I Hate Cancer! Remembering Karen Long.

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I will not die but live and will proclaim what the Lord has done.” Psalm 118:17

Cancer sucks

I don’t know any way to sugar coat that comment and make it more “religiously” correct. I just know that cancer has robbed too many of my loved ones of a few more days with their families.

For me, it is more than pink ribbons and races. It’s more than t-shirts, bottles, caps and blankets. It’s not an opportunity to make money in October…it’s a reality that I have seen too often and have experienced with my own Mother.

Today, so many in Orlando mourn the loss of one of the bravest warriors I have ever met. Karen Long was a believer, wife, mother, daughter, sister, police officer, and friend to many. Her smile and happy spirit were infectious. She didn’t let cancer define her and Karen met this disease with a passion for God that she felt carried her through the “valley.”

Yesterday, Karen was victorious over her 8-year illness and crossed from this life into another with Jesus. She was 41 and leaves a husband and two children ages 10 and 12.

It’s not fair.

…and I don’t blame God.

The God I love weeps with us, while He welcomes Karen to glory with open arms of love and grace.

I cling to the words that Karen often said and shared with so many: “One thing I know for sure is that God will not give me one less day on Earth than what He intended. I will not give up, I will fight with all my might and continue to declare my healing!”

Karen is healed. She just isn’t with us on this side of heaven.

And that makes me sad.

Karen’s story:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-officer-karen-long-cancer-dies-20151011-story.html

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Go Rest High on that Mountain.

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I love old cemeteries. I find them peaceful. Death does not scare me.

Near our home in North Carolina there is a small, private cemetery. It holds the remains of soldiers killed during the Civil War.

These three crosses mark the site of soldiers unknown to locals. Their final resting place is marked with a simple cross. Someone took the time to honor them thus and still tend to this small patch of earth.

But it doesn’t matter.

God knows them by heart. He knows their names.

We put great effort into marking our territories which includes our homes, our cars, and our grave plots. But mark your heart. 

Mark it for God.

I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. Isaiah 45:3

Coming For to Carry Me Home

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Today I walked with a childhood friend as we buried her Momma. No matter our age, for many of us, our Mothers are a constant reminder of the purest form of love that we will know. Mothers bind us with their hearts as they bear us in their wombs. They are wonderfully made and graced by God.

I talked so much with my parents who told me that the best way I could honor their memory was to live out a happy life after they were gone. Amazingly, the first thing I found in my father’s wallet after he passed away was a picture of his own Dad who had gone to glory over 70 years ago. For 70 years my Dad had looked at that picture daily. He never forgot.

I know that my friend today will honor her Mother and remember her with love all the rest of her earthly days. I feel the same for my parents. I think we can honor and remember equally and know they wait for us in heaven.

Until that wonderful reunion, I’ll laugh, love, enjoy this life and thank God for every day. That’s the least I can do.

May angels lead you into paradise Gloria Meyerdierks and may God bless Barbara as she grieves her great loss.

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home

I looked over Jordan, and I what did I see
Coming for to carry me home?
A band of angels coming after me
Coming for to carry me home

If you get there before I do
Coming for to carry me home
Tell all my friends I coming too
Coming for to carry me home

I’m sometimes up, I’m sometimes down
Coming for to carry me home
But still my soul feels heavenly bound
Coming for to carry me home

Jesus Paid It All…All To Him I Owe.

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My Dad was always thinking ahead. He apologized on more than one occasion that one day I would come in to wake him and he would be gone and walking with Jesus. While I told him not to stress out about this, I also reminded him that no one knows the time, date or way you are going to cross from this life into eternity.

No one knows the day they will die…except Jesus.

Jesus knew.

Jesus knew the end from the beginning. Like all of us…technically we are born to die. But he knew his death was imminent and was going to be difficult, very difficult.

I cannot even begin to imagine the sheer weight of this knowledge. I can’t imagine how Jesus felt carrying the sins of the world on His shoulders. It is just beyond my ability to comprehend.

Tonight, I will ponder these things and I will prayerfully watch for one hour at my church as part of Maundy Thursday services. One hour. It’s not enough to thank Him for the sacrifice He made for you and for me.

But then again, nothing I do could thank Him enough.

Jesus paid it all,

All to Him I owe;

Sin had left a crimson stain,

He washed it white as snow.

The Walking Dead

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I have wanted to write a book about things NOT to say at a funeral for some time. I have a lot of experience in this area after burying three family members over an 18 month time frame. At the last funeral, I even thought about taking out a notepad to write some of the more memorable words down. It got rather interesting.

I don’t mean to demean anyone who is trying their best to comfort a family in mourning. I was just not prepared for some of the things people said out loud at this time of sorrow. These sweet people meant well but their words of condolence didn’t come out quite right when spoken.

In all honestly, no one wants to hear how the departed golfer is now on the 18th hole in the big course in the sky (actually heard that one) or that your beloved Mom is giving your beloved Dad an earful about how long it took him to get to heaven and join her (yep, heard that one too). Some of these gems are priceless.

But I never said an unkind word to anyone. I understood that they were trying to be of comfort. In truth, there isn’t much you can say at a time of great loss other than “I’m sorry”. This is a sure-fire winner in the condolence department. The loved ones who mourn just want to hear you miss the deceased too and a simple “I’m sorry” becomes sweet soothing words to the sorrowful soul.

Today, I was remembering the death of Lazarus. Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary. In short, this family was very important to him. The sisters sent a message to Jesus about Lazarus’s imminent death but Jesus did not return in time to save their brother. When He finally did return, Martha raced to Jesus and said “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21) Speaking for myself, I’m not sure this would have been the first words out of my mouth to the Son of God.

But Jesus used this time of mourning to perform one of the last of his major miracles (excluding resurrection) and He asked to go to the tomb. Then, inexplicably, Jesus called for the corpse of Lazarus to come out. And Lazarus rose from his grave and walked to Jesus.

Jesus performed many miracles starting with turning water into wine to raising Lazarus from the dead. This was no trick. This was Jesus and He knew the time was coming when He would have to suffer greatly for the sins of the world before He could rise again into glory.

For this – I have had no words.

Ash Wednesday

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

As I sat at church on Wednesday night for Ash Wednesday my eyes were drawn to the large crucifix hanging from the Cathedral ceiling of our Episcopal church. It’s an ugly Jesus. No doubt about it. I have seen a lot of Jesus depictions in paintings, crosses and stained glass windows but this Jesus is just not pretty. I wondered how such a magnificent Cathedral could have such an unflattering image of our Lord. But the more I thought about it – the more I realized that this Jesus wasn’t pretty and that is as it should be. Jesus on the cross was most certainly worse than any of us could even imagine. It was horrific. It was painful and it wasn’t attractive. Jesus died a horrible death for our sins. In this world where we expect all things good – it is truly good to remember the one who loved us so much that he would experience the painful death on a cross. I love Him.

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