Tag Archives: Kerry Shook

When You Miss Your Mom and Dad…

What seemed like a normal stop in the laundry room last week turned out to be a devastating downpour.  This is the challenge in losing a loved one.  One little photo can spark a thousand emotions…

Growing up a lonely only was super swell in my book.   My petite universe swirled around me.  No wonder sharing wasn’t in my vocabulary. (Can you say, “spoiled”?)

My Mother and Father married in 1952, but I wasn’t born until 1960.  After eight long years of waiting, who wouldn’t be fearful of a brand new baby girl?  I still believe they had no idea what to do with me.

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(Note most of our pictures were either of Daddy and me or Mother and me as with the three of us, who else would take the picture?  Please don’t miss Daddy’s very svelte argyle socks.  This was 1960.  My sweet sister-in-law got all our boys rockin’ with svelte socks last Christmas.  Yeah, 2015.  Thank you, Nordstrom Rack.)

Mom and Dad perfected helicopter parenting, not wanting a scratch or a bruise to mar my little self.  The day I rode my Radio Flyer Classic Red Wagon down our neighbor’s hill, crashing on the asphalt in our driveway, depositing some skin on the pavement, freaked us all out.  Odd, there was no flying in that wagon.

Once in school, I began inviting friends over.  Many of them were lonely onlies too.

God provided the best kind of friend directly across the street from us.  She was ultra cool because she came with the bonus of having two older brothers.  They were boy scouts and there was nothing they couldn’t do.  Each visit was a new lesson.

Her name is Meredith Myers.  She and I are only one year apart, so for several years, we’d ride our bikes together to Glendover Elementary School in Lexington, Kentucky.  God graciously protected us because we never paid attention to cars near us as we talked non-stop all the way to and from school.

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(Note these little girls are wearing helmets.  Helmets weren’t invented back in our day.  Yes, we are old.)

Meredith’s parents and mine also became close friends and “those were the days” as they say.  Elementary School evolved into “Junior High” (now Middle School), on into High School.

Meredith and I went to different colleges, but we managed to visit each other, staying in touch.  We married three weeks apart and were in each other’s weddings.  She and her husband settled in Nashville while John and I settled in Louisville.

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Meredith lost her parents first.  Both deaths seemed too early and too sudden.  Thankfully, we were able to trust in a Sovereign God.

Two favorite Scriptures  which help are:

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My folks stayed in their home, still across the street from where the Myers lived, as long as they could. Multiple illnesses plus my Dad having a stroke landed them in an Assisted Living facility in Lexington.

Unfortunately that was a short term band-aid, causing us to move them to Louisville into a nearby nursing home.  Our three boys swear they’ve never moved so much furniture so many times. God bless their strong backs.

Daddy had a heart attack that ultimately took his life, followed by a seventeen-month progression of health deterioration in my Mother.  “Only the Lord” is how we answer the question of, “How did we survive those difficult years?”

Deuteronomy 31:6 is one of our favorite “life-lines”: 

“So be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you.  He will never fail you nor abandon you.” (NLT)  Somehow that little word “panic” resonates. But look at the promise that follows…God will go ahead of us, never failing nor abandoning us.  Isn’t that the best?

Many of our friends are losing their parents too.  I find myself buying sympathy cards by the box.

Visitations and funerals are not at the top of my list of most desirable activities, but of course, who wouldn’t go for a friend?  The greater challenge of attending these services is offering the right words of condolence.  Not a gift of mine, rest assured.

I’m embarrassed to admit that often, the bereaved winds up comforting me because I’ve dissolved into a puddle of tears.  Thus, I’ve resorted to borrowing words of encouragement from a few of my favorite authors:  Max Lucado, Bob Russell and Kerry and Chris Shook.

The Shooks help with a good perspective when a death seems to happen too soon. They tell about a young couple in Owensboro, Kentucky.  The wife discovers she has terminal cancer and soon will be leaving her young children and husband behind.  (This is in their book, One Month to Live—30 Days to a No-Regrets Life.)

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She asks her pastor, Jess Moody, about the below verse:

2 Peter 3:8 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

She did the math, and “figured if a thousand years is like a day, then forty years is like one hour…my husband may live another forty years, but that will be just like an hour to me in heaven.  When he gets to heaven, I’ll greet him and say, ‘Where have you been for an hour?…I’ve missed you.’”

My children may live another seventy or eighty years, but that will be like two hours to me.  When they get to heaven, I’ll greet them and say, ‘How was school today?  Mom misses you when you’re gone for a couple of hours.’”

