Monday, January 12, 2015

Secrets of the Kingdom of God

Have you ever heard someone say, "Repent, the Kingdom of God is near!"? 

What feelings or thoughts come to mind when you hear that? 






Honestly,  I have always had mixed emotions about that verse...until recently. God gave me a new perspective on this. 

John 1: 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

One of the ways I've seen this verse was futuristic...Jesus is coming back soon, better get my life in order...oh my goodness! And, Luke 20:30 does lend itself to that thought pattern.   

But, in John 1:14-15 we see a different concept. What Jesus meant when he said this was literally...the kingdom has come near...it is standing right in front of you!



How much closer can it get? 

Jesus was standing there, offering people heaven on earth. 

In the Old Testament, there was a system for getting near to God. People made long treks to the temple. They cleansed themselves before coming close to God. And even then, they needed a priest or a profit to tell them the things of God.  

Fast forward to the New Testament. God, through his Holy Spirit, would now live on the inside of his people. Awesome news! 

The Kingdom of God is near! 

I'm so glad He lives on the inside of me, being my comforter, being my peace, my joy!  While I love to go to church, I'm glad He doesn't only reside in church...but in my heart...where I can access him anytime....whether I'm clean or dirty, full of sin or repented. He is there!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Don't Worry Be Happy in 2015

Did you know that one of the main contributors to heart disease is lack of ability to sleep well? And, did you know that worry keeps us up at night? It also produces cancer, ulcers, high blood pressure.

Understandably, I can see where this would be true, but I had not  given it much thought. Then, I happened to catch a sermon on TV by John Hagee over worry. He preached out of Matthew 6:30. 



Jesus is the prince of peace. He tells us not to worry. 

He has already solved the problems before us. Angels go before us. Worry is sin.

Worry is not believing God can take care of you.

Fear not the past, present or the future. Be bold and be strong. The God of Isreal is with you.
Hebrews 13:6

You are a child of God. Do not fear your enemies. “I will make your enemies to be at peace with you.” 

There was a time when my faith seemed much stronger. These scriptures were my lifeline. I quoted them to myself daily and in all different kinds of situations. 

Now, when I hear them, a light bulb goes off. 

I feel something rising up inside of me…a boldness in the Lord. 

I remember. 

I remember these are the things God has spoken in his word.

I remember a time when God came through for me and my family or my situation. Oh yes, now it is coming back!!  I am remembering the things God has done.

Let not your heart be troubled. 

There is so much power in those six little words. There are many real situations that trouble our heart. Death of a loved one. Severe health issues.  Finances. These are hard situations, but the Lord still says to you and me, “Let not your heart be troubled.” 



Sometimes our heart is broken. But, knowing we have hope in the Lord...knowing we will see a loved one again...knowing our aches will be healed...knowing we will not taste death because God has a different plan for his people. That is what helps us to apply this statement, “Let not your heart be troubled.”



God has a plan for my life. 

I know this, but unless I hear it or read it often, I forget. (I like to think I have total control over that!) 

And, when I forget God is in control, I begin to worry. 

When I forget God can handle my crazy life,  I worry. 

When I forget my kids are really his kids given to me on loan, I worry. 

I hold the weight of the world on my shoulders sometimes.  I want to make everything right. I don’t want people to hurt. I don’t want people to be wronged. I can’t stand injustice. I see short term actions that have long-term affects. And, I carry these concerns as if they were mine to own. 

But only God gets to move the chess pieces. He has a bigger plan.  

My job is to do the things he has given me wisdom to do and simply to pray. The rest is up to him.  I have to give him that control. He is the prince of peace. He is the one who gives us rest. 


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Tex-Mex Black Eyed Pea Casserole

I am not superstitious at all; however, I heart black eyed peas in a big way.  And, I love the fact they have their own holiday...New Years! Whoop whoop!


I made this last year and loved it. Soooo, I am making it again! My once-a-year recipe. Yum yum.  

The original recipe can be found here from the Recipe Girl. I changed it up a little to suit my taste buds. The main thing I did different was switch out the spinach for cilantro. So, if you are a spinach lover, check out the original recipe. 

