Life – looking back and going forward!

 

As this year comes to a close, I am thinking about the milestones in my life and how each one was the result of the death of a close family member or a relationship.

  1. My grandmamma was my first mother. She was the only mother whom I knew until I was seven years old. I watched, and nursed, her as she died from cancer-I had just turned 13. I knew she was going to die that night. I was ready for her death. She had, ” fought the good fight, [She] finished [her] course, [She] kept the faith: Henceforth there [was] laid up for [her] a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge,  [gave to her] that night: and not to [her]only, but unto all who [wait] for His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). I knew that I would never see her again if I did not do what she told me which was to give my heart to the Lord. She never said my life..she said my heart. That was in the late 1960’s. It changed my life forever.  First of all, I did give my heart to Jesus, but some horrific things happened to me after her death.  Things that could have scared me for life if I did not have Jesus. I got through this stuff because I was waiting for Jesus to make His move. I knew that I was, “ bought with a price!’ so,  I waited for my deliverance from those events, and it came. “The Lord [was and still] is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; [the] God .. . . in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalms 18:2 NIV). 
    1. My cousins and I  we were all raised by grandmamma until a certain age; then we were sent to our respective parents in the UK. We were talking about her the last time we were all together. We all said the same thing,  “As long as she was alive we were under some type of divine protection.”  The scripture speaks to “the sanctification” of family members because of one believing family member, “your children [ we would have been] unclean; but now are they [ but we became] holy [because of her holiness in the Lord and her prayers for us.”I graduated from high school two years before the normal graduation age. Almost two years later I got married.
  2. We moved to the US to be closer to my birth mother and her sweet husband. My Step-father was the salt of the earth. He died in 1984.  That was the second death that changed the course of my life and the lives of my girl’s family. We moved to the south in 1986. I cried all the way there. I did not think that I would fit in there.
    • I did not want to move from my dear friends in NY.
    • I did not want to leave my job at Brooklyn College.
    • I did not want to live in a place where people saw your skin color before they saw your heart.
    • I just didn’t understand why God’s will could not work for me in NY.  After all, He sent me there in the first place.
    • Oh, I was a mess, but I had to submit to the will of the Lord in this matter and asked Him to, “Show me your ways, Lordteach me your paths” (Psalm 25:4 NIV).
  3. My mother died in 1989. That was probably the third biggest milestone. Wow..there is no way to describe the full impact of that death on my life. There were so many huge holes in the family dike that she left behind that it took nine years to fill them all in.  I felt that I had to the right the wrong that was committed to my step-brothers and sisters. Ruth 4:6 shows how the guardian-redeemer redeemed the estate of her husband’s family. In retrospect, it may not have been mine to fulfill, but certain things in my life would not have occurred had it not been for that decision.  I placed my life on hold until the problem was resolved.  It took nine years to fix that debacle and resulted in my health and immune system being ruined.  We had to sell our home to keep possession of my stepfathers’ home until the litigation was over. When that was settled, we bought acreage and a place of our own in the same town where my mother lived.
  4. The next death to impact my life was the death of my father in 2005 – I am his only child.  The hurdles from that death will be dealt with in 2016 as the Lord will’s
  5. The next death that changed my life and ministry was the death of my ministry partner. It was a huge blow to me.  I knew it was coming, I did not know it was going to be so soon.  I stopped dead in my track for months.  I knew what God wanted me to do, but I also knew that the ministry was not ready to take that step.  I also knew that if I went forward, it would probably lose many people.  I waited and waited, and waited.  The Lord opened a door for me to go back to school this time to seminary.  Question answered – yes. Was the ministry response as I envisioned, yes.
  6. In 2013, the Lord was preparing me to face the death of my dear cousin. She was the sister that I never had. This milestone in my life was not the death of a family member, but it was the end of a relationship. I can truthfully say that loss was the worse thing that I have ever experienced to date. While it was dying, it took a huge toll on my health and placed me in the hospital. My life has not been the same since and apparently will never be the same – health wise _ again. It was even worse than my divorce. My ex-husband and I are still excellent friends. I do know one thing, “all things do work together for the good of those who love the Lord.” I became very ill and had to move to Atlanta to live with my children.  They helped to get me back to a stable level of health.  It was there that I found out my cousin had stage four pancreatic cancer. I pleaded with God not to take her yet. I literally said, “if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me [I wanted her to live but to live well]. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Every time I think about it, I still cry uncontrollably. I did not know what this one would do, but she was one of two people left on earth who were my connection to my sweet grandmamma. When we were together, we remembered grandmamma with smiles and happiness because she was such a strong Christian woman. She taught us how to be women/men of God.  My last conversation with her before she lost her ability to speak was about the things grandma taught us about how Godly women behaved and dress:
    1. God’s women sit in dresses and skirts with their legs crossed at the ankles.
    2. God’s women don’t wear pants that show the shape of their legs etc.,  She lived this scripture and taught it, “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands so that no one will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:3-5). Of course, I did not realize until I was an adult why. A pastor explained that one to us. It’s not about what we want to do. It is about deliberately causing our brothers to sin.
    3. Godly women don’t take part of the seven things that God hates. To this day, I don’t like funerals because they remind me of the people in my life who have gone on. If the individual is a child of God, there is no finality there. I know where they are; they are continuing their life of abundance with their Heavenly Father – if they are born again. If they are not, I experience a deep sense of loss for them and their families.
      • Phyllis continued her life in that home built for her by her Savior on March 29, 2015. I can say I have never seen one person’s home going surrounded by so many interesting scenarios.
  7. 2015 so, here I am now back home in South Carolina, having published the devotional book that He asked me to release, waiting for God to order the next phase of my life. I am in seminary learning more about how to minister to people through the venue that He has chosen for me. I am not sure what other things He has in store for me outside of the book going forward, but I know for sure that God is up to something. I have learned not to ask him over and over again. He always reveals it in His own time and in His own way. This world is not a kind place to introverts. That is my cross to bear.
  8. 2016 – was not traumatic in the sense that I lost a loved one.  But I did leave one area of service to begin a new journey under the unction of the Holy Spirit. It was and still is completely out of my comfort zone! For an entire year, I asked God why was I in the place where He had placed me. The details of why are too much to post here.  There are always reasons for us growing where we are planted.  I just did not understand why – that place and at that particular time – I had to grow there.  I asked Him that question every day for 3/4 of 2016. Then when He told me it was time to move I asked Him why? Actually, I argued with Him about moving to this small place where I  knew no one. To a place where I would be so vulnerable. To a position – not new to me because I was a worship leader before.  But then I was a worship leader in a church with people who had become my family! This was new – I had no long-lasting relationships with any of these people – including the pastor.  But wow – what a man of God he is!!  Seminary continued in 2016.  I am now 2 classes away from completing my degree in pastoral counseling. My classes in 2016 were intense and I found myself crying many times as I read about and reflected on the destruction we – as human beings – have created and continue to create.

