This past week has been filled with mixed emotions for a lot of parents as their children returned to school. Reading posts on Facebook and seeing the many pictures reveal a truth we all know too well and are happy to see that our children have grown.  The children are bigger than they were last school year.  That is the sweet part of the moment. The bitter part is, the same thing, our children have grown. A bittersweet moment.

I kept my 16 month old granddaughter this past Monday.  Just a few months ago I was able to hold and snuggle with her as she slept in my arms. This time, she did not want to be held and snuggled. She wanted to lay in her crib to nap. Have I lost the special time of holding and rocking my granddaughter to sleep as when she was new-born or just a few months old?  Oh I am sure there will be special times she will let me hold and rock her. Like when she is not feeling well or wants me to read a book to her or even play lap games.  The time is coming when she will be more independent and insist things be a little different.  Not being able to hold her and rock her to sleep, or hold her in my lap to read, will be a loss, another bittersweet moment.

Time moves on and seasons change. Fall is in the air and many of my friends are ready for the crisp nights and cool mornings. Already brisk walks in the falling leaves are being planned. I too, am ready for the changing of leaves and the Friday night fires and s’mores in the backyard.  Yes, Fall, I am ready for you to arrive!

Seasons change. There is a new freshness in the air! As  Fall approaches, I have been thinking about the new season soon approaching in my life.  My work experience includes having been a registered nurse, hospital chaplain, and associate pastor. This past year I have been working as an administrator at the Baptist association in Virginia in which I am a member. I have really enjoyed working part-time, getting to know about the 23 churches in the association, pastors, pastoral staff, leaders, and members.  Planning and organizing various meetings has been part of my responsibility.  A large part of my responsibility has been to be open and available to the churches that call seeking information and help. It has been through these contacts, meetings, consultations, collaborations, and one-on-one visitations that has had a part in my deciding to move forward and prepare for a life change.

I want to add that while at this job, I completed my Doctor of Ministry. This job and my doctoral project went hand in hand. I had started work on the ministry project prior to this job.  The experiences in the job just enlarged my field of ministry.  My focus for the doctoral project was in grief, bereavement, and losses of lifeI had developed a grief and bereavement course and was teaching the class at a local funeral home.  As class participants shared their losses in life, I realized that the churches calling for help and information was also talking about their loss. Several churches had lost their pastor either through retirement, being called to another church, or a forced departure.  These churches were hurting and seeking help.  Several churches had experienced a number of deaths in a short amount of time. Churches were feeling the financial burden and loss of attendance.  They were hurting, grieving, and searching for help.

As a result of these contacts, life experiences, calls in wanting someone to listen, give resources, and make references, I felt a strong tug.  Years ago I had prayed, “Lord, where you send me, I will go.”  As I talked with a life coach about my concerns, loss of a life dream, losses in life, we began to talk about the threads in my life. The threads woven through my life revealed continuous and various roles in working with death, dying, grief, and bereavement.  Until this time, I had not realized how many times and ways God had allowed me the honor of walking with people during their last breath of life and walking them home, or of how many times God used me to walk with families, friends, and strangers through the process of death, dying, bereavement, and grief, as well as planning and leading funerals and memorials.  I too, had experienced the death of my parents, a child, and numerous other family members. A few of those deaths were tragic accidents. In 1993, a loss of life or close calls of death was experienced in my immediate family each month from May to December. A terrible year!

The revelation of the threads woven in my fabric of life has brought about a new season. I am no longer grieving the loss of a life dream! I am rejoicing with excitement and enthusiasm in moving forward into a new season of life! My husband is excited and we both are looking forward to what is in store.  There are many individuals hurting because of a loss of a job, home, family, pet, health, financial stability, or a loved one. There are losses we do not recognize as a loss. There are churches, businesses, schools, and organizations that are hurting in some way. Everyone experiences a major loss in life at some point in time and it is not always easy. My loss of a life dream is no longer my focus. My new season of  includes focusing on people through life coaching and helping them see through losses of life.

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