Grief In The Midst of Trials

As I continue to face a difficult circumstance with a loved one making bad choices with matters going from bad to worse, at times I feel overwhelmed by grief.

I find myself going through the different stages of grief as described by Helen Kubler Ross: denial, depression, guilt, anger, bargaining. I confess the step I have a hard time embracing is acceptance.

Today I feel depressed as I mourn the dire circumstances of this individual’s choices. Rejection of God and His ways contribute to this person’s rapid descent down a slippery slope. It seems nothing I say or pray makes any difference–at least not in her.

But prayer does help me in my battle against hopelessness. As I pray in regard to this individual, I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness in past seemingly hopeless situations. I also think of how far God brought me from the days when I too made many wrong choices.

When I keep my eyes on this wayward soul, grief increases, and I start to sink like Peter did when he took his eyes off of Jesus and focused instead on the increasing winds. (See Matthew 14:29-31) Right this moment the Lord is whispering that if I keep my focus on Him, I will feel uplifted, grateful, and at peace. I’m doing just that, and this depression is subsiding.

Lately a song, “Oh, My Soul” repeatedly comes on the radio and lifts my spirit. One of the main themes of the song is “I’m not alone.” Some days I feel so alone–even as those going through this difficulty with me lash out at me because of their own anxiety and emotional issues in connection to the crisis.

God convinces me through His Word and in songs and His still small voice that He is with me to bring comfort, consolation, and clarity when people around me can’t or won’t.

At various moments I feel shocked by what’s happening. But this I know. God is not surprised about all of this. And He wants to help me through, as well as bring good from all this bad.

A little poem I wrote years ago comes to mind:

My soul see life through God’s eyes.

Give Him each sorrow and pain,

For He can transform bad to good

And every loss to gain.

Not long ago I heard someone say that when the enemy tries to torment us with taunts about difficult circumstances in our lives, we can counter that attack with a praise about all the good God will bring from it.

So right this moment, I choose to do that: Lord, you know how painful this circumstance is. I praise You that You are working in Your way and time to bring about so much good from this so much bad and that somehow You will receive glory from this. Thank You for being with me every moment of the day. Thank You for the comfort You bring. Please help me to turn my grief into gratitude. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

I look forward to proclaiming the good God brings. One thing He’s already done is to draw me closer to Him and give me increased compassion for all those who make wrong choices. I feel so grateful for that.

My life verse also comes to mind and lifts me up: “So do not fear, for I am with you;    do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;     I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10 NIV.

No matter what happens, God is here to help me through. I rejoice over this promise.

“Oh My Soul” by Casting Crowns




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Fear Is A Liar

Recently as I faced a heartache concerning loved ones, a song came on the radio. I praised God for the truth presented in the title of the song and repeated many times by the singer as he sang three powerful words.

Those three words which reminded me of truth that would set me free are these: “Fear is a liar.”

Over the years one of my biggest battles has been with fear. Perhaps that is true for everyone since repeatedly in Scripture we see the command: “Fear not.” The life verse God chose for me centers on fear. Wonderful promises come with His command to let go of fear.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV

As I listened to the song, I realized whenever I feel overwhelmed by fear, there are lies behind the feeling.

Over the years, lies I’ve believed are:

I’m not good enough.

God doesn’t love me.

God loves her more than He loves me.

God refuses to answer my prayers.

No one loves me.

I’m having trials because I’m evil.

I’m never going to be free from this bondage.

In this latest difficult circumstance, I realized I once again battled fear—fear that this circumstance would not get better, but only worse. The lie behind this fear was: “It’s all my fault this is happening.” I concluded if I was a better person, a stronger Christian, I could influence the people doing wrong to do right. If I had been more loving and more godly, they would choose to make godly, loving choices.

But then I realized as I listened to the song that fear is a liar. The people in my life have free will, and are not walking close to God, so they choose too often not to follow in His way. Because they are not closely connected to our all-powerful God, they don’t have the power to resist temptation.

Perhaps they feel overwhelmed by fear, and their wrong choices come because they believe lies the enemy whispers to them. I do know one of them fears failure. I’m sure many lies arise in regard to that fear.