Jess said, “Now that’s an eternal perspective.”

Max Lucado, in his book, When Christ Comes, quotes Bob Russell.  He tells about Bob’s father’s funeral.

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Bob said the day of the funeral was a “cold, blustery, Pennsylvania day”…The Funeral Director told Bob the roads were too treacherous to take a procession to the burial.  He said he’d take the body to the grave.

Bob couldn’t bear to not be at the burial, “so he and his brother and their sons piled into a four-wheel drive vehicle and followed the hearse.”

Bob said, “We plowed thru’ ten inches of snow into the cemetery, got about fifty yards from my Dad’s grave, with the wind blowing about twenty-five miles per hour, and the six of us lugged that casket down to the grave site…”

He continued, “We watched the body lowered in the grave and we turned to leave.  I felt something was undone, so I said, ‘I’d like for us to have a prayer.’  The six of us huddled together and I prayed, ‘Lord, this is such a cold, lonely place.’

“And then I got too choked up to pray anymore.  I kept battling to get my composure, and finally I just whispered, ‘But I thank you, for we know to be absent from the body is to be safe in your warm arms.’” (2 Corinthians 5:6 KJV)

Max concludes with what I hold onto today:

“We don’t like to say good-bye to those whom we love…It is right for us to weep, there is no need for us to despair.  They had pain here.  They have no pain there.  They struggled here.  They have no struggles there.

“You and I might wonder why God took them home.  But they don’t.  They understand.  They are, at this very moment, at peace in the presence of God.”

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This is an older picture of my parents, but it’s how I like to remember them. It’s the one staring at me over the washer and dryer.  It’s the one that triggered the unexpected tears.

On days when those of us who’ve lost our parents are homesick for them, I pray these words of these great authors plus The Author of the Word of God bring us all comfort.

‘Til next time!

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Life Lessons

Encouraging Perspective on Death—When it SEEMS too soon…

Two words spewed by my math teacher used to cause me to hyperventilate…

Two words included in our homework helped me find an excuse not to complete the assignment.

Which two words equate to a guaranteed nightmare?

Story problem…

Ah well, some of you are laughing.  Some of you love story problems.  That’s your problem! Just means you’re a great deal smarter than this math-phobic-girl.

I forgot how much I detested story problems until our boys got to be old enough to have them in their homework.  Thankfully hubby John loves math.  Opposites attract, obviously!

My all-time favorite comic from The Far Side shows a pitiful, bewildered looking man speaking to an angel at the pearly gates.  The angel informs him, “Okay, now listen up…  Nobody gets in here without answering the following questions:  A train leaves Philadelphia at 1:00 p.m.  It’s traveling at 65 miles per hour.  Another train leaves Denver at 4:00…Say, you need some paper?”  It’s entitled “Math Phobic’s Nightmare”. 

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Today I’d like to tell you about a discovery of the best-of-the-best kind of “story problem”.  This excerpt I’m about to share with you will encourage you, especially if you’ve lost a loved one and their death seemed too soon.

Chris and Kerry Shook have written an excellent book called, One Month to Live—30 Days to a No-Regrets Life.  It’s a resource to read over and over.

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They tell of a pastor from Owensboro, Kentucky named Jess Moody.  Some of my relatives knew him.  Jess became friends with a young couple in his church.  One day the husband came to his office and was clearly upset.

He said, “Jess, I’ve just heard the most awful news.  My wife has terminal cancer, and it’s spread all over her body.  The doctors have told us she has only weeks, not even months to live.  Jess, she’s at the hospital.  She’s asking for you.  We don’t know how to handle this.”

Jess went to the hospital immediately.  The young wife and mother asked him, “I remember in one of your sermons you said a thousand years is like a day to God and a day is like a thousand years.  Is that true?  Is a thousand years like a day to God?”

Jess answered, “Yes, it’s in the Bible.”

2 Peter 3:8 says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day.” (NIV)

Psalm 90:4 parallels this, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” (NIV)

The wife then said, “Good, because I’ve been doing the math, and I figure if a thousand years is like a day, then forty years is like one hour.  I’ll be leaving my husband and the children soon.  He may live another forty years, but that will be just like an hour to me in heaven.  When he gets to heaven, I’ll greet him and say, ‘Where have you been for an hour?  Did you just go to the office, or were you running errands?  I’ve missed you.’

