Grief Like An Ocean’s Tide

Grief is such a difficult journey, and it’s different for every person who encounters it. Some scream, some cry, some wail, some cling, and some push away, and some even still simply walk away.

There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the reactions to grief. Grief is not selective. It doesn’t skip the wicked and only hit the believers of this religion or that. It doesn’t skip the rich and only threaten the poor. It is no respecter of persons. It is not bias to name, prestige, status, heritage or race.

Grief comes to us all, and if you think you’re excluded, well, just keep on living, my friend…

I read these two pics, and they seemed to just sum up almost all there is to know about grief. It is like a morning’s tide, except there’s no gadget, computer or orbital phase to help you schedule its rise, fall, or turbulence.

Sometimes, the waves roll in, and you just have to roll up your pant legs and wade until they roll back out. Other times, the sea rushes in so swiftly, without warning, and you just have to sink or swim, as you work hard just to keep your head above to catch a breath. Still other times, the tide pulls back awhile, giving the appearance that you can walk a little deeper, out to a sandbar or two, in order to find a bit of a reprieve.

As I struggle to describe the different phases of grief I’ve observed, I can’t claim to know all the answers of “Why?” “When?” or even “How much longer?” Yet, I may be able to give someone an answer to the “How?”

How can I go forward? How can I ease the pain? How can I be left here? How can I go on living without them?

For, I may not know much, but this one thing I do know! HE is an anchor that holds. Jesus is the Rock that I can cling to. I stand as a testimony, as a witness, that He will bring comfort in our darkest hour. He will carry us through every single step of this painful journey. With Him holding your hand, and sometimes, even picking you up to carry you, you CAN make it.

Afterthought…

This is one thing that He is absolutely amazing at doing: bringing comfort to the broken and giving grace to the desperate. I stand back in awe each and every time as I watch someone experiencing grief and leaning on Him as their source of strength.

Sometimes, it almost seems instantaneous the grace He gives, and other times, the depth of pain seems almost insurmountable; yet, each and every time, without fail, He comes through for those who believe. His promises are true. His love is unfailing, and His grace is so sufficient.

It doesn’t mean there everything is instantly washed away, and you never feel another moment of pain. It doesn’t mean you all of a sudden feel giddy and lightheaded, because the sorrow is no more. It doesn’t even mean, just with a snap of a finger, you somehow stop longing for the return of the one you lost.

No, the pain still rocks in like the tide. The sorrow still awakens you in the night as you reach for their hand. The longing in your heart still stretches to eternity. But the peace He brings, the grace He sustains, the stability He instills is worth giving Him the chance.

All we have to do is simply believe. When we believe and place our trust in Him, we are releasing His Holy Spirit to do what He does best. He is called The Comforter for a reason.

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Character Sustains

Talent can come with a birth. Popularity can come with a spotlight. Power can be gained in an moment of weakness.

Character isn’t born overnight, but it can be sustained over a lifetime.

Sometimes, you have to be patient to watch character arise from within, but once it arrives, there will be no question of its existence.

Just wait a minute or two. Don’t invest too early simply because the person entered with fireworks, glitz, glamour and a grandstand. Wait till the storm rolls in.

Then, you will know who your true friends are. The persons of character may be silent with all the clamor of the world around you, but when the tornadic disasters of life slam against your heart, these will be the ones screaming as they rise from the ashes to stand by your side. 💗

Character: Next Right

When you are a person of character, you won’t question IF you should do the right thing, because you’ll know the right thing must be done.

Character is proven in moments of difficulty or trial when it’s easier just to walk away. Character is sustained when a crisis arises, and criticisms and ridiculed may be at their worst. Character is deepened each time the right choices are chosen, regardless, the sacrifice or struggle that may be endured.

Ask yourself today, “Are you a person of character or a person of reputation (conformity)?” Do you stand alone to make the right choice, or will you bend and sway like a daffodil, depending upon the wind and waves to guide you?

Character Screams

A man or woman of character may not be numbered with the most popular, the most fashionable or the most affluent in the crowd. He or she may very well have each of these, but these won’t be the first assets he/she will seek.

This person will have deep roots, gentle eyes, and a soul that is anchored in peace and in truth. When gossip is given, her deep roots will sustain her. When chaos arises, his gentle eyes will see purpose and promise. When the storms of life threaten to overwhelm, the depths of her soul will not be shaken, for she knows where her strength rests.

People of character draw people of strength to their side. They live with purpose, promise and even preparation for the good and the bad, never relying on carnal and material things to be their refuge or their guide. They reside in a place of security, hope and freedom.

You will not have to question if he or she is a person of character, because what they do is not impulsive; it is a lifestyle.

Character will reveal itself through every action you take. It is the one thing that speaks louder than words. When you are the most silent, your character will actually scream to the world of its existence.

