Sunday, June 24, 2012

Some Days Are Harder

Some days are harder than others, and yesterday was a hard day.  Sometimes it makes sense to me why a certain day is especially hard, and sometimes there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why.  Yesterday was one of those days.

Nathan took me by the cemetery yesterday morning before the Women's Conference at my church started.  All the way there I had to fight the tears.  Once we got there, I just lost control.  I don't know why.  I miss her.  Plain and simple.

I just want my Mama back.

All the way back to the church I tried to stop crying, but it was one of those times that the harder I tried, the more the tears fell.  By the time I walked in the door my eyes were red and puffy and my nose was raw.

But the Lord was gracious and He placed two of my sweetest, dearest friends right inside the door, and they met me with a hug.  They know they can't fix my shattered heart, but they know the One who can.  Those hugs said a thousand words to me, and in that moment, they were exactly what I needed.

But I still desperately want my Mama back.

One of my most precious friend's father is living in his last days here on earth.  It was just a few short weeks ago they were given the news he has a very aggressive form of lung cancer.  My heart aches for her ... literally aches.  She is so precious to me and it is so hard to watch her hurting through this.  I don't know which is harder.  Having to watch your parent die, or loosing your parent with no warning.  Like she said yesterday, they are both hard in their own way.  However, I sort of think if I had to watch my Mama die while she was suffering with cancer, it would have been much harder.

I am going to be honest and say something that is going to seem strange ...

As she was sharing with me how she had the opportunity to have a sweet conversation with him and tell him good-bye, I found myself with a huge sense of jealousy.

Yes, jealousy.

I didn't have that opportunity.  I have wrestled for the past 3 months with wondering if Mama knew how much I really loved her.  I've kicked myself over and over for not telling her I love her when I hung up the phone that Tuesday afternoon.  Had I known it was my last conversation with her, there is so much I would have said to her.

But as I saw the pain in her eyes that she tried to cover up with a smile on her face, I was quickly reminded I didn't have to watch her suffer.  Immediately my jealousy turned into this overwhelming sense of compassion for her.

Lord Jesus, help my friend.  Fill her with Your presence in a way that she is constantly reminded You are with her and will carry her through this.  Give her Your peace that passes all understanding, and sustain her with all of the strength she needs today and in the days ahead.

 I uttered this prayer in my heart as I hugged her.  There is so much I want to do to help her, but I know the greatest thing I can do is carry her to Jesus and lay her at His feet.

I realized this morning that maybe one of the reasons the Lord has allowed the loss of my Mama to be so fresh on my heart these past few days is so I will be reminded of what my friend ... my sister is going to need.

I want my Mama back.  Some moments are seemingly unbearable.  I am painfully aware those moments are going to come for my friend.

And I will be there to hold her, cry with her and most of all pray with her.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday Morning Ramblings

Life has been crazy lately.  It's been one thing after another, and one big ball of emotions ranging all over the place.  I'm so exhausted and would love a break.  However, things show no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

I spent the end of last week preparing to go on a trip with Nathan's entire immediately family.  By the time we left Sunday afternoon, I was already so tired I could hardly hold up my head.  I feel asleep about 10 mins after hitting the road, and didn't wake up until we got to Pigeon Forge.

Saturday night we had our neighborhood picnic at church.  Although all I did was sit in a chair and hold sweet Averie the entire time, I had a great time.  I love spending time with my covenant family.  We are so blessed to be a part of our church.  The Lord was so gracious to lead us there.  It's will actually be six years since we came to Grace this Sunday. : )

I was really hesitant about leaving on Sunday.  It was the first Father's Day since my mom passed away, and I wasn't happy about leaving my dad.  We were able to meet up with him for breakfast before we went to church, but I would have loved to have spent the entire afternoon with him.  It was hard walking away from him that morning.  I am grateful we got to at least spend some time with him though.  Lord willingly, I hope we can get together soon and have a late celebration.  Father's Day is one day, and he's the type of dad who should be celebrated every day.

Our trip was okay.  The past three months have caused me to view family differently, so when things come up, as they do in all families, it really upsets me.  I value time with family, and I have become keenly aware that at any moment the opportunity to be with family could be taken away in an instant.  Not everyone shares my same view.  I'm just beyond exhausted and glad to be home.

