Hymn of Promise

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree; in cocoons, a hidden promise; butterflies will soon be free! In the cold and snow of winter there's a spring that waits to be, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There's a song in every silence, seeking word and melody; there's a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me. From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity; in our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity. In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see. ~~ words & music by Natalie Sleeth, 1986 United Methodist Hymnal

Sunday, July 5, 2009

In Loving Memory of my Beloved Sister!

7 years ago today is a day I will never forget for the rest of my life. I lost my baby sister, my best friend. She commited suicide. She would've been 47 yrs. old now. I'm not quite sure why I am doing this post. I am not trying to elicit sympathies. It's just that I think blogging offers us an outlet to our thoughts that we don't have in the non cyber world. I guess I want to share my memories in this new outlet with my new friends. So this post is in loving memory of my sister Carolyn and an opportunity to give voice to my constant thoughts about her life and her death.

Here we are at my wedding 25 yrs. ago! She was my matron of honor. 4 years earlier I had been her maid of honor. She was 17 when she got married. She had always wanted to be married in April like our mom so she hadn't even graduated from high school yet. I was the old maid in our family! My mother and my sister's, even my grandmother were all barely out of high school when they got married! In this picture (which I took of a picture) her first child was barely a year old.

Carolyn was my younger sister by 2 yrs. At times my best friend and then my worst enemy! Boy did we fight as children! Mother would try and settle our "disputes" by making us draw pictures of each other! We drew some pretty hideous faces, but always, as we drew and calmed down, each picture got prettier and prettier! Carolyn was the youngest out of 4 children. There were 6 & 8 yrs. respectively between us and our older brother and sister. My sister Carolyn loved me so much! I only wish I had showed her half the love I had for her! She had a difficult and rebellious youth, but my sister's heart was so tender and loving! As I'm writing this I am want to go on about her troubled life, our difficult teenage years as our father and mother struggled with his health issues. I have eluded to his brain surgery and resulting disability and the need for my mother to go to work in previous posts. My sister had her own set of issues which I cannot divulge but they only added to the turmoil of a young teenage girl. When I look back now, I think I handled these desperate years by taking control of the household as best I could while my mother went back to work and concerned herself with my father's health. Good Lord, I was no angel by any means! But I find that if something is bothering me I will seek out someone to talk to. Carolyn kept things to herself. When things in our lives are taken completely out of our hands there are those of us who grasp for what we can control and give the rest to God. Then there are those of us who seem tossed about on a rolling sea with no control as to where the tides will take us. That was my sister. I know that when things around here get too crazy I automatically start cleaning and organizing. Hey! You'd think my house would be spotless! (LOL) And the whole time I am working I am praying. I think my sister spent her life on the rolling sea without a life preserver, struggling not to drown. And then finally the only control she could muster was to let herself drown. Do I blame myself? People will advise you not to blame yourself for other's behavior. "Laura, it wasn't your fault she killed herself!" "Don't blame yourself!" The last time I saw my sister alive she was standing at her door waving goodbye to me as I left for the 6 hr. trip home from NW Arkansas to Memphis. She asked me to call her when I got home. I didn't. She called me. You see, it had been an emotionally exhausting visit. She had divorced her husband of 21 years just about 7 or 8 months before. She had been struggling with issues I cannot divulge but I knew she was suffering greatly! I wanted time alone with her to talk and visit. There was a man she was hanging out with and she seemed to want to spend more time with him than me. I didn't like this man and I didn't like the way she was living her life. I should've called her when I got home. She needed God so badly! But some people will not open that door for whatever reason they have come up with. I believe it was because she thought she was not worthy of His love and thusly believed Him to be more of a vengeful and judging God rather than loving and forgiving. I prayed the 6 hour drive to her house that summer of 2002 that God would give me all the right words and actions to help her open her heart to Him and if not me, then give someone else in her life the words! I know that I came across preachy sometimes when I would try and witness to her. I prayed for God to lead me. It only works if it comes from God! To this day I don't know what happened on that trip. Her suicide note was dated the day after I left. But it was to be about 2 weeks later she finally gave up her struggle. Giving it to God, I trust Him that my sister was so far gone in her struggles that peace for her on earth was not to be and only coming home to Him would she find the peace she so needed. In my heart this was not her choice. She was not able to make a rational choice, but God knows what we do not. He took her home. We played "In the Arms of the Angels" by Sara McClaughlin at her funeral. No, it is not my fault that my sister is gone from this earth but....I didn't love her enough. I didn't love her unconditionally. I know that we are not responsible for another's actions, but we are responsible for our own and I know now that I should have been praying for my ears and heart to be open to see where Carolyn was, how much she was hurting. If I had paid attention to the signs. The shotgun resting against the wall in the kitchen. The bills piled up on the kitchen table. The hopelessness I could feel in that house. I wish I had paid attention! Why don't we pay attention to each other? Jesus said the greatest commandment of all is to love God and to love yourself as you love God and then to love one another as you love yourself. Paul told us what love is: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1Cor. 13:4-7 I didn't love my sister this way. Do any of us love like this? "I" have not loved like this! Do you have any idea how many people commit suicide?! Suicide is an act of desperation and hopelessness. Why are there so many desperate people with no hope out there today? People need attention and appreciation so badly. I learned that I have a responsibility as a child of God to show love. We should go out of our way to show love, God's love, to everyone we meet. Maybe, just maybe, if we did, there would be more people feeling loved and appreciated and not desperate and alone.

