Tag Archives: love

The Many Ways We Grieve

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No one ever told me grief felt so like fear.

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

My husband’s father passed into the more immediate presence of our Lord and Savior at the end of October. His death came after a diagnosis of Lung Cancer that had metastasized to his spine. A short 7 weeks later we would no longer hear his laughter, witness the love he had for his grandsons, the love he had for each of us as children, or the precious love he held for mom. We would no longer be able to hear his great stories or listen to his wise advice and constant encouragement. Near the end of his life last hugs were given and last I Love You’s said.

I called this great man Dad – not out of obligation because I am married to his eldest son but because he truly was my dad. He in so many ways, more ways than I can count embraced me like a daughter – something that was not an experience I really had before. I believe, he looked out for me, loved me, cared for me, encouraged me, and challenged me to be the best I could be.

I haven’t talked much about the role he played in my life or how his death impacted me. I’m not completely sure why – I know that it came with a great amount pain and rawness on many levels. In addition to not feeling this level of grief before, I quickly learnt that grieving is very different when you have a young one who is also grieving deeply and needing a mom and dad to help guide him. Being sure he had the support he needed often was the priority. I never wanted him to fear death. However, I do want people to hear clearly that I did have places I could openly grieve and continue to have those people and places in my life.

When I read that quote above by C.S. Lewis it was as if it were written for my son. Written for him in the sense that he has been afraid of how his Gramps death will impact his golf skills and game, fear of how things will happen now that this essential person was missing from the equation, and sadly fear of so many elements and things. Being a double PK (a pastors kid, who has two parents who are pastors), he has attended many many funerals and has grown up with hearing us talk about death, scripture, and faith. Even though he knew plenty about death, Gramps’ death rocked his world (as it should have) and opened many profound questions about life and death and the role that God plays in each. However, as C.S. Lewis indicated, grief felt like fear, to my precious child.

Last week, we enrolled him in a camp at our local hospice that was held at the K.B. Reynolds Hospice Home in Winston-Salem, NC. Although I can still sense and even see in his eyes much fear, there also seems to be a different level of processing going on within him. He’s by no means over his grief and I’m going to say all fear is gone within him. What I will say, is he is taking new steps and I’m incredibly proud of him for stepping out in faith. He’ll always have Gramps in his heart and carry precious tender and funny memories, as he himself travels through life.

In closing, I share a couple of things, Never be afraid to seek help as you grieve – it’s lonely enough, reach out to a qualified therapist or to your local Hospice. My experience as a pastor is that hospices are not only a provider of care as one comes close to the end of their life but they offer a multitude or resources to help loved ones relearn how to live. I feel certain that resources are available not only for children but for adults as well and these resources are indeed life sustaining and life giving. I know for certain that the K.B. Reynolds Hospice Home does offer resources for both adults and children and you don’t have to be grieving the loss of a loved one whom they cared for – they see the importance of grief work in general.

The pictures below are of the closing portion of my son’s participation at Camp Carousel. They wrote a message to their loved one’s and placed it in the butterfly tent and then blew bubble’s upward.

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Having a Kiddo in the Hospital Is Harder than Hard!

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So over at Rev Gals here is their Friday Five for this week (and yes I realize it’s Saturday)!   On RevGal’s it reads and asks us to respond to the following post:

Hospitals are very much on my mind, because my husband Chuck is having his second knee replacement on Monday. We will be there very early in the morning because he is the first surgery of the day at 7 am.

So consider your experiences in the hospital in your various capacities: being a patient; parent, child or spouse of a patient; chaplain; minister; or visitor. In what ways have you experienced your times in hospitals? Think of 5 ways and share your blog address in the comments section when you play.

