NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

Death is not the end

Hopefully I’m not ruining the new Avengers movie for anyone, but if you haven’t seen it and don’t want any spoilers, maybe you should wait to read this blog post, although I won’t give anything too specific away.

This last week has brought a lot of change for me and a lot of interaction with death and it’s nearness. Last week my grandma started getting hospice treatment. She started with still doing her normal routine of coming to the kitchen for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But she soon had a harder time walking to and from her room and then last Sunday we had her moved into a hospital bed and our nurse said she’s not leaving the bed. That was a big change for me. I didn’t realize how fast this was going to go. I knew she had liver cancer and she was slowing down and eating less, but going from walking to bedridden was a big step and seemed to happen too fast.

Since then we’ve learned all about caring for her while she’s in a bed, how to help her sit up and move around and get changed. And hospice has been great with helping us through that. But in only a week I’ve seen her go from a bit of conversation, eating, drinking and even playing dominoes, to barely responding to our voices and mostly sleeping. We’re getting close to the end now. Last night our nurse came to check on her and she said it’ll be about a week.

I’ve done a lot of crying, especially when all her kids and grandkids gathered to sing, pray and share stories with each other and her on Saturday. It’s hard to let go, but I know she’s going to a better place and this is not the end.

And well, in the middle of all this I saw Infinity War. In the movie a lot of characters die, but the first time I watched the movie I didn’t cry at all. It’s like I just knew this isn’t the end and there is hope, partially because there is a part 2 to this movie and the next one will probably have a lot or all of the characters come back to life.

But I just found it interesting that with the movie and my grandma I can still find hope even in the midst of the death. It is sad and I don’t want to say goodbye. But for those in Christ, we have a sure hope that there is a Part 2 for us too, that there is a future for us, one without pain or suffering, or death. I also was finishing reading Revelation this past week and it was so nice to read about the new heaven and new earth and what all I have to look forward to.

So in case anyone else out there is going through something similar. Here are two verses that are bringing me comfort.

“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

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!'” Revelation 14:13

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My Story

My church has been encouraging our congregation to think about our story and answer three questions about our life. I thought it would help me if I wrote out my answers and since the whole point is to be able to share our stories with others and listen to theirs, I thought why not share it here? So here’s my answer to the three questions.

1. Why Do I Follow Jesus?
There’s a lot of ways I could answer this, and it might change some depending on the day or what I’ve been reading in His Word or learning at the moment. But one of the biggest overarching reasons that I follow Jesus is because He has promised never to leave me or forsake me. When I was a kid, I was terrified of being alone. I didn’t want to be forgotten or left out. I clung to my family like a lifeline and never wanted to be left somewhere. I had terrible separation anxiety. In fact many times my parents would let me go with them to the adult church services because it was just easier for all of us. But when I learned about Jesus, that He would never forget me or let me down, that I would never be alone if He was with me, it calmed a fear in my heart that nothing else ever has. Because deep down I knew that even though my parents loved me, they wouldn’t always be there for me. One time they forgot me at school, and I know one day they will leave this world and me. But Jesus promises over and over again in His Word that He will never leave us or forsake us. No matter what I’m going through, no matter how I feel, or what I’ve done, He is there. And when I remember that I can have peace.

2. How did you get started following Jesus?
Well my older brother was telling me about Jesus and how if I believed in Him I could go to heaven. And when I found out all of my family believed in Jesus and was going to heaven, well I didn’t want to be left behind. So I prayed and asked Jesus to come into my heart. Even before that moment, my parents had always taken me to church, but this first step started me on the path of following Jesus for myself. And as I got older and began to understand more of who God is and who I am and what He’s done for me, my faith grew and strengthened and matured. I learned how to trust Him, believe his promises, and obey Him.

