Category Archives: Chronic Illness

I Love Thee

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I saw Dad’s restlessness when I arrived for my night’s stay in the hospital. He had a look of fear and bewilderment in his eyes.  The look that always broke my heart.

After the nurses finished their rounds and things began to quiet down, I changed the channel on the TV to one of those meditative stations the hospitals make available. As the beautiful photography and soft instrumentals drew him in, he began to relax. He watched for over an hour. I’d look at him from time to time and he’d catch my eye… giggle a little… then cry.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so moved before,” he said. “I keep praying the same words over and over, ‘Forgive me, Lord…forgive me, Lord…forgive me, Lord.'”

Some might wonder at his confession, but I think I understood his meaning…

When we are weary, bone-tired, dazed, and confused, wondering if the dark night of the soul will ever end; then, suddenly, we catch a glimpse of His beauty — the wonder of His creation, the soothing sounds of His music — the truth of knowing He is in control hits us.

We are awestruck.

We turn. We refocus. We repent.

He is greater than all our fears.  We know He loves us…more.

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

All That I Need

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Jesus, you know what’s inside of my heart,
When I am coming apart at the seams.
But that’s when my true colors come shining through,
I know that You are the One for me.

A song by Dan Marks, “All That I Need”

Oh, how I wish I had always known this in my innermost being!

I do get glimpses of it, knowing He has been, and will always be, the One who never leaves.

He is the One who will always love.
He accepts me. All of me.
Even the ugliest parts…He has them covered.

He forgives fully and without exception.
I am free with Him.
In Him, I can be me.
(He created me…He likes me!)

My struggle, and possibly yours, is my flesh wanting more.

Why do I keep running to the world?

Why, when deep inside of me I KNOW, He is all I need, do I still look for more…?

Another verse:
When the dark clouds come and bring down the rain,
I know that You will sustain me, Lord.

I surely haven’t always lived that truth.
I have had moments, even years, of living it:

I did get through the miscarriage with His sustaining power.
I did feel His strong hand supporting me through the trials of raising three children.
I was empowered through His strength when illness and homeschooling converged.

I guess that’s why I’m so befuddled with the whys of my most recent years…
…the last five, to be exact.

Why, when I knew Him in victory, did I not hold on to Him in tragedy?

Loneliness, revictimization, fatigue … these are all explanations of what happened within my self … Years of fighting with demons, stuffing the pain, and questioning my illness led to a yearning for relief, a way out of the despair.

That’s when I let go and I let my flesh reign.

I still grieve about it. And, I imagine I always will. He forgets all our sins, but He didn’t give us that ability. When we forget, much of the time it’s an act of denial because we do not want to see the truth of our actions.

Honestly, I don’t want to forget.
I’m okay with the grief.
I’m even okay with the recognition that I did not make a mistake.

I sinned against my husband, my children, and my family.
I sinned against a holy God who gave me the best gifts in life.

I spit in the face of His blessings.

The knowledge of that choice brings me to my knees again and again and again…
Not in self-loathing, or thinking I must continue to ask for forgiveness;
I know He has forgiven me.

I fall on my knees in overwhelming thanksgiving to a great God who loves unconditionally!

So, you see,
I don’t want to forget.
I don’t want to deny what I am capable of doing.

I want to remember the lesson for the remainder of my time on this earth.
And when I get to heaven, then He will wipe away all my tears…

Oh God, help me to remember what I’ve learned.

Your love is all that I need,
All that I need, all that I need.
Your love is all that I need…
All that I need is You.

Miserably Failing People

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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

… Weaknesses are with me for the whole journey.

Paul was particularly thinking of persecutions, but how much more does this passage apply to human frailty, brokenness and hurt? How essential is it for us to be broken, if Christ is going to be our strength?

When I am weak I am strong.

Not, “When I am cured,”
or “When I am successful,”
or “When I am a good Christian,”
but when I am weak.

Weakness- the human experience of weakness- is God’s blueprint for exalting and magnifying his Son.

When broken people,
miserably failing people,
continue to belong to, believe in and worship Jesus,

God is happy.

