Tag Archives: death

First Day of Spring

Happy First Day of Spring!

Here are some words that make me want to live a nobler and more meaningful life.

Read them slowly, if you have the time. Read them aloud, if you have the courage. And let them bring spring to your heart and vision to your life.

“Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long and of service to your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.

Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.
When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light,
for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.

When your time comes to die,
be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death,
so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time
to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.” – Tecumseh

How We Make a Life

Christmas DollBy John London

I hurried into the local department store to grab some last-minute Christmas gifts. I looked at all the people and grumbled to myself. I would be in here forever and I just had so much to do. Christmas was beginning to become such a drag. I kinda wished that I could just sleep through Christmas. But I hurried the best I could through all the people to the toy department. Once again I mumbled to myself at the prices of all these toys and wondered if the grandkids would even play with them.

I found myself in the doll aisle. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a little boy about five holding a lovely doll. He kept touching her hair and he held her so gently. I could not seem to help myself. I just kept looking over at the little boy and wondered who the doll was for. I watched him turn to a woman he called his aunt and say, “Are you sure I don’t have enough money?” She replied a bit impatiently, “You know that you don’t have enough money for it.” The aunt told the little boy not to go anywhere; that she had to go get some other things and would be back in a few minutes. And then she left the aisle. The boy continued to hold the doll.

After a bit I asked the boy who the doll was for. He said, “It is the doll my sister wanted so badly for Christmas. She just knew that Santa would bring it.” I told him that maybe Santa was going to bring it. He said “No, Santa can’t go where my sister is … I have to give the doll to my momma to take to her.” I asked him where his sister was.

He looked at me with the saddest eyes and said, “She has gone to be with Jesus. My daddy says that Momma is going to have to go be with her.” My heart nearly stopped beating. Then the boy looked at me again and said, “I told Daddy to tell Momma not to go yet. I told him to tell her to wait till I got back from the store.” Then he asked me if I wanted to see his picture. I told him I would love to. He pulled out some pictures he’d had taken at the front of the store. He said, “I want my momma to take this with her so she won’t ever forget me. I love my momma so very much and I wish she didn’t have to leave me, but Daddy says she will need to be with my sister.”

I saw that the little boy had lowered his head and had grown so very quiet. While he was not looking, I reached into my purse and pulled out a handful of bills. I asked the little boy, “Shall we count that money one more time?” He grew excited and said, “Yes, I just know it has to be enough.” So I slipped my money in with his and we began to count it.

Of course, it was plenty for the doll. He softly said, “Thank You Jesus for giving me enough money.” Then the boy said, “I just asked Jesus to give me enough money to buy this doll so Momma can take it with her to give to my sister, and He heard my prayer. I wanted to ask Him for enough to buy my momma a white rose, but I didn’t ask Him; but He’s given me enough to buy the doll and a rose for Momma! She loves white roses so very, very much.”

In a few minutes the aunt came back and I wheeled my cart away. I could not keep from thinking about the little boy as I finished my shopping in a totally different spirit than when I had started. I kept remembering a story I had seen in the newspaper several days earlier about a drunk driver hitting a car and killing a little girl and the mother was in serious condition. The family was deciding on whether to remove the life support. Surely this little boy did not belong with that story.

Two days later I read in the paper that the family had disconnected the life support and the young woman had died. I couldn’t forget the little boy and just kept wondering if the two were somehow connected. Later that day, I couldn’t help myself, I went out and bought some white roses and took them to the funeral home where the young woman was. There she was, holding a lovely white rose, the beautiful doll, and the picture of the little boy in the store.

I left there in tears, my life changed forever. The love that little boy had for his little sister and his mother was overwhelming. “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”

Retrieved from “A Touching Christmas Story

All the Difference

boxOnce upon a time there was a boy. He enjoyed the things that most boys do. Playing with friends. Camping. Chasing fireflies. Catching frogs. Looking for the end of the rainbow.

His mother and father had been saving a gift for him, waiting for the right day to present it. “I don’t know if he’s ready,” the father said.

“Of course he is,” the mother replied. Having thus settled the matter, they went to the boy, who was in the living room building a block tower.

