Original sin — why we suffer

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God my Creator brings me comfort through His creation!

Took my coveted walk through the fall woods this week. So much beauty on a trail created a few hundred years ago! Osage orange trees line the walk to the Wye River. Early settlers used this trail to buy and sell goods ferried to and from Baltimore and Annapolis. Now it is a barely used, oft forgotten by-way only enjoyed by nature lovers.

The short trail was long and painful for my loved one.

These days are full of pain and sorrow for both of us — a year out from the cancer diagnosis. Nothing will ever be the same for us in this life. Cancer surgery was brutal.  We will likely not grow old together.

 Yet creation and the Creator cheer us on. Mad chaos did not reign for millions of years. We’re not creatures of time and chance. And God didn’t create this pain, suffering, and death.

The doctrine of creation, original sin, and the fall of man gives us hope. WHY?

Just as surely as God proclaimed judgments of pain, suffering, and death on those who ruined His beautiful, perfect creation —  so surely He promised redemption and mercy!

As caregivers for the chronically ill, we see pain and suffering almost every single day.

If you live with it, you feel its reality like the twisting of a knife!  Knowing suffering is a temporary curse for those who love God heals those wounds.

If you believe and have this  amazing faith that you are part of some cosmic accident, then there is no hope in your future.

Nothing really matters.

Suffering is all the more brutal when you believe that you should just eat, drink, and be merry — you’re gonna die anyways. The Grim Reaper gets us all. True!

That old serpent the Devil would have you believe that this is all there is to life. He fools millions into eternal Death.

He’s hungry for the souls of men. He’s fat with the slaughter and destruction and death all around us.

Just as God served up justice on the ruination of His beauty and good work in the Garden, so He is faithfully redeeming His fallen creatures who call upon Him.

“Truly, truly I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has eternal life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death into life. Truly the hour IS COMING and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live…

Do not marvel at this.

For the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come out — those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” John 5:24-29  

The cycles of the seasons remind me that death and rebirth — new life in Christ, is the grand drama of His triumph over Satan and original sin. “It is not death to die, to leave this weary world…”

Our sin is no match for His abundant pardon and grace!

Praying His grace will triumph in your life and mine this week on our journey Home.

 

Joy unspeakable at the journey’s end…

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Your suffering isn’t all about you…

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Dear sister, I’m about to bleed with you all over this page,

so hang on and hear me out.

Books upon books have been devoted to the “whys” of suffering.

Why another blog post on this topic?

 Well, I’ve had a tiny little ray of understanding, a bit of sunshine in the darkness.

I’ve felt like I have been shut up in a dark closet lately.

 I’ve wondered if death was just around the corner for my loved one. Is it time?

You haven’t seen me post for a few weeks.

I’ve given until I have nothing more to offer.

 No more spoons to pick up (if you understand the “spoonie” lingo among the chronically ill).

Nothing to give you. Just hanging on to Jesus.

Endless sleepless nights I remind myself, I’m God’s girl.

I’m His beloved in Christ Jesus.

He’s promised me His love never changes for me. I’m banking on that.

How is it that David and then Jesus Himself

could come to a place of such suffering in their lives

 that all they could do is cry out brokenly and wretchedly,

 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from hearing my cries?”

 

Have you ever walked through such flaming, scorching times?

I only glimpsed the edges of this suffering during four years

of watching my sis-in-love with stage 4 breast cancer.

 I wasn’t there every week.

What I did see frequently on her “care team” was enough

 to break my heart repeatedly.

I watched the downward spiral of my brother’s health and exhaustion

 and wondered how much more both the cancer patient and the caregiver could take!

It’s my turn in the flames.

I’m watching my loved one suffer excruciatingly both physically and mentally.

 After so many years of physical suffering, the mental battles are equally intense.

 I’m on the frontlines. I’m the primary caregiver and breadwinner.

 Can’t quit. Can’t stop. Can’t resign.

 

There are things you see with burning clarity

 when you are walking through the flames, if you are His beloved.

 If you look with the tear-filled eyes of trust, you see.

God is God. I am not. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.

