Soul Care

Soul Care: Knowing Who You Are It is well with my soul care[Part I]
I’ve been a victim of identity theft several times in my life. Each time varied from petty theft of stolen checks and debit card information to a former tenant taking my name for her financial gain. At the time these incidents were stressful but in the bigger scheme they were nuisances—we lost some money and spent time in court. But the real identity theft occurred by abusers who stole my innocence, messed with my mind, beat me and raped my soul. I will spare the details but I became a repeat victim unable to stand up for myself.
Soul Care is vital for us to live a good life. There are tough dark times when we seem to barely survive. Then the good times come and we thrive. But there are so many ups and downs with variations of good and bad in our relationships. It hurts to love and it hurts not to love. We are created to love and be loved…but sometimes it is hard to trust.
1. Soul Care begins with knowing you are loved.
God pursues us…this is the good news. We love because He first loved us. I had a very hard time believing this…in my victim mind I couldn’t reconcile a loving God with abusive relationships. I couldn’t trust anymore yet I was still willing to risk loving. Thankfully God didn’t stop pursuing me and I was finally able to embrace His love.
Soul care is really listening to God as He repeatedly tells us to love ourselves. * Jesus said if you love me you will keep my commandments. He also said the greatest commandment is to love God and then to love others as you love yourselves—with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.
Clearly the essence of God’s character is love. Obedience is the best response to God‘s love. Let’s agree it is good for your soul to love. It is totally great to be loved.
The Bible is filled with examples of God’s far reaching love for us. God is active in His pursuit. He will never let go, never leave you nor forsake you. He will heal our broken hearts and crushed spirits.
One of the worst consequences of being abused was the deep inner soul damage. I could heal physically. I sought help but the scars remain. I failed miserably at caring for myself. I had no boundaries. I became highly sensitive and didn’t stand up for myself. To avoid conflict I became a people pleaser and strived to keep peace at any cost.
I determined there are people you can never trust. First I found real love, inner peace and joy in Jesus. I know I can trust my soul with God. God pursued me and restored my ability to trust and love. I learned through trials, suffering and grief but my love is fuller and richer.
When I opened myself to really receive God I got to know Him. We share a deep abiding relationship. God’s Word teaches me how to love.
I now know that soul care is not … selfish; it is not about being self-absorbed or self-indulgent.
Soul care is compassionate intelligence. When we care for ourselves we make better choices for healthy living and wellness. When you truly love and nurture yourself you can be your best.
2. Soul Care is cherishing who you are— You are His special treasure.
 We are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), and formed by God’s hands and breath (Genesis 2:7),
 We are accepted and loved. We are redeemed by His one and only Son (Matthew 26:28)
We are adopted into His family…precious daughters of the KING.
 We are secure in His love and our relationship with Jesus Christ.
 We can trust that God will work all things for our good. (Romans 8:28)
 We are free from condemnation. (Romans 8:31-39)
 We are God’s Masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

3. Soul Care is about fully recognizing our value and His special calling.
Think with me of all that God has done to bring you to this very moment in your life. God, in eternity past, chose you…He loves you!
The Bible says that long ago, before the very foundation of the world, God thought you up and chose you for his very own (Eph 1:4).
Long ago, before you were even born, God formed and numbered the days of your life (Ps 139:16).
Long ago God planned the path for your very own personal journey in life (Heb 12:1).
Long ago God decided and prepared good works that you would walk in (Eph 2:10).
 You are chosen and very significant in God’s creation. (John 15)
 You are God’s workmanship—His masterpiece created for good works. (Ephesians 3:12)
 You can be confident that God will complete the good work He started in you. (Philippians 1:6)
 You are complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)
He brought you forth into His world and set you on this life journey toward heaven.
Stay focused on the big picture of God’s eternal purposes.
Your calling as a woman–deeply involved in ministry
is a vital part of God’s eternal plan.