I will continue to pray for loved ones to return fully to the Lord, so they can be empowered to make right choices. I pray they will be delivered from fear. God promises He will do that for any of us who seek Him. I believe this seeking is something we do again and again. I love the promise contained in Psalm 34:4: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”

How I crave to have conquered fear in my life by now. But as long as the enemy is at work, I will battle fear. Fear appears to be one of the main tools he uses to get Christians to stubble. And since he’s such a liar, he uses lies to feed the fears he whispers into our hearts. The key is to identify fear and let go of it quickly.  I can see over the years God has empowered me to do just that.

I can choose today to admit my fears, identify the lies behind those fears, and choose not to believe them. I can seek God, so I can be delivered from the latest fears which plague me.

Just now I looked up the antonyms for fear. Quite a few were listed. Three which jumped out at me were assurance, calmness, and confidence.

Instead of holding on to fear, I can have assurance this circumstance will not undo me, and I can remain calm as I put my confidence in the Lord and trust Him to intervene.

God isn’t finished with any of us yet. He loves us all deeply, and His desire remains to continue to transform us into all He wants us to be.

As we face trials together, we can be assured God will use them for our good and for His glory.

Fear is a liar, but the Father is a lover—of me, my family, and everyone I care about. His perfect love chases away all my fears. (1 John 4:18)

“Fear Is A Liar” by Zach Williams


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What Is The One Thing?

“What’s the one thing that keeps you from following the Lord?” the pastor asked on a Sunday morning during the sermon not long ago.

At first I thought, this question doesn’t apply to me. Everything in me wants to follow the Lord. But then I realized on any given day and at any given moment this pursuit repeatedly gets aborted by various distractions and/or obsessions.

What first came to mind as far as my latest battle to follow the Lord was a person’s name. This particular individual had been getting into lots of trouble, and I found myself focused on “working on her” to prevent more trouble and worrying about where all this trouble would lead.

Neither pursuit accomplished anything except to make me feel discouraged. And my work and worry took my focus off of my own walk with the Lord and what He wanted from me. My fervent desire for her to follow the Lord carried me away from my own need to do so.

As I contemplated how my concentration on this person affected my relationship with God, I realized what kept me from following God was not my focus on just this one person but on a group of people which she belonged to: prodigals.

These loved ones once had a hunger for God. At one time they pursued Him wholeheartedly and they had proclaimed Jesus as Savior and sometimes still do. Yet they now wander in a wilderness of wasteful living.

So not long after I realized my obsession with these prodigals (or perhaps I should say re-realized since the Lord had pointed this out before) I cried out to God.

“What should I do?”

He led me to abandon the “work” and worry and led me to fast and pray for these prodigals and determine to love them where they’re at rather than trying to drag them to where I think they should be. My fasting has consisted of all-days fasts, partial day fasts or fasting from particular foods.

For the first one I fasted and prayed 16 days–16 being the number of years she remained in an unhealthy relationship which drew her away from the Lord. For each day God gave me a word to pray for her which began with the letter “R.” I prayed she would put these words into action in her life. Some of the R words were: repent, receive, return, rejoice, resist, rest.

For the second prodigal, I prayed and fasted a certain number of days–her age. With her, the Lord gave me H words to pray. Some were: hunger, hear, humble, heed, hold.

I felt tempted to send these prodigals what I had prayed for them, but I discovered that urge came not from God but from my “work to get them to come back to the Lord” faulty focus.

Today as I looked over the list of R and H words, I saw I need to work on doing those in my own spiritual life. Working on my walk with Him is where God wants my focus to be. Once again I’m praying God will help me to stop obsessing over working to eradicate stubbornness or rebellion in others and deal with it in my own heart.

When God told the rich young ruler (see Mark 10: 17-31) what he needed to do after pointing out his riches were keeping him from following, He did not chase after him to try to get him to change his mind about his riches. God does allow me to speak truth to others, but when they refuse to receive it, I need to let go and move on—not chase after them.

In the case of the rich young ruler, Jesus answered questions. God is revealing to me that I may answer questions, but I am to abandon efforts to bring prodigals home except through prayer and fasting. In the past I often questioned the prodigals about how they were living their lives at the moment. This was not from the Lord. I need to be turning to God with questions like my “What should I do?” question.

“How should I pray?” is another good question.

Today I began praying for the third prodigal on my prayer list. God gave me a certain number of days, which coincided with how long I’ve known him. For this person I feel led to pray the alphabet with each letter being something he needs to be delivered from. Today’s word was addictions. Then God turned things around, and I thought, I still have a few addictions of my own.

“Lord, deliver me.”

I feel sad “my” prodigals have been “gone” for many years, and that I do not have it in my power to bring them home. But God is able. For whatever reason, He chooses to allow them to remain in the wandering mode—for now.

What I do know is that He does not want me to lose the joy of my own salvation just because they have walked away from theirs.

To trust Him means I let go of my work and worries mentality toward them even as I continue to pray for their return.

I praise God that pastor asked a question which showed me the truth about myself and drew me closer to God.

The prayer in Psalm 139 comes to mind, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” 23-24

Lord, help me to stop following my own desires and detours and let me fully follow You.

Here’s a song which has encouraged me so many times over the years as well as today: “You Never Let Go” by Matt Redman


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Unity Is The Answer

Not long ago I watched the movie, “Selma” for the first time.

I confess I didn’t know many of the details of what happened in 1965. At the time, at the age of 11, I failed to pay much attention to national news, although I knew blacks did not enjoy the same rights as whites, and my heart broke when President Kennedy was shot. I knew he believed deeply that “black lives matter.”

When I watched the movie, I marveled at the courage of those who stood against injustice—especially Martin Luther King Jr. His wife also showed bravery to stand by her husband when it meant death threats and danger for herself and her children.

What I didn’t think about when I imagined the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma in my mind was that whites marched with blacks on the bridge. As I watched the movie, my heart rejoiced at the unity I saw. I imagine whites on the bridge saw the blacks as their neighbors and their brothers and sisters. They empathized and were willing to put themselves in danger to help blacks obtain justice and equality.

Other whites failed to see the matter in that way.

The same goes on today.

Many—even in churches—see injustice against blacks ie shooting of innocent black citizens by policemen as “not my problem.” Some even put forth an attitude of “they must have done something wrong” even though videos show the wrong action on their part was “driving while black.”

Today I heard an interview with Mandisa, a black Christian singer, who felt disturbed at the time by what she saw on the news in the midst of a series of deaths of black people by the hands of police officers as well as the killing of police officers by a black man in Texas.

Out of her inner turmoil came the song “Bleed The Same” which calls for unity. If we in the church could be united and could see black people as our brothers and sisters or our neighbors, what a difference it would make.

Some tell me, “I do see blacks as my brothers and sisters.”

My question is, “Then why aren’t there any blacks in your church? Or in your circle of friends?”

One day in a prayer meeting at our church, I prayed against racism in the hearts of people in our mostly white church, where blacks had told me, “I don’t feel welcome at your church.”

A black friend explained it this way, “When I visited a Sunday School class at your church the same day as a white woman did, people in the class said to her, ‘We hope you come back,’ while to me they uttered no such words.”

After I prayed, “God, help us deal with racism in our church,” a woman interjected, “there is no racism in this church.” It was ironic that she said this since it was one of her good friends who called a security guard a number of years ago and urged them to kick out several black youth my daughter had invited to the church all because three black young men in her mind were “a dangerous gang.” Even when I told her they were our guests, she and a racist security guard still insisted, “they don’t belong here.”

That’s not unity. These youth were hungry for the Lord. What would have happened if people in our church united with these young people to help them get to know the Lord and walk with Him instead of kicking them out and telling them not to come back?

I still have contact with these three men. Their hearts continue to hunger for God, even though they have many struggles and have not fully grasped the full truth of salvation. However, the sister of two of these young men who are brothers said, “Because your church welcomed me, my life was changed. I’m a leader in my church, and you inviting me to church there made such a difference.” She knows and loves the Lord and lives a life to serve Him.

Our church did not see her as dangerous and united with her to help her grow in the Lord.

I continue to pray for God to deal with racism in the hearts of members of my church and every church in America. I pray my home church would become fully integrated. I pray we would see blacks, Hispanics, and every other individual in a minority who knows the Lord as brothers and sisters. I pray we will see those who don’t know the Lord as neighbors we can reach out to with love and concern. I pray their struggles would become our struggles, their hurts our hurts.

Not long ago as I prayed for a troubled youth who is wandering far from the Lord, these words came to mind, “Pray she will have eyes wide open.”

That’s what I pray for us in the church—that our eyes would be wide open to racism, injustice, and inequality. Then I pray we would ask God, “what is my part?” and “how can I bring unity?” Yes, we may feel these are dangerous questions, but what a difference we could make.

I want to be part of the solution of the problem of racism and every other problem in the church and in our country.

How about you?


Today I have two songs:

“Glory” by John Legend and Common– theme song from the movie, “Selma”

“Bleed The Same” by Mandisa

The Story Behind the Song “Bleed The Same”


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Another Gift From God

I marvel at the generosity of the Lord.

Lately difficult circumstances brought on distress and a battle with hopelessness.

God, in His goodness, delivered various gifts to help me through: music, promises from His Word, an uplifting sermon at church.

But He also brought the gift of one person who helped me tremendously in these recent weeks.

That person is my brother, Bob.

A number of years ago, my brother started to come to Florida from Fairbanks, Alaska in the winter near Christmas. In past winters he stayed for two weeks at the most. Then he had knee surgery and didn’t come for several years. This year because of a less than full work schedule, he was able to stay over seven weeks.

The Ben Franklin saying, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days” has not applied to brother Bob.

The time we have spent together has meant so much to me. We enjoy doing many of the same activities, which include walking on the beach, bicycling, and working on puzzles together. We also enjoy watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy in the evenings (something I also do when I visit my parents.) We get to enjoy the Olympics together this year since his stay has extended into February.

It was great to visit our parents together on the other coast of Florida during his stay here.

My husband gets along well with Bob, and the two have worked on projects at the house together, which I so appreciate.

One reason I enjoy my brother’s company so much is that he possesses an easy-going nature. He maintains a calm demeanor, and that calm overflows onto me. Also, he speaks words of wisdom and says gently, “Here’s something I noticed…” and then he tells me what he observes in my behavior or in my personality. He corrects me gently. I feel like I have a therapist staying at my house, and I like it.

We also are getting to know each other better as we talk about our families and what’s important to us. We talk about our faith in God and our goals for the future. He comments on the difficult circumstances I face, but not in a negative way. Yes, that’s another reason I enjoy being with Bob: he maintains a positive attitude. And he laughs easily.

I thank God for bringing the gift of extended time with my brother during a difficult season when it comes to other relationships. There’s something wonderful about being with a sibling—someone who has known me all my life. We faced childhood traumas together and survived, which brings a deep bond.

My brother leaves today, and I will miss him.

We’ll talk on the phone in the days and weeks ahead. And as I look at all the puzzles we worked on together, I will feel uplifted. (I have them spread out on the table and coffee tables in the dining room/living room for now.)

And I have something to look forward to; he says he’s coming back again next winter and will stay at least a month.

Although I still have difficult circumstances, my brother has reminded me to have a grateful attitude as he showed me his in regard to his battles with hard times.

This verse comes to mind:

“Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus…” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMPC

I thank God that in the midst of grief and heart ache, He continues to bring me gifts to cheer and console me.

My brother may be leaving, but God’s blessings never do. I know fresh blessings are just around the corner.

Thank You, Lord, for the blessing of having my brother stay with me all these weeks. May he be encouraged even as you have called him to be an encourager. Thank You for helping me through these difficult days. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


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Songs In The Night

I left work after a 12-hour shift feeling drained and depressed.

Thoughts of family problems raced through my mind.

Struggles friends faced troubled me.

My right leg ached.

“Lord, help me,” I prayed.

Then I heard a voice singing sweetly as I jogged through downtown Clearwater.

As I approached, a homeless man standing with a companion yelled to the singer, across the street who sang outside at a small bar/restaurant, “I want to hear “Blowing in the Wind.’”

As the singer sang the song while she strummed her guitar, something about her voice touched me. Then a thought came, Give her $20 in her tip jar.

That’s too much, came my next thought.

All I had in my fanny pack that I wore while jogging after work was a handful of change and a twenty dollar bill.

I’ll give her all my change, I decided.

On my approach to the singer, I dug through my fanny pack for the change even while I kept on jogging.

I reached the singer as she continued to sing, “Blowing in the Wind,” and tossed the change in her tip basket. I saw that only another handful of change lay at the bottom.

“Thank you,” she said and smiled.

“Thank you,” I said. “I really appreciate your singing.”

Then I jogged away and turned the corner to head back toward my car.

The singer began another song—an original, I think. The song reached me deep in my soul, but it wasn’t the words. It seemed to be something sweet and pure about her voice. I felt my spirits lift at the beauty of her voice.

As I thought about what a gift she was to me that evening as I battled depression and negative thoughts, I realized the directive to give her $20 came from the Lord.

So I turned around.

I got out the twenty dollar bill and put it in her basket. I smiled at her, and she smiled back and  said “thank you.”

“What’s your name?” I asked, still jogging in place.

“Mallory Moyer,” she answered.

I repeated my thank you and jogged away.

That encounter happened a week ago. Since then, I’ve told quite a few people how Mallory lifted my spirits. I checked out her songs on my phone, and then played them for others.

I just left the writing of this blog to send a thank you note to Mallory on Facebook and let her know how much she blessed me.

While on Mallory’s Facebook page, I saw she would be singing at other venues in our area—at restaurants I enjoy. I hope to go and see her sing in the future and bring others with me who can also be blessed.

As I reflect on hard times, I recall other occasions when God sent a person, a song, a blessing to help me face a difficult day or days.

I thank Him for all those times and for this recent blessing and for an opportunity to give back in a small way and hopefully be a blessing to the one who blessed me.

This verse seems to apply to my encounter with Mallory: “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3 NIV).

That’s what I’ve been doing all week—remembering her and thanking God for how she blessed me.

“Where Do We Go From Here?” by Mallory Moyer


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I Won’t Give Up On My Miracle

I love when God speaks to me through songs.

Recently I battled hopelessness in regard to the waywardness of a loved one. This seemed true: the more I say and the more I pray, the worse things get. The situation seemed impossible. I felt heartbroken. I knew God was able, and it seemed in the past He intervened. Now the circumstance slid back to worse than ever in many ways.

After work one day I got in the car, and a song I never heard before came on the radio by one of my favorite Christian groups, Unspoken.

The theme of the song spoke to my weary soul loud and clear: “Don’t give up on a miracle.”

I realized I loomed close to that point.

Yet here was God speaking to me through these singers promising me a miracle. I thought I heard Him whisper, “The miracle is coming. Just wait.”

Maybe my first miracle won’t be what I desire: for this loved to draw close to Him and let go of the poor choices she’s making. Perhaps the miracle will be in my heart in regard to her, ie that I  let go and no longer allow her ungodly life to get in the way of God’s calling on my life—to love her with God’s love no matter how much she hurts and rejects me and to spend more time writing the truth. Or my miracle could be that I will be released from weariness and worry in regard to the situation and draw closer and closer to God as she backs further and further away.

I decided to see what’s happened so far as God bringing this person to the end of her rope, so she has nowhere to turn but to Him. I want her to turn to Him, but I accept it may not happen–at least not any time soon. But I refuse to allow this to rob me of joy.

Lately I battle guilt over my wrong choices in dealing with this wayward soul. I failed to set boundaries, and I failed to speak the truth in love but at times just allowed this person to mistreat me. And so many other wrongs on my part come to mind.

The thought just came to me that as I deal with this situation and my heartbreak, it’s like going through grief. I battle with the stages described by those who study the grief process: denial, anger, guilt, bargaining, depression…The final stage is acceptance. I’m moving closer to it, and that in itself is a miracle.

This I know for sure: I’m not going through this alone. God remains with me to offer comfort, counsel, courage until the miracle in this loved one’s life comes.

I will not give up on prayer, on drawing close to Him, or on remaining daily in His Word. I look forward to God speaking to me more through songs in the days ahead. Some days in the past He gave me a new song which touched my soul. Here’s the chorus of one God gave me a number of years ago during other difficult circumstances. I played it on my guitar today and sang it to myself, to God, and against the devil.

My life changes,

But nothing changes

When it comes to You.

You’re always there

To hear my prayer.

You are faithful and true.

Nothing ever changes

When it comes to You.

I remember years ago my Bible study teacher asked, “What’s the prerequisite for a miracle?”

Then she gave the answer: “an impossible situation.”

I love that our God delights to do what others and my mind say is impossible.

Today I reflect on the many miracles God brought to me over the years, which reminded me this situation is not too difficult for Him. Matthew 19:26 proclaims that truth: “With God all things are possible.”

I refuse to give up on this wandering soul or on the miracle I pray for her.

Lord, I thank You in advance for the miracle that’s on the way.

“Miracle” by Unspoken




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