Friday, September 17, 2021

Story Behind My Wall Photo

 


In late July I purchased this wall photo at a craft show.  It is now hanging in my home.  When I first entered the booth of the man selling his wall photos, I thought they were paintings.  His pictures which are scenes from nature all have that paintbrush sort of abstract look.  I soon found out they are photos beautifully mounted on a metal surface with a lovely hanger on the back. 

The story behind this photo and all this man's photos are amazing, however.  When young this man was exposed to a chemical which resulted in involuntary tremors.  For many years this was a source of frustration and even bitterness in various areas of his life.

The man was especially frustrated that he could not take a clear picture with his camera because of his tremors.  He asked his Lord many times, "Why?"  Finally the Lord told his spirit that he had been given a gift.  He consulted other artists, photographers, and designers.  They all thought his pictures were beautiful just as they are.  God uses what is outwardly a terrible disability to make something beautiful and wonderful.

In the same way God uses our weaknesses and make something wonderful and beautiful from them.  When the apostle Paul repeatedly asked God to remove some "thorn" in his life God said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."  Paul response was "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.---For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (II Corinthians 12 9-10 in the New Testament of the Bible.)  Beautiful things come from our weaknesses submitted to God, so He can fill us with His strength and beauty.

(P.S  The photographer is Ken Voigt, and his business is called Freedom INK of WI LLC, if you want to research his work some more.  He has not asked me to promote his work.  I just had to share this wonderful story.  


Saturday, September 11, 2021

Caregiver PTSD?

 


Recently my new husband of two years, Bob, had what started out to be a viral head cold type illness and which developed into a bacterial infection resulting in an ER visit and being put on antibiotics.  Although that week or two of illness was not fun, it was nothing compared to my years of caring for my first husband, Wayne.

Yet those few days of caring for Bob brought back memories of those difficult years of care-giving for Wayne, my first husband.  I am glad I had the opportunity to care for Wayne, but those years definitely taxed my endurance.  I am happy for the way my faith and love for my Lord grew during those times.  Yet they were difficult days watching my husband deteriorate step by step before my eyes.  I am thrilled by how good things came from that care-giving experience like my book, my blog, and my testimony to others.  Yet those years of watching my husband deteriorate step by step and then pass away, I would prefer to not relive.  (The picture above shows one of Wayne's last weeks on earth when all his children and grandchildren happened to be together at our house for a holiday, and tucked him in bed for the night.  Yet many times I felt very alone in this care-giving job.)

So when Bob was sick for a few days some of those old emotions of anxiety, fear, sadness, loneliness, and hypervigilance resurfaced again.  Were these feelings a type of caregiver PTSD perhaps?  I think that is a distinct possibility.  When the negative emotions surface it is important that we take care of ourselves with enough exercise, sleep, and good food.  Because our disordered emotions come from sin's curse on the world and sometimes from within ourselves, however, we need something much more fundamental.  Even children of God vitally need the Holy Spirit's comfort, and we need to feed on the promises of God's Word.  Then we need to live our lives in trust and obedience to His Word even when our unreliable emotions tell us to do otherwise.      

So I spend each morning in a time with my Lord in reading Scripture, with devotion books, and prayer.  In this way I am continually reminded that God will never leave me or forsake me.  Verses like these verses in Psalm 94 assure me each morning:  "When I said, “My foot is slipping, Your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul---But the Lord has become my fortress and my God the rock in whom I take refuge."

I thank caregivers everywhere for what you do for your loved ones.  I understand your emotions.  So does the Lord.  Turn to Him for strength for each new day.  You also might find the following short three to four minute message from John Piper on fear that I ran across recently very helpful.  Just click on the following link to hear it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdLQZRYNhb0




Saturday, August 28, 2021

August


A few days ago on August 24th it was my birthday.  The days surrounding  my birthday were not what my husband and I had planned, but it was still a good day. We had planned on the days surrounding my birthday to be involved in a trip to see the replica of the ark in Kentucky.  We also had planned to see the Creation Museum and go on a river cruise one evening. This did not happen, because Bob contracted some kind of virus head cold which developed into a more bacterial infection.  But antibiotics are finally slowly taking care of that, and he is doing at least some better again.  

