Having a support network

I had an accident last month while out bushwalking. I won’t rewrite the whole thing here but if you’re interested in the details, you can read about it at my photography blog, since I was out doing photography when it happened.

I’m now nursing a broken leg and will be on crutches till 1st February when I have to go back and see the surgeon. I spent 8 days in hospital and had to have surgery to have a rod and screws put into my leg.  Consequently my poor husband has had to look after me, the household, meals and the cats – when he struggles to look after himself some days.  My husband had an accident himself, only 8 months prior, resulting in spinal cord injury – much worse than my own injury.  He’s still recovering and is on painkillers. While he can now walk and use his right hand, he is still limited with things he can do – and easily.  What was supposed to be 3 weeks of Christmas holiday leave turned out to be a time of being a Carer for me.  He’s done a wonderful job but he hasn’t had to do it all himself.  And the reason why is because we have a support network of family, friends, neighbours and our church family.  Between them we’ve had shopping done, especially before Christmas, Christmas presents wrapped, the house cleaned, cooked meals provided, errands run, my business mail picked up, and support and prayer.  Without these people we would have been in a far worse state and my husband probably wouldn’t have coped.

Why have I brought this up? A friend on Facebook recently posted about the challenges she is having with her family of boys. One is nearing his teen years. She’s been a widow for a few years now and is struggling to manage her family and finds it a real challenge and very tiring. I asked her if she had contacted her local church and asked for help. Her response was that there are others with worse problems than her and she didn’t want to bother them. I told her she was wrong and that the church will only know there’s a problem and she needs help – if she tells them.

We are often told that God is concerned about every single detail in our lives and that He wants us to bring those concerns to Him.  Likewise I think it’s important we reach out to His people because who is better equipped to help us and be there for us, if not God’s people?

A Proverbs 31 Woman, in most cases, has a man, her husband, to look after her and care for her. But what about those who are widows or without their husbands for some reason? While she will still watch over the affairs of her household (Proverbs 31, verse 27) she is still very much someone who needs to be looked after.  In the Bible we’re encouraged to look out for widows and orphans – but if you don’t know they have a need, it’s unlikely you’ll be helping them.

If you know a widow (or widower), or single parent, especially one with young children, why not check on them regularly?  Particularly if they don’t have other family close by.  Unfortunately today so many are separated from their extended family members and are often hundreds of miles away. They’ll be appreciative of adult company and conversation and may not feel they can ask for help – so why not offer it anyway?  And if they say ‘no’, keep in touch – they may just feel that they can’t ask or accept, even when they are in need.

When the radio witnesses

Today’s devotional comes out of something that happened in just the past 24 hours, although it really has its beginnings around 8 or 9 years ago.

Yesterday afternoon my daughter sent me a text to say there had been a lady named Debbie on the radio saying that she was there because of a lady named Kathie from “A Clayton’s Secretary” (that’s me by the way!).  I hadn’t heard it because I was out walking with a friend around the park.

Our Christian radio station has been having a radiothon all this week to raise $250,000 to keep the station running and to add to the services they already provide. They are a community based station with nearly 800,000 listeners (nearly 1/10 of our city population) and every 6 months that have a ‘thon’ to raise funds to keep the station running.

Many people had been ringing with their personal stories of what the radio station means to them and how it has touched their lives.

On a personal level, Graham and I have been listening to this station since the very day it started – 1st December 2002 which was Graham’s 50th birthday and the reason why we remember that date so clearly.

The radio is always on in our house during the day and sometimes at night time too. I’ve been running my business at home all these years with a positive input and messages from the bible and laughing DJs and songs that bless you. It’s not 100% Christian but all of its music and discussions reflect Christian values and about 300,000 of the listeners are people who aren’t Christian but of other faiths, or no faith at all.  With no swearing, or putting people down,the station is one that builds people up and is safe to listen to when children are around.  And it provides other services such as a care centre call line for those who need someone to talk to.

Anyway, this lady went on to say that 7 years ago her husband was diagnosed with 2 brain tumours and didn’t have long to live.  He died and Debbie was devastated.  She was left with 3 little boys to bring up on her own. Her husband had believed in God and knew where he was going and told her so. When he died she spoke to God and told Him He was the only male influence left in the house now and she was going to have to depend on him.  Time went past and she realized she needed more.  She would ask God about it.  Slowly more male mentors arrived in their lives – teachers and others she could trust her boys with. Then one day she remembered a radio station she’d been listening to some years before when working with a lady named Kathie of “A Clayton’s Secretary”. She went to her radio and kept twisting the dial till she found the station and has been listening to it ever since. I think she said it’s been 3 years and it really has helped her in her journey and she’s found God.

