A Little Bit of Heaven in My Life

Friday night, Gracie and MaKenna, two of my precious granddaughters, spent the night with me.  They were the sweetest little girls.  We watched a movie and then the girls reenacted parts of the movie over and over and over.  They gave me a foot massage which was wonderful.  In fact, one would get on her hands and knees so that I could use her back as a stool while the other one massaged one foot and then they would swap positions.  They have had several pedicures themselves so they really know how to make your feet feel good.

But the most important thing that we did was laugh.  We laughed and laughed.  Everything was funny.  We just enjoyed each other and nothing else mattered.  Not once did they say a cross word to each other, which is unusual for them. (LOL)   I didn’t think much about it because we do this often.

The next morning the following story was in my daily devotion from God’s Minute.

A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip  to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies  and a six pack of root beer and he started his journey. When  he had gone about three blocks, he met an old woman. She  was sitting in the park just staring at some pigeons.     The boy sat down next to her and opened his suitcase. He  was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed  that the old lady looked hungry, so he offered her a Twinkie.  She gratefully accepted it and smiled at him. Her smile was  so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered  her a root beer.  Again, she smiled at him.  The boy was  delighted.     They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they  never said a word.      As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he  got up to leave, but before he had gone more than a few  steps, he turned around, ran back to the old woman, and  gave her a hug.   She gave him her biggest smile ever.     When the boy opened the door to his own house a short  time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his  face.  She asked him, “What did you do today that made you  so happy?”  He replied, “I had lunch with God.”  But before  his mother could respond, he added, “You know what? She’s  got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen!”     Meanwhile, the old woman, also radiant with joy, returned  to her home.  Her son was stunned by the look of peace on  her face and he asked, “Mother, what did you do today that  made you so happy?”  She replied,  “I ate Twinkies in the  park with God.”  However, before her son responded, she  added,  “You know, he’s much younger than I expected.”     Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile,  a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the  smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn  a life around.     People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a  lifetime.  Embrace all equally!                                                             Author Unknown

 

As a read the story, I thought back to the night before.  I take moments like that for granted.  If only I could have the faith of and see things through the eyes of a small child.  If only I could have the wisdom of the elderly people who understand the important things in life. I never really stop and think about these special moments.  Many times I don’t even slow down long enough to enjoy these special moments.

And then the thought struck me: This is what heaven is going to be like. No crying, no fussing, no worries, no cares, only happy moments!  I think God was trying to show me that even though I am still grieving over the loss of Mike, that if I just stop and look around, I will be able to see lots of things to be thankful for and that I will realize these special moments with my grandchildren are just a small sample of what it will be like in Heaven.  So I’m going to start thinking of these moments as ‘Little Bits of Heaven in My Life.’

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Thanks for the Valentine’s Day Memories

Valentines“It’s the little things that count the most.”  We have all heard and probably said this phrase many times, but the past year has really made a believer out of me.  As Valentine’s Day approaches, another first without Mike, I am reminded of our past Valentine’s Days.  I always gave him a card and you can know that I read many cards before I found just the perfect one.  Sometimes they were funny and sometimes they were serious, just according to the mood I was in at the time.

Mike, on the other hand, always gave me a gift.  Sometimes he would include a card and sometimes he would not.  Most of the time, he gave me a box of chocolates, you know the kind with the different flavored stuff in the middle.  The kind that most people do not like, but he knew I loved those things.  I could eat the whole box in one day.  However, there were lots of years, when I would be dieting, imagine that, and I would tell him to please not buy me candy.  So on those occasions, he would buy me something crazy.  One year it was a big stuffed frog holding a big red heart that said, “I love you.” Another time it was a dancing gorilla singing some goofy song.  On another occasion, it was a bouquet of dancing and singing flowers.  He would usually bring the gifts to me in my classroom and so my students would enjoy them as much as I did.  You know they love to push buttons.

