Friday, September 18, 2020

Grief/Grieving

 Usually when we hear the word grief/grieving, we associate it with the death of someone close to us.  But the truth is, people can experience grief for other reasons.  Any situation that causes the feeling of loss can result in a person experiencing grief. 

I believe we are in the “grieving” process as a nation and do not even realize it.  I believe we do not recognize we are grieving because “fear” is being promoted irrationally.  This does not mean there are not things we should fear.  It simply means it is out of balance. 

For those of you that do not know the stages of grieving I am listing them now with just a short definition of each which is only a breath of how much stuff could be identified for each stage. 

  • Denial - The inability to accept the reality (truth) of the situation initially.  Knowledge (head) and emotions (heart) just do not connect.
  • Anger – Lashing out blaming others, self, and even God for the loss.  What lies behind the anger/frustration is anxiety/fear.  Anxiety and fear cause us to feel out of control, not knowing what to do or how we will make it, what about kids, our home, etc. 
  • Guilt – Usually has to do with “if I had only” statements. If I had only been there.  If I had been watching more closely.  If I had put more money in savings.  If we had gotten to the doctor sooner, etc. 
  • Bargaining – This usually takes place when dealing with a terminally ill patient. In the case of a terminally ill person bargaining with God for more time. In the case of a parent bargaining with God to take them instead of their child, etc. This stage involves the hope that the person can avoid a cause of grief
  • Depression - This stage brings on feelings of being overwhelmed, feeling hopeless/helplessness and belief that things will never get better.  This can result in loss of interest or desire for usual life activity, crying spells, anxiety, insomnia, loss of weight, gaining weight, anger outburst, etc.
  • Acceptance/hope – This is the final stage of grief/grieving.  It is when we have had time to work through the other stages and are accepting a new normal. We can talk more freely about our loss without emotions overwhelming us. The acceptance stage does not mean we have forgotten the loss, whether a person and or other circumstances. It just means we have moved on to putting a new plan/options in place for our life without allowing the loss to keep us stuck in the past.

The grieving process is not an exact science and it does not always follow the 5 stages in the model Kubler-Ross shared in her book in 1969 “On Death and Dying”.  It has however become a common foundation for many to understand the grieving process. The stages do not always happen in order and many times we go back in forth between the stages and can even get stuck in the stages.  The magnitude and intensity of grieving varies between individuals, the circumstances of the loss, personality types, beliefs systems about God, etc.

Why did I take the time to give you all the information on the grieving process?  Because I want you to be able to understand what I mean when I say I believe we are grieving as a nation.

So, what are we “grieving”?  Here are just a few possibilities of many.

  • Loss of freedom- The ability to come and go without considering covid-19 to church, the grocery store, hospitals, family gatherings, schools, nursing homes, funerals, etc.
  • The ability to have an opposing opinion without being attacked verbally, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. 
  • Loss of lives to Covid-19, rioting and murder.  The loss of jobs, homes, businesses, our   history whether you agree with it or not, good, or bad it is still history.
  • The loss of feeling and or being safe.
  • The loss of order that has been replaced with chaos.

That is a lot of loss my friends!

So, would you mind doing something today as you read this?  Check yourself.  Be honest. Could you be grieving?  I can promise you that many of you have been in touch with the term “fear”.   It has been being instilled in us since Covid-19 broke out.   Again, we should be wise about Covid-19 it is real, but we should not live in the fear that is being perpetuated about it.  Then add the George Floyd’s death, rioting, media, politics, and life as we knew it is gone. 

So, I took the test if you will.  I got honest with myself and I realized that I am in the grieving process.  So here is what the grieving process looks like for me. 

