Today marks the third anniversary since my mom’s death from glioblastoma, brain cancer.
In these three years, I have learned to navigate life around her memories rather than with her actively involved.
But today, grief came for a visit.
I didn’t argue with her, didn’t plead with her to stay away
Instead, I slumped down on my bathroom sink and let her linger. I wept tears of sadness, pain, and loneliness as she quietly stood beside me.
She said not a word but gently laid her hand on my back as I wept.
She reminded me that it’s better not to grieve alone and so gave me a break from my tears to go into the other room and find Cameron.
He was busy and I didn’t want to interrupt, but Grief reminded me that I needed him and that it was ok to ask for help. She reminded me also that he can’t read my mind and so I needed to speak.
I gently asked him if he could finish what he’s doing after I left for work. He said he could and looked at me.
I have learned that by expressing pain as anger, it only pushes people away and I desperately needed him to draw close, so I said quietly, “I need a hug today”
As he hugged me and I began to weep again, I managed to say, “My mom died three years ago today” and then allowed myself time to express the agony I was feeling over the loss of my mother.
He held me as I sobbed, tears flowing like a river down my face and onto his neck.
Grief is lingering with me as I go about my workday, but she isn’t being pushy about it. She was consoled this morning when I allowed her to come and sit with me and I with her. Together we mourned anew the loss of my mom.
By being open and asking Cameron to hold me in that moment, Grief backed away a little, took her hand off me and is allowing me to do my work.
I know she will come calling again. And I will allow her to sit with me for a while until we quietly go our separate ways.
There is no straight path to healing, and I am reminded of the quote (although I don’t know who said it first) “Grieving is the price we pay for having loved someone”. And I loved my mom. Still do.
So, I know that Grief will stop by again sometime for a visit.
Be sure to check out my page dedicated to Gaza's Christians.
Since working there in 2010, I have had the opportunity to give a seminar twice at a major missions conference in Vancouver, BC called MissionsFest.
Please read about the miraculous way God got me to Gaza and the abundance of miracles He poured into my path along all of my journey.
Look across the top navigation for Gaza's Christians and take a look!
I have started going to the gym in the mornings and I spend an hour on the stationery bike. I have decided (with the help of my kids) that it's time for me to take charge of my health and do my part to be a strong, healthy and happy human being.
It is so important to realize that when, in 1 Cor 10:13, we are told to "do all for the glory of God", that means everything, including how we manage our health. I feel a bit ashamed that it has taken me this long to see the eternal importance of being a good steward of ALL of my resources, including this physical form God made for me, but I am happy that I'm here now.
Back to the gym.... While I am spending my hour on the bike, I use that time to pray. I pray for those who are on my prayer list and I also pray for whatever God leads me to pray for.
Yesterday, as I was praying, I was moved to ask God to give me direction and insight. We've now been in this Covid world for 6 months and I am also 2 weeks since having a surgery that I'd been waiting about 9 months for. It is time to move forward. But where? And how?
So I prayed and left the answer to God.
Today, a friend called me. I had met Svein at Missions Fest where I spoke earlier this year. It was a providential meeting as he is involved in Open Doors ministries and I also have a heart for persecuted believers. We have kept in touch via Facebook and I so appreciate his Godly passion also for persecuted believers.
We have corresponded over the year on a few matters, and then a few days ago, he asked if he could call me. Of course I said yes.
I had no idea that this phonecall was going to be God's answer to my prayer of yesterday. As Svein and I spoke, he shared so many things and among them were 2 passages of Scripture. One from Luke 3:1-2 where, among all the important and wealthy people of the day, God chose John to be his messenger. John was an outsider who lived and dressed differently from other people. He definitely would not blend seamlessly into crowds of people in the cities. Svein's reference was so poignant to me because I too live differently from a lot of other people. I don't live in a house or an apartment. I live in an RV and my only wish is that I could be more mobile, not less. I am not wealthy and do not keep up with new fashions.
Of all the Biblical characters that could have been referenced in our conversation, John is one I can relate to very well. I cried tears of gratitude as Svein talked about God choosing John. If God would choose an oddball like John, surely He could also choose an oddball like me!
So often I feel inadequate, ill equipped, unworthy to be called to anything great in God's kingdom and yet, today, I was reminded of who John was and yet he was specifically chosen.
My heart is full of joy, gratitude and hope as I know that I am someone that God can use for his amazing purpose.
