Sunday, January 31, 2010


Well, one month of this blog adventure is coming to an end! I can't believe that I have been able to do this every single day so far! My goal is to write every day to help with my experiment of exploring happiness while in pain - as well as to encourage those of you who might be reading as well.

Today my parents had us over for a family dinner after church, and my siblings and their kids were also there. It was nice to see everyone and to play with the nephews. But I have not been feeling well all day, so finally it became clear to me that we needed to come home. No one else was leaving, but my husband and I said our good-byes and left. I could have felt upset than my body once again made me have less time with those that I love - but the attitude I am choosing today is to be thankful for the time that I did get to spend. So much of this different kind of happiness is in choosing (and yes it IS a choice) to see the glass half-full rather than half-empty!

As an experiment this week why don't you purposefully focus on the good things and force yourself to not dwell of the things that you have lost because of pain or illness. Please share with me what you find out!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hot Water

I am so so thankful for hot water! Today was a very busy and stressful day as I faced something that was hard for me but made it through and am so happy to be done! There is always a physical let-down after something stressful or even fun that involves going out of the house. When I get back home I feel like I went through a washing machine! So, tonight I slipped into a hot hot bath. The water just erased so much of the day's pains and stresses. The warmth was like a great big enveloping hug. So often I will feel as if I just can't take another moment, and then I remember to try a bath. Sometimes my husband has to remind me. I almost always feel such relief for a brief moment when I first get into the water ... I am aware only of the heat - and it is such a beautiful thing!

I've talked about little things before, and I am sure that I will again because little things are so important to the coping with pain. A bath may be a little thing but what a wonderful little thing!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Knowing When to be Quiet

When I was little, my wise Mama used to say: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all!"

Tonight, I feel sad and uneasy about something very hard that I need to do tomorrow. It's an emotional drain on me, but something that I need to do. It's a good thing, but very difficult.

Tonight would not be a good night for me to talk about my pain. When faced with other stresses and sadness in life - sometimes physical pain can seem even worse than it is. I think an important part of learning to live with illness and pain is knowing when you are weaker emotionally, and knowing that it isn't the best time to make decisions or have serious conversations about anything important. Tonight is a night for resting, and breathing one breath at a time.

And there is joy in knowing that the day after tomorrow will come soon, and all of this will be in the past - an opportunity for growth. And that makes me smile...

..even in the tears.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Artist of the Sky

The clouds were glowing - or rather the edges of the clouds were glowing - not like light shining through them - more like the edges were on fire. Not just any fire - but bright, hot, blazing fire. They were beautiful.

I was laying on the couch today when they caught my eye - and for an instant my heart skipped a beat. If God (Who I believe in with every fiber of my being) created such beauty in a simple cloud - then He can be trusted to bring beauty out of my life. Yes, even out of my suffering.

It is moments like these that make me continue living, continue loving, continue sharing .... I trust in the One who makes clouds shine.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Thanks to those who have commented and encouraged me to keep going with this blog! I was talking with my husband the other day about how this commitment to do the blog every day is helping me to think clearly through moments when I am tempted to fall into the pitfalls of complain or self-pity or despair! Knowing that others are out there reading about my day to day (sometimes maybe boring) experiences makes me more intent on choosing joy in every moment.

I am getting ready to pursue a meeting with several doctors who specialize in rare and confusing cases - and whenever I am getting ready to meet new doctors I get scarred. But I just have to keep reminding myself that God is holding my life is His hand, and that He knows what is best. He knows what is going on in my body, and He knows the depth of pain that I can't express. I get scarred that the doctors won't understand what is going on, or that they will give up on me like many have before - but I need to remind myself that my hope is in God - not in doctors alone. He loves me like no one else could ever love. He is the reason that I can be happy - that have hope - that I love deeply. He is my everything.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Have you ever been around someone who made your blood pressure rise just by being in the same room? Over the years I have come to the conclusion that there are just some people who are addicted to stress. They are always running, always doing, never resting, never having "down time". They seem to thrive on stress - they might even say that the pressure makes them more productive and makes them successful. They might be right.

