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Posts Tagged ‘comfort’

imag0562I was asked, what is the one thing in your closet you should probably throw out? If anyone else rummaged through my clothes, they’d most likely choose the ratty ol’ black sweater. It’s faded, a bit threadbare, and stretched out of shape. But it still hangs in my closet…for a reason.

When my mother passed away, my sister, niece and sister-in-law gathered with me in her bedroom to sort and pack up her things. What to give away and what to throw away? None of us felt we could handle the task alone. What began in solemn sorrow ended in tearful laughter. Morphed into little girls again, we tried on “mommy’s clothes.”  We shared memories of when she wore this or that.  We snickered over some of her choices in fashion. We paraded around the room in various items. In the end, we each took a few as mementos. I chose the black sweater, already worn with age.

Even now, years later, whenever I’m feeling a bit down, I slip my arms through that ratty old sweater. It is almost as if my mom is hugging me once again. I feel the secure warmth I felt as a child. When my husband passed away, I wore that thing a lot, even out in public. I didn’t care. Mom had become a widow far too early as well. I knew she’d understand.

Paul spoke of God’s comfort He give us to pass on to others. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 13:3-4  

My mother was a deep believer even though she suffered many sorrows including the death of two children and my father becoming a POW in WWII.  She lived with his resulting PTSD that turned into depression and alcoholism. Through it all, she used her experiences to God’s glory and comforted many during her 80 plus years on earth, especially the last few decades. At her funeral I heard many stories that testified to that fact. When I wrap myself in that sweater, I feel her God-endowed wisdom and comfort.

Yes, I should probably toss it away, but I doubt I will. In a way it has become my prayer shawl. One day, after I am gone, maybe the women in my family will go through my clothes. Someone will snicker and wonder why I kept that old thing. Then she will feel the urge to slip her arms through its sleeves. I think when she does, she’ll realize why.

 

 

 

 

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There is was – the key in my mail slot. I had a package waiting in one of the six large lockers. It took every effort not to whoop with joy in the middle of the maIMAG0085il station at my apartments.

Recently I discovered the favorite author of my childhood, who passed from this life over 20 years ago, had written two more books while I was busy raising a family, working, and living my life. So, I ordered them from a used thrifty book store, excited, yet a little saddened,  that they had been reduced to $3.99, the price of a modern eBook novel. To me, her writing was much more valuable than that.

When I opened the package, there was no smell of fresh ink. The cover was dog-eared and a bit tattered on the edges from sliding in and out of bookshelves. The binding had been cracked numerous times, and a slight yellowing border of age eked around the pages..

None of that mattered, because the words were there. The personality of her writing, the way she described scenes, her unique dialog techniques had not faded with time. As my eyes scanned the pages, memorizes swirled between the words. It was as if I’d begun a conversation with an old friend I had not seen in decades. I cuddled down into the story.

Do I react the same with with God’s living Word? They say a person who has a tattered Bible does not have a tattered life.  And while my favorite Bible is getting on in years, I have more and more relied on my phone app instead. Not tot say I don’t enjoy having easy access to the Bible in my purse, but I have begun to miss my old friend with the dogeared pages, highlighted verses, and scribbles in the margins. So, I went to the shelf and cracked open the binding. As I cocked my head to read, a warmth cascaded over my shoulders into my heart. Prayers answered, revelations revealed, sorrows comforted. My life reflected there. My faith restored.

A plaque in my room reads – The Bible is the only book whose author is present each time it is read.

My favorite author left this earth two decades ago. She will never write again, But my Lord, who left earth two millennia ago, is still present in my everyday world, and writes on my heart.  I see evidence of Him each day in creation, in words of a song, a smile of a friend, even on Facebook.  Yet nothing beats cuddling into His Word. His Word still breathes life into me.

It took an old paperback in my mail locker to remind me of that fact.

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Growing up, Mom draped comforters over the ends of our beds. It was an extra cover in case we got cold in the night. Weather in Texas can change in a heart beat. When we felt ill, she would wrap us in our comforter and place us on the couch so she could go about her housework and still keep a watchful eye onID-100112567 us. To this day, a comforter symbolizes love, healing, warmth, and security to me. I still keep one at the end of my bed.  And when I am ill, I still snatch it off my bed and migrate to the couch.

Being cozy and warm is like having arms wrapped around you. You feel cocooned in peace and sheltered from the harsh winds of the world. Prayer shawls can have that effect. They make you feel as if you are enveloped in God’s love. Even without my shawl, my prayer time with God often feels that way, no matter if I am praying for someone else or  if I am coming to Him on contrite knees asking forgiveness. I still feel His Holy Spirit hugging me. His presence surrounds me, protects me and loves on me.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,iwho comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 

That is how Paul starts off his second letter to the Corinthian Christians. My brain spun around this verse like a loop-de-loop on a roller coaster. It wove in and out of the clauses in a spiral that didn’t end. If  I wrote that passage today, my editor would have sent it back with so many red marks all over it – over use of the same words, run-on sentences, etc.

Yet, Paul gives us a true golden nugget because his progression is logical. Giving comfort is a non-ending spiral.  Before we can comfort, we have to have been comforted.You cannot share an experience you have never had. And, because we have been comforted, we should now comfort others. Why? Because as Christians, our comforter is the Father of  mercies and God of all comfort. He designed it so that our response to His comfort would be to spread that comfort to others and lead them to Him.

Because I know my Lord forgives my iniquities, I can more easily forgive others. That opens me to being able to provide them comfort, and more importantly, showing them my Lord who is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.

Are your comfort-able to receive God’s mercy and love? Maybe you will feel called to wrap His love around someone else’s shoulders like a comforter this week? Or perhaps, you need to become more comfortable with the idea of allowing someone to wrap His comfort around you. Whichever scenario fits your situation, it’s okay. Grab your comforter, prayer shawl or blankie and snuggle in. Comfort awaits.

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buster on blankieIt’s been bitter cold for Texas. Schools have been closed. Icy roads and parking lots that resemble skating rinks have kept holiday shoppers at bay. Large tree limbs and power lines have cracked and tumbled from the weight of the ice. Facebook is littered with ice and snow pictures.

Even churches shut down for Sunday services and told their congregations to stay home and stay safe. They posted their lessons and sermons online so their flocks could cyberspace worship.

Our thin,Texas blood, designed for 100 plus F temps in the summer, is not insulating us very well from the sub-freezing digits that have settled over the state.Fleece sweat pants, knobby sweaters and gallons of hot tea and cocoa are not sufficient to keep the chill off the back of our necks.

Same for our pets! But they are smart. My cat decided the left hand side of my desk was optimal for catching the blast of warmth from the central heating vent. But he was still cold. So, I took my prayer shawl, which always hangs on my desk chair ready for use, and folded it for him to lie upon. He slept peacefully and allowed me to get my praying, writing, and Bible study done. And yes, check my email and Facebook, and bank online, too.

And of course, God decided to use my cat nestled in my prayer shawl as a lesson. That is where I found Him today. He showed me (again) that —

Prayer is our insulator. When life bears down on us and the world seems harsh and cold, the warmth of God’s love can envelope us like a towel fresh from the dryer. All we need to do is to wrap ourselves in His peace, settle in and rest.

But instead, how often do I try other ways to “stay warm”? Do I dash for chocolate and carbs, or veg out on a favorite TV show that allows me to escape the things on my mind, or indulge in a computer game with superficial cyber-friends?

Prayer can cushion us from the icy stares of others, from the slippery paths that tempt us, and the cold harshness that those without faith call reality.

But instead, how often do I turn to other sources or people for advice, direction and protection?

Prayer can soften the hard, frigid surfaces of our lives and bring us comfort.

But instead, how often do I seek comfort in other ways?

Lord God, blanket me in Your love today. Let me feel the warmth of Your Holy Spirit wrapped around me. Cushion me for the world and comfort me with your inestimable love. Let me seek you first, and not the things of this world. And in all things, let me ever praise You and seek Your blessings in all that happens. I choose to nestle in You and not in the things that fade. I pray this through Your Son who hung on the cross for my sake.  Amen.

 

 

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Yesterday another lady and I, who are on the women’s ministry board for our denomination, drove about two hours south to support a small church in our jurisdiction. They were having a fall bazaar. It was a good chance to meet some of the ladies and personally invite them to the function we were having for all the women in a month’s time.

One lady, who was somewhat elderly, had a booth of beautifully handmade beaded jewelry. She explained how learning to do beadwork had kept her busy since her mother passed away last year. She’d been her mother’s caregiver for over 6 years. I saw the deep pain in her eyes, but I also saw God’s comfort.  I could tell He had been there with her, through her church, her friends and in this new endeavor. Her faith was a balm for her sorrow. Hovering between us as we talked was the Holy Spirit wrapping her in a love that will never leave her.  It made me realize anew how He’s there for me, and you, and all of us who believe, giving purpose to our times of sorrow and  emptiness.

I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. Jeremiah 31:13b

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