The next passage that Svein referenced was Jeremiah chapter 1. Jeremiah thought he was too young to be used by God but God's reply was to ask Jeremiah what he saw in front of him and then God went on to explain his meaning and message for Jeremiah by these simple items that Jeremiah saw.
When God calls us, he will inform us of his purpose through what is already around us. He meets us where we are to take us to where he wants us to go.
What do I see in front of me? God can speak to me and show me the next leg of this journey for me by simply opening my eyes to what's around me.
Look around, Linda. What do you see?
Thank you, my friend, for being faithful in making that call to me today and for being faithful in speaking the message that God gave you for me.
I am, as always, humbled, inspired and blessed that God goes to the trouble to reach down to me to answer my prayer.
As I said on the phone, I have no idea why God is so good to me but I am grateful that he is.
And I am grateful for this wonderful answer today to yesterday's prayer.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”
As I was going for my daily walk through a local forest with my friend, I saw a tree. It was more of a tree within a tree, or a tree within a stump, really. It caught my attention because it made me think of how God is with us.
The stump is dead but there is new life growing right up out of it!
How often do you feel that something you needed has died? Maybe you never did get that relationship you wanted, or the job? Maybe that goal that you are sure will finally make you happy just seems to stay a little out of reach, or the life you once had crumbled away in a death or divorce.
Now what? We often feel like we have failed at life, failed in our walk with God, failed our children, failed completely as a parent, a spouse, a….. fill in the blank.
The part of us that we were has died and it’s easy to think there is no way forward after that. It’s easy to think there is certainly no way to victory after that!
But God – those two words are always the game changer! What does God say? “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”
We often brush off God’s promise in this area. “But I messed up too much! I failed too completely for God to ever be interested in me!”
But look at what He says – “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past” Oh what comfort there is to be found in those words!
We all have a past and for some of us, that past haunts us, tapping us on the shoulder way too often to remind us of our failures. “Do not dwell on the past”. God knows our past, He knows our every thought and every deed and yet He instructs us to not dwell on the past.
He knows that’s not good for us. He knows that dwelling on the past will only hold us back from future blessings and fulfillment.
We will never enjoy living in today’s victory if we insist on seeing ourselves through the lens of yesterday’s failures.
Look at this tree. The stump isn’t even reduced to soil yet but that new tree is shooting up, strong and tall! The ground is fertile – period. So it is with God working in our lives. He doesn’t wait until we are utterly defeated and beaten down into dust. God can bring new growth, new life, new opportunities at any time! Do not dwell on the past.
That tree doesn’t mourn the loss of what it originally intended. That part is gone. Caput. The stump is still standing and God has already brought about amazing growth in the new story.
Don’t worry if there are still memories of your past failures. Those don’t need to get in the way of God’s new blessings!
He is doing a new thing! Did the tree hold back the new growth because it was intent on dwelling on the past? Not at all! The new growth pushed up through the remnants of the past and carried on to new heights!
Take heart, my friend. God is doing a new thing in you too. Look up and reach forward and let Him unfold new opportunities for you.
Enjoy the new blessings.
“being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
"And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 Berean Study Bible
God works – these are two of the most important words for me to remember when I don’t understand what’s going on around me.
Since COVID-19 shut down “normal”, I have been doing grocery shopping and delivery for people who cannot or should not venture out into public places. I love what I do, knowing that I am providing a helpful service to the people of my community.
There are those moments, however, when things don’t go as planned. Not as I planned, anyways.
This morning, I decided to confine my work to a specific community in order to save money on gas. This community is not one where I get a lot of work, and yet I had an unmistakable urge to focus my service there.
My second client only wanted a few things from a store that sells all premade food frozen in easy to use portions.
I had to substitute an item for this client but everything was approved and I was able to complete the purchase and began making my way to the client’s home to deliver their order.
I was part way there when they messaged me, questioning one of their items. They told me they didn’t want it. This had never happened before so I had to check on how to handle the situation.
I quickly got back to the client, assuring him that I will return the item and that he needn’t worry about it.
When an item needs to be returned, there is always the possibility that the store won’t take it back, so I was instructed to either dispose of it or donate it. I couldn’t bring myself to dispose of a perfectly good cake so I asked myself who I could donate it to.
Suddenly, one of my friends came to mind. She lived in the city I chose to focus on and she has a family of boys so I was sure a cake would go quickly!
I called her and asked her if I could drop something off, not telling her what it was. She invited me to come without hesitation.
When I arrived, I handed her the delicious cake and told her the story of how I came in possession of it.
