A Good Quality of Life

Unshakable Hope

I’ve been thinking a lot about quality of life issues lately. More specifically, I’ve been trying to figure out why some people that (in the natural) possess virtually everything we think would make for a good quality of life, yet they’re miserable. Conversely, many others have almost none of the ingredients that we think must be in the mix for a good quality of life, but they seem perfectly content.

I think about this issue more and more as life with ALS becomes an even greater challenge. If ALS takes its natural course, the victim will die of respiratory failure. The muscles needed to breathe become weaker and weaker to the point where you just can’t breathe anymore. Oftentimes the flu or pneumonia are just too much for those with advanced ALS and can speed up this respiratory failure.

I had a severe case of the flu in February, and…

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Send me sleep

This is a favorite prayer of mine before bed-time. It may be short but it says a lot faith-wise in few words.

May it be a blessing to you too.

Lord, send me sleep that I may live;
The wrongs I’ve done this day forgive.
Bless every deed and thought and word
I’ve rightly done, or said, or heard.
Bless relatives and friends alway;
Teach all the world to watch and pray.
My thanks for all my blessings take
And hear my prayer for Jesus’ sake.

Author unknown. The painting is by Roberto Ferruzzi (1854 – 1934, Italian).

A Work Prayer

A few days ago I felt anxious about taking over my boss’s role while she is away over Christmas. I was wanting to ensure that if I said “yes” to my company, I was remaining in the Lord’s will and not doing things in my own (limited) strength. I feared being asked to take on responsibilities above my ability to manage.

So I posted up prayer requests at National Prayer Bank (which is USA-based) and the Australian version of this site too. A kind man called Roy got back to me from the Australian site and recommended some helpful Christian links. One of the links recommended was http://ydyc.org/.

While searching on this site I came across a lovely work prayer that gave me hope. I’ve posted it near my desk for inspiration and wanted to share it with others. Here it is:

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for supplying my needs today from your abundant resources.

Thank you for freely giving me your peace, in exchange for anxiety. Your love, in exchange for fear. Your joy, in exchange for heaviness. Your faith, in exchange for doubt. Your strength, in exchange for weariness.

Lord Jesus, your Word tells me that the same Spirit that raised you from the dead dwells in me. I need your power to help me to be in the world, but not of the world.

I yield myself to you and ask the Holy Spirit to enable me to be efficient, creative and honest. Help me to work today with integrity, diligence, self-control, faithfulness and forgiveness.

Your Word also declares that, if I lack wisdom, I can ask you and you will give it generously. I need your wisdom today, Lord Jesus, to enable me to make correct choices.

In the Name of Jesus I forbid the enemy’s schemes that would rob me of productive time by attacking me emotionally, mentally, physically or financially and claim your protection in every area of my life.

Help me to sow seeds of life, bringing encouragement and edification to those I meet. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for opening opportunities to share your love today.

Helpful scripture resources:

Jeremiah 32:17:
“Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee…”

Daniel 11:32:
“And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”

Hebrews 10:19:
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus…”

Philippians 4:19:
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:11:
“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you”

1 John 2:15:
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

James 1:5:
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

2 Corinthians 10:4-5:
“(for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

Ephesians 3:20:
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…”

I trust you found the work prayer helpful.

As a postscript to this article, I was so encouraged when the Lord answered my prayers very promptly and gave me grace in my boss’s eyes. Several kind people posted up encouragements on National Prayer Bank (USA site), saying they were praying for me.

I then had a meeting with my boss (shortly after posting up my prayers online) that was very reassuring. She listed down all the tasks I will be responsible for while she is away and I saw that this was – thankfully – fair and manageable. Praise God! With God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

Until next time, Lord willing.

Jesus comes to you in your storm

This article was taken from National Prayer Bank (http://nationalprayerbank.com/), where a man called Thomas provided comfort to a lady suffering severe work stress, the dementia of her mother and a possible nervous breakdown by her sister. Her life was imploding so she reached out to caring believers for help and prayers. Below is what Thomas wrote to her:

In Mark 6, Jesus went off by himself to pray and sent the disciples ahead of him to Bethsaida. It wasn’t a long trip by boat, but they were blown off course by a storm, and when Jesus saw them struggling against the wind in the middle of the lake, he came to their aid.

Have you ever had a storm blow you off course? You had no intention of being where you are today in your job, your marriage, your finances. You’ve been blown off course by situations you couldn’t control. You feel like you should be there by now, but at this point, you’ve given up hope of getting to your original destination. You just want to get back to safety.

Maybe you had big dreams for your life that you gave up on a long time ago. You’re not even worried about progress anymore. You’re just wondering, “Can I survive?”

