Recognition of Healing

This is the third part in a series that began with “God’s Abundance or My Scarcity” and continues with “To Trust or Worry.” Thank you for joining during this busy time of year!

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I sat with two long-time friends in the surgical waiting room earlier this week as a third friend underwent surgery to remove a cancerous kidney. She’d just lost her husband about two months ago, and the worry on her son’s face reflected his fear that mom might be next, all too soon. As I sat, my mind and emotions occasionally drifted to another cancer surgery about eleven years ago that didn’t end well, and I prayed for her restoration.

The three of us women chatted quietly, enjoying one another’s company. Every once in a while one of us looked over at Mike, and then at the clock as time ticked hour past hour, concern etching more than his face. Finally the surgeon arrived and gratefully reported  her cancer seemed contained and she’d taken the surgery well. Mike’s countenance brightened, and our hearts lightened.

I told my friend I’d greet her after surgery, so after my companions left, Mike and I began to converse softly, moving time more quickly from recovery to a welcome glance at her face.

Finally we heard, “You can go see your mom. Her room is on the sixth floor.” The sixth floor…where I met my husband’s co-workers as they shared with me fond memories of years working with him. The sixth floor…where I waited to hear Norman’s last breath. The sixth floor…where I nestled next to Norman for the last time. I hated the sixth floor. Yet, that was where my friend waited for me.

As I stepped off the elevator, sadness seeped into my soul as I turned and faced the well-known small suite to the left of the elevator and across the hall. I stood in the middle of the hallway and stared into the room. My eyes immediately noted a man bent over, familiar lines etching his face as he sat quietly in that chair, leaning his weary head on one arm. The otherwise dimmed room was lit by only one lamp casting a spotlight on his bent forehead. I remembered. And inside I wept once more.

Only this time the sadness didn’t overwhelm, and I realized the healing God has performed over time. It’s too easy to assume healing does eventually occur. Yet, my healing has been long delayed. Only a couple of years ago, during visit to the sixth floor, I needed to leave after about 45 minutes, too overwhelmed with emotion to stay.

Only a year ago, the thought of visiting a friend with cancer was more than I could bear.

I don’t take God’s abundant gift of healing lightly. I’m very grateful. And today, I learned my friend’s stage one cancer was contained and so she’ll need no chemo. And I thank God.

I'm grateful for God's abundance in the face of my scarcity. Click To Tweet

As I faced my friend’s cancer surgery this week, I also remembered past Christmases filled with pain as I wondered what the next year would bring. If this is one of those Christmases for you, I’m so sorry.

If it would help, please jot me a note. Please download the gift, and I pray it will encourage you.

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May I also pray for you? 

Lord, we so long for this time of year to be carefree and beautiful. We long to hear the angels sing of a newborn king. We long to feel the warmth of making family memories. We long for our stories to replicate Hallmark. But life isn’t that way. For most of us. Yet, each of us are too afraid to speak out from the depths of our sorrows for fear we’ll upset someone else’s Merry Christmas. May this place, this moment, feel safe for others to grieve their pain.

Help us Lord Jesus to remember that your first Christmas was full of labor pains, rejected families, and outcast shepherds. Click To Tweet May we remember you came for such as us. And today let us embrace your abundance, in the middle of our cancer surgeries, and memories that make us sick inside, and the worries that news may not be so good. Jesus, help us remember that you are 'Emmanuel' God with us. You do care. And if we invite you in, we don't have to face this season, or any season alone. Click To Tweet

Thank you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

…His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3 (NASB)

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

With tender love,

Robin <3

Should you wish to comment privately, please use the form below. Otherwise, you are welcome to comment on the public forum.

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‘Jesus Every Day’ Book Review

Jesus Every Day Book Review@ En Courage www.rlseaton.comWhen at a Bible Study, come prayer time I often hear, “I can’t pray like so-and-so. They  pray so beautifully. You better ask someone else.” Fear so easily grips.

I’ve been sampling a new book out December 1 by Harvest House Publishers entitled, “Jesus Every Day” by author Mary E. DeMuth. Mary has her own blog ‘Restory,’ and is well-known for her prayers. So much that her readers begged her to write a devotion containing them. Her prayers are beautiful, not because they’re flowery and ‘religious’ but because they’re real and exemplify the simplicity of talking to God as though He were sitting across from us while we sip a cup of coffee. Yet because they point us to the One above all and able to answer every need, they are filled with the reverence, awe, and expectation He deserves. They are an exquisite mingling of the need of humanity and power of the Divine in everyday language.

