Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year - a Time of Reflection

The end of a year brings a lot of reflection, and often is a time of setting goals and renewed hope. For the person that has suffered great losses, though, this can be a time of painful reminders of all that has been lost. The words “Happy New Year” have an off-tone ring for the person who is grieving.

As we reflect and look back, it is always good to take time to remember the many ways that God has been by our side and given us an anchor to hold onto when we’ve felt like we were lost and floating out to sea. God’s love is never changing, and He remains faithful in His promises to us.

Look to the stars and see the darkness of evening wrapped in the twinkling light. Wake up and look to the heavens to see the faithfulness of a new day being ushered in. Take a deep breath and feel the air filling your lungs with new energy. Rest your weary head upon your pillow and allow your guardian angels to watch over you. Feel the peace that only God can give as you allow Him to touch your heart with new hope.

This is the end of the old year, and the beginning of a new one. Let us hold fast to the hope that God is faithful, and He has a special blessing chosen for us every day of the coming new year! --Clara Hinton

“Every day miracle waiting to unfold!” --Clara Hinton

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

Monday, December 17, 2007

Don't be Afraid to Face the Holidays!

The holiday season is here, and for many this is a time of special family gatherings, festive occasions, and getting together for meals and laughter. For others, though, this is a season of sadness, tears, and sorrow. When a loved one is no longer with us, we feel the emptiness even more during those special days called “family days.”

Gathering the strength to get through the holidays can be difficult. At times, we feel overwhelmed and so lonely that we think we will not be able to make it through the day. A tear falling from our heart stains every minute of the day and night.

God, in His infinite wisdom, seems to know exactly the right moment to place hope in our lives. He knows when we need to hear His voice whispering in our ear that He loves us. He knows when to send the rainbow to paint the sky so that we will be reminded of His promises. He knows when to give us rest from our heavy burdens by sending a friend to give us a strong shoulder and a listening ear. He knows when to give our weary souls rest from the heaviness of grief by sending the bright sunshine to warm our souls.

Don’t worry about facing the holidays alone because you have a Friend that is always with you. He is your Father, your Shepherd, and your Friend. His promises are true, and he cannot leave you because you are made in His image. And, above all else, He is your hope! --Clara Hinton

“There is relief from this wound we call grief, and that relief is hope!” --Clara Hinton

“Cease striving, and know that I am God.” --Psalm 46:10

Monday, December 10, 2007

Comfort and Peace Will Arrive!

When the clouds are hanging heavy above us like huge billows of tears ready to fall, we often become afraid that we will never see the light of the bright sunshine again. Loss takes so much away from us that we fear the sun is dying, too.

During the winter of our lives, we live in anticipation of those moments when we will be welcomed into a safe, warm haven and feel secure. We long for our tired bodies to get some rest from the heavy burdens of grief we’ve been carrying, and we yearn for the feelings of loneliness to go away. We want to taste the sweetness of life again, but we fear that the day of joy will never return.

The predictability of the changing seasons becomes part of our hope that we will taste laughter and abundance in our lives. Our season of comfort and peace will arrive, and we will be able to feel the warmth of sunshine comforting our soul. Friends will engage in lively conversation with us, and we will know that we are not alone. There will be a day when the clouds part and the bright, blue sky appears with the sun’s light giving new hope to our soul.

Look to the heavens. Gaze at the stars. Take in a breath of fresh air, and be filled with new hope! --Clara Hinton

“A little bit of hope added to what you’ve already got is a little bit more, and soon that will equal a whole lot of hope!” --Clara Hinton

“My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.” --Psalm 62:5

Monday, November 19, 2007

Giving Thanks in the Midst of Pain

It’s difficult. It’s very difficult to be thankful when your heart is hurting. It’s difficult to be thankful when you are in the presence of happy, busy people and you feel so sad and alone. Life can be brutally painful when we are expected to say thank you but we cannot even begin to mouth the words.

How can we give thanks in the midst of job loss, illness, broken relationships, and death? How is it possible to thank God, our Father, when we have been pummeled by the storms of life? How does a heavy heart find the strength to look heavenward and say, “Thank you” during moments of doubt?

