Archive for June, 2012

Starting To Like What I See

Posted: June 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

PICTURES – It was overcast today, so the whole family stayed home. Play-Doh time with my boys was a huge hit!!

After last weeks hospital stay, my viewpoint of my abilities was crossed several times over with bright yellow caution tape. Since last Thursday, the only “activity” I've been allowed to do is walk, slowly, through the house IF NEEDED. Rest to me is beyond challenging as I think about the day passing me by. I'm a goal setter and achiever…don't give me a goal and not expect me to meet it. Resting was not a good option for the hare and I just felt it didn't have much of a place in my lifestyle.

That is, my old lifestyle. The one that determined the days outlook by the number of needs met. The one that thought a completed to-do list meant a huge successful day. The one that just assumed somehow God would prevent me from dealing with the long-term side effects of CIDP, my pacemaker, chemo and radiation. God gave me the warning signs…shoot, I even wrote a post about it hours before heading to the ER! Funny how God takes matters from us when He feels we can't make the best decision ourself.

I've learned so much this week WHY rest is essential for any person, but especially the Christian leader:

– Our bodies require rest…it's not an option but God made it necessary.

– Rest disrupts the daily cycle and allows us to asses our priorities. Mine was out of wack in many areas…and it only took me a few hours to get to that conclusion! Furthermore, use your time of rest to determine new boundaries and priorities that will guide your time effectively.

– Rest forces stillness, welcomes quietness and allows us to really hear God so much easier. I felt like Job did as God just displayed His amazing awesomeness and authority through my quiet time this week. I was too much trying to control my own life before to take notice of His guiding in my life.

– Rest keeps us sane. The mind needs a break too. I was amazed after one day home without needs to meet, how much clearer my thinking was. Less distractions present better focus.

I could go on…but these sharply shoot down my reasons for not stopping. What was I thinking…oh that's right, I'm not sure if I was thinking clearly by that point!

Yesterday was fun. I got up late, rushed the kids out the door, stopped at a yard sale and got a HUGE bargain of boys clothes and toys, rushed back home for new microwave to be installed (the guys even wired it for us…they weren't supposed to, but they liked me! Yay for making our seller give us a home warranty!), rushed to Walmart to get groceries, ran to the school to get the boys, unloaded groceries, unloaded boys, put groceries away, put boys down for a nap, fun student came over to visit, fun friend with kids playmate came over too, kids played, adults talked, pest control guy came, pest control guy offered to give us a free tent so daddy can take Josh camping in the backyard (WOW!), friends leave, pest control guy leaves, Steve comes home, I prepare dinner, kids eat, kids bathed, kids happily watching movie, adults eat, student and I run a few errands, drop fun student off at parents house….talk to parents for a while (good friends), drive home, get a call in the driveway which lasts an hour…and finally back inside for the night. See…not too bad….AND had a great time with Steve this weekend! Sometimes you just need to drop everything and laugh with your spouse…that was our weekend! That's why I didn't blog and yea…family rules over blog anyway 🙂

Tomorrow I'm officially free…but I'm making myself start slow. I'm learning how much more energy, enthusiasm and life I have after this week! Rest makes me a person people enjoy better…go figure!

Pray for me tomorrow (Sunday) that I indeed start slow and honor the boundaries I have put up in my life this week. Pray that God continues to reveal how this new plan is supposed to go. Pray that I am patient to hear His answer and move (or not move) accordingly.

To the unknown we go….

Walking by faith and not by sight…

HIS,

Bethany

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I find myself taking a LOT of pictures, but not having the time to organize and display these as much as I would like. Today, I started my annual photo book folder, which sits on our desktop, simply hi lighting the pictures I want to use in our upcoming album. Currently, albums run from summer to summer, so I am getting ready to design a new book on our Shutterfly account that I will purchase when they have their next big sale.

