Grief, Understanding and Hope…

23 09 2018

I’ve been overwhelmed with grief this week & especially yesterday. Now that decisions were made & death is “done”… a sense of relief has come. But… the depths and cycles and seasons of grief continue. My dearest friend lost her father on Wednesday, September 19th. Then we put to sleep our dear sweet cat, Misty Rose on Saturday, September 22nd.

I remember after losing my brother (he was 26yrs. old) suddenly from a drunk driver in August 2005 and going to church between his death and funeral, a friend not knowing what occurred made an innocent comment, “why do you look so down, it’s not as if someone has died.” I was cut to the core by the insensitive statement. Later, she apologized profusely.

I once went to a conference just a few weeks after the death of my mother after a prolonged time in hospice care from cancer in September 1999. I attended one of the many workshops offered between the main sessions. It was entitled something along the lines of “Dealing with Death, Grief & Loss”. Granted, my emotions were raw, and why I chose this over others were mixed. However, I was completely unprepared for the opening remarks of the speaker, “I don’t know which is worse, the sudden death of a loved one or the gradual dying and death of a loved one. Having not experienced either one, I can only imagine what that might be like.” I remember promptly standing up in the middle of approximately 50-100 people and saying something like, “then what qualifies you to speak at all.” Then not waiting for an answer I walked out, sat down in an isolated corner and wept. Some friends came and silently comforted me.

I had experienced both kinds of deaths. Sudden unexpected ones, prolonged ones, and ones of elderly family members.

I had before and after that time lost others close to me, friends, family and my dear pets.

Recently, during this week of “death”, a friend mentioned “they would call and nothing would get in the way short of someone dying”. Unknown to them my dear friend’s dad was on death’s door and our cat was very ill.

I only bring these three examples to our attention because we often say things jokingly, sarcastically, or as “just a phrase or manner of speaking”. But often are “innocent” comments hurt deeply.

We should choose our words wisely and only speak truth in love. In the case of deep sorrow, even the words, “I understand” or “I know how you feel ” followed by “because I’ve been there.” Can cause intense pain and/or anger.

To be truthfully honest we truly do NOT understand nor do we know how another feels. Each death is uniquely different from every other one or other person’s perception of it.

Each person is uniquely different and each relationship with the loss of the loved one was uniquely different – this is true within families, this is true with each pet. The loss of a person or pet is felt differently and because we all process death in our own way, no two deaths will ever be the same.

Having said this, there are behavioral and psychological studies that show similarities about death – mainly that there are cycles of grief and loss that we can identify: Shock, Anger, Relief, Depression, Denial, Acceptance, etc. AND it’s not like it goes through “steps”, rather each phase can jump from one to another and then back again and then on to another.

Because grief is a process we need to be patient, kind, caring and compassionate providing comfort, a listening ear, even if memories or details are repeated. The same can be said of ourselves going through the grief: be kind, caring, compassionate and patient with ourself.

So as I grieve, I am doing one thing, giving myself permission to grieve and not “have it all together”.

I do grieve as one who has hope… my hope is in the Lord! He is the One, who truly understands ALL things, sees things so entirely clear, and can give comfort, healing and catch every tear in a bottle of remembrance. I look forward to that day, where there will be no more sorrow, death is destroyed, and every tear will be wiped away.

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When You’re Facing a Strange Time In Your Life – Julie Sunne

1 09 2018

God is trustworthy. But in this strange time of confusion and uncertainty will I surrender my concerns and trust Him? Yes, Lord, may it be so!
— Read on www.juliesunne.com/strange-time/





A Mother’s Love – Faith Encouraged

1 09 2018

A Mother’s Love – Faith Encouraged
— Read on blogs.ancientfaith.com/faithencouraged/2018/08/a-mothers-love-2/





Immigration Crisis-A Call for Compassion & Change.

21 06 2018
A good deed done in silence is more valuable - St. Nicolai Velimirovich

A good deed done in silence is more valuable – St. Nicolai Velimirovich

We have spent decades trying to deal with this immigration issue. Whether or not you like Trump or his administration this problem has been around since the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and the Obama administration and has been exacerbated by numerous elected officials on both sides of the aisle.

It was Obama (who also said all he could do was enforce the law & never signed an executive order to fix this), who militarized the border and opened the way for kids to come from the south. He created secret detention centers that housed around 4,000 kids until they age out at 18. Where was the outrage and protests then?

Here’s an investigative report by the Washington Post from BEFORE Trump took office:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/obama-administration-placed-children-with-human-traffickers-report-says/2016/01/28/39465050-c542-11e5-9693-933a4d31bcc8_story.html

I am thankful we are finally seeing the injustice and the failure of our immigration system.

We process asylum seekers from Middle Eastern, European or Asian areas of the world much differently than how we treat our neighbors south of the border.

Or do we simply leave it to the Christian Missionary to carry on the often thankless work (but rewarded by God) in these places where they’ve even endangered their own lives and families for the sake of others. But after all, Christian Missionaries are horrible with their ideas of right & wrong and morality. Never mind that they build homes, drinking wells, schools, teach literacy, help with clothes, food, farming & medical care — all through donations and volunteers.

