Category Archives: Grief and Loss

Monday Morning Moment – The 6 Sacrifices of Leadership – in Memory of Clyde Meador

Photo Credit: GOBNM

10 years writing this blog. I started 10 years ago this very month. The reason, in particular, was because I felt my memory clouding some, and there were memories and counsel I wanted to make sure were left for my children. As writing does, the blog cut its course through many topics – God, life, marriage, parenting, beauty, friendship, work, meaning, purpose, and reflections of all sorts. Now 10 years out, my memory is still hanging in there, and for that I’m thankful. Also for the having of words to share with those I love.

Our friend Clyde Meador started a blog himself 3 years ago this month. He may have had similar hopes – to leave something for his children and for the sake of a greater work.

Leadership was a topic that I studied for years (posting in my Monday Morning Moment). I learned so much from great leaders in my life, as well as some leaders who could have used some mentoring by our friend Clyde. That may not have been kind, but good leaders matter – in our lives and in the futures of organizations.

Photo Credit: Facebook, Stephen White, 2017 [Clyde and his beloved wife, Elaine]

In the first year of Clyde’s blog, he wrote a series of posts entitled 6 Sacrifices of Leadership. The topics were:

  • Loss of Constant Firsthand Involvement
  • Too Much Negative Knowledge
  • Constant Criticism
  • Leaving
  • Sacrifice, Isolation, Ostracism
  • Impact on Family Ties Due to Travel and Workload

Take the time to study those posts to learn from Clyde. In a recent tribute to him, a friend and colleague, Charles Clark wrote a brief summary of Clyde’s six sacrifices, their dangers and rewards. You find them in the image below:

Photo Credit: Clyde Meador from Charles Clark’s Facebook page, May 2024

In April 2024, Clyde Meador, this wise, humble, and insightful leader friend of ours, died, at 70 years of age. Complications of a long battle with cancer. He leaves a big hole, for his family, but also for the many people who have known him and loved him through the years. However, he would say something along the lines of God doesn’t leave holes.

We all have stories with Clyde in them – his lessons on life and leading. His legacy is that he never wavered in his faith walk, his love for his family, or his determination to do excellence in the work God had given him. He and Elaine have been a picture of constancy in our lives. Leading and loving.

In July of 2023, life and cancer treatment got in the way of Clyde continuing his blog. What turned out to be his last blog is so appropriate and beautiful. “To Those Who Come After Us”. Here are the last paragraphs.

“I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.”  (Psalm 89:1, ESV)  “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders that He has done.”  (Psalm 78:4, ESV)  This commitment of faithful followers of the Lord must be our commitment, also.

“So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”  (Psalm 71:18, ESV)  I am grateful that I have reached old age and gray hair, and pray that I will faithfully do all I can to communicate the truth of the Gospel to those who come after me.

Of all those things which we teach our children and those who come after them, nothing is more important, more urgent than the truth of the Gospel.  I have a less-than-perfect record of success in this endeavor, yet I seek to faithfully persist in sharing the Truth.  I challenge each of us to a major focus on sharing all we know about our Lord and Savior with the next generations! – Clyde Meador, To Those Who Come After Us

[Dave & Clyde, a few weeks before Clyde went to be with the Lord. So grateful. What a humble and wise mentor he was to so many.]

Worship Wednesday – Our Posture Before a Waiting & Loving Father – with Trevin Wax

Photo Credit: Prodigal Son by Eugene Burnand, article by James Ross Kelly

And Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry.

“Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’Luke 15:11-32

The following is a treasure by writer and researcher Trevin Wax, used with permission. We met only once, but I’ve been learning from him for several years. You are in for a treat – a life-giving infusion of truth, wisdom, and grace.

“Every now and then, a song brings me to tears.

Sometimes it’s an older song that stirs the heart in a new way. I’ve never been able to sing the last verse of Isaac Watts’s hymn, “There Is a Fountain,” because I’m too moved by that image of my “poor lisping, stammering tongue” lying “silent in the grave” before rising again to sing a “nobler, sweeter song” of Christ and his “power to save.”

Songs about the cross and resurrection strike that chord, such as the vision at the end of “O Praise the Name (Anástasis)” of resurrection hope when our gaze will be fixated on the Savior. Andrew Peterson’s “Well Done, Good and Faithful” builds on a Watts hymn and imagines the Father affirming the Son’s sacrificial work; I blubber every Easter season when I hear it. Other songs do the trick too, even simple ones like Steven Curtis Chapman’s “My Redeemer is Faithful and True” or Fernando Ortega’s “Give Me Jesus.”

But for all the times when glorious gospel truth has me fumbling for a Kleenex, there many times when I sing about amazing grace with dry eyes and a lukewarm heart. This has me wondering, What dries up the heart and keeps us from feeling and experiencing the marvelous, matchless grace of God? What keeps the tear ducts blocked?

For starters, there’s the posture of the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son: the self-righteous, self-sufficient one who remains “close” to the father, at least in terms of proximity, while his heart is far from home. The consummate rule-follower believes deep down that the only possible reason God would love us is because we’ve done something to deserve salvation.

Photo Credit: Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal, Stanton Lanier

This assumption can manifest itself in many ways, even among those who talk about grace all the time. The self-justifying tendencies of the human heart can lead us to stand on a pedestal of Christian teaching about grace and then look down on others who’ve not arrived at our level of doctrinal understanding or theological precision.

But we cannot weep before the majestic grace of God if we’re still searching for scraps of self-sufficiency. Tears of gratitude will never fall from eyes looking down on others, only from eyes looking up to God’s grace.

But there’s a second posture that keeps us from marveling at the grace of God: the desire to validate ourselves by doing away with sin.

The New Testament’s insistence on our need for redemption humbles us. But redefining sin removes the need for humility, leaving us affirmed in our natural state.

For many today, the problem isn’t the disease of sin, but those who’d diagnose the disease. So, instead of a father running to us with a heart overflowing with forgiveness and healing mercy, we want a father who runs to affirm us and tell us all is well, that what we’ve done either wasn’t that bad or wasn’t bad at all. We want a God to provide a spiritual presence, a transcendent dimension for the life we’ve chosen to live. God becomes the approver of our own self-validation.

