Reflections on Round Two

At the beginning…

every journey begins with first stepThat’s where I am… at the beginning of Round 2.  Looking at the big picture, some might say I’m in the middle.  Surgery was Round 1.  Radiation is Round 2.  Round 3 will be a medication taken for 5 years plus periodic scans.  However, I’m taking this day by day.  It’s a new challenge, and it’s just beginning.

I’m not sure why beginning 5 weeks of radiation treatments has been more difficult for me emotionally that going into surgery.  I’m trying to remember the positives (and there are quite a few!).
a.  The duration of treatment is only 5 weeks.
b.  No chemo was necessary.
c.  Surgery  is already over.  Round 1… check!
d.  No surprises were found during surgery (other than the fact that there was a greater area of pre-cancerous cells than expected).
e.  My family and I have had lots of support from our family, friends, and church family in the form of prayers, encouragement, cards and notes, meals, gifts, and offers of help.
f.  My husband and children have been a wonderful help and encouragement in so many ways.
g.  And, most importantly, I have had a lot of spiritual comfort and peace, knowing the Lord and enjoying His presence in my life and in every joy as well as in every difficulty, and knowing that I can trust in Him.

So, why am I struggling more emotionally with Round 2 than I did with Round 1?

That’s a good question.  I’m trying to figure out what is going on inside my head and my heart.  One of the best ways for me to sort things out is to write, so here I am.  As I’ve been considering everything, here are some of the possibilities of thoughts that are running through my unconscious mind, sometimes bubbling up into a greater level of awareness and nibbling away at my peace of mind.

  • I have found it impossible to dismiss my Dad and his almost 5 year cancer battle from my mind.  I know how badly he was burned during his radiation treatments and the internal damage that was done, resulting in a major surgery involving two surgeons and representing two areas of specialty.  Believe me, you don’t want to know any more than that.  To say that the side effects of radiation for him were awful would be a gross understatement.  Horrific would be more descriptive.  Poor Dad.
  • I am very fair skinned, like my Dad.  I also have very sensitive skin.  Plus, everyone I know who has had radiation and has actually shared any of the details about their experience was also quite burned.
  • Since the recovery from my surgery lasted longer and was more difficult that I’d thought it would be, the thought of another period of not being at my best physically and another period of recovery is not exactly attractive.
  • My family needs me to be healthy and functioning well, and I have just seen what results from several weeks of not being at my best.  (I’m still trying to catch up, too!)
  • I’d thought that taking a little break between surgery and radiation (because I’d be going into a new deductible year anyway and also wanted to continue to recover and to enjoy Christmas) was a good thing.  And, it was a nice break.  Now, however, it seems as though it’s given me more time to build up a mountain of dread.  Reading the radiology release form (that lists all of the potential side effects of my treatments) before I signed it didn’t help.  I knew about the common side effects like the burning and fatigue, but reading that rare side effects like heart damage are possible just increases the concern.
  • Finally, one of the most difficult things about my recovery from surgery was not being able to tolerate wearing normal items of clothing, making it difficult to go anywhere and to cover up (as the only female in a house with 7 guys) without being uncomfortable or causing damage to areas that were healing.  I am not looking forward to another experience like that.

In addition to the above concerns, today has been a disconcerting day.  When I woke this morning, my right eyelid was very swollen and tender, although there are no signs of infection, no crustiness, or anything like a sty.  It is still swollen and tender, and I am concerned because my vision in that eye is slightly affected and I have a genetic eye disease called Fuch’s Dystrophy that will likely require corneal transplants at some point in the future.  However,  I knew that my eye could not be the priority today.  I had an appointment to get my tattoo dots that guide placement of the radiation so that I can begin treatments tomorrow.

For this pre-treatment scanning procedure, I had to lie on a table in a large room while the techs monitored from outside and a large machine plotted my radiation plan.  I was told that parts of the machine would descend and come close to me but would not actually touch me.  One large robotic type arm held a pizza shaped techie flying saucer, and another held an oversized cookie sheet object that looked like an x-ray screen.  There was another arm with some other type of apparatus, but I didn’t get a good look at that one.  I was supposed to keep my head turned to the right and not to move any part of my body at all.  These machines and arms rotated around the table, clicking and whirring for quite some time.  The table itself also moved, sometimes jerking to the side or sliding forward or back.  I’m not sure how long I was on the table for this procedure, but I know that my appointment was at 1 p.m., and I didn’t leave the building until 2:30.  It was a feeling of total surrender to lie with my neck and shoulders immobilized on the table by a built in form (I would definitely not call it a cushion).  With my arms over my head, hands grasping two large pegs, legs supported by a “block” to help me keep them still, and head turned to the right, I was certainly not in control of the technology, the time, or the position.  I’m also not in control of the results.

Later, at home, I looked at the irregular line and dotted lines drawn by the technicians to mark placement of the tattoo dots and I’m not sure what else.  I have questions about these marks that I will ask tomorrow, just before my first treatment.  I don’t know these people (radiation techs) at all, although I am sure that will change.  And yet, I must trust them to know what they are doing.  It truly is a helpless feeling, although I know that I am never alone.   There is Someone who knows me well, and He will be with me through it all.

I am aware that sometimes I think about things too much, but that has not been the case this time.  I’ve kept squashing down my concerns over the holidays, trying to convince myself that the optimism and faith which marked Round 1 would return when needed.  However, deep inside, my overwhelming thought about radiation is, “I don’t want to do this!”  (as though anyone would!).   Failing to deal with my concerns has not made them disappear.  They were put away for a time but still very much alive.   However, now that all of my worries are not under the surface any more, I have recognized them.  I have acknowledged their destructiveness (nibbling away at my peace).  Most importantly, I have been honest with myself and with my God about how hard this is.

At the same time, I am constantly making perspective adjustments, remembering all of the positives that have already been mentioned concerning this situation.  I am also quite aware that many many people in this world have pressing difficulties that are far more grave.  I see my blessings in every area of life… spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally… and in terms of relationships and of needs met and the provision of abundance far surpassing the basics.  I am very blessed!

So, if I continue to live in awareness of great blessing and in acknowledgement of God’s great faithfulness, why am I still struggling?

Simple.  I can’t do this on my own.  I’m human.  I can’t turn off my brain.  I’ve let those thoughts of all of the things that I cannot control build up over a period of time without dealing with them.  Today, I acknowledged them.  Now, it’s time to give them away.  It’s time to do what Jesus said.

