If I Die…

For my loved ones – warm pie, a family favorite

Someday, maybe after I die, my kids might read through my blog and see this. I want to say here that I love all seven of you more than words can describe, and although I tell and show my love for you all the time, if there is any doubt, here it is in writing.

I also want to say that all the photos I have taken, videos I have made, and writing I have done in journals over the years is no indication of any favoritism. I would hate for any of my kids to feel I didn’t love them equally because there wasn’t as much record of them in one form or the other. Each one of you are tied for first place in my heart.

I am writing this on Friday, August 2, 2019. I will schedule this blog entry to be automatically posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2019.

I set it at 11:11 a.m. That is a special “TIME” of any day, of course, for us.

Why schedule it? Because I am planning to go on a two-night road trip tomorrow (which would be Saturday at the time of this writing) with my oldest daughter as she has an appointment and also wants to buy some things in the city that she can’t find up here. I don’t like to post on the internet about when I will be away, so by the time this publishes, I should already be back home…

Unless the Lord takes me to my forever home.

If I don’t return from my trip, may my remaining children know how dearly I love them. May they seek assurance through studying God’s word to know that faith in Jesus Christ alone is the only way to heaven. I want them to be with me there.

I want everyone who reads this to be there, too. I share the desire of God’s heart, which is that He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Sincerely, with love,
Mom/Steeny Lou

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Sharp pain in right temple

All day, off and on, a sharp pain has stabbed my right temple. It lasts only a second at a time and happens sporadically, several times an hour.

I am so stressed and grieved, the instigating last straw being the loss of my writing in a WordPress draft last night, that I do not feel like myself. It is not like my usual state of depression when things overwhelm me. It is deeply physical this time, very much like grief over loss of a loved one.

I wanted to say this in case I die tonight and the reason is otherwise unknown. A friend or family member might see this and know I had a strange pain in my head, not like the usual pain attacks I get every few weeks.

I took an Aspirin pill within the past hour. I haven’t tried Aspirin in years.

If I die and am therefore unable to say further words directly, I leave this here: please, my family and friends, please, I beg you, read the Bible and seek to know the truth. Please accept Jesus and thereby embark on the same eternal destiny as me. I want to see you there. I love you and do not want you to perish.

Just a flower I saw yesterday

Into Freedom

Some songs hurt too much to hear because someone I love has left their earthly body and gone to be with Jesus, and the song was special to them and to me. Memories fill in the spaces between the lyrics and blend with the sounds of the instruments, reaching out with silken tentacled arms that wrap around my throat and squeeze.

“Into The Mystic” by Van Morrison is at the top of the pain list for reasons of indescribable agony. I love it, but it is playing at a café where I am sitting and it is all I can do not to run outside and cry… yet, I am cemented to my chair with every note cutting into my soul.

I wonder if I am the only one so afflicted by songs heavily drenched with the spirit of someone beloved and missed.

This version by the Zac Brown Band especially tears my heart out. But I am going to be brave and listen, and know in the depths of my heart that I will again see my loved ones who died in Christ, better than before, singing, dancing, pain-free, sin-free, joyously free for eternity!

My Mother’s Hand

My sister’s hand holding our mother’s hand

One year ago to the day, my mom left this world.

I dreamed about her last night. It was as though she had never left. We went swimming together in an indoor pool within a huge log house with lots of windows letting in sunshine through a filter of tall evergreens. Later in the dream, we met up again with plans to return to the pool. Nothing at all crossed my mind to hint she had died. It seemed totally normal.

Man, I love dreams. That was a good one.

Only in the past few days have I begun to go through the boxes of my mom’s stuff that I brought up here last year. The thing that gets me the most is seeing her writing. Her nice, neat, left-handed writing was the same since I was little up until the notes she made during her final week in her old home.

Here is a photo my sister sent to my cell phone a year ago while a few of my kids and I were an hour into the drive on which we embarked after hearing the news of my mom having suffered a massive stroke. My mom was unconscious in a hospital bed as my sister held her hand and took that picture.

That’s the hand that penned letters, words, and thoughts I will always cherish. That’s the hand that raised me. That’s the hand that led me with love.

I didn’t get there in time. My mom passed away a couple hours after that photo was taken.

Some will understand when I say I will see my mom again and things will be better than ever. I look forward to that.

Did Jesus Die On Good Friday?

An unrelated picture of the Thompson River at Spences Bridge, BC

The photo I put in this blog entry has nothing to do with what I’m about to write. It was shot at a place called Spences Bridge, and for the life of me I cannot find out why it is named that. It’s not Spence’s with an apostrophe. It is “Spences”.

Anyway…

For years, I wondered how to mathematically connect Good Friday to Easter Sunday, knowing the Bible says Jesus was crucified and died, and then THREE DAYS later He came back from the dead. I’ve heard explanations, even from followers of Christ, but they did not compute for me.

