Are You Privately Living With Regrets?

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Every time this year, when a new year is approaching, we tend to think about resolutions. Either we want to lose weight, make more money, spend less, or travel more. It can be just about anything. Sometimes they are the very same resolutions we made last year only to find we fell very short of accomplishing what our goals were or are.

As I pondered the upcoming New Year and what I really want it to look like, some very unexpected thoughts entered into me. It was like I took a time travel back to when I cared for those much older than I; most of them dying. I recalled working on my doctoral dissertation on dream interpretation as well. Part of the dissertation was dedicated to dreams and also desires by those who were sick and dying. I know this could sound like I am approaching a morbid subject but actually I’m not, so stick with me.

Thinking about both my experiences ,and also my research, I began to remember vividly some of the things that were expressed as people were getting ready to enter into their next phase of living outside of the body. I’m convinced our spirit is alive and never ever dies, just as God is alive. Whatever your thoughts on this is beside the point. Let me move on. As I closed my eyes, my thoughts were filled with statements of regret that I heard over and over again. Some of them in person, some I heard of, and some I studied. Most were all the same. I’m going to list some of them here:

  1. I wish I took better care of myself while I had the chance.
  2. I should have told her/him “I love you” but was either afraid or negligent.
  3. I never realized just how fast time would go and I should have taken more time for what is really important.
  4. The office should not have been my top priority.
  5. My spiritual/devotional life could have been better and stronger.
  6. I could have made the choice to be more kind in circumstances and now I can’t change the aftershock.
  7. I should have considered my choices just a little more before I made them. I might have made a different choice had I thought things through more.
  8. I wish I had spent more time with my family instead of being busy, I could have been busy with them.
  9. Why didn’t I say, “I am sorry”? It could have healed the issue but my pride was in the way.
  10. I never took the time to enjoy the beauty of this earth. My mind and actions were always on things that really don’t matter now.

Maybe you can think of some for yourself. Close your eyes and imagine for a moment that today is the last day of your life. What would you greatly regret if you were leaving this earth today? Now, remember, you have time today, tonight, and hopefully tomorrow. Who needs to know you love them? What are you sorry for but have never expressed it to someone? Where have you always wanted to go? Who is the most important person to you and have you neglected them? Who has been there for you every single time but you never seem to say, “Thank you”.

If you were leaving your body tonight, think about it, would you have some regrets? I have watched tears falling down the faces of elderly people and some younger, while stating, “I never saw the Grand Canyon.” “I should have taken better care of myself because I might have more time with my loved ones had I done that.” “I wish I had not caused _______ so much pain and never healed it with them.”

This upcoming New Year as you consider your resolutions, maybe also consider if you have been silently living with regrets. They tend to come to the surface when faced with our mortality. Let them come now, with tears, with healing, and then with action. Don’t live another day with what you might regret tomorrow. Live in love, but love yourself first by honoring what is right, what is honest, what is your heart’s desire, and what love speaks to your heart. Then thank yourself. You are worth it.

Loving you from here,

Dr Jenine Marie Howry, PhD

Don’t Cause Your Brother, or Another to Stumble

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It’s not uncommon for me to get more than one message in a day. When I Pastored my churches I often had more messages lined up than I could give at one time! This one is so timely and important always. Being a female it always kind of bugs me that the Bible more often speaks lessons in the male personna rather than the female, but that is not what this is about.

As created people, for some reason we tend to love to pass some sort of judgement upon another. I am sure that is not what God intended for us when we were created. We are challenged daily to operate out of our higher God created self rather than our ego. The ego LOVES to point fingers, doesn’t it? Since I am on a roll here with brotherly, sisterly love and our “oneness“, another message came to mind. It’s about causing another to stumble. Meaning setting someone else up to fail in some way so they can be judged.

Oh how the ego loves this! Let’s check out and see if so and so will mess up so we can be high and superior. Let’s watch him/her FAIL. Oh my goodness. This saddens me more than most other things because it is not open hatred it is so called “justified deceitful hatred.” In the Bible, book of Romans chapter 13, Paul talks about not passing judgement on our brother and to not set up or put up a stumbling block in his way. This is simple to figure out. Don’t stick something in front of someone just to test them to see if they will fall for it and fail. Then they can be judged or punished in some way?

