Titus 2 Thoughts #3 and Surgery Update

I have been home since Monday evening. I cannot remember a time when I was more exhausted than I was on Monday night. My meager post-surgery strength did not match the demands my body required of me. That night I deeply second-guessed coming home instead of going into rehab. I could barely move, much less properly engage the specific mechanics required of me to consistently keep the weight off my right leg.

My week was filled with focus, practice, adjustment, and caution. I had little to no pain in hospital, but as my previous painkillers worked their way out of my system and I reduced the amount of new painkiller I was taking, my pain increased slightly. Was this a bad sign? Was I doing something wrong? Should I cut back on physio? Increase it? More meds? Less? Not sure.

The surgeon wanted to see me two weeks after my surgery. After returning home I called to make the appointment. I discover that the ortho clinic will be closed two weeks after my surgery, and closed for the entire week. My follow up is now 3.5 weeks after surgery. Will this be ok? Will my dressing last? What about my staples?

As the meds work their way out of my system, I struggle with fatigue, ennui, enervation, and depression. I hesitated to write about this, but it is my reality. When we share what is going on in our lives with the body of Christ, we do not share only the blessings, but also the struggles. The love and prayers of God’s people are a great encouragement in times of struggle.

Slowly I am seeing improvement. I am better able to hop using my walker and keep most of the weight off my injured leg. I discovered I tend to hold my breath when I am concentrating. I need to talk myself through the steps. Remember to hold in my abs, breathe, hold my arms straight, and move forward, keeping my foot barely on the ground for balance. And again. And again.

How did my appliance fail? How did I go so long without knowing it? Did the doctor do something wrong? Was it something I did wrong? Am I doing something wrong now? Is it even possible to find the truth about this?

Why hadn’t my hip itself hurt? The last month before the x-rays I felt crooked and was unable to stand straight. I felt the tightness in the muscles of my back and in the thigh of my right leg, but when I poked the hip area, nothing hurt. I thought it was my fibromyalgia. I now realize that not every muscle pain is fibromyalgia.

I become aware of many others who are struggling physically, emotionally, spiritually, and I pray for them. Sin has touched and cursed us all. We all need Christ and His truth and His salvation. We need to speak truth to each other in times of sorrow and in times of joy. We are family. We rejoice and we weep with each other.

Today as I heal and continue to work to strengthen, I am enjoying some special blessings. My family has arrived from China and I get to hold and talk with my grandchildren, listen to their dreams, join in their imaginings. This morning my grandchildren picked the first of my garden peas to share with me. Well-formed, sweet and delicious, they are consumed with gratitude and satisfaction.

I am abundantly blessed through this ordeal to have my daughters living nearby ready to sacrifice to help in any way possible. God has also blessed me with many children of the heart who visit and write and stop by to help. They bring their little ones, my ‘adopted’ grandchildren, to visit Purple Grandma and hand me sweaty fistfuls of flowers or grasses or other treasures selected just to cheer me.

Truth is, just like many others who suffer unexpectedly, I may never know why this happened. God chose it for me for His glory and my good. I do not understand what that looks like right now or how it helps me and the body of Christ overall. I struggle to rejoice in infirmity. I struggle against self-focus and negative thinking. I struggle to rejoice in the Lord always, but by God’s grace, I am not content to be disobedient.

The prayers and love of God’s people are very precious to me. Thank you to each of you who have prayed for me and continues to pray with me. I pray God will bless you for your love and concern.

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Friday Fave Five #86 and Titus 2 Thoughts #2

Suzanne hosts Friday Fave Five at Living to Tell the Story to encourage us to count our blessings each week. This week I am coupling my Titus 2 Thoughts with FFF.

To be honest, I did not expect to be writing a FFF today. When my doctor called on Tuesday and told me my x-ray shows my most recent hip replacement has is broken and I will be scheduled for emergency surgery in the next day or two, I literally believed a day or two. The latest word is ‘sometime this weekend.’ My son asked if that means they have downgraded me from emergency to urgent. Maybe, but for now, I am supposed to ‘just use crutches’ and keep weight off that leg.

