Grief

“I love the Lord, because He hath heard my voice an my supplications.
Because He hath inclined His ear unto me, therefore I will call upon
Him as long as I live.
The sorrows of death encompassed me, an the pains of hell gat
hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the Lord; O Lord,
I beseech Thee, deliver my soul.
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.
The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low,
And He helped me.
Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath
dealt bountifully with thee.
For Thou hast delivered my soul from death,
mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.
I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
I believed, therefore I have spoken:
I was greatly afflicted:
I said in my haste, All men are liars.
What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?
I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all His people.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.
O Lord, truly I am Thy servant; I am Thy servant, and
the son of Thy handmaid: Thou hast loosed my bonds.
I will offer to Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and will call upon the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all His people.
In the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem.
Praise ye the Lord.”

Psalm 116

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In the light of this personal tragedy that I’m now working though, and all of the thoughts it brings to my mind, I’m finding this song to be a great comfort.

Life is something that we, without a doubt, take for granted. We are not promised or guaranteed tomorrow, or even the rest of today. Are you ready?

I know and trust that Carol was a believer who had a strong and beautiful faith in Christ.
I also walk by faith, but I know I take my life for granted, so I hope and pray that I’ll be ready to meet my Savior when the time comes.

“I hear Your voice and I catch my breath.
‘Well done, my child, enter in and rest.’
Tears of joy roll down my cheek.
It’s beautiful, beyond my wildest dreams.
I want to run on greener pastures.
I want to dance on higher hills.
I want to drink from sweeter waters in the misty morning chill.
My soul is getting restless for the place where I belong.
I can’t wait to join the angels and sing
my heaven song.”

“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.”-Marcus Tillius Cicero

Death is a difficult thing to comprehend.

Even if you believe in life after death, as I do, more often than naught it just fills us with so many questions, which can be answered in ways we don’t like, ways we don’t understand, or sometimes cannot truly be answered by our own logic at all.

Why does someone die? Because their purpose is fulfilled? But then why must it be fulfilled so young? How is that even possible when so many people live to be 100 or more? Why must the leave us? And why does it have to happen so suddenly? Why does it have to be so hard?

I had a friend of mine from high school who died today. Very unexpectedly, after a tragic accident at work, and now she is gone.

Our stubborn and strictly human/earthbound state of mind brings us to say things like “It’s not fair,” or “She died too soon,” or even to question why she had to go…
I believe that every person is specifically called away from their life on earth by Jesus Christ when the time is right–when their purpose has been fulfilled, or they have lived life to the fullest extent that He intended for them. But even knowing and believing that in my heart, when death calls a loved one it is so difficult to wrap my mind around it, to fully comprehend it, and to accept it. I’ve been sitting here all morning, crying, and asking myself those same questions I listed up above…Why?Why did she have to die so young? She had just gotten married a matter of months ago, she was going to school, she was surrounded by family, she was living life, and it just seems so hard to believe that she ran out of life to live in this realm. Again, my shockingly human mind tells me that it is unnatural for someone to die so young. We are at a time in our lives where we are supposed to be getting married and having children, not dying…death is supposed to be for when we are old and grey and wiser, more experienced, and surrounded by children and grandchildren…right?

But, even though this is one of those things that is just a struggle to comprehend, I am grateful to be reminded that she did lead a full life. She grew up, made memories, graduated from high school, lived, loved with all her heart, laughed til she cried, fell in love and got married, etc. And most importantly, she had an opportunity to love God and share His light with others. She has stepped out of this human frame of life, but she is still alive, living in her eternity. Her life did not get cut short, but merely moved to the eternal realm.
We will all always miss her, and of course we think of what a tragic loss this is for us. From the eternal perspective of God, however, and now her as well, she did not lose anything, but gained the freedom that she knew she would inherit from her Savior one day. Now she is able to put off the struggles of human bondage, and live a sinless life in heaven where she can dance, sing, laugh, praise, and love her God and Savior in ways she never knew existed til now. And she can wait for those of us who will join her again when God personally calls us as well.