Wouldn’t our millionaires & billionaires, politicians, sports heroes, music stars & acting artists of Hollywood consider putting their money where there mouth is? Shouldn’t these “talking media heads”, go to these countries and try to implement creative solutions to help these people be able to stay in their home country instead of just taking pictures and interviewing these people in their pain? How can someone film this stuff and NOT give, do, act… give up even 1/4 of their salary and contribute to a solution. It’s so easy to gripe, so hard to labor in the fields.

Now that Trump signed an executive order, people are still griping because the situation still exists. Do these people really expect a massive re-unification of families to happen over night? Many are critical that Trump changed his mind… who cares? At least he saw the problem, the protests and the outrage and he changed his mind and DID at least something. It takes guts to change a position to attempt to make things better.

People are just letting their feelings run wild without knowing the facts and the complexities, pointing fingers and pontificating, including religious leaders and politicians spouting Bible verses to justify their various positions.

Unfortunately we have officials trying to follow the law and congress has yet to fix our broken immigration system.

Did you know that thousands of children have been sent to the US borders by themselves, with no parent? What are we to do with these children, just release them into the packs of ravenous sex slave traffickers & work slave traffickers just waiting to snatch them up. It’s going to take time to pair up parents with children. Yes, it shouldn’t have happened but it did, and it will not be an overnight solution.

This recent video from ABC News talks about how big the complexities of this problem have become.

https://youtu.be/nmKhrd1GYS8

I hope we will look at ALL the facts before we begin to protest and judge others so harshly and publically shaming them. You may not agree with what you read but it all comes down to enforcing our laws. There is no justification here at all for what’s going on. So our elected officials continue to kick the can down the road or play dodge ball, or catch me if you can, or “oh no, not me, it’s not my fault.”.

As in politics and religion everyone has an opinion and everyone feels theirs is the “right” of it. I do agree that the system is broken. I do believe in enforcing our laws. I however also believe in COMPASSION. I personally don’t see anything wrong with children staying with parents until they are deported. Many refugee camps allow families to stay together. Must our detention centers look like prison?

I am not looking at it from a political stand point, I am looking at it as a compassionate, Christian, human being. I want us as a country to do the right thing but still have heart. Is that so hard? Why can’t there still be compassion? Remove politics & religious rhetoric and imagine the trauma of children missing their parents. Imagine the trauma of you not knowing where your child is and barely getting any answers? Yes, it’s risky & terrifying traveling from a war torn, or crime riddled, or leave your home because of persecution for whatever reason. As a parent it is a huge undertaking to uproot one’s family from a home often from roots that go back generations, to SAVE your family from starvation, kidnapping, rape, drug lords, murder, & other atrocities. To entrust your family & pay a smuggler who promises help & freedom. Some come in cargo boxes or trucks. If they make it here alive, they hope they’re not left to die, crammed, suffocating in 100 degree weather, packed like human sardines.

Then to finally arrive to America, land of the free, home of the brave, land of endless opportunities, and then they face what we now know as a horrifying situation… separation of families, parents deported without their children, and the children left in squalor conditions that resemble cages.

I don’t care which party is to blame. Let us truly treat others as we would want to be treated if we were in their shoes. Once again, let’s remove politics out of this situation and let’s have a heart. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Blessings on you.





Seasons, Thanksgiving and it’s “traditions”

23 11 2017

I love the “holidays”. Especially when Thanksgiving comes. For me it signals the beginning of the circle of the seasons. Beginning with Giving Thanks, the height of the fall/autumn/harvest season, the beginning of Advent, the soon coming winter Solstice the “darkest, longest night” of the year, followed by the birth of the Bright and Morning Star, the Sun (Son) Eternal, followed by Epiphany, the Lenten Spring, culminating in the Feast of Feasts, Pascha, the Resurrection of the Son of Man and Son of God, with the blessings of Pentecost where out of many tribes, tongues and nations we have the opportunity to become united in one Body, healing the divides between human beings and God, and between one another.

Tied up in Thanksgiving, I’m once again bothered by the “political correctness” that grips our American culture to the point of guilt, strangulation and making us prisoner to hide our desire to celebrate. This year’s disturbance caused me to jump on my “soapbox” because of reading a Facebook post which referenced another blog by Kathy Escobar, which you can read hear, A More Honest Thanksgiving.

I must say I do agree with much of what Kathy says,

“I don’t feel guilty for celebrating.

Gratitude is usually always a good thing. It heals. It helps bring light into darkness. It binds us together. It’s a spiritual practice.

But I also think it’s important to be more honest about the roots of Thanksgiving.

I read the Doctrine of Discovery a few years ago and the words have been embedded in my mind every since. Papal decrees in the 1400’s, it laid some of the tracks for what we live with today—oppression, discrimination, separation, and prejudice. All in the name of Jesus. The destructive roots of Christian colonialism are deep and strong.”

As many of you know I’m not one to keep quiet… (okay, you can stop laughing now). I did make my comments on both Facebook and her blog.

