After Easter Comes What?

easter

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  Galatians 2:20

After Easter…how do I live?  Do I go back to ways that forget what the Crucified Christ means to me and how His resurrection affects me?

Easter is central to my Christian beliefs.  His crucifixion is very difficult for me and yet His resurrection is resplendent.  Easter is a beautiful remembrance of all Christ did for me over 2,000 years ago and Who He is to me now.  I want to live intentionally and thoughtfully in regards to what it means to be a person of the Resurrection in my world all year.  I want to continuously experience the Presence of the Living Christ.  I want to then walk in His Presence before others.

Yet, I seem to still be in the womb so much of the time, afraid to come out.  (As a baby in my mother’s womb, I did not want to exit then either!  Mom said her labor was hard and long.  “You just fought,” she said.)  Christ holds me near as I learn to walk in His Light more and more.  I must come out from the womb, that darkness.  I am to do His will on roads, in cafes, in hospital rooms, in homes…the world.  This is not a doable calling from a safe, warm womb.  

He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.  Isaiah 25:8 ESV

As a person of the Resurrection, I would like to believe that my life shines Christ for others to see, hear, and read, sensing that they have touched the Living Christ, the Hand of God.  Sometimes, this is true, but not always, to be sure.  I want to be less of Linda and more of Christ with each moment.  I am continuously being woven into the tapestry that will be perfect in Eternity…one.thread.at.a.time.

Easter brings HOPE.  As a person of the Resurrection, I pray I am able to offer the beauty of HOPE to a world that finds reasons all around for despair, fear, and hopelessness.

Being a person of the Resurrection allows me to live under the umbrella of God’s GRACE and MERCY.  I accept His forgiveness, offered to me in love.  I pray, too, that I may give these generously.

Easter is all about LOVE“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16  As a person of the Resurrection, I desire to love from His heart, to give from His hand, and share the LORD through my actions, words, love, and life.  May this LOVE cause me to be open and caring towards others. 

As a person of the Resurrection, I do know that the Holy Spirit has come upon me.  I also know that my humanness squelches Him under the Linda that thinks she needs to be in control. Forgive me, LORD.  Please forgive me.  

As a person of the Resurrection, I no longer live in the dark, but carry the Light of Jesus within me as I share light in a dark world.

Delightful Daffodils

God, make me Yours wholly.  Give me courage and strength to be the Linda You desire of me.  Give me wisdom that I would have Your Words and the openness to share Your Truth.   I want to be one of Your people of the Resurrection each and every day, walking in faith.  As You continue to grow me, may I spread hope, love, grace, mercy, and light through Your Truth.  Thank You for giving me life through the death and resurrection of Your One and Only Son, Christ Jesus.  You truly are gracious towards me, Father.  May I carry a Daffodil of peace with me, LORD, wherever I go.  Daffodils just seems to be filled with hope, joy, love, and beauty, all that You are Abba Father.  In the Name of Your Son, I pray.  Amen.

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My Spirit Faints Within Me

Fainting

The word “faint(s)” in Psalm 142 and 143 seemed unusual as I read these Psalms.  We read 142 one evening and then 143 the next and there that word was again.  So I decided to look it up and see where God would lead me.

When my spirit faints within me,
You know my way!
In the path where I walk
they have hidden a trap for me.  Psalm 142:4

When my spirit grows faint within me,
    it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
    people have hidden a snare for me.  NIV

When I am afraid,
    you, Lord, know the way out.
In the path where I walk,
    a trap is hidden for me.   NCV

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
You knew my path.
In the way where I walk
They have hidden a trap for me.  NASB

Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled Psalm 143:3

Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart is desolate within me.  NASB

Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart within me is distressed.  NKJV

So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.  NIV

My spirit is weak within me; my heart is overcome with dismay.  HCSB

עָטַף

`ataph

(aw-taf’)

a primitive root; to shroud, i.e. clothe (whether transitive or reflexive); hence (from the idea of darkness) to languish:—cover (over), fail, faint, feebler, weak, hide self, be overwhelmed, swoon

