Spa treatment in the Psalms?

piano-1396971_1280I was glad that I had my Psalm I.V. hook-up yesterday. Sometimes ya just don’t know what’s gonna hit ya.

I know, explain myself, right? Since I had a longer drive to work, I took advantage of listening to some of my favorite Psalms set to music while I drove.

Instead of tuning into a business training podcast on the way home, I turned Psalms on again. I could not get enough. I needed this spa treatment for my aching soul.

Do you ever have days and weeks when your heart just won’t stop hurting?

It’s been a stinky few weeks.

What’s my work? Well, I’m still doing a few weekly housekeeping jobs a week to make ends meet in addition to giving private piano lessons five days a week.

Writing web copy, blogs, and content for professional service and wellness companies full-time is my goal. I also love working with educational materials. I’m blessed with a few writing clients.

I need more writing work, though. It fits with our crazy schedule jammed with doctor’s visits.

In fact, hello! Sharing is caring. You can view some of my professional work samples here!

Right now, though, I’m still serving some older clients I’ve had for at least ten years.

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One of them has been in and out of rehab twice this year. Her Parkinson’s is getting the better of her and she lives alone.

She was so sick when I got to her house that my heart was torn in two when it was time to leave her alone.  She had tears in her eyes, and so did I.

Tears upon tears — my loved one learned of the passing of a sweet friend this week, only 32, who was diagnosed with cancer shortly after we got his cancer diagnosis. Her husband left her and her two little boys after her diagnosis.  Her mom and Christian friends stepped in to care for and love on them.

Sickness, sorrow, pain, and death — the tears had been flowing freely the night before at our house.   For two weeks my dear one has barely left the bed.

Life is still blessedly good, though.

The provisions have been there for our needs. Friends and church family love on us. We’re not alone.  My girlie and I did well with schooling this year. In fact, what she’s learned amazes me!

I’ve been trying to keep my head in the business game AND help my daughter with her bedroom switch and a DIY room decor redesign. It involves Mom scrubbing paint off of her hands between students. There are boxes and piles almost everywhere at my house. 🙂  Sound like fun?

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The room is going well, and that’s a happiness project well worth the effort.

I’m ready for some sort of a spa day, I think.

When you sit in the Walmart parking lot alone — like I did this afternoon — in your car for five minutes because….It’s the Walmart kind of spa treatment?

Because why? The words to a song move you so deeply you can’t keep your game face on to get your groceries.  Hillary Scott got to me this time. Thy Will Be Done

After all, I was safely home, home from the big city — and I survived this trip. It was Thy will that made me put my foot down, Lord, and say —  I’m taking you to this appointment. Now I know one reason WHY.

I survived driving three hours to see a specialist while my loved one was spewing chunks for more than half of the trip. Obnoxious traffic and no opening to pull over, so ya just roll down the window. ‘Nuff said.

For the way home, I found a convenient bag in the trunk of the car. Shew! Saved by a Walmart bag (and that’s a love/hate relationship, ha!).

Then the tears started again. No, I’m not leaving you alone in your misery. Never! Why would you ask this? Knife to my heart!! I’ve stood by you for how many years of chronic illness?

I know it’s the pain and misery talking. I know it’s the long years of wear and tear on a frail body.   It’s the death of a friend deserted by her spouse.

In the middle of this chaos, this survival mode that won’t go away, a sweet friend sent me three lines today that made me feel so loved and included.

Three lines, a heartful of Psalms, and a song born out of deep personal pain — that’s not an accident, dear friends! That’s a direct line from my Heavenly Father saying, dear daughter of Mine — you are NOT alone.

Fabulous answers and quick solutions? Don’t really have any for you.

But go — love on your hurting friends. Send those three lines.

Mingle your tears with an elderly friend who is also walking a lonesome valley road.

Worried about money? Me, too. But people are more important than money. Every. Single. Day.

Soak in the Psalms — a genuine spa treatment for every raw emotion and question you face. When you wonder how to stay sane, that’s what the Psalms are for. Cry them. Sing them. Pray them back to God.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion FOREVER.”  PSALM 73:6

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Dear social media user — you don’t need the details to pray…

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I’ve hinted at this before. You don’t need all the details to pray for a Christian friend.

