My Daughter Wore Black To School Today

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Black room with doorMy daughter left for school in a simple black dress today.  The color wasn’t unusual, but the fact she chose to wear a dress kind of threw me.  In middle school I’m not seeing a lot of dresses these days.  The thought didn’t cross my mind again and off we went for drop off.

Inching up through the caravan of cars I saw other girls in dresses, or skirts.  Black.  There were no school concerts going on or special assemblies.  Now I was curious.  Something was going on that hadn’t been formally announced, but there were too many incidents of black moving around the school campus to feel normal.

I dropped off my daughter, told her I loved her and we did our normal goodbye routine.  As I watched my 11 year old sail off to the front doors of the school building it struck me.  My daughter was quietly paying respect.  Tears welled in my eyes. Earlier this week a young lady who attended the same school, a child really, took her life.  We didn’t know this girl, but it didn’t matter.  The air was thick with grief.

The day after the news was shared with families, some kids showed up to school wearing green.  I saw a group gathered before school who were spray painting clothes on the cement side walk.  I asked my daughter what they were doing, but she didn’t know.  After school I was told the kids were wearing green because it was the deceased girl’s favorite color. Some took to spraying their hair green.  My daughter told me that a teacher made them go wash it out right away.  I asked her why, and she said the teacher said this is a time for respect not flamboyance.

The news of the suicide rushed quickly through lines of communication.  In fact, before we got a letter from the school principal, a co-worker of mine was texted by her daughter that this had happened. She went to an entirely different school. It was all over Twitter I heard.  News travels so fast today.

I was impressed that the letter we received gave no details- only that a student had died- and asked for our thoughts and prayers to be with the family.  Public school using the word, prayer.  Amen to that.  That evening my husband and I chose to have a talk with our 11 year old about what happened.  Words such as suicide, killed and dead were part of the vocabulary- they all came from our child’s mouth.  I couldn’t believe I was having this conversation with our daughter-our child. Innocence had left us without saying goodbye.  I don’t really know what someone so young comprehends, but she understood this was serious.

I don’t have details surrounding the situation.  My morbid curiosity did overcome me and I checked to see what the internet had to say.  I’m impressed with our community that I couldn’t really find out much.  This story was not all over the news as you often see in other parts of the country.  I did learn that there was once an older sister.  She was killed in an automobile accident in 2008.  The biological mother had also passed away.  She would now have been in her fifties.  There are two siblings in high school and parents.  I’m at a loss of words to say for the emptiness they must feel- for their grief.

Maybe there were circumstances that would make more sense out of why this child decided her life had to end.   From outside appearances that would seem impossible.  She was a beautiful girl involved in school activities.  Somehow she convinced herself that whatever she was going through was so horrific it wasn’t worth living.  I can relate to that feeling of desperation. I’m grateful for those over the years who walked me through.

I want to run to my child right now and hold her tight.  I don’t want to send her off into a world like this.  I want her to assure me with every breath she takes she knows she is loved and important and cared for so deeply- no matter what others may try to get her to believe.  I had to say to my child, who hasn’t reached a maturity level to understand struggles like this, that she must promise me to talk with me if she ever questions her value in our world, her value to her parents and others in her life, her value to God.  She must be asking why?

Today my daughter wore black to school. She knows something isn’t right with this, but she knows it’s important to show her respect.  She figured that out on her own.

Our prayers go out to the family, friends, teachers and community leaders who know this family.  Their pain must be indescribable.  If it makes any difference to a single person out there- you matter.  We live in a difficult world- a difficult time, but God has a purpose and plan for you.  Seek Him.  In your darkest periods cry out to Him and talk.  Talk with someone about how you feel.  Let them have the opportunity to be the purpose God might have for them.  Get involved if you know someone is struggling.  Ask questions-even if everything seems alright.  Our children shouldn’t have to wear black. No one should for this purpose.

 

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One in five teenagers in the U.S. seriously considers suicide annually, according to data collected by the CDC. In 2003, 8 percent of adolescents attempted suicide, representing approximately 1 million teenagers, of whom nearly 300,000 receive medical attention for their attempt; and approximately 1,700 teenagers died by suicide each year. Currently, the most effective suicide prevention programs equip mental health professionals and other community educators and leaders with sufficient resources to recognize who is at risk and who has access to mental health care.

