Kittens, Cookies, and Deadly screams

It’s funny how fast life goes. Isn’t it? I mean first you’re five years old sitting in a cul-de-sac watching the older kids ride their bikes dreaming of the time you can do the same. You blink then you’re in 1st grade, then 5th grade, then middle school, and before you know it, you’re graduating. And then somewhere between then and now you find your person. And you start a family. You blink and they’re now starting families of their own. Your life now filled with people, projects, and those darned memories that pop up once in a while and remind us of who we used to be.

I had such a memory recently. Let me say at the outset it’s not my favorite memory. In fact, it is one of my least favorite. And yet here it is, popping up all the same, over and over again. I felt the nudge to write about it and here we are.

Though I warn you ahead of time, if you choose to read on,  the ending is weak.

 This story took place within the first few days to the first week after my husband passed away from cancer at only 49 years old.

When I had  recited “till death do us part” almost 19 years previous, I had no idea that was actually going to happen so soon.

At the time of this story, my best friend, Allan went into the hospital and was gone within four days.

4 days.

 I was 41 with four kids at home and was in complete and utter shock. I mean this couldn’t happen to me, could it?

The shock and grief were so great it was all I could do that first week to just try to keep breathing, and make sure my children did as well.

My family has always been everything to me. Allan and I had our first child together when I was  21. We married when she was one and a half. And later had three more children.

For most of the marriage he worked, and I stayed home with the kids,  though that changed off and on a little bit over the years. He was a blue-collar worker and money was always tight. As one child put it “we never had money to go to on fancy vacations [to that I would add really any vacations] but I always knew you’d love me and that was enough.” Not only were vacations scarce, but so were many extras. That’s why when I made chocolate chip cookies my kids absolutely loved them.

So did Allan. For every time I made the kids some, I secretly made him an extra batch (with walnuts) and he would  hide them so that he would have some to take to work.

I never really knew where he’d put them, never thought about asking. I was just happy that I could make him a treat, he worked so very hard.

That might have been why it hit me so hard.

Like I said it was the first week maybe within the first few days after he died. I remember my daughter and her friend were in my room and I was asked by my youngest son if he could see the kittens who were sequestered in my walk-in closet (the closet door open with a baby gate). The kittens were about to be given away, so I relented.  He was young, so I wanted to keep an eye on him with the kittens.

I remember going into the closet and just sitting on the floor with my back against the wall, watching him play.

I don’t know what made me do it, but something made me look up. I saw the corner of a plastic bag and I immediately knew what it was.

I stood up I grabbed the bag where he had hidden it behind some clothes. I’m not sure how long it had been there. and I’m not sure what it was about seeing this batch of cookies, but what I do remember is the scream that emanated  so from so deep within me, that when it escaped it must it rattled windows within a 10-mile radius.

My daughter and her friend were there in a flash, sitting with me and reassuring me as I continued to scream (btw I am not a screamer usually, so you can imagine everyone’s surprise), helping me out of the closet, and into bed after gently taking the cookies from my hand.

That’s it that’s the memory.

 I cannot tell you what preceded that memory nor what came after. Just the loss, the closet, the scream, and the help.

To be honest for the last week I have felt a nudge, repeatedly,  to write about this memory. But I have not wanted to go back.

It has been 14 years and though I never dated again, and I have healed emotionally and moved on, thinking about it put me back there.

I started out this blog post by saying the ending was weak. That is because I have had no idea why I reacted in the closet like I did.

Why scream over cookies?

Then I realized it was not about cookies at all.

It was about what they represented.

In a house as poor as ours, the cookies were the one thing that I could do special for him. And he would eat them slowly over the next week or so, knowing that he was loved.

The love that I placed into the bag of cookies, made just for him, now had no outlet.

And never would again.

On this side of Heaven.

So, are you like I was?

Are you holding a metaphorical bag of cookies, that now has no home?

Are you screaming, crying, or silently numb, unsure of what to do next?

