My New Year’s Resolution–To Be Content

Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good.

These are the words of Israel’s wisest king, King Solomon.  The Book of Ecclesiastes is his reflections about all he learned in life.  At least it is my understanding that King Solomon is the author.  There are different thoughts about who penned these words, but I like to think it was King Solomon as he, when he was given the opportunity from God to ask for anything, asked for wisdom.  I like to think that he experienced everything people typically want to experience, and within this book of wisdom, he reveals the greatest lessons he learned.  In many of his observations about human life he declares that the efforts of mankind are ultimately vain, empty, meaningless–a mere chasing after the wind.  So, of all the things that he observed and experienced, what was the one thing he saw that was truly good?

It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life.

The ultimate good that man can experience is to be content with who he is, what he has, and what he does.  To recognize that his lot in life was sovereignly planned, and that God has a reason and a purpose for all life.

Usually at this time of year, I think about what I want to accomplish in the upcoming New Year, and I write down some goals.  I start planning how I will accomplish those goals and imagining what it will feel like when those goals are realized.  Last year my goal was to finish a half marathon in under three hours.  Didn’t happen.  I did finish a half marathon, but due to cramping and spasms in my right calf muscle, I had to walk the final four miles, and I finished in 3 hours and 15 minutes.  So, do I beat myself up about not reaching my goal?  No.  Did I fail.  NO!  I’m not going to quibble about 15 minutes.  And, yes, I have some running goals in mind for 2015, but I decided that there is something much more important for me focus on this year–contentment.

I, more than anything, want to find a way to remain in a state of happiness and satisfaction with who I am, what I’m doing, and to recognize all that God is doing in the present and to realize that my life and everything and everyone in it are a gift from Him.  I want to be aware of all the wonderful things God is doing in and through my life, right now.  I don’t want to miss living in the present.

To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life–this is indeed a gift from God.  God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past [or worry about the future].–Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 (italics mine)

What a concept!  To be busy just enjoying life.  That’s what I want most.

life is good co

Bittersweet: Thoughts and Reflections on 2014

Bittersweet.  That’s how I would describe this past year.  The year started out with some very stressful and challenging situations, but we are ending on a much sweeter note, and we are hopeful for better things in 2015.

We faced some very challenging events this year.  In February I went the ER with a pounding heart and extreme dizziness.  At this same time, we were beginning therapy with our son for his behavior issues.  As we explored his behavior issues deeper, we made the painful discovery that he is on the autism spectrum.

In ensuing months, my health improved, and, through God’s leading, we found the right people to help our son.  I transitioned from working half-days to a new full-time job so that my husband can focus his full attention on our son’s therapy and homeschooling.  Our daughter started full day pre-Kindergarten.  Lots of good changes.

As I think about the concept of bittersweet, I remember the traditions of the Passover Seder involving maror and the charoset.  The maror is the bitter herbs, usually horseradish, that is scooped onto a piece of matzah and eaten.  It’s supposed to be a painful experience that brings tears and coughing and gagging.  Later in the meal, the sweet charoset (a mixture of apples, nuts, and wine) is scooped onto matzah.  Everyone likes this part of the meal as it is a reminder of the hope for good things ahead.  I always heard that the charoset represents the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to make bricks for Pharaoh; however, in the article I linked (click on the word charoset above), the author points out that in the Talmud, the charoset actually represents the blood of the paschal lamb, thus the addition of wine into the mixture.  One of the most meaningful parts of the Seder meal is when you take a piece of matzah and scoop some maror and then top it with charoset…a mixture of the bitter and the sweet…to remember two things:

  1. Even in the most joyous ocassions, we should remember those who are suffering, and
  2. When we suffer, there is hope!

Right now my family is celebrating Hanukkah.  Tonight is the 7th night.  7 represents completion, and tomorrow’s 8th night represents a new beginning.  What a wonderful way to enter into our Christmas celebration!  Commemorating the birth of our Savior, our Paschal Lamb, who shed His blood to take away the bitterness of death, sin, and shame, and to give us abundant life, righteousness, and confidence in the presence of God.

