Friday, August 31, 2012

Grieving With God



Grieving A Loss In The Hope Of God


If you are searching for answers to the tough questions that come about as you grieve the loss of your loved one, here are two great woman who've walked that road and can relate to your pain and offer you hope. If you're a friend of someone who lost a loved one and you want to be able to minister to them here are two great resources for you. God is willing to give His Holy Spirit to those who ask. Ask and you will receive understanding. Praise the Lord!



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Get Understanding


Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, 
And give attention to know understanding; 
For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law. 
When I was my father’s son, 
Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, 
He also taught me, and said to me: 
“Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live.
Get wisdom! Get understanding! 
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. 
Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; 
Love her, and she will keep you. 
Wisdom is the principal thing; 
Therefore get wisdom. 
And in all your getting, get understanding.
(Proverbs 4:1-7 NKJV)

It's true what they say that you can't fully understand a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes. I am a critical person towards myself and others. I have a hard time understanding WHY a person feels a certain way. And for the most part I didn't care that much to figure out the reasons. I just figured that was their problem and God would have to deal with their issues. But now in the middle of my unbearable trial I find myself wishing, praying, that someone would try to understand me. 

I had a very small gathering of friends over for my daughters 7th birthday this past Sunday. My mind has been in such a heavy fog these past few weeks. I forget everything! I can't park straight to save my life (warning to those who park by me) and I drop things all the time. I locked myself out of my house yesterday but by the grace of God was able to shove my 9 year old through a small window to get back in. But anyways I was talking about my daughters party. 

I have never been a huge birthday party throwing type to begin with, I think I had two birthday parties my whole life. But I wanted to do something for my daughter, mostly out of guilt. She was really missing her daddy. The day of her actual birthday she woke up crying and asked me, "Why did God make me?" She was a total daddy's girl and I can't imagine what she must be dealing with in her tiny little 7 year old mind as she tries to process the loss of her dad. So here I am 7 months after Kenny's passing trying to get up enough energy to have some friends over for cake and ice cream so my daughter would have a nice day. 

I thought about canceling the party at least 3 times but somehow, by the grace of God, managed to not cancel. Dealing with grief is exhausting and I was so scatter brained and tired and low on iron and a bit cranky. Mix that all up with a birthday party and I'm not sure what you get. I sat there on the porch with two of my friends and I asked them, "What is it like to have a friend who's husband died?" I hadn't really thought about it from their point of view before and I was curious. Was it uncomfortable, was it depressing, do you always feel down when you're around that friend? They were kind of shocked at my question but answered that it wasn't like that at all. 

I think because of my friends love for me they are more cautious and even stand-offish towards me for fear of saying the wrong thing. Thank you Jill for helping me figure that one out! I can't imagine what it must be like to have a friend who is going through something so foreign and difficult that you have no words. There must be a sense of helplessness. And I do know that feeling because I watched Kenny struggle with everything from; brain surgeries, chemo, radiation, and trial drugs, to headaches and side affects from drugs and emotional pains due to stress and everything in between. And the only thing I could do for him was just be there. It was so hard to watch him die wishing there was something I could do knowing it was out of my hands. 

That is kind of what I'm getting at. I know there is nothing you can say that will make my pain any less. But please don't feel like you shouldn't say anything. I know it's hard to watch someone struggle but please, do. I guess I'm asking you to suffer with me not knowing how long this will last. I might be angry one day or sad another or who knows you might catch me on a happy day. Mostly I just want to feel like I'm not alone. And maybe in the midst of this we will both "get understanding." 



If you are interested in the 7 stages of grief here is a great link that might help you understand
http://www.recover-from-grief.com/7-stages-of-grief.html

Thanks 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Simply Believe

There are many things in life that we trust with out question. For example, the rising of the sun. The sun has been pretty faithful to me over the last 32 years of my life to rise every morning. I plan my life around the fact that the sun will rise tomorrow so I have to get ready for the day the night before. It would be silly of us to not expect the morning and neglect our work because of our lack of faith in the sun.

Exercise has also been proven to be beneficial to our bodies and so is healthy eating. But even though those things are proven to be good and beneficial to us, unless we implement the work of exercising and eating healthy, it does us no good and we receive no benefit. Their truth remains the same but just knowing it or hearing about it does't make us healthy. We have to put exercise and healthy eating into practice before we see their benefits in our lives.