First, get the bacon going. The recipe only calls for 5 slices but I used most of the package. You can use as much as your kids don't eat while you are cooking it. Save the bacon grease for sauteing the onions and garlic.


While the bacon is sizzling, chop your onion and garlic and get it ready to saute. If you choose to cook your bacon in the oven, you can certainly saute your onions in oil or butter. (We will talk about my butter addiction at another time.)


While the bacon is cooling and the onions are cooking, gather up your rice, broth and spices. This recipe calls for cumin, salt and pepper. If you like stuff hot (I do not), you could easily add some cayenne pepper or chili powder. Even though this recipe includes Rotel, it is not spicy. 


After the onions and garlic are done (clear in color and soft), use a handy strainer like this and drain the last of the bacon grease. 



Put your broth, spices, rice and onion mixture into a pot and bring to a boil. Then, turn your burner down and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is gone. Leave a little liquid to include while baking. 

Now, let me detour for just a minute. Look what I bought myself for Christmas.


Aren't they cute? They have chickens on the top. I thought they were addddddorable. I loved them so much I even gave some away for Christmas presents. You can find them here at Amazon. They come in all different themes. I originally saw them over at Fresh Eggs Daily.

Now, back to the recipe at hand!


While the rice is cooking, get out your favorite bowl. (Cooking with your favorite items makes cooking more fun. My mom gave me this bowl for Christmas.)  Start piling in the remainder of the ingredients: black eyed peas, rotel, cilantro, and one cup of the cheese.  Chop up the bacon into bite size pieces and include those as well.


Isn't it pretty? Mix it around with your favorite spoon. I like wooden spoons. They make me happy. 

Next, dig through your fridge and find your  9x13 dish still half full of left-overs. Dump the left overs into the dog bowl. They will love you forever, I promise. Now, wash that pan and hurry up, we got cooking to do!   


Dump everything into the clean 9x13 pan. Put it in the over for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. (Set the timer! Don't trust your multitasking brain to remember!) Once the timer goes off, add the last cup of cheese and bake for 10 more minutes. 


Look how lovely. All those wonderful mexican flavors nestled in close with the black eyed peas. They look cozy yeah? 


If you also love avocados like I do, you will want to top this off with one and some sour cream. These two items are not required, but I want to recommend you not eat it without them. ;) I'm just sayin...  I also ate mine with chips. It was a whole meal.

I hope you enjoy this recipe I found over at the Recipe Girl. She has lots of yummy stuff on her page.  Happy eating.


Ingredients 

2 cans of black eyed peas (or you can make your own as in the original recipe)
1 can (10oz) of rotel (tomatoes and green chilies)
5 slices of bacon (or more if you like)
1 cup chopped onion 
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cup of rice (any kind) 
2 cups cheese - divided 
1/2 a bundle of cilantro (the original called for spinach)
Sour Cream and Avocado for topping

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350. 
2. Cook bacon until crisp. Cool and chop. 
3. Chop onions and mince garlic. Saute in bacon grease until clear. 
4. Combine broth, rice, onion/garlic mixture and cumin, salt, pepper in a pot. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is done. 
5. In a separate bowl, combine peas, rotel, bacon, chopped cilantro and one cup of cheese. Stir it together. 
6. Combined cooked rice mixture with pea mixture and stir. 
7. Pour mixture into 9x13 dish and back for 20 minutes uncovered. Then, put the remaining one cup of cheese on top and bake for an additional 10 minutes. 
8. Remove from oven. Serve hot with avocado and sour cream. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Inspirational Quotes

I love inspirational quotes. I am cheesy! I print them, laminate them, send them to my friends, hang them in my office. Yep, I'm that girl! 


And, I got the new iPhone 6 plus for Christmas and I downloaded an awesome new app. Now I can make my own inspirational quotes!!
I hope you enjoy these. I hope maybe you will even print and laminate a few for yourself. (Add a magnet ...stick on the fridge..) The possibilities are endless! 
Enjoy!













