You can definitely count me in – because I have been there. And I have been there a lot lately.
But I was reminded yesterday through the story of Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, how completely wrong we are! Though our circumstances maybe different from Naomi’s, the promises of God are still the same.
For Naomi, she really was in a very difficult situation. She found herself in the foreign land of Moab after traveling there with her family during a famine. Moab was a nation that was actually hated by Israel. Her husband and sons had passed away and in her perspective she had nothing. She was so upset that she was not only bitter, but she wanted to be called “bitter.” She tells Ruth that there is no reason for her to go with her back to her homeland because the only solution she could come up with is if she would be able to give birth to another son that Ruth could marry, and she knew that couldn’t happen. In Ruth 1:12-13 Naomi says, “12 Return home, my daughters. Go on, for I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me to have a husband tonight and to bear sons, 13 would you be willing to wait for them to grow up? Would you restrain yourselves from remarrying? No, my daughters, my life is much too bitter for you to share, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me.”
She only knew of one solution – and that solution was not possible so therefore she had no hope. But the truth is that she did have hope. Her hope was not in herself and her solution but in God, the infinite, Almighty God who has plans far greater than we could ever imagine. And the story was not only beautiful, but it was amazing in how God provided for her and Ruth through Boaz who apparently Naomi had forgotten about. And not only did God have a plan but it was a plan probably far greater than Naomi and Ruth could have ever imagined or would have known as Ruth was in the lineage of King David and ultimately Jesus.
So often, we get so caught up in our circumstance and how impossible or solution-less it may seem in our eyes that we forget how big and awesome our God is. He has solutions that we may never have even realized, known or forgotten. But we have to trust in Him. We have to follow Him. We have to place our faith in Him, because even in the most hopeless of situation, there is hope. Our hope is not based on ourselves and our solutions but in God, the infinite, Almighty God who loves us and has plans far greater than we could ever imagine.
This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. (James 1:19-20, 26, NASB)
He who restrains his words has knowledge, And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. (Proverbs 17:27 NASB)
Temper… this is something that has always been difficult for me to control, sometimes worse than others. I think it is worse for me in periods of more intense frustration. Although I know that God is with me and that God has a plan for me and all of that, I still get very frustrated sometimes, especially when I am getting ready in the mornings and dealing with my caregivers who may have the best of intentions but still may not do everything exactly the way I would do it if I could do it myself. Although I get frustrated at times, I am still thankful to have caregivers. But I do get frustrated and even lose my temper at times.
Temper is a dangerous thing that can change your witness to someone or change someone’s opinion of you forever. It may not represent who you are as a person or your entire character but one instance may remain in someone’s mind forever. The Bible teaches against it.
We go through a lot of staffing issues and even fallouts at times. A few months ago a process began in which we lost several of our staff members for several different reasons. With the staff we had who had learned and did their jobs well, I didn’t have a lot of frustration or temper issues. But they began to do things that were unacceptable and harmful to me.
As we rehired for these positions we have hired nine people over the past month or so. Four of them did not stay. This entails a lot of training for Spring and me. The turnover also causes a lot of physical work for Spring. Times like this, when I have to train people to do many things that many of us take for granted, are when I become frustrated. Examples include spilling water all over me at the third attempt to give me a drink; not knowing when to connect me back to the ventilator when I’m starving for air; burning my mouth with a hot drink when it should only be sipped; getting my pants on twisted after the fifth attempt to get them straight – the list goes on and on. These things are not the fault of my caregivers. They just happen. It’s still frustrating and I often find myself blaming my caregivers. These times of frustration are the times that I really face the constant temptation to lose my temper.
It’s easy for me to start thinking along the wrong track. God wants to use my story, not just to tell people that we can live through difficult times with His help, but to tell people that wecan live victoriously through the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If we use our difficult circumstances for excuses to get frustrated and to lose our temper, then what does that say for the power of God’s grace?
I must always remember that the difficult circumstances that I face can really be used by God as a witness to His power in my life when I am living in His righteousness which does not include losing my temper.
As things became darker, I lost my temper more often and our staff began having bad attitudes in return which caused me to lose my temper even more often; a snowball effect was occurring. I realized this was becoming a problem and was convicted tomake changes. Not only did I realize that it would help the situation by turning around, but I also realized that to be the witness with my life that God wants me to be, I must use these difficult times to demonstrate the power of God’s grace by not becoming overly frustrated to the point of losing my temper. It is only through God’s grace that I can have the strength to overcome my temper. I can’t do it on my own. I can’t overcome anything without God’s grace. It’s amazing how I can already see things turning around.