In recent photo gathering moments, this has been an easy process. Birthday party pictures, birth pictures, bath tub shots, funny candid moments…there were hardly any emotional dips. But then there was this year…Keep in mind my health roller coaster started in August of last year. I guess I had not mentally or even emotionally prepared myself for the remarkable story these pictures would tell. August was filled with fun outdoor shots, a picture of Steve and Josh headed to school together, Caden as he starts running (not sure where walking went)…and then a picture of my bandaged foot. I used my old cell phone to capture pictures of my days…usually to text to Steve. The picture of my bandaged foot was the day I realized something was not quite right. It was the day I went jogging 2 miles in a record amount of time, only to return home to my sock turned red with blood. I had a few pieces of broken glass in my shoe that had been cutting into my foot the entire jog. I felt an annoying feeling, but never pain. I knew I had a high pain threshold, so I tried (emphasis there on TRIED) to bandage it up and move on. A few days later my headache would get worse to the point I could barely stay awake. In mid-September I went into my doctor guessing I had a minor problem with my ear because my balance was a bit off and my head was pounding. That’s when I was diagnosed with having low CSF, which would lead to bed rest, which would lead to a spinal tap, which would lead to the CIDP diagnosis, which would lead to IVIG treatments (all unsuccessful), which would call for several PET scans and MRIs, which revealed the tumors, which led to chemo AND ivig treatments, which led to more bed rest, which led to me getting around using a cane and a scooter….BUT on Friday, April 20th I received the news of a CLEAR scan! More than this benchmark, God has proven His presence, shared His power and embraced my life as well as others with His love throughout this entire journey. I saw this displayed so evidently through the pictures today, I even started a separate folder just for pictures that mean something special just during this chapter of my life. 
I’m planning to share my pictures as a sort of testimony project. My guess at this point, it will be more of a video montage displaying what God has guided our family through over this past year. Currently, it’s a work in progress, but I’m just so excited to eventually share a bit. Plus, SO many people hear the diagnosis of CIDP or brain tumor…or even a pacemaker implant and literally start questioning, “Okay God, where are You?” I missed Him on occasions during this tough journey, but today, it’s like these pictures were shouting, “Here I AM!” 
I wanted to share a passage I literally fell on today during what I thought was the end of my Quiet Time…but it took me by surprise, it actually extended my time almost doubling it! Its SO nice not to have to put God on hold during this rest time as He just uses every opportunity to build me up! 
I lie in the dust;
revive me by your word. I told you my plans, and you answered.
Now teach me your decrees. Help me understand the meaning of your commandments,
and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds. I weep with sorrow;
encourage me by your word. Keep me from lying to myself;
give me the privilege of knowing your instructions. I have chosen to be faithful;
I have determined to live by your regulations. I cling to your laws.
LORD, don’t let me be put to shame! I will pursue your commands,
for you expand my understanding. (Psalm 119:25-32 NLT)
I felt like I was in the dust leading up to this week. As the doctors in the hospital hurried to try to figure what other hurdle I had to jump, in my mind I was so tired, exhausted, drained…questioning if there was going to ever be an end to these health issues! God has stopped me this week and yes, He has revived me through His Word. I shared with Him where I thought…where I would like to be in my life right now and He heard my plan (though we are definitely following His path because this is still not the way I would willingly go). I have asked God to show meaning through my chaos and He has. I have seen His wonderful deeds…not just in my life, but in the lives of others too! So many times I have thought to myself, “I am so alone right now. I’m not going to make it through this! God doesn’t care about me…why would He make me go through these circumstances?” What I’m discovering is that – just like this passage says, I was lying to myself. This negativity is NOT part of Gods Truth. If we know Him, we know that to be True…and we know that the Truth will set you free! I may be optimistic, but the Truth here brings real joy that can outshine optimism anyway and through every circumstance. I have renewed my faith in Him and wow, have I ever brushed up on regulations! I have been living like I am part of this world, buying into the lie that what I do can define my worth! I was rushing in so many directions, I ended the day tired, exhausted, un filled and though optimistic, not really joyful. How dare the world try to define my worth or tell me where I am needed! I am defined by Him, as a child of God FIRST and through that I can adequately meet the needs God has entrusted me with. I’m starting a new pace of life next week, being my body has completely changed and so have my limitations. God has been showing me that even though my life has changed, He has not. His purpose and will for my life remain the same. In essence, the best has yet to come! You see, He has expanded my understanding in so many ways through this journey…this passage just completely defines my last 11 months! WOW! 
I just wanted to share that with you…and thank you as readers, Encouragers, family and friends for venturing through this journey with me. It is far from over and there is so much more to come. You ain’t seen nothing yet! 
AS A SIDE NOTE…Congrats to my BFF childhood friend Lora on her baptism! Lora spent a few days down here in Florida with me and we got to talking about how God can use all circumstances for His glory. We don’t have to fix ourselves to make us look like we have it all put together for Him…in fact, it’s those that come broken, admitting they need HIM that He LOVES to use (I think it’s because God always loves doing the unexpected…so expect the unexpected!). It was an AMAZING Sunday baptizing my friend of over 23 years into Christ! See…told you God wasn’t done yet! 