I am thankful God pursued me and drew me close to His heart. I am grateful God healed my wounded heart. God gave me a new identity. I am free to love and it is worth any risks. Only God’s love can complete us. Only God’s grace can change us.
May you experience the depth of His love
& truly love yourself as God loves you!
With all your HEART,
And with all your SOUL,
And with all your MIND,
And with all your STRENGTH.’

The second is this, ‘You shall LOVE your neighbor as you LOVE yourself.”

There is no other commandment greater than these.“

Matthew 22:37-39; Mark 12:29-31; Luke 10:28 & John 13-14-15; 1 John
Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12; 11:13; 13:2; Joshua 22:5

New Coaching Group: ENCOURAGEMENT

Encouragment Crabb Book


 verb \in-ˈkər-ij, -ˈkə-rij, en-\

: to make (someone) more determined, hopeful, or confident

: to make (something) more appealing or more likely to happen

: to make (someone) more likely to do something : to tell or advise (someone) to do something

a :  to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope :  hearten <she was encouraged to continue by her early success>

b :  to attempt to persuade :  urge <they encouraged him to go back to school>

2 :  to spur on :  stimulate <warm weather encourages plant growth>

3:  to give help or patronage to :  foster <government grants designed to encourage conservation>

Who doesn’t need some “encouragement”? We are living in tough times and no one is immune from some kind of personal or family challenges. So let’s build one another up with comfort, support and well chosen words. As we encourage we will receive blessings and powerful benefits. Let’s join together for a deeper fellowship as we search the Scriptures and apply the principles provided in this excellent resource. 

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV)

We will share more as we move forward in our focus on ENCOURAGEMENT

Carol church announcementHappy Birthday Ron!

Soul Care: Guarding Your Heart

Soul Care: Guarding Your Heart (Part II)

“Above all else, guard your heart with all vigilance,
for it is the wellspring of life out of which everything flows.” Proverbs 4:23IMG_7066

Everywhere I’ve been lately I keep hearing Justin Bieber’s song about “loving yourself.” My first thought was this is a relevant message for us all. It resonates with my current focus on soul care and the value of loving yourself. But what is Justin actually singing about? How many times have you listened to music even enjoyed the song and not even been consciously aware of the actual message? So I looked up the lyrics—sorry to say “I was disappointed.”

We definitely need a bold and courageous message to love ourselves. We get it from Jesus…

“Do this and you will live”—Jesus

What was Jesus referring to when he said this to the religious scholar and expert of the law? He was responding to his question: “What must I do to get eternal life? Jesus clearly taught that we need to love God first so that we are filled with His love, then we can love others as we love ourselves. Jesus said it and I believe in His message. The central message of the Bible is all about love: both receiving and giving from God’s overflow.

Each one of us has a responsibility to love by taking care of ourselves first. I am not implying we become selfish nor I am saying we don’t do for others. What I am talking about is way beyond the Belieber’s current hit. Quite simply we need to practice love God’s way. We need to breathe to live and love ourselves to really love well. For life preservation, it comes back to putting on your oxygen mask first before you try to help someone else.

Let’s breathe deep as we consider several ways to guard our hearts.


“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” NIV

1. The Heart Shield for personal wellness. Prioritize your values and make best choices daily. First focus on your overall health: what you choose to eat and drink; how you move and rest and much more for optimal well being. Seriously consider are you at your optimal well being—are you living a balanced life?

How satisfied are you with your life?
You say you don’t really indulge in bad habits but you feel lousy when you settle for less.
You say you want to maintain a healthy weight but you can’t seem to resist… you are either under or over nourished. Are you eating too much or not enough of the right food/drink choices?
You say you really need a break but you keep taking on more requests, projects, tasks or work.
You say you really want to exercise more but somehow you just aren’t consistent.
You are sleep deprived…for whatever reasons just can’t seem to get enough quality rest.
You know you are stressed but it is due to people or things out of your control.
On a scale of one to ten how are you? _____

“Start each day with a commitment for your own personal best
and follow through, for nobody else can do it for you.”

