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Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Grief

My heart cries out over Moab;
her fugitives flee as far as Zoar,
as far as Eglath Shelishiyah.
They go up the way to Luhith,
weeping as they go;
on the road to Horonaim
they lament their destruction.
ISAIAH 15:1-5 (NIV)



The ancients seem a lot better than we are at expressing deep emotion. We often bottle it up; they raised their voices in loud laments. “My heart cries out over Moab,” Isaiah wailed. We might follow their example.


I used to deny my feelings of sadness until my doctor insisted I let them out. One Christmas I was upstairs alone in our guest room, wrapping presents for the kids. I thought of past Christmas seasons when I would delight in choosing just the right gift for my parents. How I looked forward to watching them open their presents! But both had passed away years before and I would never be able to give them another Christmas gift. My heart was sad.


My first instinct was to run, get the children and cheer myself up. Then I recalled my doctor’s voice: “Stop!” So I stopped and allowed myself to feel. Soon I started to cry. I didn’t just cry; I wailed, feeling the sorrow from the tips of my toes to the top of my head. Yet after I was done, I felt lighter, cleaner. Crying felt so good that I wondered why I had avoided it for so many years.



A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
ECCLESIASTES 3:4 (NLT)



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Grief

Then Joshua tore his clothes and
fell facedown to the ground
before the ark of the Lord,
remaining there till evening.
JOSHUA 7:6 (NIV)



When Joshua was overcome with grief and despair because of Achan’s sin, he didn’t try to keep a stiff upper lip or to stuff his emotions. Rather, he fell on his face before the Lord and expressed himself openly.


Here are a few thoughts on expressing grief, compiled by a panel of grief therapists: Don’t suppress the pain you feel; it will only resurface later. Experience it, feel it, and resist the temptation to “stuff it.” Grieving is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of integrity. Grief means you are being honest about the feelings in your heart.

Talk about your loss instead of trying to protect your friends and family by your silence. Seek out people who understand what you are experiencing.

Perhaps join a grief support group or see a grief counselor. It’s okay to tell family and friends what you want them to do to help you grieve.


No matter how you feel, talk with God. Even if you are angry, tell God. He’s big enough to handle your pain and your questions.


You’re blessed when you feel
you’ve lost what is most dear to you.
Only then can you be embraced
by the One most dear to you.
MATTHEW 5:4 (THE MESSAGE)



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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Grief, Prayer, Words of Endurance

Then he prayed, “Oh Lord,
God of my master Abraham,
Give me success today,
and show kindness to my master Abraham.
GENESIS 24:12 (NIV)



We tend to think that prayer should come easily to us, and many times it does. But prayer in the face of suffering can be a different story.



We are often surprised when prayer becomes difficult, when it seems fruitless, when the needs of the moment are so overwhelming that we don’t know where to begin. During these times it’s easy to lose confidence in our ability to pray or in God’s willingness to respond.



The truth is, prayer can be extremely hard work. Oswald Chambers describes it as “not a preparation for work, it is work. Prayer is not a preparation for the battle, it is the battle.”



And that about wraps it up.
God is strong, and he wants you strong.
So take everything the Master has set out for you,
well-made weapons of the best materials…
God’s Word is an indispensable weapon.
In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare.
Pray hard and long.
EPHESIANS 6:10, 17, 18 (THE MESSAGE)



ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
DAVE & JAN DRAVECKY

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Grief, Prayer, Words of Endurance

God heard the boy crying,
and the angel of the Lord called to Hagar
from heaven and said to her,
“What is the matter Hagar? Do not be afraid;
God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.
Lift the boy up and take him by the hand,
for I will make his into a great nation.”
GENESIS 21:17-18 (NIV)



“Lord, thanks for putting the warning sign up there that tells us we will suffer, that suffering is a part of life in this fallen world. But thanks also for allowing us – for allowing me – the freedom to express my fears about the future. For only when I do so am I able to realize my dependence upon the One who understands my suffering better than anyone. Because he did not lose heart when He suffered, I, too, can find the strength to live courageously in my own difficult circumstances. Amen!”



