After Losing a Child – Behold!

Does God speak to you through His scriptures?  Perhaps you can relate to my experience.

Today I read Is. 43:19

“Behold, I will do something new,

Frankincense for Cancer

Frankincense for Cancer

 

Now it will spring forth;

Will you not be aware of it?

I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,

Rivers in the desert.

Behold!

I

will

do

something

new…

Have you seen the spring? It is flowing in abundance.

 

Did you find the road yet? Have you even been looking? 1-RPEbook 1

 

Thirsty? Are your lips dry, your throat parched? Think you are alone in the desert?

 

Be encouraged, look outside yourself to see there are rivers in your desert. And there is a roadway in the midst of your sadness and mourning… and I AM there!

When I read that first word again –

Behold!

It brought to mind our 4 year old “reading” the story of Christ’s birth in Luke 2:10 – Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news

 

Laurie memorized that entire chapter of Luke 2 at age 4. She asked to learn it, and I merely showed her the page in her New Testament, saying “This is Luke,” and I would read the chapter. She had a vision that she could learn it and would recite it for the church 1-Laurcher3n1Christmas program.

 

The night of the program I handed her the little testament closed. She called me to the platform: “Mom, please open to the page.” I quickly opened the book anywhere and handed it back. Chagrined she brought a little laughter to the audience, handing the testament back – “Mom that’s the wrong page. It is not Luke 2.” She apparently recognized those words and they helped her fulfill her vision to recite the portion for our congregation.

 

She had the BEHOLD! vision:

Behold originates from the Hebrew word chazah, khaw-zaw´; a primitive root; to gaze at; mentally, to perceive, contemplate (with pleasure); specifically, to have a vision of:—behold

 

Twelve Hundred Eighty One times that word – behold – appears in my Bible. Bible study

Can you imagine God trying to get through to Delores –

 

Behold! Contemplate what I am telling you – perceive it (grasp, understand, appreciate) what comes after this word.

 

Today, He said it again.

 

Delores – Behold!

 

Contemplate what I am telling you

 

I am (the great I AM)

 

Is going to create– (from pagge÷llw epaggello, ep-ang-el´-lo – a promise)

 

something (abedah, ab-ay-daw´, something so broken it seems lost) bridgeout

 

New – to rebuild (chadash, khaw-dash´; a primitive root; to be new; causatively, to rebuild:—renew, repair.)

 

 

It will come like a spring (natural, upward flowing, life-giving)

 

Will you not be aware of it?

 

Will you envision it, watch for it, anticipate it with pleasure?

 

I will even (from }owth, oth – surprisingly, unexpectedly like a signal, an evidence, a miracle)

 

Make (literally – cause) a roadway (from derek – a safe way)

 

In (while I am there – with you!)   Christian Fish

 

the wilderness (desert of the fugitive – the wilderness (desolate place) of wandering)

 

Rivers – (from Aram Naharayim – the two rivers Euphrates and Tigris – Eden!) Eden – ednah, ed-naw – delight self – to live voluptouly!

 

In (do you get it Delores – Eden IN your desolate place)

 

the desert. (from owbiyl, o-beel´ — a place of mourning)

 

My message today:

 

Delores – Look around you!

Contemplate with pleasure what I am telling you. I AM with you in your desert.  I AM is promising, in the near future, to complete, fulfill, rebuild, and restore what has been drained from you. It will come like a natural spring, flowing from the source – will you even notice it if you aren’t watching?

 

While you are in this funk of feeling desolate, lost and sad, I will surprise you with refreshment of restored delight, enabling you live voluptuously – full of delight to your Footprnts insandsenses and expectantly, as you step onto the path I reveal to you.

It’s ok if you are finding it hard to take that first step. Just tell me you want to, and I will carry you, until you can walk.

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After Losing a Child – Feeling Like Alice, in Wonderland

I’ve been reading a most compelling novel Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St. Amant.  One 1-Love-piecesof the main character’s life events leave her feeling like Alice in Wonderland.  Ironically, though the topic of the book and the character’s story are far different than mine, I find myself relating immensely.  With the author’s permission,  the  portion in italics that deeply touched me is quoted below.  You will see why I too feel like Alice in Wonderland.

Well, maybe Alice after she fell down the hole and started exploring her new territory.

Everywhere – no matter the surroundings – good or bad, encouraging or discouraging, tender or tough, is the lingering sensation that things aren’t as they should be.

