Navigating Home: Finding Your Place to Belong

Workshop Offering: Navigating Home: Finding Your Place to Belong

I have pondered my home of late. Sadly, it could be called “the house of a widow and an orphan,” because that’s who lives here. I don’t like either of those words, because they both denote distress, as James 1:27 states. Those words don’t really define us, but is impossible to be (or have been) categorized as either without having experienced great loss and pain. We all long to belong, and yet sometimes we can feel a nagging discontent, even when we are “at home.” Perhaps during these days of isolation, the longing to feel “at home” while at home intensifies.

Several years ago, I conducted numerous multi-media workshops that resonated with many. These workshops were entitled, “Understanding Goose: For anyone who feels empty, rejected, or different.”  (The goose part of the title comes from various goose related anecdotes scattered throughout the workshop. They are illustrations based on the true story of a goose that longed to belong to my parents. In the workshop, I discuss issues of loss, rejection, intimacy, trust, identity, guilt and shame, and control. I also discuss various ways these issues affect us and where they come from while looking at ways Jesus can fill these empty or broken places.

My frustration in this workshop has been that I have only had the time to present it in a three-hour one-day session, which feels insufficient. Because of this, and because we are all at home for a while, I am planning to try an online venue for the workshop.

I would like to offer this six-session workshop 1 (or perhaps 2) time(s) a week (TBD) for 4 weeks via Zoom. I have renamed the workshop: Navigating Home: Finding Your Place to Belong.

This workshop is a revision of my previous workshop. It will be offered for free on a first-come basis for up to twenty participants. I will deliver six 30 to 40-minute multi-media lessons on the topics, followed by some discussion.

I have yet to set the time, depending on what is best for you. I can set aside:

10:00-11 AM Eastern time on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday

7:30 PM on Mondays or Tuesdays

The beauty of conferencing is that you do not need to be local to attend. If you are interested, please either PRIVATE MESSAGE me on Facebook or email me at shaw.jeanie@gmail.com. ****Please include your name, email address, phone number, AND the days and times you can meet.

I will be in touch with you and look forward to this time together.

 

Shaken to the Core

It was the summer of 1973, 3:00 am according to the clock on my bookshelf headboard. I awoke to the smell of a cigarette, a man’s voice, and the feel of pressure on my back.

The man spoke, “Don’t scream. I have a knife.” For the next hour, I was shaken to the core, not knowing whether I would be alive by the time the sun rose. I prayed silently. Fervently. I clearly remember thinking that this was the moment every belief I had was tested. I begged God to protect me in this dire situation, but also remembered the words of Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego. I knew God was able to save me, I just did not know if He would. I remember thinking, “Can God really hear me?” I was home for the summer, and my parents were on the other side of the house. My mom was deaf. Besides, if I spoke I had already been threatened with a knife. I completely and deeply felt the presence of God’s Spirit as I prayed and boldly told the man that he would account to God for his actions and he needed to leave. Much conversation ensued. I never saw his face, thankfully. After nearly an hour, he told me he was leaving and did not know why. I knew why. He left, leaving me unharmed. He had planned to do “everything I had ever read about,” according to him. (If you want to hear more of the story, read My Morning Cup. https://ipibooks.ecwid.com#!/My-Morning-Cup/p/64183403)

This was the first time I was shaken to the core. The second time was last fall, watching my husband die after suffering from a cruel neurological disease. I had prayed faithfully and fervently, believing God could heal him. He could. But he didn’t. Here on earth, that is. He suffers no more and is with the Father. It is times like these that cause me to look inside my heart and ask, “What do I really believe?

The days we are presently living are nothing like we have seen in our lifetime. I have experienced some fearful times as I practiced “Cold War” drills by hiding under my school desk in case an atomic bomb hit (like that would help). I experienced turmoil during the Vietnam War era and 9/11, but I never sent my husband or children off to war. My life has been fairly comfortable, especially compared to many. COVIC-19 has stalled our world, and isolation offers a time to evaluate and determine our deepest core convictions.

This week I am preparing to turn in my final project as I finish my Master’s program. In a small portion of that project, I state my core convictions in eight areas of life including faith, emotions, relationships, finances, health, etc. Each conviction is accompanied by scripture, a goal, and a person to whom I will be accountable. It has been a wonderful exercise which I recommend.