Let me give you an example from my life:

Before I was married I dated a so called “Christian man” who said he had become more than very fond of me. Yet, I always felt like I was on trial. Oh, he did some very nice things for me, kind of under the guise of testing me. We had a serious discussion about addictions one night over dinner. I’ve never had the usual up front well known addictions. Mine tend to be strange. Like one time I got real addicted to Hostess Cupcakes. It was after my son was murdered and I felt like nothing on earth could comfort me anyway. Yet, there I was often sitting in the parking lot of a local grocery store stuffing Hostess Cupcakes in my face and crying my brains out. Was not long before things started to not fit me right. I caught myself and decided to knock it off. I lost weight, got into my usual jeans again and that was that. I had told this story to my new “friend“, (and I say that loosely). He was a recovering alcoholic and supposedly had not had a drink in quite awhile.

Soon, my birthday came up and he invited me to have a little party in a beautiful setting and play in the snow. It was lovely. When it came to the time to go inside from the cold a table was set up before me for my birthday. One “gift” was a computer printed photo of us together just cut out of computer paper and the other was a pyramid of Hostess Cupcakes set up to look like a tiered birthday cake. They were all still in the wrappers and honestly it reminded me more of the shape of a wedding cake. On the top was one that was open and had a lit candle right in the middle. Now, this might seem kind of cute at first, right?

He asked me to go ahead, blow out the candle and have one! So, not wanting to be rude, I made my wish, blew out the candle and ate my Hostess Cupcake with gratitude. I asked him if he was going to have one and he said no. I thought that was strange. After I was done, he said, “Have another one!” Can you see where this is going? He was testing me to see if I was going to be addicted to the cupcakes and keep trying to eat them! How absurd it sounds now! My “No thank-you,” was met with “Are you sure?”

Then came the other fun part. He pointed out the computer printed copy of the photo of us and asked how I liked my birthday present. I guess if he was in poverty, and honest, it might have been touching. He was only trying to get a reaction out of me, or some sort of disapproval. I told him it was sweet. As I look back, I realize the entire time I was being “tested“. He was always trying to see if I was “marrying material“. Actually, I don’t think he was marrying material for me!

I’ve often had discussions with others as to whether God “tests” us to see if we will be tempted to go for something and fail. I want to assure you right now, God does NOT do this to His created children! Seems to me the only tester and tempter was Satan in the Biblical story, so how could it be Godly? Let me give you some blessed assurance here. God never sets up His children for failure and then judge them. It is not His nature or character. Humans test each other, set up stumbling blocks and then judge and point fingers. Even worse, they punish. Believe me, this is not wisdom and it is not Godly either.

Since we live in a universe of reaping what we sow, would you want to be the one to test someone just to see them fall on their face, get angry, be hurt, or punished? I know I wouldn’t want that. But we do reap what we sow. I trust in that universal law of lovely Karma. Good ole’ Karma. We always know when she’s been around because it often feels like a slap in the face. Actually it’s a lesson to be learned.

Before you have to learn this lesson, let me spare you. Don’t set up your brother, or anyone, to stumble! Do NOT test another human being with the intent to see if you will have to punish or judge them! You might end up on the wrong side of the Karmic wheel and it won’t feel very good.

I always loved the song “Light of the World”.

“Light of the world shine on me, love is the answer. 

Shine on us all, let us see, love is the answer…” 

I hope this message is relevant. I know to many it could be. Tripping someone up is not a loving thing to do. Not in any situation. Putting someone to the test to see if they are worthy just might cause YOU to be the one who is unworthy someday when you stand in the Light of God. Don’t do it.

Loving you from here,

Dr Rev Jenine Marie Howry

A Lesson from the Cross We Don’t Always Think About

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Easter weekend always brings a sense of spring, good weather, celebration, family, and food. Alright, these days sometimes the weather is not all the greatest around. But Easter brings up thoughts of chocolate, hard boiled and dyed eggs, leg of lamb and family gatherings.

In the Christian church the focus is on Jesus, the cross, His sacrifice, His rising, and His love. In a time of celebration, the church has been lifting up Jesus every year for centuries for His acceptance of an experience that has gone down in history as one of the most profound acts of sacrificial love ever known to humankind.

I have been so contemplative recently, as I meditated on the cross and what Jesus endured that day on Calvary’s mountain. I let my mind wander to the scene in the garden when Jesus prayed, sweat and cried, with blood, and anguish. He knew He was going to be crucified. Did He want this? Who would? We know He did not in his words, “Father please take this cup from me.” Following those words were the bravest surrender that humankind has ever known. He said, “but if it be Your will Father…”

This whole scene brought me to the point of this message. Jesus was completely willing to move head on right into one of the most graphic death scenes one could ever imagine. His problem loomed before Him. His choices were completely His to make. He could have called upon the angels and He could have been saved from the fate that awaited Him. Instead, He chose to not side-step the issue, but to face it, embrace the lesson, the experience, and the outcome. With trust and faith, Jesus carried the cross He would soon die upon down a road that most would never have chosen to take. No one saved Him from this fate, not even Himself. Beaten down and torn from whipping and lashing, He still moved forward and faced what He had prayed to not have to do.

