October 29, 2012

Loss And Grief...

Todays blog piece was written by my friend Christine Jensen for the 'Growing Faith 'website, it has been re published here with her kind permission...
We lost our first grandchild, Jonathan, who died at birth. His parents, Chris and Elizabeth knew this is what would happen. He was diagnosed well beforehand as having a disease, which meant his kidneys would not develop. I can’t begin to tell you how dreadful that was. It was one of those times in life when as a mother, I felt helpless. There was nothing I could do to make it better.
Termination of pregnancy was offered by the doctors, but Chris and Beth knew he was alive and was their child. They could not take his life. They decided to give little Jonathan the best life he could have, even though it was spent almost entirely in his mother’s womb, and let him live the life God had given him.* The paediatrician told them that babies can hear in the womb. Chris bought a selection of books which they read to Jonathan each night. If I remember, ’Fox in Socks’ was the one he moved most to. It was sad but special at the same time.
They shared with their friends how they felt, and asked them not to be afraid to talk about Jonathan. Often we don’t say anything to those going through difficult times because we think it’s best not to make the person feel sad. But the opposite is true. They don’t want to be ignored, and will let you know when you’ve spoken too hastily or said too much. In sharing their pain, all their friends knew about Jonathan and knew what was going to happen. The support was remarkable. 
I had the privilege of being there when he was born. Many of us visited Beth in hospital and we held little Jonathan in our arms, although by that time he had left us. Saying goodbye for the final time was heart wrenching. We had a full funeral in church, with a small casket. Many people shared our grief. There was a powerful sermon about death and dying and hope and resurrection. There were no eulogies to draw attention away from the Lord Jesus and what he has done for us - there was no chance to be diverted by what Jonathan had achieved. As a baby, he was a symbol of God’s grace, even to the utterly helpless. His Mother read the lesson: Romans 5:1-11 ‘And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.’ (v5)
Then we laid him in the cemetery and we prayed and read the scriptures. Then we all sang together ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’. Jonathan had gone home to Jesus earlier than we would have wished, but we knew he was safe home. It was for us to join him in due time.

I often think of Jonathan. I see a child of his age, he’d be 16 now, and my breath catches as I imagine him growing up and running around and laughing and reading and wrestling. Or I see one of his younger siblings and think that he may have looked like that. Each year on Jonathan’s birthday, the family visit the cemetery and give thanks for his life. I’ve taken to giving his brothers and sisters a book each year which I inscribe ‘On Jonathan’s birthday’.
You never forget. You never outgrow that grief. It remains in your mind, an experience which is now your own. The grief and the loss becomes simply part of you, part of who you are. Just as God deals with us in our joys and in the everyday experiences of life, he also graciously tends our sorrows and turns them into part of what he is making us to be. At one level that may be merely a human process. But sometimes we can dwell too much on our loss and we can never move beyond it, perhaps because we are frightened we will forget it and lose an essential part of who we are.
That is where our trust in the Lord is so important. Even our losses are in his hands. We can trust him with them, trust him that we can move on without forgetting, but trust him that he will turn even this loss into an aspect of the good he is doing in us. 

* I realise that for some people in similar situations this is not always possible especially if the mother’s life is at risk.

October 4, 2012

And Though She Be...

August 2, 2012

Poetry In Pictures: 'Under The Greenwood Tree'...

Under the Greenwood Tree

Under the greenwood tree
Who loves to lie with me,
And turn his merry note
Unto the sweet bird's throat,
Come hither, come hither, come hither:
Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather. 

Who doth ambition shun,
And loves to live i' the sun,
Seeking the food he eats,
And pleas'd with what he gets,
Come hither, come hither, come hither:
Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather. 
William Shakespeare

July 19, 2012

My Photo Culture: 'My Madiba and the Country I Love'…

Yesterday Nelson Mandela celebrated his 94th birthday!

Probably not a moment of note to many outside South Africa, but for me it’s a day that always stirs feelings of deep affection, admiration and humble acknowledgement. I have attentively followed and hero - worshipped this man since my very first Free Mandela’ protest concert, where, as a young girl in my teens, yet to discover Christ, I was constantly fired with zeal and spirited outrage as I observed all the brutal injustice in the world.

It was from Madiba that I savoured his worldly wisdom, and was nurtured under the life lessons he exemplified, long before these same truths were then echoed in discovering the greater truth in Christ.
As we look back over nearly a century of life, I celebrate the life of a man whos legacy continues to teach me, long after he's been been set free…

After the joy and privilege of having spent 5 ministry trips there,  and sharing in the fellowship of brothers & sisters in Christ, this blog piece is my small photographic tribute to him, to them, and to the country we love…


June 30, 2012

My Photo Culture: 'For Those HDR Dayze'...

May 21, 2012

My Photo Culture: '...And Dream'...

She walked by the ocean
                  And waited for a star
                                To carry her away

         Feeling so small

         At the bottom of the world

                              Lookin' up to God

Tries to take deep breaths
To smell the salty sea

As it moves 
                over her feet...

The water pulls so strong
           But no one is around
                 And the moon is looking down...             

                                Rosie, come with me
Close your eyes - and dream

The big ships are rolling
                    And lighting up the night

And she calls out,
                                   ... - but they just pass her by

The waves are crashin'
   But not making a sound
     Just mouthing along...


Rosie, come with me 
                                     Close your eyes and dream

                                               Close your eyes and dream...

                                                                        Close your eyes and dream...

* Norah Jones sing's...

March 12, 2012

The Word That Stands For Ever…

In reading through a chapter in Barry Webb’s Commentary on the book of Isaiah, I was once again encouraged, uplifted and deeply comforted as he reminded the reader of these sure and certain truths… 

“The truth is that God's word can be relied upon.
It does not decay and fade away as we do, but stands for ever.

The person who cannot rest his or her whole weight on the word of God can never know peace, for in the last analysis, it can be found nowhere else than in a trusting relationship with the God who made us and rightly claims us as his own.

Reliance on the word of God is not fatalistic or superstitious. It is not trust in something impersonal like the stars or a good luck charm. It is trust in a person who is committed to us and has all the resources necessary to care for us.

It is the word of our God that Isaiah speaks of, a word or message that arises from a relationship. And the truth is that God's word has the same character as God himself. It is as unchanging and reliable as the God who speaks it.”

A voice says, “Cry out.” 

And I said, “What shall I cry?”
“All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.

The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD blows on them.

Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever.”
Isaiah 40:6-8

As it was for Isaiah over two and a half millennia ago, may it also be for me. May I continue to put my unwavering confidence, assurance and lasting hope in the unchanging and enduring word of the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:7-8).