Most People Are Barely Hanging On

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I’ll be honest with you, there are moments when my heart is so heavy. There are many times when I find myself fighting back tears. I mean, yes, I have my own issues and problems that I am dealing with, as we all do, but I am really talking more about feeling compassion and empathy for others. I don’t know if it is an age thing or because I am choosing to slow down and listen to other people more.

I want to try, really try, to have eyes like Jesus. To see people the way He sees them. The hurting, the tired, the forgotten, the needy, the scared, the overwhelmed, the anxious, the pained and the lost.

Struggles are real. People hurt. This broken world tips sharply on its axis, making us all dizzy from the pain… Dare I say that anyone who says they don’t suffer is lying to you? Or to him or herself?

As a child I used to wish I could have the super power of reading peoples minds. I thought it would be cool to know what they were thinking…a great party trick. The decades have slipped past and although I have never been able to read minds, I have gotten better at reading hearts. (Thank you, Jesus.)

*A student who anxiously tells me, “I hope my grandfather makes it to mine and my brother’s graduation. I told him he has too, but I just don’t know. If he doesn’t, I will be so sad.”

*Aging parents with hard diagnoses, having to live with something they never asked for. Grown children realizing that time stops for no one, including their parents, and that particular knowledge is difficult.

*The young adult who finds himself in a place of his own making…realizing it is not where he really wants to be. Each day the work to change is hard and he is tired.

*The young woman who constantly wonders if she is good enough?

*The new parents who are outwardly excited, but inwardly terrified at the realization of being mom and dad, and doing it “right”.

*The man whose job is on the line, and he feels he is too old to start over.

*The woman who is divorced, raising her kids and working hard to provide.

*The children who make the poor choices.

*The babies that are caught in the middle.

*The friend who cries in the shower at night because life is overwhelming, but smiles during the day.

*Prayers during surgeries.

*Crying over the death of loved ones.

My prayer is to have the eyes and the heart of Jesus for others. To meet people where they are at. To hold a hand…to hold a heart. To sometimes whisper words of comfort, or have a shoulder to cry on. To talk to them, or just be quiet and listen. Help where I can, and stand back when necessary. I don’t always know the right thing to do but, I am trying….. Thank you, Jesus.

When the Lord <Jesus> saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” Luke 7:13

Seeing the people, He <Jesus> felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36

When He <Jesus> went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. Matthew 14:14

…and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him! John 11:34-38 <after His friend, Lazarus, had died>

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One <Jesus> who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

Walking Through Unfamiliar Territory

It has been months since I have made a blog post, three and a half months to be exact. I miss not blogging, but for those of us that live our lives know, that sometimes the day to day can bog us down. I wanted to write but, I was tired. I wanted to share but, I was busy. I thought about typing but, duties called. Now finally, I have a few minutes on a sunny September afternoon to post on what I am thinking at this moment in time.

Life is hard.

This statement probably doesn’t come as a surprise to many. You know. You feel it too. I’m currently fifty-one years old. Most days in my own head I feel younger, like I don’t belong in a body that has already lived through five decades. The truth is, I thought when I was in my fifties life would be easier. Young enough to still enjoy life, wise enough to appreciate it. But, it isn’t easier.

Kids grow up. They make their own decisions. It doesn’t matter whether I agree or disagree with choices being made. Sometimes the thought of that is freeing and at other times it hurts. Anyone that has grown, twenty-something children probably understands what I am saying. I have to accept that when I look at my children, I am looking into the faces of adults. Adults who are making their own way, in their own time, and I pray for wisdom for us all.

Family members who are facing difficult situations. Decisions that are stressful, diagnoses that debilitate, and an understanding that change is happening. Change. I hate that word right now. When the doctor gives the news it seems so unfair. So wrong. I try not to dwell on things, but the thoughts are always in the back of my mind tearing away at memories.

At times I am strong and fierce. I know myself and understand my role. At other times I am weak from the tears and the longing for what once was. On some days I am fine, happy, and all is well. I feel in control. Other days not so much. That is the thing. I am not in control. I never was. The thought of having control over my life is just a flimsy facade. On days when I let this realization take hold I am so very grateful that I know the ONE who is in control. The ONE who is not chained to calendars and clocks, who is not phased by the movement of time. He who knows each of us intimately and is never surprised by the doctor’s diagnoses, or children’s decisions. Jesus who never leaves me nor forsakes me, who said there is nothing that can keep us apart.

Thank you, Jesus.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… <my words: or doctor’s diagnoses, or growing up children, or autoimmune disease, or mistakes, or misunderstandings or…..anything>

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35, 37-39 ESV

Kicking and Screaming

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Sometimes in life I find myself saying NO. No, to the way things have worked out. No, to plans not going my way. No, to living in the midst of the mess.

I tell myself, I deserve for things to go my way. Right?  I’ve already been through so much.

Unfortunately, many times, God has to pull me, kicking and screaming, into His plan. I only see my problems, but God in his infinite wisdom has already provided my Salvation…..for  anything I face today, tomorrow, ever.

In this intricately embroidered tapestry of life, I often see the frayed edges, loose strings and ugly knots, but God sees the beauty of His work. He views the bigger picture with all its vivid colors, interwoven relationships, and perfect plan.

Everyone knows there are challenges in this life. Some of those challenges are small daily obstacles, and others are seemingly insurmountable, but for those of us that are followers of Christ, I remind you, as I also remind myself, of Jesus’ words……..
33 “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 NIV

His words make a difference.

They give hope.

They are life.

 

 

Will You Pray For Me?

