My Journey to Joy

March 21, 2015

Joni on Suffering

Filed under: Notable Quotables — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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If anything impresses itself deep, deep into the wet clay of our souls when we hurt, it’s the stamp of Jesus.  ~Joni Erickson Tada

April 4, 2013

Mercy

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he had been taken.  And He drove out the man. And He placed cherubs at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”  Genesis 3:23-24

This has always seemed like such a sad verse to me.  Getting “kicked out” of the Garden of Eden seemed a severe punishment.  But read verse 22:

” And the LORD God said, Behold, the man has become as one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…”

Now imagine…you had been created with a perfect body, and lived your entire life in a perfect place.  Because of your choice to disobey, all of that perfection has changed.  Do you really want to stay around and watch the decay?  Do you want to live forever, seeing the far-reaching consequences of your sin?  Was this expulsion truly a mercy, from a protective Father?  Things are not always as they seem…*

“God never witholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good. God’s refusals are always merciful — “severe mercies” at times but mercies all the same. God never denies us our hearts desire except to give us something better.”― Elisabeth Elliot

When we were told we were infertile, I was utterly devastated.  I struggled for months (years?), crying and asking God “why?”.  If someone had told me that our infertility was a blessing or a mercy, I’m sure I would have been grossly offended.  It was so very hard.  So very painful.  It seemed so “unfair.”  I couldn’t imagine the plan that God had for our family.  In the midst of my hurt, I couldn’t see the work that God was doing- changing my heart…teaching me to rely on Him…forging stronger bonds in my marriage…showing me the great love and support of dear friends…and preparing our family for our son at just the right time.  It was His mercy to me.

“Who would ever know the greater graces of comfort and perserverance, mercy and forgiveness, patience and courage, if no shadows fell over a life?”  Ann Voskamp

A friend of mine is a quadriplegic.  He’s been in a wheelchair since he was 17 years old; he’s now in his late 50’s.  We were talking about how God works in our lives, and he said that his accident is what God used to get his attention.  He said God knew that is what it would take, and that he was grateful.  He found Jesus in a rehab hospital… and it was God’s mercy.

“This paralysis is my greatest mercy.” ―Joni Eareckson Tada

God is changing my vision.  Trials take on a different hue when I truly believe “…that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28  I don’t often have the answers or know the reasons, but I’m looking.  And trusting.  And clinging to what I know to be true of God’s character, when things don’t make sense to me.

Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great;  2 Samuel 24:14

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise
Laura Story, “Blessings”
*I’d love to give credit, but I can’t remember where I read this idea!

October 31, 2012

A Loving and Sovereign God Who Lets Me Hurt

Filed under: Shared Findings,Uncategorized — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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This is a wonderful article written by the MS social worker who helped with our family’s adoption.

http://blog.lifelinechild.org/faith-and-encouragement/a-loving-and-sovereign-god-who-lets-me-hurt/

October 17, 2012

Kim on Pain & Perfectionism

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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http://untilgraceisgone.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/infertile-ish/

February 16, 2012

Rely

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 10:45 AM
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Have you ever asked someone to help so that they’ll feel important?  “What a good helper you are!”

Have you ever automatically refused help…when you really could have used it?  “Thanks, but I’ve got it!”

 Have you ever prayed for something, but a little, quiet part of you was thinking  “but if He doesn’t, that’s okay- I can handle it.”?

That seems to work, until things start getting out of hand.  Until the problems are too big.  Until it is too much, end-of-my-rope, past enduring, I can’t handle this!  Then what?

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.  So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

I suffer from the curse of competency.  I am healthy.  I am strong.  I am smart.  I am determined.  I can get a lot of things done, when I want them, and how.  And I like it that way.  And I got used to that.  And I’ve been on a three-year ride of being smacked with my own powerlessness and inadequacies on a routine basis.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.   Proverbs 3:5

Hurts like crazy.  Frustrating beyond belief.  And teaching me a hard, but oh, so worthwhile lesson.

I can’t.  Not even a little.  No matter how hard I try.  But He can.

Not under my supervision.  Not according to my plans.  Not following my instructions.

His time.  His way.  His strength.  His power. 

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.  Psalm 73:26

All I have to do is trust.  Even that I can’t do; I need His help.

Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.  Mark 9:24

I’ve been an unintentional fraud.  A polished-up mess.  A fraction of who He intended me to be through Him.  All of my trying to make it work is futile, when all I really need to do is rely on Him.  Believe.  Wait.  Hope.  Rest.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19

 

January 12, 2012

Future

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!”  Revelation 19:7a

It’s hard to rejoice sometimes.  My head understands, but my emotions struggle with the undefined timeline.  I tend to make up “due dates” for things, subconsciously.  I arbitrarily decide when we should hear some news.  Those days I’m on pins and needles, over nothing, really.  And when they pass, and nothing seems to have changed…it’s hard.  Very, very hard.

The book of Revelation paints a picture of a future world.  A world put right side up…”

The world I’m living in is upside down and backward.  There is plenty of hurt.  Plenty of uncertainty.  And it can start to feel like that’s what’s real.  I’ve found myself thinking that we’ll never actually have a child, but just continue to “be in the process of adopting” indefinitely.

“…part of the sweetness of this moment is the anticipation of the moments to come…knowing what is ahead allows us to better savor what we have, to endure the difficulties, and to continue on with courage.”

It feels like we’re dangling from a tightrope.  I know I’ll never get to the other side if I let go, but holding on hurts, and I can’t see the end.  A huge part of our future seems to be in the hands of people who do not know or care about us.  Seems.  Not is.  The reality is that I’m not dangling from anything…I’m cradled in God’s hand.  And He is the one who determines my future, and He says it will be good.

