Thursday, January 13, 2011

It ain't over till the ArchAngel sings

A note from Paul.

Years ago when I worked at a mission for the homeless, one of my regular guys attempted suicide. In the hospital with him that night, and trying to decipher what his reasons were for the attempt, we decided I would sit in on his meetings with his psychologist. One of the roots to confusion for him had been taking in what the psychologist was telling him, and then taking in what Christianity spoke to him. The two clashed in his mind. It became my Job to review the terms used by the medical, and the spiritual, and produce a harmony between the two.

I found myself again in this endeavor, when I reviewed the stages of grief. The five stages of grief according to psychologists are:

■  shock followed by initial denial;
■  denial replaced by anger, rage, envy, and resentment;
■  bargaining (with God);
■  depression;
■  ultimate acceptance

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
True psychology is a science. Science is basically the discovery of our world through observation and experimentation. There is nothing wrong with science and it can give us many keys to understanding our world. A very compassionate woman named Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross, who worked extensively with the dying and their survivors, first recorded these “stages of grief” in her book, On Death and Dying, in 1969. They are a simple observation of the emotions and states of mind that people encounter, when faced with a loss of any kind.

Elisabeth herself did not remain in the realm of science. She expanded her studies deeply into spiritualism. Science can only go so far until it hits a wall, and can proceed no further. Like watching an old black and white movie, there comes a time when you look away and remember the world is really full of color, not just shades of grey. The emotions outlined above are only a record of observations. They can be helpful in knowing what we will face, but any good psych will tell you, they are not hard and fast rules.

True Christianity adds the color. While there are no “stages of grief” in the Bible, all of the emotions are there and quite real. That’s because Christianity enters the realms where science must stop. It brings answers to the demanding questions that only the heart can bring to the table.

The first addition of color which Christianity brings is the idea that we are not alone in our grief. If you look again at the list above you will see God mentioned, but not with any kind of actual faith. He’s just an idea, as if he was just a quirky mental reflex.

Christianity will agree that God is not a tool for us to control the world, or to avoid an honest dealing with reality. Yet there is a true saying; “there are no atheists in foxholes.” The heart speaks truth and it knows where it must turn, to God. When it’s someone else, we say it’s “the bargaining with God stage.” When it’s us, and the pain has cleared out all the intellectual garbage, it all very quickly turns to “please help me.”

That is a true problem with the “stages of grief” for anyone; it can tell you how a human reacts but in the end our hearts couldn’t give a damn. When the gut speaks, it puts up with zero foolishness. It speaks truth loud and clear, not facts; the heart cares not a bit about facts, it goes beyond them to what’s real.

When I buried a friend named Tommy, my heart, in midst of a beat, erupted. We were driving away from the grave site and from the back seat of the car, I turned wanting to crawl through the rear window with the cry in my throat “NO! We CAN’T leave him there!” In that instant I really wanted to dig him back up, I wanted him to be alive. The action would have been fruitless, but the desire is not unreasonable, in fact it is the only sane desire; to have a return to life.

As C.S. Lewis remarked, “There are moments, most unexpectedly, when something inside me tries to assure me that I don't really mind so much, not so very much, after all. Love is not the whole of a man's life. I was happy before I ever met H. I've plenty of what are called "resources." People get over these things. Come, I shan't do so badly. One is ashamed to listen to this voice but it seems for a little to be making out a good case. Then comes a sudden job of red-hot memory and all this "commonsense" vanishes like an ant in the mouth of a furnace.”

Which brings us to that all desired “stage” of resignation, er, I mean acceptance. The Bible actually talks of two types of sorrow, one with hope and one without.

1Th 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

A Christian is not to sorrow as if there was not a good God who has plans. We do accept the things we cannot change, as the death of a loved one or another loss, and pick up and bear our cross. It is not however by abandoning God’s cry for restoration that rings from our hearts. He intends not only to bring a restoration, but to deliver one with a miraculous passion. That is what all the small and temporary miracles we read of and experience are a witness to. They are his promise of things to come, and why many times they are seen in the midst of loss, they are set beautifully “in spite of.”

There is in the book of Revelation two passages, one which states that God shall wipe from our eyes EVERY tear. That is our tender Father, on bended knee, remembering each of our woes that he stood by us in. Then there is also Jesus, the warrior, who intently and deliberately places each prayer ever uttered into an incense burner. He adds fire to them (can you feel the passion) swings it around like a weapon and casts it to the earth, ready to take vengeance for the cries of pain he has endured in his ears.

