Monday, October 31, 2016

Day 31: Letting Go so that We Can Listen


Wow! God has helped us to travel all the way to
DAY 31
in this #31Days of Listening with Chronic Illness!


 Along the way, we've listened to find peace,
to find rest,
to hear the voices of those around us,
and to seek to hear our Lord's voice more clearly.


 I've been surprised at the remembering
that God has stirred up,
at the ways He spoke in the past,
and showed us HIS story
in the midst of my own.


 But at the end of this month,
I've heard Him speaking
to me, a nudging
that has continued from the very beginning
of these travels.


 To truly hear HIS voice,
there is only one way
that opens my heart
to the crystal-clear words
that HE wants to bring:

I must continue to let go of the plans
and the ways that I set up for myself
along the road of this life.

Only in resting myself, daily,
in the HOPE of His Care,
and the Plans of HIS heart,
will I hear the
NEW,
and see the BEAUTY
that HE wants to bring now to this Season.





 






Have you heard Him calling to you this month?
In the letting go of your own efforts,
Jesus will bring you salvation.
And in the settling down into HIM,
you will find new strength.


My heart rises up with you as we pray
that our Lord
will help us 
in this journey 
of learning
to let go
and listen to Him.




I have been so honored to have you join me this month!
To say thank you for being so faithful,
I'm partnering with Cindee Snider Re,
for a give-away of her great book

Anyone who leaves a comment this week on my blog
will automatically be entered to win 1 of 2 books
that I'll be sending out!

I will announce the winner this coming weekend,
November 6.


One more time,






Sunday, October 30, 2016

Day 30: Glean and Listen Part 4




My man and I took our Grandpuppy,
Pepper the Schnauzer
(she's actually the face for my #Write31Days Challenge Thumbnail below!)
for a very short walk yesterday.

As I stood watching the two of them,
thinking that my days of long hikes
are only a memory now,
I can still be thankful for the grace
that allows me to take a short walk
now and then! 


And with that same heart of gratitude,
I feel so blessed by several
new authors that I have been
allowed to "meet"
through the world of blogging.


You may have read one or more of these books
already, but if not,
then allow me to introduce you to these
ones who have helped me so much
on my journey of learning
to listen and walk with God
through this season of chronic illness.



One of the first authors that touched me through
her brave-hearted blogging,
was Joy Lenton, who blogs at
PoetryJoy -- click here to find her site 
She is a fellow chronic illness warrior, and her
words are laced with the poetry of grace
and truth.
I first read her book during hard nights
filled with anxiety attacks and pain.
Her poetry drew me into the heart of Jesus,
and became a stand-by to read again and again
as the Lord brought fresh breath
into my weary soul.
Find her book at Amazon by clicking the link below:

Seeking Solace: Discovering grace in life's hard places 



 Another blogger that touched me
with her heart for Jesus is Ifeoma Samuel.
Find her blogging at
Purposeful And Meaningful -- click here to go to her site 
I was blessed to be part of the Launch team for her book,
and gleaned so much encouragement
from her study of the Scriptures.
She writes from an honest perspective of one
who knows what it feels like to face failure
and brokenness, but then points us 
back to the Grace of Jesus again and again.
Find her book at Amazon by clicking here:

Overcome Failure: Get Back On Your Feet 



If you have walked through the pain
of loss and grieving,
then you really should check out the blog of Anna Louise Smitt.
Click here to find her site: Joy of the Spirit Within.
I purchased the book that told her story 
of grace and redemption
as the Lord walked her through a trail marked
with suffering and PTSD.
But her chapters were packed with so much
beautiful Scripture and gleanings
that I slowed my reading to a simmer
so that I could let the healing sink into
my own soul.
Find her book at Amazon by clicking here:
 
Love Embraced: A Journey in and through Suffering   



I found this next blogger through the recent series
that she joined with Anna to write.
You may remember their series on #31Days of Miracles
that I shared recently here.
Debbie Barrow Michael blogs at
Consider it all Joy -- click here for her site.
She has walked through 
an amazing adventure of obedience,
and has learned to hear God's voice
through the adoption of her son from Russia. 
To read the story of that process, click the link below:

But the Greatest of These Is Love .


I was so blessed to be part of the launch team
for Cindee Snider Re's book this fall.
She is the co-founder of Chronic Joy Ministry
that I mentioned last week.
Her book changed my view of how I approach
living with a chronic illness.
The questions that I had buried deep
were brought to the surface and laid open
before God
as the book moved through it's material
in a study fashion
that begged the reader's participation.
Click the link below to find her book at Amazon:

 Discovering Hope: Beginning the Journey Toward Hope in Chronic Illness  


But here's the surprise that I've been hinting at:
Cindee has sent me two books to offer
as a give-away to two of my faithful readers!
I can't wait to see which of you will be
the next ones to be blessed by this journey
of discovery!

