NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

The Value of Relationships

This past Friday my Grandmother passed away. She was my Dad’s mom, and like many grandparents in America, she lived in Florida. I hadn’t seen her in awhile, but I have gotten to talk with her on the phone a few times and send her pictures of things I’ve been doing.

She was a very kind, Christ-honoring woman, who loved her family well and served Jesus throughout her life. One of the stories I heard about her in the memorial service was that she and my grandpa decided to go to their church’s new modern service with all of the young 20 and 30 year-olds and pass out the bulletins every Sunday. That just struck me as such a remarkable thing. They weren’t holding onto what was comfortable or what they grew up with. Both of them were so ready to follow Jesus in whatever He asked them to do. I remember after my grandpa died, my grandma still found ways to serve Jesus. She was really excited about a ministry that shipped Christian books to people overseas, and she would spend time collecting books from friends and people around her so she could send several big boxes every year.

One of my favorite things my grandma did was send me a series of Christian books that had impacted her. As I read them and got to see another glimpse of how amazing God is, I could see how valuable my grandmother’s faith was to her, and how she wanted all of her family to know Jesus the way she did.

I’ve been so blessed to grow up in a Christian family and that’s thanks to my parents and grandparents and the legacy and foundation they laid through their actions and decisions.

I no longer have any living grandparents on earth. I had already lost my previous grandparents, one as recently as this past May. But because of their faith that has continued into the next generations, my family is able to say things like, “She’s happy where she is now,” or “Let’s celebrate her life.”

Life and death take on a whole different meaning when they are viewed with eternity in mind. I can still be sad that she isn’t with me on earth anymore. I’ll miss hearing her voice and getting her sweet cards and phone calls. But I know this isn’t the end of our relationship. I will get to see her again and all of my grandparents again and that’s exciting.

All this thinking about eternity is reminding me of how important relationships are compared to everything else. Money, food, entertainment, all the little tasks and projects that seem to fill my time, won’t matter much in eternity, and most of them won’t last to eternity. But relationships do. People are eternal, and our relationships with them can continue past this life.

So while I’m living here on earth God has reminded me to see people the way He sees them. They are eternal beings that have deep value and are much more important than what I want to do or get done.

So anyway I hope you have a blessed day and remember to value the people in your life and remember to thank God for them.

Leave a comment »

Granny

Today, as my grandma gets closer and closer to passing on, I’ve decided to write about her. Maybe I’ll be able to work out a poem or something in her honor eventually, but for now I’ll share this:

We share a middle name and have a similar height and facial structure. I found an old photo of her when she was young and we look so similar. She liked to garden, go polka dancing, and play Dominoes. In her later years she was quite fond of puzzles and made one with African animals probably a hundred times.

She also had a sweet tooth and would eagerly eat anything with chocolate and peanut butter. We’ve made her chocolate peanut butter shakes for the past few years, and she would almost always ask for more.

She was very supportive, always ready to help when we got in a pickle or needed some cash, or when my parents needed a babysitter or wanted to borrow her big van for family road trips. She loved to give us gifts, and support us on mission trips, or encourage us to travel.

She did a lot of traveling herself. I’m told she went to Alaska twice, Europe, New York City, and Colorado. I remember flying to Hawaii with her. She was so excited to go with us and see the beautiful scenery and wear a lei.

I don’t remember her watching TV very much, if she joined others to watch something, she would often fell asleep. But I do remember going to an actual movie theater with her to watch The Adventures of Tintin and she just loved seeing the little white dog barking and running around.

She owned doxins or dachshunds and cats and I’m pretty sure some other animals at different points in her life.

And she was always very welcoming of new family members. Whenever someone got married, she made the new in-law feel part of the family. I know my dad would call her mom, even though she was my mom’s mom. And I think it’s a trait she’s passed on to the rest of her family. When my younger brother married, his wife was welcomed in as part of the family, free to call my parents mom and dad.

More recently, my grandma told me that her grandma only spoke German, and she had to speak German to talk to her. She would often recite the first 10 numbers in German to herself and tell us ‘good morning’ or ‘tastes good’ in German. I’ve actually started trying to learn some German now, partially because of my Grandma’s heritage and influence.

Even though she wanted to be called Granny, she accepted other names from her grand kids, particularly Nana.

She also had a great sense of humor. When we’d ask her how she was feeling, she’d hold up her hands and say “With my fingers.”

I’m going to miss her when she leaves us. I know it’ll be sad and hard. But I’m also a bit excited for her. Soon she’ll get to be with Jesus, and see all the people who’ve gone before her and are waiting to welcome her to her home in heaven.

Leave a comment »

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

2 Comments »

#LifeMatters

Cemetery, Black, Death, Halloween, Mystery, Dark

Image Source

I’ve spent the last week on vacation, where I got to visit relatives and see a life size replica of Noah’s ark and visit a museum dedicated to validating the Bible as true and reliable. On my way home yesterday, I found out about the tragedy our nation has experienced with more deaths and murder and violence. It was heart breaking. I saw post after post on Facebook where people were trying to identify with those who were hurting by saying #BlackLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter and #AllLifeMatters.

Honestly, I didn’t know how to react to all the pain and suffering and fear that people were experiencing. What do you say? What can make a difference? I didn’t want to sit back and do nothing, but honestly, what is someone supposed to do when people keep dying and nothing seems to stop it?

