Lest we forget

blogShanksville pixSeptember 11, 2001 is a day Americans will never forget. It’s a date ingrained in our minds like December 7, 1941, that peaceful Sunday when the United States was attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbor.     

People ask one another, “Where were you when the planes hit the twin towers?” just like they ask (if you’re old enough), “What were you doing when President Kennedy was assassinated?”

Thinking back to any of those shocking days evokes deep-rooted but raw emotions.  As we remember the 10th anniversary of one of the most frightening days we’ve experienced as a nation, I believe words cannot adequately express the feelings and emotions many of us vividly recall.

My family did not experience personal loss that day, but the magnitude of the loss of others affected us in such a profound way.  A family friend worked at the Pentagon,  but blessedly escaped harm.  A couple of my family have visited Ground Zero in New York since that fateful day, but I have not.

Traveling through Pennsylvania on vacation two years after the attack, our family found our way to the crash site of Flight 93 in Shanksville.    We parked our car in a gravel lot and quietly stepped out of the vehicle.  As soon as my feet touched the soil there, I felt an indescribable wave of sorrow wash over me, and I fought to restrain sobs of grief that battled my restriction and seemed desperate to escape from my throat.

As we walked toward the many makeshift memorials left there by thousands of visitors, there wasn’t a sound.  No one spoke.  Everyone there just silently viewed the surroundings or quietly asked a question from the volunteer who manned the site.

Nature had healed the field where the crash took place and it was recovered with grass.   You wouldn’t have realized a jet liner crash once had scarred the landscape if you hadn’t known what took place there.

But a huge wall attached to chain link fencing told the story.  Even now, I struggle with words to adequately describe it and what my family felt that summer day in 2003 when we visited.  So I offer as a means of remembrance this picture I took back then of the ‘memorial wall’ erected in a field near the small town of Shanksville.

For the families of those lost in the catastrophe 10 years ago, the survivors, and the valiant and heroic responders, I remember you this day on Page 11, Chapter 9, of my book called Opportunity and I keep you in my prayers.  May God give you comfort and peace this day.

©2011mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Mystery man, I hardly knew you

The only picture I have of this uncle

The only picture I have of this uncle

His real name was Arnold, but he answered to other names.  Some people called him Jim, some named him Skis, but I never knew why.   He was different, a little odd – definitely marched to the beat of a different drummer than most folks.

As far as I know, he never drove a car.  For certain, he didn’t own one.  Instead he walked everywhere he went or hitched a ride with someone.  He never married.  He stayed with relatives and for only a short time had a place of his own.

I don’t know what jobs he ever held, if any.  I suspect he just took odd jobs here and there whenever someone offered him some honest way to make a little cash.  He never had much money, which was evident.

He didn’t have many words to say either.  Every once in a while, he’d mutter something that you’d have to really strain to hear.  You couldn’t tell what he was thinking or feeling because for the most part he guarded his thoughts and words, probably because he had been ridiculed on one too many occasions.

He was a mystery to me.  Part of me was a tiny bit afraid of him, yet part of me wanted to get to know this strange man.  He was my uncle, my father’s older brother.

By the time I was born, he was middle-aged, but I always thought of him as an old man.  Many years ago, he passed away, but for some reason, this eccentric relative crosses my mind lately.

My husband and I lived in another state when my parents called to tell me that this uncle had died.   I don’t imagine many people  – other than a few relatives – attended the viewing or funeral.  My uncle didn’t appear to have friends.  Living so far away, I couldn’t attend either, and after the phone call announcing Uncle’s death, I felt like weeping.

Weeping for a man who no one, including me, really knew…or understood…or took the time to know or understand.  And that made me incredibly sad.

My family alluded to his being a little “off,” maybe a mental illness or a nervous breakdown, but I never knew the real story.  He often just showed up at our house unannounced, never strayed beyond the kitchen, never accepted the invitation to sit on the good furniture in the living room.

He’d only sit in a kitchen chair a few minutes, then jump up, pace back and forth, jingle coins in his pants pocket, look out the kitchen door, and then mumble, “See you” and he’d depart.  My mother, who treated him kindly but found him exasperating sometimes, would shake her head after he left, say “That man’s too nervous,” and continue whatever she was doing.

