The last couple of days I’ve been thinking about trees. On the way to work I love to watch the sunrise through the branches of the trees. It’s absolutely beautiful! The more I thought about those trees, the more I realized that it was the twisted, gnarly branches that give them their beauty. I was particularly drawn to the trees that were made unique with extra twists and bends. In the winter you can clearly see every detail, even the parts that others might consider imperfect. There is beauty to be found in the trees of winter, as those gnarly branches withstand the cold and storms.
But there is also hope in the knowledge that the trees will bud again and bring new life. In the spring, when the trees are in full bloom, people won’t be able to see that those twisted and gnarly branches are the things that actually give the leaves and blooms their beautiful form. Those who look on those trees, robust in their foliage, won’t remember or realize what lies beneath unless they take the time to look deeply. They will just glory in the beauty before them.
I’m looking forward to the spring.
When Mom saw a need, she would drop to her knees (well, figuratively—stupid arthritis) because she had great confidence that on her knees was where she would find the answers. When I was a child, many evenings my mom could be found sitting on her bed, with her bible open before her, and her head bowed in prayer. That picture is a perfect image of my mother and her resolute belief in the power of prayer.
I first saw this in action when I was a little girl. My mom loved her dad, but he was not a believer. This grieved my mom. For thirty years she fervently prayed for his salvation. I will never forget seeing my grandfather’s transformation when he realized he needed Jesus. And I now rejoice in the knowledge that they are fellowshipping together in heaven.
Mom often struggled with insomnia, although frustrating at times, she just saw it as an opportunity to spend more time at the feet of Jesus. On oh so very many days, as we would sit and talk, and share, and laugh, she would tell me about the burdens of her heart and all the loved ones and situations she had prayed about the night before as I blissfully slumbered in the next room. I was often inspired and awed by her capacity to love and think about the needs of others.
She prayed over her family—her husband and children, and later their spouses, her grandchildren, and great-granddaughter.
She prayed over her family—her husband and children, and later their spouses, her grandchildren, and great-granddaughter. She fervently petitioned God on our behalf. She prayed for our protection, that God would provide for our needs, but I knew her greatest prayer was that we would grow in our love of Jesus and honor Him with how we lived our lives.
She also prayed for people she had never met. She was the only person I knew who scoured Facebook for prayer opportunities instead of gossip. I was humbled as I watched her pray for people like Caleb Freeman and Opal Rose Trimble—both strangers to her, but she was burdened to pray for them. It was so neat to be a witness to her rejoicing when she saw God move and answer a prayer.
There’s an old Randy Travis song called When Mama Prayed. The verses of the song tell a story that belongs to another family, but the chorus, the chorus… well, the chorus could have been written for my mama.
The chorus says:
As my heart grieves because of her absence, my greatest desire is that I can continue her legacy. Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be if no one had ever prayed for me. There are people all around me with needs. Need for a savior, need for healing, a need for hope. I pray that God would open my eyes to those He puts in my path, and that I would bow at the feet of Jesus and petition Him on their behalf. I can think of no better way to honor my mama.
A month later I’m still trying to grapple with the reality that my mom is no longer a part of my daily life. I’m still trying to accept the reality that she isn’t sitting in the next room. I’m still trying to answer the question, “How did we get here?” When I drove my mom to the emergency room on February 16, I never could have imagined that was the last time she would be in our house, the last time she would sleep in her bed, or sit in her chair. It never really occurred to me that she wouldn’t get better, that she wouldn’t be coming home.
But here I am, walking through this Mother’s Day without my mom. This last month I have tried to find my way through the deepest grief I have ever known. I cry everyday, and some days I think the tears will never end. I have told my husband several times. “I’m just sad.” Sad—it’s such a simple three letter word, but it has never felt more appropriate in my life. When I think about my mom, I have no regrets. We had a really good relationship and I loved being with her. The void her absence has created is immense.
Don’t be misled, sometimes we fought, sometimes we got on each other's nerves, but at the end of the day we loved each other with a deep, true, pure, love. My grief is just as deep, true, and pure. I feel like a piece of myself has been ripped from my heart.
So how do you move forward when a part of your heart is gone?
So how do you move forward when a part of your heart is gone? How do you take the next step when it feels like your breath has been stolen from you? These are questions to which I’m trying to find the answer. I find myself in the middle of a conundrum. My mom would hate to see me so sad. Unending grief isn’t something she would want for me. But how do you laugh, smile, and find joy again when one of the people you most loved to share those things with is gone?
