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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Celebration of Life, The Reality of Death and Planning my Funeral

I just read an article outlining the benefits of planning your own funeral.  I haven't given it much thought, but this week I have been wondering if it wouldn't be that bad of an idea.  If a funeral is to be about a person's life, then maybe the best person to plan the funeral is the person for whom the funeral will be for.  

I will list a few things I don't like about some funerals.  (these are the same things I would want avoided at my own memorial, If I have any say in the matter.) 


1.  I don't like viewing the dead body. 


 When I was 7, I attended a viewing of my grandmother before the funeral.  It is the last and only memory I have of her.  That isn't anything I wish on anyone. 

I don't want that to happen at my funeral.   I don't want my body on display when there is no life in it.  I am getting cremated... (already stipulated in my will).  I don't care if I will be messing up someone's closure ritual...  but I don't want my corpse to be anyone's last memory of me... (If I have a say about it!) 


2. I don't like singing morbid hymns over and over.  


I don't mind some music at a funeral, but if I am crying or mourning the loss of someone, I want the option not to sing.  Singing for me is usually a joyful experience.  I don't want to mess with that.   

I figure for my funeral, all the music can be electronic.  I don't want to put anyone through the painful expectation of singing at my memorial.



3. I don't like evangelistic sermons at funerals.
  

I guess it happens that funerals often turn into outreach events.  But it doesn't seem right.  There are pastors out there that feel like it is their responsibility to "reach the lost" that come face to face with death. 
 Really??? 
I wonder if that is taking advantage of a person's vulnerability and grief.  

I would opt out of having any sermon at my funeral.  I am not the biggest fan of sermons on a weekly basis never mind at the end of my life.  I don't think I want to put anyone through that. I go to a memorial to remember that person and to say goodbye... Not really going there to get preached to about how to handle death right.  And I don't need to hear hell warnings either.  It isn't the time or the place for that. 

 It's not the sermon from the pastor that I ever remember anyway. It is always the stories from the  family and friends of the person who died.  


4. I don't like family pictures at the funeral or graveyard. 


Here is the story... It was my Opa's funeral. I had been hiding my emotion right up until the internment.  I lost it... collapsed on the ground and bawled my eyes out.   I was still laying on the ground in the graveyard with a tear soaked face, when I was informed that the next order of business was family pictures by the casket. 


Really??? 

Is it okay for me to admit now what I really thought of the events of that day?  

Here is the deal.  No family pictures at my memorial.  Find another day of the week or month or year to snap the group shots.  If someone wants family pictures after I am gone... then there is no need to include my ashes in the shot. 


5. I don't like going to funerals days after loosing someone I love.  

I prefer to mourn in solitude.  Public displays of grief are awkward for me.  I know that delaying the funeral day will only work if the body isn't involved in the actual ceremony.  

Because I am getting cremated, there will definitely be some flexibility.  I figure a good month ought be enough time. The initial grief will have mellowed a bit and most can attend a public function without too much pain.  

The first memorial we had for my Dad was painful in a lot of ways.  It was five days after he died.  We had another memorial service a few months later and, for me, that was much easier. 

6. I don't like someone else telling me how to get closure.  


Everyone grieves differently and everyone ought to be given the freedom to grieve in their own way.

A personal story:

Losing my Dad was painful.  I was at the funeral home dropping off the urn on the morning that his body was scheduled for cremation.  I had already been given a tour of the crematorium a couple days prior and was made to understand the process that my dad had chosen.  

The morning I went to drop the urn, I asked John (the funeral director) if I could sit in the room where the cremation chamber was. I didn't get to see nor did I want to see the beginning and the end of the process, but I sat on the floor for a half an hour during the process.  It was cold in the room because it was vented to the outside (-30 deg. C. beginning of February).  I leafed through the cremation documents and stared for a while at my dad's name. I let the reality of what I was seeing, hearing and feeling soak into my soul. I felt him close to me somehow.  I walked through memories in my mind for that half hour. 

 Not to many have that opportunity that I did that morning and not too many would chose to sit and listen to the sounds and feel the chill of the presence of death.  But I did and that was my closure. 

