Healing – Part 5

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In line at the grocery store a young mom started setting items aside she could not pay for–

bananas, apples, and other veggies.  I handed the money to the cashier and she, with her many lovely long braids, and her sweet children were on their way.

I’ll never see this family again, but I assured her it was from God and He loves her.

Standing in line at the gas station one of our coaches from the high school was checking out.  It was less than $10.00 but it gave me the opportunity to thank him for all he does for the young people in our community and a simple God Bless you.

You are reading this and thinking I don’t have any extra.

Save a quarter a week till you have a dollar and give it away and bless another.

Perhaps one of my biggest adjustments to having an empty nest is the grocery store, mine is HEB.  Feeling blue grocery shopping alone one Saturday, two teen girls stood in front of me at the checkout counter with a giant bottle of chocolate syrup. The only thing I said as I slipped several dollars to the cashier on their behalf was “God Bless you” to the two smiling young faces. It ended up being on sale and just one dollar, but it was my small way of demonstrating God’s love toward others, and God lifted my spirits as I gave just a little away, my unexpected blessing from Him.

A young mom from our neighborhood texted me to see if she could pick up some food for her three small children from our churches pantry. I could not get there, but the owner of the preschool was there to help, and helped her carry the groceries to her car where she quietly handed the young mom an envelope with extra cash.  That mom called me later to say how she could not believe how God had met her need so quickly.  Sometimes our random acts of kindness are really divine appointments– God’s way of letting others know they are loved and not forgotten.

Feeling Sad?

Be the hand of God.

 

Healing – Part 4

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Yesterday I fell off my bike carrying too much on the way home from our mailbox. It was a pretty hard fall, contents of my basket flying everywhere, and blood dripping from scrapes on my wrist and leg as I rode home.

Photo by Trish Southard

Photo by Trish Southard

Share your load with others.

Todd would have been glad to swing by our box and pick up some of the bigger items on his way home from work.

Our family lost three loved ones in four years.

Multiple loved ones passing away or one is too much of a burden for anyone to bear alone.

Grief Group helped me lift my heavy heart.

Surrounded by people who have suffered the loss of a loved one, and a leader, the group gently persuades you to share your imperfect memories, portraits,  all while putting you at ease.

Our leader had us write letters to our loved ones sharing that we wished they would have remained alive longer, our anger that they missed an important event, regrets, anger and how lonely we feel without them. We then read those letters at the cemetery or somewhere significant to the two of us. We then burned or buried the letters.

Somehow I felt lighter and more at ease with each letter.

In the Jewish faith when a loved one dies, they sit Shiva for seven days.

They stay home and allow others to listen to them, care for them, and bring them food.

When others are in pain, you will find yourself more compassionate and confident to walk through it with them.

Sit beside them quietly.

No advice needed.

When others are happy, be happy with them.

If they are sad, share their sorrow.

Romans 12:15 TLB

Healing – Part 3

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A Holly Hobby stitching gently nudged my thoughts as I passed it each day.

Whenever you’re blue

Find something to do

For somebody else

Who is sadder than you

 

Blood Moon   Photo by Colleen Lienhard

Blood Moon
Photo by Colleen Lienhard

 

Fill your friends’ and families’ darkness with God’s spectacular paint brush.

Stopping off in Columbia to see Uncle Tom and Aunt Grace is always a powerful time of prayer.  Celebrating their 51st wedding anniversary they are blessed by God. Grace stayed up till 1 am with me, and we prayed big and bold and color-filled blessings and prayers on everyone in our families.

Praying the Word of God over each one individually.

At the beach we sunned and swam every day, just the three of us, and occasionally Rick and Laura after work at Corolla Chapel.

I missed the family that had sat beside me the 27 previous years –with our Lord, or off to college, college bound and others spending their vacation elsewhere.

North Carolina was our state.  My husband born in Chapel Hill, our daughter’s summers here at her grandparents’ beach house and my summers for 27 years.

Refreshed by salt air and my family’s laughter and constant teasing, God comforted me.

Fresh sun, vivid oranges and blue streaked memories.

We played new games and visited different spots rediscovering the Outer Banks.

