Thursday, July 30, 2015

Suffering in Silence

Phil 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

C.S. Lewis...

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”

This post has been coming together in my mind for a long time.  I may have even touched on some of it before.  It is on pain...the good, the bad and the ugly.  Suffering in silence.

For many years, I have been on medicine that has helped me get into remission, but it has dulled the pain in doing so.  I could not cry.  I did not feel happy or sad but was on an even keel, most of the time.  I felt no emotions good or bad, hard or joyful.  I could not handle pain without becoming sick,  so this was a necessary thing at the time.  Since then, I am on minimal amount of antidepressants and psychotic meds.  When they, the meds, were lowered, I began to have severe pain in my cheek and jaw.  I went to the dentist and had serious problems.  I ask my doc, who gave me the meds, if these meds could also deaden me physically.  He said yes.  Not having that pain, did not alert me, there was trouble that needed my and a professional's care, my dentist.

Much is the pain we suffer in everyday life.  Pain signals us that something is wrong.  It can be in us, others, circumstances but something is just not right.  Pain is a good thing...well it is used for good.  It is a red flag, that something is going on in our heart.  We need the body of Christ, His word and the Holy Spirit to uncover this trouble.  To bring to light our fears, our beliefs, or lack thereof and bring them against truth, the truth of the gospel.

The truth of the matter is, I have ran from pain, since I got sick almost 20 years ago. Even before then, I was in denial.  Going into psychosis, is nothing more than an escape from pain.  Removing you from circumstances, that are too hard to cope with, so the mind escapes.  It goes into denial, by removing you from reality.  I did this off and on for many years.  I also would sit and stare.  I would be on the computer for hours at a time.  This was nothing, but removing myself from life.  I would get in my husbands red pick up truck, roll down the windows, turn the radio up and ride.  All the while, running away from pain and from the life God had given me, even from God Himself.

People do this everyday, although maybe not to this extreme.  A husband comes home and goes to the television, maybe goes for a run to get away from it all.  Leaving his family, that has waited on him to come home, all day long.   A wife tunes in television herself, the phone, text or keeps herself busy in the home, while all the time being in a no brain state.  Kids yelling mommy, mommy hours on end and she has no strength to respond.  I have done this through studying theology or reading a christian book.  Learning was my escape.  I wanted to know how to find true happiness.  There are so many ways we do this.  To name a few are our addictions, alcohol, pills, work, spending, eating.  We all have them.  We want relief and comfort.  We try to control with our manipulations or fear. We put up walls and distance ourselves from others. We do not interact with life or those we love.  We are tired.  Think we need a mental break, but in reality we are escaping from a life we cannot handle.  A life we think we do not deserve.

 I have friends suffering now in enormous ways.  I have wondered...can I feel their pain with them?  What if I get sick again?  The fear overrides the compassion and I try to give quick fixes and rescue us all, from a very painful situation by trying to fix things or them or give encouragement when grieving is more the thing Jesus would do.  The thing they really need, is for me to weep with them.  Jesus did not try to fix Mary and Martha concerning Lazarus death but He grieved with them.  He could have said so many things, but He stayed in the moment with them and hurt as they hurt.  Jesus wept.

What if I spiral?  Get depressed?  Get sick again?  I can't go there.  When I feel someone else's pain with them, that is loving them.  The emphasis is not to be on me.  I do not take on the responsibility of the painful situation or their pain, but I share in it with them.  I may need to feel it for awhile and then go focus on other things, to not drown in it all.  But I stay in the moment.  I am intentional with life and people.  I am mindful of all that is going on and ways I can be there and support and love my friend.  I pray for them.  My hearts cry is I need Jesus.

