Tag Archive | Christianity

Grieving and living

It has been five weeks since Steve went to be with the Lord and I miss him every single day. Part of me wants him back but another part knows that he is better off where he is and I need to try to begin again. It is very difficult. there are constant reminders of our life together and the continuing empty places I stumble across that can only be filled with his presence.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.. I have so much time alone that I can’t run from my thoughts and feelings.. a mixed blessing.. How do I grieve and still live? A big question when you lose your spouse, best friend and your biggest fan. I don’t know the answer since I am learning how to do this every single day.

There are very sad moments and lonely days. There are difficult nights and early mornings that seem endless. My mind entertains way too many thoughts about the future.. everyone tells me to stay in the present.. that is very hard when the present is so far from what I wish it was.. yet I see the wisdom in that advice.. I also know I need to believe that the future is going to be better than the present..

I had a conversation with someone who seemed to want to convince me that a better future might never come.. that some things never change.. that we need to be prepared to accept the present even if we are unhappy and longing for something more. That conversation was very hard.. it seemed to undermine everything I believe about God.

The God I know is always doing a new thing. He is a God filled with love for His children. He puts desires in our hearts because He wants us to ask for things and then believe that He will come through and answer us. He is the redeemer. He takes what is meant for evil and turns it into something good. His ways are not our ways. He is always for us.. ahead of us, preparing the way for us. This is the God of Romans 8:28.. He takes all things and uses them for good in our lives.. ALL THINGs.. He will do much more than we could ever ask or imagine and we will see His goodness in the land of the living.

He rescues us.. searches for us.. pursues us. His heart is for us and His plans for us are for our good and He will never harm us. My life is proof of this. God is not in a box that we create.. He has more for us than living in our own small sad stories.. There is a larger story and He is the hero of that story.. coming to save and restore us over and over again.

So.. yes I am grieving and sad and lonely.. but God is with me and for me and will surprise me with things that I can’t even dream about right now. He has collected all my tears and He weeps with me.. I trust Him fully and will continue to believe that He is in this season with me and that He will deliver me when it is time.

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

( Ephesians 3: 16-20)

Shelter in Place

 

 

I actually cannot remember using that phrase before about 4 months ago. There was never a time when I thought for even one minute we would be using it every day and doing it for months. So here we are and we have been sheltering for 4 months.. limiting our contact with other people by staying home and when we go out we wear masks and stay 6 feet apart as much as possible.

The world has turned upside down and may stay that way for a long time.. no one can say that we will ever return to what we called normal. It is going to take time to see what this virus does next and what the reaction to this virus has done to us. I don’t know about you but what I miss the most is hugs and smiles.. Two very important ways we connect with one another have been taken away.. it is a huge loss for me. Thankfully I have a few people in my family I can hug and we can be around one another without masks and smile at each other.. but I miss smiling at strangers and hugging people that I don’t see very often.. expressing the joy that the Lord gives us for one another .

So I long for the good old days when we were not afraid of each other.. when we did not see continual bad news about this virus every single day for months.. I continue to hope for a time when we can relax more and enjoy life in a way that is not possible now.

I wonder how God is at work in this mess. Did He create this virus? I don’t believe He did because it is evil and He is not the creator of evil.. but yes, He has allowed it to exist and chosen not to stop it from spreading.. something that happens in this fallen world on a regular basis.. One thing I know is that He will bring good out of this because His word promises this. Sometimes I get glimpses of good things that are happening right now.. families are spending more time together.. people seem to be more polite and aware of each other out in public.. parents are getting to know their children in deeper ways. We are all learning to entertain ourselves in new ways because things we used to do are gone. Many people are exercising and cooking more.. focusing on being healthy in new ways. Some people are able to work from home and will never have to commute again.. taking stress out of their lives and we end up with cleaner air. Some parents will continue to home school their children because they find that everyone benefits from being together instead of spending long hours in the classroom.

Probably the biggest gain I see is that we are all less busy. We have more time to be alone and more time to connect with the Lord.. I realize that not everyone is taking advantage of this .. they may decide to continue to have busy lives by being on Zoom  and the phone as much as possible..That is too bad.. because my deepest feeling is that the Lord wants time with each one of us.. it may be even more important than going to church or spending time with friends. He longs for us to come to Him with all our broken dreams.. disappointments.. losses and sadness so He can apply the balm of Gilead on these wounds. It is our choice .. He will never force us to seek Him out.. As for me, I can only continue to live by letting him carry me as I stumble and fall under the weight of my situation. He is my everything.. my sorrow and grief are too heavy to bear by myself and you are probably experiencing some of that yourself. He is with us and for us and wants us to come as His weary and broken people so He can shelter us from this storm.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.

 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God..

