A Widow and the Great Shepherd

It’s been a year since my last post and that’s simply because it felt like my “well of words” had run dry and I had said all that I could say. In this my 11th year of being a widow, I have learned many things about myself and about the Lord. I have determined that life without my Savior and Lord – The Great Shepherd – is simply impossible.

At the graveside ceremony of my husband Bob I had requested that the pastor read Psalm 150 which is a psalm of nothing but praise. For some reason Psalm 23 was read instead and I was not happy. As I look back now, though, I can see that perhaps the reading of Psalm 23 was really for me.

The main job of a shepherd is to guide, provide food and water, protect and deliver, gather back to the herd those who are lost, and to nurture and provide security. How many times have I needed guidance, provision, protection, deliverance, nurtured, security and to be gathered back to the heart of the Shepherd! No matter how many friends and family a widow has around her they cannot provide for her deepest needs. They have their own lives and their own families that need them. When you become a widow, you realize that it’s really just God and you and if you desire it, your relationship with the Shepherd can change and grow much deeper.

There are many days that I don’t talk much to anyone but God and my conversation with Him can go on off and on all day long. After our daughters left home my stay-at-home wife days had long hours where there was no conversation until Bob got home from work. So, I actually had some practice in lone conversation with God. But, it was different because I could always depend on having my husband  during the evenings and on weekends to talk to about life, to share things, to troubleshoot problems, and to pray with me. This has been a great loss and is where my relationship with God has deepened simply because I need someone to talk to each and every day.

In thinking about my Lord the Great Shepherd this week, I have also been pondering why the angels came to the shepherds in the fields first with the good news of the birth of Christ. Common shepherds. Christ the Good Shepherd. There’s a commonality there and I have been determined in my musings to find what that might be.

This morning I came across an article called “Why Shepherds?” written by Jean Boonstra. She beautifully answered my questions about this and I want to share her reasoning here with you because it is different than anything I have ever heard in a Christmas message.

The shepherds who navigated the dark streets of Bethlehem to find the newborn baby were not the kind of men that regularly made kingly visits. These men were separated from mainstream society and likely their language, habits and associations would have been repulsive to those living in the homes they passed.

So, why did a host of angels bring these men the glad tidings that Jesus was born? I believe there are three reasons.

1. This foreshadowed Jesus’ role as the Good Shepherd. By heralding the good news of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, Jesus hinted right from the beginning what His plan was.  “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11 God’s plan from the foundation of the world was for Jesus to give His life for us, just as the shepherds would have done for their sheep. The angels heralded His birth to those who exemplified this mission

2. God despises our smugness, prejudice and pride. The shepherds were undoubtedly coarse, unlearned men. Men that the scribes and pharisees would have delighted to shun and avoid. Men despised and rejected—just as He would soon be. In the light of divinity each of us is filthy, simple and broken. The heralding of His birth to some of the lowest of the low reminds us that we are all unwashed in comparison to the Divine. Jesus stooped to our level to pay the ultimate sacrifice.

3. He longs to reach the unreachable. The shepherds sitting out that dark night watching their sheep in the moonlight were exactly who He came to save. Later Jesus reminded His followers that “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”Mark 2:17 Sinners—the group that the “righteous” had shunned—are the very people that He came to this Earth as a babe to save. Sinners like the shepherds. Sinners like you and me.”

God’s plan for widows was to have Christ our Shepherd in place to provide everything that we need in our lives. When He created us He knew that at this time of our lives we were going to be widows. It did not take Him by surprise at all. He knew it and He planned for it. When our husbands died we weren’t just thrown out there to figure out everything by ourselves. Our Shepherd was right there to pick us up and carry us in His arms. Later, when we were strong enough to walk, He walked beside us leading and guiding us along. He continues to lead and guide me, let me cry when I need to, listen to me when I long to have Bob to talk to about things, console me and speak quietly to my heart and soul when I or someone in my family has a problem that I so desperately want to fix, provides for me and gives me the security that I need.

Christ, my Good Shepherd who is always, always, always with me and will never ever leave me! The greatest blessing a widow can have!



12 Myths of Widowhood


by Ellen Camp and Dawn Nargi, Co-founders of The W Connection

Widowhood. It can happen to any married woman. We know …it happened to us. Whether your spouse battles a long illness or dies suddenly, one is never prepared for being a widow. Devastation, loneliness, sadness and loss of direction make widowhood one of the most difficult times in a woman’s life. Of all married women, 75% will be widowed at least once in their lives. Yet, women receive little or no training on how to be a widow. And, there is little offered to assist these women on how to deal with and adapt to the consequences of their loss. As a result, a number of myths prevail.

