A Few of My Favorite Things

  • God and all that goes with Him
  • Time Spent With Family
  • Bedtime Prayers
  • Family/Group Hugs
  • The Beach
  • Good Friends
  • Good Music
  • Laughter

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Looking Back to Look Forward

I am constantly amazed at how our Heavenly Father works by using the people who come into our lives for a season but remain in our hearts for a lifetime. We see this easily in our family members, but what about those people who are just a part of our lives for a very specific period of time or maybe those who become a part of our forever families because of the bonds forged in the fires of pain or the joys of this life.

Ecc. 3:11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

I see God's hand at work in my life from early moments of childhood to even now as a middle-aged woman. There were bible class teachers and teachers at school who made huge impacts on a very young life helping to shape and mold the opinions and beliefs that I hold tightly to today. The teacher who with patience showed me over and over again how to tie my shoes when I just couldn't seem to get my fingers to work. She helped instill the we don't give up but try and try again. The teacher who washed the skinned knees and calmed a very frightened little who was being chased by a dog and then delivered me safely home to the arms of my sweet Mama. Oh, how big a part they played in who I am today. They helped shape the desire to teach and even when the dyslexia made reading so hard they found things to make me feel like I could conqueror the world.

Deut. 6:4-9-“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Then there are the countless friends from elementary schools scattered across three states and from one side of town to another. Girl Scout leaders who helped a very shy little girl find her voice behind a puppet stage. The mamas of those friends who took the time to make me feel a part of their family as well as my own, began the process of teaching me that family doesn't have to be blood related to be family.

There were also people that taught me what I didn't want to be and that kindness is golden. Some of the lessons were learned from adults and some classmates. There was the teacher who didn't show patience and said ugly things to my “at-risk reading group”. The one who rather than encouraging discouraged me from being willing to work hard to accomplish a goal. Those were important lessons to learn. It was the friend's dad down the road who spoke ugly to my sister and then thought I would want to stay and play. Well maybe I could have handled that one better, but he helped me learn loyalty and how to fight for someone you love even when it's scary. I learned that words once said can't be taken back and though you may forgive there are some things you just never forget.

Prov. 17:9 He who conceals a transgression seeks love,
But he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.

It's the friends from camp, youth devos, and sleepovers that taught me the value of open and honest sharing of the heart. It was talking long into the night till you fell asleep, getting up early to get the hot shower and a place to plug in your curling iron. It was the process of learning that sometimes someone can be really nice to your face, yet they will rake you over the coals when your back is turned. It was those friends who stood up for you even when they didn't agree with everything you believed and protected your innocence and learning not everything is black and white. I learned I could love people but not like their actions. It was the space to learn to stand up for my beliefs even while shaking because I didn't want to be different yet God calls us to be different.

Prov. 18:24 A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

2 Cor. 3:4-6 Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

It's the blessing of older women showing me how to love my husband. It was precious souls who when Mama wasn't there to talk to (remember this was before cell phones and even us not having a telephone because groceries were more important). There were couples who took a very young set of newlyweds under their wing and provided friendship and encouragement to keep doing good. It was precious souls who taught hard lessons on life in a beautiful life and a quiet bold voice. It was sweet folks who taught a young bride how to cook without a cookbook and how to be the wife God expected, not by what they said but by having me in their home and living it in front of me. It was sweet mamas who shared their littles with a young woman who very much wanted to be a mama, and taught me how to discipline and love all at the same time. How precious those ladies are and were!

Titus 2:3-5 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

It was bringing into my life people who dealt with chronic illness and pain, yet lived beautiful lives of service to their families and the church. It was by being asked to ride and just be company to doctor's appointments and just being there in the house through the rough spots. It was sweet families who took care of a sick and scared you young school teacher and showed me how church family loves each other even when the only connection we have is the blood of Christ.

