Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Catching Up on Life

I cannot believe it has been five months since I last posted a blog entry!

Life has been crazy busy, but not so much that I can't stop and catch my breath.

Suzy and Brian are expecting their first child, a boy, whom they named Bennett Lee.
I'm looking forward to being a Grandmother!!!

Joey and Caitlin are coming up on their one year anniversary,

whereas Charley and I will be celebrating 17 wonderful years together this weekend.

I love that it falls on the first Sunday of the month, which means communion Sunday.

The kids, which now includes an Armenian exchange student, are enrolled and ready for high school.

Olivia will turn 14 the first week of school. Where did the time go????

Charley is in the beginning stages of his fourth treatment for myeloma. The other three just didn't do the trick in lowering his protein levels.  The new drug was just released from clinical trials earlier this year. I'm hoping we don't have to go out of state, which is what his doc says will happen if this drug doesn't work.

I will be so glad when winter gets here ... I'm looking forward to cooler weather, our first grandchild .... and ..... no more election junk in the news.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Treasure Them, One By One

I'm not sure why I feel compelled to write this ... but I've learned not to stifle the Spirit when I get a nudge to do something.  I'm sure a "title" will come to me by the time I finish writing it all out. (as you can see, it did)

For some reason I'm suppose to share about pain ... more specifically my life with pain ... which started about 22 years ago.  It's hard for me to believe that it's been that long.

I started out having pain in the joints of my fingers and thought maybe I was just "inheriting" the family genetics for arthritis. That pain spread throughout my entire body so that I pretty much felt like I had the flu, all the time. I quickly learned that if I "overdid it" then I would feel more like I had been hit with a Mack Truck. Being a single-mom to three very active children, and working full time, made it difficult not to "overdo" things.

My doctor was concerned and sent me to a specialist, who did some blood work, which showed elevated levels of ANA, meaning that my body was indeed fighting "something" ... so we tested for lupus, lymes, rheumatoid arthritis and various other diseases.  Thankfully I did not test positive for any of those things. The specialist that I went to poked me all over and after asking certain questions diagnosed me with fibromyalgia (FMS). Having a name for what was ailing me helped, but once I started doing research on what that particular diagnosis meant ... well, it was very discouraging.

I was put on the typical regime of pills to help me sleep better at night. FMS sufferers need that "deep" REM sleep that releases hormones from various organs to aid in healing your muscles from everyday wear and tear. I did feel some improvement, as in a bit less pain and fatigue, but the realization that the pills I was taking would eventually stop working and need to be increased, along with the very expensive blood work that needed to be done every six months, led me to look for alternative solutions.

I searched out support groups and message boards for other fibro sufferers and found them to be very depressing. What worked for one person did not work for another and the remedies were often expensive or difficult to maintain. So, I made a choice ... since there was no cure ... I would just endure and move on ... adjusting my schedule so that I would not have "fibro flares" and working around the daily pain.

There were a few times along the way when I would get really tired of putting on a brave front and take something to get a break from the pain.  I don't mean tylenol or ibuprofen ... that barely takes the edge off ... I mean taking something that requires a prescription. But even the non-narcotic relievers eventually stop working and require a higher dosage, so I put myself at risk whenever I take anything.

There was one pill that is marketed for fibro sufferers that worked remarkably well, so well in fact that I ended up hurting myself without knowing it ... I was outside pulling weeds and enjoying the ability to stoop, stand, bend over and walk with no pain whatsoever ... and then later in the day I noticed that underneath all my fingernails were purple bruises from where I had tugged the weeds too hard ... the pill numbed the nerve endings so well that I was worker harder than I realized.

Philip Yancey wrote a book called, "The Gift of Pain", which talked about leprosy and how not feeling pain caused people with that disease to not realize that they had hurt themselves, so they had the potential to end up doing serious harm to their body, sometimes requiring amputation.  My experience with the one pill definitely showed that not being able to feel any pain at all could cause more harm than good. Along the way I eventually had to ask myself, "why do you really need to be completely pain free anyway?"

So, what's it like being me? I wake up exhausted, even after a "good night's sleep" (which for me means no insomnia that night). I ache from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, all day long ...

(okay, mentally unblocking so I can take inventory)

I can literally feel the tight ache in my scalp ... in the bones around my eyes ... in my skull and in the muscles of my neck ... I feel the knots in my shoulders and all the joints in my arms ... I feel every digit in my fingers ... I feel the tightness across my lower back ... my hip bones ... throbbing knees ... tense muscles in my calves ... throbbing ankles ... feet ... toes ....

