Category Archives: Letting Go

Life, Death and Supernatural Events

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When my son turned three, my mother-in-law was battling cancer. The doctors had given her all the treatment they could and allowed her to travel back to my in-laws’ home in Florida where we—and more importantly, her grandsons—lived.

Looking back, knowing what I know now, I realize how very brave she was. I can only marvel at her cheerfulness to the end. She cherished her grandsons. On Brendan’s third birthday, she baked him a cake and played on the floor with him, as she had always been known to do. For someone who knew she was dying, she was so very full of life.  Only five weeks later, we lost her.

At only three, Brendan was still new to the world and still possessed much of the purity he came into the world with. Children that young seem to have an innocence of this world that allows them to see a spiritual world we can’t perceive.

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Luke 18:16

At Irene’s memorial service, Brendan was fidgeting and crying. We went to the cry room at the back of the sanctuary and watched the rest of the service from there. The windowed room we watched from connected with the outer sanctuary wall of stained glass windows and Brendan kept pointing to the window next to us and saying “Grandma!” I finally stopped to pay attention to what he was so intently trying to communicate and followed his little finger to the window that featured an angel. It gave me goosebumps, but with the emotions of the day, I couldn’t really process it. Later that week, as he was babbling away in his car seat behind me, he pointed into the sky outside his window and said “Grandma!” with a big smile on his face. Did she linger with us for a while? Were Brendan and his grandmother able to see each other after her life on earth ended? I’ll never know for certain in this life, but it gave me something to ponder.

Just this week, I received a book from Bethany House to review: “Angels, Miracles and Heavenly Encounters: Real-life Stories of Supernatural Events” compiled by James Stuart Bell (a collection of similar stories I recommend as an interesting and thought-provoking read). I pounced on this book the day it arrived and blazed through the stories, many of which I could relate to. It brought many personal memories to life in my mind. Over the past few years my husband and I have lost three of our collective parents. Life, death and the afterlife are on my mind more these days. As this book claims, there’s more going on in the world than meets the eye. There is an unseen spiritual realm, and occasionally God allows us glimpses of it.

Have you had a similar experience? Tell your story in the comments.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” John 11:25

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.  John 5:24

In loving memory of
Irene Dubicki Lynch

1942-2004


Honoring a Lost Soldier

My Uncle Stan … handsome guy, wasn’t he?

Every Memorial Day, I think first of my Uncle Stanley, who joined the Army at twenty, was sent to Vietnam, and never returned. He entered the U. S. Army on July, 11 1967, and was trained at Fort Lewis in Washington State where he grew up. He started his tour in December of 1967, turned twenty-one while serving, and died exactly seven months later in the Quang Tri Province of South Vietnam.

Uncle Stan served as a Cannon Fire Direction Specialist

He was a younger brother to my mother, an older brother to my aunt an uncle and an oldest son to my grandparents. I was the firstborn and the only niece he ever knew, two more nieces and two nephews came after me that he never had a chance to meet.

I mourn the man he would have grown to be, the uncle I never grew to know, the family man he never had a chance to be—but I am proud of his bravery and his sacrifice.

He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

Each day is precious. Take time to remember our friends who have laid down their lives for us. We honor the many soldiers who have served.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

In loving memory of
Stanley Lloyd Grunstad
1947-1968

Who do you honor on this day? Leave a memorial note in the comments.


Learning to Wait

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Being still isn’t easy. The world bombards us with over-stimulating messages, caffeinated energy drinks and opportunities for speed and convenience. We are losing our ability to wait for anything.

Becoming helpless—that doesn’t sound appealing, does it? How about letting go? We don’t like to do that either. Perhaps that is why so many people resist God. That is exactly what he wants us to do. In this upside down world, surrender sounds like defeat, but if we chose to follow Christ, we discover strength in our weakness–God’s strength.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7

Focusing on God takes discipline, but if we learn to make that daily effort, we will be heard and we will find the answer we seek. Listen to the patience we can learn from the Psalms:

LORD, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God. Psalm 38:15

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5

When God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, “they believed his promises and sang his praise. But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.” (Psalm 106:12-13) Does that sound familiar? Sometimes it is so difficult to wait for God’s timing.

