A voice silenced — Pastor Jim Bell’s Jottings

My friend and fellow blogger – Pastor Jim Bell – has gone home to be with Jesus. My heart is aching though I know he is in the best place any of us can be in. Still… I will miss him.

I wish to write that my heart goes out to his family… but I’m not sure I can express adequately how my heart is grieving. Pastor Jim was my friend and fellow blogger and cheerleader. My strength during hard times and the kind voice that kept me going.

This good and faithful servant is home now. One day I will have the privilege of meeting him in person, in heaven, sharing our wonderful Jesus!

He is resting in peace.

Please go to his blog (see below) and find inspiration and love and at times a push… His voice will live on through his blog.

Yesterday, my father James H. Bell passed from this world into the loving arms of Christ at 8:24 a.m. He was 80. His passing was peaceful, at home, and with his loving wife Kay, his daughter Lisa and myself at his side. About six months ago, he made a courageous choice to take control of […]

via A voice silenced, but it will live on here…. — Pastor Jim Bell’s Jottings


It took me many years, but I finally get it. ashamed_face_4053.jpg

I’m ashamed. Sad.

“Hello, my name is Lene and my mom was an alcoholic”. I’m not. I can’t even stand the smell of beer – or blood – … for good reason.

I never before understood why she drank. Sure, have a nightcap or a glass now and then. But she drank daily and… now I understand.

The other day I took a glass of white wine. I don’t normally drink… The past week has been a really bad week. So I turned on the tv and had my glass of wine. I don’t know what I thought it would do, but Jesus opened up my eyes to something.

It tasted fine. Actually very nice.

I found relief in the bottom of that glass. The pain of my heart – the overwhelming overtaking pain of helplessness went away and I actually laughed at something ridiculous on the tv.

Alcohol numbs the senses.

It made me “not care” so much. It was such a relief.

It wore off and I felt ashamed.

Not that I had taken a glass of wine. But that it had taken me so many years to figure out why my mom kept drinking. Daily. Too much. And paid the highest price possible: Her life.

When she drank she didn’t care so much. She didn’t feel the hurt and pain inside her or around her.

I finally understand.

intensive-care-unit-clip-art-1383980.jpgThe only reason why I’m sharing this with you, my fellow bloggers, is because I want to tell you – whisper in your ears – that I’m not an alcoholic and I won’t ever be. But now I understand why people, especially the sensitive types, feels such a need to “drown the sorrows in the bottle”.

But it leads… no place good. 10273974088957968_1357953156.jpg

I’m thankful I know Jesus and the tug in my heart will prevent me from drowning my sadness.


The story of my mom can be found here : How my mom passed away




The hidden part of grief

Okay, maybe it’s not so much hidden as it’s me just now realizing it… 

Sometimes a year seems like a very long time. Sometimes it just flies by. The past year has done both.
When I think of my daughter’s anxiety, depression, psychiatrist, psychologist, counseling, medication, fears and experiences, the year has passed by like a snail on the German autobahn!

But when I think of my dad and last summers long hard walk from hospital to hospice, watching him in agonizing pain despite extremely high dosages of morphine, to the phone call the morning of august 16th that it was over, to the funeral and the immediate grief that takes a hold of the heart when loosing a loved one – this past year has flown by faster than a Star Trek warp drive!


It feels like it was just the other day that my brother and I went with the pine tree coffin, because dad loved nature so much and I simply couldn’t imagine him in the usual white one. We selected a natural stone and picked the duck, the fish and the stag for decorations on the stone for his burial site.IMG_3201.jpg


The grief has come in tidal waves. Some weeks were a lot harder than others. But after a year; grief is still here. I don’t believe we ever get over the loss of a loved on. But in time we learn to live with them being gone. I’m still learning. Every day it gets a teeny tiny bit easier.

There are different kinds of grief. We grieve when losing a loved one, but we also grieve when we learn that our child has anxieties/depression or some other debilitating issue.

That is a devastating grief too and anyone who has lived it, will know it.child-sad.png

I have help from above because I know Jesus is with me. But being a believer does not by any means except anyone from experiencing pain, sorrow, grief and sadness. Jesus experienced all of that too, so that we could have a high priest who understands our weaknesses.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT)
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Grief isn’t an illness. It’s a condition of the heart in which weakness is present for the time it takes to process the grief. 

