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Wounds hurt, but they don’t define

Been dealing with a lot lately that has been bringing on the pressure and opening a well of old memories I would rather just never come back. Been up most of the night due to a migraine and a 9 year old who just can’t sleep no matter how hard we tried. That means I have had time to think. Watched a couple movies to keep the thinking at bay as long as I could, but decided at some point I just got to let the thoughts flow so I can process and work through them.
 
One of the things that came up strongest was my disabilities and the way life has been forced to change because of them. On the outside, I may look to some like I’ve got this living with disabilities thing down. I may look strong, resilient, tough, full of faith, and ready to laugh off anything this life can throw at me. Sometimes I am those things. Sometimes I am merely attempting to convince myself that I am capable of those things.
 
Reality is that it’s a deep fight within me to keep pushing forward. A lot of prayer, a lot of suppressed tears and anger, and even fear. I refuse to give up, but there are times when I can’t run from reality… where reality instead smacks me a good one in the face. It hurts, but it’s real, and I have a great and loving Father in Heaven that holds me up, or pulls me back up off the ground if need be. He never gives up on me and helps me to not give up on myself. I will be forever grateful for that. Especially after moments like what I faced yesterday. To the outside looking in it was small, probably insignificant. Nothing I haven’t had to say or admit before; no new news to swallow. It still stung though and I fought hard to avoid facing the moment I could see coming from a mile off.
 
Without revealing the personal surrounding details, I basically found myself being faced with someone who was questioning and borderline challenging my commitment to do what needed to be done. My independence, my “work ethic” vs laziness so to speak. She went after my disabled status and finally forced the moment I was trying to avoid when she tried to push once more that I just wasn’t wanting to try and included a comment along the lines of “Why won’t you work? You can’t be disabled 24/7”.
 
It was in that moment that she ripped open one of my most painful wounds. One that has resulted in a lot of trauma, a lot of loss, a lot of change. One that I still can’t look at straight on without tears in my eyes and fire in my heart as the memories flood back to that first time waking up in a foreign hospital in Germany; the last thing I remembered being trying to walk down the hall to greet my husband who was returning home from work. That day was the start of a life changing nightmare of questions, mysterious illness, my body betraying me one system after another with no understandable reason as to why at the time.
 
After a couple of years of fighting, finding answers I didn’t like, trying to pretend I was ok even though we all knew I was only getting worse, and trying to force life to go back to “normal”, I found myself sitting in front of a judge. Sitting there, fighting back the tears and attempting to keep a straight face as I felt my back dislocate and my hip fall out of place, knowing that meant I would not be able to stand up when it was time to do so. Reading the judgement that came in the mail not long after… effectively forcing me out of the workforce for my own good and banning me from returning.
 
All of this and more came flooding into my mind and heart as I heard that woman utter those words… “you can’t be disabled 24/7″… Unfortunately… yes you can. My response to her was that I was forced out of the workforce by a court judge because I am THAT disabled. For her, that was end of that. Conversation took a different turn and she backed off in that area. For me though, the wound of the past is sitting here staring me in the face once again. I need to learn to quit being so fearful of facing it. Like it or not, it’s a part of me now. It doesn’t need to define me though. Thank God in Heaven that it doesn’t need to define me.
 
The world sees me as broken, past my prime, cast off. Being disabled is the end of the line for general society; they don’t tend to look past it well. Once you can’t fit their mold, or do all they think you should, what you still can do doesn’t amount to much in their eyes.   God however tells me I am beautiful, his daughter, a masterpiece in the making, and that I have a future worth being here for. Best of all he promises that He’s got a plan and will not let anything go to waste. Even an old wound that has caused so much damage and changed so much, can be used to help make a beautiful future if it is handed over to God. ❤

New Year, New Hope

Our devotions started with a classic hymn entitled, “It Is Well With My Soul” by Horatio Spafford. (click here to hear it sung by Chris Rice).

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul.”

