Category Archives: Deep thoughts

Abbey trip reflections

So, folks. I’ve gotta get this nagging voice out of my head, so I’m just gonna spill it. I said I would talk about what I heard at the Abbey almost two weeks ago, so here goes nothin’.

The biggest revelation, the biggest message I heard God speaking to me was that I need to keep sharing my stories, and with that I need to get back to writing my memoir.

We were sitting in the chapel, following along with the Psalms the monks were chanting, and they came to Psalm 40, which I recognized to be the one given to me when I lost my hearing. Given to me, as in, I heard the song “Jesus, Lover Of My Soul” one time in a movie many years prior, and then it was all I could hear in my head when I could very literally hear nothing else. That song, that Psalm, became my mantra for over a year. The words “taken me from the miry clay” resonated with me on so many levels.

Reading the Psalm in church got my attention, but that’s not the part that spoke the loudest to me. What spoke to me most was when I went back to the cottage and read the Psalm for myself. Verse 3 in particular, and I immediately felt God saying that I needed to continue writing – “singing my song” – so that people will see Him and put their trust in Him.

He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.

What my sister helped me see was that writing my memoir is much like training for and running a long race. It takes time, it might not look pretty, but the most important thing is that you keep working towards the goal. The key is consistency. So even if it’s just a half paragraph a day, or even every other day, it’s okay. I just need to be committed to not quitting. I will get this memoir written. It’s going to take a lot of patience, and you can bet I’ll need a lot of help, but dang it I’ll have it done eventually.

I have over 7000 words written at this point, and I’m kind of stuck as to where to go next, but I’ll keep chipping away at it. I’ve told a lot of small stories to make up those 7000 words but there is still a surprising amount of detail left to tell in order to make it a complete story. Some of those are details I don’t possess, memories that aren’t mine to tell because I was either sleeping or only somewhat conscious, but that’s where I’ll need to utilize my new “asking for help” skills.

It’s quite intimidating, the idea of writing a book. I have author friends and family so I know it’s possible. Normal human beings do it all the time. I just worry that it’s not possible for me, because I have cognitive struggles from the M.S. But that’s the primary thought that’s kept me from working on the book, so I need to stop thinking it.

Cognitive struggles due to M.S. Big Fat Sigh. This is probably one of the most difficult parts of the disease for me to accept. I was always the smart girl, the know-it-all, the straight A student. “That Mindy, she’s so smart”. I never had to struggle to understand things. That 4.0, smart girl persona? I let that define me, and now that that part of me is being chipped away, it seems my self-worth is being chipped away right along with it. This is painful to write about, but maybe it needs to be said, because as I’m writing this I am getting rather emotional. And in my experience, that lump in my throat is usually the first step towards healing a deep wound I have been ignoring for far too long. I need to swallow that lump, along with my pride.

I struggle daily with forgetting things. I know people say this is typical of aging, but I know it’s more than that. I also struggle with comprehending simple concepts, whether they are new to me or not. I struggle with holding conversations and putting ideas together. I struggle hard with writing, and this is the most heartbreaking. I have always loved writing. I have kept a diary since I was a little girl. I started blogging back when you had to write your own code. I journal thoughts in my head throughout the day, and sometimes those thoughts actually make it to my written journal. Just today, my laundry folding was interrupted by this blog post forming itself in my head, itching to get out.

Writing is part of who I am, so when I set such an ambitious goal as writing a memoir, having never written a real book before, you can imagine it’s frustrating to feel like you are unable to make any progress. When your brain just refuses to make the necessary connections, it’s very discouraging.

But! I read a meme recently that reminded me that when God calls us to something, he factors in our failures and frailty. So I’m taking that as truth and leaning on Him, always and forever.

Waiting for the crash

Last night I stayed up way too late watching Pretty Woman on tv. Because I don’t know why. Because I had recorded it, and then started watching it not being entirely aware of the time, and then not being able to turn it off in the middle. Because you’ve gotta finish what you’ve started, right? I won’t get started on what a classic, feel good movie that is. It just is for me, and I don’t care if you judge me for it. Julia Roberts is just genius in that role. That’s all.

Anyway, so I was up way too late, and then had to get up early this morning to wake my daughter to get ready for the second day of horse camp. Then, even though I kept telling myself I was going to go back to bed, I just sort of kept moving on with my day. Luke and I rode bikes to get lunch at Taco Bell, my vitamins from Rite-Aid, and then ice cream at Sweet Sensations. It was a great afternoon, and then I thought maybe I would catch a nap before Natalie got home from camp, but I just, well, didn’t. Then I made dinner for the family and now I’m sitting here wondering when I’m going to hit that wall of fatigue. Yet, it just doesn’t seem to be coming. Hallelujah, praise the Lord, I’m operating like a normal healthy person!

This may be the healthiest I have ever felt. I don’t even remember having this kind of energy when I was in my twenties. I’m sure I did, I just don’t remember it, ha! So I’m writing this down so that I can remember how I feel and perhaps what I’m doing to feel so good. I believe it’s all the healthy things combined that work together to allow my body to operate at its best. Staying active with running, cycling, and walking. Eating my fruits and veggies, taking my greens daily, drinking lots of water. Even the celery juice I’ve been drinking every morning seems to be having a positive effect on my sleep quality, somehow. I know the celery juice is a fad right now, but you never know, this might be one that sticks. We shall see. But all the exercise and the healthy eating (with itty bitty cheats here and there) is really working.

The best part about feeling good is that I am feeling confident about the upcoming commitments I’ve made: leading a bible study, a discipleship group, and a Financial Peace class. I’m not afraid that it will be more than I can handle, or be too much to take on as a person living with MS. I do realize that none of this healthy living makes me immune to a relapse, so I’m keeping a level head about that, but I’m praying that all this healthy stuff I’m doing will make a relapse far less likely. I’ve always said I don’t want to let fear drive my decisions, and that applies here. I can’t say no to these exciting opportunities to serve God for fear that I’ll relapse. I’m trusting that He’s the one that gave me these desires and that He’s leading me down these paths, and if that’s true, He’ll take care of the details. M.S. is no match for my God!

Change of plans

Our house came with a really awesome metal gazebo thing on the back deck. It had a cover, and when it ripped we replaced it. Then it ripped again, we replaced it again. That one ripped… I think we are on our 4th cover, but we are crossing our fingers that this one will last a little longer. Our backyard is in a wind tunnel so it gets some rough treatment. We shall see.

All this to say that one of my favorite spots at this house is on that back deck, under the gazebo. Since we put up a new cover I’ve been spending every morning out there. Piper loves it because she can play with her ball while I read my Bible and drink my skinny coffee and chocolate greens. Today was no different than any other day, except that when I first walked out I noticed it was sprinkling a little. No worries, right? What’s a little sprinkle when you are under a canopy? But within a few minutes it had turned into a downpour. Even Piper was unwilling to stay out in that mess and she quickly led me to the door to go back inside.

I am finding lately that I can handle a little change in plans. I can’t remember the last time I had a panic attack, and I know that’s a miracle. I can’t take any credit for that because all I’ve done is lean into God’s arms and let Him change me from the inside out.

Rather than be upset about having to go inside, I was okay with the change. And it turned out even better, because my son happened to come downstairs for breakfast and we ended up just sitting and talking. He’s really great to spend time with when he’s not being an energetic spaz, and I’m sure to tell him that (wink wink). We ended our little impromptu time together with some Xbox Kinect fitness game. He beat me on all the challenges except for the last one. Mom’s gotta win sometimes, right?

There’s a moral somewhere in this mundane story. I think the lesson is that sometimes our plans don’t work out, but when they don’t, we need to be on the lookout for the positive, the silver lining. If I had not been forced back inside the house, I would have missed that opportunity to spend that quality time with my son. So sometimes failed plans open us up to better opportunities. But we must be open to seeing them. So there. Stick that in your back pocket. It may come in handy some day.

Just let it go

From Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird”, “Sometimes this human stuff is slimy and pathetic – jealousy especially so – but better to feel it and talk about it and walk through it then to spend a lifetime being silently poisoned.”

This excerpt from the book really resonated with me, and I’ll tell you why. It’s not about jealousy really, but the slimy and pathetic stuff. This is personal, so bear with me. It’s kind of like ripping off a band-aid to find your wound is still all oozy and gross.

I am a sort of passive-aggressive person. I tend to walk around with my issues held close to my chest, with a smile on my face so nobody will know anything is bothering me. The problem comes when the issues start festering, and it’s hard to contain the angst. It starts spilling out here and there, like when you’re eating popcorn and you think you’re getting it all in your mouth only to find out later you have some stuck in your cowlneck sweater (not that that’s ever happened to me, *wink wink*). No, you can’t hide or ignore your issues. Especially with your family. They live with you, they know you best. They know something’s up.

So lately I’ve been walking around with this resentment in my heart. Ugly, nasty resentment aimed indirectly at my dear, loving, hardworking husband. And it seeps out in nasty ways when tensions are high, or the kids are being more challenging than usual. I just get grumpy and mean and downright nasty. So at church last Sunday I had some extra time to sit and really pray about this. I told God what I was feeling, as if He didn’t already know, and asked Him to help me let it go. I seriously struggle with the letting go. I asked a couple friends to also pray that God would help me let go of this ugliness I was clinging to.

I left church that morning still feeling rather conflicted and icky but I had hope that God would come through on my request, eventually. I had no idea how quickly He would answer my prayer! I went to a baby shower that afternoon and had a conversation with a woman I had not seen in years, and while we talked she was expressing some of the same things my husband has and yet I wasn’t judging her for it the way I had with my husband. The realization came fast and clear, and that’s when something opened up in my heart and I felt like the Grinch when his heart grew bigger. I went home that evening and confessed to my husband why I had been such a grump lately and why I had been so cold towards him on so many occasions. I told him I knew how hard he worked to be the best dad and husband he could be, and that I appreciated it and I was working at becoming more grateful. Guess what? He didn’t look at me with contempt and tell me I could sleep on the couch from now on. Nope. He looked at me with a look of understanding and love and he reached out to hold my hand. Because that’s what marriage is. For better or worse, always.

So, my friends, I share this because I want to encourage you to be brave enough to be humble and gracious, and don’t make friends with your grudges. Call them out for what they are: ugly pieces of garbage. Just let them go. And if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, let Him handle it. It’s kind of His specialty.

He hears me

Last night as I lay in bed I asked God for help. Nothing fancy. Just that – please help me. I’m feeling lost and unwell and discouraged, and I need your help. Thank you, amen.

And then I got up this morning and read my morning devotional from Our Daily Bread: https://odb.org/2019/01/02/its-good-to-ask/

I don’t think this could have been any more relevant to how I’ve been feeling lately. The scripture alone spoke volumes to my heart. From Psalm 143:4-11: “Therefore my spirit faints within me”, “I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.” “I have fled to you for refuge. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God!” (I love the Psalms. I feel like David and I would have been friends.)

To give you some specifics as to why I’ve been feeling down in the dumps – full disclosure is a strength of mine lol – my brain is foggy. My body hurts. I get random pains on my left side, both the sharp kind and the throbbing kind. I’m still sore from a long car ride two days ago, and I’m not sure how long that will last. I slept ten hours last night and I’m still tired. Even after coffee. I don’t remember what “feeling rested” feels like. Sure, part of this may be aging, but more likely all of this is exacerbated by the M.S. Multiple sclerosis has destroyed my nerves and while most days I look just fine, underneath everything is going haywire. And I can deal with the inconvenience, but the permanence scares me. There is no cure. It’s here to stay. But I can decide how I want to look at it. I can decide to live in fear of the unknown of the future, or I can decide to accept how it affects me today and find ways to enjoy life despite it.  I need to choose the latter.

But back to this morning’s message. What I’m learning here is that sometimes we don’t need concrete answers. Sometimes it’s enough comfort to know that we are not alone, and to know that God is listening to our prayers. I am encouraged today. Yes, I’m still in a gray sort of mood, and my body is still not cooperating like I want it to, but there is a light shining through the gray, and that is Jesus. So I’m just going to keep my eyes on Him and trust Him to guide me through to wherever it is He wants me to go. One. Day. At. A. Time.

Distraction

Can I just be honest right now? Because of course, everything else I’ve written on this blog is completely made up.  Just kidding. But seriously. I want to be lazy. I want to abandon my responsibilities and sit, curled up on the couch all day crocheting or reading or playing Farmville. But there’s this nagging voice, and my hunch is that it is the Holy Spirit and I don’t want to admit it, that says I was made for more, and that being lazy is not God’s purpose for me. I know that God places value in rest, that He commands it even, but how do I know when I’m taking it too far? I wish I had a cut and dried prescription that says you need ‘x’ amount of rest on these days, and ‘x’ amount of time you ought to be working. It’s probably true that I need more rest than the average 40 year old woman, since I have MS, but that doesn’t really make this dilemma any easier to solve. I’m in better health than your average woman with MS, so there’s no template for me to go by. Not that I think there should be one. I’m just thinking out loud here.

Journaling is very helpful. It helps me focus, and especially helps because I treat it like a prayer. All of my journaling is really just a conversation between me and God, and He often speaks to me through my journaling. He probably speaks to me a lot more often than that, of course, I just don’t hear it because I’m distracted by everything around me. But when I’m typing, there’s no distraction. I’m entirely focused on the conversation.

So what I feel like God has been whispering to me over the past several months (yes, I’m a slow learner) is that I am too distracted. So I asked for His help and guidance with life and time management and finding a balance between work and rest and all the other stuff I want to do, like writing my book, running, baking cookies and crocheting.

This is so silly, but the biggest distraction I’ve allowed into my life is a little game called Farmville 2. Heard of it? It’s super addictive because there are always things to do, missions to complete, challenges to meet. And it’s fun, but it sucks the life out of you. Or at least it does for me. I’m sure there are people who are able to balance games like this with real life, but I’m not one of them. I am the demographic they built this game for. I know they devote lots of money into research to know how to keep people addicted to their games in the hopes they will spend money, but I never spend money in the game. I am firm about that rule. So the joke’s on them, right? Wrong. Because I have still let it steal hours and hours, days even, of my life. I’ve decided I’m done with it. For good, I hope. Please.

Romans 7:15 ESV “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

Hebrews 12:1 NIV “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I feel better, I think. Last time I uninstalled the game I think I made it a full three days. We’ll see if I can make it longer than that this time. The last time, I hope. Gee whiz.

Sweet dreams

I went back to bed at 8:30 this morning for a nap. I woke up about an hour after and still felt like I didn’t want to move. Mostly my legs didn’t want to move, but really all of me. The bed is so warm and cozy. So I went back to sleep for another hour and a half. I was having a really vivid dream where I was sitting in a living room, talking to my friend Heather about how I had been feeling. That a friend from church’s mom died recently and I was thinking about how I would die someday. That I was afraid I would die young and my kids would be left without me. And as I was saying this last part I started sobbing, and she reached over and hugged me tight. Then I woke up, with tears in my eyes and it still felt like her arms were around me. And I stood up, wiped the tears from my eyes, shook off the sadness, and got dressed.

I think I need to keep going to therapy.