Tag Archive: Loss

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Stormy Weather

California has been slammed by the biggest storms we’ve had in five years, sending rain and wind and flooding. I heard this morning that floods result in more deaths than any other natural disaster, including the fires we’ve had over the past few years.

One of our favorite restaurants in Capitola, Zelda’s, lost most of two walls and their outdoor seating area. Don and I were there with Arn and Jenny about three weeks ago, on one of the Coast’s beautiful, sunny days.

Most of the Capitola Pier, including The Wharf, another favorite breakfast place at the end of the pier behind us in the photo, has been wiped out.

We have friends who have been evacuated from their homes due to possible levee breaks, downed trees, flash flooding, power outages, and road closures.

This shows the breakup of the Capitola Wharf.

Photo by Julie Joy Johnson

The photo to the right shows the destruction of the Capitola Wharf.

Our former church, Twin Lakes Church in Aptos (and others, I assume) is providing assistance to those who are evacuated or need help. Go to tlc.org/relief if you need assistance.

Don and I traveled Highway 17 south to Santa Cruz for two appointments on Friday. While we were rerouted to a long, narrow, curvy detour, we were able to get through. The news this morning shows one lane of the highway going south closed.

  • Mudslides.
  • Downed trees.
  • Winds up to 85 mph in some parts of the Bay Area.

For a view of the Soquel Creek passing the landmark Shadowbrook Restaurant, see this video from @TimmoRice.

https://twitter.com/TimmoRice/status/1611146972534013953?s=20&t=jiTVNMlppNvAlAO2yllISw

And for a view of Montecito Creek in Santa Barbara County, see https://twitter.com/i/status/1612541031739973633

Governor Newsom declared this a state of emergency, and it surely is for those who have lost homes, businesses, and in some cases, family members. Please pray for California as we go through another week or more of heavy storms. And for those whose homes or livelihoods are gone, and must either be demolished or rebuilt. Many will need help to recover. Pray that in this time of loss and damage many will turn to God in faith, believing He still has a good plan for them (Jeremiah 29:11).

And let’s watch for opportunities to serve those around us, whether or not we’re in a hard-hit area of the State. Jesus gave his life in place of ours – He healed the sick, raised the dead, spoke truth to all, and took the punishment for our sins on Himself so we could have eternal life. What an example! We too can reach out to those in need, whether by donating to a group that is providing food and shelter for those impacted by this storm, or by giving directly, by praying for those who have lost so much, by helping with cleanup … There are ways each of us can be engaged in ministering to those in need at this time.

 Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13:33-35

 

 

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

Loss … and Hope

Don and I were enjoying the beauty of Hawaii, its turquoise waters, clear and sunny skies, when we heard that nine people were murdered in cold blood in our hometown of San Jose, California. Nine Valley Transportation Authority employees, leaving behind spouses, children, siblings. Men between the ages of 29 and 63. The shooter then killed himself.

According to his ex-wife, the shooter often complained about his work, feeling others got easier assignments than he did. She told the Bay Area News group “When he was in a good mood he was a great guy. When he was mad, he was mad.”

These families will grieve the loss of their loved ones deeply. Little children will grow up without their fathers. Wives are left to raise children as single parents. And we need to reach out and care for them in ways we can, even while we pray for their comfort.

So much tragedy, so much loss and pain. How can we respond to such senseless violence?

person pushing a control button
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

I just read about an eighth-grade math teacher who heard gunshots in the hallway. She told her students to run to the high school and not to look back! But the teacher went into the hallway to see how she could help. A young girl holding a gun had already shot two students (who were hurt but would recover). The teacher went to see if she could help the wounded, then looked up to see the girl pointing the gun at her.

Quietly, the teacher spoke to the girl. She approached and put her hand over the girl’s hand, which held the gun. The girl released the gun. The teacher called the police but didn’t stop there. Instead, she took the girl into her arms, holding and comforting her until help arrived. The woman’s actions took courage; they also showed compassion for a young girl just forming the rest of her life.

My relationship with God through Jesus Christ has given me hope in the midst of grief and suffering. Yes, I’ve felt depressed and alone. But God never left me. He is faithful and true. Jesus said of himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV)

The apostle John wrote about God’s amazing love when he said,

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:16-17, NIV

My oldest brother gave the eulogy at my father’s memorial service. He said, “For 57 years, Dad, you’ve taught me how to live. This last month, you’ve taught me how to die.” Our father died with grace and courage, trusting that the God who led him for 85 years would not abandon him in death.

What a legacy if we can teach our children, nieces and nephews, grandchildren how to live for Jesus; and how to die with confidence in his eternal salvation.

Do you know this Jesus? Want to know more about him? Let’s talk.

Who’s in Control?

“One of the things I’ve learned this past year is that I’m really good at trusting God when I’m in control.” So said Danny Bennett, a pastor in Santa Cruz when asked what he learned during this last pandemic year. Do you resonate with that statement as I do?

Control–what an elusive idea. We like to think we’re in control, of finances, careers, families, living situations and life choices. We even have a “control” button on our computers! But often these choices are taken out of our hands, whether by illness, a pandemic and resultant shut-down, a government coup, or something else.

crop payroll clerk counting money while sitting at table
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

I work best with a budget and when it looked like we were losing a specific amount of money each month, I wore that burden heavily. That night as I crawled into bed beside Don, I said “can we talk?” And as I shared with him my frustration that I couldn’t figure out why, according to the budget, we seemed to be losing money month by month, he encouraged me, told me we’d look at it together and figure it out. The next day I received news that changed the whole picture for the positive.