Yet, as I said, in spite of not being able to leave on our planned trip; my birthday was a quiet but good  day.  I received many wonderful greetings on my birthday through Facebook messages and cards.  I also received some beautiful roses from my stepdaughters a couple days before my birthday.  (A picture of them is at the bottom of this post.)  I further received calls from all three of my sons and a birthday card from my husband the next day.  I am thankful for my Lord being with me and being faithful to me these 74 years in the valleys, mountaintop experiences, and in the in between times in my life.

I am reminded of another thing which happened seven years ago in August.  On that day my local newspaper published a story about my years as a caregiver for my first husband, Wayne.  That article talked about the struggles I experienced as a caregiver, but it also talked about how my faith helped me through that time in my life.  Finally, the newspaper article talked about my book to encourage family caregivers.  Here is the link to that newspaper article that was published seven years ago:  http://www.sheboyganpress.com/story/news/local/2014/08/26/caregiver/14628253/

I probably posted a link to that newspaper story seven years ago when it was just published, but I thought it was worth giving you the link to it again.  It gives a good rendering of my story (or rather the Lord's story) and portrays my passion to encourage family caregivers.

If you have not ordered my book, Dear Caregiver Reflections for Family Caregivers, yet, you might want to consider ordering it for yourself or for someone you love.  It contains over 100 short chapters or meditations to encourage family caregivers.  My story as a caregiver for my first husband, Wayne, is intertwined in the chapters as well.  Here is the link to the Amazon order page for my book:  https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Caregiver-Sharon-Vander-Waal/dp/1629524263/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1470784479&sr=1-1

It is also available elsewhere online as well.  Finally, you can get it directly from me by e-mailing me at jesuschild54@hotmail.com for specifics.

I know the challenges of family care-giving, dear caregiver, and I care about you.  Thank you for all that you do for your loved one!

(PS:  There will not be a new blog post once again next week.  I am sorry about that.  The next blog post should be on or around 11th or 12th of September.  Use this time to once again read some of my old posts by clicking on this link:  https://christiancaregiving.blogspot.com/   Finally, enjoy the picture of the roses my stepdaughters gave me for my birthday.)



Saturday, August 14, 2021

God's Love Gifts

 


As we discussed last week, God primarily speaks to us through His Word, the Bible, and through prayer.  That is where we most often sense His presence and hear His voice.  We call that His special revelation to us.  God also speaks to us through creation, however.  Sometimes at my lowest points in life, I have been blessed by what I call God's "love gifts" to me in creation.  May you be blessed as well today, as I share with you a few of these love gifts.











(If you missed my blog post last week about the importance of God's special revelation through prayer and Bible reading, you can click on the following link.  I talk about my prayer bench there:  https://christiancaregiving.blogspot.com/2021/08/my-prayer-bench-and-gods-presence.html   

Also there will NOT be a new blog post next week.  Use next week, as a time to reread some old posts.https://christiancaregiving.blogspot.com/  The next post should be on or around August 28 or 29.)


Saturday, August 7, 2021

My Prayer Bench and God's Presence

 



Spending time in the presence of the Lord is one of the most valuable and joyful activities in which we can engage.  I love Sundays when we can go to church, fellowship with other believers, sing in worship to God, and hear God's Word proclaimed.  Yet we can do that daily as well through personal devotions.

Psalm 84 is a beautiful Psalm which talks about a deep longing to spend time in God's presence.  The later part of verse two says, "---my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God."  Above is a picture of my prayer bench.  Inside are kept all my devotion books and notebooks.  I also have a gratitude journal or two stored there.  

Each morning I take out the materials I am going to use for the day and grab my Bible.  I like to get up early in the morning before my husband does and spend time in the Word of God and prayer.  In addition I  like to write in my gratitude journal.  I love looking out the window soaking in the wonders of God's creation and a new day, as I do this.  This is my way of being in the presence of God in a special way.

Nothing in this life truly and ultimately satisfies like a deep personal relationship with the Lord.  I really know of no other way to face each new day with its joys and  sometimes deep problems without first having spent time with the Lord.  This has always been important to me; but it became even more important to me during those years of caring for my first husband, my time of fighting breast cancer, and my years as a widow.  It still is vitally important to me in the new phase in my life; and as I grieve over certain family members' circumstances.  

