Saturday, June 23, 2018

Glimpses of Hope

When the kids were little and we found ourselves with an empty cardboard tube we would look through and see each other. They seemed small and far away, only seeing a glimpse of them. They would let go to see all of me and laugh. I’ve realized this is how I am looking for hope. It’s a scary place to be. I have been asking God just let me see you work this out. Let me see this pain is not in vain. Let me see hope.

I did not realize I have been looking through a cardboard tube. Only looking for hope where I want to see it. When life is difficult I look to glimpses of hope to continue on. But what hope looks like may not be what I am looking for. I want to see hope as everything will return to normal one day...justice, healing, no celiac, diabetes, lupus, or autism. Hope may be found in all of this but not in where I am looking.

My vision of hope is too small. Hope comes in an hour of peace, Hey, do you need to talk, walks in the woods, ugly crying in safe spaces, serving others. This week I went looking for hope but I didn’t look to see hope only in my present situation. I put the tube down and started looking all around. And I glimpsed hope.  The boy found a job...a message from a long lost friend...a hot muggy walk in the woods...the most amazing gluten free grilled cheese. These were the moments that brought me the most joy. This is where I opened my eyes to glimpse hope not just in my situation but in my daily life. This is where I am beginning to see hope again. 

Where do you see hope?

Oh and if you ever wondered if God has a sense of humor...I was asked to help on a youth retreat next week. Guess where I’m staying....Hope College!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

What Do You Have to Share?

This morning I read a little gift and it was SO needed. Each day is a gamble when you live with Lupus, Celiac, or any chronic illness. Today, I am in pain and after changing out of my pajamas and walking downstairs I am exhausted. Today, we have doctor's appointments. Hello! Today is not a good day...but we don’t get this choice. 

What I did get this morning was a gift of wisdom. As I turned off my alarm I pondered whether to take a quick scroll through social media or open my Bible app. Today, like most days when I make the right choice, I find a little gift. 

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Hebrews 13:16 

It is easy to become disheartened when you have to say no I can’t help. We forget we each do good in different ways and have different things to share. Recently there have been several families in my community needing meals. I want to do good and share what I have with others but I’m not dependable because it's a gamble to know if I'll be well enough. I used to be frustrated with myself. Now, I know saying no is okay. I have to do what I am able to do, this is all, not what good I see every one else doing, what they have to share.

I may not have money to donate to a cause or energy to provide a meal for a family but I am able to send an encouraging word. What I have most days are words or just a smile. Giving what I have is not hard, it’s just that sharing what I have feels a little risky at times. And what I have to share is not what you have to share. Maybe you are a listener, a doer. Whether you have financial resources, musical talent, the gifts of wisdom, teaching, or listening we just need to use what we have and share it. There is a saying about Lupus. I have Lupus, Lupus doesn’t have me. Yes, I have Lupus, but I also have gifts I can continue to share with others. Today what I have to share will not include getting much physically accomplished (the laundry pile from my last post may have doubled in size) but I have words and a smile. 

What do you have to share?

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Whole30 take 2: Doing Life in the Mess

I was planning on preparing for a new Whole30, but here I am just jumping in today. Honestly, I was going to start talking about my second Whole30 weeks ago and do prep, then like my life tends to do, it imploded. So, here I am telling you why I’m starting today because yesterday I had thrown in the towel. 

Our family has lived in crisis mode for awhile now. Some days are hard and you have to reach out and say I can’t do this alone. Our Easter was a nice dinner then full out war. War of emotions and anger. When I woke up, after very little sleep I sat in front of my bible and just realized I can’t do this alone. I reached out for prayer, I turned to scripture that had been shared with me. 2 Chronicles 20, because honestly at this time in our life there are no handbooks for our situation. And it’s hard. And just like King Jehoshaphat we are crying out, We do not know what to do, so let’s just keep focusing on you God. 

Yesterday, I was ready do nothing. I wanted to put on my comfy clothes, binge watch tv, and escape. I didn’t want to make hard phone calls, emails to case workers, and schools, let alone fold the laundry. Having a child with special needs is a full time job and I wanted to call in. But we don’t, because our kids need us. So, I was like no way am I starting my Whole30. And all day I argued with myself. It’s too hard right now.

But it’s giving in, hiding in the car eating my feelings. Hating myself. I don’t want that. It’s not good for me, it’s not good for my family. I remember how well I felt on my first Whole30  and let me tell you life was not peachy back then either. So, I’m going to get off this couch make me some Whole30 approved breakfast of sweet potato and eggs, and jump into what I can control. Today is going to be hard emotionally, tomorrow is not looking easier. This is a long journey we are on but I have to take care of my body and my emotions. On my last Whole30 I felt I could do this. Hopefully life won’t be as messy and I will blog more this time around or maybe I’ll blog more and just ignore the mess. 

