We Need Permission to Grieve

We have a friend who lost her husband a year ago and she told my husband,

‘I am so tired of people asking me I am doing.”

Perhaps she is in denial.  Perhaps she simply does not know how to respond.  Sometimes we can’t find the words or know how to respond.  Maybe she is afraid of her own emotions and afraid of losing her composer.

Her generation didn’t talk about death.  Too many of them, it’s a practical part of life.  Your loved one was there and now they are not.  End of sentence. End of chapter. Close the book.

I believe our Christian friend is in so much pain she is afraid of it.  I get that. As I’ve said in other posts grief fills every part of your body.  My mother-in-law had a rash all over her body that took six months to clear up.  She had to have a blood transfusion because the doctor felt she must be bleeding somewhere inside.  No scan should any blood loss inside her body. One can physically die of a broken heart.  It is a true health issue.  Think about that.  One can literally die of a broken heart.

But, here is the truth, grieve is not a book.  One can not skip a chapter or read the end of the story first.  Grief is a process.  For some it’s a short journey for others it’s a lifetime. Mine will be a lifetime and that is okay.  I don’t mean bawling all day, not sleeping, constantly thinking of Sommer, I mean to say I will miss her until I am with her in the presence of the King. That’s okay. God will make me stronger. I believe that wholeheartedly. I will become stronger, not better. Grief is not the same as getting over the flu or a cold, it is grief and we must face it.

I can’t wish it away, run from it, or pretend it didn’t happen.  Grief is real and Christians NEED TO GRIEVE!

As the Body of Christ, we have an obligation to help our neighbors. Jesus invested His time, His time with others.  He met them right where they were physical, spiritually,  and emotionally. We all know someone who has lost a loved one. We must minister to them. Nurture them.  Love them because Christ died for them.  Saved and unsaved.

If I can not be allowed to grieve in front of my church family where do I go?

Validate my loss. Validate your loss. Please, please, please validate someone you know who has lost a loved one.

Let’s not pooh-pooh ones grief by giving quick, “Christian correct” responses.

It is better, oh, so, much better to stand alongside me. Try to understand what I am feeling.  You may not get it because your child has not died but mine has and I need to be reminded that is okay to grieve.  It’s okay for me to cry.  We need COMPASSION!

You may think “I don’t know what to say.” or “What if I make her cry, I don’t have time to comfort her.”  That may be the case, but I promise you God will remember.  I am not suggesting you call me every day. I am asking you on behalf of all who mourn don’t forget about us.  I/you/others matter to Christ, why can’t we matter to you?

Be like the good Samaritan.  Reach out to me.  Surround me with strong hugs.  We may grieve but we won’t break form a love filled hug.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan:

Luke 10:25-37

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply, Jesus said: A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers.  They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell int the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

All the emphasis are mine.  This is the NIV translation. You might be wondering why I chose to tell the whole story.  Because it is sad, true, and beautiful.

May God have the Glory!

Blessings,

Heidi

Angels Come From Texas

Our family lived for sixteen months in Arizona. We were so blessed to have found a townhouse in the same community as Grammie and Grandpa.  It was a blessing to spend time with them but it was a difficult situation because we missed our church family and didn’t seem to find a good fit for that area.

The girls really felt it and we tried to find fun memories to take back to Texas after the contract expired.  One thing I came up with was going to McDonald’s drive-through for ice cream shakes and a large Coke for me. I started paying the bill for the car behind us.  And it became a game.  When I paid for our snacks I would ask how much the check was for the car behind us.  I had a $10.00 limit.  I would tell the cashier to wait until I pull away then tell the next customer “Angles come from Texas.”

We did this almost every day and our girls loved it. They were in on one of mom’s secrets and they loved it.  It was fun. We would talk about why I would do that and I would answer, “Because it’s fun!” They caught on and really got into it.  They would be bummed if no one was behind us.

