Sometimes strange things happen in life for reasons even we can figure out. I’ve asked Tracy DeMarse (yes my daughter) to be a guest blogger. You will enjoy this and please make comments below.
By Tracy DeMarse
Do you ever look back and notice crazy threads that somehow seem to keep showing up in your life? Like knowing a different couple named “Mike and Julie” in all five cities you’ve lived in so far? Or no matter how many job changes you have you always seem to have a boss named “Mitch”? For me it usually involves “Green River.”
The first Green River was a small town in Utah. Wikipedia tells me its population…
. . . a crown of beauty instead of ashes . . . –Isaiah 61:3 NIV
At 8:32 a.m. on May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted in a violent blast that blew out the north side of the mountain. Everything within eight miles—man, beast, and vegetation—met with instant death and destruction. Shock waves leveled everything within their path, including centuries-old trees, for another 19 miles. Beyond that, the trees that remained were nothing more than standing matchsticks, seared of leaves and life.
Fifty-seven people lost their lives in what was the most destructive volcanic eruption in U.S. history. Miles of roads and railroad tracks were destroyed. Ash spewed 12 miles high, then mushroomed out, eventually dumping an estimated 500 million tons in 11 states and five Canadian provinces.
The blast, and the accompanying earthquake, altered the landscape and forever changed the ecosystem.
In Christianity, tithing, praying, reading, memorizing, and meditating on Scripture are known as spiritual disciplines. They are means to an end; the end is a closer relationship with the Lord. However, an ever-present danger is that without the end always being kept in view, and without a generous amount of humility, pride comes in. Pride which says, (for example) “I tithed X amount of dollars last year; I’m more spiritual than you.” This is the pride of the Pharisees whom Jesus criticized in blunt language.
As I considered this, I thought, What about these spiritual disciplines:
Forgiveness, as in, “Oh, I forgave so-and-so for what he did to me 40 years ago”. Or, “I had to go to the Lord seventeen times to forgive so-and-so.” Can you imagine somebody taking pride in these things and posting them on Facebook? Nope, I can’t either.
Mourning for sin, either mine or someone else’s
Praying for someone who is absolutely, positively, my enemy–and genuinely wanting God’s best for that person
Praying for someone who is not an enemy but who rubs me the wrong way
Exercising patience when I want to do anything but
Speaking gently when I’d rather scream
There are more, but I’m sure you get the picture. For me, the activities usually considered spiritual disciplines are easier to do than the ones I just listed. The ones listed are hard, really hard to do in life. They are so hard I cannot do them on my own; I need God’s help. Oh, and one more thing—I can’t take pride in them because I do need God’s help.
Since arthritis grabbed my attention a few years ago, I’ve been searching for materials which bring faith in God into the equation. I bought one booklet, but kept looking.
Recently I came across Chronic Illness—Walking By Faith. After reading an online excerpt, I realized this 31-day devotional by Esther Smith is more what I had in mind, so I ordered it. Esther Smith was diagnosed with lupus and hypermobility syndrome; she knows what it’s like to live with chronic illness. She knows how one day you can be fine, and the next day you can barely function, or are somewhere in between. She knows how people say you look fine, but you know you’re not. She knows how symptoms can vary from one day to the next, or even from one hour to the next hour.
Esther writes with compassion and empathy, tempered with a dose of reality. While you won’t find quick answers or guarantees of healing, you will find much encouragement.
Each two-page devotional begins with a Scripture verse, followed by a reading relating to the verse. The devotionals end with questions for reflection and an action prompt, whether to pray for renewed faith, or another suggestion.
I am a week into this devotional, and am glad I found it. I recommend it to anyone fighting a battle with chronic illness who wonders where God is, if He knows, or if He even cares.
Back in July, our area had a bout of rainy, humid weather. The weather aggravated my arthritis to the point that I spent some days on my back, with ice packs on various aching joints.
