Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pretending Is Exhausting

Life keeps going all around me, and somehow I am supposed to participate.  I'm just going through the motions.  At times I feel like I'm in a fog, and then there are times I can't stop crying ... and sometimes the crying turns into wailing.  Most people I'm around I feel like I have to pretend I'm okay, and really I'm not.  It's not like that with everyone, but most people just don't know what to do or say.  Pretending I'm okay seems to make it easier on them.

Pretending is so exhausting.

I told someone last night it had been a hard week, and her response hurt my feelings and ticked me off.  It's was like she thought I should be over it by now.  It was all I could do to hold my tongue.  I don't know if she meant what she said they way I heard it.  Most likely not, but it was evident she didn't want to discuss my mom.

My mom is constantly on my mind, and I find myself constantly wanting to talk about her.  I want to remember her.

And sometimes I just need to talk about her death.  It's so hard to process.

So I had to sit there and pretend I was okay, and all I could think of was the last jewelry party mom had.  We had so much fun that day.  She bought me a strand of pink pearls and the bracelet to match for my birthday ... our birthday.  I was born on my mom's 21st birthday.

That's another day that will never be the same.

I know I have to keep doing the things that need to be done.  My laundry is piled to the ceiling.  I still haven't done anything with all the stuff that was sent to the funeral home.  Just yesterday I had my aunt Bobbie take me to buy thank you notes.  I have a ton of those to write, but I just can't bring myself to get started.  I did write the "thank you" to go in the newspaper.  My dad wanted to get it done as soon as possible.  He brought me part of one he had scribbled down last week and told me to write it however I wanted to.  I just took what he had written and added a few things.  He's having it run for two days.  "A Friday and Sunday", he said.  He wanted as many people to see it as possible.  I opened up the paper last night and on page 3 it jumped out of me.  It was so hard to look at.  Somehow it seems like the final step.  We've had her funeral, the headstone has been bought, we've begun the long process of settling her estate and now it's time for thank you notes to be written.  It's like ending one chapter and having to begin the next.

The chapter that begins life without my mama.

Hannah's birthday is this coming week.  I had forgotten to even plan her party, so I've been scrambling trying to get details in order.  My aunt also took me to buy the invitations and decorations for that.  Hannah told me she didn't even want a party, but my mom would want her to have one.  She would always asked me why I had such big parties for my girls, and I'd tell her it was because I wanted them to know how much I celebrate their life.

I wish I had celebrated her life more.

I had breakfast with one of my brothers yesterday.  We had to go to the attorney's office to sign some papers, so he came by and picked me up.  We went to eat afterwards.  It was really good to just sit and talk to him.  I don't have to pretend with him.  He gets it.

It gets harder every day.  Every time I fall asleep I wake up thinking it was just all a bad dream, and then I have to face the realization all over again she's gone.

It's still so hard to believe.

I noticed yesterday when I was talking to my brother we kept referring to her in the present tense. 

I didn't know your heart could hurt this much.  The pain makes it so hard to breathe at times.

I got an email from my aunt Kathy a couple of days ago.  She reminded me that even Jesus died, and now He lives and again ... and I can be certain my mom lives.

There is much comfort in knowing she's with Jesus.

The Lord continues to be faithful.  He's constantly reminding me He's not going to leave me.  He's going to carry me through this.  There is no way I could bear this pain without Him.

I never have to pretend with Him.  I don't have to hold my tongue, and He doesn't mind how loud I wail.

He understands more than anyone.  After all, His Son was the One who died so my mama could live with Him for eternity.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Heart Is Raw

I am going to warn you, I've done a lot of rambling today.

It's been a horrible, difficult day.  The hardest yet.  As I stood at my mom's grave this afternoon I told Nathan it was so hard to believe my mom was buried underneath all of those flowers laying on the ground.  It's more than my feeble heart can handle.

Her flowers are beginning to wilt away.  I've been obsessed all night thinking about what type of flowers to replace them with this weekend.  I always want her to have pretty flowers.  Maybe that seems silly to some people, but it's something I can still do for my mom.  Something I can do to honor her.

I miss her.

Around 2:00 p.m. I hit a really rough spot.  I started crying uncontrollably.  Every Wednesday she would call me around that time to see if I had gone to bible study that morning.  Last week I hadn't made it home by then because I had gone on an outing with my bible study group.  It crossed my mind several times that day I had forgotten to tell her what we were doing.  I had expected her to call my cell phone.  That's what she would do when she called and I wasn't home.  She'd call my cell wanting to know where I was.

It often would aggravate me she would do that.  Now I would love for her to call wanting to know where I was, who I was with and what exactly were we doing.

She'll never call again.

As 2:00 p.m. approached I began to cry harder and harder.  All morning I would wonder if she was still alive last week at the exact time I was looking at the clock.  We do know she was gone by 2:00 p.m.  My uncle had tried to call her around that time, and he didn't get an answer.

My heart is so raw.

I've had so many people tell me over the past week to call them if I need to talk, but when the moment came I really did need someone, it felt like I couldn't call anyone.

You see, I've noticed people don't really want to be around you when you are crying so hard you're whaling.  Simply because they don't know what to say or do.  I've also noticed there are those who expect me to be "strong" all of the time.

Let me remind you, I am not strong.  I would say I am barely hanging on, but truthfully, I don't even have the strength to do that.

So I am grateful HE is hanging on to me.

I tried to call Mary and she wasn't home.  Mary is a friend who never shys away from me when I'm distraught.  That's one of the many reasons why she's one of my best friends.  She was the only person I could think of to call in that moment that I knew I could talk to without having to be strong.  So I sent her text asking her if she was where she could talk.  Within a few minutes she called me.  I have no idea how long we talked, but I rambled and cried the entire time.  I have no clue what all I said to her, and there were moments I couldn't even formulate words, so I just cried.

And she simply held the phone.

I didn't need her to say anything.  There isn't anything she can say to make it hurt any less.  She knows that.  She also knows all I really needed was for someone to just be there.