~The Internet Monk
Read the whole article…it just might change your life…
😉

Bands of Love

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Some of the scriptures He has led me to recently:

I took them up in My arms; but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love.
I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down to them and fed them.
Hosea 11:3

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

I know, O LORD, that the way of human beings is not in their control,
that mortals as they walk cannot direct their steps.
Jeremiah 10:23

I will lead the blind along an unfamiliar way; I will guide them down paths they have never traveled. 
I will turn the darkness in front of them into light, and level out the rough ground. 
This is what I will do for them. I will not abandon them.
Isaiah 42:16 (NET)

But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way, who can’t see where they’re going.
I’ll be a personal guide to them, directing them through unknown country.
I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take, make sure they don’t fall into the ditch.
These are the things I’ll be doing for them–sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.
Isaiah 42:16 (MSG)

He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked.
Lamentations 3:9 (all of chapter 3…wow!)

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
nor the fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
and the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
and there be no herd in the stalls –
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord is my strength;
He will make my feet like hind’s feet,
And He will make me to walk upon my high places.
~Habakkuk 3:17-19

I’m letting these words sink in.
His bands of love will bind this broken heart.
I will recognize His healing thus far, and ask for courage to continue on the path.

“Follow Jesus, I will follow Jesus. Anywhere He leads me, I will follow.”

Please, continue praying for me.

The Healing Path

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“Each day we either live for God or for other gods. In each moment of hardship we fear either God or man. When we choose to worship gods and fear men our lives will suffer an emptiness and turmoil that is not much different than trying to fill our bellies with dirt. At first we may feel full, but in short order our violation of God’s plan will lead to torment…

But God will not let his children wander in the realm of death without giving them some kind of wake-up call.

Relationship with God requires leaving, letting go (of other gods), in order to pursue his promises. He calls his followers on a journey that takes them beyond the limits of their sight. Hosea tells us that God will woo us to the desert in order to win us back to himself…

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. In that day,’ declares the LORD, ‘you will call me “my husband”; you will no longer call me “my master” ~Hosea 2:14-16

And what is the desert? It is the opposite of Eden, the garden green with luxury and life. The desert is brown, rocky, and desolate. It is not exactly the most romantic spot to renew a broken marriage between God and his bride. So why would God take his beloved to the desert in order to restore her? Because only there can he reveal to her the magnitude of his love…

The healing path must pass through the desert or else our healing will be the product of our own will and wisdom. It is in the silence in the desert that we hear our dependence on noise. It is in the poverty of the desert that we see clearly our attachments to the trinkets and baubles we cling to for security and pleasure. The desert shatters the soul’s arrogance and leaves body and soul crying out in thirst and hunger. In the desert, we trust God or we die.

God not only leads us through the desert, but he calls us to walk through the valley as the sun sets and shadows spread across the land. To get to the table set for us by God we are called to walk through danger. Any valley is dangerous terrain. Not only can rocks roll down on us unexpectedly, be we are surrounded by higher ground on which an enemy can perch and rain down assault. No military tactician would willingly send his troops marching through a valley; it is a place of death. And if one must march through a valley , the worst possible time to do so is at sunset when shadows distort and make it impossible to pick out enemies hiding in wait.

Why would God have us walk through danger to get to him? Again, because valleys strip us of the presumption of independence; danger draws us to a greater dependence on the only one who can provide and protect. The desert brings us to our knees with craving; the valley calls us to cling to the hem of the one who leads us to safety. The psalmist says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4)

God is with us. His rod and staff and his sure vision, steady balance, and infinite knowledge of the terrain will guide us as we walk through the shadowlands. But don’t be fooled: His leading does not always guide us out of harm’s way. Rather, God often leads us directly into the hottest and most perilous point of the battle…

The healing path is not a jaunt in the park. It is a life-rattling, heart-revealing journey that takes us through danger, harm, heartache — and ultimately to new trust, profound hope, and a love that can’t be scorched by assault or destroyed by loss. The healing path is glorious, but the only way we will stay on course and resist the temptation to flee to safer ground is by comprehending more deeply the assaults and losses we will face on our journey. In the desert and valley we will pass through the dangers of betrayal, powerlessness, and ambivalence. These three realities will pull faith, hope, and love right out from under us if we are not ready for them.”   ~Dan Allender, Ph.D., The Healing Path

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff will comfort me.”