  1. I remember being alone with a toddler and having been to the ER for two nights in a row because as a mom I knew something was wrong.  And more than the heart burn that the dr diagnosed it as the first night.
  2. I had someone with me the first night but my husband was away as dean of Laurel Ridge so it wasn’t easy for him to get home either night or for the week that would come.  But the second night I feel blessed in some ways because the doctor working on him had a aha type moment and tested his pancreatic enzyme levels.   And yup that was the answer to the problem.  My little guy had what we thought at the time Acute Pancreatitis.  I remember that I was devastated when they told me he would be admitted for at least a week.
  3. As a pastor I knew that they don’t admit adults or children without it being a serious issue and I was scared for his life and didn’t know what to do at midnight alone with my very sick child.
  4. Thankfully my mother in law came down from Winston-Salem (a 5 hour drive) the next day to be with me and offer me some support.  The whole thing brings tears to my eyes still.  Because other than her, one friend, and daily or multiple times a day calls from my hubby (as cell service would allow) I had no support.  No church members visited or offered to bring anything.  I felt alone a lot and all I wanted to do was cry but knew that would only get my little man a little more worked up.
  5. I remember the nurse on the day we were leaving telling me that little ones that come in with numbers that high usually don’t leave.  Meaning you guessed it they die.  I’ve never forgot it and remember it every time that the doctors fear his pancreatitis is flaring because it’s not longer acute but chronic.
  6. What parent wouldn’t be freaked out and exhausted from not getting much sleep ( sleeping in bed with their little one for a week) and wondering when he was going to start to feel better and when they would stop giving him morphine and give him real food.   But as you can see from the pictures below he did get well and we did have some play time so to speak.

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#RallyRevGals — The Heathered Edition

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Have a case of the Augusts? Not ready for the program year to start? Thinking about how you can’t save the world, or even your little corner of it? RevGals can’t fix it all either, but we can give you a reason to post to your blog!

The #RallyRevGals Blog Contest will run from Tuesday, August 18, to Sunday, August 31. 

To be eligible:

be a member of our webring,*
1. Write a blog post about a woman who has been a positive influence on your ministry (whether or not she is/was a pastor),
2. Use the tag/hashtag #RallyRevGals in your subject line as well as categories or tags on your blog,
3. Share the link in the comments on this blog post, in the comments on the accompanying Facebook group post, or on Twitter (be sure to use the hashtag so we can find your blog post).
4. Everyone who participates will be entered in a random drawing for three prizes from our Cafe Press store.

 

Here are two more women who have rallied around me and supported me in different times and stages of my ministry.  I call it the “Heathered Edition” because both of these women are named Heather.   

Let me begin with my best friend from college and my Maid of Honor.   She came from a much more conservative church tradition than I did but it never stopped the two of us from being great friends.   During our college days we did lots of things together and I can’t even begin to imagine college life without her constant presence.  She encouraged me to be the best that I could be.  If I struggled with something academically she was there to see if she could help.   She was present at my recitals and cheered me on – even when I made plenty of mistakes and was far from perfect.  She hugged me as I cried and began to grieve the painful childhood that had haunted me.  She drove 7 hours to be with me as my church blessed me and sent me off to seminary (my home church was in Western Canada and seminary was in the Eastern USA) so this was a big move for me.  But as we sat alone perhaps in the last moments we had before I moved she handed me a card and what was in that card was her tithe from her summer job.  I was completely blown away because I knew she struggled with me going off to ministry as she herself had never had a female pastor and her tradition wouldn’t have allowed for one.  Yet she believed in my call so much that she would give her tithe to me to help with my ministry costs. This was one of the greatest gifts I ever received and one that I will never forget.  An act of stepping out in faith on her part.  She later flew to North Carolina to be my Maid of Honor and honored I was that she would once again take time and her resources to make this trip. My biggest regret is that we’ve lost contact over the years.   Regardless, she definitely rallied around me and sent me off to begin my pastoral ministry with blessing, love and support.

My encounter with the second Heather came much later in my ministry.  I was already ordained and we crossed paths at a Moravian Women’s Conference held on the campus of Wake Forest.  It started out as me supporting her as she explored her own call to ministry and I was with her that week when she received word that she had been accepted at Duke Divinity School.  The encouragement and support I offered to her soon was being offered back and became a mutual relationship.  We were blessed with the opportunity to travel to Prague and Herrnhut (the motherland of the Moravian Church) together as we were both delegates to a Worldwide Moravian Women’s Consultation — Valiant Women in a Violent World.   It is this trip that brought us closer.  When you travel with someone at that level you either know you are meant to be great friends or mere acquaintances.  Obviously, we discovered and developed a deep friendship.  We’ve never lived in the same city so email, Facebook, text messages and phone calls have been our means of communication but those means have been enough to sustain a friendship that is dear to my heart.  When Heather was ordained a few years ago, I was so excited – I hadn’t experienced that excitement since my own ordination and I was blessed to be a part of her ordination service.  I loved her so dearly that I even read scripture from Ruth (long story behind that one)!   The past few years since her ordination have only deepened our bonds as we share moments of ministry – even though we serve in very different settings.  She is a professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and I serve in pastoral ministry.   We both share a passion for raising awareness of mental illness in the church and teaching the church how to embrace and care for people who suffer with this often lonely disease.  But beyond that she’s been there as I’ve struggled with my depression and just a simple text or Facebook message from her can put a smile on my face and gives me reason to go on.  

