Thursday, September 29, 2011

A little basil trick

Hi everyone!  Well, this is gonna be a short post.  I'm especially tired today.  But our sweet neighbor called and told me to come get some things from her garden before she turned it over for the fall.  So I walked up to her house and came home with a huge bag of basil and beats and chard.   I LOVE basil!  We used to grow 100 foot rows of it at the farm and I would pick it and feel like I was in aromatherapy heaven!  Well, the thing I don't love about fresh basil is that is doesn't grow here in the winter, AND it also doesn't last long after it's been picked.  You can make pesto (which i love so much) but today I don't have the ingredients for pesto, so here is an easy way to save the basil year-round!

Take the clean leaves of basil and toss them into a food processor.  Grind them up.  At the end toss in some olive oil.  This should be the consistency of a nice paste.  Take the mixture and put it in ice cube trays.  Freeze til hard then transfer to freezer bags.  When you want some fresh basil taste in January take a cube or two, dethaw and toss it over your pasta or veggies or whatever you want!  I love how easy this is!  It's a great way to have yummy herbs (you can do it with any fresh herb) at your fingertip year round.  It's also not soo difficult to do that I won't do it because of my fading energy levels.  I know a lot of you have issues with energy which I think go hand in hand with chronic pain (or for you busy mama's out there too!), so I figured it might be a good tip to share!

Monday, September 26, 2011


I can still feel the hard wood pews, the cold floor, hear the sound of violin, cello and guitar, see my sweet friends around me.  Monday Night Worship was awesome.  A group of young musicians playing and leading the rest of us in songs of praise to God, it still is one of my favorite memories from my years at Bible college.  This night, though, stands out among the rest.  Chronic pain was relatively new for me, and as we sang I was enduring some pretty significant pain.  I remember trying so hard to ignore it.  I felt so guilty that I couldn't concentrate on God alone without my mind being conscious of the pain my body was feeling.  I am so mad at myself: why couldn't I be holier, why was my mind unable to block out the pain, God deserved to be my entire focus. 

This is a picture that has replayed over the years through many church services, chapel services, even years of leading worship myself with youth ministry and on our home worship team, as well as times alone with God.  I remember being so embarrassed when our worship leader would bring out a tall stool so that I could sit on it while we practiced singing because I couldn't stand up to sing.  Gradually, I learned that it wasn't bad to have health issues - that it wasn't bad to be seen as real even if that meant that I sometimes had to sit on a stool to sing.  I was forced to be humble (is that even possible?) enough to admit that I couldn't stand to sing.  But somewhere inside I felt guilty for not being able to be free from my physical pain to worship* God unhindered, and unconscious of anything other than HIM.

Tonight I was at church and I realized something.  If God has allowed me to have physical pain, than He must be able to be worshipped through the pain.  I know I have said that God can be worshipped through anything even by someone lying in a hospital bed unable to speak or think clearly.  But tonight I really grasped the fact that even though my pain might be inescapable - I am unable to will my mind to NOT notice my physical state, God can be worshipped even because of the pain I am having.  I always thought that to really worship I have to be in a kind of daze where the only thing I am conscious of is God alone.  I have had times where that was true - but they are rare for me.  Maybe in choosing to worship and sing words that are true of God even when pain is inescapable - maybe - no definitely God is worshipped no less than the times when all my mind feels is God alone.  

It's kind of like another thing I used to think about worship.  I used to think that if my mind knew that anyone else was around me that I wasn't really worshipping God.  Now, I totally agree that we shouldn't be distracted by the people around us, when we are in a corporate worship setting sometimes the people around us are part of our worship!  When I first began leading by singing on the worship team I remember thinking that I couldn't possibly worship with my eyes open because if I noticed that there were people facing me I couldn't possible be worshipping God.  Through the years I began to be drawn even more to the throne of God in praise when I did open my eyes because I felt the true worship of people I loved and seeing a crowd of people focused on singing the truths of who God is, and giving themselves fully to Him brought my heart to a beautiful place of worship.  I still love to close my eyes and focus on God alone - but that is not the only way I worship during a church service.  When God brought my sweet Husband to me another layer of worship emerged.  Sometimes during worship he or I will reach our hand out to hold the other's hand and in that moment it brings my heart to an amazing place where my Husband and I are one worshipping God together while conscious of each other and our shared trust and love of God.