We can only say thank you when we understand who our Father is. We can only feel peace when we are aware of the blessing of hope. We can only whisper words of praise when we understand that the pain will not last forever.

We have a Father watching over us, and He has promised to be faithful and never leave us. He has given us the blessings of the sunrise and the sunset, the starry skies, and the changing seasons. He also knows when we need our heart to be held, and right at that moment He sends help to carry us through.

Who is your help today? The kind voice of a friend. A strong shoulder to lean on. A person to hold us close and dry our tears. The warm sunshine against our face. The rainbow painting the heavens with splendor.

Yes, even at the deepest point of our pain, God assures us that He is near, and we can face the day with hope! –C. Hinton

“A day without hope is a day without sunshine.” --Clara Hinton

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” --Psalm 23:1

Monday, October 15, 2007

You Are Never Alone!

Sometimes it feels like there is no end to the problems and pain that come along each day. Bills piled up. Trips to the doctor. Broken relationships. Depression. Feeling all alone. The death of a loved one. Wandering through life without any real purpose at all.

There are times when it seems like nothing makes any sense. It is during those mixed up moments when we have nothing but questions that we need to remind ourselves Who is in charge. We have not been left alone in this world. We have a loving Father that cares. His thoughts are far above our thoughts, and His wisdom is far beyond ours.

Hold on. Just when you think all hope is gone, someone or something will come into your life to remind you that you are not forgotten. A butterfly landing on your arm. A calm voice saying, “I’m your friend, and I will listen.” The moon shining to light a darkened path. The beautiful sunrise. The far off sounds of the birds singing. A rainbow bursting forth with colors following the threatening storm.

You have not been forgotten – not even for one moment. Hold on! Look for your special sign. Hope is near! --Clara Hinton

“Darkness is always followed by a glorious sunrise.” --C. Hinton

“The very hairs of your head are all numbered, therefore do not fear; you are of more value than the many sparrows.” -- Matthew 10: 30-31

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

From Ashes to Hope!

May we take this special time to reflect on the many losses that took place on September 11, 2001 and the way so many have risen from the ashes to a place of hope.

This has been a six-year journey, and will continue to be a journey for thousands upon thousands of people who lost loved ones on that tragic day in history. Life has gone on, but it will never be the same. As individuals we have been made aware of the way tragedy and death can strike when we least expect it. We also are made aware that people truly do care, and when hearts are bound together by compassion the flame of hope is ignited and gives us the strength to go on.

Many, many lives have been lost since that dark day in September. There may not have been headlines in the news, and reporters probably were not knocking at the homes of those who experienced loss in anticipation of “getting a story.” Instead, many have endured the pain and hardship of loss quietly, and often feeling very alone.

May we never, ever forget that we have a heavenly Father who watches over us day and night. He never leaves us alone. He is always there, calling out to us to come to Him so that we can be embraced in the shelter of His arms. We are told that we have angels watching over us, and that is such a comfort during our times of pain. We have wondrous signs of God’s love all about us as we look at the expanse of the heavens and see first-hand the care He gives to the tiniest of creatures.

May we always feel the closeness of God. May we rest in the arms of our loving Father and allow Him to carry us when we feel too weak to go on. Hope is alive! God is good, and He truly cares! God is waiting in the depths of my being to speak to me if only I will be still enough to hear His loving, tender voice! --Clara Hinton

“I am never alone because God abides in me.” --Clara Hinton

“Be still, and know that I am God.” --Psalm 46:10

Monday, August 20, 2007

Facing the Future with Hope

When loss comes into our lives, dreams are snatched away and we are left wondering how to face the future. We feel like we’ve been thrown into a deep, dark hole with no way out. Loneliness becomes our only companion, and we lose all interest in the daily routine of life. The very things that used to occupy our time and bring us pleasure no longer have any significance at all.

