I didn’t know we were family

It’s been a rough year around here. And those of you who follow me (thank you so much!), I’m sure you’ve noticed I haven’t been posting nearly as often as I used to. This last year my emotions have been so raw it’s hard to write and on top of that I am extremely empathetic. If you hurt, I hurt. Even if I don’t know you and I see you cry, it’s a safe bet I’ll be crying, too.

A few weeks ago, Facebook came out with a new feature. It wasn’t the thumbs down button we have all been asking for, but it was five (I think) different choices on top of the “like” button. And I am a child of the 90s, I am (on the upper edge) in the generation that was just young enough to get Facebook and MySpace and live journal (if you know how I can get my hands on my live journal these days I’d love to have those words!), but old enough to not ruin my life on social media.

All of these extra options on Facebook seemed so silly to me when they came out. All we asked for was a thumbs down. And I’m old enough, I don’t even know what all those faces stand for. I know that there is a heart for love (over like?) and a laughing out loud one and a sad one. I’m not sure what the other faces are for.

That sad face. The one with the tears and when you press on it, it says sad. That is the face I have used the most these last few days. Well, let’s be honest. These last 24 hours have been the saddest. I can’t even count the times I’ve pressed that sad face today.

We all love in groups. You have those closest to you and then like a ripple when you through a stone in the water your love expands. And you love every ripple, but maybe you love that first ripple more than the fifth or maybe you love all those ripples and can’t even tell the difference between them. I have always known who is in my first ripple. My first ripple is full of all the people who cried with me when Grandpa John died. It is family and friends who should be family.

That first ripple is all I did (could) focus on when Grandpa died. Those were the people who hurt with me. Those were the people who understood what he meant to me. Those were the ones that clung to me as I grieved.

Today I learned about the other rings. Those people who joked around with me. Those people who bought me a drink when we were hanging out. Those people who served me a drink or two too many and then walked me home because they love me and need me to be safe, and I’m safe with them.  Those people who get a kick out of me when I’m not at my best. Those people who aren’t blood but are better and closer to me than some that are blood.

Today we lost a mother. And while I am so close with her husband and son (they are some of my favorite people), I am not blood. And maybe it sounds bad to say, but before today I didn’t know we were family. I didn’t know how much I loved them. I didn’t know how much they meant to me and how much their pain would hurt me.

Oh my goodness. That’s not what I meant. Or maybe it is. I have this group of people, and I have known for a long time that I love them. What I didn’t know before today was how much I loved them. I always thought it was like anyone loves their friends, (although I have little experience with this as well. I have one forever friend (I’m looking at you, Cassidy!). And then today, my friends lost their mother, I thought they were fifth ripple friends, and then I learned they really are first or second ripple friends.

Now, biologically she was only the mother to one of my friends. However, by love she was the mother to most of the people who I am friends with today. I think of that group of kids that were around when I was young. They called my mom Ratmom because there were so many that loved her. Shirley was the Ratmom of my new group of friends.

There are people who lost their mom young, there are people who never knew their mom, there are people whose mom just gave up on them. And Shirley was there for all of them. It didn’t matter if you needed a mom as a child or as an adult, Shirley would be your mom. It didn’t even matter if you thought you didn’t need a mom. If Shirley thought you needed a mom, you got one in her.  And tonight, so many more than she birthed are mourning the loss of their mom.

Tonight I had the chance to look at all these “kids” in a different light. This is my family. I didn’t know before tonight how much I loved every single one of these people. We all come from different places and backgrounds, but when you put us all in the same room, you can’t tell a difference. This is family.

Maybe in this family, I am the third cousin twice removed. But I’m still family. And they are still family. And I would do anything to keep them from the pain they are feeling tonight. But what I can do is laugh with them, and cry with them. We can tell stories and talk nonsense. We will come up with a plan to take care of Dad (this is so familiar and again I am so grateful Grandma has us to ground her).

It seems so silly, but I didn’t know this was family until today. I had no idea how much I loved these people until the pain was knocking on our door. When we (because I know my husband feels it more than I do) say, “is there anything we can do?” What we mean is, cry on our shoulder. Let us buy you a beer. Just know we hurt so much and aren’t blood but wish there was anything we could do. And then remember that the one thing I knew about Shirley was that blood didn’t matter at all.

Those that are family, those that love us, those that we love, remember that every tear you cry, we cry with you. We feel every pain. And maybe it doesn’t make your pain less, but where she is now, there is no pain.