Sometimes he appeared at the kitchen door holding out in silent offering a honey comb from the bees that he kept.  I know he had discussions with my father, his younger brother, but for the life of me, I can’t remember one thing they ever talked about around our kitchen table.

A few vivid memories of Uncle from my childhood linger in my mind.  A tiny trickle of water ran through a marshy area on our property with weeds, cat tails, and reeds growing around it then into a culvert under the road.  In the spring, the little stream rushed with extra water from melting snows and rain.

I loved launching little plastic toy boats into the upper part of the steam and watching them sail under the road into our neighbor’s yard.   One day, shod in my rubber boots, I trampled through the weeds to find the perfect spot to set a boat adrift.   Uncle showed up, asked me what I was doing and growled, “You better watch out for copperheads.”

Snakes?  The thought had never occurred to me, let alone poisonous ones.  I gingerly picked up my boat, recoiled from the swampy area, and marched back inside, a little angry that he had spoiled my fun.   My 10-year-old mind was divided about his warning.  Part of me wanted to call him a silly old fool, but part of me believed him and thought he was looking out for my safety.

Another memory I harbor is of Uncle watching my father take pictures with his movie camera.   One spring the huge lilac bush in our back yard was lush with fragrant blooms. Dad grabbed the camera to take pictures and told me to get in the shot too.

As soon as I moved to the bush, Uncle bent a branch down low and near to me so blossoming flowers would be in the picture with me.  But he didn’t want my father to take his picture, just like the reclusive uncle not wanting to be noticed.   And I realize today that I have only one picture of this uncle when he was a young man.

My parents and I lived in what once was my paternal grandparents’ house.  When I was growing up, Uncle lived much of the time with his oldest brother, another of my uncles, whose home had a perfect view of ours.  Uncle seemed drawn back to his childhood abode – our house – but never visited us for very long.

I often wonder if Uncle just couldn’t bring himself to stay long in our house because all the memories of childhood and particularly his deceased family overwhelmed him.  As a toddler, he lost a brother to leukemia.  His father, my grandfather, died when Uncle was eight.  His only sister succumbed to cancer.   Uncle lived with my grandmother until she passed away, and then middle-aged Uncle was basically left alone.

I know he didn’t deal well with death because I witnessed that first-hand.   Uncle stayed with his elderly aunt and uncle from time to time, who lost their home to a fire.   A few years later,  his aunt – my great-aunt – passed away.   It was summer and I was home from college at the time.  My uncle showed up at our house, plopped down at the kitchen table, and did something he rarely did.

He looked straight at me and asked a question, “Are you going to town today?”

I looked back at him, noticed his weepy-looking eyes and answered hesitantly,  “Noooo…I wasn’t planning on it.”

“Okay,” he answered, jumping up and starting for the kitchen door.

“Wait a minute,” I stopped him.  “Do you need something?”  I felt really sorry for him for some reason.

“I just wondered if you’d get me a new white shirt to wear to the funeral home,” he replied. “But never mind.”

I was actually impressed that he wanted to look presentable to go to Great Aunt’s viewing, so I told him I would run his errand for him.  Did he want to go along?  A brief look of panic crossed his face as he pressed some money into my hand, muttered his shirt size, and darted out the door.

That evening, looking uncomfortable in his stiff, new white shirt and tie, Uncle sat alone in a corner of a far room at the funeral home.  No one really seemed to notice him; no one seemed to care to speak with him.

I quietly sat down beside him, noticed he looked upset, and asked if he was all right.  He nodded his head yes, then hung his head and that’s when I noticed huge, quiet tears streaming down his face.   It occurred to me that when Great Aunt died, he again lost one of the few people who probably were ever kind to him, one of the people he loved.

Because of his odd ways, people tended to shun him.   And I was just as guilty as they were.  But that evening was a turning point for me because that’s when I began to view this strange uncle as a real person with real hurts, fears, and the capacity to love.  And I wept there with him, not so much for Great Aunt but for him.  Years later, I again wept when Uncle left this world alone.

Even now, 30 plus years after his death, tears well up in my eyes as I think of this misunderstood uncle, lost in the world’s shuffle, that few people may even remember.  Today I wish I had taken the time to really explore his life, ask him questions, and try to understand him.

