Sometimes when we are feeling down and out, we need to be reminded of others and their journey of survival. This little gem is recommended reading from Good Ground Press. Another story of faith. Enjoy!
Just published:The Dance of Creation Labyrinths of Healing Prayer and
Author Mayr Boros has survived pancreatic and breast cancer. Her work with art and the labyrinth have provided both focus and healing during her recoveries. Readers will embark on their own remarkable journeys of light in the colors, shapes, paths, and simple words of prayer on these pages.
$20.00 per copy. Order online or call 800-232-5533 today.
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Today I read a Facebook entry by Tyler Perry in which he was paying homage to his mother. He tells a story about how she would give him flannel PJ's every Christmas and how they were always too small. He kept them and is now reminded of her love. Although he couldn't ever wear the PJ's he kept them and now find happiness in remembering how happy it made her feel to give to her son what she died believing was his favorite gift.
The joy that he now feels every time he sees them is a gratitude filled with love. To experience his mother's love and feel grateful for her love is the gift provided by the "too small" PJ's he gracefully accepted each year.
Look around you and remember the special times spent with your love ones and friends. Sometimes when we are lost in the gloom and doom, we need only to remember a kindness shared with a friend or love one and that is sure to brighten your spirit.
Let's find something to be grateful for this holiday season. After all "Gratitude is but a thankful attitude!"
Grief is such an unexpected visitor! It seems to come from nowhere. In reality we know that it was tucked away just waiting for an entry, but we like to think of it being "controlled."
Today I had a visit. Although, it seemed to come from nowhere, it was just a quiet moment, shared between loved ones. I was sitting enjoying a quiet time, when thoughts of my deceased brother came to mind. First I smiled and then the tears started to roll.
There wasn't anything uncomfortable about it, in fact is was a very happy moment. I wanted to capture it so I blogged a message, "Gentle tears of love I offer in memory of "You." It was a very warm and happy feeling. Sometimes we have to say, "Thanks for the memories."
The Christmas season ends this weekend. For some of us, it cannot end soon enough. In our grief, we find all of this frivolity just too much to bear. But something has been happening over the last four weeks. Something real that we cannot stop. It happens every year at this time. The sun is becoming a little brighter, the days a little longer. As we emerge from the season of Christmas, we are also experiencing the rhythm of life. We cannot escape it. We might not want to walk away from the intensity of our grief - but we do, slowly as the sun increases, we will find ourselves experiencing God's peace. The sun will reach our faces and we will smile. At the face of a child. At a small puppy at play. At the leaf buds on the roses, gradually coming forth. At the memory of the ones gone before us.
Advent is a time for Christians to prepare for the coming of our Lord and Saver Jesus Christ. Traditionally it begins four weeks before Christmas, the day chosen to celebrate and witness His birth.
There are many preparation celebrations, all of which include prayer. Part of the CCCB's (Catholic Churches of Central Buffalo) support for this great occasion is to hold weekly retreats. Each week of Advent focuses on a theme. The first week was "faith." The second week is "peace" and it is this theme that I will ask you the reader to focus.
How do we find peace when we are grieving? In Exodus 13:17-22 God is described as a "pillar of cloud by day, and a column of fire by night." Usually, when we think about clouds we think about doom and gloom. Seldom do we think that the fog might be a mask covering and protection us against harm until we reach the light. Fire is often associated with pain and destruction. In the passage the fire provides protection and light.
Grief is for real! There is no doubting that fact. Grief is a lonely place to be, but our faith teaches us that God is always present. Can you reach through your cloud and touch the guiding hand of Christ? Can you trust your burning desire to be at peace and allow God to heal your broken heart?
During this Advent season reach into your heart and find your story. Put Christ into you story and find peace. What is your faith story?
Have a Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas!
Usually we think about grief we think about "death," but death isn't the only thing which makes us grieve. Loss is the action which brings on grief and there are many types of loss experiences encountered during the day to day life functions.
There is the loss of jobs, relationships, health, possessions, and of course the ultimate loss of life. The grieving process can easily occur during all of these situations. I guess the idea I'm advocating has more to do with the experience itself then the reason for it.
What is the grieving process? Does it exist? Is there an order of how we must feel? Is it inherited? Is it something we do because the textbook dictates it? All of these questions have led me to writing this article. Most of the experts agree that there is definitely a coping mechanism in place which allows humans to respond to loss. Most research claims there is not right or wrong way to deal with loss and the textbooks have only managed to record the reactions found to be most commonly experiences by humans.
In fact Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Psychiatrist coined the five stages mostly repeated and most readily acceptable as the "Five Stages of the Grieving Process" http://www.helpguide.org/mental/grief_loss.htm. Those stages are the following:
1. Denial - This stage of disbelief and acceptance usually shows up as shock. The information is just too unhappy to accept on face value. often we even cry out "Oh, no!"
2. Anger - This is sometimes the armor used to guard against the pain. the feeling of helplessness becomes unbearable and so we shield our vulnerability behind anger.