Just use crutches. Hmmm. Part of what I have been experiencing the last few weeks involves balance issues and motion sickness. Partner that with my natural lack of coordination and that little phrase ‘just use crutches’ is fraught with potential disaster galore. “Here, poor sick, sometimes-dizzy, out-of-shape lady with a wonky hip, just hobble around on these two little sticks. Keep your leg off the ground, oh, and press those crutches into your ribs. No, no! do NOT jam the pad into your armpits! Stand up straight! Grasp those hand grips and use your arms to hold your lumpy self up! No slumping! Simply follow these 25 easy illustrated steps to master the art of using crutches for any occasion.” It may sound crazy, but having to use crutches post-surgically is probably the thing I dread most about this surgery.

After my last hip replacement, I told myself I never wanted to go through hip replacement surgery again. A congenital condition, both hips replaced now, we’re done. Guess what? I’m not in charge. I can do ‘everything right’ and still not be in the position to control whether or not I have to endure something once or a dozen times. God is in control, and He orchestrates every part of my life for my good and His glory.

I’m an introvert and do a lot of self-talk. This can get me in trouble when I do not filter my thoughts through the truth of God’s Word. Lugubrious, self-focused Eyore thinking does not glorify God and is not helpful to me or to those around me.

My self-talk: anxiety and fear. God’s truth: Be anxious for nothing. God has not given us a spirit of fear. I will never leave you or forsake you.

My self-talk: What about the unknowns? How am I going to get through this arduous surgery and recovery again? God’s truth: My grace is sufficient for you.

Remember the children of Israel in the desert? God provided manna daily for them. If they tried to save up for the next day (with the exception of the Sabbath) the manna would spoil and not be fit to eat. In a similar way, God provides grace to help in our time of need. It’s not saved up like money in a bank but is instantly provided for each situation. That is a promise we can rest on.

So here are five blessings among many from the past week.

1. Protection from a potentially life-threatening situation because of my broken prosthesis. I’m not sure how long it has been broken, but I have had symptoms (that I thought was a flare up of my fibromyalgia) for at least 6 weeks

2. Loving family, church, family, and friends. I have blessed with flowers, cards, and the promise of prayer from many friends from around the world. My husband and daughters have helped in so many ways. My son and his family arrive in 2 weeks ready to help, too.

3. Getting my desk work caught up while waiting for the call about surgery. I finished some reports, organized some photos, filed some papers, and set up some automatic payments in preparation for my time in hospital.

4. Living at a time and in a place where I can be helped medically. Such a blessing!

5. All the wonderful ministry friends I met and fellowshipped with at the conference we recently attended in North Carolina. It was a joy to spend time with many who serve God faithfully across the globe, hear their stories, and learn of their hearts for the places where God has called them to minister.

Update! I just got the phone call. I will be admitted through emergency today and surgery is scheduled for tomorrow.

Here are a few more pictures from our recent vacation to Holden Beach in North Carolina.

Beautiful hydrangeas

Reflection

Marsh visitor

Sunset on marsh

Titus 2 Thoughts #1

I am awaiting surgery to have yet another hip replacement. My most recent replacement (2014) has recently failed and broken pieces are protruding into my pelvis. There is concern that an artery could be poked so I am on crutches and waiting for ‘the call’ to go into hospital.

Since I am not going to be able to minister in traditional ways as a pastor’s wife (such as having group Bible studies at the church) I will be writing posts to share things God is teaching me. God commands the older women to teach the younger in Titus 2. There are many things I am still learning or have learned the hard way over the years. By God’s grace, and with His leading, I hope to encourage you in your walk with God. I am calling these posts Titus 2 Thoughts. I will be posting these on my blog, PurpleGrandma.com. Please sign up to receive these in your e-mail feed if you are interested in receiving these directly.