Friday, August 1, 2014

Controversy is Not New

I was reminded recently that each believer has their own interpretation of God. We may agree on the foundation of biblical principals, but  God has revealed himself to each of us individually. While there may be many similarities, our faith looks and feels different to each of us. 

God does this because he is relatable.  He is not trying to hide from us. He is trying daily to reveal himself to us. Therefore, we all have our own ideas of who He is and how he works. This is not a bad thing. It is a good thing because it allows each of us to know him intimately.

However, these different interpretations of God can cause people to get cross with each other. 

Found at http://mightymag.org

One of the most controversial times in the bible is in the book of Acts. It continues today to be a point of contention amongst believers. Just how real is the Holy Spirit?  Does everyone speak in tongues? Do we need an interpreter? The list goes on. I don't want to debate the book of Acts, but I want you to see that the disciples were certainly at a different spot spiritually than others. 

I found this cute art over at http://compellingparade.com. 

God revealed himself to the disciples after he died. He spent 40 days with them. It makes sense they would be a little different after that experience. I'm thankful this happened or the gospel would not have gone beyond Jesus' death. But, at the time, it was not well received by some. 

"He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God." (Acts 1:3) Then, he ascended back to heaven. Then they waited for the Holy Spirt just like he told them to do. (Along with them were the women and Mary the mother of Jesus (Acts 1:14). 

And, after the Holy Spirit came down on them, they were filled with power. (YAY!!!) 

These guys began operating in the power of the Holy Spirit like no one had ever seen at that time. And, it was not well received by some of the Jewish people. They were skeptical to say the least. But, God had a bigger plan. He wanted them to take this power and go into the world and spread the gospel. It didn't matter what the Jewish people thought of them. They were on a mission from God. They had a job to do. 

"Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. ...It is Jesus' name and the father that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see."(Acts 3: 12, 13, 16)

The book of Acts continues to be well debated amongst different denominations. Even inside the "spirit filled" church, there are many who don't like people to operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Prayer is good, but don't lay hands on anyone...and sure don't speak in tongues. Praise and worship is great but don't lift your hands or clap. Right? 

My point is we are all at a different place in our walk with God. Some are not walking at all. They have never really entered into a relationship with God. Some are showing up on Sunday mornings and getting fed completely by the Pastor of the church and never open their bible. Some are in such deep relationship with God they can't find a church on their level. Some are in the middle. 

http://capturedbychristblog.wordpress.com/

The good news is that God loves each person...right where they are. The challenge is for us, the people, not to get crossways with other believers. We should all be understanding that God only takes a person as far as they are willing to go. And, that is not always a bad thing. It can be extremely frustrating from time to time. It can cause some people to leave the church, but God will continue to be God. It is our job to do what God is telling us to do. It is not our job to force others to do it too. 

If the enemy can keep us frustrated with one another, he can keep God's will from being done - or so he thinks. Our focus needs to be on God and his purpose for our life. If we keep HIM as our focus, the rest will fall into place. 

Your battle may end in you shaking the dust off your feet and moving on to the next place. The disciples were never going to convince the Jewish people to change.  

They (the Jews) stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:49-52)

The trouble makers thought they had won because they ran off the holy rollers. But, what really happened is God moved them on to the next place. And, they were not bitter about it. They were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. 

I realize this is much easier said than done, especially when you are in conflict with another believer. But God is God and his love for us abounds any frustration or political point we may want to make. And, we all need to remember not to get to comfortable where we are. God may want to move us and use us in a new location. 

So, the next time you get frustrated, just remember that nothing is new under the sun, and God loves you and the other person!! 




Monday, July 28, 2014

You Can Choose Heaven or Hell

Yesterday at church I was reminded of heaven. We heard a beautiful sermon about heaven and all the things we would be doing in heaven. The pastor gave us some scriptures to look up at home because he could not get to all of them. 

Today, I looked up one of them...Luke 16: 19-31.  This not only gave me a little glimpse of heaven, but a big glimpse of hell. Take a look with me...