This year, there won’t be a card or a crazy gift and that’s okay because I know that he loved me and I know I was his Valentine.  And I also have these wonderful memories from the 38 years he was with me.  I have every card or gift that he has ever given me and I will pull them out and read them on Valentine’s Day.  And I must confess, last week I was in Wal-mart and as I approached the Valentine’s aisle, I started walking really fast so I would not have to see those cute little crazy gifts. But then something stopped me and I turned and went back.  I slowly walked down the aisles trying to decide which one of those silly things Mike would buy me if he was here.  And it actually brought a smile to my face. Thanks for the memories, Mike.  I love and miss you!

God Did it Again

For the past couple of months, I have been attending GriefShare meetings every Thursday afternoon. GriefShare is a thirteen-week grief recovery support group sponsored by Many 1st Baptist Church.  Each week focuses on a different aspect of grief.  Last week’s topic was “When Your Spouse Dies.”  I knew what the topic was so I decided that I would skip the meeting. I felt like it would just be too painful.  I knew that I would probably cry and I just didn’t want to feel the pain.  Now does that make any sense?  I attend all the meetings except the one that I probably need the most. But that is what I did.  I came up with a good excuse not to go and I even called and told them that I would not be able to make it.  My excuse was that RyLeigh was playing her last Jr. High softball game and I needed to watch her play.  And that really was a good excuse.  I had not seen any of her games because of these meetings and I don’t usually miss her games.

So anyway, this Thursday I went for the next meeting feeling all content and ready to watch the video “Your Family and Grief.”  I could handle this.  Much to my surprise, they had not covered Session Four, “When Your Spouse Dies,” the week before as planned.  Another need had arisen and they had ministered to it rather than following the normal procedures. My heart sank.  I did not want to do this but how could I just get up and walk out. So I stayed.  And I watched and listened to the video.  And yes I cried.  But I have to admit, it was good for me.  There’s just something about hearing other people discuss some of the exact same thoughts that I have been having.  It helps me realize that I am not really going crazy; that instead I am just experiencing grief as everyone else does that has lost a spouse.  It also gives me hope that I will one day be able to cope with the loss of Mike; hope that one day I will find a new normal.

At the conclusion of the meeting, I confessed to the group what I had done.  And of course, they laughed when I said, “God did it again.  He knew what I needed more than I did.”

As I have thought about this today, I am reminded of Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  I find great comfort in this verse and although I don’t know God’s plan and right now I don’t even really like God’s plan, I do know that there is hope.  God knows what he is doing and he will see me through this time of grief.

Love is Infinite

How you ever thought about how much love you have?

February 11th of last year, I was given some news that will probably haunt me forever.  I had insisted that Mike’s doctor give me his opinion on the progression of Mike’s disease because we had decisions to make.  But never had I expected what he was about to tell me.  He told me that Mike, my husband of almost 38 years, would be leaving me to go to his heavenly home in a month or less.  You talk about shock.  Yes we were in shock.  Do you know how hard it is to tell your children that their father who has always loved them unconditionally will not be with them much longer?  And do you know how hard it is as a mother to watch your children hurt because their daddy will not be there to see their children grow up.  The next few days were a blur.

We came home from the hospital on Hospice and for the next couple of weeks our house was a revolving door to all of our acquaintances, friends and family.  Visitors poured in. From 8 o’clock every morning until 10 o’clock every night, people came. They came to visit as well as bring us food, paper goods, etc.  We were so blessed.  We never wanted for anything.  And Mike loved every minute of it.  He wanted to see everyone. He wanted to spend time with everyone that he loved.  He wanted everyone to know that he loved them.  (He was always a people person and I often accused him of wanting to be the center of attention.) People questioned our decision to have so many visitors but it was what Mike wanted. He did not want us to be sad.  He only had a little time left and he wanted us to be happy, so we were.

Although I may have not made the same decision if I had been the one dying, I never questioned Mike as to why he felt the way he did.  I just honored his request.  And I don’t guess I have really even wondered about it since then but once again, God pointed out the obvious to me.

