Tag Archives: mourning

Valuable Lessons

16 Jun

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”  Jeremiah 29:11-13 NLT

I lead a study for women. I started this group for women walking alone from divorce, widowhood or never been married, but this summer, God opened this up for all women. It happened so naturally, it could only be Him.  When that happens, there is a magic that takes place, a blessing that comes because He placed certain people together.

Grief is grief, so perfectly shared last night, it isn’t just loss of loved ones, or marriages, but we can grieve our health, or anything we perceive as a loss. We all lose over time, things we value. A friend just lost her home due to fire, a family member just lost their job.

As I prayed this morning, read my bible and thought of our conversations about control, fear and loss, it dawned on me that the root for fear in grief is that we don’t see ourselves or our lives the way God sees us. Yes, we naturally mourn deeply when our life changes, when there is loss. Missing someone or the familiar or what we have had before is natural.

Where we get stuck in loss is when we think whatever we lost, defined us.We fear being nothing without that which we think defined us. Having made us valuable, and losing made us nothing.

I revisited Eve and found this truth in Genesis 3:6. “The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her.”  The snake was able to get to Eve because she wanted to have more. She wanted to do more. She wanted to  know more and mostly, she wanted to BE more. She wasn’t enough.

Somewhere inside us all, there is the fear that we are not enough. It comes alive when we go through our trials, when we are weakened. We become weak in our sorrow, or health issues, our sleep deprivation, our hunger. There are many ways our fears can begin to play havoc with the truth. We begin to compare and fall short.

God already displayed the grandeur and value of us when He created us. We are beyond valuable to him. He tells us over and over, in many ways.  When He created us in His image He didn’t make any mistakes. He made man in His image. Strong and sturdy. He created women in His image as well, though very different from men. He gave one word to name our hearts and it is only used to describe one other heart. HIS. He numbered the hair on our head!

He tells us that He thinks of us more than the grains of sand on all the beaches of this world. 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!How great is the sum of them!18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; Psalm 139:17-18.  

Most of us at one time or another, have lived in a state of comparison. In some way or another. We compare ourselves not just to people, but also to God.  As crazy as that sounds, unless we are fully surrendered, we are trying to control our world, even if it comes from a pure heart.

God doesn’t ask us to be Him. He provides us the Holy Spirit to be our strength where we are weak. He promises to give us wisdom when we seek it from Him. He asks us to humbly submit all the pieces before Him. To trust Him. It is there, in that perfect place of humble surrender that we fully find His Grace and Mercy.

We must accept and battle, what Eve did not remember, the hardest truth to believe. We are who HE tells us we are. He is who He says He is.  Our bodies do not define us. Our marriages do not define us. Our jobs do not define us. Our social status does not define us. Our children do not define us. Even how well we walk with Him, doesn’t define us. We must come to, and then constantly returning, from a place of surrender. Become humble enough to embrace that He is Omnipotent and Sovereign. To stay in worship of Him only. To constantly let go of idols that mess us up!

God defines us and until we actually grasp of the fullness of that we will never have peace.

         

You Know All About Me

139 For the Pure and Shining One
King David’s poetic song
Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.
You perceive every movement of my heart and soul,
    and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.
3–4 You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.
    You read my heart like an open book
    and you know all the words I’m about to speak
    before I even start a sentence!
    You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.
You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way,
    and in kindness you follow behind me
    to spare me from the harm of my past.[a]
    With your hand of love upon my life,
    you impart a blessing to me.
This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible!
    Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.[b]
Where could I go from your Spirit?
    Where could I run and hide from your face?
If I go up to heaven, you’re there!
    If I go down to the realm of the dead, you’re there too!
If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, you’re there!
    If I fly into the radiant sunset, you’re there waiting![c]
10 Wherever I go, your hand will guide me;
    your strength will empower me.
11 It’s impossible to disappear from you
    or to ask the darkness to hide me,
    for your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night.
12 There is no such thing as darkness with you.
    The night, to you, is as bright as the day;
    there’s no difference between the two.
13 You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside
    and my intricate outside,
    and wove them all together in my mother’s womb.[d]
14 I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex!
    Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking.
    It simply amazes me to think about it!
    How thoroughly you know me, Lord!
15 You even formed every bone in my body
    when you created me in the secret place,[e]
    carefully, skillfully shaping me[f] from nothing to something.
16 You saw who you created me to be before I became me![g]
    Before I’d ever seen the light of day,
    the number of days you planned for me
    were already recorded in your book.[h]
17–18 Every single moment you are thinking of me!
    How precious and wonderful to consider
    that you cherish me constantly in your every thought!
    O God, your desires toward me are more
    than the grains of sand on every shore!
    When I awake each morning, you’re still with me.
19 O God, come and slay these bloodthirsty, murderous men!
    For I cry out, “Depart from me, you wicked ones!”
20 See how they blaspheme your sacred name
    and lift up themselves against you, but all in vain!
21 Lord, can’t you see how I despise those who despise you?
    For I grieve when I see them rise up against you.
22 I have nothing but complete hatred and disgust for them.
    Your enemies shall be my enemies!
23 God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart.
    Examine me through and through;
    find out everything that may be hidden within me.
    Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.
24 See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on,
    and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways—
    the path that brings me back to you.