I’ve swallowed the words. I’ve “beat around the bush”. But today was the first time I’ve come right out and said it kindly, but boldly to a fellow Christian. “You don’t need the details to pray.”

We were discussing the pros and cons of social media. Then it was suggested that I keep up a Facebook page for my husband’s health issues. I laughed a little laugh, and said, “Well, it would read about the same most weeks. Doing lousy! You don’t need the details to pray.”

I think the reason the conversation spun in this direction was because of those who do feel free to post all their ups and downs, highs and lows, and needs great and small on social media.

I’m in some of those groups. Praying for a little girl stricken with brain cancer right now. But, I don’t get online and ask nosy questions! I don’t PM them for more details, either. Why? It’s. NOT. My. Business.

This may work well for some folks. If that’s you, please don’t feel judged! My dear one has done some of this vulnerable sharing in the past. Rarely ever, now. Why? It’s very hard to build true friendships on social media alone. Oversharing has resulted in some serious fallout.

And how do you judge when someone is not truly committed to your best interest, loyal in Christian love ? Trust is built over time.

A true friend will walk with you faithfully through the hard times as well as the good.  Sharing details with untried friends is like baring your chest and walking through a thicket of blackberries. You’re bound to get shredded by the thorns of everyone’s educated opinion. Or get betrayed by the sharing of information they accidentally let loose.

Church prayer chains can be as challenging as social media.

I’m sorry to say I’ve been the unwilling recipient of some church prayer chain conversations. Not my church family, but truly lovely ladies in many ways. Still, the details they felt entitled to discuss about a third party! Really?

Is that necessary to your prayers? Don’t you realize that what you are sharing about another is actually gossip?

Do you need to dig for the details of where, what kind of cancer, what treatments someone is undergoing, etc…? Why do you NEED to know this information to pray?

Some ladies, I fear, have mastered the art of the compassionate voice so that they can extract information and details that they eagerly share with their inner circle. Men aren’t exempt from the “dig for information”. After all, journalists — male or female — are just another version of Sherlock Holmes.

My own sis-in-love mentioned the challenge of how to answer people’s many questions about her stage 4 breast cancer. What an added stress! I often didn’t know her latest test results, even though I was on her care team and cared deeply. I didn’t pry into her private and painful details. She was also concerned about who would see her house suffering from survival mode.

What your suffering friend most needs is words of caring and prayers. Acts of kindness, helping them share the load while they are in survival mode, will never be forgotten.

“Keep me from the strife of tongues” is a phrase used in Psalm 31:20. While it is written in the context of King David’s enemies, we also see a legitimate prayer model for protection from this specific form of damage.

 

All throughout the Scriptures, we find prayers and warnings regarding our words. It’s too big of a study to attempt here. Read the book of James and the book of Proverbs for starters.

We’ve all been guilty of sharing details we shouldn’t have at some point in our lives. It’s something we should feel godly sorrow and repentance for — with prayer and determination to please God in this area.

Why? Why would details be damaging? How often is it that we relate a story only to find ourselves being corrected on some detail or another? We’re so human! This is how gossip and misinformation start. You miss one or more crucial details from your friend’s story. It happens to the best of us!

I cannot tell you the times when folks have asked me to give them details about the health issues we face. Then, I accidentally left some important detail out! Weeks roll around before I have time for a personal conversation with that person again.

Or consider the spin or “flavor” that gets added to the details? Our personal opinion about the situation?

In truth, we may be close to or actually spreading lies about our neighbors if we dig for more information than we need.  Only the wisest among us handle sensitive information with the kindest and most discreet of hearts.

Even when we’re dying to know more… JUST STOP!

“Child, said the Lion, I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”

C. S. Lewis                           The Horse and His Boy

 

Pray for each other! Love not just in word, but in deed and in truth.

Let’s take a cue for the books of I and II Peter, written for a suffering, scattered church family. It takes intention and planning. See the word effort?

“Make every effort to add virtue to your faith;

and to your virtue, knowledge;

and to your knowledge, self-control;

and to your self-control, patient endurance;

and to patient endurance, godliness;

and to your godliness, brotherly kindness;

and to your brotherly kindness, love.

