Sunday, October 30, 2011

Financial Suffering

Wondering if milk or bread is more important.  Choosing which bills can wait being paid.  Making up excuses not to get together with friends because you're too embarrassed to admit you can't afford to go out....  I am sure that these ring a bell with more than a few of you reading.  In our economy there are many people out of work.  In exploring suffering I wanted to touch on this area of suffering: so that those in this situation wouldn't feel alone, and those not suffering from lack of money/jobs would be compassionate to those who are.  While, the suffering in the United States is nowhere near the depth and scale of the poverty in countries in Africa, India etc.  - it is still very real and very painful for the individuals and families faced with poverty. 

I've seen men hunched over with shame when interview after interview fell through - the weight of responsibility pushing heavily on their shoulders.  I've seen mothers go without to make sure their babies have food to eat.  I've seen sick people ignoring symptoms because of no way to pay doctor bills.  Poverty is a very real and very painful suffering. 

I have also seen God provide in beautiful and big ways - even miraculous ways!  When I was in college living with a sweet family who were living day to day working as hard as they could to get through school, I saw a miracle.  It may have been a little miracle, but a miracle nonetheless.  One night we didn't have food for the next day - and the family and I all say around the table and prayed for God to provide.  The parents felt pressure as they had two lovely little girls, but they were not fretting they always trusted that God would take care of them.  The next day mysteriously a bag of groceries was left by the door!  Now, if no food had arrived would that mean that God was not good?  Or that He didn't listen?  No. I won't pretend to understand why God answered yes that time, and yet other times people I know have gone hungry ... but I do know that God hears every prayer and that His answer is always good.  I have prayed over and over to be healed from my pain - and yet God has not answered yes to that prayer.  And I see good that has come from my NOT being healed every day. 

Sometimes God lifts the pain and gives a beautiful blessing.  Other times He leaves the pain and gives a beautiful blessing.

I think the key for our reaction in times of financial (and every kind) of suffering is to trust.  We need to be responsible to do all that we can, but that when we have done our best to realize that God will do what is best with our situation.  I am the type that just wants to fix it!  I have a small home floral business, and I am just longing for some weddings to books for next year.  I want to help my husband get through school.  I want to relieve some pressure from our budget.  I want to save for adoption.  But when I have done all I can, I need to just sit back and know that this really isn't in my control.  I have to wait and see what God will do.  That is very hard for me.  I'm an action type of girl. Waiting is the last thing I want to be doing about this!  I want to make it work.  I want to relieve some of the financial struggles we face.  But I am asked to just rest in God's arms and trust Him. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Texting at 12:51 am

I like texting.  It seems less demanding than talking on the phone to me - and since my sweet Husband is up studying late I am not disturbing him by talking.  But I have been sitting here for quite a while texting 2 conversations at the same time.

One is with a sweet friend who is recovering from VERY painful surgery.  She has had surgeries over and over and definately knows physical and emotional pain.

The second is a dear friend who is going through very hard emotional and relational suffering right now.   This friend has been through a lot and my heart goes out to her.

My heart just aches for both of my friends tonight.  And texting them both just reinforces the truth that ALL of us have some kind of pain in our lives.  And also reminds me that we NEED each other to get through it all.  God didn't make a mistake when he made more than just one human.  He knew that we would need each other to be stretched and to grow and to comfort and challenge and love each other.  I'm not always the best friend in the world .. I think it's an area I struggle with and it has never come easy.  When I was a kid I often just played outside all by myself .. or with my stuffed animals and dolls .. but that's a rabbit trail!  Being a good friend takes energy and sometimes I don't feel like I have it.  But I am determined to always work on being better at this - because it is just too important!  I treasure the true friends that are in my life, and I want to be the listening ear and comforting arms that my friends need.