Grieving is hard work, and it takes lots of time to travel our journey of grief. There is no road map to follow, so we don’t know when the next bend or twist in the road is coming. We can’t tell where there are steep hills or flat terrain. When we seem to be traveling along okay, suddenly we find that we’ve hit a mountain that seems almost like it’s impossible to climb. Grief is new, unexplored territory.

There is some amazing about our grief journey, though. It’s hard to explain; yet it happens all of the time. A rainbow appears out of nowhere and gives us hope. A butterfly lights upon our windowsill and we find ourselves smiling. A meal appears on our table from a neighbor and we suddenly feel less alone. An invitation to dinner comes and we feel loved. The telephone rings and we have a much needed listening ear.

God never allows us to travel this journey of grief alone. He sees to it that we have help all along the way. He gives us rest when we are weary, and hope when we feel lost. Just knowing that we have this added inner strength keeps us going until one day we find that we are no longer in that lonely hole, but we are sitting among the flowers and we can once again see beauty in life! --Clara Hinton

“Hope is the friendly, unexpected voice pulling us back to a warmer world.” --Clara Hinton

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” --Psalm 23:1

Monday, August 6, 2007

Grief Makes Us Feel So Alone

Grief is such a universal experience, yet when it happens to us we feel so alone. Even when members of a family share the very same loss, each person feels the loss at a different level, and in a very personal way.

Our grief may be in common, but it is private as well. Our grief is our pain, and nobody experiences it in just the same way. It helps to remember that when we’re walking down the pathway of grief we are never alone even though it often feels that way.

There will be a time when we find solace and hope, but it will be different for everyone. Nobody experiences our loss the same, and nobody finds hope and comfort at the same time or in the same way.

What helps, though, is to remember that our day of peace will arrive, and when it does, it will be like having a big weight lifted off of our heart, and a new song placed in our heart for us to enjoy. No, we’ll never feel the same after a loss, but we will find relief, peace, and comfort. Hope will place a smile upon our heart as we continue on this journey we call life.

Hope allows us to look at today and enjoy the beauty of it, without worrying about the future. Hope gives us the strength for one day at a time, and slowly we find that the future has arrived and we are living it with a new strength and renewed sense of life that we didn’t have before. Hope gives us a reason to go on! --Clara Hinton

“It is comforting to know that God always provides hope as a companion to pain.” --Clara Hinton

“Faith is being…..certain of what we do not see.” Heb. 11:1

Monday, July 2, 2007

Grief is an Emotional Roller Coaster

Sometimes the emotional roller coaster that we feel with grief seems like it’s never going to end. One day we’re okay, then two days later we’re immobilized with the ache in our heart caused from loss. There’s no real explanation, but we know what we’re feeling is powerful and real and all we want to do is escape to a place that feels good again.

It helps to remember that our emotions are like waves. They wash over us, and each time a bit more of our sorrow is removed, washed away, and sent out to sea. The emotions keep returning – coming and going – until one day we find that these painful feelings have weakened. They no longer overcome us and leave us feeling like we are totally out of control.

When we feel like the deep sea of grief is never going to calm, remember that each wave is a necessary part of the process. Each wave is, in fact, working to help bring some healing.

We cannot avoid the pain that comes with grief, but we can understand it better, and when we do we realize that this pain will not last forever. Joy will eventually enter the center of our heart until one day we will be able to smile once again! -- Clara Hinton

“When the sea of grief washes over me, I am being bathed in new hope for the journey ahead.” -- Clara Hinton

“I will turn all my mountains into roads.” Isaiah 49:11

Monday, April 30, 2007

Spring is a Season of Hope

When your heart feels heavy from the burden of grief, it is good to seek out reminders that the gift of hope is alive within us. One of the best reminders of hope is the season of spring.

When you are weary from grief, take a rest outside by a babbling brook, or sit for a while under the starry sky. Spend a few moments watching the butterflies at play as they flit to and fro enjoying the gifts of nature. Listen to the sounds of the birds in the far off distance singing their songs of cheer as they glide through the early morning sky.

