Category Archive: Rest

Grief Survival Tools

“What are some of the tools in your grief survival kit?” This question was posed on Quora, a site I sometimes respond to. I thought it was worth mentioning some of the items that helped me survive after the devastating loss of my first husband. They included the following:

  • Family/friends who allowed me to be exactly where I was–numb, inattentive, distant, glazed, aching–and didn’t try to “fix” me.
  • Faith in the God who has promised never to leave me nor forsake me. (Hebrews 13:5)
  • Participation in a grief recovery program along with other new widows and widowers. At www.griefshare.org you can enter your zip code and find a group, as well as resources in your area. Processing loss with a trained facilitator and with others in the same life crisis was very helpful to me in understanding some of the impacts, and the timeline, of grief.
  • Prayer – my own and those of others for me.
  • God’s promises through scripture, such as the one at right which He gave me following Jerry’s death.

    God’s promises encouraged my heart

  • Reading some excellent books on grief, its impact, process, recovery. I didn’t read these immediately after Jerry’s death. I needed a bit of time to get through the initial shock before absorbing others’ ideas about grief.
  • A body pillow I purchased to hug at night.
  • A heating pad for those times when my body, in shock, couldn’t get warmed through. A great tip from my nurse friend, Fritz.
  • Sleep.
  • Work, or projects (like cleaning out the garage!) that kept my mind from focusing only on my loss.
  • Writing … whether a journal, notes to others, or blogposts … was another way of releasing the feelings tumbling about in my brain and heart.
  • More sleep.

These were some of my tools. What has helped you deal with grief?

 

Finding Treasures

Yard work – check. The large, ribbed periwinkle pot we took over to our new house has been replaced with a terracotta and green pot which looks inviting. Redwood chips were put down today, giving the new flowers a finishing touch. “Coming Soon” signs are up at the bottom of the hill and at our driveway, indicating our house will soon be on the market.

Packing – check. We have about 120 boxes packed so far. Today Don packed up his CD collection, players and sound, as well as technology items from inside the house. Yesterday Grace and I packed about 16 boxes, a new record!

I’ve emptied the credenza and most of our armoire; and will load wardrobe boxes from the moving company on Wednesday.

And I found a buried treasure yesterday! In going through shoe-boxes, one of which was filled with paperwork of Don’s, I found his wedding vows to me. I’ve been looking for those for about eight years, the length of our marriage. What he committed to me that day (and has lived out since) was so meaningful that I was sad I couldn’t find the written copy to have it in full. And there it was! I think this whole move may have been worth it just to find that gem! And finding it reminded me where our real treasure lies…in the love of God, family and friends, and the memories of those precious, irreplaceable moments in our lives.

Saturday we worshipped in our much-loved church, Twin Lakes in Aptos; we enjoyed pizza afterward with a group of friends whom we’ll miss!

But we’re beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. Through this long summer of packing and prepping, through a remodel and sale prep, God has been with us as he promised. While at times we’ve both been exhausted and a bit short, for the most part Don and I have supported and upheld and encouraged each other in our various responsibilities.

So another new season is about to begin. A new home, new neighborhood, finding a new church and fellowship and shopping and doctors and dentists…being nearer my mother and several other family members…having less property to care for and hopefully more time to write and also to take off together (and with Paigey) for the day, or to sit and watch the local wildlife from our back patio (bobcats, wild turkeys, deer…). More time to be still and enjoy our God, the beauty of his creation, and each other. The REAL treasures!

We look forward to what this new season will bring!

How about you? Finding, or reveling in, any treasures lately?

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 ESV

Oops … Overload Strike!

My friend told me her mother’s memorial service was on June 23. Somehow  the month, “June,” didn’t register, but the 23rd did. Don and I were scheduled to leave for a grandson’s graduation in Idaho on the 24th. “I’m so glad we can attend before we leave.”
We drove an hour over the hill to Cupertino two Wednesdays ago and were surprised the church parking lot was so empty. Surely there would be more people present to celebrate the life of our dear friend, June McCuistion. Where were they? We saw only a few employees around, and in some trepidation walked up to the front doors of the church, which were closed but not locked. Opening them, we looked into a dark sanctuary!
Don and I looked at each other. Oh, my, did I get the wrong church? The wrong time?
Pulling out my phone, I was about to check back in my messages when a lady stepped out of an office.
“Are you looking for June M…” I finished her sentence. “McCuistion. Yes.”
“It’s June 23rd,” she responded. “You’re the second couple who’s been here today.”
Oh my. At least we weren’t alone in our mistake. We could have gotten annoyed with each other (or especially, Don with me!). I’d made several faux pas in the last three weeks, and I could have been down on myself. Well, I was … a little. But we managed to laugh at ourselves, and enjoy the time together as we drove back home. And we’ll return on June 23rd for the REAL service!
I’d had a lot on my mind … meetings with contractors, preparing for our trips to Mexico and Idaho, for social engagements, for upcoming guests coming our way, and for our planned Fall move. Overload! And then things, like the month of a service, slipped through the cracks of my overcrowded brain cells.
Have you done that? I’d love to hear some silly thing you did when you had too much going on.
We are delighted to be home again and to have no trips planned in the next months. As Don planted flowers and leveled a birdbath yesterday afternoon, I took him some iced tea. We sat together on our porch glider, enjoying the beauty and open space that are our view. Variegated shades of green in grass, trees and shrubs; multi-colored flowers; white fences; and the stillness spoke to us of peace and rest. I felt a great sense of contentment as my honey and I held hands and talked. Once again I’m reminded how critical it is in the midst of our demanding lives (yes, even as retirees) to stop and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, to sit with those we love and enjoy each day as a gift. And I’m a better person for stopping to enjoy the moment.