Or what they seem.

Unfamiliar.

Unknown.

All upside down and too small and too big, all at once.  Aimeeonpost2077

 

Strange and familiar should not be able to coexist.

 

All of my world is not the way it used to be.

 

And neither am I.

 

But some is still the same.

 

I am still mom to Laurie, Cheri, and Kevin. Our3kids

I am still married to Ken.

I am still a Christ-Follower

I AM is still with me.

 

There are still a lot of wonderful, wonderful memories from my past.

And the dark times are still covered by Jesus’ blood.

 

I met a young woman many years back, who told me I probably could not understand…because she had anxiety attacks and flashbacks from some of life’s pain. She was surprised to find I did understand. I’m surprised to find I understand again.

 

She was surprised to hear me tell her praiseful practice of the presence of Christ would 1-Practicepresencecreate a thankful heart and a thankful heart would create worship, and worship would bright light and peace.

 

I am surprised, though I shouldn’t be, that despite additional painful losses, my remedy is still the same – a choice to praise and give thanks for Christ’s continued presence, and in practicing that find thankfulness, like a light in the darkness, and a crescendo of worship.

 

In the midst of a fast for a particularly trying time I wasn’t sure I would live through God led me to write a song. It was after a message by Navigator staff, John Purvis shared an old song – Is That All There Is.

 

I went home wondering If this is all there is – would I be satisfied? If all I had (though I’ve had much more) was to know Christ and have a single opportunity to make Him known to another – would I be satisfied?

 

I began to think about other suffering Christian people and a few whose personal story of faith filled me with awe and wonder. Could I know that peace in such trial? Would I accept the pain as a path to worship? I honestly did not want to experience their losses or anything close to find out. When I told them each laughingly told me they did not want to live out most of my story either, and they all said their goal was still only that Christ be glorified.

 

Someday perhaps I too will be able to say:

 

 

If this is all there is Lauriegreetingme

If this is all there is

If this is all there is to life

Then Lord, I’m satisfied

 

 

 

Tsunamis of disaster – Fall without, within

The earth itself is groaning – In agony from sin

 

In my strength I could not bear the suffering I’ve known

Or the joy of understanding, that my penalty’s atoned!

 

To be known and yet accepted IMG_2070

Forgiven and loved still

To hear your voice at my right hand

To walk within your will

 

If this is all there is

If this is all there is

If this is all there is to life

Then Lord, I’m satisfied

 

Economies are failing, cancer’s on the rise

Promises are broken, and no pleasures satisfy

 

Though troubles that afflict us in number many be

This I know God’s in control, no matter what I see!

 

His quiet love has freed me of IMG_9779

The threat of anxious fear

Replacing it with confidence

That God is God and He is here!

 

And if this is all there is

If this is all there is

If this is all there is to life

Then Lord, I’m satisfied

And then there’s your life –
If this is all there is… 1-Glow ofHeavenly-Rays-

will you be satisfied?

 

 

 

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Two Faces of Anger

I think God is disappointed if we don’t get angry sometimes – like if we just avert our face mad0and walk on by when injustice is happening to a child, a pet, or another person. Sure I feel angry at times (often at myself). Why do I have that emotion? The Bible acknowledges that we (people created in the image of God) will get angry from time to time. But does that mean that

All anger is sin

Anger equals hatred

No good can come from anger

or

If I am angry about injustice then angry reactions are excusable as righteous indignation

I try to answer my question with questions – beginning with: What is anger anyway?

  1. Dictionary definition: To excite annoyance, antagonism or exasperation as the result of a real or supposed grievance; to provoke; to rouse resentment. Strong emotional reaction of displeasure, often leading to plans for revenge or punishment.
  2. Emotion definition: Anger is described as a secondary emotion – a reaction we feel immediately after we feel something else – a warning to let us know when a situation is not right. Anger is a strong motivator to speak up or act and make change happen.
  3. Biblical potential:to stretch oneself out in order to touch or to grasp something, to reach after or desire change (i.e. to correct an injustice –a flame stretching out to warm rather than to consume)

Many great leaders have been commended for their commendable control in managing miltary3their anger to take action and correct is wrong in their environment, or in themselves.  In The Wrath of a Great Leader, Hitendra Wadhwa says “Without anger, they would not have the awareness or the drive to fix what is wrong. “

 

Now let’s take a look at what anger means in a couple of verses

 

Ephesians 4:26-27 (New American Standard Version)

Be angry (provoked)

And yet do not sin

Do not let the sun go down on your anger,

And do not give the devil an opportunity

Anger, according to Strong’s 3709  in in this verse comes from orgḗ (“settled anger”) proceeds from an internal disposition which steadfastly opposes someone or something based on extended personal exposure, i.e. solidifying what the beholder considers wrong (unjust, evil).