I checked out of email, FB, text and all the rest.

The spaciousness of the ocean and expansion of my time with my family turned my attention upward Praising God and lifting everyone, many of you who are deeply hurting in intercession to our Lord.  I am certain He is going to change your situation or your struggle.

Have faith and believe.

Look up and enjoy His favor and blessing.

 

 

 

Healing – Part 2

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Doing the uncomfortable continually all day.

Remove sorrow from your heart, and put away pain from your flesh, because youth and the prime of life are fleeting.  Ecclesiastes 11:10 HCSB

Pain away from your flesh.

It hurts my fingers when I pull a burr from Daisy’s paw.

It hurts horribly when I pull jumping cholla off our daughter’s leg.

Remove or change to unburden your sorrow.

Teddy Bear Cholla

Teddy Bear Cholla

Change who you are, what you do and where you go.

One practical takeaway from grief group was to add a hobby or something we enjoy into our lives.

Running 3-4 times a week  began in November 2013.

I set my clothes out the night before and the decision is already made. Running has been an effective method to jump-start my morning and waken my mind to prayer and the study of God’s Word.

An almost new habit for me after a 25 year break from running.

I’ve stayed physically active biking, hiking, an occasional canoe trip on the river, and I really enjoy the stair climber at the gym.

Running forced me outside into the sunrise, singing birds and it was very uncomfortable.

The doing of the continually uncomfortable was the key to my healing.

 

Healing – Part 1

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Healing is like a flower blossom each petal needs to open in its own time.”

Anonymous

My healing came through blessing others.

How could I change and be a little miracle to others, like Peg did all the time.

Peg knew everyone’s birthday.

She probably knew her mail lady’s birthday.

A simple step, but it would mean writing down birthdays.

For me,  that often means a visit to my favorite florist, Lisa.

I love to hear her say, “So who is it for today!”

She listens and creates a visible expression of the friend I’m celebrating.

A single rose or wildflowers with a ribbon when someone doesn’t expect it.    IMG_5228 Showing the grandeur of God’s beauty and His expansive love through flowers.

Healing happens very slowly as the petals unfold.

I lift you into the prayer below.

Jesus loves you so much.

You are His beautiful masterpiece created in the image of Almighty God.

Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think- according to the power that works in you- to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen

Ephesians 3:20,21

 

Anonymous Quote from a recent interview on the Today Show with Sara Connell author of “Bringing In Finn” and inspiration for the upcoming movie “Return to Zero” starring Minnie Driver

Sara Connell author of Bringing in Finn

A Quiet Place With God – Part 12

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Sweeping
All over the world  women will pick up brooms to sweep crumbs from the kitchen, the front porch, the dining room and our entry’s, even though its Mothers Day.

Starter from Aunt Grace  Columbia, SC  in 2012

Starter from Aunt Grace
Columbia, SC in 2012

Seconds ago I relocated a large spider hanging out below my Christmas Cactus with my broom.

We all sweep.

Sweeping is a quiet place for me.

I visit with God about the messes moving about in my head and He sweeps them out.

When we  confess a struggle we have and your friend or friends come along side you, lifting you to the Lord, God sweeps you clean with His grace, His forgiveness.

He fills you with His strength.

He removes the cobwebs and the spiders.

Words That Heal – Part 12

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“What was healing to hear when your sister passed?” a good friend asked me recently.  Her son had just died tragically, her soul laid bare.  She knew I had lost a sister to cancer two years ago, and she was searching for hope and comfort.

For me, my deep sorrow had transitioned more into wondering about her in heaven in a positive way, than in my earliest months in a sea of sorrow.  Tears no longer rush uncontrollably to the forefront and stream down my face at every thought.   Grief is a journey, a very slow process of healing where the white water rapids eventually yield over time to  less swift currents that carry us to more peaceful and living waters.  It would be the same for her, and in her own unique way.  Everyone goes through the journey.

Without words, I just held her close.

Peg, my sister,  loved birds of all kinds, and every time I see a cardinal sit and eat the corn at my squirrel feeder,  I think of her and its as if we laugh together.