As all of these questions and thoughts have drifted through my heart and mind these last weeks, I remembered the most fundamental thing my mother and father taught me. They taught me that our needs (physical, emotional, and spiritual) will always be met at the feet of Jesus. So in my grief, I found myself opening my bible and being reminded of some of God’s truths. Truths, that although I knew, I had forgotten.
I’ve been reading through a Bible reading plan called Hope in the Mourning and it has given me a lot to think about. When unexpected things have happened in my life, one thing my mom and I would often say to each other was, “This isn’t a surprise to God.” Knowing that God is never caught off guard would give us peace and hope in the midst of the uncertainty. If my mom could talk to me right now, I think one of the things she might say to me is, “Sharon this wasn’t a surprise to God.” God knew the day and time my mom would be called home to heaven. He knew that my mom’s absence here on Earth would break my heart. But I also believe that God has no intention of robbing me of my joy.
“....weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning” Psalm 30: 5 NASB
God wants to sustain me and he still has plans for me. This truth also reminds me of one of my mom’s favorite verses (she used to quote it to me all the time). Jeremiah 29:ll says: “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 a hope and a future.” God’s plans are not negated because I have a broken heart. He longs to draw me to himself. I think the next two verses, although not quoted as often, may be more important. They say, “Then you will call on me and come to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:l2-13)
When I call out to God, he will listen. He cares about my grief. And he cares about my tomorrows. He is compassionate and doesn’t want my sadness to overwhelm me. He longs to be my refuge, my safe place . I can find shelter underneath his wings (Psalm 91:2, 4).
My grief isn’t going to disappear tomorrow. I know tears are going to follow me for many days into the future. But I know that I am not alone. God is my refuge and shelter and he is not afraid of my big emotions. He has given me an amazing, supportive husband to walk beside me. I have also been gifted with a dear family and close friends to share both my heartache and my sweet memories. I know that a day will come when laughter and joy will outweigh the grief and sadness. This is my steadfast hope and this hope anchors my soul. (Hebrews 6:19)
We’re about six weeks into 2020. Just far enough to move on from all the reflecting I did as I rang in the new year. Just far enough to start to get bogged down in the everyday demands of life. Just far enough to forget all the promises I made to myself as the new year began.
I have always enjoyed that time between Christmas and New Years. It’s kind of a no man’s land for me. I have time off from work. There is no where I have to be. I can sit, rest, and decompress. Then January comes and life seems full of possibilities. But by the time February rolls around, I find myself back to the grind at work, and I’m buried by all the demands that come with adulting. Before I know it May will be here, school will be out, I’ll take a week or two to breath, and then I’ll start preparing for a new school year. I’ll blink and another year will have passed.
I long for deep and genuine relationships with people and with God.
I long for deep and genuine relationships with people and with God. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve said I want to go out to lunch with a girlfriend or I really should call….fill in the blank….and see how they’re doing. I think about friends I haven’t talked to in ages and wonder what they’re up to. But I’m plagued with inaction. I’m an expert at making excuses. And if I’m honest, I’m a bit lazy, hoping someone will reach out to me first.
Many people start the new year by making resolutions, or setting goals. Others choose a word to focus on for the year. I personally like the idea of choosing a word for the year. Resolutions and goals, for me, are just too easy to break, and then I beat myself up for not staying the course. I’ve spent a lot of time the last few weeks kicking around words. Words that hold special meaning for me. I’ve tried to find a word that would both inspire me and guide me. A word that would drive me to be my best self. Grace....Satisfied....Restored....are some of the words that have been marinating deep in my soul.
Grace….Satisfied….Restored….are some of the words that have been marinating deep in my soul.
Grace is such a beautiful word. I have been shown so much grace in my life by God and by others. But I have learned one of the most important things is to show grace to myself. I tend to be pretty hard on myself. Learning that I’m pretty a-ok just the way I am has been a journey.
Along the same lines is the word satisfied. I have been working and learning to accept myself just as I am. I am enough. I am satisfied with who I am. There is nothing more or less I could do to make God love me more. I don’t have to do anything extra.
Restored is the other word I’ve been thinking about. Restoration is a powerful thing. Taking something that is battered, scarred, and broken and making it like new is a miraculous thing. I’ve spent much of my adult life carrying scars from multiple traumas. I was letting those difficult and heartbreaking experiences define me. I have felt so blessed as I have worked to renew my mind and restore my heart.
These are all great words. There isn’t a bad one in the lot. But I’ve come to realize that as important as each of these words are for me, none of them are the right word as I venture into this new year.