It is through experiencing the suffering and the pain, that we know what it is, to feel and experience the peace and the joy.  It is through suffering we know Christ.  It sanctifies us and gives us perseverance.  It teaches us and gives us strength in our weakness.  It helps us to learn to depend on God and not ourselves.  We cannot run and we cannot hide.  Suffering will come.  God promises it.  There is purpose in it.  The question is... will we embrace it and trust Him to be with us through it all?  Will we suffer and feel the pain of it all, in isolation and silence and denial or will we go to Him, go to our friends, seek comfort and grieve and know Christ more?  Let them share with us our pain, acknowledge it is and feel it, that it is hard.  Experience the fellowship of suffering with Jesus and those who love us?  Will we chose, this time, not to suffer in silence?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Divine Rescue

As the day begins, we grab our coffee and head to the social media.  There we are faced with endless tweets from the wise and ours that have dropped off yet one more time.  We see the vacations and the smiling faces of beautiful people who appear to be happy, wealthy and content.  And remember ours that lacked more than we would like to remember.  People landing new jobs, marriages, and opportunities that seem to point to happily ever after.  Blogs of the creative and overwhelming numbers following their lead.  The wisdom of the bible teaches and we wonder why didn't I read more or pray more.  The podcast that give us instant information and motivation.  Or does it? If they don't I have wasted yet more time in my day.

Do these things encourage us to be better and happier or not?  If they do not they lay us bare in a river  surely to drown us before the morning ends.  We need to not compare ourselves to those whose lives seem more together or whose waste seems smaller and wrinkles less.  Oh and the diets and the self helps for keeping us younger roll in-between all these things.  These things are an illusion at times of what we think life should be.  But it is not the bold truth that life is a struggle.  Relationships are hard.  Money is tight for most.  We get a sudden high putting ourselves in their places and we dream only to be defeated as the reality wears in.

This was such a morning for me.  I woke defeated.  The house was a mess.  The scales said I had gained yet another pound and could I motivate myself for that walk today? Where do I begin? I miss my family and God where do I begin?   I new something was wrong as the energy drained from me.  I began to pray.  To tell the Lord exactly where I was and what my struggles were.  I ask for the divine rescue that He had provided me so many times and I waited.  My feet were heavy and my heart was overwhelmed with just getting through yet another day of defeat.  I prayed for a clear mind and for the depression to leave me.  I tried to refocus.  Maybe if I begin thanking Him and remember the blessings.  Maybe if I claim His promises and remember He is my Rock?  What could He be teaching me this time, another time like the rest.   I ask people to pray.  I knew I was looking to the world and its enticements to bring me the peace and comfort that only Christ could bring.  But somehow I was helpless in my weak but steady efforts to rise above it all.  Only He could make me complete but could I and would I receive all He had for me this day in time?

Then there was the suffering of those I love and the state of our country.  The grief over the unborn babies that were being killed and the christians that were being murder and others who were sacrificing their lives for their faith.  The prejudices, and political battles over who is right and who is wrong.  One more christian had fallen and we were critical and lacked compassion in forgetting we are but a breath away.  The hurt and the pain of those asking for prayer yet one more day.  Do I believe mine will be answered this time.  If so, how and when?  Do I dare pray in my little faith for such big request?  Can I believe for those who also doubt?

As God would design a friend came to visit.  Then another.  My mind was captivated by them and their conversations.  My thoughts were taken off me and onto another, my friends and their lives and concerns.  We laughed and worked a little.  I began to see clearer.  My mind was beginning to give me peace.  My focus on my lack of success and my concerns for the things that did not matter seemed to disappear and the things that did matter I was trusting Him yet again.   Jesus had sent my friends and they had been my rescue.  The rest of the day I began to see my purpose of being here in more of a thrilling way that I had ever before.  Yes there were valleys, but it only led to the mountain top of knowing and depending on Jesus more.  This life is not my home but one was being prepared for me and I had an inheritance that would not fade.  Eternity was going to be glorious and I would never grow tired and weary but be enthralled in knowing God more.  My faith began to be renewed and my heart jumped for joy as I saw His faithfulness to me yet one more time.  I fall down and He picks me up as my dear friend says.  There is hope for a lost world.  We have a Redeemer that makes all things right.  A bright and shining armor that holds a warrior that fights our battles for us and prays for us one more day.  I am reminded of the power and strength that is mine.  The victory that has been won and the King who will never let me go and I rejoice and praise His name.

