Grieving, Gardens & Grandma//Lindsey//CNU

Ever since I can remember my family has planted a garden. Not just your small, two row garden in a planter of sorts…I’m talking “semi large, row after row of vegetable plants” type of garden. In the summer we usually grow tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, squash and this year we had sunflowers, which were so pretty. In the fall we’ve been known to grow pumpkins. My parents and I look forward to this time every year because of the anticipation of what’s to come, yummy tasting vegetables of course. My favorite part of having grown up with a garden is the “first pick.” Watching the seeds grow and turn into a plant is great but actually reaping the rewards from the hard work put into a garden is truly satisfying.

There’s one particular person that I think helped to instill this appreciation in my life and that is my grandma, who I call ‘Nanny.’ Nanny absolutely loved being outside. People who drove by her house knew to always look in the yard because she was either siting on the swing, helping mow the grass, or simply picking up sticks and pinecones. Similarly, she loved her garden and cherished the time spent tending to it. While she helped to give me an appreciation for nature and God’s creation, she also helped to paint a beautiful picture about what living a life for Christ meant. She taught me so much over the years and until recently, I thought of and reflected on this garden analogy. In a way, Nanny’s life, and ours too are like gardens. We are each individually thought of, created and delicately planted. We are made for a specific purpose and spend our lives living out that purposeful plan just as the seed is planted and grown to fulfill its job.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully make’ your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139: 13-14

Just like the seed is protected in the ground, we are too comforted and protected in the womb. Once we are born and begin to grow older, we experience more of the world, just as the young plant experiences the elements of earth. Throughout our journey on earth we have the opportunity to give praise and glory to our creator just as the seed can show off itself because of the work and care of the gardener. I tell you all of this because current season of life and how recent event have given me a new love and respect for our garden that we call life.

On September 15, my life as I knew it changed. I don’t mean to sound incredibly dramatic but at the time I truly felt as if it had. My family and I wdd62d371cd589e766b74bafd0356fd72ere forced to deal with the sudden death of Nanny and we were no way near prepared. My sweet, vibrant and independent Nanny became ill over a matter of days and would not recover, as the mysterious infection would take over her entire body. We were shocked and heartbroken. It’s been about a month and we are still shocked and heartbroken.

Once again, I am reminded of how our life is like a garden. The garden’s prime is harvest when the plants that are planted are ready to be picked and eaten. Nanny’s prime was up until the very end when she could no longer rely on her earthly body. She had given her life to the Lord at a young age and spent her time as a mom and grandma while tending to her own spiritual garden. As time goes on and we get older our body fades, just like after all of the vegetables in a garden have been picked, the plant itself begins to die and there is no use for the garden. The soil and nutrients are returned back to the ground where it began. In a way, our earthly body is the same way. After our time on Earth is over we will one day exchange this earthly body for a spiritual body. I am reminded of a verse in 1 Corinthians where we understand how as image bearers of God, we have been given the opportunity to exchange our broken body for a spiritual body.

“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” 1 Corinthians 15: 42-44

“And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.” 1 Corinthians 15:49

It’s been a difficult to understand the events that have taken place over the past month. Dealing with the loss of someone so close to me has been extremely painful and at times unbearable. It’s taken a while for me to truly process all of it because it happened so suddenly. At times, I feel extremely sad and lonely, knowing that I am going through this without my parents and family in close proximity to me and when I go home I will not be able to see her. But, there is good news, my family and I were comforted during that long week in September and we have been comforted ever since. Yes, we all feel as though a huge piece of our family is missing. Adjusting to our new normal has been a difficult transition. In the midst of trial, I am reminded of this verse in Romans because it has truly helped me to rest in knowing that God’s plan is far greater than what I could ever imagine and I have to trust that he does all things for GOOD.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

God is constant and has been by my side and my family’s side the entire time. There is no timeline for grief or suffering. Some suffer their entire life. Some suffer temporarily. I do not have to look at the finish line to know when my grieving will end. I do know that God will be by my side the entire time as I run this marathon of my adjusting to my new normal. That is so comforting. Understanding that this life on Earth is temporary can be a shocking thing. But, understanding what our hope and faith is rooted in is even better. Yes, I miss Nanny every day but I am becoming more aware that she is happier, without pain and rejoicing with Jesus in heaven. My prayer is that you find peace and comfort with any grief or suffering you might be going through and that your rest in knowing of the great that is to come in our eternal reward.