Kneeling down, they presented their son with the gift. They explained what was inside and asked him if he would like to open it. The boy, who had been pulled away from his building project, looked brown paper package.

“Not now,” he replied. The boy picked up the present, carried it to his room, placed it in his closet, and returned to his blocks. The father looked at the mother with an “I-told-you-so” glance.

Sometime later, the mother told the father, “I wish he would open it. It would make all the difference in the world.”

Their boy grew. In springtime, he dug up worms in the backyard. In summertime, he ran under the sprinkler and tracked mud into the house. When the leaves fell in autumn, he raked them into piles with his mother. In winter, he made snow angels while looking up into the clear blue sky.

The years passed. The box sat in the back of the closet. Sometimes the boy would notice it, stuffed behind his Lego boxes and G.I. Joes. Sometimes he would take it out and consider revealing the contents inside. Each time he would place it back in his closet, unopened.

The day arrived that he prepared to leave home. He packed his things. He moved boxes out to his parents’ garage. “I’ll come back for them when I finish college.” His mother kissed him goodbye, with tears in her eyes. His father hugged him, almost too tight. They both saw the moment he placed the package in one of the boxes before carrying it to the garage.

One day he, with his young bride, carried those boxes from his parents’ garage to their new home. The new husband and wife unpacked the boxes together, blending his belongings with hers as they began to blend their lives together.

“What’s this?” she asked of an item in plain wrapping. The boy-now-a-man explained what it was. “You should open it,” she said. “I got the same thing when I was young,” she said. “As the years have passed, it has made all the difference in the world.” He smiled obligingly and placed the box in the back of the closet.

The husband and wife had a boy, and then a girl. Their lives were filled with busyness and joy. The days he spent building block towers as a child had transformed into professional building. He built homes for the rich, the famous, and the lofty dreamers.

The day came that his wife showed him something she had prepared for their children. Two paper packages. “I think they’re ready for this gift,” she said. He shrugged and turned away. They opened their gifts. And they loved them.

More years went by. Their children grew and moved away. The boy-now-a-man nursed his wife through a sickness that he realized wasn’t going away.

He stood, watching a grave being lowered into fresh, dark earth. Before she drew her last breath, his wife had urged him one last time to open the gift. He had only nodded and smiled. What difference does it make? We all end up in the same place in the end, a box lined with plush velvet.

His son was now a father. His daughter now a mother. Both with lovely families that grew and flourished. But he knew his time was short. Why human lives don’t last as long as the buildings we create, he pondered, makes no sense to me.

He followed his doctor’s advice and admitted himself to a private room with a window that overlooked one of his own grand designs. The day was fast approaching and he hated the thought. Placed in a box. Lowered into the dark ground. The end. The highlight of the day was his son visiting.

But today they all came. One by one, they passed through, telling him how much they respected him for all he had built in his lifetime. Last of all, his son entered, alone, and knelt by his bedside. He placed a familiar object on the old man’s beside.

“I found this among your things, dad,” the son said. “It would mean so much to me if you opened it. You know it was mom’s last wish.” The old man saw the pleading in his son’s eyes.

“It’s too late,” the old man said. “I’ve lived my life. I’ve built my castles. See?” He gestured toward the window, beyond which towered a building of glass and stone. “And they last longer than me.”

“It doesn’t have to be that way,” the son replied, salt-drops of tears on his cheeks.

At his son’s urging, the boy-now-an-old-man took the box in his hands. A rush flowed through him, like the day he went surfing and the day he got married and the day he held his newborn son in his arms – all rolled into one. With shaky hands, he opened it.

He held it in his hands, and his heart felt at peace. “You’re right,” the old man said, “It does make all the difference in the world.” And with that, he closed his eyes.

