Nineteen Years and Still Angry

It’s been over nineteen years since my son was killed and I have had to personally work through more layers of grief than I can count. I have had to make peace on many levels within myself and with my Lord. However, today when another grieving Mom asked for others to share if their child had been murdered, I instantly felt that fury surface once again.

Before some jump to the conclusion that this exists because of a lack of forgiveness on my part, allow me to squelch such thoughts at the onset.

The young man who killed my son was a drunk driver. It was St. Pat’s Day, a day when many indulge and then foolishly get behind the wheel of a vehicle. In my case, this young man was my son’s best friend and played a guitar in my son’s band. He also lived in our neighborhood and  had visited our home on numerous occasions. My son also would take him to Church meetings. Though this young man never asked for forgiveness, I let go of harboring feelings against him at some point on this long journey. After he served three years in prison, he was then deported back to Columbia. My eldest and I tried to intervene in this deportation, but this young man decided that he wanted to leave. I later learned through the grapevine that he became an English teacher. Recalling this, my anger boils because my son desired to be a teacher/missionary. Learning that this young man chose this vocation made me feel as if he had stolen my son’s life twice. It is far worse than rubbing salt in a gaping wound.

I know my Lord does not condemn me for these feelings of anger.

Psalms 7:11

“God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.”

God is good; God is love. God is also angry with the wicked every day. God does not cease to be good, nor cease to be Love, when He is angry at the wicked. Just as we are capable of being sorrowful while simultaneously having the Joy of the Lord, these different ’emotions’ do not contradict one another nor eradicate one another. Those that abide in a realm of the either/or, the black or white, have never walked in the ‘gray’. But the valley of the shadow of death is gray. We who grieve travel a path of duplicity, but not in a deceptive manner. We daily walk in two worlds: the one others can see, and another which we share with few. Part of us resides on planet earth, while our heart is elsewhere with our child. Over time, we learn to balance the two and ‘switch hats’ on a dime. Practical matters, responsibilities, work, our attentiveness for the living, etc., demand of us our presence here. But left on our own, we drift into another world on another plane. It takes time and practice to flip the ‘switch’ when it is necessary to do so.

At the onset of this journey, many of us have felt that the men with the white coats would come knocking any day to take us away. We bounce back and forth often uncontrollably and with good reason. Learning to walk this path of grief is complicated. However, with time, we do learn to walk this tightrope successfully…most of the time. If you’re fairly new on this journey, please be assured that you are not going crazy…you are grieving. There is nothing more devastating than burying one’s child. With time, you will find a balance.

I can hold nothing against this young man while simultaneously being furious with his actions. I can have what appear to many as opposing emotions simultaneously. I wept at my youngest son’s wedding for the loss of what was, while rejoicing for his new life of which he was about to embark. I can laugh at jokes while visiting with family and friends, while mourning the loss of my son’s presence. I am not being duplicitous in the negative sense by living in two worlds. I have learned to ‘be in this world but not part of it’. Billy Graham once stated the following:

Christians are like the gulf stream, which is in the ocean and yet not part of it. This mysterious current defies the mighty Atlantic, ignores its tides, and flows steadily upon its course. Its color is different, being a deeper blue. Its temperature is different, being warmer. Its direction is different, being from south to north. It is in the ocean, and yet it is not part of it.

I believe this applies not only to Christians, but also to the Bereaved. Though we may feel like a fish out of water at the onset, eventually we do jump back into the water and learn once again how to swim. But nothing will ever be quite the same as it once was. This is our ‘new normal’.

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Facing Death: The Rubber Meets the Road

Following Bereaved Mother’s Day and the traditional Mother’s Day, I took a week to ‘unplug’ from my site: ‘Hope in Jesus for the Bereaved Parent’. It was the 1st time I had done such a thing since it came into existence twenty-three months ago. I needed a break. My knuckles and hands ached so from the arthritis, my eyes were blurred from staring at the LED lights on my laptop, and mostly my heart ached from all of the grief. I wanted to make sure I made it through these two most difficult days before taking this break. I also made numerous annual doctor appointments for this week to ‘get them out of the way’. However, things did not go as expected. It began with my annual blood test preceding my physical.