How often do we all lose our temper and blame it on our circumstances?
The truth is that “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” It only hurts our witness as Christians. Who we are in these circumstances is really a reflection of who Christ is in us.
How do we represent the Gospel when we lose our tempers? Are we allowing God to use our difficult circumstances, whatever they may be to you, to demonstrate the power of His grace? Paul wrote while he was in prison, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
What are your all things and are you doing them with His strength? I wasn’t, but it takes being convicted by the Holy Spirit, recognizing, repenting, and depending on God’s grace to change and stay with it. None of us can do it on our own, but God can.
Our prayer must be like that of the Psalmist,
“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Chapel in seminary was wonderful – but attending chapel in college was a different story. But in the dull boringness and drool of falling asleep each week in the uncomfortable theatre chairs was a moment that would forever impact my understanding and appreciation of what Christ did for me on the cross. I decided to follow Christ when I was seven years old. After being in church and hearing the story of his sacrifice, though it never gets old – I think sometimes I become calloused to the significance of what Christ really did for me on that cross.
As I listened to this speaker this particular day he asked us to close our eyes. Now I usually don’t “close my eyes” and visualize anything a speaker may suggest an audience to visualize because I think it is cheesy or never does anything for me – but on this particular day I did. The speaker said, “Now close your eyes and imagine that you are there when Jesus is on the cross. See Him, His body battered and beaten and bleeding. See the horrible crown of thorns that has been driven into His skull. See the blood, pouring down. Hear His cries, and see Him suffering. See the anguish and the agony of someone who was innocent. See Him struggle as He pushes up on nails driven into His ankles just to get one gasp of air. See Him hang by nails that were pierced through His wrists. And now imagine that as you are there at the foot of the cross, He looks down at you and says, ‘I’m doing this for you in your place because I love you.’”
I just sat there. I was completely engulfed by the emotion of all that I felt and the reality of the suffering that Christ had done on my behalf. It might have been 2000 years ago and I wasn’t really there but Christ did suffer and die just for me. He suffered and died because of the overwhelming love that he has for you and for me.
In that moment, I was overwhelmed. It didn’t change the decision I had made years ago but it did refresh my gratitude and understanding for the God that I love and serve who has an incomprehensible and divine plan beyond our finite abilities to understand for humanity. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
It didn’t end there because just as Christ had said He would do, He rose again on the third day. He bore our sin, paid the penalty of death but conquered death so that we can live.
It’s amazing and I’m truly grateful for life – eternal life that I have only because of Christ.
We had a very busy weekend last weekend with no time to write as we were in the process of staffing for my caregivers. Some of the staffing was regrettably to replace some and also to increase the number of staff. In the midst of all this craziness we have tried to move on with life. I’ve spent time training a new Chief Operating Officer at the trucking company that I feel that God has provided to fulfill many of the roles that I had. But mainly we have spent time on the ministry that God has called us to.
We would like to have as many people involved in our ministry as possible and want to keep everyone informed of what is going on and how God is at work in our life and ministry so that you may also be a part of our ministry.
We have chartered a new corporation for our ministry to operate out of, Just Because He Lives Ministries, Inc. We held our first board of directors meeting on Thursday, March 14, 2013. Our directors are Tim Tucker, President; Bruce (Mac) MacCaleb, Vice President; Howard Newell, Treasurer; Spring Reed, Secretary; Fred Shackelford, IV, Chief Encouraging Officer; Mike Seals; and Charles Reed. It was a very productive meeting that we really felt God at work in. Everyone was on board and really serious about our ministry. Many helpful suggestions were made including,
- Setting up an event calendar on our website so that people who want us to speak at events know what our openings are and what dates to apply for on our event form
- Suggestions on what people get the most out of from our stories
- Most liked and helpful blog article topics for us to write on
- How to best finance our ministry
- Other bloggers to network with
- Me having a shorter ten minute precise testimony to give at church services that won’t take away from the pastor’s sermon time but still give time to get my story out
- A means to get professional videos done for promotional purposes as well as sharing with churches that are longer distances away
- Speaking via web video at churches and organizations
- Means for travel
- Videoing speaking engagements to look for areas of improvement
These were the main ideas that were presented by the board members at the meeting. We feel that the Lord has brought together a group of Godly men to help lead our ministry. It is always amazing how God is always at work even in the midst of our lives even when everything seems to be so chaotic. We really appreciate everyone’s time and support when they have their own busy and chaotic lives to tend to. If anyone has any more ideas or input to share with us, we would love to hear them. Just write a comment or send us an email.
