Pain and Praise By Carmella Broome Written in 2008 I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail looking for my God. (Psalm 69:3)Message 1 of 28 , Jan 26View SourcePain and Praise
By Carmella Broome
Written in 2008
"I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail looking for my God." (Psalm 69:3)
"Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being praise his holy name" (Psalm 103:1).
Question to Consider: How can we be honest about the pain we feel - and honestly praise God at the same time?
It is nearly 11 pm on a Friday evening. My oldest nephew is sitting across the room playing a computer game. His younger two siblings are watching a Disney movie in the other room. The cartoon sounds and voices drift back to me. Earlier, the boys and I played a couple games of Uno. Their little sister is full of hugs and funny things to say. She calls me her BFF (Best Friend Forever). Later tonight, she'll snuggle up to me and fall asleep. Tomorrow, we'll take Mom's boat out on the lake and enjoy swimming, and some fun in the sun. The weather has been cooler for much of the week, actually comfortable. This is a very surprising and welcome reprieve from the scorching summer heat we usually experience here in SC.
These moments with my family, and appreciating the beauties of nature, are very meaningful to me. They remind me that every good and perfect gift is from above, as James says. I try to be fully present in each positive moment, and to express thankfulness to God for the blessings he's given me. At the same time, though, my heart is hurting and broken.
I'm not supposed to be here today. I'm supposed to be thousands of miles away in New Mexico right now. At least, that was the plan less than a week ago. I was going out there to spend time with the man I thought I would marry. The whole trip was planned. I was very excited about it. We both were, at one time not too long ago, when we bought the tickets.
Then, last Sunday night, my boyfriend said he didn't think the relationship should continue. He said he'd been praying a lot, and had the sense that God was saying "No" about us moving forward towards engagement or marriage. I was stunned and heartbroken. I hadn't gotten such a "message" from God. On the contrary, I felt strongly that this was the man I would marry. I'd never truly felt I could make a life with anyone I'd dated before, and was so excited to think I'd finally found "the one." I believed God had brought us together. I'd been praying about marriage and finding a life partner for a long time. At 31, it wasn't as if I hadn't been patient (or tried to be anyway).
So I'm spending my week off, with loving and supportive family. I'm so thankful for them, and for the things that give me a moment of joy or pleasant distraction. At the same time, I'm feeling tremendous hurt and disappointment. I'm praying a lot. Sometimes my prayers are fairly rational. At those times, I tell God I'm willing to trust Him, because He knows the big picture. I ask that God would lead us both, give us peace, and get us through this difficult time.
Truthfully, though, my private prayers aren't always "nice." I'm upset and angry, and get pretty emotional a lot right now. When my prayers come from that place, I tell God I'm tired of being jerked around, and tired of not being able to have what I want most, to make a life with someone. I let Him know, rather forcefully, that I don't understand why this happened, that I don't know how I'll get through the hurt I'm feeling, and that I wish He would do a little more to help me out. I'm honest about my anger, too. I think God is big enough to handle my honesty. He already knows how I'm feeling, anyway.
In the Psalms, David was pretty honest about his hurt and anger, too. The thing I've always found perplexing is that he often goes from asking God where He is and why He isn't helping, in one verse, to praising Him for His creation and faithfulness in the next verse. I've even joked that David must have had the type of mood disorder where a person can swing between extreme happiness and extreme despair. I think I understand it better now, though. What I'm realizing is that David could praise out of obedience and a knowledge of what is true, even if he wasn't feeling happy at the time. He could choose to be thankful - even though he was hurting. This is not an either/or. It is a both... and...
Just like King David, I can be sad and upset and even angry, and still be thankful and praise God for the blessings in my life. I can dislike my present life circumstances, and tell Him I don't want this. I can cry out to Him to help me get through this time of grief, even though I am angry, since I know I can't do this on my own. At the same time, I can appreciate the positives in my life. I can enjoy watching the squirrels playing in my Mom's yard, the laughter of my nephews and niece, and the sounds of water lapping against the sides of the boat when we drop anchor to swim or fish for a few minutes. I can laugh at my dog as she plays, and take a moment to focus on the warmth of the sun.
