So close…

photo-189

When you have a progressive hearing loss periodically you go through times of grieving, where you come face to face with the reality of the things you can no longer do and mourn their loss.  These can be challenging times, not just wrestling with the loss of abilities but also deeper issues – what do you really believe about God, life, your future…  and you don’t get to pick when you deal with all of this!

This year the grief descended right after Christmas.  It’s hard to sit at a table when your son and his fiance are visiting and you can’t hear what they are sharing.  It’s hard to not be able to talk on the phone and even when you Facetime to only catch bits and pieces.  And then there are holiday parties…

On the way home from Jim’s Christmas work party he asked me, “How much could you hear?”  And I responded, “Maybe 10% of what was said the entire evening.  I don’t even know why I go!”  But then he replied, “You know how when people are hurting they say it’s not your words that make a difference, but your presence?  What if it’s your presence that’s making a difference Deb?”  Talk about an encouraging thought!

But still, God has created me to be a relational communicator and both are seriously impacted by my hearing loss.  No getting around that.

For whatever reason, grief came and it wasn’t pretty.  The night before New Years I couldn’t sleep so went into my art room, took out my black paint and painted a sheet of paper black.  But then the Lord brought to mind Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, ” declares the Lord, “Plans to comfort you (some versions say “prosper” – I’ll take both!) and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future.”  And I sensed him asking, “Do you believe this Deb?”

So I took some white paint and painted that verse on top of the black.  As I did, a glimmer of hope entered my heart and I was able to go to sleep feeling much more peace than I’d felt all day.

How true it is the Lord is close to the broken hearted, even in our darkest times of struggle.

I am blessed!

photo-188

The day before Christmas I went ice skating with my sister and her family!  We enjoyed such a wonderful time!  Only bummer… I lost my gloves.  So the day after Christmas found me biking across town back to the rink to see if anyone turned them in.  Sadly, they hadn’t but I decided to make the best of it and have fun biking home a way I’ve never gone before.  Can you believe I ended up right in front of a Christian used book store?!

Now as it was just about to start getting dark I only had a little time so I prayed as I went in, “Lord, if there’s something you want me to read in here would you direct me to it.”

Since their Christian Living section was on sale I headed in that direction.  The first two books I pulled off the shelf were rather light content, but then my attention was caught by a stack on the floor.  Perched on top was the book “Seven:  The deadly sins and the beatitudes.”

As I sat on the floor reading an excerpt I was hooked!  Was there ever nourishment for my soul in here!  As I paid for that book and raced home I was amazed, in less than 15 minutes the Lord truly guided me to a rich treasure that was just what I needed to hear.

Just listen to how the author shares the beatitudes:

“Blessed are those who mourn – those who’ve had what they are for most stripped away – for they will be comforted!”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit – those who know they lack what makes them alive and who look to others for help – for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

“Blessed are the meek – those who do not pursue power or authority but live gentle lives – for they will inherit the earth”

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – those who have no good thing inside themselves yet still long for something real – for they will be filled”

I was astounded at how I could relate to his expanded descriptions and it hit me, I am blessed!

And what a blessed and timely reminder that was.

The Worth of A Soul

photo-186

On Christmas Eve as we sang the song “O Holy Night” one line especially jumped out at me:

“Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

and I thought, does this ever sum up a key thing the Lord’s been teaching me lately – that my worth, my value is 100% based on Him!

It’s not based on what I look like

It’s not based on what I do

It’s not based on people’s opinion or whether they want to spend time with me (or not!)

It’s not based on the gifts people give or don’t give

It’s not because of position…

Of course I “know” all of this, I’ve “known” this for years and could gladly tell someone else, but lately the Lord’s been blessing me with opportunities to “know” this experientially, on a deeper level than ever before!

They’ve not been easy lessons nor very enjoyable.  But I’m finally learning in the depths of my heart because of Jesus there’s always treasure in me, even on my worst days.

It is a holy night when the soul feels its worth!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

one further blessing:  Ever meet with someone you aren’t too excited about spending time with?  As I was getting ready to do this, the Lord brought this picture to mind, pointing out, “Because of me everyone has value, Deb, and that doesn’t change based on what they do or don’t do!”  So I asked the Lord to help me see this person the way He does and wow!  What a difference it made!  Got to love the power of a picture, how it can come back to bless you (and those around you!)  in new ways!

Because The Moon Doesn’t Shine…

photo-185

For Christmas my son’s fiance gave me a wonderful gift ~ Gouache (rhymes with squash) paint and a set of brushes!  What a difference it makes using quality materials!!!  I can’t recommend enough investing in a good set of these!  I love them!  Especially as they proved a double gift…  of even greater value than the physical items, was the invitation they offered to process at a time I deeply needed it.

The day she gave these to me I was reading Amanda Jenkins book Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist  (for the record, I’m not a perfectionist – but this ebook was free and well, after studying Greek this past year with limited time for reading, let’s just say I’ve been a starved bibliophile and ever since the last class ended I’m having a blast devouring books right and left ~ and being amazed at how the Lord is guiding me in the process and speaking to my heart in neat ways! :0)

In her book, one quote really grabbed my attention where she answered the question, “How can we boast in our weaknesses?”

“Because the mood doesn’t shine – that’s why.  In fact, the glow of the moon is actually the light of the sun reflecting off the moon’s surface.  Without the light of the sun, the moon would be dark.  And the same is true with us and God.  Our talents, our knowledge, our ability to love and laugh and weep and sing are mere reflections of who God is.  He’s the light – the creator of all that’s good and worthy of recognition.  The only one who deserves the spot light which is obvious when we take the time to notice.  And our weaknesses allow Him to shine in us all the more.”

All week I’ve been reminding myself, “I’m like the moon.”   Apart from Jesus, “There is nothing good in me” Romans 7:18.  And I love how John the Baptist’s statement ties in with this, “a person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.”  John 3:27

But what’s most gripped my heart in Amanda Jenkins’ quote is that last sentence, “our weaknesses allow Him to shine in us all the more.”  Personally I’m not a big fan of my weaknesses!  And I certainly don’t relish others seeing them!

How easy it is to sing, “In my life Lord be glorified” when I’m thinking, “Yes, be glorified through the things I do well!  Through my accomplishments!”  but through my weaknesses?!

One of the things I love about painting quotes is how I find myself processing with each brushstroke.  As a result, this beautiful illustration gripped my heart!  And good thing too…

Little did I realize this marked the start of the Lord preparing me for an unexpected journey of grieving…