Myths about widowhood make this time even harder and more confusing. When a woman loses her spouse, friends, family and service professionals want to help, so they give widows advice and guidance. And, since widows are anxious for help to get through this devastating time, they listen. But experience has shown that much of this well-intentioned advice is based on myth instead of reality.

This article identifies the most prevalent myths about widowhood and, more importantly, describes the realities accompanying these myths.

Myth 1: When it comes to grieving, one size fits all

Reality: Different personalities, situations, and life experiences causes everyone to grieve and adapt to loss differently. Lots of different factors come into play: age, the length of a marriage, good/bad marriage, economic situations, children/no children, and career status, just to name a few. One size DOES NOT fit all. A widow’s goal should be to make the best decisions she can based on the circumstances she is facing.

Myth 2: There is a time limit for grieving

Reality: When widows are given time limits to “get over their grief”– be it six months, one year or two years – they feel inadequate and abnormal if they haven’t “gotten over it” in the allotted time.  At some point in the bereavement process, most widows realize that they need to learn new skills to adapt to the new realities of their lives.  This isn’t a time-limited process, but an evolving one, whereby the needs of widows change over time.  Different needs and tasks are relevant at various stages in the widows’ transitions.

Myth 3: You will “move on” or “get over it”

Reality: Widowhood is not a disease, sickness or mental illness. It is a fact of life, and there is no recovering. Women learn to live with it, cope with it and survive it. They learn to integrate this loss into the realities of their new life. With time, there is less frequent crying and less anger, laughter will come back, and focus shifts to the future.

Myth 4: The second year is easier than the first

Reality: As the shock and numbness fade, a widow becomes more clearheaded. She realizes the life that was built for two must now be lived by one. She needs to construct a new identity, and becomes increasingly aware of how many changes she will need to make in her life–and how many challenges she will be facing alone. She realizes that the real work is ahead of her, and that she must rebuild her life.

Myth 5: With time, life returns to “normal”

Reality: Soon after a woman loses her husband, she is typically supported by friends and family. Eventually, though, they must return to their “normal” lives. . After the death of a spouse, widows cannot go back to their lives as they were before. There is no “normal” for a widow. Regardless of age or circumstance, widows all have one thing in common: a woman who has lost her spouse has lost more than a life partner – she has lost her way of life. Widows must learn to incorporate this loss into their lives, and not burden themselves with the expectation that they have to return to “normal.”

Myth 6: Widowhood is reserved for the elderly

Reality: Contrary to popular belief, in the United States the average age of a woman who loses her spouse is 55. One third of those women will lose their spouse before they are 45, leaving many women to raise their children alone.

Myth 7: There is a linear, logical sequence to grieving

Reality: Widows experience many emotional ups and downs during the healing process. There are many days when a widow will feel she has made progress in retaking control of her life and adapting to the new realities of her life. And then, something happens that makes her feel like she is experiencing a major setback – it can evidence itself as a fit of anger, feeling very overwhelmed, or having a severe crying jag. The reason could be an anniversary, a birthday, hearing a special song on the radio, or running into an old friend. The healing process feels like a very crooked path for most widows. Grieving will happen for each woman in her own time, and in her own way.

Myth 8: There is a right way and a wrong way to grieve

Reality: When dealing with the loss of a spouse, there is no playbook. What

works well for one woman may not work at all for another. Widows often look for ways to determine whether they are “doing it right”, or ask themselves, “Should I be doing something I’m not doing?” Widowhood is a time of great self doubt for women, since the loss of their spouse most often results in a feeling of total loss of control over their lives. This is a time when widows need to be very self protective and do those things that feel right to them…not do things that others think they should do.

Myth 9: Time heals all wounds

Reality: A widow does not heal from losing her spouse. She adapts to her new reality. Sadness still exists, she experiences periods of anxiety, and tears come and go. With the passage of time, she gains more control over her emotions and her new life, and gains greater confidence. She has no choice – she must change, she must rebuild. And time helps her do this.

Myth 10: Don’t talk in front of the kids about their father’s death

Reality: When children lose a parent, they grieve and experience many of the same emotions as a grieving adult. The way they respond varies based on their ages, their stages of development, and their personalities. They want guidance about what these feelings mean and how to cope with them, yet may not know how to ask, or may not want to ask for help. Research has shown that there are several crucial factors in helping children cope with the death of a loved one, including the mother’s ability to be there for her children, to recognize that they are mourning, and to provide them with caring support as they deal with the emotions and changes facing them.  This definitely includes talking about the loss and its impact on the family.

