Tag Archive | support

When lions roar…

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“Be sober, be vigilant;

because your adversary the Devil

walks about like a roaring lion,

seeking whom he may devour.”

Desperation. The downside to chronic illness. When you’ve tried everything, yet nothing makes the pain go away.

You fill in the blanks.

The side effects. The sleepless nights.

The myriad of appointments with endless specialists. The constant stringing along to the next test result.

Even the medical profession and the whole medical system, seeing the long-term harm that early carelessness and the cavalier handling of my husband’s health from his infancy caused.

You’re cornered, and that roaring lion is seeking to devour your very faith. Can you smell the putrid breath of this king of the beasts who cracks bones with his giant jaws and crushes the life out of his victims?

Life hands you no way out. As a wife watching the downward spiral, it’s sometimes all you can do to cobble together an existence from day to day. But you do. You must. Life goes on.

You catch your breath, barely, and keep moving. Where is the hope in this?

“Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by our brotherhood in he world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9

It’s not seeing a demon behind every bush. Even nature teaches us that predators go after the young and the weak in every herd.

Yep. Satan is out to get our children and the chronically ill among us. As caregivers burdened down, we are right in the line of fire, too. We’re the straggler that stays behind to help the one who is struggling to keep up with the herd.

When the lion roars loudest is when we feel alone. Cut off from the Body. Separated from the herd, so to speak.

This is why churches of old emphasized visiting the sick and weak on a regular basis. The parish church was within walking distance, so the minister was readily available. Folks could pop in during the week to pray. But the weak were circled around and encouraged by the presence of a faithful minister from week to week, as he made his rounds of visits

How to be steadfast in the faith? How to resist?

Focus on ways to strengthen your faith.

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

If you can, leave your loved one for a few hours and hear God’s Word taught in person with God’s people.

Remember the Lion of the Tribe of Judah will fight your battles for you.

Humbly ask Him to fight for you. His kingdom will come and His will will be done. (Revelation 5:5, Isaiah 31:4-5)

Fight on your knees.

James 5:13-18 was a shot in the arm this week. God listened to Elijah’s prayer. In humble prayer, I ask for His listening ear.

A friend of mine saw her husband pass after years of cancer treatment. She told me that she sang Psalm 34 almost every day.

You know, the Psalms run the gamut of human experience. Fear, anger, jealousy, hate, love, joy, suffering, sorrow, with praise, always praise.

I often park myself in a Psalm and pray portions of it back to God.

Watch your media intake. None of it has been encouraging and faith-building lately, would you say?

Instead, find sources of uplifting music, media, and even friends to spend time with.

Offset the negativity with truth. Loveliness. Goodness.

My prayer is that this blog will be a place to share mutual sorrows, but also to help bind up and heal wounds.

A place where stragglers circle around each other with prayer, and face the lion’s roaring together with the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

How can I pray for you this week?

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

 

 

Keep your dukes up, sis!

My headline today makes me swallow back the tears again.

It’s what I said more than once to my sweet sis who went to heaven this summer.

Her fight is over. She went out in faith and love. My fight and yours — well, that is very much ongoing.

The fight theme is very much a thread that runs from the beginning to the end of the Bible. But I despise war! I hate a family feud. Raised voices and angry tones make me sick inside. I’m not even fond of cutting jokes and sarcasm just to be sarcastic.

“That old serpent, the Devil” doesn’t give us much choice. He walks around on a search and destroy mission. I could feel his slimey breath this week. The horror of a yet another diagnosis. Answers we didn’t want. A doctor who delivered the news in such a callous, crass, self-serving way that I called her the “b” word. Something I have never called another human being.

You know when Satan is seeking to destroy your faith. He uses people — those who are His willing instruments. Yes, like Hitler’s cronies, or those who fund and work for Planned Parenthood, those instruments seek to convince you that their way is the ONLY  and BEST option. Whatever the abominable system calls for is right. It must be. Some group of wealthy doctors, philosophers, and politicians says so.