(from Psalm 46)
   

 

 

 

Life on the other side of the wall

 

 

I know.. that title is a bit strange. It is a description of my life for the last 8 months. When I moved out of my condo last September and moved in with my daughter’s family there was a lot of life in that home.. on the other side of my wall. In my room there wasn’t much. Then I moved again 3 months later and there was a lot of life in my friends’ home and once again there wasn’t much life in my room. I had to move again. Here I am living on the other side of the wall and there is a wonderful family that rents this in law unit .. living fully each day. In every situation I have experienced being on the outside of life. The life I once knew is gone.. Steve is living in a facility and will never come out. As for me.. only the Lord knows if I will ever really feel like I am living again.

Before this last move I was sure I would not have to live in a situation where I could hear a family but not really be a part of it. Apparently that was my desire but not what God had in mind. He brought me here ..where once again.. I am an outsider.. living alone in my own room.

What is this all about? I am not totally sure .. I do have memories of my childhood that may be connected. My parents were very close and growing up I often felt like an outsider in my own family. My sister wormed her way into their united front by becoming the child with all the problems.. I continued to be on the outside as life unfolded on the other side of the wall.. Could the Lord be doing some healing in me? I hope so. I am tired of feeling that I am an outsider.. someone who doesn’t fit in.. who is not included. Now.. I am wondering.. is there a root issue that needs to be dealt with in my life?

One thing that I do know about God is that He often puts us in the very circumstances that will cause our old stuff to rise to the surface. Why? To torture us? No .. to show us that we need to let go of the old stuff to give it to HIm and ask Him to heal us in the broken places. To tell you the truth I just realized that I had this issue as I started writing this post. I want the healing but it is not easy.. the old feelings are working their way to the surface.. When we bury old feelings they don’t die, they are buried alive and they will be triggered by our current circumstances… it is a tool that God uses to bring freedom. He wants to pull off the band aids and heal the wounds. He wants to pull out the arrows in our heart that have been there all our lives.

I love being part of that process in other people’s lives.. probably why I became a counselor.. Right now I am in need of healing and He is at work in these very circumstances.. getting my attention.. revealing the old hurts and pain that I have kept hidden from myself all these years.. So here I am in my room..just like I was as a teenager.. hearing the life.. on the other side of the wall.. only this time when I come out of my room I won’t be an outsider I will know that I am complete in Him. He is the healer and His purposes will be fulfilled in my life and in yours. Are you in your room right now? After all we are being told to stay inside in our rooms.. an interesting time to check in with the Lord and ask Him what wounds He may want to heal that you have carried inside your heart all these years.

Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.. Psalm 30:2

 

Pastoral Counseling

 

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As many of you know I have been working with women for the last 14 years as a Pastoral Counselor. I took the last two years off to take care of my husband who is currently in skilled nursing where he is getting very good care.

As this broken world continues to spiral downward.. many of us are hurting and really could use some help. I have decided to return to the work I love and I am praying that the Lord will send me people to help as He has always done in the past. My own situation continues to be challenging but in the midst of it.. I need to pour out to others so that the Lord can use me as a wounded healer. I decided to post this in case anyone reading it needs to talk through whatever struggle they are having. I am posting this here and on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/aliciasroses/) You can message me on Facebook if you want to connect. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. Pastoral Counseling is not therapy and it is not Spiritual Direction.. it may have components of both but it is truly counseling by the power of the Holy Spirit as He brings healing to the brokenhearted.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
   and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise 
instead of a spirit of despair. ( Isaiah 61)

 

Almost 18 Years

Next Monday is March 30th.. it is our 18th anniversary. I probably will not get in to the skilled nursing facility because of the ” shelter in place” rule.  It is sad but when I finally get to see Steve again I just know it will be a celebration. Since hospice became  involved in our lives.. things are better than they were. Steve is holding his own and in some ways improved because of the extra layer of help. I am doing better because I have other people who are monitoring his situation and will step in if he needs it. I actually did not realize that hospice can extend the life of people because they provide comfort care and extra attention which enables the patient to feel more love and less stress.

As I have been sheltering.. I feel like I am seeing new things in our situation. God’s timing has been miraculous. 7 months ago there was a big change that forced me into the situation where I had to put Steve in the hospital and then the skilled nursing. Just last month hospice became a part of our journey. The Lord knew what we would need at this stage. He knew this pandemic was coming and exactly when and where it would hit. He know that Steve was vulnerable and that I would not be able to visit him every day .. so last month he enabled hospice to come in and do the things I was doing.. He also knew that I would eventually need to find a place by myself.