28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.…

~  Matthew 11:28 – 29

Honestly, I didn’t realize until today that I’d been trying to carry these burdens and worries by myself.  I just knew that I was having difficulty entering into Round 2 with the kind of positive, fighting spirit that I had in Round 1 and that I need for every day of my life. Acknowledgement of God’s faithfulness and quoting scripture promises to myself are both good things… but that’s not what I needed the most.  I needed to see what I am fearful of and get honest about it.  Next, I needed to tell it to my Heavenly Father and to give all of those things to the Lord.  Then, I need to keep on giving them to Him anytime they bubble up in  my mind.  I don’t just need reminders of who He is and the truth of His word (although both are important).  My greatest spiritual need is that I also need to spend more time in His presence, confronted with my own weakness and confessing my need for His strength.   And here’s a beautiful promise for anyone who embraces thankfulness and lets go of fears (in His strength, made perfect in our weakness), giving both the blessings and the trials of our lives back to the Lord…

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

~ Phillippians 4:6 – 7

The truth is that facing any major difficulty just feels like destruction and chaos.  It brings us face to face with the fact that control over life’s circumstances is an illusion.  However, in this circumstance and in everything that today brings and that the future holds, I am so thankful that I know the One whose power is greater that any destructive force.  He has promised to bring order out of the chaos of this world and to work everything together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).  There is purpose and there is an order to all of life that goes beyond what we can see right now.

In the story of the death of Lazarus and the miracle of the power of resurrection through Jesus Christ, Jesus said something very important.  Just before He raised Lazarus from the dead, Jesus responded to Mary’s concerns (found in the 11th chapter of John) with this statement,
“Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”

The glory of God in death?  In cancer, or surgery, or radiation?  In loss, in illness, or in extreme difficulty?

Yes.

Yes to all of the above… and yes to every possible circumstance.

That doesn’t always mean that we will see the resolution of any problem in exactly the way we would desire.  It may be that I am indeed facing some physical difficulties that will be most unpleasant and be a challenging time for me and for my family.  However, if I knew, for example, that this time period would produce in our six sons a new appreciation for the fragility of life, a greater depth of compassion and reliance upon the Lord, and stepping up to a new level of maturity, would I think differently about this temporary trial?  Again… YES.

Right now, I don’t know what kind of fruit this journey will produce in my life or in anyone else’s life.  But, I do know that there is purpose and there are spiritual lessons and stepping stones that will have an impact far beyond anything that I could ever dream.  Because God is with me, He will cause this to work together for good… not just my good or my family’s good, but beyond… in ways that I can’t even imagine.  All this has nothing to do with me but rather is all about God’s continual work in this world and His great love for mankind.  And yet, again, there is a promise for those who endure trials (even though we are not doing so in our own strength).

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  ~  2nd Corinthians 4:17

Eternal glory.  Wow!  That’s amazing!  That’s the work of God.

Knowing these truths and knowing Him, being reminded that there is much more to everything in life than just our individual perspective or concerns, I feel so much better.  One step at a time, God has walked me through my valley of worry to the place of His peace.  The journey looked something like this:

The honest expression of internal turmoil
+ blessings appreciated
+ thankfulness expressed
+ truth applied
+ burdens shifted to the One who can really carry them
(and turn them into something beautiful… in His time)
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= peace that surpasses understanding and goes beyond circumstances. *

* NOTE:  This precious peace is renewable daily (moment by moment) through repeating the journey of recognizing God’s sovereignty and turning it all over to Him.
(The author’s recent practice of trying to push down worries with human knowledge of divine truth does not transfer the burden of worry to the appropriate and supreme Lifter of Burdens and is not recommended.)

 

 

When illness gets you down…

sick guy cartoonAt some point in our lives, all of us will deal with significant or ongoing illness for ourselves and/or in the lives of those we love.  Many individuals have the blessing of general good health for most of their lives.  Sometimes we take that for granted.  For others, dealing with injury or with a medical condition of some kind is a life-long challenge.  There is a refining of the soul that seems to happen sometimes when one faces constant physical illness or challenges.  I have known many such individuals who had at some point made the choice to live lives of extraordinary grace and strength, with God’s help.  Choosing to see the blessings of life and even the blessings of illness or of injury or other medical and physical issues is not easy.  Our natural instinct seems to be a very keen awareness of our own suffering and a desire for that suffering to be removed.  After all, who doesn’t love to feel wonderful?  And yet, we must remember that we have only one life, and the “sick days” or even the on-going health issues are a part of it.

Sorry u r under the weather woodstockHow, then, can we deal with illness?  How can we cope with our own suffering or the suffering of someone that we love?  How can we make the most of life when illness or injury or a medical condition seems to limit our time, our energy, and our enjoyment of life?  In a way, I feel unqualified to answer this question.  After all, I have enjoyed general good health for much of my life.  And yet, I have had experience with both illness and injury, and I’ve definitely known the heartache of experiencing sorrow and pain with loved ones who were suffering.  There are many wonderful books about the theology of suffering or the spiritual, emotional, and practical considerations of dealing with physical challenges.  There are stories of amazing people who have refused to let physical challenges or illness define them.  I’ve read several books that are powerful testimonies about overcoming obstacles, including illness and injury.  The theological studies and biographical testimonies that I have read cover these issues much more comprehensively than I will attempt to do here.  All that I can offer is a simple observation, born out of my own recent experience.

Snoopys mind wanderingI have been dealing with a health situation for some time that has greatly affected my ability to function as a wife and mother and to plan ahead.  I never know when I am going to have a bad day.  I have recently been very frustrated by the frequency and duration of my health problems and how they affect my family.  Last week, I was up very late one night.  I didn’t want to try to sleep because I felt so nauseous.   This was on a Wednesday night (actually early Thursday morning).  Because I was feeling so sick and could not sleep, I had a lot of time to think about how my illness was impacting those I loved.  I had missed church due to my illness the previous Sunday, and then I’d been forced to miss church again on that Wednesday night. I had felt okay for most of the morning but started having symptoms just before lunchtime.  Often, when that happens, symptoms progress so quickly that I am not able to meet the bus carrying our little boy who has special needs when it comes at 3:00 p.m.; so I have sometimes been forced to call my husband and have him come home from work to meet Logan’s bus.  (His bus must be met by an adult).  On that Wednesday, symptoms were progressing a little more slowly, so I was able to meet Logan’s bus myself and be downstairs when 3 of Logan’s brothers arrived 30 minutes later.

On that day, I thought that if my symptoms would hold off for a couple of hours, I could get our 5 school-age boys to church for the Wednesday night meal so that they would not miss Children’s Choir or Missions, but I knew that I was in no shape to stay. In addition to feeling awful and knowing it was going to get worse, I didn’t want to be around food since I hadn’t had anything since breakfast and the thought of eating made me sick. So, I made sure the boys got their homework done and then took them to church at around 5 p.m., with my husband, Travis, planning to meet us in the parking lot.  I pulled our Suburban around to the back of the building, near the fellowship hall where the meal is served, and then I pulled to the right beside a row of cars in the parking lot to let my boys get out and meet their Dad.

