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Monthly Archives: February 2016

I Don’t Have to Say Goodbye!

(Originally published on Facebook 12/5/14)

Love this song – it fills a spot in this grieving heart. This morning I happened to reread a journal entry I wrote July 10th. I was in a contemplative mood, I guess, because I wrote, “I get the impression that within the Christian community we believe the presence of peace equates to the absence of pain and sorrow. True peace, as I understand it, is the absence of fear – not the absence of pain, sorrow, anger, frustration, and a multitude of other emotions.” I can only think of one place in my Bible where God told someone not to mourn – Ezekiel 24: 15-27 – and as in everything else God does, there was a purpose. Ezekiel’s failure to grieve in the outward manner that was typical of the day, served as a powerful sign to the House of Israel. His unexpected, and obedient behavior ensured the prophecy God had given would be heard and remembered.

I thought I’d include the lyrics here. Words are important to me, Getting them right, matters. I think I’d change “I will shoulder the blame” to “I will shoulder the pain”, but then no one asked me!

I also added a few more comments after the lyrics – if you’ve managed to read this far, you might as well read those too!

Lyrics:

Sometimes your world just ends
It changes everything you’ve been
And all that’s left to be
Is empty, broken, lonely, hoping
I’m supposed to be strong
I’m supposed to find a way to carry on
And I don’t wanna feel better
And I don’t wanna not remember,
I will always see your face
In the shadows of this haunted place
I will laugh, I will cry, shake my fist at the sky
But I will not say goodbye
They keep saying time will heal
But the pain just gets more real
The sun comes up each day
Finds me waiting, fading, hating, praying,
If I can keep on holding on
Maybe I can keep my heart from knowing that you’re gone
And I don’t wanna feel better
I don’t wanna not remember
I will always see your face
In the shadows of this haunted place
I will laugh, I will cry, shake my fist at the sky
But I will not say goodbye
I will curse, I will pray, I will re-live everyday
I will show through the blame
I’ll shout out your name
I will laugh, I will cry, shake my fist at the sky
But I will not say
Will not say goodbye
I will not say goodbye
I will not say…

It’s true, sometimes I don’t want to feel better – but, not all the time. It is also a comfort to know that I don’t have to say good-bye. As a believer in Christ, in spite of pain in the loss, I Do Not Grieve As One Without Hope! Therefore, See you soon is far more accurate than good-bye or as the ever bouncy Tigger of Winnie the Pooh fame (the first known individ . . . er, cartoon character, known to use “chat speak” in everyday conversation) was known to say, TTFN – Ta ta for now!

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2016 in Faith, Grief, Links

 

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Satan Hunts Among the Hurting | Desiring God

“Mountain lions detect vulnerabilities in their prey and attack the weakest — the young, the sick, the injured. Studies have confirmed this instinctive cruelty. It’s how the mountain lion lives, following the scent of suffering and feasting on whatever he finds.The enemy of your hope and happiness hunts with that same instinct, with a cold-hearted and ruthless hunger for the weak or hurting. Satan prowls like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). And because he’s clever . . .”

Click See more to red the entire article.

Source: Satan Hunts Among the Hurting | Desiring God

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2016 in Adversity, Faith, Grief, Links

 

Rest Ministries – Needing & Accepting Help

Please follow the link below entitled “view original post” (in red) and read the article originally posted on restministries.com. You don’t have to suffer from a chronic illness or disability to gain something useful from this post. The truth is, we all need help at some point in time.

Today, I met with a Benefits Protection & Planning Representative for the state of Arkansas. Dealing with SSI and Medicaid is both humbling, anxiety inducing and confusing. I am so thankful for Jerry Clawson who is committed to helping me safely navigate the complexities of available services. Making the wrong choice can cause your child to loose much needed medical benefits or financial assistance for adaptive equipment, among other things.

Jerry may simply be doing his job, but he doesn’t perform it that way. He’s been incredibly responsive and understanding. Today, he allowed me to stop by without an appointment. He didn’t have to do that, but I’m so thankful and glad he did because my PTSD, depression and anxiety issues leave me struggling to do the simplest of tasks. I simply can’t make myself place phone calls and schedule appointments. It’s easiest for me if I can make must needed stops after I’ve already been required to leave the house for some reason. And that’s what happened today. I called Jerry and he made himself available. I’m sure it wasn’t a big deal for him, but it was huge for me.

