Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Living in pain brings with it a powerful vortex of emotional pain. It seems to suck hopes, dreams, fun, happiness, so much of what makes life worthwile into a black hole. But it does not have to stay that way. You can rise above it and not let the pain WIN.
Here are some tips that help me keep perspective and a smile:

Guard from temptation Be aware of the areas you struggle, and the trigger emotions that take you there. Be on the lookout, and be vigilant. There is nothing like living in daily pain to bring on loneliness, depression, hopelessness, and many other emotions that could lead you to find satisfaction and distraction in places you shouldn’t.

Write a Worry List Sometimes our minds get overwhelmed when one thought leads to another worry and so on, and then panic can ensue. Get out a piece of paper and write down every single thing you are worried about. Then, it’s tangible, not just swirling in your head. I've found that after doing so, my mind rests.

Be honest with yourself and others Talk it out with people you know will listen fully and offer the right kind of advice. But be also be wise about those you share lots of details with. There are many that it is best to just give light information, stay positive, and then switch the subject.

Have a pity-party every now and then Sometimes you must mourn the loss of the things you thought you'd have. Every now and then it is healthy to just “go there.” Just try not to allow it to go on for too long.

Do not lose hope It may seems silly, but make a goal board to pray over and look at. Click here to view the one I did. Always remember that there is a good plan for your life. "Never, never, never give up." --Winston Churchill

Take one day at a time Nothing that has helped me more than living this out.

Do what you can to help your caregivers It’s easy when you need so much from other all the time to just “shut down” and let them do everything. But figure out what you can do and make yourself get up and do it.

Let it go There is so much you want to do and can’t. But don’t let yourself wallow in the “if only” game. Things cannot be how you want them exactly, and that is just the way it is right now. And who knows? Maybe that’s a good lesson to learn anyway. Being God is way above our pay level anyway.

Figure out what's working and what’s not For about a week, randomly 3 different times in your day rate your stress level on a scale of one to ten. If the level is over 5, figure out what it is that is causing the pressure. (Writing down what you are doing at the time and the level will help you assess even more.) Over the week, you’ll see some patterns and will maybe able to make some changes to help you in your times of most stress.

Keep perspective: I have tend to have an idealistic view of life and believe I am losing out on everything. Some if that is true. But it is also true that is there is much to be thankful for, much I have that others would long to have, and what I think I am missing out on is in reality not as bad as I my mind makes it out to be.

Don’t be afraid to ask for prayer and encouragement

Do not let this lick you Choose to happy. Do not let the pain win. Some days you have to “behave your way to success” as Dr. Phil would say. No spouse wants to come home to a sad partner day in and day out, regardless of the circumstances. So choose joy.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


The day in and day out of living a life in pain can seem overwhelming. Here are some tangile ideas to help you make in thru:

Choose not to stay in bed more than necessary Get up, have a cup of coffee. Put on under garments. This helps remarkably to make you feel human or at least MORE human!

Open the curtains (even the door if weather permits) and let the sun shine in.

Do what you need to feel presentable Each person has something that helps lift them out of frumpyland. For me, it’s putting on makeup. Maybe for you it's curling your hair, putting on earrings, or wearing jeans instead of sweatpants. Whatever it is, do it.

Make sure your bed is made every morning Put a blanket on top if you need a cover while you rest in bed at times thruout the day. But if you have to be in bed alot during the day, at least it won’t feel like a sick bed.

Do for others There is nothing like living with pain to make you selfish. It is easy to be consumed by your own needs and discomfort. Some of that is normal, but reaching out, encouraging and doing what you can for someone else in need is good for the soul and can help stop feelings of loneliness.

Watch TV SBolderiously! TV is a great outlet when you need to instantly switch your thoughts or have a laugh. Just be careful to use moderation and wisdom.

Think of an outlet Start a blog (HA!), draw, knit, write, edit pictures or videos, read books or watch movies you’ve never had time for, make crafts for others, take an online class.

Don’t allow yourself to read/watch/hear sad stories It takes concentrated effort to keep from slipping into an emotional pit, and listening to the woes of the world (like on the Nightly News or in stories in Magazines) can unravel that fragile state very easily.

Take the needed medication Pray and be careful to not take more than necessary, but give your body the relief it requires thru appropriate medication.

Prioitize your tasks Each day is filled with small tasks that can become mountains when you are living in pain. First, look at all you would like/need to accomplish that day. Then decide which is the most important and make sure you have the energy to do it. This way you won't run out of steam before the most important event of the day arrives.

Make a list of questions for your doctor You won’t feel as concerned and will be able to clear you mind of worry if you know what you hope to remember in the doctor's office is already written down.

Guard yourself from the “doomsayers” Those people who just want The Scoop or that want to tell you THEIR health problems or stories similar to yours (only with a bad ending.) Literally change the subject, or run the other direction!

Try to stay connected to people I know it is hard when you don’t feel good, but it’s more than important. You need the interaction, you need to give to others, and you need the encouragment and grace that can be found in other people.
Here’s some ideas on keeping connected:

  • Get a laptop and be involved on Facebook. email or Twitter—a community of connection is at your fingertips there.

  • If people have called you, try to call them back at least within the week. If you just can’t, send an email or have someone you know thank them for leaving a message

  • Send out updates on email so you don’t have to keep telling your story over and over.

  • If someone wants to stop by, let them. Even if you may feel your not up for it. It just might be the thing to break up the day and send encouragement your way.

  • Write thank you notes

It is no secret that dealing with pain is hard. But it's crucial to not let it win. Know that no matter what has come your way, there is a plan for your life. It may not look like what you thought, but you can still rock it out!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ways to Cope

Living in pain is no fun. In fact, it can drive a person to the very brink. I have lived in pain now for about 485 days, and let me tell you every day of that is written on my body and spirit.
I am not thru it yet, and don't know what the Lord's plans are. Is He going to just *HEAL* me one morning, or is it going to be a slow process? Or am I to live this way for the rest of my life? I don't know the answers to those questions and that is definitely the hardest part of it all. The wondering, the waiting, the turmoil of thoughts I fight constantly. Trying to hold on to perspective. Fighting despair. Putting one foot in front of the other.
Through the months, I've been keeping track of ways I've coped with all this. I don't know why I started writing these things down, but I've compiled the list for over a year now. Little things that have helped me get through. I hope some of what I have done to deal with it all will bring others encouragement and ideas as they deal with their own pain.
I'm dividing them into three categories: PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, SPIRITUAL -- the whole of life, really. Living in pain is serious business, and I hope these thoughts from my journey will help others, maybe even you.
They are coming soon. I have to organize them a little bit and then I'll post.
See ya then!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Nothing's perfect for too long!

What a week! Our Disney trip went really well, and then we ALL got the flu.
So, for better AND for worse, it's been a week.
I'm really, really glad we did the Disney thing. Even though it took loads of work and effort, it was all totally worth it all. So great to just be out of my house, and especially out of St. Petersburg. And I was able to put to rest the little tickle in my brain taunting me that "Disney is perfect this time of year. If you weren't sick, you would be taking SaraRose and having a marvelous time......." And here's the hilarious thing about that--we rode the Monorail around the evening we got there, and at each stop I watched tired families pour in the doors with cranky, crying, sleepy kids. And I thought to myself "I am SO glad we are not getting off at the Magic Kingdom right now!" It's true. Even me, the Disney Queen, would NOT have fun with those terrible pushing crowds, the insane long lines, and a cranky child (and husband). Yes. A good dose of reality does wonders for me! ;)
Just walking around, seeing the lights, getting free chocolate samples and going back to our hotel was really better than all that. We put on our Christmas PJ's and "It's a Wonderful Life" was on TV. Now, that's my idea of happy, cozy, sweet, family time!
That was all amazing.
Then we came home and got the flu. HA! Isn't that just life for ya? That's our life these days anyway! But, ya know what?! Even as horrible as having the flu is (and add that to just having had back surgery and being in pain), the Lord actually taught me a lot. He was right there with me thru the cold sweats, the vomiting and the fear of HAVING to keep medication down. I won't go into it, but I really think He used that 24 hour sickness to remind me again that He can take care of me even when things are really, really bad. And He knows about the details.
So, there you have it! Nothing is ever easy for very long, but I'm glad I have Him and the support system He's given me by my side thru the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

M-I-C....see ya real soon!

Disney is my favorite place in all the world. I'm not even kidding. I mean, a place that calls itself "The Happiest Place on Earth," and can kinda live up to that hype? What's not to love? The magic, the innovation, the history, the parades, the music, the families, the shows, the lights, the imagination, even the Company itself are just super fascinating to me. I've been countless times and it never gets old. Just walking around the Resorts and riding the Monorail puts me in a good mood! So much of what they do is remarkable! Nobody does it as good as Disney! I realize that being as crazy about it as I am probably puts me in a treky-type subculture of "Disney-people," but I still wear my Ears with pride!