Both Heather’s have been major life lines when I’ve needed them most.  I know that their relationships were and are a gift of God and I’m forever grateful for that.  I wouldn’t be half the pastor, mother, wife, or child of God if they hadn’t been there to rally around me and at times giving me the opportunity to rally around them.  For true friendship comes from mutual rallying.  Thank you God for these women who have greatly changed my life, may I be to others as they have been to me.

#RallyRevGals — Peggy Edition

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Have a case of the Augusts? Not ready for the program year to start? Thinking about how you can’t save the world, or even your little corner of it? RevGals can’t fix it all either, but we can give you a reason to post to your blog!

The #RallyRevGals Blog Contest will run from Tuesday, August 18, to Sunday, August 31.

To be eligible:

be a member of our webring,*
1.  Write a blog post about a woman who has been a positive influence on your ministry (whether or not she is/was a pastor),
2.  Use the tag/hashtag #RallyRevGals in your subject line as well as categories or tags on your blog,
3.  Share the link in the comments on this blog post, in the comments on the accompanying Facebook group post, or on Twitter (be sure to use the hashtag so we can find your blog post).
4.  Everyone who participates will be entered in a random drawing for three prizes from our Cafe Press store.

I couldn’t narrow it down to just one woman who has helped me along in my 16 years of ministry, so over the next few days I will be blogging about a few more.  But here’s today’s special woman who deserves to be upheld as someone who cared and countinues to care for me as a pastor and a person.

In every church we’ve served I’ve found that there are a couple of lay people with whom I develop a special bond with.  Usually that bond is strenghtened by their witness to me and their unconditional love and support of me as their pastor.  It’s not that they wouldn’t be honest with me but perhaps it’s because they are honest – honest with constructive criticism and honest with compliments and words of encouragement.  There was always a feeling I had that this person had my back and was praying for me. 

 As I mentioned thankfully I’ve had this at every church that my husband and I have served but a few stand out.   One of those is a lady named Peggy.  Every Sunday Peggy and her children and grandchildren where in church I knew that I would be given a hug that would fill me with the energy and the joy that I would need to face whatever may come my way till we meet again.  Along with that hug were words such as “I love you so much”, ” Your prayers are so special and sincere”, ” You have gifts for ministry and I’m glad your my pastor” etc.   We all long to hear those words but we also recgonize that being ordained and thus behind the pulpit often set us apart from hearing those words that help sustain our beings.

My bond with Peggy I believe is unbreakable.  I haven’t been her pastor in close to 10 years but her family and my family still maintain contact (her daughter and son in law are our littleman’s Godparents) and in many ways I see her as an unofficial grandma to my littleman.  I’ve sat with her through declining health of herself and her husband.  After moving away I returned (within the boundaries set and with permission) to help officiate at her Granddaughters wedding, her husbands funeral and sadly her son’s funeral.  It’s just not every day that you can do those things but when some people ask you know in your heart your meant to be there and woulnd’t be anywhere else.

Peggy is a special lady and although she is now limited in the ways that she can serve I know that she serves a risen God with a servants heart.  Every pastor should be blessed to have a Peggy in their life.  Peggy has ralleyed around me and help me to remember at times why I do what I do and who it is that I serve.  I’m so blessed to have her in my life!

 

 

Sabbath between Meetings

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So I had roughly 40 minutes between meetings today and wasn’t sure what to do with my time.  I knew it wasn’t enough time to get back to my office and do anything and I couldn’t grab a snack because my next meeting was a lunch meeting.  I guess I could have sat in my hot car and responded to email’s on my phone but instead I remembered there was a park across from the restaurant that my next appointment was at and I could sit there and read, write and/or pray.  So I headed in that direction.

