Archive | January 2016

Week 4: My Tears in Your Bottle

“You number my wandering; put my tears in Your bottle; are they not in Your book? When I cry out to You, then my enemies will turn back; this I know because God is for me. ” Psalm 56:8-9

For you ladies who are in my shoes, I think you will understand when I say that I have lived at this Psalm address for the past year especially. The past twelve months have rocked our personal world. We were used to living in that uncanny rhythm you develop with chronic illness. Survive through the rough days and make the best of the good days is how we roll. I plan my house projects around times of year when my hubby perks up a little.

The pain of this past year has made it hard to breathe at times. Not one but three devastating diagnosis for my husband have been delivered at intervals with barely any time to adjust to the ramifications of the prior news. On top of crushing, inescapable reality, financial hardships and family stresses piled up like a mountain.

“This I know, because God is for me.” This pile of trouble upon trouble has proven to me over and over again that I am God’s beloved daughter cared for so personally by Him. “He shall send from heaven and save me…Psalm 57:3” When I have felt lonely, overwhelmed, forgotten, His love and provisions have come just when I needed them. Yes, even before I knew I what I would be needing, His help appeared!

Let me tell you about my fifteen minute mad dash through Wal-mart this past summer. I had just a few things I really needed and just a few minutes to get my errand done. Five minutes in, I recognized a lovely mother of three littles that I had not seen for a few months. We exchanged hurried greetings, but she expressed a great desire for company for the two hour round trip to the homeschool conference we were both attending in the coming week. My attendance was required so that I could tutor to offset my daughter’s tutorial fees for her classes. Voila! We exchanged phone numbers, and she planned to pick me up on Monday.

A few aisles later I ran into another friend. He told me that he and his wife would pray for us — my husband had a blood clot in his leg at the time. Also, he expressed a sincere wish to help in any way they could.

The very next day five minutes into our trip to church, we knew our only car was in need of the ER! I was being shuttled to the needed conference on Monday as my husband got the news that our car needed open heart surgery, basically. For eighteen days I barely had to worry about transportation because friend number one and friend number two had already offered their help. Despite having an exterior water leak that required my sister and I to dig down three feet so the pipe could be repaired, despite my husband’s incapacitation at the time, I knew I was loved and cared for. Alone? Forgotten? Not for a moment! An accidental meeting? No way!

Maybe that is why you found my blog. Our Heavenly Father knows we need companionship and comfort in our trials. My hope is to share His comfort with you. How is God comforting and caring for you? I would love to hear your story.

 

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Week 3: When You Pray…

“It is taken for granted that all disciples of Christ pray. ” M. Henry’s comments on Matthew 6. 

I love the line from a spiritual, “It’s me, it’s me, it’s me, O, Lord, standin’ in the need of prayer.” Yep! That is me — all the time!

I find myself returning to the simple formula of The Lord’s Prayer over and over again as it applies to my daily needs: worship, my sins, the sins of others, God’s provisions, and hope in His future plans both for me and for the world.

Christ tells us what is wrong with our prayer life if we pray pridefully or for public display in the first part of Matthew 6. Then he lovingly instructs us how to pray. He does not leave us in the dark.

Pray in secret. (Matthew 6:6)

“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”  I love that our Father is always present with His children in the secret place! What or where is your secret place? Mine sometimes is when I drive down a long stretch of country road, a quiet, empty house while I am cleaning, or the chair in the family room where I can quietly sit at certain times. You and I carry a double load, so we doubly need this secret place.

Pray with meaning and purpose. (Avoid vain repetitions — Matthew 6:7)

Sometimes the situations in my life or the lives of others seem so snarled and tangled that I don’t even begin to know how to best pray. “LORD, help! For vain is the help of man.” I am comforted as I pray, because Jesus told us, “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:8  God knows what I mean when my prayers are feeble and uncertain.

