My Grief Journey—45 Days In
When you ask me how I’m doing, I’ll probably say, I’m doing okay. But in these grieving posts you’ll get a clearer picture of my journey through grief.Read More...
An author sharing her life in the only way she knows how…
When you ask me how I’m doing, I’ll probably say, I’m doing okay. But in these grieving posts you’ll get a clearer picture of my journey through grief.Read More...
I almost didn’t make it to church today. It was my plan to attend service and assist the Trustees, the ministry I serve on, with our first dinner sale of the year. I was up early enough to bake the last pan of chicken that I was making for the dinners. Then I decided to do some Yoga. Before I started the video on demand I decided to take an anti-anxiety medication recently prescribed by my doctor. I’d noticed the last couple of days my mind was all over the place preventing me from going to sleep. However, before I made it to the second Yoga position in the video, I could hardly hold myself while on my hands and knees. I didn’t get it. One minute I was fine, the next I felt like I was going to throw up or fall out. When I went back into my bedroom, I realized I’d made a terrible mistake. I’d taken a strong sleep-aid medication!
Barely able to sit up straight on my Yoga mat, there was no way I could drive to church or stay awake long enough watch the chicken in the oven. I called my daughter, explained everything and she, of course, agreed to step in and take the chicken to the church. I was disappointed but safety first. After setting the timer on the stove and my phone for extra coverage, I laid down on the couch, falling in and out of sleep until the both the timers sounded.
By the time my daughter arrived home, I was up and drinking a cup of coffee. She was more than relieved when I told her that I was good to go. She didn’t need to make the church run for me. Win-win.
I made it to church in time to assist my ministry team with setting everything up and participate in communion, our first Sunday of the month tradition. On the way to the sanctuary, a young man walked through the doors of the fellowship hall. He was grumbling, clearly upset. With earphones around his ears I figured he was talking on the phone but his conversation was disturbing.
“I can’t stand these church people. They’re so fake. They always have something to say.” He was fighting back tears. The other trustee and myself couldn’t help but stop and try to determine if he was talking to us or someone else, or if he needed help. When the other trustee probed, the young man pretty much repeated himself. She told him to come on back in the church. As the three of us got closer to the door he said something like every time he tries to get closer to God that these people always talking stuff to him, being hypocrites.
Considering this church has been my church home since I was a teenager. I wanted to know who had said something to offend this young man, and what, but this was not a time for nosey inquiries. Instead of asking questions, I found my voice to speak the truth that was swirling around in my head as he was complaining.
“Honey,” I said like he was my son. “Every time you move closer to God, trying to live the way God wants you to, this is exactly what satan does. He uses, most times those closest to you or those who you’d least expect, to push all of your buttons and run you in the opposite direction of God. When that happens, just ask God to help and bless the offending person and go on about your day.” The young man appeared to feel some relief. He thanked me, then opened the door for myself and the other trustee–like a perfect gentleman–and the three of us made our way into the sanctuary.
Over the years there have been plenty of situations when I’ve been in the company of people expressing challenging life situations. But unlike today I remained silent not feeling it was my place to say anything. However, as a Christian, speaking up, is exactly what we are called to do. Notice I didn’t say as a Minister, Evangelist, or Deacon. Titles have nothing to do with spreading the word of God.
Believe me, I understand the fear and apprehension of speaking up in those situations. You’re likely to think that you don’t know enough, that your understanding is not deep enough, you don’t know the book, chapter, or verse of scripture of any verse to reference what you want to say. That’s how I was and still am more often that I care to admit.
What’s changed, though, is my desire for God to use me in the way He desires to. In recent years, I’ve been praying for understanding of His word and asking Him to use me to be a blessing to others as He sees fit. That’s a good place to start.
I didn’t wake up this morning planning to encourage anyone in the Lord. In hindsight, though, I have to wonder if my mistakenly taking that sleeping-aid medication was a plan of satan to keep me home, thus preventing me from encountering that young man today. Well…not today devil.
Let the church say Amen!
