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.

BEYOND OUR NORMAL STRENGTH: How to Give Comfort

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”.

http://www.mbcchurch.com/index.php/media/index.php?option=com_preachit&tmpl=component&id=193:beyond-our-normal-strength&view=videopopup

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?

2 Curriculums for a Widow to do Alone or for a Group for Widows

For those widows who are interested in starting a widow’s group, there is a curriculum that just came out last year by a christian widow named Julie Yarbrough. It contains  a DVD with segments to be played for each of the 8 lessons plus a leader’s guide and a participant book. Here are some links about it and a link where you can purchase it.
cover

Christian widow Miriam Neff also has a curriculum for widows that contains a DVD with segments to be play for each of the 5 lessons along with a leader’s guide and a journal for each of the participants to work in after each lesson.  Here is the link where you can view segments from the DVD as well as purchase that curriculum for either yourself or to be used in a group.

A Road Map Out From Grief

Yesterday I read an excellent blog called A Widow’s Might written by Kit Hinkle that I would like to share with you today.  Kit has been widowed 5 years and has 4 sons ages 11-17. 

A Road Map Out From Grief

by Kit on February 18, 2013

by Kit Hinkle

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

1 Thessalonians 4:13

Do you ever feel like you wish someone would just hand you a roadmap and tell you how long this journey out of sorrow is supposed to take?

The world does, and as usual, the world falls short. After all, hasn’t it fallen short ever since Adam and Eve bit that apple?

Sisters, bear with me here, because I’m going to get a bit analytical here on what the intellectuals of the world have borne out on theories of human behavior response for grieving. Have you ever heard of the Kubler-Ross stages of grief? As a model well-worn by psychologists around the world, it has gained acceptance as the most valid, relevant model for each and every one of us humans. It basically goes like this—when a person is facing loss, they go through stages like so: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then acceptance.

I’ve always just shrugged my shoulders and went along with this model, simply because it shows up everywhere—from grief counseling articles to mainstream media. If the world repeats it, then it must be right…. Right?

I suppose it’s easy to think so, until you walk through loss yourself and somehow, these stages of grief don’t quite fit.

Last week, my teenager showed me the following video his AP Psychology teacher had the class watch on the Kubler-Ross model. Please accept my apologies for the “mother-bleep”’s in it. Leave it to public schools to teach with videos that have to bleep out words in order to convey anger. I thought about finding something else, but since it’s the one shown that got my attention, I thought you’d want to see it.

quicksand

Beyond the bleeping, I simply tried to enjoy the comedic nature of the giraffe caught in quicksand, following its stages from denial to acceptance. Until it dawned on me—this doesn’t really model how I grieved at all!!!

And then something else dawned on me—through this ministry I witness some widows moving past their grief, ready for the next purpose in life, while others get stuck far longer in anger or depression. Why is that? Is it because they loved their husband more or the loss was worse? I don’t think so. I was one in that group of widows who seemed to emerge rather quickly from grief with more hope, more vigor for the future. And it’s not that I didn’t love my husband. If you could have seen the love Tom had for me—the level of romance and adoration in our marriage, you would not doubt that my loss is genuine. In fact, after hearing so many stories from the readers of these blogs, I’m convinced that there is little connection between the level of adoration or bond between a couple and the recovery process when one of them dies.

So by rejecting Kubler-Ross’s model, and going against what so many accept, am I mistaken? After all, wasn’t Ms. Kubler-Ross a highly decorated thinker who won notoriety as one of the initiators of hospice care? I certainly don’t mean disrespect to someone who has accomplished so much!

On the other hand, as soon as we start to assume someone is above reproach—their theories too perfect to be questioned, we’re putting our faith in someone other than God.

And as it turns out, that’s exactly what Ms. Kubler-Ross did in her lifetime. By all accounts I researched (including Wikipedia.com and biography.com), I could not find any indication that she included our Creator, Jesus Christ, in her ideas about death, dying, and loss.

As a matter of fact,  I discovered she

“became increasingly interested in the issues of life after death, spirit guides, and spirit channeling, which was met with skepticism and scorn by her peers in the medical and psychiatric circles.

For one who wrote so extensively on dying and death, Kübler-Ross’s transition from this life was not a smooth one. She retired to Arizona after series of strokes in 1995 left her partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair. “I am like a plane that has left the gate and not taken off,” she said, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times. “I would rather go back to the gate or fly away.” (biography.com)

I got thinking—that’s not acceptance of the quicksand, is it? There is something that Kubler-Ross was missing in her model. Hope.

According to Rapidnet.com, “when incapacitated by a series of strokes in 1995, she did nothing but sit at home in Arizona “smoking cigarettes, watching TV, and waiting to die” (Dr. Hugh Pyle, 8/22/97, Sword). She said: ‘I don’t give a hoot about the afterlife, reincarnation, or anything. I’m finished, and I’m not coming back.’”

That makes me so sad! Is this all she believed there is? No afterlife? No wonder her stages of grief fall empty.

Truth is, when Kubler-Ross came up with her model, she did so without hope. And the world thinkers, who live without hope, gladly accepted her model as valid.

But how about entering the redeeming power of Christ into the model? Because ladies, that’s what seems to make the difference in whether grief leads to healing and a new life, or whether someone gets stuck in despair.

As I researched further, I learned that Christian counselors are beginning to take note of what’s missing from the Kubler-Ross model and improve on it, for the sake of their clients.

Here is how Bob Kellemen, Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, rewrites the model for grieving based on the redeeming power of Christ (http://www.rpmministries.org/2010/07/a-biblical-model-of-grieving/):

BiblicalStagesofGrief

This is so eye opening to me that all I can do is reflect back to what Paul said to the Thessalonians: But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

Sisters, are you processing your loss in the hope of Christ? Can you see the difference between grieving in the knowledge that Christ offers everlasting life, and that this life, with all it’s failings and sufferings, is not our eternal home? That while you live out this one and only life on earth, suffering or not, you might as well live it out with purpose, because grieving like those with no hope not only makes you miserable, but keeps you from using whatever time you have left on this planet to make an impact that will last an eternity!

My final thoughts on the founder of the Kubler-Ross model. It’s one thing for an intellectual academic like Kubler-Ross to spend her career studying others going through loss. But when she herself finally had to deal with her impending death, she wasn’t looking forward to her eternal life. Rather, the lost soul sat in despair, unable to accept her predicament of neither having died yet nor having her old life back. How tragic and unnecessary! This isn’t a criticism of her personally—more a compassionate observation of someone who suffered because the hope of Christ never reached her heart.

Has it reached yours? Sisters, I offer to you that if you have never understood how it is that Christ redeems through His act on the cross and how that changes everything for your healing process, I invite you to use the contact form at the top and let us know you’d like us to contact you and pray with you.

Blessings on your healing journey.

Kit