Tag Archive: Hope

BUT GOD …

P1090285Like most of us, I want to live with purpose. And yet at times I find my purpose wavering … I’d like a rest; I’m not equipped to deal with that issue; that person’s pain is too much for me to handle.

But that’s the beauty of God’s empowering. Many challenges are too much for me to handle. I am inadequate. I don’t know what to do. But our pastor reminded me this weekend that God will enable me if I take one step at a time, believing He will meet me at the next one.

I experienced many God-moments when my first husband was waiting for an organ transplant in Florida. Three thousand miles from home, we needed housing, local support, and insurance approval. In one email to friends I expressed the challenges we faced, then listed some of the ways we had seen God’s empowering.

“We are in big trouble on our own (health, costs, housing, ongoing tests) … it isn’t a bed of roses …

BUT GOD … allowed Jerry’s test results Friday to be positive, removing a potential obstacle to transplantation …

BUT GOD … ensured final dollar authorization for the dual transplant …

BUT GOD … led our California pastor to connect us with Pastor X here in Gainesville, with whom we’ve already started to have wonderful fellowship and support …

BUT GOD … led Pastor X to follow up with us and to allow us to share with his church body, which is actively responding to our needs.

BUT GOD … has shown us His faithfulness over and over through people we’ve met, the kindness of strangers in antique shops who’ve offered us housing or suggested resources, and by giving us incredible opportunities to connect with people and share our lives and His faithfulness with them.”

Dr. Helen Rosaveare was a single missionary working in the Congo from 1953 to 1973. During the political instability of the 1960s she was brutally gang-raped by rebels. As she tells it, during that terror one word kept recurring in her mind. “Privilege.” She had the privilege of suffering for Christ. That is truly beyond one’s capability, strength or adequacy.

But GOD empowered her to survive that and continue to minister for Him.

Grace. It’s all God’s grace. It’s not good when someone is raped, murdered, terminally ill, depressed, or insecure. But it is grace, the grace of God that shows up when we most need it, that empowers us to take one step at a time, experiencing His presence which then empowers us to take the next step. Sometimes I think I’ve done something of value … but Rene reminds me that it is all about the grace of God. He uses our availability even more than our ability.

So what are the “But Gods” in your life? I’d love to hear.

Carol’s Song of Praise

For the women’s Bible study I’m part of, we were asked to write our own “Magnificat”, our praise to God. This is following studying Mary’s Magnificat after she was told by an angel that she would bear a Savior who would save his people from their sins. This is my humble Magnificat today.

My soul rejoices in the Lord, Creator of heaven and earth.

 I gaze across the fertile green fields, hear the birds whistle, watch the hawks soar above me,
and see the cirrus clouds miles above.
The sun shines on the land you have made and I thank you for the rain you have brought.

I praise you for your glorious works, my Savior, Lord, Friend.
You created those verdant hills that I see;
You made the birds and gave them their melody.
You own all the vast expanse of the universe, yet you love ME. You are too marvelous for me to comprehend.
You knew me when I was in my mother’s womb.
You molded me from before birth, gifted me to serve you in specific ways.
Awesome that you would take a shy, quiet child and give her something to say!
You knew every day planned for me. You know the end from the beginning.
You know intimately the joys and pain that have been part of my life.
You have loved and wooed me, simple as I am.
My soul praises you, my God.

O Lord, I offer you my thanks.
You know everything about me.
You know when I sit or stand or feel angry with someone or am prideful.
You know the words that will come out of my mouth before they leave my lips.
Oh, God, let them honor you.

I cannot hide from you.
I don’t want to hide when I see your goodness in the land of the living,
When I rejoice in the peace and stillness of the day,
In the joy of a loving moment with my husband.

I do sometimes want to hide when pain throbs in my soul,
When people misunderstand me
Or judge me
Or tell me I’m wrong.
“What Lord? How could I be such a basket case? So selfish? Such a poor ‘Christ-follower’?”

And yet those scenes are never hidden from you
And you faithfully continue to love me
Even as you work to change me – my heart, my thoughts.
When I was in the midst of a raging storm
You held me fast though I had no strength with which to hold onto you.
You knew my frame, my weakness.

