Tag: comfort (page 1 of 2)

A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Summer

Many of you are jonesing for Pumpkin Spice Lattes and cozy sweaters on crisp fall days right now. You are just done with this season and ready to move on. I get it. It seems like many of my friends have been living “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Summer this year.

One friend is grieving the sudden death of her husband. Another reeling from a deeply painful betrayal, and another whose 18 month old has leukemia is living with chemo and isolation. Still others are dealing with “prodigal” children, dysfunctional communication in their families, and postpartum anxiety.

This pain leaves my friends wondering “Why, Lord, why? and WHEN will this END???”

In contrast, I have had a delightful summer, making me loathe to share my joy, for fear of intensifying their pain. I know. I’ve been Alexander in the past – the one in deeply wounded confusion.

I really want to be a good friend.

It’s timely, then, that I’ve been reading “The God of All Comfort” and doing a study of Job.

When our friends are hurting, our first inclination is to want to figure out and fix, right? After all, we hate seeing our friends suffer! The thing is, only God can fix it, redeem it, and in His time He will.

Often when we speak, we inadvertently add to the pain of the sufferer.

Without thinking, we say the normal, “How are you doing?” and the one in pain wants to scream, “HOW AM I DOING??? I WANT TO DIE, THAT’S HOW I’M DOING!!!”

A better option might be to give a hug and say “It’s so good to see you.” or “What is on your plate today?”

My friend whose child has leukemia wrote: “Someone told me today that the vaccines I chose to have my son receive caused his leukemia.”

WHAAAT???? Why would someone say that?  As we talked about it, we agreed that when we draw close to people in pain, in addition to wanting to FIX, we also become aware of our own vulnerability. Our reaction may be to withdraw or come up with “reasons” that make us feel more protected.

But I believe God’s charge to us (though I do it poorly) is to sit with our friends in pain, not judge (as Job’s friends did), and listen more than we speak.

Glennon Doyle says friendship is two people acknowledging together that they are not God. Good word, that.

Joe Bayly lost three children years ago and wrote this after the death of one son:

“I was sitting, torn by grief. Someone came and talked to me of God’s dealing, of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave. He talked constantly. I wished he’d go away, and he finally did.

Another came and sat beside me. He didn’t talk. He didn’t ask leading questions. He just sat beside me for an hour – or more. He listened when I said something. He listened. He answered briefly. He prayed briefly, and then he went away. I hated to see him go.”

If you are hurting today, maybe all you need to hear is that you’re not alone. You are precious and beloved no matter what.

 

When You Feel Like an Angry Toddler

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

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Standing in worship, it felt like I was singing through gritted teeth.

The words were there, but not the heart.

I was having a toddler moment a few weeks ago – frustrated, confused and metaphorically crossing my arms, and stamping my foot with cries of “LORD! I. DON’T. GET. IT!!” Continue reading

What Are Your Monuments?

As I write this John and I are in Washington D.C. for a few days of meetings and a chance to see our daughter and friends. Here, I am surrounded by monuments meant to remind us of the freedom we enjoy and the ways it was purchased at a high cost.

We lived here for a couple of years and are back frequently. Every time we come back we do new things, but we also return to visit the monuments we know.

Monuments help us remember our roots.

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Returning to these and remembering their significance brought to mind a time when God prompted me to go back to another kind of monument. Continue reading

3 Things We’re Learning from Loss, part 2

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Yesterday I posted some of the more relational things we are learning from crisis and grief. In case you need reminding, we are a mess of cluelessness – toddlers tripping and tumbling our way through this season. What I’m sharing is just stuff we’ve found to be helpful to us.

Today I wanted to share some of the hands-on stuff. In both posts it is super hard to limit the number (and I’d encourage you to add more in the comments), but here are three: Continue reading

3 Things We’re Learning from Loss, part 1

We have an incredibly close family that has been referred to as the “Leave it to Beaver Cleavers”. You know – the all-American family who goes to church every Sunday, and takes family vacations. They love the boy scouts and the 4th of July, and the major drama is when the family dog gets hit by a car (but of course miraculously survives).

All that to say, we’re rookies at pain, and loss because, well, life has gone pretty well for us.

There are many, though, who will read this who have a Phd. in pain and suffering and have much to teach us, and I hope they’ll add their thoughts in the comments.

There are others who have a limited experience with grief, but who care deeply about their friends and want very much to minister to those in pain.

But whatever group you fall into, all of us, I think, want to get better at being companions who walk well with our brothers and sisters through the dark, confusing alleys of crisis.

Over the past 4 months, we had the remarkable privilege to sit with my little brother in hospital rooms, and care for him at home in hospice, and mourn when he took his last breath.

