Living With Loss Archives 2009

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  • The Amazing Attitude of Cody McCasland by Cindy Granke
  • Capturing the Joy of the Holidays with Grieving Children by Angela Reinhart
  • How are the Dead Raised? by Jon Quinn
  • God Lives Under The Bed
  • Grieving Our Pet's Death by Ann Palik
  • Finding Mental & Moral Strength - Gary Ogden
  • Lord, Give Me Courage (poem) by Gary Ogden
  • My Friend (poem) by Ruth Miller
  • The Root of Bitterness by Cindy Granke
  • Go Home Again by Bob Perks
  • Treasure From Home by Cindy Granke
  • On Hold or Hold On? by Bob Perks
  •  

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The Amazing Attitude of
Cody McCasland
~  ~  ~
Extracted from several articles and videos online
by Cindy Granke
  

     When you think of living with loss, what comes to mind?  Losing a loved one?  Perhaps a spouse, a child, a parent, a brother or sister, or a dear friend?  If so, then you know how devastating such grief is.  Then there are people who have an accident or are the victim of a crime which ends their quality of their life as they have known it.  Perhaps the person is paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, or is no longer able to speak, or forever blind.  
     Consider also the someone who has been diagnosed with a devastating disease, such a diabetes, which often leads to kidney failure and a life sentence to dialysis.  Or a diagnosis of cancer, multiple sclerosis, or other illnesses which robs the victims of their ability to talk, or requires chemo therapy or radiation to live, but makes the patients extremely sick and causes baldness.  
     It is impossible for me to name all of the various situations that the human race must cope with, or the emotions that affect the victims and their families, who grieve for what they have lost.  They must come to terms with their situations, and accept and try to learn to live with them.
    When I came across the child in this story I knew I had to include his situation in an issue of Our Hope.  We might say, "Children can be very adaptable."  But do you suppose that as he grew up, he did not ask his mother why the other children were able to run and play games, while he could not?   As a mother myself, I think any mom would grieve for her child in this situation.  It would take a while to come to terms with such grief.
     What kind of loss are you experiencing in your life at this time?  I pray that this story may help you accept what you cannot change and concentrate instead on the positive aspects in your life. 
 Cindy

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.
  • Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.
  • It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.
  • It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.
  • The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.
  • We cannot change our past...
  • We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.
  • We cannot change the inevitable.
  • The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.
  • I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.
- Charles Swindoll

*  *  *

      Cody McCasland was born October 2, 2001, six weeks premature and without any tibia or knee bones, due to a rare condition called Sacral Atenesis which caused deformities to his spine in the womb.  As a result of his condition, Cody had to have his legs amputated below the knee at 15-months and also needed surgery for a dislocated hip, stomach, gall bladder and intestinal problems and a hernia, as well as treatment for breathing difficulties and asthma. Two months after his legs were amputated he was fitted with his first pair of prosthetic legs, and hasn't stopped moving since.  

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     Now he has short prosthetics for sitting and climbing and long fancy ones for when he wants to run really, really fast. Cody says: 'In my walking legs I can take big steps. In my running legs I can run very fast and jump on one leg.'  He runs, swims, plays soccer, golf, rides a horse, takes karate and plays ice hockey as well as being a Cub Scout in his home state of Texas.


 

I can do all things through
Christ who strengthens me
(Philippians 4:13)

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     His mother Tina, said:  Hardly anyone takes to prosthetics so well. It was amazing - it was as if Cody had just been waiting for the chance to have new legs so he could walk. We've always said whatever Cody wants to do, we will do our best to let him have that opportunity. He won't let his disability hold him back. 

     However, the most amazing thing about this story isn’t the fact that he ran 60 meters in 20.03 seconds or that he continues to better his freestyle time.  It is that he always has a smile on his face and absolutely embraces life fully. 

     This is something we can all take to heart as we face our own challenges and losses.

     If you'd like to learn more about Cody's story and hear from his own lips about his courage and his contagious attitude, just type his name into Google and you'll find various online news sites, articles and videos. My favorites are several segments of the television show, Dateline.  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/30796319#30772024 


But they that wait upon the Lord
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:31)

 
 

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While the holidays have just come and gone, this is the beginning of a new year with new holidays, birthdays, etc. and grieving children will have to face each and every memory of their loved one just like their parent(s). This is a good article to prepare for the new year as well as being a good article for children grieving because of divorced parents.

Capturing the Joys of the Holidays with Grieving Children

Angela Reinhart

"Each holiday is precious simply for the privilege of having it and, thus, perfect in its own way."

I discovered the quote by author Jacquelyn Mitchard in 2002 when I created a program called Capture the Joy of the Holidays with Your Children for parents and child care providers. My goal was to encourage making lasting, positive holiday memories with children. I included the poem by an unknown author published in the December 2001 Minneapolis, MN. Family Information Services newsletter called What Shall We Give the Children? It goes:

What shall we give the children? The holidays are almost here. Toys and games and playthings -as we do every year?

Yes, for the magic of Toyland is part of the holiday lore to gladden the heart of childhood.

