Archives For Grief

Strength

June 12, 2016 — 1 Comment

Strength

Many people have said to me over the last 4 years, you are so strong, your faith is so strong, your family is so strong. I have tried to explain that I/we are not strong and what strength you see is not us but our deep abiding faith in God.

I’ve thought about this a lot over the last few years. What makes people think I/we are so strong? 

The Caulk Family It most certainly is not the fact that we are strong! It is not the fact that we don’t share our sadness and grief, it is certainly not the fact that all of us have not been a hot mess throughout our journey of grief the last four years. 

ALL people suffer in life that is a fact. No one escapes the fact that at times life is hard. We are all human and life on earth will never be perfect. 

We could have gone silently into the night and avoided the discussion or we could share openly and remember them. We talk about them publicly and privately, because Mike, Jamie, and Lillian are loved and not a day goes by that we don’t think about them. 

When you raise five kids as Mike use to say, “someone is always having a bad day.” He would say this when we were trying to go somewhere and a have a good family day and one of the children was sad, crying or didn’t want to go.

I have found this is the same way as we walk through our grief. Someone in our family is always having a bad day, no rhythm or reason…just hit with waves of grief. No one sees that day coming but we understand it. We do our best to love each other through it and know that it will pass and tomorrow it will be someone else’s to have a bad day. 

We talk about them because Mike, Jamie,and Lillian are never far from our minds. Contrary to what most people think we want to hear their name’s and hear stories they shared with our loved ones.  In many ways, we have moved on and yet we haven’t. But, I/we have ALL changed. 

As I sit on my deck this cool, Michigan morning I am thinking of each of my children and how out of their pain and grief we have all grown closer to God and grown in our empathy for other people’s suffering. 

For me personally, when I hear stories of Chad, Justina, Jahi my heart breaks for the pain their families endure and I can pray with compassion. I know them and their pain all too well, I see it in their eyes and read it in their posts. 

Our priorities in this life are just NOT the same

We emphasize and weep with those who are suffering and we can’t just scroll through Facebook and causally say, “I will pray for you”. We pray or we don’t say we will.  We understand their pain because we have felt it…experienced it. 

So when folks say, “your family is so strong” I believe what they are really saying is not that we are strong but that we are vulnerable and have tried to share our journey authentically with others and not avoid the conversation of our grief, pain, and faith.  

In this world in which we now live, full of sound bites and social media our family has done our best to not hide in a closet or pretend all is right in our world, all of the time.  I think people identify with that because everyone at one time or the other is going through something. Sometimes it is hard to be vulnerable and lay it all there and yet speaking the truth is many time’s not easy regardless if the conversation is about grief or anything.  

When we lay it all out there for you to read we are being vulnerable, we are sharing who we are, our true selves, our grief, pain, and HOPE. This is who and what we are and forever will be.

We haven’t pretended life is good ALL the time because life on planet Earth is never void of pain for any of us. Yet no one wants to talk about pain or suffering on Social Media and especially not death. We have also shared what we do know and that is that God is good ALL the time even in the midst of our pain and sorrow. 

…even when we question WHY?

God is good and someday we will know, and understand. (Although we are not convinced it will even matter when we get there and are reunited with our loved ones’ forever. 

C S Lewis referred to earth as a Shadowland. A preparation for the reality of what is to come. Where nothing will block the light of the sun/son and we will SEE the real thing…Jesus, Heaven, Earth as it was meant to be. 

“Farewell to Shadowlands” is the title of the last chapter of the book The Last Battle, the last book in The Chronicles of Narnia series.  On the last page, C. S. Lewis writes:

“There was  a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are–as you used to call it in the Shadowlands–dead.  The term is over:  the holidays have begun.  The dream is ended:  this is the morning.”

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. 

All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page:  now at last they were beginning chapter one of the Great Story which no one on earth has read:  which goes on forever:  in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

So the Caulk’s are weak, and yet we are strong, but the strength is not from us or what you think you see in our family but comes from the Creator of the Universe who projects His strength through us and in us. Who is STILL changing us and molding us into His image. 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. I Corinthians 12:9-10

Mike CaulkI miss you today, Mike and I can’t believe it has been three years.  A normal day that changed us forever. 

