Friday, March 30, 2007

Grief 101

A few weeks ago I wrote that I pay attention when I hear or see reference to something from 3 different sources in quick succession. At that time, this was rather frightening, because the reference in question was the passage in Luke stating that of those who have been given much, much will be expected. If you knew how blessed I am, you’d be scared too.
Well, it happened again. This time, I received a card, and a meditation, and read a book referring to the woman who anointed Jesus with perfume before his crucifixion. Jesus says that Mary has done a beautiful thing for Him, in preparation for His burial. In Mark’s version of the story, He also says “she has done what she could.”
To be honest, when people quote lots of verses on how much better things are in heaven, it can seem like they are forgetting that it’s those of us left behind who are struggling. Yes, things are better for our loved ones in heaven. And yes, it is still hard for us here on earth, especially without our loved ones.
Whether it is realistic or not, guilt is part of the grief process. The “what if” game is just part of the territory. That’s the kind of tough stuff we don’t really know how to respond to when trying to comfort someone who has suffered a loss. We often don't know what to say in the face of such distress.
The story of the woman who did “what she could” ought to go on the list of good things to say.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


This is pretty cool. Thanks to Cris from the Chat 'n' Chew Cafe for having it on her blog first. Nifty.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Well, the good news is I have Feedblitz on my blog now. So you just need to sign up if you want my posts emailed to you instead of having to check the blog every few days to see if I've made any updates.
The bad news is that in order to get Feedblitz, I had to update to the new blogger template. As I mentioned before, this "upgrade" causes one to lose much of the work they've already invested in the blog. I don't like the way my blog looks now. And while it seems like I'll be able to restore it to close to how it looked before, it won't be the same. And it will take time.
Most notably, I've lost my links. You know, the links I told you to investigate earlier in the week while I took a few days off. Yeah, those disappeared. Kind of a mean trick, huh?
Anyway, sign up for my Feedblitz feed. It'll make your life easier and it'll make me feel popular.

Monday, March 19, 2007

From the Bookpile

I need to take a few days off from blogging. In the meantime, I suggest you visit some of my fellow bloggers and favorite websites as listed in my sidebar.
Also, here’s a bit more information on some of the things in my waiting to be read pile, just in case your own waiting to be read pile is growing a little short.
Glimpses of Grace, Madeline L’Engle- A great daily devotional compiled from some of her previous writings. Excellent stuff to chew on here.
Unfinished Tales of Middle Earth, JRR Tolkien- Because these stories are in various stages of completion and edited by Mr. Tolkien’s son, Christopher, you get more than a collection of stories. You get a peek into his actual writing process. There’s information on the circumstances under which the stories were written and notes on other plot ideas & versions Mr. Tolkien considered. I could go on...
A Grief Observed, CS Lewis- I’ve read this book before, most recently just a few months ago. But reading after having suffered a loss is like reading it for the first time. Actually, it’s a bit like having CS Lewis in my head. Intense, but oddly validating and comforting.
There’s more in my pile, but I haven’t started most of it yet. I hope to be back soon.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Take, take til there’s nothing. Nothing to turn to. Nothing when you get through. Break, scatter pieces of all I’ve been. Bowing to all I’ve been running to. Where are You? Where are You?
Did You leave me unbreakable? Leave me frozen? I never felt so cold, I though You were silent. And I thought You left me for the wreckage and the waste on an empty beach of faith.
Was it true?
'Cause I, I got a question. I got a question. Where are You?
Scream, deeper I want to scream. I want You to hear me. I want You to find me. I want to believe. But all I pray is wrong and all I claim is gone.
I, I got a question. I got a question. Where are You?
Yeah, Yeah, I, I got a question. I got a question. Where are You?
Where are You?
Where are You?
Where are You?

Silence, Jars of Clay

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Greatest of These

I know this woman who is dying. I’ve watched her faith be shaken by what she doesn’t understand. I’ve watched the passing of time steal hope from her day by day. As things get more intense and complicated, I’ve wondered what can possibly make this better? The questions are unanswerable. The suffering is intolerable. No matter how kind or helpful or understanding I am, she will still die. What is left?
It’s amazing how the most difficult questions have the simplest answers. Faith and hope are failing, but “the greatest of these is love.”
OK. I can do that. I pray that it’s enough.

“But tears of grief cannot repay the debt of love I owe. Here, Lord, I give myself away, it’s all that I can do.” Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed.