GOD calls us to fight for our covenant marriages, for our children, for whatever is true and lovely and right! Like a friend of mine who found out she is carrying a Down’s baby — NO! NO way, your other “option” is not even an option!  I don’t want to fall prey to Satan’s mind games.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

RESIST him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” I Peter 5:8-9

We have to keep our weary heads in the game, dear sisters. Be sober, clearheaded, truth-filled thinking. Be vigilant, always watching our backs with our weapons handy. Gotta keep those dukes up.

I felt so tired and alone, trying to be strong for both of us with the forked tongue of the Serpent right there in front of me. My husband was feeling so weak, and sick, and tired of being sick and tired.

What’s a body to do? We prayed. We cried a lot. We’re not done doing  either.

I can’t. I can’t do this alone. Neither can you.

“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time.

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” I Peter 5:5-7

Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, will not leave us to fight alone.

Jesus, who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, understands the deepest agony of our earthly sorrows.

Jesus, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, is interceding for us in glory.

Jesus, that great shepherd of His sheep, is preparing a place of greatest peace and beauty for us when this earthly fight is done.

Keep fighting on your knees, dear one. Keep your dukes up.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

DO the next thing — how to care for the suffering.

Picture me on my hands and knees scrubbing toilets. Confession — I’ve scrubbed more than a dozen this week!

Yes, this is part of how I make my living, scrubbing other’s toilets. I have a dream to make the written word my living one of these days.  To part ways with the survival mode I’ve been in for so long.

Yet Jesus himself took up a scrub rag and a basin of water. He washed the dirty, dusty feet of his disciples — all twelve of them. No one else had signed up for the job. Such humility He calls all his true disciples to live out.

Somehow this toilet scrubbing is also making a path through grief for me. I can help my brother keep a sense of normal tidiness. His wife loved a clean house, even with two littles constantly creating messes.     Doing this one small thing brings her nearer to me. (I can just hear her saying tongue-in-cheek, Wow! I’m so flattered that my toilets remind you of ME! I know, sis. My bad.)

If you’re  a fan of Elisabeth Elliot (wife of martyred Jim Elliott, missionary), then you know she buried three husbands. She was well acquainted with grief.

“Do the next thing.” This was her motto. Meeting the routine needs helps you survive life on the ash heap of grief. Surely Job and his friends at least ate together.

The meals my friends have brought to me have made life bearable this week. My brother’s church, family, and friends are feeding him. In turn, we are able to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving with life.

Grief is a regular part of caregiving. My husband mourns the loss of function. I miss the adventurous person I married, now barely able to leave the house unless well-fortified with extra pain meds. A routine list of the “next things” to do helps us cut through the fog of pain. When we have had help with the challenging tasks, the encouragement is tangible.

Food, a small list of tasks to accomplish, the company of friends, and help checking off the list — these are a few ways to truly encourage your chronically ill friend.

Like Jesus taught, the dirty feet always need washing, but it takes eyes of humility to see and meet those needs. Dear caregiving sister, I pray you will have help on your journey today.

One word of hope and Mimosa…

Mimosa — the name of a lovely flowering tree — also is the name of a lady of courage. Let me tell you her true story.

Mimosa and I became friends through the pages of a book written by Amy Carmichael in the 1920’s. I’ll have to introduce you to Amy properly on another day. Both lived in India a hundred years ago.

Right now as I write this, there are other ladies living in refugee camps. Life is sparse. A hundred years ago and now? Faith has cost them all they own.

The gospel, the Good News! All Mimosa had was a few moments introduction to God as the living, loving God of all gods, the one Who made her and all things. She was visiting the Dohnavur Fellowship where her sister Star lived. Then her Hindu father snatched her away, refusing her pleas to hear more.

Though the “stick danced” for Mimosa, a little flame of understanding lit her heart. She firmly refused to smear ashes on her forehead for Siva, the family’s god of choice. She had a heart of love for the loving Father God she knew almost nothing about.