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on my blog
sometime this week.
I will be sharing a reminder with every post
until next weekend.
Then I will draw two of those names, randomly,
and notify you of the winners next week.





Proverbs 4:1-2 (NIV) "Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.  I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching"


This is Day 30 for the #Write31Days Challenge,
and I am so thankful that you have journeyed with me
for #31Days of Listening with Chronic Illness.
 Click here for the Series Index 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Day 29: What to do When it's Hard to Listen



The weekend is here, and I should be energized!  Instead I am drained and weary, and longing for rest.  Has it been a long week
for you as well? 

Then I pray that the words I utter to our Lord
will draw you in 
so that you can hear the words that 
He, Himself,
has spoken to us.

"Dear Jesus,
our days have been long,
and the Season has felt heavy.
We need you now
more than ever before.
Will you please lift our hearts
from the weariness
within
and let us see 
YOU
as the strength of our days?" 



And now may you listen as Jesus calls to you, my friend:
 


 







Today is Day 29 for the #Write31Days Challenge!

To say "Thank You" for everyone who has
walked with me on this
#31Days of Listening with Chronic Illness,

Join me tomorrow for a special surprise!




 



Friday, October 28, 2016

Day 28: Who is Listening?


"Hello-o-o-o,
Is anyone listening to me?
Did you hear a word that I said?!"

Wow.
I think I may have said that a time
or two
(or many more)
when my children were young.

There were days when I felt like I was talking to a wall
for all the good it did me.

And then there were the days when 
little lips repeated what
I knew they had heard me say . . .
and wished that I hadn't. 

Sometimes the words were comical,
But other times, not so much. 
Not when they repeated the words
that I had uttered in haste and anger,
or the words that had an unkind ring to them.

I'm guessing you have been there 
at some point in your life also?
Wishing you could 
take back
the words you just heard
leaving your mouth.  






As I have been on this journey of Listening,
God has been applying most of the lessons
to my own way of listening, asking me
to listen with open ears.

He's reminded me that
He never stops listening,
and
Answers every cry 
that we utter.

However, there is one more way to approach
this Listening business,
And I am sure you know the direction
this is headed.

We truly are responsible for the words
that we utter
because someone is always 
listening to us.

What are they hearing?
Are my words helpful,
and beneficial for those 
listening to me? 





I don't know about you,
but those thoughts are weighty
and even scary to me.

In fact, somedays I just want to
shut up
and sit down
when I think about the damage 
that my words could possibly cause.

But is that really what the verse is meaning?

God must have thought it possible for me to be
helpful
and encouraging
and beneficial
when He gave that command,
because those are the
WORDS
that He used.


And lest I think these words only apply to those
who are in positions of prominence and
large vision,
God reminds me of how simple words
changed my days
many years ago.


I was a chubby and misfit 7th grader,
still loving my clarinet
but strained to my limit every afternoon.
Band members' lockers were on the far side
of the school,
and the buses were on the other
far side of the school.
Every day was a race to see if I would make it
in time
before the buses pulled away,
leaving me staring at my ride home.

Oh, but on those days when I learned how to
gather my things more quickly,
and slide into the bus doorway
just as it was pulling away,
my grin was ear-to-ear,
thanking my best friend, Jesus,
in the corners of my heart,
that He had helped this 
chubby, misfit girl
catch the bus one more time.

Finally one day, the bus driver
spoke words to me
that sparked a glimmer of hope
inside that chubby heart.

"You have such a pretty smile!
Why are you always grinning so big
when you get on my bus?
I'm going to start calling you
'Smiley.'"

Simple words, uttered in a simple place,
but nevertheless,
words that had a lasting
impact 
in my heart.


I don't remember what that bus driver looked like,
or how long she drove my bus route,
but I will never forget those 
kind words,
that brought encouragement to a heart
that felt like no one cared.


Are you in a simple place,
with hidden tasks?
Do you feel that the tasks of others
are more important than yours?

Perhaps God has placed you close by
to a chubby, misfit heart
that needs to hear a helpful word
that could benefit them today.


Who is listening to you?




This is Day 28 for the #Write31Days Challenge,
 


Don't forget to leave a comment below
to be automatically entered in
this week's give-away for
Cindee Snider Re's book,
Discovering Hope: Beginning the Journey Toward Hope in Chronic Illness  
I will announce the 2 winners this Sunday,
November 6. 


Join me over at these great sites this week:

Jennifer Dukes Lee #TellHisStory

Meg Weyerbacher TeaAndWordTuesday

 




Thursday, October 27, 2016

Day 27: Listen for HIS Heartbeat



Five years ago today . . . 

Does your phone or tablet have that app?
You know, the one that shows your pictures
from a previous year,
hoping that you will share them all over again?

