Tag Archive | Gratitude

3 Ways to rehydrate your soul…

Sometimes the well just runs dry. Like me missing my last posting goal, which is every Lord’s Day.

I have not yet learned how to automate this encouragement mission. You and I are down in the trenches together. We have a set of unique challenges as caregiving wives.

I really want to be there for you. I want us to bear our burdens together.

So, I was refilling my own well last weekend.

When you are constantly pouring out, you realize you need to be refilled or else. Emotions take charge. You grow frazzled with those you love. Worse, you either run on auto-pilot, living life without meaning, or you get zonked. Too. Weary. To. Take. One. More. Step.

No! I did not have time or money for some super wonderful Bible conference.

I did not get away to some wonderful, restful ladies retreat. I did not get a spa treatment. But, I did take spend time with special people.

1.) Talk with a dear friend in person if at all possible.

Seriously! You need to cry on someone else’s shoulder sometimes. Our husbands can be extremely needy or distant, depending on their current health and mental struggles. We need community and friendship!

A VERY wise elderly Christian friend of mine told me you only get a few true-blue trusted friends in a lifetime. As sisters in Christ, we ought to have more than a few.

But even Christians gossip.

Don’t give us the benefit of the doubt.

And they surely don’t “get” our husband situation.

I don’t say this to be mean or bitter. Truth hurts, though. It is seriously hard to find a true Christian friend you can trust with your secrets and not feel judged, in the wrong sense of that word.

Maybe it is because you have to find a friend mature enough to handle suffering. A lady who is wise and discreet is a treasure.

Add warm and caring to that…Someone who will not hold you at arm’s length because all is not perfect in your life. I hope I can be that kind of friend. We all need that friend! Do you have one or a few?

2.) Soak your soul in the WORD. I listened to sermons and Scripture music. His Word is a lamp that lights up the dark.

This should have been number one on the list. We need God’s Word like plants need water. Although I visited another church, I still spent His day in His house.

It was so worth it! The dark places come to light under the light of the Word. There healing begins. God’s truth tells us what’s wrong, what’s right, and how to make what is wrong right.  To stay healthy, gotta keep growing!

3.) Count your blessings. It sounds trite. It is so true. You get joy from drawing water out of the well of salvation.

I could be living in darkness without Jesus.

How does anyone handle chronic illness, loss of a loved one, severe financial strain, and caregiving joyfully without the hope of new life in Christ?

His redeeming love is my greatest blessing! “If anyone be in Christ, he (or she) is a new creation.”

My soul sings when I take time to meditate on His love, power, and goodness.

If you are in a dry and dark place, reach for His Word, His love, and the love of His people.

 

 

 

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Lovin’ through the crazy…

Well, I’d be lying if I said life was all peaches and cream right now.

Focusing on gratitude really helped me see the humor in my crazy life this week. Yesterday was the icing on the cake! I watched tired, grumpy kiddos for a family who is going through the fires of fighting cancer. I ended up in the wrong place due to a GPS error. Traffic was horrendous. I’m a country gal. Hate traffic. A professional panhandler hit me up while I had said kids in the store. And the man in front of me bought every single avocado in the store — one of the big items on my grocery list.

To top things off, the cat vomited and my hubby tracked it all over unknowingly!

Let’s revisit the kids and chronic illness theme. As a parent, once you think you have figured out how to handle one stage, a new one hits. Multiply this time ten with the many different ways chronic illness effects children.

Time to fill up the love tanks. The kids just need someone who loves them through the crazy. Time. Attention. Hugs. Correction. Encouragement. Isn’t that the way the heavenly Father loves us?

  • Love like the Father in Heaven. He does not ignore us or or need for correction. Hebrews 12:5-8
  • He loves His children even when they don’t deserve it. Romans 5:8-9
  • He loves to give good gifts to His children. James 1:17
  • He showers us with love and mercy. Ephesians 2:4-7
  • Our Heavenly Father listens to us and wants us to talk to Him! Matthew 6:6-13

When you see life is crazy, love like there is no tomorrow!

My daughter was with me caring for the kids. I had to encourage her to be patient many times. The tired littles had fun. My girl talked my ear off on the long drive home. Non-stop. The tired me wanted her to stop. The Father God love in me soaked it up. Life is hard, but God is good.  Make me a reflection of  His holy love, I pray. Prayers appreciated from you all. We face more crazy days ahead with a surgery for my hubby sometime this summer.

How can I pray for you in this crazy life we lead? Let me know, okay?

Footprints of gratitude….

image

Our earthly footprint really is so small.

Parenting brings out the cliches. They grow up so fast. You blink and they’re all grown up. Well, I am more than halfway through my parenting journey to the legal age of adulthood. I would like to put the brakes on it for just a bit, too.

Parenting with chronic illness or cancer in the home has its own unique twist of challenges.

