Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Taking a Break

I try to be disciplined to use pumice rock on my heels every time I take a shower. I take up that stone and rub and hard as I can against and rough part on my feet wanting them to come out as soft and smooth as a baby's bottom. There are parts of my feet that are rougher than others, and some parts are kind of tender and don't like the pumice. But it is important to do it even though it isn't really fun.

I am learning (again) that God brings or allows some people and experiences into our lives to be a pumce stone to our heart that are prone to calloused rough spots. My husband and I have recently ran into a situation that is very much a pumice stone to us. A situation with lots of questions and hurt. I have been tempted to toss out the lessons I could learn from this because of things that were said that were hurtful and untrue. BUT, there are lessons I can take from this situation and one of those is that sharing about health issues is an open door to allow others to want to fix you and want to help. And also, that little bits of things people share through facebook and social networks are read in many ways and that I need to be more careful with what I say even to close friends. Things I say even just about my day or going to doctors may come across very wrong and people will come to conclusions about me and my health that are misled. This situation has also reminded me that I need to be constantly questioning my motives and never allow myself to look for sympathy or companionship in my pain unless trust has been earned - and to be careful that sharing honestly does't come out as complaining or wanting attention. That I need to turn to God more for He understands and He alone knows what I am dealing with - and He is worthy of the trust of my deepest pain. It is natural to want to talk to someone - anyone when you are hurting, and I have allowed my situation of being isolated and lonely to make me turn to friends I have that are also online when it isn't really the healthiest way to communicate.

I am so thankful for my big sister who helped me sort through some of the feelings I have been having and see where I can grow and change and to see where I need to forget what is not of God. To take the good and ignore the things that are uninformed and hurtful. I am definately a work in progress - and I thank those of you reading this for seeing that and being gracious. I know that when I began this blog and even years ago when I made up my mind to not hide the phyical illness that God had allowed in my life, that it would be hard. I never really imagined it would be THIS hard. At the moment, I don't honestly think it's been worth it, but that could just be my flesh talking. I wanted to believe that in my living as transparent as I could before my friends that they would see God giving me strengh in my weakness. I wanted to - as the Apostle Paul said: " most glady glory in my weaknesses that the power of Christ will be seen in me" (Corinthians my own translation)

This brings me to my conclusion for now. I need to take a break from this blog for a while - I don't know if I will ever come back honestly. I don't know if I will continue to put my thoughts about living well with pain out there, or if I will back off permanently. I have been so super happy about feeling a purpose through my pain with this blog - the last year and a bit have been the best for me as far as feeling accountable to choose joy and focus on God while in pain... but I am questioning everything now and just need a break to re-evaluate. You all have been so wonderful to read and to comment - and to be honest I am typing this with tears in my eyes because I have loved exploring this with you all and feeling like I was contributing something possitive to the world ... I will miss it deeply, and pray that it will be given back to me if that is what God wants. If any of you want to be in touch with me personally my email is aliwenz78@gmail.com

I need to remind you all to be careful who you trust with your illness and to be careful what you share and make sure that you turn to God ultimately before any human - He is the best and most trustworthy friend any of us could ask for. And finally, I do hope you all remember that there IS a different kind of happiness even in illness because of the Great God we serve.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Honest Confrontation

Today I have been reading and re-reading many of the Psalms. I am on my face before God after someone confronted me with very hurtful words in regard to my health.  I want to be humble enough to accept even very hurtful words with grace, and to go before the Only One Who really knows my deepest heart and beg Him to show me if there is anything I can learn from this.  I want to fight against the fleshly desire to disappear because of the hurt I am experiencing. I want to allow God and God alone to judge. I want to stand in security and confidence in what I know is true even if the whole world should doubt me.

