The Gift of Babba

Today, my dear friend Bettie has given me the honor and privilege of sharing an old, now freshly updated, post of hers about her precious Ukrainian friend. A woman who knew so much trauma and heartache, but through whom God revealed His healing joy, as He made His attentive heart of love and compassion visible and palpable in Bettie’s and Patricia’s midst. Now, Bettie finds her heart deeply grieving for her dear friend’s nation and their people, as the Spirit of God is moving her to continually lift them up in prayer. May this bless you all, as you seek to cover the Ukrainian people in love and prayer also.

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Her name was Patricia, and with the sweetest Ukranian accent, she answered my simple question about her cute little dog. The day was cold with a hint of the Christmas Season upon us, so I wished her a Merry Christmas then.

It was her honest and sad answer that stopped me in my tracks as I walked my new neighborhood 15 years ago.

“Oh, no, it won’t be a Merry Christmas for me this year. My husband just died a few months ago, and there will be no celebrating for me.”

My heart went out to this sweet woman, who openly shared her heart with me, and I knew that God was calling me to listen. I had no idea how that simple act of listening would bring such deep heart blessings to me. Patricia would become a Second-Mom to me, and a “Babba” (Ukranian Grandma) to all of my kids, and I would become a listening ear that she so desperately needed. But on that cold wintery day, neither one of us knew the path that God had chosen for us.

She lived through unimaginable horrors that I could never begin to comprehend. Her Mother had died when she was only 3 years old, and little Patricia almost died herself over the trauma that was inflicted at losing her Mother to an awful cancer. But God intervened, and Patricia got up and walked after a year in bed when a traveling “Priest” prayed over her.

The Russians invaded their homeland a few years later and brought the horrors of Communism to a village of farmers. Because her father could speak several languages, the family found favor, and her father became a trusted liaison between the village and the Russians.

A few years later, the Nazis invaded and marched the entire village from Ukraine into Germany. When Patricia’s father refused to remove a picture of Jesus from their home, he almost lost his life. But once again, God intervened and gave their family safety in a land of so many horrors.

When Patricia married, she didn’t realize that her husband had fought in the underground resistance and would suffer from outbursts of violent PTSD for the rest of his life, long before Counselors were able to offer the help that is so readily available today. Life was always hard for my dear friend. And yet, she loved to laugh and keep everyone happy with her pranks. She shared a love of nature’s beauty with me and with anyone who would pause to see.

It was only as God asked me to wait with her, and to listen to her stories, that she began to unburden her heart about the deep trials in her life. And in that waiting, God began to open my heart to the beauty of listening.

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We are a people who would rather rush to the meetings, read all the books, and find our self-help issues fixed by 10am tomorrow, please. But God made us for fellowship. For relationship. For healing.

Ever since we left that first Garden, we have been a people in need of healing.

Some days as I walk this Chronic Illness path, I complain about the need for healing that began 5 years ago with my first diagnosis.

But my need for healing began at birth.

And my God is the One who waits and listens in that healing process.

It was 10 years ago that my own Mother died, and Patricia began to call me her 2nd Momma, a phrase that I gladly accepted. As her diabetes intensified, I drove her to places when she had to stop driving. I didn’t realize that God was healing my own fear of driving, as I listened to Patricia’s heartaches and watched God heal her broken heart.

In the waiting, in the listening to hard stories of brokenness, God brought my dear Sweet 2nd Momma into the place of seeing that it had been Jesus who had carried her all along.

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

Her journey of brokenness ended on Sunday, as her Dear Jesus carried her into Heaven. My heart was broken with the grief that I felt at telling her good-bye. But as I wept, a vision flowed into my heart. The halls of Heaven were ringing with laughter. The God who had carried Patricia all through her life was laughing with the Angels over the sheer joy of a heart that He had created to laugh in the midst of heartache.

Only God could bring such beauty in the waiting.

