My First Blog Post


I am Susan Simon, a lover of Jesus, Harold, David, Cullen, Russell, Jesse, Philip, friends, animals, reading, and writing! This represents my first attempt at blogging and I am excited about sharing some of my insights on Scripture, personal devotional time, everyday life situations, stories, grief, and child loss. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates. d I would welcome your comments and suggestions!

Saturday, The “In-Between” Day

A friend of mine, Jo Anne Young, coined that phrase in a post she wrote just hours ago, describing the day between the horrors of what Christians call Good Friday and the gloriousness of Sunday, the day Jesus conquered death, by His resurrection from the dead.

Empty tomb At Sunrise With Shroud

But isn’t it also true that as a waiting world, we are currently experiencing an “in-between” period? I am referencing the time between the glorious ressurection of Christ, which we as Christians celebrate on Sunday, and the second coming of Christ, when He will return not as Savior, but victoriously as King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and as a judge of all the earth.

On the Saturday following the crucifixion of Jesus, His followers were struggling, trying to piece together all they had seen and heard. After all, they wanted Jesus to be an earthly king who would free them from Roman rule. Never mind all the Old Testament prophesies they knew well, and which Jesus fulfilled in His coming. Even the words of Jesus Himself to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36a), failed to change the thinking of his followers. They were saddened, terrified, confused, disheartened, and dismayed, thinking all was lost.

How could anything even remotely redemptive or good result from the horrors of yesterday? And yet, did they not remember His teaching? Jesus stated, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also” (John 14:1-3).

Jesus disciples were really no different than you and I. They wanted what they wanted; they thought an earthly king would bring an end to their troubles. They could not see how the greatest evil perpetrated against the innocent God-man could have resulted in the greatest good for His followers. How many times have I, like His disciples, “suggested” to God that my way is better than His?

While the “Saturday” to which I am referring is not a 24 hour period, it is an “in-between” time. The Jesus followers of His day found themselves troubled by everything they didn’t understand. We find ourselves in a similar situation, don’t we? And just as Jesus clearly told His disciples what was going to happen, He has done the same for us. Like the disciples, we are often confused and disillusioned; we try to fix and control that which we cannot fix and try to control people and circumstances over which we have no control. We work so hard to do what only God Himself can do.

But He has a plan, His eternal decree, and He says that it is good. After all, history is His story, and in spite of the unfolding of His plan in ways we oftentimes see as neither good nor redemptive, He assures us that one day, all will be well.

In the book of Revelation, chapter 21, John, while stranded on the island of Patmos, recorded a vision given to him by the Lord Himself. He tells us that at the second coming of Christ, Jesus’ return finds Him “sitting on a white horse, (and) in righteousness (He) judges and makes war” (Revelation 20:11). John then writes, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘ Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying , nor pain, anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true'” (Revelation 21:1-5).

Yes, it is Saturday, the “in-between” day, but Sunday is coming! Thanks be to God!

Life-Changing Lessons I Have Learned From the Deaths of My Two Children

I lost two sons, at opposite ends of the age spectrum. The first, Russell, was a full-term baby, born in June of 1982 with a diaphragmatic hernia. He died the same day he was born. The second, Cullen, was 32 years old at the time of his death from an accidental overdose of heroin and methadone. Had I been in charge of writing my life’s story, I would have rewritten the script. While I had no control over these circumstances, their deaths, and the subsequent lessons I learned from them, changed my life forever… and in some ways, for the better. 

You say, “How could that be? Did you want your sons to die?” Certainly not. And at the time of Russell’s death, I was particularly bitter and angry, ultimately at God. After all, He had not chosen to miraculously heal my baby. When Cullen died, my anger had dissipated, but I still struggled with cynicism. He had struggled valiantly with addiction for many years, and seemingly had broken the hold it had on his life. I was SO hopeful! But again, the healing I desperately desired did not happen, but I was in a very different place, spiritually speaking, than when our baby died. These life-changing lessons had begun their work.

 1. I am not in charge! NOTHING happens outside of God’s control. This concept is really quite freeing. Would I have done things differently? Absolutely! Psalm 103:19 reads, “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.” God is in charge of His world; I am not.