We experienced so many holy moments and such thoughtful care from the Body of Christ. Our extended family rallied as a team in ways that brings tears to my eyes as I think of the gift God has given us of each other.

Some of the things we learned ranged from the absurdly practical, to the nuances of EQ. I thought I’d share a few of them and encourage you to add your own in the comments.  Today I’m going to start with the more relational, and tomorrow will go to the more practical: Continue reading

Are You Sure You Want to be Blessed?

I’ve been thinking a lot this Advent season about the word “blessed”.

It all started with a post I read by Jamie Wright about the word “blessed” that quoted Inigo Montoyo from the Princess Bride: “You keep using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

She wrote:

We’ve created a culture in which we measure God’s “blessings” in terms of dollars and cents, comfort and pleasure, wealth and well-being. So, if we’re happy and healthy and have everything we need, then we’re blessed, and we should thank God on social media. We tend to ignore the secondary message this sends to those who are unhappy or unhealthy, or for whom things are just generally crappy. Too bad, so sad, if your life sucks, you’re #NotBlessed.

The second thing that led me to focus on this word, “blessed” was that John and I were preparing to preach together on Mary, the mother of Jesus and there was that word again!  In Luke 1 it refers to Mary twice as “highly favored” and then Mary herself says: Continue reading

How Jen Hatmaker Interrupted my Perfectly Lovely Summer (and may wreck yours too)

It was the beginning of June and the whole summer stretched gloriously before me.  Oh the dreams I’d dream, the goals I’d achieve, the books I’d not only read, but remember and apply to EVERY AREA OF MY LIFE!  I was especially excited to get my grubby little hands on the new edition of Jen Hatmaker’s book, Interrupted.

I pounced on the opportunity to get an advance copy in order to link up and post on it.  After all, my merry little band of spiritual misfits had joyfully jumped into “7” and experienced our own mutiny against excess a couple of summers ago.  I figured we were game for something new.

But here’s the thing…I missed some “fine” print.

Ok, it might not have been so “fine”, but I definitely missed two important details.

First?  The subtitle: When Jesus Wrecks your Comfortable Christianity.  WHY in the name of sweet baby Jesus would I want to read THAT??  If I’m comfortable with my Christian life (and I definitely am!), why would I want to be wrecked?

Note to marketing department: No one who actually reads the subtitle of this book is going to want to buy it.  “Wrecking” is not a selling point. Continue reading

5 Questions About…God’s Plans For You

Today we start a new Friday series called “5 Questions About…”  image-4

Recently my friend, Lee Hanssen, who is the director of student ministry at our church, (and just happens to be a rodeo rider on the side :)), preached on Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Oh my gosh, have you seen that verse quoted on all the cards everywhere in the history of the world without end amen for anyone who was sad, or getting married, or graduating, or…?  I loved Lee’s message and I wanted him to share some of it with you.

1.  What made you choose this popular verse for your text? Continue reading

After Easter

Good morning!  So many of you are new to this blog that I decided to re-post an offering from last year about this time.  I pray it is encouraging to you today!

My cousin died last week.  And a friend was deeply wounded by something a loved one said to her.  And another friend continues to pray for healing from a painful illness.  And another is deeply discouraged.  I imagine each of you could add something to the list.

And last week, after Easter, I was reading in John 20 when Mary comes and finds the tomb empty.  It was my “scheduled” devotional reading, and I’m a rule-follower, so I was obedient, and read it, but inside I was thinking…”Easter is OVER!  Been there, celebrated that.  Let’s move on.” (I’m not proud, just being honest).

I felt like those people who leave their Christmas wreath up til May.  Easter didn’t feel relevant after Easter, which I know is soooo wrong, but like at the tomb, God was gracious and showed up

I was clonked on the head like one of the Three Stooges as I entered into this passage as Mary.  Yes, Mary Magdalene, the one who Jesus miraculously cast all the demons out of, but at the same time, someone like all of us, any of us, who are ever in pain, lost, confused... Continue reading

Peace in the Middle East and at Starbucks

You see, I have this table at Starbucks.  It’s mine“.  Everyone knows it’s my office of sorts.  Every morning I arrive early and work there for several hours.

The toddler who peeks around the corner each day looking to share his cheese crackers with me knows where I am.

The ever-present chatty Brit – the “Norm” of our “Cheers” knows where to find me.

Mark, the doctor, stops by to say “hi”.

Anyone who ever meets with me ever knows where to come.

I like to think it’s a place where kingdom work is being pursued.

And I like to think there’s a special ambiance or aura around my table.  I feel more inspired when I sit there.  It’s comfortable.  I can spread out.  And it’s the perfect distance from coffee and people.  Close enough to be convenient, and far enough to not be interrupted too much.

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So here’s the problem. Continue reading

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