A Tribute to Mom

March 2, 2013
Last Time with Mom Alive at 100

Last Time with Mom Alive at 100

Mom died on Feb 20.  The last time I was with her alive was November 3, 2012 at her 100th birthday celebration.  At the funeral service last week, Pastor Doug Smith paid tribute to her life that quietly impacted hundreds of people.  He emphasized our rich heritage of godly ancestors through several generations and also the way our family is currently involved in serving the Lord for the kingdom of God.   Several things I will remember her for are (1) she was more comfortable serving others that being served, (2) she always tried to do what was right, (3) she loved children, and (4) her life exemplified the popular slogan of the depression: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

My sister wrote this poem as she reflected on this very significant lady:

O, Mom, the things your life has seen:

In your childhood home, electric was not there,

Nor running water out of a faucet

When at night you climbed the stair.

You saw your first airplane in the sky

And automobiles were a treat,

Television and telephones were in the future

You were happy to have enough to eat.

World War 1 and then the Depression,

World War 2 took lives too soon.

The years rolled on and by and by

A man took a walk on the moon.

With a good marriage to an upstanding man,

Times were a little better and not as tough.

You raised your children and helped others

Somehow there was always enough.

Looking back on a hundred years

Gives us a reason for pride

To have lived in those remarkable days

Where strength triumphed

and conveniences arrived.

So here’s a bundle of loving thoughts

And honor that’s fit for a queen;

We’re amazed as we stand reminiscing…

O, Mom, the things your life has seen.

In the darkness of grieving, certain scriptures come to light.  “A good name is better than a good ointment.  And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.”            (Ecclesiastes 7:1)

Help Children of Divorce

January 17, 2012

Kids suffer from divorce.  My heart goes out to these boys and girls who often demonstrate more common sense about getting along than their parents.  They face an enormous adjustment for which no kid is equipped without some help.   Now, KidWorks provides that help.  Here’s a note from Rob Pine, the Executive Director, ChristianWorks for Children, highlighting a strong leader, Monica Epperson, and a ten-year-old boy of divorced parents, Cody.   Watch the video, read their story, let your heart respond with some kind of support.   They need facilitators as well as financial support.  Are children important?  Jesus thought so: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  (Matthew 19:14)

Rob writes:

God directed Monica Epperson our way to serve Him and join us as a National Representative for KidWorks, to develop and distribute materials, and to train others across the country.  She has a powerful story of her own as a child of divorce, and she has a passion to help children defeat the fears and worries that accompany that experience.  The author of two children’s books, Bounce and A Heart with Two Homes, Monica provides personal and heart-rendering insight into the issues that children of divorce face and into how KidWorks effectively addresses those issues.   She writes about this in a posting on the ChristianWorks.

It was a typical night at KidWorks, and all the groups had been in session for awhile.  The topic for the evening was Fears and Worries. One of the Middles’ facilitators suddenly appeared with a little boy named Cody who had asked to leave the group. Cody was obviously having a hard time that evening and began to cry. Our KidWorks Coordinator listened as he explained he wanted to leave because he didn’t want to cry in front of the other kids. In Cody’s own words, he expressed that “Fourth graders are too big to cry, but I know it’s alright to cry.” This exceptional ten year old boy must have felt very torn. As the conversation continued, he eventually shared what was behind the tears. His divorced parents continued to fight in front of him even while talking on the phone. The public display of his parent’s inability to get along was a big worry for him. After a bit of conversation, and composure on Cody’s part, he was ready to go back into the group. He felt better!

Cody was really brave to share as he did. He was brave enough to cry, even though it was not in front of the other kids. As is often the case with children of divorce, his pain and hurt were deeply rooted. Being able to release the pain and hurt is a step in the healing process.  KidWorks is a safe place where kids can share their deepest hurts along with their fears and
worries. Group facilitators help kids like Cody learn to address issues of divorce as well as help them learn coping skills to deal with those issues.

You can contact the KidWorks Coordinator, Beverly Ritz at britz@christian-works.org, for more information.

Suffering . . . Why, O God?

August 15, 2011

Men who are highly spiritual don’t draw much attention to themselves. They tend to be quiet and unassuming.  They rely on the Holy Spirit to get things done.  They allow other people, and particularly God, to get the glory.  Larry Waters is such a man.  He had an idea.  The idea turned into a class.  The class led to a book.  Hopefully, the book will result in many changed lives.  Why, O God? is a book about suffering.  Both Larry Waters and Roy Zuck have experienced their share of suffering.  They have pulled together a lot of contributors to produce a book worthy of our time to read.


The main thesis of the book revolves around what we believe are weaknesses in many churches, and the Christian community as a whole, concerning a proper application and biblical response to suffering and disability.

Dr. Waters was interviewed by a local Christian radio station, KCBI, recently and the full full Interview is transcribed on the Bible X blog.

Dr. Waters is presently Associate Professor of Bible Exposition, and also teaches for the World Missions and Intercultural Studies department. Before joining the faculty of Dallas Seminary he served as a missionary in the Philippines from 1973 to 1999. His worldwide ministry continues, primarily in the Philippines. He is the author of Bible and Missions curriculum for the Internet Biblical Seminary connected with BEE World, and a New Testament Survey for a large missionary organization. Larry also serves as a Member of theBibliotheca Sacra Editorial Advisory Committee.


A Better Way to Grieve?

