Thursday, December 15, 2016

Into Introversion

I'm feeling so isolated these days.  I have had to back away from any form of ministry except to my kids and husband.  I am naturally introverted and I can feel myself becoming more and more introverted.  Have you ever been alone so much that you forget how to talk to people?  You make crazy interpersonal fopauxs when you go to the store or are out after a long time??  It's crazy and embarrassing.  I want
to re-enter the world, but when I do, if I overdo at all, then I end up bedridden for a couple weeks.  Overdoing means talking to several people at church, or trying to understand conversation in Hindi for an hour, or even just doing mental work for a couple hours at home.  It doesn't take much.

My body cannot handle stress anymore. I never realized that working on mental work was stress.  Or talking to people after church.  Or driving for an hour.  Or...  just about anything it seems.  I pray to God He restores my body.  But like Apostle Paul, I am learning to be content in whatever situation God allows.

I prefer to be well, but that means I'm a hermit.   God help me to dig into your Word. Help me rest in the reality of You. I know that when I am alone and unable to be with friends, that you are with me and I am not really alone, ever.   You are constant. Even when I cannot read the Bible or remember what I read. You are with me.  I love the Mandisa song by that title, "You are with me."  You are with me.  Help me walk in the spirit here in whatever circumstances I am in and bring glory to You even in the silence of my house right now.  To give You praise and glory for You are Good. and You are faithful. And I will worship You.  I love You. And I need You...always.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Back to Abiding

Four years ago, I fell ill with two autoimmune diseases.  My life went from being active to being sedentary in a matter of days.  The steroid medication I needed to curb the inflammation of these diseases caused it's own trouble: full body swelling (I went from size 10 to 1x within a month), my face changed into a moon shaped face,my hair kept falling, I had pain all over my body, and fatigue made it hard to do even the most simple tasks (ever feel like you are walking through knee deep thick mud with every step?). My medicated and foggy brain did not allow me to remember or focus on anything I read.  So I put the Bible aside and worked at fixing my mind on the truth I have known and waited for God to bring me through.  His truth sustained me. The truth He taught me in the years before.

Four years later, I am able to drive and am starting to read my Bible.  I still get fatigued and have pain sometimes, but it is not nearly as bad.  I'm able to attend church sometimes and I can go shopping with my daughter.  I still have a hard time being around too many people, especially people I do not now. It just takes too much energy still.  But Today, I have the morning to myself.  Our sons are settled in their own apartment in another city. Our daughter is at school and my husband is out at a meeting.  I have quiet time and I am enjoying it.  I spent time in the Word this morning and reflected on faith and the closeness of God.  I have not always "felt" close to God during this illness.  Some days I tried not to feel at all.  I would drown out the pain with movies or shows on Netflix.  I would wait until I could regroup and regain composure, lessen the pain and re-enter family life.  But today I am reminded that even though at times I did not feel close to God, God was always close to me.  He was in me. Going through this sickness with me.  And I was in Him.  Held close and protected as He allowed me to go through this process.  God allowed this time of sickness and I pray He will show me more and more what He wants me to learn, how He wants me to grow.  I'm sure He has grown me in ways I cannot even see or am aware of.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Regaining Strength

For three years I have struggled physically with autoimmune diseases. I am finally beginning to feel better.  Strength is returning. I'm off medications.  Now I need to rebuild my body. I begin physiotherapy today and must refocus on my diet. You may have noticed that it's been difficult for me to write.  My mind has been foggy from medications, my body has been plagued with pain and fatigue. I'm very grateful for my family loving and caring for me. I'm grateful for my friends who have stood by me, those who visited and messaged me.  Having a chronic illness was a new and very challenging journey for me.  My main goal these past three years was to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus as the author and perfecter of my faith. 

Now I hope to write again and to learn and dig back into the word of God.  
I love the word of God.  I love how my spirit agrees with God's Spirit as I read the word of God.  He speaks to me. He confirms His love, His passion, His supply.  He sustains me through His word.

I started this blog because I had struggled with sensing God's presence and walking in His power.  As I talked with a dear friend, I realized that I had not fully understood the gospel, the actual reality of what the death and resurrection of Jesus means. I had given my life to Jesus years before and God dramatically changed my life. I was saved, but as time went on my life began to lack power.  Joy waned.  And I had a hard time figuring out how to return to what I had known as a new believer. Somewhere along the way, I think I began to work for what I cannot work for.  To strive when striving accomplished nothing.   I needed to learn the secret of abiding in Christ.  