This second posture is also rooted in self-righteousness, but it masks itself in false mercy. For some, sin is not that big a deal because God is merciful and it’s his job to forgive. For others, our focus on brokenness and suffering outstrips any notion of sin as transgression or treason against God. God’s mercy and help are there to make us whole, but this “wholeness” must ultimately be defined by every individual.

The first and greatest commandment is “Be true to yourself.” The second is like it: “Affirm whatever self your neighbor decides to be true to.” In this way, we rid ourselves of vice, not through forgiveness, but through redefining vices as virtues, as part of our authentic selves.

And so, the father runs to the repentant son, not to shower him with undeserved grace, but to follow him to the pigsty, where he insists the son’s rebellion was a bold and courageous act of independence, and the diet of pig food is really a feast for the self-actualized.

This posture strips us of the power to weep at grace. Sin is waved, not washed, away. To deny or minimize your sinfulness is to sever the root of gratitude for undeserved favor. Make favor deserved, a reward that showcases your innate worth and value and goodness, and you’ve gutted grace of everything that makes it amazing.

In both cases, whether it’s the elder brother who won’t lower himself to join the feast, or the younger brother who won’t come to his senses because he wants to be “free” to choose the pigsty, self-righteousness blocks tears of gratitude.

Only Jesus gives us grace that meets us in our darkest hour, grace that plumbs the depths of our cavernous hearts, grace that transforms the heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

Undeserved favor strips us of self-righteousness and shows up our paltry attempts at self-validation. Submit to that humble stripping away of all our pride, and then we can bask in the grace that makes us sing louder, shout for joy, and weep with gratitude. That’s the grace we see in the running feet of the father.” – Trevin Wax, Facebook, May 5, 2024

[If you have time, and want to sing praise to God for His great grace, click on any of the song links – old or new.]

Rembrandt’s Prodigal – A Life Lesson – Stanton Lanier

The Story of the Loving Father – William Barclay – James Ross Kelly

Saturday Short – Remembering Our Chad and the Legacy of Chadwick Boseman

Photo Credit: L) Chadwick Boseman – Gage Skidmore, Flickr, R) Chad Stephens (pic taken by Deb Mills)

[This piece is adapted from the Archives on the 30th anniversary of my nephew Chad Stephens’ death. He was 23 when he died instantly in a car accident. After so many years, I’m not sure who all have the sweet memories of Chad that his family has. As to legacy…only God knows. I was reminded today in remembering Chad of another’s legacy – the actor/influencer Chadwick Boseman. His legacy is large and public. For both of them, Chad and Chadwick, dying sooner and harder than any of us imagined would have happened…who knows the extent of their legacy – either Chad, a young man with most of his promise still ahead of him, or the profoundly gifted Chadwick Boseman, dying in his 40s. Below you’ll find excerpts from a blog I wrote when Chadwick died, as I also remember Chad today.]

Shock waves covered our country and the world at the news of actor and Black Panther superhero ‘s death. He was/is a bigger-than-life figure in our culture. As we all know now, he had late-stage colon cancer since 2016 (four years prior to his death). That the public didn’t know he was ill isn’t a surprise, given Boseman’s private nature and also the incredible production of 10 of his films from 2016 until now (one of them Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom released after his death). Fighting his battle with cancer at the same time, what grace, focus, and courage he displayed through all the making of those films!

Chadwick Boseman, ‘Black Panther’ Star, Dies at 43

Boseman died on Jackie Robinson Day – August 28, 2020 – at the age of 43.

‘Black Panther’ Director Ryan Coogler Pens Emotional, Beautiful Tribute to Chadwick Boseman – Ryan Parker, Borys Kit

Boseman was very committed to raising the opportunity and quality of life for fellow black people. He used his work to reflect the dignity of humankind. He showed his own respect for others not only in the Marvel blockbuster Black Panther but in all his films. Several of which were biopics – two of my favorites being Marshall (on the life of Justice Thurgood Marshall) and “42” (on the life of baseball player Jackie Robinson). Both movies are timeless in their handling of justice for blacks in America.

Photo Credit: AZ Quotes

After seeing the incredible film Black Panther some time ago, I was reminded of the relatively small part Boseman also played in Draft Day. Two very different films, but both where he played one who took his platform to champion others. This seemed to be true of Boseman’s public and private life.

Photo Credit: AZ Quotes

After a weekend of trying to get hold of the life and character of this man from Anderson, South Carolina…this man who became a Christ follower as a boy and served in his church’s choir and youth group…I couldn’t get to sleep.

Photo Credit: AZ Quotes

What Boseman accomplished in his relatively short life as a public figure will last as long as we watch the movies…and longer still.

What can a regular non-celebrity do in our world gone mad? What really can this older white woman in the suburbs of a small city? What can you do?

Last night, in the dark trying not to wake my husband, I grabbed my phone and wrote the following list. It came quickly. Hopefully it is understandable.

  • Listen hard with ears, mind and heart open.
  • Seek to understand.
  • Ask the question: “What are we hearing?”
  • Ask the question: “What are we not hearing?”
  • Ask the next layer of question without judging: “What sounds true? What sounds like deception motivated by something else? How can we know?
  • What is the source of what we are hearing? [Sidebar: Where we get our news is often where we get our attitudes. If we take in news at all, we need a mix of views or we won’t critically be able to sift for what is true…or hopefully true.]
  • Then…
  • Speak up on behalf of one another.
  • Stand up against evil and for the truth.
  • Act up? NO. Act in love.
  • Mobilize our resources, relationships, and influence to actually make a true, lasting difference for those most vulnerable in our country.
  • Who has the courage to say “Enough” to what is hurting more than healing, to what is destroying more than building up, to what is not really for change for those who most need the change?

Boseman once said: “The only difference between a hero and the villain is that the villain chooses to use that power in a way that is selfish and hurts other people.”

Boseman’s life reflected his faith in Jesus.

Therapist Kalee Vandergrift-Blackwell wrote a beautiful piece (below) on “a brown, immigrant, refugee, colonized Jesus”.

Did You Know Jesus Is Brown? – Kalee Vandergrift

Jesus died at the hands of the political and religious leaders of the day, but…He did not die a victim. He gave his life in all its beauty, courage, and truth – for our sakes…and He gave his life, even for the political and religious leaders of the day.

When He called out the wrong motives of religious leaders and turned over the tables of opportunists, everything He did, He did in love. He calls us, His followers, to do the same.

Jesus calls us to love our neighbors…and even to love our enemies. We aren’t allowed to just take sides…we are to full-bore, wide open love people – to recognize, respect, and validate in all we do the worth, dignity, and God-breathed humanity of all.

This is our legacy…this is what I want to have the courage and the depth of love to leave when my life is over.

Not complacency. Not comfort. Not smugness. Not arrogance. Not blaming another party or one president over another (if there’s blame it extends much farther…). Not violence. Not isolation.

So…that is the burn I got this weekend after taking in and grieving over the loss of Chadwick Boseman.

One last quote from Boseman that is especially poignant and inspiring right now is this: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything You gave me.”

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

In remembering Chad, also, I’m reminded of his legacy…not as publicized as a great actor who died too early…but of a young man who had also given his life to Christ. A young man with great heart and strong convictions. A young man who thought of others. A young man who lavished love and joy on all of us, just entering the room and then staying in the room. A young man who could flip the tension of a family dispute…just being present, by showing up over and over, even in the uncomfortable and imperfect.

Whatever our influence or audience – the world as with Chadwick Boseman, or a much smaller sphere as our Chad – we all leave a legacy. We learn from those who’ve gone before us. Because of what Jesus did for us, and knowing that both Chad and Chadwick received Jesus for themselves, we will see them again.

That makes today a little less hard and a whole lot more hopeful.

Chadwick Boseman – AZ Quotes

10 Inspiring Quotes From Chadwick Boseman That Could Change Your Life – A. R. Shaw

YouTube Video – Chadwick Boseman Tribute – Marvel

Worship Wednesday – Safe – Victory Worship [Ft. Isa Fabregas]

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Soon a violent windstorm came up, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was being swamped. But Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him and said, “Teacher, don’t You care that we are perishing?” Then Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the sea. “Silence!” He commanded. “Be still!” And the wind died down, and it was perfectly calm.Mark 4:37-39

We are all ships in a storm, with Jesus onboard. He is our safe harbor. Not a place but a person. Safe in Him.

I follow this young man Ian Simkins. He does these succinct devotionals that are incredibly powerful. The one below inspired me to write on this topic today.

“Apart from the Holy Spirit, the Christian life isn’t difficult. It’s impossible…

We are sailboats. God is the wind. Even tattered sails do pretty well in a windstorm.

Take heart. Raise your sail.

How do we raise our sail?

Prayer. Scripture. Community. Silence. Stillness. Rest. Service. Sacrifice. Surrender.

Keep raising your sail, Friend.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” – John 3:8

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” – John A. Shedd

“One cannot discover new lands unless they have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andrew Gide

A pastor at The Bridge Church in Nashville, Tennessee, Ian tells the story of an Indian couple whose home he visited while on a summer in India. They were poor, but in wisdom, very rich. The wife said to him, “We pray for you Christians in America. We can’t imagine trying to be with someone like Jesus in a place as distracting as America.”

A Kenyan pastor, after a violent attack, on a university campus a few years ago, left 150 people dead, responded:

“This attack has strengthened our conviction and resolve that the safest and securest place to be is at the center of God’s will. As it has been said, “Peace is not the absence of trouble but the assurance that God is with us no matter what.”

Where Can We Be Safe? – Heidi Carlson

We have this temptation to strive for safety. For ourselves and our families. What does it even look like to be “safe”? To build a perimeter between us and anything that might present a threat. What are we teaching our children and grandchildren? That we have to protect ourselves? From what?

With Christ within, no matter what happens, no matter the hardship or worry, we have a profound safe harbor in Him.

Just yesterday, I discovered that Tyler Staton, a young brother and spiritual father of mine, is in treatment for recurrent cancer. He is lead pastor for Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon and the author of the transformative book Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools.

In a video recently, Tyler gave a health update on how he is with treatment and in his walk with God through this cancer recurrence. He commented on how God is a master story-teller and is writing our stories. He calls us to “say yes to the story He’s writing” and step into/walk in that story. Tyler reported on how he was praying both Psalm 23 and Psalm 21. Psalm 23 reminds Tyler of “green pasture” and “still water” days and also days “in the shadow of death” – they are all part of our lives. Tyler expressed his desire “for God’s presence more than His power”. He also is praying Psalm 21 (“maybe hedging (his) bets with God”) which is a cry for God to lengthen his days – to grow old with his wife Kirsten and to see his children’s children.

From the time I first read Tyler’s book and returned to it many times since, I’m not at all surprised at how he has faced this cancer.

Does Tyler feel safe? I’m not even sure that is even the point for him. He wants to receive whatever God has for him, and if cancer is a part of that, then he receives it. Will he battle it? Absolutely. However you do not hear him recoil from God or question the His goodness in this. It is just part of the story of Tyler’s life.

Rather than safety as we might count it and go after it in this crazy world…let’s reconsider and deepen our understanding of how safe we are in Christ Jesus’ keeping.

Worship with me with Victory Worship‘s anthem “Safe”.

[Verse 1]
Under Your grace, Your mercy amazes me
Under Your wings, Your shadow covers me
Your promise of love, where my heart is safely undone

[Verse 2]
Speak to me, Lord, Your servant is listening
Over the noise, I hear You whispering
My hope has come and my heart is safely undone

[Chorus]
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
Forever safe

[Verse 2]
Speak to me, Lord, Your servant is listening
Over the noise, I hear You whispering
My hope has come and my heart is safely undone, oh-oh

[Chorus]
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name

[Post-Chorus]
Forever safe, forever safe
Forever safe, forever safe

[Bridge]
You are never far away
Always reaching out to save
My weakness covered by Your strength
And I am found forever safe
You are never far away
Always reaching out to save
My weakness covered by Your strength
And I am found forever safe

[Chorus]
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
Forever safe
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
Forever safe*

*Lyrics to “Safe” – Songwriters: Lee Simon Brown, Moira Dela Torre, Juan Winans & Justin Gray

On Feeling Secure in God – John Piper

How Should Christians View Safety? – Brooks Buser

[The video below is a scene from The Chosen. It is based on the account of Jesus walking on rough waters and Peter coming out of the boat to Him. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he was safe. This passage, like the one in Mark above, speaks to our safety in the midst of a storm as long as He holds us. Lots more to this story…but the scene beautifully demonstrates it.]