I wrote the following recently with ministry women in mind, but the principles apply to us all. Do what God has given you to do for now. Do it with all your heart. Do it as unto the Lord. Do not always be wishing you could be in a different place doing different things than what God has allowed for now.

I would appreciate your prayers for both the surgery and the writing.

As a young ministry wife and mother of five small children, I often felt dissatisfied with all the maintenance work that fell to me just to keep our family functioning. This was not what I had envisioned as ministry efforts! Cooking, cleaning, laundry, and, in the years that we homeschooled, teaching, wore me out and consumed most of my days. Yes, I taught Sunday School, held ladies’ Bible studies, organized ladies’ retreats, showed hospitality to travelers and church families, and helped with many details of our church plant, but I was exhausted, miserable, and felt that God could not possibly want His workers to be occupied with what I thought of as busy work. If I could just hurry through my responsibilities surrounding my family, then I would have more time to ‘do ministry work.’

God in His wonderful sovereignty allowed me to became ill. No one could accurately diagnose what was wrong with me. I grew weaker and could do less and less of the things I thought would please God. I could barely get out of bed, much less teach or evangelize. What must He think of me? I felt my limited service and the continuous encumbrance of mundane matters meant I wasn’t doing my job and so God must be sighing with displeasure at my deficiencies.

I struggled from my bed one Wednesday night to prepare for the mid-week service held in our home. Bud was teaching through Romans. He opened the Scriptures and began reading chapter 8,“There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.”  The words pierced my struggling soul like an arrow from my Maker. ‘No condemnation.’ Years ago I had accepted His sacrifice as payment for my sins and understood now that I was positionally without sin – without condemnation because of the work of Christ on my behalf. There was absolutely nothing I could do to make God love me any more or any less than He already did. I was ‘accepted in the beloved’ and had ‘peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ!’

Soon after God allowed me to see that the most important ministry I had was with my children. We only have one opportunity to rear them for the Lord. No retakes on childrearing! If, by God’s grace, we could point these five little sinners to Christ, if we could proffer them God’s Word and embody authentic humility, grace, and forgiveness, this would be ministry work just as important as any other.

Sometimes I am amazed that our five children are all from the same parents. Such a diversity of personalities, abilities, and interests! It grieved my soul that I never worked to get along with my sister, and I was determined to teach my children to prefer one another in love. There are so many biblical principles that must be followed to foster this in a family. Every conflict, every argument, every disagreement provided an opportunity to grow in sanctification. Love bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.  Be quick to listen but slow to speak and slow to wrath. In love prefer one another. A soft answer turns away wrath. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. By God’s grace, a regular application of Scriptures and spiritual principles over many years has worked in the lives of our children so that each loves God and they all love each other. And as adults, they all love and serve the body of Christ.

Ministry work may not look like you expect it to. Allow God to direct your life of service and praise Him for every opportunity He allows for you to serve Him.

 

 

Fibromyalgia: “What exactly IS wrong with you?”

Over the years I have had many people ask me, “What exactly IS wrong with you?”  My family all love that question.  “How much7-16-10 Yew tree near Ormiston 9 time do you have?” they joke.

My rheumatologist tells me I have fibromyalgia.  Some people, mostly well-meaning people, tell me fibromyalgia is not a real disease.  Well, something has been wrong with my health on and off for over thirty years.  The same set of symptoms have waxed and waned throughout this time.  My current family doctor calls these ‘on’ times flares.  I’ve been in a flare now for two years.

I think it’s sad that most fibromyalgia sufferers have trouble speaking up for themselves. When you feel so sick so much of the time it’s hard to clearly verbalise what is going on in your body.  Some of the best advice I ever received from a doctor was, “You have to advocate for yourself.”  It’s true.  I don’t need a psychiatrist, and I am not making up my symptoms nor am I looking for attention.

Frankly, I don’t care what they call it.  Over the years I have been told I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, colitis, IBS, and allergies.  I’ve been tested for Celiac multiple times, all with negative results. When a flare would end I was told I must not have really had the diagnosed disease, until the next flare which would bring a new label.

