Count your…blessings?!!!

Exhaustion never made anyone’s day better. Ever!

My man had been working more than a normal 40 hr week. Health was once again depleting. And I was fed up. I’d spent time online, looking over pinterest boards as part of my blogging. Articles I read outlined others abilities and their lifestyle, their normalness hit a screeching cord inside my weary self.

It made me want to take hold of shoulders and lovingly, desperately shake facts into these folks. You have a life. You have a normal functioning body. You have the ability to be with and enjoy others at (almost) all times. The ability to work out and push your body? Did you know that is something special?!

They don’t know how good they have it. The ability to garden until the work is done? The ability to raise and family and still have a life? The finances to buy __________ custom-made item?! The energy to invest into your marriage?

Everything looked.so.good.

When my man came home to an untouched house, he and I laid on the bed and talked. I was tired of being sick, tired of hitting health issues, tired of being tired. I’m tired of wanting to and being unable give more to him, my friends, the people around me.

He heard. He empathized. He knows this part of our reality better than anyone else.

But he had his own perspective, a perspective from the work field, people he brushes shoulders with who I do not. People with messed up lives.

He shared about big talkers and little doers, about ingrained patterns that destroy. In many cases, hopeless situations. And then he spoke the gospel truth.

“We do have something, something real and deep.”

I forget.

Perhaps I haven’t had enough exposure to that side of life. But he was right.

We continued to discuss what we did have, things he had seen a lack of in 40+ year old men.

We were both raised in families who cultivated love and respect for God Himself. As a result, we were taught to respect authorities over us. We were taught to be learners. We were taught to apply ourselves, to do the job well and see it through to the finish regardless of how difficult the task might seem.

We were taught to cultivate and maintain good relationships with those around us. We knew our need for forgiveness and our need to extend it.

Money. We were taught through parent’s example, to manage our money. We learned to deny instant gratification, learned to wait, to save.

As we talked, I realized we aren’t where so many are. We don’t have a high income. We have to pay for no-coverage Lyme treatments oftener than I like. We live on one income. We live simply. We’re still renting.

But we have hope! We’re only beginning. We have what we need to move forward in finances, relationships and integrity. We don’t have lots to our name. But we have lots in other ways. Invaluable ways.

“So amid the conflict, whether great or small/do not be discouraged God is over all/count your many blessings money cannot buy/your reward in heaven and your home on high.”

An oldie, but I did find it running through my head tonight. Its true. We have the blessings that matter most: good relationships with God and man, a strong work ethic, the ability to move forward slow though it may be.

Count the blessings…those money cannot buy.

Peace settled into the disturbed heart for that night.

When you can't see earthly blessings...

That I May Tell of All Your Wonders

Do you have a storm sweeping through your life? Do you feel as if everything has been taken, that life has been very difficult and you haven’t a single blessing in your foreseeable past or future?

I hear you. Ever since we went to MX for dental work, we have had one issue after another.

We went as a last ‘hurrah’ before buying land this year. If the right property came up and if we bought it and if we had a mortgage, we knew vacations such as this would be out of the question. Not only were we going to take a vacation, but we were also going to get some very expensive dental work done…for half the price. 

Away we went. With a sore mouth the entire time, we returned with dental work done. Finished. Completed.

Upon returning our feet to home soil, we caught the flu. Great. It’ll pass.

For my man, it did. For me? It didn’t.

Days turned into weeks, until I was so fatigued I could hardly do simple housework.

A check up with a not-so-happy-I’d-gone-to-Mexico dentist told me that the thousands we’d put into my teeth was a foolish decision-his tone implying much more than that- and that the work was terrible and must be redone.

Crunch! went our hopes of buying land this year. I almost cried walking home from his office. If this was the case our vacation and money-saving scheme hadn’t been worthwhile!

Still feeling poorly, we got a second opinion which wasn’t so bleak as the first. Not the best work in the world, but not the worst either.