Hug Him, Please.

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Oh, this is a sad day…

So many memories. He made me laugh and cry and praise my Lord all in the space of a couple minutes of visiting. I enjoyed Big Lang on a daily basis. Some days were better than others, but each encounter was memorable.

It was new for both of us. He’d never known a “you-so-white-suburban-child” and I’d never trusted a past convict with my life.  He let me know I could call him night or day and he’d be there to help.  He’s the one who told me I was “livin’ in the ‘hood.”  No, not South Dallas, but the ‘hood, nonetheless.  He learned that some people had never stepped foot in a liquor store (that would’ve been me) and I learned that some people had never known safety, or freedom from fear.

Goodness.
Now,

He’s gone.

And, he left without me knowing…

I saw him last Thanksgiving, but I’d moved away from the complex. We didn’t see one another on a regular basis. Today, I saw on Facebook that the movie in which he has a role is coming out this summer, “Seasons of Gray.” I went to my site to read about him, and then clicked on his site to see if he’d posted anything new.

“Roderick Lang passed away on Friday, December 14th, 2012…”

It had only been three weeks since I’d seen him. Oh, how I wish I’d called him back the last time I saw his number in my missed calls list. It wasn’t a good day for me. It might not have been a good day for him . . . Oh, please, dear Lord, don’t let that be the day!

He taught me so much in the short space of time I knew him. He struggled, day in and day out, with his past. But, he knew his God and had enormous faith in the promise of new life in Jesus. On his worst days I wouldn’t see him . . .  but most days he was outside, three doors down, sitting on his back patio. And oh, so happy to get to visit for a few minutes! He’d share a funny memory, a joke, or a tall tale just to hear me laugh. He said I had the weight of the world on my shoulders and he just wanted to help lift it a bit.  He had no fear of letting me know my dog looked like she was on drugs and needed a good grooming!  He’d come to the back door, knock, and ask me to join him for coffee on the patio.  Oh, so many memories…

Oh, Jesus.

Thank you.

Thank you for letting me meet Rod.

Thank you for letting him be my friend.

Please, hug him for me.

A huge bear hug.  He’s such a big man…

Please…

Big Lang
Roderick Earl Lang
Rod

Thank you, Jesus, for letting him rest in Your peace.
For eternity.

Big Lang on the set

Yahweh’s Deep Love

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Yahweh turned rivers into wasteland,
springs of water into sunbaked mud;
Luscious orchards became alkali flats
because of the evil of the people who lived there.

Then He changed wasteland into fresh pools of water,
arid earth into springs of water,
Brought in the hungry and settled them there;
they moved in–what a great place to live!

They sowed the fields, they planted vineyards,
they reaped a bountiful harvest.
He blessed them and they prospered greatly;
their herds of cattle never decreased.

But abuse and evil and trouble declined
as He heaped scorn on princes and sent them away.
He gave the poor a safe place to live,
treated their clans like well-cared-for sheep.

Good people see this and are glad;
bad people are speechless, stopped in their tracks.
If you are really wise, you’ll think this over–
it’s time you appreciated Yahweh’s deep love.

You called out to Yahweh in your desperate condition
He got you out in the nick of time.

He spoke the word that healed you,
that pulled you back from the brink of death.

So thank Yahweh for His marvelous love,
for His miracle mercy to the children He loves!

~thoughts from Psalm 107, The Message

The Grace of Catastrophe

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After seeing my favorite opera on the Big Screen yesterday,  “Les Miserables,” I have been singing Fantine’s song and thinking of Jean Valjean’s choices in life.  I read Les Miserables while taking a Humanities course in college.  I fell in love with Jean Valjean, if it’s possible to love a fictitious character.  He is a type of Christ, being willing to step into our mess and carry us through to life (think sewer scene here).  So many fantastic metaphors in that story!  No wonder, outside of the Bible, we’re told Les Miserables is the next favorite story of God’s redemptive power. 

It brought to mind this article I’d bookmarked months ago.  What happens when life becomes messy?  Does grace cover catastrophe?  Oh, yes!  Read on, if you need some insight. THIS is what we can learn, if willing, through the messiness of life:

Life in the Midst of Mess

Jan Winebrenner

What We Really Believe

A. W. Tozer wrote, “The difference between a great Christian life and any other kind lies in the quality of our religious concepts . . . i.e., what we think of God, what we believe about Him.”

Nothing so challenges us to examine what we believe about God like catastrophe.

That our idea of God corresponds as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us. . . . Often only after an ordeal of painful self-probing are we likely to discover what we actually believe about God.

We face difficulty, and we have to ask:
Do we really believe God is strong and faithful?
We face pain and illness, and we wonder:
Is He as good as I’ve always been told to believe?

Death comes, and weeping, and we ask: Is heaven a reality? Is prayer effective? Does God really hear? The struggles and disasters of our lives prompt us to ask these questions, and dozens more. Every tragedy, every crisis, offers us this:

It can be a means of grace—an instrument used by God by which we can cease floating passively on all manner of external attractions. It is by the grace of catastrophe that people sometimes come to themselves and see what is before them as if for the first time. Catastrophe can, like a mighty wind, blow away the abstracting veils of theory and ideology and enable our own sovereign seeing.  ~Eugene Peterson

It is the testimony of the ancients, as well as contemporary saints, that the greatest lessons of faith have been learned against the backdrop of suffering. The theology we say we believe takes root in soil watered by tears and bears fruit in lives characterized by peace and righteousness, lives that delight in the person of God Himself.

The “grace of catastrophe” comes through in places where our theology is tested, our faith forged, our knowledge of God made personal and practical, and our love for Him impassioned.

On the Brink

John Piper wrote, “Every moment in every circumstance we stand on the brink between the lure of idolatry and the delight of seeing and knowing God.”

Our stance is never more precarious than when we are in pain
—any kind of pain.
The voice of God whispers in our souls, “Love Me, worship Me, trust Me.”

But His soft words are hard to hear over the raucous voices in our culture and in our own hearts—voices that shout at us to berate God, to ignore Him and move on in search of other comforts, if there be any—any that don’t wear off after a few minutes or hours.

Still, Jesus calls us to come close, to cuddle in His love and rest in the certainty of His goodness and His sovereign power. He invites us to take comfort in all that He has promised to be to us—savior, friend, healer, lover.

This is the challenge we face with each day as we step out into life.

Will we seek God and take our refuge in Him
when our path is littered with broken dreams?
Or will we turn elsewhere?

We have only these two options when catastrophe strikes. If we choose God, then catastrophe becomes for us a special grace-gift, ushering us into the place where we can experience God in ways we never before imagined. We find ourselves poised on the brink of life’s greatest discovery:

that God is the ultimate presence in the universe, and that knowing Him, interacting with Him, by faith, is more satisfying, more exhilarating than anything the human heart ever hoped for or imagined.

(Go here to read more…)

A Season of Funk

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Who’s to say when the season ends?
God.
Who’s to say when the crying stops?
God.
Who’s to say when it’s time to move on?
God.

Not you.
Not me.

God.

You may give a “buck up” message to help someone “get past” their crud.
But, unless you’ve walked their path (and no one has the exact same path),
You have no idea the length of time it will take for them to be able to “move on”.

And, believe it or not, some people are created to grieve.
You might not like that, but it’s biblical.
Some people are given hurt after hurt after hurt to be an example of the reality of a sinful world.

You can’t know who that person is…and it’s way too easy to say, “Get over it!”

God determines the seasons of our lives.
WE are to be compassionate in whatever season we find others…

Mourn with those who mourn.
Rejoice with those who rejoice.

YOU are not God.
I am not God.

He determines the times and the seasons…
…the epochs of our lives.

Love covers a multitude of sins…even self-pity…
Be gentle, compassionate, forgiving…let the fruit of kindness be ever on your lips.

Grace, people.