Thursday night I had my sleep study done.  I have avoided having it done for years, but when Dr. Keith pointed out I had a 20% chance of dying in the next five years if my issues weren't addressed, I decided it was time to bite the bullet.  All I could think about was how suddenly my mom died.  It wasn't nearly as bad as I had anticipated.  The Lord was gracious and sent a sweet man to do my testing.  It was a long night, but it's over.  I should have the results in about two weeks.

Yesterday I crashed.  I was able to get a little work done, but other than washing the glue out of my hair from the test, I got nothing else accomplished.  I still haven't unpacked from our trip.

Sara had a minor accident last night. I can't explain the fear that goes through me when we get the phone call she's been in an accident.  This isn't her first one, but it's the first that has caused significant damage to her car.

The saying, "when it rains, it pours" keeps coming to my mind.  It has poured on us for months now.  It's been major issue right after another.

I long for Heaven.  More and more each day my prayer for Jesus to come quickly increases in intensity.

Sara had senior pictures taken yesterday.  It doesn't seem possible she's a senior now.  It seems like yesterday I was sitting in her room on the floor crying hysterically the night we took her home wondering how I was going to take care of her.  I'm still fearful I'm not the mom she deserves.

It breaks my heart my mom isn't here.  I hate she will miss Sara's senior year.  She told me a few months ago she wanted to buy her prom dress.  She won't be here to see her or Hannah go to prom ... or any other part of their lives.

This past week marked 3 months since she the Lord called her home.  I can't even think about it with getting hysterical.  This week has been super hard.  I feel like I'm living those first two weeks all over again.  I just want to crawl up in the bed in a ball and cry.

Today I will be spending at church at a Women's Conference.  I'm looking forward to it.  I'm exhausted, but I need to go and be with people I love and who I know love me right back.  I might not last the entire day, but I'm going to give it shot.  I'm excited Sara and Hannah are going with me.

Tonight is my nephew's birthday party.  It is so hard to believe he's going to be seven in a few days.  He's such a precious little boy.  Full of energy, super smart, quick witted and absolutely hilarious.  He's pretty cute too.  He's so sweet, and I love how he calls me Aunt Ra Ra still.

At some point I need to get my VBS stuff together.  I'm teaching 1-2 grade again this year.  I am so grateful it is only half a day and only for 4 days.  It also helps I don't have to teach the entire time.  I am grateful for group time, recreation, arts and crafts and snack time.  VBS absolutely drains me.  I am hoping that being able to have it all within our new building will make it much easier this year.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Twelve Weeks

Twelve weeks.  On one hand it seems like twelve years, but I also wonder how it got here so fast.  Somehow twelve weeks marks some sort of significance I don't quite understand.

It's still hard ... and I mean HARD ... but those who have been through this that told me I would begin to get better at handling it were right.

It still hurts like no other pain I've ever experienced in my life.  The enormous black hole is still there.  I still cry a lot.  I miss her deeply.  None of that has changed.  And I still can't get "thank you" notes written; something a close friend who lost her Mother four weeks after I lost mine totally gets.

The pain hasn't lessened or gone away, and sometimes it just doesn't seem real.  The shock still hasn't completely worn off.  My arms still ache to hug her, and I still hate the hours between 12 and 2.  When I see her number pop up on the caller ID, I still think for a moment, "Oh, it's Mama".  I still pick up the phone without thinking to call her.  When I call my dad from my cell phone the number pops up still listed as "Mom's home", and I get a huge lump in my throat.

Although the tears come less often, sometimes they begin to flow without warning, and I still have times I whale the pain is so intense.

But the Lord has been gracious.  He has given me the ability to sometimes smile when I think about her.  I can now at times remember things she did, even those things that made me so frustrated and at times angry, and laugh.  Sometimes the smiles and laughter come through tears, but at least they are there.  And she would want that.

It's not easy, and without Jesus it would be impossible.  If not for Him, I couldn't survive this.  I need Him every hour of every day.  My heart has been so shattered with pain only Jesus can mend it.

I still want my Mama back.

However, the Lord has been faithful to remind me as much as I love her, He loves her infinitely more.  She is with Him.  As much as my heart wants her here with me, I know she's exactly where she needs to be.  She is where she wants to be.

I couldn't smile or laugh without having the assurance she is with Jesus.

And having the assurance that one day we will be together again.  The time we spend together then will be so much richer and beautiful.  I'll never miss her again. 

Oh, Jesus, I beg of you to come quickly.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Prayer Request ... or Maybe Two

I have often said I wish the Lord would give me an outline of what's to come in my life, but then I always quickly retract that statement because I know I really don't want to know.  I would most certainly be full of fear and worry.  Not to mention the mess I'd get myself in trying to avoid all of the hard things.  And the hard things will come.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. ~ 1 Peter 4:12-13

Just a few weeks ago Caleb said in his sermon the Lord was preparing us for the pain and suffering that is yet to come in our lives.  It was just a reminder to me that regardless of how much we've already suffered, we will always have more to come.

It doesn't seem fair.

But when I think of the suffering Jesus endured, my suffering seems like nothing.

I have to keep reminding myself of how He suffered because I often complain about my own pain without ever considering the amount of His pain.

I know He uses suffering to mold and makes us to be more like Him.  I always wonder if I am that unlike Christ that I need this much refining.

Yes, I am.

It's at that point I am reminded of my total depravity.

Oh, how I need Jesus!  I'm not so good at remembering that when things are full of sunshine and daisies.  But when the rain comes and the storm brews, I am quickly reminded of that truth.

Today I am very much aware of how much I need Him.

I haven't shared this with very many people for multiple reasons, but word has gotten out.  I guess I wasn't as careful with whom I shared it with as I thought I had been.  I logged into Facebook and my email this morning and discovered 9 messages from people wanting to know what is going on.  At first I was angry because I just wanted to keep it quite until I knew what I was dealing with, but then I realized I need prayer.  And lots of it.

For over a year now I have had a lump behind my left ear.  I've just thought it was swollen lymph node.  Since it hasn't gone away, Darryl told me I needed to see an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor, but I just kept putting it off.  However, lately I've noticed some pressure in my ear and in my throat, so I decided I probably should go have it checked out.

Yesterday was my appointment, and today I have to go back for a CT scan.

I was told the mass, as Dr. Keith referred to it, is not a swollen lymph node.  It's in the area of my carotid artery.  He said it's most likely one of two things ... a tumor or a blockage in my carotid artery that is getting inflamed.  He said there is a tumor that behaves the way I described they way this mass has.  He gave a specific name for it, but I don't remember what he said.  I also didn't ask if it was a benign tumor or malignant.  I didn't want to know.

When I left his office I decided I just wasn't going to think about it.  I don't know what I'm dealing with and it could be it's neither of those things.  But as the hours have passed I have found myself worrying and being fearful.

I won't know what the results of my CT scan is until June 25.  Thirteen more days.  I can produce a lot of worry and anxiety in that amount of time.

So, I ask you to pray I would be constantly reminded that in Jesus I don't have to fear.  He already knows what the results of the scan are and I've not even had it done yet.  He will give me the grace and mercy to get through whatever is to come.

I know this, but I tend to forget it.

I am praying this is something that has a simple fix to it.

And for Jesus to come quickly.

Will you do the same?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

By His Grace, I Cling To Him

Several weeks ago I had the privilege of meeting Nancy Guthrie.  She was passing through town on her way to a retreat, and she stopped to have lunch with my bible study group.  Until about a year ago when my friend Lacy suggested a book to me written by her, I had never heard of her.  Around the same time Lacy mentioned Nancy to me, I also started a bible study she had written, Hoping for Something Better.

Coincidence, no.  I don't believe in coincidences.  I believe in a God who ordains everything in my life.

Just as Nancy was about to leave, she pulled a book out of a box in the trunk of her car and handed it to me, Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow.

Nancy knows sorrow in a way many of us never will.  She had to place her 6 month old baby girl into the arms Jesus.  Just two years later, she had to do the same for her 6 month old son.  Although her story will make your heart ache, it also will give you so much hope.

God doesn't waste pain.  Her pain is no exception.

I have slowly read through this book.  I want to take in her every word because I know she is speaking from her own pain.  She is honest in sharing her  questions with how God could allow so much pain and suffering into our lives.  But just as she shares her own questions, she also shares how she heard Jesus speaking to her in the midst of her suffering.

Our suffering will do one of two things.  It will either cause us to run as far away from Jesus as we possibly can get, or it will cause us to cling to Him tighter than we ever have.

By His grace, I am clinging.

As I read further into the book, I find myself going back and reading over and over the things I've already read.  I not only need to remember it, I need to hear it within my heart.  And I don't always "get it" the first time around.

I picked it up this morning and as I was flipping back through the beginning of the book I read this ...

"It would seem to me that if anybody ever deserved to have his prayers answered in the affirmative, it was Jesus.  Here he was in the garden of Gethsemane, pouring out his repeated request to his Father, asking him to accomplish the salvation of sinners in some other way.  Yet God, through his silence, said no.
Jesus knows what it feels like to bring a heartfelt, passionate prayer to God and to hear God say, in effect, "I've got something else in mind.  I have another plan.  And that plan is going to require intense suffering on your part"
Somehow it helps me to know that Jesus wrestled with God's plan for his life--and his death--even as he submitted to it, because I, too have wrestled with God's plan for my life even as I have sought to submit to it.  Maybe you have too."

I most certainly have.  I have wrestled with God's plan so much in my life that Mary said to me, "You know, this might go a lot easier for you if you would stop kicking against God's sovereignty."

Did I stop kicking?  Not at first.  Actually, not until I was so exhausted I couldn't kick anymore.  But once the kicking ceased, I began to see with much clarity part of what God was accomplishing in my life.

His way is always the best way ... even if it requires suffering that seemingly will never end.  It may not end in this life, but one day suffering will be no more.

Jesus, come quickly.

I've been kicking hard lately.  I wasn't kidding when I said I don't always "get it" the first time around ... or the hundredth.  I've spent a lot of time lately wallowing in my sorrow.  He isn't giving my wants, and I don't like it.

I want to be healthy.  I want my pain to go away.  I want to be able to drive again.  I want to be able to stop taking medicine.  I want my Mama back.

My list of wants go on and on, but God's says, "no" ... at least for now.

Nancy says,

Here is the hope we find in hearing Jesus speak into our own sorrowful situation: it is possible to overcome our own wants, to push through them to surrender.  We see that as we pour our wants out before God, he gives us the grace we need to face whatever comes.  We, too, can learn obedience from what we suffer.  Our suffering does not have to be wasted pain.  It can take us closer to the heartbeat of God as we pursue obedience in the hard places of life.
As we stop fighting and start welcoming his Holy Spirit, we discover that he is actually changing what we want.  We begin to enjoy an inner strength and rest, a firm confidence that whatever God asks us to endure is purposeful.  We begin to truly believe that the joy of surrendering to his will is going to be worth whatever it may cost.
What we need most is not to hear God say yes to our requests.  What we need is to be filled with such deep confidence in the character of our Father that when he says no, we know he is doing what is right and good for us.  What we need most is the faith to trust him.
Some claim that strong faith is defined by throwing our energies into begging God for a miracle that will take away our suffering and then believing without doubting that he will do it.  But faith is not measured by our ability to manipulate God to get what we want; it is measured by our willingness to submit to what he wants.
It takes great faith to say to God, "Even if you don't heal me or the one I love, even if you don't change my circumstances, even if you don't restore this relationship, even if you allow me to lose what is most precious to me, I will still love you and obey you and believe that you are good.  And I believe that you, as my loving Father, will use everything in my life--even the hard and hurtful things--for my ultimate good and your eternal glory, because you love  me."

Let me be very clear, I believe God can perform miracles.  I have asked for them, and I have witnessed them.  One of my best friends just gave birth to one on Tuesday.  And I also know God says no at times.  A miracle isn't part of His plan.

Just after getting sick I had someone tell that if I had enough faith in God I would be able to get up and walk.  Her words crushed me and caused me to question if I truly trusted God.  It took me a long time to work through that.  Although I can walk now, it isn't without difficulty.  Does that mean my faith is shaky?  No, it means part of God's plan for me is for my legs to be shaky.  I don't like it, and it certainly isn't what I want.  I've asked Him to heal me, and I believe with all my heart He can, but for now He says no.