As my own path is filled with what looks like endless waiting: all of the medications have been resisted by my body. The new Rheumatologist has said that I cannot take any of the standard treatments now while my body continues to manifest multiple side effects. The daily dose of Prednisone is not healthy for me either, and so I must begin the long process of decreasing that, all while hoping that my body will not fall into endless flares. The call to rest and to wait has been spoken into my life once again.

But that call has taken on a different hue now. How can I go back to the old way of complaining about waiting?

It has become a Gift.

The Gift to wait with someone I love.

Jesus is that someone. How can I refuse?

Lord, I wait for you;
    you will answer, Lord my God. Psalm 38:15 NIV

Thank you to Ruth Campos, over at Planted by Living Waters, for writing to me and pointing me in the direction of the beautiful teaching of Dallas Holm called God’s Rests and God’s Tests. You can find the DVD by clicking here. Dallas sang this precious song at the end of the teaching.

I would love to pray with you, my dear friends. Even though I have never met so many of you, I feel such a beautiful connection as we sit together and listen to Jesus, even over these digital airwaves.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for the gift of waiting and listening that You showered upon my dear 2nd Momma, Patricia, as she sat with You during these latter years of her life. Thank You that You allowed me to be an eye-witness of Your healing love pouring over those broken places in her life. Thank You for the beautiful love that she showered upon me and my family.  Jesus, will You carry us now, those of us who are looking upon our own seasons of waiting with confusion and brokenness. We are baffled with the pain that makes no sense to our limited vision. We want to learn to press into You and wait for Your beauty to shine forth. Help us to hold onto You, to let You press us deeper into Your healing love. You are the Lord we praise.

In Your sweet name, we pray,

Amen.

I am linking with:

#TellHisStory

Bettie Gilbert tells us of her blogging journey at bettiegsraseasons.com:

as I have obeyed His urging in my heart to begin this blog, I have seen His hand upholding me in ways I could not have imagined.  These days through Chronic Illness: first with Rheumatoid Arthritis, then Fibromyalgia, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Occipital Neuralgia, and Osteoporosis, have been a struggle, to say the least.  But the kindness of fellow bloggers, and the community of believers that I’ve found here has been such an encouragement to my heart. 

Do you know what I’ve discovered about the words that God has given me here? Well, they’ve been for my own understanding and help just as much as for the sharing. But isn’t that just like Jesus? He uses the comfort that He brings our way to overflow and comfort those around us.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV 

Part 3: Chapter 4 – Day 7: A Lamp for our Feet

Welcome to Day 7 of Part 3‘s Chapter 4 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is bringing forward our final free will offering for Chapter 4: The Golden Lampstand- The Lamb of God. She is sharing Chapter 1 of her and her husband Barry’s book “Our Story: A Ministry of Abiding” that she is currently publishing monthly on her blog – bettiegsraseasons.com Each chapter records their journey of transformation, as Christ continually compels them to surrender their thoughts and plans for His.

I so encourage you to follow along and be lovingly comforted and lifted up in the LORD, as you too choose to lay down your thoughts and plans for Christ’s. Come, let’s walk in His holy Way for us and stand in awe of where His lamp leads our feet to tread. He shall bring His purposes to pass for His glory and renown. Praise Him!

You can also listen to Barry and Bettie read this free will offering aloud in the audio version provided below.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Psalm 119:105 (ESV)

We met at church, where I was viewed as the “Churchy-Girl” type. He was new to this Christian living, and his enthusiasm and love for Jesus swept me off my feet long before I fell in love with his heart.

I had already been teaching young children, ever since my close friend’s mom asked me to help her with the kindergarten age Sunday-School class. When she asked me to start telling the Bible stories, I was forever captivated by the wonder that is in a child’s heart. And when this new-to-Christianity-young-man volunteered to help tell those same children the Bible stories, I was even more attracted to him. How could someone who was so new to all this, who couldn’t even pronounce so many of the Biblical names, stir up such excitement in the children to learn about Jesus? His love for the Lord, and His eagerness to share that love, was contagious.

