Finding Joy

IMG-1459It snowed all day yesterday and last night. The ground is covered with a few inches and ice underneath. I love snow. I love the way it smells. I love the way everything feels so clean and beautiful outside. I love how it makes the house feel cozy. Snow is one of my favorite things.

When I was younger, growing up my parents belonged to a ski club. We skied many winters and spring breaks. I loved to ski. I loved the feeling of the wind blowing around me and the lines my ski’s made in the snow. I loved the beauty of the the mountain while riding up the chair lift. Now, I often think God gave me that magical time because he knew I’d be here, unable to ski. I am so thankful I got to experience it.

My son on his way to the bus stop this morning took two steps out on the porch then threw himself down on the ground and started making a snow angel. I of course was worried that his pants would be wet and cold quickly brushed him off and promised we’d play in the snow after school. He was so joyful, so excited to see all the snow. It made me happy that he was happy about the snow.

So many things went wrong this morning. My oldest daughter who has forgotten where her locker at school is didn’t want to wear a coat because she didn’t know where to put it. My husband’s car wouldn’t start and we had to jump it. He was over an hour late to work. I had to find hats and gloves and boots for everyone. Lots of things went wrong. But my son only saw a beautiful snowy day and that brought me joy.

It’s all about perspective. Sometimes we get caught up in all the negative and we miss that the same situation can also have joy in it. My 11 year-old daughter is in her next play, Frozen, and tec week is next week. I have a pile of sewing to do for the play and I ran out of some things so I will have to drive in this weather later to the store. Her first band concert is also today.  I will have to work hard at not dreading it. My 5 year-old struggles with the noise of the concert and hasn’t been able to sit through one. We often take turns sitting in the hallway with him. I will remember how pretty the music sounds and find joy in my daughter playing. I will have to change my perspective. As I sew I will not think about how much is to be done but in the joy of the play and how many hearts it will touch. How happy my daughter is to have the plays to be in. What is going on in your life right now that is hard to find the joy in? How can you change your perspective? Can you share in the comments below?

Have A Plan B

IMG-1402Happy Halloween. I love this holiday. I love kids and dressing mine up, making their costumes and then seeing their excitement at all the candy makes me happy. I understand Halloween is a gray area for some Christians, some don’t celebrate it, some speak against it and all that is fine. I had a God moment a few years back when I was struggling with this when I began to see it as a way to love on my neighbors and their kids. So with joy I decorated up my house, put on a costume and passed out candy. A year later the Holy Spirit gave me the idea to put stickers on the candy that simply said “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” My family thought I was crazy and my husband thought no one would eat our candy but I did it anyway. A few people said things on Facebook about it but that was it and none of it was negative. I haven’t done it in a few years but God put it on my heart to do it again this year. When my middle daughter asked my why I was doing it I told her, I want everyone to know their loved, and that’s it. When were in a wake of another suicide/homicide in the news, where theirs pain in every house, I just want people to know their loved.

But this Halloween is not gearing up to a beautiful night of roaming the neighborhood, no it’s raining outside. They’ve predicting a mixture of snow and rain at tricker-treating time. It’s going to be cold and rainy and a little disappointing.  So what do you do when your disappointed? Some of the best advice I’ve ever had is to have a plan B.

Plan B’s help with the anxiety of plan A not going smoothly. It also helps derail when the anxiety kicks in if plan A falls apart. I struggle with driving, especially on days like this. I spent many days afraid to go somewhere I’d really like to go simply because I was afraid I’d make it there and then be unable to drive myself home. So if my husband or parents couldn’t take me somewhere I simply wouldn’t go. I became captive to my fear because I had no plan B. I told this to my therapist about a year ago. He told me to come up with a plan B. What do you do if you can’t drive any father? My plan B was park the car, call an Uber and get the car the next day. Suddenly all the anxiety I had about driving vanished. I have a plan B. I haven’t needed to use it yet but I have one.

My plan B for Halloween was last night. A nearby church had a trunk or treat inside so I dressed my 5 year-old up, donned some Minnie Mouse ears and went with a friend. It was loud, chaotic and busy but my son got to go trick or treating. If tonight is just one pass down the block for him it will be okay, there was a plan B.

It’s important to remember our plans our now our own. “A  man’s mind plans his way (as he journey’s thought life) but the Lord directs his steps and establishes them.” Proverbs 16:9 AMP. Sometimes your plan B may be just the way God wants you to go.

