Followers

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

GETTING RID OF THOSE PESKY WEEDS, In your garden and your life.



Spring is finally here in the mountains!
For most of you, spring has been here for quite awhile now. Not where I live. Oh, we've had occasional days of sun and warmth, maybe for 3 days at a time.
For one week now the weather has been glorious, and the temperature slowly warms, making for one happy gal.

I absolutely love to garden. Getting my hands dirty, pulling the weeds, preparing the soil, and  then heading to the nursery to buy the annuals, the vegetables, the fertilizer and plant food. It's my idea of creativity.

For the ten years I have lived in the mountains of northern California, my goal is to have everything done by Mother's Day weekend. Except for the one year our youngest daughter was married ( 7 years ago yesterday). We were done planting at the beginning of May so that things would be blooming by her wedding.

This year though, we had 96 inches of rain. Yes, I mean 96 as in four less than one hundred. So picture in your mind the amount of weeds that that amount of rain could produce. LOTS. Well, way more than lots. I have more weeds than I have seen in the past few years combined. That would be due to the extreme drought California has endured, but thankfully this years over abundance of the wet moisture, ended our drought!! I can take longer than 5 minute showers.

Back to my gardening escapades. Because we had such a wet fall, winter and spring, I am just now beginning my gardening for this year. Today was my day to tackle the weeds. A few weeks ago I asked my dear husband to spray the weeds where I typically plant all my flowers. He is so sweet and did that almost immediately. 
Unfortunately, he sprayed many of my perennial flowers as well. Seriously I cannot blame him; I don't think I would have seen the difference. So this morning I began the process of getting rid of the weeds and the plants that had been doomed to death with the weed killer.

Silly of me to think it would take a couple of hours. I started at 8am and worked until about 10:15, until the sun was completely shining on the place I was working. Due to an unusual type of thyroid cancer, during my second surgery, half of my hypothalmus was also removed. This organ regulates your body temperature, and having only half of mine, I have become much less tolerant of heat and I tend to get overheated sometimes rather quickly. (this doesn't bode well for our Kauai vacation in September). So because of this pesky complication, I can only garden now in the early mornings and evenings. Given the amount of rain we have had, the mosquitos are also in overabundance, so the evenings are pretty much out as those pests love to get to my blood.

But the WEEDS. They are EVERYWHERE. I was overwhelmed before I pulled a one. There is this one type that lives here in the mountains that I never saw living in a city. This one is actually always low to the ground, but grows underground with roots that you pull up sometimes almost a yard long. They flourished in my flower area. Maybe I weeded half of the space today before I got too warm.

Weeds always remind me of the many flaws and sin I have in my life. Those areas where I think I have made progress ridding myself of my problem attitudes, but before I know it,  they reveal their heads again and cause me to further stumble. Just like the weeds I began to pull up today, I know those suckers will return and I will try and stomp them out again.

Extreme weaknesses that I have seen repeatedly in my life are judging others and jealousy. Oh I can't even tell you how often I have confessed my sin of judgmentalism. Why do I think I can cast judgement on others and what they say or what they do? It is the sin I would love to eliminate more than any other. And I can admit, that I have gotten much better as the years have gone by- for crying out loud, it should,  I mean seriously, I am now in my 60's. 

Jealousy keeps popping up its ugly head from time to time, just like those damn weeds. 
"why can't I have that house?"
"why does she always look so good?'
"why do they get to go there?"
"why can't I write like she does?"
"why can't I have the money she has?"
"why are they so successful in their ministry?'

Blah blah blah. Always wishing I could have what others have. Why can't I be so grateful for what I do have?
A husband who loves me and is faithful to me.
Four kids who have turned out well and have amazing spouses.
Three amazing little boys I get to be Grammy to.
Friends that I wouldn't trade the world for.
Involved in a ministry, working with a boss and team that is beyond fantastic.

God has enriched my life with so many blessings and gifts. I need to cherish them as much as I get enjoyment over the flowers that will eventually be planted and bloom.

Life is like a garden. We all need the pulling of our weeds in order for God to have us bloom where we are planted. It is never easy work. We will always get stretched and might feel the sting of the pulling; but HE knows this is what needs to happen for us to produce a garden that aligns with His character.

