A GOD WHO COLLECTS OUR TEARS By Lori A Alicea

There is a time for everything,
And a season for every activity under the heavens.

A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 NIV

Such is the season our family is walking with the recent good-bye of a cherished loved one in our lives.
For my sister longing the gentle embrace of the man who held her for forty-six glorious years, she weeps and though her…

Tears are just water and salt,
But a thimble full can feel oceans wide.

An excerpt from song…

God Loves You
By Chondra Pierce
With an ocean of tears standing before us, especially for my sister, her children and grandchildren, a family struggles to remember life on dry land.

There are those waves of the unexpected which overtake and have one gasping, struggling to reach the surface for another breath, when only minutes ago you were just enjoying the view.

It’s difficult to make peace with our new season of weeping and mourning, when the heart longs to laugh and dance like it used to.
You trust a loving God who already foretold from the beginning there’d be seasons and times for everything and every activity under the heavens.

While we wish our God handed out save-the-dates in matters of the heart; there must be an ongoing reminder in our calendar to prepare, to have oil in our lamp when the Lord shows up at our darkened-door of the unexpected.

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Every now and then God puts a song in my heart to sing, albeit in metered rhyme.

I dedicate these words to anyone bearing the weight of grief on their heart, especially my sister, as she navigates this season along a detoured path in an unknown forest from the road, a path where two people once traveled together only a few weeks ago.
A song to remind her she travels not alone…

A song to remind a travelling companion now holds the map for every step of the way in front of her…
Words to hold close and hold onto the guide who already knows the way as He is the Way…

A God who is ever present and close beside in her tears…

A GOD WHO COLLECTS OUR TEARS
By Lori A Alicea

Our hopes, our joys, and dreams we dare,
Our memories will keep.
Our heart, a home where love resides,
Which measures oceans deep.

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Our heart which captures every thought,
Those shared between just two.
And written in this secret place,
Their eyes can only view.

The years they share, their love is deep,
And lay the ocean floor.
Those treasures of their heart revealed,
When waves they wash ashore.

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The heart, a home where love resides,
And memories still grows.
Where dreams are shared and dared to take,
Whose heart the other knows.

But just as full in their hello,
The heart will leap and sigh.
The walls which keep their love secure,
Will break in their good-bye.

From deep one’s flowing love will weep,
And seep the oceans wall.
And from the windows of one’s soul,
Their tears begin to fall.

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In sorrow we are not alone,
Our God is ever near.
He sits beside us when we grieve,
Collecting every tear.

Recording in His book of us,
When tears our face they fall.
Our God is present when we cry,
Remembering them all.

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However long our heart must weep,
He’s sitting close beside.
As love was deep and heart was full,
And ocean’s arms were wide.

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The writings from their secret place,
Once shared, to view, recall.
The pain of mere remembering,
The gush, the waterfall.

 

 But every grief He’ll wipe away,
And dry our pain each trace.
But dare forget when ocean’s seeped,
In tears which streamed our face.

Our ever present God reminds,
Though weeping stays the night.
His joy will greet the grieving heart,
Awake by morning light.

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You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
Psalm 56:8 NLT

weeping may endure for a night,
But joy cometh in the morning.
Psalms 30:5 KJV

THE MAN BEHIND THE SHIRT  By Lori A Alicea

He wore a flannel shirt.

Not a three piece suit.

Not a crisp white shirt and a tie.

But at his home-going celebration,
My brother ‘n law Andy wore a baseball hat, blue jeans and a flannel shirt,
All befitting the simple man he embodied in life.