I know God understands exactly where I am emotionally, and the longings of my heart. He knows I can't understand this, in my humanness. I can praise Him for these attributes, and pray that He will keep His promises to heal my heart and continue to bring good things into my life. Like David, I can cry out to Him, whether it is a sob or a shout for joy. The same is true for you.
Lord, thank You that we can come to You honestly and share our negative feelings, as well as the positive ones. Thank You for giving us examples, in Your Word, of how this is possible. Please help us to both be honest about our pain, and to praise You for Your blessings and promises.
Tiny Tin 04-07-2013 By Carmella Broome Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous--how well I know it. Psalm 139: 14 NLT MyMessage 1 of 28 , Apr 6View SourceTiny Tin 04-07-2013
By Carmella Broome
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous--how well I know it. Psalm 139: 14 NLT
My Dad has always been a resourceful, creative guy. He can fix things, build things, restore things, construct things. Wood, metal, mechanical, whatever. He's always got some kind of inventive project going, and he's "handy" with household repairs, too. He doesn't mind a challenge. He puts his brain, skills, and tools to good use, and will keep at something until he figures out how to get it to work the way its supposed to.
I've always respected Dad's talents. I've taken them for granted plenty of times too, I'm sure. He's recently taken his skills to a whole new level, though. None of us saw this one coming. We couldn't have guessed it in a million years and this is a perfect example of why truth really can be stranger than fiction. Most recently, Dad has started constructing tin people out of cans. You know, like our favorite metal friend from The Wizzard of Oz. He and my Grandma saw one at an antique store, a few months ago. Grandma wanted it, but it wasn't for ssale. After inspecting it, Dad decided he could probably make her one - and he did!
I don't want to give away his "secret formula" for construction. Suffice it to say, he used cans of various sizes (soup, coffee, sardines, green beans, etc), silver paint, some kind of little pins and rods to hold things together, and a few other small pieces to make the hat, face, and "accessories." From what I've heard, his final product was much better quality than the original one that gave him the idea, too. It took a little trial and error, and a lot of time out in his shop, but he had it finished in time to give it to Grandma for Christmas. Dad named his creation Tiny tin, and typed up a letter of introduction and a birth certificate to go along with him.
We saved him for last when opening gifts, because it was the most unique present anyone would be getting. We all wanted to see Grandma's surprise when she unwrapped her new tin friend. She had no idea Dad had been working on him. Her surprise and pleasure were more than obvious. Our friend Tiny Tin is now displayed in a place of honor in Grandma's home, where anyone who comes by (and there are a lot of people in and out of her house, all the time) can meet and admire him.
Dad just made another tin person for my Mom. This one is a nurse like she is, and has steel wool hair and other touches, to indicate its feminine and that it's a nurse. I'm not sure what kind he'll do next. People have started requesting them, asking if they can place orders for special tin people for themselves or loved ones. Dad doesn't agree to do very many, though making tin people could fill all his time, now that he's retired. He could make extra money that way, too, but Dad says he wants to make them because he enjoys it, not for money or even because someone really REALLY just has to have one. He wants to make them for people he knows, so that each one can be personal. He wants to be able to take whatever time he needs to create each one, to be able to focus on and enjoy the process of assembling each one, and to give each one undivided attention. He says challenges will come up each time and that, sometimes, it takes a while to get them right. He talks about the process kind of like an artist talks about a painting. It can't be forced or rushed, and the artist puts a lot of himself into his work. It's a very personal investment.
Dad makes sure each tin person he puts together has a heart inside, and a birth certificate. No two will ever be alike. They're custom-made by hand, one piece at a time. That's what makes them so special. I don't know how the process goes, but Dad knows each of his tin people. He knows what is involved in making each one, from idea to finished product, the types of cans he used, and how it is put together. There may be a basic prototype, but each one has unique touches, too.
Dad knows, from the beginning, what each tin person is ultimately going to become. The creator is the one who knows the creation best, because he's the one who put the time and effort into making it. No one else will understand it that well. No one else will have the unique perspective and insight Dad has into each tin person.
And so it is with God. He is our Creator. He knows each of us even better than Dad knows his tin people. He personally designed and formed us. He took parts that seemed so random and made something unique out of them. He put us together. He breathed life into us and gave us hearts, minds, and souls. He also gave each of us undivided attention when putting us together, and took joy in the process. He still delights in us. He knew what we would become. Each of us are different and "handcrafted." No assembly line or mass production. We are each brought into being on purpose. We are each created with a plan in mind. We are known intimately, and loved and cared for as only the Creator can care for His creation.
