Thursday, September 26, 2013

Breaking the barrier

7:18 p.m. Today's project was to attend my dad Oliver Gray's memorial service at the National Veterans' Cemetery. The entire family was there. Many of his grandchildren and both my sister and I spoke. Each one brought out the aspects of their grandpa's conversations and guidance that meant the most to them. It was evident that my father had so much delight in his grandsons and great-grandsons! My sister Dona shared about my dad being part of  the Greatest Generation. Our Uncle Pat, Daddy's youngest brother and pastor of a church in Barstow, shared a few memories and read a beautiful poem to us.

Here are the remarks I made to conclude our service, and point our family to Christ:

                                                                "Breaking the Barrier"

"One morning this week, I was in the kitchen about 7:00. I automatically shut the door connecting the kitchen and the dining room out of sheer preventive habit, even though there was no reason to block the exit. Our mischievous toddler Clark, the reason for the barrier, wasn't even up yet!! Our minds tend to accept both real and perceived barriers, don't they?

In 1947, Daddy's biggest hero Chuck Yeager, broke the sound barrier, taking off from Muroc Field over the Mojave Desert, a B-29 bomber carrying him in an X-11 experimental plane attached underneath. Dozens of pilots had lost their lives in the attempt. (I knew much about airplane science because Daddy spent several hours with me weekly as a junior high girl teaching me the science of flight out on our patio in Redlands. Ailerons, lift... Maybe I was the son he never had). Back to Chuck Yeager!

At 761 mph, the shuddering and shock waves in the plane gave way to a sea of glass as Yeager reach Mach 1.07, breaking the unbreakable barrier. In the 50's, Dona and I would get so excited as sonic booms shook the house and rattled the sliding glass door. Then came the BOOM! Great stuff!

But a stronger, more impenetrable barrier was crossed that day over the desert, a barrier that challenges us all-- the belief barrier. Daddy crossed that barrier over 33 years ago as I had the privilege of leading him to the Lord in the kitchen of son Sean's and my tiny apartment. That's a barrier we all must cross, to have faith in the saving grace of Jesus Christ as Daddy did. 

Though he rarely got to church, Daddy read all of Billy Graham's books and supported the work of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He always packed a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child, or, in later years, gave me a check and a box to fill and deliver to church in his name. His latest reads now that he knew he was approaching death were Billy Graham's Nearing Home (of which he insisted on buying me a copy); and Anne Graham Lotz' Heaven: My Father's House.

Now Daddy has crossed the ultimate barrier, from death to life, the same barrier that my Steve crossed in January--from earth to heaven. Not at the mere speed of sound, but at the speed of Light, to JESUS, the Light of the World."

Thank you for being here today. 


Sunday, September 15, 2013

In every transition

5:30 a.m. Today's project is to make transitions in ministry and in family life.

After many years focusing on Women's Ministry at church, serving in leadership at Bible studies, retreats, leading specialized ministries at both Harvest Christian Fellowship and my current church, Calvary  Chapel Moreno Valley, I will return to my "first love" of  service to Jesus, teaching children at 3rd service Children's Church.  That is the first ministry I was ever involved in when I became a new believer in 1980. It was such an honor to be asked to be a Sunday School helper for my mentor Bonnie York's kindergarten class! I'd been a helper in the first Vacation Bible School my young son had attended the summer before. Knowing I'd been called to teach women, Bonnie took me under her wing and I became her substitute teacher at the Harvest morning women's Bible study, and later taught it. but I never lost touch with teaching God's word to children, because I spent 8 years teaching  in Christian schools. 2 Timothy 4:2 exhorts,

"Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season."

If The Lord, doesn't call His church up to heaven in the coming year, I intend to teach my Summer Bible  Study in a friend's home, and will be actively participating in studies at church. After Jesus and my family, my dearest love is to study and apply the word of God. Our Savior Himself said, when giving His disciples and followers the right priorities, in Luke 14:26-27,

"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and yes, his own life, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does no t bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple."

11:50 p.m. Speaking of parents and family, another, sadder transition came this evening. After a day of my very ill, but still ambulatory father not answering his phone or my daughter Heidi's knocks at the door, I went to his house in Redlands, unlocked the door, looked down the hallway and saw him seated, stretched out in his walker, both feet on the floor, with his upper body leaned back. Upon close examination, although the Lord told me he was dead, I saw his head rolled over to the side like a baby sleeping crooked, with a calm expression on his face. Daddy was at peace.

"My" plan had been to place him in a skilled nursing facility, with his doctor's approval and signature, after his appointment next Tuesday, to be cared for, cleaned up,  dressed, and let us all come to say goodbye. I had already seen an attorney to set up a conservatorship, because my dad had not  changed his clothes in a month, kept his doctor appointments, nor had he paid to fix the plumbing that was in deplorable, unsafe condition. But Daddy beat us to the punch, escaping his earthly shell and all difficulties. The next few days of making arrangements will be hard, but no harder than watching the morticians roll his wrapped, sheeted body out to the mortuary van.

At each transition, whether exciting, like my quest for directorship with Mary Kay, or concerning, like the recurring tennis elbow/arm that makes even this light typing painful, I need to look up, not around! I'll close with Psalm 121:1-2,7-8.

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills;
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
The LORD shall preserve  you
    From all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
He shall preserve your
   going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and forevermore."

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Not surprised

8:11 p.m. Today's project was to meet a plumber at my dad's house in Redlands. I normally go over there one afternoon each week to visit with him, and get his groceries for the week at the local supermarket. He hasn't been up to getting in the car and going with me in the last few months. In fact, he's lost a drastic amount of weight, stopped shaving regularly, and has really let his house go. Daddy has late-stage bladder cancer, but has no pain. "If he did," his doctor told me, "he wouldn't be avoiding coming in for his appointments!" My dad refused to go into the doctor's office a month ago, so I went in his place.  Exodus 20:12 commands us,

"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you."

May I say that this day that I spent with Daddy has been a VERY long one! Today, a plumber was coming to his house to fix the problems he found last week. After a bruising resistance last week, where he finally gave in and let an inspection take place, my sister and I got I'm to agree to have a plumber actually fix the crack in his septic system's pipe. This problem began with a backed- up kitchen sink which he said he'd get a plumber out to look at, back in June. Now his whole system is  messed up after he repeatedly said, "Dana, I'll take care of it." I even printed him a list of local plumbers from the referral service Angie's List, to no avail. Many Bible study sisters, family members and friends have been praying regularly for him to get the help he needs ( which he easily can afford). It's become an unsanitary situation now, affecting both bathrooms too.

I got up at 5:30 and went about my devotional reading as always with Jesus Calling. The last sentence was a great encouragement, for it said, "Together we will push back the darkness, for I am the Light of the world."  Then I had to laugh at the headlining verse of my Spurgeon's Morning &Evening September 4th reading, Jesus' assurance of cleansing to the leper:

"I will; be thou clean."

Getting my day's home clean once again was the task for my day, one which he'd agreed to.

Despite the prayers, the evidence of cracked pipes, and my reasoning with him, no repairs were made, accusations were hurled at me, and I just decided to pay the plumb for the work he'd attempted to do, brought my dad his mail, and then came home, discouraged but not surprised.

I am not sure what my sister and my next steps will be. But I do know that Jesus Himself has promised to light the way, and if He can instantly heal a leper, He can cause my dad to function by reason, not suspicion.

By the grace of God I was able to finish writing my last Bible study of the summer on 2 Samuel 24, and will enjoy much pray coverage and encouragement from my sisters in Christ tomorrow.