Cardinal by Kelly Bryant

Cardinal by Kelly Bryant Photography

She was St. Francis to the birds and squirrels who came to her bird feeder each and every day.   When she passed, my friend Heather Reimann said it best,

” I see how upset you are, do you want to talk about it?”

Heather was and remains a faithful and healing presence in my life.

We drank fresh strawberry smoothies and swam.

Tears turned to laughter.

Thirteen words were healing to me.

 

 

 

Cardinal by Kelly Bryant      fineartamerica.com/profiles/kelly-bryant.html

 

 

 

The Suffering of Jesus by Lee Southard

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The Suffering of Jesus
As Christians at Easter we rejoice in the fact of a risen Lord.

We easily do that and it makes us feel good. But do we realize the true price paid in understandable human terms to get to that resurrection?
I sit here on Good Friday with a little discomfort due to an illness I have and the therapy I am receiving.

I cannot go out much or too far.

That’s good because it gives me time to deeply contemplate the sufferings of Jesus prior to his death, which on a scale of 1 to 10, mine is a 0.002 and his was 10 plus.

Because of His extreme suffering His death would have seemed like a welcome event for Him.

Based on some knowledge I have of His sufferings a little research adds to the knowledge base but most importantly helps connect me with his sufferings.

When I realize the agony of His sufferings and understand that he endured for me the unfathomable pain it is as the song How Great Thou Art puts it “I scarcely can take it in that on that cross He bled and died for me”.

My soul groans with the agony of it. It brings to reality the love He has and God has for me and you.

Contemplate on this as you read the following.

We know Jesus while God in Spirit was every bit as human as you and I.

So picture yourself or a loved one going through what He went through in the following narrative taken from expert medical sources.
Before the cross Jesus began a process of psychological suffering. It started with betrayal by one of His disciples who had been with Him for His three years of ministry of teaching and healings. From there he was abandoned by more of his friends as went to pray in Gethsemane and assure His father that the father’s will would be done.

He agonized over what was before Him. This agony was in the form of extreme stress because He knew His death and ultimate resurrection was to be preceded by the most awful and cruelty man could inflict upon another. Imagine yourself in the same situation.
Psychological stress is known medically to lead to a condition called hematidrosis, a condition where severe stress causes chemicals to be released that can break down the capillaries in the sweat glands whereby blood is secreted through the sweat glands. The Bible reports He sweated blood. It is also reported that hematidrosis also leads to a heightened skin sensitivity. This is important as we consider later sufferings.
Jesus was brought before religious and ultimately Roman authorities in the middle of the night who had but one agenda to see him tried and condemned to death. It was not a fair trial and not done according to Jewish law and conducted by His own people he came to save.

The experience was a humiliating to Him and in spite of an appeal to the ultimate Roman authority who found no fault with him he was sentenced to be crucified as a politically expedient measure.
Roman floggings were extremely brutal and done by trained executioners whose sole purpose was to create so much pre cross trauma on the one to be crucified that crucifixion would lead to a more rapid death, which it did. Floggings were usually thirty nine lashes (Jewish law allowed 40) with a flagrum, a cat of nine tails, imbedded with metal balls and sharp bone were considered standard and would rip and tear tissue to the point where often the internal organs would be exposed. The whippings (or rippings) would have covered to neck, shoulders, back, buttocks and legs. The strands of the flagrum would wrap around the back and legs and when pulled back suddenly would rip and tear tissue deeply. Veins and muscle would be torn into bloody strands and the pain unimaginable for us.

Once it was determined that the sufferer was near death the beatings would be halted. Eusebius, a third century historian described flogging as “The sufferers veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.” The term excruciating comes from this experience. Excuciating means “out of the cross”. Many did not survive the beating.
After the flogging and being at a point just before death Jesus must now carry His own cross to Golgatha where He will be crucified. Jesus carried the cross member that makes the cross. This wooden member weighed from 75 to 125 pounds and would be difficult for a healthy man to carry. But Jesus had been flogged to near death and yet he carried this cross through the streets of Jerusalem while being mocked and spit on by a crowd. (I have to digress here and say Jesus had to have been physically fit man before He began his ordeal where He was able to lift that cross and begin the walk. Anyone who says being like Jesus is not manly doesn’t know what they are talking about.) He stumbles and falls and a man from Cyrene (Libya) takes the cross the remaining distance to Golgotha where Jesus is crucified.
Already, near death and in excruciating pain Jesus is thrown upon the rough wooden cross where the open wounds in his back are against the rough wood. Then 5 to 7 inch spikes are nailed through His wrists and feet and the cross is pulled up and set down into a hole as Jesus’s whole weight is now supported only by the nailed feet and hands.