I knew that in having this blog, and trying to live truthfully before the world dealing with pain would cause people to probably judge me in some way. I chose long ago to allow God to work through what He had allowed in my life, even if that meant that I had to let others in to this part of my life that would be uncomfortable at times. I have faced criticisms in the past about the way I live with pain, and I have had to admit that I didn't and don't always deal with it well. I have had people tell me their magic "cure" or tell me what they think is really wrong with me over and over again. I have tried to weed through advise and ideas and try those that made sense and even some that didn't. I want to be open to advise about my life - even when it is hard sometimes. I want to be willing to seek God's truth in every area of my life even if it hurts. The Bible is pretty clear about accepting instruction, and I take that very seriously.

What I ask of you my friends and family is that you be honest when giving me advise. Don't hide behind anonymity when you come to me with ideas or advise about my health or anything else.  Treat me with the kind of respect you would want to be treated if someone came to you with similar advise. Some of my closest friends and family and I have been through times of loving but hard confrontation which allowed for honest communication and healing and truth to come forward. Please - if ANY of you doubt me or have questions about me and my health please come to me and in love let's communicate. My personal email is aliwenz78@gmail.com

I realize that it isn't my job to make people believe anything - and ultimately, God is the One who will judge every area my life for Himself. But my life and this issue affects those around me, and I desire to live a God-honoring life in regards to every area and that includes my health.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hungry(Falling on My Knees) (with Lyrics subtitle)

I'm really hungry today. After several episodes of pretty severe pain in my abdomen and back (likely biliary pain my doc thinks) I decided I need to try and not eat much today or zero fat - so been eating fruit and jello only so far. And it seems to really be helping! I was sitting here thinking that I am going to be really hungry a lot if this is the way I need to eat to prevent being stuck on the couch with that pain. Then I remembered this song and I really want my physical hunger to be a reminder of the kind of hunger I need to have spiritually for the One Who alone can truly satisfy my every need.

May I always have a deep and un-satisfyable (other than through God) hunger for God.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Two years ago today (and I think I actually blogged the story last year) in a little rose garden in Hawaii my Joshua got down on his knee and asked me to be his wife. I was shocked and so surprized as I had almost given up hope of him ever asking! And also because the setting was that I had just spent several horrific days in agonizing pain and being very sick in that Hawaian hospital. We went out for a "walk" (I in my wheelchair being too weak to stand or walk much) and it was not what I pictured when I thought of how my engagment would go all through my life. I wasn't looking pretty, I was at one of my lowest points in my life to be honest, and I was questioning his love and why anyone would want to be with someone as sick as me. He took me offgard in that moment and all I could say was: "what am I suppoed to say"? "what am I suppoed to do?" Finally he said: :"You could try on the ring" and I said "OK". I had dreamed of all the perfect responces I would have when he asked me - but when it came at such an unexpected time I was totally lost for words. I have had so many people comment on how dumb it was for him to propose to me in the hospital of all places (however I am quick to point out it wasn't REALLY IN the hospital - and that rose garden was such a beautiful place when roses don't usually grown well in Hawaii). But, the moment he asked me I just knew that he really DID love me - entirely and He loved me enough to accept me as I am - pain and illness and all. Such a picture of the love of God! Loving us when we are so helpless and sick with sin and lost. If I ever begin to doubt my sweet Husband's love for me - all I have to do is look at this glistening diamond ring on my finger and remember where we were when he asked me.

Tonight, he knelt down and took my hand again - two years later and asked me to marry him all over again.

Yes, yes, a million times YES!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Picking up my cross - a choice

I have often heard people talk about chronic pain in a Christian as their “cross” to bear when they quote this passage of Jesus’ words:

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” ~ Mark 8:34-35

Recently our Pastor at Northshore Baptist Church, Jonathan Alexander preached a sermon that summed up what I have felt for years regarding his passage – but didn’t know how to express. In this passage Jesus says that to take up your cross you have to deny yourself and the taking up of the cross is an action you have to choose. Those of us with chronic pain or illness know that our illness was anything but a choice we made. Although God uses our pain and we see His hand working in our lives and in the lives of others because of the illness, it isn’t something we would have chosen. When you look at Jesus when He took up His literal cross to die for our sins, He had the choice – it wasn’t something that happened outside of His choice and will. He is God – so no one could impose something on Him that wasn’t His choice. Taking up a cross to follow Jesus involves choice. Pastor Jonathan went on to say that the denying ourselves and choosing to live for God’s glory in the midst of difficult circumstances is an act of taking up our cross. We can choose to live a life of self-sacrifice and God-honoring joy in the midst of trials, and that is a cross we can choose. It isn’t easy to fight against the human and natural urge to complain and to wallow in self-pity. It is a cross for us to bear to choose joy over self-pity, and bitterness. It fights against our sin nature to live a life of joy through pain. Today I choose to pick up my cross and live in joy no matter what.

I encourage all of you to check out Pastor Jonathan's blog post for more about this passage and picking up our cross daily. http://blogs.nsb.org/jonathanalexander/2011/01/cross-bearing-choice-vision-follow-through/

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Barlow Girl - Never Alone (Acoustic)

Today, I found myself playing this on the piano and singing at the top of my lungs (hopefully Grammie didn't mind upstairs ;) ) such truth! Sometimes we do feel alone, but we have to hold onto the truth that God is with us and understands us and everything we are walking through more than anyone else ever could.

Hold on to Hm and fight for joy today!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Maybe, I put too much excitment on my husband being with me for the spinal tap today. This morning just as we got near to the hospital for my spinal tap my husband quoted part of this passage to me: James 1:2 "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith(D) produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." I didn't actually want to listen to that - because I am tired of testing and trials. I also didn't want to listen, because I was mad that the blessing of having him with me during the spinal tap had been taken away. His classes were un-cancelled this morning after our other ride to the hospital had made other plans. So, he dropped me off and I went to have that needle stuck into my spine all by myself. The trial intensified when I realized that I am horrible with directions and so ended up going up and down the elevator about 4 times before finding the correct floor. (note that elevators are horribly annoying when you are as dizzy and nauseated as I am) Then the doctor was not very nice to me - I didn't know what to say, amazing that I still get shocked when doctors treat me like I am wasting their time. So she went ahead and did the spinal tap - which was really not a big deal at all. A little freaky - and all I kept thinking was that I wish they hung a picture or something other than an electrical socket right on the wall I was facing as I laid there with that needle in my back. The funny part was when the needle was in my back, and she told me to move my legs down ... "Uuuuhhh .. WHAT? With a 6 inch needle in myside my spne???" My brain couldn't wrap around that one, but I did it and am still walking to tell the tale. ;) Then, I walked around the hospital and sat in various waiting rooms for 2 hours while I waited for Joshua to get out of school and come get me. The trial got to the crying point a couple times - like when I realized that I didn't have my wallet so I couldn't get anything to eat or drink and I was starving and feeling so dizzy.

I wanted my husband to be with me today. He wasn't. I wanted to get an answer that there was SOMETHING they could do to relieve this or give us more answers ... but we didn't. The answers to my prayers today were clearly: NO. BUT, in the midst of that, I did have the presence of God with me today. And when no one else could see the tears and fear and disappointment in me - He could. He is good - even when the answers are NO.

Maybe tomorrow the answer will be YES.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Blessings fall like snow

Snow is falling outside my window. The ground is covered with a sparkly blanket and the tress look like an enchanted forest of beauty.

I love the snow.

I think it's so fun how snow can transform a grown man into a giddy little boy once again. This morning my husband left to head to school and 2 seconds later popped his head into the house and said with a great tone of thrilled pleasure: "IT'S SNOWING BABE!!" I love it! But today, I love the snow for a different and very personal reason. I love it because it cancelled my husband's classes for tomorrow. No, not because I don't want him in school, or need him home all the time (although that might be nice to have him with me all the time!). It's because tomorrow I am having a doctor stick a long needle into my spine and remove spinal fluid to see if I have meningitis causing the dizziness and headaches I have been having. A very sweet friend of mine was planning to drive me and sit with me and probably hold my hand during the proceedure - and I am so grateful for her willingness to help and was comforted knowing she would be with me. BUT, no one can ever take the place of comfort that my husband takes (no hman that is). So, now that the snow has cancelled his classes, I will feel safer with that needle in my back as his big strong hands hold mine and his comforting eyes look into mine, and his peaceful voice talk to me and distract me from the thought of that needle. I am just so happy. There are many "little" or "big" times when we can see God's specific blessings in our lives, and His comfort and love poured out on us. Tonight, I am feeling that as I see the peaceful snowflakes falling down, I feel God's blessings on me.

