death

The Empty Seat at the Table

pexels-photo-196648“‘Tis the season to be jolly,” and all the rest. You are making and checking your gift-giving list. You are trying to make as many things merry and bright as you possibly can, but you cannot shake the feeling that this is not just another holiday season. The holidays are just not as cheerful as they would be if the empty seats at the table were filled with the presence of your lost loved ones. Whether it is one or more loved ones lost, the weight of their absence is often more heavily felt during the most wonderful time of the year. Their missing kisses, hugs, warmth, smile, and good-humor is magnified this time of year. Yet, no matter how much loved ones are missed, it is important to realize just how much of a vapor life is. So while you still have breath in your body, it is important that you live and find the joy that remains here: the smile of a child, the dawn of each new day, children at play, the spirit of giving, the birth of a baby, wedding bells, the encouraging words of those that give comfort, or more importantly, the peace that surpasses all understanding. While it is okay to move forward, to live, to enjoy your life without your dear loved one by your side and to find happiness in new joys and experiences, it is also okay to grieve as long as you need to. You may never get over the loss of a loved one (and you never have to), but you can get through it and go on with your life. Mourning is a temporary event that becomes a little less familiar with each passing day, or month, or year. As mourning reaches its end, the fondness of memories can be reminisced with a smile instead of a tear, with honor instead of pain, and with gratefulness to God for the gift that was the presence and connection you were favored to have had with your loved one. So while the empty seat at the table may reflect a deep hole in your heart, it can also or will hopefully begin to reflect your heart’s abundance of precious memories of happier times when laughter came easier and smiles were brighter.

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Are You Prepared?

pexels-photo-70298But while they were going away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were prepared went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. (Matthew 25:10)

Being prepared is a must in any season. Whether you are preparing for a storm, marriage, college, or to buy a house, you either have your business in order or you are in the process of having it in order because you intend to be ready when the time comes for an event that will affect your life. As words of wisdom or words of warning are shared to emphasize the importance of being prepared for today, likewise, a loving Father, God shares the need for preparedness as it concerns our tomorrow. When I think of people who heed a warning to be prepared and people who procrastinate or show disregard and are as a result left to deal with the consequences of their folly, I think of the ten virgins that Jesus taught about in one of His many parables. These women could not be more distinct. Half of them were wise and the other half were foolish. The bridegroom, who they were awaiting, delayed his arrival for some reason, so they all fell asleep. The wise women ensured that they had oil enough to shine bright at the appointed time. Their display of wisdom is the opposite of the foolish women at such a critical time, lacking oil, and upon awakening to notice of the bridegroom being nearby, they attempted to buy oil at the eleventh hour, but it was too late. As a result of their carelessness, they missed the opportunity to enter into the marriage feast and they were shut out. It is a lot like life itself, when you are prepared, you are ready for any occasion whether it is to receive a blessing or to be one, but when you are unprepared, you are not ready for opportunities that could have otherwise been yours and you are faced with negative consequences that could have been avoided if you would have taken heed. Yet, there is a time to take heed and it is not the eleventh hour. Similarly, Christ’s return is to be prepared for, He has tarried like the bridegroom, but as with the moral of the Parable of Ten Virgins, God advises us to be wise and to watch for Christ’s return in that we continue to be ready, continue to be about the business He’s assigned us to fulfill. The mercy and the grace of God readily available to those who do not know Him, those that find themselves unprepared should heed Love, and not be ignorant to the fact that one day there will not be another day, another hour, another minute, another second to get ready. Opportunities will not always avail themselves. Time is not a commodity. The appointed time is now. If we can prepare for a storm, a successful marriage, a great college experience, to find the perfect house, for this temporary dwelling place, we can exercise wisdom in preparing for the certainty of Christ’s return. Are you prepared?

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