The Bad Guys Win??

Rom 16:20 And the God of peace will be crushing Satan under your feet before long.

(Warning – Spoiler Alert for Avengers; Infinity War movie)

While my hubby and I share a lot of common interests, our taste in movies can be quite different. I think that my guy is sweet, sensitive and fairly mild-mannered, so I am always puzzled by the fact that he LOVES action movies filled with explosions, gunfire, and martial arts fighting. When I have questioned him about it he has answered that he likes the movies where the good guys kick bad guys’ butt – where good triumphs over evil.

He recently went to the cinema with his kids to watch the new Avengers movie, “Avengers; Infinity War” and received a bit of a shock when at the end of the movie – the bad guys won!!

With the way that evil is growing in the world and the way that the entertainment industry panders to violent society, I will not be surprised to see more and more movies and tv shows starting to show the bad guys winning over the good guys – evil triumphing over good.

So I am very glad that I know the truth that no matter how bad things get in this world, it is only for a time and then there will be a stop to it and then finally goodness will prevail over evil – once and for all!

Rev 12:12 Be glad then, O heavens, and you who are in them. But there is trouble for the earth and the sea: because the Evil One has come down to you, being very angry, having the knowledge that he has but a short time.

Rev 20:10 And the Evil One who put them in error was sent down into the sea of ever-burning fire, where the beast and the false prophet are, and their punishment will go on day and night for ever and ever.

Rev 17:14 These will make war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because he is the Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with him are named, marked out, and true.

Joh 16:33 I [Jesus] have said all these things to you so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble: but take heart! I have overcome the world.

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1Co 15:57 But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessings

 

 

 

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A Sacrifice of Praise

There have been many times in my life when I wished that I had the talent to write beautiful psalms like King David did. This evening was one of those times.

Summer evenings are my favourite time and since my hubby was away for the evening, I decided to go for a bike ride around my ‘hood. Now my idea of a good bike ride is travelling just slightly faster than a quick walking pace – so basically, a casual stroll on 2 wheels.

I love the mellow light and the cool freshness of the air during summer evenings. Life seems more restful and peaceful. I love the golden glow of the setting sun as it highlights the tops of the trees.

My neighbourhood and the country road out to the highway are thickly lined with verdant trees and plants in every shape and size and hue of green (my favourite colour) from lime to emerald.

The mild evening air is heavenly scented with the sweet but light perfume of flowering shrubs and trees.

And the air is filled with the sounds of birds – robins, wrens, flycatchers and wood thrushes –  singing their evening choruses.

Life feels very sweet at such times and I thank God for these moments.

As I was offering up my thanksgiving unto God for the beauty of the evening, and wishing that I could write a psalm for Him, I remembered the following chorus I used to sing at fellowship gatherings:

We bring the sacrifice of praise
Into the house of the Lord.
We bring the sacrifice of praise
Into the house of the Lord.

And we offer up to You
The sacrifices of thanksgiving;
And we offer up to You
The sacrifices of joy

 

I don’t know if the neighbours appreciated my singing, but I think my Heavenly Father did.

Blessings

Lessons in the Pain

I have not felt like writing much in the past few months. The winter was filled with stress – physical, emotional and mental. It is said that you can’t get blood from a stone; well, I say that you can’t get good thoughts from someone who feels brain-dead and heart numb.

I recently had a birthday, but for me it was not really a happy one. I have been struggling with chronic pain since my early 30’s and now that I am in my mid 50’s I am a bit battle fatigued. I have been plagued by the thoughts that if I am in this much pain now, what will I be like in the next 20-30 years? On top of the usual chronic pain I have also developed additional, and at times, severe pain in the groin area of one hip. The pain hits suddenly and is intense enough to cause me to exclaim out loud and almost drop me to my knees. This has happened to me while going for a walk, going up or down stairs, and even on a ladder.

I never know when that particular pain is going to hit me so I am nervous about going on any long nature hikes – which is a passion of mine. I think that aspect of the pain is causing me to feel very frustrated, angry and depressed. My husband and I are just beginning to plan to embark on enjoying retirement activities, most of which involved traveling with our “new” trailer, camping and nature hikes. This new pain aspect has filled me with fear about the possible limitations it may be imposing on my ability to fulfill our retirement dreams.

Pain has definitely slowed me down and at times, has stopped me in my tracks completely.

So, the topic of pain has been on my mind a lot lately and since pain plays such a large role in my life, I have been trying to learn if there has been, and/or is, any positive lessons that may have come about through the suffering of pain.