One day a college-age girl pulled up behind us.  Her car looked worn-out and in my review mirror, she looked just as worn-out.  I told the cashier I wanted to pay for her order. It was just a diet coke. I had one of the God talking to me at that moment and said, “Make it a chicken nugget Happy Meal with a large drink.”

When I pulled away she followed behind me out. Because of was traffic I couldn’t get away. She honked and pulled up next to me at the red light.  She put down her passenger window and said, “That is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.  I am down to my last $10.00 and I need gas.  Angles really do care about us, right?”

“The ones from Texas do,” I said.

I guess it’s called “Paying it forward.”  To me, that sounds like “lay-a-way!”

When we are grieving the loss of a loved one. A husband, wife, mother, father. A sibling, a baby or a 22 years-old daughter. It hurts. I mean IT HURTS!

I feel like the second year is more painful than the first. Sommer’s death has set in.  She really is not coming home from a trip to the moon. Don’t get me wrong, I have that blessed assurance she is sitting at the banquet table in constant presence with the Lord. Prancing on streets of gold and a mansion that she doesn’t need to clean.  That only happens in heaven and I can’t wait to join her when my day comes.

God will comfort us in our grief, but we must allow Him to.  God is stretching me right now and it hurts.  But, I do have hope one day it won’t hurt as much.  I will always want our Sommer to walk through the door.

God promises “‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will dine with him, and he with Me.’

Revelation 3:20

I have to walk this journey so that I may help others walk through their grief.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 

For God’s Glory!

Blessings,

Heidi

She Had the Face of God

Family friends were going home after Christmas 2016.  I was home alone trying to recover from Sommer’s death, ceremony and our family trip to Newport Beach, CA where we set Sommer’s ashes into the Pacific Ocean.  Her favorite place was not Disney Land but the beach, the surf, the gathering of shells when the tide was out in the late afternoon.

Their youngest daughter said to me before they left, “Sommer had the face of God.”

Grief is all consuming.  It reaches every neuron, every pore, every vein, every wrinkle, every muscle.  It is real and it has a mind of its own.  It creeps up on you while walking through Target, as it did to me today.  As I write this tears are blurring my vision and spilling over to make a puddle on my lap.

The death, the untimely death of Sommer has been the hardest, the hardest thing God has asked me to walk through.  I feel like a deflated balloon that is flying around the room as the air releases from inside. Deflated but not defeated.

The truth is Sommer finished her race early.  As one friend said, “She just graduated before the rest of us.”  I was moving books around my office one day not too long ago and a 3×5 note card dropped out and it had Sommer’s handwritten memory verse:

“I have fought the good the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith.”

2 Timothy 4:7 KJ

I’ve been training with a running coach so I can run a 5K, 3 miles, with our youngest daughter.  I’m 52 and have not done a road race in a decade.  Yes, 10 years.  Trust me when I say my body is not happy with my thought process some days.  Some days my body applauds me and I have extra cream in my coffee. Hazelnut, please. I had to say that to get the tears to stop puddling.

“I weep with grief, my heart is haeavy with sorrow.”

Psalm 119:28

It’s simple really.  It takes sunshine and rain to make a rainbow.  God made a promise to us with a rainbow.  Now, who does not run outside to snap a picture of a rainbow?

Sommer was two and I let her go out in her blue raincoat, Mickey Mouse umbrella, and pink rain boots sent to her from Miss Cathy in California.  It’s the cutest memory I have.  Her splashing in puddles singing Sunday School songs.  She delighted in everything. She had the face of God.

Many years ago I was at a women’s home bible study.  One young woman just lost her husband to AIDS.  She never knew he was a recovering drug addict.  She knew he was in recovery for alcoholism but not the I.V. drug use.  It was so sad.  We were studying the book of Job. She had been applying for jobs that day and when it was her turn to read the scripture she pronounced Job as j-o-b.  No one said a word until our host corrected her and she said she must have j-o-b hunting on her mind. We all had a great laugh and she needed that more then anyone knew.  We couldn’t go back to Job we had to hold her hands and wipe her tears.