For if these things reside in you and abound,

they ensure that you will neither be useless nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” II Peter 1:5-8

 

The end of all things is near. Therefore be sober and solemn so you can pray.

Above all things, have unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

I Peter 4:7-8  

I’m blessed to see brotherly kindness and unfailing love as the pinnacles of our Christian faith and walk.

We’ve been truly blessed, also, to experience the brotherly kindness and love poured upon us by church family — a small glimpse of God’s eternal mercies.  LOVE brings LIGHT and HOPE to dark trials.

Keep unfailing love as that highest goal, dear care-giving wife. God knows all the details of your sorrows and needs. He will be your refuge and help.

 

 

Psalm 73 — for when you covet an easier life…

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One of these days, in eternity future, I’m looking forward to meeting Asaph. Why Asaph, you ask?

And, who in the world was Asaph? Legitimate questions. If we were having this conversation in person, I’d start by answering the second question first.

Well, you know Psalm 73, right? Have you read it?

If you’re having one of those days where you fume at the injustices in the world around you, read Psalm 73.

Asaph is credited with writing this Psalm as well as a few others. Seems like he had a bone to pick with injustice. He was a Levite. You could call him one of the chief temple Music Directors.

Clearly he used his position to express his beef with the world as well as shining truths about God.

Have you had days like this? You’re infuriated at the politicians. Shedding tears over babies being ripped apart in their mother’s wombs. Every. Single. Day.

Some of you, like me, would desperately love to give those babies loving arms and a home, however imperfect. Due to chronic illness, we know the painful reality of secondary infertility.

I have a daughter — I’m very, very grateful. But that same daughter has asked me for a sibling almost since she could talk. She feels the pain of secondary infertility, too.

The cost of adoption and the presence of chronic illness, well…  Then compare the cost of abortion to the cost of adoption — talk about severe injustice!

sad woman statue

Or even closer to home for caregivers —  do you get spitting mad because navigating the medical system to get the help you or your chronically-ill loved one needs is SO crazy hard?

Even worse, you find out you have no coverage for medically-necessary procedures. It’s going to cost you big bucks out of pocket.

Chronic illness is like a financial black hole.

Cancer and chronic illness — two of the biggest legal money-making rackets currently in operation, I’m convinced. Long gone are the days when doctors accepted payments in chickens or eggs (Yes, those were acceptable forms of payment just a hundred years ago.)

Alternative or integrative medicine isn’t immune to industry greed.

Certainly, no one’s winning any affordability prizes in these categories, either. I have family and friends who have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into trying to get healthy, trying to find which method will work for them.

When we’re actually living in these desperate straits, Asaph’s lament makes total sense to us.

“Truly God is good to Israel, to the pure in heart. But as for me, my feet almost stumbled; my steps had almost slipped.

+For I was envious at the boastful; I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pains in their death; their bodies are fat.

They are not in trouble as other people, nor are they plagued like others…

they have more than a heart could wish.”

Psalm 73: 1-7

I recently saw a brief tid-bit of a Dr. Phil show.

The mother-daughter duo was there for “help”. The flawlessly made-up daughter was a hot mess of entitlement, mad at her mom because she was getting her spending money cut down to 1k a month.

Upset because her mom had chosen a Mercedes  (she wanted a more expensive car) to give her, you could hear the entire audience gasping at this teen’s audacious words.

First world problems, right?

That’s where the reality of heart-envy sets in.

It’s tempting to say, Girl, look here, I’ll be happy to take that 1k spending money off of your hands. It would pay some extra bills this month.

But that misses the point of this Divine reminder altogether.

“Truly, God IS good to Israel.”

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We can’t base our understanding of God’s goodness on the evil we see in the world around us — injustice, violence, and greed.He clearly states that He is good and does good. Sometimes our eyes and hearts are so focused on the evil that we fail to see His goodness.

When we’re experiencing pain, financial loss, or the slow, painful demise of a loved one, we just want relief. We want answers.

Asaph expressed this struggle: “Thus my heart was embittered, and I was pierced in my feelings. I was a brute and did not understand.”

The beauty is that God does not leave us alone. He is good to Israel (those who are true Israel by faith in Christ alone.)

He keeps His covenant promises.

He is the SAME, yesterday, today, and forever.

