Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 18, Trip 3 - Haiti Mission - Mercy Defined

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me.
Break my heart for what breaks Your's
Everything I am for Your kingdom's cause
As I walk from earth into eternity.

~Hillsong United, "Hosanna"

When I took an online quiz a few months ago to help identify my spiritual gifts, the gift of mercy wasn't something I was really familiar with and to be honest I didn't think the quiz had done it's job. I was pretty sure that wasn't me. I mentally tossed it aside....until tonight.

I stumbled across a blog tonight regarding the homeless in this country and one man's mission to get their stories "out there." The beginning of his blog reads:

On the street I saw a small girl cold and shivering in a thin dress, with little hope of a decent meal. I became angry and said to God; “Why did you permit this? Why don’t you do something about it?” For a while God said nothing. That night he replied, quite suddenly:

“I certainly did something about it. I made you.”

Amazing. Not that I don't already know that God created each and every one of us for a purpose to further his kingdom, but oh what it would be like to hear God specifically tell you, this is what I made you for. Most of us flounder around trying to figure out what God's will is for our life. I'm finding that God just kind of points in you the right direction if you'll just relax and let him. In fact, we're pre-programmed by God with spiritual gifts designed specifically for us and our personalities.

Which brings me back to the original question.....What is the gift of Mercy and do I really have it? (Call me crazy that I tend to not trust online surveys.) The gift of mercy is defined as "the capacity to feel and express unusual compassion and sympathy for those in difficult or crisis situations and provide them with the necessary help and support to see them through tough times.*" In the past 2 days I have found myself very emotionally wrapped up in the lives of friends or those close to the family just due to their circumstances and medical crises. Then tonight I find my heart breaking for the homeless and me wanting to do something. I don't know what, but something. So I cry out to God just as Hillsong proclaims...."break my heart for what breaks yours, everything I am for the kingdom's cause....." I want to do more....or do I?

You see the problem with the RA and the fibromyalgia is the fatigue and the lack of ability to commit. I have struggled numerous times and probably will continue to struggle with the way I end up disappointing people because they can't count on me, I sign up to help or agree to do something and due to pain levels or extreme exhaustion I end up having to back out of those plans. So while I want to do more and to serve more, what happens when I can't commit or can't follow through with the service I agreed to? But what about the times when I'm not merciful? Does that mean I really don't have this gift? I don't know. What I do know is that there are times when my compassion runs thin....when I've tried to be there so many times and tried to be Jesus to someone or numerous someones and have felt as if I were running into a wall each and every time. But then I hear a song...."if it takes fifteen times, to hear about Jesus...for someone to believe. Wherever I stand in line, I've gotta make a difference, in case it comes down to me....because I may be third, I may be the seventh...there may be years in between....what if I'm fifteen? What if I'm fifteen? What if I'm fifteen?"

Something that God has been teaching me these past months....."you can always pray." You see it doesn't take perfect health or wealth to pray and connect to the heart of God. God hears me clearly whether sitting in a pew or laying in bed. My fear of commitment or rather the fear of rejection from my lack of ability to commit has been the stumbling block for being obedient to God's call. God has been steadily pushing me to start a small group for women battling chronic pain for, oh, I'd probably say about a year now, (which up until recently I was answering with a very firm "but I don't want to!") What I'm starting to discover is that the issue of fear and of disappointing others is precisely why I NEED to do it. Because there are others that are in the same spot and the Lord wants to use them. Jesus wants them to know that they are important to the kingdom of God. The Lord is simply asking me to be a voice, a teacher, a supporter for a population of people that the church isn't listening to or that the church doesn't really understand. But guess what? I do. I know the pain. I know the emotional pain that comes along with losing friends because you break plans too often. I know the hurt that comes when the diagnosis gets older and people think you've gotten better when you never will. I know the longing and desire to be used and to serve even when your body is telling you there is no way that you can do it. I see them!!! I believe them!!! I want to tell them that God is desperately reaching for them to use them!!! And I want them to see that even though I am completely imperfect, that God is using my ability to relate to them to further His kingdom and help give a voice to an area of the congregation that has been vastly ignored or overlooked.

It's a choice. Do you use the gift God has given you or do you fall victim to the world and let selfishness and hypocrisy and judgement suffocate that gift? It's the choice you make to pray for someone despite who's in the room. It's the choice you make to be the friend you're supposed to be. It's the choice you make spend time with someone despite the comments of others and even despite your own desire to turn away. I choose to do it because God's word promises "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." Matthew 5:7 and I believe that God is true to His word.

So yes, by looking at who I am inside and how I relate to others, what others may view as overemotional I would have to say is perhaps what God has ordained as the gift of mercy. I see that I have "the ability to "walk in another's shoes" and to feel the pain and burdens they carry. The desire to make a difference in the lives of hurting people without being judgmental. Though I may have a difficult time evaluating the intentions of others and at times appear naïve.*" Now, I just need to learn how to lasso my gift and to use it as God intended it, because if I am fifteen and choose to not use it, I'm wasting the gift that God chose so carefully just for me.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Day 11, Trip 3 - Haiti Mission - A Quick Blip on Gluten-Free Knowledge

“Pain was not given thee merely to be miserable under; learn from it, turn it to account.” - Thomas Carlyle

So, it was very disheartening, especially after yesterday's post and putting it out there that I had gone gluten-free, to then awaken this morning very stiff and in a lot of pain. The weather was beautiful yesterday and predicted to be high pressure, warm, dry, and beautiful for the next couple of days. To say I was grouchy was an understatement. To use a phrase commonly heard from a good friend of mine, I was snarky. Crusty. A notch higher than just plain irritated.

The problem with trying to eat out and being gluten-free is that when you assume that you're getting something that should be fine, sometimes you don't. I had a Harvest Apple Chicken Salad from Wendy's last night, which included all of the necessary little packets to put on the salad. I checked the ingredients on the Apple Vinegarette, which was fine, but on a side note, they include "spiced" dried apples and "spiced" carmelized walnuts and let me guarantee you they aren't just spiced....they're knock you out of your chair HOT. Which apparently should have tipped me off immediately to stop...eating.

My research this evening is proving that I don't know NEARLY what I need to know about what foods and other things that may contain gluten....including, but not exclusive to: cosmetics, medication, carmel coloring, the lickable glue on envelopes, cleaning products, etc........and I could go on and on. So I'll save that for another night. While this "seasonal" salad isn't listed in Wendy's nutritional information, what I'm getting to is that whatever Wendy's used to coat those Spiced Carmelized Walnuts in, I'm pretty sure contained some form of gluten. "How do you know?" you ask....because the only "nut" listed on their website, Roasted Pecans, per the nutritional information/ingredients listed on their website contains "maltodextrin". That's right. Gluten. For the same reason that I can't eat Doritos, regular BBQ chips, or Cheetos is probably the same culprit in the coating on those walnuts.

Do not be mistaken. I am 100% encouraged by the fact that my pain and stiffness this morning could very well be a result of actually having gluten instead of the opposite. I would love for this to be a signal that this gluten-free thing is really having some effect, but I'm sticking to my guns about it being too early to tell. However, I know that I could rant on and on about how the list of things that "may" contain gluten is completely absurd, but no one wants to read that. So I guess that leave me with just one thing left to say......

If I can no longer have the carmel coloring in cola, I guess I'll have to start drinking my rum straight.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Day 10, Trip 3 - Haiti Mission - Discuss Amongst Yourselves....

Though I've made it no secret in everyday life, I have yet to really dive into my new undertaking of switching to a gluten free diet here on the blog. There is a sneaky mommy part of me that is trying to make this switch and have it be oblivious to my children. However, had I served them my first attempt at a frozen gluten free pizza crust, I think they would have clearly ran to the bathroom making vomiting noises the entire way. was that bad. Truly.