Since then, wanting to get a handle on chronic pain, I’ve come to some conclusions which I believe will help me deal with the self-pity which comes calling along with the pain. I offer them here for any one of the millions of people who live with chronic pain:
Chronic pain can’t keep God from loving me. It cannot and does not keep God from seeing me as a person of inestimable value.
Chronic pain cannot keep me from returning God’s love. It cannot keep me from finding ways to express that love. It may change the ways I do it; it cannot keep me from doing it.
Chronic pain cannot keep me from serving others; it may change the ways I do it; it cannot keep me from doing it.
Office Worker Found Dead at His Desk After 5 Days!
“Bosses of a publishing firm are trying to understand why no one noticed that one of their employees had been sitting, dead, at his desk for 5 days before anyone realised. George Turklebaum, 51, who had been employed as a proof-reader at a New York firm for 30 years, had a heart attack in the open-plan office he shared with 23 other workers. He must have quietly passed away on Monday, according to the post mortem results, but nobody noticed until Saturday morning when an office cleaner wondered why he was working at the weekend. She approached him to ask if he was okay and discovered he had died.
This spring and summer have been the most challenging and stressful I have ever experienced. But in the middle of it all, God gave me times of refreshment.
In July, I signed up for a seven-week Bible study held at a couple’s house a few miles away from my home. Our small group sat on their patio, prayed for requests, read God’s Word, and discussed the topics. I particularly remember one evening. Before going, I prayed for the Lord’s Presence to be manifested in a special way. It was hot and humid that evening, which had a way of adding to the stress I felt over household responsibilities. When I sat down on the patio, to my surprise and delight a pleasant breeze met me and wafted its way through our small group. It remained so the whole hour. It was refreshing and that time soothed and uplifted my spirit. God did come—in the form of a cooling breeze, and in the fellowship with the group.
One Sunday morning I walked into church. The week had been hard, and I felt much anxiety over the way things were going. As I sat down, I noticed a sweet Spirit of Love—that’s the only way I know to describe the sense—in the church. That sweet, sweet Spirit remained through the whole service. I left feeling calmed and renewed. God knew I needed that time of comfort and the sense of His love. The next day I made the hard decision to have our cat Abby put to sleep. Four days later a close relative was admitted to the hospital for a bleeding ulcer.
“The times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19 (KJV)
Since our household has plant enthusiasts, we have a large assortment of flower pots. Some are clay; some ceramic; some are plastic.
I like clay, but it has two drawbacks: weight, and deterioration over time and use. The layers flake off, and eventually water seeps out of the pot so it can’t be used for its original purpose.
Rather than throw the whole pot out, I take a hammer, set the pot in the grass, and give the pot a good smack. The pot falls apart and I can put the pieces on the bottom of other pots to act as drainage.
If you are going to give a clay pot this new job, some safety precautions are called for: wear safety goggles, put the pot in the grass so the grass can absorb the impact, and don’t lean over too close when you smack the pot.
For awhile I was feeling taken for granted as I did household chores. I do various tasks because they need done, and sometimes my mother doesn’t seem to notice or care. I know—once a person gets to be an adult, you shouldn’t require affirmation. Nevertheless, it bothered me.
One morning as I took the garbage and recycling containers out for the weekly pick-up, God spoke in my mind. He said that even when my mother doesn’t notice, He does. He notices when I do the little, mundane, unpleasant tasks needed to keep the house—ultimately, His house—looking better and smelling cleaner.
Knowing God sees what I do and appreciates it gives me a bigger perspective and peace. Now, it doesn’t matter if my mother says anything or not; God notices, and that’s all that matters.
Many people work in menial, low-paying jobs. They may feel taken for granted by their employers, and by other people. But they need to know—they are not taken for granted by God. As long as their work is honest, God notices their labors, and He appreciates it.
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23, NLT)
I'm Joanna, a busy married mum of two beautiful boys aged four and three. I'm sharing my experiences as I navigate the wonderful world of motherhood! Mistakes, routines, mum / life hacks, cleaning, beauty...little bit of everything!