Tag: trust

prayer comes in many forms and colors

Pain hurts. Now there’s a “Duh”.

I have the greatest empathy for anyone who suffers chronic pain. It’s no fun.

As you know,  I’ve had numerous foot surgeries. For the past two years, I’ve been able to walk without limping and without pain.

Until yesterday.

Even the limp is back. Needless to say, I’ve been discouraged. There’s pain in places in my foot I wouldn’t have thought could cause pain!

Now, this is not to elicit your sympathy. It’s just to acknowledge that pain is very much a part of the Christian’s experience.

I’m always amazed at those Christians who are proponents of the “Christians don’t hate to experience pain. We can pray ourselves right out of it.”

Hmmm. Do you think they would have dared tell Jesus that as he hung on the cross?

I don’t think so.

But it’s not just physical pain where Christians are not exempt. It’s the emotional pain as well and this garners even more disdain from those Christians I dub the “Christians for whom everything is always wonderful.”

Just wait.

If one’s lives long enough, they will experience some emotional pain. How traumatic it is, whether it results in true depression or not, might well depend on their willingness to admit it.

Maybe there’s something to be said for experience some pain before you have to experience a whole lot of it. Hopefully, I’ve already reached my “quota”.

But there’s to be learned from pain.

First of all, we get a “sampling” of what Jesus suffered for us.

Secondly, we learn to trust more. Wouldn’t you agree that our faith grows more during difficult times?. I wish it wasn’t so, but I’m afraid it is.

Third, pain, in all its forms, keeps us humble. Somehow when we’re in pain, it’s easier to empathize with others.

Since my mom died, I’ve found it easier to empathize with the pain others feel when they lose a loved one. Up to this point, I feel I fell short. The last year, and especially the final six months were particularly hard due to the dementia. So when I ran into a couple who were having a garage sale and they shared they had moved back to the area to take care of the women’s father who had dementia, I knew what to say. I was able to share the pain I had felt. I hope it helped.

Pain should make us more “open” and understanding of another’s pain.

I’ve never lost my home to a natural disaster, the type of which is hammering Texas.  I did have a tree fall on our house many years ago and I remember how I felt then. While that was nothing in comparison, I can take my mind a little further and think, “What if my whole house had been destroyed?” To me, losing my home is the second rung on the ladder of disasters, with death and/0r a terrible prognosis being at the top.

Recently, I went through a season of pain with someone. Watching them suffer broke my heart. I felt helpless but I wasn’t.

I prayed hard. Not just in the morning either, but throughout the day and every time they’re name came to mind , which was just about all the time.

That’s the skill we hone when it’s someone else’s’ pain. We really learn how to strip aside all our fancy words; we learn how to “get real” in our prayers.

We cry out.

We don’t worry about whether we are being too honest or not. (Is that even possible?)

We set aside our “genteel” notions about prayer.

We pray a whole lot more like Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Maybe that’s the biggest benefit of pain-learning to pray better.

God bless and remember there isn’t anything you can’t say to God.

 

wisdom

When we doubt past decisions

I’ve often written about making good decisions.

But what about those times we find ourselves doubting past decisions? And don’t we all at some time or another?

If you’re one of those rare people who doesn’t, then I envy you. I’m not one of those. I do doubt past decisions. That means I must doubt whether or not I’ve always heard God clearly. And to that I say, yes, I think there have been times I’ve not heard God clearly. Probably, only because I haven’t asked.

I’ve never doubted that God has had my best interest at heart always, but I do wonder at times if I’ve confused his voice with mine. Please someone out there, tell me you’ve been there, too.

Haven’t you all looked back and asked yourself whether you really heard God or not? I hope so because I firmly believe it’s only through some self-examination that we grow in our life and in our faith. I believe Romans 12:2:

 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

I would contend that we renew our mind only by examining our mind first and for me, that means examining past decisions because our decisions say a lot about us. In fact, one could say it’s our decisions, our choices, that say the most about us.