Words from The Lord’s prayer — timeless and true as the eternal Savior

 that spoke them.

He is LORD. Do I really believe that? Then yes. Yes! He’s got a plan from eternity that is right on track. Satan’s going down.

 God will triumph! I’m just a speck of dust in that eternal plan.

Somehow, we do matter in this plan!

“Are you not of more value than many sparrows?”

“The very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
(Mine are falling out rapidly…easier to count!”)

“All things work together for good to those that love God.”

MY life may be the only “Jesus” that some of those around me see. 

How I walk with the broken matters.

I’m Christ’s ambassador to my family and friends.

Do you any doubt after the events of this last month that this is a cruel, hateful world

 that’s turned its back on God? So many terrible things in the news!

 The depths of evil are too dark for us without God’s love.

“Let your LIGHT so shine before men, that they may SEE your good deeds and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

UGLY truth.

 Divorce and abandonment rates among the chronically ill

 and those with cancer is extremely high.

I’ve seen and heard of it with my own two eyes numerous times now.

 Folks who abandon their family at their time of greatest need —

 what kind of love is that?

My daughter needs to see Jesus’s hands and feet lived out in my life.

 

Our mission as parents is to show the mighty acts of God to THIS generation. How?

True lovers of Jesus, 

true children of the Heavenly Father

 don’t abandon the broken,

 the “useless” of society. Jesus did not.

In fact, hurting people are highlighted in the Gospels.

The lepers, the blind, the lame, the sick all came to Jesus in droves.

He came to show us the Father.

He cast out a Legion of demons from a man so extremely broken that he lived alone

 with dead bodies, tormented and naked.

 

Do we think this is a distant fairy tale?

 

Sometimes I think I’ve been guilty of this distancing myself from

what Jesus actually did while here on earth!

This man living naked in the tombs clearly was not sane!

His insanity was due to demon possession.

 (NOT my take on mental illness — that’s a whole different post).

The point is — Jesus became ceremonially unclean 

to even reach out to this man living among dead bodies! 

He did what most good, religious folk of his day would not do —

 and reached out in healing power to this outcast man.

What about serious genetic defects? Why this suffering? 

Many chronic auto-immune diseases have their roots in genetic defects.

So much sorrow in the gene pool! Why?

Jesus spoke truth with power when his own disciples asked, 

“Who sinned, Jesus? This blind man or his parents that he was born this way?”

Broken words like poisonous arrows from a prideful heart,

 similar to words spoken even today to families who are experiencing health issues.

 

Suffering bodies, suffering minds, suffering hearts — Jesus answers the accusers.

He answers the Accuser of our souls, too.

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned.

 But it happened

 so that the works of God might be displayed in him!” John 9:3

What  floods of relief must have washed over this blind man overhearing this!

 How many years had he begged blindly by the side of the road and wondered, WHY?

How many times has your chronically-ill family member, your disabled friend,

your mentally-ill loved one wondered, Why? What am I worth?

 Why am I still living?

Jesus was not saying that this man or his parents were not sinners —

that they had never sinned!

He was saying that this blind beggar could display the works of God in his life

through the power of Jesus!

For the blind beggar, that meant healing here and now.

He met Jesus the King over genetics!

I’m filled with gratitude 

that Jesus knows our sufferings perfectly. 

He’s in the flames with us.

He will help us do the will of the Father.

 

 

I’m grateful to know our sufferings, your loved one’s sufferings,

if committed to Christ,

have purpose and meaning.

His purposes are always good. Hang on! Hang in there with me!

Am I cursed by God because of chronic illness?

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I know my headline looks like click-bait. But have you ever felt “cursed” by more than your share of trouble in this life? Too many griefs and sorrows?

I was very saddened to hear of the death of Nabeel Qureshi this weekend due to malignant stomach cancer. He was a mighty warrior for the faith. He was young, too. Too young to die of cancer…

Within a few hours of his death my friend Penny also passed from cancer — lung cancer in her fifties.

In her case, cancer struck her husband six years earlier and claimed his life the year before my sis died of cancer. So much sorrow in one family, yet so much reason for hope! I’ll come back and explain this. Bear with me.

