When life changes – but you don’t want to

If we are fortunate, every so often we find a sweet spot in life . . . a time when our relationships and circumstances seem just right.  We are thriving and feel safe and happy.   And then something outside of our control happens.  Life changes—even though we don’t want it to.

thhg5zd0z4The first time I experienced it, I was only eight.  My dad was starting a new career, and we had to relocate half-way across the country. I remember the anxiety and sadness I felt over having to leave the only home I had ever known.

Similar feelings resurfaced as my high school days came to a close.  I dreaded the transition that would scatter my close friends and propel me into the unknown. Yet the hands of time dictated that a season in my life was over. 

As an adult, the pattern has repeated itself several times when circumstances beyond my control changed my world.  Sometimes it happened suddenly, like the day my house went up in flames. Other times it was a longer-term process, such as experiencing the stages of eldercare.

And now, I feel it happening again. Continue reading “When life changes – but you don’t want to”

God is Good . . . some of the time?

sacred-datura-flower-from-anza-borrego-desert-725x544[1]

I stood wearily outside the mortuary, listening to the elderly woman share about her husband’s recent passing.

“We were on our way to visit family. He just got into the car, closed his eyes and he was gone!” She went on to describe how it was such a blessing that he went so fast and painlessly, exclaiming, “God is so good!”

My father had passed away just two days before her husband, and his death was long and drawn-out. All I could say in return was, “it didn’t work out that way for my dad.”

Since that encounter, I’ve been more aware of when people use the phrase, “God is good.” And I’ve noticed that they typically say it when something positive has happened.

God answered a prayer the way they wanted it.

God healed someone.

God provided something they needed.

God made something easier.

Which begs the question: Is God only good when life is good? In other words, is God only good – some of the time? Continue reading “God is Good . . . some of the time?”

Saying Farewell to Mom and Dad’s House

My co-worker and I were discussing plans for spring break from the college where we work.  “I’m going home,” she declared.  I knew this meant she would be traveling to visit her mom and dad several thousand miles away.   Though married and middle-aged, home was still where her parents lived.

Mom and Dad at door
Dad and Mom

I could relate.  The places where my mom and dad resided always represented “home” to me, no matter what my age.  Their house possessed an irresistible magnetic force, especially during the holidays.  It was where I could drop in anytime, be warmly welcomed, and stay as long as I wanted.  Mom and Dad’s home represented familiarity, comfort, love, and security.  It was my soft place to land.

Even after mom passed away eight years ago, dad remained living in their house, so it continued to serve as a central gathering place for our family.  For years I dreaded the day when dad would no longer be able to live there and my brothers and I would be faced with dissolving his estate.  Though I knew it was inevitable, the thought overwhelmed me—not only because of the magnitude of the task, but because it would mean losing my home base.

This past fall that time sadly arrived for our family.  After our dad’s health turned, we were faced with disassembling his home filled with a lifetime of memories. Continue reading “Saying Farewell to Mom and Dad’s House”

Dying Peacefully

Apparently David Bowie did it.  The New York Times reported on January 11, 2016 that the rock icon “died peacefully.”

In fact, I’ve noticed that the phrase “died peacefully” crop ups up frequently in eulogies and obituaries.  “John Doe died peacefully, surrounded by his family.”  So perhaps it shouldn’t have taken me so off-guard when someone leaned in and probed, “Did your dad die peacefully?” 

I stood there dumbstruck, unsure how to answer.   I had just come through a grueling nine days of bedside vigils.  I wasn’t sure what the intent of the question was – did he want to know whether my dad looked serene at the actual moment of death?  Was he grasping to find out if my father’s dying process was comfortable and “easy?”  Was he somehow trying to ease the sting of his own grief by receiving an affirmative answer?

Continue reading “Dying Peacefully”

When Sudden Death Strikes

th[2]My coworkers and I received the sad news last week that one of our colleagues had passed away. It was a shocking revelation to many, as few knew how ill he was.   Only a few days before his death he had learned that he had stage four cancer.  Most employees hadn’t even heard about the diagnosis, let alone that he was near death. As I sat with my coworkers at his funeral just days ago, many of us were still reeling from the abrupt loss. I couldn’t help but think back to the first time I was faced with the sudden death of a colleague. I was much younger—in my late-twenties, and Jeannette’s passing hit me with much greater intensity. We had not only been teammates in a tight-knit Christian camping ministry,  we were very close friends and neighbors. The post below is based on the article I wrote in response to my first experience with sudden loss and grief. It also turned out to be my first published piece in a national Christian magazine. Continue reading “When Sudden Death Strikes”