Your part in the story will go on….

Today, I reread an old journal of mine. I found this journal that I kept right after my son Sean died.  In it, I share memories of Sean, and I pour out my grief and sorrow.  However, as I read it–I was struck by a quote I wrote down from the movie, “The Return of the King, (Lord of the Rings). ,  “How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand… there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep, that have taken hold.” (Frodo Baggins). “

At the end of the movie, Frodo says to Sam, You cannot always be torn in two. You will have to be one and whole for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be and to do. Your part in the story will go on.

It struck me because just recently I wrote in my journal: 

Father,  I have been saying, , “You are worthy of loving, You are worthy of serving, You are worthy of obeying, You are worthy of trusting, you are worthy of praising even when my world and circumstances are horrid.”   For one thing–You will always be worthy regardless of my life and circumstances.  For another thing–there are wonderful moments as well as the horrid ones. 

There is my sweet 6 month old grandbaby giving us her mostly toothless grins, and the sweetness and vibrancy of our one year old granddaughter, the charm and laughter of our two year old granddaughter, and exuberance and tenderness of our six year old grandson, the thoughtfulness and compassion of our 8 year old granddaughter.

There are the conversations with my dramatic and daring daughters–where they show me who they are, and I hear about the moments of their lives.  There are the conversations with my usually silent sons, where they let me into their worlds and their hearts.

There are many sweet, loving moments with my servant-hearted husband,  and our long conversations with each other.

There are many, many acts of love from my family.  There is such sweetness in the times we get to talk and the times we have with one another.

After Sean died–I wanted to die too.  But, I knew I still had a job to do here on this earth.  I knew that though I did not know how I was going to pick up the pieces of my life–that my part in the story must go on for many years.   And lo, and behold, I have found that in spite of all the pain, in spite of all the continued pain–that time does not heal—I have gone on.  I have enjoyed life.  I have enjoyed the many, many gifts of life.  I have come to the conclusion over and over again that—”There’s some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”  (a quote from Sam to Frodo–as they fight to save the world from the forces of evil.)

“There’s some good in this world, and it is worth fighting for.”   God is the One who gives us all that is good in this world–and He is worth living for, He is worth dying for, He is worth everything!!  When darkness threatens to fall over our entire world–let us remember–that:

“There is some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it is worth fighting for.”

May We be encouraged!!

Journeying through the land of Disappointment…

Disappointed with God?   This is the title of a book that we were given to read after Sean died.   Philip Yancey wrote this book.  It seems like a sign of arrogance to be “disappointed” with God.  I mean God is God–who are we as finite humans with limited understanding to be disappointed–or angry with Him?

Yet, I must admit–I have come through a time of being disappointed, and angry with God.  I didn’t want to be disappointed.  I didn’t want to be angry.  But I was.   Why?   So many reasons, but the main reason–the reason behind all the other reasons–is because I was struggling to trust God.   He had disappointed me.  He had not met my expectations.  My feelings were hurt.

Did He care?  Did He still love?  Did He still have power?  Why hadn’t He acted yet?  I have been waiting so long?  At least  for a human who has a 70-90 year life span it feels like forever however–not such a long time for God–who is an Eternal Being.

I am reminded of my children when they are waiting for something they desire—I know that they will receive it soon–in a matter of hours or days or months–depending on what they are waiting for–whether it be a treat or an outing or a long desired present—but they do not know they will receive it.  They must trust in my word and if I have not given my word–they must trust in my character and in my love for them–that I desire the best for them and of them.  Many times the waiting process does them in–and the temper tantrums set in.   

I have been struggling with my own waiting process, and while I haven’t been having temper tantrums–(Ok–maybe I have. 🙂  )I have been honest with God.   I have told Him of my feelings of anger.  I have told HIm of my feelings of disappointment.  (Let’s be honest–He knows I am feeling these feelings anyway.)

Yet, I have also admitted that I didn’t want these feelings–I wanted to trust Him.  I wanted to love Him, I wanted to believe the best of Him.

What does that mean to believe the best of God?  It means believing that He does what He does—with all wisdom, all knowledge, all love, all power.  

It also means accepting that there is evil in this world.  Evil is the opposite of God, but not equal in power to God–not even close.

