Graduation and Grief


I knew there would be some raw feelings but I attempted to bury them for the benefit of others.

Tonight I attended the high school graduation of my granddaughter. It was the first graduation to attend since the one in 2008 that I didn’t get to attend, my son’s seat occupied only by a picture and gown. It was just one of those settings I didn’t know if I could face. At the same time it was one I couldn’t and wouldn’t miss.

Two names were announced as students who had passed before graduation. I prayed for their parents, no idea if they were there or not.

There were some tears, but also joy. Such is the journey of grief. I think the main realization I have from this experience is that we will know when it’s time to stretch … To move a little farther through the journey of grief.

Claire beautifully wore a pendant with John Robert’s picture around her neck. So there was a sense in which he walked with her. I know she was conscious of this, and it blessed our family in a special way.

Sometimes it is love for someone who is with us that empowers us to let go of some of the hurt of losing one who is no longer with us.

Thanks for reading, JD

Reaping The Whirlwind

The prophet Hosea’s story cuts to the heart. God asked him to marry the prostitute Gomer and endure the humiliation of being married to someone who gives themselves to any who are willing to pay. When his unfaithful wife chases her desires and disappears for a time, one might think Hosea is glad to be rid of her. If you think that, you misunderstand the depth of Hosea’s commitment to  God and Gomer. The heartbreaking scene of Hosea buying Gomer back is in the chapter of Hosea 3:

“So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver…Then I told her, ‘You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.'”

This is God’s great love for you … for me. We’d rather think of ourselves as better than Gomer, but in our hearts we know it’s not true. How many times we’ve run away from God, whether anyone else knew it or not. He loves, bestows grace, supplies inexhaustible hope and promise. All of this only to be met with us in our rejection of him, running away to give ourselves to the slop of the world. We think God would not want to have anything else to do with us.

“So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver…

But He’s there. Watching, heartbroken, but ready to redeem whenever we’re ready to come home. The Prodigal’s Father watched the far horizon. The message of God’s grace and redemption is too good to believe but it’s not too good to be true. Remember, though, that the Prodigal’s Father only ran to meet him as he came home in repentance. He never ran into the world to try to force him to come home. Hosea never ran after Gomer, begging her to come back.

If you refuse to belong to Him, He won’t force you. But be aware that in rejecting our Heavenly Father we are setting some things in motion. By the time we get to Hosea chapter eight Israel faces a strong warning….

Israel has rejected what is good; an enemy will pursue him. … They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. …. Israel is swallowed up; now she is among the nations like something no one wants.

What did Gomer set in motion when she set out away from Hosea? What did Israel set in motion as they rejected the God that loved her? What have you set in motion in rejecting God? The life away from God is filled with lies, subterfuge, facades of beauty.

We can sow the wind. Sometimes people talk about sowing wild oats – living reckless lives without considering God’s desires for our everyday life. It all sounds adventurous and worldly and exciting. God spoke through the prophet, “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” Are we prepared for what is set in motion in our own lives by our rebellion and abandonment of God’s ways? How lonely is the world when it’s all said and done? When you’ve surrounded yourself with people who’s greatest value is to make themselves happy, who will be there when you’re no longer in the formula for their happiness?

‘now she is among the nations like something no one wants.’

But never give up, friend. When the world has used you up, look around. If you think that it’s over and no one cares, you’re wrong.

“So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver…”

 A Voice speaks up. A Father runs down the road to meet you. A Shepherd seeks to guide you home. It’s time to return.

Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! I will heal their waywardness and love them freely … Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand.  The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them. (Hosea 14)

If you’ve been sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind and you’re ready to come home to the Father, the door is open. Father gave you the freedom to explore and find out that He was telling you the truth. It’s time to walk in His ways once again. Aren’t you tired of the whirlwind?

“So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver…”

He awaits.

Thanks for reading, JD.

Some Related Reading for Your Kindle…

Hosea / Joel by J. Vernon McGhee  $5.99

The Preacher and the Prostitute by E. K. Bailey $5.99

Invisible by Jennifer Rothschild  $10.99

God Loves Broken People by Sheila Walsh  $6.99

The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning  $9.99

So Beautiful: Devine Design for Life and the Church by Leonard Sweet $1.99

A Cardinal Sin?

12747519_10209070564506008_3865675895032690675_oI love most all birds but especially the beautiful Cardinals. I recently bought two new bird feeders because you know without me the birds of my neighborhood would starve to death! Actually, it’s more selfish than that. I think the birds are beautiful and peaceful. This morning I heard the cardinals chirping outside and so I glanced out my window and was quite surprised.

The birds have not yet recognized the new feeders. I don’t know why … it’s perfectly obvious to me that they are bird feeders. When I bought them the label on the box said they were bird feeders. They are bright red (one would think Cardinals would like red!). They are in the same place as an old feeder that fell into disrepair, so they are used to feeding in that spot. The bird seed is visible to me (I suppose it is to them as well).  11791929_10207651352146586_8972039835251746217_o

But the birds don’t seem to recognize the new feeders. The older bird feeder is now empty. So Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal are scratching around on the ground trying to find a morsel that could have escaped the older feeder. They’re just pecking around on the ground with their eyes looking downward trying to find a half-eaten seed hidden among the shells and dirt.

13063071_10209638239617531_5860815889193185123_oAll the while while just above their heads are two feeders filled to the top with fresh sunflower seeds. Abundance awaits my feathered friends. Not only now, but when they’ve emptied them I’ll happily refill them!

But they keep looking down… at the leftovers of their little bird lives.

Instead of looking up to the endless provision that awaits above them.


It reminded me …

of me.

Thanks for reading. All of these photographs were taken by my friend Jim Hughes.

Here are some bargains for your Kindle:

Cardinals: Amazing Pictures and Facts About Cardinals   .99

The Cardinal   9.99

When a Cardinal Appears: Selected Short Stories from a Christian Life  2.99

My Special Messenger: The Northern Red Cardinal  2.99

Cardinal Truths: A Daily Devotional 3.99

And for your back yard…

20 lbs of Black Oil Sunflower Seed (Free Shipping with Prime) $12.09

Audubon “Mini” Absolute Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder  $25.39

Red Seed Ball Feeder  $7.77

Cardinal Pair Garden Flag  $6.29

Cardinal Solar Light $16.98

Cardinal Wind Chime  $13.39