GRIEF


Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

        Haydee

We all experience losses; some are more devastating than others. The loss of a parent, or close friend can shatter our world. The loss of a child is probably the most devastating loss to deal with. There are other losses that are burdensome such as job loss, or surviving cancer but dealing with the lifelong issues that result from the lifesaving surgeries. Even moving to a new state brings the sorrow of leaving friends and everything we are comfortable with. When you experience loss of any kind, there will be grief and sorrow. We must all deal with these emotions as a part of life.

As I write this, my mother-in-law has just been laid to rest. She had a series of strokes followed by other declines in health, and eventually Alzheimer’s disease. Since that first stroke she wasn’t the vibrant woman who raised my husband. In many ways Gerry has been mourning the loss of his mom for years.

There is such finality to death. This truth can shake our faith. Even when death is expected it’s always catches us unprepared because it is final. There are no second chances. No more holidays or conversations. No more photographs. Even when a loved one is ravaged by an illness that leaves them bedridden and unaware, we mourn the loss.

On April 15, 2000, my husband rushed me to the emergency room where I lost a baby girl. We were devastated. We loved Hailey from the moment we started planning for her. I blamed myself and I felt the loss was unfair. Other women were experiencing the joy of growing their families while I had empty arms. People would say the oddest things to me to attempt to comfort me. Their words usually added to the pain. The grieving process shows us that life isn’t fair.

Psychologist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross explains there are five stages to the grieving process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. As you deal with your grief you will move back and forth between these stages in a unique way. You won’t necessarily move from one stage to the next, to the next, and suddenly be in the acceptance stage because the grieving process is not usually predictable. In fact, grief can take us on a whirlwind ride of emotions. Our journey through the grieving process may change us in other, more subtle ways.

When dealing with grief, remember that it is a process. Your passage through grief and healing will not look like someone else’s journey. It takes time to accept the loss so spend some time remembering. Be grateful for the time you did have. Spend some time with cherished memories and old photographs. Eventually, you will try to balance the pain of loss, while coping with the struggles of everyday life. Allow yourself time to heal and experience the emotions you have. Seek out family and friends as you go through the process. Know that when dealing with grief you may experience physical symptoms such sleeplessness, changes in appetite, not wanting to participate in favorite activities, and changes in mood. This takes time, but If you have been grieving longer than a few months, seek professional help from a godly counselor.

It’s easy to blame God when there is a loss, especially the loss of your child, but we must remember that the Lord is mourning your loss too, and offering you peace and comfort. We live in a broken world. Death is a part of the circle of life; eventually it claims us all. But knowing this truth doesn’t make the pain any easier to bear. When confronted with grief, let the Lord wrap His loving arms around you. Accept Our Heavenly Father’s peace and comfort. In His Word, there are many passages and verses we can turn to help us cope and deal with our loss, and feel God’s healing presence.

The Psalms

 Ecclesiastes 3

 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Psalm 147:3

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Revelation 21:4

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

There is a song that became popular as I was struggling with my grief and helped me thorough my healing process. Some of the lyrics to “Blessings” by Laura Story (Capitol Music Group) are below:

“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.”

 Let the Lord comfort you and give you peace in your time of loss.

REST


Genesis 2:2-3

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

invest in rest

Rest is important, even vital to life, but our culture is so fast and demanding, that we rarely find time for rest, or rest may feel like we are being lazy. However, there are many places we can get a queue to take a rest. Nature is one example. There are four seasons. The environment rests in winter. Animals rest, some even hibernate. When we bake, we often let the dough rest. And in music, rests are necessary to ensure the melody plays correctly.

There are many benefits to rest. An article from Inc. Magazine explains twelve physical, mental, and emotional benefits to regular rest.

  1. Reduces stress
  2. Gives you time for recreation
  3. Reduces the risk of heart disease
  4. Boosts your immune system
  5. You sleep better
  6. Adds years to your life
  7. Restores mental energy
  8. You’ll be more creative
  9. You’ll be more productive when you return to work
  10. Better focus and mental clarity
  11. Improves short-term memory
  12. With regular time away from work, you might even love your job again!

You can read the full article here: https://www.inc.com/rhett-power/a-day-of-rest-12-scientific-reasons-it-works.html

 Rest is also a command from God. Exodus 34:21 states, “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.”

Mark Buchanan states, “Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest.”  And, Alan Cohen tells us, “There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”

After the death of John the Baptist, Jesus told his Disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.” (Mark 6:31-32)

And Matthew 11:28-30 explains (The Message Version),

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Laziness is different that rest. The lazy person seeks rest as their goal, rarely or never pursing worthwhile activities. The Bible describes the lazy person as a sluggard and wicked (Proverbs 10:4, 12:11, 20:4). And the Apostle Paul warns, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8).

Rest is so very important to a your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Won’t you take a break today and get some rest?

Blessings on your day.