As we enter into 2015, I am determined to lay down the bitterness and pain so that I can embrace the sweetness of hope for a bright and glorious future.


Purposefully Practice Remembering

Okay, stop what you’re doing, take a deep breath, slowly exhale, take another breath, exhale even more slowly.  Relaxed?  You’re welcome.

All of us know what we’re about to embark upon, the crazy busyness of the holiday season.  Who else, besides me, vows year after year to remember to not get too caught up in the hub-bub and slow down and enjoy the season?  We need to be reminded over and over again about what really is important.  What is important?  What do we focus on during the holidays?  Family?  Friends?  Food?  Parties?  Concerts?  Decorations?  Presents?  All good things, to be sure, but…

What should we focus on?

When I was a child Christmas was the most exciting time of the year.  The day after Thanksgiving was the kick-off for our Christmas celebration.  Our tree went up, and presents were laid out underneath, and I had more than a month to anticipate what I was going to get.  Christmas was all about my presents–what I was going to get.  My parents made an agreement that there should be no mention of Jesus and all the focus should be on Santa Claus and toys.  You see, my father was Jewish and my mother was raised being forced to go to church, and both were mad at God.  They played the Santa game, and I fully and unreservedly believed in Santa.  I completely trusted that my parents were telling me the truth.  Gullible?  Maybe.  I needed something to believe in.  As hard as my parents tried to eliminate God from our household, they couldn’t stop me from searching for God, and I found Him.

Now that I’m the parent of two young children, what does Christmas look like in my household?  We still get our tree the day after Thanksgiving, but presents are not laid out until Christmas Eve.  My children know who Santa Claus is, but he is not the focus of our celebration.  We now focus on the birth of Jesus.  I take every opportunity to recount the Nativity story and have Christmas music that focuses on Jesus playing on our stereo.  My husband and I do not exchange gifts with each other.  Our children each get two small gifts (one from us, and one from each other).  We reserve our most generous giving to the two children we sponsor through World Vision and other charities.

This year, I want to be even more purposeful to remember Jesus during this season by making time each day to walk through the Advent season hand-in-hand with Him by doing a 4-week study beginning on December 1st.  Each evening, my family and I will take 15-20 minutes to read Scripture, talk about it, and pray together.  My desire is that we cultivate a culture of thankfulness and giving, rather than the greed I grew up with.  I hope that my children will learn to think first about thanking God for His perfect Gift (Jesus), and desiring to bless people who are most in need at this time of year.

This year, my family and I will be using the Hello Mornings Advent Power Pack which includes the study guide “Then Came Jesus” and everything listed on the picture below for only $5.00.  I have been blessed by the simple Bible study guides produced by Hello Mornings.  They are truly guides with very little commentary that allows me to seek the LORD to reveal to me what He wants me to see.

If this is something you’re looking for, a way to purposefully practice remembering Jesus this Advent season, please consider purchasing this Power Pack.  Full disclosure–I do have an affiliation agreement, and I will financially benefit from any power packs sold through my affiliation link.  However, my promise to you is that 100% of any money I receive through these sales will be donated to the Salvation Army.

Please click on the picture below to order.  May Jesus reveal Himself in surprising ways to you this season.


Our Journey of Hope

Our journey of hope begins.  For the first time since we received our son’s diagnosis and started putting together the puzzle pieces, we have hope.  We have a compass and a map, and we have gas in our car and are ready to go.

Hearing that our son is on the autism spectrum was hard and painful, but even more painful was the resistance we encountered from our physicians and therapists who gave us no reason to hope that there could ever be a day when he wouldn’t carry the ASD label.  He may improve, but he would always be autistic.  Anything we wanted to try was shot down and not supported by the very people we were supposed to lean on for help.  Whenever we asked about a particular test or a nutrition protocol they seemed to condescendingly say to us, “Shut up.  We’re the experts!” because they thought there wasn’t enough scientific evidence to back it up though there were plenty of accounts of success that convinced us to at least try.

