Tag Archives: grief

Guest Post–The Road To Our New Normal by DiAne N. Gates

We are the object of attention—until the day after the funeral. That’s when everyone’s life returns to normal. Everyone else’s life, that is.

But not ours.

After our twenty-eight-year-old daughter suddenly died of a hemorrhagic stroke, we were left on the outside looking in. We humans want to fit in and we’re miserable when we don’t. And in the aftermath of grief we didn’t belong. Anywhere. We felt like we’d been stuffed in a sack, shaken up and dumped out. Forever changed.

There’s good news and bad news about grief. The bad news? We will never be the same again. The good news? Although we didn’t know it, we were on the way to our new normal.

But that’s a long trip.

The days and the months, perhaps years, creep by and we would often long for the way things used to be. Sometimes I chose to isolate or hide behind closed doors so others couldn’t see my pain. Or I’d zoom here and there, filling life with any and everything. Pretending I was okay. Trying to not think, because thinking hurt.

Family and friends preferred the hyper-active me. Because they wanted their old friend back. But though I tried, the old me was gone. Forever.

Death brings us face-to-face with a life-changing reality: Life in this world is brief and death is final.

Things of this world fill our lives, our relationships, even our worship. Most of us have lived as though this is all there is. And in this age of want-more, get-more, we have tethered ourselves to the here-and-now.

Until someone we love dies.

Our gears were stripped and we came to a screeching halt. We were backed in a corner and forced to decide whether we really believed what we said we believed all these years. Could we look beyond the immediate to the eternal? And that’s a major cross-road for each one of us traveling this road called grief. It’s the intersection of a street called Earthly Delusions with the rough and still-under-construction detour named New Normal.

After Michelle’s death, I wrapped myself in robes of self-righteousness and parroted, “Oh, I know she’s with God and everything is fine. I’m okay. Really. Why no, I’m not angry. With God? Don’t be silly.”

And for two years I walked that I’m okay—you’re okay road ‘til one evening a family dispute raked the scab of the lie off my hypocritical words and I bled rage. A glass full of iced tea flew from my hand and splattered against the wall and I heard my voice scream, “You could have stopped this, God. But You didn’t.”

Ah. There it was. I told Him I didn’t understand and I didn’t like what He had done. But in the deathly silence that followed I had to confess to God, I was angry. Like He didn’t know.

And you know what? God didn’t send a lightning bolt to strike me dead. He didn’t turn His holy back and walk away. He didn’t condemn me.

Instead He opened His arms of love and I crawled into His lap and sobbed. And He comforted me like a loving father comforts his child after the temper tantrum subsides and the child is remorseful.

Because of His truth and my repentance, those moments produced my first glimpse of hope and joy in two years. How? The light of God’s truth shoos away the darkness, it illuminates and cleanses the place where anger and bitterness have thrived. Then the power of His Spirit moves into the open spaces and begins to teach us the lessons, up to now, we’ve refused to learn.

In the following months I learned those first lessons, and my attitude changed. I was convicted of the self-righteous things I had said and the proud ways I had acted in the past. And as I acknowledged my own needs, compassion for others filled my previously cold, indifferent heart.

God brought people into my life who were also experiencing the ravages of grief. I could sympathize with the emotions their losses perpetrated. And I was able to comfort them, because God had comforted me. I saw God work in all of our lives and my emotions were refreshed.

Through a series of unusual circumstances God brought me to GriefShare. Then He opened the door for me to lead a support group. And my new normal became a work in progress.

Did the pain go away? No. But I learned that joy and pain can co-exist in my heart. 

I believe grief’s pain is the roto-rooter God uses to increase our heart’s capacity for the well-spring of joy. Day by day, I chose to trust God to lead me forward into this river of new life. Day by day joy became the key to my endurance. And it still carries me forward, day by day.

When our happiness is rooted in people and things that perish, grief becomes our identity. But when the tap root of our heart’s joy is anchored in Jesus Christ, He carries us safely through the storms and tragedies of life. And we grow and blossom when and where He sets us down to walk along the shores of our new normal.

