Wednesday, May 28, 2014

That Thursday: Hoping in Grief.

Tomorrow will be six years since I've seen my dad on earth.

With this blog, I try but I know I fail ("We all stumble...") to purpose my posts for "building others up" a la 1 Thess. 5:11.

 You know what's interesting? I get a lot of hits on a post I wrote several years ago: Teaching Kids about Heaven.

It's not me that is doing the teaching, it's the Bible. And honestly we Christians are being bullied on this certainty. There is major fear concerning this topic, naturally, the topic of death, passing on, etc. And I completely understand it.

But I also understand that in that fear and bullying, the ultimate bully, the devil wins. And I do not mean that in a facetious tone. I fully believe that the devil is real. Funny that as I was typing this sentence I got this weird message on Blogger: "An error occurred while trying to save or publish your post. Please try again." Oh, I will keep trying.

Because you need to know, without doubt, and your kids need to know that "death has lost its sting."
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[a]

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”[b]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
1 Cor. 15:54-56
As Christians, we have victory through Jesus Christ over death. 

 Yesterday while we were driving Leelah began to divulge her confusion regarding Tornadoes. Leelah has bouts of anxiety about certain issues: flu shots (she's already worried for a 3 sec. shot in Sept.), random things, and tornadoes.  We all have things we have to work on for our missions here on Earth, this is just one of hers and it's been one of mine as well. 

She asked why God would allow horrible things like Tornadoes to happen. She just couldn't wrap her head around it. 

A dear friend gave me a wonderful, wonderful devotional about 2 weeks after my father graduated to Heaven. The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie.

Up until this moment, I was in my late 20's I had not watched very many sad movies and I had only been to one funeral. It was natural for me to omit deeply sad events in my life. To me, I was protecting myself, but ultimately I was stunting my growth in learning to process grief. Process. Not get over. You do not get over grief. 

Anyone that tells you that is not a friend who has experienced or grown through trials of grief. Their intentions may be the kindest. And that is another thing, for those grieving, get ready to be a Grace giver. People will not understand your pain, how can they? They will forget. They will ask too much or too little and you will have to cut them some slack. You might want to prayerfully ask for help with that. I sure had to.

In the book there is a particular devotional (that's just a verse or thought usually written in a devotional book designed to get your mind focused on God and it gives you a little nugget of knowledge) that talks about why bad things happen to good people. This resource was huge for me in my grief.

So I quickly prayed for God to help me explain to this little one, to build her up, to encourage her that God knows what He is doing even when it seems so horrendous. "ALL things work together for good for those who are called according to His purposes." Romans 8:28

We talked about Gigi (my dad) and how he had not known Jesus personally for 60 years. God used the storm of cancer to bring him home to Him. I told her that Gigi could see Jesus when he had cancer in people bringing us meals, people paging his prayer pager, us praying continually for him, people loving on him, random money from kind people (God) showing up, etc. He was surrounded by Jesus. I told her it was the sweetest times even though it was the hardest. Just like the disciples. Joseph. And so many more. 
I think she got it. She told me she did. I can't worry about it. I will just have faith that God will work it out in her heart with the Holy Spirit. 

My mom, dad and I were sitting in Murphy's Deli inside Methodist about 5 days before my dad graduated. We were trying to grab lunch, but none of us could eat. We didn't know at the time that the cancer had returned, it should have been obvious as my dad weighed 88 lbs at that point. 4 months prior he had the cancer on his bone in his hip and had a hip replacement. I don't know why God kept us from knowing it had come back with a vengeance that week. The devil has tried many, many times to beat me up about this. God won't let my heart succumb to this spiritual battle. 

This was the last time we would eat together as a family. 

And my dad looked at us and I now know he was aware of what was happening. I was not. I just wasn't and I don't know why. Forever optimistic I guess. 

We were waiting on a room for him in the hospital because he had a nasty bout of bronchitis he couldn't shake. He looks at us, and asks if he was going to be okay. I assured him he was going to be fine. How tough he was. He started to worry more aloud. He never did that. Finally, I reminded him that he knew Jesus, "Right dad? Remember?" 

"Yeah I know." He said. This is his testimony if you have time. He accepted Jesus one month prior to his passing with the help of my mom and I'm sure, hundreds of friends praying. You are never too late to know Him. 

He had said his last words several days prior/ They were very strained and so precious, "I love you Gilliebob." I used to bob my head while learning to walk as a baby. 

I was at home when my mom called. I was really sick with a stomach bug and had been sleeping at the hospital and was told I needed to go home and rest. I hate that I wasn't there.

 I cried all the tears in my body. John got me off the ground and we called my best friend, Lesly to come and watch our princess. 

I could only cry and say to her, "It's okay." And she with the words she always has said, "No, it's not." It was exactly what I needed to hear. 
I have no words about what I saw at the hospital. It was surreal and I just know he was gone even though he was right there. He was with Jesus I just had to keep saying. 

The kind chaplain came and held our hands and told us about perhaps starting a new tradition, like planting a tree. We took that to heart and planted a rose bush in honor of him on the one year mark. 

Because I'm a Christian, hope defines my life. And that's why I will end by telling you that my dad visited me in a dream a few days after May 29, 2008. He was smiling. There was gold light everywhere. He was restored. He told me, "I am okay. I love you." 

It pardoned my heart from the horridness I felt telling him that he was going to be okay. He really was! 
It also helped take away the horrible image I had of the shell of the man who had always been the strongest. He was healed. 

I know God used that as a vision to give my heart peace. It was a miracle. You don't have to believe, I do. 

This past Spring in Lovely Girls Club, I got to talk about Jesus' BFF, Lazarus. And this morning I reread his story again. Highly recommend- John 11. Something I realized today was that it was that event, Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (4 days of death in fact) that seemed to be a real turning point in the conversions of many Jews. It spurred even more interest in The Way (Christianity) and it also drew a lot more heat from the Pharisees, the non-believing Jews.

The death of Lazarus was one of the tipping points of Jesus being crucified which was the way we, that believe, could all be saved from sin forever and have that victory over death.

Yet another demonstration of God using bad things for good, the "saving of many lives." Gen. 50:20

Have hope friends.

1 comment:

Dionne said...

Thank you for telling your story! It sounds like Leelah worries like my Sophia does about certain things. I appreciate you sharing words you use to help her understand. It's hard to know the right things to say and sometimes I feel like Sophia doesn't have the kindest thoughts about Jesus. Something we are working on :)