Rom. 8: 14-17 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

It was listening to words spoken to my Mama and my Aunt when they lost their babies that taught me what to say and what not to say. It was watching church family care for us that taught me how to care for others. It's the people God sends to preach His word in actions and love. It's knowing that people can make grief bearable or unbearable with just the smallest slip of the tongue or act of kindness.

Prov. 15:4 A soothing tongue is a tree of life,
But perversion in it crushes the spirit.

I've been blessed with friends who when they came into my life the first time the connection didn't form, but that when God brought them back into my life later they have become family and encouragers. There are people who I may not see often, but when I do they make my heart lighter just by the sound of their voice or the words that appear on my computer screen. They help me see a glimpse of heaven here on earth with their love.

2Cor.13:5-10 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test. Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete. For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.

God sent children for me to love all through my childhood and early adulthood. I learned quickly that love comes with high expectations, and real love demands good behavior and consequences when they're not met. He sent me sweet children who were hurting and wanted direction. He taught me that my heart could grow and stretch and hurt with the pain that wasn't my own. He sent me opportunities to love those who weren't “loveable” and reap the reward of them knowing I loved them and God loved them. I learned our world can be full of ugliness and pain, but that through LOVE we see God and grace and redemption. Yes, children taught me that lesson.

Matt. 19:13-14 Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

He used those who made comments that wounded a heart longing for babies, so I could learn how not to hurt others. He sent people I could watch from a distance and learn from on how to comfort someone who had lost a baby. Those have been so important. He sent friends who are adult adoptees who have willingly shared their story, and now I have some idea on what to expect as my sweet boy grows up with questions and longing and grief and joy all mixed together. He has stretched my heart and made room to understand that loving birth-parents doesn't mean not loving me.

James 1:26-27 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

It is amazing how a word spoken at just the right time in the past can continue to influence who I am today. It's people who took the time to ask a young couple about their dreams for their family and the church that helped create this middle aged couple standing on the edge of dreams answered or about to be answered. It's realizing that all along the way God has used us in just the same way with others, and being humbled at the thought. May God continue to send us people who touch us and allow us to touch them; so that, we can see God in every aspect of our life.

Jer. 29: 11-13For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

James 1:15-18 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

It is with the hope of the eternal that allows us to see beyond the past and the present moment to the eternal future with Him. May He bless us all, and may we see the opportunities to be His hands and feet.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Letter to My 13 Year Old Self

Dear 13 year old self,

Get ready for life to make some big changes. Stay focused on school and remember how you behave affects who you become. Be compassionate, don't think you're always right. Life will reveal just how much you don't know very soon.

When Mama asks for your help, do it with a smile. She doesn't like how much responsibility she's given you anymore than you do, but there aren't any other options and you can meet the challenge.

Tell your baby sister you love her more than you fuss at her... you're not her Mama. Keep up with that little brother a little more, he isn't as grown as you think he is. The fussing that you do with the younger sister remember your sisters in Christ and those rules apply to your relationship too.

Stay active in the youth group, there are so many blessings that come from that time. Read and memorize scripture now, it gets harder to hang on to it as you get older.

Be the daughter of the King that He wants you to be. Latch onto those friendships at church, camp, and school. Decide right now how you plan to handle the hard things that will come in your life to tempt you. Be careful what movies you see, speak kindly and respectfully to everyone with a special emphasis on Mama and Daddy.

Find a way to express your emotions, just because you feel like you have to be in control doesn't mean you have to hold everything inside. Remember that there are some secrets that need to be shared.

Love family deeply every chance you get. Give hugs and say I love you every time you see them. Tell Aunts and Uncles how much they mean to you and why. Tell them thank you for play time and for making you feel special.

The day you go riding on the moped with you best friend and the cop pulls into the drive way to fuss about your not having a helmet on, stand beside her and take responsibility for your actions. Don't be a chicken and run inside because you're afraid of authority figures.

Remember that while you think you know everything, you still have a lot to learn. Find a healthy way to get rid of stress...exercise, yell, but most importantly breathe. School is important ,but it's not everything.

