My Journey Along the Narrow Way

Posts tagged ‘death’

We are a Moment…

My stepmom fell today (at a doctor’s office, no less) and broke her hip.  She is currently in the Emergency Room getting admitted into the hospital where they will do surgery  tonight to fix her hip.

Prayers are appreciated – her name is Louava and my dad’s name is Troy.

This immediately brought to mind the suddeness of her fall.  It’s funny how we wake up each morning and we expect to make it through the day in one piece.  We expect for everything to be the same when we get home in the evening as when we left in the morning.  We forget how fleeting life is and how it can all change in the instant.

Before I was a believer, I used to still understand deep down in my heart that if I died without Christ, I would go to Hell.  I didn’t want to go to Hell.  I had been in church enough growing up to know Hell was not where I wanted to spend eternity.

So, what did I do about it?  I stuck my head in the sand.  I put my hands over my ears and closed my eyes and sang, “lalalalalalalala, I’m not listening.”  If my thoughts came even close to thinking about dying, I would quickly and firmly push them into a box and ignore them.

When I did actually let the thought of myself dying come into the corner of my mind, I would assure myself that when the time came, I would have time to “get things right” before dying.  I really thought that.  That I would actually have time to “get saved” at that last instant.  However, the Bible tells us in Job 14:1-2, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.  He comes forth like a flower and fades away; he flees like a shadow and does not continue.”

James 4:13-14 says, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

God calls us “a vapor”.  That is how fragile our lives are.  Just like a vapor that comes from a boiling pot, it soon disapates and is gone.  How silly of me to think that me, just a vapor, could just say to God, “Hold it just a minute, I’m not quite ready for You to take me.  I need just a few minutes so I can get saved”?

Ecclesiastes 8:7-8 says, “For he does not know what will happen; So who can tell him when it will occur?  No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit, And no one has power in the day of death. There is no release from that war, And wickedness will not deliver those who are given to it.”

What an arrogant thought.  And what an insult to the Cross of Jesus and the blood He shed to save men from their sins, for me to make it so cheap that I could just slide into salvation at the last minute.

But that’s what being lost does to you.  It makes you arrogant and self-righteous.  It makes you think that you have all the time in the world to do and live however you want to.  You’ll get right in the end…no problem.

Ecclesiastes 8:12-13 also says, “Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God.”

All this to say… Don’t wait!  You could be gone in an instant!  Romans 10:13 says, “For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”” Call on Him…be saved!  Do it now.  You may not have another chance.

Psalm 90:1-2

Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

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Buster you will be missed…

On Valentine’s Day, we had to have our beloved beagle, Buster, put to sleep. He was 13 years old and had been part of our life for so long, we couldn’t imagine our lives without him there. It’s now been almost 2 months and I finally feel like I can tell a little bit about what made Buster so special to us.

Buster was our third beagle and my children’s third dog. We initially had a little male beagle named Bubba. Then we got a girlfriend for Bubba named Dixie. Bubba was inbred (though we didn’t know it) and we ended up having to have him put to sleep because of genetic problems.

After Bubba died, both Bella and Joey wanted another dog. We looked through the Bulletin Board and found some beagles that were ready. They were way out in the country. So, we started the trek to go find another sweet boy doggie. We took Dixie along so she could help pick. For some reason, that was very important to Bella and Joey.

We had already decided on the name of Buster by the time we got there, after seeing a sign with that on it along the way.

We got to the place and got out of the car. We went around the corner to where the man selling the puppies indicated and there was a big yard with a lot of puppies and some adult dogs as well.

We immediately noticed this one puppy. He was the tubbiest little thing I had ever seen. We soon found out why…Buster was not only eating dog food, but was still nursing as well. He was so fat that his belly almost dragged on the ground. He also was really dark compared to the two beagles we had previously had. He was mostly black with brown and white thrown in. I always thought he looked like a burnt little cookie.

Well, it was love at first sight. We immediately decided he was our Buster. Dixie seemed to like him too, although I think she would much rather us to have brought home Buster’s daddy, she seemed quite taken with him.

