Support for the bereaved

No matter how old we get, no matter how often it happens, losing a loved one through death is no easy experience to get over. However, if you are surrounded with family, friends or acquaintances who are sensitive to your needs, it can make a huge difference.

Here are a few things to remember when seeking to support a friend or family who has lost someone through death.

1. Give them space – Avoid calling during the first two days. You can opt for sending a message instead. This would allow the person to read the message and respond in their own time. When some time has passed and you wish to call, avoid calling too early or too late. Suggested hours are between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Many times when individuals are grieving they may wish to sleep in or just stay in bed. They may also wish to retire early; this is absolutely normal. These adjustments are all necessary as they seek to cope with their loss.

2. Avoid asking sensitive questions surrounding the death such as: the cause of death and how it transpired, funeral plans, family travel plans, whether or not there is a Will etc. Keep in mind that the individual is grieving and may not wish to discuss such details at that point. Your aim should be to make them as comfortable as possible. Keep your conversation along the line of comfort and support. Seek to uplift and assure them that you are available if they need anything. For example: You can say; “I wish to extend condolences on the passing of your sister. I am so sorry for your loss. Please know that I am praying for you.”

3. Avoid visiting during this time as we are still experiencing a pandemic. However, if you must, be sure to contact them first to confirm that it is o.k. to visit. Never turn up unannounced. Try to keep your visiting party very small with a maximum of three persons. Be sure to wear your mask and adhere to all COVID-19 Protocols. Keep in mind also that once you decide to visit, the bereaved becomes the Host and would want to be able to accommodate you well. Being a host to visitors requires cleaning, preparation of a refreshing drink and of course the energy to engage your guests. You can consider taking off some pressure of the Host who is also the bereaved by doing the following;

~Offer to help them with a daily chore eg: Cut the grass, wash the dishes or rake the leaves.

~Offer to provide refreshments that they can serve to their guests.

~Call in advance and find out whether there is something they would like you to bring from the Supermarket.

Individuals who are hurting because of the loss of a loved one appreciates our ability to place their needs above our needs. It is a sign of true care and empathy. Having understanding family and friends around, allows us to relax outside of pressure and demands and it assures us that a support structure is there for us when we need it.

How Great is Our God!

(Picture provided by google images)

If we do not know the extent of God’s greatness and we have never experienced His miraculous love we would obviously doubt His power.

If we do not believe that God is the Creator of all things, we would always be searching for our identity in someone else or something else. Sadly, it would never work. He is God and that’s just the way He is.

Our beliefs influences our thoughts, how we relate to others, what we see as valuable in this life and the lifestyles we pursue.

But whether we believe or not, God is the most powerful being, creator of the Universe. He is the Triune One, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is Love and His love is lasting and unconditional. He is also Holy, has never sinned and cannot. This means he cannot tolerate sin even while His grace may extend to all men. Our decision to believe or not does not influence who God is. He is powerful, we are not. We are His prized creation and He desires to commune with us daily.

This triune God cannot be compared to any world leader and should not be. God is a jealous God and doesn’t take pleasure in playing second fiddle. You and I do not fully understand the greatness of God because we are limited in our thinking. He is infinite, we are finite. He speaks and the earth trembles. This God through his Son Jesus has defeated Lucifer by resurrecting himself from the Grave and winning the victory over death. As a babe He entered this world and created a massive spiritual earthquake. Many rejected Him, but he survived the odds. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and the sooner we recognise this the quicker we experience lasting joy and peace.

  Job 37:5 “God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend.”

My new year’s hope for you!

Happy New Year! It is by the grace of the one and only Almighty God that we have entered into 2021. I am so happy we both made it.

This is my hope for everyone!

I hope you and I remain or become discipline in setting goals and pursuing them. God created us to create, to dream and to build. Don’t let anything deter you. Nothing must stop you from achieving the goals that God has birthed in you.

I hope you and I mature to understand what true love is. It is not selfish, proud, impatient or unkind. Love is unconditional and allows us to uplift others, sharing when we have much or little. It directs us to put others’ first, to empathise, to listen, to patiently rebuke, lovingly pointing out the implications of poor quality decisions. Love does not divide but mends and unite. Keep this in mind as you relate with your family, friends and even enemies.

I hope you and I prosper financially. It is great to be independent to be able to handle your business on your own and in a timely manner. Be wise with your income, spend after thinking carefully about it. Develop a reserve or emergency fund, keep building your savings. Remember always that your finances are a blessing from God and never allow it to become an idol.