There are some real bonuses to being gluten free. For instance, M&M's are gluten free, (which explains the sudden weight gain), and it forces me to cook outside the box. I made some killer vegetable soup, an apple sweet potato soup, and a wonderful chicken and veggies in the crockpot. Today I even had a Double cheeseburger with grilled onions and mushrooms from Five Guys Burgers and Fries (, without the bun of course and it was FAB-U-LOUS. The downside? No rolls. No muffin. No biscuits. No bread. This is definitely bothersome to me as bread can be so comforting. What am I going to do without a good ol' PB & J? Today my boss so graciously ordered pizza for our entire department and while I put the order in for her, I realized I couldn't eat any of it. Well, that sucks.

So, I went on a mission tonight.....finding something, ANYTHING, that will help me dive into the realm of baking my own gluten free goodies. First stop? Trader Joe's. While I know that some people rave about the place, I found it very difficult to figure out what was gluten free and what was not as they were all mixed in together and I couldn't find the little "g" they put on their gluten free stuff and people (snooty, earthy people) were mad because I was taking too long looking at the ingredients....**sigh** I did walk away with some gluten free pancake mix, ginger snaps, and crackers. I also picked up some sweet apple chicken sausage, which intrigued me.

My next stop was Meijer, only because I had some gift cards that I could use and it was right next to Trader Joe's. To my pleasant surprise....the wonderful people at Meijer had a section of the store that was dedicated to gluten free. Imagine that. All in one spot. But my greatest discovery was in the traditional baking goods supply aisle. What to my wondering eyes did appear? That's right....the infamous Betty Crocker spoon stared me right in the face floating above a title banner that I never thought possible. "Gluten Free". I did a double take. "Betty Crocker". "Gluten Free". Well alright then, I'll give that a try. Go ahead, twist my arm. I also picked up some pizza crust mix and am hoping for a much better result than the first. I NEED a perfected pizza crust and QUICK!!

So the week will be filled with gluten free experimental recipes, just don't tell my kids. I should know within this week if this gluten free thing is going to work at reducing my pain. To say that I'm skeptical is putting it lightly. It feels like I'm always being told that "if you just" do this or that you could reduce your pain. Sleep more, exercise, eat more fish, avoid gluten, take supplements, don't over exercise, don't just sit around, but be sure to rest when you need to. I truly believe there is no "miracle" treatment plan, especially for the fibromyalgia. The rheumatoid arthritis is a beast of it's own, but the fibro is what I'm fighting so hard to get past. Just when I think this no gluten thing is working, my pain level is going up this evening.

But maybe it's the Tai Chi.
It could be I was on my feet too much today.
Is there a weather front moving in?
Did I lift something?
Am I walking right?

It's just so hard to figure out what's causing the pain. I can see how doctor's get frustrated with us with all of these possibilities, none of which there is really a test for. The key is to keep the positive attitude and the optimism that something will help. Perhaps I won't notice it at first, but something will work. I just keep plugging away and seeing what happens.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day 8, Trip 3 - Haiti Mission - An Attitude of Grattitude

“The presence of a caring person can have an actual, measurable effect on pain and healing.” - Dr. Paul Brand

Ok, let's just put it out there.....I've had a really tough week. I'm finding it hard to believe that Chris has only been gone a week, but I truly think it's because the week has been so incredibly difficult, first emotionally but then physically. My physical pain was dramatically decreased after therapy last Thursday, but came back with a vengence on Saturday when the rain moved in and it hit me.....HARD. I was exhausted and in pain for almost 4 days straight, which hasn't happened to me in a long time. Then, last night, my son got sick in the middle of the night so I was home another day caring for him.

Being that hindsight is always 20/20, I have to believe that one of the reasons that the pain was so intense was the pity party it caused me. I was alone. Chris had left, my boys were gone, and all of my friends have families and obligations of their own, which made me feel so alone. Just me and the pain. That's a really hard place to be. I have been blessed to be a part of an online bible study on the life of King David by Wendy Blight ( and on Monday, she talked about the Dark Nights of the Soul that David went through. It has been a great and powerful study at this time of my life, to see that the man classified as a man after God's own heart went through dark times and times of feeling abandoned and alone. It's how we react to that darkness that's important. So many times I have turned to the words, advice, hugs, and reassurance of my friends here on earth and sometimes that's our downfall. Sometimes those are the times that God wants desperately for us to bring our heartache to Him and not to anyone else. Last week was one of those times and I reached out to validate some of the emotions I was feeling. What I should have done was take everything and all of my suffering to the Lord.

That brings me to today. Today I am in a place where I am just thankful. Thankful for the reminder that God has placed wonderful giving people in my life in the physical absence of my husband. Thankful that my husband is checking in on me and our family daily if not more to make sure everyone is safe and healthy. Thankful that I have friends that are being and doing the things that I have normally been leaning on Chris to do, like rental property maintenance and running to the store to buy some Sprite for my sick son.

Most of all, thankful that I have a Savior. Not just a savior, but a friend, a lover, a therapist, a healer. That in the midst of all that this life can throw at me, there is one who knows me better than I know myself and is calling me to know Him more. The One who cries out to me to spend time with him and wants to comfort me when there is no one else around to do it. My Great Physician who continues to ordain days of rest when I would otherwise push myself to do more than my human body will allow. Who reminds me that He has a plan and that if I will just wait....just be patient....that it will all come together and I....we as a family....will be blessed by the service and sacrifice that we're continuing to go through.

“Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it. He came to fill it with His Presence.” - Paul Claudel

Oh Lord, help me to keep this attitude....that I may thank you more and worry about myself less.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day 3, Trip 3 - Haiti Mission - Brick House

The eight short days I was able to spend with my husband ended 2 days ago as he got on a plane bound for Haiti yet again for the third leg, and what I had hoped was the last trip of what has now turned into a long term mission building a camp to house missionaries in the village of Chambrun, Haiti. Though the last 2 days of his stay were probably the most stiff and most fatigued days I have had in months, which....'tis the season.

After a conversation I had with Chris last night I found myself literally plummetted into a HUGE valley of depression and despair and it completely caught me off guard. I have had many conversations with many friends and acquaintances talking about how I knew that Chris was doing what God had called him to do and how supportive I am of that. So how, you ask, did I get to the point of sobbing and weeping that I was at today only 2 days after he had left? A combination of things really, I suppose. I really believe that as much as I long to see my husband and have him physically present here for a time, it really is a huge adjustment when he returns and again when he leaves. More so this time after 8 weeks than the first time after only 3. The big issue was that Chris told me last night that his return date of November 14 may not be a permanent return date....that he may have to go back.....again.

When I look back on the past 3 months and the things I have done, have not done, have endured, have can I NOT be encouraged? God has been so faithful both in my sickness and in my heartache. He has given me the ability to communicate with my husband in a foreign country every night....EVERY NIGHT!!! Even 5 years ago, that probably wouldn't have been a possibility, but God is faithful in reminding me of the ways he is keeping me connected to Chris even while he's far away. God blessed me with 8 days, most of which included what I heard a Christian author once describe as "red-hot monogamy". But more than that to kiss him every morning and cuddle up with him every night. Some people would say "it was only 8 days," but let me assure you, my friends, it was 8 of the best days of my life after having him gone for 8 weeks.

So, what was today all about?

I've said it once, I'll say it again.....fear. Fear of the "what if's" and the "could be's". I spoke with a couple of good friends today, one who reminded me that our mind is the hardest thing to battle and the other reminding me that battles of the flesh are much more common that spiritual ones, though I'm not discounting the possibility of the enemy attacking me in this area. I am quite aware that having a husband on the mission field and then stepping out in leadership in my own areas of ministry is more than an open door for attack, but almost an invitation for it. I have to laugh at myself because I think more than it actually being attack, it's the fear of being under attack that has me all in disarray. The "what if" Chris comes under spiritual attack? A battle of the mind.

Secondly, selfishness...a battle of the flesh. I just want him home. It's that simple. My heartaches for him. I love him and I'm ready to have my family back together. In the past week or so, I have heard a couple of people compare me to an army wife. My answer to that has been (I didn't say it today, but I thought it,) that I am an army wife, my husband is serving in God's army. When God says go, you go and God will let you know when your tour of duty is over.