Trust God in good times and bad. Watch Mama and Daddy, they are wonderful examples. Give Grandpa Dean lots of hugs and kisses (yes, he really likes them even if he growls). Take every opportunity to spend time with Grandma Dean...show up on hair washing day...you'll look back one day and be so glad you did. Watch that Aunt who takes care of the folks she loves. She's awesome and cares even when they're grumpy. Give her an extra squeeze and let her know just how much you love her.

Don't push Jenny past her limits...you will regret it. Soak up all the time you have with her both good and bad. Sing all the time. There will come a time when it won't be this easy.

There are so many things I wish I could change but I know that’s not how it works. Remember it's not the number of friends you have, but the relationships you build for a lifetime.

The Spring Break Grandma and Grandpa Lyles come to visit. Let them do what they came to do...take care of you. Let her be the boss. Every time you hear Grandpa Lyles pray store it up in your heart. Watch Grandma Lyles serve others and you'll see Christ in action.

Find the joy in times spent with Jenny, Willard, and Garrett. Savor the moments things change before you're ready.

Be happy with who you are! Enjoy being a size 10. I promise you, you are not fat. Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself. You're willing to fight battles for every one else; fight one for yourself every now and then.

Above all love God! Put your heart into his keeping. Feed your soul, pray, and work to produce the fruit of the spirit. God is all powerful, His love is greater than you can imagine, and his spirit lives within you and will give you strength.

Hard times are ahead, but through each trial and struggle God is with you. Sometimes the things you don't think are fair or that you can't get through...all fit into God's perfect plan for your life.

One last thing, Satan is a deceiver. It's how he works. He wants you to doubt yourself, those you love, but above all he wants you to question your faith in God. You'll be surprised who he sends or what you'll encounter for him to get to your heart. Your going to make mistakes. Confess them, breathe, and move closer to God.

Stand on the promises of God and one day, you'll get to stand in His presence. Remember everything in God's way and God's timing. Don't grieve the “nos” for long, but concentrate on the blessings.

It's God and you working together, so you've got this,
Your 43 year old self

My Boy...Only One

Many of us ladies have suffered in silence through infertility and miscarriages. It's a hurt that because we don't talk about it we feel all alone. We are not alone, not ever. But it is my prayer that when we share our heartaches that we wrap each other in comfort and love. Secrets don't have to be kept because strength comes through sharing and prayer. If you're like me, and you long for little ones...maybe even a whole houseful...then I want you to know I'm praying for you. Please pray for me too. Below is a poem that reflects those emotions both past and present.

When I was little I had lots of dolls,
And pretended I was mama to them all.
As I grew up and got married...
A Mama is what I wanted to be.

God sent me little ones to love and enjoy,
But they all belonged to some other mama's heart.
I had dreams of a houseful.
A busy life caring for babies and being a good wife.

But that wasn't God's plan,
Not at the time I wanted more.
My arms remained empty.
My house still and quiet.

With each new little one I'd meet,
That brought someone else great joy,
A needle pricked my heart all the more.

Baby showers and beautiful baby filled tummies,
Whittled away at my heart bit by bit.
I wanted to feel little hands and feet move inside me,
Then to hold and to suckle, what joy that would be!

But my arms remained empty,
My heart not quite full.
But God can make families,
When man says you can't.

So one beautiful October day,
A baby to love was given to me.
I share him with his birth mother all the firsts and successes.
But I am his Mama and he's my boy...only one.

So now I still wish to feel a wee one grow,
To nurse and to love.
For my boy wants a sibling, and I want a houseful.
But right now we remain a family of three.

I still get a little jealous when someone is pregnant.
My arms still feel empty and the house a little quiet.
But one thing I know beyond any doubt.
I am blessed with my boy...only one.

He lights up a room with his great big grin and wit.
He's loving and compassionate as any could wish.
He loves the Father and has many talents,
So I'll sing songs of joy to one little boy.