Photo Credit: Julian of Norwich, Cedarfield Pinnacle Living Readings and Reflections for Lent 2019

Monday Morning Moment – On the Journey of Not Giving Up

Photo Credit: Elbert Hubbard, Success.com

[Before jumping into this, let’s take a moment to give space for those who tried for a long, long time…and then felt there was no recourse but to give up. I have given up, too, in some situations, with some relationships…either because I lost hope, or heart, or strength, or opportunity, or time. We all have such stories. Today, let’s pause and consider the large and life-affirming possibility of just NOT giving up.]

Have you said any of these things recently? “I quit!” “I’m tired of trying.” “I give up.” “It’s not fair.” “It’s not worth it.” “Why do I have to do everything?” “It won’t last.” “There’s no use.” “I’m just not good at it.” “What difference does it make?”

Words matter. They can move us toward positive outcomes or negative ones. The negative affirmations above, spoken or just thought, sound true. Some may even be factual. They move us to action. The problem is when we are moved to act in ways that make things worse instead of better.

Negative Affirmations: Why You Should Avoid Them – Sanju Pradeepa

13 Reasons Why You Give Up So Easily (+ How Not To) – Natasha MacFarlane

Whether it is your job, a lifestyle change, or relationship…we choose whether to be proactive or reactive. Whether we give up or keep at it. Bit by bit. Day by day.

All of life is a journey. We move toward one another or away. Our temptation is to self-protect…or protect someone we love thinking it requires pulling away from someone else. We can give up without even realizing it. Just in the disappointment…the distancing. We pull away from possible solutions. They are just too hard. Or are they?

When we get to the point of giving up, it’s not just giving up on that person, but giving up on ourselves in relationship to that person. Maybe even giving up on God to help us repair the rupture, thus opening one between us and Him.

You may think I am philosophizing or making this too simple. Believe me, I totally get how complicated “not giving up” can be. And painful. And even isolating. However, giving up is more isolating…and potentially more painful. We can bury the pain, cover it over, but it’s still there.

Photo Credit: Ullie Kaye Poetry, Facebook

Now, we may not be able to restore the relationship…or heal a family wounded by rupture…but when we quit on them, the door to repair, from our side, closes.

Photo Credit: Danielle Bernock, Possibility Change, Instagram

The day will come, I am hoping and believing, with God’s help, that we will see good come through this hard place. For me, I am NOT giving up.

Stories of feeling the need or desire to quit abound. It may be your story as well. There is no blame here. No shaming whatsoever. It’s what we do with our stories that matters.

Attorney, writer, coach Marelisa Fabrega offers 8 strategies for not quitting. Her commentary is thought-provoking so don’t miss reading the article. I’m listing her strategies and adding my own quick thoughts.

  1. Adopt an “I Won’t Quit” Mindset. Make that decision ahead of the situation. When Dave and I began talking about marriage together, we both stated pretty emphatically that, for us, divorce would be off the table. I grew up in a blended family and divorce impacted all my brothers’ adult lives. With Dave, it was extended family who experienced the pain of divorce, and his family felt that pain. Marriage has had its hard seasons for Dave and me, but we fought through together. [Not everyone gets that opportunity as the other spouse can ditch the marriage without your input. I get how painful that is.] Whether in marriage, friendships, work, or physical/mental health, an “I won’t quit” mindset gives you fortification in hard situations.
  2. Watch Someone Else Persevere. It is a beautiful and poignant thing to watch when loved ones refuse to quit. I’m not saying to be a doormat or to continue to take terrible abuse. What I’m talking about is when people keep pressing forward in tough work or relationships when everything in their being and all those around are screaming, “Quit!” Two women come to mind here. One friend went though a struggle early in her marriage when her husband had an affair. All our friends (but me) advised her to divorce him and make him suffer for what he did to her. I asked her, “Do you still love him? Because if you do, and you could imagine being willing to take him back…wait.” She did love him and she decided to wait. He came back, wholeheartedly repentant. They went on to have a beautiful marriage, children, and now grandchildren. Another friend is in the furnace of a difficult relationship right now. I am watching her persevere. She has strong faith in God and a few deep friendships who are cheering her on. I believe she/they will make it.
  3. Call Someone. This is huge! I’m thinking have more than one person you can trust to be with you (and for you) in this arena when quitting feels like all you want to do. If you’ve already decided up-front that you want to not give up, these friends and family can stand with you when the battle has exhausted you. They are for you. Hopefully they are also for your spouse and family member. It’s better to have folks who are fighting for you AND for your relationship. Not out of some scruple or moralistic platform, but because it’s your life and your battle. It’s what you want. [That may change at some point down the road, and if it does, these same people who love you will still be there.]
  4. Go Back to Your “Why”. It’s extremely important to have a why for not giving up. A list of why’s, even better. I have loved ones very close to me who, if treated badly or served poorly, will determine not to trust an individual or business anymore. They just won’t go back. This is a much smaller situation than a deteriorating relationship. However, I’ve never understood the why and, after reading Fabrega’s piece, I plan to ask. These same people do not quit on family relationships, for which I’m grateful. So…we need to go back to our “why’s” of staying in relationship, or in a job for that matter.
  5. Find a Different “How”. If a difficult boss is blocking the way for you to succeed at a job you once loved, figure out a respectful work-around. If the approach you have always used for managing conflict in your marriage isn’t working, think of a different way. If you continue to struggle with managing a healthy lifestyle or avoiding cycles of anxiety/depression, seek help (counseling, coaching/mentoring, medical advice, support groups). Find another way forward. Outlast the person or problem.
  6. Succeed at Something Else. If you have been immersed in a painful situation, determining not to quit, you may just need a respite. A brief reprieve. A focus elsewhere for a few hours or days will be refreshing. Not seeing success in an area important to us colors how we feel about our self globally. Even when success isn’t visible to us, it may be coming, so we don’t give up. For that second wind, we might be refreshed by setting our sights on areas where we are seeing success (work, health, hobbies). Preferably, we do both – staying in the battle and interspersing life-giving activities.
  7. Use Failure as a Stepping Stone. No retaliation. No victim mentality. You have already made the decision of what kind of character you want in life. Keep growing. Don’t let failure define you. It actually may not even be your failure at all. So, as much as you can yourself, live the life and be the person you want to be. It is a journey after all.
  8. Keep Chipping Away. Like Fabrega has already said so well…keep going. Keep doing what you know is right. This is part of your story. Whatever happened in the relationship or work situation, you are making a future for yourself, and maybe for your children or family. Again, who you are is much more than what you’ve come through. – How to Not Give Up – 8 Strategies For Not Quitting – Marelisa Fabrega
Photo Credit: Danielle Bernock, Instagram

