Laments are Exercises in Faith

I dashed in the door from the cool, gently falling rain, grabbing a bright, crisp apple from the fruit bowl, savoring the aroma of brewing coffee, as I eagerly anticipated getting comfy in my jammies and fluffy slippers. These are comforts of a warm and inviting home, yet I was unable to curl up on my sofa in front of the fireplace in my house. I was making my home in a hotel for the next few weeks.

Over my 44-year marriage, my then husband, Charles and I often had to make our “home away from home” in hotels during his numerous career relocations and premature sales of our houses. As we snuggled together on a sofa, viewing movies on our hotel television and dining on carry out dinners, we both knew we had joyful adventures awaiting us; a new job, a new environment and always a new home.

My life as a single has been filled with challenges and dilemmas. Now, I am displaced from my home; alone and due to a careless moving company.  In all my situations I always have to realize, “God  is in the details.” As with the many other challenges over these past seven years, I can say “thank you God” for the blessings of this.

My insurance company has been accommodating on the move from my home and the stay in the hotel. Even though at the beginning of this adventure, I feel optimistic when this troublesome element of my life’s story is history, there will be a benefit.

My heart was warmed yesterday as I visited with one of our church staff about the possibilities of beginning a new ministry in our church. Tearfully, I re-lived the circumstances which caused me to be conversing with her.  We discussed the circumstances of my life, including my current temporary home. For if life had not placed me on this  path, even the “hotel home” would not be a chapter of my story.

I told her of the frequent criticism about moving forward. She reassured me God doesn’t  expect me to heal overnight. Our conversation was another gift, as she listened with her heart, as well as her ears. She reminded me learning last year of the rationale for the loss of a 44-year marriage is a cause to lament.

Christina Fox cites in her on-line article, “the laments in scripture do more than just voice painful emotions. The psalms of lament, in particular, go further than just releasing pent-up emotions. They are more than mere catharsis. Within themselves, these psalms are a theology, a doxology, a form of worship. They are reminders of truth. They are exercises in faith…”

The next time I begin discussing the path my life has taken over these last seven years, I can proudly shed my tears.  Lamentations 1:2 NKJ, “she weeps bitterly in the night, her tears are on her cheeks…”

Anger is a Gift

As I was driving home from Casa Court today, I was listening to an interesting segment on the radio about the positive aspects of anger.  All of us have heard someone say to us, “why are you angry?”  or tell us, “well don’t get angry”, when that emotion was not in our mind nor was it what we were feeling. Did you then say to that person, “well I wasn’t angry until you said that?”

As the psychologists proclaimed the positive aspects of anger, I was reminded of being in counseling years ago and stating to my Christian counselor that I just couldn’t be angry. Seriously he queried, “why?”.  I stated my concern, “if I’m angry it will hurt my Christian testimony.” He reminded me anger is a God-given emotion and it’s how we handle that emotion which causes our problems.

As I listened today on the positive traits of anger, I compared those to situations in my life. The psychologists noted anger is calming. We might chuckle at that, as it’s seldom I see a truly angry person acting calmly.  Anger helps you cope with the stress and tension, which may leave you feeling calmer. Anger as an energizing trait parallels this philosophy of bringing a calm to our hearts and lives.

The specific trait discussed today was the effects on anger for leaders.  Anger gives us a sense of control, helping us to feel in charge, rather than helpless. How often have you used anger to command your requests? You pleaded nicely with your children to do something and after countless times of asking, you then became angry and demanded.

Psychologists have noted most often anger stems from hurt. Thus, we are hurt and over time we may become angry about the situation which brought us this pain. This is especially true when dealing with those we love and rejection from them.

Recently, after a person queried me in depth about some of my interests and volunteer work, I casually commented, “my Dad beat me as a child and now I’m a Casa (Court Appointed Special Advocate) to be there for children that have no voice.” I had no thoughts of anger when the comment was made. It was a statement of my rationale in volunteering as a Casa. Thoughts from my childhood and the realization there was no one to intervene on my behalf when I was being so violently abused, caused me to do something positive.

The emotions God gives us are gifts. If we use them in a positive manner, they can achieve remarkable results. Those emotions thrust upon others in a negative way negate the blessings we can give. NKJ, Ephesians 4:26, Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”

 

 

 

 

Just A Hug!

Have you ever had a spouse, family member or friend that has asked you for something which they needed, but you didn’t wish to give it? Perhaps it was just a few minutes of your time or even something as unassuming as a hug. Yet your desires were far greater than the need of the other whom you claimed to love or care about.

As I was multi-tasking, I was viewing a television program which was “packed” with reminders that far too often we are too selfish. Due to the circumstances and heartaches of my life, I’ve attempted to always “hear” when others express a need. I’ve dropped what I’ve been doing to talk to those that needed a listening ear or a shoulder to cry upon. I’ve prepared food for someone that was ill or grieving the death of a loved one. I’ve shared my time with someone that felt hopeless. Yet, even when I have tried to heed those calls from God to give back to others, I’m sure I’ve missed some opportunities along the way.