As impressed as I am with Tiny Tin, and as cool as I think he is, I'm thankful that the story of his coming into being reminds me of the time, attention to detail, and tenderness God put into my creation. It makes me feel so special and cared about. I hope it does the same for you.
Family Ties By Carmella Broome When we cry, Abba! Father! it is that very Spirit, bearing witness with our spirit, that we are children of God - and ifMessage 1 of 28 , Apr 22View SourceFamily Ties
By Carmella Broome
When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is that very Spirit, bearing witness with our spirit, that we are children of God - and if children - then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. (Rom 8:16-17)
As a marriage and family therapist, I spend a lot of time talking with people about relationships. One of the things that comes up in my office, fairly often, is what happens when a parent was absent. I hear about mothers or fathers who left, passed away, or weren't that involved in their children's lives, for any number of reasons. Whatever the situation, once these children reach their teen or young adult years, there is often still an empty space, full of hurt and questions. There is a need for information and understanding. There are internal struggles about what to do with lingering feelings of loss, confusion, frustration, and hurt.
The same thing often happens in cases involving children who were adopted. Sooner or later, they become curious about their biological parents. This usually isn't because their adoptive parents were awful parents. Its just that they still don't feel complete. They want to know about the people who created them, the people they're genetically linked to. They want to know about family history, who they look or act like, and what sorts of people their biological relatives are.
I think this curiosity, and longing to connect with what we came from, is a natural need built in to all of us. We are all made to want to know (or at least know about) the people who gave us life in the first place. So much of our identity comes from understanding those people. If we have good relationships with them, we want to maintain those relationships and the sense of belonging they give us. If we don't, we struggle with what to do about that void in our lives.
I don't think that everyone should try and find and bond with biological parents. That's not always possible or wise. The empty space or missing piece has to be acknowledged and cared for in some way, though. This may just mean finding out as many answers as possible, to factual questions. It may mean grieving the relationships that will never be, and exploring ways to find meaning in the experience. At times, it does mean literally seeking out the parent or parents. Acknowledging the reality of what is, and making conscious choices about what to do with this need, are so important. Otherwise, that need can drive people into a lot of wrong choices, in an effort to fill those empty places. Running from these feelings doesn't make them go away.
I think we are also this way about God. This need is even more important than the need to reconnect with earthly biological parents. It is natural for us to want to know the One who made us and set our lives in motion. I think this is why we struggle with issues of meaning and spiritual identity. There is a void, an emptiness, a missing puzzle piece in our hearts, because of that part in us that is made in God's image. We have to give attention to that part of ourselves. Again, we can try and satisfy that longing with all kinds of other things, but those efforts will fall short and still leave us restlessly wanting something" more," something "else."
The only way we're going to have that need truly met is through a relationship with the One who made us with that need in the first place, our Creator and Heavenly Father. We can't feel complete without that connection. The most important parts of our identity come from our relationship with God, no matter what else has happened with our earthly families. God is our loving and trustworthy Father. He is our Perfect Parent. He knows what we need, and how to give us good things (Matt 7, James 1). He won't leave, lie to us, or stop loving us. No earthly relationship can guarantee us those things.
That relationship with God can be the basis for healing the hurts that come about when other humans fail us. Our own flesh and blood might abandon us, let us down, abuse our love and trust, and not even acknowledge us. God gives us the love and acceptance we so desperately need, as wounded children. If we give those hurts to Him, find our identity in Him, and seek to grow in closeness with Him, He will help us grieve and heal from the losses of earthly relationships. He will take care of us and meet our deepest needs for unconditional love, guidance, and belonging.
Whatever else you're seeking, don't forget that your deepest heart needs are for the One who knit you together in your mother's body in the first place (Psalm 139). You are here because He wanted you to be, and because He has a unique plan and purpose for your life. You are His child, first and foremost. Reach out to God. He will help you understand who you really are, and meet your needs for family, love, and belonging.
