Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Aftermath

"For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall."
Isaiah 25:4
(KJV)

When you first saw the title of this post, perhaps your mind went to "the aftermath" of  the Christmas season you just walked through!  Clean-up from parties, trash bags filled with torn pieces of wrapping paper, cardboard packaging from ripped-open gift boxes, and a depleted bank account balance that needs refilling.  That image probably rings true in most homes right now, but that isn't quite what I am referring to.  I'll get into the real message of this post in a moment, but first three things.

#1.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our dear Zach!  Unbelievable that he is 19 years old today!  God bless you, dear, dear son, with many, many, many more happy, healthy birthdays, and may God allow your Daddy and me to share as many of them with you as possible!  We love you with more love than our hearts could ever hope to hold!  (You can read about Zach's special unexpected Christmas surprise by clicking HERE.)

#2.  Another special thank you to the sixteen writers/contributors who sent us their amazing, inspiring, heartwarming Christmas memories during this beautiful season!  (You can read their posts by clicking on their names - Matthew, Tipper, Chris, Melissa, Aryn, Gentle Joy, Kitty, Nancy, Zachary, Karen, Emily, Henry, Barbara, Janet, Betty, and Marilyn.)  I absolutely loved reading and sharing every, single one of them, and it was such a joy to open the Homespun Devotions platform to these gifted story tellers!  God is leading us to do a whole lot more of that kind of sharing in the future, so stay tuned for more news about that in a future post, Lord willing!

#3.  A sad good-bye to Christmas!  I can't believe it's over!  It went by WAAAAY too fast for me!  I feel cheated, like I didn't really have time to absorb the preciousness because it was just moving way too quickly.  Anyone else feel the same?

Now, back to what I meant when I entitled this post "the aftermath."


The other night, I found myself in a sprawled-out seated position near the bottom of our stairs.  I had gone to bed, couldn't sleep, and feeling inspired to work on a writing project, decided to get back up and go downstairs to the living room to write.  Very foolishly, I made the decision to not turn on the light but just use the light from my laptop to guide the way and enable me to see as I descended the 14 stairs.  Silly me.  I did great until I was near the bottom and somehow mistakenly thought there were no stairs left!  Down I went, somehow managing to hold on to my laptop and keep it from flying through the air.  Have you ever had something happen where it feels like time stands still and everything is going in slow motion?  That's sort of how it all went down (pun intended!)

So, there I was, sprawled partially on the floor and partially on the bottom couple of steps.  I can only imagine how it all would have appeared to someone watching, and even though it was happening to me, I have to tell you, I found it extremely humorous.  I may or may not have even laughed out loud as what just happened replayed in my mind, and my trembling hands struggled to figure out a way to pull myself back up on my feet,

One good thing about being overweight and having the bulk of said weight strategically distributed in the area of impact is that there was plenty of cushion, and even though it hurt terribly to make contact with those stairs and that floor, the blow was at least somewhat softened.  I finally bumbled around and struggled back to my feet, and all the while I was praising our dear Lord that I was fine.  NO broken bones, thank You, dear Jesus, from the depths of my soul.  Just pretty shaken up as I hobbled over to our double recliner, collapsed into it, and tried to get my nerves settled down enough to write.

I have no idea how it happened, but by the next morning, the middle toe on my right foot had turned purple, and it was difficult to walk.  Not too big of a deal, just uncomfortable.  I could live with it.  A couple of days went by, and I became startled when I looked down at my right arm and saw one huge, then another small horrible looking bruise!  Now, where did those come from?  At first, (can anyone say "fear is my default mode?"), I panicked like I do every time I see bad-looking, unexplained bruising.  You see, one of my favorite people in the world, my 3rd grade teacher, Sis. Cloud, had very weird-looking bruises.  They were all over her arms and legs, and I remember standing by her desk one day and innocently asking, "Sis. Cloud, why do you have so many bruises?"  In her tactful, discreet, unassuming way, she gave me some casual answer that wasn't really an answer at all, but served to calm my little troubled mind.  Not long after that, she started missing work, and I missed her terribly when she was gone. She was my hero.  I still remember how Mom and Dad had previously taken me to her house after school and how much I loved being there with her.  She was just a gem and had a huge impact on my young life.  When it became more of a norm for her to miss work than to be at work, the news finally came out.  She wouldn't be coming back to teach us anymore at all.  Ever.  Our dearly beloved Sis. Cloud had leukemia, and she died just a short time later.  It broke my little 8-year old heart, and I have never forgotten her.