The Psalmist says this to the Lord in Psalm 84:5-7, "Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.  As they pass through the Valley of Baca (valley of weepings, times of dryness and difficulty), they make it a place of springs---They go from strength to strength till each appears before God in Zion."  As I pilgrim through this life, I find this Scripture passage helpful and a blessing.  

I also find a host of other Scripture passages and promises a source of strength and blessing.  God had brought me through many valleys which required His strength and the assurance of His promise to be with me.  Being in God's Word each day helps me focus on the presence of the Lord and helps me walk with strength and even joy through this life until I reach my heavenly home.

Being in the service of the Lord and in His presence one day is better "than and thousand elsewhere" (Psalm 84:10).  This is because He is my light, my protection, my strength, and my joy.  Psalm 84:11 b promises me that "no good thing does He withhold"  from those who trust, love, and seek to obey Him.

All God's blessings and promises and His presence in my life become richer, as I spend time with Him each morning.  I thank God for that blessing in my life.  I thank Him for my prayer bench waiting for me in the quietness of each new morning.  

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Will Not Slumber or Sleep

 


In my devotions recently I reread Psalm 121.  What a beautiful Psalm of assurance for the day to day struggles and for the major struggles.  Let the words of this Psalm wash over your spirit today, as I share it for this week's blog post.  Forgive me as I insert some word of commentary in parenthesis, as we go along.

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth.  He will NOT let your foot slip-He who watches over you will neither slumber or sleep.  (He guards my footsteps.  He guards and keeps me and is never off guard or sleepy.)  The Lord watches over you (is your keeper)-The Lord is your shade at your right hand (is your spiritual refreshment through His presence); the sun will not harm you by day nor the moon by night (protects day and night).  The Lord will keep you (guard you) from all harm (evil)-He will watch over your life (preserve your body and soul); the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forever more."  

You and I often struggle with fear and anxiety, but the truth of the matter is that the Lord never takes His eyes off of us.  Even in the midst of life's toughest trials and struggles He is there protecting us.  He never promises us a life free from trials.  In fact, He says they will come.  He does promise to be with us in the middle of the trials, however, and to somehow in His mysterious ways use even trials for our ultimate good.  Our powerful, all-knowing, and loving God never loses sight of us or sleeps.  Therefore we can live with confident faith.  



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.)

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Toxic Behavior

This week I am going to discuss a topic that strays a bit from family care-giving which was the original focus and continues to be the main focus of this blog.  Yet the topic we are going to discuss is something that affects families and individuals.  It involves people who know and are influenced and perhaps abused by toxic people.  In many cases they think they need to cater to the "needs" of this toxic person and hope they can "fix" the toxic person.

Toxic people are wrapped up in their own agenda.  They seldom see their own faults and sins, and often blame others for all their problems. They may appear to be really nice at times, and may consider themselves spiritually and intellectually superior.  Yet they are usually unstable emotionally, mentally and/or spiritually.  They are often angry people and show it in their cruel words and actions. Sometimes it is blatant and sometimes it is more subtle.  Yet it tends to leave their loved ones and friends around them feeling inadequate and sad.

Now we all say hurtful things at times, or perhaps we do something that hurts the feelings of another individual.  Our spouses or friends may hurt us also sometimes by their words or actions.  The Bible talks about not using our tongues in a sinful way, and in one sense there is toxicity in us all.  In fact, Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it."   What I am talking about above, however, is something much more destructive than that.  

Do you recognize someone you know in the description I gave of a toxic person?  I do.  How does one deal with such a person in one's life, especially if they are a family member?  There are no easy answers.  However, we must remember three things.  We can't fix or change such a person.  Often we can only pray for them.  Only God can change them, and they have to want to change.  Secondly, sometimes the only thing to do is to remove oneself from that person's presence and influence.  Thirdly, if things ever become abusively dangerous; outside help and intervention should be sought.  

Finally, there are a number of internet articles on toxic people.  If you know someone who you suspect is having a toxic effect on your personally, you may wish to read some of these articles.  They may give valuable insight into what is involved with this kind of toxicity and insight into how to deal with toxic situations and people.


Friday, May 21, 2021

Lessons Learned From a Dishwasher

 


Way back in January our brand new dishwasher that we had just purchased the July before malfunctioned.  We were told that it was a faulty drain pump.  After months of the drama of waiting for a replacement drain pump and them sending us faulty replacement parts three times over for the old dishwasher, we finally received a new free dishwasher installed in early May.