I missed the original of this message but it was replayed on the radio last night and I felt both honoured and blessed that I am a part of this lady’s testimonial.

You just never know what things you do will bless others and touch their lives in a very deep and long-lasting way. For me it was simply having a radio on in the background when Debbie worked for me some years ago.  I don’t do outright witnessing but rather wait for people to ask questions and I answer them. I probably told her which church I go to and might have mentioned a few other things. I can’t remember. But what she remembered was the radio station.

The bible tells us all sorts of things about friends and friendship and how we need to be around people and the light we shine for others to see. It’s not just in our actions, i.e. the things we do physically and personally, but it’s also about what we surround ourselves with and how people view us in our own environment, that is within our own homes.  It’s not the messy room, it’s not how beautiful or how drab the home, but it is about how people are made to feel and the environment they are within. Debbie was in a place where God was mentioned often on the radio as a normal part of every day life – something I was used to and just hadn’t realized how it might affect another.

Proverbs 31:27: She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

There is healing in love

When June 2011 arrived, my husband had been in hospital for many weeks resulting from a mountain biking accident which left him with spinal cord injuries.  I was anxious for his return home, just as he was.  We missed one another very much – I was lonely at home, and he was missing everything that home represented. Funny, but home seemed so empty with his absence, although in normal circumstances he’s only here at night time, most of the time. He’s away at work Monday-Friday and on weekends usually on mountain bike rides (the cause of the accident) or trail building or out with his mate.  He’ll be home in the evenings and we go to church together on Sunday mornings. Sometimes we go out for dinner, visit family together, or have family meals here.

When he came home one Friday mid June we were both elated.  Home seemed so different now and we talked about how we’ll never take one another for granted again.  There was so much we both missed and never realised just how much we would miss each other and our normal life together.

In the short time he’s been home he has begun being able to do things he could not do while at the hospital.  All part of the healing process but with a difference. Here at home it feels so different (for him) and the healing seems quicker.  Perhaps it’s because the time is more filled with things and it goes faster, perhaps it’s because he’s doing different but every day normal things to what he was doing in the hospital.  I do believe there is something else in it though – love.  I was thinking about what had transpired in the first 72 hours he had been home and it had been filled with love.

Love here at home, love at our church, love from our family and friends.  It hit me – that there is healing in love.

When you read through the verses in Proverbs 31:10-31 you will find that everything the Proverbs 31 Woman does is covered in love.  She brings her husband good, not harm, all the days of her life…. she provides food for her family… she watches over the affairs of her household and so it continues.

When you think further on through the bible though you are reminded of a love that is larger, much larger, and the promise of healing for all.  John 3:16  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…  Yes, there is healing in love.

Welcome to all our new subscribers

It has been lovely to see new subscribers joining us recently.  Are you a writer and, in particular, do you love to write devotionals?  We are looking for a couple of new devotional writers to join our team and if you are interested, we’d love to hear from you.  You will need to show us examples of your work – if you are published elsewhere just give us the links.  And we’d like to know a bit about your background and your faith statement.

Simply leave a comment below saying you are interested and we’ll be back in touch by direct email to get the rest of the information from you.  Thank you.  Kathie Thomas

Do you embarrass your kids?

I think all kids get embarrassed by their parents at some stage. I know when my youngest was only 14 my having grey hair was an embarrassment to her. She told me to go and get it coloured.  And there was one time when we were on a family holiday at a show and I got called out of the audience to be on the stage for a skit.  My very full long hair attracted attention I think and got me noticed.  And of course I had to ham it up when I was on the stage. That was embarrassing for all of our daughters even though all eyes were on me and not them!

I was listening to a song on the radio station and immediately recalled two youtube clips done by separate DJs of that station to the song (Single Ladies).  I remembered saying to the wife of one of the DJs I wonder how their son will take it when he’s older? She had responded he’ll either be embarrassed or will laugh at his dad and join in.

My strain of thought got me thinking.  We can never avoid doing something that will embarrass our kids at certain times in their lives – that’s just how kids are. Our actions or words may make them think that others will think badly of them.  After all kids and teens are ‘me’ focussed and tend to think the whole world revolves around them. And it does to some extent.

However, it’s important that the things that embarrass them then, will not remain an embarrassmentthroughout their lives as they grow into adulthood.  I recall hearing different people through my life speak about their parents in a tone other than pride.  A mother’s actions (and perhaps a Proverbs 31 Woman) and that of the father can vastly affect their child’s thoughts and actions for the rest of their life.