I'll be thankful for blessings that have come with my boy,
Even though he is only one...
He just happens to be my only one, how blessed I must be!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Time of Being Broken

This is one of those articles I'm not really sure I want to start or how to start, but here we go. If you know me at all, then you know I spend my time riding this crazy roller coaster called my life. I have days where pain seems to be the only thing I can see. Sometimes that's OK because I can see the blessings it has brought into my life, how it has shaped the person I am today, and even how I react to children who are dealing with sensory overload. I guess it's true that you have to walk in someone’s shoes to really get their personal journey.

So, I deal with the pain and so does my family and those who love me. I could spend a lot of time talking about just how we sit down at the beginning of a month and plan just how we want to use the meds so I can be an active part in family activities. It's not to cause drama or pity or attention, it's simply living my life. With all of that comes this great burden of guilt because I keep us from the fun, I've missed so many firsts just because they happened as they are supposed to naturally and out of the blue. The guilt is almost as hard to deal with as the pain. Then there's the anger that comes with dealing with it all, and the questions of why should I deal with this.

There are times when it's not entirely my fault and I feel like it's fair that my family has to share in the struggle. I know that sounds ugly but it's true. Maybe the day could have gone smoother if only...and you fill in the blanks. I push to do because I want to please those who live with this every day battle of pain with me. I'm willing to do more, and it maybe that it's just another few minutes, or delaying taking meds so I can drive. It's all OK, yet it's not.

It's at times like this the devil whispers sweet promises of not caring how what I say or do, or don't say or don't do isn't important. He whispers, “Just take the path of least resistance.” Do what makes those around you happy and do what you need to do to make them happy. Sometimes there really is nothing wrong with listening to those whispers, except that it makes listening and doing so much easier the next time.

So I feel broken, not just health wise, it really is such a small part of it. Broken in those small corners of the heart that only God and the devil sees. When I feel like Humpty Dumpty and no matter what happens can all the pieces really be put back together again. Am I so broken that the God I believe is all powerful and capable of all things and love beyond understanding can't put me back together because I've allowed the whispers of the devil to be what I listen to? The answer to that question is “NO”. God's spirit resides in that broken heart and continues to hear my pleas and carry them to the throne of grace. Yet, I'm still broken. The parts that where fixed yesterday, have need of being fixed again today. The grief that comes with the what ifs and why nots, chip away at the heart I put in the keeping of the King when I paddled out to Daddy and he baptized me when I was 9.

Here is the answer, above all else, who holds my heart? Who can break it and put it back together again even better than it was before? The King of all Kings, the Alpha and the Omega, the great I AM is the keeper of my heart. Sometimes, He has to break it so it can be His again, and sometimes he softens it with humility and gentleness found in conversation with precious ones who are righteous and fighting their own battles, but willing to share in my fight and me in theirs.

James 5: 13-16 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

How thankful I am that we have promises like the one above! It lets me know what to do when all is right in my world, and it lets me know what to do when it feels as if I'm so broken I can't be put back together. The promise is there will be comfort. The comfort that comes with sharing just how broken you feel with someone you know won't judge you, and to learn that you aren't alone. This battle of life we fight was never meant to be fought alone. God tells us exactly how to win the battles. To confess (share) your brokenness with others. Be willing to drop the barriers and let them see what you feel is the ugliness of all that brokenness, and pray. PRAY!! Pray for each other and you will see the great power of God as it is working. I am not alone!! You are not alone!! We are together in prayer and as we go there and reach out our Father draws ever nearer to me and you.

Does this mean that there are days, moments, weeks when I don't feel broken? NO! Because I am still fighting and as long as I'm trying and working to live for the true keeper of my heart, He will always be there for me. You see, God doesn't move...I do. If I choose to listen only to the devil's whispers then I move myself further from the Father. But if I am humble and persistent and I don't give up, then my Father carries me close to His breast, and that heart that feels so broken is being mended and made perfect with each and every trial.

