Posts Tagged ‘God’

New Book Giveaway

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick note to let you know that today is the last day of my book giveaway on goodreads.  I’m excited for you to read the new book as it has some neat contributions – my 9 year old son wrote some insights, my 7 year old daughter illustrated the book, and a friend’s eulogy to Jim is included in the book.  It is entitled When Miracles Aren’t Enough: The Lessons Tragedy Taught Me.  It has been well received and I’m excited to be giving away 20 books.  Please share the link as well with your friends.  Thanks so much!  Erica

Here is the link to enter the giveaway (again make sure you do it by the end of today – Friday March 4th): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27314454-when-miracles-aren-t-enough

 

The Widow’s Dream

It finally happened – the dream that all the widow books said would come.  The presence that others told me about that happens after a spouse dies.  It has been just over 2 months since Jim passed away.  As he was dying, I asked him to send me a sign letting me know he was alright and he delivered the next day.  I haven’t had that connection since.  Until the other night.  I don’t typically remember my dreams and I was so grateful that this one woke me, made me pause, and forced me to give thanks that Jim is well, hanging out with Jesus and doing things physically he hasn’t been able to do in years.  I focus on those things.  They are what make the sadness, pain, and more sadness bearable.

The dream wasn’t much, but the reminder was grand.  Jim was in a bed.  It was a recollection of the night he passed, except it wasn’t his bed and it wasn’t his bedroom.  Still, I knew he was dying and I was physically lying next to him in the bed.  Then the life passed out of him.  Again, a recollection of what was.  He was present in this space, although he was physically struggling and far off in a way too, and then he was not in his body anymore.  The body was only a shell of the essence of Jim.  That was so evident in real life.  My first experience with something so intimate as a life passing before my eyes and that same experience happened in the dream.

Then in the dream, there was the pause.  This was the recollection of reality too.  In real life I remember staring at Jim hard, trying to process what had happened even though I knew what had happened and then crying out “Lazarus, get up”  – I urged Jim to defy all odds and for his eyes to pop open and his body to revive itself.  For Jim to return.  This of course did not happen in real life, but I sat next to Jim’s body and his bed for quite some time, hoping that it would.

In my dream, this same scene played out, minus the words.  There was Jim’s body and my living presence looking at him and then making slow-motion movements walking around the room, trying to process what had happened.  In the dream, there was that pause.  The confusion.  And, then Jim sat up in the bed and then Jim stood up next to the bed.  I looked at him.  He looked at me.  We smiled at one another.  I knew.  He knew.  He was moving on.  He was about to walk out of that room.  Two things struck me: Jim smiled and Jim walked – two things that didn’t happen much, if at all, during his last months here.

And then in the dream, Jim walked.  He was still in the room when I woke up.  He was still smiling at me when my eyes opened into this reality.  I paused, reflecting on the gift just given to me.  I reflected on what I already knew, but what was graciously given to me in a dream: a reminder that Jim is well.  Jim is walking, smiling, and whole again.

And then, just in case I didn’t get it, after I got out of the bed and headed into the bathroom to get ready for the day, I paused at a bureau.  As I opened the doors, a photo fell off the top shelf and hit my feet.  It was a frame divided into 3 parts: one with Jim and our daughter, one photo with Jim and our son, and one photo with Jim and me.  Jim is there with each one of us and that in and of itself is worth celebrating.

The Intensive Care Unit, The Peace, The Death of One Man and The Sparing of Another, and The Crocus

Signs of life in the Denver Desert

Signs of life in the Denver Desert (Photo credit: mandymooo)

Another hospital stay.  My sweet husband, lungs partially collapsed.  Again.  My sweet husband, unable to move his body on his own, talk, or breathe without technology.  Five days into the stay, things were not going well.  I had thought Jim would have been home by now, but his lung would not cooperate.  On this fifth day, something was different.  Jim looked deflated, sad, pale, and checked out.  His eyes were wide-eyed, crazed in a way, but in general, he was so out of it.  I began to worry, once again starting to think about our children and whether I was handling things alright.  Six years into this health hell, you would think I would have many things figured out, but of course, I do not.  Curveballs are constantly thrown our way.  Confusion about “why” is commonplace.  Dark thoughts creep in often enough.

On this fifth day, I had a phone message waiting on my cell phone.  When I had the opportunity, I listened.  It was a nice message, one from a minister at church who said he was thinking about Jim and me during this period of waiting.  Our years-in-waiting period.  As I listened more, it became evident that he did not know Jim was in the hospital.  I called him back and although it was late in the day, he picked up the phone.  I explained what was happening while holding back tears.  Still, I am sure he could hear it in my voice and asked if he could visit that night.

When he arrived, the room instantly calmed.  His broad smile stimulated a smile on Jim’s face.  His kind words soaked over us both and I felt a peace come over the room.  He spoke of the advent service at the church just hours prior and the reminder that Jesus is the light that came in the darkness.  He reminded us that God is present even in the desert, that rebirth is a promise, and that hope and faith will get you far.

