Recent Stories

  • A Valley Girl: Yolanda Stith's Story

        I was born and raised in Southern California in the San Fernando Valley, a suburb of greater Los Angeles.  It was there that the term “Valley Girl” became popular.  It held special significance to me, not only because I came [more]

  • Roller Coasters – Emily's Story

    Brent and I had been married for 16 years. We had been through quite a bit. In the midst of many physical illnesses, we had two wonderful children who really have been a blessing. We were ministry minded and when we were turned down to move overseas to work with some [more]

  • Where is God in My Suffering? – Kit's Story

    My name is Kit Danley and I am the president here at Neighborhood Ministries. I come from affluent America. I come from a background off the lake, say in Milwaukee, both parents and grandparents were prominent Milwaukeeans. And as my parents tried to do adult [more]

Encouragement

Today as Nancy Gallegos played the harp beside Ian’s bed nurses brought children from other rooms to listen at the door. Nancy and her husband Dennis are known in hospitals in the area where they come by invitation to play and to pray for the sick. They are humble and gentle and winsome and full of faith. While Nancy played we knelt around Ian’s bed and poured out our hearts to God. It was another one of those “thin places” where the boundary between heaven and earth is blurred.


After about ½ hour I had a recurring invasive thought… one of those thoughts that I know was not my own. Do you ever have those? “Read Psalm 18…READ PSALM 18…” After the 3rd or 4th prompting (I can be slow) I went to find my Bible. First I read it to myself. It is a very dramatic psalm of David celebrating how God delivered him from his troubles. I read verses like:



6 In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. 7 The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry….

19He rescued me because he delighted in me… 50 He shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever.

 

I saw God rising from his throne to rush to save His anointed one. I felt the earth shaking at His approach… as He comes to rescue one in whom He delights… one like Ian.

I felt led to read the whole Psalm to Ian as Nancy played. As I began Dennis lurched from his chair to my side to show me that God had led him to read the very same Psalm! So I read with a great sense that God was speaking to Ian, and to us. (Read Psalm 18 yourself and allow yourself to enter into that holy moment with us.)

Prayers for Strength and Healing

Last week I was pretty depressed and called a friend to pray for me. In the midst of my crying, she was patient and kind and tried to encourage me. She prayed for me for strength and healing, for wisdom and patience. I was weak and felt sick, but she made me laugh. Then next day I sent out an email to a group of people I call my “Prayer Warriors” (PWs) asking for prayer, telling them I felt like crawling into a hole and that I was feeling discouraged. It was embarrassing and made me feel vulnerable; but I needed help.

Many of these PWs wrote back with comforting words and prayers for strength and healing for me. Here are a few I received:

I pray the "God of all hope will fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Rom 15:13) His power is at work to give you an overflow of HOPE!  This is my prayer for you.

May God embrace you with an overwhelming love and grace, and lift your eyes to see His perfect next step for you.

I am praying for you, that God will remind you of truth and help you to rest in Him.  Feelings are strong, HE is stronger! May His grace envelope you and overtake the emotions.

Lord, bless my sister and give her daily encouragement from little acts of kindness by others bestowed upon her. Let her know she is not in the battle alone but her arms are lifted up by her brothers and sisters in Christ. Grant her peace and quicken to her mind to choose joy over despair. Amen

Awesome, right???!! What a support. Friends who will pray and help to carry my burden. I am not completely healed, yet, but I feel some of the load has been lifted from me. Prayers for encouragement, comfort, peace, joy, love, grace, truth, rest and hope!! What a blessing!

The battle isn’t over, yet, but I feel empowered and uplifted due to these prayers for strength and healing and have renewed faith that God has not forgotten or abandoned me. I have not been deserted. Thank you, my friends, for sharing the load!

Coping With Death of a Child: Parents, Grieving, Healing and God

Most people agree that losing a child is the most stressful event they have ever had to deal with. I can only imagine how I would cope with the death of a child. Really? I doubt it! The closest I ever came was when I put my dog to sleep.