Remembering though…

There’s always another story.
There’s more than meets the eye.
W.H. Auden

 Unbeknownst to me who didn’t get the memo, family members young and old, prepared in advance and arrived at Andy’s Celebration of Life to honor their father, papa, uncle and friend, each dressed as Andy was dressed, sporting a flannel shirt.
A family honored the man behind the shirt.
Their outward expression for an inward love they each had known in the individual ways Andy shared his life with them.
Author and Speaker Dr. John A. Tetsola said it best from his book titled…
The Power of Honor

Honor means to value.
To value means to hold something or someone
In high regard and esteem in your heart and in your sight.
Family and flannel were mirrored reflections of the other through our tears, our smiles, our laughter and our joy in remembering Andy that day.
Not wanting the day to end in our good-byes…

As this signaled the continuation of our journey minus Andy’s presence behind the shirt…

At least for now on this side of heaven.
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But as I stated earlier…

There’s always another story.
There’s more than meets the eye.
W.H. Auden

Because it is written…

For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.
Luke 8:17 NLT

Because in the days of going on and packing up of Andy’s office, the true man behind the flannel shirt was discovered and made known to all from the drawers and closet from which they were concealed; even to his wife.

While Andy was known as a God fearing man in the way he lived his life, the way he raised his children, loved his grandchildren, and submitted himself to the mandates of a Godly marriage.

A deeper version of the man behind the shirt was revealed through the binders and books of notes written from the pen of Andy’s hand, a student of the Word, searching and studying for more of Him, learning the ways and attributes of God.

It would have been so easy to take the outward appearance of Andy’s flannel shirt and honor the simple man which he was, yet overlooking the possibilities, the inner qualities one might be hiding in the secret place, as Andy did.

Yet, God’s love for us shines a bright light and sees our heart, our character, and who we truly are on the inside.

Nothing is overlooked.

…For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7 AMP

What was done in secret was brought out into the open, with Andy preaching his life’s message, his final sermon spoken and passed into the hands of the generations ready to receive the hand-off of his legacy, ready to run their race set before them…

Seeking, searching, earnestly looking for more of God,

Who promises to find us in this pursuit.

I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me.
Proverbs 8:17 NIV

How interesting though,

To know the son, you’ve known the father, both students of the Word.

Like father, like son.

Two ”seeking” men behind the shirt.

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CELEBRATING ANDY, and the Work of His Hands  By Lori A Alicea

In the Bible it is written in Romans 13:7 ESV…
Give honor to whom honor is due.

I find such a man in my brother Andy, whom honor is greatly due him.

This was an unexpected honor for me when my sister Debbie asked if I’d be willing to celebrate her husband’s life in words, because as far as I could remember, our brother Mark has always been the official family spokesperson at times like these.

Even as Mark and Andy are heavenly neighbors now, I somehow feel Mark’s presence still, prepared to take his rightful place at this podium.

But yet I’m here instead, privileged to deliver the words God wants to comfort us with while Celebrating Andy.IMG_6541

They say that the hearing is the last to go and if Andy could hear my name being called to the stage today, he’d be jolted and startled for a second with these words, “Copy that???”

Today is a bittersweet day to be together, locking arms and hearts together as we navigate this maiden voyage of uncharted waters without our Andy.

This small setting has all the “feels” of our family holiday dinners; the holiday being the celebration of our Handy Andy, our Hunny Bunny, our Papa, our Dad, our Brother ‘n law.

But as beautiful as this table set before us is, it’s hard not to notice the empty chair once occupied by Andy.

Rumor has it that Andy chose instead to attend a heavenly grand reunion in his honor…Greek translation…rude.

I wish I had a front row seat to the Houle section in the banquet room of heaven.

Surely, there is a senior table for our family pillars, Mom and Roger, Bill and Gloria and Bon Bon, with Dad and Joyce waving from their table nearby.

Surely, there’s a table where Andy has taken his rightful place seated next to Belinda, Mark and Mary. I can almost see Mark high fiving Andy – “Bro – you made it.” I have no doubt Belinda has a left a goody bag of jelly beans on Andy’s plate, and Mary, she sits and laughs as she takes it all in.

Mom is beaming with great joy to see her sidekick back at the card table and the entire family cheers for this grand reunion they’ve been waiting for.

Yes, it is an honor to Celebrate Andy’s life.

The book-ends of anyone’s life are their birth certificate and their obituary.

Held together by these book-ends are the volumes of details, the memories, the moments, the trials and victories of our beloved’s life.

