A SUMMER OF PSALMS

In 1975 my thinking about suffering in life was challenged in a profound way.  A film depicting the Ten Boom family during WWII called “The Hiding Place” was playing at a local theater.  Once I saw it, Corrie Ten Boom became my favorite person on the planet.  I’m thankful to everyone involved in the film.  Nobody understands why my favorite movie is about such a horrific time in history.  Well, I suppose it’s because this film taught me about adversity in life and how to react when bad things happen.

We don’t like to think about storms, do we?  And yes, I guess this movie could be considered a “downer” to some people, but I walked away with the thought that if Corrie Ten Boom was able to lean so heavily on God and trust Him to see her through something so unbelievably evil, then I can trust Him for any bad situation I find myself in!  I was not depressed after watching it – I felt a peace and a hope that God is sufficient for any circumstance in life.  He is and always will be enough.

One day a psychologist friend asked me how I’m able to function in life.  We had talked a bit about how bumps in the road of life can affect us in negative ways as Christians.  The first thing people notice about me is that I don’t have children.  They become uncomfortable at that point.  Nobody knows what to talk about with me because the “go-to” subject of any conversation is kids.  How old are your kids?  What school do they go to?  It’s the most predictable conversation people have when they meet for the first time.

But when they ask if I have children and I say no, they’re at a loss.  They have no idea what to say next.  Once in a while I hear, “Oh, then you probably have fur babies then, right?”  Well, yes I did – but we lost our fur baby a while back.  Sometimes I just smile or nod yes to save face.  I don’t want two pity pauses in the conversation.

I was chatting with a friend recently and the subject of childlessness came up and I said something to the effect that I felt like a freak.  She said, “It stinks.”  It’s true – it does!  There’s not a thing I can do about it, but it does!  Sometimes you just want someone to acknowledge the fact that something stinks, ya know?  I felt better after she said that – I felt understood.

When I was younger, it was difficult to be around the women my age who were having children.  I kept thinking it would get easier as I got older, but now those same women have grandchildren and no…  it’s no easier to deal with that either.

The Bible says that children are a reward… which makes a childless person wonder if they are being punished Everyone’s quick to tell me that’s not the case, but that’s not how it feels.  One of my friends told me that the Lord may have saved me from worse heartache because perhaps a child of mine could have had serious health issues or something like that.  Well – I guess that could be true too.  I just don’t know – but I have to trust God.  He knows what He’s doing and I need to accept it.

God does surround me with songs of victory.  He helps me cope with all kinds of loss.  I can’t really explain it except to say I know in my soul that God’s helping me.  When it storms and I’m tempted to give up, I hear that sweet song of victory and I know it will be okay.  The Lord is with me.  Oh, and even though Corrie Ten Boom is no longer alive, she’s still my favorite person.  🙂

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SPRING INTO ACTION

 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  – Ephesians 4:32

It’s a calling from our LORD…  be light, salt, kind, loving, forgiving and tenderhearted.  Nobody wants to be tenderhearted because that means you are also vulnerable.  It hurts to make yourself vulnerable because to open yourself up to others has no guarantee of success associated with it.  God never said that being obedient to Him would result in automatic joy or happiness.  Does that mean it’s not worth doing?  No.  Does it mean that we won’t need to walk away from the ones who hurt and disappoint us sometimes?  No.  Is it a sin to walk away?  No.  It’s probably a sin to give up and not try again.  The sin is to quit trying.

We have to rely on God to help us forgive – and forgive as quickly as possible.  Forget?  Well…  not really.  It’s like you sort of tuck it in the back of your mind.  You don’t want to dwell on it, but you don’t want to forget completely so you aren’t that stupid again.  I don’t need to keep hitting my head against the same post over and over.  That’s just an insane thing to do!  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.  I refuse to do anything remotely insane ever again.

Does that mean I don’t forgive past wrongs?  No.  I need for others to forgive me – and frankly, I need God to forgive me – so I will absolutely forgive others when I feel I’ve been wronged.  This ol’ world needs more kindness and less anger-driven violence, to be sure.  If you allow hurt feelings to fester and get infected, it affects all aspects of your life.

How can we shine for God and serve Him if there’s a cloud of hurt hanging over our heads?  We just have to ask God to help us through those hurtful times and be what He wants us to be!  I want to be light, salt, kind, loving, and yes…  even tenderhearted.  It doesn’t mean we are door mats.  It doesn’t mean we are stupid enough to walk back and take more.  We’re not.

We can conquer the hurt we encounter in this life with help from God.  We can conquer the hate we encounter in this life with help from God!