Then we started to talk. It turned out that my dear friend was struggling due to the isolation that has been imposed upon her by this virus situation.
We stood and talked and I listened to her agony and frustration.
We ended the conversation with a plan go for walks together to tackle her isolation and my need for exercise.
God is SO good! Only God could have directed me to choose to work in a community where I don’t normally get enough work to have an acceptably profitable day.
But God knew what His plan was. He put a cake in my hands that needed a place to go and God knew which friend needed a visit today so He put her name in my mind and spurred me to call her.
It is so humbling and heartwarming to be used by God to encourage someone who needed encouragement.
When I see how God loves my friend, and today used me to show His love to her, I can see how much He loves me too. It is such a blessing to be part of this community that God has given me.
Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
The Bible says that God works all things together for the good of those who loves Him. And God showed me again today what that looks like in simple, everyday moments.
Yesterday, as I was sitting at home for my second week due to this coronavirus, I found myself wondering how I would make ends meet while I waited for the emergency benefit funds to be deposited. We have not been given any clear dates so there is no way to plan during this period. I was feeling unnerved and unsteady.
As I contemplated the uneasiness in my heart, I realized that this is not what God wants for me, this is not what God makes available for me every second of every day.
So I started praying, and my mind was flooded with the memory of when I was in a coma in 2010. I remember in one of my dreams (visions? hallucinations? I'll never know) I was in a room at the bottom of a staircase, like a vestibule.
I could hear voices upstairs and it sounded like there was a large committee having a meeting. I could hear the consistent voice of the chairman asking for reports from the committee members. Each member was evidently responsible for a different crisis point in the world.
Each member was asked what the need was in their area and they would give a report of the nature of the crisis, then end the report with the amount of funds that would be required to meet that need.
Without hesitation, the chairman would call out to the treasurer (apparently) to instruct the treasurer to forward the amount asked for to that member to address the need they were overseeing.
I remember listening in amazement. This committee had immeasurable wealth. There were no probing questions asked when the amount needed was presented. The only question was "How much?", never "Why so much?"
As I lay there listening to this intriguing meeting, I felt an overwhelming calm wash over me. I didn't know who was upstairs but I realized that I was in their care! My every need would be met. I had nothing to fear as I was in the best care possible.
Suddenly, a line from an old hymn popped into my head "He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and He will care for me"
Those were God's own agents meeting upstairs! And they were who was taking care of me!
I thanked God for this amazing miracle and the comfort I experienced as a result.
God, who has infinite resources was in charge of me, even as I lay in a coma, in a hospital bed. I breathed deep and relaxed. Everything would be okay.
As I contemplated my situation yesterday, I realized that all I was wondering about was money. I was not in a coma nor was I suffering from a deadly illness.
Once again, "He owns the cattle on a thousand hills" came, like a spring breeze, through my troubled thoughts and I smiled. My Lord owns everything and has everything. He knows my need and He has unlimited resources. Immeasurable resources.
Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen
I suddenly found myself celebrating God's goodness. I am still in His care!
Then another verse shone through - Phil 4:19 - "For my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
I didn't have to hope or imagine just how amazing God is! I can remember specifically how He cared for me when I was completely helpless. He came through in a huge way and He can be trusted to come through again.
My prayers turned into joyful praise, thanking God for His goodness to me.
With my mind and heart at peace, I no longer carried that concern. I left it in the hands of my Heavenly Father.
Today, I unexpectedly received a letter from my employer, letting me know that I was dismissed without cause, effective immediately, and so, as provided by the law, he would give me 2 weeks' pay in lieu of notice.
God has, again, met my need! This money will hold me over while I am waiting for the emergency benefits to be rolled out.
Also, that letter frees me mentally to move forward, to make plans and to take action without wondering if I will be interrupted with a call back to work.
Below you will find the comforting words of the hymnist as inspired by Psalm 50:10. Sing along if you remember the tune and know that our God really does own the cattle on a thousand hills - and everything else. Put your trust in Him, for He, alone, never fails!
Oh, how I am comforted by these words! Jesus, who knows the end from the beginning, who knew that raising Lazarus from the dead was the plan all along, wept because he was so deeply moved by the grief of the people who were mourning their loss.
But let’s rewind…
Jesus had gotten word that Lazarus was sick but by the time he got to Bethany, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for 4 days.
Jesus intentionally delayed his arrival because he know what miraculous outcome was in store.