Let’s begin by reading the final book-end of Andy’s life.

Andrew Hritz, age 66 of Valparaiso, IN passed away July 12, 2023.

He was born on Sept 15, 1956 to the late Michael and Pauline Hritz in Gary, IN.

On March 5, 1977, Andrew married the love of his life Deborah Houle in Valparaiso, IN. Andrew enjoyed reading, making homemade ice cream and eggnog, but most of all he loved spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren.wedding andy deb

Andrew was talented with his hands; his nickname was Handy Andy and if he did the job well his wife called him Honey Bunny.

Andrew will be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend and he will be deeply missed.

Andrew is survived by his loving wife of 46 years, Deborah Hritz of Valparaiso, son, Phillip (Mandie Fusner) Hritz, Amanda (Jordan) Mayfield of Argos, IN,

Four grandchildren, Kollin and Zachary Hritz, Gracie and Luke Mayfield;

Four brothers Michael, Bill, John and Paul Hritz and many other loving family members.
Andrew was proceed in death by his father, Michael Hritz and his mother Pauline.

When you open up the book between the book-ends of Andy’s life, the first page begins with a shortened stanza from an old song we used to sing sitting on the pews of our Southern Baptist church as kids…

GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS…

All I have needed thy hand hath provided…
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

From beginning to end, Andy’s life reflected God’s faithfulness as he learned to trust and never let go of God’s hand for every need and provision for his wife, children, grandchildren, employment and extended family.

Andy had a life verse whether he realized it or not, and this verse was once prophesied over him proving to be a true word from our Creator…

God will bless the work of your hands…
Deuteronomy 28:12

I looked up the meaning of this verse and it reads as follows: God has destined that our hands be empowered to accomplish great things and will be sufficient for you.

There’s a quote from the website of once evangelist Billy Graham which speaks to and exemplifies the life of our dear Andy:

The Greatest legacy one can pass onto one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulating in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.

Yes, character and faith through Andy’s hands would become his legacy…

HERE IS A SMALL TRIBUTE TO THAT LEGACY.

From his hand and heart, Andy waved the white flag of surrender in salvation to God.

Andy gave his hand in marriage to one woman for 46 glorious years, as he loved her, cherished her, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health all the days of his life.
Handy Andy hung galleries of Debbie’s Board and Brush pictures with his hands, defying physics and logic and preventing a house implosion from the sum of its weight.
Andy was always game for a hand of cards – albeit Rummy, UNO, Yahtzee, or Pinnacle against Denise, Brad, Jill and mom, showing no mercy to either of them.

Uncle Drew held out his hand and scooped up the small nieces and nephews whenever they reached for his lap.

Game shark Andy showed no hand of mercy either while playing Chutes and Ladder, Candy Land, and Mother Love with his daughter Amanda and niece Candace when they were just learning to play.

Uncle Drew’s hands walked my young daughter to elementary school when she was afraid of the neighborhood dogs.

Daddy Andy held his daughter’s hand while learning to walk on tippy toes as a toddler. He held her hand as they walked together to the altar during her Honor Star service, and most proudly, Amanda’s father held tight to his daughter’s hand as she walked her wedding isle as a beautiful bride.

With books in their hands, a father and his son Phillip treasured the words written about God, exchanging their discoveries and truth about prophecy, and End – Times. They also bonded as guys do in the garage around tools, cars and grease.
Uncle Drew’s hands wrestled through the ages of my young to my grown-up son Jake on his lap, once conning his nephew to pull out a pair of skid marked whitey-tightys from his Christmas gift as a joke for the giver– a legendary memory of laughter for us all.

Son ’n law Andy with his hands helped our mother by fixing her car, hanging pictures on her walls, sharing coffee and a seat around the table, and whatever he possibly could do to harass her.

Andy’s hands were the official carver of the holiday turkey and ham; whose place at the stove rang the silent dinner bell for everyone to take their seats at the kid’s table, senior table, adult table or any place you could find on the floor as dinner was almost served.