My point? As humans, it seems like most of us would do anything to avoid pain. Usually we turn to something that comforts us; a habit or diversion from the issue. We turn to food, money, shopping, drugs, alcohol, sex, and the list goes on. We like to do anything that will take the sting out of what we see ahead of us. Instead of facing it head on, we seek to dull our senses, take on the wound, and forsake the healing or “rising”. We forget that pain is a part of life. We forget the lesson from the cross that pain comes before the rising and there is no shortcut, and nothing that can dull our senses enough to change this truth.

How many of us can think back and know for sure had we faced our issues head on without trying to divert from the problem, we would have come through with healing to our hearts and the rising would have come afterward? The honest truth is the only way to our personal rising is to face every problem, every pain, and every situation, head on with dignity. Our words should be, “If it be Your will Father…”  The reality is without facing and walking through the painful part, there is no healing. We want to not “feel”. Since when did feeling become so hard? It’s not pleasant for sure, but the rewards are great.

I thought about the death of my own son. My mind went back in time to the days, nights, and lonely moments in my own garden of anguish. For me, there was no sudden healing, no escape, no shortcut. I did not deaden my pain with alcohol, drugs, food, or anything else. Honestly, there would be nothing that could help me or make me feel any better. There was no side stepping the pain. It just “was”, and sometimes still “is”. When others want to know how I survived the loss of my 20 year old son, my answer always has to be, “I faced it head on with God and God alone”. It was the only way I knew I could survive with some form of wholeness left in tact.

As I continued to meditate this week, I thought of Mary, the mother of Jesus. In days gone by, I wondered how she survived watching her son die. Now I know. She was right there, front and center. She faced the pain head on and when it was over, she privately processed the pain. There was no side stepping, and no numbing the feeling or senses. Only she could have been chosen for the part she played in the most dramatic death scene one could imagine. She survived afterward, and so did I. Was life the same? Of course not, it had dramatically changed forever.

The lesson is there, in the message of the cross. Facing our greatest fears and greatest pain with dignity, faith, and determination is the only way to heal from anything. There is no side stepping this truth. The outcome might not be known to us. We have to take the steps down the road, just as Jesus did toward Calvary. We have to carry our load, but ironically it’s the only way our load can ever be taken from us or off of us. The burden is lighter when we understand there is a reason. The task is endurable when we remember the pain always has to be endured before we rise. No exception. Its truth.

Loving you from here,

Dr. Rev Jenine Marie Howry

Bear Your Soul

cry-out-to-jesusI’m not sure if this blog post is education or expression. Maybe it’s a little bit of both of them. That would not be altogether a bad thing, would it? Expression is important to us, especially when we direct it toward God. He listens and hears even when others pass us over. In fact, He listens to the silent pains of our hearts. Just like he did with Hannah. Hannah wanted to desperately have a child and she was taunted because she could not produce. Her pain was so intense that when she prayed she could not even get words out that could even match what was in her heart. So she silently prayed in anguish before God in the temple. She felt crushed and bruised on the inside and she felt rejected and forgotten by God.

1 Samuel 1:11 (12)

“Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried—inconsolably.”

“Hannah was praying in her heart, silently. Her lips moved, but no sound was heard.”

Sometimes we get like that. The issues we deal with in life are so hard that there are no words that can even express them. If we were to give them to people, they sure would not sound very good. Plus there comes a time when expressing to people no longer serves us and only God can console our hearts.

For Hannah, she just had to get it out to God, and in a way that was honest and true. Her silent petitions inconsolably went before Him in ways maybe human ears should never have heard. I’m sure her pain was overlooked by those who looked down on her for not being able to conceive a child during times when producing children identified a woman. God and God alone was her only option. I am sure she must have felt He was her last option. (He should have been her first option).

There she was, bearing her soul to the One who made her and understood her. She let out her hurt, her anger, her anxiety, depression, and sadness. Her words of promise went before Him. She requested if God would allow her to conceive she would dedicate her child to Him in service. God saw her, heard her, and met her in that place. He also granted her petition of faith and she conceived a child.

