Finding sparkles in the ebbs of life

It’s true. Through His providence, God allows trials to hit us; our ebbs of life to actually be seasons that lead us into our flows.

We can choose to look at these ebbs of turbulent difficulties through eyes of distrust and negativity but really….

They are a GIFT.

The ebbs of life are gifts, because they force us to rest in Him, seek His face, and learn that He will perfect that which concerns us…….in His time.

And then those ebbs turn to flows of abundant riches because of Him.

The ebbs, or difficult times when we are emotionally, physically, or spiritually parched, God uses so that we press closer to Him, trusting that the flows of deliverance will at the appointed time wash over us.

When we draw away from His providence, thinking He has it all wrong, we are hurting ourselves and not understanding that these painful ebbs are precisely the dry seasons that strengthen and exercise our faith in Him.

Were it not for these ebbs, would we seek Him?

If we never experienced pain, would our faith grow?

If instead of kicking against our moments of difficulties, we allowed grace to wash over us, cleansing our souls from spiritual seasweed, and renewing our hearts with deep understanding of God’s love, the ebbs are metamorphised into flows.

I once heard Paul Washer preach that the love of God is a deep and vast as the ocean. Even though we can only see a tiny part of the ocean, it’s enormity stretches into the horizon just as we can only really understand a glimpse of God’s love, the reality of it’s expanse is enormous.

He gives ebbs so tiny tokens of His love can be spotted, just like when the ocean’s tide recedes and little crabs, sea creatures, and gorgeous shells can be found glimmering and sparkling in the sun.

Life is hard, but God is good

She texted me at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday to tell me that her husband Todd had just saved her life.

My beautiful friend Emily has been a survivor of a massive brain stem stroke for nine years, a miracle, a fighter, and the sweetest, most caring person I’ve ever known.

Emily also has a choking issue and can’t be left alone while eating due to paralysis in her jaw which is a result of her stroke.

Tuesday, she was eating a cookie when it happened. A piece caught in her throat and completely blocked her airway. Her frantic husband was totally disoriented…..it hadn’t happened in so long! He panicked.

Em started seeing spots, her lips turned blue, it was scary. She said afterwards that she thought she would never breathe again. Then she saw black……

God interveined, as her husband persistently beat her on the back with his fists, out came the cookie, and in came air! (He later “lost it” she said, as he thought he was killing her.)

I cried when she told me.

Life IS so hard, but God IS so good!!!!

Later she told me she realised just how fragile our lives are.

It’s easy to take it for granted, I know I do. Even though Em and I are TBI survivors…….we can still forget how fragile life is.

As I rested in my chair Wednesday, the song by Pam Thum came into mind. Remember it?

Life is hard but God is good

You turn the key
Then close the door behind you
Drop your bags on the floor
You reach for the light
But there’s darkness deep inside
And you can’t take it anymore

‘Cause sometimes living takes the life out of you
And sometimes living is all you can do

Life is hard, the world is cold
We’re barely young and then we’re old
But every falling tear is always understood
Yes, life is hard, but God is good

You start to cry
‘Cause you’ve been strong for so long
And that’s not how you feel
You try to pray
But there’s nothing left to say
So you just quietly kneel

In the silence of all that you face
God will give you His mercy and grace

Jesus never said
It was an easy road to travel
He only said that you would never be alone
So when your last thread of hope
Begins to come unraveled
Don’t give up, He walks beside you
On this journey home and He knows

Life is hard, the world is cold
We’re barely young and then we’re old
But every falling tear is always understood
Yes, life is hard, but God is good

I’m praising God for His intervention and His goodness to us each and every day. It’s because His mercies are new every morning we wake up with the sunshine streaming through the windows to remind us that He is so faithful and SO VERY GOOD.

Emily and her husband Todd married 2 years after her stroke.

Here is more of Emily’s triumphant story of survival and recovery explained:

https://www.tbionelove.com/single-post/TBI-One-Love-Survivor-Emily-Annis

Compassion starts with Jesus.