My journey began with focusing on the book of Galatians, led to Ephesians, all through Corinthians, the book of John, 1 John and then I settled in Romans for a long time. The truth of God's amazing salvation and the abundance He gives us in Christ. And now I am back in Ephesians and each line speaks to me.  It sometimes helps  me to personalize the Bible. This is a personalization of Ephesians 2.


 I was dead in my transgressions and sins.  I had lived in them, following the age of this world, the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient, who was at work in me.  All of us once lived among the disobedient in the desires of our flesh, following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses. I was by nature a child of wrath, as were we all.  But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love He has for me (for us), even when I was dead in my transgressions, brought me to life with Christ (by grace I have been saved), and raised me up with Him, and seated me with Him in the heavens in Christ Jesus.  For by grace, I have been saved through faith, and this is not from me, it is the gift of God;  it is not from anything I did, any works of my own, so that I cannot boast in myself.  For I am His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works God prepared in advance that I should walk in them.

Before giving our lives to Jesus, we were dead.  Spiritually dead.  Our bodies were alive, but the core of who we were was dead, separated from the life-giving God.  When we surrendered to Jesus in faith, asking Him to forgive our sin and take it away, God brought us to life with Christ and seated us with Christ in the heavenly realm in Him.  What an amazing reality this is.  This is our home. In Christ. Where there is no sin.  In Christ. Where there is ever lasting joy. Where there is ever lasting peace.  In Christ. Forgiven and made new...forever.  Why?  Because of God's great mercy. Because of His love for us.  Because of His grace. Not treating us as our sin deserves.  This salvation is a gift of God. It is nothing we can earn. We could never be good enough or do enough good deeds to attain this salvation. Only through the blood of Jesus who paid the price for our sin. Only with Him. Only in Him. By grace.  

Thank you God for your great love toward us.  Help this love to sink in. Help us to feel it and to know it's true. To experience life with you in the heavenly realm while we live out this life right where you have placed us.


Ephesians 2
You were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you once lived following the age of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient.All of us once lived among them in the desires of our flesh, following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ[e] (by grace you have been saved), raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. 10 For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Musings

I never realized how difficult it is to keep focused on the Lord when our bodies are sick.  It is certainly a different dynamic.  It becomes harder to read with the meds we must take.  And hard when the body feels badly to want to do anything at all.   Yet, devotion to God, focusing our thoughts on Him and His truth, carries us through like nothing else can.  

Without Him and His truth, I know I would dive into despair or depression.  I would look for something to fix myself, even to abusing pain meds or worse.  I know that without God I tend toward these extremes.  With Him,  I have peace and am learning long-suffering.  I have joy in knowing God is actively working all the events of my life around for good, for me, for my family, for those who still need to know Him.  My heart longs for those I love.  For rich lives in loving God and others to know the God who loves them with an everlasting love.  

I long to be out talking about God, leading people to Him, and actively being involved in the lives of others.  I long to be actively involved in our kids lives, more than just being at home with them, when much of the time I'm resting.  I am painfully aware that they are nearing the age when they will leave our home for good and there is so much I would like to do with them. 

Yet, I know, in the midst of these longings, that God is sufficient for me.  His grace is enough.   His word fills me with light and life.  Especially the Word I have known and continue to meditate upon. His word sustains me.  And every so often I cry out for prayer from close friends, and those prayers lift me up to refocus once again.   

I want to walk through this time in faith.  I want to fall deeper in love with God and trust Him for His timing in healing me fully.  I want to trust Him for our kids futures, and for my involvement in their lives.  I believe God is in control of these things, and even in what He allows, so I know that He will bring good from all of this, good for all of us.  He is good and sufficient, and my provider and lover and friend.  I pray God would deepen these things in me. Deepen my faith. Deepen my contentment. Deepen my love, strengthening me to be who He desires me to be, even through these challenging days.  May my eyes rest on Him. May my heart rest in Him.  May my mind focus on Him.  And may I submit my body to Him for His purposes, whether in sickness or in health.