January 31, 2010

Every once is a while, we hear a fresh, more realistic, explanation of the grieving process.  An article in the January 31, 2010 issue of The New Yorker Magazine provides just that.  I’ve written about this before, and since then haven’t heard much more worth repeating until now.

Here’s a well-written summary of the article from Diane Sollee, Director of Smart Marriages:

Fantastic, very helpful overview of the latest books and research attempting to make sense out of the grief phenomenon – concluding that it’s less about neatly packaged stages (Kubler Ross) and more of an amazing undulating process “with a level of fluctuation that is nothing short of spectacular.”

Also, that:  “A 2007 study . . .  found that the feeling that predominated in the bereaved subjects was NOT depression or disbelief or anger but YEARNING.  “. . .  drawing on work by John Bowlby,  an early theorist of how human beings form attachments, noted that [in grief] we feel alarm because we no longer have a support system we relied on. . . . .  we continue to search illogically (and in great distress) for a loved one after a death.  After failing again and again to find the lost person, we slowly create a new assumptive world, in the therapist’s jargon, the old one having been invalidated by death. Searching, or yearning, crops up in nearly all the contemporary investigations of grief.  (Which fits this passage, one of my favorite on grief) from Christopher Buckley’s book, written about his grief following the death of his mother and father, in close order:

It comes in waves. One moment you’re doing fine, living your life, even perhaps feeling some sort of primal sense of liberation . . .  Then in the next instant, boom, there it is. It has various ways of presenting, as doctors say of disease.  Sometimes it comes in the form of a black hole inside you, sucking the rest of you into it; at other times it is a sense of disconnection, as if you had been holding your mother’s hand in a crowd and suddenly she let go.)

And, back to the New Yorker article:

“Perhaps the stage theory of grief caught on so quickly because it made loss sound controllable. The trouble is that it turns out largely to be a fiction, based more on anecdotal observation than empirical evidence. Though Kübler-Ross captured the range of emotions that mourners experience, new research suggests that grief and mourning don’t follow a checklist; they’re complicated and untidy processes, less like a progression of stages and more like an ongoing process‹sometimes one that never fully ends. Perhaps the most enduring psychiatric idea about grief, for instance, is the idea that people need to “let go” in order to move on; yet studies have shown that some mourners hold on to a relationship with the deceased with no notable ill effects. (In China, mourners regularly speak to dead ancestors, and one study has shown that the bereaved there suffer less long-term distress than bereaved Americans do.)  At the end of her life, Kübler-Ross herself recognized how far astray our understanding of grief had gone.  In “On Grief and Grieving,” she insisted that the stages were “never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages.”  If her injunction went unheeded, perhaps it is because the messiness of grief is what makes us uncomfortable.”


To say that grief recurs is not to say that it necessarily cripples. Bonanno argues that we imagine grief to be more debilitating than it usually is.  Despite the slew of self-help books that speak of the “overwhelming” nature of loss, we are designed to grieve, and a good number of us are what he calls “RESILIENT” mourners.  For such people, he thinks, our touchy-feely therapeutic culture has overestimated the need for “grief work.”


Interesting commentary on grief becoming a private process and the loss of
public rituals, etc around the time of the overwhelming losses of World War I.

How to Handle Loss with Dignity

January 2, 2009

book-coverI just received a promotional piece on a new book that deals with a godly view of tragedy and suffering.  I responded to this one because the forward is written by Dr. Stephen Seamands (whom I like) who is from Asbury Theological Seminary (which I like) and the book included a lot of good quotes (which I appreciate because of their pithy depth)

The book is called Tragic Redemption: Healing the Guilt and Shame: by Hiram Johnson

The message is one of hope following a series of tragic losses.

Topics include depression, grief, alcoholism, suicide, childhood tapes, embracing our weaknesses, co-dependency, prayer, blessing, acceptance, intimacy, joy, the value of scars, and finding redemptive purpose and meaning in heartache and loss.  Wow!

The memorable quotes are as follows (I wish I could craft words like this):
“The extreme greatness of Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering but a supernatural use for it.”  French Philosopher Simone Weil (1909-1943)
“Repressions are the power that makes one work against all the avowed and willful intentions. They are strong because they are deep in the vows of the child of the past.” Myron Madden
“Hope is a memory of the future.”  Gabriel Marcel
“When we avoid pain, we avoid healing.” author
“We belong to the power we choose to obey.” J.B. Phillips
“A thorn in the flesh is nothing in comparison to a thorn in our conscience.” Charles Spurgeon
“Pity can be described as falling in love with our sorrow.” author
“Many guilt ridden people take an unconscious pleasure from suffering.” author
“What happens within us is more important than what happens to us. We can not always choose the latter, but we can choose the former.” David Seamands
“Within every process of forgiveness, there is enshrined a great agony.” Macintosh
“Shame is a hemorrhage of the soul.” Jean Paul Sartre
“What comes into our mind when we first think of God is the most important thing about us.” A.W. Tozer
“I believe that Christ died for me because its incredible; I believe that He rose from the dead because its impossible.” author unknown
“The church is the only institution in the world whose membership is based on unworthiness.” Morrison
“Forgiving ourselves (or others) is taking a bold step into power.” author
“The problem is that people have enough to live by but nothing to live for, they have the means but no meaning.” Viktor Frankl

All this got me to thinking that suffering is a bummer mainly because it seems like the ruination of everything good and decent, the end of road.  God seems to see it differently, so I add one of my favorite quotes, not from the book, but from Paul in the Book (Romans 5:3)

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame,because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”