But I shall give them something more.

I shall give them more patience, a more sympathetic ear. A little more time for laughter, or tenderly dry a tear.

I shall take the time to teach them the joy of doing some task. I'll try to find time to answer more of the questions they ask.

I shall give these to my children, weaving a closer tie

Knitting our lives together with the gifts that money can't buy!"

These gifts of a sympathetic ear, time for laughter, and tenderly drying a tear are especially comforting to a grieving child at the holidays. Children feel grief just as intensely as we adults! But often they don't have the emotional coping skills or ability to understand death like we do. It's a hard concept to grasp and is related to their developmental stage.

Preschool children often worry about "Who will take care of me?" and sometimes deny their loss or talk like their loved one will magically come back later. They may have unexplained emotional outbursts and need extra cuddle time. This is a time to keep routines simple and not the time to potty train a child, take away the pacifier, or move them to a big bed. Make changes gradually whenever possible.

Preschoolers often take their cues from us and reflect the emotions they see and hear. They need us to help them express their feelings. Reading children's stories can be an excellent way to give them words, help them understand what has happened, and ease their fear of the unknown. Contact me for a list of titles of feelings books for children and their authors.

School age children in the early elementary years also need the strength and stability we adults provide. They more clearly understand that death is permanent, but sometimes act as if nothing has changed. They can seem insensitive or extremely curious – asking what feels like a million questions. They, too, may not have the words to express their feelings and reactions and can become quite emotional. Allow them to ask their questions and talk as much as they need to about the person they are missing. It will help them feel connected to their loved one.

Answer their questions in terms they can understand. Better yet, work to hear their questions behind the question. Grief is a very individual thing which each of us handles in our own way. What do they need? Are they feeling guilty, like they are somehow responsible for what happened? Do they feel like they aren't being allowed to talk about it or being told how to feel? Be aware of their reactions to the answers they receive. Are they having trouble sleeping? Are they having nightmares or expressing they are afraid something else will happen? Be present and know that your understanding can help children adjust to the new situation and find the support they need.

Older elementary children and teens may also be moody, irritable, and suffer from lack of sleep (or sleep more often). They might also seem insensitive and laugh or joke inappropriately at times. Encourage them to express the emotions they feel through talking and writing. Their grief is a normal reaction to changes brought about by loss.

Discuss with them how they want to handle attending holiday gatherings and commemorate their loved one's absence. Help them create new family rituals as needed and honor the old ones.

Speaker and author Rona Maynard shares, "I've since discovered that there's solace to be found in the observing the rituals of joy when you are alone, afraid, or grieving. To inhale the scent of pine boughs or light the candles is to savor the heritage of hope."

With this in mind, encourage them to participate in celebrations as much as they want to. Give them an "out" when they need one – especially when attending holiday festivities somewhere other than home.

Most of all, tune into the present moments with your child. These bear many gifts. American poet Clarissa Pinkola Estes expresses it best in one of my favorite holiday thoughts books: "The gifts I longed for are here now – to be able to hold a child again, to be able to feel love, to be able to laugh sometimes, and to finally be able, once more, to cry. All I have yearned for is here."

Be gentle with yourself and your children this holiday season! Being present for one another, lending a sympathetic ear, making time for laughter, and gently drying a tear are priceless gifts that money can't buy.

http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/champaign/weekly/

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"How are the Dead Raised?”

1 Corinthians 15:36-58

Jon W. Quinn

 

“But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" (1 Corinthians 15:35).

We believe in the future resurrection from the dead. We are curious to know more about what it will be like. There are questions we sometimes have for which the answers are incomplete, at least at this time. But we know all we need to know, and we'll have to wait until Resurrection Day for greater details. For now, we can speculate on the following questions, but that is about all”: “Will we know one another?" "What will we look like?" "What will we feel like?" "How will our perceptions of our environment change as we gain new abilities and the spiritual equivalents of eyes and ears?" "What will we sound like when we sing?" “Will the spiritual body of one who has died in old age be the same as one who died in infancy?” “Will we still bear scars and wounds?” Lots of questions! I'd like to look at some of the things the Bible says about it all. Facts we can know today about the resurrection body.

The Resurrection

All will be raised and judged, and the outcome of that judgment will be fair, righteous, and eternal. The results will be one of two of two possibilities: eternal life or eternal condemnation (John 5:28-29). It will be a day of reckoning, and so we seek to please the Lord with our lives today, because we will be judged according to our deeds (2 Corinthians 5:7-10; Galatians 6:7-8; Hebrews 9:27). The song "Amazing Grace" describes the saved being there 10,000 years "bright shining as the Sun". Certainly this description of the redeemed refers to the words of Jesus (Matthew 13:43). The souls of the righteous dead will return with Jesus; receive their new bodies (this is the resurrection), and then those still alive who are in Christ will be "caught up" to be with them in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Body and Soul - a "Package Deal"

In this life, you are a "package deal". Your body is the package; your soul, or spirit, is the real you (1 Corinthians 5:1;4; 2 Peter 1:13,14). Though body and soul are united in this life, the package (body) is perishable. The body will be laid to rest, but not the spirit. The body will be consumed in some way. It will decay. Without the spirit, it is dead (James 2:26). The part of you that will survive death is that part contained within the package.