I don't know how much help texting at 12:49 am is .. but it's what I have to give right now, that and my prayers.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Putting the apples back in the cart

One thing that I think everyone would agree is difficult about having health issues and chronic pain is that it seems whenever you get into a good routine with life something topples the apple cart .. so to speak.   I was walking or doing just some bit of exercise every day (by walking i mean like even a 10 minute slow walk - which was awesome for me!), and I was eating well avoiding sugar etc, and taking all my medications at the right times ....  But it does always seem like something happens to mess up my schedule and then I have the choice of leaving it all messed up or getting back up and trying again.  There are things that are often helpful for chronic conditions: some type of exercise (even exercises done sitting etc.), eating healthy whole foods, drinking lots of water .. basically all the things that are good for every human.  The difference is that those of us with chronic pain sometimes will suffer greater immediate pain if we don't do these things (every human will at some point if they don't live healthy .. but that's a different soapbox!).  Our bodies are a gift from God and weather we are "normal" or in chronic pain we have a responsibility to take care of them to the best of our ability!

So, back to the apple cart.  This week I just pretty much gave up on everything for a few days.  Partly because of a flair up I needed to not do a lot of physical exercise (but I could have done very light stretches etc.), and partly because I somehow lost motivation.   Just like anything, we have choices about what we do in situations like this.  And I'm choosing to get back up and pick up the apples and get going on taking better care of myself again.  Today was a LOVELY day so I went out and walked (for 14 minutes!) and made a nice healthy breakfast with apples and oats .. and I ordered some vitamins which are about to run out.  No one else is responsible for my body, so I need to do all I can to take care of it!   Just because our bodies may not work perfectly, doesn't mean we get out of the work of taking care of them!  In fact, I guess we have more responsibility to do all we can to be healthy.  No saying: "If I was stronger I would exercise", "If I felt better I would eat healthy."  No excuses!  (believe me I have used them plenty in my life but I am realizing that excuses get me nowhere!)

What are YOU doing to stay healthy today?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Now We're on FACEBOOK!

I haven't quite figured out how to add a facebook link on my gadgets - but I think this will take you there!  I did this so that my friends on my personal fb won't have to see links to my new posts but those who are wanting to follow can do that separately!  Let me know if it works and feel free to share my fb page with any of your friends on fb who might be interested of encouraged by reading.

A Lost Balloon

You know when you were a little kid and you had that amazing helium balloon?  You were so excited about it and you wanted to show everyone.  You wanted to take it with you everywhere and your mama tied it onto your arm so that it wouldn't fly away?  Did the tie ever come undone and suddenly before your little hands could grasp it your precious balloon had slipped away - flying up to the clouds.  It happened so fast, and you couldn't stop it.  Do you know that feeling?
I do.

It isn't important why I feel like this all over again tonight.  I am sure that lost dreams are a very common thing for every human - maybe more common with those of us with chronic health issues, maybe not.  But whatever the case, I feel like my big beautiful balloon just slipped from my hands and my heart is broken .. again. 

I'd be lying to say that I never ask God why.  That I never scream into heaven for fulfilment of my dreams - like a spoiled child begging for what she wants more than anything.  But even in those moments crying out to heaven from my broken heart I know that He is bigger.  Bigger than my whys.  Bigger than my tears.  Bigger than my lost dreams.  In moments like these, I feel so tempted to never dream again.  What's the point right?  I feel like I cannot stand another shattered dream.  I mean, I'm only human!  But, I also don't want to stop.  I don't want to totally loose hope that dreams can come true (after all my sweet Husband is the one proof I hold onto that dreams DO come true!).  And I don't want to loose hope in a God who is big enough to use dreams: broken or come true for His glory.