I know this post is extremely long and I thank God for you if you've journeyed with me this far but I would like to share this prayer that we recited at my sister's funeral.

" God of us all, we thank you for Christ's grace, thru which we pray to you in this dark hour. A life we love has been torn from us. Expectations the years once held have vanished. The mystery of death has stricken us. O God, you know the lives we live and the deaths we die, woven so strangely of purpose and of chance, of reason and of the irrational, of strength and of fraility, of happiness and of pain. No mortal life you have made is without eternal meaning. No earthly fate is beyond your redeeming. Thru your grace that can do far more than we can think or imagine, fulfill in us your purpose that reaches beyond time and death. Lead us from strength to strength, and fit us for love and service in your kingdom. Into your hands we commit our lives. You alone, God, make us to dwell in safety. Whom, finally have we on earth or in heaven but you? Help us to know the measure of our day, and how frail we are. Hold us in your keeping. Forgive us our sins. Save our minds from despair and our hearts from fear. And guard and guide us with your peace." ~~ Amen Carolyn I miss you so very, very much!

32 comments:

  1. God Bless you and hold you in His loving hands. Hugs, Marty

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  2. Oh, Dear LauraLu! I'm so sorry to read this about your sister and I can feel your broken heart through your post! Dear One, I don't have a brother or a sister so I don't understand, as so many of my relatives tell me, the love of a sibling! But I can try to imagine. I wish I could say the right words to erase your pain. All I know is don't feel guilt! There are areas in our lives we would all like to change, but the past is the past. I will lift you up in prayer to our most marvelous loving God that He will surround you with His loving care and you will feel His presence!
    Blessings,
    Shelia

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  3. Lauralu--Thanks so much for sharing this. That was a very courageous thing to do and you may be the voice that someone needed to hear. Sometimes I feel better just by putting my thoughts on paper (I'm a journal keeper.) It seems to give my emotions a name. I know that you and I both believe that God can take every tragedy and use it for His glory. I cried myself when I heard "somewhere out there" I think of my mom when I hear this. I am putting in a special prayer for your peace tonight. Still hoping you will email me about lunch this week. Hope you can feel this big hug...

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  4. bless your heart for sharing with us! Your sister was a beautiful girl, and I know you must miss her terribly!
    have a great week!