“The wilderness and the desert will be glad, and the Arabah will rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it will blossom profusely and rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, Take courage, fear not.  . . . But the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return, and come with joyful shouting to Zion, with everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 35:1-4a, 9b-10 NAS).

Where are the roots of your joy planted today?

PRESCRIPTION: Go to www.griefshare.org and click on Find A Group. Fill in your zip code and select a group near you. Make plans to attend and let God work that new normal in your life too.

Roped Cover

BLURB

Thirteen-year-old Crissy Crosby chases a dream to live up to her parents’ rodeo legacy. But the rodeo championship is two months away and problems beyond her ability to solve stack and teeter like a game of Tumbling-Towers. Meanwhile rival Jodie Lea and her father, Ed Fairgate, contrive to swipe the silver buckles from Crissy’s grasp any way they can. Prejudice, anger, and dark secrets simmer in a pot of family feuds destined to boil over in a tragic nightmare at the rodeo. Will Crissy develop courage and faith to overcome the consequences of her temper? Will her dreams of buckles and titles become reality? Or will the character-building adversities of her life quash her dreams forever?

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EXCERPT

WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE

I raced to the bus stop the next morning, threw my books on the ground, and grabbed Chun’s arm. “I’m gonna ride Mama’s horse in the rodeo.” The words tumbled off my tongue.

“Star?” Chun’s voice barely squeaked. He blinked and his eyes exploded into enormous circles.

The school bus rounded the corner. I grabbed my books off the ground and gave him a nod. “Yep.”

Chun followed me up the bus steps, leaned close, and whispered, “You are crazy.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. But I’m still gonna do it.” I headed for the back seat, plopped next to the window, and stared up at Chun.

He squeezed into the seat next to me and studied my face for a moment. “Are you not scared?”

I blinked and gulped. “Goodness, no.” The voice inside me screamed liar.

Chun shook his head. “You are crazy.”

The thud of my heart beat in my ears. “Well, maybe a little nervous.” Nervous didn’t even begin to cover this pounding. Maybe Chun was right. Color me crazy.

DiAne Gates 

Texas writer, DiAne Gates, illustrates, photographs, and writes for children and YA, as well as serious non-fiction for adults.

DiAne works as a freelance artist and has written and photographed for the East Texas Rodeo Association magazine, which gave birth to the western rodeo adventure series, released by Prism Book Group in August of 2015. ROPED–Available at Amazon.com.  The second book in this series, TWISTED, will be released by Prism Book Group, April 7, 2017.

ROPED had the honor of being selected as a finalist for the Grace Awards this year. And just this past week ROPED has also made the finals for the Christian Literary Henry Awards. Winners will be announced December 2, 2016.

Wife, mother, and Mimi, whose passion is to share those hard life lessons God allows. Lessons she hopes will leap from the page into your heart.

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Guest Release–Nobody’s Baby by Carol Burnside

 

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BLURB:

She was the incubator, nothing more  until the parents died tragically. Now she’s having Nobody’s Baby.

For Kate, surrogacy seems like a great way to get tuition for her education. After putting her life on hold to raise and educate her two brothers, she’s desperate for freedom and a college degree that will secure her future. Weeks from realizing her dreams, a freak accident threatens everything.

Adopted into the Hawthorne family, Rio swore he’d never pass along the legacy of abuse from his father. Inheriting the Hawthorne heir forces him to become a parent. Convincing Kate to teach him infant care was easy. Proving his love isn’t her prison may be impossible.

EXCERPT:

Rio couldn’t figure Kate out. At first he’d thought her greedy, but she lived modestly and he saw no evidence of extravagance in her life. He would’ve thought she’d be happy to be pampered for awhile. Instead, she was fiercely independent and acted like they were punishing her.

He’d carried her into the house, glad the reporters were absent for once and not here as witnesses, and deposited her on her bed with the extra pillow elevating her feet. Following her instructions, he’d found her suitcase and opened it beside her, then proceeded to fetch the various items she called for. Surely she had enough stuff in that bag to last her a month of Sundays by now. “Is that everything?”

