Friday, April 22, 2016

Life's Journey is like Stained Glass windows

Well there is this old Keith Green song called Stained Glass Windows. I just used to love this song, but I have a new realization of the goodness and grace of God through this picture. 

When a Stained Glass window is made, it consists of broken pieces of colored glass. The artist then has to take those broken pieces of colored glass and turn them into a window. The artist has to be careful to join them together in just the right way.   The windows are usually placed up high in church buildings. The sun will then hit them at peak strength. This will cause the colors in the stain glass windows to shine even brighter.   I have not done research on this of course until more recently. I was reminded of this just today as when at my Homeschool co-op and the church sanctuary is full of beautiful Stained glass windows with different parts of Scripture represented on them.  Some photographs are in this blog post.

My Abba Father has been chasing after pieces of my heart which have been broken over and over. He has showed me His abundant grace again and again. When I look back over the last 20 years I can see the incredible piecing together by my Father God artist. The window that He has designed is the most beautiful picture that I can see. My life portrayed full of grace, mercy and the Light of the Son shining through.

So when I look at the last few months of good changes, the realization that I can love someone else again, the newness of the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit blowing through my life, I see the sun shining into my heart and filling the building of my family once again with hope.
The rainbow of colors will still be shadowed at times but God, but God, but God can do over and above anything we could ever expect. With Easter fast approaching and the reminder of Christ’s blood being shed for us this rainbow of colors appeals to my heart, soul and spirit.

Easter and Resurrection Sunday came and went before I could get this posted. So here you go for the weekend reading list.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Second Year of Mourning

The journey less travelled is one that is harder. The Bible talks about the narrow way and the wide road. Obviously the narrow road is the journey less traveled. It is one that probably you have to climb over mountains along treacherous pathways where if you dare look to the left or right of you, you would fall, or become very afraid and start shaking with fear. It is followed by steep inclines into the valleys below the mountains, and then over another set of hills or mountains with deep dark valleys on the other side. This is how these last few months have been for our small family. I remember climbing Mount Inyangani in Nyanga, Zimbabwe and seeing the deep crevices in the rocks cutting down the other side of the mountain that had been put there by years and years of rain pounding the side of the mountain. There were also many trees standing bent over from years of strong winds blowing them in one direction. On the top of the mountain though was a fresh mountain stream with icy cold water. It was refreshing even on a cool fall day.

We have endured much suffering as a family by the US standard of suffering. Of course the Word of God says “we will suffer” in the last days especially. I think the believers on earth are suffering almost as much as those who lived in Bible times did, perhaps a little more.  Becoming friends with grief is not where I would like to stay. Grief can be your friend but really only for a period of time. I think for me personally the deep sense of loss of Walt happened almost right after the one year anniversary of his death. That is not so long ago. I felt desperation inside me that I was being carried by huge waves, like on a surfboard climbing to the top  of the wave and then plunging into the depths under the wave as it broke and washed up on to the shore. I am sure this sounds like depression. It probably is or was. I have never felt that way before in my life not knowing what I was going to do or feel the next second. To know that I was going to be okay I continued to play praise and worship music or Christian contemporary music in the night going to sleep, when I slept and 9 out of 10 times the Lord would minister directly to my heart through the words of a particular song.

More recently every time I get in the car or truck to run errands, take a son to practice, or even just when I wake up in the mornings my radio alarm clock has the perfect Scripture in song that I need to hear right  then. I think the grace and love of the Lord is chasing me, wooing me and drawing me to seek Him first and not things or stuff, to continue to bring myself back to Him and what He wants for our lives as a family.

I took a self-imposed retreat in the southern hills of Brown County in Indiana between Christmas and New Year. I was really alone without the boys for the first time in a year for more than 48 hours. It was deliciously enjoyable, yet being alone was good, and lonely at the same time. The Lord took me on a journey through 20 years of living in Indiana and all that I had seen and done with being married to Walt, being involved in three to four different churches and meeting some incredible people on this journey. So many of those folk were divine appointments. Some through doctors and nurses who just happened to be there at the right time when we needed prayer or guidance, others just met in the lobby of our church.

Whilst walking around the lake one cold afternoon I began to look at the trees and the broken down forests around and how they were all different in form.  My first picture is one of a cool fresh water lake that is dark and forlorn but beneath the surface of it life continues on perhaps just a little slower than other seasons. Fish go down deeper or move to warmer areas of the lake to keep safe.  Is this not what the human spirit does when times are cold and dark, we go to hide in the deep places so that our ‘hard’ is not exposed more to the cold damaging winter storms?