Thirdly, my wonderful husband brought this all into perspective for me. I was telling him about the day as I want to make sure I'm communicating effectively and we discussed the differences between my emotional responses now compared to my emotional responses 4 years ago when he first started taking short term mission trips. He does see that they're different, but he said to me (and he is SO right on this,) "When you hear something that isn't really what you want or expect to hear, you let your head run away with it and it just runs rampant." And that, in a nutshell, was exactly what had happened today. I know it is, because it came on me so quickly and I couldn't shake it because I let it take over my thoughts.

So, what's with the corny title and The Commodores (seriously, I know you've been playing that video over and over just to listen to the song the entire time you're reading this, because I was listening to it over and over as I was writing)! Honestly, the song was just stuck in my head, but I started to think about it.

"She's a Brick....House...." "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." ~Proverbs 31:25

"She's mighty, mighty....." "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks." ~Proverbs 31:17

So, that got me God just continuing to strengthen me for something? Obviously. But for something greater? Maybe. Stick with me on this thoughtprocess.....I started thinking about the story of the Three Little Pigs.

Trip 1 - The first little pig - I built my house of straw, which the enemy could easily "huff and puff and blow my house down." The first trip was easy. Chris had been gone for 2 week trips in the past, so 3 weeks really didn't phase me that much, especially with baseball season and the pool being open.

Trip 2 - The second little pig - I had a house built of sticks. Somewhat strengthened by the first trip, but still with many holes and times when the enemy did indeed "huff and puff and blow my house down," but I continued to rebuild....the same house of sticks....until....

Trip 3 - The third little pig - The Lord is helping me to build a house of bricks.....a Brick....House....(I know you just sang that....) A house that the wolf cannot blow down and a house that will be a strong and carefully built temple of the Holy Spirit. There are no "coincidences" with God. Everything happens according to his will. It's no coincidence that trip 3 coincides with the start up of my Hopekeepers Jeremiah 33:6 small group for women dealing with chronic pain. Nor is it a coincidence that trip 3 coincides with the new therapy I'm undergoing for the treatment of my pain. NOR is it a coincidence that trip 3 is starting at the same time I'm eliminating gluten from my diet in order to make some life changes and control my inflammation. The Lord is not just building a spiritual and emotional brick house. The Lord could very well be building a physical brick house in me as well. A temple to withstand any wolf that dares to huff and puff outside my door. I can't think of anything better to welcome my husband home than to have a wife with the strength of a brick house. I'm on fire for the Lord to strengthen me.

Tonight, Chris told me that he has a team of 4 working with him starting next week. Not from his group, but the local ministry, Nehemiah Vision Ministries, will be working with him to help with the project and then October 10 there may be a team coming to help complete the project from Vineyard Mercy Response, the group that he is part of. After all, God is God, and if anybody is going to get the camp completed by the end of November it's going to be God, right? "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." ~Matthew 6:34 Perhaps I should worry about him going back again when we know for sure that he has to go back again.

So, with the emotional meltdown out of the way, I can get back to work....laying one brick at a time.

She's a Brick.....House.......

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day 49, Part 2 - Haiti Mission - Conditional love no more

Restless in bed and sleepless through the night, I longed for my lover.
I wanted him desperately. His absence was painful.
So I got up, went out and roved the city,
hunting through streets and down alleys.
I wanted my lover in the worst way!
I looked high and low, and didn't find him.
And then the night watchmen found me
as they patrolled the darkened city.
"Have you seen my dear lost love?" I asked.
No sooner had I left them than I found him,
found my dear lost love.
I threw my arms around him and held him tight,
wouldn't let him go until I had him home again,
safe at home beside the fire.
~ Song of Solomon 3:1-4 (The Message)

After a tiring, yet extremely positive day yesterday I seem to have had an emotional breakdown brought on by my own insecurity. These used to happen often, but have become fewer and farther between in the past 3 years or so. However, last night was a breakdown so intense that I thought I may get sick or hyperventilate. A panic attack of an extreme level, which I have rarely experienced, so the event was scary on a number of levels. The worst part? I took it out on my husband.

Now, my husband is no stranger to this kind of reaction from me as he's dealt with it numerous times in the past, but over the past 7 weeks, I thought I had reached a level of safety and security in our marriage. Apparently, I still have holes in that armor of security that the enemy is able to squeeze in at times and shatter my emotions, my trust, and completely twist and tangle the truth. Last night was one of those times.

The pastor of my old church used to say, "When you're walking with God the way you should be, Satan will jump on you with 2 feet." I have found this to be extremely true and know for a fact that I had let my guard down last night. 1 Peter 5:8 reminds us "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." Not that this isn't something I should be doing all the time, but I know from experience that when I'm feeling confident that I'm doing what the Lord wants me to do that I need to be particularly watchful of my own feelings and emotions, because I have a sneaking suspiscion that this is where Satan has his sights set on me. On top of that, when my pain level is considerably increased, I have a tendency to let my emotions direct my thoughts, which can lead to a pretty destructive circle of doubt and despair.

Tonight, in my quiet time with the Lord, He asked me "What would it look like if He demanded I show my love for Him the way I demand that Chris show his love for me?"

Wow. And as I burst into tears, I got it. I saw myself from a different perspective......

If God demanded that I show how much I love him often and in specific terms, I would fall short. "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" ~Romans 3:23 I could never meet the demands of my Lord, for his ways are greater than my ways. So, who am I to demand that Chris show his love for me in any specific way? Who am I to demand that Chris show me his love at all? God tells me to love unconditionally. Not, love....but only if, etc. Not only am I to love without strings, but also I have no right to put myself on a pedestal where I believe I can demand the way a person expresses their love for me. I don't have the right to make love "conditional".

So, I now, too have a love unconditionally, beginning with my husband. I know that God is faithful and that with prayer and petition, that this area of bondage will begin to disappear. I used to think that I already loved Chris unconditionally, but I haven't. I was demanding to feel love back from him, and I shouldn't. If he could no longer speak, would I love him any less because he couldn't say the things I thought I needed to hear? If he were to become paralyzed, would I love him any less because he couldn't touch me or hug me when I thought I needed to be comforted? If he no longer had the strength he has now, would I love him any less because he couldn't help me in the areas that I needed a servant? No, no, and no. I would still love him, because of his heart and his love for the Lord. I love the man that God created him to be.

I no longer want to burden him with emotional responses, I want to love him. I no longer want to cry that I'm not loved, I want to love. I no longer want to worry, but rather surrender my emotional responses to the authority of Christ and let His peace wash over me in every situation. With Chris coming home in less than 48 hours (YES!) I will not let the enemy get in between my husband and I and overshadow my love. Tonight, I'm making the decision to begin loving without demand and giving my love freely. I am making the decision to start treating my husband like the gift from God that he is to me. I won't be perfect at it, but I will be persistent at redevoting myself to the process of breaking the ties that bind me. As it says in Songs of Solomon 3:4 "when I found the one my heart loves, I held him and would not let him go". I have 8 days to hold on to my husband until he returns to Haiti to complete his mission/project.

In those 8 days, I will love him unconditionally. I will love him unconditionally beginning today.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day 47, Part 2 - Haiti Mission - Nothing to fear but fear itself.....

“Lord, You establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us,”~Isaiah 26:12

For quite a few mornings now, my alarm has gone off and I have reset it for another 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes. I've never really gone back to sleep after I have reset it, I just lay there not wanting to get up. It's starting to get cooler at night and the mornings are pretty chilly in Ohio now sometimes, so moving to get out of bed can be somewhat tricky when your joints don't want to go. This used to be my favorite time of year. Well, techinically it still is. I love football season, cool nights by a campfire, fall festivals and the food that comes with them. My first painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis began in September, and each September since the beginning, the change of weather here in Ohio brings a change in my disease for the season. Harder to manage. Harder to get going, well and sometimes to keep going.