The only thing that keeps me from totally giving up on ever dreaming again, is the beautiful truth that God is the composer for the song of my life.  I'm the instrument.  No matter how many low notes there are in this song, He knows the beauty of low and high notes in perfect harmony.  He will use these broken dreams - these low notes in my song - to bring glory to His beautiful name.  I will keep dreaming - and He'll keep writing the song of my life.  How I long for it to be beautiful music to His ears.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Sweet Shoulder

I didn't know how to explain what I felt.  In only 3 weeks I was heading to have a hysterectomy.  This day it shouldn't have mattered so much more except that circumstances suddenly made the reality hit me hard: I would not be a "normal" women after this surgery.  My body would forever bear the scars of the results of this fallen world we live in.   My body would never function reproductively again.  I would never be able to feel a baby kicking inside me, never get the joy of telling my Husband we were pregnant, never see a baby that was my own genetically.  On this particular day (November 24, 2004), the reality of what was about to be taken from me hit me hard.  As I tried to hold the tears in I ran and threw myself onto my bed.  My little sister followed me.  She asked what was wrong and I only had to say 3 words but she totally understood.  As the hot tears fell down my cheeks, my little sister wrapped her arms around me and held me close.  And I just cried.  I didn't have to go into detail, I didn't have to explain.  She knew.  And rather than lecture me on how God would bring me babies someday, and how much better I would feel after surgery ... she just was quiet and was with me in my grief. 

Why am I telling this story now?  Well, I think people who are not going through a specific pain or grief sometimes feel like they can't help those who are.  I think people feel like they have to have something eloquent to say, or make sense of the suffering.  But, in my experience, the most comforted I have ever felt has been through people like my sister who are just quiet and grieve with me in my pain.  No judgement.  No reasoning.  Just pure uncluttered compassion.

Who in your life is grieving or hurting today?  Let us all remember to love and offer a shoulder to cry on - sometimes it is the best gift we can give.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Doctors can still learn and grow too!

Oh it's been a long day.  Today I am extra thankful for aleve, and pillows, cable TV, my heating pad, and a shower.  I really wish that shower was a bath tub - but warm water of any kind of very helpful on days like today.

When I focus on how I feel on days like this it can be discouraging.  But, if I try hard there is always something good to think about.  Oddly enough, today that good thing is my doctor.

I saw my pcp this week and it was a shock to me to hear her say a few things.  First of all, she has been my main doctor for years and has seen me through a lot - finding specialists and reviewing all the test results etc. from every doctor I have seen.  In the past before there were answers for my pain, she has stood up to questions other doctors had about if there was a cause for the pain I was having - and she rejoiced with me with each clue we uncovered about what was going on in my body.  She never gave up thinking that there was something causing all these conditions that were attacking my body.  She has walked with me through pain control and teaching me so much about how to deal with it on a daily basis.  Yesterday she was looking over my latest test results which shed more light on everything when suddenly she turned to me and said: "I have learned so much through your situation and watching you go through everything you have endured over the years."  She went on to say how my case has helped her grow as a doctor.  Wow.  I've always known that God could use my health to challenge people to turn to God, or encourage others who were "sick" - but I didn't really think much about how it could inspire my doctors and influence the direction they go in their practice.  If my long health struggle could help even this one doctor to treat patients differently and to look deeper for the cause behind pain etc. it would be worth it.  I am so thankful to have a doctor like her, and thankful that we have learned together over the years and I am sure we will continue learning and growing as we seek treatment options and see what the next chapter brings.

There is always something good that God can bring about from something bad.  I do feel bad today, but I know God is using this in ways I don't even see for good.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guilty Doughnuts

Doughnuts make everything better right?  I mean, who can resist a big golden doughnut with crispy sugary outside and warm fluffy inside?  One time, before we were married, my Farmer Boy and I took a whole package of muffin dough, made the muffins into doughnuts and ate the ENTIRE package (which was like 6-8 doughnuts) in one sitting.  What makes this story worse is that we were watching: "The Biggest Looser" at the same time.  No joke.  Why am I talking about doughnuts?  You'll see.