All the Scripture Asaph knew to help him understand and know God were the Books of the Law. Imagine that when you read the beautiful words that Asaph pens next!

“Nevertheless, I am continually with You;

You have held me by my right hand.

You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is NOTHING on earth I desire besides You.

My flesh and my heart fails, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Ps. 73:23-26)

 

See Asaph return to trust, rest, and peace, dear caregiver? Dear sufferer of chronic illness? Dear friend or family of someone in dire physical need? You and I are wealthy beyond compare, if we are known and loved by the covenant-keeping God. 

Read the final book of the Bible — the one Asaph had NEVER laid eyes one. His next words tell us about a God who will hand out justice.

He sounds hauntingly like the book of Revelation, written hundreds of years later.

“But those who are far from You will perish; You destroy everyone who is unfaithful to You.” Ps. 73:27

Once again, Asaph quiets his soul and deals a blow to his own discontent. How? What’s the takeaway for me?

“But it is good for me to DRAW NEAR to God;

I have taken refuge in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works.” Ps. 73:28

I’m so very, very thankful to say — through care-giving for two family members with cancer, chronic illness, multiple surgeries, and recently, stroke — I’ve found this refuge in God. Every. Single. Time.

Has it hurt like crazy still? Like someone keeps shredding my very heart, yes.

When I bow my bleeding heart and seek His face, His WORD speaks to me.

In the pain, loneliness, and suffering that only He can see and understand, His Words light my path with a light so tangible I can almost see it. Real hope. Real peace, in spite of multiple anxieties. Real comfort. That’s why I wanted to share this with you today.

Real struggles, real answers — from my brother Asaph who’s enjoying his final refuge at this very moment.

 

 

 

 

Psalms for the desert of suffering

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“O, God, You are my God: early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh faints for You, in a dry and thirsty land with no water.” Psalm 63:1

This is a bit of a personal update with hopefully a dose of encouragement and inspiration — not quite my usual post.

My girl and I have had a whirlwind few weeks. For one thing, we saw and photographed that saguaro cactus pictured above in Arizona after my loved one’s wedding. We’ve been “there and back again”.

And I am very happy to report that stroke symptoms (January) for my Dear One have reduced in a big way this month. I am careful to ask for continued prayer, though.

The surgery in February was fairly successful — big gratitude for that!

Our car seems to be running fairly smoothly after the deer-related car accident repairs in March, too. Shewie! And I almost forgot to mention the surprise engagement and wedding of a dear loved one which took us by storm this month!

Have any of you, my dear readers, dealt with post-stroke, post-op emotional PTSD?

I feel like that sort of PTSD hit us HARD for a while. I’ve been afraid to post for fear of “unloading” on you. My goal is to be an encouragement — to connect with other caregivers and even chronically ill in our struggles to keep our faces turned toward the Light of Life.

However, on the rebound of all of the extra health drama (above and beyond our normal dealings of four autoimmune diseases warring inside one frail body), we’ve ridden this huge emotional roller coaster.

My Dear One couldn’t fly out to the wedding due to severe edema and risk of another stroke. The pain levels, despite professional pain management, rage out of control at times.

How do you handle your suffering loved one who repeatedly lets you know they would just like to go Home? No, they’re not suicidal (they assure you), but could God just please take me Home NOW? I’m so, so done with the suffering and the pain.

As the primary listening ear, all I could find to say is —

You are so loved. You are cared for. There is a reason you are still here. I’m so very sorry for your pain. God knows and understands where I cannot.

Then I took my ugly tears  and cried out for help to the only One I knew would truly understand. I couldn’t even fully explain the depths of this agony to anyone. How do you describe this kind of pain?

Overloaded. Emotionally ripped apart. What’s a woman to do? It was way MORE than I could bear alone. I begged Him for help on my knees, or even just driving along. So many prayers. So many pleas for help between the unending moments of waiting.

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“My soul waits in silence on God alone; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my refuge; I will not be greatly shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2

The desert was a good place for me to visit — terrain I could relate to. There was a vast quiet. I needed that.

I could almost hear these verse from the Psalms spoken to me. A dry, weary land. The sign warned of no potable water in the Sonoran Reserve.  Me? I’m like that scrubby mesquite tree taking shelter by the rock.