Opportunities present themselves to us every day, often we just aren’t wise enough to embrace them at the time.  When we realize we missed the chance to touch someone’s life in a positive way, it’s too late to make amends.

On this beautiful day, Page 18, Chapter 8, in my life’s book of Opportunity, I remember you, Uncle, but you’ll always be a mystery to me.

© 2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

A life cut short

pexels-photo-132037.jpegMy heart’s been heavily burdened the last few days. 

One family’s sorrow is great this week and the sadness they bear touches my heart.

One minute a young man was embarked on a new adventure, with direction for a bright future.  The next minute he was gone.

That’s how quickly a life can be snuffed out.  In an instant, without warning, sometimes without making any sense at all to those left behind, a loved son, brother, grandson, friend leaves this world.

I learned this week that a fine, respectable, sincere young man who represented all that is right about the next generation passed away unexpectedly in a tragic accident far away from his home.

I didn’t know this young man personally, but his life overlapped with my family’s as he was a former college teammate of my son.   I believe I met him once briefly but I know I watched him passionately play his sport of choice for two seasons.

I want to be respectful of this family’s privacy and not put a lot of information about his life out there in cyber land.  But as a mother of a young adult man myself, my heart is so full of sympathy for the pain they must feel losing their loved one.

However, I do give thanks and praise God that this family has the assurance of knowing their loved one was a believer in Christ.  By all accounts, he shared his faith in many ways through mission trips and as an athlete.   And so of course, my rational mind must ask God why this terrible thing happened?  Why did a healthy young man pass from this life into the next in a place where he once helped serve others?

I imagine his family struggles with many unanswered questions and they will have to rely on their utmost faith in God to prevail through this unspeakable sorrow. Grief is such an indescribable thing and I can only imagine what his family must be enduring.  My heart is burdened so greatly for this family I do not know, yet surely must have sat in stadium bleachers with.  And all I can do is pray.

I pray they find comfort even in the most unusual places.  I pray that even in their darkest moments of grief they still choose to say “Blessed be the Lord” knowing this young man now walks with Jesus in eternity.  May they find the peace that passes all understanding – the only peace that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” ~ Matthew 5:4

And blessed is God Almighty, who gives and takes away.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Seeing Mom

blog431When I flipped over my daily calendar at work, today’s date garnered my attention like a neon sign flashing in the darkness of night.  Today marks the 12th anniversary of my mother’s passing from this life into the next.

At first, overwhelming sadness consumed me as I remembered this day when my mother succumbed to that evil disease called cancer.  After 19 long days of being hospitalized, she just quietly and peacefully stopped breathing while my sister, my father and I kept vigil beside her.

Remembering that day makes me want to cry.  It doesn’t matter how many years pass since you lost your mother or how old you’ve become, part of you still wants your mommy.

So yes, I miss my mom terribly.  I miss her voice, I miss her loving hugs, I miss the way she loved all of her grandchildren.  I miss her laughter, I miss her cooking and baking, I miss her sense of fun.  I miss her strong determination.  I miss her sewing and craft projects.

I miss the way her face would light up with joy when we came home to visit and I miss her tears as we parted.  I miss her little notes about this thing or that.  I miss chatting on the phone with her.  I miss her love for growing things whether they were flowers or vegetables.  I miss…everything about her.

But even though I feel the void with her gone, I see her still.  I see her love for shoes, shoes and more shoes evidenced in my oldest daughter.  I see her love for baking cookies and scrumptious goodies demonstrated in my middle daughter.  I see her willful resolve proven in my son.

I see the strong, capable hands of my mother when I glance at my middle sister’s hands while she prepares tasty meals in her kitchen, just like my mother used to do.  I see my mom’s love for handiwork in my oldest sister’s hands as she creates lovely and useful things.

I smell my mother when I catch the clean fresh scent of soap.  And I hear my mother’s laugh in my own voice and sometimes when I repeat a saying just like Mom would say it.

And each night as I nod off to sleep, I wrap myself in memories of my mother when I tuck myself under the beautiful hand-stitched quilt she lovingly made for hubby and me.

So on this 21st page in Chapter Two of my book of Opportunity, I will take the time to remember not the day of my mother’s death but the legacy of love she bestowed on my family and I will give thanks to God for the life of my devoted mother.