If I really focus I can find some pain free areas ... like my eyebrows. *smile*

Okay, back to blocking it all out ....

I was working full time, years ago, but I missed one of my Sunday afternoon "crash naps" (to attend an award ceremony) and ended up not being able to get out of bed the following Tuesday ... I literally could not lift my head off the pillow ... and Donovan was in a crib across the hall.  For the first time in ten years I had to call in sick. That scared me. I knew then that I needed to make a decision on what was really important ... I needed to be a Mom and I needed to be a Wife, but I did not "need" to be a Secretary.

Most people, when they look at me, have no idea how much pain I'm in ... and I see no point in telling them. I just live my life and do the best I can to keep up with my duties as a wife and mother.  From time to time I have worked a part-time job, but eventually it catches up to me and I have to reassess what's important again.  Even being a foster-parent required pacing out how often we took in children.

I like to help out and volunteer my services ... like with our church's meal ministry ... although after a couple of hours setting up, serving food or washing dishes, my feet will start to cramp ... regardless of what shoes I wear (even going barefoot doesn't help) ... so, then I'll be busy flexing my feet, working out the cramps ... and looking like a toddler doing the "gotta go" jig.

I wish I could do more ....

Like my brother, Paul, I've prayed for this thorn to be removed, but it's not going anywhere ... and at this point I really don't care anymore ... I think about heaven a lot ... and that "Day" when I will no longer have this pain ... I really don't like having these limitations put on me, but I know that they are there for a reason ...  and God's grace really is sufficient ... I just trust Him ... taking each day as it comes ... and treasure them, one by one.

Friday, March 9, 2012


We are studying the book of Revelation during our Wednesday evening service. It's fascinating, even exciting, to talk about the end of the age, the great tribulation, and the Lord's return.  Over the years my thoughts about one particular aspect of end time teaching has changed. There are several views, or interpretations, regarding the rapture. The rapture has been classified into the following categories: pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib and pre-wrath.  The following scriptures are why I believe the way I do now ....  

First, a reading from Matthew, chapter 24:3-22, 29-31.

While He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached Him privately and said, "Tell us, when will these things happen? And what is the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?"  Then Jesus replied to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Messiah.' and they will deceive many.

You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet.

For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.

There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All of these events are the beginning of birth pains.

Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of My name.

Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.

Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold.

But the one who endures to the end will be delivered.

This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come.

So when you see the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place" (let the reader understand), "then those in Judea must flee to the mountains!  A man on the housetop must not come down to get things out of his house. And a man in the field must not go back to get his clothes. Woe to the pregnant woman and nursing mothers in those days! Pray that your escape may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For at that time there will be great tribulation, the kind that hasn't taken place from the beginning of the world until now and never will again!

Unless those days were limited, no one would survive. But those days will be limited because of the elect.

Immediately after the tribulation of those days: The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not shed its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the celestial powers will be shaken.

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the peoples of the earth will mourn; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

In the book of Revelation, chapter six, when the fifth seal is opened, John sees, "under the altar the souls of those slaughtered because of God's word and the testimony they had. They cried out with a loud voice: "O Lord, holy and true, how long until You judge and avenge our blood from those who live on the earth?"

They are given a white robe and told to "rest a little while longer until the number of their fellow slaves and their brothers, who were going to be killed just as they had been, would be completed."

In the very next chapter, John sees an angel go out to seal 144,000 "slaves of God" on their forehead. These are from the 12 tribes of the sons of Israel.  Then he sees a "vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb."  When he is asked, "Who are these people robed in white, and where did they come from?"  He replies, "Sir, you know."

Then he is told, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation."

After the seventh seal, and the seven trumpets we are told about the beast who "deceives" and "requires everyone - small and great, rich and poor, free and slave - to be given a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark: the beast's name or the number of his name."

After all of these things, in chapter 14, we see an angel "flying in mid-heaven, having the eternal gospel to announce to the inhabitants of the earth - to every nation, tribe, language, and people."  Then another angel who warns against anyone taking the mark or worshiping the beast.

In verse 12 the angel says, "Here is the endurance of the saints, who keep the commandments of God and the faith in Jesus."

Then John hears a loud voice from heaven saying, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on."  "Yes," says the Spirit, "let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!"

Here is where I pause, and ponder, and hope.  "Then I looked, and there was a white cloud, and the One like the Son of Man was seated on the cloud, with a gold crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand."  An angel comes out of the sanctuary and says to the One seated on the cloud, "Use your sickle and reap, for the time to reap has come, since the harvest of the earth is ripe."  So the One seated on the cloud harvested the earth.