Sadly, the so-called “religion of peace” was adamantly posting on his FB wall that Nabeel was cursed because he converted to Christianity.

Was his suffering and death truly the result of God’s curse?

My friend Penny’s death? My sis-in-love?

What about the chronic, painful illnesses of those we love?

Let’s get downright honest:

What about Down’s babies?

What about Trisomy babies?

What about intersex babies?

How about anyone born with any sort of disability or chromosomal abnormality? The so-called “freaks of nature”?

I’m going to walk on some thin ice here.

Some of these conditions we never, ever talk about in our nice Christian circles. Certain conditions are more socially acceptable than others.

Adopting children with disabilities has gotten more good PR in the church lately. I’m very happy about this. After all, HOW PRO-LIFE are we if we ignore the least of these among us?

Almost all of those listed will encounter chronic illness.

Someone out there is giving care to all of these precious souls, I hope. Unless you’re conveniently executing them all like Iceland does? Sigh. Off topic. Yes, and no.

Cursed by God with disability or not? What do you think?

I’m getting ready to plunge through that thin ice now!

I want to be very clear. I’ve spent the last dozen years of my life deeply pondering personal suffering. I’m still not the expert!  Many others have been schooled much more deeply in suffering.

I’ve poured over the Bible and Christian books.

Recently I told one of my elders that I had considered myself a reasonably compassionate person before all of this pile of trouble happened to us. Now I feel like I’ve gotten the rude awakening from God. Girl, you’ve got a lot more to learn! BAM!

Charles Haddon Spurgeon once wrote that Christians ought to be known as the kindest, gentlest, and most gracious of people.

Now Spurgeon was also known to be bold and clear with the truth, no mistaking it. However, he was known for his deep love for people.

He also suffered great physical pain that kept him out of his pulpit for months at a time. Was he cursed?

Here’s where I plunge through the ice completely! My answer? Yes and NO!

If you read the Bible and believe it, then part of this is no surprise. We were all cursed by Adam’s fall. The curse brought sin, death, and suffering upon the whole human race.

Read the first several chapters of Genesis if you have never done so! It’s a must-read if you are struggling to understand the Christian faith!

Satan was the crafty mastermind of this terrible event. When my daughter wailed why, why, WHY does my aunt have to die, I pointed the finger where it belonged. Satan started it. Man fell for it.

Please, child of mine, remember that God is good, Satan is bad, and don’t get the two mixed up. Please, please, don’t fall for Satan’s lies.

In the perfect environment, man freely chose evil. Why? Now that’s the real question. The whole creation is still groaning, waiting to be released from this curse. Romans 8:20-23

It’s a terrible and present reality.

Dear caregiver, you feel its wretched grip when you see those you love suffer.

Wait, what about the “not cursed” part? This is my favorite part. This hope gets me out of bed every morning. First, a refresher on the bad news, but keep reading to the end, please. That is where the GOOD news is parked.

“For all who rely on the works of the law are under the curse. For it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the Book of the Law, to do them.”

The Apostle Paul will explain also in Romans that if you want to go to heaven based on your good deeds, you cannot sin even once! 

“Now it is evident that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, for ‘the just shall live by faith’.

But the law is not of faith, for, ‘the man who does them shall live by them’.

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us — as it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’ — Galatians 3:10-13

 The good news is this: Jesus, fully God and fully man, bore our sin curse in His body on the cross. That means for believers in Jesus our present sufferings are temporary.

He told His disciples, “I have told you these things (long, loving sermon from John 13-16) so that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”

Whatever else I do not “get” about suffering, I know this. My sin curse was laid on Jesus.

Pain and suffering are inescapable. None make it through this life unscathed.

Jesus didn’t sugar-coat this. He told His followers the truth.

He also assured them (and us) of His presence. In the floods, in the flames, in the valley of death’s shadow, He is there.

His rod protects is and His staff comforts and guides us.

In the end, I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. No curse can ever harm us there! I’ll never grieve again. No more goodbyes, no more suffering.  Never, ever, ever again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

When no one understands your troubles, dear caregiver, God does!