The same is true of our Christian faith. We hear wonderful testimonies from other people of God's faithfulness. Testimonies are so amazing and inspiring! The Bible is full of God's words to us, His promises to us. We read them, we hear them and even memorize them, but until we put them into practice in our lives we wont receive their blessings. Until we step out on the waters of faith, we wont receive the promises of God.

Stepping out in faith is difficult but once you take that first step it becomes easier. However, it doesn't compare to the work of waiting on the promises! We need to remain faithful even in the absence of the promise. We have to continue to believe that what God has said will come to pass, even if it seems like an insane amount of time has gone by with no evidence of the promise arriving.

It's a dual blessing we receive in the end. Because after we have endured the longsuffering of waiting, God sends His promise. And we come to find that we not only received our blessing but our faith has been strengthened all the more. We are stronger now and it was all because of faith. Simple belief in the all powerful Word of God.

The simplest things can sometimes be the most difficult for us!

Waiting wont kill us! Keeping our hope in Him wont Kill us! It is hard work yes, but if we should lose hope and turn away then we are in real danger of death, eternal death. Struggle a bit more with Him and you'll come to know, just as sure as the sun and the moon are in the sky, He is faithful to do the things He says He will do!

Lord, teach us to live by faith! Help us to not lose hope. We know that You are able to sustain us in the storms of life. You are faithful! Thank You for the promise we have through faith in Jesus Christ, eternal life! You have washed our sins away, we are made new and we are forgiven! Lord that is enough! May we be content to know at the end of this life of suffering we will see You and all our tears shall turn into shouts of praise! You are Worthy! Thank You for not leaving us here to suffer alone. Thank You for showing us the way we should go. We can choose to have You walk with us through these trails and to cling to Your words, how amazing! I can't imagine going through these pains without You! Thank You for Your longsuffering, thank You for Your Love!




Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus 
just to take Him at His word 
just to rest upon His promise 
just to know thus saith the Lord.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fight For The Future

The Lord is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, 
forgiving iniquity and transgression; 
but He by no means clears the guilty, 
visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation. 
Numbers 14:18

God is "JUST" 

JUST:
adjective
1.  guided by truth, reason, justice, and fairness: We hope to be just in our understanding of such difficult situations.
2.  done or made according to principle; equitable; proper: a just reply.
3.  based on right; rightful; lawful: a just claim.
4.  in keeping with truth or fact; true; correct: a just analysis.
5.  given or awarded rightly; deserved, as a sentence, punishment, or reward: a just penalty.
Compliments of http://dictionary.reference.com/

God is loving and forgiving it's true. Everyone loves to consider God's loving and forgiving nature! It's the just and good part that we sometimes question. But, our questioning doesn't change the truth!

I read a story in the bible about a King named Hezekiah. 2 Kings 18 introduces us to this good king and all the good things he did....in the beginning of his reign. You have to read the story for yourself.

2 Kings 18-20 Click the link to read the story.

So King Hezekiah had a good run until chapter 20 when he became sick and near to death. Isaiah the prophet told the king to get his house in order because this sickness would kill him. But the king turned away from the prophet and prayed to God. "'Remember now, O LORD, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.' and Hezekiah wept bitterly." (2 Kings 20:3) Clearly the king wasn't happy about God's decision to bring an end to his life. However, God heard the king and instructed the prophet Isaiah to go back and tell the king he would live.

What would you do if you only had 2 weeks to live, but after pleading your case to God you were granted another 15 years? I know most of our answers would sound something like; "Oh, I would be so grateful and I would serve the Lord even more!" We would all love to think that we could live up to that, but history has shown us something completely different and much more humanistic.

Instead of living his life fully devoted to God and serving Him all the more for extending his life. King Hezekiah paraded his treasures and everything that he had.

I let my oldest son stay up late with me one night while my other two children were put to bed. We watched a movie and ate mint chocolate chip ice cream with pretzels on top. Seriously if you haven't tried it, you are missing out! But I digress. The next day I let the kids watch a movie and my oldest son says to his younger siblings, "I got to stay up late last night and watch a movie with mom a-n-d have ice cream." You know he said it in a, 'ha ha,' kind of voice. What a little stinker! I let him stay up later and instead of being gracious and loving towards his siblings, he rubs it in their faces. You know you've done that too!