A weakness I can’t handle without the Lord’s help and here’s why: This past year has taught me that grief leaves me vulnerable to temptations, fear, anger, irritability, indulging etc. In other words; It leaves me weak. In the natural process of grieving, I actually sin or do/feel things that can lead to sin.

No’b, I’m not proud of it… But I now understand that Jesus indeed knows every one of my weaknesses. So I can come boldly before His throne and find Grace to help me when I need it the most and that is the light in the middle of dark grief.


Psalm 34 – The voice (& NLT)


As my last post “What book?” clearly indicated, I was facing a critical, sad, mentally rough time and I asked what book in His Holy Word to read, when dealing with grief. With many responses I got places to start, so from the bottom of my heart, I thank those who commented.


how-grief-works.jpgI was desperately seeking relief of the heavy pain that grief placed upon my shoulders. Daily people loose people to death, expected and unexpected deaths. Daily some poor soul will face grief. Some looses loved ones to heaven and in their grief they can rejoice in knowing their loved one went to a better place. I’m not in that position, though I make the conscious choice of believing at least my dad went to heaven. But even so, the sting of grief, stings those who are left behind.


Only the Lord knew WHERE my relief were to be found. In HIS care, HIS peace and in HIS promises alone.

No book of the Bible could help me feel better, but only the truth of His promises – and by His mercy, for His Glory, the Lord orchestrated a Bible verse sent to my inbox through one of the many daily devotion automatic mail subscriptions that are in existence.

When I read it, I immediately knew this was from my Jesus!


Psalm 34:17-19 (the Voice)

17 When the upright need help and cry to the Eternal, He hears their cries
    and rescues them from all of their troubles.
18 When someone is hurting or brokenhearted, the Eternal moves in close
    and revives him in his pain.
Hard times may well be the plight of the righteous—
    they may often seem overwhelmed
    but the Eternal rescues the righteous from what oppresses them.

Or the New Living Translation (if you prefer):

The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
The righteous person faces many troubles
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.

When we loose a loved one, who decided not to follow Jesus, the grief is devastating and riding that tidal wave seems impossible. Adding to that is the simple yet tremendous loss of the love that can no longer be received. In other words: it’s okay to be devastatingly sad!

Do Believers/Christians often feel a pressure to “be okay”, because we have the hope living in us, so rejoice!? – Are pastors quick to say “Do not direct your anger at God. That’s a sin”? – Do we watch friends/church families loose loved ones (saved and unsaved) and just carry on with their lives because “be joyful always” linger in their ears?… I wonder how many tears are cried behind closed doors, because we are seemingly expected to behave in a certain way.  My point is that young believers learn from older believers and if the older believers hide their grief or do not share that there is pain involved and it’s okay, it becomes all the more difficult to talk about.

Let’s not forget that Jesus grieved too. He was also human with feelings. He knows.

But the Lord comes close and through His presence, I was rescued once more from the pit of despair. I must “shake it off”… as hard as it is, it’s the only way forward and I can only do that while clinging on to my God.

He is my family, my Father, my brother and my Light. He is my portion and He is enough.

Remain Blessed in Him at all times, no matter what you go through

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and death shall be no more…


“What is wrong with my mom’s family??”… “Why do they tend to die really really really young?” I think… as I’m sitting here typing, trying to grasp the sad news just delivered to my mailbox. My mind is in turmoil and wanders off in all directions – but ends up with Christ.

For when all is said and done, all that really matters is Christ.

As far as I know and as much as I have heard, she never believed. And now it’s too late.

“Oh sweet Jesus”, I think, “why did she not…”- but then I must stop myself. Because it was never really up to me. Her faith – or non-faith whatever that may mean in our world – was not my decision. If Christ had wanted it, He would have pulled her closer.

The woman who passed away Wednesday night was my aunt on my mother’s side by marriage and the last living relative I had on my maternal side with whom I had any contact. She had shortness of breath Tuesday evening and was taken to the hospital where she had a heart attack. She was revived after 28 min but by then, her brain was dead. Her two sons decided to terminate life support and donate her organs. Her life saved 2 others. So I’m told.

Do we as humans have the authority to decide when our loved one dies?

According to the Bible only God has that authority.

And yet – through this unbelieving family, through the sons of my aunt, the Lord used their decision for good. He saved 2 others.