Short Update

Posted: June 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

****Day 2 Pain-Free****

Today I ventured outside for a follow-up doctors appointment. I never imagined just a short trip would exhaust me so much! I slept until 11:30 when Steve called just to make sure I was coming to reality in order to get ready to head out. The boys were home early too…so I'm sure that added a bit to the energy drain.

My follow-up was so encouraging. I absolutely LOVE my primary care physician! She is the glue that holds the rest of my medical team together. After each hospital visit, I am required to follow-up with her and she makes the necessary arrangements with everyone else (avoiding unnecessary appointments). You know you are in a good place when your doctor gives you a hug! We talked a bit being she was overseas and was not able to see me at the hospital. She already met with cardio and neuro and shared with me what the consensus seemed to be at this time. long story short, because my arteries are smaller around my heart, when I get really busy and choose not to stop, right around the time my CIDP decides to act up if I let it go…my heart works extra-hard to pump the needed blood through these small veins essentially making my pacemaker kick on, making my heart rate cycle over from low to high. When this occurred before my pacemaker was installed, I passed out which immediately stopped the cycle. When this occurs now I end up in the ER requiring fluids, IVIG and morphine. They are looking at a medication I can take if it gets to this point again that will prevent my heart rate from getting to the point that kicks my pacemaker on to lower it back into the cycle. Oh the joys of technology…but this made SO much sense! She also mentioned that my pacemaker kicked on over 153 times, recycling constantly. Good point here is that my pacemaker IS working. Negative point, my body is exhausted from overworking. She compared my exhaustion to those of heart attack survivors. My mind was blown…she did not dare to make that comparison?! I'm learning to notice the early stages of CIDP and warning signs that I need to rest. I now fully realize the consequences of putting my health below other priorities. I'm still on rest until Saturday. I have permission to “work” and “resume activity as tolerated” effective Sunday! Let's see if I can start slow this time (PBCC readers, hold me accountable to this!).

A friend emailed me the picture associated with this post. She told me it reminded her of my blog. Can you relate to this picture? Can you think of anyone in your life that you can send this to? I sent it off to three very important people that have shared their life with mine (hence the importance of authentic relationships). Feel free to pass it on to someone special in your life!