In Proverbs 31:26-28 we are told: She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue, She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idelness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

When your sons and daughters have grown up will they look back and see a mother who spoke with wisdom and will they call you blessed?  Will your husband continue to praise you (and you him)?

It only takes a moment to consider what you are about to say or do and think forward to the consequences.  Self-gratification today through an angry word, a quick reaction, can indeed birth something that will stay for much longer.

Bless, don’t mess

This article was written some months ago when my husband was in hospital.

Our responsibility as Proverbs 31 Women isn’t just to our family but to those who surround us too.  Verse 15 speaks of the ‘servant girls’, verse 20 the ‘poor and needy’, verse 24 of ‘merchants’ and verse 31 talks of the ‘city gate’.  In other words, everyone we are in community with.

Verse 26 says ‘She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue’ and while much of this passage relates to the family of the Proverbs 31 Woman, I believe we are encouraged to conduct ourselves in such a way towards all we encounter and have some kind of personal interaction with our friends, neighbours, colleagues, clients, and anyone else we should have contact with.

And so it is with this preface that I encourage you to think carefully about what you say and to whom.  In particular the ‘negative speak’ that often enters our head and exits our mouths before we’ve really thought about it.

Case in point:  My husband is currently in hospital due to a serious accident he had 6 weeks ago.  He suffered spinal cord injury and partial paralysis. Let me first say he is recovering and we’ve been told he can expect 95% full recovery within a 12 month period. This is wonderful and we look forward to that.  However, in his first week he was really worried that he might be permanently paralysed and at times he was concerned he might die.  He was worried about what he’d done to our relationship and our future together.

I knew he was depressed in those first couple of weeks, as did his best friend and I’d shared with our Pastors too. We all worked at building up his spirits, encouraging him and praising him with each new development as he began to sit up again, regain his ability to walk unaided and relearning to use his right hand.  Each day he is able to do a new thing again, small perhaps, but they count and he is making progress.

What I can’t understand is why people (who are otherwise well-meaning) should start relating stories to him of others they’d heard who’d had accidents and died, who’d never recovered, who’d returned home only to have something go wrong and so on.  What kind of encouragement is this to my husband?  It makes my job, and that of those of us encouraging him, all the more harder.

It seems that ‘bad news’ is told better and travels faster than ‘good news’.  I encourage you to consider Ephesians 4:29 ‘Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen‘.  In other words, if it won’t encourage or build up someone, then don’t say it at all.   Especially when they’re down, or convalescing.

While my husband may appear to be his ‘normal self’ when chattering, the reality is he’s still very vunerable and fragile emotionally and, for the most part, is not in an environment where people are working to build up his spirits, but rather to heal his body.  I am glad he feels he can text or ring me when he needs me to build him up and encourage him. He knows he will always get that from me.  But it is sad that I have to keep ‘putting out fires’ and extinguishing the bad that someone else has conjured up in his mind simply because they had a ‘good’ (but sad) story to tell.

If you are planning to spend time with someone who is getting better, no matter what from, please don’t start pulling out bad luck or sad stories to tell these people. They don’t need them. What they do need are positive stories that will build hope and encourage them in getting better themselves.  Even funny stories, as long as they don’t have bad endings, can help.  Or say nothing at all and just listen to the patient talk about what they need to talk about.  You being a listener is far better for them and healing, than listening to a story that will have them worrying long after you’ve stopped talking to them and gone on to something else.

Bless the people you speak with, don’t mess them up.

The heart of a servant

1 Peter 4:10: Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

I was sharing with a friend how my husband and I are settling in to the church near our new home. We weren’t sure we’d actually shift churches when we moved house but we’ve since decided that it’s the best thing for us.  As we grow older, the need for ‘local’ community becomes stronger and also, because of our new location (bushfire region) it’s important that we have local contacts and can gain local knowledge.  I’ve been going to this church on and off since May and my husband has begun coming to services too.  So we’re still very new there and getting to know people.

I told our friend that I am now looking after the (new) church website as it seemed to me they needed help in that area. And I could see other things I can become involved in as time goes by.  I was telling him I couldn’t help it – I like being involved and if I have the skills and knowledge for something, then I want to use them.  I guess I was sounding kind of apologetic for it.

His response startled me a bit as I hadn’t seen what had taken place in the same way he did.  I get worried that I might be too pushy or anxious to belong and get involved.  But that’s not how our friend saw it. He said I had a servant heart and that will always mean I’ll be involved in the Lord’s work.

Let’s look at that verse again.  1 Peter 4:10: Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

This is indeed what I have been doing. Simply using my gifts to help others where I see the help is needed.   If this means I have a servant heart, then so be it.   Do you use your gifts to help where needed?

A servant heart. What does that mean to you?

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