July 7, 2012

July 7, 2012

Song of Songs 2:16a NKJV
My beloved is mine, and I am his.

One year ago my life was perfect. Gary and I were making plans to move to Tennessee after my graduation. We just came back from being in Franklin and Brentwood, Tennessee, and we almost purchased property. Gary wanted to but I asked him to wait. I wanted us to look at Ashville, North Carolina first and make sure that Tennessee was the place we wanted to live forever. He didn’t like waiting but he did, and we were busy looking up property on the Internet and making plans to go to Ashville during my winter break from school. In August we were heading to New York City and Philadelphia and then Boston. We were going to vacation with Patti and Chuck and it was just one month away. The both of us were very excited.

On that night we were talking on the phone with Chantel. I wanted a pool to sunbathe and Gary said I could have one as long as it was in Chantel’s back yard. Chantel agreed and so while the two of us talked, Gary got on the computer and started to look for pools to purchase. We were laughing and having a good time. Then Gary stopped and told me he was tired and slipped off to bed. That was very unusual for him so I finished the call with Chantel and joined him. He said he was okay, just tired, and then as I started to fall asleep he said, “Michele, do you know how much I love you?” I told him yes and asked if he knew how much I loved him. Then we both drifted off to sleep. Two hours later, seconds before midnight, I heard a strange sound and woke up to find Gary dead.
Not one day has gone by since that day that I have not laid down in my bed and cried. Not one day has gone by that I have not begged God to please wake me up from this nightmare. Not one day, not one single day has gone by that I haven’t prayed and begged and wished for Gary to be healed.

I walk around my bedroom and see everything as it was the night this happened, and I keep telling myself to put some of the memories away. I try, I can’t. There are doctors who tell me that I have to grieve the old Gary and just understand he is never coming back and this new Gary is all I will have. I try, I can’t. Moving on, going forward is impossible at this time. I know I tried but I can’t. I can’t because there is a part of me that still hopes and wishes that Gary will be healed. There is a very sensible part of me that knows that day will not come. Still and in spite of all that, I can’t.

The only thing I can do now is beg God that on the day Gary gets to heaven God will show Gary all that I did for him during this time and just how much I loved him. That is important because Gary really wanted more than anything to be loved by a woman. When his first marriage ended Gary shared with me that she shattered his ideal of marriage. Gary was single for a long time. He dated here and there, got close to marrying another woman one time but backed out. He told me that he used to hate hearing the DJ on WBGL talk about his ‘bride’ and the reason he hated it is because he didn’t have a bride, he was jealous. When Gary and I got married, Gary called that radio station prior to our wedding day and dedicated September 19th to his bride Michele. He did that so that for the rest of his life he could hear the DJ say on our anniversary that Gary Beck had a bride. This is how important a wife was to Gary and that is why it is important to me that Gary knows when he gets to heaven that he was loved more than he ever imagined. I had planned on making Gary happy for the rest of his life. Now I struggle to be remembered the rest of mine. That is the nature of this brain injury and the hard truths I am learning to deal with.

It was one year ago on this day that my entire world turned upside down when my husband’s heart stopped and mine shattered. Gary you will never know as long as you are alive just how much I love you. It is for that reason that I pray to God and ask Him to show you and tell you because baby you really did want a wife to always be by your side, and she is Gary and she always will be.

Ti amo molto beni Gary.

This is a song I have chosen that reflects how I feel. It is not a Christian song but it is a song that really speaks the words my heart cries out.

July 2, 2012

Esther 3:5 NKJV
When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow or pay him homage, Haman was filled with wrath.

Haman is lucky enough to be promoted and in this promoted state it is ordered that all should bow down before him, and all do. Well, almost all do, evidently Mordecai doesn’t and that one person is just enough to set Haman off in a tizzy. Oh, this is exactly what I want to talk about today. All of us who get ourselves all worked up over those who do not find us cute, loveable or as friends. Those people who talk about us, disagree with us and don’t like us. I am talking about the people who get under our skin, worm their way through our brains and camp out in our thoughts.
The question I have for you is this: Do you know how someone gets under your skin or into your brain? The answer here is simple: You Allow Them! You put them there all on your own. This is a great secret that I learned after 50 years on this earth. I will use Haman today to show how that happens.

The king promoted Haman and that is very good news for Haman. This had to bring him such a great feeling of success and pride. This is great news and he should be very happy with his promotion. The entire kingdom bows down before him. What a big man he became and all his hard work has finally paid off. There is one man, one man out of thousands upon thousands, who refuses to bow down. This man is not important to the king or to the community. This man is not important to Haman or his family. This is just one man among thousands who will not bow down. Why does this one man bug Haman? I mean truth be told, Mordecai is insignificant.