Right now no one definitively knows what causes fibromyalgia.  Hopefully in the future research will discover that it is caused by SOMETHING specific:  a vitamin or mineral deficiency, microwaves, a hormone imbalance, a parasite, global warming, Tupperware, vaccinations, dental fillings, barometric pressure changes, or space aliens – SOMETHING. I don’t care if they decide to call it bibbity bobbity boo, snicklefritz, Jabberwocky, or Persimmon’s disease.   My symptoms are real and something is causing them.

Learning to advocate for myself has required a leap of faith on my part. When you have minimal energy you can’t afford to chase down everything which may possibly help you. I have been greatly encouraged this past year by going gluten-free, taking magnesium supplements, and having allergy and food sensitivity testing done.  I have learned that specific foods, preservatives, and additives cause me to have a violent physical reaction and I have learned to avoid things which are obviously poisonous to my body. Right now I’m also working on shifting to a more alkaline diet.

I have also become a label-reader to make sure I am avoiding the foods and additives that I know cause me to throw up, have pounding headaches, or suffer from severe gas, bloating and the runs.  I lived almost thirty years of my life with serious digestive issues and accompanying nutritional deficiencies. Having relief from that downward spiral has been liberating.

My muscles feel achy, weak, and sore when the weather is cloudy or when it rains or snows.  Restful sleep, a regular schedule, and proper nutrition help me to be more productive, even in times of flares. I also have moderate to severe osteoarthritis and am waiting for a hip replacement.  Sometimes it’s hard to separate the fibromyalgia symptoms from the arthritis symptoms. Maybe there is an organic connection, maybe not.

Friends and even acquaintances share ‘causes, cures and remedies’ with me.  I really don’t mind; they might be on to something.  But honestly, there is no way I can even begin to afford buying and trying everything suggested to me.  If I’m feeling half decent I’ll do some research and make a decision about trying something new based on that. If I’m feeling very ill with a flare, I’ll say thank you and wait to investigate until a time when I am stronger.

Next time:  a little more on my background and the beginning of the symptoms.

A Valentine to My Family

This post is just for fun…free-vintage-valentine-cards

To my Poe-quoting kids, “A Valentine” is a different glimpse into the usually dark mind of Poe.  I like that he incorporates a puzzle into the poem.  Reminds me of Graeme Base’s Animalia.

The  Wilcox poem, “Love’s Coming” presents a delightful comparison between expectations and reality.

In searching through poetry and sayings to share with you I was sometimes amused, sometimes confused, and occasionally saddened by some of the stuff that’s out there.  So I decided to write my own poem just for you!

Enjoy!!

‘This Valentine Poem from Edgar Allen Poe was originally titled “To Her Whose Name Is Written Below.” The poem was for Frances Sargent Osgood and her name is within the poem. To find the name, take the first letter of the first line, the second letter of the second line, the third letter of the third line, and so on until the end.’

A Valentine

Edgar Allan Poe

For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,
Brightly expressive as the twins of Leda,
Shall find her own sweet name, that nestling lies
Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.
Search narrowly the lines!- they hold a treasure
Divine- a talisman- an amulet
That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure-
The words- the syllables! Do not forget
The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor
And yet there is in this no Gordian knot
Which one might not undo without a sabre,
If one could merely comprehend the plot.
Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering
Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus
Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing
Of poets, by poets- as the name is a poet’s, too,
Its letters, although naturally lying
Like the knight Pinto- Mendez Ferdinando-
Still form a synonym for Truth- Cease trying!
You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.
Source: A Valentine By Edgar Allan Poe, Famous Love Poem http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/a-valentine#ixzz2tETnezWi
Family Friend Poems

Love’s Coming

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

She had looked for his coming as warriors come,
With the clash of arms and the bugle’s call;
But he came instead with a stealthy tread,
Which she did not hear at all.

She had thought how his armor would blaze in the sun,
As he rode like a prince to claim his bride:
In the sweet dim light of the falling night
She found him at her side.