I wept about the need for transformation, and I wept about my role in that process. 2016, brought many people across my path as a counselor.

There were so many people who went through life-threatening hospitalizations.  People who almost lost loved ones.  People who went from losing their family members to being their caregivers. Sometimes the caregivers were individuals who needed care themselves! People who month after month experience the loss of loved ones. Some of them were expected, but the unexpected losses took their toll.

Last night after talking to a friend I remember the scripture, “Jesus Wept!” I fully understood why those words were so profound! Other things I wept about:

  • The hurricane Matthew came and did some damage to my home.  It is currently being repaired.
  • The elections are over, and I am not sure how we will fix the damage done to relationships by the rhetoric and ugliness in social media stirred up by the elections.  It did reveal that we have some significant relational challenges in this country and that they affect every demographic area in the national census.  I do know that only God can heal the breach caused by the elections and the ugliness that came out of it.
    1. Pray for peace and oneness friends.
    2. Pray for us to be truthful to each other – as a nation that is.
    3. Pray for us to not listen to the rhetoric, but that we apply the principles of the Word of God when we speak.
    4. Pray for us to see what we are as a nation and not what is written down on a piece of paper.
    5. Pray for America to be transformed by the renewing of its mind and
    6. Pray for the church to become the Church of the Living God and not a pawn of politics.

I guess I am writing this out because I know so many people who are experiencing severe emotional turmoil right now such as,

  1. The destruction of relationships.
  2. The separation from people whom they have loved and admired for most of their lives.
  3. The trauma of shattered hopes and dreams
  4. The realization that people are not whom they have pretended to be for years and the need to let go the hurt that splintered relationships are causing.
  5. The burning sting of character assignation.
  6. The personal and upfront experience of the being put through every single thing that the Lord Hates:

I want you to know that I have been that and that there is a light at the end of that tunnel. Even if it is only flickering. It may seem dim now….just take steps towards it. Call on His name as you are walking out of 2016 and into 2017.

in-2017

When the stuff of life just rolls over you like a Mack truck – know that the Holy Spirit will lift the truck like the HULK and it will be just like a paperweight.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bueller
    Dec 31, 2016 @ 09:07:35

    Amazing isn’t it?? This past few years have brought a lot of situations into our lives that have been so different from what we are used to. As we grow older it seems all our loved ones….both family and friends…..seem to be going on to their everlasting reward. Yet, we stay here, left behind, and having to pick up the pieces. And, then we continue on with God leading us and showing us which way to go. Sometimes you wonder what God has in store for you next, but you know you won’t find out until His time has come!!

    Reply

    • Joyce Gerald
      Dec 31, 2016 @ 09:13:20

      Sometimes He reveals His will is small bits and bytes (computer language) because we just cannot take it all at one time. I am so thankful for that strategy because if everything that happened to myself and all of my friends all happened in one month it would have been a huge challenge! Speaking what I want for myself and our nation into existence – I want internal peace for everyone. External peace will not come until we have internal peace. Happy new Year Bueller!!

      Have a simply splendid day. In His Service, Joyce E. Gerald Ed.S. Cell: 843-597-2826 Ministry Blog Our first publication is available on the website. Just click the URNOT Icon:

      John 3:16

      On Sat, Dec 31, 2016 at 9:07 AM, You're Not the Only One wrote:

      >

      Reply

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You’re Not the Only One

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