When Lazarus’ sister, Martha, heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him and, of course, the first thing she said was, “If you’d been here, he wouldn’t have died” Then she added, “but I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Wow – there it is. Martha expressed her pain to Jesus first. She even sounds like there was an edge to her voice, because she knows (and she knows that Jesus knows) that her brother’s death could have been prevented. Then she follows with a beautiful statement of faith, even in her grief. Martha declared that she knows that anything is still possible!
Her brother was dead and buried, and yet, she still had hope! How many of us look at the apparent finality of our situation and think it’s over? How many of us dare to hope?
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1)
Martha’s statement of faith in the face of such finality is inspiring. “But I know”. That’s the key. Life brings us agonies, disappointments, losses and, sometimes, pandemics and we find our hearts crying out, “Lord, if you had been here…” When the situation looks bleak and final, my friends, that is the time to remember what we know, rather than to just think about how we feel.
“But I know that, even now, God will give you whatever you ask.” Whatever you ask! Nothing is so final that God doesn’t still have the last word. Herein lies our hope, our faith and our reason to rejoice.
Then it gets even better.
Jesus tells Martha that her brother will rise again and she, like many of us, accepts this to be a spiritual truth. (I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day) Yes, we have this glorious hope! For the follower of Jesus, death is not final. It is not the last chapter. We will rise again to be in Heaven eternally.
But that’s not what Jesus was referring to and his response is powerful.
Martha said, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection” and Jesus replied, “I am the resurrection and the life”
WOW! I don’t know if those words made Martha confused as to their meaning or if she felt a bit faint as those words sunk in. I think it was the former.
Jesus went on to say, “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Again – WOW! Powerful words to a woman whose brother lay dead in a tomb, but again, Martha replied with faith and hope.
“Yes Lord”, she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world”
Martha’s faith and hope in Jesus were sustaining her in her grief but she was still focused on the spiritual aspect of Jesus’ purpose. She didn’t seem to be catching the very practical application of what he was saying. How many of us do that?
We are unwavering in our faith in Jesus for our salvation and our hope of Heaven but don’t quite make the connection to Jesus’ work in the here and now.
Jesus tells us of miracles he is giving us in our lives today but we miss it because we think in terms of him being “out there” when he is actually “right here”.
We don’t see any evidence of further explanation to Martha regarding Lazarus because the next thing we know, Martha tells Mary that Jesus wants to speak to her. It is clear from Mary’s response that Martha did not understand that Jesus was about to bring her brother back to life because, when Mary approached Jesus, she also said, “If you’d been here, my brother would not have died.”
How often do we linger in our pain when Jesus has already revealed his miracle for us because we continue to focus on our feelings rather than on him?
Everyone was still in mourning. Keep in mind, Jesus had already told Martha that he would raise Lazarus (I am the resurrection). He was there and that’s all they needed, but Martha had not understood, or else I’m sure she would have told Mary. Instead, Mary expresses her pain and disappointment to Jesus, “If only you’d been here”.
And how does Jesus respond? He doesn’t get defensive (But I told Martha!) He doesn’t scold the sisters for their grief. He doesn’t suggest that their sorrow shows a lack of faith. What does he do? He looks around at all the heartbroken people and he is “moved deeply in his spirit and troubled”.
What a beautiful picture of Christ’s compassion! He knew (and had known all along) that he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead but he did not let that disconnect him from the very real pain that Martha, Mary and their friends were feeling.
Jesus asked where they laid their brother BECAUSE HE WAS GOING TO RAISE HIM BACK TO LIFE, and yet, here we have the shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus wept. John 11:35. Two precious words that assure us that we are not alone in our sorrow, in our grief, in our losses and fears.
The God of Heaven, the Creator of the sun and moon and stars, of every living thing who ever was and ever will be, the God who created you and me, who knows the end from the beginning, was so deeply moved by the grief and pain of his friends and of their friends that he wept with them.
Even though he knew what he was about to do.
My friends, know that whatever is going on in your life right now, whatever is causing you sorrow or pain, fear or anxiety, the Almighty God, comes down and weeps with us. He does not belittle our tears. He shares in them. He participates fully with humanity while being fully God. And he weeps.
Take courage today. Jesus is here.
Shortly after arriving at work this morning, I received a message to say that, effective immediately, my office is closed down until further notice, due to this Covid-19, so now I’m off work.
I didn’t quit, although I’ve been thinking about doing so for months. I wasn’t fired either. My office had to close.
I have no idea how long I’ll be off but I would guess it will be at least 14 days. As soon as I got home, I counted my stock of cat food. 14 cans. Perfect.