However, better days, however brief, have come. The pain has eased a bit. Just enough to be bearable. (If you want to know what’s changed and actually helped, comment below with your email — I’ll chat privately via email.)

Some lovely surprises have come our way through church family and friends that have cheered my Dear One. A book or two is underway, penned by the sufferers. Mine is half-written and in much need of a good scrubbing and sprucing up before I send it out into a critical world.

If you’re in a desert place of suffering and pain, please, please don’t forget that you are never alone!

If I didn’t know the suffering Savior, how terrible this journey would be. “Despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. And we hid as it were our faces from him…”

Outcast. Condemned. Alone.

Jesus Christ suffered, the Just for the unjust.  He promises to never, ever leave or forsake His own. He is with us in the desert.What a Lover and Friend!

Those promises are carrying me. Every. Single. Day.

Psalms of Deliverance for caregivers

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Deliverance from pride and selfishness

“Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep Your Word.” (Ps. 119:67) Living in the land of affliction and sorrow washes this world’s crud and dust out of your eyeballs. You begin to realize how vain and empty many of your pursuits are. It’s so easy to lose focus on God’s Word and what He desires for your life.

The world of the needy and broken, once perhaps invisible to you, tugs at your heart.  Christ’s commands are clear — don’t be oblivious to the prisoners, the ill-treated, the poor, the fatherless, and the widows!  This is the short version of the list.

Remember those who are in chains, as if imprisoned with them, and those who are ill treated, since you are also in the body. Hebrews 13:3
For the Music Director. A Psalm of David. Blessed are those who consider the poor; the Lord will deliver them in the day of trouble. Psalm 41:1
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27

 Through our tears, we see the needs we never noticed before. The beauty of Christ and His love for the straying, the needy, and the broken — for those of His Bride living outside the covenant church community — shines in His Word.

Deliverance from depression and despair

The Psalms are chock-full of David’s many pleas for help in life’s struggles. Just start reading Psalms 3-7 for starters. The list is SO long. If I counted, the cries for help may account for more than 50% of the Psalms.

Life was so hard to face, that David even calls the LORD the “Lifter up of my head”.

Do you know what it’s like to not want to lift your head off of your pillow? I mean, you really, really don’t even want to get out of bed and face another day.

If you’ve never experienced this feeling, be grateful! Grief upon grief blindsided me with these feelings. Until then, I never understood what David meant describing the LORD as the “Lifter of my head.”

Perhaps your chronically ill spouse can describe these feelings in detail. Mine has. It’s a dark, deep pit that feels bottomless. No earthly hope of normal. No true recovery or semblance of wellness in sight. Prolonged pain, agony, and sorrow feel inescapable.

Yet, this week I’m delighting in my patches of daffodils and anticipation of a newborn niece.  I revel in the wonder of Heaven and Home, and those waiting for me just beyond this life. Feelings of joy gurgling out like a frozen stream melting in the spring sunshine — LORD, you amaze me!

I’m living proof that you can find JOY in God even in grief and sorrow (give yourself time, dear one.) Better yet, Jesus is LIVING proof that all the powers of death and hell cannot suppress our living Savior and His plan from eternity.

So many of the Psalms start in despair and end in praise! I highly encourage you to envelop yourself in this portion of God’s Word when your life is absolutely horrifically awful. That’s how David described his life at times, just sayin’.

The Fall and the Curse — we still smart and groan waiting for the final chapter and “Thy will to be done on earth as it is in heaven”.

 

Deliverance from the “strife of tongues”

My “survivor” friend who has lived through two beastly awful lung transplants said it best. Expect people to say stupid things when you’re hurting. It’s true.

We’re all born with the “tongue of fools” (see the Proverbs for a full description), and need the prayer, “teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” Social media proves this point. Every. Single. Minute.

Another friend, a young mother of four, is dealing with her young husband’s stage four cancer diagnosis.  As she put it, “the fixers” come out of the woodwork.

Let me clarify. Yes, yes, and YES! Please bend over backwards to help your friends suffering through illnesses and loss. Help with their needs in a hands-on way. Encourage them from the WORD, too.

But be gentle. Be humble. Be kind.

