Saturday, July 30, 2011

17 Years and Counting

Today Nathan and I are celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary.  July 30, 1994 we said, "I do".  I cannot even wrap words around how much I love him.  He is the most amazing person I've ever known.  I am so blessed he loves me and loves me unconditionally.

Nathan has the kindest spirit about him.  He is gentle, but can still be firm when needed.  He easily believes the best in someone and is slow to judge.  He quickly forgives.  He stands firm in his beliefs.  He's passionate about standing for the right thing and won't back down from anyone when it comes to defending what's right and honorable.  I've seen him go to bat for so many people... those he loves and those he doesn't even know.  Nathan has this way about him that makes people feel like everything is going to be okay when he's with you.  You feel safe.  It's not just me who feels this.  I've had so many people tell me they feel the same way.

I have never met anyone who has ever pointed out any quality about him that is negative.  He's not perfect.  He's human and makes mistakes just like everyone else.  But his character far outweighs his imperfections, making them hard to see.  I tease him and tell him it gets old having people tell me constantly what a great guy he is and how much they love and respect him.  Seriously, all the time I'm told this.  I've told my mom several times I think she likes him more than she likes me.

With the birth of each of our daughters, I fell in love with him more.  Something about the way he held them and talked to them... the way he would show them off to other people made my heart swell.  He has always been quick and willing to help with them.  He's very involved in their lives.  They probably think at this stage in their lives a little too involved.  Sara is just like him and it often causes them to butt heads.  She loves him though.  She's proud he's her daddy and loves that he's always there.  Hannah has always been a daddy's girl.  To this day she loves to crawl up in his lap.  I love they way he's their biggest cheerleader, how encourages them to always do their best and will praise them for their accomplishments.

He has stuck with me through every challenge we have ever had to face.  Leaving has never been an option.  He just rolls up his sleeves and does what needs to be done to get us through it.  When I got sick, there he was right by my side.  When I'm in the hospital, he rarely leaves.  He sits right beside my bed making sure I have every thing I need.  He has spent countless nights sleeping in a chair beside my bed.  When I freaked out because I thought I was going to have to go to an inpatient rehab, he chose to take family leave from his job and stayed home for 3 months to take care of me.  He did everything and never complained.

This is the man who loves me and I am so grateful to the Lord for giving him to me.

I love you, Nathan.  I love you more today than I did the day we married but not as much as I will tomorrow.  I cherish you.  Happy Anniversary, Babe!  You are my hero!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Life with CIDP

It hasn't been the best of weeks, but it also hasn't been the worst either.  I am hoping my extreme tiredness is just lingering aftereffects of overdoing it.  I don't know if my mind will ever understand I'm just not able to do what I think I can.  I can't seem to figure out how far to push myself and when it's time to rest.  The heat is definitely exacerbating everything.  It is draining and makes me want to pull my skin off.  It makes me feel like I'm being stuck with pins all over and it becomes harder to get a deep breath.  I swell so much I almost can't bend my ankles, my lips start becoming numb and I can see the tops of my cheeks.  I've wondered if I have forgotten a dose of my Lyrica at some point this week because my legs have felt like I have electrical shocks going through them.  My feet have been heavy.  I missed the step coming in the house Wednesday and fell.  I noticed while trying to fold clothes yesterday my arms are weak.  My fingers have been inflamed, so it's been hard to write or type.  It's was hard holding my fork at dinner last night.  It's been hard to sit up straight and my head has been boggling.  I'm having trouble sleeping because I can't get comfortable due to the pain.  Being tired adds to the issue of my left eye not being able to focus correctly because my eye muscles are losing strength.

It could be worse.  I can walk.  I can take care of my basic needs without much help.  I have avoided having a migraine for a little over 3 weeks now.  I'm not having to go through seemingly unbearable treatments right now.  I haven't been in the hospital in a year.  It could definitely always be worse.

Even though the heat is magnifying my symptoms, I deal with most of this all the time.  It's just part of living with CIDP.  It's not easy.  Dealing with the physical symptoms is hard enough, but it also leaves me isolated at times.  I am blessed to have the most amazing friends a girl could ever ask to be given, and to have been given so many of them.  Seriously.  They come by to bring me a Sonic drink and just visit.  Typically the same friend picks me up for bible study, but if she can't, there is always a friend standing in line to fill in for her.  Sometimes they come and get me and take me to their house so I can hang out on their couch for the day.  They take me to lunch or bring lunch to me.  They bring me dinner.  When Nathan has be out of town, they are right there making sure I'm taken care of... bringing me dinner, dropping by to check on me and whatever else needs to done.  They are encouragers... sending me text, emails, notes in the mail.  If I need them in any way for anything, they are there... eager and willing.  Yes, I am blessed.