Here are a few links to help clarify this, for anyone else who may wonder.

First, some Bible verses on the death and resurrection of Christ. They are in the New International Version, but I strongly recommend that if you are going to do word studies to dig deeper, you should use the King James Version, as it is closer to the original languages. Verses on Christ’s death and resurrection

And this one goes into more detail about what was happening for those three days when the followers of Jesus at that time figured He was gone for good: GotQuestions: Where Jesus Was

And, lastly, the page across which I stumbled while reading something else, which prompted me to make this blog post: Did Jesus Die On Good Friday?

Here is an excerpt from that last link:

Jesus did not die on Good Friday. He was crucified on Wednesday afternoon (the day before the High Sabbath of Passover), buried by 6 p.m., in the tomb for Thursday, Friday and Saturday (including Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights), and rose from the dead at or by Saturday evening at 6 p.m. It all fits together perfectly – and makes sense. If we don’t understand it, the problem is with us and with our preconceived traditions/beliefs; not with the text.

Soon, we who have accepted that Jesus Christ is the one and only Savior offered to the world will be with Him face to face. Whatever day of the week that happens on won’t matter to me.

Maranatha!

The Ultimate Repair

This was where I sat on Mother’s Day last year, in the sunshine, overlooking a lake, at the top of a small hill. The best part was that I was talking on the phone to my mom.

Today, the lake is still there. The sun will still shine. The hill I can still climb. But my mother is gone.

That beautiful Mother’s Day was the last time I got to talk to my mom. A week later, as she was walking home from Sunday church meeting, she had a massive stroke.

A woman driving by saw my mom fall and went to help her. My mom told the woman her name and where she lived, and then she lost consciousness.

The woman went to the assisted-living complex where my mom lived and left her number in case there were family members who wanted to talk to her.

I got a call from the complex and received the woman’s number. I called her and she told me about having seen my mom fall and having spoken to her. She said she called an ambulance and waited with her till they arrived. She told me my mom was calm and pleasant – which I know is so characteristic of her.

Hospital staff called to let me know my mom was unconscious. A few of my kids and I started driving the six hours to go see her, but four hours into the trip, my sister messaged to let me know it was too late. So, we got a hotel and went home the next day.

The doctor told me my mom was not in pain, and that she died peacefully, with no struggle. The stroke simply was too major and left her beyond repair.

I look forward to the ultimate repair, where nothing will erode or corrode the perfection given to us by God, free from sin and its effects of slowly – and sometimes more quickly – killing the body.

And I believe I will see my mom again, in her new body, in a better place. That is one moment to which I look forward, as well as to seeing the other believers I miss who have passed on. But even if I didn’t know anyone else who followed Jesus, I trust I will be in the presence of them all, and we’ll all be on the same page.

No more conflict. No more pain. No more of anything that destroys.

Unity, at last, with the focus of our adoration and gratitude flowing toward our Loving Savior.

(See you soon, Mom. You know I’m coming Home, and then we will never again be apart.)

“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be].” (1 Peter 5:10, Amplified Version of the Bible)

[This post started out as a comment here. Thanks, G.W., for encouraging me to use it.]

Death Comes A-Knocking

Death comes knocking on everybody’s door sooner or later. Be prepared to answer with “YES! Jesus Christ already paid the price for me and HALLELUJAH I am going to be with Him forever!”

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

(Romans 10:9, KJV)

Intentionally Incomplete?

“Take you a glass of water

Make it against the law.

See how good the water tastes
When you can’t have any at all”

-Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Bootleg”

. . . . .

How universal is it to desire that which you do not possess?

Is it in every human heart to admire beauty, overtly or covertly, regardless of how much one already has?

Is it an empty space of longing that was allowed with a purpose, ready to be fulfilled in a dimension where jealousy, pain, and offense of all kinds are nonexistent, and peace, joy, and love are rampant?

Is desire a prerequisite to fulfillment that will only come when we are in perfected bodies, not decaying, not breaking, able to handle the weight of holding everything we could want, sinless, selfless, and furthermore having the capacity to enjoy it to the fullest?

Meanwhile, we live in a state of not fully living, and we continue to die.

Hovering…

Too much gravity to fly, yet not enough gravity to be held down.

Swimming in the lusts of our flesh.

Sometimes caving in and regretting, sometimes walking away and regretting, and sometimes feeling temporarily satisfied.

We admire, desire, and crave.

Those eyes, that hair, those arms, that mind, that car, that truck, those shoes, the sun, the heat, houses, land, gadgets, tools, travel, companionship, intimacy…

We steal, we kill, we destroy.

It’s not just me.

I don’t want it to be!

So universal.

