Comfort in Times of Loss

None of us can avoid the reality of grief. At some point in life, we lose someone who is dear to us, and we wonder how we will go on. For some, the grief is brief, or so it seems on the outside. For others, the grief is deep and long-lasting.

If you haven’t lost a loved one yet, you probably know someone who has. What did you say? What did you do? Did you wonder if you were saying and doing the right things? This week, I finished reading a book that helped my perspective on grief. Best selling author Cecil Murphey has teamed up with Liz Allison have written a book titled “Words of Comfort for Times of Loss,” a message to all who are affected by grief. I’m delighted to have received a complimentary copy of the book for promotional purposes.

The authors of this book know grief. They know loss. They know the healing process. In writing “Words of Comfort for Times of Loss,” it’s clear that the authors understand the needs of a grieving person. How is this clear? They’ve put together a book that’s small and short with short chapters and peaceful pictures.

A grieving person doesn’t have time or energy to wade through a thick volume of the psychoanalysis of grief. Instead, the authors have constructed a useful tool for both the grieving and those who want to know how to help. The pocket size makes it perfect for giving as a gift, and it would be such a blessing to receive it in place of a sympathy card. There is a place inside the front cover to inscribe who it is to and from for gift giving.

The best part of this book is that it comes from the heart. The stories are real and emotions are genuine. It addresses the feelings that society doesn’t allow the grieving to talk about and it allows the grieving person a voice for that which he or she cannot put into words. It’s well-written and touching.

Table of Contents

 

Little Joys
You’re Not Alone
One Simple Thing
Accepting Help 
Make It Go Away
Why Did You Leave Me?
If Only I Had
What’s Wrong With Self-pity?
Perfect Grieving
Am I Crazy?
Material Possessions
Facing Those Special Days

I have permission to share the following letters from Cec and Liz with you, I hope you are touched by their stories.

Why We Write About Loss
Liz’s Story
On the morning of July 12, 1992, my husband, Davey, left home like any other morning—he kissed my forehead and hugged our kids.That afternoon I answered a knock at the door, sensing something wasn’t quite right. When I glimpsed the faces of Davey’s two best friends—they didn’t have to speak—the looks on their faces said it all.
That day, after lunch with his race team, Davey had hopped into his helicopter and taken an unplanned trip to the nearby Talladega Superspeedway to watch a buddy practice. Attempting to land in the infield, he had lost control of his helicopter and crashed. Although paramedics airlifted Davey to a Birmingham hospital, sixteen hours later he was pronounced dead.
Immediately following Davey’s death, I had to work through my grief enough to plan his funeral and make hundreds of small-but-significant decisions, all while maintaining the time and energy to care for our two young children, ages one and three. Well-wishing friends hovered around me and frequently asked, “What can I do for you?
Most of the time, I could only respond with a blank stare. Looking back, my friends could have done many things for me, but they didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know what to tell them.
I hope the insights I have gained during the aftermath of Davey’s death will help you as you struggle with your own grief.
—Liz
Cec’s Story

Two weeks after my father suffered a mini-stroke, a massive stroke took his life. On the day of his funeral, my older brother, Ray, died of cancer. Over the next eighteen months, I lost two brothers-in-law and my mother.
On the Sunday after Dad’s and Ray’s funerals, a parishioner rushed up to me, hugged me, and said, “Pastor, I heard about the deaths. Were they saved?”
I honestly don’t remember what I answered, but I wanted to shout, “Does it matter right now? I hurt. I’m so filled with pain that I’m not sure I can handle the worship service today!”
In 2007, our house burned down. Our son-in-law, Alan, died in the fire. The next day, a neighbor pulled up in front of our burned house, got out of his car, and started to look around. “Where did he die?” he asked.
Through the years, I’ve met many like those two people. Maybe they didn’t know what to say. Perhaps they were so focused on what they cared about that they were unaware of my pain. Instead of helping me, those comments made me feel even worse. What I needed was compassion. I didn’t get that from either of them, but I can offer it to you.
That’s why we’ve written this book.
—Cec