I’m still grasping the loss of this wonderful person. She had only just last month turned 50 years old. I can’t imagine how much I’m going to miss her. She was my aunt, my friend and family. But I’m praising the Lord for saving 2 others through her and I’m thankful to have had her in my life.

I so wish I could say Rest in Peace my beloved, but I can’t and that hurts. A painful reminder that all that really matters is Christ.





On a glorious day full of sunshine and mild breeze we buried my dad.

The day leading up to the funeral and on the day of the funeral I had my emotions all under control and my grief all wrapped up in “in his condition it was the best thing”. It was undoubtedly the best thing to happen to my dad for there was no hope of recovering at all and the pain was terrifying. To him and to the ones who loved him.

IMG_3201 IMG_3203

The service in church was short but beautiful. It was in my dad’s spirit in every way, the hymns were selected according to his great passion: Nature. His casket was a handmade pine tree casket staying faithful to the nature he so loved. My brother and I chose his burial site and independent of each other chose the same spot on the cemetery: The one on top of the hill, where he had the view to the river and the fields behind him.

Since the burial I have been trying to get my act together both practically in terms of getting back home and also emotionally, because the day after the funeral I just fell apart. Words can’t express how much I miss him. His voice. His laughter. His presence. I know it was His timing and it was indeed perfect and how grateful am I to have had the chance to walk the last 2 1/2 months with my dad!! I know he was sick and it couldn’t be different. Everyone I talk to tries to tell me how good it was that my dad now has peace. Yes, it’s good. I also hear how relieved I must feel. Maybe I am. But – it’s grief. And it’s so easy to wrap grief up in illness. Grief means to loose a loved one. No matter if it was a car accident or a sick person or a 90 year old great grandmother. It’s still grief and grief matters.

My grief is personal and at this stage, I get the feeling I’m not really allowed to feel this way. Missing him. Because it was best for him to depart from this world. Yes… it was. I can’t and won’t argue with that. But my grief is still personal and I miss my dad and I will grieve and cry and feel this way until I learn to live with it. With the Lord’s help I will learn to live with it.

Tomorrow we fly back home and I am torn in my heart. I have to say goodbye to my dad’s home… and it hurts. I’m not likely to ever see this place again and it makes me want to stay. I do want to go back home and get away from all these hard emotions and being “around my dad 24/7”, but I don’t want to leave.

Praying for good weather and an easy flight tomorrow. Asking the Lord to keep my heart in one piece as we fly out and for a good start on life back in Japan.

With love and thanks for any prayers.

My dad passed away

On Sunday morning early I got the phone call from my brother, that the hospice had called and our dad had past away shortly after midnight, August 16th 2015. Curiously, it’t the date when the hunting of deers begin in Sweden. Something my dad hasn’t missed before.

The shock wasn’t there. We knew it was close. We knew it had to happen. I can’t say I felt relieved in any way because I honestly didn’t. I felt empty and lost inside. So we focused on what we needed to do: Meet the undertaker, call the cemetery people and priest and arrange for the funeral and the restaurant arrangements for after.

The nurses at the hospice told us briefly that he had felt bad a few hours in the evening and they had given him pain relief and something to calm him. They could tell on his breathing that it was close, but since we had requested that unless we could do some good by being at his bedside, they shouldn’t call us until morning. So they didn’t.

They had dressed him in his hunting clothes and he looked very nice and peaceful as he laid on the bed. His soul had gone home and his remains was what we had to say goodbye to. My brother gave him his binocular and gave him “a hunters salute”. I gave him his hunting knife and said my teary goodbye. He felt cold. He looked pale. But of course without his soul, it’s just an empty shell. Still, it’s the “shell” I have learned to recognize and love as “dad”. And I miss him! I know it was for the best and he is at peace now. But I miss him.

His funeral is Friday. He will be laid to rest in a pine tree coffin and we ordered beautiful flower arrangements in blue and white and green colors. My daughter is scared of the funeral, because it’s connected to her grandpa or because she never tried it before I do not know. She stops talking the second I mention funeral.

The hospice place a card in a photo frame and lit the candle in honor of my dad. The print says “Today we said goodbye to Egon Kjær Rasmussen. Honor be to his memory”. I thought it was beautiful.


3 days

It’s been 3 days of something I’m not sure what to call. Putting words on what has happened feels a bit pointless but utterly important. On the inside I’m angry and sad and fearless and brave and a tiny baby who just wants to curl up and forget there is something called “a world”. Confused.