You were there when Dad left us for heaven. He saw you before leaving, and was radiant at your call!
You were there when Jerry passed into your arms and I fell onto his chest, sobbing.
You were there when I flew home with ashes in place of a husband,
With only a body pillow to hug at night.

You were there in the family and friends who were your arms of love to me as they
Cleaned the house for my return
Weeded the yard and installed sprinklers after nine months of neglect
Checked on me daily and let me cry, made me laugh
Traveled with me so I wouldn’t be alone
Allowed me to be numb even as you were re-knitting me together through the agony of grief.

You were there when a beautiful red and white dog entered my home and heart, breathing life into an empty home.
You were there in a widow/widowers’ grief recovery group when I met another man to whom I would bond in love and life.
You are amazing, God!

The heavens declare the glory of God ...

The heavens declare the glory of God …

With you, I am never alone
You have kept your promise to guide me in all my ways.
And as you have done in this life, so you will faithfully lead when my end comes,
You will draw me to yourself for all eternity –
To rejoice in your everlasting love
To praise you for your glorious deeds
To love you forever.
Joy!

Have you ever tried to write a note of praise to Jesus? Why not do it now.

Burrowing In

Finding her way in

Burrowing in

The puppies were adorable. Three 3-week olds, a girl and two boys, each with a unique marking pattern of red and white. Two were sound asleep, bodies nestled right against each other. I watched as the third crawled around the other two, looking for an entry.

This third puppy, not yet in the huddle, exhibited no hesitation. After finding an opening, he simply pushed his way in between the other two chubby little bodies. He had no insecurity about whether he was welcome, no fear that they didn’t want him. He just nosed his way in until the threesome was complete, bodies intertwined and touching. “Number Three” knew he belonged.

"I belong"

“I belong”*

My husband, Don, makes me feel like that. He falls asleep almost as soon as he climbs into bed. Even though he’s often already sleeping when I finish my evening ablutions and crawl into bed, I know he wants to hold me before we both sleep. I sometimes hesitate to waken him, but he assures me he wants and needs that connection. So I burrow in. I crawl under the covers and nestle into his shoulder, his arm drawing me close. I know I’m wanted. I have no hesitation about sliding over to his side. I belong, and he assures me of that often.

If I felt insecure in his love, I might hesitate – to waken him, to push right into his arms.

Isn’t that like God? He loves us unconditionally. He accepts us completely. He wants us to approach Him without fear, no hesitation, knowing we belong and are always welcome. He wants us to push our way in like that little puppy who wiggled his nose in until he was engulfed between the two other little pups. If we feel insecure in approaching the Father, it’s because of our own fear—perhaps because of unconfessed sin, a sense of unworthiness, or of simply not grasping His complete love for us.

His Word says “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we are like Christ here in this world. Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. “ (I John 4:16b-18a, NLT)

We who follow Jesus Christ belong! He wants us to rely on Him, to come to Him with every need. I Peter 5:7 instructs us to “Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.” (TLB)

I’m trying to give Him all my cares but my understanding of His love is still a work in progress. Where is yours?

*Different configuration. This time it’s the girl in the middle. But all know they belong.

Thankfulness – in ALL Things!

As we sat around the Thanksgiving table, my husband Don asked that we each express thanks for one thing. In my turn, I reflected that nine years ago, Thanksgiving 2005, I was in intensive care with my very ill first husband. God had surrounded us with new friends 3000 miles from home, and some had invited another hospital patient’s wife and me to a lovely Thanksgiving dinner. Although hesitant to leave Jerry, I felt I needed to go as the other woman didn’t know these new friends of mine. After dinner I returned to the hospital to find my husband in crisis with a large pool of clotted blood at his side–one the nurses hadn’t yet seen. After I yelled for help, the room filled with doctors. I stayed in the room until Jerry was stabilized about 2 am, then finally went to get a few hours’ sleep before returning to the hospital later that morning.

Three days later, after a surgery to remove a difficult-to-locate aneurysm, my lovely husband passed into the arms of Jesus.

I had no idea at the time what God had in store for my future, but a few years later He brought a new love into my life. Don is an enormous blessing and gift to me–one totally unexpected.