2. I do not fear the future. There is so much strife, divisiveness, and turmoil in the world today; there is much to be feared. A parent’s worst nightmare is the death of one’s child; it is an out of order death, the worse that can happen. A parent expects to bury his parents, but never his child. Yes, there is no lack of things to be feared, but I know and trust the character of the One who knows the future. He sustained me through the worst of the worst, and He tells me in Romans 8:28, “that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” ALL means ALL! I can live in the tension of daily life knowing that in whatever circumstances I find myself, God WILL CAUSE even the most tragic events to somehow work together for my good and for His glory. Do I understand how it will work? No, but I trust the One who does the working; I am a example of His work in progress! 

3. I let go of the “what if” and “if only” thoughts. The number of days of the lives of both of my sons were known from eternity past. I could not have added even one micro-second to either of their lives. Psalm 139:13, 16 reads, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. Your eyes have seen my unformed substance, And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” I am freed of the guilt of what I could have, should have, or would have done on their behalf.

4. I live in the present, very much aware of the brevity of life. The past is useful in that it shows me how far I’ve come, it is the source of my memories, but the future may never be. My mind and heart are centered in the present, even in the moment. James 4:14 tells me, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”

5. I am a more compassionate, empathetic person. I am familiar with pain, grief, loss, and while my circumstances may be different from those of another person, I can readily identify with parts of their struggle and can reach out to them without being uncomfortable in the situation. And that is as it should be. I read in Corinthians 1:4, “Who (God) comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 

6. I take a lot less for granted; I have a attitude of gratitude. God owes me nothing; I owe Him everything. He is the Creator; I am the creature. Previously I had unrealistic expectations of God; He is not a vending machine or a genie in a bottle. While He is indeed “able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20), I felt a bit entitled to His material and spiritual blessings. In truth, because I am a sinner, I am deserving of nothing but His wrath. It is only by His grace that I am a recipient of His mercy. Romans 3:23–24 reads, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” 

7. I trust God’s plan for my life is best; my ways and thoughts are not the same as God’s. Isaiah 55:8–9 reads, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” And Jeremiah 29:11 states, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’” Did I like God’s plan for two of my sons? No, I did not, but He knows what is best for me. Like any good parent, He promises to give me what I need, but not necessarily what I want. He has used this pain and the scars it has produced to shape me into the person He created me to be. 

8. I hold both great sorrow and great joy within my heart. And truthfully, I don’t know that had I not experienced great sorrow that I could fully appreciate great joy. 

9. I embrace the “unfairness” of God; I no longer blame Him for seemingly acting unfairly. When my baby died, I questioned God’s fairness. What had he or I done to be deserving of his death? I began to look at the historical event of the crucifixion of Jesus. He was the perfect, sinless God-man; the just who died for the unjust, as His Father remained silent. Was that fair? I don’t think so. A sinless man does not deserve death, and God could have stopped it. But Jesus’ death resulted in a greater good. “God demonstrated His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” (Romans 5:8–9) God’s “unfairness”, even to His own Son, brought life to those who believe on Him. If God were fair, I deserve His wrath, not His mercy.

10. I have learned that life is not all about me and my happiness. God is infinitely more interested in my holiness rather than my happiness.Happenings or circumstances determine my happiness; I will not always be happy, but even in my unhappiness I can, with God’s help, pursue holiness as I seek to obey Him and allow Him to conform me to the image of His Son. 

Yes, when two of my sons died, my remaining children lost the mother they knew; I took her place. Thanks be to God.


Are There Similarities Between the Flood and The Global Pandemic?

Today, as I read the account in the book of Genesis of Noah and the flood, I could not help but think about similarities between the flood in Noah’s day and the Covid-19 pandemic we are currently enduring. And yes, I do believe there was an actual flood in which “God blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark ” (Genesis 7:23).

We are told that Noah was 600 years old when the flood came, to be exact, “in the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened” (Genesis 7:11). We know the flood was extensive. Verses 19-20 of Genesis 7 read, “And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep.”

In Genesis 8, verses 13-14, we read, “In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried off from the earth. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out.” It seems to me that the flood and its devastation lasted just a few days more than one year.

At the beginning of Genesis 8, we read these words, “But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and livestock that were with him in the ark…” What? Mercy, did God forget Noah, his family, and all the animals? Did He all of a sudden remember that He had flooded the earth?

No, He never forgot. Rather, “but God remembered” means that He acted decisively. He caused “a wind to blow over the earth, and the waters subsided” (Genesis 8:1).

One of the accounts that I read described the flood as a “worldwide cataclysm of unprecedented dimension.” So many times have I begun emails and notes this year with, “I hope you and those you love are well in these unprecedented times in which we find ourselves.”