My children may live another seventy or eighty years, but that will be like two hours to me.  When they get to heaven, I’ll greet them and say, ‘How was school today?  Mom misses you when you’re gone for a couple of hours.  I wonder how you are doing, because mommies don’t like to be away from their children long.’”

Jess Moody said two weeks later she went to be with the Lord, and the last thing she said to her husband was, “I love you.  Take care of our children.  I’ll see you in an hour.”

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Now that’s an eternal perspective! (This story can be found on pages 218-219 in the Shooks’ book.)

That’s the best kind of story problem for two reasons:

1 – The precious young wife and mother did the math for us!!!  Biblical math! Heavenly math!

2 – It gives us an encouraging eternal perspective along with the reminder that God’s timing isn’t ours and we must trust in His sovereign will.

Last week we talked about dealing with a sudden death.  Click on… Losing a Loved One Overnight…  We are still reeling over losing Stuart Thompson. But, we know we will see him again.

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Pictured from left to right:  Frank Thompson, Stuart Thompson, Woody Hoagland and Jonathan Slevin on June 20th, 2013.

As my friend Cynthia Kragthorpe said during hard times, “Last time I checked, God was still on the throne.  We cannot question His timing.”  She really encouraged me then and I’ll never forget her words.

I pray you may find encouragement to press on today, thanks to the Shooks sharing the young couple’s story of facing a death that seemed to soon.  There are countless ones of you out there who have endured a similar scenario.

Sweet Kristen Sauder, who I’ve talked about before (www.furtherstillminstries.com ), wrote a wonderful Bible study called Praying for Your Prodigal—A Journey through Luke 15.  As God would orchestrate, my reading for today says, “Securing a spot in God’s family doesn’t change the fact that you and I must keep hoofing it.

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Kristen gives us three great Scriptures encouraging us to press on:

Ephesians 4:1b says, “…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

Colossians 1:10 says, “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy  of the Lord and may please him in every way:  bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”

I Thessalonians 2:12, “encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”

Let’s not forget to keep Kristen in our prayers as she is patiently enduring cancer.  Her weekly blog not only has updates, but great faith-building words. (See her website above.)

Share this excellent Heavenly “story problem” with your friends and family!  Be encouraged.

Have a Happy, Healthy, and Blessed Fourth of July!!!

‘Til next time!

(This week’s post is dedicated to two very dear friends and mentors of mine.  Both of these gals endured the tragic loss of an adult child.  They encourage me each time I’m with them to press on.  Their faith is their rock they cling to daily.

Please join me in praying for Betsy Heady, whose son, Paul, died at the age of forty.  And my friend in Indiana, Shirley Garwood, whose daughter Susan, died shortly after delivering her precious daughter Emma, Shirley’s beloved granddaughter, who’s now eight years old.

May God continue to bless you, Betsy and Shirley, and hold you tightly as you shine the light of Christ on us and many others.)

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Friends, Life Lessons

What’s on your Bucket List? NO REGRETS…

Could there ever be a better cast movie than The Bucket List ?  (Let’s push pause for a second, because if you haven’t seen the movie, read no further ‘til you have.  It’s a must-see.)

Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman simultaneously steal the show while attempting to cross off all items on their Bucket List.  (“Bucket List” being defined as “all things you wish to do before you kick the bucket”.)

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Two favorite lines from the movie include one from Jack Nicholson, who plays Edward Coleman, billionaire hospital magnate.  “I run hospitals, not health spas!!” This was a ploy to ensure each hospital room had two beds and no  private rooms.  He’d no sooner sputtered that phrase when suddenly, he fell ill and became one hundred percent infuriated upon landing in a hospital room with Freeman for a roommate!  Oh, the irony…

Second favorite line comes from Morgan Freeman, who plays blue-collar mechanic Carter Chambers. He shrieks, while skydiving toward Edward, something totally out of character, akin to a toddler throwing a temper tantrum: “I hate your rotten guts!”  Seems he failed to mention his fear of heights!!!  Hysterical.

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We, the audience, become completely enthralled with their mission to complete their Bucket List. Edward Coleman’s wealth allows them no limits, so quite the fun fantasy.

How ‘bout you? Do you have a Bucket List? Thought much about it?

The past couple of years have found John and me attending more and more funerals. Maybe you’ve noticed this too. Many of us say, “Cancer’s just more prevalent.” Last week at a bookstore, I found myself, yet again, buying a box of sympathy cards. Catch my drift?