I hope our family relationships grow closer. May you seek to appreciate the family God has blessed you with, whether you see them as good or bad. May we demonstrate Christlikeness at home first before we seek to show it to others on the streets.

I hope you and I remain employed or find employment. Whether self-employment or otherwise. May we seek not to offer meagre service but rather our very best. Seek to do your best at work always even when you do not feel appreciated.

I hope you and I consistently seek to keep our mind and body healthy. Exercise is necessary for healthy experiences daily. Find a physical activity or programme that you are comfortable with but would bring you results. Never tolerate toxic thoughts about yourself or others.

Finally, I hope our pride does not hinder us from glorifying God with our lives. May we never be silent when there is a need to speak. May we never speak when there is a need to be silent. May we learn to recognise the voice of God by building intimacy with him. To be intimate with God, we must allow ourselves to find a quiet space where we can communicate with him without distractions. This begins with a relationship with God where we choose to believe what His word says about us:

that we are sinners in need of the gift of Salvation, and Jesus the Son of God died so this gift can be offered to us. We accept by simply repenting of our sins (turning away from lifestyles and behaviours that he does not approve of) and asking him to be Lord of our lives, committing ourselves to obey his teachings, seeking to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit daily.

I hope, and where there is life and a God who majors in doing the seemingly impossible, it is a worthwhile hope. Now let’s do our part to make our hopes reality, starting from this minute.

Happy New Year Everyone!

The Love Dream – Chapters 13-15

Chapter 13 – The Guests

Jason appeared happy to see us and introduced us to his company, two of which were his sisters, Chanice and Charisma. Nicky and I presented Jason with his gifts and he responded with warm hugs and a haughty thank you. We hanged with Jason for a while as the other guests, whom he was entertaining on our arrival, moved inside the main building.

As we stood there, we chatted a bit about the accident. Jason told us that he did some digging and found out that the Driver succumbed to his injuries, but the little boy was o.k.; he suffered a broken arm and a few broken ribs. We found out that the man behind the wheel was his Father. I was saddened to hear that the little boy lost his Dad.

We were so engrossed in our conversation that we didn’t notice the middle-aged couple walking towards us until they were a couple feet away trying to get Jason’s attention. Jason burst with excitement when he noticed them and fondly greeted them apologising for being distracted. He eagerly drew them closer to Nicky and I and Introduced them as his Pastor and First Lady, Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson. Nicky looked extremely happy to meet them; I assumed she heard about them before I did. I extended a hand of greeting to the Jefferson’s, with a smile, not too sure how friendly I should act. After all I barely knew Jason and I was just meeting them for the first time.

There was a few seconds of awkward silence as the Jefferson’s seem to be waiting to find out who we were. Jason picked up on the unasked question and explained that Nicky was his co-worker, and I was Nicky’s friend.  He informed that it was at my home the accident took place. Both Mr and Mrs. Jefferson nodded their heads as if to be putting previously received information together. They impressed me as warm and caring. Pastor Jefferson looked at us and said, “I heard all about it, we all should be grateful, it could’ve been much worse.” We all nodded our heads in agreement.

Jason looked at his watch and said it was time to start. We walked into the building which was nicely decorated. I must’ve counted about twelve (12) tables, each catering for three to five guests. As we sat at the table reserved for us, the Jefferson’s sat next to us. Mrs Jefferson smiled and said, “It seems like you guys are stuck with us tonight.” “Not a problem at all!” I said, as Nicky and I looked at each other and smiled.

I could see that the evening was shaping up to be a great one. I sat there with great expectations as a group of young ladies began singing beautifully. The harmonizing of the voices was heavenly. I found myself listening closely to the words; I noticed they were singing about God’s love. Interesting, I thought, a birthday celebration with a difference. For some reason, I felt my self relaxing; there was a strange stillness in the room, I felt at peace and honoured to be invited. As the great singing continued I anticipated the unfolding of Jason Emery’s Birthday Celebration.

Chapter 14 – The Story

The conversation at our table was light and relaxing; the Jefferson’s told us about their full-time jobs as Pastors. Nicky and I were curious about what pastors do all day and all week when they were pastoring full-time. Listening to them share about a typical day of a Pastor’s life was eye opening.  I always thought of Pastors living a boring life of prayer, counselling and preaching.  On that day I began having more respect for Pastors. The Jefferson’s were relatable, very connected with society and fun to be around. I could tell they were also persons of integrity by observing how they were greeted by others.

The young ladies finished their rendition then led everyone in a special birthday song written by one of Jason’s sisters. It was catchy and easy to learn, a song I will never forget. ” Today we celebrate. Today we lift our hands in praise. It’s his birthday! Come rejoice with us and sing. Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday! To you. To you. Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday! To you! To you! To you!”  I instantly fell in love with the melody.