What does Jesus do when you’re at your moment of desperation? Mark 6:48 says, “About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water” (NLT). Notice he didn’t tell the disciples to come to him. He knew they couldn’t get to him. He went to them. When you’re at that point of desperation, Jesus comes to you!

I love the fact that Jesus did not stand on the shore and shout instructions. When you’re in a storm, you don’t need advice. You need a miracle! You need somebody to show up, and this is what Jesus did. He intervened in the disciples’ storm.

This is the Gospel — that God doesn’t stand on the shoreline telling us what to do. He comes out and meets us in our pain, our fear, our depression, our storm, and our discouragement. He comes to us. What a God!

You may feel abandoned right now, but you’re not. The Bible says in John 14:18, “I will not abandon you or leave you as orphans in the storm — I will come to you” (LB). You can count on it!

His Eye is on the Sparrow

Karina Sussanto’s beautiful post on “Living without Worries” (see http://karinasussanto.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/living-without-worries/ for the full article, it’s well worth the read) inspired today’s message.

Here for your comfort and edification are the lyrics she mentioned in the song, “His Eye is on the Sparrow”:

“Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

Slow Down Therapy

Morning Story and Dilbert

Morning Story and Dilbert Vintage Dilbert
August 27, 1997

Slow down; God is still in heaven. You are not responsible for doing it all yourself, right now.

Remember a happy, peaceful time in your past. Rest there. Each moment has richness that takes a lifetime to savor.

Set your own pace. When someone is pushing you, it’s okay to tell them they’re pushing.

Take nothing for granted: watch water flow, the corn grow, the leaves blow, your neighbor mow.

Taste your food. God gives it to delight as well as to nourish.

Notice the sun and the moon as they rise and set. They are remarkable for their steady pattern of movement, not their speed.

Quit planning how you’re going to use what you know, learn, or possess. God’s gifts just are; be grateful and their purpose will be clear.

When you talk with someone, don’t think about what you’ll say next. Thoughts will…

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For the fallen

When I woke up this morning I saw a beautiful and moving service in Westminster Abbey on television, commemorating the centenary of Britain’s entry into World War on August 4, 1914.

My husband, who is not a Christian, commented that he thought the service should have been “non denominational.” Instead, it was beautifully poignant and Christ-honouring, with readings from the Bible giving dignity and hope to the occasion. As the service progressed, candles in the congregation were extinguished, reminding people of the great spiritual darkness that spread across the globe as war began.

My great uncle Charles MacKinnon (Charlie) died in the Battle of the Somme in France in 1918. His portrait hung in the hallway of my childhood home for years as a sad memorial. Curious, I did a search for his name on Google and was surprised to come across a site mentioning him (http://assevillers.80.free.fr/index_en.php?menu=centenaire&p=cemetery/mooney). Charlie was a Lance-Corporal in the 19th Battalion who was close friends with a man killed by German artillery, Corporal John Mooney. The 19th Battalion, as part of 5th Brigade and 2nd Division, was involved in all the major campaigns and battles fought by the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) in France and Flanders throughout 1916, 1917 and 1918. In general terms, combat conditions were appalling – far more appalling than those encountered on the Gallipoli Peninsula. The AIF suffered severe casualties because of the superiority of the German army artillery and machine-gun sections in their front line units. John Mooney was killed during the night of 29-30 August, 1918. With several other soldiers, Charlie volunteered to retrieve his body. As the small group carrying the body approached the battalion’s outpost line, the Germans shelled them again. Charlie was killed in the shelling and later buried with his friends in a cemetery west of Peronne in France.

He was in his late twenties.

Today’s London service brought to mind a beautiful poem that I wanted to share with readers. It’s always resonated with me, maybe it will with you too:

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam

The “Ode of Remembrance”, given above, is an ode taken from Laurence Binyon’s poem, “For the Fallen”, which was first published in The Times in September 1914.

Lest we forget.

Hope for people from all walks of life

The Lord recently reminded me of an inspiring quote from Dr Martin Luther King Jr. We should strive for excellence in everything we do, no matter how elevated or humble our station in life may be. Each one of us is important in God’s kingdom:

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

Other inspiring scriptures helping me to be grateful for what I have in life, and to value simplicity:

and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Colossians 3:23

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Hebrews 13:5

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

Finally, a reminder to stay steeped in the Word of God and prayer as a pathway to peace:

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

Thank you to the following excellent Christian counselling website for providing me with the scriptures above, allowing me to share with online readers of this blog:

A Grief Observed

I just finished reading “A Grief Observed”, which CS Lewis wrote after his wife Joy Davidson’s death from cancer. The book is unfailingly honest as Lewis struggles to regain his spiritual bearings after his loss. I wanted to read it because I find it difficult to relate to idealised, pain-free lives, lives lived seemingly without fear or struggle. Though I am a faithful believer in Christ, I suffer from anxiety at times. Prayer helps, as does spiritual reading, but there are times when life’s journey is seemingly one dark struggle after another. I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way sometimes, so I wanted to share some of the book’s more beautiful passages with people reading this blog.