The God of All Comfort

This morning I was up with the sun, which is extremely unusual. I laid in bed and watch the sun begin to peek through the skylight in our bedroom. I wanted to be asleep, but the more I tried to fall asleep the less restful it became so I finally just gave in and got up.

I spent the sunrise out on the deck with my coffee and my bible and my God. I needed comfort and strength, and I know God knows what I need so I decided I’d just open my bible and read whatever I opened on. I found myself at the beginning of 2 Corinthians. And do you know what that book of the bible starts out talking about?

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

In those two verses, Paul uses the word comfort five times. He describes God as the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. How true is that? All of my comfort comes from my God.

He knows what I need and provides it for me. He knows every tear I have cried and all the ones I’ve held in. He knows when I am broken-hearted and hurts with me. He knows. And He gives me mercy and comfort.

I know that no matter what happens today, one day there will be no sickness and no pain and no more tears. One day, those who love Jesus will be together again with Him, and there will be no heartache and no tears. There will only be joy. One day it won’t matter how broken our bodies become on this earth because one day they will all be healed.

And while I may have tears today, knowing all this does give me comfort. All that we are going through right now is just a small blip in the big plan of God that leads us to Him. And His plan is so good.

And while we are just a small part in His big plan, I know that God cares that we are hurting right now. He feels our pain and knows our sorrows. He loves us more than anyone ever could, more than any of us can imagine. He wipes every tear from my face and holds me in His arms and lets me know that, in the end, everything will be good.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

What a pain in my…foot

Wednesday afternoon I fell down the one step we have in our house. I tripped over air and hit the ground hard. And of course where I landed is the one spot that is cement covered by a thin layer of carpet.

I screamed as I hit the ground in an amazing amount of pain. With 2crazylittleboys, I try very hard to not make noise when I get hurt as I don’t want to scare them. Wednesday there was no controlling the screams. They both came running and my phone started ringing. (amazingly I didn’t drop it when I fell.)

My mom was on the phone. To the boys I said I was fine. To my mom I said I was hurt. I tried to move and every movement cause pain to shoot through my body. I reassured my mom that my foot wasn’t broken. The boys ran to get stuff to help. The oldest came back with a cut off leg from a pair of panty hose. The youngest had a soaking wet kitchen towel. My mom offered to come and hide my house slippers if I had been wearing them (I wasn’t).

As you can imagine, none of their ideas helped. I got off the phone, asked the boys to put the wet towel in the sink and tried to figure out how to get off the floor. I considered just lying there for the next hour until my husband got home. I eventually got myself standing and hobbled the six feet to the nearest chair. Once sitting I was able to look at my foot. I already had a lump and it was turning black and blue.

Now the boys were in full help mom mode. They got me pillows to prop my foot up. They made me an ice pack and wrapped it in a towel. They really wanted me to put the piece of panty hose on it. They finished picking up their toys while I sat in the chair planning out my next move.

I had to use the bathroom. It might as well have been a mile away than just through the living room and around the corner. I cried on my walk there and back. I spent the rest of the evening sitting around, using ice and trying not to holler every time my foot got bumped. Eventually I climbed into bed and tried to sleep. It wasn’t easy but I did manage to get some sleep.

Yesterday when I woke up, I didn’t move right away and felt okay. I thought maybe my foot was getting better. It looked terrible. The lump had spread to the whole foot being swollen and it was all a lovely blue color. My positive outlook lasted until I set my foot on the floor and tried to stand up. Wow. The pain was back and even worse.

I lasted through the morning do very little but icing my foot and resting. The boys were amazingly helpful. They got their own drinks and snacks. They played nicely together. They read books together.

By lunch I decided that my foot was probably broken. It was starting to hurt all the time whether I was putting pressure on it or not. I knew if I went over to the ER (which is just a block away) they would just refer me to another doctor so I decided to skip that part. I set up the appointment for that afternoon and then started making calls to find someone to keep the boys.

I found a friend who was willing to come to the house and watch the boys, but that led me to my next problem. How was I going to get to the doctor?  I hobbled out to the garage to see if I could back the truck down the driveway. Success! Driving was much easier than walking.

I made it to the doctor’s office where I filled out a ridiculous amount of paperwork, was weighed (stupid lying machine), and had my blood pressure taken. I wanted to laugh when the nurse told me my blood pressure was good because it was actually high for me (but normal for a regular person). Doctors make me nervous and I was in pain. She probably thought my pulse was good, too, even though my heart was racing.