Jason was beaming and walked up to the small platform at the front and started to speak. “Today, is a very special day for me because it represents continued hopes and dreams. Every time I celebrate a birthday, I feel blessed with another year of opportunities, opportunities to grow, to learn and to make new friends. As this birthday drew closer, I found myself becoming anxious about how I should spend it. I shared my thoughts with Pastor Jefferson, and he suggested that maybe I can just call some friends together and share my story. So that’s what I did.” As Jason continued to speak, I noticed a couple coming out of a backroom which seemed to be the kitchen area and right away I knew they were his parents; Jason was the split image of his Dad.  As they entered the room, Jason paused and smiled at them, introducing them as his Mom and Dad and the chefs for the night. He then continued his story.

“January 2nd, 1991, I left my home on my bicycle not knowing what I was about to encounter.  I was riding freely down Sendal Street about to ride up the incline taking me to the junction when a large boulder came charging towards me. I was riding fast and didn’t know how to escape it. All I could think was God please save me.  What I saw next was unbelievable.  Please understand that this boulder was massive and must have fallen from the cliff above; it was not moving slowly. The moment I uttered those words, I saw the boulder come to a sudden stop. Now let me tell you, this boulder was charging down an incline towards me and was about eight feet in height and maybe seven feet wide. I froze in my tracks afraid to move a muscle. I couldn’t believe that such a large boulder travelling at such speed could suddenly stood moving. I knew that everything that I just saw defied the law of gravity.”

I looked across the room and noticed how everyone was completely locked on to Jason’s story.  As Jason continued the intensity of his story deepened. I felt myself drifting away mentally from the present moment. I could no longer hear Jason’s voice. Before me flashed scenes of my dream, then the embarrassing moment at the Hash when Jason was first introduced to me, then I saw the little boy at the scene of the accident pleading with his eyes for help. I then remembered my prayer for God to spear the young boy’s life. I thought to myself, Jason’s prayer and my prayer were both cries of desperation that were probably answered by God. I felt myself whispering.  “God! Who are you? Are you real? Or are incidences just mere coincidences?”

Chapter 15 – The Mystery

Jason Emery shared much with us. All his stories ended with a miraculous save. It was as if it was all planned out to get his attention. That evening was certainly one with a difference. This young man who looked exactly as the man in my dreams was turning twenty-five and chose to celebrate it with gospel music and the sharing of what he called “his testimony,” and I was invited to take it all in.

Before he left the platform Jason shared a final story with us which left the strongest impression on my mind. “At the age of twenty-one, I met Mr. Glen Jefferson at Riley’s Airport preparing to spend my summer with my grand parents in the U.S. Mr Jefferson was sitting directly opposite from me, reading. The title of the book caught my attention. It read “Man’s greatest folly”. I kept asking myself, “what is man’s greatest folly?  Not making enough money?”. Several possible answers stormed my mind. Mr. Jefferson looked like a descent man, so I decided to go ask him about the contents of his book. I was that brave. I did just that and our conversation led to places I did not imagine.

Mr. Jefferson patiently showed me that man’s folly was to believe that he can enjoy good success without the intervention of Almighty God, the Creator of this World. Mr. Jefferson showed me that men in history have chased popularity, riches and power but have grossly taken for granted the wisdom of God which is available to all. Amid all their fame and fortune they never knew true peace or lasting joy.”

I listened carefully and observed Jason’s facial expressions as he shared the details of what he described as the beginning of his transformation. Jason’s excitement seemed to real to be true. He shared every bit of that conversation with Mr. Jefferson who he later began referring to as Pastor Jefferson. I couldn’t understand his excitement. Why was this encounter so big a deal to a young guy like Jason who was so strikingly handsome and sexy? I felt as if I was missing something. I didn’t get it.

Here we were sitting around listening to stories when we could be dancing to some great music. I wondered, was Jason one of those serious Christian freaks who believed in heaven and hell? Those who seemed not to be able to relate to this world. But, no, couldn’t be, I thought, Jason has been mingling quite well and been able to connect with every one while being very respectful and focused.

Jason credited Jesus, the Son of God, for his transformation. For changing his perspective on life, for setting him on the path of wisdom and good success. Everything about Jason’s encounter sounded unreal but worth coveting after. I wondered what others were thinking.Most of the guest that evening were young adults like me who all seemed to adore Jason. I looked across to Maxine who also seemed to be dazzled by what I chose to see as a performance. For some reason I doubted Jason’s story and felt he was pretending.

How could I know for sure that he is real? I leaned over to Nicky and whispered in her ear. “Is he for real?” Nicky, looked a bit startled then looked at me and said, “Why would you ask that?” I felt a bit ashamed of myself to ask that question. Oh God, I thought. Why do I not believe? I was so consumed with my thoughts that I didn’t realise the beautiful singing started again and Jason was right in front of our table. Pastor Jefferson commended him for sharing his story. I must have been staring at the table while entwined in my doubt.

As I looked up, I made eye contact with Jason and for four seconds we stared at each other. I felt as if he saw right through me sensing my doubts. I looked away and asked Maxine if she was ready to leave. Maxine looked surprised. “Nope, I am having fun.” I realized, I was on my own and decided to try to enjoy the rest of the evening doing my best not to make further eye contact with Jason Emery whose life now seemed a mystery.

We wish to advise all our readers that our Story will continue to develop. The “Love Dream” will return on February 1st, 2021, with Part 11.

We sincerely apologize!

Unfortunately we are unable to post a new Chapter of our Story today! “The Love Dream”. A new Chapter will be posted on Sunday, 13th December, (tomorrow) instead. We sincerely apologize to our readers for any inconvenience caused.

Please know that we appreciate your support!

InspireMe.

The Love Dream – Chapters 10-12

Chapter 10 – The Aftermath Part 1

We watched as they skillfully and professionally carried out their duties removing the man and the boy from the wrecked vehicle. We sat next to Nicky on the pavement in front of the house, safely away from the scene. The cops arrived shortly after the paramedics; I wondered what took them so long. I clearly remembered Officer Thomas as he was the cop who questioned us. Dad answered most of the questions with the rest of us contributing as needed. I felt exhausted; the image of the man and the little boy deeply etched in my mind. As the officer completed his investigation I relocated to the small couch on our front porch. My head was pounding profusely.

A few minutes later I looked up to see Nicky walking towards me with my phone; it was ringing. I looked at it and noticed Jason Emery was calling. I suddenly remembered I was calling Jason to invite him to my birthday party when it all happened. “Hi Jason, I am so sorry, you must’ve…….” Jason quickly interrupted, “Don’t worry about it, I actually answered the call and heard the crash and your initial reactions; I realised that something was terribly wrong.  I contacted Nicky and she was able to tell me what transpired. It was weird hearing and not being able to see what was happening. I felt helpless all I could do was pray.” Jason’s voice was filled with empathy and compassion.  I felt he genuinely cared and was concerned for our well being. I just wanted to be still and listen to his comforting voice. “Are you there?” Jason asked after a few seconds of silence.  “Yes I am. I guess I am still in shock over what we just saw. I’ve seen too much; it’s hard to digest what really happened.” Jason then asked, “Is it ok for me to come over?” Without the slightest hesitation I said, “sure”.

As I rested on the Sofa, I remembered Nicky and I were planning my birthday party. Gosh, the last thing I wanted to do then was think of my birthday celebration.  Here I was filled with anxiety and worry wondering if the man who I saw slumped over the steering wheel was alive and if the scared little boy was alright. I worried about their families and how they may have been affected. Nicky came and sat next to me on the Sofa. She too looked burdened. We shared many similar qualities and empathy was one of them; we deeply cared about others. “You good?” Nicky asked. “Nah, this one hit me hard girl. Really hard.” We discussed what we believed to be the activities that lead to this terrible accident comforting each other with hopeful words. Nicky looked at me and asked, “Weren’t we supposed to try to remove them, what if the jeep caught a fire?”  I wondered about that myself, was it correct to wait that long for the paramedics?  As we sat there in deep thought, we could hear Dad conversing with our neighbours and onlookers. Everyone was sharing their account of what they saw and heard.   

I must’ve fallen asleep on the sofa. I was later awoken by Dad calling me, “Maxine, Max, Jason Emery is here!” He really came, I thought. I felt happy to have his company. I began to see him as a ray of light and there was something about his voice that was calm and reassuring.  I stretched, rubbed my eyes and noticed Nicky was gone.  As I looked to the right of the house I could see Jason fully engaged with the small group of people gathered.  My head continued to throb, and I decided to go find a pain killer and water, with the hope that I can feel better and join the conversation.  As I entered the kitchen searching for medication, I thought about my mother and how she often nursed me to better health as a little girl.

Chapter 11 – The Aftermath – Part II

It was approximately two and a half hours since we heard the crash and hastened outside to see a vehicle perched on top of our broken front wall. The small crowd dissipated except for our family, Nicky, Jason, and Dad’s younger brother, who just happened to be popping by. Rena had prepared some chicken burgers and served us along with passion fruit juice. Rena’s show of hospitality was very much appreciated. Some of us chilled on the porch while others were on the lawn; everyone grateful for something to eat. I looked at my phone, and noticed it was 12:10 p.m. No wonder we seemed so hungry. “Thank you Rena!” Dad said. “Very thoughtful of you.” “Thanks Dad.” She replied.

Shortly after our welcomed lunch, I observed everyone glancing at their phones and watches. Jason stood up and told us that he had to run an errand before 1:00 pm and personally thanked Rena for the delicious burgers. Nicky and I simultaneously walked towards Jason’s direction escorting him to his…”Wait a minute! Nicky exclaimed. “You mean you came here with a motorcycle and we didn’t realise it! Mmmm, full of surprises eh!” Jason looked at Nicky and they both laughed. At the same time, my brother raced across to have a closer look at Jason’s bike. “Thank you for coming Jason.” I said. “We really appreciate it.” As Jason mounted his bike and started the engine, he looked towards my direction and made eye contact. “I had to be here, especially after hearing everything over the phone.” He paused, looked away, then said. “No problem Maxine.”

As Jason took his exit it dawned on me that I never told him why I was calling him earlier that morning. We began walking back to the porch and Nicky asked if I wanted to continue planning my birthday barbecue. Before I could respond, Dad belted out from the living room, “absolutely! Why would you allow this incident to stop you from celebrating your birthday?” Nicky and I looked at each other and smiled because deep down we wanted to feel better and we knew focusing on my birthday would certainly help.

Within the hour, we were done calling all our invitees; a total of fifteen persons. I sent Jason a message to tell him why I was calling as I assumed, he was still travelling home. I didn’t want him to receive my invitation too late. Dad and I planned to do the shopping later that day as we were cognisant of the fact that the weekdays could be busy. Uncle Shawn stuck around for a while and even tagged along with us later that evening to pick up items for the event.

What a day, I thought, as I slumped on to the living room rug searching for the remote for the stereo. I felt like relaxing with fine music playing in the background; it was an ideal way to unwind. Despite the unexpected happenings of the day, I managed to accomplish my tasks. I finally found music fitting for my mood and made myself more comfortable on the floor. My phone rang; it was Jason. “Hey, I just called to say “yes”, I would surely love to attend your birthday barbecue.” “Great”, I answered. “I do hope you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.”  I could hear Jason’s smile. “I will be just fine. I hope you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable at my birthday event, don’t forget my invitation comes first.” “Well let’s see, I am planning to be there for sure.” We said goodbye and I laid on the floor reminiscing on how crazy and interesting the day was.  As I closed my eyes, the various scenes of the day floated across my mind, from the crashing sound of metal and glass to a little boy’s whimper, then soft chatter of the small crowd and then finally the comforting voice of Jason Emery. What a day it was! I thought. What a day!

Chapter 12The Outfit

It was Tuesday evening, and it was just about time to leave for Jason Emery’s birthday celebration. I stood in front the mirror all dressed up wearing a mint green off-the-shoulder jumpsuit and a pair of brown leather sandals that had several straps around the ankle. The jumpsuit was one of my favourite pieces of clothing, given to me by Rena last Thanksgiving. Every now and then Rena would express her strange love for me by spoiling me with a new clothing item and no special occasion was needed. My sister was very fashionable and buoyant in her dressing; she paid attention to the latest trends and was often scouting the popular stores online.

As I stood in front the mirror, Rena came over to my room and looked at me from head to toe. I stood quietly patiently waiting for the inevitable feedback. “Not bad. Your hair though, it’s too neat, makes you seem tense.” I looked at Rena confused about her description. “What do you mean?” I replied. “You need to soften it up a bit, create a more casual and relaxing look.” My sister knew I was not the fancy type, she also knew that once I took a bath and had clean clothes to wear, I was happy. She realised how lost I was and before I knew it, Rena was adjusting my hairstyle. I allowed her to do as she pleased because I trusted her judgement. Added to that I really missed my sister; I felt as if we were growing apart and it was painful.

Rena made me look even more beautiful; instead of a neat bun she rearranged my hair into a ponytail allowing a few curls to drop at the side. I proceeded to retrieve my bag and Jason’s birthday gift and headed out the door after hearing Nicky’s car horn. We decided to travel together that evening and I looked forward to our time together.

Fifteen minutes later, we were at our destination; “The Sunset Club House”. As we drove towards the parking area, I noticed Jason at the front of the main building entertaining some of his guests. I found myself staring at what he was wearing feeling that there was something pleasantly familiar about it. I quickly looked away trying not to make it too obvious. We came out the vehicle and as we started walking towards Jason it hit me. Jason Emery was wearing a khaki-coloured long pants and a white linin long sleeve shirt. This was the exact outfit the young man in my dream was wearing. I took a deep breath and rubbed my palms against each other. Alright, this is absurd, I thought, perhaps I need to see a Shrink. My mouth and throat suddenly felt dry and I struggled to swallow. All of a sudden it felt extremely weird being there and exactly as experienced when we first met, I wanted to disappear.

Chapters 7-9

Chapter 7 – The Secret

Since my last encounter with Jason Emery, I couldn’t get his invitation and his voice out of my mind. On Wednesday, I had promised him an answer in a couple days, and it was now Friday. Nicky and I met at Sammy’s bar after work that evening and of course brought each other up to date with the latest. Nicky was excited to share her success in finding a suitable apartment and I was so happy for her. My girl was becoming more independent and I looked forward to crashing at her place and chatting all night. I then informed Nicky that Jason had invited me to his birthday brunch and it was the day before my birthday. Nicky looked startled. “He did?” She paused for a second then said, “He did not mention it. Well, great, we will both be there. He has invited other co-workers as well.” “But I barely know the guy,” I responded, “We met only once, why would he invite me? As a matter of fact, I thought you may have been the one to put him up to this.”  

Nicky looked at me and for the first time I saw a distance in her eyes that made me uneasy, I knew Nicky so well. I got that gut feeling that she was refraining from telling me something.  As I considered the possibility, I looked away as a pang of guilt stabbed my mid-section; I remembered that I never explained to Nicky the reason for my awkward behavior, when Jason was introduced to me. I never revealed to her that Jason looked exactly like the young man in my dreams. All of a sudden I was confused and wanted to be invisible. Here I was with my best friend and for the first time I was seriously struggling, wondering whether I should reveal my secret.

We sat in silence for approximately fifteen seconds, then Nicky turned to me with a shrug and said.  “I believe Jason felt comfortable inviting you because he knows you and I are cool.”  As she spoke I felt a slight release of my inner tension as I thought, yes, we are cool. Nicky and I are just fine. It couldn’t be more than two seconds before Nicky blurted out “Was Jason Emery the young man in your dream?”  I turned to look at Nicky and immediately wanted to defend myself. I was caught off guard and instinctively wanted to evade the truth and the possible revelation of my secret.  Now more than ever I felt my secret was a threat to the quality of our relationship. I squeezed my eyes shut as Nicky stared at me, I could feel her eyes searching me, piercing into my soul. I felt terrible! 

Nicky knew me too well; my silence was loud and undoubtedly provided the answer she was looking for. After bracing myself, realizing I was cornered, I looked at Nicky and said, “It was my intention to tell you all along, it’s just that for some reason I wasn’t comfortable.” “Why wouldn’t you be comfortable Maxine, it’s me? You told me all about the dream, remember?” “Yes” I answered. “But… for some reason I held back. Girl, you had me wondering.”  By then, I had shaken off my reluctance reminding myself that I was speaking to my best friend, someone I knew and trusted for a long time. “I was wondering if you had a thing for Jason.”  Nicky looked at me with a smirk on her face.  “And if I do, he is the man of your dreams, right?” “Nicky!” I snapped and stared at her with a playful scowl. Nicky laughed and looked at me, “Jason is a Christian Maxine, and I am not.”  I looked at my best friend, a little surprised with her answer and thought to myself, neither am I.

Chapter 8 – The Answer

Saturday morning I woke up staring at the ceiling as I remembered what transpired the day before. I could not help pondering for a while on Nicky’s Statement “Jason is a Christian and I am not”. These words possessed my mind and I began thinking deeply about the meaning of Nicky’s utterance. I sighed to myself, pulled out my journal and started to write.

“Dear journal here we are again. I think I need help, help to exist as if this dream never happened. Before this dream life was less complicated. I am focusing on this dream too deeply. Nicky doesn’t make it easier with her conclusions. Yes, her conclusions seem to indicate that she is attracted to Jason Emery and is a bit disappointed that he is a Christian. What does it mean to be a Christian anyway? Aren’t we all Christians? My soul searches for answers.”

Placing my pen on my tummy, I closed my journal and whispered to myself, “Who is a Christian?” I started searching to the left of my room scanning my bookshelf for my bible. I couldn’t recall the last time I saw it. I thought to myself maybe if I read it, I would find answers. My bible was no where to be found. I sat up scratching my head, “boxing my brain” about its possible location.

As I tried to figure out what may have happened to my bible, I thought of Mom and called her. I remembered receiving the said bible as a birthday gift on my sixteenth birthday. It was a beautiful bible and very special to me. I kept it in the box and in the gift wrap and never let it out of my sight. It was royal blue and had a yellow suede book marker. My countenance lightened as mom’s voice could be heard at the other end. We chatted for a while and I reminded her about the bible she gave me. She was overjoyed to hear that it still meant the world to me. She wasn’t too concerned about me not finding it and said, “Ask your sister”.  Oh yes, Mothers know best, I was convinced that Rena had it.

It was fun to update Mom on activities at home. My mother was average height, a little chubby and of light complexion. She wore a very low-cut hairstyle and was simple but tasteful in her dressing. She was a go getter and loved to achieve. Hosting and entertaining  friends and family brought her immense joy; she was a great hostess. I often remembered great times socializing with our friends and family. It was usually a Barbecue or a cook-up of some sort. When my mother left, our social life suffered. I missed her in a thousand ways.

Before we said goodbye, I asked Mom if she thought I should accept Jason’s invitation to his birthday brunch. Of  course, Mom was updated on the Jason Emery story as well. Mom responded and said, “I see no danger bumble bee (her pet name for me), I think you should”. Having mom’s approval was it for me; I was finally comfortable and ready to give an answer. I was also inspired by her to hold a barbecue party for my birthday the following day. She  thought It would be a great way to bring back music, laughter and hospitality back to our home. Oh, how I wished she could be present.

Immediately after Mom’s call I contacted Jason to give him “the answer”. Unfortunately, the call went unanswered so I quickly sent a text indicating to him that I would accept his invitation; I said “yes”. My tummy grumbled and I was surprised to see an entire hour had passed since I woke up. Next up for me was some breakfast. As I advanced to the kitchen, I noticed a text response from Jason Emery which said, “Great, I am looking forward to having you.” I responded with a thumbs up. I was relieved that it was finally settled.

Chapter 9 – The Accident
On entering the kitchen I saw my sister and asked, “Rena do you have my bible? “It’s on your bed.”  “Wow”, I stepped back a bit surprised by her unfriendly tone. I suspected she overheard me talking to mom. This big sister of mine always seemed to be lurking around my safe place and often seemed to be aggravated by me, my life, my conversations and even my sweet sleep. I sighed at her response and refused to answer wishing she would be less hostile

As the day progressed, our family sought to be productive. Rena was cleaning her room, while Dad was in the kitchen doing a million things; Dad loved the kitchen. I could hear someone raking outside and I assumed it was my brother. I tried to get some washing done then proceeded to clean the bathroom. My favourite chores were washing, cleaning the bathroom, and cooking. I tried staying away from dusting and sweeping as much as possible and I didn’t like to mop floors.

As the evening drew near, I anticipated Nicky coming over to help me plan my birthday party. I was a bit anxious that we were just beginning to plan but I felt supported by my family and my close friends and was positive that it would work out. It was my intention to keep it simple and sweet. I heard the knock on the door and with high spirits welcomed Nicky inside. We quickly created our to do list and got to work. We had to decide on the starting time, invitees, eats, and other attractions. Dad had indicated earlier that he would take care of my birthday cake, drinks and the music. Nicky and I were making commendable progress. We sought to contact everyone on the invitation list right away. I suddenly had a thought and said, “Nicky I must return the kindness shown to me by Jason Emery, I must invite him.”. Nicky’s approval was important. She looked at me and asked whether I thought he would fit in. “Well…” I responded, “He may not come but at least I think he should be invited.” Nicky agreed and I proceeded to contact Jason.

My phone fell to the ground, hitting the tiled floor with a heavy thud as the house shook, following a heavy sound of metal slamming into a fixed structure, a blood curling scream, glass shattering and the sound of an engine rumbling. We all raced to the door calling out to Joel because we knew his last location to be outside. I felt numb and cold. As we opened the door, we were relieved to see Joel making his way to the front of the house, just as shocked as we were. A few feet away was a woman standing staring at the site of the accident trembling and shaking furiously. We concluded she must’ve been the one who screamed.

Our front wall was collapsed with a wrangler jeep on top of the rubble. The windshield was smashed in and we could see a man’s body in the driver’s seat slumped over the steering wheel appearing to be motionless. We could hear a soft whimpering of a child. Dad shouted, ” Call 911! Call 911!” My sister wasted no time and amidst the confusion and shock, managed to make the call.