Grand Prize Drawing
Post comments below this blog entry about your own grief process, about your loss, or about your thoughts on this book and have your name entered into my April 9th semi-final drawing to send one name to the final drawing from the publicist. Or comment on the entry titledPractical Tips to Comfort and Encourage Those Who Grieve” to have your name entered.
Grand Prize Giveaway includes:
Words of Comfort for Times of Loss
Heaven Is Real
Gift Edition, 90 Minutes in Heaven
Journal
Pens
Potato soup
Oyster crackers
Dove silky smooth milk chocolate
Dove silky smooth dark chocolate
Ultra-plush spa socks
Large gel eye mask
 
This special grand prize giveaway is designed especially for someone going through a difficult time. The winner can keep or pass along to someone who could use the pick-me-up.
About the Authors:
Liz Allison was married to NASCAR driver Davey Allison until his tragic death in 1993. Widowed at 28 with two young children to raise, Liz faced the long journey of pain, loss, and grief with great faith. Committed to encouraging others, she returned to her work in TV reporting, has published eight books, and hosts a weekly radio show. Please visit www.lizallison.com

Cecil Murphey is an international speaker and bestselling author who has written more than 100 books, including New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper). No stranger himself to loss and grief, Cecil has served as a pastor and hospital chaplain for many years, and through his ministry and books he has brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world.

Practical Tips to Comfort & Encourage Those Who Grieve

Cecil Murphey and Liz Allison, co-authors of Words of Comfort for Times of Loss, offer the following suggestions to those who want to comfort and encourage their friends who have lost loved ones. As you read the list, many of the suggestions will depend on your relationship to the person in grief. If you don’t know the person well, the authors suggest you focus on the first nine tips.
Practical Tips to Comfort and Encourage Those Who Grieve

  1. Don’t worry about what to say. Those in grief don’t need words, but they need love and support during their bereavement.
  2. Never say, “I understand exactly how you feel.” You don’t; no one does. If you feel you must say something, try this: “I don’t know how you feel but I care about you.” That’s honest and it conveys the right message.
  3. Listen more than you speak. Those who grieve may want to talk about their pain. They don’t need opinions or advice. Become a safe haven where they can release their grief, vent, or say nothing.
  4. Sit silently with the grieving. Many people try to fill the space with words when the hurting person needs only a warm body with a caring heart.
  5. Don’t hold to preconceived ideas about personal loss or the grieving process. Individuals grieve differently. Think of grieving as a sacred place and treat it that way without intrusion or instructions.
  6. Here’s a wrong question to ask: “What can I do for you?” They may not know and practical things may be beyond their thinking at the moment.
  7. Don’t say, “If there is anything I can do. . . ” Unless you know something specific, keep silent. The question may add a burden to the grief-stricken person.
  8. Don’t discuss the feelings and/or information the grieving person has shared with anyone else.
  9. If it seems important for you to communicate information, ask for permission. “May I tell. . . ?”
  10. If you know the person well, make a list of work around the house or errands that others can do. Show the list to your loved one before you arrange anything.
  11. Leave the list for others who visit and let them write their names if they want to do specific tasks. You can help others by providing a list of things they can volunteer to do.
  12. Never assume the grieving person wants help; always ask first. If the person wants help, follow through and do it as soon as possible. Don’t add aggravation to the pain.
  13. Help ensure that the person sets aside rest times and do what you can to protect the time from all visitors. Sleep and rest may not come easily, but it’s needed to deal with the added stress of grieving.
  14. Give the person spiritual space. The grieving may need time to be alone. Ask, “Do you want time alone?” If the person says yes, volunteer to handle visitors or answer the phone during those periods or help arrange for someone else to do those tasks. In the midst of chaos and noise, the hurting person won’t be able to hear God or receive divine comfort. Depending on their need, help them have quiet time to listen for God’s gentle and loving voice.
  15. If little children are involved, ask if and how you can help care for them.
  16. Don’t neglect the children. They may not understand everything and feel confused. If the children are old enough to communicate, listen to their concerns. Answer their questions simply and honestly.
  17. When appropriate, pray for (and with) your grieving friend or loved one. When the words come from your heart, the hurting person can sense your love. Don’t expect the grieving person to pray aloud unless he or she indicates a desire to do so.
  18. Allow loved ones to feel and to express their emotions—no matter what they are. Grieving is like a wild roller coaster ride of ups and downs. Good friends learn to lead when needed or to take the back seat and go with them for the ride.