What Shall We Be?

(Acts 1:9-11). After His resurrection, Jesus stressed that He was yet in His flesh to assure apostles it was He; and at other times, doing things that simple flesh cannot do (John 20:26-28; Luke 24:36-44). But we know also that though the apostles watched Him ascend into the cloud bodily, that it was not that body of flesh that went to God's right hand in heaven because flesh and blood cannot go there (1 Corinthians 15:50). We simply do not know what happened above the cloud.

There will be little or no recognizable correlation between the body you now have and the one you will have. The question we have been discussing is not a new one to Christians. Even in the first century, Christians were being asked about the resurrection by often skeptical unbelievers: “But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" (1 Corinthians 15:35). Christians had asked Paul about it. What kind of answer should be given? First, recognizing that this question was often not asked out of curiosity, but rather because of doubt of the resurrection, Paul says it is foolish. To deny that there is a resurrection just because we do not know what the body will look like makes little sense (v. 36).

But despite the foolishness of motive, Paul did give some information about it. In a nutshell, there is little or no similarity between the bodies we now have and the bodies we will have. Almost everything you can say about the two stands in stark contrast.

How different is the physical body which we now have from the resurrection body that we will have? Take a watermelon seed; small, brown, lightweight, hard, not very tasty. Then take a watermelon: Large; Green on outside, red inside; heavy; not nearly as hard. Quite tasty. If a watermelon seed could think, and if it pondered what its next body would be like, do you think it could even imagine itself as a watermelon? They are so different! This is essentially how Paul answers the question. He uses an example of a seed being planted (1 Corinthians 15:36-38).

Then, Paul begins to contrast between different bodies. Some of them are very different. He illustrates by noting the difference in the bodies of animals and then the differences between the heavenly bodies: “All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.” (1 Corinthians 15:39-41).

So why is it so difficult to understand that God has a completely different body with a glory far beyond our present body waiting for us? That is how it is: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).

But Paul isn't done. Here is another contrast; that between how Adam became a fleshly man and how Christ, upon His ascension, became a spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45-49). Remember what John said? We'll be like Jesus as He is now… spirit. We won't be like we are now in the flesh; or like Adam was at his creation. (see Philippians 3:20,21). This change to new, spiritual bodies must take place, and if we have the faith we ought to have in the resurrection, we have a powerful motivator to remain steadfast and always abound in the lord's work. (1 Corinthians 15:50-58).

We believe in the future resurrection from the dead. We are curious to know more about what it will be like. Lots of questions! We've looked at some of the answers. These are things we can know now. But like that watermelon seed would have no idea of the watermelon he would one day become, we will probably have to wait until our change comes. Until then, let us abound in the work of the Lord!

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     I have been sending out prayer requests for many of my Christian friends and acquaintances for years.  I have wept with many of those who suffer from painful conditions, painful and unpleasant treatments, or have lost a limb or all their mobility due to accidents or illnesses.  I have learned one very important thing from reading their stories and praying for them.  I have learned to be thankful that I only have Fibromyalgia and Diabetes.  Even on my most painful days I realize how much worse things could be in Cindy Granke's life. 
     Read Kevin's story below.  He was born with his particular loss, yet he is very happy and untouched by what he does not have.  Perhaps his story can inspire contentment in our own lives.   cg

 . . . .for he hath said, I will never leave thee,
nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say,
The Lord is my helper, and I will not
fear what man shall do unto me.
Hebrews 13:5-6

GOD LIVES UNDER THE BED


     I envy Kevin. My brother Kevin thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night.   

     He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped to listen, 'Are you there, God?' he said. 'Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed...' 

     I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in..

     He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he's 6-foot-2); there are few ways in which he is an adult.

     He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas, and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.

     I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life?  Up before dawn each day; off to work at a workshop for the disabled; home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed.  The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child.

     He does not seem dissatisfied. He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work. He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores. 

     And Saturdays-oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. 'That one's goin' to Chi-car-go!'  Kevin shouts as he claps his hands.

     His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights. And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips. He doesn't know what it means to be discontent. His life is simple. He will never know the entanglements of wealth of power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be.

     His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it. He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax. He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others.

     His heart is pure. He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue. Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere.  And he trusts God.

     Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God - to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an 'educated' person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.   In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith.  It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions. It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap - I am.  My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances - they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God's care.

    Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God.  And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed.

    Kevin won't be surprised at all!

Author Unknown 
(Submitted by Joanne Beckley)

 

     Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2-4)   

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Grieving Our Pet's Death
By Ann Palik

    Our pets give us so much. They entertain us, listen to our secrets, and give us unconditional love. Losing a pet can leave us with a muddle of other feelings in addition to the sadness: anger, anxiety about other problems we couldn’t address because we were so busy caring for our sick pet, and even guilt, especially if your pet died suddenly or of an unknown cause. We may think to ourselves, “My pet trusted me to take care of him/her. Should I have taken him/her to the vet sooner”? Or maybe we are not convinced our pet got the right medical attention. Losing a pet can also bring up pain from previous losses we have experienced.