Pray with a forgiving spirit because you have been forgiven much. Matthew 6:14-15

If you live and breathe on this planet, you will be sinned against! Another Southern traditional song for you, “you can talk about me just as much as you please. I talk about you down on my knees…”  If only we would do all of our, “so and so hurt me terribly talk” on our knees, we would find mercy and pardon because we would know how much we have been forgiven. When we feel like we can’t forgive, and we get on our knees, we are reminded again how great the Father’s love is for us. Through Jesus’s  blood we can forgive and our prayers can be heard by our Father. These verses are keys to victory for wives of chronically ill husbands. Chronic illness can easily bring out the worst in our spouses as folk tend to become self-centered when they are hurting. Stress and overload shows us our sinfulness as we respond to our spouses with less than gentle patience. I know! I’m this road with you every day, sister!

“And your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly…” Matthew 6:4

Words of comfort and promise from the Almighty, Unchangeable One! How is it that God makes promises to us? Be encouraged! Keep praying, sister. You are not alone.

 

Week 2: Don’t Let My Mind Fall In the Sewer (a.k.a., …”lead us not into temptation”)

 

“Your mind is a sewer, and only Jesus can keep the lid on it.”

A crowd of restless, hormonal teens were listening so intently that you could almost hear the war raging inside of them. This was NOT the message that pop culture constantly flooded them with. As the older, wiser, twenty-something counselor,  even I held my breath and bowed my heart under the truth of my inner sinfulness. What I did not know was how many times this little phrase would convict me, and help me stay the course with the light of Scripture to guide me.

But when you got married, you didn’t sign up for celibacy, right?

I’m right there with you. Most likely, your spouse didn’t sign up for chronic illness either.  Cancer, illness, and injury all stem from the effects of death entering the world after the fall of man in the garden. And, no, I am not advocating a celibate marriage. All too often chronic illness robs marriage of many things, sex life included.

Christ was in ALL points tempted, yet He did not sin.

Think about it with reverence and awe. Quite clearly, Christ was single, and was tempted to sin in this area. Thirty-three years of vibrant manhood, and he did not cave in to temptation in body or mind. If you are His child you are a joint-heir with Jesus, and His divine power is able to keep you from falling.

Three powerful ways to keep from falling:

  1. Flee temptation! Like Joseph in Egypt, leave your very garment behind, because Satan still is in the business of ruining lives. Think of those whom you would devastate by your unfaithfulness. Keep the sewer lid closed by avoiding books, movies, and music that would fan the flames of unfulfilled desire. Get out of Dodge!
  2. Cry out to God in prayer! “God, help me in Jesus name.”  Think of Christ sweating blood in Gethsemane in agonizing prayer. Ask for cleansing. (I John 1:9) When a lurid thought crosses your mind, send it back to hell where it belongs. You are a beloved daughter of the King. You don’t need Satan’s junk food.
  3. “Love the Lord YOUR God with all your mind.” Find time in His Word daily. Jesus defeated Satan after 40 days in the wilderness by answering with God’s Word. Remember His Day to keep it holy. When we give one day in seven to the Lord, He meets us and strengthens us through the Word to face this sinful world. Delight in the beauty of God’s lovely world, art, beautiful music — whatever is good, true, and lovely.

Did I mention prayer already? Find a prayer partner. Ask for prayer. Pray for a prayer partner. With a sewer in our minds and a battle every time we face the world, we need some serious prayer coverage,  you and I. If you comment here, I really do pray for you. Pray for me. I’ll take all the prayers I can get.

Week 1: Fifty weeks of challenge and encouragement

Looking back at my sporadic blog posting this year I realize how much more intentional I need to be. The goal of this blog has always been to provide thoughtful, real, Biblical encouragement to the small niche of Christian women who are in my shoes. This past year I have had times of being a double-caregiver with both my husband and my lovely sister-in-law seriously struggling with ill health and a 70 mile distance to span.

My dear sisters in Christ, I truly do plan to do a better job offering a loving word of encouragement and challenge to persevere. I need your community, too. We are the lonely bruised reeds and smoking flax that Jesus does not quench or crush.

So here is my commitment, by God’s help and grace. I will post at least 50 posts this year to stand by your side on this difficult journey. You are on my calendar. Even if I only give you one verse from Scripture a week, well, God’s Word is powerful. Mine are weak.

“Therefore comfort one another and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” I Thessalonians 5:11

Please! My heart can use comfort also. I would love to hear what God has comforted your heart with this year.