Monday, 11 February 2013
I spoke in an earlier post about the shame and guilt following my son's decision to end his life. I questioned so many things I did as a mother. I not only questioned myself but I found myself questioning God, too. Probably the biggest question was, "Why didn't God stop my loved one from killing himself?" Not only was "I" on trial in my thoughts .. but I also attempted to make God defend Himself on the witness stand.
I remember the shock that followed those early months. I couldn't believe that God had allowed this. Hadn't I spent years praying for my son? Hadn't God answered so many of those prayers? I honestly believed that my prayers would be answered in exactly the way I had prayed. I couldn't believe that it had ended this way. I had so many unanswered questions.
I spent unprofitable time pursuing answers to this kind of questioning and it kept me in a prison of darkness. The answer never came... at least not in the way that I was asking the question. It was only after I changed my thinking about God and the situation that I eventually found peace.
While searching for answers I was reminded of the book of Job and how he had lost all of his children unexpectedly. I had spent time in this book after my husband became disabled for I knew that Job had suffered physically. I now began to sift through those pages again. This time hoping to find out how Job responded to the loss of his children.
I discovered Job had questions, too! *
- Why didn't you let me die at birth?Job 3:11
- Why didn't you dry up my mother's breast so that I would starve? 3:12
- Why do you keep wretched people like me alive? 3:20-22
- How do you expect me to have hope and patience? 6:11
- What do you think I'm made of anyway? Stone? Metal? 6:12
- If life is so short, does it have to be miserable, too? 7:1-10
- Why don't you back off and quit hurting me for awhile? 7:17,19
- What did I ever do to You that I became the target for Your arrows? 7:20
- Why don't You forgive me before I die and it's too late? 7:21
- How can mortal man be righteous before a holy God?9:2
- Why do You favor the wicked? 9:24
- Since You've already decided I'm guilty, why should I even try? 9:29
- You're the one who created me, so why are You destroying me? 10:8
- Why do You hide Your face and consider me Your enemy? 13:24
- Why don't You let me meet You somewhere face to face so I can state my case? 23:3-6
- Why don't You set a time to judge wicked men? 24:1
I discovered that Job did not find comfort by his questioning either.
The answer I was looking for was found towards the end of the book. God asks Job this heart probing question, "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" God might as well have asked that question of me! "Georgene, where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding."
God then begins interrogating Job with His own round of questions. Questions that will make it clear that Job lacks the knowledge and understanding to interpret life's difficult questions.
Here are just a few:
- Who made the limits for the sea saying how far it could go?
- Have you entered the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?
- Have you commanded the morning to appear?
- Were you there when I (God) laid the foundation of the earth?
- Have you commanded the morning since your days began and caused the dawn to know it's place?
- Have you entered the storehouses of snow?
God ends His first round of questioning by saying, "Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it." (Job 40:2)
Job's response is life changing:"I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth". Job 40:4What changed Job's heart? What stopped the questioning? His body was still covered in painful sores. His children were still dead. His wealth was gone. What laid his questions to rest?We finally get a glimpse of what is going on in Job's heart, "I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you." (Job 42:3)Job bowed beneath the majestic greatness of his God. The complaining stopped and so did the questions because his view of God had been exalted. God was elevated to the rightful place of sovereign King who alone rules in wisdom over the universe He created.
"I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,but now my eye sees you;therefore I despise myself,and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:5,6)This is where I laid my questions to rest. I was incapable of rightly judging this situation because I was not God. I was brought to that same place of humility, as my brother Job, where I bowed my heart in humility and said, "I repent for questioning you God. You alone are God and I choose to trust your character...even (and especially) through this dark valley that I do not understand".
You keep him in perfect peacewhose mind is stayed on youbecausehe trusts in you.Isaiah 26:3
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
It became clear that I didn't have to find an answer to life's unanswerable questions.