IMG_2026.JPGThe whispered words are often spoken in the quiet….the question hanging in the air, being held there by the trials of this life.  Will you pray for me? Sometimes, the person can’t remain quiet, and instead of a soft plea, the words tumble out in frantic desperation. Will you pray for me? Hearts crack wide open, gushing pain, and fear, and sorrow. When our world feels as if it is leaning too far to one side, and it makes us sick with all the unknowns, we often ask, will you pray for me?

Or maybe, we don’t. Maybe we don’t tell. Maybe we don’t ask. Maybe we feel like our problems aren’t big enough to be prayed about. Or are not worthy enough of prayer. Could it be we are scared to let anyone know our struggles….because if we do, they might think less of us? How many have the mistaken idea that being a Christian means always having it all together? That we can’t share our hurts, our need for prayer…that we need to be strong, toughen up, and hold it in.

This week alone, I’ve had several friends and family tell me of their friends and family who are in need of prayer. A young child, chronically ill, requiring life changing surgery. Parents desperate for healing. A mother of young children just diagnosed with stage 4 cancer that has already begun to spread. Children heading back to school, parents hoping all goes well when their children are away. Safe travel. An upcoming wedding. A child whose cancer has returned. A freak accident that never should have happened…but, it did. A family member that has passed away. A child about to be born. So many things, almost overwhelming……… Almost.

But, those of us that are followers of Jesus Christ, adopted into God’s family, can bring our hurts, our joys, our concerns, and our uncertainties directly to Him. The Creator of the universe, the One who calls all the stars by name, the One who created life from nothing…..big enough for all of time and eternity…..and yet close enough to hear His children when they call out “Abba (Daddy), Father!”  He hears us. He sees us. He knows us. Even when we cannot put into words all the heaviness we hold in our hearts….He understands.

Some people have the mistaken idea that prayer is a passive thing. That it is a last resort. Instead of what it truly is…..the incredible opportunity to talk to the Almighty.

 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8: 26-27 NIV

Rest, Peace, Joy

School is out for the summer, my students are excited. My grad school assignments for the week are completed. I have no appointments today. I’ve already done the grocery shopping for the week. Everything is pretty much done….so I am taking today as my mini vacation. I will blog. I will journal. I will play with the dogs. I will read. I will watch a marathon of X-Files, this evening, with my husband.

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I need today.

Time to breathe. Time to ponder. Time to do nothing, but just be still.

How many times have I been guilty of rushing around, finishing things, checking items off my lists, proofreading that paper, meeting with people to the point of exhaustion?

I appreciate  these days of doing nothing, which are few and far between. These days turn out to mean everything.

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Thank you, Lord……that I can find rest, and peace, and joy in You.

Psalm 62:5 “Yes, my soul, find rest in God: my hope comes from him.” Amen.

 

Fingerprints Of The Creator

The rogue raccoon is driving me nuts. He continues his nightly visits to the barn and eats all the barn cats’ food. Currently the dogs have him cornered under our house deck. They can’t get to him right now, but they are trying….because that is what raccoons do, and that is also what dogs do.

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I hear people say, “If only we (humans) were more like animals. They are loving and loyal.” Well, with some animals that may be true in certain circumstances, but for the most part animals act on instinct and live by the rule of survival of the fittest. My dogs love me, but they will kill that raccoon if they can ever reach it. My cats can be sweet and purring, but become furry assassins when there is a mouse, bug, or small snake involved. Chickens can be cruel. When one gets injured they peck at her when she is down. There is no loyalty or friendship amongst fowl. I could go on and on.

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Even in situations such as what is going on at my house this morning, God reminds me that I am loved. I am different than all His other creations. I am created in His image, and so are you. The image of the Almighty. Just take that in for a moment…..

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26 Then God said, “Let us (speaking to Jesus) make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1

Or the beloved verses of Psalm 139

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13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

You, my friend, have the fingerprints of the Creator, on your soul.

 

 

Father, You Are Good

I found a little treasure when I was out shopping yesterday. A tiny book entitled “Pocket Prayers” by Max Lucado. I was drawn to this book because I don’t know about you, but often times I feel stymied by what I think prayer is supposed to be. How do I really talk with my Creator? The One who knows me better than I know myself? I’ve been praying to Him since I was a child, but here I am nearly five decades later still wondering if I am missing something?

On page seven, Mr. Lucado compiled all the prayers of the Bible into one “pocket size” prayer.

“Father, you are good. I need help. Heal me and forgive me. They need help. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

So simple, but oh, yes! I can relate to these words. They are few, and yet so full of meaning.

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Father,

You are good.…..A good, good Father. You are always good. You don’t know how to be anything but good and holy, and loving, and just. You are the ultimate truth and life.

I need help. Oh, how I need you. Not only do I need you for the hard and difficult things in life, but even those things I consider involuntary, like breathing, are under your control. You know my name. You know every hair on my head. You have already marked all my days in your book. When I call to you for help, you are always there.

Heal me and forgive me. I live in a world that is broken. Those of us on this spinning orb know what it is to feel pain, discontent, and regret. These feelings can weigh heavy on a heart that longs for forgiveness. Freedom from sickness and freedom from baggage, I was never meant to carry.

They need help. I’ve cried, because people I love are hurting. I’ve mourned their losses, I’ve held hands, and heard hearts. Sick beds, and sick souls. People that need help. It can seem overwhelming. Help them to find their peace in You.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your presence. Thank you for your wisdom. Thank you for your creations. Thank you for your death and resurrection. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for life.

In Jesus’ name, amen. The name above all names. The One who is fully God and was also fully man. He who died, so I could live. Savior. Lamb. The Son. The Prince of Peace. Lord of lords. The Good Shepherd. Emmanuel.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17 

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me.” John 10:14