Friday, May 17, 2024

Lessons Learned in Spring

 


Spring is a time of transistion.  It is a time when we tend to switch back and forth between warm sunny days and rainy colder days.  In 2010 we apparently were blessed with a particularly beautiful spring, however.  In late May of 2010, while still a caregiver for my first husband, Wayne, I wrote the following words:

I always thought that I liked autumn the best of all the four seasons. This year, however, I am really enjoying spring. Our neighbors to the right of us have three fruit trees in their yard that have beautiful pink blossoms on them. We have a smaller fruit tree on our yard. People across the street also have a fruit tree with beautiful white blossoms on it. There is beauty all around me this spring. I am amazed at the beauty in God's creation." 

This year in 2024 I have been enjoying the tulips, as they have been exceptionally beautiful.  I look forward to the other spring flowers soon to bloom and to the roses which usually are abundant on our rose bush sometime in June.

Spring is also a time for dandelions, however. They are that pesky "flower" that likes to take over people's lawns. They are especially unattractive when they go to seed.  I think that is a perfect analogy for our lives.   Why is it that it is so much easier to concentrate on the dandelions instead of the awesomely beautiful spring flowers and trees?

Likewise, it is so easy to concentrate on the sorrows, difficulties, and frustrations of life. We sometimes forget to concentrate on the blessings and beauties all around us. Most mornings as part of my devotions I try to write down blessings for which I am thankful. That helps, but it is still easy to slip into the negative emotions, as one works one's way through the day.

"Lord, comfort me in my times of sorrow and frustration. Give me the perseverance of the dandelion which continues to flourish in spite of being mowed down and hated. Finally open my eyes to Your blessings, Lord; and make me truly thankful."

Life can be extremely challenging and discouraging. In spite of this, dear reader, try to look for the blessings in the midst of the sometimes chaos of life.  God often gives us the blessings of character building, growth in the faith, and the gift of His presence in a special way through the avenue of the challenges and trials of life. 

When my grandchildren were younger they would sometimes come to my house with fresh bouquets of dandelions. They did this because of their love for me. The dandelions which often are considered a weed and a nuisance by many, then became a blessing to me. In a similar way, the Lord can use the discouraging aspects of life to show His love to you, dear reader. Trust Him to use the difficult things in your life for ultimate good even when that is very difficult for you to see at times. 




Friday, May 10, 2024

Joyful Moments


Sometimes we get so weighed down by the difficult moments that we fail to keep our focus on the Lord and the glory that awaits us some day in Eternity.  The Lord at times also gives us moments of joy or an oasis of joy even here in our life on earth. For me many of these moments revolve around family and watching my grandchildren grow and mature especially spiritually.

I remember Christmases of years past when some years we as family were able to get together in spite of being miles apart.  I remember the joy of for a few years being able to tutor some of my grandchildren who were being home schooled at the time.  I remember being able to attend my granddaughter's high school graduation.  She lived 500 miles away, and for a little while it appeared that my ride to that graduation had fallen through.  I remember the honor of being asked by another granddaughter to critique her portfolio's for a college course that she was taking.  I remember seven years ago having my grandson from London who was only a few months old at the time in my home along with his mother for about six weeks. 


Almost five years ago all my grandchildren were present at my wedding to Bob, although they have grown and matured so much even since that day.  Then a few years ago they were together again minus my London grandchildren.  Here is a picture of them that weekend: 


There are many other memories that I could include, but I will conclude with two more pictures that are more recent.  One is of my grandson who made profession of faith in his church on April 28th.  The second on is of a granddaughter graduating from college on May 4th.







Saturday, April 27, 2024

Lessons Learned From Cinderella?


I have a confession to make.  I enjoy Cinderella type stories.  Yet is the Cinderella story we all know a true picture of what love really entails?  In the story the prince falls in love with a beautiful magically transformed Cinderella.  Yet the real Cinderella was also a young lady who was being abused by her family.  She most likely wore ragged clothes and was covered in ash soot.  She may have had major self-esteem issues because of how she had been treated by her family.

It appears as if the prince accepted her, because when he found her in her lowly estate he married her and took her to the palace to live with him.  In order for initial love to survive the prince had to have committed love as well, however.  He had to love her more than he loved himself.  He had to love her in spite of her weaknesses and hang-ups.  He had to love her in sickness and in health.  He had to have a "until death due us part" love for her.

Many of my readers are showing that kind of committed love to the family member for whom they are caring be it spouse, parent, or other family member or even a friend.  This kind of love requires sacrifice and is not always Cinderella like glamorous.  It takes commitment no matter how difficult it gets.  Thank you, dear caregiver, for the love that you show in that way to your loved one.

Remember too, dear caregiver, the Lord, your true Prince, accepts you and loves you with all your weaknesses.  He loves you with a true committed love which we humans can only begin to mimic.  He also clothes you with His righteousness, if you are His child!

(If you missed last week's post on our real home, our eternal home; you can click on the following link to read that post:   https://christiancaregiving.blogspot.com/2024/04/our-real-home.html )

Friday, April 19, 2024

Our Real Home


 As many if not all of you know, my husband is now living in an assisted living facility.  This has been a difficult adjustment for him, so I ask you to pray for him.   Earlier in his stay at the facility there were many requests and sometimes demands on his part to go home.  When he said that he wanted to go home, he was referring to our condo in our small town.  As I think of this, however, I believe there is a desire in all of us to go home, to go to our real home, our eternal home.  