So after Hezekiah shows off to the other kings, Isaiah says to him, “Hear the word of the Lord: ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the Lord. ‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’” (2 Kings 20:16-18)

And how does the kindly, grateful King reply?  “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “Will there not be peace and truth at least in my days?” (2 Kings 20:19) 

Doesn't that just make you so mad? It makes me mad! I can't believe he doesn't care about his children or his children's children. Unfortunately, we see that all around us today! Parents using drugs and drinking and gambling. Mom's and dad's who walk out on their families because things get too hard. No regard for our children's future! Sexual sins and divorces that could have been avoided by humbling yourselves or asking for forgiveness and extending forgiveness towards them. Are we just like King Hezekiah? Are we only living for ourselves? Do we have no regard for the future? Do we have no compassion, no love, no remorse? Do we only want to look good but not have to work at being good?

Think about all the sin in the world. Now think about a newborn child being born into all this sin. Why do we want to start families if we're not going to see them through? What happens to us along the way? At what point did we give up the good fight and cave into our own selfish natures? God knows you never wanted it to be this way! But here we are. So now what? What will you do? Because one day you will die, and your children will be the ones that tell your story. What will they say about you? Will they even mention your name? Do you even care if they mention your name?

How foolish we can be. But, I believe there is a way out! I believe God can bring a family that was doomed to be forsaken by their forefathers out of the pit of destruction. But, don't think the enemy will just let you walk away. No, he's had his hands on your lineage for so long you'd better believe he'll pull out all the stops to get you to cave in like those before you did. There is a way out but you better be ready to fight! And you'd better know this, that you might not get a chance to live the, so called, 'blessed life' here on earth. But you're kids might, isn't that worth the battle?

Think you're too weak to carve out a new path in this life? 

(Isaiah 41:9-10)
You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,
And called from its farthest regions,
And said to you,
‘You are My servant,
I have chosen you and have not cast you away:
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’



Praise the Lord!
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
Who delights greatly in His commandments.


His descendants will be mighty on earth;

The generation of the upright will be blessed.


Wealth and riches will be in his house,

And his righteousness endures forever.


Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness;

He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.


A good man deals graciously and lends;

He will guide his affairs with discretion.


Surely he will never be shaken;

The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.


He will not be afraid of evil tidings;

His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.


His heart is established;

He will not be afraid,
Until he sees his desire upon his enemies.


He has dispersed abroad,

He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever;
His horn will be exalted with honor.


The wicked will see it and be grieved;

He will gnash his teeth and melt away;
The desire of the wicked shall perish.
Psalm 112

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

On The Inside

As all the world seems to be moving on I find myself here still. Emotions use to be something I could easily identify with. Now I can't seem to figure them out.

I try so hard to just be OK. It's exhausting! I had someone ask me if I was angry with them for something....ha....I laugh because I don't have the energy to be angry with anyone, and yet, anger is there inside of me.

The night Kenny died I didn't want to let go of his hands. I knew I would never hold them again or feel their warm touch. I slept with his beanie hats until his scent was gone. I went through the closet just last night and sniffed the shirts I kept but their scent is gone too. The feeling of his ever living in this house is fading too. I fear forgetting him!

I can't even begin to explain what I am feeling, These quotes were most like what I believe I am feeling or hope to be feeling soon.


“Every morning, I wake up and forget just for a second that it happened. But once my eyes open, it buries me like a landslide of sharp, sad rocks. Once my eyes open, I'm heavy, like there's to much gravity on my heart.” 
― Sarah Ockler, Twenty Boy Summer


“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” 

― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed


“Grief can destroy you --or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. OR you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn't allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it. But when it's over and you're alone, you begin to see that it wasn't just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything, it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it. The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can't get off your knees for a long time, you're driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life.” 

― Dean Koontz, Odd Hours

“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” 

― Leo Tolstoy



“The darker the night, the brighter the stars, 
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!” 
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment




A bit manic is the only way I can describe the feelings of emotions that whip around you when you're grieving. One day crushing pain forces you to retreat to the solace of your bed where you cry the most bitter tears of hopelessness and dread. Another day you breath in new life and decide to conquer mount laundry and feed the kids a healthy breakfast, only to be overcome with defeat and back upstairs you retreat. But not all is gloom sometimes laughter fills the living room. Alas the sounds are short lived as shrieks and screams abound instead.

If this is a time to mourn then so be it. But don't leave me here alone my Lord or I'll never make it to the time to dance.

Ecclesiastes 3



Monday, August 20, 2012

He Is Faithful

I am totally in awe of my God!

I don't even know how to start this blog. I was feeling so abandoned and alone. I thought God's promises were not meant for this life but the life to come. Let me assure you right now, His promises are here! Search them out and cling to them as you cling to your morning cup of coffee (in cases such as my own).

