Peace For The Soul

The Best Medicine For A Weary Soul

November 11, 2016
I struggled with indecision, longing for the ability to transfer strength and peace of mind to my Grandmother.
Lying curled on the small bed that has become her resting place most days, it was a blend of ingredients she desperately needed, but a combination not found in her daily list of prescriptions.
Weariness etched into the fine lines of porcelain skin as recent life transitions and the grip of time took their toll.
Moments earlier, Grandma had gingerly chosen between spaghetti noodles and fresh orange slices on her dinner tray, engaging in a bit of conversation about the day. But now, all spark faded as she succumbed to white cotton sheets and the soft pillow beneath her, silence filling the room.
Moments like these left me uncertain.
Should I go? Or stay?
Her chest rose and fell to the rhythm of even breathing as I struggled to make my decision. Looking down at soft curls framing Grandma’s weathered face, I felt at a loss.
Until my eyes fell on the large leather bound book on her nightstand. The book she prized and handled with great care over the years.
And I decided to take a chance.
“Do you want me to read the Bible to you?” I asked, voice low, not sure she would respond.
I was surprised by the soft reply. Grandma spoke quietly, eyelids still closed against pale cheeks.
“That would be nice, ” she said, just above a whisper.
With little sign of responsiveness, I read through various Psalms, looking over to see if she had drifted off to sleep.
But it was hard to tell.
Until my fingers rested on an underlined passage, the words settling through the stillness of her small room.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”
That’s when it happened. The faintest flicker of a smile brightened her face, letting me know she was absorbing each word. The cruel grip of age and hardship had robbed her strength and energy, but they couldn’t steal the timeless comfort of God’s Word.
The simple reaction touched me. And perhaps it will strike a chord in your heart also.
Like many of us, the story of Grandma’s life is a blend of hardship and joy, a mix of tragedy and triumph.
As a teenager, the pain of losing her beloved father came too soon when his life was cut short from an unfortunate accident in the Minnesota farmlands.
Years later, Grandma faced separation from family and friends as she and my Grandfather moved south to raise a family in tough economic times.
And in a rural community of southern Georgia, they nearly lost one of their young sons to a devastating kitchen fire. A tragedy that brought a lifetime of physical and emotional scars.
Yet through it all, the words of an inspired psalmist from long ago still resonated in the vulnerable places of her heart. Time and again, God’s strength shone through adversity. And even in the most difficult seasons, He was there.
At age 91, Grandma is a fragile shell of the woman she once was. But her smile spoke volumes as she absorbed comfort for her soul. The curve of thin lips sent a message that needed no words.
It struck me as a beautiful reminder for all of us.
In an unsettled world, there is a foundation that cannot be shaken. And no matter what age or stage of life we find ourselves, there is an elixir that provides strength where human ability fails.
It is the power of God’s Word.
You and I may face different circumstances, but the strength hidden between the sacred pages of  a holy book remains the same.
When weariness of life and all its uncertain ways threatens to overwhelm, let’s remember to rest in His promises. And let’s remember the words that comforted a woman in the evening shadows of life. And take heart that we, too, can find strength in their timeless, healing balm.
Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

The Secret To A Good Night’s Rest

September 20, 2016
Each day I think tonight will be the one. The one where I will finally drift into peaceful slumber as soon as my head hits the pillow. The one where I will find the calm my soul and body craves. But night after night, an overactive imagination has other ideas, refusing to put the cares of the day to rest.
 Fragments of pale moonlight slip through window blinds, the tossing, turning and adjusting of bed sheets taking their toll. A vitamin or mineral deficiency? Maybe. Too much caffeine? Perhaps. This process of finding a proper balance has been a slow one, adding and subtracting ingredients in hope of finding a solution through nutrition and exercise.
But the heart of the problem doesn’t lie in loss of sleep alone. The true unsettling is that of a restless mind.
Maybe you can relate?
When sleep hovers, but refuses to come close enough to embrace, I find whirling thoughts filter in from all angles. Hands and feet are still, but random streams of consciousness come in a steady flow.
Questions bubble to the surface. Thoughts common to many of us,  but those we rarely want to face in the light of day.
Niggling insecurities. Personal doubts and fears. The well being and safety of those we love in a world filled with turmoil.
Perhaps you’ve experienced it too. That transition between wakefulness and sleep where defenses fall, unlocking a vulnerable place for fear and worry to slip through the darkness unbidden.
If so, you’re not alone.
From my pillow, I brush at a loose strand of hair, one simple question suddenly pushing through all others.
What went well today?
Four simple words. But they are the subtle turning point I need, the slight shifting of gears on this runaway train of thoughts.
And then another one.
What blessing can I dwell upon?
A slow, deep breath and my mental focus changes direction, realization dawning. Thoughts are the seeds that set a pattern for our frame of mind, and those that are nourished are the ones that will grow.
It’s not a big secret, really, but have you noticed that important truths can get lost in the noise of life? In the darkness, you and I have an opportunity. Will we choose to multiply our problems or to count our blessings?
I am learning that we are not called to live in fear of the what if, but in the goodness of what is. And night or day, where the mind chooses to settle, the heart will decide to abide.
When plagued by feelings of past regret or taunted by future unknowns, the good may seem elusive at times, but you and I can hold the admonition of Philippians 4:6-8 close at heart.
In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of a good report; if there by any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
I’m also learning that simply letting go of unruly thoughts isn’t enough. They must be replaced, through slow, deliberate sifting. It is the difference between fear and hope, the open bridge from anxiety to peace, with a standing invitation to cross over. Can we take the first step?
With deep, grateful breaths, let’s find the good. And settle there. Unwinding with thankful hearts, let’s choose to focus on what went well and the beautiful expectation of what is possible when our focus is on Christ.
Sleep may not come right away, but the inner calm and peace of His rest will. And ultimately, that is the most important ingredient of all.