In some ways, pain has made me stubborn and a determined fighter. I refuse to give up on life simply because I am in pain. When I was younger and in pain, I still had two children to look after, a family to help support financially and a home to maintain. I no longer have young children nor have to work outside the home, but I still have a home to maintain and loved ones who need my help. Pain can certainly teach you perseverance.

Pain has taught me courage. It can be very difficult to choose to continue living when you are suffering a lot of pain. Choosing to move forward, to move past the pain, to continue loving, living and giving of yourself in the midst of suffering takes courage.

Pain can also teach patience. I must admit that I am not very good at patience. I have an active and adventurous soul and I like to keep busy both physically and mentally. I hate waiting for the episodes of pain and fatigue to pass so that I can accomplish something. But I am learning that I need to be patient with myself and if necessary, give time for the pain meds and/or rest to start working. Chronic pain can make me grumpy, so I have to learn to be patient with my loved ones if they are not understanding my pain or are doing things or not doing things which may frustrate me during that challenging time.

Pain has taught me to have empathy with, and compassion towards, others who may be suffering pain. My husband suffers from chronic daily headaches as well as migraines. Since we both suffer pain, it is easier for us to be very understanding, helpful and loving to one another during our bad times. Some of the most loving people I know are those who have suffered or continue to suffer some sort of pain.

There can be much misery in chronic or severe acute pain. I don’t like feeling miserable. Pain has taught me that I need to make good choices about the focus of my thoughts. I do my best to look for, and focus on, the blessings, large or small, that fill my day.

Believe it or not, pain can actually teach me gratitude. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT thankful for the pain! However, I do try to develop an attitude of gratitude for all the blessings that God has given me. I am thankful for my loving, understanding and patient hubby. I am thankful for my Mom who like me, also suffers from chronic and often debilitating pain, but who still remains an example of sharing God’s love with others. I am grateful for my sisters-in-Christ who offer encouragement and prayers when I need them. I am thankful for my peaceful home; the sound of the wind in the trees; the birds at my feeder and their cheerful birdsong. I am thankful for my warm and fuzzy cat; her affectionate cuddles and purring do much to alleviate negative thoughts and feelings. I am VERY thankful for the times when I am able to indulge in some of my favourite physical activities, like going for nature walks, biking or canoeing. I treasure such times like rare and precious jewels. The pain that usually ensues is almost always worth the enjoyment I received from the activity. I am also grateful for the helps that God has provided in the way of good medical care, medicine, therapy and long, hot Epsom salt soaks in my new bathtub.

Pain has also taught me to rest – something that I don’t really like doing, unless I have a good book to read! Sometimes, you just have to learn when to let go of things and simply accept it when you need times of rest. Since I am usually unable to nap, I look to find creative ways to fill my “rest” periods such as reading, watching nature documentaries, or doing a small craft.

Finally, pain has taught me to hope. While I have all but given up hope of being healed in this lifetime, I know and believe that when Jesus comes again, my body will be completely renewed and I will never suffer pain or sickness again. Now that is a hope to hold on to!

Rev 21:4 And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor crying out, nor will there be any more pain; for the first things passed away.

When a Parent Hurts

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I have not written anything here for quite a while as I have been struggling with increased pain, fatigue, and depression, but this subject has been on my heart for a while so I am trying to get some writing done today.

I think that the two most difficult jobs in the world are being married and being a parent. Of the two, I sometimes feel that being a parent is the more difficult of the two.

There is something special about the bond that is formed between parent and child. As a mother, I “planned” for both of my children and eagerly awaited confirmation of their existence. I carried them in my womb with excitement, wonder and awe, along with trepidation, anxiety and fear as I had some complications.

I was a young mom – maybe too young – but I really wanted to be a mom. Throughout all the ups and downs of parenthood, I have never once wished that I didn’t have my children in my life – maybe out of my sight and hearing for a while, but never out of my life.

Besides the challenge of training and disciplining our children, I think the hardest part of being a parent is during the times when we must watch our children suffer and we feel unable to help them.

Both of my children are grown and have children of their own now, but as I have told them a few times, you never stop being a parent, no matter how old your children are. Perhaps being the parent of adult children is the most challenging time of all. You can’t hold their hand to make sure that they don’t fall and hurt themselves. You can’t make wise choices and decisions for them. You can’t ground them to discipline them and keep them safe.

Instead, you have to hope that all the training, guidance and words of wisdom you gave to them throughout their childhood, have remained front and foremost in their minds and are put into practice in their adult lives.

But what happens if, despite all your love, all your support and encouragement, all your guidance and wise instruction, your child makes choices which are harmful to them and causes them pain, sorrow, loss, suffering and grief?

Can you stop loving your child? No! Can you walk away from them and forget them? No! Do you suffer, mourn and grieve with them? Yes! Do you feel absolutely helpless to do anything to alleviate your child’s suffering? Often, yes.

So what do you do in that situation? I look to The One who is the original parent, the Creator and parent of us all, the Heavenly Father. He wanted us; He planned for us; He created us; He eagerly awaited having a relationship with us. He provided the best of everything that we could possibly need or want. He gave us His love, His wisdom, His counsel.

And then, despite all that we had been given, we made a wrong choice and we immediately began to suffer the painful consequences.

Did God stop loving us? No!

Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Joh 3:16 For God had such love for the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever has faith in him may not come to destruction but have eternal life.

Did God forget us and forsake us? No!

Deu 4:31 For Jehovah your God is a merciful God; He will not forsake you, nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.

Heb 13:5 Let your way of life be without the love of money, and be content with such things as you have, for He has said, “Not at all will I leave you, not at all will I forsake you, never!”

Does God suffer when his children are suffering? Yes!

Isa 53:4 Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows;

Is God unable to help His children in times of need? No!

Isa 43:15 I am Jehovah, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.
Isa 43:16 So says Jehovah, who makes a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters;

I am absolutely convinced that God is the ultimate loving parent and that He suffers, greaves and mourns when His children make wrong choices and suffer unpleasant consequences. I also believe that He is not only “all-knowing” but also “all-powerful” and ” able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think”, unlike the human me, who is often powerless to do anything about my child’s suffering.

So when I am a hurting parent, I turn to The One whom I know understands and cares about how I feel AND who is able to do something about the situation. I just need to learn to bring it to Him; leave it with Him, and trust in Him to bring good out of bad situations.

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2Ti 1:12  but I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to guard My deposit unto that Day.

Blessings

 

Floating

When I was a child, my mother enrolled me in swimming lessons. She had been a competitive swimmer in school and we lived near Lake Ontario, so she thought that it was important for me and my two younger sisters to learn how to swim.

Many of those lessons took place in the morning in an outdoor pool – an unheated, outdoor pool. I remember one morning when the water was so cold, that a frog, who had unhappily landed in the pool, was shocked into a living rigor mortis! We soon joined the frog with equally frozen stiff limbs!

Although I did learn how to swim, it wasn’t all that enjoyable for me because I had to struggle to stay afloat. Treading water long enough to pass my swim test was an agony. I just couldn’t seem to bob along merrily.

I loved being in the water – just as long as I was sure that my feet could touch the bottom! But, deep water always held a bit of a terror for me.

Fast forward many years and I suddenly discovered that I was able to float – with a minimum of effort on my part. I have discovered that there is one good thing to middle-age, menopausal weight gain – fat floats! So now I can bob along quite merrily. It is a simple joy to just lay back, relax and float.

My hubby and I have often talked about going to a spa to try out a floatation therapy tank. Below is a description taken from a spa website:

Clients typically enter a private spa room outfitted with a floatation tank that holds 93-degree water containing 1,000 pounds of pharmaceutical-grade Epsom salts. The water is as dense as the Dead Sea, where one can float on the surface effortlessly without any body manipulation. Clients enter the tank nude, wearing earplugs and close the hatch behind them. They then lie back and float for 60 to 90 minutes in complete darkness. Because the temperature of the water is the same as skin temperature, within a few minutes you lose the sensation of where the body stops and the water starts.

I think that it would be just wonderful to lay in warm water in a quiet and soothing atmosphere – just floating in relaxing bliss.

This past weekend I attended a women’s conference at my church. Its focus was on encouraging us to spend more time carrying out what is commonly known as “the great commission” – that being, to make disciples of others.

Mat 28:19 Go then, and make disciples of all the nations, giving them baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:

I used to get enthusiastically fired up and raring to go after such teachings, however, this time, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was feeling a bit uncomfortable – perhaps a but guilty or condemned. I kept doing an internal systems check to see if I could find the problem, but I couldn’t come up with anything specific.

