DON’T LET YOUR MEMORIES BE SAD—FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE
This is the time of year that some people feel great happiness and others dread. Which one are you? It is very difficult to reflect on life and ponder the memories of loved ones who passed away. Holidays are not the same without the ones you love. Life seems so depressing at times. Yet, you have the ability to pull your mind and heart into a happier place. You have memories of sharing and caring for loved ones who cannot be here to share your life with you anymore. Try it! There are always happy moments you shared with the person or persons who died. Can you make their memory a warm-hearted experience and not dwell on their death? Loved ones can always be appreciated and be with you in spirit much like our Creator who we cannot see, touch, or feel—yet we experience the fire of His love burning fervently in our hearts. And His joy gives us strength. We have never seen God, yet He is very real to us. We can’t live without Him, right?
There is nothing that should stop a healthy spiritual connection to a deceased loved one. You can do this by living by their words of wisdom to guide you through the day, laughing at something funny they did, and celebrating events you always loved sharing with them. I always live by the wise remarks and sayings of my father who died thirty-six years ago. I believe you give your loved ones honor when you are happy, and dishonor when you are sad. They would never want their passing to disrupt your life or make you unhappy. Find acceptance and peace in their passing. During the holidays, hang an extra Christmas bulb on your tree for them. Make their favorite dish for Christmas dinner. Visit favorite places you went to together. Play music you both loved. Keep living a life of good memories in your heart. Everything doesn’t have to stop. They didn’t mean for you to be depressed. It was time for them to make the journey into eternity. We all will make that journey.
Remember, it is what we do to make the world a better place that counts. Hopefully you leave behind a good reputation and a positive impression on others—just as your loved one did.
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal.
Love leaves a memory no one can steal.
Read a Book/Write a Book
One of the amazing things I learn at book signings is how so many people want to write a book as opposed to reading a book. Most think it is a monumental task to write a book or even read a book. Our younger generations need to be motivated to get involved in writing and reading more. I believe books written by millennial folks can spurn new interest in reading, as well as help the older generation understand and explore their new ideas and learn what means most to younger folks.
I am very impressed when I see young children attending book signings and I’m even more impressed when I see them writing and selling their own books. Families should encourage children to write books. Children are welcomed at all book signings. For them, it’s a good venue for them to get information and share an event with the grownups. Children meet the authors and want to know, “What made you write a book?” It’s an interesting and different experience for them. Unlike going to the library, there is interactive excitement and interesting conversations going on at a signing.
What I like most about book signings is that I am the subject, a real person you can see, touch, and talk to. Aside from autographing my book, people take pictures with me and ask questions that may not be answered in the book. Book signings can be very informative and valuable because they bring back the art of reading from books instead of surfing through bits and pieces obtained from the Internet. I think our children need to be reintroduced to reading books and do less Internet surfing. Nothing can take the place of a book. At my last signing, a forward-thinking mother at my book signing told me she requires her children read three books a month. I hope others do not let the art of reading slip away like so many other things have.
Write a book and leave a lasting impression on someone’s life. Read a book and receive a lasting impression from someone else.
SPREAD THE GOOD ON HEAVY AND THE GRIEF ON THIN
I don’t keep secrets from my readers.
When people pick up Grain of Hope, I watch them pick up my life, read my secrets, live with my family, and examine my heart. They feel sad when I am sad, cry when I cry. In the end they are happy for me. They fall in love with the awkward young couple and share the challenges of every new birth. They grow up with me from teenager to girl to woman. They embrace my children as their own, understand my pain, and connect with my struggle. They rejoice in my laughter and are happy with my happiness. They feel the power of the journey. The exercise of emotions develops us into stronger and greater people. We identify with each other because somewhere in everyone’s life is a difficult journey too.
When I go to a book signing I always hope a lot of people will be there. That is encouraging to me. However, I learned the forum that is most enjoyable is when my audience shares their life experience with me. We all need to share our lives more often and more readily. It can’t hurt you to share good or bad experiences. It will most likely help you. We are all humans and there is nothing wrong with us letting each other know it. I believe God made us for each other.
