Lyn’s birthday gift

28 07 2016

Here is my sketch of our recent vacation. This was at Heyburn State Park, in Idaho, where Lyn and I had been with the kids in previous years.

campsite sketchDo you see that little Weber grill in the foreground? Let me show you what we made on that!    Paella! and it was fantastic!

paellaNotice the date on my sketch (above, lower right). 7/6/16.  That is Lyn’s birthday, and her dad was having surgery that day. So it was an emotional day anyhow, and we were praying throughout the day. I’m not easily moved to tears — although more so since Lyn died — but I couldn’t hold back my emotions when leafing through the sketchbook I saw this last page — a complete surprise:

Lyn's gift“Before Thy throne we daily meet,
As joint petitioners to Thee;
In spirit each the other greet,
And shall again each other see.”

Discovering this quote on her birthday was a priceless gift!

With all the heartache of losing her, I still believe God is good. Things don’t have to make sense to me. I trust that God knows what He is doing, and I will some day understand.

Would you do me a BIG favor? If you don’t mind, leave me a comment, even a simple “thanks.” (or, “take some art classes!”)

Till next time,

If death came reasonably

16 12 2015
If death came reasonably, I suppose the elderly would die in order of age, and the wicked would be taken sooner than the good. If death came reasonably, my dear Lyn would not have died in her prime. We are created to reason, to seek understanding, to unravel and explain. That is why death baffles me. Its timing is unreasonable.
Yet I would not want the responsibility for deciding when death should come to myself or others. I conclude that my best recourse is to revere the God to whom the timing of death is not unreasonable. His sovereignty seems random to me, an unwanted mystery.
Wisdom tells me to be grateful for the good years we had together. Wisdom cautions me against comparing with others. Wisdom reminds me that God is God and I am not. It is His right to seem unreasonable to me. This acknowledgment is my worship. And now that I have told you, it is my witness.

We who silently grieve

13 11 2015


Undesired chores emerge when tending to a loved one’s death. I call to close her cell phone number, and when asked to explain the reason, I speak around the lump in my throat that my wife is deceased. Okay, she says, let me take care of that change for you. She meant no harm by her efficiency.

I go to the bank to remove my wife’s name from an account. The officer asks for my reason. She is deceased, I say. Let me talk to my manager, she replies. I wait in my loneliness. I wait, sensing the emptiness of the chair beside me. The officer returns. We’ll need a death certificate, she announces, meaning no harm.

As I drive home to get the document, tears run down along my face and I wonder what it would cost a bank in lost time for an officer to say she is truly sorry for my loss. To save on expense she could even skip the word “truly.” Just a sorry would help.

But I must be realistic. She can’t know that I weep in bed for the space beside me that now lies empty and cold. She can’t know that I break down and weep at the kitchen sink where my wife once smiled for the joy of feeding her family.

The Facebook friend who praises his wife on their anniversary can’t care that I won’t have any more. Just as the proud engagement stings the woman who longs to get married, or the birth announcement pains the infertile couple that has hoped in vain for a child for years. Grandma’s baby pictures shown so proudly ache in the heart that never held one, or lost one.

I have no moral for this story. I intend no guilt to be felt. In fact, we need glad announcements to counter those that sadden. Perhaps I write for the one who, like me, hurts today. One who, like me, will hurt for a really long time. To you, friend, I say that they mean no harm. Please forgive me if I have said or done insensitive things to you. I am truly sorry for your pain, for your loss. And I mean the “truly.”

My wife glimpsed heaven

13 11 2015

Fifteen years ago our family of four returned to the USA after serving in Kenya as missionaries for 10 years. Toward the end of our time in Africa, Lyn got very sick, such that we had to get a special approval from the doctor to travel. After the eight hour flight from Nairobi to Gatwick, Lyn was completely spent and I delayed our onward flight to San Francisco by 24 hours to give Lyn a chance to sleep in the airport annex hotel.

During the night, Lyn slept fitfully. When she woke, she shared with me and our daughters that she had experienced a glimpse of a softly lit passageway beyond which she saw warmth, peace and safety. She was so weak and tired that she asked God to go through the door, but He told her it was not time. We were amazed by this, and thankful to God. We continued our journey, making it to SF on a mere thread of life remaining.

There is a lot to share about what God did in the upcoming months, but suffice it to say for now that Lyn was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and for two years fought the cancer with the help of a bone marrow transplant from her sister Cindy.

I give this as a tribute to God’s kindness, for this experience often encouraged us during Lyn’s final fight for life. She was never afraid of what lay beyond death; her only concern was what it would be like to get there! Her vision was also an encouragement to others, as she assured those who were dying or fearful of it, that in the Lord there is only joy in His presence.

I share this also as background for something that happened today. I am currently tending to my mother who seems to be a short while away from going through that portal of glory for herself. As a part of the hospice service, a chaplain contacted me by phone to get acquainted and learn some of mom’s background. I was pleased to tell him that my mother has known Jesus personally since a teen, that she served alongside my dad as a missionary in Japan and Nigeria, that she was a supportive pastor’s wife through all the highs and the lows.

As we began to finish the call, the chaplain, out of the blue, said, “Robert, are you an author?” I replied that I was. He asked if I had spoken at a conference of the Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association some years back. I affirmed that I had. Then he said this: I remember meeting you and your wife. We sat at a dinner table together and your wife shared the story of when you came back from Africa and she got a glimpse of heaven. (Yes, I said, that was us. I mentioned that we had come at the invitation of Jeff Funk, the HCMA president, whom we have known for years; Lyn and his wife Kathy have been dear friends for 40 years.) Then, the chaplain, named Wayne Yee, touched my heart: “I have often shared your wife’s story in my ministry and it has encouraged many, many people.” I hung up the phone and let the tear flow again.

The connections in the family of God are amazing because God is amazing. The threads of encouragement from Lyn’s life continue even now that she is with the Lord she loves.

Missing her

28 10 2015

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