On the first Sunday at my church, we partake of communion, do baptism, and have a time for God-glorifying testimony. Today, I was supposed to be sharing my own testimony of how God delivered on His promise of meeting my need and desire for my new house. But things didn’t work out quite how I thought. We didn’t close last week, as scheduled. Nothing on my end, but the sellers. I was pretty distraught to say the least. Spent most of the week, trudging through the days that I was supposed to be excited about closing eating junk food.
“What’s up with this Lord?”, I asked my God. “I did everything You asked. I prayed. I sought guidance. I walked in faith, even writing the date of September 1st as the date we’d be moving from our apartment on a vision board of sorts in my bedroom. Closing was set for August, 30th. How could it NOT happen?
Over those days that I held back tears while eating sugar and salty foods, I felt like a fool. Wishing I had never mentioned the move to anyone. Wishing I’d never gotten my hopes up.
Then I thought about the story of Job. The story of satan and God talking about that good, God-fearing man Job, who God knew to be faithful. That man who satan told God would break, turn against God if he could just have his way with him. God allowed satan to do everything to destroy Job except kill him. All to test Job’s faith.
I figure that’s what’s happening with me. This is a test of my faith. Am I going to doubt what God has for me because it didn’t happen when I wanted it to. Who am I to tell God when this deal is supposed to happen, when my family is going to move.
It’s not about my will, but His. My role is to trust that it will be at the appointed time and to walk in faith, which is of the thing hoped for and not seen. So guess what? We’re still packing and preparing for the move to come!
Til Next Time,
For the last few weeks, maybe more, I’ve been participating in this Victory Prayer Line conference call on Sunday mornings. One of my sorority sister’s is the event moderator and had been posting it on her FB page. Finally one day I told her that I wanted to join but kept forgetting when the morning came. She was kind and enterprising enough to schedule a reminder text and automatic phone call for me a few minutes before the calls. Talk about no more excuses. The first call I joined I was in serious need of prayer. If memory serves me correctly, my husband and I had had an issue and I asked for prayer for him and our marriage. I’ve been joining since then with a missed call once or twice in between.
The calls are different than what I expected. I thought it was going to be an hour of prayer. That’s how the intercessory prayer line at my church operates. These calls, however, include 30 minutes of teaching followed by 30 minutes of intercessory prayer. The ministerial staff alternate teaching and any of them volunteer to pray for whatever was requested on the call.
Like I said, I’ve missed a call or two. I would have missed more but the Holy Spirit interceded. Each time that happened, the teaching that went forth was exactly what I needed. One time the teaching was on forgiveness and the day before I was hurt and disappointed with my sister and was struggling with wanting to hold on to anger. The next time it was about overcoming fear and walking in God’s purpose.
It happened again this morning. I was so tired from not getting enough sleep last night and tossing and turning worried about my hair which I’d just gotten done that morning. My phone was somewhere under the covers. I knew that phone call was coming in a minute and I debated if I wanted to join. At 7:58 the call came in.
I’m not feeling it this morning, I groaned in my head but reached for the phone anyway and answered.
The prophetess teaching this morning stating that the Lord put it on her heart to teach about the gift of speaking in tongues. And how the gift is for any of God’s children who want it because the Holy Spirit already belongs to His children.
I would have fell off the bed if I was close enough to the edge, my spirit was so moved. This was nothing but the Lord confirming my desire. I have been wanting the gift of tongues for quite some time but I haven’t been steadfast in pursuing that desire. Part of the reason is that I rationalize that I hadn’t received the gift because God didn’t intend for me to have it. I Cor 12: 7-11 goes through the gifts of the Spirit explaining that everyone doesn’t have the same gifts. I took that to mean that having the gift of speaking in the Spirit (tongues) wasn’t something that I needed. Nevertheless, I’ve always known that power exists in speaking in the Spirit and I want that power in my prayer life.
The teaching was awesome and just what I needed. For a minute I was scared because she said at the end of the call she wanted everyone on the call to speak in tongues. And I was thinking, “Oh Lord. Did you hear what she said? Are you down with that?”
Nervous, tuned into the teaching, familiar with all the verses of scripture that she referenced. While she taught and as prayer went forth at the end of the teaching session, I prayed for God to remove the fear and any other inclination preventing the manifestation of this gift within my Spirit. I am guilty of wondering how others will view me, specifically my kids and my husband, even my church members. “Lord, help me”, I said throughout the call.