But, I do know others who have watched a child go through illnesses or accidents that end up in the death of that child. Do they ever get “over it”? What happens to the parents who are left to grieve? How can they possibly deal with that much pain?

In their book, Don’t Waste the Pain, David Lyons and Linda Lyons Richardson address this very issue. David shares about the death of his 12 year old child, Ian, to a rare form of cancer. I have learned so much about parents grieving as I read this book. The feelings are raw, real and at times devastating. Yet, there is hope!

Parents grieving the death of a child can react in different ways. It’s important when looking to comfort these hurting parents that we listen to them. Draw out their emotions, point them to God and let him do his healing work in their hearts. These parents are struggling with guilt, anger, depression, fear, and a host of other feelings. Coping with their emotions is crucial, but it takes time.

David’s way of coping with Ian’s death was to cry out to God and pray for his son’s healing (as many of us do). But when the physical healing didn’t take place, he made a choice to believe in God’s goodness and began to look for what he could learn through the pain. As a result he saw many blessings, he grew closer to God and he became a different person.

Encouraging grieving parents to share their feelings and listening without judging is a key to their healing. Again, the process takes time and just knowing they have someone who will listen is a great support.

Coping With Divorce – Emotional Support and Helping Children (Part 3 of 3)

I am so glad you came back to read more about coping with divorce in this last part of the Lessons Learned series. Here I share about the need for support and ways to encourage your children. I hope Part III is a help to you as you deal with your divorce.

I have often described the journey I was on while coping with my divorce as a roller coaster. And truly it was! If you would like to read more about that, please see the article at http://www.dontwastethepain.com/Your-Stories/Stories/Roller-Coasters-–-Emily-s-Story.  But, in a nutshell what I learned while dealing with divorce was that I couldn’t do it alone. I needed friends and family for support. It was such a blessing to have three girlfriends ride the roller coaster with me and in so doing they shared my burden. The times with these dear friends in prayer, ranting, crying and silence were therapeutic. I knew God was with me, but having these people who loved me and listened to me were invaluable. For me they were “Jesus with skin on” and I was and still am very thankful for them.

I often remind my children of this last lesson I will share. I tell them, “please, deal with your issues now or they will come back and haunt you in your forties”. My desire for them is to be healthy, keep short accounts and don’t sweep “stuff” under the rug. I often wonder if my divorce could have been avoided if both of us had dealt with our hurt and pain. Dealing with issues now just may prevent having to deal with divorce down the road. What do you think?

Books on Grief and Loss

Dealing with loss and the grief that accompanies it can be debilitating. There are many books on the market addressing grief and grieving, focusing on various topics such as loss, death and pain. This blog reviews three of those books.

Grieving is a necessary process if we want to grow in response to the death of a loved one, divorce, loss of health or physical abuse. When we grieve, we admit that we hurt, that we are angry with God, the situation, the drunk driver, you name it. Our feelings are raw and real, yet how we deal with the grief is a choice we make.

I have found three books about grief and grieving that come from different angles and each author deals with their grief a little differently. Barb Roberts has taken the “I am going to use what I learned to help others” approach. Joyce Sackett pours her heart out in very real terms and Jerry Sittser honestly questions God and his role in his life.

Helping Those Who Hurt

A Handbook for Caring and Crisis

By Barbara M. Roberts

Often people want to know what they can do to help a friend or loved one who is grieving. This book is down to earth and seeks to give practical advice on how to care for those who are hurting.
 

Goodbye Jeanine

By Joyce Sackett

In this book about grieving a mother shares the raw emotions she experiences after finding her daughter has hung herself in her bedroom. If you have ever wondered how it feels to lose a child and grieve over that loss, Joyce Sackett’s unashamed account will open your eyes and heart to those who are grieving.
 

A Grace Disguised

How the soul grows through loss

By Jerry Sittser

This is one of the most popular books on grief. The author deals with the pain and grief associated with the death of his mother, wife and daughter due to a drunk driver while questioning whether his faith can sustain him. Both encouraging and uplifting, this book on grief will motivate you to seek after the blessings God has for you.

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