Monday, December 28, 2009
It is so hard to believe that two years have already gone by since our last Christmas with Renee. The first picture was taken at Rockefeller Center on Christmas Eve 2007. That is me with my three beautiful daughters. (Click on it for a better view.) The next picture was taken on the second floor deck of our vacation rental home in Barbados - Christmas 2oo9.
We were going to do a cruise with the family in 2007. That is something Renee really wanted to do, as well as Alayna who both had not been on a cruise. Renee was going to be in the bridal party of a very dear friend who was getting married in the DR and then join us for the cruise starting the day after the 20th of December. After the cruise to the Bahamas we were planning to stay over in Florida at what used to be our company's condo for Christmas. The cruise and flights were booked in the beginning of October. We were really looking forward to this. We wanted so much to believe that Renee was healed, but we had no guarantee that she would not relapse.
Then at the end of October all those plans crashed. Renee had relapsed. Back to MSKCC and more chemo. Renee did not get out of the hospital till just before Christmas. Renee didn't talk about it very much, because it was too hard for her to take, that she could not be at her friend's wedding and it was such a huge disappointment that we could not go on that family cruise.
Then on the 20th of December, which is Kara's birthday, we had the horribly shocking experience of finding out that the family business partnership was no more. It was absolutely excruciating.
And then Renee died...February 26...that huge tsunami blow to our family, creating this huge hole that will always be there, that we are all trying to cope with, each in our own way. Please continue to pray for our family.
I am so glad that we could all go on this trip to Barbados, not a cruise, I think that would have been too painful. Justin managed to get off from work and I think it was very important for us to spend this time together for healing.
I was feeling so overwhelmed with sorrow about doing this trip without Renee, thinking about that family vacation we had planned two years ago that never happened. Ray, Alayna and Kara still went on the cruise and then we had some dear friends who volunteered to take the extra room for which we could not get a refund. They were sent by God to be a support to Ray after that devastating blow he had received the day before the cruise. I don't know what he would have done if they had not been there.
We did have a very special Christmas with Renee in NYC that year except Justin couldn't come. That was the worst Christmas for him.
So the first night of our trip, God gave me a very special dream of Renee which helped me to not feel quite so overwhelmed with sorrow. I did find places and time to be alone to shred some tears. And on Christmas day as the choir at the church we attended, sang such a beautiful rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus accompanied by a steel orchestra, the tears started flowing as I thought of Renee worshiping in heaven, singing the Hallelujah Chorus with all the angels and all the redeemed. I can't even imagine how beautiful that must be! And the tears came again later when I read an article by Joni E. Tada about Christmas and heaven from the book, Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus, after we had eaten our family's traditional Christmas breakfast of cheese blintzes with strawberry topping.
It was important to us to do some of our traditional family Christmas things, and yes, you don't need a white Christmas, to make it feel like Christmas! All we really need for the "Christmas spirit" is to worship the One whose birthday we are celebrating.
I found the following poem and it describes my dream very well.
WHEN TOMORROW STARTS WITHOUT ME
When tomorrow starts without me,
And I'm not there to see,
If the sun should rise and find your eyes
All filled with tears for me;
I wish so much you wouldn't cry
The way you did today,
While thinking of the many things,
We didn't get to say.
I know how much you love me,
As much as I love you,
And each time that you think of me,
I know you'll miss me too;
But when tomorrow starts without me,
Please try to understand,
That an angel came and called my name,
And took me by the hand,
And said my place was ready,
In heaven far above,
And that I'd have to leave behind
All those I dearly love.
But as I turned to walk away,
A tear fell from my eye
For all my life, I'd always thought,
I didn't want to die.
I had so much to live for,
So much left yet to do,
It almost seemed impossible
That I was leaving you.
I thought of all the yesterdays,
The good ones and the bad,
I thought of all the love we shared,
And all the fun we had.
If I could relive yesterday,
Just even for a while,
I'd say good-bye and kiss you
And maybe see you smile.
But then I fully realized,
That this could never be,
For emptiness and memories,
Would take the place of me.
And when I thought of worldly things,
I might miss come tomorrow,
I thought of you, and when I did,
My heart was filled with sorrow.
But when I walked through heaven's gates,
I felt so much at home.
When God looked down and smiled at me,
From His great golden throne,
He said, "This is eternity,
And all I've promised you.
Today your life on earth is past,
But here life starts anew.
I promise no tomorrow,
But today will always last,
And since each day's the same way
There's no longing for the past.
You have been so faithful,
So trusting and so true.
Though there were times you did some things
You knew you shouldn't do.
But you have been forgiven
And now at last you're free.
So won't you come and take my hand
And share my life with me?"
So when tomorrow starts without me,
Don't think we're far apart,
For every time you think of me,
I'm right here, in your heart.
Friday, December 04, 2009
Trees on Both Sides of the River
1 -2 Now he brought me back to the entrance to the Temple. I saw water pouring out from under the Temple porch to the east (the Temple faced east). The water poured from the south side of the Temple, south of the altar. He then took me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the gate complex on the east. The water was gushing from under the south front of the Temple.
3 -5 He walked to the east with a measuring tape and measured off fifteen hundred feet, leading me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another fifteen hundred feet, leading me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another fifteen hundred feet, leading me through water waist-deep. He measured off another fifteen hundred feet. By now it was a river over my head, water to swim in, water no one could possibly walk through.
6 -7 He said, "Son of man, have you had a good look?"
Then he took me back to the riverbank. While sitting on the bank, I noticed a lot of trees on both sides of the river.
8 -10 He told me, "This water flows east, descends to the Arabah and then into the sea, the sea of stagnant waters. When it empties into those waters, the sea will become fresh. Wherever the river flows, life will flourish—great schools of fish—because the river is turning the salt sea into fresh water. Where the river flows, life abounds. Fishermen will stand shoulder to shoulder along the shore from En-gedi all the way north to En-eglaim, casting their nets. The sea will teem with fish of all kinds, like the fish of the Great Mediterranean.
11 "The swamps and marshes won't become fresh. They'll stay salty.
12 "But the river itself, on both banks, will grow fruit trees of all kinds. Their leaves won't wither, the fruit won't fail. Every month they'll bear fresh fruit because the river from the Sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing."
These verses are from Ezekiel 47 (The Message). I had been ministered to in such a deep way by The River song by Brian Doerksen the last two days and now today I read this story in Ezekiel about a river that will change the stagnant water of the sea into fresh water. And wherever the river flows life will flourish, life will abound. And on its banks will grow fruit trees of all kinds. Such a beautiful picture of what Jesus can do for us!
"God's power can transform us us no matter how lifeless or corrupt we may be. Even when we feel messed up and beyond hope, his power can heal us."
Thursday, December 03, 2009
I bought Steven Curtis Chapman's new CD "beauty will rise" yesterday and I just finished listening to it. A few weeks ago, one night when I couldn't sleep, I listened to some of his songs on YouTube and the story of how their daughter died. All the songs in this new album came out of that experience. Heaven is the Face is a really beautiful one. They all are. At least to me.
Jesus Will Meet You There
Spring is Coming
I Will Trust You
God Is It True,
Just Have To Wait
Beauty Will Rise
I don't know which is my favorite. I would like to share some of the lyrics. Maybe next time.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
It is the place-
where everything lasts forever,
where everything that is best remains,
where everything good is celebrated,
where light fills every space,
where love fills every heart,
where worship fills every breath,
where praise never stops,
where pain never enters,
where joys never cease.
- Roy Lessin