Sometimes we jump ahead of God and make our decisions never giving God a thought.  Then there are those that can’t make the simplest decision because they worry they will be stepping outside of God’s will. That’s as dangerous.

It’s a conundrum.

That’s why I love Proverbs. It’s chocked full of helpful and practical advice. For example, over and over again there is the imperative that if you want to reap a harvest, whether it’s veggies and fruits, or ideas and decisions, you have to put in the work first. It’s why every day I ask for wisdom for the things that come my way. For the most part, I would say I’ve always felt I’ve received the wisdom I needed.

Every day I ask for wisdom for the things that come my way. For the most part, I would say I’ve always felt I’ve received the wisdom I needed. Even when I’ve had to make on-the-spot decisions. I’ve learned to accept that no matter what decision is looming ahead of me, I will receive the wisdom I need when I need it. Guaranteed.

With my mom’s illness, I was surprised (I shouldn’t have been) how I always had the resources I needed, whether a magazine article, something someone said, a news report, that would be the answer to what I was questioning. In fact, when I look back over these past few years, I feel truly blessed that God made my road clear every step of the way.

Even the day of her death.

Somehow “wisdom” stepped in and made it clear that I should not leave her house, that death was imminent. Nothing had changed in her condition. But God instilled in my heart the knowledge ahead of time. I just “knew”.  And I think that’s because I’ve learned that the wisdom I seek can always be trusted to be there.

The day she died, I had gone out on her deck for just a few minutes. I was only there a very short while when once again there was that “prompt” to go back inside. The minute I walked into her room, again, I knew, as only God can make a person know anything, that she was within minutes of leaving this world. I called my brother in immediately. I called my husband who had just left to run some errands. Within ten minutes she was gone with the people that knew her the longest holding her as she slipped from this world to the next, me, my brother, my husband, and my brother’s ex-wife.

That’s what wisdom does if we trust God to reveal it to us. 

If this is an area that has been lacking in your prayer life, asking for daily wisdom for whatever decisions you may have to make that day,  you might want to consider adding that request.

God bless and have a good day.

Maundy Thursday

When you’re worried about making a big mistake

Last night my husband and I went to our church’s Maundy evening service.

A Maundy service commemorates the ceremony of washing the feet of the poor, especially commemorating Jesus’ washing of His disciples’ feet on Maundy Thursday, the night before his crucifixion. 

Our service was a combined service along with twenty other local churches. We expected a big crowd so my husband and I got to church early only to sit and wait for the church to fill up. It didn’t. But there was a nice diversity of people.

At one point there was a re-enactment of the washing of feet with four pastors taking turns. But the best part was the service of Tenebrae.

The word “Tenebrae” comes from the Latin meaning “darkness”, or “shadow”.  The Tenebrae is an ancient Christian Good Friday service that makes use of gradually diminishing light through the extinguishing of candles to that symbolizes the events of Holy Week from the triumphant Palm Sunday entry through Jesus’ burial. Lights are gradually diminished with the increasing darkness symbolizing the darkness of Jesus’ death. When the church gets dark, worshippers are encouraged to take that time to reflect on their life in light of the death Jesus and what it means to them personally.

Maundy Thursday

We had seven different pastors read portions of that week’s events, from the betrayal to the crucifixion. The readers were particularly good. Some of the headings of the Scriptures were, “The Shadow of His Agony and Arrest in the Garden”, “The Shadow of His Death”, etc.

A young man from our church sang some “dark” songs in between each reading. However, at the end, a man from one of our local black churches sang “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” I can only say, it sent shivers down my spine. This version will, too.

But here’s what it meant to me.

I’ve struggled with some things surrounding my mom’s declining health, including taking care of her finances and getting things in order. It’s been very stressful for lots of reasons I can’t share. I’ve struggled with the “unfairness” surrounding some of these issues.

Ordinarily, I never consider whether I’m being treated fairly or not. It’s not who I am usually. But it has been with this experience.

