Contentment vs. Anxiety

Why has it taken so long for me to write this post?

It is not because I have been at my task of caring for Jerry. It is not because there are not enough hours in the day to witness of the Lord’s goodness ~ this is the reason I write.

Titles come so very easily, but the meat is not always simple to come by. We long to publish the truths of the Father’s kingdom, but it must come by experience. And so this is true of the subject matter of contentment and anxiety.

Growing up in an environment of anxiety stamps a person for life, until we encounter Christ and learn of Him.

Then, we are born and sealed with His Spirit of promise, sanctified, and set apart for His use.

But even as Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord, so we wrestle for the promises that are ours in Him. This wrestling is the work of the Holy Spirit within us, bringing us to know the promises through God’s Word, claiming them, and working through life with the two-edged sword to destroy the strongholds that have have been set up in our lives.

There is as much difference between contentment and anxiety as between day and night. The difference is as light and darkness; as good and evil. And each has its ownership and connotations.  Books have been written, messages spoken and songs sung, and we could say more, but we post very simply today of how the Lord brings us from the anxiety of this life to contentment in Him.

The Source and the Fruit
Anxiety is the abnormal attitude of human beings; the seed thought of every man; flowing from the spring of unbelief.

“O, ye of little faith.”

“Yes, Lord, I hear you. I recognize your voice. I acknowledge my lack of faith.”

“Why do you doubt?”

“I have no excuse. My thoughts carry me where I do not want to go. They seem to have a power of their own.”

“Have I not proven that I love you and am able to provide all that you need?”

“Yes, Lord, I am guilty of forgetting you and your goodness when my thoughts wonder away from you. When times are difficult I am carried away by the moment. I am still learning to be content in every circumstance. I confess my sin, and ask that your Spirit keep me in your Word, to always remember your promises. Let me not dwell on the things of the world, and the power of the enemy. But let your Word be the source of my thoughts, to do its work. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and the contentment that is ours in you. Bear in and through me the fruit of your Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, temperance; the fruit of holiness, righteousness, truth, grace, and humility. Fill me with your fullness, so there is no room for doubt or fear, but only thoughts of you, your grace and your glory.”
Fran

image: Google

Christ in the Heart of a Caregiver

Today marks our fifty-sixth anniversary. If you knew how we started, and what we had to work through, you would wonder how we made it this far. Had it not been for the Lord Jesus Christ, I would not be here, and being a servant to my husband would not have been an option. During this last valley we have been going through, the question has been asked, “If you knew what you know now, would you have married Jerry?”

I was honest in answering, “No, I don’t think I would.” My vision of marriage was like most other twenty-two-year-olds. He was the man I wanted to spend my whole life with, but no thoughts of ill health for either of us was in my mind. I was selfish then, and had I known, I would not have committed to such a marriage that would require being a servant for the rest of my life.

The True Meaning of Life
Years of learning the true meaning of life brought me through different stages of serving others, then to the point eleven years ago, with his amputation, to the reality that I would be Jerry’s caregiver for the remainder of his life.

It was before then that the Lord changed my heart and my life, so that I would be willing and ready to give my life to serve Jerry, “as unto the Lord.”

Unless the Lord brought me to this place, I would never have known the joy of being His servant.

With this said, I want to share how our Lord Jesus Christ dwells in my heart, strengthens and supplies all our needs “according to His riches in glory.”

Promises From God’s Word
References are from Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 3:16-17; and Colossians 1:11.

“To them (His saints, His people) God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27

This is the means of our hope ~ Christ living within, in whom is all our hope for now and for eternity.

“that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—…” Ephesians 3:16-17

This is my life. Two main areas of service are Jerry, first, and then, Home. Everything else falls into the category of Other.

Christ is the center of all, shouldering all for me that Jerry needs.  He is our strength and shield.

Under the Almighty arms of Jesus are all we need for the care of our home. And according to His will working in us, we are enabled to care for the other things. Some of these may be ongoing; others may be on the spur of the moment. Except for posts on this blog, writing was put on hold this year. According to His will, and in His timing we will continue publishing our books.

When asked, “How do you do what you do, joyfully?”  ~ Joy and praise are part of a life of thanksgiving for all that Christ has done for us. Sacrifice for Jerry and others is the only reasonable response.

Gracious Father, thank you for this opportunity to witness of your grace in a world that seeks its own desires. We praise you for choosing the role of servant and caregiver for me and making it a joyful experience. Thank you for the fruitful years that you have provided for Jerry, for me and our family. We praise you for your continued wisdom, strength and grace for the days ahead. We never know where you will lead us, but we are assured of your presence, even as you have always dealt bountifully with me. Thank you for Christ, your Son, who lives within us, and in whom we live, as we dwell in the secret place of the most high, abiding under the shadow of the Almighty. Keep me humble in HimIn Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen,

images: Google

Three Views of Me

Jerry drove 30 minutes to our daughter’s house after sitting in church two hours. When we got there he took off his prosthesis and sat in his wheelchair for two more hours. As is the routine, he suggested (letting me know that our time together was coming to an end) that we needed to think about leaving for home. Enjoying the time (and honestly not wanting to go) my response was, “I’m thinking about it.”

At first, I didn’t understand why our family laughed. Our responses to each other at home are sometimes humorous , making our circumstances a little easier. We are used to our manner of communication, and laugh with each other.

After Lee said that I was being “sassy” I realized that others have a different view of us than we do. They see and hear differently than we do.

This incident was an example and an illustration for this article that I had wanted to write.

There are three views of me:
1.  how I see myself
2.  how others see me
3.  how God sees me.

I can only see myself if I go to a mirror; 2011-05-15_1645and then I have only one dimension. Either I look at my frontal view; or with another mirror see a back view. There is a strict limitation. When I leave the mirror I cannot see me at all.

Others have a continual and more rounded view when we are with them. They have other angles that we never see. Yet, they are limited to what they see or hear at any one time.

God has the perfect view, from His own creation and power of dimension; not only from the outside, but inside, seeing the heart, and knowing our thoughts, always.

 “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth;
for man looketh on the outward appearance,
but the Lord looketh on the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7

gty_heart_xray_mi_121224_wmain

Seeing What I Need to See

I don’t need to spend more time in front of the mirror. It is not the outside that I need to see.  I see enough of me.

I would do well to ask and to know what others see and hear; and in humility desire
to change what needs to be changed.

The only means of knowing the truth about myself, with the knowledge and power to be what I should be, is to seek the Lord’s view; to pray for and live in humility. This is His working when I daily seek His kingdom and His righteousness through His word and prayer.

Though there is never any intention of being disrespectful to Jerry I realize that how others perceive our relationship may be different than what we want to portray.
The Lord has made it a joy for me to serve Jerry as his wife and caregiver.
Jerry is always gracious to allow me time with the family whenever we can be together. I need to remember that this is a sacrifice for him as he continues to deal with his discomfort and the soreness in his leg.

Dear Father, forgive me for what seems disrespectful to others, although Jerry does not take it that way. Help me to be more aware of how long Jerry has been sitting, and the rest that he needs; to be immediately responsive, instead of just “thinking about it.”   Work in me the humility of Christ that I may be the caregiver that you want me to be; that others may see your working in me ~ for your glory and our joy.
In Jesus’ name I pray.   Amen.

Image Sources:  Baby,  X-ray 

The Light of God’s Grace

*OUR OWN LITTLE WORLDS

On this planet earth many of us are living within our own little worlds—wombs that we think are protecting us from the rest of the world.  In essence we have imprisoned ourselves.

Before birth a baby is cradled, fed, and cared for naturally.  From the womb of the mother he exits to find himself in unknown territory, unprepared to deal with ‘life.’  This helpless bundle of blood, tissue and cells must depend on someone to show him how to survive on the outside.

