Category Archive: Grief

The Queen who Relied on the King of Kings

King Charles III greets members of the public outside Clarence House in London after he was formally proclaimed monarch by the Privy Council, Saturday Sept. 10, 2022. ( James Manning/PA via AP)

Queen Elizabeth II has passed from death to new life. Long live the King!

Since childhood, I have been a fan of the Queen’s. Growing up in Canada, we began each day’s class with the singing of “God Save the Queen” and a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.

Queen Elizabeth visited Winnipeg once when I was probably two or three years old. I have a vague memory of sitting on my Dad’s shoulders as we stood in a crowd of thousands, watching the Queen pass in front of us.

I kept a scrapbook with pictures and newsclippings about the Queen and her family. King Charles and I are about the same age, and I used to imagine I would marry him (the fantasies of a child–thankful that one was never fulfilled. I got my own prince!)

Billy Graham with Queen Elizabeth II in 1989

I was glad to see that The Crown, which I know is fiction inspired by fact, included scenes of the Queen meeting with Billy Graham and listening to his sermons on the tellie. Evidently the two of them built a real friendship over the years.

The Queen was a symbol of stability in the UK. The longest serving monarch in British history “reigned on the British throne for seven decades while relying on Jesus Christ, the King of kings.” (BGEA)

Was she perfect? No. Did her family face extremely difficult challenges? Yes indeed. Was she universally loved by those who experienced subjugation of one sort or another from the UK? No. But I heard that a recent poll of Britons, asked their most admired person, showed 98% listed the Queen. And from what I have read, the Queen’s faith sustained and guided her throughout her life.

A woman places flowers at Buckingham Palace in tribute to the queen. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves—from our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique Person—neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Savior, with the power to forgive. … It is my prayer that on this Christmas Day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.”

Queen elizabeth ii
christmas message, 2011

I am saddened by the loss of this gracious, funny, wise woman from the world stage. In King Charles’ speech acceptance speech he asked for the help of Almighty God. I pray he will follow in his mother’s footsteps, allowing God to guide him even while he works to modernize the monarchy.

What are your thoughts on the death of the Queen?

No More Tears

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:4, ESV

Once again the shroud of death cloaks our family, as my dear sister-in-law, Carol, wife to Arnold, left this world for heaven at 5 am Sunday.

There are so many things I remember about Carol.

Lobster fest on the East Coast after Carol’s stroke
  • Her beautiful smile when I first met Carol at Fresno Pacific College (now University).
  • Trips we took together, both before and after her stroke. The meaningful conversations over meals as we saw new parts of our country and world.
  • Her business sense as she owned and managed Decor Party Supplies in Hutchinson, Kansas for many years, until a life-changing stroke ten years ago led to the closure of the business.
  • Carol made beautiful cakes, and taught cake-making classes at Decor. She made several family celebratory cakes.
  • After my first husband, Jerry, passed away, Arn and Carol, Bob and Sheila came with me to a condo we owned in Mexico. We had fun trying Mexican cuisines from different areas. One night, at Adobe, I had my first chicken mole. Fabulous. Some mariachis came to sing a love song at our table and I began to weep, my head in my hands. Carol put her hand on my arm, expressing her understanding and love.

It took Arnold either three days or three dates to determine this was the woman with whom he wanted to spend his life. He’d dated quite a bit, so I had my questions about how serious this really was. And frankly, I was jealous. Arn and I were close, both at the same college at the same time. When I had a question or a knotty issue to untangle, I’d walk with my brother who gave a listening ear and wise counsel. Now he was enamored of this lovely woman and less available to me!

But Carol was a keeper. The first time Arn brought her to meet my parents, my father said something like, “Hold onto this one.”

There was a short time when both “Carol Froeses” (she and I) lived in San Jose and applied for work with a temp agency. Whenever the call came for Carol Froese, we’d ask “which one”? That’s kind of a tough question for an uncommon name.

She became mother to Nicholee and Jerram, and mother-in-law to Emily. Grandma to Coral, Calum, Diego, Izabella and Asa.

