Tag Archive | burdens

Carried by Grace

Veni Sancte Spiritus

I am limping on through,

trying to see

the forest for the trees.

 

It is dark and scary

and I am weary

from the journey.

 

I don’t run,

but I make noise,

praying to chase

the nightmares 

and bears away.

 

The phone calls come,

as I knew they would,

and have for so long.

 

“Mary…please, I am being eaten alive…the bugs,

Get me out of here…….”

 

You are my child now,

as I calmly tell you,

“No, mom, you are not ready to go home.”

 

She frantically yells out, “Why?! Don’t I have a home?

I am fine! I don’t belong here!”

 

“No, mom, you are not fine.”

I repeat the tired line,

as I have now, for most of my life.

 

I am making my way 

to the eye of the hurricane.

It’s turbulent and rough.

 

But I know I am

being gently carried,

and I won’t fall out of the sky.

 

Because it is on 

His steady and strong wings

that I fly……

“Carry Me”
By Audrey Assad

Pain is a forest we all get lost in
Between the branches hope can be so hard to see
And in the darkness we’ve all got questions
We’re all just trying to make sense out of suffering but

You say I am blessed because of this
So, I choose to believe
As I carry this cross, You’ll carry me
Help me believe it

Fear is a current we all get caught in
And in its motion faith can be so hard to find
And we all falter ’cause we’re all broken
We’re all just trying to turn the shadows into light but

You get glory in the midst of this
And You’re walking with me
And you say I am blessed because of this
So, I choose to believe
As I carry this cross, You’ll carry me

And I know Your promises are faithful
And God, I’ve seen Your goodness in my life
And oh, I’ve found Your mercy is a river
Your love is an ocean wide

You say I am blessed because of this
You get glory in the midst of this
And You’re walking with me

And You say I am blessed because of this
So, I choose to believe
As I carry this cross, as I carry this cross
‘Cause as I carry this cross, You’ll carry me

You’ll carry me, God
You’ll carry me
And Your love is an ocean wide

Lifeline

 

How do you let go of someone who is still here?

How do you make peace with all the lies and fears

that have persisted all these years?

 

The bed bugs are all just in your deteriorating mind.

It’s just the very slow progression of this disease,

so very cruel and unkind.

 

The extreme dryness sets in

as you tear at your tender skin,

frantic and in pain.

 

You’re still searching for a Savior, or someone to blame.

On most days, it all just looks the same.

 

Afterall, if we focus long enough on the external,

we’ll never have to look within.

And we’ll still be stuck wondering

what could have been….

“Lifeline”

You’re watching everything you ever held on to
Slip away from you
And all you’re running from
Well it’s catching up to you Got you looking for a lifeline
Swimming in the high tide
Waiting for the daylight
To bring you home The world is too big to never ask why
The answers don’t fall straight out of the sky
I’m fighting to live and feel alive
But I can’t feel a thing without you by my side
Send me out a lifeline You’re watching everyone you ever belonged to
Walk away from you
Maybe all along you’ve been running from the truth Got you looking for a lifeline
You’re swimming in the high tide
Waiting for the daylight
To bring you home The world is too big to never ask why
The answers don’t fall straight out of the sky
I’m fighting to live and feel alive
But I can’t feel a thing without You by my side
Send me out a lifelineThere’s nothing I would change, I’d give it all away
For you again and again and over again
Everything I own is in your control

I’m looking for a lifeline
Swimming in the high tide
Waiting for the daylight
To bring me home

The world is too big to never ask why
The answers don’t fall straight out of the sky
I’m fighting to live and feel alive
But I can’t feel a thing without You by my side
Send me out a lifeline
Won’t You send me out a lifeline
Send me out a lifeline

“I will hold on hope, and I won’t let you choke on the noose around your neck….I will find strength in pain” ~Mumford and Sons

We Are So Blessed

The other day, I ran into the daughter of a resident who lives with my mom in her nursing home.  She is an amazing woman.  At the beginning of my mom’s stay, I had seen her helping out so frequently at meal times, I began to think that  she worked there!  But, it was more than just the amount of time that I saw her there that impressed  me, it was her warm rapport and loving compassion that flowed from her as she interacted with the residents.  She knew each of the 15 or 20 people by name, and she seemed to know each one of their unique personalities and individual needs.

