He is Able!

While reading through my bible study “Stronger” by Angela Thomas, she speaks about the faith of the paralyzed man as depicted in the New Testament story found in Mark Chapter 2.

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.  Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.  Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now, in our study Angela talks about the faith of the paralyzed man and while I, too, have much to learn from the faith exhibited through his character, I find myself looking at the faith and determination of his friends. We all have people in our lives that are struggling, truly struggling whether that’s physical illness or emotional brokenness and the only peace they are going to find is from the Spirit of the Lord! I have recently found myself surrounded by dear friends that are struggling in areas such as finding one’s identity, unemployment, and infertility. I have no expertise in any of these areas and I am not equipped to counsel these friends in how to cope with such but I find encouragement in the above passage and in the example given by those friends. 

When I lost my mom, I found myself in a state of desperation. I had experienced loss before but this was different. I had no idea how to function. I handled it well on the outside (I think?) but I was really having a hard time figuring out how to find my new normal. However, I had friends who were there for me and who were instrumental in that season of my life. One of them never left my side for days – seriously, slept on my couch and walked that journey with me each step of the way. One invited me out to my happy place to have a few days to get away and gave wise counsel. One drove 2 hours multiple times in the first few months after her passing just to spend time with me and be there for me to talk about what I was experiencing. One simply cleaned my room for me while I was away from my apartment – a simple act of service that meant more than words could say. Two showed up on my first birthday without my mom unannounced with flowers and laughter and listening ears – which was a gift I could never repay. Two others had walked in my shoes a couple years before and gave priceless advice as to different emotions she had felt and how she dealt with them which made me feel like I wasn’t alone in my grief. 

While each of these friends exhibited Christ’s character in different ways, they each were and still are vital in my healing process. They literally picked up my mat of despair and carried me to the feet of Jesus. We don’t have the answers for the heartache and the worry but we do know the one who does. We must bind up our friends in their brokenness and physically carry them to the throne of Grace. He is able! He is able to heal and He is able to equip each of us with the wisdom needed to serve our friends in their time of need! You may feel inadequate to help a friend in need and let’s be honest, in our own strength, we are inadequate but He will empower us with His strength to bring peace and comfort to His children. 

Who do you know that needs healing? How can you carry them to the feet of Jesus? It is easy to say “I don’t have anything to say to help her.” or “I can’t do anything to help her.” but I’m here to tell you that God has gifted us all with ways that we can be a blessing to others in times of distress. Maybe you don’t have anything to say? Don’t try. But I’m sure you can think of something outside of the box that you can do that meet a need that friend may have. They need to eat. They need to clean their house and their car and they don’t have the energy to do any of these things. They need prayer. They need to be in God’s word. They need to know they are thought of and need to be encouraged by God’s word. You can send your friend an encouraging card. You can take them to lunch.

May we seek the Lord and His wisdom in how we can bind up our brothers and sisters in Christ and carry them to the feet of Jesus for He is able!

-C

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Something’s Missing.

As I sit on my couch wrapped up in Maw’s quilt and sip my coffee, I look down at my left hand and I notice something different. It’s been there over a week now and yet I still find myself catching my breath when I look down and see it shine. This new piece of jewelry brings so much emotion and it has taken me this long to really articulate what’s going on inside of me. Part of why it has taken me so long is that I have been working keeping my mind occupied with details of our upcoming festivities and trying to plan out as much as possible in the first few weeks so that the rest of the time can be spent a little more relaxed. Now that I’ve had a day off of work and have had some downtime, the reality is setting in.

I’m a new girl. I’m ENGAGED! I’m spoken for. I’m betrothed. I SAID YES! (Well technically, I said “Is this real life?” but eventually said YES!) I am going to be a wife and we are going to spend our days making each other more aware of ways that we can be more like Christ as we serve Christ and His church. I will be gaining a new family, a new last name, will be monogramming different letters and as exciting as it is that the days I’ve dreamt of since I was a little girl are upon us, I’m still missing something. Something big.

See, I am no newbie to this whole “planning a wedding” thing. While I have never officially planned my own, I have sat with girls and their mothers as they came into my mom’s flower shop and we went over every detail. I have stood next to Maw as she decorated countless brides’ wedding cakes with little roses and swirls. I have loaded glassware and candelabras and linens into our van headed to make some girl’s dream come true. I have stood at the back doors of the church and told the flower girl when it was her time to walk down the aisle and I have washed dishes, finished off the last of the punch and loaded all of that equipment back in the van for us to go home when it was all finished. And now that it’s my turn, I want all of those things for my own day.

I want to see my mom wrapping boutonnieres for my groom and his groomsman. I want to run into Maw’s house like I did after school as a kid and dig into the bowl of “cake scraps” as we called it and devour the little shavings that were sliced off the top and sides to get the tiers perfect. I want to hear mom yelling at my dad over the phone because he can’t follow her directions to deliver the centerpieces to the right venue for the reception. (I mean, how hard is it to “turn on the second OR third street to the right OR maybe left, the one next to the big tree”?) I want to fight with my mom over whether or not the confetti roses are coral enough to fit into my color scheme and I want to quote “Steel Magnolias” and watch “Father of the Bride” over and over again in the flower shop as we pull this thing off.

But here I am. Planning what will be, no doubt, the happiest day of my life without them and it just feels wrong. I am so completely ecstatic to be marrying M and spending my life with him but doing it without my mom and dad and without my grandmothers and grandfather, without my aunts and uncle just feels wrong.

But I am grateful. I am grateful to have learned from them. I am grateful to have a piece of them within my spirit. I am grateful to still have my siblings and folks that are just like family to do this with me. And I am grateful to know that the spirit of the Lord brings freedom from pain, freedom from grief, freedom from anxiety and brings peace as my days grow chaotic. May my focus be on finding comfort in Him when the pain grows unbearable and on making much of Him as we bring praise to God and offer our thanks for His work in mine and M’s life thus far and as we dedicate our marriage to His Glory.

Please do lift me up in prayer. Grief comes in waves and as I have come so very far in allowing God to heal me in my brokenness, this new chapter in my life brings a new dimension to my healing process. Also, be praying for us as we plan our special day. We are working on a tight budget and are doing everything we can to keep it simple while still having a day where our closest friends and family can come and celebrate this time with us. November 1st will be here before we know it!

-C

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