I discovered something new today and yet something of old. God didn't spare His One and Only Son! You're probably thinking, "Yeah, even the babes in Christ know that truth". But that is the biggest miracle of them all!

I found myself despairing and literally depressed. I was emotionally and physically exhausted. I was hard pressed on every side and I didn't believe that God had anything good in store for me ever! Looking back at my life and the plethora of trials that seem to plague me and follow me wherever I go I couldn't help but wonder why did God even bother creating me in the first place if all's He meant for my life was pain and loss and suffering?

Here comes the confession part. Oh, yucky human nature in all its raw and exposed nastiness! I had an excruciating week that started with our churches annual family camp and ended with an encounter with all of the ugliness inside of me.

In 8 days it will be 7 months since my best friend and husband died. The thing was, we all knew it was coming. All along the doctors told us 3 years and we would loose the fight against brain cancer. I was determined to be strong. I gave myself an allotted amount of time to grieve then move on. I wasn't going to be like those other grieving widows who cried all the time and needed tons of help and became a burden on church and family and friends (cringing as I write this). I think my anger was fueling my determination to be OK with this in-explainable sadness and confusion as to why God would allow such pain.

Utter brokenness came over me a few nights ago. I called a friend and opened my mouth, and I couldn't even believe the words that spilled out. I told her I didn't want to live anymore. I told her I was tired of feeling sad. She immediately came over at 10 O'clock at night. I was so ashamed and humiliated at my thoughts and my despair. How can I say these things and profess to have an undying hope in God? Please be understanding and compassionate as I spill what's left of myself into this post.

Psalm 88 

O Lord, God of my salvation,
I have cried out day and night before You.

2 Let my prayer come before You;
Incline Your ear to my cry.

3 For my soul is full of troubles,
And my life draws near to the grave.

4 I am counted with those who go down to the pit;
I am like a man who has no strength,

5 Adrift among the dead,
Like the slain who lie in the grave,
Whom You remember no more,
And who are cut off from Your hand.

6 You have laid me in the lowest pit,
In darkness, in the depths.

7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah

8 You have put away my acquaintances far from me;
You have made me an abomination to them;
I am shut up, and I cannot get out;

9 My eye wastes away because of affliction.
Lord, I have called daily upon You;
I have stretched out my hands to You.

10 Will You work wonders for the dead?
Shall the dead arise and praise You? Selah

11 Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave?
Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction?

12 Shall Your wonders be known in the dark?
And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

13 But to You I have cried out, O Lord,
And in the morning my prayer comes before You.

14 Lord, why do You cast off my soul?
Why do You hide Your face from me?

15 I have been afflicted and ready to die from my youth;
I suffer Your terrors;
I am distraught.

16 Your fierce wrath has gone over me;
Your terrors have cut me off.

17 They came around me all day long like water;
They engulfed me altogether.

18 Loved one and friend You have put far from me,
And my acquaintances into darkness.

God is no stranger to our desperation and depression! In fact apart from Him, whether we realize it or not, we are all in a state of desperation! Grief is crazy! just when you think you're OK, you're not all over again. The crazy cycle is the normal when it comes to grief! I am so grateful for my friends and for their prayers.

God did something amazing through my crushing pain and through my searching for answers. I stumbled across three individuals suffering through pain and heartache and yet clinging to God and His faithfulness and His truths. Let me introduce you to Re-booting This Crazy Life.  as well as Crazy for Sharing and last but not least We Choose To Believe

Here are my sisters and brother in the faith and in suffering and they don't even know me. They share with me a struggle to believe despite all the odds and despite all the pain. And the most amazing thing God revealed to me after reading their very human, raw and honest words was this; God didn't spare His Only Son! We are all God's special children and, though it's hard to believe sometimes, God loves us and is for us. He didn't spare His Only Son! Oh how pain can cause us to question His love and eventually we (or at least I) question if we ever really loved Him.

There is no doubt in my mind that God could have saved my husband! That would have been a miracle and we all would have praised Him for sparing Kenny's life. However, the bigger miracle is that God is able to sustain me, all of us, through the pain and sadness of loss. He causes me, us, to praise His name even after the healing has been denied! Are you with me on this? Do you understand the significance of these words? Who but God could cause His children to praise Him even after He denied their greatest and most desired prayer to save the life of the ones they loved, to heal the chronic pain that plagues? Who but a loving and infinitely wise creator could take away all that is dear to us and still receive glory and honor? Who but God could receive us as we are in all our humanness, doubt, anger and confusion and comfort us and bring us to acceptance and eventually spiritual healing and newness of life? There is only ONE!