Yesterday I was reading an article in the February issue of Journey (yes I read them ahead of time and I usually read the whole thing in one setting instead of daily) entitled “Commanded to Love.”  The article demonstrated how a lady who because she knew she was dying wanted to love and pray for more people than ever before.    And then it occurred to me.  That is exactly what Mike was doing.  He knew he did not have much time left so he wanted to show his love to as many people as possible.  His family knew he loved them but he needed everyone else to know how much he loved them, also.

And that thought led me to this question:  Why are we so selfish with our love?  We tend to save our love for our family and close friends.  But why?  Love never ends, we have an endless supply; we cannot run out of love so why do we use it so sparingly? You know if we had an endless supply of money I bet we would give it away.  Can you imagine how much fun that would be to just give people money, pay people’s bills, buy people new wardrobes and the list goes on.  But love doesn’t cost us anything, we just have it and it is available at all times.  So let’s do as God commands, let’s love one another. And let’s do it now while we think we still have lots of time on this earth!

So how much love do we have, we have an infinite supply!

Does God hear my thoughts?

I have always been told that if I think something, I might as well say it because God hears it anyway.  Well yesterday, something happened to me that proved this to be true.

One day earlier this week, my mind was wandering.  It tends to do that a lot these days.  It bounces from one random thought to another and for no apparent reason.  I can’t focus on anything long enough to finish a simple task.  For instance, I may start folding clothes, get side-tracked, and not finish the job for days.  When you find yourself living alone after 53 years of living with other people, there are just some things that are not important. Who cares if the clothes are folded or not? But there also a lot of things that I have just never had to do before,  I am blessed and I have always had someone to take care of me.

So anyway, back to the task at hand.  See, I’m already wandering off task again.  My mind was wandering and all of sudden this thought came to me:  Who is gonna tell me when I need to buy new tires for my car? Now where did that thought come from?  Buying new tires is just not something I think about.  Mike would always tell me when I needed to put new tires on my car.  If I am not having flats, I see no need and I really don’t enjoy spending money on tires.  So I thought, well I could ask one of my brothers, Reagan or Pookey.  They would be glad to help me.  Or, I could ask Ed, or I could probably even go to Buddy Brandon’s and ask him.  And that was that.  I didn’t give new tires another thought.

And here comes the funny part.  Yesterday, I was in Shreveport with my sister, Cindy, and Mrs. Teresa.  We were walking towards my car and out of the blue, Cindy says, “Nancy, you are fixing to need to replace your tires.”  I stopped dead in my tracks.  I said, “How do you know I need new tires?”  Cindy replied, “I drove a bus for 30 years, I had to keep a watch on things like that.”

Now, you may call this a coincidence, but I prefer to believe that God was trying to show me that He knows what I need and he is taking care of me before I even think to ask him.  I believe that he heard my thought and he wanted me to understand that I don’t need to waste time worrying over simple everyday tasks.  He has everything under control.

Don’t Be Afraid to Mention HIm

mike (2)Talk About It

Death is a part of life. Everyone experiences the death of a loved one.

“We are social beings, physical beings, and spiritual beings,” says Rev. Clay Evans. “When you lose someone you are attached to, it is normal, it is natural, for you to grieve.”

If grief is natural and is part of everyone’s life, why is there a feeling of discomfort when someone mentions the death of a loved one? Why the embarrassment when tears come during an ordinary conversation?

People in grief may avoid their friends and even their church to prevent these awkward moments. This is not how it should be. Someone needs to move beyond the discomfort. Be the first one to squelch the prevailing attitude of embarrassment and unease, and start talking about grief.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NASB).

Lord Jesus, grieving is as natural and as common as loving. I want to help make it as acceptable, too. May my healing journey spark healing in those around me. Amen.

This was my daily griefshare email this morning and it really struck home with me. I do feel like people are afraid to mention Mike to me probably because they don’t want to make me sad. But I am sad. Mike is on my mind constantly, he is in my every thought, he is everywhere I look, he is in everything I do, he is in everywhere I go, he is in my home, he is in my children, he is in my grandchildren, he is in our friends. HE IS EVERYWHERE! He was a major part of my life for more than 38 years. He will never go away. And I don’t want to forget Mike and I don’t want others to forget him either.