Teen suicide is a growing health concern. It is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24, surpassed only by homicide and accidents, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to experts suicidal distress can be caused by psychological, environmental and social factors. Mental illness is the leading risk factor for suicide. Suicide risk-factors vary with age, gender, ethnic group, family dynamics and stressful life events. According to a 2004 report distributed by the National Institute of Mental Health, research shows that risk factors for suicide include depression and other mental disorders, and substance-abuse disorders (often in combination with other mental disorders). More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have these risk factors. The risk for suicide frequently occurs in combination with external circumstances that seem to overwhelm at-risk teens who are unable to cope with the challenges of adolescence because of predisposing vulnerabilities such as mental disorders. Examples of stressors are disciplinary problems, interpersonal losses, family violence, sexual orientation confusion, physical and sexual abuse and being the victim of bullying.

The Cyberbullying Research Center also did a series of surveys that found these cyber bullying statistics:

  • Over 80 percent of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most popular form of technology and a common medium for cyber bullying
  • About half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly
  • Mean, hurtful comments and spreading rumors are the most common type of cyber bullying
  • Girls are at least as likely as boys to be cyber bullies or their victims
  • Boys are more likely to be threatened by cyber bullies than girls
  • Cyber bullying affects all races
  • Cyber bullying victims are more likely to have low self esteem and to consider suicide

Paid In Full

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Fear, Hatred, Loss, Pain, Sadness, Grief, Loneliness, Hurt, Anger, Maliciousness, Murder, Greed, Theft, Anxiety, Depression, Cancer, Broken Spirit, Lies, Adultery, Betrayal, Meanness, Accidents, Harm, Cheating, Worry, Carelessness, Low Self Image, Illness, Lament, Burdens, Weariness, Bad Decisions, Falseness, Denial…____________…paid for at the cross… for those who believe…He Is Alive!

 

For God So Loved The World He Gave His Only Son To Die For Us, That Whoever Believes Will Not Perish, But Have Eternal Life!

John 3:16

He tried, but he couldn’t do it…

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I was trained early about weekly church attendance.  If I had been born on a Saturday, my mom probably would have had me in church the next morning.  She would have looked great in her hospital gown topped off with some sort of amazing wool felt hat she made, her Sunday purse (I can still see her making the “switch out” on her bed), and girdle -the sixties version of Spanx.  

We would have attended the early service.  Not quite clear why my parents couldn’t wrap their heads around 11:00 church.   My family has always been one of the few families in the neighborhood awake at the crack of dawn on a day when most were trying to get a few extra hours of sleep because they had no responsibilities for the day. 

Admittedly, there is a compelling reason to make the effort to attend church on Sunday.  Not everyone gets it.  My parents made sure I did.  As I got older, I tried other routines on occasion, but somehow, in time, I would always be drawn back to being in a house of worship on Sunday morning celebrating the goodness of our God.  I have to add, I easily wrapped my head around the 11:00 service.  I guess it was my ultimate form of rebellion against my parents.

Now I’m the mom of a family. I’m not quite as committed as my mom was to making sure we walked through the church doors at every opportunity they were open.  However, I am/we are regular attenders and church is a priority in my life.

A few Sundays back the weather was horrible.  We made the decision to stay home from church.  I got this brilliant idea to try something I had never ever tried before in my home.  I actually had to build up my courage to even allow the words to roll from my lips.  We were going to try having a family devotion at our kitchen table in place of the church service we were missing. While attending church is something my family is very familiar with, having church in our home was waaaaayyyyy out there.

Earlier, I received a newsletter that included spiritual activities for the family to do in order to reinforce their Christian walk.  This was going to be our guide and would help take a bit of the fear out of the equation.   Since this was my idea, and very foreign to my family, I was going to be the leader.  I said upfront I knew this was unusual and we might feel awkward, but I felt it was important to live our lives, in faith, out from under the bushel.  

I babbled out some sort of prayer asking God to be present in our worship and to lead us through the time.  I must not have said quite the right words as it soon became obvious that the devil thought he was invited as well.  We started with two of the activities suggested in the newsletter and then got to the heart of the matter.  Along the way my husband was very tolerant of the experience, but my daughter could not have wanted to be further away.  You could tell she was mentally counting down the time to when she could get the ipad into her hands to play some silly gorilla game.  It was frustrating, but I decided to push on through it.

Now we are at the core message of our devotion and guided to a reading in the Bible from the book of Zephaniah.  This is not a book of the Bible I’m very familiar with.  I probably couldn’t spell the name if it wasn’t right in front of me.  The message was about how God uses discipline in relation to his beloved people of Israel who were rebelling against Him.  Zoom forward a few thousand years and this very situation was happening at my kitchen table.  My daughter was yawning, tapping her fingers, sighing- generally making it obvious she wanted no part of this experience.

