Harder Family

Harder Family

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Real Deal

Psalm 6:6-7 "I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief."

Job 16:16 "My face is red with weeping, and on my eyelids is deep darkness."

Emotions can be tricky. Some people are very in-tune with their emotions and can express them freely, while others struggle to reveal how they are feeling. The other night we picked I Still Believe for our family movie. We had all heard great things and the girls wanted to pick a more sentimental movie instead of our normal action or cartoon selection. I probably should have been more conscious of my children and the theme of the movie. We all really enjoyed the movie, but it was also difficult to watch. During the end of the movie, all you could hear were sniffles in the basement. After the final credits, Joella and Micaela just broke down sobbing. They hugged me and told me how hard it was to watch the character die from cancer and that they don't want their dad to die from his brain cancer. As I hugged them in their vulnerable state, I realized I was jealous of the freedom they felt to express their emotions so openly. 

I struggle to be transparent with my emotions. My natural tendency is to bottle it all in. Unfortunately, difficult circumstances in my past has lead to this self-preservation mode. Although I did spend many months as a young adult having to feel many bottled emotions, my natural tendency is to flee crying. As you read throughout the book of Psalm, you read of David's weeping and grief. Sometimes he sounds like he is in great distress, which I believe he was in and he was openly pouring his heart out to God. I have experienced moments of weeping that were so distressing, I thought I would rather have Jesus take me home than experience the pain. When you are done crying and you cannot see because your eyes are swollen, you cannot breathe because you nose is clogged, and your chest aches from the deep groaning, that really isn't something you want to experience again. 

I share all of this because I am trying to be more transparent in my life. I know that I cannot be the only one to struggle with bottling emotions or having to face difficult memories from the past or current battles now. Maybe you feel alone in your struggles. Know that you aren't alone. I know that in this turbulent time in our lives many more people are experiencing struggles in their life. This is the best time to be transparent and open with others. We are all struggling and it is good to know that we are not alone! The Bible says that we are to be like iron sharpening iron...we should be building each other up and helping others run this crazy race of life to the finish line.

At the beginning of the year, our church shared about a ministry called Celebrate Recovery. Each week people would share how this group helped them in different ways. I found it fascinating to learn that Celebrate Recovery isn't just for those recovering from alcohol or drugs, but it was for anyone who has a hurt, habit, or hangup that they need help and support. Each week, I felt like God wanted me to go. I fought God the entire time because I am someone who cares too much what other people think of me. I was worried people would find out that I was going and wonder what "issue" I have that would drive me to Celebrate Recovery. I finally surrendered and attended my first service with the group. It was so hard to walk through the doors, but I am so glad that I did. I have found some amazing friends in a short time who are real. It is comforting to know that there are people who are willing to pray for you when things are good, and when things are hard. God's timing is always best! If I had not attended when I did, I wouldn't have been able to get plugged into a Step Study and meet some amazing women who have encouraged and prayed for me throughout this ordeal. After attending even just a few weeks before all this COVID19 hit, I firmly believe that every believer should attend. We all have issues, whether big or small, that we can share and work on. Maybe you have thought about attending Celebrate Recovery, but maybe, like me, you have been intimidated. Let me tell you, there is so much freedom in just going! Just go and see what God has in store for you.

Please pray that I continue to trust God with the pain of the past, trust Him with Wayne's future, and that I can freely express my emotions instead of bottling them up. There are other things going on that I will share at a later time, so please just pray for me and our family. If you are struggling with anything, feel free to contact me and we can pray for you and walk along you too!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Intentional Living

Ephesians 5:15-17 "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."

Last weekend our family was blessed to participate in an e-retreat by Inheritance of Hope (IOH). We were supposed to be in Florida for the retreat, but the retreat was postponed until the fall. The amazing leadership at IOH decided to hold part of the retreat online so that families could benefit from the resources they offer. Not only that, the sad truth is that many families attending the retreat have loved ones with serious terminal cancer. It was gut-wrenching to hear some of the stories of others and hear their children share of their fears of losing their parent. There were two specific parts that spoke to my heart. Although I am not the parent facing a terminal illness, I am walking along side a spouse who is, and two speakers spoke to me the most. The first was a young woman who lost her mom to glioblastoma, the same brain cancer that Wayne has. She poured out her heart about how she had wanted to ask her mom to make her a video, but she didn't want to add to her mom's plate since she was so sick. Then she said it became too late to ask her once her mom couldn't speak anymore. She told us how her heart broke when her mom passed and how she told her dad that she regretted not asking her mom to make her a video. She then went on to tell us that her dad told her that her mom had made a video for her at the IOH retreat they had attended. She said that the video is such a precious gift to her from her mom. I hate showing emotions, which I know isn't healthy. It was all I could do to keep from bawling on our zoom meeting when I heard this girl's story.

The next speaker that spoke to me was actually the woman who started IOH. It was an old video of her speaking at another IOH retreat right after she had traveled to NY to hear from her doctors that after eight years of fighting, there was nothing else that could be done for her. Here this brave fighter stood encouraging other fighters about what gave her hope during this time. This amazing woman was INTENTIONAL with her time here on earth. She took her last few years to make sure that her children had letters from her, gifts tucked away for future special events, and so much more. Not only did she think about her family, but she thought about so many other families who would be in the same predicament as her family. She wanted to help them be intentional in their lives as well...to make special memories with their children and document their love for their children.

Sometimes we will hear the term intentional and think that is a great idea, but what does that mean? The definition of intentional is done on purpose, deliberate. I think that intentional means that we need to do something on purpose or deliberately make a plan to do something. I walked away from the retreat with a new purpose...to be even more intentional with my kids. If I were to die, what do I want my kids to remember? Again, I was not a participant with a terminal illness, and yet, aren't we all terminal? How many of us have heard of a loved one or a friend that passed in a tragic accident or freak illness? The daughter who shared about her mom made me stop and think. I decided the next day to take a few hours and write each of my kids a letter. Lord willing, I can pass on the wisdom and counsel I gave in those letters in person, but just in case, my kids now each have a little gift from me. 

Wayne was able to make a video for the kids with IOH. I know for many of the parents it was hard to make the video and think about what they wanted to say to their loved ones, but what a gift! If something happens to Wayne, the kids will each have a special memory of their father taking time to speak to them and tell them important things about his childhood, his life, stories from their childhood, and most importantly, about his relationship with God that has sustained him through all of life's difficulties.

We are choosing to be even more intentional than we already had been. When the kids ask us something, instead of being busy and shooing them away, we take time to listen and be involved. We not only have to be intentional with our time with them, but also in the words that we pour into them. We want to be intentional in modeling and teaching them about loving God with all of their heart. We want them to feel loved not only by us, but by a heavenly Father who loves them more than we ever could!

I also think being intentional extends to other areas of our lives. As believers, we are commanded to love others and share the good news of Jesus Christ with them. That takes being intentional...it doesn't just happen. Wayne and I have been talking about ways we can be more intentional in sharing about Jesus with others. It isn't always easy, but God asks us to do it and there is such joy in being obedient. 

What about you? Are you being intentional with your children? Are you being intentional with your walk with the Lord and sharing that joy with others? I think all of us can benefit from being more intentional every day of our lives. I know that I don't want to get to the end of my life and regret the time I wasted on invaluable things instead of making the most of my time here on earth.