Scripture: Openbible.info

Image: Google Image

Identifying More Idols


A few weeks ago I posted about food being an idol in my life. I have been conscious to try to break that sin, and I am making progress.

mobile-phones-tools-or-idols

God has convicted me of another idol in my life – electronics. Even though I use electronics for mostly good reasons, I do play games on my IPhone from time to time – when I should probably be doing something else. But that’s not all. The first thing I look at when I wake up is my IPhone. It’s only for a few minutes, to check the weather and email, but God deserves those first few minutes of my day.

todays-idols-christian-poetry-by-deborah-ann

I ran across Psalm 135:15. It says, “The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.” That sure describes our culture today, doesn’t it? But Psalm 115:4-8 was even more convicting to me:

“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and  they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” (Emphasis mine).

Isaiah 44:9-11 explains the folly of idolatry even further:

“All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing? Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together.”

Our idols are not alive, but our God is more than alive. The Word of God is living (Hebrews 4:12), Jesus is the bread of life, (John 6:35) and living water (John 7:38).

It’s high time for me to put electronics (and everything else that has become an idol in my life) in their proper place. They are just tools. God is first in my life, more than worthy of my full devotion and attention.

Blessings on your day.

Scripture: OpenBible.info

Images: Google images

 

 

 

The Idols in Our Lives


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The women in my Bible Study recently had a discussion on the Biblical discipline of fasting. Through that conversation I became aware, convicted in fact, that food is an idol in my life. It has been for a long time.

Let me explain. We’re programmed to eat at various times, whether or not we are actually hungry. While food is necessary to sustain life, we think about food a great deal. In the morning the question is, “what do we have for breakfast?” (And don’t even get me started on coffee.) But that’s not enough. We often make dinner plans before we even have breakfast. At work, we look at our clocks wondering what we will have for lunch, and whom we will share the meal with. And there are so many snacks to choose from. We rush home, possibly making a stop at the grocery store first, where we usually buy more things than were on our list. We then rush to prepare a meal. But we have options. We could go out to eat, spending four to ten times the amount that it would cost to cook our own meal. A few hours later we follow that with dessert.

Food is big business.

Our minds revolve around food in some way: when to eat, what to eat, how to pay for what we eat, how good a certain restaurant is, and getting a copy of that really great recipe. Our minds seem to be consumed with food.

Realizing that food was taking up so much brain power, I began to consider the other things that have become idols in my life. I thought I was a good Christian. And I don’t worship idols, or so I thought. So I looked up the definition of an idol.

A simple google search explains that an idol is an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship. The Bible is clear on this particular subject. In Exodus 20:3 God tells us, “You shall have no other gods before me” (English Standard Version). There is a footnote in my Bible that adds clarity to this verse. It reads, “You shall have no other gods besides me.” So God wants to be our only god.

We can consider ourselves safe on this matter because we don’t worship images. We don’t put anyone or anything above, or even equal to God.

Or do we?

What about our families, homes, cars, and jobs?

The next definition goes on to explain that an idol is, “a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered.”

Quite possibly I have many idols in my life.

I thought about that for a while and decided we can recognize an idol by looking at our calendars and bank statements. I pondered this for a while and came up with what I think are the top ten idols in our lives and culture, in no particular order.

1. Food
2. Money/status/possessions
3. Work/profession
4. Relationships – family and friends
5. Technology, including computers, internet, phones, and social media
6. Materialism and comfort
7. Self – meaning our ego, image, status, pride, and beauty
8. Entertainment/Escapism
9. Sports
10. Celebrities

Several others could have made the list, but I limited it to what I consider our top idols.

Ezekiel 14 is a passage in which God condemns those who have taken idols in their hearts. Verses 4 and 5 states (The Message Version):

“Therefore tell them, ‘The Message of GOD, the Master: All in Israel who install idols in their hearts and embrace the wickedness that will ruin them and still have the gall to come to a prophet, be on notice: I, GOD, will step in and personally answer them as they come dragging along their mob of idols. I am ready to go to work on the hearts of the house of Israel, all of whom have left me for their idols.’ Therefore, say to the house of Israel: ‘GOD, the Master, says, Repent! Turn your backs on your no-god idols. Turn your backs on all your outrageous obscenities.”

Wow.

So the question now becomes, “How do I remove idols from my life?” Reviewing my top ten idols list, there are things on there that we need in order to live. We have to work to get enough money to buy food, shelter, clothing, and medicine. Technology is not necessarily a bad thing, neither is entertainment. And our relationships are very important. These things become idols when we love them more than God.

So that seems to be the answer to the dilemma of idols in my life – to love God even more. Be satisfied with God first, then enjoy the blessings He sends my way.

Consider Philippians 3:8. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

It’s up to me to seek God first; to pursue a more intimate relationship with him. To put Him first. Above all else. As I get closer to God, I pray to lose interest in the things I have held in high regard.

Blessings on your day.

 

Second Chances


 

lam 3 22 23

I’ve been absent from this blog for a long time, and I’ve really missed it. But I had the opportunity to go back to school and finally finish earning my degree. That kept me quite busy, so I put blogging on hold. Now I have graduated and look forward to new doors opening.