     When we lose a pet, we may encounter well-meaning people who do not understand why we are so upset about losing “just an animal.” They may encourage us just to “get another one." Not everyone is bonded in the same way to their animals, and that’s okay. But it’s not whether our loved one was a person or an animal that determines our “right” to be upset. It’s the quality of the relationship and the level of our love. It’s hard to recover fully from the loss of a long, possibly many-year, relationship in just a few days or weeks.

     You’re not crazy to hurt so much. You have had a loss, and you deserve support. It may help to talk about it to people you feel understand and will be sympathetic. Grief is a powerful emotion and is one of the most painful we face as human beings. The good news is that if you get a chance to talk and work through some of the pain, grief is a time-limited process. Over time, the pain recedes a bit, and you can access the happy memories of the love you and your pet shared.  It may help to look at grief recovery as a process of convalescence. The dictionary definition of “convalescence” is “gradual return to health and strength after an illness.” Seeing grief in this way can help us to be patient with ourselves during the process and know that, in time, we will feel better again. Crying, some trouble sleeping, or loss of appetite is normal after a loss. But if you are having physical symptoms that are of concern, please seek medical attention. If you feel you may be “stuck” in grief after a long period of time, you may benefit from professional help.

     As Leo Tolstoy said, “Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving counteracts their grief and heals them.”


© 2005, Ann Palik.
Article Source: EzineArticles.com

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Finding the Mental and Moral Strength
 
We Need Courage!
by Gary Ogden

     The life of the Christian is one of overcoming obstacles and fears. We must certainly have faith, but he must also have courage. Faith without courage can keep you out of heaven (Rev. 21:8). I think of the Jewish rulers who believed in Jesus, but lacked the courage to confess that He was the Christ, for fear they would be cast out of the synagogue (John 12:42-43). Faith without courage is dead.
 
     What is courage? Webster defines it as "mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty. It implies firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme difficulty." Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to overcome fear and press onward. The best way to overcome fear is to make yourself do the very thing that makes you afraid, e.g. flying in an airplane.
 
     How do we get courage? One way is by the encouragement received from others. When we see others accomplish challenging tasks, it gives us courage to try harder. The Bible is full of examples of courage that encourage us to live confident lives in service to God. 
  • Noah, by faith, built an ark to God's specifications, but it was courage that made him go into a boat that had never sailed. 
  • Abraham had the courage to leave his homeland and go to a land he had never seen (Heb.11:8). Abraham also had the courage to raise the knife to kill Isaac in keeping with God's command (Gen.22). He was confident that God could and would bring his son back from the dead (Heb.11:19). That’s courageous faith!
  • Moses, who at first tried to talk God out of his commission to lead Israel out of Egypt, overcame his fear, had the courage to speak up to the mighty Pharaoh, and led a nation to freedom!
  • The Israelites, in faith, had the courage to be "baptized" in the cloud and the sea unto Moses (1 Cor.10:2). What a frightening experience it must have been to walk through the Red Sea on dry ground with walls of water on each side!
  • Joshua and Caleb had faith in the power of God, and had courage not found in the ten spies (Num.13:30-33).
  • Gideon found the courage to lead a small band of 300 men against an innumerable host of the Midianites (Judg.7:8,10).
  • David faced a nine-foot giant with only a sling, five stones and his faith in God. He stood with courage when every other man in Israel shrank in fear!
  • Daniel and his three friends had the courage to worship only God in spite of the edicts of the king. They did not fear the prospect of death as they faithfully served their God.
  • Men like Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Stephen and Paul had the courage to tell a sinful world of the need to repent and turn to God. They overcame the fear of pain and death, and have left us great examples of courage.
  • Jesus, when His human side showed most, overcame His distress in the garden, and courageously went all the way to the cross in obedience to His Father. Courage is doing the fearful!

It Takes Courage!

     It takes courage, for example, to be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). I’ve baptized people who were deathly afraid of water, but their desire to obey God was greater than their fear. It takes courage to daily live for Christ. It takes courage to go in a totally different direction than the world around us. It takes courage to speak out against the evil that surrounds us. It takes courage to stand against an unseen host of wicked beings bent on our destruction (Eph.6:10-20). It takes courage to be willing to die for Christ, to give up everything in faithful service to the One who loved us. “Be faithful unto death” is the Lord’s encouragement (Rev. 2:10). John speaks of those who “loved not their lives, even to the death” (12:11). What courage Antipas and other faithful martyrs had when given the opportunity to deny Christ and live, or confess him and die!
 
     How do we find the courage to do what God wants us to do? A strong faith is the beginning. Without faith, there can be no courage. Faith comes when we hear and accept God's word (Rom. 10:17), and it grows when we put it into practice (12:2). When we dedicate our lives to doing God’s will, like those people of old, then we will be able to imitate their courage and overcome fear, even the fear of death. Death is a mighty enemy, but how often we have seen faithful Christians face it with faith, dignity and courage!
 