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Does explaining a complex health situation to friends and family ever feel exhausting, frustrating, and seemingly futile to you?

I’ve seen quite a few posts on social media where this is attempted. Sharing needs publicly sometimes is a wonderful thing. Outpourings of love and sympathy truly do uplift the one suffering. Social media can be used as an avenue to share Christian love and community.

What if even one fact gets twisted or blown out of proportion?

Many of us do not want to live our lives like we are on reality TV.

Truth. When we received the initial diagnosis (first of four autoimmune disease diagnoses) of rheumatoid arthritis, half of our friends and family couldn’t even get that straight. They forgot. Not only that, some shared misinformation with others, church family included.

What they remembered was the blanket of “fibromyalgia”. Some medical gurus report that this is a label doctors throw at chronic pain when they can’t find the underlying cause.  NOT truth. That should be another post for another day.

Some of the gossip that circled was that my husband was lazy. A wimp who couldn’t fight through the pain for his family and hold down a job. Any kind of job. Even working at McDonalds would be better than not working at all.

The truth was, they didn’t have all the facts needed to make this judgement, righteous though it seemed.

What they didn’t get was the gut issues that were also a huge issue. McDonalds or any job involving food smells and lengthy time on the feet was an impossible solution.

With so many details to explain that we just started saying, “It’s complicated”. It was and is too hard to explain. The health issues have not simplified. They have become increasingly complex.

Indeed, the human body is complicated and complex.

There is nothing simple, nothing “cut-and-dried” about it.

Truthfully, as the primary caregiver, I have struggled at times with my own levels of compassion and understanding for this complex individual that even I cannot fully understand!

I’m the only one, however, who has the both the tree and the forest view. Even the doctors have not seen and walked in my husband’s daily shoes.

I’m the closest family member who has seen the long-term unfolding of these health issues as well as the close-up daily impact of these problems. Of all people on the earth, I need to be the most compassionate and understanding.

When friends have complained to me about their selfish or foolish “normal” husbands,  I’ve wanted to say, “Don’t you get it? You are so blessed. You have someone who at least pays the bills and tries to take care of you, however imperfectly.”

However, I was wrong. Her tears matter to Jesus, too!

Caring about the problems any Christian sister faces with her marriage are just as real and important as the problems I face. The huge differences in our situations should not hold back our mutual love and concern.

Caring deeply for one another in Christ’s love is a two-way street.

It’s a life-giving road that God requires His true disciples to walk down. There is no escaping the repeated commands of Christ to love one another. Tender compassion for one another is a sign — a mark of a true believer. NO matter if we don’t and can’t completely understand another’s situation, we should always err on the side of grace.

You cannot give this type of compassion if you’ve never seen or received it.

I have a close family member who seems almost utterly incapable of giving or receiving gracious love. It’s caused a great deal of family trauma. Even though this person “preaches” the gospel, it’s hard to judge if they’ve ever fully grasped the good news for themselves.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us,

in that while we were yet sinners,

Christ died for us. ” Romans 5:8

Understanding that God loves us perfectly in Christ through no goodness or deserving of our own and accepting this holy sin sacrifice in our place is the first step toward loving others. We cannot truly love without His love.

Where do you turn when you feel utterly without human love and understanding?

When you feel alone and afraid — whom do you run to?

I’ve had this experience lately. If I try to explain our complex health situation, I leave out some important fact or detail. Misunderstanding follows. I try to detangle that. It may or may not work. I can see how the Salem Witch Trials were started.

I’ve met a few others with extremely complex health scenarios lately. None of their doctors can figure everything out, though it seems they are trying hard. Friends and loved ones are struggling to understand.

It’s gut-wrenching. It’s frightening. It feels so crazy and lonely! No one wants to walk this road. Yet, somehow, we are called to walk in community together. How?

Remember the LORD Your Maker! The One who made and fashioned you understands you completely.

“You know me completely.

My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret,

and intricately put together in the lowest parts of the earth.

