Happy Birthday Sean James!!

 Our culture likes to ignore death and pretend it doesn’t happen.   People also act like the ones who have died, haven’t really existed.  They don’t say their names anymore.  They don’t tell their stories.  For those who were very, very close to the one who died–pretending they didn’t exist is not a possibility. 

June is the birthday month of our son Sean. As his parents, we can’t pretend that he did not exist.  Sean is still alive to us.  He is still real.  He is still celebrated and he is still grieved.

I write about Sean and the grief of losing him, and the joy of his life—to help others with their grief in losing their loved ones.  I also want us to know that the person(s) who passed on to eternity–can still be celebrated–their life was a gift to those who knew them and loved them.

Our family still celebrates Sean’s birthday.  We do this because Sean’s life was a gift to us from God.  When we celebrate, we are acknowledging to God that we recognize that He gave Sean to us, and we are grateful to Him.

This past week, my husband and I had lunch with a young man and his wife who are going into ministry.  This young man was friends with Sean.  He told me that he started getting more serious about his relationship with God in High School, and some of that seriousness came about because of Sean’s death.  This young man realized that life on earth is temporal, but there was another life after this one. 

When we celebrate Sean’s life—we are celebrating that there is another life after this one–that Sean is in this other life–and he is cheering us on in the race that we are all in–in this life–

Heb 12:1

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Heb 12:2

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Sean is in that great cloud of witnesses, cheering us on.  

 Our loved ones who have run their races of faith here on this earth, are part of that great cloud of witnesses, cheering us on in our races.  

They have not forgotten us, and are rooting for us here on this earth.  In remembering our departed loved ones  and celebrating their lives, we find encouragement and strength to live for eternity, to fix our eyes on Jesus–and to run with endurance our own marathons of life.

If you have ever run in a marathon, you know how grueling they can be, and how there are many times during the race, one is tempted to give up.  Sometimes a cheer from the crowd, or another runner coming beside you to say, “You can do this, I’ll run this part with you to help you through”, is the encouragement needed to finish the race. My niece had this experience, she was ready to give up, when a 72 year old woman told her to run alongside of her and my niece said that is why she was able to finish her race. 

I write, to give voice to the ones cheering us on, and to encourage us all on our races–because even if you have not run a Marathon–you and I are in the Marathon of life!!

 Happy Birthday Sean!!  We celebrate your life!!

Thank you for cheering us on!!

We Are Encouraged!!

Happy Father’s Day to all you weary Dads!!

My husband is such a hard worker.  He tries so diligently at everything he does—in his personal life and his work life.  He tries to be the best husband, father, grandfather, firefighter, provider, protector that he can be.   Sometimes, it seems to me that he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders.   

Perhaps you also have a dad or a husband or a loved one who works so hard for you and your family.   This blog is for them—it is to encourage them in their journey through this life.

Below is some scripture that we can all take heart in:

Mat 11:28

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

Gal 6:9

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Heb 12:3

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

God understands that we grow weary, and are heavy-laden–and He is telling us to come to Him, to bring our burdens to Him–and He will give us rest.  He also tells us to not lose heart in doing good–we will reap what we have been sowing, if we don’t give up!  Then He tells us to look at Jesus–who endured—so that we will not grow weary and lose heart.

In addition to these great scriptures–I am including the song, “Weary Traveler.  It is for all the Dads out there—who are trying to do their best—It is called Weary Traveler.   One of the lines in the song is:  You were never meant to walk this road alone.

God wants to walk this road with you.  You were never meant to walk this road alone.

Jordan St. Cyr – Weary Traveler (Lyrics)

May We Be Encouraged!!

Song: Weary Traveler

Artist: Jordan St. Cyr


Weary traveler 

Beat down from the storms that you have weathered 

Feels like this road just might go on forever 

Carry on

You keep on giving

But every day this world just keeps on taking

Your tired heart is on the edge of breaking 

Carry on

Weary traveler, restless soul 

You were never meant to walk this road alone

It’ll all be worth it so just hold on

Weary traveler 

You won’t be weary long 

No more searching

Heaven’s healing’s gonna find where all the hurt is 

When Jesus calls we’ll lay down all our heavy burdens 

Carry on 

Someday soon we’re gonna make it home

Weary traveler, restless soul 

You were never meant to walk this road alone

It’ll all be worth it so just hold on

Weary traveler 

You won’t be weary long

Did I ever tell you about the time, my husband lived a block away from Jeffrey Dahmer?