 We started talking about our moms,  about why they are there, and a little bit about our family histories up until this point.  She expressed how she and her mom have had a rocky relationship for much of their lives together, but that she feels so incredibly blessed now to be caring for her.  We talked about how at times, giving that gift of unconditional love can be very difficult to do, especially if there had been unresolved issues or resentments in the relationship.  Giving that sort of selfless love  can be hugely painful, and sometimes requires  a gigantic amount of sacrifice, but ultimately,  it proves to be enormously rewarding  and life giving  in the end. 

I think of another conversation in an email that I had with a friend recently.  She was explaining how she had  taken care of her father for 3 years before he finally passed away from cancer this past fall.  She talked of the difficult burden she carried  of being  the only one who knew  the secret of how long her father had left to live, as her father did not want anyone else in the family to know.  She was even told to keep the secret from her mom, as well.  She expressed how very challenging it was during those 3 years, but yet, she truly feels that it was an incredible  blessing and a huge gift to be able to share in that journey with her father up until his passing.

 These examples cause me to remember what Jesus taught  in the Sermon on the Mount (Mathew 5:1-12) .

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed  are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 

 Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

When your parent is so sick and vulnerable, you feel very helpless and lost at times, not knowing what to do to ease their troubles or pain.  You find yourself being freed from certain expectations and attachments, such as letting go of long held dreams of the way you wished or hoped your life could  be together.  You become spiritualty poor in the sense that you begin to fully realize just how much you desperately need God’s grace to guide you every step of the way.  In that state of spiritual poverty, you know that you can not do it alone, and you realize what an amazing blessing and  gift it is that you don’t have to!

This week I feel blessed, because mom has started physical therapy again, in order to help her possibly walk someday.  We had tried physical therapy with her for 18 months, and this past October I had to make the painful decision to stop her therapies, as she was consistently very uncooperative and shown to have made hardly any progress during that time.  At this time, she is very cooperative and willing to work at it, so we are giving it another go!  Time and God willing, mom will be able to hopefully walk again someday, which would be no small miracle!!!

Two years ago,  I was very blessed to travel to Ephesus, where Paul the apostle preached and was believed to be imprisoned.  It is also the place where Mary, the mother of Jesus, was believed to have been taken to live out her last years with St. John, who was a very close friend and beloved disciple of Jesus.  Visiting Mary’s house was an amazing blessing for me, as I have a very strong love and devotion for her! (below is a pic I took in Rome, a mosaic of Mary)

The following passage is from Ephesians 1:3-14.  I had read somewhere how a bible study teacher had used this passage as a prayer exercise with her students that seemed very personal and powerful.  I encourage you to insert your name in the blanks of this passage….and hear Paul speaking directly to you!!

 Spiritual Blessings in Christ

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed ________in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose _______ in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined ________ for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given  _____ in the One He loves. In Him_______has redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of her/his sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on her/him. With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to when ________ believed, she/he  was marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing her/his  inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory. (Eph 1:3-14, modified)

In Christ….we are so blessed!!

 God’s blessings are dispensed according to the riches of his grace, not according to the depth of our faith…..so…..we don’t give up.  We look up.  We trust.  We believe.  And our optimism is not hollow.  Christ has proven worthy.  He has shown that he never fails.  That’s what makes God, God!!  (Grace For the Moment, Max Lucado)

Seasons of Life

During our latest painfully frigid cold snap, I got to pondering about our intense change in seasons.  As I was driving my kids to school, I started thinking about how amazing it is that in just a few short months (hopefully less!) all of this barren and colorless landscape will be totally transformed into beautifully vibrant hues and filled with new life.   

I think of those non Minnesota friends, when they ask “How can you live in a place so cold!?”  My response has always partly been, “Well, it does build character!”  I think that the cold can make us more adaptable, more tolerant…and yes, even more patient! For example, as we parents know,  it takes twice the time in the winter as it takes in the summer to get our young kids dressed to go outside! Our patience is also tested when we have to wait patiently for the sidewalk or driveway to be shoveled, or for our car heaters to successfully warm up!

 I feel that the seasons of nature so often seem to mirror our own seasons of life.  Just as the season of winter brings a period of painful waiting , so do the painful burdens or situations that we weather throughout our lives.  We all have had very difficult heart wrenching struggles that have left us wondering, “How am I going to get through this?” And yet, after a period of patiently waiting, trusting, and praying, our particular burden was finally gently lifted and we could once again see that healing light.  Sometimes our burdens became lighter due to the love and charity shown by those around us…and at other times our heavy burden was lifted entirely.  In either case, within those healing moments, we were able to see that for us, it was a small miracle to be shown that kind of unexpected compassion and mercy.

