Good Mourning

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4

I’m not going to lie, I can be selfish. So selfish. Sometimes, I just can’t help it. Working from home and spending most of my time here breeds inward focus. And so, not surprisingly, I viewed every word I read last week in context of me. When I found myself in the book of Job and Ecclesiastes, it was for me.

Me, me, me.

However, Friday turned my eyes another direction. And through the gift of God’s Spirit and hindsight, I quickly saw those holy scriptures in reference to someone else. And I comprehended the content wasn’t so much about me after all. No, in the bright light of Saturday mourning, I realize the reading was also for him…

It was for Robert and for his brood. My family.

And for that reason, I offer up the following.

Aunt Margie

I received word about my aunt this past Friday. She was declining rapidly. And like most, I found myself wanting to do something. But what? My answer was food. Comfort food. I could take a bite to eat and so, I made that my plan.

Thus, I brought a few items and went to see Margie. And I think she heard me. Told her I loved her but deep down, I felt like a hypocrite. Because why does it usually take a time like this to draw family together? What about when life is running smooth and fast. Why not then?

And so, I grieved not only what was happening, but loss of a whole other sort. And sadly, my aunt’s spirit left this earthly realm sometime through the night. When I heard the next morning, every thing I’d read came flooding back to me. Yes, deep verses I’d skimmed over came surging to life through the filter of mourning.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11

I swear, I experienced John 14:26 recently. Because the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, came to me. He brought to mind everything He said last week and most poignantly, He reiterated a passage from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes.

I went there a week ago because of our tree that was cut down and uprooted. Unfortunately, we’d planted it too close to our septic system and we needed to address it before it did damage. And Jason tried to save it. Planned to move it, but the root system was so big and his tractor couldn’t do the trick.

That’s what initially sent me to Ecclesiastes 3:1-2. But see, my eyes were fixed on the part about there being a time to plant and a time to uproot. It was important to me, spiritually speaking. And so, my eyes skimmed right over the line preceding it…

There is a time to be born and a time to die.

Lo and behold, my devotional book sent me right back there the next day. Two times within two days, I read those verses. And when a separate source sent me back there again, I still didn’t see what I was supposed to. But today, I do. Every bit of it. See, God knew I’d need those verses. And because I’m a little dense, He had to point it out three times before I got it.

But now that I do, I’m assured there’s a time for everything. A time to be born and a time to die… a time to weep and a time to laugh… a time to mourn and a time to dance. And perhaps most important for today?

Well, maybe it’s the part about a time to keep silent and a time to speak. Because God teaches me there’s a time for both. Perhaps my job, as one who wants to come alongside those who grieve, is to learn which is which.

Thus, I grasp what I’m supposed to…

I’m certain God wants me to learn how to grieve well. He wants me to show good mourning to those who mourn deeply. And because God is God, He shows me how through His word.

Margie and Robert

I guess I shouldn’t be awed that God sent me to the book of Job on Friday morning, but I am. The morning before I received bad news, I was immersed in the suffering of Job, a man who lost everything. When his friends heard, I’m sure they felt like me. What to do? And like me, they made a plan.

Job 2:11 says they made an appointment together to come and to sympathize with him and to comfort him. I see three steps, number one being they came. The word means to go in or enter and that’s just what they did for when they saw Job from afar, they lifted their voices in weeping. They entered into his grief.

When they drew near, they simply sat on the ground with Job and for seven days, and no one spoke a word to him because they could see his pain was very great. And how amazing is that? And how very unlike us today. Because maybe we’ve lost the ability to sit in this manner.

I can only speak for myself, but silence is awkward. And as a people, we’re fixers. I am. I want to go and bring some comfort. I want to make things all better with my pot of comfort. But sometimes, that’s not what’s needed. Sometimes, the pain is so great that nothing will help. And sometimes, the best way to come alongside one who grieves is to just give them our silence.

But more, to be a good mourner, we enter into their pain with them. That’s what Jobs’ friends did. And Friday night, I can’t help but wonder if I skipped that vital step.

Because in all reality, a casserole can’t bring comfort to a broken heart.

It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of every man and the living will take it to heart and solemnly ponder its meaning… Ecclesiastes 7:2

This is how I like to remember my aunt. Oh she was lively. But this wasn’t who I visited Friday. And as I grieved the impending loss, my heart broke for every one within those walls. Because though Margie was still with us, the house I entered was one of mourning. Saturday afternoon, I opened that screen door once more…

And you know, I was surprised to discover there’s a verse about such a home. I confess, though, I find it hard to take in the words offered through Ecclesiastes 7:2. Nonetheless, I find truth. Because indeed, in facing the loss of a loved one, a person cannot help but contemplate their own life and times.

And how ironic that Spring touches the air. I’ve seen robins on the ground and peepers have already peeped. And it all feels so familiar. Because on the cusp of the season that offers hope and new life, we find loss instead. The same happened ten years back. My cousin passed in the Spring followed by another aunt soon after…

Now my father is left with four sisters and it makes me so sad. And thinking about all this, that’s when I finally cried. Alone in my car, I wept aloud.

Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (sharing others’ grief). Romans 12:15

Romans 12 teaches us how to live. There I find instructions for living. We’re admonished to use our gifts. We’re exhorted to live and love. And we’re instructed…. rejoice and weep accordingly. Weep. It means sob, mourn, or lament. And as I prayed this morning for those who grieve, I was halted mid sentence because I remembered such truth…

“Jesus wept.”

This is the shortest verse in the Bible and I had to look it up. Because there I find my example. Jesus showed good mourning, for He came to His friends. But then, when He saw their grief, He wept with them. He entered their pain. Oh, it’s true Jesus brought comfort, but He entered into their grieving first.

He came, He grieved, and He comforted, and this is what God shows me today. More, He wants me to grieve as Jesus did. Because me? I like action. A plan. What can I do?

Thus, in all my pondering, I can’t help but wonder. Can it be in our haste to comfort, we skip this most vital step? Oh, we rush to those who mourn and we’re quick to offer food. But do we know how to enter into grief with them? Do we dare enter their pain? And if we don’t, maybe it’s time we learn to.

Again, I’m speaking for myself here.

I hesitate to share this picture because his suffering is great…

His friends know him as Bobby, but he’s Robert to me. And this man poured into me when I was little. He saw I maybe had a little talent and encouraged me at his table. He’d hand me a pencil and a pad and give prompts… “Draw a fox.” Then he’d praise me for it. And when I joined the Air Force, he wouldn’t let me leave until he grilled me the biggest steak you ever saw. I truly love him.

And because I do, I so want to help. But what, I wonder. See, sausage gravy can only go so far. And because I write, that’s what I’m prompted to do. I offer up a message and send up a prayer. I ask God that those who come near would enter his pain. And if they dare lift their voices, may it be in weeping or prayers. Because see, like Job, he’s had such great loss. Let no one speak a word to him until the time is right…

Because as God reveals, there’s a time for everything under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. There’s a time to cry and mourn. And indeed, there’s a time to speak and a time to remain silent. So that’s my prayer.

Lord Jesus, please send good mourners to my uncle Robert. Those who are led by your spirit and know how and when. Send those who embody what we learn through Your word, through the pages of Job and Ecclesiastes.

And for those who’ve read these words, I ask you to please pray the same. Ask God to send people who without having to say a word, can show good mourning to my uncle Robert.


The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. Job 1:21

In closing, I saw this picture on Facebook yesterday. I think it’s glorious. The love captured there. New life and old. The never ending circle. It causes me to cry. And it makes me think of this verse. Oh, it’s a hard one to swallow, and surprisingly, it was voiced by Job. After he lost everything, this is what he said.

It came to me Saturday morning after hearing about Margie’s passing. Because see, the day before I’d received word of an expected birth. Someone in my sphere was gearing up to have a baby. My thought? While someone’s water is breaking, ushering in new life, another’s heart is breaking, while life recedes.

What a picture this brings.

I told Jason it reminded me of a song by Live called Lightning Crashes. Now, this song is twenty-eight years old and I’ve not heard it on the radio since I was in my early twenties. But don’t you know, it’s exactly what I heard Saturday after leaving my aunt’s house. And though it’s not one I’d typically use in one of my blogs, I think it’s appropriate for this one.

Because after listening to it ten times yesterday, I finally heard what I was supposed to. For over and over, this line is repeated, “I can feel it.”

And I do. I can feel it. I feel their grief. But I think God teaches me this is what good mourners should do. They don’t just go and comfort, they also enter into the house of mourning. They enter into the pain. This is the lesson God wants me to take to heart. And through the book of Job and Ecclesiastes, and an unlikely song, I hear what He’s saying.

And for that, I give thanks.

And like Job, I echo his cry. Blessed be the name of the LORD.

A Corpse Bride

Will the fast I choose be like this:
A day for a person to deny himself,
to bow his head like a reed,
and to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast
and a day acceptable to the Lord? Isaiah 58:5

I just couldn’t sell it… the thousands of words that poured forth from my heart and soul in the Fall of 2011. No, something wasn’t quite right. So I revised the whole thing in the Summer of 2012. I gave it a new title… My True Deliverance. However, the story remained the same. And the truth is the title was a lie. Because my story was a lie. For at that point in my life, I hadn’t been delivered. From anything. The words put forth were false… only what I wanted to be true.

However, my eyes were opened in September of 2012. The frank words of my husband jolted me. “Can you do me a favor? Can you go just one day without telling a lie? Because when you say you’re fine and you’re not, it’s a lie.” This came on the heels of his flowery description of me. An animated corpse. Oh, don’t think too harshly of him. He was just concerned. He wanted his wife back. The one from earlier days. And had he not spoken truth, perhaps I wouldn’t be where I am today. Perhaps I’d still be his corpse bride.


