Saturday, July 24, 2021

Fifty Years Ago and It's Blessings


As we talked about last week, God places us in different situations and circumstances for a certain period of time to accomplish His will.  It was in God's plan that Bob and I were married to Gloria and Wayne respectively before we married each other.  Our caring for our first spouses made us the people we are today and the people we can be for each other and our families today.  As I said before, I talked about this in my blog post last week which you can read by clicking on the link below; if you did not get chance to read it last week:  https://christiancaregiving.blogspot.com/2021/07/chosen-for-such-time-as-this.html

Fifty years ago on July 30, 1971, I became a blushing bride for the first time.  I married my first love that day.  I really only had one boyfriend before that time, and that dating relationship only lasted a few months.  Wayne and I had a good marriage, and it resulted in three sons and nine grandchildren two of whom were born after Wayne's death.  I have a picture above of grandchildren that are a result of that marriage.  (This picture ironically was taken on Bob's and my wedding day.)

The last years of that marriage were difficult because of Wayne's neurological disease, and I lost him to death in early 2011.  Those were difficult years, but once again, I praise God for the awesome things that came from that experience including my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers.  Later Bob, my new husband of two years, read my book while he was caring for his wife, and that is partly why we are together today. 

Praise God for strength and blessing in both the difficult moments and joyful moments.  He is a good and faithful God.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Chosen For Such a Time As This



Have you ever wondered why you are at the place and position you are in your life?  The answer is that God has sovereignly placed you where you are today.  You also had choices along the way to follow or disobey God's leading.  God's plan will be accomplished with or without us, but it is amazing to watch God use insignificant weak, fearful human beings in awesome ways when they trust in His strength and guidance. 

In my church we are currently studying the book of Easter in the Old Testament of the Bible.  God used Esther in this way.  She was really a nobody who was elevated to queen.  God later used her to save His Old Testament people, the Jews, from annihilation.  When she was afraid to approach the king to accomplish this, her cousin, Mordecai said to her, "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise form another place."  Mordecai goes on to say, "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for a time such as this."   

As I look back on my life I am amazed how God has placed me in various roles and situations for a certain time for His purposes.  I was very unqualified to be my first husband's caregiver for four and a half years.  It was painful to see him decline step by step and eventually die.  Yet God gave me the strength to do this, and I drew closer to Him in the process.  I was His chosen instrument for that time.  It was difficult navigating the role of widow for over eight years as well, but God also gave me strength, comfort, and joy during that time as well.  My love for Him further grew by leaps and bounds during that time.

Many unexpected God moments came during those years.  After my first husband's death I started a blog to encourage caregivers.  I also wrote my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers for the same reason.  During those years I had three interviews for various publications.  In a million years I would not have guessed this would happen in my life and that God would use me this way.  Ephesians 3:20 says, "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to to His power that is at work within us."  God had placed me in a certain time and place for a time such as that.  He delights to use insignificant weak human beings, so He can better show His power and strength.

A little over two years ago I remarried.  (If you have not already read it, you can read my post of last week about that by clicking on the link here:  https://christiancaregiving.blogspot.com/2021/07/second-year-anniversary.html ) The story of how that came about is also a remarkable story of God's sovereign working in my life.  Being married especially in a second marriage has put me in an entirely different place again from my life as a single widow.  But who knows but that I have not come to this position "for such a time as this?"  I am absolutely convinced that I am where God wants me to be now in my life.

God's timing in my second marriage also was perfect.  I had to have been married to Wayne first and Bob had to have been married to Gloria first.  That part of our lives with the wonderful moments and the heartbreaking moments of watching our loved ones decline and die made us the people we are today.  Also the children and grandchildren which came from those first marriages were part of God's perfect timing.  We made the right choices then, but after the tragedies of the last years we made the right choices now.  God lead us to those choices in His perfect timing.

Life on this earth is never a life of ease for a child of God.  There may even be adverse or difficult  consequences in living for Him in the place where He has placed us.  Yet in His strength we can find courage for the tasks He has given us, and we can find joy in being used by Him.     

Where are you in your life, dear reader?  God had placed you in the place you are now for "such an time as this."  Will you follow His lead and be used of Him?  Will you rest in His strength and guidance, and will you praise Him along the way through the difficult and wonderful moments?