I continued to feel worn down, weaker and sicker. Suddenly, my stomach was tense and in pain. We decided to return to the center that had given me so much help with their extensive testing and natural remedies.

Test results turned up poorly. Very poorly. And it appeared I’d contracted some “extra things” in my body while visiting MX. Too much for my body to fight.

Sigh. Oh well, these guys will help me get my feet back underneath me!

And on the drive home, my jaw began to feel inflamed. It began to swell. In spite of the ibuprofen I was taking, it wouldn’t cut the pain. Stopping at a hospital, I was given strong pain-killers and antibiotics. I had an infection in my jaw bone.

I stopped my other treatments to first get this ball of fiery pain under control.

Anti-biotics made me sick; much sicker than I’d been. And in that time I thought “surely it can’t get any worse!”

Hullo, yes it can! Coming off was far worse. And when I tried to go back on the treatment for everything I’d brought home from MX? I’ll spare you the details.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I found myself curled up on the bed. And I let loose with a big ole’ “its not fair! Why do some people seem to have everything and then some while we have to struggle with daily, normal functions…or perhaps struggle to stop them?!

It seemed everyone I knew was doing well. It seemed like everyone I knew had whatever they wanted. A stronger body? They workout and get it! More money? They take on side jobs. A need for relational connection? They pursue it.

In the midst of my complaining, it seemed it couldn’t get any worse.

Know what? It did.

As the physical issues progressively grew worse, I found my focusing shifting from what others had to what I had but wasn’t aware of until it was taken away.

The ability to teach my few music students or visit with people? What a gift! To sing in church without the drums knocking my brain into the side of my skull? How amazing it is to join in with voices!

No stomach pain? The ability to hold my bowels? I couldn’t wait for things returned to normal! Having muscles that weren’t tight and the source of pain? The energy to go on a short walk and see the new life, fruit blossoms and birds? Life truly was rich and beautiful.

Suddenly my “normal” life seemed so sweet. Peace. Rest. Head-and-stomach-ache free. No buzzing. No aching eyeballs. My life, limited as it was held so much! 

And when in the midst of all the goodness, I couldn’t see it.

Today, I read Psalm 73 and it struck a true, pure chord.

“When my heart was embittered and I was pieced within, then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me with honor.”

“Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

“For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.”

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord YHWH my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works” (Ps 73:21-28).

Amen.

We Don't Know What We Have Until Its Been Lost

My Soul Waits, In Silence?

Ps. 62:5-6 “My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.”

Have you ever noticed the aspect of the human nature that reacts when we feel an injustice has been done, when something happens that shouldn’t?

When death settles into a home, when we see brutality unfolding in our world, when the unexpected happens and it seems all is lost?

When life isn’t fair, when our expectations are not met, when relationships break and crumble? When the body no longer functions as it ought, when sickness settles in, when old age begins to limit the body and slowly, bit by bit, takes abilities away?

There’s a cry that wells up in us, the cry of injustice!

It’s not right. We know, sense and feel it in every part of our being. This isn’t how life is supposed to be!

We grieve. Anger. Frustration. Battling with limitations, with our suddenly-realized lack of control. Perhaps we need time alone to wrestle with God. Perhaps we need someone to talk to. Perhaps we need to rage and vent.

Rarely is the first response sweet repose, silence and gentle trust in our God. Sometimes, I wonder if there was a precursor to this Psalm, one where frustration and anger shook the author?

“My soul waits in silence for God only…my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.”

The Psalms are full of soulful expressions of the heart and certainly, the authors do rage in many. But here, there’s quietness, peace and trust.

And I cannot help but wonder if David found rest because of a later verse, that he keenly did as it suggested:

Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Ps 62:8).

Anger? Frustration? Grief that runs deep? Hurt by your own doing or from another? To the throne of God it goes!

This transparency can be a difficult thing. Perhaps we don’t feel we have the emotional energy to enter into our mess. Maybe I’m uncomfortable with it? Perhaps I feel vulnerable when expressing myself on such a deep level?

