Tuesday, April 26, 2011
It being warm enough to open my windows & enjoy the breeze.
Having lunch with my Bible study friends. They are such a sweet blessing to my life!
3 specific prayers being answered in the last 2 days. God is so good!
Friends who bless my life by emailing me & calling me.
The fact that this is the last week in April...summer's coming...hopefully!
Having the energy to go for a walk around the block.
Sleeping well last night!
Being able to get all the things done on my to-do list 2 days in a row.
A fun weekend getting to see both my parents & my brother.
A quick phone call with my sister!
Manageable pain today!!!
When I take the time to stop & thank God I realize how much there truly is to be thankful for. What are you thankful for today?
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
This morning I woke up & checked facebook right away (tell me I’m not alone in this!). As I scanned through pictures & status updates I came across a verse a friend had posted. It was a verse I knew & even had memorized but something about reading it today struck me in a different way & I knew I needed to blog about it after I came home from Bible study. An hour later as I sat in Bible study watching the Beth Moore video I glanced down at the outline and sure enough this verse was our topic of conversation. I love how God’s timing is so perfect & specific. He knew my tendency to get busy with the day & worn out from the pain and forget about this blog that He laid on my heart. I am sure this verse being included in my lesson this morning is just another reminder from Him.
The verse God laid on my heart is: 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 Paul says:
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
This verse speaks so much to how I am feeling dealing with ever increasing pain and fatigue. Paul pleaded with the Lord to remove the thorn in his flesh. Oh how I can relate! I have pleaded more times than I can count to have this pain taken from me. I love how this verse shows me that I’m not alone in pleading with my Father in Heaven to take away from me the thorns that come into my life. But for me the part of this verse that I know I need to hear is the remainder of the verse. His grace is sufficient for me. His power is made perfect in my weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
So today I’m boasting in my weakness to all of you. So many people take for granted the ability to go to sleep when they want, wake up pain free and rested, work a full time job & leave the house whenever they want. I can’t. But instead of despising that, I know this verse is showing me that my weakness is an opportunity to see the power of God!
Many Christians struggle with doing things in their own strength instead of relying on God and while I surely do too I can also say having chronic pain does break you of that real quick. I am very acutely aware every single day of my weakness. I have no illusions that I can get through a day without Jesus. I can’t. I can’t even get through an hour without God. This pain is a daily, hourly, sometimes minute-by-minute reminder that I am totally and completely weak and need God to do anything. Like Paul I want to boast in this weakness. If you see me at church on Sunday or Bible study on Tuesdays give praise to God. If you see me at the office on Monday or at the library with the kids on Wednesday give praise to God. If you see out of the house period and especially at night give praise to God. If I respond to your email or meet you for coffee give praise to God. These are all things my body is too weak to do on it’s own but with the strength of God all things are possible. I want to encourage you today if you have thorns in your life continue to bring them to God but whether He removes them or not delight in that weakness, boast about it for all the world to hear for it’s an amazing opportunity for the power of God to rest on you and the world to see the amazing God we serve who tells us when we are weak then we are strong!
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Sorry for the absence friends! I will try to be better about blogging more frequently but sometimes my body doesn’t cooperate with all that I want or need to get done-I’m sure many of you can relate! The last few months have been a big growing time for me but instead of it being filled with wonderful mountain-top experiences with God this season of growing has been quite painful…in more ways than one. I started out 2011 with getting hit by serious pain on Jan 2nd that lasted until mid February. My pain is like a ball rolling down a hill, once something sets it off it won’t stop until I hit bottom. And hit bottom I did. Weeks of relentless pain wear on a person more than just physically. I was mentally exhausted and had reached my limit. I was tired of living this way and had come very close to losing hope that things would ever get better. I hit my bottom on Valentine’s Day driving home from Bible study when I cried out to God & told Him I was giving up & He had to take over. I have a feeling that’s what He was waiting for me to say all along. That week I started new medicine to help my pain & whether God used that or just healed me apart from that-either way He intervened and almost overnight my pain went from out of control to manageable. I enjoyed 5 weeks of more manageable pain and fatigue and my walk with God grew. I’ve been involved in a Beth Moore Bible study through my church. I love dearly the ladies in my group and the way they bless and encourage me. The study we are doing on the life of Paul has greatly challenged me to live my life like Paul did-relying on the strength of God, finding my contentment in Him, allowing trials to mature me in Christ, and making my walk with the God the most important thing in my life. I even started apart from my Bible study reading, reading through the Bible according to a plan that would allow to read all it in one year. I was in a better place for those few weeks than I’d been for awhile.
