"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
June 29, 2016
Have a Great July 4th Weekend!!!
Some of you have already read this post that I made on Facebook last week, but I would like to share it again and expound upon it.
As most of you know, my mom suffered from colon cancer for seven years; from the time I was age 8 until I was 15. During those years, she had 4 surgeries, chemo, radiation treatments, and had to have a colostomy. She was still active and gardened and attended church and was able to care for her family for many of those years. Eventually, the cancer spread and her body weakened and she was in a lot of pain. Mama was in the hospital for the last time in December 1980, and the doctor told us that she had about a month to live. She wanted to come home, and was bedfast from that point on. As the weeks went by, she became weaker and the pain became greater.
The week before Mama passed away, she fell into a coma. We called her doctor, and also had a home health care nurse who was coming to our house to help with her care, who told us that she wouldn't wake from the coma. But a couple days before passed away, she woke up one evening singing the hymn, "I need Thee, oh I need Thee; every hour I need Thee. Oh bless me now, my Savior. I come to Thee." We had another day or two with her, then she slipped away in her sleep to her heavenly eternal home early on a Sunday morning on February 22, 1981.
In the last thirty-five years, I cannot hear that hymn sung without thinking of this incident with Mama. It has a very special meaning and significance for me.
Last week I had a dream and I wish I could remember all the details, because it was very powerful. This is what I can remember: I was sitting in a church on the back row and was encouraging someone to lean on the Lord for their situation. I started singing this hymn, "I need Thee...." over and over again. The more I sang it, the more it started ministering to me, personally, and I could barely sing due to the tears. Eventually, I got up and went up front and started preaching a sermon based on this hymn.
The premise of the sermon was, "When you are going through desperate situations, you can sing, 'I need Thee....'; if you are battling cancer or if sickness has your body bound in pain, you can sing, 'I need Thee....'; if you've been praying for something and it feels as if God isn't answering, you can sing, 'I need Thee....'; if you feel overwhelmed by life, you can sing, 'I need Thee....'. We don't have to try and fight our own battles alone or lean on ourself or our own understanding, but we can (and should) lean on the Lord and tell Him that we need Him in all situations."
I believe that this dream was to minister to me personally; but hopefully, my sharing it will help and encourage others, too.
The truth is, there are going to be times when we will feel overwhelmed. There may be times when we feel forsaken and forgotten by God. There may be situations that look impossible and there's absolutely nothing we can do in our own power to change them. Sometimes we feel turmoil instead of peace. The stress of life can feel like a heavy weight upon our shoulders. We may feel as if we've lost complete control of the circumstances that we're going through, and there's nothing we can do to make things better. The bottom line is, life can stink sometimes!
There are times when we need to release all of our pent-up emotions, instead of bottling them up and trying to hold them inside. We need to cry; we need to vent our anger and tell God how we feel -- He's big enough to handle it without being offended; we may even need to scream (I would suggest doing that when you're alone in a car; or do a silent scream -- which I've done).
After we've released the emotion that has built up inside of us, we often feel more capable of handling what's going on. Tears can be very healing. Research has proven this to be fact; for not only women, but for men, also.
Dr. Judith Orloff wrote an article about the health benefit of tears. Here are some quotes from her article: "For over twenty years as a physician, I've witnessed, time and again, the healing power of tears. Tears are your body's release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety, and frustration. Also, you can have tears of joy, say when a child is born or tears of relief when a difficulty has passed. I am grateful when I cry. It feels cleansing, a way to purge pent up emotions so they don't lodge in my body as stress symptoms such as fatigue or pain. To stay healthy and release stress, I encourage my patients to cry. For both men and women, tears are a sign of courage, strength, and authenticity. Our bodies produces three kinds of tears: reflex, continuous, and emotional. Each has different healing roles. For instance, reflex tears allow your eyes to clear out noxious particles when they're irritated by smoke or exhaust. The second kind, continuous tears, are produced regularly to keep our eyes lubricated. Tears also travel to the nose through the tear duct to keep the nose moist and bacteria free. Typically, after crying, our breathing, and heart rate decrease, and we enter into a calmer biological and emotional state. Emotional tears have special health benefits. Biochemist and "tear expert" Dr. William Frey discovered that reflex tears are 98% water, whereas emotional tears also contain stress hormones which get excreted from the body through crying. Dr. Frey found that emotional tears shed these hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress. Additional studies also suggest that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body's natural pain killer and "feel-good" hormones. Crying makes us feel better, even when a problem persists. In addition to physical detoxification, emotional tears heal the heart. Thank God our bodies have this capacity [to cry]."
Dealing with our emotions and finding a release through tears is not a woman-only thing; but men can also find healing and release when they allow themselves to cry and let go of the stress and pent-up feelings. God gave men the capacity to cry, just as He did women. I believe if men would learn this and allow themselves to do so, they would find themselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually stronger.