This reminds me of my life and all of our lives.  Our lives need to be drained of toxic thoughts, emotions, and attitudes in order to be useful in God's kingdom.  God wants to help us fight discouragement, doubt, pride, spiritual dryness, sinful attitudes and actions, and fear which clog up our lives.  These things keep us from being as effective in God's kingdom as we could, and they rob us of joy.

A dishwasher also has to fill with clean water in order to do the job it was meant to do.  So we also need to fill our minds with good things-with promises, warnings, and instruction from the Word of God. Then we have to be filled with love for God and others and also filled with a desire to live our lives for Him.  This will help us to be flourishing people who function well in God's kingdom and in the world.  It will help us be people of joy even in times of difficulty.       

Friday, May 14, 2021

Caring for an Elderly Parent

 


Perhaps you have reached a point in your family's life when it is time for you to talk to an elderly parent about the need for more care for them.  Perhaps you are seeing declines in mental or physical health, or you are seeing an inability to perform normal daily tasks.  You realize you need to have a conversation with them.  This requires sensitivity and wisdom.  Click on the link below for some tips for accomplishing that task.


https://caregiverdave.com/a-caregiver-guide-to-communicate-with-aging-parents-about-their-health/?utm_source=Caregiver+Dave&utm_campaign=18ec6bcff4-Weekly+Newsletter+-+01.03.2021&utm_med



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."


Saturday, March 20, 2021

Joy or Despair?



Our attitude when we go through difficult times can influence whether we approach those times with joy or despair,  When I was going through cancer and care-giving for my first husband at the same time some years ago, I read the following in a devotional:  "Cancer is the little "c."  Christ is the big "C." I could also have said, "Care-giving for a terminal and constantly declining husband is the little "c."  Christ is the big "C."

I think we can apply that to anything in our life.  Grief is the little "g," while God is the big G."  Loneliness is the little "l," while our loving Lord is the big "L." Political unrest is the little "p."  Powerfulness of the living God is the big "P."  An unstable family member is the little "u."  The unchanging nature of God is the big "U."  Tests or trials of any kind are the little "t," while our Triune God-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-is the big "T."  Can you think of any other trial in your life or in someone else's life who is dear to you to which you could apply this?

Someday when Jesus returns, all trials and hardships will be over.  Revelation 21:4 says, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  What a blessed promise and hope!  

Meanwhile I would like to share some words I have in a picture frame on my computer desk.  This is what is says, "I want to be in love with Jesus to the point of complete contentment, to serve Him with joy in every aspect of life.  I want to live with an anticipation of the joy to come when there is no more suffering, no more loss, no more heartache."

Below is a link to David Phelps singing, "No More Night."  May you find the song to be a blessing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iPIi7sunEU



Saturday, March 13, 2021

Eternity Talk Revisted



In the last blog post, we talked about death and eternity.  In that post I talked about the death of my own Mom four years ago.  My husband, Bob, and I also experienced the death of our first spouses.  We grieve the loss of loved ones.  Yet for the true child of God, death is only a gateway into the presence of God and a life free from crying, sadness, and pain.  Revelation 21 in the Bible talks about this.  

To experience the wonder of Eternity ahead, we need to be in a relationship with the Lord now, however.  Easter is coming up in a few weeks when we remember Jesus' death to pay for our sins and His resurrection.  To really experience His forgiveness and a sweet personal relationship with Him now and throughout Eternity, we need to turn from our own ways, ask for forgiveness, and walk with Him. 

Such a relationship with the Lord is not always easy.  We still face heartaches and trials.  Bob and I faced that, as we saw our first spouses deteriorate physically step by step before our eyes.  We sometimes still face heartaches, as we see loved ones struggle and in our own struggles.  Yet the Lord promises us to always be with us step by step.  He promises never to leave us or forsake us.  

In this kind of relationship  with the Lord even hardships become a blessing, because they draw us closer to Him.  They make our relationship with Him sweeter and more precious.  We can find rest in Him.  In fact, rest is found nowhere else but in Him.  He is sufficient.  Psalm 36:8-9 says this of our blessings in a relationship with the Lord, "They feast on the abundance of Your house; You give them drink from Your river of delights.  For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light." 

