Time for a Rest

Taking-a-break

I am sad to say that I am in the middle of another FMS/CFIDS flare. When that happens, I need to cut back on all my activities while I ride this out, so for at least the next couple of weeks I will be taking a necessary break from blogging. Those of you who are also bloggers will understand how many hours are consumed in composing each blog post—even the most seemingly simple ones. 

I am so thankful for all of you and look forward to being back with you in June.

Beloved, as always, I praise God for carrying me through these tough times. I really have no clue how I could handle these flares without the perfect peace of His close presence in my life!

Isaiah-26-3

 

Amen!

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Do Not Lose Heart


DoNotLoseHeart-1Cor4-16-18

So we do not lose heart.
Though our outer self is wasting away,
our inner self is being renewed day by day.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us
an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
 
as we look not to the things that are seen
but to the things that are unseen.
For the things that are seen are transient,
but the things that are unseen are eternal.
—2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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He Gives Strength to the Weary

 

Isaiah-40-29-31

He gives strength to the weary,
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
—Isaiah 40:29-31

We all have days when we feel like things will never get any better. The car breaks down, our health declines, or we lose our job. Maybe a family member is coping with cancer, or one of our children dies. Sometimes it seems that all we ever do is struggle, with no hope in sight.

Life has a way of throwing us curves, doesn’t it? Just when we think things are going well, something happens to dash our exuberance. Bill is a friend who lost much in a tragic car accident years ago. His wife and children died, and one of his legs was badly mangled and is now several inches shorter than the other.

In the hospital, despite what must have been the darkest time of his life, Bill’s positive and trusting demeanor was a shining example of his hope in God. Of course he mourned the loss of his family, but he still praised God through it all.

There is hope for all of us—a hope that transcends anything here on earth. That hope lies in the fact that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins, ensuring eternal life for all who believe. Even though our earthly bodies may suffer and we experience heart-rending disappointments, we have the assurance that our heavenly bodies will never feel pain.

HopeNextExit

What a tremendous hope we have that helps us “soar on wings like eagles”! When the bad times come—and inevitably they will—we have the assurance of knowing that our Lord will grant us the strength necessary to get through those tough times. His strength is the source of our strength.

Today Bill is once again married and the father of two young children. God comforted his grieving heart when he needed it most with the knowledge that no matter what, He was still in control and would take care of things. Bill’s trust in God never wavered, even when his physical strength was compromised by his injuries. His spiritual strength was renewed by the trust and hope he showed in God.

We can have that same hope, no matter what our circumstances. God invites us to call upon Him in the midst of our pain and suffering, and He will lift us up and enable us to get through those difficult times. He’s right there, ready to surround you with His comfort and peace.

 

Come to Jesus

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Come to Jesus

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest. —Matthew 11:28

Resting is not something that comes naturally to me. Back in the days filled with activities, rest came as an afterthought. How things have changed! In this season of my life I need to rest between tasks in order to not become overly fatigued. Gone are the days when I could clean my entire house in one morning.

Awhile back a song kept playing itself over and over in my mind and made a great impact on me. I can relate to these words in particular:

“Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!”*

These lines remind me of the immense comfort I can find in Jesus when I let myself completely rest in Him. He hears my cries and knows my pain, and I am calmed when I remember that He holds my life in His hands.

When we live with daily pain, so many hours are filled not only with pain, but toss in extreme fatigue, canceled plans and stress and you have the perfect formula for frustration.

Are you like me, thinking you can’t possibly make it through the day or maybe even just the next hour? Do you wonder if you will ever be able to lead some kind of normal life again?

Beloved, God reassures us that He is always available and waiting for us to lean on Him. He encourages us to turn to Him and let Him bear the brunt of our burdens. In return we will find rest and that peace that surpasses all understanding.

The ending of this song is a great encouragement for me to keep on trusting that God wants the best for me because in the end we will never feel pain again as we revel in the glorious presence of Jesus Christ, our LORD and Savior.

“And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!”*

*Copyright © Chris Rice, “Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)”

 

If for any reason you cannot view this video, you can read the lyrics here.

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Mother’s Day Blessings

This is a repost of last Mother’s Day message. Enjoy!

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This is for all of you Moms out there and for all of us whose Moms have already left this world.

