Christ is Christmas

It is nearing Christmas and I cannot seem to gather any get-up-and-go to write a post.  It just is hard this year.  It is not that I am avoiding Christmas as I am NOT!  I revere the birth of Christ, my Savior.  I am celebrating Him with each day.  I just can’t seem to write a whole post.  So I shall not.  Just a bit this day! 

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I hope to be back here more steadily in 2019.  I pray that I walk in obedience to the call of God.  

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As most of you know, life has taken a huge turn.  The death of Kenneth, my husband of twenty-five years, changed everything.  I am handling life fairly well.  I seek God at most every turn and with each step.  I need Him and He is with me.  He has never left me not forsaken me…and He won’t.  I went to visit my sisters in August in California.  This past month, I went to see Kenneth’s sisters, one in the Houston area, one in Southern Alabama.  I was gone for two weeks driving all the way.  I spent two hours each week for 13 weeks at GriefShare, a wonderful caring, biblically-based grief group with a leader and co-facilitators, a workbook and video series, along with discussion and sharing.  I am also becoming more involved in my new church, in Bible study, meeting so many precious people. 

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As I grieve, both inwardly and outwardly, I am being healed from the inside-out.  I thank my God for His grace and His mercy.  This is a process and probably a long one!  I thank each of you for praying for me, for loving me, and for caring about me.  Many of your comments and private messages have blessed me so.  Thank you, sweet friends. 

I wish you each a Christmas filled with the love and peace of our Savior, Christ Jesus. 


For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 
Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even
for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
  Isaiah 9:6-7

Merry Christmas

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Image/graphic:  https://rustyrev.wordpress.com/2010/12/25/did-the-christmas-message-find-you/

God is…

 

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Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and Thou art exalted as head above all. 1 Chronicles 29:11

I write about God these days because pitying myself does me no good.  I do not want to feel sorry for myself, yet I do feel sad, deeply sorrowful.  I miss Kenneth so very much.  I also know that God is in control, having numbered Kenneth’s days and those days reached their end.  My days are not up yet so I must and will continue to place one foot in front of the other, trusting in the living God.  He stands by me.  He walks with me through this grief.  He holds me closely as I do my best to live this life as fully as possible, to His glory.

Oh, Lord, thank You for being right here with me, walking me through…not over or around or under…but through this hard season in my life.  Yes, I would love to go Home and be with You.  Yes, I would love to be with Kenneth.  Yes, I would love to leave this hard and horrifying world.  But You are with me and will be until my time is up here on earth.  Thank You, Lord.  Thank You.

This verse in 1 Chronicles 29 is so powerful and so filled with God…Who He is…all that is His…and what I am to be doing.

גְּדוּלָה

gĕduwlah

greatness; (concretely) mighty acts:—dignity, great things(-ness), majesty

גְּבוּרָה

gĕbuwrah

 valor, victory:—force, mastery, might, mighty (act, power), power, strength

תִּפְאָרָה

tiph’arah

beauty(-iful), bravery, comely, fair, glory(-ious), honour, majesty

נֶצַח

netsach

eminence, perpetuity, strength, victory, enduring, everlastingness

הוֹד

howd

beauty, comeliness, excellency, glorious, glory, goodly, honour, majesty

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary:

“His infinite perfections; not only that He is great, powerful, glorious, etc., but that His is the greatness, power, and glory, that is, He has them in and of Himself. He is the fountain and centre of every thing that is bright and blessed. All that we can, in our most exalted praises, attribute to Him He has an unquestionable title to. His is the greatness; His greatness is immense and incomprehensible; and all others are little, are nothing, in comparison of Him. His is the power, and it is almighty and irresistible; power belongs to Him, and all the power of all the creatures is derived from Him and depends upon Him. His is the glory; for His glory is His own end and the end of the whole creation. All the glory we can give Him with our hearts, lips, and lives, comes infinitely short of what is His due. His is the victory; He transcends and surpasses all, and is able to conquer and subdue all things to Himself; and His victories are incontestable and uncontrollable. And His is the majesty, real and personal; with Him is terrible majesty, inexpressible and inconceivable.”