Fast forward to an arranged marriage, an unscrupulous family member who weaseled her dowry away from her, and a husband whose caste did not encourage him to work. Three babies later and no money, Mimosa toiled in the fields to keep food on the table. She prayed regularly in her little pantry, spreading out her sari to God.

With no Bible, no church, and no Christian fellowship, Mimosa clung to the few things she had learned about God as a child. Her neighbors and her family mocked her faith. But the worst was still to come.

Her husband was bit by a poisonous snake and went blind and mad. She had no one to watch her babies while she worked in the fields, and then her infant son became very ill. While her husband was bedridden and her little son lay dying, her roof caved in during monsoon rains, and she had to find temporary shelter for her family.

“I am not offended with you,” Mimosa told God. Her infant son had died. The village blamed her for his death as she refused to buy a charm for his healing. More cruel mocking in her hour of pain…

Her husband regained his sight and sanity but had no urge to better his family. Often he lived with relatives leaving Mimosa to fend for herself. Mimosa bore two more sons.The main trouble was keeping the rice and curried vegetables on the table. One night she prayed for food and it seemed no answer was coming. She did not want to dishonor God in her unbelieving village by asking for help.

A knock at the door around midnight — there stood the one kind relative she had. She lit the lamp, for he had been unable to sleep until he brought over rice and curried vegetables. Mimosa and her boys feasted at midnight.

No Bible studies, no pat on the back, no words of encouragement. She could not read nor write. Her sister Star did not know how to reach her.

And then her oldest boy smeared Siva’s ashes on his forehead so that he might work at a Hindu shop.

Her heart broke. She wanted her boys to know the one true God. Yet how could she teach them?

At Dohnavur her sister Star was praying for Mimosa. Never giving up hope of seeing her and her boys.

Once again Mimosa remembered Dohnavur, prayed, sold her last dowry items, and set out to make sure her sons had the chance to really learn about God. The village was in an uproar. She would be breaking caste. Her husband and the relatives he lived with opposed her. Yet she still set out with her boys on foot. Three days later they arrived.

 Spreading out her sari to God and not smearing ashes to Siva on her forehead finally brought Mimosa and her sons to a place of truth, comfort, and safety. One word from God’s Word had been a lamp to her feet all those years.

Sisters, keep praying in hope. Whatever hardships you are facing, hope in God’s love and Word.

 

 

 

 

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?

People in need of change…

Relationships are complicated.

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.”
imageQuite 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.

  1. Understanding your heart struggle
  2. Following the Wonderful Counselor
  3. Building relationships by identifying suffering
  4. 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!

 

 

 

 

Every life matters…

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Today I sat down to write one of those difficult notes you need to write if you live long enough.

For the past ten years as part of our church family, we have enjoyed the presence of Nathanael. I never held a two way conversation with him, but I’ve rubbed his head as he sat strapped in his wheelchair. He had the biggest smile, but we’ve seen it for the last time on this earth. We’re going to miss his enthusiastic outbursts which punctuated our services at times. He was always welcome in worship. When we got the email announcing his passing, we were encouraged to share with his parents how God has used Nathanael’s life to teach and bless us.

It was no coincidence that I stumbled across my sermon notes on that great command, “Thou shalt not kill”, just as I was looking for my cards to write this note.

I know from personal experience that if you are chronically ill, finding purpose in your life can be a huge challenge when you are feeling low. Getting real here — has your chronically ill husband ever told you he feels worthless?  Did you know there are a multitude of implied ways that we can break the command, Thou shalt not kill? Abortion, murder, and suicide are the most obvious applications.

Failing to value our lives, no matter how insignificant they seem,  borders on breaking this command.

We cringe in horror and are infuriated at the ruthless brutality alive and well all over our globe today. So we should be!  The very existence of certain departments of security points to the basic lack of value for life. Then there is history: Hitler, Stalin, and all their cronies who used their power for evil, crushing people like bugs. But, back to Nathanael — the fact that this severely disabled boy could smile and laugh reminded me to praise God. He was loved and treated with dignity and respect as a being created in the image of God for his less than two decades of life on this earth. His life mattered. Your life matters.