I asked her to read the suggested passage from the Bible thinking at least she will get involved.  I couldn’t see him, but the devil must have been sitting there with a giant grin across his face.  Zephaniah 1:4-6– the gist is God is recognizing His people are complacent, worshipping false gods, thinking God wouldn’t do anything about their sin.   My daughter is rolling her eyes, mumbling the words, being dramatic about the imposition that this entire experience is having on her life.  I can feel the devil just laughing at us.

My husband erupts in frustration about the way my daughter is behaving.  They get into verbal arm wrestling competition and neither of them is giving up.  I’m trying to get focus back on the readings.  I realize I’m witnessing the live action version of the story from the Bible- everyone rebelling, behaving in ways that are contrary to God’s plan.  Tears are streaming down my face. I was losing the battle.  My daughter was completely wrong in her behavior.  My husband responded in a reasonable way and as a father would.  I felt the moment was in slow motion and it lasted forever.  This devotion was going, was gone, down the toilet. 

My daughter gets sent off to her room.  My husband is bringing down his blood pressure.  I’m holding the Bible realizing the devil won this round.  I read the next selection from Zephaniah (3:14-17) to myself: 

“Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak.The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

He will quiet you by his love.  He is in our midst.  He has cleared away my enemies.  The devil tried, but he couldn’t do it.  I wasn’t going to give up.  My husband came down from his mountain of anger.  My daughter knew she had been wrong.  They talked it out in time.  Peace and calm was restored to my family.  

I haven’t suggested a family devotion since that time.  We did return to church the next Sunday.  My daughter still rolls her eyes and shows her obvious disinterest at times.  My husband gets frustrated and they get into power battles.   I get involved as needed to bring reason.  Just to be clear, on any given day, my husband and I switch roles about who is going to battle against the pre-teen ninja that enters into our house from time to time.  I don’t want to paint the picture that I’m consistently at ease with what goes on at our kitchen table.  It’s definitely not that way.

What is that way is that I really believe the devil saw an opportunity in our lives and took a hold of it. He knew I was uncomfortable about doing this devotion thing, that I might falter, that I might back down and crawl to a corner.  He tried to prevail.  He used my weakness and my family.  

What he didn’t count on was the commitment I have to God, who I know is with me at all times.  Who I know loves me and my family. Who I know takes care of us no matter what.  He didn’t count on the strong gene pool that came from my parents and their parents before,  who committed their lives to their faith and teaching their children about Jesus by living their lives as they do and did.    He didn’t count on a Mother and Father who made sure their children were in church every Sunday of their young lives at 8:30 in the morning while the rest of the world slept.  

As I look back I realize the direct correlation to building my faith and standing up to the devil’s ways. If I am weak in faith that makes the devil strong over me. But, he can’t be stronger than God. The other day I heard a comment about people thinking God and the devil were on equal plateaus- enemies of equal strength.  It was pointed out,  God created this being, who chose by his own accord, to turn away from God.  He has nothing on God so he nothing on me.  

Set your alarms-I’ll see you in church in the morning…at 11:00. 

 

Prayer Thoughts

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Prayer Thoughts- shared from the LCC devotional blog noted at bottom

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalms 46:10

Give God your whispering thoughts. Throughout the centuries, Christians have learned the value of brief sentence prayers. These Give God your whispering thoughts. These are prayers that can be whispered anywhere, in any setting. Frank Laubach sought unbroken communion with God by asking Him questions. Every two or three minutes he would pray, ‘Am I in your will, Lord? Am I pleasing you, Lord?’ Imagine considering every moment as a potential time of communion with God. By the time your life is over, you will have spent six months at traffic lights, eight months opening junk mail, a year and a half looking for lost stuff, and a whopping five years standing waiting in various lines. Why don’t you give these moments to God? By giving Him your whispering thoughts, the common becomes uncommon. Simple phrases such as ‘Thank You, Father,’ or ‘I stand on Your Word,’ or ‘My desire is to please You,’ can turn a commute into a pilgrimage. You needn’t leave your office or kneel in your kitchen. Just pray where you are. Let the kitchen become a cathedral and the classroom a chapel. Give God your waning thoughts. At the end of the day, let your mind settle on Him. Conclude the day as you began it—talking to God. Thank Him for the good parts. Question Him about the hard parts. Seek His mercy. Seek His strength. As you close your eyes, take assurance in the promise, ‘He who watches over [you] will neither slumber nor sleep’ (Psalms 121:4). If you fall asleep as you pray, don’t worry. What better place to doze off than in the arms of your Father?

