It’s All Too Much!

This has been a season of deep loss for me. Usually the seasons only last for a while before they turn to the next season. However, this season, this season of loss seems to be unending. Their names echo through my heart and soul: Maggie, Justin, Barb, Ben, Aaron, Ralph, Rachel, Stephanie and now Jim. These are all individuals who have touched my life but have been lost to death in this season. They are seminary friends, high school teachers, colleagues, youth ministry friends and now a dear dear family friend.

I am not sure how much more my heart can take. And every time I open Facebook and learn of a new death, my breathe is taken away. This is just too much. Too much pain. Too much heartache. Too much loss. Too much….  Too much…. Too much! I find myself asking, “How long,Oh Lord, how long? How long will this season of loss last?

And yet another death has taken place. Again this is all way too much! Jim and Leslye and their family are more than friends to my sister and I. They are family. I married their oldest daughter and her husband five years ago. It was the first wedding I ever officiated. I have known their kids since they were toddlers and infants and I often call them my “adopted” nieces and nephew. So this one…this one hits way too close to home.

Jim was a man of great integrity and had a smile that could light up a room. I remember watching him with Lexi and McKenzie at their weddings dancing the father daughter dance. My heart aches that he won’t be able to walk Madison down the aisle when she marries the love of her life. Jim loved his wife. He loved his children. And he loved his grandchildren. Today, the world is much dimmer because another great soul was taken from us way too soon. Again this is way too much!

My heart aches. I wonder when this season will end. I fear waking to another death in my life. But then I know the reality is that God sits with us in our pain. So much in life is uncertain, but one thing I know for certain is God’s love–God’s love for God’s people. Today, I am clinging to that very hope even though I must sit here in this space a little longer; sit here in the midst of more grief, pain and loss. I must once again cling to the promises of resurrection hope as I continue to let the tears fall.

I am linking up with Holley at Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Porch Stories. 

Sunday Blessings 227, 228 & 229

Sometimes life gets crazy so here’s three weeks worth!

(1) More rain.

(2) One year at First Lutheran Williston

(3) Fun new LLR!

(4) Giving some of the bulletin boards at church a facelift.

(5) Early Birthday dinner with KD and family.

(6) Time with my sissy

(7) Awesome birthday gathering!!

(8)Almost $300 raised for NAMI

(9) The many birthday greetings!

(10) CS and LS decorating my office for my 40th birthday.

(11) A church member bringing me some soup and bread he made for his wife and girls. So yummy!!

(12) Texting with my fave

(13) Watching Luna play with her new toy.

(14) German chocolate cake

(15) Holding baby Kate

(16) Time with outstanding people…some of my fave people.

(17) All Rev’d Up leading Beer and Hymns

(18) WND Rostered Leaders 5K

(19) Sending an important email

(20) A sweet card from my blog friend MG

(21) Warm quilts on a cool Fall day

(22) Technology so I could attend a friends funeral online.

(23) A fun concert at church

(24) Laughter

(25) A beautiful PLN!!

The Crowds

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “crowd.” We’d love to have you join us.

The crowds were really good at finding Jesus. The woman who came seeking healing for her demon possessed daughter. The mat carriers lifting their friend through the roof to Jesus. There was even the crowd that came to watch as Jesus was crucified.

I wonder if like me Jesus ever tired of the crowds. I’m an introvert for the most part, but I can fake extrovert when I need to. In my introvertedness, I’d much rather curl up with a cup of tea and a good book; away from the crowds.

Crowds can be so noisy. I think of all the crowds that gather at concerts or at political rallies. I like hanging with friends in these places, but I usually get weary of the crowds fast.   Yet there are other times crowds might be a gift. A small crowd gathered watching vigil at the hospital. A small crowd praying for safety together. A small crowd gathered at a funeral together.

Jesus knew how to manuever crowds. Me not always so much. Today, I’ll stay curled up on the couch, under a favorite quilt, away from the crowds, with my sweet Luna sleeping peacefully on my lap. Because sometimes crowds are less than peaceful!

I’m Tired of Burying My Friends

I open Facebook and read that another friend has lost his wife. Leaving three children without their mom. This brings the total to six. Six friends/colleagues that have died since last October. Eight children without one of their two parents.

My heart aches. I’m broken, fragmented, not whole. But most of all, I want to restore my friends back to wholeness. I want to take away the pain of losing someone they love so dearly. I want the deceased to still be here with us here on Earth. The truth is I’m tired of watching friends being buried.

And as another soul dies way too young, the grief only deepens. The grief paralyzes me once again. Why, oh Lord? Why are all these vibrant souls being taken from us way too young? They all still had so much to give. I’m tired of watching my friends being buried.

