Loving One Another

Archive for the ‘Life and Death’ Category

What Do You Believe?


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Terminal or Eternal?

T ime on
E arth is not
R evolving.
M inutes spent
I n mortality
N ever repeat.
A lways spend each one
L ovingly and joyfully.

Time on earth is terminal.

Some believe in a revolving door called reincarnation, believing they’ll return as another person if the good deeds they do in this lifetime do not raise their karma above the 50% mark. Reincarnation becomes a chance to try it again. Be better, kinder, more loving and more wise the next time around, and eventually the Karmic Board will judge you worthy. Your life will tip the Karmic Scale and you’ll earn the right to resurrection and life in Eternity.

Others believe when this terminal life as a human being is over, they’ll return as a creature. They talk about what it might be like to come back as a family pet or as a bee, a bird, or a lion.

Acknowledging that life on earth is terminal, some think that this is all there is. When we die, that’s it. From dust we come; to dust we will return. No reincarnation. No resurrection. No nothing. What a bleak, meaningless existence that must be!

As for me, I believe life on earth is terminal. I don’t believe I’ll return as another person. I don’t see myself coming back in the form of another earthly creature. But, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this brief earthly life is not all there is. I want to live in love and peace, to spread joy and hope, and to serve my Maker and others. But, I don’t live giving out blessings because I think I’m earning the right to live eternally. I don’t serve to rack up points and move a notch closer to God in Heaven in the “After-Life.” My place already has been secured. I serve out of gratitude, hopefully with an attitude of generosity – grateful for the fact that the price was paid. Paid by God’s Son.

That’s what Easter is all about. It’s not bunnies and colored eggs, frilly new dresses, fancy hats, and patent leather shoes. It’s about a Man named Jesus, a span of three years of ministry on earth, teaching us how to live and how to treat one another, and a forty day period we call Lent. Lent is the time when Jesus was accused, tried, convicted for our sins, beaten, crucified on a cross, and buried in a tomb. Because He died with, “Father, forgive them,” on His lips, I am assured of my forgiveness. I know because He rose again, and because He lives, and because He promised, “I go to prepare a place for you,” when my terminal life on earth is over, I will take that place in Eternity reserved for me. My soul will live on. This is not the end.

This is what I believe. Easter assures me. This life is only the beginning.

Hallelujah! Happy Easter!

First Sunday in Advent


advent-coming

Only God knows when
The Son of Man will come.
When we least expect Him,
He will overwhelm some.

But, as Christians, we
Won’t be surprised at all.
God already is with us,
So we live expecting His call.

We can’t solve our mortality.
We can’t achieve eternal life.
We know our days are limited
As we live in both joy and strife.

Our lives are vulnerable;
We find security in routine.
But with God, no day is mundane.
We are at risk. Know what I mean?

When God is revealed in you,
You live expecting the end,
And you understand intrusion
With continuation around the bend.

God will come, so be prepared.
He’ll come to you and lift you
To life in His Kingdom.
In anticipation, know He’ll shift you.

Divine Advent; Be ready!
God will break in like a thief in the night.
He will just show up!
So, better live in His Light.

Amen?
Amen!

Life & Death/Health & Healing


love hearts

Love poured out from all sides
After toxins poured out from my insides.
My appendix burst while (what gives?)
I treated the pain with laxatives.

Pretty stupid, I agree, but you see
I’d suffered a month of pain at high degree
Related to pneumonia and all the side
Effects of antibiotics and meds I tried.

So when my tummy ached real bad,
I thought it was from bowel restrictions I had.
Massage with essential oils and a heating pad
Didn’t ease – just aggravated – Eeee Gad!

Time to go to the emergency room,
My husband admonished my stubborn gloom.
The doc sent me to the MRI machine –
With the pain so bad I wanted to scream.

Diverticulitis was his best educated guess,
But he sent the tests to an expert – good progress –
Who looked them over and sent back the news:
“Burst appendix! Not a guess – just look at the clues!

Put her in an ambulance with IVs in place.
Antibiotics will kill the toxins in her space.
Get her to the surgery center, lickety-split,
Not a moment to lose – good thing she is fit.”

Taking care of your health at any age
Is crucial to fighting an appendix rage.
You don’t know when that cornichon pickle
Will decide to act up. It’s not like a tickle!

The pain of appendix is like child birth.
When it bursts, it is worse. Hold your girth!
But don’t try massage or heating pads, nope –
They make it worse. Take it from this ole dope!