My soul cried out for mom. If she was here, she would know exactly what to do. Dad cautiously approached the mangled vehicle and noticed a little boy pinned behind the driver’s seat. Dad motioned to us to come closer; we were so concerned for the little boy; he must’ve been around four or five. “Oh my God!” Nicky exhaled. It was too much for her. She slumped to the pavement and I encouraged her to stay there.

Dad searched for leaking fuel while Joel, Rena and I sought to comfort the little boy. He was fully awake, his eyes widely opened as fear gripped his little body. His whimper came out of his mouth as if he was experiencing intense pain that hindered him from crying freely. One of his arms fell limp at his side and he seemed to plead with his eyes for help. We continued to comfort him with words while we anxiously awaited the Paramedics. It was difficult to wait. I felt so helpless and weak.  I found myself kneeling against a nearby stone and positioned myself to ensure the little boy could still see me.

Do you think the man in the driver’s seat was the father of the little boy?

Next chapter will be posted next Saturday.

Pursue wholeness!

Have you ever experienced a newness that propels you to do all the things that you wanted to do for years? All of a sudden you find the motivation to move, to act and just like that you start living your dreams. This wave sometimes come after years of spiritual stagnation or being told you can’t, or telling yourself you can’t or a struggling illness or toxic relationship. When it comes, don’t ask why, embrace it.

Sometimes the wave of newness is short-lived, other times it brings sustainable change. What is important to remember is that when the newness is short-lived we should not become demotivated. Instead, keep persevering.

Maybe you are experiencing what I am experiencing now; a new wave has come over me and I love it. It is renewed confidence, renewed drive, renewed hope. It is the next level where my mind seems, more than ever, to embrace the seemingly impossible as possible. It is that time when negativity cannot stick, its got to go. It is that position where I look forward, more than ever, to wholesomeness in Christ, more than popularity and material possessions. It is that blessed space where the inner peace I feel abounds and I can’t find the words to adequately explain it. It even comes at a time when challenges are very present, but I don’t see the challenge as an obstacle, but rather as a golden opportunity to grow.

It is a sustained moment of gratitude that allows me to be content and remain joyful when everyone else is restless and discontented.

I urge you to pursue wholesomeness by accepting the flawed you and the existence of an Almighty God, who really thinks about you and wants you to enjoy unconditional love, joy, and peace, right here, right now, and even after you have ceased to exist on this Planet.

Family moments – Gratitude!

Family moments can be created around just about anything; humour, food, travelling, a movie, a game, a song, learning something new, welcoming a new baby, attending a sporting event, creating something together and the list goes on and on.    I am so passionate about family moments that I am always anticipating my weekends and public holidays.

How does your family build special memories? What are your favourite activities?

We often get caught up in the school-work-home cycle and many times prefer to just relax at home on weekends and on public holidays.  What works well is planning in advance and planning our activities at a time when we can afford to slow down a bit; a time when not too much is going on around us.    Some activities we enjoy are going to the beach, walking and hiking, visiting family, watching movies, attending church,  going to the theatre, watching basketball and more. I believe though, our most favourite moment, is just being home together.

Recently, we engaged ourselves in an activity that turned out to be much more meaningful than we expected.  Maybe you may wish to try this with your family.

Activity

Each person was asked to walk with pen and paper.  The timer was set for three minutes and everyone was expected to begin writing things they were grateful for.  At the end of the three minutes, each family member shared the items on their list.  If you had the same item on your list, you had to indicate so by raising your hand.

I was amazed by the number of things we thought of combined.  It was a lovely experience and we all enjoyed it.

I wish to share some of the things I wrote on my list. Some may seem insignificant or minor to you, but that’s o.k., as you would not know the story behind the gratitude being expressed.

Yesterday I was thankful for these things and today I am more thankful:

  • My Job
  • Quiet Time
  • Healthy food
  • Ice cream
  • The Rain and The Sun
  • God’s word
  • A Spiritual Foundation
  • Education
  • Technology
  • Equipment
  • Hope
  • Dreams
  • Transportation
  • The ability to move
  • Peace
  • My Parents
  • Co-workers
  • A structured Government maintaining order
  • A vehicle of my own
  • Coconut water
  • Fresh air
  • The Beach
  • A bed
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Intelligence
  • Sounds
  • The ability to share
  • My body

What are your thankful for today?

I inspire you today to be the one to initiate a family activity.  Create great memories and don’t forget to pull out the camera.