Your eyes saw me unformed,

yet in Your book all my days were written,

before any of them came into being.” Psalm 139: 14-16

This includes your loved one whose body is totally out of whack! He or she is seen, known, and cared for by their Maker.

If we don’t believe this, how pro-life are we?

The fall of man and the curse of sin is the first explanation that we can reach for when we just cannot understand what is going on!

” We know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. Not only that, but we also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves while eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8:22-23

It makes sense. This world is not evolving to greater goodness and wholeness. In fact, the brokenness becomes more clear and evident each day we wake up and turn on the news.

Walk the halls of any hospital for days, like I did this past week, and you will see incredible human brokenness on every hand. We try to buff and polish it. We try to hide the pain and suffering, just like we do with death in our culture.

Death and suffering can only be hidden for so long. These enemies are reality. They are ugly.

I heard a top oncologist who has practiced for many years at the renowned John Hopkins Hospital speak at a cancer fundraiser a few short years ago. He blatantly said that our treatments for many types of cancer are still dismally ineffective. There is still so much even the best doctors do not understand about treating their patients.

This is also true of many, many chronic health conditions and genetic defects.

There is One whose understanding and compassion cannot fail.

His redemptive plan is right on track. His kingdom will come, His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

This I call to mind, and therefore I have hopeIt is of the LORD'S meriesthat we aer not consumed;His compassions do not fail.They are new every morning;great is Your faithfulness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting real about fear and faith…

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Last Lord’s Day I heard a sermon on faith.

Abraham was the primary example used, though there are many, many choice examples in Scripture.

“Do not fear, Abram, I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Genesis 15:1

At this point, Abram doesn’t just say, Yes, Lord. Instead he pops his hardest, most troubling question on God. What about that promised son, God?

Abram (soon to be renamed Abraham) had his doubts and fears.

He brought those fears to God directly instead of running away from God. He talked to God honestly about what was bothering him. His doubts did not mean he had no faith. Fear and faith often work hand in hand.

Faith boldly brings fear and doubt to God!

 

God IS our shield of protection through the fiery storms.

Right here and now we are facing major surgery. We can’t know all the possible outcomes. This surgery is only addressing one of many ongoing health issues. No guarantees! More trouble to come. It’s a fearful spot to live in.

So many friends I know are in similar tight spots. I listen to a lot of uncertainty, fear, and doubts.

” I am your Shield.”

Shields protect and defend. Shields often were emblazoned with the emblem of their cause.  Protection and identification in battle.

I recently heard that the Navy Seals are trained never to swim away, but to punch a shark on the snout should it come close for an attack. The only way to deal with fear is to face it head-on.

Now, did Abram go blazing his fears to everyone? I really don’t think so. This seems to be a very private conversation.

In fact, God got very angry with the 10 spies to Canaan. Why? They came home from Canaan and started spreading their fears to the entire nation. Sadly  the fear polluted everyone’s mind except for Joshua and Caleb!

The devastating result was an entire generation that would never see God’s promises fulfilled. They died in the wilderness wanderings that lasted forty years.

I don’t know about you, but to me that is way too long to camp! I think it is okay to put on a brave face, especially for the sake of your children.

One of the bravest acts I’ve ever personally seen was my sis saying goodbye forever in this life to her two precious children.

I wasn’t actually in the room but waited for the little ones to come out.

With smiles and balloons they said to me after this visit — Mommy might go to see Jesus!

Of course, they didn’t understand the gravity of the situation. But what I DID understand is that brave, loving Mommy didn’t frighten them with her intense emotions. It was a peaceful goodbye. It was a mother’s last act of sacrificial love for her children.

Faith doesn’t allow fear to win. You might be shaking in your boots, but faith in God’s promises propels you forward!

God told Abram to look up and count the starry hosts. Number the stars? Impossible quest even with today’s scientific advances! This impossible number was how many “sons of faith” Abraham would have.

“And Abraham believed God…”  Isaac, the son of laughter, was only one of myriads of sons of faith to come.

Number the stars? Go start listing God’s promises. Our tears will turn to laughter someday.