Buster was a funny dog. He would actually smile when you rubbed him; so much so that his mouth would almost go up to the corners of his eyes. He loved to have his back scratched and his ears scratched. He was also a pretty easy going doggie until he got old and grumpy.

Buster loved Bella most of all. He got to where he was miserable when she would go on her mission trips. He wouldn’t eat and would just mope. He was also grumpy and growled at the other dogs more often as he aged.

But Buster was happy the day he died. He went out into the yard and lay in the sun and just smiled. We knew it was time for him to go…it was very clear that it was the end. We all loved on him and I know until he took his last breath he knew how much he was loved.

Anyone home?

I haven’t forgotten my blog. I promise. I just seems like lately I haven’t had much to say. Our family seems to be under attack and we lost our dear 13 year old beagle Buster a few weeks back.

On the positive side…I have found two childhood friends on Facebook (or rather one found me through this blog and I found one on Facebook) and I have found two of the older kids from the orphanage in Indonesia on FB as well.

Eventually the words will start flowing again and I will do a real blog post. Hopefully soon. I do plan to do one about our sweet Buster. He was a funny, funny doggie.

The Death of Death…

Last night when I got home from choir I went to check on Bella’s recently acquired gerbils. There are two of them – Rick James and Lucy. Rick James was Bella’s gerbil for a semester long experiment last semester. After the class was over the students were given a choice to either keep the gerbil or to donate it to the zoo to feed the snakes. What kind of choice is that? Get attached for 3 months and then send it to its death? So Bella chose to keep Rick James. She also “adopted” Lucy, one of her other classmate’s gerbil.

Lucy (left) and Rick James

Lucy (left) and Rick James

So…after the issues we had with rats a few months back (plagues), I was trying to see these little rodents as something different…even working up the courage to hold one of them. Every day I check on them but last night something was different. Something was wrong with Lucy. At first I thought maybe she was trying to have some babies since she had gotten a little plump over the last week. But I quickly realized something was seriously wrong.

Lucy was in a little ball with her eyes barely open and her breathing was labored. The only time she would move was when Rick James would get too close and then she would almost fling her body across the cage to other side. When Bella got home we took Lucy out of the cage and put her in a cool-whip bowl lined with paper towels. Eventually Lucy died. I was so incredibly sad. I really don’t know why I reacted so strongly as I thought I hated rodents. But this was so sad to me.

I hate death. I hate it because it takes those we care about away from us. Whether it is a beloved dog, a new gerbil, or the person we love most in the world. I think I got so upset because I have seen a person die and I had such an incredible sadness about the end of life. Death is such an offense to God’s creation.

Should death be an offense to us? Yes. But death can also serve as a reminder to us of how our Lord Jesus Christ has conquered death. It should bring us back to the cross. So when someone we love dies should we grieve? Of course we should. However, the Bible tells us in 1 Thess. 4:13, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep [dead], that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”

Now, I know what some of you are thinking…how can I equate the death of an animal to that of a person? I can’t – not really. I know that animals and humans are totally different. And I really don’t want to get into a debate about whether or not our beloved animals go to heaven or not. The Bible just isn’t clear on that one. I will leave that debate to those more scholarly than I. I would love to think that I would get to see my sweet dogs that have died when I get to Heaven…but I don’t know. I do know that I sure don’t want those rats we killed awhile back running around on the streets of gold. So…it’s a mixed bag.

But I do want to use this sad occurrence to bring me once more to the cross and remember that death has ultimately died. That God is in control of everything…even this little gerbil’s life and death. (“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” – Matthew 10:29) And that He is a loving, merciful God.

Falling in Love (or God’s plan for my life), Part IV…

As an aside…let me break in and talk a bit my mom’s death, as it is an integral part of my story. And it will also tie back in big-time once I start feeling the call of God in my life. I’m really putting myself out here to you guys because this was one of the most devastatingly painful times of my life.