And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus,
the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Because of the joy awaiting him,
He endured the cross, disregarding its shame.
Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;
then you won’t become weary and give up.
HEBREWS 12:1-3 (NLT)



ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
DAVE DRAVECKY

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Cancer, Glimpses of Heaven, Grief, Hope, Words of Endurance

God my shepherd!
I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.
PSALM 23:1-4 (THE MESSAGE)



The familiarity of this oft-quoted Psalm can mask the wondrous truth that God is our loving, faithful Shepherd. Through our personal experience in dealing with cancer and through the experiences of hundreds of others who have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, we can testify that the Lord is truly our Shepherd.



He will shepherd us through the darkest hours of life, and His greatest desire is to lead each one of us safely to His eternal home in heaven.



But something deep within us tells us that death is not natural. We fight against it as if it is a foreign enemy and in a sense it is. God has placed eternity into the heart of every person so we long for life to go on. Yet we are so attached to life on earth that we resist heaven, the true home Jesus has prepared for us.



Heaven sometimes seems very far away, sometimes not even quite real. But heaven is real. We can count on it. And when we are in the midst of suffering, the hope of heaven can greatly comfort us.



Our desire is to give you a glimpse of heaven, to lift your focus heavenward, to assure you that those who are God’s children will indeed live in His House forever. So come, discover the Shepherd and the awesome pastures He has prepared for you.



ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
DAVE & JAN DRAVECKY

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Grace, Grief, Pain, Words of Endurance

EXCERPT FROM MENDED: (OUT OF THE RAG PILE, BACK ON THE HANGER


BY DEBBIE WOODS (PUBLISHED BY HIGHERLIFE PUBLISHING)



Be gentle with one another, sensitive.
EPHESIANS 4:32 (THE MESSAGE)



By God’s design and to my surprise, I have become deeply involved with a delightful young family. The first son and his twin brothers are only twenty months apart in age – quite a challenge for any mom right there. But in addition, the eldest has autism, and the twins have craniosynostosis, a genetic disorder that affects the skull, neck, head, face, mouth, teeth and hands. Multiple surgeries and complicated orthodontia are required, along with various ongoing physical and speech therapies. Later their sister was born. She, too, has developmental needs. Each child is a delight with unique talents, gifts, and personalities. They enrich my life.



I have spent thousands of hours with these kids, frequently out in public for an adventure together. Generally, I’m too busy directing and supervising them to notice those around us. But over the years, I’ve drawn a conclusion regarding people observing us. When the children with an unusual appearance act inappropriately, I see sympathetic smiles and nods. Some people will comment on my patience or kindness in the situation.



But when the child who appears normal is behaving oddly, I see critical looks and disdain. I believe the assumption is that the child isn’t well trained or disciplined, in need of correction. No mercy or compassion is offered.



It occurs to me that we are all special needs people. We are all fighting a battle, whether seen or unseen. We are all wounded, whether the scars are obvious or not. Dressed in our Sunday best – the tragedy, abuse, violence, pain, neglect, injustices, mental illness, physical illness, and spiritual torment of our lives are neatly tucked in and covered up. Add a smile and “we clean up real good.”



Others assume we are well balanced, well trained, and well prepared to be well behaved in any situation. If we aren’t, criticism and disapproval abound. If our “disorders” and “developmental needs” were known, perhaps others would respond with compassion instead of judgment.



As God, The Great Physician, tends to each of us, let us remember to show grace, kindness, and gentleness to His other patients. Do not be fooled by the Sunday Best; there are stitches, scars, and braces holding us all together beneath the coverings. We are a brotherhood of The Mended.



Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic,
be loving, be compassionate, be humble.
That goes for all of you, no exceptions.
No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm.
Instead, bless – that’s your job, to bless.
You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.
1 PETER 3:8-9 (THE MESSAGE)



CONFIDENTLY,
ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
JAN DRAVECKY

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Grace, Grief, Peace, Words of Endurance

EXCERPT FROM MENDED: OUT OF THE RAG PILE, BACK ON THE HANGER
BY DEBBIE WOODS (PUBLISHED BY HIGHERLIFE PUBLISHING)



Always be humble and gentle.
Be patient with each other,
making allowance for each other’s faults
because of your love.
EPHESIANS 4:2 (NLT)



“They are all idiots and they are all aimed at you!” (Words of wisdom from my father as he taught me to drive.) “Look out – expect the unexpected from the fools around you.” They are all idiots and all aimed at you became a life motto for me – at the mall, at the grocery store, at the theater, in the school car pool pickup lane, in the church parking lot. I saw a piece of unframed art in an interior design store – an adorable 1950’s child with a hair bow, a rose in her hand and a blank stare. Next to her is the dictionary definition of “idiot”: mentally defective, imbecile, moron, fool, witling. Below, in large graphic print, is the caption “Most of the people around me on any given day.” Can I get an Amen?



BUT then I met THE Father and Amy Grant was singing of “My Father’s Eyes.” And Jesus saw me as a child who had not been loved enough. And Jesus looked beyond my faults and saw my needs. And Jesus had compassion on me – helpless and harassed like a sheep without a shepherd. And I was awed that Jesus walked among the crowds and masses of people, the idiots, fools, and morons, with love and without irritation. And I was humbled by grace.



And THE Father gave me grace -colored glasses to see others as my companions in woundedness. And THE Father instructed me to accept life and people with humility and patience, making allowances for them. And THE Father filled me with His Spirit and the fruit of love, peace, patience and gentleness.



I now wear prescription bifocal sunglasses to drive. This requires me to remove my grace-colored glasses. Now when I’m in traffic with my father’s voice in my head again – “They are all idiots, and they are all aimed at you!” Heaven help me! I know, Daddy, I know. Should I honk or just run them off the road to teach them a lesson? Maybe they are just normal people in their normal confusion on a normal day, like me. Maybe I should make peace with flawed humanity. Maybe I should make allowances for them, as Jesus does for me. Maybe they, too, are slashed and shredded, in need of mending. Can I get an Amen?



Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves,
You must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy,
Kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Make allowance for each other’s faults,
And forgive anyone who offends you.
COLOSSIANS 3:12-13 (NLT)



CONFIDENTLY,
ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
JAN DRAVECKY

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Grief, Healing, Words of Endurance

EXCERPT FROM MENDED: OUT OF THE RAG PILE, BACK ON THE HANGER
BY DEBBIE WOODS (PUBLISHED BY HIGHERLIFE PUBLISHING)



Christ has set us free to live a free life.
So take your stand!
Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.
GALATIANS 5:1 (THE MESSAGE)



An older Christian woman, “Mrs. Righteous,” boldly proclaimed to anyone who would listen that she had not sinned (ever) since the day she was saved by Jesus Christ. She was a real peach! I had no dealings with her personally, but I did meet her sons, R. Righteous and D. Righteous. Legalistic and perfect themselves, they had not fallen far from the “Peach Tree.”



As a new babe in Christ, lost and profoundly damaged by sin and its severe consequences, I lived my life at the university trying to redeem myself: no drinking, no drugs, perfect class attendance, straight As. I was also attending a Bible study, where I met the Righteous Brothers. My safe place of unconditional love and forgiveness was quietly poisoned with judgment and condemnation.



Stupidly, I became a smoker in college. Not much; maybe a pack a week. Just something cool to do, right, like everyone else. Holy moly! This was intolerable to R. Righteous. Unthinkable. He was eager to tell me that I couldn’t have a Christian testimony if I smoked. I may not have been saved at all! I had to quit smoking, according to the gospel of R. Righteous.



Oh, precious Holy Spirit, newly flickering in me. In my confusion over the harsh criticism, I could hear the Holy Spirit whispering, “Never mind him; don’t believe that. We will get to the smoking later. You have many more serious issues than that! You are a mess, you are forgiven, and you are loved. There is nothing more to do. Let Me heal you.” I did not know then, but learned later, how the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words, according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27). And mends.



I also came to understand that believers should have no self-conceit and should not provoke one another. We are to restore one another in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 5:26, 6:1). I have encountered other Righteous Brothers through the years, but I recognize and dismiss them now. If pressed, I say with a confident smile, “Yes, I sin differently than you.” That ends the conversation, for sure.