Waiting forces us to draw closer to God, to listen for his guidance. I can be so impatient. I want to solve everything as soon as possible and push forward. In doing this on my own, I am not only getting ahead of myself, I am trying to get ahead of God. Now there is a scary thought. The right answer will come if I learn to wait on the Lord.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

The peace of God transcends all understanding. We can’t find that kind of peace on our own. We can only seek it through him. Sit quietly with him. Rest in his presence. Connect with him through prayer. Trust–and wait for guidance.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

How have you learned to wait on God?

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Too Much Stuff

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As I wrapped some crystal in bubble wrap for our move to North Carolina, I stopped to consider how often I actually use it and how much we were paying to move all our stuff to a new location. The move took weeks of packing and many weeks of unpacking and finding new places to store all the stuff.

Many of these things are family heirlooms and I am sentimental. While none of these things are more important to me than my relationship with God (idolatry), I began to wonder if they might be potential stumbling blocks.

While unpacking, I also decided that I had a sinful amount of clothing. I am pretty good about donating unused items to charitable organizations, but got the feeling I might also be hoarding some clothes that I will never wear. Quite a few still had tags on them. Others had only been worn once or twice. Now, the defensive part of my brain kicked in and really wanted to justify the purchases. I could try to rationalization that because it is often difficult to find clothes that are comfortable, yet stylish that I have to grab great pieces when I can (never mind that I already have more than enough).

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

My mother-in-law once told me that you spend the first half of your life accumulating things and the last half getting rid of them. Irene has been gone for seven years now, but those particular words have come to mind many times over the years. Already, I have found that to be so true. The more you age, the more cumbersome your things become. Have you found that even your stuff needs stuff? Ever get exhausted after a day of shopping for stuff?

It got me wondering, is my giving proportionate to what I keep? I am a pretty giving person, but how does my giving measure up to my keeping? How often do my eyes wander carelessly past those in need?

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 1 John 3:17

Most of us don’t consider ourselves wealthy. In this economy, we are more inclined to focus on our losses or perceived needs. I came across an interesting website that compares your income and wealth on a worldwide scale: www.leastof.org. I dare you to try it. It will give you a whole new perspective.

How wealthy are you? What are you willing to let go of? Is your heart open to those in need?

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Jesus, in Matthew 25:40


Never Die

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It’s not easy to appreciate the intricate genius of God’s arrangement of events in time when you’re lost in the moment. Once you have a chance to reflect, however, it nearly takes your breath away.

A few weeks ago, I came up to North Carolina to visit with my terminally ill father and to help my mother care for him in home hospice. For exactly a week after my arrival, my father—although confined to a wheelchair—enjoyed getting out of the house and going on adventures. We went out to eat for my birthday and my dad savored every bite of food he ate. What a gift to have that quality time with my father. He even wanted to accompany us on the hour and half drive to pick up my niece from the airport in Charlotte when she came for a visit. He seemed to want to squeeze every drop out of life that he could. Even though activity wore him out easily, he really seemed to enjoy every moment.

The following week, Dad no longer had the strength to leave his bed. He lost his appetite—very unlike my father, who enjoyed food immensely—but he still requested his favorite drinks. I went on missions to find the best cream sodas, dipped his mouth swabs into them to moisten his mouth and got a smile out of him every time.

He remained cheerful while bedridden and weak.  Often, we could not do much more than watch the birds and squirrels outside the wall of windows his bed faced.  Mostly he slept. My father was a lifelong, voracious reader. When he became too shaky to hold a book, I read to him. I knew it would mean a lot to him (It would to me and I’m Daddy’s Girl).

By the end of the second week with my parents, my father became less responsive and slipped in and out of consciousness. I observed his side of a conversion with an unseen partner in fascination. He’d nod his head, say “okay” and “yes” as if obediently following otherworldly instructions. He was slipping out of our reality and into another.

Eventually, we were no longer able to keep his fever at bay. His eyes roved the room, exploring sights hidden to us. They danced over me, occasionally showing recognition. In those moments, his glassy eyes held mine and spoke wordless volumes. He no longer requested drinks. His limbs moved restlessly, as if his spirit had grown too large for his body and longed to shed it.