Before the end of the call, another prophetess solicited for anyone who wanted that gift to speak up so that prayer could be given over them and I did. Admittedly, I was scared to speak up. Scared to openly admit that I was lacking something that I wanted and they all had it. Plus, I feared them trying to force it but they didn’t. They prayed over my desire for it, declared that it would be in the name of Jesus, and shared their experiences for being where I am. I appreciated it. My assignment for net week’s call is to positive report on my testimony of receiving the manifestation of the gift that already resides in me. So for the rest of the week, I’ll be praying, fasting, and opening my mouth for that gift to pour out.
What are you expecting from God in the immediate future? Share in the comments below.
This morning started like many Sunday mornings. My husband, Kevin and son, Nate lay sleeping while I walk around our home assessing all that didn’t get done on Saturday. Folded clothes that need to be put away. Clutter from the week spread across the dining room table. And finally my favorite place–the kitchen, which seems to never be free from something I need to do.
You should stay home and get all of this together, is usually the first thought. Honestly, if I wasn’t on duty in my church’s trustee office, I’d be very likely to follow that suggestion.
Now last night our family had a trip to the emergency room. Kevin, who suffers with a lung disease has a cold and feared it was becoming the pneumonia, which could turn deadly for him. We left our home at 8 p.m. and didn’t get home until nearly 11 p.m.
Late night, right? Another excuse to skip out on church.
You need to look after your husband. Never mind that he’s sleep and will probably be sleep until I get home. Then my mind travels to Nate, who hung out with us in the emergency room. He was resting so peacefully.
Maybe you should let him stay home. That way Kevin won’t be alone and he can start on this cleaning up and finish him homework.
On the surface that seemed like a good idea. After all, I wouldn’t be sitting in the sanctuary with Nate. I would be in the trustee office, working. And, it would be very helpful if he got started on the ample housework that needed to be done.
Interestingly, though, I didn’t consider these option on Saturday when he had a bowling match to get to. Not one time did the thought cross my mind to skip the bowling match so that he could finish homework or clean up the house. I promise you…not one time. So what makes Sundays so darn tempting to want to relax, sleep in, or catch up on housework instead of going to church?
Actually, whether it’s Saturday, Wednesday, or any other day that you are choosing to be pleasing to God, the enemy will swiftly begin whispering all of the other things that you could be doing. And they’ll be spot on. But scripture indicates that the flesh and spirit are in constant conflict.
“The spirt indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38 NKJV)
None of us are immune. Throughout the week, my car radio is tuned to Christian programming. I listen to preachments and Christian centered talk shows throughout the day. I read Christian books, and of course, my bible. All of this to feed my spirit, my longing to know more about God, and grow deeper in my relationship with Him.
Some may think that on Sunday mornings, I’m one of the first ones at the church doors. I have my times when my flesh is working overtime against my spirit.
But the more I seek God, the more the enemy and my flesh try to interfere. It’s a cycle that won’t end until our Lord Jesus Christ returns. Reminds me of an old school gospel song, “I’m on the battle field for my Lord.”
That’s exactly what it is…a battle. One in which we already have the victory! Now, that’s comforting. Nevertheless, choosing to follow Jesus Christ is a daily requirement.
I’m glad to report that I followed the willingness of my spirit and went to church. And I dragged my son out of the bed to go, too. “Train up a child in the way that he should go.” Right? When I came home, my husband was sleeping peaceably. Within a few short hours, we enjoyed brunch, Nate finished his homework, and some of that housework got done.
I couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday. Hope you enjoyed yours too.
Very early in my relationship with the man I eventually married, he disclosed a medical condition that he was diagnosed with some five years earlier. Dermatomyositis, a rare inflammatory disease, in which symptoms include muscle pain, muscle tenderness, fatigue, and possible lung problems. After being treated for the symptoms he was experiencing at the time, he became symptom free and disproved the claim by the doctor that he’d be in a wheelchair within five years. Fast forward another five years, symptoms returned, likely ignited from the constant travel he was doing with his job. Fast forward another few years and now he’s been diagnosed with a life threatening lung disease for which there is known cure. The week of Christmas his lung doctor informed us that she doesn’t foresee him qualifying for the lung transplant that he needs to save his life in time before the disease ends his life. She advised us to call Hospice for Palliative Care.
