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Posts Tagged ‘grief’

 

Meander Scar 1

“A meander scar, occasionally meander scarp,[1] is a geological feature formed by the remnants of a meandering water channel. They are characterized by “a crescentic cut in a bluff or valley wall, produced by…a meandering stream…Meander scars are caused by the varying velocities of current within the river channel. Due to higher velocity current on the outer banks of the river through the bend, more erosion occurs causing the characteristic steep outer slopes.[1] In certain habitats, if the scar has sufficient water, or as an oxbow lake fills with sediment, these areas may become marshes or wetlands.”

Wikipedia

I love words. Of course I do, I’m a writer. But when I ran across the words “meander scar” in my son’s Texas text book, being a sand-in-my-shoes Florida girl, I was bumfuzzled. I’d never heard those two words linked together before.

Now, for the past thirty years I’ve become a Texas gal, and I’ve seen boo-coddles of meander scars, ‘cause we have multitudes of flash floods out here. Raging walls of water that carve new pathways through whatever is in their way.

Tornadoes and spring storms feed these flash floods and scar the landscape with their zig-zag slashes. A number of years back one of these rogue storms transformed the normally quiet Guadalupe River into a water butcher, sculpting, and slashing new paths through the Texas Hill Country.

Along the Guadaloupe River

Now a scar by definition is a blemish, deformity, defect, or disfigurement. And left in their raw state, scars are often unsightly. But did you ever consider how many times our hearts, minds, and bodies suffer turbulence from flash floods of grief, relational pain, or consequences of diseases that leave meandering scars carved inside and outside our bodies?

 

The Word of God says: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren…whom He called He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30 NAS).

Meander Scar 4

 

Just like God transforms those ugly meander scars in the landscape, He promises to transform the scars inflicted in your mind, body, and heart, if you’ll let Him. And like Texas in the springtime heals and blossoms with the beauty of His handiwork, transforming those deep, ugly gashes in the land into multi-dimensional layers of spectacular photo opportunities, the Spirit of the Living God will heal, transform, and cover your scars with His mercy, His grace, and His love. He will turn you into a multi-dimensional vessel, assigned to pour love, mercy, and grace onto a lost dying neighborhood, town, nation—yes, even the world.

 

Spring 2016 BB 2

 

“And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is. Because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27 NAS).

 

This Spring I’m off on another road-trip to locate and photograph those bluebonnet-covered meander scars. But for the past sixteen years God has been softening and transforming my own scars from the death of my daughter and my parents through my participation in the Grief Share ministry. How does He accomplish this restoration? By pointing those new to this journey through the valley of the shadow of death to Jesus, then watching them blossom as He heals and transforms them too.

bb fence and blossoms 2a

Are you allowing God to transform and heal your scars? He will, you know, but first you must acknowledge your need, come to Him, thank Him for who He is, ask His forgiveness for your sin of unbelief. Ask for His healing and His peace. Then rest in Him to perform the miracle of new birth in you.

 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17 NAS).

 

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Sayin’ goodbye is hard.

The distance from the airport parking garage to the Southwest gate seemed endless. Tears threatened an assault. I gulped them back. Grandson Noah and I chatted about stupid stuff, each of us knowing the elephant in the room was grief over having to say goodbye. Again.

Oh, I knew I’d talk on the phone with him and see him next trip, but my heart ached. We’ve done this drill so many times and it never gets easier. But to say goodbye and know it’s final for the duration of life in the here and now—that’s hard. Really hard. But it’s not forever.
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Sayin’ goodbye hurts.

After the death of our daughter, I sat in the counselor’s office and heard her ask me, “DiAne, have you said goodbye to Michelle?”

Her words smacked me in the face. I snuggled in my self-righteous, stupid self and stammered mad. Why should I have to say goodbye, my daughter was a believer. She’s with Jesus. I’d see her again. Why should I have to say goodbye?

But in the days that followed, God brought scenes of my children leaving for college to mind. I saw them drive out the driveway, knowing I would see them again and what did I do? Stood in the driveway waving and watching ‘til they were out of sight, shouting goodbye.

And I know one day the goodbye will vanish and we’ll be together again and the hurt will vanish too.
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Sayin’ goodbye is necessary.

