Posts tagged Grief
In the Arms of Our Father {DWITW 365}
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As I sit here writing this, I am in tears. I recently lost a friend I loved just as a sister. She was young, only 31. She had fought cancer three times over the last ten years. I try to remain strong and resilient, putting on a fake face of “normalcy” so that people don’t see how sad I truly am. But today, I am losing that battle. My pastor sent me a text asking me how I was doing, and that was all it took to bring me to tears. She has been gone just over a month now. We met at church, so he had officiated her funeral. He loved her as deeply too, just as so many others. So, I know he is sad as well. But he reminded me of her largest goal in life - to love people and reach souls.

Let me explain a bit about my dear friend, Leslie. She was closer to God than she was to me. She spent her life in prayer, worship, and reading all about who He was. Her entire life was built around ensuring she was living the life He wanted her to live. To know Leslie was to know the love of God. It oozed out of her like lava, melting the hearts of the hardest souls. We told her the day before she passed that we believed she broke Facebook because every single person we knew was posting prayer requests for her. Even people who had never met her were inundated with her Jesus’ aroma because of the number of prayer requests shared for her miracle healing. Her viewing was one of the largest I have ever seen. Even in her passing, God saved souls right in the middle of her funeral. When I grow up, I want to be like Leslie -a beautiful sweet spirit who loved God like He held her in his arms each night and kissed her forehead while whispering “well done, precious daughter, well done.”

We have thought on your steadfast love, O God,
in the midst of your temple.
-Psalm 48:9

Now I know we are to get our direction from God. I believe wholeheartedly in His love and wisdom for us. But we can also learn from the people God places in our path. This happened in Scripture too! For instance, in 2 Chronicles 29, King Hezekiah purifies the priests in order to hold Passover. He knew it was necessary to obey God’s commands to present a pure sacrifice. After having been away from God under the rule of King Ahaz, Hezekiah was trying to work toward bringing the people back to holy reunion with the God who loved them. And the result was that his obedience changed the course of history for generations to come!

Further in this week’s reading, we see the writers of Psalm 48 discuss God’s unfailing love. In verse 3, they remind us of God’s strength as he defends Mount Zion. This reminds me of how I, foolishly, allow my fears to guide my sails at times. This is unnecessary on my end, and it only causes me headache and heartache. But if I were I to trust God, allow for His defense of my life, and therefore not steer away from His plan for me, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, I would be protected.

Later in the Psalm, in verses 9-13 specifically, the Sons of Korah remind us to praise God for the unfailing love that offers us shelter. In song, they command us to walk through life declaring God’s goodness during the trials that will come. In this, I am instantly reminded of Leslie and her ability to praise God during the worst moments of her cancer trial. She never allowed the cancer to beat her; instead she proclaimed that she was a winner either way. She knew that she would either dance in earthly streets singing the praises of a miraculous healing, or that she would dance in the streets of Heaven with her earthly father and her Heavenly Father.

And in His goodness, He is creating a community of people to lead all of us to hearts that look more like His.

Life is a precious balance of ups and downs. We are always experiencing moments of love, joy, grief, despair... and countless other emotions. However, we are fortunate that in Christ, God protects, defends, loves and holds us in His powerful hands. Because of this truth, we can rest easy knowing He fills our lives with people to help guide us; and sometimes we are the guide for others along the journey. And in His goodness, He is creating a community of people to lead all of us to hearts that look more like His. Our God loves us so deeply, and He has woven a fine web of silk attaching our hearts to others’ hearts within His glorious Kingdom.

So, for me, at this moment, that is a truly bittersweet thought. I am still grieving the loss of one of my dearest friends; yet I can see her smiling face, as she sings and dances with our Heavenly Father. And I know she is not sad for one second. She is exactly where she was created to be - in the arms of her Father.

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Sonya Gentry wants to live in a world where being kind and loving means that when we encounter a need or brokenness, we say yes first and think about it second. This would be a world where walking with Jesus means trying to act like Jesus through loving, relevant acts of service; where Christians put their hands and feet in the dirty situations of the world in order to show people God’s love and grace; where we understand that comfort zones are meant to be broken because people need us to show up and be be the best portrayal of God’s love we can be. When she's not working, you can find her being silly with friends and family, playing games with her nephews, volunteering for various organizations and events with her church, or relaxing with a movie.