I’d like to add a 9th strategy:

9. Look for Beauty. It is there. Just outside. Or just there within reach. Just in all the reasons you are you.

I’ve read all of psychiatrist Curt Thompson‘s books and he has inspired me to look for the beauty in front of us even in situations where we feel like giving up. He inspired Bill Haley to write an essay on beauty. Here is an excerpt:

“Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman from Holland, wrote one of the most truly amazing things I’ve ever read.  The context of her words makes all the difference.  She wrote them while imprisoned at Westerbork transit camp waiting to be taken to Auschwitz, where she died in 1943 at age 29.  Her diaries and letters were compiled into An Interrupted Life.

A very hard day.  But I keep finding myself in prayer.  And that is something I shall always be able to do, even in the smallest space: pray.  And I know for certain that there will be a continuity between the life I have led and the life about to begin…

I often walk with a spring in my step along the barbed wire and then time and again it soars straight from my heart — I can’t help it, that’s just the way it is, like some elementary force — the feeling that life is glorious and magnificent, and that one day we shall be building a whole new world.  Against every new outrage and every fresh horror we shall put up one more piece of love and goodness, drawing strength from within ourselves.  We may suffer, but we must not succumb…

Once you have begun to walk with God, you need only keep walking with Him and all of life becomes one long stroll.” – Bill Haley, “Why Beauty Matters Right Now”

What kind of people do we choose to be? With all my heart, I want to be one who is not giving up. My family (immediate and extended) knows I am for them. Also, hopefully other folks as well – friends and neighbors. I’m not going anywhere. This is not just a commitment. This is an issue of character that goes way beyond any circle I’m a part of. It’s the kind of person I want to be. It’s not a small thing. I get it. Probably a God-sized endeavor. God is for all of us. He does not give up. He is not going anywhere. He is in the room…and He is staying.

You may say…well, you haven’t reached your breaking point, and you are right, of course. We can’t know what it will take for us to get to the place that we want to quit. Sometimes, we have no other option but to let go, because the other person is, or appears to be, already gone. My hope and resolve is to hold out as long as possible. Who knows what difference that could make? I’m holding onto that.

Photo Credit: Dale Carnegie, Success.com

117 Never Give Up Quotes (+ My 5 Favorite Tips to Help You Keep Going) – Henrik Edberg

Photo Credit: QuoteFancy, Chester Nimitz

Worship Wednesday – Centering Prayer – The Potter’s Gate

“I want to be where my feet are.”

This curious little lyric comes from the album Sanctuary Songs. The song is Centering Prayer featuring Andrew Peterson & Leslie Jordan, a collaboration of The Potter’s Gate.

Centering Prayer calls us away from all our distractions, our plans, our worries, our over-thinking, our busyness…and calls us into a time of rest and focus on God whose presence we are never without.

Last week, I was checking out of our local free clinic with my Afghan grandmother friend. It’s always a stretching experience with trying to understand (even with an interpreter) what her health complaints are. Finally, we were finished with the doctor. As I stepped up to the counter to receive the forms for her bloodwork, specialist referral, and next appointment, I saw the sign (in the image above).

God is always with us. Period. Full-stop. That verse is one that brings to rest everything whirring around in our minds, remembering that God’s got this. Being present with a ever-present God transforms everything.

Another passage that reminds us to be still and stop fighting battles He means to fight Himself…for us…is Psalm 46. Below is the entire psalm. It is so worthy your stopping and reading along (or hear it read for you).

46 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear
,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

“Be still and know that I AM God.”Psalm 46

Psalm 46 is a glorious and victorious psalm to encourage and embolden a people beleaguered by hardship (we don’t have details but given the context it was war, or some sort of calamity or terror). The psalmist was reminding the people that God is with them (with us) and will pierce through the noise of battle, with His powerful and persevering presence. He is here today just as much as He was with His people in the psalmist’s day.

Our part, like theirs, is to turn our ears, and our hearts, our bodies to Him.

Psalm 46 begins, not with a lament or cry for help, but an anthem of praise. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear”. Then he goes on to talk about super fearful things…yet from a place of awe and certainty. Even as the psalmist speaks with great confidence about God’s presence and provision in times of catastrophe, the Lord Himself enters the psalm with the command “Be still!”

Not just “Be quiet” but “Be still”. Stop!

Stop. Come away (from the battle). Quieten yourself. Cease striving.

God calls both His people and our enemies to essentially “put down your weapons!”

Especially to His own people, He urges them (and us today) to ‘snap out of it,’ ‘wake up,’ ‘stop fearing’—acknowledge who God is—be in awe! For us to take His “Be still” and treat it as “be quiet” is not incorrect, it’s just not enough to describe what God is truly saying.

God is about His business in fighting for us and those we love. Fighting also those who would see to do us harm. We don’t know how it will go in the moments ahead of us (whether this battle will “seem” lost or won to us) but we do know His promises that hold us fast, even in battle, for now and forever.