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. (NKJV)

Even if we desire to follow God’s commandment to love; we must guard our hearts and love one another with boundaries. “We must acknowledge that we are included in the ‘Love One Another.” ― Peggi Speers

2. The Heart Shield for Healthy Relationships. We all need good positive people in our lives—whether it is family or friends. We are designed to be connected in community to share life together. To love ourselves we need boundaries.

Uphold a shield of strong healthy BOUNDARIES for all your relationships. No matter how good a person you are; the reality is there are high maintenance people—whether your boss, co-worker, a family member or friend. Remember broken people hurt, take advantage and wound even unknowingly. Watch out for “unsafe” people who literally drain your reserves. Shield yourself from selfish demands and expectations. Shield yourself from negativity. Remember no one can fully satisfy another’s person’s needs.

How satisfied are you with your relationships?
You feel it is the right thing to do by giving in continually to a significant other?
You say you can’t stand being around a certain person but you keep agreeing to hang out together.
You avoid conflict and seek peace at any cost. Is it there someone in your life that you tolerate who is a bully or control freak? Do you put up with offensive rude behavior?
You say you can’t take any more negativity but you fail to shield yourself and you remain stuck.

The boundary of the powerful “NO.” Saying no guilt free is very freeing.

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage, the determination, pleasantly and unapologetically to say ‘no’ to other things and the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside. The energy of the best is often lost in the good.”-Stephen Covey

If you never say no, what is your “yes” worth? Don’t let the energy of the ‘good’ keep you from ‘God’s best’. Choose the best and let go of the rest…

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. NLT

3. Put on a Shield of Empowerment. What do you really want in life? Do you know what you believe and do you live true to your values? What are you passionate about doing? Are you living your life purpose? Do you have a clear life plan with SMART goals? Don’t allow yourself to get sidetracked by meeting other’s expectations and neglecting your own. Be open to change and do something different. Practice self-compassion: acknowledge you need help, communicate your needs and ask for support.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock,
in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:2

If you aren’t living your best there are alternative options: just make one positive change to get started. Consider a wellness inventory, life satisfaction assessment or lifestyle coaching—contact me for a free consultation.

In summary guard your heart with these shields:
Safeguard your mind and body—value your personal wellness.
Protect yourself from unhealthy relationships—love yourself.
Empower yourself through God’s Spirit—live your heart’s desires and love your life!

Next in Soul Care: Inner Gardening for Your Soul (Part III)

The Most Important Commandment – Luke 10
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
27 The man answered, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”

The Power of ONE Word Reminders


What do you need most in your life right now? It is a question I ask myself and my clients often. Do you want to be healthier? Is your biggest challenge with a relationship within your family or at work? For whatever reason, I’ve been confronted several times this week with conflicts—from people’s expectations to struggling with trying to please people to my own detriment.

Several months ago I gave my small group a challenge to persevere as we experimented with a new coaching process I developed called “Simplify to Satisfy*.” The inspiration was from Hebrews 10. Little did I realize at the time how much I needed to pay attention to the WORD to persevere…

Every December, I seek the Lord for a guiding life verse for the New Year. I ask God for “ONE WORD*” as a theme for the new season. I’ve been memorizing Bible promises for over 35 years but along the way I began focusing on ONE WORD with Scriptures to bless me with what I need most from God. This year God led me to James 1:2-4, 12: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Aha! This verse gripped me because last year my ONE WORD focus was completion with the Bible promise from Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

But wait a minute, I definitely want more joy in my life but I don’t want any more trials– enduring suffering has been a life long past time. Enough is enough! I would prefer to focus on “joy” and experience “love sweet love.” As I searched the Scriptures and prayed it became very clear that the answer to what I needed most was to persevere.

To persevere in my relationships…yes I value my FAMILY & friends.
To persevere in my work…yes I enjoy coaching, teaching and ministries.
To persevere in my writing…yes I want to complete several projects.
To persevere in my growth…yes I want God to develop my character.
Oh yes, I desire to lack in nothing and be complete in Christ!