  •  Denial –.  I have had days when I could not believe what I was seeing and hearing.  I still have them occasionally.  But in the beginning of this I could not believe this was our nation.  Each day I am confounded by the craziness of it all!  When I finally accept what is occurring at face value, I go straight to the angry stage. 
  • Anger – I have a difficult time believing people can be so deceived.  I can get angry about how the loss of freedom in all those areas I mentioned earlier has affected our nation.  The anger for sure has been perpetuated by all that I see and hear.  I do hold lots of government officials responsible for where we are as a nation.  Some of my anger is righteous anger as people make a mockery of the things of God.  The absolute disrespect of authority starting with God, coming back down to governmental authority, police, etc., wears me out!  But I keep most of my thoughts to myself and immediate family members. Which stuffing things as we know can lead to the next stage.
  • Depression – Yes, I for sure have been in and out of this stage.  Some due to side effects of chemo medicine.  But some from stuffing feelings about everything that has been going on in the world instead of taking it to the LORD!  He is such a Gentleman.  He does not grab it from us, but He is there waiting for us to hand it over. 
  • Guilt – I suspect I get concerned that I am missing opportunities to bring truth into the middle of this chaos.  But then I am reminded by His sweet Spirit, do what I can where I am. 
  • Bargaining – Not really
  • Acceptance/Hope – About 2 weeks ago, I started going in and out of this stage.  Mostly by being reminded by His Word that He is Sovereign, All Knowing, All Powerful, and He fights for His Children, He avenges wrongs, and He is a shield about us.  He is our Hope and our Salvation.  He is not knocked off his throne by what is going on anywhere in this world including our nation.  Is He sad, displeased, and angry at the sin?  Yes, but as believes we know how it ends and it does end my friends.  God will not be mocked! 

So, can I ask you the question again.  Is it possible that you are grieving the loss of freedom as you knew it?  Are you really living in fear and or are you grieving loss?   I suspect many people are stuck in the angry stage of grief regarding our loss of freedom.  Are you stuck in any of these stages?  Do you realize grieving is happening to you more than fear?  Being able to move forward requires us to be able to identify the real issue.    

I would like to end this blog with a paragraph from Charles Stanley’s 30 Life Principles Bible Study, which is well worth your time if you get a chance to go through it.

And I quote, “…because His standard it higher than that of the culture in which you live, obeying His commands will set your apart from the crowd.  In certain circumstances, it will make you a target or scorn from the world that denies His authority.  As you strive to meet God’s standard, you might be accused of intolerance and narrow-mindedness, or single out on social media or in social settings.  The consequences can be sever …which is why God instructs you to leave them to Him.  He can bring ultimate good from even the direst consequences.” 

And remember Ephesians 6:12 (ESV), “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”


His,  Vickie

                           Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him


Thursday, September 3, 2020

Coming out from hiding?

Well, I suppose it is time to catch everyone up on what has been happening with me since I have been silent on blog posting for several months.

I started a blog almost 6-8 weeks ago and actually have looked at it weekly up until two weeks ago.  It is a blog that I just have felt I needed to be careful in wording and what I believe God would have me share instead of my opinions about things.  Like so many of you in the days we are living in, I have some opinions believe me!  All that to say that next week I will post that blog, finally!  I feel peaceable in saying that. 

In the meantime let me share some things with you going on in my life personally and with the ministry.  In January I was diagnosed with breast cancer again.  I was diagnosed with cancer the first time 15 years ago.  This was a different kind of cancer than the first time.  Pet Scans, CT Scans, MRI’s all showed it was no place else in my body.  Therefore, I made a decision to have a double-mastectomy.  At the end of February I had the procedure.  It went well, and the doctors gave me clearance for our trip that was to take place in Lisbon, Portugal in April as long as I continued to heal well, and I did.   In March I had my first visit to the oncologist.  He placed me on a chemo medication that has provided me with some trials for sure.  Please pray as I visit with him about some options on my next visit. 

Then as you know Covid-19 hit, then the protest, then the rioting, and then there is the election coming up here in the US.  In fact, my blog next week is regarding all of those things.  In the meantime, Pure Joy International like so many other International ministries is having to be still and wait on God as travel from here to most any place in the world right now is unacceptable.  Even for the very few areas we could get into you have to quarantine for 14 days because we would be arriving from the US.  This added to the 10 days for the trip makes it difficult for team members that cannot be away from their homes and families that long.  And as many of you know that is just a few of the problems encountered.