Talking with your children about the death of your spouse is especially difficult when you are dealing with your own grief. However, it is during these difficult times that your love and support are especially important to your children. They learn to deal with their grief by watching how you cope. What’s more, helping others deal with their pain can sometimes provide us with a momentary distraction from our own hurts.

Myth 11: Strong widows don’t cry in front of others

Reality: Baloney! The grieving period is a very emotional time. Widows often feel sad, anxious, depressed, angry, guilty, lonely, and afraid –sometimes all at one time! Needless to say they are very vulnerable and feeling raw during these times. Widows do not need the added pressure of trying to hold in their emotions. If they need to cry, then they need to give themselves permission to cry, even in front of others. Hopefully, the people around them will understand. And if not, it‘s not the widow’s problem—it’s the problem of those who are uncomfortable.

Myth 12: Don’t talk about your husband–it only makes things harder

Reality:  The decision of whether or not to talk about her husband is up to the widow.  For some widows, talking about their spouses is part of their healing process.  It is an important way to hold onto a lot of good memories during a time of great sadness and loss.  Widows sometimes feel they are making other people uncomfortable, or that others do not want to hear these stories.  If talking about your spouse is important to you, “just do it”.  There are also some widows who prefer not to talk about their husbands.  Widows need to educate about what is right or wrong for them.

Click to access Breaking%20the%20Myths%20of%20Widowhood.pdf

Journey to a Sacred Place

“My life is a long journey to a sacred place for a sacred purpose that passes through a myriad of places and seasons that will include joy and abundance as well as weeping and drought which will bring me from one level of strength to a greater level of strength as I am walking along with God.

If I am to find my calling, the intention of my life, I must become oriented — I must find my true north. I must sit still and clear from my navigational equipment (my heart) the inaccurate, invalid maps and errors and triangulate to the three universal coordinates: story, desire, and journey.

STORY: I must continually remember that more is going on than I can see (there is a Greater story), the stakes are higher than I’ve been told ( I live on a battleship, not a cruise liner), and I am far more than I believe ( I am the only one in the spiritual realm who underestimates the power of my life). The theme of my story is overcoming and becoming.

DESIRE: The good news is that what I was created to do in the Greater story is what I most want to do — it is written on my heart in the form of my desires: ‘It is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases Him’ (Philippians 2:13 ISV). I must also continually be aware not only of the story I am living in, but of my desires.

JOURNEY: In addition, I must always remember that there is a process, a progression, a journey that all people must take in becoming who they truly are and in recognizing the role they are to play. And I must remember, as essential and powerful as these reference points are, beyond them there are things that only God can reveal about my life. God wants to be intimately involved in my journeys of becoming, and because of His desire for my life to become what it was destined to be, He must and will speak to me personally.”

——–Gary Barkalow/It’s Your Call: What Are You Doing Here

Who Was He?

collage-of-bobs-lifeNovember 10th, 2009 – the day our lives changed forever. Bob finished his earthly course and stepped into the presence of his Lord and Savior. The 36 years, 4 months and 10 days of the book of my life as a wife abruptly closed and a new book entitled Just You and I, Lord began. For seven years the chapters have been about brokenness, questions, uncertainties and fears. Woven all throughout those chapters has been the love of God, rebirth of a different kind of relationship with Him, learning to stand up for myself, doing things that I never dreamed I could do, taking the time to process through things that hurt me instead of stuffing them down deep inside my heart……and on and on.

Every year reflecting back is a part of the days and weeks leading up to November 10th. Who was Bob Feathers? The best way to answer that question is to take out the beautiful leather Bible that I was given from the men in the Emissions Lab at Nissan North America. Bob had been the lab manager and had two shifts of men under him. Those men became like family members to him. To say that he cared for each and every one of them dearly would be an understatement. Every night as we prayed together before going to sleep, Bob would pray for them all by name — not just first name, but first and last name. Every December he asked me to bake dozens and dozens of a variety of homemade cookies for them as his love gift to them. When his diet had to change during his last few years there, he ordered bags and bags of trail mix to hand out.