So just know that it is okay. It you have a good memory of him, share it with me. It may make be tear up but that’s okay. I do it all the time anyway so wouldn’t it be better to be crying because of a good memory than just because I am sad. I have been told and I do believe that one day I will be able to think of Mike and instead of being sad, be HAPPY. I look forward to that day! God bless!

And by the way, one of the last things that Mike told us as a family was that he wanted us to be Happy, Happy, Happy! So just know, that although we have lots of tears, we are trying to be Happy!

Don’t Be Afraid to Mention HIm

mike (2)Talk About It

Death is a part of life. Everyone experiences the death of a loved one.

“We are social beings, physical beings, and spiritual beings,” says Rev. Clay Evans. “When you lose someone you are attached to, it is normal, it is natural, for you to grieve.”

If grief is natural and is part of everyone’s life, why is there a feeling of discomfort when someone mentions the death of a loved one? Why the embarrassment when tears come during an ordinary conversation?

People in grief may avoid their friends and even their church to prevent these awkward moments. This is not how it should be. Someone needs to move beyond the discomfort. Be the first one to squelch the prevailing attitude of embarrassment and unease, and start talking about grief.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NASB).

Lord Jesus, grieving is as natural and as common as loving. I want to help make it as acceptable, too. May my healing journey spark healing in those around me. Amen.

This was my daily griefshare email this morning and it really struck home with me. I do feel like people are afraid to mention Mike to me probably because they don’t want to make me sad. But I am sad. Mike is on my mind constantly, he is in my every thought, he is everywhere I look, he is in everything I do, he is in everywhere I go, he is in my home, he is in my children, he is in my grandchildren, he is in our friends. HE IS EVERYWHERE! He was a major part of my life for more than 38 years. He will never go away. And I don’t want to forget Mike and I don’t want others to forget him either.

So just know that it is okay. It you have a good memory of him, share it with me. It may make be tear up but that’s okay. I do it all the time anyway so wouldn’t it be better to be crying because of a good memory than just because I am sad. I have been told and I do believe that one day I will be able to think of Mike and instead of being sad, be HAPPY. I look forward to that day! God bless!

And by the way, one of the last things that Mike told us as a family was that he wanted us to be Happy, Happy, Happy! So just know, that although we have lots of tears, we are trying to be Happy!

New Year’s Resolution – Live as if Today is Your Last

happy new year

As a think back to New Year’s Eve 2012, I am reminded of how of how quickly a life can change.  I remember sitting with one of my granddaughters, MaKenna, and watching the ball drop in Times Square.  As we watched this event take place, we decided that we would go to New York when her and Gracie become teenagers and experience the excitement firsthand. Everything was wonderful.  We were dreaming of things to come and Papa was sleeping peacefully in his bed.  We had no clue that in just two short months we would be saying goodbye (for now) to this wonderful husband, father and papa. 

Several weeks later, we were given the unbelievable news that Papa probably only had about a month to live.  Oh my goodness, how that news changed our lives. From that day forward, we embraced life a little differently.  We slowed down and began to enjoy every moment that we could with Mike.  We did everything possible to make sure that he was happy and content.  We fixed his favorite foods, watched his favorite shows on TV without complaining, rubbed his feet with lotion, and etc.  We no longer thought about what we needed and wanted, it was all about making sure he enjoyed his last days on this earth.  Friends and family visited often and he loved every second of it.  His wish was to be surrounded by the people he loved.  So that’s what we did.

We were lucky or perhaps I should say blessed.  We were given a warning.  We knew that Mike’s earthly life was dwindling away.  Not everyone is given that warning. 

So as you make your New Year’s Resolutions, I encourage you to let one of them be that you will live life as if Today is Your Last and treat your loved ones as if Today is Their Last.  Don’t wait until you know they are dying to spend time with them, to treat them with simple acts of kindness, and to make sure they know you love them.  You may not be given that opportunity.