Up until now I feel like we’ve been wandering through a labyrinth and slamming into walls of resistance at every turn.  Our son met with a therapist over the summer, but she determined that he would be better served by going to speech therapy.  We got him going on that only to have his therapist quit and move to another city.  My husband wasn’t too impressed with the therapy anyway.  The local autism centers are overflowing, and there is a long waiting list.  We have been following the GAPS diet with some success, and the person who is coaching us through the diet told us about The Family Hope Center about a month ago.  We checked out their website and liked what we saw.  For me, I especially liked that their approach is to train the parents to do the therapy at home.  This is part of their philosophy:

Our clinical team and your family become partners in the strategic development of your child while keeping the family first.

Last week, my husband and I attended their three-day conference for Parents of Special Needs Children, which far exceeded our every expectation.  The staff at The Family Hope Center works from the premise that all kids can be made well, and they believe in the potential of the brain to heal.  You see, they don’t imprison kids into labeled cells.  They believe that kids can become whatever they want to be rather than what their deficiencies say they have to be.

Rather than assigning a diagnostic label like autism, ADD/ADHD, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, etc. they

evaluate your child’s development, pinpoint the location of the dysfunction in the brain, and design and develop a highly-individualized, tailored treatment plan—physical, physiological, emotional, social, and nutritional—that specifically targets the injured area. Then, we follow up with support, supervision and ongoing counseling.

The Family Hope Center developed an Integrative & Developmental Progression Chart which they use to calculate each child’s neurological age.  The neurological age compared with the child’s chronological age is used to calculate the percentage of the child’s functionality and whether the injury to the brain is mild, moderate, severe, or profound.  Their staff walked all of us participants through the chart and we calculated these numbers for our children.  My husband and I calculated that our son, chronologically 83 months (almost 7 years), is neurologically 63 months (5 years 3 months) and functioning at 73% with a moderate brain injury.  However, we did suspect that perhaps these numbers and percentage would be higher with more expert assessment.

My husband and son are at The Family Hope Center now, and the results of their expert assessment are that he is actually neurologically 45.4 months (3 years 9 months), resulting in functionality of 54% with a severe brain injury.  This is much worse than I suspected.  Hearing the explanation, I completely agree with their assessment though it feels like I was punched in the stomach.  But now we know.  We know where we are, and we know where we are going, and most importantly, with the therapy program they’re developing right now, we know how to get there.  We have hope.  We have that feeling that what is wanted can be had, and that everything will turn out for the best.

And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  (Romans 8:28)

What do we want?  We want our son to live the life God intended, to fulfill his every potential, and to be a blessing in the earth.

Before I felt like we kept slamming into walls.  Since we found out about The Family Hope Center I feel like a whole new world of opportunity and bright horizons have opened up for us.

The Right Thing To Say


The kind of person I am is revealed by the words I speak, and in the twelfth chapter of Matthew, Jesus compared my words to fruit.  My words can be sweet and nourishing or they can be hard and bitter.  What is the taste that lingers when I speak?  Do people want to hear more of what I have to say, or do they want to get away from me?

…For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. (Mt 12:34b)

My words reveal my heart. If I want my words to change then my heart must change, and by “heart” I mean my attitude.  In another parable, Jesus compared the heart to the soil of a field. The soil was either hard, stony, thorny, or good soil, and on whichever type of soil seeds fell would determine how those seeds would grow.

So, how do I change my heart to ensure that the soil is good so my roots can grow deep and my branches produce good fruit?

If my heart is hard:
Jesus taught that people’s hearts are hardened based on what they hear and what they see (see Matthew 13:15-17).  So, in order for me to cultivate the soil of my heart, I need to be careful and purposeful about what I’m listening to and what I allow my eyes to look at.