 

devotion@lutheranchurchcharities.org 

 

“Mommitude”

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Years before I had my daughter I questioned if I could really ever be a good mom.  I had an amazing example to follow in my life and I just didn’t know if I could be on par with that.  As a young adult I saw wonderful examples of motherhood surrounding me and it was intimidating.  I really figured I’d mess it up so it was better not to play in that game.  Admittedly, there was a selfish angle to putting off the thought of motherhood, but ultimately it really came down to the question of whether or not I could be good enough. I loved kids. People would tell me I would make a good mom.  Yet I doubted.  

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In 2002 I learned I was going to be put to the test; and in 2003 the final exam began.  It’s an exam I believe you take in parts and as I understand it, you never really complete it.  I’ve gotten through the initial phase, I believe. My child is still alive, has a relatively good self image and doesn’t appear to have any permanent damage that I can see- at least thus far.  

Today I experienced an impromptu “pop” quiz and I learned I have developed some “Mommitude” over time. There’s still room for improvement, but the oral exam of this day went pretty well.  I have a certain level of pride about that, but mostly I am humbled (as I should be). I am humbled that God put a life into my world that I am to foster along, provide and care for, guide through tough times, celebrate with, and at some point let loose on the world hopefully making it a better place to be.  

I’m getting way ahead of myself though.  

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For months my 10 year old daughter was focused on getting her ears pierced. I thought she was too young to be responsible, but after lots of discussion, my husband’s agreement, and her persuasiveness, I decided it would be o.k. to do.  I timed it all so that her ears would get well-adjusted to the foreign objects punctured into each lobe in time for us to give her new earrings for Christmas.  

As we ventured off to the mall to get the procedure done there was a sense of anxiousness in the air. It seemed fairly normal.  As we hustled down the corridor to get to the piercing shop butterflies in my daughter’s stomach were noted.  Reasonable to me.  We go through the experience of selecting the perfect pair of starter earrings, having her ears swabbed and marked, and getting the little bear to hold onto for security (not sure if that’s for the child or the parent, but in our case the child held it).

The first earring was injected.  We got through it.  The second earring was inserted and my daughter had an odd look on her face. Within seconds her eyes rolled back in her head and she passed out.  Thankfully she was sitting and I caught her right away.  That part of the test was awful.  My fear level was at the max, but I got into action and took the typical steps to try and bring consciousness back.  All the while I was reciting what I had learned in first-aid:  if the face is red raise the head-if the face is pale raise the tail.  By the time I got to figuring the rhyme out, my daughter was coming to.   I clearly recall her expression and her asking why are you saying my name like that- what happened?

It was a great story to share and my daughter seemed to enjoy the attention this little incident brought.  She did a great job caring for her ears and avoided those nasty infections that I experienced when I was a kid (where was hand sanitizer then?).  It didn’t take long before talk of wearing new earrings.  I explained we had to wait.  We had to be patient.  Christmas was coming etc. etc.  And indeed, Christmas came and my daughter was generously treated to new earrings by several family members.

Enthusiastically we tried a brand new set.  The nerves mounted again.  I advised about breathing this time…like remember to do it.  I pulled out the original earrings.  The response was, Mom I’m woozy.  Here we go again I thought.  However, I talked her through it and we were able to get two new earrings inserted.  Perhaps she was being a little dramatic when she asked to have help sitting down and for some water.  However, she did seem a little pale.  That moment passed and the new earrings looked great.  The test was going pretty well now.

Time to change the earrings again.  She wanted help.  We took out the current studs.  She was getting a little uptight. We decided to wait a day.  We tried again.  Out with the alcohol, washing our hands and picking the pair to wear. Drama sets in.  Mom, I feel like I did when I got my ears pierced.  I need to sit down.  Can you get me a glass of water?  I don’t feel good.  O.k. I’m ready.  No, wait, wait.  O.k. I’m ready.  Breathe.  In through the nose out through the mouth.  O.k. ready?  Ready.  No wait!  O.k. try one, but if I say stop…stop.  

I got the earring to the hole and my daughter’s pupils started changing.  I stopped.  Are you o.k.?  Let’s try this sitting down.  Let’s try this standing up.  Let’s try this with you sitting on the counter.  You want to sit on the floor?  O.k.  Let me get you more water.  I ultimately say, I’m not sure you can handle this.  She says, you are right, Mom.  I don’t think I can handle this either.  Her response made me laugh a little.  