I’m not naive. I know this coming year will still bring with it many stresses and experiences that I can’t even begin to contemplate right now. But my hope, when I come to the end of this year, is that my life will be fuller and richer because I choose to intentionally embrace this wonderful life I’ve been given.
I was asked to be a guest blogger for Living52. I was very honored to be given this privilege. They asked me to share my thoughts about what it means to be resilient. I wan't to share the post here too. Please checkout their website and like their FaceBook Page. Their initiative is impactful and moving.
I was 24. I was sitting in a doctor’s office. And I was desperately hoping that this doctor would be different. I was hoping he would finally have the answers I was seeking. You see, for the previous six months, I had been a spectator as my body carried out a mutinous attack against me. I had been to more specialist than I realized existed. I was searching for answers. I was watching before my very eyes, as my body deteriorated and betrayed me. The majority of these brilliant minds agreed that something was seriously wrong as they assessed my symptoms. But no one could put a name to the debilitating pain and fatigue I was experiencing. In late December of 1999 I found myself alone sitting in this doctor’s office hoping against hope that this doctor could finally put all the pieces together and explain why the body of a relatively healthy young woman was imploding.
All these years later, I still remember the doctor walking in and gently shaking my hand. He visited with me for about five minutes, asked me a few questions, and then he said, “You know you have Lupus, right?” As those six words washed over me, I quietly responded, “I know...I just needed a doctor to confirm it.” You see in that moment, I wasn’t upset or angry (that would come later), I was relieved. I was relieved to finally have an answer, a name. I was very much relieved to know I wasn’t crazy or losing my mind.
With those six words, my life drastically changed forever.
I won’t hesitate to tell you that my life has been hard, but I want you to hear this next thing very clearly--that doesn’t mean my life has been bad. As I thought about what I wanted to share in this post about resilience, I actually sat down and wrote out a list of all the notable traumas, difficulties, and disappointments I’ve faced in my life. The list was long. I won’t share them all--some are quite personal. However, they include major surgeries, multiple chronic illnesses, death, loss, and heartbreak. These things, these heart events, have shaped me into the person I am today. Because of them I am stronger, bolder, more tenacious. I love deeper, laugh harder, and fight more ferociously than I ever thought possible for the things I believe in. I am a survivor. I am a warrior.
I am a survivor. I am a warrior.
You can’t hide from the hard things in life. They have an innate ability to find us. But we have a choice in how we choose to handle those hard things. I absolutely refuse to let the difficulties of life overwhelm me. Trauma may shape who I am, but it does not have to define me.
This weekend I was blessed as I got to attend my church’s Ladies Retreat. It was a time for me to think, to laugh, and to grow. As I sit here on this quiet Sunday afternoon, I have been taking some time to look back over some of the notes I took over the last two days. Looking through my plethora of messy scribbles, I found one statement that stuck out: “When Jesus heals us, He sends us home to tell our story.” Jamy Fisher, our bible teacher, made this statement in reference to the many stories in the bible where after Jesus healed someone, that person went back to their families and towns and shared what had happened to them.
The last few years I have been on a journey towards healing. I began my forties hurt, wounded, and pretty angry with God. You see my thirties were dark, difficult years. That 10 year period began with a failed marriage that rocked me to my core. I was hurt, betrayed, devastated, ashamed...the list could go on. The decade ended with my youngest daughter running away from home. Once again the air was knocked out of my lungs as my heart crumbled into a million different pieces. During that time period, my heart cried out over and over “Why?!?!” “Why is this happening?!?!” My faith was shaken and I was angry with God. I knew Jesus was my hope. I knew, in Him, I would find healing. But I didn’t feel like being friends with Him, and I definitely wasn’t in the mood to talk to Him. Even though I knew I should trust Him, I wasn’t sure if I was willing to trust Him with my life, my heart, my future.
During this period I learned that God isn’t afraid of my anger. No matter where I am in life, He loves me just the same. I’ve always believed in the promise that “joy comes in the morning,” but morning doesn’t always come on a fixed schedule. Sometimes we have to thoroughly exhaust our anger and pain before we can move forward. I know God is there waiting to share the hope of a better tomorrow. However, He is also patient enough to let me process and grieve when need be, and I am so thankful for that.
Sometimes, we’re angry for so long though, we clutch tightly to it, we become friends with it.