We texted our family and many a good friend
To tell them the news and ask them to send
Prayers to our Maker to spare this fine life
And help heal the insides of Bob’s wife.

Not only did God listen and heal her he did,
But He offered compassion and love with no lid.
The sympathy poured in. The help overflowed.
The doc laparoscopically flushed til it glowed!

A week in a bed in a hospital room was a lot,
But the doc said at my age, the poison is fought
With less sure success than with the typically younger,
So be patience and heal while you regain your hunger.

The appetite’s small and the patience is short
When you’re strapped to a bed, I can report;
And a good RN is worth her weight in gold.
That was revealed clearly as the week did unfold.

The story below is a vivid description
Of one of the incidents that left its inscription
Indelibly stamped on my mind and my heart –
A sure-fire way to tell those nurses apart!

 

“What are you doing?” I asked the stranger who was busy hooking up some red glowing gadget to a finger on my right hand.

“Checking your blood pressure,” she responded as she hooked up a gadget to the index finger on my left hand. “Lean forward!” the bossy lady in white commanded.

A shrill sound like a wailing fire alarm went off as she pushed some kind of gizmo under the cushion of the chair where I was sitting in room 203 at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital. The old sourpuss pushed a button and stopped the alarm, but the right hand continued to glow and the left hand gadget beeped on a machine standing at my left ear.

“How do I stop that blasted thing?” I asked as she headed toward the door.

“Breathe more deeply;” she walked out and shut the door as she finished her sentence, “your oxygen level is too low. It’ll stop when…”

She was gone and I was sitting on a fire alarm, hooked to an incessant beeper, glowing with a red sparkler. I breathed deeply. The beeping continued. The fourth of July was still two weeks away. I was not ready for fireworks and sparklers! I was ready to kill the person who suddenly appeared out of nowhere, altering my world with no apparent authority to do so, and who left me – a sitting time bomb!

I had been in the hospital for about three days – maybe only two, I don’t know. Time flies when you’re having fun, right? I wasn’t! On the Saturday before, sometime while I was still at home in Ennis, suffering from what I thought was constipation, barely enduring a miserable stomach-ache, taking laxatives to try and get the bowels moving, my appendix burst. I had no way of knowing that’s what it was. By the time my husband took me to the Madison Valley Medical Center ER around 7:00 PM, I was in such pain, it resembled childbirth.

The PA on duty thought the MRI results indicated diverticulitis. He started me on antibiotics and pain killers. The test results were sent to an expert in Bozeman. That doctor sent back test results and instructions, “It’s a burst appendix. Be sure she has an IV with antibiotics and hydrocodone. Put her in an ambulance, and get her to our surgery center immediately!” The antibiotics probably saved my life. The toxins had exploded throughout my abdominal cavity. The surgeon said it looked like a cannon had gone off in there.

I sat on the chair, the beeper driving me crazy, the sparkler glowing and the call button over on the bed, just out of my reach. Nurse Ratched, the tyrant, had left it there when she exited my room. I could feel my blood pressure rising by the minute. I could stand it no longer! I stood up, the fire alarm under my butt sounded. My REAL nurse came running in.

“What’s up?”

“Who was that person who came and took over my world and hooked me up to all these things and left me stranded? Who gave her authority to do these things? Why are they necessary?”

As calmly as she could, my assigned RN said, “I don’t know. Let me find out.” She left without turning off the alarm or the beeper.

I was about to go crazy when she returned and silently began removing all the appendages.

“What gives?”

“Oh, not to worry,” my RN responded calmly. “She was in the wrong room!”

 

Ah, good health renewed – I’m on my way –
I can look back at all that drama someday
And smile as I thank God for answered prayer,
For help and healing and all that love to spare.

Easter Sadness


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I have heard holidays are sad times for some people. There are more suicides near the various holidays each year than at other times of the year. Have you heard that? Have you ever related to such sadness? I’m not THAT sad, but this was not a typical Happy Easter day.

I grew up in a typical American family in the center of California. At least I thought we were typical. Since then I have begun to question what is “normal” – is there such a thing as “typical”? In my world, I Love Lucy and Bugs Bunny made me laugh, Sundays were church and family time, gatherings at our house or at relatives’ homes were the norm for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. So, when I found myself in a funk this year as Easter approached and no family was coming to gather, I should not have been surprised, right? Wrong! I was caught off guard! Where is the laughing, carefree Bugs Bunny when you need him?