Article used with permission from the authors as a part of their book promotional blog tour. Please do not reprint this information without permission.

About the Authors:
Liz Allison was married to NASCAR driver Davey Allison until his tragic death in 1993. Widowed at 28 with two young children to raise, Liz faced the long journey of pain, loss, and grief with great faith. Committed to encouraging others, she returned to her work in TV reporting, has published eight books, and hosts a weekly radio show. Please visit www.lizallison.com

Cecil Murphey is an international speaker and bestselling author who has written more than 100 books, including New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper). No stranger himself to loss and grief, Cecil has served as a pastor and hospital chaplain for many years, and through his ministry and books he has brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world.

Grand Prize Drawing
Post comments below this blog entry about your own grief process, about your loss, or about your thoughts on this book and have your name entered into my April 9th semi-final drawing to send one name to the final drawing from the publicist. Or comment on the entry titledComfort for Times of Loss” to have your name entered.
Grand Prize Giveaway includes:
Words of Comfort for Times of Loss
Heaven Is Real
Gift Edition, 90 Minutes in Heaven
Journal
Pens
Potato soup
Oyster crackers
Dove silky smooth milk chocolate
Dove silky smooth dark chocolate
Ultra-plush spa socks
Large gel eye mask
 
This special grand prize giveaway is designed especially for someone going through a difficult time. The winner can keep or pass along to someone who could use the pick-me-up.

What to Do With Old Ladders

What Would You Do With This Wednesday #7

This week, it’s your turn to brainstorm ways to decorate with an old ladder. It could be a whole step ladder that’s too weak for normal use, or a weathered piece of an old extension ladder. Are there some ways to make it more modern and less country? Or does such a piece lend itself only to a country decor?

I found the above pieces of ladder at an antique/ junk store. But maybe you have one that looks more like this:
What would you do? Share your ideas below using the MckLinky tool. I’ll name the “winning” (my favorite) idea next week. Sorry, I can’t afford prizes, but I’ll twitter and tweet about your tremendous creativity.  
Check out last week’s WWYD about old chairs. Jill S. from Live to Read to Live had the most creative idea. She suggested, “Use it for an outdoor washing station. Hang chair so seat is 30 – 36 from ground. Fit a small bar sink into the opening of missing seat attach a mirror in the chair back space. Now you have a gardener’s clean – up station.” Great idea Jill!

Update 3-31-2010
It was tough choosing a winner this week. The ideas were all great! Thanks for linking up. My favorite idea arrived via e-mail from Jen. I’d love a ladder pot rack. But a very close runner up idea came from confessionsofacurbshopaholicblogspot.com Thanks Rose! I can’t wait to see what she does with her new site.

Michelle

Trash to Treasure Decorating
View the full post at http://www.trashtotreasuredecorating.com

Places to Find Treasure

Where do you find treasure? Beyond the usual yard sale fare, where can you find trash to turn into treasure? Passing through the little town of Emerald Grove, WI last week, I spotted this marvelous resource:

I know, it might not look like a treasure trove to some of my readers, but I see it as stuff waiting for inspiration. Here are some places to be on the lookout for your own treasure.

  • Antique shops
  • Yard and thrift sales
  • Second hand shops
  • Auctions
  • Basements of friends
  • By the curb (where it’s legal to pick up stuff)
  • In your grandma’s back storage shed
  • Liquidation sales
  • Flea Markets
  • From your local garbage man (involves getting to know him on a first name basis as your inside source for good stuff)
  • Craig’s List 
  • E-Bay
  • Freecycle (see Yahoo groups for your local freecycle group)

I know there are many more places, so feel free to share your ideas in the comments below. Trash to treasure decorating depends on keeping your eyes and ears open at all time for great finds. Spring cleaning season is upon us, and I know there will be all kinds of treasure unearthed from basements, garages, and storage barns all over the country. Imagine the possibilities!