Sometimes, we're angry for so long though, we clutch tightly to it, we become friends with it. It becomes something we are so familiar with that we don’t want or know how to let it go. This is what happened to me. I finally came to a place in my life where I wanted something different. I wanted to find that elusive joy. I wanted to sit at the feet of Jesus. But I had a problem. My anger had become my constant companion. I didn’t know how to kick it to the curb.
By my 40th birthday my church attendance had become sporadic, who knows the last time I had opened the pages of my bible, and I definitely wasn’t praying. I had set aside my foundational beliefs in favor of holding on to bitterness. Because that’s what happens to anger when you hold on to it too long—it becomes bitterness. I longed for healing. I longed for restoration. But I was so very lost.
As a side note, I want to say that even then, God loved me. Even then, God’s hand was on me, and He was protecting me. You see in the middle of that 40th year, in the middle of that anger and bitterness, God still loved me enough to send me Robert. God wanted (and still wants) the best for me. And in the middle of all that ugliness, God sent me the best husband (future husband at the time) I could have dared to hope for.
As I saw Robert’s genuine relationship with God, it encouraged me to begin seeking again. Even though I wasn’t “feeling it” I decided to find my way back to church. I made a resolute decision I was going to go. I was going to be there every Sunday no matter what. Can I tell you how hard those first weeks and months were?
Church was the last place I wanted to be.
Church was the last place I wanted to be. I’ll be honest; some Sundays I sat and played on my phone during the sermon, but I kept coming Sunday after Sunday. Slowly I began to listen to the sermons more and more. And then I began to ask, how does this sermon apply to me? Please hear me—this was a very slow process—I’m talking months and months.
When Robert and I married, we not only made a commitment to go to church, but to also get involved in Sunday School. I think connecting with small groups is so important. This small group of people have no idea how they have ministered to me. They have loved me sincerely—my rough edges and all. Through this small group I started studying the word again. I found myself reading scripture again and reminding myself of truths I learned as a child. And I began to pray again—to talk to God, and believe and know that He was hearing my heart.
Each step I took back towards the feet of Jesus, I took because I knew that was where I’d find my peace, not because I was “feeling it.” I really want to point this out because I know that many times in my life I have thought that if I didn’t have this big emotional moment with Jesus, then it wasn’t real or legit. Part of what I have learned over the last few years is that I can count on Jesus’s promises whether I’m “feeling it.” or not.
Pain really and truly sucks.
If that offends you or makes you feel uncomfortable I’m sorry. It doesn’t matter whether it’s physical pain or emotional pain. Either one can become overwhelming and drown out everything else around you. I know because I’ve had way too much of both in my life.
However, in life, we seldom get to do what we really want, and unfortunately, you don’t get a day off from Lupus. So, when faced with the potential of debilitating pain—pain that would consume me if I let it. In those moments, what I actually do is bare down, grit my teeth, and become a first class actress who is an expert at manipulating her audience into seeing only what she wants them to see.
You may not realize this unless you’ve lived with chronic pain, but pain, all to often, makes other people uncomfortable. So, I have learned that the way to handle it is to put on a plastic smile and just endure. My closest friends can usually see through my facade, but I’m pretty good at fooling the rest of the world.
I made the decision years ago I wasn’t going to let Lupus stop me from living my life. Sometimes I pay for that decision when it causes my lupus to flare, but I don’t regret the decision.
I don’t know what it is you may be facing today. Maybe it's chronic pain like me, or maybe it’s emotional pain from personal tragedy or trauma, or maybe it’s something else. I want to encourage you to keep going, keep holding on, keep taking the next step. I don’t type those words lightly. I know from personal experience, that sometimes, it might seem easier to surrender—to give in. But on my most difficult days I’ve had two things that have given me strength: the love of family and friends and the hope of a great God.
In Joshua 1:9 it says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” NASB
With love, strength, and God given courage, you and I can continue to embrace life even on the really hard days. Don’t give up my dear friend.
I often feel inadequate about so many things. Like many others, I am my own worst critic. It is so easy to be unkind and harsh with myself. Much of the time I feel like my flaws and shortcomings stick out like a green neon shirt. I definitely can’t miss them, so they must be glaringly bright to all those around me.
What is it in my life that I need to accept? The longer I’ve focused in on the word, the more I found myself looking inward. I came to realize that before I can truly accept anyone or anything else, I need to learn to accept myself. This should be my starting place. How incredibly wise to make this the first word on a list of meaningful words.
I could almost instantaneously start a list of all the things I don’t like about myself or the areas where I believe I fall short. If I’m honest with myself, I often feel inadequate or that I’m a failure. I feel so flawed and cracked.