David reminds me that I may become overwhelmed with fears, with darkness, with frustration, with a variety of emotions, with the things that are happening all around us…in our country and world.  A mind can become oppressed from the inside, while outward troubles can bring on these fears as well.   Matthew Henry states in his Commentary, “It is sometimes the lot of the best men to have their spirits for a time almost overwhelmed and their hearts desolate, and doubtless it is their infirmity.  David was not only a great saint, but a great soldier, and yet even he was sometimes ready to faint in a day of adversity.” *

I have not literally fainted to the ground, but the fears and emotions have overtaken me over and over during my life.  It is just human for most of us, I believe.  Yet, David reminds me that, although, the likes of Saul, Absalom, armies of many sorts may be holding us captive, reaching out to God is the answer.  God listens.  He hears our prayers.  God knows where we are…physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally.  He watches our backs.

Jonah calls out to God ~

When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the LORD,
and my prayer came to You,
into Your holy temple.  Jonah 2:7

Jonah knew that God was with him.  He desired to be close to his LORD.

David also knew just Who to call upon and Who would hear him.  These men praise God for His faithfulness and His protection.  I can sense the love of God through their words too.  I know God is near.  I know He is with me.  I know these truths.  Teach me more, my Father. 

Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;

from the end of the earth I call to You
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,

for You have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.

Let me dwell in Your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of Your wings!  Selah  Psalm 61:1-4

Father God, You are my Refuge, my Shelter when I become afraid of the future, of growing older, serious family illnesses, the violence in our country and in our world.  Father, my heart feels weak and weary sometimes.  You know how things affect me.  Yet, there is only one answer to any darkness of heart or mind…You are that Answer.  I call upon Your Name and You hear me, my Father.  You treat me with love and care.  You nestle me near to Your breast and I know comfort.  I know love.  I know gentleness.  I know You…more and more with each day.  Oh, how grateful I am, my Father.  Thank You for teaching me the Truth in Your Word.  Thank You for healing my faint and stumbling heart.  I want to walk in Your ways and only those.  I fail and yet You forgive this child.  I desire to walk uprightly.  Guide me, LORD.  I love You so.  How can I love You more yet I do with the passing of each day.  I pray in the Truth of Your Son, Jesus.  Amen.

Illustration of heart with heartbeat, electrocardiogram. Vector illustration

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* from “Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Psalm 143”

Unsearchable

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Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
  Romans 11:33

ἀνεξεραύνητος

anexeraunētos

not searched out, i.e. (by implication) inscrutable:—unsearchable

ἀνεξιχνίαστος

anexichniastos

not tracked out, i.e. (by implication) untraceable:—past finding out; unsearchable.

that cannot be comprehended

past finding out

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These two Greek words almost look alike, mean almost the same thing with just slight changes.

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Versions of the Bible use different words to lay this meaning out before us:

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!  NLT

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!  NKJV

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!  NIV

Oh, the depth of the riches

both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!

How unsearchable His judgments

and untraceable His ways!  HCSB

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!  NASB

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways!  NET

Impossible, untraceable, beyond our ability to trace or to find out, unfathomable…the greatness of God, His Omnipotence, His Omniscience, His Omnipresence…He is far more than we can possibly understand at this time.

Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
Your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast You save, O LORD.  Psalm 36:6

Your way was through the sea,
Your path through the great waters;
yet Your footprints were unseen.  Psalm 77:19

God, You are more than my mind can wrap around yet my heart feels Your love and Your care for me.  I know You are with me and hear my prayer.  You are unsearchable but I am learning more and more about You.  I am in love with You and praise You for Who You are.  I thank You with my whole heart for saving me through Your Son’s sacrifice and His love for me, for many such as I.  He was resurrected from the grave and told His disciples that He will return for them, for me.  One day, we will be together and You will still be more than I could have imagined here on this earth.  Will I be able to fathom You even then, Abba Father?  Your mercy, Your grace, Your greatness, Your faithfulness, Your power and Your might?  Jesus said that we may not understand but one day we will.  I look forward to that day, Abba Father.  I lift this prayer in the Name of Jesus.  Amen.

Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”  John 13:7

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Photo:  Heartlight.org @ http://www.heartlight.org/gallery/526.html

I Found Him — When Someone You Know Dies from Suicide…and You Are the One Who Finds Them (Part 2)

SONY DSCWhen you are the one who has lost someone to suicide, whether you had been the one to find them or not, the emotions are huge.  The memories haunt.  The loss is beyond what you could have imagined. If you found someone dead, the images are etched in your mind. They are painful. I am sorry. I understand because I know. Take time to let all of this roll around and be processed. For many, if not most, in this situation, getting counseling is so very important. Going as often as you need to go is really quite okay.

If your mind is filled with the image of suicide, get sweet pictures of this person and look upon them. Place them around the house…around you. Think about him or her when they were alive. Remember things you did together, words shared, special moments. Fill your mind with those images. Talk about his or her life with others who care about you. Celebrating his or her life will help tremendously to change what is imprinted upon your mind from that day. These are ways to work through the pain and begin to replace the images of finding one with happy images. This is not a process that is over in a year or even five. It seems to be ongoing but is less and less over the years. God wants your mind and heart filled with Him.

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, 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. Hebrews 12:1-2

Remember:

  •     You may feel strong anger. That, too, is normal.
  •     You probably feel numb and have difficulty concentrating. Again that is normal.
  •     Be gentle with yourself.
  •     Give yourself time.  Please take care of yourself, and take your healing one step at a time.
  •     And remember that you are a special person.

I journaled in order to express how I felt.  I wondered often what I could have done to prevent this suicide.  I read books on suicide and found that I probably could not have prevented it and should not blame myself, nor feel guilty.

Other things I have found that helped me along this unbeaten path were:

  •    Understand that everyone grieves differently.  You may read about “the stages of grief,” but each person goes through them in their own way.  Your way is the best way for you.
  •    You may deny what happened. Understand that almost everyone does that. It is a normal part of the healing process that you are going through.
  •    Also, unfortunately, there still is a stigma that exists around suicide. Most people do not understand what you are going through. Their words may blame you or are harsh about the one who is dead now. It does not seem fair nor make sense to those left behind.  But stigmas with the word “suicide” do exist.
  •    And please keep in mind that you can decide not to answer any questions that others may ask you. If someone wants to know how your loved one died, you can say that you do not want to talk about it. It is up to you.  No explanation is necessary.  Some people may even ask, “Why did he do that?”  “What could you have done?”…questions that you do not need nor can you even answer.  Giving those questions no answer, or “I don’t know,” or “Please do not ask me this,” may be your best way to handle the insensitivity.
  •    Yes, people can be insensitive. People can be rude. People can be intrusive.  You decide who you want to talk to, when you want to talk to them, for how long you want to talk to them, and about what.

Through Jim’s art, I met the wonderful man to whom I am married to…22 years now.  I had a display of Jim’s paintings scheduled to be on our main library’s mezzanine.  Ken was the Art Center’s volunteer to hang those displays.  We met and that is a whole story unto itself, but God worked through tragedy, bringing beauty from the ashes.

“To console those who mourn in Zion,

To give them beauty for ashes,

The oil of joy for mourning,

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

That they may be called trees of righteousness,

The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61: 3

Amidst the grief, Kenneth and his dear mother introduced me to Jesus.  I read the Bible, studying it as voraciously as I could.  I talked to Kenneth about suicide and Jim.  He spoke and read verses to me…God’s Truth.  He placed me in the hands of Jesus to teach me all He could to help me know that Jesus is the answer.  I called upon the Name of the LORD and He answered me.  He guided me.  He holds my heart when I think about Jim.  I am sorry he did what he did and that he went through pure and certain agony to reach that place.  But Jesus gave me new life and continuously affirms the beauty of our relationship.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

He wants me whole as I grow to be more and more like Him.  He wants that whole Linda to become holy as He is Holy.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