So, when I see strange bruises, Sis. Cloud and the awful disease that took her from us are the very first things that come to my mind.  That's just what happened when I stood there looking down at the nasty bruises on my arm the other day.  Then, instant relief washed over me.  Those bruises had to have happened when I took that unexpected trip in the dark!

A few minutes later, as I was praying, the precious Holy Spirit spoke to me, and this is what He said.  "You didn't see those bruises when you first fell, did you?  Yet, the fall is the exact thing that caused the bruises.  You don't see the full impact of how much you are being affected by an injury until the aftermath when the signs become evident.  The discoloration in your toe didn't show up until later, even though the damage happened during your fall."

Then He reminded me of the hurricanes and hard storms we have been through while living in hurricane-susceptible areas.  I remember how we would would board up our house windows, huddle up inside for sometimes days at a time, bracing for the worst.  We could hear the torrential rain and the violent wind, but we really didn't know exactly what was going on outside, nor could we know until the storm had passed.  After the rain stopped and calm replaced the wind, we would cautiously open the front door and peek outside to assess the damage.  Then, and only then, did we really start to see the devastating effects of the storm we had just weathered.  Debris all over the street out front.  Tree branches broken and flung all over the yard.  Power and phone lines down.  Electricity off and no means of outside communication for several days.  Fuel shortages.  Leftover standing water from violent storm surges.

This is just the way it is with the storms of life.  God provides a certain type of merciful oblivion while we are going through the hard places.  There is this special kind of sustaining grace He gives to spare us from knowing how deeply we are being impacted by what is hitting our lives.  Adrenaline kicks in, we sort of go into this mode where we are able to function and go through the motions and do what we have to do without really being able to comprehend the full impact.  Then the winds die down, panic gives way to reality, we start to come back to our full "senses," and —then comes the aftermath.  Bruises start to appear in places we didn't even realize were affected.  Wounds become evident, and we realize we are bleeding and in need of healing from injuries we didn't even realize were taking place.  Deep sadness takes a hold as we realize what we have lost.  We start to see that what happened has left behind a trail of emotional debris, physical trauma, and spiritual impact.  In the wake of the storm, "normal" has been permanently altered for us.  Life has changed, never to be the same again.

Walking through the aftermath is sometimes harder than weathering the storm.  Clean-up can take weeks, months, years, even a lifetime.  Sadly, sometimes we never fully recover from the blows that are dealt us in this life, but I want to offer encouragement to you today.

Whatever you are "reeling" from in this moment — a disturbing medical diagnosis, the loss of a dear loved one, the end of a relationship, the severing of family ties, walking away from a long-attended church, having to move from a place you dearly love, an unexpected job outsourcing, a forced career change, abuse from those who should love you, or a plethora of other life-altering storm situations - you are not walking alone.

Several months ago, I was deep in prayer one day, and Holy Spirit spoke these words to my inmost spirit, "Do you believe I can get you through ANYthing?"  When I heard His still, small voice asking such a thing, I was alarmed because I instantly started wondering what He was preparing me to face.  Why would He ask such a thing if there weren't hard things up ahead?  As I went on praying, He whispered the same thing to me over and over, and I waited to answer until I could say, from the heart, "yes, Lord, I do believe You can get me through anything."

Throughout the storms we have encountered since then, His words have come to my mind so many times, and through each storm, sure enough, God has proven Himself completely faithful.  He HAS gotten us through every, single time, in spite of the extent of difficulty, but His help did not stop with just "getting us through" those storms.  He has STAYED with us in every moment of "aftermath."  During the healing, during the "clean-up," during the questioning, during the seasons of such life-altering change.



He is the God of the storms, yes.  He is also the God of the aftermath.  He never leaves.  His last words spoken to His disciples before ascending to His Father were, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."  Matthew 28:20

He is still with you, my friend!  You and I —we still serve an amazing God!



I pray that whatever you are walking through—the storm or the aftermath— (because aren't we all in one of those places nearly all the time?)  you feel His presence with you in new and unexpected ways.  

