I’d like to share with those of you who are hurting a few things that have helped me through my daily struggles following Brandon’s unexpected death. I hope some of these things will encourage you and perhaps help you in your own journey through your life and through the Universal Struggles.
Keep a prayer journal. Back when I was a new mom, I attended a class designed for older, wiser ladies in my church. There were no young ladies in my church after the church split, so I crashed the older, wiser ladies Bible Study on Tuesday mornings and dragged my infant Katie along for the ride (they didn’t SEEM to mind…wink, wink). I gleaned a whole lot of knowledge in that class, one of which was keeping a prayer journal. God “keeps track of our every tear” (Ps 56:8). Why not keep track of your every tear in a journal? Admittedly I have not kept up my prayer journal well over the last 10 years, at least not until sweet Brandon’s accident. It’s fun to look back over the years when I did put an entry and see how God answered each request so specifically and perfectly and in PERFECT timing! I’ll share a few of my more recent entries.
PRAYER REQUEST: I’m sick this week with a giant goiter on my head from an infected bug bite. I’m SO sad, so lonely and so discouraged and do not feel I want to or have the strength to go through another adoption. PRAYER ANSWERED: Tim was such an encouragement to me with words, my parents gave us a sizable donation toward the adoption, we got another donation from a “You don’t know me, but…” person and our state tax refund came in the mail. I believe it was God encouraging me to move forward with the adoption through His people.
PRAYER REQUEST: I’m really missing Brandon. A year ago I was bonding with him in Ukraine, today I’m struggling with energy and joy in life in general. PRAYER ANSWERED: The school presented a yearbook to our family with pictures inside that Brandon had drawn and a page that was dedicated to him. My friend, Melissa, also stopped by that afternoon and gave us a scrap book with poems, pictures and kind words several people had written to us. No one knew I was sad or down. God knew, and it just so “happened” that He showed His love, yet again, through His people exactly when I needed it.
PRAYER REQUEST: Sunday (Mother’s Day) and Monday (May 14th—Brandon’s anniversary of arriving in the US). I am SO down and SO discouraged. I am SO sad. PRAYER ANSWERED!! Pastor Sean sent an encouraging email. The girls were encouraging and gave lots of hugs and love. We enjoyed a celebration together with Krispie Kreme doughnuts. Tim was understanding and accommodating to my needs. I received an email with TWO new pictures of Nestor. God knows exactly what to send my way to cheer me up!
Rest. Sleep can make the whole world look differently!! I learned that first when our girls were young. I had three children ages 3 years old and down and at times rest was scarce. It was amazing to me how much a nap, or a shower alone would help my mood, and change my entire outlook on life. If you are tired, by all means sleep—do NOT cover up your tiredness with coffee or eating large amounts of “comfort food!” If you FEEL tired, your body NEEDS sleep. It’s BEGGING YOU to rest. It is worth the money to pay a babysitter. Better yet, request help from a friend. Any friend would be more than willing to watch your little ones so you can get rest. It is good for your body and it boosts your immune system. Stress wears on a body, but rest rejuvenates your body. Do something to make your bedroom “pretty.” Buy a new comforter. Find a new painting. Light some scented candles and take a bath. Play some music you enjoy and REST! Mark 6:31, “And he (Jesus Christ) said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and REST a while’.”
Surround yourself with positive. Do not, I REPEAT, do NOT watch CNN, FOX News, or anything NEGATIVE for crying out loud!!! We know this world is wretched, okay? You do not need to add to your own personal stress and grief by watching the corruption of the entire world (and the exaggerated, dramatized version of the story at that). Also, hang out with great friends that make you laugh. Funny people ROCK! I love being around my husband. I recall the day following Brandon’s death, walking over with Tim to where Brandon used to sit at dinner and kissing each other—just because it would have GROSSED BRANDON OUT and because it made us laugh. Laughter is not only good for your spirit, but it is also good for your body as well. Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” I’ve also mentioned many times, to listen to good, uplifting music. One last thought the Bible says, “Whatsoever things are pure, lovely, and of good report, think on these things”….and CNN, FOX News, negative friends or influences (including secular music or depressing movies), etc. are not pure, lovely or good!! Run for your life from negativity!!!
Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray! PRAY!!!! Pray not only for your own needs, but for the needs of others. You will be amazed at how your spirit is lifted if you look away from yourself and your own struggles and pray for others! I pray for all the people I mentioned above regularly and sometimes all throughout the day. Many times I will wake up in the middle of the night and these people are on my heart and mind. I immediately begin praying for them. I believe it is GOD that wakes believers up sometimes in the middle of the night and when HE places a name on your heart, that is the Holy Spirit speaking directly to you. In our bathroom at the church where I work there is a painting on the wall that says this, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7: 7-9). Prayer works! God promises to answer prayer.
Universal struggles are unavoidable because of the Fall of Man. We are all hurting in one way or another or will at some point in life. Prayer journals, resting, positive influences and prayer sure beat being down in the dumps all the time or depressed! I’d encourage you to give it a try! You just might smile if you do. Praise God Universal Struggles are not forever! Those of us who have repented and trusted Christ have an eternity full of joy and peace waiting for us in God’s presence!! I CANNOT WAIT….In the meantime….while the girls are watching that movie…..I think I’ll take a nap. J