I remember the last time I saw my mom before she died. Alzheimer’s had robbed us of everything the last eight years of her life. But when I leaned over and kissed her, shortly before she went to be with Jesus, she replied in a clear, lucid voice, “goodbye.” Her body died a week later. But Mama’s mind and ability to respond to an earthly relationship died seven years before.

Saying goodbye frees us from focusing on the ugliness of death and to comprehend the glorious riches of God’s grace and the reality of His promise of an inheritance and eternity with Him.

We can’t focus on heaven when our eyes and heart are mired in the muck of fear. It takes months, maybe even years to say goodbye. But God has a purpose and plan for you, so it’s necessary to say goodbye, for now.
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Sayin’ goodbye confronts us with an ugly reality.

Whether your loved one has been ill for a long time or their death is unexpected, you are never prepared for that moment of separation. We are created eternal beings. And the bottom line when ferocious grief assaults your soul, you are brought face to face with your own earthly mortality. And Satan’s cunning voice whispers to your hurting heart, “You’re next.”

“Inasmuch then as the children(us) have partaken of flesh and blood. He (Jesus) Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He (Jesus) might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil, and release those (us) who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14 NAS).

Yes, God has numbered our days too. But if we trust Him for today, can’t we trust all our tomorrows and everything that goes with them to Him too?
Hot in the Kitchen 4

Sayin’ goodbye reveals a weak link in the chain of our lives.

It is so easy to pour out platitudes when others are plunged into the tsunami of grief . We recite scriptures and think in our minds we believe them with all our heart. But in the practically of the valley of the shadow of death our faith is put to the test. Do we really believe what we preach to others when we’re the ones hurting? And God asks, “Do you trust Me?”

And that’s the bottom line. But even the faith to trust Him is a gift from God, all we need is a heart that wants to.

Sayin’ goodbye requires us to accept God’s sovereignty.

During some of the darkest days after our daughter went home to live with the Lord Jesus, I read Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord…” I had read that verse many times, but that particular day the words jumped off the page and pierced my heart. Her death was unexpected to us, but not to God. He numbered her days before she was born.

Clear as could be I heard in my spirit, “Do you trust Me?” In the silence of the moment with my teeny-weeny less than mustard seed sized faith I whispered, “Yes, Lord. I trust You.”

And the clouds of grief diminished a little each day as I learn experientially to walk through life’s dark times trusting everything to God.
rainbow
Grief never goes away—it changes, and grief is God’s roto-rooter to increase our heart’s capacity for joy.

Sayin’ goodbye is the beginning—not the end.

Jesus tells us death is an enemy. An enemy that reeks incredible heartache and destruction. But it’s not always going to be that way. God created us to become living stones, not dead stones. Stones that are being built into one body in Christ Jesus.

Our loved ones do not become heaven’s newest angels. God created all the angels there would ever be in the beginning. Those who love and trust the Lord Jesus are living stones who will rule and reign with Him forever.

Our loved ones aren’t sitting on a cloud, plucking a harp. No, if they had faith and trust in Jesus, they are doing what God planned for their lives. Doing what God transformed them to do and be. They are healed, filled with His joy, and alive forever by the same power that resurrected our Lord Jesus Christ and defeated Satan’s power over us through the fear of death.

The joy of His promise of a future and an inheritance is the power that enables us to keep on keeping on.

Saying goodbye is a choice.

The term “in that day” refers to a certain point in time, a time only God knows, when this age will end, death will be nailed in a coffin and buried forever. And Jesus will rule and reign, right here on earth, and we will never have to say goodbye again.

God’s promises are sure. You can trust Him. Scripture tells us He is not willing for any to perish, but that all should come to eternal life, through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you’ve never trusted Him, choose to accept His free gift of salvation purchased for you at the cross. Please make that choice right now.

You don’t have to wait ‘til you’re good enough. I sure didn’t. You can bow your head right now, admit you’ve sinned, and by faith believe that Jesus died to purchase you back from Satan. Thank Him for loving you and ask Him to teach you to trust Him more every day. Tell Him you want Him to be your Savior. Then tell someone, tell a friend, tell me, you’ve chosen to accept God’s gift of mercy and grace and follow Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Sayin’ goodbye allows you to choose worship.

We are so prone to hang onto the shirttails of pride. Meeting the challenges of the day, solving problems, running life—‘til death sideswipes us and we realize we are in control of nothing. At that point you will either turn to or away from Jesus. You will become bitter or you will worship The Lord God Almighty, El Shaddai.