Be careful signI didn’t expect any difficulty with safely dropping off the boys since I’d called my husband as soon as we arrived.  He was on his way out of the building to meet us.  In addition, due to homework and needing to wait for our Middle School age son, who arrives home from school much later than his younger brothers, we were almost 30 minutes later arriving for the meal than most people who eat at church on Wednesday night.  I thought everyone else would already be in the building.  However, as it turned out, I almost got one or more of my boys run over that day, just because of being sick. I had gotten out of the Suburban myself and was supervising the boys as they were getting out of the car on both sides when a sweet lady who had come up behind our car decided she would drive around us. I had five boys ages 7 & 7 (twins), 8 (special needs), 10, & 12 around the car on both sides, was pulled over to the right obviously unloading, and was out of the car trying to get all of the boys safely across the parking lot to the sidewalk, and yet I could not see where all of my boys were right at that moment.  If she had waited for one more minute, I would have had all of the boys safely on the sidewalk and  Travis would have been there to get them inside, but she must have felt she couldn’t wait.  I had pulled really far to the right, but she came around us on the right, with hardly any room between vehicles.  Even though I was out of the car trying to make sure all of the boys got safely to Travis and trying to watch the boys on both sides, I was unable to keep my boys safe.  If one or more of the boys had come running around the front of our vehicle right into her path, they would have been toast.  From the moment that the woman began to pull around my car until the moment when she could have hit one or more of my boys if they had happened to run around the Suburban was just a couple of seconds.  It had happened so quickly that I could not get in front of her and was powerless to stop this upsetting and potentially lethal incident, and it was all because of me being sick.  The thought of what could have happened completely undid me.

Charlie Brown sighLater that same night, after Travis got home with the boys and they had all gone to bed, at one point my hubby wanted to talk about Spring Break and what our plans would be.  He wanted to do a short trip, and I had to tell him that I am not in any shape to do it.  After all of these incidents had taken place in just a few days, I was feeling very frustrated.  My illness has not just affected me.  It affects my family in many ways.  It’s even more frustrating since I have already had lots of tests and scans but still don’t have a firm diagnosis.  In fact, my Doctor referred to me at last week’s appointment as “a mystery”.  So, I had gotten pretty down and had no problem at all thinking about all of the things I dislike about being sick.  I had quite a mental list going.  I might not have been outwardly griping around my family, but I certainly was feeling frustrated and upset inside. 😦

cartoon checklist photoIn this state of mind, a thought occured to me.  I should make a list of all of the good things about being sick.  I honestly did not expect to get very far.  I thought that I would be doing well to come up with 3 or 4 things and that even those reasons might be a bit of a stretch of the imagination.  I decided to call this exercise my “Top Ten List of Good Things About Being Sick,” and I began to think things through.  My original thinking was that after I’d named 3 or 4 lame reasons that being sick can be good, then I would put down the same phrase for all of the other slots to round out my top ten list, “Sorry.  That’s all I’ve got.”  At least I was thinking about the subject with a little bit of humor, but I certainly can’t say that I was optimistic.  Perhaps what I was really looking for was an excuse to stay in my frustrated mindset and proof that there really was nothing good about being sick.  However, a strange thing happened.  When I began to think about things that I could be thankful for about being sick (even though my effort was half-hearted at best), suddenly all sorts of reasons began to occur to me.  Before I knew it, I had a list of 8 things that can be good about being sick.  (Although, honestly, I’ll take wellness any day).  I thought for a little while more and could not come up with any additional good things, so I did end my list the way I had planned, with “Sorry.  That’s all I’ve got.”  I put my list on my facebook status, with my little attempt at humor as my closing statement.  Just a few minutes after I posted my list of 8 good things, two more reasons really did come to me.  I added them to my status as a comment, surprised that I actually had come up with a list of 10 good things about being sick.

For me, the whole exercise was a lesson.  Here’s what I learned:

I chose to light a candle...

I chose to light a candle…

1.)  It’s okay to acknowledge feelings of frustration, anger, depression, grumpiness, and dwindling hope.  If we are going to be honest in prayer, we have to just pour all of that out.  God knows how we are feeling.  He is just waiting for us to say, “This is how I feel…., and yet, I know that You are God.  I have done all that I can do, Lord.  I am depending on You and waiting on You and trusting You.”  Then, he can begin to minister grace and comfort and wisdom and, yes, healing (whether that healing is emotional, spiritual, physical, or all 3).

2.)  It can be healthy to spend a little time analyzing yourself and figuring out what is most upsetting to you and why.  (For me, the root of the greatest frustration was definitely not feeling that progress was being made toward getting better and, primarily, the negative impact on my family.  I also miss my old, more productive and dependable life from “before”.)  Sometimes, we need a little time to grieve all of the changes and the impact of illness or injury and to mentally process both the knowns and the unknowns.

3.)  After taking some time to think about what you are feeling, there is one thing that seems to begin to turn things around and change an attitude of frustration, fear, or doubt (that there could be anything good in the situation).  The simple cure is very effective.  It is thankfulness.  Even though I didn’t feel thankful yet when I began making my list of good things, I soon began to see my own illness and even sickness in general through a new lens.

4.)  When I began to make even the slightest effort to see things differently, it was as though God met me right where I was and opened a window so that I could briefly see the (sometimes) hidden value of things that are hard to experience in the here and now.

5.)  I surprised myself, but it really was God surprising me all along.  He promises to work everything for good in the lives of those who love Him.  (Romans 8:28)  Could that possibly mean even nasty germs or cancer cells?  Could it include tragic injuries or even lifelong medical conditions?

Yes.

The answer is … yes.

It’s not that those things are good in themselves.  After all, when we reach Heaven, it will be filled with only what is good and righteous and pure.  Illness, injury, pain, and physical limitations will not be there.  The truth that we hold on to in this life is that God will take even these things and cause them to work together for good (for now, for forever, for His kingdom!).  What a promise that is!

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  – Romans 8:28 (NASB)

Snoopy doctors woodstockAm I a completely reformed grouch?  Well, perhaps I am semi-reformed.  I can’t say that I will never wish something hard or painful or yucky would just go away.  I know that many times in my life, the removal of a trial will be my fervent prayer.  But what I do hope to remember is that if I look for reasons to be thankful, I will find them.  If I look for the good, it will be revealed.  I still won’t understand everything, because God’s ways are higher than my ways.  Now, I know I see through a glass darkly; but someday, I will have full understanding.  Right now, one of my main questions might be, “Isn’t there some other way I could learn this?’  Then, in Heaven, when I suddenly know even as I am known, I believe that all of my questions will be answered before I can even ask them.