But my problem is when I begin to take that stress on myself. I enjoy(oh how I enjoy!) peace and quiet. I thrive when things are organized and when I can do things at my own pace (which I admit is a lot slower than many). But when I get around someone who is running at the speed of sound I begin to feel that my quiet life is not good enough. I feel like maybe I am missing something, that somehow my health has robbed me of something that I should have: stress! When I write it down it seems so silly! I almost envy someone who has so much to do and is able to function on no sleep or food or peace ... that is when I need to step back and take a deep breath. God has given me such a blessing in this fast-paced world. He has given me an illness that requires me to have a life of rest, a life of peace. I may look totally different than most people in America - but I am happy. When I look at my life as a whole - this is the life I would choose - pain and all.

They can have their stress!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Influence of Childhood

How Did You Die?
by Edmund Vance Cooke

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?

Oh, a trouble's a ton, or a trouble's an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it,
And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what's that!
Come up with a smiling face.
It's nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there--that's disgrace.

The harder you're thrown, why the higher you bounce
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts;
It's how did you fight--and why?

And though you be done to the death, what then?
If you battled the best you could,
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why, the Critic will call it good.

Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
And whether he's slow or spry,
It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
But only how did you die?

I am realizing as I write this blog day by day, that much of my attitude about suffering and having a positive attitude came from roots deep in my childhood and even before I was born. This poem was one my dad and his brother memorized when they were young and they still quote it to this day! I grew up hearing the words every time something was difficult. I remember wanting to be the kind of person that was exalted in this poem. I wanted to be brave. I didn't know then what exactly I would be called upon to be brave against. But now in coming back around to those desires I am encouraged that God is giving me the strength day by day - and I can only pray that I keep my eyes on Him until I die.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Great Big World

Pain has a way of shrinking things. The experiences of one in pain or chronic illness often get smaller and smaller as we are unable to travel as much or do "regular" things outside of the house. Often our concentration is brought to very little things as thinking too big can be overwhelming. The circle of friends often shrinks as "normal" people don't always have time to slow down for the one who is sick. This is kind of a natural part of being in chronic pain or illness.

But it can be a self-destructive thing as well. Yes, sometimes there is the necessity to slow down and allow our lives to become smaller. This can be good. But if we allow it, this can easily turn into self-focus which if allowed to fester can very easily backfire. If all I do is sit alone and think of my own pain it can actually cause the pain to feel worse.

During the last weeks we have probably all heard and seen of the devastating earthquake that has destroyed so much life in Haiti. This is a perfect opportunity for all of us who deal with physical or emotional pain to look outside of our own suffering and do all that we can to help those who have lost everything. There are endless pleas for financial help - or if that is impossible - prayer is never a small thing. Let's allow this horrible disaster to remind us to think bigger and think of a world that is outside of our experience, yet which needs our compassion and love.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Taking Time Alone

I tossed and turned a lot last night - and the lack of good sleep always tends to make me a little irritable the next day. I have found that what is essential for me to handle a new day especially on a lack of sleep is to spend time alone praying and reading the Bible. What this does for me is to help remind me that I am not alone, and to focus my mind on something other than myself and my pain.

Last night before bed I was also struggling with pain, when my sweet husband mentioned that he would like to hear me play the piano. I can't sing much right now, but I began to play and sing softly, and miraculously my attitude changed. It was the same principle of getting outside of myself and focusing on something other than me.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn’t," but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "couldn’t be done," and you’ll do it.

from Collected Verse of Edgar Guest
NY:Buccaneer Books, 1976, pg. 285

I have deep and precious memories of family get-together where my Gramme, Uncle and Daddy would begin quoting poetry and all of us kids would listen amazed at the memory they had for these words and lessons that came with them. This poem by Edgar Guest is one of my favorites. This week I had the first negative feedback on this blog. The comment was something to the effect that if I am smiling and "happy" and others are able to see that - that I must not be "that sick". In essence this critic was saying that being a joy-filled person cannot be done by someone who is really in pain or ill. I have definitely had moments when I felt the same exact way. I believed that my health would steal any joy I had away from me, and that my life was ruined. But I was wrong. I could have let it destroy me, except that I am very stubborn and I want more than to be a victim of illness and pain.