God is so good!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Two weddings, 4 birthdays, and a baby

2:54 p.m. Today's project is to attend the "Meet Baby Desmond" event at his Grandpa and Grandma Love's home. Much of his paternal family hasn't met him yet. As I've written about ( "Battling for Life in the NICU" June 28, 2013 ) Desmond's harrowing two-week stint at Riverside Community Hospital with Viral Spinal Meningitis at 2 weeks of age put a definite crimp in the meet-and-greet events that naturally follow a baby's birth.How we all praise God that our littlest one was healed and is unscathed! My scripture portion for today included Ephesians 3:20, my faith song for his life, with praise...
To Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we could ask or think.

On Sunday, most of our family--Kruckenberg side--attended the wedding of our niece Kindra to Giancarlo Gladish (directly above) an elegant affair at the San Diego Museum of Art, followed by a reception dinner in a restaurant on Coronado Island.   Thursday, my daughter Heidi and I attended the very intimate, Christ-centered wedding of my sister's daughter Destiny to Daniel Fingleton, on a cliff in La Jolla, overlooking the Pacific ocean on a gorgeous day, with a marvelous catered dinner, attended by her children from her first marriage, Garrett and Ashley. It very much reminded me of Steve's and my wedding, because my oldest son Sean was 5 years old at the time, and because a strong Gospel message was preached at Harvest on July 11, 1981.  The wonderfully fun part of this wedding was getting to visit with the many Fingleton relatives who flew in from Ireland to be with the newlyweds! Psalm 133:1 was very much exemplified:

Behold how good and how pleasant it is, for the brethren to dwell together in unity!

On to the other manifestation of God's creative goodness in our lives, birthdays! While Jesus was a prominent wedding guest in the Gospel of John Chapter 2, we have no evidence of His celebrating His birthday as we do. (Of course, the angelic hosts over Bethlehem staged an eternally unforgettable, not-to- be-repeated, celebration of Jesus' birth, enough said)!

This week, the birthdays in my family come one after another in rapid succession: first up was my dad turned 86 August 13th, on which day I took him a Jack in the Box breakfast platter, followed by chocolate Bundt cake and Neapolitan ice cream. On the 14th, our son Kriss enjoyed a day off with his family and was the recipient of an authentic licensed Angels cap, Jarritos sodas, Mothers frosted animal cookies from me, and an incredibly detailed baseball cake from his wife Marisela. They also went to an Angels game last night. 
Yesterday the 16th was my 62nd birthday, on which I was presented with a fabulous tiramisu/chocolate eclair dessert by Marisela, Starbucks card from my son Sean and his wife Pam, and a hand-decorated card from my clever 17-1/2 month old grandson Clark. My daughter Heidi took me to lunch, and Heather and little Desmond joined us, too. Tomorrow's my "baby" Steven's 25th birthday, which he and his friends celebrated with a skydive today. He lived to tell, so that's what matters! 

My sister-in-law Sharon celebrates her birthday on the 20th, and we will all gather here at my house for our "August Birthdays" party next Sunday the 25th. This party started out as a joke, because family members from cooler San Diego and Orange County were invited to roasting Riverside in August for food, fun and air conditioning cranked high! It hasn't stopped with the exception of weddings held that month or close to it where we all saw one another and partied in a different venue.So this house has been a beehive of activity with workmen getting the yards and house in order. Provisions from the obligatory Costco expedition have restocked the freezers and the fridge. Summer dessert prep stars next week! . 

Guess you can tell that I thrive on celebrations!

We believers have so much to celebrate in Christ that words utterly fail to describe. Sweet friendships that only He could have put together, such as I have with our daughter's mother-in-law. Kathleen's birthday card had a note celebrating the fact that our kids met, and now we are friends. I treasure our church's widows' group, whose leader asked me to share what's happened in my life in the last month, after 2nd service tomorrow. I have a community widows' group that meets tomorrow also, and is a huge source of encouragement, tears and laughter included. We truly comfort one another with the comfort that Christ has given us, as II Corinthians 1:3-4 exhorts us to do. 

My children and their spouses provide emotional and practical assistance, Christian fellowship, daily interaction and good ideas. As for the grand kids, what more entertainment, love, and pure acceptance could a person ask for?  .