Monday, July 20, 2015

You are going a way, you do not want to go

It usually begins with a simple prayer.  Something like...Lord I want to know you in a deeper way.  I want to love and depend on you more.  I look for something to bring me to this sweet fellowship of prayer and intimacy with the Lord.  Maybe experiencing Him in the dark morning before the sun rises.  Maybe through meditation on His love for me and mine for Him.  On His rescue of me before time and each and everyday.  Maybe through a song, that has just the right words, for where I am and a melody that sweeps me away.  But more times than not, it comes through suffering and repentance.
This time was no different.  God was calling me to a deeper surrender to know Him deeper.  No, it is not that it is up to me.  I can't even look to Him in thirst and desire without Him first putting it in my heart.  But I can respond to His gentle persuasion.  To His lure.  To the sweet glance, that He gives me when my heart is broken and broken again.  Is there true joy, if there is not suffering?  Is there a whisper that meets you in the middle of it all, that calls you to His side?

The last few weeks have been difficult for me, but a new challenge in learning to work through old hard things.  Things that may never change.  Things I don't like and are uncomfortable for me.  They go against my grain.  Against my likes and ways.  Old patterns and ways I had adopted long ago.  I was amazed.  I did not return to my old nature of getting sick, yet one more time.  Could I really take every thought captive?  Could I really discipline my mind not to reject reality and go to a place where there was safety and peace even though an illusion, away from it all.  In the delusions and illusions of my mind and where it goes, when I think the pain is too difficult.  I put forth every effort, but the human protection that seemed beyond my awareness and control took me to a place of being emotionally detached.  I did not realize it.  I noticed, I felt no pain in these hard situations, but I also felt no joy.  I was mechanically doing the things I needed to do, but I could not keep my heart attached to life.  My mind was clear.  There were no illusions or delusions or intrusive or obsessive thoughts.  I was not depressed or even saddened by it all, for very long at a time.  Then the numb, stoic, cold and harden heart would appear again.  As I began to see this and see it was much, out of my control, I began to pray.

At the same time these things were happening, I was sensing a call by God to do things, I could not do, to serve Him and love others in ways that were new to me and not yet completely unfolded.  It seemed I had prayed for a purpose for so long.  I had thoughts about speaking again.  Illuminations of writing my journey and how God had brought me out of a life of isolation.  A prison of my own making.  I told Him, I would do this, but there was a place I had to go to begin and to know the way.  This is what He was teaching me.  The path to life is through death.  The path to bounty is surrender.  The path to love, is to lay down my life.  The path to obedience is to love Him, more than what I can get.  The path to contentment is to trust Him.  The path to hope and change is to pray.  The path to deep, is not to get into a hole, but to swim to the bottom.  Where the beauty of the ocean makes its home.  In the very heart of God.

As God began to work these things in me, early this morning, the process was slow.  My heart was oh so cold and stubborn.  The bible calls it stiff necked.  I wanted to hold on to me, for a little while longer.  To the things I thought I needed, deserved and wanted to make me happy.  It was all an illusion.  I needed time to think and work through it all.  I couldn't just jump into His arms that were outstretched for me.  What if it wasn't worth it all?  What if I wanted to change my mind?  What if I couldn't love the way He was revealing to me He wanted me to go?  What if the Spirit didn't show up?  All my fears were resolved as I prayed...Lord if you want me to love in these ways you will provide the changed heart and power and strength,  I need to do it and He did.

I have been meditating on the life of Peter.  Peter spoke before he thought, but said what was on his mind.  He said, I will never forsake you Lord.  He denied Christ 3 times, as Jesus foretold.  Jesus ask Peter 3 times, Peter do you love me.  You know I do Lord, was his reply, 3 times expressing the different loves Peter had for the Lord but most importantly, the love the Lord had for Peter.  You are going to go a way you do not want to go Peter, said Jesus.  Peter said, what about John?  Jesus said it is not your business.  You follow me.  Jesus gave Peter the blessing of beginning the church on the cornerstone of Jesus.  Peter was crucified upside down.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Getting back to basics.

Our grandchildren were just here from the city, for about 10 days.  This included a trip to the beach and then back to the farm for a few days before returning home.  I was reflecting on the ways we enjoyed them while they were here and I think they enjoyed it to.  We went back to the basics.  We didn't feel we had to spend a lot of money or entertain them all the time.  They learned to just be, enjoy nature, family and work.  They played hard and they loved hard and they worked hard.  When bed time came they hated to go to sleep.  I think it was because they didn't want to miss something.