The tormenting thoughts slowed down to a trickle once I made the decision to trust God! Keeping close watch over my thought life became essential in the coming days. God gave abundant grace to take each thought captive with Scripture,... take every thought captive to obey Christ.. (2 Cor. 10:5)and then to renew my mind according to the truth of Scripture....to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of lifeand is corrupt through deceitful desires,and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,and to put on the new self,created after the likeness of Godin true righteousness and holiness.Ephesians 4:22-24
The accusing thoughts and questions still bombard my thoughts at times. But, now they are greeted as an unwelcomed guest where before I would allow them to take up residency. I'm learning (again) that I must choose to obey His Word and trust Him.... today... in this moment.. and in this heart breaking trial.Be still, and know that I am God.I will be exalted among the nations.I will be exalted in the earth!”Psalm 46:10
Because of Christ,Georgene
* Permission granted to use these questions from Secret Strength by Joni Eareckson Tada.
Scriptures used from the ESV bible. Underlining is my emphasis.
Monday, 14 January 2013
One year anniversaries can mark many things. Often, they are reminders of happy events.. a birthday, an anniversary, a year free of cancer. Today is the one year anniversary of the death of our youngest son. I cannot say that it marks a happy event. For our family it marks a day that is filled with the memories of some very dark times marked by many tears and deep sorrow.
It’s taken me a year to be able to write the words that follow… our youngest son committed suicide. Even after one year of the Lord gently working me through the grief from his actions I still experience a horrific pain when I face the decision he made to end his life.
But, today on the one year anniversary of his death, I do not want to focus on the darkness of this past year. I want to share with you the constant thread that so evidently wove it’s way through the ups and the downs of this past year. The evidence of the Lord’s presence with us through the ministry of family and friends and the comfort and power of His Word were our saving grace.
In some ways this past year reminds me of the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were thrown into the fiery furnace. Their faith in God did not rescue them from experiencing all that the trial produced. But, as they were thrown into that furnace the Lord made His presence known to them. He was in the furnace with them. That is the overall banner of this past year. God has been with us!
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 42:2-3 (ESV)
I’m not sure I can even adequately share with you all that God has done over this past year. I believe the greatest measure of His presence has been through His Word. His Word has been a light that has shone bright through the darkest valley and when I have looked to Him for direction… He has directed me safely to the next step. I have fallen many times but that has only been when I have taken my eyes off His Word and listened to the lies of the enemy.
The first night after we had arrived in Texas (where my son lived) I began to plummet emotionally. We had been busy throughout the day with many details but after loved ones had gone to their rooms for the night then I was bombarded with many dark thoughts. No one knew what was going on inside my head… not even my husband. But, the enemy of my soul was throwing his fiery darts of accusations and instead of taking up the shield of faith (as I had known to do in times past) I accepted each hit. Suddenly the phone rang (as it had all day). I had not been taking any of the calls. I just couldn’t talk to anyone. But, at that exact moment the Lord gave me grace and I picked up the phone and the Lord ministered to me through the words of a dear friend on the other end of the line. She had lost a relative through suicide and was able to encourage me through those first dark moments. After our phone conversation ended I picked up the Gideon bible found in the hotel drawer and started reading. The Lord brought to mind a scripture I had not thought of in literally years. His Word instantly filled my heart with peace and that scripture became a very important weapon in my fight against the guilt that would hound my soul over the coming months.
The Lord would continue to minister His Word to each struggle I would face in the coming days. Some were given in my quiet time with Him. Others came through a few close friends who patiently ministered to me through those dark days. His Word, when obeyed, became the light that continued to help keep me on His path of peace. When I deterred and stopped obeying His Word then that is where I entered those dark places of torment.
Secondly, the Lord made Himself known as our Provider. I started following Christ when I was 17 years old but I had never experienced such an outpouring of generosity as we did in the days following our son’s death.. not only for ourselves but the entire family.
Most of you may know that my husband became disabled a few years ago and as a result we are living on a very tight budget. The morning that we received the phone call that our son was dead we immediately called our daughter in love. There was no hesitation in our hearts … we knew we had to travel to Texas immediately regardless of what it cost . We were able to find a plane leaving within 4 hours and so we booked the flight. We had not even left town when a close friend showed up and handed us money for our trip. Within hours we received a phone call and were told that a family member was sending money to help with expenses. Then we received word that another one was sending money. A dear friend and her husband paid for our hotel room on our trip bringing our daughter in love and grandchildren back to California. By the time we arrived home our entire trip had been paid for. Oh my! I can’t tell you how much this ministered to us. God did not keep us from the deep painful grief of those beginning hours and the days that followed but He ministered to us through the outpouring love and generosity of others. He was making Himself known as our Provider.