So here I am ... trying. I guess this year will be a good test to see if I loose my resolve or am able to stick with it!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Letting Go

I like to be in control. I guess I always have. I often take charge of something if no one else steps forward just because I want to see things get done and get done right. I have often found myself doing things that others should be doing just because they are taking too long to do it. I like to be in control. But I am not in control of my pain. I never know when it will be consuming. The worst thing is, I don't even know exactly what is causing some of it - so many things wrong with my body but how do they all fit together?

I am in deep pain today. I can't control it. It is making it impossible for me to do much at all except lay here on the couch. But I am happy. I am at peace. I know this might seem unbelievable but it is true. I think the reason is that I am learning to let go. No, I can't control this. But God is with me in it. He gives me peace. I don't have to control this ...

He is.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Not Much

I can't really think of anything to say ... at the moment the pain is making me dizzy and nauseated. I haven't been able to focus on anything all evening. Sometimes the only thing that I have is hope. I hope that one day this pain will be gone. I hope that one day I will be free. I choose in moments like these, to hold onto hope. And sometimes, when I don't even have the strength to hold on, it feels like hope itself holds onto me and won't let me go. All I have is hope - but my hope is in so much more than this world can hold. My hope is in a God who is bigger than my pain, who has a plan for me, who sees my every tear ... all I have is that hope.

And that is something very big.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Realistic Goals

My list of things to do today:

Bible study
babysit my sweet little niece
hang out with my brother
type up something for my sis
email about 5 people
do Quicken for our bills
work on new recipes
call hospital about payment plan for bill i just got
look up websites for my mom
call doctor about referral to specialist

I only babysat, hung out with brother - who helped me babysit
Bible study
some laundry
emailed one person
and now I am blogging!

The lesson here is: DON'T be disappointed if you can't do everything on the list! I am a firm believer in lists - for my personality and everything they help me stick on task and do things that must be done. The rest of the week I don't have so much on the list so what I didn't do today will carry over (half of today's list was left-overs from yesterday). So, I think it is ok and even good to have goals of what you want to get done - but it would be better to set realistic goals and also not to get discouraged if it's a down day and you can't get it all done. Aim for the stars and at least you will get off the ground!

Monday, January 18, 2010


Sometimes happiness and living come in strange forms.

Rather than thinking of the things that I cannot do on this lovely crisp sunny winter day, I have been buzzing around DOING what I can. Today has been fun as I have dug into possibly my favorite resource: THE INTERNET. Yes, I cannot work at the moment - BUT I am finding ways I might be able to make money online through recipe contests, writing contests etc. Yes, I might be frustrated with my health situation - but I can access great home pain relief tips online, or healthy recipes, etc. Yes, most days I can't spend visiting friends in person - BUT I can talk on facebook or email friends all over the world! The Internet is a great resource for those who are house-bound, bedridden, or just in too much pain to do many physical activities. Use the resources like the Internet to change your perception of your chronic pain or illness.

The Internet like anything else can be used for horrible awful things .. it can be addictive.  It cannot totally substitute for personal relationships face to face .. I often hear people criticise the Internet or mock it and people who use it like I do.  But, to those people I challenge you to think about what you would do if you were stuck at home most of the time without a job, without access to fellowship much in person ... the Internet can be a very helpful tool!  Even a tool for very valuable ministry to others!

With the click of a mouse you can be transported past yourself and into education, fellowship, inspiration and laughter!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Doing too much

Sundays are always busy. This morning I woke up and pushed myself to get ready for church, we got there at 10 am and enjoyed fellowship with wonderful people, good music and inspiring teaching. Then off we went to the store to pick up a birthday gift for my 17 year old brother. Over to my parent's house where I helped mom set the table for a delicious dinner. Then held my month-old nephew while trying to eat dinner. Helped my mom do some research on a project she was working on, and finally playing with my 2 year old nephew. Phew! By 5 pm I suddenly was DONE. We had been planing on stopping by my husband's parent's house for a quick visit - but that just couldn't happen. My body was screaming to me to stop.

Today is a lesson in what NOT to do. Sometimes it is inevitable that we will have busy days. But knowing how today's activity will affect tomorrow and this week reminds me that sometimes the most important thing is to say NO and do less. Spacing activities out rather than having many things to do in one day is a lesson that I have obviously not yet mastered - but I am going to be working on it more this year!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I was thinking that if any of you have ideas of topics relating to dealing with pain/illness that you think I should explore on this blog please leave a comment for me. I am going to begin digging into more specific areas in the months to come such as - being a happy wife, how to respond to all the questions and comment people bring ... so feel free to ask me anything that might be interesting and good as we walk this journey together!

Have a GREAT day!


The sun danced across my back, its deliciously warm and inviting comfort surrounded me as I sat in the living room this morning. I was doing my breathing treatment which sometimes seems just too long and hard, but this morning it was different. The house was quiet, and when I started the fog had been covering the valley. But as I sat there the sun broke through the fog and suddenly it looked like spring in January! The beauty of the tall grasses, the pond sparking, the ducks making trails behind them - breathtaking!

I decided this morning that I would take the time I spend breathing medication into my lungs, to talk to God. It's time that I need to focus on something other than the treatment, and time that feels wasted as I can't get up or do much. Prayer is the perfect activity!

I am finding that God can transform anything into something for good. The fact that my lungs don't work properly could be something to complain about - but it gives me extra time to focus on things above and to deepen my relationship with Him. I may not have what others think a "happy life" should be, but secretively I think that I may actually be happier than many without pain.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Letting Others Help

Today I have a chest cold on top of my every-day situation. So I was not feeling like getting on here and talking about happiness .. but then I got a note from one of my "followers" a new friend and the encouragement gave me a boost. THANK YOU! There is an area that is so hard to accept sometimes as someone who is in pain and that is accepting help from others. It is funny because everyone in the world needs help in some form at some point in their lives. I have already talked about reaching out to others which I think is essential to choosing life over self-pity. But there is a flip side and that is being a gracious recipient of the help and love of others. I have have a long fight over not wanting others to help me - when I was in college I was so stubborn I would pass out from the pain rather than tell my profs that I needed to miss a class or ask someone to help me up the stairs. Looking back that is was stupid of me! There were lots of people who wanted to help me, but my own pride and selfishness made everything worse. God has brought me a long way from those days. He has used my amazing family, church and most of all my loving husband to show me that it is ok to allow others to help. My husband feels so much better if I am in a lot of pain if I tell him something that he can DO to help.

When we let our pride get in the way it robs others of a chance to be involved in blessing our lives.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sharing in Other's Joy

As I explore how to have a good attitude while in pain I am reminded that a big area that we often miss if our eyes are focused on our own pain is the joy of others! So often there is great joy that others want us to share in, but how sad if we miss that because of self-pity, or regretting what can never be.

I just read the miraculous description of the birth of my nephew. What an incredible experience it must be to bring a baby into the world. An experience that I will never have. I have the choice to be resentful of my health, of God, of choices that I felt I had to make, OR I can choose to rejoice in the beautiful life of this little baby boy and embrace him with all the love God has put in my heart for children. I am not saying that the things I have lost because of my health are not to be grieved. I will probably mourn the loss of many things all my life - but healthy grief, and despair and resentment are totally different things. I mourn what effects of this fallen world I will live with - I mourn the things that I wanted so badly that cannot happen because of my health. BUT I am determined to not let the pain of things which are out of my control ruin my joy at such a miracle of new life. I will not resent those who have what I cannot have. I choose to love and live and enjoy.

Life is like that - we don't all get the same joys and sorrows - and it would be so silly to compare as if it were a race of who gets the biggest joys! There are amazing blessings which I have been given and for those I will thank God daily. For the sorrows I will not deny the pain, but I will not let the pain make me bitter. Life is far too short for bitterness.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Limitations" = Opportunities!

