Laudable Linkage

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Here are several thought-provoking reads found in the last week or so.

Every Testimony Is Dramatic and Miraculous. “There is nothing basic or boring about the life-transforming power of our Lord Jesus Christ. The angels throw a party every time someone comes to Christ, and the parties aren’t less enthusiastic for the freckle-faced eight year olds. Salvation is never small. It is big and dramatic and miraculous, every single time.”

Is Prayer Enough?

What Jesus Said About White Privilege.

7 Stabilizing Principles in a Chaotic World, Part 3: Everyone Is Made in the Image of God. Even the people on the other side of the political fence or the ones who drive us crazy. And we “need to treat everybody—everybody—with that kind of respect.”

How You Might Break the Third Commandment in Church, HT to Challies.

What to Do When a Friend Loses a Baby, HT to True Woman. Much of this is good for other types of loss as well.

Give Children All of Your Attention. Some of the Time. HT to True Woman. I remember  as a young mom struggling with guilt when I did not give my children my full attention, yet feeling it was good for them to learn to entertain themselves sometimes. I thought of women in Bible times or even a couple of hundred years ago who had to do so much from scratch and could not have possibly sat on the floor playing with their children eight hours a day. But it is good to set everything aside for one-on-one time together sometimes. This post has some good thoughts along these lines.

How to Leave Porn Behind, HT to True Woman. Good thoughts on “radical repentance” for any sin.

3 Reasons Contemporary Worship Is Declining, and What We Can Do to Help the Church Move On. I don’t agree with every point here, but I especially like this: “We’ve done ourselves and the church a disservice by insisting that there are two kinds of worshipers, traditional and contemporary…Our musical tastes don’t dictate how we worship, our theology does. Both of these extremes are toxic. All worship is historic because it recalls the creative and redemptive acts of God. All worship is contemporary, because we’re doing it now. All worship is future, because it foretells the coming resurrection.”

And, finally, a smile found on Pinterest. This is close to how I really think now, except I say 20. 🙂

Happy Saturday!

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Laudable Linkage

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Here’s my latest round-up of noteworthy reads on the Web:

How to Shipwreck Your Theology. ““What is the most brilliant theology good for if it is to be shipwrecked in one’s own house?”

Maybe Women are Some of the Worst Offenders.

9 Things to Know About a Widow’s Grief.

Love Letter to a Lesbian, HT to True Woman, from a former lesbian.

“Let Me Know How I Can Help!” (This Will, Because They Won’t), HT to Linda. Practical ways to ask for or offer help in a time of need.

How Breastfeeding Changed My View of God, HT to True Woman. “God’s love for us is no Hallmark sentiment. This image is not primarily a celebration of our newborn cuteness…Rather, this verse reveals God’s hard-won, self-giving, dogged commitment to our good, a refusal to let us go—however frustrating we become, an insistence on seeing his image in us—and a painful provision for our most desperate need.”

C. S. Lewis’s Wonderful Letters to Children. I love his manner with them.

A Pathway to a Full Life.

This is cool and somewhat mesmerizing to watch: magnetism in slow motion, HT to The Story Warren:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

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It’s been quite a while since I have been able to share with you some interesting reading I’ve found online the past few weeks. So here goes:

What Grieving People Wish You Knew at Christmas. “For those who’ve recently lost someone they love, the holidays can seem more like something to survive than to enjoy.” That’s true for other holidays and occasions besides Christmas and for other losses or hard times as well.

We Need to Talk About Church Scheduling.

How Not to Parent a Strong-willed Child.

Honoring the Dishonorable. How do we honor parents when they act in ways undeserving of it?

Taking Back Christianese” “America Is a Christian Nation

Dear Women’s Ministry: Stop Telling Me I’m Beautiful. “The question is not whether or not these things are true, but whether or not this is the most important message women need to hear.”

This is the time of year a lot of people rededicate themselves to reading their Bibles, so there have been a lot of articles touching on that:

One Reason to Dedicate Yourself to Bible Reading in 2017.