She had dreamed how the gaze of his strange, bold eye
Would wake her heart to a sudden glow:
She found in his face the familiar grace
Of a friend she used to know.

She had dreamed how his coming would stir her soul,
As the ocean is stirred by the wild storm’s strife:
He brought her the balm of a heavenly calm,
And a peace which crowned her life.
Source: Love’s Coming By Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Famous Love Poem http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/loves-coming-by-ella-wheeler-wilcox#ixzz2tEU0u7SQ
Family Friend Poems

“A Valentine to My Family”

By Deborah Talbert, otherwise known as mom

Valentine poems seem to say
In such a convoluted way
Sentiments for you to weigh
The measure of true love

He loves her like a fine spring day
And she his love will n’er betray
So let sweet words all fears allay
Expressions of true love

Ah! Now is seen his feet of clay
Her constancy has fled away
Is there any hope that they
Remember now true love?

A glimpse of joy, a sparkling ray
Reminds that love is not passé
Commitment, not just today
Forever is true love

So take this little poem, pray
When young and spry, when old and gray
Embrace the gift that you too may
Celebrate true love

picture credit: http://www.freeprettythingsforyou.com/2013/01/pretty-diy-vintage-valentine-wreath-free-vintage-valentine-cards/

When Critical Illness Hits Home, part 1

Children are a blessingIMG_0055

We were delighted with our firstborn, a son.  His red hair reflected the Scottish portion of our heritage and his cheerful demeanor was engaging.  Though he did not walk until after his first birthday, he began speaking when he was nine months old, and parroted word after word that we modeled for him.

Dedicated to God

We dedicated each of our children to the Lord when they were infants.  This child, on loan from God, was entrusted to our care.  We knew we needed wisdom beyond our years to rear him properly, and so we asked God for His help.  We also stood with open hands before the Lord, acknowledging that we understood that this child, like everything else that we claimed as ‘ours,’ ultimately belonged to God and that He could do with our son as He pleased.

Getting sick

Our son was thirteen months old on American Thanksgiving.  That year we spent a joyful time of feasting and giving thanks with family and friends.  On Friday my husband and I loaded David into a stroller and enjoyed a leisurely walk through the mall.  The next day David was unusually fussy and was running a slight fever.  Had he picked up a bug when we were out?  Was he getting a cold?  Teething?

Missing church

Sunday dawned.  Our son’s fever had climbed slightly and he was unusually placid.  My husband was in seminary, preparing for the ministry.  His philosophy was that if we expected others to attend church faithfully, we should lead by example.  After some discussion we decided I should stay home with the baby.  We thought we were bending our self-imposed rule that we had to be at death’s door to miss church.  Little did we know then that that was exactly where we would be in a few hours.

My mother-in-law, a nurse, shared the house with us at that time.  We took turns tiptoeing in to David’s room and checking on him.  After a couple of hours he opened his eyes, but didn’t move or cry. He had a vacant look, and was extremely listless.  The slight fever had suddenly skyrocketed to 105 and his skin held a definite grey pallor.

Call the doctor

We called our doctor and described the symptoms.  “Come immediately to my office.  I will meet you there.”  All of us knew these were symptoms of meningitis, and several children in our vicinity had been diagnosed with it lately.

This looks very, very serious

The office was only minutes away and the doctor and his nurse met us there where they immediately did a spinal tap.  The spinal fluid was very cloudy.  He told us what we feared, “This looks like meningitis and it’s very, very serious.”  “Where’s your husband?” asked the doctor urgently.”  “At a required meeting at the seminary.” “I’ll track him down.  Waiting for an ambulance or for my husband to join us would have taken too long.  Every minute was critical.

Don’t break down now

“Can you handle driving to the hospital?”  We gulped back tears and nodded. We couldn’t break down now.  David’s life may depend on it.  The doctor gave my mother-in-law and me an evaluating look.  Mom was obviously shaken.  “You,” he pointed to my mother-in-law, “hold the baby” and “you,” he said to me, “drive.”  He sent along the spinal tap and called the hospital to give orders and prepare for our arrival.