Are you ready to spring into action – and throw kindness into this wicked world like it’s confetti???  Instead of deciding to merely DEAL with the hurt in our lives, let’s trust God to help us HEAL from church hurt and other disappointments along life’s way so we can effectively SHINE for Him!  When we live in the complete freedom that Christ bought for us, it makes Him smile and it makes us whole!  🙂

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

Folks in our day and age don’t say the word TREAD much – we say walk more often than not; however, the word TREADMILL is not only familiar to most of us, but a regular part of healthy living.  I really hate using the treadmill at the gym – but it’s honestly not because I’m lazy!  The chronic sciatica I’ve suffered with for over 30 years has held me back – I have this thing about hurting…  I don’t dig it.  My leg burns from the moment I wake up in the morning until I blissfully go to sleep at night.  I’m very happy when I’m asleep.

Through the years I’ve done different things to make it better – right after the injury I was in physical therapy for several months – nearly a year.  I was on strong pain medications but as we all know, they have unwelcome side effects.  I decided they weren’t worth it – so I weaned myself off of them and tried to keep moving.  It hurts like crazy, but I have to keep moving.

Today I have no brain fog and other effects of strong pain meds have disappeared.  I have given the issue to God.  Don’t roll your eyes at me…  it’s true.  Now I take 2 Aleve in the morning and move as much as I can.  God’s helping me, but I had no doubt He would.

A pastor’s wife once told me, “Everybody has SOMETHING.”  At first, I thought that was her not so subtle way of telling me she didn’t want to hear about my issues (which I don’t recall sharing at the time anyway).  But I put a pin in the comment and stuck it in the back of my mind.  She’s right – we’re human and we get tired, weary, discouraged at times, and close to quitting.  Then – God steps in.  He never shows up early – but He steps in – just in time – His perfect time.  I’ve found that to be true and I’ve heard testimony after testimony that bears this out.

I can’t explain how my messed up back with a burning sciatic nerve has the ability to walk on the treadmill, ride the bike, and do other machines…  it’s all God – He has given me the strength and the GOD-bility to keep moving.  I praise Him for helping me every day!

God helps us do what we have to do – but even more exciting…  He helps us do what we like to do – and most writers would say…  what they absolutely must do!  God has put such a desire within us to write, and everybody knows…  a writer WRITES… about anything, anytime, anywhere.  Put me in an elevator by myself and shut the door.  If I have a pencil and some paper (or a napkin, preferably unused, but…) – I can come up with something – it could be about the color of the buttons…  lol.  Maybe there’s a fly in the elevator with me.  Hmm…  bonus!

If you’re feeling like you can’t tread…  or walk on the treadmill…  remember, with God and His strength – you can!  Climb those mountains like a deer!  🙂

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (3)

It’s Suicide Prevention Month.  We’ve all felt down at times, but some folks just can’t seem to crawl out of the pit they find themselves in.  Suicide is a very real problem not only in the United States, but around the world.  When people are contemplating suicide, they are really just wanting to stop the pain, whether it be emotional or physical.  Keep in mind that suicide is a very permanent solution to what is probably a temporary problem.

I know that when you’re at the lowest point, the last thing you want to do is pray.  The feeling of utter hopelessness has you in its grasp and praying just doesn’t seem to do much good.  The truth is, that’s when it does the most good.  The enemy of your soul wants you to stay in that pit, but the God of the universe wants to help you climb out – take His hand and trust in His ability to pull you out.

I’m old enough to remember old hymns, and one of my favorites is UNDER HIS WINGS.  The truth in that hymn shoots straight to my heart.  Whether I’m playing it on the piano or singing it in the congregation, it makes me cry.  I want to abide under God’s wings forever.

We all have what I call gray days…  days when we feel alone or unloved.  I wonder how many times we feel that way instead of feeling like God has blessed us with an opportunity to be alone with Him so that we can feel Him loving us?

choose-to-pray

One of my favorite pastors once said, “There’s a big difference between feeling lonely and being alone.”  I’ve not forgotten those words.  I don’t remember Scripture references to back it up, and I don’t remember much of anything else regarding the sermon – but that one statement has stayed with me.  God gives us what we need to get through gray days…  even if it is one sentence from a sermon almost ten decades ago.

The point is, we can choose the attitude we will have about the circumstances we find ourselves in.Before we choose a permanent solution to a temporary situation, we really need to involve God.  If we will just call on Him with honest words – even if they are angry words…  there’s no use in trying to hide your true feelings because God made you.  He knows your thoughts and your true feelings.  Be truthful with Him and let Him answer your cry for help.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.   – Psalm 91:4

I read an article on facebook that just melted my heart!  I think you’ll like it too.

When Lucinda read this story, it inspired her to write a beautiful poem!

be-that-changeHow much could we do to help others???  We may be surprised at what we could be doing to prevent tragedy in another person’s life.  Today, ask God to reveal to you a way in which you can make a difference in someone’s life.  You may be surprised at the answer you get!