They had their cousins and each other and us at the beach.  Of course there were lots of swimming.  They enjoyed burring themselves in the sand and building castles or just digging holes in the sand, filling them with water and watching them wash away as the tide came in.  They went night crabbing on the beach and fishing in the ocean on a boat.  We sat on the porch over looking the view and just listened and laughed and talked.  They and their cousins were inseparable.  They slept together, ate together and just had fun with each other.  They did play games and visit the peer with their aunts and uncle daily but spending money was not the focus of the trip.  The kids were a part of the enjoyment of their aunt Jen and Elizabeth too.  There were times of simple shopping for t shirts, sleeping together, walks on the beach and visits for ice cream.  Birthday cake and the celebration of Paynes birthday.  He was given a journal by his aunt Pat and everyone wrote a blessing and thoughts about how much they loved him.

When they returned to the farm there was a little of a battle here and at the beach to compete with the television and their iPhones.  I know you may not have the resources we have here at the farm but as you  are creative God will give you the opportunity to enjoy your kids and let them live life with you as you both enjoy God.  Let your kids do life with you.  Don't feel you have to give them all the theology at once and entertain them or buy them.  Let them see the majesty of God in the big dipper, the figures in the sky of clouds.  To enjoy God while washing dishes or folding clothes.  Maybe caring for the yard or mopping floors.  The job may not be perfect and it may take a little more time but it is worth it in the long run.  Something I have wanted to model before my family is repentance.  They know I mess up and I want them to know we are forgiven and can begin again.  That I need Jesus.

They would ride the golf cart and sometimes have to push the mini bike all the way through the hills and pasture.  Sweat pouring down their little faces and a smile from here to Missouri.

Our grands enjoyed eating good home cooked meals, thanks to pop, ice cream and m an m's, cheese and pepperoni as an afternoon snack.  They went fishing, played with all three of my sons dogs.  They played in the rain and ran through the mud puddles and even jumped in the pond.  They got dirty and laughed and used their imagination.  They played hide and seek and went fishing with their pop.  We took pictures and captured memories.  Their uncle Lee came and got them almost daily to work the cows, dig ditches, and repair equipment and even bail a little hay.  They rode Lees horses with pop, Lee and Shealey.  At first they were not crazy about the work but Lee was determined to show them how and to show them the joy and rewards of hard work.  We gave them opportunity to help us in cleaning the table, doing errors and caring for each other.  MK our granddaughter, loved creating pictures and doing her tricks to entertain us all.

I don't remember an argument or a grumble for very long.  They were loved and hugged a lot.  They were told how much they were loved and how happy we were they were here.  What we appreciated in each one of them and how special they are to us and to God.  How we love them unconditionally and all the same.  That nothing they can do can change that love.

I was able to take my older grandson Jordan, to breakfast, just he and I.  We talked about his dreams and thoughts and plans.  What his struggles were and his victories and how God had been in his life all along.

The cousins cried as they left each other and piled once again in the bed and sofa with pop to sleep.  The time was drawing near and how could we grab enjoyment out of the last moments with them and their mom, was on my mind.  So I decided the best thing I could do was to help my daughter.  She, of course, was overwhelmed with so much on her mind of what to do to get ready to leave.  I would remember as she shared her worship music loves with me and we prayed for guidance for the remainder of the time.

I am sad they are all gone.  Our oldest grandson finishes baseball for the summer in a couple of weeks.  I look forward to his visits back to the farm, before he returns to college and playing there.  He and me, his pop and his uncle Lee are close and he just jumps in with each of us in whatever we are doing.  He hunts, fishes and works hard.  HIs highlight is what are we going to eat.  We take turns feeding him lol.  He loves being home with his awesome mom who of course spoils him and visiting his aunt Elizabeth who does the same.  It is funny how his heart is so warm and willing.

I am not trying to paint an unrealistic picture.  We, like all families have our struggles to get along and work through our differences, but God has been good to us.  I just wanted to share a few of the ways our grands got back to basics.  I miss you all so.