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Hey y’all! My name is Lindsey Tate and I am a senior at Christopher Newport University! I’m a Psychology Major with a double Minor in Leadership Studies and Childhood Studies! I’ll be sticking around CNU for another year post undergrad to get my Master’s in the Art of Teaching, a graduate program offered through CNU. It’s been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to be an elementary school teacher and CNU is helping make that a reality. I’m growing a lot this semester as I am currently in a season of grief after losing my grandma rather suddenly. I am learning my need for Jesus daily and continue to draw near to him through prayer. In my spare time I enjoy playing piano, scrolling through Pinterest and watching and re-watching episodes of Friends.

NO IFS, ANDS, or BUTS//Victoria//CNU

Do you use “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts” when praying? I do. I may not directly say it, but the underlying meaning is there.

If you can, please grant me ____”

If you could give me ___”

If you can help me overcome  ___”

Mark 9:14-29 is the story of how Jesus miraculously heals a boy that’s been possessed his entire life by an evil spirit. The spirit has thrown him into fire and water in attempts to destroy the boy’s body. The disciples were unable to heal him, so the father of the boy turned to Jesus, and asked:

  1. 22-23 “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us”

Jesus’ response was “ ‘If you can’. Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Jesus basically responded, as if to remind this boy’s father, “there is no if about my power or if concerning my willingness”. “If” implies doubt; which means lacking faith or not believing.

It’s not a question of God’s ability but a question of our belief.

Instead of ‘if you (God) can do anything’ it should be ‘everything is possible if you (we) believe’.

How can I have such small faith, when I know that He has the perfect track record?

Time and time again, we forget how faithful God has been and how attuned He is to our hearts. During trials, valleys, mountains, joys, pains, sorrows… just life, why do we forget?

We forget because we get distracted by minor things.

Oh but how quickly we can refocus, with a simple humble prayer.

  1. 24 “…Help me overcome my unbelief!”

The boy’s father spoke this prayer, asking Jesus to help him to have a stronger faith. Instantly, Jesus spoke, and the evil spirit shrieked and fled his presence.

God is able. He both can and will. How does this change our prayers? Or the way we view God?

Ephesians 3:20-21

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that works in us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,

forever and ever! Amen.

Read that again.

“…immeasurably more…” : Not just more, because that’s measurable. So much more that it’s off the charts! There’s no measurement. (my little brain doesn’t understand this, and that’s okay)

“…more than we ask or imagine…” : What He does will exceed what we imagine or hope. He will continually provide in more creative ways than we can imagine; after all, He is The Creator.

God will always be able. He will do immeasurably more than we could hope for, or what our brain is capable of understanding. He will exceed our imagination, and will likely answer prayers differently than we ask them.

God’s able.

No ‘ifs’, ‘ands’, or ‘buts’.

I still believe

You’re the same yesterday, today, and forever

I still believe

I still believe your blood is still sufficient for me

-Kim Walker-Smith, Still Believe

{great song, look it up}

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Hello! I hope this blog finds you doing well and enjoying the beginnings of Fall! My name is Victoria Taylor. I’m a senior at Christopher Newport University, and I plan to graduate in the spring. I patiently anticipate May, as I will graduate, celebrate my 22nd birthday, and become a Mrs. all in just 1 week! God has given me a passion for medicine and healthcare, so I’m currently applying to Occupational Therapy schools while planning our wedding. I am experiencing many new joys right now, but I am also praying and watching my trust in the Lord grow. Thank you for reading this! I hope it brings as much peace to you as it does me.

 

