Grief never dies.

Daddy died May 14, 1960. He was 46; I was 16. He had been scheduled for open heart surgery the following week, to replace a heart valve damaged by the rheumatic fever that daddy contracted during WWII. He’d had several heart attacks and was looking forward to regaining his health. But he had another heart attack in the middle of the night and this time, he died.

It was the night of my 11th grade Junior Prom, which I had reluctantly attended with some boy I didn’t really know, and whose name I can’t recall to this day. I had spent that evening sad, not knowing why, just sad. I’m sure my date had a miserable time.

I never recovered. I began dating guys mother didn’t approve of, marrying Paul when I was 18, basically to get away from my unhappy mother. He was loving, he was kind, he would give anyone a helping hand or give them the shirt off his back – when he was sober. Unfortunately he was an alcoholic.

Mother died June 22, 1970. She had never recovered from Daddy’s death. She had become a full-fledged alcoholic, in and out of rehab, wrecking her car, hurting herself, attempting suicide several times over the next nine years. She shot herself in the head on June 28, 1969. It was my daughter’s 4th birthday. Her concerned pastor and other church friends sat in her living room, unaware of her plans as she walked out into the back yard and fired the shot.

She lived in a nursing home for nearly a year, eventually dying of pneumonia. Her beautiful hazel eyes were open but she was non-responsive, non-moving, although a friend told me years later that she went often to visit and was sure mother heard her as she read the Bible to her and prayed. She was sure mother responded to her questions with eye blinks. I seldom went to see her, never talked to her, thinking that she herself simply wasn’t there, lying so still on that hospital bed.

For many years after mother’s death, I had nightmares every few months. Really it was the same nightmare: Mother was missing. In the dreams I was looking for her everywhere, going from house to house, friend to friend, relative to relative, business to business. Mother’s car was still in her front yard, her purse was still there in the house, but she wasn’t there. Sometimes other people were helping me look for her, sometimes she had just vanished that day; other times I was the only one still looking, she had been gone for a long time. The content was always the same: Mother was missing.

(It wasn’t until shortly after Tim died that those nightmares stopped happening. One night Father God graciously gave me a vision of heaven where I saw Tim, Mother, and Daddy living and working, full of joy and eternal life. I never had another of those nightmares after that.)

I never recovered. My marriage fell apart when my husband and I couldn’t just make things work. Several years later I met and married Tim, a wonderful man. With the Lord’s help we faced many challenges, especially Tim’s health problems.

Tim died December 15, 2006. He fell at home, broke his leg near the hip, had surgery to repair it, had a heart attack in the recovery room and lived one day. No-one had thought Tim wouldn’t recover; he always recovered! He’d had so many health problems in his life, but he always recovered! Until that day.

I never recovered. For days, even weeks, I couldn’t sleep in a dark house. I turned on every overhead light, every lamp throughout the house and slept – although I didn’t sleep much – with the lights on. I couldn’t drive down certain streets in town, I would take various detours to avoid familiar streets. I couldn’t shop on certain aisles in the grocery store; that’s where I used to buy Tim’s favorite foods.

I couldn’t do medical transcription for a certain doctor’s practice any more. He had been Tim’s doctor; that was the waiting room where Tim would wait, listen to a little pocket radio, sometimes chat with other patients. I tried to continue but didn’t last more than a few days. I just couldn’t go into that waiting room, not even into that building. They said they understood.

Gradually I could turn off the lights at night, drive down those streets again, shop in those grocery aisles again. But there are still some things I don’t do. While a year later I donated most of Tim’s clothes to shelters, I have never thrown away some of Tim’s belongings. I kept a collection of his favorite neckties, ties I had bought for him. I kept his South Carolina ID card, his wallet, his cologne, his watch. I sleep in one of his undershirts.

People die. But grief? Grief never dies.

Some people will get this. Some won’t, the ones who think you’ll just “get over it.” Who say “Time heals all wounds.” No it doesn’t. Time may make the pain less, like a fading bruise. But underneath the invisible damage is still there, not throbbing as much but still there. Until…

          I never recovered – but I did heal.

There is a solution to grief. Even if grief doesn’t die, God can heal all wounds. Father God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit know exactly how grief feels. Accepting their understanding, comfort and healing is how I have survived intact, one more day, one more week, one more year.

