Gramma Grace ~ a poem on Memories in Honor

Her hugs would envelope my tiny frame
Hydrangeas of purple white blue
Her slanted driveway gave us a game
Makeshift go-cart planks on wheels

Easter service bunny cake-pan
Jellybeans green-hued coconut
Lemon drop dishes, two in each hand
Makeshift roller skate rink in the back

Reader’s Digest, People’s Court
Whopner, dachshunds, motorized chair
Secret passage, hideout, fort
Eyes that sparkle, giggle fest

We were welcome, we were there
Road trips, parks, reunion fun
We were clueless to despair
Until she stole her life from us

1995 in Spring
When Easter boasts of Jesus’ blood
The day after her birthday’d bring
News of her blood, it left her still

We watched her Pastor lift and roll
Heavy carpet, dripping bed
What would become of Gramma’s soul?
Her wounded heart, is it now whole?

There was no stone that rolled away
Her Depression held a permanence
Can suicide be void of blame?
I’ll never point to man, nor self

Two years later, down the isle
Eight and Braylon grew inside
Twelve my Angel flashed her smile
Nineteen now, I miss her still

Death over Coffee

My friend came over for coffee today.

This woman has seen death up close. She’s felt it and smelled it and heard its cry many times. She knows its tactics, aftermath and sorrow. She’s even experienced the pain of a close family member who has taken their own life.

We talked on my living room sofa about life. And sex. And accountability. And school. And schedules. And abandonment. And purity. And death. And the stages of grief.

It was six years ago for her, when her 17 year old died. It was ruled a suicide.

I read her the poem I’m writing about my Gramma Grace – my memories of her life and death. This month it will be the 18 year anniversary. She challenged me to stop censoring myself and just be free to express my feelings, because who knows…someone may read it and feel the same way and no longer feel alone. Who knows…it may help someone else in their grieving journey.

Then we pulled my green patio chairs close, almost smacking foreheads together… joined hands, and prayed together as my neighbor walked around outside, brushing his teeth. Yeah, Austin’s a weirdo.

Then we hugged.

It was a good afternoon.

A Blessed Assurance

I’ve never experienced what it is like to go through … a suicide…while it is happening. I’ve experienced the pain of discovering a loved one has taken their own life. But that was after the fact. It was terribly unsettling for many years. My experience with my grandma’s suicide and later, an extended cousin’s, was so different than what I watched tonight, on OPB.

“The Suicide Tourist” documented and filmed an assisted suicide of a diseased and dying man. I watched him and his wife plan every detail. I watched him as he drank the liquid that would make him fall asleep and never wake.  He was in much pain and could not walk or even breathe on his own.  His wife was so supportive. So calm, and loving. But not assuring. That is what was missing. The assurance that one has of their eternal soul, continuing on. No, he said that no one knows if there is an afterlife. And he believes that there is not one. That there is nothing. But he also mentioned having a hope. In his suicide letter to his children, he said they could still talk to him after he’s gone, but to not expect an answer. “I always have been more of an ear than a mouth”. This to me, implied that he thought there was a chance of his soul continuing on. But therein lies the depth of uncertainty – the reason why, to me, this documentary was so incredibly sad.

His wife would repeat, as he lay there dying, “have a safe journey”. But neither one knew where his journey would lead. Logically, no one really knows. Yet, many do. How? Faith in the God-breathed, Holy Spirit of God-inspired words in the Bible. Faith enables us to know. Our faith gives us the assurance we need when our human logic fails us. When we don’t understand, we have one source. The Word of God. Sola scriptura. I am grateful that I have been given the chance to learn scripture, the chance to pray and to have faith in it. I have faith in a God who created me, who lives in and works through me.  I get to live my life with him every day, talk to him and sometimes get to hear him talk to me, in the recesses of my heart. I’m thankful that I can lay my head down at night and know – I mean, be completely without doubt, that because Jesus Christ died and rose to life again, I could die in my sleep tonight, and …live. My spirit will in fact, go on. I will be with Jesus. I will be singing in heaven, along with angels. I will be looking into the eyes of my Savior.

Believing this doesn’t make it true, for me. It is true and believing it, is what gives me peace and a blessed assurance.