The hardest part of character refinement is the chiseling brought on by fiery trials with people—especially those you love and trust. The WORD tells me it is a work that will continue until the day Christ Jesus returns. The WORD reminds me to remain steadfast, as I persevere in faith.

So this week was no different…there was relief from pain, there were unexpected problems and there was peace in spite of criticism. There is deep abiding joy as I am a work in progress with many unfinished projects.

God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them. We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. C.S. Lewis

“Blessed is the person who remains steadfast and perseveres under trial, for when she has stood the test she will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12

If you would like more information about the ONE WORD process or Simplify 2 Satisfy send me an e-mail: or connect by Facebook

Although I write daily either by prayer journaling, preparing sermons or coaching workshops as well as all the little communications via text/e-mail—it is not enough. I am compelled to consistently share some WORD of encouragement. Today I am striving to complete my simple monthly goal to blog. Right now I am determined to complete this blog as it is the 12th day of the month. I’ve started it several times, changed my mind on the topic, edited and deleted numerous times. So here goes…this is ONE WORD for the answer to what I need most. 2-12-16


Imperfect Prayers: Spirit of Hope

How I desire to be infused with a spirit of hope on this bleak gray overcast chilly winter morning. After another fitful night without restorative sleep there is no comfort for my pain. Why do I wake up in anguish? Oh how I struggle with the winter blues—Lord bless me with your healing and graciously fill me with the light of your presence.
Father-God I’m trying not to let the troubles of those I love keep me in despair. I fear for my children, my family and friends. As I listen to their concerns, receive multiple prayer requests, scan the headlines, I confess my worries about the evil oppression that surrounds us. I must look away from my weakness and let go of the burdens. I will focus my thoughts on your promises* to deliver us from this world. I seek you early as I renew my mind continually in your Word. Transform me from the inside out so that I might live in peace with hope.
Although I feel vulnerable in today’s desperation I trust it will not be like this always. There is hope even in the darkness. The faithfulness of God’s love continually returns as tender mercies with every prayer. I could not live without His comfort and strength.
There is relief for my soul—the present discouragement fades as I pray:
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.” Psalm 42:5 NASB
“The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” Lamentations 3:22-24 (NLT)

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38
There is nothing that can defeat the rising of hope. There is nothing that can separate us from His love and from one another. I will keep the faith and keep my hope in God.

1.12.16 – I made a new year’s commitment to blog again after a grief recovery hiatus. Although all I can offer for now are bits and pieces of my brokenness; I will do my best to imperfectly blog every 12th day of each month in 2016.


OVERCOME by Renewing Your Mind

Romans 12:2

I need victory over my thoughts every day…I wake up and know immediately I am empty. Sometimes I get a great start and then boom! I am bombarded with bad news or stressors. I fight the battle of allowing circumstances or people to drain my energy and take away my power. I don’t want to let fears or worries entangle me. Most of the time, it isn’t even about me—it is about precious people I love—their pain and struggles. Or it is broken people behaving immaturely or spewing their emotional trash.

Do you have problems controlling your thoughts? Perhaps you struggle with negative, ungodly thoughts. It is vital not to carry the burdens, nor to give in to the suffering in this world. What you think determines where you end up in life, so it’s vital that you learn to master your mind. But how do you overcome the hurts in this life?

Time after time, I have to learn to be content by allowing God to “transform my focus.” I know I need “to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 If I give in to my troubles then I am even weaker. If I choose to focus on God’s mercy and power then I gain strength. If I ask for wisdom He is more than willing to give it to me generously.

So I pray with my gut-wrenching cries…Lord help me—God have mercy on us! Especially when we feel abandoned and the difficulties seem to multiply. Father I know you are present…let my dear friend experience your love, your compassion and your love. Give us wisdom to make the best choices.

Oh Lord grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
the courage to change the things we can and your wisdom to know the difference.

Hear our prayers and more importantly open our minds that we may hear your answers.

How many times have I patiently listened, counseled or coached someone who needed to vent but who really needed to receive God’s gracious favor. What can you say or do when someone is unable to experience God? All I know to do is to intercede and pray for them. All I know is to remember WHO God is and what He has done for all of us.