You wouldn’t know about them unless Andy felt led to show you, but Andy kept a library of hand written notes and diagrams pertaining to his job description throughout those 30+ years on the clock, a trophy recognizing his pursuit of excellence unto his Almighty God at work.

His hands as an employee carried a cooler/lunch pail so big and jammed pack of food, someone taking a picture might think he was toting the refrigerator to his job.

Andy’s hands clapped the loudest from the heart of the most proud Papa for his sweet Gracie during her dance and piano recitals.

Andy’s hands held and shared a fleet of trucks and cars with his little Lukie who loved and treasured this one-on-one Papa time with him.

Papa’s hands shared the hearts of his grandchildren Gracie and Lukie with Carla, Deb and well, ok…Dave, their other grandparents equally in love with them.

Don’t get me started on the hilarious sight of Andy with giant Old Maid cards in his hand and a game against granddaughter Gracie, nieces Ayva and Aubrey and their giggles to give him the Old Maid for the win.

Chef Andy’s hands concocted and shared the most delicious homemade eggnog with his daughter Mandie Renee at Christmas. But truth be told, Andy shared a cup of her stash with David and I this past Christmas.

A father ‘n law’s hands stood and saluted on the inside with the utmost respect and pride for his military son, a man of honor who lives for God, Family, Country and Flag; and in that order.

Papa Andy’s hands shared a bucket of popcorn for years with his son Phillip, his grandsons Kollin and Zachary and nephew Ethan tagging along to watch those action-packed movies at the theater. A wrestling match against old and young took place most nights during their time together.

It was a given for Andy’s hands to serve and share a cup of coffee with David and me whenever we visited, ensuring a carton of our favorite cream was bought in advance.

Andy might have been a man few of words, even though this Queen of Questions standing here tried to pry a few sentence over the years, but his servant’s hands spoke volumes for themselves.
Andy and Debbie weren’t travelers and the farthest they’d ever drive was to the nearest Walmart. But when the car doors opened from our military family, and from our southern drawl families from Tennessee and Texas, rest assured Uncle Drew welcomed you with those Andy-hugs he was famous for. Rest assured Andy made the draft cut into the Special Forces which thrived to bother, aggravate and stir up trouble as guys love to do. Rest assured his nieces and nephews found a seat at the table near their Uncle Drew, making up for lost time of love and laughter with him. Andy had a hand in being present for those long distant relationship reunions.

Andy also had a hand in being present in his quiet relationships at church, and through our special events when extended families join together in celebration.

Our sister Denise’s best friend Jill had two small children in need of a babysitter so Debbie and Andy opened their home for babysitting, while also watching my two. They became Aunt and Uncle to Julie and JT who loved them as their own. Our family adopted these two as well into their hearts. Julie and JT’s pictures filled up Aunt Debbie’s library of scrapbooks, they each had a seat along with their extended family at our gatherings, their names found themselves on every guest list of ours, became part of the cousin generation, their branches grew and became off-shoots from our family tree, and we can’t imagine life without them, all because Debbie and Andy opened their hearts and home to them.

Brother ‘n law Andy extended a hand of hope to me as a single woman, receiving my small children during the middle of the night and putting them to bed as I went off to work. Rules were meant to be broken when Debbie wasn’t around, and Uncle Drew became Mr. Fun, pulling out all the stops of entertainment while I worked the other shifts. Loving my kids to life during this most difficult season for them, Debbie and Andy bonded with my little boy and girl as second parents.
Andy’s hands touched others beyond his knowledge.

We each have a ripple effect, touching others beyond our reach, beyond our life’s stone cast across the water into ripples on a pond.

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Through his wife’s pictures on social media, Andy was known at the city gates as a family man, a papa on adventure with his grand-kids, a father whose hands held the hearts of his children close, a husband who understood covenant in marriage; a rare find of gold mined from a man’s life these days.

Though a man of few words, Andy had a message and it was preached through the ripple effect of his life’s stone cast across the water into ripples on a pond.

