Monday, January 25, 2016

The Long Way Around

I'm reading through the Bible again this year or at least trying to do it.  So I'm starting in Genesis again which is good because our church is about to go on a year long study of the book.

But I've passed through Genesis already and have gotten into Exodus which is the story of the people of Israel being let go from Pharoah's grasp of slavery and setting out into the journey that God is taking them to His promised land for them.

It seems like my blog posts about Scripture are always stating the obvious but I guess I'm just a slow learner.  Before getting into chapter 13 of Exodus where the people of Israel are about to set off on their journey my Daily Walk Bible has this to say in preface:

"Insight Taking the  Scenic Route--Israel's God and Guide (in the form of a cloudy pillar) steered the travelers away from the most direct route to Canaan for at least two reasons: (1) to avoid certain warfare, and (2) to take Israel to the mountain of God(3:12). The nation needed to learn to walk with God before learning to fight for God."

Now I KNOW that I've read this before because I've used this study Bible for many years.  But, this year it really hit me between the eyes.  It has felt like my life this past year has been taking the long way around to the destination where I've wanted to arrive.  But God knows best how to get me where I'm going. Maybe you, like me, have taken a route recently that seemed like it was unending and indirect to the destination you had in mind.   

But now I'm seeing that perhaps God needs me to learn to walk more closely with Him before I can fight for Him.  The Old Testament may seem to you like just a lot of stories about the Jewish people before the coming of Jesus changed it all.  God intended for the Bible to be an all encompassing story of His plan of salvation for all of us.  Everything in the Old Testament points to something in the New Testament.  It's like a fascinating novel except it is all true and more real than anything we could come up with on our own.

I'm looking forward to learning how to walk with God so that I can fight for Him.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas 2015

Here is a little tour of my home at Christmas time.   Can't show the basement after another episode of flooding over the weekend. 

Breakfast nook

Breakfast nook from another angle

This is a lovely gift from my sisters in law.

Two little friends flanking some greenery from my yard.

My Christmas village.

Gathering room.

Main tree.

Dining room.

Second floor tree.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ready to Say Goodbye to 2015

For a while now I've been jokingly (but not totally joking) calling this past year "the year of many bad things".

Between big things 1)our son being in the hospital for close to 6 months and almost dying and then living with us for another 4 months  2) our basement getting flooded while we were away living in KC at the hospital and getting mold and said mold getting remediated  along with new walls, flooring, etc 3) several major appliances and other large items going kaput and needing replaced and just the small things of being exhausted and having to keep up with regular life--it's been quite a year. (As I'm writing this my brand new dishwasher is getting a new drain hose after it blew a hole last week and it has been a long week without it). Oh, and my phone stopped working yesterday too.  Waiting for a replacement to be delivered today as well.  :)

So you can imagine that 2016 is looking really, really good right now to me.

This week I'm getting ready to host our Polson extended family Christmas at my house and I can honestly say that things are more organized and eventually will be cleaner than I could have imagined due to all of the work being done this year.  Part of that is because I went on an organizing kick while my dining room and one of the upstairs bedrooms were filled with medical stuff and a patient.  When you can't do one thing, you CAN do another thing.

We are cutting back on how many gifts we give our kids this year and only giving them each 3 things:  something they want, something they need, and something unexpected.  So far I have more shopping done (online shopping rocks!) than I had anticipated so I'm very grateful for that.  

The one that I'm not supposed to talk about has moved back to his own home as of 4 days ago and I no longer have to get up at 5 a.m. to face performing a really high pressure medical treatment nor do I have to do it before bed at night.  I have to say that normal feels really easy.  

Life is not perfect here.  But it is getting better and now I need to work on some other areas of my life that I have been neglecting.  None of us knows what the future holds.  2016 could be worse than 2015 but I'm not going to think that way.  

Philippians 3:13-14Living Bible (TLB)

13 No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.
Living Bible (TLB)

I hope as you are anticipating the celebration of the birth of Christ on Christmas you will remember that He came so we COULD say goodbye to the past and embrace the future.

So let us feast upon him and grow strong in the Christian life, leaving entirely behind us the cancerous old life with all its hatreds and wickedness. Let us feast instead upon the pure bread of honor and sincerity and truth.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

"A Better Broken"

As I write this post, I am crying.  I'm crying tears of hope because I just finished reading a book that I should have finished a couple weeks ago, or whenever it was I got it, but I just finished right now.

I'm also crying because I'm so broken by all the events and circumstances of my life for the past 10 months as well as the last 24 hours.  If you follow me on social media you know that yesterday my son got his last drain removed which brought us inexpressible joy and relief.  I walked out of that hospital with so much weight of life taken off my shoulders and I can't imagine how much my son felt with that weight removed.

But before we even got home we got a phone call which let us know that our journey wasn't quite over.  I won't go into it here because it is just an asterisk  on top of our whole journey thus far.  We will get through it.  Together, we will get through it.

But the book, yes, about the book.

This isn't truly a book review but more like a book recommendation.  As I said, I started reading the book When God Doesn't Fix It by Laura Story a couple weeks ago.  Laura's music is a favorite of mine and I've written about her before here.  So I got the book for several reasons-- among them that I love her music, I knew a bit of her story, and the title describes my life perfectly during this season.  

So I devoured the first 3/4 of the book quickly and for a reason I couldn't put my finger on I just didn't pick it up and finish it until yesterday.

 God is SO good.  Because the part of the book I've read since yesterday has really been just what I needed in this 24 hour period.  

In Chapter 19,  Laura writes about "A Better Broken" which speaks to me so deeply in my heart I cannot even express it here.  Over the last many months I have been trudging through the sand of my own brokenness and feeling like it would never be resolved.  It probably won't.  That should be really awful news.  But reading the last several chapters of Laura's book made me realize that there is a purpose in my brokenness.  Of course I already knew that, but it kind of needs reinforcing daily to remember it.

She talks about the apostle Paul and how God dealt with his "thorn in the flesh" about which we are never told specifically what the source was in his life.   On page 267 she writes that God told Paul 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."(2 Corinthians 12:9).  Her response is this:

"It's an astonishing answer. God said to Paul, and therefore , perhaps to all of us, 'I'm going to leave your brokenness there, and I'm not going to fix it, because my grace is enough for you. Not  only that, but my power is perfected when you can't do anything to get rid of it yourself.'
page 267, When God Doesn't Fix It,   Laura Story

I sort of want to put several more quotes from the book here but I won't.  It is my hope that you will read the book yourself and see how it applies to YOUR brokenness.  Yes.  We are all broken because the world was cursed by sin in the Garden and we are all sinful creatures.  

But God doesn't allow us to live in our brokenness for nothing.  He doesn't PUT brokenness in our lives but it happens because we live in a sin filled world.  But God is a Redeemer, not just of our sins, but of our lives.  He can and will redeem the brokenness in us to "make Him the hero of our stories" as Laura puts it, and to point others to Him.  

Please, please, if you are a human person you need to read this book.  You can get it here and start to see how God can give you a "better broken" when He doesn't fix something that you so desperately want fixed.

Because I love you,

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Faking It

A friend shared this article with me the other day and it really resonated with me. It is called 23 Truths People With Fibromyalgia Wish Others Understood and you can read the whole thing here.  

I always hesitate to talk about my fibromyalgia because, quite frankly, I know that nobody wants to hear about it.  For heaven's sake my own family doesn't even get it.  I've had it for over 20 years and when I am having a bad day I can say "I'm not feeling well today" and they say to me "Oh, what is going on?"  I've learned to just let that pass and not get upset about it because I can't change other people.  And I'll admit here that I can be the same way with other people and their issues.  Nobody really wants to hear us complain about our aches and pains. I get it.  And  I realize that is rich coming from someone who has made it her only topic of discussion for the past almost year to write about someone's health issues.  I guess I figured when it was my kid I got a pass. 

If you actually went and read the link that I posted you read some quotes from actual people suffering from fibromyalgia and they mostly all resonate with me.  But two of them really stood out to me:

3. “It’s always there. Even though I may act ‘normal,’ I still hurt.” — DeJarnett Sharon

6. “You think I’m faking being sick, but really I’m faking being well.” — Becky Buice

These two statements are true for people suffering from many autoimmune diseases so they don't just apply to me.  These two quotes really struck me because not only are we not feeling well but we have to act differently from what we are feeling all the time just so we don't make other people aware of what we are feeling.  Let me tell you, THAT is also exhausting.  

The statement by Becky Buice really hit home with me because I would venture to guess that most everybody I know has no idea that I'm "faking being well" most every day of my life. I'm not saying that to make anyone feel sorry for me, truly.  It's just that you never know what someone is going through.

There are many activities in life that I would love to be a part of to help others and to serve in ways that I probably will never be able to because of how my body feels.  I've learned to know my limitations and am finally learning how to let it go when I feel guilty for not doing something that I really, really want to do for someone.  

It is very possible that any internal voice that I hear telling me that I am a bad person for not signing up for some committee or doing something in my community is just my own guilt and has nothing to do with other people.  But I do wonder sometimes if people just think I am lazy.  I'm not.

I will say that I have felt so much better after changing a diet issue a couple years ago.  But stress is a huge factor in how the body feels with fibromyalgia so right now I've been having a pain and fatigue flare for more than a month.  This year has finally caught up with me now just when things are starting to settle down a bit.  (Our son is still living with us and we are still doing things to take care of him).

I hope that this has been informative for people who have others that they love or know who suffer in silence while they fake being well every day.  Cut them a little slack.  Encourage them to go lie down and rest. Or just say 'I'm sorry you are having a hard time' instead of asking them what is wrong if they say they don't feel well.  

I have a quote up on the cabinet above my desk and it is ascribed to someone but when I look it up there are many people listed who are credited with saying it so I'll just post it without an author:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

Friday, November 6, 2015

Merciful Ignorance

Maybe I am strange, but every once in a while I go back through my social media profile and remind myself of where I have been and where I am now.

It occurred to me that some of my newer friends don't know anything about what has been going on in our lives so I scrolled through the past 10 months to see what others would see.  Reminiscing is truly a good practice to engage in from time to time because it gives us perspective.

When I went all the way back to last February and saw some of the things that I wrote it almost made me laugh because it seemed like we had been dealing with illness for so long at one month, 6 weeks, etc.  It seems a little ridiculous now to say "we've been here at the hospital for a whole month already".  If I had only know what the future would bring.  But thank you Jesus that I did NOT.

As a young person I always wanted to get a little peak into what my future might hold--what job would I have, who would I marry, where would I live, how many children would I have and what would they be like?  Our culture urges us to be always thinking two steps ahead of ourselves so we can keep up with the status quo or be somehow ever more successful than we are in the moment.

But God in His infinite wisdom has graciously given us merciful ignorance for a good reason.

The things we have to deal with in life are so hard and crushing OR so joyful and delightful that our souls could not take it if we had to "plan" for it.

This week Adam's car stopped working, we are finally getting the new floor put down in our basement and I told one of my kids in a conversation that this was "the year of bad things".  How could I have ever dealt with ANY of this year if I had known it was coming.

I truly believe that is one of the reasons God gave us grace.  Grace is what gets us through in the moment.  It is never early but also never late.  It comes just when we need it so that we depend on God to get us through both the good and the bad.

The other incredible reality that I saw when I perused my life over the past 10 months was the amazing support of friends and family.  I laughed and I cried as I reread many of the words of love and support given to me and my family through this very difficult year. There are no words of thanks that could ever be enough but I still say thank you.

None of us knows what tomorrow will bring.  Thank the Lord for merciful ignorance and great friends!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

My One Defense

My one defense, my righteousness

Oh, God, how I need You.

(Copyright 2011 Songs)

This morning I turned to a couple passages in the Bible that our pastor suggested reading throughout this week to bring home the message he had for us last Sunday.  There were many jewels to be mined from them but the words that stood out to me for me this day were GRACE and REST.

Hebrews 3 and 4 are passages about how necessary it is to listen to God's voice TODAY and to not harden your hearts.

"Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, as long as it is called "today," so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God."
Hebrews 3:12,13

Within the passage prior to those verses is a quote from Psalm 95, the other passage he recommended.

"Today you must listen to his voice. Don't harden your hearts against him..."
Hebrews 3:7

It is teaching us to not be like the Israelites who were testing God's patience in the desert as He led them to the Promised Land.  Over and over again it says not to harden our hearts so that we can enter into God's rest.  

"But never forget the warning:  'Today you must listen to his voice. Don't harden your hearts against him as Israel did when they rebelled'."
Hebrews 3:15

Those who didn't harden their hearts entered into God's rest.

"So God's rest is there for people to enter. But those who formerly heard the Good News failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his place of rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David a long time later in the words already quoted:
'Today you must listen to his voice. Don't harden your hearts against him'."
Hebrews 4:6,7

If you know anything about God's Word you know that if God repeats a word or phrase often that it is very important. 

Here's where I found hope.

"This new place of rest was not the land of Canaan, where Joshua led them. If it had been, God would not have spoken later about another day of rest. So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of  God. For all who enter into God's rest will find rest from their labors, just as God rested after creating the world. Let us do our best to enter that place of rest. For anyone who disobeys God, as the people of Israel did, will fall."
Hebrews 4:8-11

Interestingly enough, from here God seemingly goes into another direction:

"For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are. Nothing in all creation can hide from him. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes. This is the God to whom we must explain all that we have done."
Hebrews 4:12-13

I don't know about you, but if everything about me is going to be exposed to God that doesn't feel very restful.  That feels very vulnerable and uncomfortable. Earlier in chapter 4 it says that the Good News is that God has prepared a place of rest.  But being exposed doesn't seem very restful and certainly doesn't seem like good news.  I  can identify with this.  

In this journey we have been on for the past 8 plus months NOTHING has felt restful and everything about us has been exposed.  In our home we are completely real and raw and uncomfortably exposed to one another emotionally.  It is NOT restful.  

This morning I feel completely drained and not very gracious or rested.  But God's warnings from chapter 3 of Hebrews resonate with me.  "Be careful".  "Don't harden your hearts".  "Today you must listen to his voice." 

Then He hits me with that whole cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires and exposing me for who I really am thing and I feel like I want to give up.  

But then there is this:

"That is why we have a great High Priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to him and never stop trusting him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin.

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it."
Hebrews 4:14-16


The words at the beginning of this post are from the song Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher, Jesse, Reeves, Kristian Stanfill, Christy Nockels and Daniel Carson.  The words  "my one defense, my righteousness, Oh, God how I need you" from this song have played over and over again in my mind and heart for many months as I truly needed them.  They are kind of a song picture of these Scriptures from today.  

The only place I can find my rest.  The only place where grace is more than the sin that runs deep in me.  Lord, I need You.