Though Satan should buffet,
tho’ trials should come,
let this blest assurance control,
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and hath shed His own blood for my soul.

horatio_spafford

picture credit Wikipedia

Those are the first two (of a total of four) verses written by a man who truly understood grief as well as the Lord’s ability to bring peace in the midst of suffering.  Horatio, an American lawyer and Presbyterian church elder in the mid to late 1800’s, wrote these words when the boat he was traveling on, in a trip to meet up with his wife Anna, reached the spot where his daughters lost their lives in the boat trip before him.  Two years after having lost their son, Horatio Jr, to scarlet fever at the tender age of 4 years, Horatio and Anna decided to take a trip to Great Britain with their 4 daughters; Annie (11 ), Maggie (9), Bessie (5), and Tanetta (2).  At the last minute, Horatio was called away to deal with business that couldn’t wait so he sent his family on ahead of him.

The trip was going well for his family until the boat carrying his wife and children collided with another boat off the coast of Ireland.  As the waters started to rise and the boat started to sink, his wife took their daughters to the deck, offered a prayer of trust to God, and then loaded the four precious girls onto a lifeboat.  The mom eventually made it back to land safely only to learn that the lifeboat her daughters were on ran into trouble and sank… She sent word to Horatio who still hadn’t been able to take the trip by way of a simple telegram that read, “Saved alone.”  Overwhelmed with grief he took the next boat available to go meet up with his wife and it was on that trip he penned the words to what would become such a classic and moving hymn.

“Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.”
– Matthew 5:4

After the tragedy, Horatio and Anna lived to have more children, another loss, more travel, and what turned into a life mission to help others in Jerusalem resulting in a God honoring legacy for the family.  (Go here and here to learn more about his story).  God didn’t leave Horatio and his wife drowning in grief; He didn’t let their story end in tragedy.  The beautiful part?  He will do the same for you as well.  God has promised that in all things He will work for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28) and that he will fill us with a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

peace-i-leave-with-you

pic credit Bing search

No matter what you may be struggling with, whether it be stress, loss, heartache, failed dreams, feeling stuck in a rut, death of a cherished family member, death of a friend, painful memories of a loved one lost in the past… God invites us through His son Jesus to rest in Him (Matthew 11:28), and to cast all our cares on His strong and loving shoulders (1 Peter 5:7).  Jesus’s promise to us in John 14:27 states, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  When we claim that peace and let Christ fill our hearts to overflowing, we then are able to find the courage to join Paul in saying,

“…we also rejoice in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces
perseverance; perseverance character; and
character, hope. And hope does not disappoint
us, because God has poured out his love into
our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Whom He has given us.”
(Romans 5:3-5)

Let us move forward into this new year with the strength, confidence, and hope that comes from knowing and trusting in Christ.  Let us not allow the pain and trials we have endured to chain us to state of perpetual sadness but instead cling to Christ as we move forward, trusting Him Who can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20,21) and keep our eyes and hearts open to how God will bless us as we use the comfort we have received to bless and comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3,4).

Snakes and Fences

A friend of mine recently pointed me to a site where I could listen and watch church services on-line from a trusted church. With my memory and distractibility and everything going on, I ended up putting it off at first and then accidentally forgetting about it until I came across my note last night. I’ve watched a couple of the sermons through the night, and they both resonated deeply with me. One was simply encouraging. Powerful encouragement paired with helpful and wise advice. The second was encouraging and helpful too, but in a way that I feel requires more of a committed response out of me than just a prayer of thanks and a simple share telling others to watch. It really hit home on an issue that is so broad yet so personal at the same time; and so important for me and all of us.

One of my favorite parts comes towards the end. To get the full weight of it, you need the whole talk, but it really hit home for me when he chose to wrap it up by talking about Christ on the cross. Especially when he started talking about looking at Christ on the cross and remembering it was our sins that put him there. Not so we would feel guilty or ashamed, but so that we would be reminded that Christ was on that cross, with all our sins, so that He could pay the price for them and offer us freedom and forgiveness. But in order to see, remember, and embrace that message… we first have to admit it applies to us because we’ve screwed up. We have to admit we’re not perfect, that we don’t have it all under control, that we have messed up and have done so often.

We are fence breakers. We have poison in our life from all the snake bites. We even have poison from snake bites that were caused by someone else breaking a fence. But we also have hope and forgiveness. We have grace and healing and a fresh start in Christ. Let us never forget that part. Let us also never take advantage of it.

Please take the time to watch and listen to this sermon, “Snakes and Fences”. It’s pretty powerful truth. ❤

Late Night Thoughts

Life doesn’t come easy for me,
but I still believe in my dreams.
Some people may call it crazy
but I like to stretch beyond my means.

