Red sky in mourning, sailors take warning


Today I am on my sailboat needing some time alone. At sunrise the horizon shone with red hues reminding me of an old mariners phrase. A reddish sky around sunrise means a lot of water vapour already present in the atmosphere and rainy weather is thus expected. This explains why sailors repeat, “Red sky in morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailors delight”.

Well today I changed it to “red sky in mourning” for that is what I am doing. Mourning the absence of my beloved Brenda and being sensitive to my own grief journey. Today, I had set aside in order to complete the edits on Brenda’s book “But If Not: 588 Days of Living with Cancer”. I knew that re-reading her journal of life and death would bring tears again, and it did.

It was actually both a time of tears and smiles. I read her words and was reminded of her attitude of gratitude amidst her pain. I read of the moments that brought her great joy while facing death and while they made me smile it served as a bit of a warning to me – or better stated, a reminder.

The reminder is found in this quote from page 246:

So may this journal of life and death inspire you to not waste a second of your life on things that are not going to last forever. Trust in God for eternity, and leave a legacy through your investment in others that will change the world through God’s love and mercy. In life we will experience disappointments, but it need not lead to discouragement. Trust Him.

Trust -is my focus word for this year. But these words also emphasized that we should not to put our time and resources into those things that are not going to last forever. That is important for all to heed.

What lasts forever? Only two things last forever and that is relationships with those we love and God’s Word. The other things we often allow to squeeze these priorities out of our lives will ultimately be burned up. I want to devote the balance of my years to investing in relationships, starting with those in my own family, while relying on the words of the Bible that are the only words that breathe life into us.

My friend Chuck Swindoll said it so well..

The wonderful thing about relying on God’s Book is that it gives you stability. It gives you that deep sense of purpose and meaning. No other counsel will get you through the long haul. No other truth will help you stand firm in the storms of doubt and uncertainty. No other reality will give you strength for each day and deep hope for tomorrow. No other instruction has the power to give new meaning to your life.

I have many moments since Brenda’s passing where I have been seeking new meaning to my life. I am finding it through being faithful in reading scripture daily. Brenda interestingly left me a list of those things she wanted me to continue doing after her death.

Brenda’s List

  1. Continue to lead our family and grandchildren.
  2. Take care of yourself: your health, your friends and remember to take holidays for restoration
  3. Continue to proclaim the gospel of grace through speaking, writing and encouraging leaders.
  4. Travel strategically for ministry and pursue your passion for China and Africa.
  5. Enjoy the business of executive mentoring.

Notice how they focus on things that are eternal? They are all relational and fuelled by the gospel or good news of God.

Only two things last forever—and I’m committed to both. How about you?

PS. Brenda’s book BUT IF NOT will be available soon and I will make it know once printing is completed.



15 thoughts on “Red sky in mourning, sailors take warning

  1. Dear Carson, even in grief and mourning, you, and in turn Brenda, continues to encourage, exhort and spur me on in my faith journey with much sobriety. I pray therefore that you would continue to drink deeply of Jesus and his Word, that out of you may continue to flow rivers of living water.

  2. Dear Carson, even in grief and sorrow, you, and in turn Brenda, are both still blessing my faith journey. So I pray that you will continue to drink of Jesus, that out of you may continue to flow rivers of living water.

  3. Dear Carson,

    Thank you for your latest post.

    My deepest condolences on Brenda’s passing and going to her heavenly home to be with her Lord.

    I was not aware of her passing, as I have not seen you for quite some time. When was she called home?

    My prayers are with you, Carson.

    Blessings, Newman.

  4. I wasn’t fortunate enough to have met Brenda before her passing, however it feels like I know her through your children. Be encouraged, who she was, what she believed in, who she lived for, and the work she did is all around you. What an amazing blessing to be able to see this each day, and to know that what she stood for lives on in each of your kids and the next generation (I know this, as my son is blessed daily by the love your boys have shown and live out each day). I will continue to pray for you and hold you up.

  5. Brenda is still blessing our lives — thank you so much for sharing.

  6. Beautiful reminder of what is important. Thank you my friend:) tears are flowing here too. I miss her so much!

  7. Thank you for sharing where you really are in this heart journey through grief so we can lift you up in prayer. The picture of Brenda and her wise words you shared remind me she is more alive than ever and her legacy certainly continues to bear fruit here and now, and for eternity.

    Your tears and mourning remind me of George Herbert’s poem” The Dawning”:

    Awake, sad heart, whom sorrow ever drowns ;
    Take up thine eyes, which feed on earth ;
    Unfold thy forehead, gathered into frowns ;
    Thy Saviour comes, and with Him mirth :
    Awake, awake,
    And with a thankful heart His comforts take.
    But thou dost still lament, and pine, and cry,
    And feel His death, but not His victory.

    Arise, sad heart ; if thou dost not withstand,
    Christ’s resurrection thine may be ;
    Do not by hanging down break from the hand
    Which, as it riseth, raiseth thee :
    Arise, Arise;
    And with His burial linen drie thine eyes.
    Christ left His grave-clothes, that we might, when grief
    Draws tears or blood, not want a handkerchief.
    George Herbert

    Prayer continues!

  8. Carson, Thankyou for this today. It ministered to me and warmed my heart with Brenda’s wise words and gratitude for life . I may adapt that list for 5 focuses for me !
    Faye (and could you send me a pic of the water with the sun on it?😉)

    Sent from my iPad


  9. Thanks for sharing, Carson. Brenda, you, and your loved ones went on a journey we all hope to avoid, and you have all served God and people with it.

  10. Carson, so beautifully written — you have me in tears as I recall Brenda’s journey with cancer. What a brave, strong and loving lady. Also, the reminder as to what is important in our lives and lasts forever — the love for our relationships and for God’s Word.

  11. My heart hurts – and rejoices with you, Carson. Thank you for sharing.

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