Archive | May, 2017
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Listen, Love, Repeat – Week 3 – Chapter 5 – My Bible Study Notes

26 May

CHAPTER 5 – THE SICK AT HEART – What To Say or Do When You Don’t Know What to Say Or Do

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Do you rejoice with those who rejoice or weep with those who weep?  I know I do.  I think sometimes in this modern society of ours we want to keep up with the neighbors.  We can be envious of what others have.  I can honestly say that, for me personally, God has stripped all that.  I don’t have to have the best shoes, the best purses, the best clothes, house, or car.  I have learned that to be the best that I can be that can only be obtained by spending time in His Word and learning to be more like Him.

Jesus shared in others sorrow.  He weeped with those who weeped.  Karen shared how a german lady at church had often said to her, “A sorrow shared is but half a trouble, but joy that’s shared is a joy made double.”  My husband quotes something similar out of the Bible that I love.

My husband uses a similar phrase in weddings.  He says something like, “When a joy is shared it is doubled, but when a sorrow is shared it is halved.”  I see how true that is in life just watching our grandchildren together and all the joy, and when we lose a family member or friend how that sorrow is halved comforting each other.

Karen shared how it is sometimes hard to know what to say or do so she had reached out to blog readers to share what had helped them.  Here are a few:

  • Miscarriage – Good friends called and took them out to dinner.  It was the last thing they wanted to do, but they were picked up by their friends and when they laughed the friends laughed, when they cried the friends gently and lovingly held the and cried with them.
  • Grief – A friend shared Bible verses.

I went to a memorial last week and heard several times words that Karen reminded us not to say and that is, “If there is anything I can do, please let me know.”  A reader named Aimee wrote that during difficult times the last thing we have energy for is figuring out what we need.  Ever been there?  Sometimes we just feel helpless and we do not know what we need at that moment.  Karen says to “show up, take over a task, and allow the person to concentrate on what they need to.”

Just show up.  Do whatever.  I remember the night a nephew died.  We went.  My husband and I got in the kitchen and just washed dishes at my sister-in-laws house.  When my Mom would be in the hospital or after long days at work and then visits to the nursing home I would come home and my husband would have dinner fixed and waiting for me, and usually he had washed a load of clothes.  I remember driving one of my sisters to her first cancer treatment.  She didn’t need me to.  She said she was okay, but something inside me urged me to go and be with her.

Karen reminds us of a good friend, Tammy who says during different stages of grief and loss she didn’t need friends to throw out Bible verses, but rather friends who stopped by with compassion and grace with coffee or food or who sent a text message or card.  She even had friends who stopped by and decorated her Christmas tree.  Can you remember a time you didn’t want to decorate a tree?  I sure can, and how so very hard it was to make myself do it.

One other thing shared in this book was that sometimes we do not need to say anything at all, but just sit there and listen.

One scenario Karen shares that could so be me, and where I find myself sometimes thinking about ME.  “You would love nothing more this weekend than a quiet Saturday morning all to yourself.  But you know that a friend across town is living with the fallout of a recent divorce – and for her, the Saturday morning quiet is deafening.  Could you kidnap her for the morning, take her out for coffee and a muffin and engage in some heartfelt conversation?  It will not only encourage her, but you will be blessed as well.”  OUCH!  Not just a recently divorced, but how about someone who has recently lost a loved one?

Here are some things I’ve done recently:

  • Cooked a meal for Mom’s with a new baby.
  • Babysit while a new Mommy took a nap.
  • Picked up at toddler at Mother’s Day Out for that Mom didn’t have to load up her new babies.
  • Mowed the yard for a neighbor who was in the hospital.
  • Took a meal to a grieving family.
  • Sent a card to our pastor’s wife with a little money for coffee, and invited her to coffee.
  • Painted an older ladies fingernails and toenails.
  • Kept children for couples could have date nights (mainly our son and daughter), but do you know someone locally or in your church who does not have family here.  Perhaps they need a night out.
  • Offered to do laundry for someone with a new baby
  • Picked up groceries for a neighbor while I was grocery shopping and I knew they could not get out.
  • Visited a friend who lost his wife.  My hubby and I walk down and just sit on the porch with him and visit.  Several times I’ve baked a favorite casserole or dessert and took it over and we invited him and his daughter over for a New Year’s meal and recently homemade ice cream.

Here are some great ideas Karen shared to use when we interact with the sick at heart:

  • Give them space
  • Remember their loved one out loud
  • Invite them along
  • Etch important dates on your calendar.  Make plans to reach out during the holidays and other special dates.
  • Frame a favorite picture or put it on a Christmas ornament.

Show up, look for something to do, and do whatever you can.  Do what matters TODAY!

I’m joining Kate Matoung and the “FMF girls today and the word is visit.  Love how it goes along with this study.

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Listen, Love, Repeat – Week 2 – Chapters 3 and 4 – My Bible Study Notes

18 May

CHAPTER 3 – IT’S ABOUT TIME – Giving of Yourself    

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“Because our day planners are full of activity, our lives are often void of time spent loving other people so when someone does clear his or her schedule in order to make time for a loving gesture, the impact of the gift is magnified.”   Karen Ehman

It’s all about time.  It truly is as I look over my planner, and see how I  rush about doing things – some of them things that don’t really matter in the Kingdom.  I do see that most of those days on my calendar are full of keeping grandkids helping to mold them, to love them, to show them Jesus, and spending quality time with them.  Other things that fill up my calendar are housework, volunteer Bible study work, blogging and things I know matter in the Kingdom.

Joy is not found in accumulating stuff.  Joy is found loving others and giving of yourself.

We are a nation striving/working our rear ends off  to have it all – a big house or houses, a nice car or cars or trucks, a job that pays well, closest full of clothes (yes, I have three of my own), our kids involved in everything at school, and just on and on and on.   How do we put on or clothe ourselves with mercy, kindness, humility, meekness (gentleness) and long-suffering (patience)?  How do we change that mindset to echo the heart of our Lord?

Karen shared this quote by Charles Spurgeon:

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 But I trusted in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God. My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.”  Psalm 31:14-15 (KJV)

Our time is truly in His hands.  What we do with our time here on earth is what matters.  Giving of ourself matters.

Karen shared how a friend drove several hours to her father-in-laws funeral.  Why did that matter?  Karen says because “it cost her something that is very dear to all of us these days time.  Have you stopped what you were doing to bless a life, touch a heart?

It’s hard sometimes with our schedules to stop and amend them, but amend we must if we are giving of ourselves.

Just this week I had kept my two-month old granddaughter and her 2 year old brother, and then picked up my 3 year old grandson.  I learned that day of a former supervisor who lost his 23-year old son, and well the memorial was that evening.  I pondered over going up there in the rush hour traffic – about an hour away and rushing to get dressed after the kids left leaving me only an hour and a half to shower, dress, and drive in whatever the traffic might send.

I decided to go, and my husband called and he was going to the hospital to visit a guy who worked for him who is dying – only 53 years old.  So rather than our normal doing things that matter as a couple, we parted in two different directions.

What a blessing to hear my former boss speak!  All though years I worked for him, I had not really known him and his love of God.   I sit there and listened to young men speak about not staying in touch and I sit there a little guilty because I am so busy and I have lost touch with some wonderful people I used to work with.  I am retired and as all my retired friends said that evening their calendars are full.  Mine is packed full of “good stuff” and some days there is not any wiggle room.

As I was leaving that evening and hugged Mr. Flowers goodbye, he said, “you will never know how much it means to me for you to come.”  I pray it truly was a gift to him to see so many of us there stopping our lives to touch his families hearts.

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Here are some ways that Karen shares how we can carry one another’s burden or just share our busy lives with others:

  • Check off something on their to-do list.  For me here are some simple things I’ve done. Right  now I pick up my toddler grandson from Mother’s Day Out, while my daughter-in-law is at home not having to load up twins to go pick him up, and sometimes the five grandkids might stay over for my daughter or daughter-in-law can pick up some groceries or take a nap.  It can be something like painting an older woman’s toenails/fingernails – yes my mother-in-law asked me last week, mowing a yard for a neighbor – especially one that is in the hospital or who has had surgery
  • Lighten a domestic load.  Show up with a few laundry baskets and kidnap laundry.  Do some housecleaning.  For me, I have gone over and allowed my daughter to work or clean while I watch the baby and toddler.
  • Spend a little of your time helping someone else save some of theirs.  Running errands can help a shut-in.  I use my shopping time to sometimes pick up things for my mother-in-law or the kids like trips to Costco.
  • Think in multiples of two.  Cook once.  Eat twice.  Karen suggests making a habit of doubling and freezing.  I am not good about that.  I did recently cook three meals at once to take my daughter and daughter-in-law when they both had three new babies in March a week apart.
  • Speak the powerful words of “me too”.   Karen quoted C. S. Lewis “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too?  I thought I was the only one.'”
  • Listen For Those Heart Drops and Respond.  Take inventory.  Live alert listening for heart drops.  Who is the Lord calling you to bless today?

Last year on my birthday I wrote about being a gift, and some random acts of kindness that I did on that day.  You can read about those ideas here.

In this chapter, Karen shares a story about a neighbor nine doors down.  It is sad.  She had seen a lady during her morning walks who would be out watering.  Karen would smile and say hi, and pop her headphones back  on, and keep walking.  One day she was driving home and saw flashing lights.  Her neighbor had died – no more waves and no more smiles.

That story resonated with me because I walk, but unless it is neighbors I know it’s hard for me to say anything much less hi, but my next walk I am going to see what happens.  Karen reminds us to give a “how are you” rather than a “hurried hi.”

And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.  Mark 12:31 (KJV)

“When God knocks on our hearts, we can knock on their doors.”  Karen Ehman

CHAPTER 4 – WHO MAKES YOUR DAY – Noticing The Necessary People   

This chapter teaches us how to show people we love them, and reminds us to love the necessary people – our mailman, school teachers, garbage men, hail stylist, grocery checker and sacker, etc..

One of my favorite paragraphs in this chapter reminds us who they are in God.  Karen said, “every day and every week, our lives naturally intersect with many people, all of whom bear the image of God.  When we look beyond ourselves-and beyond the flaws and quirks of others-we see God.  We have an opportunity not only to greet these necessary people face-to-face but to witness God’s very image in them.

WOW!  How often have I forgotten that when looking at others.  When I look at others do I see Jesus.  When others look at me, do they see Jesus.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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Missing Mom This Mother’s Day

14 May

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Are you missing your Mom this Mother’s Day?  

If your Mom is still here with you, are you savoring the moments?  Are you spending time with her today?  If not, have you called and told her you love her?