And yet this seems to be the key character trait of this man, David. He didn’t shrink away, but ran to. And he was able to wait, to be silent, to risk everything and wait for God to appear.

“My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.”

“On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God” (Ps 62:5-7).

May we remember that whatever is on our hearts today, it is neither too great nor too small to bring and lay at the Father’s feet.

“The Hardest Thing You’ll Face in Life”

I remember sitting in the farmhouse dining room, eyes fixed on the whiteboard. That rectangle on the wall illustrated not only subjects such as math or english, but also truths from God’s Word. Often part of our school morning routine involved reading from the Psalms or Proverbs. And the woman who birthed us into the world would try to help us see beyond the world we lived in, tried to train and equip us with God’s truth.

While I’m certain there’s lots I didn’t retain, I do remember my mother’s words on these two matters, something she drilled into us over and over again:

The best thing you can do in life is to remain open and teachable. And the hardest thing you’ll face is waiting.

My young mind would agree. There were things I eagerly anticipated and looked forward to, days that seemed as if they’d never come! As with most children, birthdays and Christmas were at the top of my list. And there was the opening day of fishing season, waiting for my cat to have kittens, for the plums to ripen so I could use my little legs to climb the tree and gobble up the juicy fruits without the acid hurting my teeth.

But then I learned: if I busied myself with other things, the long-awaited day came much faster. Suddenly, waiting didn’t seem like such a big deal.

I don’t know when I began growing up, but suddenly, I was waiting for bigger things, things that involved work to accomplish the desired result. Training a horse until it was trustworthy, pursuing music until I could play well, easily, beautifully; working to fill the college bank account, praying and waiting for God to become more real in my personal life.

And then it was college, a time of learning and growing in my relationship with my heavenly Father, trying to decide my mission and direction in life, then graduation and a job that evolved into a full-time position. Each step required waiting in some form or another. There were unknowns, learning to ride the wave of life as it often flows, filled with times of waiting, waiting for the next door to open, the next step to unfold. Sometimes exciting, sometimes frustrating, I began to better understand exactly what my mom meant. It wasn’t always easy to wait.

But I had yet another level to learn of!

When sickness hit, I learned to wait in a new way. With a body that was crumbling a bit more each month, panic set in. Waking to the morning light with hands and feet that didn’t function properly was earth-shattering. I wanted answers and I wanted (even felt as if I needed) them NOW! I was doing all I could on my end. Doctors, natropaths, research, lifestyle changes, praying and stretching my hands out for anything anywhere that I could take hold of, all for nothing it seemed.

Waiting for the expected holds anticipation. Waiting while working toward a goal takes determination. How we wait when things are beyond our control is revealing.

Revealing, because regardless of whether or not we previously knew it, what we truly value most will come to the light. During that period of helpless waiting, little mattered other than relationships with those I loved and my personal connection with my heavenly Father. Goals and ambitions, experiences and successes I thought I wanted, slipped into the background. Nothing else mattered except what would last for forever. 

“Yes mother, sometimes it is difficult to wait. I’m still waiting, but this time not necessarily for goals, dreams and ambitions to be fulfilled. I’m waiting for that day when I can be with my Father, with Jesus, to finally have my broken world and body made aright because of His presence, to sense the completeness of love and life that must be in His presence. I’m waiting with much anticipation and hope.”

 

 

 

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Not My Fault but Because of Me

His discouragement spilled over to me that night as his words flowed: “sometimes it feels as if we’ll never get ahead.”

Our strong desire to get out of the rental game and onto our own land is real. We spent the last year working to that end, diligently following our detailed budget. This winter we ate very simply, from the goods we harvested with our own two hands. We stayed home, instead of going out. We talked with folks who have gone before us, signed up for the Financial Peace course and soaked in whatever we could.