It’s for us to “be where our feet are”. To quieten our hearts and slow our steps. To put down the phone. To find His beauty to focus our eyes on. To “breathe the life around me” and “listen as my heart beats. Right. On. Time.”

What Does “Be Still and Know That I Am God” Really Mean? – Liz Auld

Psalm 46 – Enduring Word Bible Commentary

Centering prayer prompts us to lay down our burden and determine to stop worrying. Not just as a mindfulness exercise but with the God who loves us in full view. To see the anxiety for what it is – a tool used against us to take our peace away. To recognize that the depression we experience can be lightened if we open ourselves to Him and to His people praying with and for us. To remember that all the things that distract us dull our senses to the most real relationship we have in this life and the next.

Breaking the Stigma of Mental Illness – One Song at a Time – Kathy Powell

“Centering Prayer,” written by Brian Eichelberger, Nicholas Chambers and Kate Bluett — and featuring Andrew Peterson and Leslie Jordan — invites the listener to a sense of groundedness with its calm melody. The lyrics give language to a clinically recommended practice of grounding that invites practitioners to reconnect with themselves in the present. The song, with lyrics asking for God’s help to “be where my feet are,” is itself a tool for calming anxieties and opening a more accessible prayer experience.Kathy Powell

Photo Credit: Corrie Ten Boom Quotes – Facebook

Worship with me…by just listening to this song, preparing to pray, or singing it with lyrics below:

I wanna be where my feet are

I wanna breathe the life around me

I wanna listen as my heart beats, right on time

I wanna be where my feet are

I chase my worries

I flee my sorrows

But what You give me

Is now

So take my burdens

And my tomorrows

I wanna be where my feet are, mmm, mmm

Mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm

I wanna be where my feet are

I wanna breathe the life around me

I wanna listen as my heart beats, right on time

I wanna be where my feet are

I run to capture

The next horizon

But what You give me

Is here

I get no farther

And still I find You

I wanna be where my feet are

I wanna be where my feet are (on repeat)

The ground below me

Is how you Hold me

I wanna be where my feet are

The ground below me

Is how You hold me

I wanna be where my feet are

The ground below me

Is how You hold me

I wanna be where my feet are (on repeat)*

*Lyrics to Centering Prayer – Songwriters: Brian Eichelberger, Nicholas Chambers and Kate Bluett

The Porter’s Gate Hopes to Bridge Gap Between Mental Health and Faith With New Album – Kathryn Post

A Saturday Too Quiet…Then Clarity: Room For God…Be Still My Soul – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: Corrie Ten Boom Quotes, Facebook

Worship Wednesday – Take You at Your Word – Cody Carnes & Benjamin William Hastings

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.Proverbs 30:5

God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?Numbers 23:19

“My word that proceeds from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and it will prosper where I send it.” Isaiah 55:11

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.Philippians 1:6

How amazing is it that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God!!! [Romans 8:31-39] Or that there is NO condemnation for those of us in Christ Jesus! [Romans 8:1] And we don’t have to be afraid. [2 Timothy 1:7] Nor is it for us to do good works to be approved of God. [Ephesians 2:8-10]

The promises of God and the truths of God abound in His Word. It is our choice to take Him at His word.

This can be a battle for us when we find ourselves in the throes of life in a broken world. As I write, folks come to mind – brothers and sisters in Christ facing overwhelming circumstances. The family of a 5-year-old who is in aggressive treatment for a brain tumor. The wife and children who lost their husband/father to a sudden death a year ago, marking this difficult anniversary. A family broken by a deep rift now coming up on four years with no resolution. Way too many friends in floundering marriages.

When we look at these situations, we are tempted to doubt that God sees us, that He loves us, or that His word is trustworthy. He doesn’t promise healing this side of Heaven. He doesn’t promise His children won’t suffer (in fact, just the opposite). He doesn’t promise justice (again, this side of Heaven) when we are wronged.

However….and a big however…He does promise He will always be with us. He does promise that not only does He love us but He is Love itself. He does promise grace, comfort, strength, and mercy.

Last week, at Movement Church, our worship team introduced the song Take You At Your Word. It is written by Cody Carnes, Benjamin William Hastings, and Aodhan King. Although the song has been out for some time now, I’d never heard it. In the lyrics, you’ll hear many of the truths in God’s Word. Powerful!

When I pray for and sit with friends and family in tough situations, one Scripture passage often comes to mind. Jesus had experienced rejection from many who followed Him to serve their own interests. He turned to His disciples and this conversation followed:

Jesus asked the Twelve, “Do you want to leave too?”

Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.”John 6:67-68

This is where I hope to always plant myself. In hard times and easy. In burden and blessing. The world cries out against God when it sees suffering. As believers, we may sometimes cry out as well, especially when we see those we love suffer or those who are lost or languishing under the weight of a circumstance not of their own making.

Peter has given us testimony of the way forward. Jesus, only Jesus, has the words of eternal life. Life itself. He will get us through whatever we are currently facing. He alone gives us power for this life and provision of the next. In Him. In Him. Step by step. Enough light for each step forward as we keep our eyes on Him.

We can take Him at His word.

Worship with me.

Your word is a lamp unto my feet
Your way is the only way for me

It’s a narrow road that leads to life
But I want to be on it
It’s a narrow road but the mercy’s wide
‘Cause You’re good on Your promise

Come on

I’ll take You at Your word
If You said it I’ll believe it
I’ve seen how good it works
If You start it You’ll complete it
I’ll take You at Your word

Come on

You spoke and the chaos fell in line
Well, I know ’cause I’ve seen it in my life

It’s a narrow road that leads to life
But I want to be on it
It’s a narrow road and the tide is high
‘Cause You parted the water

I’ll take You at Your word
If You said it I’ll believe it
I’ve seen how good it works
If You start it You’ll complete it
I’ll take You at Your word

I’ll take You at Your word
If You said it I’ll believe it
I’ve seen how good it works
If You start it You’ll complete it
I’ll take You at Your word

You’re good on Your promise
Yeah, I know
You’re good on Your promise

You said Your love would never give up
You said Your grace is always enough
You said Your heart would never forget or forsake me

Thank you, Lord

You said I’m saved, You call me Yours
You said my future’s full of Your hope
You’ve never failed so I know that You’ll never fail me

