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, Creative Commons License

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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

When Jesus Touches Our Lives

Think back today to the years when Jesus walked on earth. When he interacted face to face with those around him, when his hands touched their needs. Those folks walked away different than they were before they met Jesus.

Blinded eyes saw again. Deaf ears opened. People were fed. Fevers disappeared. Shame fell away. The lame leapt with joy. Persecutors became followers. And on and on it goes. All of these things happened because people had encounters with Jesus.

You see, when Jesus touches our lives, we are changed. The people that Jesus met during his days on earth saw not only healings and physical changes, but they experienced spiritual transformation as well.

Consider the story of the jailer told in Acts 16:31-34. He stood guard over Paul and Silas when they were thrown in a Roman prison. In fact, after being told to guard them carefully, he was the one who put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in stocks. They would not escape on his watch.

Little did the jailer know that God had other plans. While Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, an earthquake rocked the prison. All the prison doors flew open and everyone’s chains came loose.

The jailer, gripped by fear and the certain knowledge that escaped prisoners meant his own execution, drew his sword and prepared to kill himself. When Paul stopped him by shouting that they were all still there, the jailer fell to his knees and asked what he needed to do to be saved.

Paul and Silas said, “‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’” (v. 31)When they could have turned a deaf ear to the one who had mistreated them, Paul and Silas extended the love—the touch—of Jesus. The jailer believed and his life forever changed.

Because he met Jesus, the man who had thrown these men of God into the inner cell and put them in stocks now washed and tended their wounds. He took them into his home and set a meal before them. Why? Jesus had touched his life, and he was a changed man.

Jesus is still touching lives today. Lives are still being changed. And I am among them. Because Jesus touched my life with love and forgiveness, I can offer the same to others. Because Jesus has given me hope and peace, I can share these precious gifts with those around me. My life is changed, I am changed, because Jesus touched—and continues to touch—my life.

Do you need the loving, healing touch of Jesus in your life today? He’s as close as your next breath. Use it to whisper his name. Call on him. He will not fail you. He will extend his touch to you. And you will be forever changed.

“‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.’” Revelation 3:20 KJV

*How has Jesus touched your life?

*If you don’t have a personal faith in Jesus, you can come to know him today. Just talk to him. Tell him you believe that he died for your sins and the sins of the world and that he rose from the dead to bring victory over sin and give eternal life to those who believe in him. Ask him to forgive your sins and to come into your life and be your Savior. He loves you and is waiting to hear from you!

*Flickr photo by kelsey_lovefusionphoto

 *Don’t miss out on the I Love Chocolate Giveaway 2! Also, Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out May 1st. It’s not too late to receive. Sign up is free and to the right!

*I’d love to have you come over and “like” my new Cheryl Barker, Writer page on Facebook. I plan to post things that readers will be interested in (book recommendations, free on Kindle links, book giveaway links, etc.) along with any writing news I may have. Hope you’ll come join me!

Midweek Morsel: Healed By His Word

“He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.” Psalm 107:20

Our recent celebration of Easter reminded us that Jesus “was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) Praise God for the healing that comes from his wounds!

But not only are we healed by his wounds, the verse above from Psalm 107 points out that we are healed by his word as well. When the pain is great, when defeat looms large, when confusion rules, our precious Father sends his word to heal us and to minister to us.

He’s done if for me time and again when my need has been great. He’s sent the healing touch of his word in a variety of ways—everything from my daily Bible reading to a fellow blogger’s post. The avenue can vary, but his word stands the same. And his word heals.

Praise God for the healing that comes from his word!

“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name O LORD God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16

*How has God sent his healing word to you?

*My photo of my daughter Kristin’s rose bush

The Gift of Silence

Do you have your own name written down on your Christmas list? If not, put it at the top right now.

I’ll make it simple for you and even tell you what to give yourself. Gift yourself with silence. That’s right—the glorious life-giving gift of soothing silence.

The gift of silence took me by surprise a couple of weeks ago. Not long after the early morning hubbub of going-to-school-and-work traffic had ceased, I went out to fill the birdbath with fresh water. As the sun shone brightly, the night’s heavy frost still glittered all around.

Happy to be out enjoying a few minutes in God’s beautiful world, I sang as I worked—until I realized my voice was the only sound I heard. I then stopped and listened.

I couldn’t believe it. Pure silence. No wind, no birdsong, no car humming down the street. Not even the rustle of leaves. It was as if the earth was holding its breath.

I looked around and drank in the frosty beauty of the cold fall morning. First one leaf and then another drifted to the ground without a sound, almost like following the cues of a conductor. A silent symphony in a soundless sanctuary. If it hadn’t been so cold, I would have lingered a little longer. I would have partaken more deeply of the solace of silence.

Yes, silence can heal. Silence refreshes and restores. It gives us a chance to take a deep breath and commune with the Father. We need silence but many times we don’t recognize it or take time for it.

At a writers conference I attended recently, Betsey Newenhuyse, editorial director of Moody Publishers and one of our workshop instructors, spoke about nurturing the Christian writer’s soul.

Betsey told us that mental stimulation is critically important for creative people, but she pointed out that we have a deep need for silence and peace as well. She reminded us how our lives are overstuffed and then cautioned us to think deeply about what we don’t need to do and to focus on what we need to know, not on things we don’t need to know. I’d say that’s good advice for anyone, writer or not.

Are we allowing time for silence in our lives? If not, what changes do we need to make to gift ourselves with its life-giving benefits?

Let’s not wait for the moments of silence that surprise us—though those are wonderful. Let’s seek out silence as well, especially during the holiday season. Let’s enter into a soundless sanctuary and wait for the silent symphony to begin. The Conductor stands ready to give the cues. Let’s accept his gift of peace.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters” Psalm 23:2

*Flickr photo by Zadok the Priest