     We also rely on God's help for courage. We must pray diligently that He will stand by us. The prayer, “Lord, increase my faith” should be followed with “Lord, increase my courage.” Then with confidence that He has heard our prayer, we will boldly go where He leads and stand courageously to face every adversary that may try to defeat us.

Article courtesy of  http://biblical-insights.com/

LORD, GIVE ME COURAGE
By Gary Ogden


Lord, give me courage Thy Name to confess,
Never to curse, always to bless.
Help me Thy Name proudly to wear,
Thy banner to carry, my cross daily wear.

Give me the courage to stand up and say,
"Jesus I know, I walk in the way."
Give me the courage to stand up and fight,
To abhor Satan's evil and cleave to the right.

Give me the courage the victory to win,
To overcome Satan, to overcome sin.
Give me the courage when I must have pain,
To learn that contentment is wonderful gain.

Give me the courage, O Lord, I pray
Help me be stronger with each passing day.
Give me the courage to say what must be said,
To give strength to the living, life to the dead.

Give me the courage to follow my Lord,
Assured in the promises made in His Word.
Help me daily to walk in His Light
As a child of the day and not of the night.

And when I approach the land of the dead,
Help me to face that night without dread.
Then when I have come to the end of the way,
Bear me away to the Kingdom of Day.

                               In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Gary Ogden
(3-14-46  -  5-16-09)

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My Friend . . .
***
My friend has been with me for so many years,
We grew up together through sunshine and tears.
We learned to be buddies throughout thick and thin,
Life with my friend was as if I were his twin.
We did things together as older we grew,
Always together in everything we do.
Even with life’s way of twisting and turning,
Together we continued our higher learning.
We met the ladies who would change our lives,
And could hardly wait to make them our wives.
We both raised our families with children in tow,
All close in age as we watched them grow.
Never far apart from each other were we,
We just supposed this was just meant to be.
We shared our laughter and all of our joys,
Together we enjoyed raising a girl and “the boys”.
We both were preachers of God’s holy ways,
We both loved the Lord throughout all of our days
We were strong , did only that which was right,
We were always thinking with God in our sights.
However, one bright day, just out of the blue, 
My friend told me of some very sad news.
Cancer had invaded to his innermost core,
And soon he’d be traveling to that foreign shore.
We talked and we laughed but we knew in our hearts,
It wouldn’t be long before we’d be apart.
And true to his words, his lifetime has ended,
His pain and brokenness has now all been mended.
With my heart so heavy, my thoughts so sad,
I watch with sorrow for one last time,
I think I am going to miss all we had,
But I know deep down, that now he is fine.
While we stand at the graveside, it is so sad for us all,
But we know as we stand there, he heeded the call.
There’s a silent bond between us that says there will yet be,
A reunion together. . . me, my friend and the great He.
...
Written to Don Hastings
On the loss of his friend, Gary Ogden
©  May 16, 2009
.
Ruth
Ruth H. Miller
Lakeland, Florida

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Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and
evil speaking be put away from you, with
all malice.  And be kind to one another,
tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31-32

THE ROOT OF BITTERNESS
Hebrews 12:15
By Cindy Granke

 

       It was Marvin, a firefighter, who called with the shocking news, late that Tuesday afternoon – Gene had been killed in an accident.  Himself a firefighter and the Fire Department Chaplain, Gene Franklin had been riding on a narrow country road enroute to the hospital to visit an ailing fireman, when an eighty-four year-old neighbor heading toward him suddenly turned left across Gene’s lane.  He probably died instantly.   

       For many years, Arnie and I had been close friends with Gene and his wife, Tina and their children.  During that time, Arnie and he must have walked hundreds of miles together, a few miles at a time, talking about everything under the sun, most frequently the Bible.  One of the quietest, most humble, gentlest, and unselfish men we have known, Gene was also one of the best known and respected men in South Carolina, and especially in Sumter County.  He had “been there” for everybody – certainly for us when our daughter Erica died, and another time when Arnie needed a hand on a small construction project, at home.  When firefighters across the state had to cope with the emotional aftermath of fires with fatalities or injuries, it was Gene they had called, and he would drop whatever he was doing to counsel or debrief with them.  And he had always been there for everyone in our own community who needed him.   It was no surprise that Gene’s funeral was one of Sumter County’s largest ever.  

       Arnie and I visited with Tina after everything had settled down.  Gene had also been the preacher for two small, country churches, so Arnie asked her what Gene had preached about on the Sunday before he had died.  Tina reached for his Bible there on the table, and showed us his outline, still tucked inside.  As I looked it over, I realized how practical a lesson it was, and Tina graciously agreed to let me borrow it, to adapt and share some of his final thoughts with you.

     

       Each of us has experienced mistreatment or the anger of someone close to us.  We expect these from an enemy, but sometimes it comes from those to whom we are the closest.  Perhaps the most painful of these is hatred and bitterness from our own physical or spiritual family.  Jesus warned us that it would happen (Matt. 10:21-39). 