  

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Second Year Anniversary

There is a verse in the Bible which speaks of beauty coming from ashes.  Those who read my blog posts know that I have found that to be true in my life and in my walk of faith.  I was my first husband's caregiver for a few years.  I eventually lost him to death.  Yet God used that difficult time in my life in awesome ways.  

Two years ago on July 13, 2019,  I remarried. God places us where we belong in our life in His perfect timing.  Next week in my blog post I will discuss that very thing.  I have also learned that marriage or any other endeavor in life is about service to others and God.  Marriage is not about perfection in the other person, but accepting each other as we are and building each other up.  Sometimes we have to work hard at that, and it does not come easily.  Further marriage is about two people finding purpose and fulfillment in the Lord and not expecting one's mate to meet our every need.  Only God can do that.   Godly marriage involves serving the Lord and finding joyful companionship, love, and even romance together.   

So as I publish this blog post this week, I am reminded once again of the verse from Isaiah 6I:3 which speaks of beauty coming from ashes.  I will end with some thoughts that I read at the end of a fictional novel I just read.  This novel featured two mature people who already had grandchildren and who also found second love.  The main character basically said that in spite of all the heartaches which she had experienced that she would not wish on anyone, "out of the ashes of heartache came something new."  She said out of all that came something wonderful, namely a second chance at love.  I will enclose a couple pictures of Bob and I at our wedding two years ago.


   

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Freedom


July 4th is Independence Day in the United States.  It is the birthday of our country, and it represents freedom.  I am thankful for the freedom of speech and worship that I have as a United States citizen.  What is even more important, however, is my freedom in Christ that I experience as His child.

Freedom in Christ includes freedom from the penalty and power of our sins.

Freedom in Christ includes freedom from fear in spite of adverse circumstances.

Freedom in Christ is freedom from self and selfish willful ways when we are trusting in the Lord.

Freedom in Christ involves joyful service to others.

Freedom in Christ involves knowing the truth of God's Word which sets one free.

Freedom in Christ means serving the Lord.

Freedom in Christ means I can come to Him anytime with my needs.

Freedom in Christ means the ability to live in a joyful relationship with the Lord.   

Psalm 18:19 says,  "He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me."   What a wonderful freedom we find in the Lord!  Praise Him name for that!

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Choosing Gratitude

 

As I publish this blog post this week, I woke up with a headache.   I am therefore not feeling particularly cheerful this Saturday morning.  Do you ever feel this way in the day to day struggles?  Yet gratitude is one of the most important attitudes that we should cultivate. 

When I was a family caregiver for my first husband, Wayne, it was difficult to be thankful in the chaos and drama of watching my husband's body deteriorate step by step.  Life became so very overwhelming at times. Life as a widow also involved moments of grief and challenge for me.  Although happily remarried, life continues to have struggles and challenges.  That is the nature of life on this earth.

One of the things that began to help me in this area, I learned as a caregiver for my first husband. The course of action that helped me was to write down a few things each day for which I was thankful like the beauty of flowers, other beauties in creation, or more importantly my salvation and relationship with the Lord. This simple practice did much to open my eyes to the little wonders and love gifts of God which were still in my life.  It is a practice I still carry on today.  I now often write down things for which I am thankful that day based on the promises I find in the Bible in my morning devotions.

I think gratitude has to go even further than writing down a few things for which I am thankful each day, however.  It has to be a heart attitude.  In the measure I  experience this heart attitude in spite of difficult circumstances, there will be joy and peace.

A few years ago I read a book by Nancy Leigh De Moss called Choosing Gratitude.  It is a book I would like to relocate and read again.  In one chapter she listed eight reasons for a grateful heart in spite of circumstances.  One reason is that gratitude is a matter of obedience.  It is commanded by God throughout His Word especially in the Psalms and the New Testament Epistles.  Gratitude also draws us closer to God. When we long for a greater sense of God's nearness or life's stresses pile up, gratitude to the Lord is the gateway to the Lord's presence.

Gratitude is further the only sure path to peace.  Life difficulties can pile up and become overwhelming. Prayer is a good avenue of release, but it must be accompanied with gratitude (Philippians 4:6-7.) When gratitude combines with prayer and we open our eyes to God's blessings and mercies even in the midst of heartaches, peace follows. When we thank God even when we can't understand what He is doing in our lives, there is peace.

