Navigating the Wave of Change

Change is to alter, make different, transform, to switch, and to break from the old. Change can be difficult when we first realize we must do something differently in our lives. Change can be even more traumatic when thrust upon us and outside of our control. 

If we have made the decision to change something in our lives,  it is likely that we are moving toward or away from something. Angela Dunbar writes that we move away from that which we don’t like or  toward something beginning–often with goals set. If we make a decision to change things in our lives and in our environment, we need to consider the actions we should take and then commit to those actions. Through the process of reaching a new state of being,  we may discover areas that require healing or we may come upon new information that causes us to re-evaluate the steps we are taking. It is important to remember that this is a journey and while the path may take unexpected turns, we need to stay with the journey to the end. In the pain of change comes true transformation.

And then there is change beyond our control. Some event may occur that knocks us off our feet. This usually happens in relationships. Perhaps the person you thought you would have a long-term relationship with isn’t on the same page as you and your friendship suddenly ends. Perhaps you have unexpectedly lost a loved one–a parent or a spouse/partner. Maybe you lost a job you loved or were forced into retirement when you still wanted to work. This sort of change is much more traumatic because we frequently don’t have the time to process the change; it just happens and we are left without a plan.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

I know for me that without my faith and trust in God to guide me through change, planned or unplanned, I would most likely curl up into a little ball. I have actually done that on occasion; however, I am fortunate that some wonderful women of faith reached out to me and reminded me that I am loved, I have value, and I have worth in the eyes of God. And when I think I am alone, I must remind myself that God will never desert me. I can pick up my bible or a spiritually-influenced book and let the words guide me through my times of uncertainty. Some times its a short process of getting on with the changes while other times I dig my heels in and it takes enormous pain (hitting bottom) before I will do what I need to do. No matter what, the commitment is to embrace the change, to grow, and to become better than I was the day before.

If we were to look through the bible we find it full of stories of individuals who were thrown into circumstances beyond their control and came through the fire, changed for the better. Look at Moses who walked away from a charmed life to live in the desert and ultimately became the voice of the Lord and a leader of change for a nation. David, who made extraordinarily wrong choices that cost people, including his own child, their lives. He became willing to embrace change and altered the course of history. What about a young woman who had a plan for her life only to have the angels tell her nothing she was planning was a great as what God had in mind. And in her obedience, the world was changed.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.(Jeremiah 29:11)

No matter what is happening in your world today, change is going to occur. How we navigate the waters of change will determine our ability to find joy in the change. If we take the perspective that change is an awful painful thing against which we should fight, it is likely that we will drown in depression and anger or sadness. If we can accept or even embrace, the change (planned or not) and seek God’s will for our lives, we will ultimately find peace and maybe even joy.

I pray that you will seek out the positive aspects of change, ask the Lord to reveal his new plan for you, and trust that a new day is coming. I pray that your heart and mind will be transformed and that you will be challenged to share what God has done for you with others who suffer. May you find blessings in your trials and courage to take action.

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. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:6-8)

 

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The Empty Arms of Motherhood

Mother’s Day can be a painful day for many women.

  • It is a reminder of a child lost.
  • It is a reminder of a child given up in adoption.
  • It is a reminder of a child never born.
  • It is a reminder of broken relationships between a child and a mother.
  • it is a reminder for some couples of the child they are desperate to have.
  • it is a reminder for some singles of the life they have without loving their own child.

And for some it is a  day of defending their choice not to have children.

For all the joy that Mother’s Day may bring to many women, some find themselves in a sad spot today. They may not look forward to walking into church and seeing others around them sitting with their children and celebrating the day. They may feel uncomfortable when someone wishes them a Happy Mother’s Day when they don’t feel happy at all.

If you are one of these women, I want to remind you that you are loved by a Father who understands your pain. He too lost a child. He has a plan for your life regardless of your status as a mother. Perhaps he is calling you to come along side other women and encourage them in their sadness. Maybe he is calling you to walk with other singles and encourage them of their value as a woman.. Maybe he is calling you to work with children and fill the void you believe you have by sharing his love with them.

God does not leave us in our circumstances without purpose. You are a strong woman made in God’s image and you have value and worth in this life.

You may carry the memory of loving a child gone and that is a precious gift to give to others.

You may not be at the point of having children yet and can use this time to support others in a way God is nudging you.

You may have children living apart from you and today you can reach out and remind them that you love them, no matter what has happened in the past.

I want to encourage you today as you run into women who you know are in these circumstances to love on them. Genuinely love on them. Maybe pick up a little bunch of flowers on your way out and give them to a special lady and remind her that  she is special and is a beloved child of God herself. Let us use the love God has given to us to lift up others in sharing that love today.

Happy Lovely Wonderfully Made Women’s Day!!