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(to watch it online, click HERE.)

as certain as death and texas

with hurricane ike’s death toll reaching 51 as of this morning, this great state of texas has been pulling together to help those who’ve survived. my church, calvary austin, put a team together & traveled to calvary houston which along with most of houston, is on its 5th day without power. this is the most current article i’ve found, written about hurricane ike, if you’re more detail-oriented.

here in austin, 300 miles inland, we were safe and warm. disconnected. only felt a brief wind. and it’s back to normal now. normal, disconnected, apathetic, comfortable, enjoyable. yet there’s a lingering sorrow.

there are so many i’m sure, who’ve discovered that a relative or friend is now dead. they may be wondering where that person is now. if they’re in a ‘better place’…or a worse; if there is even a heaven or a hell.

but these are some of the most commonly asked questions about heaven & the afterlife:

  • do pets go to heaven?
  • should Christians be cremated?
  • will we be married or have sex in heaven?
  • should we try to contact the dead?
  • can a person who commits suicide go to heaven?
  • will we remember our lives when we’re in heaven?
  • can people in heaven see what’s happening on earth? and the most important question of all,
  • is there more than one way to get to heaven?

well, earlier this week, my husband & i watched a really great video by craig groeschel who’s studied them all in depth. he gives Biblical explanations, references, answers and opinions for each one of them. i hope this video brings clarity to anyone on their spiritual journey to truth.

but before you navigate away, if you’re a praying person, could you agree w/me in this short prayer?

God, forgive those of us who forget so quickly those in need. quicken our hearts to action, giving us the faith needed to step out & use our resources, whatever they may be. show yourself real and your love present in the lives of those who have lost people they care so much about. bring them peace, beyond understanding.

you are still our God, unchanging and trustworthy. and we love you.

(photo taken not in texas, but haiti where the death toll is over 300 after back-to-back storms. read this well-written article about haiti if you can)

does the blood of Jesus cover the blood of suicide?

thanks, dad, for your permission to write about gramma.

my gramma was so wonderful to be around. she was kind, always had a hug. she loved “the peoples’ court’ and ‘hee-haw’ and ‘mama’s family’. we used to camp with her in her pop-up at wallowa lake & roller skate on her wood floor. she nursed my first bee sting i got (in my belly button) while lounging in a hammock in her backyard. she baked us a bunny shaped coconutty cake every easter. she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind & boy, could she be blunt (i got that gene). she doted on her weiner dog, trudy (sister to ours) was devoted to the Lord & loved her husband. she lost grampa ted after over 50 years of marriage. that next year brought with it the greatest test of endurance.

emotional stress turned physical & chemicals in her brain started getting off-balance. no one knew her depression had gotten severe. no one knew about the thoughts. not the cuban refugee family she took in to her home, not her pastor, not even her two sons. they would’ve removed the guns from the home.

i was called with the request to drive to her house as “there had been an accident”. i pulled up in my white vw jetta & my mom held me & told me then…gramma was gone. i was confused. i sat on top my car hood with my knees up to my chin & rocked back & forth. there was no accident. she’d stripped her life from herself probably not b/c she wanted to die, but b/c she no longer wanted to live…and in doing so, stripped her life from everyone else who loved her. the tears just streamed as i watched her pastor & the elders haul off the carpet they’d ripped out of that tiny room. i’m just glad it was dark out. i’m even more grateful i wasn’t the one to discover her. i loved my gramma & respected her. i honor her even today. i just wish she was still with me & i could share my life & family with her, like we do w/rick’s grandmas (that seems like a selfish reason, doesn’t it). she sure loved family. there are so many great memories i can recount, that the awful details are usually overshadowed in my mind…

but for the sake of discussion, honest reflection, & hopefully peace to a reader who’s lost someone this way, let’s bring the topic out into the light.

do people who do this go to heaven? to seek some answers (cause i know i have far from all the answers), i went to the Bible, God’s Word. it says that to be absent from our bodies is to be present with the Lord, and there are so many that display his abounding mercy…but i didn’t take much comfort in this passage: he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. ~ 1 Corintians 3:15-17.

this is the only place in the Bible where it refers to what may be suicide, although, it doesn’t even state it as such, specifically. no where else in the Word {Christians’ one & only true source of God-breathed, Holy Spirit inspired ancient text} does it state or even imply that suicide in & of itself, is a sin worthy of eternal damnation…an unpardonable sin. sheesh, even in judges 16:28-30, samson is granted by God the strength to do this. suicide, if unpardonable, would be not just mentioned as such, but woven throughout text.

i know from experience about the kind of God i serve. i don’t care if people call me biased or subjective. everyone of us is, really. God is just & merciful & kind. he is the essence & exemplification of love. he reaches to us beyond the point of our carnal death & gives us a chance to be judged, for the good, bad & ugly. not one of his kids will escape accountability. committing suicide? yeah, that too. they’ll have to answer for it to their Creator himself. sin cannot go unpunished. it was his life to make, & his to take, in his time. but for him to ‘sentence’ hell because of this would be unjust & uncharacteristic.

our lives are so valuable…often underestimated…& extremely important to God! read Psalm 139. to me, suicide can be the ultimate act of selfishness…but i think our Father looks beyond the sin at the time of death, & sees what mere man cannot: the whole person, their lifestyle, their love for him. he takes into account their suffering from mental illness or severe depression & applies the blood of his Son, Jesus to that final sin. so what if they aren’t alive to ask for it!?! his grace reaches beyond that technicality. his grace always looks at the heart.