You cannot fathom every detail of their situation and know the best possible solution to their problems. It’s not even your job to “fix” their problems. Your health solution might work. Please don’t be offended if your friend decides to take another route.

Deliverance from evil (the evil within and the Evil One)

“You who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the lives of His devoted ones; He delivers them from the hand of the wicked.”

Evil within rears its ugly head in so many ways. Frustration and resentment of your suffering, anyone? WHY is a legitimate question, but not one that we are always going to get an answer for. Again, the Psalms show deliverance from despair to grateful praise, from fear to trust, from doubt to hope, and from sorrow to joy.

Jesus also prayed for His disciples and future generations of believers in John 17:

15″ I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.

Deliverance from trouble

Trouble and illness are evil twins. They walk hand-in-hand. Sometimes you cannot even describe the troubles accurately to anyone. I’m so thankful for the intercession of the Holy Spirit who prays with us and for us before the Throne of Grace.

So many unintelligible prayers I’ve sent up saying, God, YOU alone know the depths of this trouble and have the keys to deliverance in Your hands. I can’t even figure out exactly what to ask for, except for this: please help!

“You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah”
“In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.”

Deliverance from false friends

“Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me. “
While this is certainly a prophecy looking forward to Jesus and His crucifixion, it was also the experience of David.  His son Absalom tried to steal his kingdom right under his nose, and a portion of David’s friends defected to Absalom.  What a bitterly painful time in King David’s life!
Long-term chronic illness has a way of separating the “sheep from the goats”. An elderly music student of mine once told me, Honey, you only really get a few true friends in your life, and trouble will sort them out for you.

What is truly beautiful is when the family of God stands by you in suffering! David had faithful followers who fled with him and supported him in the wilderness, too.

Then you see the love of Jesus in the hands and feet of His church.  Some of our recent deliverance has come through the community of believers who have stepped up to help us in significant ways during our cancer battle and the stroke(s) that have followed.

Deliverance into our Eternal Home – “I Can Only Imagine”

Back to that conversation about “normal”. Chronic illness completely robs a life of many forms of normalcy.

So does being born with special needs. So does a serious car accident or other traumatic injury. Broken families, broken lives… will the sorrow never end?

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How about this lovely word picture of the Good Shepherd finally leading His sheep to their Eternal Home?

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the House of the LORD forever.”

Many days this hope, this deliverance -going Home- is what holds our hearts together.

WONDER and a “real” struggle for families of the chronically ill

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The struggle is REAL, married or single, sick or healthy, rich or poor.

We all struggle with loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Loving our neighbor as ourselves is a natural victim of war when we lose the fight in some area of loving God first.

As John Calvin, famed reformer put it, “Our hearts are full time manufacturers of idols.” We struggle with worshiping ourselves, our space, and our desires. I think chronic illness in the house has so many ways of bringing this struggle to light.

EVERYTHING in the household revolves around the needs of the one who is suffering. The meal schedule, the meal plan, the budget, the family schedule — this list goes on. Even the chronically ill person tends to expect and sometimes plain demand this type of attention, especially if they’re the husband.

Not to trample the chronically ill or special needs community. I’m an advocate. All. The. Time. However, in the recent movie Wonder, the special needs hero Augie falls prey to this trap, as does his mother especially. Everything revolves around making sure Augie gets what he needs to survive his first year of public middle school.  More than that, though, his family is already used to centering their lives around his medical and emotional needs. The oldest child’s needs are easily ignored while she struggles with the loss of her best friend.

In the end, Augie learns an important lesson. He learns to appreciate his truest and best friends and to be concerned about their needs, too. It’s a one-in-a million, good-for-the-soul movie that I could easily watch again. Hope I’ve wetted your appetite!

One thing’s for sure, God did not design anyone to find full joy and satisfaction outside of Himself.

That’s a lesson I keep coming back to over and over again. At this point in my life, I’m “almost” a single mom and definitely a full-time caregiver. There’s nothing normal about my marriage. Some of you can relate to this very well. Others, well, I understand that you can’t. That’s okay.

After the latest of multiple diagnoses were slammed in our faces, I threw up my hands and said, Okay, God. Your kingdom come, your will be done in my life in this situation. Any hope of normal is gone. Just please work for Your glory and our good as You promised to those who hope in You.