But they have lives too.  They have families they have to take care of and other responsibilities.  Even though I have many friends, it never fails there are times when all of them are busy and unavailable at the very same time.  It's hard and depressing.  I throw huge pity parties and become totally self absorbed.  I forget every blessing I have and focus only on the hard things.  I don't like those seasons, and I dread them coming.

It feels like I'm in one of those seasons right now.  Two of my best friends are out of town for 2 weeks on vacation.  One of my other best friends is currently preparing to move 2 hours away... that in itself is devastating.  I sob every time I think about it.  Others are getting back into the swing of school.  A couple of friends have had sick kids.  My family has gone back to school this week.  They leave at 7:10 every morning and don't get home until between 6:00-6:30 every evening because of after school activities.

A couple of days ago I called a friend I hadn't talked to in quite awhile to check on a friend who's mother is dying.  I worked with both of these friends for 17 years.  I lost my job when I got sick.  It was so hard.  It took me 3 months to touch the stuff that had been packed up from my desk, and even then I just took out my pictures and threw the rest of it away.  It was like I had experienced a major death in my life.  I hardly ever talk to my friends I worked with because they are so busy.  I spent 7-8 hours a day with them, for 17 years, and in a blink of an eye it's gone.  I miss them so much.  Honestly, there are times I just sit and cry about it.

Everyone is busy but me.  Life seems to keep going for everyone else, but my life seems to be at a standstill.  It can be so lonely.  I feel cut off from the outside world.  Why does this happen, and why is it that all of my friends and family can become super busy at the exact same time?

I don't know.  At least I don't know all the reasons why.  But I do know this, during those times the Lord is calling me to cling to Him.  I think sometimes, well I know sometimes, my friendships can become idols in my heart.  Instead of running to Jesus, I run to them first.  It should be just the opposite, and I'm not proud of it.  I do it though.  Often.  I think when my friendships start becoming more important than my relationship with Him, He allows those friends to fade away for a season.  He allows their lives to become busy and leaving them unavailable to me causing my need for Him to become the priority.

He never leaves.  He never takes a vacation.  He never becomes too occupied to meet every need I have.  He's there, always and forever.  He is the greatest blessing I have ever been given.

I don't feel well today.  I would love to be spending the day with a friend.  So, that's what I'm going to do today.  I'm going to spend the day with Jesus.  I'm going to turn off the TV, put on some music and work on my bible study... and spend some time praying.  I think I also need to just spend some time be still and listening to His voice.  It's way overdue.

Monday, July 25, 2011

When Two Loves Become One

I have a love for Sonic.  I'm really hoping God puts one right next door to me in heaven.  My friends bring me a Sonic drink when they come for a visit.  My homehealth nurses have even brought them to me.  When I've had doctor appointments that haven't gone as I would have wished, Sonic is the first place we head.  It's the stop we make on the way home from treatments.  Sometimes we head to Sonic just so I can get out of the house.

My friend Deborah has a love for Sonic also.  So much so that one of her twin boys called her out.  She picked me up one day so we could have Sonic and visit.  As she pulled into the parking place, Micah starts swinging his legs and doing the hand signals for more while he was saying more, more over and over.  I laughed so hard and asked her exactly how often does she really go to Sonic. : )  I think the boys are developing a love for Sonic too.  They love having the cups and straws, so she gets them ice water and they are happy as can be.  So adorable!

I used to think nothing could top a Sonic coke.  Seriously.  I'm pretty addicted to their lemon slush too, but a Sonic coke is a Sonic coke.  I love sweet tea, but even the best sweet tea could never beat out a Sonic coke.

Until I had Sonic sweet tea!  In all the years I have been going to Sonic, I had never had their sweet tea.  I don't know why.  I guess because I figured why mess with a good thing?  Sonic was the best place to get my coke or a lemon slush, and if I had a hankering for sweet tea I'd get it from McDonalds or Strouds.  Strouds is a local BBQ place and they have some good tea also.

Friday night my love for Sonic and my love for sweet tea became one.  We had been at couple's wedding shower for my cousin.  It was a Luau and let me tell you the weather certainly made it feel authentic.  I know the heat index had to be 120 degrees.  Nathan knows me well and knew I'd want to stop for a Sonic drink.  I had every intention of getting a lemon slush, but once I got there and saw the advertisement for sweet tea I thought I give it a try.

