Into Your Hands

“Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’

When he had said this he breathed his last.” Luke 23:46

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The verse we read in Luke 23:46 as part of the Easter story is also referenced in Psalm 31:5. Several sources I came across while researching indicated that the phrase “into your hands I commit my spirit” was how the Jewish people ended their evening prayers.

I would imagine that like other Jewish children, Jesus was taught this prayer as a young child. It was a familiar practice that was an act of trust. To commit something of value to another is not a small thing.  By definition commit means to entrust something to someone; it also means to put into a place for safekeeping. (Merriman Webster).

By committing their spirit to God each evening they were submitting their soul for safekeeping.  What a beautiful picture of complete submission to the will of the father. We know that Jesus had prayed on the Mount of Olives asking for this cup to be taken from him but he surrendered by concluding his prayer with “not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). This too would line up with committing his spirit to Father God.

Then, we have the account in Mark 15:34 of Jesus crying out asking God “why have you forsaken me?” According to Mark, this was at 3 O’clock.  Luke’s account begins at noon, followed by three hours of darkness and then right before Jesus says, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” Luke mentions that it is 3 O’clock.  This would imply that only moments after asking why God had forsaken him, Jesus then acknowledges that he is committing his spirit to the father.

In his darkest hour, burdened by the weight of my sin and the sins of the whole world, sins that had not yet been committed, sins that God in his holiness could not look upon, Jesus felt the crushing despair of complete and utter abandonment.  But yet, he still trusted that his spirit would be safe with the father.

His loud proclamation of “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” tells us all we need to know about God’s faithfulness.  It tells us that a daily practice of committing our spirit (soul) to him is how we develop trust in him, it is how we surrender to his will, not ours, and it is how we can face our own mortality with confidence.  When the time comes, just as Jesus did, we can breathe our last breath knowing that we will be united with our Father eternally.

Maybe you are facing insurmountable trials that are shaking your very foundation.  Maybe you feel that God has turned his back on you and your world has gone dark. Maybe you are crushed under the weight of despair.  I urge you to remember that if you are a born again believer you have hope and even when it seems that all is lost, you can confidently say, “Father, into your hand I commit my spirit.” You can trust him with the safekeeping of your soul.

If you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior I can’t think of a better time than during the Easter season.

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen”

Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Committing with Grace,

Teresa

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A Prayer for Your Weekend

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

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We’ve come through several days together, reading and remembering.  Allowing our grief to make itself known.  I know many of you are remembering your own grief and maybe my words are helping you in some way.

For me, acknowledging the goodness of God even in the midst of my grief is a way to remember that he alone is good and he is sovereign.  I can trust him with my grief and my life.

I felt that at this point in the journey I wanted to say a prayer for you, for us. I hope it brings you comfort:

I pray that we will walk in your light, Heavenly  Father and bow our head before you.  Help us to allow your peace to radiate our inmost being and fill us with hope everlasting.

Show us how to practice Thanksgiving in everything and live, arms outstretched, palms wide open to receive your  goodness. With your help we will love others out of the abundance of love you shower on us . We seek to serve generously.

We know, God that you are good and you will be our comfort. I pray that we find the strength to trust you in all things and acknowledge your sovereignty. Help us surrender to your desires and allow you to write our story.

We rest in your arms because that is the only safe haven.  We lay our grief at your feet and ask for healing and peace.

We pray in the name of Jesus.

Amen.

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Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Click here for the complete series, A 31 Day Journey through grief.

Road To A Diagnosis (health journey part 3)

Today’s post is part three in a four-part series about my recent health journey.  What started out as one post, morphed into an impromptu series.  If you want to read them in sequence you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

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In the fall of 2014 I went through my usual fall depression, except several months later, the realization hit, that I hadn’t bounced back like usual. In fact, I was falling deeper into depression and my stress levels were at the screaming point.  I had an impending sense of doom.  I knew I felt horrible and had such extreme fatigue that many days getting out of bed was just too much. Crying seemed like a good option much of the time.  I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything.  I felt guilty for all the things I wasn’t doing and all the people I thought I was letting down.  I was afraid to go to the doctor because I was afraid I’d find out I was going to die.  I didn’t want to die; I wanted to live.  But, I wanted to live well, not tired and cranky.

The stretch of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas was especially stressful for me, and I ended up with lower back pain so severe I could barely get around.  When it didn’t go away, I knew I needed to see a doctor.  My husband went with me and between the two of us, we managed to tell him all the symptoms I had been having.  He immediately started ordering blood work and sent me for an MRI.  Thankfully my back got better, and the MRI only showed mild to moderate Osteoarthritis.  But, the blood work showed some possible Autoimmune issues, so I was sent to a Rheumatologist, thus beginning a several month journey that led to a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, and eventually Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (MCTD) in August of 2015.

I went into denial for a couple of months, and the depression continued.  On the one hand, it was a relief to know that all my symptoms had a reason, and I wasn’t a hypochondriac or lazy.   On the other hand, to know that your body is attacking you and a simple nap won’t cure you, is disconcerting to say the least.  About the time I was starting to make peace with the MCTD and decided that I should just stay away from researching the disease on the internet (too many scary possibilities), I started having more than my usual shortness of breath. Because of the MCTD, there was a possibility that I could be developing Pulmonary Hypertension. To me, this would almost be like hearing a death sentence as it can be very aggressive and depending on how far advanced can significantly shorten your lifespan.

My doctor felt that a CT scan of my lungs was in order as well as an echocardiogram and a pulmonary function test. The CT and the Echocardiogram were both relatively standard.  The CT showed a possible enlargement of my thyroid and a nodule, so I had to have an ultrasound, which showed that I did, in fact, have three nodules, one of which was larger than the standard and required a biopsy. The results came back benign, no sign of cancer.  I am very Thankful and praising God for that piece of good news.  He is good.  But, I need to say, if the diagnosis had been cancer, he would still be good.  I had already told him I’d still praise him if I had to go through cancer on top of everything else.  I’m just thankful that I don’t have to fight that journey.

The echocardiogram showed mild pulmonary hypertension so next on my journey was a visit to a cardiologist who seemed to think, based on my weight, that my findings were not too unusual.  He wants to follow-up in a year.  I am trusting that the numbers will be better in a year and not worse as that would not be good. There is also the possibility that the lung function is a result of the pneumonia I had back in 2011  and not the MCTD.  It is crucial going forward to keep watch as I don’t want worsening symptoms.  Also, the cardiologist seemed to think I should have a sleep study to rule out sleep apnea, so that is next on the medical to do list that seems to keep growing.  Have I mentioned yet that I am so over Doctor appointments?

When I saw my Rheumatologist in August she started mentioning medications, but I didn’t want to start new drugs, and she said we’d wait on the bloodwork.  When she called me a couple of weeks later to tell me that she was officially diagnosing MCTD, she wanted me to start on Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), which is an anti-malaria drug. It is supposed to build up my immune system and will help with the pain somewhat. It should also help lower my inflammation.  It is easily tolerated, but can cause damage to the retina, so I will have to have my eyes examined often to make sure there is no damage.  So far, it seems to be helping.  After a couple of months on the medication, I noticed that I was having a few more good energy days and less pain.  I go back in February to have everything tested again. So far, I’m not showing any major symptoms of the overlap diseases, other than the mild pulmonary hypertension, extreme fatigue, achy joints and a tendency for my fingers and toes to be cold and feel numb at times. The goal is to get the disease in remission. If we can accomplish that, then my chances of complications from the disease are lower. Prayer request.

The MCTD still wipes me out some days.  The achy joints and muscles that go with both the MCTD and Fibromyalgia slow me down. I’m learning that naps are sometimes necessary, and when my body has had enough, I have to respect that.  I can’t just push through the fatigue as that could cause a major flare-up and make my symptoms worse.  I never know until I wake up what kind of day it’s going to be.  I may have a good day and even feel energetic.  I may go to bed feeling pretty good, only to wake up in pain and so tired I can’t imagine getting up yet.

Some days the effort to get a shower is about all the energy I have. Many days the thought of preparing dinner and doing the dishes is more than I can handle, so we eat take-out way too often.   When I cook, I try to cook enough for leftovers or prepare soup we can eat on a few times.

I say no to a lot of things.  Not because I want to be anti-social (well a little of that could be my introversion) but because I simply do not always feel like getting out, or being around people.  I imagine cooking family dinners, or having friends over, but that doesn’t often happen because it takes too much energy.  At times I will be puttering around the house doing simple tasks such as laundry and poof, just like that, I’m done for the day.  I usually have two to three hours before the energy gives way.  If I time everything just right and get a nap, then some days I can have two energy spurts.

If I take care of myself and stay on a schedule, then I think it can all be very manageable.  However, in addition, to self-care, I’m also my Dad’s support for my mom who has Alzheimer’s.  If you know anything at all about Alzheimer’s, then you know that there is nothing routine.  Even in good health, my mom was not a person that could be predicted by her routine.  So, I have to allow for her needs, which means some days I take care of her, and I rest and everything else gets shoved aside. I realize that my priorities will have to change. I further realize that I can only travel this journey in God’s strength.  And, I need the prayer support of friends and family.

I share this with you because I needed to see it all in writing to know how I’m dealing with the process and possibly to make it real.  I share it so that those who know me and are around me can understand what I’m going through – you can read this and then we don’t have to talk about it so much.  JK, sort of 🙂

Maybe, too, it will help you understand the world of silent diseases a little better.  To most people I look well and I’m sure there are times I sit one out or don’t show up and it seems like I’m just lazy or anti-social. The truth is I may be in such deep fatigue or pain that I can’t fathom being on my feet another moment; it is possible that quiet and rest is the best thing for me.  I can’t plan ahead well and guarantee that I’ll be ok on any given day.  There have been many times I plan for an event and when it arrives it is just too overwhelming.  So, I tend to wing it most days and not plan too far ahead.

I am not complaining, although some days I do fall into that temptation. And although some days my faith wavers,  I am trusting God because I know he is faithful. He is the one who stands beside me, and he is the one who will sustain me.  He is my buckler.

Moving forward will be a learning curve and I’m sure there will be gifts to unwrap in the process.

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Moving forward in grace,

Teresa

The Lord Is

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.      Psalm 18:2

The Lord just is.  I need him to be. He is my source of joy.  In all things.

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He travels with me down unknown paths.  He restores.  He is the joy bringer. He just is.

Trusting in Grace,

Teresa

Prompted By Work

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Today’s post is Part of a 31 Day writing series where I will choose moments from my life and let them be my writing prompt for the day.  I am in office manager mode today getting ready for piano students to show up this afternoon.  I decided to write about our work reality and how God is providing. Click the image for the complete series.

 

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Today is a work day for me and I say that very loosely. Very. Loosely.    I may have mentioned that Mr. Piano recently started a Piano Studio. I am the Office Manager. Pretty much volunteer, but still things have to be organized.

We finally decided in August, after several months of waffling back and forth,  to open our doors beginning in September.  We put an add in the local paper and started a Facebook page.  You can go there and like it if you wish.

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It was a slow start with one student, and then a couple weeks ago, we added five more almost all at once.  That was encouraging. Five weeks in and we have six students.  Now, we just need to keep adding. The goal is to eventually have enough students that we can find a studio space separate from our home.  We trust God to provide the students we need and who need us.

We are loving our students and getting to know them.  They have supportive parents which is a blessing.  And they are a bright group.  We are thankful that God is blessing our home business and we are excited to see how he continues to provide.

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, or if you know us, then you know that my husband graduated with his DMA in piano in 2013. When he went back to school, it was to fulfill a dream and also with the goal of pursuing teaching at a University. He has been applying for positions since 2012.  Every door that looked like it might open was abruptly slammed shut.  He also applied for several Minister of Music Positions (this is what he did before going back to school).  Again, every door that looked like it might open was slammed shut.

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It is hard not to take a slammed door personal, even when you are doing your best to trust that God has a plan for you that is better than what you can imagine.   It is hard to let go of the dream and trust that God may have other plans or a different timeline. It is hard to wrap your head around the fact that a professional musician can find paid work in a small town.  Paid being the key word.  It is easy to find plenty of volunteer positions.  And volunteering is great and necessary and we want to continue giving back, but if you want to pay your bills you also need a source of income.

All that I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

We realized we we had been putting God in a box, and we finally had to acknowledge that he is the man with the plan.  It is not our decision.  He knows what is best for us now and in the future.  We knew this of course in theory, but still the doubts were looming large. So, we put our faith into action and believed that God would provide work for a professional musician in a small town if we would make ourselves willing and available. It is going to be exciting to see how he provides.

In addition to teaching Mr. Piano also gives concerts in churches (he has openings) and plays for weddings, funerals and other events.  He does music accompaniment at a University in a neighboring town; this winter he will be accompanying the theater department as they perform Cabaret.  He has also been substitute teaching.  His plate is getting full.  It’s piecemeal work that fluctuates rather than a job with certainty but he is using his gifts and we are thankful.

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I have changed the way I pray about the future.  Instead of praying for God to open up a certain type of door for my husband, I have been praying for him to send us the work he has for us to do.  I have been asking him to provide our needs the way he sees fit.  I have been trusting that if our savings runs out before our income catches up that he will still provide all our needs.  He always has.  Why would he stop now.

Today is a day that I wear my office hat and hope that the furnace guy is done soon and I have time to mop the floor before the first student arrives.

Working in Grace,

Teresa

 

 

 

end of the old, beginning of the new (part 2)

Update: If you are here from the Lettered Cottage, Welcome!  This is part two of a two part wrap-up and new beginning post that also includes my word for 2013.  You may want to start with Part 1. Thanks for visiting and please feel free to leave a comment!

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When I started my out with the old, in with the new, state of Sadie address yesterday, I had no idea the direction it would take.  I had jotted down some random thoughts earlier in the week and had caught up on several blogs which gave me food for thought.  I basically meant to do a little discourse about my 2012 word and introduce you to my 2013 word(s) and my thoughts about that and lessons learned and so forth.  You get the gist.  I just thought I’d serve up something clever and be on my merry way into 2013.

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What I wasn’t prepared for was the depth of emotion that looking back welled up in me.  In looking back at 2012 I had to actually dip into 2011 for it to make sense.  Everything just came together in one big blur.  I say blur because I actually cried.  I wasn’t expecting the tears or the path I found myself on, but I went with it.  I figured it needed to be said, at least for my benefit and since only about five people besides me read my blog I thought maybe I could be indulged.

I don’t apologize for yesterday’s rather long post or the content because it did help clarify some things for me.  And I think it was necessary for me to deal with the emotions in order to move on.  I realized that over the past few years I have gone through some things (who hasn’t?) in a way that got through them, but didn’t actually deal with them.  They were filed to sort through later.  I also realized that in October of 2012 I began dealing with them in a non-planned sort of way.  I think the cracks in the dam finally gave way and I had no choice.

I came to realize that I had to totally depend on God and trust Him for everything, which led me to the epiphany that I had to rest in him, wait on him, trust in him, and listen for his truth.  Of course I knew all this, but it sank deeper into my soul and found roost.

Around this same time, I remember reading John 15:4 – “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”  The word “remain” lodged in my heart and my first thought was that this would be my word for 2013.  It would be a reminder to rest, wait, trust and listen.  I even wrote it on my kitchen chalkboard wall to remind me, so it sort of became a word for me in 2012 too, along with Joy.

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I think Joy will still linger in 2013; Remain will definitely be big this year and I’m pretty sure a word lover like myself cannot be satisfied with just one word, so stay tuned.  I am excited about the possibilities for 2013 – to grow, to learn, to heal, to discover words, but most importantly – to remain.

Remaining in Grace,

Sadie

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Are you choosing a word for 2013?

Join others to share your word