Gratitude is also a gauge to our heart.  It is often easy to be thankful for the obvious blessings.  It is less easy to be thankful for the more difficult and hard to understand blessings.  If one is thankful in all things, it shows a heart which believes that God is always faithful and good and can be trusted. Giving thanks in all things is not acquired in a moment.  It is the result of many choices to be thankful even in difficult moments.

Gratitude is the will of God.  Choosing it is more important than choices we make about any other of life's decisions.  All other life decisions pale in comparison to choosing gratitude.  Gratitude is proof of being filled with the Holy Spirit.  It is evidence that we are yielding to His control. Gratitude further reflects Jesus' heart.  Even the night before Jesus was put on the cross He showed gratitude to the Heavenly Father in His prayers at the Last Supper.  He gratefully and willingly submitted to the Father's will in spite of the horrors of the cross just before Him.

Finally, gratitude prepares us for heaven.  Think of all the saints in heaven praising God before His throne.  My first husband is no longer suffering from his neurological disease, but he is praising God before His throne right now! So are other loved ones who have gone on before me.  I too can join in that praise by thanking and praising the Lord now.  Life is often difficult.  Yet in the measure we thank God in and even for the difficulties peace will follow.  Resolve with me to walk that path, dear reader.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Father's Day

This week-end is Father's Day in the United States, so I am taking a bit of a break from my regular format.  I am thankful today for my Dad who showed an immense amount of patience and perseverance in his life.  He patiently endured the struggles that most farmers endure.  He always put his trust in the Lord during those moments.  I also saw my Dad's patience, perseverance, and trust in the Lord during those years of major health problems.  I still have a postcard that he sent me while he was in the hospital.  He wrote this that day, "I feel a little blue, but there is One Almighty above who loves and cares."  My Dad always read Scripture and prayed at the table as well.  His example helped me to persevere during some very difficult moments in my life like caring for my first husband, fighting breast cancer, and losing my first husband to death.

Today I also am thankful for my first husband, Wayne, who was the father to my sons and now lives in Heaven.  His Godly example to his sons and his gentle and loving nature were wonderful examples to all who knew him.  He was a hard worker, and loved his family very much.  He also persevered until his death though some very difficult health problems.  In many ways he reminded me of my Dad.

Finally, I am thankful for Bob who became my husband two years ago this coming July.  He is a loving and concerned father to his daughters and also grandpa to his grandchildren.  He is very concerned about their welfare.  He also cares about my children and their welfare.  He further loves me.  He often reminds me of God's blessings to us.

Today, dear reader, thank God for the blessing of Godly men in your life as well.




Wednesday, June 2, 2021

The Deep Deep Love of Jesus


Are you going through a difficult time right now?  Are you overwhelmed with a family care-giving issue, with another family issue, a job issue, spiritual dryness, or some other overwhelming issue?  I suggest you read Ephesians 3:14-21.  In doing so, you will become overwhelmed with the love of God instead of the current trial you are facing.  This passage has always been a blessing to me.  Hearing it preached from recently in my church made it come alive for me once again.  Listen to the words of this passage and revel in them:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.

The psalmist in Psalm 119:68 says this to the Lord, "You are good and what You do is good."  If we truly begin to understand the goodness of God and the width, length, height, and depth of His love; we can accept both the bitter and sweet experiences that He allows in our lives.  The more and more we understand how vast is His love for us, the more we trust Him in all things.  

Then we also grow in the fullness of God talked about in this passage.  By growing in the fullness of God we learn of His sufficiency in our weakness.  We also grow in our intimacy with the Lord, and we long for greater intimacy.  We grow in our enjoyment of our relationship with Christ in our heart.  We do not just possess head knowledge, but become people with a heart aflame for the Lord.

We are strengthened in our inner being through the Holy Spirit in this relationship with the Lord, and it enables us  to experience a wonderful security and confidence in our identity and purpose.  Run to the Lord daily for that kind of relationship!  To Him be the glory!

I have included links to two wonderful hymns which speak of the depth of God's love for us who believe.  Just click on the links below.

Oh The Deep, Deep Love of God is one of these hymns:  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vUhwyjdk8A

Another great song is The Love of God :  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6B_jYtjvME


(There will be no new post next week.  Use that at an opportunity to read some older posts.  The next post, Lord willing, will be on or around June 19 or 20.)