Pages 44 to 47 chart Lewis’s slow awakening from his long night of grief, as he says:

Something quite unexpected has happened. It came this morning early. For various reasons, not in themselves at all mysterious, my heart was lighter than it had been for many weeks. For one thing, I suppose I am recovering physically from a good deal of mere exhaustion. And I’d had a very tiring but very healthy twelve hours the day before, and a sounder night’s sleep; and after ten days of low-hung grey skies and motionless warm dampness, the sun was shining and there was a light breeze. And suddenly at the very moment when, so far, I mourned H. least, I remembered her best…It was as if the lifting of the sorrow removed a barrier.

Why has no one told me these things? How easily I might have misjudged another man in the same situation? I might have said, “He’s got over it. He’s forgotten his wife,” when the truth was, “He remembers her better because he has partly got over it.”

…Is it similarly the very intensity of the longing that draws the iron curtain (here Lewis refers to his sense that God deliberately shut the door on his cries for help during his grief), that makes us feel we are staring into a vacuum when we think about our dead?

…And so, perhaps, with God. I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted. Was it my own frantic need that slammed it in my face? The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can’t give it: you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.

On the other hand, “Knock and it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9 – my reference here from BibleGateway.com). But does knocking mean hammering and kicking the door like a maniac? And there’s also “To him that hath shall be given” (Luke 19:26 – again, my reference here from BibleGateway.com). After all, you must have a capacity to receive, or even omnipotence can’t give. Perhaps your own passion temporarily destroys the capacity.

For all sorts of mistakes are possible when you are dealing with Him. Long ago, before we were married, H. was haunted all one morning as she went about her work with the obscure sense of God (so to speak) “at her elbow,” demanding her attention. And of course, not being a perfected saint, she had the feeling that it would be a question, as it usually is, of some unrepented sin or tedious duty. At last she gave in – I know how one puts it off – and faced Him. But the message was, “I want to give you something” and instantly she entered into joy.

A passage on page 48 resonated with me because I recall my husband once referring to me, with touching fondness, as “little brother.” Lewis himself comments about his wife:

Yet there was something of the Amazon, something of Penthesileia and Camilla. And you, as well as I, were glad it should be there. You were glad I should recognise it. Solomon calls his bride Sister. Could a woman be a complete wife unless, for a moment, in one particular mood, a man felt almost inclined to call her Brother?

Then there is Lewis’s faith in God’s divine purpose behind the beautiful complexity of his human creatures:

Sometimes, Lord, one is tempted to say that if you wanted us to behave like lilies of the field you might have given us an organisation more like theirs. But that, I suppose, is just your grand experiment. Or no; not an experiment, for you have no need to find things out. Rather your grand enterprise. To make an organism which is also a spirit; to make that terrible oxymoron, a “spiritual animal.” To take a poor primate, a beast with nerve-endings all over it, a breeding animal that wants its mate, and say, “Now get on with it. Become a god.”

The final section of Lewis’s book deals with Joy’s death and his assurance that something more remains for all of us. He comments:

How wicked it would be, if we could, to call the dead back! She said not to me but to the chaplain, “I am at peace with God.” She smiled, but not at me…

He then ends with a phrase that was a mystery to me (I do not speak Italian) until I did some digging on Google:

Poi si torno all’ eterna fontana

According to online sources, this is taken from Dante’s Paradiso XXXI. It means, quite simply and beautifully, “Then she turned back to the eternal fountain.”

Amen to that.

Kimalea’s Story: stage two breast cancer

This article was so inspiring I just had to share it. Much of what keeps me going faith-wise is the sense that God is with me every day, through trials and tribulations and my ever-present weaknesses. He is ever faithful. I hope you find Kimalea’s story as uplifting and hopeful as I did. Here is a beautiful quote:

Every day I remind myself, cancer cannot make me afraid without my permission. And, I will not give it permission.

I begin each day with praise. When I start to list all of the people and blessings I’m grateful for, I realize how rich my life is and how very blessed I am. I know God will never leave me or forsake me, and no matter how difficult things are, He is a very present help. He’s my refuge. And I know that He is in my present, but He’s also waiting for me in my future. He goes before me to prepare my way as I purpose to follow him. I do not fret, as God will provide. My opportunity is to feed my faith and not feed my fears.

Kimalea was treated by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, where faith in Christ is positively embraced and encouraged as part of each patient’s care.

One of the first things that cancer does is to try and steal hope. But we recognize that God is the source of hope.

For the entire article, see the beautifully written: