Thursday, September 14, 2017


Carol.  Funny, it's the first time I really thought of her name - the meaning of it.  Carol.  Music, a beautiful song, a Christmas Carol (she was born very close to Christmas.)

I have known her for many years.  It had been a few years since I had seen her.  We used to go to the same church.  She was a music teacher - Carol. She taught voice and piano lessons.  How fitting for someone with the name Carol.  When I sat behind her one Sunday she turned around and told me I had a beautiful voice.  Knowing her experience and expertise I felt honored by the compliment.

That was many years ago.  She also loved to have gatherings at her home.  Tea parties with pots of many varieties of teas and delicious food to accompany it.  Her home was warm and inviting, just as she was.  I loved those gatherings.  She was a kind and strong woman and I enjoyed being friends with her.

In recent years life changed for Carol.  She was diagnosed with cancer.  Cancer.  That dreaded word that we never want our doctor to utter in regards to our health.  Yet her doctor had to tell  her that she had cancer.  She fought it bravely for several years.  She was beating it until she wasn't anymore and it was beating her.  Still she fought to the end.

I recently ran into a mutual friend of Carol's.  She said that even though Carol was unwell and things were coming to an end, she and her family welcomed visitors.  She encouraged me to go and see her.  I knew I was supposed to.  I felt it in my heart.

Finally I messaged her daughter and inquired about a good time to visit.  She said come anytime it was convenient for me and that I would be welcomed.  So, I did.  I drove over on a Friday morning to their summer cottage.  It was small and quaint and looked just like a place that Carol would want to live.

When I walked in I met her husband in the kitchen.  He looked worn and sad.  He said he was tired of seeing her suffer.  He said it was his job to fix things, but he couldn't fix this for the woman that he had loved for over 60 years.  He wanted her to be done with the suffering, but he didn't want to lose her.  Their 60th wedding anniversary was in a few weeks and he knew that she would not make it to that milestone.  I hugged him and prayed with him.  Prayed for peace and comfort for his heart.

Her daughter and granddaughter were caring for Carol in the front porch room.  When it was no longer safe to stay with her husband in their bed because of her frail condition, they had cleared a space on the sunny front porch for her hospital bed.  She enjoyed the sunshine and seeing the trees outside of her fully windowed room.  When they were done caring for her, I was invited to visit her.  They said she was very weak and tired and probably wouldn't talk much.  I was fine with that.  I just wanted to see her and sing.

God had impressed on my heart that what would bless Carol the most was singing, so I had thought of some hymns that I was sure would bless her heart.  I walked in the room and saw her.  I can't say that I was shocked by her appearance, but I was deeply touched.  She was frail, quiet and worn.  I have never sat with someone so close to their last breath.  I was honored that even at this point of her failing health her family would allow me to sit by her side and share in her final days of life.  I was struck with a deep sense of duty to honor her life and sing to her songs that she had probably sung countless times before, had taught others to sing and play.  It was humbling and moving to my very core.

I began by singing Great Is Thy Faithfulness and as I watched her pale face framed with only a small tuft of hair and heard her soft shallow breath, my voice caught several times.  "Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness, morning by morning new mercies I see.  All I have needed Thy hand hath provided, Great is Thy Faithfulness Lord unto me."  I knew that she did not have many mornings left.  I realized that if she could sing, even in her suffering, she would sing those words along with me.  I saw her eyes flutter open briefly and her mouth move as if she were trying to sing along.

I sat and I sang.  Song after song.  How Great Thou Art.  My Jesus I Love Thee.  It is Well.  Jesus Loves Me.  Oh How  He Loves You and Me.  Many more.  Her husband sat on the porch for a time and glanced up when I paused.  "She's listening" he said.  "She can hear you.  Keep singing."  So I did.  I realized I was singing for him too and her daughter and granddaughter sitting in the adjoining living room.  I finished singing and prayed over her.  I said "goodbye" even though I didn't know if she was aware of my presence.  Her eyes fluttered open.  She looked at me.  Her mouth moved and a few faint sounds came out.  I knew she was saying "Thank you" and "Goodbye."

I sat with her daughter in the living room for a few more minutes.  She showed me a scrap of paper that her mother had written some songs that she would like to have sung at her service.  One of them was Great it Thy Faithfulness.  I knew.  God had sent me.  God had urged me to go.  God had given me the peace to sit with her and sing.  It was Him, singing through me to His daughter who was only days away from joining Him in her forever Home.

She is there now.  With Him.  Healed and whole.  Praising her Lord and Savior and able to sing to Him in person "Great is Thy Faithfulness O God my Father!"

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Leaving Church

I wrote this awhile ago and debated about whether to post it or not.  I think it's important to tell this part of my story, even if only one person can be blessed in knowing that, if they have had a similar experience, they are not alone - that we all struggle in similar ways and need people to let us know that what happened to us really matters.

It's been awhile since we left our first church home.  I've been processing a lot of things in the past 2 1/2 years since we left.  There were many difficult circumstances that caused us to decide to completely walk away from a place that we had been invested in for most of our married lives (my husband since he was 9 years old.)  It wasn't an easy decision.  It wasn't a black & white choice.  There were many factors, there were pros and cons in our leaving this church.

