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Regrets: Re-think, Release, Relax

 I was part of the sandwich generation, hash to be exact. I took care of my sick mother for sixteen years while my children grew from toddlers to college students. We stopped counting how many times I left my family to take her to the emergency room. She lived with us most of that time, but finally moved to a senior housing facility,which she enjoyed.The Saturday night before she died was just like any other, except it was raining rhinos and elephants.  I knew she didn’t feel well. In fact, I had taken her to the doctor the day before. That still small voice kept telling me to go see her. Instead, I cleaned out a chest of drawers in my guest room. After church the next day, I called to check on her. She was worse. I promised I would take her to the emergency room, but I waited until after dinner. The doctor admitted her. At least fifty times before, I stayed with her until she went to her room, but not this time.  I went home and went to sleep. At five o’clock the next morning the ringing phone jarred me out of bed. The calm female voice said, “Your mother is not breathing. She is in Code Blue. Do you want us to try to resuscitate her?”

Even though she had an advanced directive I said, “Yes, please,” and jumped into my clothes. She died before I arrived. I’ll never forget the way they left her body in that hospital room. With her head thrown back from the attempts to revive her, she looked like an old rag doll tossed aside by a pre-teen girl in search of a boyfriend. I regretted that I couldn’t tell her good-bye.

Five days later we went to Florida on a college visit with my daughter. I  ignored my grief during the day, but at night my mind kept rehearsing the two days before my mother died – the “what if’s”  kept me awake.  I thought, “What if I listened to the still, small voice that told me to go see her on Saturday. If I had gone, she might have lived.” NO!” I was believing a lie. I had to rethink my regrets. I finally concluded that it was my mother’s time to die. God called her home the moment she took her last breath. When her spirit left her body the pain left, too, and God replaced it with joy.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) speaks about that:                                                          “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I had no power over death or the shame and regret I  felt for ignoring the still, small voice. God took my mother to heaven at the time He appointed for her to die and Jesus took my shame on the cross. When I rethought my regrets, I released the shame, and relaxed. I miss my mother, but I know Jesus has her safely in His arms. I also learned to listen and respond to that still, small voice. Regrets can be a weight that ensnares us. Give them to Jesus and set yourself free to run the race of faith.

Churches Can Help Grieving Children

 Growing Seasons: Helping Children Heal from Divorce and Other Losses

                                                                 

When children lose a parent, due to divorce, death of a parent or other reason, they feel lonely, afraid, sad, and angry. Churches can help. Growing Seasons groups are for children ages four through twelve. They include a Bible story, fun activities, new friends, and a chance to talk about their feelings. The Parent Guide gives parents and guardians ideas on how to help their hurting children. The curriculum includes ten sessions for three ages groups. Ages four to five, grades one through three and grades four through six. Each session runs for ten weeks.

Follow this link  that will allow you to flip through the pages of the Growing Seasons Curriculum.

http://store.livingfree.org/Growing-Seasons-Coordinators-Guide_p_162.html

Discovering Jesus in the Faces of Grief

You may have heard the word “grief” all your life, but you never had anyone tell you exactly what it means. You could be in the midst of it now and still not understand. Grief, this confusing, devastating, volatile mixture of emotions, is a natural response to any loss: death, divorce, loss of health, familiar surroundings, or treasured possessions. Grief affects the mind, body, and spirit. It seems impossible to concentrate or think clearly enough to make even the simplest decision. The body reacts in unexpected ways: pain, sickness, sleeplessness, difficulty breathing, over-whelming fatigue for some, and for others, amazing bursts of energy. For some, grief brings a deeper, more satisfying walk with their Lord. Others build a massive wall between them and their Savior.

Surely, all who take the journey through grief find that it transforms their relationship with God. For example, Susan, a college student, had a sharp drop in her grades after her divorce. She tried to deny the pain, but it showed. The stress caused the skin on her face to turn a bright red and she quickly gained twenty pounds. Despite this, she learned to depend on God to help her though the sleepless nights. On the other hand, Stephen has not been to church since he lost his son more than ten years ago. He, like many, is mad at God. Even now, he continues grieving for his son.

Normal grief is an essential part of healing. Abnormal grief occurs when a person withdraws too long, pushes others away, or becomes bitter and depressed. Unresolved grief may bring on the symptoms of the illness of the loved one who died, or cause involvement in detrimental activities such as drugs, alcohol, or other addictions. It can even affect the immune system and increase the risk of cancer. Grief seems like a silent enemy, but if you face the enemy head-on, it can become your friend.

The Bible says that Jesus was “A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53:6 [NKJ] We know that He has not asked us to experience anything He has not experienced, so we know He understands. One of the hardest parts of the grief process is the loneliness. Jesus must have felt lonely in the Garden of Gethsemane and even more so on the cross. He endured that for His children, so we can have a relationship with Him and so He could send us the Comforter to help us. Take your grief to Him. Tell Him about the pain. Let Him comfort you in your time of sorrow. He will get you through the lonely nights and it will get better.