Churches By Carmella Broome Matthew 18:20 NASB. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst Psalm 34:3 O magnify theMessage 1 of 28 , May 6View SourceChurches
By Carmella Broome
Matthew 18:20 NASB. "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst"
Psalm 34:3 "O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together!"
Colossians 3:16. "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."
We have churches everywhere here in South Carolina. I think it's probably a one-to-one ratio, as far as places to eat and places to worship. Big churches, small churches, churches of every denomination imaginable, and churches that claim to not be associated with any denomination, churches that are "traditional" with organs and hymnals, and churches that are "contemporary" with praise bands and lyrics up on a screen. We have churches that meet in buildings with steeples, that meet in school gymnasiums or houses, and that hold services on Saturday nights as well as on Sunday mornings. We have churches that offer services in several languages, including sign language, and services that are broadcast on TV. We have churches that focus on outreach to various populations, through programs like Celebrate Recovery, Grief Share, and Divorce Care.
The funny thing is, I talk to people, on an almost daily basis, who are having trouble finding a church they feel "comfortable" attending. That word means a lot of different things, but the bottom line is, lots of people are searching for a church to belong to and not finding one. They say they want to be part of a church community, to get involved, form relationships, worship, and grow spiritually. They shop around and check places out, but don't settle in anywhere, for one reason or another. Many people have given up, and just don't go at all anymore.
Some have had very negative experiences that have left them suspicious and very skeptical about churches and "church people." This is a very serious problem when it happens, but reasons for not finding the "right" church aren't that drastic for most folks. So why is finding, and staying involved in, a church so often problematic? I don't wonder in a judgmental way, because I've been through the same thing, myself. I wonder out of true ccuriosity and concern. Is the problem with churches, or with the people who are (or are not) getting involved? I'm not sure. All I can come up with is some "maybes."
Maybe churches aren't doing such a good job of being welcoming or relevant. Maybe we get too into church jargon and routines sometimes, so that visitors feel like "outsiders" who don't know what to do or how to act. Maybe we seem too judgmental and focused on appearances at times. It seems that some churches are more sensitive to these issues than others, just from what I observe. Maybe we're not meeting both practical and spiritual needs as well as we could be. Maybe each church has strengths in one area, but isn't as strong in others, such as having great ministries for teens but not younger children, for example. Maybe people have unreasonable expectations of what churches can be and do.
Maybe the problem is our consumer culture mentality. Maybe too many options makes us way too particular. We want everything to be a "perfect" fit. Of course, its important that churches be Biblically/doctrinally sound, but we don't have to "like" every single person or agree with every single detail of how things are done to be part of a church. In many countries, believers face jail, torture, and various types of persecution to meet together and worship. They don't have a church on every corner so that they can pick and choose, and come and go openly, the way we do here. They don't have all the resources and materials we have for music and study. Believers in such locations risk their lives to go to church and truly value the Bibles and study materials they have.
Maybe that reminder sounds like telling a child they should love vegetables, because kids in other countries are starving. I mention it simply to try and bring some perspective. The bottom line is, God tells us it is good for us to meet together, to study and praise and pray as a unified group. He made us with that need for relationships with Him and with other people. He wants us to be attached to a group of people who can help us, challenge us, and support us. Like all families, church families aren't perfect. Nothing this side of Heaven is going to be perfect.
If you are searching for a new church home (whatever the reason), I pray that God would show you where He wants you to be, and the church family He wants you to be a part of. He knows your heart. If you are sincerely seeking Him in this, as in all areas of your life, He will lead you and help you to know where He wants you and what He wants you to do. Rely on Him, not your own immediate judgment of a particular church, when seeking clarity about this important matter.
If you have found a church home where you are meaningfully connected with other believers, being nurtured and challenged spiritually, and feel able to use the gifts and talents God has given you, then I'm so glad. Take a moment to thank God for leading you to where you are, and for your church or small group. Thank Him for how you've grown, as part of this church, and pray that your church would continue to be what God wants it to be. Pray for the ministries of other churches, and for those who are searching for a church to belong to.
I think this "church thing" is worth a lot of thought and prayer. I believe God is challenging us to take this matter more seriously. I hope and pray that we can all find, and remain part of, the church or spiritual community that is "right" for us.
