The strength of our hearts.

In the past two weeks, the phenomenon of time has, once again, proved to be greater than my understanding.  Although I walked slower than usual, paused in places of solitude, and literally stopped to smell the roses, time has still flown.  While sitting now in a coffee shop, I reflect on the past 16 days.  Tomorrow will be Sunday, two weeks since the funeral, two weeks since the first time I picked flowers from the sprays at Mammaw’s graveside.

Healing is a process.  Healing is a day-to-day, hour-to-hour, get-through-each-minute kind of a process, and honestly, I don’t know yet if it ever truly ends, at least not on this side of Heaven.  Often, I find myself saying that my grandparents live in Grenada.  If someone asks, “How are they doing?” most times, it’s just easier to say, “He’s doing great.  Thanks for asking.”  The truth is that I still miss her.  Every minute of the day, I miss her.

Today while standing at the stove making soup, I made a promise to Mammaw.  Whenever I have children–God willing that this happens, especially if I am blessed with a daughter–I promised Mammaw that I will tell them all about her.  I will pull a chair into the kitchen and set it in front of the stove.  While letting my child stir the contents within a great big pot, I will tell him/her about the many times I did the same thing with my grandmother: making homemade Play-doh by the recipe in Mammaw’s Bell’s Best cookbook held together by duct-tape.  We will sit at the table and pour through the pages of the cookbook that she gave me before going off to college.  At the end of it, we will find her name–Gerry Harden–and the recipes that she shared within the book.  It’s called Endless Blessings, and what an endless blessing it has been and always will be to me…

Thank you for reading my ramblings tonight.  Although filled with my jumbled thoughts, hopefully there is one message that will shine through: the steadfast strength that comes from God.

“My flesh and heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart

and my portion forever.”

Psalm 73:26

No matter what you are going through, God is for you.  Your flesh and your heart will fail.  Even your greatest efforts, your hardest tries, and your acclaimed achievements will fade in the shadows of the obstacles that seem to stand in your path.  But praise be to God that this does not mean that your path is at the dead end!

God doesn’t take us on detours around the obstacles in our lives.  Instead, God walks with us through each and every one.  It’s in these times that we learn most what it means to rely on God and His strength alone.

“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,

my glory, and the lifter of my head.

I cried aloud to the Lord, 

and he answered me from his holy hill.

I lay down and slept;

woke again

for the Lord sustained me.”

Psalm 3:3-5

Tonight, cry aloud to the Lord, and He will answer you.  Listen for His whisper… Lay down and sleep tonight and wake to the morning sustained by the love and strength of our great Father… He is the strength of our hearts.

Sleep well, dear readers 🙂

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More than a rose from the casket.

On Sunday, we celebrated the beautiful life of my Mammaw, Gerry Harden.  And even though there are thousands of words in the dictionary that I could choose, there is one word that best describes that tear-filled day: hopeful.

If thinking only about the secular meaning of the word, you might wonder why I would choose hopeful as the best description for that sad day.  Even for me, in the majority of the time since Thursday morning at 10:07 am, I would have scoffed at the thought of being hopeful during this time of grief.  The temptation to focus on her absence, the lifeless body that lay in the casket, and the constant reminders of life with her before: this temptation was overwhelming.  With force, it ruled over my body, my mind, my heart, my soul.  I didn’t want to eat, sleep, talk, or carry on in life without her.  I loved her at a depth that I couldn’t even fathom.  I still do. She was my Mammaw, the mother of my very own mom, the feeder of our family, the unifying force that brought our extended family together year after year.  And in that phone call on Thursday morning at 10:58 am, she was gone…

You see, in order for there to be hope, there must be something in life that causes us to need hope in the first place.  Something has to happen that robs us of our joy, steals our passion, or even makes the journey of our life seem to have reached an end.  As the contrast to total despair, that is the only way that we can see that hope shines, cutting brilliantly through the darkness.

There is no doubt in my mind that many more tears will be shed.  Grieving is part of the healing process.  As a co-worker told me yesterday after my SECOND breakdown of the day by only 9:30 am (I had only been there for 30 minutes), “You just have to get it out before you can get it together.”

I look back now on all the tears that I’ve shed, and while I don’t regret a single one, there comes a point when we cannot continue to live in the darkness of mourning.  If we truly believe that Christ died for the sins of the world, to be the living sacrifice that would one day bring God’s children back to Himself, we cannot cling to suffering.  We must reach out in faith; we must continue on in hope.

What is difference between secular hope and hope that the Gospel offers?  Hope in this world is merely the wishing that things would be different, that things would get better, and it is marked by the possibility  that what is hoped for WILL NOT or CANNOT happen.

But this is not the same hope that we have through Jesus.

The hope that Jesus offers is based on God’s promise, the Truth.  This hope is the blessed assurance that God’s promise WILL be fulfilled!  That Jesus WILL come back and that he WILL abolish the darkness and all that’s in it, that one day we WILL sit in the lap of our Father, and He will wipe away every single tear: this is the hope that we have.  He will tell us, “Shhh, my child, death is overcome.  Mourning is no more.  Heaven has come to this new earth, and I am here.  I am here.”

On Sunday, October 16, 2011, we may have laid Mammaw’s earthly body in the ground, but we did not bury her spirit.  The life that she lived and the legacy carrying her memory forward: forever, these will always live inside of me and inside of those that knew her.  She was and still is a remarkable woman of God.  Never will I use only the past tense to talk about her because this is the hope that I have in Jesus: the spirit of my Mammaw, Gerry Harden, is still alive and well.  Right now, she is smiling down on me and on all of her family and friends.  Free from the devastation of ALS, I can hear her saying to me,”If only you knew what it feels like to be in the presence of Jesus…”  If only we could experience it on this side of heaven…

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;

you have loosened the sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,

that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.

O Lord my God, 

I will give thanks to you forever!”

Psalm 30:11-12

And so here I am, learning now to praise the Lord even in the midst of this hard time.  He is the giver of real hope, the kind that, through faith, will give me the strength to keep on going and rejoice in the promise of Heaven.  Deep down, I know that I have more to cling to than a single rose that I pulled from the cover of flowers on Mammaw’s casket.  I have even more than the memories of our past together…

…I have the promise of our future together.

——

Hope that comes from the Lord: what a beautiful promise this is.

——

There’s another angel in the choir…

 

This morning at 10:07am, my sweet Mammaw went home to meet Jesus… Praise the Lord that she is singing in His heavenly choir.  Although there are so many things that I wish to say right now, honestly I just need time… time and prayer.

God bless you!  Tell your loved ones that you love them so much.  Hug them tightly, praise God for the gift of their presence in your life… To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen

Hemmed in, behind and before…

 

Do you ever have those days when it seems like you’re being pulled in 20 different directions all at once?  Well, that’s exactly how I’ve felt…

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

You discern my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down, 

you are acquainted with all of my ways.

Even before a word a word is on my tongue, 

behold,

O Lord, you know it altogether.

You hem me in, 

behind and before, 

and

lay your hand upon me.”

Psalm 139:1-5

Even in these times of life that feel crazy and rushed, remember always that God is intricately involved in our lives.  He’s present with each of our steps… Remember also that Jesus can calm our storms…  I’m about to be late to a meeting, but thank you for sitting with me for a moment and remembering the great truth of Psalm 139:1-5.

Take time today to be thankful for what’s most important…

Today, I’m thankful for my grandparents and for those pines that PawPaw loved while he was here 🙂  It’s just one of those days today… trying to cherish what’s most important on even the busiest of days.  Thanks be to God for our wonderful and many blessings

With all of my love,

Sarah 🙂