Does he wonder where he is, where he came from, or how he got here?  No; his only thought is, “I need…” communicated by-way-of his natural mechanism.

But look:  Mommy cannot respond to his needs—he sees her in a fetal position, surrounded by a crystal-like ball. He is trying to tell her that he needs to be held, to feel the closeness they had while he was in the mother’s womb, to know that this world is a safe place for him to be.

She cannot break through; she has closed herself in.  Because of her own fears she is unable to convince her child that he can be secure, that his vital needs will always be met.

Soon he metamophorically forms his own outer shell and becomes one of the millions of bubbles floating around the universe, passing time and people without understanding the meaning of his existence.

(The mother is always the closest to the new-born — except for dire circumstances. Her relationship is crucial to her baby.  She is the first to nurture, to feed, to hold.  This bond between mother and child is the most important.  The person who carries him in her womb for nine months should be free for a period of time to love this baby and to meet its needs.  [I am not sure that I agree completely with Dr. William Sears, but in his book, Parenting Your Baby, he says that a new mother should plan to live in her nightgown for two weeks, nursing, holding, grooming, rocking and “securing” her new-born.  For the first year the new baby needs to know that he lives in a safe environment.]  The father’s role is to support and nurture this mother-baby relationship.  As a result he will be seen as a gentle, but strong, human being and will take his rightful place as head of his household. It is this family relationship that is the example for the future relationship this child will have with God, his heavenly Father, and His family.)

Families that have good parenting skills are rare.  We face the two most important lift-time decisions—marriage and parenting— without proper training.  We make our decisions based on feelings, from what we know, what we want, and what we see others doing.

Experience has shown that parents who were loved and ‘secured’ are able to love their children.  If you have been nurtured, you have been trained to nurture.  These are the people whose feet are on the ground—anchored to a purpose and a meaning for life—who see and respond to the needs of others.  These are the people who are trying to burst the bubbles of those whose cries were never heard.

How do these people convince others that they are loved and have a purpose for living?  —- to be continued)

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This above article was written in the 1980s during my times of conflict, doubt, and anxiety—the natural way I had learned to live.

The mother in this story is me at a time in my life when things seemed hopeless—a mother who could not help herself, not knowing where to turn, and not able to help anyone else. My own little world was all I knew.  This little world is a dark world which leaves no room for anyone but self.

Darkness is not a pleasant state in which to be. But then God began to shine the light into my heart. There was a calling to something from Someone I did not yet know.  My drawing was first to The Word of God which is contained in The Holy Bible.  Here I began to read and to love what I was learning, which eventually led me to Jesus Christ, who is revealed in His Word.  Then I began to love God, the Father, and God, the Son, that Someone whose light was strong enough to penetrate my darkness and bring me into His light.

Not only did the light become brighter and brighter, but I could also look back and see the darkness He had brought me through.  Still not knowing the meaning of life, nor my purpose, there was evidence that our heavenly Father had been with me all my life, protecting and guiding in a way that I did not fully understand.

During the four and a half years of caring for Mother in her last stages of dementia, and the first year in caring for Jerry after two surgeries on his left leg—the second one an amputation below the knee— the bubble formed again and my own little world seemed to be all I could handle.

Again, God, our heavenly Father,  by the power of His own light, penetrated my “little world”—the sharpness and piercing of the two-edged sword is like a laser.  (Hebrews 4:12) He continues to permeate my whole being, and perpetuate the light of His grace in my heart and through my life.  He works in each of us, by His own power, to see the needs of others, to care, intercede, and touch the lives of those for whom we pray—for His glory and our joy.

“The path of the just is as a shining light, shining more and more unto the perfect day.”

Proverbs 5:18

*(Introduction to God’s Glory and Our Joy, The Ministry of Intercession)