We gave up a lot when we left.  I walked away from being on Worship Team and sharing special music - which gave me so much joy.  I walked away from participating in a Women's Care group - which is one of my passions.  My husband walked away from working with the boys in a mid-week program - something he really enjoyed.  We walked away from a place where we would see parents and grandparents each week.  We walked away from being around familiar faces, kind people and good friends.  We walked away from activities that we enjoyed.  We walked away from all we had come to know as church. 

We walked away because we felt it was the right choice - but certainly not the easy one.

We tried to address the issues that we felt were not right.  We didn't do it perfectly - we did it as we thought we should.  Imperfectly.  Humanly.  Flawed, but with good hearts.  We didn't feel that anyone was really hearing what we were saying.  That we were hurt.  That we saw things that simply needed to be changed for the better.  We felt unheard, pushed aside, like we were just trying to make trouble.

I don't say any of this to point fingers.  We all were just trying to do what we felt was right, imperfectly.  I believe that we agreed to disagree.  It didn't make it any easier.  We still had to make the hard choice.  We were the ones to have to go searching for another church 'family.'  A divorce of sorts, when you feel as passionately about your church family as you do about your real family.

"Are you enjoying your new church?" was a sincere question someone asked me a few months after we left.  It made me sad because it lacked a real depth of understanding.  Didn't they realize how hard this was?  Didn't they understand how much it hurt to walk away from something you had invested your heart and soul into?  Didn't they know how much pain we felt?  That we felt abandoned by some we had trusted for so many years?  Didn't they know that simply going to another church didn't make all the hurt go away?  I guess maybe they didn't.  Maybe they hadn't considered how much pain and grief it had caused us.  How deeply it had affected us.

I wish I could say that I am happily adjusted to a new church and that none of this affects me anymore.  I can't.  I still carry hurt and questions as to why.  In this I know I am not alone.  At times I talk with others who have had to make the same hard choice and I hear the same hurt and questions as they talk with me about their own experiences.  This gives me some comfort - knowing that we are not the only ones.  There are others who feel the sadness of leaving church too.  They know how hard it is to open up your heart in trust to another church family.  Knowing that it will take awhile to feel . . . safe.

As I contemplate all that we have been through, I believe that we made the right decision for our family.  I see how we have grown and learned much through this experience.  We are different in many positive ways.  I get that.  I understand that 'all things work together for good . . . '   I have had an attitude of thanksgiving through most of the process.  Sometimes it still hurts though.

There were many kind people that empathized with us and noticed that we had left.  That helped - a lot.  There was even one man who tried to mediate for us after we had left.  What a blessing he was.  We are so thankful for all he did.  He made us feel like we really mattered.  Like we were worth 'fighting' for.  I think one of the kindest things anyone has ever said to me through all of this is a sweet older woman who pulled me aside one day.  She said "I wish you guys would come back.  We really miss you."  Simple.  Sweet.  Loving.  Just what my hurting heart needed to hear.

I don't know what God has for us as we continue to follow Him through the process of life.  I know that it is something beautiful and meaningful.  A crown of beauty instead of ashes.  I know that what we have been through has given us strength and courage.  It has built our trust and dependency on Him.  Brought us closer to each other and to Him.  It has shown us that we will be ok, even when life is not.  Taught us to take our eyes off of people and fix them on Him alone.  Helped us realize that it is not about being perfect, but about being completely dependent on Him.  Proven to us (again) His faithfulness and unconditional love for us.

As we continue to look for a new church, what I really desire is a church that feels like home.  A place where people know, accept and love us unconditionally.  A place where people can be open, honest and real.  Where I am free to be me.  No cliques.  No partiality.  Somewhere they are not too busy to notice and reach out to us in our struggles.  Where even on our worst days, they embrace our messiness.  A place where they affirm the potential of what God has placed in us.  Where they help us in following our dreams and we can help them in following their's.  Where they give a call to say that we were missed.  A place where they invite us into their lives.  Where there is no pretense, striving or agendas.  Where people don't give up on us, no matter what.  A place free of religion, but thriving with relationship.  A place that feels like The Father's embrace.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  Luke 15:20

Friday, August 24, 2012


I've posted on Facebook that the biopsy results came back and everything is fine.  I wanted to write a short blog too because not everyone has Facebook.

It's been a strange week.  I've been thinking about life and death and suffering more than usual.  I think when you face these types of things it brings those things into focus more.  You just can't not think about the 'what ifs' in life.  I felt more annoyed by the whole experience than anything else - just because I didn't like the lack of control that I was facing.  I didn't really have a choice of whether I wanted to deal with it or not.  I had to.  I couldn't avoid it and that made me pretty mad deep down inside.  I wanted to 'write my own ending' but just couldn't.  I had to wait and worry and wonder with no control over the outcome.

Thankfully my outcome was good.  I would be writing a completely different blog if it wasn't.  I would be facing a whole different set of circumstances and questions and fears.  I can't help but think about those who have the opposite outcome from their biopsies and pray for them as they deal with their questions and fears.  I know God.  I know He will be with me through anything.  Maybe they don't.  Maybe they feel completely alone and terrified.  I pray that they come to know Him and His awesome love and comfort through their experience.  I pray that God puts people in their paths to love and care for them and show them His love in very real and tangible ways.

I truly appreciate your prayers and concern for me through my big 'what if' these past few weeks.  I know that this whole experience was more bearable and less scary because of those who love me and showed their care for me.  I am very grateful.  Thank you!

Psalm 94:18-19When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.