And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there's nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

-Third Day


Cries of loneliness. Tune out the traffic and turn down the TV. The cry is there. You can hear their cries. You can hear them in the convalescent home among the sighs and the shuffling feet. You can hear them in the prisons among the moans of shame and the calls for mercy. You can hear them if you walk the manicured streets of suburban America, among the aborted ambitions and aging homecoming queens. Listen for it in the halls of our high schools where peer pressure weeds out the “have-nots” from the “haves.”

Many of you have been spared this cruel cry. Oh, you have been homesick or upset a time or two. But despair? Far from it. Suicide? Of course not. Be thankful that it hasn’t knocked on your door. Pray that it never will. If you have yet to fight this battle, you are welcome to read on if you wish, but I’m really writing to someone else.

I am writing to those who know this cry firsthand. I’m writing to those of you whose days are bookended with broken hearts and long evenings. I’m writing to those of you who can find a lonely person simply by looking in the mirror.

For you, loneliness is a way of life. The sleepless nights. The lonely bed. The distrust. The fear of tomorrow. The unending hurt.

When did it begin? In your childhood? At the divorce? At retirement? At the cemetery? When the kids left home?

Maybe you have fooled everyone. No one knows that you are lonely. On the outside you are packaged perfectly. Your smile is quick. Your job is stable. Your clothes are sharp. Your waist is thin. Your calendar is full. Your walk brisk. Your talk impressive. But when you look in the mirror, you fool no one. When you are alone, the duplicity ceases and the pain surfaces.

Or maybe you don’t try to hide it. Maybe you have always been outside the circle looking in, and everyone knows it. Your conversation is a bit awkward. Your companionship is seldom requested. Your clothes are dull. Your looks are common. Ziggy is your hero and Charlie Brown is your mentor.

Am I striking a chord? If I am, if you have nodded or sighed in understanding, I have an important message for you.

The most gut-wrenching cry of loneliness in history came not from a prisoner or a widow or a patient. It came from a hill, from a cross, from a Messiah.

“My God, my God,” he screamed, “why did you abandon me!” (Matthew 27:46)

Never have words carried so much hurt. Never has one being been so lonely.

Out of the silent sky come the words screamed by all who walk in the desert of loneliness. “Why? Why did you abandon me?”

I keep thinking of all the people who cast despairing eyes toward the dark heavens and cry “Why?”

And I imagine him. I imagine him listening. I picture his eyes misting and a pierced hand brushing away a tear. And although he may offer no answer, although he may solve no dilemma, although the question may freeze painfully in midair, he who also was once alone, understands.

No Wonder They Call Him The Savior - Max Lucado

I have been thinking a lot about what my family has been through and where we will go with God in 2009. But sometimes my faith is so small and I can't make sense of what is going on - which is why I can relate to the the song by Big Daddy Weave.

Well, sometimes my life
Just don’t make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

So hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t you be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It’s so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

So hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t you be my Prince of Peace

Surrender don’t come natural to me
I’d rather fight You for something
I don’t really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls
Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band
Is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

So hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t you be my Prince of Peace

You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace

In Philippians 4:4-7, Paul gives us the promise of peace. However, there are conditions to be met and actions we must take in order to experience that peace and win over worry.

Action one: Choose joy

Action two: Be gentle

Philippians 4:5 gives an unusual directive concerning worry. “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” “Gentleness” literally means “humility, softness and tenderness” and seems to indicate that part of dealing with worry is related to the directive that we must be gentle with everyone. The Living Bible translates “gentle” as “unselfish and considerate”. Any way you look at it, this truth is in direct opposition to the viewpoint of the world in which we live. Power and assertiveness gain respect while gentleness is often viewed as weakness. In God’s eyes, gentleness is harnessed strength, and a controlled power. What does gentleness have to do with eliminating worry? Paul is saying the way we treat people affects our peace. Many of us have lives filled with worry because we have relationships filled with conflict. When we are not gentle, conflict is the inevitable result. Worry and anxiety thrive in the atmosphere of conflict. What does it mean to be gentle in our relationships?

· Gentleness is willing to give up control.

James 3:17a “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others.” Gentleness can always find a patch of common ground, giving people room to grow and change.

Gentleness doesn’t control but is willing to yield or submit to one another in love.

· Gentleness is love in action.

James 3:17b “Gentleness if full of mercy and good deeds.” When gentleness sees a need, it does something about it. It is compelled to take action!

· Gentleness forgives.

Colossians 3:13 “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Gentleness is quick to give and to receive forgiveness, always taking the responsibility to initiate forgiveness.

· Gentleness wages peace.

Hebrews 12:14 “Pursue peace with all people.” “Gentleness” does not retaliate but pursues peace instead. The goal of gentleness is unity. I’ve read that when thoroughbred horses are under attack, they stand in a circle, face each other, and with their back legs kick out at the enemy! Donkeys do just the opposite. They face the enemy and kick each other.