3. What has changed since you started following Jesus?
Gosh so many things have changed. I used to be terrified of speaking up, like talking to people I didn’t know or giving a speech in front of people. It’s still my preference to listen rather than talk, but I can talk to people now, especially when I feel God prompting me to do it. And I’ve learned to trust Him in my weaknesses and learn that even though I don’t like to speak in public, He can use if for His glory. And if I rely on Him in it, it’s not as hard. I’ve also grown in not worrying as much. I can still get stressed about things, but it’s easier for me to stop and remember that He is in control and has the best plan. I don’t have to do everything perfectly or know all the variables because everything is under His control. I’ve also learned to be more patient. I always thought I was pretty patient and easy-going, but God has stretched me and grown me in it, especially when it comes to helping people with anxiety. My sister went through and continues to deal with panic attacks, severe anxiety and sometimes depression. And in the course of learning how to encourage, comfort, pray for and come alongside her, I’ve learned how to help when other people in my life also get nervous or anxious. I guess I was the anxious one when I was a kid, but as I’ve grown, God’s shown me how I can trust Him in the midst of it and also help others to trust Him. It’s been really cool to see how I’ve changed but also how He’s grown the people I’ve helped and prepared them to be used by Him as well. I love getting to be a part of God’s family. He’s shown me that not only is He always with me, but I also have a family in Christ, even in other countries. I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without Jesus. He is my everything and I couldn’t do it without Him.

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Refurbishing Yourself

For the past 8 weeks my church has been going through a series called Life’s Healing Choices. It’s a step study based on taking an honest look at yourself and seeing what needs to change and how to start that process. And then today, we just started work on refurbishing our kitchen. I can see several similarities about the two processes, so why not write a blog about it?

The Kitchen (Before)

Anyway, before you can do anything, the first step is always realizing there is a problem. For our kitchen it was things like moldy old cork board, a sliding door that was coming out of it’s rail and chipped tile. But for yourself, it could be a whole mess of personal issues. For me I recognized my tenancy to want to be in control and not admit my problems. I tend to listen to other people’s problems and not talk about my own. There’s definitely some pride in there as well.

Our broken door

But that’s just the first step, then I have to realize I can’t fix all of this on my own. For our kitchen, we realized we needed someone else to make new cabinets, take out the old stuff, raise the ceiling, and put in new tile… among other things. And for my own heart, and habits, I needed to realize I couldn’t change myself with my own will power. I can stop a bad habit for a little while, but then I give up. And I can remind myself not to be prideful and then fall right back into pride when I feel like I’m doing it well. What I need is God’s power to help me and His truth to guide me and fill me.

One of the steps in the kitchen process was cleaning out of the stuff in the kitchen: the dishes, storage containers, food, pots, pans, decorations, etc. And one of the important steps in Life’s Healing Choices is making an inventory and actually writing out the hard stuff, like who has hurt you in the past, and how you’ve hurt others, and things you feel guilty for and need to admit. But when you finally finish emptying the kitchen, there’s a big weight removed, and the same thing happens with the inventory.

The cleaned out kitchen

Then when you finally reveal your deepest darkest secrets to God and another person, (tell someone everything that is on your inventory) there is freedom in that. And it’s sort of like how my house looks now. All of the old junk has been ripped out and we’re getting ready to start building it back up again. It may not be easy, and it definitely isn’t pretty, but you can’t get the new kitchen without taking out the old one, and you can’t be the person you want to be without confessing what is wrong with you and admitting it honestly.

Kitchen after Demolition

And then it moves on to the slow change. It doesn’t happen overnight. Just like it will take at least a month to build up our new kitchen, it will take time to change your habits and ways of thinking. One way I’m trying to start that is by meditating on God’s word before I go to sleep. I’d found myself being anxious or restless and not being able to sleep well, so I’m reviewing verses I’m trying to memorize right before I turn off the light.

I’m sure that’s not the only change I’ll have to make, but everyone has to start somewhere. So anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post and remember that no one can change on their own. We all need help from each other and from God. And it is a very long process, one that will continue throughout our lives. But in the end, it’ll be worth it.

Some of the guys helping us with the kitchen

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Jackie Robinson and Making a Difference

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The other night I got to see 42 the Jackie Robinson movie that was released a couple of years ago. I love historical films and seeing how people who stand up for what’s right can make a change in the lives around them. I was so impressed with the Christian elements in this story, especially when Jackie had to face verbal and sometimes physical abuse and constant threats but that by doing it, he brought racism into the light and showed it for what it was.

As the movie progressed it showed more and more people realizing their own racist views were wrong and they began to change and see the need for others to change as well. Racism was and still is a big problem in the world, but seeing how things were and how they are now, I’m excited to see improvement. And it gives me hope that other issues in our society these days can change as well.

But the way you bring about change is just as important as what you’re trying to change. Just because what you want to change is needed and important doesn’t mean you can go about it however you see fit and to the hurt of others. We need to face this world’s problems with a heavenly perspective and rely on Jesus’s strength. I’m still learning what that means practically.