I don't want to limit the big God I adore.   He can use things we think are useless or a distraction to even deepen our love and our worship of Him. 

*my use of the word worship in this post is referring to corporate times of singing etc. - worship is so much more than only those times!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Well, it's 1:32 am and here I sit unable again to sleep.  Lately it's been 2 or 3 before I can finally fall to sleep no matter how much I do during the day or if I take a nap or how early or late I sleep in.  Sleep is a problem for a lot of us with any type of chronic pain.  I think somehow at night when I don't have the distractions of daytime and everything is quiet that pain thinks (in a mean sinister voice): "ahhh HA now she'll finally pay attention to ME -MWAAHHAHA".  Or sometimes the way we sleep can cause pain to be worse - you should see how many pillows I use to prop my silly body just right so that I feel less pain!  My sweet Farmer Boy laughs at how precise I am with placing my pillows, teddy bear (yes I do sleep with a silly old bear because he is much firmer than a pillow and gives me pressure on my ribcage just where I need it ), and blanket just perfect so that I can get the best least pain night possible.  But obviously it doesn't always work.  

Now, before you all send me messages about how to get better sleep, I DO get pretty decent sleep most of the time.  But, I don't like the times when I go through that I can't sleep, and especially dealing with pain it would be best for me to sleep good every night.  BUT, for tonight (and other sleepless nights) and for those of you who are in the same boat, it is important for us to find peace even in something as annoying as not being able to sleep (from pain, or too busy a mind, or whatever reasons). 

One of the things that has saved a lot of my sanity (no wise cracks people), is simply to get up.  I can usually tell within a half hour to an hour of getting in bed if I will be able to fall to sleep or not.  If I lay there I go crazy (and wake up the sweetest man on earth with my tossing and turning) - so getting up is the best bet for me.  And then I try and do something useful (like BLOG haha), or read the Bible, or pray, or I try doing something relaxing like rub my feet with lotion, watch TV, talk to any other late night people on facebook, read ...  It REALLY helps.  If I am not gonna sleep anyway at least I am DOING something rather than seething with anger at not being able to sleep!  I try to ask God to give me peace and realize that I'll get through this night and He will be with me no matter what.  I'm not in crazy pain tonight - but I have had times when the pain was so bad and I was up alone just breathing through it.  It felt so scary to be alone in that kind of pain - but turning to God in those moments is the ONLY thing that got me through.   I also have found that sometimes the very best times I have with God are in the silent night when it seems I am awake for no reason other than to be alone with Him.  I feel like He has kept me awake to romance me, and I treasure those times - writing, meditation on Bible verses, and just rejoicing in a God who never sleeps!   Why become a victim to sleepless nights - why not allow God to use even such an annoying thing to shape me to be more like Him? 

Now, I'm not saying that I am gonna seek out being sleepless, or that I am not going to try to find ways to get more healthy sleep (God created it for our bodies and we need it to deal with pain and to be healthy!)  What I am saying is that in the meanwhile and in THIS moment of sleeplessness I'm gonna rejoice that I'm not alone in the dark, and that God can use even this.  How I love Him for being awake with me and never leaving me alone.