Excruciating pain!
There he hangs and begins a slow death by asphyxiation as the chest and diaphragm is in an inhaled position. To get air and to exhale he must push up with His nailed feet against excruciating pain. He must do this again and again each time scraping his raw back against the rough wood. During this process the ultimate abandonment occurs when Jesus asks God “Why have you forsaken me?” Jesus has been totally laid out for our sins. He has paid it all.
Finally exhaustion gives way to not being able to push up and breath and respiratory acidosis takes over. Respiratory acidosis occurs when the carbon dioxide in the blood turns to carbonic acid causing the blood to become more acidic. This leads to an irregular heart rate and ultimate cardiac arrest. Concurrently with the acidosis Jesus and due to blood and fluid loss Jesus would be experiencing hypo-polemic shock and a rapid heart rate contributing to the heart failure. The result is a collection of fluid in the membrane around the heart and around the lungs called pericardial and pleural effusion respectively. When the Roman soldier thrust the spear into Jesus’s side to see if he was dead the spear passed through the lungs and maybe the heart to get a clear liquid. This was followed by blood as described by the apostle John in his gospel. This was a sign of death. There was no need to break His legs to speed up the process.
Jesus was dead. He has endured hours of suffering and excruciating pain. It was 3:00 PM on a Friday. It is now 3:00 Pm on this Friday, the 18th of April 2014 and I will stop only to say.
We take the death and resurrection of Jesus for granted perhaps.

We see people die during our lives and we can grasp it. We can understand somewhat that to lay down your life for friend as an example of love.

But it seems another level of love to knowingly suffer, to suffer excruciatingly, for another and then die.
I scarcely can take it in that on that cross He bled and suffered and died for me so that on believing on Him I too can be resurrected into eternal life.

It was God’s plan all along for you. What’s your response?Image

A Quiet Place With God- Part 11

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Outside my window tonight the rain is coming down sideways.

A night storm with a morning dove perched her nest.

Protecting her eggs

My stomach lurches.

IMG_5126

I’m involved.

Asking God to hold her steady.

Gazing any chance I can to see if she is at her post.

The challenges and opportunities our children face, develop the gleam in their eye.

A confident step.

They often have circumstances with wind and rain pelting sideways and days the clear blue sky smiles and kisses their lives.

They’ve had to struggle through many surprises and challenges, just like the baby doves will to fight out of the shell.

If we’ve done our job we’ve been close by at our post praying, encouraging, and standing guard, but breaking off that shell is their job.

The shell breaking and the flight that follows is all theirs.

A Quiet Place with God – Part 10

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Later, He appeared to the Eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table. He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who saw Him after He had been resurrected. Mark 16: 14 HCSB

Rebuke.

While hiking I was struck by the tree on the left and how lush and green and full of life.

The tree on the right was dead.

We grow and flourish as we listen to Gods word and take action to change when He convicts us and rebukes us with His Word.

Listen and receive the rebuke.

Most of our family has given up coffee, but I still make it for one.

As the coffee drinker woke late to find no coffee, I simply said “Wake five minutes early and make it yourself.”

 

God immediately rebuked me quietly in my heart and I made the coffee and ran it to my beloved coffee drinker and handed a to go cup through the window.

My day had begun in the Word and contemplation just an hour before, but I had chosen a harsh response.

Conviction comes as we clear our minds and focus on the Word

The Lord will give us the self-control and  Holy Spirit to do His will and be His vessel.
IMG_5122

The rebuke put me back onto His path.

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:6

IMG_5125Then He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.”

Mark 16:15 HCSB