The Burden of Compassion

Hang with me.  This is long, but there is a great lesson at the end of this post that can help you talk to someone who is suffering.

There seems to be so much suffering around me right now.  Since January 1st of this year it seems as if someone I've known has passed away each week.  Sometimes 2-3 people in a week.  I've heard of cancer diagnoses as if its epidemic in our county.  I often wonder if its really more rampant or am I just getting older and am more aware of death and know more people in the older generation?  Part of me hopes that this increase of tragedy around me is God's way of ushering in the Tribulation.  Lord Jesus I am ready to go home!

Right now I am reading through Job in the Bible.  For those of you who many not be familiar with the story I will give you a very abbreviated, laymen's version:  Job was a righteous man; God even called him "blameless."  God allowed Satan to "test" Job through a series of horrendous, mind-altering calamities.  Job lost his sons, his fortune and his health.  The book of Job is a series of conversations between Job and the 3 friends who come to him to provide comfort and advice.  The comfort that they try to offer becomes ridicule and condemnation.

The three friends, with their self-righteous attitudes, tear Job down as they berate him with their false philosophy that God punishes the wicked man and rewards the righteous man.  Surely Job is lying about his sins since God's wrath is upon him.  Their words of "encouragement" are bitter, mocking and only add insult to injury.

Job questions God many times.  He is angry with God but Job never curses God.  He remains faithful in his trust that God's hand is still upon him, even though it is unseen.  Oh, how many times have I felt that way! I couldn't begin to count the times that I cried out to God asking why he had forsaken our family.

(everyone really needs to read the book of Job.  Seriously.  Go and do it now!)

How many times have you been to a hospital room to visit a dying relative?  Do you have a friend that has cancer?  What about your best friend's husband who has been laid off of work and they are barely making ends meet?  I'd like to offer you a suggestion as you try to being a friend to them during this time.

Iva May says "People who have not suffered struggle to enter into the sufferings of others." Do you get that?  It's the very definition of empathy.  Sympathy is a totally different thing.  Empathy means that you have been there.  Empathy means that you are actually able to share in a persons suffering through mutual experiences.

To be clear, just because you haven't experienced the pain doesn't mean that you can't be a  comforter during your friends time of mourning.  Please don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying that at all.  But what I am suggesting is that you guard your words carefully.  Beware placated comments such as "They are in a better place," "At least they aren't suffering any more," or "God just had a different plan for her."  While all of these things are true, they can come across as condemnation or trite to the one suffering.

Unless you speak from your shared experience, you need to remember that only God can comfort the soul of the hurting.  Go.  Sit with your friend.  Hold the hand of your best friend.  But guard your words.  I can tell you from experience that your silent presence will make the most profound impact.  Because to the suffering, there are really no words that can make anything better for them.  Only Christ can provide the peace for which their soul so desperately yearns.

As Erik and I continue to pray about the Go Lucy Go Foundation I have been brought to my knees every morning as I read through Job.  Here are two points from my Chronological Bible Study (Iva May):

  • "Identification with, acts of service, and kindness bring greater consolation than words spoken." 
  • "Those who've suffered either become bitter toward others and God, or they become softer, kinder people who enter into the sufferings of others. " 

Through this reading I feel as if my spirit has been renewed and my energy for the Foundation has been revived.  I would like to ask for your prayers this week as we are exploring some exciting opportunities related to the Foundation.  I want to be completely in God's will and not in my own.  The great deceiver is working on my heart but I know that God will reveal His plan in His time.  

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which ourselves are comforted by God.  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. " 2 Corinthians 1:3-5


Oh, We Missed You!

Well hello Mr. Sunshine!  We sure have missed you.  It's been a balmy 55 degrees here and you would think it was Spring.  We've been outside as much as possible, soaking up this amazing weather.  I sure don't want to wish the days away but I am ready for some longer-lasting warm weather.  I've decided that I'm a much better visitor to cold weather than resident.

We've been riding bikes, going for walks, playing soccer and today we went to the park to play on the big playground while Ella was at soccer practice.  Erik and I even managed to get in a little run after church.  Banner day in my books!

Ella had her second basketball game of the season this Saturday.  She is playing Upwards again, but she's moved to full court this year.  It's been a huge adjustment for a lot of the kids, but thanks to soccer and cross country Ella's in pretty good shape (at least for the running part).  Lucy loves to go watch her play, as she is always Ella's biggest cheerleader.  Jack could care less but is happy that he gets DS time during the game.

I think the best part of my weekend has been watching the sunset at night.  Each night seems to outdo the one before.  Such a wonderful reminder on this Sunday night that God's hand has touched every single part of this Earth.  