So, here is my list of the top ten good things about being sick.  (What was written on that sleepless night is in italics below.)  This really is so much more than just a list.  For me, it was really an exercise… in thankfulness and trust.

Cindy’s List of the Top Ten Good Things About Being Sick
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Snoopy thank you dance1. Being sick makes you really thankful for the times when you are feeling good so that you don’t take health for granted.
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2. It is really something to be thankful for that most illnesses don’t last very long.  (With all of the germs around us, how miraculous it is that we are so often well!)
🙂
3. Being sick helps one to appreciate the amazing complexity of the human body and the capacity for healing.
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4. Beling sick can slow one down long enough to re-focus priorities.
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5. I’ve heard people say that they would not choose to have missed what they have learned and experienced through an illness or injury. (not sure I’m there at this point, but I’m thinking about it)
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6. When you are sick, the people who love you are always there with a prayer or some other kind of caring. You love and appreciate them already, but the experience of ministering to one another bonds hearts like nothing else.
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7. When you are sick, you realize again how amazing it is to never be alone and to have God’s presence with you through everything. It is a comfort to know the hope of healing, the hope of Heaven, and the hope of tomorrow (and to have peace when nothing makes sense because you know that your life is held in loving Hands).
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8. When you are sick and you look in the mirror, you realize that your normal look is not so bad after all (compared to the bleary-eyed stranger staring back at you).
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9. ?….? I’ve got nothing.  
(Note:  this is the way I originally wrote the list.  I had nothing here, but God was not finished teaching me yet.)
🙂
10. Hey, I was doing well to come up with 8 good things, don’t ya think?
Just a little humor. Gotta keep smiling, right?  🙂
🙂  *  🙂  *  🙂  *  🙂  *  🙂  *  🙂  *  🙂
At this point, I thought that my list was finished.  I certainly did not think that I could come up with anything else to add.  I was ready to give myself an “E” for Effort.  However, it wasn’t even five minutes before I had added the following:
🙂
Okay, I thought of 2 more, so here are my amendments to the list:
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9. Going through any kind of struggle (including being sick) can make one more compassionate.
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10. Going through trials helps me grow as a Christian. “…the trying of your faith worketh patience…”
The bad part is that now everyone knows for sure that my patience needs work (as if anyone was fooled in the 1st place).
🙂
The funny thing is that when I started typing the list I had only thought of 3 or 4 good things, so it was going to be more of a joke to only go that far and then say, “I’ve got nothing” for the rest.  But, when I started out with thankfulness, the other good things just kept coming to me.  This thankfulness thing really works!  🙂
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Pollyanna glad game quoteIt may seem simple, and some people may label me a Pollyanna; but I have discovered again and again that being thankful is the way to go.  What’s the alternative?  Being miserable.  Sometimes I may spend a little time in misery land, but I don’t want to stay there.  If I’m going to be dealing with something difficult, at least I can recognize that there is still beauty in life, there is still good in life, and that I am never alone through any of it.  Choosing to see the good and to be thankful is not rocket science.  We all know that keeping a good attitude and staying optimistic is important.  Sometimes, illness just squeezes the life out of our optimism, and we need a reminder to take back our mental, emotional, and spiritual power over frustration and despair by choosing to look for the good and be grateful.  So, when illness gets you down, take a step of faith by choosing thankfulness (even if you don’t feel like it), and then wait on the Lord.  He will lift you up!  🙂
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there is always something to be thankful for“Blessed be the Lord! for He has heard the voice of my supplications. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts; so I am helped and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.”
– Psalm 28:6 & 7
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“Do not be over-anxious about anything, but by prayer and earnest pleading, together with thanksgiving, let your request be unreservedly made known in the presence of God.” Phil. 4:6
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This post was written by Cynthia  Boyd
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When a Loved One’s Health is Failing

(Note:  This post was first published on our primary blog.  We have added it here because families do deal with changes in the health status of loved ones and with the grief and loss that accompanies a health crisis.  Such a traumatic time can also hold some sweetness as families have an opportunity to share their love with one another and as parents teach their children the lessons of God’s love, human love, mortality, perseverance, heaven, and hope.)

Dear friend, this is a very hard subject to talk or write about. If you are reading this, I know that you are hurting. I am praying for you even as I am writing. I pray that you will be able to make the most of the time you have with your loved one. I pray that you will have close friends and/or family who will be there for you when you need the comfort of knowing that someone else in this world knows what you are going through and cares deeply for you. I pray that you will have a very profound awareness of the presence of God. He is the God of all comfort, and I pray that you will have His peace even in the moments of stark reality when possessing any peace truly will be something that is beyond human understanding.

I pray that God will grant you wisdom for those times when you don’t know what to say or do and wisdom in comforting others (such as your children or siblings) who are walking through this valley with you. I pray that you will know that you do not carry your burdens alone. When you have Jesus as your forever friend and Savior, you are never alone. He is God with us. The Holy Spirit is also called the Comforter, and I pray that you will experience the lightening of your load as you give it all to Him each day.

I pray that whatever the road ahead holds for you and your family, you will have some opportunities for sweet moments along the way, and that you will be comforted in the joy of your memories as time passes. I pray for the strength of your relationships and that the experience of walking through a deep valley together will bring you closer. I pray for times of refreshing and worship even in the midst of your valley. I pray that you will know how deeply you are loved.

The Bible tells us of two things that Jesus is doing right now in Heaven.

*  He is preparing a place for those who love Him, and He is praying for us.

As we face difficult times and even tragic loss, we must remember that the time we spend apart from our loved ones will be a millisecond in the forever song of eternal life with God in the wonderful place that He has prepared for us. When a loved one is very ill or may be nearing the end of their life on earth, such a painful ripping away of the fabric of your life is a heavy burden, but it is a burden that you do not bear alone. Jesus is praying for you, and He wants to take your burden and exchange it for God’s peace as you choose to trust that God is good and that He is working all things together for good. As much as you love, with the great depth of feeling and compassion that you have, longing for the best for your loved ones….you and your loved one are loved infinitely and eternally more than you can imagine!

My own father passed away in 2004. In the last months of his life, there were some things that my siblings and I did very intentionally to make the most of the time that we had and to communicate love and caring to both of our parents. Some of these things we were able to do seemed to bring a significant amount of comfort to my Dad or to be especially meaningful or comforting to my Mom, and I will share those ideas with you. There are other things that we failed to do and that we saw in hindsight as something left undone. I will share those as well. This is not a comprehensive guide, but I want to share with the reader some lessons that I learned with the hope that they will be helpful to you and your loved ones. Whether you are a primary caregiver, a relief caregiver, or part of a support system as a family member or friend, you can find some help with the information shared in this post. It’s full of lessons learned about the most important areas of concern and ideas for addressing the needs that arise when a loved one is ill.