And in it all, we remembered to give, to give because we had been given to. Many a time we’ve been tempted to become stingy, pinching our pennies. But we know this is not the way, not the way of trust in our God. We’ve worked hard and saved however we could without compromising our values.

My man’s words hit a nerve, and although he didn’t (and would never) say it, I felt it. I know where our money goes. I know why we can’t save at the rate we’d like. I’m painfully aware of the reason we must live the way we do.

“It’s because of me.”

It’s because of me that we are not where we could be. It’s because of me that we’ve been unable to save to our full potential. It’s because of the limitations I’ve caused that discouragement hits.

It’s because of me. Chemical and toxin-free food, the nutritious and unprocessed is what I need to sustain this weakened frame. But it costs!

It’s because of me that we don’t live up to our income potential. While many women work outside their home and particularly before children come, I am unable. Pushing through when I shouldn’t only leads to another crash. And then? Everything I make goes to pay for more appointments as I seek help for my unable-to-rebound body.

We can’t live just anywhere because of my limitations. My allergic reaction to dogs and especially mold quickly removes the majority of available options.

And a family? There’s the issue of being unable to safely breast-feed children. Due to the milk allergies that run on my man’s side of the family, it’s either buying expensive formula or having enough land to raise a dairy goat. More $$$. Because of me.

Our hope and dream, the one that discouraged my man is this: in terms of natural wisdom, we feel its best to purchase a small acreage, build a new, simple home that we know is clean, have enough land to raise most of that nutritious food my body so desperately needs and a goat to supply milk for the family we’d like to begin.

I know. It isn’t my fault. I didn’t choose to be sick. And my man did choose to marry me. I can’t remove the consequences of his choice (nor do I wish to). That would be to insult him.

But sometimes, I wish that my life bettered his own in the financial sense. Sometimes, I wish that my life could help us get ahead. Sometimes, grief comes knocking and it storms through my being. It’s not my fault. But it is because of me.

Can anything good come from all this? Its easy to crumble under my reality. I could so easily let it take the wind from my sails. I could let it control the way I view myself, make me feel like mud-no not mud, but barnyard manure. And at times, it does.

In it all, whether unsettled or at peace, I am grateful for God’s reality. To those of us who are feeling the heavy side of life, God’s reality suddenly becomes beautiful.

Life isn’t about getting ahead, about ‘success’ as our culture identifies it, about ease and pleasure. Life isn’t about getting set up, about being comfortable and having extra for peace of mind. When these hard times hit, I’m extra grateful for God’s reality. When allowed to shine onto our situation, suddenly my limitations have purpose. Painful though they may be, they remind us of what matters most.

What we deem as success isn’t always His definition.While He knows the about the temporary things, He’s keen on the unseen things. Like the condition of our relationship with Him and those around.

After hearing the words from my man’s mouth that night, I told him I needed some time by myself. He went to bed, but came out 10 minutes later. The words that flowed from his mouth this time?

“I can’t stop thinking about these words: ‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God'” (Phil 4:6). Thanksgiving. How easy it is to forget what we have been given in both the physical and spiritual sense!

But wait. There’s a promise: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7). 

Peace. Its peace we want, and we find it by presenting our request and acknowledging what God has done.

And then I got to thinking: his discouragement came on because of me. And his change in perspective wasn’t my doing. But perhaps because of my limitations, God is reaching his/our hearts in one of those ways that matters for forever.

It doesn’t mean there aren’t hurts and disappointments, sometimes, raging questions that flow. But it does mean that they have a purpose, grander than anything I can see, an eternal purpose. I rest on this.

What I Really Want You to Say

There are times I wish folks didn’t know I deal with a chronic illness. Really and truly. When flippant words flow, I’ve often wanted to walk away, to stop the words that reach my ears.

Tales of folks who had illnesses and tried such-and-such a treatment. Stories of failure so horrible they could give nightmares, or success stories that are too good to be true, involving claims of healing, of eradicating this chronic illness for good. Suggestions. Perhaps I should try ________ product, because it worked for the individual’s friend’s cousin’s aunt.