(scripture via www.biblegateway.com)

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” 
This convicts me on many levels. Notice I said "convicts" and not "condemnation". Conviction is a good thing. It reminds us to do right. Condemnation brings shame and guilt and usually we self medicate to deal with how bad it makes us feel. Conviction challenges us to rise above our circumstances and live the life Christ intended. 
Here are my convictions: 
1. It reminds me that hell is a real place, and I do not want to go there. 
2. It reminds me that I don't want anyone to go there so I need to tell others about Jesus. 
3. It reminds me of the finality of hell. There is a "great chasm set in place....nor can anyone cross over from there to us". 
I believe in Jesus because of his love for me and the awesome love that I feel for him. I believe his power and his goodness are so great that I don't want to live without him in my life. I can't live without him. He has become so ingrained in who I am, that I don't want to live any other way. He is my hope. He is my rock. He is my truth. 
Those are the things I dwell on. This is a relationship to me, not just fire insurance, so I don't spend much time thinking about hell. This scripture of the beggar and the rich man reminds me, "oh yeah, and there is that hell thing too!". (lol)
The rich man saw that it was too late for him, and he pleaded for the life of his family. He begged God to send someone from the dead to convince them to repent and believe. But, he was told even that would not work. Was it too late for them too? Had they already been told many times and simply refused to believe? Ouch! 
Heaven is a real place...but so is hell. I don't like to think about hell very often, but it is a good reminder that we don't want to live there for eternity.  And, as if hell were not bad enough, can you imagine if we had to be in hell and then watch those in heaven? That would be pure torture. 
The good news is ... it is our choice. We choose where we want to live for eternity. And, I chose heaven.  I hope you do too. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Scripture Cures

I woke up this morning full of anxiety. I hate anxiety. Don't like the way it makes me feel...jittery....snappy....shaky...just don't like it.

Drove the kids to school...still anxious.

Got to work...still anxious.

Found this cute little scripture at http://courageouscowgirl.blogspot.com

Then I grabbed my little bible I keep in my desk and read John, Chapter 19 titled, "Jesus Sentenced to be Crucified" and "The Death of Jesus".  This is my least favorite chapter in the bible for obvious reasons. It hurts me all over to read about my Savior being crucified.  And, to know they killed an innocent man simply because they didn't understand who he was or what he was telling them, just hurts me even more.

As I was reading this, I was reminded of a phrase I use often in my line of work, "We eat our own".

The very people that are trying to do good in a community are the ones that get attacked and destroyed by others in the same community. Everyone jumps up and down about wanting progress, or wanting something new, and they want to "keep the town alive". Yet, when someone starts making small steps in that direction, they chop them off at the knees, hoping they die out, much like the two men that were hung on the cross beside Jesus. They weren't all the way dead so the soldiers broke their legs so it could all be over.

But, the bigger picture was that Jesus was a Jew who came to fulfill the Jewish law. He was the savior they had prayed for, waited for, longed for. And, when he came, they did not recognize him and they had him killed out of selfish ambition and fear.


Many times, in community development the person or people trying to be the change that the people want, are often times the ones that those same people devour.  On a larger scale, America is much the same way. We devour politicians who are striving to make change for the better. We lump them all in one big basket and complain rather than being part of the solution.

Let's not "eat our own".  Let's not be divided on so many different issues. Let's work harder to see all sides of the coin. Often times that means compromising and working together.  Let's work harder to find common ground. And, in doing this, it will help us all to "love our neighbor as ourself"...the one commandment that Jesus left for us to fulfill. We can do it.

Wrapping up, I want you all to know after cracking open my bible, my anxiety has subsided.

It works every time. Scripture cures all my ailments!

My problems still exist but God has given me peace.

My anxiety is not actually job related (today!), but reading this passage reminded me that we have a tendency to "eat our own"... so that is what I am sharing with you all.

May the peace that passes all understanding be with you today and everyday. God Bless!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Miracle Took Place Last Night

It was not something I could see, but certainly something I could feel. Something had shifted in my heart, and today was a new day.

The night prior I took a muscle relaxer. It was prescribed that day by the doctor for a pulled muscle. (Honestly, it's a rib that has moved out of place, but the doc said muscle so I did what he said.) I ended up sleeping that night and all the next day. Maybe I should have started with half a pill! Oops. While the sleep was glorious, my rib is still causing quite a bit of discomfort.



