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!
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.
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.
Well, I got my share of momma hugs this weekend, but I also got the brunt end of a bad mood, too. What to do?
We’re rapidly moving from tween to teen this year. It’s a hard, hard time to have a parent sick in bed regularly while the other parent is trying to keep all the plates spinning. But, nothing, and I mean nothing is worth losing connections with my daughter.
We recently watched a very, very inspiring movie called The Queen of Katwe. Even though the mom is a widow in that true story, I could relate to her so vividly is some respects. Granted, I don’t live in a third world country. I’ve always been able to find work, and get help with bills when needed.
But I can relate to setback after setback. I felt that momma’s pain in living technicolor. When she realized how much chess meant to her daughter, she was willing to sell her most prized possession to help her daughter succeed. Success happened but not overnight. I won’t spoil the ending for you. If you’re like me, keep a box of tissues nearby.
It will take extra grit and sacrifice to swim against the life-sucking illness. Love fiercely, momma!
Love finds a way. Love found me begging God on my knees for a good, safe homeschooling community three years ago. I tried to form my own, but the lack of commitment made it fall apart.
My daughter is an only. We needed friends and enCOURAGEment for our journey. God answered. He brought a nationally known group to form a community in our area. I was able to tutor to pay the fees. (People commit to what they pay for. Truth!)
You know what? I got a huge thank you from my daughter this year for making her go the past three years. She was initially afraid to try. Now she loves it. She excels at most of her work. That didn’t happen by accident!
Pray fiercely, momma! Ephesians 6:10-18
Turns out I was not the only momma praying for help. We were able to share burdens and bear each other’s burdens. Now I pray for wisdom as we navigate teen years and chronic illness in the house.
It’s a challenge but also an opportunity.
I want her to find her gifts and talents and hone them! I want her to be resilient, compassionate, gritty, and full of hope in God. So that means I’d better keep praying big prayers. Can’t quit now!
Hug ’em fiercely, momma! See that stinky attitude as a cry for love. Swipe the screen-time while you’re at it.
Chronic illness, well, it’s no fun for anyone to witness. When you live with it, that’s even harder. Some days it makes me angry, too. My child, on the road to sorting out all her inner workings, well, of course she thinks this stinks! At the stinky moments, sometimes a quiet tone and wrapping your arms around the huffy child is just what the doctor ordered.
Moms, we’re a safe haven. We’re a venting station. I want my child to be able to tell me exactly how she’s feeling. Nicely, of course, but truthfully. (We’re working on the “nicely” part still. Snagging the Kindle seems to help). A nice cup of hot tea helps, too. Or cocoa, depending on the kid.
Then I want to direct her to Abba, Father. She’s starting to see. Mom prays. About. Everything. I can’t fix things. But God is our very present Help in time of trouble. Psalm 46. He knows our thoughts. Psalm 139
Fierce loving, praying, hugging mommas, you’re my inspiration! Maybe chronic illness will be the catalyst to make our children extra gritty and kind. Maybe their souls will be supercharged to trust God for big things. How’s that for a prayer request?
Dear Sister in Christ, dear fellow care-giving wife, it’s the best of days when you are mind-blown, blown away, filled to overflowing with the knowledge of God’s love for you.
NOT all days are like this. In fact, most days we trudge along. One step, one foot in front of the other.
Then God takes off the blinders when you just refuse to let go of Him and His love. God, I will not let you go unless you bless me. Like Job, you know deep down — though He slay me, I will trust in Him.
Just one tiny glimpse of a few truths of Scripture where God shows His love, and I feel like the richest lady on earth. I’m writing this to remember this day. I’m setting up my memorial stones, and telling myself, remember. Don’t forget. God loves you dearly, fully, completely in Christ Jesus.
I want to tell you, too. I’m hoping you will be encouraged along with me. If you’re at all like me, you need it. You struggle like me to desperately believe and hang on to hope in God’s unfailing goodness and love for you.
What sparked this epiphany? Valentines Day? Naaah. Actually, that’s a hard holiday for those of us whose husbands are too laid up with health issues to be that romantic knight in shining armor.
In fact, I’ll turn off my FB feed that day. I don’t need to feed the feelings of longing when I see my friends light up and share all the wonderful things their truly good hubs do for them. I am blessed by their godly love. I really am. But I don’t need to wallow in what I am missing.
What I have is actually waaay more wonderful!
The Lord my Maker is my Husband.
He sings over me.
He rejoices over me.
He came looking for me, and brought me into His house of love.
He says all the riches of His eternal kingdom are mine forever.
He tells me over and over that He will provide for my needs. And He has. So very faithfully and just in time.
Where do I see His love painted in such big, broad brushstrokes? First, in Jesus’ broken body, hanging on the cross for my sins, eternal love is painted in blood.
Next, I see His compassion poured out on those whom society rejected: the weak, the blind, the sick, the lame, the lepers, the prostitutes, the tax collectors (thieves by their day’s standards), and the Prodigal Son. This means compassion for sick husbands, too, unable to provide for their wives.
The disabled, the abnormal, the “special needs” among us all find equal grace and equal royal privileges at the foot of the cross.
Let me illustrate this point.
In the Bible, mentioned more than once, are a special category of people called “eunuchs”. Ha! I’d always glossed over that until recently.
Eunuchs are a special class of people also mentioned in Augustine’s works, known as “hermaphrodites”. A certain class of these were forbidden by the Law of Moses to enter into temple worship. (Deut. 23:2) Outcasts by no fault of their own.