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  5. Bless you sweetie, I am so sorry about your sister.. my prayers through my tears are for your peace.. You are a wonderful person Laura..God has you dear sister in His loving arms.. Please take care. Love, Cindy

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  6. I am so sorry and sad to read this, LauraLu. I am sure your sister is in good hands now and I hope you will have peace of mind. I can only imagine how much you miss her. I will say a prayer for her tonight and for you too....Christine

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  7. Lauralu: This post touched my heart so much! I can only imaine how difficult this has been, and I will keep you close in my heart and prayers!

    Lou Cinda

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  8. I'm so sorry to read this Laralu.
    Thank you for sharing your heart.

    I will say a prayer for you and Carolyn today.
    ~Blessings to you. ~Melissa

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  9. Wow...I am lost for words. God Bless you. I know it was hard for you to share this. I can't imagine how difficult it must be for you and your family. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, and pray for God to heal the pain.

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  10. Aunt Laura, I know this wasn't easy for you to share, but I know how just writing things down is soul soothing. I'll be praying for the family today!

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  11. With tears in my eyes and a heavy heart I cannot imagine your daily thoughts then or now. I admire you for posting such personal thoughts. I too find working on the blog a type of therapy. If only's are always lurking in our minds. In the end we know God has His plan in place. I'm sure she's with our heavenly Father and her demons are at rest. My thoughts and prayers go out to you. I only wish there was more I could say..sometimes it's best to be quiet and to know others are there for you... many many hugs ~lynne~

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  12. Lauralu, I am so sorry about your sister, and I know this is quite an extraordinary burden to bear. You have expressed yourself beautifully, and maybe you have helped someone else gong through this right now. May God's peace and surrender enfold you. Linda

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  13. Aunt Laura, you have always been a blessing to me and especially Carolyn. What I remember most is you two laughing. Carolyn didn't laugh much, but you made her laugh. It's a miracle that no one every got seriously hurt when we shot fireworks together on the 4th. Good memories are like precious jewels. Hold tight to those at times like this.

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  14. Lauralu, what a tragedy you have lived through. I am so so sad, I hardly have words to say to you. I am so glad that YOU have God in your life. I know He has walked beside you through your struggles with your sister's suicide, and I know He will continue to be with you. I hope that the writing of this post was helpful to you. Everyone seems to avoid talking about suicide when it happens. You know me, I believe in talking about everything, and I suspect you are right about your sister - it's just not healthy to hold it all inside. Sweet Lauralu, I'm saying a prayer for you. Love ya, laurie

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  15. Dear Lauralu! I hope you're feeling better today! You're a dear and I've thought about you often and said some prayers for you! Thanks for the visit! I just love it when you come to see me!
    be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;0

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  16. Hello my dear friend...

    Honestly...I've just been sitting here for several minutes trying to think of what to say to you Sweetie...I have no words...just prayers! It's just "in us" to want to fix things for people, isn't it? Even now I struggle with saying the "right" words that might bring some peace to you in your loss (hoping and wanting "to fix" all these burdens that you carry). Bottom line...we just can't fix everything and we weren't meant to...only the Lord in His infinite wisdom and mercies can do that!!! My dear friend, we have never met face to face but that doesn't matter...friendship is not hindered by distance of miles...I love you, Sweetie and my heart is heavy for you and your family! I pray that the Lord send His Spirit of comfort and peace to you...in Jesus' name!

    I love this scripture...
    "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty...HE shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler." Psalm 91:1,4

    There have been times in my life where I actually felt the feathery embrace of the Father as He lifted me into that secret dwelling place...I pray that even as you read this, you too will feel His presence dear one!!!

    I'm thankful for this outlet...it must have been difficult for you to write this post about your dear sister Carolyn! I am also thankful for your words and prayer...we all needed to hear them and may we all be more sensitive to the needs of those around us...and be in fervent prayer always!!! We are so limited but God isn't!!! Praise the Lord!!! There is one thing I do know, Laura...someone needed to read your post and hear your words, my friend! Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your life with us...you are very special to God!!! I can feel His love for you!!!

