Stocking the pantry

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One of my recent household chores was to clean out my pantry. Upon the marriage of my son, I determined there were items on the shelves I no longer needed to keep. Sweets, mixes, and crackers were no longer necessary to keep since my son lives elsewhere now. Nineteen months ago I was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance condition. Because of this, there are certain foods that my digestive system will no longer handle so there is no point in keeping them in my pantry. Stocking the pantry with my healthy-for-me foods brought satisfaction as I surveyed my progress.

The grief journey brings about another form of stocking the pantry when it comes to equipping yourself to handle the loss of a loved one. Some things that you participated in are no longer possible or desirable without your special loved one. When conditions change, you find yourself having to make adjustments in stocking the pantry so you can learn to make progress and move forward with life.

Discovering what you now need to successfully maneuver grief is all part of learning, adjusting, and stocking the pantry of your current life. Placing helpful items on your shelves will enable you to continue forward movement and experience healing through a very difficult part of life.

One necessary item you want to possess is faith. When this element is placed in your pantry, you can find strength and hope for the days ahead. Knowing that your life will not always seem so discouraging and lonely is vital to being able to hold your head up and place your foot forward. Faith in God is trusting that He has not forgotten nor forsaken you, even when you fail to feel His presence nearby.

Persistence or tenacity is another helpful item to place upon your shelf when you are stocking the pantry. You will experience days that for some reason are suddenly incredibly difficult. Without the ability to dig in and hold fast you can find yourself sliding backwards into hopelessness. Keep telling yourself that you can do this! Not because you are strong yourself, but because you have a God who is mightier than anything you will encounter along your grief journey. So while you may have a momentary set-back, do not forget to hang in there with persistence – being stubborn enough to never give up.

While stocking the pantry, you will not want to miss placing front and foremost the ability to keep your joy. This is an emotion that is rightfully yours if you know Jesus Christ personally. It is a fruit of the spirit listed in Galatians 5. While you may not feel happy these days, and understandable so, you must remember that no one, no thing, no event should be able to steal your joy. Go ahead and cry your tears. It is natural and expected to feel sadness and even momentary fear. However, throughout your roller coaster of emotions, do not forsake the right you have to see and taste joy daily.

Joy is different from happiness, which is dependent upon your circumstances. Joy is dependent upon nothing more than knowing Who the source of your joy is – Christ. Having joy does not mean that you must be cheerful and pretend with a false exuberance for life. You are going to have sad days. Some days will be just downright bad and disappointing. Use your pantry ingredients of faith and persistence to hold onto your joy. With it, you will always know that there is hope for tomorrow.

As you work at stocking the pantry, placing faith, persistence, and joy in prominent places, you will find there is also room for other items such as hope, laughter, friendship, and rest. I wish you the best as you learn to reorganize and evaluate those things you need to throw away and embrace those pantry ingredients that are best to keep and enjoy.

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.” Galatians 5:22 (HCSB)

Until next time –

Karen

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Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

“Sorry, wrong door”

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I admit there have been a couple of times in the past few of years when I found myself at an incorrect address. Knocking, waiting, and then realizing my mistake, I would grimace as I muttered, “Sorry, wrong door” to myself and quickly moved on.

The first time was on Easter a couple of years ago. I ran home after church, grabbed my food and headed over to meet the others who had driven separately and had already arrived. Looking back, my mistake was not having the address with me. I tried to call my son to get it but he failed to answer his phone. I knew the general area, but ended up turning one street too soon.

I remembered that this family had recently painted their front door a beautiful, bright color. So when I drove down the street – the incorrect street mind you – and saw a beautiful blue door, I sighed with relief. I had found it!! I grabbed my food, went to the door, and knocked loudly. To my dismay, the person who answered the door was no one I knew. “Sorry, wrong door.” How embarrassing!

My latest fiasco locating a house occurred this weekend. Granted, I had been given the incorrect address but I did not learn this until after my humiliating experience. So there I stood, alternately ringing the doorbell and knocking loudly determined to get a response. How could they possibly be gone? They were expecting me. The mystery was finally solved when I made a few phone calls and came to the conclusion that my information was flawed. I quickly retreated from the strange porch groaning, “Sorry, wrong door.”

As you find yourself walking through grief, there will be times when denial rears its ugly head and you want your news of loss to be a mistake. You want to tell grief, “Sorry, wrong door!” and send it far, far away from you. The instructions we gather for life seldom prepare us for the devastation that can be felt when death makes its appearance.This process of denying is a normal stage of grief.