Michelle

Trash to Treasure Decorating
View the full post at http://www.trashtotreasuredecorating.com

The House that Cleans Itself

Spring Cleaning Help

Does your house clean itself? Mine doesn’t.

I hate cleaning house. Well, it isn’t that I really hate the actual cleaning part, but I hate that it gets dirty again so quickly. For example, recently I spent a good part of a day cleaning, doing laundry, and baking. Then my two boys arrived home from school along with three teen boy friends. Within thirty minutes, there were shoes by the back door, crumbs on the floor and the Better Homes and Gardens scene was over.
Worse than keeping a house clean is keeping it organized. I consider myself an organized person, yet I still have days where I search everywhere for something I’ve misplaced. I’m always looking for new organizing ideas. Which is why I recently picked up a copy of “The House That Cleans Itself” by Mindy Starns Clark.
The back cover promised creative solutions to keep your house twice as clean in half the time and how to get your family on board in the process. Mindy Clark delivered on her promise. This is a terrific book! She has ideas for creating a flow pattern in your house and figuring out ways to minimize issues with clutter. She approaching organizing with common sense and applies innovative ways of thinking to her method. I enjoyed the book so much that I’m planning to pick up additional copies to share with friends.
One additional benefit to Mindy Clark’s approach is that she infuses the application with faith, and I love anything that integrates faith with everyday processes. Each chapter begins with a scripture reference. Throughout the book, the author includes examples from her own life and others experiences that help the reader apply the concepts. Each chapter concludes with a humorous embarrassing story from someone who has struggled with organizing.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for new cleaning and organizing ideas. It’s spring cleaning season. Why not start fresh with a new method?

Book Review- More Amish Fiction

Two weeks ago, I told you about a book I was waiting to receive for review. Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on it. If you’re a fan of Amish fiction, you’ll be happy to know that in addition to Beverly Lewis, Cindy Woodsmall, Wanda Brunstetter, and Beth Wiseman, there are other authors who will satisfy your craving for a bonnet fix, Mary Ellis included.
Never Far From Home by Mary Ellis
Emma Miller is restless. She’s torn between the life she’s always known and the life she’s never experienced. Growing up Amish, Emma hasn’t had much contact with the outside world until she begins selling her handmade goods and spun wool to a local shop. When she meets a handsome young Englisher, she’s face with a decision between following her restless heart and honoring her parents and the Amish tradition.
In Never Far From Home, Mary Ellis tells Emma’s touching story of love and faith. I enjoyed the book and Mary Ellis is a talented author. Those who love Amish fiction are going to love this book; however, those who are looking for something that sets this series apart from other Amish fiction aren’t going to find it. It’s the classic story of an Amish girl struggling between keeping her faith and getting baptized and leaving home to face shunning. How Emma Miller works out her dilemma is slightly different from some other stories, but it’s a little too convenient if you ask me. I won’t be a spoiler and give away the details. However it’s still the same Amish fiction plot. 
I was a little surprised by some of the modern conveniences that these Amish folks have. A little explanation would have helped since the Amish in my area don’t have refrigerators in their kitchens; outside in a little shed, yes, but inside no.
I know there are heaps of readers out there who can’t get enough bonnet fiction, so I know this book will be wildly popular in those circles. I’d give the author 5 stars for writing skills and 3 stars for originality.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Mary Ellis’ publicist for review purposes.

How Do You Celebrate Craft Month?

March is National Craft Month. I know, sometimes the national months and days get out of hand. There is something on every day of the month. March includes a lot of other national celebrations too. For example it is:
  • Irish American Month
  • Music in Our Schools Month
  • National Frozen Food Month
  • National Nutrition Month
  • National Peanut Month
  • National Women’s History Month
  • Poetry Month
  • Red Cross Month
  • Social Workers Month 

    I like to think of every month as National Craft Month, since I have way too many craft hobbies. However, it’s nice to have a reason to celebration something. So far, I’ve crocheted and worked on scrapbooks this month. I’m hoping to get a sewing day yet before the end of the month. Or maybe a day to work on painting some of my furniture with an updated faux finish.