Sommer had fulfilled her final act and God called her home.  He knew her appointed time before she was knitted in my womb. I truly wish He would have let me in on it but God is not my puppet.  He is my Father in Heaven and He has our Sommer.

How blessed am I? Completly! There are millions of mom’s in the world that can’t say that with blessed assurance.  But I can. I do. I will.

“You have decided the length of our lives you know how many months we will live and we are not given a minute longer.”

JOB 14:5

May God have the Glory!

Blessings,

Heidi

Tell Her Story

Every New Year’s Eve I ask God what His plans are for me in the coming New Year.  December 31, 2015, God’s Spirit spoke to me, “Tell her story.”  I thought I knew exactly what God was saying to me.  When Sommer was around 10-years-old I witnessed some young girls excluding her at a church event.  My heart just broke.  No mama bear wants to see her cub being snubbed,  but it does happen. It is simply part of growing up in a fallen world.

I tried to use situations like this one as a learning lesson.  For me and for our daughters. The thing about Sommer is that she didn’t catch on.  She was not competitive, not athletic, not a show-off and certainly not mean. She was just the opposite she included everyone and if she saw someone at the back of the room she would go stand by them to show she cared. I would not allow our daughters to tease, pick on or exclude one another.  I did not allow squabbles over anything.  I would sit them down and tell them, with hands on my hips and say, “One day your daddy and I are not going to be here we will be with Jesus and Y’all will only have is each other. Now hug and let’s move on.”

I have heard many stories of sisters not liking each other and about physical fights. They carried that hurt into adulthood.  I did not want that for our daughters.  As the fictional character, Barney Fife would say “You gotta nip it, nip it, nip it in the bud.” And that’s exactly what I did. Did they quarrel? Of course, they did and do. If you were to ask them today they will tell you the same story about mom and dad being with Jesus and they would only have each other.

After returning home from the church event I sent the three of them to the showers and I went into my prayer closet.  And cried out to God! “Why her God why my baby?” Later that night I woke up from a deep sleep and grabbed my writing journal and the pencil did all the work.  I wrote a story about a little girl who did not belong and she very much wanted to.

The New Years prayer for 2016 was simply “to tell her story.” I told my husband and we thought that 2016 was the year we should publish the story I wrote a decade earlier.  I started looking for an illustrator and found a delightful young woman who personally knew our Sommer. I truly thought that publishing her story as a children’s book was what God was alluding to when He whispered: “Tell Her Story.” NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, did I think her death at the tender age of 22 was a story I needed to tell.

I was wrong. This is God’s story about Sommer Raye:

Sommer was a junior at Texas State studying History. She was going to start ASL summer of 2017. She wanted to work at the colonial museum in Williamsburg, VA. She wanted to connect with deaf tourists.  Her weaknesses were watching the Kirdashinions and chocolate preferably at the same time.  She didn’t party.  She didn’t drink. She didn’t date around. She was happiest being home with her family.  She made handmade gifts for people every Christmas or other special events. Six hours before she became unconscious she was kissing me goodnight and reminding me she would be in class and not to expect her home until after 3:30 Monday afternoon. Sommer loved and loved to be loved.

I have told that story over 100 times in 2017, our first year without her.  But God took me to Dallas to a hotel where I told a young woman about Sommer and The Samaritan woman at the well and how Jesus knew all about her past/present and future.  Jesus loved the Samaritan woman and He loves Christyl, who accepted Christ right there on the job poolside of The Four Seasons. Fetching drinks for thirsty people.  How beautiful is that? Sommer did not die in vain.  She left a story to be shared and that story changed at least one young woman’s life.  Welcome to the family Christyl

We all have a platform.  We all have a story to tell.  If you are a believer and follower of Jesus you have many stories to share.  It’s called The Gospel. Pass it on and watch souls soar.

For His glory!