My budget allows me to think I’m in control, when in reality life circumstances can change it drastically. A catastrophic illness, damage to home or vehicle, any of these and a thousand more can wreak havoc on carefully thought-out financial planning.

white metal cart inside room
Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

This past year many of us put plans on hold because of the pandemic. Families lost loved ones, here in the United States and around the world. Businesses that had done well closed for lack of customers. Doors were shuttered, furniture cleared out with “For Rent” signs in the windows. Locked in, unable to visit with external family and friends, fearful of contracting this virus, we felt out of control. We didn’t even want to make eye contact in the grocery stores!

Scripture says our lives are a vapor, a mist–gone in a moment. And we aren’t privy to when that moment will be.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.

James 4:13-15, NIV

We’re encouraged by God to plan, to dream. But not to act like we’re in control of the details of our lives. I wasn’t in control when I was threatened with disfiguration and death while ministering in the ghetto (and God protected each of us); I wasn’t in control when I left that ministry, not knowing what was ahead for my life; I wasn’t in control when my first husband died; nor when my mother died and I went into a deep depression. I’m not in control of many of the details and circumstances of my life.

scenic view of sunset sky over sea
Photo by Ben Mack on Pexels.com
person pushing a control button
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

But I know the One who is in control, and He is trustworthy and true. All I need do is take the next step, listen for His guidance and then take the next step. But we need to admit we need His help.

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

Psalm 73:28, NIV

What have you learned during this past year about yourself, God, relationships, or anything else?

Why do Good People Suffer?

How would you respond if everything you had was stripped from you…

  • Your Finances
  • Possessions
  • Car
  • Home and
  • Children

…within the space of a day?

Some of this is happening now, to those losing businesses or jobs due to the Coronavirus.

And after all this…you got a terrible, wasting sickness of painful sores from head to toe that hurt and itch so much you take broken pottery to scrape your skin, top to bottom?

On top of that, your spouse or family members tell you to curse God and die to leave this agony behind?

Many of you will recognize I’m talking about the Old Testament character of Job, the oldest written book in the Bible.

Is God capricious? Is He playing with Job?

Does Job have a right to question God about how He’s handling Job’s crisis?

Is sickness or loss (finances, property, family) always a judgment of God against sin in a person’s life?

God told Satan Job was a righteous man. Blameless.

Satan argued that Job was righteous because God had blessed him. If God removed His blessing, Job would curse God.

So God gave Satan permission to torment Job, first with loss of oxen, camels, sheep, servants, and his ten children. And Job remained righteous (“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” Job 1:21).

So Satan came back and said, “Yes, God, but if you take his health he’ll surely curse you.”

Again, God gave permission for Satan to touch Job’s body, but not to kill him.

Job had four friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu, who came to comfort him. For seven days they sat quietly with him, seeing his agony. This was good, supportive.

At the end of his rope!

Then they began to tell Job, one at a time, that he must have sinned or he would not be suffering like this. “It must be your fault!” These are not the friends I want with me when I’m in trouble.

While the friends judged his heart and talked to him about God, they never talk to God about Job. They never asked for him to be healed, to have his fortunes reversed, to stop scratching the sores on his body.

This question is often asked. Why do good people suffer and evil prevail?

Is all misfortune the judgment of God against an individual, all blessing a result of the good someone has done?

God was pretty clear on this. He continued to declare Job righteous.

The four “friends” tried to identify sin and guilt in Job. He responded to each challenge: he treated his servants well, sacrificed to God after every celebration his party animal children gave in case they cursed God during their revelries, gave to the poor, helped the widows, did not lust after other women or rely on his wealth as his security. If he had done any of these things, Job declared, he would have denied God and should be cursed. But he maintained his innocence.

Finally God interrupted the conversation, speaking in a whirlwind, thundering His own perspective on the situation. But He never directly answered the question of “Why”.

He is God. He created the beauty around us, the animals and huge beasts and people and all we see. He challenged Job’s thinking.

  • Did you make the stars?
  • Do you make the sun rise and set each day?
  • Did you make the earth, mountains, sea, lightning, thunder, rain, animals and plants?
  • Were you there when I did this?
  • Does the thing created question why the Creator made him that way?
  • Do you have the right to demand He explain His decisions?

Instead of answering the “Why me?”, God overwhelms Job with his majesty and sovereignty.

In Job 42:5-6 Job responded.

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.”

He no longer defended himself. Rather, Job recognized He could not approach God as an equal. He heard these truths about God’s majesty but now he heard it from God Himself and so, Job changed his mind about the truth of who God is.

Job’s need for truth went deeper than getting an explanation for “Why”. He needed to know that, in all, God was and is God. He is the only One wise and powerful enough to be in charge, to handle everything.

Job’s fortunes were restored in the end, and he and his wife had ten more children. And while those ten didn’t replace the ten who were lost, they did give new life to Job.

After my mother died, I grieved deeply. But her death appeared less peaceful than I would have wanted for her. My sweet, gracious mother who loved Jesus with all her heart, seemed to struggle to let go. I didn’t understand. I wanted an explanation that made sense to my rational mind and hurting soul.

But I began to realize I also felt abandoned by God. I imagine Job felt the same. My deepest pain came from feeling separation from my Father, Savior, Lord.

“I can’t live like this,” I confessed, a statement of agony, not of intent.

And slowly, He reminded me of who He is, that He indeed held my beautiful mother in His hands and she was/is His. Through prayer, scripture reading, sermons, I was reminded of His deep love and care for me, and I began to heal.

So what’s the application for you, for me?

When we suffer, we don’t need to know why so much as we need to put our trust in the One who sent His Son to die for us, to rise from that stone cold grave, conquering death and promising us eternal life in His presence. He has promised to walk with us, never to leave nor forsake us, through any challenge He allows into our path.

Faith doesn’t need to know all the whys. It does need to know God is in charge and is wise enough to handle life properly.

There is a throne in heaven. And it is occupied!

And He is worthy of our praise.