So, here’s to getting off the couch and doing life in the mess! Maybe, I’ll fold the laundry, nah, who am I kidding! 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Once More

Our church has a Stations of the Cross 24 hours of prayer. It is a time to reflect, pray, and experience Easter with art. During my time tonight I found myself going between a drawing of Peter’s denial and a carving of the empty tomb. 

I feel I am at a place that needs resurrected. 

I opened my bible to read more about these stations. This is what I first opened to: 

Once more. 

My soul is yet again in a state of unrest. I deny God’s power even though time and time again he has been good to me. I am not the first to deny Jesus. Peter denied Christ three times the night before Jesus was crucified. He witnessed Jesus perform countless miracles. The dude walked on water, with Jesus. He still denied knowing him. He was in a state of unrest.

Even though I have seen God’s power in my life, I too deny him. I am denying his hope. His power to heal, how deep will our scars be? Will he deliver justice, how many families must suffer? We see a glimpse of healing, then it is gone. We sit with the elephant in the room. When will my soul be at rest? When will I stop denying his power?

Was Peter, too,looking for rest after his denial of Christ? In Luke 24 when Peter learns of the empty tomb, he runs. He needs to see. Does he now remember the power of Jesus? Does he now know his Jesus, his Lord, has the power to not only heal but resurrect life. Resurrect hope.

Once more. 

On this Easter I am running to the empty tomb and in the emptiness I am once more reminded of his power. He will resurrect my hope. He will once more bring my soul to rest.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

You Are Never Alone in the Fire

Life is not fair. We all know this. If you have a perfect life with no major tragedy you are in the minority. And even though life is not fair we have a choice. How am I going to view my life? What is my perspective? Because honestly I will tell you straight up, my life has had it's sucky moments...And there will be more sucky moments. So here I am on my 41st birthday thinking about my sucky moments...These moments have defined my life and these sucky moments are now blessings. 

Our pastor this week asked us to write down moments in our life God has brought us through. I often think of the story of Shadrach, Mechach, and Abednego in Daniel 3. Their's is a story of life in sucky moments.  They are bound and thrown into a fire, when the king looks into the fire there are no longer three bound men, there is a fourth. Sometimes we are freed from the fire without the smell of smoke, but there is no doubt I have never been in the fire alone. Looking back on my 41 years fires have raged, each time I have come out unbound, and never alone.

I have decided to share a couple big moments to celebrate what God has brought me through and in looking back lessons which prepared me for future fires. These are the fire/sucky moments that rush into my mind when I begin to smell smoke, to remind myself God is with me. 

The death of my sister at 14. She was my rock. She suffered with Lupus for years with dignity. The lesson I will carry for all my days. Love hard, fight hard.

Just a year after her death my Lupus presented in my Central Nervous System. Literally, I lost my mind. I developed psychosis. There were hallucinations, I couldn't spell my name. I wanted it to end. I attempted suicide then spent four weeks in inpatient psychiatric care. I still suffer from chronic depression, I still check in with a therapist. It wasn't until my daughter was in high school that I would see the benefit, the blessing, the lesson. I could see her slipping, going deeper into herself. I saw the signs only because I had felt this darkness so many times. It is like quicksand. Because of my time in the fire, I could stand beside her in hers. And here we are two years later, watching for hot spots because depression doesn't just get better, preparing for graduation and college where she plans on studying music therapy. 

She is graduating in just over two months. I was told I wouldn't be here, she would not be here, we would not survive. I was pregnant with her, just 12 weeks, the doctors asked Jim into the hall. I could hear the question, "What plans do you have?" What plans? I was dying. They wanted to know if we needed help with hospice, did I want to go home? I choose to go home and wait. I had never felt so much peace. Each week I would see the nurses and doctors, each week no improvement. Then 30 weeks came and the doctors called, we don't know how but you're showing signs of improvement, your baby is thriving. She was born two weeks later. They rushed her off. I didn't see her till the next day. I felt peace. When I became pregnant with our son 18 months later we didn't know what the outcome would be. We were given an ultimatum by the doctor. Abort or don't watch your daughter graduate. She wasn't gentle, she was fearful. She had watched her mother die of Lupus. She knew the stress of each pregnancy and each flare to come will damage my body. We choose life for as many days God will give us. Love hard, fight hard.

