Maranomi – The New Normal

As we come to the end of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I wanted to share a post I wrote a few months after our baby girl went to Heaven in 2011.

 

After The Rainn

Saturday, August 27, 2011

 

The New Normal

There is no word for this. There is no word for this beautifully excruciating state of being, in which a parent has been separated from her child by death. There is no term to express the existence of a parent on earth while her child lives in Heaven. Why is that?

A person who has lost a spouse is a widow or widower. A child who has lost her parents is an orphan. They have terms to describe the change that took place in that moment of loss. They have terms to label their “new normal.”

I don’t.

I’ve thought quite a bit about the phrase “new normal,” as I have heard it referenced many times since we began this journey last December. I look back at what was once normal and it seems … young. In a way, it was like graduating from grade school and going directly into college. It’s a whole new level… a whole new normal. What was true then is still true now, but it’s so much deeper and more expansive. While I knew such a loss was possible, I had no way of fully knowing the impact of it until I experienced it for myself. I had no way of knowing the unique mixture of joy and sorrow, and peace in pain. It’s more than just being sad and missing someone.

The new normal is ever-changing. Who I was before is being continually re-defined. I don’t think there’s really a point when it is possible to say, “ok, I’ve moved on, I’m good now.” When a rock is thrown into a lake, the ripples continue after the initial impact. Maybe I should say, rather, when a rain drop hits a lake…

The new normal is an odd mix of anticipation and sorrow, with renewed purpose and utter exhaustion. The new normal is being surprised when tears suddenly spring up in my eyes at the most random reminders that she’s no longer with us on earth, yet feeling joy that she was my baby girl. As painful as it has been, I can’t make myself wish for the old normal. The old normal didn’t include my babies, and in the old normal, I hadn’t caught a glimpse of Heaven.

There should be a word for this.

If I were to choose or create a word to label this new normal, I’d want it to reflect how the experience is never truly over, but it is ever-changing and developing. I’d want it to reflect how a parent’s way of relating to others morphs into something different and the view of the world and its priorities shifts significantly. I’d want it to be clear that, although a sense of humor may still be present, there is a continual, unspoken somber air that clings to the parent of a child in Heaven. We’ve glimpsed the other side…. And the other side seems more real than this one.

A term to describe a parent who has lost a child would need to incorporate the idea of a challenge, a journey, and being broken. It would reflect a new character and a new’ way of relating to life.

I think of the story of Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth. After losing her husband and sons, Naomi returned to her former home. When the women there saw her, they said, “Can this be Naomi?”

 

“20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”” (Ruth 1:20-21)

 

Naomi, whose name meant “pleasant,” told them to no longer call her Naomi. She was different. She preferred to be called by a name that meant bitter. “Bittersweet” is a term I’ve found myself using frequently over the past months. We know God is working, even through the painful parts of the experience. I’m not sure how to take Naomi’s response. I hope she eventually found the joy in the sorrow, though I don’t get the impression from that brief passage that she had yet. I hope that when she saw her faithful daughter-in-law, and as she held her grandson, Obed, she felt the sweet that went along with the bitter.

Regardless of whether or not Naomi found the sweet with the bitter, it is evident that she was a changed woman. Loss does that. Painful life experiences open our eyes to deeper truths about our existence.  According to Paul, our sufferings produce perseverance, or the ability to keep on keeping on. (“ 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5)

            “We also glory in our sufferings.” Glory… as in magnificence, splendor, wonder, etc. … in our sufferings. The sufferings are part of the journey. It’s easy to become bitter at the sufferings… but then we miss out on the glory of them. Sufferings lead to perseverance, which leads to character, which leads to HOPE. Thank God, we have that hope (‘cause wow, what a mess I’d be without it). I have hope because I know the story isn’t over. My identity is not bitterness alone.

Though I’m no longer who I once was, I’m not entirely bitter. There is some sweet in the mix. I’d rather have had my daughter with anencephaly than not at all. God gave us so much through her, and it has been bittersweet. I’m not a Mara… I’m a Mara-Naomi… a Maranomi.

 

Keri

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When Divine Healing Isn’t God’s Answer : 4 Focus Points in Ministry

The following is an article by guest contributor (and my sister), Amy Harris. Thanks for sharing, Amy!