The Story behind “It is Well with my Soul” – Horatio Spafford

It is Well[Written by Jane Winstead, from Yahoo Voices]

In the late 1860s life was good for Horatio G. Spafford and his wife Anna. They were living in a north side suburb of Chicago with their five children, Annie, Maggie, Bessie, Tanetta and Horatio, Jr. He had a successful law practice in Chicago. … Horatio G. Spafford was quite active in the abolitionist movement. Frances E. Willard, president of the National Women’s Christian Temperance Union as well as evangelical leaders like Dwight L. Moody were often guests in their home. …

Until now Horatio and Anna Spafford had led a charmed life. They had everything going their way. However, in 1870 their faith was tested by tragedy. Their four year old son, Horatio, Jr., died of scarlet fever. The Spaffords were devastated. In October of 1871 when the Great Chicago Fire broke out Horatio faced another test of his faith. A few months before the Great Chicago Fire, Spafford being a wealthy man, had invested much of his wealth in real estate by the shore of Lake Michigan. Not only did the Great Chicago Fire destroy most of Chicago but most of Spafford’s holdings were destroyed. 250 people died in the Great Chicago Fire and 90,000 were left homeless.

The Spaffords did not despair. Their home had been spared and they had their family. God had been good. Even though their finances were mostly depleted, Anna and Horatio used what resources they had left to feed the hungry, help the homeless, care for the sick and injured and comfort their grief stricken neighbors. The Great Chicago Fire was a great American tragedy; the Spaffords used it to show the love of the Christ to those in need.

In 1873 Anna Spafford’s health was failing and hoping to put behind the tragic loss of their son and the fire and to benefit Anna’s health, the Spaffords planned a trip to Europe. They would sail on the French steamer Ville du Havre to Europe with their four daughters. Spafford not only wanted to visit Europe but he wanted to assist Evangelists Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey in a revival they were conducting in England. …

The day they were to sail for Europe Spafford had a business emergency and could not leave. Not wanting to disappoint his wife Anna and their daughters he sent them on ahead and planned to follow on another ship in a few days. … On November 22, 1873 the steamer Ville du Havre was struck by a British iron sailing ship, the Lockhearn. The steamer Ville du Havre, with Anna Spafford and her daughters aboard, sank within twelve minutes in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Only 81 of the 307 passengers and crew members survived this tragic shipwreck.

Even though the Lockhearn was in danger of sinking the unconscious Anna Spafford was picked up from floating debris by the crew of the Lockhearn. An American cargo sailing vessel, the Trimountain, arrived in time to save the survivors of the Ville du Havre and the Lockhearn. Anna Spafford was taken to Cardiff, Wales where she telegraphed her husband Horatio. Anna’s cable was brief and heartbreaking, “Saved alone. What shall I do…” Horatio and Anna’s four daughters had drowned. As soon as he received Anna’s telegram, Horatio left Chicago without delay to bring his wife home. Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean the captain of the ship called Horatio to the bridge. He informed Horatio that “A careful reckoning has been made and I believe we are now passing the place where the Ville du Havre was wrecked. The water is three miles deep.”

That night, alone in his cabin Horatio G. Spafford penned the words to his famous hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul.” …

After Anna was rescued, Pastor Nathaniel Weiss, one of the ministers traveling with Anna and Horatio’s group remembered hearing Anna say, “God gave me four daughters. Now they have been taken from me. Someday I will understand why.” Anna was utterly devastated. Many of the survivors watched Anna closely, fearing she may try to take her life. In her grief and despair, Anna heard a soft voice speaking to her, “You were saved for a purpose!” …

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, 
When sorrows like sea billows roll; 
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, 
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, 
Let this blest assurance control, 
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, 
And hath shed His own blood for my soul. 

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! 
My sin, not in part but the whole, 
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, 
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! 

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, 
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; 
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, 
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is believed that Horatio took the words “It is well” from the words of the Shunammite woman whose only son was raised from the dead by Elisha.

When Faith Shall be Sight

Bible by candlelightWhen I was four or five years old, I was reading through “The Picture Bible” (still one of my favorite renditions of Bible stories) and decided that my favorite Bible story was the one in Second Kings Chapter four, where Elisha saves a widow’s sons from being sold into slavery. The woman has absolutely nothing that she can use to pay her debts. She goes to the prophet Elisha, who asks her what she has. “Nothing but a little oil,” she answers. He tells her to borrow jugs and bowls from her neighbors and start pouring the oil — which lasts until the very last jug has been filled. It’s enough to pay off the debt and live off the remainder.

