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He Raises the Needy out of Affliction

he-raises-the-needy-out-of-affliction2Oh boy! Did that title catch your eye?

I hope it did! I think we all qualify as “the needy” from time to time. I certainly have!

It can (but does not necessarily) mean financial need, but it can also be emotional, medical, physical, spiritual, etc.

How are you “needy” today? Is everything copacetic? Nothing to complain about?

On one hand, if that’s true, I celebrate with you, but on the other hand, to some extent, we all have needs, so if we claim that, we are, well, um, kidding ourselves!

We may not be desperate right now, but there are a few things on our wish list. How could there not be?

  • God, please heal my child of this disease, this disability, this behavior.
  • Jesus, my marriage is a wreck. We are just, well—disconnected. Is he having an affair?
  • Lord, wow, I am really scared about my bills this month. What if they turn the heat off? It’s 20 degrees outside this week.
  • My child is hanging with the wrong set of friends and making bad choices. I need him to turn his life around.
  • I’m really scared my daughter is going to marry that guy. He’s not good for her.
  • My car is about to die, and I don’t have the money for another one right now.
  • I am being asked to do something dishonest at work, or I could lose my job. I need a way out of this.
  • I can’t get him to stop drinking.
  • I found porn on the computer and am not sure how to confront my family members.
  • I need more than that prescription is covering to manage my pain. I think I may be dependent.
  • Oh my goodness, I really miss him. Why did he have to die so young?
  • What if I never get pregnant? Will my husband still love me?
  • I forged a check once, and the law caught up with me. Now I’m afraid I’ll lose everything.

You get the idea.

Here’s the thing. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Take It to the Healer

Take It to the HealerWe drove to the Deep South for post-Christmas fun with my husband’s sisters, their families, and his Dad. As I looked out over the Alabama fields, I told God:

“My heart hurts. What healing do You have for me here?”

I believe He always wants to heal our wounds. It’s part of what He went to the cross for.

You know what? I found His hugs, warmth, and love in watching young cousins have light-saber battles and in playing rowdy games of “Nuts” with my nephew and nieces. I watched each God-given personality interact and shine. I saw their faces as once-babies now in mostly/almost adult form.

And I thought of this verse:

Psalm 27:13, KJV, King David speaking

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

We must see God’s goodness in everything He gives us because death, disease, addictions, injuries, and sin are thieves we can become embittered hating if we don’t focus on the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. At times, it’s a minute-by-minute choice, or else we’d lose our minds and hearts to deep grief, shame, or disillusionment.

Sometimes, seeing His goodness is so hard for us because of our incredible pain. He knows this, so we can ask Him to help us. We absolutely should.

John 15:7, ESV, Jesus speaking

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Our family of five, along with two rather compliant Shih Tzus, began our road trip back from Alabama and traveled as far as Knoxville, Tennessee, when the text came in that my 26 year old cousin Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Why Grieving Mothers Find Comfort in a Tattoo

Why Grieving Mothers Find Comfort in a Tattoo
I am so thrilled to be able to once again feature my sweet friend Tammie here at Espressos of Faith. Tammie’s life first touched mine when we both resided on the tiny island of Kwajalein in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. During that time, Tammie and her husband Rick experienced unfathomable loss, and ever since, their lives have been on an amazing trajectory to healing, hope, and even joy again! Life will never be the same, and Tammie is extremely honest about their painful journey; she readily admits that some days are extremely difficult. But she has found purpose again, and her heart beats to bring healing to other grieving parents. She wants to share how she and her husband are finding their way again. In the process, Tammie and Rick made a choice to forfeit regular income and steady jobs to travel around the country volunteering, giving back to others in celebration of the life of their son. As passionate as they are about suicide prevention, they are equally driven to love those left behind as they open up their lives to us, sharing their source of love, comfort, hope, and promise.

Without further introduction, here’s Tammie…

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For those who are asking if that is really my tattoo: Yes, it’s true.

“What are you thinking? You are not the kind of person who would get a tattoo.”

“You have to be kidding! That is not your style.”

“You know what people think about tattoos? You will be judged as soon as they see it.”

“Well, if it will make you happy, then do it—but I would never do it.”

These are some of the responses I received when I shared my desire to get a tattoo as a tribute to my son Joshua. They were all very kind in the way that they said it, and I truly knew that they were trying to comprehend something that was just outside all of our comfort zones.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Taking the Word “Limitation” out of Our Vocabulary

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The other day the sweet mother of one of my son’s friends told me after a playdate that my son has a real “calming/mellowing effect” on her son.

Um, what now?

