Tag Archive: Death

Jerusalem Snow

Ten inches of snow fell in Jerusalem overnight. I wakened about 4 am andView from our room looked out our hotel window to see snow resting on tree branches and stacked on our balcony railings. Jerusalem looked like a winter wonderland. Roads were closed all over the city and priority is getting the road to the airport open.

Our thirty-one congenial travelers are enjoying learning to know each other. Meal buffets at the Dan Jerusalem are amazing. Choices are varied and extensive and we are learning a bit about kosher laws i.e. no dairy along with meat. Heard of a traveler who smuggled in a small packet of creamer for her coffee, only to have a Rabbi call her out on it in the dining room.

Salad bar

Salad bar

About 10 am we gathered in the piano bar. “Sparky,” one of our travelers, played “The Old Rugged Cross” and the mood was mellow.

Sparky at the piano

Sparky at the piano

Our pastor, Rene Schlaepfer, led us in a devotional time together. At 11:20 the sun came out in all its glory, so at 12:30 we boarded our bus for a city tour. Schools were out and children and adults were playing outside. As the bus was hit by some hard snowballs, we realized there were rocks in those snowballs, older revelers hoping to break a window.

We sloshed through melting snow, around Gethsemane and its olive trees, and into the Church of Gethsemane. All the restaurants Kenny wanted to take us to were closed, so we hiked up the hill to a small food stand and enjoyed the man’s offer of hot coffee, tea, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

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Church of Gethsemane

Entering the Old City via The Lions Gate, we walked to the site of Pilate’s judgment seat and on to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, believed by the Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Coptic Christians, Arminians, and two other groups to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. We wandered through the souks and down the Via Dolorosa, where retired police officer Robert struck up a conversation with some of the Israeli soldiers. By the time we returned to the hotel we were soaked, head to toe. Don used his engineering skills to rig up an umbrella to hold one of his tennies right under the air vent so the shoe would dry overnight.???????? (It worked!)

Dinner ahead tonite, Dead Sea tomorrow.

WEEPING MAY COME …

charles and karen 2 2 4 15Tears streamed down my cheeks as I read my friend’s latest text. “Hours now.” Her husband was at the edge of eternity. And while I rejoiced that Charles would soon be welcomed into Jesus’ loving arms, I hurt.

I hurt for Karen, his beloved wife, who faces a new journey as a widow.

Don and I hurt because we will miss our friend Charles.

And he and I both grieve for the death of our respective first spouses as the pain resurfaces.

It has been a week of sorrow and tears.

Death is the enemy! But it was never part of God’s Plan. We can hate death, hate what it does to separate us from those we love, hate the pain it brings. I. HATE. Death.

But I also have hope…hope that was refreshed as Don and I recently visited Golgotha, the Garden Tomb, and the Mount of Olives where Jesus died and conquered death, and to which He will return. The tomb could not confine Jesus’ broken body to death’s decay. Instead, He, the Master of life and death, ROSE. Because He lives, we too can live–both now and eternally.

Charles has passed from this earth. But Scripture reassures us that he is very much alive in a realm we know by faith, and from the promises of God. I can picture our loving Savior taking our friend in His arms and saying “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:23)

When Don and I learned that Charles had passed, we held each other and cried. As we rested together, a precious song filled my mind.

“It is finished, the battle is over,
It is finished, there’ll be no more war.
It is finished, the end of the conflict
It is finished and Jesus is Lord…”

John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept.” When He came to the village of his friends Mary and Martha, their brother Lazarus had died and been buried. And Jesus cried. He is not removed from our suffering, nor does He leave us to navigate it alone. He has promised NEVER to leave us, NEVER to forsake us.

“When with the ransomed in glory
his face I at last shall see,
’twill be my joy through the ages
to sing of his love for me.” Charles H. Gabriel

I can imagine “our” Charles’ sparkling blue eyes looking around heaven in wonder, his body falling at the feet of Jesus, his tongue proclaiming “My Lord and my God.” I can imagine him thinking, “Oh, Karen, just wait ’til you see Him!”

For Charles, “weeping may (has) endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5).

Karen, and those of us who love both Karen and Charles, will weep. We will grieve. We will miss Charles’ infectious smile, his jokes and gentle laugh, his kind words; but we also know that joy will come in the morning, when we who free-christian-clip-art-.126follow Jesus will join Charles and the many others who have gone before, to joy in Christ’s presence forevermore.

“Sad News”

“Sad News” was Susan’s email subject line greeting me on the third day of our Alaskan cruise. She and Jack were at our home for a wonderful visit just two weeks ago. We walked the beach, enjoyed our combination of four dogs, and shared fellowship. Jack was, as he has been as long as I have known him, passionate about Bible study.

I met Susan and Jack when dating my first husband. After an evening in their home, I told Jerry I felt “fat with friendship.” The four of us developed a close friendship, prayed for and with each other, shared joys and challenges. Susan and Jack and another couple, Joyce and Dick, were with us in Mexico when Jerry and I cried as we talked of his terminal diagnosis and our uncertain future. One of my favorite photos is of Susan, Joyce and me, all wearing straw hats, sunglasses, and either turquoise or celadon green cotton shirts. It’s a cute picture and a reminder of the fun and quality times we shared.

Jack was a dog lover. Kirby was his driving buddy, sitting on the armrest next to Jack, watching him intently, resting his chin on Jack's arm.

Jack was a dog lover. Kirby was his driving buddy, sitting on the armrest next to Jack, watching him intently, resting his chin on Jack’s arm.

After Jerry died and I had a buyer for our condo in Puerto Vallarta, Susan said “I don’t want you to be there alone when you close up the place. I want to go with you.” And she did.

Now her email told me Jack’s heart stopped suddenly on Monday morning and he went home to be with his heavenly Father, the Lord he loved deeply. Jack was active in life and ministry until the last day of his life.

Dick also passed away within the last month, leaving two dear friends widowed within a month of each other.

I sobbed when I read Susan’s email. Don, my dear husband, held me while we talked and cried. Both Jack and Dick have finished their race on earth, and I grieved …

… for the loss of these dear men’s friendship
… for the pain Susan and Joyce are dealing with and the adjustments they face ahead
… for the anguish I suffered after Jerry’s death
… and for the grief that is likely in my future since Don is quite a bit older than I.

“I don’t want to lose you,” I said to Don. “But I thank God for every day we have together. And regardless of how much or little time we share, I will never regret a day of it.”

Loss is incredibly hard. It tears a person apart, putting him in a pit of despair out of which it seems one will never climb. For awhile, my life seemed surreal as I adjusted to a new and redefined life. That’s just a part of what Susan and Joyce face, along with the loneliness of missing their life partners.

This morning I went to the Bible for comfort. Psalm 8 tells us,

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth! (verses 3, 4 and 9)

Here we are, seeing the majesty and beauty of Alaska. Thirty-mile long glaciers move five feet a day. Grand, rugged snow-capped peaks take my breath away. And I am reminded that God is still in control, and He loves me … and He loves Susan and Joyce. Despite our pain, He has neither forgotten nor has He forsaken us. Death and loss are a part of life, certainly one of the hardest parts, but we do not face them alone.

I can say this because I’ve been there. Even during a crisis of faith following Jerry’s passing, God held onto me and drew me back to His loving heart. In the pain, He was there. That is the hope I cling to as I face the possibility of a second widowhood down the road. God is still in control and He loves and grieves with us.

He says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV

That is God’s word of hope to my dear friends, whose husbands were my friends as well. Susan and Joyce, I love you. God comfort you.