Sometimes, I wish folks would ask questions about my life, instead of attempting to offer me solutions. Many a time, due to the very nature of Lyme I know particular treatments wouldn’t (and couldn’t) work. I also know that to date of this posting, no doctor, natropath, nutritionist or other-apart from God Himself-has eradicated this illness from the body. Do I hope this will one day change? Absolutely! And in my lifetime, I hope. But to date, its been declared impossible. It will always be in my system, suppressed or not, ready to flare up at the slightest slip in weekly disciples.

I know. I really do understand. I remember being in those shoes. Its awkward to talk with someone battling chronic illness. The person you once knew is gone. They’ve been moved into a new realm, a new set of interests, a new way of living their life. And this life is one you know little about. How do you relate to this new individual?

“Dear friends, please don’t try to solve my health problems. Please don’t bring up new “treatment plans” every time I see you, recommending things I ought to try. But rather, talk with me. Get to know the new person I have to become. Ask what I’m learning, what I’m discovering, how I’m adapting and adjusting. I know you don’t live in my realm and won’t fully get it, but I’m still human. I still need others to take an interest in my life, particularly when living in a world that doesn’t have “time” to deal with sick folks. Please don’t overlook my basic needs, not for healing but relationship.”

When chatting to someone with chronic illness, it can be difficult to know how to relate and what you should say. From someone who knows, here's what you should think about.

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A Tough Nut to Crack

That’s me. Somewhere along the path of life I developed incredible stamina, learned to hold out under enormous amounts of pressure. I know it. Those who know me well have commented on it. I’m not the crumbling type. Opposition just makes me that much more determined to come out fighting on top.

Sometimes, people wonder if I ever lose my composure. Calm, calculating, rising to the occasion, I do have an incredible knack for controlling myself. Even if quaking with fear inside, I usually have the mental ability to take hold of the feeling, step on, pulverize and flatten it, then move on. I’m rarely a blubbering, tear-stained mess.

Every strength has its weakness. This particular strength is also my “besetting sin.” This particular pattern of living often takes life from me. I can die inside when I exercise too much “control” over life.

Often with chronic illness, pressure and demands of life mount up against me. Instead of acknowledging the battle, of asking for help, instead of softening, taking into account my own limitations, instead of addressing the underlying doubts and fears that seep in and shape my sub-conscious conclusions, I whip out my (figurative) helmet, grab my shield, pull on boots for a strange sort of battle.

I try my best to not let “it” get to me. I try my best to keep “it” from controlling my life. I try to push “it” down, lock “it” up, avoid “it” however I can.

No one wants to be controlled and tossed around by life’s situations and circumstances! Sometimes, I’m not good at being soft, at allowing feelings in. When life is constantly throwing difficulties at me, I get tired of feeling, of facing loss, of “it.”

I often don’t realize I’ve hardened myself for that particular type of battle until things get bad enough that I break. And then I realize: the best battle I can fight is by letting “it” hit me. Some things must be entered into if I am to find freedom, closure, peace, my feet.

Sigh. So I must remember to not block feelings, difficulty, pain but instead, run to the Father’s throne with them. After all, I’m not alone in this life! Oh to remember and live by this truth!

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He Said “I Do”…to what?

He asked me if I would. I said yes through teary eyes. With a ring on my finger, we could begin thinking of a life together. Hope burned bright. On the road to recovery, we didn’t know how much ground would be gained in my health, but we were hopeful, hopeful with the hope that only those who cannot see into the future, hold.

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Ten months later, he said “I do” and I put a ring on his finger. I remember it well. Vows exchanged, we became husband and wife before God, friends and family, and barely, by the government of Canada! (Though no one confessed, somehow our marriage certificate, though left in a prominent place, had disappeared. In the nick of time, our faithful best man went diving in the out-back dumpster and returned victorious!)

