For the Brokenhearted

reaching out to you

Psalm 34:17-18 “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

This is the season of Joy. Glistening lights, happy Christmas carols, gifts given in love. But for some, the season is not as bright. For the father who is struggling to put food on the table for his children, let alone buy them Christmas gifts. For the old woman who sits in her rocking chair, her life but a memory and her children too busy to visit. For the child who wants to be a part of a loving family. For the mother who cries over the son she lost in the war.

For those who have gone through a year of endless trials and heartbreak and feel you have no reason to celebrate, this is for you. God is a God of love. He loves you. The Bible says He hears the prayers of His children. He knows the pain and sorrow you carry even without you telling Him. But even more so, He promises to deliver you from your troubles.

Even if your sorrows haven’t been as grievous, know that God has walked by your side. That He is ever faithful to love and keep you. Psalm 34 is loaded with promises from God—He answers our prayers when we seek Him, He encamps around us to protect us, His eyes and ears are attentive to our cries, and He promises to deliver us from our troubles.

It’s easy this time of year to get caught up in the trappings, the glitter, and the clutter and lose sight of the real reason for the season. God did not come to earth to judge us, but to save us. To lift us up when we are discouraged. To be our comforter and the lover of our souls.

May this holiday season be a time of refreshing for you. I pray you can leave your cares at His feet and that God’s presence will fill your hearts and souls to overflowing.

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A Story of God’s Faithfulness

Today would have been my mother’s eighty-fifth birthday if she hadn’t succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease last March. She passed away peacefully, in the company of her husband of sixty-three years, and in the arms of Jesus.

Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease, because it steals its victim’s story. In the ten years Mom suffered from the disease, it wormed the story of her life away bit by bit.

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It started with forgetting little things, like how to make cookies, and progressed to forgetting people, places, and events.

Early on, it stole her words. She lost the ability to read, to follow conversations, to construct sentences, and then to form words.

Because she couldn’t follow conversations, she closed in on herself. She couldn’t anticipate events, so lived in a constant state of agitation. Anything out of place in the house was a cause of worry. Visits from friends and family were tiring and short.

Veva Crumrine, c. 1947

When she started having seizures, Dad made the very difficult decision to move her to full-time care in an institution. The adjustment was hard.

Alzheimer’s stole her ability to walk, to move herself in her wheel chair, to sit without the aid of supports and straps, and finally to sit at all. Her muscles grew rigid and unyielding. She lost the ability to make facial expressions.

Finally, she lost the ability to communicate with others, except in the most primitive ways. The last phrase she used regularly was “I love you,” and was always said to her caregivers.

John and Veva Tomlonson, Jacob, Carrie, Benjamin and Michael Drexler. York, PA 1994

Mom’s story was buried in the ravages of the disease.

But the one thing the disease couldn’t snatch away was God’s story. Because we don’t hold onto God with our own abilities and will, God holds on to us.

The last time I visited Mom was just over a year ago. She was bedridden and spent most of her day in a semi-conscious state. But Dad would play a CD of hymns for her during his visits. As I sang the hymns to her, she “sang” along in the only voice she had left – a tuneless hum. But she knew the messages in the hymns.

As we reached the last verse of one hymn, Mom looked into my eyes for the first time that visit and clutched my hand.

I said, “It’s true, Mom. It’s all true.”Visiting with Mom, Nov. 28, 2009

She smiled, as well as she could, and her eyes closed once more.

God kept His story alive in her heart. And because He did, I know we need not fear for anything that might unfold in our own stories.

All the way my Savior leads me –

O the fullness of his love!

Perfect rest to me is promised

in my Father’s house above:

When my spirit, clothed, immortal,

wings its flight to realms  of day,

This my song through endless ages:

Jesus led me all the way!

Oh, blessed assurance!