Mary’s prayers speak of life’s emotions and daily experiences. Experiences bringing joy. Emotions crushing our souls. Moments leaving us perplexed. She isn’t afraid to tackle any topic as she’s faced both immense joys and tragic sorrows in her own life. She was repeatedly sexually abused as a child, and faced growing up in a dysfunctional family. She understands first-hand the sorrow of losing a dear friend. She’s suffered the grief of losing a close family member. Yet in all of this, she’s found a heavenly Daddy who knows her, and loves her relentlessly. And she’s learned first-hand God listens to and answers His kids, when they reach out to Him with their simple words.

Her daily devotion takes the reader through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, with a verse or small passage followed by a prayer. Each day is labeled ‘Day 1,’ ‘Day 2’, etc. so the book can be started any day of the year, and runs 366 days. Its simple beauty allows it to easily be given as a gift to a new believer as well as a seeker. For a more seasoned believer, it’s a wonderful addition to any daily Bible reading routine.

As of December 1, I invite you to purchase the book at any one of several venues, some of which are listed below for your convenience. I was given a 30-day sample to read, but was given nothing else for my review, other than the pleasure of reviewing the book. I also receive no benefit for offering you a link to the sights listed below.

Amazon   Christian Book Distributors  LifeWay  Barnes & Noble

(Barnes & Noble has only the e-book available as of this posting.)

Talk with you next week!

Robin <3

You may comment anytime publicly, but should you wish confidentiality, you may comment below:

 

Patiently Grow

Someone once said, “I never want how I write to interfere with the message God has given me to write.”

So true.

When Norman began cancer treatments in 2006, a friend introduced me to “CaringBridge“, an amazing site designed for families to keep friends and relatives informed through times of severe illness.  I found my near daily writings, and the comments received to be cathartic.  I could relate my thoughts and emotions as well as updates on Norman’s health to those I loved without the discomfort of being face to face. Those who read my posts often commented how much they appreciated being able to stay informed without having to ask me face to face and risk causing pain.  When we’d meet, they already knew, and so we could have “normal” conversation. CaringBridge was an amazing gift.

I carried on writing to my small following for about a year after Norman’s death, then had my site printed into a book, which I cherish to this day.  I don’t read it often, but in the back of my mind, I know it’s there, waiting should I wish to remember all God did during those months.  During this time, many commented on how much they enjoyed my writing, and encouraged me to pursue writing my story.

I wrongly thought when I finally began writing, because I was gifted, I was ready.

Babies are infused with all that is needed to grow and become adults, but it takes time and a lot of hard work to prepare them for what they were born to do – become fully functioning adults. I look back over my earlier blog posts and notice many imperfection. Mistakes today I try to avoid.

I’m growing.  Growing takes time.  For all of us.

I’m grateful for the many professional bloggers who share what they know through webinars and training material, giving me the ability to grow as a writer.

Jonathan Milligan, “Blogging Your Passion” (I find his material outstanding.)

Ruth Soukup “Elite Blog Academy” (A blogging friend highly recommends her material.)

Both offer free webinar training from time to time, as well as courses you can purchase to take you from beginning blogger to one who is able to monetize (have an income through blogging). Also, you may wish to look at the book I recommend in “Resources”.

Compel Training” by Proverbs 31 ministries is an online Christian writer’s guild, with a monthly fee to participate. I highly recommend them, as I gained immensely from my time as a member. They have a closed, limited membership with open enrollments throughout the year. They do this in order to maintain quality of service among their members. The fee for membership is about 25.00 a month, and covers member forums, weekly training in all aspects of writing, as well as opportunities to hear from published authors on a variety of topics. I went to the site recently, and they currently offer a free download, “Winning the Battle of Discouragement, 31 Lessons from Writers” for adding your name and email to their waiting list.

I chuckled when I read the title.

Write, and write, and learn from others.  Journal, write letters, blog – even when you are discouraged. Learn and grow. Never assume You’ve arrived.

And remember, God will use even babes, with all of their mistakes, as long as they are yielding to his process.

God has given us a gift and a calling as writers, but we must be willing to take the time needed to grow up.

While growing, we must also trust the God who called us to write will also complete the work he’s begun – bringing us to the place he has for us as writers.

