Tag Archives: peace

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.

Follow The Leader

15 Oct

 

How many times have I held myself hostage to shame or guilt; Lost sleep over things I have said or done, things I wish I had done differently?
How many times have I sat in sorrow, feeling like I have blown it all; Blown God’s blessings for me, messed up and knew He must be so disappointed?
How many times will I question whether I am being punished by Him?
How many times do I question my own belief; How many times will I feel too hypocritical? Like I am supposed to be better than I am doing.
How many times will I be offended or feel resentful over things, hurt by rejection or presumed being unchosen?
How many times do we say, I have to do better, be better, watch my words, grab hold of my sins and fix them?
How many times do we want to do the right thing and ask God over and over, “what is your plan”, “what do you want me to do”, “Open doors, close doors”, and become frustrated because He didn’t answer. Maybe it didn’t matter? Maybe it was more about submission than the outcome.

No More!

This is probably the most powerful truth we can grasp. He wants to be in a close relationship with us. He wants to know us. He wants us to know Him.  To submit our will to Him, our independence to Him, our need to fix life, fix people, fix ourselves achieve stuff, to Him and Him alone. To have a real relationship with Him.

If we believe that Christ was the sacrificial lamb, who died and rescued us from the punishment for our sins, that his death was merciful and complete; Why do we throw that away and reclaim the hopelessness of being judged by the law?

The Sermon on the Mount is so powerful in the expression of the true consequence of our belief. If we judge sin, we will be judged by the law. If we surrender sin, we will be washed clean. Surrendering our ability to do to the one that already did, is powerful and because of our ego, very difficult to do. We don’t have to be perfect to know Him. We just have to know Him, seek Him. We begin to fill up with Him, through His word, through prayer, through being still and letting the words wash over us, by journalling, with praise of Him, worship of Him.

Take your tears, your anger, your brokenness, your fear, your hopes, your wishes, your control, your illness, your insecurity, your anxiety, your hopelessness, your joy; take this all to Him. He knows everything and still loves you enough to take it all away and make you new. Build you back up, create in you a new mind, a new heart, a new hope.

If we don’t trust God with our complete hope, we fall short. We, the ones trying to do the impossible-becoming perfect, or running away so fast because we are imperfect, we need to remember who is the only one that will ever be perfect. And learn what His love and death for us, did for us.

We are all sinners.
All are welcomed by God.
We love ourselves and love this world best when we begin with loving God and accept His love in return.
We don’t turn from our sin and with this perfected new self, accept Christ and His Grace and Mercy.
We turn to Him, the only one, that can rescue us and transform us by our own submission to Him

It isn’t those that worked so hard at changing their sins and being good, that will be known by Him.  The ones that knew they couldn’t do anything without having a deep and trusting relationship with our Lord, will be known.

We are so unworthy, every one of us, to sit in Heaven with God, but He chose you, not because your so great, or so perfect, not to be the judge, or the next teacher; not to be the next amazing, not to be the next best, but to be loved by Him, for Him, for this world.

He will transform you, rebuild you, for His purpose. He will not leave that work undone. He did not say you will not leave the work undone. He did not say reject those people, judge those sins as abomination. He said be a light in the world. Know you are a sinner yourself and from that joy of forgiveness, let other’s see what grace is and does.

When the townspeople were set to stone the woman for adultery, Jesus taught the message of let the one without sin, throw the first stone. No one could. But don’t miss the second part of that message. Everyone left, leaving the woman alone there. Jesus is the only one that didn’t leave that woman alone in her sin. He loved her so much even in her sinful state of being an adulterer. He didn’t judge her. He instructed her to not sin any longer. I would love to know her testimony from that rescue, that love, that welcoming.

This is what it means to follow Him. Follow His examples of prayer, of relationship to the Father, to surrender and submit over and over and over again.

Grace cannot be earned; Grace is not the goal. Grace is the gift, the fulfillment of requirements, someone else took the punishment of your sins for you. Grace is the invitation to join Jesus in a relationship.  ALL are welcome to this.

This relationship will be harder, not easier. Submission is hard. God transforms you, and it can be difficult to be healed in many ways.  Remember though; In the perfect garden, Eden, where all needs were supplied, where God walked as a friend, Eve chose deception for more than all supplied needs and God as a friend and Adam chose to please Eve and blame everyone. We are built this way; Imperfect creatures. You are never going to be perfect. Not ever.