It's now 2:06 am - and I'm getting sleepy. :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ronnie Freeman - Satisfied

About 7-8 years ago this song came into my life at a time when I was really beginning to realize that my health issues would affect everything I had pictured about what my life would be. I needed to be told to be satisfied with God alone. It was a time that tested my faith in ways surprizing and painful as friendships ended, opportunities to travel were taken away, and even ministry that I felt called to ended. It was a time that led to a lot of loss in my life. It's been a chapter than has been repeated with different tones througout my life - my Daddy would call it the "death of a vision". When people I depended on left my life as quickly as they entered, when missions and ministry I took pride in being part of was taken - the vision I thought that God had given me was suddenly dark. In looking back, God DID give me that vision because if I hadn't been brought to that place of loss I would have missed out on so many of the gains God has given me! The knowledge of how to deal with pain (which I definately didn't have at that point which probably was the reason I lost so much and was misunderstood and judged), a deeper relationship with my precious Mama, closer friendship with my siblings, ministry at my home church (which would have ended if I had my way in becoming more involved in other ministry), time to focus on learning piano and writing my own songs (something that could only come out of solitude for my writing style), a zeal for helping others in chronic pain live WELL - as well as helping those without pain understand and treat people with illnesses more like they would want to be treated, my sweet HUSBAND! (in my vision I would have lived far away from that family farm where we fell in love and were married - oh I thank God all the time that THIS is the man who picked me as his wife!), and most importantly a deeper walk with my Lord Jesus Christ who IS the one who satisfies my soul, and also teaches me to long for more satisfaction in Him alone. I couldn't see at the time how all the loss in my life would become some of the biggest blessings and lessons of my life. Do I still sometimes miss what my life could have been? Yes. I would be lying to say that I don't occasionally imagine that life I dreamed of and wonder what a me without pain, traveling and teaching all over the world would look like (and I do dream of doing some of those things with my Husband someday). But it certainly doesn't consume me on any level - and I am very at peace with where God has me now - even though it is different from what I imagined. I need to remember this lesson, as I know loss is part of life and God desires to bring new things out of those that are lost. I already can see that my deepest loss: my ability to have children will be redeemed someday through the children God will put in our life through adoption or other means. The loss is still painful, but God creates sweetness through the pain. Being satisfied is something that only comes from God - but as imperfect humans we struggle with sin and selfishness to be truely satisfied even in the One who alone can satisfy us. This song was given to me again today, and I needed to be reminded of it again, and it won't be the last time.

I love how God as the Redeemer took things that did break my heart - to MAKE my heart what He wanted it to be (and this will continue)! I love how He uses things we feel are useless. I love how God is using me even though people may have thought God can't use a country girl without a college degree, without a special occupation, with pain every day of her life to bring glory to His beautiful name! I love the name Redeemer for my Jesus, because He has redeemed parts of my life that I thought had ruined my life. Is He satisfied with me? At first I thought this was theologically wrong because I am not perfect - but when I think of the blood of Jesus covering my sin - God sees me as IN CHRIST and my sin forgiven and He sees me white as snow. That's nothing I could do on my own. Do I desire to be pleasing to God every day of my life? Definately. We should never loose sight of the One we should be living for with every breath He puts in our lungs. May I live to be satisfying to my God so that on that day when I stand before His throne He will say: "Well Done."

And on that day when I see my Redeemer face to face, without the hindrances of sin and selfishness, without the distraction of physical pain - I will be totally and breath-takingly satisfied.

Monday, September 19, 2011

How to bless my husband today

My sweet Farmer Boy has/had a very busy day today - since he is going to school to be a teacher he starts the day off leaving at 7 to get to the high school where he mentors as part of his education requirements - then he has classes back to back all the way til 5:30 when he finally gets to come home.   Now, regardless of any grand illusions I might have of being a beautiful 1950s housewife wearing a cute little dress and greeting my husband at the door in a cutesy apron (although I do have 2 cutesy aprons which I wear for fun from time to time) - I usually greet my husband from my afternoon/evening nap which generally starts around 4 and goes til I make myself get off the couch.  I've noticed that my pain level is better when I get some afternoon rest, and the long evening is more doable when I am not totally worn out (we stay up til 11 or 1 in this house between the homework and other responsibilities).  So, how do I bless my sweet husband after his hard and long day at school?  Here are some of my tips - and I am just over 2 years into this marriage things so I am sure I have a lot to learn!