Proverbs 14:29 (International Standard Version)

Being slow to get angry compares to great understanding as being quick-tempered compares to stupidity.

 

Blu014Here, anger stems from aph -which means nostril, or nose – the image of someone puffing, or swelling up or snorting in rage and loss of self-control

 

Have you ever seen an injustice and felt yourself puff up and inhale in anger that someone could do such a thing. This is the instant emotion – an original susceptibility that is not necessarily sinful but certainly can lead to sinful action. That is why this verse encourages us to be slow to ever let our anger control us.

 

So neither of these verses indicate sin is feeling angry, but both indicate it can become sin if the emotion is allowed to be continual (family members not speaking for years), excessive (brutal or to exact revenge), not controlled (reaction not response), or without cause.

 

One of my favorite illustrations of foolish anger is the story of Jonah, where the exhausted rebel collapses to give up and die, and overnight God gives him a plant for shade, then overnight God allows the plant to wither and die. God’s point was to reveal to Jonah his compassion for the plant was greater than for the people whom God wanted to give opportunity for reconciliation. Jonah wanted the Ninevites to suffer – and perhaps they deserved it, but it was not Jonah’s decision it was God’s.

 

A few lessons I’ve learned about anger: Andrea2mean

 

  1. I can accept that anger is a natural reaction to injustice, but, like all emotions, needs to be under the control of the Holy Spirit.
  2. Recognizing the goal of spiritual battles with principalities and powers are aimed to weaken relationships and divide churches helps me direct my anger, provocation or reaction to injustice at the right enemy (Who are my Ninevites that I do not think deserve forgiveness? Where does the idea that only those who deserve forgiveness should receive it? If I do not take steps to resolve the issue or surrender it to God, I am giving the devil control over my emotions)
  3. Staying angry and nurturing bitterness takes more ongoing effort than dissolving it. It is more painful too.
  4. I am not responsible for anyone’s opinions or attitudes but my own – and I have to answer to God for them. Will I be as ignorant as Jonah stating my reason to be angry?
  5. It is said that whatever keeps me angry controls me. Scripture says I must not go to bed angry – I can resolve it, I can let the provocation incite me to do something good about the situation or I can leave it with God to resolve.
  6. Retaining anger at my own action or inaction is useless and defeating, and destructive self-talk is misuse of a God-instilled emotion. One-another in Ephesians 4:32 stems from allelon, al-lay´-lone and includes: each other, mutual, (the other), (them-,and your-)selves) – Eph. 4:32 Be gentle with one another,( sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
  7. Gentleness and anger can coexist.  Deal with the problem, the motive, and not the person.

 

 

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Freedom! My 4th of July – Second Birthday Story

My Freedom Story (and history behind my second birthday – July 4th) is in Book Fun IMG_2700 Magazine – Page 81..- this month! It is up now.
http://digital.turn-page.com/i/534840-july-2015-magazine

MomMarvelfav005

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After Losing A Child – Meltdown at TJMAXX

 

Eucalyptus Honey. That’s what did it.

Twenty years ago I went to Spain and brought each of our kids something back that I thought would resonate with them. Laurie’s gift was Eucalyptus Honey. She loved it, and IMG_6456joked when it was gone that I had to go back to get her more.

So a couple years ago I got to go back. Several stores (and towns) were searched for that honey, and when I finally found it, I scooped up every bottle on the shelf.

All 8 bottles came through the trip and many passes through customs (even nasty Boston’s TSA – the only place that had the need to slash all the see-through Ziploc bags for honey and all the breakable souvenirs).

Today I needed a cup of organic coconut oil and the closest place with the best price was TJMaxx. My kids know what a danger it is for me to go in there. I have to peek at every container of organic food and oil. I found lemon herb seasoning, blueberry and apricot compotes, a gluten free shortbread cookie and eucalyptus honey. Oh my goodness, I thought, I’ll have to call Laurie and tell her TJMaxx has it.

