Tag Archives: hardship

Shout Out

More than anything else I want to live so that people see God’s hand all over my life, not just that I’ve survived this long.

So when somebody recently said to me (again), “You wouldn’t know anything about suffering (hardship, pain, fill-in-the-blank…),” I simply replied, “Maybe not. You tell me about it.”

The fact is my history includes so many tragic situations and hardships some might doubt my story’s validity. So much happening to one person in one lifetime… I needn’t exaggerate for dramatic affect. Neither do my siblings. Bottom line, we actually do know about suffering.

And we know about overcoming.

More important, we not only survived, but God worked it all for good. My life doesn’t compare to Paul’s. But I learned early on in my Christian walk, by studying the apostle, to cry out with prayer and praise during the worst situations.

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.”*

Somehow my situations always got better too. Sometimes they got worse first, but God always turned it all around for good.

Multiply that times infinite numbers of people crying out every day.

Horrifying events are happening in our nation and in our global community. Still, I thank God for my experience. I learned when things seem to be at their worst, when there’s no way for things to be good, God is a way maker.

“Do not be overcome by evil,

but overcome evil with good.”

Romans 12:21 (NIV)

Image courtesy Pixabay

*For the whole story see BibleGateway Book of Acts 16:16-40

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Renewed

Throughout the holiday season I noticed some people saying, “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Holidays” and “Happy New Year.” I also noticed how sometimes it seemed mechanical, like a thoughtless, knee-jerk action.

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It was me. With winter closing in I’d been feeling depressed. Although I had been missing the company of my sons and other siblings, I was far from sad or unhappy. I was experiencing a bio-chemical imbalance. Today I’m blessed to be able to correct that with diet, exercise and therapy. Today I pray fervently for many people I know who need more help.

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Today in my cozy little cottage my happiness is unmistakable. Sure, yesterday I didn’t bring in wood for the upcoming week as I’d planned, and then about 4 inches of snow fell as the New Year rolled in. But the wood cribs are loaded with kindling and small logs to get us through until the snowfall lets up.

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Last year I could only imagine the happiness and hope in my life today. For years I stubbornly held tight to my beliefs that God loves me even though I felt alone and lonely – I couldn’t imagine thinking about firewood. Today those hopes are realized, my faith and hopes are marvelously evidenced.

Last year hard times had Roan, Opal and I trudging along step-by-step, each of us hoping our lives could be different.

Last year I’d sigh hearing young people voice their personal dreams. I’d experienced too much disappointment to encourage them. I fell silent. Today I smile and help them so their dreams continue to grow. Last year, when I’d all but buried my hopes, my nearly-vanished dream suddenly came vividly true.

Today a new year began in my new reality.

Now I sip my latte watching the snow gently falling on the pastures. This is my dream come true. However, excuse me for a little while, I need both hands to pull my pasture boots on and feed the livestock.

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Thanks God!

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.”

Jeremiah 17:7,8 (NLT)

 

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Now

bathroomWhile the sickness healed in my throat… What? Okay, now that the pressure’s mostly in my inner ears, I’ve had more time to reflect on life.

I recently recalled the time a beautiful, water resistant shower curtain and rugs display grabbed my attention and held it, I liked them so much. They were pricey for my budget. Still, they inspired a need for change in my house. Usually a spend-thrift, knock offs would not do that time. I cut corners and saved for months until I had enough to buy them.

Lending the illusion of a life I once dreamed of, the bath/spa room is important to me. Having purchased my curtain and rugs I could hardly wait to get home to stage the new look I’d imagined for months. While saving I’d run through every detail in my head and my vision was clear.

old bottlesWhile buying my treasures I remembered I was nearly out of supplies. I have always been careful about cleaning products, but without a spare dollar for the rest of the month, I took a bottom-shelf product and hurried home.

My usual routine was to start with a clean slate, but I’d scoured the entire house the day before. I pressed and then hung the curtain. Taking in the finished scene, I noticed a fresh smear on the wall next to the new curtain. Glad I got the spray cleaner, I pulled the curtain back just a bit, aimed, sprayed and then wiped away the offending smudge. I was delighted with my new decor and how well it blended with my towels and wall color the way I’d imagined. I took a photo to send to friends and flex my bragging rights.

After pasting the photo into the email I couldn’t believe my eyes. There on my new curtain was unmistakable bleaching in the beautiful color! I dashed to the bathroom hoping my eyes deceived me. But no… My wailing brought neighbors running.

In my hurry to make my vision reality and then get back to work, I’d inadvertently grabbed a bottle containing mostly bleach that had been misplaced in the non-bleach section. I’d been so preoccupied with my happy thoughts I didn’t notice the caustic smell. Arrrrgh!cleaner

I wasn’t quick enough to arrest the damage. After sulking a while and, of course bemoaning the unfairness of it all, I began brainstorming ideas to recover some of the original beauty of the curtain. Eventually my imagination kicked in.

What my situation meant for defeat, God used for good. I creatively sprayed more of the the cleaner all over the curtain and then some Ritz dye remnants consistent with my color palette. Eventually I created a poor-man’s Monet, very slightly reminiscent of his Rose Walk.

Even after several washings, the curtain performed it’s primary purpose very well. With every wash the pattern took on new characteristics. Now it’s more like a Wildflower Walk. Yeah, Ritz still bleeds and fades.

I do not recommend intentionally ruining a lovely curtain or settling for less than what we can achieve either. But I can share the worthwhile lesson from that whole process:

Life takes us through lots of twists and turns and we adjust our original plans. In high school I imagined my life in showcase homes. Over the years, with each relocation I told myself, “this will do for now.” I usually settled on the best location, the nicest home with the most space I could afford. While I’m thankful for a great imagination, I graduated magna cum laude from the school of hard knocks, but I’m not the most creative person around. Fortunately, home and garden magazines are always freely available and I regularly thank God for HGTV and DIY network. With that I got by – for now.

Now that I’m used to a healthy over-all lifestyle on a tight budget, it’s all I can do to stay focused on my set priorities. I’ve minimized dramatically while still hoping to become a piano virtuoso. Hey, I can play either one or the other part of Heart and Soul. While I admire friends’ beautiful homes and still aspire to own something similar someday, for now I’m content with a roof that doesn’t leak, food, electricity, and especially good company. Is it just me or is that actually funny now?

Compared to my dramatic, dynamic early years I’ve developed a very ordinary life from extreme conditions. While my long Bucket List continually grows, I have what I need and I’m confident I am exactly who and what God created me to be now.

I believe all the tragedies, hardships, the bad times of my life worked together to bring me right where I am now – I’m good. When we question why God allows so much trouble, sadness and evil in the world, we can too easily lose sight of the joy in life.

victorian house

I won’t lose sight of my ideal house, complete with writing room, and neither will Voithos. Today I’m glad for a modest, comfortable home. While modest, it has been my status quo for more years than I want to admit, with a good, old friend it’s quite good enough for me now. While I keep my focus upon God’s will, He always takes care of the details. I have experienced time and again how He guides me through the necessary clutter with more colorful variations I could never have imagined.

Like the rest of my life, that’s my story – and I’m sticking to it.

 

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment…” Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

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