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 Andy’s hands were never idle… earning his infamous title of Handy Andy.

His hands drew from the well of “acts of service”, the language of love he spoke to his family.

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From his hands he gave back to God what was due him in tithes and offerings, in prayer, in time and talent and Sunday mornings with Him.

Hand and in hand along the Riverwalk of their life together, Andy enjoyed the most wonderful year of retirement with his bride. A year of bike rides, pancake breakfasts, Dairy Queen trips and Walmart shopping sprees to name a few.

Their final night together, husband Andy held the hand from the wife of his youth while sharing his devotion and love to her; they both fell asleep this way. A framed moment his wife of 46 years will forever hang from her heart.

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Yes, God truly blessed the love and life of Andy’s hands.

Andy and Debbie’s faithfulness to God, their children and grandchildren will be a legacy passed on through the generations. The fruit of their faithfulness is evident and measured in the bushel basket-fulls of their family.

Amanda, the God-fearing woman she’s been throughout her life of forty years without waver is now mirrored in the worshiper we see in her daughter Gracie. Her son Lukie stands on a stage all his own, enjoying life and passionate around a race track of cars and trucks, making room one day for his calling in life.

Phillip, though man of few words as his father, has a hunger in his pursuit for Jesus which has been evident in him wanting his grandmother’s books centered around Christian living from her library as his inheritance. Phillip’s son Kollin is equally as quiet and has a presence about him in his respect and kindness for others. Phillip’s other son Zachary has this zest for life and humor like his Papa, causing hilarious trouble while drawing others unto himself.

Debbie and Andy have lived out the scriptures charged to them as parents…

We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord.
Psalm 78:4 NIV

To pass the baton of faith, you must first possess it in your hand.
For a smooth hand-off in the relay of life, you need a firm grip on the baton of faith and an intentional effort to place it in the hand of the next generation; as Andy and Debbie have.

Surely Andy has already heard these words of affirmation from the Heavenly Father,

Well done, good and faithful servant…
Matthew 25:21

Andy’s address has changed.

He now lives and breathes in a perfect place with God while we attempt to process his absence here on earth; a momentary separation until our name is called and we are reunited with him once again.

BUT HERE WE ARE; WE GRIEVE.
Everybody grieves.

Yes, everybody grieves.

But everybody grieves differently, and in their own way.
Some grieve outwardly, visible through the rainfall of their tears.

Some grieve inwardly, as if a dam holds back the streams of their pain, yet breaks through in the flow of their written words or song.

There is no measuring stick to gauge one’s grief,

But you grieve nevertheless.

Grief is a painting of a thousand words.
We find ourselves consoled in the brushstrokes from those who understand.

We take comfort in the sunsets that calm our weariness.

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Just as the morning dew weeps over the spring flowers, we also are given permission to weep.

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Jesus himself wept in grief over a dear friend who died.

Jesus wept.
John 11:35 NIV

This portrait of grief is an open book of our heart where its pages are stained from runaway tears, yet caught by the hands of a loving God who notices and stores them in a bottle, recording these raindrops of pain in His Book of Remembrance.

You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle
not one will be lost.
For they are all recorded
In your book of remembrance.
Psalms 56:8 (TPT)

This portrait of a thousand words hangs in our personal gallery titled,
A Family says Good-bye.”
This season of showers of our tears,

Whether flowing from the windows of our heart or soul,

Our tears water a great hope of a family reunion one day, in heaven.

From each shower,

A “rainbow in full view” of the open sky reminds us of the nearness of God.
These April showers bring forth May flowers of joy, because in God:

Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy cometh in the morning.
Psalm 30:5 (KJV)

The season of grief most difficult,

The season which wrestles and fights to hold onto your heartstrings,

Yet a season you must find His perfect peace,

The season of letting go.

In our letting go,

We are letting God…

Sit with us beside the empty chair.

Be that telephone call when we long for theirs.

Be a song when we miss their voice.

Be an arm of comfort in the middle of the night.

Give us eyes to see our family portrait still complete.

Be a father to the fatherless.