1.  ALWAYS greet him with a smile.  Nope.  There are really no exceptions.  Well, ok maybe a couple.  But in general he is far too wonderful a man to be greeted with anything other than pure joy (which isn't hard when I see that beautiful face). (WARNING: I think it's selfishness but sometimes I feel this thing inside me wanting me to just DUMP on him when he walks in the door - if I've had a cruddy day or am upset about anything ... this is best done later!)

2.  Ask him about his day and then ... LISTEN.  I am sometimes (ok maybe a bit more than sometimes) impatient.  I already know that he doesn't like a certain teacher, or that such and such a kid was a pain today.  But he needs to tell me these things - if I don't let him then he will withdraw thinking that I don't care about his day. 

3.  Have food ready.  The old saying: "the way to a man's heart is his stomach" is somehow true.  My husband LOVES walking into the house smelling like dinner.  He gets excited about whatever I make (I am SO blessed to have a man who is not picky!).  Sometimes (like today) I send him a text half way through his hard day telling him what's cooking for dinner - I think it helps him know that the day won't go on forever and after it's done he gets to sit down and enjoy yummy and healthy food made by the woman he loves.  Now, you may wonder how I can have food ready when I am usually taking a nap?  Well, it's called planning ahead.  I've song the praises of crock pots and casseroles - but another of my secret weapons is the freezer.  Today for example I pulled out a frozen meat loaf (which is his favorite) and will put it in the oven in about 10 minutes.  By the time he gets home it will be smelling yummy for him. 

4.  Even if he's busy find time for romance.  We're having to learn that there isn't always the time we wish we had for romantic stuff.  We can't and don't go on many "dates" at this season in our lives.  Money goes to paying tuition, and time is non-existent for my busy Student.  So we're learning to take what we can get and make the most of it.  Last week we took a 20 minute walk looking at the neighbor's gardens.  Just walking hand in hand was wonderful.  We sat in the hammock together.  He read out loud one of his required reading books while I crocheted.  We prayed together.  He helped me make pizza on Friday night and we talked over cutting up kale and tomatoes and grating cheese.  We send texts through the day.  He calls me on his way home.  Quality time has to be grabbed whenever you can grab it! 

Do I wish that I was the perfect wife - always beautiful and energetic?  Yes.  But, learning to live with what you've been given means being grateful for what you have and living 100% for God's glory no matter what.  Today that means being the best wife I can be - even though I might be wearing sweats.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Gratefulness list

Gratitude is a practice that we can never have too much of in our lives.  Today I am tired and my body is aching from the change in the weather (I know I sound like I'm 90 years old!).  I don't feel like doing anything, and it probably won't be a super "productive" day (I'll do what I need to for the responsibilities I have but I doubt I'll get any extra projects done today).  On days like this I think it is especially important to practice gratefulness.  In choosing to be thankful to God my heart enters into worship and that is where I want my heart to be always.

Today's Thankfulness List:

I'm thankful for:

1. God - that He is always there and I can talk with Him about everything.
2.  That My Husband finished an important exam on his journey to becoming a teacher yesterday.
3.  For my sweet nieces and nephews - each of them makes me smile so much and I love them all.
4.  For our living situation - such a blessing and a treasured time in our lives.
5.  For peaches - YUM and strawberries!
6.  That I get to can peach jam this week with my sis
7.  For parents who love each other so well.
8.  for the beautiful rain last night (our garden needed it!)
9.  that we get to go to evening church tonight and learn more about prayer
10.  for the sweet times I get to spend with my precious Grammie
11.  for flowers :)
12.  that all my siblings are living lives for Jesus
13.  That the zucchini bread I made yesterday turned out!
14.  for good friends
15.  for the fun new hobby of crocheting!
16.  for all the weddings I have been able to create floral arrangements for this summer.
17.  for clean laundry!
18.  for the love of an amazing man

What's on your list today?