There is something about bearing our soul to God. It is a powerful move. His power and strength are shown great through our weakness and vulnerability. Don’t ever be afraid to be vulnerable before God. He knows you. He made you. If we want strength, and also to be heard, sometimes it takes a silent petition of the heart to God. Healing comes from bearing our soul. Sometimes we need to emotionally bleed out in order to remove old scars and allow healing to begin. This is what Hannah did. She bled out her heartache. Jesus did the same in the Garden of Gethsemane before He bore the cross. Both Hannah and Jesus had to accept the will of God after their petitions. One birthed a child, the other died on a cross and birthed us all. They bore their souls and God responded according to His perfect will.

If you are at a place of truly needing healing, and to be heard, and you have emptied your entire self to other people without understanding, maybe it is time to bear your soul to God? What does it solve to keep it inside of you? If you have prayed with others, talked your head blue, and wondered why things are not working with no results, then maybe it is time to drop to your knees and pray like Hannah. When you do, remind God of His promises and then accept His will. Be real. Be authentic. God knows it all anyway, so let it all rip. Believe me, it helps more than you might know.

Prayerfully on the journey,

Pastor Jenine Marie Howry

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You Can’t Heal from Love: Surviving the Loss of a Child

th0UQQ2EAJI wish I could come at this one as a professional but I can’t. I have to write it as a survivor and a mother. You see, I lost my son. Don’t ask me how long its been because time is irrelevant. Some of the sting does go away with time but the memories, the feeling of missing him, the love I have; these things remain. The Bible says that three things always remain and those are faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love. The truth of the matter is, the greater we love the harder it is when we lose someone we love deeply. Loss of any loved one is very hard, but losing a child seems to be the very worst.

My son was 20 when he died. I will spare you the details because after a bit of time they don’t really matter any more. All I know is that tonight its hard. There are times that are harder than others. I think it is because once again it is Christmas and once again I will not hear my son’s laughter. I want to hear it so much. I know some day I will, but the waiting is hard, the missing him is hard, the loving him is hard as well. I remember the good times we had, the hard issues we dealt with , and the time that went way faster than I wished it did.

I’ve been asked over the years how I deal with the loss. My only answer is that I just do. I go with the flow. When it hurts, I let it hurt. When I am thinking of fond memories and I feel better, then I am blessed to feel better. My life has gone on from the original sting but the hard moments still come and I have discovered that they always will. Tonight, while I write this, I miss him deeply. My heart goes into this aching thing, and I want to tell him I love him one more time. I think of the last time I hugged him good bye as he was getting on a plane to leave. I think of our last words on the phone and that they were, “I love you”. I know he still lives because my heart hurts. He lives in there where love resides.

I don’t want to know how to get over it and I don’t want to be a professional about grieving. That is one area I just leave as it is. I survive. I live each day as they come and usually they are just regular every day days. Every now and then my heart skips a beat because I will see someone who looks like him or sounds like him. I will stop and stare where ever I am.

Someone told me once that grief is like waves of the ocean. It washes over us and then moves back only to wash up again. I understand this concept and it does feel just like that. I’m thankful that I don’t feel as I did in the beginning. It was horrible. Now it is manageable. Sometimes I have dreams with him in them. They are always so vivid and sometimes even seem to have a message attached. Do I think he lives beyond the grave? I sure like to think so. I do know I will see him again and it will be a great reunion. I have no idea how that really works. We only know in part and when that day comes we will know things how they truly are.

In the mean time, I see him in the arms of Jesus. That’s how I like to see him. All I can do is hope he is happy wherever he might be at this moment and understand that some day I will know that answer. Those who know me have said I am strong but I sure don’t feel like that when it comes to this. It is the only thing on this earth that has dropped me to my knees faster than anything ever could. A parent will always see her offspring as a child, no matter how old they get or if they live on earth or not. When I let my love for him expand in my heart it is almost like he is here with me so I try to do that as much as I can when I miss him.

If you are reading this and you have lost a child. My heart beats with yours. I know it is hard. Sometimes I ask Jesus to take the pain away, but He has lead me to understand that I will not heal from love and missing someone who has left this earth. He is a part of me. Just like we are one body of Christ. Our children are a deep part of us and when they are gone there is a part of us that is missing as well. Our soulful body will ache for that part, always. It’s a great thing to have loved that much. Its a wonderful thing to have witnessed the breath of a child we brought into this world. God gives us such joy at the moment we first look into their eyes. Its like that little soul shines brightly right at that moment. I like to think that Jesus witnessed my son’s smile when they met once again. Maybe He got to see the light shine in his eyes and it made Him joyful. One can only imagine….

Just being Jenine

“To love is the greatest thing on earth. It will last forever, eternal. It is what we are here for; to love, to heal, to grow.”