New Hope for Marriage Women’s Retreat

I’m excited about the NEW HOPE FOR MARRIAGE women’s retreat I’m co-facilitating with Christie Miller. We have a few spaces available for the Feb. 20-21 date. Know someone who is discouraged in her marriage and needs some new hope – new energy – and a new plan? This is a great weekend opportunity. Small, private, encouraging!

For more information: www.nwspeakers.com

Be a Burden Bearer

When I was 33-years old, I slipped on an icy sidewalk and fractured my knee cap. Ouch! I never dreamed how much something that looked like a simple “skinned knee” could impact my life. In an instant, I had been sidelined. It was as if God had grabbed me and said, “You, Deb. Time out. You’re benched until further notice.” I had an inkling that I’d been hiding

from my emotional pain. The reality that my husband Randy was an alcoholic lurked in my thoughts. But if I stayed busy enough, I could  avoid the truth that was too painful to confront.

I spent weeks on the couch, my leg in a huge plaster cast from my ankle to my thigh. I couldn’t run away–even if I wanted to. Instead, I had a front row seat to observe what was happening in my marriage–and it wasn’t pretty.

A friend had told me about a Christian counseling practice in Seattle called Burden Bearers. She encouraged me to call and make an appointment. I remember the day my friend loaded me and my crutches into the backseat of her Ford Pinto, my bulky cast propped on the console. She drove me to my first counseling appointment at Burden Bearers–an important step on my journey toward healing.

A burden bearer was exactly what I needed–and what Jesus commands us to be for others, like my friend was for me.

     Galatians 6:2 tells us:  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 

It’s true that sometimes we feel too weak and overwhelmed to carry another person’s burdens. That’s when God sends people to help us. Since my knee injury, I’ve had many opportunities to help someone else who’s carrying a heavy load. It’s usually in an area where I’ve also walked and learned and grown–and experienced God’s faithfulness and mercy.

I love the story from the book of Mark, about the paralytic man who is carried to Jesus on a mat by his four friends. They’re convinced Jesus can help him. When they can’t get close enough to Jesus because of the crowds, they take matters into their own hands.They climb up on the roof and make an opening so they can lower their paralyzed friend down –right in front of Jesus. That took some boldness. I probably would’ve said, I guess we aren’t going to see Jesus today…and resigned myself to that. But these friends were determined. They were desperate to help their friend. We will get him to Jesus–no matter what! These friends are burden bearers in every sense of the word.

So what does it mean to come alongside someone in a time of need? How can you be a burden bearer?

  •  Be Available

          You don’t need all the answers or a degree in counseling. You need to be willing to listen and offer support. Let your friend know she isn’t walking this road alone. Sometimes your quiet presence means everything.    

  •  Be Bold

           Be a “roof ripper,” as a friend of mine described the actions of the paralytic man’s friends.  Step out of your comfort zone. Send the note or email. Even better, make the phone call. Offer to be a burden bearer.  

    • Be Compassionate

    It’s easy to get caught up in our daily routines and not be aware of others who are hurting. Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision, said:

                        Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God. 
             
             And then help me do something about it. Take action. Get beyond my own self-centered  thinking. Lord, help us be connected with others so we’ll know when there’s a need.   

    Our world is filled with hurt and pain. You don’t have to look far to find opportunities to reach out to others who are struggling. I can hardly imagine where I’d be today if I hadn’t had friends who came to carry me through some tough times. I am so grateful for the opportunity to pass this comfort 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 have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 

      Who is in your life who needs a burden bearer?
                                                                                            
       

    Reach Out!

    The half hour drive from Meridian, Idaho to Boise seemed like the longest of my life. Late one night, I packed our 10 and 7-year old sons in the car with me to escape the turmoil at home. My husband Randy had been drinking again. I suspected that he was an alcoholic. If I admitted that, then I’d be faced with reality–with the elephant that stalked our house. I felt at a total loss in knowing what to do.

    A few nights before, I had accused Randy of being an alcoholic. It was as if I’d thrown gasoline on a simmering fire. He exploded in anger and shoved me against the kitchen wall. I wanted to run away and never come back. But two little boys slept upstairs. I’m sure they weren’t really sleeping– probably terrified of what was happening between their parents. Even after 30 + years, I still remember how desperate I felt.

    I made the brave decision to take Chris and Jeremy with me to a women’s shelter at the YWCA in Boise. A kind woman greeted us at the door when we arrived. She showed us to a neat room with three roll-away beds. She assured us we would be safe. I hugged and kissed my sons and tried my best to reassure them. I’m not sure I slept much that night, but I felt some relief. We stayed there for a few days. After having several counseling sessions and discussions with Randy, I decided to go home.

    Even though it would be a long time before our home was a peaceful place, I had learned some important truths. I was no longer alone. I had been directed to Al-Anon, a support group for families and friends of alcoholics. There I would find tools and resources to help me deal with our problems. The journey toward my own healing and wholeness had begun. I will always be grateful for the YWCA in Boise and their caring staff who took us in that night. I also learned that no matter how bleak a situation appears, there is always hope for change.

    How often I’ve thought about the need we as women have for a time-out when circumstances get crazy. Maybe you’re not dealing with alcoholism and a spouse who is physically or verbally abusive. But you’re tired, weary. You need a place to just be quiet and hear yourself think. A place where you feel loved and can be reassured that you are going to be all right.  

    Remember, you are not alone. Help is only a phone call or internet click away. The YWCA was only my first step of support. I could write pages to list all the friends, counselors, and support groups who have been part of my recovery journey.

    Today, I can hardly believe I’m the same woman who made that impossibly long drive to reach out for help. I can hardly believe Randy is the same man who desperately needed to check out of reality by drinking. Today we enjoy the gift and miracle of sobriety in our lives and peace that comes from knowing we are in the center of God’s will.

    When you are called out of crippling fear…you will be amazed at what God has planned for you. There is a world of breathtaking wonder wrapped up in trusting God with everything you have and everything you are. You will discover that you are free! –Sheila Walsh

    Let me know if you need to reach out for help. I’d love to help you take a step on your journey to freedom!
      

    Raise the White Flag!

    I called my homeless brother yesterday. I only wanted to say that I love him. He couldn’t hear that. He thought I was trying to intervene, judging him. He told me his life is miserable, the party’s over–not that there ever was a party, I thought. I tried to interject hope into his hopeless comments.

    You don’t have to do this alone, I said. But he couldn’t hear me in his deafness to allow anyone to help him. I’m going to recover on my own, he insisted. I don’t need anyone to help me.

    My heart aches for him. I’ve walked this road before with my husband, Randy, as he struggled to find freedom from his addiction to alcohol. And as I struggled to let go, to finally admit there wasn’t anything I could do to fix or change him. 

    It’s funny how we think we have the power to help someone else choose life over an addiction or other destructive behaviors. Fear got in the way of my ability to surrender my husband. I believed I had the power to decide for him. I thought if I let go of Randy, he would die. That’s a scary place to put ourselves in–and rather presumptuous. Do I really think I have that kind of power? Hm…I don’t think so. I am thankful there is One who has all power–and that one isn’t me!

    Surrender!

    There comes a time when we need to raise the white flag. We not only surrender our loved ones, but we also surrender ourselves to the Lord. We let go so God can work in our lives and theirs. We let go so we can be free from the anxiety that is destroying us. By surrendering, we choose a way that brings life to us–and possibly to our loved ones as well.

    There are no pretenses or illusions about any noble efforts to save someone you love. This is rock-bottom where the rubber sole meets the road. You admit that what you’ve been doing isn’t working. You don’t have what it takes to motivate another person  to change their behavior. Only God can do that. Finally you give your impossible situation to God.

    In Alcoholics Anonymous, they describe surrender in three steps:

    1. I can’t do it.
    2. God can.
    3. I will let Him.

    There’s something powerful about recognizing we can’t do what needs to be done in our own strength. This might sound depressing. If we can’t do anything…who can? Ah…that’s the very place God wants us to be. He doesn’t need us, really. He has access to infinite resources. Sometimes the most we can do is simply get out of the way. We intentionally let go of our loved ones. This doesn’t mean we abandon them or stop loving them. Instead, we lovingly entrust them to Jesus. He loves them more than we can imagine. What better place for them to be! The Lord knows every detail about them. He even knows every hair on their heads. He loves them with an everlasting love. Our love pales in comparison.

    Author Jan Johnson says it well: 

    Letting go is both too simple and too difficult. It looks like weakness instead of strength, like losing instead of gaining, and it is. As we relinquish control and admit weaknesses, we remember who we are and why we’re here…This need to control is rooted in fear, but I need to do the thing that is rooted in faith–surrender.  

    Once again, I find myself in a place of letting go. This time I know it’s the very best for me and for the brother I love so dearly. 

    Is there a situation in your life where you need to surrender?

     

    Here I Am, Lord!

    Be careful what you pray for…we’ve probably all heard that before, but I’m understanding more about the power of this prayer.

    At Thanksgiving, I read an editorial in the Seattle Times that talked about being thankful as not being enough. The writer said we have to do something–another challenge to the many others I had already encountered during the past year. It all started when I read The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision. I had heard his passionate message at a Women of Faith gathering.

    We have to do something about poverty and injustice in our world–not just talk about it. So I started praying the Here-I-am-Lord, send-me prayer. How can I help? What can I do?

    Randy and I have been sponsoring children in Brazil for more than twenty years–but somehow, it doesn’t seem like enough.

    Then one day before Thanksgiving, Kennedy Muricho, a young pastor from Kenya, introduced himself via Facebook.

    “I saw your Facebook page, and I wanted to meet you,” he wrote.

    I answered him, always amazed at how small our world is, how connected we are because of the Internet.

    “You are an answer to my prayers, Mum,” he emailed back. And suddenly, I had an adopted “son” in Kenya. Not just a “son”, but a small village of children, too! Ken is caring for 19 orphans, ages 3-18 who have lost their parents because of AIDS. They live in a two-room building, where Ken says the conditions are “kind of congested.”

    He sent me a picture, and now these children are real. They’re on the wall on my bulletin board at home, not just anonymous faces on cards asking for sponsors. Their pictures say more than any words could.

    On some level, we all know the needs of the poor are enormous–beyond anything we can comprehend when we’ve hardly ever been wanting in our country. I can’t remember a time when I was hungry…I mean really hungry. But when we read books such as The Hole in Our Gospel, we have to ask the hard questions. What can I do, Lord? I want to–no, I must do more!

    Sometimes, I feel like helping Ken and his kids is way beyond my means. I’m only one person, but I’m convinced even one person can make a difference.

    Then I remember a quote the agency we’ve been supporting placed on their correspondence: To the world you might be one person, but to one person, you just might be the world.

    Dear Jesus, help me be the world to Pastor Ken and his kids in Kenya!