Dr. Appointments and Prayers

The Go Lucy Go Foundation serving Christmas dinner at LeBonheur 

Today I take Lucy back to the ENT.  Over Christmas she lost about 70% of her hearing which of course scared us to death.  It was almost overnight that it happened.  Immediately the mind goes to dark places that no one should ever know.  Once tumor related causes were ruled out (praise God!) we honed in on excessive fluid behind her ears--although she wasn't sore or bothered.  Lucy did a round of antibiotics, started wearing her hearing aids again, and we all started praying specially for restoration of her hearing.  I think when we go back today the ENT will recommend that she have tubes placed.  I know that doesn't sound like a big deal to you, but for Lucy every surgery is a big deal.  The risk of infection is what we worry about the most.  But honestly, I don't know that fluid sitting behind her tempanic membrane is any more "safe."  It seems like a breeding ground for infection to me.  Anyway...prayers are appreciated as we make this decision.  

Speaking of prayers.  Have you done it lately?  Not just in a moment of crisis or worry.  But really, really prayed.  I'm talking about the kind of prayer where you just lay it all out on the table and let God know what you are thinking and feeling.  The kind of prayer that when you are done you feel 5 pounds lighter?  Isn't worry and fear such a huge burden to bear?  I have found that when I am most worried or most angry its mostly because I haven't prayed about the situation.  In most cases, a prayer won't immediately take your problem away and it won't totally vanquish your worry.  But what it will do is allow God to enter the equation and touch your heart and mind in a way that only He can do.  His peace intercedes.  

You've heard the old saying "Have you prayed about it as much as you've talked about it?"  Now, for me the answer is usually "No.  I haven't."  I wouldn't be one to talk about it really, but more so one to start trying to fix the problem myself.  Surely God needs my help, right?  I mean, I'm a take-charge kind of girl who likes to make things happen--yesterday!  Tomorrow is never soon enough.  

As I've been reading through my Bible study I was struck by the story of Jacob returning to Esau after years of being separated.  Jacob was truly a man of God, but he was so stubborn and worldly on so many levels.  As he prepared to return home he was just sure his brother would kill him.  So he prayed, and I truly think he prayed with a pure heart.  However, instead of waiting and letting God answer his prayer he decides that he needed to take matters into his own hands.  He schemes this elaborate plan and practically gives away half of this earthly blessings from God just so that he can make sure he had a firm grip on the outcome of his situation.  Let me tell you----that is ME!  Surely God needs my help, right?

Do you see this lady above?  Her name is Rebecca and her daughter is the Ava that I have asked prayers for so many times.  Yesterday they got news that Ava's tumor has progressed.  It was devastating news and they are beyond heartbroken.  Could you imagine any more dire situation than theirs when you would be hard pressed to not want to take matters into your own hands?  The fate of your child is in the balance and you must now choose what to do.  This amazing family, these parents of Ava, have fully placed their situation in God's hands and their testimony is continuing to touch lives every singly day.  Faith.  Hope.  Prayer--that's all they have.  And really, isn't that all the rest of us have too?

You might not be battling cancer or dealing with a life threatening illness but what have you not prayed about today?  Is it a career choice?  Is there a decision about purchasing a new home?  What if its a decision to start a non-profit organization and you still don't have a clear picture of what it should be but you know that you are supposed to start one.  If you are wondering, I'm talking about me there.  The Go Lucy Go Foundation is my daily "give-it-to-God" matter that brings me to my knees every week.  

God continues to answer my prayers but just not in a way that I would like.  I'd like the 5 year plan and they flow-chart on what GLG will look like.  I'd like the step by step manual that tells me what I need to do and what I can expect day by day.  God is choosing to answer my prayers a little at a time.  It is mind-numbingly frustrating to be complete honest.  The Foundation has been a test of faith and trust from day one.  I have a feeling it will continue to be because I truly believe God is using this vessel to shape our family into something great.  

So today--I encourage you.  Give that issue to God.  It won't be easy and no one will blame you for fighting it tooth and nail the whole time, but I can assure you that if you truly hand it over you will find peace.  If only for today you will find peace.  One day at a time.  After all, we aren't even promised tomorrow.


Disney and Diets

Day 5 in the books with this Whole 30.  Things are going well and I'm experimenting with lots of fun new recipes.  I'm like a full time chef these days.  I'm subbing this week at the school and being gone all day reminds me how hard it is to work all day and then get everything else done around the house.  I have the utmost respect for all you moms who work outside the home.  It is HARD!  

I am working on uploading and editing all the pictures from the Champions trip.  I may be done by 2017.  Dang!  I took a lot of pictures.  I'm making a photo book of them so I won't be sharing all of them here but I wanted to post some along the way.  Have I ever mentioned that I love Disneyworld?  Seriously..I could go back right now.  