What a gift that decision turned out to be.  I found a delightful bench in the shade with this waterfountain in front.  Water is so soothing to me and I love to listen to it bubble and fall.  I sat there for a bit and took the opportunity to read both the daily text and a section of a book I’m reading for counseling — focusing on being in the present and the connection between mind and body.  I prayed I would continue to be present for my next appointment and then my hospital visit that would follow.  I prayed for grace for myself that I would begin to accept myself in all my bodies glory and limitations.  

Before I knew it my 40 minutes had passed but I felt renewed and refocused.   I felt alive and fresh in ways I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t accepted this gift of sabbath in the midst of the craziness of my day.  I’m reminded that God gifts us with moments like this often but we often fill those moments with acts of busyness instead of allowing God’s presence to penetrate our lives.  In addition to the gift of sabbath I believe I’ve found a new favorite spot to be quiet – it’s close to home and has water features and is super quiet – I susect it’s underused but will certainly become more used by me. 

Thank you Lord for these unexpected but much needed gifts. I enjoyed basking in your love.

Ash Wednesday

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It always seems Ash Wednesday sneeaks up on me no matter how prepared I think I might be.  But this year it seemed to come out of no where and not only was I not prepared for it but I wasnt feeling it either.  I just had some surgery a week ago today and have been pushing myself a bit more than I should lately.  I just want to get back to normal and go about being a pastor and not having others worry about me — usually it’s me doing the worrying about others.  

I’m blessed as many of you know to work with my husband in team ministry and I seriously contemplated asking him if he would mind if I stayed home tonight because I just didn’t think I could mange a service, even if I was just sitting with my littleman.  But something inside me, that still small voice that speaks and makes itself known spoke load and clear that I really needed to go.  So off I went next door to the church.  It was good to be seen and folks seemed happy to see me but I started to second quess listening to that voice as I sat in the pew with a growing uncomfortableness in my belly and where my incisions where.  Why had I pushed myself again I wondered — and wondered how long was it going to take me to recover again.  Up and down I went as we would stand and sit through out the liturgy and the singing of hymns.

Something shifted inside me as we came to the point in the service that my husband placed the cross on each forehead….ashes from the burnt palm branches from our last Palm Sunday Service.  The choir was singing “Create in me a Clean Heart” as the congregation was supposed to come forward as one felt lead.  The most eager and therefore the first one up was an almost 5 year old of the church.  He wanted to go all by himself and that he did.  He brought tears to many of our eyes — an eager little guy wanting to have the cross placed on his forward a sign he knew that Jesus loved him and had died for him.  I’m not sure I know all that went through his little mind as I didn’t get to talk to him but it was through him that I knew why the still small voiced urged me to church.  If we could all enter into the lenten season with such eagerness and passion.  If we could all cling to Christ’s love with no what if’s or no preconvinced ideas of what Christ should do for us instead of what we should do for Christ.  I looked around the sanctuary as this proud little boy returned to his seat where his parents still where and noticed there were a lot of tears in peoples eyes.  Children indeed have a lot to teach us adults and I’m grateful for his witness to those gathered at Fries Mememorial Moravian Tonight.  I’m blessed to be his pastor and to have watched him grow over these 2.5 years and I look forward to watching his continued growth.

 

At the end of service our younger child were finding their way up from the nursery and several of them wanted crosses on their heads also, which we gladly did.  It was wonderful that they were not afraid of the ashes but in many ways awestruck by them.  On sweet little girl who will soon be 2 got a cross on her forward and she was so proud of it that she showed it off saying “cross”.  She doensn’t have the deeper knowledge that some of the adults have but she had one thing for certain she had a cross on her forward and in time she will continue to grow into the knowledge and the love of that cross.   

So despite my intitial feelings Ash Wednesday turned out to be a moving and memorable days.  I’m sure that this Ash Wednesday is one that I will remember for years into the rest of my ministiry. It also serves to remind us that Children have a faith bigger and deeper than any of us can even begin to imagine.  And when we do hear that ever small voice so strongly urging us to go and do something, maybe we ought to listen because it’s often in those moments that our lives are forever forever changed.  Thanks be to God for using the youngest among us to remind us of a love that runs so deep that Jesus would give his life so that we might live.  Thanks be to God!  What a joy and blessing to serve such a rich church.

 

And of course how could I not include a cute selfie of my two boys:

 

Pictures taken by Kelly L. Moore of Joseph L. Moore and may not be used without written permission.