NORMAL(Part III): The Unchanging Changer

Change.

There is this phenomena that says people, in general, do not like change. People like comfortable familiarity, like a well worn, nubby sweater. I have a nubby sweater I love to wear… it’s red.

But, personally, I generally like change and look forward to the new opportunities that could come with the hopeful creating of a new-normal that is better than the normal I had before – a change that might bring more vibrancy to my life.

So…

No change, or change?

How will the scales balance out in this new-normal coming post-pandemic?

I do not know the answers to this question, but I know who does. And, I know He desires to be the center of the new-normal for many people.

He is the Unchanging Changer.

He is the vertical relationship we were created for.

He is always the same, therefore can be counted upon for every need.

He is the One who sustained me in the tragedies I mentioned in my previous posts and He is the One who holds me now during all the unrest this pandemic brings. I do not know the future, but He does.

The truth is, this Unchanging God is actually a Changer; In fact, I might conclude, His main mission is to bring about change.

Thirty years ago He changed me and He has been changing me ever since.

He uses difficult trials in my life to bring about heart-change in me. He changes my heart so that I can see who I am in comparison to Him, the Almighty, Loving Father. Because He is the unchanging, I can lean on Him to face the dark days, as well as the bright days, with equal confidence because of the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, who loves me so completely, He gave His life and opened the Way for me to have eternal life when I pass from this one; this allows a constant underlying vibrancy to my life.

Nothing shakes this change in me, no matter what – not illness, loss, grief, or even world-wide pandemics – because I am completely secure in the LORD.

Do you know Him?

… are you brave enough, are you willing?

As the new-normal unfolds in the days and months to come, will you consider seeking and knowing the Unchanging Changer

and make Him the center of your new-normal?

Got questions?

Ask.

Be well my readers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NORMAL (Part II): Paint on the Paintbrush

Are we brave enough? Are we willing enough?

Leaning forward,

arm extending at an upward angle,

breath inhaling,

an artist sits before a blank canvas with paint on the paintbrush.

And, if this artist is anything like me, there is a slight hesitation before that first brush stroke, before the paint on the paintbrush meets the white of the canvas, changing it’s look entirely.

Am I brave enough to put that color down? Am I willing enough to take the risk?

Yes. These are the questions I am asking today while we come closer to the new-normal, post Covid-19.

An artist relies on past experiences; brilliant creations alongside failed creations. It’s all in the learning to know what works and what does not.

So, all metaphorical visuals aside, let me ask you this:

What are you learning while in-the-battle,

enduring the stress,

the changes,

the uncomfortableness,

and the losses that dictate the days,

right now, during this pandemic?

(PAUSE)

What is most missed by you?

What is most important to you?

What are you glad to be without?

(PAUSE)

Now.

Lower your arm and let the color fill the white of your canvas. Go ahead, take the risk and put the color down.

Are you brave enough? Are you willing enough?

My brush stroke creates the image of everyone I love, sitting close enough to hug, on a day dappled with sunshine beneath the large maple tree in my yard. My painting would have this image repeated and repeated and repeated, ad infinitum – capturing the essence of time filled with the closeness of the people I love.

Would your color stroke depict something similar?

I think, and I guess, maybe so – and I know why.

We all are created as relational beings. We were made to crave companionship, physical contact, and love.

The greatest Artist that ever existed is the One who created you in the womb; in the womb you were known – the first relationship initiated, it is written in the DNA of all humans. I am not talking about your mother, she came second in your relationships. I am talking about God. From the beginning, God knew we humans need the companionship of other humans in order to thrive in the best way; the horizontal line of relationship one to another.

This is why I am not surprised at what I imagine to be the most common thing missed during this time of pandemic-induced social distancing:

Family,

loved ones,

people/community,

and all the similes from there.

