Tag Archives: family

The Christian Journey

16 Dec

This is to my family of believers and my skeptical faith walkers;  My Sunday traditionalists and my in the deep end of bible banging believers.  We are all in this together and it isn’t easier for any of us. Not one of us has it all perfected, not one of us is able to judge another, able to cast a stone. Not one of us is so right.

Faith is so hard! We are instinctively (because we have sin in us) so legalistic, so prideful, so quick to be disappointed, quick to fear, quick to judge. We look at the world and see the wrong in other’s. The bible was recorded for each of us, individually.  It is the living word of God written just for each of us, for our own personal journey with our Father.

We can get so weary on this road at times. This world can be hard on us. Mostly because we look to the world for our perception of how it should look and not to the gospel. The gospel is clear! It’s going to be hard, you are going to mess it up a ton of times and it’s going to be amazing, mind blowing beauty.

So many of our scriptures remind us to not love the world but rather the creator of the world; to not grow weary in doing “good”, to not grow weary in the race-he isn’t talking about a physical race.

There is the Facebook factor, the self-help factor, the constant barrage of comparison; The need to fit in, the need to belong, the need to be happy.

Here is the truth.  If we acknowledge that God is sovereign,then everything else is less than. It means He is in charge.  We have not just a worlds perception but even worse, an American perception of how it’s supposed to look.  The pursuit of happiness. Let’s remember the woman holding her starving child in another country, or let’s remember the woman who has to hide her faith or be murdered, stoned to death. If the teaching/lesson from the scriptures are not true for all, it’s not true at all.

God in the Gospels reminds us to set our sights on Him. Paul reminds us to keep going even when it’s hard. To be a beacon of hope, not perfection, but hope. Hope, even when, not if, but when, it gets beyond difficult.

If we believe we are set apart for heavenly places, then why on earth would we let the sinful side of this dark world bring us down?

The Sermon on the Mount puts everything into perspective. Everything comes back down to us; Our relationship with Christ. Do we really believe what He is saying to us? Do we really believe He came to set us free? Do we really believe we are solely responsible for every thought, every word, every reaction and every response? Do we really believe that when we submit it all to Him, process it all from a faith journey rather than it being all on our shoulders, we are forgiven, cared for, provided for,  free?

If we really believe His words, there would be no room for offense, for fear, for self-focus, for longing, for weary.  We would not put people in a position above him to be able to affect our peace, our hope, our joy. But, He knew our journey would be hard here, so He provided us the grace when we mess up. Which we will and do, constantly.

Being a christian is not about being any single way, not about being so great at this, it is a state of constant turning back to Him and humbling ourselves and saying “You have this, I surrender, I trust you, I believe you are providing all that I need and protecting me even when I can’t see it, I believe you will work this all out for my good and your purposes. Thank you. “  That’s the light that shines in us, our joy that spills over from that kind of love and hope.

If you read the Psalms in order, it can feel so much like our lives. Psalm 19 is so beautiful, so full of perfect worship, Psalm 22 is so stressed out, so rock bottom, then Psalm 23 is so perfect. David was a mess! He had family dynamics, he cheated, he had not just one but several wives. It wasn’t about him, but rather we were gifted the beauty of seeing what surrender and a seeking heart looks like. That is faith, that alone is a such a great lesson. This will be our walk and our journey until the day we are made whole and perfect in heaven with Him. Not about how well you do, it’s about continually turning back to him, continually remembering. Continuing to love Him with your whole messed up, broken heart. He is the Lord your God and He is doing a beautiful thing.

Even when you can’t see it. Thank you Jesus! This is where our hope and joy come from! Hallelujah what a savior.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%205-7&version=NKJV;MSG

Re-done

2 Dec
If I were to come up with a description for the past decade it would be Re-Creation.
I went back to church 10 years ago this month. I remained unable to really connect the dots of faith to my why until July 2010. Entering this decade brokenhearted, lost and so unsure of my why; ‘Why was I here? What did I have to live for? ‘ These were some very overwhelming questions for me.
I often quote my friend Pastor Brent Knox.” I am either in a trial or between a trial.” Such truth!
Nothing lasts forever except The One who created it all. No trial, no moment. But, His love endures forever.
Isaiah 40:28 says “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.”
Endings are as much a part of life as beginnings are. Grief and joy, peace and struggle, gain and loss…. Nothing is without meaning and value, but nothing is done without Him beside us and the Holy Spirit within us. He is sovereign. Always. We choose to trust in faith or struggle alone.
This is the hope I hang on to every day. He has it all figured out, and it’s all meant for my good and His glory.