After we had made it through the funeral and had arrived home we started opening cards that were handed to us at the services. We found love offerings in nearly every card. We were speechless. We just couldn’t believe it. Our hearts were overwhelmed. There was enough money to not only pay the pastor for his services but enough money to start saving for his cremation plot. My mother’s heart wanted his ashes placed somewhere permanent as a remembrance. I knew it would probably take a few years to save for the cremation niche but my husband and I agreed that it was important and committed to saving for as long as it took.
The day that his ashes arrived at my front door was another dark time of sorrow. The grief hit like a tsunami wave when I took the heavy box from the UPS carrier. I didn’t even let my husband know it had come yet. I was trying to gain the courage to tell him when I heard the mailman drop the mail in the garage slot. As I began opening the mail I couldn’t believe what I found in one of the envelopes. There was an extremely large check that covered the rest of the burial plot. Only a sovereign God could orchestrate such a huge blessing to arrive on such a sad day, for we had told no one the desire of our hearts. We immediately called our daughter in love - our son's widow- and all of us were able to drive to the cemetery and make plans for his burial. Our son’s ashes would have a resting place and we experienced the comfort of knowing a tender God had again provided for not only for our needs but our desires.
I never again want to go through what we experienced this past year but I can tell you that I have come to know God in a more intimate way through it. He has been my comfort. His Word has been my guide. His presence has been my peace. I can not imagine.. I mean this in full sincerity… how I would have lived through this past year if I had not known Him as my Savior.
Thank you.. from the bottom of my heart.. to all that prayed for our family.. to all that gave so generously of your hard earned money… to all who reached out to my children in the weeks that followed and brought them meals… to those who stayed behind and helped my daughter’s family get a room ready in her home for my daughter in love and grandchildren... to my other children and their spouses who gave of themselves in so many ways..to all who helped provide money and clothing for my daughter in love when she arrived (that is another story all in itself!). The list goes on and on. You will never know how you ministered to my entire family.
To those I have never met personally but have known you as an online internet friend and who prayed and sent money… thank you so much for reaching out to someone you have never met. Thank you to all those at Victory Life Center who allowed us to have our funeral at the church where our son grew up and who gave of your day to provide food and organize all that went into the planning and to a dear friend who made a beautiful picture memorial of our son. The list goes on and on and I fear that those I have not mentioned will not know how much each gesture, small and large, meant to us. Each of my family members repeatedly said during those following months that WE were learning how to minister to others in their time of need by the way that others had comforted us.
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 affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
May God bless each one of you!
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Friday, 09 November 2012
I have such warm memories of my childhood holidays and many of them revolve around time spent at my Grandma's farm. My sister and I and our cousins would romp through the pasture.. down to the back of the berry bushes and look for tadpoles in the small pools of water.
My grandma was a 'down home' cook. She fried her own chicken (which she had raised) and did a lot of canning. But, my favorite memories are her pies. She made every kind of pie you could imagine from mince meat to green tomato along with all the favorites. I made it my goal, as a young wife, to learn how to make pies just like Grandma. Unfortunately, I never learned how to make her pie crust before she died.
Years later a young mother brought a homemade pie to a church Pot Blessing and the crust was so good that I asked for the recipe. I've been making it ever since and shared the recipe with many women over the years.
Perfect Pie Crust (Makes 2 full pie crusts)
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 3/4 c. Crisco shortening (don't use generic brands.. it really does make a difference)
1/2 c. water
1 tablespoon vinegar
Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the shortening. Here I am using my Kitchen Aid but you can use any large bowl and a pastry cutter or a large fork to cut in the shortening. When I use my Kitchen Aid I use the whisk until the dough resembles very, very small peas. But don't whisk it too long or the dough will start clumping together too soon.