After one of those particular hurricanes in FL, I remember how we walked outside to assess the damage and how completely overwhelmed we felt.  We didn't even know where to start.  It was almost paralyzing to stand there and feel that the challenge was too much.  But, as we found the courage to put one foot in front of the other, the aftermath was tackled by picking up one broken tree limb at a time.  As you try to pick up the pieces and move forward, give yourself grace and remember that the clean-up and healing will happen only one small step at a time.  Just put your hand in Jesus' hand and get through today.  Let Him do the heavy lifting.  Stay focused on Him and what He can do, not on what you cannot.  

He will get you through this.  He can get you through anything.  Keep encouraged, stay the course, and press on!  At the end of the aftermath awaits a new start, and perhaps that is exactly what you need.

37 comments:

  1. First of all, Happy 19th Birthday to your precious son, Zach! I know how he blesses you by being your son. I did gasp when I read about you missing the step, and falling, and I loved how you tied it into the aftermath. We need to listen to the Holy Spirit!! I hope your toe and bruises are feeling better. Yes, sometimes I say...Jesus, you take over! I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and will have a Happy (and safe) 2020, filled with blessings.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind wishes for Zach! He surely does bless us in so many, many ways and is a blessing to so many others. We are so very grateful for this dear boy. I am doing much better and pretty much healed from the bruises and mishaps! Yes, dear friend, we surely do need to listen to the Holy Spirit! He is the only safe Guide to navigate us through this troubled world. Your encouragement and kind words meant so much, and I trust you will have a happy and safe 2020, filled with many blessings, too!

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    2. Thanks so much for the kind b-day wishes, Kitty! God bless you in the New Year!

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  2. Oh Happy, Happy Birthday to your dear Zach. I know how precious he is to you and Kevin and from what I read, he has grown into a wonderful young man, strong in the Lord.
    I am so sorry that you endured that fall and I'm praising God that the aftermath wasn't worse. Oh, I have fallen so many times and the evidence takes days to all show up. I also tend to be an anxious person and worry way too much. I know we are not to worry and time and time again I lay something at the foot of the cross and as the saying goes, pick it back up and take it with me. I'm working on it! :-)
    We have so much happening right now. Worry over our children, Karen's terminal illness, Dennis traveling to see her next week. Snow falling and me unable to clear it while he's gone. Our church home of 26 years seems to be going down a path that is disturbing to us. So much so that Dennis' has left his leadership position that he's held for 24 years there. Where do we live after retirement? Where do we worship? Some of these worries are trivial. Some are life changing.
    We try to put them into Jesus hands and I try desperately not to grab them back again.
    Wishing you peace filled days my dear Cheryl. I thank you for your prayers for Karen and Mom especially. She's struggling with so much loss the past few months.
    Blessings always,
    Betsy

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words for and about Zach, Betsy! I am so sorry to know of your falls, too, and yes, we both surely have much to praise the Lord for - even though He allowed the falls, He has kept us and sent angels to keep us from serious harm. Oh, dear friend! You surely have so much on your heart in this season! I have been praying for Karen, and I know it is concerning about Dennis having to be gone and you there at home with all the bad weather. Oh, may the Lord bless you and keep you and even stop the bad weather until Dennis is back safely with you! I cannot begin to tell you how much it hurt me to read of your church situation and it being to such a point that Dennis had to resign his leadership after all these years! I know this was not a light decision, and for it to cause him to feel led to take such a step, it is surely NOT a good path your church is going down. SO much compromise of the truth, such a great falling away we are seeing, just like God's Word warns us about! I feel your pain, and my family and I had to make a hard decision eight years ago when God led us on a similar path. It is a lonely walk where you are very misunderstood; lonely, but you are not alone! Where God leads you, HE walks beside you. We have found this to be true. I trust Jesus will give you clear guidance on where to live, where to worship Him, and what to do in every troubling circumstance of your life and future. How my heart goes out to you, and I will surely keep praying for Karen, Mom, and also you and Dennis. I send much love and many hugs of understanding to all of you. Wish I could give you a hug in person. I trust Jesus to do that and to hold you ever close to His heart. Much love to you, my dear friend!

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    2. Thank you so much, Betsy! I certainly don't feel worthy of those kind words. God bless!

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  3. Happy Birthday Zach. Wishing you many more happy and healthy ones. You are a treasure to your parents. Look after them.