I spent the next few days seeing my Dermatologist, Gynecologist, Rheumatologist, and even my Dentist. All went as well as to be expected, but then I saw my General Practitioner who explained to me the results of the lab work. I was then informed that I am in Stage 3B of chronic kidney disease. I have spent this past week contacting two kidney foundations and requesting materials, reading articles on line, watching and mulling through videos, in an attempt to educate myself and seeking out my options. I want to be informed and have as much understanding as possible of what I may be facing. I even contacted someone whose son had personally walked this walk and eventually had a kidney transplant. She spoke with her son, who had also been a nurse, and she told me that my ‘numbers’ are not good…at all. It is a bit of an anomaly that I would find myself with this particular disease. It would seem from what I have researched that such is often the result of diabetes, high blood pressure, being overweight, smoking, drinking alcohol, etc., …none of which apply to me. So, I have concluded that the only thing I can do is change my diet. I am limiting my consumption of red meat, increasing my intake of water, greatly increasing my intake of ‘live’ food such as salads with only olive oil & vinegar, adding fruit daily and some fish. Essentially, I need to detox my body. Kidney disease seems to be the result of a build-up of toxins and the inability for the kidneys to properly emit them. I have also ceased the intake of all supplements. I have been taking a number of supplements for years believing I was doing a healthy thing for my body. I have now come to learn that there are some that can cause harm to the kidneys. The good news is that my urinalysis returned normal which supposedly signifies no kidney damage. So although they are not functioning as they should, so far they are still ‘healthy’. I am also limiting what few medications I have to take for pain, and to minimize the muscle spasms caused by my damaged spine (but please don’t tell my doc). There is not much more I can do on my end that I know of so I have placed it all into God’s Hands. I even fasted a day which I found to be a big mistake with this condition. Fasting causes fat cells to go into action when they think the body is starving. In my situation, when this occurred, toxins which are stored in these cells were also released. I became very ill for two days, as a result. Someone had told me to not even fast unless God leads you to do so. Apparently, I was trying to handle this on my own.

What the final results will be of this little experiment of mine will not be known for two to three months when I return for more lab work. The next step will be for an ultrasound of my kidneys. My GP wants to then refer me to a Nephrologist and consider Dialysis which, after reading some of the possible side effects, I’ve already ruled out as an option. I have also left the city to spend this time at my little fishing camp in the woods, a far healthier environment and much less stressful.

We talk about death all of the time in the grief community. I have written about God’s Blessed Hope in my Book: ‘Gifts from the Ashes’, as well as, in numerous articles since it was published. This, however, is different; this is when the ‘rubber meets the road’. I find myself staring the real possibility of my own death squarely in the face. Who will win this fight remains the unknown. I have also learned what has to be the loneliest moment one can experience, at least for myself. It is that moment when I am asked at every doctor’s or medical facility: “Do you have a contact number?”…and for that moment, I can’t think of one to give them. God’s number is unlisted.

I refer to this as ‘where the rubber meets the road’ because this, I am finding, is the ultimate test of all I have ever believed, shared, preached, and witnessed to throughout my life. I am having to take an in depth personal inventory in order to put my house in order. Most of the practical matters I had addressed after my son’s demise. I already purchased a plot next to his and all of the costs of final arrangements that are basic have been paid. The legal paperwork has also been previously accomplished. So, with such matters out of the way, it really comes down to ‘me’, and ‘am I ready’? So often we, Bereaved Parents, speak of how we want to leave this earth and be reunited with our children. We look forward to that glorious day; our heart aches for that day. That day for me has possibly arrived. I say possibly because one never knows when God may intervene. If He doesn’t, and if my little experiment is unsuccessful, the possibility then becomes a reality. Time will tell. While I wait, I am using the time to enjoy all the beautiful things God has created. The birds and all of their different personalities make me smile. The blue-jays are the bullies, the finches are such gentle unaggressive ones, the woodpeckers seem to be the least ‘brightest tools in the shed’, the hummingbirds are delightful but very territorial, the phoebes are friendly, and the eagles are quite majestic which always bring me Hope and a renewed strength. Yes, things which often go unnoticed are predominant at the moment. The different colors of my beautiful irises bring delight and peace to my soul, as well. I find myself questioning: “Do I really want to leave this place just yet?”

In the process of that week in which I was first informed of this disease, other things occurred which have given me the assurance that God has not forsaken me. When I have a string of doctor appointments, I have gotten into the habit of staying at a small motel which is in close proximity of the facilities I have to visit. It gives me a reduced rate for being a patient. It also helps me to stay off line and to spend more ‘alone time’ with my Lord. I also always ask for the same room to which I have become accustomed to and with which I am comfortable. I don’t take my Bible because there is a Gideon’s Bible I go to for comfort in the drawer of the bedside table.

The first night, I was having a bit of a meltdown even before I received ‘the news’. So, I pulled the Bible out of the drawer and in it I discovered something another sojourner had left in the pages. I noticed a few verses circled, but didn’t read them at this time. Instead, I simply removed the article and placed a napkin at that page so I could return to it at a later time to read what had been circled. The article left by a sister in the Lord, who went by the name of ‘Aunt B’, is a little plastic woven flat object with a pocket. In it are three little pieces of paper and a plastic woven cross. One of the papers has a prayer to pray to invite Jesus into your heart. It asks the question: “How can I be certain I will go to Heaven when I die?” The second is ‘a prayer for guidance’. The third is a little poem titled: ‘The Cross in my Pocket’. I wept. I thanked God for Aunt B and her obedience to Him in leaving such a thing and prayed He would bless her abundantly. I was reminded of how Elijah felt so utterly alone as he hid in a cave and how God informed him of the 7,000 others who were out there refusing to take a knee to Baal. She had also drawn a little heart at the top of all three inserts and had written the word: ‘smile’ in each. I have always said since I was young: “Smile. Life’s too short not to”. At the end of the following day, I received the results of the lab work. I have placed Aunt B’s gift in my wallet.