Carol had a heart for service, both to her community and to the world. For many years she coordinated the Sterling, Kansas Thanksgiving meal for the entire town. Carol was organized, efficient, a good leader.

She and Arn took several trips (taking students from his college classes) to Honduras, where they made deep and lasting friendships. They have continued to give support, especially in rebuilding after some of the past years’ devastating hurricanes. Their adopted family, Manuel and Flor, named their daughter Carol in honor of “Grandma Carol,” while Arnold tutors young Denzel in writing via email.

About ten years ago, Carol suffered a stroke. The doctor told Arn immediately that this was a life-altering stroke. Carol worked hard, with Arnold’s help, to regain as much mobility as possible and did very well with a walker for quite a few years before her health began to deteriorate.

Carol lost most function over the last year. Arnold was beside his wife of 55 years the whole way, feeding her, preparing her for bed, dressing her, managing her medications, and much much more.

Don and I visited Arn and Carol three and a half weeks ago, and were so grateful for our time together. Carol was quiet, head tilted to one side. A precious moment was when I gave her a long hand massage. Not much speech. Just love.

Carol is whole again. She was a loving and lovely gift to our family, and I will miss her. But I anticipate seeing her again when my call comes. There is an eternity awaiting us, and Jesus has offered us the gift of forgiveness and eternal life through his death and resurrection, paying the price for our walking away from God.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

John 14:1-3, NIV
With love, Carol

Purge of Terror – Again?

close up of wheat
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

February, 1929. Ninety-three years ago Joseph Stalin began a policy focused against Ukraine, requiring all landowners to transfer their farms and cattle to the State (collectivization). He then increased grain quotas so that farmers were unable to fulfill them, resulting in a mass genocide during Holodomor (1932-33), where about five million Ukrainians died of starvation, often putting one foot in front of the other until they fell where they stood.

While the famine also caused mass starvation in the grain-growing areas of Soviet Russia and Kazakhstan, political decrees and decisions were aimed mostly or only at Ukraine, causing more deaths there.

people from village walking in field in winter time
Photo by Plato Terentev on Pexels.com

Stalin’s purge of terror is well remembered in the Ukrainian psyche, resulting in a passion for independence and a strong sense of nationalism. When my mother and I visited Ukraine in 2006, people were proud that they were again using the Ukrainian language rather than Russian. We saw the house that had been my great grandfather’s, with his initials, “AF”, in wrought iron at the peak of the house front.

I saw the graves of some of my ancestors, and met first cousins of my dad’s who never left Ukraine. Since their father married a Ukrainian woman, he stayed–and was later executed by the Soviets. It was wonderful to meet them, and fun to communicate as best we could. I know a bit of German, which these eighty-something women knew. Mom could understand and speak the language more fluently than I, and saw a picture they brought of my father playing with these women when they were children. Oh, how she longed to take that picture home–she had none of Dad as a child, since he was twelve when his family was granted exit visas.

lady of justice statue under blue sky
Photo by Mohannad Marashdeh on Pexels.com – Statue of Mother Russia
map showing european countries
Photo by Anthony Beck on Pexels.com

February 2022. Today Ukraine is again being threatened by neighboring Russia and Belarus, with a possible invasion beginning within a week. I pray for these people who have suffered greatly under Communist oppression.

One man said “We’ve been under this threat for eight years. We will fight back.” May God give them hope, and be with them as they fight to retain their independence.

The Grand Puzzle Master

Swirls of red and white. No specific pattern. Does this piece fit here? There? Turn it around. Nope, still didn’t fit.

During these 16+ months of isolation, I purchased several puzzles. The first was of a lady in a Venetian mask and gown. While Don and I did pretty well with her face and mask, which had more definition than the red and white fabric and gold beads of her crown and gown, we would struggle to get one piece to fit, then give up for the day.

Then our grandniece and grandnephew, Cadence and Cole, came over with their parents. These children are 6 and 10, Their eyes are younger than ours (so is the rest of them)! Cole and his father filled in the bottom of the puzzle, a mix of those red and white pieces with gold braid or beads here and there. Cadence would pick up a piece, look at it and say, “I think this goes here.” We’d try and it didn’t fit. “No, turn it around.” YES!

