Deb’s Journey…

August 31, 2009

God’s great and very precious promises…

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I grew up in a small country church where the old hymns were sung and one of them was “Standing on the Promises of God” by Kelso Carter. Verse 2 says:

“Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.”

During these rocky days where I feel ravaged by the storms and often nothing feels stable without or within…it’s been such a great reminder that God has given some promises written in divine blood that I can put my full weight down on…for He is true to His word. Yes they are “very great and precious!.”

As taken from the Indeed daily devotional 8/10/09 – 9/1/09…

A few of God’s very great and precious promises that He has given us…(2 Peter 1:4)

Promised Deliverance - “…whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Promised Forgiveness – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Promised Escape – “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Promised Prompting- “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13)

Promised Guidance – “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6)

Promised Protection – “ If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you.” (Psalm 91:9-10)

Promised Provision – “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33)

Promised Goodness – “No good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless” (Psalm 84:11)

Promised Satisfaction – “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

Promised Purpose – “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)

Promised Destiny – “I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Promised Answers – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9)

Promised Fruit – “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (John 15:7)

Promised Presence – “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Promised Transformation – “We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Promised Heaven – “We know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)

I love that this list ends with Heaven…the author says, “We often forget to live in this world with an eye on eternity, but tragedy…reminds us to look ahead…the groaning will stop. Your life should be anchored in future hope…unless you have your heart set on heaven, the trials and tribulations will become unbearable…the Spirit guarantees what is to come. Eternity changes everything.”

August 28, 2009

I get by with a little help from my friends…

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A dear friend has shared with me what perhaps many others have felt, but haven’t given voice to…”Deb, right now you are kind of a ’scary’ person to others…”

Funny that.

Somehow, it makes me suddenly realize how very courageous and kind a few dear souls have been to reach out anyway even if they are afraid.

They have not only honored Tom & I but also honored Ian’s memory by carrying his life values forward.   Wow,  sorry to have been blind to that…but please know how deeply grateful I am for the step of faith they have taken in offering courage and kindness during this season.

Grief can get me so wrapped up in myself that I cannot many times see beyond that to others…how they might feel or think,  or what they might need…

It’s true that no one can understand “exactly” how I feel…even those dear mothers who have walked a similar path with their precious children.  I cannot know “exactly how they feel” either.   Each life and each journey is unique to the individual traveler.

Still,  there is common ground…this world is a broken and difficult place to journey - each traveler knows that full well.  Though we recognize there are varying degrees of darkness we have all known some level of darkness. We have all known the uncertainty and fear that can come during a long night before the dawn.

We have all or will all know the heartache of loss…loss of plans and dreams…loss of dear ones or roles that we loved…seasons end.

We have all known the difficulty of transition…the struggle to understand the new “school year” or “work place” or life season.

We have all at one time or another come to the end of our own strength and had a need beyond ourselves…where we were forced to cry out for help…these places of brokenness are painful, but they are also places where God meets us in the most honest and loving ways.  This is how the spiritual journey starts and how it moves through the years.

Surely there is a level of common ground here…a place of understanding,  a meeting of minds and hearts?  Surely our “stories” should unite us - right?

Why then is there not a bridge between us? Where does the wall still exist?

So I must ask…have others built the wall or have I?

This same dear friend has also shared with me that I have placed too many rules on others about how they “may and may not interact” with me…

I must acknowledge this to be true – in a spirit of truly trying to help others, but also honestly in a self-protective way…especially with regard to those “would be teachers” who lack compassion but arrogantly tell me what to do, how to think and how to feel which only tends to make me angry as it feels rather condescending to me– rather like they think I’m stupid or something…maybe like they think I’m blind or stubborn or …God forbid - BOTH….oh dear…

I love Dr. James MacDonald and recently he said “the deadly character combo is blindness coupled with stubbornness.” He recommended asking a few folks who know us well to tell us the truth about ourselves (hopefully lovingly) and then “count to a million outloud before responding to their answer.” :)

I’ll admit that these “twins” do indeed lurk in the corridors of my character…though I’m not proud of that fact. I’ll admit also that graciously receiving less than obvious “blessings” is not one of my strong suits…though that also is not something I publish on my resume.

So here’s hoping that because of truth spoken…grace will grow and that love & acceptance will abound.

To that end, please know, it’s ok to share your stories with me…I want to honor that.  I would however continue to ask that “graphic” details be eliminated as I’m honestly not able to handle those.  But your stories of how God has met you, provided and been present in the midst of your life’s trials…oh there is great beauty and power in that…tell away.