Physical pain or illness can shorten your fuse.  I'm NOT saying this as an excuse, but just something those of us with chronic pain or illness need to be aware of.  Example: Today, I went with my husband to the thrift store to drop off some stuff.  For some reason I got suuupper car sick and was miserable all the way home.  Because I was mad that I felt so yucky, my attitude was snarky to my Husband (who hadn't done anything wrong at all).  Of course, it had been an extra long day of taking care of chores for me, and I still had a lot on my list to get done before going to sleep - so I felt even more overwhelmed, and mad that I felt crummy but couldn't just rest.  When we got back from the thrift store I realized (much to my dismay) I needed to run to the grocery store - so I left and of course felt guilty all the way to the store, while I was shopping, standing in the check out line (where I bought the discounted doughnuts as a peace offering) and all the way home.  Of course my sweet Husband was loving and forgiving (especially when he saw the doughnuts! - see I knew they would help the situation!) and I didn't even have to tell him why I was so frustrated - in fact he apologized that his driving made me car sick (which it wasn't his driving - just my silly body).  It all ended well.

So, a word to the wise: KNOW that you might be more prone to snarky behavior when you are feeling crummy and work on keeping your mouth shut if at all possible.  Or simply explain to whoever you are with that you aren't feeling good, and that it isn't a good time to have deep conversations.  We should never allow our pain to be a catalyst to our hurting the people we love - they get hurt enough just because we are in pain.   Sometimes, it is best to just be alone if our attitude needs help.  I know that's not always possible, but sometimes it really is best.  Just take a quick breather and a quick prayer that you won't take your frustration about how you feel out on someone around you.  It makes life much easier.

Oh, and it also saves money on remorseful doughnut purchases.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Accept it

There is an important distinction between acceptance and giving up.  I've come close to giving up on my battle with my silly body in the past - but acceptance is something I am always in the process of learning.  Tonight, for example, (or rather this morning as it is 2:13 am) I am realizing that no matter how much I hate it, my illness is going to ruin my plans for tomorrow.  This might not seem like a big deal - since my plans are "just" to go to a ladies Bible study at our church.  But, Tuesday morning Bible study is my one (literally) regular social thing that is just for me.  (I know - pretty hoppin' social life right?!)  I enjoy just getting in the car and driving somewhere totally alone, and hanging out with ladies and singing together and learning cool stuff - and just being free from housework and my home business (even though I LOVE both having a home and husband to keep home for - AND my home business ... ) and everything.  So, tonight I am up and not sleeping because I feel yucky and nauseated for whatever reason: medications, pain -  whatever .. I really have no clue.  Not a rare feeling for me at all - but never a fun feeling for sure.  So, I have a feeling there will be no Bible study for me in the morning.

I started to feel all upset about this, but then I realized that it wouldn't do any good.  In fact it would probably just make me feel worse.  Accepting means that I can relax and know that even though I may be disappointed that God is still good.  Accepting means that I can just chill out and not stress it.  There is an old saying: "In acceptance lieth peace."  It's really true.  I can just rest in the peace that God knows what is going on in my body, and He knows that I am hurting and disappointed and frustrated with my health - and He is still God and He is right here with me no matter what.  Even though I'm all alone in the middle of the night, He is with me - and He loves me.  That gives me peace.  And oddly enough, that gives me joy even right here in this nauseous moment.

It's totally different than giving up.  I believe wholly in fighting hard for our health.  I am all for proving doctors and statistics wrong, I'm totally not for laying down and being a wimp and giving up.

But I'm also totally for embracing the peace that comes with acceptance.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

specifics about my health? ASK ME!

Sometimes I wonder why I bother blogging.   I am always aware of how easily this blog could turn into something I dread: a self-centered soapbox focused on whining and gaining pity - rather than a God-centered opportunity to show His strength in my weakness.  I set out to daily practice choosing joy in the midst of pain, and to encourage others to do the same ... and when I keep that focus and look at the positive comments about how this blog encourages other facing any kind of challenge in life - it keeps me going. 