That sweet tea was the best.  Just as sweet as I like it and mixed with Sonic ice made me want to do a happy dance... well, you know, if I could dance.  Some day I'll dance.  When I get to heaven and I'm next door at Sonic drinking my sweet tea with all of my friends. 

Facebook and Prayer

I've had some of you ask what I learned in Sunday school yesterday.  Before I can share it, I need to process it some.  There are parts of it that also went along with yesterday's sermon, and it is a lot to chew on right now.  I am still under a lot of conviction, and I'm having to spend a lot of time praying, asking the Lord to give me wisdom how to handle some conflicts currently in my life.  When Caleb, my pastor, and I talked last Wednesday, he said this study is just going to get harder.  He certainly is right about that.  I am grateful there was proof yesterday our misunderstanding is completely resolved.  I had a lot to ask and share in class yesterday, to the dismay of my oldest daughter.  It never entered my mind how uneasy I had felt for the past 3 weeks.  I didn't even think about it until last night when I was praying and the Lord brought it to my mind.  Although it was a tough class, I learned a lot from things others shared yesterday.  So, I need to process.  Then I will share.  For now though, I want to change gears.

When Facebook first became popular, I was not a fan.  I actually in some ways am still not.  I only set up an account because our youth director suggested all of the parents do so as a way to monitor what our children were doing.  I saw it as a huge waste of time.  It has some positive aspects to it, but sometimes I think the negative far outweighs the positive.  It can a be a way to hurt people, an added temptation to do something wrong, a way to gossip, a way to slander someone, etc.

Yesterday afternoon I sat down to catch up on Facebook, and as I scrolled down reading post, and the conversations that people where having underneath those post, I counted 17 that were direct hits toward someone.  Eleven of those were from adults.  It just made me so sad and angry.  I hate ____ , and Listen to what ____ has done this time, were how a few of them began.  Believe it or not, some of them were even worse.  I started thinking back to others I have read in the past.  I know some of you are thinking, If you don't like it, delete me.  I have a right to post what I want to.   However, that's not really my point.  I just wonder why are people doing that?  How would you feel if you were being slandered by someone on Facebook?  And when adults do this, is it showing our children it's really okay to "cyber bully" someone?

We did talk in Sunday school yesterday about how sometimes when we have been offended by someone we can have a tendency to blab to the world what that person has done.  We do it as a way to lash out.  A way to hurt that person like they have hurt us.  I think if we all search out our hearts, we have to admit we've done that.  I have.  Many times.  And as that was pointed out yesterday, I once again felt hot coals being poured on my head.  One more thing to be added as evidence of how wrong I have been in handling conflict.

Before posting a slanderous post, please pause and think about it first.

Even though Facebook has some really negative aspects, it also has many positive ones.  It's a way to stay in touch with old friends, share the joys in our lives and share things that have made us laugh.  It can be a way for some to gain some business.  We can use it to ask folks where we can find the cheapest gas, where can we find a certain product or ask if someone can suggest a good movie or a place to eat.  It can be a way to encourage and to share a bible verse that is on our heart that day.  There a many other things it can be used for that are positive.  But the one thing I find the absolute most positive thing it can be used for is a way to ask for prayer.  Everyday I read several prayer request.  I've used it for that reason.  When I'm in the hospital Nathan and I use it as a way to keep folks updated on what's going on.  It's the easiest way to keep everyone updated, instead of having to make 50 phone calls.  It's a way to get prayer request out to so many people.

Prayer is the best thing we can do for someone.  Picking someone up, carrying them to Jesus and laying them at the foot of the cross far outweighs anything else we could ever do.  Nothing even compares.  When I tell someone I am going to pray for them, I write it down on my prayer list.  If I don't, I forget.  I also pause and pray for them once I've made the commitment to pray.  I usually do it silently in my head.  Last week Mary and I were having lunch with a friend.  Mary asked her to be praying about something.  So she did.  Right there in the middle of our lunch, sitting in the tea room we were eating at, she prayed.  It made me think of one of my best friend's mom.  Mama Jean, that's what I call her, will stop and pray, regardless of where you are at, when you ask her to pray for something.  What an example of walking the talk!  I wish I could be bold like them.  I'm just too concerned about what the people around me would think about it.  It shouldn't even be a concern though.

If Facebook can be a great way to send out prayer request, so can this blog.  So I want to make a list of things that I have been asked to pray about and ask you to join me.