Being in the managerial position was extremely stressful, but Bob did his very best to take into consideration what was going on in each man’s personal life and to encourage them not only personally but professionally. His love and care became evident after his death when those men presented me with a beautiful leather Bible. Engraved on the front bottom right corner are the words “Robert Feathers/Friend”. One of the men that Bob had worked with from the very beginning sent me a note that means more to me than anything and so greatly describes who Bob was:

Bob loved all of you very much. I can still remember the photograph Bob kept on his desk at work of his 4 daughters (Leah, Annissa, Charity & Tshanina). He was so very proud of each of you. He was always talking about his children and his loving wife. Candy – you were the perfect wife for Bob. Bob knew how blessed he was in this life, and how blessed he would be after this life. He is in peace now, and I know that is difficult. I admired, truly admired Bob for the man that he was, for the way he lived his life, for the way he loved his family, for the ethics and his morals, for so many different reasons. He was a great man.

There were four other young men that Bob greatly loved and they were his sons-in-law. After all, he knew that these men were the ones whom he had entrusted the love and care of his four most precious possessions – his daughters. These were the men that would help raise his grandchildren and be the physical and spiritual leaders of their homes. Once a year when all four men were in town together, Bob would take them aside and just talk to them about life, what it means to be a husband, what it means to be a father and, most importantly, how to have a relationship with God. How much more he could say to them now after living in heaven for these last 7 years!

At the time of his death, there were four grandsons and one granddaughter. He loved them with all of his heart. He would talk to me about how he wanted to teach the boys how to repair small engines so that they would always have the knowledge to keep their lawn mowers and weed eaters running. He loved to take them up on his lap and ride them around our country yard on the John Deere riding mower. Letting them steer was the highlight of their day. Our granddaughter Elizabeth looked so much like her mother Leah that Bob nicknamed her “Little Leah”. Those grandchildren each came up to the hospital to show him their Halloween costumes nine days before his death. Bob made sure that he had some candy to give to each one of them because food was his love language and he wanted them to know that no matter how very sick he was, he loved them. Now there are 8 grandsons. Bob would be in his element for sure!

Our four daughters were Bob’s most valuable treasures entrusted to him by God to lead, guide and direct. They meant more to him than anything else in this world. He was so proud of the grown women, wives and mothers they had become. I wish he could know what they are like now seven years later. His chest would swell with love and thankfulness for their personal relationships with God, the way that they love on and care for their husbands, how they work so hard to train their children, how they love on me, their wisdom, their understanding, and how they love others as much as he did.

Bob wasn’t perfect. Neither am I. You could say that we grew up together after marrying at ages 20 and 21. I never once worried that he would not provide for me or our daughters. Never once did the thought that he might leave me enter my mind. I trusted him implicitly. A better picture of Christ’s unconditional love I could not have had. Because I loved/love Bob so deeply, I grieve deeply. Not a day goes by that he is not on my mind. Not a day goes by that I don’t tell God how very much I miss him and how much it still hurts to live without him. What a gift it was for me to have experienced a love like that with my one and only! What a privilege it was to care for him and walk with him through those last dark days of his life.

Now I walk through my days with THE ONE – my Lord and Savior – and look forward to the day when I see Him and Bob face to face.


A few weeks ago the pastor of Mansfield Bible Church, Greg Buckles, who happens to be my cousin’s husband and a man who truly has a real Shepherd’s heart, gave a message on how to comfort someone  in their loss.  His research for this message included talking to several people who have lost a loved one including his sister who was widowed just a year ago. It is the only message like it that I have ever heard and one that is so needed because most of us as Christians do not really know how to give comfort to others.

I encourage you to take the time to listen to his message on this link. Scroll the cursor over to 24:24 as Greg gets begins speaking on “Beyond Our Normal Strength”.


Say Yes to New Life

In great loss, life as we have known it can never be again.  The day must come when we leave behind the old and reach for the new.

* Begin a list of things you know you must let go as you become aware of them.

 * What do you feel about the “tomorrows” to come–dread, fear, wonder, hope, anticipation, anxiety, trust, despair, confidence, apathy, belief . . .?

 * Pray for and look toward the day you once again say “yes” to life.

To reach for our tomorrows is to leave the familiar and dare to adventure into life not yet formed, holding tightly to the hand that has led us thus far.

Verdell Davis – Let Me Grieve But Not Forever


A Place of Pause

Chuck Swindoll shares that the book of Habakkuk is all about Habakkuk’s wrestling, waiting, praying, and praising.  It is a dialogue between a very burdened Habakkuk and God.