I so often hear people complaining of how busy they are, how they never have time to talk to a friend, to read a good book, to cook a nice dinner, to journal, to .... it makes me sad to see a world full of people who are unable to enjoy the small beauties of life because of being too busy.

In my desire to focus on the good and not the negative aspects of my "poor" health one of the best things I can think of is the amazing gift God has given to me of free time! I am unable to work, or even do many things that take commitments at this point - BUT I am FREE to do things that I can - like read, do this blog, talk to young people on facebook, send encouraging notes to friends, write songs, pray for people that I know who are hurting, so many wonderful things that are much more important than many of the things our culture chases after day in and day out. I am blessed to have this gift!

Yes, I could choose to focus on the down sides of my days alone, but my desire is to learn day by day the attitude of a happy person in pain. A Happy person in pain. An oxymoron to probably many people - but a concept that I am loving exploring. My hands hurt too much to type any more tonight - so I am off to whatever God has for me to do ... I want to use my "limitations" to open doors for me!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Days Like These

No matter who you are, what your health status is, what your financial status is, what your marital status is ... EVERYONE has days that try the resolve of the soul.

Today is such a day for me. I feel like going crazy with the pain I am having, with the uncertainty of my health, with not knowing exactly what is going on inside my body ...BUT I am convinced that there are good things and that even today I can be happy - maybe not the way the world says but my different kind of happy.

I am happy that today is almost over, that I can view this day as test that I passed with an ok grade. I didn't sink into depression - I took all my energy and resolve to do the few things that needed to be done and I did some of them. I didn't do everything I wanted to get done, but I didn't just shrivel up and give up either. I lived today. I made it through today. Sometimes that in itself is a great accomplishment.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Count Your blessings

Have you ever watched the old Pollyanna movie with Haley Mills? It was one of my favorites growing up. I loved the "Glad Game" that she played to encourage herself and others. Many times our attitude regarding illness and hard times can be changed with a resolved strong will and a simple game! Yes, pain is horrible - it changes dream, ruins moments - BUT there are many things to be GLAD about. Here is my list for today:

I am glad that I live in a place with running water and heat, electricity

I am glad for the food network to keep me occupied

I am glad for Internet access and a laptop

I am glad that my husband will be home soon

I am glad for God's Word the Bible to encourage me

I am glad for conversations with friends ..

I could go on and on - but I hope the principle is clear: even on days when pain is overwhelming (today has been a high pain day) I am choosing to be glad and I think that you can do the same if you put your mind to it!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Living for Others

Today I spent time with my family at a g-cart track for my brother's birthday. I couldn't race because of my health, but I made up my mind to enjoy the day anyway and to be involved in other's lives. I cheered my husband on as he raced. I sang happy birthday to my brother, I held my baby nephew. Even though I can't always be involved like I would like to be - I can be a good sport and be involved even if it isn't what I wanted. In fact, I would have liked very much to be at home with my heating pad. But I was feeling better than I had been, and I knew that I would be able to sleep all day tomorrow if I need to. I am learning to pick and choose things I can do to be involved with those that I love.

A danger of being sick or in pain (any type of pain)is that it can cause you to be separated from people. This is something that we (those who are sick or in pain) need to fight against all the time. I know that there are things that are impossible when you are feeling crummy. I am not saying that our lives will look the way a "normal" (what does that mean anyway?) person's life looks. I am saying that we need to think outside of the box and find new ways to be involved with people. If we don't we risk sinking into the hole of self-pity. When we are involved in other's lives it should make us think of others and learn to love others even when we feel incapable. Like I had said before, there are many ways we can be involved. The key is finding what you can do and being committed to do it. Not letting the bad days determine the good days. Sometimes I am so afraid of feeling horrible that even when I feel ok I don't go out, don't call anyone .... but life is not about fear. I want my life to be about much much more than me and any silly problems I may face -- I want it to be BIG. I want my life to be for others.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Being Needed

When I was a little girl I would sometimes wake up with nightmares and I would call out for my momma to come and make me feel safe. I needed her - no one else could fill that place of need in my heart.