I am thinking that I won't have much say in the actual events surrounding my death (except the details stipulated in my will) 
 I could give my loved ones the freedom to grieve the way they need to. After all, I won't be here for my funeral, so do I really need to plan it. 

I am going to end of this post with a Youtube clip from a Star Trek episode.

The episode finds two of the Enterprise crew, Jordi and Ro lost in a transporter accident.  They aren't dead, but "phase-shifted".  Still able to walk around and see and hear everyone on the Enterprise, but unable to communicate.  No one can hear them or see them.  They are presumed dead and Data is elected to organize a memorial.  Not having any experience at funeral preparations... this is what he comes up with.  


Jordi Laforge and Ensign Ro Laren's memorial party: Star Trek "The Next Phase"
  

I like it. That's all I'm going to say. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

RUBY'S CHRISTMAS




December 25th. 2013

It is 5:30 and I am laying in bed beside my sleeping husband.  The turkey is still thawing out in a cooler full of water (which I have to change out every hour).  I just discovered that I didn't get oven bags for the turkey, I got a brining bag instead.  (confusion due to the excitement).  So now I have to conventionally cook the turkey.  So glad there is only myself and my husband and two cats for dinner today.

Yesterday, Hubby and I went to see the Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug in Imax 3D.  What an experience.



I have been pondering what to write about today.  A lot of things have been churning in my head as to the reason for the season.  Right now, this year, in my little Alberta home town... I am not convinced Jesus is still the reason for the season.


I get that Jesus is the reason Christians celebrate Christmas.  I get that the establishment of Christmas as a holiday had to do with our human desire to celebrate the coming of our Saviour.   I get that...

But right now...  I don't see too much Jesus in Christmas.  Maybe because I didn't go to Candlelight service last night.


 I thought about it.  I thought about sneaking in at the local Baptist church to see what they are doing... but I didn't.  Instead I got on the phone and called the Caribbean.  I have a long time friend that lives in the islands.  She was happy to hear my voice.


In contemplating this whole Christmas reason thing... I sent out an email and got a response from one of my last pastors.  I am thankful for his response and it was definitely worth more than 2 cents.  I want to share a portion of that email with you.  

"I believe celebration times (traditions, if you will) are helpful for humans. So, I am a fan of celebrating different aspects of Christ’s life and work at different times of year and even on a schedule. For me, it’s a spiritual discipline that helps me remember (not forget) various aspects of God’s plan of salvation. Of course, there is always the danger of replacing the meaning with the tradition and that happens routinely. I take some comfort in the fact that this has always been the case in human history... just in different forms and different traditions. I’ve come to believe that God has chosen to dwell in (or break in) to the mess of human culture, sin, tradition, and spirituality. He condescends to us and our frames of reference and enters into the human mess." (LY)


I couldn't have said it any better. We do have a mess down here.  And God showed up in the middle of that mess so we could experience Redemption and a Relationship with our Creator.  I still don't think Jesus has a need for a birthday party, but maybe we have a need to give him one.  


Over the last few days I have been collecting my favourite Christmas songs on Youtube.  I thought I would share them with you.

 I like Christmas Music.  Some of my favourite albums are Boney M (a classic) , Bing Crosby (also a classic) , Off Limits ( A Calgary guys vocal band); Nathan Berg (someone I've known for over 30 years); Frank Sinatra; Rosemary Clooney and Reba.

I have added the youtube links to this post.

(Faith Hill)

(Boney M)

(Pentatonix)

(Boney M)

(Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye,
Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen)

(The Royal Guardsmen)

(Irish Rovers)

 (Nathan Berg)

My 2013 Christmas wish list:

1. I hope the turkey works out

2.  I hope my family has forgiven me once again 
for not being with them on Christmas Eve. 

3. I hope my husband likes his gift I got him.  

4. Sleep (for both of us)

See... not much at all.  


So for what it is worth...

MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!!

... and thank you Jesus for entering my mess. 

RUBY

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A CHRISTMAS LETTER TO JESUS




Dear Jesus:

It is almost Christmas, Jesus... and this year I am writing you instead of Santa.  