Amazing. We didn’t finish the puzzle that day and, without their quick eyes we finally gave up on it and put it away, perhaps for a later day. Perhaps not!

I pulled out another puzzle. Same number of pieces but much more specific detail to help identify the pieces, which are larger than in the first puzzle. Cole and Cadence helped us on this one again, but Don and I were quite successful in putting sections together. We finished it!

You may not like puzzles but, if you do, you know working on them can be quite addictive.

Would you have guessed where this piece fit? It was one of the later ones we identified. Was it a football? Did it fit with the chess pieces and orange floor? No–it was part of the tennis shoes by the door. But it took us a long time to realize those were shoelaces.

When we only see the immediate circumstance, whether it’s a loss, a humbling experience, hurtful words, or even joy, we don’t always recognize how it fits into a pattern for good in our lives.

I thought of my friend Tom, who says he loves watching God move the chess pieces. God is not arbitrary, playing a game. But he is sovereign and so often brings situations or people into our lives in unexpected ways. While we may see the back of the puzzle–all the same color and different shapes, he sees the complete picture, right side up, colors and pattern intact.

So for those I love who face special challenges this week–surgery, loss of a loved one, grief, marital discord–I urge you as I urge myself, to continue to look at our sovereign God. He knows what is happening and what good he will bring from each difficulty. And if we look at him rather than the one puzzle piece, we can walk in faith–yes, sometimes with great pain–knowing that he cares about our heart struggles. In his economy, nothing is wasted, not even our tears.

You have kept count of my tossings;
    put my tears in your bottle.
    Are they not in your book?

Psalm 56:8 ESV

I just read that God never looks over his balcony and says “Oh my!” Illness, loss, wars, fires, floods may grieve his heart, but they are no surprise to him. And he has promised never to leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

And he cares about our tears, even as he looks at his grand puzzle which will one day be complete.

What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

Words and lyrics by Jim Hill

On the First Day

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

Luke 24:1-3, NIV
He is Risen – Just as He promised

Don and I shared this morning in worship and praise for the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus. I thought of all the resurrections that have happened since, because Jesus conquered death. Most prominent is my mother’s homegoing on April 4th last year, Easter Sunday this year. Today is the first anniversary of her Resurrection Morning!

Jesus’ cross was framed by criminals, one on either side of him. One mocked Jesus, saying “You say you’re the Son of God. Save yourself and us.” The other said, “Don’t you fear God…since you are under the same sentence?…We are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he turned to Jesus. “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied to that criminal, dying in agony on the cross next to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43, NIV)

In John 10:14-18, Jesus tells his disciples that he is the Good Shepherd, who gives his life for his sheep.

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.

John 10:18a, NIV
silhouette image of person praying
Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

While there’s a lot of talk about who is to blame for Jesus’ death–

  • Herod, who wanted to release him but gave in to the crowd;
  • Judas, who betrayed him;
  • the chief priests and elders, who caused the crowd to riot and demand his crucifixion;
  • the Romans, who nailed the Son of God to that blistering, rugged cross–

Jesus says he lay down his life by his choice, in obedience to his Father. And he did that because of his love for you and me. All we need do is receive that gift.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Romans 10:9-10, NIV

So how shall we live in response to God’s great love?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV

I think of that great cloud of witnesses–Moses, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, the apostles, and also the ordinary people like me who put their trust in the Savior and are now with him in glory. And I think of those near and dear to me. My first husband, my father and mother, parents-in-law, nephew Greg, grandparents, and several dear and precious friends.

I’m sure you can add your own to this list, those for whom you grieve, yet with the hope of heaven! Below is a stunning, poignant Easter duet sung by two sisters. I hope you will take three minutes to listen to the beauty of this song. May it, and the Jesus for whom we celebrate this Resurrection Sunday, give you great hope today.

https://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=1C911JNU
https://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=1C911JNU