Sunday grace

Early morning I read a book of Advent, and Kathleen Norris gets my attention with this:

“When our lives are most barren, when possibilities are cruelly limited, and despair takes hold, when we feel most keenly the emptiness of life — it is then that God comes close to us.”

For those grieving at Christmas, whether it’s the first or the fifth year without a loved one, whether it is death taking its toll or a relationship gone wrong, whether the life in front of us is not what we expected at all and we dread the tomorrow, there is good news still.

We are not alone. God came wrapped in skin like ours to be with us.

His name shall be called Immanuel, the “with us God.”

Take heart, dear one. Jesus fills the emptiness, the longing, the lonely days. He gives joy in heartache, peace in trouble, provision in want.

His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Sunday grace.




Dealing with our grief

I’m reminiscing today, thinking back, remembering.

It was a year ago this very day when we took our Little Dog to the vet. After the shot, Little Dog quietly died in my arms. I remember the rain reflecting my tears, the heartbreak I felt at placing our beloved companion of 13 years into the earth.

I’ve passed that little grave and its marker at the corner of our yard countless times as I’ve walked my quiet lane. A small tree grows there now as a memorial to a faithful little friend.

Now Maisie lies beside me in the early mornings as I sit in my rocker for some quiet time with the Father. She is so different from Little Dog, in size and color, in personality and demeanor. They are not alike at all, yet both have places in my heart.

Reading a book recently, I remembered other losses as the author wrote about her miscarriages.

I dealt with that grief twice. Those many years ago there wasn’t much written about it as I recall. My experience in the hospital at the first miscarriage was made more emotionally painful because I had to share a room with a new mother whose baby was brought into the room regularly. The curtain was pulled between us, but when I heard those infant noises and my arms were empty, I thought I was going to die right there at that very moment.

Procedures had changed by the second miscarriage, and I was placed in a different section from the new moms. Thankfully, someone realized women were dealing with a death to be grieved, that is was not just a medical procedure.

Today I am thinking of a young friend who is facing the one year anniversary of her mother’s untimely death. I can identify with her, recalling the first holidays, birthdays and family events where my mother was strikingly absent. My friend’s grief is still in process.

In some ways mine is too.

We sustain other losses like losing a job or a friendship that ends suddenly. When our health fails or disease threatens, life changes dramatically. When my family who lived in the house next door pulled out of their driveway on a September morning in a big yellow moving truck, the loss was almost more than I could bear.  That loss resurfaces often, especially when we say our good-byes after time together.

Grieving is a process. It takes time. It has its stages but it is not orderly. Sometimes those stages circle and repeat. They may swirl and come back to slap you in the face when you thought you were done with that one.

Tears well up unexpectedly at a thought of someone we miss and long for. The flood of memory and emotion can surprise us.

One person’s grief can’t be compared to another’s. We each have our way of working through it. It is a road we travel alone in some ways. While we can share our experiences and grieve with those who grieve, each person deals individually with their own emotions and pain.

Hopefully, eventually, we come to a place of acceptance and healing.

Having endured many losses of one kind and another, I’m not sure we ever “get over” them. We move on. We learn different ways of doing life. We call it our new normal. But we don’t forget what it was like before.

The open wound closes but the scar is a mark of our heartache.

We remember. At the remembering we cry and we smile. When we can talk about the experience and the one who is gone, we relive the joy of having loved, even through we have lost.

I read Revelation chapter 21 and see the picture it paints of a day when there will be not more death, no more pain, no more crying. God himself will wipe away the tears from our eyes. And He will dwell with us in a way we only faintly understand now.

God will make all things new.

I look forward to that. In the meantime, I find comfort in knowing the truth, that while we suffer here, God does not waste our suffering. He comforts. He restores. He brings beauty out of ashes and gives joy to replace sadness.

Death reminds us that we are not in Eden any more, the garden of perfection God planted. And somehow we know it is not the way it was supposed to be.

We grieve but not without hope. We hope in God who promises a new order of things.

And so we wait, expectantly, for that day.

Sunrise by MaRanda Green

Photo by MaRanda Houston Green


Grey days

It’s a grey day today.  Bright hues of fall have virtually disappeared and all that is left are browns and the few evergreen cedars.  Bare branches, ashen skies and rain falling steadily adds to the drabness.  It’s easy to let the weather dictate my mood.

I think about the coming holiday celebrations and how different they have become since the family, our dear ones moved.

Lists begin to take shape in my mind, things to do in the next few weeks, preparations, agendas, schedules.  They grow and take on their own shape inside me, creating tension.

Sometimes I can let pressure build like the cooker on the stove that spews its steam and juices all over the surface, smoking and smelling burnt.

Sweet William and I prayed before breakfast, naming names and seeing faces in our minds.  So many are still wrestling with disease, grief, worry.  Some are anticipating dates of testing with uncertain outcomes.   Others have written “surgery” in the square of their calendars.

The world has become a scary place.  Nightly newscasts make me wonder what we are coming to.

It’s all overwhelming to think about.

And it’s a grey day today.

I decide to put the tea kettle on the burner.


Water heats as temperature rises.  Steam intensifies and pressure builds.  And the kettle starts to sing.  That five-dollar bargain I bought in Tulsa a few years ago at a yard sale that has not sung worth a nickle.  But today, it sings.

And when the days are grey and the stress levels are high, as the pressure builds and I wonder what life is all about any way . . .

When I remember a life recently passed from this world and how brief are the days of our lives on this earth . . .

When I consider that his world is not my home and I’m just a’passing through, that it is a preparing ground for something more glorious than I can imagine . . .

I decide to be like the kettle.

I will sing.