Surviving the College Drop Off

It’s been a frequent topic for therapy these last few weeks.  “My child is leaving for college.  Will she be all right?  I’m going to be an empty nester.  I’m not sure what is next.”  These are common concerns and juicy issues to explore.  I tell all these parents the same thing: It’s going to be okay.  You will probably shed a few tears when you drop your child off.  Well, let’s be honest; you may ugly cry.  But the tears will eventually stop and you will get a new normal.  A different kind of good.  By the time Christmas break is over you may be counting the days until he goes back to school and you can get your house back.  But if you were sitting in my office and we were having this conversation, I would ask you to do these things:

  1. Trust your parenting.  You did and great job, Mom and Dad!  You have poured 18 years into your children.  You have made sure they were well cared for.  And you have done everything in your power to give them a good start in life.  You made sure they ate properly, had regular checkups, you put braces on their teeth and took them to the dermatologist.  You made sure they went to the best schools you could afford, either your neighborhood schools or private.  You helped them with reading and spelling, and later, you may have paid someone to help them with algebra.  You took them to soccer games, dance classes, band concerts, football practice, school plays, and cheerleader tryouts.  You sat in the scorching heat and freezing cold, and you cheered them on. You nursed them through ear infections, breakups with first loves, and mean girls.  You kissed their boo-boos and tried to mend their broken hearts. You prayed with them and took them to church.  You tried your best to keep them out of trouble.  Everything you have done for the last 18 years was preparing them for this moment.  You may be having a slight sense of panic (as I did) over the things you forgot to tell them. If that is the case, write them a letter and leave it in their dorm room.  Tell them the things you wish your 18-year old self had known.  And then leave them.  This is not the end of parenthood, but your role will change. One practical note: If at all possible, don’t be too quick to hand off their room at home to the next child in line or to convert it into your hobby room.  They will want to come home to the familiar for a while.  
  2. Trust your child.  Unless your child proves you can’t trust her, back off.  Don’t be a helicopter parent.  Let hercall you.  And when she does call, focus on her concerns instead of the things you are worried about.  Give her the grace and space to make a few mistakes.  These are teaching opportunities, a time for your child to learn the difference between having a failure and being a failure.  It may come as a surprise, but you will no longer have access to your student’s grades.  You may think this is unfair, especially if you are the one paying for his college.  But because of FERPA laws, this is the way it is.  Hopefully you have they type of honest and supportive relationship that will make it easy for him to tell you if his grades are floundering.  By now, you should have made him responsible for his own grades instead of constantly checking to make sure he did his work. Practical note: Don’t do every little thing to unpack her and set up her room.  Allow her the autonomy to do it her way, even if you think you could do it better.
  3. Trust this time in your life.  This is not the end; it’s a new beginning. Parenthood may have encompassed much of your life, but now it is time for you.  Use some of that energy for yourself, to pursue some of the things you haven’t had time to do.  If you are married, it is a time to get reacquainted with your spouse.  Hopefully you have been nurturing the relationship all along so you are not now finding yourself married to a stranger.  But in any case, neither of you is the same person you were at age 22.  Try some new things together.  If you are single you may be ready to find a new special someone.  This is a time to try some new things for you.  Take up a new hobby; spend time with friends, and travel (if you still have some money after paying the bursar’s bill).  
  4. Trust your God.  This is the most important.  Your child has been a precious gift, but he has been on loan to you. It is time to put him back into the hands of the One who loves him even more than you do.  Ask God to help you release your grip.  God has a plan for your child, but He also has a plan for you. A plan for a new chapter for what the poet Mary Oliver calls your one wild and precious life.  And take care of your knees because you will need to stay on them! 

TIME TO SAY GOODBYE

Retirement.  It is finally here.  I will officially close my practice at the end of August, and so I have begun a series of goodbyes.  Hard goodbyes.  I have said this many times, but I must say it again.  Sharing the lives of others has been a privilege.  The trials and joys, the heartbreaks and the victories, the endings and new beginnings have been my great joy.  If you have been my client I want to share a little secret: you have helped me! It’s hard to explain, but it’s true. As a psychologist I am called to be both objective and relational.  When we enter into therapy together, you allow me to walk part of your journey with you. And as I have entered your lives, I have been changed.  Therapy is a sacred hour, and you have honored me by sharing your life with me.