       While we may feel discouraged and hurt by such treatment, Our Lord also warned us to guard against becoming bitter and resentful toward others or toward Him (Eph. 4:31-32; Heb. 12:15).   

       Our earthly life is short and filled with trouble (Job 14:1).  Consider the woman whose husband has been unfaithful to her; or the mother whose child was killed by a drunk driver; or a Christian whose friend and confidant betrays her trust and even lies about her.  You probably know someone who has been in one of these or similar situations.  Indeed, you may even be the one.  It would be difficult to avoid becoming angry or bitter in any of those circumstances.  Yet, bitterness hampers us spiritually, disrupts our walk with God, and drains our energy for growth in Christ.  It also destroys our relationships and erects barriers between us and those we resent. 

       When we become weakened physically, we might reach for some vitamins and try to make healthful changes in our lives.  The same should be true when we find ourselves spiritually weak and worn down.  We become emotionally exhausted and vulnerable to bitterness and even hatred.  It is difficult not to feel bitter, angry, and humiliated in situations of this sort. But bitterness and wrath are choices.  We are the ones who decide how we will respond to unpleasant situations and the people who produce them.   Failure to deal with this is like rowing a boat with the anchor dropped, or driving a car with the brakes on.  However, God has provided us with the spiritual vitamins we need in His Word.  Some of them are Bible study, prayer, and seeking strength from other disciples.   

       After Jesus had been baptized of John, the Spirit led Him into the wilderness.  When He had fasted for forty days and nights, the Tempter came to tempt Him with the lust of the flesh (“Command that these stones be made bread”), the pride of life (“Cast thyself down,” and the angels will keep thee from harm), and the lust of the eyes (“All these kingdoms I will give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me”) (cf. 1 John 2:16).  Even though physically weakened from fasting, and perhaps emotionally exhausted, as well, our Lord remained immoveable, answering each effort to entice Him with a quotation from Scripture, saying, “It is written,” and finally commanding, “Get thee hence!” (Matt. 4:1-11).  He tapped into His reservoir of spiritual vitamins. 

       Joseph also is a beautiful illustration.  When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. (Gen. 37:4).  At first conspiring to kill him, they threw their brother into a pit to die, then ended up selling him to a band of Ishmaelites who took him to Egypt where they sold him to Potiphar, the captain of the Pharaoh’s guard (Gen. 37:23-36).  Who would not be terrified, angry, and devastated that his own brothers hated him so much they would sell him into slavery?  There are many lessons in Joseph’s story.  One is that when he was resented, he chose to forgive.   

       In our status-conscious society, in which it is almost impossible not to be confronted with bitterness, we might be resented for any number of reasons – jobs, incomes, houses, cars, clothes, position, power, prestige, and popularity, just to name a few.  In Joseph’s case, it was because he was Jacob’s favorite son, and his father’s gift of a colorful coat had stoked his older brothers’ hatred immeasurably.  Years later, when a famine drove them to Egypt to buy food, they could hardly have expected to find Joseph serving as the king’s Prime Minister, with the power of life and death.  What would it be – revenge, or forgiveness? 

       We can spend sleepless nights brooding, building resentment, and devising schemes to get even.  Or we can get rid of all bitterness.  Resentment poisons us, but forgiveness liberates us.  Resentment makes us bitter, but forgiveness makes us better.  Forgiveness is not the sign of weakness many think it to be.  Jesus and Joseph proved it to be a sign of strength. 

       Which do we demonstrate when we feel rejected by others?  How do we feel when we’re last to be chosen for team play?  Left out of activities in which we yearn to have a part?  Turned down for a job or promotion?  Lose an important sale to a competitor?  Abandoned by our children?  Betrayed by an unfaithful mate, or divorced in favor of another?  Do we allow adversity to make us bitter toward the men who hurt us or angry against God who did not prevent it?  Nursing a grudge only crushes the human spirit and breaks the heart.  No doubt, Joseph smarted from the pain of being rejected by his brothers, but regardless of how they hated him, his father still loved him.  Joseph’s brothers had to live with the guilt of their evil, but his father cherished his fond memories of his son.   

Likewise, our Father cherishes His children and has us on His mind.  When we struggle with rejection by our fellowmen, agonize over the pain the world inflicts on us, or mourn for what we love that has been wrenched away from us, God still loves and accepts us.  Paul, in his agony, sought relief, but he wrote that the Lord “said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness,” and the apostle decided, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  The Lord’s strength would more than compensate for human frailty (2 Cor. 12:9-10).  We must never forget that, nor let any bitter root spring up to trouble us, defile us, or cause us to fall short of God’s grace (Heb. 12:15).  If as Christians we can accept and be content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties in serving our Master, our weakness too will be transformed into strength.