These are my big fires, moments that suck the breathe out of me. There will always be fires, our family can smell the smoke right now. But we know we are not alone, God is walking right along side, unbounding us, and in time we will see the lesson, the blessing. Happy birthday to me as I am sitting here at 41 with my family, loving hard, fighting hard.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

To Be Revived I Must Be Healed

I asked God to revive me this year. Revive. The word I chose to transform my life in 2017. I did not realize to be revived I would need to be broken or allow what has been broken to be exposed.

Revive - to give new strength. 

He will renew our strength. Isaiah 40:31...As if we have lost it...

I thought being strong meant I don’t fall apart. There are no cracks in my faith. Everything looks good from the outside so everything on the inside must be good. 

Strong...because God will keep me strong. Those who trust in the Lord will not grow weary. They will stay strong.  I am growing weary, losing my strength. However, I still believe God will keep me strong enough to not grow weary to the point I cannot persevere. I think...  What if cracks begin to form in my trust and my joy begins to crack? Doubt begins to seep in, am I too far past the point of perseverance? What if healing is what I need to persevere? To be revived?

As I have asked God to bring me revival I expected him to bring a fire to my faith. Instead, it has brought me to my knees, broken with no words, calling out Lord, Lord. 

I’ve spent years praying for physical healing but never have I thought to pray for emotional healing. Illness has taken a toll not only on my body but on my mind as well. And surely the cracks are now clearly evident. I may greet you with a smile, but I find myself retreating. I haven’t been in a church service in months. As the music begins the tears flow and I retreat. My heart was not prepared for the emotional trials we are now facing because I have not allowed healing to take place. I ignored my emotional health while urging my body to fight. The ups and downs of life with a chronic illness leave scars not only on my body but in my mind as well. It has taken a family trial to bring these scars to light.

And where light is allowed healing will begin. This is where I will find my revival, healing. It is here I will gain new strength, it is here I am challenged to allow Him to heal my heart.

...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.   2 Corinthians 5:17 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

When Lupus Tries to Interrupt a Whole30

I am officially halfway into my first Whole30 and it has been full of highs and a few lows.

I’ll share my lows first but I have a hard time labeling them lows because there are valuable lessons in each one.

It is not a magic cure. I know not everyone has the same results but I was hoping the amazing energy would last. I started off feeling great but my Lupus decided despite my healthy choices to take me down. 

Overcoming food issues is not easy. I have dealt with eating disorders in the past and I did not expect the fear. Fears of eating too much, not knowing my weight. I have some work to do.

Highs, these are awesome!

My celiac disease is completely nonexistent. Eating clean whole foods takes away the majority of the risk of being glutened.

Sleep is great!

Learning to notice my non scale victories. I am totally loving The Whole30 Day By Day by Melissa Hartwig. Each day I find encouragement and I am reminded to look for my non scale victories. If you are thinking of planning a Whole30 this is an excellent tool.

Trying new recipes. The Whole30 is one man show at our house, except dinner. Although my family seems to be eating a 2nd dinner, usually consisting of cereal and oatmeal pies, they are served a delicious Whole30 compliant dinner. But 2nd dinner is a real thing at our house without a Whole30. No one has complained. Roasted broccoli and cauliflower rice are now a family favorite. I have accepted I cannot control all the food that is brought into the house or how many dinners some people may eat. I can control saying no. 

Saying no is big for me, especially when it comes to food. Food is my comfort when I am sick. So the fact that I’ve felt like I was hit by a truck for the past week and have not focused on food is a giant step.

There are definitely more highs than lows but even my lows are highs. They have opened my eyes to emotions that are just below the surface. Emotions that are ready to be exposed. It will be difficult but I am being  given the chance to see if I can really put these lessons into practice. My ability to say no is going to be challenged. I am currently sitting in my doctors office and the visible signs of Lupus are present. Puffy hands that barely move and the no denying butterfly rash. I am officially no longer in remission. Prednisone burst starts today. Prednisone and food control have never been compatible for me. I will be relying heavily on prayer partners and bible verses, along with the lessons I’m learning through my non scale victories. I think I’m going to be alright, but I do wonder how my family will feel about a lock on the pantry. 

Here is one of my favorite easy go to meals. Sautéed Salad and Chicken Sausage.

• 2 t Garlic Ghee

• 1/2 Cup Beets

• 3 Cups Kale & Shredded Brussel Sprout 

               Salad mix

• 1 Chicken Sausage Link

Melt Ghee in frying pan then add remaining ingredients. Sauté until salad mix cooks down about 4 minuets. *Always remember to check your labels for Whole30 compliance.