My second photograph is obviously of a tree that had fallen, but you know what, God still took that fallen trunk and turned it into something that glorified Him. I looked closer at the ‘life’ that showed up right there on something that most people would think was dead.  There is both lichen and moss growing prolifically on that trunk.

 God can still move. He is the God of the impossible. He is the God who clothes the trees, flowers and birds with exactly what they need. He gives them rest in cooler seasons, or instinctively plants in them the direction to fly to warmer places.  God can give that desire to us too to find warmer places to go for our spirits and hearts to be nourished too. God can take the dead things or what you thought was dead in your heart and bring them back to life again.  I thought that even when a tree is rendered totally dead and lying uprooted from the ground there is still life growing on or inn it. Even though your loved one may not be here any longer the Lord takes that legacy that in the natural is dead and gone, but 'new' things can start from there. Dead things can be changed to new dreams, new vision, new direction, new ideas - it is limitless with God.

Other photographs here show streams flowing into the lake and feeding its water supply providing freshness and newness of life to the lake. Though there were dead leaves everywhere I noticed that many of the lower branches of the trees were not on those really skinny trees. This is
because they had fallen off due to not getting enough nourishment or lack of light during the summer months I presume.  Sometimes, or a lot of times actually God has pruned situations, people and places out of my life. He showed me this again just to remind me where I have been and why.  The dead branches need to drop off at times to allow the tree to grow taller  towards the sky, but also to continue to allow its roots to grow deeper for security too. New growth and new branches come in the spring time too and remain for a time that the tree needs them or we need and allow them in our lives.

I crossed a few bridges. These reminded me of the help that our family had been given both financially, spiritually and physically in our home. Help with my boys now is gratefully received and cherished too. Bridges take us from one situation to another over another. There are rails on the bridge to make sure we stay in those boundaries and don’t try to venture out into side streams once again to find better options than what God wants for us. The lord puts those boundaries there for protection. Not to harm us like we usually think.

On the ground was leaves and moss, with the moss standing out in such vivid color against the dull brown, broken, dried leaves. To me this resembled how the broken
days had passed by but there were patches of green showing life once again. In the middle of the hard days there are times you can smile, laugh, or just have joy in your heart whilst tears are pouring down your cheeks. My broken dreams of what we may have accomplished together are no longer there. My dreams of spending nights snuggled with him are gone but we instead have different challenging evenings. Evenings that are not peaceful. The strategy to adjust that is coming slowly.

Lastly at the end of the pathway around the lake there were some amazingly tall trees but half of their root system was exposed. These thick strong roots had originally been covered, but even though now they were exposed they were still holding the tree up tall and strong.  All around these exposed tree roots were outcrops of moss. Green against gray.  I would rather take the green of ‘newness’ any day than gray of the old.  Our strength comes from the Lord. I am thankful for the Word of God and people that taught me this Word at a young age. I memorized verses like “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33) as a little girl by learning a song.  Sometimes I have to hum the chorus often through the day to remind myself if I am not seeking Him then I can not possibly be living the best possible way for Him. The tree roots I think have to grow twice as deep as the height of the tree to prevent the tree from buckling when the winds are strong. I could be wrong on that point but it made sense to me.

In order to become a stronger person of faith your roots and nutrition need to be stronger. This is the Word of God actively working in your life 'under' the soil. I am not an avid reader of the Bible right now but have to fight for every verse. I want to run and hide when the words jump off the page and convict me or scold me with their truth. But God's word rightly divides the truth from the garbage. I only want what is good to be inside me, and to be in my children. Living this out is a daily, sometimes hourly challenge. My closest friends know so many of our struggles, and mine and why, and still love me. Leaning on their faith and strength helps us through some days too.   Your roots will be exposed when the strong winds and storms come. Keep holding on is all I can say from experience.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your cares on Him and He shall direct your paths.” God’s word is the nutrition and food that our spirit and soul needs. I am preaching to myself right now because he reminded me how to live and why I live, because I’ve been redeemed, by the Blood of the Lamb. Only Jesus can rejuvenate those weary, depressed tired spirits in our lives. Only Jesus can nourish your aching heart where no-one can see that pain or talk through it with you.  It is a daily and hourly job to keep giving those cares back to the Lord. We do not need to carry them off the altar and then try to figure out what to do with all of them. I am so guilty of this one even in the last 24/ hours. That’s a fact.