“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6:30-32)

If even Jesus’ disciples needed to stop and rest, to get away from the busyness of life, how much more do we need to “come apart” for times of refreshing.

May you be renewed with quietness in Jesus’ presence this week!

In Quietness and Confidence

Don and I dressed nicely, business casual, anticipating getting together with our new tenants for the first time, as well as meeting soon-to-be neighbors at a community gathering. After greeting our tenants and taking the measure-ments we needed for our plans to upgrade the house before moving in later this year, we wound down the hill to the clubhouse, where we enjoyed a delicious meal overlooking the golf course, flowers, and the sway of the wind in the willows.

We wanted to be a bit early for the meeting to discuss external paint colors for the homes in our Village, so drove up to the Forest Community Center and parked the car. We wandered into the room, about two minutes early, to see 25-30 people there. “Good turnout,” I thought.

It seemed everyone was looking at us. I lip-read as one woman mouthed “Does anyone know them?” As we walked into the second row to take our seats, confident we were in the right place, a woman approached. “May I help you?”

“We own the home on Caledonia and are here for the paint color meeting.”

“I think you’re in the wrong place. This is the Village Voices.”

I pulled out the announcement and reread it … the meeting we wanted was the following night, Thursday. Oh boy! But the people were welcoming. A large man smiled, reaching out his hand: “I’m Ed. Stay and sing with us.” Another said “Stay and make a joyful noise.”

We left, chuckling at our mistake but also warmed by the welcomes expressed to us by those in the community chorus.

Do you sometimes feel there’s just too much on your plate? Too many appointments to remember? Between doctors’ appointments, physical therapy, and other commitments, I obviously wasn’t keeping it all straight.

Our cousins, Edith and Brian Peters, are visiting from near Winnipeg, Canada. Two nights ago Edie sat at our piano and began to play. We’d had a full day. Don, Brian and I sat in the living room, quiet, listening to the sweet music emanating from the piano under the skill of Edie’s fingers. And I remembered the scripture that says “In quietness and confidence is your strength.”

Quietness …

  • allows me to regroup,
  • to recharge,
  • to sort out the important from the mundane,
  • to let some things go.

It increases my coping resources for the challenges that face me daily.

And confidence in my God …

  • who never sleeps,
  • who is always present,
  • who has promised never to leave nor forsake me,

gives me strength that is not dependent on my own limited resources.

“Keep me still, Lord, before you; help me rest in Your presence, to hear your still, small voice, to follow your lead, to trust you one step at a time and let the chaos slip away as I move, cocooned in Your Holy Spirit.”

I wish for you–and for me–a week of quiet, confident strength.

I Listen Best in the Quiet …

“I speak to you continually. My nature is to communicate, though not always in words. I fling glorious sunsets across the sky, day after day after day. I speak in the faces and voices of loved ones. I caress you with a gentle breeze that refreshes and delights you. I speak softly in the depths of your spirit, where I have taken up residence. …

Practice looking and listening for Me during quiet intervals. Gradually you will find Me in more and more of your moments. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me above all else.”

These words from Sarah Young’s JESUS CALLING touched my heart. They resonated with my thoughts about rest these last weeks. God speaks to me in  many ways. Some, like a soft breeze, are tender and enveloping, like a sweet whisper on the air. Others, like a thunder and lightning storm, are an awesome display of His creativity and power. And a radiant, coral-colored sunset speaks to me of His glory.

Don and I traveled a lot this Spring. Six trips in the last six months. Each has been meaningful: opportunities to walk and talk and bask in the beauty of God’s creation and man’s creativity in other parts of the world; to serve staff and children in Mexico whom we’ve learned to love over the past eight years; to learn and share and deepen writing skills at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference; and to travel to Canada with my mother to reconnect with many extended family members we haven’t seen for years.

We are grateful for these opportunities God gave us to travel, meet new friends, serve others, and meet family again. But our delight in travel caused us to plan a little too much in too compressed a time this Spring. Don felt he had to accomplish three times the amount of work between trips in order to prepare for our next absence. I tried to do laundry, schedule transportation, and prepare for the next trip while writing and keeping in touch with family and friends here. We felt unable to catch up at home between jaunts. Don’t misunderstand–I’m very grateful for these blessings; but scripture also tells us to rest, to plan wisely. Don and I agreed we didn’t do that this year and have committed to more time at home next Spring.

Since being home these past two weeks without another trip in the wind, we both feel more relaxed. We’ve been able to work at a reasonable pace. We’ve taken time to sit on our glider swing and enjoy the gentle breeze while eating a light lunch and catching up with each other, or planning for changes in the garden, or just laughing with each other over some little tickle to our funny bone. Yesterday I sat at the piano and played, a time of personal worship, something I haven’t done for a long time.

So, I am enjoying taking more naps, putting my feet up, playing “grab the stick” with Paigey, being with people we love, and sitting with my guy. And I’m thankful for this particular season of refreshing.

If God doesn’t build the house,
    the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city,
    the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
    and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
    giving rest to those he loves?” Psalm 127:1-2 MSG

My prayer is that you will experience God’s rest this week in a meaningful way.

QUESTION: How do you best experience rest? Are you in need of it right now? I’d love to hear.