*********Pain-free day!!! First in…well…lets just celebrate a first! Perhaps the IVIG in the hospital went down easier with harder nausea meds and hours of prior fluid intake through IV. Or perhaps God is giving me a break from the rain…either way, NO PAIN!!!!**********
Today was my first completely uninterrupted time literally alone…with God. I’ll be completely honest, keeping in mind that I just got out of the ER just a few short days ago, I was even wondering to myself if this was such a great idea. Regardless, around 7:45 this morning I looked around and my house was completely silent. There were no boys screaming, no toys chiming, no alarms ringing, no phones buzzing, no doorbells dinging, no car horns beeping. I was alone. I wasn’t needed by anyone…except I suddenly realized how much I really needed God and how much rest I was lacking.
I took 2 CDs and sat back in my recliner and woke-up again a little bit after 11AM. 
Rest…check.
I even managed to eat cereal, which for me, more than one real meal a day is beyond enough. So, cereal, before lunch (or in this case as lunch) was a big deal being that dinner is usually my meal that I’m actually hungry for. But I was hungry…it’s not too hard to find things to satisfy that need in our house (hence 3 guys…we have food). 
I remember sitting back into my chair going, “Ok Mr. IPad, Bible app I really don’t know where to start, but I’m sure you do, so here we go…” and immediately my Bible app opened up to exactly where I left off the night previously reviewing notes I had been making for our Luke series for my kids at church. I had the statement written down as, “This isn’t a contractual relationship anymore…this is pure ownership and You own me.” That thought was not for my kids of course, that was for me and WOW…does it EVER define my last year!
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I was reviewing a part of my lesson that I was preparing for last Sunday that, coincidently, never happened. I was going to hit on forgiveness with the kids and just let that speak for itself (I believe I need a reinforcement on this topic from time to time as well) but as you will see, my personal study went a bit farther…take a read and let me share what I got from this read:
Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.” (Seriously…even if a person asks consistently to be forgiven, no matter how bad they hurt you or those you love…as long as they ask sincerely for forgiveness as a brother or sister in Christ, we are asked to forgive. This alone is a message in itself). 
 The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.” (Ditto guys. This would be my response too. I don’t care how pathetic the person is that is asking…if they hurt me that many times – and seven represents a number of perfection which means an unlimited amount of times- I just can’t forgive them. The pain by then would be too deep. God, increase my faith that You can allow me to forgive repeatedly!)
 The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it would obey you! (Well then, that isn’t exactly the response I was looking for Jesus. You see, I was saying I was HURT here and You tell me if I had faith the size of a really tiny spec of a seed, that I can forgive that many times? In reality, Jesus is saying, “You can do that…and get ready, I’m about to really set the record straight…”).
 “When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me’? No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’ And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not. In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.'” (Luke 17:4-10 NLT). This was the section that got me these last few days and I can’t imagine how Jesus’ disciples reacted. You see, just like outlined above, God owns us, period. Regardless if you claim that ownership or not is your choice, but that is the hard, cold, honest Truth. God owns you. Your life was designed, authorized, created, started, thought of, began…you were not a mistake but owned from the very start by the very One Who dreamed of your unveiling to the world. His dreams came WAY before yours. Funny, we lose sight of that when we start thinking that we own our life or even better…that we give our life over to God because (fill in the blank)… He can give me the desires of my heart, He can help me find the perfect man, He can give me eternal life… It’s almost as we mistakingly think that we give our lives to God so He will be so happy that He will just make our lives perfectly ever after…when in reality God is saying, “Thanks for acknowledging I am here but I’ve been here for longer than You have!”. So many new Christians start out their walk with Christ thinking, “Finally, I’ll get some relief and God will fix all of the things going wrong in my life! If I follow Him, He will make my life better.” At least that was the picture I originally contracted Him for. 
So many Christians are in this for the idea that God will make your life EASIER. If that is you, perhaps you should stop reading here and start at the beginning of this blog. Look around you…just because people are suffering does not mean they are any less of a Christ-follower than you! God does not promise anywhere that starting a relationship with Him would be easy! He does promise as Joshua 1:9 illustrates that He will be with us wherever we go. Remember that. 
If we claim to have an authentic relationship with God and if we really accept that salvation offered through Christ…we truly are no longer our own…and that requires a massive mind overhaul. It’s a new way of thinking when you are truly owned by Him. Instead of asking, “Increase my faith” we ask, “Please present the right opportunities and remain close to me through the fire.” Instead of asking, “How much longer will this storm last?” we ask, “Thank You Lord for the break in the rain to splash in the puddles…fill me with Your guidance so I know which way Home.” Instead of thinking, “Why did you do this to me God?” broken hearted we ask,”Lord please show me how these broken pieces fit together to form Your will for me, Your child.” 
It’s a completely different way of thinking. I’m working on it. It’s not a quick fix and as you know, after everything I’ve been through these last few months, I’ve thought, blamed, cried, beaten my fist, felt lonely, scared…life sometimes just does not make sense. But you have an Owner. You are never alone because you are not your own. You were bought with a price, you were destined for this point in time. You are His, continue to serve Him and you will overflow as you experience a joy that surpasses your human understanding. That’s when you know your mind has been transformed, just a bit, to look slightly like His. After all, we are all made in His image…that’s the benefit of belonging to the family of God. 
A book recommendation for those wanting a deeper study to renew your mind…I’m going through “Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer. I’ve got to admit…it’s my first read of hers and I don’t think it will be my last! Strong scriptural basis and bluntness that I need. Pick it up and read with me…I only read 1 to 2 chapters a week, allowing myself time for Scriptural memorization, Study and application…but for those speed readers, I’ve heard people complete this in a day or two. I’m starting chapter 5…I literally hold myself back from reading on…there’s a lot of good points she makes! But you can probably follow my blog too…I’m sure my study will flow to my words here as well. 
I hope your week is going well! 

Stopped

Posted: June 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

Just a few hours after posting my need to stop, I screeched to a halt and found myself going, “Yea…I really don't like stopping.”

Thursday morning came way too quick as the boys were both awake at the same time. I was up with chest pains and they only got worse in the morning. I got the boys and their belongings together, drove them to preschool and then drove to the hospital thinking they could give me fluids or something to get things going again.

Funny thing about hospitals…the second you mention chest pains, you get right in. There was no wait…I cut right to the front of the line and in I went. The swarm of doctors had me hooked up to a heart monitor in probably 10 seconds flat. Heart attack ruled out…that's great. Heart rate was rising, plunging and then rising again…all while I just sat there going, “Seriously, I just came for some fluids…”

I came in around 8:45AM and I was admitted by that afternoon, mainly for monitoring. I hadn't packed a bag. I really needed to get things ready for Sunday. I called a friend to get the boys…it was insane to say the least.

But morphine…oh wow…morphine is AMAZING!!! I can do all things through morphine takes all my pain and cares away! Whew…I wish I had that at home (perhaps that's why it's only there at the hospital?).

Friday was a stress test and I managed to get through it with mild chest pain, but it was ruled that there was no blockage. Heart rate by this time had gone back to normal. In the evening I was offered IVIG…I figured if I was going to get sick, might as well kick me while I'm down! Before I drifted off to lala land I had gotten sick twice, but the really strong nausea medication along with having fluids all day made this my best ivig experience ever!

Saturday I had a heart echo and besides picking up the obvious a-fib, nothing new was discovered.

In the end, my doctor phrased it like this, “Bethany, your body has been to hell and back and you don't even know how to define rest! You treat this body the same as it was before low CSF, the same it was before CIDP, the same it was before 2 brain tumors, the same it was before IVIG, chemo, numerous medications and girl – you have a pacemaker that is struggling to keep up with you! For God sake STOP or you won't be here for anyone to need you.”

And that was my wake-up call.

I really hate letting things slow me down. I've lived 30 years with a right hand and arm shorter and smaller than my left. I've conquered being pretty much blind in one eye and wearing a contac in the other. Ive adapted to being pretty much deaf in my left ear and hearing with my right ear relying heavily on a high-end hearing aid. Doctors are my life…I'm used to being that curious case that nobody has ever seen before…the one that beats the odds and rises to the challenge.

But I've never learned to stop. If you stop, you lose time to make changes. You lose the endurance to get back in the race. You have to keep going, don't quit and rise to the challenge.

I had to realize stopping didn't mean quitting. In fact, stopping was more like refueling and defining your way before continuing on your journey. Stopping prevents running in circles. Stopping keeps your endurance high for those difficult challenges you will have ahead. Stopping allows you to trust others to meet your needs. Stopping paves the way for those who follow your lead to not make the same mistakes you did.

So, now I'm on mandatory house arrest…I mean bed rest for this week. I made it home today (Saturday) and my mind is already going crazy. What about church tomorrow? Do I have everything out for my teachers? What can I do this week? Perhaps I should clean the garage…no that requires movement! I can do dishes (not supposed to)…play with the kids (how?)…update my blog. Yes…this is going to be a long week indeed.

BUT…I will say after the news got out that I was going to really rest for a week, I got several calls and texts going, “Are you REALLY going to rest this time?” which tells me I have a church family that recognizes my inability to stop as well. They have watched out boys, been preparing meals, helping to deliver the kids to and from school…they have my week planned FOR me! I've never been in such an amazing place such as my family here at PBCC willing to walk this road of recovery literally with me…both in the plunging ahead and screeching to a halt…my PBCC family is right there with me the entire way.

So here goes nothing…I will update on my times with God this week. Being that my attention will be very centered, it should be a time of both physical and spiritual renewal.

Keep in mind I have seriously never done this before…don't expect much…and don't take notes either!

Up Late Again

Posted: June 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

Funny. This feels like it has been a time I have missed, yet regret returning. Yet, here I sit. IPad out. Typing. Leg pain throbbing. Sick to my stomach. Annoyed. Tired. Confused. But it's okay…that's my normal.

I purposefully have taken a break from my blog and I do realize I have tons of comments to my last few posts that I need to publish (if you replied, I did read your comment!). I just felt extremely overwhelmed with trying to keep things running smoothly at the house, making sure Steve can study, trying to stick to my summer schedule at church and still make the doctors appointments. I seriously don't know how I'm doing what I'm doing! Sometimes, I just need to stop…and for those like me, God tends to force me to stop…which I really hate.

A week ago Tuesday I called the MIMA office because I awoke to Josh saying, “Oh Mommy, you gots a BIG BIG boo boo!” My ankle was huge, black and just pretty banged up. I felt no pain, but noticed when I walked my foot wasn't facing the right angle. When I went in, I was told that my ankle was twisted and was probably like this for at least a day. Because of my CIDP, I failed to notice the obvious and there I sat. I was advised to slow down, elevate my feet, add ice…a few hours later I was at the park running relay races for church. Like I said, sometimes God FORCES me to stop…

A week prior to the ankle was my new ivig treatment that went over like a bomb. The only way I can explain how I was feeling after this was simply…horrible. It was worse than chemo. I was sent to the ER that evening for fluids and fever reduction. I spent the night by the toilet…literally. Thank God for friends that came to get the boys in the morning…I could barely move without throwing-up.

Even then I was told by doctors and friends…use this time for YOU…slow down and take this time to heal. I think I took 1 day-off….

Now here I sit. Leg pain. Stomach unsettled. God whispering, “Are you going to stop now?” I think I have to. I don't like stopping, especially when I know I will let others down. I think of my boys…Steve included…and how much fun we have had these past few weeks that I've been really feeling decent. We have made pancakes, gone to the beach, drove through the car wash, cleaned out the garage, watched Caden refuse to come down from the McDonalds playground…twice, visited Starbucks a lot, walked on the beach under the moonlight….the list just goes on. I really enjoy these times. I struggle so much with the idea that God, this amazing, loving, HEALING God of ours would bring moments like these to a stop due to my leg pain and balance…sickness ruins everything. I was scheduled to attend camp with our elementary kids next week…now I'm looking at more appointments to determine next steps. This is not my plan.

Have you ever been irritated at God for making you stop? Yet, when we stop OUR agenda, OUR plans, OUR routines…God can finally use us…or in my case allow me to rest so I can be used effectively. I think my problem is simple…I fall into the trap of thinking that what I do for everyone measures my value in life…the more I do, the better person I am. There have been days I seriously get so caught-up on what I need to do for church, the kids, the house, friends, emails…that Steve texts me and reminds me to eat lunch! No joke there! I truthfully wouldn't care if I missed lunch as long as I got everything done that I needed to for that day. I'm driven…yet, that's why stopping scares me.

When we stop, OUR to-dos don't get done (or at least not the way we wanted).

People realize they may not need you as much as they thought (ouch…it has taken a while to get Caden to allow me to rock him again after months of me not being able to do this…you know I'm not giving that up anytime soon…just being truthful!)

When I stop…I feel useless.

When I stop…I feel un-needed.

I think the last two are my biggest fears. Funny. I think that's how this blog really started. I wanted to feel like somehow, someway I could still be useful for encouragement, a smile, a good read…or if anything people would say to me, “I thought I had it bad…and then I read your blog!” Funny…God still works even when everything in our defined measure of success stops.

I'm still not sure if I'm completely stopped…yet, but I'm pressing on the break. Medically, my CIDP is waging war on my body, causing massive leg pain, balancing issues, numbness and lately insane cardio issues as well. I will have a heart cath done next week, followed by another attempt (my final attempt) at the new ivig (the one that got me extremely sick a few weeks ago). If my break fails this week, it will hit next week for sure.

I'm learning so much about myself through these stopping points. God really does use people at their absolute weakest moments. How absurd! I always wanted God to use me when I thought I had the best to offer, when all He really wanted was for me to realize He wanted control. God never promises to protect us from pain, but He does promise a place where all of our tears will be wiped away. God doesn't want us doing more for Him…He wants us and then He will show us where to go. God allows the rain, the lightning and the rolling thunder…but He also provides opportunities to jump in the puddles and dance in the rain. Sometimes God can't be explained or even equated by the circumstances of our lives…but we rest in the Truth that He was, He is and He will always be with us (still wrestling with Gods presence in pain…to know that He can be in the same place as pain and suffering just blows my mind sometimes…the Creator of the Universe, the Righteous One, the Holy and Anointed Messiah…our God wants to be with us in our darkest nights, in the pain that we don't understand and the reality that we on this earth never will understand what He is doing…yet, He wants to be with us…while we are in pain HE wants to provide Truth…not necessarily stop the pain from happening or even reoccurring, but He promises to be with us).

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous? Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged! For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Note that this verse is the final line of encouragement God gives to Joshua, before He addresses the Israelites as a whole. I never caught this before tonight but…notice God never promises to keep Joshua away from physical or emotional harm. God does spell out that Joshua must obey His laws as described for victory…but God nowhere promises that this victory would not come without pain and suffering. Joshua was a warrior and just by skimming over the chapters you will notice that he had his fair share of pain…he lost men in battle, he lost battles, he was betrayed by his own men stealing goods for themselves, he was betrayed by other cities…Joshua experienced pain and suffering as a leader for God…but God never left him…God still used him.

Is it enough for us to simply clinch on to the reality that God is with us…and may not always protect us? Whew…that's a deep one to face…especially for me. I'm wrestling with this right now…fully seeing this blog as a testimony to how God uses the pain and the unexplained hurt put in our lives to truly impact others for Him. This was not my plan, but it does fill my need to feel useful. Funny how God meets out needs.

I think that's enough deep thoughts for one post. I'll let you chew on that for a bit.

Don't worry…I'll be trying to post more soon…I have a lot of catching up to do…and funny how Gods Word really resignates when we are stopped and able to listen. I'll pass it on to you so that you may pause your day and grab a few nuggets too.

No matter where you are reading this, God is there. He doesn't require a resume, but He will write His biography through your life…and boy what a ride.

Dancing In The Rain

Posted: June 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

Have you ever had one of those BAD days? You know…those days you spell “baaaaad”? One of those days where nothing seems to go right…not the little things, not the really important things. Yep, that in a nutshell was my Friday.

Josh woke me up right before my 6:45AM alarm, his unofficial daily duty. I literally fall out of the bed (no fear, we have carpet now) but literally sent Josh running for cover. A few seconds later I heard him whisper, “Sheeesh, all I wanted was my pop tart!” My jeans were too big (a new issue for me), my shirt too wrinkled and my socks didn't match…and by then I didn't care! Caden managed to pee through his outfits twice before leaving the house and I even left the original lunch I made for Caden at home. Got to the office and didn't manage to get much done. I wasn't feeling well…still exhausted and I just had a lack of focus. Though I do believe Sunday is ready to roll. Get to my doctors appointment and I'm told absolutely no improvement. There was no plan B. There is ALWAYS a plan B! Why not this time? You mean I went through the roughest side effects to date for…NOTHING? They don't have another plan? I wait until Tuesday for any answers?

Ditto.

My reaction was simple. I'll go grocery shopping to burn off my frustration. I believe I was in the pickle aisle when I started feeling massive leg pain, stomach queasiness and chills (fever was back). SERIOUSLY??!! I rush through the checkout and I know the cashier overcharged me for a few items…but I didn't care, I needed out! Pushing my cart outside and I'm greeted by sprinkles of rain. I can beat the storm…I gain as much speed as humanly possible and literally, as soon as I see the van in sight, it starts to pour! SERIOUSLY??!!

I get to the back of the van, now drenched, queazy, shaking, thinking I'm about to fall over…and I start muttering (and I know there are others of you out there that do this too…I'm not alone in this!!! Admit it!!). I remember grabbing the drenched, soggy bag of cereal boxes going, “God, seriously? Stop it already!”

Right then, a man came splashing past me to his truck, with the windows left rolled down and a brand new leather sofa in the back (the sticker still on it too!). I admit it…I know I'm completely shallow here…but…I….smiled. Not that this man was going through havoc too, but that I heard him having a different type of conversation…it contained the word God, along with other words…and I thought, “Okay God, well played…well played!” I was SO caught-up in my little world, I failed to look around and take notice that other people weren't exactly having a great Friday either.

Yet…I spent my day, like I do most days…in a constant conversation with God (no…not verbal in most cases…Sheeesh…that would make me look weird!). Those of us that label ourselves as His often distinguish ourselves by our ongoing relationship with God…right? Yet, do we really let that change our “baaaad” days too? The entire day, I pictured myself as approaching my Father going, “It's not fair! I don't feel good! My kids are making me insane! I'm tired of these dumb doctors! I'm cold! I'm wet! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?” Ugh….and tonight while I'm folding laundry I heard, “Mommy I'm tired. I want a drink. Are you done yet? You don't really love me. Why aren't you listening to me?!”

Uh oh…

Flashback….I'm sitting in my van, drenched, just completing a phone call with a good friend, realizing groceries need put away…NOW. Then I realize something…I'm smiling. I blame it on the guy and his truck…but I was smiling. Then it hit me…why should I let other people and circumstances determine MY day? Yea, I had a rough day and my whining has a right to continue as much as the next persons…but that doesn't exactly get me anywhere. My kids can whine and complain, but eventually they realize that doesn't get them anywhere either. So, enjoy what God has given you.

At that moment, sitting outside of our new house, God had given me rain and a full load of groceries…and a full garage. So, I did what any insane person would do after a day like mine…I left my phone in the van, took my hat off, tucked my hearing-aid in a dry place and unloaded groceries from the van to the front door. After a few trips, I KID YOU NOT…the rain got harder…and I laughed!

In a matter of minutes, my entire outlook had changed and I had decided to push the negative thoughts, the negative people and negative circumstances out. It was if God had taken my hand in His and asked, “May I have this dance?” After I unloaded the groceries I did just that…spun around in our driveway, arms outstretched, looking into the dark clouds…and smiling! I looked back at our house and saw Josh peeking through the curtains…he never said anything, but now he knows his mom can take on the rain!

Life isn't going to be easy…like you haven't heard that one before, right? Yet, sometimes I think we wait for people or circumstances to change in order to define our joy or make our day successful. That is, of course, the way the world wants us to think. Yet, I'm starting to see the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness can be brought by worldly people and circumstances. True joy outlasts people and circumstances. Joy that the Father brings to His children just because they are His…and to His children, that's enough to dance in the rain. It's enough for me.

VERSE TO CHEW ON…I actually read this translation earlier this week and have been chewing on it ever since…

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. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NLT)

Your mind is powerful (I'm in a study right now that really talks about the mind being the true battlefield of spiritual warfare). Your thoughts indeed are an expression of your heart. If God changes our thoughts, our hearts, actions and way of life changes too.

So…if you live near us, and the rain clouds are coming, shoot me a text…I'm always looking for a dance partner!