This doesn’t mean I plug my ears and sing, “La La La” to block out any opposing viewpoints, but I need to be a gatekeeper for my heart.  It’s important to understand other people’s views, but I need to determine how listening to them is affecting me.  Do I need to change my viewpoint, or do I need to respectfully listen and make a choice to leave their views with them?  Does that make sense?  Paul wrote about not having a weak mind that is tossed about with every wind and wave.  So, it’s important for me to be secure in myself and my core values, and be careful about what I allow myself to think about.  Another effective way to soften a hard heart is through prayer and worship.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

In the same way, I need to be careful what I allow myself to look at.  In Job’s defense, he stated,

I made a covenant with my eyes… (Job 31:1)

I need to do the same.

If there are stones in my heart
I believe the stones represent wounds, so to dig out the stones, I need to forgive those who hurt me.

If there are thorns in my heart
I need to cast my cares and worries upon the LORD, and trust Him for every aspect of my life.

Cultivating the soil of my heart, breaking up the hard ground through prayer and worship, digging out the stones through forgiveness, and casting my cares upon the LORD prepares me to receive the good and incorruptible seed, which is the Word of God, which produces abundant fruit in my life by the words I speak.

Why Do I Blog?

While scrolling through the site, I discovered they were offering a free two-week course on the basics of blogging.  I thought it would be fun, and I’m looking forward to what I can learn so I can figure out a direction for my current blog.  This is the first assignment–to consider what it is that I want to accomplish with my blog and to develop goals.


My first blog, Next Year: A Marathon was for a specific purpose.  I needed a tool to keep me accountable to fulfill my goal of completing a marathon.  That blog chronicled my journey from running my first mile to crossing the marathon finish line.  Now that goal is complete, so I started a new blog, this blog, with the lofty purpose of having a place to unload my brain.  I don’t really have a specific goal in mind.  It is on my bucket list to someday write a book, but now is not the time.  Blogging gives me a place to unleash my thoughts and ease my mind.  I don’t really have a need for an audience, I’m not trying to impress anyone, but I sincerely appreciate when someone reads what I write, and it’s even nicer when someone puts in that extra effort to click “Like.”  There is tremendous power in the “Like,” and comments are worth their weight in gold.

For years I scribbled in spiral notebooks, and those notebooks are in boxes or up on shelves collecting dust.  Awhile ago I pulled down some of those notebooks and skimmed through them.  There were things I wrote years ago that were powerful.  It was hard to believe that I was the person who wrote them…it was as if the words of my past were teaching me a lesson for my present situation.  I really wanted a place to store the things I wrote and an easy method to retrieve them.  Blogging helps me organize my thoughts.  Blogging gives me an outlet to speak.  It gives me a voice whether anybody is listening or not.  It’s a place I can let my thoughts be known, because you will likely not find me engaging in verbal debate.

My dream blog would have a size-able audience of people who enjoy my writing, are inspired by what I have to say, and who can relate to me.  I would love to see the comments section filled with encouraging words from my readers who allow me the honor of encouraging them reciprocally.

My goals for this blog:

  • To post weekly.
  • To write to express my thoughts rather than impress potential readers.
  • To subscribe to and participate by commenting on five other blogs.

So, pretty basic, these goals of mine.

Let There Be Light–Be the Light

I truly love this time of year when the hot, sticky summer cools off into crisp, fresh fall.  I love the colors and smells of this season.  I love getting to wear cosy sweaters and boots and scarves and hats.  I love sipping chai lattes, and I look forward to that first taste apple crisp and pumpkin pie.  There is one thing, however, that I absolutely detest about this time of year, and that is Halloween.

The focus on death, horror, fear, and mischief is not something I want to celebrate. I know other people have different convictions, and they are free to do what they like.  Knowing the origins of many of the practices of Halloween prevents me from having a clear conscience in participating myself.  In past years, my husband and I chose to merely ignore Halloween.  Now that we have children, we cannot ignore it.  We need to face it and explain to them why we don’t celebrate like others do.  We explained to them that we want to honor God in our celebrations.  We did choose to allow our kids to get costumes that inspire them to aspire to greatness, and we will attend the Hallelujah Carnival at my daughter’s school for an evening of family fun.  It is a compromise that I don’t take lightly.  The decision we came to is that rather than cursing the darkness, we want to be the Light.