But Jesus did not ignore this problem. (Matt. 29:12) In fact, unique prophecies included eunuchs with amazing promises given to them.
One of the most remarkable of these eunuchs was Daniel. A man who could not enter God’s temple entered into God’s presence in prayer so faithfully that angels literally fought the powers of hell to bring answers to his prayers.
In Isaiah 56 God lavishes beautiful, rich promises on these persons with special needs and physical abnormalities.
Finally, in a burst of gospel beauty, Philip encounters the Ethiopian eunuch who is reading Isaiah. Philip is specifically commanded by the Spirit to speak to the eunuch about Jesus.
The eunuch then asks a loaded question,
” What prevents me from being baptized?” Acts 8:26-28
Philip, a blue-blood Jew, understood what doors God’s grace had opened.
Boom! Baptized then and there. No second-class church membership for this eunuch.
In Christ alone we find this wholeness, a total acceptance in the Beloved. His perfect love lavishes His perfect beauty on His children. Now that’s more than any husband could give to me this Valentine’s Day.
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 Beatitude…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.”
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?
We could all use a bit of help. Umm, well, maybe a great deal of help.
Here is my bit of encouragement for you today.
Read this book. Lots of honest, biblical wisdom rests between these covers.
If you are at all like me you often slip into survival mode. Being a caregiver has to be up there on the top ten list for stressful job descriptions.
I really do believe God has called us to move beyond survival mode.
That is a mindset I have struggled with for years.
I know God is working endurance and patience in my life. 1 Peter 1
But I don’t want to just “grin and bear it.”
Quite frankly, being “conformed to the image of His Son” is a process that requires the pain of bearing our cross, whatever that may be.
But again, I don’t want to just grin and bear it. Although some days are definitely like that here. Especially in winter. If you ever want to be a huge encouragement that is the season!
Reading this book is like going for that much delayed doctor’s visit. Not always fun, but you get help for your problems. Why?
Check out these chapter names.
Understanding your heart struggle
Following the Wonderful Counselor
Building relationships by identifying suffering
Discovering where change is needed
No, there is no affiliate link here. Just wanted to encourage you beyond my words.
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things GROW UP into him who is Head, that is Christ. From him the whole body, joined together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:15-16
Are you reading a great book? Have you read one lately? Feel free to share encouragement in the comment section. Blessings!
To tell you the truth, the last thing I feel like doing right now is writing.
That is a terrible thing to say to your reader friends, I know! But I’m just being honest here, saying what I would say to a really good friend. I’m drained. Two nights away from home and watching my sis-in-love suffer terrible pain as she struggles with cancer, and then my husband calls. He and my sis both spent the night awake. Raw pain. Real suffering. Maybe I should just shut my mouth right now before I am an epic failure at encouragement.
Oh, but Jesus met me at church even though I was late and bleary-eyed.
As tired as I am, I cannot wait to give you snippets of Isaiah 62 which was faithfully taught to us this morning. Nothing fancy. No bells and whistles. Just truth spoken with quiet passion. So here is the good news, sisters.
“You shall be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord will name.” Is. 62:2
Legally my name is no longer Lost, Forsaken, Doomed! I’ve been adopted as joint-heir with Christ. My inheritance is far better than the richest oil sheik! Even though I can’t claim a single rich relative, I am a royal daughter.
“You shall be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem…” Is.62:3
Ever wish you could be a princess for a day? Or a week? Or even just have someone to clean and cook for you for a week? Now we’re talking! Some of you know what I mean.
“For the LORD delights in you…” Is. 62:4
Now this is the sweetest thought to me. If you grew up feeling and knowing that your father delighted in you, you were one blessed child. So many parents do not know how to communicate their love wisely and well. Many children are downright neglected and abused.
God leaves us in no doubt of His dear sweet love for His children. He planned from ages past to rescue, redeem, and adopt His children. Then He clearly and repeatedly states His unchanging love for us. I can never hear this enough. I forget this too often. It was a healing balm to my bruised and aching heart today. I had to share this comfort with you. Hugs!
Most of us seek to avoid pain, or we choose our pain carefully. I like the burn of a good healthy bike-ride or an exhilarating swim. For my husband, a good hike through the woods or a day spent antiquing is worth the pain, occasionally. He has been known to stand for hours outside our rented church building and discuss theology with friends. That night he will inevitably pay for this indulgence with a sleepless, pain-filled repose.
Other pain we have zero control over. Not one of us would have chosen stage 4 breast cancer for their personal pain. Paul addresses this in Phillipians. “Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, and again I say rejoice.” We might be smiling through the rain of tears down our cheeks, but we always, always have something to smile about as a child of the heavenly Father. “In the LORD” causes us to remember His sweet, undeserved love. In addition to His love which has been shed abroad in our hearts, He gives us many tangible gifts- family, friends, the beauties of nature, and one of my personal favorites, chocolate.
Just a few moments ago, I was enjoying a beautiful smile, and thinking of the many (but still far too few) moments of love and laughter my sister-in-law Jessica and I have shared. I think some of her most beautiful, radiant smiles have appeared since her diagnosis with stage 4 breast cancer. She KNOWS from the bottom of her heart that her God LOVES her and is WITH her. Thank you, Jessica, for modeling Philippians 4:4 for your family and friends. In return, let us love you like Christ loves us, and lay down our lives and sacrifice in special ways for you and your family’s well-being.