Saturday, May 8, 2021

God's Grace and Goodness

 


A favorite verse of mine the last several years is Hebrews 13:5.  In the later part of that verse God says, "Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you." I also love Ephesians 3:20 which says, "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us"

I think back on difficulties and trials I have experienced in the last years.  There are current trials as well.  I also remember, however, God's presence with me through it all it all in the past; and I remind myself of His presence in current situations.  I further remember God's promises to me in His Word.  Finally, I have also seen His wonderworking power and work in the publication of my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.  I further have seen Him granting many "immeasurably more" than I can "ask or imagine" other blessings including second love and remarriage.

God is truly with His children in good times and difficult times.  Life can be very difficult for the child of God at times, but He always works things for our ultimate good.  It may not seem that way at the time, but God truly is directing and guiding our lives, and His power is within us.  Thank God for that, because in my own feeble attempts I would fall flat on my face.

I can be sure of God's presence and  strength, because when I was a young woman I became His child.  I was raised in a Christian home, but I had to accept His grace for me personally through the Holy Spirit working in me.  This is true for all of us.  All of His promises in His Word hold true only if we have accepted Him as our Savior and Lord.

God is the Creator and King, the one Lord over the universe.  After sin entered the world people rejected God.  God won't let rebellion stand forever, but He sent Jesus as a sacrifice for sin.  He not only died to pay for our sins; but he rose again victorious over sin, satan, and death.  He offers us forgiveness and reconciliation, and we are invited to accept that offer.  When we turn to Him for forgiveness He transforms our hearts, and slowly makes our desires for Him and His will more and more important to us. (Check out Romans 19 and Ephesians 2.)  

What is beautiful is that the Lord not only desires to save us from our sins and failures, but He is then with us as we face life's struggles.  Lysa Ter Keurst says this in her book, Embraced "Though we may get our hearts broken from the effects of sin in this in-between time, God's goodness will eventually set the world right.  In the meantime, we must hold fast to the truth of who God is and His unchanging nature:  God is good.  His plans are good.  His requirements are good.  His salvation is good.  His grace is good.  His forgiveness is good.  His restoration is good.  That is what I believe about God.  God is good."  There is victory in Him!  Praise the Lord!

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Suffering and Trials



Suffering and trials, be it a pandemic or a personal loss, are often God's way of speaking to us.  He is showing us that He is sovereign and in control of everything in our life and in the world around us.  Suffering and trials are an opportunity to seek God, to pant after Him, and to long for Him.  It is a time to listen to God and learn from God.  It is a time to remember God in a special way.  Although every trial in our life is not the result of some particular sin in our life, it is also a time for repentance and turning to God.  

Some time ago I ran across a quotation from one of my devotion books which I had posted on my Facebook page that year.   This is what it said:  "Suffering calls us out our our shallowness into the dangerous and demanding but ultimately delightful depths of an intense life with God.  We simply cannot confront the harsh realities of loss and pain without being stretched and deepened."  

That is a pretty profound statement is is not?  There is much food for thought in that statement.  If deep suffering and even petty daily irritations deepens our intense life with God, should we not actually thank Him for difficult circumstances and situations in our lives?

At the very least I think we should be encouraged and not discouraged when the difficult moments come. Recently I also read the following in my devotions, "To look around is to be distressed; to look within is to be depressed; to look up is to be blessed."  Discouragement is a favorite tool of Satan.  Will we succumb to discouragement, or will we choose gratitude which is God's way of healing our souls?  Lord, help us choose gratitude and Your joy and encouragement. 


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Your Treasure and Your Strength



(In my last post I talked about the publication of my book.  The post this week is a chapter from my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.)

Dear Christian caregiver, the Lord is your treasure and strength in the storm of family care-giving.  God may be using the storms of your care-giving days to show you His strength in your weakness, as you seek to deal with the overwhelming challenges.  Because of your relationship with the Lord, dear Christian caregiver, you can approach God with confidence and freedom for help and strength as you face each new day.

I felt so inadequate for the task of being my husband's caregiver.  It was not a role I would have chosen, and I certainly felt unprepared for that role.  However, God, delights to use unlikely ordinary, weak people to do His will.  When you yield your limitations and even failures to the Lord, dear caregiver, you become a wonderful instrument in the Lord's hand.  His strength and not your own will then fill you.