I feel so flawed and cracked.
My life has been filled with scars and hurts for so long. It’s hard to believe that I can become anything useful and beautiful in God’s sight again. Instead of embracing who I am and choosing to accept myself, I tell myself that “I’m a failure” and “I’m not enough.”
I am coming to realize that I need to clean house and exterminate these destructive thoughts from my life. In dwelling on these negative opinions, I have come to see how detrimental these messages are. I have allowed them to dwell in my heart and mind. Because of this, I view everything in my world through the filters of failure and self-disapproval. None of these thoughts bring glory to God or reflect His truths. Neither do they honor myself or who God made me to be.
The truth is, however, I can be so quick to be overly critical and harsh with myself, when in the same instances or circumstances, I wouldn’t hesitate to extend grace to someone else. Grace is such a beautiful thing. It should be freely given when the need arises, but I am oh so quick to withhold it from myself.
But how would my life look different if I truly could learn to accept myself?
But how would my life look different if I truly could learn to accept myself? Accept all my imperfections and shortcomings. If, and it’s a big if, if I can resolutely choose to accept myself, if I can choose to show myself grace and choose to receive the Grace that God so freely gives, well, then, God can take the dried, cracked vessel of my life; he can rework and remake it into something completely new.
You see, for a long time I have prayed, “God please make me that girl I used to be. The girl who could be used by you.” But now I’m beginning to wonder if maybe I was praying the wrong thing. Maybe I should be praying for God to remake me into something new. A new, more mature woman with scars that are healed. Scars that might allow me to help someone else along the journey.
Our pastor once told us about an ancient Japanese art of fixing broken pottery called Kintsugi. It is when an artist takes broken pottery and repairs it. Instead of camouflaging the cracks, the repairs are made with gold, silver, or platinum. The artist intentionally calls attention to the cracks by filling them with precious metals. Through this process, the piece often becomes even more beautiful than it once was, while still honoring the history of the piece. What a beautiful picture I can take for my life. God can take all the flaws and difficult pieces of my life. He can put them back together and make me whole again and more beautiful than I was before.
What is something from 2019 that you are proud of?
I’ve seen several of my friends pose this question several times on Facebook over the last few days.
The first time I saw the question I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t think of one thing I would consider an accomplishment from this year and that made me profoundly sad. The only thing I could think of was, “I survived.”
I sit here as the year comes to a close feeling so battered and bruised. There was a part of me that wanted to leave the words, “I survived,” on the post, but I feared no one reading the words would really understand the magnitude and weight those words carry for me. I was afraid someone would think I was being flippantly funny, and if they responded with a funny comeback, it would have added another wound to the ones I carry.
I chose not to respond to my friend's post, but I have pondered the question posed by her and several others. This year was a hard year for me. There were no big personal tragedies. It was just a hard year with everyday stresses that at times have seemed totally overwhelming. If you are my friend on Facebook, or most of my acquaintances for that matter, you would have no idea that this has been an extremely difficult year to walk through. The truth is that sometimes pictures and Facebook posts don't tell the whole story.
The truth is that sometimes pictures and Facebook posts don’t tell the whole story.
A few days after seeing the question asking what I was proud of, I was scrolling through Facebook and the following words grabbed my attention: May the tears you cried in 2019 water the seeds you’re planting for 2020.
The words reached out and spoke to me. They gave me hope. Hope for tomorrow. Hope that although this chapter may have been bitter, disappointing, and downright painful, this is not where the story ends. Many chapters have yet to be written.
I’ve been thinking a lot the last couple of weeks about the word Hope. Way back at the beginning of 2019, I claimed the word Hope as my word for the year. I was going to hold on to it, let it encourage me. I thought I would have a year where Hope was fulfilled. I don’t know if Hope failed me or if I failed it, but I kept thinking that somewhere along the way I screwed up. I had this belief that a girl who chose to cling to Hope ...well, her life would look very different then mine does right now.
And then Sunday...Sunday at church they shared this scripture...
“I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: GOD ’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with GOD (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.”
I’m not sure who else those words were meant for in church, but I know they were meant for me. It was like all the wondering I’ve done was answered in those verses. Even though I’ve been down and sad and overwhelmed, God has gone nowhere and he’s not going to go anywhere. He is my Hope, my eternal, everlasting, never ending Hope.
I shared some of this post with a friend earlier this week as I was processing my thoughts. She asked me to think about something… Of all the ways you could answer the question, “What is something from 2019 that you are proud of?” can you think of any better answer than, “I survived.”