So,

am I… (?),

are you… (?),

brave enough to demand that your new-normal includes an increase of time spent with loved ones? Are we willing enough to allow it to be the forefront of our paintings and push to the background, the busy-ness and non-relational demands? Can we urge authorities to be more mindful of this most important and basic need of humanity as they decide what to dictate to us about “returning to normal?” I believe the old-normal forgot this along the way.

What if…

… family time was more important than homework,

more important than overtime,

than the economic recovery (what do we need to recover to anyway – who decides that mark)?

What if school days were shorter,

work days were shorter,

and naps and vacations more plentiful?

What if we listened more, cared more, invested more into the lives around us?

Would these changes actually make us better and healthier people, students, workers, communities, and thrust us into a more abundant economy simply because we are living a more loving, refreshed life?

The canvas is white!

The paintbrush is in my hand, your hand, individually and collectively….

are we brave enough, willing enough to create a new-normal that is better than the normal we had before?

 

Stay tuned:

NORMAL (Part III): The Unchanging Changer

 

 

 

NORMAL(Part I): It’s Gone Forever

Let’s face it….

The NORMAL we once knew is gone forever. This is how I know.

I birthed a stillborn baby.

I had cancer.

I had a son who died of an overdose.

After each one of these traumatic events in my life, NORMAL was altered forever. And this is just how it is; No one escapes the long term affects of hardships and traumas. The experiences of Covid-19 will render the same. Normal: it’s gone forever.

I do not aim to be a Debbie-downer, but let’s face it… this is reality.

Grace was my fifth pregnancy, and I thought all things would be normal. As she lay lifeless in my arms after twelve hours of induced labor, my outlook  upon life changed. Cognizant, I was face to face with the sovereignty of God: He is the opener and closer of wombs, He is the giver and taker of life, He does what He wants for His purposes. I did not take pregnancies or the creation of life for granted as I may have.  And, God blessed me with five more children.

Stage 3A cancer blasted me from normal life into a year of hellish treatments and surgeries that teetered me on the edge of life and death.  I survived, yet normal life as it was, is gone. There are scars: caustic treatments destroyed my digestive system and I now, must constantly watch what goes into my mouth so that I am not in pain or tied to the bathroom for hours. This is a new normal for me; Tedious and not pleasant, yet I am glad to be alive and often praise God for my breath – inhale/exhale, each day a gift.

Despite all my efforts, love, and prayers… my son died of a sudden, accidental, overdose. Caleb was plagued with common mental issues and he succumbed to addiction, detoxed, was clean, relapsed, then died; that is the short story. The two year anniversary date comes up in just twenty nine days and it will be emotionally hard, again – but honestly, everyday is still hard; family-normal is gone forever as well. Sudden loss, too soon, in our human thinking changes life and how I think.  Some things just do not fit in our brains; we cannot comprehend what does not make sense to us. And yet, again, I am sustained and I am blessed each day I live, by a loving God.

Changed, I am: mentally, physically, and spiritually. I currently live what I call a new-normal life – even still, that is about to be altered, again.

The fall out from Covid-19, no matter how each of us is affected, is ushering in a new-normal, to be revealed very soon.

Yes, the old Normal: It is gone forever.

Grieve it.

It’s okay.

The logical news is this:

A NEW NORMAL will present itself, and by the mercy of God, we will meander into the unfolding with increased grace and compassion.

My advice?

Don’t fight it, it’s not a battle that can be won. I urge you to embrace it.

Some of the new-normal will be dictated upon us by governments and authorities over us, yet some things in the new-normal will be dictated by what we each have learned. That new-normal is up to us as individuals and as the collective community of America; Great opportunity is before us to create a better new-normal!

The question is: are we brave enough? Are we willing enough?

Stay tuned…

NORMAL (Part II): Paint on the Paintbrush

NORMAL (Part III): The Unchanging Changer

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Those Who Grieve in Any Way

Is there any comfort?

Are you grieving the loss of a loved one?

Is it due to a substance misuse? Is it due to waywardness? Is it due to illness… even possibly to Covid-19?