Spinal meningitis

We arrived at hospital emergency where the staff whisked David and his spinal tap test away.  My husband arrived and soon after so did our doctor.  Test results quickly came back positive for bacterial meningitis.

It doesn’t look good

Massive doses of IV antibiotics were administered.  Our doctor gently drew us aside and told us, “David’s symptoms are quite advanced.  It doesn’t look good,” then asked my husband to lead us in prayer.

Did we really mean it?

Suddenly we were faced with the reality of what dedicating our child to God might actually cost us.  At the time we sincerely meant it when we told God He could do whatever He wanted with this child.  Was He requiring David’s life for some reason we did not see or understand?  Did we really mean it now when our son’s life was in the balance?

Book Review: Safe in the Arms of God

In my post on miscarriage I cited the book Safe in the Arms of God by John MacArthur.  Following is a review of the book.Coffin in the woods at mom's funeral - Copy

The grief of losing a child

We need God’s wisdom and compassion when we are called upon to counsel and comfort someone who loses a loved one.  What do we say when that loved one is a little child?  John MacArthur’s book Safe in the Arms of God:  Truth from Heaven about the Death of a Child (Nashville:  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003) offers a cogent, compelling presentation that God welcomes these little lives into His presence.

“Every life conceived is a person”

MacArthur begins by reminding the reader that “every life conceived is a person.”  (p. 13) He uses Psalm 139 as a proof text to show that God expresses His thoughts about newly conceived life, and leaves no question that He is intimately concerned with that life from the very beginning.  God actively participates in (Psalm 22) and has unlimited knowledge of each life.  As well, God shows personal oversight in the creation of each person and in the unfolding of each life through time.

God’s tenderness toward children

The author gives many scriptural examples of how tenderly God views children.  Particularly poignant was His concern for the children when urging the inhabitants of Nineveh to repent in Jonah 4.  He further cites Jesus’ regard for children, among other examples of God’s tenderness toward the young.

God saves those unable to understand

MacArthur clearly points out that all children are conceived and born as sinners and that the salvation of every person is a matter of God’s grace, not man’s works. He also shows that we are saved by the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ on the cross, the supreme manifestation of God’s grace. He cites Scripture to show that we are saved by grace, but condemned by works.  Infants have yet to perform works so through His grace, He saves them.  With this MacArthur discusses the age of accountability, not as a chronological age but a condition, citing the example of the inability of some mentally handicapped adults to understand or respond to Scripture.

Will I see my child in heaven?

Probably the most heart rending question we may face from a parent who has lost a child is, “Will I see my child in Heaven?”  MacArthur reminds us of David’s response to the death of two of his children in 2 Samuel.  When the child conceived in sin with Bathsheba died chapters 11-12), David ceased his mourning, worshipped God, and rejoiced that he would again see this child one day (in heaven.)  In contrast, when his adult son, the rebellious Absalom died (chapter 18), David wept and mourned for this child he would never see again.

Topics in the book

Chapters in the book include:

  • Where Is My Child?
  • What Can We Say with Certainty to Those with Empty Arms?
  • How Does God Regard Children?
  • What If My Child Is Not Among the Elect?
  • Will I See My Child Again?
  • What Is My Child’s Life Like in Heaven?
  • Why Did My Child Have to Die?
  • How Shall We Minister to Those Who Are Grieving?
  • Let Me Pray with You.

We may not agree with everything, but….

MacArthur writes from a reformed theology position which you may or may not agree with.  Regardless, this small book offers encouragement and hope to parents who have lost a child and is worth reading and recommending to friends and family dealing with the death of a child.

 

Being Before Doing

In my last post I shared that I had been struggling with physical problems which have caused some mental, emotional and spiritual Yard friend May 2013upheavals also.

Purifying and Refining Faith

I want to be clear:  this has not been a time of abandoning faith, or even doubting, but of purifying and refining…a type of clarifying borne through the instrument of pain and bringing me to a greater understanding of my own mortality.

