Even to the Minutiae

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A hand woven tapestry, rich with intricate details and colors…

minutiae…

  •  the small, precise, or trivial details of something
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details:

  • an individual feature, fact, or item
  • fine point, triviality, nicety
  • point, aspect, facet, component, technicality

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I never knew that the details of our fingerprints  were called Minutiae.  Below are some of the patterns used to analyze them:

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Throughout the Bible, God gives rich detail in His imagery and descriptions.  I have wondered sometimes why a fact is in the Bible, but I no longer wonder.  I read it and find amazement and beauty in the minutiae of God.

God weaves specifics into His story…

He also went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day.  2 Samuel 23:11

on a snowy day…did I need to know that?  “Yes.”

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He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine.  1 Samuel 17:40

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Did he need five stones?

So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David.
1 Samuel 17:50

He only needed one stone, but was prepared with five.

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The tiniest instructions are important:

‘Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.  Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger.  I am the LORD your God.’   Leviticus 19:9-10

God wants us to be generous and caring.  He specifies how He would like this done in our fields and vineyards, with all that we are and have.

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The details are amazingly minute, yet, for God, each part is vital to the whole:

In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the Lord.  The house that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high.  The vestibule in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits long, equal to the width of the house, and ten cubits deep in front of the house.  And he made for the house windows with recessed frames. He also built a structure against the wall of the house, running around the walls of the house, both the nave and the inner sanctuary. And he made side chambers all around.  The lowest story was five cubits broad, the middle one was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad. For around the outside of the house he made offsets on the wall in order that the supporting beams should not be inserted into the walls of the house.  When the house was built, it was with stone prepared at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard in the house while it was being built.  1 Kings 6:1-7

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Every last detail.  The Bible is filled with instructions to build up, to tear down, a way to walk and to obey, to gather manna and when.  God, You are the LORD our God.

 

May we see that God is in every small and great part of our lives:

Are the comforts of God too small for you,
or the word that deals gently with you?  Job 15:11

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And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.  Mark 12:42

Jesus knows the poverty from which she gave.

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God knows all that is, that was, and that which will be:

The little one shall become a thousand, and the small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in its time.  Isaiah 60:22

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Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Isaiah 60:22:

They will appear the more glorious, and God will be the more glorified in them, if we compare what they are with what they were, the happiness they have arrived at with the smallness of their beginnings: “A little one shall become a thousand and a small one a strong nation.’  The captives that returned out of Babylon strangely multiplied, and became a strong nation.  The Christian church was a little one, a very small one at first-the number of their names was once but 120; yet it became a thousand.  The stone cut out of the mountain without hands swelled so as to fill the earth.  The triumphant church, and every glorified saint, will be a thousand out of a little one, a strong nation out of a small one.  The grace and peace of the saints were at first like a grain of mustard-seed, but they increase and multiply, and make a little one to become a thousand, the weak to be as David.  When they come to heaven, and look back upon the smallness of their beginning, they will wonder how they got thither. 

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God cares about everything.  He created this world.  He created the beasts of the fields and the birds of the air.  He created you and me.  He wants us to trust Him, count on Him, lean on Him for everything.

He cares for us as He cares about what is in His Word.  He wants us to read each word, seeking His Truth.  The entire Word of God guides us in our way as we walk with the Author.  The entire Word of God draws us towards, and to, the Finisher of our faith.

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Father God, You are the Shepherd of my life.  You love me and care for me as if I were Your only lamb, yet I am one of 7.5 billion people on this Earth today. You love them as You love me.  I am so filled with gratitude, Father.  I am humbled by the details that are important to You.  As tiny as the lines on my fingers are, the minutiae of everything is of concern to You.  May I cling to You, learning from You as I go.  As I see, read, and hear all that concerns You, may it also concern me.  I pray that it does and will.  You wove me in Mama’s womb, knitting me together.  As a weaver places ones thread down at a time and ends up with a beautiful piece of art, You have interlaced Your life-giving threads to form me.  I am extremely complex and barely understand even a tiny bit of what is going on inside of this body, mind, spirit and soul.  You do.  Every cell is important.  Every bit of me.  Every bit of everything.  Thank You, my Gracious Father.  In the minutiae, You are there, LORD.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen. 

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Reunion at Sunset,  Hand Woven Tapestry by Maximo Laura, Alpaca, Peru

(If you have time, visit his site as he is actually weaving a piece more intricately detailed than this one on the front page.)

One Word Inspiration Quotes: Minutiae:  https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=One+Word+Inspirational+Quotes&id=78ECCF1184EC1B8A01EE48BE027DF8CA39386E59&FORM=IDBQDM

Dragonfly: Pinterest  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/361202832585754948/

Fingerprint/Minutiae:   https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=minutiae&&form=IDIVXX

snow: Pixabay  https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo

stones:  K. Gallagher https://graceintorah.net/2015/06/19/five-smooth-stones/

Wheat Field Harvest:  http://michellespahr.blogspot.com/2010/11/my-harvest-field.html

Solomon’s Temple:  Nehemiah’s Wall  https://www.nehemiaswall.com/prophet-pearls-terumah

Small Daisy:  http://randomwallpapers.net/small-daisies-macro_w643728

Mark 12:42-44  http://www.suggest-keywords.com/bWFyayAxMiA0NA/

Horses (Isaiah 60:22)   https://faithpictures.wordpress.com/

Isaiah 60:22: Crossmap.com  http://www.crossmap.com/backgrounds/isaiah-when-the-time-is-right-3850/lightbox/1920×1200

In The Park – Landscape Tapestry by Baiba Ritere  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/358247345332477548/

Why, oh Why?

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A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.  Isaiah 42:3 (+ Matthew 12:20)

He will tend His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs in His arms;
He will carry them in His bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.  Isaiah 40:11

He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.  Isaiah 40:21

Jesus cares about me. He loves me more than I can even fathom.  He does not break me.  He gathers me into His arms.  He leads me into the way I should go.  He gives me strength and power.  

YET…I doubt…I worry…I fear…I mistrust.  WHY?  Why do I doubt Him?  Why do I question whether He will provide for me?  Why do I lack the trust to know that He is always…ALWAYS…with me?  WHY?  

As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him.  Psalm 103:13

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.  Psalm 147:3

“For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”  Jeremiah 31:25

He heals me and rains compassion upon me.  He refreshes me. 

Over and over again, the Bible tells me that I can place my trust in Him completely.  I do not need to feel the scars and holes in His body to know Who He is.  I know Jesus gave His all as the most beautiful Gift possible for me, for us all and each.  I know this, yet I doubt. 

I fall by the wayside and wonder why I feel so alone.  Yet, I am not.  I am held in the Savior’s arms and know that He will never leave me nor forsake me.  He will not drop me on my head or tail. 

I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy.  I will feed them in justice.  Ezekiel 34:16

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

He gives me rest.  He gives me justice.  He carries my heavy burdens and looks for me when I am lost.  So much Jesus does for me.  He cares for me. 

I seek Your forgiveness, LORD, for my doubt, my lack of trust, my faithless spine.  I am sorry, my LORD.  I have fed myself so much self-doubt that I forget just Whose I am.  I have allowed my ears to hear lies about myself.  I shout to satan to get behind me and he does because You are with me.  I want to trust You in Your care for me.  Precious Jesus, I love You.  May my walk be along the straight and narrow pathway with You…and You alone.   Jesus, You prayed for Simon Peter and You have given the Holy Spirit to be my Intercessor.  He knows the prayers I want to utter but cannot.  He prays for me. 

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”  Luke 22:31-32

I read the many ways that God cares for me, all of the time, in so many ways, in every kind of way.  Where do I read this?  In His Word.  The Word of God is the pivotal place from which I know.  I KNOW that He loves me and cares for me because He tells me through His Word.  I KNOW His care because I feel it in my heart.  I can see it too.  I KNOW it in my head.  His Truth speaks volumes to me when I doubt…when I fall…when I mistrust…when I feel alone. 

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the Word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers.  1 Thessalonians 2:13

LORD, I thank You for loving me so perfectly.  I want the hard places in me to soften and know that You are LORD.  That this body of mine is Yours and made perfectly.  That this mind was woven by Your hands in my mother’s womb and continues to function well.  That this heart is knit with the Love of Your heart for You loved me first.  That trust, faith, love, hope all come from You.  I believe.  I truly do know that just in this one heartfelt acknowledgment…belief in You…I am so filled with all of Your gifts.  Can I trust and walk in faith?  Can I love without conditions and be loved without conditions?  Can I be filled with hope?

“It is the LORD who goes before you.  He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

You are my Hope, my Peace, my Love.  May the hard and broken parts of me open up to You for Your loving touch, for Your gentle and tough molding so that I know that I am the one You created me to be.  I want to be a gift to those I encounter as You were and are for me.  For me!  You love me and care for me.  The Bible tells me so.  Thank You.  No more whys, LORD.  I believe and I trust in You.  In the loving Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.  

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Father’s Day – 2016

MUSIC MEMORIES IN THE MIND OF MY WONDERFUL FATHER

Horace Williams, Jr. commented on a post here @ Being Woven (April 29, 2016/Memory’s Music) which so touched my heart.  It was in regards to the topic and the love he has for his father.  I have invited him to be my guest today.

In honor of Father’s Day, I welcome Horace Williams, Jr. of Pleasing to the Potter.

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My father is a wonderful man!  I am blessed to be his first born son and his namesake.  I have not written specifically about him on my site even though it was intended in the parent references I’ve made on several occasions.  My father and I have a very unique relationship but as I have grown older and wiser, my desire is to live like he lives in representing Jesus Christ.

Today, I want to share with you some highlights so you can know him a little better and then I will convey how music has impacted my father’s life and continues to do so.  Growing up as a child, I can remember my father and his love for classical music.  I did not really understand it at that time and I can remember thinking where are the words?  How can you listen to music with no words, I would ask myself?  Two of his favorite composers are Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.

I admit as I got older I began to understand his affinity for classical music.  In fact, I am listening to one of my favorites (Tchaikovsky) right now as I type this.  He composed so many great pieces of music such as The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and my favorite, his Piano Concerto No. 1.  As a former piano player myself, I can only dream to have played like this, but I digress!  Now back to my father.  Here are some highlights to give you a “peek” into just who he is.

Fantastic facts about my Father:

Faithful Husband.  Dad and Mom celebrated their 50th wedding Anniversary this year!

Fantastic Father of five children.

Fortunate Grandpa to 11 amazing grandchildren.  I say fortunate because my parents had to be wondering if I would ever give them a grandchild.  I think my mom stopped asking me fifteen years ago!

Fluent in 4 languages. (at one time he was) English, Spanish, French, and German

First class Army Veteran.  Dad was a distinguished Army Captain of the MP’s during the time of the Vietnam War.

Former Pastor, Church planter, and Home Missionary.  It was during my dad’s time in the Army that He came to know Christ as his Lord and Savior and felt led to attend Bible College.  He then became a Home Missionary as God directed him to start a church.

Free Taxi Driver.  I can still remember either dropping me off or picking me up in the wee hours of the night from work regardless of how many hours he had worked that day.

Frequently Awkward Adviser.  I think because my father saw us as so different, he had a hard time figuring me out at times.  Although he always advised me in love growing up, our differences made it hard on him at times.  For example, I loved playing sports; he played in the band.  He loved Sci-fi movies and I prefer a great mystery or love story.  Oh, how I wish I had listened to those “awkward” conversations growing up.  Looking back now, they were filled with such Godly wisdom.

Fighting a difficult battle with the debilitating Alzheimer’s disease.  Yes, you read correctly.  My father now suffers from Alzheimer’s.  A few years ago my father was t-boned while driving my car as I was recovering from the stroke.  My car was totaled; he was okay, just a little shaken.  It was at that moment we wondered if there might be something wrong with the safest driver I have ever known.  I remember the day he told me his diagnosis was confirmed.  He kept repeating it to anyone who would listen… I have Alzheimer’s.  It broke my heart!

As I watch Alzheimer’s progressively attack my father’s brain, I go to God in prayer asking for peace in my father’s mind.  I do not understand the disease and I’m not sure anyone does.  I’ve read research articles and reports on the subject.  It was stated in one article that sometimes Alzheimer sufferers remember things buried in their heart.

 

I feel my father’s love when he greets me with a kiss and calls me by my name.  His love for music is still evident.  For our parent’s 50th anniversary, all of my siblings pitched in and we got them tickets to the symphony.  It was a performance of both Beethoven and Mozart.  My mom said he absolutely loved it!  He sat still for the entire two-hour performance and did not move a muscle!  (I would include a picture but they are all pretty dark.)

Dad and Mom- Memory Post Dad

Mom also plays the local classical music station when they are driving as too much talking seems to perturb him at times.  My father has always been a fan of the “old school” hymns.  He never really has been a fan of the contemporary Christian music.  He loves hymns like The Old Rugged Cross and How Great Thou Art.  One hymn that has special meaning and seems to have stayed with him through everything is My Hope is Built on Nothing Less.  It is a beautiful and inspiring hymn from the 1800’s, a song overflowing with hope in Jesus and our foundation in Him.

Just a few days ago we all went to visit our parents.  He sat down in the chair next to me and asked me how I was doing.  I told him I was feeling okay, but was having a little pain.  He looked me in the eye and recited the first verse of this song to me.  It was all I could do to keep from crying.  I got up and kissed him on the forehead as I whispered, I love you, Dad.  I’m not sure I will ever understand why this is happening to such a kind, loving, and brilliant man with a heart for God.  I trust my Father in Heaven and I ask Him that He bless my earthly father with peace of mind…even if it’s the few minutes of listening to or hearing his favorite songs.

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I’ve included a beautiful video of the song my dad recites to me every time he sees me.  I pray you are encouraged and inspired.  Please pray for my father and grace for my mother.

Blessings to you and yours,

Horace Williams Jr.

Jr at 40-Edited-2015

Bio

I am a single, Christian man who loves the Lord Jesus with all his heart.  I am also the oldest of five siblings.  In the Summer of 2010, I suffered a devastating stroke that could have taken my life.  My entire left side was paralyzed due to a ruptured blood vessel in my brain!  However, God has given me a second chance and I want to glorify Him every day.  As my love for Christ grows deeper, it’s my desire to share my faith with others.  I pray you find help, inspiration, and encouragement as I share with you about the transforming power and love of God.

www.PleasingtothePotter.com

Resting – Sheep and Shepherds

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He makes me lie down in green pastures.  Psalm 23:2a

Sheep will lie down when they are:

  • free from fear
  • free from friction (within the flock)
  • free of pests (flies, parasites, etc.)
  • free from hunger

The shepherd makes it possible for sheep to lie down, to rest, to be quiet, content, and relaxed.

* Free from fear

Sheep are timid and can be panicked so very easily.  A jackrabbit can bound before a flock, sending them all into a stampede.  Most do not know what they are fleeing, but follow in fright.

  • Sheep are quieted and reassured when they actually see their shepherd, knowing he or she is near.

* Free from friction

Sheep, like most animals, have an order of dominance within the flock.  Shepherds call this the “butting order.”  This may bring tension, rivalry, conflict, even cruelty within the flock.  The sheep are always ready to defend their place in that order or against intruders.

  • The shepherd’s presence calms them.  They tend to forget their contests and discontent.  The less aggressive sheep will be more content as well as more restful and calm.  Sheep do not need to defend themselves when the shepherd is around.

* Free from pests

Sheep can be tormented by a number of insects and parasites.  It is virtually impossible for them to lie down and rest when this occurs.  They are shaking their heads, stamping around, always up on their feet.

  • A good shepherd is diligent to keep his flock free from these pests.  Insect repellents, dips, and other methods of care are most important to the sheep’s health.  The shepherd is in and among his flock, keeping a watchful eye for problems.  He wants to catch them early so as not to allow them to spread or cause serious disease in the flock.  He is there to provide relief.

* Free from hunger

Sheep will remain on their feet as long as they are hungry.  They are not content while they search for food.

  • David was a shepherd boy before he was a king.  He raised his father’s flocks in an arid, barren land.  Green pastures of rich foliage needed to be produced in such a place.  A shepherd works hard to clear land of rocks and brush.  The land is then plowed and prepared for seeds of grass, grain and legumes.  Watering the grasses is part of this preparation.  The sheep need to be moved from one pasture to another as they will eat the grasses down to stubble, even into the root, if left in one area for too long.  When sheep have this land of plenty, they flourish for they fill up quickly and then will lie down to rest and ruminate.

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How does our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, guide us into rest?

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.  Psalm 4:8

* Free from fear

We live in a world where anxiety, fear, and stress often knock upon our doors.  We can dwell upon these things or we can rest in the Lord.  When we are in the midst of those overwhelming feelings, it is truly hard to draw near to the One Who shepherds us.  We tend to run without knowing what we run from or stand still while shaking in our boots.   Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit Who reassures us that Christ is near, has all things under His control.  We do not need to do anything but rest in Him.

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.  2 Timothy 1:7

“It is the special office work of God’s gracious Spirit to convey this sense of the Christ to our fearful hearts.  He comes quietly to reassure us that Christ Himself is aware of our dilemma and deeply involved in it with us.”  W. Phillip Keller

* Free from friction

We also can live in friction.  We struggle with competition, keeping up with our neighbors, jealousy, hatred, rivalry, covetousness, and discontent.  When we are near to our Shepherd, in prayer, in reading His Word, in communion, in love, His Presence takes the discontent, hatred, and all else away.  Abiding in the One Who is worthy to be praised removes those feelings because we are praising Him, loving Him, and walking with Him.

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.  He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.  But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.  1 Timothy 6:3-7

And He said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  Luke 12:15

“It is the humble heart walking quietly and contentedly in the close and intimate companionship of Christ that is at rest, that can relax, simply glad to lie down and let the world go by.  When my eyes are on my Master they are not on those around me.  This is the place of peace.”   W. Phillip Keller

* Free from pests

We live with many small irritations, things that “bug” us.  They may include disagreements with family members or friends, frustrations in traffic or at work, irritations that keep us awake at night.  Our tendency is to hash and rehash things while they keep us restless.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:26-28

We have been given the Holy Spirit for intercession.  He is there for us.

“In Scripture He is often symbolized by oil — by that which brings healing and comfort and relief from harsh and abrasive aspects of life.  The gracious Holy Spirit makes real in me the very presence of Christ.  He brings quietness, serenity, strength and calmness in the face of frustrations and futility.”  W. Phillip Keller 

Resting in the Shepherd  by trusting Him with our cares and concerns is vital.

* Free from hunger

We have been given salvation and life in Christ.  He is our Shepherd, the Good Shepherd.  We have been given the gift to move from our sin into a life of overcoming victory.  Jesus desires a life of abundant joy and contentment for us if we will come to Him.  He will provide those green pastures.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”  Matthew 5:6

Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.”  John 6:35

“How He works to clear the life of rocks of stoney unbelief.  How He tries to tear out the roots of bitterness.  He attempts to break up the hard, proud human heart that is set like sun-dried clay.  He then sows the seed of His own precious Word, which, if given half a chance to grow, will produce rich crops of contentment and peace.  He waters this with the dews and rain of His own presence by the Holy Spirit.  He tends and cares and cultivates the life, longing to see it become rich and green and productive.”  W. Phillip Keller

Our Good Shepherd prepares and then leads us to the lush green pastures where we can feed on His Word and rest in Him.

Will we follow Him there?

Will we obey His lead?

Father, I pray that this is so.  I ask You to open our eyes to the One Who gave His life for us.  He is our Shepherd.  I pray that we will obediently follow Him to these beautiful pastures of His loving care.  I pray that we will feed upon Your Word ravenously.  I pray that we will know the feeling of fulfillment so that our time of rest is calm, peaceful, filled with contentment.  Thank You, Father, for the words and thoughts of Mr. Keller for he has taught beautifully while Your Word is a fountain of knowledge from You.  I am grateful for this pasture.  I lie in it more often than not.  May I call upon Your Holy Spirit when I stray, finding myself lost.  I want to lie in it always.  Thank You, Lord, for being my Shepherd.  Thank You for Your forgiveness.  You are Beautiful to me, Lord Jesus.  I pray in Your Holy Name.  Amen.

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Photo 1:  https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=sheep+lie+down&view=detailv2&&id=9BC7072561ABB6981FAA1618A883ACE23BB9525E&selectedIndex=33&ccid=8gPrAn%2fY&simid=608030665586708327&thid=OIP.Mf203eb027fd81a768de47d6d20879251H0&ajaxhist=0

Photo 2: by Biegun Wschodni  https://unsplash.com/photos/vD3L-rN_qNw

and http://www.biegunwschodni.pl/?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unsplash

Quotes from A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm by W. Phillip Keller

W. Phillip Keller, author of A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm, is due credit for the outline of this post. The 4 points of freedom are from this book.

We Need Laughter

Mom- feb 2009 003_zpsfddathxaMoments to Lighten Up While Caregiving

“…And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Are you a caregiver of one whom is losing their mental abilities, maybe slowly, maybe rapidly? Are you caring for one who is confused often? who gets angry, who can no longer tie their shoelaces, who hides things and then accuses another of stealing? Or are you a giver of care for one with such physical needs that you, yourself, are physically exhausted much of the time? Are you caring for one who…? …and the list goes on and on.

Caring for my mother for fifteen years tested my patience sometimes. I loved her no less. It was not Mama that I lost patience over, but it was the disease of dementia that shortened my fuse. Dementia was taking my parent away from me gradually and, sometimes, in harsh, ever-changing ways. Some days, Mama was clear-minded and in such a sweet place. Other days, she was confused, or angry, or short- tempered. She was usually not upset with me, but upset with her condition, her world. I could not care for her at home as my health, my back, would not allow it. I could not lift her. So she had to live where others would be caring for her more than I would, although I was with her most every day. Mama wore diapers. Mama slept a lot; she was vibrantly alert; she acted A.D.H.D.; she confused people, rooms, times; she used words she NEVER would use before and said things that I could not believe she said … OUTLOUD! I never knew who I was going to find when I arrived to see her.

Caregiving is exhausting, can be filled with love, is stressful, demands room for patience, and has plenty of room for impatience.  Caregiving NEEDS space for laughter!  Yes, I said LAUGHTER!  When Mama needed help and I would almost fall upon her, she would say, “Wow! sister, be careful. You almost fell on me. I wonder what would happen if you did?” And then I cuddled her and we both laughed. She would burp loudly and say, “I never used to do that so much, but I guess I can since I am 97!” And we laughed together! Moments like these would make the giving of care lighter, sweeter, even more loving. People with dementia can be funny as themselves, providing just the words or actions for laughter. Or one with autism may make a cute or funny face, giving a sweet second for laughter to erupt. Comments are often made that are so out of context by the one being cared for and when said aside from the actual incident, situation, or even television program, laughter just may be the answer. Whatever the incident, try to use it to be a laughable moment. No one may even know why they are laughing but it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter.

Did you know that laughter reduces stress? increases circulation? decreases blood pressure? relaxes muscles? reduces pain by increasing the endorphins in the bloodstream? Laughter has many more wonderful qualities, giving our bodies and our minds moments of relief, pleasure, and time out.

Absurdity changes the moment from arduously serious into life bursting anew:
“You find your car keys in the freezer.”

“Your wife tries to pay for groceries by pulling out a sanitary pad from her purse.”

“Your husband spends his afternoons “debating” the man in the hall mirror (the “nice fella” who happens to look exactly like him).”

A woman, standing in her doorway, hollering at the Medication Aide for some ‘Viagra’ when she meant ‘Allegra’ for her runny nose! (This one actually was my mother!! Yes MY Mother! My dear mother gave the staff a moment of laughter too!…along with any family members who happened to be in the hallway at that moment!! Mama had been watching far too many ads on television.)  Of course, the staff had to tell me this great story too which I continue to pass along!

You’ve gotta LAUGH! Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects. ~ Arnold Glasow

Laughter helps us walk through those tough times. Laughing with the one we care for and about also helps.

Loretta, a precious woman, would spend a couple of hours twice a week with Mama, as a caregiver, giving me those evenings with my husband. Some nights, Mama loved having her there, introducing her to everyone as “my friend.” Other nights, Mama just wanted to sleep. On those nights, Mama would tell Loretta, “If you are going to talk, I am leaving this room!” Loretta would chuckle to herself and say, “Then I will follow you wherever you go!” Mama would just close her eyes as a grin began to take shape knowing that her “friend, Loretta” would do just that!

The one who is now living in diapers who felt dignity has all but walked out the door, or the one who fell again, or the one who cannot speak words that once flowed easily from their mouth needs laughter and love. Watch a funny movie together, or call a friend who can make laughter erupt, or bring a child into the room who loves to make others smile. Laughter is a key to taking a hard situation and turning it around for even just moments. It is vital for the one being cared for, the giver of care, as well as some of the staff who happen to be in hearing range.

A laugh is a smile that bursts. ~ Mary H. Waldrip

In the assisted living facility, Mr. H. wanted the blinds up at mealtime so he could look outside. Mama faced the window and wanted them down because the sun was too bright. Rather than move around the table, she got up and lowered the blinds. Mr. H. raised them back, and Mama lowered them. This went on a few more times before Mama hauled off and hit Mr. H. She did not hurt him but both daughters had to be called like a parent is called to school. A meeting was held with the director, Mama, and me where Mama was told the rules and scolded. We also were told that this could not happen again as they could not keep her at this facility. As we walked out of the meeting, Mama quickly got ahead of me by about ten feet and said, under her breath, but loud enough, “Your mother’s Italian got the better of her.” I had to smile and thought to myself, “And your Irish too!”

Laughter is an instant vacation. ~ Milton Berle

Sometimes, taking every moment seriously just wore me down so I needed these breaks! Now, two years after Mama has gone to be with the LORD, I am still chuckling at some of the moments that brought laughter. I still hold onto our preciously sweet moments too. God is gracious as He allows a caregiver’s memory of the hard stuff to recede further from the surface as He brings the sweet and laughable memories to the top. I am so thankful to our God for that.

“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations,The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.”  Psalm 126:2-3

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!  Psalm 126:5

Father God, You gave me the miracle of seeing You in ALL–in the small, everyday moments, and in the huge, mountaintop moments. I give thanks for the moment-by-moment love I had for my Mama and the love she had for me. Thank You for the laughter we shared, for the combing of her hair to calm her down, for the kiss on her forehead, and for the big hug she’d give me with such an “I love you, my firstborn.” You are restoring the years that wore me down by giving me a harvest of memories of the love and joy my mother brought to me, by reminding me of my dear parents and how much they wanted me. You satisfy me and I praise the Name of the Lord, my God. You have dealt wondrously with me, Father. Thank You. I lift each one here today who needs Your hand in their life. They may be caring for someone with dementia or cancer or autism. You know, Father. They need the joy of the LORD. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

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You Did It To Me

For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You?  And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.’   Matthew 25:35-40

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I have just finished reading “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck, written in 1939.  Prior to that book, I read “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, written in 2014.  In this world today…my heart, my eyes, my ears see and sense injustice, inequality, desperation in trying to migrate or to escape across waters and harsh lands, living in war-torn countries, starvation, sex and slave trafficking, and this list goes on and on.  I also see the good and the great, but these books have focused my attention on these harder issues.

The first of these books wraps around the issues of migrant farm work back in the Dust Bowl period and the Depression.  The misuse of land, bank loans, and then corporations getting the land of small farmers, set these families off their land.   When they saw handbills advertising workers were needed in the rich, fertile valleys of California, far too many went out there without enough work for all.  Then corruption reared its ugly head all across the state in many forms.  The circumstances of it all broke the spirits of many of these people, yet many overcame as best they could to survive.

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The second book is about a lawyer who meets prisoners on death row.  These men come together when Bryan Stevenson goes to the South for a month-long class while attending Harvard Law School.  He meets men who have been locked up in solitary confinement for years upon years.  Eventually, the ones in the book are found to be innocent, yet never had the council necessary to have a fair trial.  People in authority used their powers unjustly to lock up innocent people to keep the guilty out of prison or to keep their own name from coming under ridicule when they did not arrest a guilty party.

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Although one book is fiction, it is based on events over years and of many that actually did occur.  It is like a composite of the times.  The other is nonfiction.  My heart strings have been pulled immensely these weeks.  I am sad for the injustice that took place so long ago in many situations, and still takes place to this very day.

Jesus calls us to feed the hungry, to visit prisoners, to welcome a stranger.  When we look around, there seems so very much that needs to be done.  Overwhelming, indeed.  And we often sit still, doing nothing because we don’t know where to begin or it seems like too daunting of a task.  Bryan S. thought such thoughts, but he began with one prisoner.  Casy, in Steinbeck’s book, stood up for the downtrodden who were being underpaid, overworked, and betrayed because someone else was willing to do their job for less so the wealthy landowners hired the new ones for half the price and forced the others to take that same pay or get out.  Tom Joad, a main character, planned to take up that mantle after Casy was killed in trying.  Tom was willing to risk it all.

Risking is hard.  Yet…can we lift a hand to help another?  Can we offer a drink of water?  Can we feed the starving?  Can we bring Jesus to the hearts of the lost?  Will we?

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Father, I ask Your forgiveness for all of the open doors I have walked passed, missing the golden moments to offer help.  And thank You for giving me an opportunity to feed one from Cuba recently when he asked for money for food.  We were just outside a cafe so I invited him in and bought his lunch. He was most grateful.  You blessed me, LORD, for this man truly wanted a meal.  My cynicism creeps in when so many have a hand out with looks of drug and alcohol abuse.  My trust in their request is zero for I judge them and think I know what it is they really want.  Guide me to those who You want me to help.  I trust in You and You alone.  Then I will know.  Father, take me by the hand and teach me Your ways that I will see Jesus in these with a need.  I don’t want to get to Heaven and find out just how many, many times I have missed Him here on this earth.  I know I will have missed many, but I don’t want to add to that number now.  I lift this prayer to You in Your Son’s Name. Amen. 

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Martin Luther King, Jr. photo:  https://www.facebook.com/RevivalAmerica

Charles Dickens’ Quote:  http://www.verybestquotes.com

Caring for the Caregiver – Part 2

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One of the very first things a giver of care should think about doing for herself/himself is to find quiet … find the calm center of the storm, find peace in your mind and heart. Finding quiet is calming down, letting the mind focus on the Lord. Find a physical peaceful setting or find one in your mind. Get away to a quiet place even for an hour, go for a walk, sit-down for a time in the park or in a coffee shop, or soak in a hot bath. This usually means being alone for a time.

As we begin to quiet ourselves, we usually need to allow the voices, the day’s busy-ness, the stresses of the daily activity roll through our minds, our hearts, and then gradually let it slide away. When these things pop back up, let them go again. Rather than getting upset that we keep bringing the stresses back up, allow them there and then release them again, each time allowing it to remain for shorter periods. It will subside if we let it. Remember, these concerns, issues, words spoken, or words left unspoken, may be issues that have already been resolved, may be un-resolvable right now and need setting aside, or may not even be of our business! Listening and reviewing the day can allow us to step back, look at things from a different perspective, and take some or all of the emotion out of an issue. Then give these things to Jesus. He asks for them. “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

During the quiet, take time to look at your personal needs. You may be a parent. You may be homeschooling your children. You may hold a full or part-time job. You may have more than one person you are taking care of. You may be married, single, divorced, going through problems in relationship. All kinds of personal concerns surround us. So time may be of the essence and you may think, “I don’t have time for me, Linda. I cannot even begin to do any more and now you want me to take care of myself.” Well, yes, I do. And I know it well. (When I moved Mama here from California, I worked full-time, had been married only 5 years so still felt like a newlywed! Mama needed help in so many ways. Besides her regular medications, the doctor placed her on insulin within the first year here. Her dementia worsened and giving herself insulin became a problem as she would forget or think she had already given herself the shot. I was running over to her place (in a senior residence) twice a day taking her blood sugar and then giving her a shot. My workplace was 12 miles away. My hours were odd two days a week so I had to teach my husband how to do this too. Bless his heart … imagine talking to your mother-in-law and reminding her to take her blood sugar and then measuring the insulin and handing her the syringe? Not easy, I know! My mother was rather strong headed, too! But it had to be done, and we did it and much, much more!

Well, back to our needs. Time or not, we must find some for our care or we cannot care for others. What do you do for yourself? What do you need for yourself? Do you eat nutritionally? Is there a way to do that better? Are you able to exercise? Can you make time to take a class of aerobics, yoga, Pilates, walk regularly…the type that would make you feel better after it was over? You don’t need more stress and taking a class that you feel is a “should” will not be a help to you. Can you watch a video of yoga or stretching at home to help you relax some? Do you have time for family, for friends? How can you make quality time with the people you love and who love you and care about you? Are there hobbies that help you relax … reading, crocheting, quilting, baking, taking a Bible study? What do you enjoy … riding your bicycle, walking on the beach, visiting others, …? And the most important piece of this pie is to spend time with the LORD…sitting at His feet. You don’t have to talk with Him or do anything in particular. Just sit at His feet. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:39-42

Setting time for enjoyable, relaxing treats is so key to a caregiver’s well-being. Caring for another can zap all of your energy, leaving you lifeless. If we are good at caring for others then we surely must learn to care for ourselves. Begin by making an appointment with yourself, spending time writing down those things that are important to you for your well-being. Once a list is in print, prioritize them either by most important to least, or by the amount of time it takes to do each, or how often you would want to do each. Begin doing one thing on your list. Calendar things in daily, weekly, monthly … make it work for you. If you cannot do anything every day, then begin with weekly or every other day. Gradually, work the most important things into your world so you will feel better. And when you cannot do something, please, PLEASE, do not feel guilty. Guilt is the last thing you need.

You are important! YES! You are IMPORTANT! And caring for yourself is a part of caregiving for others that gets neglected far too easily. How can we be wholly there for others when we can barely be there for ourselves? Take time to begin. Just begin!

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.  Isaiah 43:2-3a

God tells His people that He will be with us as we walk through the fires of life.  Fires burn, but they also purify, refine.  Caregiving is not easy.  In fact, it is painfully difficult at times, and exhausting.  Yet, He is with us and will not let the fires consume us.  The waters will not drown us.
Father, hear our prayers. We need You and want You in these times of giving care to others. Father, You are our Shepherd and LORD.  Give us the abilities needed for the task. Fill our hearts with Your love so that we may care for those You love, for those who need help, who are unable to do for themselves any longer.  Father, guide us in ways to care for ourselves that we would be more able to be the caregiver whom You have called … able to be patient, loving, kind, gentle, and joyful too. May Your fruits of the Spirit shine through us in all that we are and do for others. Father, give us calm and peace, and may we be the Christ in the eyes of these precious ones of Yours.  In Jesus’ Name we pray and we love.  Amen.

 

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