Wednesdays for Women – An Inspirational Thought for Hump Day: Are you truly resting? A Look into the Proverbs 31 Woman
“She watches over the activities of her household
and is never idle.” Proverbs 31:27
Since marrying Charles – I have never had so many people in my personal space.
I mean that space that we want to protect, which is often our home and the place that we can be ourselves and get away from the rest of the world. All of that space in my life took a dramatic turn when I said “I do”. Instead of having a place to come home to, full of personal space, it is now almost non-existent. And not only is all of my “space” crowded with people, but it is crowded with people who have many opinions about how I live my life. A lot of times, these are opinions that I don’t really agree with – and people that have absolutely no understanding of who I am, what I am about, or all that we go through, even if they see me in my “space” every single day. These opinions are opinions that I don’t really care to hear and of course, definitely don’t want to listen to and they often make me very defensive. But through all the loud noise of opinions there is one opinion that really does matter. And this opinion is something I cannot ignore. It is the “opinion” that comes in the form of a soft gentle whisper of conviction – it is the Lord.
This past week I was reading one of the most famous and daunting biblical passages for women in the bible – it was Proverbs 31. Every time I read Proverbs 31, I am overwhelmed by the extremely long list of the abilities of this woman. How in the world will I ever be that Proverbs 31 woman? It seems too impossible. But at the end of this most beautiful poem of what womanhood is all about, there are some key phrases that give us the “secret” to accomplishing all that God intended for us to be as women. It was the soft whisper of conviction that I heard so loudly within my soul as I read vs. 27 when it states that “she does not eat the bread of idleness.”
Whoa – that so quickly just gripped me. Of course, I have a million excuses for anytime that I might be idle and I was quick to say to the Lord, “But Lord, have you not forgotten what kind of life that I live? I am so tired, I really think that I need that 30 minutes of resting that I may be able to fit in once a day?” But the truth was that the Lord had not forgotten the crazy life that we live and all the many hours of being on my feet, and working to keep the household running, taking care of Charles, cooking the meals, keeping the staff going and so on and so forth. But I know that He was addressing an attitude of desiring idleness and an increasing belief that I felt that I deserved to be idle because it is what was owed to me. So that sent me on a tailspin over the past week – just trying to seek the Lord for what was truly needed rest and what was just plain old ugly idleness. I believe that rest is something God does want us to do but he also instructs us to not be idle. Earlier in Proverbs 10, it even goes as far as saying that idleness leads to poverty.
Some random facts that I have learned about trucking since being married to the vice president of a trucking company and spending a lot of time at the office is what may seem like insignificant “idle” times for an “18-wheeler” can cost a company thousands of dollars. In the same way – what may seem like insignificant times of “idleness” as women, wives and mothers, can also be costing us greatly.
I have been on a journey of seeking and praying to the Lord about what is truly needed rest and what is period of unneeded idleness. I do know that I am a lot more productive when I have needed to be and my house runs so much smoother. I am far from being that Proverbs 31 woman, but maybe through prayers and less “idleness” I am one step closer.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17
Waiting. What a word that so much of us dread.
When I was single, I was often encouraged to not just “wait” for Mr. Right to come along, but to keep living in the wait. What I have found though is that these encouraging words are not just for the single, but for all women no matter what stage we are in. I definitely believe that it is good and right to desire what we think God may have for us in the future, but it is when our desires for something else, other than what God has in our life at the moment, consumes us and leaves us unable to enjoy and be fruitful in the stage, age and time that we are in. If we aren’t careful as women, we are always waiting on and wanting something else to come along. If we are always looking forward to the future – or even the past in some cases – how effective can we be in the present? How can we enjoy where we are at? When we are single we want to be married. When we are married, we want to have children. When we have one child, we want two children. When our children are newborns, we are anxious for them to be able to crawl. When they are in junior high, we can’t wait for them to be able to drive. When we get a job, we are still looking for another one. When it is winter, we wish it were summer, and when it is summer, we wish it were fall. When it is Monday we can’t wait until the freedom of the weekend, but by Saturday we can’t wait until the order of Monday comes. And one day, we will get to a point where there is nothing more in front of us, and too much behind us that we missed out on.
