Archive | October 2016

Do you “grieve ahead of time”?

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Psalm 16:11 “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

This has been one of my very favorite verses for years.

As I child my family moved at least a dozen times before finally settling in the state I still live in. I was shy. Insecure. A worrywart… These words brought comfort in the confusion.

I’ve been married for almost thirteen years now. For me the path of life has not included a bunch of rainbows and roses.

In fact, the joy has been so often been shadowed by grief over dreams of a path of life I wished for. Dreams have been demolished by reality.

The knife of pain twists in my inner gut as I watch someone I love suffer on a daily basis. It is the promise of joy, eternal joy and rest, that keeps me going here and now. Oh, and time in His presence, in His Word. That is a taste of the fullness of joy.

On today, His day, seeking His face, remembering His love and sacrifice, that joy springs out of hiding.

Every moment of suffering will be redeemed by Him somehow. Cancer, chronic pain that makes life unbearable — how are you going to redeem this agony, God? I have asked that question more this year than any other. But, redeem it, my God. Shine forth! Do not be silent, God.

His word promises this end in Romans 8:28. I always used to believe that promise was for here and now. But it isn’t always.

The working together for good of all things may not be finished until His kingdom comes and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. But! It. Will. Come. For now we grieve ahead of time, seeing the decay of life right before our eyes.

I wonder, honestly, how much more pain can one body take? I wondered at the agony of end stage cancer with my sis, so recently released from suffering.

When things smooth out, when the good days happen, we joy in those moments, true. So we should. God gives richly those things we enjoy. Those are just samples, tastes of the unending goodness of God and the riches in glory stored up for those who love Him.

What a balance beam to walk! How to stay upright? Grief and joy war inside my mind. I hear echoes of this when you post in the comments.

Now I know for sure that it is okay and right to grieve deeply for what is lost, what has been destroyed by the curse, but living in grief constantly is numbing, paralyzingly so.

I need to look farther down the path for joy.

Our Jesus points the way. His life here on earth was so perfectly focused on pleasing His Father each day. Truth spoken. Compassion shown. Needs met. He wept with those who wept. Celebrated weddings.

As a caregiving wife, each extra measure we have to give can be done grudgingly or specifically for Jesus. All that heavy load, well, He carries it with us. I struggle with that inner huff, too, when more is piled in my shoulders than I think I can carry.

And that grief? His shoulders are broad enough to handle it. Tell Him every single sorrow.

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

I pray His comfort for you and I this week. What would you like prayer for this week?

 

 

 

 

Being real today, caregiving wife

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Real. Genuine. Authentic.

The above as opposed to being fake and phony, well, I hope this post is still encouraging. If I pretended that living with a chronically ill spouse was all sunshine and roses, hmmm?

It’s a hard balance to strike. Scripture tells us to bear our own burdens. It also tells us to bear one another’s burdens.

We don’t know each other’s burdens unless we are truthful about them. That means a measure of honest sharing and openness.

But whom do you trust with your personal brokenness? Seriously!

 Not all listening ears are created equal. The verse my mom always quoted to her quarreling brood was Ephesians 4:32. Thank God for Mom instilling civility!

Only open your heart to those committed to this: “Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Trust me. I’ve taught kids professionally for more than a dozen years now. Kindness is a learned skill, not a natural quality. Bullying, anyone?

 Blogging has been hard for me in this sense. I’ve feared my audience, really. When I push the publish button, I often feel naked.

I just wanted you to never, ever be where I was. I want you to feel supported, loved, and prayed for. Deeply and kindly loved…

Why? I did not know a single other Christian woman with a chronically ill husband at that time. I felt so alone.

I could often not really connect with other women in my church — stay at home moms with healthy husbands. I still try. I love that there are women who love me like Jesus when I have such a different path in life. Each category of woman has their own struggles

Gradually I’ve learned I’m not really alone.

Still, there is not much of a network.  We’re such a chronically tired, hard-working bunch of women.

I’m glad you’ve found my blog. It’s a start, knowing you are not alone, right?

It is my hope and prayer that you’re being encouraged even as I share my struggles. Mostly I want you to see Jesus in the struggles. He is real. Truth. Life. Light. Living Water. Bread of life.

Remember Jehovah Jireh? We saw His major hand of provision for us this week through His people.

Knowing His love makes the struggle bearable.

So, what would you like to genuinely, authentically like to hear about?

What are your biggest struggles? What are your fears as wife of a chronically ill husband?  What would you like to read here?

Please share in the comment section below.