It bugs Haman because he lets it bug him. Instead of just walking away from Mordecai and letting the offense roll off his back, Haman internalizes the insult. The longer that insult sits within Haman the more treacherous the man becomes.

We do the same. Someone says something rude to us or shows their dislike for us in some way, and we go home and replay that one single event over and over in our minds. Before we know it that one moment takes up a lot of our thoughts, and that is a lot of moments we forfeit over someone who doesn’t give us a second thought. We justify this by trying to think of other moments we may have with them when we come out on top or better. That is what our mind does with this sin activity. It makes good use out of our imagination. The only problem is that it is only in our mind, and when we come back to reality we are still no better off and maybe even a little bit more angrier with that person.

Where is God in all of this? God is going to use this offense to bring about His glory. However, before He does I think God wants us to learn a lesson from Haman. I think God is trying to teach us not to think too highly of ourselves and believe that every person on this earth is going to find us adorable and lovable. When we run into those people, and we will run into those people, we have to learn how to just let what they say or do pass right over us. If they offended us we pray to God and ask Him to help us forgive them, and then forget them.
Easier said than done I know, and next week we will see the outcome of Haman’s foolishness.

June 25, 2012

Esther 2:22 NKJV
So the matter became known to Mordecai, who told Queen Esther, and Esther informed the king in Mordecai’s name.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time! Esther is crowned queen out of all the young virgins who were gathered to the palace. We also learned that her cousin Mordecai, who cared for her since her parents died, came to the palace every day to the king’s gate to inquire about Esther. It is there in the king’s gate that Mordecai learns about the plot to kill the king. He tells Esther who then on behalf of Mordecai tells her husband, the king. The men are dealt with and this all gets recorded in the book of Chronicles.

Several years ago, if you all remember, I was a teacher’s aid for special needs students. I only worked there for 3 years and really didn’t understand then why God opened that door for me to walk through. On April 12, 2008 I walked into the Evangelical Free Church of Naperville and met my now step-daughter Christine. I walked right past her dad and right up to her and started a conversation. A few months later I told Gary that I know God used that time I worked with the students to free me up so that I could talk to his daughter and through her meet him. I knew it was God who opened that door. I was only half right about the reason. A few months ago one of Gary’s doctors watched as I showed her the therapy that I used for Gary. She was impressed and asked me how I knew what materials to use and how to implement them. This is when God’s purpose for those 3 years came into full focus.

I chose the Book of Esther because I think it parallels very nicely with my life circumstances. It is an easy way for me to show you how God prepares us for something that will happen later on in life. This is how detailed God is. When I am done with the Book of Esther I am going to show you how God takes us gently through stages. For now I just want you to acknowledge the fact that God is Sovereign and He does know what lies ahead for us, He does prepare us and He does take care of all the little details. The proof of that is found in the steps of our lives. Soon, very soon Mordecai and Esther will discover how important it was for him to overhear the plot to kill the king. The two of them will see how they play an important part in God’s greater plan.

Today they don’t see it, we never do. Today they just see what is before them. They see two men plotting to kill the king. What do you see? What is it you are going through that today you don’t understand? Write it down and mark this passage with it. Then when it becomes evident to you go back and see how God used this time for that. God is Sovereign and not one day is wasted. God will use all our days to bring out His glory. We are seeing that in the Book of Esther; let’s learn to see it in our own lives.

June 18, 2012

Esther 2:17
The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.

Finally! Finally something great happens to Esther. She is crowned the queen and this king prepares a banquet in her honor. He actually rushed this along once he met Esther. She was not the last virgin so he didn’t go through them all and then decide; nope, he chose her on the spot, instantly. This is great news for Esther and now at last she can have a very easy life. She deserves an easy life; she had a rough one to start. She is an orphan who was raised by her cousin and then taken from her home, so she deserves this honor and God is blessing her, right?

For those of you who look at others who have an easy life and think how lucky they are, just remember luck wears out. Don’t assume they are blessed either. Blessings from God don’t wear out but as the song “Laura’s Story” tells us, sometimes blessings come in the way of trials. This every child of God should know and understand. For the time we will just celebrate with Esther the fact that she found favor instantly with the king and he makes her the queen.

We won’t even ask questions like why? What is it about Esther that the king finds so endearing? Why does he act with such haste in crowning her? How will God use a woman that is pampered as a queen? Did Esther lie in bed at night thanking God over and over? I am sure she did. Who among us wouldn’t? Any time any one of us gets something pleasant we are quick to thank God and throw Him kisses and praises. We love when God blesses us in this way.