The next day, I drove over to see a neighbor I had only spoken to briefly by phone a few weeks previously. When our children were young, we would always see one another at the school bus stop as we sent our children on their way for the day, and we would chat. We had never become ‘coffee clutchers’, yet we always had one another’s back if for some reason one of us could not make it to the bus stop to drive our children to drop them off or pick them up. It was simply an understanding we had with one another without discussion. Though our visit was somewhat brief as we stood in her driveway, some very monumental things occurred. She started talking about my Roddy. She had no hesitation in doing so as some do because of his demise. She talked about him with such ease as if he had never died. I cannot express how much this blessed my weary heart. She then spoke of her mom’s demise. She said that her Mom had been ‘out of it’ for some time and then one day she suddenly sat straight up in bed and proclaimed: “I can see Dad!” She then laid back down, once again ‘out of it’ and uncommunicable. Two or three days after that she peacefully passed away. My neighbor confidently and assuredly stated: “Oh, I believe!” There was nothing lackadaisical in her words. We hugged three times in that short visit and agreed with one another that we had both certainly ‘paid our dues’. I asked about her husband who had a stroke one year after my son’s demise. My friend was suddenly placed in the position in which she became the breadwinner of their household, raising her two boys essentially alone, and also becoming a caretaker for her husband who she now said is beginning to say some words after eighteen very long years of silence.

On my last night at the motel, I was reminded to pull out that Gideon Bible again in which I had marked that page with the placement of that napkin. It was obvious that this Bible is rarely read because of the newness and stiffness of the pages. I wanted to see what ‘Aunt B’ had circled. To my surprise, she had not circled anything…I had done so on a previous visit. I was feeling as if I had become pen pals with this sister in the Lord and we were secretly passing notes. She had opened the Bible to the one page in which I had circled a couple of verses. The odds of her finding that one page are too many to count. It was the passage in 2 Kings 20.

1 In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.’ ”

Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

It then goes on to say:

And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David.” ’ ”

Hezekiah then asks for a confirming sign from the Lord as a type of fleece before the Lord as Gideon, Abraham, and others had done. When I arrived at my camp, I went directly to my neighbor’s because they collect all of my mail for me in my absence. In the eighteen years I have known her, she has never mentioned my son whom she never met. Yet, this day she did. She asked about the origin of his name and she did it in such a way that it was as if she had known him. So, when no one ever mentions my son after these nineteen years except for his siblings from time to time, two dear ladies in just a couple of days had. Such does not go unnoticed by me.

I do not know what the results will be in a few months when I am re-tested. But, what I do know is that God is, and will be, with me every step of the way. What I do know is that this time of testing is causing me to take account of my life and place my house in order. I have attempted to contact a few people in order to make sure that, as far as possible, I am at peace with them. I have a new appreciation and gratefulness for God’s beautiful creation of life. I called a woman I have known for eighteen years who is dying of cancer. I was able to tell her that I thought she is a good person, and to tell her she has always been kind to me and thanked her for being so. I told her I hope she is at peace to which she calmly and assuredly stated: “I am.” I said to her that too often things go unsaid and they shouldn’t. I have also looked up what it is like to die of kidney disease when dialysis is not chosen as a viable option and though not pleasant, it is often followed by a few weeks in a coma before passing on. I also read that a person in such a coma state can still hear what is being said around them so I have asked my eldest, if it comes to this, to please read to me Scripture during such a time. There are far worse ways to go so I thanked the Lord if this is His chosen path for me to travel Home.

For those who feel led to do so, please keep me in your prayers. My love to all and my gratitude for all those who have walked alongside of me in this valley of grief. (((HUGS)))

I carry a cross in my pocket, A simple reminder to me, Of the fact, that I am a Christian, I matter where I may be.  -  Cross Poem By Verna Thomas

(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
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Unimaginable Pain

This has been an utterly pain-wrenching day for me. Truly, anyone who thinks that a Bereaved Parent ever gets over losing a child simply has no clue.

I awoke with that feeling that an elephant was standing on my chest. I’m not heartbroken, my heart is completely shattered. It lays in a million pieces on the floor. There is no super-glue that can possibly hold it together even if it were possible to locate all of the pieces…which it is not. I went to bed last night thinking of all of the things I would like to accomplish today and nothing…nada…has been done. For five hours I have laid in bed and visited grief sites on line. The heaviness weighs as an endless black cloud hovering above. The silence is deafening. No one in my life has told me that they remember my son.

But I do.

I am flooded with memories of his smiles and tears. I can still hear him laugh; I can still hear him joking and making all around him smile.

Yes, I know I will one day see him again. The waiting, though, is soooo long! I grow impatient waiting in a doctor’s office for more than twenty minutes. Yet, I have been waiting to see my son again for nineteen years and two months.


My head hurts, my body hurts, my soul hurts!

Once again, I need to remind myself to breathe.

How many tears can one body make???

I miss my baby soooo much!