While I sat there last night, it occurred to me that these circumstances are allowing me to experience on even the tiniest scale how Jesus must have felt about the unfairness of what was happening to him. There is, of course, no scripture to suggest this, but I don’t think it’s too far a stretch to think that Jesus might have had a moment when he thought that way. Remember, Jesus was as human as he was divine.

I felt properly chagrined at my attitude when I considered what I was dealing with compared to the unfairness of a crucifixion of an innocent man.

We usually don’t attend the Maundy service so I surprised myself when I told my husband I wanted to go. Now I know why. I needed a “slap up along side my head”, and I got it.

But as the service went on and I was feeling pretty bad about my former attitude. (Part of being forgiven is thinking seriously about our sin.  If we really are aware of our sin, there should be some feelings of sadness. That’s how change usually happens and accepting forgiveness means a change is needed. We just don’t accept forgiveness and go one making the same mistake. We might for a while till we get it “licked” but it’s not something that continues. If it does, we weren’t serious when we confessed it.)  It also occurred to me that I had been worrying I would make some really wrong decisions during this season of my mom’s impending death.

During the service, I felt God saying to me, “I will never let you make a big mistake if you just keep listening.”

I know that now.

We can trust God to lead us in the right way, if we follow his voice. And following his voice means, praying and listening, and reading his word. There is no other way.

I’m so glad I was there last night. “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” took on new meaning.

God bless and I hope the miracle of Easter Sunday has special meaning for you.

hope

Mom had a stroke and things are worse

I couldn’t share this sooner because my daughter and my niece were out-of-town for spring break. My brother and I decided the keep my mom’s condition quiet from all social media until they came home which is why I couldn’t post this sooner.

My mom had a stroke ten days ago. It affected her left side so she is unable to use that side. Her chewing and swallowing is affected. She is now in a wheelchair. To make all of this worse, she doesn’t remember having the stroke and doesn’t believe she had one either. She also thinks she can still walk so she tries to get up and, of course, has fallen twice more.

So now she is confined to a wheelchair and is strapped in. We have a strap ordered from Hospice so she can be strapped into other chairs as well. We tried a child’s bed rail but she got her legs tangled in it so today we are removing her box springs and lowering the bed. The mattress will be supported by plywood. If she falls out, she won’t have as far to fall.

Since the stroke, she doesn’t believe she is in her own home so she is getting agitated. We now have to give her a “cocktail” of medications (per Hospice) to calm her down so she can sleep.

This has been rough.

Some people have been very kind to suggest that her last days would be filled with quiet, bittersweet conversations, you know, like in a Nicholas Sparks movie.

That isn’t going to happen.

Instead, I’m going to see her get more confused and more agitated. I can’t tell you how much this saddens me. To think that these are going to be my last memories of her is hard.

But God has been close and I’ve felt his guidance every step of the way. I’ve prayed so hard for her to return just a little to her old self so we could have those sweet moments.

I don’t feel like God has let me down. I don’t feel he hasn’t answered my prayers. She is going to be healed, just not on this earth. When she passes on, I’m going to think of her smiling, cooking, working in her garden, and drinking iced tea on her deck. And that is one prayer I’m not giving up on, sitting on her deck and drinking iced tea with her one more time.

I’m sure some would think me foolish for my faith. Isn’t it apparent God doesn’t answer prayer? And yet I still believe.

People get old and people die;  illness affects us all. Nothing changes that. And healing is up to God. Why he heals some and not others, I don’t know. So I don’t pray that God will extend her life because she wouldn’t want to live much longer like this. Would you? I pray instead that I will continue to trust in God and that I will know what to do each step of the way. So far, so good. I can’t think of a single decision I’ve made that I haven’t felt was the right one.

I pray instead that I will continue to trust in God and that I will know what to do each step of the way. So far, so good. I can’t think of a single decision I’ve made that I haven’t felt was the right one.