After a time of prayerful introspection, I came to the conclusion that I am just at a stage of ‘floating’. By that I mean that I am currently floating in a relaxing, spiritual bliss, safe in the loving arms of my Heavenly Father.

In a previous post , Striving vs. Living, I wrote the following:

“I [have] discovered the truth that the main purpose for my life was to have a close and loving relationship with my Heavenly Father, my Abba. This is something that I am able to do 24/7, whether or not I am attending church, carrying out ministry or volunteer work, or just staying at home.

I must confess though, that because I am a “do-er” type of person, and because I know the great need of this world and have a sense of urgency, I can still struggle with the feeling that I need/should be “doing” more. But I try to allow God to be the one to open up opportunities for ministry rather than me “chasing” them. I also try to remember to “bloom where I am planted”, which at this time, is looking after my beloved husband, and “being there” for my sons and mother, all of whom are struggling with various life’s challenges.

Now, instead of always feeling like I need to be constantly striving to carry out some sort of “work” for God, I spend much more time enjoying living with Him – no matter what I am doing.”

I have spent several years in active ministry. Even now, I lead a weekly women’s Bible study and I write this blog. I also try to do my best to share God’s truth, and Jesus’ way of living, with all the people in my life.

My life has been filled with a lot of stress over the past year and I am feeling a bit wrung out. But I have been finding comfort in the peaceful knowing that my God understands and that He is okay with me just ‘floating’ in His arms of love.

Come float with me.

Blessings

I am carried in the arms of grace and love divine
I am held by hands of healing washed by water pure
Lifting up my heavy heart held in grace scarred hands
I am carried in the arms of grace and love divine

Geoff Bullock

Carpet-bomb

Carpet-bomb:
1to drop large numbers of bombs so as to cause uniform devastation over (a given area)
2to bombard repeatedly, widely, or excessively 
Since the beginning of November, I feel like my life has been under one long carpet-bomb attack.
The increasingly dull, damp and cold weather causes a large increase in my pain and fatigue. This in turn made it much more challenging to stand at work for long hours thus increasing my pain and fatigue even more and decreasing my ability to deal with workplace stress.
My darling hubby was also suffering with weekly migraines lasting anywhere from 2-4 days. This required the house to be dark and quiet for long periods of time – not conducive to my already low spirits.
A family member, whom we are helping out and who had been living in our trailer during the warmer months has now moved into our small home until Spring. Not only did our living space get smaller, so did our routines, peace and privacy.
And then the enemy stepped up its offensive and the real bombing began, and in the aftermath, a young family has been torn apart; hearts have been broken; fear, insecurity, anger, blame, shame, and sorrow have left deep craters in the lives of all who are involved.
Our small home has become even smaller as we provide shelter and support to a troubled and wounded loved one. The walls of a 2 bedroom cottage/home are now stretched at the seams to accommodate 4 adults and all their accompanying baggage – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
To say that it has been challenging is an understatement! But, to say that God has been with me through all of this is also an understatement. Even during the times when I was so burdened and tired that I couldn’t even formulate a prayer in my head, I knew that God saw, understood, and acted in that situation.
I am so thankful for all those like-minded believers who prayed with me, and for me and my loved ones.
I am so grateful for my Saviour, Jesus, who carries my burden when it becomes too heavy for me.
And I am thankful for hope, a hope that is rooted in Jesus Christ and what he has done for me.
We are finally coming out the other side of this episode of the enemy’s carpet bombing. I know that there are still trials to come, but I believe and trust that God will continue to uphold and sustain me as I wait for the prayers for my loved one to be answered and healing and deliverance to manifest themselves.
Rom 5:1 For which reason, because we have righteousness through faith, let us be at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ;
Rom 5:2 Through whom, in the same way, we have been able by faith to come to this grace in which we now are; and let us have joy in hope of the glory of God.
Rom 5:3 And not only so, but let us have joy in our troubles: in the knowledge that trouble gives us the power of waiting;
Rom 5:4 And waiting gives experience; and experience, hope:
Rom 5:5 And hope does not put to shame; because our hearts are full of the love of God through the Holy Spirit which is given to us.
Rom 5:6 For when we were still without strength, at the right time Christ gave his life for evil-doers.

Care for the Care-giver

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Mar 1:45 … And they came to Him [Jesus] from every quarter. 

