Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Little Salve for the Broken Hearted

Not only so, but we also glory (or rejoice) in our sufferings,
 because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 
 And hope does not put us to shame (disappoint us),
 because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts
 through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5:3-5 (NIV, emphasis mine)

I am thankful that I can no longer feel the pain but I vividly remember the feeling. A feeling that most human beings have felt yet no actual description can truly capture the magnitude of the effect. Unfortunately, I have experienced it a couple of times in my life and I can honestly say it felt like a piece of me died. What - you say am I rambling about? Well, it's a broken heart! 

Webster's defines it simply as "overcome by sorrow." Succinct yes but also all encompassing as those of us who have experienced this type of sorrow know exactly what that means. Just to hear the word, elicits thoughts to times, hopefully long ago, in which we experienced some significant loss. Typically, (or maybe just my case) it is associated with broken deep personal relationships or with the loss of a loved one. 

I often hear people say "that breaks my heart" or "I'm heart broken over...." But, I feel it has become a phrase we say when things are bad and we don't really know what to say. HOLD ON!! -I'm not saying people don't feel bad or have a deep level of compassion/empathy/sympathy for said situation but in reality to experience a broken heart, it's a first person emotional experience. Everyone has to take their own journey and go through the process of healing in their own way. 

These periods of "deep sorrow" leave an imprint on our lives in which we can usually remember minute details that when recounted had absolutely nothing to do with the event. For example, when I was 7 years old, my father walked out of my parent's bedroom after an extremely violent tirade against my mother. He then walked over to my brothers and me and told us he was leaving. Immediately,  I felt my world crash around me because as crazy and dysfunctional as our home life was, it was all I knew. To me, that's how everyone lived. But as tears streamed down my face and my brothers and I said our good-byes, the thing that stands out to me along with the feeling was the fact that I was sitting on the coffee table and Planet of Apes was on TV.  Funny what we recount.

As for those broken relationships, the effect seemed more significant to me from a feeling stand-point. Maybe it was the fact that I was older or that I had allowed myself to trust someone or it caused me to relive some of the earlier abandonment issues that started as a kiddo. Whatever the reason, the pain was unbearable. I am not sure how I made it from one day to the next but I do know that somehow it got easier and easier. I can still remember the way I felt as the door closed literally and figuratively -- that slumping, caving, gut-wrenching feeling that I had lost a necessary part of me...something vital for sustaining life and taking my next breath. Of course, that feeling was just that, a feeling and it wasn't the end of me. I must say there are some serious physical repercussions and manifestations of going through this sort of emotional trauma. I had to make some choices, changes and ask for help and because of that I turned out okay. To be honest, it is easier to look back and say I am better off because of those turn of events. However, when you're going through it, you don't think that way.

Currently, I have several special people in my life I am watching go through their own broken heart season. It truly saddens me and makes me feel extremely helpless that I can't do anything to take away their pain. I can only pray for them and be there as an ear to listen and try not "fix" it because only time will heal the wounds. 

The Lord Jesus Christ felt this very same pain when He knelt to pray just prior to the upcoming betrayal by one of His very own. The Bible tells us that He cried out to the Lord,
 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me;
 yet not my will, but yours be done.”
...And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly,
 and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground."
 Luke 22:42, 44 (NIV, emphasis mine)
 During His brief time in human form, He experienced the same visceral and emotional encounters we still go through today. He was abandoned, rejected, lied to, betrayed (by many including those He called brother and friend), falsely accused, imprisoned, mocked, forced out, and so on. You name it, He faced it. But what strikes me is that He still continued on the path set before die for those same people who caused Him the pain. He was in such torment for what must be done that I wonder if the blood was already being shed for the sins that very night as He prayed? He shed blood for us even as the pawns were in place to carry out the prophecy of His death and subsequent resurrection. (Isaiah)

I say all of this to say this, we are not alone no matter how alone we feel. I know first hand what it is to have loved and lost, both by decision and death. I can't begin to imagine what many of you are going through out there. But, we all have our stories and those stories are what make us who we are. Let the Lord use your experiences to reach others, bring comfort and glorify His Kingdom.

For those in the midst of the struggle, I know it may not seem like it now, but there can be healing and calmness, if you trust in the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) He says,
 "Peace I leave with you; 
my peace I give you.
 I do not give to you as the world gives
. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." 
John 14:27 (NIV, emphasis mine)
Furthermore we are promised, 
"Be strong and courageous.
 Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
 for the LORD your God goes with you;
 he will never leave you nor forsake you.” 
Deut 31:6 (NIV, emphasis mine)

So, take it one day at a time, one breath at a time and keep close to the Lord and He will see you through. He did it for me and He will be there for you as well. Just ask Him.. He stands at the door and knocks...(Rev 3:20) Just ask Him in and let the healing begin....

