Archives for January 2009

Coming Soon

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for some fun. I’ve got an extra special giveaway up my sleeve for February so just wanted to give you a heads-up to watch for my next post. That’s right — the fun is coming soon!

Also coming soon is the second issue of Life Notes, my inspirational newsletter. If you haven’t yet signed up to receive it, I hope you will today (sign-up to the right). It’s free and is sent out quarterly at this point. This issue will feature a theme of perseverance, and believe it or not, I prepared it in early January before our current situation calling for a special brand of perseverance landed in our laps. I pray that something in this issue will encourage you in your current circumstances.

So there you have it — fun and encouragement both coming soon! But that’s not all.

I can’t think about things that are coming soon without thinking about our Savior. In the last chapter of the last book of the Bible, Jesus himself said, “‘Behold, I am coming soon!'” (Revelation 22:12a), and as if to reassure us, he says again in the next to last verse of our Holy Scriptures, “…’Yes, I am coming soon.'” (22:20). With that promise ringing in my ears, I join John, the author of Revelation, and respond with “Come, Lord Jesus.” (22:20b).

“…’Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…'” Revelation 21:3-4

p.s. No big change with my mother-in-law to report. All prayers still appreciated!

*Flickr photo by bjohnsonjewelry

Catching Rest

The crazy roller coaster ride, otherwise known as “our life” since Don’s mom was hospitalized, has thrown some real doozies at us the past few days. Unexpected twists, turns, and drop-offs always seem to be just around the bend. About the time we think we get the ride figured out, it changes yet again.

To be honest, I’m getting tired. Just the pace, the daily demands, keeps me pushing, pushing. But add an extra in there like an all-nighter at the hospital, and I move beyond being one tired puppy to walking zombie material. I actually miswrote my social security number on a document I had notarized the other day. I used the first few numbers of Don’s and the last few of mine. Still can’t believe I did that. Thank goodness I was lucky enough to notice the mistake as I was getting ready to mail it.

I know it’s important for me to take care of myself, too, so I’ve been catching my rest wherever I can. You know, just lightening the load. The bed doesn’t have to be made every day, cleaning can slide, clutter can sit…you get the picture. I’ve even asked family members to make some calls or write some emails, and they’ve gladly pitched in, happy to find a way to help. I’m sure you’ve noticed shorter blog posts, too, as I try to cut myself some slack on the blogging front.

So in the spirit of catching rest, I’m going to keep this post short — but not before I encourage you to catch your rest as well when you find yourself in trying times and remind us all that rest for our spirits is as close as closing our eyes and calling on the Lord. He’s rescued and refreshed me time and again. And oh, how I thank Him!

“‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.'” (Matthew 11:28)

*Update on Don’s mom: Even though she’s had improved times mixed in with the bad, the overall picture is deteriorating. The renal failure is causing difficulty breathing and now congestive heart failure has entered the picture. Thanks again for your prayers — they make all the difference.

*Flickr photo by Daveybot

Silver Lining

Every cloud has a silver lining. This long-time American phrase designed to bring encouragement to those facing tough times has proven itself true once again — this time in our family. Don’s mom’s illness and hospitalization, as difficult as it has been, has given us unplanned opportunities to spend time with his family. And that’s not always easy to do since none of them live nearby.

Over the past week or so, our kids came home for the weekend (which is a silver lining in itself), and each of Don’s siblings have paid a visit — some of them a couple of times. We got to enjoy an extended visit from Emily, his sister from Ohio whom we hadn’t seen for over a year and a half, and with each visit from one of her out-of-town kids or grandkids, Mom has been given reason to smile. The photo above is of Don with his sisters (Emily on the left, Susie and Jeanie on the right). Pretty good looking bunch, huh? Don’s brother Steve missed being in this shot by just one day.

Of course, we would rather Mom be healthy and there be no need for unplanned visits, but since that isn’t the case, we can certainly try to enjoy the opportunity to spend some time together. Let’s just say there have been more Barker stories told in the past 10 days or so than should be legal. In fact, if I have to hear one more time how the Snickers bar got cut into 6 pieces, I may lose it altogether :)

Seriously, I’m thankful for our silver lining. Thankful for family. Thankful for shared memories that can bring much needed laughter to a trying time. Thankful to our God who grants blessings that see us through.

“You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” Psalm 18:28

p.s. Mom is still going through ups and downs. Looks like we’re in for a bit of a roller coaster ride. Sure appreciate your prayers!

Love for our Fellowman

**Family update: We are still hanging in there. Don’s mom’s kidney function is ever so slowly improving, but the overall picture still doesn’t look good–probably because even with the improvement, the kidney is not working well enough to keep the toxins filtered out of her body. On a happy note for us, our kids have been home this weekend as well as all of Don’s siblings. So-o-o good to see them all. I told my girls I drew strength from their hugs alone. As you can imagine, I hugged them a lot :) Thanks so much for your prayers. We’ve seen so many tiny things that are just blessings from God, and I know they have been carried to us on the wings of your prayers. Thank you!

With all that’s going on in our lives right now, I may not have time to write the kinds of posts you’re used to finding here, but I will try to share something with you a couple of times each week as usual. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. this week, I thought you’d like to hear what another well-known American from the past had to say about social justice. Think on these words from Helen Keller:

“When indeed shall we learn that we are all related one to the other, that we are all members of one body? Until the spirit of love for our fellowman, regardless of race, color or creed, shall fill the world, making real in our lives and our deeds the actuality of human brotherhood — until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.”

How do you think we as a nation are doing today where social justice is concerned? Closer to home, how are we doing as individuals?

“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.” James 2:1

*Flickr photo by hoyasmeg

Hanging in There

Be forewarned — what you’re about to read is going to sound more like an off-the-cuff email than a well thought out post. I jotted down a few sentences earlier while at the hospital with Don’s mom and will try to make some sense of them now at the computer.

Mom is doing as well as can be expected for a patient in kidney failure. And us? We are hanging in there. We’ve had only one middle of the night run to the hospital and have had several “ups” mixed in with the “downs”. We’re thanking God for the “ups”.

It’s no fun watching kidney failure up close and personal. The kidneys perform an amazing life-sustaining filtering function for our bodies, and when they’re not working as they should, all the other systems of the body begin to fall apart as well. As the kidneys fail, toxins build up and soon poison the body until it is overwhelmed. Don, our resident anatomy and physiology teacher, could give you a more biologically accurate explanation, but this is my simple understanding of what Mom is going through.

This week as the physical “filtering” system God equipped us with has been on my mind, I also thought about a spiritual filter God has given us. The Bible, the Word of God, acts as our spiritual kidney, helping us get rid of the toxins that threaten to poison our souls and spirits each day. Sin, bitterness, unforgiveness, negative thinking, worldly philosophies, poor self-image, and other weapons of spiritual warfare need constant filtering to keep our hearts pure and our minds healthy and spiritually renewed.

God’s Word provides that filter. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16 that one of the uses of scripture is correcting. He also identifies the Word as one of the offensive weapons we are to wield in spiritual combat (Ephesians 6:17).

These are just a few initial thoughts. I’m sure you can think of other insights and applications — even other tools God has given us to help filter the junk out of our lives. Any thoughts? Please feel free to share.

Thanks so much for your prayers. Please continue. They help keep us hanging in there.

*Flickr photo by DieselDemon