God allows for the opportunity to begin again. There are many people in the Bible who had second chances, Peter, Jonah, and David for example. Receiving a second chance to do something is a testament to God’s grace. Lamentations 3:21-23 explains, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

While God provides for new opportunities, I think we tend to resist change because of a fear of the unknown. There’s a saying that goes, “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results, is the definition of insanity.” Remember that God is gracious and merciful towards us, and he is faithful. Everyday is a new day and a chance to begin fresh, because his love never ceases. Remember Ecclesiastes 3:1, For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”

So if you have something you’ve been putting off, consider doing it now. Go back to school. Have that conversation with an estranged loved one. Start the diet and working out. Begin the project. Change jobs. The results will take time, but they are worth it and in the end, God will bless you in a special way.

May the Lord richly bless your day.

Julie

 

 

So Much To Be Thankful For


Thanksgiving Contest - What Are You Thankful For?

During this season of thanksgiving I thought it would be fun to make a list of some of the things to be thankful for. This list is really quite short – there are countless blessings to thank God for. I challenge to you add to this list. May you be richly blessed today and everyday. Happy Thanksgiving!

  1. A Bed
  2. A Home Cooked Meal
  3. Ability to Choose
  4. Animals
  5. Aquariums
  6. Art
  7. Babies
  8. Baseball Games
  9. Beaches
  10. Bicycles
  11. Books and Libraries
  12. Braces and a pretty smile
  13. Bubble Baths
  14. Candles
  15. Candy
  16. Cards and Letters
  17. Chocolate
  18. Christmas Lights
  19. Christmas Stockings
  20. Christmas Trees
  21. Church
  22. Clothing
  23. Coffee and Tea
  24. Color
  25. Creativity
  26. Curiosity
  27. Cute Shoes
  28. Desserts
  29. Dishwashers
  30. Doctors and Dentists
  31. Education
  32. Family and Friends
  33. Family Traditions
  34. Fireplaces
  35. Fireworks
  36. Five Senses
  37. Good
  38. Fountains
  39. Four Seasons
  40. Forests
  41. Freedom
  42. Fresh Bread
  43. Fresh Water
  44. Gardens
  45. Gentle Rains
  46. Glitter
  47. God
  48. Good Manners
  49. Google
  50. GPS
  51. Hairstylists
  52. Holidays and Vacation
  53. Hot Showers
  54. Hugs
  55. Imagination
  56. Jesus
  57. Jewelry
  58. Language/Communication
  59. Lipstick
  60. Medicine
  61. Mementos
  62. Memories
  63. Military and First Responders
  64. Movie Theaters
  65. Music
  66. My Home
  67. My Job
  68. Naps
  69. Pajamas
  70. Parks
  71. Pastors
  72. Paved Roads
  73. Pedicures
  74. Pets
  75. Photographs
  76. Prayer
  77. Puzzles
  78. Rainbows
  79. Right to Vote
  80. Salvation
  81. Saturday Mornings
  82. Second Chances
  83. Snow
  84. Spell Check
  85. Spices
  86. Stained Glass Windows
  87. Stop Lights
  88. Sun, Moon and Stars
  89. Sunshine
  90. Teachers
  91. Technology
  92. The Beach
  93. The Bible
  94. The Ocean
  95. The Radio
  96. Theme Parks
  97. Today
  98. Travel
  99. Trees
  100. Wildflowers
  101. Wine

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

Images: Google Images

Scripture: Biblegateway.com

In The Eye Of The Storm


storms

Psalm 91:2

I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” 

My family moved to Jacksonville, Florida a little over a year ago. When we made the decision to move I never considered that we would deal with hurricanes. For the second time in as many months, a huge storm drew near to us. Herminie came through Jacksonville as a tropical storm, but Matthew passed dangerously close to our coast line as a category 4 hurricane.  Schools and businesses closed in preparation for the storm. Meteorologists warned of the danger of the storm and explained it could reshape parts of our coastline. We stocked up on supplies and water and made provisions if we lost power. Millions of people living right on the coast were evacuated. As the hurricane drew near to us the wind and rain became frightening, and lasted for hours. I made several Facebook posts with storm updates and asking for prayers. I felt those prayers. Our Heavenly Father saw us through the storm. As I type this blog the storm has passed. We are waiting for morning to survey the damage.

We also face many metaphorical storms in life; job loss, illnesses, infertility, not getting that promotion, betrayal, and death to name a few. We try to control these storms, but we cannot. In some cases we just prolong the pain. The storms we experience leave different kinds of marks on our lives. Some of these storms will change us forever. But the one thing that will never change is God’s love for us. He will see us through these storms; He is faithful and in control. Psalm 33:4 tells us, “For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.”

I don’t know what storm you are facing, or the severity. All I can tell you is to put your faith in God, and let Him have control of the winds and rain. Something beautiful awaits you on the other side of the storm. I’ve always experienced an unexpected blessing when the storm passes.

The events of the past few days remind me of the song “In The Eye of the Storm” recently released by Ryan Stevenson. May it bring you peace.

https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?hsimp=yhs-att_001&hspart=att&p=youtube+eye+of+the+storm+ryan+stevenson#id=4&vid=047eeca0aa8530c95519b676266aa85b&action=click

Psalm 107:29  He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.

Image: Artist Unknown – found on Facebook 10/7/2016