And to pray.  I am certain she was praying the entire time she was holding the phone.

My brother told me today he couldn't concentrate enough to get anything done.  We talked about how hard this day has been and how much our hearts are hurting.  He told me he didn't know what to do.

Jesus is our only comfort, I reminded him.

He knows that.  Like me he has spent a lot of time sitting at the foot of the cross begging for the grace to get though the next moment.

The Lord continues to be faithful.  He continues to give us the grace to get through moment by moment.

We miss our Mama.

I've been told the hurt will lessen as time goes by.  So far it's only gotten worse with each passing day.

I dread sleep.  Every time I wake up for a moment I think her death was all a bad dream, but then I have to face the realization she's really gone all over again.  It just continues to make it fresh in my heart.

My heart is so raw.

But the Lord continues to be faithful to get me through those moments.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It Will Never Be The Same

As we drove down the highway I noticed how the Red Bud trees perfectly lined each side of it.  They were so beautiful and bright.  It was a gorgeous Spring day.  The sky was so blue and what few clouds lingered were stark white.

I had spent the day on a little "field trip" with my bible study group.  I almost didn't go because I felt terrible.  The muscle spasms seemed to be working overtime, and I was in so much pain.  The Lord was gracious, and I was able to go.  On the way home we stopped by Sonic.  It was a warm day ... on the verge of being a little too warm for me ... so my lemon slush hit the spot.

I commented as we drove home that it had been a fun day despite how I was feeling physically, and I was glad I had gone.

Little did I know my mom had already passed.

Red Buds will never look the same to me.  Spring will never be the same.  I will think of my mom every time I drink a Sonic slush.

Wednesdays will be the day that will mark each week.

March 21 will forever be different.

I have bible study this morning, and I'm not even sure I can go.  I don't know how to explain it, but being with them won't even be the same.

I want to shut myself off from the rest of the world.  I don't want to answer the phone or return text messages.  I don't want to read emails or check Facebook.  I just want to crawl up into a ball and lay in the bed and cry.

But I know my mom would not want that.  The Lord has been so faithful to remind me of how she would tell me I have two girls that need me.

When I recently went through that bad depression my mom's first question every day when I answered the phone was, "How are you feeling?"  All of those days I would tell her, "about the same" she would remind me how much Sara and Hannah needed me, and how I was so blessed to have a husband that loved me.

I would often tease her that she liked Nathan more than she liked me.  She would just laugh and say, "Oh Robin", but she never denied it. : )  In her eyes he could do no wrong.  Even when he disagreed with her.

I have had so many people say to me how strong I am and how brave I am being.

Let me be clear, anything you see is not me.  It's the Lord Jesus.

"And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

I often wonder how I am possibly going to get through the next moment.  My heart hurts so much that I wonder how I am going to take my next breath.  Yet the Lord is faithful and gives me the grace to get through moment by moment.  He helps me take my next step, and He guides me which way to go.

He hasn't abandoned me.  He never will.  And in those moments I can't even take my next step, He carries me in His everlasting arms.

"My grace is sufficient ..."

It's been exactly one week since my mom passed away.  Every day hurts more than the day before.

"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit." ~ Psalm 34:18

The Lord has given me constant reminders of how near He is to me.

This verse has been running through my head for days, and yesterday Mary sent it to me in an email.  I don't think I had even mentioned to her it was on my mind.  So often Connie will also send this very verse alone through a text.

“The LORD your God is in your midst.  A victorious warrior.  He will exult over you with joy.  He will quiet you in His love.  He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” ~ Zephaniah 3:17

This is a hard day.  As time ticks on I find myself wondering, "Was she still alive last Wednesday at this time?"

In the big picture it doesn't really matter.  I know at this time, on this Wednesday, she is with Jesus.

The day after she died the Dogwoods bloomed more beautiful than I have ever seen them.  They seem to be all around me and stand out even more than the Red Buds do.

Dogwoods will never look the same to me.  They will forever be a reminder to me my mama is with Jesus.

That truth gives me joy in the midst of my suffering.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It Still Doesn't Seem Real

I thought I knew what hard was.

I was wrong.

Loosing my mom has been the hardest thing I have ever had to go through.  I did not know your heart could hurt so much.  My uncle told me tonight that the pain would ease some with time.  I told him I didn't see how.

He then reminded me of this verse,
" ... Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning." ~ Psalm 30:5
I miss her so much.  I just keep thinking, I want my mama back.

I selfishly want her back, but I would never call her back from where she is at now even if I could.

During a conversation my mom and I had several weeks ago, my mom was telling me how she had heard a story of someone asking someone if they were charged with being a Christian would there be enough evidence they would be found guilty.  Over the past several days we have heard enough evidence from so many people that my mom would be found guilty, no doubt.

I cannot even begin to express how much all of those stories have blessed my heart.  They have been so reassuring for us.

The past several months my mom and I have had some deep heart to heart conversations.  There were things said between us I will be forever grateful were said.  The Lord was so gracious to give us those talks.

She called me every day.

Today has been hard.  I've spent most of the day crying.  My dad came by late this afternoon, and he had the death certificate with him.

Her death certificate.

It was so surreal to be holding her death certificate.

After he left Nathan took me back to the cemetery.  They had put hay over grave and relaid her flowers.  Her temporary grave marker had been placed.  It had her name, her birth date and her date of death on it.  It wasn't there yesterday when he took me by after church.

I keep seeing her name with her date of death, and it still doesn't seem real.

But it is.

The Lord continues to give us the grace to get through the next moment, and He will continue to give us just the amount of grace we need.

I cried all through Sunday school and church yesterday, but He was faithful to show me at every turn He's still the same and He will never leave me.

I keep thinking back to the morning of her funeral and when we were at her graveside.  As my uncle was talking there was a huge gust of wind that came through for several moments.

I believe that was the Lord reminding us that although we can't see Him, we can still feel His presence.  And His presence is all around us.