As the minister was speaking, I could hear another patient’s monitor going off.  I looked up at the screen which he shared with Jim and I could see the patient’s heart rate, oxygen levels, and other vital statistics.  I knew this other patient was in trouble.  He had been struggling for several hours.  Then, the  beeping would stop.  The minister continued.  A few minutes later, I could faintly hear the “code blue” in the background.  I was not sure if the minister or Jim were aware.  We continued praying, talking, and peace was in the room with us.  Again, the patient’s vitals came and went and then again several minutes later the “code blue” alarm.  This continued back and forth as our visit went on.  I said nothing out loud, but prayed silently for the patient.  I didn’t want to cause anxiety in Jim, but wondered if he knew what was happening.  The monitors changed again, but this time, the flatline did not bounce back to the normal up and down of an EKG.  It stayed flat.  The numbers went to zero and my heart sank.

A few things struck me.  First, there was a peace in Jim’s room regardless of the stirring going on around us.  Second, I was struck that in one room a patient died and in my room, my husband was spared.  Third, I was reminded that this was the second time this event happened – a death in the ICU directly in the room next to my husband’s room (on the hospital visit prior to this one).  Fourth, I am left to ponder the “why” of it all.

I do not pretend that I will ever understand this, but I do know there is not a coincidence in these events.  Instead, I take these signs as a message from God that He is present, He is all-powerful, and that His will is it.  There must be a plan and ultimately good to come from Jim’s story, presence, and life.  He suffers so, but his perseverance is inspiring.  Jim teaches me much, reminds me of so many blessings we have, and helps us focus on that which is important in life.

The minister read to us a passage from Isaiah 35: 1-2 (NIV), that is telling:

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.

“God Is” in Times of Trouble

English: Robin Roberts in J. Crew Collection a...

English: Robin Roberts in J. Crew Collection at The Heart Truth’s Red Dress Collection 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Light of God surrounds me.

The Love of God enfolds me.

The Power of God protects me.

The Presence of God watches over me.

Wherever I am, God is.

This is the prayer that I read over and over again from Robin Roberts of Good Morning America fame.  She was interviewed recently and apparently had been asked about this prayer so often they reprinted it in the article.  I understand why.  It is powerful.  It is beautiful.  It is simple.  And, it touches the important highlights.

This comforting prayer now lives on my desk and I see it daily.  I am reminded of the strength and perseverance of the woman who introduced it to me.  Robin Roberts fought her own health battles and similar to the health battle that my husband is tackling, she often didn’t know what tomorrow would bring or how many tomorrows were left.

This comforting prayer reminds me that how you choose to see your world is your choice to make.  During troubled times, you can concentrate on the good that is present.  You can decide to be grateful for the good that surrounds you.  Even though adversity may be on your doorstep, you can look past it or through it and see the light that is present.

During troubled times, God provides comfort.  God sends people during troubled times to help and provide comfort directly.  God sends signs and messages of better days ahead.  All you need to do is pay attention and to be open to them.

Remember, regardless of what is happening in your life, both good and bad, during glorious times and times of trouble, God is.

Positive Thinking from the Nigerian Wedding

English: Women at a Nigerian traditional coron...

English: Women at a Nigerian traditional coronation ceremony. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A wedding. A future. Positive Thinking “from this day forth.” And so it was as Jim (my husband), our nurse, and I attended a wedding. And what a lovely wedding it was full of Nigerian headdresses, beautiful colorful dresses and African garb. Toward the end of the ceremony there was a full blown out celebratory drum dance and signing with people dancing, singing loudly, and greeting the newly married couple. It was happy, joyous, and a reminder that when you celebrate something, you should CELEBRATE it!

 
The ceremony itself was interesting for all these reasons and then some. People were coming and going throughout the entire ceremony, and people were talking about various things throughout the entire ceremony, excited to see one another and asking everyday questions. At times I was so distracted overhearing a conversation or watching someone else enter the church, that I had to shake myself and focus on the preacher and what he was saying.

 
And how lovely the message. The positive thinking. The reminders of what it means from a biblical stance to be husband and wife. Then the gratitude. Outward praise for life, love, God, and health. The blessing to be mindful of your spouse and to above all, make him or her happy. “You will have a good marriage if you love your wife,” the preacher said over and over again. “It is that simple.”

 
And really, shouldn’t it be? Expressions of love will change over time. Maybe at first love is expressed in grandiose ways with presents and surprise events, but as the marriage matures, love is expressed in more mundane ways, but still so important – the groceries are picked up, you come home on time, you watch the kids so your spouse can do something with friends, etc. As challenges inevitably come, love is expressed by listening, by physically caring and tending to your spouse’s needs, and by putting things you want to do on hold so the other person can heal.