It’s an awesome story and still one of my favorites.

But Second Kings Chapter four has another story, which has not one but two miracles. It has become one of my favorites as well. It is a tale of amazing faith. I call it the “It is Well” story.

Elisha the prophet often passed through a place called Shunem. A woman of the town invited him for a meal and suggested to her husband they set aside a room in the house with a bed and a table and other furnishings so that the prophet would have a place to stay whenever he passed through.

In appreciation, the prophet asked her what she wanted. “I’m good,” she answered. I could picture myself saying something like that. But in reality, she had a dream … a dream she had pretty much let go of by that time. She wanted a baby.

Elisha found out from someone else that she was childless and next time he saw her, he promised her that this time next year, she would be holding her son.

And so she was. Her dream had come true.

But one day, while working long and hard in the fields, the boy’s head started to hurt. He went home and died while resting on his mother’s lap.

Her son. Her dream come true. Dead.

Without a word to anyone, she asked her servant to take her to Elisha. He saw her coming afar off and sent his servant to ask if everything was okay. Her answer?

It is well.

Her only child had just died. I could think of nothing worse happening in my life than losing a child. But she answered, “It is well.”

Perhaps, like Abraham with Isaac, she knew exactly where her son came from: God, who holds the power of life and death within His hands. She knew He had the power to bring Him back, if it was His will. And so she answered, “It is well.”

And it was.

The boy rose from the dead. The mother’s dream woke up and breathed and she embraced him.

“It is well.”

On Saturday I will share the story of the man who wrote the hymn “It is Well with my Soul.” In the midst of deepest sorrow, he also spoke those words of faith in God.

Not everyone will have their dreams returned to them. And few will understand why, in this world, such things happen. But one day, they will be rewarded for simply trusting that it is well. One day …

“When our faith shall be sight

The clouds be rolled back like a scroll

The trump shall resound

And the Lord shall descend

Even so … it is well with my soul.”

A Better World

In yesterday’s post I mentioned my best friend. She was an awesome writer. I loved reading her poetry, which she rarely shared with anyone. One poem that she wrote I even memorized, little knowing that my memory of it would be my only record of her poetry. I wish I had memorized more of them.

She wrote this poem after a summer missions trip she took to South America. In the same day she met two young men. One seemed to have nothing, as far as physical possessions go, but he was happy, content, and his life had purpose. The other man was rich … and that was it. He wasn’t at all interested in the deeper things of life. This chance meeting affected her, the contrast of these two lives. I don’t know if her poem had a title, but these are the words as well as I can remember them …

Cross the world and cover the land

Hold a thousand palaces in your hand

Men may live or die at your whim

Yet none would have a fate so grim

For if all you hold is all you own

Your life has turned to empty stone

Turn back, I pray, and you will feel

Something inside you far more real

The amber sunlight’s gentle glow

The touch of soft, clean white snow

The gentle life of a tiny child

When all around you was tender and mild

One does not have to always grow up

Let riches and greed and pride corrupt

If one man another way would take

A better world that man could make

— Trina Fire

Into the Beautiful

I’ve been working with a man from the UK over the past few months, assisting him in the area of ghostwriting and editing. I finished a project for him this past week and sent a report. In response I got a note from him that his brother just died unexpectedly.

What do you say in response to something like that? All I could tell him was that I would be praying for him. I am, and I will. Me and the kids stopped right there to pray for him and his family and friends.

It’s been 14 years to the day since my best friend died, and still sometimes I wonder what life would be like if she had stayed. Would she have married? Would we be comparing notes about motherhood or writing? Your life is never exactly the same when you lose someone close. Those things that could have been never will be, and it hurts. I pray that my client in the UK finds peace and comfort, and that his brother is in a better place … a place of light and love and beauty.

The song I’m sharing today has recently become one of my favorites. It makes me think of Heaven … the beautiful. It’s one of those songs where I can close my eyes and just listen to it over and over again. Today, the song is my prayer for my friend, for his brother. That the chaos be made a chorus. That His love and mercy covers all.

Take me into the Beautiful.