Many Blessings,

Heidi

 

 

Just One Word

The night before our daughter’s ceremony we had out of town friends over to the house.  I can’t remember if we ate anything or not.  I was walking in a fog.  Four girlfriends gathered with me in Sommer’s room.  We told stories about her. They commented on her style of decorating she chose in her room.  We cried.  At least I did and they allowed me to do that.

One sweet friend was there when Sommer was born.  One was a God-mother. One came to the rescue by picking up Grammie from the airport and check out baby Sommer.  Two came from California and one from Nebraska.  My girlfriend lifeline was in that room December 9th, 2016. That may sound like a long time ago but trust me when I tell you it’s still too fresh and my emotions are quite raw.

We were in her room for a long while and we decided it was time to join my other guests who traveled to see us. I stood up from lounging on my daughter’s bed. Her pillows still smelled like her shampoo.

I may not remember this exactly but I’ll share how I remember the next part.  We stood together and held hands to pray.  Cathy said in a quiet voice “Heidi, pick a word you can hold onto.”  I nodded and bowed my head to pray and it was quiet.  She repeated to me, “Heidi pick a word.”  I said I would and bowed my head again.  She leaned in and said it again, ‘Heidi, pick a word.”

I looked at her face and the light bulb in my head went “BING!” Cathy meant to pick a word from the bible that would help me in my sorrow and she wanted to know what it was before we prayed.  I don’t know if it was my grief that made the neurons, not fire or menopause because both are happening at the same time.

“Oh, you mean now,” I said.  We all laughed at my brain freeze.  Immediately I said “restoreth.” Then we prayed.

“He restores my soul,” Psalm 23:2 I love that Psalm, unfortunately, it gets used at funerals and not for our everyday walk with the Lord. But David lived it out. He personalized it.

“He is my Sheppard.”

“He leads me.”

“He prepares a table before me.”

“My cup runs over.”

“He restores my soul.”

David is not on his deathbed.  He lives his life actively seeking and praising his father in heaven.  That is so beautiful to me. And the icing on the cake is:

“I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever!”

When I say “our Sommer” I am referring to all the peo[;e who knew her and loved and accepted her for her beautiful, childlike spirit.

That is exactly how we need to approach God. With childlike faith.  He does not want our flattering prayers.  He does not want us to pray as if we are in Seminary class.  He wants us to talk to Him.  Make our requests and believe He will do a mighty work.  Jesus was a simple man. The majestic Son of God who humbled himself to be born in a stable with the shadow of the cross guiding Him. Yes, I said guiding Him.  He became flesh and blood to release us from the bondage of sin and to defy death.

Because of this beautiful picture we see we all are sinners, not degrees of sin but SINNERS!

His deepest sorrow was when He cried out,” My God, why have you forsaken me?” The wondrous truth is: He was God-forsaken so that we could become God-forgiven.

Our Sommer was just like that. God-forgiven.

Are you? Think about it.  It’s a simple thought.  He loves us in spite of ourselves.

Many Blessings,

Heidi

 

 

 

No Rules Allowed

The first rule about grief is…there are no rules.

No right or wrong.

No steps.

No stairs.

It just is.

It can be like a hurricane.  First, you get some rain. Then the winds pick up.  The oceans crash onto the beaches.  Then it rains sideways.  The winds pick up into triple digits. The shoreline disappears and then it may become eerily quiet.  That’s the eye of the storm.  And then the sky opens up and rain buckets down.  Houses fall apart some wash out into the sea.

When Harvey hit the Texas coast between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor, Texas as a Category 4 with winds gusting at 130 mph. Havey is the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since Hurricane Charley in 2004.

We live about 3 hours north of there and we had wind gusts above 65mph.  Havey took down a 15-year-old Oak tree standing in our front yard.  I cried.  We planted 3 trees for 3 girls.  Sommer named her tree.  I name the house plants and yes I talk to them and they answer back.  When I water them they perk-up.  That speaks to me.