Is it your spouse? your parent? your child? your friend?

Is it over the state of our country, the world, and all we once knew as normal?

I know certain loved ones, and friends who are very heavy of heart right now, including me.

Is there any comfort?

 

“Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)

This is some comfort.

“As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it….” (Luke 19:41)

This is some comfort.

“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” – coupled with, “…he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears…” (Luke 22:44 & Hebrews 5:7)

This is some comfort.

The comfort is this: Jesus knows your pain and your sorrow and your psycho-symptomatic responses – He has experienced all of it.

He wept over the death of His best friend. He understands the loss and the void and the hole it leaves in the soul. Even more, He wept at the lack of faith of humanity, He wept at the loss of peace humanity could have had, if they had seen and understood what was before them. And He wept for each of us, people of every generation, as he faced all that led Him to the cross.

My son drew this picture of Jesus. My son was able to draw this picture of Jesus’ sorrow because he wept too; he wept over the struggles of mental illness and addiction, over a battle he felt powerless to… but underneath, my son knew the comfort of Jesus, and despite his failing and falling to overdose death, I believe and trust that Jesus loved Him into heaven.

I have wept ferociously, to the point of biting my pillowcase and voicelessly screaming, gasping for air; how much more emotion and heartache He must have endured to sweat drops of blood?

This is all comfort to me because I know that none of my grief is misunderstood or disregarded; I know Jesus weeps with me; He will never tell me, get over it. There is true comfort when one speaks to one who knows. A person suffering the loss of a child is most comforted by one who has also lost a child; a person suffering the loss of a spouse to illness is most comforted by one who has also lost a spouse to illness…and so on – we who grieve and suffer for whatever reason, understand this.

Jesus is the answer to our grief and our pain because He knows and weeps alongside us.

During these days before Easter Sunday is a time to reflect on this. If we can imagine the walk of Jesus to the cross, I believe we can understand both the power and the depth of Love that is ours through Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross.

Look to the cross today…

Know that you are not forgotten in your sorrows. Jesus understands and offers you comfort and peace that is not understandable. Today, you can know the love of being held by the One who has conquered death and lives in Heaven.

Will you turn to Him?

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face… and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

Click on the line above and be blessed.

I love you, my readers, I pray you will each find your comfort in the One who knows it all and has the power to lift you and hold you and save you.

Time to Praise GOD in this Pandemic

OXYMORON.

Does this seem like an oxymoron, to have Praise and Pandemic in the same sentence? It seems like it doesn’t make sense, right?

I thought the same way during other trials I have endured, like stage 3Acancer. Yet, I reached a point one day where I actually thanked God for my cancer and praised Him for His all knowing, all present, all powerful presence. Trials and difficult times do not take away from God’s character or the fact that He is still an active, working, living God. Bad things do happen to good people. I know. Yet, God is still good.

How can we praise the Lord in this pandemic?

Let me start the list:

Praise Him for….

The committed doctors and scientists and people who God has given incredibly smart brains to navigate the insides & outsides of this virus, Covid19; pray for their wisdom to figure a remedy in a timely way.

The dedicated and brave, doctors, nurses, and all medical staff, and those who sustain the hospitals functioning, who are enduring under emotions and stress that they have never experienced before and yet they go to work to help people who are suffering from this virus; pray for their safety and stamina and families.

The selfless heroes we take for granted: the first responders from police and fire and emergency bases who come running on demand 24/7, into unknown circumstances, to care for those who are sick and need help; pray for their protection.

The government agencies and other business owners at large who are helping to set up extra hospital beds/units, and make equipment and supplies that are desperately needed; pray that they have ample resources to do what they set out to do, and energy to do it.

The usually unnoticed workers who are sustaining the “essential” stores to keep us fed and doing what is essential to our daily lives; pray for their protection too.

The leaders in our churches who are shepherding our souls as we humans fear, like humans do; pray for their wisdom to speak Truth in these troubling times.