Has your love lost its receptor?

Without trying to give trite answers, I will say that I understand, completely, and deeply. And my heart aches for the pain you are in.

I am praying that you have friends and family around you, as I did.

I am grateful beyond words for all who walked with my family.

You know who you are. Thank you for all you did.

But I would be more than remiss if I did not thank God for taking me each step of the way through the craziness that surrounded me in the beginning and all the days since.

If you have read this far there is a reason.

God has put on my heart to let you know my story so that you will know that you are not alone, he sees you in your pain of loss, whether that is of a child, partner, or dream.

You are loved!

I pray that you feel that love wash over you as you read these words.

You might not believe in God,

I get it I used to be the same way.

But I have seen Gods hand in my life repeatedly,

and felt his love way too many times to deny him.

I pray that you give him a shot to show you who he is.

Allan didn’t believe in God for most of our marriage.

This changed the last year of his life.

I know that he is in heaven now.

And that I will see him again one day.

And when I do see him again , I sure do hope that some way, somehow, I will be holding  a bag of chocolate chip walnut cookies.

Blessed are…

Blessed are those who hear the word of God and Keep it.

Luke 11:28

Sometimes when we are reading the word of God and are tempted to skip “that verse” or “that entire passage” because it stings a little, we need to remind ourselves that trusting God is not always about trusting him to do what we want him to do for us or a loved one.

Sometimes it is about trusting him enough to help us do what he is calling us to do.

What if walking on water wasn’t the point of the story… What if it was….

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

-Luke 8:22–25, ESV

When I was reading Luke 8:22–25, this morning, two verses stood out:

  1. “They were filling with water and were in danger” (v23).
  2. “Where is your faith” (v25).

It is interesting how you can read the same passage many times, and never notice a particular verse. And then suddenly it will jump out at you, like you’ve never seen it before.

I have read Luke 8:22–25 many times. I have also listened to it preached about, watched a movie depicting it, and sang a song about it. I have also almost, as I talk about below, read a book about it. And yet, I don’t ever remember seeing or hearing the words “they were in danger.”

My impression was always that even though they saw the storm they were never in any real danger because Jesus was in the boat. But it says, “they were filling with water and were in danger.” I don’t know about you, but even thinking about the word sends my heart, and mind racing.

But there’s Jesus sleeping. The exact opposite of what you would think somebody would do when a boat is filling with water.

Why was he doing this? Warren B Wiersbe answers this question, before asking another, Jesus certainly knew that the storm was coming, yet He went to sleep in the ship. This fact alone should have encouraged the disciples not to be afraid. What was their problem? [1]

Usually the teachings about this passage focuses on the actions of the disciples. They were afraid. They went to wake Jesus. They didn’t get out of the boat.  

But let’s think about what Mr. Wiersbe said, Jesus certainly knew the storm was coming, and he went to sleep in this ship.

Jesus knew the storm was coming and he knew what their response would be, but that did not cause him to lose any sleep.

I remember hearing about a popular book, written about this passage, titled If you want to walk on water you’ve got to get out of the boat. I loved the title, and immediately wanted to buy it. Though somehow, I never got around to it.

In thinking about this passage today I’m starting to wonder if walking on water is the point of the story.

I hear a few intakes of breaths… but just go with me on this.

They were the disciples of Jesus, the one who slept in the face of danger. They were the disciples of Jesus, who himself, said of them, “It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher” (Matthew 10:25).

They were to be like Jesus, but in the face of danger they forgot.

But what if they didn’t?

 Just imagine how impactful the story would have been if instead of trying to do something about their problem, they kept their gaze on Jesus? What about if instead of coming to him in a panic, yelling at him, they went to him and stood at his feat and remembered who He was?

Jesus was sleeping and, I contend, so were they. In all their panic they were asleep to the truth of who they were with.