Life is sometimes filled with pain; but we don’t know what God holds in store further down the road.

new love, new life

new love, new life

So on this Thanksgiving weekend, I praise God for the following:

1. His great, unconditional love and forgiveness.
2. His gift of Presence.
3. His promise never to leave nor forsake us–no matter what!
4. That the life beyond this one is eternal, and will far surpass the one we now know and love–full of awesome surprises, the best of which will be meeting Jesus face to face.
5. That even after loss He can bless us in unexpected ways, and joy can return.

Sarah Young says “Thankfulness is not some sort of magic formula; it is the language of Love, which enables you to communicate intimately with Me. A thankful mind-set does not entail a denial of reality with its plethora of problems. Instead, it rejoices in Me, your Savior, in the midst of trials and tribulations. I am your refuge and strength, an ever-present and well-proved help in trouble.” (bold = mine) JESUS CALLING, November 22, p. 341.

I have experienced His help in trouble. I have experienced His joy. And I am deeply thankful.

“Sad News”

“Sad News” was Susan’s email subject line greeting me on the third day of our Alaskan cruise. She and Jack were at our home for a wonderful visit just two weeks ago. We walked the beach, enjoyed our combination of four dogs, and shared fellowship. Jack was, as he has been as long as I have known him, passionate about Bible study.

I met Susan and Jack when dating my first husband. After an evening in their home, I told Jerry I felt “fat with friendship.” The four of us developed a close friendship, prayed for and with each other, shared joys and challenges. Susan and Jack and another couple, Joyce and Dick, were with us in Mexico when Jerry and I cried as we talked of his terminal diagnosis and our uncertain future. One of my favorite photos is of Susan, Joyce and me, all wearing straw hats, sunglasses, and either turquoise or celadon green cotton shirts. It’s a cute picture and a reminder of the fun and quality times we shared.

Jack was a dog lover. Kirby was his driving buddy, sitting on the armrest next to Jack, watching him intently, resting his chin on Jack's arm.

Jack was a dog lover. Kirby was his driving buddy, sitting on the armrest next to Jack, watching him intently, resting his chin on Jack’s arm.

After Jerry died and I had a buyer for our condo in Puerto Vallarta, Susan said “I don’t want you to be there alone when you close up the place. I want to go with you.” And she did.

Now her email told me Jack’s heart stopped suddenly on Monday morning and he went home to be with his heavenly Father, the Lord he loved deeply. Jack was active in life and ministry until the last day of his life.

Dick also passed away within the last month, leaving two dear friends widowed within a month of each other.

I sobbed when I read Susan’s email. Don, my dear husband, held me while we talked and cried. Both Jack and Dick have finished their race on earth, and I grieved …

… for the loss of these dear men’s friendship
… for the pain Susan and Joyce are dealing with and the adjustments they face ahead
… for the anguish I suffered after Jerry’s death
… and for the grief that is likely in my future since Don is quite a bit older than I.

“I don’t want to lose you,” I said to Don. “But I thank God for every day we have together. And regardless of how much or little time we share, I will never regret a day of it.”

Loss is incredibly hard. It tears a person apart, putting him in a pit of despair out of which it seems one will never climb. For awhile, my life seemed surreal as I adjusted to a new and redefined life. That’s just a part of what Susan and Joyce face, along with the loneliness of missing their life partners.

This morning I went to the Bible for comfort. Psalm 8 tells us,

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth! (verses 3, 4 and 9)

Here we are, seeing the majesty and beauty of Alaska. Thirty-mile long glaciers move five feet a day. Grand, rugged snow-capped peaks take my breath away. And I am reminded that God is still in control, and He loves me … and He loves Susan and Joyce. Despite our pain, He has neither forgotten nor has He forsaken us. Death and loss are a part of life, certainly one of the hardest parts, but we do not face them alone.

I can say this because I’ve been there. Even during a crisis of faith following Jerry’s passing, God held onto me and drew me back to His loving heart. In the pain, He was there. That is the hope I cling to as I face the possibility of a second widowhood down the road. God is still in control and He loves and grieves with us.

He says, “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 NIV

That is God’s word of hope to my dear friends, whose husbands were my friends as well. Susan and Joyce, I love you. God comfort you.