    I love you, Laura!!!
    Chari

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  17. Laura Lu- Thank you for your visit this morning- it so cheered me and I totally agree about friendships techy wise are still friendships and you are one of my little treasures here! I love the Mitford series and it may just be time to get those out again !

    I read your post about your sister and am so sorry for your loss. My sisters are so very dear to me. They were here those dark says on the breathing machine and held my hand and stroked my hair during those dark days after waking up.

    I am so very aware of my lack of love- and yet that is the old man the old us who has been crucified with Christ- if I will only let Christ spirit flow - I think sometimes we are not aware (and maybe it should really be that way all the time) of the way His love splashes on to others. When my dad was dying of cancer I asked the Lord what was I supposed to do- Dad was an alcholic and had wandered far from the Lord in his last days. God told me just to love him- I said- I don't even know what that looks like God- He said that's ok I do- just trust me! I don't know really what I "did" differently- a lot of repenting- there I go again Lord thinking it's all up to me!" Dad came to the Lord in His last days- not because of me but because of God's grace. I don't know the situation of your sis but it sounds like maybe she spent some time in the hospital or such after committing the sad and tragic act- I believe every moment of breath we have is not wasted by our Heavenly Father- those times of unconciousness are times of deep spiritual work going on- I just came from one of those times and it just reaffirmed that belief to me.

    Your heart is precious Laura Lu because your heart is the heart of Jesus- you are loving- I am loving ( have to preach to the choir here!) because we have the greatest source of love residing within these clay cracked pots we live in. Even in our times of self-sourcing God can use those for His glory.

    The verses in John 13:23 especially have been chewing verses for me this year. "Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved". Jesus loved all the disciples just as equally so what made it different for John? He took the truth of His belovedness to his heart and believed- thus He was able to lean on the breast of Jesus. Wow I so want to lean like that and I know it is only as i ,despite what my mind is telling me, taking to my heart that I am beloved, not because we decorate so cutely or do great things for him or any number of things but simply because HE LOVES US! I really feel this time of life is for that reason and so want to finally begin to learn what true rest in the Saviour is like!

    So sorry for my long post and it is probably such rambling as I am still pretty foggy from all the stuff given to me.

    I sure do need a curves around here! I have lost all muscle tone from laying in the hospital 10 days!!! I promise I am trying to be good! Please pray for DH - poor guy has to put up with me!

    blessings
    mary

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  18. Thank you for sharing this with us. Any reminders to love ....REALLY love the family and friends around us is always appreciated.
    Thank you,
    bj

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  19. Laura, how brave of you to share this story of you and your sister. I'm so sorry for all this pain in your life. You said it well. God knew it was time to bring her home to Heaven.

    God Bless you as you deal with this on the anniversary. Hugs...Donna

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  20. Laura, how did the party go last night? Are you going to post pictures of your "signing"? How exciting is that? If I get enough notice ahead of time, I would love to try to meet you and Susan for lunch in the big city. If it's on a week day, I'll have to get someone to work for me. Let me know when ya'll make your plans. laurie

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  21. Oh Laura Lu, I have never read a post from anywhere in blogland that has touched me more!!! I have cried and cried! I am sorry to hear about your Sister, but I am so thankful you shared the story with us! I do know what it is like to hurt for years, over "something" seems we all have a cross to bear...I know what it feels like to want peace more then anything!!!! Peace is something that can only come from God and I have to pray for it daily!!!! I stand on the Word and I have to give myself WORD treatments, with out the Word and Jesus in my life, I would be lost!! He has been everything to me that know one else could be!!! I have had to lean on Him...when I didn't feel I had another soul that cared! He's been my rock, He has kept me! It is so wonderful to have someone take a interest in your hurts, but when know one does there is JESUS! He's been my shoulder to cry on, when there was no one! I know what it's like to want to talk to someone about "hurts"...and I know what it's like to feel like you can't talk about it!!!! I am so thankful that I did know to go to the ONE that could and would deliver me from my pain!!!! He's a healer of crushed spirits!!!! Oh, I am so thankful for
    Him!!!!