God stepped in and wrote our love story for us, and we were married only a year and a half after we had met. I was barely 18, and he was not yet 20, when we heard God’s call. Even though it was so hard to say good-bye to our families, we packed up our little U-haul and started our married life by moving from Indiana to Minneapolis. My husband had begun the process to attend Bible College there. 

Dear friends had allowed us to move into the large duplex where their elderly Grandmother lived upstairs. She needed someone to watch over her, even though she was resistant to having help. We realized that we would have to devise ways to clean her home without her becoming upset. When we found out that she loved to listen to the Bible being read to her, my husband would read to her in the front room, and I would creep quietly up the back stairs to clean that portion of her home. 

Her hearing and vision loss proved to be a benefit then, as I could signal to my husband, and he would suggest that they move to the kitchen where the lighting was better. Then I would go around to the front entrance and clean the area they had just left. This dear Norwegian woman was so blessed with my husband’s reading, but we were so blessed to hear her sweet voice of appreciation. We didn’t know that when we thought we were being prepared to enter Bible School for the “official ministry,” God was already teaching us what TRUE Ministry would look like. The smiling wrinkly face of that dear woman is forever etched into my memory.

But when she fell and broke her hip while we were at work, the family agreed with us that she needed more constant care. Just at that time of change, a new opportunity opened up before us. The church where my husband had become the janitor told us they needed a live-in caretaker. We hadn’t even realized that there was a 2-bedroom apartment tucked into the upper level of the education wing of this historic church. So we became the caretakers, janitors, and Children’s Church leaders at this inner-city church within the same month that my husband began his classes at college. Our lives suddenly became a whirlwind of activity.

The Children’s Church was small and gave us plenty of opportunities to put into practice some of the new lessons my husband was being taught in his Christian Education classes. We made wonderful new friends who joined us as we found and created object lessons, puppet shows, and Scripture lessons. 

Our oldest son was born while we lived there, and he was a part of everything we were involved with: nursery during church services, kicking up a storm in his jumper while we cleaned the hallways, and charming all the little girls who came to visit us in our apartment down the hall from their Sunday-School classrooms. But after two years of living at such a heavy pace, we began to feel the strain. Our marriage went through the fire as the new bonds of love were tested. 

As we prayed about what to do, again the Lord led us to Scriptures for our answers:

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves. Psalm 127:1-2 NIV

When we shared those Scriptures with the church leadership and said that we felt God was preparing us to begin to make a move soon, they returned with a notice to be moved out in one month. When we thought we had found a supportive church who would understand about God’s guiding, they thought they had been betrayed by their loyal workers.

Our first time of breaking left us shaken and unsure of where we would go. Friends had told us we could move into their basement, but on the final week of the month, an apartment opened up on the other side of town, in St. Paul. My life was about to take on a deeper surrender, as I heard God asking me to be willing to support my husband, and to go back to work. I had enjoyed working with him while we were caretakers and janitors, even though the hours were grueling. How could God ask me to leave behind my “church work” to enter back into secretarial jobs, and leave my baby in the care of someone else?

Has your perspective of ministry and surrender been shaken recently? 

Does it seem that God has asked you to do the very thing you thought you could never do? 

Perhaps, He wants to show you where His heart is bigger than yours has been. 

Could you join us in praying today?

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for shining Your glorious light, the face of our Lord Jesus, onto the deepest places of our hearts. We confess that sometimes we are shocked at the darkness and striving You uncover in us there. OH, but how grateful we are that Your mercy washes us clean as we lay that very striving before You. 

Gracious Father, will You receive these offerings of surrender that are laid on the altar now? Our humbled hearts long for the light of Your Son to awaken us here.  And as we are awakened by Your light, we are amazed by the freedom You have won for us. Our praises are wafting before You, joining in Holy Spirit breath now bursting forth from our lungs. Hallelujah to our Savior above!

In the name of Your Son, Jesus, we pray,

Amen.