It always will be.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

He's Still The Same

My devotion this morning in my Jesus Calling devotional reads ...

March 24

THIS IS A TIME IN YOUR LIFE WHEN YOU MUST LEARN TO LET GO; of loved ones, of possessions, of control.  In order to let go of something that is precious to you, you need to rest in My Presence, where you are complete.  Take time to bask in the Light of My Love.  As you relax more and more, your grasping hand gradually opens up, releasing your prized possession into My care.

You can feel secure, even in the midst of cataclysmic changes, through awareness of My continual Presence.  The One who never leaves you is the same One who never changes: I am the same yesterday, today and forever.  As you release more and more things into My care, remember that I never let go of your hand.  Herein lies your security, which no one and no circumstance can take from you.

I'm not even sure when Jesus Calling was written.  I was given my devotional a couple of years ago.  Even then, the Lord had prepared the exact words my heart would need to hear on the morning of my mom's funeral.

Of course He had.

Because He is the same today as He was yesterday.

God is sovereign, and just as someone pointed out to me a couple of days ago, this is a hard providence.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I'm Gonna Make It

Grace For The Moment

I feel like I am walking in slow motion through a tunnel most of the time.  Over and over again I just keep thinking, "I want my Mama back."

I just want her back.

Why didn't I say, "I love you" before we hung up the phone on Monday?

I asked Mary last night if she thought my mom knew I loved her.

I know God is good.  Not in just the easy things, but even in the seemingly unbearable things.  Actually, I'm learning more and more with each moment His goodness is even more apparent in the seemingly unbearable things.  For if it weren't for Him carrying me, this would be unbearable.

God is still the same.  He hasn't changed.  He is continually covering us with His presence and showering us with His love.

One moment we are laughing about things she would do.  Other times I'm just numb.  Then there are those moments I'm doubled over in pain hyperventilating not knowing how I am going to make it through the next moment.

Grace for the moment.  He gives us the grace to get through the next moment.  Mary has reminded me of this truth for years.  Never more than now have those words given me comfort.

He's not going to leave me.  He's going to carry me through the next moment.

There have been so many decisions we've had to make.  So many details that we've had to cover.  Walking into the funeral home yesterday morning I kept saying, "I don't want to do this."

Standing in a room surrounded by coffins I kept thinking, "This can't be happening".  It still all feels like a nightmare I can't wake up out of.  Before Sara went to bed last night she said with tears streaming down her face, "It doesn't seem real".

No, it doesn't.

Jesus is our only comfort.  He loves us with an everlasting love ... a love that's not going to let us go.  I know this, yet I find myself begging Him over and over not to leave me.

We covet your prayers.  Please continue to pray for us.

"And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Mama's Passing

I am having to lean harder on Jesus this very moment than I ever have in my entire life.

Yesterday afternoon I received a phone call from my dad just shortly after he had left my house.  When he got home he found my mom dead.

Just typing those words seems so surreal.  I keep thinking I am living in a nightmare and at any moment I am going to wake up.

How can she be gone?  When I talked to her on Tuesday afternoon her last words to me were, "I'll talk to you tomorrow."

Surely, I am going to wake up out of this nightmare and she's going to call me today.

We aren't really sure what happened.  We've been told she probably either had a heart attack or a stroke.  She had told my dad the day before she felt like her blood pressure was up.  She had complained of her ear hurting and then she would say, "I just hurt all over."

How can this be happening?  How can this be real?

I keep telling myself Jesus is the same at this very moment as He was on Tuesday afternoon when she called me.

We are all devastated, but seeing my girls hurting is almost more than my heart can bare.  They love her so much, and she also loved them.  Yet even in their hurt, they are also leaning hard on Jesus.

He is our only comfort at this time.  We've had so many people ask us how they can help.  So many have told us they are praying for us.

That is nothing more than Jesus' love for us in action.  I believe that with everything within me.

He is covering us with His love.

My Jesus is the same today as He was just moments before my dad called.

Just this past Saturday I gathered with friends ... my covenant family ... to celebrate new life.  We celebrated a new birth, and births yet to come.  I cuddled with my friend's baby who is just a couple of months old.

This Saturday we will be laying my mom to rest.

My Jesus is the same today as He was Saturday when we were rejoicing the newness of life, and He will be the same in the hours, days, months to come as we mourn my mom's death.

I ask you pray for my dad, my brothers and I as we go later this morning to make funeral arrangements.  I ask that you pray for my mom's 8 broken hearthearted grandchildren.  Please pray for her brothers and sisters.  They've already experienced the loss of a brother just 2 1/2 years ago.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."  ~ Hebrews 13:8

I love you, Mama.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What Are You Grateful For Today?

What are you grateful for today?

I bought this devotional for a friend, and when I told her I had gotten it for her she reminded me I had already given her one.

At least I'm consisted in my thinking, even if my memory is lapsing.

So, I decided to give it away.  And what better way to do that than to stick with my theme for the year?

Tell me what you are grateful for today!  Leave me a comment in the comment section of my blog (not on my Facebook page) and on Monday, March 27 I will pick a winner by random generator.

Even if you already have this devotional you can give it to a friend.

And if you still don't want it, tell me what you are grateful for anyway.  If you win and don't want it, I'll go to the next person.

366 Days of Gratefulness ~ Day 71

I debated all day Tuesday about whether not to go to bunco that night.  I love going.  I always have a good time and it's just so nice to be with friends.  I still didn't feel very well.  I was just weak from being sick, plus I had started having muscle spasms more frequently.  Really bad muscle spasms.  Another reason why I really didn't need to go to Connie's.  I ended up going to bunco though, and I am so glad I did.  It was so good for me.

Well, mostly good.

Good until ...

My friend, Renee's cat showed up at her back door with a snake in her mouth.  A snake that was still alive!!  Her sister noticed her cat pouncing back and forth on something and it turned out to be a "gift" she had brought them.  AND she brought it to the door I have to go in and out of because there are no stairs.