My job is to persevere and not give up.  His way, his time.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

p.s. You may also wish to read the first two posts in this series:

“Encouragement for a Weary Christian Blogger” and “Write for an Audience of One”

 

Encouragement For A Weary Christian Blogger

When we who love writing decide to venture into the blogging world for the first time, we may dream of the day our hits run into the hundreds, and our comment sections bulge because people thought our words worth reading. However, in growing as a blogger, I find that achieving these goals comes at the price of extremely hard work, sacrifice, and great patience.  Nothing is free.

When I began blogging, I had big dreams, and I still do.  But I’ve also had so much to learn.  Coming from an era where writers either wrote using a typewriter or a pencil; blogging has been an experience in learning a whole new language.  I had to figure out what “hashtag” and “widget” were, and for the longest time couldn’t explain the difference between a “category” and a “tag”.  I’m grateful for those who are a bit younger, and have very willingly taught me.

I’ve also had to grow as a modern writer.  Always writing in full sentences?  Nah! And overflowing wordiness… is… just… plain… too… time… consuming… in… our… 3… second… soundbite… world….

I still have a long way to go.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve found discouragement settling in. I often struggle with formulating titles, and had felt like I’d made a huge blunder with one of the “Grief” blogs’ titles a couple of weeks ago.  Also, later in the week, a friend who had read some of my blogs made a comment, setting up a whole series of questions in my mind and heart as to my ability as a writer…. Have you been there?

I love blogging, and I’m not winging in the least – so please forgive me if it sounds like I am.  Sometimes I just need to step back and re-evaluate my “Why”.

Something deep inside compels me to share God’s love story through written language. If I don’t write, the words swirling around inside my head and heart would burn until I “penned” them. I believe I have something important to say in a way no one else can.  These are the words God has given me.  He has given others words as well, but not these words, not this way.  This is my story.

I’ve read more than once recently, by both “Christian” and “Secular” writers that writing is a lonely occupation – and I find it to be very true.  Rarely do the masses of writers out there ever realize the numbers of those blessed by what they write.

I heard a Christian author state only in eternity will we truly know the full scope of our audience and how God used us in their lives.

I’m always so grateful for those who tell me they’ve read a post and how it effected them.

But aren’t these concerns really a microcosmic picture of life?  We often doubt our gifting, abilities, and even our calling by God.  We often forget in the middle of discouragement why we made certain choices to follow God’s leading in the first place. And we rarely fully realize the full scope of those we influence for good or bad along the way.

And how often do I let others know the myriads of ways in which I’m grateful for them?

Makes me want to be a bit more careful as to how I conduct my life, and to more often tell someone else “You mean so much to me”!

Because I’ve spent some time working through my own discouragement as a weary blogger in the last couple of weeks, I’d like to take the opportunity to share what I’ve pondered.  I hope in some way this series reminds you of your “why”.

I also hope you will join me with your thoughts and comments as I always love a good conversation!

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

p.s. If you find yourself discouraged, please jot me a note below – I’d love to be able to pray with you, and maybe we can encourage one another!

Also, if you want to read from other Christian bloggers, I’ve linked this post with #livefreethursday with the topic:  Summer Of Permission


Live Free Thursday

10 Tips to Help Work Through Grief

When I was living the worst of grief, there were several things that really helped me through.  All of us are unique, and so I don’t assume every suggestion will help.  Feel free to scan the list, and read only those portions that pertain to you.

  1. Be very careful with the use of medication and alcohol.  Grief doesn’t allow us to think most clearly, and so things we would normally never do, could become a problem.  One area I had to be particularly careful of was help in getting to sleep. Three to four times a week, I’d have a glass of wine to help me relax so I could more easily fall asleep.  I chose not to use alcohol nightly because I was afraid it could become a habit I’d later have to deal with.  I have heard of others becoming addicted to sleeping medication during this time. Talk with your doctor, but please don’t quietly self-medicate.
  2. Choose what fills your mind.  I had the radio tuned to my favorite Christian station almost 24 hours a day, playing softly in the background.  The words and soothing music kept me focused on truth, and helped me refocus more easily away from thoughts that could otherwise have plagued me.  Also, on many occasion, the Lord orchestrated a particular song to be played at just the right moment, embracing me with his love.20150626_203124
  3. Train your mind and “heart” to turn to Christ and his promises when panic about the future assails.  When fear and panic about the future would begin to plague my mind (usually at night or first thing in the morning), I would remind myself that I didn’t need to think about it right then. I would literally turn my thoughts and heart to focus on Jesus alone.  Forcing the thoughts of the future to take second place to facing Jesus Christ. It took time to train my brain to remain focused, and avoid the panic.  Tomorrow, I will share some verses that may help.
  4. Learn your body’s indicators of being over-stressed.  When I began to notice feelings of being unsettled and anxious, I eventually learned these were often indicators that I was spending too much time in activity in order to avoid grief. Learn your indicators.  If you aren’t certain, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you your personal indicators of a need to stop running and rest.20150626_210108-01
  5. Set aside time to rest. Resting is so much harder while grieving, because it gives our minds time to think.  Thinking causes pain, so we avoid resting.  Yet, our bodies need rest. They need down time to heal from the trauma caused by the grief. Also, so many of us have had a space of time prior to our loved one’s death where we were busy caring for them.  Our bodies, minds, and souls need time to rest and restore.
  6. Set aside time to grieve. This may seem obvious, but it isn’t.  We don’t want to feel pain, so we avoid grieving.  However, I am learning now, almost 9 years later – we will grieve.  If we avoid taking time to grieve now, the emotions will come out one way or another – and they may not come out in ways constructive to us or others if we refuse their release.  I’m not saying we can always choose the place or time we release emotions, that isn’t possible. But, I have found it helpful to ask God to orchestrate down time when I could grieve before him.  This became especially important when I began feeling as though I was becoming unsettled and anxious because of over-busyness.  Those God-orchestrated moments were special moments between us where I would wail and voice my pain, the tears washing and cleansing me on the inside.  A sense of release and relief always followed.20150701_202353-02
  7. Don’t rush the grieving process.  I have read it isn’t wise to make any major life decisions for at least a year. Our brains aren’t able to think clearly enough.  Even though the numbness, for me, lasted about 6 months, the second year was the hardest. Everyone’s timetable for grieving is different – so don’t assume another person’s timetable for yourself. However, I’d add, if you are several years into grief, and aren’t any closer to healing than the day of your loved one’s death – please consider professional counseling.  Getting stuck in grief isn’t what God want’s for your life!
  8. Don’t rush getting rid of your loved one’s belongings until you are ready (unless extenuating circumstances require it). This shouldn’t be decided by friends or family.  When I was ready (about 6-8 months into grief), it helped me to purposely choose organizations that would appreciate my husband’s things.  I took photos of his “collections” which made it easier to release them.  I also chose to keep several mementos, and gave away items to special friends and family members for them to remember him by, making this stage memorable and less difficult.  However, if it has been years since your loved one’s death, and you are still unable to get rid of their belongings, this may indicate you are stuck in grief and may need professional counseling to help you heal.20150701_185956-01
  9. Make use of local resources.  Hospice often has local grief groups.  I’ve mentioned GriefShare.  Also, a book that greatly helped me was “A Sacred Sorrow“, by Michael Card.  It taught me the gift of being able to “lament” or grieve openly before God, and his loving response to those who grieve.
  10. Finally, cling to Jesus and his people.  If you aren’t in a loving, supportive church home, find one.  My church family’s love and support during this time helped more than I can say.  Stay in his Word – even if you can only read a verse or two a day – the Psalms are wonderful.  A good devotion for this period of time for me was “Streams In The Desert“, as the daily readings were collected by Mrs. Charles Cowman, a woman acquainted with grief.

You may also wish to read:  “Happy Anniversary Dear“, “White Picket Fences

I have received no compensation of any kind for my recommendations. I am not a licensed counselor, so my recommendations are from experience alone, and not intended to be professional in any way.

I would love to know what has helped you work through grief.  Also, if you would like to share any prayer requests, or wish to talk, the form below allows you to contact me confidentially.

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

10 Common Effects of Grief On the Body

Grief changes you on the inside.  It causes you to shift priorities and see the world through new eyes.  That’s not a bad thing, but at the time, when grief is heavy, it can be overwhelming.  It isn’t just missing your loved one – it is an all encompassing, world changing, internal exploding event.

Yet, around you, life goes on and everyone seems to easily “forget” that which shifted your universe forever.

Grief is so life-altering, that it catches you off guard.  In the middle of grief, you may feel as if you are going crazy.  It’s scary.  But trust me, you aren’t – it’s just grief.

Those around you may think you’ve become irresponsible, distant, aloof, and even unpredictable.  They can’t understand what you are going through unless they’ve been there.  They’ll learn.

If you are in the middle of experiencing deep grief (and I’m not talking about the grief that comes when you are sad a few days), here are some things you may experience.