So, in the meantime I will have my final surgery from the double-mastectomy in a couple of weeks.  While healing I am continuing to look at a series of pod-cast I would like to do for our missionary women around the world to encourage them since it will be next year before we can leave the country again.  Our plan is to follow-through when possible with the retreat we wanted to provide for the women in Lisbon, Portugal with the women that had already registered

So I hope this catches you up on things.  Please know that I am good, my spirit is good but my body is confused because of the chemo medication! Ha,ha,ha,ha  This too shall pass.

We pray for you as we know everyone is having a difficult time adjusting to the things going on in our world today no matter where you live.  Watch for next weeks blog.  I believe it will be worth pondering.

Good to be back at it!  Love you all..

His,

Vickie

 

Monday, June 22, 2020

Watch the Lamb…

When I was early in my walk with the LORD, He used my spiritual mom and dad to build upon the sure foundation of Jesus Christ at work in my life. I would read books and listen to cassette tapes (smile), of solid bible teachers of God's word.

Two statements of many that have been essential in my continuing walk with the LORD have been; (1) You become like that which you focus on and (2) You move in the direction of your most dominant thoughts. I was trained up early to understand that Satan wants to distract us from all things that help us walk out the truths of who we are in Christ!

As I watch the situation of this world, I am reminded that we do not war against flesh and blood. Eph. 6:12. Remember, the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy. John 10:10.

I am also reminded of the words of an old song that was popular in the early years of my walk. It is a song by Ray Boltz titled, “Watch the Lamb”.

Below are the words to the song and here is the link  https://youtu.be/UNT1AThOgME

As we continue in our daily journey with Him, never forget “Watch the Lamb”

His,
Vickie

Watch the Lamb…
Walking on the road to Jerusalem,
The time had come to sacrifice again,
My two small sons,
They walked beside me on the road,
The reason that they came was to watch the lamb.
"Daddy, daddy, What will see there,
There's so much that we don't understand",
So I told them of Moses and Father Abraham,
Then I said "dear children watch the lamb".
"There will be so many in Jerusalem today,
We must be sure the lamb doesn't run away",
And I told them of Moses and Father Abraham,
Then I said "dear children watch the lamb".
When we reached the city,
I knew something must be wrong,
There were no joyful worshipers,
No joyful worship songs,
I stood there with my children
in the midst of angry men,
Then I heard the crowd cry out
"Crucify Him".
We tried to leave the city but
we could not get away,
Forced to play in this drama
a part I did not wish to play,
"Why upon this day were men condemned to die?,
Why were we standing here, Where soon they would pass by?".
I looked and said, "even now they come",
The first one cried for mercy,
The people gave him none,
The second one was violent, He was arrogant and loud,
I still can hear his angry voice
screaming at the crowd,
Then someone said "there's Jesus",
I could scarce believe my eyes,
A man so badly beaten,
He barely looked alive,
Blood poured from His body,
From the thorns upon His brow,
Running down the cross, Falling to the ground.
I watched Him as He struggled,
I watched Him as He fell,
The cross came down upon His back,
The crowd began to yell,
In that moment I felt such agony,
In that moment I felt such loss,
Till a Roman soldier grabbed my arm
and screamed, "you, carry His cross".
At first I tried to resist him,
Then his hand reached for his sword,
So I knelt and took the cross from the Lord,
I placed it on my shoulder,
And started down the street,
The blood that he'd been shedding
was running down my cheek.
They led us to Golgotha,
They drove nails deep in His feet and hands,
Yet upon the cross I heard Him pray
"Father, forgive them".
Oh, never have I seen such love in any other eyes,
"Into thy hands I commit my spirit"
He prayed and then He died,
I stood for what seemed like years,
I'd lost all sense of time until
I felt two tiny hands holding tight to mine,
My children stood there weeping,
I heard the oldest say,
"Father please forgive us, the lamb ran away".
"Daddy, daddy, What have we seen here?,
There's so much that we don't understand",
So I took them in my arms,
And we turned and faced the cross,
Then I said "dear children watch the lamb"

Friday, June 5, 2020

Quicksand…

When we hear the word “quicksand” it stirs some thoughts that have been logged away in our minds from movies and or tv shows. Scenes like, people running through a forest and suddenly disappearing into the ground around them and/or a good western where the ground swallows up an animal. You get the picture.

