Category Archives: Faith

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.

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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!

Running out of gas

I think this week I’ve been approaching a wall. Lately I’ve been doing really well, energy wise, but this week I’ve noticed myself dragging quite a bit more. I am not the Energizer Bunny. Monday I slept until 11:11. That’s about 4 hours later than usual. Every day I debate whether to push myself or to take the hint and rest. I feel like I’ve found an okay balance between the two options, but I still have that nagging feeling that I need a major reset. Each night I go to bed hoping that night’s sleep will be the reset button. Maybe tonight! We’ll see.

Oh! I’m running a fun 5k on Friday night. It’s not chip timed, so it’s not exactly competitive. However, everyone will have squirt guns so it should be fun. I’m a smidge nervous because I won’t be able to wear my cochlear implants, but I’ll be running with a friend so I’ll have her to keep an eye out for me in case anyone is shouting at me to move aside or something.

I’m still seeing a counselor for my anxiety and she’s still really helping me. I don’t go as frequently now but I still have her suggestions to take with me throughout each day, and I’m constantly analyzing my inner thoughts to retrace how I got to each state of anxiety, and that’s actually really helping. I tell myself a lot of lies, apparently. So it’s good to be working that out. I’m taking every thought captive, just like that Bible verse in 2 Corinthians. Make each thought obedient to Christ, as in make sure it’s truth!

I am making a LOT of new friends at our church, and that’s been exciting. It’s nerve-wracking at first, because it feels scary to put myself out there and introduce myself to new people who didn’t know me prior to my hearing and vision loss. It doesn’t help that I keep introducing myself to people I’ve already met. The handful of people I’ve done that with don’t seem to mind. They just smile, shake my hand and say “we’ve already met, but that’s ok!” I’m leading a Financial Peace University class in September so I’ll have even more opportunities to re-introduce myself to people! Keeps life interesting, I guess.

Summer is half over, I know, but I’m just now getting the hang of it, I believe. We have a couple trips planned in the next month or so, stuff the kids can look forward to, but with enough down time in between to recover from all the fun we’ll be having. And then before you know it the kids will be back in school. Our son is starting middle school this year so he’ll be on an earlier schedule than his sister. He’ll have to be at the bus stop by 6:30, so we’ll have to get him used to waking up super early. I have been joking with him that he’s on his own here, that no way I’m getting up that early, but we all know I am too much of a control freak to let him fly without any supervision. So I’ll have to start getting used to being up early, if only to supervise for awhile.

Well, I have CrossFit in the morning so I need to sign off for now. Good night bloggy people!

Every day.

This is just a theory, but maybe God does His best work in us when we stop trying so hard. When we decide to take a moment or two every day to sit and listen, and ask for his help. Every day. Over and over and over. Now, we do lots of things on a daily basis – brush our teeth, go to work, do laundry, wash dishes – and we don’t think about it. We just do it. Because it’s important. So why does spending time with our creator and savior seem so difficult sometimes? I’ll never know the answer to that, but dang it I’m gonna keep at it. Because I need Him. Like the air I breathe, I need Jesus. Every day, all day.