Knowing who God is, knowing He loves you, letting that fill your heart, letting that move you and guide you; trusting in Him, through every up and down, every betrayal, every trial, every loss… That is where your purpose and your freedom is found. That is where joyful living begins and endless pursuit of happiness ends.

“For sin will no longer be a master over you, since you are not under Law [as slaves], but under [unmerited] grace [as recipients of God’s favor and mercy].”

ROMANS 6:14 AMP

https://www.bible.com/bible/1588/rom.6.14.amp

“Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” ———-”

John 8:1-11 NLT

https://www.bible.com/bible/116/jhn.8.1-11.nlt

Sermon on the Mount is Matthew 5-7. I encourage you to read this.

https://www.bible.com/bible/116/mat.5.1.nlt

Hope

2 Sep

by Beckie Halaska

God gave my friend and I this word last night. It was just one word. A powerful word.
I have realized that Hope is what drives everything; Everything!
We go on dates because we hope for this to be the one.
We flirt, we share, we open our hearts up because we hope for the relationship to be important, we hope for love.
We begin new jobs, plan families, plan vacations, all from hope.
We fight disease from hope.
We stay in jobs because of hope.
We invest energy, resources and time in the hopes of outcomes.
We go on diets, and begin exercising with a hope of achieving a goal.
We look forward to an event, hoping for a fun time.
We pray from hope, and sometimes we pray for hope.
Today, we pray for a hurricane to move away, we hope for safety, for lives to be spared, for change.

Hope is hugely important and drives just about all we do or desire.
The Hebrew root words to describe Hope all stem around the word trust: To trust, or worthy of trust.  To put our trust in God is to put our Hope in Him.

The entire bible is about Hope. Jesus himself was about Hope. One of my favorite scriptures is the epitome of that Hope. Jeremiah 29:11 “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.”

There is a hope that comes from knowing that at the end of our time here, at the end of this amazing and turbulent world, we will no longer suffer and there will be joy everlasting. What a hope this is.

There is a hope that comes from trusting that even when we can’t see an outcome, with things out of our control, God is still in charge, still working all things out for our good. There is a hope that when we look back on our lives, we can see that we always came out of hardship. All the pieces made us who we are, gave us our purpose.

When you don’t have that hope, when you are trying to do this all on your own, when you have lost the ability to see hope, find hope, we become desolate and alone. We crumble. Sometimes hope is all that is left when the suffering is great. It can be just a thread, but it is life itself. Without that thread of hope, we have nothing.

Hopelessness is a rampant disease these days. People suffering and taking their lives, because they have lost hope. Our world isn’t becoming more evil, our world is losing hope.

In all that I have gone through, in all I have done, I can only give God that credit. It is because I learned from hopelessness, that He is my hope. And all my hope comes from the Lord. I have learned to trust in His sovereignty. I am grateful to not have to shoulder everything myself and I know this world will have it’s share of suffering and sorrows, but my strength and joy comes from the hope for heaven. For eternity.  I can lean on that when all else falls apart. This life is a vapor and it without the Hope of more, it loses all meaning.
Literally no one will know most of us even lived here 2 generations from now. We are not so important to be remembered like that.
However, we are so important to those people we love and those we encounter. We are also important to God.
We can be the ones that light the fire of hope in this suffering world. One smile at a time. We can be the hope that says to one person or many, every day, “I see you, you matter”. “There is still good here”. “You are loved, even if I don’t know you, I know God and He loves you beyond measure”.

Hope. We talk about being accepting, being love, but what we really need to be is hope spreaders.  We need to share what Hope looks like, feels like, and how we found it, how we find it every day.

That is our calling here. That is our legacy for the future generations. That is our light in the dark.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. “- Romans 15:13

Through The Tears

16 Jul

By Beckie Halaska

The thunder rolls, the rain pours down as I sit in complete still and silence.
I am in awe of our awesome God. His power. His love.

I bring my grief and sorrow to Him and just lay it wide open for Him.

I feel a sense of His presence.  When I can just be still, I become so aware of Him around me. My heart is so full. So overwhelmed.

This is a practice of being aware of Him. Seeking Him.
When I stop being me focused, silence the crazy world and be still, alert, aware of Him, He shows off for me in big ways.

How can I not worship this knowing, protective, worthy, infinite, unchangeable God?

I will never be strong enough.
I will never be loving enough.
I will never be whole enough.
I will never be beautiful enough.
I will never be worthy of His beautiful Grace.