his blood is not partial. it does not flow down our hearts full of sin avoiding a few choice acts. it cleanses all. that’s why i love to sing songs about it. the suffering & the blood of Jesus is worth squat if we humans can determine that some sins it does not cover (“how could he forgive a child molester or murderer?” “how could he forgive one who doesn’t ask for it because they’re dead now?”), & some it does cover. what if i’m saved, (i’ll use a lame example for lack of time) i’m driving & completely envying the person driving next to me. i end up rubber-neckin’ & crashing into a pole & i die? would a gracious God just look at my last sin of envy & say to me at the throne, ‘well in spite of your life of obedience & humility and your heart of love toward me & toward the least of these, you never repented of that last sin…so, since the wages of sin is death…’

absurd. that clearly goes completely against his character displayed throughout the entire Bible.

we all tend to ‘heirarchy’ the wrong we commit to help us feel better about our ‘little pet sins’, but to God, it is what it is ≈ that which separates us from him, and calls for a perfect atonement. envy, greed, suicide, homosexuality (sexual sin is different, but not worse to God. see 1 corinthians 6:18-20), disobedience, slander, drunkenness…you name it, it’s all sin. if we live this way, refusing to acknowledge/accept Christ’s atonement, it is serious business (see 1 corinthians 6:9-11).

the Word states there is o n e sin that’s unforgivable, unpardonable & results in hell: blaspheming the Holy Spirit ~ (my paraphrase: completely & permanently denying Christ, even after you know the truth in your spirit). this may seem contradictory to the scripture above naming many sins that can lead to eternal separation from God, but this one refers to a blanket statement, covering all of those listed, as examples. hell is for the unrepentant of heart that denies Christ. anyone who has guilt for their sin, confesses with humility & repents…(“such WERE some of you” oh, please don’t miss that part!)…he is immediately restored to right standing with God. my heart leaps for joy to read this again.

Christ words on this sin can be read in mark 3:22-30 & matthew 12:30-33 . dr. henry morris & author & theologian, dr. f.f. bruce shed some further light on that ‘unpardonable’ sin ~ to read their insights on the subject, click here (but come back!).

so yeah, i’m biased here. i miss her. but not so biased, i’m blind. i have faith (evidence of what i can’t see) that the saved don’t have to worry about heaven vs. hell when they die. they are free of every pain in their new bodies, enjoying the gift of eternal life. in my humble opinion, this is the bottom line: whether it was a life of a Christian taken by God in his timing, by someone else or by their own hand, that life…that blood is covered by the blood of their Savior. period.

oh…my gramma’s name?

grace.

now, as for whether or not we know if someone’s really saved before they die?! …well, that’s a topic for another day. i’m way past my wordcount on this one, but i’d loooove to read any comments on today’s.

seeds

the best piece of info i’ve learned from dr. myles munroe is about a seed.

he wrote that God created everything once, and doesn’t have to create it again because within everything there is a seed to produce more of that thing. from plants to foods to animals to people…take an apple, for example. cut it open, place a seed from it in your hand, and you are holding a single apple seed. but are you really? no, if you see it as only a seed, you miss the entire point. within that seed is the potential to grow and become a tree. that tree, if protected, nurtured & fed will grow & eventually become a full tree with many apples of its own. each one of them has their own seeds to be able to produce hundreds more trees. so the fact is, if you hold a seed in your hand, it may look like a seed. but the truth is, you are holding a potential forest.

our enemy knows it, so this is why he tries to destroy everything of God’s, in its seed form, from the beginning, before it has the chance to grow & bring forth its potential. he targets that which is formed in God’s image (us), because he hates all that is of God, but specifically the youth and the unborn. abortion (of the human seed) has become rampant, 100,516 occurring every month, 137 every hour, one every 26 seconds. our youth have increasingly become more depressed & hopeless, leading to a teen suicide every hour & 45 minutes (triple the rate at 1970). it has become the 2nd leading cause of death in college students (those who should be primed & excited about discovering their life potential), & 3rd leading c.o.d. in 15-24yr-old youth. the more he kills, the more this generation & the next is held back from becoming all God has created it to become.

poetry & books will be never read.  melodies & songs will never be penned, listened to, or change the hearts of men. stories & testimonies will never be told, lessons never learned, legacies never left. they will continue to rot, untouched below the earth’s surface @ the richest place on earth, the graveyard.

God has placed many seeds inside of each of us. and it’s our duty to discover them, protect them, feed & nurture them so that we can grow to become more like God. for He is Omnipotent ~ the embodiment of all potential. and once we stop limiting His power in us, stop the excuses, & stop relying on ourselves, we free Him up to do mighty things. our families, communities, ministries & whether we believe it or not, our entire generation can be dramatically changed with the realized potential God has placed in each of us. as a child of God, i need to re-examine my life & ask myself, “am i allowing any person, negative attitude or fear to rob me of my great potential?” yes… i am. and it’s time for a change.