… What kind of character are YOU? …

Beautiful. Classy. Timeless. What every icon should be…

paigemadisonmckinney.com/2018/12/28/my-top-5-style-icons-and-why/

To Ponder

To me, pondering is like a rolling tide, swirling in loads and loads of seashells and sand. It’s like falling back into the deep, fresh fallen snow, sinking lower and lower till you almost have to dig yourself out. It’s the billowing clouds above shifting and turning with the wind, the jet streams drawing one near while sending another away. It’s the swirling of autumn leaves as they gently fall off the oak tree and spin and twirl toward the dirt in a waltzing dancelike motion.

You see, I ponder things. I wonder. I analyze. I muse. I imagine. I postulate and theorize until all facts and thoughts are gathered and brought to conclusion, and resolution, yet, attempting to not assume, surmise or conjecture. I meditate on scriptures, contemplating their meanings for my life and the course I might take. I cherish memories and reminisce of days gone by, how things were, how they might have been, and, sometimes, even how they should have been if the outcome was less than desirable.

It makes me think of the scripture spoken of the mother of Jesus, “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) I am by no means aligning myself with Mary, as she was much more meek, humble and chosen. Yet, I think of how she might have pondered all the wonderful things about Christ, even from his birth, and I aspire to be like that. She seems to be a woman who pondered and mused the things that happened to her, to her family and to her children. She seemed to be a woman of deep thought, possibly even, a woman of few words. Taking things as they come, adjusting as she must, and living life with faith and strength through the good and the bad.

Yeah, I think I’d like to be like that, a person of that same character. And so, I ponder. I treasure. I cherish. I reflect. I nurture and cultivate the thoughts and happenings around me. I study, deliberate and reason why His Word tells me what it does. I pray these wonderings lead me deeper and deeper in my walk with Him.

So, I will ponder.

Will you?

17 Years … Have We Forgotten?

Written yesterday, on the 17th Anniversary of 9/11…

Consumed with memories today…

I will never forget the feelings as I sat on the bed in a hotel room in Cleveland, Tn, on this day 17 years ago. We were in town for a funeral, and I was holding JGrizz in my arms. He was only one month old. My mother knocked on my door to tell me what happened, and I didn’t believe her until I turned on the news. I sat in disbelief, shock, fear and grief as I watched all of the events play out. It felt like a nightmare, a terrible, never-ending bad dream.

How could this be happening in our nation, America, the home of the free and the brave? It was so overwhelming; it was almost hard to breathe. We went to The Blue Hole (a beautiful rock filled area on the Ocoee River) later that day just to try to collect our thoughts and the gravity of what this horror meant for our country.

Then, just days later, I watched with pride, honor and respect as men and women began pulling together as communities, people of all races, backgrounds and walks of life began looking past themselves to something bigger: the rebuilding, the protection, and the defense of a beautiful nation. Firefighters, police officers, welders, construction workers and so many others would come in droves from all over the country, on the backs of big rigs, stop at red lights in NY and be cheered on by the business men and women who were waiting to cross the streets to try to carry on a “new normal” workday. The builders rebuilt and mended the broken walls while the New Yorkers tried to make some semblance of understanding of their, now, broken city. Hope was slowly seeping into every crevice, chasing away the shadows, as love ones were pulled from the ruble, as small miracles were found along the way.

Everyone went the extra mile, wanting to leave no one behind. Everyone worked hand in hand, side by side, to restore the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness upon which this nation was founded. Bravery, chivalry and just sheer, raw, unapologetic guts and strength were applauded that day and each day thereafter.

It was a horrific tragedy, an unimaginable crisis that brought this nation together that year, because the pain, destruction and new purpose for healing was bigger than any trivial opinion, any mindless political jargon, and any petty argument brought about by boredom and self-exhalation. Let us NEVER FORGET what happened that day and the days, months, and years that followed. Let us never be so consumed with the frivolous manic speeches of today’s media and the inessential accusations and fallacies that it takes this kind of world shaking for God to once again get our attention as a nation.

Pray now, church.

Let us NEVER FORGET.

*I do my own not possess either of these pics. Found in a simple google search.*

A Trade Off

Sometimes, I have to remember that I don’t have to continue in my weakness, thinking somehow, it’s going to magically turn into greatness. When the Scripture says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13) that’s what it meant!

I am only strong when I admit my weakness and allow Christ to rule and reign in my heart AND in my actions! I am only refreshed when I throw my weakness into His greatness! I am only encouraged and able to carry on when I release my pride and stop pretending to be strong and realize I am only strong because of Christ living inside of me!

Thank you, Jesus, I don’t have to muster up some pretend faith to be a valiant warrior when I am just a truly, the warrior is a child. Thank you for trading my weakest moments with Your strongest power! Thank you that you are able! You are faithful, and You are strong! ❤️

Like a Bomb or a Flower?