Brittany ~ She is the sister of a friend.  She lost her baby boy at 31-32 weeks.  She is also having some medical complications.

Connie ~ She is one of my very best friends and I love her deeply.  She will very soon be moving two hours away.  There is so much that needs to be lifted up in prayer.  Pray their house sales and they are able to find permanent housing soon.  Pray for the sadness involved in this move, for her and her family.  It's hard.  I cry every time I stop and think about how she won't be 10 mins away anymore.

Stephanie ~ She is my cousin and has been fighting cancer for a long time.  Her courage amazes me.  Please pray the Lord will heal her.

Jason ~ He is my brother.  He's going through a heartbreaking season.  Pray he will lean hard on Jesus.  Also, pray for my nephew, Joshua.  This is a hard, hard season for them.

Darryl ~ He is one of my dearest friends who is like a big brother to me.  He is starting a new endeavor in his career.  Please pray for wisdom so he makes the right decisions and can clearly see the path the Lord has laid out.  

Andy & Misty ~  Andy is my cousin and will be getting married in about 3 weeks.  Pray he and Misty will keep the Lord first in their marriage. 

Ann ~  Such a precious friend who is missing fellowship at church so much.  She is taking care of her elderly mother and they are unable to come to church.

Landon ~  He is my cousin's son.  He is experiencing some medical issues.  Please pray the doctors can figure out what is causing the issues and they know how to best treat them.

Heather, Alissa, Alicia, Mandy ~  They are expecting.  Please pray for uneventful pregnancies and healthy babies.

Larry ~ He is a friend who had a hip replacement this past week.  Please pray he heals quickly and doesn't have any complications.  Also, pray for his wife Mandy.  She has her hands full taking care of two small boys and is pregnant.

Barbara ~  She is a friend who has been asked to participate in a big project.  Pray for wisdom and guidance. 

Me ~  It's been a hard week physically.  I have been excessively tired, weak and dizzy.  I've had some very painful days recently also.  I've had a couple of moments when I've been scared.  Please pray my symptoms are due to just overdoing it and not getting enough rest, and it's not a flare up of my disease.  I've been stable for a year now (Praise the Lord!) and I'm ask you to pray that continues.  Praise the Lord I haven't had very many migraines lately!

If you have a prayer request you would like to add, you can add it in the comments or shoot me an email and I'll add it to the list.  

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Being Diagnosed with CIDP

January 10, 2008 is the day my life changed forever.  Sometimes it all seems like a dream, a nightmare actually.  I wake up some mornings thinking it's time to get up and get ready for work.  It's been 3 1/2 years, and I often wonder if I will ever get used to this new "normal" in my life.

About 4 or 5 years prior, I went to see a neurologist because I believed I had Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  The pain in my left arm had gotten to the point I couldn't tolerate it anymore.  After doing an EMG and a brief physical exam, he looked at me and asked me if anyone had ever told me I had neuropathyI had never been told that.  If he had not done the EMG, I don't know I would have trusted his diagnosis.  I wasn't very impressed with him and never intended to go back.  As time went on, my gait began to change and my feet began to shuffle across the floor as I walked.  I had been told by co-workers they knew when I was coming up the hall because they recognized my footsteps.  I also would fall occasionally.  I would just be standing or walking and my left leg would just give out.

In 2006, I was hit in the rear-end one morning on my way to work.  At the time I was hit, I didn't notice anything being wrong, but as the morning wore on, my left leg began to hurt all the way down to my toes.  I saw my family doctor later that morning.   He believed my sciatic nerve was inflamed but wanted me to see a neurologist to make sure nothing else was wrong.  I ended up going back to see the same neurologist.  He accused me of wanting to get a big fat insurance check.  I vowed then, I'd never go back to see him!  My sciatic nerve, to this day, has never healed.  I started to fall more frequently, my gait started getting worse and the pain was almost constant.  For the next year, my doctor tried to convince to go see another neurologist.  I finally agreed.

Dr. Richards, my family doctor sent me to see Dr. Gaw.  He confirmed I had neuropathy, but he couldn't figure out why.  He was in process of continuing to run tests, trying to determine the cause of the neuropathy and why I was falling so often, when I collapsed in my office on January 10,  2008.

