Holy Ground

Last week was spent with family. My dad in law passed away and we spent an entire day waiting with Mom for Dad’s homegoing.

My sister texted me as we sat in that nursing home and told me that I was on “holy ground”. Indeed…..it was holy ground. That sacred space between this world and the next. Waiting for Dad to make his way into the arms of the waiting Father.

Last week was an honor and a privilege. It was a celebration and a heart ache. Those days, where time narrowed and focused on the life of one man….my dad in law. Time stood still….the world and it’s big issues were ignored and love and family time consumed us.

Memories were shared. Many heavy sighs were breathed. Tears and laughter mingled at the same time…. Hearts ached for those of us left behind and rejoiced for Dad who journeyed on ahead.

Memories of a man who loved to sing and play harmonica. Memories of a man who tilled the soil and milked cows…a man who was incredibly proud of his military service and a man who loved a good bag of jelly beans. We remembered a man who loved his wife and his family well.

Dad wasn’t perfect, but he was perfect for our family and for the life he lived. He left many memories for Mom, his children, grandchildren, family and friends and those memories will be passed along to his great grandchildren.

Looking back on that week brings the realization of what really is important. Living honestly, loving well, building relationships with family and friends and understanding that this life is not about us.

We stood in that cemetery on a beautiful morning. We listened to the pastor remind us that our hope is not in this temporary dwelling place…we saw my mom in law receive the American flag ….we heard the shots echo and the lonely sound of taps played in the distance.

We did not say good-bye as we stood on holy ground. We knew this was instead “till we meet again”. We got to see what a legacy really looks like ….faith….family….and how your life is lived in the time you are given.

Thank you Dad for the lessons you taught…not only in how to live life but how to leave this life for the next. You will be missed…till we meet again.

“You live to die….
you die to live.”
Ruth Fondse

Mountaintops and Valleys

I was reminded today, reading blog posts,  that not everyone is celebrating something fun, exciting and wonderful. Some are grieving and remembering a last year that has been filled with pain and sadness. My heart goes out to those living in the valley.

I am not sure what I can do to help. Sometimes there are no words to share…..nothing one can do to ease the hurt. I think at those times a hug, an acknowledgement that we don’t have the answers, and a big sigh might be all we can offer….and it will be enough.

The song that I posted above is one of my all time favorites. The first time I heard it was at a Christian Women’s Retreat at Inspiration Hills. It stuck in my head and took root in my heart.

The words are amazing and provide a wonderful sense of hope. They give strength to get through the tough times because of the hope of what is to come. There is great hope in the promise of eternal life.

The story behind this song is as follows:

“I lost one of my best friends over the weekend, to cancer.  Pastor Mark Steele was a man who absolutely poured his life into loving God and shepherding people.  We will miss him beyond words.  Corinne’s and my heart are with his family and his church.  I’m posting this lyric from a song I wrote years ago, as a tribute to Mark, as he moves from life to Life, and as a reminder to all of us of the hope we can hold.” ~ Greg Ferguson (author of this song)

 

what a day it will be


what a day it’s gonna be
when as last your captive heart beats free
and all that is within you sings
in heaven’s own harmony
sweet release from all your darkest fears
the sound of laughter that’s been lost for years
you’ll never cry another lonely tear
as your sad heart finally
finally sings

hallelujah
what a day it will be

all those angels that you’ve never seen
watching over you behind the scenes
will at last have reached their goal
presenting you restored and whole
just watch the Father laugh and smile
lifting up His joyful child
and hear the host of heaven sing
in a sweet and soulful angel choir singing

hallelujah

what a day it will be
 
hallelujah
what a day it will be

even now in the in between
we could write it off as an impossible dream
but it’s more than a dream to me
’cause even now i can see
enough to believe

So for those of you who are finding life to be a tough place to be. May you be comforted by the lyrics. May you feel the grace of the Father as He places His arms around you and may there be friends and family who will be Jesus “with skin on” to you” this weekend.

For those of us who have been celebrating. May we open our eyes to those around us. May we open our arms to those who need that hug and may we be a blessing to someone who needs to feel blessed.

Your life is made up of two dates and a dash.
Make the most of the dash.
Unknown

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Life is Hard…Share Hope

thunderheads with verse.jpg

There are some days when life seems like it is just running along smoothly, the sky shines brighter, the air smells sweeter and the day just seems to shine like gold. And then there are days that are not any of those things.

Those are the days that seem to stretch into eternity. The days that you know have changed life forever and you know that you will have to find an entirely new “normal”.

In the last two days there are people I know and love who are having to deal with things in life that really make you wonder what kind of plan God actually has. These are people who are having to put aside all the hopes and dreams that life seemed to promise. Their stories are not mine to tell so I will leave it at that.

The flip side of this story is mine, yours, and anyone else who knows of someone who needs to know that God is still faithful, that He still loves and that God knows the road they are traveling. He knows the end to this new beginning.

I think in times of hardship, death, loss, we have been put in place by God to be there for others.  Not to just offer words that don’t penetrate the fog of loss, but to offer us.  To offer our love, our caring, our tears, our hugs……US.

In the offering of us…..we offer hope……hope that life will not stay this hard. Hope that God has not forgotten. Hope that family, friends, acquaintances share in the struggle. Hope that “Joy does come in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5b).

I probably write this to ease all the feelings I have swirling inside me just thinking of the two phone calls I received this week. The feelings of inadequacy in not knowing what to do or say in situations where there really are no words. Trying to make sense of the tears that threaten to fall and run down my face. I know that if I feel this way; how much harder it must be for those walking that dark road now and dealing with that loss in the years ahead.

A year or so ago the Pizza Ranch put out a CD titled “Living Hope”  It is a variety of artist singing songs that speak hope to a hurting world.  One of my favorites is called “Hold On To Hope” by Ellie Holcomb. It is a song that comes to mind for the dark days and long roads. It makes me want to be there for those walking that road.

I want to be a hope giver, I want to let people know they are not alone, I want to breathe life and hope into darkness, I want to be Jesus with skin on. I want them to see the love of God reflected from me. I think that is what I am called to be. I think that is what we are all called to be. I know I can’t do that job perfectly and I usually fall far short…..but I do know that God can take what I have and use it for His good.

Let us be hope to someone, somewhere today.

 

  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1