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Home Sweet Home, Part IV

[Blogger’s Note: This is the final installment of the Home Sweet Home series.]

blogfront-door-welcome4Ten years swiftly passed by.  That’s how long we’ve lived in our residence here in my homeland.

In this house we’ve experienced 10 years of joy and laughter, sorrow and pain, homecomings and leavings, family get-togethers and empty-nesting.

For all intents and purposes, this house is my home, yet I feel no bond to it like I felt to my childhood home.  And this bothers me.

My husband and I have resided in this dwelling longer than any other home we’ve had together. Shouldn’t I feel settled in this place?

I do truly love my home, but if my husband announced today that his job required relocating, I would not be overwhelmingly sad to leave this particular abode.   Is it because we’ve moved often or is there something deeper? This realization puzzles me and that is one reason why I’ve been wrestling with “home” lately.

I think I should feel a deeper connection to our home; it is, after all, the home to which my grown children come back.  Hopefully, some day they will bring spouses and children “home” to visit us. Yet somehow, my heart remains attached to my parents’ home instead of this one.

When my father passed away last summer, my sisters and I made the decision to sell the family home.   None of us could afford to keep it, none of our children needed it, and none of us wanted to be landlords to renters.  So the only solution remaining was to place the property on the market.  I didn’t realize how deeply I would be affected by selling the home to a stranger.

That’s what disturbs my dreams many nights.  When I dream of “home,”  it often is my childhood home.  I dream that the new owners have changed every aspect of the house.  I dream that I just walk into their house unannounced and declare for them to get out.  On some days I grieve for my family home almost as much as I grieve for my parents.   And in my rational and logical mind, I know this must stop.

“A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams,” someone once wrote.  I realize that the house I call home is just a house of walls and beams, and an old one at that.  I know that “home” is what I carry in my heart, that place built with love and dreams.  Somehow, I have to figure out how to separate the two, let go of the physical house, and embrace the memory of my childhood home.

I’m drawn back to the definition of home in Wikipedia which says, “Furthermore, places like homes can trigger self-reflection, thoughts about who one is or used to be or who one might become. These types of reflections also occur in places where there is a collective historical identity…”

I’m no psycho-analyst, but I can see that losing that place, my childhood home, which was such an anchor for me for much of my life, is what has affected me so profoundly.  A sense of my identity is somehow linked to that house, and I feel that strong “collective historical identity” Wikipedia speaks of because of the familial ties to that house – all 128 years of them.   My father was born in that house and he passed away there just as he wished.  It also just recently occurred to me that both of my grandfathers also passed away in that home.  My family history is tightly entwined with that dwelling, which is why it’s so difficult for me to relinquish it.

Reflections of the past serve many purposes.  They show you where you’ve been and what you’ve done.  But I also believe that once you can place your reflections where they belong –  in the past –  they help you have clear vision for the future.  I know in my heart God has a lesson for me to learn through this experience.

Matthew 6:19-20 tells me my treasure is not here on earth but in heaven.  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

The scripture reminds me of an old, old song my grandma and I used to sing while sitting together on her favorite rocking chair (the one with the swan-head arms that I so vividly remember):

“This world is not my home, I’m just passing through, my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.  The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

O Lord, you know I have no friend like you.
If Heaven’s not my home, then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

They’re all expecting me and that’s one thing I know.  My Savior pardoned me and now I onward go. I know He’ll take me through though I am weak and poor, and I can’t feel at home in this world any more.

Just up in glory land we’ll live eternally, the Saints on every hand are shouting victory.  Their song of sweetest praise drifts back from Heaven’s shore, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”

And so there is my answer – my real home is not here on this earth.  As a believer in Jesus Christ, my real home –  heaven – awaits me.  And someday when I arrive there, I will feel at home. In the meantime, I must be content here in this place where He has planted me because He has some purpose for me here in this earthly home.

If you are a fellow believer in Jesus Christ, I’m hopeful that you too realize that your home here on earth is temporal, but while we are here, we must strive diligently to be about our Father’s business each and every day.  Our time here is short.

If you don’t know Jesus, I pray you seek Him, learn about Him, and give your life to Him, so that you may serve Him.  Your real home will be waiting for you in Glory.