Contrast Between Being and Doing

So what have I been learning?  The contrast between being and doing in my walk with God.

When you have been in ministry for a long time, it is easy to evaluate your worthiness by what you do.  That mental checklist of ways that you serve God, others and your community can be the measure of personal spirituality.

But as we all know, these ‘things’ can be done with absolutely no heart for God.  A poignant reminder of this type of ‘doing’ is illustrated in Matthew 7:22.  These people who have done many wonderful works are not even genuine believers!

‘Be’ Before ‘Do”

When the ability to ‘do’ much has been removed because of illness, we are forced to look at how important that aspect of our Christian lives really is.  Yes, it’s important to be doing what God directs us to do, but it’s most important to ‘be’ what God wants us to be BEFORE we do.

The most striking biblical example of this for me is the interaction of Christ with Mary and Martha.  Martha stayed busy preparing the meal while Mary sat quietly at Jesus’ feet listening to the Master.   Jesus commended Mary as taking care of the most important thing, even though what Martha was doing was necessary.

What Does It Mean to ‘Be’?

So what does it mean, practically, to ‘be’? It means taking time to read God’s Word and let the thoughts roll around in your mind throughout the day.  Sometimes in our weakened state we can only grasp a word or a phrase to meditate on throughout the day.  How much better it is to think about on of God’s attributes than focus on our own weakness!

Rehearsing hymn texts – the ones full of biblical doctrine – helps us to focus on the Lord throughout the day.  My childhood pastor used to distinguish between good doctrinal hymns and the 7-11 variety  – seven words repeated eleven times with no substance to the song!  I try and avoid the ‘junk food’ texts and fasten on the spiritually uplifting ones.

God has been teaching me that as long as I have mental capacity I can be praying – praying for peace, grace and contentment in my pain, praying for the needs and salvation of others, praying for God to strengthen and bless my family – and more.  I find as I go throughout the day that I comment to the Lord about situations and concerns much more than I used to.

Struggles Have Lead to Spiritual Growth

All of this is helping to grow me as a believer.  As Christians we have a relationship with a person – a personal relationship with Christ.  Sometimes in our busyness we can become robotic – dragging our eyeballs across the page as my former pastor’s wife used to say – in order to check off a list of spiritual duties.  Learning to ‘be’ rather than ‘do’ has helped put those priorities in order.

Next time I’ll share more of what God has been teaching me through my struggles.

 

 

 

 

 

Struggling

What in the world is UMP????????????????????????????????

It’s been an arduous few months for me.    I’ve stepped aside from writing for several weeks because I have been struggling with UMP – unidentified medical problems.  Constant painful spasms, cloudy thinking, weakness and other symptoms have escalated.  I have been poked, pricked, prodded, scanned, examined, evaluated and scrutinized by an entire cadre of health professionals with more investigating to come.

My wonderful family doctor is willing to think outside the box.  We have worked with diet, vitamins, supplements, remedies, medicines, physiotherapy, massage therapy and more to try and alleviate the problems.  I have been able to share more and more about the Lord with her as we talk and try to find solutions to my ailments.

Gluten-free for me

I’ve had arthritis for years.  One of the changes I made six months ago was to go gluten-free and it helped much more than I expected.  A couple of weeks ago test my doctor ordered showed I also had dairy and egg allergies.  Last week I had additional testing to determine if I have any other allergies or food intolerances.  Making changes to eliminate these foods can be challenging and takes time to master.

The one medication I was on seemed effective at first but grew less and less helpful.  My doctor took me off that one and after a couple of weeks put me back on a previous medication which has some possible serious side effects.  My mobility has improved and I am praying I can get in to see the rheumatologist soon.

How can I help others when I’m struggling?

All of the symptoms and changes associated with my UMP have caused me significant struggles, not only physically, but mentally and spiritually too.  Changing meds, foods, and supplements all brought physical and mental changes which my poor old body had to adjust to.  I stepped away from writing because I thought I could not be a help to others when I was struggling so.