As long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8

Early one morning, I administered his hourly dose of morphine, rewet the cold cloth at his forehead, offered him a spongy swab of water to chase away the bitter taste. His eyelids fluttered, then his gaze held mine with an intensity I had not seen for days. His lips struggled to form audible words. Then—with sudden clarity—he spoke to me.  He thanked me for being there, for being so responsible (interesting choice of words) and told me how much it meant to him. Then he spoke to me of my teen years and it was as if we had drifted back in time together. It was during those years that our relationship had been most strained (and when I had been anything but responsible). He wanted me to know that he and my mother had done what they thought was best for me and told me he loved me one last time. Those were the last lucid words of his earthly life and something I treasure in my heart.

Those brief moments were more precious than anything the world could offer. In them,  the importance of life was distilled down to the purest element … love. That evening, we stood by his side as his breaths grew slower and farther apart—until finally, he slipped away. In those final moments, my fathers (earthly and heavenly) gave me the greatest gift I had ever received. Peace.

Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken … and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:6-7

My father’s spirit is once again with God. Love you, Abba, Daddy!

“Whoever lives by believing in me will never die.

Do you believe this?”  Jesus,  John 11:26

Do you?


No Pain, No Gain

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Ruminations of the birthday girl …

I’m at that difficult point in life where I’ve had to admit that I’m past my prime. Already, at 45, my brain isn’t as sharp as it used to be, my energy level is beginning to decline and I’ve had to start giving up a few things I love…kayaking because of the arthritis in my back and shoulders … bicycling because of the bursitis in my hips … eating spicy food without regretting it for the rest of the night …

Contrary to the idea of growing “comfortable in my own skin”—I’ve actually grown uncomfortable in it.  I’ve realized that I’m just no longer attached to the physical aspects of my being (disease will do that to you too, but that’s another story). My tired old body is just the shell that houses my spirit in my time on earth. It takes a lot more maintenance now and that grows tiresome. I’m sure it’s God’s way of slowly preparing us for leaving our bodies behind and moving on to our eternal existence. Aside from a maturing spirit, you can’t take it with you anyway …

Take time and trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit. Bodily fitness has limited value, but spiritual fitness is of unlimited value, for it holds promise both for this present life and for the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7-8

My lifelong battle with depression no longer scares me. I’ve even learned to be amused by my darker side on occasion. I see it coming much sooner and can usually stay a step ahead of it—or recognize when to simply stop and let it pass.  I don’t try to hide it any more, because I know I can contain it when I need to with God’s help and by focusing on all that I have to be grateful for.

I’ve given up my quest for perfection in my own pursuits by finally learning to admit my shortcomings and seeking excellence in God’s strength instead of trying to rely on my own limited abilities. Accepting my weaknesses has stripped a good amount of ego out of the equation. It never served me well anyway. I’ve traded in decades of being a control-freak for years of pursuing peace. A nap is often more appealing than a party these days and I now adore slipper socks instead of high heels.

While this process of aging can be both mentally and physically painful, I’ve learned that the old adage is true … no pain, no gain … even when it comes to spiritual fitness.  I wouldn’t consider trading all that I’ve learned and all the experience I’ve gained to return to the perky body of my youth. The pearls of wisdom that I’ve received through the process of aging are worth far more, and I can share what I’ve learned to help others in spiritual need.

So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Psalm 71:18


Wings of Forgiveness

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From time to time, a person close to us lets us down. Maybe they didn’t seem to care enough, or they wounded us deeply with words. They made us feel as if we weren’t good enough as we were, or they simply didn’t build us up. They took something from us that can never be returned. In some way, our trust was betrayed.

Our first human impulse is to return pain for pain—we want the person who has injured us to suffer as well. Even if we are able to resist that temptation, we will most likely withdraw into the shadows to lick our wounds and brood. We build up walls of protection—maybe even a fortress. The longer we stay in that place of darkness, the harder it will be to leave. If we chose to wallow in unforgiveness, our relationship with the person who wronged us will die a slow and bitter death. Approaching them—or not—becomes a matter of pride.

