Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A Slow Burn

I didn't find complete resolution in the pages. I didn't find the happy ending I longed for. But I found Emory's end of herself--with the hope that her life after Daisy and other losses can resurrect into something meaningful and beautiful.

Emory Chance is a broken, bitter, disappointed woman. Her only escape from her miserable childhood has been drugs. Now that Daisy, her innocent daughter, has been murdered, Emory is left with the guilt of being an inadequate mother.
She fears she is doomed
to live her life in regret, shadowed by the same failures her mother thrust on her.

A man more like Jesus than anyone she's ever known, Hixon accepts her and woos her without condition of her returning his attentions. Ouisie Pepper continues to be her friend, even when Emory's terrible secret regarding the Peppers is uncovered. Emory's greatest problem is that she can't receive the acceptance and forgiveness she's offered. Too late, she comprehends the best offer she ever got. And the mercy and peace surrounding her newest loss brings Emory her first glimmer of hope.

--Karen H. Phillips

The Mutual Sacrifice

In recent months, my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and underwent major surgery. After he'd recuperated enough to undergo chemotherapy, my mother began the arduous process of cooking from scratch the healthiest foods she could find and accompanying him to every doctor's appointment and every chemo treatment. She put aside her own needs to make sure every need of his was met.

Often, the physical and emotional stress made my dad irritable. Mom took this in stride, only once showing some anger in return. His attitude and behavior hurt her feelings, but she continued to do all she did out of love.

A few weeks after my dad had finished his chemotherapy, my mom suffered a major stroke. Suddenly my dad was the caregiver. As Mom recovered, he didn't always exhibited a noble attitude about this role, but he did faithfully execute tasks he knows little about--grocery shopping, caring for their dog, banking, running errands. He has been especially fastidious about questioning her doctors and following up on all her medication dosages, daily counting out her supplements and prescriptions meds.

I know their unselfish care of each other is one of the major factors today in my parents' recovered health.

Links for A Slow Burn and Mary E. DeMuth:

Thursday, October 01, 2009


What to Do When the Lights Go Out
by Cec Murphey
If you sincerely desire to follow Jesus Christ, life won't always be easy. Many times the Bible promises victory, and you may need to remind yourself that there can be no victory without struggling and overcoming obstacles.
In my book, I used the image of God turning out the lights because that was how I perceived the situation. I felt as if I walked in darkness for 18 months. We all interact differently with God, and my experience won't be the same as yours. Even so, most serious Christians have times when God seems to turn away or stops listening. And we feel alone.
Perhaps it's like the time the Israelites cried out to God for many years because of the Egyptian oppression. "God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise...and knew it was time to act" (Exodus 2:24 NLT). God hadn't forgotten, of course, but from their perspective, that's how it must have seemed. It may seem like that to you if you're going through your own form of darkness.
Here are a few suggestions to help you:
1. Ask God this simple question: "Have I knocked out the lights by my failures? Have I sinned against you? After you ask the question, listen. Give God the opportunity to speak to you.
2. Don't see this as divine punishment (unless God shows you it is), but consider the silence an act of divine love to move you forward. This is God's method to teach you and stretch you.
3. Avoid asking why. You don't need reasons and explanations--and you probably won't get them anyway. Instead, remind yourself that this temporary darkness is to prepare you for greater light.
4. Say as little as possible to your friends. Most friends will want to "fix" you or heal you and they can't. They may offer advice (often not helpful) or make you feel worse ("Are you sure everything is right between you and God?").
5. Stay with the "means of grace." That is, don't neglect worship with other believers even if you feel empty. Read your Bible even if you can't find anything meaningful.
I chose to read Lamentations and Psalms (several times, especially Lamentations) because they expressed some of the pain and despair I felt.
6. If you don't have a daily prayer time, start one. Perhaps something as short as three minutes--and do it daily. Talk honestly to God. It's all right to get angry. (Read the Psalms if you're hesitant.)
7. Remind yourself, "I am in God's hands. This is where I belong and I'll stay in the blackout until I'm ready to move forward."
8. Pray these words daily: "But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults" (Psalm 19:12 TNIV). Some versions say "secret sins." These are failures and sins of which you may not yet be aware. One of the purposes of your darkness may be to bring those hidden problems to light.
9. Ask God, "What do you want me to learn from this experience?" You may not get an answer, but it's still a good question. Continue to ask--even after the lights go back on again. If you're open, you will learn more about yourself and also about God.
10. As you receive "light" about yourself while walking in darkness, remind yourself, God has always known and still loves me.