    Well, I came by here to thank you for coming by and leaving me a comment about The Shoe Show. I would love to have you there! We will dance all day! So wear your dancing shoes... ;) Nancy

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  22. Laura, Thank you for that beautiful, powerful reminder. I'll be praying for you.

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  23. Hello Dearheart...

    Just read your sweet note...I was just elated to see you, Darlin'! How are you doing? Are you keeping busy with activities and projects? I've kind of missed you...haven't heard or seen you much! I do hope that all is well with you and your family, my friend!

    I'm doing fine! Recuperated from the Texas trip...just been busy, with having Russell home on vacation, kiddos, etc. We've had several home improvement projects going...lots of yard work and we've been updating our mud room/laundry room...adding cabinets and such! I've just been struggling to blog really!

    Well Sweetie...you'll have to fill me in on what you've been up to lately!!!

    Always in my heart and prayers, dear friend!
    Love ya,
    Chari

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  24. Evening, Dear Laura Lu! Oh, didn't I see you on someone else's blog meeting blog friends? Oh, this would be so much fun! Hope you're doing okay in your world! Thanks for popping in to see me.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

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  25. Hi Sweet friend! How is your week going?

    I think the nest letters are made from styrofoam- I am not sure if Kelly cut them out from a sheet (they are about 2+ inches thick ) or if you can find the letters precut- maybe Hobby Lobby or Micheals? They are very light in weight but as I mentioned are about 12 inches tall! I sure do love them - they are just adorable. I have a china hutch in the study area that I want to paint and think they would look great there! ( I refuse to start on the china cab till I get our room done!)I was going to put them in the breakfast nook but they are too big for the area that I had in mind. I promise that room will get done one of these days!! Can you even remember what it is supposed to look like after all these months!

    blessings
    mary

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  26. Hey Laura, are you doing okay, sweetie? Just wanted to stop by and thank you for your sweetness on my blog. Yes, I do love my business and being surrounded by pretty things all the time. It is such a joy. Hope you'll be back to blogging very soon. Donna

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  27. Well it sounds like you DID notice all the signs as you so eloquently listed them here in your blog...the shotgun, the bills piled on the table, the hopelessness in her home.... Thank God that you now recognize that people need concrete acts of kindness and not just preaching. It is redemptive and a way you can honor your sister, to admit you did not do enough. Little things, like help with paying the bills if financially capable go a long way toward LIVING the love of God and not just talking about it. To coin a cliche, "Words are cheap!" My heart aches for the pain your sister endured and no amount of justifying or Christian-ese will remove the guilt you are feeling LL. Only God can do that as you repent before Him with true contrition. Pride in the heart (thinking we're better), selfishness, materialism and sins of that nature are just as wrong (though easier to hide) than hanging with the "wrong man" and other more "outward" or "obvious" sins. Think about the Pharisees! Jesus had strong words for them (they LOOKED good outwardly). He spent most of his time with prostitutes and other such "unscrupulous" individuals. I have no doubt your sister is with Jesus right now. He understood her pain in a way no-one else did. He saw her beautiful and kind heart and that is what matters.

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  28. My story somewhat matches with yours the only differece is that my sister took her decision because of a step mom. Today we would celebrate her 30th bday, if she would be with us...
    varun
    varun.info@gmail.com

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  29. My oldest sister passed away today
    May 12 ,2014
    She was 65

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  30. My oldest sister passed away today
    May 12 ,2014
    She was 65

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Hello and God Bless! Thank you for visiting "Hidden Promise"! It's wonderful to get comments from you all! I think they are a great way to show our love, care and support of each other! Have a wonderful day! Lauralu :)