Let’s try again.  If I say stop…I know, I know, if you say stop I will stop.  O.k. Ouch, ouch, ouch, stop. ( I barely got the earring tip near the hole).   Mom, I think we need to try this tomorrow.  O.k. it’s not a problem.  We’ll try it when you are ready.  Will my holes close?  I don’t think they close that quickly, but if we wait too long that could be an issue.  

 

Tears well in eyes.  I ask what’s going on.  She doesn’t want the holes to close up, but she can’t stomach having earrings put in. She is frustrated.  She is failing (in her mind).  This is when, like the exposing of a super-power, I develop my “Mommitude”.  We discuss what’s going on and how she’s feeling.  I throw out a few adjectives and she begins to cry real tears.  I know she is feeling she has let herself down and maybe me.  I reassure that whether or not a person has earrings doesn’t make the person any better or worse. I love her whether she decorates herself or not.  It’s not a big deal if she chooses not to wear earrings.  She tried and whatever she wants at this point is fine. Now I’m stroking her hair, talking softly and she’s leaning into me.  It’s a comfortable position I remember when she fell and bumped herself as a toddler.  Though now, the stakes are getting higher.

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She gets even more emotional when she says people got her all these earrings for Christmas and she can’t wear them.  She is concerned about how they would feel.  This might have been the first time I saw my little girl express a mature and authentic concern for how someone else feels.  Now I’m choked up.  I explained again she was loved and no one would care how long it took her  to wear the earrings they gave her or if she ever wore them.   Gifts are given from the heart.  I was being the gift of motherhood at that very moment.

As for the heart, genuine feelings were exuding from hers.  I could feel her sadness in my heart as well.  I pulled her closer and we shared some memories about how I used to do that when she was much smaller.  She grabbed me tighter.  More conversation about what’s important and what’s not in life.  As I held her close I tried to say the right things at the appropriate times and let there be silence when that was needed as well.  I felt my Mommitude expand.  After a little time things were getting back to normal and the earring incident was long gone.

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These pop quizzes are challenging.  What’s the right thing to say?  Will I screw it up? I know this is the first of many experiences where she will need to hold me tight, where I will stroke her hair and talk about feelings, where I’ll reinforce she is special no matter what the circumstance.  I’m honored that I am the person taking part in these tests.  As I tilted my head to rest on top of hers I thanked God for the opportunity to be a mom- to be her mom.  I expressed my gratitude for being put to the test and saying things I didn’t regret.  You never know what might come out of my mouth the next time.  For now, I’ll take this experience as a true gift and I’ll keep sharpening up my Mommitude for the tests to come.  I have a feeling there will be many more “pop” quizzes ahead.  

 

Forgive-mess

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I was taking my usual early morning trek with the furry beast, as I like to call her.  I relished in the crispness of the air, the Crayola-blue sky and the silence of a Sunday morning where most people are still tucked under the covers working through their last REM cycle. I wanted to be one of those people too, but it was not to happen.  Slightly bundled up I trotted out the door and turned on an inspirational morning program I like to listen to.

Today’s topic: forgiveness.  A great reference was verbalized and I wanted to keep track of it for future use.  I love Notes in my cell phone.  However, my skills of walking and typing at the same time have not been fine-tuned. I typically wouldn’t even try it in motion, and especially not with dog in tow.  However, since the rest of the world was asleep, it was pretty certain I would be safe keeping my head down as I focused typing with the one finger I had available as the balance kept the phone in place.

I wrote down the referenced author’s name  (auto-correct had fun with that so it took a few tries) and then I tried to write down the subject word, forgiveness.  Except, the word came out forgive-mess.  Instantly I thought how much more appropriate that term might be in my life than the original word.  “Forgive me my mess as I forgive others who make messes and mess me up.”  

I can relate to a mess.  I see the messes I make every day.  My desk at work- it’s a mess.  Dishes filling the sink-messy.  Sorting through my receipts from a business trip- big mess.  I constantly live in messes by the fact I’m much more of a “piler upper” than a “put-awayer”.  

As I look around me and see my mess here and there, or I analyze my life and say it’s a mess, it’s so obvious what I mean. That’s not to say I don’t understand “debts” or “sins”.  I clearly do.  However, either word is made so much clearer to me when characterized by the messes I make in my life.  I can’t always see the toll my sins have taken on others around me, but I sure can relate to seeing mess in someone’s life.  Situations have occurred where I’ve blurted out, “I made a mess of this.”  That mess is probably my sin. 

