Midweek Morsel: Look What God Does!

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I love passages of scripture that recount some of the things our mighty and loving God does. One such passage is found in Psalm 146:6-10. Just look at a few of the things the Maker of heaven and earth does!

“He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the alien
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the LORD.” Psalm 146:6-10

Praise the Lord indeed!

And don’t you love how verses that tell us what God does can be turned into prayers? Pray through this passage with me, won’t you, asking God to do these very things in our lives, in the lives of others we know, and in our world today. He is forever faithful. He will continue to do these things!

*Which part of this scripture passage resonates the most with you today?

*Flickr photo by Andréia, Creative Commons License

What We Can Do When Grief Is Compounded

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We’ve all been there—smack dab in the middle of a conversation or situation that compounds a heavy grief we’re bearing.

Remarks are made that drive a knife deeper into an open wound. People may offer trite words or pat answers that may, in fact, be true, but do nothing but make the pain sharper because of their lack of understanding. Some may even make comments with an edge—with an implication of how we should get over the situation or fix it or how we possibly could have prevented it to start with. The knife goes in deeper.

Other times, actions are taken—or not taken—that show a lack of sensitivity and understanding. After asking how we’re doing, someone glances at his watch repeatedly as we try to share our stories. Another knife in the heart. Sometimes our heartache is ignored—we are ignored—when people, unsure of what to say or do, carry on as if nothing is wrong. In the process, these unwitting but guilty parties compound our grief as well.

So what can we do when our grief is compounded, when the pain is made worse? How can we turn it into something positive? A few things come to mind:

  1. We can give grace. We can forgive. Chances are, the offender doesn’t even realize the pain his remarks or actions caused. Let’s give the benefit of the doubt and overlook the offense. And if the person should have known better, we can still forgive. We can remember how God has forgiven us time and again and offer the same mercy ourselves.
  1. We can learn from the situation. Any time and every time our grief is compounded, we can make a mental note to avoid such remarks or actions in our own dealings with those who are hurting. We can guard against compounding others’ grief in the future.
  1. We can educate and enlighten others. We can share the lessons we’ve learned during our season of grief as opportunities arise. Depending on the situation and the people involved, it might even be appropriate and helpful to let an offender know how his actions or words caused hurt.
  1. We can draw closer to God as we handle the hurt. We can go to God with every fresh heartache. We can tell him all about it. In his arms we’ll find comfort and understanding. We can see the hurtful situation as one more opportunity to go deeper in our relationship with God.

Grief compounded doesn’t have to win, doesn’t have to have the final say. God can help us even through this. God can redeem the pain-made-worse. Let’s allow him to do so.

“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 KJV

*What are some ways we can avoid compounding the grief of others?

 *Flickr photo by Thomas Leuthard, Creative Commons License

Learning About Grief

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As most of you know, I lost my mom unexpectedly last October. I don’t know if I’ve gone through all the “official” stages of grief, but I’ve learned a bit about grief since that day my family had to say our unexpected goodbyes. I won’t try to speak for everyone who’s ever experienced grief. I’ll just share what I’ve learned after a period of a few months now.

I’ve learned that grief lingers. Yes, life does indeed go on, and I slipped back into my normal routines fairly quickly. But those normal routines felt anything but normal at first. In the beginning my sisters and I asked each other if we’d ever feel normal again. Like so many others who’ve gone through grief, we’ve had to adjust to a new normal. The one without Mom.

Even now, almost six months later, grief lingers. All it takes is one thought of Mom, one remembrance, one glance at a photo, and my heart aches with loss. Granted, the pain is not as sharp as it was in those first weeks, but the ache is still there. Always just below the surface.

I’ve also learned that grief longs. When those thoughts of Mom come, not only does my heart ache, it also longs to see her again. To hear her voice. To talk things over with her. To show her how much she was—and is—loved. I long for the day I’ll see her again in heaven, along with other loved ones who’ve already left us.

Grief also longs to turn back time, to do some things differently. I wish I’d said I love you more. And even though I got to see and talk to Mom fairly regularly, I wish I’d done it even more.

I’ve also learned that grief leans. In the aftermath of our great loss, my dad and sisters and I have leaned on one another as never before. We feel a kinship in our loss and can offer comfort to one another because we understand like no one else just exactly what we lost when we lost Mom.

And above all—for believers—grief leans on the Lord. The comfort found in him and in knowing that Mom is in his presence can’t be matched. To be able to say to him, Please tell Mom I love her, please tell her I miss her helps so much. Just knowing that the Lord walks with me each day as my ever-present Companion and Help brings peace and comfort for every situation, grief-related or not.

These are just a few of the things I’ve learned about grief as the months have passed. Much more could be said. But my prayer is that something mentioned here today will help a hurting heart somewhere. Will help someone to feel understood. Or help others understand what grieving friends are going through. After all, we’re all learners in this life of ours.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

*What have you learned about grief?

*My photo

Balm to a Broken Heart

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It’s no secret to most of you that I’ve been dealing with a broken heart the past few weeks. For those who don’t know, I lost my mom unexpectedly a few weeks ago as a result of injuries she sustained in a car accident.

My heart—and the hearts of our entire family—also sustained injury. They’ve been pierced and torn in two by the grief of losing Mom. My poem “Fragile” gave a glimpse into what that grief has looked like in my life and how God is helping me through it.

Today I’d like to tell you how God has applied balm to my broken heart and show you what it has looked like. It has looked like you. It has looked like every person who has reached out to me and my family in love.

Yes, God has ministered to me through his Word and through music, but the main avenue of healing balm has come through caring people—through words and gestures of concern and love.

Every word, every touch has been balm to my broken heart. Some of you came to be with us, to stand with us, to listen to us, to cry with us. Others sent cards or plants or flowers. Some gave practical gifts like food, stamps, and cash. And countless others showed their support and promises of prayer through comments and “likes” on Facebook or here on my blog. Each gesture has given comfort.

Thank you, friends, for showing your love and support. If you’ve ever wondered if a few words or a card or a comment on Facebook can help someone who is grieving, let me assure you they can. Each one makes a difference.

So join me, won’t you? Let’s be balm to the broken hearts around us. Let’s make a difference.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

*When has God used others to apply balm to your hurting heart?

*Flickr photo by Nina Matthews Photography

*It’s not too late to receive the new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter. It’s a special Advent issue this time. Sign-up is free and to the right!

Wound Care 101 Revisited

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*This encore presentation of a post from 2008 will probably be new to most of you. Hope it blesses you!

Flip-flops are the perfect fun footwear — that is until you whack your toes on a hard, immovable object. Yes, leave it to me to find another way to injure myself. Don’t ask me how it happened. I’m not really sure. I wasn’t even walking fast. In fact, I was just taking a few steps across my office when my bare foot, clad only in one of my fave Old Navy flip-flops, met its match with the sharp metal bottom of the dehumidifier. The same dehumidifier, I might add, that’s been in the same spot for years. Go figure.

When the groans subsided from the initial blast of pain, I bent down to survey the damage. Two toes had been hit, and one was bleeding. Nothing major, but it wasn’t going to stop on its own. This was a job for Band-Aids. And since the toe was scraped at top and bottom both, it would take two of the sticky cure-alls to do the trick. I found out right away that binding up a toe when it’s hurting and surrounded by toes on either side (and one of those also whacked) is no easy job.

Today? A little swelling and bruising and just enough tenderness to make me ever conscious of keeping my foot well away from another object. If I had been just half as protective of my foot yesterday, I wouldn’t be groaning at the prospect of wearing shoes today. It was just one of those things I didn’t expect, though. I never saw it coming.

Sometimes life has a way of whacking us, too, doesn’t it? Out of the blue and in the blink of an eye, we are thrust into situations that leave us reeling from pain and gasping for emotional air. Someone we love, someone we trust, levels some words at us that cut us to the core. Or we get that dreaded phone call that forever changes our lives as we know them. Or we find out we’re no longer needed… at our job, in our marriage, by a friend.

As we survey the damage, we see that we are bleeding. But this time, it’s from the heart. And the pain is too deep to tend to it ourselves. We need our Savior’s help, His comfort. We need His healing touch.

If you are hurting today, I encourage you to call on the Great Physician. He will tend to your wound. He will pay attention to it. He will guard and protect it. Remember, He stands ready to help. Nothing catches Him by surprise.

“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 KJV

*How has God tended to your wounds when life has whacked you?

*Flickr photo by _rockinfree