The Lord took my Mom home six years ago but this is how I often remember her:

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When I was growing up, one of the houses we lived in had built-in brick planters that bordered the front porch. Every year Mom would plant bright red geraniums in those planters—just like the ones in this photo. They made the entrance to our home look so pretty! I wish I had a photo of her standing next to those gorgeous geraniums but I guess that doesn’t matter because I’ll always have the memories in my mind and in my heart.

Beloved, whether your Mom is still here with you or dancing in heaven, what memory is your favorite about her?

I love and miss you Mom!

Mom(smaller)

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2014 Update: In Mom’s honor, I decided to continue her geranium tradition. I bought a gorgeous red geranium plant the other day and will be buying more in the next couple of weeks. I can’t wait to see them all in bloom!


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Memory Markers [Repost]

SWEET SATURDAY

On this Sweet Saturday, I want to encourage you if you’re going through a tough time. It is so easy to be thankful when things are going well and understandably much harder to think thankful thoughts when everything seems to be falling apart.

I know what I’m talking about here.

Earlier this week I was stuck in a very long CFIDS flare that involved daily unrelenting migraines. How and where could I find any … any … reason to be thankful? And how is that even possible?

I recently read a devotional that confirms what I have long suspected. We were encouraged to store up the memories of precious times when we felt God blessing us with something special, and slide those memories out during the tough times.

In other words, remember the good during the not-so-good.

In Old Testament times, God encouraged His people to pile up some stones in the places of special blessing as a remembrance for them to recall during difficult times. I use what I call “memory markers”—special times in my life when God has shown His faithfulness to me. I cling to these memory markers during the frustrating days of chronic illness when it often seems I will never climb out of the pit.

What this has done has been remarkable in my life. Where before I would mentally cry “I don’t understand,” now, even though I still don’t understand (because I’m not God), I find myself telling God, “I don’t get it, but I trust that You know what You’re doing and that’s good enough for me.”

You see, God has shown me over and over again that I can count on Him. And each of those times, I have made a new memory marker to be able to recall the event and the outcome when I need encouragement. A few examples from my own life:

  • Some years ago, I very reluctantly agreed to be a counselor at a camp for abused and abandoned children. Oh, I certainly felt God’s leading but I also felt totally unqualified for the task. God, however, had other ideas and provided the exact amount of strength and spiritual uplifting I needed to complete the week at camp—so much so that I went back the next year!
  • The small, family-owned business I worked for downsized and I was the only one let go. As my sole source of support, that should have really worried me but I trusted God to provide me with just the right job for me in a short time… and He did, in less than one week!
  • For years I struggled with a particular spiritual problem that finally left me once I completely—and I mean completely— gave it to the Lord to take care of.  [This is an example of my “palms down” visual method of handing problems to the Lord… more about this in a future blog post.]
  • Rick and I trusted God to show us the right time to sell our home in California and make the move to Arizona. We were delighted but not surprised when He provided just the right buyer for our California home while at the same time providing us the exact home we need here in Arizona.

Here is the crucial part of trusting God: each time I choose to trust God during a particularly puzzling and/or frustrating situation, He demonstrates His faithfulness to me. Sometimes that means He answers a particular prayer in a particular way; other times He simply wants me to trust Him while He works behind the scenes, even if it doesn’t feel like He is hearing me.

During one of those examples I listed above, God gave me Isaiah 26:3 to remember:

“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

 I’m very happy to report that this particular memory marker soothes and comforts me while it also reinforces my trust and faith in my Lord, Jesus Christ.

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My Balm of Gilead

Here is another great piece from The Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord.
jeremiah_8_22_is_there_no_balm_in_gilead

Balm of Gilead

Is there no balm in Gilead? —Jeremiah 8:22

There are experiences of suffering through which the Master wills that we should pass. There are burdens which He does not lift, though He takes us, burden and all, into His everlasting arms. But in every suffering which He permits, He is our “Balm.” He eases every pain. He comforts every sorrow. He strengthens us in every weakness. There is a “Balm” in our Gilead. Shall we take from Him the comfort which He offers us today?

[Taken from Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord, by Charles E. Hurlburt and T. C. Horton. Copyright © 2002 by Barbour Publishing, Inc.]