A.  TAKE TIME!
Tips for making the most of the time you have together

Making the most of the time with your loved one can be very difficult to do. Many people feel very uncomfortable being around someone who is very ill or who has been given a tough diagnosis.  Remember that your loved one probably feels much more uncomfortable than you feel.  Physical discomfort can be very difficult, but even more difficult is the knowledge that your illness is a source of emotional grief for loved ones.  In addition, it is very difficult to have others doing things for you that you would much prefer to do for yourself if you were not ill or injured.  So, keeping in mind that this experience is very difficult for everyone, resolve to be there for you loved one as much as is possible and practical for you as well as encouraging and helpful for him or her and for other care-givers.

If you loved one is still ambulatory, take your cue from them about what they would like to do and feel well enough to do.  Keep in mind that the amount of time away from home or expending energy may differ significantly from before their illness or injury.  Some ideas for them might include:  a concert, picnic at a favorite place or in the back yard, going to church, visiting a friend or relative,  a shopping excursion,  a board game night, a movie theater or movies at home, etc.  Remember that if you are not the primary care-giver, you should ask (privately) whether the primary caregiver would want to come along or would want to take a break while your loved one has some special time with you and your family (assuring them that they are very welcome to come but that you will not be offended at all if they need some down time).  One big help is to provide transportation to medical appointments.  The primary care-giver may come with you but enjoy a break from the driving.  It can also be very helpful to have one care-giver get out of the car and go into the building with your loved one while another parks the car.  Make sure that if you are giving a break to a primary care-giver by taking your loved one on an outing or to an appointment, you must ask about any concerns for the trip or necessary equipment, medications, etc. to take along.  You will need to be equipped with the knowledge to care for your loved one while away from home.

If your loved one is not feeling well and is spending most of their time in a chair or a bed, what can you do?

Here are some suggestions for that scenario and for caring for your loved one at home regardless of their mobility level:

1. The very nearness of your presence can be a comfort to your loved one even if he or she is only able to interact in a very limited way.  Even if your loved one seems upset or grumpy, they still want to see you.  They are just dealing with a lot emotionally and physically.  Ask if they need rest and would like to continue a visit later.  If they want you to stay, do so.

* visiting with children
It is important to be sentitive to the need for rest, so if you bring your children, talk to the caregiver(s) for your loved one ahead of time. Find out the best times of day to be there in person. Then, when you visit, make those times of day your priority. Play a board game with your children or build with blocks or color pictures in the room with your ailing loved one. Let your loved one experience the giggles and fun of watching the little ones. Let your little ones help. If a drink needs to be taken to Grandpa, let your child do that. Your children need to know that they can help and have helped. (Hint: use a lidded and insulated drink cup with a straw to prevent spillage and keep the drink warm or cold for your loved one. This will help not only your child to carry it without spilling but also be good for your loved one who is weakened and could drop or knock over the cup.)

In order to give your loved one a break for rest, take your children to a park or a movie. Take photos with your camera or cell phone while you are there so that the children can come back and tell about what they did and the fun they had, with pictures! Your loved one wants his or her family to keep living and loving, and sharing times of joy with them is one of the best things that you can do. Give the caregivers a break and let them have the fun of taking your children somewhere while you care for your loved one. Go to the grocery store for needed items, and let your children help find the items on the list. If you can make it like a scavenger hunt, they can have the fun of discovery.

2. If you are not the primary caregiver, try to go to see your loved one at least once without your children.
You may have to go alone, without your spouse, in order to accomplish this. I did this once, and I am so glad that I did. It was the last anniversary that my parents were able to share, and both my sister and I were able to be there. I only wish I had stayed a little longer. You need to try to find times when you can talk with your loved one. They may have some memories to share. That can be a very sweet time. Don’t wait too long to do this and then have unanswered questions that you wish you had asked. Share your memories of times together with them. Let them know how much you treaaure and love them!

3. Be sure to ask your loved one in a private moment if there is anything that you can do for them.
They may want to talk about their illness or about death and dying. While it is difficult for you and for them, they may feel that this is too hard to do with another loved one, and they may need someone to talk to about this. Let them talk, cry if you can’t help it, ask questions if you feel that it is called for, and pray with them.

* prepare for something special
Something else that you can do is to think ahead to special occasions that are approaching and ask if your loved one wants you to help them prepare for such events. For example, my parents’ 49th anniversary was coming up in September, so I asked my Dad during the summer if he wanted me to help prepare for it. He said yes. I asked him if he had any ideas of something he’d like to do. He really didn’t have any, so I shared with him about the eternity necklaces that were being made at that time, with 3 diamonds. The meaning of these necklaces was a love that has lasted, that is still alive, and that will always be. I told Dad about the local jeweler in the town where I lived who was also a custom jewelry designer and maker. Dad asked me to get his checkbook, and he wrote a check for this gift to my Mom. I was able to get the necklace made in a style that I knew my Mother would love and purchase a card on Dad’s behalf. When I drove the 3 and a half hours across Oklahoma by myself, to be with them on the week-end of their anniversary, I brought Dad’s last gift to Mom. He was able to give it to her in person (after he’d signed the card when Mom wasn’t looking) and tell her in person the significance of the gift (we have both pictures and video of this). Dad passed away 13 days later.

4. If you don’t live nearby, get creative with keeping in touch.

*  Call often, skype, send your childrens’ art and home-made cards, look for special cards that you can send.
*  Send photos by email or a small photo album of recent pix through the mail. Send a video.
*  Talk not just to your ailing loved one but also to caregivers. Look for ways to brighten their days.
*  Once, I sent a fruit basket through a florist when my Dad was in the hospital. I called the florist directly and talked to the person who was going to shop for and make the basket, so I was able to specify what fruits to include. You could also ask that a small paring knife, some pretty napkins, and some small disposable plates or bowls be included to make the gift more practical in a hospital environment and give them what they need to eat the fruit. Dad and Mom really enjoyed that fruit basket, and it was more meaningful than flowers at that time.
*  Something that I wish I had thought of was to give or send my Dad books on tape (CD). He loved to read, but his eyesight failed as his health did. He also could no longer see what was going on in a television program. There might have been some recorded books that he and Mom could have enjoyed together.