My mom was a sweet, sweet lady – and I’m not just saying that because she was mine. She was one of those rare people that everyone loved from the minute they met her. I don’t ever remember my parents fighting. She had that “quiet and gentle spirit” naturally that I’ve never managed to learn. And she just had such a servant heart. As you may recall, when I was in ninth grade my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

My dad made me go to school the day my mom had her hysterectomy. He thought I was too young to deal with all the stress of it. So when the bus pulled up that afternoon, I just kept hanging around about a block from my house talking with my friends. I just KNEW something was really bad and I didn’t want to face it. Finally my dad sent my brother out to find me. He sat us down and told us it was cancer (they hadn’t told us it was a possibility before hand). At the time, they gave her a 25% change of survival. But somehow I knew she wasn’t going to die.

What followed was a year of treatment that only could described as hell. My mom had chemotherapy once a month by IV. For the week after treatment, she was so sick she couldn’t get out of bed. She had massive nausea and all that goes with that. The week that followed that she was still sick but could get out of bed a little bit. The third week she was getting better and the fourth week she was almost normal. Then came another round….

There wasn’t much we could do to help her. My dad was understandably consumed with my mom whenever he wasn’t at work. So my brother and I were pretty much on our own. It was at this time that I met and started dating Bud.

My mom had another surgery a year after the first and found that she was cancer free. We moved to California shortly thereafter.

A couple of months after I graduated from high school my mother began having a lot of stomach issues. She went to the doctor and after exploratory surgery was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer. This time it was in her intestines. The doctors first tried radiation for a year. After that was completed she began having more problems and she had another surgery. At this surgery, they opened her up and found the cancer was in her stomach, intestines, and bowel. The pretty much just cleaned her out and put a tube from her esophagus coming out of her body. She could eat a little just for taste but it would immediately come out of the tube. At this point they declared her terminal.

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About a month before she died, I came back to California to visit my mom. It was the most horrible and wonderful time of my whole life. She looked so thin and wasted but she had this wonderful spirit about her. We would try to say the things we need to say but we would just cry and cry and not get them out. She definitely was a peace with her impending death and knew without a shadow of a doubt where she was going. My parent’s minister suggested that my mom and I write letters to each other so we could say what we needed to say to each other. So that’s what we did. I had also brought a bunch of bridal magazines with me and I would sit on the bed with my mom and we planned my wedding as best we could.

I left California knowing that I would never see my mom alive again.

About a month after I got back home, on a Wednesday, I went to work as usual and came home at 5:00. Bud came over to visit but had to leave around 7:00 to go home and do homework. The closer the time came for him to go home the more I begged him to stay. I told him I knew my mom was going to die on that die. He kept telling me that I was just worried but I didn’t believe him. He left to go home and wasn’t gone 5 minutes when my dad called to tell me my mom had died 30 minutes before. I had to call Bud and tell him. He came and got me.

I flew to California the next morning and spent the day on the plane in shock. I couldn’t believe she was gone. She was my mother but also my best friend. God had given me to her and my dad and I couldn’t understand why He would then take her away after 19 short years. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was building up a serious grudge against God.

When I got to California I wanted to immediately go and see my mom and say goodbye. That’s when I found out that my dad had decided I was too young to see her and had already gave the okay to have her cremated. I was devastated.

The memorial service was awful. I refused to cry. Some people thought it was strange that I didn’t cry or that I was uncaring, but I knew once I started I wouldn’t be able to stop. So I concentrated on being the caretaker passing out Kleenex to the whole row of our family.

When I got back to Alabama, I tried to just go on as if nothing happened. It was much easier for me to push it out of the way than to think about it. About a week after I got back, my roommate and I decided to watch “Terms of Endearment”. I didn’t know what the movie was about. Let me tell you, once the lady died of cancer at the end, I started crying. It all came out…all the weeks of fear, pain, and tears. I cried so hard and long that my roommate called Bud to come get me. He did and I stayed at his parent’s house for several days. I think I cried 48 hours straight…..and seriously begin hating God for taking my mom away.

Part V coming soon…