I won’t say rest in peace, because I actually hope that you, Carol Singletary, will rejoice in your new life, being happy to be free in a way you never would have been able to imagine.
We love you.

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“Are we left here on our own?
Can you feel when your last breath is gone?
Night is weighing heavy now.
Be quiet and wait for a voice that will say,
‘Come awake from sleep. Arise.
You were dead–become alive.
Wake up, wake up, open your eyes.
Climb from your grave into the light.’
Bring us back to life.
You are not the only one who feels like the only one.
Night soon will be lifted, friend.
Just be quiet and wait for a voice that will say,
‘Rise, rise, to life, to life.’
Shine.
Light will shine.
Love will rise.
Light will shine.
He’s shining on us now.”

-David Crowder Band

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

“As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like
a flower in the field; for the wind passes over it, and it
is gone, and its place knows it no more.”
Psalm 103:15-16

“For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He cause grief,
He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast
love; for He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.”
Lamentations 3:31-32

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are
at home in the body we are away from the Lord,
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away
from the body 
and at home with the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 5:6-8

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“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again,
and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
John 16:22

“Anyone can hide. Facing up to things, working through them, that’s what makes you strong.”-Sarah Dessen

Did you know that the lotus flower blooms from the depths of muddy waters?

It unfolds after breaking through the murky surface, to face the light. It closes and sinks beneath the surface once darkness falls each day. Despite repeatedly going beneath the waterline, the impurities never affect it–it remains pure and healthy. And it always, without fail during the course of its life, opens up again in the morning to face the sun.

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“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:19-23

“It is well with my soul…”
You know, those words often put me to shame. To say them and to understand their meaning and apply it to your life means that you are totally and completely trusting God. You’re letting go of it and giving it to Him. As a Christian, I like to think that I am trusting God and His purpose for my life, but as a flawed human being who is in need of His grace, redemption, and salvation, it shames me to realize that I don’t fully put my trust in Him quite as often as I think.
It’s hard!
But nobody ever said that it would be easy, and it’s something that we all struggle with.It is something that I’m struggling with even now. I’ve been through so much emotionally and mentally even in just the last 6 months, and it was not always easy to see His blessings in the darkness. I’ve been living in my current city for about a year and a half and this last part has been so terrible that I would like to forget about it and never think of it again.
But I think back to when I first moved here over a year ago…I was so excited. I had prayed about it, I had visited, I was ready because I knew in my heart that my longing to be here was instilled in me by the knowledge that it is where God wanted me to be. There was a purpose, even if I didn’t know what it was yet–even if I didn’t stumble across that purpose for 5 or 10 years! Now, as I’m working through a bit of a depression and preparing to take a break and leave for a while, I had this thought…what if God put me here to go through this trying experience?Not to torture me, because He would never do that, but to teach me. To force me to look at the strength of my relationship with Him and fortify it.
That is a really, really hard one to swallow. My automatic thought in response to that is, “Well it freaking sucked, so thanks a lot!” But that shouldn’t be my response…My response, from my heart, even if it’s with tears in my eyes, and the sting of pain still tangible, should be, “Okay.I see what You did there, God. And it is well with my soul.” It is so hard to make myself look at this recent time that I went through and see the good that has come out of it. So hard. But, as I’m being reminded, I will continue to see the benefits from it for myself and for others in my life, for the rest of my life. God will never give me something useless. It was an experience that has made me stronger and given me a foundation for helping others who might be in a situation that I can now identify with. And, most importantly, it has drawn me closer to Him.

In defense of my childhood:

As I specifically mentioned when I told a little bit about myself in my first post, I am a Christian. There are many Christians still today who are very much against the Harry Potter series, both the books and the movies. I remember when the first movie was about to come out when I was in elementary school. Naturally, in light of the upcoming movie, there was an upsurge in the number of people who were reading the books. Kids were bringing them to school, even my little Christian school in Wyoming. This didn’t mean much to me at the time,  but I have obviously learned its significance as I’ve gotten older. My brother and I hadn’t read or gotten into Harry Potter. In fact, I don’t think our family had really paid much attention to it one way or another. My mom went to a school board meeting one night, and one of the things on their agenda was to vote so that the Harry Potter books would be banned from school because it was about witches, which is obviously unbiblical (and which I will address in a moment). Thank goodness for my mother’s intelligence, she sat there thinking, And we are banning a book that none of us have ever even read…why? So she voiced the opinion that they shouldn’t just automatically judge what some parents have already judged acceptable for their children, if they don’t even know exactly what they are condemning, and that included herself since she hadn’t even read the books. So, she went out and bought them to see what all the fuss was about, and found something that she not only immensely enjoyed herself but that she thought would be great to share with my brother and myself. Hence the story of how I became just like all other children who grew up on the series.
Now, about this unbiblical business…
There are so many Christians who are still against the series because it has witches and wizards in it.When they hear that I not only enjoy but also recommend the series, they are basically like What?How can you condone witchcraft when the Bible says it’s wrong?
So, here’s what I have to say to that:
Yes, the Bible does clearly say that witchcraft is wrong. However, I believe that the witchcraft it is referring to is the kind where you are literally giving yourself over to satanic powers which then produces evil. If you’ve never read Harry Potter than you wouldn’t know that the story isn’t about that at all. It’s about a school, and the kids are born, almost with a genetic predisposition you could say, for magic, and they go to this school to control their magic and learn how to do things like hover charms. In my opinion, there is a difference between witchcraft and magic.
But there are evil wizards in it, you say. Yes. I won’t lie and say that there aren’t. But I’m also going to more extensively address that in a moment. You see, I figured, other than the couple of paragraphs I have already written, the best way to go about my defense of Harry Potter from a Christian’s perspective, I’m going to make a list of reasons why it is an amazing story, for people of all ages, whether you’re a Christian or not.

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  1. It teaches about friendship.
    Especially for kids, there are important lessons on building and maintaining lasting friendships in the story. And let’s face it, as adults, even we can be reminded of the importance of healthy friendships. Throughout the story, Harry and Ron, and eventually Hermione, come from three totally different backgrounds but they build a friendship starting in the first book that carries them through all of the good times and the bad for the rest of their lives.

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    “There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other.Knocking out a 12 ft mountain troll is one of them.”
    -HP& the Sorcerer’s Stone

  2. It teaches the importance and satisfaction that comes from sharing.
    Again, a lesson that is obviously beneficial to kids, but which adults sadly need to be reminded of as well. One of the things I love about Harry, which you discover very early on in the first book, is that he is unselfish. He loves to share with others and is happy to do so because he has never had anyone to share anything with.

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    “Harry…had never had anything to share before or, indeed, anyone to share it with.”
    -HP& the Sorcerer’s Stone

  3. As with friendship, it shows the value of family, both adopted, extended, and otherwise:
    Harry is an orphan who doesn’t have it too great living with his own aunt and uncle. But he at least recognizes that they are the only real family he has. And later on throughout the series, the Weasley family sort of adopt him as their own. Then, he makes a connection with his long-lost godfather. These people are all there for him and for each other, and even though they might not like each other sometimes, they always love one another.

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    “‘You’ll stay with me?’ ‘Until the very end..'”
    -Harry & James Potter

  4. It shows the importance of responsibility.
    Whether you’re a child or an adult, there are always specific responsibilities that belong to you. Perhaps most evident in Hermione, but also with the other characters, the book shows the different responsibilities that we have as we grow up, from school work, to our attitudes, and to doing something we know we must, even if we don’t want to and even if it scares us.