I also wanted to share the website to the Chronological Bible Study that I am doing. I bought the printed version because I love to put pen to paper.  It's why I'm addicted to paper planners I guess.  Each morning you can check the CBS website for their daily blog post which accompanies that day's reading.  There is a mini devotional that goes along with it as well as questions to help you better understand what you read.  

http://www.chronologicalbibleteaching.com/category/blog/  or click HERE


A Time for Resolutions

Have you made your New Year's Resolution(s)?  I have.  I'm not usually one for making them and then I'm not usually one for sharing them with other people.  I feel as if they are pretty private promises you make to yourself.  In hopes of actually keeping the resolutions I made this year I've decided to share them today.  Not for any other reason except that I verbalized them.  Here.  For anyone and everyone to read.  Maybe if you see me out and about you can ask me how I'm doing keeping these guys.  Accountability is the key to my success I'm quite convinced.

Resolution 1: Complete Another Whole 30.

I'm sure most of you have heard of the Whole 30.  Right?  Well, if not I highly recommend that you read about it and try it out.  You can wrangle over semantics and argue that Whole 30 isn't a diet, but I consider it more of a lifestyle change.  The last time I did one I figured out that I was allergic to nuts and aspartame.  Even with cutting gluten out of my diet, thanks to my Celiac disease, I ached and hurt and felt bloated all the time.  The aspartame sensitivity was worse than the nut allergy.  When I say it was killing me I swear to you..it. was. killing. me.

I did one whole 3 last year and at the end of the 30 days I felt amazing.  My joints didn't hurt, I wasn't bloated anymore and I lost 10 pounds.  Now, weight loss is not the reason you are supposed to do a Whole 30, but let's be serious folks.  If I'm giving up tortilla chips and hummus then I better darn well  fit into those expensive jeans that are folded up in the top of my closet.

Today is day 2 and as crazy as it sounds I already feel a difference.  I think this time around I am going to pin point corn as my aggravater.  I LOVE corn in all its many yummy forms.  Tortilla chips, however, are my Achilles heal.  They always have been.  I know that my body doesn't like dairy so giving it up isn't as hard, although I sure love cheese.  Anyway, 28 days to go on this cycle.  I'll report back periodically.  Three pieces of advice is that if you decide to a Whole 30:

      1.  READ the book, It Starts With Food.  Seriously.  Read it.  (this is not a paid post.  just think                        
                                    you really need to read the book!)
      2.  Make out your meal schedule for the week, if not longer.  You can plan when to use leftovers    
           and when you need to make soup.  It's not an easy plan so beware!  It takes a lot of work but        
           you easily fall into the groove once you get the hang of eating healthy.
     3.  Pinterest will be your best friend.  I get almost all of my meal ideas from Pinterest.

I promise I won't post a picture of every meal I make but I did want to share this one.  Doesn't it look yummy?  I told Erik that everything looks good on my new dishes that he gave me for Christmas.

Resolution 2: Read the Bible More

Not a lot of explaining needed for this one.  I don't read my Bible on a daily basis and I really want to start. I am currently teaching Sunday School so I don't get to go to my Sunday School class and I miss it so much.  It was my time of the week to get fed spiritually.   I've purchased a Chronological Bible and the accompanying study book.  This set was highly recommended by some friends who have done this study so I think it is something I'll be able to stick with.

You can find about more about this study HERE.  My Bible is in but the workbook is not.  It should come in tomorrow so I hope to get started Tuesday morning.

Resolution 3:  Be a More Prepared Mother and Wife  

This is not super easy to explain nor is it easy to quantitate.  I just feel that most of 2014 was muddled through in a hurried mess.  I want to be more intentional with each and every day.  Maybe I don't take pictures of the day, maybe I don't blog about it, maybe I don't accomplish a lot of my to-do list.  That's ok.  I just want to be able to go to be at night and know that I "lived" the day.  Maybe I do take pictures, maybe I do blog and maybe I do check off 10 items on my to-do list.  As long as I was intentional and present in the day I will be happy.

To get myself off to a good start I sat down today and worked backwards into a morning schedule that I think will get my off on the right foot each morning.  I know that if I don't wake up and get ready for the day before my children then I spend the rest of my day chasing my tail.  So..here's what it looks like:
5:20 wake up and fix hot tea
5:30-6:00 Bible/prayer time
6:00-6:30 get myself ready for the day 
6:30-6:40 wake kids up 
6:40-6:50 prepare breakfast
 (this is a huge part of the morning since we are living Whole 30 right now)
6:50-7:15 kids dressed and fed
7:20 out the door

As they say "the best laid plans......"  I'm going to try my best not to sabotage myself or set unrealistic expectations along the way.  But I'm a big believer in making a plan and trying to stick with it.  Maybe..just maybe this will be my year to keep my resolutions!  Now if I could just get the kids to hate Doritos.....