I am not quite sure what my next season will look like.  Some things are starting to take shape.  I know I want some days just to do nothing except maybe read a good book.  I am grateful that I have been allowed these bonus days with my husband since his illness.  We are talking about things to do together, places we want to see for the first time and places we want to see one more time before we die.  I have closets that need to be cleaned and things to be put in order.  There is a big crate of photos that I need to organize.  I want to spend more time with God, I want to write more, and I hope still get asked to speak.  I want to spend more time with friends and family, doing fun things and making new memories.  I’m thinking I might take up cooking again, but I’m not rushing into the kitchen!

But most of all, I want to be useful.  My life calling has been to help the hurting, and I want to continue doing that, but in a less structured way.  I’m not sure what that will look like, so I am just putting one foot in front of the other right now.  And I am asking God to direct my steps and order my days.  

BOUNDARIES: DO YOU HAVE THEM?

We all know what a “No Trespassing” sign means.  It marks a line that designates private property.  We are not to cross that line without permission.  We also know that there may be penalties for crossing that line without permission.  You probably have no problem with a fence around your yard or locking your doors at night.  But many of us have problems setting personal boundaries.  

A personal boundary is that invisible “fence” that separates me from others.  It is where I begin and end.  Just like a fence, personal boundaries help us keep the goodin and the bad out.  When people come into my office we often talk about their boundaries.  Some of them have weak or no boundaries.  It is like a storm came through and blew their fence on the ground.  People walk all over them.  

Some examples of weak boundaries would be:

  • An inability to separate my feelings from others.  I allow someone else’s mood or feelings to dictate how I feel.  I can’t be happy unless they are happy.
  • I feel overly responsible for someone else.  I think it is my job to fix them, to please them, or to make them happy.  That is not my job.  Conversely, I may feel it is someone else’s job to make me happy.  I am responsible to others and formyself.
  • I blame others for my problems.
  • I continually sacrifice my plans and dreams for others.
  • I over-share private information even though doing so makes me feel too vulnerable.

Instead of weak boundaries some people have rigid boundaries.  They are walled off from others.  They have no gate in their fence that allows the good to come in.

Some examples of rigid boundaries are: 

  • An inability to be emotionally intimate with the significant people in my life.
  • An inability to take a risk to trust.
  • Having to have things done my way because my way is the right way.
  • An inability to be wrong and say so.
  • Being so walled-off no one can get through.  This may cost me friendships.

Deciding to set boundaries may feel risky, but the payoff is so worth it.  Others will either get on board, or they won’t.  If they won’t, you may have decisions to make.

Here are some tips for setting your boundaries:

  • When you need to set a boundary with someone, do it clearly, appropriately, an in as few words as possible.
  • You cannot set a boundary and take care of another person’s feelings at the same time.
  • Anger, rage, complaining, and whining are clues that boundaries need to be set.
  • Expect resentment from those who are not used to your newly set boundaries.  They will most likely push back.
  • A support system is helpful as you strive to establish and maintain boundaries.
  • Strive for balance and flexibility.  You don’t want your fence on the ground, but you don’t walls either.  The goal is to have a healthy sense of self and to treat others the way you would like to be treated.

WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

Our church (First Baptist Jenks) has been doing a series called “Who’s Your One?”  It is a focus on personal evangelism, and was born out of our pastor’s heart to reach those who don’t know Christ as Savior and Lord. He is equipping us to share our personal story with that “one” person God lays on our heart.

Why are we so reluctant to share our spiritual journey when we are so eager to share every other aspect of our lives?  Just take a look at social media!  We share EVERTHING!  In fact we sometimes over share.  I confess to being one of the guilty ones.  I love sharing both my random and more profound thoughts.  I like sharing pictures of my family, beautiful vacation spots, and even my dogs.  And, by the way, I love seeing what you post.  And we share in our conversations.  We share where to get the best deals, the best service, the best food or the best workout.  So with all this sharing going on, why is it so hard to talk about God?  What are we afraid of?

We are afraid we won’t do it right, that we will mess it up somehow.  If I am just telling my unique story, how am I going to do it wrong?  I just tell a few details about my life before I became a Christian, how I came to know Jesus, and a little about what life has been like since.  Or if I am talking with someone going through a trial, I may talk about how the Lord walked with me through something similar.  Jesus told us to share as we go (Matt 10:7).  As we are going about our daily business we are to share the gospel. We sometimes think it has to be a formal presentation.  It doesn’t have to be a knock-on-the-door-hit-them-on-the-head-with-a-King-James-Bible thing.  In fact, I think that is where we often get it wrong.  Just share as you go.  That requires stepping out of my own life and actually noticing people.