The two questions that not only Habakkuk but we invariably ask God that He most often never answers are “Why?” and “How long?”.  Habakkuk said “God, give me Your game plan” and God’s gracious answer was “If I gave you my game plan, you wouldn’t believe it if I told you.”

Habakkuk is confused, uncertain, and doesn’t know what to think anymore.  So, he makes the most important decision in his ministry.  He decides to say nothing, lie back, and wait on God.  He stations himself alone at his rampart and says to himself, “Apparently there is something cross-wired in my head and I need reproof from God.  Certainly there is confusion.  So, I’m going to wait for God to speak.” And it’s then after Habakkuk stops and waits for awhile that the Lord answers.

There is something significant about that word “answered” in the Hebrew translation of Habakkuk 2:2.  It conveys the idea of being favorable, docile, amenable in one’s response.  In other words, God smiled when He answered, “Oh, Habakkuk. I’m glad you stopped and listened.  I’m glad you waited.  That pleases me.  Now I’m ready to answer you.”

A wise sage once wrote:

In every life there is a pause that is better than onward rush.

Better than hewing or mightiest doing.

It’s the standing still at Sovereign will.

The pause and the hush sing double song in unison low and for all time long.

Oh, human soul, God’s working plan goes on nor needs the aid of man.

Stand still and see.

Be still and know.

We are perhaps never more effective in all our lives than when we make a determinate effort to STOP and REST in God.  And, it may be that there are times when God forces us to step aside and just wait on Him.

The Berkley Bible translating Psalm 40 renders it, I waited and waited for the Lord.  Then He bent over to me and heard my cry.  He brought me up from a destructive pit, from the miry clay and set my feet on a rock steadying my steps.”

A widow is thrown into that place of asking God not only “Why?!” but “God, what is Your game plan now?!”  For a long time there is too much fog to see ahead to even take the next step. When the fog finally begins to clear, the future is uncertain.  We don’t know who we are now.  More questions arise about ourselves as issues in our lives that we have never dealt with float to the surface.

If we truly want our hearts to be in tune with God, we are forced to stop wrestling and wait.  We tend to look at these places in our lives of pause and waiting as bad places, but God see those places as still waters where we stop, wait, and then sit quietly as He communes with us.

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes in the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk 3:17-18

What Are You Craving?

Have you found yourself craving certain foods since the death of your husband?  Do you know that food cravings are your body trying to tell you something?  Alexandra Jamieson tells us about food cravings and how to determine what they mean.

“You know yourself and are your own health advocate, but you don’t follow through with things that you know.  You have food cravings or repetitive negative thoughts that keep us stuck.  Not only working on the small consistent food switches that help you release pounds, but also the mindset about cravings is important. We really have habits that run our lives.  We don’t understand them or know how to stop them.  I’ve been able to create simple exercises to keep people in tune with catching those habits and incorporate them easily without a lot of work.

You need to feel comfortable and happy in your own body.  Not feeling comfortable in your body appears in many ways – you are really hard on yourself and think that you look much worse than you really do and weigh more than you actually do.  How good you look is never good enough.  This goes to into trying so hard to be perfect.  The pursuit of perfection is awesome because it’s wonderful to be brave and try for those things that will light up your soul….to do your best.  But, you can get paralyzed by the pursuit of perfection and this can be true of your diet and exercise.  If you mess up 1 time, you will just chuck it all.  You are really, really hard on yourself.  Perfection can derail us.

Cravings are part of this because it can really feed into the lack of perfection when you have cravings and don’t really understand them or have tools to deal with them.

Different cravings are viewed as bad, something to get rid of, and you need more will power.  That means that you believe that your body is bad and not trustworthy.  Cravings are just information telling you that your body is just out of balance.  They aren’t something that is wrong.  It doesn’t mean that you follow every craving or act on craving, but it IS information to get under the surface of what is going on with your body and how your mental state or environment is affecting your body.

If you are in a high stress job, commute more than 1 ½ hour a day, or are in a bad relationship, this causes stress, loneliness, anger or static in your body.  The body doesn’t like that static.  It shows up in your stomach, head, tension in your muscles, pain, discomfort, etc.  The body just wants to feel good.

There are nutritional deficiencies that cause cravings.

3 Deficiencies Causing Your Sabotaging Food Cravings

1.  Nutritional   Sugar – doesn’t necessarily mean you are lacking sugar in your body, but it could mean you have candida.  There are more bacteria in your body than anything.    Salt – a mineral deficiency.  Our diet can be deficient in lots of minerals. Salt used to hold a lot of minerals.  Good quality sea salt is gray and wet looking. You need more sea veggies.  Main Coast Sea Vegetables are wild harvested and sell condiment shakers that you can just sprinkle it right on your food every meal to get all the minerals that you need daily.  The triple flake blend has dulse and is higher in iron.