Yet some day life on this earth will be finished.  Life on this earth is very brief.  For a child of God, Eternity is a wonderful thing.  My husband, Bob, often tells a story of his first wife.  When she learned she had a terminal illness, she said, "I am going to see Jesus!"  May this be all of our testimonies.


Monday, March 1, 2021

Four Years Ago and Eternity


This past Thursday on March fourth it was four years ago since my Mom passed away.  This was a few days after having suffered a severe stroke.  I was with my Mom the last few minutes of her life.  It was a sad but wonderful experience.  That day it felt like I was given the honor of ushering my Mom into Heaven.

A few days after my Mom's death four years ago I wrote about my experiences the day of her death and the days following in my weekly blog post.  In that blog post I  talked about eternity and also care-giving for a loved one.   Bear with me as I bring back today the words and sentiments of that blog post . Below is what I wrote four years ago.  It is addressed to family caregivers for whom this blog was originally started.  Yet I hope it a blessing to others as well :


"My Mom passed into eternity a few days ago on Saturday, March 4.  One might think this has nothing to do with family caregivers.  Yet really all of life is about eternity.  This life is merely a preparation for eternity. All the struggles the loved one for whom you are caring is enduring and all the struggles you also endure will be nothing when you begin experiencing the glories of Eternity some day.  In that future day you will experience these glories which are beyond our ability to fully comprehend now, if you are the Lord's child. Therefore II Corinthians 4:18 reminds us to fix our eyes on the Lord and on what is yet unseen and not on the temporary and on what our eyes can see now.

Will you then indulge me, as I share a little of my experiences of these recent past days?  As of Thursday I am home again in WI back from my trip to MN.  I was physically and emotionally tired upon arriving home and still am in many ways.  Yet my experiences while away from home though sad were also rich and sweet. Saturday morning, March 4, I was the only one of my siblings with my Mom at the moment.  I had the privilege of talking to my Mom, singing songs to her, and reading Scripture to her.  There was no outward response, but I believe she heard me.  Very shortly after she passed into Glory.  I marvel at God's timing in this in so many ways.  I will always consider it a special gift.

Visitation night on the following Tuesday and the funeral day on Wednesday were also special moments.  There were moments of weeping, shared hugs, and shared memories.  We were also reminded not only of the fact that my Mom is with the Lord, but we were reminded of our shared precious faith and Godly heritage that we have in my family.

My Mom was a caregiver for my Dad for a few years in the same way as I was a caregiver for my husband, Wayne.  We both had to rely on the Lord during those years.  We both had to release our husbands to Eternity at a certain point.  I lived five hundred miles away from my Mom; so I was not able to be directly involved with her care-giving in the same "hands-on" way, as I had for my husband. Yet I am thankful that I may have been her caregiver in those last moments of her life. 

When I spoke to my Mom I reminded her of Eternity and the glories of eternity just ahead.  I encourage you to do that for yourself and for your loved one as well, dear caregiver.  Whether death is imminent for your loved one or not, life on this earth is so short.  Concentrate on Eternity, as you walk your life with purpose, dear caregiver!"

 



 

 


Saturday, February 27, 2021

The Next Chapter For You




This blog was started to encourage family caregivers.  I began this blog after caring for my first husband, Wayne, for four and a half years.  After many happy years together with my first husband, the last few years were difficult.  Wayne became more and more disabled due to a rare neurological disease called Multiple Systems Atrophy.  He was totally dependent on me in the end and passed on January 2, 2011.  Yet I loved him to the end.

One never forgets those whom we have loved.  There is a sense in which one always grieves their loss.  Yet through slow healing one can and must find new joy and purpose again in life.  If you are a widow, this can happen by remaining single.  A widow or widower often has time to pursue wonderful volunteer activities and services to others that she or he did not have time to do in their married life.  

It also may mean remarriage and finding love again.  Remarriage does not mean forgetting or not occasionally grieving one's first love.  How could we do that even if we tried?  Remarriage is just one way to move on to God's next chapter for us.  In the same way as one loves more than one child in one's family, so it is possible to love and marry again.  