There is a lot of debate and much written about this topic of whether Christians should celebrate Halloween or not, and it is really not my purpose for this post, and there is more happening in the world now that fills people with dread–ISIS and the Ebola virus to name a few.  The purpose of this post is to discuss what it means to be a light.  Jesus said,

“…a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father.”  Matthew 5:15b-16

A light serves three distinct functions.  The first is to counter the darkness so people can see.  At first the light can be uncomfortable and downright painful.  When a person is in the dark or is asleep, suddenly turning on a light is painful for them.  But when their eyes adjust and things come into focus they can see what is truly happening around them enabling them to make good decisions about what they should do next…even if it’s just getting out of bed.

The second function of light is to give warmth to those who are cold.

The third is my favorite.  Later this year my family will celebrate Hanukkah.  The purpose of the Hanukkah menorah is not to give off useful light whereby a person can see or to warm themselves.  The light of the Hanukkah menorah is merely to be beautiful.  It is to be placed in a window so all can see its beauty and remember the great miracle God performed.

Leonid Afremov is one of my favorite artists, and I included an image of one of his paintings.  What strikes me is that it is a dreary, rainy night, and the couple is walking close together to keep each other warm.  I can imagine they are hunched together, eyes downcast, and hurrying as fast as they can to get out of the cold and the rain, but look at the beauty revealed by the lampposts!  These lampposts fulfill all three functions of light.  They illuminate the path and surrounding beauty, and if the couple were to get close enough, there would be warmth, and the lampposts are in themselves beautiful.  We are to be like those lampposts being beautiful and revealing the beauty around us in the midst of dreadful dreariness and offering to them comforting warmth.  People may be focused on their own suffering and not even notice that there is beauty all around them.  The lampposts don’t shout to them, “Hey!  Look up.  Look around you.  Don’t you see?”  The lampposts are just there being the light.


Sovereignty: The Ultimate Superpower

What’s a good word to describe God?  Omniscient?  Omnipotent?  I like the word sovereign when describing how God works in my life.  Omniscient makes me think of some giant pulsating brain that controls the thoughts of the masses, much like the evil force on the planet Camazotz called IT in Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, and the word omnipotent conjures images of Zeus hurling lightning bolts down on whomever displeases him.  When I think about the word sovereign I see a kindhearted, benevolent King Who is omniscient and omnipotent and at the same time lovingly orchestrates and oversees the events of my life to ensure that all things lead to my benefit, people’s good, and ultimately God’s glory.

It is a simplistic and childlike viewpoint, to be sure, because there are things that happen in life that are horrifically painful and terrifying.  In the past few weeks we’ve seen videos of innocent men brutally beheaded by those acting under the forces of evil (convinced they are doing good), we’ve read accounts of children being mutilated and decapitated and sliced in two, and we are always reminded of those who are languishing in prison for no other crime than being a Christian.  There are many, many– too many–other people groups who are suffering dreadfully.  Much closer to home, there was a 20-year old man killed in a car accident just yesterday, and also yesterday, a dear friend of mine who was nearly full-term with her second child discovered that he died in her womb, and she will now have to give birth to a stillborn baby boy either tonight or tomorrow morning through induction.  In my personal life, my husband and I are navigating the unfamiliar territory of supporting our son who was recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.  How do any of these things benefit me, bring goodness to people, or give God glory?

If God is omniscient, does He know that all these terrible things are happening?  If He is omnipotent, is He powerless to stop it?  Why doesn’t He just stop it?  How can He allow it?  Many others have written much more eloquent answers to these questions than I can write.  I am not a theologian nor a Biblical scholar.  I’m a middle-aged working mom who trusts in God’s sovereignty no matter what, because I know that He knows, I know that He can, and I know that He will bring all things to right in the end, and it is this faith that enables me to endure.

Miriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman who faced the death penalty testified,

“I had my trust in God,” she said. “My faith was the only weapon that I had in these confrontations with imams and Muslim scholars, because that’s what I believe.”

While God is sovereign, there is still the reality that we live in a fallen world, and that through the Fall control of the earth came into Satan’s hands.  During Jesus’ temptation, Satan told Him he would give Him all the kingdom’s of the world, and Jesus didn’t dispute the claim that these kingdoms were Satan’s to give.  As Christians we believe that Jesus is coming again in power and glory and will exercise His sovereignty to hurl Satan into the Lake of Fire and set up His rule and reign in a Millennial Kingdom.

Even as we wait for His glorious return, and as we still suffer challenging situations and hear of atrocities around the world, we have hope that He is not powerless to move and work on our behalf now.  I trust in my simplistic, childlike way that God is the Ultimate Superhero, endowed with Sovereignty, and that He works all things for my benefit, for the good of all who have faith in Him, and that His Name will be glorified.


Love and Respect for God

One thing I have learned over the years is that God is complex and multifaceted.  People try to simplify Who He is so that our finite minds can grasp His infinite wisdom.  If asked to describe God, most people would say, “Well, God is love,” and they would be correct.  However, that is only a part of the overall tapestry of God’s intricate nature and character.  In these days, many teach that God is a Papa who loves His children, and we can run to Him, jump on His lap, and even tug on His beard.  Others like to portray Him as a good friend you can laugh with and have a good time together.  I’m not saying that God isn’t a loving Papa nor that He is unapproachable, because He is both loving and welcomes us with open arms; however, He is also holy and worthy of respect and awe.  Years ago, I heard John Bevere speak about entering into God’s presence, and I believe this point is contained in his message Drawing Near.  He points out that the scene in Heaven (and this is New Testament!!) of worship before God’s throne is not of the elders casting their crowns at His feet shouting “Love! Love! Love!”  No.  They are declaring He is “Holy! Holy! Holy!”  God is completely loving and at the same time He is completely holy, and our response to Him should be loving and respectful.  If we don’t have both, we’re missing out on knowing God for Who He truly is.

This is something I’ve pondered over the years, and I’m thinking about it again as I’m involved in a Bible study on the Book of Jonah.  Jonah is a little book in the Old Testament.  Only four short chapters telling a story of a prophet sent by God to the city of Nineveh (in modern-day Syria) to proclaim God’s wrath and judgment because of their wickedness and violence.  Jonah’s immediate reaction was to hop aboard a ship heading in the opposite direction.  God sends a raging storm, Jonah is thrown overboard and swallowed by a whale.  For three days Jonah was crushed inside the belly of the whale.  He cried out to God and the whale spit him out on land.  Jonah went to Nineveh.  The people listened to him and repented of their wickedness, and God, in His great love and mercy (this is the Old Testament), relented and spared them.  The story basically ends with Jonah getting mad at God for not destroying the city and making him look like a fool.  It’s kind of a weird story and leaves me scratching my head wondering what this is all about.

The story of Jonah has captured the imaginations of many.  You can see the story enacted on stage in Branson, Missouri, and it is the subject of a major motion picture, okay, a VeggieTales movie.  The final song says it all, “Jonah was a prophet…but he really never got it.”