Take a close look at the blade of grass as it is pushing its way through the soil and be reminded that following every winter there is a spring. With spring comes the freshness of a new season. There are colorful bursts of flowers, sunrises that will take your breath away, and magical moments of serenity that will fill your soul with peace that can only come from our heavenly Father.

Grief continually presents us with all kinds of reasons to be lonely and afraid. But spring presents us with gifts of hope to carry us through our pain and fear. Embrace every moment of springtime and be filled with hope! -Clara Hinton

“Springtime erases all doubts that God is near and has not left me alone in my grief and fear.” --Clara Hinton

“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” -Psalm 19:1

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Breaking Away from the Darkness

When our lives are suddenly hit by grief, we are thrown into a space of nothingness. It seems like the curtains have been drawn shut, and no light can get in. Our world is suddenly frightening, lonely, and full of darkness. We feel isolated, and we have no clue how to break out of this new place that is called grief.

There is really nothing one can say about grief except that it is a pain that hurts like nothing else. It is a feeling that makes everything around us seem out of synch and nothing seems right. Grief places demands on our emotional, physical, and spiritual energy to the point of exhaustion clear to the core of our soul. We are in need of help. We are in need of hope!

What can sustain us through long periods of grief? What helps us not to be totally crushed? Often we are not even aware of help when it comes to tenderly care for us. Hope arrives on the scene immediately and begins to lovingly give us reminders that we are not alone, and that we will make it through this pain and break free of darkness.

Along with special hugs and smiles from friends, God sends us His special reminders every day. He gives us the bright sunshine to warm our souls. He sends us the stars at night to guide us through the darkness. He gives us the babbling brook to remind us of His word that quenches our thirst. He gives us flowers that bloom to give our landscape of life a burst of majestic color. He gives us hope to take away our darkness! --Clara Hinton

“When God is in me, my darkness leaves.” --Clara Hinton

“The Lord is my light…..” Psalm 27:1 a

Monday, April 9, 2007

Giving Thanks in All Things

Did you ever wonder why “giving thanks in all things” has been put in the bible? I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has struggled with that portion of Scripture. In fact, I know that I’m not the only one.

Most of us can be thankful when the tide is flowing in our direction, when the sun is shining upon our face, and when all good things are coming our way. But, when our lives are shattered, battered, and tattered, it’s another story. The words “thank you” don’t even come to mind, much less come from our lips. Yet……………we are told that it’s good and right for us to give thanks always.

When grief enters the door of our heart, we often speak a foreign language for a long time. We cry tears of pain and loneliness, and our hearts ache so bad that we cannot even think, let alone speak. The only utterances that come from us are groans of pain. The emptiness that we feel cannot be described. How can we give thanks?

I am convinced that God understands our hearts when they are full of grief, and He allows us to feel the pain, walk the journey, and come back to Him in order than we might once again say “thank you” for the blessings of life, for the miracles found in each day, and for the hope of heaven.

If you are struggling in your walk today, and cannot say “thank you”, don’t allow the additional burden of guilt to weigh you down. God knows you, He knows your heart, and He loves you. He will instill within you enough hope to carry you to a place of thankfulness in time. For today, rest in His arms, and allow His love to warm your broken heart, and feel His peace. –Clara Hinton

“Every day contains the gift of hope.” --C. Hinton

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

Monday, February 26, 2007

How Do You Explain a Broken Heart?

Grief is such a difficult thing to explain with words. How do you tell somebody what a broken heart feels like? How can you explain the feeling of emptiness that echoes like a hollow hole? How can you ever explain the constant gnawing that overrides every thought you have day and night reminding you of your loss? Grief. It’s something that really is not able to be understood completely unless you’ve gone through it.

Life following loss feels as though we have been placed in a foreign land and we cannot speak the language. We try hard, but nobody understands. They speak another language— that of happiness and joy. Our words consist of sorrow and pain. We feel as though we’re not going to make it in this new place, and we long for nothing more than to go back to how things were before our loss. Yet, we know that’s not even remotely possible.

Hope is something that crosses over all borders and travels into every land. Hope can find the tiniest crack and begin to take root and grow. And, when hope anchors to an empty heart, it begins to fill in the holes and we begin to feel like we are no longer strangers in a foreign land. Hope gives us a reason to go on when all logic tells us that we can’t.