But, I do sometimes get less than encouraging comments. In those times I find myself wondering if they are right and blogging about a topic like this is too dangerous.  I know people will judge - I have lived with that every day since I first became sick ("maybe you don't have enough faith to be healed", "maybe it's because of some sin in your life", "you just don't eat healthy enough," ... "if you try this doctor or diet or . whatever you would be well by now" ...).   Because of that and because I never wanted this blog to be so much about my own health as I wanted it to be about God's strength displayed though the joy He gives to all of us in our varied circumstances, I have tried to stay away from sharing very much about my day to day specific health challenges (plus who really wants to hear everything about an illness that goes on for so long!? - I certainly don't).  Recently, I felt I needed to share some good news I got from my doctor (I wanted to share this because it sometimes feels like so many people are praying for me and I honestly feel indebted to all of those prayers) - but then after some comments I went back and deleted that post.  Maybe it was a chicken thing to do.  I have struggled with the idea that I "owe" an explanation or updates about my specific health ever since my home church began praying for me when I first got sick.  It always felt like I was obligated to let everyone know how I was doing .. but at the same time I wondered if people really needed to know.  I am struggling with that again with this blog.  I never meant it to be about updates about my health.  Since my struggle has been so long, and it's not clear cut, or possibly ever going to be totally over - it becomes exhausting to update everyone (and I am getting the idea that it's exhausting to keep up with for some people as well - which I totally get).  And then I had an "AH HA" moment.   I should just let people who really want to know details ASK ME!  This way I don't burden those who don't need or want to know - and I can let those who do know when they want to know!  (I know it's not rocket science! but maybe I'm dense)  This journey is so real and so involved for me and my sweet Farmer Boy, but I realized that this is a journey that is personal and possibly a burden to others.  I'll keep writing on the topic of living well in painful circumstances because of our Great God - but for now the specifics of my circumstances are not important to my writing.   If anyone wants to know more you can always email me privately at

What IS important is that the focus always be on God, and the fact that even though my body is hurting tonight - my soul is at peace and full of joy because HE LIVES.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Prepare my Heart

I've fallen in love with a baby that I've never met.  Ok - it may be the easiest thing in the world for me to fall in love with any baby - I am a baby fanatic.  At family gathering I go to great measures to make sure I get to hold any baby that happens to be there (and when you have 4 siblings married with children there are always babies around) - and I even take it a step further and try to make that baby fall to sleep so that no one can take them away from me (I mean you can't disturb a sleeping baby!!!).  I drool over the pictures of my friend's babies on facebook.  When I am shopping I somehow always find myself standing in the baby section looking at tiny onesies, adorable baby booties, soft receiving blankets.  Yep,  I've got it bad.  It's been this way my whole life - but probably growing in intensity over the years.  I remember as kids my big sis and I sitting on an old railroad tie that was used as a garden border at my Grandma's house - we had our baby dolls in our laps with our shirts pulled up "nursing" our babies.  :)  Like I said; I LOVE babies!

(my nephew Caleb who loved to squish his head against my arm when he slept)

But this time it's a feeling that is a little different.  This little baby has touched my heart deeply.  I have felt this feeling before.  When I was in Africa visiting an orphanage a little baby walked up to me (I thought she was about 1 but we found out she was at least 2 years old).  She kind of slumped against my leg and I picked her up.  Immediately I knew something was horribly wrong.  She was feverish and very lethargic.  She laid her little black head against my chest and her breathing was shallow and pained.  Her skin was covered in little sores.  I honestly thought she might die in my arms she was so ill.  I found out later that she had been found 2 days before in an abandoned house eating dirt.  A lump forms in my throat as I remember the horror I felt when I knew what this baby had been though.   Thank the Lord we were able to go back 2 weeks later and baby Brenda was sitting at a table eating!  Her skin was shinny and healthy looking and she was alert.  My time in Africa ended but the memory of baby Brenda will never end.   I can never forget her eyes - they almost haunt me. 