And it’s okay to shed some tears and fears with a discrete, careful friend. But make sure you run to God first. God is our Shield.

 

Joy unspeakable at the journey’s end…

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Peter was told by Christ that he was going to have walk on a path he didn’t want to go on when he got old. He received a rare gift — insight into his own future.

Church history tells us he was crucified upside down. He asked to be turned upside down, saying he didn’t deserve to be crucified in the same position as His LORD and Master.

How many caregivers are walking on a path we would never have chosen willingly?

About six months into my marriage a wise and lovely older lady at church looked at me and said, “This wasn’t what you signed up for, was it?”

Hospital stay, doctor’s visits, jobless, sick husband, and no diagnosis it was terribly frustrating position to be in.

My friend didn’t pretend to understand all about my situation, but her words of kindness and sympathy have traveled with me all these years.

Did I mention I was pregnant?

Being pregnant was both the fulfillment of a long-awaited desire and my worst nightmare at that point. I was so excited AND scared.

How was I going to provide for our child on single salary?  What on earth was wrong with my husband? Why couldn’t he just pull it together?

Our car was repossessed in the middle of the night — actually due to no fault of our own.  Our payments showed as debited from our bank account and the credit company didn’t receive them. The bank admitted the payments were set, but neither bank or credit company would take responsibility for payments “lost in cyber-limbo”. A lawyer told us we could never win a fight against two big companies with deep pockets.

In fact, now the credit company asked for about half of what was owed in order for us to get our car back.

Utterly impossible to cough up that money in our situation! We were paying out of pocket for specialists’ visits on a very small salary.  We lost our car.

Being repo’d in Maryland is akin to organized thievery. We had valuables inside that car that were never returned to us. We lost our car AND the belongings inside.

Amazingly our credit score was clean because the bank admitted it wasn’t our fault. It just wasn’t their fault, either, according to them.

My personal opinion is that the credit company and the repo company were in cahoots. Thieves. Enough said. Their day in front of a just Judge is coming.

Then our landlord decided to sell the cheap apartment house we were renting. The new owners decided to fix the foundation and jacked up the house too swiftly.

Yes, we were living there. My husband was sick in bed when the walls and floor began to heave.

One week before my daughter was born, I came home from work to crooked doorframes and cracks that ran along the joints of wall and ceiling. It looked like an earthquake had hit.

Miraculously, we qualified for a small home loan, due to no car payment and a decent credit score (and looser lending rules)!

God took care of us despite the cruel and unjust loss of our car. Thankfully we still owned an old beater car that was completely paid for.

A week after our daughter was born, we moved. God has kept this roof over our heads for almost 13 years.

There has been nothing easy about this journey, though. Not one single easy year! However, our Good Shepherd has never, ever left or forsaken us.

Peter speaks pointedly and lovingly, too, about fiery trials. He faced a hostile government, spent time in prison, and ended up giving his life for his faith in Christ.

You have had to suffer various trials, in order that the genuineness of your faith, which is more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tried by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

           Whom having not seen, you love; and in Whom, though you do not see Him now, you believe and you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving as the result of your faith the salvation of your souls.” I Peter 1:6-9

While we hold on to hope and reach for moments of joy, the only true joy is found in loving Jesus.

Ah, the other piece of sage advice from my lovely friend.  “Not what you signed up for? Just know your husband can never meet all your needs. You need to be satisfied with Jesus.”

She then told me how poor and broke they were in their first year of marriage. No baby crib, just a blanket folded into an open dresser drawer for their little one.

 I’ve forgotten the other details but it was clear –  her first year of marriage wasn’t what she signed up for.

One of these days we’re going to meet our perfect Bridegroom. Peter describes this as “joy unspeakable and full of glory”.

It just doesn’t get any better than this. The best is yet to come!

We already know how much He loves us — freely, fully, without any good reason to love us. He just does. He has told us that nothing can separate us from His love. He’s committed to us for the long haul.

I’ve had three ladies tell me personally in the past few years how their husbands just decided they were done with the marriage. Just done and up and left.  No more relationship.  The pain in their eyes ripped at my heart.