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Our church hosted a potluck after church today –  Easter Sunday; designed just for folks like Bob and me whose family is a thousand or more miles away. Ham would be provided. Last night I created my favorite comfort food for the occasion- scalloped potatoes Andre’ style. I put them in the garage refrigerator for safe-keeping. I spent an hour this morning up in my sanctuary, as usual, in prayer and Bible Study, in meditation as I listened to the robins singing outside the the window. “He is risen indeed!” Shake it off, Jan! ReJOYce! It’s Easter!! Pick up your music. Pick up your Easter lily. Pick up your spirits. Get to your house of worship!

We arrived at church 45 minutes early to practice with the choir. Surely potatoes au gratin and “Up From the Grave He Arose” would lift my sagging spirits. Oh no! I forgot the potatoes where I had safely stored them in the garage refrigerator last night! A dear friend, Susan, who arrived early to work on the potluck volunteered to drive back to our house to get them. Only five minutes away, thank God! Christian friend to the rescue! God bless her. She put them in the church oven and returned to her seat in the pew just as the service started.

I perused the church bulletin. The songs were not “He Lives!” or “Hallelujah, He is Risen.” Instead, “Low in the Grave He Lay” and “In His Time” with a sermon topic, “Failure.” What? Here I am feeling low, missing family, beating myself up for forgetting to bring the potatoes, and the sermon topic is about FAILURE? I drew a sad face next to it! I was not prepared for a downer message from the pulpit! But then as the service began, we all sang, “He Has Made Me Glad!” and the choir sang, “In Christ Alone/Solid Rock.” My spirits were lifting and I paid particular attention to the words of the next song, “Hymn of Promise,” by Natalie Sleethe. The second verse especially spoke to me:

   “There’s a song in every silence, speaking word and melody;
   There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
   From the past will come the future; what it holds a mystery,
   Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”

What a wonderful segue into the sermon. Listen carefully, Jan. Take your sermon notes in poetry – as you usually do – and see what “Failure,” as spoken by Reverend Jean Johnson, says to you:

Silence is in Failure.
Shouts in Victory.
Resilience lies in Failure –
Lessons there for you and me.

Moral Victory or Losing?
Which lesson do you see?
Is the score the truest measure
Of a win for you and me?

Defeat: Success is gone.
Rationalization: Better now.
Reality: Acknowledgement –
There’s a future – somehow!

Failure feels miserable.
Hope seems surely gone.
But the loss is temporary.
New beginnings greet the dawn.

God doesn’t call it quits.
He fills our loss with LOVE.
His peace is ours eternal;
Ours is Victory from above.

Christ defeated death and darkness.
Shouts of VICTORY ring ever true.
His resurrection is our promise.
Hope rings eternal for me and you.

Amen? Amen!

I drew a cross next to that sad face – and on the other side of the cross, a happy face.

No need to stay in a funk! Listen to the last verse of Natalie Seethe’s “Hymn of Promise.”

“In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity:
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”

Thank You, God. Thank You for Jesus… for His life, His death, and His resurrection. Thank You for the promise of Eternity. Thank you for helping me see You, the source of all life and hope, all joy and peace, all compassion and justice – alive and victorious this day and always. May my life be a witness to the new life You offer. You are new every morning. So am I! Happy Easter!

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Jumpin’ Jack Rabbit


Jack_Rabbit_1

We have a family of jack rabbits who live under our porch. It is such fun to watch the bunnies emerge, tiny and vulnerable, with the most amazing ability to jump great heights and long distances. Our neighbors have jack rabbits who live in their field. Curious about humans and their habitations, the bunnies often hop over to inspect the house. Doggie doors are not a good idea. Not only might jack rabbits find their way in (as did this bunny when we left our double doors open one afternoon in our downstairs bedroom), but skunks, badgers, and coyotes might become unwelcomed house guests as well!

This week my husband received a phone call from Texas. It was our neighbor’s husband. His wife had called him in a panic because a little jack rabbit had jumped into the hole of their downstairs window grate. Try as it may, bouncing like a… well, like a jack rabbit… it could not leap high enough to escape. She watched the frantic creature and recalled an incident a year ago when something similar happened. They were not home to see and help it, so the bunny died. They found it weeks later when they returned. The only reason they discovered the carcass was that the smell drew them to the area!

Determined not to let this bunny meet the same demise, she called her husband. Now, what was he to do from Texas to Montana? Why she didn’t call us – or one of the other neighbors – I have no idea! But, that’s what her husband did. We weren’t home at the time, so he called the next neighbor. At a neighborhood dinner last night, we learned the outcome. Oh, how I wished I had been there to capture the incident on video!