There are way too many facets to deal with in one post. I think I will sit down and chart an outline of what my greatest parenting challenges have been and still are. I have a few people in mind to interview, too, who are dealing or have dealt with this in living technicolor.

Usually I ask for your input at the end of the post. But start thinking now as you read. How has chronic illness affected your parenting? What are your greatest challenges? Any great tips that have really helped your family?

I will share this challenge right off the bat. It is a constant battle to maintain joy on the journey. I’m not talking about slap-stick happiness, or just faking it. But I do believe laughter is the best medicine. Gratitude for the simple blessings truly does bring joy. All of us can find something to give thanks for if we are still breathing in God’s good air. Gratitude lends a helping hand to joy.

Sometimes depression hangs over our house like the dark clouds of Mordor. What’s a mom/caregiver/breadwinner to do?

This may sound like a broken record (google it), but only Jesus can give you joy and inner peace when your husband’s body is broken and you can’t fix it. You can’t pretend for all your kids’ growing up years that everything is okay. When children are very young, I do think you have to shelter them from too much sorrow. If you can… So what happens when the hard questions come?

Make up your mind to be thankful! Dad’s been sick in bed all day and your children are moody, understandably! Be a ray of light in that dark cloud. But why? What is the end goal?

  • You want your children to grow up knowing God is good. Giving thanks for the blessings reminds us of this daily. This takes practice! I want to do better at modeling tangible praise to God every day.

  • Read the Biblical stories of real people persevering through hard times. My daughter fell in love with Ruth for a period of time, then Esther.

  • Read/listen to courage-inspiring true stories. Note to self: compile a list of suggested reading for you!

  • Have a talk time with each child nearly every day. My time comes at bedtime most days. Sometimes it happens in the car. Key words: they talk, you listen! You want to hear what their joys, sorrows, and frustrations are. You will find kids actually end up asking for advice if you listen well.

  • Pray about problems together. There is no better time than when your child has unloaded their troubles on you. IF they need anything, they need to know the Heavenly Father is always available. Who doesn’t need this?

  • Block out time for happiness. Plan special outings and happy memories together. When money is tight and travel is tough with chronic illness, enlist friends to pop in and check on your husband while you leave the house and just do something fun together. If you can include dad, all the better..

  • Institute a real reward for not whining. I was given a roll of quarters. Ten dollars is a nice chunk of change to my daughter. For every complaint, I got to take back a quarter over a month’s time. Thankfully she kept more than half of the roll in the end.

    These are a few humble suggestions. I would love to have your input. What are your major parenting challenges that chronic illness aggravates? How have you dealt with them? 

 

 

Week 7: “He shall give His angels charge over you…

…to keep you in all your ways.” Psalm 91:11

Three different road trips this weekend and three terrible accidents in full view brought this comforting Scripture to mind. You heard a bit about my broken down car a few weeks ago. The rest of the story is that my husband and I had just traveled the “NASCAR” beltway to the big city. Our axle broke as we gently and slowly rounded the corner on a quieter city street near an alley. Obviously it was not our appointed day of death! Despite the fact that our only car became a total loss to us — the weight of the broken axle ended up damaging the transmission — we were blown away by the miraculous protection.

Even more touching was the outpouring of love by a few of God’s people. We are up and running with another old vehicle kindly donated to us. Ladies, I know all about the financial strain that frequently accompanies any sort of health issues. Chronic illness has many ways of draining your bank account. More posts of encouragement on the topic of finances will follow.

Before I knew what or how God was going to provide for our desperate need for a vehicle, I had written a note stating Jehovah-Jireh which means: the LORD will provide. I found great comfort in that promise based on one of the very names of God.

What is your dire need in this moment? I realize I am a little behind in posting this tonight, just as running a few minutes behind spared me not once, but twice this weekend from potentially being involved in a bad car accident. I feel very comforted by knowing God can take these words and mostly HIS Word to be just the protection and comfort you need. When Satan hisses in your ear that God has forgotten you, shield your heart and mind behind His faithful promises.

“He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:4

 

Week 5: Better Than I Deserve

As I sit and write this, my car is in a city dead-end nook waiting for a moonlighting mechanic to replace vital parts so that we can have wheels again.

I had already scribbled down my thoughts of encouragement, good thoughts from God’s Word that encouraged me this week, as it was not a week on my favorite list. I can point you to Genesis and the life of Joseph, first of all.

“But as for you, you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good…”(Genesis 50:20)

This statement of Joseph to his brothers who had literally sold him into slavery has continued to bless my life when times are tough. God’s covenant grace and promises are a golden thread weaving through the Old Testament to the New. He is the SAME yesterday, today, and forever! For an amazing read, check out Genesis 37-50.

We all struggle with anxiety, doubts, and ingratitude when trouble strikes.

We are never really told of Joseph’s inner battles while sitting in Pharoah’s prison for more than two years. No family or friends  were nearby to comfort him, but the Bible gives us this insight: “But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison…(vs. 21) …the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it to prosper.” (vs. 23)

Whatever comes my way, it is better than I deserve!

Really! That is hard to write and even harder to get a grip on at times. We live in a me, myself, and I era. Entitlement runs rampant — like the homeless man on my front porch who recently refused a bowl of my homemade chili or even a sandwich. He wanted ROYAL FARMS chicken or nothing at all. But what do I mean? The Bible clearly tells us our hopeless, wretched heart condition in the sight of a perfect God and Creator. If you do not know what I mean, Romans is a good place to go after reading about the fall of man in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 1-3.

“There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.” Romans 3:10 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

That is the bald, naked truth about each of us. Not good! But the God of covenant mercy and grace did not forsake us in our desperate need.

“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” Romans 5:6-9

I am now encouraging myself so that it is hard to stop! I want to reread all of Genesis and Romans. Our car is still sitting there broken. We were still ripped off by our local mechanic who replaced this axle in January of this year. But, we could have been in a terrible accident. We are sitting warm and well-fed in my brother’s house. Of course, I would love your prayers that this repair would go smoothly this afternoon!  I hope you are encouraged today in whatever hardship you are facing. You and I, if you are a believer in Jesus, are recipients of eternal mercy so undeserved. If not, read and pray over the Bible words that I have shared. You do not want to face this life and the next one alone.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32

 

Hope continually…

Today I saw the first signs of spring in my yard- unexpected numbers of daffodils poking up their first green shoots! Snow covered those spots all week and for a few days it was so cold we barely dared to set foot outside. My husband rescheduled his doctor’s appointment due to bitter cold and icy driving conditions. Now winter weariness is melting into the first buds of spring.

Spring is a season of hope! We have had to work hard fight despair this winter. Weeks of staph infection and heavy duty antibiotics turned into months and ramped up treatment with full body gamma radiation each week for my dear husband. It has been a bitterly cold winter for our area, and we are unable to afford to keep our home overly warm. Over and over we have reminded ourselves to “keep ourselves in the love of God”, knowing that He who is always faithful will never leave nor forsake us. Meanwhile, we have been grateful for many cups of hot tea, homemade cocoa, and fresh veggies and fruits amazingly available to us in the middle of winter!

Our trials have been light compared to some this winter. In the past month we have heard of the deaths of four infants in the circle of our church family and friends.  Friends lost a family member who was close to my age. We have wept and prayed that the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort would make Himself dear to these families.  The unbelievable persecutions and the losses of homes and lives of fellow believers in other parts of the world remind us to be grateful and to pray as well.

King David experienced the full gamut of life’s sorrows, struggles, and joys. Promised the throne of Israel , he had to wait many years in hiding to experience that promise. He finally had a palace full of children, wealth, riches, and honor. He sinned greatly and tarnished his good name. He repented and was restored and used of God. He had to flee his palace in Jerusalem and be pursued by the armies of his own ambitious, rebellious son.  The Psalms are replete with his cries to God for mercy and help in trouble.

Every wife of a chronically ill husband needs to find time to park herself in the book of Psalms.  I am convinced of that fact! 🙂 God has used this portion of His Word to drag me out of the mire of self-pity and despair more times than I can remember.  I would like to leave you with a word of purposeful hope from the divine Word.

“But I will HOPE continually, and I will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all the day, for I do not know their limits.  I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.”  Psalm 71:14-16

A Shot in the Arm for Wives of Chronically Ill Husbands…

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-story-of-ian-larissa

Ladies,

Here is a link, a blog website with a video file that I highly recommend you listen to and read. The key message is that marriage for a Christian is a means to glorify Christ. Without Him, we can do nothing. Larissa chose to become wife to a chronically ill/disabled man. Very , very few of us made that choice. Instead, we found ourselves very reluctantly put into that position.

We NOW have a choice. Do I remain committed? Do I obey Christ by keeping my marriage covenant?  Do I remember that this life is only a temporary but important portal into the next, everlasting life?

We don’t want to remain parked in the “will I stay committed ” stage.  Like stages of grief, we need to move on. Christ speaks of a life of abundance and joy in His presence. Psalm 16:11  I loved Ian and Larissa’s Board of Gratitude!  I find myself repeatedly returning to this theme!  Philippians is a book written to suffering believers, and yet they are commanded to “rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.”  There is ALWAYS, always, always something to be thankful for. The very air I breathe is a gift from God.  My level of deservedness is nothing.  God owes me nothing.   I, in fact, deserve His wrath, condemnation, and judgment.

If you have question about my previous statements, please do feel free to e-mail or comment. We are in this together, and should be willing to lend a listening ear and give a prayerful answer.