There is perfect peace to be found in the bumpy journey, even when it all falls apart. I am so grateful to have found this joy. This life is so not easy, and it will only become more difficult as we grow older.

Joy isn’t happiness, joy isn’t laughter. Joy is deep. It is resting assured in faith that I don’t have to have the answers, that I am deeply cared for, loved beyond measure, I am not alone, and one day, this will all be new. I will live forever with Him.

Joy is pouring this truth into another life;Being able to be completely transparent, no longer having to pretend I have it all together. I don’t!

Joy is knowing that even if I made a huge mess of a thing, even if all the pieces make no sense; I don’t have to have the vision of the future. He does. I just need to be so in touch with Him, so patient, so steady.  He will not leave me, nor forsake me. Men may leave me. friends may, but not God. Joy is confidence in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The one truth remains, our lives are still so rich with blessings. Our trials become our lessons and the lessons become our testimony. When we give them all to Him, He uses our difficult testimonies to bless other’s.

This heart is so grateful, even for the hard, the goodbyes and the trials. This girl is glad for the decade of crazy, coming to a close. This girl is grateful for every mistake, every tear cried, every lesson, every sorrow. Without each of them I wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t be where I am.

I love this re-creation of me. He is pretty smart!

Phillippians 1:6 “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

A Case for Hospice

19 Oct

By Beckie Halaska

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No one wants to hear the word terminal.  We hang on to hope, we deny it, we ignore it, we avoid it.  I have this conversation with families that are not ready to process that word. Not ready to hear the word Hospice. These are very difficult words to process.  From a daughter’s perspective, let me say, I understand.

Some of us will be fortunate enough and slip away, gently in our sleep, some will leave us by accident. Most of us however, will face an illness that will eventually cause our demise.

The absolute truth is that we cannot escape death. We can however begin to embrace it and somehow do good in it. We can mourn it and celebrate the days left along with our loved one. We can talk about it; We can support one another through the journey; We can celebrate every day of life even more.

I work in Hospice, yet, Hospice still remained a difficult discussion for me, and with my family.  Hospice is a word that instills fear because it sounds like death. It does mean acceptance of the end. Truth is, when hospice is brought on board in a timely fashion, they can help you begin your end of life journey, living to the fullest with the time you have left. I strongly advocated for Hospice to be on-board as soon as possible, beginning the discussion as soon as we heard “Metastatic”.  It’s not easy being that person, but I know from my past history with hospice, what a blessing it can be.

From a daughter’s perspective, my mother lives 3 hours north of me. As she has become more frail the past couple years, I do my best to come see her frequently, to spend time with her.  Before Hospice, I didn’t come every weekend. I came when it was more convenient for me, I suppose. I was still able to take my mom for granted. Which is a place of comfort for most of us.

My greatest gift of hospice, so far has been no longer taking her for granted. I spend every weekend with her that my siblings are not having one on one time with her. My conversations with her have been more important. Sometimes, she simply just holds my hand and looks at my face as if memorizing it. Everything  has become more important.

Now we are slowly transitioning to the last days. She is weak, mostly sleeping. Now we watch her sleep. Waiting. Waiting for her to need something, or wake up and want to talk.  My stepdad and her sit holding hands and speaking gently to one another.

When I got the call yesterday, telling me I needed to come, driving the 3 hours through a tropical storm to get here, was just added stress. Seeing that the symptoms were progressing rapidly and we had a sudden decline, this is the case for hospice: I had a number to call, someone to talk to. I had a nurse at bedside within an hour. We had new equipment, new medications, new plans of support. We had symptoms managed and new reassurances that everything was okay again.  We had peace. If I were to describe our evening now, it would be tranquil.

This is the case for hospice. This is my passion. This is the reason I want everyone to know what the beauty of Hospice is. My mother isn’t “in hospice”, Hospice is not a place. It is a service that is provided where ever a patient calls home. My mother is on Hospice Services: She is in her own bed, in her own room, in her own home, with her family lovingly supporting her. We have help at the other end of a phone call. We have support, education and medications to make her very comfortable. (She still is not on Morphine, another myth). She has just days to a couple weeks left. Only God knows this answer. She is still the energizer bunny, strong fighter that she has always been.  She is sleeping comfortably with us nearby. We read to her, we talk with her, we watch her sleep. We rest, we visit, we process.

Oh, what a joy, to share this precious time with her. What a blessing to support my stepdad in his care for her. There is nothing more precious than a really good, timely referral to hospice. I will never stop advocating for this amazing blessing… And I get to do this for a living.

Precious Time

1 Oct

I broke a mug today.  Not a big deal on most days, but this morning, my broken mug became my catalyst for a good cry.

This is a daughter’s hospice story. This is end of life. Finding joy and grief so intertwined. This is love.

As my mother nears her end of life, I am still learning from her. She is still the teacher. Her peace is calming, reassuring. Her strength still shows, though her body is so frail, the strength of this woman’s soul is very present. Her faith rock solid.

Tears fall, but there is also a smile in my heart.  Grief is like that. My siblings and I are all gifted this precious time with her. Each of us spending our one on one time with our beautiful mom; To care for her, sit with her, talk with her as months turn to weeks and weeks to days.

My mom has done the unimaginable in this life. I think I am only really seeing ALL she has done in her lifetime because I can’t take her for granted any longer. I am so blessed to have this time with her, to have the gift of complete awareness of my mother, who she is.

Born with a heart defect, I think there was a part of us that always worried we would lose our mom. I also think ,because she always seemed to just take stuff in stride and bounce back, we grew to believe she would beat everything that came her way.  I think it made it hard for us to see our mom aging even.

As kids, the thought of losing our mom wasn’t even remotely an option for us being that our dad was not able to care for us with early onset Alzheimer’s. My mom didn’t have options, she still had little ones to raise. My mom always just did what needed to be done. She even crossed a picket line to feed her babies and keep a roof over their heads. She worked 4 jobs. We as a family learned what teamwork was and what hard work and tenacity can do. We also learned to enjoy life. We learned to value one another. What I find so remarkable is that she actually went back to school and got her Master’s plus 40. She is so amazing!

Through all of this trial and difficulty, she remained elegant and kind: Proud and strong. She beat breast cancer, she had oblation for her heart defect, collapsed vertebrae and ocular melanoma (her metastasis is from this, 16 years later, crazy!)  She never stopped, never stopped pushing through. I think there is a part of us that keeps think she will push through this too…

But she won’t.  Our beautiful mama, our energizer bunny is tired and even though it’s hard, it is well with my soul.

This is the gift of just being, of allowing and accepting my mother’s end of life instead of fighting it. Being strong doesn’t only mean choosing medical interventions, robbing one of quality.  This time of embracing my mother’s ending has been a gift. A beautiful gift of valuing and enriching this incredibly important relationship.  I could not be more inspired to do what I do every single day.

God is getting a pretty amazing angel soon, but not yet.  Today we still get the gift of more time.  I dry my tears, and I smile because today I get to do, be, affect, love, laugh, cry, feel. Today, I still get to call my mom and say, “Hi mama, I love you”.

“You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life.”

-Dame Cicely Saunders

Still Someone

19 Jan

Beloved wife, soon to be ex; woman without her spouse, hear me. You were tossed aside as if it didn’t matter. There are so many intense emotions you feel, but when the waves are really rough, there is also a very steady truth underneath the dark, underneath the pain. There is a foundation of truth and faith so tangible that I beseech you to sink your whole grip into. Grab hold and hang on for dear life.

Our God hates divorce for so many reasons.
His plan for marriage was for two to become one; Inseparable. But now you are only one, severed and left to bleed. It is a ripping apart, a death for you. You have grieved and mourned it deeply.
He created marriage for us to help one another. You fought so hard for so many years, I know. He created marriage to help us walk through our lives with a helpmate. To prepare us for the day we meet our bridegroom. This is the piece missing in our churches. This is the piece society leaves out.

It will take a minute to let the aloneness become a comfort. It will feel like hell for a long time.  But the day will come when you have peace again…Maybe, for the very first time.

I know how you cry at night, every night. I know you have blamed yourself; I know you have blamed it on the other. I know you have tried to stop loving the one that no longer loves you. It is a dark and painful hell that none of us want to walk. When we divorce, we all have to go through each step of grieving the death of our other forever half. It is a death for us as difficult and tangible as the death of a loved one. But no one sees it like that. You are suffering and smiling as if you are stronger than you feel.

Trust God with every bit of hurt, every lie told about you, every friend lost during the divorce.  Trust Him when your spouse moves on quickly. It is commonplace, the one that jumps, replaces quickly, if not before. The one that is far from God has a hole they need to fill desperately and they do so, quickly.

You, the one caught off guard, is just worried about surviving. But look at you! You, on the other hand, have braved every awful, heart-wrenching night.  You learned new things, you became empowered in ways you never thought you could. You allowed God, out of need, to become your partner and provider. Look at what He did! With you, for you and through you. You had moments of panic and mistakes but you learned so quickly and altered your course back to His plan for you. You trusted Him in the dead of night to be your husband. You barely have enough to eat most days, it’s been so unfair, yet, you played so fair. Always fair.Now God will set things right.

You have lost people in this process. Let them go.  Not everyone is meant to be here when you don’t just survive your divorce, you soar!  Rejection is part of divorce. You have people that will never leave you, never give up on you, never pick a side. Never hurt you by not seeing how deeply your wound goes. You made new friends, we do that. God brings us healer friends, the ones that understand exactly what your world looks like and what your words mean, even if you didn’t know how to say them.  Friends that will always keep you on your path and point you back to Him.

And God.  He was there all along. You began to talk with Him more and more. You exposed your complete heart to Him. He knew it anyways. He sat there beside you, whether you reached for Him or not. He is always ready to refresh you, he was already to catching your tears, each one, in a jar He keeps forever. Your tears are so important to Him.  Even as other’s listened in on your prayers, your conversations with God, with friends, you just let God have that. You have given justice back over to God. This is His justice now.

You are stronger than you know my friend. Stay true to Godly truth. Stay true to God’s word. That is where your real healing comes from. People will believe all kinds of lies. You just stay with your moral compass, Our Lord. People will take sides. Let them. That is their cross to bear and isn’t about you. Just keep your eyes on biblical truth and God’s omnipotent, sovereign, all knowing, all seeing, ways, hope and blessings. He will never reject you, never take sides, never hurt you.

That is a beautiful, amazing place to be; With Him. Your world will only become more and more beautiful. Let Him show off for you. Let Him heal you. Let Him restore what the Locust has tried to destroy.

A family is broken now, yes. But God uses broken people, and He binds up wounds, making you better than ever. He will make beauty from these ashes. He always does.

Trust in Him. Do not dwell on the things of this world. See His Love in all things. Trust with unshakable trust. Let these waves wash over you and keep your eyes on Him and He will restore your peace, you will be loved beyond measure, you will want for nothing.

Amen.Amen. Amen.

Hope

3 Dec
I saw and felt the hand of God today. He moved in our church in a powerful way and when He moves a body of the church, it is palpable and just moves me so much. The message was so relevant and powerful.  When He is so present, so overwhelming in His power, it wakes us up. We come back to Him.

There has been so much sin against God, and so many of us (mainly women and kids) have suffered from covenants broken with God, with us. Families are being torn apart by sin. Satan has been working overtime these days. He knows his time is coming to an end and he is working overtime. 

Even as I love my Father,my savior, my Him so much, even as I climb into my faith…I see so much weakness in my trust. I have so much brokenness in me; Cracks.
Logically, I have amazing wisdom that He has shown me. Growth that should be evident at all times, but it isn’t. Applying it fully, owning it and knowing it to be yours are not as easy. Flesh makes faith so difficult, emotion makes it so hard. The liar, Satan, capitalizes on that weakness. 
When someone does something that is obviously outside God’s word, it is easy to focus on their sin. In the end, it isn’t about them, it is about us. We must, must, must remain in the word, even when we don’t feel  Him or feel the emotion or connection to it. We must be transparent in our own shakiness of faith.  We must seek the Holy Spirit; Our Counselor, guide, Truth teller, our compassionate friend. He holds us when we seek Him. He protects us from becoming too out of reach, too bitter, too angry, too selfish, too hurt, too scared, too weak.
Today I am eyes opened, and fully humbled before him. I have always promised to be transparent in my walk. Truth is, I have been very strong in my walk through divorce and I have been completely a hot mess of sin in it. I have hated, I have gossiped,I have judged and I have bore resentment. I have felt very sorry for myself.
I see my own sin, my own discouragement, my own need for the helper, the counselor, the convictions. My own struggles with my faith, my Holy Spirit relationship. I have shut down in a way I never have before in my life, especially since I found the Holy Spirit in the first place. I have allowed Satan to tell me I am worthless, not lovable, that my love was not good enough, that I am not good enough and I wasn’t worth the same forgiveness and efforts I gave.
In the end, isn’t that saying Christ isn’t enough? Isn’t that calling Him a liar? Isn’t it saying I am so powerful, that I was the reason it all was such a mess, so hard?
 
The truth is, at times, I don’t trust God. Truth is, at times, I feel He didn’t protect me enough, that the Holy Spirit didn’t speak to me loudly enough. That I caused and deserved what happened.

This broken world can just be too much sometimes and I can become so weary, but today.. I was reminded that I am whole in Him, I can feel this broken, this beaten, this lost and still be held so close. He is holding me so tightly and I have been so lost in my own suffering to see Him. He told us we would suffer!  He also gave us all the tools, all the directions, all the promises and everything we would need to remain strong and full of His light. After all, in the end, it is all about Him, it is all for His glory. 