    Here are some ways you might decide to celebrate National Craft Month if you haven’t already taken advantage of this excuse to devote a day to a hobby.
    1. Get out something you haven’t worked on in ages. Haven’t knitted since you were 12? Why not try again? Maybe it’s painting or drawing, woodworking, or rubber stamping. Dust off those supplies and enjoy them. 
    2. Finish something that you’ve set aside. As you search your supply stash for suggestion #1, you’ll likely encounter some unfinished projects. Choose one and finish it. You’ll enjoy the satisfaction from completing something you started long ago.
    3. Try something you’ve never tried before. Most of us don’t need a new hobby, because we’re busy enough. But maybe it would be fun to take a class just to learn something new. Check  your local hobby store for a class schedule. 
    4. Clean out your hobby stash and downsize. Someone else could surely use those supplies you’ll never touch again. For National Craft Month, why not pass your unused and unwanted craft supplies off to someone for their crafting?
    5. Check out some craft books at the library and then choose one activity to do with your children and their friends. There are tons of ideas that reuse and recycle for projects that cost little to nothing.
    6. Show others what you have made. If you’ve never participated in a MckLinky blog party, it’s a ton of fun to link up your projects to someone else’s blog. It’s a great way to get new ideas. In fact, I’m going to give you a chance to link up today and show me what you’ve made during National Craft Month!
    All you have to do is find an entry on your blog that shows off a project you’re particularly fond of. Then copy the link to that specific post (not your blog in general or we’ll get frustrated looking for your project) and add it to the list below along with a short description. Then stop back in a few days to see the ideas and projects that have been added. Let’s celebrate creativity together!

    What Would You Do With This Chair?

    You’ve probably noticed that WWYD Wednesday came and went. I was away at a conference and didn’t have time before I left to set up a Wednesday post. I know, I know. I need to get my priorities straight. Or procrastinate less. Or plan ahead. I need a daylight savings week! Wouldn’t that be cool? We could set our clocks back a whole week and it would be March 11th again today. Oh the things we could think and dream up with an extra week. 
    As promised, on my way home from the conference on Wednesday, I stopped by the antique shopped I’d spotted on my way and I asked the owner if I could take pictures. Huey graciously allowed me to walk around and browse the fabulous piles of junk he has on display outside his antique store. The town of Emerald Grove is little but a blink of a place, but it’s east of the city of Janesville, WI  at 8314 U.S. Highway 14, and it’s a great location to get great customer exposure.

    Right on the main thoroughfare of the unincorporated village, Huey has a treasure chest of stuff for those who love trash to treasure decorating, and those who love making junk art. In fact, Huey says he’s going to learn to weld so that he can turn his own artistic ideas into fabulous pieces of art. If you follow this link to Google Maps, you can explore the front of the Antique Shop from the web.

    I’ll be featuring many things from this expedition in upcoming WWYD with this Wednesday posts.

    WWYD #6

    Today, I want to know what you would do with this chair that I found at the antique store. Some of the ladder rungs are missing and it’s pretty weathered, but it’s still filled with potential. Have you used an old chair in a unique way? Share your ideas and even link up your blog post with a picture on this week’s WWYD?  

    I’ll name the “winning” (my favorite) idea next week. Sorry, I can’t afford prizes, but I’ll twitter and tweet about your tremendous creativity. 

    (P.S. I won’t be having a Friday blog hop this week since I’m already late posting WWYD from Wednesday)
     

    Michelle

    Trash to Treasure Decorating
    View the full post at http://www.trashtotreasuredecorating.com

    Deciding What is Trash, What is Treasure

    How do you decide what is trash that can be turned to treasure and what is truly trash? I used to collect anything and everything just because it was old or unique. But that led to a basement full of stuff I never found a use for. I’d purchase something at a thrift sale thinking I’d come up with an idea later, but inspiration never struck. Instead, my husband had to put up with my collection. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still have plenty of stuff. Enough to consider myself a moderate packrat. But at least I’ve weeded it down a lot.
    To prevent the clutter problem, I’ve created some guidelines for my thrift shopping that might help you with your own trash to treasure decorating and will keep your husband happier too.
    Rules for Junking
    • Can I come up with at least three ways to use this item off the top of my head?