I began writing a blog about heaven some months after Tim died. Maybe reading through those posts will help somebody else. Here’s my favorite one:  https://speakingofheaven.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/touching-base/

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Limitless capacity

“What are you like, Lord?” I asked him again, one night recently. I seem to ask that over and over. Who are you? What are you like? What do you like?

Those kinds of questions come to mind frequently, and sometimes I actually ask him, and he actually answers.

“Capacity. Do you know what that is?” he asked me. “Yes, I think so,” I said.

“Are you sure?” Well, of course then I wasn’t sure, so of course I looked it up. There are layers of meaning, I soon discovered. One refers to material facts, such as the number of gallons my car gas tank can hold. Another is psychological or mental ability, such as the potential for learning, understanding and retaining information. (Human brains, computers.) Still others are in the realm of physics, nuclear, space / time phenomena, metaphysical concepts. I had no idea there were so many nuances of definitions in that one little word.

“So, does that have to do with what you’re like, then?” I asked.

“Think limitless capacity,” he said, and began to show me some examples.

As images rolled through my mind’s eye, I realized that phrase doesn’t just describe what he is like, it describes what he does; what he does for his most treasured creation, man. Beginning before the beginning, God conceived his own idea, design, and construction of human beings and their habitat, the universe (or perhaps multi-verse).

Ideas. Inventions. Discoveries. Language. Wisdom. Understanding. Creations. Every branch of arts or science, every “ah ha” moment, every success in every field, at the moment it occurred depended on the capacity of the person involved to engender an idea, grasp a concept, understand the possibilities, calculate the logistics, remember the details, record the results, meditate on the whys and wherefores of failure.

And if they didn’t have the mental or emotional or educational capacity to get the thing done, the thing built, the thing accomplished, yet? Then the capacity needed was increased, enhanced and developed in that person or other person, even other generations of persons.

How long might it take to invent an airplane? How many ideas? How many principles? How many hours, years, attempts? (da Vinci’s ornithopter, above image.)

How long might it take to develop the math to calculate the distance of a light year, in miles? Or the usefulness of bread mold? To be curious enough to see if some things in dirt and grime and rot aren’t just dirty? (Think antibiotics.)

Or to realize that the sun doesn’t revolve around the earth? That the earth is not the only planet in our solar system? That our solar system isn’t the only one in our galaxy? That our galaxy isn’t the only one in our universe?

What gave space scientists the outrageous idea that they could land a spacecraft – the Rosetta spaceship’s Philae lander – on a comet?! And the technological know-how to do just that? (Also see https://bettecox.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/rosetta-and-the-comet/)

Who first suggested that an atom isn’t the smallest component of matter? Or that matter and energy are both forms of light? That concept is still being explored.

How to create a microscope, or a telescope, or a space camera?

Over the thousands of years of human history, every time the limit of material, creative, or inventive capacity was reached, stalemate happened. But it didn’t last, did it?

It doesn’t last, because the Creator, the God of limitless capacity, simply shares some of his own capacity with his most treasured creation. Ideas “happen.” Everything that has ever been discovered or invented came from him in the first place, dropped into a brain somewhere.

I meditated on all that for a few minutes, and then I heard his voice add this:

“When one of my people can’t find a solution to a problem, if they seek my help they will find it. If they need mercy, direction, insight, revelation knowledge – if they need more information, more wisdom, more ideas, more ability to calculate, more assistance, more understanding, more favor from other people, more patience, more strength, more stamina, more faith – they will find their capacity increasing in those areas.”

“Human capacity is limited. My capacity is limitless.”

I meditated some more. “So – what’s the goal of all this?” I asked him, not for the first time. And not for the first time, He said, “The universe is a big place, and eternity is a long time.”

The train of his robe

TrainOfHisRobeIsPeopleJesus-teachingIf you’re a regular reader, you probably wonder if I’ve given up writing posts. No, but in recent weeks I’ve found myself spending more and more time interceding for people, reading and studying about prayer and intercession, as well as keeping in touch with folks here at home and around the world.

Here’s a new post about something that happened the other night…

As I was praying and thinking about various things last night (June 7, 2016), the scripture song “I saw the Lord, he was high and lifted up and his train filled the temple” kept running around in my mind. (Isaiah 6:1)

I thought about articles that I’d read (or written) about his train, i.e. the long trailing hem of his kingly robes, and the idea that it completely filled up the temple. Then the Lord quietly interrupted my thoughts as he is apt to do and said…

“Do you know what I consider my train?”

