Celebrating life …

“The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
light! sunbursts of light! …
The joy of a great celebration,
sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.” Isaiah 9:2,3

imageI find myself waiting for Glen to walk into a room and say, “Hi, Honey.” Or, I learn or see something I want to share with him, and then remember, I can’t. I understand this is common after someone passes away. It isn’t that I’m in denial. I’m just reacting in the same way I’ve done for fifty years. It didn’t take long after Glen passed for me to realize my life is different, but I cannot say it is bad.

Yesterday, the children and I set a date for Glen’s celebration of life service and party on August 6 (which was Glen’s mother’s date of birth 95 years ago), in his hometown, Colo, Iowa. Since Glen gave his body to science, there was no funeral–no formal “closure” to his life on Earth. We will gather to honor and celebrate the life of my husband and friend, the proud father of my children, the fun grandpa, the older brother, the caring uncle, cousin, and friend to so many people. We will find joy that he has entered the great light of heaven.

Dear God, when we gather to celebrate Glen’s life on Earth, may  we find peace in his passing into Eternal Life. Amen.

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Clumbsy humor …

“A cheerful disposition is good for your health;gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.” Proverbs 17:22

You imagehad to know Glen well to understand his unique sense of humor. He had what I called a dry, witty humor with comebacks that often made me wonder, “Where did that come from?” Even while very ill, Glen found ways to humor the nurses, such as one time when a nurse asked him for his name and birth date before giving him medication, and after responding he said, “What’s your Social Security number?” It took the nurse a second or two to figure out he was trying to be funny.

The older I get, everything seems more humorous–including myself. The other day I started down the stairs and dropped my purse. It tumbled head over heel style and spewed out my wallet and other stuff on the kitchen floor. When I leaned over to retrieve the items, the mug of tea I was carrying spilled all over the floor. Susan witnessed my episode and said, “Great entrance, Mom.” Instead of being frustrated with my clumsiness, I laughed, got a mop, and cleaned up the mess.

Finding humor in messy situations keeps me keep from slipping into a “Woe’s me” attitude. No gloom and doom for me.

Lord, please find humor in me as I fumble through life. Amen.

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Laughter–good for the soul

“Sing your hearts out to God! … The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter.” Psalm 30:4,5

Life goes onYesterday, I treated my daughter and myself to pedicures. Part of the fun of having a pedicure is having someone to chat with and then leaving with happy feet. During the foot massage, the nail technician hit a ticklish spot on Susan’s foot, and she broke out into laughter. The more he massaged, the harder she laughed. Soon, everyone in the salon was laughing or at least smiling. No one in the salon knew how much we needed to laugh. I must admit, it felt good to go deep into the belly and laugh.

While the family gathered around Glen during his short stay in the hospice center, my five-year old grandson dropped a stuffed musical toy dog grandpa had given him earlier in the day. Suddenly, a jazzy version of “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch Baby, you know I love you …” broke the silence in the darkened room and laughter exploded. Earlier, the nurse assured us Glen could hear us while sedated. He loved to laugh. I’m thinking during that moment, he had his last sweet giggle in life.

I’ll never forget that last unexpected special laughter with Glen. It was as if we were being told life would go on. I know he would say, “Part the clouds of sadness and grief and live, love, and laugh.”

Dear God, give us laughter to heal pain, sadness, and grief. Amen.

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A Soul Cleansing …

“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” Proverbs 16:27 (Living Bible)

Cleaning a Hoosier in Hoosierland.

Cleaning a Hoosier in Hoosierland.

“Cleanliness is next to godliness” is a quote I thought I’d find in the book of Proverbs. But instead, I found it was credited to a sermon by John Wesley in 1778 which originated in the Babylonian and Hebrew religious practices regarding body cleanliness, more than the household.

I’m not the “Queen of Clean” in my home, but I clean with vengeance using Q-Tips, toothpicks, a small paintbrush, and enough cleaning supplies to sterilize a hospital. And, I live by the 15-minute rule: If you call and tell me you’ll be over in 15 minutes, I can make my house presentable.

As a stay-at-home mom, I cleaned houses a few hours a week for extra cash. To keep boredom out of the routine of cleaning the same houses over and over, I played mind games. I’d plan gourmet meals I never cooked and vacations to far places, some of which I actually took and others still on my bucket list. Best of all, I had quiet time for conversations with God.

These days I’ve been Spring cleaning Susan’s house. She’s a doctoral candidate, working on her dissertation and has a part-time job on campus. Deep cleaning is not on her to-do list at this time. Lucky for her, busy hands keeps my mind from wandering and fretting about the changes in my life. A win-win for both of us.

Dear God, thank you for busy hands that helps cleanse the soul. Amen.

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Lonely or alone?

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives… Galatians 5:22

imageDuring my fifty-year marriage, I experiences periods of loneliness–especially during the early days of empty nest. Fortunately, my children were spread out over nine years, which gave me time to adjust each time a child left to explore their own world.

Glen retired ten years before I did and was content to spend days and evenings on the computer or watching old TV series on Netflix. Deep inside, I felt lonely. One time I told him I should get a picture of his backside because that’s what I would remember most about him. I never did, and it certainly this isn’t what I remember most about him.

Recently, one of my friends told me her husband is her best friend. “That’s wonderful”, I said, but I warned her, “Do you realize if you lose your husband you will lose your best friend at the same time?” Glen and I were good friends, but not my best friend. I am blessed with a loving family and girlfriends, many I consider to be my “best” friends. l will call upon these “gifts” from God when that lonely feeling creeps into my soul.

Lord, when I feel lonely remind me you are as close as the air I breathe and that I’m never alone. Amen.

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Compelled to write …

“… I’m not writing now to get something…. I’m compelled to do it, and doomed if I don’t!” 1 Corinthians 9:15

imageI began writing by bleeding my heart in a spiral notebook. My therapist referred to journaling as a “cheap therapist.” I could have put her out of business if it had not been for the complexity of my relationship issues.

Over the next ten years, I continued to journal and ventured into writing short stories. Something would happen in my life (or others) and I couldn’t wait to get home to my computer and put it into a document. Writing became part of my DNA. I didn’t care if anyone read it, but thanks to Guidepost Magazine and their writer’s workshop, some of my work has been read by millions of people. As Paul said in 1st Corinthians, I didn’t do this to get anything out of it for myself. Believe me, the pay is minimal for the amount of work that goes into getting a manuscript published.

Now, as I move forward as a new widow, journaling is once again my cheap therapist. Four years ago I began to journal through my blog, writing every day. If I don’t write, I feel disconnected with my soul. I understand Paul saying, “I’m compelled to do it, and doomed if I don’t!”

Thank you, Lord, for sending the Holy Spirit as my partner in life. Amen.

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Crying works …

“Crying is better than laughing. It blotches the face but it scours the heart.” Ecclesiastes 7:3

imageSince Glen died, I am confused when people ask, “How are you doing?” What if I’m not doing anything? And, what if I don’t have an answer at all. When I lived in the Panhandle of Texas, people would say, “Ya doing okay?” I like that. That question can be answered with a nod of my head one way or another.

I have noticed how awkward it is for some people to share their condolences. You can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices. I understand, greeting the bereaved is difficult. For some people, it never becomes easier.

For years after Glen’s father and brother died in a tragic accident, greeting anyone in grief dredged up my own grief. I’d cry and need consoling myself. This is when hugs and tears serves to convey, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

One of Glen’s life-time friends has yet to reach out to my family, except through a second-hand comment, “Tell Glen’s family we send our condolences.” This puzzles me, but I will not judge because I don’t know where he is in his own grief. After all, Glen’s friend knew him longer than I did. His loss is great too. Perhaps I will reach out to him instead.

Thank you, Lord, for those who share from their hearts in the best way they can. Amen.

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Be …


“Be still and know that I am God.” Isaiah 46:10

imageBe still and know …Years ago, our marriage therapist gave Glen and me the Myers Briggs personality test. I am an ENFJ—an extravert with intuitive feeling and judging. Glen scored INSJ, being more sensitive and a strong introvert. ENFJers know and appreciate people. They neglect themselves and their own needs for the needs of others.The truth is, I am experiencing people burnout. Saturated may be a better word.

Be still. I just spent the weekend celebrating my mother’s 95th birthday. Over a hundred people attended her open house. Her children grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins traveled from all over the U.S. to come to mother’s party. After the open house about fifty people stayed for dinner, stretching the party out another few hours. The next morning the immediate family attended church with Mother and hosted the coffee hour—more people and conversation. I know need to be still.

Be. The celebration weekend is over. Memories are saved to pull out when I need to go to a happy place. For the next couple of months, I’ll be with my daughter, Susan, and our three dogs and two cats. She will be busily preparing for her graduation and moving to central New York. At her home, I’ll be learning to just “be” until early in July when I move on to New Jersey and become Nanny Granny for my five-and-seven-year old grandson for the rest of the summer. God is good.

Lord, help me “be” before moving forward in my journey. Amen.

 

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God’s generous blessings …

“… we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! Romans 5:5

imageOn the trip today, an ambulance passed us and my mind went back to April 7, at 4:00 p.m. when Glen went by ambulance to the hospice center. Some parts of my memory of the last few hours with Glen have faded or I’ve blocked them to avoid the pain I felt. I do remember helping the nurse and ambulance driver move Glen onto the gurney. It took four people to grab on to the sheet under him and lift him from the hospital bed to the gurney. It was in a strange labor of love. Riding by his side in the ambulance, I was at peace knowing Glen’s wishes were about to be fulfilled.

Pulmonary fibrosis is an unforgiving disease that causes the lungs to harden, making the air sacs unable to expand and contract. When Glen got to this point, his options were incubation and exist on a respirator or go to Hospice. He chose hospice. The nurse hospice coordinator assured us Glen would be comfortable throughout the process of removing the oxygen. Most importantly, he would not suffer during the transition from his earthly life to eternal life.

I believe he passed in peace and continue to hold on to my belief that the promise of resurrection is true. Some day we will sing and shout praises together in heaven.

Lord, help us find a blessing in all situations. Amen.

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Driving Miss Daisy

“Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God.” 1 Peter 1:18

imageAfter days of packing and preparing for a road trip with my daughter, Susan, which Glen and I had planned before he became ill.

My little dog, Daisy, is caged into the backseat for her first trip. So far, so good. A wire baking rack keeps her from romping back and forth from the backseat to the front. She has Bear–her stuffed animal pillow and her favorite blanket. I thought she would sleep all day like she does at home, but so far she appears to be enjoying the scenery of I-40–from the front seat!

As we began our journey, I asked God for travel mercies for a safe, fun trip. I’m grateful Susan prefers to drive, just like her father always did while I read, wrote, or slept to pass the time.

Earlier today as I locked up the house, I had a case of the blues thinking about how Glen and I enjoyed road trips, especially our 50th anniversary six-week road trip last fall. Our last, and by far the best.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of precious memories. Amen.

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