The answer to the question of where is God is answered, right?

June 11, 2012

Esther 2:11
And every day Mordecai paced in front of the court of the women’s quarters, to learn of Esther’s welfare and what was happening to her.

Esther was loved by her cousin Mordecai. The evidence of that love is found in this passage. I know exactly how Mordecai felt. Gary is in residential care, and every minute of my day I wonder if he is doing well. Of course, we have modern technology available to us and Gary and I can call each other. Gary does call me and sometimes it is over 50 times in one day. The calls last for about a minute and most of them are just repeating what he said before, but I don’t mind. This is the only time I get to speak with him so I thank God for this opportunity.

The only opportunity Mordecai had to hear about Esther was to go to the court of the women’s quarters and inquire about her. This is a two-sided story. We tend to rush right away to Esther but right here we see the heart of her cousin. He had the responsibility of raising a child that was not his own, and we don’t know if he was married and had other children. Scripture does not tell us this information. We know he is anxious over Esther. The word “paced” is evidence of that truth and he is anxious for good reason. At any time the king can summon Esther, then discard her to live the rest of her life in his harem.

On the outside looking in this is a very difficult situation for Mordecai. He must be asking God over and over, “Why?” Why would God first take from Esther her parents and now take from her, her very own freedom? Why would God make her a concubine? Mordecai is thinking how unfair all of this is and yet God is allowing it to happen. I understand that “why” because I ask that of God every day. Gary was a single parent for 15 years and wanted desperately to find someone to fall in love with and marry. He dated a few, and got dangerously close with a wrong woman and managed to escape before it was too late before God had us meet. I pace in this house every day asking God why, so I really do understand why Mordecai is pacing.

Again I will ask the question of where is God? Is God there with Mordecai and Esther? Has God deserted them? I planned on answering that question this week but then I ran into this verse with Mordecai, so we will just keep going forward to find out those answers. Stick with me, I am getting there and so are they.

June 4, 2012

Esther 2:8b NIV

Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem.

We have started the study in the book of Esther and I would love for you to read the book as we go along. It is a short book, easy read, and it is the only book in the Bible which does not mention God. Makes you wonder why then the story is so important doesn’t it? Well, there are many lessons we can learn from this book and the one I am going to discuss is the most obvious to me at this time. God’s perfect timing.

All of you know that my husband Gary has an anoxic brain injury. This past month it became imperative that I place Gary in residential care. I had a very difficult time making that decision and still to this day wonder what God’s purpose is and if I will be alive to see it. I am just obeying and trusting God these days. So it is stories like Esther’s that intrigue me and for obvious reason. Here is a story of a woman whose life wasn’t always pleasant and yet God used Esther in such an amazing way.

Esther’s Hebrew name is Hadassah. She was brought up by her cousin Mordecai because her own parents had died. Think about that for a bit. Here we have a young Hebrew girl. Her parents are dead and the closest relative to raise her is a cousin. This is the child of an aunt and uncle. He has to be older than her in order to take this task on but we don’t know by how many years. We just know that Mordecai took upon himself this responsibility.

I lost my mom in 2007. Most of you received my devotional back then and so you know how difficult it was for me to lose her. I have also been with some of you as you have lost your parents, spouses and children. Most of us have experienced difficult times. How many of us were raised by cousins? Probably none of my readers, but we know that Esther was. If Esther was like the rest of us and she was, then losing her parents and being raised by a cousin was not her ideal family situation. It really doesn’t matter how wonderful Mordecai is to her, he is not her parents and that loss of them would weigh heavy on her heart. Now, because she is pretty and a virgin, she is being taken from her cousin’s home so that she can become a part of the king’s harem.

This is the same king who threw himself a heck of a party and summoned the last queen to appear before him and his multitude of guests wearing nothing but her crown. This is a king who has a harem. A harem is a group of women who are there for the king’s sexual use. She can be his one night and then never be summoned by him again, but then never be free to marry another man or even go home. This would not be a happy life or a life that any girl would want but would do all she could to avoid it. Only Esther can’t avoid it, she is taken and brought to the harem because the king is beginning to miss having a queen and wants to hunt for a worthy queen, and this is his way of doing it.

Let’s sit on this for a bit. Imagine being a young pretty girl who has kept herself for marriage. Your parents are taken from you and you have no other relative but a cousin to live with. You adjust as best as you can to that, when all of a sudden you are snatched from his home to be added to a king’s harem.
That first night did Esther lay there and cry out to God, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Did Esther scream, pound her fists, want to throw something and wonder why? Did she spend some time in prayer trying to figure out what great sin she committed and how she can get God to forgive her? Did she sit there stunned with disbelief and try to figure out why God would allow one more worst thing to happen to her?