5.  If you have a loved one who enjoyed staying in touch by e-mail, searching the internet, or working on the computer, go together with other family members to purchase a computer that your loved one can use even if confined to a chair or a bed. A regular computer desk and desk chair may not work anymore, but a tablet (I-pad) or lap top computer on a hospital type table that can be swung over the bed or chair surface and adjusted for optimum height might work really well. Your loved one might not even need a table in order to use a tablet if hand or arm weakness is not a problem in holding on to it. A Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader might work well also, especially if it has the option of conversion to audio books. Do keep your loved ones tech capabilities, interests, and eyesight in mind in deciding whether to make such a purchase and what to purchase. For some people, access to this type of technology could really help them to feel that they are still connected to the world, able to view the news when they feel up to it, etc.

6. If your loved one is physically and mentally well enough to participate, join them in doing things they enjoy.
*  Do a puzzle or play a board game together.
*  Rent a video of their favorite movie.
*  Listen to favorite music or sing together.
*  Read a book or the Bible aloud to them.
*  Look through photo albums, watch family videos, or whatever your loved one wants to do.

7. Finally, as you are spending time, take the time to ask if there are any legal or businees matters that you can help to resolve for your loved one. In the case of my parents, Dad had almost everything in good shape as far as personal affairs, and Mom knew where everything was kept. This helps so much, but it is not always the case that someone is this prepared. Especially if an illness has come about suddenly, your loved one may need help with this. It will be a comfort to them to know this is taken care of, so don’t feel bad asking if there is such a need. If you can do this in the same conversation where you’ve aske about other types of needs, it could lead quite naturally to asking about this type of concern. There was one detail that my father had not taken care of that caused my Mom a lot of problems later on, and I wished that I had taken time to ask him about any loose ends. Topics such as insurance, a will, his wishes, any outstanding loans (they need to be in the name of both parties), and any properties (also need to be jointly owned) need to be addressed. Again, my Dad had done very well, but he failed to add my mother’s name to the property deed for some land he’d been given by his mother (once part of the family farm in South Carolina, split up into four parcels for he and his 3 brothers). The land was being used as a tree farm, and it was earning some money every time trees were harvested. It turned into a big hassle for my Mom to jump through the legal hoops that it took to get the property into her name, so I wished that I’d sat down with my Dad and helped him to think through a list of things like this that needed attention.

B.  PRACTICAL HELPS:  LOOK FOR THINGS THAT NEED TO BE DONE

What are some practical things that you and / or other family members or friends can do (or have done by a professional contractor ar handyman) that will be helpful to both your ailing loved one and their caregiver(s)?

It is good to think all of this through and come up with some possible ideas. Then, run these ideas by the caregiver(s) to see if they agree that what you are proposing will really be practical and helpful. The caregiver(s) may have additional ideas that have not occured to you. Finally, have a family meeting or conference call with those who can help to do what needs to be done and pay for any expenses. Share the needs and the ideas for meeting them, and make an action plan about how best to accomplish doing what you have agreed upon.

Here are some suggestions for re-arranging and modifying the home environment :

1. Comfortable seating is a must for someone who is not feeling well and for those who will be caring for him or her. If your loved ones have always resisted the look of a recliner but such a chair would now be very helpful, consider such a purchase and a furniture re-arrangement for perhaps the family gathering room to accommodate the large chair. Or, if there is no place to sit in the room where your loved one’s bed is, you may want to move another piece of furniture out in order to place a chair for a caregiver or visitor. For example, your loved one may only be wearing pajamas and may not need as much clothing storage, so their chest of drawers might be able to be moved into a closet or into another room.

2. A hospital bed can make life so much easier and more comfortable for your loved one and even be helpful to caregivers. Caregivers have the best perspective on when this becomes a need. A formal dining room can be converted to a room for this if there is nowhere else. Curtains or even a temporary wall (with a wide door opening) can be put in place for privacy. Your table can be stored in the garage, with legs removed and leaning against a wall, with some kind of a small carpet underneath to prevent damage. Chairs can be stacked in front of the table in your storage space. A hutch or buffet could stay if there is room, perhaps packing up some dishes temporarily and using the space for medicines, clothing, or whatever.

3. Grab bars can be a safety essential. If your loved one is like my Dad, he wanted to take care of his own needs as long as possible. We did install a grab bar beside the toilet and another beside the tub/shower. This did make it easier for my Dad to continue to take care of his needs for a while longer. However, we should have done it sooner. The grab bars were installed after Dad had already had a fall. We were able to get very sturdy grab bars at a home improvement store. They were white and didn’t look terrible. Make sure these are installed properly and anchored into a stud.

4. Consider accessability needs. If a ramp is needed but a permanent structure would not be a good option, check out the rollout aluminum ramps that support 1,000 lbs. and work well in so many applications. Here’s a link to the Roll a Ramp website: http://www.rollaramp.com/ . In addition, some doorways may need to be modified to accomodate a wheelchair or walker. This should be done by someone who knows how to re-frame a door opening and install a wider door. In most situations, no electrical outlets or switches would have to be moved; however, it’s wise to proceed with caution and use an electrician for this if the need arises.

5. A nice meal tray that suits the situation can be a great help. My Dad ate a lot of meals sitting in his chair with a lap tray Mom had found in a catalog and ordered.  This particular meal tray was similar to many lap desks that are sold these days, with a fabric “pillow” on the underside, full of styrofoam beads, allowing the tray to nestle onto a lap and sit evenly and snugly.  The tray she found was generously sized, had a raised rim around the top surface, and also had a recessed well for a drink cup.

6. Some sort of table to keep needed items within arms reach can be very handy and allow the patient to reach some items without waiting for help. (Medicines, reading materials, water, etc.) If you need a hospital type table, get one.

7. Fight for whatever equipment your loved one needs. Medicare did not want to approve a wheelchair or oxygen for my Dad at first, even though he was in congestive heart failure and needed both desperately. We got the items anyway but kept fighting until they were covered. Try to make sure your loved one’s Doctor prescribes equipment like this when needed to make the process easier.  A lift may become a necessity if your loved one becomes unable to assist in moving himself or herself.

8. Control lighting. If your loved one needs more light and there’s no room for a regular table lamp, get a pole lamp. If light bothers your loved one, find a way to cover windows where necessary.

9. Make it possible for your loved one to spend some time outdoors for as long as is possible, given their health and mobility needs. You may need to purchase a different type of outdoor seating for a deck or patio that will accomodate your loved one’s need for cushion and comfort if they have lost weight. (Note:  a gel or foam cushion for a wheelchair or for a wooden diniing chair can also be helpul for your loved one and add to their comfort level.)  Add an awning or umbrella if there’s too much bright sunlight. Place a bird feeder or a hummingbird feeder by a window where your loved one can see it if they would like this for a touch of the outdoors from inside. However, it will be necessary for someone ot maintain feeders once they are up.  If that would be too much, added to what you are already doing, don’t do it. Perhaps you can give your loved one little outdoor breaks by choosing to leave a little early for appointments and then intentionally pausing in your front yard or as you are on your way in from the parking lot to the medical building (if there is a nicely landscaped area). Just breathing some fresh air and seeing growing things and even birds or squirrels could be a welcome moment of enjoyment for your loved one.

