God is Good . . . some of the time?

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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?”

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”

Trusting God When People Screw Up

My dad’s world (and my family’s world) changed dramatically this month. It started with a phone message alerting me that dad wasn’t answering the door for his noon “Meals on Wheels” delivery.  I wasn’t initially too concerned, because sometimes he doesn’t hear the doorbell.  So I tried calling dad and left a message. Five minutes later I tried again. When another few minutes had elapsed, my anxiety began to rise.   I called my cousin’s husband who lives around the corner from dad and asked him to check things out.

My relative called with an urgent tone in his voice moments later to let me know that he had found dad collapsed on the floor, unable to get up.  Dad was still wearing his night clothes, so we estimated he had been there at least five hours.   His “Life Line,” which would have detected the fall, was later found on his bathroom counter. Continue reading “Trusting God When People Screw Up”

15 Things I Learned From My Mom

17380_1241132102235_5613963_n[1]This time of year causes most of us to pause and think about motherhood. For me, Mother’s Day is a bittersweet time, not only because I’ve never had the privilege of being a mom, but because my own mother is in heaven. Her birthday always falls close to (and sometimes on) Mother’s Day, making May a month I find myself missing my sweet mama more intensely. But this time of year also provides a great opportunity to remember the tremendous influence she had on my life. In a spirit of celebration and gratefulness, here are fifteen things I learned from my mom.

1. Pray often. My mom believed in the power of prayer, and I am confident that her intercession helped make me who I am today.   Knowing that she continually prayed for me provided peace during many stressful moments. If I was taking a final exam, mom was praying. If I was struggling with a life decision, I knew she was joining with me in seeking God’s will.  I have no doubt her prayers for my safety kept me from many unseen calamities, and I  believe some of her requests are still being answered today.  Her example of “praying without ceasing” inspires me to do the same.

2. Value education.  As the eldest of 13 children in a farming family, my mom was forced to drop out of school in seventh grade. Even with little formal education and having to learn English as a second language, her aptitude to learn was obvious.  In her forties, she finally had the opportunity to obtain her G.E.D.  Although she never had the chance to pursue higher education, mom wanted all of her children to do so.  She was a key part of my education, teaching me to read by the time I entered kindergarten. She continued to encourage my education all the way through college, when she not only sacrificed financially, but even helped me study sometimes.  Perhaps it’s a fitting tribute to her that I work at a college today, helping others achieve their educational dreams. Continue reading “15 Things I Learned From My Mom”