Be a husband to the widow.

Be a friend to the friendless.

Lead us beside still waters.

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Be everything;

Whatever everything needs to be.

Going forward, that first birthday, first holiday, first wedding anniversary and first Father’s Day without Andy will be honored and grieved differently by each who loved him, though grieved nevertheless.

God wipes our tears when they fall outwardly.

God will be those words or song when we weep from the inside.

God will be a faithful post to lean on when the weight of our heartache is far too great a burden to shoulder and stand alone.

In our letting go,

We are letting God.

We’ll get there when we get there.

In time…in time

AND NOW WE SAY GOOD-BYE

Saying good-by to Andy is most difficult; the pain unbearable at times.

The “changing of the guard” is simultaneously taking place in multiple homes of our family, causing hearts to short-circuit from the emotional overload of sadness, yet rejoicing as our Andy has just seen Jesus.

As the season of summer is about to place the baton in the hand of its neighbor called fall, closing up swimming pools and beaches in exchange for cozy sweaters and campfires, our family is in their lane and in position for the hand-off and good-bye to a husband, father, papa and friend in Andy.

Good-bye is our book-end to hello.

A shelf of memories stacked between each book-end, keeping each scrapbook firmly placed between so many years of good-byes and hello.

While our good-byes can stir up a whirlwind of joy as does its partner of hello, it’s just embracing the vision of the hello when “letting go” in our good-bye causes so much emotion.

While the shades of good-bye vary as the colors in the rainbow, good-bye nevertheless requires an exchange of the baton in our heart.

Before an unexpected good-by, Andy looked at the “love of his life” for the very last time; yet didn’t realize it.

You never saw one without the other.

Still high school sweethearts into their golden years, the glow of their faces while looking into each other’s eyes alone could fill up the pages of a romance novel.
For the first day in their marriage lifetime just a few days ago, Andy’s wife woke up to the sunrise of sadness, sensing the vacancy on his side of the bed, sitting at the breakfast table with his empty coffee cup and empty seat in front of her, void of his bright smile that didn’t greet her good-morning.

Yet, in the pain of their good-bye on this earth, Debbie’s Honey Bunny said hello to the other love of his life, the one he gave his heart to and waited a lifetime to spend eternity with, his Lord and Savior.

Debbie’s Hunny Bunny still retains his bright smile he was known for, yet he brightens up our hearts now, while leaving the world a bit dimmer.
Good-bye is our book-end to hello.

One sad good-bye is a glorious hello to someone else.

We were never meant to hold on to anything; the moments, life as we know it, each other.

Life is a daily letting go so that in our letting go, we can “Let God” have His way in us.

Good-bye might not be the hello we want to embrace,

But be willing to stay in your lane,

Get in position for the handoff of the baton,

And continue to run the race set before you.

As Good-bye is always our hello to the next step, the new beginning,

Of something wonderful God wants to do thru us.

We love you Andy. We love you Uncle Drew. We love you dad.

We love you Papa. She loves you Hunny Bunny.
Until that grand reunion in heaven, we will all miss you like crazy.

BE THOU ENCOURAGED…In Loss By Lori A. Alicea

We are not alone in our tears.
In the lonely midnight hour it seems we suffer in silence.
But be assured and find great comfort as we are not alone in our tears.

Jesus weeps with us. He himself wept, being moved with compassion as Martha and Mary grieved the loss of their brother.  Jesus shared their grief in tears.

Jesus draws near to the broken hearted.
In your tears, Jesus will draw near to you.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 NIV

When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. Where have you laid him?  He asked.  “Come and see Lord,” they replied. 

Jesus wept. John 11 32-35 NIV

I never understood earth shattering loss until my older sister Belinda left this earth for heaven. So many years ago, yet seems like yesterday.  She left us at the young age of 44 after being sick her whole life, yet because of her strong will to live and belief in God for a miracle, we had her years beyond what we imagined.  She was the first of our six siblings to go.
xmas and other036A generous friend my sister was while growing up, spending her allowance on me for no other reason than she loved me. We shared a sweet friendship that followed into our adult lives.