With my husband still in Haiti (only for 5 more days until he gets a break...but he will return to Haiti after a week at home), I'm finding that the idea of going through the fall season is scarier to me than it has been in the past few years. For the first time since the onset of chronic pain, I'm faced with having to endure the season change by myself, and I'm unsure how that's going to look. The past 47 days while Chris has been gone have had considerable ups and downs, but I can honestly say that I've been okay. God's faithfulness has been remarkable, awesome, undeniably wonderful. However, fear....even a little bit, can cause every bit of my security and confidence to be violently shaken. So, it begs to answer a bigger question.....What are you afraid of?

Can you hear me okay? It's hard to talk with a mouth full of the pride I so desperately need to swallow......My fears are silly. That's what Jesus is telling me, to stop fearing these silly things. As I was writing this I agree, they're silly, even dare I say, stupid. But I don't think I'm alone in some of these. I'll let you be the judge. Here are my fears for the fall change of season and going through it alone:

1.) Judgement and endless criticism from my mother. This is a biggie. I have this belief that I cannot let my mother know when I'm having trouble managing my disease. My mother has had diabetes for over 50 years and I think she believes that I should be able to struggle through just like she has struggled through. Which, on a side note, there are HUGE differences in the life I have vs. the life she had when we were little. Anyway, long story short, there's a big difference in diseases and circumstances, but I can't find a way to tell her that in love, so I choose to not talk about it. Secondly, she has been extremely UNsupportive of Chris being gone from the get-go. I strongly believe that my mother thinks my husband has abandoned his poor, sick, partially disabled wife to go galavanting around a foreign country with no concern for how it affects his family. Again, not true. The distance is just as hard, if not harder at times, for Chris. He doesn't like being away from his family, but he's an obedient Christian man, who is doing what God has called him to do no matter the sacrifice. It makes my heart leap with joy that I have a husband like Chris. His heart for service is one of the many reasons I married him, and I wouldn't change a thing. So, to this I say "The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?" ~Psalm 118:6 or in other words, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." The issues with my mother is an area of bondage that has needed my attention for a long time, and I trust that the Lord will continue to force me out of my comfort zone of silence and into a new comfort zone of using His word to fight the attacks of the enemy.

2.) Financial burden. Next week I start the Fibromyalgia Program that my doctor offers at his office. It includes one-on-one therapy with a physical therapist and nutritionist to help me find ways to better manage my disease. I am SUPER excited to be starting it, but for 8-10 weeks I will be on a reduced work schedule, which is going to take a chunk out of my paycheck. There is also the concern that Chris has been in the mission field for far longer than we had anticipated and his job security back here in the states may be at risk, which would leave us without any income from him. (Flashback to my mother's lack of support -- What's Chris going to do about his job? Is he going to work when he comes back for break? etc, etc, etc) Phillipians 4:19 (NLT) says "And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus." Though I have moments of "fretting" over money, I have found that there is a significant amount of peace I am experiencing in surrending this area to the authority of God. I know he will provide, he has shown me over and over that he will take care of everything I need. I may not always get what I want, but I will always have all I need if we're being obedient to what God asks of us.

3.) Being a burden. This is another pride issue. I don't ask for help. I don't like the idea of being an inconvenience to others, even my husband when he is home. At 32, I think I should be able to carry my own laundry baskets and move my own furniture. I should be able to clean my house from top to bottom in one day after I've stripped all the beds and folded all the laundry. At 32, I should not have to pace myself to take care of my home. WRONG. With each passing day, week, month, I'm finding that moderation is very key, and with the weather changing, moderation may not even help. So I've taken the first step in swallowing my pride on this issue by sending an email to my most supportive friends. Those that I consider family. I've asked them to email me and let me know what day during the week they have available to help me out. That way, I know who I can call on what days of the week. I like to think that this will make me more likely to ask for help, but I can't guarantee it. Ecclesiastes 4:10 says "If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" I am blessed to have wonderful friends. Graciously willing to give of their time and energy to physically help when I call on them. Lovingly listening to my emotions when the days come that the pain and fatigue is too much for me to bear. Most importantly, faithfully lifting me in prayer for strength and healing consistently. I know that these same friends are praying for me regularly. They desperately want to see me healed as much as I pray for healing. On days that I am so weary and so unfocused that it's hard to even pray or turn to His word, these people are interceding for me. What a blessing!! "My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God" ~Job 16.20

But much as I'd love to take credit for being strong and independent through this whole process, Isaiah 26:12 has reminded me that I do nothing for myself, but God makes all things possible through me,“Lord, You establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” I am continuing to learn what it means to fully surrender to the authority of Christ and loving the peace that comes along with it. The best part is that I think the best is yet to come. My time with Jesus has become more regular and I can sometimes even feel Him working in me and through me. It's been amazing.....and I am lucky enough to have more undivided attention to give just to Jesus. I can't wait to continue this phase of growth and this season of my life. As awful and heart-wrenching it has been some days to be without my wonderful husband, I have been rewarded so fully in my spiritual and emotional growth that I am hungry for more.

The fear is nothing. I'm already past it. I have extra time with my Lord and He outweighs anything else that may have been weighing on my heart.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 27, Part 2 - Haiti Mission - The Time and Place for your Game Face

"Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.” ~Lou Holtz

Football season is revving up here in Ohio. I think you have to take some kind of oathe before moving to Columbus, Ohio...."I, Jacqueline Radford, do solemnly agree to follow, cheer, and become a die-hard fan of THE Ohio State Buckeyes." The scarlet-and-gray has seeped back into every department store, grocery store, and even gas station here in buckeye country and it's hard not to feel the anticipation of opening kickoff that's less than a week away. And, I'm not sure, but I think that maybe even Jesus is a Buckeye fan since last night during my time with him, he asked me to keep my game face on.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. ~2 Timothy 1:7

Putting on your game face is an act of self-discipline, of strength. Especially when you have to keep it on for any length of time. For me, I have to put it on from the time my boys are awake in the morning to the time they go to bed at night. I keep it on at work and running to the grocery store. Going to church or meeting with friends, all the while wearing my game face. Even when I'm talking to my husband in the evenings, I try my hardest to not burden him with my feelings, so therefore, I'm trying to keep my game face on even when talking to him. There are probably only a mere matter of minutes that I don't have my "game face" on. Jesus tells me specifically that I need to keep the game face on, but also tells me that I can take it off for Him.

Not giving in to the anguish and the heartache is an act of self-discipline. With a history of clinical depression and chronic pain, every moment of every day could have been disaterous for me. There are many days that I picked up, put on my "game face" and got ready for the day instead of climbing back into bed to cry myself back to sleep.

So, last night in my time with Jesus, I clearly heard him say that I need to keep my game face on. Stay strong. Don't get too mushy or lovey-dovey. But, he also said - "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." ~Matthew 11:28 Jesus wants me to remove the mask for him. Jesus wants my hurts. He wants my sobs and wails and cries and whys. When I fall limply into bed at night, feeling like a broken, sad little girl....Jesus wants me to reach for Him and find comfort in his arms. For there is safety there and there is healing there. He's making me new in so many ways. What greater honor to be able to abide in him.

It only takes a mere matter of minutes for the breakdown and the re-build of my shell. A shower or devotional time. Usually 10-15 minutes with the Lord is enough to straighten out my attitude to where I don't need the game face. It's just me, hangin' out with God.

So, while my heart continues to ache for the return of my husband....Jesus is teaching me some football techniques, putting on my game face (I'm tellin' you I got the vision of Jesus pointing at His eyes and then to know what I'm talkin about.) He wants to continue building my strenghth, but also wants to continue showing me when and where the appropriate times are to take the mask off. on, Jesus. It's 4th and goal. Teach me how to win this one.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 23, Part 2 - Haiti Mission - Pain and PB & J

"Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter." ~James A. Garfield

There are times when I just need a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When I came home after being in the hospital for a week due to complications from a gall bladder surgery, all I craved was peanut butter and jelly and Cool Ranch Doritos. Now, when I'm in a lot of pain, don't feel 100% or I can't sleep, I really want a good PB & J....and my husband makes the BEST PB & J in the world.