There is great power in listening to God through His WORD. When the hidden scripts of the past or the insidious lies creep in it is time to stop and transform your focus. First you have to come to an awareness of what you are proclaiming. Is it truth? Or is it an accusation, condemnation or a lie? Do you know the truth? Can you change the circumstances? Possibly or maybe not; but you can change your thought patterns. If it is a conviction from God’s Spirit then pay attention. Admit your weakness, confess your bad attitude or your transgression. Do you need to forgive or be forgiven? Do you need to release you anger and guard your reactions? Do you need to let go of your self-pity and loathing? Stop blaming and take personal responsibility in God’s strength.

If you’ve done something wrong, the key is to turn away from the temptation and by God’s grace do whatever it takes to make it right. Let us turn to the Bible which clearly reveals the vital importance of allowing God to control our thoughts and to transform our focus.

This is a spiritual exercise that I have used to renew my mind:

1.  “Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously. My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:6-10

2. Be aware of your “Mistaken Thinking”: deceptions, lies, hidden messages, life scripts

“You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God.” Matthew 22:29

3. Search God’s Word for TRUTH: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” John 8

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16,17

4. Identify the Stronghold: What is keeping you from trusting God, confess the lie, repent and turn away from whatever it is…

5. The TRUTH: what does God’s Word say regarding this…what is the truth?
“We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.  We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Example: Why should I fear days of adversity or times of trouble?

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? Psalm 27:1-3

He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them. Psalm 145:18-20

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:9-11

Your turn: What “stinkin thinkin” is holding you captive?
Let God renew your mind with His truth…

As the Holy Spirit empowers us… we can set our minds on the things above, not on the things of this earth. Colossians 3:1-3 To have the mind of Christ means that we share His values and begin to think like Him 2 Corinthians 2:16 We can be renewed in the likeness of God as we hold our mind captive to His Word and surrender our will over to God.

We must prepare by being alert

“Sow a thought, reap an action;

 Sow an action, reap a habit;

Sow a habit, reap a destiny.”

1 Peter 1:13

Seasons of Overcoming: Purification of Grief?

Jesus_117It’s February, a time of transition rich with ancient symbolism, refining elements of nature and seasonal celebrations. There are many good reasons to celebrate love, new life, historical traditions and international tributes. Currently some are happy about the Super Bowl outcome while others cheer on the Winter Olympic winners! The word February comes from Latin origins meaning to “purify” or “expiate”. The ancient Romans recognized it as a season of purification—where festivities were held to reestablish a renewed focus on righteous living. Winter rains, snow and ice provide a cleansing with anticipation for renewal as we wait with hope for spring.

This is my February story about how the purifying fire of grief changed my family and my life.

It was not an ordinary February day—no not in any way. After a restless night of fitful sleep combined with prayers and tears I was drained. Thankfully I had previously arranged to redeem a massage (an unusual but very special Valentine’s gift from my husband). On my way home, I stopped and purchased some pretty primroses and planted them in spite of the frigid weather. I’ve always found gardening to ease my soul. I warmed up in front of the television, when a special news alert came on announcing that two bodies were found nearby with no further details available. Anxiously I searched the internet for further information and then waited for the evening news.

Alone in the darkness I heard a loud knock at my front door. Who could it be? I wasn’t expecting anyone and already knew my husband planned to work late. When I opened the door and they asked if I was Carol Smith my heart broke with anxious thoughts of why they were at my home. “Did I know Stephen Smith?” the detective asked. “Yes, I am his Mother” and then I immediately asked “Is he okay?” Immediately I broke down in tears because my worst fears were about to unravel as they asked to come in and talk with me. “No! No!” I cried, “Please tell me it isn’t true.” I knew it was true as I was silenced in shock. They were compassionate and patient. I gasped for God. This was absolutely the worst tragedy…

February 21st, the day life stopped. My beloved son Stephen was found dead a short distance from our home. The last time I saw him, he made me breakfast and his last words were: “I love you Mom.” He seemed upbeat as he left that morning but he did not come home. The next time I saw him he was cold and absent from his body. His cause of death: heroin overdose. Stephen suffered from a broken soul: anxious, deeply depressed from so many injuries and personal losses. He became addicted to anything that would ease his pain. I’ll never forget picking him up in a small but heavy box…placing his ashes in the back seat for the drive home from the mortuary.