A wise woman recently told me, "It's hard to know real joy, if we don't let yourself know real pain." If we don't allow ourselves to feel and know real pain, then we will never truly experience and know what real joy is once the pain has passed. We don't have to pretend to be strong all the time, because none of us are. There are times when we need to acknowledge the pain that we are feeling; whether it be physical, emotional, mental, relationship-related, etc. God can only heal that which we confess and allow Him to heal. If we hold onto it and try to take care of it ourself, then we limit what we allow God to do. We need to say, "Okay God! I can't do this on my own! I surrender this situation into Your hands; knowing that You can handle it better than I can. I need You!!" Both, men and women, need to be able to come to that point where they are able to cry out to God and let go.
The truth is, pain and hard times will come to us all, in one form or another. Life will be difficult from time to time for each of us. We're not going to be strong enough to carry the load in our own strength; at least not for long. We're going to have to find a release for our pent-up emotions, so that healing can come and joy can be restored. But honestly, the journey through those valleys may be long and wearisome. We may have to deal with our emotions over and over again; and that's fine. God understands! He created us; which means He created a way for us to release our emotions through tears, instead of bottling them up. In fact, God bottles up our tears so that we don't have keep them bottled up inside our heart! Psalm 56 is a prayer of David. Verse 8 says, "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in a bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book."
We don't go through anything that God isn't aware of. We don't cry any tears that He doesn't collect. I find that amazing! God keeps track of every single sorrow, every hardship, every burden, every trial, every disappointment that every single one of us has. Not only that, He collects every single tear we shed in a bottle and keeps record of each one in His book. Now that's true love!!!
Even though there is healing in releasing our emotions, the bottom line of every situation is realizing that we cannot get through them without God. Matthew 11:28 says, "Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'" Jesus knew that we would have heavy burdens to carry and would become weary, which is why He addressed this; and thankfully, He promised to give us rest.
Therefore, whenever you go through a difficult situation, call upon the Lord and tell Him that you need Him. You may need to tell Him daily, or hourly, or every few minutes: "I need Thee, oh I need Thee; every hour I need Thee. Oh bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee."
We recently watched a TV show where someone watched a beautiful sunset as it peaked, then faded away. She was sad to see it go. Someone asked if she wished she hadn't come out to see it, since she wouldn't have been sad if she hadn't seen it fade away. She answered, no, because then she would have missed out on the sunset, too.
There was a lot of wisdom in that short bit of show. It applies to many areas of life, too. Would you pass up falling in love, if it would save you from losing the other person? Would you avoid having a pet just because you know it won't live forever? Would you avoid other blessings if you suspect they won't last?
(Since it's my birthday week, I thought I'd share the recipe for my favorite cookie.)
2 cups sugar
2-1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
4 tablespoons cocoa
Put sugar, milk, butter, and cocoa in a saucepan and stir together over medium heat. When mixture reaches full rolling boil, boil for 1-1/2 minutes. Remove from heat and add oats, vanilla, and peanut butter.; blend well. Drop by spoonful onto waxed paper. Allow to cool and harden.
I love celebrating my birthday! I really do!! A couple weeks (or so) before my birthday, I will start giving Jon gift ideas and thoughts on what I'd like to do to celebrate and where I want us to go out to eat. Facebook makes celebrating even better, because I get all these wonderful birthday wishes from family and friends, whom I normally probably wouldn't hear from on my birthday. Getting older doesn't bother me; at least it hasn't so far up to this point; and I hope that age is never an issue with me. I love being the age that I am, and really have no desire to be younger and have to live these years over again, even if I could. I like the maturity and stability that being in my fifties brings. I don't particularly care for the changes that aging brings to my body, but I also don't think that it bothers me nearly as much as it did when I was in my twenties and thirties.
I've had a good life and really have no complaints. I've made a lot of mistakes that I wish I hadn't made, but I've also learned a lot about the the grace and mercy of God. I have areas in my life that needs improved upon, but hopefully, I never grow too old to learn and better myself.
I think that overall, I'm much happier with myself now than I was when I was younger. I'm still a work in progress, but have more self-confidence and am learning to love myself and see myself as God sees me. That's a biggie! I can truthfully say that I like where I am right now in life.
On Friday, July 1st, I will be celebrating my 51st birthday. I'm excited! It's not going to be a big hoopla as my 50th birthday was last year, but that's okay. Even though this year isn't going to be as big of a deal, I'm still looking forward to it and am excited. Can't wait to see what God has in store for me this coming year!!
Your value does not decrease based on someone's inability to see your worth. - Christine Caine
We love you!
Loretta & Jon