My thoughts

Is there no balm in Gilead,
Is there no physician there?
Why then is there no recovery
For the health of the daughter of my people?
—Jeremiah 8:22

 

Waiting is difficult, especially in the midst of pain and suffering. There is no doubt that life here on earth is hard. We often feel as if we’re treading hopelessly through thick mud that is trying to suck us in. 

111805-BleuWe once had a sweet Sheltie. Bleu would get all shook up whenever he heard any kind of motor or engine noise. Out in the backyard, he barked and would dig at the ground when he heard someone in the neighborhood using a lawn mower or leaf blower. When we started the truck to go somewhere, he would bark and run around in circles until we had backed out of the garage. Even sounds like the blender or vacuum cleaner caused him to bark in agitation. As the noise continued, he would run for one of his stuffed toys and carry it around like a toddler with their security blanket. It sure was a funny sight to us.

Isn’t that the way we are when faced with adversity though? We search for something to calm us down and quiet our hearts. Maybe we immerse ourselves in a book or magazine, or park ourselves in front of the TV for hours. Perhaps we use the internet to shop for things we can’t afford and don’t need. And how many of us turn to our own version of  comfort food when we’re feeling low?

A little at a time, God has been showing me that the only way to get through anything tough is to go directly to Him. Beloved, that’s what He is there for!

Through reading my Bible and devotions, and praying for specific needs, God is always faithful to show me in His Word what He wants me to do. I have tons of past experience in trying to do things on my own before I finally remember how much better things are when I look to God first.

How much better would my life be if I always remembered to seek God first before leaping ahead of Him?

It’s important to remember that God doesn’t ever allow us to go through more than we can stand, even though the circumstances seem
overwhelming. When the crucial times are over, we can look back and see that God was with us all along, carrying our load for us just as His Son, Jesus Christ, did for us on that cross at Calvary.

Beloved, right now you can give your pains, frustrations and anxieties over to the only One who really cares about you and your problems.

Jesus carries

Jesus is our Balm of Gilead.
We can always count on Him to carry us through. 

The other day I once again heard John Waller’s wonderful song “While I’m Waiting” from the movie Fireproof and realized how well it speaks to the great peace and comfort we can feel as we wait on God to walk us through those inevitable tough times.

If you cannot view this video for any reason, you can read the lyrics here.

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I Put My Hope in You

Ps38-15

I Put My Hope in You

Lord, my every desire is known to You;
my sighing is not hidden from You.
My heart races, my strength leaves me,
and even the light of my eyes has faded.
My loved ones and friends stand back from my affliction,
and my relatives stand at a distance.

I put my hope in You, Lord;
You will answer, Lord my God.
—Psalm 38:9-11, 15

Has anyone ever questioned the validity of your illness or avoided you because of it? Perhaps they have wondered out loud how you can look so good when you tell them how rotten you feel.

I’m willing to guess that all of us who suffer with chronic illness and pain have experienced these times, because most chronic illness seems to affect us more internally than externally. When we try to explain our pain level to others, they just don’t get it because they can’t see any apparent outward symptoms.

This used to greatly frustrate me until the day one of my neighbors revealed to me that she had fibromyalgia too. She always looked great to me and seemed to have so much energy. I couldn’t believe she and I had this in common.

Suddenly I realized a horrible truth about myself: what I was thinking about my neighbor is exactly what is frustrating when others think these kinds of things about me! I finally understood their confusion and impatience with me at times.

When someone tells you they understand your pain because they are re going through something similar, don’t you feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders? This is the way God feels about us and our pain—He knows all about it and longs to carry us through it.

In these verses, David sounds weary with his situation, yet he also expresses his certainty that God is at his side and will answer his prayers. We can also have the assurance that God is in our corner even when others are not. He is always there for us. All we need to do is look to Him for His quiet understanding and limitless love.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, sometimes I get frustrated when people don’t understand what I’m going through. But You know and show me in so many ways how much You care about me and my situation. Help me to never lose sight of that fact, and to always look to You first for comfort and understanding. Amen.

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El Shaddai: God All-Sufficient

El Shaddai: God All-Sufficient

Gen17-1-2-ElShaddai

 

When Abram was ninety-nine years old,
the Lord appeared to him and said,
“I am God Almighty;
walk before me faithfully and be blameless.
 
Then I will make my covenant between me and you
and will greatly increase your numbers.”
—Genesis 17:1-2

If you cannot view this video for any reason, click here to read the lyrics.

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