Next time you go to pull the weeds in your garden, maybe ask God what weeds He needs to pull out of your life to make His garden of your life as beautiful as He always envisioned you to be.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

TIME TO WITHDRAW

I realized this morning, that it is time to withdraw.

Are you at all like me, and the news that has transpired in the past week, has perhaps traumatized you? That you get sad and angry, frustrated and confused?

Five days into the Trump presidency and I am upended. I don't know what to do. The mostly repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act (aka: Obamacare) was the first thing that got me reeling. I was an RN for 31 years. It wasn't until I became a home health nurse that  I saw the huge disparity in the care of patients. When you had good healthcare coverage, you were allowed extra visits. When you were on Medicaid, you got one visit. I was horrified. People who need Medicaid (Medi-Cal for us in California) do not have the money for health insurance, are living in the below poverty level; they barely have enough money for food and clothing and shelter. It was in the early 1990's when I began to consider that universal health care or national health insurance was something we needed. I learned that most of the world's countries all provided health coverage to each citizen. I wondered why we didn't.
I know that in the early stages of the Clinton administration, that they tried for this and failed. 
Then came Obamacare and I was grateful that then, everyone could get insurance. And yes, it was very confusing and the computer servers crashed, but the outcome gave millions of Americans the access to healthcare that they needed. President Trump's repeal of most of that was the starting point of my frustrations.

The thing that has upset me terribly is the news that today he will order that there are to be no refugees from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan allowed into the United States. These countries have been known to have people enter the country, and some are ISIS proponents here to recruit.
The President also tweeted that "we will build the wall"

Yes, I know that there are HUGE numbers of people that have entered our country illegally at the borders between Mexico and the United States. I know it has caused a tremendous financial cost to us the US taxpayers. I admit that I have no idea of why the people of Mexico cannot enter our country legally; perhaps there is a yearly quota.
What bothers me is that there is NOT any ONE of us who live in the United States that is here because someone in our family tree came here to better their lives. To be free from oppression, whether it be for religious reasons, to escape the taxes of their countries, to try and give their families a better start in life. Do we not profess that: We are the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave?
Trump wants to use money from the Homeland Security Department to fund the building of the wall.
As I sat on the edge of our bed this morning with tears streaming down my face lamenting to my husband on the unfairness of all of this, he reminded me that this is why our country has checks and balances. Donald Trump is the President of the United States but HE IS NOT THE CEO. He cannot sign things into law without Congress's approval, and even then if someone files a lawsuit, it could be overturned by the Supreme Court or appellate courts.

I have been a follower of Jesus Christ for 45 years now. HE will always be the ONE I have my allegiance to. Way ahead of my allegiance and love for the United States of America, is my love and devotion to Jesus.
I have a friend and some of my family who I asked if they wanted to join me in reading the Words of Jesus this year in the four Gospels. (you can read about it here:http://missyscud.blogspot.com/2016/12/join-me-with-jesus.html) and this morning I was reading in the 4th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. This is the chapter where Jesus is led into the wilderness and tempted by the devil. In the first temptation, the devil tells Jesus to make some stones become bread.
Jesus answered: It is written: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every Word that comes from the mouth of the LORD". (Matt 4:4). From the very start, Jesus emphasizes how the WORD of GOD is of primary importance. Which once again confirmed to me, that I must be in the Bible, that my choice to just read the Gospels this year so that I can see the Words of Jesus is of upmost importance.

Later on in the chapter in verse 12, it is said that Jesus withdrew to Galilee after hearing the news that John the Baptist was imprisoned. There are many instances in the four Gospels that Jesus withdrew by Himself to be with His Father. I have to surmise it was to get His Father's instructions, His Voice, to confer with Him on the big decisions that were coming, when his ministry depleted Him and He needed spiritual refreshment on His human side.

If Jesus needed to withdraw when things were taxing on him, why wouldn't I also need to withdraw?
To be with Him. To hear His Words. To seek His advice. To listen to Him, and be able to pour out my heart to Him in things where I need clarity, or wisdom, or just to be with Him and tell Him why I am confused or frightened; to bear my heart and soul to the Only One who fully knows me and still loves me in spite of who I am.
So I am withdrawing to be with Jesus. From the news, from Facebook. I need to pray for our President. I need to pray for our country and the world. I just need to be with Jesus.
Don't you?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

JOIN ME WITH JESUS

Over and over and over again for the past month, GOD has been getting my attention.
Instead of focusing on the election (yet again) or being fearful of what a Trump presidency means, or getting so frustrated that my husband has limited my time to watching the news, I am being reminded that it is JESUS who I am to follow. Who I am to obey. Who I am to serve.