Another day, another hour, another moment and I will pull myself together. I will go on with whatever the daily tasks need to be done, but not now…not this moment. For approximately 230 months…over 6900 days…more than 165,600 hours…I have lived with this pain! I am not wallowing in self-pity! I am grieving! I carry this heartache wherever I go. It’s a part of whatever I do. Never do I forget. Yes, on most days after so many years, it all gets pushed back in the recesses of my mind. But it is only a glance away. It is always a mere breath beneath the surface.

I cling to God’s promises that I shall be comforted. I trust Him when he says that all of my tears He collects in a bottle, and that He will one day completely wipe them all away. I know I will rejoice with unspeakable joy beyond anyone’s imagination.

But, for the moment, I weep…I wail.

For the moment, I will long to see my son smiling back at me.

For the moment, I will bemoan and bewail.

For the moment, I shall make my complaint known.

Psalm 142:2-4 (NKJV)

I pour out my complaint before Him;
I declare before Him my trouble.

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
Then You knew my path.
In the way in which I walk
They have secretly set a snare for me.
Look on my right hand and see,
For there is no one who acknowledges me;
Refuge has failed me;
No one cares for my soul.

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(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
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I am the author of this piece and using it without my written permission is against copyright law. Registration# TX 8-383-134



Mother’s Day

Just a brief word regarding the fast approaching day in which we honor Moms.

For us who are bereaved of our children, Mother’s Day can be a very lonely and painful day. If we are barren, we struggle with what others rejoice in and often find ourselves on the outside looking in. If one of our children is deceased and we have surviving children who wish to celebrate and honor us, we feel torn in two. If our only child has gone before us, the ‘missing’ is excruciatingly painful. No matter the circumstances, such a day will open Pandora’s Box of memories or the lack thereof. It is almost a no-win day.

The Sunday before Mother’s Day has been set aside by many as Bereaved Mother’s Day. I am personally somewhat split in two over such a day. On the negative side, it feels as if some simply want to ‘get it over with’ and then move on to the ‘real’ Mother’s Day. On the positive side, I appreciate such a day specifically set aside to honor the bereaved Mom because it acknowledges that she is still a Mom.

Whatever one chooses to do on either day should be left up to the Mom. It’s her day. If she desires to simply get away, please help her do so. If she desires to spend the day at the cemetery, please don’t tell her she ‘should’ do this or that. If she simply wants to spend the day in bed under the covers, please don’t try and ‘fix’ her. If she wants to partake in any celebrations, please rally around her and understand that there may be moments in which the tears flow uncontrollably and/if she chooses to withdraw.

Please support and kindly extend love and tenderness to all Moms, whether their child remains here on earth or not. Bottom line is that none of us would exist without having had a Mom.

International Bereaved Mother’s Day 2018 is observed on Sunday, May 6, 2018

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(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
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I am the author of this piece and using it without my written permission is against copyright law. Registration# TX 8-383-134

Let’s Take a Closer Look (3)

We left off in (2) with Acts 16:34…moving on.

In Acts 16:35-36, the magistrates have now ordered the keeper of the prison to set the prisoners free. One would think that Paul and the other prisoners would be jumping up for joy at such a prospect. After all, they had been living in indescribable squalor. They were not imprisoned in modern day facilities. They had been beaten, flogged, bound in chains, living in absolute filth. They had been stripped naked and given no medical treatment for their bloody wounds. The stench had to be unbearable as there was no indoor plumbing, and one can easily assume that disease was rampant. What food may have been provided I doubt was desirable, and very likely shared with rodents.

Yet, when they were told they could leave and be set free, Paul gives an unexpected response: “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.” (vs. 37)

Bravo! Paul.

He was not about to allow their cruel and dastardly deeds to be brushed under the rug. Indeed, he wanted a light shone upon their evil deeds.

Ephesians 5:11-13

11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.

Paul was a champion of ‘breaking the silence’.

But what about the verse that states: ‘love covers a multitude of sins’? (1 Pet. 4:8) Is Paul being unloving? Unforgiving? Vengeful? Sadly, many take this Scripture out of context and use it mostly unintentionally with victims of abuse furthering adding to their burden. In Mathew 18, the church is given instructions that are not often adhered to today in modern day churches:

15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” Paul was certainly not slack to dole out discipline as seen in his comments to Timothy:

18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Tim. 1) He gives similar instructions to the church at Corinth: In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Cor. 5). He explains his reasoning in: 12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” (Though I’d like to digress and explore when it is and is not appropriate to judge, I shall leave that for another time.) 

WOW! Twice we see Paul turning folks over to Satan. Most would cringe at such a thought. I’m certain that Paul took no pleasure in such tasks, yet he responsibly did what needed to be done.

Paul did not ‘pull any punches’. Were such instructions unloving? To the contrary, Paul is looking at the big picture of things. He is not simply attempting to ‘keep the peace’ or win over followers with some namby-pamby rhetoric that makes folks ‘feel good’. He wasn’t a proponent of Kumbaya (To engage in a show of unity and harmony with one’s opponents or enemies-urban dictionary). He understood that ‘A little leaven leavens the whole lump.’ (Gal. 5:9). His motive was consistent and very loving for he was concerned about the souls in light of eternity: ‘that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus’ (1 Cor. 5:5).