Merry Christmas, right?
By God’s grace we still had a wonderful holiday. We hugged more, gazed into each other’s more. Reminisced on our time together. No matter what had transpired between us throughout the years, we always enjoyed holiday time with our families. Since it could be his last Christmas with us, my husband dazzled us in the kitchen: corned beef and cabbage, pot roast and carrots, crablegs. Everything was delicious!
“You could’ve been doing this all the time, SIR.” I said with a wide grin on my face but very serious.
My husband is standing toe to toe with his mortality. In turn, that means I am too. Over these last several months that we’ve been dealing with my husband’s health challenges, he has said too many times than I care to count, “I’m dying, Char.” “I might not be here tomorrow.” Specifically during this holiday season, “This might be my last (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve).
The stinging in my heart is always the same and so is my response. “Honey, tomorrow is not promised to any of us. We have to enjoy and be blessed in this day that we’ve been given.”
“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalms 118:24 KJV)
“Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matt 6:11 KJV)
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought of the things of itself.” (Matt 7:34 KJV)
God gives us our lives in daily increments. Not weeks, months, and years. In our human nature, giving little thought to the many possibilities of death that we face in the world every day, we make plans for the future. Our short term and long term goals. Where we our next home to be or our next car. Where we’re going to vacation to next summer. In just this first few days of 2016, some people already have the entire year planned out.
It’s nothing wrong with being hopeful for the future, but God’s message to us is clear. We only have today, right now. Not five minutes, not an hour, not five hours from now. Right now. Anything else that follows is God’s grace.
So although my husband is dealing with this life threatening disease, I encourage him (and myself and friends and family) to live each day as though it were our last. Because it could be. I thank God each day that I wake up. I thank Him the same for my loved ones and friends and I encourage you all to do the same.
On this first Sunday of 2016, I say “HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
On the drive home from my son’s school about a week ago, I asked him how his day had gone? I asked the same question everyday but this day, as he’d left his backpack at home, I was particularly interested in how he’d gotten along since I couldn’t and wouldn’t go home to get it. A middle school student needed to learn from their mistakes.
Anyway, the story of his day unfolded quickly. I was listening, excited at his excitement. Then he got to what would be my favorite part of the story.
“And, Ma. I was so lucky in Ms. Boykin’s class. She usually reviews our notes from the day before and I was so scared because I didn’t have mine. I didn’t want her yell at me. But guess what?” He gushed.
“What?” I said on time.
“She started a whole new lesson so I didn’t even need my old notes!”
I was happy for him. Glad that his day of unpreparedness hadn’t been as bad as he thought it was going to be, but I was happier for what the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear. “Teach him.”
“No baby.” I transitioned smoothly. “That wasn’t luck. That was God working things out for your good.”
A quizzical expression crossed his face so I expounded. “God is always working things out for the good of those who believe in Him, even children. You leaving your backpack at home could have made for a bad day at school but God saw fit to turn it around for your good. What happened today is also a testimony for you as to how God works in your life.”
He nodded understanding and the conversation for the ride home came to an end. My heart was warm from the opportunity to teach my son about God’s goodness and how it was evident even at his young age.
Proverbs 22:6 tell us to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he grows old, he will not depart from it.” I used to think this responsibility ended with taking my children to church on a regular basis, sometimes Sunday School, and teaching them right from wrong. As I’ve been growing spiritually over the last few years, the Holy Spirit has made it clear to me that it’s so much more than that. My children, and yours need to see you living a Christian life, must hear you speaking as a Christian should. And not in a holier than thou kind of way, either, because none of us are perfect. In fact, we’re far from it. Like the experience with my son, it’s even better when you can make God’s word relatable to their level of understanding when opportunities present itself.
I can’t wait for the next time! How are you training up your child? Share in the comments below.