However, evil does intend to steal, kill and destroy—our faith and hope and love–in God and in each other.

I’d say evil has been doing a bang up job of doing that.  

So what do I do when I am disappointed with God?

I admit it.  I am honest about my feelings.  Yet–I am also honest about my wants.  I want to believe and trust in God, and I ask Him for the faith to believe Him, to trust Him.  I am like the man who cried to Jesus, “Help me with my unbelief!”  

Yesterday, I was struggling, praying that prayer–for help, for faith!.  Today, I woke up, and I found myself—believing in the goodness of God and the infiniteness of His Love.  Today, I am experiencing God’s presence, and my soul is rejoicing.

How long will this last?  I don’t know—I’m sure something else will happen that will cause me to doubt God’s goodness and God’s love.  I will have another choice to make about being honest with God about my feelings, and asking for His help.

Scripture is full of conversations between human beings and God–where they were honest about their feelings–and they dialogued with God. Abraham had those conversations, as did many of the prophets–Elijah, and Jonah to name a few. What strikes me about those conversations, is that God listened, and God was tender with them.

I hope my honesty about my struggles will help you—-If you are struggling, and in the land of disappointment.  I hope your journey in that land will be short, but you will learn what I have learned from my own journey—that even though I did not, “feel” God, He was with me during every step of the journey.  And even though evil is trying to kill, steal and destroy us, “If God is for us, who is against us?”  Romans 8:31b    In other words–it doesn’t matter if evil is against us–because the overwhelmingly loving and powerful God is for us–and He will never leave us or forsake us, and nothing will separate us from His love, not even death.

May we be encouraged!!

O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree

Our family cut down our Christmas tree this year!!   We have not done this in ages!!  But this year, we made the drive out to a Christmas Tree farm and spent an hour wandering through the trees—looking for the perfect tree!!  Until finally, finally we found it!!  Then my husband, hero that he is, got down on the ground, and cut the tree!!   This was a sparkling moment for us during this Christmas season.

These are the moments I am choosing to focus on during dark days.   This choice was made after wallowing in dark thoughts, for a few weeks.

This is what was meant by, “ Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8

The passage in Phil 4, starts by stating—“Stand firm in the Lord….Phil 4:1    Then it goes on to tell us to “Rejoice in the Lord.”  Why?  Because …The Lord is near!   Phil 4: 3

Then it tells us to “Be anxious for nothing, but to take everything to God in prayer—and the result will be—PEACE!!”   Phil. 4:4

And then—Finally—it tells us to dwell on the good, the true, the lovely—hence me stating one of the things I am dwelling on in the beginning of this blog—cutting down the Christmas Tree!!

As I stated a few weeks ago—I and my family—are going through a time of shaking—and when that happens—it can feel like one is walking in quicksand—and there is no solid ground.

I have found it difficult to focus my mind on the Lord and His truth and His promises.  I have felt like I am drowning. 

In this time, my most frequent prayer has been, “Help!!”  

Why am I relating all of this to you—because maybe you are in a dark place as well.  Maybe you feel as if you are going through a shaking time.

So—-I am remembering.

I am remembering all the times in my past, that God has brought me through those dark times.

I am reading God’s Word and God’s promises. (For instance, this passage in Philippians 4.)

I am rejoicing—because the Lord is near.

I am taking every anxious thought to God in prayer, with an attitude of thankfulness.

I am focusing on the truth, the honorable, the right, the lovely and anything that is worthy of praise.

I am asking other brothers and sisters to come along beside me and pray with me.  That means—if you are reading this blog—I ask you to pray for some unspoken needs that we have as a family.  Thank you all for praying for us.  Please feel the freedom to comment on this blog and ask for prayers for yourself and your family as well.  I will pray for you!!

I hope you have your own sparkling moments to dwell upon during this Christmas season.

One of the things that I think of often—is that I am loved with an everlasting love.  My family is loved with an everlasting love.  You are loved with an everlasting love.  Your family is loved with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)

May we be encouraged!!

Give Thanks

We are approaching Thanksgiving—the day we have set aside as a nation to give Thanks to God for all the blessings He has bestowed on us—as a country and as individuals.

I want to share a video in which people discuss giving thanks to God during one of the most stressful and tragic events of their lives at that time—the Great Thompson flood.  Why—you may ask, is this a timely video? 