Paul was a very learned man who loved the Lord Jesus Christ with great humility. He had a ‘thundering velvet hand’ as Dan Fogelberg sings about in his song: ‘Leader of the Band’. He exposed the deeds of darkness and did not hesitate to take any disciplinary action when it was deemed necessary to do so. His motive was always for the greater good and always done in love: ‘Let all that you do be done in love.‘ (1 Cor. 16:14). Paul later gives further instructions regarding the one he disciplined in 1 Cor. 5 by following up in 2 Cor. 2: ‘But if any one has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure — not to put it too severely — to you all. For such a one this punishment by the majority is enough; so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.’ (2 Corinthians 2:5-8 RSV).

Such a wonderful balanced example he puts forth here. He disciplines not too little and not too much. We would be wise to follow his example.

(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
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Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’:

Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))

I am the author of this piece and using it without my written permission is against copyright law. Registration# TX 8-383-134






(Excerpt from my Book: ‘Gifts from the Ashes’)


So often, we reach points along this journey of grief in which we feel stagnant and ‘stuck’ at a certain point.

If you are at one of these layover points, you are processing, digesting, and quietly within working through another layer in this grieving process.

It certainly is not beneficial if we have others around us who are attempting to push us to ‘move on’. It’s equally not beneficial if we are comparing ourselves in the way in which we are grieving, with that of how another is grieving their loss.

Comparing ourselves and our personal grief journey with that of another’s is unwise (See 2 Cor. 10:12).

I have often drawn the analogy that our grief is like labor pains. Just as we experienced physical labor pains in giving physical birth to our child, we now have labor pains in our soul. We are longing for the time when we are reunited with our child. Labor pains differ for everyone. I gave birth to 4 and none of those experiences were alike.

I am currently ‘counting the days’ of my son’s approaching Birthday….seven more days. I have mentioned before that the only way I was able to function that 1st birthday without him, was to bring to remembrance the day he was born. What an absolutely beautiful and joy-filled day that was!

When in physical labor, because I went through natural childbirth, I had to remember to ‘breathe’. I even had a ‘coach’ at my side reminding me to ‘breathe’. It helped me to take my focus off of the present anguish of the pain, and re-focus on my ‘job’ of working through it while becoming more focused on the final outcome. The times between the contractions is when we may feel ‘stuck’. But, we are not. The process will continue and eventually we will give birth to a time of absolute Joy.

Thinking on these things gives me a greater understanding of:

Hebrews 12:
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

When I look unto Jesus…the author and finisher of my Faith, Who focused on that Joy that was set before Him which enabled Him to endure the great anguish and excruciating pain of His Cross…despising the shame of it all…and eventually rested eternally receiving His Crown and place of rightful authority and Glory…I understand that I, too, must look ahead to the Joy that awaits me in my Eternal Home.

Romans 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

Truly, all of this is temporal.

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:18).

You are not ‘stuck’. God will see to it that He will complete the process:

Philippians 1:4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

When I was in labor with my 3rd son, the nurse placed me on ‘PIT’. It was an artificial way of hurrying along my labor. As a result, something ruptured within me. I almost died. My son almost died. I temporarily became unconscious. They thought they were losing me. At some point, I awoke to a room full of people yelling at me and calling out my name. During the time I was ‘out’, they had proceeded to mark me all up for a C-Section in order to try and rescue my son. When I did finally ‘come to’, they rushed me into the delivery room and my doctor yanked out my son at only 9 centimeters. Immediately, they grabbed him and had to resuscitate him by sucking out all the blood that had entered into his lungs.

This all happened because of the well-meaning ‘helpful’ nurse that tried to rush the process.

You’re not stuck….and even if you are, So what?

With my 1st full birth of my 1st son, I had gone into labor and was in the hospital. Then at 4 centimeters, the labor stopped. I was ‘stuck’. I knew it and eventually convinced my doctor to release me to go home. Two weeks later, I went back into labor and my son was born.

This grieving process will continue because it is the natural course of things to be. There is a danger in trying to rush it along. Being ‘stuck’ will not prevent the final outcome of what is to be.

Trust Jesus to complete that which He has begun in you. Let Him be your coach.


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Shameless Grief

Many of us in the Grief Community have encountered times in which we have felt as if we have the Bubonic Plague. We have noticed the avoidance by those we once considered to be friends. Perhaps, even family members began to distance themselves from us. As a result, we may begin to question: ‘Why me?’; ‘God, don’t you love me?’; ‘What’s wrong with me?’. This can be especially trying if we are of the belief that if we are good, if we do all the ‘right’ things, we will prosper in this life. At such a time, anger may grip our souls. We tell ourselves that we did everything right, yet tragedy hit anyway. We did everything we believed we were suppose to do, yet… our child died, we became ill with an incurable illness, we were viciously attacked and raped. We may vacillate between feelings of shame, fear, personal degradation and feelings of anger, blaming God, hate. Our countenance drops, our head droops, we feel a physical weight upon our shoulders as we take on a burden of shame.

How do we rise above this unending whirlpool, this relentless cycle of disgrace and debasement?

