She Gave Up the Ghost

MomMom and Janie w bday strawberry shortcake
MomMom and Janie w bday strawberry shortcake
After almost a week in hospice, with loved ones by her side, my mother gave up the ghost. Long after I said goodbye, “give up the ghost” lingered in my mind. For over a decade I had walked with Mom through the tunnels of advancing dementia, then stood watch in the dim light of her hospice room. Over and over, she seemed ready to go. Her breath would stop, then twenty seconds later, she’d suck in air and battle on with furrowed brow. Giving up the ghost took on a different meaning.

‘Giving up the ghost’ comes from the King James Version of Jesus’ death on the cross. It’s also used commonly, as an old car gives up the ghost.

For Mom, I think more of ghosts that haunt. Ghosts that lurk around corners and pounce at unexpected times. Ghosts of Christmas Past. Ghosts of if-only. Ghosts of what-I-should-have-done.

I believe the “ghost” that threatened her peace and made her reluctant to run to the Light was guilt over the death of a tiny soul.

When I was ten, my youngest brother drowned. As families will after a tragedy, we all privately blamed ourselves. But Mom was the mother, and she hadn’t cared for her three-year-old. Though she maintained she was fine, since Mac was safely in heaven with Jesus, that event shook her foundations, and brought her back to her Lord.

However, as executive function diminished in her brain toward the end of her life, nightmares and delusions often crowded out her joy. In the final days, clearly she could not let go. When my sister and I, separately, talked to Mom of going to heaven, that her mother and sisters were waiting for her, she beamed. But when we mentioned our little brother, she drew back, almost in fear, and the darkness covered her again. When we realized what was happening, we assured her that she was forgiven, by Jesus, and by Mac.

Still, I believe she was afraid to face that child.

After several more days of prayers, Psalm reading and songs, Mom found peace. The shadows gone, she is restored and whole and radiant. With her dear son, and the Son who makes true restoration possible.

Why, you ask, am I sharing this with you?

Because many of us have buried pain. Remorse still raw, or guilt not absolved. Perhaps “The Secret” that lingers in the shadows, waiting to accuse, again.

I’m encouraged by the lesson from my mother’s bedside to continue to let go. To journey forward on The Healing Path, and offer you, my friend, a hand.

When it’s my time, I want to run to Jesus with open arms, not edging back into the darkness.

Come join the journey to Peace.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matt 11: 28-30
(If you do not see the video below, click on the title at the top to view pictures and videos in the webpage.)

Mommom holding great-grandchild
Mommom holding great-grandchild
Mom birthday 2008
Mom birthday 2008




Janie and Mommom
Janie and Mommom

Mommom love
Mommom love

Where do I go?

Sometimes life, not the big picture, the whole world kind of life (that’s abstract enough — we can deal with it), but our personal, here-and-now life can become more than we can handle. Or least, more than we want to handle.

An adoptive mother pours herself dry, endlessly loving a child who, because of abuse or neglect before she entered his life, cannot bond, cannot receive or trust. Will her love ever be enough?

A dear one, preparing to fly to her mother’s bedside, receives a call. “Your Mom died this morning.” The words she’d hoped to say swell in her throat. And the ones she’d hoped to hear seep from an old wound. How will it heal, now?

An illness haunts, even as it evades tests and medical probing. In the dark of the night, it looms, large and threatening. What is taking over my body? What am I doing wrong?

Or the pain is diagnosed, the dread “C” word, and all the questions and decisions put life on hold. Will I be able to stand? Will I come out the other side?

Abuse, alcoholism, unplanned pregnancies or unfinished ones, unwanted babies or babies forever grieved, sterility, disability, life threatening illness, life-taking illness, unfaithfulness, hatred, dementia, mental illness or anguish, prejudice, betrayal . . .

The list is too dark to continue.

Whether wishing for escape from this life, or wishing for more days to live, we often follow a script, learned long ago. 


Shut down. If I don’t feel so deeply, I won’t hurt so much. Better to live in the gray zones. One foot follows another.

Give in. I’ll do what I’m told. Keep my head down. If I don’t expect anything I won’t be disappointed.

Fight. I flail at the injustice. Rail at the darkness. My fingers may grow raw, but at least I’m not a helpless victim.

Flight. I’ll run to alcohol, drugs, people (sex, or people-pleasing, or codependent relationships, or controlling), work, online or TV (mindless hours, escape, games, vicarious living, porn). Anything but stay in the pain.

Or perhaps I simply won’t look. If I can’t see the enemy, he can’t hurt me, right?


When it all comes tumbling down, and at some point, it will, what do we have then? When our backs are up against the wall, where do we turn?

Over and over, I run to the only one who hasn’t hurt me or failed me or forgotten me. One who calls me, carries me when I need it, heals me and sets my feet on firm ground.

Maui waves  Isaiah 43:1_5
Maui waves Isaiah 43:1_5

If you have more on your plate than you can handle right now, feel free to contact me below, or use the private contact button, and I will pray for you.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew ll:28-30 The Message

We are held

Today the journeys others are taking dwarf any difficulties in mine. In the past two weeks I’ve added heart-wrenching requests to my prayer list.

• A daughter has gone missing.
• A son has died in Afghanistan.
• A family is split by alcohol and selfishness.
• A mother of a one-month-old learns she has thyroid cancer.
• A young boy is badly injured by his father’s tractor.
• Three friends have fathers in the hospital with serious illnesses.
• Most of the kidnapped girls in Nairobi are still in the hands of their captors, or worse, have already been sold into slavery, or sex-trafficked.
• Another shooting on a college campus robs a life of future and promise.
• A young husband and father of three postpones the family’s annual summer mission work in Haiti to await his treatment for melanoma in lymph nodes. . . .

When I begin to pray, I feel like ranting at God.  Asking, “Why?”

It isn’t fair. It’s a sloppy, ugly world we live in.

For a moment, I sigh words from a poem I was enamored with in the ninth grade, The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám LXXII

And that inverted Bowl they call the Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop’d we live and die,
Lift not your hands to It for help–for It
As impotently moves as you or I.

But I don’t stay there.

When the emotion is spent, I hear the echoes of the words of the psalmist centuries ago.

The enemy hunted me down;
he kicked me and stomped me within an inch of my life.
He put me in a black hole,
buried me like a corpse in that dungeon.
I sat there in despair, my spirit draining away,
my heart heavy, like lead.
I remembered the old days,
went over all you’ve done, pondered the ways you’ve worked,
Stretched out my hands to you,
as thirsty for you as a desert thirsty for rain. Psalm 143:3,4,6 The Message

We have an enemy that seeks to discourage us, beat us down, even kill us if possible. But Jesus came to destroy his power over us.

Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does. I Peter 5:8-11 The Message

I know it’s true.

Because I know the eyes that penetrated me with love when I couldn’t go on.

I know his words of reassurance when I wanted life to end, telling me there isn’t anything he can’t work in, as long as I am alive.

I know how it felt to have Him reach his hands out to me, pull me into a meet-the-needs-of-everything-in-me hug.

And I remind myself that this world, this life, is only a glimpse of the real thing, a tiny moment in all of eternity.

And that sometimes pain is our door.

But we are never alone in our pain.

We are held.