Those thoughts most likely trigger the emotion of fear. In fact, most of us have probably developed a belief system about quicksand based on that fear, which is, most people that get caught in quicksand do not make it out. But truth is, no-one has ever died from stepping into “quicksand”. I could not find one death due to quicksand drowning anywhere. That truth totally dispelled my fear of quicksand along with the following facts.



Here are a few facts about quicksand.
  • It is impossible to become fully submerged in quicksand. (Meaning you as an individual.)
  • Most quicksand is less than several feet deep.
  • Humans are only half as dense as quicksand so; you could not sink much lower than your waist unless you struggle.  
  • Struggling causes you to sink more making it more difficult to get out. Depending on where you are circumstances could lead to dehydration, starvations, hyperthermia, sunstroke, and/or attacked by predators because you become more stuck.

How to get out of quicksand.
  • Stay calm.
  • Get rid of all items that you are carrying because they will only cause you to sink deeper. Items, such as backpacks, hiking tools, etc.
  • Lean back in quicksand and water will come in and fill the space allowing you to slowly begin to move your body towards the surface. If you can, grab a stick and wedge it behind your back and it will give you leverage till help gets there. 
  • If there is not help coming, then you can get out, but it will be a slow process and take a long time and all your strength.



You might be thinking right now, “Gee, Vickie thanks for the lesson on quicksand, that I will probably never be exposed to in my life!” Ha,ha,ha But...

Life can show up like quicksand sometimes. We have all been there, when you are going through your day and suddenly out of nowhere a situation occurs and you feel overwhelmed, stuck, or trapped. Then fear steps in and captures your thought and emotions. Everything in you wants to struggle free of those thoughts and feelings but, the more you struggle the worst they get, the deeper you sink into them. If we are being totally honest here, I suspect several of you are dealing with those thoughts and feelings even as you read this post. I do not know what your quicksand is right now, but I do know this, we can take some of those suggestions about how to get out of quicksand and apply spiritual truths.

How to get out of quicksand, spiritually speaking.

  • Stay calm.
    • Isaiah 41:10 …fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 
    • Psalm 34:4 …I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 
  • Get rid of things weighing you down.
    • 1 Peter 5:6-7 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
  • Lean back and trust Him.
    • Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 
    • Psalm 40:2 (ESV) He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. 

The last bullet of getting out of quicksand in real life says you can get out by yourself, but it will take a long time and drain you of all your strength. May I say to you that God “never” intended for us to do life alone and without Him. So, if you have stepped into a quicksand pit recently, please Trust Him and let others know, so, they can pray, lend an ear, give you a hand or just sit with you. 

His,
Vickie

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Is your Plate Clean?

Oh, how many of us remember those famous words told to us by our moms when we were old enough to feed ourselves, “make a happy plate”, “make sure you clean your plate off or no desert”, “you are not getting up from this table until you eat everything on your plate”, “there are children starving all over the world that would love to have this food”, etc., etc.. etc.

I think it is safe to say that most of the parents that have made such statements were not trying to bring harm to their children. In fact, they were trying to make sure their children were properly fed and nourished, knowing the importance of fueling the body for growth, health, and activity.

Can I ask you something? Is your plate clean? I am not talking about food now. I am stepping into spiritual matters. So many times, in the counseling ministry, I see people bogged down with unconfessed sin on their plate. We all sin. Truthfully, unless we are fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit throughout the day, we have no clue how much sin we engage in. It could be as simple as an unkind word towards someone, refusing to extend a hand where we can, having a critical spirit, gossip, etc., and/or sin as blatant as gluttony (which I suspect we all have engaged in since Covid-19), fits of anger, jealously, strife, etc., etc. You get the point…we all sin! While we are no longer a Sinner, Big “S” as a believer, we are a Saint that sins Little “s”, until our eternal exit and/or His return. God did not intend for us to carry around guilt, shame, and/or the need to hide, fear, or blame others for our sin as believers. His word tells us in …

1 John 1:8-9 (ESV) “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

When is the last time you, as a believer, bowed the head, the knee, laid out flat before Him, and confessed your sin? I make it a daily practice to ask God to forgive me for my sin, hopefully the minute I recognize it. I also do my best to ask others for forgiveness when it involves others. But, for good measure it is one of the first things I do when I lay my head on my pillow at night. I ask His forgiveness for sins unknown that I may have committed during the day. I also ask Him to reveal sins to me that I am unaware of. That forgiveness from Him makes for a “Clean Plate” and starts my next day off anew!

The enemy loves plates that are full, that have not been emptied. He loves the guilt, shame, fear, and behaviors of hiding and fear to pile up on your plate! Disarm HIM!!!!! Clean your plate! 1 John 1:8-9! It is a plate cleaner! (smile)

His,
Vickie

Monday, April 20, 2020

YOU ARE MY REFUGE…

The Webster dictionary defines “refuge” as a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble. In 1 Samuel 22:1 we find David hunkered down in a cave in Adullam. Why? So, he could take “refuge” from Saul and his army that were in pursuit of him. Psalm 142, written at this time by David, is an incredible prayer. As you read this Psalm consider, David is experiencing emotions similar to what you or I would be. He probably has made his way as far back against the back-cave wall as possible, his heart is probably racing and before he gives room to total fear, he runs to his ultimate “refuge”, the LORD. Picture this intimate conversation (prayer) in your mind as he is hiding, fearful, and feeling somewhat hopeless.

Psalms 142:1-7 (NKJV)
 I cry out to the LORD with my voice; With my voice to the LORD I make my supplication.
I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble.

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, Then You knew my path. In the way in which I walk, they have secretly set a snare for me.

Look on my right hand and see, for there is no one who acknowledges me; Refuge has failed me; No one cares for my soul.

I cried out to You, O LORD: I said, "You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living.
Attend to my cry, For I am brought very low; Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are stronger than I.

Bring my soul out of prison, That I may praise Your name; The righteous shall surround me, For You shall deal bountifully with me."

Instead of marinating in fear David runs to the LORD. He says… I cry out to you with my voice. It’s me LORD! My voice! Here is what is going on, I’m in some big trouble here!

It is an understatement to say there is a lot going on in our world today. But, can I encourage you, if you are at the back of the cave, you have lost your job, finances are tight, you have loved ones that contacted Covid-19, or lost loved ones to Covid-19, or have lost loved ones and not been able to attend their funeral, have a house of kids and you are not a home school parent,  and you are going stir crazy being isolated from family and friends, etc., etc.
Please remember this, the cave isn’t your ultimate refuge, God is. Cry out to him, tell him your troubles, believe He cares and hears you.

Finding my refuge in Him,
Vickie

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Things I KNOW…

As we watch, listen, and each acclimate to our particular part of the world being attacked by the corona virus, I challenge us to not be consumed with fear of the unknown but to stand strong on the things we do KNOW as believers.

There are 3 major truths I know in my life that all else is anchored to.



The first is, God is Sovereign over all.

Genesis 1:1-3 (ESV) 
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Psalm 33:9 (ESV)
For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm.

I don’t understand about the corona virus, I am saddened by the lives lost from around the world near and far, by those that have lost jobs, for weddings put on hold or cut back, for school graduations being cancelled, etc. But it doesn’t move me away from the truth that God is in control. He has either allowed this or brought it into our lives. In any case, HE alone is God. And that is where my peace and confidence are anchored.

The second is, I am a Child of God.

John 1:12 (ESV) 
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

Ephesians 1:13-14 (ESV)
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.

What a joy to be able to rest in our identity in Christ! You can’t add to it or subtract from it with your performance and it can’t be taken away from you, it’s called Grace! It’s not about what you do but it is about what HE has done. Talk about your greatest form of identity theft protection. (ha,ha,ha)

Thirdly, all my days are ordained.

Psalm 139:16 (ESV) 
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. 

Job 12:10 (ESV) 
In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. 

It is clear to me through God's Word that my check in and check out dates were set before the beginning of time. I cannot change that. However, I do get to decide how I live within the time frame. I pray, I am living it with these verses in mind…

Mark 12:29-31 (ESV) 
The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.   And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 
The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

May I challenge each of you to look at the truths of God’s Word, that anchor you to Him in the storms!

His,
Vickie