Monday, September 24, 2012

WORSHIPPING in LOSS


By Monique Zackery

 “At this, Job got up and tore his rob and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: 'Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.' In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” – Job 1:20-22
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Loss is hard—really hard. This you already know. I’ve recently discovered that loss while you’re leading in ministry can be even harder. To lead out of brokenness and grief is one of the most vulnerable places to be. That’s where I found myself earlier this year.

My husband and I have been married almost five years and have been praying for children. By the grace and power of God, He allowed us to conceive. I worshipped God for our gift… a prayer answered!

Fast forward to now….

I sit here typing almost eight months later with a belly that never grew and a heart that broke into a thousand pieces. We miscarried.

It’s interesting that just weeks before then I had been studying Job. I was blown away at his response to tremendous loss. Within less than twenty-four hours his livestock were stolen, his servants were killed, his sheep were burned, and all of his Sons and Daughters lost their lives after a house collapsed on them. And what did Job do? Yes, he wept. Yes, he mourned. But his immediate response toward God…

He worshipped.

The resounding question in my mind has been, “How?”

You see, this really hit home for me because part of my role in ministry is not just “Pastor’s Wife". It's also “Worship Leader”.

Oh, I worshipped whole-heartedly when that little blue line appeared on the test. I fell to my knees in tears of joy, praising God, for He had given. I cannot say the same thing happened the moment that sonogram revealed our reality.

I’ve wondered how Job could, in the same breath, say “the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

I’m still on the journey to find the full answer to that question. I am still leading out of my brokenness. I love what Shannon shared with us in her post two weeks ago: “What ministry requires, none of us have the capacity to give. We have to limp every morning to His waiting arms.” This seems especially true in grief.

As I continue to lead our local body through worship, one of the main things I’m taking away from this season of loss is this:

True freedom in worship will come from an un-offended heart towards God.

Although anger tends to be a taboo topic in the church, it is one of the universal stages of grief. And although God does not do any wrong, it's possible for us to charge Him with wrong doing in our suffering. After speaking with many Christian women who have experienced miscarriage, I learned that carrying an offense towards God after loss is almost as common as crying. 

I'm learning that sometimes God comes through for us in His own sovereign way, as oppose to the way in which we hoped He would have. It seems Job was able to worship freely in grief because “he did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing”. (Job 1:22)

Sweet sister, if you have experienced any type of loss that has resulted in an offense [whether it be loss of a loved one, miscarriage, any type of trauma, an unanswered prayer, or even moving away from family, friends & comfort to answer the call of ministry], I pray that you will release that unto our Lord.

It’s in the moments of releasing an offense that we can see clearly how God is sovereign and righteous in every way. He truly is the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, near to the broken hearted, and Savior to the crushed in spirit.

May we always see Him as the Perfect One He is—Healer in loss and in grief—worthy of praise at all times.

On the road to healing,

Monique Zackery

________________________________


Monique is a Northern California Pastor's wife. When she isn't glueing her fingers together in a D.I.Y. project, you can find her worshiping God through music and everyday life.  Above all, she desires to be an arrow, pointing others to Jesus. To learn more about Monique, you can visit her family ministry blog at www.TheZackerys.blogspot.com

Monday, September 17, 2012

When the Preacher Gets Sick

By Christy Fitzwater

Three years ago my husband made a trip to Kampala, Uganda, to visit and help out our missionary friends on the ground there. 


He took three malaria pills (Mefloquine) that changed the next two years of our lives. 

When he returned home he had jet lag just like everyone experiences, except it didn't go away. Then other symptoms were added to the fatigue: Severe anxiety attacks, heart palpitations, body pain, headaches, loss of appetite, and insomnia. It was a severe central nervous system reaction to the Mefloquine.   

We started to read and learned that if Matt were able to recover it would take approximately two years. 

Three years later he occasionally gets symptoms but is mostly better.

Early in the illness, my daughter said, I feel like my dad went to Africa and never came back. 

I wondered if I would ever have my husband back the way I knew him before. Every night for the first eight months I cried myself to sleep. 

Early on, though, I accepted this illness from the Lord as an opportunity to learn to serve my husband. I had been praying through the year before that God would help me grow in my ability to humbly serve people. Wow did I get to practice.   

My husband needed ice packs and back massages. He needed me to carry his chore load. I prayed through it –thanking God for giving me the lessons in serving I had asked for. 

But it was hard. And lonely. Our social life dwindled to nothing because Matt barely had the energy to get himself to work every day, let alone enjoy life with anyone. In that loneliness I reached for the Lord, and He was there. I found in God an intimate companionship I had never experienced before. 

Those first two horrible years of illness make me shiver when I think about them. So much pain and struggle. 

And I love those two years. I’m not the same person I was before Matt stepped off that plane and into a season of illness. Our marriage is deeper since we have experienced the sickness part of “in sickness and in health”. My relationship with God is stronger. 

Have you lost something? 
Welcome the loss. Despite the grief and struggle, accept what God is handing you and lean into it –learning and growing. It can be beautiful.




Christy Fitzwater is a pastor's wife and the mother of two teenagers in Kalispell, Montana.  To get to know her better, visit her devotional blog site "Off the Shelf" at http://www.christyfitzwater.com/.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Counting the Cost


And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, 
after you have suffered a little while, 
will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
1 Peter 5:10

My mom stayed home with me. I expected to grow up and do the same but when my fiance graduated from college his first salary was the same as my Dad's had been over four decades prior. Our lifestyle and desires demanded I work and when a baby happened along two years into marriage, I chose to be a working mom.

Still those stay-at-home moms seemed to me to have it so easy. They spent lazy days at the park or the pool. They colored and played with playdough. They had plenty of time to plan and execute elaborate meals and entertain. 

My first marriage ended in divorce and I thought my dreams of life at home died with it. But God's poured out mercy at abundantly on a single mom and her two little girls. God sent a knight in shining armor...okay so it was an executive with a red Corvette. In two year's time we met, fell in love and at long last my dream of being home with my children was fulfilled.

Life as a stay-at-home mom wasn't near as idealistic as I had envisioned. Most days I felt lost and useless. Whether I realized it or not, I had defined myself by my work and the sense of accomplishment it gave me.

I hadn't counted the cost.

Two children and five years later, Scott would leave the corporate world to enter vocational ministry. In 30 days time, we lost significant income, our dream home, our church home and living near family. 

More devastating was the emotional losses. I cried nearly every day. Never had I felt more alone or lonely.

I hadn't counted the cost.

Whether you're a 30 year ministry veteran or ministry virgin, ministry will demand loss. 

Have you counted the cost?

What ministry requires none of us have the capacity to give. We have to limp every morning into His waiting arms. He fills what others empty. He alone can make us strong, firm and steadfast because...

He already counted the cost.
_________________________


Shannon is a morning runner, an afternoon carpooler and all-day lover of Jesus.

She is the voice of Jesus & My Orange Juice, a fresh-squeezed oasis for ordinary living. Shannon finds joy among piles of laundry and miles of carpools and delights in leading others to this place of contentment in life, through the written and spoken word.

Connect with her online at ShannonMilholland.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Learning from Loss


"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised."
Job 1:21


The man who spoke these words thousands of years ago*, wrote them after experiencing a tremendous amount of loss. 

Job lost his sheep, his oxen, his donkeys, his camels, his health and every one of his ten children. Yes, all of his ten children.

And to make matters worse, after suffering this great loss, his wife ridiculed him for holding on to his integrity. Her words of advice to him: "Curse God and die!" How's that for kicking a man while he's down?

And why, you ask, would Job have to suffer so? Perhaps he was suffering from rebellion against God. Maybe for ignoring God during the course of his days. Maybe for living a life that's contrary to God's laws.

Actually, the Bible says this about Job: "This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil." Job 1:1 Job was a good man -- a godly man, even.

Job shows us a few things we would do well to understand about loss and pain:

Loss Comes to Us All

"Funeral Procession" by Ellis Wilson
We all endure pain and loss in life. From the moment we enter the world, we begin lives filled with ups and downs. We have good days and bad. We have joys and sorrows. We enjoy great gains and great losses.

Just last week, I traveled to Baltimore, Maryland to attend the funeral of my dear Aunt Augusta. My life is full of memories of Aunt Augusta's good cooking, her calm, soft-spoken nature and her comfortable home that I spent many a night in during my childhood. Aunt Augusta (affectionately known as Aunt Chuckie) had suffered from various illnesses over the years, but in the end, she died after a tragic freak accident.

Loss has been an unwelcome companion to me and my family these days.

Has it been your unwelcome companion too?

Loss Is Not Always Punishment

Job reminds us that loss doesn't only come to evil men and women. Loss comes to godly men and godly women. Loss comes to children -- innocent babies, even. Loss is a part of life. It is a part of every life.

Job's response to his wife's advice to "curse God and die" sheds light on this. His words: "You are talking foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"

A question we must ask ourselves. Will we only accept the good times in life? We must accept the good with the bad, the joy with the heartache, the harvest with the droughts.

Loss Can Make Us Better

If we endure the heartaches of life, and continue to trust God through them, God will make us better for it. I've endured my share of loss in life: two miscarriages, multiple relocations, and career disappointments, just to name a few.

Each time, I've had days I thought I wouldn't make it through to the other side. Yet, I always do. And not only do I make it through, but I come out the other side looking a little more like the Savior.

I'm sure you've experienced your share of loss too.

My Sister, just know there is purpose in pain. God loves you. Trust Him.

Even through the losses of life.

Love,

Carla **



* Quick Bible Tidbit: Bible scholars believe that Job's writings were the first written - even before the book of Genesis.

** Carla Adair Hendricks is a pastor's wife (since 2001), a Mama to four beautiful, rambunctious children, an adoption/foster care advocate, a writer, a lover of current events and public policy and a lover and follower of Jesus Christ. (Definitely not in that order!) She currently resides in Conway, Arkansas, but also calls Baltimore, Maryland and Franklin, Tennessee home. She founded "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" to encourage and uplift ministry wives around the globe, but has been pleasantly surprised over the blessing this blog has been to women from all walks of life. Visit her personal blog, "Deep Waters" here, and join Carla and other ministry wives every Monday right here at "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" for weekly encouragement.



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