We are afraid of offending someone.  Or we are afraid of looking foolish.  Guess what? Those things will happen.  The message of the cross is offensive to those who do not believe.  “How can you say there is only one way to God?”  Because Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).  And to the intellectuals, the simplicity of the gospel sounds senseless.  “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).  Yes, some will be offended, and some will think we are just plain dumb.  But we must share anyway.

We are afraid we don’t know enough about the Bible.  One of my favorite quotes is from D. T. Niles: “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”  You don’t have to understand everything involved in bread making to show someone where to get bread.  You just share your own hunger, how you found it, and where they can get it.  Just share what you know.  You need to be able to have some scriptures ready to share, but it doesn’t have to be a lot.  When I share my story, I quote the verses that moved me, that led me to salvation.

Maybe we are afraid of revealing too much about ourselves, afraid of being vulnerable.  Listen; if you are a Christian, someone took a risk with you.  It could be the neighbor who took notice of you, the friend who invited you to coffee, or the pastor who took the risk of setting his life course in the direction of winning lost souls.  When you share your story, it strengthens you.  Our speaker yesterday said, “Your story should overwhelm you.”  I wish I could tell my story without choking up, but when I think of what God has done in my life I am blown away.  Maybe you think your story is not dramatic enough.  Perhaps you were brought up in a Christian home, came to Christ as a child, and have lived a pretty good life.  The drama is what God saved you from! You were saved from the wrong turns in life, from the damage of sin, and most of all, from the fires of hell. 

So in our church, we have been encouraged to ask God to give us One.  Give us one person to be burdened for, to pray for, and to share with. I know who my One is.  I have told him where the bread is.  The rest is up to God.     

GIRLFRIENDS

This morning as I was listening to the words of I Need Thee Every Hour, I thought about how God is always ready to meet my deepest needs, often before I ask or am even aware of them.  For the past week or so I have been blessed with an abundance of girl time.  It wasn’t really planned to happen all at once…I guess it was just God’s timing. So I’ve had a couple of lunches and even a precious sleepover, a grown-up slumber party.  Some of these girls have been my friends for years and years. Others have been more casual friends, but these friendships have been deepened in the last few days.  I have even been blessed with a new friend.

When I was getting my degrees I had to lay my friendships down for a while.  It was a conscious but difficult decision.  I just didn’t have the time.  Every day was a school day, and for two years those days included a commute to Stillwater and back.  Nights and weekends were for studying, family, and church.  There just weren’t enough hours for joining the ladies who lunch. I say that as if girl lunches are a frivolous thing but to me, they are precious.  However I had to put them on the back burner even after I got my doctorate. Because after school came a time of getting licensed and growing a psychology practice, although I was able to squeeze in a ladies Bible study for a few years.  But life got busy, so I felt I needed to give that up too.

These days I am winding down my career and looking forward to retirement.  And I am finding more time for my women friends.  And I have gone back to that ladies Bible study.  There is just something so special about girl time, the time with trusted friends that allow you to let your hair down and be real.  These are unguarded moments, bound by our love for the Lord.  When we get together we laugh and we cry.  We share our secrets, our hurts, our failures and victories, our fears, and most of all, we share our God.  We pray together.  We pray for each other and for the families we have.  Yesterday a sweet friend showed me a prayer list she carries around on a note card.  She has had it for years.  I recognized many of the names on that card, including my daughters and grandchildren. I had no idea that she had been praying for them all this time.  Another friend has been a mentor and special friend to one of my girls, and I have a special love for her daughter.

As I think about these friendships, I see how God has worked to bring us together.  We have all been interconnected even though we may not have known it.  It may have seen like chance at the time, but looking back I can see His design.  One woman has sweetly pursued time with me. We have a friend in common and the three of us have determined to get together once a month.  Another woman has been walking parallel to me many for many years, but for some of those years we were merely acquaintances.  At one time she actually lived around the corner.    Now I realize the Lord was trying to get my attention.  “You need her in your life!”   I get it, Lord.  A brand new friend hugged me and said how happy she is that God put us together.  I look forward to that friendship deepening.   