You leaving us does not change us for the worst but allowed us to believe more than ever, and long for our true home…out of the Shadowlands where we will be together forever. 

See you soon! We love you for eternity. 

Four Long Years

Today makes four years that my son, Jamie passed on from this earthly life and went home. Home is where God is and where those who believe in Jesus will spend eternity. Heaven is not the default location of where everyone will go, heaven is where we will spend eternity based on our relationship with Jesus while on earth.

Buzz LIghtyearOne of my children, Andrew, use to say like Buzz Lightyear in Toy Store, “to infinity and beyond”. That’s a pretty good description of eternity..infinity and beyond.

When you go to funerals it sounds like everyone has gone to heaven. But that is a false supposition and one that can keep people from the good news of Jesus Christ.

C. S. Lewis in his book, The Problem with Pain writes of Hell, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, especially, of our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom, and it has the support of reason.”

Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to LIFE, and only a few find it.”

So heaven is NOT our default location.

What  keeps us out of Heaven is universal: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Sin separates us from a relationship with God (Isaiah 59:2). God is so holy that he cannot allow sin into his presence: “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong” (Habakkuk 1:13). Because we are sinners, we are not entitled to enter God’s presence. We cannot enter Heaven as we are. Randy Alcorn, Heaven Book

James 4:14 says that we are a mist, a vapor. We do not know what tomorrow brings.

I am sure Jamie did not have a clue his life would end here on earth on October 20, 2011. 

Matthew Henry said in his commentary on James 4:14

What is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away, Jas. 4:14. God that wisely left us in the dark concerning future events, and even concerning the duration of life itself. We know not what shall be on the morrow; we may know what we intend to do and to be, but a thousand things may happen to prevent us.

We are not sure of life itself since it is but as a vapour, something in appearance, but nothing solid nor certain, easily scattered and gone. We can fix the hour and minute of the sun’s rising and setting to-morrow, but we cannot fix the certain time of a vapour’s being scattered; such is our life: it appears but for a little time, and then vanisheth away; it vanisheth as to this world, but there is a life that will continue in the other world.”

The Good News

The good news is that the price for Adams’ sin and ultimately ours as it was passed down to us from the fall, is that hell does NOT have to be our default destination. When Jesus died on the cross He said, “it is finished”. This simply means the debt has been paid. Finished, done, debt cancelled. In Greek the words, “it is finished” means paid in full.

You may think you have done too many things wrong in your life to be forgiven, but that is simply NOT true. There is no sin or behavior you have done that can’t be forgiven…when you repent and ask.

Repent sounds like a religious word, but it just means to turn in TURN AND GO IN A NEW DIRECTION. There is nothing you can do to work for or earn your salvation. It is a gift. Jesus paid the price, he took on the cross what we deserved and paid for it. God see’s everything anyway so when you ask for forgiveness be real, you can’t hide anything from him.

C. S. Lewis, said, “All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered just beyond the grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it, or else, that it was within your reach and you have lost it forever.”

You can never resolve your sin by “working on it”. It is all grace. Jesus is absolutely crazy about you, He adores you and when you walk in that truth every day you feel loved and accepted.

St Augustine said, “If we but turn to God, that itself is a gift of God.” My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.

 

How Do I Know I Am Going to Heaven?

Over the years, I have had many people ask me, “how do I know IF I am going to heaven”?

John the Apostle said in 1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.” So yes we CAN know, we don’t have to “hope so”, we can know.

Do you know?

Can you say yes, I am going to spend infinity beyond in heaven?

Today is the day of salvation, if you do not know or are not sure. I Cor 6:2

Today is the day my son went to his eternal home. He has been there four long years for us who miss him so. Yet we KNOW we will see him and Mike and “Lilly Bear” again.

The Solution

Jesus provided the solution to live with him and our loved ones forever.

1) Admit you are a sinner  (1John 1:9)

2) Ask for forgiveness

3) Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior

4) Recognize he came to earth and paid the price and settled the debt. It is finished.

5) Accept that you are forgiven and your sins are forgiven.

Psalm 103:10-12 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for you;as far as the east is to the west, so far as He removed our sins.

