Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Kicked To The Curb - Good Samaritans

My guess is that we all have experienced being 'kicked to the curb' at least once in our lives.  I know that I have and depending on how serious our falls are will determine how long it takes us before we can get back up again.  Perhaps you have experienced a couple of kicks in a row and it took you a bit longer to get back up again.  Some of you may have even skinned your knee and had some bruising which left a visible reminder of your fall.  Still others may have just been getting up from your first kick when you were kicked again and because you were still trying to catch your bearings before standing back up it caused you to hit the ground real hard and you split your knee open and it was bleeding and required a bandaid, maybe even some stitches and someone to help you up.  Yes, I could keep going and going because we all have different stories and I cannot begin to imagine them all.

I wrote about a girl Rebecca in August 2015 (His Mercies Are New Every Morning) and she had been kicked to the curb a few times and she sure felt like her cuts and scrapes were never going to heal.  Whilst she had applied ointment and bandaids to her bleeding heart and head and other parts of her body, the cuts never had enough time to completely heal before she removed the bandaids when she was kicked again to the curb and her perpetrators expected her to get up on her own and just keep moving despite her bleeding.

Yes, this went on for almost two years and without the help of the many Good Samaritans that were in her life, Rebecca would likely still have gaping wounds.  For those who might not be familiar, the Good Samaritan is a story from the Bible.  You can look it up in Luke, Chapter 10 and Versus 25 to 37.  To summarise, a guy was on a trip and before he got to his destination, he was robbed and attacked and left for dead and two people saw him on their way but went to the other side of the street to avoid him but the Samaritan came by and not only helped him, but took him to a place to recuperate and paid for his bill.

Rebecca was avoided by the people who first knew of her scrapes and then bleeding heart and head but she is so thankful for the Good Samaritans that have been around her to help her and given her a hand when she has fallen back down because she has not been strong enough to stand all by herself.  There are many, too many to name and not only have they been family and friends but some medical professionals.

I know that Rebecca finally had to put her health first because even though she had incredible support around her, the kicks to the curb kept happening so she left the place to where she was employed and in turn has faced more kicks to the curb.  That is why she is so thankful for her Good Samaritans; without them she is pretty sure she would not have had the strength to stay on this road; however, she knows that her strength comes from her faith and that was passed on to her from her Dad and Mom.  She continues to hold her head up high (even on the not so good days of recovery) that she is honouring the memory of her parents by staying true to her convictions.

What I have learned from Rebecca's story in the almost 3 years of her recovery and healing journey, it is understandable why a lot of people give up when battling for what is right because of all the bureaucracy and red tape.  Systems should be in place to help people not discourage them but this has been her experience every step of the way.  It is only because of the supportive and loving people that she has had around her including her Doctors and Psychologist that she can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Rebecca and I cannot help everyone in this world but it is my prayer that we can show mercy to our neighbours as the Good Samaritan did; will you do the same?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

I Am Thine, O Lord (Draw Me Nearer)

The melody of this hymn has been rolling around inside of my heart and soul for the past several days.  That's the power of hymns that I have grown up with; that they still resonate deep within my spirit just like God's word.  When we hide God's word or music deep inside our hearts, it comes bubbling up to the surface to remind us of the truth that we might be in need of on a particular day or it may just be Holy Spirit ministering to us.

Life gets so busy sometimes and when we want to take time out to relax we find ourselves in front of the television which I know that I, too, find myself doing at times and then regret that the time has been lost and I could have spent it doing something much more relaxing and more profitable.  But God is so gracious in that He offers His grace to forgive us when we do not spend the time with Him that He longs for.  This hymn, which is entitled "I Am Thine, O Lord", actually has four verses, but this musical group "Commissioned" only sing versus one and two.  In verse three the words are:

O the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer and with Thee, my God,
I commune as friend with friend.

We know that in order to have a healthy relationship, it is necessary to invest time into that person and so it is the same with our Heavenly Father whom I like to refer to as my Abba Daddy.

I miss that hymns are not regularly used in worship like they were back in the day and I had actually forgotten the name of this hymn but thankfully as I remembered the lyrics from the chorus, Google helped me find my way because my hymnal index was not because the hymn is not actually entitled 'Draw Me Nearer'.