Grief Life

We planned for our future.

We had a vision for our lives.

Together we would do this.

Then one day;

You were gone.

The future we planned no more.

The vision detached,

Distrupting my life.

No more together adventures.

Me alone

The world turned upside down.

New plans to imagine.

New routines to make.

New life to find;

With others.

Stuck between what was,

What is, and yet to come.

Pulling myself forward,

Out of the dark;

Into the unknown.

Looking for his plan in this.

Holding onto faith.

Yearning for love.

Hiding from tears.

Praying for me.

Resting in his will.

Trusting in his love.

Shattered pieces healing.

New life emerging;

Breathing…living

Finding new purpose.

Walking a new path.

Willingly restored.

Stepping forward.

From grief to life.

Celebrating Life

In the past week, between my church family and my work family, we lost four pillars of our community. The week will be a series of funerals and memories of people gone from our lives. It has been a devastating time for our church family in particular as we watch two incredible ladies, now widows, support one-another and comfort us as we try to find the words to say to them. My daughter said that she is beginning to see the people who have been around her most of her life, now depart this place.

Death is hard on all of us.

The personal loss comes on the heels of the senseless murder of nine Christians in Charleston. It seems the whole world is struggling to make sense out of the senseless. And it is senseless. It would seem from reading our Bible that God never planned for us to live this way and yet, here we are. Losing lives to the violence of relentless disease and illness—yes even mental illness—is difficult to grasp. And yet we have seen an outpouring of forgiveness, hope, and a belief in salvation on the streets of Charleston. What a model of what Christ means to those of us who believe in forgiveness and eternal life through him.

These can be overwhelmingly sad times for us left behind. Watching these women walk through their grief, I see the sadness in my sister’s eyes remembering the loss of her husband. When we say goodbye to another Godly man on Saturday, I will watch my daughter struggle with the reminder that her father died 11 years ago that day. As the world watches Charleston, we are reminded of other mass killings of not just the faithful, but the innocent young lives such as those we lost in Sandy Hook. It seems that death always surrounds us. And yet Jesus promised that with the Holy Spirit our sorrow would turn to joy and that because of Jesus we would be victorious over death.

“O death, where is you victory? O death, where is your sting? For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57, NLT)

And strange as it may seem, I have begun to find joy in attending funerals celebrating these lives. It is hard to explain, and I will try my best to share my sense of peace. Yesterday we celebrated the life of a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a steady hand in our congregation. Yesterday our church was filled with old-time members who had left for other congregations/denominations, but never left the family. There were gasps and hugs and smiles as the Body of Christ came together to share the life our brother Ken lived. God was pruning again and as he snipped a piece of the vine he brought forth the steadfast trunk that we would all know—he is still moving among the family. The family—HIS FAMILY—is still strong. We just don’t meet up every Sunday like we used to. Through his grace, we are still one family.

I love listening to the family and friends speak at funerals. We never hear the bad stuff at a funeral because just as Jesus cleanses our hearts, we cleanse our memories in honor of the departed. Last winter I went to the funeral of a friend’s father. They spoke about his military career and they spoke about his love for the Lord that trickled down throughout the family. His faith inspired sons to enter into ministry and others to simply devote their lives to following Jesus. Where there could have been great dread and despair in their loss, there was great hope. I left feeling better than when I came and inspired to go deeper in my faith.

I have talked with others after the funerals or memorials for devoted followers of Jesus and almost always I hear someone say: “I hope they say things like that about me when I die.” We want to be remembered for our good deeds. We want to know that we inspired others to follow Jesus. We hope that the room will be packed with friends from all over who come because they saw Jesus in us and because we lived the love he commanded us to live. We hope that our lives will be ones well celebrated. These God-inspired lives can motivate us forward if we ask God what he desires from us and if we are willing to make changes to live for him.

If you are struggling through the loss of someone dear to you, regardless of when that loss occurred, I urge you to seek Jesus and ask that he send the Holy Spirit that your sorrow become joy, knowing that you will one day be reunited with your loved one. I urge you to look into your own heart and life and ask his forgiveness that you might forgive others, including the one who has left you. Ask God to show you his love, to wrap you in his warmth, and to comfort you in your sadness. Ask that you may have the eternal life he has promised to those who believe in Jesus and chose to follow him. Ask that he would use your life and transform it into one of service and a celebration of life today. You don’t need to wait for others to celebrate the life God has given you—you can start celebrating and living it today.

Heavenly Father, I pray that my words are pleasing to you and that those who read them may find your peace and love today. I pray that we would all be one in you and you in us and that we would fix our eyes and hearts on you.

This is written in honor of Ken, Elsie, Scott, and John—Well done good and faithful servants.

Please read the book of John; Chapter 17, Philippians 3, and Hebrews 3.