Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Around the Table Giveaway: Invisible Illness, Visible God

Sharon Fleming, author of Around the Table, posted her review of my book today, AND...she's giving away a copy! Check it out (and you might find a tasty recipe or fun way to get yoru family together around the table when you visit her site!)

Around the Table Book: Invisible Illness, Visible God:

Sharon writes,  "She doesn't give cliché answers to deep faith questions, instead she honestly shares her frustrations, doubts, and lessons she is learning. Merry's transparency as she talks about her struggles and faith, and her courage to tackle hard questions like, "How can I love One who makes me bitter?" are an encouragement to all who have ever doubted God in the midst of trials."

Read more.

And let me know if you win!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Prescription Med Assistance

NeedyMeds has all kinds of info about patient assistance programs, and also offers a card (for free and you don't have to register) that you can use to get discounts on various meds. Some discounts are small (and generics usually aren't discounted) but some are up to 75%--depends on what the med is. The link has more information and the downloadable card. You use it if you are uninsured or if you are in the Medicare "donut hole." It can't be combined with insurance or other discounts or programs you may be eligible for. I spent about 30 minutes reading about it today and searching for the "cons" of using it, but didn't find anything. If you try this out, let me know how it works for you. If I have occasion to use it, I'll post again about how it worked out.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Praying with Perseverance

[Reposted from 2003 from my previous blog]

And [Jesus] said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18: 3-4

I used to find my son's scribble marks in my journals; now I find my daughter's. How they try to be like us, and yet often I find that I need to be like them.

Take prayer. My daughter prays the same thing at least four times a day--every meal and bedtime. "Help my Daddy to feel better soon." There's comfort in her familiar prayer.

For a time I began to get bored with her prayer, and wondered, "should I encourage her to pray about other things, or try to change her prayer?" Yet then the deep realization came that what is foremost on her mind, the only thing in her mind worth repeating day after day, is never too familiar or boring to say again to the One who can answer...

"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." Luke 18:1

Her prayer is short and to the point--not long or drawn out as if her words have power in and of themselves, or as if she might stumble upon some magic way of eliciting a response from God. She is my hero, my prayer warrier. And where did she learn this simple prayer? Her brother taught it to her. "A little child shall lead them..."

I find sometimes that my faith falls short--that after I pray for awhile, I want to give up because I get tired of waiting for the answer--but my hero doesn't get tired. She enjoys being carried--and she knows the One who will carry the desires and concerns of her heart.

The Footprints poem says God is carrying us in the hardest times. To me that used to be a nice sentiment, something that good Christians imagine but not a truth to be experienced. But God has led me time and again to know and experience the deep truth of this.

The prayer He calls me to is to pour out my heart, all of my worries, my concerns, my fears, until God says, "Be still, and know that I am God." I used to stop praying at that point, but now I bask in prayer, knowing that He is God. I rest in His arms because He is sovereign, in control, His perfect plan is in action, I am secure, I am in the shelter of His wings. That's when He begins to speak to me. That's when I am filled by Him.

I used to be afraid to seek His presence because I was afraid of hearing more silence. I thought, my faith is too fragile to handle any more silence like God's apparent silence in response to my prayers. It is better to imagine God than to seek Him and be disappointed. I mistook God's silence for rejection instead of His beckoning call to seek and pursue Him, and I missed out on knowing the beauty of when God does answer.

Sometimes I break down and tell God I don't have the strength to pursue Him and that I need Him to come meet me where I am. He has always answered that prayer over time, and then calls me again to seek after Him.

Have you grown weary of bringing some request before God? Maybe He is calling you to bring it again, then lay it at His sovereign feet and soak in the peace of His presence. I don't know how or when God will answer your fervent prayer, but I know that He suffered greatly on our behalf to enable us to bring any and every care to Him--and that He shares in our pain because He loves us more deeply than we can imagine. 

Sometimes it's scary to me to allow God to enter into my pain, sometimes I'm afraid to tell Him about my anger at Him and or to relinquish that anger to Him. But I find when I go through that process--and it can take a long time--that He does indeed carry me.

Seeking again to rest in His arms, Merry 

Be Stumped!

The great promise of Psalm 23 is not that we will be saved from the dark valley, but that the Lord, who is our Shepherd, will remain close beside us even though the darkness might obscure Him from our view.
—Michael Card

I wrote this entry back in 2005 on a previous platform, and thought it was worth reposting. 

This June marks five years since Dave became disabled. People sometimes ask me if I know why God is allowing Dave to be incapacitated for so long. The question leaves me—well—stumped! It’s not that I can’t imagine what possible reasons God might have. God’s developing our character. God’s going to use it so Dave can be a better pastor or a better comforter. God’s going to use it to help someone else…

I believe all of those are true, and yet, without the benefit of hindsight, of seeing how God will use it—the answers fall flat. They provide hope for a season, but then days, weeks, months, years become long. Still we meet with a silent God. A God obscured by dark times. What is He doing?

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."
John 12:24

In the Motherwise Bible study, Author Denise Glenn tells a story about being like that kernal of wheat—how hopeful and precious she felt in the Maker’s hand, and then how dark and lonely life became when she was "buried" in the ground. What was God doing? Why was He abandoning her?

God uses many parables to help us understand. We are building blocks, being built together into a dwelling for God, unimaginable! Built on the "Living Stone," Christ. A costly Heavenly city with walls of precious gold. Gold that is purified by fire, formed by pressure and time and painstaking craftsmanship. As are we.

Or, we are the branches, and God the heavenly gardener, cutting back what was already fruitful (and we ask, "God, this doesn’t make any sense! Wasn’t I doing what you wanted?")—so that it will be more fruitful. Pruning sounds innocuous enough until you look at the extent to which some plants are cut back. Grapevines, for example, are cut to stumps, and afterward look dead, lifeless—what could possibly grow from those? And yet by mid-summer they are filled with lush, tantalizing, abundant fruit.

This has been a year of pruning for me, of darkness, quiet, and not much writing. It’s good to be stumped—to be cut back so far as to have nothing to say, to offer, to do. To have to lie dormant in the soil. To need to be molded by pressure and by fire.

We don’t think it’s good because we look at today, we like the finer things this world has to offer—and we lose sight of God’s character. He’s good when we hurt. He’s near when we can’t hear or feel him. He protects us when darkness obscures.

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."
—Isa 43:2

Where is God in the fire? He’s there. Our imagination is so finite, our vision so limited, it’s hard for us to comprehend until we look back and see, oh, He was there, He brought us through, and oh, His purpose was pure and holy and God can be glorified.

It feels like the waters sweep over us and the flames burn—and yet they burn only the dross of this life that we are so attached to. The pure gold, the REAL US—this will come forth, shining, beautiful, precious—worthy of being united with God—incomprehensible!

But it’s a done deal, for Jesus, in His own dark valley, said, "It is finished." God calls us holy, righteous, blameless in His sight—and we wonder and worry, how can this be? Imagine, God has us mystified! Yes, imagine, that we must do, must strive to get our minds around what the God of all time and space, of everything and nothing (for even nothing obeyed Him and became something!), is trying to communicate to us. And if we only comprehend a tiny fraction, and help a few others along the way, our time is well spent.

Fall to the ground. Walk through the fire. Be stumped. And then be filled with the rejuvenating, nourishing, incredible life of Jesus who bears fruit through ones such as us.

What is it for? His glory. That’s the easy question! Why does He allow us to partake in His glory? That’s a mystery for the ages—and yet again for His glory.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A place to rest

A favorite spot at the nature preserve
Thursdays are my writing days. My normal daily schedule involves homeschooling the kids, laundry, meals and other household chores, working online for a few hours (I work for a homeschool curriculum company), helping Dave as he needs, running to various appointments, and so on. Thursday afternoons are beautiful beacons that lure me out of the house each week. I get my work with the kids and online done as early in the day as possible, and then go walk at the nature preserve, or sit in a favorite sunny spot. Today was gray and rainy, but time in the Word and just to sit and think was refreshing. Usually I spend the first 30 minutes just sitting, eating lunch, and decompressing from life's fast pace.

Last week I sat under a cool maple with the wind whispering through the leaves, watching the sunshine dancing on a glorious green hillside that races up to a brilliant blue sky. So many shades of green: broad, pale stripes from the mower alternating with grassier greens, trees that glow lime-green or stand tall with stately and subdued forest greens...

It was so peaceful after a long, cold winter, and a spring filled with sickness after sickness. So I breathed in deep, long droughts of sunshine and green, and just sat and listened.

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Psalm 62:1-2
This reminds me of home and the creek I grew up by
Nature is so healing. Where do you go for healing and rest? Do you have a special place that you spend time with God?