This month’s post differs from my normal blogs. I chose to write a short book review on the newly released Soul Care When You’re Grieving by Edie Mahoney Melson. This third book in the Soul Care series helps through not only the loss of a loved one, but losses of something of personal value, of a job loss, a relationship, or anything of worth to someone. Melson leads the reader through processing grief beyond just words on a page. She includes the reader in interactive exercises, assisting each closer to personal healing.
To quote her, “I’ve learned—-through experiences I wouldn’t have chosen—that joy comes. But it arrives when we don’t expect it. The key to embracing a new attitude is not to squash the joy when it appears. Accept it. Enjoy it! And don’t give into the guilt that hovers in the background. Joy will come more and more often as you travel further away from the furnace and into a new rhythm of life.” (p. 154)
I urge you to purchase not only a copy for yourself, but several as gifts for others as well. It’s available now from Amazon, Bookbub, Christian Book Distributors and Barnes and Noble.
Edie Melson is an author, blogger, and speaker around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply those to life.
Proverbs 25:4 NASB
4 Take away the impurities from the silver,
And there comes out a vessel for the smith;
Sometimes I imagine myself as if in a washer, tumbling this way and that. And “click,” the spinning of my circumstances pins me to the sideline as I watch my life pass by me.
“Slosh, slosh, slosh, slosh. Click. Pause. WHIRRRRRRRR.” The washer spins until, “Click,” and I drop to the bottom. I feel different than I did before entering the machine. My heart weighs less because the worries and cares attached there rinsed away. My spirit shines brighter, because the grime of resentment and bitterness slid down the drain during the pressure. I leave the appliance cleaner and lighter, ready for serving the Master as needed.
The hotter the fire the more impurities in the silver rise to the top and removed. Then the silversmith takes it and shapes it into a worthy, useful vessel. So too, the more pressure in our lives, the more ungodliness in our hearts burns away, leaving us a tool for the Lord’s purposes.
Father, Creator of all, make me into one through whom you may touch the lives of others. For your glory and in the name of Jesus, amen.
Woohoo! Mash and Smash Again!
“14 But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’
15 My times are in Your hand’….” Psalm 31:14-15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
“The results of your mammogram were inconclusive.” Traci nearly always receives this letter, and nothing is found. I returned for another mash and smash session that afternoon. On the black and gray screen, shining bright and white was an M&M sized dot.
A biopsy and three days later my family doctor and friend called to confirm what God had placed on my heart. That bright, white dot was breast cancer. April 2010 was the beginning of another, life-long adventure with my Savior.
No matter where this journey carried me or where it ended my Savior promised me that my times are in His hand. I likened it to being in labor with my first child. I experienced nervousness that I might behave so as not to honor Jesus. I also thrilled that ultimately at the end of this time I would receive one of God’s greatest blessings!
Held in His hand on this new path through mountain tops and valleys, the blessings poured into my life. Deepened relationships. New friends and acquaintances. New experiences.
Thank you, Lord, for the mashes and smashes of life. Thank you that blessings also enter our lives when troubles and hardships come. Thank you we can rest in you because our times are in Your hands. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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The kid dove for cover inside a corner of the remaining shell of the bombed out building. Bullets whizzed past him, bombs falling one after another from the smoke-filled sky. The twenty-year-old man-boy trembled with fear. A grenade rolled into the room and his buddy jumped on it before it exploded, dying to save his fellow soldiers. Then calm descended amid the stench of burning flesh, and the acrid smell of explosives. The thunderous sounds were replaced with cries for help, moans of pain, and ear-piercing screams.
A woman hobbled into the building, flailing her arms, wailing, grasping the kid by the arm, and begging in rapid German, but repeating, “Come! Come!” Sweeping together his pack he followed her into a nearby smouldering building and she pointed to a body in a puddle of blood, knees drawn, rolling side to side, and sobbing. The kid rolled the form to face him, gasped, and terror paralysed his thinking. Shrapnel pierced her womb and he understood her baby was coming.
He was an army medic, trained to treat the wounded of the war, but he knew nothing about delivering a baby. Recovering from his surprise he communicated using sign language, broken English and broken German with the other woman asking her to find the local nuns to assist him. His medical trained mind returned and he proceeded with saving both the mother and her unborn child. The nuns arrived and attended to delivering the baby. The kid focused on removing the shrapnel, stopping the bleeding, preventing infection and saving the mother’s life. Both mother and child survived.
This is one story of many of my daddy’s life serving in the United States Army, marching across Europe during World War II. He saved the lives of both Allies and enemies. He held the dying, comforted them, and wept for them. His unit in the 409th Battalion under Patton also freed the prisoners from a Nazi prison camp at the end of the war. This is a simple snapshot of my favorite military hero. I’m proud to be the daughter of Ralph Stuart Kaney, an American hero.
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We are not alone
Some of us living with depression slip into believing the lies we are alone, no one cares, and the world would better if we died. Some of you heard this favorite lie, “It’s a sin to be depressed.” The truth is we are not alone, we are loved, and our lives have purpose. It is not a sin to have an illness. Remember George in the movie It’s A Wonderful Life? He believed the lies and the angel showed him how worse life would be for those he loved if he died. Our lives have purpose for good. We are unique works of art crafted by the greatest of all creators, God.
Depression leading cause of disability
I scanned several recent health documents on the subject of depression and I learned some amazing facts. According to the World Health Organization there is an estimated 350 million individuals with some form of depression and it is the leading cause of disability worldwide.1 Nope. Not alone. Recognize any of these names: Beyoncé, Terry Bradshaw, Drew Carey, Harrison Ford, Angelina Jolie, Lady Gaga, Dolly Parton, Brad Pitt, Mike Tyson, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon? Yep. They all live or lived with depression. They reached out for help. They lead successful lives with their unique talents and personalities.2
Depression is a treatable illness.
Find a doctor you trust. The majority of us living with depression will enter into remission with proper treatment. Medications help the body heal and cope. Diabetics depend on medication. Those with crippling arthritis live functional lives on medication. There is a medication or a combination of medications if necessary to bring balance to the chemicals in our brains to assist us to live our lives to our fullest potential. There are almost more medicines for treating depression than we can count.
Take the first step
There are counselors who will help you learn life skills to deal with the issues that cause you pain. Go to your doctor, your pastor, your most trusted friend, the county mental health department where you live or family member. If the first attempt at reaching out is brushed aside, go tell someone else. But take the first step. Seek help. You are more valuable than all the precious metals or jewels in the world. You are the only one of you there is and you are loved.
Last fall I heard on the news of a college sophomore who died after he jumped off a building because he had lost all hope. He felt his life too painful to live. He felt there was no one he could tell. I wept for him as if he had been my child. I wept for his parents who loved him. I wept for his friends who didn’t see his pain. I wept for me because maybe my story may have helped him. In my next column I will start at the beginning of my story of my living with depression.
1 WHO, October, 2015, Depression Fact Sheet
2 Wikipedia contributors, “List of people with major depressive disorder,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_people_with_major_depressive_disorder&oldid=708650078 (Revised March 6, 2016).
Have you found yourself snickering at a toddler’s mispronunciation of a word or phrase? Rather than tell me she had an ear infection my granddaughter said, “Mimi, I got a ear confection.” My grandson gave the scripture reference on obedience to parents as “E-cheese-uns 6:1.” Then he chanted, “Chew-ren, obay yo pare-wents in da Lawd fa dis is wite. Dis is da fust commanant wif uh pro mus, so it will be gud fa yo.”
This started me thinking about my relationship with Christ. When I gave my life to God and asked Christ to live in my heart and reign as Lord, I became His child. “Child” and “children” are mentioned approximately 2000 times in the Bible. When I read that statistic I felt a nudge to examine my obedience and define what that entailed. The apostle Paul recorded this over 2000 years ago for us.
Romans 8:14-17 (VOICE)
14 If the Spirit of God is leading you, then take comfort in knowing you are His children. 15 You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God’s own family. That’s why we call out to Him, “Abba! Father!” as we would address a loving daddy. 16 Through that prayer, God’s Spirit confirms in our spirits that we are His children. 17 If we are God’s children, that means we are His heirs along with the Anointed, set to inherit everything that is His. If we share His sufferings, we know that we will ultimately share in His glory.
When asked what commandments were the greatest Jesus focused on love. God is love.
Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT)
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
I experienced a sense of wonder. I share an inheritance with Christ as his sibling. Love encompasses all the commandments for a child obeying the Father. He said he loved God first with all he was and he loved others more than he loved himself. He spoke it and he demonstrated it. Even though equal to God he chose obedience to God, even to dying on a cross.
Philippians 2:8 (NASB)
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Embracing the truth God is the Father of Christ and me, I reflected on the commandments Christ gave. As a child of God I obey by loving my Heavenly Father first and loving others as he loves me.
Ephesians 6:1-3 (NLT)
Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do… This is the first commandment with a promise: 3 If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you….”
(Insert your name), obey God. Love God. Love others. This is right. Loving is good for me.
The Voice (VOICE)
The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
New Living Translation (NLT). Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Pre-surgery for broken arm
Vera before the Princess and Daddy Ball
Ashley and Tabitha circa 1982
Butterfly hitching a bicycle ride
Record of spending time with my friend, Sam B. Colt.
Even 1565 tastes better when shared with Jesus
Sweet reminders of grands: Butterfly stickers on the granite counter top
Storms rage around us in many forms, but God never leaves us. He is in the boat of life with us. Over my lifetime situations arose in which others attacked me with with a barrage of verbal hailstones. My heart felt ripped in half, so painful I thought I heard it like the sound of fabric torn apart. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. Untrue.
Hammer a nail into an heirloom table, then pull the nail out. The hole remains. Fill it with putty. Sand it Stain it. The table continues to bear the evidence of damage.
Careless, angry, demeaning words wound the hearts of those targeted. The invisible daggers and arrows leave injuries of excruciating pain and after healing ugly scars remain. As an amputee will not grow a new limb, the damage caused to an injured heart will not disappear.
But God heals. One of his names is Yahweh Rophe. The Lord Who Heals. God heals the broken-hearted. He’s able. Praise him and thank him for his great love for us. Praise him for his healing and renewing our strength.
Isaiah 40:31 (VOICE)
But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength.
They will soar on wings as eagles.
They will run—never winded, never weary.
They will walk—never tired, never faint.
He lifts us up from the ashes of a burned out life. He wipes the tears from our faces. He heals the wounds. He replaces the hurtful lies with truth. He affirms his love for us. He shapes us closer into a perfect reflection of his image. He fills our hearts with joy.
Psalms 30:5b (VOICE)
The deepest pains may linger through the night,
but joy greets the soul with the smile of morning.
The Voice (VOICE) The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.