I discovered I am not the only one in our group who is terrified of snakes.  When her husband picked it up to move it back to the woods ... I hope it's where he took it anyway ... a few of us squealed loudly.

I am grateful I always have fun at bunco.  I am grateful I am not alone in my fear of snakes.  But on that night I was most grateful I made it to Sara's car without stepping on a snake!!

366 Days of Gratefulness ~ Day 70

"The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps." ~ Proverbs 16:9
Monday began week 2 of Spring Break for my clan.  Hannah and I had plans to spend the night with my friend Connie.  Nathan was going to drive halfway for us to meet her and come back the next day to get us.  Hannah and Connie's youngest are big buddies, and they have been itching to see each other ... not to mention so were Connie and I.  It didn't work out though.  The night before we were supposed to go, Connie's daughter came home from church with a cough and low grade temp.  At the time we thought maybe it would be okay.  There was a chance it could just be allergies.  After consulting with Darryl, he thought it would be okay for us to still go as long as I kept my hands washed and she didn't cough on me, but by morning Jenn had gotten super sick.  Not only did she need the rest, but it was clear it wasn't an option for me to be around her at that point.

We were all so disappointed.  Well, Jenn didn't know we were even coming because Hannah wanted to surprise her, but the rest of us were sad Jenn was sick and our overnight visit was canceled.

I really wanted to go.  I miss Connie so much!!  However, I probably should have not even made plans to go at that time anyway.  I had just gotten over the last upper respiratory infection I had, and I still felt like the life had been knocked out of me.  I thought I would be okay though.  All I would be doing is basically moving from my couch to hers.  But we probably would have stayed up way late talking, not to mention just riding in the van makes me hurt more.  It would have been wiser for me to stay home, but I miss Connie so much I didn't even think about what was best for me at that point.  When she told me Jenn was sick and it was "ify" for me to go, I had still planned to go.  I am grateful the Lord made it clear to us it wasn't wise for me to go at all.  I am so bull headed, I would have gone ahead otherwise.

I am grateful the Lord sees our needs when we don't, and He protects us from ourselves when we think we can handle things.  I hate it Jenn was sick, but had I gone even is she had been well, I probably would have ended up making myself sick again just from the lack of rest.  I needed to have waited to make plans to go when I was farther past getting over the respiratory infection I just had the week prior.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Checking In

Yes, I know.  I am way behind in posting.  It's been crazy lately, and I'm not feeling too swift.  Terrible actually.  I am so tired I could cry, but then that would require energy I just don't have to spare right now ... even though tears do seem to fall without effort lately.  The best way I know how to explain the tiredness is it's hard to breathe.  I have to be careful how I state that because the last time I was in the hospital and I told the neurology class ... yes, I did say class ... it was hard to breathe, they wanted to hook me up to machines and do a ton of unnecessary test.

That whole hospital stay was an experience I could write a book about.  Because I was in a teaching hospital and my disease is still classified as "rare", I became the neurology class project that week.  Since I was also receiving plasma pharesis due to CIDP, I became the nephrology class project also.  Then there was the general medical doctor that came to see me each day, plus the surgical follow-up visit to check the perma-cath sticking out of the side of my neck.  I saw no less than 35 doctors a day.  I was so tired of being poked, prodded and hit with the little rubber hammer by the time I went home.

How did I get on that?

Oh, yes, it's hard to breathe.

I am having muscle spasms that feel like "Charlie horses" all over my body.  My body is so sore from my muscles contracting I feel like I've been in a car wreck.  I have no idea why it is happening, but I desperately want it to stop.  I started a mild muscle relaxer this weekend.  It's helping some.  I just wish they would stop.

I am keeping up with my "366 Days of Gratefulness" on paper.  I hope to soon get each day posted.  I would just write them in a bullet list, but there are some I have much to expand on.  When I said things have been crazy, I meant it.  I way over did it this past week.

I am glad I did though.  I wouldn't have wanted to have missed any of it.  I've always said I would rather have one really good day that takes me a week to recoup from, than to have every day be bland at best.

I hope tomorrow to start chipping away at the list of post I have to do ... if my fingers will cooperate ... a.k.a. stop burning and cramping.

Monday, March 12, 2012

366 Days of Gratefulness ~ Day 69

I am sitting in here with tears streaming down my face as I type.  As I think about today, my heart can't help from being so grateful that it feels like it could just burst.

Every Sunday I go to church with the anticipation expectation that the Lord is going to teach my heart something new, and He's going to feed my soul.  Some weeks it's through Sunday school.  Some weeks it's through the sermon or a song we sing.  Some weeks it comes from encouragement of a friend.  Sometimes it comes from a totally unexpected place.  Most of the time it comes from more than just one of these areas.  This week it came from all of them.

Just getting there today felt like a victory.  I wasn't sure my body was going to cooperate, but thankfully the Lord gave me the strength to get there.  By the time I got out of the shower this morning I was almost in a panic I wasn't going to make it there.  I just prayed and told the Lord if He intended for me to be there, He was going to have to give the strength.

And He most certainly did.

Before I ever made it down the hallway, my friend Kathy met me with a big smile and a hug.  I barely got a word out of my mouth before she looked me in the eyes and she gave me such encouraging words.  Words that came straight from the Lord; He knew I needed to hear them.

I wrote earlier in the week about my excitement over the new Sunday school class that started up last week over Heaven.  Co-teaching with our associate pastor is a man who is such a man of God.  He is full of so much wisdom and knows the bible so well.  He's in his eighties, I believe, and has been a Christian most of his life.  He is such a precious, precious man ... and so is his sweet wife I might add.

Well, guess who had a question?  Yes, that would be me.

Bless that man.  I stumped him.  My question actually doesn't have an answer that can be answered this side of Eternity, and it really doesn't even matter at this point.  I am just curious, and I wish it could be answered.