More than anything, you wish you could change the past, have just one more day, and enjoy more time with your loved one. Life demands so much at times that it is easy to take for granted those who are near and dear. How could you possibly be experiencing this loss so soon? Things were not supposed to turn out this way. Your heart breaks and your mind screams, “Sorry, wrong door!”

When events of life and death seem too harsh to be real, accepting them as truth can challenge your faith. Believing that you will learn to live without your loved one can seem overwhelming and impossible. Yet, that is what we are called to do. Instead of saying, “Sorry, wrong door,” try voicing the words of this hope-filled scripture to find healing as you travel through your grief.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”   Proverbs 3:5, 6 (NIV)

Until next time –

Karen

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Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

A Dark Place

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Have you ever been stuck in the dark? Imagine a place so black that it is impossible to see your hand in front of your face. When the boys were young, we took them to explore an old mining shaft. The elevator we entered was small. As we descended, we could feel the dampness creep in around us. It became a dark place as we approached our destination in the cavern below. Gratefully, upon disembarking from our elevator car, we encountered the lights strewn about inside the tunnels, illuminating the path we were to follow. That kind of darkness is one without visual light.

There is another type of darkness as well. This kind dampens our spirits, steals our joy, and allows fear of the unknown to invade our daily lives. Meet the darkness that accompanies grief.

The darkness of death and loss comes in many forms. One is through the numerous questions and uncertainties which bombard our daily lives. What will tomorrow hold? How will we manage without them by our side? Who can I turn to for help? Will the bills get paid? As the questions race through our thoughts, the darkness moves in, squeezing out the light of certainty.

Fortunately, we do not have to dwell within this darkness. We can make the choice to believe there are brighter days coming. While we may not be as certain of things as we had been in the past, there is a way of seeing light while passing through a dark place.

Having faith can make a difference in how the world looks to you. Faith is seeing light with your heart when all your eyes see is darkness. It is knowing that even though the future seems obscured and unsure, you can move forward into it, trusting while moving through your days. Be careful in what and whom you place your trust though. Putting that faith in yourself or others will land you on less than solid ground. While people may have the best of intentions, remember that no one is infallible. Mistakes will happen, feelings will get hurt, and you will find yourself faltering in your journey.

Securing your faith in God is the sure way of having your path clarified and your questions answered. Perhaps these things won’t happen immediately, but speaking from experience, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I know because I can see it now. That is why I chose a picture of light for this posting. We all see enough darkness walking through grief. I prefer gazing at and enjoying the light!

The beginning of a grief journey is a dark place. It does not have to stay that way though. Be aware that even when you have traveled forward a while, the darkness can seep back in, taking us by surprise and beating down the faith to which we have been clinging. Fight back! Do not allow the darkness to set up house again. Dig down deep and find your faith that will bring forth light.

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope [faith] in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:11 (New International Version)

Until next time –

Karen

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Do you want more information on fighting the darkness of grief? Grief Letters can help!

http://bookstore.westbowpress.com/Author/Default.aspx?BookworksSId=SKU-000980156

Move Forward

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My quiet time study this morning took me to the book of Joshua in the Old Testament. Chapter 3 continues the sequence of events after the godly leader, Moses, had died. God had now placed Joshua in the lead. They had been commanded to move forward. The priests who carried the ark of the Lord led the way as they were instructed to cross the Jordan River. This was a daunting a task, since that time of year found it to be at flood stage. How could they possibly accomplish success in their journey?

We read “Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away…. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.” (Joshua 3:11-17 NIV)

God worked a miracle in allowing His people to cross and move forward on dry land when, if left to human abilities, they would surely have been swept away and their journey halted. Friends, those traveling through grief can make progress this very same way!

While we attempt on our own to leave our loss behind, all too often we find ourselves overwhelmed and thwarted in our efforts. There is no escaping the sadness and pain of grief. However, we can learn much from what was accomplished in the scripture I just quoted.

If you look carefully at the verses, the priests’ feet actually touched the water’s edge. They weren’t given the ease of watching God move the waters first before they crossed on dry land. These people had to act in faith as they moved ahead into the messy and flowing waters. Only then was the path cleared.

We too must trust God and place one foot in front of the other even when it looks like we are going to collide with the failure of a dead-end in our lives. Moving forward does not mean we leave behind the memory of our loved ones. The value and joy they brought to our lives are not forgotten nor negated. In fact, as we have faith and place one foot in front of the other, trusting God to make a way for us, we are better able to cherish their memory. Time spent with our loved ones will remain in our hearts and minds and we will eventually be able to enjoy reliving those moments without as much pain.

Focus on how you can move forward in your grief journey today, if only an inch at a time. Little by little, you will look back and realize that with the help of others and through the strength God can provide, you have made progress in your journey.

Until next time –

Karen