It has never been about me. 
It has been and always will be, ALL ABOUT JESUS.

There is so much going on in the world that breaks my heart.
So much that can terrify me.
Between the refugees from Syria (now over six million have been displaced from their homes), the sex trafficking all over and the atrocities being committed against women and girls and young boys, to the heinous dictators (or leaders) in Syria and North Korea and Russia, and the so many I don't know about, I can become totally paralyzed with fear.

I choose not to be. 
Instead I choose each day to pray and ask God to intervene, to protect His children. And although I do not see the answers to my prayers right now; I know that the ONE who created life, who created us, will one day soon, have HIS way.

I am choosing the word "FAITHFUL"  for my word this year. It has been on my heart and spinning through my mind for a month now. I had been planning to write this blog all day and just now read a blog by Sarah Bessey, a much younger follower of Jesus who has challenged me over the past several years and she too chose the word, FAITHFUL (http://sarahbessey.com/my-oneword365-for-2017/). I guess great minds think alike!!

FAITHFUL to GOD and what He has called me to be: His servant in this world, to be obedient to what He has asked me to do. To pray for what He has put on my heart. To give to where He leads me to give. To be a LIGHT that shows others the reality of living a life following CHRIST. To TRUST Him in the midst of my uncertainties. To be mindful again and again of the HOPE He gives. To CLING to Him, no matter what.

NO MATTER WHAT I hear on the news or what I read online. No matter what happens to those I love. No matter who is president. I am called to be FAITHFUL  to my GOD.

One way that I can be faithful is to listen to His Words, to let sink in His way of life. So for the year of 2017 I am going to read the Gospels each day. I did this a few years ago and it was incredible to hear and soak in just Jesus' words. Because they are always TRUTH.
I will read one chapter a day. It takes about 3 months then to read through the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
This way I will read through the Gospels four times this year. Each time I will read it in a different version. Most likely I will use the NIV, the Message, the NLT and ESV.
The gleanings I will receive each day will be immeasurable. I remember when I did this last, that I was so surprised each day that the LORD would speak to my heart in a new way and remind me of His truths.
I have tried to follow Jesus for 45 years now. I have read through the Bible over 25 times. I know the Gospels. I know the stories and the miracles. I have heard them since attending parochial school as a child. 
But when I come with an expectant heart each day, Jesus reveals Himself to me anew.
I would love to have you join me in this endeavor. To soak up the words of Jesus each and everyday in 2017. I think I can guarantee that you will be surprised and grateful at the end of the year.
When we get our perspective from JESUS, our fears will lessen. We will be more focused on Him, on what He wants and His will.
And as I've said before, "Its all about Him and not us".
It will change how I (we) think, how we pray and hopefully how we think and how we act. 
I for one, NEED to do this.
What about you?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Trying to Turn over a New Attitude.

Oh this month. What a ride! Not necessarily a fun ride, but one that has had more downs then ups, and one that won't be forgotten soon.

The presidential election has left half the country so disheartened, questioning everything that has transpired.
I am one of them.

I could not, would not, vote for Donald Trump if he had given me all his money. More than anything, I am absolutely confused and baffled by those who say they are followers of Christ and voted for him. 
How do you vote for a man who wants to build a wall across the border of Mexico and the United States? Who wants to throw out anyone who is a Muslim? Who says he wants to change the immigration Laws? ( mind you, he has had 2 wives who are immigrants). Who changes his mind on issues like women change their clothes? Who tweets unbelievable things? Who has groped women and boasted of it?

This man is definitely someone who does not resemble Jesus Christ to me. As I have pondered for a month now, I have wondered if those who proclaim to be a follower of Christ, and voted for Mr Trump, actually have an american worldview of Christianity?  The kind of view that believes we are superior to the rest of the world and that we don't need to be concerned about "them".  I do not believe that 81% of white evangelical Christians voted for Trump; they didn't poll me or so many of my friends.