Lord, You didn't spare Your One and Only Son! God You love us more than we could ever comprehend! There is no other able to save, able to redeem, able to strengthen, able to comfort, able to heal, able to love like You do. You are great and greatly to be praised! Let this be my Ebeneezer. I don't ever want to forget what you have revealed to me today! Lord I lift up my three blogging friends and I ask in Jesus name that You would bring the healing that they so desperately desire. I know You are able! I know You know what is best and I trust that Your plan for their lives is far greater than they can even imagine. I pray for their loved ones who don't know You Lord and I ask that You would, through the suffering of Your saints, reveal Your truth and love for them so that they may be saved. Thank You for their openness and for using their stories to bring about healing in my heart. You are awesome, there is none like You!




Sunday, August 19, 2012

Suffering With Hope

There is no doubt about it, life is hard! But hope is alive!

I have not had an easy path in life. I don't say that win your sympathy, it's just a fact. There were times when I let the hard things of this life lead me to make wrong decisions. I gave up hope and chose to treat the symptoms while leaving my spirit neglected and dying. I struggle a lot with my thoughts, but God has helped me tremendously over the last few years to discipline myself to change my thinking, to take every thought captive. But I confess the pressures of this life can still cause me to become overwhelmed and hopeless all over again.

I was thinking about suffering and I was reminded of Paul. In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul tells of his sufferings in the Lord. He doesn't list his extensively detailed sufferings to boast. We have all had our petty competitions with each other over who has worked harder or endured longer or sacrificed greater. Shame on us, as if we ourselves overcame such trials and adversities in our own strength.  God is the one to whom all glory is due, even the glory of suffering.

I know how hopeless a person can feel before they make the decision to turn from God and look to another answer for their pain and suffering. Praise the Lord that He, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, can and will still save to the uttermost those who admit their wrong and turn back to Him for the answer to their sorrows and fears.

We will all suffer in this life and we will all come to a crossroads where we will have to decide whom or what we will put our faith in. I love the story of Thomas in John 20:24-29.  

Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”




Like Thomas we all doubt. We all get thrown off course by hardships and we can all be shaken and confused by pain that crushes us. Thomas wouldn't even hear the words of his friends and how they had seen Jesus and were filled again with hope. I have seen friends and relatives shake their heads at the thought of an invisible God who can change and save a life. God forbid that our eyes would be so focused on the visible that we miss the blessing of believing in the invisible truth of God.


John 14:1-6 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Here is our good friend Thomas doubting again. The gospel is our hope and there is no other! Jesus defeated the gave and rose again on the third day. He has gone to prepare a place for us and He will come again and receive us to Himself that where He is we may be also. Oh, that we would simply believe that. That we would Trust Him at His word and save ourselves from looking to anyone or anything else. 


What does it take for your spirit to become crushed? How much pressure can you withstand before you cave into your own solutions giving up hope that God knows how to cure your pain? We are all so weak but God can make us strong. Take my word for it because; though I've been neglected and lied to, molested and shamed, given into temptations to treat the hunts of torturous memories, dished out pain to others in an attempt to satisfy the anger inside of me for the mistreatment that was done me, for the loss of loved ones who were taken by sickness and those taken by addictions. I know pain.

I put on anger and hatred mercilessly towards those who only wanted to love me and help me. I doubted in the Love of my Savior time and time again because of the trials that were surrounding me. But for the Grace of God I would be dead right now, not because of infliction of hardship and suffering but because of myself and the error of my thoughts, because of unbelief. There IS a hope so great that you can overcome any and all adversities! There is a love so deep that your pains can be healed! There is a truth so sure that many would die to reach the lost with this message.

Lord forgive me for letting my thoughts lead me to feel hopeless. God You are amazing! Thank You for bringing me here to prove Your faithfulness to me yet again. May I never forget that no matter what this life brings I am Yours forever and ever! Thank You for everyone who prays for me! Bless them all! All Glory Honor Power Are Yours AMEN!



A Psalm of David.

103 

Bless the Lord, O my soul;

And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

 Bless the Lord, O my soul,

And forget not all His benefits:

 

Who forgives all your iniquities,

Who heals all your diseases,

 Who redeems your life from destruction,

Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,

So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.


The Lord executes righteousness

And justice for all who are oppressed.

 

He made known His ways to Moses,

His acts to the children of Israel.