When I say my husband has a missionary's heart, it's putting it lightly. He serves unyieldingly each and every day. He gives and gives and gives. He gives physically and financially. The Lord has given him the gift of service in a big way. What comes to mind today is how much I take that for granted in our my pain. When I hurt and even when I could be taking care of myself, he serves me. He asks what I need and he provides. Whether it's getting my medicine, adjusting my heating pad, helping me up the stairs, or just making me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He serves me. Somtimes his mission is me.

But today, while I'm still dealing with my own disease, and while I still miss my missionary, I am filled with joy. Joy that God has me at a place in life where I can care for myself and though painful and tiring, I'm capable. My ability to care for myself is enabling my husband to serve the Lord in another area. Thankful to the Lord that he has blessed me with a God-fearing, God-loving servant as a husband. My husband has taught me how to treat others with more patience and grace. He's taught me how to give more abundantly and forgive more easily. I've seen him show unquestioning obedience to God, no matter how uncomfortable. What wonderful characteristics in a husband and also a father. I am blessed to have such a humble example for my sons to follow.

Today has proven to be another day of rest for me against my own desires to keep going. Lamentations 3:22-23 says "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Tomorrow is a new day and God's mercies are new every morning. So I rest and pray for renewed strength and pain relief tomorrow. I rest and pray for renewed strength for my husband tomorrow in a hot and tiring mission. I pray for other missionaries working with him who are battling sickness, climate, adjustment. I am here, doing my part in God's plan....the sacrifice.....though I don't consider being a mom or wife a sacrifice. But a lot of the time, my heart is with my husband and it aches for him.

So, as I smear my own peanut butter on one piece of bread and then spread the jelly on the other piece of bread, I am reminded of how much my husband has served me over the last 4 years of chronic illness.....and I couldn't be more thankful for him or thankful to God for blessing me with such a wonderful man to love.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 18, Part 2 - Haiti Mission - Surrender and Grab the Heating Pad

“God insists that we ask, not because He needs to know our situation, but because we need the spiritual discipline of asking.” - Catherine Marshall

Well, it got me. The pain got me. Today I sit in the comfort of my cushy, foam king-sized bed and surrender to the pain that has been seething on the inside for days now. Is it my own lack of care that it got a hold of me so tightly? Or is it my lack of surrender to the Lord that has me where I am? I am a true believer that God will put you where you need to be in order to teach. So I admit,I have gone through many months of not talking to God about my pain simply because I felt, "He already knows." It's true, He knows. He knows pain very well. However, it wasn't until I came across the quote above that I realized, He wants to teach me to come to Him with it. Phillipains 4:6 says Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Not because he doesn't know about the pain, but because he wants to take it from me. But it's my job to surrender my control over my disease to Him.

Oh, to have the wisdom of my Lord. He knows. He just knows. He knew that I would have trouble collecting rent from Chris' tenants. He knew that I would have issues with my stepson's mom. He knew that there would be stress at work. All this week, He knew it was coming this week. But He has blessed me. He has waited until I'm alone, without having to care for my children, to bring it on. It's a gift really. He has blessed me with days of energy and low pain in order to help me care for my boys and get through this phase of Chris' trip with more ease than I thought was possible. He had told me, many times, not to overload this week without the children with "stuff". But it is a PHYSICAL issue, not just a mental and emotional one. Yes, I do believe God wants extra time with me this week, in the quiet times. But now, I'm starting to believe that He also knew that this was the week that the pain would flow more freely. That this was the week that He would loosen his grasp on the pain and He knew that this was the week I need to rest. Not just emotionally, but physically. And He, in his great wisdom, wants to teach me to quiet myself AND teach me to take the pain to Him during my quiet time.

In all seriousness, I have no control over my fibromyalgia or my rhuematoid arthritis. What I need to surrender is the control of attempting to "control" my symtpoms and flare ups. More rest, less stress. More quiet, less anxiety. More prayer, less medicine. More God, less me. That's not to say that God wants me to suffer, I'll still be using my heating pad, taking my maintenence medicine, and getting as much sleep as possible in order to maintain my disease. But I need to surrender the disease to the Lord, and, in the quiet, listen to what it is he wants me to do about it.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day 14, Part 2 - Haiti Mission - Anticipating the Quiet

"Listen in silence, because if your heart is full of other things you cannot hear the voice of God." ~Mother Teresa, "No Greater Love"

I have a hard time quieting myself. My mind is always racing in one direction or, work, business, house, dogs, friends, T.V., etc. I attempted to quiet my mind when I was in the shower last night, but it seemed like only a matter of seconds, maybe only one second, before my mind was worrying about other things. Last night, it was medicine, sickness, laundry....all before I could even stop and realize that my mind had wandered away from the "silence" I was trying so hard to obtain. We're a nation overwhelmed with media, responsibilities, and expectations.

When I was in college I got into the habit of falling asleep with the T.V. on. When I look back on that time in my life, I realize that I started leaving the T.V. on at night because I didn't WANT the silence and I didn't want to be left with my thoughts. Sometimes memories and life is painful, and I used the noise and activity of the T.V. to drowned out the things I didn't want to deal with. I would not recommend this to anyone. It didn't teach me to cope with my emotions very well and it's been an uphill battle to re-teach myself some very important coping skills since that time. Even though I feel I've made great strides in how I cope with my emotions, I still find that I leave the T.V. on at night, which I think is more out of habit now than actually needing it.

My husband bought me the book "No Greater Love" By: Mother Teresa for my birthday this year. At first I kind of did a mental eye-roll, which was really inappropriate of me. Of all the missionary hearts I should be exploring, wouldn't I want to know the thoughts and experiences of Mother Teresa? But I picked it up for the first time about a week ago and's been awesome. I haven't read much, but what I have read has really hit home with me for things that my heart has been yearning to work on. What I'm realizing now is that I'm lacking the "quiet" in my quiet time with the Lord.

So, though it may not seem like a lot to some people, beginning at midnight, I will be computer free for 24 hours. I have had my computer on 24/7 since Chris has been gone, as I always want to be available if he needs or wants to communicate with me. God is telling me to stop being preoccupied with that. He wants more fasting from media and more turning to Him. It may seem insignificant, but for me it's a baby step towards obedience.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 3, Part 2 - Haiti Mission - Lifting fog

When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it. ~Mark Twain

There's a phenomenon I deal with called "fibro fog". Now some may argue that it doesn't exist and I even think my husband is very skeptical, but from the others I have talked to that have fibromyalgia, this is a very real and frustrating symptom of the disease. What is it? I'm glad you asked.....It's exactly what it says it's like being in a fog. Everything's kind of blurry. What you're trying to say, what you're trying to do, what you're trying to's like knowing you know what you know, but not really sure you know it....for sure. Yep, it's as confusing as I just made it sound. It's my #1 reason for losing my keys or the checkbook. Okay, so maybe I'm a little scatterbrained, too, but I'm gonna claim "fibro fog." Everyone experiences it differently just as everyone experiences the disease differently. I have a gal I work with that if you didn't know she had fibromyalgia, some days you'd think she was sitting at her desk all doped up. Okay, I admit, sometimes she is "medicated", but aren't all of us that deal with chronic pain? Fibro fog makes you feel disconnected.

The past 2 weeks my relationship with Jesus has been wandering around in the "fog". I've been disconnected. Like I said in my last post, I did a total 180 and when I did, I wandered into the fog of doing life on my own. I grew up out in the country and when it gets foggy there, it REALLY gets foggy. I remember fall mornings going to a certain window in the house to see if I could see the neighbor's security light (they lived 1/4 mile down the road), because I knew that if I couldn't see their light that I could probably go back to bed because school was going to be delayed. Now, when I looked out that window, whether I could see the light or not, I KNEW the house was there. I knew our neighbor's house hadn't gone anywhere even if I couldn't see the light. That's how my relationship is with Jesus. Even in the fog, He's still there. Deuteronomy 31:8 says "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." We just can't see him because we've put "stuff" (in my case, my husband) between us.