  • Feeling numb – A gift from God, to help our brain, emotions, and body deal with the stress of the loss.  For me, it lasted about 6 months, and I was grateful for it.  It lasts differing lengths for everyone.
  • Experiencing brain fog or forgetfulness – After my husband passed, I would forget dinner engagements with family and friends.  Not because I didn’t want to see them – my brain was so consumed with grief it literally couldn’t hold the information. Gary and I both experienced, after the death of our first spouses, times when we would suddenly forget normal events and have to be reminded, often.  We also each experienced moments where we’d be driving and suddenly realize we’d forgotten where we were going.

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  • Difficulty being in crowds – Even though I’m normally a fairly outgoing person, it was as if my brain was on overload, and the thought of being in a crowd overwhelmed me.  I loved going to church, as I could sit in a pew secluded with a friend and God.  It fed and soothed me, but going to a party where I’d be expected to mingle was more than I could take.
  • Difficulty in carrying on simple conversations – Having to listen and concentrate on a conversation for very long brought on feelings of panic.  My brain couldn’t handle it.

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  • Sudden intense emotion – Even months after our losses, both Gary and I noted that even small things would trigger deep emotions of sadness, with crying, that required our immediate attention.  Believe it or not, these are gifts (even if embarrassing) to off load emotions our body must deal with. People understand.
  • Difficulty maneuvering daily routines – A short time after Norman passed, a friend asked me how she could help.  “Could you please sit down with me and go over the things I need to do in a week.  Help me set up a schedule. I can’t seem to do that for myself right now.” It helped greatly.

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  • Diminished ability to handle stress – There may be literally mountains of paperwork to be completed – especially if the death is a spouse or a parent. It can take months to sort out.  If you lost your spouse, you suddenly need to learn new tasks and routines that your spouse performed. This all needs to be done, while grieving.  The responsibility is immense, and adding any other stress – even if seemingly “mundane or simple” can be too much.
  • Difficulty sleeping – Gary and I, after the deaths of our first spouses, each found we dreaded going to bed, choosing instead to watch TV late into the night.  Bedtime is a time when the busyness of daily activity ceases and no one is around but “me and my thoughts”.

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  • Total loss of energy – This is a common feeling when dealing with grief. The body is consumed in dealing with extremely heightened emotions, using all its resources for that task. In addition, many who’ve lost a loved one had months or years prior to their spouses death where they were needed to care for the ailing loved one. The body just shuts down for a time in order to heal.
  • Life has become a long dark tunnel – A friend who recently lost her son, stated her life seemed to be going in slow motion in the dark, while all her friends seemed to have left her behind.  I felt the same.

Fortunately, these feelings diminish with time, if the grief is dealt with and not shoved aside in fear; and if healthy relationships are a regular part of your life.

God is faithful, and grieves with us.  He is not aloof to our grief.  

Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way. Psalm 23:4 (TLB)

Tomorrow, let’s discuss some things that assist in traveling through this time.  I hope that recognizing you aren’t crazy, and you aren’t alone in your experience, eases your fear. Also, if you are a loved one looking on, may this list help you navigate your loved one’s emotions with less fear.

As always, if you want to talk, or need prayer, please email me below – I keep every conversation confidential.

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

 

 

How Do I Deal With Grief?

I’m in a bit of a mood this week, saddened by the death of my friend.  Praying much for the family, grieving with them as friends.  And remembering……the time I was where they are now.

Really, it can’t help but bring back memories.  And it can’t help but cause my heart to want to pour out all I would long to tell them, if I could.  All I would long to tell their closest friends.

“This is what grief looks like from the inside – no matter what it looks like from the outside.”

“This is what you may experience.  You may feel like you are going crazy, but no, you aren’t crazy.  It’s just grief.”

Yes, things will come back to a new, beautiful normal, in time, because of Jesus.”

“Friends and family – this is how you can help. This is what they may need you to understand.”

So, dear ones.  Please join me this week as I tackle pieces of my own story – and how God has taught me to deal with grief.  I may get teary eyed a bit, and so may you.  Especially if you’ve been there.  As the week progresses, if something tugs at your heart – share it.  If you disagree with something I say, or have a differing viewpoint – we all come at grief from differing personalities, and vastly varying experiences. So please share.  If you find these posts beneficial and know of someone going through it right now – please share with them.

Finally, if this brings up your own story of grief, I would love to share your sorrow.  I would love to pray.  Feel free to let me know.  The contact form below if for those moments when privacy is desired, but total isolation is not.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… Isaiah 53:4

With love and prayers,

Robin <3