At points in caregiving, you may feel like your husband’s left you in another senses. One dear lady put it this way, “My husband after his injury just checks out. It’s like he’s stopped trying!” She felt so very alone.

Chronic illness is a physical and mental battle. So is caregiving.

I wouldn’t trade places to experience the pain and physical suffering.

But being a loving caregiver is also an excruciatingly fiery trial at times. Anyone who says differently hasn’t walked in our shoes for very long. Probably never.

You and I are left scrambling to keep all the ducks from tumbling over the Niagra Falls.  Forget keeping the ducks in a row!

The only one Who truly understands is Jesus. It’s a good thing He’s our High Priest and no one else. There isn’t another living soul I’d trust to intercede for me before God.

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize wiht our weaknesses, but One who was in every sense tempted like we are, yet without sin. Let us then come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we might obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

Christ is our sympathetic Bridegroom. He already has His ear and heart tuned to hear us. We have His full and undivided sympathetic attention when we enter into His Presence. How often does that happen in this age of cell phones and technology?

The road we wouldn’t have chosen is taking us to glory — where we will see our glorious Jesus face to face.

“I Can Only Imagine” was played at my sister’s funeral last year.

Can you imagine? Love like no other awaits at the end.

 

 

 

Lessons on dying from women of grit

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There’s something about the final week of July and the women in my life.

I’m not one to be superstitiuous. Not that at all. Bear with me.

This past week my 94 year old Grandma went Home after being bedridden for over 10 years

She was a sharecropper’s daughter who spent part of her childhood moving from farm to farm in a truck. I’m sure those early roots were part of what made her so tough, opinionated, and gritty.

She also clung to her faith in Jesus, though the last dozen years of her life were probably her hardest, darkest days. In her dementia, she was often unkind and tough to manage, but she never forgot about Jesus and heaven!

She shares her Homegoing week with my sis-in-love, one of the “grittiest” women I have ever known.

My lovely sis faced suffering, pain, and death with courage, faith, and love.

She was full of grit and grace.

I sat by a third death-bed this week in July nine years ago.   Such a different kind of grit in this little woman — my husband’s grandmother!

We visited her frequently (six hour round trip for us every few weeks) at the assisted living home where family had mutually agreed for her to live.

She needed 24/7 care and therapy, and none of us could give her that. She was angry and bitter for the last six months of her life. She dug in her heels and refused to be happy or even try to recover. In the end, her grit did her in.

Sitting by three different deathbeds makes me face my own mortality. How well will I face death?

Only God knows the day, time, and circumstances surrounding my Homegoing. One thing is certain, death is inescapable.

“All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.” I Peter 1:24-25

Coming to grips with life’s frailty is our first step toward “good grit”.

Psalm 144: 4 “Man is like a breath. His days are as a shadow that passes away.”

If we think we have forever, then we forget that every day matters!  Those we touch with our words and actions will carry those memories for good or ill. Forgiveness and acceptance take grit — the kind of grit needed to get over ourselves or to move on when life isn’t fair.

Don’t waste your one and only life being a “tough old bird”!

The best grit comes from humble, grateful dependance on God!

When I say “best grit” it reminds me of sandpaper. The roughest grit is only good for the rough projects. The “fine” grit helps bring the final polish to beautiful furniture!

We want the grit that brings beauty.

God’s unchangeable Word is the bedrock of our grit. “The Word of our God stands FOREVER…”

My Grandma talked frequently of Heaven. “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. In My Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would I have told you. I go to prepare a place for you…” (words of Christ). This good news bolstered her when facing another bedridden day felt like more than she could bear.

My sis never forgot in her pain and misery that God is good, and HIs love for her is unchanging.  She heard and believed the Good News that Christ died for sinners. So she gave thanks, even on her deathbed. Beautiful grit polished her lovely soul!

It’s up to us, my dear caregiving friends, to keep ourselves in the eternal Word that builds our faith — and gives us the grit to go on. 

I’m grateful for the lessons these women of grit taught me.

What kind of grit do you have?

Grit with grace! That’s what I pray for you as you care for your loved one.