After this we read about the bowl judgments, which are the "seven last plagues" in which God's wrath will be completed.  And thus, Babylon falls and heaven exults.

Revelation, chapter 19, invites us to share in the marriage feast of the Lamb.  His wife "has prepared herself" and "was permitted to wear fine linen, bright and pure."  Verse 8, "For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints."

The rider, who is called "Faithful and True" appears, on a white horse. On his robe and on His thigh is written, "King of Kings and Lord of Lords."

Then we read about the beast and the false prophet being thrown alive into the lake of fire, satan is bound and the saints reign with the Messiah.

Who are these saints? these are the ones "who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of God's word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands."

Second Timothy 2:11-13, "This saying is trustworthy: For if we have died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He will also deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself."

James 5:10-11, "Brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord's name as an example of suffering and patience. See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job's endurance and have seen the outcome from the Lord: the Lord is very compassionate and merciful."

Everything I've read has warned me to be prepared for suffering, persecution, tribulation, even death.  I also know that God's wrath will not be poured out upon His children. It will be poured out on the unbelieving, degenerate worshipers of the beast.  So, in my studies of end times I have come to share the "pre-wrath" view.  I take great comfort in knowing that I will not be alone during any trial. Just as my God was with Noah, the Israelites in the wilderness, Daniel, Esther, Peter, Paul, Timothy, John and all the saints before us ... He WILL be with me.

Mark 13:13, "And you will be hated by everyone because of My Name. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered."

Monday, February 13, 2012

Living in Obedience

Olivia came into our lives in the merry month of May.  She was in Kindergarten at the time. For a child who lived in a car, hotel, shelter or wherever her parents could manage to stay, she had little, if any, experience with a typical "Sesame Street" preschool education.  Her exposure to school opened up a whole new world of knowledge and imagination.

After a happy summer adjusting to her new home, she started First Grade, joining her big brother on the bus, delighting in a whirl-wind of activities.  It wasn't long before I noticed a trend in the papers she brought home. The papers that she did in class were all one hundred percent correct, however, the papers she did on her own were less than half right.  I worried about her falling behind, especially since she was already at a disadvantage with her prior limited knowledge.  Not to mention, she was still acting out experiences that should have been part of her "typical" toddler years.

In the background of my mind was a nudge, a calling, if you will, from God, telling me to take the children out of school and teach them at home.  Two of my children had already graduated from public school and one was in high school, close to graduating.  The idea of teaching the youngest two at home would be new and different.  I was a Teacher's Aide for almost ten years, so I felt up to the challenge and figured that if God wanted me to do this, then He would help me though it.  My thinking was that He wanted me to take them out during their middle school years, but seeing how much Olivia was struggling I knew He wanted me to start teaching them as soon as possible.

We started out with separate grade levels, Donovan going into 3rd and Olivia into 2nd grade.  It wasn't long before it just made sense for the two of them to work their subjects together.  The added bonus to teaching them at home was that Olivia had a chance to bond with us, which I think is what attributes to most people thinking we've had her since birth.

So, here we are seven years later, and suddenly my world has been turned upside down.  That nudge, or calling, if you will, from God, is now telling me to put them back in public school.  After the initial shock wore off, over the course of the day, I got pretty emotional and could not stop the tears.  I have grown very comfortable having these two at home.  I enjoyed learning new things with them and seeing their excitement over the things they were learning.  I can see the benefits of them going to high school, but I selfishly want them with me.

Once I was able to carry on a decent conversation without dissolving in tears I told the kids what was going on.  We addressed any questions or concerns they had and talked about how easy it is to "trust" God when we don't have any challenges.  Going to school will give them many opportunities to stretch their faith and put to the test what they really believe.  Then we looked at the courses that are available and talked about what areas they might be interesting in pursuing.  It's going to be a big adjustment, and I'm pretty sure that Fall will arrive far too quickly, but I think we're going to be okay ... because we are living in obedience.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Six years of uncertainties, doubts, fears and healing.

Six years of fighting, struggling, questioning, 

then finally resting, trusting that He really does know best

and it will all be for good.

Suddenly, a letter arrives, 

with a picture of a guy, 

hugging a tree, 


I had picked out his name many moons ago, 

for "when" not "if" ...

it seemed too good to be true, 

that this guy would be picked, chosen, if you will, 

by the One who knew what was best, 

and indeed it was a much better choice 

than the one made which caused a great deal of heartache and distress 

for ten long years.

Joy overflowed from everyone who joined us in celebrating our union 

and new life together, 

a humble affair, but so rich in love,

and what makes for a "happily ever after" ending.