I am sure Esther did all of the above. She was human and as humans we tend to internalize our problems, wonder where God is and why He is allowing all this turmoil to happen to us. That is natural, just read the book of Psalms. All of us go through a time after a trauma just scrambling and trying to find God in all of it, and wondering why He is allowing all that stuff to happen.

Been there and done that. I understand fully what Esther is going through. Gary died in bed on July 7, 2011 and today I still ask God why. I still cry for our old life and beg God to wake me up from this nightmare. This is natural behavior. When we go through a trauma it takes a long time for us to process what is going on. The professionals all say I have to mourn the loss of the old Gary before I can move on. Easier said than done but I am trying, and I think God is using His stories in the Bible to show me that even when what is happening makes no sense, He is still there.

Is God, the God who isn’t mentioned, there with Esther? Yes He is, and we will find out where the next time.
In His love,
Michele

May 28, 2012

Esther 1:1 NKJV
Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus (this was the Ahasuerus who reigned over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia).

I am so sorry that I haven’t been on my web page for a long period. A lot has happened since my last devotional and with time I can write about it. For now I just want to get back into the swing of things.

One thing I have learned in this break is that God’s timing is perfect and that He does choose the person He wants for the job that He needs done. That is actually the moral of the story of Esther, and it is in this book that I am really beginning to see just how God does maneuver us into position. That was an important lesson to learn because I have been asking God a lot lately why certain things are happening, and when I do He leads me to these Scriptures and it is in them I hear His answer.

The first lesson we are going to glean from this study is that when we read “Now it came to pass” it is just the author’s way of opening a story. As we will go along we will see that nothing doesn’t just happen to pass by God. He has a plan and a purpose. It just so happened that a very powerful king is throwing a huge party in his honor and not withholding anything for this event, sparing no expense and lavishing others with drinks and food and more drinks.
His Queen, Queen Vashti, is having a party for herself with the other females. Everyone is celebrating and this celebration went on for a long time and is now about to come to an end. This is when the King orders the Queen to appear before him wearing her crown. Theologians debate if this King wanted the Queen to appear wearing only the crown. They believe that is why Vashti says no to him. I am not sure if that is the case but we will just assume that it was. The Queen hears this request and she refuses to do what the King has ordered. Her punishment for refusing the King is to be put away from him.

This punishment may sound harsh, but it is justified by saying that if the King does not do this then all the women will follow the example of Queen Vashti and be disrespectful to their husbands. They all had their own reasons for wanting to see her punished. All of them wanted to be master of their own home and this is one sure way they would guarantee they would get it.

This is a bad situation and we are going to continue reading and learn how God works through this. For today I just want us to stop and focus on the opening words of today’s devotional: Now it came to pass….It happened. This is not a good thing to happen and it came during a celebration so it was at a time least expected. Nevertheless it happened, and when it does happen it closes one door but we will learn it will open another.

It came to pass but as it does pass, it goes by God and nothing stays the same once it goes by God.

I Met God Today

Psalm 46:1

 God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble.

 

I met God today. He stood about 5 feet 8 inches and was an elder gentleman. His hair was all white and so was his trim beard and mustache. He had soft blue eyes and the sweetest smile that lit up his face. He came to my house today, pulled right up in a tan Camry. I didn’t see him pull in the driveway. I was busy cleaning the kitchen and trying to distract myself. I try to distract the ‘whys’ that come in my head, I try to blink back the tears that so easily come to my eyes. I try to swallow the fear that creeps up my neck and chokes me. I try but I am not usually that good. Today as I did the dishes I was sad again and going down the lonely road when the doorbell rang.

I came around the corner and saw the car first and wondered who it might be and what they would want. I stopped and took a deep breath because I didn’t want to go to the door crying. As I opened it up I saw this man holding mail in his hand. He saw me and his smile went from ear to ear and I heard him say through the screen door, “hi neighbor.” I opened it up and he said hello to me and then he explained that my mail got delivered to his house. He said he was just going to put it in the mailbox and let the mail carrier re-deliver it but then he said he would have missed the chance of meeting me.

As I took the mail I noticed it was Gary’s medication and I am not sure why but I shared with him that my husband has a brain injury. He looked at me really seriously and asked if there was anything he could do for me. I went on to tell him thank you but no, I then said, “Our God is Sovereign and He is Sovereign over all the earth and He knows what He is doing and that my husband is there a part of God’s plan. Then I said you may pray for us if you want.