Grandchildren are Gods second chances for messed up parents!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What do you see?

What do you see when you look at your spouse?  your child?  your friend?  your enemy?  those who believe different from you?  those who are struggling and not having much victory?  Are we full of mercy and love and walk humbly with our God?

Without realizing it the last several weeks I have become discouraged.  It was just like a low cloud hanging over my head.  Some on the things that have happened to my brothers and sisters.  The anger we respond to what we don't understand.  The toleration and the lack of love.  The message of the gospel seemly hurt.  I was grieving.  I became a discouragement and self focused and hopeless.

I began to think, what does the gospel say?  It says Christ has won.  It is over.  It is finished.  We are His and nothing can separate us.  He has brought us into His own and He has defeated evil and satan.

How do I see those in my life?  Do I see the best in them?  Do I see the things they do well or what is wrong?  Not that I ignore sin but is my focus their sin or what God is doing in them?  Do I allow myself to be taught by them.  Is my hope in me and what I can do in this world to change it or in our Lord who has victory over all.

Am I expectant at what God will do today for me and the lives of those I love?  Jesus came to serve not to be served.  Am I more interested in what others can do for me?  Do I treat others how I am treated or how I want to be treated?  Do I see the love and treatment and care others have for me.  Do I live in the grace of God and extend that grace to others?Am I more interested in enjoying people and God than I am about getting what I want in life.  In people changing the way I think they should change.  In me changing as I want and not waiting on the Lord in faith and patience.

Am I giving my heart, vulnerability, honesty and openness to those who are hurting or am I afraid they will hurt me.  Do I know we conquer evil with love?  That Jesus did not come to judge the world but to bring sinners to repentance.  Am I quick to admit when I am wrong?  Am I willing to listen with an open heart and mind or am I thinking about how I can reply?  Do I listen to my loved ones and their concerns and thoughts and opinions and dreams.  Do I love the brother that is not like me.  Not that I excuse his sin or mine.  Even those that sin against me do I respond in anger, bitterness and pettiness.  Do I respond to them in sin?  Do I think I am better than those who have struggled more than me?  In those I would have done it different?  Do I analyze, justify and blame others for me and my struggles and life?  Or do I accept myself and my life and those in my life and circumstances as those God has placed in my life to make me who He wants me to be?  To enjoy them?  To bring glory to Himself?  To give me only good things?  When bad things happen do I question Gods love and goodness for me?

Do I drink in the love of God and others like there is no tomorrow?  Do I breath deep only to dream of the coming Lord and the home He has prepared for me and those who love Him?  Do I face my fears and doubts with a humble courage that trust Him?  Do I ask myself each day what difference can I make in someones life?  How can I encourage them?  How can I instill hope in them and tell them the Love of God that never changes?  Do I catch others doing good?  Do I see the grace in their lives?  Do I build up my brother and sister, I ask myself again.  Do I fight evil with good?  Am I a part of the good or part of the problem?  As I see others to I value them more than myself?  May I remember who I am in Christ and spread the truth to other believers.  May I be full of joy and peace because Christ has come.

Lord change me..Create in me a clean heart.  One that delights to worship you and glorify you and see you in the lives of others.  Give me a life of worship and surrender.  One that knows how to lay my life down for others and pick up my cross and follow you.  One who knows how to giggle, and laugh and be expectant of the best in others.  What do you see when you look at me?  I want it to be Jesus.  I want to see Jesus when I look at you.  Lord change me to a heart of surrender and trust.  May I live today like it is my last.  May I press on in hard times and look to you even when I don't.  May I gain the trust of others and be a safe place to hurt and play and dream.  Give me the eyes of Jesus to see you in my everyday and the blessings that are all around me.  I pray for a thankful, grateful, hopeful heart.  Lord may I let you live your life through me.  May I be one of blessing and encouragement that sees and lives out of the passion, power, joy and peace of the Gospel.

God made Paul blind and then He gave him eyes to see.  Give me please Lord, eyes to see you.  Apart from you none of this is possible.  I need you evermore.  When I look at me there is no hope.  But you hope abounds.