Hope for a Difficult Christmas Season

This is from Dayspring by Rachel Wojo.

Hope for a Difficult
Christmas Season

by Rachel Wojo

Christmas carols fill the air; smiles and laughter are everywhere. A stroll through town reveals glistening windows boasting of tasty holiday treats and shiny red ribbon. Twinkling lights dance in unexpected places and bounce off sparkling trees.  Whether you appreciate lots of gold and glitter or simple candles, the blessing of our Lord’s birth is celebrated with expression!

While Christmas is full of joy and celebration, the world is not exempt from sorrow during this season. For many of us, our hurting hearts experience intensified ache as memories flood our minds. Perhaps the memory is of a loved one now in heaven. Maybe the memory haunts as part of a painful past; something we wish could be changed or undone. Pain not only exists from the past, but in the daily present. Discouragement doesn’t stop lurking. Disease doesn’t stop waging its war. Death doesn’t pause for a few days.

When Jesus was born, His parents didn’t plan a gender reveal party. No one ordered a baby shower cake. Oh, Mary, yes, as the mother, she prepared for the arrival of her baby. But a business trip for tax purposes was probably the last thing on her agenda. Riding a donkey most likely would have been her last wish in her ninth month of pregnancy. The point is: Jesus wasn’t born into ideal circumstances. Despite the stable which most of us would deem unsuitable accommodations, the Light of the World made His grand entrance in the form of a little baby. Human flesh held the Son of God and the glory of the night could not be contained. Angels sang their glory to God and hope, true Hope for the world was born!

Read the rest here.

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The Gift of Illness

This excellent article about a difficult subject is from the True Woman Blog at Revive Our Hearts.

The Gift of Illness

 

I’m not in a wheelchair. I’m not on chemo. I’ve ended up in the hospital only two times, for brief outpatient visits. To see me, you’d assume I’m the picture of perfect health. But underneath this strong exterior lies deep weakness.

I’ve been given the gift of chronic illness. And while I would love to reject such a gift, it has been my invitation into a thousand moments of grace—to feel where I was once numb, see where I was once blind, hear where I was once deaf. It’s been my merciful undoing and my gracious remaking.

You see, in my own strength, pain-free and healthy, I am Pride and Self-sufficiency and The Greatest People Pleaser. But here, in the throes of weakness, I am forced into postures of humility and dependency upon God. This brokenness has surfaced every cranky, weary, impatient, mean, insecure, fearful, shortsighted aspect of my character. So I cry out to Him.

And I find Him.

Read the rest here.

The LORD is Your Shade

 

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It has been a long, pain-filled summer for me. Thank you for bearing with me as I’ve been sharing some of my old posts with you, mostly by my very close friends and mentors, Pat Knight and Donna Baker. I did not want to completely leave the blogging world for several months, so being able to schedule those precious posts ahead of time really helped.

Thank you again, Pat and Donna, for allowing me to share your hearts with my readers. I love you both so much!

Today I have a new one for you that seems to fit in with how my summer went. 

…..

The LORD is Your Shade

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I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

—Psalm 121

Years ago, I moved from northern Vermont to Phoenix, Arizona. One of the first things I noticed about the Southwest is how people look for parking in any available shady spot, especially in the summer. There might be loads of open parking spaces near the entrance to a store or business, but if there is any kind of shade elsewhere in the parking lot, you can be sure those shady places are the first to be taken. And no wonder, given that average daytime Phoenix temperatures in the summer are at least 105 degrees.

Although most of us enjoy sunshine, consistent sunlight can damage all sorts of surfaces, including our skin, car finishes, and exterior paint. We are urged to use sunscreen on our skin; the color finish on newer cars includes a clear, sun-resistant top coat. As for the paint peeling off our homes, short of using aluminum siding, all we can do is scrape the peeling areas and repaint every few years.

Ten years ago today, we moved to the north country of Arizona, and as wonderful as the sun is, it still can take its toll up here. Temperatures are typically about 10 to 15 degrees cooler than Phoenix, but it still gets hot up here. And heat truly aggravates my chronic pain illnesses.

I love this Psalm, particularly verses 5 and 6. The Psalmist tells us that the LORD is our shade! Ponder that for a moment. Imagine standing in the middle of the desert with nothing around you for miles. The scorching sun is baking your weary body; you have barely enough energy to put one foot in front of the other. Suddenly the area where you’re standing is in the shade, but you cannot figure out why. You can see no trees or other shelter to provide shade but nevertheless you are being protected from the blazing sun.

This is how I picture God protecting us.

No matter what is happening to us each day that is causing us to feel down, if we look to the only One who matters, He is faithful to shelter us from the blazing heat that can sometimes characterize our lives. 

Beloved, let’s see if we can hang tight to that thought when we need it most! Our Heavenly Father can be our shade no matter how hot things get for us here on earth. We can close our eyes and picture His shade as we go through each trial in our lives, letting it fill us with the certain knowledge that only under the shade of our Father’s loving arms can we find protection and relief from the storms in our lives.

Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us enough to care about even the smallest details in our lives.

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WHITE SPACE


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Perfect Peace Sunflower

Every time I see sunflowers, I think of my forever friend, Marie. They are her fave! So today’s Bible passage and image is dedicated to my Marie. I love you!

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I love the New King James Version of Isaiah 26:3 because that is where I first read it and then memorized it:

You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

The way I think of the word stayed is to stay calm, which aligns beautifully with the phrase “perfect peace”!

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My Hair Hurts!

I couldn’t believe it when I found this image at A New Kind of Normal. Jamee lives with multiple chronic illnesses so she understands the sentiment in this image.

I can’t tell you how often I have said that my hair hurts, or have had to change clothes because seams and tags cause extreme itchiness and sometimes even pain. I have cut the tags out of most of my clothing and am thankful for the companies which are now imprinting clothing with the information in lieu of a tag.

These are just a couple of my symptoms of my Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) and Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS). Oh, and let’s not forget the chronic migraines that are liberally sprinkled in with everything else.

Next week is National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. Please check out the Invisible Disabilities site to find out more about what’s going on next week, or just to learn more about chronic illnesses that seem invisible to others but are very real to those of us who struggle with one or multiple of these illnesses every single day.

Apparently this flareup I’ve been going through has affected me more than I realized because I thought I had already composed this post and scheduled it for today but I had only started it, typing in only a few lines before laying it aside several weeks ago. But that’s the way my body works in these “new normal” days. As I type this, I am struggling for each word so I guess it’s time to stop typing and publish this.

Before I go, though, I want to keep it real by saying that throughout my many struggles with these chronic illnesses, I have many days where despair threatens to take over. Sometimes it does. But most times I can think clearly enough to remember that I have a Hope that doesn’t quit and never fails me:

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. —Isaiah 40:31

Beloved, no matter what you’re going through, hold on tight to that Hope! One day all pain and suffering will be erased for those who believe in the mighty and saving power of the Hope of the world: our Lord Jesus Christ! Those who trust in His saving grace will be able to live pain-free for eternity. The physical pain we feel now is nothing compared to the extreme joy we will experience in our heavenly homes.

To find out more about the saving power of Jesus Christ, please read this or contact me. I would be so happy to answer your questions!

In His powerful and comforting grip,