This pandemic has shaken the world’s value system to the core. Thankfully, some values are emerging that have previously felt lost.  Prayerfully, this situation has revealed your solid, faith-filled convictions. How is your faith? What do you really believe? Do you truly believe this world is not your home? Do you really believe Jesus rose from the dead and is returning? Do you really believe the only treasures of importance are those we store in heaven? Do you really believe Jesus hears your prayers and will be with you? Do you believe that the Scriptures can show you God, teach you how to please Him and how to love each other? If we believe these things, our contentment will be real. Our hope will make us resilient despite circumstances. Inner peace and steadfast joy cannot be taken from us.

I feel like my last few years, in many ways, have been a training ground for today’s pandemic. I have seen suffering and death “up close and personal” and have been tethered to home for several years. God has stayed close with me in the suffering and He promises to be close to all who are His. Because God lives with me, inside of me, I am never alone and I have something of great value to share with those around me.

My minister and friend, Michael Lamb, shared a quote from Charles Spurgeon that resonates with me. Spurgeon said, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” Can you kiss the waves? The Rock of Ages brings comfort, peace, and joy amidst the waves. I am grateful. I will find that sweet spot in the curl of the wave, riding it all the way to shore.

 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Ps 16:7-8)

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah (Ps 62:5-8)

For reflection: What are your core convictions? Try writing them down and accompany them with scriptures. It’s best to know them well before they are tested. If we lack them, we can find and grow them. If our convictions are not solid, we will crumble. If they are solid, we cannot be shaken.

 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,…(Heb 12:27-28)

 

It Really Stinks, but I am Okay

Most days I am okay. What does that mean? It means I am waking up, walking with God, and enjoying many things in life. I have things I look forward to. I smile and laugh. It is during these times when my thoughts suddenly become knotted in a contortion of confusion twisted with guilt. Why should I get to wake up? Why can I enjoy the sunshine, hear the birds sing, laugh, talk with my children and grandchildren, or even take a walk? I get to live. He doesn’t. Or does he? My mind jumps, attempting to visit a dimension simply impossible to understand because I am entrapped by my mortality.

Next, reasoning attempts to overtake my thoughts. Wyndham would want me to enjoy life, I am sure of this. I would desire the utmost happiness for him were our situations reversed. If, in fact, he is awake, more alive than ever (which is my belief), he would laugh (lovingly) at my guilt for enjoying life…oh, if you only knew, babe. It is beyond your wildest dreams. Suddenly, my mind begins to ponder what heaven might be like.

I do not know what a new heaven and earth will be, but I surmise something like the Garden of Eden and better, before sin. In Paradise, we can finally eat from the tree of life because we will no longer live in a broken world, but a new world as God intended. God will no longer need to protect us from living forever in this broken world. God will walk with us as He did with Adam and Eve in the Garden, calling us by name, intimately and lovingly.

Jewelry has never been my thing, so honestly, streets of gold, foundations of precious stones, and gates of pearl don’t thrill me. However, the vision of paths of golden light reflecting hues of every color infiltrating the horizon captivates me. Crystal blue waters sound divine, and emerald mountains and forests create in me a longing. But mostly, I am captured by the thought of endless fellowship with those I love and those whom I will come to love once I know them. And God, who is love, will be there, united not only with Jesus and the Spirit—but with me. That’s what I long for.

Heaven, I believe, is about relationships. I think we will somehow “tend” to the new garden, walking and talking with God and each other with no pretense, insecurity, or guile. I think animals will live there, but without the food chain so that the lion will play with the lamb. I cannot imagine, even if we are not married as we know it, that Wyndham will just be another brother to me, since we had forty-five years of deep love. But then, what will time mean since we will be timeless? This is all so far beyond my grasp, because God is beyond human thought.

Is Wyndham merely asleep until a further time, in some hibernation form? Is he already in Paradise? I think the Scriptures teach the latter, but whatever is the case, God is quite capable of taking care of him. What happens there? Where did Jesus go and what did He do during the three days before He was resurrected? What does it all mean? Is Wyndham fishing with Jesus, or Peter? Can he see me?  Is he welcoming a few friends who have passed on even since his death a few short weeks ago? God, I asked if you would be willing to arrange for Wyndham to show Emily around Paradise. Did that happen? I wish I knew even some of these answers, but I don’t. I must simply trust while on this side of eternity. Trusting is hard sometimes. Lots of times. Daily. Because I want him here. He liked it here, too.

