H.O.P.E.

Once again awake before dawn to spend some quality time with my pain. It is in the quiet that I try to apply the lessons learned during the last 6 weeks of my Chronic Pain Classes. First lesson… Accept that the pain will be your constant companion for life. Not a very happy reality. Because of my faith I know that my suffering is not eternal. Suffering is the pain caused by my chronic pain. I have HOPE that one day I will shed this painful suit of flesh and trade it for my heavenly one that will not waste away. What I am learning is that HOPE is a choice. The automatic thoughts that surface when the pain increases are just that…. Thoughts. Not Facts. This was a paradigm shift in thinking for me. We can dwell on those thoughts and spiral into depression or we can see them for what they are…  a response by our flesh willing us to find a way to stop the pain. Hopelessness is always waiting for you to succumb to those negative thoughts. But just as easily you can choose HOPE. God made us to have free will. We all have choices to make. Don’t fool yourself into believing the lie that you don’t. God loves us enough to trust you with that choice. Choose Him and Hold On Pain Ends! Amen…. #chronicpain #chronic #ankylosingspondylitis #backpain #hope #wisdom #choices

Family Ties

Tonight I sit here stunned at my moms recovery. A week ago we were wondering if she would even survive the night in the ICU. Today we began to share with her what she had endured over the past 12 days. She looked at us in total disbelief. Unable to grasp our joy and relief as she began to understand why she was in so much physical pain. 

That really got me thinking that this test wasn’t just for her. Don’t misunderstand me, her rehabilitation journey is going to be tough, but this storm of events brought 3 sisters that have grown apart back together like a rubberband snapping back into shape. I believe there is a unique bond that pulls in your gut to build a supportive environment around your ailing parent in times like these. 

For me it wasn’t the fear of loosing her causing my tears. It was deeper than that. It was acknowledging the fact that the love between us that I had thought had played out its life in our youth was still there. It was springing back to life as we watched her clinging to her own. It was if God was giving us another chance to be in each others lives. We can use this trial to make one another a priority or we can wait for the next time where we might not be as lucky. 

Relationships need to be prioritized. Tended to if you truly want them… God placed us in the same womb, brought us together to be a family. I pray we do our best to remain one. 

Christmas 2016

No tree. No decorations. Yet it has been one of the best Christmases ever.  We made a choice to celebrate this year with a Roadtrip. We all picked a place to go with the goal of ending up in Texas by the 21st so we could attend a wedding. We spent a day in Vegas another in Arizona to see the Grand Canyon, then off to New Mexico and finally ended up in Texas for the beautiful wedding of Jordan and Hannah. It’s hard to believe but not one argument. We played the music loud, sang the wrong lyrics on purpose and took turns needing potty breaks and rest stops. Nobody was in sync. Did it matter? Not a bit. Why? Because we had no agenda but to be together.

As most know, I crochet. I spent about a month and about $100 to make the wedding gift, a handmade afghan. It was in a heavy decorative box with a card filled with 100 stamps and a book on marriage called Love and Respect. As we left the lodge where we stayed in the Grand Canyon, Steve left the gift on the roof of the car. He didn’t realize it until we were about an hour away. At that moment I could’ve lost it. I could’ve ruined the trip. I could have said turn the car around we are heading home, but I didn’t. I had my daughter watching me. I could live out my faith or not. I had a choice. In that split second of sheer panic I knew I had a choice. That realization has come with maturity, the gift of discernment.

My faith teaches that God has a will for all things and he will use all things for his Glory. I had to believe that this was one of those things. Rather than caving into disappointment I chose to accept the situation.  The gift was gone. Someone out there is getting a handcrafted afghan for Christmas. I pray it keeps them warm. As for me, no tears were going to flow. No lashing out in anger. We just needed a new gift. You really can’t find a meaningful wedding gift at a truck stop on Route 66. Bailey said mom we have 3 days, you could whip something out, so off to The Purl in the Pines yarn shop in Flagstaff, Arizona. We picked out the same yarn just a different color and the marathon began at 4:20pm on the 19th. I’m happy to say that at 8:40pm on the 21st we had a 50″x44″ afghan. My finger had a fiber burn from crocheting so fast for so long, but it felt like a team effort. Steve drove, Bailey untangled the yarn and rolled it into balls and I hooked like mad. We laughed. We encouraged each other. We gifted each other with grace. A gift worthy of the King…

We decided after the wedding to drive straight home so we could possibly see the grandbabies and Bay could see a friend home from the Coast Guard. We knew Belle & Kali were going to be at Grans for Christmas Eve. 30 hours later we arrived home with swollen feet, tired aching bodies, but peaceful and happy from all we experienced together. We hydroplained through the desert and skidded through a snowstorm in the mountains to make it to dinner with the family.

After we ate, I watched Belle proficiently opening everyone’s gifts including her sisters. I looked around and saw no decorated tree but rather a family. My family gathered to share a meal and a few presents. No decorations needed. We demonstrated what Christmas was really about. Gathering together in love and sharing The Gift of Grace!

Merry Christmas everyone. May you celebrate the birth of our Savior today by gifting each other in grace.  

False Truths

image

I spent several decades of my life living for the elusive ‘they’. Always worried about what others would think, I would wake up early to dress to impress. I would spend 12-14 hrs a day working believing I was being a successful role model for my children when all they wanted was a mom. I believed that a six figure salary would bring security to my soul. That was all an illusion created out of false truths I was telling myself. I thought if I revealed my true limitations then I would be admitting failure.

Today I am in pain greater than I have been in awhile. I am broken, not just physically but emotionally. I lay here in this bed wanting more, not just for me, but for my family. I want to be a better wife, a dependable mom and an active grandma, but at this moment I can’t be all those things. I can’t really explain why I feel ashamed when I have to use a wheelchair. I feel as if I’m a burden to the one pushing me. Once again false truths are plaguing my mind.

I need to lean into what I know to be real truths. God has promised me the desires of my heart all I have do is trust Him and commit my ways to Him. So right now I am I lifting my heart to God and asking Him that if what I desire is not in His will then change my heart. Prune this vine and train me in Your ways. Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me so that my story will glorify the one who knows how it all ends…

Sisters

I can’t believe Downton Abby made me cry today… The story is about a family with 3 sisters and I see my own relationships mirrored in the drama.

Sisters are such a complex relationship. They are your first friend, but also the first to hurt you. The first you person you trusted with a secret and the one you may have broken that trust with. It is with them you either learn how to forgive or hold a grudge.

When Mary asked Edith why she was there for her wedding after she ruined hers, Edith said “Because in the end you’re my sister… Time will pass until at last our shared memories will mean more than our mutual dislike.” There will be a day in the future that you will only have one another that remembers the milestones of your youth.

I’ve spent the last 3 months stitching gifts for both of my sisters. No baby afghans here… Full size throws. As I have shared before when I crochet, my mind is free to remember those shared moments. It is also free to lift prayers without words for them and their families. I suppose all those emotions just bubbled to the surface when words so wise and known so deeply settled on my heart.

Thank you Lord for allowing my heart to be open to hear this truth today.

Not a Grandma Throw for Barb…

image

Shades of Gray made for Carrie

image

Acceptance Once Again

image

What I’ve come to know is suffering is not just a result of physical pain. Suffering is an emotional response to a circumstance. Acute physical pain is a wave that will pass through sometimes in a moment or maybe a season. However chronic pain stays with you, a companion for life. My life has forever been changed completely as a result of living with chronic pain. My relationships with people, activities, and even with my God shift each time I have to go through the grieving process to accept one more restriction of this failing spine. Trying to find the opportunity to be used in ways that I would never had considered before becomes more challenging for me.

We all have big dreams that we try to attain as we mature. Few of us are lucky enough to experience the feeling of success. I have had many seasons success. They were full of pure joy, peace and love. Paula Rhinehart wrote, “In order to experience true joy, you must let pain tutor your soul”. Pain seems to be a prerequisite to joy.

What I’m realizing is that each season that passes and my perspective changes the lessons I must learn to experience a deeper joy require me to face the suffering head on. Acknowledge the loss and seek to accept my new reality.

The most important lesson was I can not do it alone. I seek wisdom and discernment from God. I pray for His will to be revealed in the opportunities I am given. Satan tries to take advantage of circumstances, but the Holy Spirit within me guides me through.

As I laid on that table yesterday the song Holy Spirit by Kari Jobe kept me focused. “Holy Spirit you are welcomed here. Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for to be overcome by Your presence, Lord.” I felt His presence. I felt his compassion through the hands of a technician wiping away my tears and holding an ice pack on my skin. So when I heard the doctor say the words I feared most, “severe spinal stenosis” I knew it was time for the process to begin yet again…. time to acknowledge the loss and seek to accept one more physical limitation while I’m here on Earth.

Lord give me your eyes so that I may see the new opportunities and let go of the unrealistic desires that reside in my heart. Create in me a clean slate so that you may carve your will deeper into my soul. Amen.