Finally I had three X-rays taken and the doctor came in. She asked some questions and then started messing with my foot. I believe she wanted to play the game “how hard can I press the spot that hurts before I get kicked in the face.” Once she completed the game (no, I didn’t kick her.), she started looking at the X-rays on her computer. She’d make them bigger and then smaller and then bigger again.

Finally she told me my foot was definitely broken, but she needed to go look at the actual X-rays to double-check where the break was. Apparently I broke the worst bone to break in your foot. She told me that depending on where the break was it could disrupt blood flow to my toes and I could need surgery.

I’m not sure I can describe how hard I prayed while the doctor was off looking at the X-rays.

After what felt like forever, she came back and told me the break was okay and I wouldn’t need surgery. (Thank you, Lord!) I then got fitted for an air cast and a pair of crutches. The cast can come off only when I shower. If someone has any ideas on how I can stand long enough to wash my very long hair in the shower or how I can get out of the tub if I take a bath I’m looking for suggestions.

The drive home was ridiculous. With a couple extra inches added to my right foot, it was very hard to press on the gas. I did make it safely home but irritated the drivers behind me as I traveled much slower than they wanted to.

Once home, the boys thought the crutches were the coolest thing they’d ever seen. I made it through the evening mostly sitting and trying to figure out the most comfortable way to have an air cast on. For the record, there is no comfortable way. My foot ached. My toes had started to hurt. And then my very loving husband said, “wait until it starts itching.” which it immediately did. I may have threatened to hit him with my crutches.

Finally I got in bed. With my foot held firmly in an awkward position, I wasn’t sure I’d ever fall asleep. I posted on my personal Facebook page that my friends should put on one winter boot, add a ten pound weight to it, toss a couple of tacks in the bottom and then they might understand how I was feeling.

I did manage to get some sleep. Not enough and not good but some sleep nonetheless. And that leads us to today.

I’ve made it through day one of my four to six weeks of healing. I’ve had to use the crutches a lot today just being in the house. The pain has been intense today. We are trapped in the house because it’s chilly outside, and even if I could drive, where would we go that would require little to no walking? All of that equals 2grouchylittleboys. (To their credit the grouchyness has come in short bursts and they are trying to be helpful.)

I’m sure it will get easier. I’m sure there will be good days and bad. Eventually, I will be able to move around better, and we will be able to leave the house. How amazing is God that when bones break with time they will fuse back together? How amazing is God that if my break was one centimeter either direction I would have needed surgery?

Cast

Sometimes God’s Blessings Really Do Come Through Rain Drops

Laura Story’s song Blessings has given me some new perspective. It’s an important way to look at some of the things that happen to us and around us. I really felt led to it. I heard it for the first time a couple Saturdays ago and thought it would be a great song for our Worship Wednesdays. The next morning, it was one of the songs we sang at church.

Blessings

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way to much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if the trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough

And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if the trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
It the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if the trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

 

 

What a way to look at life! I can look back on my life and see so many times where, if God had answered my prayer with a yes or given me what I asked for I would not have the blessings I have today. Had I not had the heartache years ago, I would not have the amazing husband and crazy little boys I have today.

We went on vacation for the holiday weekend. Most of our electronic devices use the same charger, but my husband’s phone uses a different one. Both chargers were packed, and his was seen by both of us, not only before we left, but once we arrived at the campground. Somewhere between the car and the camper, his charger disappeared. We didn’t realize it was gone until his phone was dead. It was very frustrating to us that we couldn’t find it.

It was later that we realized what a blessing that missing cord was to us. Things happened that would have angered and frustrated both of us and taken away from the fun and family time we were having with our 2crazylittleboys. It was nothing that couldn’t wait and things we had to eventually deal with, but God blessed us with that night without frustration. (Although it would be nice to have that cord back now.)

I look at the illness and pain I’ve had and at the time I wondered why I was suffering, but now I have an amazing story to tell. Look at my oldest and how much he went through at birth. That hardship has blessed us with so much. We didn’t know until he was four that he had hearing loss, which was so heartbreaking to learn (more to learn so late than the loss in general), but because he had trouble hearing, he has learned to pay attention to the smallest of details.

There are times in all our lives where God loves us so much He just says no. There’s are those times of such darkness when we think God is so far away and He is just loving us and setting us up for so much more. He’s loving us through the hurt and pain and frustration straight into something so much more.

Look at what you are going through right now. Look at the hardships and heartaches of your past. Where have they led you? Where are you going? What if His blessings are coming through your tears?

I talk about God’s plan a lot. This song is just another reminder that His plan is bigger and better than ours. And while we may not be able to see the road ahead, know that He is using this time in your life for His betterment and yours.

You can find all of the Worship Wednesdays posts here.

Jesus is hurting with you Part 2

In my last post, I talked about emotional pain and how Jesus not only experienced those same hurts, He is experiencing them now with you. So now lets talk about physical hurts.

Jesus knows about physical pains. Matthew 27:29-30, “When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head…Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head.” He was beaten and whipped. He was nailed to a cross. He died a horrible death. Jesus knows about pain.

Along with the hurts that Jesus himself experienced, Jesus was also surrounded by people with hurts. The sick, the injured, the weak, the blind, the deaf, the mute, the lame, the lepers. Matthew 15:30 says, “Then great multitudes came to Him having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’s feet, and He healed them.”

Jesus saw the hurts in the people around Him. And through their faith He made them whole. Jesus felt His own physical hurts, and then rose above them and conquered death to make us all whole for all eternity with God.

A fake brain what?

In 2000, I was diagnosed with an, let’s call it, interesting condition. Its scientific name is Pseudotumor Cerebri. Basically it’s a fake brain tumor. Yep, fake, nonexistent, not really there, you get the point. It is an incurable disease that comes on with little to no warning. So at any point my body could start reacting as if I have a brain tumor. Obviously this is not a common disease and those of you who know me in real life may not even know about it.

My first symptoms were extreme dizziness and trouble with my vision (which could best be described as sunspots all the time only in funny shapes. I had elephant shadows dancing in my vision most often.). I had CAT scans and MRIs and was treated for a number of things including ear infections before a doctor figured it out and sent me to a specialist.

Pseudotumor Cerebri makes your body believe you have a brain tumor, and then your body begins to fight against a tumor that isn’t there. Your optic nerves begin to swell (which cause the vision problems and can even lead to blindness) and it puts increased pressure on your brain (causing migraine like headaches and other pains).

I had a spinal tap to measure intracranial pressure (ICP). It is measured in millimeters and normal is 7-15. I don’t remember what mine was that first time, but it was very high. I had vision tests and learned that the blind spot in my vision is twice the size of a person with normal vision (although not big enough to affect my everyday vision.)

I was put on medication that made all food taste bad (great weight loss plan). I went through a time of deep depression where I was extremely lethargic (which I don’t actually remember but have heard stories from). And eventually the symptoms just went away. We called it remission because there isn’t a cure and the symptoms can come back at any time.

In 2004, shortly after we were married, my husband got to experience first hand the “fun” of Pseudotumor when my symptoms came back. I found a new eye doctor who then sent me to a Neurologist. I had another spinal tap. That time my ICP measured at 36 mm (again normal is 7-15). More pills and less depression later, I was in remission again.

Remission didn’t last as long that time. In 2006, around the same time as my second miscarriage, my Pseudotumor reared its ugly head again. Although I couldn’t get a doctor to say it, I knew in my heart the two were related. Weight gain and hormonal changes can bring the disease on, and when your body starts fighting a war, it fights everything.

Not only had I just been through another miscarriage, I was alone when the symptoms came back worse than they had ever been before. My husband was away on business and my parents and grandparents were in the Caribbean on a cruise. I could barely see because of the fog in my vision and the pain was unlike anything I had felt before. It wasn’t only a headache. This time the pain was in my neck, back and shoulders to the point where it hurt to move.

I laid on the couch and cried. I cried out to God. And finally I managed to get my phone with the hope that my mom would be somewhere that had cell service. Looking back, I’m not sure the exact order of everything that happened next. I do know that eventually I got ahold of my mom, and she then called my cousin who came over, took care of me and took me to the doctor.

Later my doctor said that he didn’t know how I was able to stand, let alone walk that time. With that much pressure on your brain, you shouldn’t be able to function.

Jesus is still healing the sick

Eventually my symptoms started to calm down again. There were so many people praying for me. There were churches that I didn’t attend praying for me. And I know that God hears and answers prayer.

It was my mom who said to me that maybe we were praying for the wrong thing. Maybe instead of me getting better, we should be praying for my healing.

That thought caught me off guard.

There were two parts to it. The first part is to only pray for things you believe can happen. If I didn’t believe that God would/could heal me, then there would be no reason to pray for it. Did I truly believe that God would heal me? Not just make me well but rid my body of this incurable disease.

The second part is knowing that sometimes God doesn’t answer prayer the way we want Him to. Sometimes He answers with a no. I know He has a plan that I can’t see and sometimes the answers don’t make sense at the time.

That may have been the day that I changed the way that I pray, the day that I started to be more exact and more aware of my words. We started to pray for healing over just being better.

I can’t tell you what God’s big plan for me is, and I can’t tell you the reason any of this happened. What I can tell you is that I haven’t had another episode since September 2006, and I absolutely believe that God healed me.

Today I have no problems with my vision. Today I rarely get headaches. Today I have 2 crazy little boys. Today I am healed.

I don’t know why some people are healed and some are not. I don’t know why some people struggle with pain and hurt every day and some do not. What I do know is that God has a plan bigger than you and me.

And someday all who believe that Jesus is the Christ will be hurt and pain free.

Jesus is hurting with you

Last week I was sitting on my porch watching 2 crazy little boys race their big wheels up and down the drive. I was wanting to write, but I didn’t have a topic so I pulled out my Bible. Before I started to read, I prayed that God would lead me to the right words and that I would write what He wanted me to.

I started at the beginning of Matthew and read through the Sermon on the Mount. Then the wind picked up and began flipping the pages of my Bible backwards towards what I had already read. I know that God works in ways I can’t begin to understand, and I know that He controls the wind, so I just let the pages move.

The pages flipped slowly. At any time I could have stopped them, but I let them go. Finally, they stopped flipping, and my Bible was open to the introduction to Matthew. The Bible I use the most is a study Bible written in New King James Version. Across from the introduction is a study page all about hurting.

And just like that I knew what I was supposed to share with you.

There are so many different kinds of hurts. There are emotional hurts. The pain of loss, depression, disappointment, heartbreak. During times of emotional hurt it can be hard to see God. You can feel so alone. And then there are physical hurts, the brokenness of the body, the pains that may seem to be never-ending (or may even actually be never-ending.) It’s a place where it can feel like God has abandoned you to your physical pains.
 

Emotional hurts

 

When we first started talking about having kids, it was an exciting time. I had always wanted to be a mom. It was the only real career goal I ever had. And in no time at all, I was pregnant. I’m not sure I can accurately describe the complete joy I felt. Or the absolute devastation I felt a couple of weeks later when I miscarried. And how it was even higher joy and lower devastation a few months later when it happened again.

Those were some dark times in my life. Even though I was surrounded by friends and family who loved me, I felt alone. Even though they were hurting too, I felt alone in my pain. There are several months that I have almost no memory from.

But the reality is that I was never alone in my hurts. Besides the friends and family that were hurting, Jesus was hurting with me.

 

Jesus hurts with you

 

He knows what it’s like to lose someone you love. He knows the hurt of betrayal. He knows the hurt of abandonment. He knows the hurt of being falsely accused of something. Whatever your hurt, you can know that Jesus has been there.

One of the shortest verses in the Bible has been on my heart a lot the last couple of weeks. John 11:35 “Jesus wept.” If you start at the beginning of John 11, it tells the story of the death of Lazarus. He was a friend of Jesus, and even though Jesus could (and did) bring Lazarus back to life, He still wept over the death of His friend.

John 11:14-15, “Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe.'” Jesus didn’t have to experience the pain of loss, but He did so that not only the disciples but all of us would believe, so we would know that we are not alone. You weep as Jesus wept. Your pain is Jesus’s pain. Your sorrow is His sorrow.

 

Hope

 

Hope is an amazing thing. Hope lessens the hurt.  And not only do we have the hope that tomorrow will be better, that the pain will hurt less, we have the hope of eternity with Jesus in Heaven. In John 14:2, Jesus tells that He is going to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house.

Revelation 21:4 tells us what Heaven will be like, saying, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Someday there will be no pain.

I don’t know what your pain is, and I don’t need to know. What I do know is that you are not alone in your pain. Jesus felt the same pain all those years ago, and He feels them today with you.

Some hurts you never get over. The hurt may lessen, but some hurts last a lifetime. But know, if you believe and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, whatever your hurt is today, it is only temporary.

Jesus conquered the grave so we may have eternity with Him where there is no pain, no hurt, no tears and no suffering.

Someday there will be only joy.

True joy.