 Everyone is potentially someone who could praise God.

The Westminster divines really hit the nail on the head with this simple statement. We are created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. As someone who can praise God, your life has worth. When your husband is down, when the pain meds are talking, whatever the case, remind him that he is, indeed, special. As Jesus said, “You are of more value than many sparrows, ” after he had pointed out that the Father sees EVERY sparrow that falls.

Our worth is not measured by our abilities or possessions, but by the One who created us. 

“For by grace are you saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

Hope this helps start your week off in a different light. Be encouraged! What you do for your husband has value if done for His glory. His life matters and so does yours. Thank you, Lord, for Nathanael, your gift to remind us of the value of life.

 

 

 

 

Four common frustrations you may face this week

Hi! Happy Monday!

I never post on Mondays. But all my posts recently have been about giving encouragement. Being real is important. I often dread facing Mondays. So I pulled together my thoughts on why.

Also, I was given a huge boost of affordable encouragement lately that may make your Mondays better.  It is an e-course on productivity and time management. Keep reading to learn more.

Frustration 1: FINANCES!

Eww! This is a huge monster in my closet and has been since we started married life with a bang due to chronic illness. I found I could not even totally follow Dave Ramsey’s  Total Money Makeover because we are chronically underpaid! It does not work fully if you have insufficient income.

BOOM! That revelation has had me on my knees and searching constantly like Crystal Paine of Money Making Mom & Money Saving Mom for legitimate ways to make better money for my family.

I am on that road right now. I will keep you posted! We are not out of the financial woods yet. Living on one income is very tough. Add all the extra expenses of chronic illness, well, see point number 2!

Frustration 2: OVERLOAD!

Do you have a crazy, nutso to-do list? Confession! I recently missed the first deadline for filing for a property tax reduction based on income! Yikes! That mistake will cause me some headache this year. But if I gave you the list of things I must accomplish every day, I think you would be understanding. It is just overwhelming.

I can feel my stress cortisol levels rising as I write this. Some of you are dealing with hefty health issues and these affect every area of your life. So, when I found out Crystal Paine had a time management course callied Makeover Your Evenings for really cheap, I cried. She is so, so, so encouraging. Bite-sized chunks that only take 15 minutes a day. Here is my affiliate link.  https://gr161.isrefer.com/go/MOYE/Julia/

 I would not share this if it wasn’t a blessing for you, too. Make over your evenings and share with me what is working for your life!

https://gr161.isrefer.com/go/MOYE/Julia/

Frustration 3: FEAR!

I have mentioned courage on several occasions! Facing chronic illness well requires a boatload of this quality. I fight fear. Every. Single. Day. What if my hubby reacts poorly with this new med? What if I lose a client and cannot pay the next bill? How can I reinvent myself as I launch a new business?

Fear is our enemy. Jesus told His fearful disciples on the stormy sea, Do NOT be afraid. Faith in Christ and His promises help us face our fears. I need my daily courage vitamin from the WORD.

When I listen to God’s Word whether in my car, on sermonaudio.com, or just those little verse cards, I can breathe through those fear attacks. Those are little ways to fight fear that I use.

WHAT is your favorite fear-fighting tactic?

Frustration 4: Isolation!

No matter how much I try, I cannot walk in your shoes exactly. But your are my fellow-caregivers. You and I do share a commonality either by suffering a chronic illness like my husband, or facing the dreadful fallout that chronic illness brings to a wife and family.

I do get some of your struggles. Let’s share. Let’s pray. Let’s encourage each other, as Hebrews states, “looking diligently lest anyone fail of the grace of God”. How can I encourage you better?  Hope this Monday post helps.

And let Crystal encourage you, too. She is a master at survival on a slim budget. She is a Christian who cares. Her free posts are always valuable.  But her online courses are charitably affordable.

https://gr161.isrefer.com/go/MOYE/Julia/