    Praying that you get better quickly, Cheryl.

    God bless you all.

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    1. Victor, you are such a blessing to us! Thank you for your kind words and friendship. May the Lord richly bless you, my friend.

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    2. Thanks a million, Victor! I truly appreciate that! Hope the Lord continues to bless you in the coming year!

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  4. What an incredibly powerful post Cheryl, I'm so sorry to hear about your fall, and the bruises, ouch! But so thankful that in spite of it all, that you are okay, praying that toe heals up quickly! It is amazing how the Lord teaches us such deep things while we walk through difficult situations. It is true that the aftermath is usually left out of the story. The cleanup is difficult and messy, and the world has moved on. I enjoyed listening to the music you shared with this post, so thankful for the God of the Storm! Happy birthday to your sweet Zach, it is hard to believe he is 19 years old!! Praying for all of you, and many blessings, hugs and love sent your way!

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    1. Oh, thank you, sweet friend! Yes, it is truly amazing how He allows things to happen that teach us such profound lessons. You are so right about how the world moves on, and so many times we are left to clean up the aftermath without that initial inflow of support and understanding. I love those songs, too. They have been such a blessing to me lately! I can't believe dear Zach is 19 years old, either. How have our children grown up so fast? I don't understand where the time goes. It makes me just long to cling to every second with all my might, but while I am trying to cling, it slips right through my fingers. Your prayers and friendship are Divine gifts, and I send many blessings, hugs, and much love back to you today!

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    2. Thank you so much, Marilyn! Trusting the Lord will bless you and your family abundantly in the New Year!

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  5. Happy Birthday Zach! So sorry about your fall, Cheryl. What a wonderful post you have shared and I have seen the truth of this post in my life many times, and especially this last year. God is always faithful and He is good, no matter what we go through. The aftermath of trials is a good way to look at this … and I realize more than ever the havoc wrought by a severe storm in life.. and the damage left, but as you said, God shows us one step at a time how to continue on faithfully. By the way, that sense of "merciful oblivion" that God gives in such a time is absolutely precious and I am thankful that He dulls things for a while to allow us to adjust to the "new norm" in life instead of dumping the full weight of the stunning impact all at once. God is good all the time... and all the time, God is good. Thank you for a wonderful blog post.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words to Zach and your precious words of encouragement today! You are so right, that merciful oblivion surely is precious and such wisdom from our Heavenly Father. I thought of you recently when we watched the "God's Not Dead" trilogy and the dear man kept saying, "God is good all the time, and all the time God is good." We have to remind ourselves of this often when walking through those difficult steps of the aftermath. I am praying for you and trusting Jesus to bless you richly, sweet friend.

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    2. Thanks so much for the birthday wishes! God bless!

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  6. Happy and Blessed Birthday, Zach!!!
    Yes, Cheryl, it's the aftermath that always gets us worse than the storm. But knowing God is with us through it all is all the comfort we need to simply put one foot in front of the other, and keep going.
    Happy New Year Blessings to you!

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    1. Thank you for the birthday wishes for Zach! And, a Happy New Year to you, too, Martha!

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    2. Thank you so much, Martha! God bless you!

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  7. Happy Birthday to Zach!!! I can't believe he's nineteen! Wow... how time flies.

    Even in the heat of an accident you're instinct is to laugh... That. Is. Awesome!!!

    I know first hand that overnight purple toe means it's broken. Nothing they can do, but they hurt! Hard to walk in toe covered shoes.

    Storms are part of life and so is the clean up. I'm glad you're through the valley, sister. I pray for a quick recovery and watch that last step!

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    1. Thank you so much for your birthday wishes to Zach! I know what you mean. I canNOT believe he could possibly be 19! Yes, I can tell you that I am way more cautious now when I am coming down those stairs! I even count them and hold on to the railing for dear life! LOL! God bless you with a wonderful new year, brother!

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    2. Thanks a lot, Floyd! It's hard for me to process, too. Feels like time's going by faster and faster every day. Praying the Lord blesses you and your family in the New Year!

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  8. I am contemplating leaving my church community after 30 something years so found this post really timely. Thanks Cheryl. Happy birthday to Zach, I hope you all enjoyed celebrating together. And praying for a speedy recovery after your fall :)
    blessings, Diana

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    1. Oh, Diana! Bless your heart! I SO understand where you are. May God bless you with the wisdom and discernment you need concerning your church situation and also the courage to walk out His perfect will. Thank you so much for your birthday wishes to Zach and for your kind words. God bless you with a wonderful, happy new year!