Still Learning To Trust Him//Cynthia Thomeer

A year ago this week, I had an incredible experience that filled me with terror and perfect peace at the same time. God’s presence throughout and His perfect love cast out the fear that seemed to be unavoidable. When I look back at it now, I’m filled with awe and gratitude for how He communed with me through His Word and His people. I had just finished a year of treatments for breast cancer that included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Then, I was told that the breast cancer had spread to my brain. As I prepared to begin treatments for this new diagnosis, I had the privilege to share during the women’s time at the Tidewater RVA Fall Retreat. It was such a gift! Besides the tremendous blessing of spending a little bit of time with these wonderful women, the week I was able to spend meditating, reminiscing and communing with God was the most blessed week of my life. Amidst the chaos in my mind and emotions, He came in and calmed me in the deepest way. I knew that I should be terrified; I could see the fear on the faces of my loved ones and hear it in their voices. We looked at the statistics for my diagnosis and it was not good. That I am here right now and doing so well is not what we expected. As I thought about what to share with you here, I was drawn back to something that God has been teaching me for many years: to trust Him. It sounds so simple and, really, it is. But I have found that when everything is going well, I don’t tend to trust Him. I find ways to take care of everything, either by myself or, more frequently, with the help of others; and, honestly, most of the time, it works out pretty well. After all, if it didn’t work out so well, we wouldn’t keep trying to do it all on our own. God used my experience last year to show me that I am not able to take care of any of it, no matter how big or small. This thing was just too big and too out of my control. The “big” thing was the radiosurgery I had on my brain, but the sweetest thing was the week He gave me with Him. God reminded me of  His faithful and steadfast love and that He would never leave nor forsake me. He has used a passage in Jeremiah to remind me that He is the only one who is worthy of our trust. I want to share that passage with you and a little bit of what it meant to me specifically during this time a year ago.

Here is an excerpt from my Caring Bridge post right after my first cyber knife treatment (if you’re not familiar with radiosurgery, google it — it’s pretty cool!):

My first radiosurgery treatment is behind me now and I am so glad! It turned out to be fairly easy, so I trust that my treatments on Monday & Tuesday will be, as well. I laid on a skinny, but comfy table for about 1 1/2 hours with a plastic mesh mask over my face that was attached to the table. As soon as it was buckled down, I felt pressure on my head and that remained throughout the time; just a little reminder that, “No, Cynthia, you can’t sit up or even move your head, so don’t even think about it.” With my claustrophobia this should’ve been terrifying, but God kept me calm and it was actually a fairly pleasant experience. . . On Tuesday of this week, I was feeling scared all day; just thinking about the procedure and all that could go wrong (I don’t even know all that could go wrong, but my mind is pretty good at making stuff up). I was focusing on the humans who would be doing the treatment . . .

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 The next day, God began to remind me that He was going to be the one in charge of all of it, not the humans, they are His instruments, not the other way around. What a difference that made! Suddenly, I began to feel a little excited about getting it done (I also tend to swing wildly from one extreme to the other, at times), so by the time I went in today, I was feeling pretty fine about it all . . . A passage that the Lord has used for me in the past came to me today and I want to share it with you. Maybe it will be something that God will use for you in your current circumstances or to prepare you for what’s to come. Jeremiah was a prophet to Judah and was told by God that he needed to give them a warning they wouldn’t heed, they would reject him (Jeremiah and God), but that God would deliver him; not an entirely pleasant thing for Jeremiah to hear, nor task to be given, but Jeremiah obeyed. In this passage, God reminds him and us in whom we can place our trust:

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

At first glance, it can hit you wrong; we all have people in our lives who we trust and we don’t like to think that there’s even a possibility that they could let us down. But this truth is that we all have that in us, the inability to be trustworthy at times, because we’re human and the sin nature is still in us telling us that we are self-reliant and don’t need God. So, the strong word of “curse” here is definitely appropriate in the sense that no person is worthy of our full trust; only God is and, truly, blessed is the one who puts his trust in the only One who is worthy and able to carry out the promises He has made. This is the truth that I carried with me today into that room with the skinny table and apparatus that shot radiation beams into my head that were so strong that the humans administering them had to stand on the other side of a very thick door. And on that, I could not let myself dwell; my focus was, and is, on my Father who loves me unconditionally and so much that nothing can separate me from that love, even me. I hope that you are able to hear and apply this truth to whatever is going on in your life right now, whether it be something difficult or joyful. Often, the joyful things do a bigger job of drawing us into our own self reliance, so I pray that we will all be aware of where and in Whom we are placing our trust. Only He is worthy!

I’m thrilled to report that God used these treatments to knock out the three tumors! I have had three clear brain scans in the past year. I’ll have a brain scan every three months, most likely, from now on. I am so thankful that God is still reminding me that I can trust Him, no matter what comes.

 

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I am a big supporter of CRU, especially Tidewater RVA CRU! I love seeing God’s love displayed through college students as they are faced with huge challenges and I want to offer encouragement. My husband, Paul, and I live in Yorktown; we have 4 grown children, a son-in-law and 2 grandchildren. I love listening to podcasts while I’m doing all kinds of tasks at home, everything from sermons to true crime stories. I have found that there are not enough hours in the day for me to hear all of the ones I am interested in and that is very sad.