However, the beautiful thing that came from that was I realized I'm really not alone.  Even this eighty-something year old man, who has a wealth of wisdom, said to me, "I think we've all questioned our salvation at one time or another."  And then there was an echo of agreement from others in the room.

I have no words for what that did for my heart.

The picture even becomes more beautiful.

Today's sermon was tailored around not just today's class, but around by last week's class ... by none other than Jesus.
"Our new identity is found in Christ.  This is the truth we must never forget."

"God is Holy and pure.  He also has become my Father that loves me with an everlasting love."

"Our stability, strength and grace are found in Christ." 

"Who cares what other people think of me?  I know what God thinks.  He delights in me."

Those are just a few of the notes I have highlighted in pink from the notes I took this morning from Caleb's sermon.

And there's more.

Last week in Sunday school Andy asked us, what do we look forward to when we get to Heaven?  My answer was, and still is, I can't wait to climb up in Jesus' lap and hear Him tell me everything is okay.

This morning Jeff, our RUF (Reformed University Fellowship) minister lead the pastoral prayer.  In his prayer he talked about what a privilege it is that we get to climb up into His lap and talk to Him when we are praying.  I couldn't hold back the tears.

I don't have to wait.  I actually get to climb up in His lap now ... and He tells me it's okay, to trust Him.

In his sermon, Caleb reiterated just what Jeff said in his prayer.

When church was over one of the men who is in the same Sunday school class I am attending, came up to me and said, "Wow, wasn't that sermon just for you.  If you didn't know any better you would think that when Caleb left the room he went to rewrite his sermon when he heard your question in class."

If I didn't know how the Holy Spirit operates, I would wonder if he did just that.

And this is one of the songs we sang today ...

The Love of Christ Is Rich and Free
 1. The love of Christ is rich and free;
Fixed on His own eternally;
Nor earth, nor hell, can it remove;
Long as He lives, His own He’ll love.
2. His loving heart engaged to be
Their everlasting Surety
’Twas love that took their cause in hand,
And love maintains it to the end.
Chorus: Love cannot from its post withdraw;
Nor death, nor hell, nor sin, nor law,
Can turn the Surety’s heart away;
He’ll love His own to endless day.
3. Love has redeemed His sheep with blood;
And love will bring them safe to God;
Love calls them all from death to life;
And love will finish all their strife.
4. He loves through every changing scene,
Nor aught from Him can Zion wean;
Not all the wanderings of her heart
Can make His love for her depart.
(Repeat chorus)
5. At death, beyond the grave, He’ll love;

The blazing glory of that love
Which never could from them remove.

Tonight my cup is running over with gratitude.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

366 Days of Gratefulness ~ Day 68

I have often joked that one of my spiritual gifts is worrying.  I can worry myself insane over every little thing.  Worry is a beast.  It's sort of like trying to not think about something; the more I try, the more I worry.  The more I worry, the more I panic.  The more I panic, the more my fear keeps me frozen in worry.

I find myself worrying often times about my disease.  It's unpredictable.  Today I could be fine, and tomorrow I could find myself unable to walk.  I take notice of every change I have in anything, and start making a list in my head.  Before I know it, I start to become consumed in worry.

Over the past couple of weeks I've began a list in my head.  I'm more tired.  My eye is twitching more and won't seem to stay in focus as often.  I've been in a tremendous amount of pain.  I'm having muscle cramps several times a day.  My feet have gotten heavier, and just yesterday I noticed my arms are weaker.

As I thought about my list last night, I decided I had enough evidence that I was starting to have an attack.  Before I knew it, I almost had myself in a full blown panic.  I realized today was Saturday and I would not be able to call Dr. Gaw's office and Darryl is out of town.  My head was full of "what if's"?

I became so consumed with worry over not being able to run to my doctors, that I forgot I have 24/7 access to the Great Physician.  He is available nights and weekends, and He never leaves town.

The bible is full of verses that tell us to trust the Lord and do not fear.  We are reminded over and over again of who our Great Physician is, and not only is He our Great Physician, He is everything we need.  Our Protector, our Comforter, our Ever-present Help in times of trouble.
"And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?   If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?" Luke 12:25-26
Worry is not going to help me at all.  If I am starting to have an attack, worrying isn't going to keep it from happening.  I have no control over it.

However, I can control how I react to the list I have in my head.  I can do what the Lord tell us to do ... I can lay it at the foot of the cross and trust Him.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him,  and He will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:5-6

 I have learned the more time I spend with Him, the less anxious I am.  When I fall short in my time with Him, the easier it is to forget He's right there with me.  He never leaves.  He's aware of everything going on ... even those things I'm not aware of that are happening.

And even better ... He's already got it all worked out.  His plan is perfect, and no amount of worry is going to thwart His plan.

And why would I want to anyway?
"Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me,  For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day."  Psalms 25:4-5
"The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?"  Psalms 27:1 
I may or may not be starting to have an "attack".  Only time will tell.  I am grateful my Heavenly Father does know what's happening.  I can trust Him and not have to fear what tomorrow may bring.

Friday, March 9, 2012

366 Days of Gratefulness ~ Day 67

I was sitting in the fourth row from the from the front in the middle section of the sanctuary.  It was day two of VBS.  I was eight years old, and as I sat there at the end of the pew listening to the pastor telling us how to be saved, I clung to his every word.  At the end of his talk, he had us bow our heads and told us to raise our hands if wanted to be saved.  I shot my arm up over my head and waived my hand as fast as I could.  Within moments a sweet, young lady knelt down beside of me.  She swept back my hair behind my shoulder so she could see my face, but before she could say anything I was already crying.

"I want Jesus to live in my heart.  Do you think He will?"

"Of course He will.  All you have to do is ask Him.", she said with the sweetest smile on her face.

She prayed with me.  Told me to repeat after her.  The moment we were done I asked when I could be baptized.

"I want to have my sins washed away."

