Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!

24 07 2014

Have you ever been comforted by the Lord? Have you been released from bondage, had your eyes open to things which you previously could not see? Been cleansed of sin?

Second Corinthians opens with this:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction…”

Why did He do this for us?

“… so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.” (vs. 3-4)

Frustration is running high at the moment. I’ve been searching for someone who’s been in my shoes and shown the way out of the mess.

Those who’ve never been through what I’m dealing with are able to provide some relief, but very little experiential help.

Those who have been there, done that, aren’t talking.

When we are in a war and fighting for our lives, we don’t need pat, textbook ideology. We need a veteran who can share what works, what doesn’t…living, breathing proof that there is hope. We can survive this thing!

Life has been difficult, and a lot of damage was done when I was a child. Through the years, the Lord has been faithful to heal many of those wounds.

While being free of the pain was fantastic – able to respond to a current situation instead of react to ‘triggers’ – I discovered that the ugliness is redeemed every time I reach out to others and comfort them with the same comfort I received from the Lord.

As a veteran, I have more to offer than, “I read in a book…”.

“I’ve been in that trench: These are some of the things you need to pay attention to. Here are some areas to avoid.” 

There are many people who are hurting and in desperate need of hope – the kind of hope only someone who’s been through it can provide. (Think Job and his “helpful’ friends! He called them ‘miserable comforters.‘)

All that to say this: Whatever you’ve done, wherever you’ve been, if you see someone in a similar situation, lay down fears of what people might think if they knew and the pride of wanting to appear perfect, and

for the Kingdom’s sake, tell your story

…and offer to help.

This is the body at its finest,  The healing we receive from the Lord is a gift to us. As I read Scripture, though, I notice that gifts from the Lord are never solely for our consumption (with the exception of tongues). They are meant to be spent on others.

Our past does not define us – “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone; the new is come.”

Jesus bore all our shame on the cross. When the enemy uses my history to beat on me, I point to the cross where Jesus declared, “It is finished,” and thank him for the reminder of how much I need Jesus…what a mess I am without Him.

If you’ve been hiding behind a “perfect” facade, unwilling to let others know the secrets of your past, step out and let His glorious work shine through you to reach others. The word, “hypocrite” comes from the theater, and means “actor.” It is only in the dark where the thing has any power to hurt you anymore. In our mind, it grows and grows like dust bunnies under the bed.

Bring your light out from under the bushel basket and watch the hurting be drawn like bugs to a zapper! As an added bonus, you get to walk in the freedom that Jesus paid so high a price to secure.

The world needs the real you, so

Come out, come out wherever you are!





From Grief to Gratitude

26 09 2013

The worst nightmare of my life was the last month of my mom’s earthly existence. What started as a desire to have her eyelids lifted to improve her eyesight became 4-way bypass surgery, kidney stones, a blood infection, her body filling with clots, and a massive stroke.

Within a month, she was on a ventilator, and then she was gone. We barely knew what hit us.

That was 2005.

Last month the Lord invited me to provide hospice support to a friend whose mom is in the final lap of her earthly life.

His invitation came in a roundabout way:

I take voice lessons every week. We’ve recently had two deaths in our family, and some other things happen as well that tapped our income. When my husband seemed a bit reluctant for me to continue with the voice coach, I decided that I needed to take a break for a while.

In mid-August, I gave a two-week notice, and said that when I got a job I would reschedule.

That was random. I haven’t worked since 2000.

On my way home, I considered taking a part-time job. I decided to check with some employment agencies on the following Monday. That settled, I got back to work writing posts for my blog.

The following morning, I received a call from a friend whom I hadn’t seen in several years.

“Tami, my mom’s health is failing and I need someone who can help me in the mornings. Every time I thought about hiring somebody, your name came to mind. I thought I’d check to see if you might be interested.”

I laughed, and told her about the conversation I had the previous day with my voice coach. I said that under the circumstances, I felt that this was what I was supposed to do.

With a chuckle, she said, “I hope you’re calling him to get back on his schedule as soon as we hang up.”

I assured her that I would do exactly that!

She asked me to began the following Monday morning.

My job is to physically care for the mom, and provide emotional, physical, and spiritual support and “eyes” for the daughter. The daughter has devoted the last seven years of her life to caring for her parents.