Below is  a link you might find helpful explaining that concept.  I hope you find it a blessing as I did:


If you are a former caregiver who has lost the love of your life, take time to heal.   Yet work toward healing and joy again.  This may mean living as a single person the rest of your life.  It also could mean remarriage.  Second marriages have their own challenges, as does living as a single the rest of your life.  Yet be open to God's leading and next chapter for you.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

A Tribute to Caregivers

 "More than 65 million Americans volunteer to care for a disabled, chronically ill, or aging loved one.  They are known as 'caregivers.'"  There are also many more caregivers throughout the world.  Thank you for all that you do, dear caregiver.  Below is a link to a song which pays tribute and thanks to caregivers all over.  If you are a caregiver may you be blessed by this song.  

The song was written by Peter Rosenberger who cares for his wife Gracie.  Over 30 years ago when only seventeen years old Gracie was involved in a terrible car accident.  She suffered over 200 fractures and eventually both of her legs had to be amputated.  She still feels a significant amount of chronic pain, but her husband is her faithful caregiver.  Thank you, Peter, for all you do, and thank you all caregivers for all you do for your loved ones.  

Below the first link is yet another link to a Facebook news clip of a man's loving care for his wife in a nursing home,  I hope you will be inspired by that as well.  Thank you, Lord, for loving and faithful caregivers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeUA0JBTBH8

https://www.facebook.com/KARK4/videos/10154028845894113


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Jesus, Our Divine Valentine

Valentine's Day is considered a day for lovers to express their love for each other with cards, and perhaps candy, flowers, or jewelry.  For some people, however, it can be a day of sadness because of past losses or current trials.

During those moments of sadness remember that the Lord loves you with an infinite love.  He in effect is your Divine Valentine.  He is sufficient.  He alone can give you all that you need.  People may fail you at times, but the Lord never will fail you.  

Below is a poem called Your Divine Valentine.  This poem became very special to me especially when I was a widow.  I still love this poem.  I especially love Jesus being referred as the Rose of Sharon in the Song of Solomon reference, because Sharon is my first name.  (Be sure to check out this verse and all the verses for that matter.)  Sharon is the name of a place and not the name of a person in the Bible, but I still love this verse.  I hope you find the poem and accompanying Bible references a blessing.    


Your Divine Valentine

A Valentine may play a love song for you, but God sings you the sweetest love song in the universe.  (Zephaniah 3:17)

A Valentine may give you flowers, but God sent you the most beautiful rose of all, Jesus.
(Song of Solomon 2:1)

A Valentine may bring you chocolate, but God provides you with something even sweeter, His Word.  (Psalm 119:103)

A Valentine may love you for a lifetime, but God loved you before you were born and will love you for all eternity,
(Jeremiah 31:3)

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Trusting and Waiting on Him




I usually use about four different devotional books in my morning devotions.  I am often amazed how they all fit together with a single message.  It is amazing how God speaks to us this way.  Today I am going to take some Scripture passages that I read the morning I penned this blog post, and just let them speak to you.  So sit back and let God's Word flow over you.  Also please excuse the paraphrasing that I also include.

In Psalm 13:1 the psalmist asks "How long, O LORD?"  Sometimes when going through overwhelming situations and circumstances it is difficult to wait on the Lord.  Yet waiting on the Lord and on His timing is necessary.  It builds up our faith in Him.  God's provision is always coming even though not always in the way we think it will come.  

When God's provision does come we will have reason to rejoice.  Psalm 13:5-6 says, "But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord for He has been good to me."  Another translation translates it this way, "I've thrown myself headlong into Your arms.  I'm celebrating Your rescue.  I am singing at the top of my lungs.  I am so full of answered prayers."

I Peter 5: 8-9 says, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.  Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist Him, standing firm in the faith,----And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To Him be the power for ever and ever.  Amen. "  Satan wants us to give into anxiety and fretting.  God want us to trust Him, His timing, and His working in our lives.

Another beautiful passage I read the morning I penned this post was Philippians 4:19.  It says, "And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  My God-my Savior, Lord, and friend will meet all your needs.  He will supply all your needs (not necessarily all your wants, because we do not always know what is best for us.)  Knowing that God provides all our needs should give us a sense of security and make us stand in awe of His faithfulness.  His supply of our needs is limitless, because it comes from the glorious riches in Christ Jesus!  

Let's rejoice today in His provision in His perfect timing.  Let's wait with patience and trust in Him when life becomes difficult.  Let's thank Him for His goodness.    



