my way through looking for big, juicy nightcrawlers. Dad put some dirt in an empty coffee can and empty whipped cream plastic bowl and I would drop nightcrawlers in one at a time. The lids of the containers had holes poked for the sake of oxygen and they were placed near our fishing gear for the morning.

At dawn on Saturday, when the lake looked as smooth as glass, we packed the fishing boat with our safety cushions, nightcrawlers, and fishing poles and motored to a fishing spot dad felt would wield a good catch.

Even though I caught the worms, I was not able to put them on the hook as well as he could, so dad did it for me. I fished with a bobber on my line so I could learn what it felt like when a fish was interested in my bait. Nibbles would make the bobber wiggle in the water and a hooked fish pulled the bobber out of sight. Depending on the size of the catch, it could take some effort to reel in, but once in the boat, we’d size up the catch. Too small a fish, it gets released to the water, if large enough by state fishing regulations, it becomes dinner.

So it is with grief. The tug at my heartstrings when a memory of my parents comes out of nowhere is like the bobber wiggling in the water. Then the milestone moments knowing they will not be there for a special event or holiday makes that bobber disappear. As hard as it may be to face what is on the end of the line, I reel it in. At this point, whether a nibble of grief or a major catch, it is healthy to face it. Sit with it if I must; ride it out until it fades away.

I have a big catch on the end of my line. June 24 will be my first birthday without either parent. It is the hardest thing for me to reel in right now. My parents made birthdays fun and grief is showing me the slideshow of memories on the wall of my mind.

Thank you mom and dad for bringing me into this world and giving me such a good life that I have, yet another, reason to grieve your passing.

1 Thessalonians 3:6 (NIV)  Timothy’s Encouraging Report

But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.

 

Milestone – Haiku


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