Her father went Home a couple of years ago, so now she cares for her mother. Because of her mom’s medical condition, my friend gets up several times every night to tend to her mom. She’s tired – who wouldn’t be?

Consequently, she’s so close to the situation, that it’s easy to lose sight of the larger picture. That’s where I come in. It’s been amazing to have the Lord show me things that the family needs to address…and then have Him pave the way for these delicate conversations.

While this is a bittersweet time for me (she looks so much like my own mother), I’ve been able to help the daughter think through end-of-life issues that troubled her siblings and her.

I wish I’d had a human come alongside and help me see the scene with greater clarity – and to help me get a handle on things the medical pros around her were overlooking (i.e. either hydrated or pain managed…but not both at the same time. She was bounced back and forth between the medical floor and ICU several times because of this).

At the same time, the Lord Himself was my constant companion in ways I’d never experienced before. His little touches were liberally sprinkled throughout every day. There were visions, glimpses of the spirit realm, timely songs and sermons…even a feather that fell from a bird-less, windless sky.

That’s a story for another day!

The restoration of Mom’s earthly health was not given – but she is eternally healed now! Every problem she had is long gone. While I miss her, I would not wish her back on earth. We’ll be reunited soon enough!

I’m thankful for our journey through the Valley of the Shadow of death – for it is the foundation for my service to this family today. :) 2 Corinthians 1:4 tells us that we are to comfort others with the comfort with which we have been comforted. I understand how that works now.

Romans 8:28 tells us that God causes all things to work together for good. Because of what I went through, I can reach out and support someone else in that situation. In a weird way, it makes me thankful that I’ve “been there, done that.”

His timing was (as always) impeccable. If my friend had called the morning before this, I would have referred her to someone else. By the time she called, my mind was settled – I would get a part-time job so I could continue my lessons…assuming that I could. The job market here is tight, and it’s been over a decade since I was last employed.

So today I am – crazy as it sounds – thankful for the journey I made through the Valley of the Shadow of Death with my mother. The lessons I learned there are being put to use today, and are benefiting my dear friends.

While trials are hard to stand through, and often painful, when we stay tenderhearted and teachable through them, the Lord can direct us to others who are dealing with similar trials. If we developed compassion, empathy, and greater faith in the Lord, we can comfort others and help them through their difficulties. When we can do this, it has a redeeming quality to life’s ordeals.

On the other hand, if we become angry and bitter, not only are we unable to help others, and thereby see good come from what seemed so bad, but we are apt to only make things worse. Bitterness taints everything and everyone with which it comes in contact.

Thanks, Jesus!

Oh, and would You give my mom a hug? 😉

Thank you, Journey of Thankfulness, for bringing this to light. Gratitude changes everything, doesn’t it?





Hope – Spread Some Around

14 09 2013

To the cupboard I went in search of hope,

For that last little bit in the jar.

There it was in its own little niche

But I’d long ago emptied that jar.

*

“Where, oh where can I get some hope?”

(It can’t be bought in a store)

“I needed so little,” I frantically plead,

“Please tell me where I can get more.”

*

“If you will just trust Me and rest in My care,”

I heard that small voice in my head,

“I’ll lead you and guide you to where you must go.

On your plight some light I will shed.”

*

“Then lead me,” I cried, “and I’ll surely go.

As you see my heart’s full of despair.

My own strength and hope I’ve completely used up.

I’ve no choice but to trust that You care.”

*

As we went on our way He gently explained,

“There is no hope to be found

In stores, or in cupboards, or within yourself.

This you know for you’ve looked all around.

*

“If you’re to find hope I know just where to take you.

To others, who just like yourself,

When searching to find their last little drops

Found a mere empty jar on their shelf.”

*

“If their jars are empty, then why do You lead me

To them?” I cried, “You said, ‘trust!’”

“But their stores are no longer vacant,” said He.

“To go to them is a must.”

*

“For you see, when they found their jars to be void

Of hope…they found the key.

Another shared how her life had been brought

From the depths – to heights walked with Me.”

*

“It’s only through caring and sharing, you know,

That another’s hopes will be raised.

Then when your hope-jar is filled to the brim

There’s only Me to be praised.”

*

And the things that thou hast heard of Me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful (wo)men, who shall be able to teach others also.

2 Timothy 2:2