I am glad that Jesus said to Thomas in front of the other disciples,
“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (Jn 20:29)

You, nor I, have ever seen Him physically and at times He can feel far away. But He is not. I have never touched Him, but I have been touched by Him. I have never seen Him, but I have seen where He has been. I have seen changed lives, including mine. I have seen sunsets, I have seen storms, snowfalls, babies born, and all sorts of wonders of creation. I have seen Him do the impossible and the unlikely. I have observed the laws of nature fall in line with predictable precision. I witness jaw-dropping creativity in humans, created in His image. I have seen the consequences of sin, the freedom of forgiveness, and have experienced and observed love, which is so profound it can only be a God-given quality. I walk with Him and talk with Him. And He does tell me I am His own. We do walk through the fields together, as good friends should and do. I clasp His hand and our voices fill with laughter—my God and I. I cherish the images these song lyrics evoke, convinced that eternal life is all about relationships, beginning first with God. In this relationship, as the Scriptures promise, He pours His love into my heart and fills me with joy, peace, patience, and other fruits of the Spirit through His Spirit in me (Rom 5:5; Gal 5:22-23).

I have never more appreciated Jesus. He understands humanity. He did not want to die. In Gethsemane, He sweat drops like blood over the prospect of death. Death was the last enemy to overcome, and overcome He did. Where now is its sting? Only when I am resurrected from the dead will I fully know resurrection’s power. Hope keeps me knowing that Wyndham is good. I will be better than okay because I will be with God as he is with God. Thank you, Jesus, for conquering death.

But for now, still living as a perishable mortal, my grief from the death of my beloved and best friend does sting. It stings like no tomorrow. It stings worse than a thousand hornets biting while I’m passing a kidney stone. It’s completely horrible. His disease was more horrible. Grief can suck the life right out of me; yet, I have no choice but to go through it. I don’t want to go through it, but I must. So must everyone at some point in life; no, at numerous points in life. Nonetheless, I hate it right now.

I can only attribute this pain to our fallen world and death as a result; however, death is also a portion of God’s grace to carry us beyond this broken, hate-filled, sin-filled, fear-filled, broken world. Only Jesus could/can fix this by defeating death and allowing us to be imperishable as we pass through death (1 Cor 15:50-52).

Since I am still mortal, I keenly feel the merciless kicks in the gut, just when I think I’m doing well. I’ll have a series of really good days and then one day I drive into the driveway. Out of nowhere, the stark reality hits that Wyndham will not be waiting for me inside of the house and he will never be there again. That feels unfair, so I cry out to God for answers as to why he didn’t heal him. He could, but He didn’t. Why did such a great man have to get what seems one of the cruelest diseases known to man? I have to be okay with this because I am not God. I can’t change the facts. I am only in the middle of the threads being woven. I can’t see the tapestry, so it feels like a hot mess with no rhyme or reason. Yet, in my innermost heart, I know that God is walking with me through the suffering, and is weaving the hot mess into a thing of beauty that will work for good…and one day, on the other side, make perfect sense.

I have asked God, “Didn’t you hear us when we were praying? When the elders anointed him with oil and prayed over him? Wouldn’t this be a perfect opportunity to showcase your power and glory?”

God has time and again shown me that His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. Prayer is the crucible to change me, helping me to see not the scope of my problems, but the greatness of my God.

I borrow words from a recent eulogy given by a preacher named Jonathan Evans for his mother, He described his wrestling with God when God seemed silent to the many prayers offered on her behalf. (I changed the wording to employ masculine pronouns.)

I came to understand that God knows I don’t understand the nature of His victory. The victory has already been won. He tells me He has answered my prayer. There were only two possible answers to my prayers. Either:

He was going to be healed, or he was going to be healed.

He was going to live, or he was going to live.

He was going to be with family, or he was going to be with family.

He was going to be well taken care of, or he was going to be well taken care of.

Yes and yes.

He the Sovereign God. We don’t think the same. He doesn’t need us to tell Him how to get His glory.