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Small sacrifices

30 May

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family” Matthew 5: 8-9 MSG

Today I had the honor of praying with a mother that lost her daughter. Her not quite woman, no longer child, beloved daughter. Her heart is heavy with grief, a grief I do not know and pray I never do. What I saw in her eyes was something haunted and at the same time, peaceful. Her faith is strong and she knows her child is now with Jesus.

I was incredibly moved by her, but what I found so incredible in her words and heart, was love. She humbly apologized for tearing up, stating she knows that other’s have it worse. She expressed such a gratitude for the time she had with her child, shared a joyful hope of watching her other child grow, she feels blessed to participate in his journey. She was gracious and humbled by the outpouring of friendship she has received from neighbors and family. This woman is strong in Jesus.
Her strength of faith, her tenderness and her sorrow all touched me deeply. Would I be so strong in faith? I would like to think I would. I have had my own grief and found the joy in that, but that took time and my grief was divorce, not the death of my child.

When I see people being so bogged down in their own anger and bitterness, the contrast to this beautiful faith-filled woman is stark. I am not speaking of those that are under fire, or those that struggle with mental illness or chemical imbalances. I am talking about those that are rude or unkind for no apparent reason, those that are so jealous of what other’s have they don’t see their own overflowing blessings. Those that speak out against faith,in bitterness for being slighted, in anger for the life they don’t have, for those that find the negative in every situation.

When you look at the eyes of anger, you are inclined to turn away. This world will tell you to not take it personal, don’t let them get away with it. Christ said to love the least of these. I believe the woman that lost her child but loves the Lord has far more than the one that is filled with anger. We are instructed to be drawn with compassion to love our enemy. We can do this safely from afar or minister directly to the one that is so angry. God didn’t create us to be doormats, through Christ He made us strong and victorious.

The next time someone is rude, rejecting of you, hurtful towards you, pray for them. Instantly. Pray for a compassionate heart. We ask for prayers for those that are reaching out to God already. They are in His hands. Safe and sound. Pray for those that don’t know Him. Pray for those that do and can’t begin to trust Him. To be in relationship with Him.

My heart is so full of compassion for those that don’t know Grace, Mercy, Hope, Forgiveness, Peace… This world is only the beginning. My friend is at peace because she knows one day, she will hug her daughter again. We will all pass from this world. We won’t have the opportunity to do this over. Our actions and our words will stand. Our hearts will be examined, not for how good we were but did we know and share Jesus. Were we transparent in our sin, were we striving to love better, to share the insurmountable, unexplainable Joy of Faith? Not for those we condemned or those we avoided because they were mean to us. Not because we were moved by a woman’s deep sorrow at the loss of her child.

Small sacrifices are as simple as swallowing your pride, loving first and mostly, in spite of.

Love Your Enemies

“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5: 38-48 MSG

New Beginnings

20 Mar

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. ~ Philippians 4:4-9 NIV

It’s funny what we gain from being near to our loved ones physically, and how deeply separation affects us. This is not weakness in trial nor absence of faith. Our heart’s still feel love and mourn loss, because that is how we are designed.

My daughter is moving and taking my heart with her. This move towards the next phase in her life, the next page as a mother, is so painful, yet I know it is right. I am proud of her desire to challenge herself, to not settle, to achieve goals and do what is best for my favorite person in the world. Her move will bring him near to so much family and great male role models. Minnesota is a wholesome, fresh, healthy place to raise a boy such as my grandson. He will thrive there, in the place I love, but for me, I know, with all certainty, it is not God’s plan for me. So, I obediently stay where God has me, and trust His plan for my life.