Monday, September 12, 2011

For the Glory of God?

This passage is one of the most encouraging for those of us dealing with medical issues ... God's vision is complete and He sees the whole picture even when we can't see past this moment and whatever pain we may be in today.   You can go to this link and listen to this sermon - let me know what you think!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


I have no idea what this nurse was thinking.  Here I was spending time in the hospital, (this was about 5-6 years ago)sick as a dog and during "small talk" she tells me that it's probably best that I don't date anyone or get married since I am often in the hospital and sick.  I lay there is total shock until my little sister walked into the room to visit me - I told her what the nurse said to me and I just lost it.  I couldn't believe that someone would be so judgemental on my life - someone who didn't even know me!  My sweet little sister marched out and demanded to talk to my doctor and reported the behavior of the nurse.  I was so proud of her!  Even in that horrible experience, I was so blessed to see someone I love very much stand up for me.

I sometimes think of that nurse and wish that I could find her now and she could see my life ... and my HUSBAND!  I will admit that it takes a very special person to marry someone they know will likely have limited health her whole life.  It takes a special man to give up having biological children to be with a women who is barren.  It takes a miracle to make a marriage work when sickness is part of everyday life.  But then again, I think it takes a miracle to make marriage work at all!  Two people who are different coming together, having to learn to think of the other's needs above their own, living together and sharing every part of their lives.  Yes, there have been struggles in our young marriage centered around my health - but some of the most bonding moments we have had have revolved around health.  We treasure today because we know it's all we're guaranteed.  We learn to go with the ups and downs of health and change our plans when we have to.  I'm learning to serve my sweet Husband even when I don't feel good enough to do the things I want to - and He is learning to appreciate the things I do that are hard for me.  We have grown, and with God's presence we will continue to grow more and more in love - true lasting unconditional love. 

And, to that nosey nurse, I'd like to say: Look at me now!  Marriage has probably been the best thing for me and my health.  I think the reason for this is because I feel totally chosen and loved and accepted despite my health.  Friends have come and gone - but my Husband has committed to me "in sickness and in health".  The confidence that gives me brings relief from pain and energy to my tired body. 

He loves me.  The best medicine in the world!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I've shared in the past blogs or sermons from our church - and I wanted to share two sermons from the recent Proverbia series at our church.  If you click on the following link it will take you to all of the sermons in this series.
Really Good Stuff!

The first one is WISDOM and WINE - I thought this was important especially for those of us with chronic pain because we need to be ever careful about using prescription (or non prescription) medications wisely.  I know that pain medication can be used properly - but I also know that many people get addicted to pain medication.  If your local hospital has a course on pain management take it - and always ONLY use pain medication for the designated time and purpose prescribed.  I am very grateful for a wonderful PCP who monitors all my medications and has found ways to control the pain without the "high" feeling of so many pain medications.  Be careful and take time to listen to this sermon. 

The next sermon is Coveting and Contentment.  This sermon brought tears to my eyes.  Make sure you are living a life of contentment in Christ and not coveting others who may have perfect health. 

We need to take time to stay on track and live lives that are pleasing to God - chronic pain or not!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A week of stress

Any of you with chronic health issues know that sometimes the hastle of going to doctors and the many and varied "treatments" can be quite a pain in the behind.  This week my doctor told me to try a Gluten free diet for 5 months.  Gluten is hard to avoid, and even though I have tried wheat free on and off gluten is in a lot of things that you wouldn't expect like sauces even soy sauce!   It just adds stress to my day to have to monitor everything I am eating and it takes a lot more energy to eat healthy than it does to eat something that is pre-prepared.  (I do make most of our meals from scratch but I do enjoy having easy things in the freezer for when I can't cook).   It's stressful to see people's reaction to any new diet that my doctor has me trying, or to just have to plan so far ahead for meals.