I want to say thanks especially for my dear friend who bravely spoke love into my life yesterday.  I did hear you and I’m taking it to heart…

Also thank you to those other brave few who have dared to spend time with me of late…thanks for your patience with me on this journey…you are a blessing!


August 27, 2009

Thanks for your ongoing H-E-L-P!

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I’ve been surprised by the responses to the last post.  As I sit here in the quiet of this room, it’s easy to think I am alone…Thank you for your many and gracious responses to what really amounted to  a “rain storm”.

Everyone needs a safe place to “rain” and all storms do eventually pass.  Usually with the light of a new day…

Thanks for understanding that putting on your raincoat and walking with me in the rain is sometimes all that is necessary…I never intend for others to get wet in my rain but I guess that means I should warn folks of the storm brewing so they can take proper precautions…

I’ve been thinking of an acronym for  H-E-L-P….

Hospitable - an honest invitation…

Encouraging - a kind word…

Loving - devoted gentleness…

Praying - lifting the matter before the King…

How dear…you’ve been so h-e-l-p ful…how sad that my rainstorm got those wet as far away as Italy, Florida, Michigan and Iowa along with those nearby…how beautiful that you graciously reached out to care even across the miles…I guess it’s true that it’s a small world - thanks for bridging the gap!

Love & Hugs to you all -


August 25, 2009

“There’s nothing to do…what’s there to eat?”

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Albert Einstein once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.


I’m not exactly sure where this crazy cycle started for me but a “chicken & egg” discussion isn’t really necessary here…the main thing is that this cycle must somehow be broken before I weigh a 1000 pounds and I’m thinking I must start with the loneliness/ boredom piece…

There must be someone for me to talk with that I don’t have to pay or something meaningful to DO other than moving on to the “eating” phase…

Yesterday I decided to tackle the “doing” and I cleaned the windows and screens in the upstairs, did the laundry, ran the vacuum on two levels of my home including the stairs in-between, made dinner and showered…in between times I checked e-mail, this blog and the caring bridge about 100 times literally (I was thankful for two e-mails yesterday), I also  listened to music and a couple of sound biblical teachers… the phone remained silent except for the telemarketers and I wasn’t even rude to them…I let them talk and then thanked them politely for calling.

Yesterday was unique because Tom’s  small group met last night…and he mowed the lawn during most of the 90 minutes he was home between work and his study…those days and the days following are long for me (not that they are a piece of cake for Tom either) because typically the only conversation I have each day is with Tom (which is also not exactly a piece of cake for Tom :)

Growing up a “middle child” I was constantly surrounded by someone…though they were boys,  so relating to females isn’t always my specialty either.  My girl friends have their children still home for the summer…so unless I can bring myself to spend time with children, which I’m frankly not ready to do or unless they can get a sitter…daytime gatherings aren’t possible right now… Over the years I have learned to function ok for many hours by myself…but not for days on end.

Tom on the other hand grew up a relative “only” child in that his nearest in age sibling is 12 years his senior…so he loves and even craves time alone…so this time is proving a challenge for him also…

Probably the solution is a job for me during daytime hours…I’ve looked, but have not found…yet.  But it’s a prayer concern for our overall well being…

Thanks for your prayers and for checking in…

On the Caring Bridge I could tell if people checked because the number in the corner went up…but on this I have no way of knowing if you were here unless you write… - thanks!

August 20, 2009

Eternal views are healing

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Ok I’m feeling pretty proud of myself as I’m just getting home from the first funeral I’ve attended since Ian’s passing…and it was held in the same sanctuary…

A dear 81 year old man of great faith in the Lord who finished well and left an amazing legacy…what a lovely celebration of his life here on this earth and a wonderful glimpse of eternal life!

I am frankly surprised by how uplifting it was for my heart…words of hope and words of true Life are essential!  Somehow the immediate time following Ian’s passing was so honestly full of that and I needed the reminder as I’ve gotten too far away from eternal thoughts and have focused too much futile painful thought on the temporal.

Precious is the death of the Lord’s saints.  What a foreign concept sometimes…and yet the peace that I felt following Ian’s passing was so tangible…and the further away from that glimpse of eternity I get the more I ache…

Lord, please keep my eyes on the prize of Home…and on Jesus who is the Way…the Truth and the Life!

August 19, 2009

H-E-A-L ing people - what a blessing they are!

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Grief is a pretty self-centered thing.  I keep feeling guilty about that, but can’t deny the truth of it.  It’s like if you just had a leg cut off or something…it’s pretty hard to think about anything else.  So here at the six month anniversary of Ian’s passing…on this rainy day I’m wrestling through thoughts of what do I  need now?…The bleeding has stopped for the most part, but somehow I’m probably always going to walk with a limp and I find myself being very careful around other people…

I’ve been really blessed with a few really great friends who have walked gently with me.  I’m praying for more safe,  “healing people” in my life…H-E-A-L stands for “here, empathetic, accepting and listening”

Here… for me when I need you - understanding that sometimes I still just need to be alone to rest.  Willing to be with me and to make time for me.  Able to understand and know that your presence is one of the greatest gifts you can give.

Empathetic…No one else can truly understand “exactly” what I’m feeling.  But people with empathy will do their best to care about my pain.  They will recognize that there are some similarities they can understand like what it’s like to lay down a dream or what it’s like to have your “role” change or struggle though a transition time…

Accepting…You won’t judge me or try to change me or tell me how I should think or what I should do or feel.  You don’t make me pretend to see things your way, you  just let me be how I am and feel how I feel right now understanding that I may change and feel totally different an hour from now…which is ok with you too.

Listening…You really focus on what I have to say.  You let me share my feelings if I want to even if I tend to repeat myself while I process the craziness that is my life and you know how important that is…not only do you permit me to share - I can trust you to hold my heart carefully and keep what I say to yourself.

Wow that’s quite the job description isn’t it?  I found these ideas in a book by Kenneth Haugk called “Finding Hope and Healing”.  Don’t we ALL need somebody like that in our lives?

I’ve been unable to really enter into other people’s lives except in prayer…I feel guilty for that…sometimes I just don’t have the strength and sometimes I think I’m just afraid…but as I continue to re-gain strength I hope that I can have the courage to  BE  a h-e-a-ling friend…

August 17, 2009

“Everything Sad is Coming Untrue”

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Loved the Jason Gray concert…LOVE the new album “Everything Sad is Coming Untrue”

My “favorite” song on the album changes daily…but TODAY my favorite song is:

Holding the Key - by Jason Gray

“I came here tonight with a mission to confess what I’m trying to hide but here in the hour of decision I’d rather give you the ‘company line’

There are secrets I don’t want to tell you and wounds you might not want to see but they keep me bound to my sorrow and I really want to be free - and you’re the one holding the key

You don’t have to give me an answer - an answer’s the last thing I need.  There’s no ‘magical cure’ for this cancer I just need you to listen to me - cause you’re the one holding the key

We were made with these hearts meant to be open then we locked them away afraid of being broken but we’re given each other to set them free and you’re the one holding the key

This dark room is perfect for hiding but I don’t want to hide anymore.  You can’t force the light here inside it, but you can help me open the door - you’re the one holding the key

The key to the truth of what’s really going on - your listening ear is the grace of God!  Love will take the shackles off - but you’re the one holding the key

We all need it sooner or later - a safe place for telling the truth …I’m happy returning the favor - cause I’m holding the key for you…”

August 11, 2009

Jason Gray…what a “Lovely Loser”!

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If you’ve been reading the bridge ( you already know…but I have got it bad right now for this Jason Gray guy…he lifts my eyes to the Lord and reminds me there is hope. His honest words have so captured me…talented and winsome …well, I can’t even tell you-  you have to see for yourself….

He’s on You-tube….watch the whole thing, or you’ll miss out…

Also he’s playing live on Friday night:

Jason Gray in Concert (with Elizabeth Hunnicutt & Randall Goodgame)
Friday, August 14th, 2009 @ 7:00 pm
Bloomington Living Hope Lutheran Church
9350 Portland Ave. S
Bloomington, MN  55420
It’s not too late…ask your friends to join you….
Cost is $12.00 in advance -  tickets can still be purchased early by by calling (952) 888-2475. Otherwise:  $15.00 at the door.
Maybe Tom & I will see you there…

August 7, 2009

Learning to listen to my Father…

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Ever hear your dad’s voice in your head?

My dad died over 10 years ago, but so often I still “hear his voice”….

Driving Instructions:
“The roads will be slick for the first 15 minutes after it starts raining.”
“Watch the bridges and off-ramps especially – they will freeze first”
“It doesn’t cost any more to keep the top half of your gas tank full!”

Dad wasn’t given to bursts of affection or high praise…but I vividly recall a few precious “I’m proud of you” and “I love you” moments…

All too often though it’s the ugly things that stick in my head…
“It’s too bad they didn’t have one that fit you!”
“Well, if you’ve got a barn…paint it red!”

But lately the one that I can’t seem to remove with a crowbar is:
“You’re stupid and you’ll never amount to anything!”

Now you have to understand that if someone had said that to him, he would have done anything to prove them wrong…that was something that would have “motivated” him…so his reason for saying it was not as cruel as perhaps it sounds…

Somehow though to a little girl’s spirit it felt anything but motivating and the enemy of my heart loves to throw it at me when I feel defeated…like I do so often during dark days of grief…

So…I’m doing my best to combat this with truth…wonderful things my Heavenly Father says about me…oh to hear His sweet voice speak these words…

1st Corinthians 6:20, God says that I have been bought with a price and that I belong to Almighty God.

Ephesians 1:5 says I have been adopted as God’s child.

Colossians 2:13 says I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.

Romans 8:1 says there is no condemnation to me because I am in Christ.

Romans 8:28 says I can be assured that “all things work together” for my good.

Romans 8:38 says I cannot be separated from the love of God.

Philippians 3:20 says I am citizen of heaven.

Hebrews 4:16 says I can find grace and mercy in my time of need.

Matthew 5:13-14, Jesus says I am the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world”.

1st Corinthians 3:16 says I am God’s “temple.”

Ephesians 2:10 says I am God’s “workmanship”.

Philippians 4:13 says that today, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Wow – maybe I do “amount to something” after all? I’m such a human “doing” sometimes that I think my “resume” defines me…when will I truly learn that my looks, …my identity-in fact the very “fingerprints” of my life and every breath has been given by my heavenly Father apart from anything I have done or ever will do?

Guess I have to learn to listen to Him…and believe what He tells me is absolutely true…that shouldn’t be so hard…right? :)

August 6, 2009

Prayers for “Life”

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So I sat down at the computer a little while ago and opened this e-mail…

Life Prayers by Connie Willems ( Editor of Discipleship Journal)
“Last week God opened a new window on what He and I can do together… God reminded me that He is life.
As in, “I am the way, the truth and the life…” (Jn. 14:6) “I have come that they may have life” (Jn. 10:10) and “The God that Abraham believed in gives life to the dead…also speaks of things that do not exist as if they do exist.” (Ro. 4:17)

Then He invited me to join Him in the business of bringing life.  “In any situation where there is ‘death’,” He said, “You get to pray and ask me to bring life.”

Whoa. That’s a prayer focus that had never occurred to me… it doesn’t occur to me to notice where elements of death are at work in a situation—they’re like background noise. But God’s invitation has nudged me to look at situations from a death-and-life viewpoint.

Sometimes it’s obvious where life is needed, as when a friend is grappling with cancer. In other situations, I’ve had to look a little harder…I ask “Is there an element of death here?”…maybe through an attitude, an emotion, a way of thinking, or a practice?

I’ve sent up little prayers, “Father, would you bring life here?” Looking around and realizing, “I get to ask God to bring life,” has been fun—mostly.

You see, this prayer has had an unexpected consequence: It’s revealed that I’m not always eager for God to answer it. How can that be?! I’ve tasted life and know how wonderful it is; why wouldn’t I want that touch on everything around me? Truth is, I don’t.

In one situation, I’ve gotten used to the dynamics; I can navigate them just fine. If that situation were brimming with life, I’d have to grapple with the change. In another situation, I’ve been chagrinned to find myself thinking, “Why bring life and let them off the hook? They made their bed; they can lie in it.”

Oh me of small heart and small faith. Also apparently, even smaller vision for what God might want to do and even smaller reverence for His sovereignty!  All He’s invited me to do is ask for His life. I don’t remember Him asking me to determine when and how He should bring it.

So I ask for forgiveness for my small heart, and continue praying my new prayer, that the King of Life will bring His “Midas” touch those around me.”


Wow…this hit me hard…

For one thing it was a great reminder that in God “life” follows death…in fact death is necessary in order for true life to actually  happen - what hope that brings!

For another thing it seems like daily I’m hearing from someone who is walking through a dark place and my heart breaks for them. I have compassion, empathy even…but so often I feel powerless  in wanting to help, but not knowing how.

This has been a good reminder that I can partner with God in asking the One who is life, to “breathe” His life into their situation.

I’m such a “detail” person and as I’ve previously confessed, a “control freak”.   I sometimes worry something will be missed…I give careful instructions…” don’t forget this and this”…

How good that I can fully trust Him with all the details…He won’t forget…or miss something…how GREAT is that?!

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