I’ve had the signed documentation ready for him for approximately a month and I knew if I didn’t meet with him today, it could be quite some time before I managed to make myself try again. I don’t understand the psychology behind my issues, and I’m extremely embarrassed by the fact that simple tasks have grown monumental to me, but, I can’t simply make up my mind to do things and get it done. Instead, I’m trying to work with what I am able to do and hope the rest will resolve itself in the near future.

Last summer I attended College Bound Arkansas with my daughter, Gracen. It’s a program that prepares kids with disabilities for the transition to college. I met numerous parents during the course of our stay and discovered that they are all struggling to find services for their children. It’s a prime example of the blind leading the blind. We don’t know what resources are available, who to ask, or how to find them and generally happen upon them by chance via a conversation with another parent, a specialist or a physical or occupational therapist. If you do find someone that can point you toward available services you are often handed an extensive list of providers and have to wade through the entire thing to find out exactly what services your child might qualify for. It’s overwhelming and frankly, parents (not just me)  get so confused, they simply quit and soldier on alone.

In the aftermath of the car collision that killed two of my daughters and left Gracen badly injured at a time when my husband was between jobs, we found ourselves needing to accept help in ways we’ve never needed to in the past. David and I were overwhelmed with gratitude and yet found ourselves uncomfortable to be on the receiving end of the equation in spite of our desperate needs. This is what the author of this blogpost, Shelly Hendricks had to say on the topic:

“We all want to give help. We want to be the answer to prayer. It makes us feel weak to accept help. It makes us feel hopeless to ask for it.

And yet, God has been convicting me.

Receiving is not passive.

Receiving is submitting. Accepting is playing an important part. Asking is admitting that you are just like the ones you’ve helped before. . . and will again, in small and big ways.”

 

See what else Shelly has to offer below.

Boxx Banter

restministries

http://restministries.com/2014/08/difficult-need-accept-help/

Needing help is definitely humbling and yet it’s greatest blessing is the opening of spiritual eyes to see the nail scarred hands that prompted those around you to meet needs, and extend kindness and comfort that reaches far beyond the gift offered or act of service rendered. Brings to mind Psalm 8:4, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Beyond all human comprehension somehow His response has been a sincere and quiet, “Mine. The apple of My eye.”

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Posted by on February 19, 2016 in Chronic Illness, Uncategorized

 

“PERSUADED BY IMPERFECTION” – Feb. 17

A great article on living an authentic Christian life . . . “We deprive our message of a powerful impact when we pretend to be perfect. My weakness is testimony to the power of Christ in my life.”

(Click on “view original post” highlighted in red below to read the article.)

A DEVOTED LIFE

“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.  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

She walked into the competition room with a face set in determination.  A faint smile graced her face in recognition of the judges patiently awaiting her arrival.  However, this polite acknowledgement faded the instant she found her mark, centered before the three seated personages, who were to witness her assault on the challenge before her.

She stood before a long table, which separated her from these strangers.  With head slightly downcast and her arms held rigidly at her side, she appeared to be using every ounce of will containing…

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Posted by on February 18, 2016 in Faith, Links

 

Faith & Faithfulness

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You know, there’s a big difference between faith and faithfulness.  I think, at times, I confuse the two. Two years ago in March I posted, “A Mother’s Musings” on the blog site my sister-in-law, Sandy, set up after the car wreck our family was involved in.  It’s also the first blog post I published on Boxx Banter.

In March of 2014 I had things to say, things I wanted others to know or understand, and misconceptions I wanted cleared up.  In the months between the collision and that blog post, my Facebook had become filled with comments about my strong faith.  That was the biggest misconception I wanted to clear up.

I was bothered by those comments for several reasons.  One reason is that I feared people were placing me on some spiritual pedestal I knew I was completely unworthy of, and once there, well, it was only a matter of time before I fell from it in spectacular fashion.