What was their problem? Warren says it is,

The same problem God’s people face today: we know the Word of God, but we do not believe it when we face the tests of life. It is one thing to learn the truth and quite something else to live it. “Where is your faith?” is still the key question. Are we trusting God’s promises, or are we trusting ourselves or our circumstances?[2]

 Is this world scary sometimes?

Yes!

Are we in danger of having the waters rise above our heads at times?

Most definitely!

We don’t need to worry that we are going to drown.   

But we don’t need to yell at Jesus to wake up.

Neither did the disciples.

I truly believe that if they would have come to Jesus and waited on him, instead of yelling at him, when he did wake, and they finally turned around, they would have seen that the storm, and danger had passed.

Keep your eyes on Jesus,

who both began and finished

this race we’re in.

Study how he did it.

Because he never lost sight

of where he was headed…

-Hebrews 12:2–3

The Message

If you are now facing danger and are yelling at God to wake up and help you

God is saying to you….

Dear Sweet Child of Mine

I see you. and I see the full situation that you are in. I am in control, and I will not let you drown. keep your eyes fixed on me and not your problem. Bring to me all of your concern and your worries. and then look at me, continue to really look at me, and trust that I will be calming the storm around you as you do so. I love you and I will not let you down. You are loved.

Peace be unto you.


[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1992), 166.


[2] Ibid.

What Mary and Elizabeth can teach us about receiving a calling from God

PARIS, FRANCE – JANUARY 07: Visitation of the Virgin Mary, stained glass windows in the Saint Laurent Church, Paris, France on January 07, 2018.

After Jesus was conceived, his mother  Mary “…went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah,”[1] to stay with her cousin Elizabeth who she just had been told was 6 months pregnant.  This is significant. But more about this later. Let’s first look at Elizabeth.

She spent almost her entire married life, as a baren woman. This means that her “life would have been particularly difficult, as barrenness was usually believed to be the fault of the woman.”[2] This is not true as exemplified in how the author of Luke describes her and her husband “… they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.”[3] This all changed “ when her husband was “an old man”[4] and she was “advanced in years,”[5] and the Archangel Gabriel came to visit John (like he would visit Mary 6 months later).

He came to tell him “… “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord…”[6]

What an overwhelming joy Elizabeth must have felt when she realized that her dream had come true.  While most people would have shared the news far and wide, letting people know that they weren’t to be looked down upon anymore. Because they were pregnant, Elizabeth did the opposite. As it says in Luke “for five months she kept herself hidden…”[7]

Now back to Mary, who came to visit Elizabeth right after she herself became pregnant. And then stayed there the entire three months that Elizabeth had left of her pregnancy.

I believe that Mary and Elizabeth’s actions can teach us something about being called by God.

  • Callings have no age limit.

Mary it’s very young and Elizabeth very old. No one is outside the range of being call by God.

  • Callings are given to us from God

Mary had not previously asked for a baby, but Elizabeth had. Yet, they were both were happy about their call to motherhood.

  • Callings need to be protected

Elizabeth was used to being looked down upon before her pregnancy. So, she wisely decided the best thing to do would be to hide herself away in the early months.

This makes a lot of sense because if she made a lot of noise about being pregnant before she even started showing, I’m sure she would have faced a lot of ridicule and/or a lot of people telling her that the pregnancy wasn’t going to last. This negativity could have caused her distress, which might have made her lose her baby.

Mary left her community and went to Elizabeth where she found joy and could gain daily encouragement in the fact that Elizabeth was a living breathing example that “Nothing will be impossible with God.”

Can you even imagine all that Mary would have gone through had she stayed in her hometown? Becoming pregnant while engaged to another would not have gone over well.

From these two women we can learn that when God gives us a calling, we need to protect it, keeping it hidden until our faith can grow so big that birthing it is the only option.


[1] Luke 1:39 ESV

[2] Brandon Ridley, “Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

[3] Luke 1:6 ESV

[4] Luke 1:18 ESV

[5] Luke 1:18 Esv

[6] Luke 1:13–15, ESV

[7] Luke 1:24, ESV