God and Frankenstein By Carmella Broome Question To Consider: When have you made selfish or impulsive decisions that you later came to regret?Message 1 of 28 , May 18View SourceGod and Frankenstein
By Carmella Broome
Question To Consider: When have you made selfish or impulsive decisions that you later came to regret? What happened when you tried to "fix" things on your own? How does it feel to know God offers you love and forgiveness for even your worst mistakes?
"My limbs now tremble, and my eyes swim, with the remembrance; but then a resistless, and almost frantic, impulse urged me forward; I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit." (Frankenstein, Chapter 4)
"I had begun life with benevolent intentions, and thirsted for the moment when I should put them in practice, and make myself useful to my fellow-beings. Now all was blasted: instead of that serenity of conscience, which allowed me to look back upon the past with self-satisfaction, and from thence to gather promise of new hopes, I was seized by remorse and the sense of guilt, which hurried me away to a hell of intense tortures, such as no language can describe." (Frankenstein, Chapter 9)
"Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night." (Psalm 51:1-3, NLT)
"I'm in deep trouble, Lord! Rush to my aid, for only you can help and save me." Psalm 70:5 (LB)
I recently ran across these excerpts from Mary Shelley's classic novel Frankenstein, written nearly 200 years ago. I haven't read the entire book since high school. Its a disturbing and sad tale about the consequences of one man's decision to cross a boundary that should have never been crossed. By the time he began to understand the disastrous chain of events he'd set in motion, it was too late. Feelings of guilt and regret couldn't change the outcome. He tried to "fix" the problem, but couldn't.
What struck me about these passages from Frankenstein was how similar they are to many passages in the book of Psalms. Themes of regret over impulsive choices, despair, and fear are prominent in both books. Both writers eloquently captured these emotions.
Unlike Dr. Frankenstein, King David was a real person. He was blessed with power, and he, too, made impulsive choices because of that power. He lusted after someone else's wife, acted on his feelings and urges, and got her pregnant. He crossed a boundary he never should have crossed, and involved himself in something he didn't have any business being a part of. He got so caught up in having what he wanted, that he didn't think about how his choices would impact the rest of his life, or the lives of others. Then, like Dr. F, he had to try and figure out what to do. He had the woman's husband killed so he could marry her. It reads like a novel, but this story was all too true for King David.
Most of us don't have someone else's husband killed or create monsters, but we engage in actions that are against what God says. We get caught up in temptation, power, selfish wants, and playing God. Like King David and Dr. Frankenstein, we often choose additional actions that only make things worse, to try and cover up or "fix" our mistakes. We deny, blame, minimize, and engage in all sorts of other reactive behaviors. Owning up to what we've done would probably be easier in the long run, but we are afraid and ashamed. Ultimately, all we manage to do is delay the inevitable. We can't save ourselves or "fix" things, no matter how hard we try. This has been the reality of humanity, since Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Thankfully, mistakes can lead to wisdom. Our sins and wrong behaviors can help us realize how much we truly need God. He can use these experiences to bring us back to Him. God knew we would abuse the freedoms He gave us. He knew we would get caught up in momentary feelings and urges, become too fascinated with our own "discoveries," use the minds and hands he'd given us to do things that He never wanted us to use them for. Instead of abandoning us to suffer the consequences of our own actions alone, God loved us and had compassion on us. He sent and sacrificed His own Son, Jesus, to save us from our own wrong choices, selfishness, and the mistakes we make impulsively or deliberately.
We mess things up in our humanness, but God offers forgiveness, healing, and salvation. We can call on God to help us when we mess up. There may still be consequences, but there is also grace, love, and mercy. He doesn't give up on us, and is ready to forgive and help us. We may not feel we deserve His kindness, but God offers it anyway.
Dr. Frankenstein didn't know what to do with his creation, but God knew what we needed and provided for our need. Even though we break His heart with our choices, He lovingly welcomes us back into a relationship with Him, when we receive this gift. When we sin, He forgives us and asks us to turn away from our wrongdoing and follow Him.
Thank You, Lord, for loving us so much and providing us with a Savior. Thank You for forgiving us and for Your patience, grace, mercy, and compassion. Help us to learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others (true or fictional). Teach us to depend on You, to live our lives the way You want us to. We can't do it without You, and thank You for strength and wisdom when we are weak.