When I went to the hospice 3 days ago to see my dad, I found him in a deep sleep. Well, maybe not so deep but I couldn’t wake him and didn’t make much of an effort to try anyway. The nurse came in and sat down to talk. Nothing really important, but she asked if I had a job I needed to get back to and when school would begin etc.

After she left my dad came to and turned his head towards me asking what I had talked to the nurse about. I was a little surprised he was that conscious… but told him what I had spoken to the nurse about and then said “your life is coming to an end…” but didn’t get further because the look in my dad’s eyes changed into shock and I grabbed his hand holding on tight, telling him “you know that already, dad”. But he began crying saying that he didn’t know. I have no idea how I remained calm in the minutes that followed, but I kept talking to him; “You have lived your life. You did a good job. You made your mark and both your kids are doing fine. We treasure the joy of life you taught us. We are grateful. But it’s okay to let go now, dad. Just relax and breath… just breath. It’s okay…”. Thankfully he then fell back into a deep sleep and I could slowly let go of his hand and walked out.

I was baffled that he didn’t know. I know that he knew. I know that he had been told several times both at the hospital and hospice. I know my brother had asked him some “hard questions” etc. I know that he knew!! Was he in such denial that he simply refused to face it? Did he just forget? Without thinking further I went out to wait for the nurse and when she came, she took one look at me and knew I needed to talk. Inside the reflection room I told her what had happened. Tears just streamed down my cheeks… Even now I can’t grasp the knowledge that I told my dad he is going to die. I know it’s a process for me too, but his reaction was just more than I could take. When I came back into the room I couldn’t make contact and we left shortly after.

Yesterday I came to see him again and he hung on to my hand. His eyes are taking me in, like I don’t think he’s done ever before. He makes the huge effort it is for him to lift his arm and gently touch my cheek. The longing in his eyes to tell me something is just too hard to bear when the man can barely speak. So I told him that I know; “I know, dad. I know you love me. I love you too. Just relax and rest and breath. Nice and easy”. That’s what I tell him. The look of him looking into my eyes… is a sight that will stay with me. But in my heart I wish he would be able to say “it’s okay for me to die now”. But he clings on to life and to me and it’s not that he’s afraid of death. I don’t believe that. But he’s afraid to let go of life. Yes, you can argue it’s the same thing, but I don’t think it is. He fights for the joy of living, not because he fears death. It was really hard to leave him yesterday but he got extra pain relief and fell asleep. Afterwards I talked to the nurses about his need for rest versus the need to have visitors and they suggested a sign they often use on the door that says “I’m resting. Please contact staff”. So let it be written – so let it be done.

Today we arrived and he was in a deep sleep. He hadn’t eaten anything or had anything to drink all morning. We arrived early afternoon and while we were there, the nurse just carefully gave him some club soda on a sponge and with it tried to clean his mouth a bit too. He got a little something down but he can barely swallow. I gave him more later on. He came to life as I read a letter from his cousin, who had sent him a mail via my email. He listened and cried… I guess old memories will do that to anyone. I just keep telling him to relax and breath. Don’t worry about anything, just take it easy. I simply can’t think of anything else to say. He reached his arm out, barely, for a hug and I hugged him the best I could reach. He wouldn’t let go, so it was a long hug. He is so so sad and it makes me so so sad too. I pray I one day can go into death with joy in my heart! For my own sake, but certainly also for those loved ones whom I may leave behind.

The anger I have inside needs to come out somehow. I’m not good company these days! I snap at people, finds all the wrongs and want to blame anyone for anything and even worse, I want to think about all the things I might be able to blame others… Not a good Bible for others to read I can tell you that, but I have no idea how to deal with it.

Pray, Pray, Pray… Thankfully my Lord can handle anything I bring Him. Right now it’s anger and despair. I get angry at my dad’s neighbor when he says he thinks about visiting my dad’s ex-girlfriend (come on, really???!? my dad and him are great friends… couldn’t he at least wait until my dad is gone and buried?!) – and angry at my brother when he says, he’s beginning to understand atheists. He is currently a lot more likely to embrace atheism than Jesus right now. Not that my brother is Christian in any way and in fact often ridicules religions. But he is right when he says “what’s the point of a good man having to suffer like this, when there are horrible criminals dying a pleasant death”… I gotta say – I wonder that too. But like I said in my last prayer “God, I do not understand this!!! But I MUST believe you know what you are doing. But God… it’s really really hard right now”.