East and West can NOT be measured so they are gone forgotten.

Jamie Caulk This is my post today for you in honor of my son who has gone before me and enjoying LIFE forevermore.

I love you Jamie and miss you SO much, see you soon.

Mom

 

 

 

Jamie’s Journal

Jamie Caulk Journal The last 18 months I have been doing a lot of remodeling to my home of 25 years. In the middle of painting, going to Salvation Army, renting three 150 ton dumpsters you learn to be careful that you are NOT accidentally getting rid of something important.

My husband was a pack rat…” you never know” he use to say.

Living in the same house for 25 years…we accumulated a lot of stuff.

My great-grandfather was a Methodist minister and my grandmother had a lot of his library. When she died Mike and I took boxes of his books. It was fun to look through them, read some of them and see the handwritten notes in the margins. I have given a ton of books to the Saline Library but not really sure what to do with these very OLD books.

Today I was going through some shelf’s and I came across Jamie’s diary. I didn’t even know he had a diary. He must have ditched it because he had only one entry, but it was a good one.

 

He wrote this on Thanksgiving Day 2009.

God is so faithful, what could have been a tough day became one the most blessed days for me EVER. Writing about it now is bringing some of the same feelings back to me. Praise God. He does renew. He does restore. He is so good. I am so thankful to be chosen and loved and able to share such things with others. The fellowship and love and laughter we shared will never be taken from me. It will go with me to eternity. I love you Jesus. I am yours.

Jamie Caulk Journal WOW, He did take that into eternity as this was written only 2 years before the Lord took Jamie home.

I don’t know why I found it today, but I love those God nods as we call them in my family. It brought such joy to Andrew and Christa when reading it. As a grieving mother anything like this brings such comfort.

The last two weeks have been particularly hard, as another young man in the Saline community died from injuries sustained in an auto accident. My heart was breaking for the pain I know the family is going through and how their lives will never be the same.

I was in Nashville when I heard the news and was also able to spend time with Jamie’s girlfriend. It is hard to see her still learning to deal with the loss of Jamie and yet oddly comforting to know someone else loved him as much as we did.

It’s also been hard with Michigan football starting in a few days. I know right? But, our family especially Mike and Jamie were so intense when it came to Michigan football. We are so excited about our new coach as both Mike and Jamie wanted Jim Harbaugh to come back years ago.

Now Jim is here and they are not. 

With all that has happened the last two weeks, reading Jamie’s journal was a much-needed God nod.

Jamie's journal Dr. John Rice said in his book Bible Facts about Heaven,

“Not one in that blessed land would, if he could, return to the decaying form he left, to live out the life he had planned, to see the happiest future he could imagine on this earth. Death for a sinner is horrible, but never to a child of God. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13). Blessed and happy are the Christian dead!”

The majority of the time we sit and talk about Jamie, Mike and Lillian we always end up saying, “but…they wouldn’t come back even if they could.

As King David said when his son died, “he will not come back, but I will go to him.”

 

 

It’s the little things

Mike and Missy CaulkToday is my husbands birthday, the second one we will be celebrating on earth without him. Mike had such an engaging personality and was the funniest person I have ever known.

I miss his presence so much, not for ALL the jokes but for ALL the little things.

In a long-term marriage of 35 years, there is no one on earth that knows you more…the good and the bad. Many people talk about a soul mate in a mystical way but to me Mike was the love of my life and my best friend.

Now that doesn’t mean we didn’t have our disagreements and struggles, but it does mean we always came back stronger than before in our devotion to one another.

The loss of a spouse is like throwing a pebble in the water and watching the ripples flow out. It starts with a big plunk and every day you see the ripples keep flowing out.  At each ripple you find more and more things you miss about their presence.