We thirst.

And we continue to thirst.

Then, sometimes, when we get what we want, we find that it wasn’t as perfect as it seemed.

Temporary ecstasy amidst temporary pain, not willing to endure the strain.

Almost living, always slowly dying.

Always – intentionally, really – incomplete…

Removed by Music

Do you ever imagine, while driving, that you might die suddenly in a motor vehicle accident, and the loud music to which you were listening is still blaring from the speakers when too-late rescuers find you? Then they look at your phone and review recent track history to see what song was playing when you crashed. That song gets played at your memorial and your loved ones cry.

I envision it occasionally. I did today while driving from my house to the store.

Here I sit in my car, finishing the coffee I brought from home, letting my phone charge a bit before dashing in for groceries, and writing a blog entry.

“More Than A Feeling” by Boston plays on my car’s stereo. I dug that one out to download recently as my teenaged son is learning to play guitar and I thought he might like its intro. He’s always throwing songs my way that move him, and they re-move me as they are mostly songs that originally moved me, too, at his age, and continue in their movement now.

But back to the thought of being removed from this body while music plays. If it had happened on my drive to town today, it would have occurred during one of these tunes:

1. Don’t Come Around Here No More by Tom Petty

2. Put Another Log On The Fire by Tompall Glaser

3. Call Me The Breeze by Lynyrd Skynyrd

4. Travelin’ Shoes by Ruthie Foster

Then I parked and Starman by David Bowie came on. I could have been accidentally or purposely shot during that and have died as happily as during any of the previous songs.

Lady Gaga and some guy just sang “The Shallows” together, and now John Mayer is singing about how someone’s Body’s A Wonderland while his hands do the great things they do to a guitar.

Off I go to brave the grocery store. If I don’t make it out, pick some fine music to play in memory of me and enjoy the rest of your day.

“Did Your Dad Love You?”

(As with my previous blog entry, this one was also originally posted as a note on Facebook.)

My seven-year-old son and I were talking about my dad this morning. That son has never gotten to meet “Grampa John”, though I tried to make it happen.

My son asked me, “Did your dad love you?”

I could only answer with total honesty, “I do not know.”

The question led to my mind playing all kinds of memories involving my dad, for the next few hours. I am pretty sure the answer to my son’s question is “No.” Does that sadden you? For some reason, it doesn’t sadden me. Should it?

One of the usual headaches I get was in the process of intensifying when I got the news of my dad’s death on Friday. It is now Sunday evening and the pain is still here.

Kids talking, stomping around, bickering, and needing varying levels of my help; chores; phone calls; emails; the sounds of the house in general all keep me from giving much time to the thoughts of my dad. Those thoughts barely get to finish their story or cast their feelings upon me. Incomplete processing.

Throughout the day, I jotted down notes as they came to mind, vying for my attention to help me answer the question of my earthly father’s love. Here are some random memories:

When I was 3 or 4 years old, I started playing a simple chord organ by ear. It only had two octaves or so. My dad was so impressed, he wanted to get me a better organ with more notes.

One evening, he took me on the bus to downtown Vancouver. We lived in East Van, so it wasn’t far. In retrospect, I wonder why we didn’t just drive there. Maybe he’d had a few drinks, but he didn’t seem drunk. I was so young, I barely remember it, other than in little snippets. We did get a bigger organ, and my mom still has it.

Then when I was 7 or 8, my parents enrolled me in group piano lessons that took place after school, in the kindergarten room at Queen Victoria Elementary. Miss Salmon, with long Barbie-doll blonde hair, was the teacher. Normally a quiet and reserved person in school, I was amongst a small group of friends and became the piano-class clown, always getting reprimanded, but I learned the piano lessons well enough that I quickly needed more of a keyboard than the one I had.

My dad took me out piano shopping and bought me a lovely second-hand midsize upright. I don’t recall the brand, but it was glossy medium brown and I got a lot of use out if it before trading it for a black baby grand when I was 22.

Another random memory: When I got married at age 24, my dad refused to go to my wedding. He said it was because my mom was there. He did give me lots of gifts, though: practical kitchen items I needed, like Pyrex baking pans and pots, Corelle dishes, etc, plus he gave me a cheque for $2000, telling me to put it in a private account for myself, “in case worst comes to worst”, as he put it.

I misheard my dad, as even I sometimes did, because of his accent, and I replied with, “Oh, no, Dad, I don’t think divorce will ever be an option.”

He clarified, “No, I didn’t say ‘divorce’. I said ‘if worse comes to worst.'”

Little did I know that a dozen years later, it would be all I had on which to live for the first month when worse did come to worst, in the form of divorce, when I left the guy I’d married, who was abusive and controlling.