The truth;  The covenant was broken with God, more than with me. Truth is, my love was very real. My covenant was whole and unbroken. I am still His, and honored Him.  The truth is, He is bringing people beside me, people that are building me up. I found myself alone here without family, barely knowing anyone and suddenly I am surrounded by women that love on me, men that encourage me and kids that need me. He is everywhere…. I am just not seeing it, not believing in it. I am not trusting Him with my heart. I put the brokenness of man on Him. Blamed Him for our fallen nature.

He is enough. He is more than enough. He is everything.  When I am weak, He is strong. He is everything He promises and more.

This is my Christmas wish. To unwrap this gift and put it on and to never take it off again. To be so solid in my faith that I never waiver, never get shook. Truth is, if I did that, I wouldn’t be me. I am like Peter. But our love is pure for Christ. If I was so put together in my faith, I wouldn’t be able to be just like the rest of the broken world. I wouldn’t be the light of hope that we can be so in need of Him at all times, in all circumstances, and to remain so vigilant. Transparent. Hopeful.

God with us, Emmanuel.

John 16:7 (AMP)

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the [a]Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you].

Acts 2:24-28

24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
    Because he is at my right hand,
    I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence.’[e]

Leggo My Ego

16 May

Every day, as I head home, I begin to cry. I wonder what people on the road think of me as they pass.As the days turn into nights, my mind begins to betray me.
Thoughts of what if’s and why’s, my strength turns into insecurity
I wrestle with the words God says about me and who HE is, and begin to listen to other voices.The storm that I allow to be weakness in my heart leaves me wondering what I have done to deserve this.

In my study of Esther, I am realizing something so profound. I see no difference between pride and meekness or insecurity.  If you feel entitled to something you are either going to feel slighted or you are going to want recognition. It is ego. God will take you down from that mountain in a real hurry.  We either lament not having what we thought we deserved or we take credit for what we think we deserve.

Haman in Esther (Esther 6) was an insecure man that longed for recognition. He needed to puff himself  up with false pride and envisioned great honor for himself. He had a very dark heart, clouded by his own needs of entitlement. God humbled him in a moment.

Ego is a tool of Satan whether your ego is bruised or puffed up. You may not be arrogant; You may be insecure instead, but don’t think for a moment that this is humility. It is so ego driven, and because you think it isn’t self-centered, you may feed it more frequently than someone that is arrogant may. You may be easily offended, you may feel slighted more frequently, hurt deeper than most. You may focus more on what you are getting verses what you think you should be getting.

Humility is the opposite. Humility is only full of worship. Humility isn’t self-seeking in any way; It isn’t self-satisfying. Humility isn’t self-deprecating. It is a dying to self (ego)and knowing your worth. How we find true humbling of our self, is to look up to Him in full on worship and faith (obedience), regardless of where the latest trials or successes have taken you.

When you are truly humbled in your experience, though you feel the pain of trial,  you will know you are exactly where you are meant to be on this path of life. Humility let’s see that even though everything looks shattered and war torn, you can breathe. You can sigh deep within your heart and know, really know, that this is the plan. It is good.

It is painfully difficult but it is good.

Letting go of ego, starts with worship. If you read David’s words in Psalms, he often begins with statements of dire conditions and pain of heart. His circumstances are awful. But he turns to praise and worship of who God is.  I am turning to worship. I am worshipping Him for all He has planned and for all He is doing in my heart. He is removing all seeds of ego, He is replacing ego with humble and noble fearlessness*. He is reminding me of His powerful love and mercy. His Grace is pouring down on me in so many ways and when I am lost in ego, I miss it. I don’t want to miss that!

As a woman of faith, I have courage. In Him I can do all things for He gives me strength.  I am brave (in Him). I am strong (in Him). I am loved (by Him). I am purposeful (by Him). I am gifted (by Him). I am not alone (with Him).

I don’t have to earn anything. Not respect, not honor, not my place in Heaven. I am an heiress. I am in the will. It isn’t about what I do. It isn’t about my worth. It isn’t about me at all. It is who He is. It is what He has done. It is His love for me. I am worth more than rubies to him. I am His and He is mine.

Peace like a river. Even in the painful times. I trust in a perfect Father and believe Him and who He tells me He is. He is working out everything for my good. Yeah!

*Noble fearlessness is trusting in a higher purpose for every single what if, and why. The root work for noble in Hebrew is the same as Valor.

[b]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies. Proverbs 31:10

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose Romans 8:28

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11