We are called to wage peace. When we practice gentleness and pursue peace in our relationships, there will be less conflict, more unity and fewer footholds for worry.

Action three: Be aware of His presence.

Philippians 4:5 “The Lord is near.” We often pray, asking for God’s presence when our prayer should be, “Lord, make me aware of your presence.” He is near but many times our lives and hearts are too crowded to see or hear Him. The more we are aware of God’s presence the less we will worry. We become aware of His presence through:

· Bible

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword.”

The most powerful weapon against worry is scripture. Read it. Memorize it. Immerse your life in it. The word of God grounds us, repelling worry. When worry comes - reject it! Deflect it with the shield of God’s word.

· Prayer

1 Peter 5:7 “Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.”

Prayer is simply conversation with God and a powerful weapon against worry. I read of a widow who had successfully raised a large family of eighteen children, twelve of whom were adopted. Yet, she never seemed to worry. During an interview, a reporter asked the secret of her peace and confidence. She said, “I’m not alone. I’m in a partnership with God. Years ago, I said “Lord, I’ll do the work and you do the worrying! I have had peace ever since!”

· Friends

Ecclesiastes 4:12 “And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

When you share your fears with others, they grow smaller because someone has gotten under the load with you. A shared load is a lighter load. We tend to hide our fears in darkness where they grow and strengthen, instead of bringing them out into the light where they will die. When we try to be “lone-ranger Christians” and handle our fears on our own, we are susceptible to attacks that will defeat us. When we stand together, our strength is multiplied and we are not easily beaten.

· Experience

James 1:17 “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.”

The more we know Him, the more we will understand that He really is who He says He is and that He is willing and able to work in our lives. We will naturally begin to trust Him and soon discover that He is faithful.

So much worry is buried in the unknown. The “known” victories of yesterday can destroy the fear of today’s “unknown” circumstances because He is always the same. What a security comes when we realize that we can truly count on Him. God’s presence empowers us to win over worry. When you are tempted to worry, stop and go back over the books, remembering the victories and celebrating them once again. The God who delivered you yesterday will deliver you today and tomorrow! The experiences of life prove Him true and underline His presence within.

Girlfriends in God - Mary Southerland

Some years ago a rottweiler attacked our golden retriever puppy at a kennel. The worthless animal climbed out of its run and into Molly’s and nearly killed her. He left her with dozens of gashes and a dangling ear. I wrote a letter to the dog’s owner, urging him to put the dog to sleep.

But when I showed the letter to the kennel owner, she begged me to reconsider. “What that dog did was horrible, but I’m still training him. I’m not finished with him yet.”

God would say the same about the rottweiler who attacked you. “What he did was unthinkable, unacceptable, inexcusable, but I’m not finished yet.”

Your enemies still figure into God’s plan. Their pulse is proof: God hasn’t given up on them. They may be out of God’s will, but not out of his reach. You honor God when you see them, not as his failures, but as his projects.

God occupies the only seat on the supreme court of heaven. He wears the robe and refuses to share the gavel. For this reason Paul wrote, “Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. ‘I’ll do the judging,’ says God. ‘I’ll take care of it’ ” (Rom. 12:19 MSG).

Revenge removes God from the equation. Vigilantes displace and replace God. “I’m not sure you can handle this one, Lord. You may punish too little or too slowly. I’ll take this matter into my hands, thank you.”

Is this what you want to say? Jesus didn’t. No one had a clearer sense of right and wrong than the perfect Son of God. Yet, “when he suffered, he didn’t make any threats but left everything to the one who judges fairly” (1 Pet. 2:23 GOD’S WORD).

Only God assesses accurate judgments. We impose punishments too slight or severe. God dispenses perfect justice. Vengeance is his job. Leave your enemies in God’s hands. You’re not endorsing their misbehavior when you do. You can hate what someone did without letting hatred consume you. Forgiveness is not excusing.

Nor is forgiveness pretending. David didn’t gloss over or sidestep Saul’s sin. He addressed it directly. He didn’t avoid the issue, but he did avoid Saul.

Do the same. Give grace, but, if need be, keep your distance. You can forgive the abusive husband without living with him. Be quick to give mercy to the immoral pastor, but be slow to give him a pulpit. Society can dispense grace and prison terms at the same time. Offer the child molester a second chance, but keep him off the playgrounds.

Forgiveness is not foolishness.

Forgiveness is, at its core, choosing to see your offender with different eyes. You don’t excuse him, endorse her, or embrace them. You just route thoughts about them through heaven. You see your enemy as God’s child and revenge as God’s job.

By the way, how can we grace-recipients do anything less? Dare we ask God for grace when we refuse to give it? This is a huge issue in Scripture. Jesus was tough on sinners who refused to forgive other sinners. In the final sum, we give grace because we’ve been given grace.

Man do I struggle with this!!
Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado


On Monday, September 12, 2005 I wrote the post below: Read to the end for what makes this post different 3 years later.