I hadn't felt well that morning, but I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong.  I had just had a conversation with a friend about lunch.  I was going to finish up what I was doing while she ran to the restroom and I'd be ready to go.  I got up from my desk to go file some papers on a few charts, and thing I remember next is people screaming my name and hearing sirens in the background.  I knew they were coming for me.  I was taken to the hospital.  They ran a few test but could find nothing wrong with me.  I was weak, but other than that, everything was fine.  They sent me home and over the next few days I became weaker and weaker.  Dr. Richards called every day to check on me and on the fourth day I told him I could hardly walk anymore.  He said he was going to call and talk to Dr. Gaw and would call me back.  In just a few minutes, my husband called and said he was on his way to pick my up.  Dr. Richards called him and said Dr. Gaw wanted to see me just as soon as he could get me there.

After a brief examination, Dr. Gaw left the room to go call Dr. Richards back.  When he returned he said he was sending me to the hospital for direct admit.  He was admitting me through the ER because he could get tests done quicker than he could if I were already in a room.  I told him I'd have to go home and get a few things.  He informed me I didn't have time.  I needed to immediately leave his office and head to the hospital.  I still had no idea at this point what they were thinking.  Dr. Richards had told my husband when he called him, but they didn't tell me.  I think they were just trying to keep me calm.  Once I got to the hospital they immediately took me back and within moments a nurse was hooking me up to an IV and a doctor was in the room.  I remember thinking, this must be serious, but it wasn't until Dr. Richards walked in the room and sat down that I was certain it was serious.  They were waiting for radiology to come and get me for an MRI.  I'm extremely claustrophobic, so they had to pump me full of ativan.  All of this was happening as he came into the room, so as soon as I realized it was definitely serious, the ativan started taking affect and I really didn't care.  I did, however, care when they slid me into the MRI machine.  After 12 mg of ativan, I was still screaming for them to get me out of there.  The only thing I remember about that is thinking I was climbing out of pink cake.

By the time I was taken up to a room, it was late evening.  My room was crowded with family and friends and they were spilling out into the hallway.  I still had no idea what they believed to be wrong.  Within minutes, Dr. Gaw entered the room and gave me the news.  He was certain I had Gillian Barre'He said he hoped it had been caught quickly enough that once they started the treatments it would stop progressing, but there was good chance I could be on a ventilator by morning.  He then said there was also a possibility I might not even make it through the night.  I was in shock.  I knew what Gillian Barre' was because it had struck the ladies basketball coach at the University in my town a couple of years prior, but I couldn't wrap my head around the possibility it was happening to me.  I don't know what everyone else had been told at that point, but knew everyone had a worried look on their face.  I remember telling them, they think they've caught it early enough and everything is going to be okay.  Somehow I thought it was my job to comfort them, but on the inside I was terrified.

After everyone left and my husband fell asleep in the chair next to me, I began to pray.  Lord Jesus, please don't let me die.  I fell asleep crying and when I woke up the next morning I couldn't move my legs at all.  But I was alive and I wasn't on a ventilator!  First thing, they took me down for a spinal tap and shortly after that they began the IVIG treatment.  By the grace of God, because Dr. Gaw had already ran every test, with the exception of the spinal tap, treatment was able to begin days sooner than it would have otherwise.  It could have been much worse if more time had lapsed before treatment was able to begin.  Thank you, Lord, for your mercy!

Sunday morning I woke up with a massive headache.  It was the worst headache I had ever had in my life!  My friend, Connie, came to stay with me that morning so Nathan could run home and shower.  Shortly after she got there, the nurses sat me up in a chair.  I really thought for a moment I was having a stroke my head was hurting so bad, and then I started throwing up.  The IVIG had caused me to get chemical meningitis.  It was horrible!  I couldn't even stand to hear someone breathe.  After the IVIG treatment was complete and the chemical meningitis calmed down, the social worker came in one morning and told me I was being transferred to inpatient rehab.  I lost it!  We ended making the decision Nathan would take family leave and I would return home.

The next week I began outpatient rehab.  I was slowly making progress.  Then in April, I was sitting in Sunday school and suddenly couldn't raise my arms.  Back in the hospital I went to start another round of IVIG.  Another round of IVIG and another bout of chemical meningitis.  Because it hit again, and Gillian Barre' typically only happens once, Dr. Gaw was sure I had CIDP.  CIDP is an acronym for Chronic Inflammatory Demylinating Polyneuropathy.  It can best be explained here and here.  He sent me to Vanderbilt to see a neurologist who specializes in neuropathic diseases.  She confirmed it was CIDP.    

I will post later what happened from there.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Making Peace Continued further...