James 4:7-10 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Here I am standing at the end of another year feeling more broken than I ever have in so many areas of my life, yet I get to choose to submit myself to the will of the Father. As long as I keep resisting those whispers of giving in and giving up, I have the promise that all these tears I cry feeling like my world has fallen apart will be what purifies my heart and this broken spirit will be lifted up and exalted by the Father who is the true keeper of my heart. If I let Him keep my heart and I work to please him, then He will draw near to me and all those things the devil uses will flee. I can't get there by myself, but God has promised me and you that when we share those things we don't want the world to see with one another, and we pray together then we will see His power working through our prayers.

Dear Father, thank you for giving us your word with all its promises. Thank you for sending us righteous women and men who we can confess our sins to and in so doing magnify the power of prayer by adding more voices petitioning your throne. Be with us as we begin a new year and help us to please you in all we say and do. Help us to draw closer to you every day, and to resist the empty promises of the devil. Help me to let you be the true keeper of my heart and to put all my faith in you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Salt of the Earth

It's been several weeks since our minister taught a Bible class on this verse from Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. It's one of those lessons that when you've grown up in the church, you've probably heard more lessons than you can count from this scripture. I always come away from it with a renewed sense of wanting to be the salt that flavors.

But this time not only did he talk about how it only takes a little salt to give flavor and that once that flavor is gone the salt is only good for walking on, but he brought out the point that salt makes us thirsty. It's true you know like when you have popcorn or chips you need something to drink to go along with it. I have to admit I'd never really thought about how salt makes us long for fresh water and the implications that has in my spiritual life.

The more I thought about how salt makes us thirsty, the more John 4:7-14 kept coming to mind. It says A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”(For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

So, this got me thinking along two points. The first is that if I'm living the life that Christ wants me to and I'm sharing him with those around me then I am the salt and those I come in contact with should become thirsty for the living water. There needs to be something that people will see in me that makes them want to know how I can still find joy with a 16 year migraine. If I've become the salt then those I come in contact with will want the Living Water. The second thing it made me think about is am I thirsty for the Living Water? Am I living my life in such a way, that I long for the Water that will satisfy my thirst for all time? Do I spend enough time with those who are salty so that my thirst for the Living Water becomes even stronger? Do I spend enough time in the Word to crave the Water of eternity?

Sometimes I really struggle with this. There are days and weeks when the migraine keeps me confined to the house and the devil whispers: “You don't need to study, It's o.k. to be grouchy and mean you hurt you have a right to be, and It's not just your job to be an example to your family...they're supposed to take care of you.” The devil knows right where to get us and how to make us doubt the Father, given enough time he'll have us craving bitter water filled with poison. I know that the Living Water has already won the war, and it's my job along with the rest of His followers to fight the battles until the day He returns to call us home.

Father, please help me to make others thirsty for your word. Help me to spend time with those who will make me long for you and to study more and more. Help me to become saltier each day and help me to season the lives of those I come in contact with, with a desire to get to know you better. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Time to Fight

It's been a very long two months. It has felt as if we are having to fight battles on every side that we really shouldn't have to fight. The biggest battle has been with insurance companies and once again my White Knight is fighting for all he's worth. His armor has dings in it and yet he keeps fighting. He's been hit by friendly fire simply because he's the one delivering the message, but he keeps on fighting. I've watched days where I see him weary in ways I haven't seen since the beginning of this battle 16 years ago. You see this wonderful man is a Fix-It man and when he can't fix it then it becomes a huge battle for him.

We're looking at a procedure that if I'm in the 80% success rate would radically change our lives for the better. It would take the pain and interrupt it with electrical impulses. As it seems to be in everything, the insurance company has denied treatment and we are now working through the appeals process. To be honest at first I didn't even want to try this. We've been told so many times over the years that a particular treatment plan has a good success rate for chronic migraines like mine that to even hope becomes a little scary. This is where my sweetheart shines, he's there to listen, to hold me, and then to encourage. So we've now done everything we're suppose to do to prepare for the treatment.