I actually pulled my phone out of my purse and opened it to favorites and stood there staring at the list with one less name.

Meltdown.

Just that morning we’d picked strawberries and the woman there asked how I was doing. I whipped off my standard, “too blessed to be depressed,” adding that it is a good reminder every time I say that, to keep my focus. Pfft. There went focus.

I finished my errands and headed home. I walked in the house and Ken took one look and knew. I explained what happened and after dinner and prayer, told him he could go to bed while I dealt with our morning haul of 40# of strawberries.

Once again, I praise God for music. It soothes and heals when I cannot think or speak or  1-FamilyJam2010listen to preaching, or verbalize. Tonight’s music was piano and flute and songs like Something Beautiful (something good, all my confusion He understood)…Soon and Very Soon (I’m going to see the King), and Hear my Song, Lord, which got me upstairs to YouTube and Anthony Burger (also with the Lord), playing a medley.

Hear my song, Lord, You fill me with music

Hear my words, Lord, You fill me with praise

Take this moment, I just can’t waste it

This one is Yours, Lord, I give You this day. (this day and the sadness in it, and the reason for my sadness)

Hear Your children, we are lifting Your praise to You

Let singing like incense now rise to Your throne

Come dwell in the place hollowed out for Your Spirit (a painful process)

Come make of our praises Your temple, Your home   LaurieDoug-Gparents

I do praise the Lord for every day this special woman, so thrilled to be a grandmother, was in our lives.

I share this not for sympathy, but for reality – reality of the heart-hole and reality of the God-comfort. Tragedies surround us daily – check any prayer group- check the news – check your Facebook friends. It makes me realize we could have lost our daughter a hundred ways over the past 51 years. Before we lost a child death was a sad drama and we attempted to sympathize and comfort others, but we did not know. The reality of the loss of an intimate relationship changes the dynamics and understanding of the tragedy of death. I share this because I want to comfort and encourage others too – to let you know that your loss is not “just” a statistic – your loss is a tragedy too.

I was reading Laurie’s emails again –like the one that quoted Job and said how can we expect only good to happen and not bad things too. They’ve become notes of comfort. I’d love to hear about your moments of comfort, and if you are not there yet, and you need a heart-to-heart, just ask. I can cry with you too.

 

We are in this together.

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My Spiritual Selfie – Day 2 of 20 – Grief, Communication and Spiritual CPR

Yep – with selfies I communicate to other people my:

 

Emotions

HopesIMG_0026

Momentous Moments

Successes

Failures

Personality

And so much more

 

I also communicate through the written word, personal responses. actions or inactions. All that communication is done purposefully. I know I am communicating. I am doing it with a purpose.

 

But my Spiritual Selfie communicates to God all the above (because God knows and sees all) and more – because I am communicating even when I do not realize it and communicating things only God can hear or see.

 

When I lost my Daddy, I remember as I walked toward the funeral parlor thinking, so this LaurieMomis grief. My emotions communicated to others and to me what seemed to be my deepest truth. But later, when we lost our grandson, David, and then our daughter, Laurie, I realized I hadn’t learned as much as I thought about grief. I was not ready for the onslaught. It hurt to communicate and little was left that had meaning. I felt cut off from the vine – as though the cord connecting me to oxygen (life) had been torn away.

 

How long can one cling to dust?

 

Especially when the dust is not even reality. A shadow. A lie.

 

I’ve had some Crazy, Wild and Amazing experiences since I’ve come to know Christ and have found that LIFE is dependent on communication and drained away when communication is severed.

Grief feels like forever and it wasn’t long before my emotions were numbed and heart cries were all I could express. Like the camera for a selfie, emotions in crisis are often turned Footprnts insandinward. I could not help myself.

I had to make a determined effort to let God communicate with me and bring me back to life.

 

How does God communicate His life to us? With truth.

Truth defies emotions.

Truth frames grace.

Truth fans the flame of hope.

Truth brings eternity to moments, whether ordinary or momentous

And Truth gives purpose to successes …and to failures.

 

Ways the True Vine communicates life and truth to me?DSC00222

  1. By choosing to abide [be at home; live there] in me and with me (comforting me that His truth supercedes all feelings. I can live above my emotions.