It really is impossible to know how the Lord will use something He's working on in my heart to stir up the work in someone else.  It's so hard to take a deep breath and admit, this is something I'm struggling with in my heart to be able openly share it.  It can be embarrassing and makes me vulnerable.  But tonight as I sat with two of my cousins and they shared their hearts with me after reading what I've written, God was whispering in my ear, You are not alone and now they know they aren't either.  Each of our situations are different, but the struggle is still the same.  We need God's grace, and we need His wisdom.

As I sat and watched everyone visit tonight, the Lord pointed out to me so many hurts He has healed and relationships that had been reconciled.  Sure there are those things that are still "works in progress", but the thing to hold on to is He is at work and progress is being made.  Praise Him that there's still hope for me!

Thank you, Lord for giving me an unexpected evening that became a visual reminder to me of your mercy, love and grace.

Making Peace Continued...

First, I want to thank you all for your encouragement and sweet comments on my blog, email and face to face.  Thank you!!  I've had 6 emails asking me to explain CIDP, how I was diagnosed and how it effects my life today.  I am working on a post to explain all of that and hope to have it finished tomorrow.

We had Grace group last night and the scripture we read went hand in hand with what I've been thinking about this week.  Conflict, offenses and how does God expect me to deal with them.  Isn't it so amazing how God is always in the many details of our lives?  I know He is always right there, smack dab in the middle of it, working it for my good and His glory, yet why am I always in amazement when it happens?  Brings me to tears every time I think about how His promises will never return void... never!

I was working on my bible study early this morning and when I turned to Philippians this verse jumped out at me.  Maybe because it's highlighted in pink, but it was the Holy Spirit who prompted me to highlight it.  He has given this verse time after time to my friends to send to me in emails, cards, handwritten notes and text messages.

For I am confident of this very thing, he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:6

I've written these notes in my bible surrounding this verse...

NOTHING can change this... Not even me!
God never starts something He doesn't finish.
Paul is confident ~ 100% certain.
He does it through grace.

This verse applies to so many different things in my life, but for this season it seems to apply to conflict, peace and forgiveness.  Am I dealing with offenses biblically?  I would love to say I have learned so much through studying The Peacemaker , that I have learned to deal with everything in my life the way Christ would have me to do so.  I haven't.  Not even close.  I have more questions today than I did the day we started the study.  I am probably going to have to buy the book after all.  I do, however, spend more time praying and asking Him to show me how He would have me handle not the just wrongs made against me, but for the wrongs I have done to others.  I will tell you, I am under some strong conviction.

For I am confident of this very thing, he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:6

On Wednesday I was finally able to talk to Caleb, my pastor.  You can read about why that was needed here.  I had to apologize for brushing him off when he tried to apologize for hurting my feelings.  I was wrong, and petty I might add, to say, I'll get over it.  He willingly forgave me immediately and he apologized for anything he said that hurt me.  He really didn't owe me an apology.  My emotions were raw that day, and I totally mistook his words.  We talked through what he meant when he gave his reason for his pace in getting through the book.  I walked away from that conversation with a deeper appreciation and respect for him.  All is forgiven.

Now if I can just handle the other hundred offenses going on the same way.  If only they also would end in the sweet forgiveness and restoration this one did.  If I did not believe with my whole being in the sovereignty of God, I would loose my mind.  I often get so caught up in chaos I allow it to affect me physically.

If only...

If only I would just lay it at the feet of Jesus, be still and quite while listening for His voice.

Last night my friend Darryl read this...

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

The note I have written in margin in my bible says this, Permanent respite in the grace of God.

Although I still have many questions and uncertainty of how to deal with wrongs that have been committed biblically, I am praying He will reveal more and more to every day and guide the steps I need to take.  This I do know...

For I am confident of this very thing, he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:6 

He has stirred up the desire in my heart to forgive and the want to be humble in enough to ask for forgiveness, and He will see it through.  I pray for His grace and mercy along the way.

This is the song in my heart today.

Beneath The Cross Of Jesus Hymn

Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.

O safe and happy shelter, O refuge tried and sweet,
O trysting place where Heaven’s love and Heaven’s justice meet!
As to the holy patriarch that wondrous dream was given,
So seems my Savior’s cross to me, a ladder up to heaven.

There lies beneath its shadow but on the further side
The darkness of an awful grave that gapes both deep and wide
And there between us stands the cross two arms outstretched to save
A watchman set to guard the way from that eternal grave.

Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One Who suffered there for me;
And from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess;
The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Making Peace

My Sunday school class is currently working through the book The Peacemaker by Ken Sande.  I'm just going to be brutally honest, it is not fun!  It has been the most convicting class I have ever attended.  When the class first began I had intended on buying the book, but like I told some friends yesterday, I'm not so sure I want it.  Don't get me wrong, it truly has been a great class, but it has forced me to see parts of myself I really don't like.  It makes me squirm in my seat, and the room gets so hot I start to break out into a sweat.  Sunday's class was the hardest yet.  Oh my!  I told my friend, Mary, that if I could walk well and not cause a disturbance leaving class with my walker, I'd just get up and leave.  Instead, I had to stay put while coals were being poured over my head.  The Lord has just shown me how in so many ways and so many times in my life I have handled conflict in a non-biblical way.

When I was in the 7th grade and my brother was in the 4th grade, he came home from school one day and told me another boy on the school bus was taking his milk money.  He made me promise I wouldn't tell our mom because he was fearful she would go to school and make a scene.  I promised I wouldn't, but purposely didn't tell him I was just going to handle it myself.  The more I thought about it that night, the angrier I became.  By the time I stepped on to that bus the next morning, I was furious.  Keep in mind this was a boy everyone was afraid of and no one dared to cross him.  I didn't care how rough and scary he was.  I stepped on to that bus and marched myself back to where he was sitting, picked him up by his shirt, slammed him against the window and told him he better leave my brother alone.  I told him if I ever found out he was bothering him again, I'd slam his head through the window.  Then I marched my happy self back to the front of the bus and sat down.  Shortly after the bell rang, I was called to the office to face the vice-principal.  Certainly not an appropriate way to handle that, was it?  But even to this day, I can make a very convincing argument there was nothing wrong with the way I handled that.  After all, I was protecting my brother.

I am not any better at handling conflict today.  I absolutely stink at it.  Depending on what the conflict is about and who it's with, I handle it differently... but hardly ever biblically, if ever at all.  Sometimes I react just like I did with the boy on the bus, sometimes I retreat and run, and sometimes I even pretend it's not even there.  I have even handled conflict wrongly within this very class.

I almost always have a ton of questions in Sunday school class and in bible study.  I probably would raise my hand during the sermon and ask questions if it wasn't inappropriate.  It doesn't bother me at all to ask whatever question enters my head.  My need for answers, my desire for knowing the truth about what the bible says, far outweighs how "stupid" I may look.  However, I totally embarrass my daughter.  The youth have joined the adult Sunday school classes this Summer, so my daughters are in my class.  I say mine because somehow my husband ended up going to another class over the biblical way to handle money.  I probably should be in that class also, but I needed The Peacemaker class more.  Almost every Sunday my oldest daughter will say, "Do you have to ask so many questions?  You are so embarrassing!"

Our pastor is teaching this class, and three weeks ago I asked him if he could slow down.  I feel like we are rushing through the class and always leave with 50 unanswered questions.  I asked him does it really matter if the class last longer than the Summer, if we weren't done by Fall was it really a big deal?  I didn't like his answer and it hurt my feelings.  It wasn't what I wanted to hear, and frankly, I took it the wrong way.  I think I cried through that entire class.  Like a big ole baby, I sat there with tears streaming down my face.  I tried to hide it but I'm certain I was unsuccessful.  His answer was the pin that lanced a boil that had been festering for weeks.  So many hard things have been going on in my life and that just burst my emotions wide open.  That week had been particularly hard.  There is actually a part in this book which talks about not allowing offenses to build up.  I don't remember if Ken Sande said this or if it was Caleb's thought, but he said if you can't let something go after about 3 weeks you should go talk to that person.  Caleb has not had anything to do with what had already been building up in my heart.  Anyone who knows Caleb knows his heart's desire is too never hurt anyone.  In the past when I have taken exception to what he has said, I've just asked him what he really meant.  But not this day.  He realized something he has said upset me, and after morning worship he asked me if he said had something that hurt me.  You see, he had done the biblical thing.  He came to me as soon as possible to clear up any offense.  I, however, blew him off.  I told him I'd get over it, and what he said had burst the boil that had been festering.  He responded by saying if I ever wanted to talk about it to let him know.  

I honestly believed I would get over it.  I had already cried all morning before getting to church, so I knew my emotions were raw.  I knew his comments were not meant to scold me for my question.  He was simply giving me his reasons for moving quickly through the book, and those reasons actually made sense.  It just wasn't the answer I wanted.  Yet, I've noticed I haven't asked any questions during class since that day.  I find myself holding my tongue because I don't want to take up too much time.  I don't even ask the 50 questions going through my head during the time he actually pauses and asks, "Does anyone have any questions or anything to add?"  I have gone from being a baby to being a stubborn toddler.  I have been so wrong to just not say to him, "What you said hurt my feelings, so will you explain it to me?"  Such a simple solution to such a petty response I've had.