       There was more in the lesson, of course, and Gene had ended it with some illustrations.  As a boy, Thomas Edison, struck on his head by an angry train conductor, was left deaf.  Later he believed his deafness was a blessing because he had fewer distractions as he worked.  Exiled from France during the reign of Napoleon III, Victor Hugo had taken advantage of his banishment to write some of his most creative works.  John Bunyan, while imprisoned for holding religious services outside of the authority of the Church of England, had authored The Pilgrim’s Progress, which has been translated into more than 200 languages, and is considered by scholars as one of the most significant works in English literature. 

       Gene had preached his Root of Bitterness sermon on the afternoon of last November 9th, less than forty-eight hours before his sudden death, on the eleventh.  Tina shared with us that Gene had written the lesson more for his own benefit than anyone else’s, because he himself had been wrestling with rejection and ill treatment by people who were close to him.   

That in itself raises the lesson’s underlying thought:  Does adversity become our excuse for feeling sorry for ourselves and perhaps seeking revenge, or do we use it as a challenge to be resolved and an opportunity for spiritual growth?

 
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"Go home again"
By Bob Perks

       Don't tell me you can't go home.  I just came back from there.

      My phone rang early last Saturday morning.  "Hey, did you see in the paper that 466 is
having a house sale?" my brother asked.
     

    "No, are they really?"     

    "Yes.  I think we're going down later just walk through it."     

     466 is the house number of the home we lived in when I was growing up.  I lived in a community that always stayed close to where you were born.  Families rarely moved away back then.  That is until the kids graduated high school.  Then it appears that most of my class mates left the area.     

     So, many of the old homesteads were left with parents growing old and children returning during holidays and funerals.     

    "Well, if you go, let me know what it looks like," I said.     

     Then it played in my mind.  It must have been that I hadn't had my coffee when he called."How could I pass up a chance to see it again?" I said to my wife.  "Let's go!"     

     I was actually nervous.  On my way there my mind replayed a thousand memories.  Then, when we pulled up, I began to shake.     

     I am a man whose emotions lie barely below the surface.  I am a writer and a speaker and still I can't capture in words the real feelings of the moment when I stepped foot just inside the door.     

     I was home.     

     Introducing myself to the present owner, I put my hand out and said, "Hello.  I am Bob Perks.  I used to live here."     

     He kept his arms crossed in front and didn't respond.     

     Maybe this was a bad idea.     

     I continued nervously telling my story.  He finally warmed up when he realized I valued it as much as he did.  He lived there 21 years.

     I called my brother to tell him where I was.  Then the man actually closed the front door and took us upstairs.  My room.  My parents room.  The attic where I played.     

     It was there a real life changing moment occurred.  I happened to mention that I plastered the walls in the small attic room with Beatles pictures.     

    "Did you have a photo album where you kept them, too?"  he asked.        

    "Yes!"     

    "I found it.  It's downstairs.  We were going to sell it on Ebay."     

     I hurried down to see if it really was mine.     

    "Who's Bobby?" he asked.  I responded like a little kid waiting for Santa to hand out gifts.     

    "That's me!"     

     There it was. One of those old photo albums with the black construction paper bound by a laced shoe string.     

    "What's it worth to you?"      

     He was selling his stuff.  But this was mine stuff.     

    "Priceless!" my wife responded.     

    "Here, take it," he said.     

     Nothing could match this moment better than seeing
my brother arrive.
     

     He immediately walked in and stood in the second room right near the kitchen door.  I knew what he was doing.  He turned and said to the man, "My mother died right here. I held her hand when she died."     

     I was there with him and Dad that day, that moment but declaring his place there that day was important to him today.  He adored her.     

     Later I stood in the kitchen with him and in another moment I will treasure the rest of my life, I turned to him and said, "I would never in a million years think that you and I would be standing here again.  Me 59, you 69."     

     Oh, God thank you.  Thank you for big memories in small moments.  And thank you for keeping my brother and I around so that we could "go home again." 

Copyright 2009  Bob Perks Used with permission

http://bobperks.com

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Treasures From Home
By Cindy Granke

     Several years ago, my husband Arnie and I traveled from South Carolina, to Wilmington, Delaware to bury his mother.  After the memorial at the cemetery, Arnie and his sister Denise decided to go back to their old neighborhood and just see what it looked like.  It had always been a quiet neighborhood in the city.  Finding a place to park, we walked back down the street to find that the row house looked much the same as it had in the 1950s and ‘60s.  Even the pink dogwood tree Arnie had planted for his mother in the small front yard, on Mother’s Day when he was fourteen, was still there and flourishing.  Indeed, it had spread out and took up most of the space between the walkway and the house next door, and between Arnie’s former home and the embankment at the edge of the yard that he had used as a backstop for practicing as a pitcher.      

   

     The last time we had been there had been in 1984, when Arnie, Denise, and I worked for several days, helping his parents move away.  Dad had given instructions what was to go where, and we had several phone conversations with him daily to plan strategy and clarify instructions.  Some things were to go with Mom and him to the assisted living facility where they were moving, some were to go with Denise, and some were to come home here with us.  The rest could either stay, or Denise and Arnie could have whatever they wanted.       