How do we achieve true happiness? How can I be happy? And what makes me unhappy and can I prevent it? These are questions I have been asking myself lately. I often sit and think, where would I be if I had done things differently about 5 years ago. Most of you know that I took 3 1/2 years off from school to work and to try to get my life in order after a few trials. But this decision has haunted me every since I made it. You see, I was at a private Christian school for my freshman year but I was "unhappy" so I decided to return to Oxford and go to Ole Miss. Due to this decision, I lost a semester's worth of hours and the major that I wanted was not longer offered about mid way through my sophomore year. To make a long story short, I have been haunted by people asking me why I didn't stay at Freed-Hardeman ( with the comment to follow you could be married by now if you would have stayed), when are you going to graduate?, but it doesn't stop there. I deal with comments like your younger sisters are all going to graduate before you; why don't you date, you are never going to get married, then there is always the flip side when you get married, and the most common one lately is you will never move out of Oxford, you are always going to work for your dad.
So I guess you are wondering where I am going with this. I have struggled with depression in the past and have a fear of struggling with it again. But I am really struggling with what makes me happy and wondering why if I am happy why can't people be happy for me. For example, being single is not always easy (especially when you have two younger siblings that are married), but a lot of the time I enjoy being single and being able to go and do the things I enjoy without having to check-in first. I will admit that there are times when I would like to have someone to go and do all the things I enjoy with me. But I feel like the people around me are more concerned about the fact that I am not married. Then there is the whole leaving Oxford and finding a new job thing.. I do want to get out of Oxford, but every time I hear you aren't going anywhere it makes me want to leave that much more just to prove a point, but then I question am I doing this because it is what I want and it will make me happy or am I just doing it to prove those around me wrong.
I can't change the decision I made to come back to Oxford for school, or the decision to take time off from school. I will never know if I had stayed at Freed, that I would be married. I don't know where I would be if I had finished school 5 years ago.
But I do know that I will graduate in December and that I will finish what I started almost ten years. I am looking for jobs outside of Oxford, but I don't know if that will happen. Being single is the point I am at right now, so I have to accept that.
Now that I have rambled on, back to my question...
I want to be happy more than anything and I want to be content with the decisions that I made in the past and make the most of them now, but I am not sure exactly how to do that. I think my biggest problem is that I want what I can't have and it is starting to consume me.
I have tried to be reliant on God and trust that he knows what is best, but I am sad to say that the voices around me are louder than His.
How do I keep those decisions from the past from haunting me? How to I rely on God completely?

Well it is almost 3 years since I wrote the post above - hard to believe. Some things have changed and some things have remained the same.
I am still single, a Christian, my youngest sister is getting married to join the 2 that already are and I am not in oxford anymore- but the main difference in the post in 2005 and todays is that I am happy! I have found true happiness and it is in God. The past is no longer haunting me. I can't change the past I can only live for the future. I can answer my own question - I can rely on God completely by putting him first and taking the focus off of myself! When I am looking outward to others, God is blessing me inwardly. Yes, I am still single and yes, I am dealing with all the same questions of why I am not married - but I have a new answer. I am living everyday as if it were my last with God by my side. I have found how well I can serve God single, so until he sends that special someone my way, I am focusing on those around me and their needs. I am not perfect and I still have my hard days, but ultimately I am happy because God is in control and I know how blessed I am.
It is amazing what God, 3 years and patience can do for you!

The greatest blessing you think you can give but you get in return. A few of my friends and I helped build a house through Habitat for Humanity. We were only able to help one day but that day changed my life forever! It was such a wonderful blessing to see someone so happy in knowing that God was taking care of her. The woman, Sybil, that we were building the house for had lost her best friend of 11 years, 9 months after they were married. She is from South Africa and has 3 children. She had a great burden in providing for her children and the idea of never being able to provide a safe place to live for her family. She applied for Habitat and was accepted. It has been such a blessing to see her happy! She has been on cloud 9 for months now. She said just when she thinks that she couldn't be anymore blessed, the gifts keep coming. God is number one in her life and she is giving Him credit where credit it due.
She is/was such a blessing in our life that we wanted to give something back to her that she could enjoy with her family and that would be special from us. She mentioned during the build that she would love to have a porch swing, so that thought stuck with us until the time of the dedication of the house. We sent out emails and gathered money from friends to give her what she felt like would be a finishing touch on her house. On Sunday following the evening worship service, we went out to hang the swing and to see the smile on her face was priceless! She wanted to be the first to try it out with her daughter, so we granted her wish. She said I will sit out here with coffee, a book, a love for nature and blessed by God. Little did I know how much a porch swing could mean to someone but it just wasn't the porch swing but the love we showed her and she showed us. God working through a porch swing to bring people closer! I am blessed to have been a part of this built and this woman, Sybil's, life. A memory I will cherish forever!

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