My husband and I lived in Milwaukee, when Jeffrey Dahmer was killing and eating people.  In fact, my husband lived only a street away from where Jeffrey Dahmer lived.  We did not know he was doing this.  No one knew for years–that he was doing this.  However, when my husband and I were dating each other, my husband was very protective, and asked that I call him when I arrived at my apartment.  One night, I got caught up in a conversation with my landlady and forgot to call him.  He showed up at my doorstep, very concerned.  It touched my heart that he showed such protection for me.  At the time, I thought it was a little bit overboard, but in hindsight, knowing someone like Jeffrey Dahmer was out there–it was not too much protection at all!!

We like to think that Jeffrey Dahmer is an aberrant – and that people who go into schools and shoot children are an aberrant– but in reality–we as people are capable of great evil–as holocausts down through ages have shown. 

I’m sure people have thought we have evolved and are beyond these things–but anyone who studies history knows that we have not changed in nature, all that much.

What is God’s response to our evil against each other? We are told that God grieved and regretted making humans. Genesis 6:5,6

 Honestly, when you look at human history, and you see what the Nazi’s did in killing 6 million Jews, or the communists in Russia did in killing a least 20 million people, or the Chinese communists in killing 75 millions Chinese— (and this is just a short list–there are so many, many more atrocities), don’t you wish for some justice—a little wrath of God bringing about the end of this evil!

That was what Jonah was wishing for against the Ninevites.  The Ninevites were enemies of the Israelites and Jonah hated them. So when God told Jonah to go to them and tell them, their end was near—and they should repent– Jonah didn’t want to go.  He knew God.  He knew God was kind and merciful, and that if the Ninevites repented – God would spare them.  He wanted the Ninevites to die!!   You know the story—Jonah disobeyed God—got swallowed by a great fish–the great fish spit Jonah up on the shore of the Ninevites–and Jonah preached his message of doom and repentance.  (The Ninevites had just seen this guy come out of a giant fish–so that lent Jonah a certain credibility–they ended up repenting—and were saved.)  Jonah was sad–he wanted to see justice not mercy.  God was tender with Jonah–God understood Jonah’s desire for justice, but God wanted Jonah to understand God’s desire for mercy.

Actually–there are plenty of times throughout Biblical History where justice was served, and wrath was delivered.   But, these times were after God endured with great patience, many, many atrocities.  

Our sin against each other–our evil against each other, brings about God’s wrath.

Why?  Because God loves us, and He can’t stand to see this evil.  He knows how much we hurt each other.  If we are so bent on destroying each other, He will eventually take the option out of our hands.   I also think God grieves, because He made us in His image—until sin destroyed and distorted us.  Just as we are capable of great evil, we are also capable of great nobility and good.  How He grieves to see His image distorted in us—how He yearns to bring us back into a relationship with Him, and restore us to who He meant us to have been all along.

Why does this God of wrath seem so different from the God of love that we see through Jesus?

Actually, this God of wrath is not at all different than this God of love.  

When Jesus went to the cross and took all the sins of the world upon HImself, the Father’s wrath was unleashed upon Jesus.  Jesus said, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Matt. 27:46

Jesus—the second person of the Trinity–God in human flesh– experienced all the wrath of God for your sin and for my sin and for all of our sins.

Since that time, we have been living in a time of grace, mercy and forgiveness.  God wishes for none to perish, but for all to come into repentance.2 Peter 3:9

God has been continually reaching out to us with arms of love and forgiveness.   Apart from God and His Spirit and His power—we are essentially the same humans we have always been—capable of great evil, and deserving of great wrath.   With God’s spirit and power, His image is restored in us.  

It is only in understanding who we are–and how much we need what God is offering to us that we can really appreciate the great gift offered to us through Jesus.  

 Many people have a difficult time believing in God’s forgiveness and love–they feel undeserving of it.  I’m here to say–they are not deserving of it, neither am I, nor is anyone:

”For by grace we are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:8,9

God’s forgiveness and love are a gift, we can not work for it, we can not earn it.