My parents tell the story of me as little girl crying on the way to the Magic Kingdom because we were going to have to leave when it was all over. And I still kinda feel that way as an adult. I just love it that much. Sigh. Andrew is baffled by it all, but lets me entertain myself. ;0) He even gets his picture taken with Mickey once in a while. What a guy!

So, of course, even when I was pregnant I had dreams of year-long passes as soon as our little one turned 2. And we haven't made it at all yet. It is the #1 most represented item on my Faith Poster.

And most people know to please just skip telling me about your recent family Disney trip because it's a sure-fire way to get me down!

So, this Saturday we are making an attempt to go. No Parks or anything crazy. We're driving a van so I can lie down on the way there and back, and we have a hotel so I can rest as needed. My hope is to make it to Downtown Disney, to walk thru the Grand Floridian (they have a life-size gingerbread house, oh YEA!), and to ride the monorail.....maybe even see the Castle! If I can do more that would be great, but we'll see. Just being out of town will be refreshing -- a first after 2 1/2 years. I'd say this is much needed. I hope we have a wonderful, *magical* time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Four Words

I'm going to be really honest here, folks.

I'm having a hard time reading the Bible. For about 3 months or so I can hardly even pick it up. It's on my nightstand, but I just can't lift it. It's like the heavy cares of life have made my Bible heavier to pick up. Instead of the life-giving encouragement I used to find in its pages, the chapters ring empty. I have 30-40 index cards of verses the Lord's laid on my heart for this time, but even those I've read and reread with no response, no lifting of my burden. I told you I'm being really honest here. It would be one thing if I never really read the Scriptures to begin with, but I've had a "devotional life" since I was in 5th grade. Seriously, 12 years old. It's a long story how I started daily reading so early, but I mention that to say, that the Bible's walked with me thru more than half my life! It's met me at other dark hours at just the right time. Almost always there's a word in it's pages for my weary heart. But not now. Hollow. Empty. What in the world is going on? It's really upset me, and I haven't really known what to do about it.

But I heard something yesterday and I wonder if it isn't my answer. Rick Warren was on "Meet the Press" (he did a fantastic job, by the way; so proud to have him representing Christianity). But he mentioned the first sentence in "The Purpose Driven Life." Just four words, but they got me thinking.

"It's not about you."

Just four words, but what insight. What truth. And ya know what, it fits this issue perfectly. I think I've read the Bible most of the time for what it can do for me. For the Holy Spirit to have some slam-dunk Word of encouragement at just the perfect time. That the words would jump off the pages into my current situation. That the verses would be fresh and vibrant; the perfect insight for that moment. But ya know what, maybe it's not always about that. Sometimes it can be, but not always. It's not about me. It's about Him. It's maybe even a little selfish to think anything else. Now, I know He CAN speak thru the Scriptures like that (and a lot of the time does) but....if He doesn't, does that mean I stop reading? I've always believed that Bible reading is a discipline. In fact, I preached that over and over to a small group I lead once. So right now, that's what it's going to have to be to me. Nothing more. Nothing less. It's not going to be easy. But I'm not doing it for me. Because it's not about me. I'm doing it for Him. Because He told us to. I'm doing it to learn more about Him. Who He is and what He has done. Not for what I can get out of it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"It is good to give thanks..."

It can be hard to be thankful sometimes, but it is good for the spirit to do so. I'm usually kinda generic in when I say what I’m thankful for (like “my friends") cause I don't want anyone to be left out. UGH. I can be such a people-pleaser. But that's for another post. HA!
Nevertheless, I decided to write out some very specific things that RIGHT NOW stand out as major blessings. Here they are in random order: (drumroll please....)

Dad—he has talked me off the ledge more than once through this ordeal! I’m thankful for his unprecedented wisdom, and that he prays on his knees for me more than once a day. I cling to his faith that I will be well one of these days.

My home---I love my little condo and our community. I’m thankful for the fact that I was able to get everything indoors painted and decorated before I had to be stuck in here looking at it all day!

—ever since I was little girl my mom has been larger than life and one of my favorite people in all the world. She is generous, listens to my woes, is my biggest advocate, is so much fun to be around, and keeps me laughing with the hilarious stories she always has to tell.

A Christian heritage—I’m so thankful that because of my parents, I have always known Jesus. Even before I accepted Him at 5, He was spoken of and was a part of our home. I’m now thankful that was taken to church faithfully and required to be involved. But I’m also thankful that my parents gave me immense freedom to be me even though I was the “pastors daughter.”

Grandma Folsom—especially since I’ve realized the struggle it is to have physical problems, I think a lot of my precious Grandma Folsom. The way she gracefully handled Parkinson's disease for 17 years and told me to “never question God” when as a 3rd grader I asked her why she had to suffer like that. I’m thankful for her Bible that sits on my bookshelf. It is old and worn and is a legacy to her faithfulness to the Lord. Every single page is written on or underlined (sometimes not so evenly as her hands were shaking.) She was the epitome of sweetness, gentleness, and love. And my Poppy took care of her no matter what all those years. Yes, what a heritage!

TV, movies and books
– It’s a blessing to escape sometimes.

SaraRose—My very own little girl! God knew I needed her. I’m thankful she came before all these health problems started. She is a tiny bundle of energy and joy, and has kept me getting out of bed and acting enthusiastic even when I don’t feel like it.

Andrew---Andrew, Andrew, Andrew. I’m thankful he promised to be with me the rest of our lives, because I wouldn’t ever want to live without him. He is kind, faithful, nurturing, honest, and uncomplaining. He fights hard everyday to be the man God wants him to be. I love him.

Facebook—seriously. I am connected to others even while I lie in bed. I can send out an SOS if I am in need, and receive instant encouragement from people I hardly ever see. What a wonderful invention!

Medication---as much as I hate having to take it, I am so thankful for the relief my body receives.

Katie—God knew the perfect time to bring this friendship to my life. I learn from her every time we talk. She is wise beyond her years, listens patiently to the Lord and follows his leading. She’s an example to me. She has been with me thru the long haul and understands when I just can’t talk some days. A true kindred spirit!

God and the Scriptures---knowing that this suffering is part of his plan for me helps me to keep perspective. Following his commands to “live one day at a time” and to “be anxious for nothing” has been just the practical counseling I need. It is the ultimate life line to hope and joy in the midst of it all.

The Roberts family
—Janice is an inspiration to keep moving and choosing joy even after great loss. I have notes from her and April on my wall. They have been thru a dark time, and yet are positive and continue to have fun. I love how they love and encourage me.

Peggy—I’m so happy to have connected with my Virginia mentor (and friend!) Peggy Hinson. I’ve appreciate her levity and insights. I hope to be more like her.

Joy—My sweet Joy, who I don’t get to see very often, but is tied to my heart just the same. She is stronger than she knows, and God is doing amazing things in her life. We are walking a similar dark path, and it is an encouragement to know that she’s not giving up, just like I’m not giving up…..despite it all.

Physical Therapy—it has made me stronger, given hope, and I know God opened up the Largo Branch just for me. :)

Church—So happy for Living Hope as well as a small group that has served us in ways we can never repay. I’m humbled by the way the congregation has reached out to me, even though they don’t know me very well. I can tell they consider it service to the Lord and don’t do it for what they can receive in turn. What a blessing I hope to be a bigger part of some day.

Cornerstone Bank– insurance covered $165,000 and $285,000 surgery bills. Wow! It’s easy to take that for granted. And Andrew is around the corner to pop in as needed. He is loved and respected by his staff and superiors and I am so proud of him.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thoughts from Last Christmas

Oh, Christmas is on it's way and I just can't wait! Can't you tell by the fact that I've already "elfed" myself and it's only mid-November?

But for real. The happiness, fellowship, smells, music, food, lights, candles, coziness, and joy Christmas brings with it is much needed in my life.
Last year at this time I was in the deepest valley I've ever experienced, and though I still have lots of unanswered questions, at least I'm further past some of the hard stuff than I was then.
My theme verse for this time is Psalm 30:5, "weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning." This promise has kept me going in my darkest of hours.
Last Christmas, God inspired me to write a little poem in the midst of all the despair. And I trust that one day I will look back and say that my night has ended and the morning has brought with it inexplicable joy!

Morning is Coming

God never promised bright blue skies
And ease to fill each day
But with His hand to guide us
We have hope along the way

He'll never leave us all alone
Thought lonely it may seem
We search thruout the darkest night
With just the slightest gleam

But slowly as we stumble on
The darkness seems to fade
"Lift up your head," says a Voice beside
"And turn your eyes this way"

We climb the hill and valley
And just beyond the trees
We see what He has been promising--
Joy in the Morning

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Christmas is comin to town!!

I don't know about you, but after the year we've had I am so ready for some good ol' Christmas! I can be such a downer on this blog, so I wanted to share something happy this time! The elf yourself dances never fail to crack me up. Take some time to watch, laugh, and then elf YOURSELF! It's good for the soul! ;)

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Prayer for SaraRose Joy

Here is a short poem I wrote when SaraRose was born. I read it when Andrew and I dedicated her to the Lord. Little did I realize how quickly I'd have to put our words of dedication into action....about a month later all my health problems began.
Letting go of all I want to be as a mom and giving my time with her away to others is one of the hardest things to deal with.
The Lord is teaching me that even when I can't be there for her like I want to, He is watching over her and working all things for our good. Even when I don't understand.
Being God is way above my pay level anyway!

Joy of our hearts--
How we love watching you grow.
As your precious life blooms
May your heart be filled
With the hope of Christ,
And may you come
To know Him fully.
May you always look up
In sunshine and in rain
Knowing you are
A special creation
Never to be duplicated.

May your heart remain tender,
But also strong.
Choosing love
And giving kindness
To those on your path.

May your roots grow deep
And your bloom be bright
With happiness and hope;
Freedom and joy--
All the days of your life.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dealing with the Hope Question

A friend of mine called today and says (not knowing the struggle with hope I've been having), "We're going to keep hoping, because 'hope does not disappoint'." Now, I know that's in the Bible, but I'm telling you, this whole hope thing has me really baffled. I've done Bible Studies that talked in depth about it and I have many verses memorized that mention it, but I am having a hard time with how it practically plays out in situations like the one I'm in now. Is it just the hope of Jesus the Bible says we are to hang on to? Or could it be something as gritty as the hope for healing? As I've said here before....I have very few answers anymore. Mostly just questions.
But I know that when my friend quoted that verse today I thought--I probably need to look it up and see if the Holy Spirit does any talking. It seems more than a coincidence that THAT would be the verse she wanted to share with me. So, all this entry is going to be is verses I find in my concordance, and I pray God will use them to speak to me.

Job 13:15 "Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him..."

Psalm 147:11 "The Lord delights in those who fear Him, in those who put their hope in His unfailing love."

Isaiah 40:31 "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Romans 5: 3-5 "...but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perserverance, perserverance character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us."

Romans 12:12 "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer..."

I Cor 13:13 "Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love"

I Cor. 13:7 "Love always hopes, always perserveres..."

Heb 11:1 "Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see."

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Hope is such a frail thing for me these days. I'm to the point where I don't even understand what it means, really. I know if I lose hope I'm going to go to a really bad place, and I don't want that, but to be honest I'm finding it's easlier not to hope at all. It hurts too bad when the hope gets crushed. As it has for me over and over and over this past year and a half.

I'll give you an small example of what I mean. This is just one of so many others. But it just happened and I literally have tears in my eyes as I write this. Here's some backstory:
My little girl's 2nd birthday party's this Saturday. I've been looking forward to it so much, but I truly don't know how I'm going to do it without way over extending myself. At this point, I am almost SIX MONTHS out from surgery and am still not able to get out of my house much longer than a half hour. Just driving in the car can set my nerves and the pain into a tailspin. I have to lie in bed MOST of the day and the only other chair I can sit in for any length of time is a special one designed for bad backs.
Here's where the disappointment comes in:
I saw that the same store that designed my special chair has a portable version. Not as sophisticated or expensive, but I immediately got so excited about the possibities this portable chair may offer me. I envisioned myself finally having some relief when I am out of the house. A place I could go sit and not deal with pain or worry what trying to get out might do to me later. And I especially pictured myself having a respite place to sit during SaraRose's party (which is outside this year).
My sweet husband went out to buy it for me today as soon as I mentioned it. I've been so excited all day! As soon as Andew brought it home, I felt relieved and so happy that this may be an answer to help me get out, socialize, be ME for just a few hours. I sat down in it and right away I knew it was not as comfortable as my other chair. But I thought maybe it was just because it didn't have lots of lumbar support. So Andrew went back out to buy me some lumbar pillows (two different kinds for me to try). And I try them both. And the chair is just as uncomfortable to me as sitting in any other chair is. This was an all day affair of back and forth, trial and error, and I'm so disappointed I could scream!
And it brings me back to this question I've dealt with so many times now thru this ordeal. Why hope at all? Because hoping only leads to greater disappointment.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Faith Poster

I thought I would quickly share my Faith Poster and tell a little bit about it.

After my first surgery in October of 2008 (the one that didn't work), I was hugely depressed and stuck in bed (I am still stuck in bed and it's now Sept 2009, but the depressed part is getting better, I think! But you never know from day to day....). I digress.

During this time, well intentioned friends brought me magazines to sift thru and hopefully lift my spirits. The silly magazines did the exact opposite! Are you kidding me? Seeing titles like "Creating A Happy Family Outing," "Get off the Couch and Blast Off That Belly Fat!" or worse yet, "Steam Up Your Sex Life!" all of which I was DYING to do, but physically couldn't drove me nuts! I'd huff and puff thru article after article, and end up I'd throwing the magazine to the floor with a vengence and start crying. SO......

I decided I needed something to positive to focus my mind. I decided to make a poster with pictures from these piles of magazines of all the things I was longing, hoping, praying for. And I did. It took me about 5 months to complete, because I was very specific about the pictures I chose. For most of what they represent, only I know the deeper meaning. If you want to know I'll be happy to tell you, just ask. I have the poster taped right by my bed and look at it all the time. It's now Sept of '09 and (wow, I just realized I've had that baby up for more than a year!) now it's just part of the decor! Seriously, visitors stop by and I don't even think to explain it anymore. Hmmmm, I wonder if they've been curious about it?! Surely they were and just didn't feel comfortable asking me to explain. Anyway,

Several times I have prayed about and for every single thing on there. The plan is to take it down when I am finally well and a lot of the pictures fulfilled. But as I've learned, my plans....well, I don't really make plans too much anymore. If it ever happens, it will be a bittersweet day. I'll have a song in my heart that my prayers have been answered but I'll be a little sad too. I've grown to love this little purple poster.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Taking me up on it

Are there moments in life that made your relationship with God what it is now? Here's what I think of in my own journey:

1. Summer camp in Jr. High--On a dark night by a roaring campfire my heart was stirred to rededicate my life to Christ. After being saved at 5, for the first time I knew I wanted to live as a real Christian, "110%" as the speaker enthused! --"Take me out of my comfort zone, Lord!," I prayed as I went forward, and thru my stick in the fire. And when I told Him that, I really meant it!

2. Working at Disney--I read thru "Experiencing God" while I worked at Disney and lived in crazy college dorm-like circumstances. It was a powerful combination, the truths in that devotional along with being surrounded by party-time, all the time. I loved it, what God showed me while I was there. As I read thru the study, I came across a phrase that stood out like it was written in bold: "Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. Sever any tie, but the tie that binds me to Yourself." That phrase became my prayer and I cried it I out to God many times. Even now when I read it I think. WOW! that's an intense thing to ask for. But no matter what I wanted that to be a reality in my life. And I really meant it!

3. The Acting Bug: Doing theater for a living was my passion for years and years, and after college, I had doors opening wide to pursue it. I had thought if God ever asked me to give up this desire it would be too hard. But the only way I can describe how He spoke to me over the course of a few weeks in 2001, is that He painted a portrait and thru it showed me what to do. I had a powerful, life-long desire. Then God changed things. He didn't take away my love for theater, but in a peaceful way that left nothing to question, I knew clearly what He was saying:
He had more for me than the pursuit of this. He wanted me to lay down my talents and drive and let Him rebuild the next phase of my life.
And remarkably, it wasn't hard. I don't know when I've been more sure of what to do, and been more at peace (even happy) to do it. So, before a big performance (where recruits from New York were there), I knelt down with a grateful heart, and lifted my hands in prayer. I told God I trusted Him, and I sacrificed one of the hugest parts of myself (at the time) to Him. I promised that I trusted His ways are higher than mine. I told Him that if this was part of the journey of making me into His image, I was all in, even if it meant the sacrifice of my greatest desire.

4. Living Beyond Yourself: After Andrew and I moved to Florida our life became very real. Meaning real hard! The lonliness of leaving behind a life we loved, and rebuilding in a world so unlike Lynchburg was overwhelming. I literally had only one friend down here in those early days and she thought doing the Beth Moore "Living Beyond Yourself" Bible Study would be good for me. Being very hesitant of the whole "Beth Moore" part of the equation, I reluctantly said yes. Before starting each days reading, she asked me to pray that the Lord would speak. And, boy, did He! I swear, from the time I opened the first page, to the final question on the last, God was there! Overwhelmingly present! I cried and prayed as God opened up my eyes to myself. I was about 27 at this point, and God had already done a lot of life "pruning." But thru this time a magnifying glass was held up to the inner selfishness, fear, immaturity, inflexibilty, control and so much more. I knew I couldn't be the wife, mother, friend, and strong woman I wanted to be with so much insecurity holding me down. So, I promised with renewed vigor that I wanted Him to do what it takes to break me and mold me into the person He had in mind when He created me. I wanted to be a confident, vibrant woman of God and I was willing to do what cross any waters it would take for me to get there.

I'm going somewhere with all this, I promise! I am now, 31 and trudging through some extremely difficult circumstances. And I have to wonder, is God answering those prayers now? I don't know. To be honest, I have way more questions than any thing else. But I do know that I am pushed to the brink. Is He taking me out of my comfort zone? FOR SURE. Is He laying a heavy burden on me, but sustaining me? YUP. Am I becoming me a more patient, mature woman with a story to tell? I think so. Now don't get me wrong, I know I have a lot more living to do and a ton more learning, and I have no idea when or if this pain is going to go away. But it provides hope to know that through hard times God changes us the most. And since I've promised Him over and over to do what it takes to make me like His Son, I wonder if now, more than ever....He taking me up on it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Faith and Family

Perhaps the hardest thing for me about dealing with pain is how much it affects my family. They are walking this road with me (something none of us chose) and everything is topsy-turvy for them too.

I have a husband who thru this ordeal has proven to be a greater man than I even thought he was (and I thought he was pretty amazing to begin with). He's been carrying the load of two for over a year now, and never once have I heard him complain. In fact, he goes the extra mile. Since the day we got married I've kidded him that somehow (like having my own personal superhero) he aniticipates my needs and wants. I'm amazed time and again how he's always somehow one step ahead of me! And that goes double since I've been sick. He truly is a lifeline. But it is hard to be with such a wonderful person and to not be the carefree helpmate, friend, encourager, lover, entertainer (love to make that boy laugh!), playmate, and confidante that I long to be for him again.

But as hard as that is, being a mom just might be the most difficult of it all. My darling SaraRose Joy has stolen my heart, and is growing so fast. It amazes me the little person she is becoming, so sweet and spunky, so full of life. Thruout this long process of surgeries and pain, I have had to give so much of my time with her away to others, and that is hard. I know I'm missing much of what could be the most fulfilling and wonderful times in life. I ache to scoop her up and hold her, go visit Daddy at work, rock and sing to her for hours, go driving and shopping, make new friends, play make-believe and Princess with clothes in her closet. The list could go on and on, but I have a lump in throat so I will stop.

Here's the deal. For some reason, this is my season of wondering, desperation, questions, and giving up what I most want for myself. I don't know why. But I do know I'm doing the best I can with where I'm at.

But all of this has been hard on my faith. The constant not knowing and giving up so much has caused me to face questions. I do not wonder about the major things I believe. Always, always when I'm tempted to doubt the story of the Bible, that doubt doesn't linger long. I absolutley know that it is true. The story of Jesus and redemption resonates too much truth in my heart. God has sent too many answers to prayers (over the course of my LIFE) that could never be just coincidence. I know personally that living by His principles really does lead to the best life. And I have felt and witnessed the Holy Spirit work. No, I don't question the big stuff. It's the "littler" stuff I have a hard time with, like: Does God REALLY care about me? Is He REALLY "good, kind, loving, compassionate, gracious, merciful?" Does He listen to my prayers? Does He love really love me?"

It's these questions that baffle and to be honest, shake me at bit.

When I question, I remember a profound statement in a book I read years ago (God seems to do that alot...things that resonated with me long ago, come to mind now and encourage me when I need it.) It's from a book by Gracia Burnham, a missionary taken captive by an Al Queida sect for over a year. Despite everything she endured, the hardest part for her too was being away from her children. Feeling like her kids lives were passing by as she and her husband sat in captivity. It took a toll on her faith. She decided she didn't believe that God could be a good God and do this. She and her husband, Martin, whose faith was not shaken thru the process, discussed it one night and it is his response to her that I remember:

"...Sometimes Martin would come and sit with me by the river. He'd say 'I just hate to see you giving up on your faith like this.'

'Oh, I'm not giving up on my faith,' I'd tell him, 'I still believe that God made the world, He sent His Son, Jesus, and that Jesus died for me...I'm just choosing not to believe the part about God loving me, because God is not coming thru.'

" Martin's gentle reply was this, "It seems to me either you believe it all, or you don't believe at all.'"

His answer hits me right where I am at. I can't believe just part of it. That doesn't make sense. So I will have to choose to trust that the all of the promises in the Bible are true, regardless of my feelings and circumstances. And that when God says "Lean not on your own understanding" Prov 3:5, He means it!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Making of an Encourager

I received this small article the other day and it spoke to me so deeply that I wanted to share it here.

Suffering is so difficult. It can lead us to feel hopeless; like we are the forgotten.

I've been going thru a very hard time living with physical pain and the emotional turmoil that brings with it.

I've had two back surgeries in one year, not to mention a little baby and a husband I long to be strong and whole for.

It has been a difficult road and I don't know where it is leading.

But the following excerpt helps me to keep perspective. I hope it will encourage you in whatever struggle you are facing today.........

"People love encouragers, and the Lord intends that each of His children be one. An encourager is able to stand beside someone else to give hope and the motivaion to perservere through difficult times. We are not born with this ability, but we can follow several essential steps in order to become capable of supporting and empathizing with a hurting friend.

First, we must be willing to experience pain. The apostle Paul, who was a great encourager, said that we can reach out to others with the "comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." In order to experience comfort and have it flow through us, we must suffer some heartache. There is power in the touch of a person who has been in the valley. A person who experiences pain does not offer empty words, but words of hope.

Second, we need to learn the principles that are available to us in our suffering. If we can view our heartache as a class in God's univerisity that will yeild us a degree in encouragement, much of the sting will dissipate. The Lord teaches us to place our trust in Him alone, and then we can pass that wisdom on to others.

The most effective encouragers are those who say, "There was nothing I could do but cry out to God. Let me tell you what the Lord did in responce to my cry." If we try to escape pain, we will miss out on the principles that can be learned only from suffering; then we cannot be useful to others. Our loving Father builds encourgers from the material of a life willing to be broken."

2 Cor. 1:3-7

--Charles Stanley

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

God's Chisel - The Skit Guys

This script speaks volumes about who we are in Christ and the fact that we are all a unique Masterpeice God has created. One of my favorite things in the world is theater and the way it expresses ideas that go straight to the heart. This skit certainly does that. I hope you will take the time to watch it and be encouraged.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The waiting room

Who really likes a waiting room? They're place of anxiousness; cold and uncomfortable. But the worst part about them is they are made for waiting. "Sign in and take a seat," and wait. And waiting can play with your mind. I've been in many waiting rooms this past year. Sitting anxiously, trying to keep my mind steady, and desperately hoping there will be answers when my name is finally called.
My own life has become a proverbial waiting room during this hard year of back pain and surgeries. I am waiting....waiting for answers. Trying to trust that the pain will go away. Waiting....for God to tell me why. Watching others and their "normal" lives pass by. get my life back again. The waiting room I am in has taken its toll. I am tired and weary. But there is nothing else to do, I have to keep on.
I do have a flickering hope. I am a child of God. I know this. He has proven Himself many times to me. There are blessings in my life I know can only be from His hand. But the mournful day in and day out of waiting has worn on my faith. I do trust Him, but I am so tired. Recently, He doesn't seem to be near and He certainly isn't answering my questions. But my only hope is in Him and in His promises. So I must try even harder to trust the things I cannot see.
So as I sit in this tedious room, I resight the promise that "They that wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up on wings as eagles. They will run and not be weary. They will walk and not be faint."
I want this to be true in my life, and I will trust that God sees me as I wait. I will trust He knows how hard it is. I will trust He is here regardless of how I feel. Waiting is a major part of His plan for me. Why? He hasn't told me yet. So I'll continue to be in the waiting room.

Anybody see a Readers Digest or something for me to read in here, at least? *sigh*

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The need to write

I am starting a blog because I need space to think. My life has taken a turn this year that I never anticipated and it's so hard to wrap my mind around the struggle. I hope writing will help me sort some things out and at the very least, allow me to put structure to the emotions and thoughts that swirl thru my head. I've started countless and journals thru the years and always come to the conculsion that I'm just not a journaling type of person. It takes too much patience! And I'm not a great writer. But this is different. I live in a small life right now; my world confined to being in bed (and certianly indoors) most of the day. So, being on the computer is like a lifeline and writing about what I am learning and experiencing will be a fun and rewarding outlet. Something I can do from my bed. So, if you're reading this, welcome to my journey. Thanks for coming along.