 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Of your love. Make sense of the nonsensical. Ease my pain. As I pray these words, I realize that I am making this about my pain, but this is not about me. Or is it? Is that okay, God?  Wyndham is the one who suffered. But oh, God, you know what it is like to watch the one you love suffer and die. Is it worse than actually being the one? Maybe so. I don’t know. It all stinks. Thank you for going before and with me, enduring both sides of the stink; then walking through the stink with me. I will be okay. I am okay. But throughout the okay, it still really stinks.

 

New Chapter, New Year, New Decade

Fittingly, today I finished the last chapter for what will be my book entitled (of course) “Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham.” I did not feel particularly inspired to write this new chapter; in fact, the blank pages kept staring me in the face as if daring me to type. I have, however, learned that new chapters begin with only one word, that is then followed by another.

Today is a new year. A new decade. I miss my husband fiercely every day, but the pages of life continue to turn and it is up to me to begin writing new chapters. One word at a time. One day at a time. God may smile in agreement with what I write, or He may completely edit my work, as Jesus truly is the author and finisher of my faith. I must only step out on faith in Him, one word, one action, one thought at a time.

Today I plan to spend some extra time alone with God, recounting His love and His faithfulness in creation and to me.

All heaven will praise your great wonders, LORD; myriads of angels will praise you for your faithfulness.
For who in all of heaven can compare with the LORD? What mightiest angel is anything like the LORD?
The highest angelic powers stand in awe of God. He is far more awesome than all who surround his throne.
O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies! Where is there anyone as mighty as you, O LORD? You are entirely faithful.
You rule the oceans. You subdue their storm-tossed waves.
You crushed the great sea monster. You scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
The heavens are yours, and the earth is yours; everything in the world is yours—you created it all.

Powerful is your arm! Strong is your hand! Your right hand is lifted high in glorious strength.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants.
Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, LORD.
(Ps 89:5-11, 13-15 NLT)

I will consider His workings (albeit often in mysterious ways different than I would have thought) and His companionship throughout this past year and decade. Though I would never want to repeat this exceedingly difficult year, through it all God remained near. Sometimes I felt despair such as David expressed in the Psalms, but as his songs continued to express, God encompassed me with a love and faithfulness that would not let me go.

Throughout Wyndham’s illness, I felt closeness and dependence on God that was precious and sacred, which I think comes through suffering. I am forever thankful and never want to lose that nearness (though I certainly wish it to remain without the same level of suffering). In the pain of loss, I am happy he never will suffer again.

How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
 Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart.
 (Ps 36:7-10)

I pray for your new year and your new chapters to be filled with faith and dreams for glorifying God. Those dreams are the fulfilling ones. God is eager to help us in these.

My friend Rhoda sent me a message this morning that resonated as I begin a new year and new decade.

Hello, welcome to Flight #2020. 

We are prepared to take off into the New Year.

Please make sure your Attitude and Blessings are secured and locked in an upright position.

 All self-destructive devices should be turned off at this time. All negativity, hurt, and discouragement should be put away.

 Should we lose altitude under pressure, during the flight, reach up and pull down a prayer. Prayers will automatically be activated by Faith. Once your Faith is activated you can assist other passengers.

 There will be no Baggage allowed on this flight. The Captain has cleared us for takeoff. (Author unknown)

May you have safe and faithful travels. Happy New Year.

 

 

 

 

Celebration of Life Program that Traveled to Kentucky

 

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for your prayers and support as we honored Wyndham yesterday. I felt them. Attached is a link to his Celebration of Life service. I am also including a photo of the program, which unfortunately ended up in Kentucky instead of Massachusetts.

 

 

 

 

Celebration of Life

Celebration of Life

Wyndham Thomas Shaw

Saturday morning, December 7, 2019

10:00 AM in the ballroom at the Woburn Hilton

2 Forbes Road, Woburn, MA

There will be a luncheon following for family, those who have traveled, and by invitation at the

Boston Church of Christ – Arlington

75 Pleasant Street, Arlington, MA

For our friends who are wishing to book a room at the hotel where Wyndham’s memorial service will be held, the link to the $99 hotel rate is:

https://www.hilton.com/…/B/BOSBWHF-SHAW-201912…/index.jhtml…

Group Name: Shaw Celebration of Life
Group Code: SHAW

For those who cannot attend, the service will be live-streamed. You can watch it on

Facebook at: Boston Church of Christ

https://www.facebook.com/BostonChurchOfChrist/

(the main Boston Church of Christ Facebook page, not the group page)

Memorial donations may be made to HOPE worldwide at https://hopeww.kindful.com/ or to the Multiple System Atrophy Coalition in Wyndham’s memory at https://www.multiplesystematrophy.org/msa-donation/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – Wisdom Finishes Victoriously

Though I knew the day would come, I always longed for the day to be another day, not this one. But the day came. I said goodbye (for now) to my beloved Wyndham last Thursday. I am grateful for every day and every extra day that God gave us. A week ago I got to hear Wyndham’s voice again, loud and clear. On Tuesday he told me that he was going to die and that he loved me. We exchanged precious words of love. I assured him he would live on in us and I loved him forever. I tried to find some way to thank him for his love and his life. I reassured him we would be okay. This time was a gift.

The next day he could not eat and was exceedingly tired, with a fever. His nurse thought he could possibly rebound since he did in March, but we would know in a few days. Leigh Ann brought the three little Shaw girls over to hug Papa, at Emery’s insistence. They sang for him “Amazing Grace,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “Jesus Loves Me,” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” with verses that included every member of our family, including all the dogs. That was a gift that comforted him and brought him joy on what we did not know would be his last evening. Later that night the adult kids arrived and we talked to him and prayed, cried, and laughed. Wyndham seemed to enjoy listening, though he could not respond except to squeeze his eyes. Sam had been out of town on business and was flying back.

Thursday morning Sam was back and we all sat with Wyndham, unsure of what to expect, but we sat and loved him with all that was within us. I had begged God that morning to be kind to Wyndham and to us in his passing, and He was. Wyndham was not in pain and the transition was fast. Our hearts broke for us but rejoiced for him as he exited this world with impeccable courage, gratitude, faith, and love. I could even see some cheerfulness before he passed, as his eyes smiled a few times, even though closed. I know that eye-smile. Since we still thought there was more time, I made a run to the drug store to get a needed medical supply and Kristen and Sam went for a prayer walk. Melissa and Kevin stayed with him. Jacob was nearby, attentive to the needs. As a family, we have been on this journey together, all in.

As soon as I walked out the door, Wyndham was gone, likely thinking of protecting me, once again. It was clear his body was vacant, a mere shell that once housed the spiritual being that still lives. For this certain hope, I give thanks to God.

The world feels a little dizzying right now. The tears just keep flowing though accompanied by smiles and precious memories. I feel strangely both sad and grateful to be able to now freely just walk out my door to go somewhere, and I find myself feeling guilty for being able to do so. That probably makes little sense, but many things feel a little strange right now. Transitions are hard. This dreaded and worst day of my life also brought many precious, touching moments, which are ours to treasure. There were also some moments that one day will give us laughter, but not yet.

The following day, when the hospital bed and medical equipment were all gone our dog, Denver, walked into our room and just stood there frozen, looking around as if he were thinking, “Everything is different. What do I do now?” I felt the same.

Some of the grandchildren struggled while watching Wyndham’s “things” go out the door. Wheelchairs and machines were familiar to the youngest ones and were connected to their Papa. Sam reassured them that we were not taking Papa out of the house, but just the “sick” out of the house. Papa will always be with us because of all he gave us. For me, I long for the memories of pre-sick Wyndham to return, as I know they will. The last five of our forty-five years feel currently at the forefront, though I know that will change over time. The last five are, however, sacred and precious, terribly hard though they were. We all grew and were changed, and our love only grew stronger. I have a keener sense of what is most important. Love God wholeheartedly. Love each other wholeheartedly and help as many as possible to know God. One. Day. At. A. Time.

When Wyndham received his diagnosis of the horrible disease called Multiple System Atrophy, we had a sobering idea of what could happen to his body. It was like a bad dream. Knowing something of what was likely in store for his future, he studied the book of Job and committed to being grateful, faithful, courageous, and cheerful every day throughout his illness. He excelled in fulfilling this commitment to his last breath, even finding a way to laugh almost every day. Not one time did he complain or ask “why me?” Instead, he felt, “why not me?” I often tried to discourse with God on why such a good man had to suffer in such a drastic way. God did not tell me why, but we have all grown and changed because of this time. As much as I hate this disease. God has walked with us through it all, and He has been enough. For this I am grateful.