Feeling needed - being needed is something that gives some purpose to life. When you are always in pain or sick it seems that people begin to learn that they can't rely on you and you loose bit by bit the joy of being needed. Over the last 6 months I have had to give up many of the things that used to make me feel useful and needed: my job (which I LOVED), my ministry with he young people at our church (which I had been doing for over 10 years), the dream of a baby to adopt (at this point at least), and more. But I am bound and determined to not let this make me un-needed.

I think what is key here is fighting hard to be useful in whatever capacity God allows you to be useful. That is a big reason that I started this blog. I don't know if anyone is reading it, but I hope that it can be an encouragement and challenge to others as well as to myself as I walk this journey. Yes, there are many things that I cannot do at this moment, BUT there are many things that I CAN do. Rather than focus on the things I have lost I need to purpose myself to focus on the things that I am needed for - the things that I have even gained BECAUSE of my pain. I began an online facebook Bible study last spring when I was on bed-rest. Now this group has grown to 182 members! We are reading through the whole Bible this year. I feel needed to every day read and begin discussions about the passages we are reading. I feel needed to keep up with this blog. There are things that I can do for my husband when I am feeling good enough I can cook or do laundry, just spend time with him .. God has given me so much.

I am sure that if you look you can find things that you are needed for. It may be that you are laying in a bed somewhere and you can't get up. But you can pray - and that is big! It's not so much about what you DO but your attitude in life. Choosing to be part of life even when you don't feel like it is so important. And this is the choice that I have made.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Only a Moment ...

Only a moment
Only a sigh
Eternity is heavy
With Glory by and by ...

These are words to a song that came from a verse in the Bible which talks about how the momentary afflictions are producing an eternal weight of glory. One of my favorite passages in the Bible. I don't even feel like I wrote this song, because it was as if God simply put it in my heart.

Today is a moment day. I get overwhelmed if I begin thinking of having this much pain for another hour ... but moment by moment I can endure much more.

When the darkness is too deep
the pain to great to sleep
Al the night hod my hand
Make me brave help me stand

When my eyes no more can see
When my shame is all of me
All the journey be nearby
Hear my voice to You I cry

And when this life is past
when I breath my mortal last
I will know within my heart
That this life was just a part

The focus on eternity and heaven is something that I don't think I would have learned if it wasn't for pain that makes this life uncomfortable. For that I thank God.

Only a moment ...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Little Things

Busy days. I don't have many of those anymore (which I am thankful for in many ways). But today was one of them. I needed the car to go to a doctor appointment since my husband is working so I ended up taking him to his job site and then heading to our house to pack some things and clean the fridge out. I did stop to watch a wedding show on TV (I love weddings!) to rest in between packing. A quick stop at my parent's house to drop something off and pick something up. Then back to the house we are moving into and I tossed a turkey into a big pot to boil down for soup. Some more sitting with my heating pad. Then off to the doctor. Now I am back home and wishing that I didn't have to take the turkey out and mess with getting the meat off the bone and making soup.

On days like these I feel so tired and sore, but it's the little things that keep me going. The thought of my handsome husband coming home. The joy of clean laundry. The accomplishment of having actually driven somewhere. A warm shower. My heating pad. A quick conversation with my mom. Rather than focus on the pain that being busy causes me I need to focus on the little things during these busy days that are sometimes unavoidable. The thought that tomorrow I don't have to go anywhere all day long is going to get me through the evening and night.

And of course having my husband's hand to hold.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


This morning I slept until almost noon - and would have kept sleeping if the phone didn't ring. I was up super late last night, so the day seemed very short and I was quite tired and it was just not a good day so I had to lay on the couch most of the day. Times like this I struggle with guilt. My husband if off working in the chilly wet winter weather, my sister is busy getting used to a new baby while continuing raising a little boy under 2, mom is always busy ... friends want to get together - the list could go on and on. Another thing that makes me feel guilty is that I have had to quit my job of farming and being a wedding florist which I loved so much. My doctor told me that I really shouldn't be working for more than an hour and a half at most per day. But I feel surrounded guilt for leaving that business.