This week also, my sweet Farmer Boy started year 2 of the 3 years he had transferring into the teaching program.  He has been gone 12 hours most days and when he gets home he has been up til 12 or 1 doing homework til he can't stay awake any longer.  The impact on me of having a husband in school and working 2 sometimes 3 jobs is more stress (oh and a lot of being proud of such a hard working handsome Husband!).   I really enjoy my life and the fact that much of it is so stress free and relaxing.  I feel guilty when I am sleeping in and taking naps during the day, or when I get to just be at home for a lot of my time.  I wish I could contribute more financially to help get him through school.  While my odd jobs do help us out, I want to do more!  I've been working all week on trying to figure out ways that I could get more brides and grooms to hire me for floral work for their weddings.  I've been so frustrated because I want to do so much more.  And with all this stress that I have been putting on myself I've been in more pain. 

The stress of life is inevitable.  No one rich or poor, healthy or not, young or old, is totally immune to stress.  But what we can control is our reaction to it.  Do you put it on ourselves or do we turn first to God and lay every stressful thing at His feet and TRUST HIM to take care of it?  I'm trying to learn the balance between trusting God and being willing to take action in my life.  I haven't figured it all out yet - but I do know that God gives me responsibility and that with that sometimes there is stress.  It becomes sin when I let that stress take my focus off of God and onto myself and the situation.  I need to allow Him to speak peace into the areas of stress in my life, while being willing to work hard when He tells me to.  The lesson from this week is just to not let the stresses of life get me down but to keep going and most of all to lay those stresses at the foot of the Savior allowing Him to work through even the things I would love to not deal with in my life.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In my weakness

I  felt like my jaw was about to snap in half.  In a split second I went from feeling very weird (my tongue was swelling, lips and jaw felt unsteady, and super bad blurry vision) to the worst pain of my life (and I have had pain likened to hard labor pains which went on for days on end).  My jaw had locked to the side and cramped so severely that the only thing I could think was to yell to my sweet husband to push it back into place.  He tried and that hurt incredibly so as he called for the nurses I thought "there's no way I can get through this pain".  In those moments, I hate to admit, but I prayed that God would let me die and go to heaven.  The nurse couldn't figure out what was going on, and while my husband held hot compresses on both sides of my jaw, with tears pouring down my face I begged God to make it stop.  Finally a doctor came in, took one look at me and pronounced that I was having a severe allergic reaction to the nausea medication (Compazine) they had given me that morning.  She looked right in my eyes and said that it would go away when they gave me benedryl.  Then she was gone.  Relieved as I was - I was still in emence pain and getting the order for benadryl took another hour.   Why am I telling this story?  Well, because I think it is important in our discussion about pain for me to be honest and say that sometimes in the most extreme cases of pain it is all I can do to just get through it - and I think it is very normal to long deeply for heaven in those times.  I wasn't sitting there softly singing and thinking of Jesus.  I was writhing in agony, screaming for God to make it stop or to take me to heaven.   Yes, I would have loved to be calm and to be saying profound truths about God in those moments - but that level of pain sometimes the only thing I can think about is just to call on God - I don't even know what to ask but just to call out of my agony to the One who is bigger.   I would have loved to not be begging God to let me go to heaven, but the truth is: I was.  In that moment, in my weakness, I couldn't see past the pain and my only hope was God and heaven. 
And I'm so grateful that I have that hope!

Why am I sharing this now?  Well, I've been thinking a lot lately about those who are in severe physical pain ... I know that in this blog I have talked about dealing with physical pain - while not sharing very specific examples from my own experience. While I deal with significant physical pain on a daily basis - severe pain isn't all the time.  I just want any of you who are reading this to know that I'm very human and have weaknesses just like all of us - and that I'm very thankful for the hope I have - that in the very worst pain I can only think to call on the God I love. 

I made it through.  My jaw is still damaged 3 weeks later from the spasms (which I found out can actually dislocate or break the jaw), but I'm so much better.  In the end I am just so happy that it's over - and so happy that through it at least my most natural instinct was to call on God.  I'm happy that I made it through and sometimes that alone is a huge success.