It does me no good to ask why, though truthfully I often have. If I could understand all of God’s ways and how He sees beyond and works for good despite the evil in our fallen world he would not be God, for God is beyond the dimension of human understanding. There is nothing I can do about that except to surrender and trust. He is God and I am not. He remains a good, good God, with a perspective that is beyond my reach. I know and believe God will continue to work in amazing ways as a result of Wyndham’s life. I will thrill to witness ways God will continue to work through the life Wyndham lived on earth.

Many of you have asked how I am doing, and your love and prayers mean so much. They have sustained me. Thank you. The best answer I can give is that I am deeply heartbroken, but okay, if that makes sense. We are all holding tight to God and each other.

Every time I say your name in prayer—which is practically all the time—I thank God for you, the God I worship with my whole life in the tradition of my ancestors.
I miss you a lot, especially when I remember that last tearful good-bye, and I look forward to a joy-packed reunion.
That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is…
(2 Tim 1:3-5)

Wyndham is no longer suffering, which makes me so happy for him. He fought the good fight, finished the race, and there is a great reward for him. I wish I could know what goes on in Paradise, but Paul himself said it cannot be stated (2 Cor. 12:2-4). Paul says that the eternal glory makes the worst suffering seem as light and momentary trouble. Only one day will I understand this.

I am thankful for every moment that God gave me with Wyndham. I miss him more than words can express and am forever grateful he has shown me how to live and to die in the Lord…with a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5).

I know these would be words Wyndham would pass on today.

But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.
You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar.
This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way.
All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming.
(2 Tim 4:5-8 MSG)

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
(2 Tim 4:7-8)

Thank you for sharing with me on this journey of “Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham.” My prayer is that it in some way helps draw us closer to God and victoriously finish the race marked out for us. Please keep us in your prayers. We need them.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 118

Wisdom and Surrender

Surrender. There is something about that word that sounds frightening, evoking a feeling of torture and a ceasing to exist. Often, one feels trapped and surrounded before they surrender, and then as a last resort.

Why is surrender so hard? Usually, I think, it is because we feel we are being confronted by an enemy, someone out to harm us. This is the surrender we read about in history books. This is the type of surrender we witness on westerns and crime shows. It’s a last resort before being taken captive.

I was looking around my house the other day and noticed many “instruments of surrender.” My bedroom and study have some curious pieces of décor. Parked in front of my bookcase is an electric lift. It looks intimidating, and it is. As I maneuver Wyndham in this lift, I envision absolute surrender. He cannot move and is dependent on someone or something to lift him. I would be sad and scared to be transported this way, but Wyndham, because he has surrendered,  finds peace and even humor amidst the situation.

On Tuesdays and Fridays our son, Sam, works from our home so that I can go to meetings and have appointments away from home. When I returned today, Sam was in the process of transporting Wyndham from his electric wheelchair to his hospital bed. As Wyndham was hanging in mid-air from the lift upon my arrival, I asked him how his day was. In his muffled reply he got the words out, “Just hanging around,” which made us all laugh. I appreciate his ability to laugh amidst such difficult circumstances. This disease has forced surrender to every physical aspect of life. He has no choices concerning movement. Wyndham must completely surrender to this instrument in order to be lifted and carried. As I view this lift, I often think of the lyrics, “All to Jesus, I surrender, all to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live…I surrender all.”

Wyndham makes the process as easy as possible, because he is completely surrendered. There is no resistance to the process. As I witness the surrender involved, I can’t help but think of ways that instead of completely surrendering to trials I face, I often want to run, screaming, to get away from the instrument of surrender God might be using to help me. I would rather get to where I want to go on my own strength. In full surrender, however, we are lifted up. James 4:10 comes to life for me.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

And, as I surrender so that He can lift me, He will also carry and sustain me.

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Is 46:4)

Also, alongside the bed, near an oxygen machine and a nebulizer, is another “instrument of surrender” called a CPAP machine. The initials stand for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. When apnea occurs, or the lungs can’t take in enough air, this machine forces air into the lungs. Wyndham surrenders to this machine each night in order to have air continually blown into his lungs. Likewise, it is when I surrender to Jesus’ control for my life, His life-giving breath fills my soul. I must be still and let God’s Spirit fill me by attaching myself to His Words and His will so that His Spirit can fill me with “continuous positive Spirit pressure.”