The next big decision will be whether she has to live elsewhere. We are exhausting every possible solution before we get to that point.

Sometimes an impossible situation like this one, when things just keep getting worse and worse, are what make us stronger. But to tell you the truth, I’d just as soon not take this journey.

I just wanted to bring you all up to date. After today, I will quit posting about this unless something major happens.

My life is going on. My mother would want that for me.

God bless and have a good day.

When there is no encouragement and no “good”word

(If you read this post yesterday, I apologize. It wasn’t supposed to go out until today. Does that tell you how overwhelmed I am? But much good has come my way since yesterday. I’ve made some progress on the legal side and some discussions with friends and family have enlightened me and solidified my thinking. Sometimes we get so intent on being “fair”, we’re not very smart. But that’s when God steps in and encourages you to take stock of not only everyone else but yourself as well. Satan likes to make us second-guess God’s clear wisdom. If we stay focused though and don’t rush ahead of ourselves, it all eventually becomes clear. That’s how God shows us mercy. So I am publishing this post again in case you missed it yesterday.

 I am reposting it under another title with some changes.  I most certainly would’ve re-read it last night and edited it. I always do. So today’s version includes some of those minor changes.)

I have a lot of versions of Proverbs 12:25 for you to read. But before you do, let me warn you.

This is a brutally honest post and I’m writing it as a long-time follower of Christ.

New International Version
Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.
New Living Translation
Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.
English Standard Version
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad
New American Standard Bible
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.
King James Bible
Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.
Holman Christian Standard Bible
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.
Aren’t these great verses? I mean they’re some of my favorite.
But guess what?
Sometimes there are no “good” words to say.
Sometimes there are no words of encouragement.
Sometimes there is nothing that can cheer us up.
inactivity-and-depression
Have you ever been there? When there can be no “good” outcome?
I sure hate to start your day off this way but if you’re struggling as I am with a similar situation, maybe this will help.
You all know my mom has been diagnosed with dementia. I’ve tried hard not to believe this. I’ve explained away all her symptoms as something else. But the confusion is increasing. My brother and I are pretty discouraged as we see the future and it doesn’t look good.
Is there any “good” word that anyone can say?
Nope.
Before you judge my faith, this is truly a case of  “unless you’ve had this horrible disease impact your life”, you have no clue.
Where my faith does come in is not what “good” words anyone might say but only the promise that somehow, some way, God will keep his promise to me, “that he will never give me more than I can handle”. Right now I don’t see how that can be but I trust God because I know he sees the big picture.

God sees the big picture

 I only see this little microscopic and miserable part of my current situation. There is nothing “good” about dementia. There is no good “word” anyone can say. And everyone who’s experienced this with a loved one knows what I’m talking about.
There is no mention of dementia anywhere in scripture. I will be honest and say, “This really bothers me.” I mean at least if I had some specific story I could relate to, some “words” I could quote from scripture that says “Here’s what you do when someone is diagnosed with dementia”, that would help. But there’s nothing.
Many people experience situations every day for which there is no corresponding example in the Bible.
So what are we to do?
I’d like to think my faith will be strengthened. But I think it’s likely to be challenged instead.
I’d like to think I’ll have an inspirational story to tell someday, but there’s nothing inspirational about dementia.
I’d like to think I’ll come out on the other side of all this a better person but I worry that I won’t. I could go on……
But what it really boils down to is one word that I’m clinging to:

Mercy

(Yesterday, as I wrote in the first paragraph, mercy showed up through conversations and insights.  Tomorrow mercy might present itself in a book or a song. Mercy has no limitations. God can use whatever vehicle he wants to send mercy our way. The only thing we have to do is recognize it.  

I am counting on God’s mercy showering me time and again in God’s most creative ways.  I am thankful today that we do indeed serve a merciful God who leads us when we are tired, angry, confused, directionless, flailing about, etc.  I’m glad we serve a merciful God that looks past our failings, real or imagined. )

I hope this helped and God bless you today.
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