As the program noted about giving of ourselves, it portrayed the emotions of rejection when two young lovers had different desires in sharing emotions and physical touch.  When I feel as though I’m with the persons in the written word or the actors on the screen, my emotions are with them.

When the young man was told his desire to not hold his “loves” hand would cause her sorrow every time she was with him, my mind raced to the countless times I stood before the man I had loved; my then husband, Charles. I pleaded with him time and again during our 44-year marriage to just hold me; to hug me. Time and again he would look at me and blatantly say, “no.” Like the actress, my reality was that for most of our marriage, my heart was filled with sorrow every time I asked for his touch and was rejected.

In the same story, the lesson of “being there” for the other was instilled. There was much in such a short expanse of time. When a husband opted to walk away from his hurting wife, the doctor asked him “why if he had been there for all those years, was he leaving now? Why was he leaving her then, when she needed him the most?” How often I have asked this question.

Recently I read this quote and realize even though simple in thought, it’s poignant in deed, “if someone seriously wants to be a part of your life, they will seriously make an effort to be in it. No reasons. No excuses. Author unknown.”  Having someone asking to share their life and/or emotions should be a compliment. They value you as “someone” to them.  Galatians 6:2 NKJ, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

God’s Tarmac

Have you ever had those times in your life when it seems you were bombarded with the same information? If you were praying about something, did you feel this was God’s way of validating He heard you, or do you feel it was merely “happenstance?” Each of us perceive such circumstances in our own way.

For me personally, such times are an authentication that God heard me. Certainly, the messages, devotions, songs, etc. were not spoken nor written for me, but I choose to receive them as gifts that God knows my heart. I thank many of you whom are faithful readers of my blog and have heard “my tears” from my heartaches. You often send words of encouragement and/or even post wonderful reminders on Facebook that you are praying for and with me.

Again, last Sunday, the pastor’s message was on “waiting.” I’ve shared this in my post several times as waiting can seem like an eternity. As children we wait to “grow up” so we can be our “boss.” Then we wait to graduate from college and begin a career. We wait to find the “one” to spend our life with. We wait to purchase a home and begin a family.

If we stop to analyze our lives, it seems it is one gigantic “wait.” However, for most of us the most difficult time to be in a “holding pattern” is when God has us on His tarmac. We can’t move! We are just waiting for the signal to “take off.” How we all dread sitting in the plane waiting. Then with all the regulations that you can’t do this or that, it often feels like you are losing valuable time. For these past seven years, I’ve felt as though I was sitting on the runway, losing valuable time. Time to get on with my life, time to move from my house I can’t sell, time that I don’t have friends I have prayed for. The list goes on and on. God is at the controls. He has said “no, you can’t leave yet.”

I know someday God will take say, “you can take off now.” I have also accepted it may never be while on this earth. Yet, if I don’t keep the faith that God will take me out of this difficult time, then I would lose all hope. My faith is what has enabled me to keep on the path.

Even the message a week ago reminded us God never reveals His plan until it will glorify Him.  I know this is the reason many of us are on God’s tarmac.  We can’t change it. No amount of whining or complaining will remove us even one second earlier.  While I’m waiting and diligently praying, thank you to each of you for your kind words and reminders there is truly a purpose in all of this.  Psalm 27:14 NKJ, “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord.”

Driveway Moments

Bright orange pumpkins, crimson red apples, delicate falling leaves, smoke gently billowing from chimneys and cups of hot cider are all reminders of my favorite season of the year; fall. For many years during my 44-year marriage, it was not only my favored time of the year, but as summer ended and autumn began, I knew my then husband, Charles and I would enjoy some time together.

When our children lived at home Charles didn’t permit annual, family, vacations.  However, when our nest was empty, I budgeted money from my income to plan yearly adventures. We preferred not only the brisk chill of the autumn air but savored the beauty of the changing colors of the vibrant trees. It was also a bonus to enjoy the beautiful sights without the bustle and crowds of summer tourists.

As we chose a destination to visit, for months prior to our departure, I delighted in being our travel agent and planner. As I eagerly presented my plans to Charles for his approval, the anticipation of the trip became one of my highlights of the year. Quaint inns and cottages, “off the main path” dining and points of interest were some of my greatest treasures in my memory journal.

Along these paths, pieces of artwork, pottery, lamps and countless other items graced our home as mementos from our journeys. Recently as I placed one of these collected “memories” outdoors for others to enjoy, a neighbor queried me about the location of the purchase.

Even though almost 20 years ago, my heart pounded and my eyes filled with tears, as I so intensely recall the moment of that purchase and the memories of that trip. As with most of the excursions, the routine and stress of our daily lives was laid aside. Never do I walk by one of these keepsakes from those trips without a twinge of sadness in my heart.

Our trips were never finalized until I had made a visit to our local library for a stack of audio books. Whether traveling in our personal car or a rental, I recall countless hours that Charles and I had “driveway moments” while confined to the author’s words. More than one trip was not concluded until we returned home, sitting in a silent house captivated by the conclusion of the book which had drawn us into its’ presence.