Let me give you an example.  Last summer I took Gracen to one of many medical exams. That particular day the doctor had a medical student in tow.  During the course of our visit the doctor asked me how Gracen was doing emotionally; how we were all coping with the events that had so drastically changed our lives.  Among other things, I commented that humor (dark though it may be) was playing an unexpected role in our recovery.  At that point the well-meaning physician interjected something along the lines of, “And faith. Faith has helped you.”  While this was true, his comment served as a verbal rebuke. You see, as a fellow believer he knew faith was our anchor.  He had an ulterior motive when he asked his question and I failed his test.  He wanted a testimony before his shadowing student, and frankly, I missed the cue.  Had he said, “I know you are a Christian, has your faith helped you to cope?” or “Have you seen the hand of God in the aftermath of your accident?” he would have received much different response.  However, in my own little grief bubble, I didn’t realize his intent.  And that quickly I fell from the pedestal he’d erected and as a result set myself up for criticism and judgment – not that he did either of those things.  But such is the nature of elevating the faith of any Christian because every single one of us will fail.

But even more worrisome than the exposure of my all too human faults, was the idea that people assumed I had some great faith at all.  I felt in failing to correct that misconception, I was sinning by omission.  And this is the place where I think my mind blurred the lines between faith and faithfulness.

Faith is being confident of something beyond the reach of total fact.

Faithfulness, on the other hand, is the consistent repetition of an act.  People live their lives doing many things faithfully, from the tasks required for their jobs to exercise.

The thing is, a believer can become a Christian (by grace through faith – Ephesians 2:8) without becoming faithful and also without faith becoming an integral part of who they are.  Faith can be something we put on and take off in situations we deem appropriate when we continue to feed on the milk of the Word (basic Christian teachings) instead of moving on to the meat of the Word (more challenging Christian doctrines).   In other words, if we don’t commit ourselves to learning and growing in our faith, then our faith simply won’t grow to any significant degree.

Quick Sidebar – I love the way these two translations render Ephesians 2:8!

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
For it is by his grace that we have been saved through faith, and this faith was not from you, but it is the gift of God,

GOD’S WORD® Translation
God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God.

Okay, back to business!

When I conceived my first child, I became a mother.  However, conception didn’t initially alter the way I thought and behaved.  In fact, even after I brought my first daughter home from the hospital, I didn’t think like a mother all the time.  One occasion in particular comes to mind; an evening when my husband wasn’t home.  I recall thinking, “Ok, after I get the baby to sleep I’ll put a load of wash in then run to Walmart . . . Uh, what am I thinking?  I can’t put the baby to bed and run to Walmart!”

It took time for motherhood to become ingrained into my being to the point where every decision I made was filtered through my love for my children and my responsibility as a mother.  At that point, I didn’t have to remind myself to think about my children, it became second nature.  The more I behaved like a mother, the more motherhood became enmeshed in my daily life, in my very being.

Christianity (faith) works much the same way in a process known in theological terms as “sanctification”.  Sanctification is a fancy term that means to be made Christ-like. Sanctification is a three phase process.  When a person chooses to accept Christ as their savior, they are deemed “positionally” sanctified, or set apart for a holy purpose.  The new believer then embarks upon a process of “progressive” sanctification.  Every believer stays in this phase for the remainder of their earthly lives.  It is the place where the Holy Spirit in cooperation the believer, changes the believer’s heart, mind, attitudes, motives and behavior in progressive holiness.  The final stage is known as “perfected” sanctification which describes what takes place at death or Christ’s return when the believer is actually made fully Christ-like, completely holy.

I became a Christian long ago and while I was positionally sanctified I didn’t automatically starting acting and thinking like Christ.

images (31)Faith is an integral part of my life.  In many ways it defines me.  However, my true nature is that of a sinful human being.  Faith is second-nature to me.  My first nature, sinfulness, far too often drives me.  Yet, I committed to following Christ and over the years the Holy Spirit has been busy.  More and more often I find my initial thoughts ruled by Biblical truth.  I’ve been changed by God’s unmerited favor with increasing confidence and assurance (faith) that not only does He exist but that I can trust Him to keep His promises.

But regardless of my growing faith, my sin nature can and does lead me away from being faithful to the God I love and believe in.  Sometimes I allow human frailties such as fatigue, disappointment, selfishness and anger as an excuse to skip church, quit reading God’s Word, and avoid ministering to others.