It pours over my heart, my spirit as I soak in His greatness.
It is a free gift He showers on me. Over me
His peace is beyond all understanding.
It is well. Deep within my soul, my heart, it is well.

My beautiful Mom knows this God, this rescuer and lover of our souls as much as I do.
It is all well with her soul. This brings me so much comfort.

She may be preparing her goodbye’s to this world , but her joy has only begun.
As the storm gives way to blue skies, I am so blessed by His love and comfort.

As the tears fall, the sorrow leaves.
Because of Him.

Joy overwhelms me, peace that makes no sense in these circumstances, transcends through my whole spirit.

And I sit in gratitude. Such a good, good Father.

Amen.

Little Bits of Wisdom

29 Jun

By Beckie Halaska

God has been really putting some very real truth within my heart.
Little pieces of wisdom, morsels as it becomes my understanding and knowledge.

I am not wise; He is wise. I am learning to be wise, like Him, through Him.
I am imperfect. I have very good moments. Moments that I am absolutely a useful tool for God’s love and grace. I also have moments of pure human emotion and reactions.

I can be very hard on myself, very religiously legalistic, where I expect myself to be perfect. Perfectly His image. That is a lie that Satan uses to make the world think God is not real, that our Christian faith is a joke.
I am so not perfect. I am completely human. Paul really hits home to this point in Romans 7 and 8. I am nothing without God. I will never be perfect. I will need Him always, and without that knowledge, I will either fail miserably or I will take complete credit for everything God has done on my behalf.
I had a few things happen this week that confirm I am hearing Him fully. Last Sunday morning I was talking to God that He seemed to not be close to me. I don’t “feel” him like I used to. I have all this head knowledge, but He feels far away. Later in church, as I was leaving, I saw acquaintances that were sitting behind me, we greeted one another, joked a bit, and as I walked away, God pressed hard on my heart to go back to the husband (If you know me, I have a heart for women and really don’t talk to that many men!) and ask him if he needed prayer and within my soul I knew he did and knew it was health related. He choked up because he in fact, has some very real and very new health issues. God showed off for us both.

Later in the week as I sat listening to a chaplain from work present at a meeting, he shared about how he overcomes his inner voice to minister to people at the commitment center for sexual abusers.
I realized a new layer of truth about God. I have always struggled to understand how God can allow so much suffering here, especially the kids. In that moment I saw the truth. We are here for such a brief moment. This time here is short, and our time with Him is beyond our comprehension. We will absolutely suffer here. Sometimes it just seems too much! Jesus is a perfect reminder of just how much suffering we will have here. This world is hard! We are all so imperfect and there is very real evil here. We are all fragile and suffer illness, abuse, hardships. Not one of us is above it. But God!

This does not take away our purpose here. God is Sovereign over all of it. He knew every single thing you would suffer here and also said He will not leave you alone in it. He never said you will have happiness and joy all the days of your life. You didn’t get the raw deal if you have suffered great loss, been abused or watched a child suffer. Our hearts are too pure to endure it well, for sure. He said, though, don’t focus on this world too much. This world is very hard and broken, your trials will be many amongst your blessings. This world is short, heaven is forever. Colossians 3:2. Heaven is our victory one day. This world will be no more for us and we will dwell in peace forever.

Religion and misled believers, have done a number on who God is. People have misunderstood that our relationship with God is a vertical, one to one relationship. Jesus said over and over that we absolutely cannot judge anyone’s walk with Him. Our job is to love Him so much that we can’t help but have that spill out of us. Our job is to be so humbled by our own lack of ability to perfect faith that we give the same grace to everyone we meet and especially those that harm us, or hurt us.

At the end of the day, it just doesn’t matter who loves us or doesn’t love us. It doesn’t matter how successful we are or if we are learning to be good stewards of our lives. It doesn’t matter if you have walked closely with God your whole life, have a successful marriage and family or if you have just found redemption from your jail cell. God is the equalizer. His grace, His pursuit of you, His dying on the cross for you, His love and plans for you are equal. No more, no less.

I have learned fully that even really bad people can be saved. You can be unkind, slanderous, a trouble maker, a liar, a cheat and still be saved. You can be arrogant, mean, manipulative and judgemental and still be saved. You can be super kind and righteous in your own humble way and not be saved.
It is not what we do, or don’t do. It is not sin, it is not success; it isn’t how we look to the world that saves us.