I ended up praying, a lot. By myself, with family, for friends that were scared and for everyone affected. As I did this, I was reminded of these verses:

“Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:10-18

Our enemy isn’t each other, it is Satan. He has come to steal, kill and destroy and he is doing a good job of that right now. But we don’t fight him in our own strength. We speak truth to counter his lies, and we share the gospel of hope to counter his hopelessness, and we pray and place our security in Christ.

I don’t know where you find yourself in the middle of all this, but God has been teaching me this week that He is the Creator. He made every single living creature with a purpose. Each of our lives matter, no matter what our profession or skin color. We are all extremely valuable and loved by the One who made us. We are not here on accident and we are not made to hate and kill. We are made to be like Him: to love, serve, give, comfort, encourage, protect and be there for each other.

All this evil in the world is horrible, it is wrong and should be punished in the harshest way. Even if I’ve never shot anyone, I still have messed up, lived selfishly and rebelled against God’s design. I, like all of us, deserve to die, to pay the price for sin and rebellion.

But God’s Gospel is true and the good news does bring hope! Jesus died in my place, in your place. He paid the price for sin, for ALL sin. And He conquered it and rose from the dead.

I am alive in Him and with His powerful help, I can be a part of changing this world. There is no policy or program that will fix all the evil in this world. There is only the cross and He who died on it and rose from the dead. He is the only answer and my only hope.

So I cry out to Him today, for our country, for our people, for my friends and neighbors, my sisters and brothers. For He loves us more than I can imagine, so much so that He took our place on the cross and offers hope freely to any who come to Him.

That is my only answer to tragedy.

Leave a comment »

Poem for Roses

This winter our rosebush outside has had some beautiful roses bloom and stay on the bush for weeks. Seeing them reminded me of this poem I had written in college from a rosebud’s perspective.
I hope you enjoy it.

Rosebud

Rosebud

 

You’d think I’d be proud.

Everyone knows the rose:

I’m always wanted for weddings,

apologies, Valentines, even the tango.

 

But you don’t know me at all.

I’m sick of that kind of attention:

I don’t want to be clipped,

pruned, removed,

sitting in a glass vase,

dying slowly.

That’s my worst nightmare,

 

locked inside, or worse yet,

hung upside down till I’m  a dry

crisp corpse, then put on display

yet again.

 

You know the real reason for my thorns?

They’ve grown to keep you away.

 

Why can’t you let me grow

and die in peace with my friends?

Simply satisfied

in smelling our sweet

scents mixing in the spring air.

 

Please find a different symbol

for love,

one that doesn’t require my death.

Leave a comment »

The Finale

Image Source

So because I don’t have cable, sometimes I don’t get to see the Finale of a show until weeks later than most people. But that’s alright with me as long as I get to see it eventually. Often with my favorite shows the finale is the best episode. Now not every show does a finale well and some shows don’t even get a finale, they just get canceled, which is horrible for people who really enjoy it. But in any case, this past week I saw the finale for one of my favorite shows: White Collar. And it was perfect! It focused on all of the elements of the show that I loved, the relationships, a cool con pulled off by Neal, and ultimately what I’ve waited to see for so long. If you haven’t seen this show, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I would definitely tell you to check it out. All seasons are up on Netflix right now.

Anyway, seeing the finale episode for White Collar made me think about all the other finales I’ve enjoyed and why I enjoyed them. As in many TV shows, there can be no real conclusion or ending during the normal running of the show. In sitcoms, characters may learn lessons during the course of the show, but they generally stay the same throughout the series, not experiencing real change. Otherwise the set up for the show might not work anymore. On the other hand, TV dramas often have a lot of changes going on but one thing that the audience is really rooting for, like a certain relationship to finally work out, or a problem to finally get solved, or a bad guy to finally get caught. Well the finale is supposed to finally give us those things it promises; the couple does get together, the world does get saved, the bad guy is dead or in jail. It’s the conclusion, the resolution, the ending. And it better be a satisfying one.

But what about in real life. What’s my finale? What happens when my life is over? Do all the things I strive for get resolved? Is my ending going to be satisfying? Well I was watching a movie with my family last night called Heaven Is For Real. It’s based on a book which is based on a father’s account of what his 4-year-old son went through and described to him. All of it stirs up a lot of questions about life, death and what comes after. I think we can all agree that a happy ending is preferable to a sad one. The finales that end with giving us everything we wanted for our favorite characters makes us feel satisfied. But the ones where we get surprised with a death, or many deaths, feel wrong. That’s not what we wanted. Maybe it seems more realistic, but it’s not what I want to see.

Anyway, all this reminds me of a verse from the Bible, written by a very wise man. It says, “He (God) has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

As a follower of Jesus, I believe what He said about my finale or my ending. I believe that whoever believes in Jesus has eternal life. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” And I also believe that this life is part of it. My eternity doesn’t start when I die, I’m already living. I get to know Jesus now and grow closer to Him each day here on earth. But I also know that even when the day comes and I leave this earth, my story isn’t over. I do get an eternity with my best friend and Savior and I get to be a part of His family of believers forever.

Another verse from the Bible that comforts me is 1 John 5:13 “I write these things to you who believe in the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Having a happy ending is not something I have to worry about, I can know I have eternal life because I know Jesus. He is faithful, He is true, He is alive, and He keeps His promises. He has promised eternal life to those who believe in Him and I trust His promise.

So I don’t know what you think about finales, about life after death, about Jesus, but maybe you should spend some time thinking about it today. After all everyone’s finale is going to come sooner or later.

Leave a comment »