Lord God, I praise you for my future, for You have promised that it is good.  Thank You that my ultimate end is with You in heaven.  I praise You for Your future redemption of the world and of all things in my life.  As I worship You now, I thank You that one day I will worship You face-to-face for all eternity.”  ~Stormie OMartian

January 11, 2012

When Holidays Hurt

Filed under: Shared Findings,Uncategorized — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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This was written for Christmas, but it applies to any “special” day.  Each holiday can serve as a landmark: “I thought we’d have a child by 2012…another Mother’s Day without a baby…if ______ had chosen us, we’d have been parents by Valentine’s Day…”  For some people, it marks their first time to experience it without someone: “Our baby would have turned 2 this year…Thanksgiving just won’t be the same without Mom…this is the first Father’s Day after the divorce…”  I thought this article had some good advice for how to handle those hurtful times in a healthy and positive way.  ~Holly

 “We’ll soon celebrate Christmas once again. For many, it’s a time of appreciation and joy. For others, it can be one of the most difficult days of the year. This is often true for women facing infertility, families who have recently experienced the loss of a mother, and many other painful situations.

I’ve learned what it’s like for the holidays to be hard through my work as a writer for DaySpring, a counselor and in my personal life too. And, thankfully, I’ve learned a little about what can help too.

Embrace Your Emotions
First, if Christmas is difficult for you then give yourself permission to grieve. When holidays come, we often put expectations on ourselves to feel a certain way. We may think, “This is a special occasion. I have to put on a happy face and make the best of it.” But it’s okay to feel sad and even cry. As the authors of The Empty Chair: Handling Grief on Holidays and Special Occasions say simply and powerfully, “We grieve because we loved.”

It’s also helpful to realize that emotions are not good or bad. They are just messengers that tell us about what’s going on in our lives. Sadness tells us, “You’ve lost something or someone important to you.” It’s not a sin to feel sad. Jesus often experienced sadness and the Bible says he was “a man of sorrows, and familiar with grief” (ISAIAH 53:3 NIV).

Seek Support
Sometimes we need to be alone to experience our emotions, but usually it is wise to seek support. From the very beginning of creation, God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone. This is especially true when we are grieving. Jesus modeled this when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He brought several of his disciples with him and said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (MATTHEW 26:38 NIV).

Support can take many different forms. Hopefully, you have close friends and family members who can walk through this time with you. It’s important not to assume they know you need their comfort. Unless they have experienced a similar loss, they don’t know what it’s like. So don’t be afraid to call them or tell them what you need. You won’t be imposing. They probably want to help but don’t know what to do.

Do Something Special
While doing something special when you are sad may feel a bit overwhelming, it’s important because it will help you be proactive rather than reactive in addressing your loss. Many people think that it’s better to avoid or bury their grief. But the opposite is actually true. Healing only comes when we acknowledge and embrace our losses. As Dr. Gary Oliver says, “If you bury an emotion, it’s always buried alive.”

The kind of action you take depends on your personality and the nature of your loss. For example, if you lost your mother then you might write her a letter. If you lost an unborn child, you might donate to a crisis pregnancy center in his or her honor. You and your spouse might look at photos of the sister you lost to breast cancer or visit a place where you used to go together. You may think, “But that will make me sad!” That’s okay. Experiencing grief is part of healing.

You can also simply do something nice for yourself. If you enjoy going to restaurants, then have a special meal with a friend or spouse. If you like taking long walks or bubble baths, make time in the day for that activity. Part of getting through grief is taking care of you. As long as it isn’t something harmful or numbing, doing something special for yourself can help you through a difficult day.

Hold Onto Hope
At one point in my journey it seemed as if I couldn’t take another step. I felt as if I were in a dark cave. But then I sensed the Lord gently and lovingly speak to my heart, “You may be in a cave, but you still have a choice. You can sit in despair or you can diamond-mine your difficulties.” I decided I was not leaving that time in my life empty-handed. I was taking every hidden blessing I could find. Of course, I still had difficult days. But choosing hope made a difference.

I don’t know how my journey will end and you probably don’t know how yours will either. I also don’t know how many of you will be silently grieving your losses as we sit in church together this Sunday. But I do know that God sees each one of us. He knows how many hairs are on our heads and how many cares our in our hearts. Whatever you’re going through this holiday season, you’re not facing it alone. As King David, a man who experienced many losses in his life, expressed in Psalm 34:18 NIV, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Praying God surrounds you with love, fills you with hope, and gives you strength for each moment—especially this Christmas.”

~Holley Gerth

November 1, 2011

Songs for the Journey

Filed under: Songs for the Journey — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Lily of the Valley, let your sweet aroma fill my life
Rose of Sharon show me how to grow in beauty in God’s sight
Fairest of ten thousand make me a reflection of your light
Daystar shine down on me let your love shine through me in the night

This has been a dark time for us, but oh, Jesus’ love has shone through it, again and again!  I want to reflect Him!

Lead me Lord, I’ll follow. Anywhere you open up the door
Let your word speak to me, show me what I’ve never seen before
Lord I want to be your witness,
you can take what’s wrong and make it right
Daystar shine down on me, let your love shine through me in the night

We’re trusting God, that He has a perfect plan.  He is teaching us so many things…and we will follow.

Lord I’ve seen a world that’s dying wounded by the master of deceit
Groping in the darkness, haunted by the years of past defeat
But when I see you standing near me
shining with compassion in your eyes
I pray Jesus shine down on me
let your love shine through me in the night

Suffering has opened my eyes and my heart to the hurt around me.  I want to introduce other to the Healer!

Lead me Lord, I’ll follow anywhere you open up the door
Let your word speak to me, show me what I’ve never seen before
Lord I want to be your witness,
you can take what’s wrong and make it right
Daystar shine down on me, let your love shine through me in the night

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