 The Lord is merciful and gracious,

Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

 

He will not always strive with us,

Nor will He keep His anger forever.

 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,

Nor punished us according to our iniquities.


For as the heavens are high above the earth,

So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

 As far as the east is from the west,

So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

 

As a father pities his children,

So the Lord pities those who fear Him.

 For He knows our frame;

He remembers that we are dust.


As for man, his days are like grass;

As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.

 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,

And its place remembers it no more.

 

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting

On those who fear Him,

And His righteousness to children’s children,

 To such as keep His covenant,

And to those who remember His commandments to do them.


The Lord has established His throne in heaven,

And His kingdom rules over all.

Bless the Lord, you His angels,

Who excel in strength, who do His word,

Heeding the voice of His word.

 

Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,

You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.

 

Bless the Lord, all His works,

In all places of His dominion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It Takes Courage To Comfort



Grief is hard! Pain comes on sometimes seemingly out of the blue.  It’s been almost 29 weeks since Kenny died and I thought after some time had passed that it would get easier to deal with. Not the case, at least not today.

This week was especially difficult. We went camping with our church for our annual 'family camp.' I was expecting to have a great time but I had no idea how emotional this trip would be for me. Maybe I was na├»ve. Probably! I am not one to cower away from camping easily no matter what the circumstances. But this being the first time I went without my husband it was almost too much to handle, almost, if it wasn’t for my church family and my God.

I had this dream the last night of family camp. We were at a fair somewhere and I saw Kenny in a crowd of people. He was standing in line eating fair food. I did a double take to make sure I wasn’t mistaken. Right away the kids ran up to hug him. He looked the same but different. He was still bald but his face wasn’t swollen at all. His smile was definitely the same. He introduced me to this friendly woman who was standing to his right. I had never seen her before but Kenny seemed to know her. He said, “We got to come back.” I didn’t ask for how long, I assumed just a short time, maybe a day. I finally went up to give him a hug and I started telling him how hard things were down here without him. He hugged me for a moment then backed away. I woke up after that.

It was like 4 in the morning because the sky was lighter but the sun hadn’t come up yet. I got dressed and headed for the beach with my bible in tow. I knew the kids would be out for at least 4 more hours since we stayed up late the night before watching shooting stars fly across the sky. I needed to talk to God! I felt like I had been waiting for this dream since Kenny passed away. I dreamed of him before but the dreams were always before Kenny died or as if he had never died. God was the only one who could help me understand and deal with this.

The birds were extra talkative this morning as I sat and listened to the breeze and the fishermen passing by. I heard splashing as fish jumped up out of the water to get their yummy breakfast. I started crying as I talked to God. I read Psalm 88 and related to the writers’ pain and cried even more. I asked God for guidance and He told me to praise Him. “Praise You,” I said, “Give me something to praise You for and I will.” I know that is the wrong attitude to have. I am weak, God knows.

A few days later I found myself exhausted and feeling defeated. I prayed and read my devotionals but my faith was failing me. In that moment I thought every bad thought you could think about life and about God and all this pain that was overtaking me. I wanted to see the promise God had given me. I wanted to see the Everlasting Kindness that He promised to me back in February (Isaiah 54:4-8). I couldn’t handle any more. Then my phone rang.

I don’t really know why I answered my phone since I was feeling especially anti-social, or as my friend Melissa would say, reclusive. It was Melissa on the other end of the line and she asked how I was doing. I gave her the usual fine, but she knew I was lying. She insisted I tell her what was wrong so I said, “My husband is dead!” I’m sure the thought, "get off the phone quickly," passed through her mind. It would mine if I heard that on the other end of the phone. It took great courage for her to stay on the line as I was being extra snippy. But she pressed through my response and she said, “I miss him too,” and she started to cry. My hardness cracked and I started crying too. She listened to me complain and pour out my heart. I told her I was jealous because I was stuck here and Kenny is surrounded by perfect love. There is no crying no heart ache no problems and I am left here to deal with all this craziness! Where was my promise from God?

After I unloaded on her, mind you she's never experienced something like what I'm dealing with, she comforted me by telling me how she's seen God change me. She shared how she watched Him get me through some of the darkest times by my clinging onto Him by faith.  She confessed she didn't know exactly what I was going through but she told me she knew without a shadow of a doubt that I wouldn't be angry and bitter forever. 