672f1f67a5d29fd4f32305442dbed888I have discovered that I do have a strong faith after all; but that I am less faithful than I expect myself to be.  I don’t need Satan to denounce me as a fraud, my own heart and mind taunts me with that truth. However, the same grace that enticed me to faith, is poured from a fountain of unlimited supply.

Men of faith have shown themselves to be completely incapable of maintaining a covenant relationship with God since creation.  We have failed to keep our commitments, but God has consistently kept His in spite of our faithlessness.  Does God’s grace give me license to sin?  Of course not. But His faithfulness, His loving kindness, His gentleness, His mercy and compassion leads Him to fill my cup to overflowing with grace – grace that is greater than all my sins.

I’m not faithless, but I do fail to be faithful.  Hearing others say my faith is strong no longer makes me feel like a fraud; in spite of the fact that I am not as faithful as I want to be.

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No, I neither lack faith nor do I fail to be faithful.  I know this because as much as I’ve wrestled with my beliefs, with God Himself, over the last two years, the foundation of my faith has not been shaken.  I continue to seek God faithfully, even if it is little more than trying to understand God and His ways in light of my circumstances.  And I think God is teaching me about the fullness of His grace and unconditional love.  I am thankful that God is forever faithful even when I’m not.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2016 in Faith

 

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Insights on Suicide

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Last October I came across this article (highlighted in red below) on the suicide of Patti Stevens by Rudolph Bush on the Opinion Page of The Dallas Morning News:

No, Patti Stevens wasn’t selfish. She was hurt.

As a member of the bereaved parent’s group, While We’re Waiting, I’ve encountered several parents of children who’ve committed suicide.  It’s heartbreaking!  It’s disturbing to read of children as young as 11 years of age, taking their own lives.  I can only imagine the agony, the second guessing and the questions the grief stricken families are left struggling with.  The impact on the entire family when a child dies (regardless of the means of death) is staggering (but that’s an article for another day).

Journalist, Rudolph Bush covered this topic well and he certainly got it right when he said of Patti Stevens, “She was trying, in a desperate, mistaken, terrible way, to stop hurting.” Bush’s comments were made in response to critics who contend that those who commit suicide are selfish. I also appreciate that he points out, “. . . the suicidal have fallen into a place where their sadness, fear and desperation have stripped away the ability to think and act rationally.”

Still, I think it’s a serious mistake when we assume, “Things would have gotten better.” That was probably true for Patti Stevens and a multitude of others who contemplate suicide, but it’s certainly not true in every situation which is why organizations such as Death with Dignity exist. It’s why assisted suicide is a hot button issue of our day. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a proponent of suicide at all, but we are naive if we fail to recognize that, in some situations, things will get worse.**  Families coping with terminal illness, with addiction, and a number of other issues know, without doubt, that their circumstances will indeed get worse.  They know more pain is on the horizon and they are afraid and desperately want to escape the pending heartbreak. When it’s true that things will get worse, we have to find a way to help people cope with that truth; to find purpose and meaning in life.

We’ve all heard the popular phrase, “everything happens for a reason” at some point in time; usually when something unpleasant transpires. Tim Lawrence wrote an article on that very topic. Mr. Lawrence used his article to strike out against the culturally common advice passed to people coping with trauma and grief – advice he refers to as “the debasing of the grieving”.  In the piece published on his blog entitled, “The Adversity Within”, he shares this quote from Megan Devine, “Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.” Of Ms. Devine’s quote he says,

“These words are so poignant because they aim right at the pathetic platitudes our culture has come to embody on a increasingly hopeless level. Losing a child cannot be fixed. Being diagnosed with a debilitating illness cannot be fixed. . . They can only be carried.”

We live in a culture that demands positivity. Obstacles are opportunities in disguise.  If we can’t go around said obstacle, we must find a way over, through or under it.  Nothing is impossible.  We will overcome. We will conquer; by sheer force of will if necessary. And the underlying message is that, should we fail, we are incompetent or didn’t try hard enough.

img_0428We’ve been indoctrinated with the message that we must be able to turn every negative into a positive. Our culture as a whole no longer helps people work through their grief, instead we demand that they set it aside, suppress it, or spin it into an uplifting message – all the better if they can tie it up with a Biblical bow. As a result, we leave hurting people enmeshed in an internal battle pitting their normal need to express and work through their pain and sorrow against societies demand to find the silver lining and move forward.