Guilt says: ‘I did a bad thing’. Shame says: ‘I am a bad person’.

Back in the 80’s when I designed a shame reduction program for a woman’s center, I would often remind folks that God gave us just enough shame to not walk to the store while naked. God is not in the business of shaming people. Tragedy does not strike for the purpose of humiliating us. Shame does have its rightful place, it does belong to bad people. Those who are perpetrators of rape, abuse, murder, etc., rightfully should feel shame. Yet, often times, they do not for such behaviour is often boastful. Those that commit such crimes reject any feelings of shame and, as a result, their shame is often transferred and then lodged in their victim.

Sadly, such feelings of shame for the innocent victims of tragedy are often perpetuated in churches. Folks who have been traumatized by grief will often seek out comfort in their church community, only to be met with some who believe they have brought this tragedy upon themselves. Most assuredly, Job met up with such ‘comforters’. Job’s comforters were convinced that he had done something wrong, something that so angered God, that all his great heartache and loss was the result. They were the first in line to grab a shovel of shame and start piling it upon Job. Thankfully, Job ‘kept the Faith’. Many, however, do not. Often, those who have been subjected to tragedy and great grief, will begin to blame God in order to unload their feelings of shame… a shame that is unfounded. The shame actually belongs to those who boast of their own ‘good-fortune’ in escaping any tragedy in their lives. What they fail to understand is that it ‘rains on the just and the unjust’ (MT. 5:45).

We live in a fallen world. Why some seem to have a very blessed life, while others’ lives seem to be absorbed with misfortune, is unknown. What we do know, if we believe God and not man, is that it does not go unnoticed by Him. He repeatedly promises us in His Word that we shall be comforted (Lam. 3:46-52; PS. 9:9; PS. 46:1; PS. 119:48-52; J. 14:27; MT. 5:4; 2 Cor. 1:3; J. 16:20; PS. 27:13-14; Job 5:11; Heb. 13:5; Rev. 21:4; PS. 119:71; IS. 54:4; IS. 35:3-6; etc.) Is God a liar?

We need to shake off the reproach of shame shoveled upon us by others. We are not less than others because the road we travel is more encumbered. We are not at fault because tragedy came knocking on our door. God is not to blame either. Don’t internalize the judgement of others. Condemnation that others may heap upon us is not from God (J. 3:17; Rom. 8:1-39). There is no shame in suffering.

(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
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Let’s Take a Closer Look (2)

We left off with (1) in Acts 16:6-7. Moving on :).

In Acts 16:9, we read that Paul had a vision of a man pleading with Paul to come to Macedonia to which Paul immediately responded (vs. 10). God still gives His people visions today (Joel 2:28). It is necessary that we always test the spirits as we are admonished to do in 1 John 4:1, but to deny that God still gives His children visions is UN-Biblical. When we jump ahead to Acts 16:16, we see a clear example of what it means to ‘test the spirits’ and to discern.

While in prayer, Paul was confronted with a young woman who was possessed with a spirit of divination and was used by others for financial gain as a fortune-teller. This is important to take note of because many are often swayed by the appeal in the grief community to embrace psychics, which is a similar evil spirit. ‘There shall not be found among you any one that makes his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer (a method of divination through alleged communication with the dead; black art. – For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD.’ (Deut 18:10-12).

Such may appear as ‘an angel of light’. They may actually speak truthful things on the surface, but discernment is essential. Per, there are 5 basic things to be aware of in discernment and testing the spirits:

  1. it is governed by love, for if it is not, it’s worthless (1 Corinthians 13:1-3);
  2. it centers us onto Jesus the Christ and Lord (1 Cor 12:3), and His good news;
  3. it directs us to Scripture, not away from it (Isaiah 8:19, 20);
  4. it builds up the church and its members (Ephesians 4:11-12), giving it power, wisdom, character, boldness, and unity.
  5. it helps create in us a love of righteousness, a heightened sense of sin, and a turning away from known evil.

In vs. 17, we find this young woman making truthful statements: “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” She continued making this statement ‘for many days’. So, this woman was not blatantly lying, she was not acting in a fashion that most would consider ‘evil’, yet when Paul finally became annoyed, he ‘turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.’ (vs. 18). Thankfully, God has blessed His children with such authority in the name of Jesus Christ.


One day when I was in my late 20’s (the early 80’s), my then husband was acting in a manner which was making me uncomfortable. He was not being abusive, but rather acting in a persuasive manner which an on-looker would most likely see no harm. Yet, discernment was setting off those quiet little alarms within my spirit. I had been attending to some menial tasks as he was speaking, but then I suddenly stopped cold in what I had been doing. I turned to him and stated: ‘Spirit of fear’. Suddenly, it was as if my husband had been thrown backwards against the kitchen wall and became glued to it. Any fear of him, or the spirit of fear within him, had no control over me. God had taken over the situation and had moved in His authority calling out and naming the spirit of fear that had been controlling my husband. I was not led to cast it out, as Paul had been with that young woman, but simply to ‘name it’ and shine a light on it. Any time after that, whenever that spirit would once again possess my husband, he would stand with his back against a wall and it became clearly recognizable.

