Beauty for Ashes

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WHAT IS MOURNING?

WHAT DOES GOD PROMISE?

WHY DO WE HAVE TO MOURN?

SETTING THE STAGE

In Luke 4:13-19, the Bible says that soon after Jesus was tempted by Satan, he began His ministry in Galilee. He went into a synagogue in Nazareth, boldly stood up, and quoted scripture from the Old Testament book of Isaiah.

16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,[j]
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”[k]

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%204&version=NKJV



EVEN more amazing and reassuring is the fact that Isaiah (in the Old Testament) had spoken these same words about the Lord to his discouraged and heartbroken people:

Isaiah 61:3,4

3 To console those who mourn in Zion,

To give them beauty for ashes,

The oil of joy for mourning,

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

That they may be called trees of righteousness,

The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

4 And they shall rebuild the old ruins,

They shall raise up the former desolations,

And they shall repair the ruined cities,

The desolations of many generations.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+61&version=NKJV


This is OUTSTANDING NEWS!

Jesus of the Old and New Testaments, and the Jesus of today and tomorrow consoles and comforts us anytime we are grieving or mourning.


WHAT IS MOURNING?

Does this just apply to death? I don’t think so…

Perhaps it also refers to the “ashes” left from sadness or mourning after the loss of:

  • a job
  • financial security
  • a relationship
  • a pet
  • our health, etc.

WHAT DOES GOD PROMISE?

In the painful, lonely, and debilitating process of mourning, God promises to give us:

“beauty for ashes”

Christ comforts us and sustains our most pressing needs. He knows we cannot stay in the “pit” of our sadness, isolation, anger, depression, and desire to give up.

Through

  • believing in Him
  • staying connected to Him through honest prayer (telling Him how we really feel)  
  • learning more of His limitless grace by reading and studying His Word (Bible)

We receive:

1. “the oil of joy for mourning” We are eventually able to feel joy and sadness again, instead of building a thick, “feel nothing” wall around ourselves.

In trusting that God is in control and knows what is best for us, we draw on our faith in Him. This provides the power to keep thanking Him and praising His Son until we receive:

2.“the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”


WHY DO WE HAVE TO MOURN?

Then comes the hardest part for me to take…

The Reason For Our Suffering:

3.“That they may be called trees of righteousness,

The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

When we suffer and continue to trust the GRACE God supplies through faith in His Son, God uses us as trees planted and rooted in the Lord to glorify God. WOW!

This brings me to tears! 

Not only because I have to wait to see my son, Bart, in Heaven.

Not only because I still cry remembering his death and how much I miss him!

BUT BECAUSE:

When I accepted Christ as my Savior, mentor, and provider, I signed up to be a tree planted anywhere God chooses, so that He may be glorified.

Just as the high wind makes a tree’s roots grow deeper and stronger to support the tree, my grief and mourning have made me stronger.

MOURNING HAS FORCED ME TO DEPEND ON HIM MORE.

It hurts, it is painful, I didn’t want it, and I don’t understand it.

But, I TRUST God to continue to give me:

“beauty for ashes.”

“the oil of joy for mourning.”

“the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”

This blog post was inspired by the July 14, 2016, daily devotional on the website, Our Daily Bread.


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How To Enjoy A More Productive Retirement

 

 

 

“Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.” — Napoleon Hill”

Are you getting close to retirement?

Are you already retired?

Until my sixties, I thought retirees had it made! No more getting up early to go to work, pounding the pavement each day to get as much done as possible, and struggling to organize for the next day. Then, switching “hats” on the ride home to spend quality time with the family, prepare meals, and squeeze in a smidgen of relaxation before setting the alarm to start over again the next day!

As I get closer to retirement (I have unofficially “retired” from teaching two times only to return to full-time teaching), I realize how many mental and emotional challenges arise when facing retirement.

Now that I am in my sixties, as are a lot of my friends, I am questioning:

  • How many years do I have left?
  • How can I take better care of my health?
  • What will I do to stay busy after I retire?
  • What will I do if my spouse dies before I do?
  • Will I outlive the money I have?
  • Am I secure in knowing where I will be for eternity?

Not knowing how much time I have left, or how I will die, it is imperative for me to focus on staying passionate about life. Am I enjoying each day? Am I adding “color” to the lives of others?

As my body ages and wears out, things start to break that need fixing. How can I focus on preserving my health? Better diet? More exercise? Meditation?

What if boredom sets in after retirement? Do I have hobbies? Is there something I have always wanted to do? What am I interested in focusing more time on? What am I PASSIONATE about completing? What PURPOSE do I need to fulfill?

Is there a plan in place for me if my spouse dies before I do? What life changes will I need to make?

When I am no longer able to work, will my money last longer than I do?

The MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION is, am I secure in the PROMISE of where I will spend eternity?


In upcoming articles, we will explore practical ways to:

  • Find our passion
  • Find our purpose 
  • Find promise in eternity

 


 

What fears do you have about retirement? If you have already retired, what tips could you share to help others? What topics for retirees are you interested in learning more about?

 

 

 

Do You Believe in Miracles?

 

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Wow! What a movie!

Have you ever seen a movie you could not get out of your head (for good reasons)?

OK, I admit this movie is hard to watch. Miracles from Heaven is a gut-wrencher! Just about the time the terminally ill Annabel wants to give up and die, the movie does a 180.

In the last minutes of the movie, all the pain and torment she and her family have endured begin to evolve into a tapestry of hope, healing, and forgiveness.

This movie is based on a true story, and the family lives not far from where I grew up in Cleburne, Texas.

In the movie version, Annabel Beam’s illness only lasted one year, when it really lasted four and a half years. Pseudo Obstruction Motility Disorder is a rare condition that kept Anna from digesting her food and absorbing nutrients.

Her mom, Christy Beam, says that in the movie, Annabel’s mom loses faith that God hears her.

Christy explains how she felt when her faith was tested, but she hung on hoping for healing for her suffering daughter. At the end of the movie, she realizes how many miracles were happening all through the family’s pain and suffering.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, I won’t give away too many details of the powerful ending. Anna and her family experience a miracle (several of them), and this little girl goes to heaven. She is told that it is not her time and she has to go back because there are plans for her that cannot be fulfilled in heaven.


Why do I believe in miracles?

One reason I believe in miracles is because shortly before my father died, he told me that his mom “died” when he was born. She told him (and probably many others) that she went to heaven. Remembering how peaceful and warm she felt, she asked to stay there. She was told she must go back.

Maw, as I called her, was my favorite person to be with on weekends. I begged to spend the night with her and her two spinster sisters.  My weekend getaway always included attending church with her on Sunday.

I share more about her unwavering faith and how it affected me in my book, Tragedy’s Treasures. I believe that many “chosen” people have seen heaven firsthand and have been sent back to tell, encourage, and inspire us.

WHAT A MIRACLE!

Romans 8:25:

25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

I encourage you to see this movie! It reminded me how many miracles come out of our daily struggles. We just need to hope for what we do not see…

Please share your thoughts about miracles in the comments!


Here is a link where you can read the family’s real story. It includes pictures and a video interview with Anna’s mom.

http://dailym.ai/1QS1fbc

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