 

 

  1. Through His Words He quickens that which is dead and enables me to live in the permanent place He leads me to possess (Deut. 12:47). None of that is in the world because all the things of earth spoil, rot, dry up, blow away or burn away and have no lasting strength or meaning. His place of truth is unchanging, life giving and has eternal meaning.

 

  1. With the lie of accusation removed, with judgment removed, through hearing and believing Genesis 1:1 emotions can be routed because I can know I have God says so. Just as God breathed life into Adam, He placed the breath of the Almighty in me! IMG_0682Amazing thought – personal, intimate, eternal CPR!

 

  1. John 6:63 – through His Words – I passed from death to life when God communicated His life to me. If the vine is life, what can the branch, or the soil, or the water, or anything earthly do without the vine? Nothing. Without life they do not even exist! But the flesh, with the Spirit contains life greater than food.

 

Lessons:

  1. Care for other branches the same as I should care for myself – Why do I expect others who may not yet know Christ, to “do” things – to “change” or behave other than as one who is yet unknowing? And how can I even think of refusing to love others in the same manner as I’ve been loved. I must daily be reminded how and when Christ loved me and gave His spirit and His life to me.
  1. But to bring life I need to Care for myself – nurture spiritually – or I will have dead LWGHDbranches. Cut off from life the spirit is dead.  Other believers are part of God’s plan for my strength and nourishment, and I’ve been blessed with many prayer warriors who strengthen me so I can strengthen others. If nourishment is not provided to the branches they weaken and cannot produce fruit. When I am too weak to take in nourishment, music and prayers are like intravenous infusions and transfusions. Strength from without.

    Several have told me they see coping and healing. Thanks for the CPR. Just as I long to continue to impact others’ lives, many of you have helped to make that difference in mine.

 

 

 

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My Spiritual Selfie

I am never satisfied with the pictures I take of myself. Perhaps because my ‘selfies’ reveal  too much physical truth.  hair

 

I should be more concerned whether they reveal the real truth.

 

What is my real truth? It is my spiritual selfie – Who God says I am, not who I think I am, not just what I think I see, not dependent on what I feel, and no matter what those condemning thoughts try to reduce me to.

 

I am

Who and whatIMG_0682

God says I am. 

 

I am God’s tattoo for one :)

 

 

I found this 20-day documentation that I originally completed about 7 years ago. I was dismayed at first to realize on one hand, I apparently needed to learn these lessons again, and then realized how Biblical and—- comforting cycles are.

 

The foundation of this 20 day Spiritual Selfie is John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;

 

Three points of John 15:5

  1. Christ IS life. That life is in me according to His promise
  2. I am His fruit-bearing branch, dependent on Christ
  3. It is my choice to remain in him (focus – my one thing) and He will remain in me as much as I allow Him

 

 

I am learning to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs. The growth and development of the

Real food, real botanical oils for natural health

main portion of the plant, sustains the branches and the health of the branches supports the development of fruit on them. But before I see the growth I have to prepare the soil to accept the plant, place guards and protection against invaders (critters, pests, storms), and lovingly tend the branches.

 

That compares to both my physical life (health giving food, water and exercise [pruning] sustaining the core so I can be healthful and productive) and my spiritual (eternal me) life being fed, watered and pruned to produce.

 

 

I have tried to help branches survive off the vine. Not only have they not borne fruit, they withered and died. I’ve also overworked myself and seen vines over-pruned so they collapsed. This lesson teaches me that I must look for strength (not within the branch of self) but within the vine.

 

I struggle to be a clean conduit (branch from the vine to the fruit), yet according to the Word Jesus has spoken I am clean already. Why do I waste so much time and effort maintaining an untruth? Instead, I must abide (live, rest, consistently trust) in Him so I can bear healthy fruit. I must remember, the more I withdraw from the vine the harder it is to reconnect.

 

Changes in my life from this passage – seed

One — I used to struggle whether I was worthy of living- or rather that by living I would do more harm than good, and the enemy had convinced me that Verse 13 (to lay down ones life for another) was actually encouraging suicide. That victory was won years ago when I heard a man explain that truly laying down ones life could perhaps be harder than giving up ones life, because it means to keep on living while giving up ones “rights”.

 

Two – it is my choice to accept offenses or to remove the “suckers” that would drain my strength and not allow His life to flow through me. Some of those could be of my own making – not tending to myself (physically and spiritually) as I should: (water, food 3x a day, rest, fellowship and pruning).