In my teen years, my dad was very protective of me from boys. He used to warn me not to get involved with them, saying they were trouble, yet his methods were troubling: When I was 14, a boyfriend and his buddies were waiting in their vehicles outside my yard while I went into the house to get something. My dad saw the vehicles, became irate, grabbed a loaded rifle, and chased me with it. He fired a few shots as I ran. The police were called. He told them he was shooting at cats in the yard. (My dad always loved animals so that was a crazy lie.) My dad was arrested, his guns were taken away, and I had to stay at other peoples’ homes for a few days. For decades after that, I had nightmares of my dad chasing me with intent to kill. This past year, I got EMDR therapy to deal with that, among other issues.

The year prior, when I was 13, another frightful occurrence, for which I also recently got therapy, was a time when I had gone to the junior high school’s gym to watch my sister and her friends in their gymnastics club. I came home alone early for some reason. My mom wasn’t home, but my dad was there, drinking.  He launched into accusing me of having been out smoking pot with boys. I had never smoked pot in my life at that point and told him so. He didn’t believe me, and he tried to hit me. I dodged and tried to run, but he was quick and caught me. He easily wrestled me to the ground and started strangling me with his hands. Somehow I managed to break free and ran down the road in my socks. I ran through the path by the tennis courts to the next street and down one more street before daring to slow down and look back.

To my surprise, my dad was nowhere in sight.

I was in front of a house with a “Block Parent” sign in the window. I rang the bell and stood there, out of breath, hoping someone would answer and quickly. A man and woman came to the door, saw my tear-streaked face, messy hair, and dirty socks. They warmly invited me in, where I sat on their couch and told the story of why I was running. They called the police. I was sent away from home for a few days, to stay with my mom’s friend, Beryl Speller.  I can’t remember the order of events after that, but I have vague memories of social workers coming to our home, and of my whole family going to meet with a counselor at RADAT (Richmond Alcohol and Drug Abuse Team).

I didn’t realize alcohol was a problem. It was so much a part of my dad’s life, albeit a part that often made me sad.

One time, when I was about 6 or 7, one of my friends, a daughter of my dad’s drinking buddy, pulled me aside, saying she had to talk to me about something very serious.  Her serious talk was to the effect of, “We saw your dad pouring whiskey into your 7-Up.”

I was confused as to why we were having such a sombre discussion, as it was nothing out of the ordinary for my dad to put a little whiskey in my 7-Up or Canada Dry ginger ale. It wasn’t enough to alter my consciousness in any way. It just changed the taste of the 7-Up, kind of like a bit of vanilla extract in a cup of hot chocolate would do. Now that I am older, of course I know it is unwise for a parent to put whiskey in the beverage of a child, but in my childish innocence, I went with what my dad exemplified to be normal.

After we moved to Tsawwassen, when I was nine, we were closer to my dad’s drinking buddy’s place, a couple blocks away. Many times, as we were leaving their place, my dad was so drunk, I would hover near him on the stairs to make sure he didn’t fall on the way to the car. He’d be getting into the passenger seat of my mom’s old Nova, trying to close the door, while I stuck my hand through the side of the seat to prevent it from slamming on his foot. One time he got so drunk, he didn’t make it out the door, but he fell and broke a hole in that family’s kitchen wall with his head. They called a doctor friend to come see my dad.

The doctor asked my dad, “What’s your name?”

My dad slurred in response, “What’s your name?”

The kids of the family, who were my friends, laughed. I, however, stood there feeling very concerned, knowing my dad was more drunk than usual, and injured to boot.

The doctor continued his questioning, even saying, “Hey, Johnny, what’s your name?”

My dad got all goofy and just repeated the question back to the doctor, “Hey, Johnny, what’s your name?”

I felt disturbed and sad while my friends laughed at “Uncle John”.

Another time, my dad fell at home and hit his head. I heard the crash and ran to him, and his face was already covered in blood. I was so scared, trying to help him stand back up. I called a doctor, and we soon found that it wasn’t a very deep cut. The doctor explained that head wounds can bleed a lot and make them appear worse than they are.

Other times, my dad fell down the 12 stairs to the basement, scaring the crap out of me. I’d run down and help him back up, him swaying so much, we’d nearly fall back down the stairs together.

Oh, the bad memories. I want to have some good memories of my dad. I know they exist, and I hope to share some of them at some point, but right now, the bad ones are hitting harder.

Did my dad love me? I really don’t know. Not that I can do anything about it either way, but the fact that my son asked such a question has me thinking, “I don’t want there to ever be a doubt for my own children that I love them.”

Maybe something I have written here has sparked some memories for you. Since I wrote my last note yesterday about my dad, I’ve received many private messages from friends, sharing their own thoughts and stories, some about my dad, some about their own lives, some cheerful, and some sad. I very much appreciate the communication and invite you to keep it coming.