Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Making New Memories

Making New Memories
Day 312 from GriefShare Daily Devotional Emails

“As you move forward on your journey, you create new memories each day. Enjoy the good memories of the past, but be aware of the new memories that occur daily.”

Today a friend called me on the spur of the moment and asked if I wanted to go and watch a mutual friend’s children ride in 4H competition.  I immediately said yes as I remembered the above words I had just finished reading on Day 312 of Through a Season of Grief daily devotional emails. 

I have been just a bit concerned because a year later most the memories I have of Byron are when he was in the hospital.  Now granted over the previous year and a half he was in the hospital a lot.  But I would like to start remembering Byron when he was somewhat healthy and not in the hospital. 

Remembering Good Memories
Day 311

”Flashbacks and reruns of disturbing memories can be exhausting. For those in grief, the memories can hit you unexpectedly. Time will fade the bad memories, but be sure to make a conscious effort to remember the good.”

So I plan to make a conscious effort to remember Byron when he was not in the hospital.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Deliberate Dependency

“I am calling you to live in joyful dependence on Me.  Many people view dependence as a despicable condition, so they strive to be as self-sufficient as possible.  This is not My way for you!  I designed you to need Me continually – and to delight in that neediness.” ` from Jesus Today by Sarah Young.

Wow!  Is that a lot to swallow?  Delighting in my neediness on God.  We are trained from childhood here in the US to be self-sufficient.  When I was a single parent I was involved with a county government program called Self Sufficiency – a program to help single moms get back on their feet by giving them skills to work to make a living for their family.  It also helped them find affordable housing.  In fact my rental was the first Section 8 housing in the entire town where I lived.  I even spoke to a couple of groups of congress representatives as well as to private foundations promoting this program.  Was that bad?  No I don’t think so.

I remember one Sunday evening when the kids and I went to church and very surprisingly came home with bags of groceries that my church family had collected on our behalf.  I remember sitting on the floor of our kitchen just crying – grateful that we would have food to eat and humbled that these wonderful people would give of themselves so much and almost on the brink of humiliation that I was in this spot. 

I will just go on the record and say I am not a good receiver.  I love to give but I don’t receive well, especially to the degree of my neediness.  The greater my neediness the greater my humiliation.  God has spent years trying to teach me to be a joyful receiver.  I have improved but have quite a ways to go. 

Even when I fell and broke my ankle this last in April, while I am sitting on the ground outside my home with my leg facing one way and my foot facing another, the second thought I had after thinking, “Man does this hurt” was “OK God, I evidently did not learn it the first ankle break 6 years ago so we are going to have another go of it”.  I feel overall I handled this break much better than I did 6 years ago in several ways, and one of those ways was becoming dependent on my husband and daughter and friends and not feeling humiliated by it.  My dependence on God was a given in this case.

I think I will spend a lifetime working at a healthy balance between self sufficiency and deliberate dependence on God. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Strength to Strength

Years ago I had a very close friend who had cancer.  Three times her cancer went into remission.  There were times when Sheryl had just enough strength to wake up and open her eyes and there were times when she had enough strength to actually get out of bed and perform daily activities.  At this time, years ago, I came across Psalm 84:7, “They go from strength to strength, till each appears before the God in Zion.”  This verse so identified Sheryl and her daily struggle for energy and strength. 

God says He is our strength.  When we are aware of our weakness – which is a very uncomfortable place to be – God wants us to turn to Him for His strength.  Sometimes He gives us an abundant amount of strength and sometimes He gives us only enough strength just for that moment.  The abundant provision is definitely more dramatic and more satisfying but the strength for only the moment keeps us close and coming back for more.

After Byron, my son, passed away a year ago I would go out for walks.  There were times I had to literally find some place to sit down or lean against a tree because I could not breathe.  I felt as if I had been shot through the heart, the pain was so intense.  There were times I wasn’t sure I would even be able to physically walk back home because I was having so much trouble breathing.  Then there were days I could make the entire walk without stopping one time. 

Either way, God desires for our own good, that we be radically dependent on Him.  This flies in the face of all the self sufficient messages we hear every single day.  Another struggle of “being in the world and not of the world”.  Choose today to live in His strength, whatever amount He chooses to give, in whatever way He chooses to give.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Counter Attack

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the death of my son, Byron.  Expecting it to be a difficult day the family had made plans for the evening to all get together at my daughter’s home and eat some of Byron’s favorite foods such as wings and Magnum ice cream bars. 