 

Three – It is also my choice whether I respond to feelings or to truth. But even if I make the wrong choice, that does not change the real truth of who and what I am in Christ.

What is your real truth?

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After Losing a Child – Experiencing Praise

Praise.

 

That is the topic of a several page list of scriptures I found in our daughter’s Bible. Bibleheart

 

Praise.

At first I thought what is there to praise…I just didn’t ‘feel it’ when a friend called complaining about all the things she did not have and wanted. I told her the problem was she was focusing on the negative and assigned her to make a list of what she did have. Oops. Boomerang. (God’s Word does that to me a lot.) I began doing the same for myself. Then a friend who also lost her daughter (a good friend of our daughter’s) called me this morning. Her daughter was ravaged by disease and it was her request to be cremated and have her ashes placed in a receptacle carved into a rock by a pond.

She explained her feelings and  found some praise for me when she wished that her daughter would have qualified for organ donation like Laurie did.

 

I admitted I needed to praise again, so considered this old saying:

I cannot choose my feelings.

I can’t help what I feel But I can help what I think

Once I change my thinking

The feelings will follow

 

Laurie’s list of scripture forced me to see that she too was feeding her thinking to praise  even when she didn’t feel like it and I wanted to understand what she was feeding on when she searched all those scriptures on praise.

 

So I began this morning in Psalm 148, which calls all creation to Praise the Lord from IMG_2834 the heavens.

 

The word praise comes from yadah to throw (with abandon)/glorify, cast – toss and confess praise and thanks

 

That reminded me of a favorite fiction series- YADA YADA Prayer Warriors by Neda Jackson. I loved them because no matter how real or tragic the situations were for the characters in the group, there was always praise. Worshipful praise for who God is. Expectant praise for what was going to happen, and Thankful praise for escapes from things that did happen.

 

That and more was in Psalm 148—God is the center of Psalm 148, and you and I are there too. Here are seven of the things I learned:

 

  1. God’s decrees are permanent – the things he says are not like temporary hair color – when it rains it melts away. (yes, personal experience)
  2. God created ALL things for PRAISING. (that would include me)
  3. All creation is commanded to praise – commanded! For our own good, to toss out praise rather than withdraw inwardly.
  4. Let (without restraint, loose, without control) – so all creation praising fulfills the purpose of their creation. I should not prevent it.
  5. I need to choose to release praise despite feelings.
  6. In order to LET myself praise Him, I will remove any restraints (shield of protection) or controls that are hindering or stopping the praise
  7. Praise means to offer thanks – to sing with joy – to worship with open hands (as Dave Fly1opposed to the closed ones) – No hidden things clutched inside – the hands are like an empty bowl or spoon reaching out waiting to be filled.

And so I praised.  Worship for who I have and have had in my life. Expectantly for what might yet come, and Thankfully for an unusually close relationship with Laurie.

Two couples today stepped out to worship with open hands and hearts. These couples were linked by our daughter, Laurie.

 

We were one couple and our new friends Dee and Randy (one of Laurie’s organ donor recipients) was the other couple. 01-praisedeenr

 

God’s presence was there and where He is there is joy and worship and healing, and praise.

 

And a new, yet deeply bonded, friendship.

 

Today I experienced praise again. You can too. Open your hands, and open your heart. Let go. Release whatever you have been clutching.

 

Experience praise.

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Guest Blog – 13 Ways To Cope Through Any Crisis

Today’s blog is by friend and author Karen Wingate who is living out this lesson and making the best of life’s nasty twists.

 

Tough times teach us how to cope and how to hope.

Certain Bible passages escape my understanding. For many years, Romans 5:3-5 was one of those passages I just didn’t get. How does suffering build persistence which builds character which brings hope? I didn’t get the connection. I’ve seen too many people become bitter from suffering. It almost seems unfair that some people face multiple issues in their life. Shouldn’t there be a life rule that you should only have to go one major physical crisis or ailment? A friend has had heart trouble since she was a child; now she is battling cancer. For me right now, it’s an added layer of complication to have poor eyesight on top of the multiple injuries from my recent fall. That’s not quite fair, is it?

EMT and KarenMy recent injury taught me that the opposite is true. My life long visual impairment has instilled coping mechanisms into my life that I can apply to other situations. When I fell last week, all those adaptations I use on a daily basis kicked in and carried me through a painful visit to the local hospital emergency room and my continuing recovery. It was like an automatic response. As I lay on the ambulance gurney, tempted to be dismayed and panicked about my situation, I thought, “Hey I know how to handle this. Do the same thing I do every day.” Living with poor vision has taught me to be persistent, to hang in there, and not give up. It has built my character to be strong, take risks, depend on God and have a bigger, broader perspective on life. It has taught me that having poor vision isn’t the end of the world.

Hey, wait a minute. That’s the essence of that paragraph in Romans 5!

What coping skills did I use to get me through the pain and unknown extent of my injuries?

Intend to be strong. Inner strength is a pre-determined choice. As I lay face down on the ground waiting for the ambulance, I made the commitment, “I will be strong.” It was a decision I’ve had to make in the past when I’ve been lost in airports, unsure of footing on dark stairways, or anxious about an approaching unseen stranger. It’s a decision to not give in to panic, to not cave to despair, and to stay calm and focused. I make that determination then I implore the Lord to give me the extra strength I need, knowing that I really can do everything through Him, the source of my strength.

Think through the problem. Don’t give in to emotions – yet! Be aware of what’s happening around you. Anticipate what will happen next. I needed to go to the bathroom on the drive home after spending nearly four hours in the ER. We didn’t think through things well and my husband parked far from the door. I was still weak and unused to crutches. We quickly learned to anticipate conditions of parking lots, door locations, and maneuvers toward steps. As my childhood eye doctor said, “Your brain will do your seeing for you.” My husband told me later as I started to put weight on my foot, “You will need to think through every step.” Both of them were so very right!

Accept help. We often hesitate to accept help because it might make us look weak. A mobility instructor once told my daughter that asking for help is actually a sign of strength because we are utilizing the resources of other people to get the job done. At first, I resisted asking for an ambulance. Surely I could pick myself up and get in the car on my own! But past life lessons told me I needed to allow others to take over my care. It’s not about me. It’s about getting the job done and if it takes a team to do it, I need to employ and delegate jobs to others so we can all reach the end goal. I don’t have to do it all on my own.

Be direct about your needs. I’ve long learned that no one can read my mind. People want to help but they don’t know how and they won’t know unless I tell them. Yeah, I’m tired. I hurt. But life will be easier in the long run for everyone if I can articulate what I need no matter how trivial it might sound.

Appreciate your helpers. It’s about as tough to be a caregiver as it is to be a patient. It’s stressful on them too and some of them have not acquired the coping skills that I have. It’s my responsibility to be appreciative, gracious, and encouraging in their efforts to help me pull through.

Repurpose the event. God wastes nothing and neither should we. Rom Emmanuel is quoted as saying, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” He meant that in a corrupt way but as Christians, we can use bad situations to God’s glory. I’ve seen God do this so much in my life. I’m learning that I can do it too. I joked to so many people that I fell because I was doing research for my next novel. Okay, I didn’t intentionally hit the deck but it is true that I immediately began processing how I would infuse my ER experience into a character’s life in my next novel. My character will have a lot more depth because I’ve been there myself. Seize your crisis and use it to do good and to bless others.

Find humor in the moment. That’s a kind of repurposing but you’ll bless a lot of people when you keep a positive sense of humor about the incident. It must not be easy to be one of society’s helpers. Most of us probably have no clue what police, EMT’s and medical professionals endure from grumpy, scared, hurting, and anxious people who in their moment of crisis, are far from being their best. A positive attitude that flows from a sense of confidence in God’s care can do much to lighten the load of these dedicated people. Humor helps us accept the situation and not take everything so seriously either. That’s why I joke about not driving or I tell people I had a fight with a parking lot.

Redirect your attention to other things. When we focus on the bad or on the pain, we actually feel a lot worse and can cave to depression and despair. When we focus on other people, sing praise songs or repeat Bible verses during the difficult moments, it gives our minds something else to think about and helps us physically relax during the worst. I’m convinced that thinking about happy moments, beautiful places, or my favorite chocolate dessert will actually lower my blood pressure when I’ve got that cuff on my arm!

Let go of the small stuff. Any physical disability or weakness takes extra energy because we are asking our bodies to move and respond in abnormal, excessive ways. In the last three weeks, I’ve been exhausted just from hauling my limited body from one room to another. Limited energy forces us to choose how we will expend that energy. In moments of crisis, when you are in the first few days of recuperation, grief or shock, and you are mostly out of control of daily tasks, do the things only you can do and what only needs to be done right now. Save the rest of the tasks for another time or for other people.

Let God be in ultimate control. It’s tough to be out of control about things as simple as putting a pair of shoes back in the closet or as important as getting a meal or the next dose of medicine. It’s during these times that I learn the true extent of “Give us this day our daily bread.” Through my visual limitation and my fall, I’ve learned to depend on God for the smallest and most specific of things whether it’s finding an airport gate or protecting me through an uneven, gravel filled path. I’ve discovered He is the One fully trustworthy to meet my every need.

Reach back to what has worked in the past. My vision loss has taught me there is more than one way to accomplish anything. I may have to take a different route than others to get to the same destination but what matters most is that I get there. The ability to be flexible and creative became an automatic reflex when I chipped my ankle bone.

Relax and take in the details. Can’t see? Pay attention to what you can hear. Stuffed in a wheelchair? Relax and watch the clouds while someone else does the driving. Have to depend on someone else to take you places? Use the time to build your relationship with your driver and learn about their life experiences.

Praise God for what you have. My vision is limited but I can see colors well enough to define my world. My fall gashed my face and chipped an ankle bone. But I didn’t shatter a knee cap or break my nose. My fall happened and it was a nasty fall, but it didn’t happen until after graduation, my husband was with me, and so many people have come beside me to care for me. Even as I write this a sweet friend is cleaning my house and the amount I’m paying her is pocket money for a much needed vacation. God will always, always bring good out of difficult situations. He’s just like that.

What tough times have you faced in your life? What coping skills did those tough times give you? Can you add to my list?

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Karen is the author of three new titles in Rainbow Publishers Five Minute Sunday School Activities series.  Find out more about Karen and her writing at:

http://www.graceonparade.com/blog

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After Losing A Child – Observing Others’ Healing

One of the women in our Donor Family online group was remarried recently. It is so 2038encouraging to see her find love and celebrate life and marriage again – now – in the present. Her past was there too as her first husband’s organ recipient participated in the wedding.

 

 

 

Another friend’s mother died from an infection she got at the hospital. When she should have been going home, she was, instead getting worse with new symptoms that took her life. This dear daughter, though angry at the hospital’s lack, has accepted the unexpected early loss of her mom. “Death,” she says, “is part of life.” Though she misses her mother tremendously, she chooses to focus on what she has – time with her grandchildren. She cherishes her memories from the past, but refuses to let her loss overwhelm her present life, and so she cheerfully continues to live in the present.

 

A friend lost her 5–year-old child several years ago. She and her husband recently DeloresBaby065welcomed a new baby girl into their family. It is touching to see how new life renews hope – for them and for others. Because they know with certainty they will see their older daughter again, they can live and love in the present, while looking to the future as a family again.

 

A young man who lost his mother, honors the memory of the wonderful person he had in the foundation of his life, and those memories inspire him to consistently make new memories with family and friends.

 

Two other couples whose losses are not so recent (both children had cancer) say they refuse to let the past control the present. One said though the loss never leaves, she tries to look for joy and to bring joy to someone each day. The other explained how the experience of losing a child brought about ministry to other parents.  PrairieandMisc2014 1378

 

I admire all of these people

 

Did you notice the similarities in these stories?

  • A loss in their past increases desire to treasure what and who is in their present.
  • Recalling and cherishing memories of the past by honoring how those instances provided foundational influences in our lives.
  • Confidence and future hope of our loved ones—and our own— eternal destination enabling peace in the present.
  • Honoring our past within our daily lives helps us to function normally and joyfully in the present.
  • Sharing the experiences of past loss and gifts of life through your loved one brings hope and healing to both present and future.

 

Yes, I honor these parents and the hundreds more who have shared their stories – their hearts with me. I am in awe at their attitudes of more than survival, to love, laugh, serve IMG_9472and bless others. I also admire their choices to loosen or withdraw the attraction, craving, dependence and affection for things, and focusing that attention time and expense on people.

 

I admire their humility of unknowingly teaching healing — by living it. And I am anticipating a new chapter in my own healing as I meet one of our daughter’s organ recipients this month. Appreciate your prayers that I can meet their joy with grace.

 

What was a major step in your healing from loss?

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