What I am trying to do to help me solve this is to purpose myself to think that God has made it clear that there are things that I cannot do at this point in my life. This is not just me giving up on these things, it is part of the body I have been given, and I need to learn to live with these limitations. If those around me give me guilt, I have the choice right there to accept that guilt or to reject it. If it is guilt over something that I am just giving up on, that is one thing. But if it is guilt over something that I cannot help, I need to choose to reject it and believe the truth about my situation. So much of being healthy in a sick body is to have right thinking - and this is a big area that I want to work on this year.

One thing that I did today was clean up the kitchen which always makes me feel good (even if it only takes a moment) and I made a warm kale salad with bacon and feta which I invented last night for my husband on our anniversary. A simple dish which I served to my in-laws at a family dinner and they LOVED it. On "bad days" sometimes it is good to make sure that you do something totally unrelated to being sick (I know there are some days when that is impossible) I feel like this keeps me connected to others who are not sick which is so so important.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


It's early in the morning on Tuesday January 5, and I haven't slept a wink. This is not unusual for me, but nevertheless it always seems to make me feel out of place. Everyone else is sleeping (or so it seems) and the air is so quiet I feel like I can hear my own heart beating. Anyone who has physical pain knows that it can interfere greatly with sleep. But there is a choice to make every sleepless night: will I sit in angry silence wishing that I was sleeping like everyone else, or will I make the most of the extra time I have been given to do something productive or even just find ways to rest without being asleep? Tonight I have gone with option 2. I find that when I choose to be angry and sink into self pity that it doesn't do an inch of good and I waste all my time and feel even worse the next day.

So tonight (rather this morning) I decided that I would get some things done on the computer.  I do a lot of research - looking up healthy recipies, looking at things my doctors have told me to look into... look into getting my children's book published. This way if my pain is less tomorrow, or my body gives up fighting and lets me sleep, I can sleep in peace not feeling like I didn't get anything done. I often pay bills at night.

Sometimes I just am too tired or sick or too in pain to type or do anything that involves my brain. So in those times I focus on getting as cozy as I can on the couch and watch recorded cooking shows or Little House on the Prairie episodes until I can fall to sleep.  And while I do these things either getting stuff done or just resting, I carry on a continual conversation in my head with God and myself: "Lord help me get through this." "God thank you for being with me right now." "You can do this", "morning will come soon", "focus on something little" ... and that gets me through the nights.

Now, I definitely don't always choose the right way. Sometimes I am angry at my body for keeping me up, for being in so much pain, for how tired I will be tomorrow. I am so ashamed at how I feel sometimes. I am nowhere near perfect and I am afraid that in the days to come you will most likely see that side as well (I want this to be an honest look into my journey,) but I am happy that I am not angry tonight.

Well, I am feeling sleepy - maybe I will get a little bit of sleep tonight after all!

Monday, January 4, 2010

6 months as a wife!

6 months ago the unbelievable (in my finite mind) happened. After waiting for what seemed like forever (I was 30) I was married to the most wonderful man on the planet. I didn't think that anyone would choose to love me and accept the life that being my husband would bring. My Best Friend knew everything about me and my health and he still promised to love me "in sickness and in health" - it takes a great man to willingly sign up for a life that is different than what our culture calls "ideal". In the vows that he wrote for me he said that he accepted all that I am as God's gift to him.

ALL that I am.

Seeing someone accept me like that has done something in my heart that I didn't know was possible. His unconditional love has made me look at my own life differently, and go further in the process of acceptance of sickness as part of my life than ever before. This is a process that I think will be lifelong for me - and I will probably go through times when I fight against the weakness of my body, but I do hope that I learn more every moment. This 6 months have been healing for me. We have talked about issues more than I have with anyone else, and he still loves me even in my worst moments of doubt and fear. I want to be a better wife for him every day. I want to love him with this pursuit of a higher path in suffering. He makes me want to be the best that I can be - and it is for him that I am on this journey.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thinking of Others

I enjoy watching people. Sometimes I try to imagine what the story is behind the woman who sells me groceries, or the UPS delivery man. Each person, young or old, man or woman or child has a story. Pain has a way of being consuming. When you are constantly aware of how your body feels, it can be distracting from anything else. This can be so damaging to relationships and can isolate you from the people around you. I want to explore ways to fight against this isolation.