Most of my readers prefer small intimate groups; they open up more and leave the room more encouraged and energized to write their own stories. Larger groups tend to ask me personal questions more often, rather than sharing their stories in front of a group of people. Still, all seem to trust me with some very secret details about their lives. I hope my comments to them give them some comfort and warmth in their hearts. I care about people. I know from experience how important caring is. Grain of Hope touches many nerves of the human experience. The book acts as a teaching tool and demonstrates how a whole family is impacted by a crisis. It helps families recognize how pain spreads throughout a family. Just as joy and happiness is contagious, unfortunately so is pain and sorrow.
Joy: My Cup Runneth Over
During my book signing events for Grain of Hope, I have made two significant observations: people are vessels and people hold pain. They may have bright shining smiles, but sometimes they have no joy in their hearts. The smile is not real or everlasting without the joy. The Bible teaches us that the “joy of the Lord is our strength.” And it is. Pain, grief, sorrow, and even loneliness amongst a few dark emotions are similar to filling your vessel with an eight-ounce glass—or maybe even a twenty-four-ounce glass—of bitter vinegar. Wouldn’t you rather have a cold glass of water or your favorite beverage?
Well, that is what dark emotions are—a tall glass of vinegar. If your glass is full to the brim with vinegar, then it cannot accommodate water or anything better. The vinegar must be emptied out before you can refill the glass with something you can drink. Vinegar and water cannot share the same glass or same vessel. Don’t drink the vinegar! Let God pour you a fresh glass of cold water.
Most hurt folks already drank the vinegar. If you have bitterness in you, it is never too late to be rid of it. God can overflow your vessel with His everlasting stream of living water until it replaces all that nasty bitterness. Allow Him to saturate you with His joy until all the dark emotions are gone.
Talking About Death
There is a certain aura or taboo lingering over the topic of death like a dark cloud. I believe one reason it seems taboo is because death is an unsolved mystery. It is a scary ghost creeping in and out of life. It certainly is not a topic to bring up at a social event. No one wants to die. We are hardwired to fight to live and avoid death at all costs. In our minds, life is better than death no matter what condition our lives are in. I hope we find out in the end that we are wrong.
What happens when we take our last breath? Is there a heaven, or worse, a hell? Or, do we just die? I have never visited either, so I can’t be absolutely, positively sure they exist. I will say that my spiritual belief and what I embrace resolves my doubts of what is going to happen to me and others who embrace the same belief. However, we do not all believe the same.
Death is not a well-researched course that is taught in school. Parents do not speak on the subject either. I believe we think if we don’t think about death or talk about it we can somehow prevent it from happening to us. Talking about death is not a lure; death will come to all sooner or later.
It is time to invite conversation about death. We all know no one lives forever, so why wait until the end of life? The end is too late. Death is a reason for preparation. Understanding death is just as important as understanding birth and life. We teach and share stories on the latter two.
I have closely experienced death in the passing of four children and my husband. I define death in two ways. First, the taking of life, and second, simply dying of natural causes. Quite naturally, the taking of life by unexpected illness, accident, suicide or murder, and even sudden death is most shocking. There is no emotional preparation for these deaths, just pure shock and hysteria. Dying of expected causes appears more tranquil and natural and in many circumstances, more accepting. People tend to hold up better and be more emotionally prepared when they anticipate death, especially when it ends severe suffering. It is very difficult to watch a loved one endure painful and debilitating effects from an illness such as cancer. Death can be welcomed. Many times, dying of natural causes allows loved ones to say goodbye, unlike sudden death.
All in all, death is final; there is definitely no coming back. Can death be made easier to bear? That requires an individual answer. Let’s start the conversation.
Don't Let Your Thoughts Fool You
No one person can destroy the dreams and hopes of another. It may seem like doom and gloom, but what you believe makes the real difference. Hope always finds the good in the bad. Hope must be directed in the right direction. If we dwell on defeat and hopelessness, then that is what we will get. On the other hand, if we believe in winning and hope then that is what we will get. Hope is one path, hopelessness the opposite path.
There is a fifty-fifty chance that things will work out positively or work out negatively—the choice is individual. Nothing has more power than the power of hope or the power of hopelessness. They both impact our lives for the good or for the bad. If we believe problems will never change, they won’t. If we believe problems will be resolved, they will. The answer is no further than our thoughts and beliefs. Good ideas have changed the world—the lack of them stagnates a country.
The human experience follows the path of belief. What do you believe? Hope is water to a wilted flower; hopelessness is draught. Even though days seem weary, hope says they are bright.
As a man thinks, so it is. Think big!