God has given us an abundance of hope that surrounds us every day to provide healing when we feel so alone and lost. The sun, the moon, and the stars all point in the direction of God, the Father of all. The ocean and the miracles that lie below the sea remind us that God is always in control. We are not alone, nor have we been forgotten. And, the best part of all is that hope arrives at just the moment when it is needed most! --Clara Hinton

“Hope refreshes the weary soul.” --Clara Hinton

“Do not fear, I will help you.” --Isaiah 41:13b

Monday, February 19, 2007

Hope is a Seed that is Planted in Everyone!

When we are walking the pathway of loss, it often feels like we’re walking all alone. Everyone around us seems to be happy and carefree and surrounded by friends and laughter. The pain of loss turns our world upside down for a while and takes away our clarity of vision. We see things through tear-stained eyes and we feel things through a heart that has been broken. Nothing feels or looks right, and loneliness temporarily sets us apart from everyone.

Hope is a seed that has been planted in the heart of each and every individual. Hope lies hidden during times when life is moving alone at a strong, happy pace, but when we begin to falter and feel like life has lost its meaning, hope comes to the surface and helps us to go on.

Hope arrives at just the right moment and in just the right way. God has planned it that way. A comforting smile that seems to let us know that joy will return. The warmth of the sunshine against our cold, lonely heart reminds us that friendship will once again give us warmth and comfort. The evening stars that light up the sky remind us that we are never walking the path of sorrow and grief alone. There is always a light to help guide us along the way.

Hope is our link to our heavenly Father. Hope reminds us that we are never alone. Hope reassures us that there is joy in the future. Hope gives us a reason to go on! --C. Hinton

“Better times are ahead, so hold on!” --Clara Hinton

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” --Romans 15:13

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Spending Valentine's Day Alone

This week we will celebrate a holiday that is typically known as the “love holiday.” Millions of dollars will be spent on chocolate candies and flowers. The phone lines will be busy all day long making calls to special people. The card shops will be busy with all of the last minute shoppers for Valentine’s Day.

Yet, in the midst of all of this happiness there will be countless people grieving losses and feeling the hollow hole that can only be created by being alone. This day, February 14, will be one that will pass by and so many will feel alone, unloved, and forgotten.

Losing a loved one is a pain that is hard to describe. And, losing a child is a pain that is even more difficult to describe because children are never supposed to die before their parents. But, the sad truth is that every day this type of loss occurs leaving many parents grieving and feeling lost in a world that hardly seems to care.

Let us never forget, no matter what type of loss we are grieving, that we are never alone. God has promised to be by our side, to care for us, and to tenderly provide what we need especially during our times of brokenness.

Every time you look at the intricate markings on a flower or see the sunbeams dancing from heaven, be reminded that your Father made them with great care. Remember, too, that He made you, He knows you, and He has known you since the beginning of time. What a thought! We are never alone or forgotten with God as our Father!

On this special day when love seems to be in the air, sit still and allow God to embrace you with His love. Close your eyes and feel His very presence, and know that all is well with your soul when God is by your side! –Clara Hinton

“God is the one and only true love.” --Clara Hinton

“Thou art my hope; O Lord God…..” --Psalm 71:5

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hope is Alive!

Today is a brand new day, yet when our hearts are hurting nothing seems to feel right. The thrill of unwrapping the gifts of a new day isn’t there, and our hearts seem to fill with only loneliness and pain. We are left wondering when we will get our enthusiasm back for life. When will our joy return? When will we be filled with a song in our heart?

Grief is a hard word to say, and it is even more difficult to understand. When grief knocks on the door of our heart we know it is there because we can feel the raw pain that so suddenly overtook us. However, grief leaves us very slowly and we often don’t realize that our unwelcome guest is inching its way out of the door of our heart until is has been replaced by the wonderful blessing of hope.