And worship is the reason we were created—to worship. What do you worship?
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Sayin’ goodbye is an act of surrender.

Surrendering your loved one and yourself to the God who created you, loves you beyond your ability to comprehend will bring you to your knees giving honor and glory to Him. “… one Spirit, one Lord, and one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6 NAS).

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10 NAS).

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“You can’t stop birds from flying over your head, but you sure can keep ‘em from building a nest there.”

Mama’s voice still resonates in my ears and I can see her stern expression as she repeated her reprimand for any type of unbecoming behavior I displayed during my teen years.

Now I’ve never allowed these winged creatures to build nests inDSCF2525 my hair, but I’ve sure built some nasty nests in my mind.

Little by little, bit by bit, I collected trashy anger, strings of pain, and lint balls of jealousy and carefully poked them into the dark corners of my mind. I harbored those fragments of left-over animosity and replayed the tape—over and over again.

Ever done that?

Or have you captured broken twigs of disappointment and leaves of shame to feed the growing tangled nest of emotions? And tucked them away ‘til you were trapped in an emotional time-bomb of depression and self-pity dragging you into a quagmire from which you could not extract yourself?

Let me explain.

We live near a wetland area where eagles nest. Cameras set up by the wetland officials revealed skulls of ducks and skunks left in the nest. Nests are temporary shelters for baby birds to grow ‘til they can fly, not permanent homes. Nasty places filled with particles of animal remains, bugs, and unspeakable refuse. And the refuse we pile in our mind is no different and just as nasty.

God created us in His image and in the 15th Chapter of John gives us the cure for our self-destructive hoarding habits. Jesus said:

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” (John 15:4-10 NAS).

In these six verses Jesus tells us to abide in Him ten times. And He gives us conditional promises if we do and lays out the consequences if we don’t.

Are we to have a part-time home in the tangled mess of past heartaches? Absolutely not.

Abide is the Greek verb meno and means to stay, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry.

Oh my, could that be why God’s people are in so much trouble? Why our families are falling apart? Why our nation is on the brink of disaster? We fail to stay, dwell, endure, remain in Him, in His Words, in His commandments, in His love.

I have read these words many times, but three weeks ago conviction stabbed to the depths of my heart and soul. I was not abiding in Jesus.

Had I missed Sunday services? Of course not, but once in the car on the way home my mind shifted gears. Did I neglect to pray at night? No. I always mumbled incoherent thanks for the day and His blessings before my eyes closed. Didn’t I? And I always read that little devotional blurb at night.

Dr. Paul David Tripp says, “We trouble our own trouble.” And that’s exactly where I had lived for months. Troubling my own trouble. Choosing to spend more and more time in the nasty nest of anguish, plucking at lint and strings, wondering why I couldn’t soar with the eagles.

DSCF4307 “Today I start a new chapter in my life.
I close the door to the past and open the door to the future, take a deep breath and step into my new life.”

Abiding in Jesus is a choice we must make every day. And I’m so grateful God’s mercies to us are new every morning. His love never fails and His arms are outstretched to those whose hearts are toward Him. Jesus’ blood washes all my sin away and He fills me with His joy.

What about you? Where are you spending your time? Abiding in Jesus or sinking in a nasty nest of anguish? You don’t have to keep traveling the same painful road. Give all your heartache to Jesus and abide with Him. He’s waiting. Just for you.

“Brokenness is realizing He is all we have.IMG_0013
Hope is realizing He is all we need.
Joy is realizing He is all we want.”

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The quiet voice echoed through the sad, lonely corridors of my heart and soul—“Is Jesus Enough?” I sniffed back tears that had become a way of life for the past few weeks and blew my nose as the voice inside me asked again—“Is Jesus Enough?”

DSCF1479I slumped in my chair, Kleenex in hand, forced to examine the implications of this question and where I had drifted and what had brought me down this treacherous road.

Even as I write this morning, my mind retraces the rabbit trails I allowed to lead me away from abiding in the light of the Word into the murky, stagnant puddles of lingering grief. And the moreDSCF3280 time I spent wandering in this swamp, the more impossible it became to extract myself.

Self-pity clutched its slimy tendrils around every thought and drug me toward the pit of depression as I counted, recounted, and added to what I didn’t have.

