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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

When Thanksgiving is Hard

Tonight we're busy preparing for tomorrow's day of family and feasting...

Turkey is thawed, baking pies fill the kitchen with scrumptious aromas, and tables await the abundant plenty that will make us all beg for mercy. 

and yet...

The news blaring from the heartland is full of anger and hurt.  Harsh pictures from a place far away, but so near, intrude on our blissful Thanksgiving gathering.  Two worlds colliding...

There are scenes of Violence and Looting.  Interviews filled with Tears and Loss.  A story of Turmoil and Flames.  Lives changed... Forever.

It feels somehow wrong to celebrate and laugh with our friends and family... as if we too should take sides...

So, how?

How do we give Thanks when the Rage and Bitterness flow unchecked...when hearts are heavy with Strife and Brokenness...

I have no answers for this unfathomable racial divide.  The wounds run deep. The charged tension that is destroying our very social fabric seems to have taken a life of its own.

My heart aches for the ones so injured in all this.  Families that will wake up tomorrow with what?  It could hardly be Thanksgiving... for as sure as the sun will rise, the anger and hurt that simmers leaves no room for gratitude.

And we plead for peace, but find conflict.  We pray for miracles, but lose faith.

Gratitude eludes us... again and again...

And just when my soul despairs...

Hope.  It walks right in.
With darling sweet dimples and flashing black eyes.

A daughter and son-in-love who have taken an extraordinary leap into the fray.  
This mother's heart sees no color... just chubby hands that need holding, little feet that need guiding, and a small soul that needs loving...
It is here.
Tonight we rest in the presence of Grace...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The 23rd Psalm in Pictures...

The Lord is my Shepherd...
That's Relationship


I shall not want...
That's Supply

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures...
That's Rest

He leadeth me beside the still waters...
That's Refreshment

He restoreth my soul...
That's Healing

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness...
That's Guidance

For His Name's sake...
That's Purpose

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...
That's Testing

I will fear no evil for Thou art with me...
That's Protection


Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me...
That's Loving Discipline


Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies...
That's Hope


Thou annointest my head with oil...
That's Consecration

My cup runneth over...
That's Abundance

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life...
That's Blessing


And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever...
That's a Secured Eternity!

"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house
of the LORD for ever."
                 Psalm 23

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

When We Are Spared...

Survivor's Guilt... they've given it a name...

The torture we feel when we have been spared, only to watch with despair as our loved one is taken.

It is most often associated with a traumatic or accidental death.  Perhaps pancreatic cancer death doesn't rank high up on that list, but it comes with plenty of guilt and torture for those left behind...

Survivor's Guilt.  Yes, it haunts deep for those who grieve.

This past week I watched an interview with the mother of a marine who had been killed by a roadside bomb in Afganistan.

Heartache unimaginable.  Tears spilled as I felt her pain, but it was what she said near the end of the story that has staying power...

Might you spend a moment or two and be lifted by this mother's journey?

Marines from her son's platoon were there in the audience opening night, and when asked what she hoped they would take away from the recital, she said,

 "I hope they will stop wishing that they had been the one that died.  I hope that they will say I need to make the most of my life because I was spared and I am meant to do good things. 

Every death helps those of us who are left behind to come together, to reach out to each other, to love each other better.  It is sad that sometimes we have to grieve in order to love better, but it is true."
                                                                                                       ~ Amy Wolfe

Profound words from a mother's grieving heart.  So true.

Are you there in the midst of your own Survivors Guilt?  It may have been cancer that took your loved one, or a car accident, or a roadside bomb in some faraway foreign land... leaving you to feel as if you are navigating grief's raging waters all alone...

Perhaps Amy Wolfe's story will touch a chord within.  Listen well, and take to heart her admonition...

I hope you will stop wishing that you had been the one that died.
I hope that you will say,
I need to make the most of my life
because I was spared,
and I am meant to do good things.

Rest in the Grace that Redeemed your Life for Good.

Our loved ones would want nothing less than this for us... to live our best life as we walk on in the journey without them.  We do so ever mindful of the gift we have been given, for this life is so very, very precious.

Let's not waste one moment... Thank you Amy for this beautiful tribute to your son.  You have captured a memory vulnerable and removed the veil from grief.  Might we all come alongside in love... Hearts are touched this night by your journey.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Redeeming the Broken Road...

A terminal diagnosis... an inoperable tumor... stage IV incurable...
Pancreatic Cancer...

Devastating words that lead to a nightmare for the living.
A journey no one wants to take.

And yet, thousands are hearing these words today...

Their foundations are shifting.  Their lives changed irrevocably.

A diagnosis of any incurable disease can break the most faithful amongst us... It is the Hard Walk...

We struggle with the cancer, the hopelessness, the treatments, the fear... How exactly do we do life when all we see ahead is death?

Might you join me for a glimpse of Light?  A whisper of Hope... yes, even here, even in the shadow valley...

Her name is Gayle Madden.

She lives on a mountaintop with her husband.  Thrills to adventure all over the world.  And marvels at God's Beauty all around.  She writes with Grace.  Loves generously.  And she has incurable pancreatic cancer.

She writes and inspires at The Sweet Life: La Dolce Vita.

Her perspective on life with an incurable disease settles peace and hope over the heartache.  She has chosen to testify that life is good.  And filled with miracles.

She shares her Sweet Inspirations often... Here is but a taste...

Life: Rejoice in life
and release everyone else.

Intuition:  Intuition is the door to the soul.
Learn to open it and you will be
speaking the language of the angels.

Wisdom:  When you apply new wisdom
to old patterns, you get new results.

Purpose:  Your purpose is to perfect
your own part for the good of the whole.

Goals:  Set your sights on new, expanded goals
and the smaller ones in between will fill in faster.

Joy:  You cannot plead for joy and get it.
See it in what already is.

Truth:  Truth is stronger than fear,
and you seek truth no matter what the cost.

Slow Down:  If you go too fast,
you forget the now.

Live Life:  To enjoy life, to live life,
look into each moment
and see the bounty it holds.

Gayle has chosen to walk the Hard Road with utter abandon... she faces the truth honestly, knowing the end game is not long off, but seeking to recognize the joy in the now, the bounty of each moment given.

I love how she has embraced family and friends...  graciously allowing many to minister to her along the way, giving of themselves... the sweetest expression of love this side of heaven.

This is more than just a book about pancreatic cancer, it is a book about living... With Grace, With Hope, With Wonder, With Joy...

I can be honest and say that it took us a very long time to put mom's pancreatic cancer into such graced perspective...

When the darkness of her cancer threatened to drag us under, I can remember Mom recounting her Bucket List in Reverse... with new eyes we saw the Journey as not an ending, but a Glorious Fulfillment of a Life Lived Richly.

It reminds me how Completely our Sovereign God redeems the Brokenness of our the midst of our deepest pain and grief, we cried out for Grace, praying that the suffering would not be wasted...

Asking with desperate hope for something Beautiful to be born from the tearing of our hearts.

Cancer is a formidable foe, but, oh, Grace conquers all.

"...the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the suffering and afflicted.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted, to announce liberty to captives, and to open the eyes of the blind.  He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of God's favor to them has come,
and the day of his wrath to their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel he will give:
beauty for ashes;
joy instead of mourning;
praise instead of heaviness.
For God has planted them like strong  and graceful oaks for his own glory."
          Isaiah 61:1-3

Grace Redeems the Broken Road, Always... 

 No matter where you are on this life journey, May you feel His Hand sweetly guiding your path, gently mapping the road before you.

Journeying on to a Life Richly Lived in Him,
                                                            All My Love,