For it’s only when I am spent and done
that God can truly show His strength.
And when He shows up, I know I’ve won
and for that I would go to any length.

Things might not always turn out right,
but they always turn out best.
There are times I feel like giving up the fight,
but then He gives me rest.

Of course His ways are higher than mine,
so I don’t always understand Him.
Sometimes I wish He could send me a sign,
then I realize He’s just waiting for me to read them.

His Word is here right in front of me,
It’s value truly worth more than gold.
When I humble myself and read,
His words help make me whole.

He is drawing me closer year by year
while training my heart to listen.
Day by day He helps melt my fear;
as He teaches me how to trust Him.

Life doesn’t come easy for me,
but I still believe in my dreams.
Some people may call it crazy
but I like to stretch beyond my means.

For it’s only when I am spent and done
that God can truly show His strength.
And when He shows up, I know I’ve won
and for that I would go to any length.

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Defeat is NOT an option!

The experts say I may never walk again with all the neglect and blocked services/equipment I am facing from my insurance company. They say I am too unstable and too weak. They say my determination and strong will won’t be enough this time.

I say, give me a fighting chance and then watch me MAKE it happen by the grace of God. I have to stay strong. I HAVE to hold on to hope. I can’t be defeated.  Defeat is NOT an option!  Too much is at stake.

Battle of the Emotions

girl at windowAs some have noticed, I have fallen incredibly silent since I’ve gone down for the count with my foot surgery.  It may not have been noticed as much over here at the Zebra Chronicles, but the Autism Diary page and our other sites have definitely seen a drastic shift in activity over the last month.  I’ve been battling a slow recovery that keeps taking bad turns, hurtful situations with some extended family, a feeling of defeat and being trapped from being home bound for so long, and trying to juggle continuing to be there for the boys in spite of it all.  I’ve also been facing the challenge of keeping up with their schooling and their social development while being pinned to the couch still for most of the day due to pain and mobility issues.  The truth though is that as much as I tried to hide behind a few funny memes and some surface level conversation here and there, my biggest battle goes much deeper than all that surface stuff.  I’ve been battling emotions lately that come from all across the spectrum of life at all different ranges of severity and I have been trying to hide it for a variety of reasons.

The two that came up the most for me if I were to be honest with myself were

1) Trying to save face and pretend like I am fine.  I am supposed to have it all together.  I am supposed to be the one that can handle all this.  The one that is use to it, and can take it like a pro.  If I keep telling myself that, maybe I will start to believe it as much as my friends seem to.  And if I start to believe it, maybe just maybe it will start coming true?

and

2) Trying to keep a happy tone going for my friends and for DogForDavid as a whole.  I have worked too hard for too long to be a source of encouragement and positivity.  I want to be a person that can help lift others up when they are down and help them see that the sun really is going to shine again even when they may be facing their darkest days.  Knowing that, I really didn’t want to risk throwing it all away now with a range of posts about the darker side of life.  I kept telling myself that if I publicly let on that I was dealing with issues like depression, grief, anger, hopelessness, and the like that I would be letting everyone down and ruining my chance to be able to minister to others again in the future with encouragement and hope.

Philippians 4 encouragement_blog readyBy allowing myself to be so focused on what others might think, or how I may come across to them, I was forgetting something (and someOne) very important.  I was forgetting to let go and just trust God.  I was forgetting about one of my favorite promises in the Bible.  The one about how God will give us peace that surpasses all understanding if we just turn to Him.  The days I would start to remember that, I would allow my thoughts and my depression to turn it into an attack instead of recognizing the encouraging reminders and promises that they are.  I would say to myself, I haven’t been doing well about reading my Bible on a regular basis, or I haven’t really been keeping up with matters of faith or trusting God, and as a result, I would let those precious words slip right out of my hands and into the darkness that was surrounding me.