This is my Hyper Tigger—the one with ADHD. “Calming,” did you say? Most days I do not feel calm in his presence. He bounces around and brings endless joy, but he isn’t exactly what I’d call

still

or

calm.

Surely she’s confusing which parent I am.

But that was my first mistake: thinking that my son couldn’t be strong in an area of weakness.

What looks like a limitation from one angle is usually a blessing from another. Why couldn’t he be soothing to someone else? Why does hyper have to define him 24/7?

Does it?

My second mistake was not believing her the first time. This is the second time she has told me that. I doubted my own son because of my own limited experience and the label put on him.

You know what I see in that? God working through our weaknesses. They don’t have to be limitations when we are willing to see the labels of man as just that: “labels.” I had new appreciation for my limited view into the future when really I have no clue what weaknesses will be used for good or become strengths over time.

Who is to say a socially awkward child doesn’t turn out to be an amazing therapist, minister, salesperson?

Do fine motor strength issues rule out a future in surgery or art?

Does a struggle to read in early intervention years mean someone can’t end up a teacher—or a writer?

What about a speech delay or impediment? Does that mean no public speaking?

My poor spelling child works harder than either of my other two kids. A love of reading would have helped, but this child didn’t read as easily. Because of hard work in this area, this one may surpass us all.

So it made me ask myself: Why do we stop ourselves in the middle of the road (where labels weigh us down), accept what is given, and not consider getting across it?

If my father had accepted the first prognosis from the first medical professional 34 years ago with his first cancer, he would have welcomed a death sentence: terminal. Um, he’s still here.

He decided to cross the road.

I am socially anxious and very inward. Some days I have to talk myself into leaving the house, and yet, when I am where God wants me to be, with the people He wants me to either learn from, receive from, or minister to, He makes it easy. Suddenly, I’m not such a buffoon. I have some right words to say. And I walk away knowing something more about Him and about what amazing paths I can travel down when I don’t stop right where someone told me I had to because I wasn’t “strong” in that area.

I challenge us all to find where we have believed a label as a permanent mark on our lives, where we have sat in the middle of the road accepting our plot.

I’d like to suggest that permanent mark should be considered more of a washable marker. It’s movable, sometimes—but not always removable. It doesn’t have to stay there. Sometimes we can push it further. Sometimes we can push it entirely off.

Does that mean we will change every diagnosis? Every handicap? Every disease?

Not necessarily, but it does mean we look beyond it and see where we can act in spite of what was spoken to us. I have a dear friend fighting to raise money and awareness for her Type 1 Diabetic child. Do you think as a mother she is accepting that diagnosis and just rolling over and taking it? No. No, she is not. Another friend was told her child would not likely walk. She didn’t accept that. Friends beating up cancer with everything in them. Friends hoping and praying their “on the spectrum” children become functional adults, able to hold jobs and maybe even have families someday. A severely autistic child who writes amazing poetry. Folks climbing out of addiction and hoping their day count of sobriety continues to climb.

For me, because of my faith, I call in the impossible because I’ve seen too many very real, modern day miracles to think God can’t and doesn’t still move in our lives when we ask.

For me, limitations are just invitations to ask Him to wow the world with what He can do.

I realize I’m not the first to write on this. I also know some of us are sitting in the middle of the road still, heavy and weighted down, not sure how to get up and move on. I also know not everyone reading this shares my faith in Christ.

But can we agree to get out of the road where circumstances, prognoses, medical professionals, special education staff, teachers, family members, tests, etc., dropped some kind of definitive statement on us, and can we start walking to the other side?

Because when we stay stuck in those labels, those definitions, we end up getting hit by everything else coming down that road. We get beat up, discouraged, worn down, until hope is roadkill flattened in front of us, and we’re left to peel it off the pavement just to get some of it back.

When I am in that place, I want people to hold my hand and remind me to finish crossing, to be bold, to hold on, to pray for promise and hope. And I want to be the warm hand helping others look beyond these things.

Why can’t my Tigger nurture, calm, and settle another little soul his age? Why is it so hard to believe he is defined by far more than ADHD, and why wouldn’t God want to show the world His glory by working through how we see Little Man and showing us what is possible if only we’d believe?

I don’t know, but this one innocent, yet powerful statement from this sweet mother taught me everything I need to know to get out of the road right now. Will you come with me? It’s much better on the other side, where hope and possibility reside.