I have to admit, a Trump presidency scares the heck out of me. He is so irrational at times, speaks without thinking often, and bullies so many people. I thoroughly believe that God remains in control and that many times I often do not understand His ways. This may be the end of the US as a world power and that may be part of God's plan, but I have chosen to trust Him in spite of my fears.

Today I read the book of Nehemiah from the Old Testament. It is the story of how one man took a risk and asked a king for a favor so he could re-build the wall in Jerusalem. The reason the wall needed to be rebuilt is that the Jewish people had continuously disobeyed God, discarded His commands and pridefully thought they could run their lives better without Him. 
Sounds so much like us in the United States today. We were founded as a country granting religious freedom. We included God when our country began and today, we are much like the Jews of old; we think we know better than God, we discard His views on loving one another and we wonder why His favor does not rest on our country anymore.

In Nehemiah 1, he writes:
     "When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I
     mourned and fasted and prayed to the God of Heaven"

Is that what we need to be doing?  Can the answer to our anger and grief most likely can be found in prayer and fasting? I am beginning to think it is. 
Not so that we could change the results of the election (but maybe we could change the electoral college-oh sorry, I could only wish), but maybe in prayer and fasting, in trusting God with our questions, our fears, our extreme disappointment, we might gain His perspective. And I for one, need it.
What if each of us who almost despaired in the days following the election, set aside a day or two to fast and seek God and His will, and to hear His Word. Because if you are anything like me, you have heard too much from what the world is saying, getting riled up reading the news, looking at social media and being disgusted. What I need to hear, and most likely you too, is the TRUTH. And God's Word has always been and will always be the truth. We need to hear from the ONE who created life, created us and who holds all of us together.

Further on in Nehemiah 1, the prophet writes:
     "I confess the sins we the Israelites (or us americans),            including myself...have committed against You. We have
   acted wickedly toward You. We have not obeyed the commands, 

   decrees and laws..."

This stopped me this morning. Why do we think we God would bless America, when we don't listen to Him or follow Him? I am like Nehemiah, just as guilty. I have disobeyed, have acted wickedly, and now is the time to repent. For myself and for my country.
2 Chronicles 7:14 states:
     "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble them-
    selves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked
    ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their
    sin and heal their land."

This is what we, as followers of Christ need to do. WE need to humble ourselves. We need to pray and seek God's face. We need to turn from our sin-our pride, our anger,our holier than thou attitudes, our judgmental thoughts, and ask God to forgive us.
Then and maybe then, He will begin to heal our land.
Because we NEED HIS HEALING. We have said things we should not have said, we have been angry and NOW is the time for us to start the process. WE, who profess our faith, who say Jesus is our Lord, need to begin the healing process. To release our frustrations and our fears and to TRUST God, that He is the ONE who does the healing.

NOW is the time for us to be humble. To drop the accusations and to just do what He requires of us. To love others, regardless if we agree with them or not. To show kindness-to EVERYONE. To be respectful because this is exactly how Jesus is to each of us. And to be forgiving, because WE HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN.

NOW IS THE TIME FOR US TO ACT LIKE WE ARE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST.




Monday, September 26, 2016

AVERY HEAVY HEART and a REQUEST that you SHARE this.

I was born in the 1950's and grew up in the 60's when the Civil Rights movement really became a focus once again.

I was never aware that I had so many advantages being born white in America.
I have never been looked down on because of the color of my skin. I have never been pulled over because I am a white woman who "looks suspicious".

I grew up where Negroes (as the African-Americans were called then) were a part of my life.
The foreman on my father's construction company was to a young girl, the biggest man she had ever seen with the largest hands imaginable. I didn't know he was different. We had a Black housekeeper, who when my mother died, we had to beg her to quit working and sit down and be with us.

I remember watching the news when James Meredith wanted to enroll at the University of Mississippi and had to have the US Marshall accompany him, so that he would be the first Black admitted to a university in the south-ever. I remember last year being at Ole Miss, requesting my friends to take me to the administration building where it all started, and saw with pride the statue of James Meredith on the Ole Miss campus.

I remember being at my grandmother's beach house when the Watts Riots started. I remember asking why this was happening. I just didn't understand as a ten year old what would cause this.
I remember when Martin Luther King Jr was murdered. I was a sopohmore in high school and I marched in downtown Palo Alto with my friend Nancy. I was devastated that a man who wanted to promote racial reconciliation was gunned down by a white man.