One of the best ways I know is to think of others. It might seem too simple, but it can be the bridge between the little island of pain and self-pity to being a vital part of the human experience. Ever person, no matter how strong they appear, has some kind of pain in their life. Disappointment, loneliness, depression, the list could go on and on. When I choose to think of others it forces me to go outside of myself and outside of my pain. You are NOT the only person in this world who is hurting! Stop the cycle of selfishness and look to the needs of others and how you can help them. You might think that you have nothing to give. I have felt like that many times. But even laying in bed you can help others through prayer. I would encourage you to begin a prayer journal writing down the needs and hurts of others and then record how God answers those prayers as you continue praying. This is just one way to think outside of ourselves. I want to put this into practice more and more every day of my life. It is never too late to switch the focus off of yourself and on to others!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

January 2

Last night I had the amazing joy of being with my sweet nieces and nephews while celebrating the New Year with my family. While the adults played games and talked I went with a group of little ones upstairs (the eldest niece said - "come upstairs AliAunti!) and we ended up reading books. I had kids scrambling to find a place on my lap which seemed oddly too small (probably the only situation that would make me want to not be as slender as I am!) After reading a couple other stories I said that we could read one more before dinner - my niece picked up "The Little Engine That Could" and I began reading. The story is about a broken down train who is trying to take toys and good food to the children on the other side of a mountain. Big strong trains come by but refuse to help the little broken engine. Then a very old rusty engine comes by but leaves saying "I cannot, I cannot, I cannot." Finally the little Blue Engine comes and says that even though she is small she will try. "I think I CAN, I think I CAN, I think I CAN" she says over and over as she makes her way up the mountain inch by inch. Of course the end of the story is that the Little Blue Engine makes it up the mountain and delivers the toys and good food to the good little boys and girls on the other side.

I was thinking about this story and what an important lesson it shows for all humankind. We ALL (not just those of us with physical illness) have pain in our lives and things which seem too big to get through. The important thing is to believe that we CAN do what we need to do. Not giving up like the rusty old engine, but being willing to go inch by inch (which is sometimes embarrassing as other big engines go steaming by!) with a positive outlook. The challenge is to not look at ourselves and how small we feel - but rather to think of others (a crazy idea according to a pain counselor I once had!) and how we can serve them even though we don't feel like we have much to offer. Thinking of others is the best way to get through our own struggles.

There is also a lesson here for those who help care for those who are in pain or ill. Sometimes caring for someone who is "broken down" is very hard. Sometimes you feel like you (a little blue engine) is not the one who can help best. Maybe a bigger, stronger engine can help better. But you too can do so much if you put your mind to it and go bit by bit rather than thinking that you can solve everything all at once. Sometimes a kind word of understanding, a hand to hold, a glass of water is all that those of us in pain need to remind us that someone cares and is with us even though we might be "broken" in the eyes of the world.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Pain. It was the first sensation I felt as I woke up to this New Year 2010. Most of the time it is the first thing I feel. But this year I have decided that I want to find a way to look past my physical illness and pain, past the emotional pain and find a different kind of happy. So often people tell me that because I am sick I have a crummy life and it makes me want to scream in their faces because this is the life that has been given to me, and I want to make the most of it. I don't want to waste it in self-pity. I have read a lot of blogs about people in chronic pain, and usually I come away wishing that I didn't have to be in the pain club with people who are just set on whining and complaining. There has to be a way to find true joy and meaning in life in the middle of suffering. There has to be redemption even of pain (which EVERY person faces in one way or another) and I am determined to find it.

So I wish you (whoever you are out there) a Different Kind of Happy New Year!