“ For The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

We earn and deserve eternal death for our sins, but God is giving us life through what Jesus has done for us.  It is a gift—we receive this gift by faith.  Prayer is a way to express this faith.

Here is a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I need You.   Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins.   Thank you for the gift of your life, for the gift of eternal life.   Please come into my life, and make me into the person, You created me to be.  Amen.

Here is a link you can go to to find out more about growing in this relationship with God:  startingwithGod.com   Remember, God wants to restore each of us to who He meant us to be all along.  

As always–May we be encouraged!!

**Picture is of Milwaukee’s skyline

Journeying through the land of Disappointment…

Disappointed with God?   This is the title of a book that we were given to read after Sean died.   Philip Yancey wrote this book.  It seems like a sign of arrogance to be “disappointed” with God.  I mean God is God–who are we as finite humans with limited understanding to be disappointed–or angry with Him?

Yet, I must admit–I have come through a time of being disappointed, and angry with God.  I didn’t want to be disappointed.  I didn’t want to be angry.  But I was.   Why?   So many reasons, but the main reason–the reason behind all the other reasons–is because I was struggling to trust God.   He had disappointed me.  He had not met my expectations.  My feelings were hurt.

Did He care?  Did He still love?  Did He still have power?  Why hadn’t He acted yet?  I have been waiting so long?  At least  for a human who has a 70-90 year life span it feels like forever however–not such a long time for God–who is an Eternal Being.

I am reminded of my children when they are waiting for something they desire—I know that they will receive it soon–in a matter of hours or days or months–depending on what they are waiting for–whether it be a treat or an outing or a long desired present—but they do not know they will receive it.  They must trust in my word and if I have not given my word–they must trust in my character and in my love for them–that I desire the best for them and of them.  Many times the waiting process does them in–and the temper tantrums set in.   

I have been struggling with my own waiting process, and while I haven’t been having temper tantrums–(Ok–maybe I have. 🙂  )I have been honest with God.   I have told Him of my feelings of anger.  I have told HIm of my feelings of disappointment.  (Let’s be honest–He knows I am feeling these feelings anyway.)

Yet, I have also admitted that I didn’t want these feelings–I wanted to trust Him.  I wanted to love Him, I wanted to believe the best of Him.

What does that mean to believe the best of God?  It means believing that He does what He does—with all wisdom, all knowledge, all love, all power.  

It also means accepting that there is evil in this world.  Evil is the opposite of God, but not equal in power to God–not even close.

However, evil does intend to steal, kill and destroy—our faith and hope and love–in God and in each other.

I’d say evil has been doing a bang up job of doing that.  

So what do I do when I am disappointed with God?

I admit it.  I am honest about my feelings.  Yet–I am also honest about my wants.  I want to believe and trust in God, and I ask Him for the faith to believe Him, to trust Him.  I am like the man who cried to Jesus, “Help me with my unbelief!”  

Yesterday, I was struggling, praying that prayer–for help, for faith!.  Today, I woke up, and I found myself—believing in the goodness of God and the infiniteness of His Love.  Today, I am experiencing God’s presence, and my soul is rejoicing.

How long will this last?  I don’t know—I’m sure something else will happen that will cause me to doubt God’s goodness and God’s love.  I will have another choice to make about being honest with God about my feelings, and asking for His help.

Scripture is full of conversations between human beings and God–where they were honest about their feelings–and they dialogued with God. Abraham had those conversations, as did many of the prophets–Elijah, and Jonah to name a few. What strikes me about those conversations, is that God listened, and God was tender with them.

I hope my honesty about my struggles will help you—-If you are struggling, and in the land of disappointment.  I hope your journey in that land will be short, but you will learn what I have learned from my own journey—that even though I did not, “feel” God, He was with me during every step of the journey.  And even though evil is trying to kill, steal and destroy us, “If God is for us, who is against us?”  Romans 8:31b    In other words–it doesn’t matter if evil is against us–because the overwhelmingly loving and powerful God is for us–and He will never leave us or forsake us, and nothing will separate us from His love, not even death.

May we be encouraged!!