Tears stream down my face. I think of all the memories we shared together. I want his daughter to know him. I want her three children to know her too. I want cancer to be cured. I want their hearts to be stronger. I don’t want death to take them. I am tired of burying my friends.

Yes, life and death are cyclical but there are so many days I’d much rather rejoice at new life than watch as death takes a friend way too young. I also find myself clinging to fear wondering who death will take next. It’s irrational because we are not too worry about tomorrow for it will bring its own worries. But again, I’m tired of burying my friends.

My heart has loved. I’ve been blessed by so many wonderful colleagues and friends. But my heart has been broken. It has mourned. It knows both the joys and sorrows of life. It yearns to be reunited with these dear beloved souls.

Im tired of burying my friends. But in due time, joy will come again! Joy will eventually turn our mourning into dancing. And our dancing will make way for more grace, more hope, and more love.

But for now, I need to dwell in this space; grieving these dear souls. I’m tired of watching my friends bodies being returned to the earth. “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

 

Rain

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “rain.” We’d love to have you join us.

The tears trickle down their faces
Tears of relief
Hope for tomorrow

Rain

The land is barren, dry
It comes
Just when it is needed

Rain

A life well lived
A life taken way too soon
Grief stricken faces

Rain

A wet head
Marked with the cross
A sign and a claim
Of being a beloved child of God.

Rain.

It comes and goes.
Sometimes it overcomes
And we wait for it to stop.
We know her power
And ask God to calm her.

Rain.

In a hospital room
Tears of joy
As a new baby
enters this world.

Rain.

Wet
Water
Tears
Baptism
God’s reign!

Why are We in a Rush?

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “rush.” We’d love to have you join us.

People quickly moving to and fro. It seems like the world is constantly in motion. Why are we in such a rush?

This afternoon, I was at the grocery store picking up a few items. I grabbed what I needed and got in line at one of the tills. The lady in front of me told me that it might be awhile as she was having an issue with one of her sale items. I simply laid down my stuff and waited patiently. I wasn’t in a rush so I simply waited until it was my turn. It was only a few minutes and then she was on her way and it was my turn. I didn’t lose anything by waiting.

The thing that got me was how she kept apologizing for holding us up. The world is always in such a hurry. We need to savor life and not get caught up in life’s craziness. Too often I think we miss parts of life and important moments because we are in such a rush.

Im vowing to slow down. To spend time with those I love. To play with sweet Luna more. To stop and just be. Let’s focus more on God’s words “Be still and know that I am God!”

Grief and Our Heavenly Home

It’s no secret to anyone that this year has been a very difficult year of grief for many of my friends and I. Since last October, I know five individuals under the age of 40 who have died. And at this current moment, a friend’s wife is fighting for her life in the intensive care unit. It has been one of the most difficult years and I am weary from grief.

I understand that grief is a part of the ebb and flow of life. I know that eventually those I love will die. I am no stranger to death as both of my grandparents on my mom’s side have been gone 14 and 10 years respectively. I lost my elementary and high school best friend way too young. As a younger adult, one does not expect to lost friends way too soon and way too early. Yet that is the reality of life. Grief shows that we have loved and been loved.

Recently I was reading Concordia College professor Jacqueline Bussie’s new book Love without Limits: Jesus’ Radical Vision for Love with No Exceptions. In one of her chapters, she focuses solely on grief and one of the quotes continually is replaying in my heart and soul. The quote reads as follows: “All grief is love, and all love will someday cause you grief. Knowing this, grief tries to tempt us to never be so foolish as to love again. Granted, love is a seesaw. But I choose to hike up my skirt and climb aboard anyway, even if it’s unladylike, because reserve is for the dead, while soaring and splinters are for the living.”

That’s the beauty, isn’t it friends? God calls us to love each other despite our differences. God calls us to love without limits. A love that reminds us that love is worth it. God loved us so much that God sent God’s one and only Son into the world for each and every one of us. “For God so loved the world….(see John 3:16-17)

There are days that I experience the intense seesaw of love. But there are other days it feels like a swing blowing in the breeze. Love is something I am willing to fight for even when it involves me, in Jacqueline’s words, hiking up my skirt and climbing aboard anyway. It is this kind of love that allows us to soar.

It is also this kind of love that sometimes causes us to get splinters. These splinters are removable and we still can feel the tinge of the splinter being removed. And depending on how deep it is lodged, the pain can bring a grimace to our face or tears to our eyes.

Despite this kind of grief, no matter what, I want to remember those I have loved. I want to cling to the gifts and blessings they brought to my life. And even in the weary moments of grief, I want to continually remember what it means to love and be loved.

For it is in the loving and living, that I am reminded again and again of the gift and power of grief. Grief is hard and there are days I would much rather not feel that pain. But there are days, that God reminds me through a simple memory and moment in time, that this life is not eternal. That God will eventually call us all back home; not to our earthly home but to our heavenly home.