Then the Lord brought to mind some of the missionary biographies I’ve read over the years.  Some of the greatest help to me came from those agonizingly honest passages where the missionary, in great grief, or pain, or discouragement cast themselves upon the Lord for help and deliverance.  They were willing to bare their souls for the cause of Christ; maybe God could use my experiences to help others who are also struggling.

Sharing while struggling

So I will, by God’s grace, share weekly what He is teaching me, the painful and the joyous, with the prayer that God might use my experiences to encourage someone else.  Stay tuned for the next post in a couple of days.

 

Fragrant Fragments: Memories of a Godly Mother-in-law

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Better Late than Never?

When Mama passed away in 2008 I was honored to give a eulogy at her memorial service. I rewrote that eulogy to post for Mother’s Day this May…..and somehow never published it on my blog.  Sigh.  Even though it’s later than I intended, I hope you’ll enjoy a glimpse into the life of a wonderful woman.

The Blessing of a Godly Mother-in-law

I was doubly-blessed to have a mother who loved and served God whole-heartedly as well as a mother-in-law who was equally as godly.  Since I recently wrote about my mother I’d like to honor my wonderful mother-in-law, Jean Talbert, this Mother’s Day.

A Lovely Lady

My mother-in-law was a lovely lady, refined and cultured with an interest in the arts and music.  She loved to play the piano and listen to classical music – interests passed down to her children and grandchildren.  Mom shared a house with Bud and me for a couple of years in the early 1980’s.  It could have been a sticky arrangement, but it wasn’t due to Mama’s wisdom and graciousness. “Mama”, as she liked us to call her, was extremely hospitable, and loved to cook for and entertain her friends and family.  She had particular delight in hosting the Lord’s servants, whether for a meal or overnight in her home.

 Mama as a Nurse

Mom’s training as an RN showed up frequently.  Every bump, scrape, and bruise was a hematoma, abrasion, or contusion while a hint of indigestion was always dyspepsia.  When she began spouting medical terms we lovingly called her “Hematoma mama.” In order to become a nursing instructor at a Christian college Mom had to return to upgrade her education while in her mid-fifties.  She was an intelligent woman with a keen mind and was grateful for the opportunity of teaching nursing from a Christian perspective.

 Mama Was Never Boring!

Years ago when Bud was on a study tour in Israel, Mom drove with me to my parents’ home in Ohio.  While taking her daily walk she “made friends” with some neighborhood ducks.  The next day she took along a few slices of bread for her waddling buddies.  A local photographer driving by was enchanted by this delightful woman peeking out from behind a tree to feed the ducks.  Mom’s whimsical pose made the front page of our local newspaper!

Granny Loved Her Grandchildren

Mama dearly loved being Granny to her grandchildren.  She had a marvelous sense of humor and a deep throaty laugh.  We could occasionally wheedle her into barking and clapping like a seal which delighted and amazed her grandchildren.  Granny often told the grandkids stories about her own childhood.  She described how she and her sisters used to have burping contests then promptly taught her enthusiastic audience how to burp loudly too! An avid reader, Mom appreciated quality writing and had a particular fondness for missionary biographies. Dubbed by the grandchildren as the “Book Granny,” Mama used special occasions to buy brightly illustrated, charming books that our kids loved reading over and over.

 A Godly Example

But more than anything else Mom loved the Lord and spoke of Him and to Him throughout her day. Her well-marked Bible and detailed prayer lists were indications of a vital and personal walk with Lord.  She was a prayer warrior, particularly for her children and their families. We felt the loss of those prayers when Alzheimer’s prevented her from interceding for us. Proverbs 31:28 reminds us, “Her children rise up and call her blessed.”  We were very blessed to have Mama as mother, mother-in-law and grandmother. Mom Talbert blessed her family by her intelligence, humor, love, and godliness.  Mama, we miss you and look forward to being reunited with you in heaven someday.  Thank you for the godly example you left us.