Father, You have saved me from myself and given me a new self in rebirth.  Father, if one is reading this post and has been through the loss of someone they have loved or cared about through the act of a suicide, I pray that Your tender mercies rain upon them and come to reign in their hearts.  I pray that You hold them near.  If they do not know Jesus as their LORD and Savior, I pray that they will seek Your face. Father God, may we each and all know that Your care for us is steadfast.  You hide us in the cleft of the Rock, protecting us, providing for us, and comforting us. Should there be one reading this post who has thought about suicide, I pray for Your saving grace to rain upon them and reign in their hearts.  I pray that they look to You, Jesus, focusing their eyes upon You for You will not lead them astray.  Only satan would do that.  May they rest on Bible verses that touch their hearts. Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 … Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?  Ecclesiastes 7:17   May Your Word stand strong before them and fill them with Your Truth.  May we trust in You and only You.  In the Strong Name of Jesus, I lift these precious sisters and brothers to You as well as myself.  You are the Holy One. Amen.

Resource: http://www.suicide.org/suicide-survivors-forum.html

 

 

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I Found Him — When Someone You Know Dies from Suicide…and You Are the One Who Finds Them (Part 1)

SONY DSCI write this from the perspective of the one who found a dear friend after he had killed himself…suicide.

How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.  Psalm 13:2-4

This man, Jim, was 46 and decided that life had no meaning any longer, I presume. I will never really know…just a heart-felt and honest guess.  He was an artist, but had a hard time making a living from his beautiful airbrushed paintings. He was a machinist by trade.  He had some tough relationships over his all-too-short life.  He had been sober for almost 8 years, had quit smoking for 2 years.  He came from a family of drinking. His mother died of cancer. His only sibling was a brother who chose to separate himself from my friend as well as his parents because he had chosen not to drink.

As a friend, I cared about Jim like a sister would care about her only brother.  We were both searching for Jesus at the time we met.  We did not know that, but we were.  We searched in many-a-dark corner, but continued looking.  I never knew him during his drinking years so my perspective is a bit skewed from others who knew him earlier in his life.  As an artist, a weaver, myself, we began doing shows together to try to make a living being artists when I moved into this same city.  Neither one of us made enough to pay for doing what we loved, but we tried for a while.

I finally found full-time work for I needed a steady income.  Jim continued to paint and even went to New Mexico for six months to gain a different perspective while continuing to paint.  Eventually, he moved back here and then had a hard time finding a machinist job.  Things were not going as he had hoped.

I came home from work one day and found an envelope in the mail slot of my door.  It was from Jim.  He had placed his car title, some cash, and a short note of some silly words that meant something to only me, words we had shared. My heart sank, although I could not really know by the note what I was about to face, and yet, I had an idea. I quickly got in the car and raced over to his house. I let myself in only to find the same note there on the table by the door, along with a note to emergency staff should they have found him before I did. I knew now. I tiptoed through the house until I found him. He had killed himself in a manner that did not leave blood and gore for me to find, but he still killed himself. I still found him. That was 23 years ago. As I type this, it seems like yesterday.

Earlier, I said that Jim and I were searching for Jesus. I never knew if he found Him, but he had a Bible with some verses in the New Testament underlined. He had been reading. He had been looking and, hopefully, had found the One and Only LORD and Savior. I will know him in Heaven should he be there. I pray so.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

Suicide is a terrible thing. Having never been around it up close and personal, I could not have imagined that I would have to deal with one in such a way: police interrogation of me to make sure that I had not killed him (which was such an awful experience and is a vivid memory, even today), neighbors wanting to know why all the police, ambulances, and medical examiner were at the house for over two hours, the remnants of his life in a house that I would inherit because he made a will and left his world to me. I had very few other contacts here except through work, so with friends caring about me from afar, the phone calls were long and tear-filled.

There was so much…so very much to deal with, to handle.