The night before I went to bed praising God. I made the decision to praise God all day yesterday no matter what.  I know from the Bible and I know from tons of personal experience that God truly does inhabit the praises of His people.  I also know beyond any doubt that Satan has to flee when God’s people praise Him.  So not knowing how hard and difficult yesterday would be, I made the choice to praise God through song and prayer and spoken words through out the day.  And the one year anniversary day turned out to be a good day filled with bittersweet memories, family time and laughter, and new memories made. 

As my husband and I sat in a coffee shop we started talking about how the day was going.  I told him what my plan had been and then got to think that maybe this is the way God wants us to treat every day of our life.  Maybe this is what putting the armor of God on is all about.  Entering the day, expecting Satan to do all he can to cause our downfall, and counter attacking with praises for our Lord and King. 

I have to admit I have never truly understood what putting the armor of God on means for me, and maybe God is teaching me this firsthand.  Something to ponder… 

Monday, July 22, 2013


Tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of my son’s, Byron, death.  Today I had a hard time getting out of bed.  I was thinking how for weeks and months after Byron’s death getting out of bed was a major accomplishment as was fixing meals and other menial responsibilities.  Going to the post office or grocery store was a good distraction from the constant pain.  They also reminded me that life does go on.  God’s Word, the Bible, was the life vest I clung to just to make it through each day.

Then time evolved and going to the grocery store and the post office were distractions not from the pain but from my “life vest” – God’s Word.   I never even saw it happen – it just happened.  Over time I once again became busy, busy with projects and people.  I was happy for the first time in a long time.  I was more carefree and not so laden with pain.  But I was distracted from my first love – God.  I was happy but not joyful.

Then I broke my ankle.  All the distractions went away because they had to go away.  I was once again clinging to God and His Word during the pain and the fear.  I once again developed a routine where God was the first one I met with in the morning before even getting out of bed.  For the first time in weeks that deep seated bitter sweet joy returned. 

Then once again as I was able to walk free of the knee scooter and crutches, life’s activities picked up.  My routine changed again.  I could actually now cook a dinner and make a bed and walk up and down the stairs and do laundry.  I found I now had to discipline myself to meet with God every morning.

How frustrated God must get with me but His mercy wins out because He knows me and He loves me in spite of myself.  He knows as humans we have to discipline ourselves to return to our First Love when it should come natural.  But sin has taken that naturalization away.  So we have to work at it. 

I think what is important here, is that I now realize it.  I realize how fleeting the desire for my First Love can be and I must maintain that discipline of spending time with Him daily. Only then will I know that deep down joy that survives and defies all circumstances.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Yesterday was just one of the tough days in life.  Not the “tough” that everything goes wrong and nothing goes right, but just a few things don’t go as expected and you become down.  I know my “up” meter is below average anyway as the one year anniversary of my son, Byron’s, death approaches next week.  So it is during times like this I remember to look for the good in each day expecting the hard times to be present. 

Two days ago Byron’s best friend, Pete, responded to a text of mine.  This was the first time we had heard from Pete in almost a year.  Over the last year I have randomly sent Pete texts and called him and left voice mails just to see how he is doing but with no response.  Since we are coming up on the anniversary date I thought Pete might be struggling as we are, so I sent him a text to tell him we were thinking of him. 

He responded and apologized for “disappearing” and asked for forgiveness.  As I responded to him, if there is one thing I have learned on this journey of grief, that is that no two people grieve the same way and there is no right or wrong way to grieve.  Just as we are as individual as snow flakes are individual, so is our grieving unique.  Therefore there is nothing to forgive.  It was just great hearing from him again after all these months. 

So why should I let a 3 hour wait at 2 different Departments of Motor Vehicle and a defective SIM card for my new phone and no phone service for a week overshadow reconnecting with Byron’s best friend?  I should not.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Balm in Gilead

Yesterday I had the opportunity to get together with a treasured dear friend that I had not seen in a year.  And it had been years since we had spent any time together.  We spent five hours catching up with each other, finding out about each others families, children, grandchildren, work, retirement, struggles, cancer, health, vacations, homes, etc.  It was such a precious time to just reconnect with a friend of 35+ years and a sister in Christ.