[Blogger’s Note:  Thank you, dear readers, for bearing with me through this series.  Over the last few weeks, pondering it, praying over it, writing, editing and re-writing it was a very emotional roller coaster ride for me.  So I’m going to take a short break from writing, but I promise I’ll be back.  I have so much more to say!]

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Filling Up the Empty Tank

blogdscn6765Ten years ago when we built our home our middle daughter moved into this room.

Back then, she was 14 years old and the room was decorated in happy colors of blue and yellow, tandems of tulips stenciled around the room.  Stuffed animals galore greeted you with furry, goofy grins; soccer and volleyball apparel was strewn here and there.  Her bookshelf was filled with her ever-growing pig collection and books, lots of books.

Today it is almost empty.  Her bookshelf still stands, a lonely sentinel in one corner, watching over an other-wise empty room.  Its shelves are still laden with her quirky pig collection and books, lots of books.  Those remnants of childhood weren’t forgotten, just not really needed in her new grown-up life.

Yesterday was such a non-stop full-of-fun day with my Sisters Day Out that I didn’t have time to reflect on the fact that middle daughter’s room is practically vacant and my house is quite silent once again.  This morning that realization slammed into my heart with a shooting arrow-like ache.   It felt like when you smack that funny bone in your elbow on something solid and unmovable.   It jolts you with a weird hard-to-describe pain.  You jump around and hold your elbow, but there’s not a darn thing you can do about it but wait it out until it goes away.

That’s kind of what I experienced this morning.  My husband and I are opposites in some respects.  Awakening after a night’s slumber is one of those differences.  He is an early bird.  He wakes up at the crack of dawn, and when his feet hit the floor he is a raring to go rooster, chipper as a songbird, happy as a lark, perky as a parakeet.

I wake up.  Period.  And I usually want to stay in my comfy, cozy bed, not raring to go anywhere, definitely not chipper, grumpy until I’ve been up awhile.  I’m just not an early morning person.  It’s not that I don’t like mornings, I do.  It’s not that I can’t be an early riser, I can.  Just don’t talk to me for a while in the morning and expect me to be pleasantly responsive.  I will be… later.

I tell you all of this to explain that my early bird who catches the worm woke me up from dreamland this morning to tell me he forgot to mention he would be home late from work today.  Since I was off work today, that meant one thing — being alone for almost the entire day.  Most days, that’s not an issue.  There’s a lot (cleaning, laundry, and the like) to be done at home or I have free time to catch up on reading, crossword puzzles, or some project.

But today was different.  It became evident that the silence in our house was deafening after hubby left for his office at o’dark thirty and I couldn’t get back to sleep.  My aloneness in the house seemed overwhelming.  So on my way downstairs to proceed with my day, I made the mistake of looking into my middle daughter’s room.  I believe I actually gasped out loud. Like water rushing over an intense waterfall, feelings washed over me.

I realize now that those feelings didn’t rise to the surface just because my adult children have moved out of our home.  After all, that room has been emptied out once before.  Our kids’ bedrooms have been like musical chairs; they’ve switched rooms around from time to time.

When oldest daughter graduated from college and moved out on her own, our son, who was still in high school, moved from his smaller room to her larger one.  Then when middle daughter was in college and therefore only home for summers and older daughter was moving back home for a time, middle daughter took the small bedroom and older daughter inhabited this currently empty room.  If that was difficult to follow, no wonder, it was difficult to accomplish too!

So this is not the first time I’ve seen this room empty.  But today, when I peered into that bare room, I experienced a major flashback to a day this past January.  After my father’s death, we put his home up for sale, and it didn’t take long for someone to purchase it.

The day before the closing, I went alone to my parents’ house, where I spent most of my growing up years.  I walked silently through each and every room in that totally vacant house.  I touched every wall; relived so many memories; recalled the voices of my departed loved ones; and I wept.  Loud, blubbering sobs of grief — for my mother, for my father, for my grandparents who also lived in that house, for days gone by, for losing my childhood home — literally escaped from deep within me.  All I can say is it’s a good thing I was alone; it was that frightening.