So when I take a step back and want to talk to God about my sins I guess I can start with the messes around me.  Suddenly, and unfortunately, those sins will likely be more clear.  That’s the good, bad and ugly of the mess I make in my life and the mess others make with theirs.  

Let me take this moment to say if I have done anything to assist in creating a mess in your life, I’m sorry and sincerely wish for your forgive-mess .  Forgive-mess is hard…it’s…well, messy.  It’s what we need to do for so many reasons.  It helps to have a reminder from time to time so here’s the excerpt that started this day’s writing.  

Sometimes when you say a word like forgiveness, we think it is nice and sweet, like spraying perfume, but forgiveness isn’t like that. It’s hard; it’s tough. It is one of the hardest things we ever have to do. As I thought about it, I realized that even when you forgive someone it is easy to still hurt, to still feel the sting. In a real sense, forgiveness just ain’t fair. 

Many of us pray every day, “Forgive us as we forgive others.” It’s at the core of our religion, and yet it is not fair. It hurts. It is not easy to do. Why would God want us to do something that is so unlike what our instinct is, that is so unfair? 

In the final analysis, forgiveness is an act of faith. It is the belief that God can take care of the fairness problems. It is not fair just to pretend that something didn’t happen. It did happen. It still hurts. It still stings. Forgiveness is not fair, but forgiveness is a way of taking that burden from us and giving it to God Who is fair. “I will avenge,” says the Lord. You forgive. It breaks the cycle of relationships. It breaks the stranglehold on you and on me and it is what God did for us in His Son Jesus on the cross.  (Philip Yancey)

Hey, let’s get these messes cleaned up here!

 

A Chapter Closed-at least for now.

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Today a chapter in my book of life closed-temporarily.  Someone who I’ve become friends with over the years succumbed to the pressure of cancer and she has moved from her life on earth to her eternal life in Heaven.  Sweet Kathleen fought a courageous battle. The odds were against her.  Sadly, dear loved ones, including a husband and two children, are facing one of the toughest nights of their lives right now.

I knew Kathleen was coming close to the end of her life among us.  Two days ago I saw two deer in the neighbor’s front yard while I was taking a walk.  My thoughts went to Kathleen immediately. I wondered if her time had come.  It made me think of Psalm 42.  It wasn’t time yet.

Today I walked again and the cloud formation above me was shaped as a beautiful cross.  I wondered again.  How is Kathleen?  Hours later I learned from a friend she had passed.  

I had to attend a meeting following the notice and my thoughts were sad; my heart aching for Kathleen’s family.  I entered the meeting place and went to the open chair at the table.  As I began to sit I noticed something on the chair.  It was the metal heart shown at the top of this message.  I have no idea why it was there, but it made me think of God’s deep, wide and everlasting love.  He will not leave us not forget us. 

I didn’t have a chance to speak to Kathleen directly before she died.  Her husband and children wouldn’t know me very well, but I knew of her pride of them.  I would want them to know Kathleen touched my life in a beautiful way.  She made me smile and laugh.  She was a lovely woman.  She was part of a chapter in my life and I was blessed to know her.

 

Psalm 42- The Living Bible

42 As the deer pants for water, so I long for you, O God. 2 I thirst for God, the living God. Where can I find him to come and stand before him? 3 Day and night I weep for his help, and all the while my enemies taunt me. “Where is this God of yours?” they scoff.

4-5 Take courage, my soul! Do you remember those times (but how could you ever forget them!) when you led a great procession to the Temple on festival days, singing with joy, praising the Lord? Why then be downcast? Why be discouraged and sad? Hope in God! I shall yet praise him again. Yes, I shall again praise him for his help.[a]

6 Yet I am standing here depressed and gloomy, but I will meditate upon your kindness to this lovely land where the Jordan River flows and where Mount Hermon and Mount Mizar stand. 7 All your waves and billows have gone over me, and floods of sorrow pour upon me like a thundering cataract.[b]

8 Yet day by day the Lord also pours out his steadfast love upon me, and through the night I sing his songs and pray to God who gives me life.

9 “O God my Rock,” I cry, “why have you forsaken me? Why must I suffer these attacks from my enemies?” 10 Their taunts pierce me like a fatal wound; again and again they scoff, “Where is that God of yours?” 11 But, O my soul, don’t be discouraged. Don’t be upset. Expect God to act! For I know that I shall again have plenty of reason to praise him for all that he will do. He is my help! He is my God!