When she addressed my question, where was my promise from God, she said, "Alyscia, maybe you've got a preconceived idea of what God's promises are suppose to look like in your life." Immediately I knew she was right. I had been expecting to see specific things. I thought God's promise to me would look a certain way. I thought there could only be one way for His Everlasting Kindness to be proved in my eyes. Wow, how ridiculous of me. I found at the end of our conversation, though my circumstances were unchanged, I felt so much better. God gave me a friend who wouldn't scare away when pain caused my heart to harden. I knew in that moment, she was God's Everlasting Kindness towards me.  

Sometimes we can get squeamish at the sight of blood. We can take offense when others lash out at us because their pain is so intense. It takes great courage to be willing to comfort a bleeding heart, especially when you've never experienced anything similar. People say when you've been through the fire you become a comfort to others in their time of fire. But I say if you have God on your side you can be a comfort to anyone no matter what your experience with fire. 

Praise You Lord for Your faithfulness to me even when I am of little faith. Thank You for my friend! Lord You are good and You are loving. You comfort me and You strengthen me. You are my strong tower and fortress of defense. You are my rock and my shield. You are my God in Whom I will trust! I will sing praises to Your name forever! Thank You for everything You've done for me. Thank You for my salvation through faith in Your Son Jesus Christ. Even if the rest of my life is a trial by fire my I be found singing when the evening comes!





Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Where Oh Where Is Thy Path For Me?

"Oh, do not deliver the life of Your turtledove to the wild beast! 
Do not forget the life of Your poor forever. 
Have respect to the covenant; 
For the dark places of the earth are full of the haunts of cruelty. 
Oh, do not let the oppressed return ashamed! 
Let the poor and needy praise Your name." 
Psalm 74:19-21

I read this morning in my Streams In The Desert devotional; "There are no enemies to your growth in grace, or to your Christian work, that were not included in your Savior's victory." Think about that. God controls all things! He intentionally included those who would oppose or fight against you into His plan for your life. 

I read in Come Away My Beloved; "The storm is not a thing to fear but rather to welcome. Ye shall learn to head into the wind with sheer delight as soon as ye have made the discovery that in the time of stress and strain, ye have the clearest revelations of myself.... ye need never fear as to whether I will be faithful to thee, for if I have never failed anyone else, why would I fail thee?" 

God has a better view of this world than anyone of us. He created and designed all things masterfully! There should never be a question as to His motives, but He knows we are but dust and as such we blow around trying to stay grounded in His truths but are ever unable. HE IS THE ONE who keeps us stable in the midst of our ever changing and chaotic travels through this life. It is through His great mercy and love that we are even able to know Him as little as we do. For He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion. So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. Romans 9:15-16

Who can know the mind of God? There are so many in this world! Even our best efforts to help or reach the lost are futile. But, God knows this and maybe even designed it to be so. We love to busy ourselves with important and big issues in His name. We can be so involved in the greater issues of the world that we lose touch with the seemingly more insignificant issues. Problems are problems whether life threatening or just nuisances in our everyday existence. 

How many times have you been searching for something desperately only to find that it was right in front of you all the time. You spent so much time and energy looking for this thing high and low and got all worked up because it wasn't anywhere you were looking when all the while it was in the most obvious place. Maybe in our seeking to do and be apart of His will we need only look directly in front of us. Maybe we shouldn't deem a person's needs or problems as big or small but just as ways we can be of service.  

Praise the Lord that He works all things together for good. Praise Him that He is always willing to be of service to us whether our problems are big or small. I love how our Savior Jesus Christ humbled Himself at the end of His amazing a miraculous ministry to wash His disciples feet. He had done some wondrous and mystifying works throughout His earthly ministry but He waited until after all these truly amazing feats to do perhaps the most mystifying work of all. He simply humbled Himself all the more and washed dirty feet. Lord how wonderful You are! What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31 May we all learn this kind of humility! 

Finally the closing quote from Come Away My Beloved; "I am the Ruler, and I will reign. Ye can resist Me, but it shall inevitably be to thine own destruction. Love Me and trust Me, and stay in a place of humility. As it is written, 'Humble thyself under the mighty hand of God, and He will raise thee up.' Mind you , He will do it. Ye need not raise yourself. You need only stay humble."


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Yucky Anger

I have to apologize to you. I was angry at you today. I judged you unjustly because you are still here and my Kenny is not.

I have never felt so torn. I really want to be angry some days, and some days I am really angry. I think it's the everyday things that really get to me. Josiah said something funny yesterday and I could just imagine Kenny laughing his head off about it. But Kenny isn't here to share this life with us anymore. I look around at my life and think how I wouldn't have any of this if it wasn't for Kenny. IT'S NOT FAIR. But then who said life was supposed to be fair?