And then 3 weeks ago-bam! I was hit with severe pain again that has yet to go away. Every time my pain flares up I go through a series of emotions. First I freak out trying to figure why it’s bad again and if I can do something to stop it. When I realize it’s not going away I settle in to deal with severe pain that can sometimes last as much as 2 months without even the slightest relief. I try to remember the countless lessons God has taught me through the pain. I continue on with my Bible study and prayer times. Convinced that this time I will endure the pain just like a perfect little Christian would. And then phase 3 hits, like it did the last 2 weeks. After weeks of pain and realizing you see no end in sight, my ability to handle things like a perfect little Christian wanes. The sheer exhaustion of dealing with the pain leads to a short fuse and lack of patience. Even the slightest things can bother me when I’m in a bad pain state. It takes all my energy to deal with the pain. I just have nothing left to deal with anything else. The constant pain also brings out feelings of sadness and hopelessness. When you have no end in sight to the pain and feel like you’re missing out of living because of it, it can be especially hard to deal with. I so desperately want to live the life God wants me to. I want to accomplish all that He has for me but honestly sometimes my biggest accomplishment in a day is that I’m able to get off the couch! The last 2 weeks for me has been a mix of pain, exhaustion, sadness, anger and guilt. And the guilt may just be the worst. I’ve been a Christian for 12 years this July and have made huge strides in my walk with God but every time this pain hits hard I feel hugely attacked to forget all that God has done and focus on the mistakes I make in dealing with the pain. Isn’t that just like the enemy to hit you when you’re down? Even writing this blog is something I’m attacked with. There are many things I want to share, teach and encourage. But every time I respond to the frustration of the pain in a a way I shouldn’t this blog is thrown up in my face that I have no business teaching anyone else when I have so many things to learn myself. But I know that is a lie of the enemy to get me to stay silent about God.
Chronic pain can be so hard to understand if you’ve never experienced it. It’s not like the occasional back pain that flares up every once in awhile for some people. Studies have even shown that chronic pain is much more severe and intense than the occasional aches and pains of getting old. I tell people to imagine the worst flu they’ve had-pain all over & complete exhaustion. Now imagine feeling that way everyday for years. That’s what chronic pain is like. It’s not like other trials in life that you can escape from. If you have troubles at work for example you can at least somewhat escape them when you go home. I can never escape myself…believe me I would if I could sometimes! I am realizing through this pain that there are always more lessons and refining that God is doing in me. Through this current struggle I am learning to not be so hard on myself and to give myself more grace. No matter how hard I try I will still make mistakes in dealing with this pain. I am not perfect and I most assuredly make those mistakes when I am relying on my own strength. I am very good about praying for other people but very often leave myself off the list. Sure I’ll throw out a prayer for strength here or there especially over specific pains but in terms of praying more for my mental state in dealing with the pain I need to get much better. The other thing I’m learning is I need to reach out to others and let them encourage me. Chronic pain is isolating. I spend a lot of time alone dealing with the pain and feeling like no one has any clue how I feel. And even though there may be few people I know that know how I feel physically they can still be used by God to encourage me or at least help temporally take my mind off it. I am always careful to try not to be a burden to my friends and for that reason often don’t say anything when my pain is really bad. And let’s be honest it’s much easier to say you’re fine than to explain that your pain is bad again. I feel like people understand and are nice when you’re doing bad once or even twice but when problems go on for years it makes some people uncomfortable. But real friends stick closer than brothers and I shouldn’t worry that my being honest will make me lose their friendship. Dealing with pain alone cheats me out of being encouraged and cheats my friends out of the ability to encourage me. And while there is certainly a balance so that I’m not being a complainer I definitely need to be more honest with how I’m feeling.
So friends if you’re still reading after this long post I am asking if God brings me to mind in this next week please pray for me. Pray specifically for my pain to get better, for my ability to mentally handle the pain without feelings of sadness, hopelessness and anger and that God would give me excitement for the future and all the ways I know He will use me. Even asking for prayer is a tad uncomfortable for me. I would rather use my blog as place to teach, pray for and encourage all of you but today I know it’s the right thing to do.We serve a mighty God who hears and answers our prayers! I'm so grateful to all of you who pray for me.