Current Read: Unfinished Tales of Middle Earth, JRR Tolkien (it’s so good!)
Current Music: Blasphemous Rumors, Depeche Mode

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Rainbow

Right after I moved, I spent some time visiting my friend Deb in AZ. I was pretty burned out and looking forward to a change of scenery and some down time with my good friend. One thing I loved was the pace of our days. That was partially due to the fact that Deb was quite great with child and neither one of us was able to tolerate the heat very well. That suited me just fine. It was great to have a vacation and not worry about keeping up or dragging someone behind. It felt very nurturing.
Another nurturing thing about it was, well, the simple fact that I was nurtured. Deb even remembered that I love chocolate chip pancakes. And the dogs, what love fiends those guys are. Deb took great pains to see to it that I saw a variety of sites & got a lot of great pictures. She really wanted me to have a good time, & that in itself meant a lot to me.
The return travel home after a vacation is usually less than nurturing, especially when one is flying through O’Hare. On the day I came home, there was a storm at O’Hare & we were delayed in the air a bit. By the time I got home, the rain slowed to a drizzle and the sun was coming out. I saw the quality of the light and I just knew there was a rainbow waiting to welcome me home. I dropped my stuff and walked directly out to my balcony. And since I had just been traveling, I had my camera handy. So I have pictures. It’s a pretty great rainbow, even if the rest of the scenery isn’t as fabulous as where Deb lives. Even though I had to return to the real world, it was a great reminder of the beautiful stuff all around us.
It’s photographic evidence of grace.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Do You Have the Time?

A couple weeks ago I was walking to a friend’s house after we’d gotten a few inches of snow. That probably requires a bit of description for you to get a good mental picture. For me to walk in the snow requires that I use crutches, which are a bit more cumbersome & slower. Furthermore, in my neighborhood, a shoveled sidewalk is defined as a path the width of one snow shovel. So where normally 3 people could walk abreast, one person can only fit now. If said person is taking up even more space with the use of crutches, it gets really crowded and difficult to manage who gets to pass & how & when.
About ten paces from the street, I pass a building a woman has just exited. She quickly approaches behind me and sighs, clears her throat, and sighs again. Now five paces from the street where there is wide berth for passing, it is clear she wants me to step into the snow so she can pass. Stifling my questions on the etiquette here, I step into the snow. She passes, breaking into a run. Briefly, I assumed she was on an urgent mission. However, the run lasted only 15 seconds; about the length of time she was held up by my slower progress. My bemused chagrin was interrupted by a flash of red out of the corner of my eye. The season’s first cardinal landed on a nearby tree, and he greeted me with a chirp before moving on.
It’s a shame she missed it.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Career Day

I participated in my high school’s career day today. This is the 2nd year I’ve come back to speak there. I was shocked to hear from an old classmate that this is the year of our 15th reunion. I’m the kind of person who, until recently, hasn’t really been back to high school since I graduated. I think that’s because I focused a lot of energy on moving forward and I needed the distance from that time in my life to keep that forward motion.
I’m glad it wasn’t a case of never being able to “go home” again though. I think I was able to put some things in perspective in a way I would not have been able to do if I’d remained more connected with the people, places, and things from high school. It was neat to revisit that time in my life. The timing of how these things works out is interesting to me.
Who I was isn’t who I am now. But who I was is a piece of who I am. When we wonder where we belong in life, we can look back on the places we have belonged in the past and be reassured that God has a plan for where we belong.

Friday, March 02, 2007

More About Names

I’ve never been overly fond of my name. Sorry Mom & Dad, but it’s true. There’s no particular reason I don’t like it. There’s no other name I’ve got my heart set on. The name I have just doesn’t particularly excite me.
I’ve been thinking about how people in Biblical times often changed their names after life changing experiences. I’m undergoing one of those experiences right now. I’m learning a lot about grace. I’m learning that everything I have and everything I am has been gifted to me. There’s no reason for any of the goodness in my life except for grace.
Compare that with the circumstances of many of the people I encounter every day. Lives destroyed by broken relationships, hopelessness, and all manner of life’s hurts. Hurts that exceed the resources some people have available for mending. People I walk by every day. People who try my patience. People who violate my trust. People who wound my pride. These are the people who change me. People who need acceptance, understanding, and compassion.
In Hebrew, my name means “Grace.” I think I need to live up to the name I have before I go trying to get a new one.