To add insult to injury, we have a gas leak at our house and the gas has been turned off until this can be fixed. Our hot water heater and our regular heater that heats the house both run on gas. Luckily it's not in the teens as it was last week, but still getting down to 32 at night. No hot showers. No warm house.

Not to mention I've just been in a funk lately. Maybe it was because I was unknowingly breathing in gas fumes - this is very dangerous I hear! Whatever the reason, my mind has not been a pretty place lately.

Last night, as I was laying in bed, complaining about something to myself, I was reminded of something very simple.

"Put your focus on God, not your problems." 

As simple as it was, it was a lightbulb moment for me.

I thought to myself, "Oh yeah, why am I not doing what I know to do?!"

I immediately started praising God. Repeating things to myself like, "Thank you Lord for all that we have. Thank you for all my blessing. Even when it looks crazy, you are there. You are an awesome God. You deliver me from evil." And, I fell asleep.

This morning I woke up a new person.

I'm not kidding.

I honestly was thanking God for the no-heat situation. I remembered that situations like these are opportunities to teach my kids alternative ways to keep warm, take baths, heat water, etc. Things I know how to do, but never have to practice; therefore, my kids would never learn.

I learned these things the same way. When it would get extra cold, and the heater could not keep up, my dad would turn on the oven or a burner (take caution if you have a gas stove). Mom would heat water on the stove for a bath if our water was frozen. She would remind us to turn on our electric blankets before bed so our beds would be nice and toasty. This was important because our bedroom doors stayed closed. We didn't heat those rooms because the blankets would keep us warm.

It's was not always the most comfortable or ideal situation, but it was certainly good to know how to do these things. Even taking time to put extra blankets on the bed, are things my kids never think about. And, they have never even heard of an electric blanket. Do they still make such a thing?

This morning before school, I was also reminded to pray with the kids. I used to be really good at this, but I have been so consumed with my thoughts lately that I haven't even taken the time to do it.

After getting to work, I even sent my husband a sweet text message to let him know I was praying that God would bless him today and that I loved him. While this is a simple thing, I fail to do it very often. (Good intentions?)

A few simple words of praise, lifted up to God in the night, have turned my mourning into dancing. I have so much to be thankful for. I know this, but it is even sweeter when God moves it from my head down to my heart.

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), Luke 1:68-70 NIV (biblegateway.com)


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Are You in the Rut of Tradition?


The Lord says:

“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” Isaiah 29:13



Historically, the old testament was the law. People were taught traditions and to follow the law which was laid out by God. These laws had their place. It was meant to teach people how to live and protect them from evil. But even then, there was an element of love that carried through the stitching of this law. A deep love of God pulled at the heart string’s of the people. But many missed that memo, and it was strictly about following the letter of the law, commonly known today as legalism.

Then, an amazing thing happened: Jesus showed up. Can you imagine the difficulty he had trying to get people to listen to their hearts rather than the just traditions they had always known? This was a daunting task to say the least. After all, Jesus was murdered because some didn’t like that he was pulling people away from their traditional ways of doing things.

Yet, even way back in history, Isaiah was telling the people they were simply going through the motions and missing the point. 

Unfortunately, today we get caught up in this same rut. We honor God with our mouth and lips, but are hearts are far from him. 

Traditions are beautiful and they have their place, but if we don’t learn to worship God from our hearts, we have missed the point. We have missed the reason he died on the cross. 

He came that we might have life abundant, not the “going through the motions” life. He came that others might know the freedom that sets the captives free! 

That is something that can only be explained in the heart. The head will never understand it.

Is your heart far from God today? If so, ask him to revive your soul and pour out his love on you today. He will do it! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

To the Person who Bombed Boston -


I’m sure you had your reasons. I’m certain you have justified it in your mind. But whatever reasoning you came to, you were wrong.

People compare life to a marathon, not a sprint, because it takes time, dedication, discipline and tenacity to train for a 26.2 mile run. It’s not easy. You must work hard, qualify, set aside a year (minimum!) of your life to train for such an event.