I returned to work and took comfort in the busy-ness of that. I sought counsel through a “suicide-survivor group.” I attended only a few times as I just did not seem to need to tell the same story each week to any newcomer. There were people there who had lost a loved one fifteen and twenty years prior. I knew they were there for their own reasons, but I needed the tender love and comfort from my mother, my sisters and friends in other states, and so it was hard being in one state when my comfort was elsewhere. Within a short time, a cousin came from Chicago and stayed for a few days. Then, my dear mother came and stayed for about three or four weeks to help me clean and ready the house so that I could move in within a few weeks. My mother was the best person for me at that time. I needed people I loved and trusted.

Surround yourself with people who understand. Who care. Who are sensitive. And who will support you. Reach out to those people. Never feel like you are a burden to them because you are not.

My boss loaned me the money for the cremation. She honored me by asking if she could help financially in any way. I had no savings and Jim left me what little he had which was not enough to bury him.

When you are the one who has lost someone to suicide, whether you had been the one to find them or not, the emotions are huge.  The memories haunt.  The loss is beyond what you could have imagined.

Please join me for Part 2 to read how I began to heal from this experience, how Jesus met me in my pain, and for some practical advice on how you can recover from a trauma such as this one.

Part 2 will be posted Friday, 8/14/2015.

 

 

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Photo: Sony:DSC

With Healing in Its Wings

malachi4_2But for you who fear My Name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.  Malachi 4:2

מַרְפֵּא

marpe’

health, healing, cure

health, as of sound mind

refreshing of the body, of the mind

deliverance

remedy

relaxed, tranquility of mind, meekness

This is where I am today.  Surgery…knee arthroscopy: torn meniscus, arthritis rubbing on bone.  A week ago, that surgery.  Yesterday, doctor appointment.  I am walking without Mama’s walker, weight-bearing on the right knee and leg.  I am not quite ready to leap out of those stalls with the calves, but soon!  I begin outpatient physical therapy this week to gain strength, better mobility.  God is so good and so gracious to this one.  I am so grateful to my Healer.

Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.  Jeremiah 33:6

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,
but envy makes the bones rot.  Proverbs 14:30

A sound heart, a heart of meekness, a tranquil heart, a peaceful heart…gives life to this flesh.  LORD, You alone have given me this calmness throughout this time.  The trust in my surgeon comes from You.  The staff that took care of me from pre-op to post-op and all of those in between were just so kind and caring.  You sent me to this small hospital that is doctor owned two years ago for a hip replacement that first time.  It was just as fine in an outpatient setting as it was when I spent nights after surgery.  You know my every need and You held my heart and mind in Your mighty hands.  Your heart melded around mine and kept all systems running perfectly as I underwent this surgery.  Oh, God, I praise You.  My heart tonight still feels the peace of a week ago.  You have walked every step with me this week.  With all the love I have to give You back, I hand my heart overflowing with love to You, O Father.  In the Name of Your Son, I pray.  Amen.   

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Photo:  http://www.heartlight.org/gallery/113.html

In His Strength, Not Mine

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I have not made New Year’s resolutions in many-a-year, but when I saw this little poster on Pinterest, each “to-do” is what my heart’s desire is for each day, each moment.  I do the best I can.  If my walk is close to my LORD, as I strongly desire, I am able only in His Strength, not mine.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 
Matthew 19:26

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

 

Abba Father, You bless me with every heartbeat, every breath.  May my dependence upon You be full.  I want to live each moment in reliance upon You for all I am and all I do.  I pray I know that every gift I receive is from You.  In every encounter, I want the kindness of Jesus to pour through me, out into the heart of the one I am with at that moment.  I want to give You my need to control.  I pray that I would listen to my heart…not only for the beats, but words and emotions that are coming through this lifeline for they will be from You, my Father.  You are my Lifeline for You have filled my veins with the red blood that keeps this body alive, and The Blood of Jesus that has saved me.  I pray that each day will be productive for Your Kingdom.  I ask for Your peace upon me as I do whatever You call me to do.  The very breath I inhale and exhale continuously is from You, so I want to breathe You all my days.  In Your Son’s Holy Name, I pray.  Amen.