The best part about fog is that it clears. At some point, Jesus calls you back to him and the fog that has been surrounding you clears. An "A Ha" moment. Even with Fibro fog, it doesn't last forever, it clears and you can function normally, whatever normal may be for you. So even when I'm not feeling 100%, I like to remind myself that the fog clears and normal is around the corner. Even when I know I've turned my eyes from God, I find comfort when I feel the fog clear and I refocus my attention on Him. He has been waiting for me in the fog and sometimes he's been waiting there a long time. Sometimes, He knows we're in a fog, but I don't know I'm in a fog. But he stays there with me, waiting for me to have my "a ha" moment and He clears the fog for me.

Today is my 32nd birthday. I've been in and out of "fibro fog" for almost a year now, chronic pain for 4 years now. I have had seasons of very...dense...fog. But for tonight, it's clear. So as Mark Twain put it, "It is sad to go to pieces like this, but we all have to do it." Thanks to my relationship with Jesus, though, I don't have to do it alone.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Day 1, Part 2 - Haiti Mission - Another Send Off

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. ~Psalm 28:7

It's been wonderful having my husband home the past 2 weeks. Though I prayed that God would make each minute seem like 100 minutes, time continues to pass regardless and alas I had to take my husband to the airport again this morning for the second leg of his work in Haiti. All of the materials have arrived at the camp in Haiti and I know that my husband will be enduring long, grueling 14+ hour days for the next six weeks. I pray for the Lord's protection, but not necessarily for safety. You see, I heard a sermon long ago speaking to the obedient Christians about how being a Christian was not "safe" and that we shouldn't pray for safety. Serving for the Lord, especially in an oppressed and persecuted country, will never be "safe". Therefore I pray for the Lord's protection for my husband in an unsafe, primitive country. And I pray that the Lord will meet him there and bless his work.

How quickly my focus changed from Christ to Chris the minute he got home. I now see how easily I can slip back into my old ways of completely submersing myself in my marriage and family. It's an idol issue. I've been slowly reading, well listening actually, to "The Hole In Our Gospel" by Richard Stearns and it references Matthew 19:20-21 ~ "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?" Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. You see, there is something that all of us need to "give up". Perhaps it's not material possessions like the young man in Matthew, but there is something for all of us that is keeping us from being all that God intended for us to be. Something keeping us from the life that Jesus intended. What's standing in your way from being the person God wants you to be? Is it money? Is it food? Is it lust? For me, one of those things, if not THE thing, is my family, the relationships and how I interact with my family. I realized yesterday that I had completely shifted focus from my relationship with Jesus back to my marriage the minute Chris walked in the front door for his leave.

I know without a doubt that God has wonderful things in store for me. What are they? Don't know, but I do know that they're wonderful. Matthew 7:11 says ~ If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! I am refocused on changing myself....surrendering myself to be the person that Jesus has intended for me to be. It will require sacrifice, but I'm ready. I believe that I can have joy and have it abundantly as well as serve more passtionately, if I just let Jesus have his way with me.

I have come undone
But I have just begun
Changing by Your grace
~Francesca Battistelli, "Beautiful, Beautiful"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 15 - Haiti Mission - simple as Brownies

"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." ~Luke 5:16

I bake. That's what I do when I'm feeling sad or anxious. Oh, my husband would disagree and tell you that I yell, scream, cry....but left to my own with no one to pour my anguish out on, I bake. I've been known to whip up cookies in the late night just because I'm feeling.....well, lonely. It doesn't solve the feeling, and I'm sure that it is a big contributor to the problems I have with food, but there's something in the smell of cookies baking. Well, anything baking for that matter. I've been known to bake cakes and brownies only to have them sit untouched on my counter for days. It's the smell that fills my house, but not only that, I just enjoy baking and eating the results. Otherwise, I'd just light a candle for goodness sake.

Here's the this a good habit to be in? I would have to say "no" based on my current weight, which is a whole different day's discussion. So do I replace it or eliminate it? How do you go about changing a coping mechanism like that? It's simple....pray.

Pray simply.

I think I'm under the impression that my prayer life has to be these long eloquent prayers that sound good outloud in order to do it right. I get embarrassed to pray outloud because I know that my prayers are more like a conversation with an old friend versus all the "thee"s and "thou"s, King James Version type prayers. My prayers tend to take off on their own and I'm praying over things that I didn't even know was on my heart. Of course, I believe that this is how God wants us to pray, very openly and candidly with him. What I have trouble with is the simple prayer. The ones that I should be speaking in the middle of the day. The simple "Thanks God", "be with them Lord", or "I need you God".

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, "pray continually". This has always been a hard verse for me to comprehend. What does that mean? How do you pray continually? What I'm starting to understand better, is that perhaps it means, "be continually ready to pray". Prayer should be our first "go to" in all situations. Loneliness, anxiety, sickness, joy, peace, work, play. Maybe it's more of a Holy Spirit thing. Be open continually to the spirit urging you to pray. Be willing to be interupted by the Holy Spirit and be willing to change your path and take the opportunity that God is giving you to grow in Him. Whether it's an opportunity for personal growth in lonliness, or an opportunity for evangalism and healing of a non-believer in sickness, I need to be ready to hear from God and ready to pray. Even if it's outside my comfort zone, it's something that God is asking me to work on right now at this very point in my life. But he's also asking me to literally, "pray continually". In all situations, good and bad, to pray. Small prayers, easy prayers, simple prayers. He's asking me to stay connected to Him in all that I do, everyday....every minute. This is something that I have been using regularly....CONTINUALLY....since Chris has left. There have been times where I don't know where Chris is, if he's okay, if I'll talk to him soon. I'm left to pray and surrender those feelings to God. It's all part of the process and the growth God is leading me in right now. And it's been wonderful.

So, I admit I'm typing this, there are brownies in the oven. Are my kids here? Nope. Is my husband still hundreds of miles away? Yep. Am I lonely? Honestly? Not as much as I thought I would be at this point. God has been faithful the past 2 weeks. He has prepared me for this trip for years, and He has prepared me well. I can see that now. I have missed my husband a great deal. My heart has physically ached at times because I just miss his company so much. But I don't feel sad, lonely, anxious, or worried. I just simply miss him. Is that why I made brownies? Nope. I just need them to pack lunches for my kids this week. And that, for me, is a victory over who I've always been into who God wants me to be.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 13 - Haiti Mission - The Squeeze

The heat and humidity in Ohio has been brutal the past few days. I have been going, going, going.....nonstop since, well, about last Friday. I know better than that, but I keep wanting to do more with my kids, or my friends, or at work, etc.

So I started feeling "squeezed" yesterday morning as I was driving to Wapakoneta for a final pre-trial hearing in a custody dispute with my ex-husband. I really don't like conflict and any court precedings make me incredibly anxious. Courthouses have the ability to make me feel like I have done something wrong, even when I haven't. I knew that this was a formality and that nothing any worse than the visitation schedule I already have was to come. The uneventful trip was over quickly....with a continuance and a new date for another hearing in hand, I headed back to Columbus.

The "squeeze" had eased up some, but I still was feeling anxious and under pressure. I had been praying all day, but at some point I had begun praying "spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me." I know it's part of a song, but for the life of me I don't remember which one or even how it goes. I just like the idea of the Spirit of God falling fresh. New. Renewing me. As I placed myself into the hands of the Holy Spirit, the squeezing began to loosen up, until I was overcome with relaxation. Renewed. Fresh.

Today, I'm experiencing the "squeeze" of physical pain and the "pinch" of self-conviction. I had to tell my boys that I didn't feel well enough to take them to the pool tonight. The heat and humidity has made my pain increase a little more each day. It breaks my heart to have to back out on plans with my kids. Now as a person with chronic illness, it's just a fact of life that any commitment I make is not set in concrete, but that's hard to explain to an 8 and 10 year old. Sometimes it's hard to explain to adults. The waistband on my pants is causing significant pain and they won't let me go to work pant-less. I've asked. But that's where the pain level is. Hurts to sit, hurts to stand, hurts to walk. My wonderful bed is comfortable, but I can't carry it around with me.

So here I am, feeling defeated, like I'm incapable of caring for my kids just because of this day. The rain started about an hour ago, so thankfully the pain should ease in the next 24 hours. Tomorrow will be a new day to try again. God's mercies are new each day. I need to start showing myself the same kind of mercy each morning as well.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Day 9 - Haiti Mission - Desperation

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" ~Matthew 6:27
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." ~1 Peter 5:7

Okay, I admit was the day. What day are we on? Day 9. Mark it on the calendar. It only took Jacque 9 days to fall into complete insecure desperation. What causes it? That's simple. Nothing. Simply not knowing, not connecting. That turns into feeling ignored and feeling unloved and unneeded and unwanted.......and the snowball runs down the hill getting bigger and faster until BOOM! It hits a tree and explodes. That's the way my mind works. Today was Ka-BOOM.

Ahh, but where does the snowball start? That's easy, Satan himself is sitting under my window carefully crafting snowballs and handing them to me one at a time until he can get one to take off.....down the hill......For the most part I have been able to throw them in the sink and they melt, no harm done. Today, however, was the day I was carefully examining each snowball and how well they threw and how well they rolled until eventually one or two took off.....down the hill......

I hadn't talked to my husband in a couple of days and after the first day, I began examining the snowballs. First one - he's busy, or maybe that's what he wants me to think. Maybe he's having a really good time and doesn't want to ruin it by talking to his wife. Second one - he's not feeling well, he's laying down, someone else is there taking care of him and his thoughts and attention are with them. Third one - I've said something to upset him and now he's not going to talk to me for a while to teach me a lesson .........blammm.....down the hill.......

BUT......the beauty in this lesson for me is that I can let the snowballs go. You see, today for the first time, I have just sat and allowed the Holy Spirit to bring His peace down and cover me. (for all you guys who missed service this week, check out Rich Nathan's sermon this week at, click on sermons.) And as I went through the day, my desperation for contact with my husband became desperation for contact with Jesus. A supernatural peace. A peace I have very rarely experienced in my Christian walk. The more I resisted attempting to contact my husband, the more peaceful I became. Until I realized that I hadn't been worrying about any of it for a good part of the afternoon. Quite a revelation.

My husband is doing well. He's feeling better. He's eating and sleeping. There are some kinks in the plan, but it's God's plan and it will work out just the way God intends. I need to have as much faith in God's plan for me as I do for God's plan for Chris. That's for sure.

So for now, I'll watch as the devil throws snowballs at me and as they roll down the hill. The only difference is that I'm not in the middle of the snowball to reap in the destruction at the end of the run. I'm just gonna let the snowball come and go, throw it in the sink to melt and drain away. No snowball is going to throw me off course any more. Because now, I'm desperate for Jesus, not desperate for emotion and attention. He's got eveything I need.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 8 - Haiti Mission - Drowning out the Lonlies with Friends

"Oh the Lord is good to me.....and so I thank the Lord,
for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the apple tree.

I remember singing that song at Girl Scout Day Camp. Today, as I was sitting lazily on a boat amongst friends that I consider family, the song kept running itself over and over in my head. I am blessed. Truly blessed by friends who want me to be happy. And what I mean by happy is, well, to not be sad and alone for an extended amount of time. Yes, today, the Lord was good to me for giving me the friends I need, the sun and the rain and TONS to eat. The Lord was good to me. I firmly believe that your family is who you choose for them to be. I'm not close to my extended family. Not a bit, but I have friends who would be there for me in an instant and pull me from a burning building (perhaps started by an unattended dryer....Melissa....), and most importantly not let me go out in public wearing "that". You know what I mean. That's who I spent the day with yesterday and today. Some of the greatest friends in the world who I gladly call my family.

And in the midst of that surrounding, everything faded away to a single voice in my head that said..."now you're starting to get it."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day 6 - Haiti Mission - Growing Pains

"Be still, and know that I am God;....." Psalm 46:10

There have been many discussions that I have had with close friends about how I feel like I'm a toddler to God. You know what I mean....hearing Him tell you to do something and responding, "but I don't waannnntt toooooo." Growing in the Lord requires discipline, faith, trust.....and pain tolerance. There are many times that I've gone through spiritual growth that I've told the Lord...."ya know, I'm good, I don't really need to grow any more, do I?" That's because just like anything worthwhile, it's work and sometimes it's painful. Without doubt, my relationship with Christ has always been strengthen and nurtured once on the otherside. But sometimes it's the getting through that seems unbearable.
I look at the title and think...."Wow, only day 6, eh?" It feels like so much longer. I've had some attack in the past 6 days, but have been able to handle it and pray over it and keep myself in check regarding my marriage and my husband. What I wasn't expecting and I am having trouble handling is how much I miss my husband. I miss the sound of his voice just having him in the house. We use Skype, but due to the bad connection and a microphone issue with his computer, he always comes across sounding like a robotic chipmunk. Not quite as comforting as I sometimes would hope for. So last night, after a long day of work and not being able to talk with him like I wanted to, I was irritable, and frustrated, and I know I took it all out on him.

Let me be very clear.....that is NOT the kind of wife I want to be and it is NOT the kind of wife that my husband deserves. I understand that I'm human and that we all have moments, but I am very disappointed in myself and disappointed that I can't keep my emotions under better control. It's been very clear to me that this was a trip that I really needed to handle with complete faith and surrender to the Lord. I tend to "freak out" in my husband's absence. The Lord has been very clear that I should NOT be a burden to my husband during this time, that I should not cause any unnecessary stress for him. Today, I'm needing to keep that calling in check. Wow, as I sit here it dawns on me that this is service as well. I'm trying with all that I am and all that I have to be obedient to what God is asking me to do, no matter how difficult it is for me emotionally. I tend to think of it in terms of the scripture above "Be still". One of the things I love about God is how he works through other people to get the message across. Today, my best friend told me to "Shut up." Now my BFF is a gal of great poise and good manners, so I know that this did not come from her. But she's right....He's right....I need to shut up. It's part of the growth, to take the loneliness and fear to Him, not to my hubby.

You know, I don't mind having old wounds ripped open for the sake of growth.....especially when I have Christ as my Neosporin. You know, heal quicker....scar less.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 4 - Haiti Mission - Finding the Morning in Mourning

God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left. Lamentations 3:22-24 (The Message)

I firmly believe that at some point every Christian has somewhat of a "crisis of faith". I've found personally that it usually simply starts with the question "why?" This morning a had a brief questioning of why. I wouldn't consider it a crisis of faith. Just a "why?"

One of the most difficult moments I encounter as a believer is answering the questions....the really HARD questions....of the nonbeliever. The "why's". It makes it harder to help others when you have the same questions. What makes the difference? Faith. Webster's dictionary defines faith as: (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust. In Martin Luther's German Bible of 1522, Martin Luther says ~ Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace, so certain of God's favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. That's the kind of faith I want to have.

Today, I don't have an answer to the "why." My heart is heavy and grieving for my beloved sister-in-law and her family as they mourn the loss of a child. I pray that God will meet her right where she is, not to explain, but to show her that He's always been there and that nothing happens in this world without His knowledge and his divine permission. To help nurture her faith. I will glady be there to help decipher the "why" if she needs me, but I pray that God will give her the comfort she so desperately needs.

Do you, wonder why you have to, feel the things that hurt you,

if there's a God who loves you,where is He now?

Maybe, there are things you can't see, and all those things are happening

to bring a better ending --some day, some how, you'll see, you'll see.

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,that you still have a reason to sing.

'cause the pain you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming.

So hold on, you got to wait for the light,

Press on, just fight the good fight

Because the pain you've been feeling, it's just the dark before the morning.