Well, this morning when I saw where I was 
five years  ago today,
I heard a whisper from my Lord's heartbeat,

"Write about my compassion." 

And I knew what He meant. 


I was in Vietnam five years ago.  As I had prepared for the trip, and the days grew closer for my departure, I had a wave of panic sweep over me when I remembered the illnesses that my son had suffered on his previous trips. This was in my pre-RA days, and even though I was fairly healthy, I knew that I would be in a totally different environment than what I was used to.  As I prayed over my journey, I very clearly heard my Lord whisper to me, 


"If I keep you healthy,
will you be willing to pray 
over someone there
who is ill?" 


This should have been an easy answer for me, as I was as accustomed to praying as I was to breathing.
It was part of who I was.


But, Lord, I am traveling there
as a guest to my 
daughter-in-law's family.
They don't understand my language,
and they don't understand
my Faith.





The whisper would not leave me, and I knew
that my answer would be yes,
even though my heart still
held onto it's own fearing.


It was an amazing trip, with memories to last a lifetime.  We walked through Customs with hardly a question, and my health never faltered.  I ate all of the food set before me, and enjoyed every bit.  Then came the day,


Five years ago today . . .


When I walked into the small home of one of the family members.
The meal was being prepared out in the separate kitchen. The fire was burning under the heavy pot, and I felt that nudging of my Lord, preparing me to pay attention.  We all began to eat the meal, but I noticed that a brother-in-law was sitting by himself, out on the porch of the home.  "Oh, he is sick," my daughter-in-law translated for me, in response to my questioning.  "He is often ill, and cannot eat with us."  And my heart's compassions were stirred within me.  


Oh, Lord, this is who you want me to pray for,
isn't it?


So, after the meal, as my daughter-in-law loosely translated, I layed my hands on this brother's chest, and offered prayers to my Lord for him.  And the next evening, when he still felt sick, I prayed again. And a week later, as many of the family came to say good-by to us at the airport, this brother was beaming, as I placed my hand on my chest and then pointed to heaven & said "Jesu!" as we were leaving.


I cannot speak his language,
and I may never know until Heaven
how the Lord's compassions
touched the heart of a brother 
thousands of miles 
away from my home.
But I will never forget the way that
God touched me with HIS heart
in order to give back from 
that same heartbeat of compassion. 



2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (MSG)  "All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too."


Ah, but where does that leave me today,
here in this Season of 
Listening with Chronic Illness?
God has obviously allowed
me to walk right into
the disease this time.
He has chosen NOT
to bring me out of the sickness.
And yet, I hear His Whispers once again,


"Even if I don't make you well,
will you still be willing 
to pray for people,
for the ones that I show you,
with the 
compassions of MY heart?"


And I know that my answer will be 
yes.


Are you in a place of sorrow
or pain?


My heart's compassions are stirred now
with the Comfort my Lord has brought to me.
And I long to pray for you
to know that same comfort
that only Jesus brings. 



 
This is Day 27 for the #Write31Days Challenge,
and I am honored that you are walking with me
through these #31Days of Listening with Chronic Illness.

Click here to find the Series Index





   

I am linking today with some great bloggers over at
#LiveFreeThursday with Suzie Eller



 



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Day 26: Does God Listen?


"How can you just pray about
everything?"

I've had many people ask me that over the years. Often times they will follow
the first question
with this thought:

"Oh, I could never pray like you do.
You must have some special connection
with God."


And both of these questions have been
asked just as often by Jesus-followers
as by those not part of the Faith.


So what have I offered in response?
What is my answer to those
who seek to place me in some
super-prayer category?


"Oh, my friend, it's not because of me
that the words flow out unceasing.
No, it's because I've found out
that HE really does listen
to our cries.
I can pray because of
WHO
I lift those prayers unto.





 When life has tossed me
to the shore
like so much 
wasted driftwood,

When friends have
walked away
and called me
rejected and alone

When loss has cut so deep
I thought
the gash would 
never heal

the only echo in my soul
that found a home
and love

Came from the One
who shed His blood
And called me
fully HIS.



There was a time when those questions that my friends would ask me brought a sadness to my soul.  I felt that they were questioning me, and calling me "different" or "wierd."  At other times, I could hear a sense of separation in their voices, as if I was someone to put up on a shelf: nice, but out of reach for "normal" living. 


But those feelings always shifted when I could give those friends the true answer. I have nothing special. I am weak and lacking in my faith too.  And as I walk this path of Chronic Illness, it has become even more apparent that my praying is all because of HIM.  



Does God hear us when we cry?
Is His heart ready to listen
to our voice?




He, Himself, tells us that He is near to ALL who call to Him,
asking honestly for His help.
There is no special language
or wording that He prefers,


only that of an honest soul
looking to HIM
for an answer
to the cry.





 Today is Day 26 of the #Write31Days Challenge
as we walk through #31Days of Listening with Chronic Illness.