This time of the year brings back so many memories of my Mom because this is also her birthday week – the 12th.  I was so glad on Friday that I was at school subbing to keep my mind off it, but tonight she’s been in my thoughts and yes I want to selfishly cry, but I’ve held back the tears so far.  I know she is with my Dad, but how I miss them both.  Wish they could have had one glimpse of our five grandchildren.
I remember the first year Mom died.  It was Valentine’s week 2013. That first Mother’s Day service at church was hard.  I had to force myself to go. I only did so because I felt ashamed not going.  I grabbed kleenex.   I was ready to let the tears roll.  A few tears spilled out  during the music, but then we had a guest speaker.   He was so, so funny that I laughed and laughed, and laughed.  I was so thankful that I had gone.  I love how our church takes care of everyone and honors even those that are going through infertility, those that have no children, those that have lost children, some adopted folks, etc..
I miss so many things about Mom.  Just seeing everything on television -the ads for flowers, and Facebook feeds are enough to make you dwell on the fact you never really knew your Mom like you wished you had.  So many unanswered questions I wished I had asked, but I am thankful I did on some days when I was visiting and she was feeling well.  I learned a lot sitting with Mom at the nursing home after she lost her leg from a horrible infection she got during a surgery.  Before that we were honored to have her staying with us three girls.
I am choosing to honor Mom this year as I have in the past with blessed memories.  Here are some special things I remember about my Mom:
  • How she would dress us girls up.  She would dress my middle sister and me alike in the cutest little dresses for Easter and Christmas.  See those little pearl necklaces.  I still have mine on a decorative pillow my mom and my middle sister below made one Christmas and they added our necklaces. Hope my kids don’t throw away that pillow when I’m gone.PicMonkey Image-100.jpg
  • How she curled our hair or put it in a pony tail.  She was so good at it.  I never have been.  Look at those curls in our hair.
  • Her chocolate pies. Yes, I have her recipe.
  • Her roasts on Sunday evenings.
  • Her enchiladas back in the day when there were not Mexican food restaurants around.  We would have lots of company over and Mom would have pans of enchiladas.
  • Her giving spirit.  She would give her last dollar to help someone.
  • Her unending love for my Dad even up to the time she died.  She died Valentine’s week, and I remember my husband saying as we sit there waiting for the funeral home to come that Mom would be spending Valentine’s Day with Daddy.
  • She was strict which caused me to be the person I am.
  • The way she celebrated Christmas and Easter and how family was so important.  I used to think she was selfish sometimes for demanding our presence as we ran around two places with kids and worn out.  Now I know why it was so important to her.  It’s important to me, but I don’t demand it.
When Mom died I wrote a poem in her honor.  My Dad was always writing poems for holidays and family.  I wrote this one and wanted to share here in memory of Mom.
Missing You Mom
by Debbie Williams
This for us has been an unimaginable day
Mom we are missing you more than words can say.
This week we have had so many fears
And we have shed thousands upon thousands of tears.
So many sleepless nights and a heavy load
So many stories we’ll miss that were never told.
On this the last day to celebrate you
You would be so proud mom those who are here honoring you!
You’ve been so sick and so strong for so so long
And even missed hearing Leslie’s beautiful song.
Your poor body has been through so much
Sometimes you hurt so bad we could not even touch.
So sick for so long, fighting battle upon battle and always winning the fight
We didn’t think we would get a call so soon that night.
Oh Mom we missed holding your hand and saying goodbye
It seems so unfair we weren’t by your side.
But we know God was there alongside.
We are giving our Father thanks and glory today
That He chose to call you home for Valentine’s Day
Oh we know there will be moments of great grief
Sadness, and missing you – right now it’s unbelief.
Thank you Mom for your pride and great joy and for
 loving on all your girls and boys.
We will have moments when we are wishing you were by our side
But we will pause and ponder on those memories of you with pride.
With thanks we give God today for His gift of you
Thank You Jesus this life is all about YOU!
With Love – Debbie, Delores, Danna, Sandra and your Precious Son-in-Laws and Grandchildren
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.  Exodus 20:12 (KJV)
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Moving Past Things I Cannot Change – Moving On

4 May

 

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”  Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr

Moving into different seasons of life is similar to changing seasons.  One thing we have to remember is God is in control.  Seasons change, but God never does.

Moving past what we cannot change sometimes can be hard. Sometimes we have to be still, and know He is in control.  I have learned that I can move beyond what I cannot change.  It can be difficult, but we have to trust in the One who is in control, and remember His plan is perfect.

Here are some things I have learned in my different seasons of life:

MARRIAGE

We marry.  Things change.  We have to adjust to different toothpaste, different ways of cleaning, being messy, being neat, introvert/extrovert and on and on.  We have to learn to love all the good things and get past the bad.  We have to learn to sit down and talk about our differences, what is bothering us, what we need.  We forget we married each other because we loved each other just as we were.  Why is it that we want to change that very person we fell in love with?  Why are we trying to change them?  Sometimes we  just need to stop and accept that person for who she/he is and how our Father made them, accept them where they are at, love them anyway, pray for them, and let God move in their lives.  Sometimes we have to forgive betrayals, and at times it is only by trusting in our Lord that we can put it in the past and move on.  We all sin every day and fall short of the glory of our Lord.  Why is it we can not forgive as our Father in Heaven has forgiven us?

CHILDREN

Psalm 127:3 (KJV) “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”

We have children, but we walked through a season of not being able to have them because of miscarriages.  You can read about that here.  Being a mom is tough and I wrote a very long post about that here. During this season we were suffering through  staying up late, ear aches, changing diapers, excited watching them learn to crawl, walk, talk and then go to school, and grades, and sports, and off to college and then there is another adjustment.

Even today being a Mom is tough watching our children suffer the loss of babies and our first grandchild being born with a horrible disease.  We have cried, prayed and always put it in the Lord’s hands and watched as He as worked miracle after miracle on our grandson and our kids.  Today we are blessed with five grandchildren after storming the gates of Heaven and trusting that He would answer our prayers in His perfect timing.  He did BIG!  We have moved past what we could not change and thank Him every single day for all He has done today.

EMPTY NEST SYNDROME

It has been years now since our nest became empty, but I remember it like it was yesterday.  I remember the day our daughter pulled out of the driveway to go to college, and I bawled.  Really!  She was only about thirty minutes away and would be coming home most weekends and our son was still here and going to the same college, but I bawled.

She finished college, moved back home and got married just three months later, and our son was still here and working and we hardly ever saw him between work and hunting and dating, but soon he married and left.  I didn’t bawl, but I sure missed him driving up each afternoon from work or worrying about him at night not being able to fall asleep until I heard his pick-up pull up in the driveway.

We adjusted easily.  I suppose many have feelings of grief, loneliness, anger, but for us it was a time of excitement.  Both left and married and we gained another son and another daughter.  They married Christians.  What a blessing!

We had each other and that’s how we began – in love and helping each other.  Sure I missed them running up the stairs.  I missed their help.  I missed them talking to me, but they were just down the road a bit.  But GOOD GRIEF there was less washing, less ironing, less cooking and it was like we were first married again.  We would lay on the sofa, or I would lay and put my head in his lap, and watch television.  We went out to eat more. And well, it has been a wonderful season.  We still DO!!

There are times I still miss them if I don’t see them for a few days, but that’s not often now that we have grandchildren.  I watch the babies and toddlers often.  Three of our grand babies were born this March so they are two months old and then there are toddlers ages two and three.  Life is full of happiness.

The empty nest is what we make of it.  Rekindle that marriage.   Build a new relationship with your kids and their spouses.  Let me tell you though that being a Mom can still be tough watching your kids suffer through miscarriages, infertility, and for some even worse – divorce and loss of a child.

TAKING CARE OF AGING PARENTS

As tragic as it was to lose my Dad at 68 with a heart attack, I can count my blessings that he didn’t have to suffer, and he didn’t have to watch Mom suffer.

After Dad died we watched Mom go through so much depression.  She could never get back to her self.  Until the day she died she was ready to be with him.  She came to live with us girls after he died and we maintained her home and her yard miles away because she wouldn’t let us sell it.

People if you are living with your kids sell that house so they don’t have to walk through that pain when you are gone.

Mom fell one day, broke her leg, and while they were replacing the femur in her leg she got a horrible bacterial that ate thru her leg.  She went septic and spent months in the hospital, and then they had to amputate and she was in a nursing home.  It was a hard time, but it was a blessed time and I focus on that.  I focus on all the activities I attended with her.  I only missed one – her last Fall party because we were out of town.  I spent days up there taking her meals, and reading to her.  You can read a little about walking through that loss here.

This was a difficult season, and I dread our kids having to walk through this one with us, but I know it will be, and they will get through it.  Today, I cling to all the sweet moments and the precious little trinkets I have laying around that Mom gave me like her little tea cups.  I think of her every day through those reminders and I thank my Lord for her and my Daddy as I look at his old radio, pipe holder, and desk.

We can get stuck like Mom did losing a spouse.  I know it will be difficult if my spouse goes first, but I do know the only way I can walk through that season is to walk through it with my Lord clinging to all the good times we are having today, and staying active and volunteering and being with family.

RETIREMENT

I’m retired.  My husband is not, but he’s talking about it. because this March we had three new grand babies.  Three.  Can you believe that?  You can read more about that here and here and twins here and another one here.  We are excited.  We had all five grandchildren here this week together for our kids birthday’s.  What fun, what joy!

Retirement for me has been bliss, but it’s also been a little hard because well I have filled up my days.  I’ve heard of people retiring, sitting down or quitting, and they don’t live long.  Shortly after I retired, I began spending more time with my Mom.  I became a volunteer for Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies.  I began to substitute teach.  Now I help with the five grandchildren.  I am never bored.

For me every season of life is what we make of it.  Moving on with God because without Him some of them I would never have gotten through – seasons of not being able to have children, seasons of losing our parents – too hard to do alone, seasons of watching our children suffer through infertility and miscarriages.  I’m overwhelmed by His love for me through all my seasons.

Joining my friends Susie and Crystal today.

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