3. Bargaining - We need to feel better and we begin to bargain by rationalizing and often times making promises.
4. Depression - This emotion often presents itself as sadness, worry, regret, anxiety, anguish, distress and heartache.
5. Acceptance - It seems to me this must be the hardest step to reach. Certainly it must be a very personal endeavor. The act of receiving and accepting bad news is undoubtedly easier for some than others.
Surrounding oneself with family, friends and other support groups can also be helpful in getting you through these dreadful times, but through all of the steps I can't help but believe that with faith you are more likely to be comforted. As Christians it helps to believe that grieving is a faith filled journey!
(For more information visit http://www.ekrfoundation.org/)
2006 was quite the year for us. In January we learned that my husband's mother had an inoperable cancer. There were, as there often are, many ups and downs. My mother-in-law and I had never really gotten along very well and I had tried to really talk to her, to let her know how much I appreciated the wonderful gift of her son. I offered to visit for three weeks to help with whatever she wanted. In February, she graciously said that she would need me later, please wait. My husband called her weekly and she told us that the cancer was shrinking and that she was doing much better, though we knew it was not going to go away.
We finally made plans to visit our youngest son in Los Angeles. Just before we were to leave for Los Angeles (and on my 50th birthday) our daughter made a trajic decision to drink and drive. I learned that morning that she had been in an accident. She was not injured but the motorcyclist she hit was very seriously injured and our daughter was in jail.
The night before, we had stayed up working on another project, a proposal for the Journey in Faith and Grace that eventually kept our parish open, but sadly involved the closure of others. While we were working on that, I picked up a message to call my sister-in-law, because her mother was in the hospital. The cancer had spread to her brain, and we needed to go there.
They were able to shrink the tumors and she went home. So we continued with our plans to travel. A few days before we were to leave, my husband's boss told him that he had to cancel his vacation and go to a company meeting. This meeting had been moved to a month earlier without notice. For 17 years he had worked 60+ hour weeks and denied himself vacations and almost all weekends. Our family had given up much, but he had had enough and said that he was taking this trip anyway.
The trip went well and we went to Disney Land and the World Science Fiction Convention (you'd have to know my husband to understand) and we went to the beach. We had a great time. Then, we went home.
I went camping with the Girl Scouts. It rained all weekend and everything we had with us was covered in mud. We got home late on Sunday. Monday we were back at work and the kids were in school when I got another one of those phone calls from my husband's sister. His mother was hemorrhaging and it could not be stopped. "Come now," she said. I closed my office, packed and picked up the kids at school. We got lost in the dark taking a "short cut" and my mother-in-law died before we arrived. My husband's anguished cries pierced the mountain quiet. The next week was an emotion-filled blur, ending with her funeral and a stop at my brother's for our Family Thanksgiving. We went from sadness to celebrating over night, but my husband wanted us to be with everyone else.
Just 14 days later our Buffalo world was blanketed in thick heavy snow. We did not lose power, but many did and my husband worked during daylight only selling batteries and flashlights. Then, he lost his job just a few days before Thanksgiving. I was very worried about him, because he lost both his mother and his job within six weeks.
I will never forget that year, 2006 changed my life. In some ways negatively, I lost the chance to make real peace with my mother-in-law and I experienced economic uncertainty for the first time in many years. It changed things for the better in many ways, we have both learned to seize opportunities to celebrate together, to make peace with our family, to treasure little things, to not put off our time together, to pray together, and to not let the secular world take over our lives (AKA a job.) We both began to do more with our families and the grandchildren who live with us. We also learned to prepare for our future and then to let God take over. Look again at all that snow. Is God telling YOU to slow down and to let him embrace you?
A year ago, I received a telephone call from my sister-in-law telling me that my oldest brother was on life support and the doctors were encouraging her to "pull the plug." She and my brother had discussed this prior to his illness so she refused
following his instructions.
I immediately put in action plans to join her in her time of need. Before I could finish making my plans, she called to inform me that he had opened his eyes and was responding to the examination questions. Everyone including the doctors were puzzled.
When I arrived in North Carolina, I found my brother fully conscious and demanding to be released to go home. As miraculous as this was he still needed hospital care so we convinced him to stay a few more days. I drove my brother home from death's door three days later.
I mention this because a week ago, I found myself locked out of my house and for a split second, I imagined every worst scenario possible. It was a Saturday night which lingered into early Sunday morning and I immediately paniced to think that I would be locked out until Monday.
It is ironic that my brother was there helping me resolve this unfortunate mishap. I think this was the Lord's way of saying to me." Calm down Cynthia, things could be worst." Sometimes we just need to put things into it's proper perspective.
Well, to make a long story short my BFF (best friend forever) had to come to my rescue (at the risk of her own peril) and helped save the day. I did get into my house and all ended well.
However, there is a moral to this story! It is similar to the old adage my mother told me when I was a child. I goes like this "There was a man who complained that he had no shoes until he met the man who had no feet."
I had just spent a pleasant evening with my brother who a year ago was pronounced dead. If I had been locked out a week I couldn't compare hardships.
God is good everyday all day!
For now, there are two of us! We each have our own experiences of God, family, life and loss. We hope to add other contributors, too. Feel free to comment or ask questions or visit our resources or contact us to make an appointment with someone on staff for counseling.
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