As for Mr. R. Righteous, he never smoked. Yet after thirty-plus years of marriage to a precious, long-suffering saint, he was revealed to be a serial adulterer and a deeply in debt online gambler, among other things. I took no pleasure in his fall. He just sins differently than me. Saddened by the damaged lives he left in his wake, I thank God I was not one of his victims. The patchwork of redemption and renewal Jesus stitched on my heart was held tight.



“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults –
unless of course you want the same treatment.
That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.
It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face
And be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.
MATTHEW 7:1-3 (THE MESSAGE)



CONFIDENTLY,
ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
JAN DRAVECKY

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Grace, Grief, Pain, Words of Endurance

EXCERPT FROM MENDED: OUT OF THE RAG PILE, BACK ON THE HANGER
BY DEBBIE WOODS (PUBLISHED BY HIGHERLIFE PUBLISHING)



Even before he made the world,
God loved us and chose us in Christ
to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
EPHESIANS 1:4 (NLT)



My parents had no interest in me, leaving a hole in my heart and a hunger for straight A’s: Acceptance, Attention, Approval, Appreciation. They could not or would not be available to me. I tried singing, dancing, playing piano, defeating my brother in challenges, keeping a clean room, being punctual, being seen but not heard, being not seen and not heard. Still no affirmation, no confirmation. I tried and kept on trying because an unconnected life is not worth living. I would look elsewhere.



Straight A’s: Acceptance. Attention. Approval. Appreciation. Maybe school teachers and classmates could fill the hole. I had a new audience. Give ‘em the old razzle-dazzle right? Years of high grades, honor societies, leadership positions, athletic successes, homecoming queen nominations, and finally graduation from the university magna cum laude with straight A’s. Acceptance. Attention. Approval. Appreciation. But not for long.



Grown-up, real life does not offer report cards. What’s up with that? How will I earn my straight A’s? Where will I find validation? How will I fill this hole in my heart? Who will give the acceptance and approval I crave?



Jesus. Only Jesus. God, the Creator of all things, has chosen me, by His grace, and made me acceptable in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:3-6). Therefore, I am free from the tyranny of public opinion! …



… Not one drop of my worth depends on the acceptance, attention, approval or appreciation of others. I no longer let others define me. I no longer need straight A’s. My heart has been filled by the grace of God and I am acceptable in the Beloved.



Debbie’s Challenge For Us:
Today I will stop striving to win
the acceptance, attention, approval, or appreciation
of other people and bask in the contentment of knowing
that God loves and accepts me already.



ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
JAN DRAVECKY

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Depression, Grief, Healing, On the Journey Together, Prayer, Words of Endurance

Listen, God! Please pay attention!
Can you make sense of these ramblings,
my groans and cries?
King-God, I need your help.
PSALM 5:1-2 (THE MESSAGE)



I have struggled off and on with depression all of my adult life. For years now I have pleaded with God to remove this “thorn in my flesh.” But after years of counseling and many attempts to get off my antidepressant I had resigned myself to the fact that this was the way I was wired and it was a burden that I would forever bear till I meet Jesus on the other side.



I thought I could maintain status quo and get by but my issues have worsened over the years. I have always known that I was a flaming people-pleasing codependent but I did not realize how that had eroded me spiritually, physically and emotionally. It has reared its ugly head in my relationship with God and family – leaving me empty inside – not knowing who I truly was – causing me to turn to addiction to numb my pain – not God.



What I am so elated over is that God has not left me here in my state of despair. While I am still in the midst of my healing and discovery I now know that He who began a good work in me will see it to the day of completion. (Philippians 1:6) For the first time in a long time my hope has been restored.



He has heard my prayer and blessed me with a wonderful, understanding and patient husband, an insightful and wise counselor and wonderful supportive friends. Another layer of the onion is being peeled and hopefully the root of codependency is being pulled out – I am still in the process – the process is painful but it is worth it. I now pray …



Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong –
then guide me on the road to eternal life.
Psalm 139:23-24 (THE MESSAGE)



On The Journey With You,
Jan Dravecky

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