Photo Credit: http://www.walkjogrun.net

I wonder how long it took you to build that bomb? To plot this attack? Did you put in the time and discipline to build your bomb that these innocent people took to train for this race?

I doubt it.

If you were that disciplined, you would have spent your time doing something that mattered.  You would have tried to make the world a better place, not destroy others accomplishments. You would not have made yourself feel big by making others feel small.

What is most disheartening of all is that you, and others like you, are trying to turn America into a third world country. You are trying to make it a war zone. Your desire is to turn American into a war-torn pile of rubble.

What does that accomplish?

People flee their own countries in droves to come to the “land of the free” and “live the American dream”.  They come here and live as illegal immigrants and put their families in harms way, all to give their children a better life. They do that because others, like yourself, have already turned their countries into unsafe places to live and raise a family. People like you have destroyed the normal way of life and turned those countries into poverty-stricken places. Those people loved their homeland like we love America, but were driven out of it by people like you.

What you did yesterday was absolutely pointless. And, nothing good can or will come from it.

Are you trying to prove a point? The only point you have proven is that you are weak and spineless. You targeted a marathon!  

Obviously, you wanted notoriety and knew the news cameras would be covering the event. Congratulations. You made the news! Give yourself a pat on the back. Speaking of backs, your notoriety came on the backs of 150 injured people and the death of three others. But, I'm sure you think that is okay.  

Maybe you hate the government. Maybe you are just mad at the world. Whatever you are, the world wishes you had kept it to yourself yesterday.

I am a runner, or at least I was before I broke my leg. I’m trying to get back into the sport. I’ve never run 26.2 miles, but look up to those who have.  Until yesterday, running Boston was not something I aimed to do. But now, a piece of Boston will live in my heart. Maybe I will run it. Maybe I won’t. But one thing is for certain, you will never break the Boston Marathon spirit…no matter how hard you try. 

Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.  Proverbs 13:17-19

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Firsts


In marriage there are many “firsts”.

A first kiss, a first fight, a first child. And, unfortunately, a first major tragedy.

On December 16th, our phone rang at 1:00 a.m. with the terrible news that my mother-in-love had passed away from a massive heart attack. She was one week shy of her 62nd birthday. She had no major health complications. It came as a major shock.

The best Grandmother in the world! (1950-2012)

It is so hard to even imagine life without Grandmother. I’ve only been in the family 14 years come January, and I am going to miss her terribly. I can’t imagine the pain my husband and sister-in-law will face. It will be a first to experience anything of this magnitude with my husband and my children. Grandmother was the apple of their eye.

This experience gives me new insight into older folks or elders. They are wise. But not just in knowledge, also in life experiences, much like this one we are going through. They know that no one can take the place of a mother. They know our lives are forever changed. They know the pain in the coming days ahead. And they hurt for us because they know we will never be the same.

I’m reminded again that death is unpredictable and inevitable. We assume tomorrow will come. We are never prepared for death. We are never ready to say goodbye.

I’m also reminded to be more thoughtful when people lose a loved one. It is hard to know what to say or do, but do something. Those small acts of kindness are never forgotten. Never assume people are too busy to see you or take a call from you. It matters.

Another first for me was living out this tragedy on social media. Not just for me, but my sister-in-law, husband, and most of all my daughter were connected to a larger group of people all feeling our pain with us. Long standing friends and coworkers of my mother-in-law “friended” us on facebook to express their sadness and to “meet” the people they had always heard her speak so fondly about. All of a sudden, brought together by tragedy, we were connected.  

Consoling brokenhearted children proved to be our hardest “first”.  Children feel the sadness but are not sure how to articulate it. Therefore it comes spewing out in the strangest places, usually at a sibling or parent. As if our hearts were not already broken, this heaviness was almost too much to bare. 

And, to add insult to injury, we have already survived her first birthday and Christmas without her. Needless to say, it wasn't the same. But we made time to enjoy each other and savor the family connection. 

Firsts. Sometimes they are a new adventure, but sometimes they are just hard.

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

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