“You made it. You’re here. You survived and persevered… There is no better answer.”
So my friends, I survived 2019.
I have chosen to share these thoughts and be vulnerable because I realize that I’m not the only one for whom 2019 may have been a difficult year. If that’s you, I pray that my words may encourage you. If you’re struggling and wondering what your purpose is, I won’t profess to have all the answers, but I want to remind you that our God is real, his promises are true, and in Him we can find our source of hope.
My mom and I traveled this past weekend to Denver to visit my brother, Joe. For those of you who don’t know, a few days after Christmas my brother was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma. It is an aggressive type of cancer that has attacked by brother’s central nervous system. Some of his symptoms have included double vision, severe back pain, and difficulty swallowing which has inhibited his ability to eat.
Other than about a five day break where he stayed at his father-in-law’s, my brother has been in the hospital since December 25th. Joe was going through his third round of chemo while we visited. The chemo has made his legs incredibly weak necessitating the need for a walker, and he also has had to battle extreme fatigue among other things.
I almost didn't recognize him.
It was so good to see Joe, although I almost didn’t recognize him. He has lost almost 70 pounds in the last six weeks. He is also missing his trademark goatee that has adorned his face for the last 20 years.
I was so thankful for the 3 days mom and I got to sit beside him in the hospital. It was so good just to be in his presence and know that he was okay. I guess I also hoped that even for that short period of time, my mom and I could help him and Angela carry this load. Even though it is Joe who is battling this cancer and enduring chemotherapy, my hope is that he knows that he is not walking this road alone.
What is it that God wants to teach me?
Since I have gotten home, I keep asking myself what is it that God wants to teach me from this experience. I’m not sure I know the answer, but I do have some thoughts.
I’m ashamed to admit this, but I have prayed more in the last weeks, than I probably have in along time. But as I’ve lifted my voice to God, I have felt his acceptance, not condemnation. And I have watched him answer prayer after prayer. I have watched my mom and others pray for very specific things, and I have watched as God has answered those prayers. We have specifically prayed for Joe’s vision to improve and as I sat beside him these last days I watched him as he was able to focus his eyes for longer and longer periods of time. That, my friends, is God answering prayer. I also sat beside Joe as he prayed in faith that we would be able to find something important that had been misplaced. Within minutes the lost item was located down in the cafeteria when someone could have easily walked off with it.
I was also humbled as I watched Angela over the last days. I watched her show great love to her husband, serving him, meeting his needs, and standing right beside him as he endures this trial. Watching her has encouraged me to love my husband the way she is loving hers. From beside her husband’s hospital bed she continues to parent and take care of her children, she is taking care of the affairs of their home, she is staying on top of all of Joe’s treatments and the information the doctors are giving them. She is doing all these things and not once did I see her complain. It was an incredible example of love in action.
It was an incredible example of love in action.
I also watched my brother. He is incredibly sick. He is extremely uncomfortable in his own skin right now. And he desperately wants to go home. I think it's fair to say, he’s miserable. But, and it’s a big but, but with all of that, he daily showed genuine love. I watched him intentionally reached out to those around him. I was so impressed as I watched him. He knew the name of each and every care worker that came into our room from the nurses, to the CNAs, to the janitors. If he didn’t know their name when they walked in, he did before they left. He also knew little details about many of their lives. God has put him in this hospital room for this time and instead of pushing pause on life and ministry, he is choosing to be deliberate about living life and loving people.
The last night we were there, an old family friend stopped by to visit. As he visited with Joe, Joe began to share some of what God has been teaching him as he walks through this season of his life. Joe said that he has really come to see that it’s all about loving God and loving people. He went on to share that God was helping him to really see people. He’s come to realize that there are a lot of hurting people in the world and sometimes they just need a smile. And sometimes we need to stop being afraid and open our mouths and talk about Jesus. We need to reach out and meet the souls of men--That is spreading Jesus.
We need to reach out and meet the souls of men...
As I listened to Joe basically preach, I began to realize that I want to see people the way God is teaching Joe to see them. People all around me are hurting. What am I doing to reach out and love them? When was the last time I was bold enough to talk about Jesus and what he’s doing in my life? How can I more genuinely love the people around me? God is definitely using Joe even in these difficult days. He used him and the truths God is teaching him to speak to my heart.
I pray that these words would encourage and maybe minister to you too. I also challenge you to look at those around you with fresh eyes and ask yourself how you can show them love and the truth of Jesus.