Yesterday we checked off our final “have to” by talking to a psychologist who helps determine how you're dealing with the pain and if your coping skills are adequate. Part of the time was spent in the rehearsal of telling my story and how my pain works and how it affects our lives. I actually don't mind sharing the story anymore, but he has certain questions that he has to ask and that is the part I hate. He was very nice but he wanted to know if I ever get depressed. The answer to that one was “Yes sir I do. I miss out on family outings, church functions etc. and I'm home alone with just God, me, and the pain. I decided a long time ago that a finite hell here on earth is more doable than an infinite one, so I'm not going anywhere.” He then asked if I worry or have panic attacks because of fear of the headache. My answers was along the lines of...I know what my normal high level of pain is, so when the headache behaves like “normal” then I do deep breathing and visualization exercises and we get through it. When it's not normal and I get scared, I wake up my sweetheart and we breathe together until I get centered and the pain comes down enough to deal. I don't know why it always happens in the middle of the night or at church but it does. So that's how we handle it. He asked if it affects our home life...I'm thankful it was a phone consult. I rolled my eyes and went on to describe how we have named the house “The Bat Cave” and that what would have driven me nuts at the beginning of the headache I've learned not to sweat it. If the house isn't as clean as I'd like it to be or the clothes have piled up or the dishes haven't gotten done (all of these things require some type of repetitive noise that pushes the pain higher), then that's life and we worry about the most important things like relationships and loving each other. I told him we have learned to keep a supply of paper goods and plastic ware in the house because dishes aren't something that my sweetheart will do. He does do all the shopping and handles most of the errands and gets my little guy out of the house for some activity because Mama just can't always do it. I've learned to pick and choose what activities to do and when. I've learned that if on a good day I can do some small something outside the house then we're better off.

Anyway after 45 minutes on the phone, he tells me that I've really paid attention over the years and that my coping skills sound like their good and working and that I have a good support system in place. He then told me one of the things he was doing was finding out if I needed to be on something else to help with the depression or if I needed to learn some skills to help me move through the worst parts of the pain, and he felt like I was doing just fine, and he would get his report to the doctor who would be doing the procedure and we would hear from them once the insurance gives the go ahead. Finally he says now I need to collect my co-pay. At this point I handed the phone to my sweetheart because the headache plays with my vision and I can't see the numbers clearly on the card. It also gives the doctor a chance to hear my support system in action. I knew the doctor asked him how he was when my sweetheart said, “I'm hanging in there like a hair in a biscuit. It's been a long 16 years of watching her hurt and we really appreciate anything you can say that will help the insurance company see that we're ready for the procedure.”

I have to say I am very thankful to have this part finished. I'm ready to either hear a yes or no from the insurance company, so that we can learn what the cash cost of the trial procedure and implant would be. Then we can make long range plans. I know that whatever goes on God has this and we will get through this time of waiting just like we have so many other things. Ultimately we know God has this and we just have to do our part by keepin' on keepin' on.

I didn't quote any verses to the doctor while we talked, but he does know that my faith is what I cling to in this battle with pain. It's the unwavering faith that comes with the promises given over and over again. Philip. 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” James 5:16 “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
It's these promises and so many others that get me through. Please pray with us as we hurry up and wait again. Pray that God will give us healing whether through this procedure or something else. Ask him to grant us contentment and peace in the waiting and ask that we glorify Him in all we say and do.

Thanks for listening and praying. Thanks for being there for our little family and for helping us to remember that we are a part of God's family and it is more numerous than we know and that faithful men and women pray for us daily. We feel those prayers. They are what God uses to see us through those long, dark hours of pain. May our Heavenly Father bless all us, and may we look to Him as we prepare and anxiously await His return.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Time of Doubt

Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality

Working hard tonight on v,12. The first part to be joyful in hope...I've got that part figured out for the long term, but the short term is more of a struggle. Who really wants to smile when pain seems to be the status of every single part of the day. I can find joy in the small things like a husband who does laundry (actually that's a big one), my young man who chose to hit the punching bag outside after school instead of in his room, and that supper was easy enough to put together w/o much effort.