Her favorite Scripture is John 15:16-17: “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you. This [is what] I command you: that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another” (AMP).

For The Things That Are Seen Are Transient {Team Journal}

Today's team journal is written by the DWITW "let's be real" champion and treasurer, Kaitlyn Carl.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away,
our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary
affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.

For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 

- II Corinthians 4:16-18


Just as Mindy shared in her post last week, I, too, experienced a season of pruning in 2016. We suffered a horrific miscarriage only a couple of weeks before we moved into our new home. Not only did we have to say goodbye to that sweet baby long before we were ready, but I also had to be stripped of my “I can do everything by myself, no help needed here, thank you very much” mentality. I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t pray. I’ve never been a “couldn’t” person. But the whole house still needed to be packed into boxes, clothes still needed to be washed, and I already had two beautiful daughters who needed me to care for them. And in my “couldn’t,” God provided an abundance of “could”s. Meal makers, packers, babysitters, house cleaners, prayer warriors, a Great Intercessor (Romans 8:26-27), and so much more. I experienced abundant love and sacrificial service from those around me and was utterly blessed, even in my grief and pain.

One month after we moved into our new home, my husband’s grandmother came to live with us. We had a joyous time with Nanny. The girls adored her, and she adored them. I loved having an adult to converse with throughout the day, and she even helped clear the table and clean the dishes after dinner! Joyous as it was, it didn’t come without pruning. When you’re 86, life moves at a much slower pace, and the Lord graciously used Nanny to s-l-o-w me down from my ever-hurried pace, though it was difficult at first. Through her, the Lord helped me see that the world wasn’t going to end if I wasn’t constantly moving 100 miles a minute; in fact, my marriage, parenting, prayer life, Bible study – almost all aspects of my life – have benefited greatly from this lesson! But then, not quite two months after she moved in, while the whole family was over on Christmas Eve, she collapsed. And she died in the hospital six days later. Again, we were sent reeling. Again, only three months after our miscarriage, the sympathy cards came rolling in, and with them, new waves of grief over the loss of our baby and over the loss of Nanny and why, God, why? as if the crying had never stopped.


 
 
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These all died in faith…having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. – Hebrews 11:13, 16

This world is not our home, dear sisters (Hebrews 13:14), and the evidence is all around us: pain, suffering, injustice, betrayal, sickness, death. We are sojourners and exiles here (I Peter 2:11): in the world, but not of it (John 17:14-18). Praise God! He has chosen a people for Himself and is bringing them home, to the place that He has prepared for them (I Peter 2:9, John 14:1-3). But until then, we are here. We’re in the final chapters of the Story, yes – Christ has come and He has died and He has risen and ascended into heaven, and through Him we have forgiveness of sins and life eternal, hallelujah! But we’re still here. We’re not home yet.

We had so many plans for that little baby. We had so many hopes for the years that we envisioned Nanny would live with us. "Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes" (James 4:14). God is pruning and burning away in His refining fire the white-knuckled grip with which I hold on to so many things in this life. He is slowly helping me to see what it looks like to loosen my grip on the things in this world because I’m just passing through. And I’m not saying we should stop caring about the people around us or to walk glibly through life with no attachments to anyone or anything. In fact, God tells the Israelites living in exile in Babylon to "build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters…multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare" (Jeremiah 29:5-7). But we do all these things with this end in mind: I will bring your back to the place from which I sent you into exile (Jeremiah 29:14).

It’s about maintaining an eternal perspective, "for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal" (II Corinthians 4:18). We live hard, love hard, cry hard, play hard, pray hard while we’re here because we don’t know how long our life is, nor the lives of those around us. We thank God for the days we have, even the hard ones. We treasure our loved ones while remembering that they are ultimately His. And all the while, we look forward to the promised land: the New Heaven, Earth, and Jerusalem (Revelation 21). Because we know the end of the story, dear friends. We know that we will not always be sojourners here in this foreign land. We know where our true home is: a place where God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, death shall be no more, and there will be no mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4). Praise the Lord!


Kaitlyn Carl is a wife of 5 1/2 years and a mama to two precious girls. She is a worship leader at her church and a group leader with Bible Study Fellowship. Kaitlyn is passionate about sharing life with others.  She loves brunch/lunch/coffee/play dates, over-sized sweatshirts, coloring books, and having to double recipes because her table is surrounded by people.