When I get a little lonely on the inside, wishing I had an "automatic date" for social occasions, fully attentive to me as my husband was; or when I become nervous about growing my business, God reminds me through the wise words of Pastor Alistair Begg, "You take care of God's things, and He'll take care of your things!" Therefore I thank God for the Bible study He has called me to teach, and the research and writing that go into it each week. And I am looking forward to teaching 4th grade in Children's Church on Sundays starting in October!  

Perhaps my Heavenly Father, through the Spirit,  has already given me a theme for tomorrow's sharing: Celebration of Jesus!  

Psalm 45:1-2, 6-7 says,

My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King;
my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed you
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.

May we be anointed with the oil of gladness, Father God, just like Your son Jesus, in whom we have placed our eternal hopes!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Well remembered: be a Barzillai

7:01 p.m. Today's project was to get back into home life, after my wonderful and rewarding Mary Kay Seminar in Dallas, with church in the morning, and a lovely baby shower in the afternoon. The honoree is the daughter of my prayer partner Monica. The fellowship and entire atmosphere was just full of the Lord. Additionally,  since it took me a while to find the house, I toured Riverside's "green belt" along the Gage Canal, lined with citrus groves, nurseries, horse properties, estates and small farms on my way.

Most of the attendees were old friends from women's ministry and home Bible study groups based at Harvest Christian Fellowship, our church of 22 years. There was much re-acquainting to do, since our family had changed to Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley 10 years ago so my late husband Steve could make more friends in a smaller fellowship. I consider both my "home church!"

As we were filing our luncheon plates, one guest asked me, after ascertaining that she not only knew me from Harvest, but from my school board tenure, whether a newly-elected member had filled my seat, and I said, "No, because I chose not to run for a fourth term back in 2005, because all of my children had graduated. Let new parents step in, was my thinking."

Later I went shopping with my daughter-in-law, at Von's and Trader Joe's. We only had one mishap, when a bottle of organic lemonade fell out of a hole in a bag and broke and spilled on the driveway..

Funny how the topic of school board came up again as I was rinsing down that spill of lemonade. A long-time neighbor came walking by, so I told how odd it was, and she agreed, that a Von's plastic bag would break.  She then said, "You're not still on the school broad, right?" I said no, much the same as I'd said earlier. Lorraine said, "I didn't think I'd seen any of your signs lately. The current group isn't doing much--you are missed!" I laughed and refrained from commenting on the group's actions, saying, "I don't think they have enough budget to do anything!" I've had no problem whatsoever stepping down so that younger parents can step up to office!

During the week, even while in the frenzied, glamour-packed events in Dallas, I'd been pondering my Bible study's last lesson on II Samuel Chapter 19 (I took my written lesson with me, though I didn't have time to work on it much). We had learned about Barzillai, a wealthy older man who supplied exiled King David and his people with provisions when David was escaping his treasonous son Absalom in an earlier chapter. When invited to come live at court with the restored king, Barzillai turned down the offer, saying in verses 34-37 that he no longer had a taste for life in Jerusalem, was too old at 80 to enjoy it, and wanted to return to his home to die and be buried with his fathers. But he requested that his son Chimham go in his place.

Barzillai was gracious in letting another take his place of honor at the king's table, in the king's service.Why? Because he had served honorably, and distinguished himself, and was ready to step aside for another.

I wrote this  lesson almost 30 years ago. Little did I think that Barzillai would be my role model in righteous behavior! No one ever thinks they'll be over 35 one day. Yet here I am, at 62, a widow retired from public service and employment, but still active in Bible teaching ministry; a business owner enjoying my grown kids, their spouses, and my grand kids. Not to mention that when my fingerprints come back from the Moreno Valley Police Department (and Summer Bible study concludes for 2013) I'll be assigned a classroom to teach during 3rd service Children's Church. I cannot wait!!

My I share with you the verses regarding Barzillai that are part of this week's Bible study?

Proverbs 16:31:
The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness.

Philippians 4:11,12:
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
How well I know those extremes as a widow!