10. Remove obstructions and dangers. Get rid of any furniture in your loved one’s path that has sharp corners (place it somewhere else). Remove throw rugs that could be a tripping hazard. If a space is too narrow between furniture pieces, change your furniture arrangement to make it easier for your loved one to navigate with a portable oxygen set-up or a walker. Cover the hearth next to your loved one’s chair with a quilt. Look around the home for danger spots if your loved one were to fall. Remove things that would cause injury if someone fell on or against them.

11. Give them music if desired.  If your loved one loves music, Place a CD player or Ipod where they can reach it and listen to their favorite music whenever they wish. Make sure they know how to use it. Listen to music with them, and sing along with it if your loved one wishes. I still remember hearing my sister-in-law singing with her Dad as she was caring for him (when he had moved into their home and his health was failing).

12. Look for a project that needs to be done!  Remember that you are trying to make life easier for primary caregivers as well as for your ailing loved one.  This can bring joy to the caregivers who are also in that environment and give them something else to focus on. It can also re-assure your loved one that those left behind will be well cared for. In addition, your family can use and enjoy whatever is done. This does not need to be something that will cause a lot of indoor mess and hassle. It could be something as simple as bright, new towels for a bathroom, fresh paint in the kitchen, or a peaceful photo or painting. Large projects to be considered might be one of the step in bathtubs with an opening door, which are installed by the manufacturer, or changing out a bathtub for a step-in or roll-in shower.

What chose to do was an outdoor project. Here’s how it took place. As Mother’s Day and Father’s Day were approaching in the months before my Dad passed away, I realized that there was nothing that my parents really needed as personal gifts. They had all their needs met, and Dad could no longer enjoy the hobbies that had provided our family with gift ideas through the years. I was racking by brain for an idea when I thought of their large deck. Behind their condo, Mom and Dad had both a patio and a huge deck. The deck needed some work, and they needed some new outdoor furniture and accessories. My siblings and I took this on as a project. We let Mom and Dad know about it, and Mom was especially excited. Travis & I drove to their home several times that Spring and Summer to work, and my Sister was able to fly down from Washington State to help as well. My brother and his family were living in France then, so we did a lot of communication by e-mail. We ordered many things online so that everyone could have a say in what was purchased. When we were able to be there to work on the project, Travis and I hammered in nails that were popped out, did minor repairs, and power washed the deck. We put together deck furniture that had arrived in huge boxes (we’d arranged for the boxes to be brought down the alley and placed directly on the deck so that Mom wouldn’t have to get help bringing them through the condo). We purchased pots, plants, and accessories locally and fixed them up. We hung lanterns on pretty brackets on the pergola. Mom had always loved taking care of plants, so she did not mind the watering and getting outside some. Dad was able to come outside more often in his last few months because the furniture was comfortable for him. And, when family came from out of town for Dad’s memorial service, the deck and the new table (plus the old one that Travis had repainted) were wonderful to have. There wasn’t enough seating indoors, and we were able to seat everyone nicely on the deck, which looked beautiful. Later on, when my Mom sold the condo, the improvements we’d made helped her find a buyer more quickly. The deck project was one thing that we did right.

13. If your loved one still has some mobility, look for ways to shift some things around and make it easier for them to function. If they have always gotten ready for the day at the far sink, ask if they would like to swap sinks to the one nearer the door.  Make that happen if needed. Place things that are most used in drawers at just the right height. Shift some hanging items or shelved items in the closet so that what is needed most is very accessible to your loved one.

14. Begin exploring ways to get help before you need it. If you think you will need a home health care nurse part-time, check into that. There are various programs to help with the cost, and it would be good to investigate all of that. My Dad did have a home health care nurse that came in for brief visits to handle some of the medical procedures that Mom was uncomfortable doing. They were going to start sending someone to assist with bathing, but that never happened. He also got some physical therapy at home to keep his muscles going so he could remain ambulatory as long as possible.

C.  MAKE PRE-ARRANGEMENTS SO YOU CAN BE THERE WHEN NEEDED

1. If your ability to be there for your loved ones when needed depends on getting away from your job or your spouse getting away, talk to supervisors or bosses before the need is urgent. Talk to your spouse about what times you will feel that your really need to be there. Talk about priorities for making this happen. Make any arrangement that you can to handle what must be done in your absence before you need to be gone.

2. Check on transportation options for all kinds of scenarios.

3. Make sure your children have what they need (someone to take them to sports or piano lessons, to help with homework, to be there for a special event). Have gifts purchased early for birthdays and such that are coming up in case you need to be gone. Talk to your children and help them to have some level of understanding about what is going on. They need to know and feel that they are part of the family in dealing with all of this.

4. Consider the needs of other family members as well. Try to be there for each other. Remember that others may grieve differently.

5. Talk to the funeral home and church (Pastor, person in charge of facilities) ahead of time. Make any arrangements that you can before they are needed.

6. Keep extended family and long time friends in the loop. Have a private blog for updates or an e-mail list of people to dash off a quick update. Check into Caring Bridge at http://www.caringbridge.org/ This is a web-based support system for you that you can customize to be seen only by those you wish to inform. It is designed to allow a family member to set up a page for an ailing loved one quickly and easily. They provide a sort of page template to use. Information such as prayer requests, health updates, needs for someone to stay with your loved one (while a primary caregiver has their own Dr. appointment, goes to church, has an outing with friends, goes to the grocery store, or whatever), a care-giving schedule or meals schedule, requests for immediate help if there is a need to have a prescription picked up or a family member picked up at the airport…..or whatever it is that your family needs in your own unique situation.

7. Include your ailing family member in everything (including decisions) as much as possible and for as long as possible (unless you plan a surprise).

D.  TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

Try to have some joyful and fun times with your children, siblings, spouse, other family members and friends even in the midst of all that is happening. You are still alive! They are still alive! Each day is a day that the Lord has made! Rejoice in everything that brings joy! It is not a betrayal of the one who is ill! They would want you to enjoy what you can!

Take care of physical needs. Try to rest when you need to. Don’t skip check-ups or dental cleanings. If you can’t make a specific appointment time, re-schedule rather than canceling. Take your vitamins.

Take care of emotional needs. There needs to be someone you can talk to in order to share your deepest thoughts and cares.

Take care of spiritual needs. Try to keep going to church or at least to watch or listen to worship services. Stay in touch with your Ministerial Staff and Sunday School class. Continue your time with the Lord, and pray about all of your needs and concerns. Read or listen to books that help you. There are lots of books at your local Christian bookstore or online for people who are dealing with illness or loss.