4 Reasons to Have a Quiet Time.

5 Ways Daily Bible Reading Impacts Your Life.

3 Fresh Ideas for Improving Your Bible Reading in 2017. Love the opening sentences here: “I am still blown away by the idea that the God of the universe wants to communicate with us on a daily basis and that he has chose to do so in this miraculous book we call the Bible. Historically—both the history it contains and the history of its shaping and transmission in the community of faith—it is astounding. Literarily it is magnificently crafted. Narratively it is riveting, and poetically it is breath-taking. Theologically it is deeply grounding, and practically it is life-altering.”

3 Tips For Reading the OT like a Christian. Helpful for times like when you get bogged down in Leviticus.

A 5-Day Bible Reading Plan. Nice because it gives you some leeway for those times when the unexpected comes up.

And, finally, I could have used this tip when singing soprano in the choir. 🙂 I like how they keep a straight face through it all:

Happy first Saturday of 2017!

Laudable Linkage

It has been a few weeks since I have been able to share with you some interesting things found around the internet. Perhaps you’ll find something of interest in the following:

3 Things to Tell Yourself When Others Prosper While You Suffer.

Thank God for Your Normal, Boring Life.

Grieving Over the Holidays – What You Need to Know.

14 Reasons to Memorize an Entire Book of the Bible. Though some of this addressed to preachers, other parts of it are applicable to us all.

“Mama, What Does $*@#%! Mean?” Wise advice for how to handle those times when, no matter how protective you’ve been, your child overhears a bad word.

Why I Show Children Hospitality (Even Though I Am Not a Parent), HT to The Story Warren.

Please Don’t Be Intolerant. As Inigo Montoya says, I think many people use that word without knowing what it really means.

You keep using that word...

Why Readers Are Skipping Crucial Parts of Your Story.

The Most Instagrammed Location In Every State.

12 Ridiculously Warm Products For People Who Are Always Ridiculously Cold. I am usually warmer than everyone else, but I know people who are always cold and could use some of these.

There were so many more Write 31 Days series than I could possibly read, and I dipped in here and there with quite a few, but a few I kept up with almost daily were:

Tools to Memorize a Bible Chapter.

31 Days of Hope for Caregivers.

31 Glimpses Into the Unquiet Mind. A mother and daughter share the daughter’s journey with bipolar disorder and the long journey to diagnosis and treatment.

31 Uplifting Quote Graphics.

31 Ways to Snag a Literary Agent.

Happy Saturday!

Grieving at Christmas

I wrote this a few years ago and have reposted it a couple of times. I probably won’t do so every year, but this year several friends have lost loved ones, and the first Christmas without them can be very hard. Maybe this will help. I’ve edited it a bit so the time frames are current. I also shared a bit from this and added some different thoughts in Christmas Grief, Christmas Hope for a newspaper column I was contributing to a  a couple of years ago.
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December could be a rather gloomy month for my family. My mother passed away Dec. 10 nine years ago, my father Dec. 12 sixteen years ago, and my grandmother Christmas Eve a few years prior to that, leading my brother to exclaim once that he just wanted to cancel the whole month. In more recent years the husband of a good college friend passed away in December 21 on our anniversary, and our family dog died the same day.

The death of a loved any any time of year can shadow the whole Christmas season as we miss our normal interactions with that loved one, and several years later, though maybe the pangs aren’t quite as sharp, they’re still there, and it’s not abnormal to be caught off guard by a memory or a longing leading to a good crying jag.

When someone is grieving over the holidays, they may not want to participate in some of the “normal” happy pastimes. It’s not that they don’t ever laugh or enjoy gatherings. But as Sherry said yesterday, “I am enjoying the traditional holiday celebrations, and at the same time they move me to tears, sad tears for things that have been lost this year. I am singing the music, and yet I’m tired of the froth of jingling bells and pa-rumpumpum.” I remember almost wishing that we still observed periods of mourning with wearing black or some sign of “Grief in progress” — not to rain on anyone else’s good time, but just to let people know there was woundedness under the surface, and just as physical wounds need tenderness while healing, so do emotional ones. Normally I love baby and bridal showers and make it a point to attend, but for several months after my mom’s death I did not want to go to them. I rejoiced with those who rejoiced…but just did not want to rejoice in quite that way. I first heard the news of my mom’s death during our adult Sunday School Christmas party, and the next year I just did not want to attend – the grief was still too close to the surface and would probably erupt in that setting where I first heard the news. Even just three years ago when our ladies’ Christmas party was on the anniversary of my mom’s death, I was concerned that at some point during the evening I would have to find the restroom and lock myself in to release some tears (though thankfully that did not happen).

Other events can cast a pall over Christmas: illness, job loss, a family estrangement, etc. One Christmas we were all sick as dogs, and my father-in-law had just had a major health crisis and wanted us to come up from SC to ID to visit. There was just no way we could drag ourselves onto a plane until antibiotics had kicked in a few days later, but we did go, and if I remember correctly, that was the last time any of us except my husband saw him alive, so in retrospect we were glad we went, though it wasn’t the merriest of Christmases. A good friend grieved over “ruining” her family’s Christmas by being in the hospital with a severe kidney infection. Lizzie wrote about visiting her husband in prison for Christmas. Quilly commented yesterday about being homeless one Christmas. Yet both Lizzie and Quilly mentioned reasons for rejoicing in the midst of those circumstances.

If you’re grieving this Christmas, don’t feel guilty if you’re not quite into the “froth” this year (on the other hand, don’t feel guilty for enjoying it, either).  One quote I shared on a Week In Words post earlier had to do with giving yourself time to heal. There may be times to go through with the holiday festivities for family’s sake — and, truly, those times can help keep you from the doldrums. Sherry shared how making a list of reasons to celebrate Christmas helped. Look for the good things to rejoice in. Don’t let the grief turn you into  Scrooge who hates Christmas: your loved one who is gone wouldn’t want that to happen. I think they’d probably prefer you celebrate in their memory and enjoy the best parts of the season while still remembering them in it. E-mom left a valuable comment yesterday that we can treasure up the memories of good Christmases to tide us over the not so good ones, and then look forward to better things ahead. And as I said yesterday, remember that the first Christmas was not all about the froth, either, but was messy, lonely, and painful, yet out of it was born the Savior of the world and the hope of mankind. Rejoice in that hope and promise. Draw near to Him who has borne our griefs and carries our sorrows until grief and sorrow are done away forever.

Absent From the Body, Present With the Lord

My pastor, who has been battling pancreatic cancer the last few months, passed away last night.

It’s been hard to know how to pray the last few weeks as we’ve seen the effects of cancer continually decimate his body. We wanted him to have as many days with his family as possible, but we didn’t want him to have to suffer any more than necessary. My youngest son has frequently prayed that Pastor “would have as many good days as possible,” which I thought was probably the best way to pray in addition to asking for God’s will and grace for him and his family and all those who loved him.

As people arrived for prayer meeting last night, a few men were stationed at the church doors and would go out to greet people individually as they approached the building to let them know Pastor had passed away just a short time before. That was probably the best way to handle it rather than waiting for everyone to come in and then starting the evening with a shock moment, or having someone who didn’t know accidentally overhear it mentioned in the conversation of someone who did. This way everyone had a moment to react, absorb the news, and collect their thoughts for a moment before going in, and we could start the service more or less on the same page. One of our assistant pastors led us in singing a song Pastor Tom had requested often lately, “O The Deep, Deep Love.” Another of our men shared some Scripture, someone prayed, people in the congregation were given opportunity to  share Scripture that was comforting to them, we broke up into smaller groups to pray, and we sang “O The Deep, Deep Love” one more time.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

The comforting and sharing have continued through the night and into this morning on Facebook. It has been a great blessing to me, and I am sure to many others, as we’ve shared with each other through this journey, particularly in the last several hours. This extension of community has been both comforting and edifying as I’ve seen photos and read various thoughts, memories, Scriptures, and bits of song that people have shared.

I’ve only known Pastor Tom for four years. Two main things stand out to me about himself as a person and his ministry. One, he continually led (even gently pushed) us to be deeply grounded in the Bible and in our relationship to God: to see Him in the Scriptures, not to “surface” read the Bible or pray in cliches. He constantly encouraged us to make it real and make it deep. Secondly, he had a true pastor’s heart. He deeply cared for his people, would be with them through any trial as much as he could. When we came forward at the end of a service to join the church, my mother-in-law was with us in her wheelchair. He got down on one knee to speak to her face to face and tell her how he wanted to be her pastor. When my husband was facing his kidney surgery (they joked about being in the “one kidney club” – Pastor also had a kidney removed when he was younger), we had told him that I’d probably be more comfortable getting lost in a book while waiting than having someone outside the family with me – then I’d feel pressured to keep a conversation going. He understood. But he showed up at the hospital in the early hours just as we arrived and signed in, and we had a few minutes to chat and pray before we were called back. That meant a lot to both of us.

Two verses came to mind as we shared during prayer meeting last night. One was shared with me when my mother passed away and it ministered to me greatly then: Psalm 119:76: “Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.” This, among other things, is what I pray for Pastor Tom’s family. I am so thankful he was able to walk his two older daughters down the aisle at their weddings this summer and that they were all able to be there when he passed. Though we “sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (I Thessalonians 4:13), we do sorrow, “Sorrowing most of all …that they should see his face no more” (Acts 20:38) until we join him there. I know I felt it was much too soon when my mother passed away in her 60s: I can imagine that feeling is even more magnified when a father and husband passes away in his early 50s. Even trusting that this is God’s will and plan and rejoicing that he is with his Savior and out of pain, it still hurts in a way that only God can heal. Death is called an enemy (I Corinthians 15:26), and though its sting is removed and it’s “swallowed up in victory” (I Corinthians 15:54-57), grief is wrenching, and I pray for His special kindness and comfort for them and our church in the days and months to come.

The second was the verse I did share last night: not long before His own death, Jesus prayed, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). That’s where Pastor Tom is now – with Him who loved him since before he was even born, where he is, beholding His glory. Though we miss him, we rejoice and look forward to joining him there.

Craigs

I once scorned ev’ry fearful thought of death,
When it was but the end of pulse and breath,
But now my eyes have seen that past the pain
There is a world that’s waiting to be claimed.
Earthmaker, Holy, let me now depart,
For living’s such a temporary art.
And dying is but getting dressed for God,
Our graves are merely doorways cut in sod.

 Calvin Miller

When you sailors see the haven before you, though you were mightily troubled before you could see any land, yet when you come near the shore and can see a certain land-mark, that contents you greatly. A godly man in the midst of the waves and storms that he meets with can see the glory of heaven before him and so contents himself. One drop of the sweetness of heaven is enough to take away all the sourness and bitterness of all the afflictions in the world. ~ Jeremiah Burroughs

Christmas Grief

I first wrote this three years ago, but I’ve reposted it before and am doing so again this year, because it seems like almost every year I run into someone having a hard time over the holidays, and maybe this will help. I’ve edited it a bit so the time frames are current.
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Grave at Christmas

December could be a rather gloomy month for my family. My mother passed away Dec. 10 eight years ago, my father Dec. 12 fifteen years ago, and my grandmother Christmas Eve a few years prior to that, leading my brother to exclaim once that he just wanted to cancel the whole month. In more recent years the husband of a good college friend passed away in December 21 on our anniversary, and our family dog died the same day.

The death of a loved any any time of year can shadow the whole Christmas season as we miss our normal interactions with that loved one, and several years later, though maybe the pangs aren’t quite as sharp, they’re still there, and it’s not abnormal to be caught off guard by a memory or a longing leading to a good crying jag.

When someone is grieving over the holidays, they may not want to participate in some of the “normal” happy pastimes. It’s not that they don’t ever laugh or enjoy gatherings. But as Sherry said yesterday, “I am enjoying the traditional holiday celebrations, and at the same time they move me to tears, sad tears for things that have been lost this year. I am singing the music, and yet I’m tired of the froth of jingling bells and pa-rumpumpum.” I remember almost wishing that we still observed periods of mourning with wearing black or some sign of “Grief in progress” — not to rain on anyone else’s good time, but just to let people know there was woundedness under the surface, and just as physical wounds need tenderness while healing, so do emotional ones. Normally I love baby and bridal showers and make it a point to attend, but for several months after my mom’s death I did not want to go to them. I rejoiced with those who rejoiced…but just did not want to rejoice in quite that way. I first heard the news of my mom’s death during our adult Sunday School Christmas party, and the next year I just did not want to attend – the grief was still too close to the surface and would probably erupt in that setting where I first heard the news. Even just three years ago when our ladies’ Christmas party was on the anniversary of my mom’s death, I was concerned that at some point during the evening I would have to find the restroom and lock myself in to release some tears (though thankfully that did not happen).

Other events can cast a pall over Christmas: illness, job loss, a family estrangement, etc. One Christmas we were all sick as dogs, and my father-in-law had just had a major health crisis and wanted us to come up from SC to ID to visit. There was just no way we could drag ourselves onto a plane until antibiotics had kicked in a few days later, but we did go, and if I remember correctly, that was the last time any of us except my husband saw him alive, so in retrospect we were glad we went, though it wasn’t the merriest of Christmases. A good friend grieved over “ruining” her family’s Christmas by being in the hospital with a severe kidney infection. Lizzie wrote about visiting her husband in prison for Christmas. Quilly commented yesterday about being homeless one Christmas. Yet both Lizzie and Quilly mentioned reasons for rejoicing in the midst of those circumstances.

If you’re grieving this Christmas, don’t feel guilty if you’re not quite into the “froth” this year.  One quote I shared on a Week In Words post earlier had to do with giving yourself time to heal. On the other hand, there may be times to go through with the holiday festivities for family’s sake — and, truly, those times can help keep you from the doldrums. Sherry shared how making a list of reasons to celebrate Christmas helped. Look for the good things to rejoice in. Don’t let the grief turn you into a Scrooge who hates Christmas: your loved one who is gone probably wouldn’t want that to happen. I think they’d probably prefer that you  enjoy the best parts of the season while still remembering them in it. E-mom left a valuable comment yesterday that we can treasure up the memories of good Christmases to tide us over the not so good ones, and then look forward to better things ahead. And as I said yesterday, remember that the first Christmas was not all about the froth, either, but was messy, lonely, and painful, yet out of it was born the Savior of the world and the hope of mankind. Rejoice in that hope and promise. Draw near to Him who has borne our griefs and carries our sorrows until grief and sorrow are done away forever.

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Missing My Mom

It was 7 years ago today that my husband and I were at a Sunday School Christmas party and received a phone call from home to call my sister who had been trying to reach us. We glanced at our cell phones and saw we had missed multiple calls, hadn’t heard them over the conversations. We thought, “Oh, no, Mom must be in the hospital again.” My mom had been hospitalized with congestive heart failure several times. But, no, this time the stunning news was that my mom had passed away suddenly due to a massive heart attack.

You can imagine the awful time that followed — the sadness, the tears, the scrambling to get a flight to TX, and so on. In many ways that was one of the worst weeks of my life.

But even in the midst of tragedy, we saw God’s hand of blessing in many ways (I wrote in more detail about it here):

  • My mom had not wanted to die in the hospital or to die alone: she died in a car with my sister and nephew.
  • Many people extended themselves to show love and support in many ways.
  • We had treasured time with immediate and extended family.
  • My former pastor was asked to conduct the funeral and shared a wonderful and tender message of the gospel.
  • I had prayed for God to send Christian people  across my mom’s path and was warmed to hear people saying “Amen” and “That’s right” during the message at the funeral.
  • It was the first time we had left Jeremy home alone for several days. He was in the midst of college finals. He did fine even amidst the power going off in an ice storm.
  • When we got back in the midst of said ice storm we had to go pick up Jason from the college dorms (he stayed in the dorms that year while Jeremy commuted from home), about 20 minutes one way to get him and then about 30 or more to get back home, and made it safely.