     Sorting through stuff revived old memories. Arnie’s and Denise’s rooms when they were growing up.  The kitchen Arnie and his mother had enlarged by tearing out a wall while he was still a teenager.  The frame and stand in the dining room where his mom had hooked rugs.  The one place I had never seen was the attic.  Everything eventually seemed to find its way up there, and it had been Arnie’s hideaway where he read and played during the winter months, growing up.  I had to see it, and he took me up there.  The shelves and unshelved stacks of antique World War I vintage books someone had given Arnie, that he had read as a boy – the Boy Scouts on the Marne, Tom Swift and His War Tank, and others – were still there.  We decided to bring a handful of them home with us.       

     One thing Dad had asked for was the old blue wooden bed frame that had been Arnie’s, as a child.  We had spent several days looking high and low for it, but we could not find it anywhere.  As Arnie and I threaded our way from the trap door through the attic along the walkway across the joists, toward the window in the front of the house, we had to move this or that to get by.  Then suddenly, Arnie caught sight of a tiny patch of blue showing beneath the ground cork insulation that lay between the joists, and recognized it immediately.  We were so excited to have found it, and we started moving the piles of treasures from on top of it, and the ground cork particles from around it.       

     As we lifted it out of the place where it had been buried for who-knew-how-many years, we saw something black under it that looked like cardboard.  There, hidden between the joists, below the bed and the cork and all that other stuff, was a trove of two piles of antique photograph folders. We fished them out and began looking though them in awe.  The portraits were printed in sepia, and many had faded or had yellowed in their folders over the eighty or a hundred years since they had been recorded, and Arnie thought he recognized some of the faces.  Still there were many, many more that he could not identify.  These treasures would have to go to Carolina with us, too.       

     And there was one other thing.  Nearby, we found stacks of old financial records dating back into the early 1940s.  They would be of no value to whoever was going to clean out the attic, but there was one item we found among them that was invaluable to us.  There, in the reams of cancelled checks was the one that Dad had written to pay the hospital bill when my husband had been born, in July, 1944.     

     Dad seemed as surprised as we that the ancient portraits were up there, apparently for a very long time.  He had grown up with five brothers and two sisters and a score of other kin, in the Mississippi riverside town of Stoddard, Wisconsin, and he was able to remember some of the faces from his family, but there were many more he could not recall or was not sure he had even known.  But he thought his only surviving younger brother, Alvin, might know.       

    We began corresponding with Uncle Alvin, and over the next several years, we sent him a few portraits at a time to work on.  His memory was still sharp, and he not only identified many of Arnie’s newly found ancestors, but told us stories and snippets of information about them, and we shared all of that with Dad and Denise, and had copies of the photographs made for Uncle Alvin.      So in 1984, more than twenty years after he had grown up and left home for military service and to start his own life and family, Arnie and I had gotten to return home, along with his sister Denise.  What a wonderful experience it had been, and what rich treasures we had discovered!    

  

     Now, once again in 1992, we stood in the quiet street outside the old house where they had grown up, looking at the home and reminiscing about old times.  After about twenty minutes, the current owner of the home stepped out on the front porch, and just stared at us.  It occurred to us that he had no idea who we were or why we were so interested in his house.  We decided that we ought to let him know that we were just taking one last look at the neighborhood and the old Granke home.  That seemed to satisfy him and he went back inside.  Of course, there was no way that Arnie or his sister would even ask to go inside.

    Arnie and Denise’s parents and old neighbors are gone now.  That community has grown over the past forty-six years, and the neighborhood has changed.  Denise’s home is in Ohio, and for Arnie and me, the portraits of our ancestors are lovingly arranged on the living room wall of our home, in Sumter, South Carolina.  Who can tell whether we’ll ever return to the home of their childhood?  Perhaps not, but they can always visit there in the treasures of their memories.

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On Hold or Hold On?

Whenever he is afraid, he comes to me.

It makes me feel good, and for whatever reason, gives him comfort.

It's okay, I repeat over and over. I hold him, kiss him and feel his fast beating heart gradually slow down.

It reminds me of my boys.  I don't get to hold them as much any more, but I have had the occasion to reassure them that It's okay, even in their adulthood.

This time it was Phil, our one year old furry kid.  He really doesn't like to be held.  He's curious, active and in every sense of the word still a puppy.

Marianne was vacuuming.  Ricky fights the bright eyed demon every step of the way.  He doesn't fear things he can see.  He fears things he can't, like thunder and fireworks.

Lucy, our other older puppy, just stays out of the fray. She's the "alpha dog," and can't afford to let the boys see her as anything less.

This all reminded me today of times when I was afraid. I can remember calling for help only to be put on hold. But, like Phil, I have always found comfort running to the Father.  He says, It's okay, and helps me to hold on.

My heart beats slower in the comfort of His arms until I feel safe again.  Like Ricky, I rarely fear the things I can see, but cower in a corner of my mind when faced with things I can't.

I wrote these words for one of my wall hangings and greeting cards:  "What I can understand I can handle. What I can't understand I give to God."

I need to remind myself of that.

God doesn't put you "on hold," He tells you to "Hold on!"

© Bob Perks 
http://bobperks.com

Used with permission

 




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