Trapped in a snare. Two weeks before Christmas. The tree wasn’t trimmed, the house was a mess, but the state of my heart and mind needed emergency medical care. And, thank God, the Great Physician was on-call.

Jesus tells us:

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 14:5 NAS).

I could indeed do nothing. The last few months I had lost focus on the important and allowed the urgent to shove my time with the Lord each day to those last few moments before exhaustion cemented my eyelids and brain shut for the night.

My disposition cranked to critical and I neglected to put on God’s armor each morning. I gave the enemy of my soul numerous opportunities to shoot his fiery darts into the chinks, resulting in great pain, loss of joy and my ability to focus on God’s miracle of Jesus. Immanuel. God with us.

But the good news is Jesus left a message for me and all who struggle in this battle:

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29 NAS).

DSCF3521I heard—Is Jesus enough? And I understood the question and all the associated implications.

Regardless of the loss, trouble, or pain God allows to touch our lives we must ask ourselves—Is Jesus enough?

Jesus was enough for ancient Christians forced into an arena filled with hungry lions. Jesus was enough for the Apostle Paul when he faced his executioners in Rome. And Jesus is enough for Christians in countries where living their faith means persecution or death.

Will Jesus be enough for you and me as we walk through turmoil, distress and heartache during our lifetime?

Jesus also told us:

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19 NAS).

The hours of 2013 are slipping away and 2014 will arrive a week DSCF3551from today. Will we replay the trials, pain, and grief of past years or will we quake when difficult times arise in the future? Or will you guard your heart and mind, abide in the Word and in prayer, and confirm with me, “Yes, Jesus is Enough!”

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Her text message was devastating.

Every ounce of joy along with every want-to-smile drained from my heart. And I wept like only another childless mother weeps.

My friend’s grandbaby died. An infant, a little over two months old. Future plans, hopes and dreams, gone in an instant.

My mind raced back twelve years to that other phone call. The first one that wiped the smile from my soul.

I remember wondering if my brain would ever again send a message that would  warm my heart and allow the crinkling lines that used to etch the corners of my eyes, relax the muscles of my lips, and direct them to remember their upward path?

‘Til then I found myself dumped on the sidewalk of life, gasping for air, flopping like a fish out-of-water. Hating morning. Fearing evening and everything in between. Part of me wanted to die and the other half lacked the faith to live.

In those-after-days I cried, “Oh, Lord Jesus, help my not-even-mustard-seed sized faith.”

Death. What an ugly word. My heart ripped open. A bleeding, gaping hole. Days saturated with helplessness and hopelessness droned on like a freight-train-to-no-where.

I was tired, but sleep fled. My neck and shoulders ached from the iron weight of grief. My stomach growled but food was repulsive. All were symptoms. Symptoms of grief from the unexpected death of our twenty-eight year old daughter.

But the loss of an infant adds a multitude of extra layers to grief. Not of what we will miss, but the loss of what will never be. This side of eternity.

Ambiguous thoughts randomly pop-up like troublesome boogers in a parent’s or grandparent’s mind. What would the little one have become? Who would this gift from God have looked like? Mom or Dad? Maybe a grandparent. Whose personality would the sweet dumpling have reflected? Each image is like grabbing onto Jell-O. Yet, each painful mirage must be grieved.

The “if only” mud puddles grow murky and deep. Storm clouds of anger and resentment over unfulfilled dreams and expectations bluster and, if we’re not careful, send us spinning in a vortex of self-destruction.

While the rest of the world continues to survive and thrive.

Everyone but the family.

Where do we go? What can we do? Will the pain ever subside? Will the anger and guilt leave?

Yes, but not as quickly as we hope.

But after God’s roto-rooter of grief has purged the frivolities of pretense from our hearts and souls, God Himself will have comforted our hearts and enlarged our capacity for joy and pain to reside. Together. Then we will become His physical arms of love and comfort to others about to enter this dark tunnel. We will stand ready to give witness to them that there is a day when their joy will return.

However, even when the light of the Son finally shines on our pathway, bringing us comfort, and our smiles return, tender scabs of grief will always remain, ready to bleed when scraped by another death.

Christ promises He will bring good out of the bad stuff—our certification that we have become conduits of His love. Conduits flowing with the river of His grace and strength, waiting to be poured out on those about to cross death’s threshold.

Christ told us death is an enemy. Adam and Eve didn’t understand and neither do we, until we are humbled in the presence of this powerful foe. Until we recognize our utter helplessness and are willing to lift our precious babies, with open hands, and give them back into the arms of our Father in Heaven.

King David’s infant son had been gravely ill and David mourned. But on the day the baby died, the King arose, bathed, dressed and ate and said, “He shall not return to me, but I shall go to him” (2 Samuel 12:15-23 NAS).   What a glorious promise.

One day those who have loved and trusted Jesus will be united with those who have gone before us. That’s a promise. Then we shall all attend the funeral of death. That’s God’s promise too.

As days grow darker here on this earth, know that your baby is alive. Healed and in the presence of God. Forever. And that precious one will never again have to die. And one day you will be with them, and there will be no more pain, no more tears and no more death. Forever.

So when your smile returns, and it will, that joy-filled-glow will radiate from deep in your soul and will give praise, honor, and glory to God and to The Lamb.

“The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart; and devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from evil, he enters into peace; they rest in their beds, each one who walked in his upright way” (Isaiah 57:1-2 NAS).

If you have lost a child, a month ago, two years ago, or twenty years ago, and you are still struggling with grief, I urge you to go to www.griefshare.org and click on Find-A-Group. GriefShare offers practical, everyday helps in dealing with the issues we all face when losing a loved one. Please find a GriefShare group near you today and go for help, hope and comfort.

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Those of you who follow my blog know my husband and I lost a daughter eleven years ago. Michelle’s death plunged us into deep, inky waters of grief. While struggling just to survive we were blind-sided by Grief’s ugly-step-sisters—Secondary Losses.

Grief is an unwelcome guest who stays much too long, not pretty at all, who plunges the family into chaos. But Secondary Losses are the evil relatives of Grief that slip in the back-door and linger forever. They litter the landscape with shrapnel-sized-shards of anguish that are often as difficult to deal with as the original loss.

Worse yet, they lurk behind the shadow of family members, good friends, even making appearances at happy events. Ever waiting to earn the greatest buck-for-the-bang and then they implode. The injuries they inflict are not terminal, but often perpetrate permanent disabilities upon their victims.

So what in the world are secondary losses?

Well, they’re certainly not bashful. Their name shouts their identity—a related loss that evolves out of the original loss. An additional loss that strikes when you least expect it, when you are most vulnerable.

Like the granddaughter whose grandmother died this year. Her Mimi was the glue that held the family together. Several weeks after her death, grandpa announced he wanted all her stuff out of the house and wanted nothing to do with the rest of the family. Ever. No more Sunday dinners at grandma’s. No more visiting the home that stored a lifetime of memories for this teen. No more relationship with the grandfather she had loved. Three secondary losses that left this grandchild shattered.

When an infant dies, the parents loose their future—their dreams. There will be no first steps, first words. No smiles or hugs. No first day at school. The list multiplies. For years after a baby’s tragic demise, secondary losses accumulate, building a wall of separation and blame between the couple. Unless the grieving couple gets help, more often than not, their marriage disintegrates.

When a husband or wife dies the spouse will most likely remarry. The family is swept up in a reconstruction zone. Where the flood waters of grief mix with the dust of new construction and can cause a murky mess.  Often there are too many in-laws for the new mom or dad to deal with. These secondary relational losses impact everyone—kids, grandparents, aunts, uncles and yes, sometimes even family friends. Holidays, birthdays, and special events change or are forever lost.

The loss of an older child results in the loss of an expected future for the entire family. The role that child played in the family circle sits vacant. For siblings, it’s a wrenching or splitting apart of the oneness that brothers and sisters enjoy that leaves them empty. Half of a whole. If the siblings were twins, many more layers are involved.

The aging process robs us of our parents. While they may be sick and ready to leave this life, there are secondary losses even with an expected departure. You and I are moved up—next in line. We unwillingly become the matriarchs and patriarchs of the family. The structure of the family changes. Everything changes. And we don’t like change.

So what are we to do with these loose strings of grief that tangle, knot, and upset our lives? Are we doomed to a life of grief? No. Not at all. But we must travel those dark corridors. Not climbing over, tunneling under, nor sneaking around the pain. We must work through the grief. And it is work. Left to itself, grief will make you bitter. With God’s help and comfort you will become better. But it’s your choice.

We must understand and accept that it is alright to grieve. It is necessary to grieve. It is normal to grieve. And yes, Christians must grieve. Grief is the normal reaction when someone we love dies.   

Tears are the safety valve God has given the pressure cooker of our injured hearts and our shattered dreams. I tell my GriefShare folks they  must cry 5,395 times during this sorrowful journey, so they’d best get started. Scripture tells us God saves our tears in a bottle. (NAS Psalm 56:8).

Strength and ability to endure great tragedy and loss comes from the power of God, through the Word of God, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. There is no true healing from this traumatic life experience outside of the touch of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Oh, you can stuff your agony into the depths of your heart. But I promise you, if you bury grief alive, there will be a resurrection one day, and it won’t be pretty.

So let’s determine to walk together in this wretched journey for the next few weeks and I’ll introduce you to several prescriptions that will bring you safely to the other side of this horrendous event, if you’ll follow the Great Physician’s orders.

Prescription #1 – GriefShare is a Christ based support group that is a safe place to empty all the pain and anguish threatening to drown you. Go online to www.GriefShare.org and click Find A Group to locate a group near you.

Next week we’ll talk about how to manage those nasty secondary losses.

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We purchased a home in Texas where four pear trees stood like sentinels between the sidewalk and the road. It was September and the trees had pears on them. Mmm, I could taste the soon-to-be pear preserves. There was not an abundant harvest that year, but the trees were young and there would always be next year.

The following spring there were few buds and the sprouting leaves unfurled to reveal withered, yellow-brown ones instead of the expected abundance of spring green.

Being city folks we checked with a neighbor. He suspected root knot and said the only choice was to cut them down and dig up the trunks and roots. Sure enough, his diagnosis was correct. The roots were knotted and dying.

Growing trees in Texas is a challenge. It takes a hardy tree to withstand our heat and long dry spells and the belligerent soil was certainly no help. The ground turns to mush after a good rain, then hard as rock the day after. And, then it dries up, cracks open, leaving bottomless craters in the landscape.

With this wild fluctuation, roots can’t form the necessary network to support the weight of the tree. Like our pear trees, if roots aren’t healthy, the tree will die.

But isn’t that true with of all of us? When my foundation isn’t strong and healthy in the Lord, my roots aren’t able to support and sustain me during the storms of life. I will be like a tree, twisted and broken, possibly uprooted when winds begin to blow.

Many of us travel through life with root-knotted hearts caused by unresolved abuse, injury or grief.  Pain of fear and loneliness that has pressed down on us, layer upon layer for years. Pain of guilt sequestered in dark corners of our hearts. Pain of anger left to fester and seep poison into every area of our lives and relationships.

Unlike root-knotted trees, root-knotted hearts can be healed. The Lord created our hearts for eternity. He alone can cure the diseases we bury deep inside. But we must expose each one of them to the brilliant light and healing balm of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Word of God will be the water, the fertilizer, and the stimulator that encourages new roots to develop and grow. God stimulated roots that will anchor us in the flowing river of His love. Strong roots that will carry His healing power to transform our hearts.

I know well the misery of famished roots, stunted growth, slow death. For much of my life there were gnarled layers of anger and anguish lurking in the dark chambers of my heart. Scarred roots entombed in my subconscious.

Until the moment of my daughter’s death.

My heart exploded like a shaken-up can of soda pop. Those acid strings of heartache and turmoil I had stifled so many years ago now resurrected the ghosts of injuries past—abuse by an uncle in my childhood, lies, unrealistic expectations, verbal and emotional abuse from a spouse, divorce, four deaths in three years—all beyond my ability to deal with. The abuses and sorrows trampled over me and I had no strength to shove them back into the crevices where I’d kept them hidden for more than forty years.

They had to be dug-up, one infected root at a time. Just like I had to dig up those pear trees. The good news for me—Jesus will not throw me on the trash heap like I threw those trees, nor does He play the three strikes—you’re out game. No. He tells me to bring my anguish and afflictions to Him, with open hands, and leave them there. On the altar. In the care of my loving and righteous and just God who will deal with the pain, with the cause, and with me in a loving, righteous, and just manner. Then He will wash me and fill me with His joy. His hope.

I encourage you to ask the Spirit of God to bring to your mind those debilitating wounds tucked into the hidden hide-outs of your heart so that you can surrender every heartache and shame to the One who created you, loves you, and longs to heal you.

            “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3 KJ).

                       

 

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