Our personal goal had been to visit all 50 U.S. states during our marriage and then return to those destinations we esteemed. We did return to some of our favorite spots during the last few years of our marriage, but never completed visiting all 50 states.  Our lives changed when Charles began a new life with a new love. Nonetheless, even though he now travels with another, those trips will remain some of my most cherished recollections. James 1:17 NIV, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Over the Top and Down the Street-Part Two

I will now continue my saga with the “raging moped.” After some time in the hospital emergency room, we departed, and I pleaded to continue our plans.  Additionally, a cherished necklace from Charles was destroyed in the accident. I returned to the scene to try and find the missing pieces, but the damage to the necklace was too extensive to retrieve.

That moment with my dear son is one which I wish I could have encapsulated and kept with me for the duration of my life. Never, had he possessed such empathy for me, as during that accident. Chris continued to plead with me to return to our cabin rental, but the time with him was incredibly priceless and I didn’t wish to be a deterrent to our plans

I continued to be “in a fog” from all that had occurred in such a short expanse of time, but my greatest anxiety was to continue our family outing. It wasn’t until we arrived at the restaurant and placed our order that for the first time in the past several hours, I realized the impact of my accident. As I walked into the ladies’ room, I was astounded. When I flew over the handlebars of the scooter, my face was dragged along the pavement. From the top of my forehead to the bottom of my chin, I had incredible asphalt burns and abrasions. My face literally appeared to have been assaulted with a meat tenderizer tool.

My hair was bloodied, as the emergency room staff didn’t clean my hair. My shirt had been torn and my chest had also been injured, as well as my legs, and arms. The emergency room physician had given me pain medication. Therefore, I was unaware of the degree of my wounds. I looked horrific. As I returned to the dining table, I apologized fervently to Charles and Chris for urging us to proceed with our plans.

My precious son was filled with compassion. He had been more concerned about how I felt than how I looked. I feel certain there was much embarrassment about me, but I was too “out of touch” at the time to have realized that. I was determined not to allow my accident to modify our family time.

The following day the plans did change. I attempted to play golf with Chris, but the pain was too intense to continue. We returned home early from our pre-college retreat and  my emotional grief was truthfully equal to or greater than my physical pain. I didn’t want our memories ruined by an accident. Little did I know that now over 27 years later, the recollections were indeed altered.

However, for me, the memories of that time are some of the fondest of our son’s childhood; not from the accident, but from the fact Chris had such concern for me. Also, he was a part of my life and that is a gift which no amount of money can ever purchase. Psalm 121:7 NIV, “The Lord will keep you from all harm-he will watch over your life…”

Over The Top and Down the Street- Part One

As I viewed a news segment on the plethora of electric scooters throughout many cities, I possessed a warmhearted reminiscence of a moped scooter years ago. I was going on a late summer retreat with the two favorite men in my life; my then husband, Charles and son, Christopher.  Chris would be leaving home for college in a matter of days and we wanted one last “get away” as a memory of our time with him.

There would be great dining, golf and an outing to Eureka Springs with its’ rolling and picturesque terrain, but paramount was the time we would spend together. Shortly after our arrival to Eureka Springs, we spotted an opportunity to rent mopeds and enjoy the challenge of the numerous, hilly streets. All three of us thought, “why not?” It sounded like fun. Certainly, this would be a new adventure.

As we topped a hill and headed down an arduous  decline, the brakes on my scooter failed. I was racing out of control and literally heading toward a steep embankment which could have resulted in a fatal or very serious accident. God was with me. His loving hands were with a family driving a van up the same precipitous hill, as I was racing down. The driver saw me falling headfirst over the scooter, while it careened out of control down the embankment.

Charles and Chris were bolting behind me, but the van driver squandered no time in stopping his van and running to my aid. I argued with him that I would be fine, unaware of the seriousness of my injuries.  As Charles and Chris arrived at the van, the driver cited he was rushing me to the hospital and he would meet them there.

What an angel that driver was!  Enroute to the hospital with him, his wife and their two young children, I learned the family had recently moved to the area and one of the first things he had done was sell his large, rugged Harley Davidson due to the fact the treacherous hills were unsafe.  He cited his frustration with the moped rental shop, as he realized most of the renters were identical to our family; inexperienced riders on dangerous thoroughfares.

Not only was that man whose name I forgot years ago, the angel that rescued me and drove me to the hospital, but returned to the moped shop with Charles to plead our case for damages to the scooter which was lying at the bottom of an embankment, absent it’s passenger. If not for God, had I not been thrown off the scooter, I would have been alongside it as its’ partner.

As both the “angel” and Charles proclaimed to the shop owner when he was charging us for destruction of his scooter, next time it might be much worse than a hospital visit, especially given the fact the brakes had failed. No charges were brought against any of the parties. A realization of what “could have been” sufficed for the shop owner, as well as our little family.

TO BE CONTINUED:  I Thess. 5:18 NKJ “ In everything give thanks…”I certainly was grateful then God had spared my life.