It's probably silly to think: but I think this snowfall is just for me tonight. Because my God loves me, and He knows what I need tomorrow. THAT is a reason to have joy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

In His Arms

I haven't been sleeping well (hense this post at 1:34 am) lately. So the other night when my sweet husband wanted to finish watching "The Two Towers" in our extended Lord of the Rings marathon (which lasted over 2 weeks), it was no surprize that I fell fast asleep. We had made a cozy little "nest" on the living room floor (we don't have a real sized couch just a love seat so it doesn't work well for long movie watching since I MUST lie down ;) )and I was very cozy with all my blankets and my husband so near. I was lying there sound asleep when I felt the strong arms wrap around me, and the most precious voice on earth say: "Hi Bunny"; then in an instant he had lifted me up and was carrying me to bed. In that moment, I felt such peace and security with his strong and gentle arms wrapped around me. I felt that nothing could hurt me, and that all the pain I had been having was wiped away for a moment. He wanted to transfer me right into bed, but with me in his arms he couldn't fit through our closet-sized bedroom door. But, even with the funny ending, that few moments beng carried in his arms was pure bliss.

Sometimes, in the hurt of life we can become tired. No human is immune. Jesus told those who followed him that they would have "trouble" in this world. But when we are tired and totally worn out from the grief, pain, disappointment, and losses this life brings - sometimes that is the very time when we experience the most precious moments with our Redeemer. When we cannot carry ourselves, sometimes that is the time that we feel His loving arms wrap around us and feel Him lifting us and taking us into His blessed rest.

Let us come to the end of ourselves as this New Year begins, and enjoy the peace He offers all those who willingly rest and let Him carry us through. That true and lasting peace will bring true joy in any circumstance.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Year 2!

Ok - it's decided: I will continue blogging on the topic of living with joy through Christ. The focus in 2010 was specific to living in chronic pain, and as that is a big part of my life I will continue to explore specifics related to pain and joy .. BUT I also want to branch out and explore living in joy in regards to lots of areas of life. If you have input or topics you would specifically like me to look into please do let me know!

I am reading a great book that relates to this topic by John Piper (one of my all time favorite authors and pastors) it is called "When I Don't Desire God: How to fight for joy." Here are some quotes from the chapters I have been reading this week (it's been slow-going as my eyes and dizziness won't let me read for much time at all.

"Joy will not be rugged and durable and deep through suffering where there is not resolve to fight for it." - Piper

"James 1:12 says, ' Blessed is the man who remains stedfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will recieve the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.' The person who will receive the crown of eternal life is the person who successfully endures trial - that is, the person who fights for joy in the pain of loss and gets the victory over the unbelief of anger and bitterness and discouragment." - Piper

Fighting for joy is a very important part of the Christian live. Like I have said before: EVERYONE has some kind of pain or loss or sadness in life - and so all of us are called to fight against the temptation to grumble and whine and complain, and become bitter and choose joy and hope and eyes for God and eternity. I am linking to John Piper's website where you can find this book and others as well as sermon notes etc.

What will this year bring for you? What will it bring for me? What will it bring for the United States, for the world? Let's be whole-hearted about seeking God and the different kind of happiness that only He can offer in every circumstance!

Update on my health: still waiting on tests - neurologist thinks that I may have a form of meningitis so waiting to have a spinal tap soon. Wearing aheart monitor as well to see what is causing the dizziness. 2011 is starting with all kinds of doctors and tests. I know God will be with me through it all.