Dear Heavenly Father - I pray for my fellow comrades in the midst of dealing with a broken heart. I pray that You bring them comfort and peace. Give them the strength to make it one more day and make life easier with each breath they take. I thank You for being with me during those dark days in my life. I thank You that You have been able to use those experiences and have used them to shape me into the person I am today. I thank You that what was meant for evil, You intend for good, just as Your word promises. In the blessed name of Jesus - AMEN


  • Have you had a season of "deep sorrow?" If so, did you grow from it? 
  • Think about how your life has changed and evolved since the loss. Jot down a list of the good that has come from that experience. 
  • If you are currently in the midst of the struggle, I encourage you to pray. To seek godly council and to stay in the Word.  Check out Jerimiah 29:11 and my personal favorite Romans 5:3-5.
  • Pray for one another!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Corner Evangelist

Driving back from a birthday party with my little fella today, I decided to go out onto the busy roadway to make a stop at the local Target. Mind you, this was not my normal route and I routinely avoid this busy road at all costs. But, there at the corner of Insanely Crazy Blvd and What Was I Thinking Road, there was a man standing on the corner in a white dress shirt, tie and dress pants all complimented by a wide-brimmed hat. At first, I only saw him from behind and assumed the rather large sign he was holding was to advertise some local business or eatery. But as traffic continued to move (or not move) inches at a time, he turned around and I realized the large sign he was holding was of Heaven and Hell with supporting scriptures for both. As my little buggy inched ever so slowly towards the corner, I noticed another important detail. He was holding his Bible up to his head so as to keep his hat from blowing away but he was also quoting scripture very loudly.

I must admit that my first thought was "oh my, he just looks crazy." I didn't think much more about it until I was reading through Hebrews Chapter 10 tonight. I got to verse 33 that says

" Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution;
at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated." (NIV)

Granted, this was more about involuntary acts such as suffering, having everything taken from you, imprisoned for the cause of Christ. But, as I read that passage, the man from this afternoon came to mind and I realized that he was choosing to put himself on display to proclaim the name of Christ. And I, as a believer in Christ, was one to ridicule him in my own mind -- I wonder how others perceived him? Was he insulted? Unfortunately, I am sure he was as we seem to have a society made of folks that seek to demean others. Does he feel the hurt of the words, actions and/or gestures passersby bestowed upon him? How could he not since he is made with the same flesh, blood and feelings as the rest of humanity?

I must consider that this man has more fortitude than I to stand on this corner (or any corner for that matter) and put himself out there for all to see. I can honestly say, he was letting his light shine and not hiding it under a bushel. I wonder if maybe, just maybe someone saw or heard him today that needed to hear from the Lord or if someone was searching and maybe he just added a little more water to an already gestating seed or if someone else is out there just like me and realizes that man taught them a little something about humility. HMMMM???

Dear Father: Please forgive me for passing judgement on this man today. I pray that someone out there was touched by his message. I pray You help me to avoid being judgmental, even in passing. I thank You for bringing him to mind tonight as I read Your word. I thank You for speaking to me out of Your scriptures. In the blessed name of Jesus - AMEN

  • What kind of judgments do you inadvertently pass?
  • Do you let your light shine (as the children's song says) or do you hide it? Can others see Christ in you and your actions? What are you doing to proclaim the name of Christ?
  • Pray and ask the Lord to show you where you can be more effective for Him. Also, ask Him to help you see the times that you are being judgmental and to forgive you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

He met me!

I did not have access to the Internet while I was gone so I took the old fashioned pen and paper route to capture my thoughts. Now that I am home all of 24 hours, I have just begun to process all that happened; all that I was a part of; and everywhere we went. What speaks to me is that I hope that I ministered to those wonderful people as much as they ministered to me. God met me in the middle of Botswana in those outside villages of Mosojane and Tutume. He met me out on the dirt roads, in the smiling faces of the children and the tired faces of the men and women. He met me in the marketplace, in the schools and on the roads. I am so thankful that He met me because that means He is there for others too!

The beauty and simplicity of life in the villages captured my heart and convicted me in many ways too! These people have tough lives and work very hard for the little that they have yet they know about Jesus. Their children are granted first rate education at the expense of the government and Jesus is welcomed and not run off at these institutions. All people, both young and old, clamour to watch puppets, sing songs and hear the Word of God spoken in public forums. What got me most was the desire to receive a Bible and how those that received them, clutched the book to their chest like it was a precious gem. In converse, I have so many Bibles but do not treat them with the respect that is due.
I feel a change about my outlook on life and I pray that it doesn't calm in time with the "out-of-sight = out-of-mind" mentality that is so prevalent. I walked away not wanting to change those people or give them more material goods, yet I want to emulate their desire and hunger for the Word and pursuit of Jesus. I want to emulate their happiness with the little things in life like a hat or a piece of candy. The life I lead is not one in which I truly trust God in all that I do if I am honest. There is a certain expectation that I have for how my life should be and how it should look but in reality, I could do more with less. Not that I am saying I want to trade my life for anything in this world, I just want to incorporate more of Jesus and His spirit that met me on the dry, dusty roads of Botswana. Knowing that should I make this change, God will meet me here too right in the middle of the suburbs. How about you?? Are you ready to meet Jesus where you are?
I will try to decipher my handwriting from my journal and post day to day activities of my trip!! If nothing else, a synopsis and highlights from the trip and put them on line for all to read. Photos coming soon!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lucky Bags!!!

I can't believe it's already Saturday night here in Gaborone. It feels like I just left home in so many ways, yet feels like forever. In reality, it seems like one long day since I really didn't sleep much on the plane. Haven't done anything "mission-like" yet -- just traveling. The cultures are different and it is really odd to see so many passport control areas and customs officials just stopping people.

My trip started easy enough with my loving family taking me to the Tampa airport near noon. They walked me in, basically because I had so much luggage and couldn't do it myself. I checked in but was told that my flight was delayed due to bad thunderstorms in Atlanta. They were kind enough to put me on a earlier flight, that itself was 2 hours late leaving from the gate. At least they waited for me...heehee.. Anyway, got on this flight and while in route to Atlanta about the time to start our descent, the airport closed to incoming and outgoing flights. So, we were diverted to Columbia SC for refueling. We did not deplane but were there close to an hour. Once we arrived in Atlanta, it was 645pm. I was sure that my flight to Johannesburg would be delayed so I didn't sweat it much. I had to go to the farthest terminal away from the one I deplaned in. I arrived at 7pm which isn't bad but this was when they started the boarding for my 745pm flight. I was one of the last ones to board because of my zone, so they had no room for my carry-on luggage. So, my luggage was lucky enough to fly first class while I ventured into the "economy" section.
The Johannesburg flight was fine. They took really good care of us. I got to watch first run movies and one of my favorites, I LOVE LUCY! They fed us really well. I was given the exit row with lots of leg room. Can't complain about the flight but I was uncharacteristically unable to sleep even with the help of Tylenol PM and Dramamine. But, I really wasn't that tired. I was able to read, pray and just veg. We landed in Johannesburg and let me tell you, that was kind of intimidating with all the security. While waiting for our next flight one of the team spotted Michael W. Smith waiting at the gate next to us in line to board another flight. He didn't look like Michael to me.. but I have only seen him on TV and videos. He didn't have his hair "done"and boy does he look young in person. We went over and talked with him. I have a photo of him and the team leader. He was getting ready to board and I didn't want to hold him up asking for a shot with me. (so, you'll have to deal with the one I got.... I guess I can always photo shop myself in since I was there, just not right next to him.)
We arrived in Johannesburg and after filling out all the paperwork for immigration, it was time to go pick up my bags. But, low and behold no bags. Upon closer research, my little ol' bags were still in Atlanta. How's that for a fine how-do-you-do....2 bags stayed home and 1 road in first class and I went waaaahhh waaahhhh all the way home!! Nah, not really. I didn't cry. We actually ran into another group on the plane that was heading to do mission work here with a different organization. One of the ladies gave me PJs and clothes to wear to church in the AM. I do have my makeup, Bible and meds with me so I am okay. I can always get more clothes and stuff.
So, as it stands my bags will be making a solo flight here sometime on Monday to be returned to me. I sure hope they luck out like my carry-on bags did and travel in style.
That's it for update DAY 1. Don't know when/if I will have access again but please keep praying. I know God is going to make this a great week. I am kind of amused by the whole luggage thing and understand it's just another way for Satan to try to distract me.. Oh well, I am sure he'll try something else tomorrow. It's also night-night for me -- it's 430p back home and it's 1030pm here. I think I will try the Tylenol PM again and hopefully the exhaustion will overtake me and I will go to sleep. Hopefully, I won't dream about my luggage but then again, you never know. Sweet dreams all!