I remember my father building two apartment complexes in East Palo Alto for the Black people at an affordable price in the 1960's.

I imagine I have always been a civil rights advocate in my own life.

As a follower of Christ, I believe firmly that God has created all men (and women) equal. That we have no color in His eyes; that He sees us just as His children. And yet for the past year, my soul- the deepest part of me that is true, has been at unrest at the racism in our country.
For the past 3 months I have been with such a heavy heart of what has transpired in our country.
I began praying everyday for racism to be obliterated. I have been asking God what I could do. What can I, a white woman in my 60's who lives in the middle of nowhere (seriously, I live one hour away from the 3 closest towns) can do.

I came to the realization that politics won't fix our problem. That communities can do what they can, but will it only be for their particular city.
Only the Church of Jesus Christ can begin the process of reconciliation in our country.
Do you know that as of today (September 26th) that 703 people have been documented deaths by police in this year alone? and that 173 Deaths have been Black Americans.
Believe me, I am not condemning our policemen. I like the police; they protect me. I realize that there are good cops who deeply care about the people they protect (they are the overwhelming majority) and there are bad cops as well.

But it TIME WE DO SOMETHING. It is time for the Church in America to lead the change.
This morning I read in a book by Tony Evans, a Black pastor in Dallas, about fasting.
When our prayers don't seem to work or produce the change we need, we need to consider fasting.

I am not famous. I will never be one of the bloggers who has thousands of followers. But I am a woman who follows Christ with all that is me and I want to be obedient. Today, I feel like God has begun to answer my prayer for racial reconciliation.

I am asking you who follow Jesus, to share this post.
I am asking that on Sunday October 9, 2016, Followers of JESUS across the country to fast and pray for the racial tensions to end.
Fasting, according to Evans "is the abstinence from some form of physical gratification, for a period of time, in order to achieve a greater spiritual goal." Tony Evans goes on to say that in fasting, "you deliberately show God that you are serious about getting His attention and that you are intently listening for his voice". When we choose to fast, we choose God and His word over our own physical appetite. We see things with greater clarity when we fast because we are seeking God and His answers , instead of our own. When we fast, we choose intentionally, to come into God's presence for His wisdom.

What if on October 9th, The Black Faith Community joins with the White Faith Community across our country, and we fast together, pleading with God to change the course of what is happening in our country in regards to race. What if we ask heaven to move mountains so that God's purpose is carried out on earth.

What if 53 years later, the end of Martin Luther King's " I have a Dream" speech spoken at our nations capital can begin to come true.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.


I have a dream that we, the followers of Christ can make a difference.
Will you join me On October 9th please?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

AWAITING NEW PROMISES

I was almost horrified this morning when while talking to a dear friend, I realized that tomorrow is September 1st.
Not that September 1 is a bad day, it is just that it crept up on me without even thinking about what that day signifies for me.

Twenty years ago ( or maybe it was 19 and this will be my 20th year), the pastor of the church we attended, informed us that he prays a particular verse for each of his family members.
I was so impressed with this idea, that I began searching for a verse for each different family member. I believe he told us about this endeavor the first weekend in September.

So now for the 20th time, I will begin to look for verses for our family members. When I started it was just the six of us. Now with spouses for each child and three adorable grandsons, I will be finding 13 different verses for each member of my immediate family.

I can almost guarantee you that it will take me the entire month to find them; unless by some "miracle", the LORD gives me these verses more quickly.
Truly it is an amazing time searching through the Bible looking, wondering, deciding (with the Holy Spirit's guidance) which verse is for which person. This allows me to see Scripture in a whole new light as I get to review verses from the past that have ministered to me when I deeply needed them, see verses that I had chosen for family members at different times in their lives, and be grateful again that the Word of God is still so relevant for today.


I often have wondered why the LORD would lead me to a specific verse for someone, but have believed that this indeed was THE right verse, even when I didn't understand; only to be amazed and grateful as the year went on and the reason was made clear.  

This year will be the 20th year I have prayed verses for my family; specific verses for each particular member. It has been an honor and a joy to do this. It has helped me memorize Scripture; although I must admit that I can't always tell you where it came from (book and verse), I do remember the actual words of the verse.