I say sing it again

You said Your love would never give up
You said Your grace is always enough
You said Your heart would never forget or forsake me

Hallelujah

You said I’m saved, You call me Yours
You said my future’s full of Your hope
You’ve never failed so I know that You’ll never fail me

I’ll take You at Your word
If You said it I’ll believe it
I’ve seen how good it works
If You start it You’ll complete it
I’ll take You at Your word

I’ll take You at Your word
If You said it I’ll believe it
I’ve seen how good it works
If You start it You’ll complete it
I’ll take You at Your word

‘Cause You’re good on Your promise
Oh, You’re good on Your promise

I’ll take You at Your word

Let’s go

Hallelujah*

“The great enemy of the Christian is the sin of unbelief—the sin of refusing to accept what God says and the sin of refusing to do what God says. The great friend of the Christian is the joy of belief and the joy of obedience. Where is God asking you to simply take him at his word?”Tim Challies

*Lyrics to Take You At Your Word – Songwriters: Cody Carnes, Benjamin William Hastings, and Aodhan King

Take God At His Word – 21 Bible Verses About Taking God At His Word

Where Is God Asking You to Take Him at His Word? – Tim Challies

What It Looks Like to Take God at His Word – Colin Smith

Worship Wednesday – Broken Things [Beautifully Restored]- Matthew West

Photo Credit: Heartlight

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:4-10

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”1 Corinthians 1:27-29

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”Hebrews 12:2-3

We hear the word broken almost daily – in descriptions of our world, a government, a system. Also on a more personal note: a marriage, a family, a friend. Maybe we’ve even used the word to describe some part of our own selves. Broken doesn’t have to be forever. My parents grew up in the Great Depression’s years of deep poverty. You didn’t throw anything away. Broken could always be fixed. In fact, even when not restored, sometimes broken things could still be used…well enough.

I heard this song, for the first time, today. Broken Things by Matthew West. It got me thinking about my own brokenness. Some things are obvious – weaknesses, timidities, and flaws of all sorts. Other things in my life I’ve probably done a good job of concealing, or deceiving myself that I have.

It doesn’t really matter in the end. What matters is what we do with our brokenness. Those things in our lives we consider broken are not a problem for God. He is a master re-shaper of broken. He turns those parts of us into some beautiful and good and even glorifying to Himself.

Matthew West describes the message behind the song Broken Things:

“We all have brokenness in our lives. Whether it’s a broken dream, a broken relationship, or just a broken piece of ourselves that we carry around. But God uses broken things. That’s what this song is about. It’s a reminder that God doesn’t look for perfection, He looks for a heart that’s willing to be used.

Photo Credit: Quote Addicts

Worship Wednesday – From Bitterness to Brokenness – Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Thomas Watson

Reflecting on brokenness takes me back to the account of Job’s life and losses. God allowed His faithful servant Job to experience such awful pain and sorrow that few (if any) of us will ever know. So devastated was Job, he was left only with a grief-weary wife and a few friends who taunted more than comforted him. Yet, Job did not turn from God. He cried out to God in his deep confusion, angry at times, grieving, complaining, trying to sort out the reasoning that brought him to the darkness of his life. God did not remove Himself from Job, nor did Job remove himself from God. In fact, God rebuked Job’s friends and told them to seek Job’s prayers for themselves to prevent God’s judgment on them. He also blessed and restored Job. [Job 42]

Some of our brokenness we can understand – consequences of our sin or that of others on us. Brokenness can also seemingly be without reason or justice. Job landed well in God alone. God was always his resting place, his sanctuary. Job knew the answers lay with a loving Father. He did not allow pride, pain, or shame keep him from the Lord. May we follow his example.

May we surrender the broken things of our lives into the hands of a God who won’t shame us for them but will restore us to be used of Him mightily here and to be kept for His kingdom forever.

Where else would we go?

Worship with me in the healing truth of Matthew’s West’s Broken Things:

If grace was a kingdom, I stopped at the gate
Thinking I don’t deserve to pass through after all the mistakes that I’ve made
Oh, but I heard a whisper as Heaven bent down
Said, “Child, don’t you know that the first will be last and the last get a crown”

[Chrous]
Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours

[Verse 2]
The pages of history they tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with the scars that You use
Oh, it’s the rebels and the prodigals; it’s the humble and the weak
All the misfit heroes You chose, tell me there’s hope for sinners like me

[Chrous]
Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours
I’m all Yours

[Outro]
Grace is a kingdom with gates open wide
There’s a seat at the table just waiting for you
So, come on inside
*

*Lyrics to Broken Things – Songwriters: Matthew West, A.J. Pruis, Jason Houser

What Does the Bible Say About Brokenness? – Got Questions

God Uses Broken People – 4 Reasons God Uses the Weak to Do Amazing Things – Diane Shirlaw-Ferreira

Scorning Its Shame – Adam Moran

Scorning the Shame – The Disciple-Making Parent

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Lanny Henninger

Monday Morning Moment – Healing from Sorrow and Grief – with Adam Young, Francis Weller, Curt Thompson, & Jesus

Photo Credit: C. S. Lewis, Allume

So much sorrow and grief in the world…if you clicked on this blog at all, with such a sober title, then you are facing what is true for you, and for all of us.

Take a moment more and let’s sit together over this. Or if you have 2-3 friends or family members you deeply trust, gather them for a talk that will begin the healing of both a current grief or a distant sorrow. Losses, whatever they are, endure in our minds and bodies. If we leave them unshared, we still attend to them, either by the work of keeping them buried or by numbing them with the aid of our idols or addictions.

“When I stopped trying to block my sadness and let it move me instead, it led me to a bridge with people on the other side.” … I learned that sadness does not sink a person; it is the energy a person spends trying to avoid sadness that does that.”Barbara Brown Taylor

When you think about a sorrow, grief, or loss in your own life (current or past), what comes to mind? Something always comes. We are all experiencing a global sorrow in the war brewing in the Middle East. Here in my town, a young widow and an older one are daily finding their way forward through grief. For you, maybe it is a past loss of great import…or even one you think is only important to you. If it’s important to you, it matters to those who care about you. We self-edit and compare our sorrows, but they stay strong and real in our own life experience.