Leave the past in the past – Philippians 3:13-16


There are 3 things God is working out in my life right now: Worship, relationship within His body and the death of my mother.

My mother was a “suburb alcoholic”. She had a full time job and was a full time wife and mom and cook and maid… and she never had an easy life. She wasn’t a drunk hanging out on the sidewalks or sitting on park benches with a bottle of something. She was a hardworking woman who enjoyed alcohol a bit too much. She had a choice. During my childhood I don’t remember her being particularly nasty or drunk, but during my teens I do remember how viciously evil she could become in her words especially when alcohol went in and took over. She couldn’t control her drinking and it became her death.

On the night she died, the ambulance came around 4 pm after she had vomited blood and she fell to the floor drifting in and out of unconsciousness. She was taken to the emergency room and received blood… But the doctors couldn’t stop the bleeding. After several hours of trying to save her life, she was taken to the ICU, where a kind nurse was wiping away her blood as it came from mouth, nose, ear – every hole in her body. They put her in a respirator and on sleep inducing painkiller.

I got a shock when I saw her. She didn’t look awful, but with 7 needles in her hand I couldn’t hold it. So I pushed my hand underneath hers. I knew that her life would end. They woke her up so we could say our goodbye’s… I told her I loved her. She couldn’t answer me because of all the tubes, but her eyes spoke and I’m grateful for that moment. After a bit they put her back to sleep and her blood slowly ran out of her body. I was wiping it away as gently as I could. The life ran out of her and I was wiping it up. My brother asked the doctor if it was cirrhosis of the liver and he nodded.

The doctors told us that it would be a miracle if she made it through the night. They put words on it. I remember that sinking feeling and I asked my dad “what happens if she does make it through the night?” – and his answer was “then it will be a miracle if she makes it through tomorrow”. She didn’t make it through the night. About 3 hours later, at 1 am, she drew her last breath and the machine went silent. But those 3 hours lasted… for what seemed like a lifetime. Watching someone – a loved one – bleed to death is tough. You know what is coming so you want to hang on. Yet, you know what is coming so you want it to be over with fast.

After her death my life seemed to stop and I couldn’t understand how the world could continue. It took some time, but I eventually came to terms with my mom’s death. I forgave her for choosing continually to drink even when the doctors had told her to stop (yes, she knew, but she had kept it quiet). We learn to live without our loved ones and it is now 11 years ago and some months.

My mom was not a believer. At the time, I was not a believer either. I so wish I had been though! If I had just had my Jesus during that time, I would have had something to hang on to and trust. A never ending strength and love… But I didn’t. In my family there is a tendency on my moms side to depression. I am not sure how far back it goes, but I know that my mom’s dad had it (who died very young somewhere in Berlin during WWII), my mom had it and turned to alcohol and her brother had it and turned to a gun ending up shooting himself (suicide). I have it too. But I will be forever grateful that Jesus came and picked me up and though I may have struggles, I will never need alcohol or a gun or anything else besides Jesus.

But recently God has brought my mom up again and I knew there was something I had to deal with but I didn’t know what. After all, it’s 11 years ago and I am okay with my mom being gone. But – when a friend shared how God was working the grief of loosing one of her parents out in her – I found myself sharing my moms death with her. Which is something I rarely do. Yes, she’s dead. Yes, she was an alcoholic. Yes, we learn to live without our parents. But… I suddenly realized that I had not come to terms with the way she died. The blood, the tubes, the needles in her hand. I have had some weeping days and this time I am allowing myself to cry. When God shows you that there is still pain in your heart, He wants to heal it. So I am pouring out my pain to Him.

I wanted to share with all of you who actually read this blog, where God had me open my Bible this morning and the words jumped right at me. I know Paul is not talking directly about dealing with grief and loss and trauma, but still;

Philippians 3:13, 15-16 (GNT)
13 … the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead.  –  15 All of us who are spiritually mature should have this same attitude. But if some of you have a different attitude, God will make this clear to you. 16 However that may be, let us go forward according to the same rules we have followed until now.

And God spoke; “leave the past in the past”.

I definitely have something I need to deal with and then leave it at His feet.