Tell people when you need something. Don’t become a patient yourself because you have neglected your own well-being. If you have a private blog that only people who really care about your loved one can see, post a request for help if you need someone to run to the grocery store or do a few loads of laundry or bring in a meal. People who love you will see this and will respond when they can.

E.  HOLD ON TO HOPE!

As long as there is life, there is hope! Hope with and for your loved one! Talk of tomorrow! Make plans! Don’t give up! Sometimes people respond well to treatments. Sometimes remission comes. Sometimes an acute health crisis can be resolved and the patient can get better. Miraculous healings do happen. For your loved one who knows the Lord, healing will come! Whether it is healing of the body in the earthly life or what some people call “the ultimate healing” of eternal life with no more sickness or pain, healing will come!

My Dad held on to hope. Just a month before he died, he had decided to give his car to Travis and I. It had been sitting idle in Mom and Dad’s garage for months. When they were talking about the decision, Dad asked Mom, “But what if I get better?” and Mom replied, “Then we’ll get you a new car!” (yea, Mom!) As sick as he was, Dad had not abandoned hope of getting better. He held on to hope! The hope that he had allowed him to live as long as he did and to avoid self-pity or depression. Hold on to hope!

Years ago, Travis and I went to a Christian concert, and one of the artists was talking about a friend who had what the Doctors called “terminal cancer.” This man had a joyful attitude because he believed that the two possible scenarios for his future were to either (a) be miraculously healed or (b) be with the Lord. He held onto the Lord and held on to hope!

Finally, TRUST GOD TO HAVE THE BEST INTERESTS OF YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES WRITTEN ON HIS HEART!

Here are some scripture verses that offer comfort and hope.

  • The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18
  • Jesus said, “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” – John 16:22
  • I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. – Jeremiah 31:13
  • …weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. – Psalm 30:5
  • He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. – Psalm 147:3
  • “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you,” says the Lord. – Isaiah 66:13
  • I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” – Genesis 28:15
  • I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. – Isaiah 42:16
  • But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. – Psalm 10:14
  • And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. – 1 Peter 5:10
  • The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. – Isaiah 58:11
  • For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. – Psalm 72:12
  • This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. – 1 John 5:14
  • The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simple-hearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. – Psalm 116:5-6
  • For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. – Isaiah 49:13
  • Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. – Hebrews 4:16
  • In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. – Psalm 31:22
  • In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. – Psalm 18:6, 16
  • Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
  • The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. – Psalm 18:2
  • For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. – Psalm 22:24
  • Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief…But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” – Psalm 31:9, 14
  • A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; – Psalm 34:19
  • In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. – Psalm 22:4-5
  • For your Father knows what you need before you ask him. – Matthew 6:8
  • You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, – Psalm 10:17
  • For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver…we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance. – Psalm 66:10, 12
  • The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. – Psalm 145:17-19
  • Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. – Isaiah 54:10
  • My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. – Psalm 62:1
  • He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. – Psalm 91:1
  • 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
  • Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – I Peter 5:7
  • May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13
  • He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. – Isaiah 40:11
  • You understand, O LORD; remember me and care for me. – Jeremiah 15:15

  • Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. – Psalm 126:5-6
  • I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33
  • Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. – Psalm 55:22
  • Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. – Romans 5:1-2
  • My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. – Psalm 119:50
  • Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. – Isaiah 58:9
  • He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. – Psalm 18:19
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
  • Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings. – Psalm 17:8

We do not want you to be uninformed about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. – I Thessalonians 4:13-18

  • Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. – Psalm 46:10
  • The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. – Zephaniah 3:17
  • Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. – Psalm 51:12
  • Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. – Psalm 73:23-24
  • Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:21-23
  • For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39
  • Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills {his purpose} for me. – Psalm 57:1-2
  • I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. – Psalm 91:2
  • I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:16-19
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5:4
  • But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. – Psalm 59:16
  • He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. – Psalm 91:4
  • The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him. – Nahum 1:7
  • I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. – Psalm 27:13-14
  • The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. – Proverbs 18:10
  • The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:1-4
  • I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. – Psalm 34:4-5
  • May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight. – Psalm 119:76-77
  • I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Revelation 21:2-4
  • O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. – Psalm 63:1-3
  • And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.- Philippians 4:19
  • Answer me, O LORD, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me. Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble. – Psalm 69:16-17
  • …because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” – Hebrews 13:5-6
  • But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. – Psalm 73:28

Scripture verses copied and edited from http;//www.joeagoglia.com/resources/scriptures.asp

© Copyright 2003-2012 Justin Agoglia. All Rights Reserved.

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This post was written by Cynthia A. Boyd.
For those who love through valleys of sorrow…love and prayers to you.

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A Little Boydie told me…

Just a reg’lar Mom in a house full of boys

praise4ever

praise4ever

I'm a busy wife and mother of 7, with 6 incredible boys still at home and a beautiful married daughter. Our boys range in age from our 10 year old twins to our 22 year old. We have 2 in Elementary School, 2 in Middle School, one in High School, and one High School grad. They are all incredible and special. One of our boys has special needs. I'm a musician, singer, writer, composer, blogger, and teacher. I'm thankful for our home and family, for Travis, my amazing husband of 39 years, and for family and friends near and far. Most of all, I'm thankful for God's grace and mercy and that He has given the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

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Giving a Song to say “Thank You”

Travis L. Boyd / WorshipSounds Music

Travis L. Boyd / WorshipSounds Music

As a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband and a father of 7, and a Minister of Music and Worship, I am very blessed. For a total of 32 years, I have served as a Minister of Worship for some wonderful congregations in the states of Oklahoma, Texas, and Georgia. It is a joy to lead God's people in worshipping Him through music, and I am very blessed to serve at First Baptist Church of Duluth, Georgia. I'm also a composer, lyricist, arranger, and orchestrator, with choral anthems, songs, and orchestrations published by Shawnee Press (now with Hal Leonard), Lorenz, Choristers Guild, and Lifeway. My web-based music publishing site, WorshipSounds Music (formerly Boydbrain Music), offers Choral Anthems, Orchestrations, Congregational Praise, and Vocal Solo music. Our worship blog has become an extension of worship ministry, and it is a privelege to share information and inspiration with other worshippers. My desire is to glorify God through my life, ministry, and composition work. I believe that music is a wonderful way to communicate the truths of God's love and mercy and to glorify Him. My wife, Cindy, and I have been married for 36 years. We have 7 children. Daughter Meredith lives in Texas. Sons Jared, Zachary, Braden, Logan, Austin, and Camden range in age from 7 to 19 and are still living at home.

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