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The Benefits

Linking up with Holley Gerth for Coffee for Your Heart

I started this post a month and a half ago and decided to conclude it today....

"Mom! She's going to throw up again!"  frantically the voice calls and I run to get more towels because I know she probably didn't make it to the toilet.
It's been a common refrain for the past almost three weeks. 

Other common scenes have been two adults willing a child to take medicine and coming up with any form of coaxing or bribery or finally resorting to, "You will have to go to the doctor and get an IV if you do not drink, eat, or take any medicine."   Taking medicine sounds so simple, but seems very daunting when it is refused by a five year old.  

Isn't that true about a lot of things with children or relationship ins and outs in general?   You might be able to escape to work and check things off of a list, point and click and make things happen, but many times in the mix of family or friendships you simply do not know many times how to make it all fit or work or fix it.  Even the seemingly simple tasks.  

Another common scene was the seven year old or two year old sleeping to the beat of hundreds of water drops splashing hot steam against the old bathtub and calming ragged coughs.   Wrapped in a blanket and lying on pink pillows with sweat curling dark blonde hair around their fever blushed faces. There I would be with my feet tucked up under me and my own pillow wedged between the air conditioning vent and the door stopper praying this all to end and getting ready for another eventful and sleepless night on the bathroom floor.  I hate seventies shag carpet, but the past three weeks have made me see it's perks.  Sleeping all night in strange positions next to a sick child is much easier on shag carpet than wood floors.  
I found myself one early morning when the sun was just peeking over the horizon washing the bathroom in soft light with my legs vertically wedged against the bathroom vanity cabinet and me so stiff I could barely stand up.  There's humor in all of this.  You never think of sleeping with your legs straight above your head wrapped in a Frozen kids blanket and one hand holding a two year olds when you think about being a parent.  
And yet life is like that.  You find yourself in less than ideal situations, doing messy uncomfortable things, all the time.  In situations that you can't quick fix or make better.  In situations that the only thing you can do is hold hands and just be there

After round three started last week I found myself retreating to the side deck letting strong sunshine chase my blues away.  It's hard to stay bottled up with the sick, but for so long.  I felt all the tears start to roll down and drip down my face.  It was just so tiring and with round three of this mystery virus starting and it got the best of me.  I don't know how long I sat there, I just know that when my husband arrived there was no denying that it had all taken its toil.  I blabbed on about how i was going crazy in these four walls and I could not even express how tired I was.  And truly I felt pretty close to crazy. Sometimes we underestimate how being physically tired can lead us to feel so lonely and isolated and just plain weird.  
A couple of weeks ago I had determined to memorize Psalm 103.  I had heard Charles Spurgeon recommend it as the ultimate Psalm.  That it had no literary comparison.  So upon hearing this I had to check it out.  I knew I had read it many times, but I had to revisit it.  It did not disappoint.  

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being praise his holy name.  
Praise the Lord, my soul and forget not all his benefits - 
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles. 

Psalm 103: 1-5

The whole Psalm is like soul medicine, but I had to stop with these first five verses and repeat them over and over.  I remembered about three years ago when I had meditated over them several times.
That line, "forget not all His benefits" had jumped off the black and white page and into my heart as I was reflecting on practicing the art of gratitude.  

A month has passed since all of the sickness happened around here.  And it ended with all of us being sick.  Some twice.  A total of six weeks.  Several trips to the doctor and lots of tylenol, eye drops, and sprite.
As the days of summer have melted into July I'm still coming back to that Psalm.  I believe that no matter what storm you are in or blackest night of the soul the most sure way out is to find reasons to take joy in the Lord.  No matter what the situation is delighting in Jesus is the remedy.  It's that one sure thing to hold onto and it is the one thing we were made to do.  We are created for praise and we find our truest selves when we enter into it.  We think of it is a sacrifice and sometimes it most definitely is.  It is a sacrifice of our questions and hurt to praise God always.  Somehow that act of sacrificial praise transforms us and centers us on who we really are and where our joy can only come from ultimately.
I think joy motivates us like nothing else does.  It motivated Jesus to go to the cross.  It was the joy that was set before Him that enabled Him to die.  I think thats why David prayed for joy to be restored to Him in Psalm 51 after his great fall.  I think there is no greater weapon or lifeline in our lives than joy.
I feel more than any other thing I can choose to do putting on the muscles of joy is what enables us to carry weighty burdens that will crush us normally.  Joy is all around us.  Even if it cannot be found in present circumstances if we will look up to the sky, out to the eyes of a friend, or into the crevices of a child's small hand the joy of God can be found.  I think many times the things we think will bring us the most joy or should are the things that so often disappoint us the most and leave us with feelings of utter despair and fast desires to run, hard and away forever.  But sometimes I wonder if God allows those breaks in our life just so we will know that He is the One Treasure, the creator of all Good Things.
Obviously I leapt from mundane child sick days to hard disappointments of life.  If we can work joy in the small of our days it helps us practice it when ominous deep valleys find us.
We all have those disappointments.  A marriage that never really seemed to add up no matter what you did or tried, a child that you never could have, or a child that died, children that left and didn't come back,  financial loss, businesses that closed, friends that walked away, or just a dream you carried around in your chest all your life that you watched die a slow death...we all have these disappointments.  All those things can leave us bitter and jaded and who would blame us?  I think God gives us permission to really get real and lament with Him.  To be brutally honest.  Yet He invites us to see those sadnesses as places to lean against Him and find His heart for us there.

I listened to this earlier this year about dealing with disappointment and I really was encouraged.  So good...


  1. What a beautiful be real about the struggles and still find joy in all forget not all his benefits.

    Thank you for writing this wonderful post.


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