So she filled out a card.  She wrote down my name and phone number and told me she would turn the card in for me.  Within the next few days the pastor called my mom to talk to her about it, and that Sunday night I was baptized.

I remember saying to my mom as we were walking to the car when we were leaving the church that night, "I've never felt so clean."  It was totally unexpected that I would feel that way, and sadly, that feeling didn't last very long.

I was only eight years old.  All I understood about what had happened that week was I had asked Jesus to live in my heart, and I was baptized because that is what you do next.

I was well into my thirties before I really understood what it meant to the love Jesus.  I have been in church my whole life.  Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night we went to church.  I went to every revival and every VBS I could.  As I grew older I started signing up to volunteer for whatever I could.  I desperately wanted Him to love me, but I never felt "good enough".  I always thought I could prove to Him I could be good enough.  If I could just do enough good things and stay out of trouble He would love me.

But I always seemed to fail.

I've done some terrible things in my life.  Things I am so ashamed of and really wish I could take back.  I've hurt people I love deeply.  I have more regrets than I can count.

I would ask Him to forgive me, but I never "felt" forgiven.  My past transgressions followed me.  People who knew the things I had done often threw them in my face.  I constantly felt condemned.  I would work harder and harder at church and over and over again I begged the Lord to forgive me for the things I had done and would tell Him how sorry I was.

But as time went by and the older I got, I never felt forgiven.

I was twenty-six when I found out I was pregnant with Hannah.  It was a complete shock, and I had a very difficult pregnancy with her.  I was so sick the whole time and in and out of the hospital for dehydration.  We were told through the entire pregnancy they didn't know if she would be okay when she was born.  I had two failed amniocentesis, and ultrasounds couldn't detect some of the issues they were trying to rule out.

Someone said during that time, "Robin brought this on herself."

I started to believe I was being punished for the things I had done wrong and my child was going to suffer because of it.

So many people prayed for Hannah.  A lady in our church crocheted her a blanket, and when she gave it to me she said she prayed for her with every stitch she made.

By God's grace, Hannah was born healthy.

After her birth I told myself I was never going to be able to make Jesus love me.  I was a horrible person, and He was never going to forgive me for the things I had done wrong.  I eventually stopped going to church completely.  I became so angry with God because I just didn't understand how he could forgive others for things I thought were much worse than what I had done, but He wouldn't forgive me.

I was miserable.

Then one day the Lord lead us to the church we currently attend.  It's a long story how we ended up there.  A story covered in God's love, mercy and grace.  I fought going, but one Sunday morning I found myself sitting next to my friend Mary.

Until that day Mary and I had never met.  Her husband was our family doctor and when he discovered we weren't going to church he invited us to his.  I remember him saying to me one day, "I know if you would come, you and my wife would be the best of friends."

He was right.  Over the next few weeks Mary and I became close friends, and little by little I began to share with her how angry I was with God and how I was convinced He was never going to love me.

I had called her one night, and our conversation lead to me asking her, "What if He says no?"

"He won't.", she said.

"And how do you know?"

"Because I know Him.", she said.

I was eight years old when I asked the young lady who knelt down beside if she thought Jesus would live in my heart.  Her answer was simple, "Of course He will.  All you have to do is ask."

At the end of that week I felt cleaner than I had ever felt in my life, but it took me about twenty-five years to truly understand what it all meant.

He had always forgiven me.  It wasn't about me "feeling" forgiven.  I just had to trust Him and believe Him.  He had washed all of my sins away.  It wasn't by the water I was dunked in, but by the blood my sins were covered in.

Today I am grateful for the Lord's forgiveness.  Forgiveness for all of my sins ... even those that get thrown in my face by others.  I am grateful my forgiveness isn't based on a feeling.  It isn't based on any good thing I've ever done.  It's based on what He has done.

I get it now.  He loves me.  He forgives me.  He always has, and He always will.

"Blessed assurance Jesus is mine!"

Thursday, March 8, 2012

366 Days of Gratefulness ~ Day 66

I have had to deal with my insurance company a lot over the past 4 years.  Soon after getting sick, Blue Cross assigned me a case manger.  I have been through 3 of them and am now currently assigned to number 4 ... Angie.  She calls at least once a month, sometimes more often, about approving homehealth visits and she helps out with prior approvals for test or consults.  She is so sweet and helpful.

She called yesterday to check in and let me know she had approved more homehealth visits for me.  I realized just how blessed I am to have someone within my insurance company to help me navigate through all the hoops and red tape easily.  It's not easy.  It can be confusing and if it's not done just so, you can be almost certain they are going to deny it.  Since I've been assigned to Angie things have gone much smoother.  She actually takes the time to understand why we are asking for prior authorization for something.  She doesn't just look at a sheet of paper and make her decision from that.

I realize not everyone has that and I am so grateful I do.  It's not always been this easy for me, and I am very grateful it is now.  I'm hoping I stay assigned to her for a long time.

366 Days of Gratefulness ~ Day 65

"CONTINUE ON THIS PATH WITH ME, enjoying My Presence even in adversity.  I am always before you, as well as alongside you.  See Me beckoning to you; Come!  Follow Me.  The One who goes ahead of  you, opening up the way, is the same One who stays close and never lets go of your hand.  I am not subject to limitations of time or space.  I am everywhere at every time, ceaselessly working on your behalf.  That is why your best efforts are trusting Me and living close to Me." ~ Jesus Calling by Sara Young (March 6)"

"That is why your best efforts are trusting Me and living close to Me." 

Mary would often say to me, "You know this would be a whole lot easier if you would just stop kicking against God's sovereignty."  I knew she was right, but I would continue to kick.  Especially when I didn't like His plan.  I was like a toddler being carried out of a store kicking and screaming because I wasn't getting my way.  I couldn't see I was going where He wanted me to go whether I wanted to or not.  He was carrying me, and I was going.

If I had I put all of my effort into trusting Him and letting Him hold my hand as He lead me down the path He was taking me, it would have been so much easier.  I've finally learned the less I kick and scream, the closer I become to Him.

I am grateful that no matter how hard I kick, He continues to carry me.  I am grateful that He is constantly working on my behalf.  As much as I think I like control, I am grateful He is in control and I am not.

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus ...

366 Days of Gratefulness ~ Day 64

It's Spring Break for my family.  I am so thankful to have them home with me for 2 weeks.  It gets lonely during the day when no one is here.  It's hard enough not being able to get out of the house for days at time sometimes, but being here alone makes it worse.

I know it won't be long until Sara is gone, so I treasure every day we have now together.  Even now it can be difficult for all us to be together.  The girls are always on the go somewhere.  I am grateful they are social kids, but I miss the days when they wanted to cuddle on the couch and watch a movie.

I am so blessed to have two of the sweetest, most precious girls as my daughters.  I love them so much.

366 Days of Gratefulness ~ Day 63

On Sunday we started new adult Sunday school classes.  Nathan and I didn't discuss which one we were going to go to.  Actually, I already knew which one I was going to.  I just didn't know what he had decided.  Sometimes we go to different classes ... like when I went to the class on Peacemaking and he went to the one of Money and being a good steward.

One of the classes is the continuing study of The Westminster Confession and the other is on Heaven.

"Which one do you want to go to?", he asked me.

"Do you really need to ask that question?"

I am so excited about the study on Heaven!  It seriously has come at the perfect time for me.

Andy asked us Sunday to write down 5 questions we had about Heaven.  I stopped at 8 and some of those had sub-questions.  I still have a ton more.

I truly long for Heaven.  I pray every day the Lord will come back and take His children home.  Someone told me I was being selfish when I pray that.  She said I should want Him to hold off as long as possible so more people could be saved.

I understand what she is saying, but here is what I think.  I believe in a sovereign God and I know He's not coming back one minute before His plans are complete.  When that last person He's called to Him has accepted Him, He's coming.

I just want Him to speed things up.

366 Days of Gratefulness ~ Day 62

Saturday morning I rode with Nathan to go to my aunt and uncle's house to look at a washer and dryer.  I don't get to see my extended family very often.  I wish I did, but life is so busy and our family is so large it's hard to get everyone together.  There are seven children, sixteen grandchildren and twenty-six great-grandchildren ... plus spouses of the children and grandchildren.  Sara is the oldest great-grandchild, so there better not be any spouses of the great-grandchilden for a long time.

I love it when we all get together though.  My girl cousins and I are trying to figure out a way we can get together routinely.  I'm learning the older I get, the more intentional you have to be about nurturing relationships.

Even marriages need to nurtured.  I've always taken for granted how blessed I am to have Nathan.  If you know him ... if you seen how loving and attentive he has been to me, especially since I've been sick ... you know how blessed I am.  He is a treasure and I truly don't deserve him.  We spend a lot of time together, but rarely do we ever go on a date.  Partly because I rarely feel like going out at night and partly because money is tight.  My friend Elizabeth and I were talking about going on dates with our husbands a couple of weeks ago and she was sharing with me how she and her husband have started going on $5 and $10 dates.  They go for yogurt or coffee ... it's just about being together ... just the two of them.

Since Nathan and I were already out and I felt okay, we decided to take advantage of the time and had a little date.  We stopped at little restaurant in town and had a late lunch.  It's funny how just a change of scenery can make you feel more connected.  Maybe it just because we were intentional about making time for just each other and not just satisfied with being in the comfort of our every day life.

It also makes me feel even more loved when Nathan shows me he wants to spend time with just me.  I am so grateful for him.  I love him more every day.

366 Days of Gratefulness ~ Day 61

Friday our area was under tornadoes warnings off and on all day.  I am normally not fearful of storms, but I started getting anxious about these on Thursday.  The forecast promised the day would be volatile.  Just days before tornadoes hit in a couple of surrounding counties and 3 people lost their lives.  The weathermen were saying that Friday would be worse.

Sadly, they were correct.

An unexpected storm cell popped up Friday morning, and it sent me into complete hysterics!

I heard the weatherman say a rotation would be going over the community where Nathan teaches and the girls go to school.  He said it would be there in approximately 10 minutes.

About the same time I received a text from Sara, "Be careful.  I love you!!"

Just those five words showed me she was terrified.

So was I.  So I prayed ... and cried ... and prayed some more ... and cried.

It was tearing me apart that Sara was alone.  Well, she was with 300 other people, but she wasn't with her daddy or me.  Hannah was near Nathan, but Sara was across the road in a different school.  Nathan felt as awful as I did and almost just went and got her, but then we realized it was safer for them to stay put.  Besides, the schools were on lockdown.

We are grateful that storm passed over without any damage.  Schools dismissed shortly after that.  I was so grateful to have us all together.  We headed to my mom's before the next round of storms started.  Her house is safer than ours ... and I hadn't seen her since Christmas.

We waited out the storms, and we were just about to head home when we got word a tornado had hit the opposite end of our county.  Many lost their homes, but praise the Lord no one lost their life.  I have only seen the damage in pictures and from videos.  It's a miracle no one lost their life in that area.

A tornado also hit the town where my friend Robyn lives.  They are still trying to recover there from a tornado that just hit months ago.  Friday night's tornado came very close to her house, and I am so grateful they were not harmed.

I am so grateful for the Lord's protection that night.

366 Days of Gratefulness ~ Day 60

Several months ago our church started Grace groups.  The group we are in is large.  We normally have at least 27 and sometimes more if someone invites friends to come.  It's loud, busy and fun.  I have really enjoyed getting to know people that I normally wouldn't have the opportunity to know that well.  I love sitting around the table talking while eating dinner and hearing the chatter and laughter of all of our kids in the background.  After we eat we head into the livingroom for a bible study.  Sometimes I sit there in awe as I listen while our kids share their hearts.  It makes my eyes well up with tears sometimes to see how Jesus is working in each of their hearts.  It's a precious sight and such a blessing to see.  I am grateful the Lord has given me the privilege of seeing it.