I promise you a kind, tender, listening heart. It’s been broken often enough to care. (Yep, that’s our therapy cat above. He’s doing a good job, too. Cute, isn’t he?)

What to do with illness and empty pockets?

www.christiancaregivingwife.wordpress.com

Living with chronic illness financially is like pouring your money into a sieve.

I just finished reading a beautiful, true story of a young couple who chose life for their conjoined twins. The surgery to separate them occurred this weekend.

How on earth did they fund such specialized care, I wondered. As I read further, I realized both parents had to quit their jobs to care for these special needs children and to plan for the needed surgery.

They’ve been living without tv or internet access. Their bills have been paid through fundraising and the generosity of the community around them.

Second-hand clothes and groceries have been donated to them on a regular basis. Without all this help, they would not be where they are today.

What a hugely humbling position to be in! Anyone want to walk in those shoes?

 But these folks chose not to murder their unborn children. They chose life.

None of us have directly chosen chronic illness. We have, however, chosen to remain faithful to our chronically ill spouse!

While it is more blessed to give than to receive, remember that receiving means you have enabled someone else to be blessed.

God gives grace to the humble as I Peter states. Grace is very simply defined as undeserved favor.

In the big picture, ALL of God’s children are the very needy recipients of grace. No one is more important or more deserving than the other.

The book of James has some harsh words for rich believers who ignore the needs of the poor. We are all expected to extend God’s grace to each other.

This week I had to humbly ask for help. It was hard. But I knew I would end up in bed for the weekend if I loaded our ton of wood pellets into our house by myself. My husband cannot lift.

When I put the word out, the response blew me away. I knew I was inconveniencing folks. I had to remind myself it was a blessing for them, too.

What can you give up to try to live within your means?

  • Cheap heating fuel, anyone? We have central heat. It costs us a fortune to run it. Thus the extra labor and effort of keeping a wood pellet stove running instead.

  • Unfortunately, I cannot run a business very well without Internet. But the young couple above were using public wifi to cut that bill. Maybe that is an option for you, or maybe not

  • Consignment stores, thrift shops, well –those do take extra time to pick through to find the right size and needed items. If I pop in consistently, I find much of what we need secondhand.

  • Do you really need data on your phone? I found a cell plan that works for us. Unlimited talk and text. No data. No affiliate link here!

How do you deal with the needs you cannot meet on your own?

  • Say “yes” to donations. It’s humbling being the “needy” friend. I tend to be silent about our needs. There is always a list, though. What is amazing is the opportunities I’ve had to bless others by passing along extra things I’ve been given. To do so, I had to accept the freebies, first.

  • Practice praying for what you do need! One of God’s names is Jehovah-Jireh, God will provide. God stretches my faith by keeping me on my knees. James 1, again! His supplies are vastly beyond my puny needs. I pray for a lot of little things on my list. Right now there are some big things, too.

  • Go ahead. Ask. We are supposed to bear each other’s burdens. Sometimes folks have no idea how to help. They aren’t in your shoes. It isn’t their fault. I watched personal items, paper goods, food items, and comfort measures flow into my brother and sister-in-law’s home during the four years she struggled with cancer. They had a few fundraisers for bigger needs. Every. Single. Bit. Helps.

 

Practice profound and genuine gratitude. Grace is a gift. It is not an entitlement. 

A couple of helpful websites for money ideas are:

http://www.daveramsey.com. We’re still in the “dream” stage of debt-free living.

See my past post.Four common frustrations you may face this week

http://moneysavingmom.com/  the most encouraging!  I use her tips regularly. Do you have any great money tips or encouragement? Please do share in the comment section below!

Secrets in the shadow of the Almighty

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I love a good mystery! The intrigues of history and human character, well, they intrigue me.

But I confess, I never expected my personal path through life to contain so many mysteries.

My husband bumped into more major complications this week in his mysterious health history. As each new drama unfolds, could life be any more complicated?

To make matters more heart-wrenching, an old “like” of a Facebook post from my lovely, now departed sis popped up on my feed. Since then, I’ve been following the heart-wrenching updates of a little girl struggling with her 8th bout with recurring cancer.

Eighth bout! Just stinking awful.

Part of me wants to turn off the feed as the cancer epic is just so painful for me to watch.

It’s much easier to pass on by the suffering instead of stopping and getting involved like the Good Samaritan. When you stop to help, to pray, to care, personal pain twists like a knife-blade in your gut.

Your eyes leak tears at the most inconvenient moments.