Transition is so difficult, in a heart-wrenching, rip you to shreds, kind of way. Standing firmly in faith does not mean that we are not susceptible to grief, because honestly, my faith is so strong because of and through, my grief. This is trust at it’s greatest.

So I say goodbye for now and my heart breaks in two, feeling a bit alone here in Florida…and I cry out to Jesus, to my Father, to the Holy Spirit, to comfort me, to soothe my sorrow, and He is there. He comes swiftly and in ways that only He can. He brings me words, He brings me songs, He brings me His Peace,His Hope, His Joy, and I feel content. He is enough to satisfy me fully. He brings me hope even in the darkness. I can’t wait to see where His plan takes me, even through the tears.

This is my walk with Christ, this knowing. Knowing, even as I yearn to stay near to my daughter, nearer still, to my grandson, though it hurts, He has this. This isn’t me, going out on a limb and hoping I am right, this isn’t me believing what I am told, this isn’t martyrdom. This is complete knowing. Knowing my Lord and knowing this is the plan. Knowing the plan will unfold in His time, and trusting in Him, completely.

A friend told me it is my time; To walk alone, and to prepare my life for the next step in the journey.

They are beginning their new season. So am I.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart 
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

1 Peter 1:6 (CEV)
On that day you will be glad, even if you have to go through many hard trials for a while.

James 1:12 (VOICE)
Happy is the person who can hold up under the trials of life. At the right time, he’ll know God’s sweet approval and will be crowned with life. As God has promised, the crown awaits all who love Him.

Romans 12:12 (NIV)
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

She Walked in Faith

16 Feb

I lost my beautiful friend this week. Though I am mourning her loss, I rejoice that her time here is done. She is free from the bondage’s of this world and she is with Jesus.

I feel so blessed that for my comfort and grief, I have my faith, God’s promises, and beautiful friendships to keep my heart set straight.

There is promise in the words of our Father, Hope in our Savior and Peace in the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 34:18(NIV)
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

John 16:22 (NIV)
22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

I want to share some inspiring thoughts on my friend: She touched lives, she loved unconditionally and she walked her talk. We are all broken, but we are all given amazing gifts, as well. Jill’s gifts were Encourager, Mercy and Giver and the Fruits of the Holy Spirit were evident in her.

Jill was so beautiful in spirit, she shone with love; His Great Love. Jill was incredibly kind, humble and she was a stinker. Jill made me laugh, and I made her laugh,what a precious laugh and wicked sense of humor she had, too. Most of all, she loved the Lord with all her heart and wanted everyone around her to feel loved. Jill was not perfect, (to me, she was) but she had flaws like the rest of us. (There is no one without fault, you will always fall short). You will never achieve wholeness until you arrive in Heaven, then you will be made whole.

My thoughts have been around who we are called to be, who we are to one another, what our responsibility to one another is and walking our faith. This world is so unkind, so unforgiving sometimes. We will be disappointed many times, by many people (there is scripture for that, as well). We are to forgive. We cannot walk this world with hate in our hearts. Hate will destroy our peace and our relationships, especially with Christ. True, we are saved from our sins by Grace, we do not pay for our sins by God’s Great Mercy, yet we are called to walk within that belief, as well. We can’t perfect it, we can never be good enough to earn our way into heaven, we can never be flawless, but we know our Savior, we know who we are called to be and we are directed to walk in that faith.

Ephesians 5:15 (AMP)
15 Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people),

This walk means you stumble,fall,and start back on your knees tomorrow. This walk means you focus on His teachings and allow Him to soften you, to take your sin from you, one by one. This walk means you allow yourself to be convicted, to learn, to grow. You let go of shame, judgement and self righteousness. You learn to walk like Jesus; obedient and with Love. You allow yourself to be transformed, little by little. You become more and more whole, more centered. You heal and then you become the light you are meant to be. You find your gifts and you share them with the world.

“As a believer, your question is no longer what do I want to do, but rather What do YOU want me to do, [God]?” (Pastor Mark Ragsdale)

Jesus loved; Jesus loved everyone. Imitation is the sincerest form of gratitude and humble appreciation for our salvation.

Jill loved; Jill loved everyone.