I loved my sister’s unexpected long distance calls and hated when our short conversations were over. Belinda was always in a hurry yet I appreciated her small offerings of time.  What I wouldn’t give for a mini talk with my sister, enjoying her laugher on the other end of the telephone.

Goodbyes are terribly painful. Goodbyes open the floodgates of our tears.  You can’t remind the clock.  Wishing is a waste of time.  Life moves forward from the day death closes a door.  It’s not fair.  The answer to our “whys” will never satisfy.  Loss is a bitter pill to swallow.

Though there is rest in our suffering and loss.
There is comfort in Jesus noticing our weeping.
In our grief He is moved with compassion and weeps with us.

There is sweet hope for our tomorrow as..

Weeping may endure for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5 NIV

Joy is not forgetting your loss.
Joy is not pretending your loss ever happened.

“Joy comes in the morning” because if allowed, Jesus is the salve that heals all wounds. Jesus binds the broken and fills the void your loved one left behind with a new song in your heart.

Those who sow in tears will reap in joyful singing.
Psalm 126:5 NIV

All those tears in the night have been accounted for.
Your tears are collected in His bottle, and…
Joy comes in the morning.

Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not recorded in your book?
Psalm 56:8 NIV

 So many years ago, yet seems like yesterday. The deep pain of losing a sister I never expected to endure.  In a former column of mine The Milestones of First Anniversary’s

I wrote:

At her graveside service as Heaven comforted us with a sunny day and serenading birds, its own recipe of chicken soup for the sick at heart.  I couldn’t have comprehended that first year without her, as we fought to get through our first week.
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Those first few weeks after our tearful good-by when the numbing of the shock had worn off, waves of sorrow crashed over me through unexpected reminders of my sister in resemblances of her children, in each of us remaining siblings and even complete strangers. I barely held it together hearing the mention of her name.
IMG_5956Reading my sister’s obituary with her picture posted seemed so surreal. I struggled to be a pillar of strength for her children embracing the difficult realization their mother was gone.

In the passing of years, you do find it to be true that “time does heal all wounds.”
You miss your loved one in ways mere words can’t convey.
But time in God is good.

He is patient.
God doesn’t rip off the Band-Aid protecting your pain.
He handles you gently and softly, and never in a hurry.

You never cry alone.
Jesus weeps His own tears with you.
In the surrendering of your broken heart there is joy in the morning.

God even breathes his joy in the midst of our good-byes.
I wrote about it in my former column just mentioned.

Though sad was our sister’s “home going party”, before us, a little butterfly circled, showing off as if to tell us a secret.  Flittering free as a child, its interpretative dance reminding us my sister was free from the body that held her hostage.  Cry no more she’s free.

 Since then, I’ve attended a few dance recitals held outside my kitchen window.  A gift from Heaven who enjoys her now, I draw joy again from the well of my soul, prepared to live through the “seconds”.  There’s even peace to write my own lyrics to the song of this butterfly’s dance.

It’s just a little butterfly,
Outside that I can see.
Performing solo with new wings,
A special dance for me.

No music plays that I can hear,
A song there has to be.
A ballerina on her stage,
The audience, just me.

This butterfly is free to fly,
Wherever it may go.
But chose outside my window pane,
That I would somehow know.

Each dance this butterfly performs,
Within my simple view.
To celebrate its freedom wings,
Each time I think of you.        

I still miss my sister after all these years.  Since my sisters death, our youngest sister went home to be with Jesus, leaving another empty chair at the dinner table.  So much to conceive, but Jesus is enough to get us to the other side of pain.  Good-by celebrates the handprints our loved one leaves behind.
No thief can ever rob you of their memory.
david at gravesideIt’s ok to weep.
Jesus did.

Remember that heaven is our eternal home; we are only passing through in this life.
We’re just dropping in to say hello this side of heaven.
One day we’ll all meet Jesus and our loved ones again and..

As the song is gloriously written…

What a day of rejoicing that will be.