In each marriage whether on purpose or just out of the dynamic’s of the relationship, you take on different responsibilities. Mike always took care of entertaining the kids. I remember one time, he was in a Toys’R’Us – which we were walking through after shopping for the baby at Babys’R’Us – we were walking through some toy aisle, and he randomly had the idea that my kid needs that nerf review – and ended up spending 20 minutes looking through it picking out toy guns for the kids. I was too exhausted with the baby to consider that, but he did. And they loved it. Mike always brought the mail in on his way home from work, I go to the mailbox maybe twice a week. I just forget. Mike took the garbage out, cleaned the kitchen and had coffee made for each morning. I still at 21 months without him,  HATE doing those things. Last week I bought a new coffee pot so I could have an automatic time to start the coffee at 7:00 AM but I can’t get it to work. I hate dragging the garbage cans to the curve, through the snow and ice. He never complained.

Last fall I started taking out 23-years of old landscaping. I would never have done that.

So many little things.

Caulk Family 1998But most of all I miss him being here a quiet presence in our home. I miss having someone to pour out my frustrations with in dealing with challenging situations with our children. We would tell each other (being parents of five), “I couldn’t do this without you.”

But, now I have to.

When you are joined in matrimony it is said you become one flesh. In a spiritual sense you do, but it is practically worked out through the life of the marriage.

When Mike turned 50 I had a surprise skating party for him. He walked into the roller rink and as everyone said “surprise” he was stunned. He saw friends from our old church where he pastored for 15 years, kids and parents from his coaching football days. He didn’t know what to think.

I had to fool him by telling him that Andrew (our youngest) had gone rollerblading and had fallen. He was so upset because of some sport Andrew was playing and he had told him to NOT GET HURT.  Mike fumed all the way to the rink but was totally surprised when he walked in to see all the smiling faces. We had a blast that day.

I have so many memories of our journey together on earth.

I “wish” he was here on what would be his 66 birthday. Of course, he would not be happy I printed that age as he looked so young…and acted even younger. As a history teacher at Belleville High School his students thought he was so old…45. He would laugh and say IF they would just add up the years of when I was in the Marines (during the Viet Nam War) they would know I was older than 45.

Mike CaulkNot many people saw Mikes sensitive side because of his outgoing personality in public. But, he was so sensitive and aware of pain in others. He hated to see any human mistreated. He was devastated when Jamie and Lillian left us. He was only able to read Chapter One of my book I was writing because he would just break down.

Of all of our children, Jamie and Mike were the most alike in their sensitive and competitive natures.

Not only did they compete against each other in every sport they played but when Mike was getting his Masters degree they competed over grades. LOL

I wonder if they are still competing in our eternal home?

The love of Mikes life was flying and everything to do with aviation. He loved building model airplanes and 12″ action figures. I called them his dolls. Now I am slowly boxing them up and selling some of the hundreds he had in our basement.  Last spring,

Last spring, Andrew and Christa were having a heart to heart talk on the deck. Andrew was struggling with how God could do this to our family. He had his head down, when all of a sudden a plane flew over our house with a  tail behind it and the words “TRUST JESUS”.  He looked up and said, “well I guess that is my answer.” He came running up to tell me with the biggest smile on his face.

Coincidence? I think not.

So today on Mike’s birthday as I reflect on who Mike was as a person, loving husband, father, and grandfather. I am grateful for our 35 years together and all the memories I hold in my heart. He changed me and I would not be who I am today without his love.

We will see you soon!

Muffy

 

Mike and I 1

Caulk kids at football game

Happy Birthday Jamie,

Jamie Birthday Card

To say we miss you seems so trivial… I keep waiting for this “new normal” to happen that everyone says will happen. I’m not sure I really believe in that concept because our family is just NOT the same without you and dad and “Lily”.

I’m not sure I really believe in that concept because our family is just NOT the same without you and dad and “Lily”.

I think that is one of the hardest things for all of us, Christa, Matt, Andrew and Allyssa, is that the whole family being changed in such a short time has thrown us all off-balance.

It just doesn’t “feel” right, like being in a new family.

How is that normal?

All of us have grown closer if that was possible.

Life Lessons

 


I have learned that everyone who is living will experience loss and suffering and only then do people understand grief. Recently, I was visiting someone in the hospital and got to chatting with a family who was standing outside. They were going to see their 80-year old mother who had just lost her son. She was the sister and it was her brother who had died. The mother just could not handle the grief so they had to admit her.

I understood, but many people would have not understood how a 80-year old mother could be in such crippling grief over the loss of her 62-year-old son.