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    2. Thank you for the kind birthday wishes, Diana! Will be praying the Holy Spirit gives you guidance and wisdom in this possible transition. Leaving a church can be one of the most difficult experiences we face, but sometimes it can bring so much peace in the end. God bless you!

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  9. Thanks for the encouraging message. Glad to hear you are OK in the aftermath of your accident, and hope you recover quickly!

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    1. Thank you so much, Bethany! I am so thankful for God's mercies and for the healing He has done in my body. He is so faithful! So grateful for your visit and kind words today!

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  10. Happy birthday to your son! I'm so sorry to hear about your fall and hopefully all the bruises heal quickly. I have done that before, thinking you were at the bottom step and you weren't. It is definitely a shock when that happens. We have gone through many storms in the last few years, we keep hoping there won't be anymore for a while. God has been ever present through the struggles and the aftermath. On Monday, it appears we will be having to put down our dog (Katie). Not looking forward to that but I know God will see us through. Happy New Year to you and your family.

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    1. Thank you so much for your birthday wishes to Zach! Yes, it was quite a shock to find myself sprawled on the steps and floor! LOL! I hope you don't have any more bad weather anytime soon, and oh, Kelly! I am SO sorry to hear about your precious Katie!!! May the dear Lord bless you and comfort you and hold you so close to His heart as you grieve your precious friend. I am praying for you and with you and your family a Happy New Year, too. This is surely a sad way for you to have to start out 2020. May God let it get much better for you.

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    2. Thanks so much, Kelly! God bless you!

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  11. Happy birthday to your precious Zach! Cheryl, I am so sorry to read about your fall, so glad there were no broken bones. But the aftermath of bruising is so true of our lives. This is so encouraging to read on the last Sunday of the year. God is ever faithful in our storms and our aftermath, He is ever present. Blessings my dear friend❤️

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    1. Thank you so much for your birthday wishes for Zach! I am so thankful this post encouraged you on this last Sunday of the year. Hard to believe 2019 is winding down and coming to a close, but here we are. Time marches on and waits for no one. Many blessings to you and your family in the new year, sweet friend!

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    2. Thanks for the kind b-day wishes, Pam! May the Lord bless you!

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  12. Oh dear friend! I am so thankful you are okay! Those "imaginary stairs" at the bottom wreak havoc on so many. I know of someone who fell in just that manner but ended up needing surgery. I think Carrie Underwood sustained those injuries to her face by doing the same thing. Praising God that He was merciful to you in your fall. (I too am someone who laughs when I fall, but also, I confess, when other people fall. lol. I don't know why, but I just do!)

    I never thought about that before. How we can sustain injuries, but we don't see the aftermath until the storm has passed.

    Thank you for the reminder that the Lord is not only with us in the storm, but He sustains us through the aftermath and will bring us through stronger and more faithful than we were before.

    Sending you much love and gratitude and praying that the Lord blesses you and your family abundantly in the New Year.

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    1. Oh, my goodness! I am SO sorry to hear about the one who fell and needed surgery! I had heard that Carrie Underwood had some sort of fall, but I didn't realize it was in this same manner. Oh, reading this comment makes me see more and more and more how faithful and GOOD God has been to me! Oh, my! I laugh, too, when someone else falls. Oh, it is good to know I am not the only one! Why do we do that? It seems so cruel, but I will tell you what —I canNOT help it one bit. I am writing a post about some of this, Lord willing. It is just something that I think a lot of us can relate to! Sending much love and gratitude back to you and trusting you and your dear family will be abundantly blessed in the new year, too! SO thankful for you and your precious friendship.

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  13. "Let Him do the heavy lifting." Truth! It brings to mind a wonderful image of our strong Savior putting all things right. Great post, my friend. Keep them coming. Happy belated birthday to Zach!

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  14. Yes, isn't that a wonderful image? I am so thankful our dear Jesus has big shoulders to carry ALL of our heartaches and burdens! SO thankful for you, sweet friend, and for your encouragement, kind words, and birthday wishes to Zach!

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  15. A blessed New Year to you all.

    God bless.

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