The words of the chorus are beautiful but at the same time messy and even confronting because I do not know about you but when I think of Jesus on the cross and bleeding, I do not actually picture that as beautiful but nevertheless, the writer of this song chose the words "Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, To Thy precious bleeding side."  Perhaps to challenge us to create an image in our mind for ourselves; to help us envision how much Jesus really loves us.

I enjoy writing but even as I start to write my mind wanders and thinks of other topics that relate to this one.  For example, it is not unusual to see some form of violence, blood and destruction in the television shows and movies on offer today and perhaps we do not think it is normal, but I believe we have come to expect it as normal.

Now back to the hymn and verse three I referenced earlier.  The verse speaks about having quality time, communing with a friend; that friend being Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit.  Then the chorus has us see Jesus on the cross.  Jesus had been beaten, verbally abused, scarred, bleeding and the Bible says unrecognisable to those that knew Him.   A wee bit different than what most crucifix's I have seen either hanging around someone's neck or on a church or hospital wall.  I believe that it makes us uncomfortable to think of Jesus on the cross and picturing in our mind what that actually looked like.  I remember when Mel Gibson released the movie "The Passion Of The Christ" that showed the final twelve hours of Jesus's life, on the day of His crucifixion.  I personally wanted to go and see the film in the theatre when I had the opportunity to take a public stand for my faith even if it made me uncomfortable.

It is at times when I am going through a trial or a challenge that I believe remembering Jesus Christ on the cross and the horrific pain that He endured on my behalf because of His amazing love for me that helps me to take heart, have courage and depend on Him because I know that Jesus has overcome the world.

Going back to the YouTube clip of this group Commissioned of the song "I Am Thine, O Lord", I am a big fan of harmonies  and these guys do an outstanding job with the chorus.  The group adds their own signature to the melody of the verses which fits for their style.  I had tinkered a bit with this hymn at the piano and found this group's arrangement and closed my eyes and let the beauty of the harmonies wash over me like a blanket that warms me when I feel cold.

The next time you are feeling weary, where will you go to receive strength and comfort?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

I Learned A New Word, No Two Actually

Hold Space.  A friend of mine shared an article recently which talked about 'hold space' and I had never heard the term until then.

I encourage you to read the article for yourself as the author, Heather Plett explains it really well.  No point reinventing the wheel, right?

I have both been on the receiving end and the giving end of "hold space" and it is a real privilege to both receive and give.

Heather Plett addresses what my siblings and I did for our Mom a couple of years ago; although some days it feels like it was just yesterday.  It was a honour to provide care for my Mom as cancer was robbing her of energy and she sometimes did not have the strength to do even the simplest of tasks or when she did and she wanted to just remain independent a little while longer, she was wiped out for a long while after.

These are Heather's words from her post - I believe she articulates what it means really well:

What does it mean to hold space for someone else? It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.

On the surface it may sound easy, but far from it because the tendency is you want to fix it and take all the hard stuff away from the person so you can save the person from the trouble they may otherwise have to go through.

To 'hold space' for me means being there to support the person, being sensitive to the person's dignity and having open conversations so you understand as best as you can when you need to offer help despite what the person may think they want or need at the time.  Yeah, it was hard sometimes letting my Mom do some things when I knew she would be really tired after but Mom chose life even in her dying days.  She was an incredible woman, my Mom.  It was even scary sometimes when I felt out of my depth and that is why I am incredibly thankful for those who were there to 'hold space' for me during this time.

Those special people have continued to 'hold space' for me since that time, too.  I would be lost without them, too.  They are my 'Jesus with skin on' people.  There are far too many to list them all, but in the days, weeks, months and now two years since Mom's death, I have been supported by many who continue to 'hold space' for me.

Which leads me to how I went to bed last night - with a heart full of gratitude.  Yep, that's right.  Despite all that the last couple of years has brought - grief and loss, and more grief and loss and yet more grief and loss and then my own scare with possible breast cancer (but I will save that for another blog post) and more grief and loss and a few falls and one a bit more scary which required a hospital visit (check out the link here if you perhaps are not on Facebook or just missed it) and then more recently being there to 'hold space' for my sick and dying fur baby Jessie who was my baby because I am childless not by choice and all of this in the midst of bureaucracy and weeks of insomnia, I am grateful for so many things.

I could start a list and I will name a few - my loving and incredibly supportive husband Peter, a wonderful step-daughter Chase and her thoughtful boyfriend Dale, Jessie's surviving fur brother Jake who displays unconditional love (I think it is interesting that dog spelled backwards is God - a wonderful analogy of my Heavenly Father's love), my wonderful parents Bev and John Tough and I could go on and on and on.

There are a couple of blogs that I follow and Rory Feek's blog This Life I Live is one of them.  I have referred to Joey and Rory in my previous blogs and their family Heidi, Hopie and Indy.  Their story is a sad one, but Rory stated in his most recent post called Three Mothers 'I try to mostly write stories that are positive and filled with hope.'  Rory acknowledges that there is sadness and pain in our lives and it hurts and he openly shares his feelings and cries, too; but he wants to share that there is a message of hope, too.  This so resonates with me and that is exactly what I shared with my counsellor - yeah, life has been hard, but because of that, my testimony shines perhaps a little brighter.  I feel it.  Some days are still hard; I am still engaged in battle on a couple of fronts; but I have so much to be thankful for, not the least of which are those who 'hold space' for me.

Let me finish with this question for you all......what are you thankful for, this Mothers Day, Sunday, 14th of May in the year of 2017? 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Fond Memories of Jessie Our Furbaby Forever In Our Hearts

I will inevitably write more about our beautiful fur baby Jessie in the coming days and weeks, but here is a short paragraph below and a video that I created to remember her by.

As stated below, thanks to Bec and Steven Elphick and to Dr Mike Hinds from Centenary Vet Surgery and his great team.

Monday, March 20, 2017

An All Nighter

The sun is just beyond the horizon and the sky is starting to lighten up; I can see pinks in the midst of the cloudy sky.  That's right - a cloudy sky in the Sunshine State of Queensland on this, the 20th day of March, the start of our Autumn.

It was not my plan to pull an all nighter, but my insomnia had other ideas and I have been resistant to seek the assistance of artificial means, but alas, last night was the icing on the cake for me, so to speak.  I will take myself to the chemist today and get my script filled for the medicine the doctor prescribed for me some weeks ago now.

My first bout of insomnia back in January earlier this year did not last as long and whilst it was very frustrating, this round has beat it by far and last night, well, as I already mentioned, it was the worst and yeah, I have pulled an all nighter.  I cannot remember pulling an all nighter for a long, long time.  I am sure there were more recent times, but one memory that comes to mind was during my college days when I stayed over at a friend's who had moved into her own apartment and it was all fresh and new and exciting.  Yeah, we had the stamina for it back then and we went to school the next day, too.

Fortunately today I do not have to go to school or to work; but I will take a trip to the chemist as I already mentioned.  The past few weeks have proven interesting to say the least.  If you had the chance to read my blog post called "Elephants....Any In Your Room", or more specifically the video included within the blog post, you would be aware that I resigned from my job just before Christmas 2016.  My husband Peter and I decided my health was more important, so I have been recuperating at home to regain my mental wellness after what has been a very difficult couple of years.

In the course of my recovery I am doing a bit of reading and some writing (although not as much as I would like yet) and self discovery of what my next chapter(s) might look like; to dig deep and find what dreams I may have buried and one of the tools I am using is Wednesday's with Wendy.  I am very thankful for my incredibly supportive husband Peter and for friends, family and my life group from church who continue to offer love, prayers and encouragement along the way.

Along the journey of self discovery comes questions and reflection and I believe this is contributing to my insomnia.  I will not deny that some days are hard and challenging because there are other things happening, too, which I hope to be able to share with you soon, but I press on and I will keep pressing on until I find the answers.

Peter and I watched the movie "Miracles From Heaven" yesterday; yes, we watched it at the theatre when it was first released, but it was such a good 'true' story to see again and I am sure we will many more times in the future, too.  If you are like me, you might remember bits and pieces of a good movie or book or sermon, but there is value in reviewing what you watched, read or heard to help solidify the information or lesson.

Personally I find reviewing those valuable morsels of truth invaluable because sometimes the chapters we are going through feel like they are an all nighter, but the good news is, morning is coming!