His smile came back instantly and he said he would pray for us and never forget. Then he crossed over my threshold and hugged me tightly and kissed my cheek and said, God loves you and so do I.  I thanked him and as he started to walk away he turned back and said, “Just think I was just going to put that in my mailbox and let the mailman re-deliver it but then I would have missed meeting you and learning you had a prayer request.” I smiled and him and wished him well and he got in his car he drove away.

On my mail he wrote, “Hi neighborJ! This got miss-delivered. I smiled now ear to ear and I thanked God for this man’s visit and returned back to the kitchen. It was then that I realized, “I just met God.”  He was there in the body of that elderly man and he brought me my mail and he hugged me and kissed me and told me he loved me.

I needed God today, I really needed God today and that was the constant cry I was having in my heart all morning. I kept saying I need You, I need You, I need You…..and He showed up.

My God is my refuge and my strength. A very present help in trouble. I know I just met Him-today!

Love never fails

! Cor. 13:8
Love never fails

One of the devotional readers asked me a very good question and that is why I post the negative words spoken to me and not any of the positive. I have to be honest with you; she really spoke the words God wanted me to hear. Why do I? I asked a mental health provider and she told me that is because hate is such a strong emotion that it over powers all the others. Now this chapter in Corinthians makes perfect sense and we all know and understand what is being taught. Love the only thing in this world which cannot fail is the one thing we push out of our way for hate.

This week was a rough week for me. In fact in this week two separate women said something very mean to me but…but this week over 100 people have said something sweet, positive, loving and nurturing to me. It is those who allowed God to speak through them and give to me words of encouragement.

I want to thank all of the men and women who support me in this horrific time of my life. I cannot tell you how much joy your words of encouragement mean to me. They always come at a time when I am feeling down and pick me up. They show up in my mailbox seconds after some discouraging thought has come to my mind. I then turn my thoughts back to God and thank Him for what I read and for lifting my soul up. This week after hearing the words of meanness came a thousand words of sweetness and I thanked God for all of them.

Gary’s brain injury is permanent and that is being confirmed over and over by the doctors. I serve a God who can do far more than the impossible. I also serve a God who can choose to leave Gary this way. Either way, He is still the God I serve. God showed me -then reminded me that heartless people will always be with me. However, loving and supportive people will be there to and I just have to learn to let their words drown out the hateful words. I have to be more intentional about telling all of you what happiness a good word brings to a person who is hurting.

Love never fails, it can be pushed out of the way and replaced by hate but it is always there waiting to be brought right back. God’s love never fails and He calls upon us to love one another in the same way. I know that Gary has no memory of me. However, Gary does remember that I am his wife and that we are married. He tells me often that he knows he loves me and it is just on his bad days when he forgets all that. He will have good and bad days the rest of his life. All I can say to that: love never fails and his love for me will always be there and my love for him will always be there and God’s love for us will always be there. LOVE NEVER FAILS-PRAISE GOD.

April 23, 2012

1 Corinthians 13:7
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes in all things, endures all things.

As I type this devotional tonight my husband is at his brother’s house living there for a short time. The reason is that much like the woman in the movie “The Vow,” Gary has no memory of me and he feels safest with his brother Guy. I understand that and still letting him go, letting him stay is the hardest thing I have yet to do. That is because I truly want Gary home with me. The doctors are not giving us much to hope for these days. Most of them concur that if Gary was going to recover he would have shown improvements by this date. Based on all their years of medical knowledge, they feel that any improvement Gary makes will be good but not significant.

Then there is Gary’s brother, who just so happens to be Gary’s identical twin brother, and he feels that Gary will recover some of his short-term memory skills. If Gary does that then he can be reintroduced to me and we can date. He fell in love with me once so I could pray he would fall in love with me again.
In the movie the couple divorced, and it is after some time that she finally comes around looking for her husband. We learn in the credits that they married again and had children. The story ended and it was a happy ending. I may not get a happy ending to my story and that can be my reality.

Another part of my reality is that I know God can heal Gary, but He may choose not to. We need to remember that when Jesus walked on the earth He healed a lot; He left even more unhealed–not because He didn’t love them but because it was not God’s will for them to be healed. It may not be God’s will for Gary to be healed and that can be a definite reality for me. While that is my reality, I also have Christ with me in my reality. With Christ my reality may scare me, but I know Christ never leaves me and He will stay with me. It is for that reason that I can endure, bear, believe and hope in all things. That is how crazy love is and that is how crazy in love God wants us to be.

This entry was posted on April 23, 2012. 2 Comments