I have to admit, I am an animal lover; and yet I know there are many friends of mine who do not share that sentiment. I probably would have thought it was really kind of nice to have been cooped up with all of the animals, birds, and such for a few weeks, but I can only imagine that as time went on, the ark got not only a bit crowded, but also rather smelly! Let’s just say I would not have fared well for an entire year!

And so it is with this pandemic. Just as Noah and his family were undoubtedly tired of being in such close quarters with all the animals, I am equally tired of all the precautions I feel it is necessary that I take during this time. I am tired of wearing masks, tired of “washing/sanitizing” groceries, using hand sanitizer until my hands are uncomfortably dry and irritated, having to make reservations to attend worship services, meeting on Zoom, and being unable to be with family and friends in the same ways we had been able to gather previously. And I have only been inconvenienced; I have not lost a loved one, but I personally know several people who have.

But just as the flood waters eventually abated, in God’s timing, so will Covid-19. As we read in Genesis 8:1, “God will remember”; He will act. Hopefully the advent of the vaccine will be a start.

When Noah and his family finally went out from the ark, do you remember what he did? He worshiped. He built and altar to the Lord and offered burnt offerings on that altar. May our response be like Noah’s; let us worship Him who does all things well.

It’s A New Year; How Will I Live Differently?

A new year aways brings me to a time of reflection. As of today, I officially enter the seventh decade of my life… and that, in and of itself, is pretty awesome!

I confess, though I have been a Christ follower for many years, I had never read the Bible through from cover to cover until last year. And if I’m honest, there were times I just wanted to give up; Ezekiel was particularly rough; but by the grace of God I persevered!

While I have never been one to make New Year’s resolutions, I do try to evaluate and develop lifestyle changes and habits that will be beneficial to my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Reading the Bible through every year that I have left is one of those disciplines I need.

But as I read through large passages of Scripture, there are certain portions that speak to me in new and different ways. The larger passages give me an overview, but I have to “digest” smaller portions within the passage as I go throughout the day.

Today, as I read the first chapter in the gospel of Mark, I reflected upon these words, “And a leper came to Him, imploring Him, and kneeling said to Him, ‘If You will, You can make me clean.’ (Jesus) Moved with pity, He stretched out His hand and touched him and said to him, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.” (Mark 1:40-42)

A leper, he was an outcast in the society of that day. He obviously knew something about Jesus. He knew enough to realize that Jesus had the power to do something about his leprosy. He knew he was subservient to Jesus; and as a result, he kneeled before Him. He must have known that Jesus would not look at him with disdain, because he begged Jesus to make him clean. But the words that really riveted my attention were, “If You will, You can make me clean.” While these words are not in Scripture, this statement also implies, “If You will, You can make me clean, but You may not.”

I don’t know this man’s heart, but in the narrative, one does not get the idea that had Jesus not chosen to heal the leper, that he would have been angry at Jesus. He made no demands on Jesus. Oh, I am sure he wanted to be healed, but somehow it seems to me that he was leaving that decision in Jesus’ very capable hands.

There have been times in my life when I have not responded as the leper. I knew of Jesus’ power, and was both incredulous and angry that He did not respond to my request in the way I thought best.

I don’t know why God chose to heal the leper and not heal our sons; but this I do know. God is good, He is loving, He is compassionate, and He sees the whole picture; I cannot. Whatever He does or does not do is for His glory and my ultimate good. The words of Amy Baik Lee express my thoughts so well. She writes, “The greatest good I can imagine in a given situation may not be the greatest good possible.” Whatever God does or does not do will always be for the greatest good.

As 2020 closes with all of the chaos brought about by the global pandemic, accompanied by the tragic loss of life, the loss of livlihoods, racial discord, and political turmoil, God is still on the His throne; His kingdom will prevail. And He will always act or not act in a way that is consistent with both His and our greatest good.

Cullen’s Fortieth Birthday

Tomorrow, October 24th, marks Cullen’s fortieth birthday. Our second-born son, was a trained chef, having graduated from Johnson and Wales in 2002 with a culinary arts degree. Each year on his birthday, we honor his memory in some way. In years past, I have prepared recipes that were either too time consuming or that seemed far removed from my “usual” culinary comfort zone. This year, I asked my Bible study to pray with us about what we could do to remember Cullen.

God is SO CREATIVE! We plan to go to dinner this evening and give our chef and our server a generous “tip”/gift enclosed in a card. I am almost giddy with excitement to see how God is going to use this in their lives because He promises that His word will not return to Him void, but will accomplish the purpose for which it was sent. I know Cullen would be so proud.

Here is the message in the card…I tried to take a picture and post it, but it was just too difficult to read, so here is our message.

The outside of the card is a quote by Oscar Wilde, “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” Inside the card reads, “What a difference you make.” Our message follows.

Tomorrow, October 24th, would have been our second-born son’s fortieth birthday. His name was Cullen and he was a 2002 graduate of Johnson and Wales in culinary arts. Cooking was his passion and he served as head chef both at La Fourchette in Charleston, SC and at The Stone Terrace, St. John, USVI. His addiction took his life seven and a half years ago.

We chose to honor his memory this year with a token of our appreciation to the chef and our server this evening. The breaking of bread, the partaking of food, and the interaction of people seated around a dinner table are such integral parts of our lives. Memories are made there. When memories are all you have left of the one you love, they become especially dear to our hearts.

We prayed that the Lord would place the very people He wanted to receive these gifts in their respective roles (chef and server) this evening. Thank you for allowing us to remember our son in this way; I know he would have been proud.

Keep making a difference!

John 6:35 “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.‘”

How Do You Handle Life-Shattering Moments?

What is a life-shattering moment? I am not referring to disappointments here, but rather to what author Bruce Feiler in his book, Life is in the Transitions, calls “lifequakes”. These are the devastating, destabilizing, disorienting events of life. Like earthquakes, lifequakes are often accompanied by aftershocks. How do you go on?

Where do you turn when the biopsy reveals a stage four malignancy, when your spouse of many years walks away, when your child dies, when you lose a job you’ve loved and successfully held for years and can no longer provide for your family?

To be sure, I am no expert. But I have experienced one lifequake, twice; the deaths of two sons, thirty-one years apart. Honestly, the death of our infant son almost derailed my faith. When our thirty-two year old son died, I had learned something from my suffering.

What had I learned?

  • We have to have a reason to live, to keep on keeping on. Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher once wrote, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
  • ALL things work together FOR GOOD for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose. (Romans: 8:28) Not some things, not most things, but ALL things. How could the deaths of my sons be “good”? Death is not good; as a matter of fact it is the ultimate enemy. But the enemy has been defeated in the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus’ crucifixion and death were not, in and of themselves, “good” things, but this was God’s plan, not plan B. It was His plan before the foundation of the world. Upon His death, Jesus’ disciples and those who loved Him were devastated. They expected that He would be a political Messiah who would free them from the tyranny of Roman rule, but that was not the Father’s purpose for the life of His Son. Jesus came to earth as the God-man, to live a perfect life, and to die for the sins of His people. Why? He died and was raised from the dead, defeating death, in order to give eternal life – a reason to live both in this life and in the life to come. Certainly, as a mother, I would never say the deaths of either of my sons were good, but I can say unequivocally their deaths were used for good both in my life and in the lives of others. And if God could have accomplished His purposes in any other way, He would have done so. Some things can be learned only through suffering.
  • Satan is up to his old tricks; he works by establishing doubt in one’s mind; it is my responsibility to resist him by knowing God’s word, so that I might discern the truth. Just as he (Satan) said to the woman in the garden, ” ‘Did God actually say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden”?’ ” (Genesis 3:1) From early on after the death of our infant son, I read many books desperately trying to make sense of our situation. One of the books suggested was, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” by Harold Cushner, a Jewish rabbi. The title was a little off-putting to me as a Christ follower, because none of us are “good people”, rather we are sinners who are made righteous only through the blood of Jesus. However, I forged ahead and found Cushner’s basic premise to be that God is not sovereign; He can control some things but not others. To this day, I can remember thanking God for the discernment given to me by the Holy Spirit to see this untruth, even in my overwhelmed state of mind.
  • Rejoice always. (1 Thessalonians 5:16) Not if I feel up to it, not if circumstances warrant it, ALWAYS, period. There are many reasons to rejoice, even in life’s bleakest, darkest moments. We take so very much for granted – physical heath, the ability to see, hear, taste, touch, and smell, the beauty of creation, the love of family and friends, the ability to think, a relationship with the Creator of the universe and that His thoughts toward me outnumber the grains of sand on the deserts and shores of the world. I am to rejoice even if, God does not do things my way, because His way is always best.
  • Pray without ceasing. ( 1 Thessalonians 5:17) No, I don’t have to be on my knees, 24/7, although posture in prayer is important, but rather I am to always have God in the forefront of my mind. He sees me, is aware of the desires, thoughts, and motivations of my heart, and knows every word on my tongue before I speak it. He knows me better than I know myself. I am to be in constant communication with Him regarding the happenings in my life and in the lives of those with whom I come in contact. And when I don’t know what to pray or how to pray, Jesus is interceding to His Father for me.
  • Give thanks in ALL circumstances, because THIS is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (I Thessalonians 5:18) Again, not in some circumstances, or in many circumstances, but in ALL circumstances, I am to be thankful. I can be thankful IN the deaths of our sons, but that is very different from being thankful FOR the deaths of our sons. I am thankful for what the Lord has taught me about Himself, about myself and my priorities, about what is truly important in life. I can be thankful that our baby was a covenant child, that our older son was a believer, and that I will see them again. God is in control of everything that touches my life, and yes, that includes the deaths of our sons. Their deaths were not accidents, God was not taken by surprise. Indeed, this was in God’s sovereign plan for my sons and for me before the foundation of the world.

Before their deaths, I believed that God was sovereign, but was He good? We are told that Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, but when they summoned Him to tell him Lazarus was sick, Jesus stayed where He was for two more days; this was the exact opposite of what they wanted Him to do! By the time Jesus arrived in Bethany where Lazarus lived, he had died, four days prior. And not surprisingly, Jesus was well aware of his death.

Both Martha and Mary said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21, 32) Even the people who had come to console the sisters said, ” ‘Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying’?” Surely He could have, but He didn’t.

His reason?

Jesus said to Martha, ” ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God’?” (John 11:40) The stone from the tomb of Lazarus was removed and Jesus said, ” ‘Father I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that You sent Me…. Lazarus, come out’.” (John 11: 41-43) And Lazarus came forth from the grave.

Jesus knew exactly what He was doing; He was not uncaring, unloving, not good, in allowing Lazarus to die. He had a greater purpose in waiting to return to Bethany…that if Martha believed she would see the glory of God and that the people standing around might believe that Jesus was sent from God.

Likewise, Jesus knew exactly what He was doing in allowing the deaths of our sons. Their deaths have changed my heart, my priorities, my way of thinking, my relationships, in short, my life. I too, one day will see the glory of God, and maybe, just maybe, some of the people who are “standing around” in my life will also believe in Him.

Yes, I have learned through suffering how to handle those life-shattering moments. I know to stay in the Scriptures so that I can discern truth, I know to Whom I can turn, even if His good and what I would have called good are two entirely different scenarios, I can find reasons to rejoice, even at my lowest, I can pray unceasingly, and I have so very much for which I am thankful, certainly more than I deserve.

What about you? Can you deal with the lifequakes of life?

Her Husband is Known in the Gates

Since Harold and I are currently recovering from COVID-19, we are experiencing a lot of “togetherness.” Come to think of it, our “togetherness” was probably the culprit in our present dilemma! Since we have been quarantined, he has done telemedicine from home, and I have had a rare glimpse into his “other” life. It has been an enlightening experience!

He addresses his patients like they are old friends, and he is genuine. He listens more then he speaks, but is able to draw out conversation when that needs to happen.

Since most of his patients are elderly, yes, more elderly than we are…it is not necessary for me to eavesdrop, because they are also hard of hearing! On both sides, it is rather like a shouting match, but while the volume of their respective voices is loud, their tone is compassionate, respectful.

He apologies for having to “visit them this way”, assures them that he is getting better, but that “right now, the powers that be won’t let him come into the building.” He always asks, “Is there anything I can do for you?”

Too, he gives them some responsibility, some input in their health care decisions. “How do you feel about our stopping the medication you are currently taking for high blood pressure? Let’s try that for a few days; we’ll be keeping a close watch on you, and meanwhile I will get in touch with your heart doctor. Do you remember his name? Yes, yes, thank you for reminding me; I will get in touch with him and keep him informed as to what we have decided. What do you think of that idea?”

He can see the patient from his computer screen and vice versa (like face time), and at the end of the visit he always waves to them as he tells them bye.

Yesterday, as he ended a visit, I heard him say, “Well, Mr. (patient’s name), I apologize again for having to have a visit like this, but it is good to see you.”

This gentleman’s response brought tears to my eyes. “And Dr. Simon, it is ALWAYS, and I want to underline ALWAYS, good to see you.”

Immediately Proverbs 31:23 came to mind, “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.