Carter Chamber’s advice to Edward Coleman bodes well for us all: “May you find the joy in your life.” Nehemiah 8:10b reminds us, “…do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

After losing three dear friends within a thirteen-month period, John and I decided to mark off one thing real fast from our Bucket List: a trip to Italy. No regrets there!

Sadly, my Mother’s first words upon my Father’s death did include words of regret. It’s my personal goal, and I pray will become yours as well, to live a life with no regrets. Queen of the “shoulda-coulda-wouldas”, living with no regrets is no piece of cake. Already I could give you a mega list over raising our boys.

“I should have read to them more. I should have held them more. I should have played with them more. I should have prayed with them more. I should have planted more seeds of God’s Word in them. I didn’t teach them enough before leaving for college! I should have cooked more.” (Just seeing if you’re still awake…you know that last phrase is not true!!!) Oh, but the list rattles on…and on….and on.

Chris and Kerry Shook have co-authored a phenomenal book called One Month to Live–Thirty Days to a No Regrets Life—They point out that most tombstones include a date of birth and a date of death, separated by a little dash. Here’s their CHALLENGE: “You get to choose how to spend that little dash of time between the two dates of your earthly existence.

What are you spending yours on?  Are you living the dash, knowing fully who you are and why you’re here?  Or dashing  to live, hurriedly spending precious time chasing things that really don’t matter to you? “

Ouch.  That hurts.  Daring dasher that I am… My perpetual challenge du jour is “beat the clock”.  Sigh…Can you relate?

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The Shooks continue, “The psalmist prayed, ‘Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should’  (Psalm 90:12 TLB).  God wants us to realize that our time on earth is limited so we will spend it wisely.  But He gives us the choice about how we spend this most valuable currency.”

Don’t you love those last four words?  “This most valuable currency.”  Oh, that we’d really choose to cherish each day.   Corrie Ten Boom said, “The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration but its donation.”

Allow me to introduce you to a dear friend and mentor of mine who recently completed an over-the-top bucket list item and quite a donation to the people in Florence, Italy.  Knowing she had a “milestone” birthday (Not tellin’, y’all have to guess…), and being the consummate planner, this smart gal researched all avenues of how she could spend a chunk of time living in Italy.

No easy feat given she’s a successful business woman, speaker, coach, and writer in  Louisville, Kentucky.  She also travels frequently for business and pleasure.  Oh, and small detail:  she’s married to an equally successful businessman, Stephen Tweed, who also travels, speaks, leads seminars, etc.

How in the world she made it all work with both of their schedules remains a mystery to me!!!  But….I’m thrilled to tell you that John and I had the pleasure of spending three nights with her in her lovely palazzo in Florence, Italy!

Sunset in Florence

Please meet Elizabeth Nardi (Yes, very Italian!) Jeffries.  Elizabeth did what she set out to do: She and Stephen lived in Florence for three months.  You may checkout her very fun and informative blog, chronicling her adventures by going to:  www.90daysinflorence.blogspot.com

EJ & me in Florence

Much more than just accomplishing a “check off” of the ole’ Bucket List, Elizabeth was determined to meet and get to know her neighbors, her landlords, the restaurateurs, the people who worked in the nearby market, the gal at the gelato store, the nail tech, shop keepers, church members, etc.  Shining the light of Christ and doing what Jesus did, building relationships one by one, were her goals.  She lived out Matthew 5:16 – “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  I’d say Elizabeth’s “dash” is full from Florence!

So don’t miss the point here.  Yes, it’s all well and good to have a Bucket List.  But, it’s more important  to do as Elizabeth did and build relationships along the way, with no regrets..  I love the quote, “What in the world are you doing for heaven’s sake?”   Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Let’s ask God this week  to show us people along our paths.  May we all shine the Light of Christ to those we meet along the way, keeping eternity in our hearts, with no regrets..

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Erma Bombeck said, “There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, ‘Yes, I’ve got dreams, of course I’ve got dreams.’ Then they put the box away and bring it out once in a while to look in it, and yep, they’re still there.”  Don’t be packing your dreams away…Live the dash, with no regrets..

As Thanksgiving Week approaches, I pray you and your family have a most Blessed, Happy Thanksgiving and share your blessings with your loved ones.  ‘Til next time…

(This November 2012 blog entry is dedicated, bet you can guess, to my friend Elizabeth Nardi Jeffries. Elizabeth dared to dream and blessed a boatload of people in the process!  Happy 70th Birthday!!!  Oops, I told.  Well, no one will believe it. Let’s have some more  gelato!  Ciao!)

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