I Timothy 5:9,10:
Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number (congregation), and not unless she has been the wife of one man, well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.

Titus 2:2-5:
...that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things--that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

And finally, we have the Apostle Paul's valedictory, II Timothy 4:6-8. May we, fellow believers, be able to say this when God calls us home:

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 

Finally, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only, but to all who have loved His appearing.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A week of weeks

9:02 p.m. Today's project was to run my little rental car, a Yaris, out past Cal State San Bernardino to help a new consultant conduct two very lucrative Mary Kay parties for her business associates, friends, and family. Her success and the success of my whole team will propel us from Director-in Qualification to Directorship in the next two months. The Lord has literally turned the lights green at this time to make the move upward!

My schedule has been very full and hectic, but at 62, God has given me such strength and energy, even with a bad case of tennis elbow that has limited my writing, except for that which I do for the Bible study I teach on Thursdays. (That's a non-negotiable)! Psalm 92:10b describes my attitude and general being right now:

You have anointed me with fresh oil.

After Bible study on Thursday afternoon, I finally got a cortisone shot in my afflicted right elbow, and it's normal again after two months of suffering that was spreading pain to my left arm, too. However, good news came from orthopedist Dr. Rodriguez, that the x-rays showed no arthritis in either elbow. I was delighted to see that Exam Room 1 was decorated with plaques and pictures with Bible verses, too!

Now, why am I driving a rental car? Thursday afternoon on my way to my meeting through San Timoteo Canyon, I began feeling some hesitation when the Jeep's automatic transmission would shift, especially going up the small hills and down in the curves. But I went on to enjoy the meeting. That evening, while there was still a dusky light, the Jeep got into real trouble, barely making it up the last grade. Oh, how I prayed that I'd at least make it out of the Canyon and onto Redlands Boulevard, where I could stop and easily be assisted by Auto Club! I decided against the freeway route home, so stopping and starting, huffing and puffing on the Jeep's part, I made it to a big intersection, about 4 cars back from the light at Nason & Cottonwood. So, the Jeep would go no further, it was dark, I prayed and remembered to put on the emergency flashers. I contacted AAA, called my mechanic and texted every praying person and family member who came to mind and waited! I refused to think of myself as a victim of a potential crime! Psalm 91:1-2 says,

He who dwells in the secret 
  place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of 
  the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, "He is my
  refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust."

I had a minimum of 30 minutes to wait, and God was faithful. People just pulled up behind me as the light turned red, then as the light turned green, they noticed my emergency flashers. I don't think more than one or two drivers honked their horns, even before I fumblingly thought to start the flashers. And because the neighborhoods all face away from the signal, no naughty kids came out to bug me.  Was I ever glad the Lord didn't allow me to bring any guests to the meeting that afternoon! Texts came in continually with encouragement, and my daughter Heidi called to find out what was happening to me. One girlfriend, Michelle Tindall texted, "I love you, Dana!!! You scared me! You get home! That's an order!!! Lol"

A very nice tow truck driver hooked the Jeep up, and off we went to my house. On the way we talked about the way that even PG-13 movies have gotten so bad, and he's such a conscientious dad that he actually is going to see a movie first to approve it! This opened a door for witnessing, so I told him about the special youth events our church is having on Thursdays, and he was quite interested, because his kids are teenagers. As I rode along in the huge truck with my Jeep behind me, I kept thinking of what a pastor said on the radio earlier in the week: "You take care of God's things, and He'll take care of yours."

My mechanic came over yesterday morning to check things out. So I got the heap--or Jeep--towed out to a highly recommended transmission shop, and I believe I'll see it sometime after I return from our Mary Kay Seminar in Dallas next week. There is no room for worry--God's got me busy with finishing the backyard fence, stocking the pantries and fridge before I leave on a 6:05 a.m. flight on Tuesday, helping my consultants with their orders, and spending time with my grandsons! And I love that the Mary Kay Seminar ends on Saturday at noon--plenty of time to get back home for church from wherever in the US consultants call home!!