I saw this photo the other day, and it made me think about its meaning…

A flower is…

Beautiful. Delicate. Created by the Master Designer. Needs water, soil and sunlight to grow and survive. Some grow perfectly on the windowsill while others flourish in a great garden. Some attract bees, insects and spiders, but most all invite a gentle touch, a sweet smile and a deep inhale and exhale of stress relief. Some open up with beauty in the early morning hours and close up to shield their fragility as the sun sets. Some can weather the worst of storms and then be crushed by the tiniest of hands.

Flowers can represent friendship, love, jealousy and celebration. They can bring healing with their fragrance and comfort with their beauty. They can bring joy to brighten a home and peace to a grieving soul. They have even been known to bring healing to an ailing body and peace to a tearful spirit.

A bomb is…

Intense. Intriguing. Resilient and steadfast for the moment. Needs human hands to be created, moved or altered. Needs nothing to remain as it is, only a man’s touch to flip the switch. Once set, it is just as fragile as a flower under a combat boot. Some are extremely complex. Some are too simple to be described. Some are designed by madmen, while others are constructed by a genius of authority. Some are made to bring harm, while others are invented to protect the innocent and defend the weak.

Bombs can represent danger, fear, desolation and destruction. They can also present honor, courage and perseverance through the darkest of nights. They can’t bring healing, but the when used properly, they can bring deliverance from fierce enemies. They can’t bring love, but when executed with precision, they can bring guardianship against terror. They can’t bring peace, but when stored and presented with life, liberty and pursuit of happiness in the forefront, they can create almost a holy hush that no one dare to unravel.

As a woman, I will choose to be both, a flower and a bomb. Yet, the only way to be perfected in each of these is to be submitted to and placed within the hands of Almighty God. For, He is the only entity who controls the air I breathe and protects the ground on which I walk. He is the only Deity who can bring gentle restoration to the bones and a fierce security to the mind, all in the same nanosecond. Within my own strength, I can be too breakable and too dangerous for anyone’s well being; yet, with His divine wisdom, I, and all those around me, are safe within His grasp, because of His eternal love, grace and justice.

Be Resilient Like a Chicken Nugget

Friends and I were laughing as one shared the hilarious story of “slinging food” at her children on a Wednesday night on the way to church, because as a school teacher, she leaves school at 4:45, goes down the road to pick up child #4 drives across town to pick up her other day three children and husband from home, drives through fast food to get everyone chicken nuggets and make it on time to Wednesday night church! 😂 We all laughed till our sides hurt as she shared all the “mom tactics” to having children clothed and in their right minds with a dinner in their tummies, and her own self in her right mind; so, they could behave and have fun while in the evening program. One of the statements she made was, “Let me tell you. Those chicken nuggets are resilient! They bounce off windows and don’t splatter. They are easy to handle for little fingers. You can get the 20 for $2.50 and have change to spare, too!”

It was such a comical moment, and, honestly, I’m not a great fan of chicken nuggets, but our kids loved them in their early years, and that simple statement made me start thinking…

Chicken Nuggets ARE resilient! We could learn a lot from that little nugget…

1. They are crunchy on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside. It’s ok to have a little tough skin to survive through life’s ups and downs, but be sure to stay soft on the inside. Keep your heart humble and your soul full of grace and love. Don’t be so tough on the outside that you harden all the way through. Nobody wants to encounter all that.

2. They don’t fall a part easily. In this day and age, we’ve got to have a little strength to who we are to survive. We can be, and need to be, cushy soft on the inside to bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patient and with those other fruit of the Spirit. However, all the hyper-sensitive, can’t disagree with someone for fear of “hate speech” actually makes us a weak people and a crippling nation. Toughen up, people. Be resilient and live life full of strength and grace!

3. They come in large quantities for inexpensive prices. Be able to give the good parts of yourself away to lots of people and don’t be too demanding of what they give back. Now listen, I’m not giving you permission to be used and abused. If you tend to be a doormat, please understand, this point isn’t for you. What I’m talking about is giving your love in a hug, an encouraging word or time spent with a friend. I’m talking about sharing laughter, making a memory or spending time with those you love. Share these things in large quantities, and don’t be demanding of a condition to be met for you to share it. People need to know you care.

4. You can’t eat just one. Be the kind of person who is contagious, magnetic and engaging to those around you. Be the sort of friend others aspire to be. Be the type of leaders others seek after. Be the person of whom others just can’t get enough.

5. They are great in just about any sauce or condiment. Diversify your tastes, your likes and your knowledge. Extend your horizons. Learn something new. Try, taste, or even listen to something different than before. You never know, you might like it, and you may even find a new friend along the journey.