I believe that much of the secret of soul-winning lies in having bowels of compassion, in having spirits that can be touched with the feeling of human infirmities.

C. H. Spurgeon

The good Samaritan, he had compassion. A very unlikely person to show compassion to a helpless Jew, but he did. Jesus used this story to demonstrate what compassion is. It doesn’t come from personal gain or selfish motives, it comes from love.

Luke 10:25-37 King James Version (KJV)

25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.


When I see a broken person treated with love or helped by others it reminds me of that verse in scripture where Jesus was “moved with compassion”. The verb “moved” is two-fold. He was moved in his Spirit with emotion and desire to help and those feelings became the act of moving in order to physically heal.

Mark 1:41 King James Version (KJV)

41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.

Compassion defined is “sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another or others, accompanied by an urge to help.”

Compassion flows from a heart filled with kindness. It should not be confused with pity which is sometimes a feeling of contempt because the object is looked at as ‘weak’ or ‘inferior’. Pity may in fact bring about kind actions that flow out of a superior mindset which may in fact be detected by the recipient.

Jesus is our example of compassion because He is kindness itself. He feels compassion for our wounds and sufferings and can relate better than anyone because he suffered and was wounded first.

Jesus is our example of compassion because He is kindness itself.

One of the most profound ways to demonstrate Christian love is by giving our compassion towards others through prayer and acts of genuine service. We can feel sorry for someone, but real compassion is more than a frown, a furrowed brow, or a wee tear. Our genuine compassion comes from our love of God poured out upon others through acts of love. True compassion will bring tangible results.

Years ago a man at my church plant preached on the love of Jesus and said, (paraphrased) ‘There is nothing anyone could say or do to hurt you that you haven’t already done to Jesus.’

He feels deep compassion for the broken because He KNOWS how it feels. His compassion comes from His love. Love is kind (compassionate).

One of the truest examples of showing Christ’s character towards others is by loving them through acts of kindness.

Compassion is not something we automatically feel but is a virtue gained by close communion with Jesus. When we truly love our Lord and others, compassion pours from Jesus’s heart into ours, which spills into the hearts of others. It’s a spiritual current that springs from God’s grace.

Why am I writing about compassion?

I have TBI.

And so do many others….

The number one complaint I hear from my brain injury Facebook group is the total lack of compassion they receive from friends, family, or acquaintances. It’s pretty much universal and it’s the saddest part of invisible illness or injury because when you are broken, and then judged ON TOP OF IT, it shatters you.

I’m not writing this to make anyone sad or negative, I’m writing to shine light on the grim sadness that brain injured and others who suffer from illness feel to be judged, ignored or shunned and why?

People who don’t try to take time to understand but choose to judge without first being aware of the profound difficulty of TBI are doing so out of ignorance or maybe just lack of compassion.

Whatever the reason we are treated this way, I’m almost certain it comes from lack of love because love will bring compassion and kindness. The absence of these virtues will instead bring indifference, harsh words, judgement, and ridicule.

So, I’m writing to kindly ask, please reach out. Show compassion. Send a card or email. Get to know the sick or injured in your church or neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be much.

Having a brain injury does not mean stupidity along with it, so we can understand when we are mistreated for being broken. And we feel just the same way a uninjured person feels and then some, due to bruised emotions and nerves.

The greatest kindness ever shown the world was Jesus stretching out His hands nailed on a cross for us. We can show Jesus’s love towards others through stretching out our hands towards them and pouring out Christ’s love, in whatever way we are able through kindness.

PTSD: By Any Other Name

In World War 1, it was called ‘shell shock’. In World War 2 it was known as ‘battle fatigue’. Finally during Vietnam it got it’s current name, ‘post- traumatic stress disorder’.

What exactly is this?

Here’s the definition:

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event β€” either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Sadly, the nervous system is stuck in a flight or fright mode that leaves people with PTSD in a chronic state of nervous ups and downs, which can be debilitating.

In January of 2017, I was told by my doctor that my brain injury had also given me PTSD secondary to the injury. It was a result of the changes going on in my skull as the cranial adjustments were being performed.

My brain’s amygdala sounded an alarm that flooded my body with stress hormones, resulting in quite a bit of emotional and physical distress.

It’s gotten better lately, the anxiety isn’t as much, nightmares are improving, and I’ve noticed as I get physically stronger, I’m able to work through it more efficiently.

Some experts believe PTSD is actually a psychological injury and not a mental health illness.

Fascinating.

Living in a fallen world means that there will be times when our minds will be greatly effected by the current circumstances we experience. It’s part of being human and it’s part of life.

There are plenty of ways to help someone we love work through PTSD, but I do believe seeking a good counselor is key.

Here are six helps we can do for ourselves or someone we love with PTSD;

1) Listen to them. Don’t bring it up unless they first initiate the subject of the traumatic event(s) and want to talk about it. A recap may bring on full blown panic attack.

2) Don’t take their emotional ups and downs personally. If they are cranky or moody, give them grace–it should pass and they will feel more secure around you than if you lectured them or told them to “get over it.”

3) Gently encourage them to do the things they love, like art, peaceful exercise (walking, yoga, swimming), gardening, meditating upon scripture, reading a novel, or watching a favorite old film.

4) GET A PET!!! I truly believe this a must for everyone with PTSD. There have been days when all I could do was sit out on my deck with my grey tabby and let her purr as I rubbed her furry little head. My five-year-old Maltipoo ( heading photo) has also brought such comfort to me, never leaving my side. Medical studies have proven that pets reduce high blood pressure and calm anxiety in owners. Plus, they’re super cute!

She purrs away as we cuddle

5) Try some juniper berry essential oil before bed. Doterra is the best. In fact, even war veterans have been cured from night terrors and nightmares while using it, and it’s certainly helped me.

6) Lastly, the blessing of praise music. Please see my link Songs of Hope. These songs got me through the toughest days and nights of fear and anxiety. I highly recommend listening to them or quiet, restful piano music.

I hope you can find a small ray of encouragement through this little blog post knowing that you are not alone. I’m still learning how to cope most days and would LOVE to hear your ideas or input.

Have a wonderful day and remember, He is holding us. πŸ€—β€

Be Kind

When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.

R.J. Palacio~ Wonder

It’s been years since reading this book but the impact is still there.

Here are some other powerful quotes on kindness;

Have you ever noticed how much
of Christ’s life was spent in doing kind things?

~Henry Drummond

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

~Micah 6:8

If you want to be holy, be kind.

~Frederick Buechner

Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence, or learning.

~Frederick W. Faber

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.

~Mother Teresa

He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.

~Job 6:14

Kindness makes a person attractive. If you would win the world, melt it, do not hammer it.

~Alexander MacLaren

He that is kind is free, though he is a slave; he that is evil is a slave, though he be a king.

~Augustine

The first thing a kindness deserves is acceptance, the second, transmission.

~George Macdonald

What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?

~Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Ephesians 4:32 King James Version (KJV)

32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

God bless and keep you today.

Remember that you never know fully what a person is going through, or what brokenness they feel, so be kind.

In His Hand

I was drowning, sinking down, completely dead in the water until Someone reached down and drew me up out of the water, and placed me safely inside His hand.

It is a huge, giant-sized hand. A Father’s hand so big it holds the entire world resting in the palm. I’m in this hand, no matter where I go or what I do, I’m never outside of it. It cradles me. I don’t have to be afraid. Nothing can remove me from this hand because the world with all that’s in it, is in this hand too. This hand keeps me from falling, protects me from floating away, it’s always there and I feel safe.

There’s a beautifully perfect scar in this hand. When I reach out to it, my pain melts away and I am comforted. I look around and see an infinite number of names written inside it’s finger prints. I can see a space where I want my name written not far off. I stretch out my arms to that space and realise that I didn’t have to because my name was already written there.

As long as I’m resting in this hand no harm can reach me. Nothing can remove me from this hand. Inside this hand the strong fingers close about me so that I remain unharmed.

My strength is fading…

I’m still in the world but this hand is moving, drawing me slowly, yet safely to Him. I see the world start to fade but this hand holds me, filling me with it’s strength; it’s an absorbing strength that warms my soul with peace.

The hand keeps moving, the world fades completely away and now I’m not journeying out of the world, I’m lying on His strong chest safe, finally home. I look back and see that I didn’t have to be afraid of moving out of the world, because there was never a time I wasn’t in His strong, powerful hand.

Psalm 31:15a King James Version (KJV)

15 My times are in thy hand….

‘Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.’

Do you ever have times when you just feel defeated? You try this or that to only end up disappointed and disheartened? It happens to everyone.

I’ve been tasting the bitterness of disappointed hopes lately with my recovery. I’ve tried new tasks I think I can handle just to end up once again taking two steps back. These were simple things like climbing stairs, or household chores, things that used to come easily but are now difficult and frustrating, resulting in nausea and fatigue.

That’s the physical struggle, but then there’s the spiritual struggle which accompanies the physical struggle because we are all connected: soul, body, spirit.

In her book ‘Beauty Marks’, Linda Barrick explains the difference between our bodies, souls and spirits like this:

Body: physiological, sense awareness, sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch.

Soul: psychological, self-awareness, mind, will, emotions.

Spirit: Spiritual, God awareness, Conscience, faith, worship, dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.

Just like God is Triune meaning three Persons in One, our bodies are so intricately designed that we can’t separate our broken bodies from our emotions and spirits. When the emotions go low so does our energy levels, and the pain seems to flare up or vice versa.

I’m unable to attend church or listen to sermons online because the sound negatively effects my nerves. Last week I tried reading a sermon on my iPhone (the print was super small) and it resulted in eye strain that left me cross-eyed and hypersensitive to light for days. I severely felt the spiritual battle for my soul just then.

I find it easy to feel discouraged but then God is teaching me to find the grace to carry on while healing from this brain injury and that grace comes from Him alone. We CAN ‘stand’ emotionally, physically, and spiritually by the power of Christ who is our Victor in every battle we face.

My copy of the hymn I rescued after a friend’s boy made it into a paper airplane.

The other day, my 12 year old son was listening to the hymn ‘In Christ Alone’ and the power of the lyrics struck me. We can only stand against the wiles of the Evil One undefeated by Christ’s strength alone. We will never face spiritual defeat because Christ has already claimed our victory in the fight by His victory over sin, death and separation from Himself through His triumphant work on the cross.

Only by Christ’s strength alone, will the fight gain a winning outcome but it won’t be easy. Christ has promised to carry us true but the battle is hard.

The lie that we can overcome spiritual battles by our own tactics is dangerous. The minute we think we are spiritual giants and can handle the world and sin on our own is precisely the minute we must get to God for help.

He doesn’t ask us to fight them alone. He knows how much we need Him and He is faithful in helping us when we seek Him for it.

He understands our physical limitations or weaknesses and can give us physical strength entirely sourced from Him. He can also heal our emotions and I believe as my body heals, my emotions will too. They’ve come a long way and God is gluing my shattered pieces back together again with hope.

The other day I was resting with closed eyes in my sofa chair and it hit me. While I don’t know exactly what is occurring with all the physical changes in my body that are scary, painful and hard, my spirit is directly connected to God who does KNOW. My comfort is this: Resting and trusting in the One who knows every detail of my life and believing that He will heal, and carry my body, soul and spirit to the very end. It gives me a lot of hope to stand in His strength alone and trust him.

Psalm 18:35 King James Version (KJV)

35 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.

Psalm 44:8 King James Version (KJV)

8 In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.

Psalm 20:7-8 King James Version (KJV)

7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

8 They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.

1 Corinthians 15:57 King James Version (KJV)

57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:14 King James Version (KJV)

14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.

Here are the lyrics to ‘ In Christ Alone’.

Lyrics

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

Stuart Townend & Keith GettyCopyright Β© 2001 Thankyou Music (Adm. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com excl. UK & Europe, adm. by Integrity Music, part of the David C Cook family, songs@integritymusic.com)