Let me close with Psalm 91:14-16, God speaking:

"Because he has set his love upon
  Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he
 has known My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will
  answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation."

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mighty Widows

7:55 p.m. Today's project was to attend the two widows' support groups I joined shortly after my husband Steve passed away in January. Interestingly enough, both groups meet on the 3rd Sunday of the month.

Calvary Chapel's "Widows' Might" is named after the widow in Luke 21:3, who came to give her offering at the temple. In that day, there was no taxpayer-financed safety net, so unless a widow had sons and or other family to support her, she could become destitute indeed. On this occasion, the wealthy gave large sums into the treasury, but Jesus commended this poor widow for giving two mites (lepta, very small copper coins):

Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.

At the Widows' Might, after enjoying a beautiful worship time, our leader Roberta focuses us on a scriptural theme or a Psalm, as she shared her learning from Psalm 37-8 today.

Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in the way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret--it only causes harm. 

Some months, we have a Bible study taught by one of the group. We share prayer requests, our own testimonies of the way the Lord is upholding us through the Word,  His faithfulness through very hard trials, and even the amazing way He may be using us, the majority ladies in their 80's, to witness and reach out to others. As we close in a circle of prayer, we are assured by the Lord that He is with and among us, even if the world might see us as occupying a very disadvantageous position! I don't generally join the others for lunch, because I need to go home, rest a bit, and today, for example, deal with a plumbing problem, before heading out to another wonderful widows/bereavement group, "Mending Hearts: Building a Network of Support."

Mending Hearts meets in the home of Kathy Potts, a widow of five years, and adopted mom of handicapped teens. Most of the ladies, of all ages and stages of loss, attend Palm Canyon Church. I first joined the group on February 10 for a lavish Valentines Day luncheon, only a month after losing Steve. We do very specific sharing and ministry to one another, building strong bonds of love, and end with a potluck meal. On February 24, we put together "Care Packages" in large bins meant to last a crisis-stricken family for a week, until they can get their bearings after a tragedy or loss.

March's topic was "Alphabet Soup" of pertinent healing scriptures and frank discussion. "The Power of Empathy," in April, led to an emotional discussion of the way Jesus empathizes--"Jesus wept," John 11:35--as one of us, with our hurts and sorrows. Hebrews 4:15 says,

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  

We shared the empathy we have received and given in our journey of loss. May's topic, "Please Don't Say That!" says it all.What we don't want is quick quips or false hopes. We need to recognize that "we live in a fallen world, and it often falls on us." We want what Jesus told us in John 16:33:

I have told you these things that in Me you might have peace. In this world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.

"Peace. With one word Jesus quiets the quest of our soul. We thirst for peace--shalom, wholeness, stillness, rest, healing. Take heart. Hope. Come alive again....If all we do is talk about life's losses, then that too fails to tell the whole story. We need to be able to deal with life's losses in the context of God's healing."

The June 15 meeting (which I missed due to my Chicago trip with son Steven) was a balloon launch in honor of our loved ones who have gone to heaven before us.

Today we discussed, "Don't Let Grief be Contagious." and we discussed this contrast: grief is a wound, not a sickness, and loss isn't contagious. We were asked to color in the emotions that best describe us--today.

I colored in three choices in the "Tangled Ball of Grief," whereas many of the ladies selected several. I first colored "Yearning," because I wish that my "Original Steve" was still with me. But I had to admit "Relief," because of the tormented, anguished, lost, helpless person he became in his last years.Then I had to acknowledge "Loneliness'" because I don't have a certain, intimate, soul mate to do life with any more. That doesn't mean I am not joyful and happy with the life God has designed for me most of the time, it's just a fact. I am now single, not married.

As we talked, some shared their feeling of being lost, others had wise counsel for relating to others who want to know how to talk with you about your loved one. Let them know it's all right to talk about them. One gal found it wonderfully comforting to re-read her sympathy cards, and others concurred. I believe I will do that tonight!

Our lesson ended with Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV):

Do not be anxious for anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.