~Josh Wilson

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 3 - Haiti mission - Going it alone, sort of

"in you I trust, O God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me." ~Psalm 25:2

There are areas of all of our lives that we have serious difficulties trusting God with, right? You know I'm right. What is it? Money, work, media, family? I know that I have my fair share of areas. A lot of areas. Tonight, my struggle is with placing my son in the care of God. Now, this has not always been the case. When I was first divorced, I was completely sold out to Christ. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God went with my son wherever he went and had complete faith in my Lord. When I was wavering, all I needed to do was turn to Psalm 121:7-8 "The Lord will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." Today, I can honestly say, I think my faith is wavering. Have I grown comfortable or complacent? I really don't know. All I know is that I'm in a custody battle and that I'm finding it difficult to trust God to make the right decision. Crazy. Even crazier that I know it's crazy.

I was having coffee with a good friend one day and she was talking about how we should be holding ALL things with an open hand. Everything we have belongs to God....our husbands, our children, our jobs, our homes......everything. It all belongs to Him. He is free to do with it what he wishes. He can take any of those things at any time he chooses. The question is, do I trust Jesus enough to see me through whatever His decision is? So in other words, God can choose to ALLOW me to lose this battle, but do I have the trust in God to believe that it will all work out for his glory? No, I don't. That's my struggle. I would honestly, at this point, believe that God is wrong. I don't mean that as blasphemy, only honesty. As parents, we firmly believe that we know what's best for our children......especially compared to what the "ex" thinks is best. But to put that into perspective, for myself if for no one else, doesn't God feel the same way? As my parent, doesn't he know what's best for me? So if He decides that this is what's best, who am I to argue with my Heavenly Father?

I spoke with Chris last evening for a nice length of time and briefly today. The internet connection is still hit or miss. He is adjusting to the climate and the taste of the water. I'm calling on Jesus to help me realize that I'm not going through this fight alone, even though without my husband by my side, it feels very much like it did 7 years ago. Oh, don't get me wrong, I know my husband is very supportive and we are still making decisions together and talking it over. But the one thing that remains the same even in Chris' absence, God still goes with me. He was there 7 years ago, and He's here today. It's just a matter of opening up my hand again to this part of my life. Without realizing it, I have closed a tight fist around my kids. My boys are the possession of the Lord, not a possession of mine. Yes, he has asked me to be a good steward of their lives, teach them in the way they should go, discipline where needed, and show them love, but ultimately, they belong to the Lord. So I pray that the Lord would increase my faith, help me to trust Him more. He's got this one.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 2 - Haiti Mission - Ohio Thunderstorms, the pain they cause, and pride

"Just because it looks pretty outside, doesn't mean you're feeling pretty." ~Shannon Ghizzoni, Physicians Assistant, Columbus Arthritis Center

As my eyes fluttered awake this morning to the bright sunlight streaming through my drapes, it didn't take long for me to realize that the sunshine outside didn't mean that moving for me was going to be easy on the inside. I remembered the storms moving through last night, but I wasn't prepared for the pain this morning. It's Sunday, which means a huge range of emotions for me regarding the day, but the most evident today is guilt. Not that I believe that God would ever condemn me for not being in church every Sunday, but I do believe that there are people in the church and even friends and family that pass judgement when I mutter those 4 insignificant words, "I'm not feeling well." So, I spent the morning in battle with myself about how hard I want to push myself today. Unfortunately, the pain won and I crawled back into bed.

There is a bad habit I have do I say it....not giving the most accurate representation of my pain. Yeah, I think that's a good way to put it. In the past 2 weeks, the heat and humidity have caused pain to rage through my body incessantly. Have I talked about it? Not a lot. I've taken a lot of medication and gone on my way. Like, dangerously overmedicated? No, it just means I've taken more than I normally need to. You see, here's the thing. I don't want my husband to think that I can't handle life without him. Yep. Totally a pride issue. As a matter of fact, I don't want ANYONE to think that I can't handle life without him. I don't want anyone to think that I can't handle this life, this pain, at all. Period.

So here's the downward spiral.....that means that eventually as people see you continuing to push through each day without even as much as a wince of pain, they assume that when you finally decide to succumb to the disease that you must be exaggerating. In other words, "It can't possibly be that bad." Oh, but it is. And it's at that point, in complete helplessness that the Lord humbles me and brings me back to where I need to be. Matthew 6:6 says "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." My most intimate moments with God are the ones where I have been down on my knees, in the dark, surrendering everything to Him because I'm finally resigned to the fact that there is no more that I can do. Should I let it get to that point? Nope. Totally a pride issue.

I spoke with Chris briefly via Skype last night. The connection was bad, and I couldn't really understand much that he was saying, but I am delighted that he has made it safely to his destination. As their work there progresses, I am confident that the communication abilities will improve. As for now, I don't know when I'll talk to him again. My heart is aching for my husband, but I was reminded by a wonderful friend that this is God time and I need to relax and abide in Him. I have abstained from crying and being emotional for days/weeks/months now as a matter of pride. To prove to my husband and my mother and my friends and my family and everyone who doesn't really matter that I'm strong enough to do this. When the truth is, I'm not. I have physical limitations that are going to hinder me every day that he's gone. And the truth is, I need Jesus because he strengthens me supernaturally. When I ask him to come and strengthen me for the minute, the hour, the day, He does. All glory to him that is made strong in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). So today is the day....the day I stop and let His grace cover me. Today is the day that it all comes to a head. In the presence of the Great Physician, Comforter I surrender my physical pain and today, in this moment, my emotional pain.

"This is where the healing begins. This is where the healing starts. You come to where you're broken within....the light meets the dark." ~Tenth Avenue North, "Healing Begins

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 1 - Haiti Mission - Departure Day

"To be liberated in Christ, we've got some sacrifices to make. Make sure He's the one asking for it, but if he is, any sacrifice you make will be wholly consumed by Him as such a sweet sacrifice. He will bless." ~Beth Moore, "Breaking Free"

Sometimes, we sacrifice and it takes a while for it to sink in that we are truly making a sacrifice. I never considered that I was being asked by God to sacrifice the time, love, and presence of my husband when he is asked to serve God's kingdom as a missionary. My husband is truly spiritually gifted to serve. He serves without question as to why or what for, and four years ago I couldn't have imagined that God would see me through to this place in my life. Through mission trip after mission trip, God has prepared me to be the wife of a missionary of this magnitude without me even realizing it. It wasn't until recently that I have come to realize that my sacrificial giving and understanding of this situation has just as much impact on those around me, especially my children, as the impact my husband is having in serving.

Today, my husband leaves for 4 weeks to serve as a skilled tradesman in Haiti. This is the longest mission trip he has taken, and by far the one I have been the most prepared for spiritually and emotionally. Will it stay that way? I doubt it. I mean, lets be honest....I'm a girl, and I'm human. That pretty much sets me up to be highly emotional at some point during this process. A lot of obstacles had crossed Chris' path in the past 24-48 hours and I have no doubt that Satan tried many different avenues to hinder his service. My husband's devotion to the Lord has been unwavering as he said it had never crossed his mind to not go on this trip. Money was raised, supplies were bought, plans changed, devastation occurred, and the whole time my husband put his faith in God's plan and not in his own desires or thoughts of what he thought needed to happen. Oh, what a powerful example he provides for our children about trusting God's plans and I truly believe that the Lord will reward such a commitment.

I have spoken to Chris for the last time stateside, so at this point, I'm not sure when I will talk to him again. That saddens my heart, but at the same time there is comfort and anticipation that when I have no husband to fall on, that I am left to desperately fall at the feet of Christ. Even more so, what does my sacrifice and how I handle it teach my children? Can I help my boys seek Christ in the midst of sadness and what seems like crisis? Can my sacrifice be turned into service right here in my home? I wholeheartedly believe that it can. Sometimes in what seems like a time that you aren't giving enough to God, the Lord is simply calling you to serve your families and to be the mother and caregiver that He has designed you to be.