I want to leave you with one more poem of encouragement.  Remember that God is faithful. 🙂he-is-faithfulGod is a light in the darkness.

a-light-in-the-darknessIf you are feeling depressed about life, find a friend and enjoy some tea together.  If you are preparing tea, ask God to put someone on your heart and mind who may need to share tea with you.  We’re here to take care of one another.  We obviously take care of our own families, but it’s amazing what we could do for someone we don’t even know…  yet.  🙂

NATIONAL NEUROPATHY AWARENESS WEEK

TL 5-12 NATIONAL NEUROPATHY AWARENESS WEEK

GOD LOVES ME WHEN I HURT

Neuropathy is the term used to describe a problem with the nerves, usually the ‘peripheral nerves’ as opposed to the ‘central nervous system’ (the brain and spinal cord).

The causes of peripheral neuropathy are:

  • Alcoholism. Poor dietary choices made by alcoholics can lead to vitamin deficiencies.
  • Autoimmune diseases. These include Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy and necrotizing vasculitis.
  • Diabetes. More than half of people with diabetes develop some type of neuropathy.
  • Exposure to poisons. Toxic substances include heavy metals or chemicals.
  • Medications. Certain medications, especially those used to treat cancer (chemotherapy), may cause peripheral neuropathy.
  • Infections. These include certain viral or bacterial infections, including Lyme disease, shingles (varicella-zoster), Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis C, leprosy, diphtheria and HIV.
  • Inherited disorders. Disorders such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease are hereditary types of neuropathy.
  • Trauma or pressure on the nerve. Traumas, such as motor vehicle accidents, falls or sports injuries, can sever or damage peripheral nerves. Nerve pressure can result from having a cast or using crutches or repeating a motion many times, such as typing.
  • Tumors. Growths, cancerous (malignant) and noncancerous (benign), can develop on the nerves themselves or they can put pressure on surrounding nerves.
  • Vitamin deficiencies. B vitamins, including B-1, B-6 and B-12, vitamin E and niacin are crucial to nerve health.
  • Bone marrow disorders. These include abnormal protein in the blood (monoclonal gammopathies), a form of bone cancer (osteosclerotic myeloma), lymphoma and amyloidosis.
  • Other diseases. These include kidney disease, liver disease, connective tissue disorders and an under active thyroid (hypothyroidism).

On my journey with type 2 diabetes, I’ve developed diabetic neuropathy.  Most people know it by the term diabetic nerve pain from the advertisements on television.  It’s a shooting, burning pain that constantly reminds me of this disease.  It’s also one of the main reasons I need and want to keep this beast of a disease under control.  The closer in check I keep my sugars, the less pain I feel.  Over the years I have determined that being out of control is just not worth the price I pay.I TRUST YOU, PAPA GOD

In my research I’ve also learned that the popular drug metformin, used to treat type 2 diabetes, when taken over time can cause a vitamin B-12 deficiency.  As we see, a deficiency in B vitamins is a cause of peripheral neuropathy.  When I began to take a vitamin B-12 in addition to my regular multi-vitamin, my pain lessened dramatically.

Between hypothyroidism, arthritis and diabetes it’s a challenge to manage my neuropathy, but I’m determined to stay as active as possible.  On bad days I walk with a cane, but on good days I walk just as fast as my little legs will take me!  I’m thankful to God for the good days!  🙂

 

OCTOBER IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH

TL OCTOBER IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH

Take pride in how far you have come and have faith in how far you can go.  – Unknown

I had a unique opportunity to interview our favorite Christian poet, Lucinda Berry Hill about a very painful time in her life.  This post is a lesson for us because we never know the struggles that others have faced and overcome.  We don’t know why these circumstances have to be, but we most definitely know that God can and will work in our lives to help us through.  I appreciate Lucinda being so candid and opening up about this part of her life.  It’s our hope that someone will be helped or at least be assured that they are not traveling this road alone.

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SURVIVOR FIRE

Whether you think you CAN or think you CAN’T – you’re probably RIGHT!  – Unknown

ME TOO

Q: When did you first realize your situation was not good?

A:  Well, of course he didn’t start hitting me until he had me far away from family and friends.  I was barely 18 when we started seeing each other.  I was too naïve to even notice the emotional and mental abuse.

Q:  Did he ever apologize after he hit you?

A:  Oh my gosh, no!

Q:  Did you notice any particular triggers that would set him off?

A:  My “long face”.  One time we were cleaning a machine shop.  I was sweeping the floor and I wasn’t smiling while doing it, so he put my arm in a vice grip attached to a work table.

Q:  Do you believe you ended up with Stockholm’s Syndrome?

A:  Absolutely!

Q:  Could you see the hand of God working in your life along the way at that time?

A:  Only in the fact that he didn’t kill me like he threatened so many times.  He used to tell me he’d chop me up and put me in the river.  No body…  no crime.

Q:  You were away from family and friends.  Were you allowed to make phone calls or write letters to them?

A:  Yes.  He never actually told me I couldn’t.

Q:  Can you pinpoint anything that helped you through this time?

A:  Nope.  I’d say my innocence, maybe.

Q:  In the ten years of domestic violence, did you ever leave and then come back?

A:  Yup!  Twice.  But I was trapped.  When I left, I went to my mom’s.

Q:  Did he ever come to your mom’s house to take you back?

A:  Sort of.  One time he was in the area stalking me.  He left a present in my car while I was working.  I guess that was his way of letting me know he was still in charge.  The second time he came, I’m not sure what his intentions were, but I wasn’t there.

Q:  Did your mom say anything to you that made you rethink the situation?

A:  Nope.  My mom didn’t believe me when I finally told her.  We were in counseling after the fact, and she told them she thought I was the crazy one.  That’s how charming abusers can be.  No one would ever know.

Q:  What finally made you decide to get away?

A:  When I started envisioning me killing myself or him.

Q:  Would more support from friends and family have made much of a difference?

A:  Probably not much because he had me under his control.

Q:  Describe the day you escaped from him.

A:  I don’t remember the first time.  Isn’t that odd?  The second one, he was literally holding me hostage!  His sister came to pick me up while he was gone and met my step-dad halfway where she dropped me off.

Q:  At that point you were finally free from him once and for all?

A:  Yup!  Because he ended up in jail!  I’m not sure what I would have done if that had not happened.

Q:  What would you say to a woman in similar circumstances?

A:  You’ve got to leave before something happens that can’t be fixed!  He doesn’t deserve that kind of control of your life!  There is nothing out there in the world…  not loneliness, not lack of job or education, nothing that can hurt you more than he can!

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Did you catch the common word throughout the interview?  I caught it as I was asking questions…  CONTROL.  It may begin with small things.  If a man will not let you leave the house, for instance.  If he is a control freak by nature, then the tendency to want to hold you on a tight lead may come naturally.  Don’t be afraid to let him know you are uncomfortable with it.

A couple should be a team – equal partners.  Both need to feel free to speak, to think for his / herself.  When one begins to exude CONTROL – either mentally, emotionally or physically – it’s time to reassess the situation.

We love Lucinda, and we are so thankful for her testimony!  She loves God with her whole heart and writes of His faithfulness, His goodness and His grace every day!  We’re thankful that God gave her survivor fire along with His Holy Spirit.

HE MADE ME TOUGHER

I want to post a couple of websites for you today.  If you or someone you know needs help, please call these fine folks.

http://www.thehotline.org/

http://www.wordoflifecounselingcenter.com/

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Paint your ring finger purple.
Paint your ring finger purple.

What can you do to help?

By painting your left ring fingernail purple, the color of the anti-domestic violence movement, you will show the world your vow to end domestic violence and support Safe Horizon and the survivors it serves. In addition to painting your left ring fingernail purple, you can also show your support by spreading the word on social media with #PutTheNailinIt or, most importantly, by donating at safehorizon.org to help victims safely become survivors.

Be blessed and well today – and peace be unto you and your household.  🙂

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (18)

Marry someone who will suffer well with you, because there will be much suffering during the life journey.  – Unknown

DATE NIGHT

When we are planning a wedding, we often get wrapped up in the aesthetics and tend to ignore the substance.  We want the perfect flowers, dresses and décor.  It’s almost like we get to the point we’re so tired after all that planning, we say, “Vows?  What vows???”  But…  there are vows – and they are meant to be kept for LIFE.  Think about it – it’s a sobering thought, isn’t it?  Yeah – it’s meant to be.

What were those vows?  Ah…  now it’s coming back to me.

Groom: I, Larry, take thee, Linda, to be my wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.

Bride: I, Linda, take thee, Larry, to be my wedded Husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.

Then, as Larry placed the ring on my finger, he said the following:

With this Ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

LOVE, HONOR, CHERISH
LOVE, HONOR, CHERISH

Love means, for better or worse, you are committed to caring for the heart of someone else. You are willing to die to yourself, to compromise, to share, to believe, to keep the promise even when it hurts.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Prepare for painful moments – painful hours – painful days.  When the times are good or worth celebrating – do it with all your might, but when you are in pain, keep those good days – those good memories – at the forefront.  Think about the good as you go through the bad.  God has every situation in His very capable hands.  Trust Him for all the answers.