 

Broken Expectations

bridge over a river
Photo by Chait Goli on Pexels.com

As of tomorrow I have been walking around without a boot for about two weeks. I feel like I’ve gone backward instead of forward. I can drive but its more painful than before surgery and frankly I’m not driving very much. My foot gets tired very easily and I have to take a lot of breaks or by 5 p.m. I’m just done walking for the day. Making dinner for my family of 5 seems to be the hardest task. I just can’t stand in front of the stove very long. We have had these beautiful breathtaking fall days and I just want to go hike or apple picking or pumpkin picking or walk the zoo, but I know I won’t make it very far. Overall it’s frustrating.

I didn’t expect this. I expected to feel better after surgery. I expected to do better after surgery. I didn’t anticipate a backward slide. I didn’t realize I would have to train my muscles to walk all over again. Things just aren’t working out according to my plan. Do things ever just not work out according to your plans?

I was told in therapy a long time ago that my expectations tend to be too high, for myself and for other people. That if I lowered my expectations my anxiety that occurred when things didn’t go my way would be less. But I’m still that girl of big expectations and I expected a big turnaround from God with this surgery. I admit I’m a little disappointed. And it’s shown, I’ve been grumpy and down all week.

So what do we do when we are disappointed? When our expectations of what we thought God would do or even of who He is is not met? When the things we don’t expect happen and they are the things of our nightmares? When cancer, death, heart attacks, divorce shakes our expectations of what our life looks like, what our God looks like. I can assure you your not abandoned. God is unchanging, He didn’t leave, He didn’t stop loving you and He doesn’t punish you. You my friend are about to be pruned a little and encouraged to grow a little. You see God uses these situations to transform us a little more into who he wants us to be.

When we become a Christian someone should tell us. Change your expectations. That verse, “2 Corinthians 5:7 “for we walk by faith, not by sight (living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises), we are of good courage and confident hope…” , honestly is basically saying that. If your walking by faith and the Holly Spirit your life is not going to go as you planned. Your not in charge anymore and it’s as wonderful as it is terrifying. We become outward examples with outward problems and God has us face them not to see what we will do but as someone told me recently, We will see what we do.

My expectations haven’t been met, but that’s okay. I believe in the end I’ll be in better shape. I can’t see it right now, but I have faith. Is there something that God is asking you to have more faith about?

My dad had cancer in his lymph nodes about 9 years ago. I was devastated and so afraid of loosing him. I felt like someone had taken the floor away from me and I was just falling. But God was good, and he was good to me. He provided another safe place for me to take my 2 year old daughter while I worked. I worked five minutes from my parents house so every lunch hour I was able to spend with them. I helped feed my dad who had a G-tube because he couldn’t swallow. God also answered our prayers and healed him. He has been cancer free since. My dad is not the same person, he’s more patient, kinder, more loving. He was always a good Dad but God used that time in our lives to change all of us for the better. My dad is a healthy man, never smoked or drank, we did not expect him to get sick. God is working in your hard places today too, in your broken expectations. A backward slide just means my journey’s not done yet.

Bye Bye Boot, Hello Shoes

Freedom! I was released of walking in my heavy 3D Cam Cast Walker boot yesterday and graduated to tennis shoes. It feels weird to walk on my foot without any support but I am so excited to be at this point in my journey. The doctor also said yesterday that I could drive, so hopefully I’ll be driving by the end of the week. That means soon I can go get my hair cut. Something I need badly!

Frozen, jr. My daughters latest play with CGFFA is in full swing and I have been busy altering dresses by hand. I’m going to try out the sewing machine today or tomorrow depending on how my foot is doing. I’m excited about this show which runs November 22 though the 25 at T.C. Howe High school in Indianapolis.

I am having new pains in my foot as I walk with this new freedom but I’ve been assured they will go away as I gain strength and my foot continues to heal. Healing is such a long process. I’ve often dreamed and prayed that God  would just going zap and I’d be healed but I’ve learned two important truths in not being healed that way.

First, If God can use others to bring you to healing He will do it if His glory can be seen in it. God is a God of relationships. He wants to use what your going through for purposes bigger than you. If he can lead you to healing with the help of doctors and nurses he will. He will put to test your faith in that so that you can be a testimony of Him. He will use your story to teach both you and them.

The second truth I have learned is that God is more interested in healing whats going on inside your heart than your body. He wants you to learn how to trust Him completely and when your all well that’s a hard thing to do. When your sick or sore or your body just isn’t working right you murmur prayers of “God help me” a lot more often.  I heard my close friend put it a wonderful way yesterday. “If your going through something painful it sometimes means that God is spending a little bit more time on you, because He loves you that much.” God cares about our character and growth comes though painful experiences,  healing is one of them.

God challenged me to post on facebook the progress of this surgery. Something I did not do when I went through my ruptured disc two years ago. Very few people found out about that injury when it happened. I was too emotional to share my story then. Its been hard for me to post about my foot surgery. Its easy for me to post about my kids, the plays, Karitos but when I have to post about myself it is really hard for me to do. God gives us hardships so we can relate to those who are having hardships around us. I have been surprised how many people I know who have said, oh I went through foot surgery too. I have also been surprised how many friends I have who are about to go through a surgery this month. God’s timing is amazing. He knows when we need to encourage each other and when we need encouragement.

Are you facing something hard like a surgery? Have you walked through your own healing process? Share your story in the comments below.

The Purpose of Pain

I feel lead to say a few things about pain in general. I have recently been reintroduced to the idea that we have pain in our lives only because of sin and if we live a  sin free life we will live a mostly pain free life. That if you have pain in your life you need re-examine how you are living and figure out where you are sinning and repent. That pain in and of itself is God’s way of telling you your sinning and you need to change.

Although I agree that some pain does directly come from sin, for example a painful divorce can come from adultery in the marriage, you get drunk you’ll have a hang over the next day and I concur that this kind of pain should be avoided, I in no way support the idea that by living a sin free life you will live a pain free life.

I can think of many examples in the Bible where someone has gone through a painful experience at no cause of their own. I believe that pain in and itself is a tool that God uses to test and grow us. When pain, in any form, spiritual, physical or emotional, comes into your life it is God’s way of calling us to attention. His way of drawing us closer to Him so we can learn more of Him. One of my favorite quotations form C. S. Lewis is from his book the Problem with Pain,

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain, it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

In the old testament the story of Job greatly illustrates my point. Job’s sufferings were not caused by any sin he committed. It is made quite clear in the first chapter starting in verse 13 that Satan was allowed to test Job. Job’s cattle, children, and health was taken from him. He suffered physical pain, grief, and financial pain.  His friends came and sat with him and his friend Eliphaz the Temanite made the above argument. He says in Job 4 verse 8-9 “As I have seen those who plow wickedness and those who sow trouble and harm harvest it. By the breath of God they perish and by the blast of His anger they are consumed.” Eliphaz is convinced that Job’s suffering is brought on by a sin he has committed.

Job knows he is righteous and he has to defend himself against all three of his friends and his wife. What I find interesting is what Marlo Schalesky says about Job in her book Wrestling with Wonder. “His friends, who have sat with him silently for seven days, are eager to offer their answers. For thirty-four long chapters they attempt to explain to Job why God has done this to him. And for thirty-four long chapters, Job knows their answers are wrong…But still like so many of us, he continues to cry out various poetic versions of “Good Grief, what did I do to deserve this? God, why is this happening to me?”  Schalesky points out next that God never answers Job’s question of why. Instead He spend the next 4 chapters describing who He is. God uses Job’s pain to draw him closer and allow him to discover the type of God we serve. Has he done that in your pain?

I’ve asked why a lot in the past two years, I blamed myself until my therapist told me something as simple as a sneeze could rupture your disc if it was compounded and not treated. I have come to solution that I did everything I could to get well when my back was sore. I could not have prevented my fall that caused my compressed disc. God knew way before I was born that this was going to happen. It was written in my story.  Did I make mistakes in the mist of the accident, yes but was it caused by sin in my life. I don’t think so. Just like when my friend had numerous miscarriages I knew it was not her fault. Like when my father had cancer I didn’t blame him. Hardships and pain come for everyone.

Jesus was a sinless being and yet he experienced a great deal of pain, and I’m not talking about just the cross. We know Joseph passed away sometime in his youth. That brings grief. He spent his childhood at refugee in Egypt in hiding. That brings the uncomfortable pain of fear. He caused pain too, to his parents at age 12 when he stayed behind at the temple instead of traveling home with them. For three days Mary and  Joseph searched for Jesus. The pain and fear of loosing your child.

In her book Wrestling with Wonder Schalesky poses the question “Would Jesus, who embodies the character of God in human form, ever intentionally cause us pain?” And I ask did he shy away from pain in his own life?  Schalesky goes on to say “He told his followers they would have to eat his flesh and drink his blood which distressed so many that “from this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” See John 6:66.  Jesus didn’t shy away from pain or stand in the way of it for others. He understood that sometimes walking through pain is what builds us up, pulls us closer to His father.

  Schaesky argues “When God causes us pain, its not an oops but rather an opportunity to encounter him more genuinely to see him for who he truly is.”

My final example is that of Paul. Paul suffered greatly once he became an apostle. Jailed, stoned, persecuted, shipwrecked, bitten by a poisonous snake and imprisoned and he had an unknown thorn in his side. He also wrote the most profound letters about his pain. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8.

When asking God to take away the pain in his side. God never took the pain away he instead told Paul. “My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Paul knew pain, and He rejoiced despite it, gladly boasted in it, and contently weathered it.  He reminds us that pain should never be a stopping point. A resting place. God has taken the uncomfortable to the devastating to and turned it into a tool that allows us to see who He is intimately.

So no blaming here. Where your pain is coming from is not really the point. Could you live a less painful life without sin, sure you could. But that is no guarantee.  If pain is fertilizer for your growth do you really want to live a life without it?  Allow the pain you feel to pull you closer to God not further away and in that pain you will discover who God really is.

 

Thankful for Improvement

In my last post I wrote about my surgery that I am still recovering from. After seeing the Doctor last Tuesday I was released to walk in the boot. I spent a week with a new freedom of being able to go to different rooms and down stairs. This past Tuesday I was given a further freedom as my bandages came off permanently and 11 of my 15 stitches were taken out.

The doctor put band-aids over the remaining four stitches and gave me a compression sock to wear. I am now able to wash my foot and shave my leg! Something I did gladly this morning. I still have to wear the boot when I walk but I’m hoping next week that will be gone too.

I think about how much I have learned to be grateful in this journey. I can remember in my college speech team years wearing the biggest blockiest heels I could find and walking around the college campus’s, too proud to put tennis shoes on between rounds. Now, wearing only tennis shoes for the past two years might be my penance, but the gratefulness I feel when I am able to walk again. The joy I receive when tired and hurting I had made it 3 miles on my birthday and 6 miles on vacation. The hope I have that as I heal I  will be able to walk further, drive further and feel more normal.

I am so grateful I will be able to walk normal again, even if its not today I know it will be soon.

 

Recovery, Pain in Healing

IMG-1093I had surgery on September 5. Today is September 16 and it is the first day I have been able to successfully sit at a computer and process it all. I was very afraid before the surgery of the after I am living in now. The day of the surgery is a blur but I remember God kept me calm on the way to the surgery. I started to panic once my IV was in and the doctor was kind enough to begin sedation before I became to upset.

Waking up from the surgery I cried, the nurse said it was the anesthesia but I remember the guilt I felt of not knowing the trial I was about to put my family through. That was 10 days ago and we have survived. My husband, David, has been wonderful caring for me and I have wonderful friends who have brought food, flowers and one who is willing to sit with me during the day so I’m not alone.

On my vision board there is a quote I cut out of a magazine, “Some battles are best fought with an army of friends.” and I feel like that is how this battle has been fought so far. I am so thankful for the friends and family God has surrounded me with.

It has been hard and a times stressful to sit in one place unable to get up and help, or solve a problem. I have a great understanding for someone who cannot get up and help, who is dependent on others to get around. It is hard to sit and face a feeling of helplessness even if it is just temporary. I am thankful I have a God I can pray to in those times and that he does solve the problems.

Tomorrow is my second doctor appointment and if all goes well I will be able to begin to walk on my foot with the help of a boot and crutches. Until now I have not been able to put weight on my foot. I’m praying all my stitches are still in tact and look good so that I can have this clearance. I have a rather large incision up my ankle and another between my big toe and second toe. Most of my pain is in my ankle although I do have nerve pain in my toes and foot at night right around bedtime.

The doctor said my nerve did not look good when he released it. He said most nerves are a shiny white, mine was a dull yellow and frayed in places. I refuse to be discouraged by this. I know my God can heal and now that the compression is off my nerves I am still asking for healing. Hopefully they will begin to slowly repair themselves.

A friend reminded me of a beautiful song my daughters danced to a few years ago at church. ” Beautiful things” by  Shane & Shane.  When I listened to it the first verse really got to me. I know God can take all this pain and make it into something beautiful in the end.