 

divine healingIn a recent discussion while working toward ordination, a question was posed to me about what to tell parents whose children die or do not receive Divine Healing. Questions such as these are difficult to address, because they are often coming out of such heartbreak and disappointment. I think the unfortunately reality, though, is that each of us will be faced with such circumstances and will need to be prepared to answer those questions and minister to those individuals to the best of our abilities. I can only pray that the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with compassion, our minds with adequate scriptural references, and our mouths with words of comfort.

This topic becomes increasingly difficult when someone (such as a child) dies from a disease or has a life-altering disability. Why didn’t God heal these kids? Why do some people get to be healed and others don’t? How would you help a nonbeliever, whose child was just diagnosed with cancer and will die in 6 months, understand that God only chooses to heal some people, and their child is not one of them? It is so hard to express to people what we know of God when they have never experienced Him.

Much of my response is based on a personal experience. In 2010, my sister found out that she was having twins. At about 16 weeks into her pregnancy, it was discovered that her daughter was anencephalic and would not survive long (if at all) after birth. I can tell you that we all prayed a lot for divine healing. We prayed for a miracle right up to the delivery room doors. I want to share my sister’s words with you:
“From the time Carys was diagnosed, many people prayed for a miracle for her. They openly prayed for her healing; that she would be made whole. As it turned out, Carys was our miracle. She was perfectly made. God intentionally and lovingly created her. Those precious hours we spent with Carys after she was born gave us a glimpse into Heaven. Though I didn’t see it with my physical eyes, the peace and love we felt and knew while she was in our arms were unmistakable. Heaven felt so real and so close, it was as if we could reach out and touch it. Even when Carys left this earth, she didn’t feel very far away.” (Kitchen)
While a degree of peace would later come, the day that Carys was born is still one of the most painful days of my life. I imagine that it always will be. What stands out to me the most… is something that my dad did in those first hours after her birth. We were in the waiting room, hearts broken, and my dad began to quote scripture:
“Now we see only a dim likeness of things. It is as if we were seeing them in a mirror. But someday we will see clearly. We will see face to face. What I know now is not complete. But someday I will know completely, just as God knows me completely.” (1 Corinthians 13:12 NIrV)
He then reminded us how much God loved us, and how much he loved Carys. He said that he was confident that we were only seeing that “dim likeness” of things, and that there was an entire world unfolding on the other side of the glass. He was sure that a loving God had something better planned than the miserable part of the picture that we were seeing. He assured us that one day the entire scene would be revealed, and only then could it all make sense. Knowing that didn’t take the pain away, but it did help. It gave me hope to be reminded that there was more to the story. I think that if we were dealing with a believer, our jobs would be slightly easier, as we could rely more on the type of comfort that can only come through the Holy Spirit.

Honestly, I don’t see how a non-believer manages without the promise of Heaven. I don’t think that anything we could possibly say will answer their questions or even begin to take away their pain. I would make it my goal to share some assurances with them. I will say that from all that I have heard, telling anyone that their loss is part of God’s plan will probably only bring them more pain (at least in the initial stages)
4 Focus Points in Ministering when Divine Healing isn’t God’s Answer:

1. Encourage them to talk to God, and then tell them that it ok to ask God why, and even to question his plan
“When you look for me with all your heart, you will find me.” (Jeremiah 29:13 NIrV)
“Come to me, all of you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads. I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIrV)
2. Remind the parents of how God knows their thoughts and their hurts, and how He wants to draw them close to Him.
“Godly people cry out, and the Lord hears them. He saves them from all of their troubles. The Lord is close to those whose hearts have been broken. He saves those whose spirits have been crushed.” (Psalms 34:17-18 NIrV)
3. Remind them that even those things that we don’t understand now, we can understand some day.
“Now we see only a dim likeness of things. It is as if we were seeing them in a mirror. But someday we will see clearly. We will see face to face. What I know now is not complete. But someday I will know completely, just as God knows me completely.” (1 Corinthians 13:12 NIrV)
4. Let them know that God has given us a promise of Heaven, and that we can have peace in knowing that we can be reunited for Eternity.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust in me also. There are many rooms in my Father’s house. If this were not true, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. If I go and do that, I will come back. And I will take you to be with me. Then you will also be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4 NIrV)
I do want to take this opportunity to introduce you all to the Carys Rainn Foundation. My sister and her husband have done marvelous work that may be helpful to someone that you would be in contact with. I encourage you to read her blog and to see the amazing way that God revealed himself to them through the brief life and death of my niece. You can check out their story at http://ourstory.aftertherainn.com/
Works Cited
Kitchen, Keri. “Our Story” Web blog post. Aftertherainn. (Original Post Date unknown). 10 Oct 2014 http://ourstory.aftertherainn.com/
New International Readers Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 11 Oct. 2014
Amy Harris is a Children’s Pastor from Eastern Kentucky. She obtained an AA in Religion from Kentucky Christian University in 1992, a BS in Biology and Chemistry from Excelsior of New York in 1997, and is current studying in the Ministerial Prep Program at Nazarene Bible College. Amy accepted Christ at the age of 8 during a Vacation Bible School and has been involved in children’s ministry in some capacity since she was 12 years old. When she’s not teaching children about Jesus or spoiling her nephews, she can be found at a local faith based hospital where she works as a Decision Support Analyst.
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Are You a Key Piece?

pieceMark 1:2-8 (NIV)

as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way”[a]
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.’”[b]

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentancefor the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with[c] water, but he will baptize you with[d] the Holy Spirit.” 

________________________________



Throughout history, John has been a common name. A “normal” person- not divine. In Biblical history, John was a messenger. He was someone like us. He was merely another human, yet the prophet Isaiah predicted him. He was a key piece in the Great Author’s plan.

It can be very easy to be overcome by the whisperings of satan that we’re not enough, that we don’t matter, or that God couldn’t possibly want little ol’ us to be a part of His divine plan.

BUT, you know what?

Through Christ, we are enough. Because God loves us, we do matter, and because we are His creation, His children, and His beloved,  He DOES want us to be a part of His divine plan. John, though prophesied and integral in God’s plan, recognized his status when it came to The Lord. He knew he wasn’t worthy to stoop down and untie Jesus’ sandal straps. He also knew, though, that God loved him and had a purpose for him. He wasn’t prideful, but he also wasn’t self-destructive. He had confidence in knowing that He was God’s for His will, and that God loved him.

Are you willing to let the Author make you a key piece? It’s not always easy, or pretty… or painless. It’s not a luxurious path, but the final destination will be out of this world. 

Is God asking something of you now?


Keri

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“Can I Pleeeease???”

bath Lotus Carroll / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

During bath time, my 3 year old asked for the plastic cup I’d used to rinse his hair. I found myself telling him no because he was more tired than usual, and I know him. If I’d given him that cup, he would have promptly used it to scoop up a floor-soaking amount of bubble-filled bathwater to dump over the side of the tub. Sure, there is that off-chance that he may not have, but again, I know him. When he is as tired as he was then, he is very prone to such actions. He’s 3. They do that. (Don’t worry, he’ll have plenty of chances to pour water later.)

While this was not an uncommon occurrence, it struck me differently as I heard myself explaining. “If I gave it to you, you’d be tempted to dump it out of the tub, but I love you and I really don’t want you to get yourself in trouble.”

Since my days at this stage in my life are most frequently ruled by interactions with my children, God uses these interactions to give me another glimpse of His love for us.

Have you ever had a door slammed in your face, only to beg and beg God to open it for you? “Can I pleeeeease have the cup?!”

Is there anything in your life right now that you are begging God for but not stopping to listen for His answer to your heart?

Are you spiritually tired and asking for something that would just serve to get you into trouble, or there’s a chance it just might not be best for you?

God loves you. He doesn’t tell us no just to be “mean.”

On the flip side, as God gives me more and more glimpses of His love for us, I’m continually doing my best to attempt to love like God loves me*.  I’m trying to lovingly set boundaries when I know giving in most likely won’t end well. I’m trying to not set my children up to fail: by saying no or redirecting attention in another direction before a situation escalates. I’m trying. I’m learning, and I’m trying.

What interactions do you face regularly which are most difficult for you to lovingly set boundaries?

 

Keri

 

 

 

*note… ATTEMPT…. I am human, after all (but that won’t keep me from trying)!

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When the Road Gets Curvy

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of the book, Love Isn’t Selfish: Understanding God’s Love through Human Relationships

_____________________

 

LIS 185000000I once had a dream that I was in the passenger side of a car on a very curvy, dangerous road. The car was going very fast but I could see no one in the driver’s seat. In the dream, I knew the car was being controlled from outside. I knew I was safe, but I could not relax. I kept looking at the curves as we sped along, and then back to the empty driver’s seat. Right before I woke up, I climbed over into the driver’s seat to try to take control.

How often do we do that in our day-to-day lives? When the road gets curvy and everything is coming at us too fast, we resort to fear – even when we KNOW that we are safe and God is in complete control. We get distracted by the selfishness of fear. We are no longer trusting our loving Father, and we try to take the wheel.

I’m sure that all of us can think of so many distractions in our own lives- the dangerous curves that seem to be approaching at break-neck speed. Medical problems, financial burdens, vehicles that break down at the most inopportune times, new jobs and new starts, relationship troubles, personal insecurities… there are always curves ahead. There are always fears and worries that try to creep into our thoughts. Matthew addresses this issue perfectly.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25-34).

 

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Want to read more?

 

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Even When it Hurts

OFFICIAL CRF LOGOThe last couple of months have been somewhat quiet here on the Love Isn’t Selfish blog. My attention had been pulled away to our non-profit’s summer events.

We hosted our first 5K, second annual online auction, and a professional training for medical and mental health professionals and clergy, dealing with perinatal hospice (bereavement care for families experiencing loss during pregnancy or infancy).

The reaction to these events has been largely favorable. I think of one particular training attendee who told me the training was helpful for her job, but also healing for her personally, as she had experienced a pregnancy loss as well.

She’s not the first to tell me the events have been healing.

I’ve found that simply providing people with an opportunity to outwardly acknowledge their lost babies is healing. I’m very thankful that God is using a very painful experience from our lives to provide healing for others. It’s very humbling! It’s also very healing for me.

I’m sharing this with you today for a very specific purpose. I am seeing bits of God’s plan falling into place. Losing our daughter was the most difficult, painful thing we have ever experienced, but God frequently reminded me that He had a plan through it all. We made a conscious choice to allow Him to use her story, and He is. Beauty IS coming from pain. Yes, He allowed us to hurt, but there was something so much bigger than us happening. There IS something so much bigger than us happening. He still has a plan. He always has a loving plan. Even when it hurts.

 

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (New International Version, ©2010)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
 
Psalm 46:10 (New International Version, ©2010)
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
 
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (New International Version, ©2010)
Praise to the God of All Comfort
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
 
 
 
Keri
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The Traumatic Life of a Betta with a 3-Year-Old


Stephie189 / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

 B (the betta) escaped trauma a few nights ago because after giving my three-year-old his allergy medicine, he put it in his mouth, then bit off a piece and ran to B’s tank to drop it in and “feed” him. I couldn’t catch him quickly enough to stop him, but I rushed and got B out of the tank to empty and clean the tank.

Today, however, I joined Paxton in the living room after he’d been there a few minutes. Not immediately after, I turned around and noticed that the lid of the tank was standing upright and there was water all around the tank. I scrambled to get the lights on because that corner didn’t have window light like the rest of the room and was dark. When I looked back over, I couldn’t see B in the tank. “Where’s B???” Then I saw him. Poor little B was lying BESIDE the tank. I didn’t know how long he’d been there. I grabbed a piece of paper to try to scoop him up and put him back in the water, hoping it would be less likely to hurt him more… if he wasn’t already dead.

I admit; I was upset. With dismay in my voice (and probably a stronger reaction than I should have had), I said “Paxton!!!! You killed your fish!!!”

I know he’s three and curious, and I didn’t want to be too hard on him, but I wanted him to know how serious it was because I have told him many times to not open the lid of the tank or put his hands in.

For a moment, seeing the look on my face, I think he got it. His little eyes looked very sincere and solemn.

I asked if he thought we should pray for B and he said yes… so we prayed for his fish. Then, unprompted, he told B he was sorry.

I wonder how often we do things out of curiosity, knowing that we “shouldn’t,” but not fully understanding the implications of our actions. Spiritually, there is a maturing process that takes place too. Until you face the trials in life that are required to develop maturity, you don’t have the understanding our Father wants us to develop.

My little guy knows he’s been told not to open the fish tank, but he doesn’t have a full grasp on the concept of dying. He knows about Heaven and knows his sister lives there, but he’s still too little to fully understand what that really means.

“He’s okay,” he kept saying.

“I don’t know, buddy… I don’t know if he’s going to live or not.”

There are many instructions God gives us that we may not really understand WHY He gives them. If we are following His instructions and striving to live as He calls us to live, we will continue to grow and mature spiritually. Until we have that deeper understanding though, we just have to trust.

Trust that God has a reason for giving us the instructions He does. Trust that God loves us and His plans are out of that love. Trust that He’s not going to do things that will harm us in the big picture. Trust… and don’t traumatize the betta. Even if you don’t know WHY you’re not supposed to touch it the fact that He said to leave it alone is enough until you are mature enough to understand the why.

B tried a few times to swim up off the bottom of the tank, only succeeding in a crooked, awkward movement- at first. Within about 30 minutes, miraculously… he was swimming seemingly normally, eating, and acting like nothing had ever happened. The therapist in me wonders just how traumatized he is after today’s adventure out of the water!

 

James 1:2-5

New International Version (NIV)

Trials and Temptations

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

 

Keri

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On the Ark with the Lions


La Lince / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

For some reason, when I woke up this morning, one of the first things that popped in my mind was “On the ark with the lions.” Why? I don’t know either, it just did. I don’t remember dreaming anything related, yet the thought was there. Sometimes I think God works that way, so here I am, writing to all of you about being on the ark with the lions.

I’d never really thought about it before, but that would have to be potentially intimidating. Lions… and Tigers… and bears… oh my (couldn’t resist)! To be on a big ship with animals known to be predators, surrounded by an earth entirely covered by water, with nowhere to escape…wow.

We already know that Noah had to have had a great deal of faith to follow God’s command to build the ark in spite of taunting, inexperience, and meteorological history. Even still, to willingly board a vessel that contains dangerous animals, knowing there would be nowhere to run if things turned bad takes another level of faith for Noah and his family; but what were their options?

All of these thoughts were running through my head as I was trying to get my eyes open. Then I thought about how often we embark on journeys with lions. True, for most of us, it wouldn’t be a literal translation, but even so, there’s truth in it.

Have you ever been in a scary situation with nowhere to run? If so, you can probably relate to some degree with what I’m saying. It might be a bit scary, or it may be scary in a nearly-immobilizing way.

Faith is what keeps us going when life is intimidating. It can be easy to feel like you need to be on you guard at all moments, waiting for a lion to sneak up behind you. You know they exist in your small world.

I’ve been on an ark with lions. I longed for escape. I battled the temptation to fear the creatures by dwelling on the promise of God’s protection and loving plans. I could feel them breathing down my neck but I did my best to keep looking toward Heaven; and you know what? When I looked up to focus on Him, my faith felt stronger, and He protected me. As exhausting as my voyage was (and still is at times), He has protected me and continues to give me hope and peace. He gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. Lift your eyes!

Psalm 121

A song of ascents.

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

 

Are you on an ark with lions today?

Keri

 

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5 Lessons from Frozen


ChaoticMind75 / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Like many households, we’ve seen the movie Frozen a time or two. Or a hundred. Each time it plays while I go about my daily routines, Little bits stand out in my mind (in addition to the songs that may get STUCK in my head for DAYS).

Though I’m sure there are more truths buried in there, I wanted to share 5 lessons from Frozen (so, do I even need to say “spoiler alerts ahead”?)

1. The only fixer upper fixer that can fix a fixer upper is true love. We’re all broken and needing to be fixed up. God is love. He is the only fix for a fixer upper. If you don’t believe yourself to be a fixer-upper, ask those around you if you have some areas needing improvement.

I often see social media posts from adolescents and adults alike seeking their fixes from the world. Whether waiting for Mr./Mrs. Right, losing themselves in drug use or other fixations, they seek the answer to their brokenness everywhere but at the feet of Jesus. If you see yourself there, step back. What are you doing?? Earthly things will not fill that hole. Temporary answers will not heal those wounds. Only God can.

2. Fear will be your enemy. It leads to isolation and defensive walls, but still doesn’t provide true protection.

“Bottling up” or hiding your fears will not make them go away. On the contrary, it is more likely that they will grow stronger and begin to escape at the most inopportune moments and in the most inconvenient ways.

It is impossible to love as God desires while focusing inwardly on self-preservation alone.

3. Only an act of true Love can thaw a frozen heart. Fear and bottling up emotions can “freeze” a heart. It may be an attempt to not hurt self and/or others, but in reality, shutting out loved ones still hurts them, and it also keeps you from having the companionship your humanness longs to have. We were created in God’s image, and since God IS Love, that would imply that we are relational beings by nature. We weren’t intended to be loners.

If shutting yourself off from others isn’t helpful or healthy, it makes sense that the opposite would be true. Love by God’s design can thaw frozen hearts. A little compassion, encouragement, and acceptance can do wonders for a frozen or thawing heart.

4. “True love” is more than just emotion or the excitement over finding someone who appears to have the qualities you hope for. Love is also the mortar of healthy family and friend relationships and the most effective means of sharing with others who God is.

I have to admit, I LOVE that there is finally a Disney Fairy Tale that doesn’t truly feed into the “True Love’s First Kiss” and “They lived happily ever after” nonsense. Because…

5. In the words of Olaf, love is putting the needs of someone else above your own. It’s not just about emotion or love at first sight. It’s a choice that must be continually made. It’s not fleeting, and it’s not selfish. What a wise little snowman!

1 John 4:18 (NIV)

 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

What lessons can you pull from Frozen?

Keri

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When Life Shatters

shatters

The other day, I knocked my tablet off a counter and cracked the screen. It’s not pretty. The same day, I was setting up at a hair jewelry party with a mirrored tray that I absolutely love….d. I bumped the table and it tumbled into the floor, shattering the mirror. Two items in one day. Shattered. One instant and it’s over and done. Even though it’s just “stuff,” I wanted to cry.

It’s symbolic, really. So many things in life can be shattered in an instant. A car wreck. A moment of distraction. An accident. A decision. A natural disaster. A snippet of news. Evidence of betrayal. A diagnosis. A stillbirth. A heart attack…

I could go on and on listing, but do you see yourself in that list? Have you had a time or times in your life when you watched a piece of you shatter? As you stood, feeling helpless, looking at the pieces, maybe you were tempted to feel angry or believe you were abandoned by God.

Maybe you were okay and it wasn’t until something else crashed down into pieces that you started to feel yourself cave. These things sometimes happen several at a time, and you can almost watch as experience after experience just chips away at your faith and composure before you begin to crumble. Maybe.

Maybe you’ve felt like Job and it seemed as if you were being stripped of all your blessings and happiness bit by bit like waves that just wouldn’t stop coming at you. Maybe you felt like you would drown in your sorrow and despair. Maybe the father of lies whispered to your soul.

If God loves you, why is He doing this to you?

If you were a good enough Christian, this wouldn’t have happened.

If you only spent more time in church… reading your bible… doing “Christian” things… you’d be able to handle this better, but face it – you’ll never be able to do it right.

You’ll never be enough.

You’ll never do enough.

You’ll never deserve better.

GET BEHIND US, SATAN.

When we are weary, weakened, and insecure, those lies from the deceiver seem to carry more weight. We are likely to be more susceptible to them, even if we know in our hearts they go against what God has said is true.

Challenge them. Challenge him. Like Jesus in the desert, respond to them with words from scripture.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

James 1:2-4 (NIV)

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

John 3:16 (NIV)

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Seek God’s truth and choose to focus on it when you feel like you are crumbling. The truth is, He Loves You, and He has a plan for you.

not toying

What truths about God and His love have you found helpful when you are dealing with life-shattering experiences?

 

Keri

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