Saturday, January 30, 2021

Never Stop Praying



Like reading God's Word, prayer is so essential to managing life's difficulties.  In fact, the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing.  What does that mean?  It is important to have special times of prayer every day, but praying without ceasing means living in a spirit of prayer all day long while engaging in our daily activities.  It means we are aware of the Lord's presence throughout the day, and it is an undercurrent which is influencing all our thoughts and actions.  Prayer is sensing and breathing the Holy Spirit's presence and breathing His life in all that we do.  

Below is a link to an article online about prayer.  I posted this same link about a year ago as well.  I thought is was appropriate to post this link again after the blog post last week about the Psalms and reading God's Word  The article dives into the subject of praying without ceasing.  Although a bit long the article is well worth reading.

Here is a quote from that article to wet your appetite for reading it:  "If prayer is merely an activity to do, then 'pray without ceasing' will sound oppressive.  But if prayer is communion with God-communion with this Father, Son, and Spirit-then we will hear the command differently; 'Enjoy God without ceasing.  Gain strength from God without ceasing.  And find that He is ever near, always faithful'"



https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/dont-ever-stop-praying?fbclid=IwAR0Iym_907EwgtcM5PfzAI381d2A3tgbRcDXnzgvhUI3-0GrGAai58-rqiU

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Beauty of the Psalms




We are already in the last full week of January in the year 2021.  If you have not yet made reading the book of Psalms part of your devotions, I would suggest you do that very thing.  I have read the book of Psalms several times the last years-usually following a schedule of taking a whole year to read through them..

The book of Psalms begins with a exhortation to meditate on and love God's Word.  It tells us that happy and blessed is the person who does this.  The last few Psalms and many of the Psalms in between are filled with praise for the Lord.  In between Psalm one and the last Psalm, Psalm 150, is every imaginable circumstance and situation we might experience in our walk through life.  These could include trials, difficult losses, sickness, betrayals, and confusion, but also hope, joys, purpose, peace, and God's precious promises.  The Psalms depict a whole spectrum of life experiences both difficult and joyful.  They also depict God's faithfulness through every step we take in this world.

The Psalms are meant to be prayed, recited, and even sung.  Although it is an Old Testament book of the Bible, no other book of the Bible can compare to it as a basis for daily prayer.  The New Testament explains and expands on the knowledge we have of our wonderful redemption in Jesus.  Yet the book of Psalms has a unique way of processing every possible situation we may face by the truth of God.  Having said this, some of the situations the Psalmists talk about, lament, or pray about have a historical setting.  Hence, it may be best to have a study Bible explaining the historical context, or use a good devotional on the Psalms alongside your personal reading of the Psalms.  

When we walk by faith, depend on God through difficult and joyful experiences, and use His Word as our guide; we end up praising Him.  Psalm 150:6 says, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord."  This is because we see how God has blessed us in good times and has helped us grow in our character and in  becoming the people He wants us to be in difficult times.  So in good times or difficult times, God deserves to be praised.  He knows what He is doing in allowing the things He allows,  and He is always faithful in what He does.

The Psalms and all of God's Word helps us to see this.  It reminds us of God's love, faithfulness, and wisdom.  Meditating on God's Word is our Anchor in time of need, and is the secret to a sweet relationship with Him.  It is like spiritual living water that nourishes and never dries up.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Things Too Wonderful for me


Psalm 131 is a beautiful Psalm in the Bible which speaks of humbly trusting in the Lord.  So often we try to figure out and manage life and it's struggles on our own.  We employ and seek out our own devices and solutions to try to solve life's problems and trials.  If we do pray to God for answers, we sometimes ask God to solve our problems and heartaches the way we think is best.

Instead, in Psalm 131 the psalmist says, "I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me."  We can't understand God's ways.  We can not fully understand what He has in mind in the issues and trials of life, but He is so much wiser than us.  We can rest in His wisdom.  The psalmist goes on to say, "But I have stilled and quieted my soul."

The psalmist has stilled and quieted his soul "like a weaned child with His mother."  He is content to just be in and enjoy the presence of the Lord.  An unweaned child wants something from the mother.  The child wants the mother's milk.  The weaned child only wants and desires to be in the presence and company of his mom.  He is not looking for what the mother can give him, but he just finds solace and comfort and joy in who the mom is as a person.

So it is with God.  We can find joy in His presence alone and in who He is as our loving and faithful God.  Psalm 131 tell us, "We can find "hope in the Lord both now and forevermore."