Every time we look at a butterfly or the colors of a rainbow, we take one step closer to hope. Each time we feel the warmth of the sunshine upon our face, we grow closer to recognizing the miracle of a brand new day. For every flower that we see bloom, we push aside one sad thought and allow space for a bright, new thought of hope to visit our heart.

Grief is a difficult journey, but we have not been left alone. God has placed his signature of hope in the morning sky, in the twinkling of the evening stars, and in every soft whisper of the wind He has given us the assurance of His love by showing us all of His creation. He is our Shepherd, and we are His sheep. His tender care will carry us through every dark valley into the green pastures where we will find rest and replenishment.

Hope is alive, and every day we are receiving the gift of hope. One day we will wake up with a song on our heart and we will know for sure that hope has arrived! --Clara Hinton

“When I look to the heavens my heart remembers that God is a mighty God, and He loves me forever.” --Clara Hinton

“I have written your name on my hand.” --Isaiah 49:16

Monday, January 8, 2007

Every Sunrise is a Gift of Hope

Will today be the day that the clouds of despair begin to lift? Every time we are greeted by a new sunrise, we are given the gift of new hope. We never know exactly when that special smile or kind word will be sent our way, but we can be certain that it will arrive at just the right moment to help ease the pain of our broken heart.

When grief becomes part of our lives, we are suddenly living in a world that seems lonely and barren. There is nothing at all that looks, smells, feels, tastes, or sounds familiar. We find ourselves wandering in circles, not knowing where we are going. All we know is that we want to go back to that place in life where things felt safe, happy, and secure. Yet, we know that we can’t.

God, in His infinite wisdom, gave us a universal language that can be understood by all. It is the language of love, and can be spoken and understood by everyone. When we are grieving, though, we often don’t hear anything that is spoken because our hearts are too heavy to listen. That’s why God gave us very real symbols of His love.

Listen to the peaceful sound of the babbling brook and feel the gentle touch of God’s love. Smell the fresh air following a soft rain and understand that you will be renewed following the falling of your tears. Watch the clouds part to display the rainbow following a storm and be reminded of the promises of God. Watch the lips of a stranger passing by form a smile and you will feel the warmth of someone who cares.

Every time your heart is touched by God’s love, a bit more hope grows within your heart until one day you will find you are no longer a stranger in a foreign land. Instead, you are a beautiful flower blooming among a field of many wonderful friends. Hope has made you alive again! –Clara Hinton

“When your heart is touched by God’s love, hope grows.” –C. Hinton

“Thou art my hope.” --Psalm 71:5a

Monday, January 1, 2007

Every New Sunrise is a Gift of Hope!

A brand new year has arrived! For many, this is an exciting time of setting new goals and looking forward to the coming year with enthusiasm and the anticipation of having the best year ever!

Reality often settles in very shortly after the New Year, though, serving as a reminder that last year’s bills are still unpaid, the health diagnosis has not changed, and the broken relationship has not been restored. Unresolved grief issues loom heavily on the heart, and the joy of the New Year quickly disappears instead ushering in waves of loneliness, discouragement, and fear.

Rather than thinking in big terms such as an entire year, it helps to chunk life down into measurable moments that are not so overwhelming. We can be joyful for one hour. We can be filled with hopeful anticipation for one day. We can be thankful for our blessings this moment.

Thinking in smaller segments of time helps the grieving heart to cope with today’s pain and gives enough energy to wake up feeling ready to tackle one more day. A grieving heart needs time to find the rainbow. A heart that feels lost needs time to catch the shimmering star shining through the dark night. A heart that is lonely needs time to change focus in order to see the miracle found in the daily sunrise.

Be patient with yourself, and approach this New Year one day at a time. Look for signs of springtime following the harsh, cold winter. Watch for the rainbow that spreads its array of colors across the sky. Listen to the sounds of nature and know that God is near.

Remind yourself daily that you have not entered the unknown territory of this New Year alone. Your heavenly Father is right by your side taking care of your every need! –Clara Hinton

“Every new sunrise is a gift of hope just for you.” --C. Hinton

“My hope is in Thee.” --Psalm 39:7b