As I ponder this further, I wonder if this is not my husband's longing deep down in his spirit as well, to go home to his real home, to the place of no tears, no aging, no pain, and no heartache, to go to a place of rest and security free from the difficult issues of this life.  This world is not our real and lasting home.  We are merely on pilgrimage journeying to our eternal home.  The Lord Jesus is our Shepherd guiding us to our real and eternal home.  He provides abundant blessings and protection along the way.  Yet it is best, if we do not get too complacent or attached to this world, for we are just passing through.

 Personally, I sometimes weary of the pilgrimage.  When my husband and I married, less than five years ago, we both had big dreams.  We both had lost our first spouses to difficult diseases, and this seemed as if it was a chance for a beautiful second love for both of us.  Instead he is now living at a facility, and I have my own physical issues of osteoporosis, back pain, cataracts etc.   Yet God assures me that in addition to an eternal home promised to me, I can be certain that God had placed me exactly where He wants me to be at this time and place.  There is a purpose for where I am in my life.  There is a purpose for even the trials, if only to teach dependence on him.

So wherever you are in your life, dear reader, run your life race with vigor depending on the Lord. Be thankful for your blessings, but don't get too attached to this world.  Look forward with joy and hope to your real home in Eternity.  





Friday, April 12, 2024

Why is There Suffering in the World?


Why does God allow suffering in the lives of Christians?  Why are we living in an increasingly dangerous world of persecution and suffering?  Why is there suffering of any kind in this world? Why is there abuse of all kinds and hardships in our world? Why did your loved one become ill?  If God is a God of miracles, why doesn't God just fix things?

There are no easy answers to these questions.  We do know that sin entered this world when Adam and Eve, the first people, disobeyed God.  Hence, we no longer live in a perfect world.  It is now a world affected by sorrow and sickness.  Also people make bad choices sometimes which unfortunately affects other people as well.

On a personal level I do know God has used the difficult experiences in my life to teach me valuable lessons.  I am learning that I am not in control.  I am learning of the need to depend on the Lord, even though I still am prone to fret and try to solve things in my own strength.  I am learning of the need to seek God for Himself and not for what He can give me.  I have seen His faithfulness over and over.  Through trials I have grown and continue to grow in my love for the Lord. I have come to know not just in my head but in my heart in a deeper way the truths of His promises.  I often still get easily discouraged, but I know that feelings are not a measure of God's truths. Feelings do not negate God's promises to always be with me.

Jesus said we would face trials in this life.  He also said, however, that we can take heart, because He has overcome the world (John 16:33 in the New Testament of the Bible).  He has promised to always be with us and  to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5b in the New Testament).  We also have the assurance that someday all will be made right and perfect when He returns.

We just celebrated Easter a couple weeks ago.  Christ suffered unimaginable suffering, so we could be saved. Easter further assures us of His presence in our lives through the trials we suffer.  It proves His love for us.  We need no other proof of Christ's love, when we really contemplate what He did for us.  Rest in that, dear Reader.



Friday, April 5, 2024

Christmas Catcus Lessons


 As most of you most likely already know, the plant in the picture above is called a Christmas Cactus.  It was blooming for me around Christmas of last year.  In fact, if my memory is correct; I bought this plant around that time of year.  For several months, however, it has not bloomed at all.  The leaves were healthy and green, but there were no blossoms. 

Now I understand that the Christmas Cactus also sometimes blooms around Easter.  That is just what happened this year.  A few days before Easter it started to get blossoms on it, and then one day it produced the beautiful flower you see in the picture.

As a person who does not particularly have a green thumb, I was excited about this development and even posted it on my Facebook page.  Yet then I thought about the spiritual lessons from this.  When Jesus came to this earth as a baby in a manger that was a glorious day for mankind.  There was now the promise of new life for believers.  When Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins and then rose again to prove that He had won over sin and death, however, that new life and blssoming of eternal hope was sealed and accomplished.

Through all those years between when Adam and Eve sinned until Jesus came to this earth to accomplish His work of salvation, God's people had to watch and wait for that day of salvation. In anticipation of that day Isaiah 35:1 says,"The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom."  Did God's people ever grow weary looking for that salvation to come?  Then one day it happened!  Some did not believe and accept Jesus, the Savior, and His salvation when it did come.  But for those who did accept that salvation it brought joy, new life, and blossoming in their lives!

Now some day Jesus will return to this earth a second time.  Only this time He will come back as a King of kings on the clouds of glory.  It took my plant a long time to blossom a second time.  So Jesus' second coming may seem like a long time in coming, but one day it too will happen!  You and I may become weary of the trials of this life, but Jesus is coming back to bring His children to Himself. As the song says, "What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see"!   


Friday, March 29, 2024

Easter

 


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.  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 our needs. We can cry out to Him for help and call Him our “Abba Father,” because He considers us His special child. (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 the overwhelming circumstances of life, even when we do not understand God's ways in allowing certain things in our lives, and even in the most unthinkable circumstances, God is working for our ultimate good. We are victors in Him! (Romans 8:28)

Dear Christian reader, my hope for you would be that no matter what happens in your life situations you will slowly heal emotionally and spiritually. God will always be with you, and joy will return one day even in the overwhelmingly difficult situations. His love for you will never fail. He proved that love for you on the cross. That is the meaning of Easter for all of us.