    This will ensure that if you don’t use it in one place, you might use it in another. For example, I have an antique picnic basket that can be used to store magazines next to my recliner, to store yarn and crochet supplies, or it can be a place to hide mittens and gloves by the front door. Once I’ve thought of at least 3 ways to use it, I’m likely to come up with even more. 

    • Is it worth what the seller is asking? 

    Sometimes an item will be marked at a high price at a yard sale simply because it is old. Not everything old is valuable. Be sure that you’re not paying too much for something that really is junk.

    • Do I need another one?

    I love old rake heads. I have 2 of them on my walls right now, but I don’t really need a 3rd. Too much of a good thing is a waste of money. So unless a friend is looking for one, I’ll pass up the next rake head I see at a yard sale. 

    •  Is it safe?

     I have some old windows on my walls as artwork, but I’m pretty sure that there is lead in the paint that was used on them. If I had little children around or if the paint was chipping off, I’d consider them unsafe unless treated with something like a protective layer of urethane. So as you purchase 2nd hand things for decorating be sure to choose things that are safe for your family. 

    By following these simple guidelines, you’ll be able to eliminate some potential basement clutter and you’ll enjoy the true treasures that you do find. 

    Happy decorating!

    P.s. I’m on a road trip to a conference and I passed the coolest junk place on the way down. I’m hoping to have time to stop on the way home. And I have my camera too! I’ll post any cool finds.

    Michelle

    Trash to Treasure Decorating
    View the full post at http://www.trashtotreasuredecorating.com

    6 Month Blogiversary Blog Hop

    I can’t believe it’s already been 6 months since I started TrashToTreasureDecorating.com! I know, it’s still a baby blog, but it’s been so fun, so I thought I’d celebrate this little blogiversary with a little woo-hoo!
    How do these Fridays come around so fast? It’s another Follow Friday Blog Hop where you get to show me your blog. Some of my favorite blogs that I follow I’ve found through blog hops and link parties. I’m so glad you’re all so willing to share your ideas. Sometimes, I’m just stumped for a good idea.

    Take my WWYD Wednesday post, for example. I’m really stumped by Karyn’s harp. There just has to be something more that we haven’t thought of that we could make from that. In the meantime, I’m hunting around for next week’s WWYD idea. I think I’ve been short on creativity this week because I’ve put a lot of time into prepping for some upcoming speaking events.

    Tomorrow, I’m speaking to a group of ladies at their day retreat and I’ll be showing some trash to treasure ideas and then giving an inspirational message on how faith can turn life’s trash into treasures. It’s part of my commitment to help people connect the dots between their faith, creativity and everyday life.

    What have you transformed this week? Do you have a before and after to show? Maybe you’re working more on your everyday life right now than on your creative side. Show how you cleaned up or reorganized your space, or how you’re inspired by spring. Whether it’s crafty, decorating related, or practical, we’d love to have you inspire us!

    Trash to Treasure Decorating
    Blog Hop guidelines:

    1-Add a permalink to your specific post not the home page of your blog. We don’t want to have to hunt for your brilliant idea. Be sure to check that the link works after you post.

    2-Add a short title for your post. This could be your name or blog name if you’d like.

    3- Link back to this post from your blog, or send a link to your tweeps on Twitter (mention @trash2treas).

    4-Check out the links and leave some comments on the sites you enjoy.

    That’s all there is to it! I can’t wait to see your links and ideas. Never used MckLinky? It’s super easy. You don’t need an account or any software. Just click on “you are next” below and type a title for the post (or your name) and add a link to the location on the web. It’s that simple!

    Michelle

    Trash to Treasure Decorating
    View the full post at http://www.trashtotreasuredecorating.com