Also, I know of no greater work in the kingdom of heaven than family care-giving.  It is often a thankless job accompanied by grief and perhaps tears as one sees one's loved one's health deteriorate.  It is never a pointless role, however.  For whatever is done for others is done for the Lord, and it will produce a harvest of blessings and joy in God's perfect timetable.

The family care-giving role is a role that often feels as if it is leading down blind alleys.  Christian caregivers, however, can be assured that their Good Shepherd is leading and guiding them each step of the way.  Depend on Him for guidance and protection just as lambs follow their shepherd.  As your Good Shepherd, He will walk before you and lead you.  He is your hope for today, as you face your care-giving challenges.  He is also your hope and the hope of your loved one for the future!  He is your treasure and Strength, dear caregiver.


(As I indicated last week, If you wish to purchase my book you can purchase it from me directly by contacting me at jesuschild54@hotmail.com for specifics.    My book is also available at Amazon at this link:  https://www.amazon.com/DEAR-CAREGIVER-Reflections-Family-Caregivers-ebook/dp/B00JQFJJRA/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Dear+Caregiver+by+Sharon+Vander+Waal&qid=1617808237&s=books&sr=1-1  

You can further find my book at Barnes and Noble and elsewhere online.  The Barnes and Noble link is here:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dear-caregiver-sharon-vander-waal/1119198854?ean=9781629524269  There are Kindle and Nook versions of the book as well as print copies.  Consider giving this book as a love gift for a family caregiver you know or buying it for yourself.)

Saturday, April 17, 2021

April Memories

 


April marks the remembrance of significant events in my life.  Some events were difficult and some were very exciting.  It was in April of 2006 that my first husband, Wayne, went into the doctor's office, and we received our first indication that something was wrong.  This was followed by a four and a half year struggle with his ever increasingly disabling neurological disease.  

Yet it was in April of 2008 that I completed eight months of breast cancer treatment.  What an exciting day!  I remember dancing a little jig with a couple of my granddaughters that day.  Seven years ago in April in 2014 also marks the publication of my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.  What an exciting day that was as well!  

Based on my experience as a family caregiver, I wrote my book to encourage current family caregivers.  Family care-giving, while a noble calling, is also exhausting and sometimes discouraging.  If you are a family caregiver, or you know a family caregiver, they may be blessed and encouraged by my book based on my own experience as a caregiver.  In fact, my current husband, Bob, was blessed by reading my book when he was caring for his first wife, Gloria. 

My book starts with a brief synopsis of my care-giving story followed by over one hundred brief chapters meant to encourage current caregivers.  While writing my book I sought to stay connected with my readers by relevant examples from my own care-giving experiences.  I did this by seeking to drive home messages that would encourage readers to persevere in the challenges of family care-giving.  I tried to be vulnerable and honest about the feelings and emotions that I experienced during that time in my life as a caregiver for my husband.  I also tried to express both the blessings and challenges of that time period in my life.  I further tried to share the importance of drawing closer to the Lord in difficult and challenging moments.

If you wish to purchase my book you can purchase it from me directly by contacting me at jesuschild54@hotmail.com for specifics.    My book is also available at Amazon at this link:  https://www.amazon.com/DEAR-CAREGIVER-Reflections-Family-Caregivers-ebook/dp/B00JQFJJRA/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Dear+Caregiver+by+Sharon+Vander+Waal&qid=1617808237&s=books&sr=1-1  

You can further find my book at Barnes and Noble and elsewhere online.  The Barnes and Noble link is here:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dear-caregiver-sharon-vander-waal/1119198854?ean=9781629524269  There are Kindle and Nook versions of the book as well as print copies.  Consider giving this book as a love gift for a family caregiver you know or buying it for yourself.  

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Out of Control Situations




Have you ever felt as if you were dropped into an out of control situation?  Have you ever felt as if you had no clue how to handle a certain set of circumstances?  I felt that some years ago when my first husband, Wayne, was diagnosed with an terminal neurological illness.  I felt that many days, as I cared for him in his ever declining body disabilities.  I also felt it when I was diagnosed with breast cancer a year after Wayne's diagnosis, and sometimes in situations living as a widow after Wayne's death.  My current husband, Bob, also felt it when he cared for his first wife.  The knowledge of God's presence helped us through these circumstances.