This little baby who has touched my heart is also hurting and even though I have never held this baby, my love is real.  This situation has reminded me that there are so many children who are needing something: a home, medical care, and love.  My heart longs so deeply to be in the place where we could help.  I long to give a home to children who need it.  Of course I desire a child because I love babies and children so deeply - but my heart just aches for those who are in pain or in need.  I don't just want any child.  I want a child who really needs us.  This is the reason we have chosen not to use a surrogate when we are ready to start our family.  (and this is a very personal conviction - every situation and family is different and I am not saying that surrogacy is wrong by any means, just that for us that is not an option) We could do that and there have been a couple times when the desire to have a baby that looks like my husband has been strong, and I have briefly considered surrogacy.  I'll probably always miss being able to give birth to a child, or have a child that looks like my sweet Farmer Boy (I mean that would be a beautiful baby!).  But to be honest those desires are nothing when I think of babies that I know need good homes. 

I have been feeling impatient with the place we are in right now - being in school and not having a home of our own or a real job makes it impossible to adopt right now.  I have found myself just longing so deeply to be ready for that day when we will be done with this part of our lives.  But last night I realized that God knows our desires and He knows what the next couple of years will hold, and He already knows the children that have maybe not been born yet that He will put into our home one day.  He is using the situations
where I fall helplessly in love with babies who are in need to prepare me for the baby(s) He will give me one day. 

So today I'm packing up some baby clothes and blankets for this baby that I am praying so hard for - and until the day God brings our babies to us I'll keep trusting and learning to love.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


There are quite a few sayings about flexibility and endurance that I have heard over the years.  Here are some of my favorites:

"Roll with the punches." -?
"Be like a duck and let the bad stuff roll off your back." - Paraphrase by My Farmer Boy
"Buck up babe." - another from my Farmer Boy

Life on this earth will always carry things that are not particularly fun.  It's essential for growth.  When a caterpillar becomes a butterfly it involves a lot of hard work, when a baby chick hatches it's difficult and not easy, when a human baby is born it's poor head gets all squished and it's exhausting for the baby (not to mention the mama!) ... Life involves these times of trying and stretching and yes even hurting for growth.

I am the kind of person who likes to be organized, on time, clean (well unless I'm working in the yard), and scheduled.  Not that I don't love a nice spontaneous date or other fun surprises - but in general I like to know what's going on and be prepared.  This evening I was again reminded that I am not in control.   Everything I was looking forward to for the evening and the weekend changed and I had/have the choice to learn from this and let it be what it is - or fight it and be miserable.   After all, I'm not in control, and the more I see that and turn to God when things start spinning (rather than try harder to control the situation) the deeper my relationship with Him will be. 

And in the end that is what matters most to me. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gungor - Beautiful Things

We sang this song in church on Sunday night and I fell in love with it. Beautiful song, true words for so many situations in life .. listen to it and then allow God to make beautiful things out of whatever you are facing today.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

One of My Favorite Snacks

Yum.  Last night being Friday night I wanted something weekend-ish to nibble on as my sweet Husband and I watched a movie (which actually was a DVD for one of his college classes - but I'll take what I can get as far as quality time with my very busy Student!).  What I love about this snack is that unlike most caramel corn recipies this doesn't use any refined sugar or corn syrup.  I also love how easy and quick it is!  Here is my recipe:

Honey Caramel Corn
About 6-8 cups popped corn (more for less fat version)
4-5 cups rice chex (gluten free!)
put the corn and cereal in a large cake pan.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees (you can bake at higher temp if you are in a hurry but you'll have to check on it a lot to be sure it doesn't burn)
in a saucepan melt together:
1 cube butter
1 cup honey
heat honey mixture until it bubbles together
then pour over corn mixture and toss so that it coats well
bake until lightly browned about 30 minutes

(variation: add flax seeds or any nuts of seeds for some healthy protein!)

store in an airtight container (if you have any left!)

Hope you enjoy!!