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I had my hopes, my ideas of the wife I wanted to be: willing to step into the fun of his world, to be game and ready for anything, to do those activities that refreshed and make him feel connected. Oh, I wasn’t as hardcore as he was! But I could enjoy belaying when he rock climbed, tackling the easier slopes myself. I could cliff jump, though not at 40 ft and certainly wouldn’t do a gainer flip from there! If kept in moderation, I could snowboard, hike, fish and hunt alongside him. 

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Aside from activities, I wanted to keep a clean home, cook meals, make our house a place where he could come and let down, get away from the pressures and demands of work. I wanted to be patient, to hear the hidden things on his heart, to be a friend he could trust and freely share with. I wanted to walk beside him, do life together, become better and better friends as time went by.

“I wanted my life to enrich his own, to make it better than it had been before. I wanted my life to contribute to his, to offer him something and bring joy.”

I don’t believe this desire was wrong. In fact, I believe it is given by God Himself! But I wasn’t prepared for the grief that hit me. I wasn’t prepared for the months that followed. Even now, I still experience the sting, even as recently as yesterday. I’m not the wife I wanted to be, and what is more, I CAN’T be the wife I want to be.

Its one thing to have the ability to change. Its another to sit and know you are defeated in both your own and his desire. I’m not talking about character (of course I am defected in that), but in physical and mental energies, in abilities, lightheartedness and playfulness, in laughter and bubbling joy.

I wasn’t prepared to be the millstone around someone’s neck. I wasn’t prepared for my life to drag down the very person whose love was freely given to me, the very person I wanted to give back to. I wasn’t prepared to be the cause of the empty look in his eye, to be the cause of his lack of joy. I wasn’t prepared.

He connects through doing activities with people. No, not just chit-chatting, but through this kind of stuff (that I caught him doing an indy grab is a miracle because he’s usually twisting, flipping or spinning!).

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When sickness came, I had to develop and find new ways to refresh myself. But these new attempts and interests didn’t fill me as the old ones had. I felt half empty all the time. And then to suddenly have someone else feeling half empty because I couldn’t do the very things I was trying to give up…! When single, my limitations and inabilities would hit at different times and bruise me. It hurt, but it would heal. It wasn’t such a big deal after 2 years. I learned to live with it. But when thrown into marriage, everything suddenly changed. Often the cutting edge penetrates deeply. 

“I can’t be the person I want to be. I can’t give to him as I would wish to give.” 

My brokenness is so evident, so starkly laid out before my eyes. Sometimes, I just have to plow through.

These daggers of grief are rude and have no respect for human weakness, for fragility, for the mind exhausted from the battlefield. And too often, my strength gives way, meaning that instead of taking the hurt and processing it, I pretend it never happened. It wearies me to walk back into it…again. I deaden my disappointment until its a dull, numbing throb that takes over and slowly grates at my soul.

I harden myself. Instead of expressing that I do want to go snowshoeing up in the mountains, packing my own snowboard, I say that I don’t want to go. Sometimes, I just can’t voice my desire, only the things I must. So often there’s a part of me inside that does indeed want to go, do, be with and join in the refreshing of his life. But because of the ache that tries to rise up, because I can’t do or give as I wish, it comes across as a “no, I’m not interested,” or “no, I don’t care” or “no, I’m too busy with other things.”

I am busy, busy trying to pretend I don’t care, busily trying to be interested in a low-key activity, busy trying to pretend it doesn’t matter, busy trying to hide the hurt, not necessarily because I don’t want to acknowledge it to him, but because I don’t want to acknowledge it to myself.

It’s in these moments that the question appears: what is my worth, if I’m not contributing? What is my place, if he can’t enjoy those things with me that make him feel so connected? This, among other things, can shake a girl deeply. Empty worthlessness can hover around. And its difficult to know that if I died tomorrow, in most ways, he would lead a freer life. Its the honest truth of our situation.

Sometimes, my man can understand and helps me through. Sometimes, he can’t. He’s not a woman (though he does continually impress me with his insight), and he has never been so sick or limited as I have been.