I have been wanting to devote more time to writing and speaking but have felt trapped in the ongoing cycle of working at a full time job that pays enough to almost pay my bills, enough to make sure I keep showing up every Monday morning.
I have been spared that awkward conversation of giving my notice.
Now, I have the freedom I’ve been longing for and, in true Covid-19 protocol fashion, I have interests and activities that enable me to relish the chance to stay home for two weeks!
Now I have peace and quiet away from the rushing retail crowds that surround my workplace.
In the middle of the current public health crisis, I find myself being quietly handed a gift that I have been looking for for months.
God is good. Being sequestered from the rush and panic of the retail environment is exactly what I needed to regain my peace and balance.
Philippians 4:6-7 rings so very true.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Peace which transcends all understanding. Peace when peace doesn’t make sense. Peace in trying times. This peace that comes from God will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus, the safest possible place to be. At any time!
So, as I sit at home, making good use of the first few hours of this break, I am grateful that God pulled me away from the crowds and set his peace around my heart and mind so I can focus my thoughts on him, and let him fill my thoughts with whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.
In Jesus, God made the way to push out all our fear and anxiety and fill our minds and hearts with peace and beauty instead.
If ever there was a time we need a peace that transcends all understanding, this is it.
For today, turn your focus to God and let him guard you with his wonderful peace.
One day at a time.
Vs 29-31 Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. But when he saw the wind he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out “Lord, save me!” Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith”, he said, “why did you doubt?”
The world is in the middle of a storm right now. Fear is creeping in, as is confusion and uncertainty. I find myself struggling to know how to respond. I am someone who does not have the means to stock up on food and supplies. I am also someone who doesn’t need much. As I look around and read various reports on the severity of and best course of action for the pandemic, I find myself unsure of the right answer.
How are you doing with sorting through all the swirling information? Some people are stoic enough to ignore it. I am not. I am wondering so many things.
And then I thought of Peter. In a boat during a storm. I’m sure he was afraid that it would kill him. He could see Jesus out in the waves but he wasn’t exactly sure so he called out to Jesus and said that if it was really him, to call for Peter to come to him.
We want to check and be sure we are actually following Jesus before we step out from the familiar. (I didn’t say “step out from safety” because the boat was obviously not safe, but it was certainly more familiar than stepping out onto the waves!)
Jesus uttered a single word, “Come”. He didn’t try to cajole Peter, didn’t get offended by Peter’s question (What do you mean, “IF” it’s me???), didn’t offer more than Peter was asking. Peter said, “If it’s really you, tell me to come.” Jesus said, “Come.”
And with that, Peter stepped out of the boat.
How many times do we boldly step up, full of faith and enthusiasm, fulling intending to follow through? Then what happened? What changed?
Did the storm get worse? Did Jesus disappear? Did Peter suddenly realize he’d stepped out of the boat? Nope. To all three.
The only thing that changed was that Peter changed his focus. He focused on the storm rather than on Jesus. He focused on the problem rather than the solution.
(more on this another day)
Even so, as soon as Peter sank, (Oh boy! Do I ever know how that feels!) the text says that Jesus “reached out his hand.” It doesn’t say that Jesus “ quickly ran to where Peter was last seen”, “reached out his arm” or “his two hands” to grab Peter! Let that sink in.
Peter got distracted and afraid when he was close enough to Jesus that Jesus needed only to “reach out his hand” to rescue Peter. Jesus didn’t scold Peter for his lack of faith until AFTER he was safely back on his feet. And what had Peter prayed to summon such a hasty response? Was it a long, religious sounding prayer full of very righteous sounding phrases? Not even close! Peter was sinking in a storm! He cried out, “Lord, save me!” and IMMEDIATELY Jesus grabbed him!
My friends, when you feel afraid because the storm has distracted you, when you feel you are sinking beneath the waves of overwhelming information, there is no shame in crying out for help. Jesus is right there, no judgement, no hesitation, no distance. Words as simple as “Lord, save me” are all it takes and he will pull you back up from the turmoil and restore peace to your troubled mind.
Jesus is with us whether in calm or in storm and when you find yourself distracted and afraid, let him remind you that he continues to be right with you and will hold you throughout this storm.
Being a wave watcher will only lead to feeling overwhelmed and afraid. Keep your eyes on the one who can rescue us from the waves and find your peace in him.
Linda blends warmth, wisdom and humour into every presentation. Enjoy the ride!