I am linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Mary and Tell His Story, Kristin and Porch Stories and Holley and Coffee for your Heart.

  

 

Sunday Blessings 226

(1) A boat ride

(2) Mentor Group fun!!

(3) Texting with HS

(4) Fresh tomatoes from LG and EG

(5) A visit from NM

(6) Birthday cake for BK’s birthday

(7) Coffee with JL

(8) Last summer nights on main for the season.

(9) A call from Dad

(10) Guest posting over at the Mudroom

(11) Bedroom set delivery from Dad and C

(12) Supper with Dad and C

(13) Church

(14) Finding something that was lost.

(15) Rain

(16) Leftovers

(17) A PLN!!

(18) The ELCA Youth Ministry Network…a community that comes together in times of need.

Husker Loyal

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “loyal.” We’d love to have you join us.

We would crowd around the television watching the football move from side to side. As little girls, one of us would inevitably end up in grandpa Sam’s lap. As we grew, we never grew out of gathering around the television with Grandpa.

The sounds of Tom Osborne coaching his team carried through the tv. All of us chanting “Go Big Red” filled the room. The loyalty of tried and true Huskers fans enveloped the room. These are still some of my fave memories growing up.

And others knew our loyalty too. Mom gifted me a homemade Huskers quilt for my high school graduation. My best friend gifted me a stuffed Herbie the Husker. He’s a little worse for wear as his stuffing is starting to come out. But beautiful reminders of my loyalty to this team.

To this day, I am loyal to my Huskers. I watch every game I can usually dressed in my fave Husker tshirt or sweatshirt. This girl will always be loyal to her Huskers.

Go Big Red!!

The Book that Almost Wasn’t Birthed (or Loving Beyond Limits)

Last summer, a colleague and friend Jacqueline Bussie set out to birth her latest book Love without Limits: Jesus’ Radical Vision for Love with No Exceptions. The irony is that her original publisher asked her to remove stories about her LGTBQ+ and Muslim friends. When she refused to remove those stories, the publisher decided to not publish the book. But love is a powerful thing and within 24 hours, this book had a new home and a new publisher in Fortress Press.

This book was published because of the power of love. Bussie put a piece of tape over her mouth with the word “Censored” and posted on Facebook. That post went viral when friends, colleagues, friends of friends and others started to share the post and tag publishers who might be interested. Little did any of us know that her book would indeed find a new home within 24 hours.

This book is a book that I believe the world needs to read especially if you believe that God’s love sent into the world through God’s one and only Son Jesus is the kind of love that God wants us to share.

As I read this book, there were so many times I found myself thankful for the stories Bussie was sharing in her book. She was giving a name and a face to those that are often seen as the outcasts. “Abraham and Sarah are the first immigrants, the first ‘resident aliens.’ For Christians and Jews who claim these two as faith-parents, this means our faith is an immigrant faith! It also means we were born to cross boundaries (Bussie).” She was reminding me how limitless love truly can be when we treat on another with love and respect.

And this book brought me to tears so many times; tears of healing, tears of joy, tears of reconcilation and tears of pain and grief. In the midst of my tears of grief, Bussie’s words were a gift to me especially in a year filled with so much grief as I have lost five friends since last October. “Grief has always stung my soul like a thousand Georgia fire ants swarming my skin (Bussie).” Grief stings so deeply but love and community bring healing in the midst of that grief.

The truth is that as followers of Jesus, we are called to love without limits. “Followers of a love-without-limits God don’t seek peace. Instead they seek a just peace–meaning a peace built upon the foundations of justice.”

This book reminds us over and over the incredible power of loving without limits. It’s what can happen when one publisher refuses to publish a book the world needs to read. It’s what can happen when a community comes together in the midst of grief. Its what can happen when we truly love one another for who God created us to be. It’s what happens when we set our stories of sorrow and pain alongside one another. It’s what happens when we hold hands together and love without limits.

“God’s love sees us for who we can become, instead of merely the person we are today, unfinished (Bussie).” In fact, it is this kind of love that accepts us all for who God created us to be. We are all unfinished works in progress. Love transforms and renews who we are as loved children of God.

Love is not a candle, it’s the freakin sun” (Bussie)
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Some additional favorite quotes from the book:

“A genuine apology is like an eleventh hour rain on a dusty crop. Grossly overdue, but miraculously just in time.”

“Life writes its own poetry. But like all poetry, it’s sometimes hard to read.”

“We set the cracked plate of their stories of sorrow alongside the broken cup of God’s own story of pain and redemption.”
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I am linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Mary and Tell His Story, Kristin and Porch Stories, Holly and Coffee for your Heart!