Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Loss is an inevitable part of life. It comes in all shapes and sizes, from the aggravating loss of misplacing your keys to the devastating loss in the death of a spouse. For some losses, such as the keys, we have to blame ourselves. Other times the blame falls on others—the drunk driver who caused the accident. The most painful times are when we want to blame God.

In recent times we’ve watched loss stick up its head for us and many in our lives. Last summer we had to part with the sweet little dog we had loved for twelve years. A friend had her marriage and family snatched away from her. (Though it was a step-family, she had been very close to them.) A former coworker watched his wife lose her valiant fight against a tumor in her brain. Most recently, a young couple, ecstatic over the prospect of twin girls, lost one of them at 32 weeks and but for the quick skills of the doctors would have lost the other one. At every occasion in this little girl’s life, someone will be missing.

Loss hits us in other ways, too. Loss of vision causes confusion, struggle, and sadness. Loss of freedom brings pain, not only emotionally, but sometimes physically. Loss of a limb, or even the temporary use of a limb, can slow our world down in frustrating ways. Loss of an opportunity can set us back and pile up frustration. Loss of a dream can leave a hollow, gaping hole in the spirit.

How we deal with the losses in our lives often defines our character. If we stew, rant, or wail, we may release some emotion—but it seldom changes or improves anything. If we close up, pull into a shell, and hold the rest of the world at bay, we nurse the loss and keep it alive. If we strike out and strike back, we risk destroying relationships and perhaps opportunities.

A strong, foundational faith in God can be an anchor when dealing with loss. Having faith that God knows what will be best frees me to accept a loss without debilitating hopelessness.

I learned something about loss when we brought my precious daddy to our home for what turned out to be the last fifteen days of his life. The better the relationship, the more pain you will suffer when you lose it. Yet I’ve never found anyone willing to trade the good of the relationship for hurting less when it was gone.

May God grant give us strength to face the losses of life with courage, wisdom, and confidence in His divine ability to help. May we deal with them in ways that make us people of God and our world a better place.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Time…it’s a merciless taskmaster, isn’t it? When we’re very young, it seems to crawl. The birthday, or Christmas, or the trip to grandma’s—all seem like they will never arrive. All efforts to speed them up fall short. On the other hand, as every senior knows, the longer you live, the faster time seems to move. The appointment you’ve been thinking was next week is suddenly upon you. The bill you were putting off paying is now overdue. The week is just getting started—and oops! You find yourself at the end of it.

Years ago I came up with what I decided is a logical reason for why life feels this way. Think about it. When you were five years old, a year was twenty percent of your life. By the time you reached ten, a year was only ten percent of your life, and at twenty years, it was only four percent. At age fifty, a year is down to only .02 percent of your life. No wonder it seems to flash by more quickly! I’m not sure how scientific that reasoning is, but it makes sense to me.

No wonder God urges us in Scripture to “number” our days (Ps. 90:12). The reason given for that urging is that we might “gain a heart of wisdom.” My, how we all need that!

These days I find myself feeling like the final moments of an egg timer. The sand is moving faster and faster, and the amount in the top half is shrinking visibly. The difference between an egg timer and real life, however, is that in the timer I can always see exactly how much is left. In life I can’t. I have no idea whether God is going to give me five more years, or fifteen—or only five more weeks.

My heart knows that I don’t want to know that number. To know it was short would put immense pressure on me to accomplish things I know I both need and want to do before I check out. If I knew it were long, I’m sure I would find myself stressing about whether my body will serve me that long, what will happen to dear family members—not to mention what might happen in this teetering world.

But the fact that I don’t know beyond this day or hour creates its own kind of stress. All of it waves in my face that one profound word – TRUST!! I admit I’m not doing very well with it these days. I’m not worrying much about “bucket-list” things that so many talk about. I’ve had an incredibly rich and rewarding life. But I do find myself stressing about whether I’m accomplishing the things God wants me to be accomplishing at this time, this year, this month, tomorrow.

Everything in me knows that God has it all under control. He knows exactly what lies ahead. I’m so grateful for that, and I am grateful that I do not know any more than I do. Twelve years ago when I had cancer, we found and posted on our bathroom door a sign that said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. God is already there.”

We’ve moved to another home in another state, but the sign is still on our bathroom door—only now it’s the bathroom my husband uses. Maybe I need to put it where I can see it even more often.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Another New Year

Today my grandfather would be one hundred thirty-two years old. He was fifty six when I made him a grandfather—a year younger, come to think of it, than I was when I became a grandmother. A year or so from now, I’ll be the age he was when he died—but I expect to stick around longer than that.

Back to the new year. When I was young, I was very sentimental about seeing an old year out and a new one in. That has worn off a bit with the years. What I still really miss is the New Years Eve services we always had in our churches up north. We would gather at 9 in the evening, have an hour of games or a movie, then an hour of refreshments and fellowship, and finally an hour with a devotional talk and communion. Yes, I do miss that.

New years are time to make note of milestones. A big one for me every time the calendar rolls around is that I chalk up one more year free of cancer. This year (if God keeps it at bay again) will mark a dozen years for me. An interesting twist is that 2012 is a leap year, and I got my diagnosis on February 29, 2000. I could say it is only the third anniversary, but I guess that would be facetious. Seriously, I am most grateful, and this year I am determined to keep my eating habits on a healthier level.

And then there are the new-year resolutions. Like most people, I have a mixed record. I know that some folks, after years of failing with resolutions, resolve not to make them any more, but something in me can’t seem to help it. I don’t know if it’s because there’s always so much in my life that needs improvement, or that I’m such a visionary, or simply because I enjoy setting challenges. My vision for 2012 is a big one, big enough and close enough to my heart that I’m not ready to share it too far afield yet. The good thing about it is that it’s one that will be accomplished in “pieces,” so even if I don’t accomplish all of it, I know I’ll accomplish some of it, and that will carry its own measure of success. Maybe after I accomplish a few of those pieces, I’ll feel like talking about it.

As for 2011, over all it was a good year, though the one sad thing was very sad. Losing our sweet doggie after twelve years was tough, but some members of our extended family had a very tough year in far more important ways. Through God’s grace and strength, they have kept clinging to Him and taking one step at a time. May God give us all grace to do that in the year ahead.

A bright spot in 2011 was that I signed with an agent—but so far that hasn’t resulted in my getting a publisher. I’ve resurrected another of my writing projects that was tucked away for many years, but truthfully, I don’t know what God’s plans are for either the fiction or the nonfiction. I’m just trying to stay tuned.

At least one of my resolutions for 2012 is right here before me—I have restarted my blog. I could beat myself purple for letting it languish for seven months, but I am resolved that blogs are supposed to be our servants, not our masters. We’ll see how it goes.

Above all,the one thing I know is that my life and those of the ones I love are all in God's hands. Whatever happens will not be a surprise to Him, and He will walk with us through it--whether it brings laughter, satisfaction, challenge, or tears.