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonderful women in my family.  I know they have special roles in my life, but I actually likethem.  There is nothing as special as a day with my daughters and granddaughters. Sisters, nieces, and cousins, and those special women who are no longer with us…God has blessed me with many wise and wonderful women.

So this morning in my prayer journal I wrote a thank you note to God.  I thank him for the friendship of godly women.  Some friends I get to see every Sunday at church, while others live far away…one even in Kenya.  Some I haven’t seen in a long time but I still carry them in my heart. I know I could call on them in a time of need, and they could do the same with me.  I have sweet friends I have known since high school, and though I don’t get to see them very often, I still count them as treasured friends. When we get together we pick up right where we left off.  These friends nurture my soul.  I pray the words of the hymn, “God be with Thee till we meet again.”  

I have decided that girl time is essential.  I hope to be a better friend and to do a better job of cultivating and maintaining friendships.  And I pray that I will be aware when God brings an important relationship right in front of my face.  I need my tribe of special women.

WANT STORMS

I want a new car.  I want to take a cruise.  I want a designer handbag, a kitchen remodel..no a bigger house, a boat…heck, make that a yacht!  I want, I want, I want!  Does any of this sound familiar?  Everyday we are assaulted with advertisements designed to convince us that we need more stuff, more exciting experiences. If you dwell on these messages you might even convince yourself that you are entitled to these things.  And if all these messages were not enough, you have the Joneses.  You know, those friends and acquaintances that have the shiny new thing.  The upwardly mobile that keep attaining higher status, while you stay stuck in the same place.

This morning while I was getting dressed I was daydreaming about something I want to do, a place I want to go.  The longer I thought about it, the more it changed from a daydream to an actual plan. I’m really ashamed to admit this, because I get to go a lot.  It’s not like I’m travel-deprived.  But before I could start googling hotels, the Holy Spirit chimed in.  “Have you talked to the Lord about this?  Is this the best way to spend money?  Is there something else you should be doing?  Then I remembered a Bible verse:

Godliness with contentment is great gain1 Timothy 6:6 NIV

The New Living Translation specifies “true godliness,” and “great wealth.”  God wants me to seek Him, not more stuff.  He wants me to experience contentment.  Contentment is a great feeling. It is awareness that I have everything I need. It is a stillness of soul.  But when I get caught in a “want storm,” it doesn’t feel good.  A want storm is an endless craving for more and more, bigger and better, shinier and prettier.  And that craving is never satisfied with material things.  

God desires to give me “great wealth.”  The truth is, He has already provided it, He just wants me to be aware, to experience it. A few weeks ago I received a phone call at work from an attorney in Canada looking for an heir to an estate he was representing.  Even though I knew there was no way it could be me, for a brief second I had that “what if” feeling, excitement over a surprise bequest.  I think we have all had that fleeting thought of inheriting from a long-lost uncle.  Well Jesus, as my Elder Brother has left me a fortune!  When I am sitting quietly with Him, I have access to it.  And I am then gratefully aware of all the blessings He has bestowed on me.  I am content.

Lord, forgive me for the times I get caught up in wanting material things that never satisfy.  Teach me to be always aware of the difference between wants and needs.  Create a spirit of gratitude in me so that I am always mindful of my blessings.  Teach me “true godliness” and help me to seek after it.  And thank you for the “great wealth” that comes with knowing You.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.   Phil. 4:19 NLT

THOSE WHO WAITED

Today is the 75thanniversary of D-Day.  I’ve been watching and listening to the television coverage, thankful that I get to see the ceremonies.  I marvel at the courage of those young men—boys really—who jumped into those landing crafts, knowing they stood a good chance of being killed.  The tributes from dignitaries have told their stories far better than I can.  But as I listen to these remarkable stories I can’t help but think about those who waited at home.

They didn’t have 24-hour television news.  They had radios and they watched newsreels at the movies.  What was it like to listen to the radio coverage and wonder if your son, husband, brother, or neighbor was on those beaches?  Those who waited also made great sacrifices.  I think of those of the World War I generation like my grandparents.  They knew about war first hand, having endured “the war to end all wars.”  And now they were called to offer up their sons. I remember my grandmother telling me that all the boys who went to war came home changed.  How could they not be changed?  My grandmother knew if her sons came home, they would be different.  

Her generation waited. John Milton said it best: “They also serve who only stand and wait.”  But while they waited they prayed, they served in USOs, they clipped ration coupons, some went to work, and they waited for letters to let them know their loved ones were still alive.  I think of my paternal grandmother, a widow with only one living child, my father who went to war at eighteen.  She sacrificed.  I think of my mom’s mother who had one son in Europe, another in the Pacific, and a daughter who waited for word of her young husband.  The waiting must have been agonizing.  Although technically not a part of the Greatest Generation, they too were great.  They were called upon to be brave, and if necessary, to make the ultimate sacrifice of their children.  So to those who waited, I also say thank you for your sacrifice.  

Today is a day to remember, but to also pray.  As I offer a prayer of gratitude to God for deliverance from evil, I also pray for our world, that we may never do this again.  I pray for peace and freedom, but I know that peace and freedom come with a high cost.  Just ask those who waited.  

STORMS

We are accustomed to extreme weather in Oklahoma, but this week has gotten our attention and tried our patience.  I’m talking storms!  I’m talking frog-strangling rains, baseballs of hail, bolts of lightening, rivers rising, dams overflowing, sirens blaring, and cell phones shrieking with ear-splitting warnings. And tornados!  Yesterday we had two dozen that hit the ground and numerous that didn’t.  A popular meme on social media called it “drop-a-witch-on-a-house” weather.  

So like most Oklahomans, we have a “fraidy hole.”  In our case, the only interior “room” in our house is a small closet under the stairs. And like most such closets, ours has slowly been accumulating stuff.  Jerry kept assuring me that in case of an actual tornado he could have that space emptied in seconds.  I wasn’t so sure, so on Monday when warnings were dire, we (I) decided that we should clean it out and make room for two humans and two dogs.  Mission accomplished.  It always feels so good to clean a space and get rid of junk…including a box still packed from our old house.  If we haven’t needed it in eighteen years, we probably don’t need it.

The point is, now we have a place to go when storms are coming right at us.  A place of safety, of refuge.  But where do we go when the storms of life threaten us?  When there is a different type of peril, one that threatens to overwhelm us?  I’m thinking of those I know with serious life-threatening illnesses.  And I’m thinking of their families, so concerned about the loss that might be coming.  I’m thinking of those I know who are walking through the valley of bereavement, who are flooded with rivers of grief, and blindsided by sudden memories that release fountains of tears again.  There are those who are going through financial storms, so worried about the wolf at the door.   And those who are walking through relationship storms, including the storm of divorce or estrangement from a family member.  And there are those who are scared to death about a child who has veered from a safe path.  

Where do you go when these types of storms are bearing down on you?  You go to your interior safe room.  To your internal prayer closet.  You go to that place down deep in your soul where you meet with the only One that can protect you from the trials and tribulations of life.  You meet with Elohim Machase Lanu, God our refuge (Psalm 62:8).  You turn to Jehovah Magen, the Lord who is your shield and helper (Deuteronomy 33:29), to Jehovah Mauzzi, the Lord your fortress (Jeremiah 16:19) and to Jehovah Mephalti,the Lord who promises to deliver you (Psalm 18:2).  There is something so powerful about praying His names!    

Here is the truth.  We can plan and prepare, but our only real protection from the storms of life is God.  Sometimes He delivers us from the storm, and other times He delivers us throughthe storm.  No matter what storm you are facing, you can rest assured that El Shaddai, the sufficient, almighty, God of Heaven, always comes through and always accomplishes His purpose for us and in us (Genesis 17:1).

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the 
LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”  
Psalm 91:1-2

Mother’s Day

The older I get the less Mother’s Day is about being honored and celebrated and the more it becomes a day of gratitude.  I am so very grateful for the privilege of being a mother.  Let me say at the beginning, I recognize that Mother’s Day is a difficult holiday for many. Perhaps you have lost your mother or have a difficult relationship.  I get it. I remember many years standing in the Hallmark store with tears in my eyes thinking, “There is not one Mother’s Day card for my mother.”  It also may be difficult because you desperately want to be a mother and for whatever reason this has not happened.  Maybe you have lost an unborn child or children and this day is a painful reminder.   And tragically, you may have given birth to a child who later died.  My heart breaks for you.

I am richly blessed with three wonderful daughters.  As my wise sister has often reminded me, most of us get two shots at the parent child relationship.  The first opportunity is with our parents, and then later with our own children.  Even if you don’t have the relationship you would like with your parents, you can still resolve to have a good relationship with your own children.  Sometimes our best parenting lessons come by learning what not to do.