The promises he has given match the intensity of our loss’s, babies shall be held in once empty arms, cries of joy shall be heard as friends once again see each other, the faces of our loved ones no longer will be creased with constant pain, and yes, the dead shall be raised to life again.

With all the grief’s that have assaulted in the last month, past and present, there is still a voice deep in my heart to which I bend my knee in thanks:

Ro 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

photo credits:, Wikipedia.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Celebration Time!


Today is the last day of NaNoWriMo! We’ve all raced, sweated and slogged water, food and chocolate on the run - and now, now we are at the finish line with words in tow! Yeah! Don’t forget to validate your word count on the website so you can collect your special prizes. By the way, you can still add to your word count after validation in case you’re waiting to eek out that last little phrase.

Congratulations, NaNo’ers!

This is no small feat!

If you have won by passing 50,000 words, you must be elated! If you have not passed 50K don’t fret – as every writer knows, having some word count is far better than no word count. It’s just that those over 50K now have more work ahead of us in editing, lol!

Celebration Giveaway!

To celebrate my household skating over the finish line for NaNoWriMo (me and my teens have won!) and to celebrate MuseItUp Publishing’s December Launch, I’m offering a giveaway through the good folks at CSN stores!

One lucky winner will receive a $35.00 gift certificate. All you have to do is join my blog and leave a comment on this blog post. Also, optionally, if you’d like to be on my email list for my writing newsletter, please leave your email with your comment like so: avidreader-at-gmail-dot-com. That way spammers can’t grab your email off the internet and I can send you the newsletter when it comes out. You can join my blog through Facebook on Networked Blogs or through Blogger. Through Blogger you’ll need a gmail account which is fast, easy and free. If you have already joined this blog or my homeschool blog, just leave a comment on this post on this site or the other.

This will run from today through Thursday night at midnight and then Molly will pick a name out of a hat which I’ll announce on Friday in this blog post.

As some of you know, I carry my backpack with me everywhere, yes, even to fancy social events. I always have my notebook and pen handy and more often than not, my netbook as well. My teen authors-in-training are carrying notepads and pens with them everywhere in their own backpacks now – it’s becoming a family tradition...or quirk, lol! It’s never too early to encourage a budding writer and CSN has an amazing selection of children’s backpacks if you have a child who would like their very own writing kit - it would make a lovely Christmas and/or Chanukkah gift.

MuseItUp Publishing Launch!

 Hope to see you at the party tomorrow for MuseItUp Publishing and for Boston Wrimo’s, I’ll see you at the TGIO party in the Hub!

And at this turning point, MuseItUp Publishing is having our launch party all day tomorrow! Please join the readers group (this is mainstream) to be eligible for spectacular door prizes! It gets even better… we’re having a sale in the bookstore.

Holiday Special: Get 25% off any purchase from today until December 10th.
Use code: HC2010D at checkout in the discount code box before going to Paypal.

Write on!

photo credits:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving & An Invitation!


Launch Party!

As many of you know, I work for MuseItUp Publishing as an editor and an author.  December 1st we're having our Grand Opening!  All the details are on my writing blog.  I hope you can join us! 

I have edited several of the YA books that are releasing and they are excellent.  If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email.

December 1st we'll have fun and games for everyone, and now the two houses have two reader's groups as well.  The mainstream line is family friendly and I daresay children can go online for the contests.  I'll check that out with my publisher but since there's no adult content, it should be fine!


Happy Thanksgiving!

It's our family tradition to stay home on Thanksgiving.  I love getting up early to put the bird in the oven and pad around in my slippers setting out breakfast for when my sleepy heads get up.  In the next few days, me and the girls will bake cranberry bread, apple and pumpkin pie and prepare vegetables ahead of time.  Our fat turkey is thawing now on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.

If this is a difficult time for you due to illness or the economy, or you know of a single person who is alone for the holidays, there are several local churches who are serving Thanksgiving dinner to families in their areas.  Pick a few in your town and give them a call.  Chances are that if that one isn't, they know which ones are. 

Kell's Restaurant in Allston is serving a free Thanksgiving meal (Christmas, too).

Here are some places on the North Shore.

A country club in Halifax, you need to call ahead of time.

I tried to get a Boston listing but couldn't find any online.  If you know of a church nearby, or other facility, be sure to leave it in the comments section for others.  And you know, if you burn the bird on Thursday, you can go have dinner there, too! 

Sneak preview, I'm hostessing another CNS gift certificate giveaway in honor of finishing NaNoWriMo on November 31st and the launch of MuseItUp Publishing.  Details to follow!

photo credits: & MuseItUp Publishing