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    “What would come, would come..and he would have to meet it when it did.”
    -HP& the Goblet of Fire

  5. It shows us that we have the ability to make our own choices.
    Harry’s headmaster, Albus Dumbledore teaches a true lesson to us that we all must learn at some point in our lives. It does not matter how many wonderful abilities we possess or what they are geared for; it matters whether we choose to act on them, and if we choose to do so for the betterment of others, or just for our own benefit.

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    “It is our choices,Harry,that show what we truly are,far more than our abilities.”
    -Albus Dumbledore

  6. It teaches us the responsibility we have to speak up for the less fortunate around us who might not have that ability.
    House-elves are slaves, many of whom are severely mistreated, in the series. By the 4th book, Hermione takes a keen interest in liberating them from the unjust treatment that they face, and even just treating them as though they have rights, because they should. How many people can you think of, whether as a group or individual, are mistreated?People who deserve the right to speak from themselves but are passed over or ignored..

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    “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
    -Sirius Black

  7. It teaches us, both on a basic and deeper level, the difference between right and wrong.
    Again, a valuable lesson to learn or be reminded of for us all.  As children we learn the basic difference between right and wrong. If we choose to act out then we are choosing to take the consequences for our actions. This lesson follows us into adulthood, only our consequences can become so much bigger and impact us even more. Harry Potter teaches this in so many different ways. Harry learns this lesson and chooses to act on the light and good inside of himself because that is who he really is. Voldemort does just the opposite.

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    “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us.What matters is the part we choose to act on.That’s who we really are.”
    -Sirius Black

  8. It shows us, time and again, that good will always triumph over evil in the end.
    Voldemort chooses his own path of evil and he is unrelenting in his ways. Over and over again, and in different ways throughout the stories, Voldemort gains more power–things seem dark and the paths of the other characters who fight against him become more difficult. But always, in smaller ways in the earlier books, and then ultimately in the end, it shows that Voldemort’s power is meaningless because of the choices he has made, and he is always defeated by good.

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    “It is important to fight,and fight again,and keep fighting,for only then can evil be kept at bay…”
    -Albus Dumbledore

  9. It shows the power of love and the effect it has on us and our lives.
    This is evident from the beginning. Harry’s parents died to save him, because they loved him. Many others are willing to die for Harry and the good that he represents, and by the end Harry is willing to die for those he loves. Love, love love. It drives so many of our actions and effects us in so many ways.

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    “Your mother died to save you…to have been loved so deeply,even though the person who loved us is gone,will give us some protection forever.”
    -Albus Dumbledore

  10. It teaches about the concepts of life and death, and coping with losing someone we love.
    There are many different types of loss, but the loss of life is one that is addressed from several different points in the series. Harry loses many of the people he cares about, and he has to learn to cope and to grieve and eventually he learns that there is nothing to be feared from death.

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    “To the well prepared mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
    -Albus Dumbledore

  11. Most importantly, it’s fun and helps develop and exercise your imagination!
    There’s just no getting around the fact that Harry Potter is fascinating and full of humor. I lost track of how many times I’ve read the series a long time ago, but whenever I decide to read it again,I am always just as fascinated by it as the first time I read it. And it never loses its humor; no matter how many times I’ve read those same lines, they always make me laugh.

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Tell me, fellow Christians who are against Harry Potter, why would you want to ban your kids from reading a book that helps them distinguish from right and wrong, shows good triumphing over evil, teaches them about life and death, love, responsibility, sharing, family, and friends, helps them develop their imagination, and entertains them with life lessons and fun anecdotes from memorable characters that they will grow up with like friends and who they will remember for a lifetime?

I mean,pardon the expression,but that’s the magic of a good story,isn’t it?
If you’re going to say they can’t read Harry Potter, then why don’t you just also say they can’t read fairy tales which have princesses locked in towers, dragons, fairy godmothers, evil queens, and unrealistic (and sometimes creepy) expectations for men?

Answer me that.