The hardest part is being patient in affliction. I'm tired of waiting, tired of fighting a battle that feels never ending. I'm ready to have answers. I'm ready to find something that makes all of this just so much easier. It's been a long 16 years! Time spent in waiting rooms, time spent in the dark awake because the pain is ugly, time spent sitting at home instead of next to my guys as they worship the Father at church but I'm stuck at home because I hurt. I'm tired of the guilt and the questions that come with how chronic pain affects our whole family. I tired of some small part of me deep down inside wondering if maybe just maybe I'm not praying the right way...is my faith not really strong enough.

The faithful in prayer part...well I think I've got that covered. I know that God is carrying me through this journey. I know that it is His strength that gets me out of bed, sets up school assignments, and carries out some small tasks around the house. It's his strength that got us out of the house just to ride down the rode a little while with the radio on and the sun shining in on us. I know that the Son lights the way every day.

Yet the Deceiver, he's been busy too. He's the one who fills up that section deep down inside with guilt and doubt. He's the one who whispers, “It's been a rough pain day take it easy don't push, you'll make the next service.” He's the one who I allow to take my contentment for the day and bury it in frustration over what I can't do.

So am I losing this battle...maybe, will I lose the war... NO!!! I can do what I need to do. I can count my blessings. I can notice the beauty that the Father puts in front of me at every turn. I can know without a doubt that the war has already been won. Christ has done that already, it's in the knowing that it's not about being the best Mama in the world or that person who tries to smile even though everything seems to be falling apart. It means I finish the race to the best of my ability giving God the glory and honor no matter the difficulty.

It's knowing that hating the bad things in this world is okay, because Christ said so. It's knowing that I find the good things and I tie my knot there and cling to them. It means I love even those I don't feel much like loving because God loves me at my ugliest. It's in realizing that I have a spiritual family that encompasses more people than I realize. It's knowing there are precious people who are sent my sweetheart's way who listen to all he has to bear and then takes the time to pray for him, for me, and for the pain to leave us be. It's in the recognition that we are not alone not ever. It's knowing that as long as I take care of my little section of the world, all those doubts and frustrations they don't have to control just how I look at the world.

God created me and you to be his daughters. He made me a daughter of the ruler of the Most High King. He made me special so that there has never been anyone just like me before or after my time here. He has promised me a room in His house for all eternity...all I have to do is finish the race. He doesn't ask me to do it a top speed, sometimes it's a shuffle, a step, or sometimes it's all Him carrying me just because I am His and He is mine.

He may not ask me to give money or to open my filthy house to visitors, but He does ask me to open my heart and share just what I've learned from pain. It's opening my heart and taking a chance of being judged instead of loved. It means that I comfort those who may just be starting this difficult path, or maybe it's allowing someone to see the flaws in me, so that they can see the perfection of the Creator. Hospitality takes on new meaning when many days are spent inside a dark house. It means admitting to my tween-aged son that I really blew it. It means apologizing for curt replies to questions asked. It means encouraging even when I don't feel like encouraging. It's accepting that I have no control over some of the things in my life, and changing the ones I can. It's taking the time to remember that I don't always say what I think I said because that's just how the headache works. It's trying to remember to use a kind tone when asking for things to get done around the house. It may even be remembering what it was like to be the little kid who felt like she carried the world, and that my big boy may feel that way too.

It means I get still and let God have His way with me. It means finding ways to store up scripture and songs in a brain that has a hard time remembering just what this sentence was supposed to say. It's allowing the Holy Spirit to take my petitions to the Savior who will then take them to the Father. It's believing in the hope of today and tomorrow and eternity. It's taking life moment by moment and being thankful for the opportunity.

Father help me to keep my eyes on you, my heart open to those around me, and to give forgiveness even when it hasn't been asked for. Help me to be who you want me to be, help me not to be jealous and help me not to focus on the can'ts but the cans. Thank you for being with me in all things. In your son's name, Amen.