God is still that prodigal father sitting on the stoop, offering his grace through the sacrifice of His son, simply because He is love. Not because you are. Not because you are without sin. He loves us because that is who He is.

I have come to this understanding of God’s sovereignty. Our lives were planned before we were born. We will go through all of our trials and all of our joys, and at the end of the day, they are all for His purposes. To bring Him Glory. Our real free will is whether we choose Him in it or not. We sin because we have sin in us. Even when we walk close with Him. Period.

As this begins to really settle on my soul, I am filled with such a peace, knowing He has it all figured out. If I could only just keep my eyes on Him at all times and not be so wishy washy… But God.
Yes, He works it all out for our good and for His purposes. Always Grace. Always more grace.
And it is well, with my soul. Amen.

Truth in the Storms

8 Jun

By Beckie Halaska

When storms come, no sign of sunlight
My soul betrays me, waves coming crashing in

I silently cry out, tired from the battle.
I hear your voice. “Look at me love, you will be safe with me”.

Fear seeps in, my mind building doubts.
Reminding myself over again, “Trust in Him. Follow Him. Dive in. “

I cry out for you, that your promises stand true
I give up my need to control the direction of the tide.

This world weary traveler longs to know rest in you.
Longs to know there is no journey too hard for her again.

You grab my heart, as my mind surrenders the fear
Peace transcends. You are here. You are sovereign.

You become the air filling my lungs again.
You are sun in the darkest of spaces. Peace in the hurricane’s that come and go.

Oh but I can get lost in the mess of this life. You never change.
I hesitate a bit as I surrender and say “I need you, I trust you”

And you come. You remind. You rebuild.

And you say… “It’s going to be alright”

Beautiful traveler, there is a future waiting… just a bit more.
I need you strong for just a bit more.

In this world you will have trials, but you are no longer a slave of this world.

You were made for so much more.  I am your strength.

and you say.,, ”It’s going to be alright”.

Amen.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights ~Habukkuk 3:19

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand~ Isaiah 41:10

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding; ~Proverbs 3:5

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. ~ Deuteronomy 31:5

 

 

When Evil Seems to Win

30 May

There is an ever present evil in the world. We can see it every single time we open social media or turn on the news. None of us will be spared evil in some fashion.

When your life has been touched by evil, one of the biggest challenges will be to not become embittered in the battle, especially if it seems to not touch the one that caused the harm.

We want things to be fair, and when there isn’t justice, we can lose sight on what actually is true. Evil may seem like it is winning but the truth is, there is no “win” in evil, only destruction.  Evil also loves to seduce in numbers.

Maybe that is the real goal of evil, to make us really question if there is any goodness left, to stop believing in the goodness of the world. Obviously we know the goal of evil is also for us to ultimately question our faith and hope.

Guarding our hearts against bitterness is very important during this battle. Bitterness can choke out the light in us, God in us. It is a daily battle; A war for our souls.

When we filter our thoughts on what has been done, no matter what has been done, we begin the battle of unforgiveness. When we begin to want justice, we begin our battle against bitterness. The battle will be fought in many ways, but at the end of the day, the real battle with be within your own mind, your own heart.

Trials will absolutely always come. Evil will be at times, be very strong against us. It is a spiritual war and a battle for our soul. Evil will come in many forms to wear us down. There will be attacks. There will be slander. There will be times you are or feel all alone in the battle. You will feel overwhelmed, defeated at times and you will want to give up the fight.

That is exactly when we must stay focused and steadfast in our faith. Practicing even what we can’t feel. Trusting in God’s plan for our lives even when it seems so unfair or worse, impossible. Reading His promises even when we can’t seem to believe it fully. He tells us that His word never falls void. Keep reading it.

Evil utilizes comparison, isolation, judgement and fear. The word of God, prayer and steadfast commitment to Him is the anecdote.

God will always triumph. This is His story. Evil doesn’t win. We may not appear to win in this world, but we are not to conform to this world, we are to remain in Him.

Our journey is not really about our success, how we fit in, or what anyone else does, thinks or says about us.  Our journey is to become Holy.

There is only one absolute truth, we are in a vertical relationship with Christ, He and us alone. There will not be anyone else with you when you take your knee at the throne.

When evil mocks you, pray.  Tell Him your wish for justice, He understands. He believes in justice as well. He is also merciful and gave you grace.

Praying not only for your faith to remain steady and confident, but importantly, pray for anyone being used by evil. That is the greatest weapon we have against bitterness.

Grace.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33