Linda Dillow in her book, Calm My Anxious Heart even goes on to say that often it is purpose they are trying to find. “Often women without direction live not only dot-to-dot but on hold, waiting – for the right job, the right man, a baby. Waiting for the baby to grow up and leave home – waiting for something to give their life meaning. Their faulty focus makes contentment an impossible dream.”
For me, even though I got married later than what everyone else’s time frame would have been, I am so grateful that I didn’t just wait. It was tough at times, and there were some “ugly cry moments” in which I really had to just trust the Lord with everything that I could, but I knew that whether I was going to be single for just awhile or for the rest of my life, I wanted to use every moment that I had to fulfill His purpose for my life. My purpose in those months and years did not revolve around what would happen but what was happening. It wasn’t about who I wasn’t yet, but who I already was. One thing I do know is that when the time is right, God will give us the desires of our heart, when our desires are His desires. We don’t need to worry, fret, or fear because God has a plan much greater than we could imagine. We don’t need to be consumed by the what ifs of life based upon what we think is best. We as women just need to find purpose in where God has and what God has for us today.
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”
Romans 8:37 (NASB)
Growing up and living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy has caused me to live through many transitions. Living through these transitions started by first understanding and realizing the significance of the disease. From my time of diagnosis until I was 8 or 9 years old, I don’t think I ever really realized the significance and seriousness of my disease. For example, early on, I always thought that only my legs were affected and not my arms. One day, I evidently felt threatened by another boy at school. I remember responding to him by saying there is nothing wrong with my arms indicating that he had better leave me alone because I could fight back with my arms. When I came home and told my dad, he simply grimaced and never really responded with any affirmation to my encounter. Later on, I began to realize the meaning of his response. He knew much more about progression of the disease at the time than me. Although my dad didn’t express the reality that I would eventually lose the use of my muscles throughout my body (maybe through his wisdom), I soon figured it out on my own. It was not an easy discovery. This example helps indicate the level of hardship in the acceptance of the disease’s progression. When I was nine years old I was bombarded with the realization of the complete significance of the disease as I became confined to a wheelchair. This was just the beginning of many life transitions that I would go through. Each time I have faced one of these transitions, I would have to make a decision of whether or not I wanted to live successfully through the transition. This was not a decision that anyone else could make for me, but it was a decision, even at a young age, that I had to make for myself. What was the driving factor in each of these decisions? These decisions/transitions have included the acceptance of having to be carried around, going through school normally, leg braces, being confined to a wheel chair, accepting all the recommended physical therapies, being fed in front of peers, having others write for me, accepting the need for IPPB breathing treatments, using a Bi-PAP to assist with breathing, getting a tracheostomy and using a ventilator at night, taking heart medications that made me feel terrible for the first two months, accepting the use to the ventilator 24 hours a day, getting married, and making a decision to leave my career to follow God’s will to use my life story to proclaim and spread the good news of salvation through Christ that is available to all.
You may ask, “How have I made the decision to accept life through each of these transitions?”
The year I became confined to a wheelchair, as I struggled with the acceptance of the reality of my disease, I did not know what the rest of my life would be like or how I would continue living with any meaning for my life. Later that year, I made a decision to follow Christ and that changed everything. From this point forward, I could accept the reality of my disease by knowing that God still had a purpose for my life within my own disease process. He could use my life to show others how trusting and having dependence on Him could also demonstrate to others that they could also have purpose in life through whatever struggles they may face.
However through each encounter with a transition, I have had to face during these periods of physical decline such as making a decision to have a spinal fusion, making a decision to go through a standard education system, making a decision to go to college, making a decision to get a tracheostomy and continue working, and to even get married. I had to make a decision to do these things in order to have life and be used by God through the physical transitions. The ultimate reason for my choice to continue living through each of these transitions and life choices is to be used for God’s purpose. By knowing that God had a reason for my life, because of my decision to follow Christ, I was able to make the choice to live with whatever transition I had to face due to my disease progression. I had to choose that I wanted to keep living life to the fullest because that is what God wanted for me, even though it was very hard and took a lot of courage, and at times it may have seemed to be a lot easier to give up.