2.  Physical  Any discomfort in your body is telling you that if you eat something with sugar in it, you will feel good right now.  Proper rest is one of the physical deficiencies….good quality, good quantity (8 hrs.) a day is necessary.  This will help your food cravings, metabolism and reduce need for caffiene and sugar during the day.

3.  Emotional  This is a major component.  How were you raised with food?  How did your family act around food?  Food is the most intimate thing that we share with each other in public.  We are taking in energy and sustenance and sharing life together at the table.  A craving for true intimacy is behind a lot of our emotional food  cravings.  The sugar and fat of ice cream makes you feel good and happy when what you are really missing is an intimate relationship and a positive partner.

How to Tell Difference Between Healthy Craving and Hurtful Cravings

Ask yourself 1 question no matter what craving is coming up or what situation you are in – “What food am I craving?  How do I want to feel?  What is the feeling that I want?  What is my body trying to create with that food craving?  Is it relaxation, to be more awake and focused, to just feel numb and space out after a crazy day, to distress?  How do you want to feel?  Do you want to feel taken care of , relaxed, safe, or cozy?

Once you’ve given the words to that, if you are in a relationship, it requires some vulnerability to say to your partner that you are having cravings for sugar right now, but what I really want is to cuddle up with you, talk with you, etc.

If you are single, how can you take care of yourself in this moment to give yourself the security to know that you are loveable and  give yourself the support that you need in that moment?

We have needs that need to be satisfied in other ways besides eating food.  The food is really just your body’s understanding of what will help you feel best and fastest, not what will help me get to the place that I truly desire to be in.

Stay curious and playful, non-judgmental about whatever you discover about yourself about your cravings and your habit.  Curiosity comes from a place of true interest and not knowing it all.  This will help you to dissolve those habits faster.”

It is up to you now as a widow to take care of yourself.

How To Empty Your Trash

Grief opens the door to many things and one of those is the hurts that are inflicted on us by others.  These are either hurts that are unintentional or intentional.  Hurts are a gift that allow us to learn more about ourselves and help us have the opportunity to clear out not only our most recent hurts, but hurts that we have buried deep inside perhaps for years and years.

So, how do we empty our trash cans of hurts?  Life coach Cecily MacArthur works with people on this very subject and makes these suggestions on how to forgive:

1.  Make a list of people who have hurt you and write out what they did.

2.  Choose to forgive.  It’s your choice for after all.  Holding onto unforgiveness toward them is not hurting them.  It’s hurting you.

3.  Release all thoughts of ill will towards that person.

4.  Pray for that person and feel compassion for them.

5.  Give yourself permission to let go of that pain.

6.  Leave it to God to take care of that person for God is just.

These steps of forgiveness will more than likely need to be done more than once.  Forgiveness is a process.  There will always be another layer to deal with.

Cecily talked about an Hawaiian practice called Ho’oponopono which is defined in the Hawaiian dictionary as “a mental cleansing”.  The process begins with prayer.  A statement of the problem is made and the transgression is discussed.  Each person is expected to work through the problems and not “hold fast to the fault”.

One or more periods of silence may be taken for reflection on the entanglement of emotions and injuries.  Then confession, repentance, and forgiveness takes place.  Everyone releases (kala) each other, letting go.  They cut off the past (‘oki), and together close the event with a ceremonial feast called pani.  At the close of Ho’oponopono the person forgiven is presented with a lei made from the hala tree whose fruits fill the air with a pleasant aroma like flowers.

In making the choice to forgive that person/s who has wronged you, you are emptying your smelly, stinky trash can and replacing it with the aroma of a sweet smelling lei.  If the person who has wounded you is no longer living or if the person you need to forgive is yourself, you can also go through this process by simply sitting in front of an empty chair and saying all that needs to be said so that healing can begin.

Forgiveness is the key to releasing yourself, cutting off the past, loving yourself and helping you get back to the beauty and sweet smelling aroma of who you are in Christ.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:31-32

“A forgiveness ought to be like a canceled note, torn in two and burned up, so it can never be shown against the man.”  Harriet Beecher Stowe

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”  Corrie Ten Boom

Psalm 32 in the Message version talks about how God forgives us and throws garlands of hosannas around our necks.  Have you emptied your trash?