We have to keep feeding our family the right nutrition both physically and spiritually.  I know I cannot depend on my children’s church pastor to be responsible for my son’s Christian walk. No that is my responsibility until they are old enough as a teen to take over.  There will continue to be life in my family. There will be joy and laughter again. There will be changes in our daily lives all the time, but if we keep eating the right Word nuggets day by day we can build back up the soil around the roots of our tree, or just grow deeper roots to search for a better source of nutrition. New branches will grow again on our trees.

I learned so much about the very nature of God’s design for my family just on those walks around the lake. Nature is like free counselling.  In the middle of my widowhood there is still life, it may be buried deep beneath the surface of our daily ‘grind’. But God – he rose from the dead and He can resurrect new trees or old trees strongly rooted with new branches too.  There are cardinals in the woods in winter too providing a different sense of color, the blood of Jesus showing up to remind us of His sacrifice for everyone. Your sacrifice as a man and allowing God to lead and guide you is minimal. A bird singing in the distance says there is still JOY in this season of barrenness. A woodpecker knocking against the branches means Jesus is still there knocking at the door of some of you who won’t let him in to all the hard places. (Speaking to me here for sure.)

So from a snowy cold Midwest stay safe in the storms and hold on with all you can.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Jesus Calling (Me)

The Lord has ministered to me so much recently on a daily basis through the book "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young. This book reminds me daily that the Word of God was written for a whole different variety of people throughout centuries of change.

September 30th 

I am perpetually with you, taking care of you. This is the most important fact of your existence. I am not limited by time or space; My Presence with you is a forever promise. You need not fear the future, for I am already there. when you make that quantum leap into eternity, you will find Me awaiting you in heaven. Your future is in My Hands; I release it to you day by day, moment by moment. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow.

I want you to live this day abundantly, seeing all there is to see, doing all there is to do.  Don't be distracted by future concerns.  Leave them to Me!  Each day of life is a glorious gift, but so few people know how to live within the confines of today.  Much of their energy for abundant living spills over the timeline into tomorrow's worries or past regrets.  Their remaining energy is sufficient only for limping through the day, not for living it to the full.  I am training you to keep your focus on My Presence in the present.  This is how to receive abundant Life, which flows freely from my throne of grace.

(Scriptures: Matthew 8:34;  John 10:10 ; James 4:13-15)

Why would this be so relevant to me? Well every day I think over the past 18-19 years, wonder what would my life be like if I had stayed in Zimbabwe. What would I be doing now, where would I be living in this world? All these questions.  

I would also have missed out on all the amazing people, places and experiences that I have had living in the United States. My faith has been stretched, to say the least, to the 'nth' degree. Some days are terrifying now, others satisfactory and some of them fantastic. 

When I choose to worry over the future of my boys, my latter years, my income, my calling, where I will be in a year from now, He reminds me of how far I have come, where I used to be, and who I am today. 

"I am a Princess in His eyes, I'm a vision of the Father glorified, I am beautiful to Jesus, I know" - that is what I want to be. I want to be like Jesus. I have a long way to go (IMO). 

Crying in the midnight hour over my precious angel boy and my sweet husband is healing to my soul, hurts my physical body and heart, but is so necessary and important. I am so blessed with some widows who have walked this road before me, praying for me and with me, coaching me through hard moments, reminding me what I have been through, and that it's okay. 

He's got me. Thankfully.  One day at a time is all He is asking of me. He's got the future of my family and I in His hands. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Crisis in Grief

I needed to write tonight before retiring dear readers whoever you may still be. To write on Caringbridge does not always fill the need for unexpressed emotions indeed.

What does one's day look like when you roll out of bed early and see the constant pile of papers and documents to be filed and put way neatly on the other side of this huge bed that your beloved husband used to sleep in. Rotten ! Why have I not organized this yet so that my precious boys can lay on my bed and talk to me or reminisce about their Dad, or watch a show he used to like. I don't know - perhaps I am scared of losing the memories of him being there, and replace them with new ones. Perhaps I am just too lazy and became too much of a procrastinator like he was, and could not be bothered to do the work.

Challenges on how to parent a teenage boy when nearby there is no-one really close to teach them how to grow up into a man. I know some men who are husbands of my friends, but most of the time I do not like to intrude on their family time.  You say that is ridiculous, but it's not. I do not think I would like a widow asking my husband for help. Yet it is what God's word says to do. Mmmmm- stirring I think, maybe too much.