I encourage every sufferer of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, any other neuromuscular disease, anyone who has to go through life transitions due to any health condition or anyone who has to go through life transitions in general that are often not by our choosing, to remember the promises that God has given us. In Romans 8:37-39, the Bible states, “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I am inspired by the word “conquer” in that verse. We are not only able to conquer but we do not have to conquer anything alone. No matter what we face in life, even if it is a devastating disease such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, I know that nothing can separate me or you from the love of Christ. Because of His love, I know that I can conquer what comes my way. And I know that no matter what you are facing, nothing can separate you from His love. He loves you, and He also has a plan for your life.
(This blog was written for the MDA transitions blog which can be found at http://transitions.mda.org/blogs)
Ecc 3:1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.
I don’t know about you – but it seems like time just flies by….that is unless you are trying to get to an appointment and you are waiting at a red light, or when you have an exciting trip coming up and every day before it gets there seem longer and longer. (One of my coworkers had daily emails for like 200 days for her upcoming trip to Disney!) But time usually seems to fly by.
Time – I just never seem to be able to catch up or have enough.
Today has been one of those mad dash catch up days. Charles was only in the hospital for a few days, but when your already tight schedule gets put on hold for a few days– and then we were by ourselves today which means we have two people that are only able to accomplish what one person can do – we had to put everything in high gear.
I know, no matter what our life circumstances are – we all have times like these – and for some of us, depending on what stage of life you are in – it might be like that every single day. Sometimes all we can do is live in the moment and be half prepared for the next. Though for my calendar and scheduling obsession that doesn’t fit well. It does seem to blend well with what the bible states in James 4:14 when James writes, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”
There are several lessons though that I have learned years ago about time that I have been reflecting upon once again that I thought I would share. (In no particular order)
1. Spend our time wisely because once it is gone – we can never have it back.
- The one unique thing about time is that we can never get it back once it is gone. It can also never be bought, or borrowed. We must spend it wisely.
2. The Lord gives us enough time to accomplish what He wants us to do.
- If we don’t have enough time to get done what we are trying to get done –it’s for two reasons. We are either trying to accomplish our agenda instead of God’s agenda, or we are wasting the time that we have to accomplish His purpose.
3. Time is a gift from God that we need to be a good steward of.
- Everything that we have is the Lord’s, including our time. He created it.
4. We waste a lot more time than we realize.
- How much of our time each day is really spent doing something we didn’t need to be or shouldn’t be doing. We have so many distractions – if we miss the next episode of our favorite TV show that is completely fiction and doesn’t mean anything – will we really not make it the next day? If we don’t catch up on every status on Facebook – will we really be at a loss? If we spend more time shuttling our children around in 25 different directions that we have no time as a family or for the Lord, is that really worth it? Each of us, have ways we choose to spend our time – that is truly wasted.
5. We can make time for anything we think is important.
- I am surprised by what I can get accomplished when I have a deadline. Why? Because it makes me make the time. And I have found that we can make time for just about anything that we think is important. So when we say, “I didn’t have the time to do that.” We are really saying, that it just wasn’t important enough to make happen.
6. How we spend our time is often (if not always) a reflection of what our priorities are.
- This goes along with #5. Where we are choosing to spend our time – is where our priorities are. If you were to graph out where your time is spent – would you be satisfied with what your time says your priorities are?
7. We need time for rest.
- Time to rest in the Lord. The world tells us that we need time for me, myself and I. But really, we need time to rest in the Lord. He is the only one that can help us make the right decision and guide our every step. We don’t need time to relax at the nail salon or in front of the TV – we need time with our Savior. Does that mean that we should never go to the nail salon or watch TV? No, but that shouldn’t be in place of our time with the Lord for rest. As Susie Davis writes in her book, The Time of Your Life, “Plainly we need more God in our schedule – we need more God in our planning. We need more God.”
I encourage you to listen to the song, This Day, by Point of Grace. An older song but such great lyrics.
This day is fragile – soon it will end
And once it has vanished, it will not come again
So let us love with a love pure and strong
Before this day is gone
This day is fleeting when it slips away
Not all our money can buy back this day
So let us pray that we might be a friend
Before this day is spent
This day we’re given is golden
Let us show love
This day is ours for one moment
Let us sow love
This day is frail – it will pass by
So before it’s too late to recapture the time
Let us share love, let us share God
Before this day is gone
Before this day is gone
What lessons have you learned about spending your time wisely? What are your greatest struggles in dealing with time? Please join in the conversation by leaving a comment….I’m sure there is another woman struggling who can really benefit from what you have to say
Would you like to join our email list and get Wednesdays for Women and other inspirational blogs in your email? Please sign up to join our email list.