This past Sunday, as the coals were being poured upon my head, I looked at Mary and said, "It's week three.  Guess I know what that means."  We both laughed and in that moment I realized how silly I've been.  After worship I told him we need to talk.  He grinned and said okay.  After 3 weeks, I'm finally going to do the biblical thing.  I should have just taken care of it the moment he asked me about it.

Compared to the other things festering in my heart this morning, this one is so insignificant.  And yet, each one of them should be handled the same way it's laid out in scripture.  Some of those things I don't have the courage to face and others I'm so stubborn in taking the position I am right and they are wrong, I refuse to go to them.  It's so easy to point the finger and so hard to take responsibility for my part. 

I've been thinking lately about how many relationships are damaged because we don't follow the biblical way to deal with offenses.  So many families are severed and so many friendships are lost.  We loose so much and gain nothing.  This morning it is my prayer the Lord will give me the want and the courage to deal with the things festering in my heart.  I'm praying He will show me where I have offended others and give me the wisdom how to best deal with them.  I'm also praying He will soften my heart toward those who have offended me.

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing... for those who forgive and for the forgiven.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why Have I Chosen to Blog?

For almost three years now I have bounced around the idea of blogging.  My oldest daughter actually made the comment one day, without knowing I was thinking about it, she was surprised I hadn't started a blog.  It's been a weighty decision.  One I've prayed about, knowing there are folks out there who seem to have made it their life's mission to go from blog to blog tearing people down.  I also know I have a tendency to be a little too open at times.  There are times I seriously lack a filter and those things that enter my head are out my mouth without even pausing.  Although there have been times I have dismissed the idea in my head, it still comes back.  I find myself thinking at times, this is one of those things I should blog.

I have been encouraged for years to keep a journal, but I never do.  After becoming sick I did develop a desire to do so, but my hand doesn't hold a pen well at times and it cramps up.  Typing is easier.  I  have often thought it would be a great way to not only share what amazing things the Lord Jesus is doing in my life, but it also would be a great way for me to go back and remind myself of those blessings.  Let's face it, I can throw some of the best pity parties you have ever seen.  I often forget how loving, merciful and mighty the Lord is working in my life.  Sometimes I can't see it.  I often need to be reminded.

But here the was deciding factor.  Three years ago one of my best friends sat down at her computer thinking there has to be someone else out there with my disease.  She googled CIDP and the first thing that popped up was Kristen's blog.   CIDP is considered to be a rare disease.  Kristen was diagnosed with it about 12 years prior to me.  One day the Lord laid it upon her heart to share her struggles with the disease through blogging.  After reading her blog for a few months, I made contact with Kristen.  We have emailed, Facebook and talked on the phone.  She has become a friend, one who identifies with my struggles in a way no one else in my life truly can.  She gets it.  She understands when I say my head boggles or it's hard to breathe.  She understands how hard it is to tolerate the heat.  She understands what if feels like to miss out on some many things in life because your are too weak to participate.  She understands what I mean when I say I'm in terrible pain, yet I'm numb... my legs and arms feel like they are on fire, yet they feel cold on the inside.  There is no greater comfort than to know someone truly "gets it" and can identify with our sufferings.  Because she chose to share her struggles, I don't feel so alone.  I have a friend I can call.

Thinking about Kristen's desire to share her journey, makes me think about Christ.  Although she can identify with me in a way no one else in my life can, Christ "gets it" even more.  He's experienced it all.  He suffered far greater than any of us.  Kristen and I were given this suffering, Christ chose His.  I can tell you this, I would not have chosen this disease.  I'm pretty certain I can say the same for Kristen.  But Christ chose to suffer for our sake.  That is just way beyond my comprehension.

My current bible study group is studying the book of Philippians.  A couple of weeks ago we got into a discussion about how Christ chose to suffer.  I said then, had He not, I would have a hard time trusting Him.  Yet because He did and God chose to share those sufferings in His Word, I now can know I am never alone in my hurt.

Who am I to chose not to share mine?  So, here I am... blogging.  Even beyond sharing my struggle with this insane disease, I want to share how the Lord has worked in my life.  I want folks to know what a hope we have in Jesus.  It is my desire and my prayer this blog is full of salt and that the Lord will use it for His glory.

p.s.  The format of this blog is a total mess right now, but I have someone who is helping me make it all pretty.  Hopefully, it will be finished in the next couple of weeks.