After this lovely conversation with my husband, my eyes were opened wider within days. For I heard a Bible teacher speak. She said He wants us to have our own story. With Him. She talked of riding other people’s coattails. And though I didn’t realize it then, today I know that’s just what I had been doing. Riding the coattails of other people’s faith. Living off other people’s stories. Trying to breathe the breath of resurrected lives all around me. Having no spiritual breath of my own.

Funny thing is I just knew that book was going to get published. The untrue one. It seemed to be His will. Like the very hand of God directed me to write it. And I believe He did. However, I know it to be a stepping stone today. Because the story written over three years ago was the wrong one. It was the story of a good girl who worked hard. And because she did all the right things, something good happened. For God gave her what she desired most… her homeland. The promised land. But the reality is God didn’t bring me home as a reward. No, He brought me home to die. And that first book, my story, proved to lead to my fall.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

I’ve been pondering the story lately. For months actually and just in general. And in watching a few great movies, I realize the best part is the fall. Because if there isn’t a fall, the hero or heroine can’t rise from the ashes. And isn’t that the most hopeful part of someone’s story? Don’t we find resurrected lives to be inspirational? I do. And so, it’s with awe that I find myself on the cusp of Easter today. In this season of my life, as I ponder the story, I find we’re about to celebrate the greatest story. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In a nutshell, this is what my story lacked for so long. My life was missing Easter. My life was missing Him. Thus, my life contained no life. I was a corpse bride. Just as my husband described. And every single day, I died a little more. For I was chasing a dream. Holding to my life. My rights. My glory. I just didn’t know what was causing my death. See, when I came home I thought it to be my triumphant entry. I rode in on my high horse and came back ready to overcome the world. And when I began to write, I just knew it was going to give me the life I so desired. My passion burned within. In truth, it consumed me till there was nothing left. Life snuffed out. Thus, I walked around in sackcloth and ashes not comprehending that’s what I was doing. My demeanor was my mourning robe. A dim spirit shrouded me. Ashes on the ground.


But Jesus? When He made His triumphant entry, He rode into town on a donkey. And He knew what He came to do. For He came to die. He came as a living sacrifice for us. But He knew the truth. That before He could be resurrected into glory, His death was required. Because only by His death, and life, can we hope for the same. This is Easter. This is the greatest story ever told. And until this becomes reality in our own hearts, we remain dead in our tracks. Lifeless. Animated corpses.

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:23-25

God never, ever ceases to amaze me. Over four years ago I thought He was rewarding me for good behavior. That He brought me home as a pat on the back. That was my story. But today I know truth. See, He brought me home to die. Here is where my self-awareness was birthed, and here is where my self-seeking must die. For self-seeking brought nothing but heartache. And spiritual death. It caused me to fall. Hard. Nothing left of me but a heap of ashes on the ground. But today, I choose sacrifice instead. I willingly give my life for the lives of my children. So they may have abundant life. And this act revives me. For I find I’m able to rise from the ashes. Because His word is true… in losing your life, you’ll find it. This is the very thing God brought me home for. Easter becomes real in my heart.

Isn’t the fast I choose:
To break the chains of wickedness,
to untie the ropes of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free,
and to tear off every yoke? Isaiah 58:6

Last week was a week of epiphanies. One having to do with me losing my life in order to gain my life. It had to do with putting my dream on the back-burner while I tended to what’s most important… my children. My family. And I’m good with that. I really am. I realized my need to sacrifice something I greatly desire so that I could be a better mother to them. And a better wife to my husband. Because this dream of mine burns me up. When I hold to it, it causes me to die. A little bit each day. Before I know it, I’m like the walking dead. No life within me. A corpse bride. So, I release it. At least for now. I give it up…

Funny thing is, I find this act coincides with Lent. And Ash Wednesday. Though I’ve never practiced these traditions knowingly, I find I am this year. Unwittingly. This is where God has led me. Through my limited knowledge, I understand Lent to be a time when God’s people sacrifice something for a number of days. Me? I’m led to sacrifice my life. The revelation is heightened by Ash Wednesday… a time when ashes are ceremonially placed on heads of Christians usually accompanied by the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Me? From experience I’ve surely known what it’s like to have ashes in my life. But not just on my head, all over. The whole of me being burned up by overwhelming desire of something greater. But this will prove to be the best part of my story. For from the ashes, I rise. Resurrected life. Easter in my heart. A replica of the greatest story ever told. His. A corpse bride rises from the grave…


He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of our God’s vengeance;
to comfort all who mourn,
to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,
and splendid clothes instead of despair. Isaiah 61:1-3

Funny how God works. Amazing how He puts it all together. See, I began writing my story in 2011. Thing is, my words simply weren’t true. I wrote what I wanted to be. My True Deliverance. But now… deliverance is mine. He delivered me from my tomb. And most recently, He delivers me from myself. For it was my heart that held me captive. And my flesh has been my prison. But He led me to lay down my life. And thus, I find life. And as Easter rises in my heart, I find that I do, too. And in truth, this is the part of my story that’s truly great. Christ. In me. Finally, I don’t have to ride another’s coattails. For I have my own story. In Him. And to me, this is the essence of Easter. From death to life. And till death do us part. A corpse bride no more.

Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7