He told Jesus no, so why should I be any different?  Jesus suffered far greater than we can even imagine.  He suffered so much that His perspiration was like, "great drops of blood"

 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. ~ Luke 22:44

I have had much pain in my life, but I have never suffered to the point of sweating blood.

Jesus is more acquainted with suffering than I ever will be.  He has suffered through it all.

And He still submitted to God's will.

By His grace, I cling to Him.

More than I want Nancy's words to resonate within me, I want to hear Jesus.

I want to hear Him speak into my sorrow.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Unnecessary Worry

Yesterday I told a friend to make sure she read the Jesus Calling devotion for the day, and she sent me a message last night saying she has temporarily misplaced her book.  I was typing it out for her this morning when I decided to just share it here.

June 7

"I AM ALL AROUND YOU, like a cocoon of Light. My Presence with you is a promise, independent of your awareness of Me.  Many things can block this awareness, but the major culprit is worry.  My children tend to accept worry as an inescapable fact of life.  However, worry is a form of unbelief; it is anathema to Me.

Who is in charge of your life?  If it is you, then you have good reason to worry.  But if it is I, then worry is both unnecessary and counterproductive.  When you start to feel anxious about something, relinquish the situation to Me.  Back off a bit, redirecting your focus on Me.  I will either take care of the problem Myself or show you how to handle it.  In this world you will have problems, but you need not lose sight of Me." (Luke 12:22-31, John 16:33)

I am so often guilty of worrying.  I can, and have, worried over just about anything you can think of.  Everything from the health of my children, to whether or not someone is going to make it to the store to buy toilet paper before we run out.  I have a tendency to worry so much, it could be considered a hobby of mine.

Sure, I carry it to Jesus and lay it at His feet.  But just about the time I start to walk away, I pick it back up again and take it with me.  I'll take it back and leave it for a few hours or days, but then go back to pick it back up again.  It's not until I become exhausted from worry that I leave it at the Throne of Grace once and for all.  It's only then I find peace.

I am grateful I serve a sovereign God.  A God who is in control and has a perfect plan for us.  What a relief it is to know I am not in charge!  I cringe at the thought of the mess I would make of my life.  I don't always understand the path He leads me down, but I can rest in His promise to never leave me and never forsake me.  I can rest in knowing it's all for my good and His Glory.

I can rest.

Worry is most definitely a besetting sin of mine.  A sin I have to confess and ask forgiveness for often.  I waste a lot of time and energy worrying, when all I have to do is trust Him.

This morning my head is full of worries, and I'm sure those will be added to moment by moment.  So, I am going to print this devotion off and keep it handy.  Everytime I am tempted to worry, I am going to pull it out and read it.  The date on this devotion may have been for yesterday, but it applies to every single day of my life.

I love my Jesus Calling devotional.  I am currently reading it through for the second time.  It so simply and vividly reminds me of God's character, His promises, His truth ... all things I tend to forget easily.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hearing the Son as the Sun Rises

As I watch the sunrise this morning I am reminded of a devotion Connie shared with Mary and I.  Seeing a sunrise has never looked the same to me.  It never fails to rise.  It's a reminder of God's constant, unfailing love for us.


Oh, how often I need to be reminded of that!  I know it to be true deep within my heart and soul, but how quickly I tend to forget.

I've noticed I tend to forget it more often when I fail to spend less time with Him.  When I don't spend time sitting at the foot of the cross with great anticipation of what He has to say to me and to teach me next.  I forget it more easily when I'm not spending time in His Word.  It harder to remember when I fail to spend quiet time with Him in the early morning hours of my day.

My quiet time is food for my soul.  It's the most important meal of my day.  The early morning hours tend to be less distracting.  Just like I can hear the birds singing louder just outside my window as the sun begins to rise, I can also hear the Son speak louder to my heart. 

I am still here.  I was with you in the dark of the night, and I'm still near you as I guide in the light of day.  I haven't changed.  I'm still the same.  I will never leave you, and I will never let go of you. 

I don't think I've ever truly thought about why I can hear Him speak to my heart louder in the early morning hours until I started reading the book A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23.  At the beginning of May I began attending a bible study about this book a friend of mine is teaching. Psalm 23 will never have the same meaning to me.  Never will I see it just as the Psalm that is read at a graveside service.

I picked up the book this morning and was flipping through reading over all the highlighted words in pink.  There are so many of them.  It looks like I spilled a bottle of Pepto Bismol all over the inside of my book.

I being serious.

Chapter 4 ...

"... He leads me beside quiet waters." ~ Psalm 23:2

This jumped off of the page at me ...

"In the Christian life it is of more than passing significance to observe that those who are often the most serene, most confident, and able to cope with life's complexities are those who rise early each day to feed on God's Word.  It is in the quiet, early hours of the morning that they are led beside the quiet, still waters where they imbibe the very life of Christ for the day.  This is much more than mere figure of speech.  It is practical reality." ... "There, alone, still, waiting for the Master's voice, one is lead gently on the place where, as the old hymn puts it, 'The still dews of His Spirit can be dropped into my life and soul'." ... "One comes away from these hours of meditation, reflection, and communion with Christ refreshed in mind and spirit.  The thirst is slaked and the heart is quietly satisfied."

And as I turned the page ...

"He loves to see me contended, quiet, at rest, and relaxed.  He delights to know my soul and spirit have been refreshed and satisfied."

Darryl has said to me many times that he can tell when I'm spending more time in His word and listening to what He (that would be Christ, not him) is saying to me.  I can cope with life's troubles, heartaches and chaos far better than I can when I'm not putting all of my faith and trust in Jesus.

I hate to admit Darryl is right, but he is.

A friend asked me yesterday how am I?

"I am emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted!", was my reply.

I realized this morning there is something missing from that statement.  I have on many occasions added, "and spiritually exhausted".  Yesterday I left it out.


Because in the past 11 weeks and one day I have leaned harder on Jesus than ever before in my entire life.  Instead of running to Nathan or my friends, first I run to Jesus.

Don't misunderstand me.  Yes, I have run to my friends many times, but I've only run to the friends who point me to Jesus.  I know they pray for me.  They don't try to fix my brokenness, rather they carry me to the Healer.

And it is there, and only there, where I find the ability to take my next breath and the strength to do the next thing.  It's at the foot of the cross where I find His grace and mercy.

It is only in Jesus where I find my only hope and true peace.

"He loves to see me contended, quiet, at rest, and relaxed.  He delights to know my soul and spirit have been refreshed and satisfied."

Isn't that simply beautiful?

Just as beautiful as the sunrise He gives us every morning to remind us of the unfailing love of His Son.

"... He leads me beside quiet waters." ~ Psalm 23:2

It is in the quiteness of the early morning I can hear His truth speaking loudly to my heart.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sisterly Love

Today marks eleven weeks.  There is something about the eleven week mark that is harder.  Maybe it's because her headstone has now been set.  Seeing it always takes my breath away.  It's made visiting the cemetery this past week much harder.  I thought having it there would make me feel better.  I didn't think the plastic cover containing just a piece a paper was good enough for her.  However, I didn't expect seeing a permanent headstone to be devastating.  I've left the cemetery everyday in tears since, when what I've wanted to do is just sit on the ground and talk to her.

Before I get a bunch of messages telling me she isn't really there, I realize that.

While I was standing beside of her grave the other day, something else took my breath away and brought me to tears.

My mom had a very close relationship with her sisters.  She talked to them often.  At least once a day she talked to one of them, some days all of them.   They spent hours sharing their hearts with one another.  They would call her for advice, and sometimes she gave it unsolicited.  They listened to her, and somehow just talking to her made them feel better.  Sometimes, though, she would make the situation worse when she tried to fight their battles for them.  She had a tendency to try to take down the enemy.  They had their fair share of arguments, just like all sisters do, but their love each for each other is much stronger than any words they said.

Her death has been hard for them.  Just like me, the shock hasn't completely worn off.  Each of them is dealing with it in their own way, but all of them are hurting deeply.

On Tuesday of last week when the headstone was set, Sara and I went to put flowers in the vase.  While we were there, my dad drove up and as he left he took all of the flowers that had been there with him.  It was windy, so we were having to work hard to keep things from blowing away.  Once we were finished, we picked up our mess.  I had to go back later with Nathan to add more flowers to the arrangement.  Once we were finished, we also picked up our mess.  We searched the ground all around us to make sure we had picked everything up.

I visited her grave everyday.  On Monday afternoon, I noticed a daisy that had dropped off an arrangement Mama's youngest sister placed on her grave a few days before Easter.

I hadn't seen it until Monday afternoon, nor had Nathan, Sara or Hannah.  I am assuming no one else had or they would have picked it up.  I'm not sure how I missed seeing it all of those days, but there is laid.  It had survived strong windy days, heavy rain and a couple of nightly severe thunderstorms.

How symbolic of their relationship! 

It made me smile in the midst of the tears running down my face.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

I Cry ... A Lot

I've been thinking a lot this past week about how drastically my life has changed in the past four and half years.  It has been full of struggles, fears, heartbreak and complete exhaustion.  There have been times I have wanted to give up.  Living in constant pain isn't easy.  Not knowing from one day to the next if I'm going to be able to walk when I wake up, or if I'm going to fall, break something and never walk again is scary.  Having to be dependent on others for the most basic things has been humbling.  Life is not easy.  It's a constant struggle, and I get frustrated.  Sometimes my frustration turns into anger.

I cry ... a lot.

I pray every day the Lord would heal me.  I pray He would heal me instantly or through the knowledge He gives my doctors.  I pray for there to a cure for CIDP.

And I pray every day for Him to come and take us home.

I am living with an incurable autoimmune disease.  Not only is there no cure, it's hard to control the symptoms.  The pain is so much at times I would give anything for it to stop.  The best way I know how to describe it is it feels like electrical shocks are running through my arms, fingers, legs and toes.  It burns like they are on fire, and it feels like I'm being stabbed with an ice pick.  I have muscle spasms all through my body that feel like "charlie horses".  My feet drag the floor because I have foot drop, which increases my chances of falling.  My body is weak, and I tire easily.  Most of the time I am miserable.

I cry ... a lot.

I've lost my job.  I've lost my independence.  I've even lost relationships that I've discovered were not what I thought they were.

 I cry ... a lot.

Ten weeks and three days ago I lost my Mama.  I'm still in shock even though every day it becomes a little more real to me.  The pain in my heart is unending.  My arms ache to hug her.  I miss her every day phone calls.  I miss how if I happened to not be at home she would run me down, want to know where I was at, who I was with and what were we doing.  It frustrated me so much at the time, but I miss it now.  My heart is broken.  I don't even know what words to use to describe the pain.  I don't even think the words exist.

I've lost a lot.

I cry ... a lot.

I've cried a million tears over the past four and half years.  I have sobbed and whaled so much I didn't think it would ever stop.  But when I learned to cry out to the Lord, I began to realize that although I've lost much, I've gained much more.

"Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary." ~ Isaiah 40:31

I am waiting on the Lord to answer my prayers.  I'm waiting on Him to heal my body.  I'm waiting on Him heal my broken heart.  I'm waiting with great anticipation for Him to come and take His children home.

While I wait, I continue to cry out to Him.  While I wait, He gives me His strength.  And it's only because of His strength I can continue to wait.

I cry out to Him ... a lot.

"More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ," ~ Philippians 4:8

In my loss ... in my heartache ... I have gained a deeper knowledge of Christ.  I have gained a much closer relationship with my Savior.  I have been given grace and mercy at the very moment I needed them.  I have been given peace in the midst of life's storms.  I have been given much love.  I have been given strength when I didn't know how I could possibly take my next breath.

My life may have drastically changed over the past four and a half years, but Jesus hasn't.

He's still the same.  He's the same Jesus that He was moments before I collapsed in my office.  He's the same Jesus that He was moments before He took my Mama home.  He's still the same Jesus today as I sit here exhausted and in pain.

He will be the same Jesus tomorrow when my church celebrates it's first Sunday in our new building.

He's the same Jesus in sorrow as He is when we are rejoicing.

So when you cry, cry out to Him.