Yes, I was taken aback this morning that today was the last day of August. On the other hand, I am totally excited and looking forward to the month of September ( I always love this month because it is my birthday month!) because I am awaiting the new promises God will give me to pray for my family members.

When my kids were in school, they always started in September, that doesn't happen much these days, when so many schools begin in August, which is why I always pick my verses in September. It was the beginning of a new school year and a perfect time for me to reflect on challenges they might face, milestones that could occur, and wait for God to reveal His particular word, for each of those that I love the most in this world.

It is a beautiful thing to see how God works through the years. It is an even more splendid thing to see God work in the lives of your family and watch them become who He has envisioned them to be.

My encouragement for you today is to find verses for your family. It may take awhile. You may not be able to do it now for the season of life you are in. But if you can do this, not only will your family be blessed, you will be blessed as you watch God's Word come alive.

A  very special thank you to Dave Sawkins for this wonderful idea!!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Displaced. Replaced. Misplaced. What to do next.

How many times have I lost my keys, or really misplaced them.
How often do I reach for my glasses and can't seem to find them?
Or how often have I followed directions on my "smart phone", only to be totally lost?

Realistically, I could not give you a number for any of the above.

But what if your mind doesn't work the way it used to, and you forget people's names, or tell your children the same story yet again? Is my mind being misplaced? Or is it displaced? I am not quite sure.

What if you had a job that you were successful at for years and all of a sudden your boss walks in and says: "I've decided to go a different direction", and no further explanation was given? 

What if your spouse walks in your home one day, and says "I'm done, this just isn't working for me anymore."

What if you answer the phone in the middle of the night and hear the words, "there has been an accident"?

Or the doctor calls and says "I need to see you today. Your results are in". (for the record, if you get a phone call like that, it is never good news; great news can be conveyed on the phone).

What if your child who has been exemplary all their life, gets in trouble with their friends and you wonder, "where did I go wrong?"


What do we do in times like this?
We have choices; yet how and what we choose determines how we deal with change.
I have to admit that I kick and scream (not loudly, more in my mind) long before I ever get to the acceptance stage.

Our choices in how we respond tremendously affects us.
Unfortunately for me, so often I react instead of think and act. It has caused me some tremendous heartache in my life. And how often I wish I could backtrack and respond differently.

I wish I could be like some friends of ours. The grace they show and extend to others totally blows me away. One night they received the tragic news that their youngest son had died. They told their family but kept the news from the rest of us for over 24 hours, until we could celebrate the blessings of sixty years of Young Life in our city.

I am amazed and caught off guard by the grace and love and concern for others this couple felt in the midst of the worst day of their lives.

What if we all reacted like them?
What if we showed grace when it wasn't deserved?
And isn't that just what grace is. Undeserved favor and blessing.
Exactly what Christ offers each of us every single day of our lives.

What if the job we had been displaced by, the partner that replaced us, the things we lost and misplaced, could be seen as opportunities for us to respond the way God envisions us responding?
 I ask myself, Is that even possible?
It is. But only if we involve Jesus in the process.

The times when we most feel like lashing out are the times when we just need to be quiet, to sit in the hurt, the pain, the bitterness and let God begin to transform our minds and our hearts.

One of my favorite verses to meditate on is Romans 12:2a.
The New Living Version states:

                      "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this
                        world, but let God transform you into a new
                         person by changing the way you think."

Oh my, forty plus years of walking with Jesus, trying to be who He sees me to be, and yet I am still holding on to my ways far too often. I so desire for Him to transform my thinking. But I must make the conscious decision to turn to Him immediately when my world has been rocked. Slowly, very slowly, I am letting this happen, but why did I not realize this decades ago?

So when life throws you curve balls that were so unexpected, and it always will do that because who plans for tragedy, and job loss and a divorce, or a wayward child, practice turning to God before you say a thing, before a word leaves your tongue.
 Cry out to God.
Keep your mouth shut.
 Listen. Keep listening.

Don't miss what HE has for you in this trial and pain that snuck up on you. One thing I have learned and know for sure: GOD NEVER WASTES THE PAIN in our lives. He will use it to transform us, to encourage others, to bring Him glory.
That's the one thing I tend to forget most often; I am here to bring GOD glory. It is all about Him, not me.

So in those deep hard hard moments, cry out to Him before you respond. He is there, waiting for you. It won't be easy but you will never be alone.