“What, I asked? Something other than your robe?” So he showed me.

I saw him dressed in ordinary clothes such as Jesus wore on the earth. He just looked sort of like a grandfather surrounded by happy, laughing grandchildren. Small kids were playing around his legs, running around him in circles and tugging on his clothes as he walked, taking careful steps. They were obviously headed somewhere. Outside to a garden, maybe?

Spread out on either side and behind him as far as the eye could see were people of all ages, all races. Young children were the nearest ones to him, but just outside their ranks were teens and pre-teens, young adults and mature adults, smiling, gesturing and chatting with each other as they all kept pace with him.

Strolling along he would reach out and touch first one and then another, pat someone’s head, hug a child close for a moment, shake a hand, always smiling, walking along in a casual but steady gait. Where were they all going? I couldn’t tell and he didn’t say. What he did say was,

“This is my train, really – my children.”

And I realized as I looked closer, there were generations going all the way back to Adam and Eve! While all were his spiritual children, many were the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren – descendants of others in this tremendous throng.

It was amazing.

After a few moments I asked, “So you don’t actually wear robes with a long train, like a king on earth wears for ceremonial events? Like what Isaiah saw?”

“For formal occasions,” he answered with a chuckle, “but not for every day – it’s hard to get down on the ground to play with the kids, wearing all that…”

And with a wave as if saying “Later,” they continued on their stroll, the happy crowd keeping up with his steps.

As I drifted off to sleep, my mind drifted back many years. I recalled summer days playing outdoors with my own father, grandfather or uncles, several of us cousins laughing and grabbing them around the ankles by their pants legs, trying to pull them down to our level. And they always let us. They always let us.

Who are you, Lord?

TimesAreChangingHolySpiritFireMarch 26, 2016

“The times, they are a-changing.” Odd day, today. Odd atmosphere. Odd time frame. Out of sync somehow. Out of order.

For several nights in a row I’ve had dreams to remember again, dreams with actual story lines and spiritual components. There I am, sharing a testimony with someone I don’t know, helping someone in need, or traveling somewhere I don’t recognize. Suddenly I’m in an unfamiliar scene, speaking to people, helping somehow.

There’s an urgency in these dreams, as if events are too quickly unfolding and time is growing short, too short!

It’s Saturday, according to the calendar. According to the television news and the daily morning newspaper, today is Saturday. But it doesn’t feel like Saturday. Just like yesterday didn’t feel like Friday, or any particular day. It just feels odd. Like waiting for the other shoe to fall, odd.

My conversations with the Lord lately have been mostly about Him. Who are you, Lord? I asked him a week or so ago. Others have asked that question through the ages, of course. I can understand their curiosity; I’ve always been curious myself. I’ve written down my own feelings and beliefs about Father God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit on many pages.

But this time I wasn’t studying for an article to write or a class to teach. I just wanted to know for me, myself, my own spirit and soul and mind. Who are you, Lord? Who ARE you? Tell me about You, yourself. How do you describe yourself?

Well, he’s never been hesitant to answer my questions before and he wasn’t this time. He has told me a lot over the days since then. Sometimes it’s hours long, these conversations, as patiently he pours out words, mental images, descriptions and explanations.

  • Protector. We went back to before I was born and from that time until today, he revealed to me things I never knew. Dangers avoided. Tragedy averted. Angels in many guises, many sizes, guarding and guiding. That extra nurse in the newborn nursery. That man you passed in the street while walking downtown… not a man really, he just looked like one.

That pretty lady in the dime store, that young boy on the bicycle, those ordinary looking people driving by in their family car. Angels, looking out for Father’s beloved children. Who knows who all those people are in the grocery store, the gas station, the mall? Some of them just aren’t people at all, and we never suspect.

  • Provider. Provider of material and spiritual things, blankets, hamburgers, books to read, shoes and socks and jeans and tee shirts, cars and gasoline. Roof. Sidewalk. Grass. Brainpower. Intellect. Fascination with new things. Emotional connections. Friends. Relatives. Jobs. Interests. Hobbies.

It’s not just employment and paychecks, it’s everything and anything, needs and desires, comprehension, realization and enlightening – mental acuity, talents, abilities, spiritual hungers and satisfactions. The list is so very long! People, places and things. Place to be born, place to grow up, place to work and play. Every stick of everything in every place, every room of every house I’ve ever lived in, and there have been a lot of those, from birth to now.

  • Teacher. Who was your first teacher? He asked me. I didn’t have to think too hard – mama of course, and daddy, grandmother Mimi, grandfather Da, even younger brother Harold. Many aunts and uncles, nursery workers at church, Sunday School teachers, kindergarten teachers, grammar school… their faces began to roll slowly through my mind, although some of them I hadn’t thought of in years.

This week, he asked, have there been teachers this week? Oh yes, but mostly online nowadays, I thought. Well, no, not the most important one: Holy Spirit is always teaching! Wonderful teacher, bringing to mind the Word, the scriptures. New insights, new understanding of his unchanging Word. Ever present, ever available.

  • Lover. I could feel the soft baby blanket wrapped around my infant self, feel the rocking chair gently moving. I could feel the hugs and hear my squeals of delight as daddy tossed my toddler self up into the air a little, feel the rush of air as someone patiently pushed the yard swing a bit higher. I could hear our competitive laughter as we played scrabble and Chinese checkers in the evenings, brother and me trying our best to out-do the experts – i.e. the grownups in the room.

I saw, really saw the behind-the-scenes sacrificial love of my parents, their authentic affection for each other and for us. I also saw the many mistakes I’d made, looking for love in all the wrong places… but then he showed me the more recent years, my wonderment of being cherished, understood and appreciated by his hand-picked marriage partner.

There was a day or so of “other stuff” kinds of prayers and answers, time to digest and meditate before I asked again.

Who are you, Lord? The atmosphere in my room seemed to sharpen as swift moving images of the past became images of the present and the future – near future perhaps.

  • Warrior.

Involved. Complex. Complicated. Detailed. Power. Weaponry. Tactics. Strategy. Stealth. Flexibility. Overt. Covert. Strength. Martial arts. Intelligence. Individuals and teams. Network. Deception. Commandos. Rangers. Seals. Ground troops. Air forces. Submarines. Navy. Marines. Listening. Undercover. Civilian and military. Paramilitary.

Inside every believer in every field of work, Holy Spirit is there. From news reporters and editors to theologians, entertainers to computer coders, hand-to-hand fighters to stealth pilots; from legislators to secretaries, school boys to “little old ladies,” from insurance agents to secret agents, manufacturers to assembly plant workers, industrial spies to MI5.

Members of national and international commissions, committees, think tanks, NATO, UN, EU, governments and militias, rebels and patriots, and everything else you can imagine on every continent, in every nation.

Anywhere there is a Christian, there is the Holy Spirit observing and working from the inside. Linking. Networking. Educating and training, instructing and directing. Filling in the gaps. There is no such thing as a closed nation to Holy Spirit. Whisperer; fire starter; warrior.

I may wait a bit before asking that question again.

Portals are opening

PortholeSpaceWhile I was watching a DVD one morning several years ago, the Lord spoke to me. “What is a portal?” He said. I began to think about that. Portal. Hmmm. I first visualized a porthole on a ship.

On board the Logos 2 I had a cabin in the bow of the ship, quayside. No porthole, though; it had a window to the deck. Well, the window was a portal. I continued to think.

A portal is an opening. Perhaps just a crack. I once lived in an old plantation house where you could see the ground through cracks in the floor. Those cracks were portals.

A portal could be a doorway between similar environments. Like from the dining room into the kitchen. It could be a doorway between slightly dissimilar environments, like from a hot New York street into an air-conditioned office building.

Or a doorway between completely different environments, like the hatch on the space shuttle leading to outer space. It could be a doorway between the natural and supernatural…

Jacob saw such a portal. Tired from traveling, he chose a place out in the open to sleep. In the night he had a remarkable dream. He saw angels ascending and descending through an open portal. And he recognized it! “This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” God spoke to him and gave him a tremendous promise. (Genesis 28:10-17)

Peter, James and John also saw a supernatural portal. Jesus took them with him into a high mountain. Suddenly they saw Jesus standing with Moses and Elijah, brilliant in appearance and looking quite different from normal humans! The disciples were terrified. Then God spoke directly to them out of a cloud, “This is my beloved Son; hear him.” (Mark 9:1-9)

The apostle John saw a supernatural portal. The entire book of Revelation describes what he saw! I have sometimes wondered if heaven and earth don’t actually occupy the same space, just on different wavelengths. Then when God wants humans to see something supernatural, he just alters the physics of existence at that place. Well, it’s a theory.

I had gotten that far in my thinking about portals when the Lord spoke again. “I am opening many portals in the world.” Oh, God! That hit me like a jolt of electricity. I couldn’t think any more. I couldn’t even pray. Write it, He said. So I wrote it. That was July 9, 2013…

Since that day I have been on watch for indications of those portals, reading and viewing news stories from around the world. Looking for peculiarly unexplainable, unprecedented occurrences.

Observing signs and symptoms of portals through which some things are trickling, some things are drifting, some things are pouring – supernatural influences for good and for evil. I see more, and more, and more of them every week.

What was I thinking?

Copyright 1949; science fiction short stories from 1930, 1939, etc.

Copyright 1949; science fiction short stories from 1930, 1939, etc.

When I was little, I was thinking about lots of things. Outer space. Mars. Heaven. Paper dolls. Piano scales. Tall trees. Rocket ships.

Some of what I thought was based on what grownups told me. Some was based on what I experienced. Once I learned to read, a lot was based on what I read. Dick and Jane, Mickey Mouse, Nancy Drew.

In those pre-internet days my house was a rich resource of printed information about many things. Mother eventually bought a telescope and peered at the stars every night, pointing out the Big Dipper and tracking sputnik.

Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Galaxy Magazine and Amazing Stories, science fiction novels and space adventures joined Reader’s Digest, Red Book, the Bible and Norman Vincent Peale on our bookshelves..

Gradually I decided that I didn’t belong on planet earth. Was Mars my real home? Or somewhere further away, out there in really outer space? I just knew I had been stranded here for some reason and would be rescued one day, so my vivid imagination peopled the space ship that would come for me. Maybe Flash Gordon!

What I thought about heaven was based mostly on fuzzy imagination. Negatives. What wouldn’t be there. Bad diseases, like measles or polio. Bad people, like bullies and crooks. Bad weather, like hurricanes or droughts.

So what would be in heaven, I wondered? God of course. Jesus. Angels. Dead people dressed in flowing robes, floating around on fluffy clouds and playing hymns on harps. Church every day, all day. BORING, is what I thought.

I don’t think any of that nowadays. Over time I changed my thinking. I repented. (That’s what the Greek word for repent means, to change your mind, your way of thinking.)

I also thought to get into heaven I had to be more good than bad, good thoughts and good deeds tipping the scales in my favor. God, long-faced Judge of the quick and the dead, would sum me up against the Ten Commandments and decide. Did I make it in?

For a little kid being good all the time got to be “old,” real fast. But of course if you messed up, if your weights got out of balance, you could walk the aisle, tell the preacher how sorry you were for all those missteps and just start over on Monday. Right? No-one could know his final tally for sure until he died, of course. Didn’t make for much confidence in a little girl growing up.

All that was before I found out about Grace. The cross. Jesus’s blood. John 3:16. I changed my thinking. I repented. What a relief! Even if I messed up, God still loved me. He was in favor of me!

Every Sunday morning right along with the whole congregation I recited the Doxology, not thinking much about “Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” If I did think about Holy Ghost I supposed it meant the atmosphere in church. Sanctified. Sacred. Quiet. Except when singing, only the preacher talked. Shhhh. No whispering!

Of course, outside the sanctuary building kids could run around and make all the racket we liked, as long as we didn’t get our Sunday clothes dirty.

Holy Ghost outside the sanctuary? If I thought about that at all, I thought maybe it showed up in a funeral parlor, or the pastor’s parlor. Invisible wisps of holy fog, that was Holy Ghost to me. Eerie. Creepy. Later on, our Sunday School teacher mentioned the three persons of the Trinity, each one of them God. What an idea!

I began to think of Holy Ghost as God’s hidden camera, listening and recording good deeds and bad during the week. Still a bit creepy.

Then I met the Holy Spirit, aka Holy Ghost, in person. God who is with me, inside me, able to chat and laugh and teach and explain. Wow! The Bible became fascinating to me, the way science fiction used to be. Amazing stories. God’s fantastic love, real, not fantasy. Boy, has my way of thinking changed. His way is much better.

When Jesus told the crowds to repent, he wasn’t threatening them with some horrible form of hellfire and brimstone, as I thought as a child. He was offering them joy, fullness of joy in God’s presence. All they had to do was change their minds.