Monday, March 9, 2015

Walking through Suffering

     After many months, maybe even years now, I decided to write. I think perhaps my story might be an encouragement to someone else who is struggling.  If you are struggling in your life, you are not alone.  I can write now that my mind is clearer from the effect of the drugs needed to treat Giant Cell Arteritis and Polymyalgia Rheumatica, two auto immune diseases I have had for the past two and half years. The first causes inflammation in the arteries that lead from the heart to the brain. I causes severe temple headaches. If left untreated, it can cause blindness and a stroke.  The second causes severe pain in the major muscles, especially thighs, upper arms, low back.  The fogginess may be from the diseases or from having to use prednisone for treatment.  I'm not sure.  Prednisone causes many physical problems including lack of sleep, and it affects brain chemistry and stalls the adrenal, hypothalamus, abd pituitary glands.  The steroid takes over and does not increase when activity or stress increases, so it's very easy to be totally wiped out with very little interaction or activity. Those of you who are on it  know what I am talking about.  It's a blessing in that it saved my eyesight and maybe my life, and a curse in that I now have high blood pressure, had to have cataract surgery, gained about 30 pounds, and have very high fatigue daily.

    Fogginess has made it difficult for me to read the word of God, and remember what I read.  I've had difficulty forming thoughts enough to write them down.  So I have taken a break from trying to write and just rested and focused on what I already know.  The fatigue has made it difficult for me to attend church or visit with more than one friend at a time. With the fatigue comes nausea. These diseases have completely changed the way I live my life, and has impacted each person in my family.
     
     I can tell you, I am very thankful for the truths God sunk into my soul in five years prior to getting sick!  Without these truths, I would have fallen into despair for sure.  I know I could not have withstood the decreases of the steroid which made me feel a little crazy and greatly increased the pain and fatigue.  

    I have hung onto the truths I know and love, and the One who is the truth! That God loves me and that He is in control of this situation. He allowed it and He has a good purpose for it.  He allowed it because He loves me.   Isn't that an amazing truth?  One that was, at one time, very hard for me to grasp.  I know that He will bring good out this very difficult time, for me and everyone affected by my being sick.  I believe He will bring us through this together and make us stronger.  He has already been building compassion in me for people who struggle with fatigue, obesity, and a very limited lifestyle.  I did not understand what fatigue was before I got sick.  How real and debilitating it is and how unexplainable unless you have experienced it. I also didn't realize that weight gain could be caused by medications and sickness, as ignorant as that might sound to some of you. I did not realize how devastating certain conditions and certain medications are on the body.

    The questions often came to mind:  "Did God allow this sickness because of sin?  Had I failed in some way?  Had I been proud, so He shut me down?"  I do not fully know the answer, but God has not brought sin to my mind.  He has brought areas of immaturity that need maturing, like having deeper compassion for people who are going through chronic diseases.  Like, staying focused on who I really am in Christ and not identifying with outward appearance.  Prednisone caused a total shift in my body within about a month!  I went up three sizes of clothing, and went up three bra sizes! (Sorry men for this personal detail.)  This drastic change was shocking.  I didn't recognize myself when I looked into the mirror.  Some have suggested that I stayed away from church or public gatherings because of my weight.  I have to admit it was tempting.  I haven't liked how I look.  But what kept me away was the profound fatigue and sometimes the days in bed following a major use of energy. Talking to people takes energy.  Going to the store. Driving a car.  Even one outing can be debilitating. Recently, on a day I felt better, we had five friends over for dinner.  I mainly sat and listened and enjoyed the testimonies of how God changed their lives. It was a wonderful evening.  But for the next five days I could not get out of bed, I was so fatigued, in pain and nauseous. 

     God provided a couple friends who struggle as I have, to walk with me through this painful time. I am so thankful for these ladies, though we have yet to meet in person.  I met them on a website called Inspire, specifically for people with auto-immune diseases.  These ladies have had a very difficult road. Somehow it helps tremendously to know others have struggled in the same I have.  We took turns encouraging and being encouraged.
  
   I have begun to read the word of God again and am up to John 10.  I love John. I love truths he expresses through his writings, truths he witnessed and walked through with Jesus. (Sorry for the spacing change coming up, if it is distracting.  I could not figure out how to change it, so left it alone.)

   John 10:10 says:  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."  I believe this verse if true for us when we are well and when we are sick.  The abundant life is within, through the power of God within us through the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ His Son.   This life is found in God alone. This is more than a good perspective or positive thinking. It is the power of God living within us and in Whom we live. This power sustains us through insurmountable troubles and anchors our soul in peace.  Without God this walk is impossible.  With Him it is painful and hard, but not despairing or defeating.  With Him, we can walk in victory even when our bodies fail to move.  
     I pray that someone might be encouraged today by these words.  "God would you please speak to someone today who is struggling and alone.  Help them know they are not alone.  You are there.  You will listen.  You will be the anchor in a storm and You will bring them through just as you bringing me through."