He is…

His are…

The God of the universe is all and all are His.

He is Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.  Matthew 6:13

δύναμις

dynamis

 “inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth”

δόξα

doxa
dignity, glory(-ious), honour, praise, worship

The prayer we were taught by our Lord contains the power and the glory.  We are reminded of Who He is and all that is His.  The Name above ALL names.  He is my God and the One Whom all of myself belongs to and runs to.

Oh, Lord, I pray that this is the way I react to You, the Mighty One to Save.  It is not that I am to only obey and react to Your Greatness, but I desire to see You as the One and Only.  I should not see a victory apart from seeing You as Victorious in all that You are and do.  I should not see the state of being glorified apart from You as Glory…as Splendid.   You are Power.  You are Great.  You are Majestic.  You are Glory and Victory.  Father, You are the Maker of heaven and earth.  All creation bows before You.

“You alone are the LORD.
You have made the heavens,
The heaven of heavens with all their host,
The earth and all that is on it,
The seas and all that is in them.
You give life to all of them
And the heavenly host bows down before You.”  Nehemiah 9:6

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  Romans 1:19-20a

I want to exalt Him, to lift Him up, to supremely elevate by praise.
(I was curious about exult and the difference between these two words.  I had forgotten. Exult means to be extremely joyful, to rejoice.    Psalm 28:7 – The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.)

I am praising God, raising my voice to glorify God as He keeps me.  I am weathering each storm because He is with me, protecting me from the harshness of the cold winds of grief.  He guards my heart with His legions of angels.  He teaches me to listen for His still, small voice.  He also guides me on the path He has for my life.  And I give Him all of my praise.  His Name is above all names.

Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:8-11

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Both riches and honor come of Thee, and Thou reignest over all; and in Thine hand is power and might; and in Thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.  Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name.  1 Chronicles 29:12-13

Father God, I honor You with all I am and all I have.  I pray for Your help in all things.  I pray I remember Who You are and Whose I am.  I am so grateful to be in Your hands.    Thank You, Lord God Almighty.   I exalt You, O God with exultation.  What a Mighty God I serve.  In the Powerful Name of Jesus, the Name above all names, I pray.  Amen.

 

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Photo of bright sky: https://www.kentwarrenmcdonald.com/2017/06/never-blame-god/

1 Chronicles 29:11 Graphic:  http://www.alittleperspective.com/1-chronicles-28-and-29/  —  “All scripture pictures copyright a little perspective. Please feel free to use or share any that you like (free use policy). The scripture pictures may not be sold, and our “alittleperspective.com” watermark may not be removed. I use my own photos, or other creative commons or public domain photos for source photos, but I have not been able to find sources for every photo. I do not wish to violate anyone’s copyright; please send me a note at alittleperspective [at] gmail [dot] com if you are the copyright holder of a source photo and desire its removal. I am eager to do so. Thank you.” by Christine Miller @ “A Little Perspective”

Joy Abounds? Seriously?

Oil of Joy by Stacy Lee Christian Art

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.  Isaiah 61:3

On my recent visit with my sisters, the one I spent the most time with noticed something about me that surprised her, I believe.  She was amazed and delighted to see me with “joy” exuding from my very being.  She used the word “joy” with a sweet happiness on her face. She mentioned it again on the phone this past weekend.

The question is: how can I be exuding joy when I am in the midst of mourning my precious husband?  How can this be? My heart hurts.  It is heavy, filled with sorrow.  The tears come and they go, but they are always right there, ready to leak out.

I have been pondering all of this and believe I know what Annette is seeing, sensing, feeling in and about me.  It is the joy of the Lord It is the Holy Spirit dwelling in me.  It is the joy of the Lord as my strength.  This is the only answer.  Truly, it is!

…yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.  GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
He makes my feet like the deer’s;
He makes me tread on my high places.  Habakkuk 3:18-19

שָׂשׂוֹן

sasown

cheerfulness; specifically, welcome:—gladness, joy, mirth, rejoicing

Matthew Henry, in his Commentary writes about Isaiah 61:3

  • Beauty for ashes. Whereas they lay in ashes, as was usual in times of great mourning, they shall not only be raised out of their dust, but made to look pleasant. Note, The holy cheerfulness of Christians is their beauty and a great ornament to their profession.
    • (Me: As God changes the ashes to beauty, He turns sorrow into joy quickly for He speaks, and it is done.  Kenneth has been gone almost 3 months now [amazing for it seems like yesterday].  Annette not only saw this joy in me a few weeks ago, but she heard it over the phone within the first month after Kenneth died.)

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  • (Matthew Henry):The oil of joy, which make the face to shine, instead of mourning, which disfigures the countenance and makes it unlovely. This oil of joy the saints have from that oil of gladness with which Christ himself was anointed above his fellows,

“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”  Hebrews 1:9

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  • (Matthew Henry):  The garments of praise, such beautiful garments as were worn on thanksgiving-days, instead of the spirit of heaviness, dimness, or contraction-open joys for secret mournings. The spirit of heaviness they keep to themselves (Zion’s mourners weep in secret); but the joy they are recompensed with they are clothed with as with a garment in the eye of others. Observe, Where God gives the oil of joy he gives the garment of praise. Those comforts which come from God dispose the heart to, and enlarge the heart in, thanksgivings to God. Whatever we have the joy of God must have the praise and glory of.

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…looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.   Hebrews 12:2 

“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”  John 15:9-11

“…may be full” … filled with Him.  What greater joy can there be but the joy of the LORD, the One Who went to the cross for us, to save us, to suffer for us.  He was the joy that was set before Him as He endured the cross.  We ask how?  How did He have joy as He died on the cross, the torturous death which it was?  How?  He is joy.  He endured the cross because He loved us each and all so very much.  The cross was horrible, but the purpose for which He endured that cross outweighed the horribleness of it.  It was the reason He came to earth as a human.  He came to take our sin to that cross and gave us eternal life. Joy is beautiful.  Joy is full.

As I was reading a devotional this morning in Psalm 34, I read verse 5.  It said it all:

Those who look to Him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.  ESV

Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.  NLT

Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  NIV

They looked expectingly unto Him, And they became bright, And their faces are not ashamed.  YLT

psalm_34_4-5_3x5So I ask how can I look like joy on the outside when my heart is broken and so filled with sorrow?  Jesus.  I have Jesus.  He is my joy.  I can live each day because I have Jesus.  I am mourning, and I am comforted.  I am mourning and am filled with the love of God.  I am mourning and am filled to overflowing with the joy of the Lord.

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…And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:10b

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Lord, I am truly in awe of Your beauty.  You have so much love for me, Your sheep.  I fail You again and again, yet You never cease to love me.  Thank You, Lord; thank You.  You hold me near as I can feel You right here.  You fill me with unimaginable joy and love in the very midst of grief.  How wonderful You are.  Great is Your faithfulness.  You comfort me with Your touch, Your nearness, Your gentleness.  You change my ashes of sorrow to beauty.  You clothe me in garments of praise, taking the spirit of heaviness away.  And You drench me in the oil of joy while I mourn.  Joy, praise, and beauty that are each and all You projecting from me out into this world.  Thank You for such wonderful gifts, Lord.  I am on my knees before You, loving You.  I pray and I praise in the Name of all names, Christ Jesus.  Amen. 

 

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Credits:

Isaiah 61:3/Joy:  http://stacyleeart.blogspot.com/2009/04/christian-contemporary-art-series-on.html

Beauty for Ashes: https://brandinicolejm.wordpress.com/

Oil of Joy: http://belovedlove.org/

Garments of Praise: https://becomingtheoilandwine.com/2016/06/11/the-garment-of-praise/

Psalm 34:5: http://www.psalmsquotes.com/

Joy of the Lord: https://beingwoven27.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/2adff-joy2bof2bthe2blord.jpg

You Give Me Beauty:  https://mariekalake.com/2014/09/22/beauty-for-ashes/

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