Luke 1:36-37, an angel of the Lord talking to Mary, telling her she would have a son, ESV
“And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Luke 18:27, Jesus speaking, ESV
But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2014 in ADHD, Renewing Our Minds

 

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Journey to Joy: How Giving Back Brings Hope and Healing to Hurting Hearts

Journey to Joy-How Giving Back Brings Hope and HealingI am so thrilled to be able to share another part of Rick and Tammie Wommack’s story here at Espressos of Faith. I know these dear friends from my time spent in the Marshall Islands, a time when their world shattered into unbearable heartache. For anyone knowing or currently mourning tragic loss of any kind, this blog is for you. It’s also for others to understand the journey the heart takes in these hard circumstances—and the hope and healing that come through giving back. Thank you, Tammie, for being vulnerable so that others know where to get their bearing again and what life looks like on the other side, each day offering a choice as to how we will let ourselves be used for good. Tammie’s honesty and humility are so refreshing. What she offers us here brings my heart to this exact place, and I can’t wait to bring yours there too, if you’re willing to give it a read:

Psalm 27:3, King David speaking, NKJV 
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.

[After losing their son to suicide, Tammie and Rick made a choice to forfeit regular income and steady jobs to travel around the country volunteering. For Part 1 of this story, please refer to “Honoring Josh: A Mother’s Heart in the Aftermath of Suicide.”] 

Blessings!
Bonnie Lyn Smith, author of Not Just on Sundays

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Here’s Tammie….

The Interview

HOPE through FAITH and SERVICE to Others

Most of us travel through life just trying to get through it, not really realizing how what we do impacts others. We would like to think we are kind, generous, trusting, and all the things the Bible tells us a good and godly person should be.

The reality is we are busy: with work, families, finances, commitments, appointments, shopping, daily chores, and so many things on our to-do list that we are too tired to even think about how our actions, words, and deeds might be affecting others. I am confident that if you really contemplated this question and took the time to think about it, as I did this morning, you would find that most all of us impact others in our daily lives, no matter how busy they seem.

The questions then become:

Are we impacting them in a positive or negative way? 

Are we showing them an example of Christian love?

Can they see Jesus in us?

The other day while we were traveling through Iowa, I received a phone call from someone who wanted to write an article about Rick and me. They wanted to know how we got started on our Volunteer Journey: how we find volunteer jobs, what motivated us to choose this lifestyle, how we fund what we do, etc. Most of all they wanted cute, heartwarming stories about the people we helped—something that would really tug at the heartstrings of the readers.

I didn’t have any of those—heartstring stories to share. We do not really see the impact of what we do, but we know it does not diminish the importance to us on our journey.

This morning, as I was doing my devotional, I thought about her questions and my response (I’ll share my response later). I still couldn’t really think of any heartstring-tugging moments that are a result of what Rick and I do. Most of what we do is rarely even seen by other people.

It does, however, have a impact on us. And that is the real story.

We are healing and growing in Christ, learning every day to be more like Jesus and to help others just as Jesus would if He were living an everyday, “normal” life.

We are simply living a lifestyle that allows us to find joy again—a joy that we thought would never be ours.

In our hearts, we believe that we are saving lives when we teach water safety to young children.

We are keeping God’s house clean and getting it ready for visitors when we are working at the campground.

We enjoy doing all the little, behind-the-scenes details that have to be taken care of so that ministers and counselors can share the Word of God and lead children and adults to Christ.

So many of our volunteer jobs are just that: jobs. But in the work, we find hope and healing, God’s grace, and, yes, joy. We find joy in everyday living and in the wonderful people we meet, in the places we visit, and in the personal and quiet knowledge that what we are doing makes a difference and is part of God’s path for us.

By societal standards, we are not successful: We live in a camper, drive a very old truck, own few possessions, have very little money, and, yet, we find ourselves happier than we can ever remember being. We are rich in the knowledge that we are saved by grace and are following God’s plan for our lives. Through this grace, we have found:

Hope
Love
Forgiveness
Healing
Joy

So my response to the interviewer that day was more or less:

“This is not that kind of story. We are not outstanding people on a mission to help others. We are not looking for praise for all the wonderful things we are doing. We are certainly not missionaries.

It is not a story about the people we have helped. It is a story about how giving back has helped us.

We are simply ordinary people who have suffered a tragic loss and found healing through giving back. The story is really just that simple! We did not start out feeling that God had called us to go forth and help others. Our journey is one of evolution; we started out just running away from home and memories, not really sure what we were seeking but still very much stuck in our grieving. We finally realized (not both at the same time) what we were doing each time we were volunteering was actually helping us to move forward through our grief in to a life filled with purpose and hope. We began to heal and find joy again. It was not overnight; rather, it was a gradual process. We are still traveling that journey but believe that if we have any kind of story to tell, it is one of hope through Jesus Christ and healing through giving back.”

