Category Archives: Matters of Life & Death

Life, Death and Supernatural Events

© PhotoSpin.com

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

Advertisements

The Hour Has Come: The Story of Brendan

Brendan and I meet face to face for the first time. (Photo: © Patrick Lynch)

Before I brought a child into the world, I lived a very self-centered life. Although I was raised in a Christian home, I didn’t have a saving faith until I married and had a child well into my thirties. The process of bringing my son into the world was a difficult path for me, but I would not trade it for anything. It opened my eyes to a whole new realm of truth.

During my pregnancy, I had gestational diabetes. I was also old enough and had enough other health issues that it was considered a complicated pregnancy. I followed the hospital’s suggestion of writing out a birth plan that included my desire for natural childbirth. After all, it was what women in my family did and they all seemed to have pretty simple childbirth experiences. I was so confident in this eventuality that when we missed the Lamaze class on caesarean births, I didn’t even bother to read up on it in my books.

That must have been some sort of insanely stubborn denial because I was completely surprised when that was what played out for me. My obstetrician had scheduled an induction date for me because of the gestational diabetes and for four days of varying levels of pitocin-induced labor, I labored in vain. I had strong “camel back” contractions without a single centimeter of dilation. No one had warned me that induced labor might not work.

I had entered some sort of zone of pain management in my mind. I fixated on my hands gripping the railing of my bed and the hours slipped by, but no amount of visualizing my cervix opening made it so. Still, I had my mind set on natural childbirth, so it actually surprised me when my doctor told me in the middle of the fourth day of unproductive labor that she had already assembled a surgical team and prepped the room for a c-section.

When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. John 16:21

After the decision had been made, it all went relatively quickly. Within an hour, my baby boy met me on my head side of the blue curtain and I knew without a doubt that it had all been worth every moment of difficulty.

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. 1 Timothy 2:15 ESV

This much-debated verse certainly has a personal meaning for me. I know that I received my salvation through God’s son alone, and yet God used my son to draw me to him as well. (More on that in my next blog entry)

How has (or would) bringing a child into the world changed you?

(Photo: © Patrick Lynch)


Never Die

© PhotoSpin.com

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

© PhotoSpin.com

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


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.