I am so grateful I was able to go on Thursday night.  Sometimes I have to miss because I just don't feel well enough to go, or I have some sort of infection.  As I looked around the room during our meal and during our bible study time, I realized just how different each of our families are from each other.  Only the Lord could put together such a mix-match of people and work it into such a blessing.

As I thought about it later that night, I realized that's what Heaven will be like.  There will such a mix-match of people there, but we all will have one thing in common ... we are children of the King.

I cannot even put words around how grateful I am to be a part of that Grace group.

366 Days of Gratefulness ~ Day 59

I don't tell her often enough, but I am grateful for my mom.  During those weeks I was so depressed, she called me every day, and the very first words out of her mouth were, "How are you feeling?".  It really meant a lot to me she called every day to check on me.

The older I get the more I appreciate my mom.  We don't always see eye to eye, but that's okay.  I don't know any mother and daughter who always see eye to eye on everything.  Sometimes we just agree to disagree.  I love her unconditionally though.  As I grow older I see more clearly sacrifices she made for my brothers and I.  Growing up I watched her work two, sometimes three jobs just to feed us and make sure we had a roof over our heads.  She worked some really crappy jobs.  We never went without, and she even managed to give us some of the things we wanted.  Somehow she managed to put herself through nursing school.  I was so proud of her that I cried all through her nursing graduation.  I remember how proud my Nannie was of her too.

She's survived a lot in her life.  The things I've seen with my own eyes make me want to weep for her.  I often forget the things she's experienced, but when I do think about them, it makes me appreciate and love her all the more.

366 Days of Gratefulness ~ Day 58

I think I am now completely out of the emotional funk I was in for so many weeks.  I will never again take that med.  I have had some bad side effects to meds in the past, but I have never had one that effected me like that.  I am so grateful the Lord showed me what was happening before things became completely out of control.  I am grateful I had only been taking it for two weeks.  Since I was on such a low dose and hadn't been taking it very long, I was able to stop it immediately.  Otherwise I would've had been slowly taken off of it, and the depression would have lasted much longer.  The depression I went through was rough enough, but it could have been much worse.

I am also grateful the Lord surrounded me with people who I could be completely honest with about how I was feeling.  People who made it a point to make me tell them every day how I was feeling.  They helped me see it was only temporary; although there were days I very much doubted it would ever end.

Things aren't so dark now. cue "I can see clearly now the rain is gone ..."

Catching Up

I knew I had fallen behind in writing, but until a few minutes ago I didn't realize just how far behind I really am.  I haven't felt well this past week.  I fought a cold for days and it finally turned into some sort of upper respiratory infection ... again.  I am now on yet another antibiotic and drinking cough syrup.  As much as I hate taking antibiotics, I am grateful to have access to them when I need them.  I just hope I don't have the need for them so much now that Spring is coming.  I am so thankful we are entering into Spring.  I am always ready for it the day after Christmas.

I am going to take time this morning to try and get caught up.  I have my handy dandy list of things I am grateful for each day, so I am just going to write several post.  Otherwise it would be one long post that would take forever to read.

I want to thank all of you who have been so sweet to encourage me about my blog.  I appreciate so much that you take them time to do that.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Desperately Longing

I have been keenly aware of my utter need for Jesus the past couple of days.  It's not just been one thing or two things ... or even three that has my awareness on high alert.  It's just the past couple of days I've seen clearly what a fallen world we live in, and it just makes me long for Christ's return even more.

Yes, I do still pray every day Jesus would come and get His children and take us home.  I actually pray this several times a day most days.  I desperately long for Heaven.  I probably hold tighter to the promise of Heaven than any other promise I've ever been given.  Wrapped up in that one promise is an abundance of promises.  Layers and layers of promises.  The promise of no more pain, sorrow or tears ... the promise of a new body without CIDP or having to take multiple medications a day ... the promise of pure perfection.  I have the promise of being able to physically sit at the feet of Jesus.  I get to touch the hem of His garment.  I get to walk hand and hand with Him forever and ever ... and then some.  It's more than my brain can possibly fathom.  When I think about Heaven it makes my heart flutter, the hairs on my arms stand up and my eyes well up with tears.

Oh how I desperately long for Heaven!!

During bible study yesterday we went around the room and one by one we answered the question, "What do you want your faith to be marked by?"

"Joy", one lady said.  Yes, I want that too"Pleasing Him", another lady said.  Yes, I also want that"Trust, assurance, peace, knowing Him", the next lady said.  Yes, yes, yes ... I want all of that. 

As the third lady talked I became overwhelmed with emotion.  She is a lady I greatly admire.  The more I get to know her the greater my admiration is for her.  Simply because she knows and confesses her complete dependance on the Lord.  She is one of the wisest women I know.  She's been through a lot in her life.  Deep hurt.  Hurt that would cause most of us to crumble.  She would have crumbled had she not relied on the Lord each time she had to put one foot in front of the other.  When I look at her, I see Jesus.  I see her love for Him, and how her love for Him spills over into love for her family and those around her.  As I sat and listened to her yesterday I asked myself, "Is that what people see when they look at me?"

I hope so, but honestly, depending on the moment would depend on what they see.  I want my love for Jesus to spill over to everyone around me.  I want to have joy that only comes from Him.  A peace that passes all understanding.  I want to please Him in everything I do.  I want to know Him ... really know Him on a deep level.  I want to be able to trust at all times with never a doubt entering my mind.  I want complete assurance.

I want it, and sometimes those things exist within me.  Never for long though and never perfectly.  But wrapped up in the promise of Heaven are the promises of all of those things.  All of them.  Perfectly.  For eternity.

And wrapped around the promise of Heaven is love of my Heavenly Father.  A love I don't comprehend.  "How can it be that thou my God would die for me?"  A love that will never let me go.

So, I desperately long for Heaven.