“Ah, no.” Kate’s gaze darted around the room, and he could swear her skin was pinker.

“Just point me in the right direction. What do you need?”

Her gaze bounced off him and wandered again. “Um … underwear.”

“Oh.” He stared at his feet, his mind racing for alternatives to her moving from the bed.

“I can get them. It won’t take but a second.”

“No way. Just watching you hobbling to the bathroom hurt me.” Hell. It was bad enough having to carrying her, feeling her soft breasts pressed against his chest, inhaling the feminine scent that was part soap, part shampoo, part essence of Kate. It had done strange things to his insides that he still hadn’t fully recovered from. He didn’t need to know what kind of things she wore closest to her soft, fragrant skin. “Tell me which drawer. I’ll bring it to you.”

“Good idea.” She beamed at him. “The top middle one in the dresser.”

Rio slid it out and off the track before his gaze dropped to its contents. Oh, man. He’d been in Africa too long, been without a woman way too long when the mere sight of bras and panties in a drawer made him imagine what they’d look like on a woman eight months pregnant. Never thought he’d see the day, but had to admit the mental picture wasn’t an unattractive one when the woman was Kate.

She cleared her throat, jolting Rio into realizing he’d been staring at the bits of silky scraps and lace. He shrugged, refusing to apologize for being male, and broke the silence with the first thing that came to mind. “You’re ankles are looking less painful.”

“See? I told you I just needed to put them up for a few minutes and they’d be fine. There’s no need for me to leave here.”

He sat the drawer beside her. “Whoa, now. I didn’t say they were fine, just better than before. Mom will have a fit if I don’t bring you back home with me.”

“But you don’t want me there any more than I want to go. Surely you can convince her this isn’t necessary.”

“I never said you weren’t welcome at Hawthorne House, and it is necessary. You can’t stay off your feet if you’re constantly having to get up for drinks and food and …” He forgot the last of his sentence when Kate’s chin wobbled and her eyes grew damp.

Damn. Her eyes had filled in the limo, and he’d had to fight back the same urge to fold his arms around her.

Before he could figure out the proper course of action, she bounced her fists off the mattress. “Augh. This is ridiculous. Women have babies all the time without going on bed rest and having people hovering over them. I’m not a hothouse flower and am perfectly capable of taking care of myself.” She drew in a shuddery breath and released it though pursed lips, her eyes beseeching him to understand.

Rio had seen the same look of frustration recently, when a famous football player had been felled by heat stroke and had to adjust his safari plans around his health. Accustomed to being at the top of his game, he’d been a wounded bear for the duration of the trip. Kate was a runner, active and athletic. She’d already adjusted her life to provide James and Allie with the child they so craved. Cutting back on the most basic of activities had to be difficult.

“Under ordinary circumstances, I’m sure you manage just fine,” he assured her. “This situation is anything but. Your body is giving off warning signs. You need to heed them, and I can help. It’s my responsibility.” The weight of it hung on his shoulders, thick and ropelike, but the more time he spent with Kate, the less heavy it became. Maybe he was getting used to his fate.

Kate studied his face, then nodded. Blinking rapidly, she looked away and reached into the drawer only to withdraw empty fingers. “Don’t mind me. It’s not that I’m not grateful. It’s just that no one has offered to take care of me in a really long time. Losing control takes some getting used to.”

“I get that. The last few days I’ve felt like someone jerked a rug from under my feet, and I can’t get my balance.” He felt especially off-kilter around Kate. Unfortunately, he couldn’t avoid her.

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C burnside

CAROL BURNSIDE: SIZZLING ROMANCE WITH HEART AND HUMOR

Carol is an award-winning author of contemporary sizzling romances, often with a generous dose of southern charm. She enjoys a second-chance-at-love story with her husband of over thirty years.

Writing as Annie Rayburn, she produces soft sci-fi and lite paranormal erotic romances.

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Carol blogs on her website at www.CarolBurnside.com. Connect with her via: Facebook / Twitter / Newsletter / Goodreads / Pinterest / Google+ / Tsu