The greatest Mother’s Day gift I have ever received is the gift of being a mother.  I can still vividly remember the overwhelming love I felt for my firstborn daughter as she was placed in my arms.  And the surprising relief that I could feel the same amount of love for a second and a third daughter.  A mother’s love is never divided: it is multiplied.

I am also blessed that my grown children live nearby and I get to see them often.  I really like the women they have become, and I enjoy spending time with them even if it is just a quick pop-in visit.  And I am, so proud of them as mothers.  They have blessed me with nine beautiful grandchildren.  It is more than I ever could have wished for! 

There are many gifts in motherhood, but I think the greatest is that it truly teaches us about the heart of our Father.  I can remember the frustrations I felt as a young, overwhelmed mother.  There was nothing I could take to God that he had not already experienced.  “Oh Lord, they are always wantingsomething!” (Yes, I understand.  My children only come to me when they need something.”) “They don’t appreciate how much I do for them!”  (Really? How often do you thank me for all I do for you?”)  As they got older I complained that they were too busy for me.  I certainly didn’t surprise God with that one!  (“Hmmm.  My children are too busy for me too!”)   Of course, I always realized that God was referring to me.  As a parent, God has been so patient and loving with me.  

I remember when my babies were little my precious grandmother would tell me, “These are the best days of your life. One day you will want them back.” She was so right.  The days are long, but the years are short.  Oh, I don’t want to go completely back to the child-rearing years.  But I would just like to have one day, one hour with them as children.  One more handmade Mother’s Day gift.    I would love to have them snuggle up next to me and just bewith me.  Maybe that is what my Father wants: a day to just be with me.  A day when I don’t come to Him with my want list.  A day when I just enjoy His presence.    

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Psalm 127:3 (ESV).

A RACE WELL RUN

When she was a little younger, our daughter ran marathons.  She still runs for fun, but doesn’t do the rigorous training any more that a marathon requires.  Before she started running I had realized what a fun spectator sport a marathon is. We would go with her to her races to be her cheering squad.  We would map out her route and pick strategic spots to wait for her in order to cheer and encourage her.  Marathons are fun!  There are crowds all along the route, cheering, ringing cowbells, and playing music, even if they don’t personally know the runners.  We would see her at the starting line and then drive ahead in our car, or in big cities, take the train in order to arrive at locations ahead of her. Sometimes she would ask us to be at certain spots where she knew she might need an extra bit of support, maybe a particularly difficult segment of the route.  And of course we wanted to be at the finish line, to witness her crossing the finish line and to hear her name announced.  To see her receive here medal.  Proud parent moments.  

There are multiple verses in the Bible that compare living our lives to running a race.  The writer of Hebrews encourages us to run with endurance the race that is set before us.  We each have our own race to run.  Parts of it may be relatively smooth, even joyous, while other parts are tough, like running uphill with a strong wind against us.  Sometimes it is all we can do to put one foot in front of the other and keep going.

I was thinking about these things this morning as we prepare to celebrate the life of a friend who has crossed his finish line. If I use the marathon analogy to think of our friend Don, he could be compared to those special runners called elite runners.    They are different from the other runners; they are world-class athletes.  And they live their lives differently, spending hours training and recovering, and eating healthy foods.  They are committed, keeping at it even when they don’t feel like it.  They are dedicated to running well.  My friend lived his life differently too, spending hours studying and teaching and living the Bible.  He was committed to his Lord.  He ran his race well.  

As I have been thinking about these things, I have been wondering again what the death process is like. I suppose people have thought about that since the beginning of time.  What is it like to cross over from this life into the next?  For those of us who are Believers, we know that when we leave this body we go into the presence of he Lord (I Cor. 5:1-8).  But how does this happen, what does it look like?  In my mind, death is like the last leg of a marathon.  The spectators are the “cloud of witnesses” mentioned in Hebrews.  They are cheering us across the finish line.  In my imagination, those who are waiting close to the finish line are our loved ones who have gone before us, cheering us home. And at the end stands Jesus. Instead of receiving a medal, I want to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”  No doubt, my friend Don heard those very words.  Today as we celebrate a life well lived, there is a celebration in Heaven also.  A saint has crossed the finished line and arrived at home. 

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.  Psalm 116:15