How can I get inside the head of an almost 8 year old who is missing his Daddy like crazy but who does not have the words to express it,  so instead bubbles up like a volcano full of wrath and lashes out at everyone who is closest to him, but has fun with those he does not really do 'life' with? He is one incredibly smart, amazing child so full of energy that needs to be let out.

As I lay there and think long into the night, of the roof that may need repairs, the inside handyman work that needs to be done in the next 10 days, and other worries - I just do not know where to start. Yes I have made significant steps to start detoxing my home of all the "things" that have built up during the last 3 years of fighting cancer as a family unit, but think if I had not let it build up around me during that time I would have less stress now. Ugh - who's to know.

Researching for a child's career that is 5 years down the road and trying to get inside his head so you can help him understand it is not all about him or just what he likes to do , but needs to be something that will inspire others too, as well as be work he enjoys and pays the bills. This is heavy stuff to face each day.  Wow God sure knew what he was doing when he created Man and Woman together to face life and all the difficulties of each day.

I want my home to be full of laughter again like when my son and my husband were still here that first year of my baby boy's life. I do not want to be upset or Miss. Perfectionist, but just Mummy hugging and loving on these blessings God trusted me with. The Holy  Spirit and grace are much needed gifts in our home hourly.

I want to sing from the mountain tops that He is Alive, yet bow before Him in humble worship, then in the next second want to lead others into His presence and sense the Lord's overwhelming , consuming love that He has for each one of us.  Worshiping my Savior is what I love to do best and is an incredible stress release for me.

May I re-learn to breathe in the oxygen of the love of the Lord again in every area of my life and heart, may I learn to live with my whole heart and not just a part. May the Joy of the Lord be my strength , physically, mentally and spiritually.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Life after Husband's Heavenly Appointment.

Dear Friends and Readers of my blog,

I have been noticeably absent for some time. My precious husband went to be with Jesus in November. We journeyed through Thanksgiving, Christmas and the first few months of the New Year slowly. It has been a difficult, joyous, relief, anger, bitterness, confusion and much much more emotional roller-coasters too. Please excuse my English grammar here.

I will update our journey through the maze of grief more as days go by as well as how to continue homeschooling in the middle of and future of this family grief and chaos. Our lives are a permanent chaos BUT living and practicing Grace with each other and outsiders of our home is something we are learning to do daily.

Thanks for reading.



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Family Crisis again

For those who are wondering why I have not updated in forever on here it is due to the fact that my husband's cancer has got a lot worse. He is more than Stage 4 now and is on palliative pain medicine and care basically by a home care nurse.

He is waiting on a new drug which is ready to ship to us but my husband has jaundice really bad. He is having difficulties using the bathroom too and the plumbing is just not working right. We are still homeschooling a little bit each day through the situation.

Please go to this link if you want to stay abreast of the situation. Thanks.

Enjoy the fall

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Can you Cope with Crisis?

Today and this week I am struggling. Struggling with the inability to do all the things that I am supposed to do in my job, as a wife and Homeschool Mom. My heart is definitely floating outside my body today.

I do not get on my knees too often, (but choose to pray whilst being active), but it seems that I need to do this very often recently. Sometimes I end up taking a nap when in that position too. Don't laugh, or smile - yes you have probably done that once or twice too.

I am grasping with the how, why us again, why now, wait until my boys are grown up, can I handle this all now. That's right, it is not up to us to handle. Life is a journey sometimes short and sometimes long but mostly just right in length. When I think of beautiful places , usually they involve mountains, waterfalls, deserts, hills, lots of busyness of nature criss-crossing each other. Well I think life is like that for us too.

Crisis has been a part of my life for at least 7 years now. I mean major life happenings. Firstly the diagnosis with cancer in our son, then for 2 years fighting that with him, then grief for a very, very long time; and now cancer again. All the "what if's " hang in the air unspoken each day between my husband and I.  Physically it is difficult to hold each other arm in arm as it is uncomfortable for him. Being able to comfort each other emotionally is hard too - as I'm sure you can imagine.

I ask God to heal and to do that miracle right before our eyes and then I think, well maybe it will take a while. Do I now have enough faith or belief? Yes I do. I know God can do this. He has done it before and He can do it again.  God you are not moving fast enough, well, some days He just does not do that. Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit wrap me in Your arms and strengthen me. I am so thankful for the Word of God, it comforts , strengthens and lifts my spirit to rejoice.

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above Ye Heavenly Hosts,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost."

The doxology is always a comfort to me and a reminder of so much we need to be thankful for. Share with me in the comments how you cope with continuous crisis?