What can we do to heal the ache of these sadnesses? To refuse to isolate ourselves and our losses from community? To experience hope again?

Just today I came across the incredibly helpful series of podcasts on sorrow and grief by the therapist Adam Young.

How to Heal from Sorrow and Grief – Part 1 of 5 – Adam Young Counseling – Podcasts 132-124, 137, & 138

Adam Young describes the four conditions needed to allow us to work with sorrow and grief:

  1. We own that our sorrows and griefs matter and should be taken seriously.
  2. We need to gradually move from a posture of contempt toward our sorrow and grief to a posture of compassion and kindness and welcome.
  3. We need to find a few people who can be the village for us… allowing us to risk sharing our sorrow and grief with other people.
  4. We need to move our bodies in a way that allows for the integration and release of our sorrow and grief. Adam Young

We can be very hard on ourselves regarding our sorrow and grief, because somehow we think we should get over it or not care so much or ___________________________ (fill in the blank). Even when we push our grief into the deep interior of our minds, or we try to forget through our “drugs” of choice, it is present. Closer to the surface than we imagine.

Photo Credit: Francis Weller, Pilates Embodied, Pinterest

In the above podcasts, Adam Young quotes psychotherapist Francis Weller extensively, which is a huge help for those of us who have yet to read Weller’s book The Wild Edge of Sorrow. Weller emphasizes the impact of grief over time, on our minds and bodies and relationships. He encourages community as the place, or people with whom, to release our sorrow.

Francis Weller Quotes from his book The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief

I’ve been reading The Deepest Place by Dr. Curt Thompson (the fourth book he has written and the fourth book of his I have devoured!). Thompson talks about the common nature of suffering in all our lives. Once we embrace that fact, then we can be more open and honest with “villages” of people who are there for us…and we for them. This has been so healing for me as I’ve opened up about my own sadness regarding the rupture of my extended family and the pain we have all suffered from it.

A group of us just today were hearing an update from a friend who has endured through a chronic illness for which her doctors have found no solution…yet. She is tired and struggling. Reading Thompson’s chapter on perseverance reminded me of her ordeal. Her faith in God and her determination to keep open and close to her community have given us all hope that the future will be brighter for her…and we will be there with her for it.

Healing from Trauma: the Power of “Being With” – Parts 1 & 2 (Podcasts episodes 141-142) – With Curt Thompson MD and Adam Young

That new landscape that C. S. Lewis talks about (in first image above)? It’s one we have the privilege of seeing together when we show up for one another…especially in sorrow and grief.

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Being Known Podcast – Season 7 – Confessional Communities – Curt Thompson MD

Worship Wednesday – A Lament on War – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures

Many say of me, “God will not deliver him.” Selah But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head.Psalm 3:2-3

Blessed be the LORD, for He has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I give thanks to Him with my song.Psalm 28:6-7

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.1 Peter 5:7-9

Last night, in the car leaving his taekwondo lesson, our 7 y/o grandson wanted to talk about the most recent conflict between Israel and Palestine. I was shocked that he knew about it given such an adult situation. Maybe he heard his parents talk. Maybe they were praying as a family for the conflict…now war.

He had amazingly mature thoughts and questions about it. You can imagine that it led to a discussion that went all the way back to Adam and Eve and all the way forward to Heaven and Hell. He wondered if America would ever have war and what that would look like. We talked about both the sadness of the situation for Israel and Palestine, and we talked about what our response as Christ-followers must be.

I grew up in the 60s and 70s. During the Vietnam War era. I also grew up with a mom who taught us not to hate. It was never acceptable. If we loved Jesus then we did not have the privilege or luxury or burden (however you see it) of hating another individual or group of people. It went against everything we understood of Jesus, including His very own teaching to love even our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

During the Vietnam war, the culture was mixed (as it is today) with opinions on what was right and what was wrong. In high school, I wrote letters of encouragement to soldiers (brothers, friends, and sometimes strangers who became penpals). Writing to boys only a few years older than me…gone to war.

In college, I, like so many others, participated in protests of a too-long and too-costly war. Protests and prayer vigils.

The music and film of that day reflected our struggle. Some of the songs that have stayed with me for all these years have been “Teach Your Children Well”, “Children Will Listen”, and “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”. Do you know them?

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

YouTube Video – Mandy Patinkin Sings You’ve Got to be Carefully taught; Children Will Listen Medley

In these days, we cry out to God for the sake of Israel and Palestine…and the rest of the world, not knowing what will happen in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

It feels very weighty.

A lament to God…many laments…are appropriate.

Photo Credit: YouTube

In the book study When You Pray, author/speaker Jennifer Rothschild gives 5 elements of lament:

  1. Address God. (Focus your prayer on the One who hears and answers.)
  2. Pour out your heart. (Bring Him your complaints and concerns.)
  3. Request help. (Ask God for what you need.)
  4. Express trust. (Affirm your faith in His character and His Word.)
  5. Praise Him. (Worship Him because He is worthy.)

“Confessing trust in God is the hinge that turns our grieving into grace, tears into trust, and worries into worship.” Jennifer Rothschild

If you’re like me, you’ve lost confidence in much of what we see in the news. Or at least, we sift through several accounts of events to determine what might be true.

This I know: something catastrophic is happening in the Middle East right now which will most probably have a wide ripple effect into coming generations. There is much to lament here. God’s face is the only one to which we can look with complete trust and confidence.

So here we are…

Worship with me to the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir‘s rendition of the lament in Psalm 3.

Many are they increased that troubled me
Many are they that rise up against me
Many there be which say of my soul
There is no help for him in God

But Thou, oh Lord are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head
Thou, oh Lord are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head

[Repeat]

I cried unto the Lord with my voice
And he heard me out of His holy hill
I laid me down and slept and awaked
For the Lord sustained, for he sustained me

Thou, oh Lord are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head
Thou, oh Lord are shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head

[Repeat Twice]
For Thou oh Lord are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head
Of my head
My head*

*Lyrics to Thou O Lord as sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir