Pursuing the abundance of a closer walk with Christ

Posts tagged ‘God’

TBI and Us or IN ALL THINGS


March is TBI Awareness Month.  The picture of a brain was a difficult puzzle given to us at the Cr3ative Expressions Support Group meeting to help us focus. It  stumped me,  but Rachel, my daughter who sustained a brain injury, was the first to finish hers in the group and then worked on my unfinished puzzle at home as pictured here in less than one minute. GO FIGURE!?

This post features a poem written and recited by me for the Cr3ative Expressions TBI Support Group.

TBI and Us (or IN ALL THINGS) Page 1

by Virginia Cradlebaugh

The Fourteenth of July, Two-thousand-one,

Was a perfect summer’s day.

Dad, Mom and Rachel, our quaint family,

Drove the car Medina’s way.

It certainly wasn’t our desire,

Nor was it God’s plan or will,

To end up in a ditch, rammed by a car,

By one who had almost killed.

Dear Dad was knocked out and sustained whiplash,

The wreck crushed Mom’s vertebrae.

Rachel unresponsive, had been thrown ’bout,

In earnest I bowed and prayed.

Just passing through, A father and son came,

It wasn’t a coincidence.

The son was a doctor and brought his bag,

Just right for her circumstance.

Shallow she breathed and blood flowed from her ear,

From a sleep she might not wake.

On pins and needles I hovered nearby

Continued to pray for her sake.

The father spoke to me with words of peace,

My son will guard her with care.”

I watched the Life-flight take Rachel upward

My heart heavy with despair.

Page 2

I know you see this, you know everything,

What gives?”, my query to Him.

In a clear, audible voice I discerned,

A verse that should be a hymn.

And we know that IN ALL THINGS God works for

the good of those who love him,

Who have been called according to His purpose.”

Not once, but twice I heard this.

Romans Eight: Twenty-eight I’ll not forget,

No more questions would I implore.

IN All THINGS had arranged for the best place,

that Rachel’s care could afford.

I knew that Jesus held her close to his heart

Carried in His arms as a lamb.

For three days I battled in prayer prostrate,

The outcome was in God’s hands.

The Lord gave to me a gift of faith,

Great peace in my heart remained.

IN ALL THINGS the doctors came with the news,

The pressure too much for her brain.

Page 3

A last ditch effort was made to save her,

An operation on her skull.

In deep freeze the bone was carefully placed,

Till the swelling came to null.

ICU struggled hard to bring her through,

Tweaking meds both day and night.

Two weeks later came her fifteenth birthday,

ICU joined the delight.

The next day by ambulance we left Metro,

To a Rehab on the hill,

The intensive, extensive care she needed,

IN ALL THINGS, this was God’s will.

From a vegetative state she made progress,

As a young babe would learn new things.

The trache and g-tube removed paved the way,

To swallow, eat, and dress; what blessings!

Her drawn up limbs placed in casts to straighten,

Walking remained a hurdle.

Staff pressed her on with many therapies,

At times it seemed slow as a turtle.

Page 4

For months I longed to hear Rachel’s sweet voice,

She spoke to her nurse the name Tex.

God is good, she remembers and does speak,

It was more than I could expect.

The next week she recited the Lord’s prayer,

Her faith in God had remained.

She quoted Psalms Twenty-three, I welled with tears,

And friends from church did the same.

Discharged before Christmas she returned home,

OUT-PATIENT Care was her need.

Edwin Shaw, Children’s, next Akron General.

Her favorite was PT.

From wheelchair to walker, then a gait belt,

But without a cane she’d move.

Fifteen years recovering a TBI,

It was God who helped her improve.

Midway through this long TBI journey,

Dad underwent neck surgery.

For two weeks he felt much better, UNTIL,

A blood clot sent him to Glory.

Page 5

Each year in Autumn we grieve his absence,

Support and prayer bring us through.

There’s a void in our life which only he filled,

One day we’ll all meet, it’s true.

In mysterious ways our God does work,

In wonders and miracles too.

IN ALL THINGS, challenges are for our good,

To God all glory is due.

I’m sure there are struggles we too have shared,

relating to a TBI

Care giving, therapies, doctors, and falls,

IN ALL THINGS on God rely.

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Perseverance to Harvesting Hope


Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5: 3-5 (NIV)
   We all need encouraging.
   I think the Lord may have wanted to encourage me this morning as I opened my Bible to the book of Romans.
“You’re encouraging me to persevere? Haven’t I been persevering? Or do I need to grow beyond the recurring challenges in my life?”
   The Lord sees what is in my heart. He sees what is hidden from my eyes, and what may be hidden from the view of others as well.
   Life can be both beautiful and difficult.
   Each day is filled with wonderful blessings from God. There are also days that include hardships. Hardships as tall as brick walls that you run into and they can become discouraging road blocks. Have you had struggles in your  journey that lasted way longer than you expected? Have you been hindered or delayed from reaching your goals, calling or duty?
   In 2001, an automobile accident interrupted the lives of our family. In fact, it more than interrupted, it changed our lives forever. My husband, Jerry, was knocked unconscious and suffered whiplash. Eight years later, the effects of the untreated whiplash progressed to spinal stenosis in his neck and required surgery to correct it. The surgery went well, but tragically, a blood clot caused his death two weeks later.
   The detour of our automobile crash occurred just two weeks before my daughter Rachel’s fifteenth birthday. She suffered much more than my husband or I. Her head injury quite severe. She needed an emergency last-ditch brain surgery to save her life.  Afterwards, she remained in the hospital five months to relearn how to swallow, eat, speak, dress and eventually walk.  The near fatal accident impacted her emotionally, mentally, and physically.
   It has been a challenge balancing the responsibilities of a full-time caregiver, mother, and guardian throughout her miraculous recovery these past fifteen years. More so has been widowhood these last seven years. I have struggled to care for an older home set in beautiful park-like surroundings as I’ve juggled the special care she requires long-term.
   Sometimes I’m able to accomplish what I need and/or want during the week within the few hours she is away at a supervised work or recreational care facility.  Others times, the reality of living with the effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury break-up that much-needed respite. I should be used to the setbacks. I should be a pro by now, right?
   Recently, I hit a “chuck-hole” in my journey and discovered I needed more perseverance. Last week, I bought paint for the exterior window trim. The next day, I re-injured my foot and strained the tendons in the back of my knee as I reached out to help some one.  Really?!  I waited a year as my foot healed and gradually returned to physical activity. It had only been a month since I was able to walk on the soft cushion of the lawn and ride my bike up and down the road for 20 minutes.
    The hobbling saga aside, the windows needed attention three or four years ago. The neglected wood trim was weathered and had dry rot in places. The caulking was cracked and falling off. The scraping, repair and painting of the window trim I planned to get done, was pushed aside while I attempted to manage the bump in the road consisting of phone calls from nurses and staff regarding the “seizure-quo” activity occurring in the last few days. My daughter began to grieve the loss of her step-dad with the onset of seizures.
   Thank God the reality of our ongoing circumstances have been wonderfully sustained with the abundance of his strength and grace. For the next couple of weeks, I continued with the management of her care by: talking with the doctors via phone, consulting with staff who care for her during the day, scheduling and attending appointments with specialists, transporting her to counseling and testing, making extra pharmacy trips for new seizure meds, providing home skill requirements and recreation, and dealing with the red-tape of tedious paperwork. (“Jesus, take me away!”)
   I tend to drive myself hard in order to finish tasks, and as a result, at times I’ve become burned out, depleted of joy, discouraged and parched. This detailed explanation sheds light on the poem, “Listen to the Rain” previously posted on A Beautiful Life website.
   I need to grow spiritually, grow more into Christ likeness, instead of complaining about my circumstances. I need to consistently praise God because, He is aware of all that goes on in my life. He doesn’t give me more than I can bear, after-all, he bears my burdens. His yoke is easy and his burden light. Matthew 11:28-30 (ref.) I need to respond with the power that is available to me through close communication with him. With his power, I’m able to have a mature attitude. Not an attitude with a capital A. Not a ranting, crying out to God for help in a dysfunctional way, as I try to cope with the challenges.
   My response of humble repentance has yielded a quiet character that hopes. My heart is renewed and filled with love poured out from God through the Holy Spirit.
   From perseverance to harvesting hope.
   It’s harvest time. When we harvest hope, others can also hope to grow into the person God intended them to be. Beautiful inside and out, because God desires to make something beautiful out of our lives.
   Let us be an encouragement to one another. Have you been challenged recently with road blocks in your life? Have you repaired any windows lately? Perhaps you’ve a story to share of how God closed one door and opened a window of opportunity.
   Incidentally, I finished most of the front windows of the house without breaking them or falling. Praise the Lord!

Happy Birthday!


Today, in this crazy backwards world, it would be rare to hear of an individual stating that they are celebrating their Spiritual Birthday. It was on this day, August 23rd, 1998, that I was delivered from a 26 year addiction. An addiction that I am glad to be free of. I was miraculously delivered from tobacco.

Research shows it is one of the most addictive substances. That is why I know it was and still is a miracle. I had no desire to return to the habit in all these 18 free years!

I could not quit on my own, though I tried many times and as many different solutions that I could think of to stop.

It happened at an altar of prayer. I asked a dear Pastor to pray with me after the church service that morning.

But, before the miracle, came one defeated woman asking, seeking and knocking. The night before, I said to God, “God, You parted the Red Sea, You raised Your Son, Jesus, from the dead, where is my miracle? If you don’t help me with this bondage of addiction, I will be lost forever!”

I would not recommend being so bold as to ask in the manner that I did almost two decades ago, but I was desperate.

God is so good. He didn’t turn away from my unholy way of asking. He mercifully saw my heart of despair and had compassion on me.

After praying, I could feel the bands of thick, heavy, rusted, iron bracelets pop off my wrists! I felt lighter than air. I thought, “There really is a magic carpet and I’m riding on an invisible carpet ride of Jesus!”

Then, there was a thick force shield, like the holograph-type you may have seen in a Star Wars film or some Sci-Fi movie, that went completely around me in circle fashion and nothing could penetrate it. No longer did I have the urge to puff on one of those cancer sticks!

Jesus broke the chains of  my slavery to cigarettes and set me free in a way that defines who I am forever.

I am His child, saved from the penalty of sin that He bore on the cross as He died for me. Free to love and serve Him. Free to worship with out the hindrance of  something that was between us. Free to receive the abundance of His love and goodness as I daily walk with Him.

Yes, I am able say that I am 18, because it was eighteen years ago that I was delivered and set free. I was born again, and am a new creation indeed!

“So if the Son sets you free, will be free indeed.” John 8 36 (NIV)

Thank you, Jesus, for your mercy, grace, love, sacrifice and for delivering me from sin and addiction.

I hope you find these words to be encouraging. If you have a story of a miracle that Lord has done in your life, feel free to share it here.

 

 

The Wall


I’ve been perplexed to the meaning of a dream I had recently. The dream was of a wall. I couldn’t shake the fact that it was odd to see a wall in a dream and I wrote it down in my dream journal, as I often do.

The wall continued to puzzle me and I researched the subject “Wall” on-line. Did My dream have anything to do with the Great Wall Of China, the Berlin Wall,  or the Wailing Wall In Jerusalem?

Did the wall represent a block in prayer, a hindrance in my life  that prevented my to accomplishing God’s purpose for me? Or was the wall a difficult situation that prevented me from reaching my  personal goals and dreams?

I even thought of a song and album by Pink Floyd, “The Wall”. The concept  in the lyrics to the song are about isolation from people because of pain, loss, abuse and personal circumstances revealed through the story of an individual’s life ending with self-destruction. Did this relate to my dream and its meaning to the reality of many people’s spiritual life?

In the poem, “I Stand By the Door”, featured below, I find the wall is significant as it relates how I need to help others find the door which leads to God.

But how can people people find the door as they grope along the wall of drugs, alcohol, relationships, people, gambling, power, money or food?

This week, I’ve been attending the Sharon Camp Meeting Services and Bible Studies held in Sharon Center, Ohio. They are held annually towards the end of June up to the 4th of July every year for ten days.

Today, I listened to a poem written by Sam Shoemaker. He was a priest and founder of the Faith At Work group. He also was key in underpinning the Alcoholics Anonymous with a focus on interdenominational involvement for members, their families, and the community in which they lived .

While hearing the poem, I searched my heart and life as to where I stood. Do I stand too far in the doors of my church enjoying the blessings of God’s Presence and fellowship with other believers? Am I serving God and my church adequately or inefficiently? Do I love the Lord My God completely, with all my heart, soul, mind and strength? Am I surrendered to do His Will to the point of forsaking whatever would hold me back from accomplishing the specific call He has called me to do? Did I help anyone throughout the years since becoming a Christian find the door, place their hand on its handle or encourage a person to grow as a Christian?

Or have I been too caught up in my own problems, circumstances, and work that I have been desensitized to the needs of others?

After much reflection and prayer, I re-focused my direction and commitment to be used as God directs in helping people find Jesus Christ as their Savior.

We don’t stop after accepting Christ. If we do, we begin to look like the church of Laeodocia, who were given a  warning in the book of Revelation, chapter three, verses 13-22.

 

So I stand by the door, ready to serve, mentor, and help others find the door.

Where do you stand? I encourage you to carefully read the following poem at length and help others find the door.

We will give an account one day to God as to what we have done with the message of salvation.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) NIV

 

Let’s be found standing by the door, guiding others away from the wall and walk through the open door.

 

I Stand at the Door

By Sam Shoemaker (from the Oxford Group)
I stand by the door.
I neither go to far in, nor stay to far out.
The door is the most important door in the world –
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There is no use my going way inside and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where the door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men,
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it.
So I stand by the door.

The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for men to find that door – the door to God.
The most important thing that any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands
And put it on the latch – the latch that only clicks
And opens to the man’s own touch.

Men die outside the door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter.
Die for want of what is within their grasp.
They live on the other side of it – live because they have not found it.

Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him.
So I stand by the door.

Go in great saints; go all the way in –
Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
And way up into the spacious attics.
It is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
Go into the deepest of hidden casements,
Of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.
Some must inhabit those inner rooms
And know the depths and heights of God,
And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.
Sometimes I take a deeper look in.
Sometimes venture in a little farther,
But my place seems closer to the opening.
So I stand by the door.

There is another reason why I stand there.
Some people get part way in and become afraid
Lest God and the zeal of His house devour them;
For God is so very great and asks all of us.
And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia
And want to get out. ‘Let me out!’ they cry.
And the people way inside only terrify them more.
Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are spoiled.
For the old life, they have seen too much:
One taste of God and nothing but God will do any more.
Somebody must be watching for the frightened
Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,
To tell them how much better it is inside.
The people too far in do not see how near these are
To leaving – preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door
But would like to run away. So for them too,
I stand by the door.

I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not yet even found the door.
Or the people who want to run away again from God.
You can go in too deeply and stay in too long
And forget the people outside the door.
As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him and know He is there,
But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there too.

Where? Outside the door –
Thousands of them. Millions of them.
But – more important for me –
One of them, two of them, ten of them.
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.
So I shall stand by the door and wait
For those who seek it.

‘I had rather be a door-keeper
So I stand by the door.

A New Heart Of Song


Art Heart

I’m forgiven, all sin is gone

I’m forgiven, held the past too long

This day is new, I live in you

I’m forgiven, give glory to God

 

At times my past came to haunt me with shame

For trespasses done though Jesus did save

The secret’s surrendered-under His blood

It flowed to the sea forgotten by God

 

I’m forgiven, all sin is gone

I’m forgiven, no burden I don

In love and peace I stay all day

I’m forgiven, give glory to God

 

Does someone have a sorrowful soul?

Of sin you committed a long time ago

Believe in His word, it’s true what it says

Just forgive yourself and go on in His stead

 

You’re forgiven, all sin is gone

You’re forgiven, held the burden too long

This day is new, now live in His Truth

You’re forgiven, give glory to God

 

Perhaps there’s a soul who needs to be free

The wrong in your life, it binds and deceives

Confess and repent, make a one-eighty

Jesus died for you, won the victory

 

We’re forgiven, all sin is gone

We’re forgiven, a new heart of song

This day is new, we live in His truth

We’re forgiven, to praise and serve God!

 

Dear Readers,

I hope this poem-song blesses you. It is a testimony of God’s work  in my life and of how much He loves you and me.

 

 

 

 

 

Love in Many Forms


half apple twin seed shape heart pic (2)

Apples are one of my favorite fresh fruit that I try to eat daily. We know the famous cliché  associated with this important staple of our diets. Some of the other reasons I choose to eat them are convenience and flavor. Recently, I began to cut an apple in half  for my daughter’s lunch and discovered two seeds so close together  they appeared as twins, but in the shape of a heart.

Heart Shape Twin Apple seeds (2)

Whenever I find hearts occurring in nature, I am reminded of God’s love for us all. He loves us so much He sent his only son, not to condemn us, but to save us through Him. (John 3:17 paraphrased)

Wonders like this displayed in my everyday life continue to amaze me. We serve an awesome God!

How about you? Please share one of the special moments in your life that He has blessed.

friday: fiction in fifteen ~ “hope feels”


Friday: Fiction in Fifteen, can you ask for more inspiration than that in the month of January?
My friend, Lisa Evola, has a wealth of creativity, a gift from God, no doubt. The link below is something you might be glad you took the time to look into. It’s good to see another’s perspective and at times be challenged or inspired from what zings in their corner of the world.

I was inspired to write prose and you can read the poem below the link to Lisa’s inspiration.

 

Source: friday: fiction in fifteen ~ “hope feels”

 

 

Hope feels..

 

‘Tis a wee, tiny creature,

This sparrow searching,

Hungry does it land upon the brick ledge,

The blast of winter’s frigid breath,

Reveals the plumes downy barrier,

And its Creator watches without fail.

Does not the feathers I have given,

Serve ample warmth from the season’s frost and freeze?

We, like the bird, are not unseen,

And often,

We feel God is near, and that renews one’s hope with in.

For at the right time does He open our eyes to see the sparrow.

Hope feels His Presence.

His eye is on the sparrow and on us.

 

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