The neighbors and people in our communities stepping out of their comfort zones and doing kind things; pray for their compassion to keep overriding their own fears.

And more… who is helping you? who is your support? Praise God for them! God is allowing all these people to do good for our benefit, individually and collectively.

Praise Him directly for ….

His unchanging character – He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow; we can count on Him.

His commitment to us – He never leaves us or forsakes us; we can count on Him.

His power – He reigns over everything we can see and everything we cannot see – there’s nothing He cannot do; we can count on Him.

His omniscience – He knows it all; we can count on Him.

His sacrifice – He opened the gates of heaven for us – He is victorious over death; we can count on Him.

And more… God reveals Himself in the midst of hard times; we can always count on Him.

During my time of cancer, when I felt death was looming, I never felt closer to God; maybe he is beckoning us to come close to Him now? He desires sweet fellowship with each of us and I have witnessed His abundant provision during unthinkable times… like the sudden death of my son to overdose, and birthing a stillborn. Yes, bad things happen to good people; I am not stranger to loss and pain and suffering, and yet, my God, the Lord Jesus Christ has carried me every single time through every single danger and challenge.

He will do the same for you, readers.

It IS time to praise Him in this Pandemic.

 

 

 

This Pandemic: A Call to Prayer

Anyone can read this post,

but specifically,

I am speaking to readers who consider themselves God’s people;

these words are specifically for you, and me.

Thursday, May 7th,

is the scheduled National Day of Prayer for 2020.

But I am writing today to say, forget it!

Globally, we are in a battle too big for us; this Pandemic, Covid19, is ravaging the human race in ways we have never seen before; it feels surreal – a nightmarish unfolding of horribleness.  Globally, is it possible that God is trying to get the attention of His people?  Could it be, for far too long, God’s people have been complacent? Too comfortable? Forgetting God along the way?

A typical passage clothing the National Day of Prayer is this:

“...If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

It is us; you and me, God’s people, He is speaking to. I wonder, have I humbled myself, do I live like I know who I am and who God is, really? I question, do I seek Him first everyday? Do I seek God earnestly, or just when I want something? Am I sensitive to the Holy Spirit to show me my wicked ways? Am I willing to turn from my wicked ways? I blush and am silenced, even as I think to answer those questions for myself.

Interesting, the verse that precedes this one:

This is God speaking to Solomon, the wisest man ever… “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people,…” (2 Chronicles 7:13)

Whaaat? Did I just read that? “or send a plague among my people”… a pandemic perhaps? maybe? Again, as I said yesterday, this God I speak of is a sovereign God who does what He wants, when He wants, and allows what He allows. Why? Because He IS and has a plan. Somehow it all makes sense to Him. It is my experience, almost all the time, I am unable to understand, especially when it involves pain and suffering.

I write to urge and rebuke myself, first.

I am weeping for my Nation and I say:

forget waiting for the May 7th scheduled call to prayer. We need to have a National Day of prayer NOW; today, tomorrow, and for all the days we are alive. Could it be, this pandemic is our call to prayer, right this very day? Could it be, God is waiting to hear from His people, globally?

No stickers or banners or balloons or PA systems needed; just knees to the floor, heads down, wherever you are – on your bed, in you kitchen, in your car… and pray… how? As God Himself told Solomon: humbly, seeking Him and seeking insight to our own wicked ways, turning away from our wicked ways, and asking forgiveness,  THEN….

then, He will hear our prayers, forgive, and heal.

I believe it begins now, with us, who call ourselves God’s people. My pastor preached a sermon recently stating, “God’s people need God’s people.” We need each other to remind each other of the faithfulness and Truth of God & His Word, especially in these scary times. My Pastor also said, “… and the world needs God’s people.” The world needs God’s people to share the HOPE we are given in Jesus Christ.

And I will add today, that I believe, the world needs God’s people to pray in such a way that God hears, forgives, and heals.

To Him, be the glory, forever and ever.

Amen