Dashing over to help the damsel in distress with her trapped rabbit, Bob discovered the frantic creature still bouncing as high as it could inside the window box grate. He lifted the grate out of the window well, set it down on the ground in front of him, and as the jumpin’ jack rabbit leaped, he placed his hand under the bunny’s tummy and gave him a boost. Up and over his head she went (with his help, of course) and off she bounded! The neighborhood gathering got s good chuckle out of it as we imagined the story Little Jack must have told his bunny mates when he returned to the hole in the field.

Do you suppose a screen over that window well might be a good idea?

Believe me, we learned to be sure our downstairs door is closed!

 

What’s in Gray?


So much is being written and spoken about the Boston bombings and the brothers – some say they are sick and disturbed; others say kind and compassionate. Some say cruel, out-of-their-minds, while others attest to their normalcy, their friendliness. Their uncle called them “losers” but went on to define them as simply “lost” young men – who never really learned to “fit in”  after they immigrated to the USA. He saw something objectionable years ago… and distanced himself and his family from them. Whatever adjectives we use to describe them, we know this for sure: they committed those heinous crimes. So much hate is emitted from them – toward them – so much evil.

Our Writers’ Group met last Friday. We meet every first and third Friday each month. We begin our time together with a “Free Write” – fifteen minutes of writing – on a random topic, a subject pulled out of a hat. Then we share with one another what we have written.

Last Friday the random topic was a strange one: “What’s in Gray?”  I thought about it a long time. Then, this is what I wrote:

“What’s in Gray?”

Gray is black and white –
But gray is neither.
Gray is right or wrong.
Can it be either?

Gray is “Not Been Tested,”
– like stretchin’ out the law.
Gray is on the tip
Of a red tail hawk’s claw.

Gray is often in
The color of the hair
On an older person’s head –
Wise enough to leave it there.

Gray is in the tolerance
Of seeing the multiple views
On NBC, FOX, and CNN,
When watching ugly news.

Some only see the black;
Others screen in simply white.
But life is seldom pure,
So in the gray may be some light.

Lighten up the darkness
With the white of joy and peace.
Entertain some gray, friends.
In it, you’ll find release.

– Jan Beekman
– April 19, 2013

I’ve given a lot of thought to the “captivity of extremes.” That’s where the word “release” comes from. For me, all terrorists are victims of EXTREME. They are captured by extreme thinking. They have allowed themselves to be brainwashed or they have become mentally ill. They cannot let the white of joy or peace into their lives. Life is bleak and black for them. Bombings, killings, suicides, wars of all nature are the result of people whose thinking has become so skewed to the extreme that they have failed to see humanity, to feel love in its pure form, to allow any movement away from the corner they’ve painted for themselves. Gray is not a part of their mental capacity and logic is lost. There is no point in trying to REASON why they act as they do. Reason is gone – buried in the extreme – lost is the black bleakness of their terror. For these Captives of Extreme, death and destruction is the only option. They have become incapable of letting the light – the enlightenment – find a way into their miserable world. Can this be changed? Is there hope for the hopeless? Only God knows.

What a bleak week this has been!

A Bleak Week


I wrote this and it sat in my “draft folder.” I don’t know why. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to be posted in the midst of the turmoil, but as a reminder now – to keep on praying. It’s not over for those caught in the middle of it! It’s only begun for some.

A Bleak Week unfolded.
Depressing and dreary to be sure.
Horrifying, frighteningly hair-raising.
Heart-breaking and sobering,
Defying explanation.
Beyond comprehension.
Bombings in Boston,


Explosions in Texas,


Senseless killings,


Needless deaths,


Water overflowing banks – Flooding,


Earthquake in China,
More than a million people affected.


A bleak week indeed
– and the misery continues.
Tragedy upon tragedy.

My heart weeps.
God is crying with us all.
He gave us free will; He didn’t want puppets.
But, oh my, how it must break God’s heart
To see the devastation.
Innocent bystanders mowed down.
Innocent bystanders stepped up.
The air was electric.
The energy, enthusiasm, and love
Were palpable as desperate victims
Gratefully accepted whatever help
Good Samaritans could offer.
Life-saving operations,
Belts and shirts torn off – used as tourniquets,
Bravery only God knows.


Blue Sky turned gray
With ash too thick for tears
To wash it away.
Tears mingle with Texas fertilizer.
Tears increase rains in Illinois and Iowa.
Gray water, gray skies, gray days.


Gray tombstones.
A Bleak Week.

Bravery continues.

Continue to pray.
There is so much hurting out there!

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