So yesterday, gazing into my daughter’s empty room brought that feeling back with an unnerving twinge.  I’m relieved to say it was not the same heart-wrenching, bone-wracking sobs I experienced last winter.   It still hurt, just not as badly as it could have and I just needed to wait a bit and let the pain go away, like that funny bone zinger.

I’ve decided I want to look at that empty room with new eyes.  I don’t want to see the emptiness; I want to imagine the new possibilities.  I want to embrace the joyful memories and laughter we shared, but also remember that there will be new memories to make.

I’m at a fork in the road.  There are new transitions to absorb and adjust to in my life and attempting to tame this empty nest thing and the loss of my father is just one of them.   And I will survive.

The reason — my Savior Jesus Christ.   God never promised me an earthly life without pain.  He never promised me that this life would not be difficult or disappointing or that I would never experience despair, loneliness, you name it.  But He does promise never to forsake me.  He promises He will be with me every step in my journey.   On Christ the solid Rock I stand.  And that is more than enough to fill up my empty tank!

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,  for he who promised is faithful.” ~ Hebrews 10:23

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Come For Me Reflections

blogdscn0188I’m spending some time alone this morning remembering my dad.  To me, he was always my daddy, no matter how old I became.  And today marks the one-year anniversary of my father’s death.

My father was the most amazing man.  He was not boisterous or loud and I truly do not ever remember a time when he raised his voice to me.  

He didn’t have to do so because there was something about our relationship that made me never, ever want to disappoint him. 

He never pushed me into being the best I could be, I think he just expected it and I sure didn’t want to let him down.

Many people have told me how kind my father was, what a respectable and upstanding man.   He was.  But he was so much more.  I believe without a shadow of a doubt, he loved my mother completely.  He was a devoted father, grandfather and great-grandfather.  He would do anything for us, he had a true servant heart in his quiet, unassuming way.  And he loved us unquestionably, no matter what.

Even though he was 90 years old and diagnosed with cancer,  his death came suddenly and was a shock to me.   One minute he was with me, the next he was gone.  Losing my mother 10 years before was very difficult, but losing my dad shook me to the core.  I imagine it was because he was my last living parent and my children’s last living grandparent.  And I know it’s because his passing has left a huge void in my life.

I’ve been blessed to spend the last several years back here in my hometown where my dad lived.  After living away from home for so many years,  it was such a joy to be able to stop by dad’s house – our family homestead – talk with him,  play games with him,  enjoy his company and stories.  And now that part of my life is missing.

No one truly understands another’s grief because I think we all grieve in so many different ways.  I tend to grieve in private sharing my thoughts only with my husband, who is my very best friend, or alone in the solitude of my home.  In that way, I am a very private person, so this is a little foreign to me, putting my thoughts out there in cyberland for all to read.  But today God revealed something to me and I need to share it.

The day after my father passed away, my 21-yr-old son asked if he could speak at his grandpa’s memorial service.  I was surprised that he wanted to attempt such an emotionally difficult task, but our family agreed to let him speak.

My son chose a particular song to be played right before he spoke at the service.   It was “Come For Me” by Charlie Hall.

That song so reminded me of my dad and still does.  It comforted me then and it comforts me today.  I thought I’d share what my son wrote and delivered as a eulogy at my father’s memorial service one year ago:

I would like to start by saying something that many, if not everyone here, already knows.  My grandpa was a great man who lived a great life.  He was also a great father, a great grandfather, and a great friend.  There are so many things about him that made him a great man.  Just to name a few, he was strong, he was disciplined, and he never complained. 

But the greatest thing about my Grandpa was the love that radiated from him.  Everywhere he went, he showed people love.  I’ve heard from so many people about how he was such a sweet and caring man, and I’m sure they thought that because of the love he showed them.  Also, he would always send cards to many, many people for their birthdays and holidays.  And my mom told me that ever since she was a little girl, there was never a time when he wasn’t there for her, caring for and loving her, and I’m sure my aunts can say the same of him. 

In my eyes, his love makes him such a great man because in that way, he truly reflects Christ.  I believe the best way to live out a Christian life and walk with God is to love others, and that is just what my Grandpa did.

The song you just heard before I started speaking is a song I listen to whenever I need some encouragement and hope.  It comforts me to know that someday I will be free from pain and suffering and in the loving arms of the Lord.  I want to try to comfort you all by telling you that I am absolutely certain that my Grandpa is there right now. 