Paul had discerned the spirit of divination in this young woman, cast it out in the authority of Jesus name, and the woman was set free. However, those who were profiting off her fortune-telling, became irate because they now stood to lose their source of income. (vs. 19). They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace, the center of town, and brought them to the existing worldly authorities. Obviously, there were more evil spirits at play. The magistrates then ‘freaked out’ and tore off their clothes, commanded they be beaten, threw them into prison…the ‘inner’ prison, and had their feet fastened in stocks.(vs. 22-24).

The word “stocks,” with us, denotes a machine made of two pieces of timber between which the feet of criminals are placed, and in which they are thus made secure. The account here does not imply necessarily that they were secured precisely in this way, but that they were fastened or secured by the feet, probably by cords, to a piece or beam of wood, so that they could not escape. It is probable that the legs of the prisoners were bound to large pieces of wood which not only encumbered them, but which were so placed as to extend their feet to a considerable distance. In this condition it might be necessary for them to lie on their backs; and if this, as is probable, was on the cold ground, after their severe scourging, their sufferings must have been very great. Yet in the midst of this they sang praises to God. – Barnes’ Notes

By setting that woman free of her demonic possession, an avalanche of evil fell upon Paul and Silas. Upon reading this, my natural man would most likely be deterred from confronting and casting out any such evil spirits. However, these men knew and trusted their Saviour. Paul & Silas began praying and singing Hymns to God, and others were listening. (vs. 25). That’s when God stepped in :). An earthquake suddenly occurred and all the doors of the prison were opened and everyone’s, not just those of Paul & Silas, but everyone’s chains were loosed. (vs. 26). This frightened the ‘keeper of the prison’ so, that he almost killed himself. (vs. 27). But Paul then assured him that although they had been set free from their chains, they made no attempt to escape and were all still there. (vs. 28). That jailer’s soul was saved that night. Not only his, but his entire family believed and were baptized. (vs. 29-34).

Paul & Silas had suffered greatly. Yet, because of their endurance and unwavering Faith, an entire family came to know Jesus the Christ and were thus given eternal life. What happens next is important, however, I will have to continue when led to do so.


(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
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The Cover-Up of the Cover-Up

As a side note, I first want to apologize to folks who have read my articles which have been published by The Mighty for not responding to their comments. I was unable to view them. I have tried to resolve the issue on a few occasions, but without any success. Apparently, I have been unable to view them because of the browser I use. However, though my responses may be delayed, I will periodically use the browser I discovered this evening which allows me access. I am a ‘tech dunce’ and the first to admit it. 🙂

Because I was finally able to read those comments, I realized something new in my grieving process. Over the years, I often wore a mask because it seemed easier than answering questions and feeling I had to explain my grief. What I hadn’t realized is that in doing so, I also began to wear a mask to the ‘man in the mirror’.

I wrote my first brief article in July 2016 after I had set up my Facebook site: ‘Hope in Jesus for the Bereaved Parent’. I then wrote another, then another, and by December I had written my Book. Although I had desired to somehow have my son’s poems published, I never thought that I would one day write a book as the pathway for doing so. Since its publication in February 2017, I have continued to write articles. Writing became a personal ‘therapeutic tool’ for me. Having lived most of my life in silence because of the layers of abuse I have encountered, it is not easy for me to talk with others about things. When a victim of abuse has had multiple threats of more violence if we dare to break the silence, we learn to bury things very deeply within. We learn not to get angry, not to cry, not to expose our abuser. We walk on eggshells and one small crunch could open the gates of hell upon us. We eventually become accustomed to such a life as if it is ‘normal’. In the thesis I had written in Grad School, I drew the analogy of domestic violence and the Stockholm Syndrome. Today, this has become much more known and understood.

My articles were quickly unaccepted by many sites. The moderators objected to my form of expression of my grief. They demanded that I speak directly with others, but I could only do so on rare occasions. I felt once again I was being silenced if I could not conform to their ‘rules’. This resulted in additional wounding for me. Writing as I do afforded me a buffer. If not for this outlet that I simply stumbled upon, I would still be sitting in silence. The very thought of that prison causes the tears to flow even now as I type this. I write and I write and I write because I can’t go back there. I have vented, I have cried, I have wailed in my writings. I have, at times, ripped my soul to shreds in doing so. Removing an outer mask that we wear to the outside is easier than removing the mask within that hides things within ourselves from ourselves.

Though often it has torn me raw to attempt to express this indescribable pain, it has taught me a lot personally about myself. I have often read what I have written in review, and in doing so have discovered another layer that had been hidden by the mask within.

I’d like to encourage others to use whatever God-given talent or ability you have been given. Whether it be writing, painting, singing, photography, making ‘gifs’, etc., don’t waste it. It may seem challenging at the onset, you may run across critics and those who want to control your expression, but don’t give up. Do it as unto the Lord and do it for yourself. We do not heal in silence and suppression. The pain is like a cancer which we must surgically remove, layer by layer. To allow it to fester benefits no one, including yourself. I have often been on the verge of quitting, and there are times I actually have. I’ve shut down my site and yelled at God: “I can’t do this anymore!”. But I sort of made this ‘deal’, this ‘arrangement’, with Him. I had told Him when I began that if only one person seems to be benefiting, I won’t quit. So, whenever I think I have reached that point of no return, sure enough there is always one who tells me that something I have written has somehow benefited them. That is all the fodder I need to continue on.