All of me is at war with these emotions and these thoughts of injustice. I was walking around outside yesterday looking straight down at the ground so I didn't have to make eye contact with anyone. I talked to God as I walked and I told Him, "I know you could help me to not be angry right now but I'm OK with these feelings today. I'll let you know tomorrow if I want Your help." Yep, I really did say that! It's so hard to take your thoughts captive! You know this as well as I do. Want to know what that choice led to? You guessed it, I was miserable the rest of yesterday and into today.

I went to Keegan's football practice this evening, he has practice from 6-8pm Mon-Fri. The coaches are tough on these little guys. Yesterday was Keegan's first practice and after practice I asked him how he liked it. He said his head hurt and he felt like he was going to throw up. Tonight was no different, they ran and did drills and pushed them to their limits. Don't tell Keegan I told you this but towards the end of the practice he came over to me crying because he felt sick from working so hard. I told him, "Well you don't have to do this, you can quit. But then you'd be a quitter." He took a few drinks of water and put his helmet back on and hustled back out to the field.

I had to think about what just happened for a while. What is it that makes us want to keep going through the pain. Is it the promise of reward? He knows if he sticks with this he will get tougher and be a skilled athlete. He doesn't know if they will win any games or championships, he doesn't know how much he'll get to play in the games or even what position they'll place him in. He just wants to be apart of this team.

Christianity for me has been similar. I want so badly to stick with this disciplined life of a Christian because it has become the meaning in my life and it's the only thing that has proven to be true consistently in everything. I love the Lord and what He's done for me, but some days I just want to quit. I know that makes me sound awful but it's true. I just want to be angry and mad at the world. I just want all my anger to somehow be seen by someone or by God so He will say, "Oh, Alyscia I didn't mean this for your life, I'm so sorry, here have your husband back." I don't know! I know feeling angry doesn't help but what then? When will I stop hurting? When will I not feel so overwhelmed by life? When will I have joy again? WHEN LORD?

One thing I know for sure, my kids are a whole lot stronger than I am! They are amazing! Keegan cried the night he got his football gear. He said he wished his dad could see him. I don't even know what to say except, "me too buddy."

I started re-reading A Future And A Hope by Johns Courson. This is what I read:

"This statement has been stirring in my mind for some time now. Why do bad things happen to good people? Are there no answers?....Two years ago, a best-selling book was entitled just that: Why Bad Things Happen To Good People. The author concluded there are no real answers; even as there are no easy answers. I suggest to you, however, that there is a profoundly simple answer to this question: There are no good people."....


There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable. There is none that doeth good, no, not one. Romans 3:10-12


"....So the real question is not 'Why do bad things happen to good people?' but 'Why do good things happen to bad people?'.... The Bible says God demonstrated His love for us all in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)"....

"....It rains on the just and the unjust. The sun shines on the believer and the unbeliever because God is good. Everything He gives us is because of grace -- unmerited, undeserved, unearned favor. But if we don't recognize this, if we misinterpret the source of our blessings, we become narrow and bitter and full of sorrow."

Lord I am weak and I'm tired. I know that I came into this world with nothing and everything I have is a gift from you. I know You give and You take away when You see it right to do. Lord help my wicked heart from growing bitter and cold. Help me to heal Lord, I'm tired of being sad and angry. I know You are enough for me. Help me to cling to You because I don't know if I can even stand. Lord help me to stand! God please don't leave me here. Forgive me!

Nothing Is Impossible For You

Lord when everything is gone, 
when I am left standing here empty and broken, 
You are with me and You love me back to life. 
God there is nothing to hard for You! 
No storm of life, 
no pain of death,
 no cross to heavy, 
that You can't make a way through and bring about healing. 
You are God! 
You are Good. 
You are. 


Lord forgive me for not trusting You more. 
Help me to get through this day with faith in Your power to do mighty things. 
Lord You created everything perfectly and there are no words able to save better than Yours. 
God You spoke and it was done. 
Lord there is no preacher or teacher able to reach the lost better than just a simple cry out to You. 
Lord Your power is greater than we could imagine. 
Lord bring us to You! 
We can't  come to You without being pulled by Your loving arms. 
Lord teach us to pray to You and to trust in You for everything we need! 
You are a God who desires us individually and personally. 
You will be faithful to reach those Whom You have called Your own! 
Lord let Your glory shine. 
In Jesus name Amen!