Bob and I have also felt we were dropped into an out of control situation(s) when praying for and counselling family members.  Sometimes we have felt at a lost for wisdom in navigating this/these situation(s).  We in addition have felt it as we have navigated through the COVID 19 era.  Praise God that we are now both fully immunized!

Situations that tax our wisdom and endurance have huge benefits, however.  They reveal to us our own pride, fears, and even sinful selfishness.  They reveal to us what we are sometimes wrongly relying on besides the Lord for our security and peace.  They reveal that only the Lord can fill that need for security and peace.  They show us His love, forgiveness, peace, and wisdom.  Out of control situations show us that we are desperate and inept in ourselves, but strong in the Lord.  Let's always run to His open arms for help, guidance, and comfort.   

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Easter Joy




Easter is a special time of year.  I would say it is my favorite holiday.  I love the deep spiritual significance of the true meaning of Easter, and I love that it has not been so commercialized as other holidays.  

Easter means that the Lord Jesus came to this earth and lived a perfect life for you and me.  He later died on the cross to pay the price for our sins, and then He arose again on the third day to prove that He had won over sin and death and Satan. If you and I have accepted his gift of salvation by repentance and faith, we are His child now and for eternity.

Easter also means that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, identifies with our pain and the pain of our loved ones. As we struggle in our own needs or to help our loved ones, Jesus Christ identifies with us. Having suffered the worst possible pain for us on the cross He is able to sympathize with our heartaches and weaknesses. He is also an all-powerful Savior to whom we can freely go for grace in our moments of sadness and overwhelming and crushing needs.  (Check out Hebrews 4:15-16 in the New Testament.)

Because of Easter and Christ's sacrifice, we can freely approach God the Father Himself with both our needs and our loved one's needs. We can cry out to Him for help and call Him our “Abba Father,” because He considers us His special children (Romans 8:15). Easter also means that when our hearts are so weighed down with the heartaches and overwhelming circumstances of life that we do not even know how to pray, the Holy Spirit will intercede and pray for us! (Romans 8:26)

Easter means that although we will always face trials and troubles in this world, the Lord Jesus Christ has overcome the world.  He is also our source of peace even in the most challenging of times (John 16:33).  Even in overwhelming circumstances and even when we do not understand God's ways in allowing certain things in our lives, God is working for our ultimate good. We are victors in Him! (Romans 8:28 & 37)

No matter what happens in our life situations we will slowly heal emotionally and spiritually. God will always be with us, and joy will return one day. His love for us will never fail. He proved that love for us on the cross. That is the meaning of Easter for all of us.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

God's Plan A

 


Do you ever question God's plan for your life?  When something happens in your life that is tragic or is not your first choice, do you feel God has to scramble to come up with plan B instead of His first plan for your life?

Nancy Guthrie writes this in her book, The One Year Book of Hope, "God's plan for your life is unfolding, and nothing and nobody can hinder it---Whatever is happening in your life, you can welcome it as God's sovereign Plan A.  God carries out His own good purposes without mistakes or regrets, and His plan is never thwarted."

Nancy also says that Satan tries to scheme and destroy, and many things in this life are difficult and sometimes tragic.  God doesn't run behind Satan, however, frantically trying to clean up his messes.  God is not forced to go to Plan B.  Satan's schemes do not catch God off guard.

God, even in the tragedies and sad moments of life, always has a good plan for our lives.  He is always working for His glory and for our spiritual good.  It was God's Plan A that I was a caregiver for my first husband, Wayne.  It  was God's plan A that I became a widow.  God's plan A was in operation for my life in the years and events that have followed in both the times of joy and heartache.  It was God's Plan A for me, as I began a new chapter in my life with my new husband, Bob.

God's Plan A is always in place for you as well, dear reader.  This is true in all the events of your life.  He is rejoicing with you in your joys and is always there to comfort you in your sorrows.  On this Palm Sunday let us join the believers of old and today and sing "Hosanna to the King of Kings."