Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Invisible Illness, Visible God Available now!

I'm so excited to finally announce the release of Invisible Illness, Visible God! Here's a look at the first chapter:

Click to See Inside

"...like a daily balm for your weary soul reminding you that God is near in your journey...a must read." ~ Shelly Esser, Just Between Us Magazine

In Stock

Available here on Hope Is My Anchor, or from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

It's an honor and a privilege to walk side by side with my husband as he battles Lyme disease, and to see him continue on in faith, steadfast, persevering. His faith inspires me, and in his life I see Jesus every day.

Dave is the kind of man who would give all his energy and then some to help someone. He has a true shepherd's heart, and even when he is feeling his worst he can't help but ask how a visitor is doing or if he can do something to make my day easier.  Sadly his pastoral days were cut short, but I have always taken hope in Philippians 1:20:
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
Our lives are in God's hands, and Christ can be glorified in us no matter what that life looks like, when we keep looking to him.

Nearly one in two Americans have an invisible chronic illness, and nineteen million are disabled by one.  They have no cane or wheel chair to let others know that something is wrong. Caregivers struggle right along with them and wonder, “Is there hope?  Does God care about what we’re going through? What does God promise us?”

He does care, and there is hope. No matter what the shape of our lives, they have value and God can be glorified in us.  The most valuable thing in all of heaven, the blood of Christ, was given for us so that we could know him.  No illness or tragedy or unexpected life circumstance can change the value God has placed on us or the intimacy he seeks with us.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
~ Ephesians 1:18-19 

May you know him better and more dearly.  Merry :-)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Back Cover Sneak Peak: Invisible Illness, Visible God

Proof Copy
Invisible Illness, Visible God
I promised a sneak peak of the back cover of Invisible Illness, Visible God this week...here's a proof copy!

I'm honored to have endorsements from Shelly Esser, Author and Editor of Just Between Us Magazine and Steve Demme, Founder of Math-U-See and Building Faith Families.  Both of their ministries have been encouraging to me.

Okay, before you go dig out a magnifying glass...Here's the full text:

What would you give
to be able to see God?

Thirteen years ago the author’s husband Dave was disabled by an “invisible illness.” God, how will we live and raise our children? Don’t you care about what we’re going through? Dave was diagnosed with Lyme disease, but that wasn’t what changed their lives most.

Are you ready to find something more than just a lesson to learn from painful experiences? Are you ready to meet God in a deeper, more meaningful way?

“Chronic illness can be overwhelming, leaving you and your loved ones feeling helpless and hopeless. Invisible Illness, Visible God is a transparent collection of devotions from someone who has walked in your shoes. Out of her own experience, the author brings daily encouragement, helping you persevere in this difficult journey with hope. The book is like a daily balm for your weary soul reminding you that God is near in your journey—and that you are never alone. You will come away feeling like you were “lifted into Jesus’ arms” in the midst of your pain. This book is a must-read for those who suffer with chronic illness and for those who suffer along with them.”
~ Shelly Esser

“Jesus is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He meets us in the valleys of life, which are normal for His followers. I so appreciate believers who are real, like David throughout the Psalms, and the Marinello's in this precious book. Thank you for your courage and candor in facing the problems of life and finding the man of sorrows on your journey.”
~ Steve Demme

Thanks for taking a look; let me know what you think!

Available now:

In Stock

Thursday, April 18, 2013

God Sightings

Ever have something happen that just makes you realize God had his hand in things?  I don't know why that surprises me, but I confess it still does.  This week I had two things happen.

First, unbeknownst to me, the registration for my business fell down and landed in my recycle bin. It made it all the way to the curb, and then we had a big storm that left items strewn all over the neighborhood--we had a milk jug under the car, papers beyond the garage, cups in the flower beds...but the registration landed face up, neatly just to the side of the sidewalk as if God laid it there on purpose where I would see it.  "Hey, don't we need that?" my husband asked as he walked past.  (It's now dried and hung in a frame--we'll know if it falls again!)

Then, I got a call from a dear friend from the past--we exchange occasional emails but haven't talked since we worked together about fifteen years ago.

"Hi Merry!"
"Hi!"  (We're so "last century" and don't have caller ID, so I never know who's on the line...)
"It's ____!"

I wracked my brain, trying to think if there was someone from church by that name that I should know, but the only woman I could think of was my friend.  Her next words jolted me back to the conversation:

"You called me."
"I did?  I...don't think I did!"
"Your name is on my caller ID."
"Really?  I'm not sure I even have your number."  I started looking to see if I did, and if I could have somehow miss-dialed a number earlier.

We talked for a few minutes about my kids and her grandkids and hung up.  Later that day, she called again.  "No, REALLY.  Your name and number showed up on my caller ID, that's the only way I have your number.  I think this is a God thing and that I'm supposed to be praying for you.  What in the world is going on there?!"

Truth be told, we've had a crazy 6 weeks here.  My daughter and I both got sick, my husband had hives, the water heater broke, we flooded part of our downstairs and had to have the reclamation company come with fans for days (horrible smell & noise for my husband especially) and cut out part of the drywall (things are still torn up and we have stuff all over the living-room & garage), then I got sick again, then my husband was in the hospital overnight, then my daughter got sick again, plus trying to finish the book...So it has been a little chaotic here!

So, she and I had a dear conversation. She shared more about what's going on with her (no picnics there either with surgeries and wound management, but her church has been so encouraging and faithful in prayer and she feels blessed by them).  And she emphasized again that she would pray for us.

I was so happy she called and marveled for a few minutes.  But at the same time, fear set in.  God's never put my name on someone's caller ID before.  What could it mean?  Was something even worse about to happen after all that's been going on lately?  Why do we need prayer that badly?

Silly, faithless, untrusting thoughts. What made me jump to those conclusions instead of thinking maybe, just maybe, God wanted to lift my burden by sending her to call me and pray for me?  I'm still so prone to think the worst of God, and here he demonstrated his love for me, visibly, again.  Stop.  Bask in my love.  I'm here with you and just wanted to remind you of that again today.  

The beautiful thing about his second demonstration is that it wasn't accomplished alone.  He chose to work through my friend.  What if she hadn't called?  What if she had been busy and thought I'd call back later and eventually forgot?  What if the moment had passed?  No.  She saw, she responded, she felt it was important to call--not once but twice--so that I would really hear God through her. I didn't hear the first time, but the second...the second I heard the urgency mingled with love in her voice.

Stop.  Rest.  Bask.  Know me, he beckons to us.  That's a message God has laid on my heart throughout these years of Dave's illness and as I wrote Invisible Illness, Visible God.  He reveals himself.  She was faithful, and I saw God again.

When has God used you to reach out to someone and encourage them?  Or when have you seen God recently?  I'd love to hear your stories!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Invisible Illness,Visible God: coming in a couple of weeks!

I'm so excited!  The proofs for my book are being delivered Tuesday!  Lord willing, it will be released May 1st or sooner.

Invisible Illness,Visible God: 

When Pain Meets the Power of an Indestructible Life.

Read the Intro and first two devotions.

My husband Dave has been disabled by an “Invisible” Illness for 13 years now (he was eventually diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease). In fact, I find it staggering that nearly one in two Americans has some kind of invisible illness—something they deal with on a daily basis that others can’t really see, whether it’s cancer, asthma, learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, chemical sensitivities, or any number of other conditions.

Sometimes a diagnosis comes quickly, and other times we can search for years, trying to find out what’s wrong with ourselves or a loved one.  Either way, the answers can come as a crushing shock. One day our world comes to a screeching halt—but the rest of the world continues on, largely oblivious.

In some ways, many more of us have an “invisible illness.”  Not all hurts come with a diagnosis.  Anyone who has lived with the pain of broken dreams, unmet expectations, the death of a loved one, regrets, fears, worries—has lived with a private pain that the world just can’t see.

But God sees. God understands. God cares. And Jesus continually intercedes and acts on our behalf with power.  He is
…one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life…
~ Hebrews 7:16
When I first read this, I was blown away because I realized that since Jesus is in me, then this power of an indestructible life is in me, and I could rest in that power. Something more powerful than my emotions, a peace that passes understanding! And since we are in Christ—this peace is a sure refuge.

We are not powerless. 

Jesus is our priest on the basis of the power of an indestructible life—an immense power to overcome immense pain. On our own we drum up despair, depression, thoughts of death—and he comes to save us with life-giving power. God offers us the ability to walk through the flames and come out more beautiful. God enables us to choose life over death, and to choose love over bitterness. We are weak, but his power rescues us. He is the better hope by which we draw near to God.

Often we want the physical miracle, the visible one—and sometimes instead he makes himself and his love visible to us. Pain meets the Power of an Indestructible Life, full on, face to face—and God calls us to fix our eyes on him.

The power of an indestructible life

His love endures forever—Psalm 107:1
His faithfulness reaches to the skies—Psalm 108:4
His righteousness endures forever—Psalm 111:3
His salvation lasts forever—Isaiah 51:6
His covenant is everlasting—Ezekiel 37:26
He betroths us to him forever—Hosea 2:19
He puts his Name on us forever—1 Kings 9:3
His sanctuary is among us forever—Ezekiel 37:26
He lives with us forever—2 John 2
He will swallow up death forever—Isaiah 25:8
He reigns forever—Psalm 9:7
He gives us his Holy Spirit forever—John 14:16
His word stands forever—1 Peter 1:25
He remembers his covenant forever—Psalm 111:5
He is a priest forever, he has sworn!—Hebrews 7:21
Downloadable Bookmark:
The Power of an Indestructible Life
Imagine—Jesus never, ever stops interceding for you, his beloved, his delight.  He uses the greatest, most extraordinary power that exists on our behalf, to be our priest, our intercessor, our guarantee, our hope. He could condemn us and instead betroths us and unites us with him.

Indestructible life.  Forever.  That is the surety, the rock, of his covenant with us.
His mighty power encouraged me in my darkest days, and I pray that you also will draw strength from his power.

Look for my book around May 1st!

Later this week, I'll post a "sneak peek" of the back cover. And in the meantime, enjoy this bookmark on The Power of an Indestructible Life.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Guilty? or Loved?

When your past sins come to mind, how do you feel?  I for one tend to use past sins as bludgeon to my soul.  Sure, God has grace and mercy on us, he forgives us, I may think.  But he doesn’t really like me.  He just kind of tolerates me.

Have you ever had similar thoughts?

Over time, these kinds of lies can make us feel closed off from the Lord.  We see his Light as though through a window, and those windows become smaller and smaller...it’s not much fun trying to be in a relationship with someone who merely tolerates us.  Sometimes bitterness and resentment creep in as well. 

Enough of God’s love may creep in to make us want to keep trying.  Maybe someday I won’t be such a screw-up.  Maybe if I’m a better person, God will like me more…

Is this why God shows us our sin—so we can beat ourselves up and pound any possibility of joy out of our faith?

No.  He shows us because he has gone to great lengths to rescue us. He is constantly seeking a relationship with us. He shows us only to shower us with mercy, that we can come into his presence and truly know him.

God urges us to restore others gently if they are caught in sin (Galatians 6:1-2). To carry each other’s burdens. Sometimes we are not very gentle in how we approach each other, and may lack the Father’s tenderness and love. But he urges us to do this—because this is what he does for us. That the God of the universe, holy, glorious, mighty, powerful creator—would look to our lives and make any comment at all is astounding. That he does in the context of being our creator, of informing us how we may safely come into his presence, of foolishly and painfully demeaning himself in order to save us—shows the depth of his love and care for us.  He doesn’t merely tolerate.  He seeks us.  He longs for us.

The next time your previous sin is brought to mind—don’t reflect on your own inadequacy or wallow in your guilt.  Remember that as a time when Jesus lovingly met you at the foot of the cross and reminded you that he gave all of himself for you. Think of it as a sweet moment when he lured your heart back to his, when he extended his hand to walk with you or his arms to carry you, and you recommitted to walking with him. Let your heart be filled with thankfulness at the warmth of his love, with joy that he rejoices over you.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Clay Pots

"Clay pots were meant to be broken, so that the contents inside could be revealed."

My friend's words startled me in a profound way.  I don't know why, but sometimes I don't expect to hear something new when I come to the Word.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
~2 Corinthians 4:6-7 

I often relate to our weakness in these verses, compared to his glory, power, strength, and beauty.  Our lives, the ordinary pot; his life, the extraordinary one--and the two come together and give us honor and value.  When I think on our brokenness, I do see that God is glorified then.  But the picture was so clear when she said it--we are reminded once again that the broken shards of our lives are not mistakes.  Everything is useful.

When our brokenness seems useless or unbearable, he reminds us again that nothing--even such sacrifices as these--will ever go to waste.  Beautiful contents such as love, hope, kindness, and humility spring forth from our brokenness.  He may use our brokenness to soften our hearts in compassion towards others--or may lead others to learn compassion and love through our pain.

Of course, we have some choice in the matter.  We can carry around bitterness, anger, despair, and blackness inside.  Or...we can share honestly when these are part of our pain, allow the light of Christ to touch, to walk alongside, to carry, and eventually to heal.  And along the way, our brokenness reveals his glory.  A power not from within us--we don't merely pull ourselves up by our bootstraps to overcome these very natural human emotions.  We lay them at his feet, these broken shards that have wounded our spirits.  The life that we cannot fix or put back together is not wasted, is not useless, if we submit it to our tender Lord who knows more intimately than anyone else the pain of injustice, mockery, forsakenness.  He was broken for us to reveal the incomparable riches of God's mercy and love toward us.  And we in our brokenness can continue to reveal him.  For he truly can bring beauty and healing out of broken lives.