 This is what God the LORD says— the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:
“I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand…” (Is 42:5-6)

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  (Rom 5:5, emphasis added)

As I look around at these instruments, I am reminded that it is in full surrender that we find true freedom. God is not the enemy. He does not want to harm us, but to save and love us. He is trustworthy. He will lift us up in due time and carry and sustain us all the way to heaven as He continually breathes life into us through His Spirit. We just have to surrender.

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham

Happy Wednesday.

My Wednesday posts may become a bit sporadic, as I am working on an upcoming book entitled….”Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham.” This book will have some new material as well as a collection of the old. Stay tuned for more information. In 2020, “Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham” will take on a new slant. I find it’s always good to look at life from fresh and renewed perspectives that God gives us. Thank you for your continued support and prayers. I can’t always respond to all comments here and on Facebook, but I read every one and they mean so very much to me, and to us. Have a wonderful Wednesday, full of wisdom.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 117

Wisdom and Autumn

Autumn is my favorite time of year. I need only invite you to walk down my street to show you why. My neighbor took this stunning photo. This scene can be viewed immediately as I go down my front steps and walk to the left.

The strange thing about the beauty of autumn is that the leaves are actually dying. Their chlorophyll, which allows them to absorb the sun and keep their green color, breaks down in the autumn so that they no longer absorb the nutrients of the sun. So, the way I see it, when these leaves lose something of such importance to them as chlorophyll, their depleted situation brings out who they really are (so to speak). Their “true colors” show. I find this phenomenon worthy of pondering.

Wyndham has lost nearly every physical ability, most recently the ability to speak. His brain does not connect to his nerves properly. His metaphorical “chlorophyll” has broken down. It has been a long time since he could move his arms, hands, feet, or legs. Swallowing is harder, and all the physical attributes that kept him “green” are gone. Especially now, his true colors are displayed.

What are those true colors? The ability to love. To laugh. To be grateful. To be cheerful. To be faithful. To be courageous. No one can take these away. A couple of weeks ago one of our daughters asked him how he was feeling with all this continual loss, especially the ability to communicate. He, with difficulty and with several tries responded, “I think of what I can do.”

What he can do is those things I mentioned above. Love. Joy. Gratitude. Faith. Nothing, and no one, can steal these. In fact, just like the gradual decline of chlorophyll in the leaves, who he really is shines even more brilliantly. Just like the leaves outside of our home.

I have asked myself many times since I became a Christian over fifty years ago how I would handle losing the things I most valued. It’s extremely hard to slowly lose my beloved husband, but each time I come away with the same answers. The truly worthwhile “belongings” are the connections of love. And love comes from God, for God is love. When we have God, we have everything.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord
(Romans 8:37-39).

If you live below the equator, where it is spring instead of fall, or you don’t experience seasons, please enjoy the beautiful foliage vicariously through these pictures. And, meditate on what we have in Christ. Even if our various sources of security and joy are gone (as in the leave’s chlorophyll), we have been given everything we need in Christ. Perhaps it is in our losses and deficiencies, where Christ can most brilliantly be displayed. How brilliant is your display? The leaves will fall and will be raked away; but, like us, leaves are not gone forever if the trees’ branches remain connected to the life source. They will come to life once again. Such is the hope of eternal life.

In fall
the garden is spent
having given its all.

Cucumber vines lie exhausted on the ground
Tomato plants list to one side
Cornstalks stand dignified and empty
Sunflower faces droop earthward,
shades of their former selves.

All that has not been claimed lies moldering in the dirt—

a bruised tomato, a forsaken pepper…

a misshapen pumpkin,  a trampled stalk of beans.

What came from the earth is returning
to the place from whence it came.

There is an intimacy here,

in the fall garden,

gazing at living things in their demise.

I want to avert my eyes, avoid this tender grief.
Is this life or is this death? I cannot tell.

Ah, but there is beauty here

amid all this death and dying.

To have given one’s self fully
at least once
that is the thing.

To have spent oneself in an explosion of color

to have offered one’s body for food,

one’s very soul for nourishment…

It is an unseemly generosity,
beauty of another kind.

In fall
the garden says, “This is my life, given for you.”
And we are fed.

Poem by Ruth Haley Barton, 2012.