My take on Jonah is that what he never really got is an understanding of Who God is.  Everything Jonah did was based on fear, and everything God did was His sovereign way of orchestrating events to reveal Himself to Jonah.  Even after being expelled from the whale, he went to Nineveh, not out of love for God or compassion for the people, but fear of what just happened to him.  His reaction to God’s mercy reveals his lack of love and respect for God.  This reminds me of Lester Sumrall.  As a young man he was stricken with tuberculosis and was about to die.  On one side of his bed he saw a coffin.  On the other side was a giant Bible.  God told him he must choose.  Well, he didn’t want the coffin, so he chose the Bible, and was miraculously healed.  He began to preach the Gospel all around the countryside; however, he really didn’t care if the people accepted his message or not.  All he cared about was not dying.  He told of one time when he asked a lady if she wanted to accept Jesus, she said no, and he yelled, “Then go to hell!”  One day he had a vision of people from all the nations of the world walking off a cliff into the fires of hell, and in the vision he tried to stop them, but they wouldn’t listen to him.  He heard the LORD say, “Their blood is on your hands.”  The result of this vision was that compassion for the people rose up within him.  To hear more of this man’s amazing life, I highly recommend the book The Life Story of Lester Sumrall.

I have difficulty with the idea of the “God of the Old Testament is mean” and the “God of the New Testament is loving.”  God is God of both the Old and the New Testament, and there are many occurrences of grace and mercy in the Old Testament, and occurrences of judgment and wrath in the New Testament (anyone want to talk about Ananais and Sapphira?).

All this to say that it is important that we know God for Who He is.  Understand His heart for the people He puts in our lives.  Understand that He is worthy of all of our love and all of our respect.  One of the best examples of this concept is a married couple.  Love isn’t enough to keep a marriage together.  In fact, it is important to understand that women speak the language of love and men speak the language of respect.  For a man and woman to truly walk together in unity is to understand how to speak and understand the other’s language.

Research reveals that during marital conflict a husband most often reacts when feeling disrespected and a wife reacts when feeling unloved.

My greatest desire is to know God…all of Him.

Help in Times of Need

First of all, I’m doing good.  Not that there aren’t still challenges, but life is manageable now.  However, I do have some very dear friends who are facing life and death situations, and I find myself wondering “When a friend is going through a difficult time, what is the best way to offer support?”

Most people say, “Let me know how I can help.”  This bugs me.  I know that when I’m going through a tough time, the only thing I’m thinking about is getting through the day.  I don’t even know what I need most of the time.  It seems like an unfair burden, when I’m already crushed under the weight of what I’m going through, to have to think of something to make someone else feel better because they helped me.  It would be so much better if someone would just step up to the plate and say, “I’m coming over on such and such a day and taking your kids so you can go do something…”  or, “I’d like to bring a meal over this week.  What night would be best?”    or, “Let’s get together for coffee…”

It goes without saying that we don’t know how to respond to people’s pain.  We don’t know what to say.  Sometimes we avoid them.  I remember that soon after my mother-in-law died after a lengthy illness, our doorbell rang.  We opened the door to find that someone left dinner for us on our porch.  They put down the food bundles, rang the doorbell, and ran away before they had to face us in our grief.  A kind gesture, yes, but couldn’t this person have stayed for a few minutes to give us a hug and say, “I love you”?  To be honest, I am guilty of this.

Years ago, friends of mine lost their 8 month old baby girl in a crib accident.  The pain was overwhelming.  Yes, I made and delivered the obligatory meal, but when my friend tried to tell me what happened–she NEEDED to tell me what happened when her precious baby girl died–I cut her off and changed the subject.  I couldn’t bear to hear about the accident.  It was too painful for me.  How ridiculously selfish.  It was painful for ME?  What about the pain she was facing remembering over and over again how she put the baby down for a nap, and then found her face down in the crib with her windpipe blocked between the crib slats and old mattress?  Why couldn’t I have shut my mouth and let her talk and allow myself to cry with her?  That’s what she needed.

The Book of Job is a perfect example.  When Job’s friends arrived:

When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief.  Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.

The smartest thing they did was to keep quiet and listen to Job, then one of the friends decided they needed to offer their opinion, and the other two followed suit, and the rest is history.  Healing, restoration, and comfort came when Job prayed for his friends.  Interestingly, while his friends had a lot to say to him and about him, not once did any of his friends actually pray for him.

So, what is helpful for you when you’re going through a tough time?  How can I be a friend to you in times of need?