Sometimes it might mean staying quiet and not fueling arguments. Jackie Robinson did that a lot, he had to resist the temptation to lash out and defend himself. Sometimes it means speaking up on someone else’s behalf like Jackie’s teammates started doing for him. And sometimes it’s pointing people back to what the truth is, as Branch Rickey did when he told the people around him what the Bible said about what they were doing. He wasn’t very popular, but sometimes that’s what is needed.

But over all these practical things, the biggest thing to remember is that change ultimately comes from God. We can have good intentions, say the right things, be a godly example to those around us and still nothing will change. What only God can fix is the root of every single problem in our world: the sinful heart. Without that change, any other change can’t happen or won’t last. So pray, pray, pray for God to work and follow where He leads, and one day Jesus will return and He will restore this world to perfection.

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2014 and Change

New Year'S Day, New Year'S Eve, Sylvester, Fireworks

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/new-year-s-day-new-year-s-eve-234805/

As this year is coming to a close and 2015 is fast approaching, I have been thinking back over this past year and what all has happened in my life. I think we all tend to do that around this time of year. I’ve already seen YouTube videos posted on this past year’s popular songs, and news blunders, and I’m sure that there are hundreds of other videos describing what has happened this year.

It’s been a year of change for me. I don’t feel as if I have gone through a drastic change myself. I’m still the same person. But I’ve seen big changes in the lives of the people close to me, and their changes have affected me. This year I got to stand as a maid of honor by my best friend’s side as she got married, I also went to three funerals/memorials for people that passed away, visited friends in the hospital after new babies were born and also when someone had a surprising health problem, and I got to be in another wedding as my brother married my now sister-in-law. So I’ve lost and gained people and relationships and basically gone through a lot of changes.

And these changes won’t ever stop. I’m sure this next year will bring new challenges, changes, and unexpected realities. But it’s comforting for me to know that in this changing world my eternity is secure. It doesn’t change. I know where I’m going, no matter when I get there. I know who I am, and even if my current circumstances change and my position or relationships on this earth change, my eternal reality is set in stone. I am a child of the King, and into His loving arms one day I will run. And knowing Him is the best thing about my life now, and for eternity.

I don’t know what changes you’ve gone through this year, good or bad, difficult or exciting, but the one decision that has changed my life the most is entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That decision has continued to shape and change me, and it will continue to do so in 2015. So if you’ve never made that decision, I’d encourage you to think about it. As I told a friend earlier this year, “Choosing to follow Jesus isn’t something you should do on a whim. It takes commitment. He asks you to die to self and follow His will instead of your own. It isn’t easy, but it is good.”

Well I hope you have a wonderful New Year! Feel free to leave a comment if you like.

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“I’m going on an adventure!”

Image Source: http://s49.photobucket.com/user/filterdose/media/BilboAdventure.gif.html

One of my favorite scenes from The Hobbit, is where Bilbo is running after the dwarfs and yelling to his neighbors “I’m going on an adventure!”

There’s something exciting about going to a new place, doing new things and even though it’s a little bit scary, ultimately it’s very thrilling and you want to tell everyone.

I’ve noticed that in many novels, or stories, the main plot involves a protagonist leaving what is comfortable and going to where things are unexpected. Why is “the journey” so important to a story? Does is force the character to grow, to change, to become something other? There are many great stories that don’t involve a journey, but every story has a change that takes place. In The Hobbit, Gandalf clearly tells Bilbo that if he is to return from this “adventure” he will not be the same. Change, whether it’s from journeying to a new environment or current relationships becoming something different, is scary. We like things to stay the same, to be comfortable. Just as Bilbo is very sure that adventures is not what he wants, we often want everything to stay the same.

However, things are always changing, we can’t escape it. And change can be a good thing. Once everyone has left Bilbo to start the adventure, he finds himself alone in his big house, and something occurs to him. Does he really want this? Suddenly the thought of missing out on something great becomes more unbearable than the thought of leaving a comfortable home. And even though going means change, Bilbo decides it’s worth it.

I’m going on my own adventure in a couple days, I’ll be leaving the country for a whole week. And I’m excited, just like Bilbo I want to yell “I’m going on an adventure!” This will mean that I’ll change, but just like Bilbo, I’m embracing it.

However, this means I won’t be posting for awhile…

But I’m sure I’ll have “a tale or two to tell” when I get back.

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