So many threats and unknown attempts finally culminated in his death—ruled accidental but was it his final suicidal fulfillment of his desire to escape this troubled world? Shame, guilt, fear and worry can overcome the best of us. Judge not for you know not the full story—especially if you have never experienced mental illness, brain injury, serious diagnosis and addiction in your own family. We tried everything to get him help: unceasing prayer, faith and hope that he would be healed. We were diligent with interventions, trips to the emergency rooms, psychiatry, prescriptions, temporary detoxifications, rehabilitation all ineffective fixes. We felt helpless as all our son’s attempts to get help failed. We observed his desperate cries of self-condemnation; we witnessed his tormented anger at God. We endured many relentless days and nights of fear. We leaned onto our faith in a loving merciful God. We sought help for ourselves through our church, Al-Anon and professional counseling. We tried detachment with love. Nothing we could do would fill the emptiness of his soul. He knew we loved him but it was not enough. Only God could save him.

Addiction is a chronic and deadly disease that affects everyone in the family. It’s been a generational curse in my heritage. Everyone in its path is l victimized by the crisis and consequences of it’s destruction.  We felt helpless but we refused to give up hope. Stephen felt he was permanently damaged unable to climb out of the depression. He expressed over and over how he hated being an addict. He could not control the unceasing drive to ease his chronic pain brought on by brain damage, multiple injuries and worse yet the withdrawals. Stephen warned us he was giving up just two more days before he was scheduled for another rehab.

Stephen will always be a part of us. He is constantly in my thoughts. I get flashes of him as I see young skateboarders or bicyclists along the road. Relief comes just as quickly as grief grips. Memories can be painfully haunting or sweet and sober. I cry and immediately pray “help me Jesus” over and over. God gives comfort and renewed strength. Thankfully my husband and I have drawn even closer through our faith and love. We share a mutual compassionate understanding as we mourn the excruciating loss of our “one flesh.”

What anguish to lose anyone you love; we are not designed for death or separation. No matter how it happens, you can never prepare for grief—especially when devastating losses keep coming. What could be worse than sudden death of my husband’s baby sister Christina or the mysterious disappearance of my youngest sister Michele—never to be found?

Over the years, many of our closest relatives passed away in winter. But in February—the designated month of purification I lost my Mother and many years later my Father and now my youngest son. We are weary from the seemingly endless adversities but I vow not to give in. Nothing can separate us from God and His love.

What do you do to get through grief? Grief penetrates very deeply. My husband and I grieve very differently. Ron became more active in his volunteering; I withdrew and needed time to process with God alone. I needed to pray, read, research and write. As a couple we listened intently, cried and comforted one another with patience. We received loving support. We found solace in solitude. There were moments when I wanted to end the suffering, go to sleep and join my loved one in peace. But for us it was important to give in any way we could for in serving we experienced healing relief.

Each day, I am challenged to choose between gratitude or grievance? Will I focus on my pain and suffering or will I trust and seek God for overcoming in Christ?

Letting go of suffering is a continual surrender especially when there is a very painful ending. Grief is awfully deep as it fiercely strips every layer of your sanity and sensibility. Too many “if only;” “could of;” or “should have’s”—or even worse the regrets of Why’s with no answers!

One year later, I survive but not without struggle but I will keep holding on. Grief is not necessarily something you overcome…there is no closure until Jesus comes and brings an end to all death. Revelation 21-22

There is healing as we trust in God’s promises especially Romans 8:31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)

37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“And they overcame…because of the blood of the Lamb

and because of the word of their testimony,

and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” 

Revelation 12:11 NASB

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