The first year you went to heaven I was completely numb and in shock.  When the numbness and shock wore off, I walked around dead or on auto-pilot. I did what I had to do, sold homes and read so many books on Heaven I could write one myself.

The second year I focused on writing your story to be able to help other families going through a traumatic situation. The book is finished and I am just waiting for a physician to finish editing the medical part. Working on the book and doing all the research allowed me to focus beyond my pain.

We are now in the third year and again I am going through ANOTHER transformation. In the book, You Can Heal Your Heart, by Louise Hay she says and I have found it to be profoundly true is that:

“Grief is the window that provides the opportunity to examine your primal thinking about relationships.”

When death invades a home, in the beginning friends, family, acquaintances rally around, bring food, text to check on you, call and do all the wonderful things to help you get through your loss. Then it stops, perhaps they think we are “over it” and we are “back to normal”.

Truthfully, what else could they do?

People have their own lives to live, with all of their own challenges.  But we are still HERE facing the days and nights without you and dad and bear. Life for someone grieving can be a very dark, and lonely place. There have been so many times where I had to beg God to give me the love and forgiveness He has for them and to heal my heart from the disappointments.

The joy I get is when I am helping and advocating for others in worse situations than me. Children who have been ripped out of the arms of their loving parents due to the crisis in medical kidnapping; parents whose children are suffering from cancer.  So heartbreaking and I can “feel” the pain and grief they are walking through.

So yes I am being shaken up on what is important in life and what does God want me to do to finish my race.

Celebrating Jamie Caulk

Jamie caulk on set at Lee University So here we are on your 31st birthday and even though you are not physically present you are still inspiring and motivating me to live life with a sensitivity to others. You were amazing at this and gifted in understanding when people were in pain.

One of the sweetest most inspiring letters we got about you was from this girl:

I guess five years ago or so I was at Starbucks completely utterly totally overwhelmed. I had been assaulted and had just found out that I was pregnant.

I had no clue what I was going to do. I went to Starbucks. And your brother was in line and he pulled me aside and asked if he could pray for me. He prayed for the life that was to be.

He prayed that I would have peace and that God’s grace and love would surround me. He looked at me and said “Be brave. God never gives us something we can’t handle. We serve a faithful and mighty God.”

I cried and cried to this complete stranger and poured my heart out of all the questions I had wondering where God was and how my plans had failed. And he looked at me without judgment and said “God’s plans are so much bigger than ours. You have to trust him. Your faith will get you through this!! Sometimes God has to take us through pain to get us back where we need to be. To make us remember that we are not in control and that He has this bigger and better plan than we could ever imagine.”

I cannot tell you what those words did for me. I now have a little girl and I cannot imagine my life without her. Never did I imagine my life like this but never would I change it.

I never got to thank your brother. He was a complete stranger to me and as far as I was concerned he was God’s messenger to me that day.

So even though I cannot thank him here on this earth I will get to thank him in eternity. And I wanted You to know how thankful I am for his life here on earth!!

 Jamie Caulk See you soon

Jesus says, in John 16:33 to “Be of good cheer”.  The new house is nearly ready for you. Moving day is coming. The dark winter is about to be magically transformed into spring. One day soon you will be home—for the first time.

Meanwhile, we on this dying Earth can relax and rejoice for our loved ones who are in the presence of Christ. As the apostle Paul tells us, though we naturally grieve at losing loved ones, we are not “to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Our parting is not the end of our relationship, only an interruption. We have not “lost” them, because we know where they are. They are experiencing the joy of Christ’s presence in a place so wonderful that Christ called it Paradise. (excerpt from Randy Alcorn’s , book Heaven)

When I think of you which is every day, multiple times. I don’t look at the sky and clouds. I look around at our lake house, our home in Saline, the earth I am now living on and the places I visit.  I KNOW that one day we will all be together on the New Earth without the curse of sin and death and without the suffering and corruption of our political systems.

I take the advice you gave the young lady as my own from you, “God’s plans are so much bigger than ours. You have to trust him. Your faith will get you through this!!

Mostly I long for never having to say, good-bye again.

Happy Birthday “Jamo-Pup”, I love you to the moon and back,

Mom