Next, I run 1/2 cup water into a measuring cup, break the egg straight into the cup and add the tablespoon of vinegar. Mix it together and then add to the flour/shortening mixture. I change attachments on my Kitchen Aide at this point and use the mixing paddle to gentle mix it together just until it starts clumping together and clearing away from the side of the bowl.
I wet my rolling board with a wet wash cloth and place two pieces of Seran wrap next to each other so that it will cover a large surface and then I sprinkle a small amount of flour onto the Seran wrap.. not too much...maybe 3 tbsp. or so.. just enough to dust the seran wrap. I take a handful of dough (the dough will make 2 full pies with top and bottom crust) and place it on the seran wrap and then flip it over so that there is a small amount of flour on both sides of the dough. I put one more piece of Seran wrap on top of the dough. So, now you have Seran wrap (2 pieces) underneath the dough and one piece on top. I then use my rolling pin and roll it out thin.
Next, I take the top layer of Seran wrap off of the dough and place my right handunderneath the bottom layers of Seran wrap and lift up the crust so it can be flipped it into the pie pan.(The Seran wrap is still on both sides of this dough in the picture because I'm not baking pies today. I just wanted to show you how easy it is to roll out a pie crust with this method. )
.Peel off the last pieces of Searn wrap and gently press the dough into the pan. Cut off any excess dough around the edges and flute your edges and your done.If you decide to not bake your pie crust right now you can leave all the Seran wrap on when you initially roll out the dough. Fold it in 1/4's and then put the dough into a large gallon freezer bag. You can then either keep it in the fridge for up to a week or freeze it for at least a month.I made up quite a few batches of dough, rolled them out and then froze them for the holidays. It makes the baking process much easier when the dough is already made.And there you go!
Sunday, 04 November 2012
I found this post at Desiring God and it blessed me so much that I wanted to share it. I believe it's not just for mothers but also for wives or any believer.. because we are called to serve others. I hope it ministers and encourages you as it did me. It's written by Christine Hoover at Grace Covers Me.
As a mother, there is a constant, uncomfortable battle that rages inside of me. It is not the big or dramatic: Will I raise my children to love God? Will I train them to obey Him? Do my children belong to Him?
The constant battle of motherhood is more subtle, more everyday, more hideable. At the center is one question: Will I sacrifice? Or as Oswald Chambers poses in My Utmost for His Highest: "[Am I] willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister?"
The Everyday Question isn't answered one time, with the birth of a child, with the planning of school, or with the decision to discipline. This question — Will I sacrifice? — is answered everyday.
It’s answered when a child wakes early with a need, interrupting my quiet hour alone with the Lord.
It’s answered when a sick child keeps me from worship and adult interaction at church on Sunday mornings.
It’s answered when I am emotionally spent, but a child’s behavior requires my patient, purposeful response.
It’s answered almost every moment of the potty training process.
It’s answered as I systematically teach my special-needs son how to interact with others.
In motherhood, the Everyday Question is answered every time a child’s concern or need must come before my own, which is most of the time.
Too often, I attend to necessary tasks — leaving the stove to help with pant buttons, putting down the phone to search for a beloved toy, excusing myself from a conversation at church to take tired children home for a nap — while my heart grumbles. If I just had one moment to complete a task or have an adult conversation without an interruption.
The Everyday Question, however, asks not just about what I do but also about my attitude: Will I joyfully pour out my life as a fragrant offering before the Lord for the benefit of my children? Will I serve my children out of obligation and duty or will I serve like I'm serving God Himself? Will I die to myself so that I might live to God in the specific calling He has given me as a mom?
The Everyday Question must be answered everyday.
Because motherhood is not so much the big, dramatic acts of sacrifice, but the little, everyday, unseen ones.
Because we can have a clean house and obedient children and not sacrifice.
Because we are so easily deceived to think we can live for ourselves and be faithful to God in our ministry as moms.
Jesus said that those who live for themselves will actually have an unfulfilling life, but those who lose for their lives for His sake will really experience life. As parents, our self-death for Christ’s sake not only produces fruit in our own hearts, but produces fruit in the hearts of our children, fruit that grows by the power of God. Let us, then, choose to joyfully give of ourselves for our children.
“For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:11)
“For the love of Christ compels us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died, and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:14–15)