I stayed with my daughter and family for 3 months and with old friends for 3 months..the second place is only 5 minutes from Steve’s . Now that he is being watched and cared for by hospice.. the Lord has provided a new place.. my own small place back in my hometown.. close to my daughter and only a few freeway exits away from Steve.. it seems to be just what I need.. and want. So here I am having plenty of time to sort through things and prepare for this move since I can’t really go anywhere.. sounds like God’s plan for sure.

So on our 18th anniversary I will be moving into my new place and hopefully, God willing, it will not be too long before I can visit my husband again.. God is directing our steps and taking care of both of us separately just as He did when we were together.. I am so very grateful.

I hope you are surviving this season without feeling too isolated or lonely and that you are having the time to see God at work in your circumstances.. God is still God.. He is still in control and you can still trust Him. He is Good .. so very Good!

I am reminded of this story in Matthew.. this is from the Message:

The Wind Ran Out of Breath

 Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”

 Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?”

They were in absolute awe, staggered. “Who is this, anyway?” they asked. “Wind and sea at his beck and call!”

Let’s decide to be in absolute awe of Him as we sail through the storm that is upon us..Our great God!

Joy to the World!

 

“Joy is an act of resistance against despair and its forces”

The first two weeks of advent .. Hope and Peace lead us to the present week Joy.. we are no longer hoping and seeking peace instead we are ready to embrace joy.. to celebrate the joy of the Lord. Jesus was born into a dark and lonely world .. a world that needed Him more than it realized. The little baby born in the manager brought something amazing to us.. The joy of the Lord.. This joy is our stronghold in times of trouble .. it is our refuge when we are drowning in a sea of sorrow.. it is our hiding place and our sanctuary. Joy is available to us because of His unending love and His generous heart..We are His and because of that we can rejoice in our trials and suffering.. knowing that He is for us and with us.

We are in a season of anticipation.. of waiting.. as we draw near to that day when we celebrate the birth of Christ. He came into the world as a tiny helpless baby and yet He was God. He came to set the captives free.. to release the world from the bondage of sin and death. As He was born, the air was full of Joy.. the world began to breathe again.. Finally!

We can rest.. it is finished. The joy that flooded the world on that day is remembered every year at Christmas time. We hear the songs on the radio and in stores.. “Joy to the World” Even those who do not understand the depth of these words.. feel the joy and celebrate His birth. His spirit remains here with us.. to guide us and direct our steps. He fills us and walks with us as we trust Him. Christmas is an opportunity to remember this.. to be reminded of His faithfulness and His presence in our lives. He is our hope, our peace and our Joy..

 

I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”     ( John 15:11)

Lent..again

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As I look back on my blog, I see that I seem to write a post every year during Lent.. I want to be true to that tradition and it has been a while since I posted. I always see Lent as an opportunity to reflect.. to look back and to see how God has been working and to be aware of what He is doing right now.

I don’t even remember the Lent season last year.. probably because I was getting ready to bring my very disabled elderly mother to my home. I brought her here almost exactly one year ago.. It was the day before Easter 2018.. so that was March 31st.. the day after my wedding anniversary.. I was pretty worried about how it would go and that was apparently a prophetic feeling…since it did not go well at all and three weeks later I was frantically looking for a skilled nursing facility that would take her.. I never found one but Kaiser did! What a trial that was.. then we were faced with another even more challenging situation. It was becoming very clear that something was wrong with my husband and I knew I had to face whatever it was.. we found out in May that he has a rare type of dementia..

I have been grieving since that neurology appointment and it is only now that I feel like I can say that I have begun to accept this outcome.. many nights of crying, yelling out to the Lord and feeling sorry for myself followed that diagnosis. We are now living in a “new normal.”

This year for Lent I was hoping to focus on giving up worry and anxiety.. but God seemed to have another plan for me. Instead of trying not to worry or be anxious He began to show me that it was impossible to truly get rid of those things and that I needed to give myself permission to have those feelings and others  and to welcome them as part of me.. I never imagined that as an option.. but it has helped tremendously. There is even a name for this.. Welcoming prayer..As I have tried this.. my process is to sit with my feelings, to acknowledge them and not fight them.. to just feel them and when they are less intense, I release them to the Lord.. The result has been more peace and much less fear.

It was a big shift for me to realize that all feelings are legitimate and that I don’t have to deny them or try to kill them.. even the ones I dislike.. that the Lord will enable me to live through the times of sadness, pain, grief, worry, anxiety, fear and anger. I realized at a deep level that I am not defined by these feelings or these times of struggle. We live in a broken world and when the brokenness overwhelms us it is incredibly difficult and impossible to pretend that we are not suffering and hurting.

The take away is that we are loved by God even as we battle the feelings we wish we never had. He is not going to leave us even when our circumstances overwhelm us. So I am living more fully day by day and thanking Him for the good days..or maybe just the good hours or minutes.. Knowing that this journey is full of uncertainty when it comes to our future but that we can be certain of God and His faithfulness.

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Memories

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Remembering is such an important aspect of our faith. We remember all that the Lord has done for us.. He remembers us.. our needs, desires.. everything about us.

I have lots of time on my hands these days since my only job is to help my husband in the ways that he needs it.. The condition he has affects his memory and that impacts our relationship as well.. I want him to remember things that he has forgotten and he remembers some things that I can’t remember because we were not together until later in life. With this extra time.. I can reflect on how all of this is impacting me.

I understand that his forgetting is a big deal for me.. it seems like we base so much of our life together on the good times we have shared.. Fortunately he still remembers lots of those times.. but I know that could change. Today as I was getting lunch ready I thought about this and realized that the Lord has all those memories and even if we forget things.. God does not and someday we will be together with Him and all the memories will be returned to us.  We will be restored and nothing will be missing.

One thing that my husband is not forgetting is the Lord and how important He is to us. He won’t lose that knowledge because he has the Spirit of God in him.. we can pray together even if he forgets many words..we can reminisce about how God has always been there for us even if the details are foggy.. Our God is very much in our midst and He will stay with us through whatever the future holds.

My job besides the care giving is to remember the goodness of God above all else. To dwell on all the ways He has come for me when I thought everything was lost.. to know that nothing that is happening behind His back.. He knows and He sees and He will direct our steps in this season.

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
 yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.”       ( psalm 77:11-12)

Safely Home

Today we were making our way through Exodus at church.. a very interesting book that is often overlooked. The Israelites’ relationship with God is similar to the way we often relate to Him. He rescues them and then provides for them and yet they long to go back to Egypt.. Somehow they are unable to truly grasp His love for them and accept His plan for their lives.. Sound familiar? Why is that we get amnesia when it comes to remembering His goodness? We all have a story and in that story God has come for us over and over again.. yet we doubt and wonder and worry.. I am absolutely guilty of this. Where are you God? Why would you..? How could you??

So as I listened to the teaching today I heard something that I needed to hear.. it was a new way of stating an old idea that I have heard over the years.. but somehow today it was much more clear than it has been.. Maybe I am just more ready to hear it now than I was when I was younger.. Our walk with God is often clouded by our own desires..we want what we want.. guilty as charged. The Lord uses all of this desire for things that are not Him to draw us towards Him.. sounds strange doesn’t it? What I mean is that we long for the things for this world.. homes, jobs, money, etc.. and every time we get any of these things, they fall short and another desire has to spring up… It is an endless cycle until we realize that these things are never going to fill the emptiness or take away the loneliness.. We are in a broken world and we are not here to have this perfect life.. so why are we here? The message today was that we are here to make it safely home .. back to the God who created us.. That’s right to walk with Him all the way to the end..staying close to Him, following Him, and keeping our faith alive.. until that day!

It was so freeing to hear that today.. Many of my old dreams have died and many of my longings will never be fulfilled in this life.. but I can do this thing.. I can walk with Him every day until the end is here.. I can long for that day to come and still live fully now.. trusting Him and knowing that He is with me.. You can do that too.. you can look back and see how He has been there over and over and remember how you have seen Him at work in your life and in the lives of those around you. You can decide to stay on the path until He takes you safely home!

 

Be Still and Know

The theme for this year is from psalm 46:10. ” Be still and know that He is God.”  This verse follows me everywhere I go. Where is this stillness that He promises?.. I am not sure. Inside I am often anxious and worried.. the stillness I long for is so hard to find. Sometimes I see myself in the 23rd psalm.. ” Beside the still waters”  when the circumstances are just right. If I am walking outside on a beautiful fall day I get this glimpse of the quiet and the stillness that He is offering. I long to be there continually but it is very difficult. Our circumstances jump out at me and demand attention.. turning me away from God. All I can do is turn back and cry out to Him.. teach me to rest in you and to be at peace no matter what happens.

I know His faithfulness.. after walking with Him for forty years.. He has come for me over and over again. He has provided in so many ways and revealed His presence over and over.. yet I struggle to believe Romans 8:28 right now.. What good can come from this Lord? So what is there for me to do? Wait, pray and trust that He is at work and that in His time He will come for me again and lift me above the pain and suffering.

So I decided to write this out.. to reveal my struggle.. to stop hiding.. I am grieving the loss of so many things right now and watching my life change radically.. feeling at the mercy of God and wondering if there will ever be joy again.. Maybe you feel the same way.. if that is the case, I hope you know that you are not alone. All of us go through these dark seasons.. these tunnels where the Lord seems so far away and there are no answers.. we live by faith not by sight.

So Lord.. I pray for anyone out there who is in pain.. anyone who is grieving.. anyone who is longing to feel close to you.. Come for them Lord and come for me.  Amen