I believe our country is going through a stressful and tragic event right now.  People are suffering physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually.  Our nation is suffering.  The world is suffering. 

In this video—a few people retell the events of July 31,1976—the night of the Great Thompson Canyon Flood, in Colorado.   7 women on staff with Cru lost their lives in that flood.  A total of 144 people lost their lives in that flood, and 88 people were injured.

Ney Bailey said that she almost lost her life 3 times in this flood.  She said that when she and some others got to a safe place –they prayed, they thanked God.  She quoted the verse, “In everything give thanks because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  I Thess. 5:18

Later in the video, Ney said, “We become bitter to the degree that we don’t give thanks.”  She also said, she did not feel thankful for the flood at the time, and she does not feel thankful for the flood now, but with her will she chose to give thanks to God.

Another thing that struck me, was that they talked about how each of the 7 Cru staff women that died, had been prepared to see the Lord—that God was getting them ready.

We saw this with our son Sean’s life—each of our sons and my husband testified at his funeral—that the last year of Sean’s life, he was serious about his walk with God—making decisions on his own—to draw close to the Lord.   I have seen this in other loved ones’ lives as well—that God prepared them to see Him before they died.  That is such a comforting thought to me.

Is there any encouragement in this?  I think there is—and I think we can find it in the example of other people of faith, and how they reacted during a time in their life where they faced death or faced the death of a loved one.

What did they do?  They gave thanks.  They did this because God tells us to give thanks in all things. 

Why?  Because God is King over all—He is King over the floods of our lives—He is using everything for good for us.  Psalm 29:10   Romans 8:28  

I have found this thought to be true in my own life.

So, this Thanksgiving, let us choose to give thanks to our God in all things!!

Hoping you find encouragement from this video—I have watched it several times—and it never grows old!!

I hope you all have a Happy, Happy Thanksgiving!!!

The Lord Reigns Over The Flood
This was the ad placed in newspapers across the country after the Flood.

Sleepless Nights–A Blessing?

Songs—the music and lyrics— make their way past the walls of my life into my emotions, into my soul, and help me to understand what was previously not understandable.  Blessings, by Laura Story, is a song that has reached into my heart, and helped me comprehend with my heart and mind, a perspective on trials being a blessing. This is something I could not get my mind around in the past.

I found out that Laura wrote this song after her husband was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. 

Perhaps you too are dealing with a trial that seems too hard to bear—and you are desperate for hope and help.

Listen to this song and read the words to the song posted after the song. 

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

I pray that the message of this song, will minister to your heart, as it has to mine, and I pray that:

You will be encouraged!!

When Trials Come

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let Perseverance finish its work so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I am involved in a Bible Study where we are studying the book of James.  The above verse is in the 1st chapter of James, in the verses, 2-4.

The study, written by Jennifer Wilkin, asked some very pertinent questions, and I thought I would share some of my insights to these verses, as they are helping me in my own struggles to persevere.

One of the questions asked was:  What makes it hard to find joy in the midst of difficulties?

This was my answer:  It is hard to find joy because difficulty usually involves a loss—a loss of a loved one, employment, health, etc. — and loss brings pain and grief.   Loss also makes a space for God to act and show who He is and how He can fill us and meet our needs.

I think these verses are saying:  When trials come, (and they will), we can see them as an opportunity to see God and who He truly is.  We can see these trials as an opportunity to see that God is really hanging onto us, and bringing us through this situation, to Him.  He is growing us up to see Him clearly, so that we will know He is worthy of our trust.

When we lost Sean, we saw the truth of this.  We experienced God sustaining us and bringing us through the pain and grief to Himself.  We experienced the reality of the scripture:  God is near to the brokenhearted.   We are seeing God and His love and passion for us, as He walks us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

He will walk us through this life, until we too die, and join Him in Eternity.  We consider these trials a joy, because they bring us to the One who fills us with His joy and the peace that surpasses all understanding.

The verses in James remind me to not give up—because God will never give up on me, and He will never give up on you.  They remind me that when negative thoughts and lies come—to replace those thoughts with God’s truth.   So:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let Perseverance finish its work so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.””

And may you be encouraged!!