So how is it that, Blessed are those who mourn? Drum roll, please.

The second half of that Beautitude…for they shall be comforted.

Sweet, sweet comfort from God Himself — now who doesn’t want that! Ever watched a sobbing little one find comfort in his parent’s arms?

I would venture to say that getting comforted was one of my most meaningful childhood memories. Maybe not my sweetest, cause my heart was broken at the moment.

But now, in the fires of real life affliction, sometimes I envy the sweet little ones who simply have to run to the open arms of a waiting parent. There all their troubles dissolve.

I feel deeply for those children who have never known such tender comfort from a parent.

Tender comfort in the fires of affliction is the setting of Psalm 91:4.

“He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge.”

 Pestilence.

Traps.

Terror by night.

Flying weapons by day.

Death. Destruction. Plague.

During these truly terrible times, the Almighty offers Himself as a shadow, a place of refuge, and a fortress.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just want and need a place to hide. It’s storming hard right now. I need a shelter, a refuge.

Dear sister, what is most encouraging in this Psalm is the promised “end of the story” for those who set their love on the Almighty and make Him their refuge. Please, please read the whole sixteen verses! I will quote for you just one part of the promised ending.

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him. I will set him on high because He has known my name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.”

So the secret’s out. Running to Jesus for comfort is the path through trouble. I did not say the path that avoids trouble, for “many are the afflictions of the righteous”.  Hope these few thoughts remind you to seek and dwell in the secret place this week. Let me know how I can pray for you, too, okay?

 

 

 

 

 

Worship arising from the ashes

 

This is the day that the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:

But! But perhaps today is a day when the reality of sickness, sorrow, pain, and even death have come crashing down around you.

Maybe you married the man of your dreams, and both of your existences have been shattered by months and years of chronic pain.

You find out your loved one has cancer. Or there is no cure for the disease your loved one has.

Maybe the disease is even nameless because no doctor can put his finger on it. It still exists. Give it a name. The monster is disease!

Disease wreaks havoc on our lives. No one who has not lived with chronic illness can really fathom the depth of this havoc. I’ve given up trying to explain this to those who are healthy. Who can explain the unexplainable?

How? Just how do you and I worship our Maker, Creator, Redeeemer on His holy day when we are so broken? And why would we?

Truth! I woke up this morning wondering about worship. Sad of heart. Weary of the sorrows that have multiplied in my life and those around me. But knowing this: I will worship. I was created to worship. All who live and breath worship someone, something.

Maybe it’s money. (HA! Think — our current political scene). Maybe it’s nature. Or beauty. Or goodness. Or ideology. Education. Or any form of peace, even if it’s based on lies.

What is on the top of your pedestal?

 In this broken world ravaged by war, hate, cruelty, disease, poverty, and death, hardly a day goes by that I don’t breathe this prayer.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

“Those who are whole do not need a physician. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Jesus mentioned worship in spirit and truth to a woman who had experienced five broken marriages and was currently living outside of God’s plan for marriage.

He spoke to this woman at the well —  not righteous by a long shot. And why does he mention worship to her? Not only that, He offers her water, the water of true living.

“…the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”

Most amazing of all — this next scene. Listen closely! This woman, outcast of society, asks Him about the the promised Messiah. She gets the most clear-cut answer. No hidden message. Earlier Christ clearly exposed her sin, and she knew it. Now He reveals himself, to her and pulls no punches.

“I who speak to you am He.” John 4:26

If you are outside the Christian faith, please know that to be a Christian you have to believe the clear-cut claims of Christ.

Jesus Christ goes on record clearly stating both His Deity and His power to grant living water – eternal life. Either He is truly the Son of God, or He is a flagrant liar.

And to be a follower of Jesus, you need to worship the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together.

Why? Because, ” My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

When we worship in community, in spirit and in truth, He restores our souls. He leads us beside still waters.

His Word corrects our straying feet and keeps us in paths of righteousness.

And even the imperfect, straying sheep in our flock can learn to reflect His love and wisdom to comfort each other. It may take a lifetime. Some sheep are more ornery than others, truth!

But also remember that He leads His flock gently and cares tenderly for the bruised and broken.

Every elder, every undershepherd ought to have this heart for the flock. With this hope and anticipation, I drag my weary body out of bed each Lord’s Day.  I need rest for my soul. So I seek to hear His voice, not just alone, but in community with His sheep in His house on His day.

Let me encourage you, weary as you may be, to choose worship in community. 

Again, our satellite internet went down yesterday. I was unable to post. My apologies!