Category Archive: Loss

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?

Funerals, Families and Friends

We left San Jose early Wednesday morning. Following a layover in Phoenix, we were supposed to stop in Denver without a plane change and go on to Wichita. Plans changed, and both we and the flight crew changed planes in Denver. Don and I walked from Gate 63 to Gate 25 … a decent hike. But we beat the flight crew.

Arriving in Wichita, we picked up our rental car and drove to my brother Arnold’s home, where we had a bittersweet reunion – sweet because we were together; bitter because we were here for Arn’s wife, Carol’s, memorial service.

I wrote about Carol two weeks ago. When Arn asked what she wanted for her service, she said, “Treat me with respect.” And he did that in spades. The service Saturday was a meaningful celebration of her life. After Arn and Carol traveled to and became involved with friends in Guatemala and then Honduras, Carol traveled there on her own several times to learn the language. She wanted to be able to communicate with the people who had become precious to them, and she and Arnold helped in significant ways over the years, and especially after recent years’ devastating hurricanes. After Carol’s death, dear Honduran friends sent a recording of the family singing “The Lord is my Shepherd” in Spanish. That was one of several very beautiful and meaningful songs of faith and trust at my sister-in-law’s memorial.

Arn and Carol’s daughter, Nicholee, brought some fabric home from Honduras years ago, from which Carol sewed herself a dress. After her mother’s death, Nicholee found the dress in Carol’s closet. It didn’t fit her in either size or style, so Nicholee pulled the whole dress apart, remade it and wore it at the service in honor of her mother.

Jerram and Arn at family dinner following Carol’s service

Their son, Jerram, engaged the audience and spoke of Carol’s impact on his life and on many others. He spoke of her life of service, her pragmatism, and her curiosity and creativity. Both children articulated lessons their mother taught them through her life.

The pastor give a message of hope and resurrection.

We spent time together with family and new and old friends who have served them faithfully–their housecleaner/ friend, who prepared special vegan meals for Nicholee. Tammy, who cut Carol and Arnold’s hair in their home for the past few years. The retired attorney who, with his wife, met Arn and Carol at a concert in Wichita and built a solid friendship over the past twenty or so years. Jenny, Arnold’s former student who was hired into his position at Sterling College after Arnold’s retirement. Gordon and Diane, Judy and her daughter Heidi, and Lila, who have been close friends for many years. Their pastor, Melissa.

Arnold’s siblings Melvyn, Bob, Don and I were present, as were Carol’s sister Judy and her husband Jim, their son James and his Jenny. Arnold’s two children and a spouse; five grandchildren and two boyfriends.

Arnold is greatly loved by his grands

A sense of warmth and love cocooned us throughout the entire weekend as we shared memories, laughter, and loss.

I’m reminded once again of the importance of family, and of presence. We need each other – for prayer, for love, for support and encouragement. I hate to think of my brother being widowed, but he will survive with the love of God, family, and friends who can step in for those of us who live further away.

My hope is in Jesus Christ, who promised that, for those who trust Him, He is preparing a home beyond this life. A home of rest, peace, productivity, worship, joy unspeakable. No more pain. No sorrow. No grief.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21:3-4, NIV

So we say goodbye to our dear Carol for now, and look forward to reunion later.

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