However, I thought I would post my more lengthy thoughts here…

Yes, what was later known as the “Doctrine of Discovery” was a power grab, land grab, conquering grab. (It originally started out as a series of Papal Bulls between Spain and Portugal over territorial disputes.)

But remember it was a time of those in power to conquer or be conquered. It was s time of state formations and migrations of large people groups.

Much of the lands of Christiandom had just come through an assault by the Saracens/Turks/Islam with the bulk of Christians martyred and killed for their faith and the ancient lands of Christianity and Judaism, much of North Africa and into a large portion of Europe were overrun by the Saracens.

Unfortunately it was also a time where Eastern Christians had already split with the West and unless they bowed to Rome they could expect no help with the Saracens. It is in this climate where Christians began to make protests against the abuses in the church by those in authority and often in collusion with Rulers of other countries (the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation), thus sojourner/pilgrims began traveling from one country to another to freely worship God yet they were ignorant that they were still slaves to a “superiority” mindset over “barbarians” engrained from the culture in which they were raised.

On to North Americans…

I finished reading a book called “1491” by Charles C Mann (2nd Edition) based on the most current archeological artifacts and narratives of the Americas. It has a very different point of view that I had not heard in this dialogue and may upset some of the “politically correct” narratives. His follow-up book 1493 was also fascinating.

It mentioned there was quite a bit of tribal warfare between opposing tribes along with disease wiping out entire tribes brought by European traders & slavers.

Another good read is “Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War” by Nathaniel Philbrick.

The basics of the back history to the Thanksgiving story is Chief Massasoit had been playing a political angle for better positioning and protection from an opposing tribal group. And there were two rival interpreters Squanto and another man (I can’t remember his name at this time) playing rival factions which all erupted in violence.

Chief Massasoit (smaller/weaker tribe) actually gave land with promised conditions of “my enemies are yours” so when another tribal group attacked, (a set up by one of the interpreters) the “pilgrims” were obligated to kill the opposing party. War broke out, and as in all wars there is decimation and devastation on both sides, but ultimately the settlers were the victors.

Long story short, rival tribal groups continued to play opposing sides with various European factions all the way up to the war of 1800’s. England was hiring one tribe to fight the newly formed United States of America who hired other native tribes to fight back.

Both European Americans and Native Americans were making promises that went unkept.

Along with European Americans having no idea that they brought diseases that native Americans had no immune system to fight against. They had a presumptuous false belief that God was blessing their “superior race” and punishing the heathens. Although many white people died from the small pox and influenza that swept through the colonies it did not wreck the devastation as it did on the natives.

As I mentioned before, we often forget this was a time period of European colonialism which spread across the globe. New political States/Countries we’re forming and boundary lines new constantly being redrawn.

Very different mindset and culture than we have today. The rise of Feudalism and “landed” people vs. “peasants”. It’s easy for us to slip into judgement of how “evil” the Western Caucasian Europeans were. But we should be cautious to label one “group of people” as the sole blame for “colonialism” when around the world it was s time of great upheaval and migration.

Let us also remember the conquests of the Asiatic cultures throughout Asia of one warring faction against another… names like: the Mongols, Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, the Sultans of the “tribes” of Central Asia, the Saracens, Turks & Islam conquests eventually known as the Ottoman Empire.

Maybe let us go all the way back to the various warring tribes since the time of Cain and Abel, the Tower of Babel, “Ishmael against Issac”, Africans warring against and enslaving each other, all over the world where differing tribes try to conquer other tribes, including Europeans against Europeans (English vs. Irish, Catholic vs. Orthodox, French vs. English, etc.) up to the present day where we have Shiite’s vs. Sunni’s, Zulu’s vs. Hutu’s, and more.

Us against Them… we are still fighting over resources and differences.

Thanksgiving is a reminder we all are part of, in some way, a guilty tribe of one or the other.

Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity and a time to lay down our “arms” and open up our “arms” to “embrace the other without loss of the self” as Miroslav Volf would say in the latest book I’m reading, “Exclusion and Embrace” (given to me by my sister, Dr. Deborah Dunn, PhD, professor at Westmont College, Santa Barbara).

Thanksgiving is a time to remember how one “tribe” (Native Americans) decided to help another starving “tribe” (European settlers fleeing persecution, exclusion or annihilation) to survive.

At that time and place, having a meal together to celebrate and give thanks, was to recognize the benefits of the mutual survival of both tribes, a time of peace and diversity and sharing a common table and giving thanks.

Perhaps we can still learn from the “first thanksgiving” and not just about the food, and football and Macy’s parades.

Perhaps we can still seek the image of our creator God in the face of the other person, including one we would deem as our enemy or “not like us”.

Truly, each individual is made in His image, each one has unique gifts, talents, skills to enhance our own lives as much as we have to enhance theirs. Their is a universal law of the Sanctity of a Human Life.

Let us remember, let us repent, let us forgive, let us let go of the pain, let us embrace, let us heal, let us give thanks for each other and the God who created us all and longs to embrace us into One Body… His Love!

Let us celebrate and give Thanks for each other, our blessings, our God. Happy Thanksgiving





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27 02 2017




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