 
And as the preacher continued to tell his wisdom and read passages from the bible, I thought “healing comes from so many sources – romance, love, friendship”. This is a reminder to make positive thinking a part of your marriage, your health, your future.

 

The preacher reminded everyone throughout the ceremony that there is much to be thankful for, that gratitude will get you far. He ended the service in part by asking for bright futures for the couple and for all in attendance, and one of the requests and prayers was for a long and healthy life. Health – definitely something for which we should be grateful for – it can be taken away too quickly. Count your blessings and never forget that health is a big one.   Amen!

Warriors of all Sorts, Come Calling

Here is another excerpt from my soon-to-be-released book Miracles for Daddy.  Please check out the launch page for the book at http://www.miraclesfordaddy.com and see all the gifts and prizes that will be available with the purchase of the book on Monday, Dec 17th!

“The next day, Monique returned to Michigan, and for the first time since Annalise’s birth, we were alone as a family. It was nice, but taxing, trying to care for everyone and worrying about Jim at the same time. Braxton seemed to be looking at Jim more often, studying his daddy’s moves. “Daddy,” Braxton pleaded one afternoon, “play knights and dragon with me. You can be the dragon.” Jim smiled and tried his best, but it was evident his heart was not there. He was fighting off sleep and could barely move his arms, let alone his whole body to play a dragon. “Come on, Daddy! You need to blow fire on me!”

Knight Riding into Joust Renaissance Faire 2011

Knight Riding into Joust Renaissance Faire 2011 (Photo credit: chris favero)

 In the other room, I called after Braxton, “Hey, Braxton, why don’t you come in the other room and we can play warrior. I have the swords.”

 “No, Mom,” Braxton replied. “I want to play with Daddy.”

 “I know, sweetie, but Daddy needs to rest.”

 Braxton sulked and came into the other room. “You can’t play. You have Annalise.” He was so frustrated.

 I tried to explain to him how Daddy was so sick and that the sleep allowed his body to fight the illness. I could see Braxton’s body perk up slightly. “Do you understand, sweetie?” I asked.

 “I do!” Braxton was so proud of himself. “Mom, it’s good that Daddy has both warriors and knights inside his body.”

 Now, I was the one confused. “What do you mean, Braxton?”

 Braxton looked at me asking, “What is wrong with you, Mom?” He had an “everyone knows why” look. After a pause, he replied, “Because warriors and knights fight differently. They have different things. The warriors use bows and arrows and the knights use swords and jousts. Then they can pweeh, pweeh, pweeh from all directions and get the Lyme. The warriors and the knights are attacking Daddy’s Lyme. When Daddy sleeps, they go crazy. Pweeh, pweeh, pweeh!” Braxton moved his body in combat mode, showing how the knights and warriors operate.

 Several weeks went by and Braxton never mentioned the warriors and knights again. Then, out of the blue, when I was putting him to bed for the night, he made a declaration, “You know, the longer Daddy sleeps, the sooner the Lyme will go away. It is good there are knights and warriors in there going after the Lyme—the bad guys never win. They wear black—that’s how you know they are bad.”

 “So they are killing the bacteria?” I asked.

  “Yes, isn’t that great?” Braxton asked.

 “Absolutely,” I replied. “We need all the warriors and knights we can get fighting for Daddy. Now time for bed.” As I kissed Braxton goodnight, I prayed to the highest Warrior I knew, “Please, God, kill all the bad bacteria and cure Jim. My children need their Daddy.”

God-Intended Detours

I just finished listening to a sermon by Joel Osteen.  One thing that he said during the sermon really resonated with me.  He made the comment that sometimes detours appear in our journey that seem to lead us away from where we want to be, but that these detours often provide you with valuable insight.  If you just trust that God is in control and release your desire to micromanage your own life, then amazing things can start to happen.  What might be perceived as a stumbling block by you could really be a building block leading to success.

The tricky part becomes when to recognize a detour as an opportunity rather than using the detour as a distraction and finding yourself unable to move on from here.  I think Joel Osteen would say, “Let it go, don’t worry too much about it.  Don’t try to overanalyze it.  Trust God.”  I see the value of this – at some point, you go need to release things.  You may have tried everything you know to do and now it may be a matter of trusting things will work out as they  should.  I also see the value of paying attention to what may be waiting for you at that detour.  For example, is there a stranger who is giving you valuable advice?  Not acting on the advice may get you stuck at your detour rather than allowing it to serve as the pit stop it was intended to be.   This needs to be the time when you follow your gut instincts.  These instincts may also be God at work, helping propel you down the right road, leading you to success.

Rather than hissing at the detours in your journey, greet them as a gift and pay attention to what God has intended you to learn from this temporary stop.  This attitude can help turn your journey during troubled times much more enjoyable as you take and use the gem you are learning along the way.

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