 I myself, have had many heavy burdens in the past few years that I never dreamed I would be carrying in my mid 30’s.  A year and a half ago, my heart was painfully heavy as I sat in a court room in downtown St. Paul sitting with my brother and sister and our lawyer listening to a judge deem our 66 year old mother mentally and physically incompetent.  I could hardly hold it together as I watched my sister bravely sit up on the stand and describe for the judge all of the many ways my mother is mentally and physically impaired .  Inside my head, I fervently  prayed a litany of Hail Marys, as the judge told us that my sister and I were now our mother’s legal guardians, meaning that from now on we are to make all of her medical decisions for her.   I am now legally responsible for my mother’s  life.  At times, that feels like a very heavy burden to carry. Yet, in a way, it has started to feel more like an honor lately, knowing that I am able to give her that needed loving care and attention.

 I think of the burden I carried the other week, when I received a call from my mom’s nurse asking me to please talk to my mom and try to calm her down.  My mom, who suffers from dementia, had the belief  on that day, that both of her parents had tragically died in a car accident while driving back from down south.  I patiently and lovingly tried to explain to her that her mother has been gone now for 10 years, and that her father has been gone now for 25 years.  She was very anxious as she described for me how she had to go to the memorial service for her father, that she thought they were holding that day.  I proceeded to explain in a few different ways just exactly how and when both my grandma and grandpa had passed away.  At one point I remember saying, “Mom, I think you a little confused, nana and bapa are in heaven now watching out for you.” to which she responded with, “I think YOU are confused…..and if they are watching over me, they aren’t doing a very good job!”  A part of me felt like saying, “Well, I can’t really argue there!”  But, a bigger part of me knew and still knows that God is and always has been watching out for her, it’s just that his ways of growth and protection  don’t always look like our human ways!

 At this moment, I carry the burden of remembering her scared face today as she desperately and emphatically told me, “Mary, please, please don’t give up on me….please, don’t stop praying for me.  I don’t know what I would do with out you.”   I am carrying the burden right now of remembering  her screaming out loudly “HELP, HELP, HELP!” to the nurses, as I was exiting  the building.  When she is in those anxious states of mind, she is much more in need of attention and companionship.

 As I talk of my burdens, I am reminded of what Jesus said:

 “Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke  and put it on you, and learn from me, because  I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest for your souls.  For the yoke I give you is easy and the load I will put on you is light.”  Matthew 11: 28-30

 This verse gives me much comfort because it reminds me that no matter how overwhelming or impossible a situation or a burden of mine is, I know that Iwill never have to carry it all by myself.  I think of Jesus and the colossal burden of our sin that he accepted willingly, with complete trust in the will of his Father.   When Jesus said,  “Father, if you will, take this cup of suffering away from me. Not my will, however, but your will be done” , I think of the tremendous amount of courage and strength that was required of him.  I think of how he sweat blood as he agonized in despair because of that tremendous burden.  His deep and intense level of sacrificial love is astounding to me.  During my really difficult times, I sometimes picture him there with me lifting up my aching burdens of fear, despair, helplessness, and loneliness, as I offer it up to him and I try to see him lovingly reaching out to take it all from me.  Sometimes, as I am walking by his cross at church or in my home, I picture myself handing over those  burdens to him and saying to him, “Here you go, God! I just CAN’T do it alone today!” It never seems to fail, my shoulders always seem to lighten and the joy and peace often rushes in, or slowly seeps in, depending on the day!

 Recently I was meditating on the words of Jesus from John 15, “Remain united to me, and I will remain united to you.  A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it can do so only if it remains in the vine.  In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me.”  It reminds me that as long as we persevere in our faith, and try to stay connected to God through prayer….then we will always be able to weather any storm during those difficult seasons in our lives.  He will always grant us the necessary peace, hope, strength, patience, and joy to endure….because he has PROMISED!!

I wrote the following poem recently, which was inspired by the promises of Jesus in John 15:1-17.

 The Real Vine

Alone I stand,

my branches atop

a deeply rooted,

strong and sturdy tree

sure and stable, enduring any storm

 
Our Lord, holding me up

with calm stillness

and timeless assuredness.

From the start,

His grace has taken root in my heart…

remain in Me, and I in you.

My branches yield and bend

Yet, stay connected

combatting the fierce and changing winds.

Their arms extended.

Their leaves changing,

with each passing day

knowing what must come…

The warm spring sun

Comes yet again, to give new life,

bringing the promise

of bearing much

enduring and glorious fruit…

Hope

Faith

Love…

Chosen and appointed,

my forever Friend,

Your joy in me,

complete.