2 Samuel 22:29, author unknown, ESV
For you are my lamp, O LORD, and my God lightens my darkness.

I suspect that our story was not what she was looking for, although she did say she would send it to her editor. We are not looking for the spotlight to shine on us.

Isaiah 66:2, Isaiah the Prophet speaking, ESV
All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

The only story we have is how this journey has helped us and, in turn, has helped others. That is what we hope to share and what we would like to spotlight for other parents and family members who are lost in the grieving process. Hope through faith and service to others will help you heal and find your joy in life again.

1 Timothy 4:10, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

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A great resource for suicide prevention is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

To find out more about Tammie and Rick, you can read part of their story at http://www.gofundme.com/Giving-Back-For-Joshua.

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Sticky Notes from God [Excerpt]

Espressos of Faith is committed to posting excerpts from Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day in the weeks leading up to publication. (This is Excerpt #2.) Many of the stories within Not Just on Sundays are inspired by trying to view life through the small moments of life, by zooming in on something we might otherwise miss, much like my photographer friends do through an actual lens. Sometimes the greatest blessings and lessons are in the simple things. I hope we all look more each day to find those “sticky notes” God sends just for us, often blessing us through other people.

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Sticky Notes from GodA dear friend of mine from my island days came to visit; sadly, I was away at the time, so she and her husband hung out with Salad Boy* and the kids without me. She was unaware of the incidents I encountered the week I was gone, but when I came home, she had left me sticky-note messages all over my house, reminding me of God’s love and her friend love. She had no idea the heart returning home needed to see and feel something tangible that was the very definition of love (my own family also reminded me of that). God knows what we need, and He sends messengers to deliver the messages. We are not always tuned in to see it, but He does this. And I love it! Open my eyes to see it more, Lord! You are awesome!

So, I got to thinking how God also leaves us sticky notes. They are all over our Bibles, sure, but they are also penned by those who love us, like my sweet island friend. Salad Boy and I don’t write each other notes a lot in the everyday rhythm of our lives. I wish I could say, being a writer, that I wrote him long confessions of my love, daily, but alas, I do not. But in a rare moment when he felt inspired, as he left for work, he said: “Have a great day at work, Honey.” I don’t work yet for regular pay. Not yet. But it doesn’t matter if it is a writing day or a “keeping house” day or a “running around on errands” day, he gets it. He gets every bit of it, and I just love him to pieces for it. He was my sticky note from God that day. It was verbal, but it was a blessing.

Sometimes we are the ones writing the sticky notes. One day, this was my sticky note to a friend of mine who did not share my faith. Life had taken her down a road where she had taken a bite out of the bitter apple one too many times. Don’t we all get to that place some days? I wanted to speak some of God’s Truth to her. She didn’t magically embrace my faith. We often need a whole stack of sticky notes speaking truth to undo the hateful, untrue ones we have received.

Dear Friend:

I have many thoughts, and I probably can’t get them all down, but I do hear you on feeling betrayed, abandoned, disappointed. I think when so many people have poorly reflected back to you your worth, it is easy to think they are reflecting God as well with their awful choices to be devastatingly hurtful. I can understand why that feels like it is God acting (or not acting in some cases). This is a great discussion for a time when I can go more in depth, but I encourage you to realize humans failed you over and over again, but God knows that and has a heart that aches for you. This may not make sense right now or feel real. I had to spend a lot of time getting “human” out of my way of seeing God. Humans can really disappoint and screw it up sometimes. They kept getting in the way of me seeing God. It’s hard to distinguish. It’s hard not to feel left out in the cold at times, especially after all of your rotten experiences. I hear you on feeling like you “did all of the right things” or “followed all of the right rules.” I am sure He sees that. The coolest part for me in my faith (or perhaps the biggest relief) is that, while I want to do all of the right things because I love Him, my relationship with Him isn’t dependent on that. I don’t have to be perfect or measure up.

I want to be praying for you that the lies and untruths that all of those people (those who abused their responsibility to “tend your heart and soul”) spoke to you will scatter and that God’s love for who He made you to be will be the only voice you hear. I am still clearing out my own cobwebs and telling old tapes playing in my head to stop, but each time I do, I see myself through God’s eyes more clearly. It’s the only version of me I fully love—because He does.

Blessings,
Bonnie

Where can we see God reaching us through another person’s love or act of compassion today? Where can we be that sticky note in someone else’s life, speaking blessing and encouragement, bringing hope?

*My affectionate name for my husband because he’s on a fitness/health kick

**Update: Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day published October 1, 2014.

This blog was shared at A Little R & R.

 

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