Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 31: HOPE

Our Give-Away for Today!

Praying God's Word for Your Husband

Women often offer up polite prayers to God without any real hope of seeing change in their marriage, their husbands, or themselves. Kathi Lipp directs women to Scripture and shows wives how to pray God’s Word boldly and in full confidence of seeing God-sized results. 

With a light touch and an approachable style, Kathi shows women what a blessing it is to pray for their husbands, addressing specific concerns, like praying for his

  • parenting
  • career and finances
  • relationship with God and others
  • emotional health
  • future
  • and more
Kathi shows readers how to stop feeling helpless and start making a difference in their husbands’ lives through bold, expectant prayer, whether they are new believers or have been walking with God for years.
Kathi Lipp is a full-time speaker and writer as well as being the parent of four young adults with her husband, Roger in San Jose, CA. When she is not doing laundry, she is speaking at retreats, conferences and women's events across the US. Find out more about Kathi, and get some great freebies, at and Facebook 

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Am I making any progress?!? 

The ol' 2-steps-forward and 3-steps-back routine can feel like I'm always losing ground. 

Even when I'm gaining.

Today, I'm sharing two pieces of writing that give me hope. The first is a poem I wrote in early 2010 while wrestling with my mother's Alzheimer's Disease. The second is a blog post I wrote in September 2011, reflecting on the same issue.
When I compare these pieces, written about a year and a half apart, I see how far God has brought me on this journey. 
And I have renewed hope that “he who began a good work...will carry it on to completion”!
Letting Go
(written in early 2010)
After bedtime, in the dark
gripping the edge of my crib
calling, calling, calling out
as I so often did:

I want you!
I need you!"
Silence, looming silence,
mocks me in reply.
I raise my voice, bravely
mustering yet another try:
I want you!
I need you!"

Hours later (so it feels)
exhausted by my fears
I let go, sit down,
find my blankie,
dissolving into tears.
* * * * *
Her frail unsteady body
barricades the door.
Voice breaking, eyes glistening
she pleads with me once more:
“I don’t want to let you go!”
I clench my jaw, soothe my voice
promise to come again.
Praying that when I return
she’ll remember who I am.
* * * * *
I’m driving into darkness
helpless, lost, and small
that cried-out voice still echoing
her sad, scared, lonely call:
I want you!
I need you!"

I don't want to let you go.

Silence, brooding silence
echoes in reply.
I’ve lived so long without you
but still can’t say good bye.
With All My Heart
(written September 12, 2011)
Of all "the looks" my mother has given me through the years -- delight, exasperation, joy, frustration, pride -- I never imagined (and could not have possibly prepared for) the one she gave me yesterday: oblivion. Alzheimers has ruthlessly plundered my mother's memory, stealing even the name she so carefully chose for me.
This was my Facebook status August 11, 2011. I’d just visited my mother, who has been declining for several years. 
When I arrived, something felt very “not right” about Mother’s response to me. It took several hours to realize that she had not seemed happy or even surprised to see me; she had not addressed me by name or asked me why I was there or how long I was saying. 
My mother had not known me.
I’d spent 44 years bemoaning that she didn’t really understand me, “get” me, know me. Now she really doesn’t know me. My own mother has never known me. And now, she never will.
I’d wanted, needed, expected so much more from her. I’d spent 44 years trying to re-create her in the image of who I thought my mother should be. I’d secretly believed that she could become the kind of mother who knew me, who understood me, if she really wanted to. If she tried hard enough. If she changed enough.
But I failed to change her, so I’ve spent four decades feeling unknown, unloved.
Daniel and I celebrated 23 years yesterday. And I spent far too many of those years trying to re-create him in the image of who I thought my husband should be. I not-so-secretly insisted that he could become the kind of husband who knew me, who understood me, if he really wanted to. If he tried hard enough. If he changed enough. 
Failing to change my husband, I felt unknown, unloved.
A friend, whose mother's memory is failing, posted this compassionate comment to my Facebook status: "My mother has been saying to me for several months, 'I don't know who you are, but I know I love you with all my heart.' " 
I wept tears of hope while reading this, at first for my future relationship with my mother. Then I realized the powerful implications for all relationships.
How well do any of us know and understand each other? 
At best, we know bits and pieces. We know what we can know; we understand what we can understand. We each do the best we can. 
I finally understand, at a heart level, the futility of trying to change people. The best I can do now is to stop insisting that my loved ones know me – or more accurately, make me feel known and understood.
The best I can do now is recognize that even though my mother does not know me now, she has always loved me with all her heart. 
I wish I could have done so sooner, much sooner. My chances to know and appreciate my mother for who she was — rather than for who she wasn't — are gone. 
But I have more chances with Daniel, and I'm determined not to waste them. 
The best I can do now is learn to communicate to him, in word and in deed: "I may never know fully who you are, but I do know I love you with all my heart!"
A Benediction
(Can't see image? Click here to download Romans 15:13!)

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Please leave a comment 

  • responding to today’s blog, and/or
  • sharing your Day #1-31 experience of replacing “baditude” with God’s word and gratitude, and/or
  • about anything else on your heart!
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(Catch up on any "Warm-Up Week" Blog Posts!)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Day 30: JOY

Our Give-Away for Today!
I'm Proud of You 
(autographed by the author)

Note from Cheri: Our family read this book aloud together several years ago when our kids were still in their mid-teens, and I've listened to it via audiobook while driving (pulling over frequently for Kleenex!) It's a "must read" for many healing and hope-full reasons!

It began as another newspaper assignment, a celebrity profile of the children’s television icon. But in Fred Rogers, Texas journalist Tim Madigan found more than a fascinating subject. From their first meeting in 1995, at Rogers’ invitation, the two became unlikely friends, a deep and abiding relationship that lasted until Rogers’ death in 2003.

In that time, Madigan found Rogers to be much more than the calm and compassionate personality of television. He was a person of unique human greatness who embodied love, compassion and wisdom his every waking moment. He was the transcendent being who guided Madigan through periods of life-threatening depression and the tragic death of a sibling and helped him heal his difficult relationship with his father.

I’m Proud of You reveals Fred Rogers as a person who deserves a place among history’s greatest people. It chronicles male friendship at its finest and most powerful. And it is a book that has already brought hope and inspiration to many thousands of its readers. With this second edition, including a new afterword by the author, the inspiration continues.
Tim Madigan wrote his first book in 1968 when he was 11 years old. Every week in the autumn of that year, he scribbled down his account of the latest University of Minnesota football game in a notebook. (Sales were modest.)

But a love of books, words and writing never left released him, leading from his small-town Minnesota upbringing to a career writing newspaper stories and eventually books that were more formally published and found slightly larger audiences.
When not writing books or newspaper stories, Tim enjoys spending time with his wife, Catherine, being a dad, playing the guitar, coaching and playing ice hockey, and backpacking in the Canadian Rockies. Follow him on Facebook

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My joy was gone.

For years, I wondered how it had vanished. I tried to figure out how to get it back.

As a Sanguine-Choleric, I can combine “fun” and “intense” to create “excitement.” 
But real joy can’t be manufactured. 
Real joy is a miracle, like the crocus in spring: a wondrous surprise, bursting from the earth, in sudden full bloom.
For decades, I failed to see that all my complaining+ was like pouring Roundup over my flower bed. And then wondering why no flower bloomed.
Now, I’m finding that forgiveness–loads of forgiveness!–creates the fertile soil from which joy grows. 
Forgiveness 101

I asked my friends on Facebook, "What do you DO when you know you need to forgive but 'can't'?" Here's some of their shared wisdom:
  • Keep saying it until it sticks and I mean it. Say it out loud!
  • Jewish tradition asks us always to try to rise above anger and to help dissolve it by believing in the beauty of the world that God has created and the people in it as an act of faith, even when it takes all the power of our imagination.
  • Get on my knees and pray that the object of my resentment will receive all the blessings he or she needs and then some. For at least a week.
  • I ask myself "will this matter when I die?" The answer is usually no. It's easier for me to let it go after realizing that.
  • To truly forgive involves letting go of the feeling of resentment and of the vision that underlies that feeling -- the vision of self-as-victim….If we have been injured, we no longer experience the injury as a barrier to relationship. Instead, we see the injury in the perspective of our own imperfection: How can we expect anyone else to be perfect if we ourselves are imperfect?
  • The gift of forgiveness is for the forgiver not the one forgiven. There's no such thing as can't, only won't. Trust me, I do know and understand. Holding a grudge is like pressing a cancerous breast to your chest and declaring, "It's mine! I deserve it! I refuse to let it go."
  • When something completely changes the course of your life, or perpetrates ongoing harm to an innocent party forgiveness is a process not a one time event. Anger, resentment, hurt, loss - all kind of emotions need to be worked through, and may arise again without notice. Forgiving over, and over and over again (the whole 70 x 7 enchilada) could certainly apply through the ongoing events caused by one poor decision.
  • Forgiveness begins with the Holy Spirit impressing the need upon you. But then, a choice must be made. For me it was: just do it. After choosing to forgive, you must forgive over and over again, whenever a negative thought re-enters the mind. Kind of like breaking a bad habit. The synapses in the brain must be retrained. Or to use another metaphor, forgiveness is a long journey but well worth the trip, at least in my case.
  • No such thing as 'can't forgive'. There is only will, or will not forgive. When forgiveness is difficult, I find that I am in danger of doing something for which I will need forgiveness. 
  • Feelings get in the way of forgiveness. It is good to remember that the act of forgiving is all about clearing our own obstacles.
  • Go to Jesus who will give you the desire / willingness to Forgive! I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!
  • Pray to be willing to be made willing to be made many times as it takes
  • Leave it to God to help me understand the pain so I can forgive. Although it doesn't mean I need to continue a relationship when I have forgiven. Boundaries and my emotional / mental health is important as well.
  • Pray!!! Lots and lots of prayer!
Relaxing My Grip
I recently read a blog post about forgiveness that advocated gritting one's teeth and forcing oneself to JUST DO IT
This approach is dangerous for me. I have a long, destructive history of “succeeding” at “forcing” myself to do “right” behaviors...and promptly becoming entrenched in pride and self-satisfaction because I have done such a difficult thing all on my own power.
What I “just do” in the forgiveness process is relax my death grip on the story I’m telling myself. On the grudge I’m holding. On my need to be right. On my perception of myself as the victim. On my “shoulds” and “musts.” On my accusations and contempt. 
I don’t grit my teeth. In fact, it’s when I unclench my proud jaw that surrender starts.
My brother left me this wonderful quote:  “Forgiveness is giving up any chance of a happier past.”  
In this sense, forgiveness is a grief process; it’s mourning past I thought I was supposed to have.
And forgiveness is a rebirth process, inviting joy to flourish in the present.
(Can't see the image? Click here to download Psalm 30:5!)

Try this today:  Continuing with the one obstacle to contentment you're wrestling with (from Days 28 and 29), prayerfully consider/journal the role of forgiveness. Does this obstacle involve another person whom you need to forgive? Does it involve forgiving yourself? How might letting go of the past you'll never have allow joy to flourish in your present?

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Please leave a comment 
  • responding to today’s blog, and/or
  • sharing your Day #1-30 experience of replacing “baditude” with God’s word and gratitude, and/or
  • about anything else on your heart!
 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
(Catch up on any "Warm-Up Week" Blog Posts!)