 

I feel like I have been a care-giver, in one way or another, for almost all my life. As the oldest child, I often felt responsible for looking out for the well-being of my two younger sisters. As a daughter, I have been very concerned about the health and happiness of my mother throughout the various trials and tribulations of her life. I have been a wife since I was 18 years old and have looked after the needs of two husbands, both of whom had various issues, including frequent, severe headaches. I am the mother of two sons, and although they are now adults with families of their own, I am still frequently called upon to be a listener, comforter and encourager. I also have the somewhat unenviable and dubious role as a not-really step-mom to two adult children, one of whom is living with us for a time. On top of all of these day-to-day care-giving rolls, I have also been a long-term care nurse, women’s fellowship leader, adult Sunday school teacher, and community volunteer.

It seems that being a care-giver is a natural aspect of my personality and use of my God-given gifts. So it would also seem that doing all these different care-giving jobs would be easy, joyful and fulfilling – NOT!

Being a care-giver can be wonderful, joyful and fulfilling, but often as not, it is draining – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. When this happens, I ask the question, “who cares for the caregiver”? Unfortunately, I have found that if I am hoping for, or counting on, other human beings to fill that need, I am often left feeling very disappointed which can then lead to feelings of bitterness, resentment and anger – not good!

Now some may say that being in service to others should leave us feeling filled and energized and that if we are not feeling that way, we are either doing something wrong or not using our gifts and talents where they are best suited. I agree that there may be some truth to that, and thus we should always seek God’s wisdom, discernment and wise counsel on how best to use what He has given to us. However, even the greatest care-giver, Jesus Christ, appears to have felt stretched thin, worn out and worn down at times by the cares of those to whom he was ministering.

Mat 26:37,38 And He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with Him, and He  [Jesus]began to be sorrowful and very heavy.  Then He said to them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.

So what are we, the caregivers, supposed to do when we begin to feel stretched thin, worn out and worn down? We need to follow Jesus’ example in these situations.

Jesus chose people. He surrounded himself with the people that he chose to help him carry out his Kingdom work.

Mat 4:18-22 And walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea. For they were fishermen. And He said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they immediately left their nets and followed him. And going on from there, he saw another two brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. And He called them; and they immediately left the boat and their father and followed Him.

Luk 6:13-15 And when it was day, He called His disciples. And He chose twelve of them, whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew;  Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alpheus, and Simon who was called Zelotes; Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, who also became the betrayer.

Besides the disciples and apostles who helped Jesus with his ministry, there also were people, like Mary Magdalene, who followed Jesus and ministered care unto him.

Mat 27:55,56 And many of the women were there, watching from a distance, those who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, watching from a distance; among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.

Luk 8:1-3 And it happened afterwards, He traveled in every city and village, proclaiming and announcing the gospel of the kingdom of God. And the Twelve were with Him, and also certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities; Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who ministered to Him of their possessions.

When you are involved in a lot of care giving, pouring yourself out for others, you need to make sure that you also have a human support system in place. Make sure you spend time with people who can encourage, comfort, support and bless you. I am very blessed to have some special people in my life to whom I can turn to when I need encouragement and support.

However, people, being flawed humans, can disappoint you and let you down, even the ones you can normally count upon. Jesus faced this very issue at the Garden of Gethsemane.

Mat 26:36-41 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane. And He said to the disciples, Sit here while I go and pray there. And He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then He said to them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Wait here and watch with Me.  And He went a little further and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will. And He came to the disciples and found them asleep. And He said to Peter, What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Jesus knew and understood the frailties and failures of humanity, so when Man failed him, or when he needed spiritual re-charging, comforting, support and encouragement, Jesus took the most important step – he went to the One in whom he could always trust and count upon to be there for him –  he went to his Heavenly Father in prayer.

Mat 14:23 And when He had sent the crowds away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray.

Mar 1:34, 35 And He healed many who were sick of different diseases, and cast out many demons. And He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.  And rising up quite early in the night, He went out and went away into a deserted place, and He was praying there.

Luk 5:15,16 But the word about Him spread even more. And great crowds were coming to hear, and to be healed from their infirmities by Him. But He [Jesus] was drawing back in the wilderness, and praying.

Luk 6:12 And it happened in those days that He [Jesus] went out into a mountain to pray, and He was spending the night in prayer to God.

So when my care-giving duties leave me feeling wrung out, worn down, and discouraged, I need to remind myself to follow Jesus’ example. I need to reach out and spend time with the One who is able to give me all that I need to continue serving others with love.

Eph 3:20 Now to him who is able to do in full measure more than all our desires or thoughts, through the power which is working in us, To him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations for ever and ever. So be it.