But I do have a sure and steady friend who can understand. When I’m open to express my frustration and loss, my Father is there. When I am honest, He meets me halfway. No, my situation doesn’t necessarily change. But His presence changes my heart. There is a part to us women that only He can touch and comfort, because only He can know us intimately. You can be known, if only you will let yourself be seen.

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“Those Subconscious Conclusions”

We humans are a strange lot! We live life, yet we don’t understand it all. When tough times arise, we try to piece life together, making sense of the issue at hand. Most of us come to our own personal conclusions. Based on this or that experience, we try to figure out the game of life.

“Their children went wild because…” we toy with ideas and possibilities.

“They lost their home because…” and we formulate an opinion.

“The relationship didn’t work out due to…” we try to figure it out.

Even Jesus’ disciples formed their own conclusions about the issues found in their world! After leaving the temple, Jesus and his disciple passed a man who had been born blind.

“And His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?'” (John 9:2). Jesus response? Neither, fellas! Neither parents nor individual are the cause!

It’s all too easy (for the sake of our own comfort) to attempt to draw lines and formulate ideas. Avoid this. Do that. Don’t go there. Ah yes, stay here for success. We try to understand the patterns of life, the track for success, the way to live most comfortably, successfully and fully. No one likes to be tossed into the unknown, into discomfort or loss.

"Those Subconscious Conclusions"

Been there! Done that (and still do it)! Life is worth studying. The book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are just that!

What happens when those carefully studied steps don’t work out? What happens when a child dies, when a spouse leaves you, when health crumbles? What is to be done with this out-of-control feeling that comes over us?

The first response is often anger, feelings of betrayal and as if God doesn’t care anymore. Perhaps you feel like someone has played the cat and mouse game with your life! Maybe it seems that God has forgotten or is even antagonistic toward you (been there!). There are things you’ve given up for your faith, sacrifices you’ve made, even the direction in life you chose was a result of following God’s leading!

So why? Why now? Why this burden? Why is your faithfulness met with cruelty? Why are your attentions toward God’s concerns met with thievery? Why are the prices you’ve paid met with more demands?

Let the fiery questions roll!

Hardship uncovers our subconsciously held ideas and opinions! Difficulties will reveal not ‘head-knowledge’ but the ‘heart-knowledge,’ the things we really believe and live by. Enter into those thoughts. Bring them to the throne of the Father in heaven. Let His light shine on them and let Him draw you close.

Often His answers aren’t what we expect. Sometimes, His answers don’t even address the issue we battle with. Instead, something deeper and more substantial takes place, something that wouldn’t happen if we were not so vulnerable and raw.

“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds” (Lk 12:24)!

"Those Subconscious Conclusions"

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Refreshment of the Soul

Its difficult to find ways to refresh the weary soul when the things that used to rejuvenate you are no longer a viable option. Not only do those things tire you out, but they are reminders of what has been taken from you.

In my battle, I found peace and quiet when swallowed up in the beauty of nature. God’s masterpieces soothed and quieted the fighting of my soul. I found peace in the silence, with nothing but His music to hear and the creations of His beautiful mind to be observed.

I share with you some of the beauty I’ve discovered over the years.

 

“He sends forth spring in the valleys; they flow between mountains”

Spring from the Valleys

“They give drink to every beast of the field”

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“Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they lift up their voices”

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“He causes the grass to grow for the beasts”

Grass for the wild beasts

“The high mountains are for the wild goats”

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“The cliffs are a refuge for the rock badger”

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“He made the moon for the seasons”

the moon for its seasons

“The sun knows the place of its setting”

the sun knows the place of its setting

“O LORD, how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your possessions” (Ps 104).

Rugged and untamed beauty

the Father

wild strength of the Father

untamed landscape

Tender loyalty and protection

Protection in strength

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The intricate beauty

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Untamed life

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“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Ps 23).

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