Thank you for walking with me!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Day 25: Listen through the Slow and Cold


I love spring flowers.




So, when I had a sudden burst of energy this morning,
I used up all my allotment of said energy
to plant some spring bulbs. 





And as I strained and struggled with the task 
that would have been but a minor chore
only a few years ago,
I remembered the words that a good friend
had shared with me last weekend.

He sent me a text which read, 
"I have two words from the Lord for you:
'winter wheat.'"


I trusted this friend enough to know that I needed to
pay attention
when he felt something for me while praying.



So I researched "winter wheat" and found some interesting facts. Did you know that there is a term for plants which require a set amount of time in cooler temperatures in order to bear flowers? That term is vernalization, and applies to many familiar plants, especially to winter wheat, which is sown in autumn, and harvested the next summer or early autumn. When we lived in farm country I remember the beauty of a field of freshly sprouted winter wheat, the vivid emerald green flashing against the reds and golds of the adjacent autumn leaves.  It felt almost cruel to me, to think of those tender and weak-looking blades shivering under the blanket of snow that was soon to come.

And, it's the same for my beloved spring bulbs: 
they have to get planted now, 
before the winter freeze settles into the ground,
but early enough so that their required
time of cold temperatures can be met.

There is a slow time that is required before those plants can bear their beautiful flowers, a slow time under the cold and ice before they can bring to fullness the harvest for which they were created. 


And my heart had to ask the question then,
Is there a slow and icy time 
that is required for
those of us
who have been planted
in these dark and
dreary-feeling-places
where trials run deep?

Could it be that the cold season
has to happen 
before the fullness of the harvest
can come to fruition?




Every fall, I dread the cold and icy season
that I know is coming.

But my ears are open to hear a new song
this time,
a song that relishes this Season of Slow,
because I can trust my

Master Gardener

to watch over this tender plant
while the winds are howling
and the snow is falling.

The time of awakening will bear the fruit
and the beautiful flower
for which this season has been
the preparation.







This is Day 25 for the #Write31Days Challenge,
and we are on the Home Stretch for these
#31Days of Listening with Chronic Illness!






I am linking today over at these great sites:

 

  
 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Day 24: Listen for Instructions



Have you ever felt that nothing you are doing
is making any difference?


Perhaps you have felt that you are doing everything
you know to do,
and yet the results have turned out
far below your expectations?  


Or, what if you are in the place 
where nothing makes sense
and there seems to be nowhere
to turn for any answer?


You are not alone, because I would have had to choose
"All of the Above"
if this were a multiple choice quiz,
about how to live with a 
Chronic Illness.




 I remember the days when my husband was in college,
and we had an 11 month old son
to care for.
God had just given us an incredible miracle
by opening up a low-rent apartment
where there had previously been
no vacancy in sight.

And I was grateful, truly I was.
But how could we pay even that small rent
when my husband could find no job
that would accommodate his school schedule?
And, with every ounce of my being, 
I wanted to stay home to care for our son.
He wasn't even weaned yet.

But I knew the answer that God was trying to give
to me.

Surrender

It's not a pretty word when we are fighting
against it.
Not when we think that we know what is best.

I wrestled with God over this question,
and fought with Him about
leaving my son with a caregiver
that was not me or my husband.

But He didn't change His direction,
just to meet my wish.
In fact, His instruction to me grew more clear
with every passing day.

And, I finally gave up the fight, and took the jobs 
that were offered to me.
I tried to hide my tears as I answered the phones,
typed out the letters,
and managed the files,
for companies that had no idea of my inner struggle.

The years passed, and my husband finally 
earned his degree,
and took up a position as Children's Pastor,
while I returned home to care for our
son, now 3 years old.
We played, and we worked together,
and we took long hikes in the woods,
chasing spiders and leaves,
and little-boy-wonders.
And my heart tucked away the years that I felt
had been eaten by the locust while
I had earned the income
for our family.

Until the day that I gave birth to our precious second son.
As I counted the months that had transpired
between my leaving the workplace,
until the day of that birth,
I realized that they were the exact amount of time
that I had been at work, away from
our first son.

God had indeed given back the time,
of my obedience to Him
without my realizing it.





Sometimes I think we feel that obedience to God
means perfection in this life,
and in so doing, we miss the blessing
that God is trying to show us,
that would flow full like the river.


But what if we truly listened to His voice,
and surrendered our choices,
to hear His instruction,
unfettered by our own demands?

Perhaps, we would see that the choices
set before us
are in the hands of the ONE
who truly has our best in mind,
the only ONE who knows what is right
for me and for you,

here today in this path of His choosing.




This is Day 24 in the #Write31Days Challenge.
I am so honored to walk this path with you
here in #31Days of Listening with Chronic Illness.

If want to catch up on any missed posts,