Hope and the BLESS System

During the summer of 2017, my church is utilizing a system to BLESS our neighborhoods. The acrostic works like this:

  • Begin with Prayer
  • Listen and Engage
  • Eat (because we all connect better while we’re eating)
  • Serve Others
  • Story (be willing to share your faith story)

Although I like this concept, I am purposely NOT engaging in this system. Not that I disagree with any of it – I’m just pulling back from any kind of service while I recover from ministry exhaustion.

The ironic beauty of this BLESS system is that God Himself is helping me engage with him. He is blessing me.woman - worship

It’s almost a replay of how God took care of Elijah when he was discouraged and depressed after a massive battle. (If you want to read that story, check out First Kings 19.)

Now, I don’t believe I am anywhere close to being a powerful servant such as Elijah.

I just know God loves me and he’s taking care of me.

Here’s how it works:

Begin with Prayer: At times, I’ve been so depleted, the only prayer words I could speak were “God oh God” or “Jesus, help!” But the sweet truth is that God still heard me. We don’t have to pray a certain way or follow a formula for Abba Father to hear the cries of our hearts.

[Read more about Redefining Prayer]

Listen and Engage: In the quiet of the night when all I hear is the cat’s snores – I sense God near. He is listening to me and for me, and I for him. Sometimes he speaks a verse I’ll look up and journal through. Sometimes it’s just the inner warmth of knowing he’s engaging and connecting with me. I love that. Sometimes it’s whole paragraphs of guidance and truth.

Being listened to = being loved.

Eat: This piece of the acrostic is a bit more eclectic because I’m not talking about real food. Although a healthy recovery does include nutritious eating as in blueberries, dark chocolate, lots of water, repeat.

Emotional and spiritual eating means filling my mind with the words of God and helpful books – fiction and nonfiction. I am inhaling without exhaling, filling up my emotional bucket that has been scraped raw. This type of eating never adds empty calories, but spiritual nutrition flows into every tissue and emotional gap.

Serve Others: It seems impossible to turn off the button of ministering to others. Sometimes I have to catch myself and say, “No! You cannot organize and promote a new ministry, no matter how much it is needed. Stop it!

I am letting go of all expectations and reveling in how God is serving me.

Now, I know some of you out there in cyberspace are thinking, How selfish! Who does she think she is? What would Jesus do?

I’ll tell you what Jesus would do. He would climb right up in Abba’s lap and tell the Holy Spirit to come and comfort him.

When he walked on this earth, Jesus rowed across the lake and took some down time. He had weekend getaways at the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. He strolled through a garden and prayed, inhaling the presence of God so he would have strength later to heal and save.

So don’t judge me. I’m telling you Abba is such a personal God he knows when to send me an encouraging word.

He calls me to the deck at just the right time so I can watch a rabbit nurse her bunnies. He commands a flock of geese to fly over me with joyful honks. He whispers to a baby in Wal-Mart who turns around and gives me a single-toothed grin. He plants a book in my hands that helps me understand how ministers become codependent. He tells someone to send me a check so I can pay that climbing electric bill. He heals my son so I don’t have to live in worry.

God knows exactly what I need and when I need to be reminded how much he loves me.

Story: I’ve just shared part of my story with you. It continues to grow and the plot lines interweave. More will be coming in the weeks ahead.

Keep checking in with me to see how God wraps hope around every gift, how he is himself the author of hope.

The guideline God is helping me learn is this: it’s okay to take care of yourself. That means telling others “No” when they ask you to do something. It means setting healthy boundaries. It might even mean getting away from the mess.

So that’s where my story is so far. I’m sticking to it. Be blessed and let God bless you.

©2017 RJ Thesman

Sometimes They Forget       Goals E-book Cover      Rev_G_Cover

 

 

Why?

God has never answered my question, and I seriously doubt that he will. However, he is kind enough to let me rage against him, scribble in my journal and cry out my frustrations.

“Why have you let Alzheimer’s take over my mother’s brain? I still need her.”

I want her to tell me how to live with vitality and fun in my sixties like she did.

I want her in my life, not just physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. I want her to tell me how she dealt with the circumstances of her life and how she remained strong as Dad’s caregiver through ten long and bitter years.

I miss how she used to sing “I Wonder as I Wander” at Christmas while she rolled out spicy peppernuts on the kitchen counter. That was the only phrase she knew of that song, so I laughed as she repeated it over and over.

Every Christmas, I hear that echo as I roll out my own peppernuts and miss her all over again. In this Alzheimer’s state of physical health and mental decline, she no longer sings – unless someone starts one of the old hymns that triggers a memory.

I want to know how we are supposed to accept age with joy when we have no divine models for it.

Jesus, after all, died young. He was only in his thirties and he stayed dead only three days. How would he have aged if he lived into his eighties? How would he have dealt with his mother Mary if she forgot how to tie her shoes, how to cook his favorite meals or even – heaven forbid – forgot his name?

Was that even possible?

We are supposed to exercise, read, play board games and work in order to stay mentally alert. My mother did all of those things with regularity and discipline, so why didn’t that formula work for her?

Will it work for me?

In my novel, Reverend G often repeats the phrase, “The question may be ‘Why,’ but the answer is ‘Who.’”Why-Who quote

Even though I wrote those words and believed them when Reverend G said them, today and in this particular stage of my mother’s Alzheimer’s journey – I want to know more.

I believe God knows and he doesn’t have to tell me, but somehow I need to keep asking the question.

I know I’m supposed to trust him. Even while my soul is torn by the rejection every time Mom forgets what my son and I do, even when I feel guilty as I drive away from the assisted living – somehow I’m supposed to trust that God knows why and it’s going to be okay.

Maybe I believe that someday – he’ll answer.

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1