I know very well that I am not perfect and only human, and I understand others know that too and that it’s okay, and even important, to show my shortcomings and humanness from time to time.  However, I have never been comfortable with truly letting people into the inner core of my heart and thoughts unless I had something positive and encouraging to say that I hoped would be of help or encouragement to the reader/listener.  True, I have stepped out of my comfort zone a few very rare times… most of which have been here on this site, but I have never truly been able to shake the torment of feeling the pressure to keep up a good face and positive energy on my sites and with my friends as much as possible.  Considering that finding the silver lining and the sunshine part of life is something I thrive in with just about everything I have faced, that task isn’t always a daunting one for me to accomplish.

559929_453790487989602_293406818_nHowever, in times like the ones I’ve been facing over the last month, the darker side of emotions and weakness have been pounding down my doors and creeping in through the cracks.  When the tough emotions start taking over, slowly weakening your resolve, your hope, your resistance…  staying positive and upbeat starts to become about more than just finding the silver lining or putting on a smile.  It becomes a real battle for hope and life.  One that can get dark and ugly at times, and other times can simply weaken you to the point of wanting to crawl under a rock and hide it out… waiting for brighter days to appear again.  Too much time under that rock though can take the zeal and enthusiasm out of a person.  It can steal their hope of a brighter tomorrow and make their already dark days even darker.  In turn, that makes the battle turn into an all out war if the person wants to see the light of day again (figuratively speaking).  The worse part?  That war isn’t against other people, situations, sickness, or even bad days.  It’s against our very selves and the voices we have let reign in our heads for too long.  Voices from the devil that lie to us, steal our joy and self-esteem, and that can render us weak and powerless if we listen to them.
The good news with all of this though is that as long as you’re still breathing, it is never too late to turn things around.  We can’t do it alone and it won’t happen over night, but it can definitely been done.  For me, when I found myself starting to lose the battle with depression and fear, no matter how hard I was trying to fight back against them both, I chose to change my battle plan to hiding under that proverbial rock.  I’ve been hiding there for a while now and doing what I can to hide that fact from as many as I can.  Giving brief glimpses here and there to very few people out of sheer need to not be alone, but then returning to my rock to hide anyway.  Through some well timed devotions, some encouraging songs, boost of faith, friends that cared enough to not leave me alone, and a care package from a friend who knows the darkness and shadows of this road far too well herself but continues to have victory over them, I am slowly pulling out from under the rock and finding my footing once again.

Spoon from AlexThank-you to all who have kept me and my boys in your hearts and prayers.  I truly appreciate it.  And a very special thank-you to the friend who sent the care package.  You know who you are, and I want you to know how much you and your friendship mean to me.  By the way, I am wearing my extra spoon around my neck. 😉  I also have put the verse cards and the little book in the little purse and are keeping them close for encouragement and reminders to hang in there.  Thank-you, from the bottom of my heart. ❤

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Bad Morning, Sweet Mercy

God just blessed me again with His sweet mercy. The new home health nurse came out this morning for an evaluation and saw that I had run out of ice and have been like this for over a day now (I am on a machine that pumps ice water throughout my splint to keep my surgery site cooled down but I don’t have the help needed to keep the ice supplied for it to work), and that due to my EDS the effects of my pain meds is unstable and unpredictable making it a gamble to take when I don’t have a worker here for my kids, and then of course all the other stuff like my need for transfer help, possible wound care, washing my hair, light housework and meals, etc. She made up a report requesting my insurance to approve 3 days a week of home help and once a week nurse aid and said it tends to take about a week to find out if we will get approved.  Then she broke one of my pills in half and brought me some food from the kitchen so I could take something for the pain that was causing me to fight back tears during the whole appointment (she broke it in half in hopes it would be enough to ease the pain without knocking me out cold in the process).

As if all this wasn’t enough of a blessing, she just showed back up after leaving for the day with her arms full of bags of ice.  Bless God for His loving and wonderful mercy and the beautiful people like this nurse that allow Him to use them to help others. I am still crying, but the tears are no longer from pain, fear, and being overwhelmed, but rather from the sweet and blessed realization of God stepping in and coming to my rescue yet again.

My morning started off pretty bad with a canceled sitter which led to me having to cancel my follow up appointment today which got me yelled at by the surgeon’s nurse. All this while I am fighting back the urge to cry out in intense pain because my ankle felt like it was being burned with a branding iron. I haven’t solved the situation with the follow up appointment yet and finding a new sitter, but God in His sweet mercy has at least provided a way to take the physical pain away from me, and I can’t thank Him enough for it. ❤