It has been a rough year.  After years of believing in Santa and all the stories about the North Pole and Reindeer... I have figured out that none of that is real.  I guess every kid goes through it sometime.  Most of my classmates aren't writing Santa this year either.  I guess they've also lost their faith in the big  guy in the red suit.  

I wrote Santa every year, dropped the letter in the mailbox... and someone always wrote back, so I just believed it was him.  Until my friend Jimmy told me that his mom got a new job at the post office.  He didn't know what she all did until one night she took her work home with her.  That is when Jimmy found the letter that he wrote to Santa.  It was on her desk with other letters from other kids.  And beside the letters were a stack of envelopes with addresses on them... one of those envelopes had Jimmy's address on it.  

When Jimmy asked his Mom what the envelopes were for, she told him what her new job was.  I guess she figured Jimmy was old enough to know what every kid soon finds out on his own.  It was her job to write letters back to all the kids from Santa.  

I didn't believe his story at first, until he gave me the letter that I had dropped in the mailbox just a week earlier.  I was stunned.  Canada Post promised me that they would deliver my letter to the Great One himself.  I had been lied to. 

I haven't told my parents yet.  They are still covering for Santa and still telling me to be good so I will get a nice present on Christmas Day. 

From as early as I can remember, I have always believed in Santa Claus.  My parents told me that I never saw him because he lived in the North Pole and only came to our house on Christmas Eve when I was sleeping.  But every Christmas I would awake and find the present under the tree from Santa.  It was usually what I had asked for.  Now looking back I don't have to wonder why Mom wanted to proof read my letters to Santa.  She told me she wanted to make sure my spelling was correct.  All along it was her way of finding out what I wanted for Christmas.  

Tomorrow she is going shopping in the city.  So that is why I am in my room writing a letter.  She thinks I am writing to Santa.  So maybe after I am done my letter to you, Jesus, I will write one to Santa.  It just won't be the same.  Maybe this year I will ask for an iPad.  

Thank you for hearing me out.  I still believe in you, Jesus.  No one has told me yet that you aren't real. Maybe one day, I will find out different.  I hope you aren't just a story that my Mom and Dad told me.  Right now those stories are all I have to go on. Now that I think of it,  they were the ones who told me Santa was real.   I don't know what to think now.  I am not going to mail this letter.  It might end up in the hands of Jimmy's Mom and I don't know if I want her writing me back.  

One more thing, Jesus.  If you are real... do you think you can tell me yourself.  If all I have is what my parents are telling me, I don't know how long I can hang in there.  

After all...  they lied about Santa.

Billy

P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY... Sorry,  I almost forgot. 







Sunday, December 15, 2013

Why Athiesm?



Two posts ago, I said I would follow up on why I think some people don't believe in God.  I concluded in my post that it wasn't the existence of God that atheists doubted as much as the involvement of God.

Anything I say in this post is strictly my opinion.  I haven't researched this with any atheists so I can't really speak for them.   I am just stating what I figure might explain some of the atheistic mindset.

I am going to put the next seven statements into the first person... just to make it personal.  But for the record... these are not my quotes.


1. Maybe I don't believe God is there...
 because I don't believe he cares about me.  


2. Maybe I don't believe God is there... 
because I don't believe I need him in my life. 


3. Maybe I don't believe in God...
 because of all the evil in the world.

4.  Maybe I don't believe in God...
 because of the existence of pain and disease.


5. Maybe I don't believe in God...
because of religion.


6. Maybe I don't believe in God... 
because justice is more deserved than grace.


7. Maybe I don't believe in God... 
because to me... His love is unreal and unreachable.

***
Well.. there are a few thoughts that might explain some of the convictions out there.  I am sure there are more. 

So without too much psychology... I am going to just say that in the light of the obvious reality that God does exist (as per my post on  Why do I need to believe...  I have proof)... In my understanding...  athiesm must be a result of some severe brokenness.  

Pretty bold of me to make such a statement... but it's my blog and my freedom to do so.  

I am curious.  Where are the people who are okay to own up to their issues?  

Be real about it... Admit it...

"God exists, I just can't figure Him out.  I don't understand why the world is in chaos, I don't understand why there is pain.  I don't understand ... period! "  

So does it come down to a need to understand everything?  Well... for me that ship sailed long ago.