If we wait until we feel like acting in forgiveness it will never happen. It goes against our very nature. We may cling to delusions of righteous indignation. We want acknowledgement of the wrong, an apology—
a reparation. A sense of justice that will likely never happen.

In my case, I could search every childhood memory without any recollection of being told that I was loved. I was disciplined harshly—without it being an obvious act of love, and I rebelled. I not only turned away from what seemed like unloving and unforgiving actions, I rejected the moral behaviors I was meant to learn.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

I grew up, left home, and communicated with my family only on rare occasions for more than a decade. It wasn’t until I turned thirty and began to contemplate the direction and purpose of my life (or lack thereof) that I confronted my parents with their lack of expressed love. The tearful response I received was that my mother’s parents had never told her that they loved her. Apparently, that had just never been the way of my ancestors. My mother sulked over the confrontation for a bit, and then eventually forgave me. I also embraced a slow process of forgiveness. Although my heart was not in it at first, I made an effort to let go of all my negative feelings. Eventually, the hurtful memories began to fade and I have grown closer to my family than ever.

Making the choice to forgive is not easy. I often come to it with a stubborn heart that softens slowly over time as my relationship with the person who has wronged me heals. The healing process can be painfully slow, but with persistence there will be progress. Forgiveness, however, is never a choice I regret. With it comes peace and a lightness of heart. When we act in forgiveness, forgiveness is what we’ll receive when we need it the most.

After the dust settled on my aired grievances—and I had produced a grandchild, my parents made a point of lavishing verbal love on my son. Twinges of resentment—maybe even envy—clouded my joy once again. Thankfully, I was able to push those dark thoughts aside and embrace the fact that my parents were not only enjoying their newfound comfort of verbalizing love, it was also a gift to me. Another decade later, all has healed, all is well. Our hurts are left in the past and we have moved on to happier times.

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

We are with the people in our lives for a reason.  They may teach us patience and how to love unconditionally. They may teach us to return the grace that we have been extended. We can hold on to our grievances or we can let them go.

We each carry pain that seems unpardonable. The question is, will you choose a slow death by bitterness or fly free on wings of forgiveness?


The Joys of Positive Thinking

Like a thief, leukemia is claiming my father’s body.  The surprise is that it has also been an unexpected gift.

When my father’s oncologist recommended discontinuing treatment, he told us that Dad could have anywhere from a week to three months left with us. Big sigh. We’re Christians, and in our hearts we know that my father will be able to leave his ravaged body behind and go on to an existence free of pain and disease. In his heavenly father’s presence, he will experience a bliss that we on earth cannot begin to imagine. Still … it is hard to let him go.

Home hospice has allowed my father to stay where he is most comfortable. His bed was placed in the living room facing large wall of windows that overlooks the back yard. Squirrels and birds entertain him as they visit the bird bath or the many bird feeders. He reads and listens to soothing music.

Nearly four months later, my father is still enjoying life. Friends and family have made many visits and lavished him in prayer. My father has always been a homebody, so he is completely in his comfort zone.  He also enjoys getting out once in a while.  We load him into the car with his wheel chair and a portable oxygen tank and he enjoys every minute of the adventure. He has gone for “walks” in the park and attended my niece’s birthday picnic.

A joyful heart is good medicine. Proverbs 17:22

In an odd way, this ravaging disease has almost been a gift.  He treasures every moment with his family and has connected with us on a deeper level. He has experienced little pain and tolerated the side effects cheerfully. I have never seen my dad more positive. He seems to be enjoying life more than ever as this one slips away from him.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

When I wasn’t able to make the trip to North Carolina on Father’s Day, my Dad was a bit disappointed, but suggested that we could be together next year to celebrate. My stomach fluttered, not wanting to hope, not wanting to let go of hope.  My parents have amazed me with their cheerfulness throughout this process.  In the end, it is all still good—better even. Instead of finding fear in the face of death, we are finding only peace and a greater enjoyment of the time that is left.  An unexpected gift, but one of great value.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Dad enjoys a picnic in the park to celebrate his granddaughter's birthday. This photo shows Mom, Dad and nieces, Nicole and Bethany.