You, whoever you are, have a gift. All do. Please don’t bury your talent, you’ve been given it for a purpose. Others need what you have to offer. It has been uniquely designed for you and only you can use it in the manner in which it was designed. You will, most likely, encounter resistance and possibly stumble from discouragement. But know that it’s all part of the process. If your desire is to give Glory to God in all that you do, He will be faithful to guide your steps.

Proverbs 3:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

I’m Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

As I, Turn Up The Collar On My
Favourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin’ My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street,
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs
A Summer’s Disregard,
A Broken Bottle Top
And A One Man’s Soul
They Follow Each Other On
The Wind Ya’ Know
‘Cause They Got Nowhere
To Go
That’s Why I Want You To

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change

I’ve Been A Victim Of A Selfish
Kind Of Love
It’s Time That I Realize
That There Are Some With No
Home, Not A Nickel To Loan
Could It Be Really Me,
Pretending That They’re Not

A Widow Deeply Scarred,
Somebody’s Broken Heart
And A Washed-Out Dream
(Washed-Out Dream)
They Follow The Pattern Of
The Wind, Ya’ See
Cause They Got No Place
To Be
That’s Why I’m Starting With

(Michael Jackson)

(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
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I am the author of this piece and using it without my written permission is against copyright law. Registration# TX 8-383-134


The Hollowness of Happiness

A young woman recently said to me: “I am happier in my life than you have ever been in yours”. It was stated to me in a spirit of meanness to taunt me. Though on some level it rang a sound of truth, in essence it had shallow roots. I wept in my solitude, but not for reasons one might think.

In my years of youth, ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ was a commonly heard idiom. It was often countered with yet another idiom: ‘The grass is always greener on the other side’. Both bring to mind the Scripture in 2 Corinthians 10: “12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” 

When this young woman had made this comment to me, it set in motion the ‘wheels’ in my little mind. I began to think back on my life as a whole. Had I ever been truly happy in my life? Most assuredly, on the surface my life has been filled with much abuse and tragedy which I cannot deny. There have most definitely been times when I succumbed to ‘pity parties’, licking my wounds in a shallow pool of self-pity. However, ‘wound licking’ is a natural response to injury. If an animal is wounded, it will lick its wounds to aid healing. Yet, there are some risks involved in them doing so. Wound licking is beneficial, but too much licking can be harmful. In the Gospel of Luke (16:19-31), we find that even the dogs came to lick the sores of Lazarus, the poor beggar.

Luke 16:(ESV)

25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.

Truly, happiness in this life is not all that it is cracked up to be. Even Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, was ‘well acquainted with grief’. He was a ‘man of sorrows’, rejected and despised by others (IS. 53:3). Because of such sorrows, He was held in low esteem by others. I have experienced times in which others have treated me as if I had the Bubonic Plague. The loss of a child will often produce such an experience. Because happiness is often elevated to the status of an idol which some pursue at all costs, the sorrow of such deep grief often causes some to flee. There is an Italian saying: “Stai lontano da me,porti sfortuna” which means ‘get away from me, you’re bad luck’ essentially.

Yet, I have known times in my life of great Joy that transcends any feelings of happiness. Holding my newborn child in my arms for the first time definitely ranks among the highest. As I began to ponder this young woman’s statement, I was reminded of such times. Yes, I have known times of great sorrow that are inexpressible. But I have also known times of great Joy that are equally inexpressible. None compare, however, with those mountain-top moments I have had in the Joy of the Lord. Times when laughter consumed me in His presence uncontrollably. The apostles had such experiences, as well. In Acts 2:13, folks concluded that the Apostles had had too much wine to drink. Even today, those that have had such moments of utter Joy in the Lord are mocked and often condemned as heretics. My only response to such is: “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it”.

Paul had reached a point in his life in which he could boldly proclaim:

“8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3). I believe because of this he was able to ‘rejoice in all things’. Though he suffered numerous beatings, imprisonments, and had a continuous ‘thorn in the flesh”, he simultaneously learned to be content no matter what circumstances he encountered (Phil. 4:11). He stated in Phil. 3:7 “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” Bluntly stated: ‘happiness is not a pissing contest’. Deeming it as such is quite shallow and hollow. Though I still do have my moments in which all Joy eludes me, I have learned to embrace: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21).

John 16: (VOICE)

21-22 In the same way that a woman labors in great pain during childbirth only to forget the intensity of the pain when she holds her child, when I return, your labored grief will also change into a joy that cannot be stolen.

Nehemiah 8:10

10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Another recently said to me that I am a very strong woman. No, not in the least. Left to myself, I have no strength left. What she is seeing is the strength of the Lord which sustains me for my life is hidden in Him. (Col. 3:1-4).

Image result for joy of the lord photo

(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
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