I was at a company kid's Christmas party today.  We had a magician come and do some tricks.  I came to the conclusion today that I am glad I can't figure out how the tricks work.  It wouldn't be the same if I knew how it all worked.    

I don't understand everything... so for me I am glad I have a relationship with Someone who does.  And that is good enough for me.




Thursday, December 12, 2013

My thoughts on FAITH


FAITH... 
... after my last post, I figure it would be a good thing to follow up on the whole subject of FAITH.  I guess it may have sounded like I boldly claimed that I don't need FAITH... I have proof.   Well... I kind of said that, but only in reference to the "existence" of God.  But that is only the beginning.

FAITH allows me to keep driving even when I  can't see the road that I am driving on. 
  Sometimes, I can't even see five feet in front of me... but I still drive.  


Sometimes the road is clear, but the sky paints a different picture.   

Then I find FAITH to keep driving... even if there is an impending storm ahead.  


There isn't much in my world that operates without FAITH.  It is as vital to my existence as the air that I breathe.  It is core in how I relate to my Shepherd and to the other sheep.  
FAITH isn't about religion for me anymore.  FAITH is evident in every facet of my life now.  I enjoy the fruit  of  PEACE and LOVE... because I have FAITH.  
FAITH isn't blind.  FAITH gives me JESUS' vision.  FAITH is when I choose to let go of my natural instinct to fear and let the JESUS LIFE in me radiate.   


It is either no secret.. or maybe my biggest secret.  How I do it is JESUS... living in me, through me, with me.  JESUS... GOD VERY GOD... chooses to radiate HIS AWESOMENESS through little ol' me.  
HOW COOL IS THAT!!!
With JESUS... FAITH isn't such a stretch.  It just becomes reality.  I am not adhering to a bunch of rules, I am responding to opportunities because JESUS is responding to them.  It is kind of simple if you look at it like that.  There is no performance chart, no record keeping.  
It is just day to day living...  FAITH.  

So the road gets foggy once in a while...


and the rain distorts my view.

I can still keep driving.  

Because I have FAITH. 

"As you have the light, believe in the light. Then the light will be within you, and shining through your lives. You’ll be children of light."   John 12:36 (Message) 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

I DON'T NEED FAITH... I HAVE PROOF!


 I DON'T NEED FAITH THAT GOD EXISTS... 


THERE IS TOO MUCH PROOF.


TOO MUCH!


NOT ONLY IS THERE ENOUGH PROOF...


IT JUST MAKES SENSE.


SOME THINGS JUST MAKE SENSE...


SO IT IS A WASTE OF BREATH TO DISPUTE IT. 


I HAD TWO PARENTS.


EVERYONE HAS PARENTS.


NO ONE DENIES THAT REALITY!

WE ALL STARTED FROM TWO PEOPLE... ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN.


NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND IS DISPUTING THAT...

THAT MEANS... IT DOESN'T TAKE FAITH TO BELIEVE IT. 


SO WHY IS THERE A DISPUTE WITH THE REALITY OF GOD?

HERE IS MY THOUGHTS... 


SOME SAY "I CAN'T SEE GOD."

I SAY:  "YOU CAN'T SEE AIR OR WIND, AND YOU DON'T DOUBT THEY EXIST."


HERE IS WHAT I THINK.  

IS IT REALLY THE EXISTENCE OF GOD THAT PEOPLE DOUBT... 
OR IS IT THE INVOLVEMENT OF  GOD THEY DOUBT?

I WOULD LEAN CLOSER TO THE SECOND STATEMENT, BECAUSE...

THERE ARE  REASONS WHY PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE GOD AND THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH HIS EXISTENCE.. BUT EVERYTHING TO DO WITH HIS INVOLVEMENT... OR PERCEIVED UNINVOLVEMENT.   


WE HAVE ALL SEEN CREATION.


HOW ELSE CAN YOU EXPLAIN THIS? 


HOW ELSE DOES IT MAKE SENSE? 


CAN YOU LOOK FROM A DIFFERENT VIEWPOINT...


AND SEE GOD?