Category Archives: Faith

Madam Sleepsalot

If you’re ever curious about my day to day routine, today is your lucky day. Now that kids are back in school and snow days are hopefully well behind us, I’ve settled into a daily routine. This time around I sort of just go with how my body is feeling, and it’s interesting to me how well this is working.

Every morning I get up at 5:30 with my son, and stay up until 8 when my daughter leaves for the bus stop (her school starts an hour later than his). While the kids are getting ready for school, I’m drinking coffee, reading my Bible, and sometimes eating breakfast (If my stomach is up for it). After the kids are off to school I go back to bed. I don’t set an alarm, I just sleep as long as my body needs to. Some days that’s only an hour or two, some days it’s more. Thursdays I generally sleep much longer because I’m recovering from a full day on Wednesdays, between Bible study in the morning and Financial Peace University at night.

After the morning nap I get up, eat a late breakfast or lunch, and then I get going with that day’s work. This usually includes dishes and laundry, and sometimes paying the bills and running. I’m usually done by 3:00, just before my son gets home from school, and then I can relax with a book or a tv show. Then I start thinking about what to make for dinner. The rest of the evening changes from day to day but in general I’m letting myself relax and enjoy time with family. I’m not stressing about my to do list because I’ve already done the day’s work. The rest can wait until tomorrow.

So you could say I work about 4 hours a day and sleep 10. This seems excessive to me, and the old me would think I was lazy. The new me is learning to understand this is just part of my disability and it’s what my body needs in order to heal and stay healthy.

It’s been really refreshing to be able to establish a routine that allows for a good work/rest balance. I’m getting things done, but I’m working WITH my fluctuating energy levels rather than fighting against them (or giving up altogether, as I have done in the past).

Much of this new attitude has resulted from consistent reminders of the grace God gives us. When I read in Scripture that He tells us to rest and to stop striving, or even to “strive to rest”, I am encouraged to know I’m doing the right thing. Amen? Amen.

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You are enough

People like myself, who have been sort of thrust into permanent disability, use a phrase – “finding my new normal”. It refers to the process of acceptance of this new life, this new way of living, and embracing our new challenges and setbacks. For me, it refers to finding a space, figuratively speaking, that feels like home. I’m searching for comfort, for peace of mind, for a mental and emotional state where I can put up my feet and relax and be okay with just being who I am, HOW I am, as is.

This past weekend I was praying during my morning quiet time with Jesus, and I felt God speaking to me a very clear message. “You are enough. You are complete. As you are.” This blew my mind. I didn’t even know how much I needed to hear that, but boy was it a game changer. Up until now I think I’ve sort of been trying to be who I was – despite my limitations – and that’s very frustrating. Futile, in fact. What I believe God is saying to me is that I can be who I am now. That’s it. Warts and all! Just be who I am now. I am enough.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalms 139:13-14

I’m sharing this snippet from my personal journal because I want you to know this message is for you too. Wherever you are, however you are, you are enough. Right where you stand. You are enough. Your Creator knows where you are, how you got here, and He’s got you covered. He’s molding you like a potter molds the clay. It might be uncomfortable, painful even, this molding process, but the end result is a beautiful piece of work. You are enough.

“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

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.

I’ve been crocheting

I’ve been busy, but not really busy. What I’ve been busy NOT really doing, is all the things I want to do, like taking care of our home and writing my book. What I’ve been doing instead is playing Farmville. And crocheting. But at least the crocheting serves a good purpose. See, I’m making hats with all the leftover yarn in my possession, and I plan to give them to the cancer center where I get my monthly infusions. I noticed this last infusion that they had a bunch laid out for people to take and when I asked about them they said they were from volunteers, and they can always use more so they would be happy to have me donate. Hats are fun because you can play around with different patterns and if you don’t like it, you know quick enough and you can just undo and start again with a different pattern. And I’m so thrilled I found a place to make them for. I love crocheting, it’s like therapy for me, and even better if it’s going toward a good cause.

I went for a run yesterday after a sort of long hiatus and it felt really good. I need to get better at running on a regular basis. A friend and I are planning to run a half marathon together next fall so I have something to work towards. I think she’s been a lot more disciplined than I am at the training, and she has five kids! So I have literally zero valid excuses. Unless you count the MS, but I don’t ever like to give it that much credit. There may be some day down the road MS decides to take away my ability to run, but until then, I need to do it. Because I can. And because it’s good for my physical and mental health.

As for the book, I am still writing it and I suppose you could say I’ve made good progress, but I kind of got stuck. I don’t know where to go next. So I’m giving it time and praying that I get some more inspiration to write more. There’s no question I have a lot to say, and the story I’m ultimately trying to tell has lots of details. It’s just that my mind doesn’t work as well as it used to and it’s hard to make connections. Disjointed, I suppose is the best description of my cache of memories. I’ll get there though. I’m persistent and stubborn and I refuse to give up.

So we are in December, folks! Did you know? Which means Christmas and time with family, and snow. We’ve purchased all our gifts for the kids via mail order (hello Amazon Prime!), and I believe most of them have arrived, so I think I might wrap them up early so I don’t feel like I have to rush to do it at the last minute. Plus I love the look of wrapped presents. We tried not to go overboard with the kids this year, but I’m still excited for Christmas morning. We all understand and recognize that Christmas is all about celebrating Jesus, but we are still human and enjoy seeing our kids light up when they open their presents. I kind of feel like God has a similar sense of joy when He gives us good gifts. Maybe. I’ll have to ask Him some day.

What else? I’ve still been baking cookies. It’s been a lot of fun to get that love back, and I have a lot of people around who love cookies and can appreciate them. I’m a one trick pony with the chocolate chip though. I tried to make something else and it totally flopped. Tasted fine, but didn’t set up like they were supposed to. So, kind of a literal flop. But I suppose cookies don’t really have to look good as long as they taste amazing, right? It’s all about the flavor. I’ve got that awesome vanilla from Mexico and dark chocolate chips so I’m due for another batch or three in the next few days. Come on over! I’ll make cookies and coffee!

Rainy days

It’s raining today. Storming, actually. It’s been awhile since we had a thunderstorm during the day like this. We’ve had a couple overnight, but those are no fun because I can’t hear the thunder. I don’t wear my cochlear implants overnight. Usually my daughter tells me all about the storms the next day because though she usually sleeps soundly, she is sensitive to the noise. That and she worries about lightning striking and all that. So it makes for rough nights for her, while I secretly envy that she can hear the thunder.

So. Today’s storm is nice. It’s dark and cloudy though, which makes me want to go back to bed (which I did) and stay in my pajamas all day (which I am). I’m also roasting a butternut squash to make soup, so the house smells like autumn. My sister and I have our annual retreat to the monastery this weekend, and this year we decided against planning an elaborate menu and instead are each bringing a homemade soup. We think between soup, salad, and snacks, we should be set for the weekend.

My plan for this year’s retreat is to get a big head start on my book. I want to read through the past five years of journals in order to get an outline or map of sorts of what I’m going to say. That’s a giant task and not something I feel like I can do sufficiently while I’m here at home. Distractions and all. I am very easily distracted.

I still feel like I have this nagging voice that tells me I can’t write a book, not one worth publishing anyhow. That voice I need to just keep telling to shut up. Lots of people less qualified than me have written books so I have no reason to believe that voice.

What else is going on? I started leading Financial Peace University this week for my church. We have a small group but it happens to be very diverse. People from every walk of life. Newlyweds, single, married with kids, empty nesters. It should make for some really interesting discussions as the weeks go on. I’m very excited to be doing this class. For one thing, I needed the refresher, for sure. But also it just feels good to be able to give back and serve God in an area I feel like He’s given me a passion for. I was a ball of nerves this first week, because my vision loss and difficulty hearing still give me great social anxiety, but everyone was extremely understanding and gracious. I’m confident it’s going to be a life-changing class for everyone.

Speaking of social anxiety, I’m also in a women’s weekly Bible study and yesterday was my first time going. I attended last year and loved it so much, I’m doing it again. However, I had a lot of trouble hearing people in the discussions as well as reading the materials they hand out every week. There’s not a whole lot I can do about the discussion because you can’t expect to completely retrain people to speak a different way just for that one hour a week, so I’m learning this is an area I have to accept not being able to hear everything. I just have to accept and be thankful for the words I CAN hear.

As for the lesson handouts, I had been scanning them into pdfs every week so that I could read them in high contrast on my computer or tablet. That was kind of a pain, but it worked well. It only occurred to me after the class had ended that I should have been scanning my answers to the questions as well, because every week I would get to class and struggle to read my answers during the class discussion. This year I am super excited because they offer the lessons and questions in pdf format, so I don’t have to do all the scanning! It may be hard for others to understand my level of joy here, because until you’re faced with the daily difficulty in seeing and hearing things, you just can’t imagine it. I know it’s something I took for granted, for sure. If you are reading this and you have fully functioning eyes and ears, will you please just take a moment to thank the Lord? Because not everybody has that luxury. It’s so hard, people. Not impossible, just hard.

Well, my squash is roasted so I need to go saute some shallots and garlic and get the soup assembled. After that perhaps I’ll do some crocheting. I’m on my third of thirteen afghans for each of the nieces and nephews. A perfect rainy day activity, wouldn’t you say?

Sleep

I sleep pretty well these days. I don’t have the burden of sound that most people have. I never have to worry about being woken in the middle of the night by the dog barking at a neighbor heading off to work the third shift, or a thunderstorm passing through. I don’t even have to worry about my husband’s snoring anymore, though I had been married long enough when I lost my hearing, and I had already learned to sleep through it.

My kids started school today. My son started middle school, which starts earlier than the elementary school does, and is located quite a bit further away from our house. Those two factors mean the school bus comes a full hour and a half earlier than his younger sister’s bus. It makes for an early morning, but it went surprisingly well today! I woke up at 5:30 to give myself time to brew my coffee and wake up a little before waking him up (He had set an alarm but slept right through it, as I had expected he would).

Y’all, I was really dreading 5:30 am but I woke this morning feeling surprisingly rested. I checked the sleeping log that connects to my watch and it said I went to bed at 11 pm and had over 3 hours of deep sleep. Six and a half hours of sleep, 3 of it deep sleep. This really surprised me because I generally sleep a full 8 hours or more and get almost 3 hours of sleep. So getting more sleep apparently wasn’t really helping me? I guess it’s all about quality, not quantity, because I had a full, busy day today and did not feel the overwhelming urge to nap. I survived an entire day that started at 5:30 am with NO NAP. What?!?! I don’t know if this is a fluke or what, so I’m going to see if I can keep it up, going to bed at 11 and getting up at 5:30.

I have to say, I really enjoyed 5:30. It was super peaceful in the house, and I was able to wake up at my speed (i.e. slow as molasses). I read my devotional, and just eased into the day. It was really nice. It was just me and my coffee, and Jesus. I’m looking forward to tomorrow morning!