As I was reflecting on our conversation I likened those five hours to a balm in Gilead for my soul.  Reflecting on our long time friendship, realizing how good God has been to both of us, even with all our struggles and challenges. 

There Is a Balm in Gilead
By: African American spiritual
Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.

Don’t ever feel discouraged, for Jesus is your friend;
And if you lack for knowledge, He’ll never refuse to lend.
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.



Monday, July 15, 2013

Morning Kiss

This year my parents will celebrate 66 years of marriage.  A couple weeks ago while I was home visiting, my mom says to my dad around 10 in the morning, “Jim, I haven’t had my morning kiss.”  At the moment that she said this, my dad was getting out of his chair.  At age 96 Dad is a wee bit wobbly on his feet and needs his cane to help his balance which was not by his chair.  I am sitting in the love seat across from this witnessing this entire encounter.  I have my foot elevated healing from a broken ankle.  And I myself usually have to get my balance when standing due to some lack of feeling in my foot from the two surgeries on my ankle. 

So my mom who has always walked the speed of light, even at age 88, jumps out of her chair and heads for her morning kiss from my dad.  I am sitting there thinking, “Oh Lord, please don’t let either one of them fall over because I would not be able to break the fall nor probably be able to help them up if one or both of them fell”.  So my mom who is all of 5’1” lunges for my dad who is 5’10” for her morning kiss and wraps her arms around his neck as both teeter for balance and I pray they don’t fall and can enjoy this morning kiss.  They did not fall and both enjoyed the kiss.

What a fantastic legacy I have been blessed to be born into.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Out of Order

I recently returned from visiting my parents who live in an independent retirement community.  The majority of this age 80+ generation who live in this community eat their meals in the community dining room.  At the time I visited, one of three elevators was down.  They were waiting on parts to be shipped in to fix the elevator.  This facility has 3 elevators, one on either side and one in the middle.  Unfortunately it was the central elevator that had broken down, the one closest to the dining room.

This breakdown forced some residents to take a new way to get to and from the dining room.  For those who walking was a challenge due to physical ailments found this difficult.  For those who had a degree of dementia - this threw them totally off kilter.  They had become accustomed to the visual cues along a certain route to and from the dining room.  Now those cues are all different and they lost their way. 

About the 3rd day I was there the south elevator broke down.  So now there is only one elevator working.  More and more people did not come to meals because the walk was just too far and too difficult for them.  So some missed out on the only socialization they get during each day.  For others they could make the walk but got very confused now on which elevator was working (signs were poorly handwritten and put to the side of the elevator-not on the door of the elevator).  And then more confusion on how to get to and from the dining hall. 

When I left 5 days later both elevators had still not been fixed.  I recently broke my ankle and this trip was my first experience with walking without the aid of a scooter.  I used a crutch for the first few days but worked up the stamina and balance so I could walk without the crutch.  I know how difficult it was for me, and I am 30-40 years younger than most of these residents. 

All this to say lets be mindful and compassionate of others abilities.

Monday, July 8, 2013


I had the fun adventure of spending July 4th with my extended family in Roswell, NM.  I was reminded of a family tradition that at first did not seem like a tradition at all.  But the more I thought about it, it has almost become a rite of passage into the Markl family.  My brother, Steve, age 62, has been riding motorcycles since he was 12 years old.  During these 50 years of riding “bikes” he has taught countless family members how to ride or either taken them on rides on his bikes.  The above picture is my brother with his 2 year old grandson on one of his 4 bikes.  Steve taught me how to ride a bike, he taught his own children, his nieces and nephews, and now is teaching his grandchildren and grand nieces and nephews how to ride a motorcycle.  His grandson, Hunter, age 13, will be riding his 1st motorcross bike race this week. 

Why is this tradition like many other traditions so important?  Because it says “you belong” to this family.  Each of us need “to belong” to something greater than ourselves.  Each of us has that desire to be valued for who we are and for what we are.  What greater privilege is there than “belonging”?  “Belonging” is what we cling to with the storms of life toss us all about.  “Belonging” is the anchor we grab for and hold onto desperately when the waves of turmoil are about to consume us.  “Belonging” is what gives us direction and holds us steady when we are bombarded by so many choices.  

What traditions are you creating to let your loved ones know they belong?