If we sincerely want to reduce the suicide rate, we all have to learn to become comfortable with the bad and ugly aspects of life instead of pretending they don’t exist or glossing over them. We need to learn to acknowledge pain, validate feelings, and affirm the broken before they lose the ability to think and act rationally. In my experience, people want to be seen, to be understood and to feel as if they are not alone when their days turn dark. People can survive almost anything – they can learn to carry that which cannot be fixed – if we provide them with those things.

** The comments in this post in no way serve as permission to take one’s own life.

SuicidePrevention

 

 

 

Print a copy of this National Suicide Prevention Lifeline image and stick it on your refrigerator.

It may save the life of someone you love.

 

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2016 in Adversity, Chronic Illness, Grief, Links, Uncategorized

 

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Risky Business

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A few months ago, my husband and I met with our insurance agent.  We reviewed all our current policies including our life insurance and, in light of the collision that killed two of our children, updated our beneficiaries.

We also purchased additional life insurance and during the course of the “insurability interview” (at least that’s what I call it) we were asked if we participate in any “risky” activities.  Imagine my raised eyebrows! “Such as . . . “, I responded. “Oh, you know, car racing, extreme skiing”, or something like that was the response. “Uh, no” was the answer of course.

Our insurance agent unknowingly planted a seed that day.  A few weeks later I looked over at David as we sat at a red light and reminded him of that conversation then told him, “Ever since Matt mentioned car racing I’ve had this desire to get behind the wheel and drive really fast.”  David just laughed at me and I laughed too.  Wouldn’t it be ironic to have your insurance agent inadvertently encourage his customer to participate in behavior he was, in effect, insuring against?

You’d think, being involved in a double-fatality car accident would put a bit of a damper on the desire to drive really fast, but you’d be wrong.  For one thing, I really didn’t see the accident happening.  I was reading and completely unaware of what would befall us until happened.  Now, an actual wreck, that would probably toss me into a full-blown PTSD attack, not the driving itself.

hawk1Every time I buckle up and point my car down Highway 102 toward JBU, I anticipate flying down the twisting, turning two lane stretch between Centerton and Gentry with the radio cranked up – loud!

I virtually itch with the desire to push my foot to the floorboard of my souped-up Toyota Camary (sarcasm alert) and fly down that twisting, turning highway.

But shoot, I’ve always been a practical kind of girl.  In fact I think I was born with a forty year-old brain, and practicality constrains every latent, adrenaline-fueled, fantasy that flashes through my mid-life crisis driven soul, leaving me regretting the fact that I missed out on my opportunity to experience and enjoy a misspent youth! Oh to rewind the clock! What different choices might I have made if I had known this day was coming?

I wish I had the opportunity to participate in martial arts, to spend copious amounts of time on the gun range, to be trained to race cars, drive defensively, to zip line and hang glide and even jump from a parachute packed plane – No Adult Diapers Required!

I’d choose to embrace adrenaline and eschew safety. I’d choose to live wide open, if I could do it all again.  And I’d also choose David and Cole, Bethany, Gracen and Katie all over again – heartbreak be dammed!  For there is not one thing I’d choose to undo about my family in order to avoid the assault of death and disease in my life, because all the adventure and excitement risky business promises in no way compares to the riches of human relationships.  I may regret missed adventures but the only regret of any consequence I have in regards to my family is a lack of health and a lack of time – neither of which I ever had any personal control over.

54e17e2b4343e-image1So, as much as I might itch to fly down highway 102, leaning into the curves and blasting down the straightaways, it’s highly unlikely that I will ever actually cut loose and do it.  (Well, not the way I’d really like to anyway).  I still have important relationships here to enjoy – and no amount of adventure and adrenaline is worth the price some other unsuspecting family might have to pay should I selfishly choose to ignore the risk to other drivers on the road one day and open that throttle up and fly.

Nope – that kind of excitement and adventure is what fiction is all about.  So I’ll just have to charge up the ereader or raid the Redbox and live vicariously through the characters within and hope that, as Randy Alcorn seems to believe, the new Heaven is a redeemed earth, and I’ll have all of eternity to bring glory to my Savior by fully enjoying His unblemished creation.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2016 in Faith, Good Fun

 

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