Days like today, her birthday, Mother’s Day, and odd moments in-between will always have their pangs, their intense moments of missing her. Last year I reposted Christmas Grief, focusing on getting through the holiday “froth” when you’re not really feeling holiday cheer, and also last year I was able to do a newspaper column on Christmas Grief, Christmas Hope, focusing more on the hope we can cling to of seeing our loved ones again because Jesus died to redeem us. I wanted to mention those for anyone else having a hard time this season. Thankfully these losses don’t overshadow the season like they did at first, but they do provide some moments to pause and reflect and remember.

 

Christmas Grief

December could be a rather gloomy month for my family. My mother passed away Dec. 10 five years ago, my father Dec. 12 a few years earlier, and my grandmother Christmas Eve a few years prior to that, leading my brother to exclaim once that he just wanted to cancel the whole month.

The death of a loved any any time of year can shadow the whole Christmas season as we miss our normal interactions with that loved one, and several years later, though maybe the pangs aren’t quite as sharp, they’re still there, and it’s not abnormal to be caught off guard by a memory or a longing leading to a good crying jag.

When someone is grieving over the holidays, they may not want to participate in some of the “normal” happy pastimes. It’s not that they don’t ever laugh or enjoy gatherings. But as Sherry said yesterday, “I am enjoying the traditional holiday celebrations, and at the same time they move me to tears, sad tears for things that have been lost this year. I am singing the music, and yet I’m tired of the froth of jingling bells and pa-rumpumpum.” I remember almost wishing that we still observed periods of mourning with wearing black or some sign of “Grief in progress” — not to rain on anyone else’s good time, but just to let people know there was woundedness under the surface, and just as physical wounds need tenderness while healing, so do emotional ones. Normally I love baby and bridal showers and make it a point to attend, but for several months after my mom’s death I did not want to go to them. I rejoiced with those who rejoiced…but just did not want to rejoice in quite that way. I first heard the news of my mom’s death during our adult Sunday School Christmas party, and the next year I just did not want to attend. Even this year, when our ladies’ Christmas party was on the anniversary of my mom’s death, I was concerned that at some point during the evening I would have to find the restroom and lock myself in to release some tears (though thankfully that did not happen).

Other events can cast a pall over Christmas: illness, job loss, a family estrangement, etc. One Christmas we were all sick as dogs, and my father-in-law had just had a major health crisis and wanted us to come up from SC to ID to visit. There was just no way we could drag ourselves onto a plane until antibiotics had kicked in a few days later, but we did go, and if I remember correctly, that was the last time any of us except my husband saw him alive, so in retrospect we were glad we went, though it wasn’t the merriest of Christmases. A good friend grieved over “ruining” her family’s Christmas by being in the hospital with a severe kidney infection. Lizzie wrote about visiting her husband in prison for Christmas. Quilly commented yesterday about being homeless one Christmas. Yet both Lizzie and Quilly mentioned reasons for rejoicing in the midst of those circumstances.

If you’re grieving this Christmas, don’t feel guilty if you’re not quite into the “froth” this year.  One quote I shared on a Week In Words post earlier had to do with giving yourself time to heal. On the other hand, there may be times to go through with the holiday festivities for family’s sake — and, truly, those times can help keep you from the doldrums. Sherry shared how making a list of reasons to celebrate Christmas helped. Look for the good things to rejoice in. E-mom left a valuable comment yesterday that we can treasure up the memories of good Christmases to tide us over the not so good ones, and then look forward to better things ahead. And as I said yesterday, remember that the first Christmas was not all about the froth, either, but was messy, lonely, and painful, yet out of it was born the Savior of the world and the hope of mankind. Rejoice in that hope and promise. Draw near to Him who has borne our griefs and carries our sorrows until grief and sorrow are done away forever.