However, I’ve seen a ton of “normal” Christian marriages that I don’t envy in the least. Some of them break my heart. Again, the struggle is real.

Marriage is God’s good plan and design, but it’s easy to make an idol out of it. Like any human relationship, marriage is also easily ruined by sin and selfishness. I loved an article I read about singleness and marriage on the blog Lies Young Women Believe. There’s food for thought for married women, too. Good stuff!

Read this blog post and especially the comment section!

When life is topsy-turvy, our covenant-keeping God says, Return to me. Be still and know that I AM God.

His beauty, His love, His faithfulness, His truth, His compassions, His mercies are what keeps me going. There isn’t a friend on earth who can fathom all of our personal struggles. Not gonna happen, though we should try to BE that friend who is like our God. Full of compassion. A listening ear. A tender heart. A giving spirit. A truth-speaker. An encourager.

A prayer for Loving God

In a nutshell, my Ideal Lover is described in the words above. I want to be bound to Him by cords of love forever.

What about you? If you’re running low on love, there’s a Psalm for that. If you’ve forgotten Whom you should love best — well, there’s a Psalm for you. Whatever your real struggle, I promise you, there’s a Psalm for that, too.

Out of (my) darkness, light

For you will cause my lamp to shine;

Light, beautiful light! Light and hope walk hand in hand.

My girlie and I shared a surge of joy to see the first promising signs of spring in our yard. The daffodils have poked up their pointy, green heads to welcome the light. Hello, beauties! You’ve survived the winter, and just look at you, sweet things. Can’t wait to see you bloom in a month or so!

daffodils

Having someone to share this with is a GIFT. It’s a joy. Life is a gift. I’ve hugged my girl more than a few times this week with tears in my eyes.

There’s no getting around the darkness of this week. Dark news for families in Florida. Sadness unspeakable. I weep with you and for you.

This morning’s sermon from Mark 12 pointed to the age-old struggle between light and darkness. Depravity seeking to trip up Deity. Dark minds devising schemes — this Man cannot be who He claims to be!

Eternal Wisdom spoke rays of light and broke through the darkness. Every. Single. Time.

That Light still travels through the written Word reminding me of Him. The Perfect One. Jesus came to show us the Father, “I and my Father are one.”

My darkness once again was enlightened. The Greatest Commands clearly spoken through the Word — a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

“Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is this, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other command greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

Dear Caregiver, I’m breathing a prayer right now. May this be light to your darkness should you be wondering, What on earth am I doing with my life?

You are loving your neighbor. You are laying down your life for your friend. You are a promise keeper. You are following in the footsteps of your LORD and MASTER.

Your care-giving path might be very challenging and dark — physically, financially, and emotionally.  But if you are His and seeking to listen to His voice, His word will enlighten your darkness.

When I began looking for books on long-term care-giving, I was appalled at the options many gave. Find joy on the side. A mistress. Or an affair is okay as long as you aren’t hurting another marriage and family. For some, a nose-dive into pornography is the drug of choice.

Let’s be very honest. Cancer and other long-term illnesses are cruel thieves. Thieves steal lovely things in the dark, secret places. Jesus shines the light of Love into those dark places and says, Never stop loving your neighbor, just like you want to be loved. This life is SUCH a short period of darkness compared to FOREVER.

Just love already and never let go.”This is my command, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

A beautiful new day waits, just as He rose from the dead the third day. That Resurrection Day brought tears of joy and hope to me today. I couldn’t stop them. It’s very, very hard to have a front-row seat to suffering you can’t fix. Knowing a new day is coming is a Light that penetrates the dark.

My loved one had a stroke this January during the dark of winter days. Then a surgery this week. That’s why the silence on my blog.  Loving my neighbor hasn’t been all daffodils and sunshine, I can tell ya.

But take it from one who keeps turning her face to the Son  — that Light truly does shine hope in my darkness. I want to offer that Light to you, also.

Wait for the LIGHT with me. Seek His face in His written Word. He will sit beside you in the dark. He will hold your hand with everlasting love. Often He will send His people who listen to His voice to sit with you in the darkness and lovingly care for you, too. I’ve been blessed that way.

LIGHT! HOPE! RESURRECTION!  Really, what is there to lose in the end?