When I heard the news of his death, I was sad because I knew I would miss him, but I was also happy for him because I see it this way.  It’s just like when you plan a big trip or vacation.  You are very excited for the trip to come, but you have to anxiously wait for it to come and patiently pass the days.   My Grandpa enjoyed traveling and going on big trips and had many souvenirs to prove it.  He enjoyed sitting down to plan trips and pulled out atlases to map out where he was going. 

Well, my Grandpa was planning a big trip with God.   He knew where he was going after death and I could tell that he wasn’t afraid of it.  He was ready for it, but he patiently waited for it to come in the Lord’s time.  And now it has finally come and Grandpa is on his big trip to heaven where he’ll spend his eternal vacation praising and rejoicing with the Lord.  I’d like to end by saying I am very proud to have had him as my grandfather and I aspire to be as great a man as he was and to love the way he did.”

I loved what my son had to say that day.  It came from his heart and it spoke straight to my heart showing me the impact my father’s love had on all of us.  So today as I remember my beloved, wonderful father and miss him so much my heart hurts,  I need to figure out a way to deal with this grief.

That way is giving it all to Jesus, my Savior, my Rock.  It is apparent to me that we, even Christians, tend to remember a deceased loved one on the day he/she died.  Why is that? 

Why are we so drawn to the day of death rather than all those days of living on this earth?  Why don’t we rejoice on that day because our loved one who is a believer in Christ became alive eternally in His presence?  Why do we remember that day in somber thoughts and with grief?

I think it must be because we are so self-centered.  We only think of our grief, our sadness, our missing that person, our emptiness, the way that death has impacted our life…

But Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

For those of us who are Christians, this world isn’t really our home.   This life is not the life we have to the “full.”  That blessed eternal life is ahead of us.

So I’m changing my thought process.  Instead of marking this day as one year I’ve been without my Dad, I’m going to think of it as one year closer to the time I will be reunited with him, my Mom, all my other loved ones, and more importantly, the time I will meet my Savior face to face.

Dear reader, as you ponder this,  if you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Savior, if you don’t have a personal relationship with Him, ask Him today — “come for me.”  Ask Him to be the center of your life, so you may have life eternal with Him.

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Milestone Musings

blogDSCN8033“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good and his love endures forever, his faithfulness continues through all generations.”  ~ Psalm 100

The month of July, and it’s been July for 20 days now, has been making me meditate on some things.  I’ve realized that I’ve passed some major milestones lately.

Youngest child, who is definitely not a child but a very grown up man, graduated from college this spring.  Milestone passed: check.

One more birthday silently crept up on me and let’s just say it has brought me to the “down slide” half of the 50’s, kicking and screaming all the way!  Milestone passed: check.

Young adult children moving out of our home and into new and exciting lives of their own.  Milestone passed:  getting pretty darn close, give or take a couple of weeks.

Five-year mark of cancer-free living after that dreaded diagnosis.  Milestone passed: hopefully check to come after my next doctor’s appointment soon.

One year of feeling like an orphan.  Milestone passed:  at the end of this month, it will have been one year since my last living parent journeyed home to see Jesus.

Which brings me to the point of this entry, that milestone is hard.  That day is not gonna be easy for me.  This year has not been easy for me, but that is something we call life, ladies and gentlemen.  Life is hard.  Period.  But we have hope and a future as believers in Christ.  And for that I am joyful and I am grateful and I am going to sing — LOUDLY — praises to my King!

So instead of feeling sad beyond measure on the anniversary of my father’s physical death and crawling back into bed to cover up my head and wish the day away, which is what I know I will feellike doing, I’m choosing to celebrate.  I’m celebrating that my Savior died to save me.  I’m celebrating that my Savior has prepared a place for me in glory where I will be reunited with my loved ones.

AND I’m celebrating new beginnings and glorious young love at the wedding of my son’s friend that very weekend!  I will watch this lovely young couple begin their marriage with joy.  I will observe my son stand beside his friend as his best man supporting these two as they enter into holy matrimony, and oh what a day that will be!  This is the day that the Lord has made, we shall rejoice and be glad in it.

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com