Grief has knocked me down like a set of waves that just keep rolling me over, filling my swimsuit with lots of sand. Yes, I have experience that and it is scary.

Sometimes my grief is scary.  It hits me out of the of the blue.  I can be in the grocery store or be getting gas. Even during my quiet time.  Reading God’s comforting promises moves me to tears. I can go a week and not cry, then Bam, I cry for hours days and nights.

I am not crazy but grief is crazy at times.

The facade of grief may be indifference, preoccupation, anger, cheerfulness or any variety of emotions.  But if we try to understand it, we may learn how to cope wit it.’

Billy Graham

Nailed it, Mr. Graham!

A few weeks before Sommer died she was having hot cocoa with her friend Renee’. Sommer told her friend “You know, God may never bring me a husband but that is okay with me because I am falling so deeply in love with Jesus like He is my first love.”

The day of her ceremony of celebration and remembrance I dressed as “The mother of the bride.”  It was a dress Sommer picked out a month before she died and told me I needed to wear it for our thirtieth wedding anniversary the following year.  She loved that dress.  I had told her the dress cost more than my wedding gown. I bought it the night before she died online. I felt like the mother of the bride on that day. Happy she was with her bride-groom and devastated she would not be coming back from a honeymoon.

But, you see she is in Paradise the best honeymoon spot for her.  She finished strong. And I must wait my turn.  I will see her one day soon, God willing the Lord will come again sooner than later.

Blessings on your day.

Heidi

Getting to Know You

Hello and welcome to Live Life with Hope.

My name is Heidi and I live in Texas with my husband and two of our three daughters.

I am a Christian and my relationship with my Savior, Jesus, is more important to me than any human relationship I may have. My name is written in The Book of Life.  I am washed clean by the blood of the Lamb.  His blood is the ink used to write my name. It is the same blood that was used the day our Sommer prayed and asked Jesus to forgive her sins.  The same blood used to write my husband’s name and our other two daughter’s names. It’s the same blood “ink” that has or will record your name in The Bood of Life. I hope your name is there because one day we will meet in Paradise.

A month after our eldest daughter, Sommer, died of unknown causes I started to write devotionals and send them to about five friends.  My friend Anne said she enjoyed opening her email and finding something from me.  It was her devotional for the day.

I kept that going for a couple of months and then I found myself crying and crying as I wrote and I became overwhelmed with grief. I took time off from writing with the hope my grief would just go away.  That never happened. Why? Because grief is grief and we all experience it in this broken world at some point in our lives.  My grief is MY grief and I want you to know that we all grief as differently as the sound of our laughter. It’s okay to grieve. In fact, it’s important.  After all, Jesus wept.

He wept over Jerusalem and the death of His friend Lazarus. Jesus wept. So must we.

It’s not a sign of weakness it’s a sign of meekness. Being meek is to be humble and when we are humble we are vulnerable. I don’t know about you but when I am vulnerable I become more dependent on God.

Meekness starts when we put our trust in God.  Then, because we trust Him, we commit to Him every aspect of our daily lives to Him.

I hand over my grief, my anxieties, my frustrations, my plans, my relationships, my marriage and my health to my Heavenly Father and He guides me through each day.  Even the days I cry for hours.  You see, nothing is too big for God to handle.

I have hope because I have Jesus.  When people first hear that our daughter just died they ask me how do I get out of bed every day?  I say, “It’s because of Jesus.”

You see, I am blessed knowing that Sommer is with Jesus.  No doubt about it.  I know many people don’t have that blessed assurance.  If you are one who has no hope then I invite you to come along as I walk through my grief and share my hope.  Which is greater, faith, hope or love?  God’s word tells us love is greater and I agree.  However, when I have hope my faith becomes stronger and love becomes my guide.

“For God so loved the world He gave His Only begotten Son….” John 3:16

 

Thanks for stopping by.  We’ll chat soon.

Blessings on your day!